Saturday, February 27, 2010

Kansas Loses in Stillwater

Kansas lost 77-85 to Oklahoma State in a game widely regarded as a tricky one for the Jayhawks. The Cowboys shot 60% from the floor, 53% from beyond the three point line, out rebounded Kansas and in general made KU look silly.

Bill Self on the post game radio: "We sucked." "Very disappointing. " "We didn't guard and we didn't rebound...a soft team out there today." "Big guys had bad, bad games." "Never in it after first TV timeout." "A bad performance by us...they [OK St] were really good on the offensive end." "It was a bad night...we all contributed...coaches, players..." "They were just better then us today, in all facets."

If it is any consolation, Kentucky stubbed its toe against Tennessee this afternoon. Do you want the Volunteers in your NCAA bracket?

Congratulations on District Wins for Rockhurst and Center!

Rockhurst hoists the district plaque after beating Grandview by one point.

Center continues its improbable run through the playoffs with a victory over Ruskin.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Missouri District Play: Ruskin, Grandview Boys Through to Finals,

Close but no cigar for the Raytown South Cardinals against Rockhurst.
The high schools are the tasty appetizer to the college boys' tournament--and the food has been terrific. Ray South and Rockhurst hooked up in a close one, with the Hawklets prevailing by one point. They will meet Grandvew on Saturday at 3 pm at Rockhurst for the Class 5 District championship. Ruskin will play Center at O'Hare Saturday at 2 pm for the Class 4 District championship. Both games should be terrific games.

And BOO to the Kansas City Star if they don't give the district playdowns more coverage!

Not a Huge Winter Olympics Fan Here

Yes, there have been no entries on the Winter Olympics currently going on in Vancouver, B.C. Canada here on this blog. I have been following here and there, on the news and interwebs, and there have been some neat stories. However, the winter sports just don't make for must-see-TV viewing for me.

Except hockey. I do like hockey. I have a funny feeling there will be a Canada-U.S. rematch for the gold medal.

I'd even listen to that game on the radio.

The Pause Before the Storm

Percolating. That's how I would describe the sports scene right now. You've got baseball in spring training. You've got football combines, free agency, club releases and more coaching moves in the NFL, with the draft coming in April. You've got college basketball winding down regular season play, with the conference play offs and Selection Sunday coming. Every day there's a small bit of news about something. For example, two teams, San Diego and Philadelphia, cut ties with long time very productive running backs. Spring training has daily reports: from Zack Greinke's teeth to Mike Aviles' elbow to first Cactus League game next week. Kansas, Kansas State, and Missouri are all perking along, with Missouri now making a strong case to get into the NCAA Tournament. Vermont hockey may miss the playoffs for the first time since Hockey East was organized, but Vermont hoopsters both male and female are in the thick of the America East races. So rest up now, because between now and April, more then the weather will be warming up!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Spring Training

In a scene from last year's spring training sessions, players meet on the diamond before practice. (source: Denver Post)

Pitchers and catchers reported last week.

Full squad work outs start Monday.

Thank God.

How in the world did I do Winter in Vermont?

Friday, February 19, 2010

Tiger's Apology

Step 9: Made direct amends to people we had harmed...
Tiger Woods took 13.5 minutes of the world's time this morning starting at 1000 CST to apologize for his cheating on his wife. Attired rather starkly in dress shirt without tie, dark jacket and trousers, Woods looked stiff and scripted as he read/gave his statement. Opinions have generally been positive concerning the effects of the statement, and the event has been talked about all day.

To me, it sounded like boiler plate recovery talk, part of the seek forgiveness, make amends steps. Tiger is a man working the recovery program. If he means it, and means to continue working on being a better, more real, more genuine person, great. If it's just blather, then we all wasted our time.

Let's be real. The world of golf wants--no, needs--him back. Golf is not nearly as interesting or fun without him, nor does it make any money without him. I wish him well in his continuing recovery work. Let's hope he can keep it real.

More on the 12 steps here.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

An Outstanding Game

Hickman Mills playing the zone defense that helped them to victory.
Hickman Mills and Grandview hooked up for a terrific boys basketball game last night. The game went into overtime and was won by Hickman Mills 67-66. Here's the score by quarter:

Hickman Mills- 12 15 12 25 5 67
Grandview----- 15 19 14 14 4 66

You can see that Hickman Mills caught up in the forth quarter after being down 9 points virtually all game. They did it by making 3 point shots, and by playing well executed zone defense in the last quarter and OT, which Grandview never could quite solve. I'm afraid I don't have a roster, but young Mr. Dennis for Hickman Mills displayed icy calm as he made his 3 three point shots in the forth quarter and extra period. Hickman Mills had a total of 5 treys, against only 3 for Grandview.

Interestingly, both teams shot pretty well from the foul line, including some high pressure shots. Grandview was 13-17 and Hickman Mills 14-18--both roughly 78%. As this blog has asked before, what has happened to free throw shooting at the college level, especially among the elites?

Saturday, February 13, 2010

High School Basketball: Boys Play at a High Level

A fast break basket by Ruskin--so fast, the Ruskin player who laid it in is out of the picture to the left.
I went to my first high school boys basketball game yesterday, and came away very impressed by the quality of play I saw. Belton High School's team has some height, a couple of good jump shooters and some quickness. They would have done very well where I went to high school in a non-urban New England area. They were, however, undone by Ruskin High School's world of quicks and athleticism, struggled with turnovers--Ruskin was quick into passing lanes, and had quick hands. Belton attempted zone defense, and the zone was simply not executed well enough, leaving Ruskin shooters open for jumpers in rhythm. Ruskin thumped Belton without difficulty.

While the quality of play is not as good, one should not overlook the JV game that starts an hour and a half before the varsity. This one went into overtime, with Ruskin winning by two. This is how young players start to find out what it takes to be a prime team and prime time player. I suspect lessons were learned by the youngsters that will serve them for years to come.

There is only a week left in the season, but if you can catch your high school in a game before the end of the regular season, do it!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Super Bowl Notes: First Quarter

One of these days, I am going to activate the function that lets you blog from your mobile device. I had to settle for the old fashioned pen and paper to take notes on the Super Bowl last night, and now have to translate, I mean transcribe, my chicken scratch. There will be edits for clarity and I will use the play by play chart to add time and play cues. There is an advantage: I can post in the right order--I'll actually do the forth quarter first, and end with the first quarter, with this being the last post, so when you read it, it will read correctly from the first quarter through to the forth quarter.

Start of game: I am tardy leaving church and so hear coin flip on the radio. New Orleans wins and elects to receive. I think this is the right call, start out on offense and set the tone.

13:31: Still in the car! It's snowing!
Saints punting from the NO 31, after only 3 plays. Not a good way to start.

Now I am inside, in front of a nice High Def TV. A good number of folks here with me. The field, a natural grass turf, looks emerald green...

13:22 Colts ball, at the IN 27.

7:34: Colts kick FG, Matt Stover 38 yards. False start penalty during drive hindered Colts quest for TD. Score NO 0 IND 3

7:22: Cannot go three and out again, NO ball at NO 26

5:35: Terrible drop by Marcus Colston. Ball went through his hands and hit him in the head!

5:22 Punt from the 50. At least changed field position.

5:12. Nice punt. Downed by Saints at the IN 4. But Colts good at 90+ yard drives.

:42: Colts TD, Garcon out runs coverage. Uh-oh, even 96 yards not long enough field! Score NO 0 IND 10

:30: NO ball on NO 11 after Saints holding penalty on kick off. Pressure on Saints offense now.

00:00 End of first quarter.

Note: Even though field looks in great shape, and weather is fine, players are slipping. Need the grass cleats guys, not the Field Turf cleats.

So far, Dwight Freeney looks plenty quick and tough, beats blocking if not doubled or chipped.

Chili's has brought back the Carribean Salad; it's not quite the same recipe but it's not bad!

Super Bowl Notes--Second Quarter

15:00: Saints ball on NO 15. Need to move ball and score.

10:09: Brees sacked--one handed by Freeney. The DE looks good right now.

9:40: FG good from 46. Sack led to getting only 3 point opportunity but good to get on the board.
Score NO 3 IND 10

9:34: Colts ball on the IN 22.

8:30: A bad drop by Pierre Garcon--like Colston, through his hands and hit him in the head!
results in a three and out--ball to Saints.

8:14: Saints start at NO 28

4:28: Bad blown coverage on pass to Colston. Colts Defensive Coordinator, up in booth, threw pen. Wonderful camera shot, CBS! Saints on IND 3.

2:00: Two minute warning. Saints have had the ball over 6 minutes. Several camera shots of Payton Manning on bench, scowling under his baseball cap. No one near him.

1:55: Forth and one--going for it!
Pierre Thomas stuffed no gain
Like the gamble, but not the play call. Would have passed the ball.

1:49: Colts with ball on IND 1. Pinned back but bad field position doesn't bother Colts much.

:51: Colts third and one--they run and are stopped! Saints will get the ball back. Very conservative series for Colts.

:35 Saints ball on the NO 48. Great three and out for D, now time to score!

:05: Great late half score! Hartley kicking well too--advantage Saints.

00:00 End of first half. Score NO 6 IND 10
kick off to IND to start second half.

Only 6 offensive plays for Indy in second quarter. Lots of camera shots of Manning scowling on sideline--good, he can't score from there. We need more points for us though.

Super Bowl Notes--Third Quarter

Question for beginning of third quarter: Long half time--does Dwight Freeney's ankle tighten up rendering him less effective?

15:00: Saints kick off to Colts. Score NO 6 IN 10
Onside kick! Onside kick! Hit a #80s guy for Indy...
What is going on inside that pile? [Note: probably a lot more balls then the football were getting squeezed ;-0]
OMG! OMG! We have the ball!

1459: Saints have the ball at the NO 42.

13:10: Colston has been money since that bad drop--9 yard catch for him here.

11:50: Took advantage--right down the field! Sweet screen for the TD.
Score after the kick, NO 13 IN 10

11:33: Colts with ball on IN 24. Can they be stopped?

6:24: Not this time! Addai in--nice cut for the score. God, they are scary when they are in rhythm. Score with kick: NO 13 IN 17

6:08: Saints ball. Got to keep up.

2:06: FG good. 3rd FG for Hartley. Wish we got a TD, cannot have enough points against the Colts. Score: NO 16 IN 17

1:55: Colts staring at IN 11--bad field position just doesn't phase them.

00:00: End of third quarter. Colts on IN 29.
Moment to breathe.

Super Bowl Notes--The Forth Quarter

Start of forth quarter:
Answer to question about Dwight Freeney: No not as effective. Ankle probably stiffened up during half time, and unexpected turn at defense at the beginning didn't help. He has been struggling with his ankle taping since the break too.

15:00 Colts have ball. Can Saints stop them?

10:44 Colts on NO 33, forth down. A field goal. Stover cannot kick it that far. It's 51 yards!
NO GOOD! Score still NO 16, IN 17
10:39: NO ball on NO 41 (where ball spotted for kick attempt) Short field.
5:46: TD pass to Shockey. Good for him! I have always liked him--was delighted when Giants got him. He missed out two years ago due to injury. I'd be glad to have Shockey 88 NO jersey.

5:46: They are going for two.
Called incomplete! Replay--challenge that! Challenge that! He had possession! You only need possession for a second and break the plane for a score.
They challenged it, and the call is reversed! Two points for Saints. Kudos to CBS for excellent replays and camera work. Score NO 24-IN 17

5:35: Game has moved fast. Plenty of time left for Manning--he scares me. I keep thinking about the Patriots game. Colts on the IN 30.

3:29: Injury timeout for NO lineman. Colts already at NO 31.

3:24: Pick 6! Pick 6! I want to run around in the street! About the play: watched the blitzing NO doing (Sims blabbing about it)--NO sent 5 guys--then followed the ball out of Manning's hand. Saw Tracy Porter break on the pass, and thought "INT possible" Outstanding downfield block by lineman--#91? Will have to watch replay tomorrow on line. Score with extra point NO 31 IN 17

3:05: Colts ball at the IN 14. Even down two scores, Manning still scares me. Still keep thinking about Patriot game. Saints D: Make them take up lots of time to score, using their precious time outs!

1:42: Argh, horrible roughing penalty against Saints! Ball on NO 3 after penalty.

1: 33: Garcon had to mug Saint's DB to prevent INT, Indy back to NO 13.

1:10: Addai left for loss--Saints defended run much better in second half, esp 4th quarter.
Sideline shots of Drew Brees with backups Brunnel and Mizzou product Chase Daniel.
I could see Chase Daniel as Drew Brees someday...

:50: Ball through Wayne's hands--had to wait for replay on that--falls incomplete. Ball to Saints--just need a kneel down to win. The French Quarter must be NUTS now.

00:00: Saints win the Super Bowl!!!!!!!!!!

Post Game notes:

Cute camera shots of Scott Fujita and Drew Brees toting their kids. Brees' kiddo wearing ear muffs for noise!

Len Dawson looks great toting the Lombardi trophy. (Reader education moment: In 1970, the Kansas City Chiefs won the Super Bowl. It was played in New Orleans--nice bit of going around there.)

Saints players touching trophy as he goes through--careful guys, don't break Lenny--he's a Kansas City treasure!

Nice presentation, well done by Jim Nance.

French Quarter IS nuts!!!

Good game, now out into the snow...

Thursday, February 4, 2010

The Big Wildcard In the Super Bowl Is..

Colts' defensive end Dwight Freeney. If Freeney can speed rush in the usual way, Drew Brees might not have time to survey the field and rip up the Colts' secondary. Freeney is underrated at defending the run; if Freeney is not at full strength, he will not be catching Saints' runners from the back side. New Orleans' offense will be able to use all its tools if Freeney is unable to play or is not effective, giving them a better chance to win.

Super Bowl: Indianapolis Wins If...

they commit no turnovers and make no mistakes on offense. Indy wins a shoot out with the Saints.

Super Bowl: New Orleans Wins If...

they can sack Payton Manning and sucker him into a bad throw or two. However, one half of defense won't do it. (Just ask the New York Jets!) They must play this sort of defense all game long to beat the Colts.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Just This Close...

How close was Saturday's KU-K State game? Behold this graph of the scores of the two teams, done by ESPN. (Pardon the screen shot, but the mysteries of Flash still baffle me.)

As you can see, KU had a spurt to open the second half, but K State did not fold in the face of that spurt, but had one of their own. After that, the lines mingle like dance partners until the end.

Is Kansas State as close as the graph is close to Kansas in ability? I don't think so, but we will find out more when the Cats visit Allen Field House in March. My gut tells me that for Kansas State to be able to beat the best teams, they almost have to play a perfect game. They were very close to that on Saturday. Kansas has more room for error when playing most teams; they can have periods of less than brilliant play. However, to win it all in March, KU will have to be at their best all game.