Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Various updates & notes:

World Cup:

The US has to beat both Ghana and Italy now to get into the second round. That's not a good position to be in, especially after the Czechs got more injured in the first game.

Also in trouble is Sweden, who has to pick up a win versus Paraguay or England now to ensure a place in the second round.

Looking impressive: Czechs, Mexico, Argentina
Less impressive: USA, Japan, Poland


Dallas' double-teaming of Shaq is working to perfection. The Big Aristotle is just not a factor. I suspect that part of the problem is that Riley is being forced to Antoine Walker a lot because of his shooting, but Walker just makes terrible decisions. I've never been a fan of "employee #8" and this series is throwing more evidence on the pile.
Now, I do think we'll see a different Miami team in the next couple of games, but Dallas is looking like the smarter team, and I did not expect that.

NBA Draft early entries:

1. Aaron Afflalo & Jordan Farmar of UCLA
Farmar's looking like a top-15 prospect, so he's probably gone. But if Afflalo returns, he and Josh Shipp should give Ben Braun enough perimeter firepower to stick around the top 25.
2. Kyle Lowry of Villanova
Real toss-up here.
3. Daniel Gipson & P.J. Tucker of Texas
Tucker is gone. Gipson should return, but if he doesn't, the NIT might await for Texas.
4. J.R. Pinnock & Carl Elliott of George Washington
Pinnock is gone. But as long as Elliot returns, there is a shot at a NCAA bid for GW.
5. Aaron Gray of Pittsburgh
Gray could still come back. Draft status uncertain, but he's probably better off going this year than next. I actually think he should go.
6. Ronnie Brewer of Arkansas
Brewer projected as possible top ten pick. Gone.
7. Nick Fazekas of Nevada
The Wolfpack is a contender for a top 25 ranking as Fazekas returns for his senior year.
8. Josh Boone of UConn
9. Mustafa Shakur of Arizona
Still can come back. Should come back.
10. Leon Powe of California

Friday, June 09, 2006

What did I say?

ESPN Worldcup front page:
Ecuador Shocks Poland.


On the other hand, Dallas looked like the better team last night in the NBA, but will it last?

Also, 6-10 Phil Jones (#106 overall) committed to IU and then backed off. Here's hoping he still makes it, IU could use another big man since Cem Dinc evidently lsot his mind and went pro.

Thursday, June 08, 2006


NBA Finals
Heat vs. Mavericks:
Well, the Mav's are deeper and probably have the best overall player in Dirk Nowitzski, and Jason Terry's growth into a go-to clutch performer has been crucial.
And they showed that you can't rely on getting defensive stops late in the game to beat them, as the Spurs' formula (and I might add, the championship-era Bulls' formula as well) finallly let them down.
But the Heat have a superstar in D-Wade, they have the best 1-2 center combo in the league with Shaq & Mourning, and they've solid support all around, and they aren't impressed by the Mav's homecourt advantage after demolishing the Pistons.
This is a tough one to call. I always like defense over offense, and to me it's not depth that wins you championships, it's having the best five guys on the floor. Although I question the ability of Jason Williams, Gary Payton, and Antoine Walker to be integral parts of a championship, I think Riley will have Haslem and Walker bodying, blocking out, & bothering Dirk enough that although he'll hit a bunch of his elbow jumpers, it won't enough for the trophy.
Heat in Six.

World Cup First Round
Group A: Germany, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Poland
Germany seems a lock, but after them I think Ecuador shocks Poland in the first game and moves to the second round.

Group B: England, Paraguay, Sweden, Tridinad & Tobago
Paraguay's good, but they got a raw deal. England & Sweden are locks for moving on.

Group C: Argentina, Netherlands, Serbia & Montenegro, Ivory Coast
This may be the toughest group. Everyone one of these teams has a chance. But I think Netherlands wins the group, and the Ivory Coast upsets Argentina to move on.

Group D: Angola, Iran, Mexico, Portugal
If Portugal can't get to the second round in this group, then I wouldn't know why they even show up. Still, my pick is Mexico, and Portugal second.

Group E: Czech Republic, Ghana, Italy, United States
The US got a rough draw, but I think they'll be able to tie Italy, and if they can beat the Czech Republic, they're in. That's not going to be easy, as the Czechs are the best team in the group, but they are struggling with injuries. But I think the USA's pressing and counterattacks will give the short-handed Czechs and stagnant Italians enough trouble to get the Americans in the next round. I suspect the Czechs still advance over the Italians on goal differential.

Group F: Australia, Brazil, Croatia, and Japan
Brazil wins this one in a walk, and although I'm rooting for the Aussies, and Japan still has a decent squad, it's more likely that Croatia uses its almost-home advantage to get into the round of 16.

Group G: France, South Korea, Switzerland, and Togo
France is the obvious pick, but after that... I'll go with Switzerland for the almost-at-home advantage.

Group H: Spain, Tunisia, Ukraine, Saudi Arabia
If Spain can't get to the second round in this group, perhaps FIFA shoudl consider barring them from any future World Cups so that some country that wants to compete will actually get a shot. Spain should should win this in a walk, with Ukraine squeaking out second place.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

IU Soccer grabs another killer recruiting class

With the late addition of Daniel Kelly, Indiana Men's Soccer looks to have reloaded for another run at the NCAA Final Four. There's been a lot of turnover in the last few years, but Mike Frietag has done a great job of hauling in top talent and keeping the tradition of excellence alive in Bloomington.
I think frosh Ofori Sarkodie will definitely start next year, and both Daniel Kelly and Kevin Alston could be season-long starters, especially if Josh Tudela shifts to center (& thereby putting Brad Ring on the bench) and if Frietag wants Kevin Noschang to be a lift off the bench. Freshman Eric Alexander, Gatorade Player of the Year, will also see a lot of time.
There's a lot of talent here, but this team will probably have a rough stretch where the offensive flow gets ironed out.

Predicted line-up for next fall:
Forwards- Kevin Noschang (so.) & Darren Yeagle (RS-fr.)
offensive midfielder- Kevin Robson (sr.),
central midfielder- Brad Ring (so.)
wing midfielders- Josh Tudela (sr.) & John Michael Hayden (sr.),
defensive midfielder- Ofori Sarkodie (fr.)
Backs- Julian Dieterle (sr.) & Greg Stevning (jr.),
Sweeper- Charley Traylor (jr.)
Keeper- Chris Munroe (jr.)

Sub forwards: Kevin Alston (fr.), Daniel Kelly (fr.),
Sub Mids: Ericl Alexander (fr.), John Mellencamp (so.), Lee Hagedorn (RS-fr.), Billy Weaver (jr.)
Sub Back- Brian Ackley (so.)