Saturday, April 21, 2007

Spurs, Heat to meet in NBA Finals

Amidst all the Nowitski or Nash for MVP hype as the Phoenix Suns and Dallas Mavericks both rolled through the NBA with over 60 wins each, the San Antonio Spurs quietly completed their eighth consecutive winning season. In fact, since Tim Duncan was drafted No.1 by San Antonio ten years ago, the Spurs have the best winning percentage of all four major sports. The Spurs three world championships came in spurts during that span, largely in part to the short lived Laker dynasty and numerous injuries to the big three of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili, who are usually banged up by the time the playoffs roll around. However, for the first time in five years, Tim Duncan has not missed a game the entire season. The remaining core of the team, Parker, Ginobili, Michael Finley, and Bruce Bowen all have been healthy all season long, each keeping their games missed to a single digit number.

The first round matchup against the Denver Nuggets promises to be entertaining, with two amazingly quick guards in Tony Parker and Allen Iverson going up against each other. While Denver’s improving frontline of Carmelo Anthony, Nene, and Marcus Camby may be able to slow down Duncan, look for Ginobili to have a huge series against a poor perimeter defensive team. Throw in veterans Robert Horry, Michael Finley, and Brent Barry, all of whom will step up their games come playoff time, and San Antonio will advance to the second round.

The Spurs have continuously shown that they are the only team in the NBA who can slow down the Phoenix Suns. Whether it be the ability of Tony Parker to keep pace with the quickness Steven Nash and Leandro Barbosa, Ginobili coming off the bench for an energy boost, or Tim Duncan’s post presence, the Spurs have consistently had the Suns’ number, with a 12-3 advantage in meetings over the past three years including the 4-1 western conference finals playoff series two years ago. Perhaps the only potential stumbling block for San Antonio is a motivated Amare Stoudemire, but look for the Suns, who only play seven players, coming off another brutal first round series against the Lakers, to be burned out.

The Dallas Mavericks are the toughest hurdle for the San Antonio Spurs. In what is quickly becoming a great Texas rivalry, the most important match up is to be found on the sidelines as Avery Johnson going up against his former coach Greg Popovich, both of whom have known nothing but success as head coaches. At first glace, San Antonio appears to have the tougher route to the western finals with Denver and Phoenix. However, Dallas cannot sleep on Don Nelson’s Golden State Warriors and the Utah Jazz or Houston Rockets, which may turn out to be the best first round series by the way. The regular season records and games are thrown out the window here. Remember, last year these two teams came down to the final minute in overtime of Game 7 in a classic series. As basketball fans, we can only hope for a similar showdown.

The Eastern Conference will actually be decided in the second round when the Detroit Pistons and the Miami Heat face off. No one in the east has yet to come up with answers for Dwayne Wade and Shaq. The Detroit Pistons could not beat the Heat last year with Ben Wallace, so without him they are even worse off. The aging Big Ben has never been able to contain Shaq and scare Wade away from the paint, so the Chicago Bulls, as great as they are defensively as a team, will fall to Miami again. The Toronto Raptors have been a great story, but they simply lack the experience for a deep playoff run. The Cleveland Cavaliers’ Zydrunas Igauskas wants no part of The Big Fella. Miami has been plagued by physical injuries and mental disinterest throughout the season. The players have openly admitted that they were simply playing for a playoff spot, rather than a good record and higher seed. As shown by last year’s championship run, this deep group of veterans can simply turn up the heat when it matters. Gary Payton, Antoine Walker, Jason Williams, Eddie Jones, and Alonzo Mourning are all former all-stars who can make big plays when called upon. James Posey, Udonis Haslem, and Jason Kapono round up a deep supporting cast. As TNT’s Kenny Smith would say, the Miami Heat are built for the playoffs, not all that unlike the San Antonio Spurs.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Madden Curse

Vince Young has the honor (horror?) of gracing the cover of Madden 08. A look at past coverboys, and how the dreaded Madden curse has affected them:

  • Barry Saunders/Dorsey Levens, Madden 2000: When original co-cover boy (with John Madden himself) Barry Sanders abruptly retired just before training camp in 1999, he was replaced by fellow star NFC Central running back Levens, in subsequent releases of the game. Levens' once-stellar career with the Green Bay Packers coincidentally started to go downhill in 1999.

  • Eddie George, Madden 2001: In a 2000-01 playoff game, George failed to catch a pass that was then intercepted and returned for a touchdown by the eventual Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens' Ray Lewis. His performance and durability also began to decline.

  • Daunte Culpepper, Madden 2002: Culpepper's 2001 season was cut short by a knee injury and his team, the Minnesota Vikings, suffered a losing season one year after making it to the NFC Championship Game.

  • Marshall Faulk, Madden 2003: Faulk injured his ankle during the 2002 season, and, after five consecutive 1,000-yard rushing seasons heading into the cover year, never again had one.

  • Michael Vick, Madden 2004: One day after the game released, Vick broke his right fibula during a 2003 preseason game, appearing in only the final five regular-season games, as the Atlanta Falcons, a 2002 playoff team with Vick starting at quarterback, went 5-11 in 2003.

  • Ray Lewis, Madden 2005: Limited with a wrist injury, Lewis finished the 2004 season without an interception as the Ravens failed to make the playoffs. (In 2003 the Ravens won the AFC North division and Lewis had six interceptions.)

  • Donovan McNabb, Madden 06: McNabb sustained a sports hernia and a groin injury during the 2005 season, ultimately electing to cut that season short by having surgery for the hernia - all the while engaged in a running feud with troublesome teammate Terrell Owens. All of these factors contributed to a disappointing season for the Philadelphia Eagles as they finished last in their divsion after a Super Bowl appearance the previous year.

  • Shaun Alexander, Madden 07: Coming off an MVP and Super Bowl trip, Alexander suffered a hairline fracture in his left foot forcing him to miss six games and fall short of a 1,000 yard rushing season.

  • Vince Young, Madden 08: No one will be surprised if a sophomore slump follows Young's impressive 8-3 record as a rookie starter. Throw in the fact that he is a scrambling quarterback, and an injury is sadly likely...

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Joey Crawford vs Tim Duncan

Props to David Stern and the NBA for indefinitely suspending referee Joey Crawford after he unreasonably ejected Tim Duncan in Sunday's game in Dallas with two separate technical fouls for simply laughing while on the bench. Duncan also claimed that Crawford challenged him to a fight, in what clearly seemed to be some sort of personal outburst. In a season where the league has been cracking down on players' constant complaining, perhaps excessively, it is quite refreshing to see the NBA side with one of its icons instead, as referees are rarely disciplined by their leagues. Despite a $25,000 slap on the wrist, Tim Duncan has long been an excellent player and role model. By suspending Crawford for the rest of the year, the NBA ditched the horrid possibility of Crawford refereeing a crucial playoff game involving the San Antonio Spurs.

Monday, April 16, 2007

How Many UC Students...

How many UC students does it take to change a light bulb?
  • CAL : 3. 1 to change the light bulb and 2 to debate the metaphysical state of the bulb and how it's invention has impacted human development.
  • UCSD : 5. 1 to actually change it and 4 to start smoking weed.
  • UCI : 11. 1 changes it while the other 10 sit around watching because honestly, what else is there to do at Irvine past 10 pm?
  • UCR : 3. 1 to steal the bulb, 1 to drive the getaway car, and the other one to call up his friends to throw the celebration party Tuesday night.
  • UCSB : 7. 1 to screw the light bulb and 6 to screw each other.
  • UCD : 0. They don't have electricity in Davis...
  • UC Merced : 2. One to hold the light bulb while the other calls his friends asking for help in figuring out this new "college thing".
  • UCSC : None. Living in the forest, they see by moonlight and torches - damn hippies....
  • UCLA : 2. 1 to change the bulb. 1 to call up his friends at USC and tell them how they changed it and how they did it better and for cheaper.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

2007 NFL Schedule

You know America loves the NFL when the release of the schedule is news. So without further ado, let me present to you my take on each week's best matchup:

  1. New Orleans at Indianapolis (9/6 NBC) - The great tradition of having the champs host the season opener against a sexy contender continues, this time as Reggie Bush and Drew Brees come to town. Look for the banner ceremony to fire everyone up in a high scoring shootout.
  2. San Diego at New England (9/16 NBC) - Chargers look to get some revenge on last year's heated playoff upset, and they have shown they can win at Foxboro before.
  3. Tenessee at New Orleans (9/24 ESPN) - Monday Night Football has lost a lot of its attractiveness in the past couple of years, but Vince Young versus Reggie Bush is hot.
  4. Houston at Atlanta (9/30) - Matt Schaub returns to the Georgie Dome, and after this game we should have a good feel for how well the biggest offseason gamble turned out.
  5. Seattle at Pittsburgh (10/7) - Quick Super Bowl rematches are great, but this one will be more in particular because the entire state of Washington still believes the Seahawks got screwed, giving the Steelers something to prove.
  6. New England at Dallas (10/14) - Tom Brady visits Tony Romo, both are against tough run-stopping 3-4 defenses. Shootout anyone?
  7. Chicago at Philadephia (10/21) - These two NFC contenders' hopes rest squarely on the shoulders of their respective quarterbacks in Rex Grossman and Donovan McNabb.
  8. New York Giants at Miami (10/28) - The London Bowl. Perhaps the only aspect in which the NFL is far behind the NBA, and even baseball for that matter, is that they have failed to appeal to foreign countries. This game is a good start.
  9. New England at Indianapolis (11/4) - It is always Game of the Year with these two. Last year's 20-point comeback by Peyton Manning and company in the AFC championship game was the real Super Bowl, in what may have been the most amazing game ever.
  10. Indianapolis at San Diego (11/11 NBC) - "Let's just say we had some, uh, protection problems." Shawn Merriman is coming for you, Peyton.
  11. Chicago at Seattle (11/18 NBC) - The NFC locks to win their division meet again. Last year's overtime playoff game was awfully close, but that was in Chicago.
  12. Baltimore at San Diego (11/25) - Thanksgiving weekend means two great things, food and football. The two most feared defenses against two dynamic offenses put on a show last season.
  13. New England at Baltimore (12/3 ESPN) - Brady versus McNair, both backed by tough defenses.
  14. Pittsburgh at New England (12/9) - Big Ben snapped Brady's record of 21 straight wins in his rookie year.
  15. Arizona at New Orleans (12/16) - Matt Leinart is facing a lot of pressure entering his first full year as a starter, and by this late point in the season will be expected to impress.
  16. Dallas at Carolina (12/22 NFL Network) - Time Warner, suck it up and let us watch our football please.
  17. New Orleans at Chicago (12/30) - The last week always features a bunch of meaningless games, so it is hard to predict which ones will have a big impact on the playoffs. Cannot go wrong with the NFC championship rematch though.

Five months to go...

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Madden Nation

ESPN's Countdown to the Cover for EA Sports' Madden 08 continues, this time with a story on Madden Nation.

EA Sports has sold over 57 million copies of Madden over the past 17 years. Madden NFL 07 sold 7.82 million units since its August 22, 2006 launch, including two million copies in its first week at retail. That made it the number one selling game in North America last year and it's the top-selling franchise in North America (lifetime).

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Devin Hester

In 2006, Chicago Bears' rookie cornerback Devin Hester racked up six touchdowns on three punt returns, two kick returns and an incredible 108-yard return of a missed field goal attempt against the New York Giants. Additionally, he took the opening kickoff of Super Bowl XLI 92 yards for a score, making him the first player ever to open the Super Bowl with a touchdown on the very first kick. But nothing may top THIS.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007


The Florida Gators defeated the Ohio State Buckeyes for the NCAA national championship Monday night...again. For the uneducated, Florida also topped Ohio State 41-14 in the BCS title game in football, in what has suddenly become a heated lopsided rivalry. The Gators won their second consecutive basketball championship last night, 84-75, cementing themselves in history as one of the greatest college basketball teams ever assembled. While Florida's Al Horford, Joakim Noah, Corey Brewer, and Al Thornton are all destined to be lottery picks in June's draft, Ohio State's Greg Oden earned the No.1 pick, stealing the show with 25 points, 12 rebounds, and 4 blocks in a dominating performace.