Monday, January 31, 2011
Lane, a senior, starts for the Seahawks. And when he's not busy leading the varsity team to a 14-6 record, he's spending his time as head coach of the jayvee team.
It hasn't been an easy road for Lane. He finished ninth grade with a 1.8 grade point average, below the 2.0 GPA threshold required to play sports at the Seattle-area high school. His mentor and teacher, Lisa Hara, suffered a stroke last summer. Lane raised his GPA to a 3.5 in her honor.
"She was on me every single day. She would call my mom and say, 'Tre' is missing work, tell him to do it.' This whole year is, basically, all for her, so she can get better and see that I did good," Lane said of Hara.
Chief Sealth's senior class is required to perform 25 hours of community service for their senior projects. Lane will have lapped them eight times, earning 200 hours this year and 750 throughout his four years of high school.
"It's one of the biggest gains I've seen any kid make in the 10 years I've been here," said varsity basketball coach Colin Slingsby.
Cowens may have been the more accomplished player, racking up seven All-Star nominations and an NBA MVP award, but Lane's accomplishments aren't going unnoticed, either.
Asked what means more, a win as a player or a coach, Lane said, "You get to see the kids smile. Coach Slingsby sees it all the time when we win, but to know that you weren't playing out there, you were coaching them, it's a lot different. I like it a lot better, because they're happy and it comes right back at me that I did my job and they performed."
Friday, January 28, 2011
In a game hyped as the Game of the Year (So Far), Fredette led the Cougars to a 71-58 win, putting up 43 points on 14-for-24 shooting, including 5-for-8 from three-point range and 10-for-11 from the line.
Not only did Fredette score more than half his team's points in giving San Diego State its first loss of the season, but he also made some history doing it.
He topped 40 points for the third time this season, and the third time in four games. He leads the nation in scoring (27.4 points per game). He's led the Cougars to a 20-1 record for the second straight year.
And he prompted the fans in the crowd to start a chant of "You got Jimmered!"
One fan made a sign that read, "FredetteAboutIt". His performance sparked three trending topics on Twitter, and even Oklahoma City Thunder star Kevin Durant got swept up by Fredette's performance, tweeting: "Jimmer Fredette is the best scorer in the world!!"
Yahoo! blogger Jeff Eisenberg noted the BYU fans stormed the court so frantically, Fredette "needed a police escort to help him escape the mayhem."
"It was kind of scary," Fredette said.
Prior to the season, Fredette wasn't considered a major NBA prospect, despite scoring 22.1 points per game last year and leading the Cougars to a 30-win season. But his numbers this year -- and more importantly, how he's scoring -- has vaulted his draft stock up the big board. One analyst called him a poor man's Steve Nash.
Thursday, January 27, 2011
It's got an undergrad population of just over 1,700, and its most famous alum is unknown -- unless you're a Kentucky state governor historian.
But the below video is surreal. Up 31-27 with a second to go before halftime, guard Stephanie "Spellcheck's Worst Nightmare" Quattrociocchi heaves an 85-foot, full-court shot. What happens next is just something you've gotta see to believe.
It didn't end up mattering, as Campbellsville stormed back to win by 13. Oh well. Enjoy the video.
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Even more astonishing is that, in his 21st NBA appearance, rookie Kevin Seraphin managed to put his shorts on backwards.
During a timeout in the second quarter, Seraphin hustled over to the bench, pantsed himself and put his shorts on correctly. A true rookie moment, or a Welcome to America moment for the 19-year old Frenchman.
Washington Post beat reporter Michael Lee poked fun at the French import's faux pas: "Seraphin is a rookie, but he's played enough games this season to know which direction his shorts should go on. But there he was taking off his shorts and turning them around on the bench in the second period, in one of the more awkward scenes you'll ever witness."
Of course, Monday's wardrobe malfunction was the second in as many games for Washington. Man, nothing's going right for the Wiz. To the right, see newly signed guard Mustafa Shakur's hastily crafted jersey, which was created at the last minute by a Wizards employee.
The numbers were hand-stitched (can you tell?), and Washington Post columnist Dan Steinberg said it best: "Shakur shows up wearing a jersey he picked up from the YMCA's lost and found box."
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
They definitely weren't expecting to lose by 105 points.
And now, there's a bit of controversy between the Salt Lake City, Utah teams. After the Crusaders led 84-0 after three quarters, Christian Heritage head coach Rob McGill did not pull his starters out of the game. Afterwards, he defended his decision.
"I have been on the other side of this equation. It was very insulting when teams slowed the ball down and just passed it around. That's why I'd rather have a team play me straight up, and that's why I played them straight up. Because I didn't want to taunt them, I didn't want to embarrass them, I didn't want them to think we could do whatever we want," McGill told ABC 4 News.
McGill was alone on that count. Co-captain Brittany Hurlbut was embarrassed by the outcome, too, despite the fact that the Crusaders never even used a full-court press. "I want to personally apologize to the team. To just say if we hurt any members of the team or the school, we sincerely apologize," Hurlbut said.
But West Ridge athletic director Jamie Keefer says the Crusaders shouldn't feel bad for the lopsided score. "They've apologized, and we've moved on. We know they're good people and they should be proud of their team. There are no hard feelings at all," Keefer said.
There are probably no hard feelings because it's not the first lopsided loss West Ridge has suffered this season. The Lady Eagles have lost every game by at least 34 points this season.
Scores of 67-8, 47-5, 60-18, 48-14, 57-16, 69-17, 53-11 and 66-16 appear on the school's MaxPreps page.
It is the first time West Ridge has been shut out for the first three quarters, though. The Lady Eagles scored all eight of their points in the first half in a 67-8 loss to Wendover. In a rematch to Wendover, they trailed 28-4 at the half. And they were down 56-12 to St. Joseph.
So at least they're learning how to be gracious losers.
Monday, January 24, 2011
The Packers beat Philadelphia 21-16 in the Wildcard game, Atlanta 48-21 in the NFC Divisional round and then topped Chicago 21-14 on Sunday.
They'll face the Steelers, winners of eight of their last nine games. Pittsburgh had a first-round bye after earning the No. 2 seed in the AFC, then had a surreal comeback against Baltimore to win 31-24 after trailing 21-7 in the third quarter. The Steelers beat the New York Jets 24-19 on Sunday, staving off a Jets rally to advance to their eighth Super Bowl.
Had the Jets successfully come back and won the AFC Championship, it would have been a matchup of two No. 6 seeds, an unlikely feat I'm almost certain has never happened before.
Pittsburgh is 6-1 in Super Bowls, the winner of the most Super Bowls and the second-highest winning percentage of any team to appear in it twice (behind San Francisco, who is 5-0). Green Bay is 3-1 in Super Bowls, tied for fourth in the NFL.
And yet, the No. 6 seed Packers (David) are favored over the Steelers (Goliath) by three points in Vegas. That's the lowest point spread since 1982, according to Yahoo! Sports.
Friday, January 21, 2011
Salem, Oregon native Nathan Harrington has had a pretty rough streak of bad luck.
After a car accident left him seriously injured and out of work since 2009, Harrington lost his apartment in October when it was overridden with rats and condemned.
Homeless and hurting, Harrington did have one thing going for him: he won ESPN's fantasy football grand prize, and with it, a $3,500 gift certificate to Best Buy.
That's right. Despite floating between the computer at his father's nursing home and the library, Harrington's team, "The Boston Beatdowns," bested 3.1 million fantasy football team owners to finish No. 1 and take home the top prize.
"My fantasy football was the one thing that kind of seemed to be going right at the time. There was a lot to be upset about, but the one thing that was steady and heading in a positive direction was the fantasy football. So I thought I might as well stick with it and ride it out," Harrington told the Salem News.
After his starting quarterback Tony Romo went down with a season-ending injury in Week 7, Harrington started a combination of Matt Cassel, Carson Palmer, Shaun Hill, Sam Bradford, Jay Cutler and Jon Kitna to ride him to victory.
But his ballsiest call was starting rookie Tim Tebow, a run-first, only-pass-if-absolutely-necessary quarterback in Week 17 against San Diego. Tebow put up 27 points, good enough to win the top prize by a razor-thin 0.8 points.
Thursday, January 20, 2011
If you're like me, that's a bit too steep. Plus, by being there, you miss all the great commercials.
Well, the NFL is trying something out for the first time this year. For everyone who can't afford a seat inside the stadium, the NFL will now sell you a $200 ticket to stand in the parking lot.
"We've never done this before," said Brian McCarthy, an NFL spokesman. By "this," he really means "charged people who don't even have a Super Bowl ticket."
Since everything's bigger in Texas, Cowboys Stadium will provide a few massive hi-def televisions and call it the "party plaza." It's not 100% clear whether or not fans will get to see the commercials. In fact, it's not 100% clear why anyone would even go to this so-called party plaza. Real fans would either want to be in the stadium or at home with their friends and fellow fans. So is the party plaza going to be overwhelmingly Dallas-area people who feel like drinking $8 beers?
As a sidenote, this gives me a great idea: I'm going to start charging people to come to my next Super Bowl party. There's a chips and dip fee, a hanging up your coat fee, and don't forget the sitting on my couch fee. And it won't cost $200, so you'd be stupid not to.
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
As Hensley notes, this could have -- and should have -- been the year Baltimore went on a deep playoff run. With 17 unrestricted free agents and nine restricted free agents, nearly half the team could be different next year if the Ravens didn't bring anyone back (of course, they will).
But the unrestricted free agents are a cause for concern, particularly because seven of them are starters. On offense, it's linemen Chris Chester and Marshal Yanda and fullback Le'Ron McClain.
McClain seems unlikely to stick around, given that most of his carries went to Ray Rice and Willis McGahee over the last two seasons. It's hard to say whether Chester and Yanda will leave, as the Ravens ranked 23rd in sacks allowed this year and Baltimore will likely look to the outside -- whether in free agency or the NFL Draft -- to upgrade its offensive line.
On defense, defensive backs Chris Carr, Josh Wilson and Dawan Landry and defensive tackle Haloti Ngata. Kicker Billy Cundiff and punter Sam Koch, two of the best specialists in the NFL this year, are unrestricted free agents, too.
Ngata would be by far the biggest loss for the Ravens, if he opts to sign elsewhere. The 350-pound behemoth is a two-time Pro Bowler and just finished his rookie contract. Baltimore knows how valuable he is, and is unlikely to let him slip away, as he's a critical part of the defense for the foreseeable future. The secondary would take a hit if Carr, Wilson and Landry do not return, but the Ravens may look to sign or draft a safety, which would put Landry on the bench.
Other unrestricted free agents who weren't starters but still made an impact include: linebacker Prescott Burgess, cornerback Fabian Washington, offensive tackle Jared Gaither and wide receivers T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Donte' Stallworth.
None of these players would be huge hits to the roster, as the receivers were essentially given a one-year tryout. Stallworth could return, and his speed makes him a valuable third or fourth option. Gaither never lived up to his potential and seemed unmotivated at times.
On top of that, the Ravens must make a decision on whether to re-sign the following restricted free agents: offensive tackle Oniel Cousins, running back Jalen Parmele, wide receiver Marcus Smith, defensive linemen Lamar Divens and Kelly Talavou, linebackers Jameel McClain and Tavares Gooden, and safeties Haruki Nakamura and Tom Zbikowski.
Like Landry, Nakamura and Zbikowski don't seem to be long-term solutions to the safety position. Both got meaningful snaps this year, but losing either would hardly be a devastating loss.
Cornerbacks Johnathan Joseph and Antonio Cromartie could be targeted if Baltimore fails to re-sign and/or looks to upgrade some of its defensive backs.
Offensively, there's no reason to believe the Ravens wouldn't pursue a wide receiver or two if Smtih, Houshmandzadeh and Stallworth don't return. That would leave Baltimore with two receivers outside of stud Anquan Boldin, including James Hardy and Derrick Mason, who own 10 career receptions and a 37-year old body, respectively.
Intriguing options include St. Louis' Danny Amendola, who is built similarly to New England's Wes Welker, and San Diego's Legedu Naanee, if the Chargers re-sign Vincent Jackson or Malcom Floyd. Minnesota receiver Sidney Rice would be another option and could be happy to leave the Vikings, who have a tumultuous quarterback situation.
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
And after bouncing out of the playoffs in the AFC Divisional round, the Ravens own the 26th overall pick in April's 2011 NFL Draft.
Until we see who Baltimore re-signs or acquires in free agency, strengths may become weaknesses and vice versa. But it's always fun to speculate.
Round 1, pick 26 -- ESPN rates two cornerbacks in the top five of the draft, with a significant dropoff at the position after that. But ACC cornerbacks Brandon Harris and Ras-I Dowling should be around late in the first round.
And with uncertainty surrounding an inconsistent unit, Baltimore may opt to draft a defensive back with its first pick for the first time since drafting Ed Reed in 2002. Then again, general manager Ozzie Newsome may decide he needs to shore up the offensive line and go with a guy like Boston College offensive tackle Anthony Costanzo, who has a pro's body and should be able to start from day one.
Round 2, pick 26 -- Baltimore could go in several directions here, deciding to draft an offensive lineman or defensive back -- whichever it doesn't draft in the first round -- here. TCU center Jake Kirkpatrick won the 2010 Rimington Trophy and was a finalist in 2009, and may be around late in the second round. The Ravens need to address aging center Matt Birk, who is nearing retirement. Other options from the West Coast include Pac-10 seniors Colin Baxter (Arizona) and Chase Beeler (Stanford), who could have good professional careers.
Round 3, pick 26 -- The Ravens show some love to the University of Maryland, drafting offensive tackle Jared Gaither in the supplemental draft a few years ago and trading for cornerbacks Domonique Foxworth and Josh Wilson in 2010. And, with a lack of depth at wide receiver (depending on the return of Donte' Stallworth and T.J. Houshmandzadeh), Baltimore may select Terps wide receiver Torrey Smith, a jack-of-all-trades who finished a prolific junior season with 67 catches for 1,055 yards and 12 touchdowns. Smith can return punts and kickoffs and has good hands, showing the ability to make tough catches over and over again.
Round 4, pick 26 -- There's no doubt the Ravens could use another pass rushing threat to go along with linebacker/defensive end Terrell Suggs. Baltimore could take Fresno State defensive end Chris Carter, who finished the year with 11 sacks and won WAC Defensive Player of the Year honors. Carter knows how to get to the quarterback and would bolster Baltimore's defensive line.
Note: Baltimore forfeited its fifth-round pick to Seattle for cornerback Josh Wilson.
Round 6, pick 26 -- A great value (who may already be off the board) here is Boston College linebacker Mark Herzlich, an accomplished player who was an All-American and ACC Defensive Player of the Year in 2008. Herzlich was diagnosed with a rare bone cancer and sat out 2009, but returned this year with 65 tackles, four interceptions and two forced fumbles. Though it's unknown if or when he'll 100% healthy, he's got great character and may be worth a late-round gamble.
Round 7, pick 23 -- A guy whose name you may hear in the upcoming years is D.J. Smith of Appalachian State. The senior linebacker was the only FCS player on the Butkus Award Watchlist before the season for the nation's top linebacker. Obviously Smith didn't win the award, but he's flying under the radar (not even listed on ESPN) and his production has been terrific for the Mountaineers, and while his 40-yard dash time isn't too speedy (4.68), he may be able to learn under middle linebacker Ray Lewis and eventually take snaps at the position. (Baltimore received this pick from Philadelphia in the acquisition of linebacker Antwan Barnes.)
Round 7, pick 26 -- If Baltimore loses fullback Le'Ron McClain as expected, the Ravens may spend a late-round draft pick to replace him. Pittsburgh junior Henry Hynoski is one of the better options at a low-priority position. He opted to go pro instead of sticking in school after the coaching change, and paved the way for Ray Graham and Dion Lewis to nearly 2,000 combined yards and 21 rushing touchdowns.
Note: Baltimore also receives an undetermined pick for trading wide receiver Mark Clayton to the St. Louis Rams. The teams agreed to swap picks, but terms were not disclosed. St. Louis has the 14th pick in each round, and Clayton had a terrific first four weeks with the Rams before going down with a season-ending injury.
Monday, January 17, 2011
So, despite his reputation of being a jerk, Rodriguez actually did something good for a change: he donated 12 bags of Michigan gear to the Salvation Army in Wayne, Michigan.
Realizing it had a potential gold mine, the Salvation Army didn't put his clothes on rack and sell them for $3 or $4. Instead, it set up an auction, drawing in a crowd of more than 300 people and selling 161 of his 432 items, booking an impressive $12,930 in the process.
"Most of the 160 lots went from $50 to $100. The highest bid was $275 for the varsity coat. The three autographed hats went for a combined $260," the Detroit News reported.
The rest of the items were put up for sale, according to the Detroit Free-Press, which showed up and interviewed fans who turned out for the auction this past Saturday.
USA Today joked the auction wasn't "a Terrelle Pryor kind of thing," poking fun at the recent Ohio State scandal that left several Buckeyes players suspended for part of the 2011 season. Some websites called it a "Fired Sale."
Still, the gesture may not be enough to make Michigan fans remember him fondly. After all, he's the first Wolverines coach since 1891 to leave Ann Arbor with a losing record. His 22 losses in three seasons was nearly half as many as legendary coach Bo Schembechler's 48 over 21 seasons.
To fans, Rodriguez's three years at The Big House felt more like a prison sentence than the glory days of Michigan football.
Friday, January 14, 2011
After a 30-7 thumping of the Kansas City Chiefs last weekend, the Ravens travel to hostile Pittsburgh to face archrival Pittsburgh at Heinz Field. The Steelers are three-point favorites, and split the season series with Baltimore 1-1. Here's everything you need to know:
What they've been up to -- Baltimore won its AFC Wildcard game, beating Kansas City last weekend; Pittsburgh won the AFC North and earned a bye week and home field advantage for the AFC Divisional showdown against the winner of the Baltimore-Kansas City game.
Key personnel -- Baltimore running back Ray Rice and tight end Todd Heap, who combined for 32 touches for 207 yards and a touchdown in last week's win; Pittsburgh's stars are outside linebacker James Harrison and strong safety Troy Polamalu, who lead the team in sacks and interceptions, respectively.
Matchup to watch for -- Baltimore's run game versus Pittsburgh's run defense. The Ravens struggled on the ground against Kansas City, running for just 3.6 yards per carry all day. The Steelers boast the league's best run defense, allowing just 62.8 yards per game on the ground -- well below Baltimore's average of 114.4 yards per game.
Baltimore's big play potential -- Wide receiver Anquan Boldin has 12 catches for 186 yards and a touchdown in two games against Pittsburgh this year. He's the Ravens' best set of hands, and leads the team in receptions, yards and receiving touchdowns this year.
Pittsburgh's big play potential -- Wide receiver Mike Wallace averaged 21 yards per catch this season, second-best in the NFL. He's good for at least one or two long balls each game, having caught a pass for 30-plus yards in 10 of 16 games this year. Wallace is a burner and a threat to score any time he's targeted.
Who can't struggle -- Like last week's preview noted, Baltimore's offense has got to keep its defense off the field. When Baltimore loses, it's usually because its defense runs out of gas late. The Ravens must sustain long drives -- like their 15-play, 80-yard touchdown drive that milked 10:20 off the clock against Kansas City -- to beat the Steelers.
The Steelers are 5-1 when running back Rashard Mendenhall rushes for at least 90 yards, and in losses, he's run for 80-plus yards just once. Mendenhall has contributed 13 rushing touchdowns on the season, and has given the Steelers a formidable running game again. When he struggles, the team struggles.
How Baltimore will win -- The Ravens know how to win on the road, tallying a 6-3 record away from M&T Bank Stadium this year. And Pittsburgh lost three of its four games at home this season, including one to the Ravens in Week 4. There are few rivalries in the NFL as heated as this one, so it won't take much to get Baltimore up for this game. Keeping the defense off the field, as always, is one of the keys to the Ravens walking away with a win.
If "the same key as last week" doesn't satisfy your hunger, here's another key: in three of their four losses, the Steelers have given up a huge play late. In a loss to the Ravens, it was a touchdown with 34 seconds left in the game; against the Saints, it was a late touchdown drive; and against the Jets, it was a late safety.
How Pittsburgh will win -- The Steelers have won eight of the last 10 home games against the Ravens. Pittsburgh has succeeded all season in minimizing giveaways and maximizing takeaways -- the Steelers currently rank second in the AFC with a +14 differential. Pittsburgh's defense is tenacious as always, ranking fourth in interceptions, ninth in fumbles recovered and 11th in forced fumbles. The team that wins the turnover game will most likely advance to the AFC Championship.
Prediction -- Pittsburgh 21, Baltimore 17
Thursday, January 13, 2011
The following players are free agents: quarterback Rex Grossman, wide receiver Santana Moss, offensive linemen Jammal Brown, Will Montgomery and Stephon Heyer, defensive lineman Kedric Golston, linebackers Andre Carter, H.B. Blades, Rocky McIntosh and Chris Wilson, cornerbacks Carlos Rogers and Phillip Buchanon and safety Reid Doughty.
The only player on that list who it would be foolish not to re-sign is Brown, who the Redskins acquired last season from the New Orleans Saints. Washington doesn't have the depth on the offensive line needed to part ways with him.
From my calculations (based off Rotoworld.com's numbers), the Redskins have around $68 million in salary on the books next year, including $8.25 million owed to running back Clinton Portis, $5.4 million owed to nose tackle Albert Haynesworth, $4.9 million owed to linebacker London Fletcher and $4.5 million owed to cornerback DeAngelo Hall.
Those four could all be cut by next season, which would save the team around $23 million. And in a year that may have no salary cap, that's good news for team owner Daniel Snyder and his notoriously deep pockets.
So who's out there?
At quarterback, Grossman clearly is not the long-term replacement. And with a weak crop of free agents -- outside of Indianapolis' Peyton Manning and Philadelphia's Michael Vick, who will both likely be re-signed -- the Skins may be forced to grab one in the draft.
There's plenty of running backs available, though: Carolina's DeAngelo Williams, Houston's Arian Foster, New York Giants' Ahmad Bradshaw, Cincinnati's Cedric Benson, San Diego's Mike Tolbert and Darren Sproles, New England's BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Oakland's Michael Bush and Baltimore's Le'Ron McClain are all available, though some will certainly be re-signed.
With the depth in the free agent pool combined with the Redskins' promising future at the position under starter Ryan Torain, Washington should avoid spending a precious draft pick on one.
At wide receiver, free agency shows some promising talent as well: San Diego's Vincent Jackson and Malcom Floyd, New York Jets' Santonio Holmes and New York Giants' Steve Smith are all available, and all would seemingly like to be "the man" in Washington.
It doesn't appear to be an overly deep pool on either side of the line, though I am admittedly not immediately drawn to watching offensive and defensive linemen during a game. Regardless, Baltimore's Jared Gaither and Denver's Ryan Harris could both be realistic signings for Washington without having to give away or spend any draft picks.
Defensive backs are abundant this year: Oakland's Nnamdi Asomugha headlines the class, along with Cincinnati's Johnathan Joseph, New York Jets' Antonio Cromartie, and down the road in Baltimore, a trio of safeties are free agents in Dawan Landry, Tom Zbikowski and Haruki Nakamura.
With the way safety Jim Leonhard left Baltimore to be a starter for the New York Jets, promising one of those three a starting spot would make sense and immediately add depth to the secondary.
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
With the 10th overall pick, the Redskins can make good use of their first-rounder, opting to draft an impact wide receiver, a quarterback or plugging the holes in the offensive line or secondary.
Washington's weaknesses are apparent just about everywhere. On offense, the Redskins need a franchise quarterback, some depth on the offensive line, possibly a new running back (though I've been impressed with Ryan Torain, and he comes cheap) and an impact wide receiver.
On defense, they need to replace Albert Haynesworth -- assuming they cut him -- and start planning for the future at linebacker without Rocky McIntosh and one or two years left from London Fletcher. The Skins also need help in the secondary, and adding a cornerback or two and a free safety would help.
Of course, there's always free agency, too. That will be part two of this two-part series, due out tomorrow. For now, it's time to look at the Redskins' draft prospects.
Round 1, pick 10 -- The pick everyone seems to be pushing for is a quarterback. And with Washington's Jake Locker, Auburn's Cam Newton, Arkansas' Ryan Mallett and Missouri's Blaine Gabbert all likely to fall somewhere in the first round, it wouldn't be surprising to see the Redskins use their selection for one of these guys.
But it's always risky using a first-round pick on a quarterback, and with Stanford's Andrew Luck announcing his intentions to stay in school another year, these four receive an artificial bump in value. SB Nation projects the Redskins to go with Gabbert at No. 10.
Washington could draft one of the three elite wide receivers here, too. Georgia's AJ Green, Alabama's Julio Jones and Oklahoma State's Justin Blackmon are the three best receivers in the draft by a fairly wide margin. If Green is around at No. 10 (he won't be), he's a no-brainer. But the Redskins could trade back a few spots, pick up a third-round pick and still grab Blackmon around No. 17 or so.
Round 2, pick 10 -- If the Redskins go quarterback in the first round, a wide receiver would be the most likely pick in the second, and vice versa. It's possible Mallett will still be on the board here, though not necessarily likely. After those four, the quality of quarterback suffers a hit. ESPN rates Florida State's Christian Ponder and TCU's Andy Dalton the next best quarterbacks, but either one would be a reach in the early second round. Blackmon will most likely be off the board here, but at 6-foot-5 and 224 pounds, Pitt's Jonathan Baldwin would be an interesting pick.
Note: Washington forfeited its third-round pick to New Orleans for offensive lineman Jammal Brown, and its fourth-round pick to Philadelphia for quarterback Donovan McNabb.
Round 5, pick 10 -- The Redskins don't need to spend a high draft pick on a running back. There could still be great value on the board in the fifth round. Wisconsin running back John Clay or Nebraska running back Roy Helu are bruisers who both averaged more than five yards per carry this season, and found the end zone frequently.
Round 5, pick 24 -- With the secondary struggling all season, the Redskins may draft a free safety. One who could fall to a later pick is Florida's Will Hill, a talented but inconsistent prospect who declared early for the draft. Hill has shown flashes of being NFL talent, but hasn't put it together for an entire season. If he's on the board in the fifth round, he'd be a solid pickup. (Washington received this pick from New Orleans in the acquisition of offensive lineman Jammal Brown.)
Round 6, pick 10 -- If the Skins opt not to go with a quarterback early -- and that's OK -- they could grab a guy like North Carolina quarterback T.J. Yates here. The 6-foot-4, 220-pound Yates has a pro body and finished his senior season with career highs in attempts, completions, passing yards and touchdowns.
Round 6, pick 22 -- One value who could come off the board late is West Virginia cornerback Brandon Hogan. Once considered a first-round pick, Hogan had some off-the-field troubles stemming from a disorderly conduct citation and poor grades. And though he's not dominant, he could be good for a late-round flier as a low-risk, medium-reward type pick. (Washington most likely receives a sixth- or seventh-round pick from Indianapolis for giving up cornerback Justin Tryon.)
Round 7, pick 10 -- An aging Casey Rabach at center needs to be replaced in the next couple years, and Auburn's Ryan Pugh could take over that role with a bit of work. Pugh was a Rimington Trophy finalist (awarded to the nation's top center) and was partly responsible for Auburn's offensive success this season. He's not a surefire pick, which is why a seventh-round selection would fit the bill here.
Tuesday, January 11, 2011
The wiry 6-foot-8, 205-pound Baltimore native has worked his way into the Huskies' starting lineup for the last eight games, replacing fellow freshman Niels Giffey.
It's been a move for the better for UConn, which has seen an increase in production from Smith. Coming off the bench, he averaged 6.5 points and 4.2 rebounds in 21 minutes per game. Over the last eight games, Smith has upped his numbers to 8.1 points and 7.1 rebounds in 29 minutes per game.
And after piecing together a 13-point, 6-rebound performance in an 82-81 win over Texas, you'd think everyone would be singing his praises.
Except it took an overtime performance and a clutch basket from star Kemba Walker to get there, partly because of a huge blunder by Smith.
Tied toward the end of regulation, UConn made a stop and Smith grabbed the rebound. He launched the ball 80 feet in a desperate attempt to put the Huskies up three points.
Except, he did it with 11 seconds left on the clock. His shot sailed out of bounds and gave Texas the ball with 7.5 seconds left. Luckily, the Longhorns missed again, and UConn won in overtime.
"I've seen a lot of things in my life. I've never seen that. I never have, really," said head coach Jim Calhoun after the game.
Smith was embarrassed, as he should have been. The clip circulated the internet almost immediately.
"When I saw the clock, I thought there were two or three seconds left. My team -- man, they got on me in the locker room. I glanced at [the clock] and threw it up there. I just saw the clock going real fast," Smith told the Hartford Courant.
UConn fans forgave and forgot the mental mistake. Smith, a four-star recruit from Baltimore by way of Oak Hill Academy, was ranked the No. 7 small forward in 2010 and the No. 37 overall player in the 2010 class.
Check out the video below. Smith's shot is shown at the :34 mark.
Monday, January 10, 2011
Rivals.com's No. 4 rated athlete and No. 39 overall prospect in the country, Frost was invited to the prestigious U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio this past weekend.
Having found out about the selection last October, Frost continued to work in the classroom and in the weight room, earning offers from Auburn, Clemson, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, North Carolina, NC State, South Carolina and Virginia Tech, among others.
But as of a week ago, Frost had already picked which school he'd attend in the fall (or sooner). His finalists included Auburn, Michigan and LSU, but he decided to wait until the All-American Bowl to make his selection, a typical move for kids appearing in the all-star game.
"A dozen or more prospects could announce their college destinations during the telecast of Saturday's U.S. Army All-American Bowl," Rivals.com analyst Josh Helmholdt reported.
The 6-foot-3, 210-pound athlete wanted his time in the spotlight. Once there, he announced his decision: "
Unfortunately for Frost, he may have dilly-dallied a bit too long. As 24/7 Sports analyst Bryan Matthews tweeted, "Unfortunately for Kris Frost, Auburn doesn't have room for him and will not be accepting his commitment."
Ouch. To wait all that time, make your announcement on national TV and get told, "Sorry kid, but we can't squeeze you in," has got to be a tough pill to swallow.
Making it even worse, Auburn seemingly filled up between when he said he decided on a school (January 2) and when he actually announced his decision (January 8). The Tigers accepted three more commitments during that six-day frame, including a one-time Alabama commit turned Auburn commit, Brent Calloway.
Calloway, a 6-foot-1, 210-pound linebacker from Alabama, committed to Auburn in the fourth quarter of the same game Frost was playing in -- Frost was beaten to the punch for what appeared to be the last available scholarship just an hour or so before Frost announced his decision.
This story could still have a happy ending. There are always ways to squeeze in another kid, especially a highly touted one. The Tigers could ask a fifth-year senior to give up his scholarship, or take a scholarship away from a former walk-on, for instance. Those types of moves are fairly commonplace. That said, it's certainly not guaranteed that Frost will be playing in Auburn next fall.
Friday, January 7, 2011
The Ravens travel to the midwest this weekend to face off in the AFC Wildcard game as a three-point favorite. Here's everything you need to know:
How they reached the playoffs -- Baltimore secured an AFC Wildcard spot after finishing the season winning six of seven games and ending up second in the AFC North; Kansas City won five of its last six games to capture the AFC West.
Key personnel -- Baltimore's defense landed four players in the 2011 Pro Bowl; Kansas City's standouts are running back Jamaal Charles and wide receiver Dwayne Bowe.
Matchup to watch for -- Kansas City's run game versus Baltimore's run defense. The Ravens will have their hands full on Sunday, as the Chiefs rank first in the NFL in rush yards, led by star running back Charles. Charles nearly broke an all-time NFL record for yards per carry this year (6.4) en route to rushing for 1,467 yards. Though Charles reached the end zone just five times on the ground, he's capable of breaking off big yards on any down. His backup, Thomas Jones, ran for nearly 900 yards and six touchdowns this season. But Baltimore's run defense is impressive, ranking fifth-best in the league.
Baltimore's big play potential -- Running back Ray Rice has been a workhorse this season, touching the ball nearly 25 times a game. His 63 catches are second-best on the team, making him a threat whenever he's on the field.
Kansas City's big play potential -- Wide receiver Dwayne Bowe is arguably the best under-the-radar receiver in the league. He finished the regular season with 72 catches for 1,162 yards and 15 touchdowns, hauling in an impressive 16.1 yards per catch. Bowe scored touchdowns in eight of the final 10 games of the season, but really heated up in the final six games, where he averaged 7.5 catches and 123 yards per game and reached the end zone eight times.
Who can't struggle -- Baltimore's defense, which has been on the field for an average of 34 minutes per game in its four losses. And in a thrilling 34-28 overtime win over Houston, a gassed Ravens defense allowed touchdown drives of 99 and 95 yards in the fourth quarter.
On the other side of the ball, Kansas City quarterback Matt Cassel, who at one point had racked up 26 touchdowns to just four interceptions. But Cassel sputtered at the end of the season, throwing just one touchdown and three interceptions, completing 26 of 62 passes for 150 yards per game in his final two games.
How Baltimore will win -- Baltimore has been in the playoffs before. There's no reason the Ravens should have any jitters coming into Sunday's game. Future Hall of Fame linebacker Ray Lewis has a Super Bowl ring to his name, while head coach John Harbaugh and quarterback Joe Flacco have been to the playoffs in each of their first three seasons in Charm City.
How Kansas City will win -- The Ravens defense has worn down late in games this season when the offense sputters out, forcing the defense to stay on the field for most of the second half. Kansas City will need to control the line of scrimmage and keep the chains moving with its lethal running game.
Prediction -- Baltimore 27, Kansas City 24
Thursday, January 6, 2011
But that's just what happened to Ted Williams, a Columbus, Ohio native. Williams' sign reads: "I have a G-d given gift of voice. I'm an ex-radio announcer who has fallen on hard times."
Williams was a radio announcer prior to his drug addictions. And after the video went viral, earning more than six million views, he was contacted on Wednesday by the Cleveland Cavaliers. But wait, there's more.
Not only do the Cavs want to sign Williams, who is two years clean, to a two-year contract to do voice work at Quicken Loans Arena, they also offered to pay for the mortgage on the new house they're giving him.
In the video below, you'll see this guy is the real deal. And as a result of this new-found publicity, he's also earned interest from NFL Films for voiceover radio work.
There must be something about homeless-to-famous: British singer Susan Boyle made the same leap in 2008 on Britain's Got Talent, when she became a household name for her amazing singing voice.
Wednesday, January 5, 2011
The Seahawks became the first team in NFL history to make the playoffs with a losing record. The only other time a team with a losing record reached the playoffs was during the strike-shortened 1982 season, when Cleveland and Detroit made it in with 4-5 records.
So while Seattle gets the benefit of playing in front of the home crowd at Qwest Field, the New York Giants (10-6) and Tampa Bay Buccaneers (10-6), teams in more competitive divisions than the NFC West, are forced to sit at home and watch.
The Seahawks boast the NFL's 31st-ranked running game, the 27th-ranked pass defense, the 21st-ranked run defense and the 19th-ranked pass offense. In short, they are the easiest target in NFL playoff history that a postseason-bound team could ask for.
The Seahawks lost five of their last seven games to end the season. The average score of their games was a 25-19 loss. As a result, they're an 11-point underdog at home against the Saints on Saturday.
But get this: If Seattle had lost to St. Louis on Sunday, the Seahawks would have had the eighth overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft. As a result of the win, Seattle will pick no lower than 21st.
The situation prompted NFL.com's Jason La Canfora to write a compelling piece stating that the NFL should consider reseeding teams for the playoffs. Obviously, Seattle did not deserve the No. 4 seed and home field advantage.
"Playoff seeding is an issue this season because the winner of the NFC West could be 8-8 or 7-9, while a team with 10 or 11 wins might have to go on the road," La Canfora wrote prior to Sunday's game.
But Giants co-owner John Mara isn't hopeful that there will ever be a change: "For me, a team that wins their division with a .500 record or worse shouldn't necessarily get a home game over a team that wins 10 or 11 games. I can't tell you I have a lot of hope about that passing. It's been discussed in the past and never gone anywhere," he told La Canfora.
Tuesday, January 4, 2011
Maryland has hired Randy Edsall, former head coach at UConn, to replace Friedgen. Fans are furious, and rightly so.
I was so disappointed with the decision to hire Edsall that I wrote a 600-word e-mail to athletic director Kevin Anderson, senior associate athletic director Randy Eaton and University of Maryland system chancellor Brit Kirwan (who spoke out about not wanting to hire Leach prior to the decision).
My lengthy rant to those three is included below. In short, it was an unexciting, non-confrontational, boring, average, frustrating hire, made even lamer by the fact that Leach apparently wanted the job.
Ultimately, Under Armour founder and Maryland grad Kevin Plank wasn't willing to stick his reputation on the line for a guy who has been known to be eccentric and unpredictable. So the Terps hired Edsall.
Your speech about "moving our program from good to great" got me legitimately excited about the future of the Maryland football program. But with the recent news of Randy Edsall's hiring has me more disappointed than ever.
I realize my voice may not matter to you. After all, I'm a recent grad and a bronze level member of the Terrapin Club. And I do not currently hold season tickets. However, in speaking to several people in my shoes, it seems many people, like myself, were prepared to up their donations and buy multiple season tickets in anticipation of the hiring of Mike Leach. I was ready to up my donation to silver level and purchase four season tickets, despite a meager salary. And while my friends and I may be a small sample size, I do believe it's indicative of the excitement surrounding the future of the program.
What Coach Edsall has done at UConn has been impressive, taking a I-AA program to Big East Champions in 10 years. But the Huskies have clearly hit their ceiling. They will never be a powerhouse program. And as Maryland fans, we realize we will not be a big time football school like an Alabama, Texas or Southern Cal. But with Mike Leach, fans finally felt like there was a chance to be great, to compete for the ACC Championship year in and year out.
Your decision to fire Coach Friedgen, an alum and the ACC Coach of the Year, caused some fans to be up in arms about it, but many defended your decision, as hiring Mike Leach would have been an ideal matchup that could have brought the Terps program to national prominence. Having watched UConn's rise from mediocre to good over the past decade, I do not see how Randy Edsall, who is 22-26 all-time against Big East opponents, is capable of taking Maryland to the next level. I assume you watched the Fiesta Bowl, featuring Connecticut and Oklahoma, where the Huskies were not even in the same universe as the Sooners from a talent perspective.
Conservative fans were upset you fired Friedgen. Others held out hope that hiring Mike Leach could bring us to greatness. You have now alienated both sides of the fence. People who defended the move at the time are now upset with how Friedgen was handled to make a completely lateral move, while people who were upset from the get-go are still upset.
Look at a comparison between the two coaches:
Overall record - Fridge (75-50), Edsall (73-63)
Record against Top 10 opponents - Fridge (3-7), Edsall (0-7)
Record against Top 25 opponents - Fridge (12-19), Edsall (1-15)
You called the firing of Friedgen a "strategic business decision." I believe a good business decision involves selling season tickets and luxury suites, generating excitement, and improving the brand name of Maryland football. With Randy Edsall, you will accomplish none of that. One year from now, with no buyout, this would have been an acceptable move. But by spending the $2 million to get rid of Friedgen this year, I assumed you had a star hire that would get butts in seats instantly. Fans had their wallets out ready to purchase season tickets, and it feels like you just closed the ticket window and said you were going on your lunch break.
I sincerely hope Coach Edsall turns Maryland football into a perennial Top 25 team, competing for ACC Championships regularly. I just don't see how that could possibly happen. I truly fail to see how this takes us from good to great.
Class of 2008
Monday, January 3, 2011
Now, he looks more like the mangy cat that lives in the alleyway that needs to be put down.
Let's face it: Favre is clinging onto his NFL career for dear life at this point. He's had the worst statistical year of his career, and finally broke his streak of consecutive starts at 297.
Coming back this year was a mistake. People are going to remember his year on the Jets and his years on the Vikings as much as his 17 years on the Packers. And, schmuck or not, that's sad.
But Favre is just the next on the list of sports personalities who overstayed their welcome. Let's have a look at the list, shall we?
Patrick Ewing, Seattle SuperSonics and Orlando Magic -- After spending 15 terrific years with the New York Knicks and earning nine-time All-Star honors, Ewing limped to the finish line in Seattle and Orlando. He started all 79 games for Seattle, averaging just 9.6 points and 7.4 rebounds per game. But he spent the next year in Orlando, where he started just four games, played 14 minutes per game, and averaged career lows in points (6.0) and rebounds (4.0) per game.
Michael Jordan, Washington Wizards -- The man who many consider the best to ever play professional basketball, Jordan led the NBA in scoring 11 times. After three years of retirement, the 38-year old Jordan suited up for the Wizards for two seasons, averaging nearly career lows statistically across the board.
Hakeem Olajuwon, Toronto Raptors -- The 12-time NBA All-Star and career leader in blocks (3,830) had an illustrious career with Houston. But as a 39-year old, Olajuwon needed one more year to convince himself he couldn't hang with the young guys anymore. The Dream played in a career-low 22.6 minutes per game, averaging career lows in points (7.1) and rebounds (6.0) per game before retiring.
Johnny Unitas, San Diego Chargers -- Unitas starred for 17 years as a Baltimore Colt, earning 10 Pro Bowl appearances. His 290 passing touchdowns remain seventh-best ever. But Unitas couldn't go out on top, instead coming back to play one last season for San Diego as a 40-year old (sound familiar?). Unitas' stint with San Diego included a 1-3 record as a starter, and three touchdowns to seven interceptions.
Sammy Sosa, Baltimore Orioles and Texas Rangers -- Sosa was a seven-time All-Star with the Chicago Cubs from 1995 to 2004, but kept coming back for more, even when it was obvious his golden days were well behind him. As a 36-year old, Sosa batted .221 for Baltimore, hitting 14 home runs and 45 RBIs, a far cry from the slugger's 52 average home runs in the seven seasons prior. Sosa bounced back with a respectable year in Toronto in 2007 before ultimately hanging it up.
Muhammad Ali -- For 20 years, Ali floated like a butterfly and stung like a bee, racking up an impressive 53-2 record (with 37 knockouts). But in his last four fights between 1978 and 1981 included a 1-3 record, losing his final match to Trevor Berbick. Said fellow boxing legend Mike Tyson: "I just thought he unmercifully beat the crap out of Ali. I just thought that he didn't have to do that. This guy, Ali, was absolutely helpless. … Ali couldn't do nothing."
Joe Gibbs, Washington Redskins -- The only non-player to appear on the list, Gibbs, a three-time Super Bowl winner, was re-hired by the Redskins after 12 years away from the sport. He led Washington to a 30-34 record over four seasons and two playoff appearances, but looked lost at times, even losing a game to Buffalo after calling two consecutive timeouts (a penalty which gave the Bills better field position to score the game-winning field goal).