Posts filed under ‘Sports’

Someone messed up and it wasn’t Rex Grossman

It’d be easy to blame Rex Grossman for the loss today. He forced a considerable number of passes into triple and double coverage. He chucked up a few desperation passes as he was being dragged down by Carolina defenders as opposed to taking the sack. He made a questionable scramble play with the clock running down. But he also, despite consistently bad field position, led the Bears offense on three scoring drives stringing together big completion after big completion. The Carolina defense blanketed the receivers and swarmed the backfield all game long, but Grossman didn’t seem to care. I dread to make the comparison, but Grossman had moments where he looked like a young Brett Favre with his fiery competitiveness, his willingness to take risks, and his sheer moxie. It was evident the Bears’ secondary could not contain the Carolina offense, a.k.a. Steve Smith, in the first drive. And knowing that, Grossman came out of every huddle gun slinging. He and the Bears knew this was the only way the game could be won. Grossman is the player of the game on the Bear’s side of the ball. Grossman engineered three scores when Eli Manning and his high powered Giants offense couldn’t even engineer one. His performance was both gutsy and timely. Yeah, it would’ve been nice if he would have led the final drive to tie the game. But, at that point, based on the pre-game expectations, he had done enough. He had kept the Bears close in the kind of game no pundit thought the Bears could win let alone stay close. And most of all, he proved himself as the Bears’ quarterback of the future. The Bears defense, especially the secondary, are the ones that deserve the blame for today’s loss. Dubbed as the “best defense in the NFL” and drawing comparisons to the ’85 Bears, Lovie Smith’s squad was damn disappointing. They did a fair job at stopping any sustained drives up the field. The Carolina rushing attack was kept in check for most of the game. The Bears line got decent pressure on Delhomme, although not nearly as much as their last meeting. What killed them was bungling on big plays, especially to Steve Smith. All three of Steve Smith’s downfield catches were made by lapses in the Bears’ secondary. Two of them involved a Bears’ cornerback falling, and the other was a sure interception that was stripped by Smith on the way down. The Bears were cocky. They thought Charles Tillman could handle Smith one on one. And on the second or third play from the line of scrimmage, it was obvious he couldn’t. Tillman both metaphorically and literally fell on his face. Blame could also be issued to the sub par play of the special teams unit. Short kickoffs and shanked punts gave the Panthers consistently good field position. They didn’t even need long sustained drives to score. Furthermore, the Bears’ return unit, by failing to secure good field position, forced the Bears all game to make long drives up the field to score. The Panther’s average field position was at the 36. The Bears best field position all game long was at the 34. If you want to talk about bad performances, talk about the Bears secondary and the special teams unit. Grossman, if anything, kept the Bears in a game that even I thought was over after the first four plays.

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January 16, 2006 at 3:51 am 1 comment

Salvaging the Offseason

The Cubs finally did something right this offseason. After letting the Dodgers leapfrog over them in the Rafael Furcal negotiations, the Cubs have traded for Juan Pierre from the Marlins. According to ESPN, here are the details:

The Florida Marlins have tentatively agreed on a four-player deal that would send Juan Pierre to the Chicago Cubs, for three young pitchers — Sergio Mitre and prospects Renyel Pinto and Ricky Nolasco

The acquisition of Pierre is a good for a few reasons. One, it gives the Cubs a legitimate leadoff threat. Pierre gets on base at a high clip and steals the bags with the best of them. He is also relatively young at 28, which means, barring injury, he has at least 4 more years of peak performance left in him. Two, it makes Corey Patterson expendable. With Pierre at the top of the lineup, we can afford to dangle Patterson and see who is willing to overpay for his “Five Tool Prospect” potential. I’ve grown tired of Patterson’s free-swinging ways in the last few years. He has never hit for a high average at the Major League level and has not demonstrated the plate patience required to be a leadoff hitter an any level. Quite frankly, I’ll be glad when he packs up all his “potential” and brings it elsewhere. Third, it was relatively cheap. Sergio Mitre is the only notable prospect in the deal, and like Patterson, he’s a case of potential and nothing more. Mitre has been generally unimpressive everytime he’s called up from Triple A. In his MLB career, he’s pitched 120 innings with a 6.12 ERA. Last season, it was 5.37, still too high to be considered a drastic improvement. Quite frankly, I was glad to see Mitre and his gay ass goatee leave town. He never amounted to anything here anyways. Acquiring Pierre definitely softens the blow of losing out on Furcal. Both have very similar numbers. At the plate, it’s tough to make an arguement of one’s superiority over the other. Furcal hit for a higher average, about 10 points, and has a slightly higher On Base Percentage, about 20 points, last season. But Pierre, throughout his career, has consistently stolen more bases and struck out less. Defensively, both are superior fielders. Based on their fielding alone, either could be up for Gold Glove consideration at any time during their career. The distinguishing factor on defense is that Furcal has a strong arm while Pierre does not. There’s also the question of need. The exit of Nomar made Shortstop the most pressing need at the moment. Taking that all into account, Furcal probably would’ve been the best pickup, but Juan Pierre is not too shabby either.

December 7, 2005 at 4:16 am Leave a comment

A Shot for the Ages?

A Duke student put up a clip of Dockery’s mirculous shot yesterday night. There’s a link at the bottom of this post if you want to download it. Anyways, watching the shot a few times gave me a greater awareness of the luck involved. It was not even a shot, but a “chuck” from nearly mid-court. Yet, people, all through today, are talking about it being a shot for the ages. I think, at this point, the jury is still out. The formula is usually Big play + big game = history. There is no doubt Dockery’s shot was a big play, but it’s unclear whether it was truly a big game. It was still early in the season. Virginia Tech is no pushover as a member of the ACC conference. I, honestly, don’t think we would’ve dropped that far in the polls. Michigan State already has two losses on the year, one to a strong Gonzaga team and the other, in lopsided fashion, to a mediocre Hawaii team. MSU is ranked 14th. A loss to VT may have put us at 10th – 13th, largely because it was on our home court. This drop is really trivial because, it is still early in the season and we have a number of games against tough opponenents to climb back up, like the matchup against #2 Texas next weekend. Last year, North Carolina lost early in the season to Santa Clara, a relative no-name in Division-I basketball. But with the strength of the ACC schedule, they were able to recover to reclaim #1 and win a national chamipionship. There was no reason that if Duke lost last night, it wouldn’t have been able to do the same. Given, the ACC is a weaker conference than it was last year because of the departure of veteran players on key teams, namely North Carolina, Wake Forest, Georgia Tech, NC State. But all these teams with the exception of Georgia Tech are still ranked not to mention that BC, #6 currently, joined the ACC over the summer. The point is that the game against VT was a loseable game. Laettner’s shot was during the NCAA tournament. No games, at that point, were loseable. A loss would’ve meant elimination. That is not to say that Dockery made any less of an amazing shot because of the game’s low stakes. But it does make the shot more dispensable in terms of our memory and the history books. Plug Dockery’s shot into the formula and I’m not quite sure what you get. Big play + small game = ? Maybe a few Sportscenter reels and a clip on Ebaumsworld. I think the ultimate test is whether remember Dockery and his heroics are remembered after finals and winter break. And the answer is sad, but sure: Probably not. When we fly or drive back to Durham in the January chill there will be many things on our minds: new classes, telling friends about our break, buying textbooks, rushing and pledging. But Dockery and his 40 foot chuck will not be one of them. It will be a afterthought, mere scribbling on the wall of the cavern that is our minds.

Here’s the link if you were a bum and slept through the game like my roomate.

December 5, 2005 at 10:53 pm Leave a comment

P. Hardy Speaks

After the game, I had a pretty interesting discussion with Phil about the team. He rattled off these 5 givens/laws of Duke basetball. They serve as a pretty caustic commentary on certain players and the team in general. But I feel they are true. And as the name of this blog states: the truth hurts.

  1. If JJ comes out hot in the first, he’ll go cold in the 2nd
  2. If we get a big lead at the end of a game, we always play real conservative and blow the lead
  3. shelden will never be the primary option for an entire game. only a half
  4. JJ never has, nor never will be clutch. He’s good up to a point, but he’s not a clutch player
  5. anytime we play an “athletic” team (AKA black team) they will always give us a run for our money

If I have time after finals, I’ll go back and try to provide supporting evidence for each of these points.

December 5, 2005 at 5:34 am Leave a comment

It Must Be College Basketball

I’ll admit that the chuck by Sean Dockery from midcourt was nothing short of miraculous. It was one those heaves that all you hope for is that it will land somewhere near the hoop. There was a lot of screaming and everyone in Cameron charged onto the floor, but quite honestly, there wasn’t much cause for cheer. The game, aside from Dockery’s heroic antics, was marked by subpar play. A few observations:

1) Lax defensive effort

VT’s guards broke us down off the dribble all night. They got good penetration and made good passes for easy scores. It seemed we were simply helpless in defending the passing lanes or playing competent on-ball defense. Either we had a lapse in defenseive focus or…

2) We’re not athletic enough.

VT had a least five dunks in the first half to our zero. I know that’s not very meaningful stat, but I think it shows the disparity in athleticism between VT’s players and ours. VT’s players were continually breaking us down off the dribble, because they were bigger, faster, quicker, and stronger. We were simply overmatched guarding Collins and his counterpart Gordon. It seemed the absence of Demarcus Nelson really hurt us this game. I’m worried if we can’t match VT athlete for athlete, what are we going to do with Texas next week.

3) Shelden Williams should carry this team not JJ Reddick.

Williams was a consistent force all game. He put defensive pressure on VT’s interior scorers. He dominated the offensive paint pulling down offensive rebounds, making shots, and drawing fouls. He was excelent at the line until he missed a key free throw down the stretch. But, remember, that was only after JJ Reddick stringed together the three worst possessions I have ever seen. The truth, simply put,¬† was that Reddick tried to carry Duke, and he couldn’t. He was stripppd once while attempting a closely guarded three. In the second to final Duke possession, he was drove into the lane and tried to put a shot over three defenders while two other players were open on the wing. Reddick has never been a reliable player, and that’s not all his fault. He is a catch and shoot player. He relies on screens and a hot shot to score. If any are off, Reddick is a nonfactor. For that reason, Reddick cannot and should not carry this team. Shelden William should. He should get key posessions down the stretch. The fact of the matter is that¬† Shelden is simply a more consistent and self-reliant player. He dominates the inside of a paint in a way Reddick will never be able to dominate outside the arc. Shelden’s presence on the floor is felt on both side unlike Reddick. Shelden is blocking and rebounding machine aside from his scoring. Reddick rarely contributes in the assist or steals category. Shelden is consistency. Reddick is sheer potential. On a good night, it is no question who scores more points. But most nights aren’t good nights, and we can’t afford to keep on feeding Reddick the ball on an off night like we can with Shelden. On a bad night Shelden makes ONLY 50%. Reddick made 6 for 19 tonight. That’s 32%. It’s simply no contest. Shelden Williams should be the primary option for Duke. And JJ Reddick can be next if and when he’s open and shooting well. When exactly that will happen, I don’t know.

December 5, 2005 at 5:29 am Leave a comment


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