The Seattle Hornets

The Seattle Hornets

The Seattle Hornets
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Written by Terrance Sutton

Our Natural Disaster Correspondent, PatPhish returns with his outlook on Tropical Storm (soon to be Hurricane) Gustav…

I sure hope Chris Paul can swim…

How stupid is David Stern for moving a team with a good fan base to Oklahoma City, when the team that should be there is about to become homeless……again? I guess the Saints will have a great year playing in the new open air Super-nondome. Living in South Florida, I have been forced to become a bit of tropical storm expert. Basically, New Orleans is FUCKED. I don’t mean Katrina fucked, with flood waters that eventually recede. I mean “Holy shit, it looks like Beruit, blown to smithereens, off the freaking map FUCKED.”

I lived through Charlie, Frances, and Jeanne in 2004, also Katrina and a very nasty Wilma in 2005, and we suffered severe damage. Charlie ripped apart the west coast and Wilma shredded my area in Palm Beach County. The big difference is that Florida is mostly new construction, built after tough codes were introduced after Andrew destroyed southern Dade County in 1992. New Orleans is a poor city, built to house poor people, with substandard materials to non-existant code. Every building there was weakened by the Katrina flood and get this…….THE CITY IS STILL BELOW SEA LEVEL. I feel for the people that went back to rebuild it, who grew up there and whose roots are there. It was a great city. If Gustav stays on course and levels it, it needs to left alone to die.

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An Interview with “Mr College Football” Tony Barnhart

An Interview with “Mr College Football” Tony Barnhart

An Interview with “Mr College Football” Tony Barnhart
Comments

Written by Terrance Sutton

Seeing as how college football is just around the corner, we here at Sparty and Friends thought it would be great to get an interview with a well-known college football writer. We feel as though we hit the jackpot when Tony Barnhart agreed to speak with us. Barnhart has been an institution in the South for the last 30 years, and is without question the college football writer in the South. Formerly of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution – he took a buyout last year – Barnhart maintains his college football blog (Mr. College Football) for the AJC while doing some television work for CBS and CSS. Barnhart talks about the current state of newspapers, Tim Tebow’s legacy and how those of you who are in favor of a plus-one format might not have to wait too much longer to see that happen.

When did you know you wanted to be a sports reporter?

Well, I didn’t start out wanting to be one because I had made it out in my mind that I was going to be a high school football coach. I played football but I was small but I compensated by being exceedingly slow, but I was going to college and I was going to major in physical education. I loved football and I loved being around it. I was very close to my head coach and that was what I wanted to do, but I got to college and one of the things that you had to do was you had to take education courses and I’ll never forget the first educa-tion course I took. Outside the door of the class room was a salary chart of what first year teachers in the state of Georgia made and I took a look at that and I said I don’t know if I want to be a high school football coach or not. I had always done a lot of reading and writing growing up. My mother was a big time reader and she taught me to love reading and writing and stuff like that. The student paper at Georgia Southern (George-Anne) had a note on the bulletin board saying they needed some help in their sports department, and I thought that was something I could probably do. They sent me to a Georgia Southern basketball game and I get to the Hanner Fieldhouse and I got to the table on the front row and their was a seat that had my name on it. I sat down and waited a little while and a pretty girl came by and gave me a game program and another pretty girl came by and gave me a coca cola and I said I think I am going to like this sports writing thing. I transferred to Georgia because I didn’t want to go to journalism school and I went to work at the Red and Black (student newspaper) and that’s when I really got busy. When I transferred to Georgia I knew that’s what I really wanted to do. How I was going to get there I wasn’t sure, but that’s how it all kind of got started.

What keeps you in the business?

More than anything is being in the stadium on Saturday. To me, for everything else that goes on in the business that maybe you don’t like and you struggle with, it is being there on Saturday because Saturday never changes. It’s bands, fall colors, two teams, tradition; it’s all those things and I started my love affair with college football when I was 13-years-old and it never stopped.

As you are well aware, the AJC, like many major dailies, is in trouble. What do you think newspapers will look like 5 years from now?

I think the printed product is going to continue to be small because you just can’t justify the printing and distribution costs. Advertis-ers have found different ways. To me the biggest mistake that newspapers made — and it’s easy for me to say this now because I’m saying it in hindsight — is that they knew the internet was coming and they knew that news was going to be on the internet. They knew all of that. I think the big thing that newspapers didn’t see coming and didn’t react to was the advent of stuff like Craig’s List where you can have a searchable database of classified ads to find anything you want. Why would you hold up a big sheet of classified ads when you can search a database? I think had newspapers gotten ahead of the curve on that I think they’d be in much better shape. To answer your question I think the printed product is going to continue to be small and limited in space, but I think the online has incredible potential as blogs and everything continue to grow. The only thing they have to do is generate the revenue and I think there are a lot of smart people and they will eventually do it, but going through this transition right now is very difficult.

You have one of the better blogs of any of the mainstream reporters. What is it you like most about blogging?

Several years ago [the AJC] came to me and told me that they wanted me to do a blog. I said, “Hey, that’s great, but what’s a blog?” They sort of explained to me what they were looking for and I said, “Ahh, what you want me to do is to write something to get people to argue amongst themselves.” I said I can do that. I really enjoy the blog. There is a certain freedom that comes with it. Now, there is not a license that goes with it, but you are free to mix news and opinion as long as you make it clear that is exactly what it is, because it is opinion. The interaction with the readers is something that I really like. I don’t get to go back to my blog and interact as much as I’d like to because I’ve got other things going on, but I love reading, with a few exceptions, what the readers have to say. I haven’t read every college football blog out there but I’d have to believe that the folks that I hear from are some of the most knowledgeable football people around. They take the sport very seriously and I like that. Getting that immediate feedback can be a little intimidating, but for the most part it’s a lot of fun.

Are we in the midst of the best college football era in terms of talent and coaching in your opinion?

I think we are. I said this not long ago that I think we are going to look back at this time as really the golden age of college football. There have been a lot of great eras in college football and I’ve written about them and studied them and all that, but when you think about the popularity of college football, how ultra competitive it is, the interest in college football has always been high – particularly in the South – but right now it’s a year round thing. People that I hear from cannot wait for the season to get here. They get to July and they start going nuts. When you look at how competitive college football is and the interest — like it or not the BCS has created a lot of that interest from region to region — I think right now we will look back and say that this is the golden age of college football.

In the last few years the SEC has really staked its claim as the premier conference. Why has this happened?

You have to remember that back in the 70’s and 80’s, television was a low-impact thing on college football. There was one game on each week and it just simply did not have that great of an impact. I think things began to change in 1984 with the Supreme Court case that basically said that schools owned there own television rights and could strike their own deal. What happened with the explosion of college football, to me, that allowed a program like Florida State, who was a regional program, to be able to quickly turn that program into a national program because of the explosion they had on television. Now a kid who grows up in South Georgia can envision himself playing at Southern Cal so it really shrunk the world. I think more of the great players, particularly in the South, stayed home because Notre Dame couldn’t come down here and say if you come to Notre Dame you’re going to be on television. Just about every game is on television and I think the great players in the South have stayed home, and the other thing that has really helped the SEC is the resources. When you look at the resources that that SEC has now, even back as far as 1990 when Roy Kramer first became commis-sioner, I think in 1990 the 10 SEC schools shared $16 million in revenue. This year it was over $125 million and it is only going to go up with the new TV contracts. So having the resources and having the money is a big part of this.

Do you think there is truth in the thought that people just care more about college football in the South?

Oh there is simply no doubt about it. I always tell people — and I did my first book Southern Fried Football on this — college football in the South is not a game, here it’s a way of life. People live it. Pat Dye told me one time that people enjoy football in other parts of the country , but down here it’s a part of our life. It’s a big part of who we are. I think college football in the South, obviously I am prejudice because I grew up in the South and I’ve spent my entire career in the South, is more engrained in the culture here than it is anywhere else because we talk about it 365 days a year. There’s no off season for college football in the South. Here’s a great example: In May of 2008, spring practice had been over for well over a month, the Braves were playing, the Falcons were in mini camp, the Triple Crown was going on and the NBA was going into the playoffs, but the No. 1 blog at the AJC was Mr. College Football. And that’s not because of me, that’s because of the subject matter. People want to talk about, read about and think about college football 12 months out of the year. I think the people at the AJC were really surprised, but I wasn’t because that’s the depth that people care about college football in the South.

You can’t talk about the SEC without discussing Tim Tebow. Is he about to become the greatest college football player of all time?

I think he’s got that possibility. The best college football player I’ve ever seen was Hershel Walker as a freshman at Georgia . This kid [Tebow] is so extraordinary. Not only for the kind of person that he is because there is not a phony bone in his body, but he is ultra competitive. The brighter the spotlight and the tougher the competition, the more he likes it. Last year at the SEC Championship game I wrote that Tim Tebow should win the Heisman trophy. I said forget the numbers. Bradford and those guys have the numbers. If this is about numbers than you need to vote for one of those guys, but if it’s about something more than that [you should vote for Tebow]. Tim Tebow literally, right before our eyes, willed his team to win that football game. He made sure they were going to win that game. Alabama had the game right where they wanted it, and I’ve talked with the Alabama coaches. When the third quarter of that game had ended, they had put together two long drives against Florida , had taken the lead, and they were ready to apply the knock out punch. The game was going exactly the way the Alabama people had wanted it to go, but what they couldn’t account for was Tebow. If they can win another national championship and he can win another Heisman trophy, which I certainly think is possible, you’re talking about a kid who played on three national championship teams in his four years of college and has broken every record you can imagine. So, yeah, I think you would have to call him, if he does all of those things and I understand that’s an if, the greatest. People wonder what makes him tick and they wonder about this and that. About a year-and-a-half ago I said quit wondering about this guy and enjoy it while he’s here because he’s going to be gone and we are going to look back and go, man, that guy was really something. Here’s a kid who came out of high school, and I don’t follow recruiting so I didn’t know anything about Tebow until he got to college, but I had all of these people telling me how great this kid was and I said I’ll wait and see. He’s one of those kids, like Hershel Walker, who lived up to the hype the first day he walked on to campus.

Outside of the big three of Florida , Texas and Oklahoma , who is the most likely to make a run at a national title?

After those I think you’d have to go with Southern Cal simply because of the talent that is there. They’re going to have a new quarterback for a second straight year, and that’s unusual, but they always seem to have somebody who can play the position. Given the conference that they’re in, overall talent base and looking at their schedule they have a chance to do it, but I personally think it is going to be just like last year. It’s going to be the SEC champ and the Big 12 champ. Maybe one of the teams from the Big 10. Right now a lot of people are picking Ohio State, but I’m picking Penn State in the Big 10 because they get Ohio State at home. Maybe one of [the Big 10 teams] can slip through…but I would be surprised.

What do you think the Big 10 needs to do to get back to a level that they can compete with the best SEC teams?

Well, they need speed. I think that’s been the big differential and you’ve seen that in the national championship games when the SEC would line up against Ohio State. I mean, Ohio State is a great football program, and I think Jim Tressel is one of the top five coaches in all of college football, but the fact of the matter is they simply do not have the athletes, particularly on the defensive side of the ball. To me that’s the biggest difference between the SEC and everybody else. Everybody’s got wide receivers that can run, running backs that can run and quarterbacks who can throw and all of that, but to me the thing that separates the SEC — and this is not my idea, Pat Dye told me this 20 years ago —is defensive linemen who can run. We saw it a couple of years ago when Florida played Ohio State. Troy Smith sprints out to his right and he gets chased down from the back side by Derrick Harvey and he looks around and goes, “What is this?” I mean, the defensive linemen in the SEC can run as fast as running backs and they can certainly run faster than most quarterbacks. To me that is the biggest difference. Ohio State has got a player like that in Cameron Haywood, who by the way happens to be from Atlanta, Ga. So the Big 10 has got to come South where these kids grow up. For whatever reason they’re down here, and to me they have to come South and find speed, particularly on the defensive line.

What was your most memorable moment covering college football?

December 2, 1989. That was the day that Alabama played at Auburn for the first time in history. You have to understand the history in that Alabama under Bear Bryant had always played the game in Birmingham. Birmingham is an Alabama town. Bear Bryant always swore that the Alabama-Auburn game would always be played in Birmingham and it would never go to campus. Well, coach Bryant retires, Pat Dye comes on as head coach and athletic director at Auburn and it took a while to negotiate, but it finally happened. It was by far the most emotional day I’ve ever spent at a college football game. The people there were so emotional. All of the sudden, with everything else going on, Alabama coming to Auburn for the first time after swearing they would never come, Alabama shows up ranked No. 2 in the nation and they’re undefeated. If they beat Auburn they win the SEC championship and they get to play for a chance at a national championship, and all of that was on the line in this incredible, emotional drama. I’ll never forget they had the Tiger walk at Auburn where they walk down the street from Sewell Hall to the stadium and the state patrol told us there was at least 30,000 people lining the street and there were grown men crying because it was such an emotional day when this finally happened. Then for Auburn to beat Alabama, knock them out of a shot at a national championship and share the SEC championship was just incredible, and I’ll never forget being there.

Who is your sleeper pick to make a run at a national championship?

It would have to be somebody from the Big 10, because it is just hard to see anybody else getting there. I think Oklahoma State is going to be a really good team, but their defense is still not very good. I think LSU is a team that you have to watch and I think Alabama is a team that you have to watch if they get on a role. The only other dark horse out there is California. I like California; I’ve got them at No. 10 in my preseason poll. Javid Best is the best player not named Tim Tebow, Colt McCoy or Sam Bradford. He’ll be the fourth guy who can get in the Heisman race, but he’ll be a distant fourth because of those three guys. I’ve got like five magazines that I use for research, and all five of them in some order have Florida, Texas, Oklahoma and USC [as the top teams]. I have not seen any kind of a preseason poll that did not have those four teams in some order, and I think when all is said and done, I think one of those teams will win it. I’m not on the Ole Miss bandwagon, by the way. I think Ole Miss is a good team, but given what they’ve lost and given the unusual situation they’re in — that everybody is loving on them — I just think it’s going to be difficult for them to win the division.

Do you think Paul Johnson will have Georgia Tech competing for national championships in the next five years?

I don’t know about national championships because it’s difficult to get the kind of depth you need, but I don’t think it’s not a question that they are going to be competing for an ACC championship. This is just a personal viewpoint of mine, but I don’t talk about national championships that much because there is just too much luck and too many variables. To me, I evaluate coaches on their ability to compete for the conference championship that they are in. If you win the conference championship, you know, and a few things fall right, you’ll get a chance to play for something else. But I never evaluate coaches on their ability to win national championships. There is too much luck involved.

Who was the best coach you’ve ever covered in terms of giving you stuff to write about?

That’s [Steve] Spurrier. I mean, Spurrier was the whole package. He was an offensive genius who came to Florida. If you think about what Spurrier did, and I’ve said this before, Spurrier, next to Bear Bryant who is the seminal figure of our time when it comes to coaches, had the greatest impact on the SEC of any coach who’s ever been in the league. If you think about it, when he came to Florida in 1990, Florida had never won 10 games, Florida had never won an SEC championship and had never even sniffed a national championship. He wins six SEC championships — seven if you count 1990, like he does — and is consistently a 10-11 win team. He had an incredible number of athletes and he was entertaining as all get out. You could call him and he would invariably, if he was in the mood, say something that would really entertain you.

What is the best game day atmosphere in college football?

Wow. There are so many good ones that people ask me what’s my favorite stadium to go to and I say you’re asking me to pick among my children. That’s the neat thing, particularly about the South, is every game day has it’s unique qualities. I’ll always love going to Georgia, that’s my alma mater. Sanford stadium, sitting there on a fall Saturday, there’s just nothing like it. It’s just the best. After that, I love going to Ole Miss and sitting in the Grove with friends, that’s something unique. Tailgating by the Tennessee river for a Tennessee game and the Vol walk and all of that kind of stuff is special. I don’t get to go there much more, but I used to love to go to Chapel Hill, which is one of the most beautiful stadiums I’ve ever been to. That’s the neat thing about the South. We have a lot of fun places to go. Baton Rouge in Saturday night, there ain’t nothing like that. Two years ago when Florida played at LSU — that was the game that Les Miles went for it on fourth down like 97 times and made it — Verne Lundquist at CBS is a very good friend of mine, and it was the first time that he had been there for a Saturday night game, and he said, “Tony, that was the most incredible atmosphere that I’ve ever seen.” When LSU is good, there ain’t nothing like it, and we’re going to have the same atmosphere on October 10 [when LSU hosts Florida]. That was one of the first ones that I put on my schedule when the time came.

Do you think Utah was jobbed by the BCS last year?

Well, no is the short answer, but you have to understand what we are arguing about. I’ve tried to pose this to other people: Are you arguing that this system jobbed Utah? If you are than you can’t say Utah got cheated out of a chance to play for the national championship because they had as much of a chance as Texas, Florida and Oklahoma and everybody else. The 175 people whose job it is to vote in those polls, they picked Utah seventh. So is the argument that Utah should have gone over Florida, Oklahoma or Texas? I mean Utah had their opportunity. Now, if you want to argue that the system should include more than two teams, and if it did, Utah would have gotten an opportunity to play for it, to me that is a totally different argument, and we can have that argument. The problem I had about everybody talking about Utah was that everybody was showing love to Utah after they beat Alabama. They needed to show the love to Utah after they finished 12-0. They should have showed the love then. Utah’s own coach only voted for them at No. 5 in the coach’s poll. The point is a lot of people look at this thing with revisionist history, and after they beat Alabama they were like, “Oh, well they should have gotten a chance to play for it all.” Well, that’s not the way it works. You have to make that call in December. You don’t get to make it in January.

Three years from now is Urban Meyer still coaching at Florida?

I think so, I think so. As a matter of fact I spoke with coach Meyer and I’m going to blog about that conversation. At the end of the day, and I’ve said this before, is that Notre Dame might be his dream job because of all of the heart strings and pulls, and I get all of that. But you have to talk about your real job and living in the real world, and let’s face it, Florida — and all of my Georgia friends don’t want to hear this — is one of the top three jobs on the planet. It just is. It’s not arguable. Given where they are located, given their resources, which are considerable, and the players that they’ve got within a 100-200 mile radius I just think it is right up there with Texas and USC. Now, if Meyer wins four or five national championships, maybe he gets bored. I’m not a coach so I don’t know how that works. I just think that he is going to stay there because when it comes right down to it he is saying do I want to go somewhere else and struggle when I’ve got it going here? I think in three years he will still be there. Now, we’ll still be talking about it, but he’ll still be there.

If you could fix one thing about college football that you feel is broken, what would it be?

I’m kind of radical when it comes to that kind of stuff. If I were the Czar freshman would be ineligible. You still get four years of eligibility, but freshman would be ineligible. I think too many of the problems we have comes from the pressures of trying to recruit guys and tell them they are going to play. There are too many games that are played in recruiting. I think the kid needs to get on campus, learn where the library is, get himself under a solid academic footing and then start worrying about playing football. I think the game would be healthier all the way around. I think it would clean up a lot of recruiting because if you knew you weren’t going to play the first year— and I’ve never been a college recruit so I don’t know — my guess is that the recruiting process would be totally different. There are a lot of things I’d like to change, but that’s the one thing I think would make the game a little more healthier and a little more balanced and help these kids academically.

What do you think the future holds for college football fans who are dying for a playoff? What will college football’s championship mechanism look like five years from now?

I’m on record as saying this. We’ve got one year left on the Fox contract and four years left on the ESPN contract after that. I do not believe that the current format will be in place for the next contract that begins with the 2014 regular season. You know, college football is no different than any other product that goes to the marketplace. Sooner or later you have to change the product and improve the product to keep it strong, you know? There’s still some things that may keep that from happening, but I think there is a reason Mike Slive of the SEC put out that idea of a seeded plus one this year, because I think he was looking down the road to get us talking about it now. I think we will have a four-team playoff, with teams being seeded 1-4 will be the next evolution.

Do you want to see that evolution?

Yes. I’ve come around on that. Because one of the things I did is I went back and researched the 10 years of the BCS and I think with one exception, and I don’t recall what it was, a four-team playoff would have addressed every controversy that the BCS has had. It wouldn’t have helped Georgia in 2007 because they would have finished fifth — Georgia fans don’t like to hear that — but for the most part the teams that got screwed were at 3 or 4. Miami in 2000, when they beat Florida State on the field and didn’t get in and Auburn in 2004, which is the most egregious problem. I’m not saying that Southern Cal and Oklahoma didn’t deserve to be there, but if you go 13-0 in the SEC, holy cow! You’ve got to get a shot there. Now, are we going to argue about 4 and 5? Of course we’re going to argue, but even if you have a 16-team playoff we’d be arguing about 17. [Former] Big East Commissioner Mike Tranghese told me this, and he’s right. He said that as you go up in the number of teams in a playoff, the arguing really becomes exponential. By that what he meant was that there are only a few teams who can argue that they should be No. 2, but there is a greater number of teams that can argue that they can be No. 4 and there is a greater number of teams that can argue that they can be No. 8, so you have to un-derstand that going in. But to me, I just think the marketplace is going to dictate that they come up with a new product and I think that’s what they come up with.

When you are not watching football what do you like to do?

I enjoy reading and I enjoy golf, though I wish I was better at it. My routine is I get all of my golf in between May 1 and August 1. I like to travel,. We just go back from Europe in January and I’m probably going back next January. For the last 23, 24 years I’ve been getting my daughter through college and through law school. She’s through college and law school, married and she’s a big-city lawyer. I’ve got more time on my hands now than I used to. My wife and I enjoy going to the local theater and stuff like that. I try to get away from football when I can, but it’s funny how it pulls you back in this time of the year.

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The Ultimate Cheat Sheet on Golf Tips: Our Wyndham Championship

The Ultimate Cheat Sheet on Golf Tips: Our Wyndham Championship

The Ultimate Cheat Sheet on Golf Tips: Our Wyndham Championship
Comments

Written by Terrance Sutton

Another busy week of golfing action. First up to look ahead to the American action that starts on Thursday afternoon? The Wyndham championship in north Carolina been an interesting tournament. And last year there were a few players in a playoff and looking at the betting It looks wide open. Yes, six-way playoff last year and won by very much the sort of player you tend to be looking for at the window in Kevin Kisner and he’s very much in there with a chance again. But I think the one they’ve all got to be in what your right is a very competitive tournament is Song J. M. He’s played 12 rounds here. Never failed to shoot 70 or better. He’s got the best scoring average over the last three years. He could have easily won it on his first two visits and if you go back to last year was only the putter that cost him, he was also the putter that cost him in the open a couple of weeks ago.

He was the worst putter in the field of those who made the cut. But he gave his coach a call, found a fix and then when last we saw him he was running up to Tony fee. Now of course, as frank the form if you like by winning again. So he, for me is the class act here He’s the core specialist here and he is absolutely the right game for the course. So I think some JM at the price is a very fair bet. So son J. M. Is the main pick. But is there anyone else there you fancy that will be in with a squeak? Yeah, take a chance on Davis Riley. A very capable young player contending at the moment for rookie of the year honors. He’ll probably need to win to meet Cameron young to that. But he’s very capable of doing so.

And he’s drifted to a very good price on the back of a couple of miss cuts. Well, that’s kind of what you get with Davis Riley. He’s very volatile. The young player makes a lot of birdies. I think being back in the southern states will help. Went to college in Alabama very much his neck of the woods. He’ll like the Bermuda, He’ll deal very well with the Heat. This is a good course for him. You’ve got to keep your foot down and maybe shoot 2022 under par when he’s gone close to winning this year at events like colonial and in the Valspar. It’s been that sort of golf on this sort of course and I’d be willing to give him the benefit, the data for a couple of quiet weeks because, in terms of talent, he’s probably the top man in the field here.

So limitless potential and hopefully we see him put four rounds together this week. Okay, Son J. M. And Davis Riley, are the main picks for the Wyndham Championship, but Ben coli and paddy power going eight places. I’m sure a lot of customers will be looking for. Players are bigger prices. Is there anyone up there at the bigger prices that catch your eye? Is the value of each way play? Yeah, a couple of like here, Adam Svensson in particular, he’s a promising Canadian 28 years old and coming into his own now. He’s got five top 25 in his last six starts on the PGA tour, probably the best run of form of his career. His irons are dialed in right now, which is generally what you need here at the Wyndham, it’s more a second-shot golf course. You can’t overpower it from the T, but you can attack pins with wedges and he’s doing that better than just about anybody at the moment.

If the potter behaves, he looks to have a massive chance to me and the other one at a much bigger price. Michael Thompson, he’s among the rags here, but he is a two-time PGA Tour winner. He arrives in form, he had his first top 10 in six months, a couple of starts back, he’s backed it up with a couple of top thirties, played well in Detroit last week on of course, which is probably a bit too long for him and he’s got an encouraging record here. He’s made five cuts in 70 shot rounds of 63 64. He’s got a real touch of class on the right sort of golf course He does need it to be a bit shorter and probably with an emphasis on, finding fairways and he’s got that this week. So Michael Thompson at a really big price I think he could go well.

Okay, so for customers in the shops, just check out the coupon and have a quick recap on Ben coli selections there for the Wyndham Championship, Sunday M and Davis Riley are his main place. Adam Svensson and Michael Thompson could be each-way value eight places on the Wyndham championship here with Patty European tour action going and play at the crack of dawn this Thursday and I’m joined by Ben coli of the sporting life to look ahead to the Kazoo Open that’s played in Newport’s in Wales. Formerly the welsh open, the sponsor has taken the name this week, been an interesting tournament. Sean Crocker was very impressive last week and, Birdie told me that’s one of your main places. Yeah, I don’t see any reason why he can’t go in again. I mean obviously, we’re relying on him not having celebrated too hard over there in Scotland, but it’s a short journey over to Wales.

More importantly, Celtic Manor is all about good driving. Well, he’s probably the best driver in this field along with maybe Jordan smith who is right at the top of the market. He’s got all the talent in the world. I think he’ll be a PGA Tour player in time. We were just waiting for him to find something on the greens. He did that in Scotland and if he can keep going with it and it could well be that that opens the floodgates for him. I see no reason he can’t win again. We’ve seen it with Tony Female  Xander Schaufele and obviously, they’re world-class players. But for Sean Crocker who is still outside the world’s top 100, there’s no doubt he’ll be focused on continuing to progress through the ranks and in this season on the front foot and eventually getting back home to the states where he wants to play his golf.

So at the prices, I thought he was a very fair bet, and no reason he can’t go back to back. Okay, so Sean Crocker the main play. Do you like anyone else in the tournament? Yeah, Mattie Schmidt is towards the front of the market as well when we’re talking good drivers, He’s eighth on tour this season in strokes gained off the tee. The seven players ahead of him in that statistical table have all played well here in the past and I think that tells you a heck of a lot about what you need to do at Celtic Manor Schmidt played here last year and made his professional debut. It was just a week after he played so well as an amateur in the Open Championship and he played well again, he just didn’t do much on an around the greens that’s probably the question mark.

But he arrives here in good form. It was only two starts ago. He was a two-shot lead going into the final round of the Barbasol Championship on the PGA Tour. Obviously, at the stage of his career, it’s harder to win over in the States and over here in Europe. If he plays as well as he did that way back over here, he’ll be right in the mix and I’ve got high hopes for the future, but also the immediate future because this is a really good cause for him to

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The Morning After: December 6, 2008

The Morning After: December 6, 2008

The Morning After: December 6, 2008
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Written by Terrance Sutton

Good Morning! How is everyone doing today? What? Why are you looking at me like that? Oh, you’re not still upset about that little post from yesterday, are you?

I myself finally witnessed the power of these here interwebs. Within minutes of yesterday’s posting, we set of an aboslute frenzy in the college football loving world, most notably in Idaho and Mississippi. However, even though I put up another post that was in response to the statement by Chris Petersen himself, I stand by my source. Is there a anyone at Mississippi State with the credentials Head Coach? I didn’t think so.

Oh, and let’s not kid ourselves. Miss St is a much better job than Boise State. Any BCS job is better than the Boise State job. The Broncos are undefeated for the 2nd time in Petersen’s tenure, and are even further away from playing in the National Title game than they were when they beat Oklahoma. Even Syracuse is a better job than Boise State. Coaches define themselves by how many titles they win, not by their win totals. When we say titles, we mean the No 1. in the country titles (unless you are Bo Schembechler, which beating OSU was all that mattered). Peteresen wants to win it all, he will not be in Idaho for much longer.

In other news….

Jason Whitlock and David Letterman are consoling one another this morning, following last nights loss by Ball State in the MAC Championship. The Buffalo Bulls took advantage of every single mistake made by Ball State to grab victory. Turner Gill took over one of the worst programs in college football just 3 years ago and has them winning conference championships and heading to January bowl games.

Antonio Pierce finally met with the NYPD. Now let’s go win the divsion.

Remember last year when everyone was talking about the Celtics possibily winning 70+ games? Start ramping that talk up again.

The Lakers want to be part of that discussion as well.

Saturday means abbreviated version of TMA. Being back here later for talk about the SEC and Big 12 Title games.

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Washington Wizards Team Preview

Washington Wizards Team Preview

Washington Wizards Team Preview
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Written by Terrance Sutton

Despite the logo above, this is actually a post about the Washington Wizards. That logo was the logo for only one season: 1973-1974. Why did I use it? Because I wish they were still called the Bullets and that logo was significantly obscure. So there.

Before we get this thing going, I should point out what is going on. This specific preview is for the 5th Annual NBA Blog Previews run by Jeff Clark over at Celtics Blog. The reason that it is not in my typical format is because part of agreeing to be part of this thing is following a specific format. I one of three NBA bloggers representing the Wizards. The others are my good pals Kyle Weidie from Truth About It and Mike Prada from SB Nation and Bullets Forever. I will link to their previews when they post them. (Here is SB Nation.) As for what we are going to be doing here at SnF, here’s the story. I’ll be previewing each of the six NBA divisions between next Monday and the Monday after that. When those are done, I’ll do a post based on all the SnF authors’ predictions on the Tuesday that the season starts. Ok? Now on to the preview…

Team Name: Washington Wizards
Last Year’s Record: 26-56 (5th in Southeast, 14th in the East, 25th in the NBA

All gone.

Key Losses: This is slightly subjective. If we are talking about losses since the beginning of last season, the answers are Antawn Jamison and Caron Butler. Both players were cornerstones of the team and are now gone to places so they can play for contenders. What’s that? Oh. LeBron left Cleveland and Jamison got screwed over for the 27th time in his career. Well, at least he can leave when he’s a free agent. Oh. He has two whole years left in Cleveland with no possibility of being competitive. Well, at least he’s getting paid. Let’s stick with that. And they could trade him to a contender. Hopefully. For his sake.

The Wiz also lost Mike Miller who signed with the Heat because he wanted to win championship games and never have to take a shot with a hand in his face ever again.

 

washtinton wizards team preview

Not a terrible career move. Brendan Haywood was traded to the Mavs and subsequently signed a crazy contract (6 years, 55 million) that he was essentially given because it’s unlikely he will stop being seven feet tall any time soon. The only other real loss in Randy Foye (signed with Clippers), though that hardly matters because of some other guy we will get to later.
So the Wizards have lost a lot of players. Fans were obviously fond of both Jamison and Tuff Juice. Mike Miller was only in town for a year and nobody really got all that attached. I am happy that he has moved up to the Heat if only for the promise of making the Heat more fun to watch. Very few will miss Haywood as many fans referred to him as

All the rookies. Ignore Kevin Palmer. He was cut.

Key Additions: You may have heard of the John Wall fellow. He is the Wizards new point guard due to the victory of some number of numbers over some other numbers of numbers in a battle of ping pong balls that was revealed in a ceremony of comically large envelopes and semi-unaware team representatives. Confused? It doesn’t matter because nobody cares if you are. The Wiz got the #1 pick and he’s not going to be Kwame Brown-like this time… Please. No more Kwame Brown-like players. Seriously. That last time wasn’t funny. Not even a little.

The other two offseason moves that matter are the additions of Kirk Hinrich and Yi Jianlian. Hinrich came from the Bulls (along with 3 million bucks) so that the Bulls could clear salary in order to sign James, Bosh, Wade, or some combination of those three. Turns out, that was a crash and burn. But… thanks Chicago! The Wiz got Yi (another 3 million bucks) from the Nets for… Quinton Ross? People must have really wanted that LeBron guy. I wonder why.
 
What Significant Moves were made during the off-season?
I’m not sure John Wall counts as a move since he was drafted, quite obviously I might add, out of Kentucky. The Wiz also drafted Trevor Booker out of Clemson (whose NBA prospects I doubt due to his size although he was great in college), Kevin Seraphin out of France (a 6″9 PF with a decent chance at producing something down the road but currently very raw) and Hamady N’Diaye from Senegal out of Rutgers (56th pick so no real expectations though he is a big shot blocker). So… Jimmy Wall.

The addition of Kirk Hinrich is interesting because the Wiz are toying with using a three guard line up consisting of Wall at point, and Arenas and Hinrich both playing shooting guard. This sounds like a way to utilize all of your best players. And it is. But Kirk Hinrich can’t guard small forwards. He may be a great defender (clearly his best skill), but he is only 6″3 in high heels. There are tons of wing players in the league that are 6″9. The simple solution is to rotate the three of them and have Josh Howard play small forward. We’ll have to wait and see when Howard returns from injury.

The rotation of the three makes sense because Wall has to get used to a much longer season, Arenas doesn’t want to risk injury, and Hinrich is the worst of the three. They all have reasons to have reduced playing time.

Yi Jianlian has been a very pleasant surprise in training camp and in preseason games. He looks like he could have been drafted #6 overall. The Chairman could be a huge help for this team off the bench, backing up the rising star Andray Blatche. (Yes, “rising star” was slightly facetious.) His diverse set of skills is impressive

 and could make him more valuable because of the number of positions he can play. If only Chairman Yi could actually defend somebody, he’d be a really great player.

Both Yi and Hinrich were acquired for essentially nothing so whatever help it is that they can add to the team will be greatly appreciated to help with the loss of Jamison and Butler. The biggest offseason addition however, might be Ted Leonsis. Never heard of him? Well, he doesn’t play basketball. I mean, he might… but I doubt he’s very good. Anyway, he’s the new owner following the long expected death of long time owner Abe Pollin. While Pollin will be extremely missed, Leonsis has proven that he can raise the popularity of a team from what he has shown during his tenure as owner of the Washington 

Capitals (NHL… you know, hockey…. sticks and ice…. no?). Capitals fans are now visible in DC and the marketing of the team, friendliness with the blogosphere, and many other aspects are incredible compared to other franchises. Since he took over, Leonsis added a “Alumni Association” for old players of the team that will hopefully help connect the former stars with the players of today. He also instituted a “Midnight Madness” practice for the team that was open free of charge to fans. I look forward to his great ideas helping the team.

Andray Blatche

What are the team’s biggest strengths?
The obvious answer here is the speed of the backcourt. Wall and Arenas are probably the fastest set of starting guards in the NBA. If they use that speed to run the ball in transition, the offense could really put up some points. Andray Blatche is also great on the break and could help with that kind of style from the starting power forward position. Josh Howard’s contribution is yet to be determined, but could be useful in this style as well. JaVale McGee is also very mobile, especially for a center, and is well suited for a running offense.
The Wizards second biggest strength is… I’m not entirely sure there is one. Thanks to Gilbert Arenas I can’t even make up some stupid intangible answer. This sucks.

What are the team’s biggest weaknesses?

You want weaknesses? No problem. How about this… defense

 

 I know it’s half of the game and it seems a little broad. But the defense is not going to be good. Sure, there are as few bright spots. Hinrich is a really good on ball defender against guards that don’t have more than three inches on him. JaVale McGee led the league in blocks per minute last season at a rate of more than 5 per 48 minutes. But his on ball defense in the post isn’t really that great. Wall is going to create some steals because of his athleticism and vision, but he’s going to be facing guys that have played in the league and know what it takes.

Hilton Armstrong should not be on an NBA rosterThe next weakness is probably the depth. Kirk Hinrich and Yi Jianlian are good bench players. After that, the second unit is Nick Young (an NBA player, but shouldn’t be in a real rotation), Al Thornton (see: Young, Nick), and Hilton Armstrong (can’t figure out why he’s even allowed to play in the NBA, he’s terrible). If somebody actually gets injured, there is going to be a very serious problem. Even without an injury, there’s a pretty serious problem.

Last but not least is the unity. Agent Zero / The Black President / The Hibatchi / Whatever is no more. It’s just Gilbert. He’s wearing #9. His interviews suck. He brought a gun to the locker room last season.

season. He pooped in shoes. But it’s not just Gil. Last season, Andray Blatche was benched by Flip Saunders for refusing to go back into a game. Blatche disputed it but Flip said it was the worst thing he’d ever seen a player do. Naturally, Blatche was back playing very soon thereby completely undermining Flip’s authority. Good times. Could this group jell? Sure. Will they? I think we know the answer to that.
What are the goals for this team?
The goal is a playoff spot. It is a possibility, but I think it depends more on other teams than it does on the Wiz. They’ll probably finish somewhere around 35 wins or so. If the conference gets very top heavy with the Heat, Celts, and ‘Gic, then they might make it. Just in time to face LeBron in the playoffs? Not again. You know what, I hope they suck and end up with some decent picks in next season’s draft and continue to build a young core of players.
So I’m changing the goal. The goal is to not get hurt, not go nuclear, not have another Gilbert incident, and to get good picks in next year’s draft. Goal: changed.

Can John Wall and Gilbert Arenas coexist?

I feel like the answer to this question is a definite maybe. Sure Gilbert seems like he really trying to cooperate with this being Wall’s team. But in the end he is still The Black President. I find it hard to believe that Gil could contain himself for an entire season. Combine that with a coach whose authority has already been undermined, some other players with personality issues, and a team that won’t be winning all that much? I don’t think the result is going to be all that great.
Speaking of results… The Wiz might have the widest range of predicted records I’ve seen. NBA GM’s think they will be vastly improved and Basketball Prospectus has them at the worst team in the league. I’m not sure which will be true but I’ll take something decently close to the middle. Since I’m at about 2,000 words, I’m thinking I should probably wrap this thing up and make a damn prediction already.

Prediction: 33-49 (4th in Southeast, 10th in East, 21st in NBA)

Finally, here is the full list of previews so far.

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