January 31, 2006

Big East Update -2nd Edition

Wow. Honestly, I just went back and looked at the previous Big East review, and it might as well have been written in 1987. Let’s just say things have changed a smidge in the last couple weeks or so.

It’s time for another update and some adjustments to these rankings.

1. Connecticut

Pretty sure UCONN is going to stay in this spot the rest of the year. Comfortable wins over St. Johns, Providence, and Lousville in the last week. No reason to think UCONN will lose more than a couple more games through the rest of league play. I am really looking forward to that UConn-IU game. Two very talented teams with loads of size and athleticism. As Brent Musberger would say, it should be a dandy.

Anyone think Rudy Gay should come back another year? I never have a problem with guys leaving early (you’re telling me you would turn down that kind of paycheck?), but he seems like the kinda guy who could use another year to get used to being “the guy.” If Rudy Gay comes back next year and dominates, he heads into the NBA brimming with confidence and probably is ready to contribute right away. If he leaves right now, he ends up sitting on the bench a couple years before he starts making an impact. I know the NBA is where the best basketball is being played and that the only way to get used to the NBA game is to play and practice with those guys, but I think Gay would benefit from a year as the alpha dog on his team.

2. West Virginia

First update to the rankings. Yea, yea, I know they just lost to Marshall at home, but I’m just chalking that up to one of those random losses that every team has at times. I just like West Virginia’s moxy. 5 seniors and a junior. You just get the impression that they aren’t afraid of anybody, and I wouldn’t count them out of any game.

By the way, in response to Jeremy’s great post, I do think West Virginia is more talented than ND right now. Definitely not next year (they will be lousy), but West Virginia has better players on this current team. Gansey and Pittsnogle are legit studs, and their guards complement the team well. They will be down next year. Villanova will be down too. It’s all cyclical, but I do think the players on their roster are a big reason that West Virginia has been successful the last couple years.

3. Villanova

Nothing much to add regarding the Wildcats. Villanova is kind of skating by, but doing what they need to do to win games. Wouldn’t be surprised to see Nova skid a little before the Tournament, and then regroup with a nice March.

4. Georgetown

Might be a little surprising to put G’Town over Pitt, but how can you not be impressed with the Hoyas right now? Put Georgetown and Pitt on a neutral court, and who do you think wins that game? I’m going with Georgetown right now.

Everywhere you turn there are matchup problems for opposing teams. Green, Hibbert, Wallace, Bowman. They are just really hard to guard. If you looked at their roster, you would think you were staring at an NBA roster with all the size they have. They are bringing in 6’9” guys off the bench. You just don’t see that in college hoops anymore.

Georgetown controls the tempo, they dominate the glass, they defend, they’re well-coached, and oh by the way, they’re talented. The Hoyas aren’t all the way back, but that program is really on the upswing.

5. Pittsburgh

I know Big East fans love to rag on Carl Krauser because he whines a lot to the officials and may or may not be 30 years old. He's one of those guys who has been around forever, and everyone is sick of him.

I’ll be the first to admit though. I love the guy. He’s a leader, he’s tough, he can score in a lot of different ways, and he doesn’t mind mixing it up inside.

Cheers to you Carl Krauser. I've enjoyed watching you play these last four years.

6. Marquette

For all the hype about the Big East, do you really feel that great about this league when Marquette is the 6th best team in this league? Who else belongs in this spot? Seton Hall? Check back with me in a couple weeks. Syracuse? Not with 4 straight losses.

Novak is a possible all-conference selection, and Dominic James is hands down the best freshmen in the league. Still, let’s not get crazy about this team. Put Marquette up against the sixth best team in the Big Ten (Michigan/Wisconsin), and I think it’s pretty easy to figure out which conference is the best in college hoops this year.

7. Seton Hall

Maybe Louis Orr and Kelly Whitney read my last Big East post on this site, and got all fired up. Maybe Terry Dehere and Anthony Avent popped into the locker room for a pep talk. Maybe PJ Carlessimo has been pulling all the strings from behind the scenes. I have NO IDEA what is going on, but Seton Hall has suddenly become the hottest team in the Big East. Yes, the same Seton Hall that lost to Duke by 53 points earlier in the year. Seton Hall winning by 18 at NC State has to rank in the top 3 of most surprising wins of the year.

I don’t know what has gotten into the Pirates, but they are officially the biggest wildcard in this league. Stay tuned.

8. Syracuse

Tough stretch for the Cuse. Three straight games against top 10 opponents and a home loss to Seton Hall. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them turn it around and get the ball rolling again, but any further struggles could put the Orange in jeopardy of making the NCAA Tournament. The schedule lightens up in the upcoming weeks, so they can get back into the “lock” category with a nice winning streak.

How many teams from the Big East get into the NCAA Tournament? 8? 9? 10? I think 8 can get in, but I also wouldn’t want to be sitting in 8th place and sweating things out on Selection Sunday. There’s no real precedent to work with, so no one really knows how many teams the Big East will get in.

9. Notre Dame

ND at #9? Who else deserves this spot? Put ND on a neutral floor against any of the remaining teams and I think they’d win the game. ND will end up close to .500 when it’s all said and done.
Since it’s safe to say that ND’s season is all but over at this point, I think it’s time to take a glance at next year’s roster.

Ladies and gentlemen, your 2006-07 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (cue the new TBDBITL)…..

PG – Kyle McAlarney
SG – Colin Falls
SF – Russell Carter
PF – Rob Kurz
C -- Luke Zeller


Ryan Ayers
Zach Hillesland
Tory Jackson
Luke Harangody
Jonathon Peoples

Who’s excited?! Might as well start printing out those NIT Brackets right now. Four things would have to happen for ND to become a tournament team.

1) Kyle McAlarney makes a fairly smooth transition to PG and even excels at times

(Likelihood: 60% - I think McAlarney will acquit himself well in the Big East starting next year. Tough guy, unlimited range, gym rat, decent quickness. Might be some growing pains, but I don’t feel bad about the PG situation)

2) Colin Falls makes the leap into Matt Carroll territory and develops an all-around game

(Likelihood: 35% - For all the talk about how great Matt Carroll was, he didn’t truly make the leap into the “stud” category until his senior year. For three years, Carroll was basically a lights out shooter who could carry the team at home when he was hot. Senior year, Carroll just took over. Got stronger, took it to the hoop, ran the break. Carroll made the leap. Can Falls do it? I won’t count out the possibility, but I don’t see it happening.)

3) Russell Carter turns into a poor man’s Carl Krauser

(Likelihood: 50% - I would love to see Russell Carter develop into a consistent 15-17 ppg type guy, a solid defender, and opportunistic rebounder. If Carter could back his man into the post for some buckets or get some stick backs on the glass, he could really add some badly needed versatility to this team. I have no idea if he’s capable of it, but I’d love to see it.

4) Kurz, Zeller, and Harangody give ND some kind of consistent inside presence

(Likelihood: 50% - Kurz brings effort, Zeller looks like he has some decent skills, but picturing those two guys trying to guard Roy Hibbert next year is a scary thought. If I hear Sean McDonough saying “these young big men have been solid all year”at some point in February 2007, I’ll be satisfied.)

This has become customary during the latter years of the Mike Brey era, but the talent will obviously be down again next year. If I have any beef with Brey, it’s been over his recruiting. His guys play hard, never give up, don’t turn the ball over, and shoot free throws well. But when it comes down to needing a rebound, or a tip in, or a big stop late in the game, we just don’t have a difference maker who can step up and make a play. At some point, Mike Brey needs to identify this type of player, and get him to commit to Notre Dame.

We have some nice pieces, but don't have a difference maker up front or on the wing. Troy Murphy was a difference maker. You knew it the moment he walked on campus. I remember watching that guy with the other 37 students who attended ND games during his freshmen year, and you just knew he was a stud. He had the inside post moves, the baseline fadeaway shot, always found a way to get to the line when ND needed it. Every time ND seemed to be slipping a bit, Murphy was there to tip in a rebound or draw contact. Danny Miller, for all the criticism he got, was a difference maker. He got to the bucket, made the big stops on D, hit the big shots when the team needed it. Ryan Humphrey—difference maker. Great athleticism, explosive leaper, blocked shots, high energy, leadership. Put any one of those guys on the current ND roster, and this team is a top 25 team. Seriously. All those close losses suddenly become close wins.

Are any of these young forwards/wings future difference makers? I think the jury is definitely out.

I keep reading stuff on NDNation/Rivals about how talented the freshmen are. Everyone seems to be enamored with Ryan Ayers and his “athleticism.” Everyone is fired up about Hillesland’s quickness and agility. Zeller is getting rave reviews for his passing and defensive rebounding.

Hey, maybe all those guys will end up being productive Big East starters, and maybe one of those guys will end up being an all-conference caliber player. Guys can develop. Happens all the time. I’ve seen it happen at UC throughout the years (Kenyon Martin, Steve Logan) and even at ND (Matt Carroll).

Here’s my only concern about it. Can we wait and see how things turn out before we start building these guys up? I really think McAlarney will be a standout point guard. I think he’ll be pretty solid next year in fact. Seems like one of those guys who will be hitting dagger shots in a couple years. I’m pretty confident that Jay Bilas will be on ESPN in 4 years talking about how McAlarney could start for just about anybody in America.

But how about we slow down on the other three a little bit? Are Ryan Ayers and Hillesland even still on the ND roster? I just checked my program and noticed that they’re still listed, but I’m not ready to throw out the “these guys could lead ND back to prominence!” talk just yet. I have yet to see the athleticism that everyone likes out of Ryan Ayers, and I honestly didn’t even know Zach Hillesland was white until a couple days ago. From what I had read about the guy, you would have thought he had Kevin Garnett type quickness. Zeller looks like he has the potential to be a solid player, but I’m not ready to call him a future all-conference player.

On a positive note, if Harangody comes in and plays like a young Kevin Bookout, he could be that difference maker. If Tory Jackson comes in and reminds people of a young Luther Head, then maybe this ND program will head back in the right direction. Maybe Brey has turned the corner in the recruiting game, and now he’s figured out the kind of players he needs to get to win in the Big East.

Guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

10. St. Johns

The Johnnies have been playing pretty well of late, but you really can’t even put them in the conversation for a tournament bid with home losses to Hofstra and Marist. If St. Johns somehow ends up at 9-7 and gets in with those losses, every member of the 2003-04 ND team should raise hell. How are Hofstra and Marist any different than Central Michigan? With that said, I don’t think we’ll have to worry about it.

11. Louisville

Ok, get out the shovels. Time to bury Louisville. I watched bits and pieces of a couple of their recent games, and they just aren’t any good this year. For whatever reason, Dean and Palacios haven’t been as good as they were last year, and the rest of the team is really undisciplined and sloppy.

I think the world of Rick Pitino as a coach, but his recruiting has been a little strange since he’s been at Louisville. Instead of focusing on the three and four year guys that he can coach up, Pitino keeps shooting for the moon and focusing on the “one and done” types like Telfair, Donta Smith, Amir Johnson etc. Hasn’t worked out. None of those guys ever made it to campus. Now they have a depleted roster. Could be a lesson in there for some other coaches (cough cough..Thad Matta..cough cough).

By the way, how much must it suck to be a fan of a football program where the head coach not only gets rumored for every college or pro head job in the country, but he also openly lobbies for these jobs? There’s a classy way to handle the speculation, and then there’s the way Bobby Petrino handles things. Weasel.

12. Cincinnati

So it looks like the national media has picked up on the Skip Prosser rumors that have been buzzing about the UC program since Huggins got the axe. If you follow college hoops, you probably know the story by now. Skip misses Cincinnati, his wife never wanted to leave, the UC job is now available….connect the dots.

I’m not sure if I buy the rumors that Prosser is even interested in the job, but I think Prosser would be a decent hire for UC. At the very least, Prosser could come in for a few years and stabilize the program. Prosser likes the up tempo style, and he’s always done well recruiting at Xavier and at Wake Forest given the circumstances of both jobs. Some UC people aren’t sure about Prosser because he won’t be around that long and hasn't lit the world on fire at Wake, but I think Prosser would do a nice job of changing the image of the program and bringing in some talented players. UC’s goal should be to hire a coach who can make them somewhat of a regular in the NCAA Tournament. Prosser can accomplish that.

With that said, if I were UC, I definitely would take my time and interview anybody and everybody who showed interest in the job. If there is some young firecracker out there from a mid-major program who is promising a Final Four birth in the next five years, you gotta explore that option. If a big time assistant with future coaching star written all over him becomes a candidate, UC should definitely take a look. UC could do a lot worse than Skip Prosser, but I definitely would explore all the options before hiring the guy.

For all I know. Prosser might not even have any interest in the job, so UC better be ready with a backup plan.

13. Rutgers

If there are any Rutgers fans reading this blog, I got a question for you. Do you consider Rutgers to be a football school or a basketball school? Rutgers has never really had a lot of success in either sport, so I figured I would inquire. You would think Rutgers was a hoops school, but they’ve had enough entertaining football players over the years to make you think about it. If Marco Battaglia isn’t the most popular athlete in Rutgers history, I’ve seriously misjudged that fanbase.

A little homework assignment for you Scarlet Knights apologists.

14. Providence

Hypothetical for all the ND fans out there. If some corporate sponsor came forward and pledged 75% of the money for a new state of the art arena in exchange for the naming rights, would you support it? I absolutely would be in favor of it. It might sound a little corny at first, but would it really bother anyone to see ND play in a brand new KFC Arena if it was a sweet new building?

Take Providence. Ok, so playing in the Dunkin Donuts Center is a little cheesy compared to Cameron Indoor or Rupp Arena or Assembly Hall, but is it really that big of a deal? If the place is nice, it doesn’t really matter if we have to give it some nickname like “The Oven” or whatever.

I don’t care what ND has to do to get the money. If some company is willing to pony up the money to build a new arena, they could rename it the Hooters Center for all I care. I’d be putting those naming rights up to the highest bidder right now if I were the A.D.

15. DePaul

Why did DePaul think it would make any sense to hire the lead detective from Law & Order to coach the basketball team?

16. South Florida

Hey, how about those Devil Rays?! How can you not be excited about all the young bats? Crawford, Gomes, Baldelli, Delmon Young, Lugo, Upton, Cantu…the Rays are loaded! It’s time for the poor man’s Theo (Andrew Friedman) to trade off some of those young parts for a couple promising arms. Might as well move a couple of these guys while their value is high.

(Super Bowl picks coming Friday!)

January 30, 2006

It's Not Easy Being This Good

In the wake of football season entering hibernation mode, the tennis world ushered in its 2006 season with its first major - the Australian Open. As is becoming second nature, Roger Federer played with a giant target on his back and once again, emerged victorious, lucky number 7 Grand Slam title for the 24-year-old from Basel, Switzerland. Naysayers will claim Roger won a watered down draw with top talents Andre Agassi andRafael Nadal withdrawing due to injury in addition to Andy Roddick and Lleyton Hewitt making early exits. Such close-minded folks don't understand that keeping your body in great shape while combatting the elements is an integral part of the game that never derails the true champions.

Back to the match that was much harder than the 5-7, 7-5, 6-0, 6-2 score indicated. Making uncharacteristic mistakes and visibly frustrated from the tenacious unknown entity Marcos Baghdatis, Federer dropped the 1st set and fell down a break in the 2nd. The most unfathommable of victories was ever so slowly becoming a reality for the 20-year-old native of Cyprus. Federer looked vulnerable, on the precipice of a Buster Douglas KO'ing Tyson upset. Just when things looked bleak, Roger ducked into his on-court telephone booth and Super Roger emerged to turn the tide. The well ran dry for the likable Baghdatis in his coming out party, but not before adding his name to the short list of young stars poised to usher in a new era for the ATP Tour. It would have been the first chink in the armor of Roger, who has distanced himself from the tennis pack in dominating fashion. A quick recap of the Maestro's tour de force the past 2+ years reveals the growing gap between Federer and the field.

Cracking through with his 2003 Wimbledon championship, Federer followed up with a 4th round showing at the U.S. Open and closed the year pummelling Andre Agassi to win the Tennis Masters Cup. He compiled an eye-popping 76-4 record in 2004, capturing the Australian, Wimbledon and U.S. Open crowns, then defended his Tennis Masters Cup by dispensing Lleyton Hewitt in straight sets. 2005 only got better with an otherworldly 81-4 record, repeating at the All-England Club and Flushing Meadows and losing in the semis in both the Australian and French. The French looms as his Slam albatross, an inevitable triumph considering he took Rafael Nadal, arguably the finest clay-courter on tour, to the wire at Roland Garros in last year's semifinals. So far, he's perfect for 2006 with two titles in his pocket.

But the most telling sign that it's Roger's world and we're lucky to breathe his same rarefied air is how he relishes playing on the biggest stage. Relinquishing a mere 3 sets in 7 appearances in a Grand Slam Final isn't just dominant, it's downright cruel. Roger wouldn't bat an eye outgazing pressure in a staring contest. The tennis world is a floating volley in Roger's reach and he's slamming the competition emphatically. History is in the making as Roger could become the greatest champion to pick up a racket. His game blends textbook fundamentals, dogged determination and a flair for the theatric as he glides effortlessly around the court going through the motions of victory. He makes the game look easy utilizing any playing style necessary to befuddle his opponent. Federer's brilliance against his peers is on par with Tiger Wood's annual PGA romp and keeps pace with Lance Armstrong's cycling prowess. The competition must look like Herschel Walker to the maestro matchman.

January 25, 2006

Pop Quiz

After another disappointing, yet tantalizingly close loss, this time at the hands of Georgetown, the Irish hoops team stands 1-5 in the Bigger East. Not exactly the strongest first impression to give our new conference mates. I feel like a teacher at wits end with my class. All the students do their homework, follow the rules and try their damnedest, yet end up making careless mistakes come test time. Similarly, this Irish hoops team has the talent and tenacity to be a darn good team, but keep finding new ways to lose ballgames. Difficult assignments versus two Top 10 teams (Villanova and West Virginia) and always athletic Louisville will require more than an all-nighter to pull off a victory. Like any good prof testing the mettle of his pupils and to give fans a small dose of success with this season, I present you with a pop quiz.

1. Which movie best exemplifies the Irish season thus far?

A. Twilight Zone
B. Groundhog Day
C. 12 Angry Men
D. Hustle & (No) Flow
D. All of the Above

2. More astonishing Colin Falls tidbit?

A. 79% of his shot attempts are of the 3-point variety (at 41% a clip)
B. 35% of his 2-point shots find their target
C. The fact that there's such a disparity between the two

3. What song does Mike Brey serenade the locker room to try and cope with the mounting losses?

A. You Can't Always Get What You Want
B. Don't Stop Believin'
C. Going Down The Road Feeling Bad

4. Name your favorite close game the Irish have won this season?

A. IPFW 65-63
B. Wofford 74-71
C. None

5. Best Coach Brey fashion statement?

A.Cool, Slicked Back Mike
B. Suave, Slicked Over Mike
C. Doesn't matter as long as a mock is involved

Extra Credit:
Who came first? Kevin Pittsnogle or Cletus Spuckler

January 20, 2006

NFL Championship Week Picks

Championship week. Great week of football, right? Hard fought, competitive games between evenly matched teams, right?

Well, I'm not so sure about that. Is it me or is "Championship Weekend" usually a bit of letdown? Compared to the Divisional Playoffs (which usually have a couple great games), there have been a lot of duds in the championship round.

Seems like a lot of championship games fall into one of these two categories:

1. Blowout - One team has spent so much energy just getting to the championship game that they lay an egg and get blown out in the championship game (see Minnesota 01, Jacksonville in '96)

2. Choke job - Favored team at home melts down under the pressure and does everything it can to give the game away (see Philly 2001-2003, Minnesota 99, Pittsburgh 02, 05, 94, 98), Jacksonville (01))

Come to think of it, there have really only been three championship games in recent years that were truly memorable.

1. Giants-49ers - 1991 - The Montana injury/Matt Bahr last second field goal game. A truly great game between the two best teams in the NFC.

2. Colts-Steelers - 95 (96?) - The Jim Harbaugh Hail Mary game. One of the most compelling games I've seen. Indy was the ultimate Cinderella story that year. I still remember a lot of the prominent names from that team(Quentin Coryatt anyone?). If Aaron Bailey (yes I had to look him up) had caught that ball in the end zone, you'd have to toss it into the conversation for "greatest play in NFL history".

3. Minnesota-Atlanta - 99 - Probably one of the worst choke jobs I've ever seen. Minnesota was sick that year. Everyone was getting ready for a phenomenal Minnesota-Denver Super Bowl until Gary Anderson missed that chippie and opened the door for a Falcons comeback. We were freshmen in college that year and watched the game in a cramped dorm room on about a 7" tv, but it was still pretty freaking exciting.

Anyway, why am I bringing all this up? Well, championship games aren't always the great matchups that they're hyped up to be. Everyone thinks these two upcoming games will be closely contested games between evenly matched teams. You know what that means don't you? I wouldn't be surpised if one or both of these games was a huge dud, and one of the old familar storylines (blowout) could come into play here. Just something to keep in the back of your mind.

Before I get to my picks, my bro chimed in from sunny Naples with a few thoughts of his own. I thought he had some interesting points to make, so I figured I'd share his picks.

Via email:

"As for the playoffs, I’m going in the opposite direction as you. I really like Denver to beat the Steel. I know everyone is pumped up about the Steelers and Roethlisberger but Denver just clobbered New England. Everyone is saying the Patriots gave it away, but isn’t that what football is all about? Denver forced fumbles and made big interceptions and won the game going away. Champ Bailey made a hell of a play and Denver doesn’t need to apologize for Troy Brown muffing punts or Adam Vinatieri blowing kicks. Enough with the excuses for Tom Brady and Bellichick. They got stomped by a better team. I also think Pittsburgh is a little overrated. Their postseason wins this year are more fortunate than impressive. Wildcard victory over a Palmer-less Bengals. Division victory over an obviously rusty Colts team that was also battling the Dungy situation. And I can’t get that final regular season game (an extremely meaningful one) against Detroit out of my head. You’re telling me a Super Bowl caliber team goes into the last game of the season desperately needing a win and squeaks it out against DETROIT? Get a tee time for next weekend Hines Ward. I like Denver 31-17.

I really like Seattle in the NFC. I think everyone who picked the Redskins last week thinking that they were the next 2001 Baltimore Ravens is a little bitter towards Seattle. Maybe that bitterness is affecting their judgment because I’m looking at this game and picking Seattle all the way. First of all, it’s going to be raining. Hasselback looked fine in the rain last week but we don’t know about Delhomme. Second, I really like how balanced Seattle is on O. They didn’t explode against Washington but they did more than anyone was expecting. Carolina is hot and they’re a great team but the Deshaun Foster injury concerns me. Is Nick Goings an every down back? If they can’t run, that means it’s up to Delhomme to win the game and something tells me you might see a lot of navy jerseys around Steve Smith. No way he gets off again this week. He’ll see triple coverage and if he doesn’t Holmgren should be fired. Seattle 27-24.

That’s all I got.


Good thoughts. I'm officially nervous about my picks now, and fully anticipate losing yet another football parlay to the good people of sportsinteraction.com this weekend.

ok, on to the picks.

Pittsburgh at Denver (Line: Denver -3.5)

Pick: Pittsburgh +3.5

I'm starting to get nervous about this pick because only a week ago I had Indianapolis blowing out the Steelers. Now everyone suddenly thinks they're the second coming of the '85 Bears. The Steelers have become the trendy pick to win the Super Bowl. That makes me uneasy. This is the same Steelers team that was up and down throughout the regular season, and never gave the impression that they were capable of making a run to the Super Bowl. Then, they beat a rusty Colts team led by the biggest choker in sports, and now everyone is falling all over themselves trying to praise Cowher and the Steelers.

One thing I've noticed about the Steelers under Cowher is that they don't play well in the role of the favorite. When the Steelers are counted out or a heavy underdog, they always seem to take it personally and come out with something to prove. But the minute you put the "favorite" label on their backs, they melt down. Steeler fans will tell you the exact same thing. My roommate from law school is a diehard Steelers fan, and he was actually disappointed last year when the Steelers wrapped up home field advantage. I don't know if it's a psychological thing or related to their style of play, but the Steelers do not handle the pressure of being a favorite all that well.

Ok, so why am I picking the Steelers again? I just think they're the better team in this game. The teams playing the best at the end of the year usually end up winning these games, and I just feel like Pittsburgh is playing great football. Remember, the Steelers went 15-1 last year. In the last two years, they are 29-7. Roethlisberger has been absolutely money the last month and half of the season, and the Steelers D is possessed right now. Polamalu is an animal. I thought he was the best safety in football LAST year. This year, he's become an even better pass defender, and one of the best tacklers in the game. I am terrified of Polamalu. Denver should be too.

There's been a lot made out of this "three road games in a row" stuff. Seems like the "experts" are worried that the Steelers can't get up for this game after the Indy game. Hello!! This is the AFC Championship game! You think they won't be able to get up for this game? Seriously? There was some concern that New England wouldn't be able to get up for the Pittsburgh game last year following the big Indy win. That speculation was quickly put to rest in the 1st quarter. The Steelers will be up for this game.

As for Denver, I was at the UC game last week and didn't watch the Denver-New England game until the 4th quarter, so I can't really get a read on these guys. I just don't get that "Super Bowl" vibe out of this Denver team. They don't really have a great defense, they don't really have a great offense, they don't have a gamebreaking player on either side of the ball. To be a championship team, something has to stand out. Nothing stands out with this team. Very good team, great record, but I just think they're going to run into a red hot Steelers team and lose.

(For the record, since I really have no clue on either of these games, this could easily be the "blowout" game with Denver whipping a worn out Steelers team.)

Pittsburgh 23 Denver 14

Carolina at Seattle (Line: Seattle -4.5)

Pick: Carolina +4.5

I've been going back and forth about this game.

Couple thoughts:

1. Is Carolina really this good, or are New York and Chicago just not that great? Since I've never really been all that impressed with the Bears or the Giants, I'm tempted to go with the latter. Still, when you watch Carolina, you can't help but be impressed with the personnel on their team. Their D is really athletic and aggressive, and that o-line has been dominant. Delhomme has morphed into the modern day Phil Simms, and Steve Smith is one of the most exciting players I've ever seen in football. You can double cover the guy all you want. He will bust open at some point, and you know Carolina will take advantage of it. Last time I checked, Jerry Rice was a pretty good football player. I'd guess that he was double covered a time or two in big games. Did he still find a way to make big plays? You bet.

2. Either Seattle's Defense is really underrated, or Washington's offense was just pitiful. I'm going with the latter. Washington was totally inept on offense last week. They had no push up front to establish a running attack, so Seattle could just pin their ears back and try to put pressure on Brunell. We'll see how good Seattle's D is when they're facing 3rd and 2 situations instead of 3rd and 11.

3. Seattle offense. This is the one area that concerns me with regard to picking Carolina. Seattle's offensive line is really good. They have good balance. Hasselback can make plays, and I think they can run the ball on Carolina no matter who is playing RB for Seattle. The Bears did move the ball consistently on Carolina. If Seattle wins this game, I'm going to look back at this point and kick myself.

3. Coaching matchup. John Fox vs. Mike Holmgren. I know, I know. Holmgren has the ring. Holmgren has won 2 NFC Championships (one of them as a road underdog). I can't knock Holmgren's success. Still, when it comes down to coaching, I'm picturing a fired up John Fox on the sideline pumping his guys up while Holmgren picks at his moustache and stares at his playsheet. I like the Fox matchup here. Remember, this is virtually the same Carolina team that went into Philly two years ago and won.

4. East Coast bias. Hey, I'll admit it. East coast bias is at work here. There's something about Seattle as a football team and as a city that I have a hard time respecting. Maybe it's Ichiromania. Maybe it's the pansy Starbucks thing. Maybe it's the whole trendiness of the Seattle area. It might even be the presence of Tyrone Willingham in that state. I know Seattle supposedly has the loudest stadium in the game, but I just can't buy into this notion that Seattle is a great football town. Seattle football fans strike me as the kind of fans who love doing "The Wave," and go crazy when the scoreboard lights up with "NOISE!!". I don't respect that city or that fanbase.

Carolina 27 Seattle 23

January 19, 2006

Big East Report

Since we’re starting to get into the meat of the Big East season, I thought I’d try to make some sense of this superconference with some quick thoughts on all sixteen teams in the league.

First, a couple thoughts on the new conference.

1. One thing I absolutely love about the new league is all the games on tv. You can turn on the tv literally any night of the week, and there is a Big East game on the dial. Connecticut-Syracuse, Pitt-DePaul, Louisville-St. Johns. Great stuff. Since there are so many teams in the league and the C-USA has been rendered to a mid-major at best, the Big East is getting tons of air time this year. Plus, Ohioans like myself have been getting more ESPN full court Big East games on the local stations. As a diehard Big East fan who likes to follow all the teams in the conference, I’m pretty much watching all of these games. Hands down the best new feature about the league is the extended tv coverage if you ask me. The more Bill Raftery I have in my life, the merrier.

2. The competition is phenomenal. Every night there are upsets, near upsets, and defining games. The middle of the league changes on a nightly basis. The stretch run in the Big East is going to be incredible with so many teams battling for NCAA births, and some teams even fighting just to get into the Big East tournament at the Garden.

3. The trouble with this league is that it seems highly unlikely that it will last past the five year agreement. You can already sense the rumblings, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see teams start griping about wanting out of the league by next year. Too many teams, too many egos, unbalanced scheduling. There are some decent teams in this league that are going to be pretty freaking depressed when they find themselves in 13th place in the standings. Every school in the league (other than South Florida) has decent tradition, and you gotta imagine that fans of Seton Hall and Providence are going to reach the point where they want to throw their hands in the air and get out. I don’t know if the league is doomed, but it feels like it might be. How can I embrace a league that we don’t know will exist in five years?

One other thing regarding Notre Dame. Listen, I understand the complaints about Mike Brey from ND fans. Even though I'm a Brey supporter, I'm not oblivious to the problems of recent ND teams. Believe me, I get it. The defense STINKS. The big men are soft. The team is unathletic, and hasn’t really shown that “play like your hair is on fire” attitude.

The last couple weeks have led to a lot of questioning of Brey and the state of the program. Every win gets the fanbase excited and feeling like the program is headed in the right direction. Every loss has fans questioning the program and especially Brey.

My two cents on this. Can we just wait and see how the season plays out before we start making these sweeping generalizations about the program? Why do we have to judge the entire season and the program after every win and every loss? It's a long season with ups and downs throughout. Did we get off to a slow start? Yes. Has this team performed poorly in big games this year? Yes of course. Still, hasn’t every Brey ND team gone through this type of malaise at some point in the season before rebounding with some big wins? Last year, everyone had written ND off before we responded with big home wins over BC and Connecticut. Bottom line, Brey has been the head coach at ND for five years, and has finished with no worse than a 9-7 record in the league in any of those years (only coach in the league to do that the last five years by the way). Until I see this team out of the hunt for an NCAA bid, I’m going to hold out hope that the season can be a successful one.

I know fans are starving for a tournament team and getting impatient, but I’m willing to wait and see how this season turns out before making a conclusion about the program. There are plenty of big games left on the schedule, and ND has a lot of chances to make some noise in the Big East. If ND steals a win at Marquette and comes back home to beat Georgetown, that 0-3 start will be a distant memory.

Ok, on to my rankings of the Big East teams:

1. Connecticut

Hands down the most talented team in the Big East, and definitely in the conversation for the most talented team in the nation. I’ve had a chance to watch their last three games (G’Town, Cincy, Syracuse), and they’ve been impressive. Armstrong, Gay, Rashad Anderson, Marcus Williams, Boone. They have size, point guard play, a talented wingman, and perimeter shooters. And oh by the way, they have Jim Calhoun. 2 NCAA titles for UConn in the last seven years. No reason to think they won’t be in the hunt for a third title this year. This team is still a little flaky at times, but Calhoun always seems to find a way to get his team rolling at the end of the season. I fully expect them to be playing in Indianapolis this March.

2. Villanova

If I had to pick my favorite team to watch this year, it’s Villanova. I love watching Foye and Ray. I actually think Nova will run into some trouble spots in the Big East because of all the physical play and size in the league, but I think they’ll be a real tough out in the NCAA tournament.

One other interesting ND parallel at work here. Jay Wright. Very successful at a small east coast school, hired by a Big East team, had some rough periods before putting it together the last couple years. Sound familiar? Did Wright suddenly become a better coach the last couple years? I suppose it’s possible, but I think Foye, Raye, Lowry, and Nardi have had a little say in Nova’s success lately. Talent matters. When a coach has great players, he suddenly can look a lot better than he did a couple years ago.

3. West Virginia

The man, the myth, the legend. Kevin Pittsnogle. The hillbilly hero. I have a lot of respect for West Virginia's decision to play some tough out of conference opponents. They will benefit from that down the road. There's another program in the Big East that I would like to see playing that type of nonconference schedule, and I'm pretty sure you know who that is.

Talk about a magical year for West Virginia sports. Elite Eight run for the hoops team, Sugar Bowl champions, great start for the 2005-06 team. There hasn’t been this much excitement for Mountaineer sports since Major Harris roamed the streets of Morgantown!

One other note about Pittsnogle. From Wikipedia Encyclopedia's profile of Pittsnogle:

"Kevin Pittsnogle inspired the verb "Pittsnogled" (past tense) deriving from the observable facts and events that led to Pittsnogle going from reserve center to cult hero in the space of a few frantic weeks leading up to the 2005 NCAA Elite Eight. His former high school basketball team manager, Justin Turner, defines the term as this: "When you're closely guarded and a man is in your face with his hand up and you shoot a 25-footer and you nail it in their face — then they have officially been Pittsnogled."


4. Pittsburgh

Laugh all you want about their style of play. They might win ugly, but all Pitt does is win. If you watch them closely, they do a lot of the little things on the defensive end and on the glass that good teams do. They challenge every pass into the lane and on the perimeter. They come to play every night. They know their roles. They get a ton of second chance opportunities on the glass. They score in transition. Are they pretty? No, but they aren’t a fluke either. Pitt probably doesn’t have the talent to make a deep NCAA run, but I don’t see how you can complain about a 25-5 type season if you’re a Pitt fan.

Maybe I should put Pittsburgh ahead of West Virginia, but I’ll give the Mountaineers the edge based on the big win at Nova.

5. Syracuse

Kind of a Jekyll and Hyde team. Maybe they don’t have the transcendent Coleman/Owens/Wallace/Anthony player that Boeheim always seems to get, but let’s not kid ourselves. Syracuse still has talent. Lots of size plus McNamara and Devendorf in the backcourt. Wouldn’t be surprised to see them playing in the Sweet 16, but also wouldn’t bat an eye if they went out in the first round. Feels like a 5/6 seed type team, but nothing more than that. Devendorf will be a serious thorn in ND’s side for the next four years.

6. Louisville

This is the first spot where the league really drops off. Seems like there are five safe bet tournament locks in the Big East followed by a bunch of incomplete teams. I gotta admit that I’ve been way off this year about Louisville. I actually had them as a sleeper Final Four team, but Palacios has been terrible and Dean’s been banged up. Not sure if too many people will agree with Louisville at #6. They’ve been terrible in the league so far, and really haven’t done anything to show they are a good team at any point this year.

Why do I have them at #6? One reason. Rick Pitino. Having watched the guy for all those years at UK and now at U of L, I have as much respect for Pitino’s coaching abilities as I do for any coach in America. I don’t want to jump off the bandwagon and then watch Pitino turn this ship around, so I’m sticking by Louisville’s side for now.

7. Georgetown

To be honest, I didn’t think much of Georgetown until last weekend. I thought they were way overrated last year, and pretty much wrote them off before this season. Seemed like there was a concerted effort last year by the media to promote JTIII before he had actually proven himself as a coach.

After watching UConn-Gtown game last weekend, I’m starting to change my tune about the Hoyas this year. I like their toughness, and they have some serious size. That game had an old school 80s Big East type feeling, and Gtown was right there until the end of that game. Gtown will be a matchup problem for ND next week. They don’t shoot the ball well from the outside (have they ever?), but the guards are quick and get to the bucket.

It’s great to have the Hoyas relevant again. They look like they have some good young talent with more on the way (including Doc Rivers’ son, Jeremiah Rivers). JTIII turned out to be a good hire after all. Only needs to add one thing to his look.

8. Rutgers

The RAC Attack. Maybe the most inexplicable phenomenon in the Big East. Rutgers is about as mediocre as it gets in the Big East, but as soon as they walk into the RAC, Rutgers turns into 1990 UNLV. It’s incredible. Seems like it happens every year. They could be 3-17 playing Duke at home, and I wouldn’t even bat an eye if Rutgers won the game.

Strange team. Seems like they’ll fade, but Quincy Douby is a legit stud.

9. Cincinnati

As the four readers who actually read this blog already know, I grew up a diehard UC Bearcats fan. Although I’m now living it up in Columbus and have even adopted Ohio State as my hometown hoops team, I still follow the UC program closely and have watched a good chunk of their games this year.

Two things:

1. The current team. UC has had a real nice start considering all the turmoil in the program, but they’ve reached a critical point in the season. Injuries/transfers have piled up, and they are pretty much running on fumes at this point. A walk-on football player played extended minutes the other night against Syracuse. Ronald Allen, big man from an NAIA school in New Orleans who was displaced following Hurrican Katrina, is the 7th man. UC has only two guys taller than 6’6” on the entire roster right now. You gotta wonder if this team can stay afloat. Eric Hicks is solid, James White has become a stud this year, and Devan Downey is going to be a monster at UC (if he doesn’t transfer), but after that, UC has next to nothing in the tank. Andy Kennedy has done a real nice job, and the team plays hard, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see UC fade in the second half of the season.

2. The future. There’s been a strong push among UC fans to try to get Andy Kennedy hired as the permanent head coach at UC. The logic is that AK would provide stability, and that Downey will stick around if Kennedy is still there. I agree that he’s done a nice job, but I’m not so sure I agree with this move. The general trendline for interim coaches (other than Jamie Dixon) is downward following initial success. Happened with Lavin. Happened with Ellerbe. Happened with Mike Davis. They win initially with the talent that they inherit, the school decides to hire the coach on a permanent basis, and then the program flounders when the recruits stop coming in. It makes more sense to hire someone who has taken the reins of a program and shown that he can build it from the ground up. Andy Kennedy hasn’t proven he can do that. Remember, this is the same Andy Kennedy who got turned down for the Louisiana-Lafayette job last year. I’m not sure I’d be handing him the keys to the UC program just yet.

10. Marquette

No real commentary on Marquette. I ranked them one spot ahead of ND for now simply based on the fact that they have better wins than the Irish at this point. Marquette has beaten UConn and DePaul (on the road). If the Irish win at Marquette on Friday night, I’ll gladly adjust these rankings.

11. Notre Dame

I hate putting ND at 11th in the Big East because I think we’re a better team than that, but we haven’t really proven that we deserve a better spot yet. All hope is not lost because we have been competitive in every loss, but it would have been nice to come out on top in a couple of those losses. Turn that Pitt double OT loss into a win, and we’d be in pretty good shape.

For the record, if we beat Marquette and Georgetown, I feel totally comfortable moving us all the way up to #7 (if not #6).

12. St. Johns

Another program that I would like to see rebound and become relevant again. I’ll support any team featuring Anthony Mason, Jr. Couldn’t the Johnnies work this ex-Knicks’ sons angle? Are there any young Starks or Oakley children out there ready for hoops?

The talent has been upgraded, but they still have a ways to go. Could be a team to watch in the future.

13. DePaul

DePaul is horrible, and getting worse. Home losses to Rutgers, Bradley, Bucknell, and Marquette. Blowout loss at Cincy and freaking Old Dominion. Now Wilson Chandler is injured. They might contend for last place in the Big East.

Why am I ragging on DePaul so much? BECAUSE WE LOST TO THESE CLOWNS! Inexcusable. That loss is going to look worse and worse for ND when DePaul finishes up at like 11-19.

14. Seton Hall

Another bad team playing in an NBA arena with no fan enthusiasm. Seems like Louis Orr’s days are numbered at Seton Hall. Interesting rumor regarding the replacement. There has been a lot of rumbling that P.J. Carlesimo is interested in coming back to Seton Hall. I have no idea how true this rumor is, but I would love to see PJ come back to college hoops. I gotta think it will be hard for PJ to ever get another NBA head coach job following the Sprewell incident, so college might be his best option.

15. Providence

Another one of those proud 80s programs that has completely fallen apart of late. Whatever happened to God Shammgod? Is he still in the NBA? Was he ever in the NBA? Can the Friars squeeze another year of eligibility for the Lord?

16. South Florida

Can we just make them a “football only” school in the Big East? About the only intriguing note about South Florida are all the rumors about Bob Huggins taking over that program next year. Personally, I think Huggins would be a steal for South Florida. Most of his recruiting in recent years has been in the south. He can bring in a bunch of athletic types, he’ll have virtually no academic standards, and he’ll be motivated to stick it to all the other squads in the Big East. If anyone could hold their own in the Big East at South Florida, it’s Bob Huggins.

January 18, 2006

Beware of the Graves-yard

Ok, there's weight gains, there's really large weight gains, and then there's what happened to Danny Graves this past offseason. These pictures are beyond disturbing. I honestly have no idea how an "athlete" puts on about 100 pounds and suddenly starts looking like a chick all in the matter of one offseason, but Danny Graves has managed to pull it off. Between the shoulder length hair, the black hairband, and the grandma earrings, the guy honestly resembles a 40 year old fat lesbian. Unless he's auditioning for a position with the National Organization for Women, I am totally baffled by this new look.

The close up (don't even try to tell me that looks like a man).

The frontal view (side left--just to prove that it is indeed Danny Graves).

Does that look like a major leaguer to you? Me neither. Good luck with that Indians fans. I would die to see the look on Mark Shapiro's face when he checks his email and sees those photos in his inbox.

Well, now that I mention it...........

January 14, 2006

NFL Quick Picks

Before I get to the NFL Playoff quick picks for this weekend, I have to admit that it still makes me ill to even think about the NFL after what took place last weekend. It's gotten to the point where every time I turn on the tv, I'm half-expecting breaking news that Carson Palmer's leg has actually fallen off.

First, the injury. Was it a dirty hit? Probably not. Could it have been avoided? Oh, you bet. Pretty sure the NFL warns every defensive player in the league to never hit a quarterback below the waist. Well, not only did Kimo drive his shoulder pads into Palmer's leg, he even wrapped his arm around the leg. Watch the replay. It happened. I have no doubt that Kimo was aiming at the lower half of Palmer's body. I don't think he meant to hurt the guy, but I thought it was a cheap shot that certainly heightened the risk of injury.

Second, the reports. When the injury first happened, I kind of just assumed it was a sprain and that Palmer would be fine. Then the reports started trickling in from the locker room. Possible ACL tear. Possible MCL tear. Uh oh. Panic ensues. Phone calls, checking the internet, Bengals.com. Just looking for any kind of update. At this point, the game became secondary. You knew it was only a matter of time before the Steelers took control of this game. I just wanted to check on #9 and find out the extent of that injury.

Third, the aftermath. ACL tear. MCL tear. Palmer comes out the next day, and announces that he'll be back by training camp. Bengal Nation breathes a sigh of relief. Then, rumors start swirling later in the week that the injury was more serious than Palmer or the Bengals were letting on. ACL was shredded. Dislocated knee cap. The word "career-threatening" started getting tossed around. It got to the point where the surgeon held a press conference to discuss the injury, and then held another one to clarify what had been reported. No one really knew what to believe. Where does Palmer stand now? I'm hopeful that the rehabilitation goes well, but I think it's safe to say that Palmer's future is a huge question mark at this point.

Needless to say, the city of Cincinnati has been in a state of panic all week. I just got into town last night for tonight's UC-Syracuse game (big game by the way), but you get the feeling that this town has been like a morgue since Sunday. Everyone seems to have that "I can't wait for next year, but what if......." attitude right now about the Bengals. You almost get the impression that the Palmer injury has the potential to strike a final death blow to Bengal fans if Palmer never comes back to be the same player he was before the hit. Now that we've tasted success, I'm not sure if I could get off the mat yet again if this franchise goes back into the tank.

So where do we go from here? Well, for starters, the defense needs to continue to add playmakers, especially at DT and Safety. The offense should be explosive again if Palmer and Henry come back, but we really won't know until next year. With a brutal schedule ahead next year, it's hard not to think the Bengals will take a step back.

One other thing-Chad Johnson--Time to grow up, and start playing like a champion.

Who Dey.

On to the NFL picks:

WASHINGTON at SEATTLE (Line: Seattle -9.5)

Pick: SEATTLE -9.5

Ugh. I hate that pick, but I have to say that I was not impressed with Washington at all last week. They weren't even trying to move the ball on offense, and probably would have eventually lost that game to Tampa Bay if that Tampa receiver had caught that ball in the end zone to tie it up. Washington has a solid D, but I think they'll need to score to stick around in this game.

I am not all that sold on Seattle either, but they're rested, playing at home, and should be able to score enough points to win this game comfortably.

As for Shaun Alexander, he's not the MVP of this league. Period. Has anyone seen the holes this guy runs through? Alexander doesn't even get touched until he's four yards down the field. I think he's a nice back, but I'm not buying this MVP talk.

There isn't any doubt in my mind who the MVP of the league is this year. I don't even need to say his name, but you know who I'm talking about:

Cut that Meat! Cut that Meat!


NEW ENGLAND at DENVER (Line: Denver -3)

Pick: New England +3

Seems like one of those games where you talk yourself into liking Denver, but can't do it. New England will find a way to neutralize Denver's running game, and put the game in Jake Plummer's hand. In the end, Jake Plummer is Jake Plummer. Put Plummer in a pressure situation against an opportunistic defense like New England, and he's a ticking time bomb.

As for Tom Brady, what else can I say? The guy NEVER throws a pick in a bad situation. He can make every throw on the field, and always seems to find an open man. Brady is as clutch as it gets in sports. I have no doubt that he'll play well tonight.

One other interesting note about Corey Dillon. I read Bill Simmons' new column from Friday, and couldn't help but laugh about this line:

"They struggled running the ball all season, capped off by a discouraging effort against the Jags in which Corey Dillon was moving with the zip of a woman trying to walk on ice in high heels."

Welcome back Corey Dillon. The most overrated running back in the league has shown his true colors again. It was only a matter of time. Whenever the Bengals needed a big 3rd and 1 conversion, you could count on Dillon tiptoeing up to the line and getting stuffed.

New England 27 Denver 21

Pittsburgh at Indianapolis (Line: Indy -9.5)

Pick: Indy -9.5

You didn't think I would pick Pittsbugh after what happened last week, did you? The Colts could put 50 up tomorrow, and that won't be enough for me.

Bengal Nation will be foaming at the mouth when the Steelers come to Cincy next year. I highly recommend that Kimo Von Oelhoffen come up with a fake injury and not make the trip.

Indianapolis 35 Pittsburgh 17

Carolina at Chicago (Line: Chicago -3)

Pick: Carolina +3

Why is everyone so high on the Bears? Am I missing something? Every time I think of Chicago, I am reminded of the Bengals walking into Soldier Field and completely drilling the Bears. The Bears went to Pittsburgh toward the end of the season and got rolled. Don't believe the hype. The Bears are not that good.

On the other hand, I was impressed with Carolina last week. They run the ball well, and Delhomme is an underrated QB. I feel pretty confident in saying that Carolina will shut down the Bears offense.

Carolina 21 Chicago 17

January 08, 2006

Who Dey

Just picked up a little Skyline for lunch, and I'm headed off to the bar to watch the first Bengals playoff game in 15 years!

Who Dey! I gotta admit that I wish I was in Cincy right about now.

Go Bengals! Don't have a good feeling about this game, but I'm just happy to be a part of NFL playoff football.

January 06, 2006

Fiesta Bowl Update

We Is ND hit Tempe by storm, and we have a few photos to highlight the weekend's festivities.

One of the highlights of the trip was seeing the Band of the Fighting Irish, under the direction of Dr. Kenneth Dye, outduel The Ohio State Marching Band at the Battle of the Bands. Yes, that is right, there is a new TBDBITL in town...

We frequented many of the local watering holes, and can honestly say that if Notre Dame had to be located in any other city, Tempe would probably be the first choice. There were some great fans out there, but only one displayed such a great enthusiasm for We Is ND. And for that, we reward the young man with his picture on this great website. What were the chances that the guys tailgating right next to us would have a We Is ND sock-wearer amongst them.

Finally, after 17 straight hours of drinking on January 2nd, we can neither confirm nor deny what we saw. But take a look at this photo, evaluate his mediocre performance in the National Championship game, and judge for yourself who we were partying with.

The Irish may not have won the game, but we had a blast and are already booking our reservations for 2007 in the National Championship. In Charlie we Trust...

2006 Championship Anthem

Just like the Super Bowl Shuffle preceded the '85 Bears date with destiny, who says it's too early for Notre Dame to adopt a song that unifies the team and fans cheering them back to the Fiesta Bowl? On the flight to Tempe, a mix with Will Smith's "Gettin Jiggy With It" came on and insperado struck. Last I checked, the Irish like dancing jigs. They also like the now fighting leader of the Irish, Coach Charlie Weis. Why not fuse the two into dance and merriment?

Gettin Charlie With It
to the tune of "Gettin Jiggy With It"

On your mark, ready, set let's go
Game plan pro
You know, I know, we go psycho
When the touchdowns score
We just can't sit, we gotta get Charlie with it, that's it.
Now come on shout it out loud - We Are N.D.
Got a coach to make us proud.
We gotta QB
Arm's got a lot of sling in it
Throws to his boys to win
Everybody's lookin at him dancin a jig
Here with this Brady kid
Hails from Dublin, Ohi
Orchestrating the comebacks
Heisman run is the next stop
Charlie's lickin his chops
Yo, the sky's the limit
With Irish style all in it
Gettin Charlie with it


Na Na Na Na Na Na Na
Na Na Na Na Na Na
Gettin Charlie with it

Stay tuned for two more verses. By the Blue Gold game, this puppy will be sweeping South Bend by storm. Ya heard.

January 05, 2006

The Mighty Quinn

Trick question: Which Quinn walks around campus sporting his Dublin Coffman H.S. (OH) letterjacket earned by accurately throwing balls at his target? Here's the story, of a man named Brady...right? Not so fast my friend! Difficult as it is to recover from the Sun Devil hangover after such a riveting football season (actually credit Rula Bula's with the hangover), it's basketball season now and the Quinn leading his Fighting Irish on a quest to the promised land is Chris.

In the Big East opener, The Mighty Quinn led the Irish into a hostile environment at The Zoo and clawed his way to a Peterson Events Center record 37 points. Two frantic end-of-game comebacks to force an extra period were triggered by clutch shooting and passing from #2. Unfortunately, career highs in points, assists (9) and minutes (49) weren't enough in a double-overtime, 100-97 defeat at Pittsburgh's hands.

Brey's bunch certainly depends on the senior guard's calm, yet fiery presence, evidenced by a near devastating loss with Quinn sidelined against IPFW. And, lest we forget, Chris single-handedly keeping Notre Dame close with 20 of his 26 points in the 2nd half in the tough loss to [cough] Michigan. The man with boyish features is the catalyst ND will depend on in the 16-team super conference that is now the Big East.

3 Encouraging Signs from the Pitt game:
1.Obviously, Quinn seizing the reins of leadership and pulling the proverbial "Jump on my back boys" routine made famous by everyone's favorite sparkplug. His confidence grows with each clutch game- very necessary for a team still searching for their identity.
2.10 team turnovers in 50 minutes of play. Great to see them playing smart, error-free ball. Hope it's more trend than aberration. I suppose it is less difficult making perimeter passes rather than working the ball into the paint, but I digress.
3.Bounce back ability. Anyone else a little surprised with the spunk of this team after nearly being upended last Friday by Wofford? I expected something more along the lines of a blow out, but taking the #22 ranked team to the wire on the road certainly bodes well for games to come.

3 Discouraging Stats from the Pitt game:
1.Timid Torin Francis' line: 29 minutes, 7 points, 3-11 FG, 1-4 FT, 1 PF. Uggh. The last one is most peculiar. Explain to me how your team commits 32 fouls and your biggest player accounts for a measly one of them. Bang Torin! Release the slumbering giant within.
2.Luke Zeller hoisting more 3's (10) than Quinn (9). Can't say I'm a fan of 6'11 white guys stepping behind the arc unless their name rhymes with Roy Nerfy. Certainly not a good idea softening Zeller up for the rugged Big East. It's literally a step back in the wrong direction and only stunting his progress.
3.Rick Cornett fouling out in 14 minutes of action. That's impressive, in a Chris Dudley kind of way. Don't get me wrong, I'm as big a Rick Cornett fan as there is. He's a head-banned, high-energy and aggressive big man with effective post moves, yet his proclivity for fouling relegates him to Brey's doghouse - not the place to be if you're looking for minutes. The Irish need his veteran leadership and scoring ability in conference play.

Time to get back to the winning ways this weekend versus DePaul. A Quinn named Chris shall lead the way.


Just wanted to get a quick update on the website to let all our "fans" know what is coming in the next few days/weeks.

Apologies for not having anything up here since December 29, but it's been a pretty crazy week out in Tempe. Should be some Fiesta Bowl updates coming in the next few days (Please bear with us. I'm still hungover from Monday night).

Also, look out for an early look at the 2006 favorites in our preseason top 10 college football poll. There will be some expected names, and possibly a few surprise teams included and a couple surprise teams excluded.

We got some decent feedback in Tempe on the "Quick Picks," so that might become a regular feature for the big weekend hoops games coming up over the next few months.

And it's getting to be about that time to dust off that old ball and glove for some baseball team/fantasy previews. The five best words in sports: "Pitchers and catchers report today." Should be some baseball stuff coming in the near future.