Friday, July 28, 2006

Blogger's been acting funny this summer

And not ha-ha funny. Couldn't access any sites yesterday, and last time I tried to post on this site it was taking an hour before I gave up.

Astute observers might've have noticed my blog widget on the bottom of this page with books from my library. I'll add some sports books onto my catalog, which I'm keeping pretty topic-specific for the time being due a presentation I'm doing at my institution. But it is a pretty cool social networking site for people who like books.

Back to Sports! Specifically, IU basketball.

There's been a lot brouhaha over the (un)ethics of recruiting of Eric Gordon, and I frankly just don't care. I think Sampson knows he's not going to get the kid, but wants to show the state he's willing to push the envelope to get Indiana kids. What concerns me more than this is the Phil Jones saga. Phil Jones is a 2006 top 100 recruit who stands 6'-10", 260, and is not known for his outside game. He verbally committed and then de-committed to Indiana, evidently having not gotten enough romancing by all the coaches. It'd be nice to have another big body off the bench, but I'm not sold on this kid right now. I think IU should rescind the offer at this point, as the very last thing we need is another George, Bracey, or Marco who'll think it's all about them and pout when they don't get every play called for them.

I am excited about next year's squad. While they won't challenge Ohio State or Wisconsin for the title, and probably won't be all that impressive in road conference games, Kelvin Sampson did exactly what the program needed in getting DJ White & AJ Ratliff to return, getting freshmen 6-2 Armon Bassett & 6-6 Xavier Keeling to honor their committments, and then getting top Juco forwards 6-6 Mike "King Kong" White and 6-8 Lance Stemler to shore up the frontcourt.

There's now talent in Assembly Hall, and while maybe not as much overall as last year, it shouldn't be too far of a drop. And while I think Mike Davis isn't a terrible coach, he's not a coach on the level of Kelvin Sampson. For that matter, Sampson isn't on the level of a Pitino or Roy Williams, but he is a good coach.

I don't think it's unreasonable for IU to contend with Illinois for top three in the Big Ten, and to be a lock for the NCAA (barring injuries).

Starting line-up

Forward: Lance Stemler
Mike White is the higher-ranked, but I could see Stemler starting to open up the offense with his shooting. If he or DJ get in foul trouble, or Stemler's throwing bricks, look for MW to on the floor in a hurry. In fact, I would look for Mike to get more minutes than Stemler.

Forward: Rod Wilmont
Rod's been working hard since he arrived with Bracey & Marshall five years ago. It finally started to pay off last season when he showed some defensive skills, rebounding, and streak 3-pt. shooting. A little more consistency and better decision-making will see him getting major minutes all season long.

Center: DJ White
What, you were expecting Ben Allen? As long as DJ's foot problems are over, he should be one of the premier Big 10 big men. In fact, only frosh phenom Greg Oden could be expected to perform any better.

Guard: AJ Ratliff
AJ destroyed Kentucky in the second half of last year's game, but pretty much never reappeared. Part of the problem is that when his outside shot wasn't falling, he wouldn't take it to the rack, and on defense he just made a lot of silly fouls. Let's hope Sampson can bring out the best in AJ, because there's a LOT of potential there. Jay Edwards-type potential. But if AJ continues downhill, IU might have to turn to freshmen Armon Bassett or Joey Shaw to start.

Point Guard: Earl Calloway
EC was clearly the point guard of the future for Indiana last season, and even in the loss to Gonzaga, he put up 13 points, 10 assists, and 9 rebounds. As long as Sampson can keep Calloway dangerous but still in control, there's few guards in the country that will be able to stay with him. One of the big problems with Earl was the surprising blow-by ability of players that he was guarding. No one should've gotten past him with his speed, and hopefully Coach Sampson can take care of that deficiency.

The Bench:
As discussed, Mike White (or Lance Stemler) should be a 6th starter, and Sampson will look to 6-10 Ben Allen to play some serious minutes inside as well. Frosh Bassett and especially Joey Shaw (a 2005 top 100 recruit) should get some decent playing time, and former-walk-on Erreck Suhr will still play spot minutes at least. The question is whether Sampson feels that the athletic recruit Xavier Keeling will be needed this year or not, as Keeling could probably use a year to hone his shooting and BBall IQ.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

2006 Extremely Early Predictions

Hey, espn is uploading their "summer session," I might as well post my waaaay-too-early picks now, eh? NCAA teams at-large are listed first in the top 50, and Auto-bids are the bottom 15 conferences that can expect one-and-done, and of course there's the NIT picks just for laffs.

Top 50

1. Florida [SEC]
2. Kansas [Big 12]
3. North Carolina [ACC]
4. Louisiana State [SEC]
5. Wisconsin [Big Ten]
6. Georgetown [Big East]
7. Ohio State [Big Ten]
8. Boston College [ACC]
9. Arizona [Pacific 10]
10. Xavier [Atlantic 10]
11. Southern Illinois [MVC]
12. Texas A&M [Big 12]
13. Air Force [MWC]
14. Virginia Tech [ACC]
15. Syracuse [Big East]
16. Louisville [Big East]
17. Missouri State [MVC]
18. Gonzaga [West Coast]
19. Illinois [Big Ten]
20. Pittsburgh [Big East]
21. Duke [Atlantic Coast]
22. UCLA [Pac-10]
23. Oklahoma State [Big 12]
24. Nevada [Western Athletic]
25. Alabama [SEC]
26. Indiana [Big Ten]
27. Villanova [Big East]
28. George Mason [Colonial]
29. Memphis [Conference USA]
30. Saint Louis: [A-10] 31. Arkansas [SEC]
32. New Mexico State [WAC]
33. Marquette: [Big East]
34. Virginia: [ACC]
35. Wichita State: [MVC]
36. Texas Tech [Big 12]
37. New Mexico [MWC]
38. Bucknell [Patriot]
39. San Diego State: [MWC]
40. Northern Illinois [MAC]
41. Hofstra: [CAA]
42. Washington [Pac-10]
43. DePaul: [Big East]
44. South Alabama: [Sun Belt]
45. Holy Cross: [Patriot]
46. Fresno State: [WAC]
47. Penn State: [Big Ten]
48. Tennessee: [SEC]
49. Ohio [Mid American]
50. Western Kentucky: [Sun Belt]

NIT Teams :
Akron: [MAC] California [Pac-10]: Cal State Fullerton [Big West] Central Florida: [C-USA] Clemson: [ACC] Colorado [Big 12]: Connecticut [Big East]: Creighton [MVC] Drexel [CAA] Florida State: [ACC] George Washington [Atlantic-10]: Georgia [SEC]: Georgia Tech: [ACC] Houston: (C-USA) Iona: [MAAC]: Iowa [Big Ten] Kansas State [Big 12] Kentucky [SEC] Maryland [ACC]: Massachusetts [A-10] Miami (OH) [MAC] Michigan [Big Ten] Murray State [OVC] Nebraska [Big 12] North Carolina-Wilmington [CAA] Northern Iowa [Missouri Valley]: Notre Dame [Big East] Oklahoma [Big 12]: Old Dominion [CAA]: Oregon [Pac-10] Providence: [Big East] Purdue: [Big Ten] Rhode Island: [Atlantic Ten] Saint John's: [Big East] Santa Clara [WCC]: South Carolina [SEC]: Texas [Big 12] Troy State [Sun Belt] Utah St. [WAC]

America East: Vermont
Atlantic Sun: Belmont
Big Sky: Northern Arizona
Big South: Winthrop
Big West: Long Beach State
Horizon: Wisconsin-Green Bay
Ivy: Penn
MAAC: Marist
MEAC: Delaware State
Mid-Continental: Oral Roberts
NEC: Robert Morris
OVC: Samford
Southern: College of Charleston
Southland: Sam Houston State
SWAC: Jackson St.

Monday, July 03, 2006

World Cup, NBA Draft

Well, the US went out with a fizzle in the first round. Other than that, most of my predictions have gone pretty well, but let's see if Germany still takes home the Cup.

The USA doesn't have too much to worry about, but the question of whether Bruce Arena is the guy to coach the US squad is legit. Props to him for what he's done over the last 8 years, but he failed in two key areas:

1) getting the US ready to play, as they came out flat against the Czechs. The US had a bit of bad luck facing the Czechs at full strength, which no one else had to do, but the Czechs jumped on us, and hard.

2) Squad selection. If the US didn't come away with visible progress, Arena had to be able to say that the squad was developing its youth and looking good for the future. He did not take a lot of young guys, erring for those over the hill, like McBride, Reyna, and Keller, and secondly, did not play the guys who might partake in the next World Cup.

Arena's taking some time, and might retire, but the USSF needs to watch the next year of American Soccer to see which way it Arena's going. If he's not reaching the guys any more, and/or if he's not developing the youth, a coaching change should be explored.

Anyway, I think the talent is here to get into the Final Four in June 2010 (age in 2010):

Goal Keeper:

Tim Howard (31)


Oguchi Onyewu (28) Stopper
Jonathan Spector (26) Defender-right
Todd Dunivant (29) Defender-left
Carlos Bocanegra (31) Sweeper


Damarcus Beasley (28) Wing Midfield-right
Bobby Convey (27) Wing Midfield-left
Clint Dempsey (27) Offensive Midfield
Landon Donovan (28) Central Midfield


Eddie Johnson (26)
Pat Noonan (29)

Nick Rimando (31) Back-up Goalie
Cory Gibbs (30) Defender-Bench
Freddy Adu (21) Midfield-Bench
Conor Casey (28) Forward

NBA draft
I caught a little of, and looked over the ins and outs, but the main thing for me is just how the Pacers & Bulls did. And the answer is pretty good.

The Pacers have caught some flack for taking Shawne Williams of Memphis, but Williams was a match-up nightmare at the college level, and I think the Pacers knew they'd be losing Peja this summer. So even though the Pacers seemed well-stocked at Small Forward, I think that Danny Granger & Williams are going to see quite a bit of time next season. Most thought that Larry Bird would be looking for a point guard, but the Pacers went the conventional wisdom of getting the best player available, and besides, you can often get a serviceable point from free-agency, an invite (the Draft's "third round") or the D-league.

The Bulls did really well, suckering the Blazers to part with Vladimir Khryapa and still getting Tyrus Thomas, the guy they wanted all along. I think Thomas is going to be the Rookie of the Year, and his rebounding and shot-blocking are going to be huge for Chicago (unless the Bulls grab Ben Wallace, which I doubt). Also the Bulls got a decent pick-up in Rodney Carney, who should be ready to contribute right away. I doubt he's ever a star, but he should have a good career.