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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

2011 NBA Finals Breakdown and Prediction

While most people are still picking Bar-b-que out their teeth this morning, the Miami Heat prepare to do battle with the Dallas Mavericks for the NBA title. This is the second time for both teams making the NBA finals and ironically enough the last time both made it they faced each other in 2006. A lot has changed since that time but a lot has stayed the same as well. Franchise cornerstones Dwayne Wade and Dirk Nowitzki still play for their respective franchise’s as does to key role players in Udonis Haslem and Jason Terry. Everyone else will be new to championship party including the King himself Lebron James and Chirs “Bosh Spice” Bosh.




The match-ups in this series couldn’t be more fascinating as these two teams feature four of the top 15 players in the world. The first question I asked myself when both teams laid to rest their conference finals foes was who will guard Dirk for Miami? In that same line of thinking my second question was who would guard Lebron for Dallas? Can the two coaches making their Finals debut find a way to gain an edge on his opponent? Can Miami’s superstar cast overcome Dallas’s experience and depth? And finally can Miami’s hard nosed defense contain Dallas’s high-powered offensive attack? A lot of questions will be answered in the upcoming days as the teams face each other.



Now lets breakdown who has the advantages in the most important categories and make a (humble) prediction on who will take the series:



Defense:



Miami may have three of the best offensive players in the world at their position but as the season wore on their calling card begin to be their stifling defense. They ranked 5th in defensive efficiency, 2nd in opponent’s field goal percentage, and 9th in blocks per game. That tells you that the Heat are long and athletic on the defensive side. When you have the perimeter pit-bull combo of Dwayne Wade and Lebron James, you can create endless match-up possibilities. One of Lebron’s most overlooked specialties is his ability to check 1-5 positions on the floor. James has been able guard the likes of MVP Derrick Rose to Portland’s big man Marcus Camby and done so effectively. Chris Bosh and Joel Anthony also are very active and block shots that James and Wade concede, so Miami is always able to get hand in the face of the opposing player. Dirk is the big concern for Miami because of his length and ability to create his own shot at multiple angles (How many times have you’ve seen this guy falling all over the place only to make the shot?). Miami will throw Haslem at Dirk the most because of his quote on quote success he has had in defending Nowitzki. Haslem limited Dirk to 13-of-42 shooting in the 2006 finals. Don’t be surprised if you see James on Nowitzki as well in those crunch moments of the fourth quarter as well. Bottom line is that the Heat play great team defense and its one of the main reasons they are in the finals.



Dallas always has lived with the stigma of having a soft defense that dates back to the early years of Erick Dampier (Who actually is on Miami’s roster now) and Shawn Bradley. They bolstered that department by adding Tyson Chandler who has been a god send for the Mavericks. He has transformed them into a pretty formidable defensive team. The Mavs defensive ranks are comparable to Miami’s as they rank 8th in opponent’s field goal percentage, 7th in defensive efficiency, but only 21st in block shots. The construction of this team makes for a tough veteran savvy team defensively. Lebron creates a match-up problem for Dallas (And every other team for that matter). The Mavs will have to throw bodies at James as they have Shawn Marion, Deshawn Stevenson and even Corey Brewer for Lebron at times. Dallas knows that James, Wade, and probably even Bosh will get theirs. They have to contain them enough to give themselves a chance to win.



Advantage: Miami






Offense:



Miami will always be able to score points with anybody with the combination of James, Wade, and Bosh. The best thing about this unit though is their efficiency. When you have a roster full of superstars the concern always becomes is there enough to go around for everyone to be happy. The Heat check in at 3rd in the league in efficiency as they racked an average of 102.6 points a game. The offensive firepower this team has is on par with some of the best teams that have ever graced an NBA court. James is one best players of all-time (or the potentially the best ever as Scottie Pippen suggested over the weekend), and can breakdown any defense with his size, speed, and court vision. The same goes for Wade as he can make you look silly at times on offense as well (Just ask Kevin Garnett). Chris Bosh has stepped his game up and has matched James and Wade’s intensity. He absolutely took it to Carlos Boozer as he had a couple of 30 point outbursts on the most overrated PF in the game, so look for him to continue his hot steak.



Dallas has been on an offensive tear every since the first game of the playoffs. Dirk’s renaissance has a lot to do with it of course but he now is getting help from some reliable sources on his team that he use to not have. Jason Terry is lethal when left open, Jason (formally “Ason” for no J) Kidd is burying open 3-point shots, J.J Barea is a scat back point guard who obliterates the pick and roll and Shawn Marion is still effective enough to get the job done. This is not even mentioning Dallas’s bench as they can bring spot up shooters Peja Stojakovic and Deshawn Stevenson off the pine. They also have serviceable but overpriced big man Brendan Haywood off the bench. As a matter of fact he and Tyson Chandler present the biggest problem for Miami outside of Dirk. I really am impressed with this offense of Dallas as they have been able to put up points at will against everyone they have faced in the playoffs thus far. Can they continue it against a long and athletic Miami unit?



Advantage: Dallas






Bench:




Miami’s bench has long been the weak link for them this season. Injuries and players not playing to their ability have limited Coach Eric Spolestra’s rotations. Miami’s has used so many different units it makes you think they just aren’t comfortable with certain players on the court, but its hard to blame him when you look down and see Juwan Howard or Erick Dampier looking back at you. They did get a boost in the playoffs as Udonis Haslem has come back and showed what the Heat were missing with his gritty play. Mike Miller has also become more involved of late but his jump shot has still been inconsistent at best.



Dallas has one of the deepest teams in all of the NBA. They can send players at you in waves and tire out a team that isn’t conditioned well or doesn’t have a deep bench. Peja Stojakovic has seemingly found the fountain of youth, J.J Barea is a pest that stays in paint like an insects stay around cookouts, and Brenden Haywood as I mentioned earlier has a chance to become an X-factor in this series. Dallas has the clear advantage in this one.



Advantage: Dallas






Intangibles:




Miami will be chasing only their second ring ever in franchise history. Lebron will be attempting to get his first ring so you know he will be motivated from the start to come out strong against the Mavs. Dwayne Wade has been here before and knows exactly what to expect. Miami’s strong leadership and also motivation for being spotlighted in the media should heed them well. James and Wade both have the “IT” factor and will definitely be locked in for this one.



Dallas has the motivation of losing to this very team last time they were here. They have be relishing the opportunity to get another crack at Miami to avenge their series collapse against them in ‘06. Dirk has a chance to put a stamp on his career and not join the great career but no ring club. I think Dirk will be ready to have the series of his life and cement his legacy. The Mavs have an entire team full of players who have gotten close to holding up the Larry O’Brien trophy but haven’t done it yet. Looking at their roster you have Jason Kidd, Jason Terry, Shawn Marion, and of course Dirk you know these guys know this may be their last shot at a championship.



Advantage: Dallas






Coaching:



Miami’s Erik Spoelstra has been second guessed on everything from his choice of bagel for breakfast to his constant changing of Miami’s starting lineup. He has been rumored on the hot seat and off the hot seat more than an Oakland Raiders coach as everyone expected Pat Riley to jump back into the saddle. But Spo has handled everything thrown at him and has managed to get his team all the way to the championship. His offense creativity has blossomed as time went on as he now incorporates plays for both James and Wade. His team has also bought into his defensive scheme and it shows as they play some of the best perimeter defense in the league. Spolestra will be tested by Rick Carlisle but after everything he has endured this year this last part should be a piece of cake.



Dallas’s Rick Carlisle is a Jim Carrey look-a-like but this guy can really coach. He has always been one of the better coaches since his days in Detroit and it’s good to see him finally break through and reach an NBA Finals. Carlisle out coached Phil Jackson in the conference semi-finals and sent him to Montana for good. He has his team focused and playing great defense that has to make former Dallas coach Avery Johnson proud. Look for Carlisle to try and exploit Miami’s lack of depth by keeping his players rotated in and out of the game. Carlisle also will utilize Dirk in multiple positions on the floor to spread out the defense of Miami.



Advantage: Miami







So there you have it. Miami looks to be a better defensive team and I give Spoelstra a slight advantage over Rick Carlisle in the coaching department. Dallas’s offense and the motivation they have from avenging the franchises lone final appearance against the Heat should give them the edge in those two categories. Everyone that reads my articles knows that I am not a Miami fan, but I do respect them because lets face it they have earned it at this point. This series will come down to Miami being able to rotate defensively against Dallas’s vaunted offensive firepower. Miami will want to keep the games close until the fourth quarter when they can unleash their thoroughbreds in James and Wade. Nowitzki is also one of the best closers in the game as well so it will be interesting to see how that strategy plays out. Miami will try and make some these games ugly with their defensive style as they try and impose their will on the Mavericks. Dallas has to be able to withstand Miami’s defensive pressure but if they are able to create open shots then they have a chance to take the series. If not then the Miami Heat will celebrate on Biscayne Bay with their 2nd championship in franchise history. I see the latter of the two happening.



Prediction: Miami in 7

Friday, May 27, 2011

So it all comes to this: The NBA Finals Dallas Mavericks vs. Miami Heat









vs.


An epic NBA season comes down to a team everyone expected to be here and another no one saw coming. Miami has been the projected favorite every since the announcement of Lebron taking his talents to South Beach. The pairing of James, Wade and Bosh put everyone on notice that Miami would be a team to be reckoned with for the foreseeable future. Their union has been more celebrated than that of Prince William and Kate Middleton. Lebron said in his own words that he came to Miami to win “"Not one, Not two, Not three, Not four, Not five, Not six, Not seven...". James has more than backed his quote as he has averaged 25.2 Points 8.9 rebounds and 5.4 assists. His clutch play and great defense on Derrick Rose against the Chicago Bulls is the main reason that Miami will be playing in their first finals since 2006. Dwayne Wade has averaged a mere 24 points and 7 rebounds himself in the playoffs and after struggling mightily to live up to the standards of James and Wade while enduring most of the media’s siege on the Heat, Chris Bosh (or as some like to call him Bosh Spice) has surfaced and put up a 20 and 10 average in the playoffs. No team over the last ten years except maybe the Lakers of the early 2000s with Shaq and Kobe endured more media scrutiny then this team.



They did bring a lot of that heat (no pun intended) on themselves by saying things like: We enjoy the bullseye. Plus, there's going to be times when we lose 2-3 games in a row, and it seems like the world has crashed down. You all are going to make it seem like the World Trade is coming down again, but it's not going to be nothing but a couple basketball games." (Said Dwayne Wade). Lebron on racism playing a factor in his the backlash he received: I think so at times. It’s always a race factor,” And then there was Chris Bosh’s whole ‘Crygate” situation. This team had no time to learn things together. As soon as the season started they had a bull’s-eye on their back for those statements and gestures they made. The best thing about that is how it made the Heat focus even more and take those shots from the media as motivation. It has served them well and they now find themselves four games away from what Pat Riley envisioned when he blew up his entire roster and signed the best free agent class in history of James, Bosh, and Wade.



Dallas on the other hand could not have been further under the radar going into this season. The L.A. Lakers were anointed by everyone (including myself) as the team that would come out the west and there were no and’s, if’s or but’s about it. Dallas just sloughed through the season without anyone really taking notice because lets face it, we all thought we knew what the Mavericks were about. The injury to Caron Butler only reaffirmed those thoughts as he was their toughest perimeter defender. Not to mention that emerging star Roddy Beaubois broke a bone in his foot and was rendered ineffective for most of the season. Their aging and arthritic roster screamed post-season meltdown with the likes of Shawn Marion (old), Jason Terry (older) and Jason Kidd (ancient). Mark Cuban has never been cheap and he overspent on a few players like Brendan Haywood (six years for $55 Million, really Cuban?) and Tyson Chandler but his willingness to spend has made for a team with experience and depth. Chandler has fortified a once porous nerf soft defense for the Mavs. His contributions don’t always show up in the box score but his energy and hustle as a big man have set the tone many a night in Big D.



The most important factor in Dallas’s run has to be the resurgence of Dirk Werner Nowitzki. The German assassin has always been mentioned in the same breath as the greats of the game today but he always had the monkey on his back of being a choker. Ironically, the team that mostly put that title to Dirk was the Miami Heat. Dirk’s Dallas’ team in 2006 infamously collapsed against the Dwayne Wade/Shaq led Heat team after building a 2-0 lead against Miami. Even though it wasn’t entirely Nowitzski’s fault (The man averaged 27 points and 12 rebounds for the series for goodness sake) he became the scapegoat. When you’re the best player on your team, right or wrong you have to take the brunt of blame. I’m sure Mark Cuban would argue with me that the refs had a lot to do with them losing the series but I’m not buying that. Dirk has had a certain look in his eyes this post-season. They show a man who is determined to clear his name and bring home a ring. He has been nothing short of awe inspiring in these playoffs as he just torched his opponents. He surgically dismantled the Lakers defense with an array of fadeways, pick and pops, and dead on shooting. He did the same against a younger more athletic Thunder team that threw everyone in Oklahoma short of Brian Bosworth at him. Dirk has always had the talent but now he has the will and toughness it takes to win. That’s something that has to be learned and can’t be taught. As evident by his 28.4 points a game this post-season, Dirk has come ready to put a stamp on his legacy. He doesn’t want to join the Charles Barkley, Patrick Ewing, and Karl Malone club of great careers with no ring to show for it club.



It’s hard to imagine that these two teams are facing each other for the second time in six years for the NBA championship. These two teams made their own path to the Finals but both got here. The differences between the two teams are amazing. Miami is the young and flashy crew that make them look like L.A. of the east coast (Joakim Noah said it best “They are Hollywood as Hell.”). Dallas is the old man band of thirty-somethings that no one saw coming. Mark Cuban is one of the most well known owners in any sport and Miami’s Mickey Arizon couldn’t be spotted if he walked right in front of you waving his hands. Miami wins with superior defense and its closers in Lebron and Dwayne Wade. Dallas attacks you at just about every position offensively and will score 150 on you in a heartbeat. Lastly, Miami was supposed to be here, Dallas wasn’t.



In summarizing, this was the most competitive and balanced season I have witnessed. A number of teams had legitimate shots at the title including Boston, L.A., Orlando, Miami and Chicago. Miami went through a gauntlet of challengers in the east as they took down a better than most people know Philadelphia team, the battle tested Celtics and the almost there but not there yet Bulls. Dallas had to endure a tough path as well as they downed the always tough Portland Trail Blazers, the two- time defending champs L.A. and a young up and coming OKC team. Both teams have had to endure there share of turmoil and doubters but in the end all the marbles will be going to either South Beach or Big D. Can the big 3 take the title in their first year of existence or will it finally be Dirk’s day of redemption. One thing is for sure, one of the greats of our time will get there first ring in Dirk or Lebron. The time is now for both men but only one can win. This is a fitting ending to an unpredictable yet highly appealing NBA season.



Editor’s note: I will be breaking down the match-ups in my next post.



Make sure to tune in to blogtalkradio for the Sportaholic Radio Show as special guest Robert Snelling joins me to discuss the NBA Finals and other sports topics this Saturday May 28, 2011 at 3:30 central time.



The link for the show is www.blogtalkradio.com/sportaholic

Thursday, May 26, 2011

NBA Edition pt.2 05/28 by Sportaholic | Blog Talk Radio

NBA Edition pt.2 05/28 by Sportaholic Blog Talk Radio

The Sportholic weighs in on the Lakers hiring of Mike Brown to replace Phil Jackson as their new head coach, is that a good move and what does Kobe really think about it? You don't want to miss my reaction to this one and also we breakdown. We also cover Dirk's resurgence and Oklahoma City (Or as some are saying Choklahoma) collapse. Lastly we take look at the possible matchup between the Dallas Mavericks and Miami Heat in the NBA Finals. Special Co-host Robert Snelling joins me for the discussion make sure to tune in for the best sports talk radio show on blog talk radio.

The Mid-Week Rundwon

I haven’t been able to write as much as I would have liked this week, due to me being in Memphis helping out family and friends affected by the flood. Remember to keep those victims of the Spring tornadoes and flooding in your prayers as they need your strength their this time of need.




Dallas Mavericks march on to NBA Finals: Dallas defeated the OKC Thunder 100-96 last night to reach the NBA Finals for the first time since 2006. Dallas got a dagger 3-point shot by Dirk Nowitzski with 1:14 left to cap a 14-4 run and to seal the series. The Mavs have been the surprise team in the NBA playoffs this year as they knocked off the two-time defending champs L.A and have been on a roll every since. The Thunder are a group of young dynamic players as evident by the exploits of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. In the end Dallas just had too much experience and as the young Thunder wilted under the pressure. The Thunder will be a team to be reckoned with in the future as this lost is only a growing pain that will make them better. Dirk has proved this entire post-season that he wants his ring and he wants it now. The time is now for the German assassin and the rest of the grizzled vets like Jason Kidd, Shawn Marion and Jason Terry. Congrats to Dallas for an outstanding post-season run thus far.



L.A Lakers hire Mike Brown to replace Phil Jackson: In a stunning turn of events, the Lakers brass has found their man for their coaching vacancy signing Mike Brown to a four-year $18 million dollar contract. Brown as you may remember was the coach for the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Lebron years and had an overall record of 272-138 in five seasons that included two Eastern Conference Finals and one NBA Finals trip. Brown was also the NBA coach of the year in 2009. My personal take on the signing of Brown is this: Although he is a defensive wizard (His teams were in the top 10 defensively 3 out of 5 years he coached), his offense scares me because it often was stagnated and went all points through Lebron. Granted, the Cavs really had no choice because Lebron was clearly the best option on every possession. I just hope he can be a little more creative now that he has more talent at his disposal. Also he has the reputation as a pushover in the locker room as seen by his treatment of James. Kobe will be a different animal to contain. You’re talking about a champion and an MVP who doesn’t care that father time has caught up with him. He will still try and take over a game if he feels it necessary. If Brown can somehow found a common ground with Bryant and show some flair on offense then he should be just fine. Lebron’s comments on the hire: Good move.



Local Sports News:



Vandy downs Georgia 10-0: The freshmen duo of T.J. Pecoraro and Kevin Ziomek shut down the Bulldog bats as the Commodores shut out Georgia to opener of the SEC Baseball tournament. The game was actually stopped thanks to the mercy rule that goes into effect when on team leads by 10 or more runs after seven innings. The only negative about the thumping on Georgia was that Pecoraro’s forearm which forced him out of the game in the fourth inning. In came Ziomek, and he was in trouble to start as he inherited a batter that he walked and walked another to load the bases. He would get out of the inning by striking out Curt Powell and Jay Delmonico and kept the 3-0 lead for the Dores. Vandy will now take on number one seeded South Carolina today at 7:30 pm make sure you tune in.



Nashville Sounds Update: Wednesday’s scheduled game between the Nashville Sounds and Tacoma Rainiers was rained out and will be made up as part of an 8 p.m. doubleheader on Thursday. The teams will play a pair of seven-inning games Thursday to close out their four-game series. Right-hander Amaury Rivas (3-3, 3.73) will start for Nashville in the opener and face Tacoma right-hander Blake Beavan (1-1, 5.76). Left-hander Sam Narron (2-1, 3.30) will pitch for the Sounds in the nightcap to square off against Rainiers right-hander Charlie Haeger, who will make his first appearance of the season.



Editor’s note: For more content make sure you go to www.noomizo.com/sports.com as I continue my partnership in covering the sports section for them. Feel free to make any comments in that section as well and I will surely respond.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Eastern Conference Game 2 Quick Observations:

                  Miami 85              Chicago 75








Miami finally defeated the Chicago this season after previously being 0-5 against them. Its wasn’t pretty as both teams struggled to put points on the board but Miami pulled away in the fourth thanks to Lebron James. Miami played with the intensity and heart of a champion last night and the Bulls who had all the energy and extra pep in their step in game 1 couldn’t respond.



Here are a few quick notes on last night’s thriller:



 Udonis Haslem asserted himself as the potential X-factor of the series for Miami. As good as Taj Gibson played for the Bulls in game one, Haslem was even better for Miami in game 2. His contribution of 13 points, 5 rebounds, two assists, one steal, and one block was more than enough to get the Heat over the hump against the Bulls. He is the type of player who doesn’t need to ball to be effective. Every team needs a player like Haslem, who doesn’t mind doing the dirty work the superstars won’t do. His toughness has sorely been missed by Miami this year and if he continues to play at this level, it will be hard for the Bulls to win the series.

 Chicago only shot 34.1 percent and were outrebounded 45-41 by Miami for the first time in five meetings this year. The Bulls usually pound Miami on the offensive glass and it leads to second chance points but Miami finally came to rebound and thus were able to take home court from Chicago.

 MVP Derrick Rose wasn’t on top of his game. He scored 21 points on 7 of 23 shooting (only 2 points in the fourth quarter) and was fell victim to a couple of dunkface dunks by Haslem and of all people Jamaal Malgoire. Rose has to the offensive star that he is in order for Chicago to be able to win. He is only player the Bulls have that can create his own shot and even with Miami double teaming him and trapping his every move, he has to find a way to rise above and show why he was voted the most valuable player this year.

 When two teams are as evenly matched as these two are its all about the hustle, energy and effort. Chicago usually dominates most teams in that department as they did in game 1 against Miami. However game 2 was a totally different story as Haslem led a determined effort for the Heat. Miami was the team that was beating Chicago for loose balls and seemed to win every “50-50” play. Lebron even got in on the action as hit the deck a few times and battled the gritty Bulls for possession of the ball.

 So much has been made about how Lebron doesn’t have that clutch gene (as ESPN’s Skip Bayless so eloquently put it). Lebron nearly outscored the Bulls himself in the fourth quarter as he had 9 point to the Bulls 10. James broke opened the 73-73 tie as he made a tough 3-pointer and another tough shot over Derrick Rose. James fueled Miami’s 12-2 that sealed the game for them. I can remember watching and saying one of the three superstars on the court has to take over rather it be Derrick Rose, Lebron James, or Dwayne Wade (sorry Chris Bosh). It was James and this is the exact reason and moments that he was the most coveted free agent in basketball history. If these games continue to be tough grind it out types that always come down to the fourth quarter (as they should), it will be up to James, Wade, or Rose to finish off the other team. On this night it just happened to be King James getting his due.



Above all else it was highly entertaining game. Miami can now breathe easier as they finally beat Chicago and go back to South Beach tied 1-1. This series will only get more intense as both teams rest up and make adjustments. Next game is this Wednesday night and I can’t wait.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Meet Jake Locker: The Anti-Vince Young

It was only 5 years ago that a highly touted QB from Texas was selected by Tennessee with the third pick in the 2006 NFL draft. At the time, the writing was on the wall for starter Steve McNair (RIP). Injuries and age began to curtail one of the toughest QBs ever. The heir apparent to the Titans QB throne was the scintillating Vince Young. Young was coming off an epic MVP performance in the National Championship/Rose Bowl game that saw him grow into a folk legend in Texas. Young just went bonkers on USC going off for 467 total yards including 19 rushes for 200 yards and went 30 of 40 for 267 yards thru the air. His Rose bowl performance was the icing on cake to one of the greatest college careers ever. Young was 2nd to Reggie Bush in the Heisman trophy voting his senior year and had set numerous NCAA records as he jumped early to the NFL. Titans owner Bud Adams with his Texas ties was captivated by the potential he saw and hand selected Young to replace what most would say was the best Titans QB ever.



As a result of his heroic season and career at the University of Texas, Young was seen as a revolutionary at his position of QB. Never before had the NFL seen such a hybrid mix of athleticism and throwing ability. NFL execs questioned his mechanics but a most thought he would eventually develop into an all-pro in the league someday. Young’s rookie season proved his pundits wrong as he would go on to win Rookie of the Year. Young set the NFL record for rushing yards by a QB finishing with 552 yards and would be named to his 1st Pro Bowl.



Young’s career with the Titans from that point would be considered up and down at best. To illustrate Young’s high and lows take a look at the chart below:



• He was benched for the first exhibition game in 2007 by Head Coach Jeff Fisher after he broke one of the team rules.

• Young led the Titans to a 10-6 record in 2007 and to their first playoff appearance since 2004

• In the first game of the 2008 season Young would injury his knee and refuse to go back into the game after being booed by the home crowd at LP field

• The on field incident would lead to a suicidal episode that Young denies but according to his mother was somewhat true.

• Kerry Collins would be named the starter for the remainder of the 2008 season and he led the Titans to a 13-3 record and the AFC divisional round in the playoffs.

• Young would reclaim his starting job in 2009 after the Titans started a dismal 0-6.

• He led a stunning comeback against the defending NFC champion Arizona Cardinals that cemented his status as the starting QB.

• He started the 2010 season with a 103.1 QB rating through 7 games, second only to Michael Vick.

• In week 11 of 2010 Young was booed again against the Washington Redskins for under performing and would injure his thumb on a throw, resulting in a season ending torn flexor tendon. Young became visibly upset with the coaching staff and trainers after they would not allow him to re-enter the game

• Young would respond by: antagonizing the crowd, throwing his helmet and shoulder pads into the stands, walking past reporters and brushing off a teammate who tried to talk to him before he left the stadium.

• Young would also storm out of the locker room during Jeff Fisher’s post-game speech, reportedly saying he was quitting on Fisher.



The last chapter of events effectively ended the Vince Young experience in Tennessee. The franchise has said it will depart with the 3rd pick of the 2006 draft after and it also fired head coach Jeff Fisher. Young and Fisher never were on the same page and it’s a shame because the relationship never reached a level of trust for either. The two were intertwined even if they didn’t like each other and their mistrust and miscommunication led to both being ousted in Tennessee. Young always seemed to lack accountability, consistency, and the leadership skills needed to succeed in the NFL. By the end of his term with Tennessee, most had labeled him a thin-skinned, injury prone, disinterested, and unstable player. What a turnaround in opinions from when Young was first drafted.





Now enter Jake Locker and newly minted head coach Mike Munchak. Just as Fisher and Young will be forever connected, so will Locker and Munchak. The Titans were said to be enamored with former Washington Huskies’ QB and took him with the eighth pick of the 2011 NFL draft. Locker was the projected top pick in 2010 had he skipped his senior season at Washington. Locker was the most polarizing player in the 2011 NFL draft. His draft stock plummeted his senior year due his regression in passing accuracy. His completion percentage dove from 58.2% as a junior to a disappointing 55.4% as a senior. He had a miserable performance on the national stage against the Nebraska Cornhuskers going 4 of 20 in the blowout loss. Locker would recover from the lackluster performance and lead the Huskies to the Holliday Bowl.



As Locker prepared for the draft, opinions on his NFL potential varied from extremely good to extremely bad. He spent most of pre-draft process working with ex-NFL QB Ken O’Brien on his mechanics and throwing motion. Many questioned his physical reckless abandon style of play as many of his highlights were him running over DBs instead throwing touchdown passes to receivers. Locker was often injured because of his style of play but it also gave him the label of being tough, a word that never associated with Young. And as much as critics criticized Locker’s mechanics and accuracy, most marveled at the intangibles he brought to his team. The one thing that can not be measured at the combine is what makes a player tick on the inside. Former coaches and teammates all raved at the leadership and resiliency that Locker played with. Again these are two things that were never associated with Young. Locker mental make-up seems to be what GM Mike Reinfeldt and Coach Mike Munchak liked best about him.



Furthermore, it seems Tennessee wanted to distance itself away from the Vince Young era as much as possible. The franchise wants to do it so bad that they drafted the exact opposite person in terms of mental construction. Locker in many ways is the anti-Young .He symbolizes everything that Young wasn’t as a tough, hardworking, and leader of men. Young is a great athlete there is no denying that but as it has been proven in the NFL, it takes more than that to cut it as a QB. Young was a celebrated star at Texas who compiled a record of 30-2 and won a national championship. Locker went through a 0-12 season and his teams never contended for the Pac-10 title much less a national title. The more you compare the two, the more you see differences in each other. Locker did not have the success of Young in college but that isn’t such a bad thing all things considered. It might actually turn out to be good that Locker had to face adversity as he will surely face plenty of it in the NFL.



One thing is clear here, the Titans needed a clean slate to start off a new era of Tennessee football. They needed to get someone who was in no shape, form, or fashion what they were trying to get away from. For everything that Young was, Locker appears not to be. Both men are supremely talented athletes but that seems to be the only things they have in common. The Titans took a gamble on guy that they trust to lead the franchise for the future. They may have reached in taking Locker at eight in the draft but they have set the course for a change in philosophy and culture within the locker room. No more VY or Jeff Fisher to blame as the scapegoat. This will be a different team that will hopefully reflect its tenacious former offensive linemen coach Munchak and the toughness and assiduous of its new QB in Locker.



In closing, I believe the Titans selected Locker with the reason of him being the exact antithetical person Young was. The Titans now have a person of strong character that won’t t be distracted every time he is booed or needs to go on suicidal watch after a bad game. Young and Locker’s physical attributes are similar but mentally these two couldn’t be further opposite from one another and that’s exactly what the Titans front-office had in mind. To all Titans fans, meet your future starting QB Jake Locker, the anti-Vince Young.

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Weekend Run-down May 16, 2011

The NBA and NHL playoffs took center stage this weekend as both leagues are now in the conference finals. In the NBA, one of the most anticipated match-ups of the playoffs turned into a laugher as Chicago behind its stifling defense and a couple of monster dunks by Taj Gibson of all people took game 1 from Miami and its big 3 of James, Wade, and Bosh. Memphis tried its best but finally lost their Cinderella slipper as OKC eliminated them in game 7 of the Western semi-finals. The “Believe Memphis’ campaign comes to a bittersweet end as the Grizzlies enjoyed their best season ever and look to have a bright future ahead of them.




In the NHL, Vancouver rallied late to push past the San Jose Sharks, to take the first game of their series. San Jose’s penchant for blowing leads was never more evident then in this game, but more of that later. The Boston Red Sox demise has been greatly exaggerated as they swept the New York Yankess and finally get back to .500. On top of getting swept, the Yankees are dealing with Jorge Posada’s refusal to go into the game after being placed at the 9 spot in Joe Giradi’s lineup card. A circus has ensued as the ageing Posada and his wife took to social media (which never makes anything better) to vent their frustration. Just another day in Yankee land right?



Now for the rundown:



NBA:







Eastern Conference Finals Game 1: Chicago 103 Miami 82 – The Bulls came out and made this one a street fight. Chicago doesn’t have the glitz and glamour of three of the games superstars but they proved that they will be a tough match for Miami. MVP Derrick Rose scored 28 points and Luol Deng chipped in 21 as for Chicago. The Bulls vaunted Tom Thibodeau defense held Lebron James and Dwayne Wade to just 33 points combined. The Bulls just outhustled Miami all over the floor as they dove for loose balls and boxed out Miami on multiple occasions. The isolation plays Miami ran with so much precision and efficiency against Boston were met with double teams as Joakim Noah packed the paint and didn’t allow James and Wade to attack the basket. This is the blueprint for Chicago. Miami may have the stars but Chicago has the depth and will look to wear down the Heat. So far so good as they take game 1 and look to carry their momentum into game 2 Wednesday.





Western Conference Semi-Finals Game 7: OKC 105 Memphis 90 – Kevin Durant was mad at himself for letting his team down in game 6 and came out took it to the Grizzlies in game 7. Durant scored 39 as he saved his best game of the series for the most important one. Durant’s Dr.Jerkyll-Mr.Hyde sidekick Russell Westbrook also turned in his best performance as he notched his first postseason triple double with 14 points 10 rebounds and a season high 14 assists. You never know what you will get from Westbrook but when he plays under control like this, he makes the Thunder as good as any team in the league. The Grizzlies battled but an 18 for 23 stretch that extended from the first quarter to the second quarter all but doomed their chances. Mike Conley scored 18 to lead Memphis and would cut the Thunder’s lead to 52-49 on a 3-pointer in the third. That would be as close as Memphis got as Durant got hot again as he scored eight points in a 14-2 run for OKC that all but sealed it up for the Thunder. Oklahoma City now will face Dallas in the Western Conference Finals. Memphis fades off into the sunset but they had their most successful season ever. They return 20 point a game scorer Rudy Gay and now have fan support that hasn’t been there for years in Memphis. Things are looking up and as long as they can sustain their success, things will only get better for the Grizzlies. Congrats on a great season Memphis.





NHL:



Western Conference Finals Game 1: Vancouver 3 San Jose 2 – When your making your first conference finals appearance in 17 years, your not going to let a little 2-1 deficit hold you back right? The Canucks scored two goals in the third to take game 1 of the Western Finals. This continues an ugly trend for San Jose. They have blown three leads in these playoffs when leading in the third period of the game. Vancouver capitalized in the final period as Henrik Sedin set up Kevin Bieksa’s tying goal and Bieska would score the winning goal as well. San Jose looked a bit sluggish at times which was understandable after their emotional game 7 win over Detroit. Anitti Niemi kept San Jose in the game as he stopped 35 of 38 shots but it wasn’t enough. Game 2 is Wednesday in Vancouver and I’m sure San Jose will respond with more rest under their belts.


MLB:


Boston Sweeps New York – The Boston Red Sox were suppose to win over 100 games this year, run roughshod over the American league and meet the Philadelphia Phillies in the World Series. Armed with the acquisitions of Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez this is what you were told to believe coming into this season. However things started out rough, as a matter of fact very rough for the Sox. After starting out a major league worst 3-10 after, the Sox have slowly crept back up the standings.



They completed their sweep of the hated Yankees last night as Jon Lester pitched 6 innings and struck out 7. New York now is the team struggling as they have lost 5 in a row and have a drama developing in the club house with Jorge Posada. Posada went out of his way to apologize but the damage has already been done to his reputation. He refused to go into the game after being dropped to 9th in the lineup but what can you expect after hitting just .165? New York’s defense has also abandoned them as they now have made 13 errors in 10 games. A-Rod allowed a ball roll to through five hole in the seventh and it stretch the Red Sox lead to 6-4. Jonathon Papelbon came in and got the save the in the ninth to preserve the sweep.

Friday, May 13, 2011

The Sportaholic Show Online Radio by Sportaholic

The Sportaholic show Online Radio by Sportaholic Blog Talk Radio


The Sportaholic show Online Radio by Sportaholic Blog Talk Radio
Updated May 13, 2011: Tomorrow is the first show, make sure you tune in. This weeks's show includes NBA playoff matchups Chicago vs. Miami and new Tennessee QB Jake Locker is he the anti-Vince Young?

I would like to invite all my viewers to join me in the conversation as I launch the Sportaholic Radio Show. Sports is one thing in life that can be fun for all. Each day we go through the motions of life and try to keep sane while facing our everyday challanges.Sports is the one constant many of us have in our lives. In the inaugural Sportaholic radio show, I would like to address the effect sports has one's life. Most people who played team sports at one time or another in their life, know the benefits they've received of being part of a team with one united goal. This along with the NBA Playoffs, NFL Lockout and local sports topics will all be chronicled on the debut show of Sportaholic radio. Be sure also check me out at http://www.sportaholic2112.blogspot.com and http://www.noomizo.com/sports. The initial show date will be held on Saturday, May 14th at 11:30 A.M. All opioions are welcomed, so get ready for a good laugh or two and an even better time. If you would like to call in and let your voice be heard on the weeks hottest sports topics, the number is 714-464-5225. Thanks Nashville for all your continued support.