Players on this Wildcats’ team know a winning season and the NCAA Tournament title will certainly insure great deal of plaudits and the near- certainty of a high draft position in the upcoming NBA Draft this upcoming June . With three consensus first round draft picks among this roster of stars. The names of Karl Anthony Towns , Willie Cauley-Stein and Dakari Johnson simply stand out, as players likely to be taken in the top-ten picks of the first round of the 2015 NBA Draft. If not, then there is something seriously wrong among the general managers and head coaches within the NBA at this juncture.
The four seeds in the regional tournament of the NCAA Championship are Kentucky, Villanova , Duke and Wisconsin . All four teams are in regional draws which will have their pot-holes along the way . where at least one or two upsets are likely to take place as the tournament progress. Opening salvos will be fired in the when the first four teams take to the court on the 17th and 18th March , 2015, as the NCAA Tournaments gets underway to decide the Men’s national champion.
Mike Krzyzewsk and the Duke Blue Devils will certainly have their work cut out for them in this tournament, as their path is unlikely to be easy. As the top seed in the South Regional phase of the Tournament where their biggest challengers could very well be other than their own complacency a , will be the other seeded challengers in the regional phase , with those topping the list said to be , Gonzaga , Georgetown (Hoyas) and Iowa State. As talented as the this Duke team might be considered to be , I do not believe this will be the year in which Mike Krzyzewski guide the program to their fifth national title , all coming under the coaching acumen of the renowned head coach.
Bulls’ forward Jimmy Butler is seen here with Tom Thibodeau . In the absence of either Joakim Noah and Derrick Rose . It has been left to Butler to provide the bulk of team’s offense over the course of the season. Thibodeau’s relationship with the organization has been tenuous at best often becoming heated between the coach and executives, John Paxson and Gar Forman . Courtesy of USA Today/ ..
Not only has the rancor between the head coach and the front office said to have reached an unacceptable level , but it is believed with Thibodeau unwilling to resign, there is no likelihood Paxson or Forman will make the decision to fire their beleaguered coach and their having to honor the remainder of his contract. With Derrick Rose sidelined, it has been left to his teammate Jimmy Butler to step up to the plate in the absence of his more heralded teammate to lead the team by example.
Oklahoma City Thunder head coach Scott Brooks must be now salivating at the thought of Durant’s imminent return and the chance of his teaming up once again with Westbrook, to provide one of the most dominant and productive duos in the NBA. With only fifteen games left to be played in the remainder of the regular season, it will be interesting interesting to see how the teams acquit themselves as the season winds winds down .
Alonzo Mourning now a senior executive within the Miami Heat organization has been extremely critical of former Heat player LeBron James after his decision to leave the franchise and return to the Cleveland Cavaliers . Mourning , failed to suggest why the Heat failed to surround James with players complementary to his skills capable of actually of being competitive enough to have won last season’s NBA title . Getty Images/ Paul Miller
At present, Atlanta and the Golden State Warriors are the only teams with fifty victories or more to their respective resumes`. A possible Finals’ meeting between the two seems a reality, but I believe it to be unlikely given the competitiveness of the Western Conference. Steph Curry and his Warriors’ teammates are having a terrific season , albeit, many would not have considered this to have been one of the teams to beat at the start of the year, with the transition of easing in a new head coach, and Steve Kerr assuming the reins after his predecessor, Mark Jackson’s idiotic decision to alienate himself by foistering his hypocritical beliefs outside the game , upon his players and then to some extent , denigrating the organization . Joint team-owners Joe Lacob and Peter Guber had no other choice but to dismiss Jackson, ” freedom of speech” rights or not . There is no longer any space for outright bigotry within the realms of sports , let alone the fact , the former head coach showed a great deal of disrespect for the franchise, with his inflammatory remarks .
Former Golden State Warriors’ head coach Mark Jackson , foreground and his successor , Steve Kerr. This season the Warriors have not only the best record in the NBA , but the team also happens to be the league’s , most potent offense , leading the NBA in a number of offensive categories . Getty Images
If Mark Jackson wishes to make a point , then let him do so while not representing Warriors and most definitely, if he choosing to express his personal beliefs, it should not be done in such a venal way, with his wantoned disregard of others , his own ethnicity and historically what African Americans have gone through in this country, without then seeking denigrate others, because of their own sexuality. Obviously, Jackson’s own religious beliefs and his comprehension of Biblical teachings, indicates his lack of intelligence and compassion. This has nothing at all to do with “political correctness” having run amok, but more to do with simple bigotry . You don’t cry ” fire ” in a crowded theater , or show downright bigotry of others , without their being severe consequences , and those wishing to excuse such behavior are simply naive or just imbeciles.
If Fisher is of the opinion his players ought to rewarded for those victories , then he sure as hell does not hold these very same players accountable, for the losses amassed over the course of the season. Fisher has shown as a rookie head coach, he still has a great deal to learn , and learning on the job when you have an inadequate group of players , and a front office which remains clueless, it becomes patently obvious to see why this franchise has been a complete mess and the ongoing butt of so many jokes around the NBA. Those subscribing to the fact Phil Jackson remains a basketball genius should really rethink that whole synopsis and realize it has been his ego and complete lack of knowledge in assessing talent which has also led to this debacle. Next up for the Knicks will be a road trip to visit the equally abysmal Minnesota Timberwolves on Thursday evening.
With both the Knicks and Timberwolves likely to be part of the Lottery Pick for the right to the top pick in the upcoming NBA Draft , it will be interesting to see which of the two teams in question or one of their other fellow banal franchises will be joining them as part of this ongoing facade created by the league to seek in the Draft process.
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The NCAA Tournament will likely create a great many thrills and spills, with one or two surprises along the way, in terms of the results. This tournament will ultimately provide us with another D1 collegiate champion in Men’s Basketball. Given the excitement created in last year’s tournament, with the 2015 NCAA championship now underway, let all of the excitement now begin. I may well be wrong , but I do not believe there is now an outright favorite for this year’s NBA title , and granted, there have been two or three teams over the course of this season who have proven themselves worthy favorites or perceived contenders. Yet, a caveat remains , buyer beware, beyond stating the obvious , the only conclusion and sure thing , has been the winner from each conference championship will have an equal chance of being named the NBA champion for the 2014-15 season.
Which programs do you believe will rise to the occasion and become this year’s NCAA Men’s Basketball Champion ? With NBA regular season now winding down , which teams do you believe have been the biggest disappointment to the league and to the fans ? Also which franchises from the Eastern and Western conferences, will be the Finals’ contestants for this season?
While of late, singular achievements have been given a great deal of praise, with Kobe Bryant having surpassed Michael Jordan on the all-time career points list (third) and LeBron James moving ahead of Charles Barkley for twenty third in the rankings. While I believe this all to be commendable achievements, it begs the question, why are fans now beginning to make comparisons with today’s players and those of the past ? The game has changed drastically during the respective eras, along with a number of rule changes initiated by outgoing NBA Commissioner David Stern. This is all overlooked as fans and analysts alike try create a debate that will be filled with conjecture and a great deal of nonsense behind the supposed logic by a number of the debaters on the matter.
In the collegiate ranks of basketball, the NCAA Tournament . Kevin Ollie and the U Conn Huskies won another title which heightened the prestige of the program and the fourth title in the school’s history. The Huskies’ victim in that tournament victory, the John Calipari coached Kentucky Wildcats are once again atop of the college rankings with an unbeaten season and the deemed the best team in the country. They are likely to be a team to be reckoned with as Calipari seeks a second title win to add to his burgeoning resume’. Kentucky has cut a swath through their opponents , but I feel we are reading far too much into the accomplishments at this stage of the season ! The run up to this season’s NCAA Tournament and the event itself will place an d even greater emphasis on how good the Kentucky Wildcats are likely to be. Hard to suggest where a likely challenge is likely to come from in stopping the Wildcats’ dominance.
The four programs who are the recipients of this inaugural system are Alabama , Oregon , Ohio State (Buckeyes) and Florida State making up the quartet. While there will be continued debate as to the veracity of this format , many feel a four-team playoff is by no means the best way to decide a national champion . Yet for all of the criticism leveled and the fact an empaneled body were arbiters on this whole scheme, not everyone can state this was of satisfaction to the doubters as well as some protagonists of the new format. Money remains the driving force behind this all, without anyone trying to suggest this system has been the best possible solution after years of idiocy with the BCS format and a system so void of legality , that it was simply ridiculous for anyone to try and justify its legitimacy. Come full circle, in reality the progress made is simply miniscule , even if the new format is tinkered with at various points in the future, as is likely the case.
This year’s Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota can go out on a high if he is able to lead Oregon past Florida State in their highly anticipated game on the 1st January, 2015. Mariota is highly regarded within the college ranks and seen as one of the most dynamic players in the game as well as perhaps the best quarterback in college football. A victory in that that game, to be followed with a championship victory , will lead to certain financial gain, a high draft pick the upcoming NFL Draft of 2015.
For the greater part of my youth and into my teenage years, I was an avid and voracious boxing fan and aficionado . My two biggest idols from the sport are still remain Muhammad Ali , ‘Marvelous’ Marvin Hagler with former light heavyweight champion Bernard Hopkins not far behind . All three fighters were great champions during their prime with each rewriting the history books with records likely to be surpassed. I now champion the world of MMA and as an actual martial arts’ practitioner (karate & tae-kwon-do) this sport I believe has far exceeded what has boxing has failed to do in the last decade and that is to draw fans in, rather than systematically pushing them away . The death of another peer of Ali’s , at the age of seventy-five Ernie Terrell died but his career was memorable for the bout in which a charismatic , flamboyant Ali taunted Terrell in a lopsided contest where Muhammad Ali showed his dominance and gave light to what he would go on to achieve in the future . .
Muhammad Ali faces Ernie Terrell for the WBA Heavyweight title at the Houston Astrodome on the 6th February , 1967.
In light of the recent news, that Ali has been admitted into hospital with what is alleged to be a slight bout of pneumonia and with the former champion’s health having deteriorated over the past two-and a half decades. It may well seem sordid, in surmising he could now be at death’s door , wherein, if Parkinson’s disease doesn’t take him from within our midst, this latest health setback, likely will. Ali remains to this day not only the biggest icon in the sport of boxing, but his name and face are the most universally recognized in the world of sports. Outside of Michael Jordan in the NBA and Pele’ in the world of soccer, I sincerely doubt that there has been a more revered icon in the world of professional sports on a global scale.
Boxing has now become a sport, lacking in a charisma , where the top fighters in the various weight categories, simply avoid each other while formulating their prowess and claims of being the ‘true champions’ of their weight divisions . Personally, for all of the hype surrounding a potentially lucrative fight between Floyd Mayweather Jr and Manny Pacquiao, I will continue to maintain, it is a fight a number fans have become completely disinterested in ! Is there anyone willing at this juncture, to pay in excess of $55.00 for the “privilege” of seeing these two fighters, who have spent the past three years padding their stats with meaningless bouts , while earning exorbitant fight purses ? This has become the ” new norm” within the sport, along with the petulance of the fighters, promoters , connivance and continued corrupt practices of the various international governing bodies which preside over the boxing. Yet we wonder why the sport no longer truly resonates with fans and how it now lacks a broad-based appeal ?
Meanwhile, a viewed as a pugilistic upstart, continues to dominate the landscape and has become a multi billion-dollar industry under the main promotional flagship of UFC . MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) has now become the fastest growing sport in the world , with an increased audience participation , rising viewership and gate attendances for many of their biggest events staged around the globe. Idiots such as promoter Bob Arum and ‘Sugar’ Ray Leonard continue to question the legitimacy of the sport , but have failed to recognize , while boxing has become pallid and stagnant, the growth of Mixed Martial Arts has been explosive. . In little over a decade, this combative style of fighting has caught the imagination of fans around the world and now has a growing legion of female fans, while holding on to its main demographic of males aged between eighteen to thirty-five . If you think fans of the the sport , is strictly confined to adults alone , then you would be wrong, as martial arts’ dojos are now beginning to incorporate MMA within their criteria , while still teaching their main forms of combat , such as karate, judo , taekwondo , Ju-jitsu , Krav-magav and other lethal forms of fighting.
Dana White rules the roost of the UFC, but he has now become more a totalitarian dictator, rather than a lead executive and arbiter of the sport. His apparent idiocy, in chastising many of the biggest names in the sport, who helped place it on the global map, shows not only White’s bombastic attitude, but also his naivete’ and complete stupidity. Can you imagine David Stern questioning the abilities of Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson , Kobe Bryant or even LeBron James at the height of their careers ? Well, White has managed to do that with the MMA fighters, while becoming the antithesis of what is expected of a governing sports’ executive.
It may well be a great deal of schtick and panache’ on the part of Dana White, but before too long his idiocy will being to grate on the nerves of not only the fans but also the fighters themselves. The two biggest names in the sport at present are Cain Velazquez and Jon Jones , but with neither fighter having recently defended their respective titles, a small void has been created , yet to be filled by any other fighter, with the character or genuine appeal to strike a note with the masses. Ganted, the likes of Jose Aldo , Anthony Pettis and of late the sport’s only genuine female ‘star’ Ronda Rousey have a growing fan-base , but that might not be enough, unless there is a major title bout involving Jones, Velasquez or former champions Anderson Silva or Georges St Pierre. Rousey and St Pierre may well carved out side careers having appeared in a couple of Hollywood action movies, but their ” bread and butter ” remains the UFC for now .
Having been justifiably critical of the UFC and the lack transparency shown by the hierarchy concerning the drug testing of its fighters with repeatedly violations , most notably by Chael Sonnen , it will be interesting to see if Dana White is willing to welcome back the former UFC welterweight champion Georges St Pierre. Johny Hendricks’ first championship defense of the title , he won in an vacant title bout title as the successor to St Pierre, ended with his loss to Robbie Lawler. . All of the hype and actually nothing to back it up, simply indicated, Hendricks , was not all he was cracked to be .
With no major event on the schedule until January 3rd , 2015 , when Jon Jones defends his Light Heavyweight title against Daniel Cormier in a bout that will see the finality to what has already become contentious period between the two fighters , name calling asides , it’s time for both Jones and Cormier to sort their ” beef out”, rather than act like petulant children . I know the fight scene has to create an angle , with a ” hero” and a ” villain” , but when you are being asked to choose between two self-absorbed individuals, there isn’t much to actually throw your support behind. Your thoughts on that ?
This was my simple breakdown of some of the interesting events I witnessed during the sports’ year and granted, I failed to touch on the PGA , NASCAR the NHL and even the WSOP (World Series of Poker) . So by all means chime in with your thoughts on the event or events of this sporting year which piqued your interest.
Picture and slideshow gallery .
(1) Dec 16, 2014; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra gestures against the Brooklyn Nets during the fourth quarter at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn , New York . The Heat defeated the Nets 95-91 . Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports …
(2) Dec 16 , 2014; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade (3) reacts to losing the ball against the Brooklyn Nets during the first quarter at the Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports …
(3) Dec 16, 2014; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Brooklyn Nets forward Joe Johnson (7) holds his head as Miami Heat guard Norris Cole (30) and Miami Heat forward Luol Deng (9) high-five late in the fourth quarter at the Barclays Center. The Heat defeated the Nets 95-91. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports ..
(4) Nov 11 , 2014; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr (right) pats guard Stephen Curry (30) during the first quarter against the San Antonio Spurs at Oracle Arena . The Spurs defeated the Warriors 113-100 . Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports …
(5) Kentucky players from left, Devin Booker , Tyler Ulis , Trey Lyles, and Willie Cauley-Stein celebrate their 83-42 win over UCLA during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game , Saturday, Dec. 20, 2014, in Chicago. AP Photo Nam Y. Huh …
(6) Left , Marcus Mariota of Oregon and Jameis Winston of Florida State . Both college quarterbacks are one of the primary reasons why their respective programs will be part of the inaugural college playoff format which will decide this season’s national champion at the FBS Level of College Football . Both players will likely declare their eligibility status at the end of the playoff season , seeking to enter the 2015 NFL Draft . Mariota and Winston are considered consensus first round draft picks . Yet , there is a common belief teams in need of a passer might well be weary in light of the recent issues of Cleveland Browns’ quarterback Johnny Manziel . AP Photo / David Parsons …
(7) Head coach Jim Harbaugh of the San Francisco 49ers runs off the field after the 49ers lose 38-35 in overtime to the San Diego Chargers at Levi’s Stadium on December 20th, 2014 in Santa Clara, California. Getty Images / Ezra Shaw …
(8) Quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) of the San Francisco 49ers shakes hands with free safety Eric Weddle(32) of the San Diego Chargers after the Chargers defeat the 49ers 38-35 in overtime at Levi’s Stadium on December 20, 2014 in Santa Clara, California. Getty Images/ Ezra Shaw ….
(10) New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan , left, and New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, right, shake hands after an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 21, 2014, in East Rutherford, N.J. The Patriots won the game 17-16 . AP Photo/Julio Cortez …
(11) Quarterback Geno Smith (7) of the New York Jets is tackled by defensive tackle Vince Wilfork (75) of the New England Patriots in the first quarter during a game at MetLife Stadium on December 21, 2014 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. AP Photo/ Julio Cortez …
(12) Miami Marlins’ manager Mike Redmond left and Giancarlo Stanton are seen here in the dugout at Marlins Ballpark in Miami , Florida during a home game on 2nd September , 2014 played against the New York Mets . Miami would go on lose the contest 8-6 . …
(14) Ernie Terrell gets advice from his advisor Joe Louis between rounds of the vacant 1965 WBA World Heavyweight Title fight versus Eddie Machen at the International Amphitheatre , Chicago, Illinois on the 5th March , 1965 ,. UPI Syndicate ….
(15) Anderson Silva (left) is seen here with UFC President Dana White prior to Silva’s defense of his world welterweight title against Chris Weidman . The challenger would score a surprising knockout of the champion and then follow up that victory with a successful defense against Silva in their rematch which ended with a TKO after the former champion suffered a broken leg in their bout at UFC168 . Courtesy of MMA Magazine . @ all rights reserved …
(16) From left to right , Georges St Pierre , Anderson Silva and Jon ‘Bones’ Jones . St Pierre relinquished his welterweight title, taking a prolonged leave of absence from the sport . The former champion has been critical of Dana White for his lack of consistency and a stringent drug testing policy. White in retaliation, was less than salutary to one of the sport’s biggest attractions and most successful fighters in MMA history . MMA Junkie … …
With the Wildcats ranked at number one, the second spot in the rankings is held by the Duke Blue Devils) coached by their acclaimed head coach Mike Krzyzewski, he seeks to win his fifth national title with the program. Krzyzewski and his team will be looking to be the dominant program once again within the ACC. Duke will likely be part of ” March Madness”,the climactic postseason soiree of College Basketball, unlike any other collegiate event. The Blue Devils’ next game will be against Elon in what is sure to be a lopsided contest. Kentucky will have a battle on their hands when they face the Pac-12 storied program UCLA (Bruins) in their next game .
To my mind, while the College Basketball season still remains in its infancy, we will not begin to witness the real resilience of the teams until mid January, when many of the programs have their sights set on the postseason fare and all of the visibility it brings. At the same time, there will be several players looking to shine with their displays in the run-up to that particular event.
Last season, in College Basketball the general belief and hype concerned players such as Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker , Joel Embiid and the litany of rookies drafted into the NBA. The presence of these freshmen, has simply proven to be one of the many reasons why the play in the league continues to be dire. Granted, there were always going to be bad teams in the NBA , but this season at this stage , how many of us could have imagined that so many of them would be playing so badly , with their being little coaching acumen being shown by the coaching staffs of these franchises ?
A narrow six-point loss to the the Golden State Warriors was a clear sign , that the New Orleans Pelicans are on the right track, but there is still a great deal of work to be done by this team , with head coach Monty Williams and his coaching staff undertaking the task to the best of their abilities. Team owner, Tom Benson having bought the franchise, rather than seeing it be relocated with the organization’s previous owner, George Shinn , only all too willing to plead poverty, has begun to engineer a turnaround , that will hopefully see a return to competitive play , but also a profitable economic return on his investment for the owner.
Steve Ballmer paid an exorbitant and outrageous $2 billion for the privilege of owning an NBA franchise. In doing so he merely helped the NBA hierarchy out of a hole of their own making, with the gutless David Stern showing that he has no stomach to come down hard and punish an owner for their egregious actions and behavior. Even when left to his successor, Adam Silver to mete out punishment to the now departed Donald Sterling , the league still found a way make themselves look like complete fools , in their handling of the former Los Angeles Clippers’ owner. Come full circle , with Ballmer assuming control of the organization and still within the fans’ midst remains, Rochelle Stein-Sterling , the estranged wife of the former owner. Somehow, the continued idiocy to be found within the NBA remains , even when a new e owner comes within its midst , with Steve Ballmer acknowledging Stein-Sterling and making her an honorary lifetime member of the organization, albeit, she is said to have been well aware of her husband’s despicable racial beliefs and overtures, during his tenure as the owner of the Clippers. In this case , not only has complicity being rewarded but also he sheer mendacity of Rochelle Stein-Sterling.
As the Golden State Warriors’ ascent has been well-chronicled , with the franchise having the best record (20-2) in the NBA, there can be no denying Steve Kerr has this team heading in the right direction. Joe Lacob , Peter Guber and the members of the front office knew the successor to Mark Jackson had to be someone with skilled basketball IQ, a disciplinarian and an individual who would fit in with the ideals the owners had in mind for their franchise. Jackson for his part, proved to be far too outspoken on a number of issues that bore no relation to the Warriors’ principles or that of basketball. Along the way , he showed his ignorance and some might say bigotry , yet this should be not lost on the public when one bears in mind how out of touch the league remains on a litany of social issues which David Stern and the league hierarchy barely paid lip service to.
Personally, I do not believe fans of the franchise are either eloquent or intelligent enough to succinctly state the problems this team faces but yet they appear to be of the belief Jackson will be able to engineer a quick turnaround. Well, the famed head coach will not be stepping back into his coach’s shoes anytime soon and it is clear to see Fisher is way in, over his head. As to this continued idiocy, the coaching staff is experienced enough to guide these players, clearly that has become a farce of epic proportions. If anyone is trying to suggest Kurt Rambis and Roger Hinds can provide the tutelage needed, let alone assist Fisher to the best of their abilities in making this roster remotely competitive. The evidence is there for all too see, as borne out the team’s record without the continued asinine excuses being made for their plight. A five-point loss suffered at the hands of the Toronto Raptors on Sunday evening at Madison Square Garden , served notice as to how soft the New York Knicks have becomeand the fact this team is simply not that good by any stretch of the imagination to compete in the NBA.
While I know the NBA season remains very much in its early stages , we have already reached first quarter of the schedule. The troublesome and prevailing premise has to be, when are we likely to see any type of improvement from the teams at the bottom end of the pedestal ? Certainly there is a great deal of room for improvement from the likes of the Brooklyn Nets , New York Knicks and Los Angeles Lakers, but their issues are of their own making and not likely to get any better anytime soon. By all means, leave a comment as to your thoughts on the NBA and what you would like to see come out of this season concerning the teams ?
Picture and slideshow details below .
(1) North Carolina’s Marcus Paige , middle, looks for a teammate amid Kentucky defenders, from left, Aaron Harrison , Dakari Johnson , and Willie Cauley-Stein during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game , Saturday, Dec. 13th, 2014. Kentucky won 84-70 . AP Photo/James Crisp …
(2) North Carolina’s Marcus Paige , left, draws a charging foul on Kentucky’s Andrew Harrison during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Dec. 13, 2014. AP Photo/James Crisp …
(3) Duke’s Tyus Jones (5) shoots past Wisconsin’s Nigel Hayes during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Dec. 3, 2014, in Madison, Wis. Duke won 80-70 . AP Photo/Andy Manis …
(4) Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski , left, and Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan greet each other before an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Dec. 3, 2014, in Madison, Wis. AP Photo/Andy Manis ….
(5) Oct 7 , 2014; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves forward Andrew Wiggins (22) posts up against Indiana Pacers guard George Hill (3) at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indiana , Indianapolis . The Pacers would go on to defeat the Timberwolves 103-90 . Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports ….
(6) Klay Thompson , Shaun Livingston and Festus Ezeli of the Golden State Warriors during the game against the New Orleans Pelicans on December 14, 2014 at Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, Louisiana. Getty Images / Lane Murdoch Jr . …
(7) Anthony Davis (23) of the New Orleans Pelicans looks to make an offensive play as DeAndre Jordan of the Los Angeles Clippers looks to defend . Davis has been one of the league’s most explosive players offensively , during this season and by far the most effective power forward at this juncture of the NBA schedule. The Clippers would go on to defeat the Pelicans 120-100 in a high scoring game played on the 6th December , 2014 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles , California ,. Getty Images / Paul Fleming …
(8) LOS ANGELES – FEBRUARY 23: The Los Angeles Lakers coaching staff (L-R) Brian Shaw, Kurt Rambis , Phil Jackson, Frank Hamblen and athletic trainer Gary Vitti share a laugh on the bench during the game game against the Boston Celtics at Staples Center on February 23, 2007 in Los Angeles, California. The Lakers won 122-96. Rambis is now the lead assistant on Derek Fisher’s coaching staff of the New York Knicks where Jackson is now the Head of Basketball Operations for the Knicks’ organization. Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images …
On the opposite side of the draw in the Final Four we have VCU Rams playing the Butler Bull Dogs . The two teams here are if anything seen as the Cinderella stories of this tournament but given the fact that Brad Steven’s team is making their second consecutive Final Four appearance I’m inclined to believe that he will also make a repeat appearance in the Finals itself ! But that will however be predicated upon the defensive stealth of Shaka’ Smart’s — Rams over the course of this game.
In what is being widely reported that by Foxsports and now picked up by ESPN that Bilal Batley a former assistant to coach Calipari while he was a coach at Memphis and at Kentucky made impermissible phone calls to potential recruits of both teams . When broached on the subject of this matter by the convened press in the team’s public interview Calipari declined to comment but only wanted to talk about his team’s upcoming game against the Huskies . Given John Calipari’s track record of failing to comply with the rules as it concerns the appropriate recruitment of players as it relates to being formally in contact with prospective recruits this only further muddies the waters as to the relevance of this game. And given that Calhoun this season has come under close scrutiny by the NCAA and his multiple violations for the same problem how can anyone view this game as a competitive match-up of two really deserving teams ?
Former Kentucky assistant coach Bilal Batley, who resigned from his post in 2009 after he was found to have violated NCAA rules by rebounding for a player during a workout, reportedly violated other NCAA rules as well.
According to a report published Friday by FoxSports.com, Batley also made numerous impermissible phone calls to recruits during his time at Memphis and Kentucky.
From the FoxSports.com report:
NCAA rules state that all telephone calls made to or received from a recruit, his parents, legal guardians or coaches must be made and received by a team’s head coach or three countable assistant coaches.
According to Memphis and Kentucky, Batley was not a countable coach at either school. NCAA spokesman Erik Christianson declined comment to FOXSports.com on the alleged violations.
But Cousins, a Sacramento Kings rookie forward who played for Kentucky as a freshman last season and then left for the NBA draft, said Batley played a “big role” in him committing first to Memphis. He then followed Calipari to Kentucky shortly after the coach’s hiring in April 2009.
Cousins was the first major recruit that Calipari landed at Kentucky and helped re-establish the Wildcats’ recruiting reputation among the nation’s elite. He said he and his mother, Monique Cousins, talked to Batley on the telephone while he was at Memphis and Kentucky.
“We stayed in contact with him frequently,” DeMarcus Cousins told FOXSports.com.
Kentucky coach John Calipari would not offer comment to FoxSports.com when he was approached after his news conference at the Final Four on Friday.
It seems that wherever Calipari has coached controversy always seems to follow and now on the cusp of what just might the most important of game his Wildcats’ career ugliness once again rears its head and the coach is again in the spotlight not for his team’s accomplishments but more for the coach’s actions and that of a member of his coaching staff . Now while it’s too early to say whether or not rules were violated with regard to recruits on this present Wildcats’ team .
One of the players the story says was a recipient of one of the calls made was former Wildcat DeMarcus Cousins who now plays in the NBA with the Sacramento Kings . What might be even more troubling is that current league MVP leading candidate Derrick Rose’s —- college career was closely questioned because it was suspected that he hadn’t met entrance requirements and it was suspected that his SAT’s were in fact taken by someone other than Rose. And though the NCAA conducted their own investigation , nothing came to light concerning the matter. But Rose has refused to address the matter publicly and John Calipari has taken the same stance. However what became clear over the course of the investigation was a close associate of Calipari , Bilal Battley had been in contact with Rose prior to his recruitment to Memphis . Make of it what you will but with there being no apparent paper trail then there’s nothing to be found we’re told . But one only has to look at the improprieties that have come to light over the course of Calipari’s collegiate coaching career ? Need one say anymore on the matter ? And oh by the way , if you’re now prepared to take that the stance you’re innocent until proven guilty try making that case given the evidence that has continually come to the fore with regard to Calipari. Unfortunately however , it appears that when the NCAA conducts an investigation they tend to show the ineptitude only seen in the silent movie era when the Keystone Cops were all the rage . What might be even more insidious concerning this matter and each time Calipari has come under a cloud of suspicion ESPN’s college basketball analyst Dick Vitale has steadfastly come to the support of Calipari but surprise , surprise Jim Calhoun as well . As the saying goes …………..” birds of a feather flock together ” .
At the end of the day sports at the collegiate level has become more about greed and what not only the players are prepared to do but now it appears also the coaches and members of their coaching staffs. This isn’t meant to be a damning indictment of this tournament or in fact all programs but what we appear to be seeing are that some of the more marquee programs will now prepared to do when there’s a great deal at stake in terms of the financial windfall that comes with winning .
As I alluded to earlier this game between two of the more storied programs within D1 college basketball . There are budding future NBA stars on both teams but the one player I believe that everyone feels will be a unanimous first round potential number one pick in the upcoming NBA Draft has to be Kember Walker ! He’s been the marquee player of this tournament without a doubt . And though this team is littered with stars and their play throughout the season has been impressive to say the very least with there being an all round contribution from all members of this roster. And though Walker wasn’t lauded with the College Player of the Year Award with the accolade going to Jimmer Fredette of the Cougars I’m not so sure that beyond that choice there’s any justification to try and state that Fredette can be considered the best player in the nation at the college level.
What we do know is that John Calipari is a very good coach albeit that we will continue to question his methods as it relates to recruiting players and his distinct wish to hide behind what he believes are his right to privacy and to my mind self incrimination. In the cold light of day what I’d like to know is when the NCAA will actually have the courage to diligently investigate an allegation of impropriety by Calipari and a member of staff given the fact that repeatedly over the course of his career questions have arisen about his conduct in the recruitment of players either by himself or his subordinates. If the NCAA can’t be trusted to do what’s right when we have a case of a coach who over the course of his collegiate coaching career has brought two college programs UMass and Memphis placed under NCAA mandated academic suspensions for violation of recruitment rules and now quite possibly a third. What that says about how naive the NCAA has been and the fact that John Calipari remains unscathed by any of these allegations leads me to believe that the NCAA doesn’t either know how to conduct an investigation or they are complete buffoons !
Tonight’s scheduled games held at Reliant Stadium in Houston , Texas where we’ll see the duo of games for the two remaining berths for the national championship . I for one hope that both games are thoroughly entertaining and competitive . As to who the two finalists will be that remains to be seen but one thing we know for sure is that a fairy new champion will be crowned at the culmination of what has been one of the better tournaments in recent years. What thoughts if any do you have on the NCAA Tournament and your own thoughts as to the latest allegations associated with John Calipari and a former assistant of his ? Do you believe that the coach knew of these allegations and that Batley acted on his orders ? And which teams do you feel will prevail in the end between the quartet of teams remaining ? Simply leave a comment as to your thoughts on the topics raised within this piece .
Picture and slide show details below .
(1) Jamie Skeen (21) of the Virginia Commonwealth Rams goes to the hoop against Matt Howard (54) of the Butler Bulldogs during the National Semifinal game of the 2011 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship at Reliant Stadium on April 2, 2011 in Houston, Texas. Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images ………
(2) Darius Theus #10 of the Virginia Commonwealth Rams draws contact against Matt Howard #54 of the Butler Bulldogs during the National Semifinal game of the 2011 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship at Reliant Stadium on April 2, 2011 in Houston, Texas. Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images ….
(3) Head coach Brad Stevens of the Butler Bulldogs shouts from the sidelines against the Virginia Commonwealth Rams during the National Semifinal game of the 2011 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship at Reliant Stadium on April 2, 2011 in Houston, Texas. Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images ……
(4) Head coach Shaka Smart of the Virginia Commonwealth Rams gestures from the sidelines against the Butler Bulldogs during the National Semifinal game of the 2011 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship at Reliant Stadium on April 2, 2011 in Houston, Texas. Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images ….
(5) Connecticut head coach Jim Calhoun reacts during a practice for a men’s NCAA Final Four semifinal college basketball game Friday, April 1, 2011, in Houston. UConn plays Kentucky on Saturday.
(6) Kemba Walker (15) of the Connecticut Huskies points during practice prior to the 2011 Final Four of the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament at Reliant Stadium on April 1, 2011 in Houston, Texas. Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images …..
(7) Head coach John Calipari of the Kentucky Wildcats addresses the media after practice prior to the 2011 Final Four of the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament at Reliant Stadium on April 1, 2011 in Houston, Texas. Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images ……….
(8) This picture from 2009 shows Memphis coaching staff (left to right) John Robic – Assistant Coach, Josh Pastner – Assistant Coach, Bilal Batley (background) – Asst. Director of Operations/Mgr., John Calipari – Head Coach, Orlando Antigua – Assistant Coach, and Rod Strickland – Director of Basketball Operations on the bench against SMU at the FedExForum. Photo by Mark Weber ……………
(9) Bilal Batley a former assistant to John Calipari while he was a coach at Memphis and then at Kentucky before leaving the program . It has been Batley’s actions that have now come into question raising questions also once again about coach Calipari and his coaching staff and the lengths they’re prepared to go to in order to recruit a potential player for the Wildcats’ program. AP Photo / Mark Sanders …….
It Takes A Big Man To Admit When He’s Made A Mistake………. It Takes An Even Bigger Man To Apologize ……….
Well now that the overtures to Michigan State’s __ Tom Izzo have been rebuffed by the famed coach. It would appear that the logical step for the Cleveland Cavaliers’ organization would be for team owner Dan Gilbert and his GM Chris Grant to consult the team’s star player LeBron James and get some sort of idea as to what the player’s immediate plans are. In not having a firm commitment from the player as to his intentions concerning his impending free agency status. It has in effect left the Cavaliers in limbo , unable to land a coach for the team . Never mind the fact that the NBA Draft is looming. And given the needs of the team , it has to be their ultimate priority to have a coach in place before the draft takes place.
With Avery Johnson having accepted the vacant position with the New Jersey Nets . It appears that the pickings out there for a tried and proven NBA coach are ever so thin ! One seriously doubts that the Cavaliers would hire former Atlanta Hawks’ coach Mike Woodson . And the only other alternative might be in approaching another high profiled college coach. Often thought of as a “perfect fit” would be John Calipari , coach of the University of Kentucky Wildcats . Though we know of no outright approach from the Cavaliers the speculation has always been there that Calipari would welcome a return to the NBA. Signs are , that likelihood isn’t about to happen but one can never tell with someone like Calipari. Leaving the Wildcats so abruptly would certainly give credence that he’s nothing more than a mercenary willing to parlay his services to the highest bidder. But given what we know from Calipari’s previous stops during his professional coaching career , controversy has never been far behind. So why stop now , were he to leave Kentucky ?
One name that still remains out there is that of former Nets and New Orleans Hornets’ coach Byron Scott. What we do know, is that Scott can coach and were it not for the injuries that befell the team during the season .One felt that he would not have been fired by Jeff Bowers who as the team’s general manager would succeed Scott and assume the role as coach. Scott, however, may well be waiting to see what transpires with the Los Angeles Lakers and the possibility of the team’s current coach , Phil Jackson , retiring. That scenario would seem fitting should the legendary coach win his “eleventh” NBA title and then seek to ride off into the sunset. While we know that Jackson’s coaching assistants are either former players who played under him as a coach with the Chicago Bulls and Lakers . Lakers’ GM Mitch Kupchak in conjunction with team owner Dr Jerry Buss may well be very reticent to appoint someone within the organization. Especially given the fact that neither Brian Shaw or Jim Cleamons has ever coached within the NBA before. So one could assume that Scott would be the right candidate and a welcome choice amongst the Lakers’ faithful. But that would of course be predicated upon Jackson retiring and Scott being offered the vacant position.
Well all the talk of the Tampa Bay Rays running away with the AL East seems to have been tempered by the mere fact that the New York Yankees have made sure that the Rays’ lead has been eroded from 5 1/2 games to a mere 1/2 a game as of yesterday. And if you think that the Rays are out of the woods as of yet then you’d be sadly mistaken. The Tampa Bay Rays’ schedule hasn’t been made any easier with them having to face NL hosts the Atlanta Braves and Florida Marlins away from home is series of games of six at the Turner Field Atlanta and at Sun Life Stadium , Miami. Three games against each of these teams wherein a win is very much “a must” if their hope is to remain ahead of the Yankees rather than relinquishing their divisional lead. Certainly the Rays are playing well enough to warrant the notice that they’ve been getting and if anything it has been justified that they are the best team in the big leagues at present. But you knew that it was only a matter of time before the Yankees would be bearing down upon them and the Rays would be looking over their shoulders with increasing regularity.
Well now it’s time for the Tampa Bay Rays to show their mettle and that they aren’t afraid of their more famed rivals from the Bronx. Certainly the Rays are showing and playing as if they are the best team in majors at present . But as every Yankees’ fans will tell you , you’re not the best ’til you take them down and win a World Series . And that’s something that we all know that the Rays have yet to achieve. Though they came close in 2008 they were eventually beaten by the Philadelphia Phillies with relative ease, in a rather lopsided 4-1 series win.
Certainly yesterday’s 10-4 victory over the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field in front of a sparse crowd was enough to suggest that the 2010 roster of the Rays is a far more “resilient team “ than the one that went to the World Series in 2008. And no one the team seems to be epitomizing that more than Rays’ pitcher David Price . He’s the AL’s first ten game winner having posted a 10-2 record with a 2.31 ERA , 64 K’s and 1 shutout. Certainly enough to make team manager Joe Maddon and his coaching staff very happy. And if that sort of resolve can be shown throughout the team then there shouldn’t be any reason to fear for the Rays. But the caveat has and always will be what will the Yankees do come the trade deadline. As you can always be sure that they’re not about to stand still when it comes to bolstering their roster .
Budgetary constraints place the Tampa Bay Rays in an unenviable position. For Maddon and the Rays’ front office this has to be frustrating. Rays’ GM Andrew Friedman and principal general partner Stuart Sternberg having to operate under the most restrictive of budgetary constraints. They can only sit and admire the way in which the Yankees can essentially spend at will . With the impending trade deadline (31st July) being just over six weeks away you can be sure that a number of teams that are contention will be looking to bolster their rosters. Unfortunately , unless the Rays can get a player on the “cheap” then they won’t be part-taking in the feeding frenzy , come the trade deadline. It’s a struggle for the Rays to get in excess of 15,000 fans in attendance at Tropicana Field in St Petersburg, Florida. Never mind the asinine notion that a “new ballpark” in downtown Tampa would ease the pain of travel and make it all the more amenable for fans to attend a game. The studies conducted haven’t proven , anything other than the fact that a fool and his money are easily parted. The organization has a winning product and brand on the fieldi right now but the fans still don’t come out in droves to support the team . So why would anyone be under the misapprehension that spending taxpayers’ monies to build a ballpark would make a blind bit of difference ? The only way that will happen will be that attendance may well spike will be because of the curiosity factor a new venue. Once that wears off see how fast that the attendance would start to dwindle.
As I alluded to earlier , while some teams will stand pat during the run off up to the trade deadline. Teams in contention for the postseason will be looking to bolster their respective team rosters. And if as rumored the Yankees are eying Mariners’ pitching ace Cliff Lee. Let me say this just once and once only …….should the Yankees acquire Lee then you can write off the Rays’ chances of winning the AL East. And they might be hard pressed to gain a wildcard berth as well. As good as they are at present they will have to raise their game considerably in the postseason.
Now as the NBA Finals are about to reach its climax with a seventh game series changing decider. The Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics will look to usurp and finally try to overcome each other. As good as this series has appeared to be, for myself, I must admit that I haven’t at all been enthralled by the events ! Some of the games have been sloppy and the play execution has been labored and mundane. A long and arduous season of 82 regular season games tends to take its toll on the players as well as the fans . The expectations for the NBA Finals are always high but when they fall short we can only blame the players and the two teams participating. We won’t be hearing any profound apologies from David Stern or from anyone within the NBA hierarchy when the finals have been something of a disappointment.
As for Dan Gilbert, it remains to be seen what his next step will be . But it’s now becoming clear as the founder of Quicken Loans , he may well have been a profound businessman. As an NBA owner his instincts and choices have left a great deal to be desired. Numerous gaffes on his as well as Danny Ferry’s part and the Cleveland Cavaliers now appear to be on the cusp of being what they were in the pre LeBron era. No apologies there however but then again what would you expect ? This is Cleveland we’re witnessing where winning isn’t in that city’s psyche. If anything it would prove to be catatonic for them and the city were they to win something at this juncture.
in The second biggest sporting spectacle behind the Superbowl in termsof itsaudience asaviewedevent.Themen’s NCAA Basketballtournamenthasitsfansaswellasitsdetractors.Forthewivesandgirlfriendswhoserespective partnerswillbecomeglued totheirtelevisionsetsorsome othermeansinorder toembracetheevent.I takethisopportunitytowishyouwellover thecomingweeks.For myselfI’venosuchqualms.My girlfriendisadriftinherownseaoffulfillment .
And as alluded to earlier in this piece the event itself is prehaps outside of the Superbowl the most popular sporting event in country. That being said one the reasons behind that may well be the amount of money that’s wagered on the NCAA tournament itself. Conservative estimates would put it in the region of in between $850m and $1.3bn over the course of the event. And that’s what they believe to be the legal gambling alone. It’s obvious that were illegal betting taken into account . Then that figure would be immeasurably larger by at least three of four fold the estimates given. Less we forget what would the tournament be without all of the bracketologists out there ? This is where the event itself becomes the water cooler topic of discussion amongst a great many people across the country and in particular in the work place. Friendships are either cemented or they become frayed or fractured over the ensuing weeks. The point is while much of this is actually going on the only ones who are making money in the midst of this all will be the guys in Vegas. And the few of us lucky enought to have actually picked the winner . I think it goes without saying that they if anyone will win more than they’ll lose once the event is over. The oddsmakers in Vegas will be reaping the benefits of this all !
Muchhasbeenmadeas towhichteams willdowell andwhichwillfalteratsome pointduringthetournament. The fact ofthematterisnoonecanreallysaywithacertaintywhowillultimatelydowellandwhowon’t .Theanalystsontelevisionsaywhatthey’lldeem tobetheright thing.Buttakingtheirwordfor it at presentis tantamounttotakingastockpickfrom thelikes ofCNBCs’ Jim Cramer.AndlastIlookedhisimploringhisaudience to investtheirmoneyinAIG ,was aboutasworthwhileaslightingamatchandholdingit againstastickofdynamitethinking thatnothingwouldhappen.Let’sjustsaythatat thisjunctureJimCramerhasaboutasmuchcredibilityformerTreasurySecretaryHankPaulson.AnotherwhoimploredtheCongress thatspending$700 billion ofpublicmoneywouldstave offtheuncertainty withinthemarkets.
Isay ifwe’regoingtomaligntheseguysaswellas thesport’sanalystson television.Thenweought todoitwithagreatdealofvoracity.I’msurethatthesoundbytescomingfromtheCBScommentaryteamwillbevaried, at timesinsightful , selfopinionated ,extremeandor attimes downright ridiculous.Butfor thedie-hardfansoutthereaboveallitwillbeabouttheexcitementandcheeringontheirteamorteamsas thecasemay be.
What Caliparihasachievedwithhisteamthisseasonshouldmakehimacandidate asCoachof the Year. Whetherornot thatwillbecometofruition,we canonlybutwaittoseewhattheadjudicatorswillthink.ButfornowtheTigers dohavesomefarmorepressingissuesahead.Theirroster isprimarilymadeupoffreshmenandjuniors.AndtheirtandemofTyrekeEvans andRobertDozierhaveledtheway.But to saythatthesetwoplayersalonearethesolereasonfortheteam’ssuccesswouldbetodenyotherswho’vemadealargecontributiontotheteam’soverallsuccessthisseason.TheirvictoryoverTulsaintheirconferencetournamentwas about asemphaticawinasonecouldever wishtowitness.Andthescoreitself64-39 does reflecthowlopsideditall was.Tosay thegamewaswonwitheasewouldbeanunderstatementintheveryleast.
NowcomesthetrickypartforMemphis.If they’retojustifytheirseedingasa #2 seedintheWestof thefirstroundofthetournament.Theycanillaffordaslipupat thisjuncture.Nothereandmostcertainlynotnow!Theirfirstroundopponentin thetournamentwillbeCalState Northridge of whose pedigree shall we say won’t come into question should they fall at the hands of Memphis ? However should the unthinkable happen then there may well be a great deal of joy on the campus of the Matdors, as well as across the state. As to the Tigers , failure here and let’s just say what’d been viewed as a promising season all of a sudden just went up in flames. After last season’s heroics , a chance to acquit one’s self the following year doesn’t often come around this quickly.
Say what you will about Memphis it will be now or never at this juncture for the team. All the hype and hooplah concerning their successful season thus far. In the end it will be all for nothing if they’re unable to acquit themselves in the tournament. As good as they’ve been they’re going to have to perform a great deal better if they’re to win it all. So let the games begin and let the chips fall where they may. Memphis it’s now up to you take on and defeat whoever stands in your way.