Monday, February 20, 2006

Not Boding Well For US in Italy

US Making Headlines For All the Wrong Reasons
So let's do a little recap. So far, Bode Miller, perhaps the athlete with the biggest hype going into Torino for the US, is 0-3 in his events. Not only that, he continues to talk about how the medals don't matter to the athletes, and how he can't wait until the Olympics are over so he can go back to being a "normal guy". Well, Bode shouldn't have too much trouble blending in after the games, because he will look just like the rest of us without any Olympic gold medals. Next on the chopping block is US women's snowboarder Lindsey Jacobellis. After doing ads for Dunkin' Donuts and the Visa Check Card building up to the games, Jacobellis had the gold medal in the snowboard cross in her hands. That is until she made one last attempt at showmanship on the final jump of the race. Lindsey went for a flashy board grab, and ended up falling flat on her back. Her huge lead was gone, and she had to settle for silver. She was in tears at first, but then fell back (much like Miller) and said how she does that often for more speed and that she's happy with the silver medal. That brings us to the US women's hockey team. The co-favorites for gold with the Canadians, they fell in the semifinal round to Sweden, meaning the best they can do is a bronze. With all this disappointment, its making it harder and harder for people back in the states to watch events they had no interest in watching in the first place. Luckily there is some positive news coming out of Turino for the US. Speedskater Shani Davis became the first African American to win an individual gold medal in the winter games when he won the 1000 meter event. His win comes days after Bryant Gumbel made comments saying how winter Olympic winners can not consider themselves the finest at their sport because they were not competing against African Americans. I'm not going to give his comments a second thought, because frankly, it seems he's just trying to get back into the mainstream spotlight by making some controversial comments. What I will do is congratulate Davis for his historic victory, and giving those back home something to cheer about, rather than having to apologize for the behavior of some of his teammates.

All Star Weekend?
Well the NBA's All Star weekend has done very little to make me change my mind that the NBA is on the decline. The 3-point contest and skills competition were snoozers as usual, and while the dunk contest provided some nice moments, the best performer didn't win. When I watch the dunk contest I like to be wowed, I like to see a dunk I have never seen before. Philadelphia 76er Andre Iguodola did that, twice. Andre's loop behind the back and his feed from the other AI off the back of the backboard were both creative and well executed. Meanwhile, champion Nate Robinson made it to the "dunk off" with a leap over Spud Webb (seen it), and won it with a dunk that was run of the mill and took 14 attempts to pull off! I don't know if the answer is to penalize someone for needing multiple attempts, because often it takes two or three tries to pull off a truly innovative dunk. But taking 14 tries to essentially throw the ball off the backboard and alley oop it, doesn't sound like a slam dunk champion to me.

College Hoops Top 10 (2/19)
1. Duke (25-1) 1
2. Memphis (24-2) 3
3. UCONN (23-2) 2
4. Villanova (21-2) 4
5. Gonzaga (22-3) 8
6. Texas (22-4) 5
7. Florida (22-4) 6
8. NC State (21-5) NR
9. Pittsburgh (20-4) 9
10. West Virginia (18-7) 7

just missed: Ohio St., Kansas, Washington, LSU
dropped: (10) Ohio St.

Overrated: Illinois, BC, GW
Sleeper Teams: Northern Iowa, California, UTEP

2/26 Villanova @ UCONN

* A rematch of last week's game of the week, where Villanova came out on top. Now the scene shifts to Storrs. UCONN will look for revenge, and help strengthen their case for a #1 seed in the tourney. Josh Boone only saw the floor for 17 minutes in the first meeting, look for that to change this time around. Just like last time, this game goes beyond the Big East, and will help determine where these two teams end up come March.

Other Big Games to Watch This Week
Ohio St. @ Michigan St.
UTEP @ Memphis
UNC @ NC St.
Tennessee @ Florida
Ohio St. @ Michigan St

Villanova @ Cincy
George Mason @ Hofstra

BC @ NC St.
Iowa @ Illinois
Kansas @ Texas

California @ Washington

Syracuse Update
Last Week: Cincy 82 Syracuse 65; Syracuse 79 Louisville 66
This Week: 2/20 West Virginia; 2/25 @ Georgetown
Record: 18-8
Big East: 6-6
vs RPI Top 50: 1-8
Last 10: 4-6
RPI: 32
SOS: 10
Key Wins: UTEP, @ Cincy
Key Losses: (Bucknell and Seton Hall were here, but they are now better teams than Syracuse)

*Typical week for Syracuse. On one hand, they get killed by Cincy in the Carrier Dome, and on the other hand they return the favor to a struggling Louisville team. So, they are keeping with their season by losing to teams that are strong and beating teams that are hapless. Their resume speaks for itself at this point, they can't beat anyone that's any good and it doesn't look like that's going to change. Add to that, they are the worst free throw shooting team in the conference at about 66% which is pathetic. This week should really make or break their tourney chances with games against two top 25 opponents.


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