Sunday, April 3, 2011

Freshmanitis

This year's NCAA tournament featured some of the more remarkable upsets in the history of the tournament with #8 seeded Butler and #11 seeded Virginia Commonwealth each advancing to the Final Four. Moreover, not one #1 seed made it to the Final Four. This obviously came as a surprise to many of us filling out our brackets this year, but in the future I think we will continue to see mid-majors and low ranked teams advance deeper and deeper through March Madness. Because of the popularity of "one and done" players in NCAA basketball, powerhouse major conference teams no longer have any team chemistry and often have very little NCAA tournament experience. This opens the door for teams like Butler and VCU to make deep runs in the NCAA tournament.

Look at a team like Butler or VCU. Both have previous tournament experience, and both are stocked primarily with upperclassmen. These teams have been playing together for years and are a cohesive unit. They trust one another and know where everybody is going to be on the court at all times. Contrast that with a team like Ohio State or Kentucky that may recruit more talented players, but are essentially just reloading every year and have freshmen in key leadership roles. These teams are winning on talent alone, not really developing any team chemistry and starting to get upset more and more in the NCAA tournament. Is it any surprise that a UConn team that at least has a few players (including Kemba Walker) that have been to the Final Four before beat a Kentucky team that should still have John Wall manning the point and DeMarcus Cousins in the low post? Or that Ohio State could look so good for one game and then play so badly the next and lose? This man says no.

We are treading into dangerous waters with the evidence that we are being shown here. Clearly, more veteran teams are beginning to outstrip their more talented, youthful counterparts. I will not go into whether or not players should have to play all four years of college, but do you think Butler and UConn would be playing in the finals this year if Ohio State had a roster of Greg Oden, Jared Sullinger, Evan Turner, Mike Conley Jr. and Daequan Cook; or if Kentucky had John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Patrick Patterson, Eric Bledsoe, Daniel Orton, and Brandon Knight? I may be wrong, but I doubt it. Good things happen when you stay in school, kids.

Monday, February 21, 2011

MELOnheads

Welcome to post 300 of TPLIYP. Slowly but surely continuing to break new ground. Now that I am only opining on groundbreaking stories, I felt that I should share my opinion on the minutes old trade of Carmelo Anthony. In short, the Knicks just got taken for a ride big time. They let themselves be put in the position to pay a king's ransom for a guy who was going to be a free agent in a few months. Moreover, I think that this trade wrecks what chemistry the team had and compromises their long-term future.

Carmelo is going to be a draw and is a solid player, no doubt about it. However, I can not believe the Knicks gave up so much to get him. The Nuggets demands in my opinion were purely a bluff. They were coming from a total position of weakness with Carmelo holding no-trade rights and coming off the books at season's end. New Jersey was brought in completely as a middle-man, and there is no way that Carmelo would have signed off to go there. Despite my belief, the Knicks failed to play hardball and gave up all of their young talent to acquire the star forward and Chauncey Billups. How can you let yourself get put in that position?

Now that Carmelo is supposedly locked up for the next three years, at over $20 million a year, how do the Knicks move forward knowing that they have over 40 million dollars invested in two players (Carmelo and Amare)? The salary cap as it is now is $58 million, but it is expected to maybe even come down in the next round of CBA negotiations. We have seen the Heat make it work, but they payed less for better players. The Knicks may have severely mortgaged their future with this move.

Not only is the move suspect financially, the Knicks also made the "you never do this" decision of trading young players for older ones. At only 23 years old, Danilo Gallinari was showing signs of brilliance, and has upped his points per game every year of his young career. Moreover, 26 year old Raymond Felton was the prototypical guard for Mike D'Antoni's run and gun system and was having a career year, Wilson Chandler was a talented young shooter, and young center Timofey Mozgov aka "Lurch" was an intriguing prospect starting to prove himself at center. Now they have been replaced with Carmelo, a star no doubt but with eight years of mileage being "the guy" on his team at age 26, 34 year old Chauncey Billups who doesn't quite fit the D'Antoni scheme but is certainly a good player, and some filler players. Not only that, the Knicks also gave up a first-round draft pick and cash in the trade. Starting to sound like not such a great deal, huh?

Carmelo Anthony wanted to go to New York, and the Knicks really wanted Carmelo Anthony. He will put butts in the seats and will no doubt make the Knicks an instant contender in the East. However, I think the Knicks got totally fleeced in this deal and let it happen. Had they stood a little firmer, I think as the clock ticked closer to the trade deadline they would have gotten their man 'Melo for a much cheaper price. But then they wouldn't be the Knicks, would they?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Some Things Never Change

One thing remained clear in the aftermath of this weekend's NFC Championship game; Jay Cutler is still a spoiled little crybaby. For the entire second half of the game, fans could find Cutler looking like a bump on a log on the bench with nobody around him making his usual cry baby face. Injury or no injury, that image should tell you all you need to know about Jay Cutler as a leader.

Yesterday, we learned that Jay Cutler sprained his MCL in the first half of the NFC Championship game against the Packers. Most people believe that this should get him off the hook for all the criticism that he has taken in the past few days for giving up on his team. TPLIYP says nay. Yours truly has always been critical of Cutler, and will continue to be until he is run out of the league. I have my own beliefs about the actual severity of Cutler's injury or if he had an injury at all; but the last time I checked, a knee injury doesn't relegate you to the bench and make you put on a crybaby face for the rest of the game. Cutler should have at least been up motivating his teammates, or trying to help the gruesome twosome of Todd Collins and Caleb Hanie make sense of the Green Bay defense (or the Chicago offense for that matter). Instead, he just decided to sit on the bench and pout for the rest of the game.

It appeared as though Jay Cutler had turned a corner this year. With a bunch of no name receivers, he was able to help guide the Bears to the NFC Championship after being a .500 quarterback his whole career. However, in the most important game of his career he showed just how terrible of a leader he actually is. A true leader would have put himself back in that game, or at least tried to help the rest of the team to win the game. Cutler did nothing. As usual.

Friday, January 7, 2011

You're On Candid Camera

Camilo Villegas is a guy who lives for the spotlight. With his festive outerwear and flashy on-course demeanor, you can definitely tell he relishes the opportunity (and the journey) to be in front of the cameras. Well, one moment he wishes that he was not in front of the camera was on Thursday afternoon in Hawaii. Villegas flubbed an uphill chip on the 15th hole of the Kapalua Plantation course in Maui and had the ball roll all the way back down the hill to his feet. However, as the ball was rolling back to him, he flicked away a loose divot with his club. According to the rules of golf this should have been a two-stroke penalty, but it went unnoticed by virtually everyone. However, because the shot was televised it was soon noticed and Villegas was disqualified on Friday morning for signing an incorrect scorecard because he did not assess himself the proper penalty for that shot. I ask you, readers of TPLIYP, is that fair? Golf has now entered what I will call the "replay age," and will have to come up with a way to deal with these problems as they arise.

The problem with the replay age in golf is that not every golfer is on camera at all times. Unlike football or baseball where replay issues are fairly simple, without putting cameras on every single player it is impossible to see everything that goes on during a golf tournament. Over a hundred players spread out over 18 holes make golf very hard to police with video replays. Because of this, the popular players are held to different standards than the less talented players. If some straggler on his way to an 85 had done the same thing as Camilo yesterday, it probably would have gone unnoticed. But because it was Camilo, he gets a disqualification. The same thing could be said of Dustin Johnson's gaffe at the PGA Championship last year. Had Sonny Skinner done the same thing, probably only Trey and I would have noticed and the penalty would not have been enforced. I suppose ignorance of the rules should be no excuse for Camilo, but it doesn't seem fair that he might get caught for an honest mistake like that but another player might not.

Television has presented a pretty serious problem on the PGA Tour. It has created an inconsistency in rules enforcement between the more popular players and those who don't get much camera time. The PGA must make sure that everyone is abiding by the rules, whether it be through promoting greater knowledge of the rule book or somehow getting cameras on every player. Camilo Villegas' disqualification is yet another example of how more popular players are getting screwed over by increased television coverage of professional golf.