Saturday, November 10, 2012

What I've Been Up To Lately...

Me and my buddy Ryan (I like to call him that, Buddy Ryan. He can be found on Twitter at @ryanscotthall) recently started up a Podcast called Amateur Hour. Thus far, we've recorded 3 episodes, each with a highly respected guest. Listener response has been very positive so far, and the two of us feel very excited about where it's headed. Wanted to make sure that my subscribers weren't missing out on this. So here are the links:

Amateur Hour Episode 1 w/ former 610 Sports host Nick Wright (10/30/12)

Amateur Hour Episode 2 w/ KC Star Columnist Sam Mellinger (11/6/12)

Amateur Hour Episode 3 w/ Nick Wright (11/8/12)

Amateur Hour Episode 4 w/ His Dirkness and Ryan Hall (11/14/12)

Amateur Hour Episode 5 w/ Marty McDonald of Save Our Chiefs (11/15/12)

Amateur Hour Episode 6 w/ His Dirkness and Ryan Hall - QB's and Coaches (11/21/12)

I will do my best to continue linking to what hopefully becomes a weekly Amateur Hour podcast. Or, I suggest you subscribe to his website for now. A twitter handle and Facebook page specifically devoted to the Amateur Hour podcast should be on their way shortly, and will post those on here too.

Back in the writing world, you can read my Best And Worst articles every week on Arrowhead Pride here. This page also includes links to every B&W I've written over the past 2 years, so feel free to relive the glory of....well, we won a few games last year atleast.

Via con dios,
His Dirkness

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Kansas City Chiefs' Competitive Disadvantage?

My Best & Worst article went up on Arrowhead Pride today, a website that I'm very honored to write for. However, a large portion of a take I was very proud of was edited out (and understandably so, editor Joel Thorman knows what's best his for site better than I do). But I'd like for the take to be heard because I believe it is original, thought-provoking, and relevant.

Here is that excerpt...

Worst way to watch your team go down - Not at full strength. However, it's not the injuries that bother me (although it's somewhat maddening to feel like it's happening AGAIN). Those are just a part of the game though. What really grinds my gears is the suspension of Tamba Hali for his alleged involvement with a soon-to-be decriminalized plant that serves actual medicinal purposes. Look, we all know the Pro Smoke A Bowler was busted for the hippy lettuce in one way or another. Now, regardless of if you think marijuana should be legalized or not (a debate that has zero place in this forum), I'd like you to consider the following scenario:

Imagine Tamba Hali played for the Denver Broncos (ducks), and was caught doing whatever it was that he got caught doing here in Kansas City. What would the penalty have been for the exact same "crime"? To the best of my knowledge, Hali would've received a citation at most, avoided any arrest, and thus, would've foregone any punishment via the NFL. Therefore, aren't Kansas City players at a competitive disadvantage when it comes to their recreational drug habits? Is this fair? It pisses me off to think this may have played a vital role in the Chiefs eventual 0-1 start to this season. End rant.

I'd love to hear anybody's thoughts on this matter via the comments on here, Facebook, or Twitter.

Holla back,
His Dirkness

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Kansas City Chiefs' 2012 Season: Game by Game Predictions

Earlier this week, in my 2012 NFL Predictions, I prognosticated our Kansas City Chiefs to finish this season at 9-7.

{collective readership yawn}

Well, just wait till you see how they get there!!! WE'RE GONNA GO THROUGH BUFFALO! AND THEN WE'RE GONNA GO THROUGH NEW ORLEANS! BYAH BYAH BYAH!!!!!

And so forth...

Week 1: Atlanta Falcons - This one's tough. And not only because I personally predicted the Falcons to win the Soup and/er Bowl this year. But, rather, because the Chiefs will be without Tamba Hali (only the most important Chiefs playa), while Brandon Flowers and Derrick Johnson aren't 100% (the next most valuable Chiefs defenders). The Chiefs always have a chance at Arrowhead, but the magic won't be enough this time.

P.S. Cheer for Tony Gonzalez, would ya?

PreDirktion: Atlanta 27, Kansas City 17, 0-1

Week 2: @ Buffalo Bills - I think the Chiefs put their toughness on display right here. The Bills are a popular choice as a surprise team this season, but (hopefully) the Chiefs remember the last time these two met (although I wish I didn't). With a trip to New Orleans looming, this game hovers around must-win status. And I think they're up for it.

PreDirktion: Kansas City 24, Buffalo 20, 1-1

Week 3: @ New Orleans Saints - Nobody expects the Chiefs to win this game. However, the Saints are flooded with turmoil right now. They will be led by an interim to the interim head coach for the first six weeks. They have two very winnable games prior to this game, and a trip to Green Bay awaiting in Week 4. Call me maybe crazy, but I think the Chiefs win this game with a steady dose of the runs.

PreDirktion: Kansas City 28, New Orleans 19, 2-1

Week 4: San Diego Chargers - The Chiefs are sitting pretty, returning home with a 2-1 record, with the NFL world having taken notice of last week's upset. Sound like a classic Chiefs letdown to you? Me too. Heartbreaker of the worst kind.

PreDirktion: San Diego 31, Kansas City 17, 2-2

Week 5: Baltimore Ravens - I hate Baltimore. I'm tired of them. I don't want to look at Joe Flacco's stupid face anymore. The Wire is overrated. The Orioles are gonna blow it. (Ok, one of those is a joke.) This has the feel of a statement game for the Chiefs. It's a game that Baltimore feels they should win, given the playoff debacle of 2010. But I think they're vulnerable this year, and I think the Chiefs help expose that guerilla warfare stylee.

PreDirktion: Kansas City 17, Baltimore 13, 3-2

Week 6: @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers - My surprise team of the NFL coming off of their bye week. While most fans have this game circled as a potential road win, I beg to differ. And not because of a feeble effort from the El Jefes. P.S. The Chiefs are 3-17 in their last 20 trips to Florida.

PreDirktion: Tampa Bay 16, Kansas City 13 OT, 3-3

BYE WEEK ~ Dirkness says relax.

Week 8: Oakland Raiders - I'm straight up embarrassed to type these words, but here goes: The Raiders have beaten the Chiefs at Arrowhead five straight times. Fiiiiiive tiiiiiimes. Guess who the Raiders' QB was the last time the Chiefs won at home (answer). Double ve-te-effe! This might be the game I'd most like to see the Chiefs win this season. It's gone on long enough.

PreDirktion: Kansas City 31, Oakland 10, 4-3

Week 9: @ San Diego Chargers - Some Thursday night action. I feel like the Chiefs never win in San Diego. And I certainly never predict them to win there. This year is no different.

PreDirktion: San Diego 30, Kansas City 16, 4-4

Week 10: @ Pittsburgh Steelers - Sweet Haley's revenge! For both sides really. I'm sure Todd hates K.C. as much as we I hate Billy Goat Haley (although I still haven't gotten my chance to kick his dog). Luckily, neither side has Tyler Palko. Another primetime game for the Chiefs means another tough opponent and another raucous crowd. Don't like our chances.

PreDirktion: Pittsburgh 17, Kansas City 9, 4-5

Week 11: Cincinnati Bengals - First time QB at Arrowhead Stadium alert! That still means something right? The Bengals surprised last season, which means they're headed for disappointment this year according to Pythagoras, Lord of the NFL. Who's ready for a mid-afternoon romp?

PreDirktion: Kansas City 27, Cincinnati 10, 5-5

Week 12: Denver Broncos - I saw some classic Peyton Manning highlights on Sportscenter the other day, and I'm happy to report his balls flutter WAY more now than they used to. 80% of him is still scary though. And he's not afraid of Arrowhead Stadium. This game has the feel of an Elway-like heartbreak that'll feel like the end of the season.

PreDirktion: Denver 24, Kansas City 21, 5-6

Week 13: Carolina Panthas - CAAAAAAAMM. CAAAAAAAAAMMMMMMMMMM!! That is all.

PreDirktion: Kansas City 23, Camolina 10, 6-6

Week 14: @ Cleveland Browns - This team looks bad. Trent Richardson has knee-itis. Nobody knows if Brandon Weeden will hit his prime or retire first. And I can't really name another player of note on their team. Easy road win.

PreDirktion: Kansas City 24, Cleveland 13, 7-6

Week 15: @ Oakland Raiders - I will continue my tradition of the past 8 years and pick us to beat the Raiders in both meetings. I really don't see a way around it.

PreDirktion: Kansas City 17, Oakland 14, 8-6

Week 16: Indianapolis Colts - A shitty time to draw the Colts and Andrew Luck, who won't be playing like a rookie QB come December (if at all). With the Chiefs still in the hunt, this is a game that Arrowhead needs to pull out for the team.

PreDirktion: Kansas City 30, Indianapolis 20, 9-6

Week 17: @ Denver Broncos - According to my prognostiDirkifications, this game could might decide the AFC West (which most likely means the bright lights of Sunday Night Football). As much as my hands want to type "W" here, my mind tells me it's a game the Chiefs lose (but still make the playoffs!!!). Reverse jinx confirmed.

PreDirktion: Denver 20, Kansas City 16, 9-7

Goal is to beat my last season's performance of 10-6.

Fuck Roger Goodell,
His Dirkness

Wednesday, September 5, 2012


Click here to make fun of my last year's NFL Predictions!


AFC East:
1. New England Patriots 13-3 (1 seed)
2. Buffalo Bills 9-7 (6 seed)
3. New York Jets 7-9
4. Miami Dolphins 5-11

Take: The Patriots have a seriously easy schedule this year, along with the rest of the AFC East (playing the AFC South and NFC West, the two worst divisions in the NFL). So there is a great chance the Pats repeat as the top record in the AFC. Don't be surprised to see the other teams in this division overachieve with that easy of a schedule.

AFC South:
1. Houston Texans 11-5 (2 seed)
2. Indianapolis Colts 8-8
3. Tennessee Titans 5-11
4. Jacksonville Jaguars 4-12

Take: Possibly the worst bottom three teams of a division I've ever seen in the NFL. The Texans could start Cade McNown on their way to the AFC South title this year. As for the other three doormats, I'll say the Colts stand the best chance to emerge.

AFC North:
1. Pittsburgh Steelers 10-6 (3 seed)
2. Cincinnati Bengals 8-8
3. Baltimore Ravens 7-9
4. Cleveland Browns 4-12

Take: This division has me stumped. Both the Ravens and Squealers are candidates to plunge this season, but I don't quite buy the Bengals either (overachieved with a super easy schedule last season). The one thing I am sure of is the Browns finishing 4th.

AFC West:
1. Denver Broncos 10-6 (4 seed)
2. Kansas City Chiefs 9-7 (5 seed)
3. Oakland Raiders 7-9
4. San Diego Super Chargers 7-9

Take: I think Peyton will be half the QB we're accustomed to seeing, but pulls out just enough late game wins to take the division before he keels over for good. A game-by-game breakdown of the Chiefs' 9-7 season is heading your way later this week.


NFC East:
1. Philadelphia Eagles 11-5 (3 seed)
2. New York Giants 9-7
3. Dallas Cowboys 8-8
4. Washington Redskins 5-11

Take: The Eagles put way too much pressure on themselves last season and predictably crapped the bed in the opening stanza. Since everybody assumes Vick gets hurt this year, he will probably start all 16 games. I like the Cowboys but over-predict on them every season. The Giants field the same record as last year but miss the playoffs in this edition.

NFC South:
1. Atlanta Falcons 12-4 (2 seed)
2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 10-6 (6 seed)
3. New Orleans Saints 7-9
4. Carolina Panthas 7-9

Take: High on the Falcons. Julio Jones' emergence has been well documented, but Jacquizz Rodgers' hasn't yet (he runs for 1,200 yards this season). Asante Samuel provides championship experience, and new defensive coordinator Mike Nolan brings the ruckus to the defense. PLUS, it's Tony Gonzalez's last season in the NFL, giving them that extra little bit of motivation that I like (that's a lot of words on the Falcons..). Turmoil will flood the Saints, the Panthas aren't ready yet, but the Buccaneers are my surprise team of the NFL with plenty of young talent and a bounce back year from Jaaaaash Freeman (who I've come to like somehow).

NFC North:
1. Chicago Bears 12-4 (1 seed)
2. Green Bay Packers 11-5 (5 seed)
3. Detroit Lions 9-7
4. Minnesota Vikings 5-11

Take: My prediction that nobody else has, the Bears overtake the Packers and win the NFC North. Everything came so easy for GB last year, I think they're due for some turbulence. Meanwhile, emo-BFF's Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall are reunited (for what should be 120 receptions) in a city with wind.

NFC West:
1. Seattle Seahawks 9-7 (4 seed)
2. San Francisco 49ers 8-8
3. St. Louis Rams 6-10
4. Arizona Cardinals 3-13

Take: The 49ers fall back to earth, bringing the rest of the division with them. I wish I could pick nobody to win this division (just like I wish I could pick nobody to win the AFC). Alas, I'll ride the Russell Wilson III bandwagon even further as he choo-choo's Harbaugh's egg nog-a-nog.

Playoffs?!?! Playoffs.

Wildcard Round:
AFC - Kansas City over Denver, Pittsburgh over Buffalo
NFC - Philadelphia over Tampa Bay, Green Bay over Seattle

Divisional Round:
AFC - Houston over Pittsburgh, New England over Kansas City
NFC - Green Bay over Chicago, Atlanta over Philadelphia

Championship Round:
AFC - Houston over New England
NFC - Atlanta over Green Bay

Soup(er) Bowl:
Atlanta over Houston

Thursday, June 28, 2012

His Dirkness' NBA Live Draft Chat

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

NBA Finals Player Power Rankings


NBA Finals, baby! And we got a good one. As much as I wanted the Celtics to beat the Heat, I must admit that the Finals are better with the Heat vs. Thunder (by the way, will The Weather Channel be broadcasting these games?). We've got two noteworthy teams. We've got the two best players in basketball with the throne on the line. And we've got a team to definitively root for. What more could you ask for? Leggo...

1. Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder.

The most historically successful strategy for a star player to win in the NBA goes like this: Get all of your teammates involved for three quarters, seize control whenever your team goes through a lull, and then take over come the 4th quarter. Michael Jordan did this better than anybody. Kobe Bryant struggled with this idea internally, but found his greatest successes following this formula. It took Dirk Nowitzki to the mountain top last season. Slim Thugga followed this blueprint to a tee in the Western Conference Finals. It was impressive to watch. I give Durant the advantage over Lebron simply because he has become more trustworthy in the 4th quarter. For an 82 game season? Give me Lebron. For Game 7 of the NBA Finals? Give me Durant. In a 7 game series for the right to be called the best basketball player in the world? Well, we're about to find that out.

2. Lebron James, Miami Heat.

Lebron James is a lot like Tim Tebow. No, seriously. And here's why. Both their biggest fans and their biggest critics are exactly right. Yes, Lebron James is the best basketball player in the world (contrary to my rankings, there's a difference between being the best and being the most successful). And yes, he has clearly struggled down the stretch of important games before. Now, take Tim Tebow. Yes, he's a terrible quote, unquote quarterback. But yes, something in his DNA breeds winning football games. (The ironic part is that the two players' successes are directly inversive to one another). Not many athletes can prove their biggest fans and their biggest critics right on a nightly basis. My suggestion for enjoying the spectacle of it all? Sit firmly on the fence. Because hopping down on either side of the fence doesn't allow you to enjoy all of the many aspects offered to us by Lebron James. Marvel at him with the ball in the open court. Criticize him for shooting too many jump shots. Appreciate his hunger to dominate every single time he steps on an NBA court. Question his hot potato instincts that kick in with the game on the line. You're doing yourself an injustice by blindly following one side or the other (ahem, Nick Wright). Embrace both sides of the most compelling athlete of our time. Trust me.

3. Russell Westbrook, OKCT (like TMNT).

Westbrook is downright scary. For both his team's fans, and his opponent's team's fans. Because of his style of play, Russell "Stringer" Westbrook can singlehandedly win or lose a game for his team. If he's hitting his shot from the elbow, he's damn near unstoppable. When he loses control, and starts wildly driving to the basket, he becomes something of a liability. Westbrook, and the Thunder, are at their best when he's taking the same amount of shots as Kevin Durant, something to keep your eye on throughout the Finals. P.S. I had totally forgotten that Westbrook signed a 5 year extension this past offseason, all but guaranteeing the immediate future for this Thunder team. That could be a damn shrewd move, especially if they were to win it all this offseason, erasing any doubts that Westbrook might want to go be "the man" elsewhere.

4. Dyanwe Wdae, Maimi Haet.

My most hated player in the NBA. I don't like people with a strong sense of entitlement. I don't like people that feel the need to advertise what type of person they are (look how tough I am guys! I keep getting up after all my self-inflicted flops to the ground!). I don't like people who mock my namesake and then get their asses kicked. I don't like players who get handed NBA Titles for little to no reason. I don't like players who won't face the media after a loss. I don't like players who get off scott free, while their teammate, who is better, faces the scrutiny of the world. And I don't like you, Dwyane. The only good part about watching Wade take part in another series is that I get to continue my Hye Dnwyae series.

5. Chris Bosh, Miami Heat.

It'll be interesting to see what role Bosh plays in these Finals. I think I liked him better coming off the bench for this Heat team. He seemed to play with more energy and showed no rust whatsoever on his jumpshots. Is that purely because he's coming off the bench? No, probably not. But if you got something that's working for him, why change? Also, I've never understood the logic behind starting your best 5 players. Anybody notice that the Sixth Man Award has recently rotated between Manu Ginobili (Spurs), Jason Terry (Mavericks), Lamar Odom (Lakers), and now James Harden (Thunder)? Those are the most successful teams in the NBA. There's an irrefutable pattern there. P.S. I fully expect Spoelstra to move Bosh into the starting lineup and watch him flounder.

6. Serge Ibaka, Okc Thunder.

Iblocka. Chewbaka. I block you. Interested to see what role Ibaka plays as well. While Ibaka is a terrific shot blocker (most shot blocks per game since Theo Ratliff's expiring contract in 2000-01), I'm not sure if he's a great on the ball defender (my best evidence is Dirk roasting him in last year's WCF). So, while I think Ibaka will start out on Bosh, I think he'll eventually be the Thunder's only big man in a smaller lineup, and will feel free to roam the lane off of Udonis Haslem.

7. James Harden, Thunder.

Amazing that a rising star in the league could be the 7th best player in these NBA Finals. And he's hot right now. Harden shot 61% from 3-point range against the Spurs. He also had the balls to hit the biggest shot of that series, a Paul Pierce-esque three with 30 seconds left in Game 5. He is also foul call dependent, benefitting from a tightly called game as much as anybody. Harden is the ultimate X-factor because he is the 4th option that the Heat don't have.

8. Mario Chalmers, Heat.

Or do they? Chalmers has blossomed into a legitimate NBA point guard. I know this because I've been rooting against him for two straight years, so all homerism has been removed from the equation. He's gotten downright crafty at finishing around the rim lately, polishing off a nice floater that Jeff Van Gundy will rant and rave about ("every guard in the NBA needs that shot"). My favorite running joke of these NBA playoffs so far? Remember the days when Dwyane Wade was better than Mario Chalmers.

9. Thabo Specialosha, 'Der.

My favorite of all the role players in this series. This will be the man assigned to stop Lebron James. Is he up for the task? I dunno, but he HAS to be a better choice than Brandon Bass (Seriously, Doc? Brandon Bass? BRANDON BASS?!?). He's got the quickness and height to hang with him. And I'm not sure if Lebron's post up game is polished enough yet to take advantage of the size difference. I think he'll do a solid job.

10. Shane Battier, Heatles.

He was great in Game 7 against Boston. The Heat don't win without his 3-point shooting in that game. He'll always make the smart play. Can never be trusted because of his wrinkly head.

11. Nick Collison, oKC.

One of my favorite players to watch in the NBA. He'll never get the respect he deserves because of his dorky style of play, but I love it. Great hands, great feet, tough, efficient scorer, rebounder, and defender. Immensely underrated. I think he plays a bigger role in this series than...

12. Kendrick Perkins, Dun 'Der Cheap.

Not the series for The Big Scowl. Kendrick brings one big strength to the table - post defense. But the Heat don't have any players that score in the post. With his strength all but negated, Perkins becomes somewhat of a liability against a smaller, quicker lineup. I think Perkins keeps his spot in the starting lineup but plays less than 20 minutes a game the latter half of the series.

13. Udonis Haslem, Heatorade.

I have absolutely nothing to say about Haslem.

14. Derek Fisher, Laker 4 Life.

Hits big shots. Seriously bad defender.

15. James Jones, Souff Beach.

Don't understand why this sharpshooter doesn't see more time on the pine. He's deadly from outside.

16. Mike Miller, Welcome to Miami, Bienvenido a Miami.

Ever wondered what a punk rocker with a broken back would look like in an NBA Finals game?

17. Joel Anthony, Heat.

I love when he goes to the free throw line and everybody sitting at home simultaneously thinks, "Huh, I didn't know he was left handed."

18. Cole Aldrich, Thunder.

Has really refined his bench game. We may be seeing the next Mark Madsen blossoming right before our eyes.

19. Juwan Howard, Michigan Wolverines.

Two minutes.........DOS!

26. Lazar Hayward, Okc.

#ThunderTits. If you don't know yet, you will soon.

Go Thunder,
His Dirkness

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Some Game 1 Spurs/Thunder thoughts

Thought I'd try a little late night writing action here.

Serge Ibaka - couldn't get on the court because the Spurs went small. Forced OKC out of playing their best 5 players.

Scottie Brooks - It's his job to make sure the Thunder CAN play their best 5 players.

James Harden - Don't let his numbers fool you, he was dreadful in Game 1. His only moves were driving to the basket and hoping for a foul and hitting a point spread swinging dagger of a 3.

Russell Westbrook - Felt like he played better than his numbers but where was he in the 2nd half? What happened to him relentlessly driving the ball to the hoop?

Kevin Durant - was given the ball repeatedly while the Spurs were making their run and couldn't make it happen. Was the defense specifically trying to stop him? Yes. Does he have to find a way to attack that? Yes. Would that be an acceptable excuse for Lebron? No. Does Scott Brooks do anything to help this Thunder team? TBD, but damn sure not as much as Bill Self would (oh word?).

Nick Collison - Finally I get to cheer for this guy!

Derek Fisher - Finally I have to cheer for this guy.

Tim Duncan - How about making a layup, Timmay?

Stephen Jackson - He may have been the key to tonight's game. His defense on Slim was unpenetrable. Hey remember when he cold-cocked a fan?

Matt Bonner - This mutha-fucka was ice cold tonight. More like Matt Limpdick, am I right?

Danny Green - Could not miss a shot against the Clippers. Didn't make a single meaningful play tonight.

Refs - How did they let them play all night long only to call a foul on every possession between 8:00 and 4:00 in the 4th quarter? They really took the steam out of an ongoing great game.

Gary Neal - Hi, I'm Gary Neal.

Good news for the Thunder - None of their 4 best players had an above average game. Durant was average, with the other 3 falling various degrees below the Mendoza line. Surely, (atleast) one of them will step up moving forward.

Bad news for the Thunder - None of their 4 best players have an easy problem to fix going into Game 2 of this series. Worse yet, none of them looked poised to handle business while the Spurs were making their run (ya know, all 4th quarter long). They just kinda let it happen. And yes, everybody's worse fear, that the Thunder are too jumpshotty, may finally catch up with them.

Prediction for Game 2: I'll take the Spurs by 7-9
Prediction for Game 1 of Heat/Celtics: Pain. (for the Celtics).

Boris Diaw's moobs,
His Dirkness

Monday, May 14, 2012

15 Thoughts on the NBA Playoffs

1. Chris Paul* is the best player in the NBA right now.

* when healthy

There are sooooo many ways to classify this distinction, but here's mine: Who do you want on your team with 5 minutes left in a tie game situation? My answer is Chris Paul. Over LeBron (who, obviously, I'd much rather have for an 82 game season), Kobe, Dirk, or Durant. He is simply magnificent with the ball in his hands. Smarter than any other star in the league, every move he makes on the court feels calculated. A complaint here, a dish there, it's all done with reason. The problem is that Paul struggles to remain healthy. He ripped through the Grizzlies up until he pulled a nut. He looked better in Game 7, but clearly still not 100%.

2. The Clippers will beat the Spurs in 6 games.*

* if Chris Paul is healthy

Yes, I hate the Spurs and am openly biased with my opinions of them. However, I also correctly picked them to lose to the Grizzlies last year. I honestly can't even watch the Spurs, so I don't really understand how they're so good this year, but apparently Tony Parker is dominant now. Eric Bledsoe (the unsung hero of yesterday's Game 7) might play a pivotal role in shutting down Mr. Longoria-Parker. Just remember, lockout seasons get crazy in the NBA (the Knicks made the Finals as an 8 seed in 1999). The first round was rather tame (aside from an 8 seed beating a 1 seed, although it hardly classified as an upset after D-Rose's injury). This second round could, might get crazy...

3. The Lakers will beat the Thunder in 7 games.

Lets acknowledge some facts. I'm still bitter about Kevin Durant's lucky game winning shot in the opener against the Mavs. I might cheer for the Lakers with the excuse that I want to see an all L.A. Western Conference Finals. The Thunder are extremely young (staggering that their best four players are all 23 or younger). The Lakers have been here before. End facts, cue opinions. I don't think the Thunder are ready. They're too jumpshotty. They're still wet behind the ears (whatever the fuck that means?). I expect Gasol and Bynum to beat them up inside. I think Shitface Artest will break the record for number of times bringing the opposing crowd to such a hostile level that people wonder aloud how good the security in Oklahoma City actually is (currently held by Ron Mudbutt).

4. Kobe Bryant was the 6th best player on the court in Saturday night's Game 7 victory.

Gasol, Bynum, Steve Blake (that game shall be known as "The Steve Blake Game"), Ty Lawson, and Al Harrington make up 1-5. And this is a compliment. Seriously. Old Kobe wouldn't have been able to accept the fact that the Lakers won or lost without him playing a significant role in the game (however, his insecure side still had to let the world know that he was double teamed the entire game. Oh, Kobe). But the Lakers are at their best when he is facilitating. Their strength is their size and their size is their strength. If Kobe figures this out, then the Lakers will the West.

5. Inside The NBA reached best show on TV status this week.

I've heard lots of disses on Shaq, but I don't get it. Sure, his opinions aren't as strong as Barkley's (or even Ernie's), but he brings some comedy to the table. His opinion on Kobe and the Lakers is always interesting. But the show is so open-ended that you never know what debates will spark up (and they're almost always interesting). It's must see TV from now until the Finals.

6. My favorite player to watch in Round 1 was Javale McGee.

This dude. Every play he makes is an adventure. He's like a Saturday morning cartoon on a basketball court. He plays hard, doesn't fully understand goaltending, shoots sky hooks, puts up 21 and 14 one night and 2 and 5 the next, and is watched real closely by his former WNBA playing mom who sits courtside.

7. My favorite player moving forward is Reggie Evans.

Yes, he of the Sea-dragon Hall of Fame. Evans is the thickest dude in the NBA. Maybe not physically, but anatomically. I watched Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol bounce off him without Evans even grabbing a ball. In that series, he eventually became more valuable to the Clippers than Blake Griffin because of Blake's injury and because of the size of Memphis. He shut down Z-Bo. Next up, Timmay.

8. My favorite moment of Round 1 was Kenyon Martin's stalker stumbling on to the court in Denver.

However, the best part was the continued coverage from the television team. Contrary to the NFL ignoring streakers and such, they showed multiple replays and even came out of halftime with the back story on the crazy bitch. She's well known in Denver, isn't allowed in the arena, and used to stalk Kenyon Martin, who no longer even plays for the Nuggets.

9. Blake Griffin may have figured his shit out in Game 7.

It was one of the best games I've watched him play, a game that he finished with 8 points and 4 rebounds. But he battled all game long. Those easy baskets that the Grizz were scoring on him weren't there in Game 7. On the offensive end, he kept his theatrics to a minimum. I believe he creates a frenzy around his team because he overreacts every time he gets touched, both in body flailing and in staring down the refs. Too often, the entire Clippers team comes away thinking they're being officiated unjustly. Somebody had to have said something to him before Game 7, and I'd put 100 bucks on it being Chris Paul. Jeff Van Gundy chronicled the whole situation beautifully throughout the game yesterday.

10. Jeff Van Gundy should become the next Commissioner of the NBA.

He is leading a one-man charge against the flopping pandemic (PANDEMIC!) in the NBA, even getting it brought up to Commissioner Stern in an interview during yesterday's Heat/Pacers game. Until the NBA responds to flopping with fines or suspensions, then it'll continue to remain a problem with the game (especially if the Clippers and Heat continue to advance).

11. Tie game with 24 seconds left, I'm not going to Kobe, Lebron, Wade, Carmelo, Durant, or even Dirk.

I'm putting the ball in Paul Pierce's hands, the most underrated player in all of sports. Pierce never gets his due. Never, ever, ever has he been mentioned among the game's elite, and yet there he is carrying his team to a playoff victory on the road sans Rondo and Ray Allen. There he is guarding the other team's best player. There he is waddling his fat ass to the elbow, stepping back, and hitting big shot after big shot, game after game.

12. The Celtics will beat the 76ers in 6 games.

And I probably won't watch more than one.

13. The Pacers will be lucky to win a game against the Heat.

They're already freaking out about the foul discrepancy in Game 1 (not even bad). They play no-star basketball (not an insult, watching the Pacers play is rather refreshing when compared to Lebron and Wade's dueling banjos routine). Their best player, Danny Granger, has been afraid of every big moment I've seen him in. They had a chance to steal Game 1 and couldn't get it done. They got owned in crunch time. Heat in 5.

14. The impending Heat/Celtics Eastern Conference Finals will be the best series of the Playoffs.

I give the Celtics the best chance of taking out the Heat this year. It takes a certain mental make up to beat the Heat, one that everybody was surprised the 2011 Mavs had. But they had it. And the Celtics have it. They (irrationally) believe that they would've taken the Heat down last year had Rajon Rondo not gotten hurt. That's both incorrect and admirable. They're rolling this year though. They beat the Heat up last two times they played. I think they fully realize that if they lose to the Heat this year then their run is over and done with. The Celtics will be all in, and when those warriors are all in, results usually follow. I cannot wait for this series. I kinda wish they'd cancel the semifinals and just let them play a 15 game series (could you imagine the home crowd for a Game 15 in Miami? They might even show up before the end of the first quarter).

15. After debating Mark Cuban's offseason decisions for 6 months, I still have no idea if he made the right decision or not.

Maybe you can help me. I'll lay out the arguments on each side of the debate. First off, the decision under discussion was to not resign Tyson Chandler, JJ Barea, and DeShawn Stephenson following last season's NBA title run.

Cuban was right - The team's money would all be spoken for right now. And the team would be old. The team would've struggled to match the hunger of last year's team. What happens if you bring everybody back and you lose in the first round? You're looking at starting over from scratch. With the cap room, Deron Williams more than likely joins the team this offseason, and the Mavs are back to being title contenders for the foreseeable future.

Cuban was wrong - The Mavs didn't defend their title, they didn't even really try. The team was still decent, but the players (especially Jason Terry, the Mavs' emotional leader) could read the writing on the wall - This is your last year in Dallas. Meanwhile, the West was wide open and you could've made the Finals for a second straight year. You're sacrificing a year of Dirk's prime (which might have ended with the title as well). What do you do if Deron Williams doesn't come to Dallas? That's the worst case scenario and would be an absolute disaster for the Mavs.

Go Clipz,
His Dirkness

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

2012 NFL Draft: How The New Chiefs Fit In

I didn't know whether I wanted to do a write up on the Chiefs draft or not because reading people's draft grades can be a heartwrenchingly boring exercise. Especially when you consider how little we know about all of the newest Chiefs. It makes more sense to do assign grades 2-3 years down the road then the day after the NFL Draft (quick, which team received the most praise immediately following the 2011 Draft?).

However, I went back and read my grades from the Chiefs 2011 draft class, and found my initial opinions on the picks rather intriguing (not to mention my use of pictures!). So I'm running it back, more so for my future enjoyment then your present entertainment. And if that bothers you, take it up with Bad Ass Billy Gunn. Suck it, readers.

1st Round: Dontari Poe, NT, Memphis

I was the only person at my draft dorks party who immediately applauded this pick (sure, they've all come around now...). Even though Poe contradicts nearly every chapter of my NFL Draft philosophy manifesto, I feel like the Chiefs were in great shape to take their chance. The fact that it comes at their biggest position of need is just boom sauce. This dude is a bonafide freak of nature though. He doesn't look a pound over 300, either in a suit or in pads, but tips the scale at 346 pounds. It's unclear to me whether he projects as a straight nose tackle, who's main objective is to eat up blocks, or as more of a versatile presence along the line, ala Haloti Ngata. However, it should be noted that Romeo Crennel specifically told Poe in his draft day phone call that he would be a three down player in KC. The knock on Poe is his lack of production in college, which I optimistically/cleverly/self-deceivingly keep telling myself is because he played against mostly spread offenses while at Memphis. If you're still not convinced then ponder this - Romeo Crennel developed Vince Wilfork. He wanted Dontari Poe. Are you smarter than Romeo Crennel?

Tidbit: To give you an idea of what type of athlete we are looking at, Poe won high school state titles in the shot put as a junior and senior, and another in the discus as a senior.

Grade: B

2nd Round: Jeff Allen, G, Illinois

Meet Ryan Lilja's future replacement. Under Scott Pioli, the Chiefs have drafted Jon Asamoah (early in the 3rd), Rodney Hudson (in the 2nd), and now Jeff Allen. Asamoah sat as a rookie, then took over Brian Waters' vacated starting spot. Hudson sat as a rookie, and is poised to take over for Casey Wiegmann at center in 2012. Allen, who played tackle at Illinois but projects as an NFL guard, will fulfill backup duties in 2012, and then take over for Lilja, who's contract expires after this season, in 2013. I'm not going to pretend to know much about Allen's on-the-field abilities. Seems solid though.

Tidbit: Allen started 47 consecutive games at Illinois, so if nothing else he is durable.

Grade: A-

3rd Round: Donald Stephenson, T, Oklahoma

Now here's a pick that I don't understand. The Chiefs have their two tackles of the future in Branden Albert and Eric Winston. With the loss of Barry Richardson, the tackle position was in need of some depth. But Stephenson is considered a "developmental player" which is a fancy word for what I like to call "future bust." If the pick was made to shore up depth, then why not take a player who is ready to play now, but has a lower upside? This pick has many people pondering the future of Branden Albert with the Chiefs, who's contract is up following this season. I don't think Albert is going anywhere. Might be nothing more than an expensive insurance pick. I predict he never sees significant playing time with the Chiefs.

Tidbit: He attended Blue Springs High School.

Grade: F

4th Round: Devon Wylie, WR, Fresno St.

I loved what I saw from this dude in his post-pick highlights on ESPN (even though his punt return TD against Nebraska was featured). He seems like the prototypical slot WR who can find holes in the zone and immediately turn up field to gain easy yards. Or maybe Chiefs fans are just a bit too obsessed with finding their own Wes Welker. Wylie could also help in the return game, perhaps with Javier Arenas taking on a more vital role in the secondary this season. It ain't all milk and cookies with Wylie though, who couldn't stay healthy throughout college, missing roughly half of his games due to injury.

Tidbit: A quote: "There was just the general sense that Wylie did well at the combine." Said by, none other than, Devon Wylie.

Grade: C+

5th Round: De'Quan Menzie, S, Alabama

You hear De'Quan Menzie and you immediately think that this guy's got it all. An apostrophe, the first name prefix, a Q, and a Z! Menzie was a damn fine football player at 'Bama, but was kind of a man without a position heading into the NFL. He played CB in college, but ran his 40 time in the 4.7's. That might work out perfectly for the Chiefs, who actually have a position for this man without a position. Yes, the coveted Jon McGraw spot (which he was able to man with his 6.2 speed), a sort of LB/CB/S hybrid who is asked to help in the running game and cover opposing Tight Ends and slot WR's. De'Quan might earn himself some playing time as a rookie.

Tidbit: Menzie ranked 80th on Mike Mayock's Top 100 list of 2012 Draft prospects. The Chiefs snagged him with the 146th pick.

Grade: A-

6th Round: Cyrus Gray, RB, Texas A&M

I thought the Chiefs might pick up a RB with such uncertainty at the position. Charles coming off his injury. Peyton Hillis only signed for one year. Dexter McCluster doing Dexter McCluster things. Gray was solid for all four years of his career at A&M. Can catch the rock. Always good to ingest fresh legs into your backfield.

Tidbit: Gray rushed for 1,975 yards and 28 touchdowns as a senior at Desoto High School in Texas. As a quarterback. Surprised he didn't go Top 10 alongside Tannehill.

Grade: A

7th Round: Jerome Long, DE, San Diego St.

Jerome Long....Jerome Long....nope, doesn't ring a bell. My sources tell me he's a mix between Jerome Bettis and Howie Long. I suspect he's the next Gabe Miller. Who? Exactly.

Tidbit: He wrestled in high the character Golddust.

Grade: C-

7th Round: Junior Hemingway, WR, Michigan

I knew who this guy was which was neat. He probably didn't get much of a chance because Michigan didn't run anything resembling an actual offense last season. He was a big play guy for them, averaging 20.6 yards per catch. I could see this guy catching on.

Tidbit: Fuck Michigan.

Grade: B+

Overall GPA: 2.66 (C+)

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Chiefs Can't Go Wrong Tonight

Attttttttt lastttttttttt....

Draft Day, bitches. And to think I considered myself a big Draft dork up until the days of Twitter. Now I see what REAL Draft dorks look like. So I'll have to settle on being a Selection Sunday dork (my living room is STILL scattered with brackets). And 90's wrestling dork (the character of Mankind has aged gracefully).

The 2012 NFL Draft has been strange for me. I've heard upwards of 10 names thrown the Chiefs way in mock drafts, but don't have a strong opinion toward any of them really. With no interest in being held personally accountable, I choose to blame Scott Pioli. Nothing feels like a need for this team. It's a selection of luxury. Do you want to make this group stronger, or do you want more confidence in a specific sub-package? Lets hope the Chiefs scouts are earning their cheddar, because the Chiefs are in position to take whatever player they like the most tonight across a wide spectrum of positions.

Lets take a look at who the Chiefs are most likely to target with the 11th pick in tonight's Draft:

~David DeCastro, OG, Stanford - Alright, I'm digging the double capitals in the last name. DeCastro would make the offensive line an immediate strength for this team. All five starters would be young (27, 22, 22, 23, and 28 to be exact), and the chance to grow together could make them potentially dominant in the not so distant future. DeCastro is considered the safest choice in this NFL Draft (rumors are he's so good that Andrew Luck might slip to round 3). Why not him? Because you can hide a mediocre offensive guard. Because Ryan Lilja's play should improve with the switch to a zone blocking scheme (what they ran in Indy). Because he might have a little Ryan Sims in him (playing alongside another potential first round pick in OT Jonathan Martin).

~Mark Barron, S, Alabama - This dude's all the rage right now. In fact, Kansas City's pick might center around Barron, who is skyrocketing up boards as we speak. Completely off the radar a week ago, Barron is now being projected as the Chiefs pick from multiple people (Todd McShay). This is eerily similar to what happened in 2009 with Tyson Jackson and the Chiefs. However, it is just as likely that this is a front put out by KC, who most people speculate are looking to trade down. How would Barron fit? He'd basically play Jon McGraw's spot in the nickel package that warms Romeo's heart so. It is a sub-package, but the Chiefs are in nickel on roughly 50% of defensive snaps. Why not him? Because there doesn't seem to be much upside in the future. While providing depth and insurance for Eric Berry, he would have to steal a job from Kendrick Lewis to play full time. While he might be great in the short term, I question the long term solution of selecting Barron.

~Luke Kuechly, ILB, Boston College / Dont'a Hightower, ILB, Alabama - Potential replacements for the overachieving Jovan Belcher, who I like. Kuechly is more of the All-American who will try hard and do it all (a rich man's Jovan Belcher). Hightower is the hard ass that'll rough you up, boy (he also gives my buddy Ryan boners at night). Belcher's ceiling is low due to his physical limitations, so this would be an upgrade with either player. Playing alongside DJ (who excels in space), this spot needs to be stout against the run. However, playing alongside Tamba and Houston (who provide nothing in coverage), this spot needs to excel in coverage as well. There's no question the defense needs to improves it's pass coverage over the middle, repeatedly getting burned by Tight Ends the last few seasons. Why not them? I like the idea of keeping an underdog on defense like Belcher. Gives the team heart. Kuechly might be gone by pick #11 and Hightower just might slide into Round 2 (if Ryan was a good boy this year).

~Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M - Alright, now we're talking! Look, I think Tannehill will be just as bad as everybody else, but I can't deny that I would be awfully excited if the Chiefs show any signs of moving on from Matt Cassel. I really don't think this is a possibility, but it would be ballsy. And entertaining. Those aren't exactly the priorities of Pioli's Chiefs though. Why not him? Have you seen him play? Texas A&M went 6-6 with loads of talent around him. He played bad against every good defense he faced. Why are we even talking about this guy? What has he done to earn first round status? To be fair, he reminds me of Jay Cutler, who I was confident would bust in your face, and I guess he's awight.

~Dontari Poe, NT, Memphis - The biggest need for this team is the Nose Tackle position. Poe measures up to what you would want at NT, but I don't know of a single person who isn't terrified to draft this dude, who produced next to nothing at a small school. Why not him? On the NCAA Football 2012 game, Poe was rated a 67. NEXT!

~Throng of D-Linemen, DE, Trench So Hard University - Let me break down the idea of selecting a defensive end, followed by a thought or two on each of the potential players. Neither Glenn Dorsey or Tyson Jackson will return to the Chiefs in 2013 under their current contract. Dorsey is set to be a free agent and his return is questionable because he seems to fit a 4-3 defense better than a 3-4. Jackson is set to make 14.7 million in 2013 (which can be seen here, a beautiful site for any Chiefs fan, bookmark this shit), a number the Chiefs won't carry (either restructured or released). Couple that with the loss of my boy, Wallace Gilberry, this offseason (if a 4-3 team used him right, he could put up double digit sacks, I promise you) and the Chiefs are damn near anorexic along the defensive front. Not to mention the fact the Chiefs pass rush fell on hard times once again last season (30th in the NFL in sacks). That number isn't Hali and Houston's fault, who combined for 17.5, and should be a force to be reckoned beginning immediately. But the interior pass rush is non-existent. While Jackson and Dorsey are stout against the run, they bring nothing to the table as far as pass rush. Hopefully, Allen Bailey is able to develop, but providing more help along the line might be the team's top priority this weekend. Why not DL? No chance he'll start in 2012, barring injury. The talent pool is relatively deep (expect a DL in round 2 if not round 1). Here's a look at some potential first round DL...

~Fletcher Cox, DE, Mississippi State - The highest rated player probably won't last until #11. If he does, I expect him to be the pick.

~Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina - Nick Wright brought him into the picture on yesterday's show. I hear he doesn't fit our scheme, but as soon as the words "5-tech" enter the conversation, I become as disinterested as Lamar Odom.

~Michael Brockers, DE, LSU - Heard almost nothing about him, because I think people are that afraid of selecting yet another LSU D-lineman. Can't blame them. He's huge though, but doesn't seem to generate a pass rush.

~Courtney Upshaw, DE, Alabama - Presumably too small to play in the 3-4, but he compares favorably to Gilberry. He would provide pass rush help, racking up 9.5 sacks last season. More of a trade down in the first round kinda guy.

~Jerel Worthy, DE, Michigan St - Prototypical size for a 3-4 DE. 3.5 sacks last season. More of a second round possibility.

~Devon Still, DE, Penn St - This is a dude I like a lot. He terrorized Nebraska last season, blowing up play after play in the backfield. Totaled 4.5 sacks last season, as well as an outstanding 17 tackles for loss. Got a feeling about him. This is officially my boy.

Final prediction: I'll say the Chiefs look as hard as they can to trade back, but ultimately don't find any partners. They want to address defensive line the most, but without proper value at the #11 spot, they end up selecting Stanford G David DeCastro. Expect defensive line in the second round.

His Draftness

Monday, April 2, 2012

5 Keys for KU to beat Kentucky

1. Play two halves of basketball 

This hasn't been KU's style throughout the NCAA Tournament. For whatever reason, the Jayhawks have played poorly both offensively and defensively in the first half of 4 of their 5 games. Fortunately, KU has responded in the second half of every game (with a slight blip against NC State as the lone exception). KU opponents have shot 49.1% in the first half. In the second half, it plummets to 24.2%. That is astounding. The credit must go to Bill Self, who in my books is the best coach in the country right now (and I'm not talking just College Basketball, I mean in any sport).

Here's the problem - This won't fly against Kentucky. They're too good. Do I think they're unbeatable like most people around the country probably do? Not at all. However, they will be a notch or two better than any team KU has faced all season long (because they're a notch or two better than every other team in the country). But this is basketball. And this is one game. This upset wouldn't ever register on the same Richter Scale as Villanova over Georgetown in 1985. But for that to happen, KU cannot get behind by double digits. Not this game. KU must come out with the same intensity they showed in the second half against Ohio State. You will be able to tell by loose balls. KU got every single loose ball in the second half (Releford was personally responsible for 90% of them) against the Buckeyes, and almost none in the first half. 

2. Tyshawn Taylor hit a 3-pointer

I can't believe how much has gone wrong for KU in this NCAA Tournament, only for them to be playing in the final game tonight. They've come out ice cold in every game (but one), Teahan can't hit a shot, Robinson has repeatedly missed bunnies, Kevin Young just trying to get a shot off, and Tyshawn Taylor shooting 0-20 from 3-point range.

Now I wouldn't say Taylor has played poorly in the Tournament. In fact, outside of his poor shooting from downtown, he has played well. He is shooting 24-43 inside the 3-point arc. More importantly than that, he hasn't lost his confidence at all (in fact, I'm not sure anything could ever happen in Tyshawn's life that would cause him to lose ALL that confidence). Can you imagine how the kid will play if he sees a 3-pointer go down? Surely, he is due right? KU doesn't win if Tyshawn doesn't end his streak tonight.

3. Keep the game close

Now this sounds a tad obvious, but hear me out. A close game is an ENORMOUS advantage for Kansas. The Jayhawks have played in as many close games this NCAA Tournament as Kentucky has all season long. KU is more equipped to handle the pressure of a late close game than Kentucky.

Ah yes, the pressure. It is ALL on Kentucky. John Calipari has yet to win a National Championship. Calipari's best shot was thwarted by Bill Self. It was Calipari's team that missed those free throws (if this same situation arises tonight, and it's not on their mind, I'll assume they're on the same wavelength of a Buddhist monk). Kentucky is supposed to win. Kentucky's season would be a disappointment with a loss. Both teams' players are aware of these facts. Close game with 5 minutes left? I'm taking the Jayhawks.

4. Jeff Withey must remain in 12-armed flying Orangutan mode

Without question, Jeff Withey was the star of Saturday night's victory over thee Ohio State. He completely manhandled Jared Sullinger ("Withey mad" = best sign of KU's season), who couldn't decide whether to take his beatdown like a man, or whine to the refs like a bitch. But it wasn't just his straight up defense on Sullinger, it was his overall protection of the rim, no matter what direction it was coming from.

Now, Anthony Davis is a good 3-4 inches taller than Sully. I believe he'll be able to get his shot off over Withey, which should be the matchup most of the game. This means Withey will have to make his impact in help defense. He must eliminate any and all dribble penetration to the basket (exactly what he did to Aaron Craft on Saturday night). Defense is this team's biggest strength. Withey is this team's best defender. WE MUST PROTECT THIS RIM!

5. Thomas Robinson must decidedly outplay Anthony Davis

You could see the moment when T-Robb decided to take over on Saturday night. I don't remember what caused it, but you could see the rage taking over the man. He got pissed off. You WOULD like him when he's angry. Robinson definitely lets the little things get to him. You grab his arm, shoot him a look, or talk about the Morris's mama and it's game on. However, unlike a majority of athletes, Robinson plays his best when he's enraged. You can see the focus. He gets hungry to dominate. It eliminates his biggest weakness (laziness). Suddenly he is everywhere, doing everything. If we see 40 minutes of this tonight, KU will win easily. The problem with that logic is that I don't think it's humanly possible to do so outside of illegal substance abuse. Anybody know a guy?

Davis is incredibly under-utilized on Kentucky's offensive end. Throughout the year, I've seen Davis score on putbacks, alley-oops, and occasionally an outside jump shot or two. And then on Saturday night, I witnessed actual post moves in his game for the first time (to be fair, I haven't watched much CBB outside of KU this year). He scored on a jump hook. He hit 7 of his 8 shots (here's a weird stat: Nobody on Kentucky took more than 9 shots in their victory over Louisville). The kid is extremely unselfish. Almost to the point where I think it might hurt Kentucky. One thing that gives me confidence going into tonight's game is that I know Robinson will be ready and able to take over the game if necessary. I cannot say the same about Davis.

Now I'm gonna finish this article like Elijah Johnson at the rim (E.T. Every Time)...

Two teams. Ten starters. Nineteen eyebrows. One Championship. (via @the_natedogg on Twitter)

Go KU,
His Dirkness

Friday, March 30, 2012

Kentucky is Goin' Down and Here's Why

Kentucky has suffered the Kiss of Death.

Before this weekend ever tips off, and to no fault of their own, the Wildcats have fallen victim to one of the great sports media tragedies of our time. Of course, this is all based on my very own theorizing, which began back in 2005, leading up to and surrounding the USC-Texas National Championship Game.

Here goes...

THEORY: The moment a team's legacy is discussed PRIOR to reaching the pinnacle of their sport's season, they are doomed. The act of retrospectively debating a team's place in history, before they accomplish the ultimate task at hand, does just enough to anger the sports gods.

Or here are two more reasonable explanations for all you logical suckers out there:

1. The active parties are listening, ESPECIALLY college kids (However, Sidney Dean wants to know if they're "listening" or if they're "hearing" it). You have to actively attempt to block out 24 hours of sports coverage, Twitter mentions, interview requests, family/friend banter, etc all telling you that you're the greatest. This is what leads to upsets in more than 50% of BCS Championship Games.

2. The opponent. They're listening too. Imagine preparing for the biggest game of your life, only nobody is talking about the game, they're discussing how your opponent compares against the greatest teams of all time. Think you'd be a little fired up? Now, I realize that a good majority of people/athletes would grow intimidated by this, but that's why it (usually) comes to fruition in Championship games, where they're facing equally determined, talented, and insecure players/teams.

The notion that has been spreading faster than #KUBoobs this week, is whether or not Kentucky could beat one of the inferior NBA teams. First off, that's ridiculous. Second off, this qualifies the 2012 Kentucky Wildcats for my theory. And then some.

So where did this theory gain traction? Well, I've already told that you that it originated in 2005 with the USC Trojans football team. I was disgusted by ESPN's series of mock games pairing the 2005 USC team against the best College Football teams of all time (yes, Lee Corso picking 2005 USC over 1995 Nebraska still burns in my memory today). Of course, USC went on to lose to Texas, thus making ESPN's coverage nothing but a pointless exhibition.

Need more examples? Take a look around this past year. The 2011 Miami Heat - could they beat the MJ-led Bulls? What about the Shaq & Kobe Lakers? What about the Dirkness led Mavericks? Nein. LSU put together one of the greatest College Football regular season of all time - an all time great team right? Nope, they still haven't crossed midfield in that discussion either. The 2011 Patriots - not an all-time team, but an all-time QB right? Tom Brady could lay claim to best QB of all time if the Patriots win. Nope.

The theory works best when it comes to College Football, mostly because there is such a long layoff between the end of the regular season and the bowl games, thus making it harder to block out the noise. It also tends to show itself in college more than the pros. Here are some CFB teams who have fallen victim:

  • 2009 Florida - lost to Alabama in the SEC Championship
  • 2006 Ohio State - lost to Florida in the BCS Championship
  • 2003 Oklahoma - lost to Kansas State in the Big 12 Championship
  • 2002 Miami - lost to Ohio State in the National Championship

Other examples across the sports landscape:

  • 2004 Lakers - lost to the Pistons in NBA Finals
  • 2007 Patriots - lost to the Giants in the Super Bowl
  • 2001 Rams - lost to the Patriots in the Super Bowl
  • 2006 UConn - lost to George Mason in the Elite 8
These teams have all been hit upside the head by the curse: Teams whose legacies have superseded the task at hand. This is my theory, and I'm sticking to it. You may not agree with it yet, but when Kentucky goes down this weekend, remember what you read.

To protect the sanctitude of said theory, I can no longer consider Kentucky to be the favourite (sorry, I've been in Canada recently) to win the National Championship. So who is? Unfortunately...

The Ohio State.

Go Jayhawks,
His Dirkness

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Elijah Johnson's ONIONS

Move over Mario Chalmers, there's a new #15 in town.

Rest easy. Now that my catchy introduction has sucked you in, I assure you that Elijah Johnson isn't in the same stratosphere of "The Best Basketball Player in the World." Hell, he doesn't even have a seat at the dinner table with Chalmers alongside Tommie Frazier, Tim Salmon, and Ron World Peace.


But that hasn't deterred me from noticing the volleyball-sized Grapefruits dangling between Johnson's legs this past week and a half. My Lawrence sources (very reliable) tell me that EJ's short size has gone from Large to Holy shit, I can't believe he took that deep of a three against Purdue with the game on the line for a basketball-obsessed university when he's the fourth best player on the team XXL.


February 4th, 2012. Mizzou Arena. Kansas and Missouri. KU blows an 8 point lead with just over 2 minutes left to play. KU down 3 with 10 seconds left. Everybody knows what play is coming. We'd seen it before in the 2007 Big 12 Championship Game. We'd seen it before in the National Championship Game. This play has an undisputed track record. But who gets to take the shot?

Elijah Johnson does. Well, sorta. The play unfolds perfectly (can be seen here, starting at 0:34). Tyshawn dribbles down the right side, hands off to EJ, who comes off the Travis Releford screen for a wide open look at the top of the key. And then? He doesn't shoot. Well, he eventually does, but not when he's supposed to. He misses terribly. In Miami, Chalmers gets stoned on a beach out of disgust.

This is so much worse than pulling the trigger and missing. I can't begin to describe how disappointing it was to see EJ afraid of the moment like that. He went Lebron in the 4th quarter of an NBA Finals game on us. He pulled a Jay Cutler in the NFC Championship Game. I didn't want the ball near EJ's hands with the game on the line ever again.

Fast Forward.

Elijah Johnson hits the biggest shot in three straight NCAA Tournament games, sending the Kansas Jayhawks to the 2012 Final Four.

vs. Purdue - Johnson essentially carries the team on his back on a night where both T-Rob and Tyshawn play horrifically. EJ scores 13 second half points, hits a three to give KU its first lead of the game with 3 minutes left (SHOT #1), throws a mystifying alley-oop pass to his guard-mate, captures a steal and finishes on the other end to give the Jayhawks a lead they never relinquished.

vs. NC State - KU controls the game until they go ice cold in the final 4 minutes. NC State closes to within 1 point to the shock of my at-home audience. Following a missed Tyshawn FT that goes out of bounds off NC State, EJ makes a backdoor cut right to the basket, receives the ball and finishes (SHOT #2) securing KU's spot in the Elite 8.

vs. North Carolina - A heavyweight battle. A back n' forth slugfest that sees little separation until EJ bangs home a three from the wing (SHOT #3), putting KU up 71-67 with just over 3 minutes to play. The Jayhawks score the next 9 points to send themselves to the Final Four.

How and when did this transformation happen? Johnson was widely criticized throughout the season for never realizing his potential, shooting 33% from downtown, and shooting blanks inside Mizzou Arena. To his benefit, and for the better or worse of anybody involved in College Basketball, you're judged for what you do in the NCAA Tournament. Especially at a program like Kansas.

Well, Elijah, you got two more games to make your case over The Lawrence Legend, and fellow #15 brother, Mario Chalmers. Who knows, maybe one day you'll be the one asking a lucky KU coed "Who's The Best Basketball Player in the World?"

His Dirkness

Monday, March 19, 2012

KU Wins: On A Night Where...

The Kansas Jayhawks had every excuse they needed to lay down, go home, and accept their third upset in as many years last night in the NCAA Tournament.

On a night where similarities to the Northern Iowa and VCU games were impossible to ignore. KU comes out timid? Check. Opposing team builds an early lead by scorching the nets from downtown? Check. KU spends the rest of the game trying to erase that early double digit deficit? Check. KU begins to unravel, doing none of the things that brought the team to this point in the first place? Check. Late game, late in the shot clock, somewhat flukish, but very daggerrific three pointer? Che....wait, he missed it? Now, I'm not talking about the miss in the final seconds (as good a look as you can ask for in 2.5 seconds) or even Hummel's miss with Purdue trailing by 1. I'm talking about DJ Byrd's miss on his off-balanced, fadeaway 3 with just over a minute left to play (directly preceding the Elijah to Tyshawn alley-oop). That would've been the dagger. That's the shot both UNI and VCU were able to hit.

On a night where Thomas Robinson played his worst game of the season. I mean, he was lucky to draw iron on most of his shots (not to mention taking 12 seconds to make it down the floor at times). Sure, the Boilermakers were packing the paint all night (triple teaming T-Robb at times), but I haven't seen The Slobb miss that many point blank shots all season (to be fair, I don't jump all in on KU until after football season, so my perspective is a bit skewed).

On a night where neither of KU's best players came to play. Tyshawn Taylor forced a few up and missed a few we're used to seeing him make. However, to his credit, he never lost his composure (which, undoubtedly, would have spelled the end for KU).

On a night where Conner Teahan, both deservedly and inexplicably, became the team's #1 offensive weapon for a key 10 minute stretch in the second half. This was in reaction to Robinson and Taylor's struggles. Teahan stroked a few in the first half, but was unable to answer the bell in the second half. On to the next one...

On a night where the team's most underachieving player, Elijah Johnson, seized the moment, and rewrote the story on his own KU career in a 3 minute stretch. I can't believe he took that shot. I can't believe he didn't drop his arms down and do Sam Cassell's cajones dance after he hit it. That was THE ultimate "Nooooooooooo, YESSSSSSSSSSS" shot. Make no mistake about it, this was Elijah's win. He hit the shot. He threw the oop. He made the steal. And he threw it down for the lead that KU never relinquished. 

On a night where Jeff Withey put on his flashback face (located somewhere between his bad call face and his "I dominate you" face) and rehashed his Missouri miseries. "Jeff didn't go after the ball," Self said after the game, which basically means, "Withey didn't bring it." That also means, that with this team's season on the line, Self didn't want Withey in the game. It'll be interesting to see if Withey can regain his confidence, or if he can't, to see if KU will be able to alter their style on such short notice.

On a night where KU entrusted Kevin Young to slow down the opposition's best (and only) offensive weapon, Robbie Hummel. 

On a night where Naadir Tharpe shot three 3-pointers. My biggest gripe with Self right now is that he insists on playing Tharpe in this NCAA Tournament, while refusing to play him the majority of the season. I can't make any sense of this fact.

On a night where Bill Self broke out his favorite NCAA Tournament gimmick, the Triangle and 2 defense, which stifled the limited Purdue offense throughout the second half. I LOVE how Bill Self never, ever uses this in the regular season, but isn't afraid to bust it out in the Tournament (most notably, against Davidson in the Elite 8 of 2008).

On a night where KU got lucky. Why? Because Purdue just isn't any good (two horrible offensive possessions down the stretch was your surest sign). You're not supposed to win an NCAA Tournament game when your two best players play that poorly (combining to shoot 6-23). KU shot under 34% for the game as a team. On the other side, Purdue's best player shot 9-13. They shot 8-18 from deep.

So, how did KU win?

Because on this night, KU showed legitimate toughness, grit and determination. Maybe this KU team is different after all. Maybe they have the heart to navigate this cruel Tournament. Maybe this is the ugly win that, seemingly, every National Champion has on the path to the title. Or maybe last night was just last night.

A night where somehow, someway KU survived and advanced.

His Dirkness

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

NCAA Tournament Thoughts (Looking at KU, Mizzou & K-State)

What up with it Ekpe Udoh....

*The biggest news of today is Syracuse's best big man, Fab Melo, getting shabazz'd for the entirety of the NCAA Tournament. The Orange were already the least renowned of the 1 seeds. Beyond that, is anybody else shocked, SHOCKED, to see a dude named "Fab" get suspended? I thought it was a joke when I first saw this guy's name, especially at Syrcause, given their history with "Melo." He sounds like he should be Carmelo Anthony's wrestling manager (in the mold of Slick).

*Filled out my second bracket yesterday (by hand) while listening to Billy Bragg & Wilco's Mermaid Avenue (fantastic CD). It was for my Mom's work so I went very anti-Big 12 (a key for any local pool) and very upset heavy in the first round (because they have a weird rule about upsets getting you extra points). Ended up looking like this...

Final Four: 1 Kentucky, 3 Marquette, 2 Ohio St, 1 North Carolina
National Championship: 2 Ohio St over 1 Kentucky
KU/MU/K-State: MU lose to Marquette, KU lose to St. Mary's, KSU lose to S. Miss
Surprises: 13 New Mexico St (Sweet 16), UNLV (Elite 8), NC State (Elite 8)

*Ranking the National Championship Likelihoods:
1. North Carolina
2. Kentucky
3. Ohio St.
4. Michigan St.
5. Missouri
6. Kansas
7. Florida St.
8. Duke
9. Syracuse
10. Butler

*This leads me to an interesting hypothetical for KU fans - If I were to offer you right now a trip to the National Championship Game that ended in defeat to the Missouri Tigers, would you accept? Think about that. Would love to hear your answer via Facebook, Twitter, Xanga, or you can tell me in person while I stare at my phone or the TV.

*I read a story from the Detroit newspaper talking about the Titans' reaction to drawing the Kansas Jayhawks. One of their players brought up the fact that KU lost to Bucknell a few years ago. This made me think that the whole mid-major thing has begun to snowball for the Jayhawks. Players from mid-majors have an increased amount of confidence when playing against KU because of their history. While they may be afraid of the likes of Michigan St or North Carolina, they step on the court with KU thinking/knowing they have a chance to win.

*P.S. KU plays late on Friday night, the same time slot as when they lost to Bucknell and Bradley.

*Not afraid of Detroit yet? How about the fact they have a father/son combo as coach/star player? While I'm not sure why Titans star Ray McCallum has received so much hype (his stats are just ok - 16 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 4 apg), I hate the fact that I can compare him and his father to Cinderella OG's Bryce & Homer Drew of Valparaiso.

*All that being said, in the same article from the Detroit newspaper, the coach and some players were complaining about being shipped "far away" to Omaha. If that's one of their biggest takeaways then I ain't scurred. Prediction: KU by 24.

*Speaking of potentially fun matchups, North Carolina's Harrison Barnes and Creighton's Doug McDermott (each team's best player) were high school teammates in Iowa. Enough people are talking about this, that Alabama over Creighton looks more appealing by the day. And for the record, I don't think Creighton would have a shot against North Carolina.

*Missourahhhhhh - I watched the hardcore brackets show on TruTV and couldn't believe how much bitching there was about Missouri getting the 8th overall seed. Who cares? And shouldn't the other teams be upset about Missouri drawing the weakest 1 seed? The analysts could not get over this.

*Florida is the type of team (West Virginia and Michigan St also come to mind) that consistently overachieves in the NCAA Tournament. Not to mention, a lot of talent there. That is a rough, rough draw for Mizzou in the 2nd round. Would much rather see St. Mary's (or the unlikelier Purdue) then Florida, even given KU's history against mid-majors.

*Beyond that, Missouri plays a very similar style as 3-seeded Marquette, with 4 guards and 1 big man. I think this hurts them, because the biggest thing going for them is the uniqueness of their style. KU already played 3-seeded Georgetown this year, and for whatever reason, they don't scare me at all (evidenced by picking NC State to advance to the Sweet 16 in both my brackets so far). That's as far as I'll go for now, as any Elite 8 matchup would deserve more of my attention.

*K-State - Suddenly, a very intriguing matchup in Round 2 (suck on that, Bracketologists!) with Syracuse. Without Fabulous Melo, K-State has a bonafide advantage down low (looking at you, Enrique Inglesias Robertz). Defensive rebounding was already a weakness for 'Cuse, now it's a Jeremy Lin sized chink in the armor. Veddy intawesting.

*Before we get to that, K-State has to take on Larry Eustachy and the Big 12's hottest coeds Southern Miss Golden Eagles. I know nothing about their team, but word on the street is they been slacking lately (a quick gander at their schedule confirms). I offer nothing else but my rooting interests to KSU so I can look forward to Syracuse v. Kansas State.

*One last note, this is K-State's chance for revenge on Syracuse after that terrible, horrible, no good, very bad celebration flag on them in whatever year's Pinstripe Bowl. Historintrigue.

Thoughts on the other 65 teams coming tomorrow,
I need a drink,
His Dirkness

Monday, March 12, 2012

2012 NCAA Tournament Thoughts (Monday)

The Selection Sunday holiday has come and gone, but fear not, because Erection Monday is here!

Damnit, can't a guy masterbracket in this house?!?

With the Chiefs seemingly well out of the Peyton Manning quest, it feels completely appropriate to dive deep into the heart of Bracketville, NJ (for whatever reason, I picture this imaginary bracketeered town in New Jersey, somewhere near Hoboken) all week long.

Ahh, there is nothing finer than settling in with a freshly printed bracket, debating all the possibilities in your head, really trying to determine the flow of the Tournament. That's what it's all about right there. I really try to harness that beautiful bracket's chi in that time frame (ranging anywhere from 5 minutes to multiple lifetimes). What's going to define this year's bracket? First round upsets? Sweet 16 showdowns? Mid major surprises? First seed early exits? This is why, as Joey Tribbiani once got inside his map, I feel it's necessary to get inside the bracket.

So, the plan, as of now, is to write on this matter daily, keeping a diary of my unfiltered NCAA Tournament thoughts, so that the (approximately) 34 1/2 hours I spend staring deep into my bracket's eyes this week don't go to waste.

Without making you wait any Longar Longar, let get it...

*I filled out my first bracket last night. This was the celebration that followed...

Final Four: 2 Duke, 5 Vanderbilt, 1 Michigan St, 1 North Carolina
Championship: 1 North Carolina over 2 Duke (I know, right?)
Surprises: 13 New Mexico St, 13 Ohio, 12 Long Beach St (Sweet 16), 11 NC State (Sweet 16), 10 West Virginia (Sweet 16), 7 Florida (Elite 8)

*It should be noted, that the previous bracket was filled out online, which tends to play out different than a bracket scribed by hand. You better believe I'll be tracking which method is superior.

*One of my favorite aspects of this week is determining different bracket strategies. This year, my plan is to fill out 5 brackets, one for each day of the week. I'll listen to a different genre of music for each bracket (last night's was to Nirvana). Each of the 5 will also have their own loosely applied theme (last night's was done before I saw/read anybody else's bracket).

*I just happened to look at ESPN, and good god, if you pick all four #1 seeds to advance to the Final Four (looking at you, Bilas) then you are officially lamer than Jim Halpert (who recently shocked Joe Buck in the Lame National Championship Game).

*The bracket strategy I'm most excited for this year is a brand new one for me, and is heavily influenced by VCU's run last season. It's entirely based on what is said during the CBS Selection Show. Here's my theory: The brackets are exclusively revealed on this hour long show, which means EVERYBODY watches, including the players, coaches, etc. I believe a team's psyche is majorly affected by anything Seth Davis, Greg Anthony and company say. VCU got railed on last year. Everybody said they had no business even being in the Tournament and they responded by playing like they had something to prove. So, this future bracket is to be filled out in complete reaction to everything said on that specific show. They loved 2 Missouri? Boom, going out early. 8 Memphis over 1 Michigan State huh? Not a chance. Davis puts his balls on the table and takes 14 South Dakota State over 3 Baylor - Not in this bracket. I vigorously took notes during this hour, and have high hopes for what might come of this anti-media bracket.

*All that being said, too many people are pointing at Iona to be this year's VCU, which means it ain't happening (still probably pick them to win a game in that specific bracket to stick with the theme).

*Speaking of Iona, anybody else shocked to see a play-in game on the 14 seed line? That hardly seems fair to Marquette. Word on the street is this is because of BYU's weird ass Chick-Fil-A closed on Sunday policy. The teams emerging from the "first four" are extra dangerous because they've gotten rid of any jitters they may have had and they've already tasted victory (see: VCU last year).

*Every March, I find a player or two that I feel the same way towards that I did Kelly Kapowski in 7th grade. Two years ago it was Omar Sanham of St. Mary's. Last year it was Kenneth Faried of Morehead St. This year's leading candidate is Yancy Gates of Cincinnati (is it that obvious I like 6'8 black dudes? here I come!).

*Best I can tell, this year's trendy upset pick is 13 Montana over 4 Wisconsin, closely followed by 12 Long Beach St. over 5 New Mexico. In other words, don't be that guy trying to impress everybody with these "upsets."

*North Carolina drew the easiest of the brackets (and that includes Kansas). Michigan and Georgetown don't scare me in the slightest. It's hard for me to see any team other than KU or North Carolina making it out of the Midwest. Ranking the regions: 1. East 2. South 3. West 4. Midwest

More on KU, Mizzou, and other teams you might care about tomorrow,
His Dirkness