Friday, June 23, 2006

Shouldn't we be allowed to have A drink at this point on a Friday afternoon?

I’m not even sure why I’m bothering to write this afternoon. I don’t really have anything worthwhile to say. I skipped out on the first half of work yesterday so that I could watch the US-Ghana match from my couch. As you may have guessed, I was extremely disappointed with the result. I contemplated writing about the failures of this squad today but it’s already been beaten to death in the 24+ hours since the game went final. The team was a colossal disappointment, no doubt. However, the failure of this team can be attributed as much to the group which FIFA placed us in as anything else. We may not have been a great team and our offense may have looked as inept as a woman trying to piss while standing up, but I’ve got to believe that both of those problems would have been a whole lot less glaringly obvious had we ended up in a group like that of Mexico or Australia. While these donkeys were wading through groups with all the depth of a plastic pool available in Wal-Mart’s toy section, the US was assigned to a group that included 3 of the world’s 13 top ranked teams, which doesn’t even include one of the two teams who actually advanced from this group. If there’s anything to take from this year’s failure it’s that the US should continue to be a growing force in the world of international soccer. We may all be disappointed with the performances of Landon Donovan and DeMarcus Beasley but, the fact remains, that each of these guys (along with many, many others on this team) aren’t even at the peaks of their respective careers yet. Yeah, Sam’s Army (who made that crappy nickname up anyway?) may have sucked this time around but you’d be foolish to not expect a significant improvement in both play and results come 2010.

The other big news that has come and gone since I last checked in was the merciful end ( I say this because, other than Game 5 and the fourth quarter of Game 3, these Finals were a terrible, terrible bore when compared to the rest of this year's playoffs) of the NBA Finals. Unlike many, I’m not going to pretend that Dallas could have or should have won this series if the refs weren’t so enthralled by all that is Dwyane Wade, as the Mavs were outplayed and out coached in every way possible over the last four games. However, I’m also not going to pretend to understand how Dirk got whistled for a foul after Wade executed a Ric Flair-esque chop (WHOOO!) on him in the late (and extremely decisive) moments of Game 6. Let that be a lesson to Dirk. The aggressor will always get the call if he’s s superstar…always. If you didn’t already know (and judging by your inability to take control of any moment of the fourth quarter of Game 6, you didn’t), now you know. Finally, one last message to Dirk: Your “tirade” after Game 5 (I hesitate to even label it that) was an unabashed embarrassment. For Christ’s sake, you’re German. Your people have a long and storied history of violence. A history that you should be working to uphold. That’s the best you can do after having your career defining moment (to this point at least) ripped away from you by Bennett Salvatore? You’re a disgrace to Germans everywhere.

Dwayne Wade hit you harder Dirk. You should be ashamed.

Beyond those vapid rants I don’t have a lot more to contribute today. You see, my mind is too busy being cluttered with rumors, stats and all other types of NBA Draft related info. I can’t wait for the Draft. I’m positively giddy about it’s arrival. I’m not sure why, but I have an extremely unhealthy predisposition towards loving the evaluation process of athletes, regardless of whether it’s high school kids in the midst of recruiting battles or collegiate athletes who are preparing for their respective drafts. There is just something about successfully predicting greatness, or lack of greatness (bustedness?) for a specific player that makes me all warm and fuzzy inside. It’s part of the reason why I love keeping up with the recruiting wars in college football so much. And it’s 100% of the reason why I would go Single White Female on Chad Ford today if I didn’t fear spending a life in prison for his murder and dismemberment. Seriously, this douchebag already had my dream job and now he gets to live in Hawaii to boot? Fuck. I won’t get into any NBA Draft stuff today (more to come next week, I swear) other than to say that I still fully expect the Magic to draft Ronnie Brewer with the 11th pick, and that I fully expect to spew expletives every time he shoots a jumpshot over the next five years.

Hoping against hope Ronnie. Hoping against hope...

Finally, you may have heard that they play some pretty good football down here in Florida. It may be regional bias but I’m of the opinion that a player who’s second team All-Dade County would/could be first team all state in 45-49 other states in any given year. This assertion doesn’t even begin to take into account all the tremendous athletes that routinely get underrated throughout the entire state of Florida in places like Jacksonville, Orlando, Ft. Myers, Tallahassee, Brevard County and the rest of South Florida outside of Dade.
With the kind of talent that Florida routinely pumps out, it should come as no surprise to anybody that last year’s USA Today National Champion hails from the Sunshine State. What might surprise is that this team doesn’t reside in Miami or any of the other aforementioned football breeding grounds. Instead, this team hails from the moderately sized town of Lakeland, Fla. Not only did Lakeland High win last year’s mythical National championship, they’re presently positioned to do the same thing again come fall. Mind you, their pre-season #1 ranking in the country isn’t on some “fill in the blank with the defending champ” steez. Rather, this Lakeland team was loaded with a class of juniors last year who were the driving force behind last year’s title. When I say loaded, I mean exactly that. The junior (soon to be senior) class alone boasts over ten division one prospects. I’m not talking Florida A&M and UCF here either. Nine of these guys (minimum) are players who’ll end up playing at the highest levels of college football. Want proof? 6 of them have already committed to the University of Florida. Six guys from one high school team have already committed to the same college. Has that ever happened at a traditional football powerhouse before? I’d guess no but I’m only 28, so what do I know? It’s still June so it’s tough to say if these commitments hold up. However, it’s not tough to say that this football team is going to challenge the mid-80s Dunbar (Md.) High School Boy’s Basketball team (that fetured Muggsy Bogues, Reggie Williams, & Reggie Lews) as the most absurdly talented high school team of all time. Don’t believe me? Check out the profiles on some of these guys.
The player who excites me most (and who got the whole commitment process moving) is Chris Rainey who, despite being smaller than me, is regarded as a player with Reggie Bush like versatility and explosiveness, if not overall talent. There's also one more Dreadnaught (that's Lakeland's's a battleship stupid) that the Gators would love to see join the crew in Gainesville come fall.
Finally, for anybody who thinks I'm crazy with my asssertion that South Florida football players are a unique and rare breed, read this article on former All-Pro and ex-Gator Louis Oliver. Believe me, it's worth the time.


CFunk28 said...

Does Lakeland still run the option attack on offense? The one game I went to when I was an intern their game plan consisted of option left, option right, fake option pass over the top, and then let their defense beat your face into the ground. Stick w/ what you're good at I guess.

And that Wilkes kid could be a beast at safety if he has any football sense at all. A 6-2 200lb safety out of HS? Wait until he gets into the weight room and puts on 20 more pounds. He's going to rip off heads. I could see him being moved to LB.

Mark said...

Meyer and Co. have already talked about Wilks as a LB once he's able to get on the strength program. It is virtually a certainty from what I hear.

I haven't watched Lakeland play lately, other than the random clips that are in alot of those highlight videos and some highlights of the state championship game this year.

I think the offense is a little more diversified these days (as evidenced by a wideout getting a scholie to UF), though its still got to be decidely run-heavy. Rainey is the #1 rb but the "fullback" in their offense just committed to Bama. He was recruited by everyone to be a tailback in college. Taht should tell you soemthing about how much they run.