I know what you're thinkin'. You're thinkin', "How is Rooch going to take Kansas losing, and spin it into him somehow being right, despite the fact that he had them #1 most of the year and winning the National title?" Well, I'm sorry to disappoint, but I'm not gonna do that. I was wrong. Kansas obviously isn't going to be winning the NCAA Men's Basketball Championship in 2007. Everyone who said I had Kansas ranked too high all year wrong, you were right. I was naive and just flat out blind, while you were wise and smarter than I can ever hope to be. HAHAHAHA. Yea right. I'm sure you thought I was really thinking all those things. I still know more than you, silly. So I got the National champ wrong for the 3rd year in a row and 4th time in the last 5 years (yea I had Oklahoma when Cuse won it all in '03). Sue me. I still reserve the right to call myself a college hoops expert, and there;s very little you can do about it! And as an expert, I find it necessary to break down the games in this weekend's Final Four...
Georgetown Hoyas vs Ohio St. Buckeyes
*I personally can't remember the last time two legit 7-footers met in a college game period, let alone the Final Four, and that's what makes this match up so intriguing. Ohio St. has 7'1" man beast Greg Oden, the "freshmen" center that blocks virtually every shot within his reach, while G'town has 7'2" Roy Hibbert, who is a great passer, great rebounder and deft around the rim. I wouldn't be shocked if these two end up hiding in zone defenses rather than risking foul trouble by guarding each other, the fact that there's two dominant big men in the game is reason alone to make it a must see. While they may be the biggest on the court, those two Goliaths probably aren't the biggest reasons their respective teams have made it to the Final Four in Atlanta. For Georgetown, it's been great guard play, led by Big East player of the year, Jeff Green. Sure, Green may have traveled in that game winning shot over Vanderbilt in the Sweet 16 (and I don't care what Jay Bilas and his Duke law degree have to say about it), but the fact of the matter is, this guy can flat out ball. He can drive, dish shoot in traffic, shoot the three and is probably the only guy in the tournament that needs to be more selfish with the ball. He's gotten great contributions from Jessie Sapp (no relation to Warren), Patrick Ewing Jr (yes, it's Pat's kid), Jonathan Wallace (not related to 60 Minutes' Mike Wallace) and Jeremiah Rivers (yes unfortunately that's the son of Glenn Rivers MD even though he looks whiter than I am), but in order for the Hoyas to go all the way, Green is going to need to take over. For The Ohio St. University, Mike Conley Jr. and Ron Lewis are going to need to step up big. Oden is a load in the middle, but he's been much more a defensive presence than a scorer so far in his college career, especially in the tournament. Lewis and Conley have carried this team, and if they can't help penetrate the methodical Hoya defense, and get the ball to work inside out for open shots, then they may be in for a long day. Don't count them out though. Hell, I thought they were by far the weakest #1 seed in the field, but they're here and Kansas and UNC are not. I still like Georgetown as my original pick to come from that side of the bracket, and as long as OSU doesn't pull another miracle comeback out their ass, John Thompson III and his crew will be dancin' one more time in the final.
UCLA Bruins vs Florida Gators
*I don't even know why I should preview this game. I mean, wasn't it just a year ago that these two teams squared off in the finals? And didn't Florida mop the floor with UCLA by 16? Well, then they are just going to do it again right? To quote Lee Corso..."Not so fast my friend!" I've been saying all year that UCLA isn't' as good as they were last year, but something about his team has me feeling they are ready for victory this season. Maybe it's the lock down D they have that made Kansas' 500 McDonalds All-Americans look like D-III scrubs, or maybe it's the fact that Ben Howland is probably the best coach in the damn country. I know, if he's so great then why was his team blown off the floor in last year's final? I don't have those answers. Matter of fact, I don't usually have any real answers, but what I do have is eyes and ears. And they're telling me not only is UCLA ready to play, but Florida is far from it. Joakim Noah is flappin' is gums about how nobody respected the Gators and they proved everyone wrong. Excuse me? You were ranked at or near the top of the polls all season long, you were ranked as the #1 overall team in the tourney, you won the SEC regular season and tournament and you were given the easiest road to the Final Four. How is that no respect? Just because you're bitter about having a chicks haircut, and having your draft stock drop faster than Tom Brady's pants, doesn't mean the rest of us didn't respect your team. And just because I'm choosing UCLA now, doesn't mean I'm disrespecting the Gators. It's just tough to repeat, and the Bruins are a tough squad. Lok for this one to at least be a lot closer than the final last year, and for whoever wins this to cake walk to the 2007 NCAA National Championship.
*And one final college hoops topic I want to cover is the head coaching job at the University of Kentucky. Tubby Smith stepped down as coach this past week (many think right before he was to be fired) and took the head job at Minnesota. A step backward for him to be sure, but apparently he wanted out of the fish bowl that is Lexington. Hey, when you're the only game in town, sometimes the pressure is too much. I don't blame the guy, but the fact is he needs to be replaced. The hot name right out of the gate is former Pitino assistant at Kentucky and current Florida head coach, Billy Donovan. From what I've heard, he's more likely to head to the NBA if he goes anywhere, and why would he want to go there to begin with? Florida will pay him whatever he wants, and he's created a better program there than exists in Kentucky. Maybe his ego will tell him to go be the man in Kentucky, but I would have to lean towards no on that one. My pick for the job would have to be Tom Crean of Marquette. Michigan St.'s Tom Izzo, A&M's Billy Gillespie and Gonzaga's Mark Few are also big names out there, but I don't see any of them jumping. Izzo and Gillespie are already at big schools where they can build their own legend, while rumor has it Mark Few isn't going to leave for anything less than the Arizona job. Crean, on the other hand, looks prime to make the jump. He can recruit, he can coach and unless he's trying to go "Duke" at Marquette, this move makes sense for him. There's only so far you can go coaching at Marquette, Big East or no Big East. At Kentucky, Crean would have available to him the top talent in the country, and he'd really be able to see how good he actually is. Off course, after all that being said, watch Pitino come back and take the job. I know he just came out and said he doesn't want to leave Louisville, but ask the people in Providence, New York and hell even Kentucky how much water that holds (don't ask about him in Boston if you value your life). Even better, watch fat man Rick Majerus get the job. Yea I know, apparently nobody has been listening to his analysis on TV these past few years or they would realize that he can't even talk and breathe at the same time, let alone coach a division 1 power. Keep an eye on this situation though, because knowing Kentucky, and knowing Pitino, this thing's gonna get hotter than black market sales of Anna Nicole's ovaries.
Red Sox Update
*All the buzz in Red Sox Nation has been about the move of stud pitcher Jonathan Papelbon from the starting rotation to the bullpen. From what I've heard, most people are in favor of the move. After all, the Sox bully has been a disaster this Spring. Newcomers Joel Piniero and Brendan Donnelly haven't exactly impressed, and hold overs like Manny Del Carmen and Craig Hansen have yet to prove they have what it takes to handle the role. It looked as if the team was ready to hand the reigns over to Mike Timlin, but now that he's on the DL to start the year, Theo and friends felt as if moving Jon back to closer was the only way to solidify the pitching staff. While I can't really argue with that logic, it's what the team has said in the past that has me worried. What happened to the doctor's that told the Sox Papelbon's arm wasn't able to handle the rigors of being a closer? I thought pitching 3-4 times a week and the constant warming up and cooling down was going to kill this kid? Never mind the fact that I was looking forward to watching this kid contend for the Cy Young award and win close to 20 games, I wanna know if this move was made simply of of desperation. Could it be the team was misleading us before? Maybe Papelbon's arm is fine and they just wanted to try justifying moving one of the best closers in the league to the starting rotation. I can't say that makes me trust the front office very much, but at least that would mean he was healthy and capable right? And don't think this is a temporary solution. The way they baby pitchers in the majors these days, if Pap starts the season in the pen, they're gonna keep him in the pen. They don't want to have to send him to AAA Pawtucket and "stretch him out", because Lord knows what that could do to his "delicate" arm. Seeing as Dice K and Beckett have been so good this off season, I gotta say I'm a little less worried about this move, but I still wish he was in the rotation. Hopefully I'll be singing a different tune in a few months, but only time will tell. And as long as we're on it, I hope that tune is Brass Bonanza since I hear the Whalers might be returning to Hartford! You heard right! But that's a different story for a different day my friends.
*Take from this what you will. After tossing 5 no hit innings and striking out 6 on Monday, reporters say that Sox #1 import Daisuke Matsuzaka looked flat out sad in the locker room afterwards. Sure, I can understand being disappointed after walking 5 guys in 5 innings, but 5 base runners in 5 innings isn't exactly a bad thing. Don't get me wrong, it's not a great thing either, but nothing to pout over. My main reason for bringing this instance up though, is what his reaction could mean in the long run. On one hand, you gotta love the perfectionist side of this guy. It was said that in Japan he would throw pitches in the bullpen even after he pitched in a game, just to get some extra work in and try to fix any problems he had during the game. Hey, the guy loves to pitch, and when he doesn't meet his lofty standards, he takes it hard on himself. Maybe that's what we were seeing after this particular outing. But maybe, just maybe, we are beginning to see the side of this guy that won't be able to handle the pressure cooker that is Boston during those long summers. You know the media is going to be hard on him, so for him to be hard on himself like this is flat out unnecessary, and will probably lead to him being very frustrated. All I know is, this isn't the team to be on if you're prone to emotional peaks and valleys, just ask Carl Everett. On second thought, don't ask Carl, he probably just get up in your face and bump you in the chest, or hit a dinger when his team is down 11 and act like he won the World Series. Wait, I'm totally off track now. Stupid Carl Everett. Anyway, back to the point. While Dice-K has looked good this Spring, we have to be just as concerned with his mental strength as we do his physical strength, and this latest action has really thrown a Gyro Ball into the whole thing. Can he thrive under the pressure? I think he can. But not if he's letting too many walks in a Spring game get to him. Go slam a few Japanese brewskis my man. it'll all be better in the morning. If that doesn't work, just hit a ball off of Matt Clement's leg. I don't know if that will help, but God it would be doing the rest of us a huge favor. Konichiwa!
*Just a reminder. The Red Sox season will begin on Monday April 2nd when the Sox travel to Kansas City to take on the Royals. Looks like Schill will be on the mound to start the season, which is a good thing, and it's always a good thing when you play the Royals isn't it?
News and Notes
*Apparently, though a lot of us sometimes wonder, there is actually a God. Why do i suddenly know this you ask? No, I haven't been incarcerated. Nor has the almighty appeared to me in a dream. To be honest with ya, most of the time I just dream about being at parties and hot chicks, and yes sometimes those women are drenched in delicious oils. But back to the point here. I know there's a higher power out there for this one sole reason. ESPN removed Joe Theisman from the Monday Night Football booth. Thank the Lord. I understand a lot of people aren't huge fans of Tony Kornheiser in the booth either, but if Theisman stayed in the booth one more game, I was going to start cutting myself, and for real this time! He's just always been one of those guys that when he opens his mouth you say "Wait, you played the game and won a Super Bowl?" I've been listening to the guy for years, since his days on Sunday Night Football, and I don't think he's made a single viable point, or a single intriguing observation. And when they added Kornheiser to purposely butt heads with Theisman, shit just hit the fan. Joe didn't understand what the dynamic was supposed to be, and always came off as if his feelings were hurt. Well Joe, you'll have plenty of time to cry now that you're not on MNF. And feel free to change the pronounciation of your last name again to try and land a new gig. No, I don't think you'd sound cool as Joe TheisMonday Night Football.
*I'm not one that tries to create mass hysteria (although maybe that would be a much more effective way of increasing my number of readers), but sometimes I need to be the bearer of bad news. The bad news this time, is that Patriots second year running back, and my personal hero, Laurence Maroney, underwent shoulder surgery this week that could keep him on the sideline up until close to the start of the season. League sources say that the surgery revealed Maroney had "fairly significant damage" to his shoulder, and it's still unclear how long the rehab may be. Pats spokesman, Stacey James (yes that's a dude for those who don't know), didn't have a comment on how this would effect Maroney's involvement in the off season conditioning program, but seeing as the Pats never comment on that stuff, you can't take much from that. Maroney is coming off a great rookie season to be sure, but he's also coming off a season in which he tore rib cartilage and suffered a minor knee sprain. Doesn't sound all that good now does it? But hey, would the Pats have parted so easily with Corey Dillon if they thought Maroney would be dinged up for the entire 2007 season? I wouldn't think so. Unless of course they were clearing cap space to bring in another RB. Geez. Another double edged sword. You know the more I write the more I'm worrying myself with this thing. And when I look at how Maroney's production dropped off (4.3 yards per carry in regular season, 2.8 in the playoffs), it worries me even more. But I'm not gonna lose faith. Keep these 3 things in mind. 1) It's only March 2) Maroney is young and can recover quickly from injuries, and 3) It's the Pats, you knows how much info we are actually getting on how healthy he is right now. All I wanna say at this point is get well soon Laurence! Not just because I have his jersey, but because if he's hurt I may have to change my Pats prediction to have them going 15-1 or God forbid, 14-2. Ewww.
*"Cut That Meat" hosted SNL this weekend. And to be honest, from the clips I've seen, he looked pretty damn funny. Now I know nobody watches SNL anymore. Frankly, even if I were still home on Saturday nights, or if the show aired at a different time, I probably wouldn't watch it because I don't think I can name a single person on there anymore (can I get maybe some Daryl Hammond or Tim Meadows?). But that doesn't take away from the fact that the NFL's favorite hick (sorry Favre, it's over buddy. Make sure to wash down your next "dose of pills" with some JD), Peyton Manning, did a damn good job as host. I hate giving Manning props and all, but hey when you're funny, you're funny. And who knows funny better than me? If you answered "no one", then you're correct. Take a look at the video and judge for yourself though. It's almost as enjoyable as watching Peyton drilled into the turf by Richard Seymour, without the screaming and cheering of course.
*I guess I can't say that I talk about all the is sport without touching on the National Basketball Association once in a blue moon. And who better to talk about when it comes to the NBA than Colorado's favorite son, Kobe "Wait, I thought she said No, Don't Stop!" Bryant. I mean, when a guy becomes the first player since Wilt Chamberlain, and only the second all time to score 50 or more points in 4 straight games. Pretty sick, especially for an accused rapist. Bryant didn't really stop there either, netting 43 in his attempt to make it 5 straight 50+ games. I may despise the guy for his pompous attitude and hatred for my main man Shaq Daddy, but anyone that averages 53.6 points a game for any time period deserves some props. And believe me, I'd love to take this opportunity to tell you that even I could score that many points if given the amount of shots Kobe's taking, or that he isn't making his team better with all these shots, but it just ain't the case. Not only are the Lakers 5-0 in this stretch (after being winless in their previous 7 games), but Kobe is shooting 53% from the field and a sizzling 48% from 3 in that span. That man can sure ball, no doubt about it. But that doesn't change the fact that he cheats on his wife and has no real friends! Ha! Had to sneak that in there to keep my sanity. That's what you get for stealing my number you huge toolmanski!
*And just when he thought I forgot, I pulled him back in! (Godfather III anyone?) In that instance, Michael Corleone was talking about the new era mafia, namely Joey Zasa. In this instance, I'm talking about Isiah Thomas, coach of the New York Knicks. Good ole Zeek prolly thought that in the midst of the NCAA tourney, NFL free agency and various other news that I'd miss the fact that he was actually given a contract extension! Well you aren't nearly as lucky as it may appear my friend, because I miss nothing! But seriously, a contract extension for this guy? This only proves my original point, that owner James Dolan is just as big a moron as Thomas! I'll be the first to tell you that the Knicks have improved with Isiah as coach this year, but its' pretty hard not to improve on a 23-59 record isn't it? And it's not like they're blowing that record out of the water, going 30-40 so far this season. To make matters worse, when Zeke was given the extension the Knicks actually sat in 7th in the playoff race, while right now they currently sit 10th, 2 full games out of the final spot. Honestly, I think it's a miracle the guy hasn't been canned, let alone have his contract extended. Am I the only one that remembers how eager New Yorkers were to get this guy out of town last year? The only reason he's coaching, for cryin' out loud, is because Dolan basically said to him "you created this mess, so you better fix it, or you're gone". Well, I'm no Mr. Fix-It, but nothing seems fixed to me. Duct taped? Possibly. But I wouldn't say fixed. To put it simply, the team may be better than last year, but they still aren't good. And as long as Isiah is in the organization, I don't see the future getting any brighter. Lucky for me I hate the NBA, and the last Knick I liked was John Starks. Come on now, that man was a straight gangsta. Oh yea, maybe Anthony Mason too. He had some pretty ill haircuts back in the day.
NCAA Pool Breakdown
Current Leader: Johnny "Sun Chips" Ahern - Has all 4 Final Four teams (one of 4 entries with all 4)
Total: 107 points
*Some would argue that I should use this opportunity to break down exactly who wins in each of the 8 possible outcomes of the Final Four, but I'm not gonna. And you can't make me! Good luck to everyone still alive though!
*Curiosity got the best of me. After about a week of watching ads for the new Right Guard body spray, I absolutely needed to know who the chick in the ads were. Something about her just screamed "Doesn't it look like Denise Richards had a white hot sex baby with Jennifer Love Hewitt?", and I needed to know who it was. I'm not gonna stalk her or anything, but having her name will make it a lot easier for me to search for phony sex tapes....I mean wallpaper for my desk top. Thankfully for you, I found her name, and it's April Scott. She's hot, you know she's hot, and you're welcome. Google Images awaits you my friends.