Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Somebody remind me why I wore a sweater today...

Nevermind, I figured that one out on my own. Because I'm an idiot. Most people would think that after 25+ years of living in Florida, that I'd be able to figure out that it always warms up significantly in the afternoon and that you shouldn't base your clothing selection on the temperature at 8 am. Most people woul dbe wrong and , more than likely, those very same people would be laughing at me as I sit at my desk and sweat while the temperature outside has climbed to 76 degrees already. God, it sucks to be me sometimes.

You know what doesn't suck though? Duke-UNC airs tonight @ 9 pm, and I couldn’t be more excited. Actually, I could be more excited if I wasn’t sitting at work this afternoon but barring a sudden fire or bomb threat, it’s not looking very likely that I’ll be able to eradicate that. Hopefully this traditionally hyped game will be more entertaining than the traditionally (over) hyped Super Bowl. Because we all watched it (and were more than likely bored to tears), I’m not going to even bother discussing the Super Bowl, other than to say how empty my life/weekends are going to feel for the next 6-7 months without football. Oh well, as Kurtis Blow once told us, “These are the breaks!”

My Sunday featured not one, but two overhyped football games. Only one of these games consisted of actual athletes though, and I wasn’t playing in that one, so I’ll give you a quick rundown of a few of the highlights of the flag football game that came to be known as Muggs Bowl I (that’s assuming there will ever be any type of sequel).

Anyway, the game got started around 11 am and was looking about as offensively explosive as Kelvin Cato in the early going. A large part of the credit (or blame) for this fell squarely on the shoulders of my friend and QB, Kurt Seidel. Kurt is normally an adequate QB at worst. However, he was both pathetic and frustrated during Sunday’s first half, which he capped off by throwing his 4th interception of the day on the first half’s final play as our team sat a mere 10 yards away from paydirt. Part of the reason for Kurt’s ineptitude was the loss of one of his playmakers in the early going. My friend Josh got his cleats stuck in the grass as he was spinning away from a tackle and ended up with a torn ACL for his efforts. I don’t know about him, but I’d be awfully pissed off if I spent all of Super Bowl Sunday in the ER because I chose to play in goddamned flag football game. Luckily enough for Kurt and the rest of the offense, the defense played like the flag football version of the 2000 Ravens, amassing 6 interceptions while also managing to keep our opponents out of the end zone for the entirety of the day. Of course, if we were the 2000 Ravens, then somebody has to play the role of Ray Lewis. That person ended up being me. Though I was originally slated to play at the corner, we quickly decided that our defense needed more speed to counteract the rushing attack of our opponents. I ended up splitting MVP honors with my friend (Kurt’s brother) Matt who was fantastic at Free Safety with an ungodly amount of crucial pass deflections. As for myself, I finished the day with 12 tackles and 2 interceptions as well as a fairly painful sunburn (Put some sunscreen on that bald head kids!) for my efforts. The game ended at 21-0 as Kurt and the offense took advantage of some favorable field position to score the game’s first two TDs before they clinched the game with a long TD drive late in the fourth quarter. Finally, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the contributions of Trabian, who used his athleticism (something that was in short supply on Sunday morning) to become our team’s equivalent to Reggie Bush. He also had the play of the day when he reversed field three separate times for a 60+ yard TD run. Unfortunately, Trabian stepped out of bounds early on in the play and one of the defensive lineman from the other team called him on it. It was still an amazing run that left a whole bunch of us shaking our heads in disbelief.

Now that I’ve sufficiently bored anybody who bothered to venture over here today with tales of out of shape white guys playing flag football, I might as well discuss some real athletic events and/or participants because, well, nobody cares about a stupid flag football game anyway.

- With 2:20 left in the second half last night and Louisville down 4 to Cincinnatti, David Padgett received a pass near the left block and seemed ready to go up for an easy dunk (he IS 7 feet tall after all) only to softly toss some half assed floater near the rim that bounced into the waiting arms of a Bearcat player. I’m not saying that Lousiville would’ve won last night’s game if Padgett had gone up like a man and dunked the ball, but when he missed it, it really killed any momentum that Louisville had going for it at that point. More than anything, this sequence made me think of something that I had actually thought about addressing here earlier this year as I watched David Padgett be physically manhandled by a much shorter and more physical Eric Hicks in the first meeting of these two teams. What I wanted to address is this: What is the percentage of high profile white big men who end up being busts at the collegiate level? I’m not trying to pick on anyone in particular here, but it seems to me that for every Nick Collison there’s two or three David Padgetts. Just off the top of my head I can think of the following high profile recruits who ended up not nearly fulfilling the potential most had them pegged for (though I’m still not high on him, Paul Davis would’ve been included on this list prior to this season). Here's what I've come up with so far:

Brian Butch, David Padgett, Kris Lang, Eric Chenowith, Greg Newton, Joey Beard, Neil Fingleton, Jason Collier, Joel “Ghostface” Pryzbilla, Shavlik Randolph, Luke Axtell, & Tim Young. While recruiting is , without a doubt, an inexact science that will result in plenty of players whose reputations are somewhat unwarranted (regardless of position, height or skin color) but there’s seems to be inordinately high number of guys in this category who never even approach their advanced billing.

- When it comes to not living up to expectations, few have done so as spectacularly as Jonathan Bender and that’s not going to change anytime soon as young Mr. Bender and his styrofoam knees have decided to call it a career after six years and only 237 games played. Fans always heard about how great Bender looked in practice but that hardly ever translated itself to the games. Whether that was due to a lack of health, or maybe just an inability to raise his game as the stakes rose too is anybody’s guess but I’m going to say that , regardless of the reasons, Bender career track makes him as big (or bigger) a bust as the one, the only Kwame Brown. Of course, any mention of Bender immediately brings to mind (for me) the platform that resulted in his lofty draft status, the 1999 McDonald’s All-American game where Bender vaulted himself into the NBA lottery by breaking Michael Jordan’s scoring record with a total of 31 points. While I’m not questioning Bender’s talent, I have always questioned why an impressive offensive explosion in an All-Star game merited his lofty draft position. All you ever hear from scouts regarding these type of events is hand wringing about the lack of defense and passion. Yet, when Bender lit it up within this lax defensive environment his bandwagon became more crowded than the IHOP in South Beach at 5 am. I’m willing to be that the Pacers would love to be able to go abck in time and agree to at least on of the many impressive trade offers that they used to receive for Bender on a seemingly weekly basis. One additional note: Jacque Vaughan's McDonald's All-American game assist record was tied in that game by one of Bender's teammates who also ended up being my least favorite Gator basketball palyer of all-time, Brett Nelson. I remember watching that game and being ecstatic about the prospect of Nelson domianting the SEC. He certainly seemed on track for such a career midway through his sophomore year in Gainesville. Fast forward to four years later and Nelson was being serenaded with boos of the few fans of the semi-pro team here in town (Brevard Blue Ducks) while playing badly enough to warrant his mid-season release from the very same team.

Just for kicks, I decided to look up the roster for that 1999 All-American game to see how some of the other participants have fared. Whether due to unrealistic expectations, bad decision making or just personal calmity, it's astouding to see how many of these guys ended up far from where most would've guessed on that April evening: Take a look at osme of these names Or click here: Joe Forte, Donnell Harvey, DerMarr Johnson, Majestic Mapp (shout out to his brother Scientific), Casey Sanders, Kenny Satterfield, Marvin Stone, Damien Wilkins, Jason Williams. While I'm going to stop short of calling this game cursed, it sure seems like it might've been a better idea for these guys to palyed in the Jordan Classic or something.

- While Bender is still trying to find a dress shirt to fit his pterodactyl like frame, another can’t miss prospect with loads of unfulfilled potential is attempting to work his way back into the ranks of professional athletics. Josh Hamilton has apparently had his suspension from MLB extended through 2006 due to yet another relapse, though this article paints a picture of a guy who’s still trying to put his life back together and quell his demons.

- Finally, it’s a good thing for Hamilton that this guy wasn’t in Tampa recently. Actually, with the news about Hamilton’s relapses, maybe he was.

As for the aforementioned Duke-Carolina tussle this evening, you can bet that I’ll be front and center for this one. Sure Carolina may be down a little this year but if there is any college basketball rivalry that consistently gives us more good theater than this one, then I guess I haven’t been paying attention lately.


Ted Brogan said...

You get to see your honkies-wit-skillz McRoberts and Hansbrough go at it.

CFunk28 said...

Talk about a walk down the road of shattered dreams. I read about Hamilton last week. It sounds like he didn't blow all $4 mil on blow at least. I kind of root for guys like that, but then I think of how they wasted all their talents and I want to poop on his pancakes.

He did play for the Princeton (WVa) Devil Rays. And Princeton is one of the Meth capitals of America.

Mark said...

I meant to mention Hansbrough especialy as somebody who has already lived up to the hype. While I don't think that McRoberts is going to be a bust (to good of an overall skill set), he still hasn't lived up to his advanced billing just yet.

CFunk28 said...

Good game last night, but I thought that UNC's youth showed on their last possession.

I like Hansbrough but sometimes he looks like he really has trouble in traffic.

And as much as I hate Duke, I think that McRoberts is way more athletic than I thought he was going to be. Obiviously the reason for the big gap in his production compared to Hansbrough is the supporting cast. McRoberts can just ride Redicks coat tales this year while Hansbrough has to be a big time contributor now for UNC to have a shot.

Mark said...

That was a heck of a game. UNC definitely shit the bed on the final possesion though. Hansbrough is a beast for a true fresh, though he looks as if he's already peaked physically. I can't see him getting much bigger or more athletic. He should stay four years and hope that eventually his overal skills catch up enough with his rebounding and defense to warrant a late lottery selection (similar to the path taken by Nick Collison)

As for McRoberts, I was genuinely concerned that he'd be Shavlik-esque, if you will. However, he's far more athletic and skilled than I would've guessed. He could/should be a star at Duke by next year but certainly no later than his junior year. It should be interesting to see how his game is affected by the maturation of his body. Does he lose some athleticism or just become better equipped to handle guys on the low block?

CFunk28 said...

Next season will be interesting for McRoberts b/c he will be the defense in the post w/o Williams. Does Coach K tell him to muscle up this summer to help with the extra beating he'll take, or let his natural athletism try to win the battles? If it were me I'd let him go and see how he does next season. I can see him becoming a more athletic version of Andrew Bogut.

Mark said...

I'm with you, I'd be weary of packing too much weight on his frame before it's naturally ready for that sort of thing. I think I let him use his skill and athleticism while letting his body mature on it's own. Plus, even though I haven't seen Duke's recruiting class, you'd have to think there's another big man coming into Durham next year.

Greg said...

I think McRoberts could put on another 15-20 pounds and not lose a step--if he does it right.

He's got a big frame and needs to hit the squat rack and the power-cleans to build up his hamstrings, glutes and core.

That sucks about your friend who tore his ACL. I'm getting mine fixed at the end of March.