Thursday, August 21, 2008

TEAM USA: The Corvette Lineup

In another classy game from the American side, the US was legitimately tested for the first time all Olympics nearly losing the first quarter to the chippy Australians. LeBron had a great game along with Deron Williams. All that aside, though. For two minutes, Coach K showed the lineup that he has in his back pocket when all the chips are down. In the second quarter with Australia still hanging around. Coach K made substitutions resulting in this look
PG: Deron Williams
SG: Dwyane Wade
SF: Kobe Bryant
PF: Carmelo Anthony
C: LeBron James

Quickly, Anthony picked up his second foul and was substituted out for Chris Bosh (who, incidentally, is a phenomenal international basketball player. He shoots, he defends inside, defends the perimeter. His offensive post game is not great, but he is solid and fun to watch.) But, this is the lineup K will turn to if the game is close in the 2nd or 3rd to try to turn the game around. For about two minutes they were dominant - the best offensive and defensive lineup the US can throw at you.
The three best shooters - Williams, Bryant, and Anthony, team up with the two most dynamic offensive players in the tournament - James and Wade. In addition, James has proved to be the most effective player at defending the rim for the US with weakside blocks (Bryant and Wade also thrive in that role.)

So, look for this lineup the next time the US finds themselves in a major pinch.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Random Thoughts While Sitting Unproductively at Work:

Ten things I think I think...

Just kidding. I'm not a faggot like Peter King.

So, I initially was really hesitant about the Olympics and found myself unable to get into it. I'm not sure if the sports just didn't interest me, or if it took George Bush smacking Misty May-Treanor on the ass to do it, but I am now officially in on the Olympics. I think my favorite story so far was Kerri Walsh losing her wedding ring during one of her matches and causing a long delay which lead to at least 4 dudes at the bar I was at saying in unison, "And that's why women shouldn't be allowed to play sports."

I agree with Anthony on the Aaron Rodgers thing completely. I was also extremely anti-Rodgers coming out of college and I really savored his drop in the draft that year, but I think this whole Favre nonsense has just made me really empathise with the guy. I guess that might not be the right word because while I might understand what it's like to sit second chair to somebody and being unable to realize your potential (note: I'm constantly not realizing my potential on a daily basis), I certainly don't understand what it's like to make $45 million while not realizing my potential.

Michael Phelps is awesome. I know he's a douchebag who nearly set ablaze a house on State Street by putting a tennis ball in a microwave, but man, he is really fucking good. I'm proud to drunkenly chant "U-S-A" whenever he's in the pool because you know he's going to win. He has already knocked out two of the toughest gold medals he's going for in the Olympics. I think he's going to break Spitz's record and I'm glad that when we have to see countless commercials on the matter, some of them will feature Phelps in a giant yellow Michigan swim cap. Go Blue.

I'm getting stunningly optimistic about this year's football season for Michigan. I think I've officially drank the Kool-Aid (or huffed too much paint, probably), but I honestly foresee us winning 9-10 games this year. I don't have even the slightest hope for the Ohio State game for the first time in forever and that kills me. However, I don't see us losing many other games. I've totally bought into the Barwis hype and rightfully so. If you haven't yet, I'd recommend checking out the story on mgoblog about Terrence Taylor. This is a guy who's first-team all-Big 10 preseason, and Barwis drove him so hard that he spent nights crying and contemplating quitting football. If our team isn't in the greatest condition it's ever been in this fall, I'd be shocked.

I think, at the end of the day, our defense is going to be really, really, really good. Our secondary isn't going to be a liability for the first time in awhile. I am genuinely excited to see Donovan Warren, Morgan Trent, Brandon Harrison, Stevie Brown, Chuckie Stewart, and Boubacar Cissoko (yes, Boubacar) shutting down the passing game this year. Additionally, while our LB corps may not be elite, I think our defensive line will be. We have probably the best DT in the Big Ten in Terrance Taylor, and Will Johnson has apparently improved the most out of anyone on the team over the offseason. Add that to some potential first-team all-Big Ten defensive ends in Tim Jamison and Brandon Graham and I think you have a fairly scary unit.

I think our offense is going to be average. I know we don't have experience anywhere, and our passing game will be tough to watch at times (make that all of the time if NCAA 2009 is any indication), but our ground game will be good. There's no way in hell out of Brandon Minor, Carlos Brown, and Sam McGuffie, we don't find a guy who is an elite running back. I just refuse to believe it. So while I don't think our team overall is going to be elite, I think our combination of talent and preparedness is going to mean we don't lose to teams that we're worse than, which, lucky for us, probably means we're losing to Ohio State and maybe an Illinois or Wisconsin. We will beat Notre Dame. I'd stake my life on that.

Brandon Graham is officially the new Big N. He replaces BNC - Shawn Crable, who admirably held the title during his career at Michigan. Congratulations, Shawn. You did us proud. Brandon, you have some big shoes to fill. BNG!

I'm genuinely excited about Brett Favre being on the Jets. I'm not a Jets fan (obviously) but people outside of New York don't understand that there is absolutely no hatred or rivalry between the Jets and Giants. There's just never really been a time where both teams have been competitive which, frankly, is almost entirely the Jets fault (jab!). So I'm really looking forward to seeing Brett Favre 16 times a year throwing balls underhanded into triple coverage on 3rd and 20. It's going to be awesome. I'm also looking forward to Jets fans being unabashedly optimistic and pro-Favre, potentially turning on him at mid-season, but still sporting the unbelievably awesome/must-have Favre Jets jersey.

I've been thinking about this for awhile, and I think this season could lead to the absolute most riverboat gamblingest season from Favre to date. Think about it. He no longer has this pristine image/name to keep in Green Bay, he has absolutely nothing to lose in New York on a team that before he arrived saw fans probably envisioning a 7-9 season at best, and it's probably his last year. I mean, there's no fucking way this guy doesn't just come out and throw obscenely wild passes downfield with little regard to who's in the area and who's coming at him, right? He might not be sacked all year. He literally will throw the ball just to throw it. I'm just praying that dog or the black guy from the Wrangler commercials doesn't injure him after a pass because it is going to be entertaining. I am absolutely making the over bet on Favre interceptions on sportsbook. I can't even imagine a more enjoyable bet to make. Well, other than betting on Kashif getting arrested with a transvestite prostitute over Labor Day weekend. That's a fun bet.

Also a fun bet? Lindsay Lohan coming out the closet.

Turns out when I'm out with a group of British dudes trying to pick up chicks when I'm hammered, I absolutely cannot maintain a remotely decent British accent. Highly disappointing.

Not disappointing? Scarlet Johanssen and Penelope Cruz making out in a movie.

I don't know if anyone has seen the previews for "The Island", MTV's newest incarnation of The Gauntlet/Inferno/Battles of the Sexes series, but it looks fucking awesome. The cut shots were very short but I think these are the things I saw: 1) Blonde guy from Hollywood openly weeping and also falling from a considerable distance from a palm tree 2) Janelle fucking some guy on the beach 3) Derrick being intense and 4) Paula Walnut's new tit job. Sign me the fuck up. Combine all of these things with an incredulous TJ Lavin judging various participants for "not competing" and you have yourselves the making of what should be an Emmy award winning show.

Not sure if anyone is watching (scratch that, I know you're not watching) the show G's to Gents on MTV, but it has officially led to me adding the phrase "G checked" to my lexicon. It's sort of like "you got served" but fresher and more to the point.

I'm officially excited for the new 90210. It features Michael from the Wire as a "I don't belong" poor kid trying to make it in the fast paced world of Beverly Hills (see: Ryan from the OC). I don't think this can fail. I am really, really excited. There. I said it.

Pineapple Express was hilarious. Also hilarious? Getting into a verbal sparring session with 9/11 Truth protestors outside the theater and outside the World Trade Center site. Thanks guys, you're a riot.

Can the Yankees buy a fucking vowel? This injury situation is getting borderline absurd. We need Mike Barwis. These guys aren't ready to play when they go out there. I think we're about 4 weeks away from employing Anthony as a crafty veteran soft-tosser to pitch as the #2 starter behind Mike Mussina. I'd actually be fine with that. At least now when we lose I'd get a very hearty laugh out of it. This is officially the first time I've genuinely been deeply concerned about the Yankees ability to make the playoffs since about, oh, 1997. These previous years didn't scare me because I know every sportswriter is just being a completely irrational and sensationalist douchebag when writing about how the Yankees are "finished" when they're just 8 games out in the middle of fucking June. However, I am now officially scared. Scratch that earlier statement, I think we're about 4 weeks away from bringing back Hideki Irabu... or Jim Abbott who pitched masterfully at Old Timers' Day.

Here's a depressing thought. Is the Old Timers' Day pitching staff better than our current one? The Old Timers' Day staff had, among others, Jim Abbott, David Cone, Boomer Wells, Graeme Lloyd and Jeff Nelson. I'm saying I take that staff. Like now, not even in their primes. Like 45 year old Abbott, Cone, Wells, Lloyd and Nelson.

Two thoughts on Olympic basketball:

1) I hate the nickname "The Redeem Team." Hate it. Want to punch the name in the face.
2) I am a little disturbed by Dwyane Wade's bald head. He's an attractive man, and now I think he looks a little psychotic or something. It's weird. Go back to the other non-dreadlock/cornrow haircut option for black men, Dwyane.

Oh, you thought you were going to get basketball analysis? Nope.

One final point before I stop procrastinating. I've though about this and mentioned it to a few people, but isn't the use of "Bless you" after someone sneezes really fucking weird? I do it all the time, so I'm not judging, but think about it. Particularly when it's directed towards a stranger. That just seems odd to me. Particularly considering the fact that there's a 50% chance you're telling it to someone who is hell-bound communism-loving atheist. You're essentially saying, "Hey person I don't know at all! May God look down upon you and give you his strength because I just saw a vicious stream of snot shoot violently from your nasal passageways!"

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Jet Favre!

Brett Favre is a Jet. Chad Pennington is a Dolphin. And, both teams are delightfully mediocre. Really, for me personally, this whole saga could not have played out any worse. Pennington is now in Miami delaying the brilliant Chad Henne era that I was ramping up for, and Favre is in New York which will take the Brett Favre coverage from totally ungodly annoying to psychotic.

The weirdest aspect of all this is how I became somehow pro Aaron Rodgers in all this nonsense. I didn't even think he deserved to be a first round pick when he was drafted. I figured him to be a weak-armed product of Joe Tedford's system at Cal which has produced not just mediocre but terrible quarterbacks in the NFL. But, now, given the beard and hair he grew out in the offseason and the "f u" attitude he took with this whole situation. I am starting to believe he could actually be a good quarterback.

And one more thought on Pennington. Remember, last year when Leftwich was cut for David Garrard. And, everyone was like, "Wow, not a terrible move. But Leftwich could really help some team that needs a QB." And then he got to Atlanta and everyone realized that he is not even a back-up quality quarterback in the NFL. I see this situation with Pennington playing out quite similarily. And with Henne and Beck waiting in the wings I just really have to believe that Pennington will not be starting the second half of this season.

Thoughts on Team USA's route of China:

  • Dwyane Wade is finally healthy after about 18 months of not being so. And, again he has established that, when healthy, he is the most terrifying offensive basketball player on the planet. 19 points of 7/7 from the field and 5/5 from the FT line. Made several passes that led immediately to fouls on China and had a massive alley oop pass to LeBron James in the coolest play of the day.
  • Wade has been great but he also typifies the major flaw of Team USA on defense. They still just don't get that you need to guard the three point line at all times. Wade regularly doubles down, gambles off the ball and jumps in front of screens. And China stayed in the game into the third quarter because they had so many open looks from deep. They really need to stay at home more often because one-on-one, there are not many players capable of really breaking down any of USA's defenders.
  • Jason Kidd is playing purely out of respect for him at this point. Don't get me wrong, he had a nice game and on a fast break the passes he picked out were really awesome to watch. But still, Deron Williams is a great shooter, and Chris Paul is a better pentrator and better in the half court. Kidd is losing playing time and that will continue.
  • George W. George H.W. and some old Chinese Prime Minister was in the stands for the game (W was even in the huddle with team USA before hand!) Also up there was Jeb and one of the Bush daughters (not the saucy one who went to Texas, the other one.) So, at one point they show the 8 of them on the Jumbotron, and honest to God, Jeb elbows W's daughter and like excitedly points at the damn screen! This guy was governor of Florida for 8 years was in the middle of the 2000 election imbroglio and still gets as excited when he makes the big screen as my fellow blogger Chubbs would. Good times.
  • These Chinese people love Kobe Bryant. It's crazy.
  • I was wildly impressed with Chris Bosh today. He was a fierce rebounder, terriffic defender and I have become convinced that he can handle the late-game duties at center if Dwight Howard's free throw troubles continue.
  • Finally, seeing either Dwight Howard or LeBron James bully their way to the hoop on a fast break is going to continue to be the most pleasing subplot of these games. Both those guys are absolute horrors when they have a full head of steam. Yao got totally dazed trying and failing to take a charge from LeBron and Dwight just routinely dunked on guys like they were not there. Neither of these things are really relevant to US's chances at gold. But both are pleasing to the eye.