It’s that time of year to reflect , review and then ponder as to what happens next …

It’s that time of year to reflect, review and then ponder as to what happens next …

There can be no denying this year within the world of sports we all witnessed the highs and lows of the sporting season. Basketball crowned a new champion in the NBA with Tim Duncan and the San Antonio Spurs winning the title, the franchise’s fifth in their admired and revered history. The fact the Spurs defeated the Miami Heat with so much ease , came as a major surprise to many who favored the LeBron James’ led lineup that boasted Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and Ray Allen among their ranks. Complacency and a lack of support for James, were the contributing factors leading to Miami’s demise. With James departing during this off-season, a bewildered Pat Riley , the organization and the coaching staff of Erik Spoelstra will now have to start from scratch rebuilding the roster which hopefully, will have some semblance of competitiveness this season.

==================================

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


=================================

Slideshow

Off to what might deem a favorable start to their schedule , the Miami Heat are no longer a team to be favored or feared, though I believe they are good enough to gain a playoff berth this season, given the mediocrity of the play encountered in the Western Conference , in a season where in its infancy, the basketball in the conference has been truly astounding and banal. The results bear z this out , without delving further about the reasons why beyond stating , two obvious factors, bad coaching and no depth of talent by way of the rookie players .

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.

On the court the Golden State Warriors led by their dynamic duo of Steph Curry and Klay Thompson are seen as capable of leading the team on a dominant run in the NBA and to a deep NBA Playoff foray, albeit, they have encountered some stiff opposition resulting in a loss to the Memphis Grizzlies (20-4) the Warriors still maintain a healthy lead within the Pacific Division of the
Western Conference . No major fallout from this loss, as the loss ,as the team has been able to show its resilience over the course of the season .

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.

With its inaugural format within College Football now in motion , last season’s defending national champions the Florida State Seminoles will be looking to make a successful defense of their title. Jameis Winston the program’s 2013 Heisman Trophy winner in spite of his off the field problems has been able to lead the team to their unbeaten run this season. The Seminoles ended the regular season ranked in the top four availing the chance to be part of the playoff schedule which has been essentially adjudged a four-team semi-finals’ playoff format with contests’ winner playing in the national title game.

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.

In light of the recent disaster of Johnny Manziel’s first professional start in the NFL this season was such a catastrophe it is hard to see any positives which could come out of the debacle, where the Cleveland Browns were shutout by the Cincinnati Bengals in their divisional clash 30-0 . The fact this was a home game for the Browns was all the more embarrassing for the fans. Manziel in the aftermath of his disaster has suggested he can play better , but that must now come into question after the idiotic decision made by Mike Pettine to sit Brian Hoyer merely to gauge what the team’s 2014 draftee was capable of doing. We’ve now seen what Manziel is not capable of doing and that is to lead a team with any great authority, much less play competently at the NFL level.

As the NFL season has unfolded we have witnessed the disasters of teams thought to be contenders , merely to have their hopes blown asunder, because of sheer complacency or simply bad play and extremely bad coaching. Jim Harbaugh’s tenure with the San Francisco 49ers (7-8) is likely to come to an abrupt end after a disastrous season for a franchise which has he taken repeatedly taken to the postseason in four of the five years of his tenure .

As the NFL season has unfolded we have witnessed the disasters of teams thought to be contenders, merely to have their hopes blown asunder, because of sheer complacency or simply bad play and extremely bad coaching. Jim Harbaugh’s tenure with the San Francisco 49ers (7-8) is likely to come to an abrupt end after a disastrous season for a franchise which has he taken repeatedly taken to the postseason in four of the five years of his tenure . San Francisco’s home loss in week sixteen to the San Diego Chargers put an immediate end to their postseason hopes. The fallout from it all , has been the growing speculation Harbaugh will fired or he resigns and accepts the vacant coaching position at Michigan (Wolverines). An 8-8 is the best the San Francisco 49ers can now hope for , something no might have envisage at the start of this season’s NFL schedule.

It is extremely difficult to now try and justify any reason why Rex Ryan should be retained as the New York Jets’ head coach for next season. In spite of their narrow one-point loss o to the New England Patriots(12-3) the defeat dropped the Jets’ record , with a with a penultimate game left on their schedule, they now find themselves bearing a mark of 3-12 . The franchise’s front office will have several decisions to make beyond Ryan’s immediate future, there is also the questionable performances of Geno Smith and Michael Vick over the course of this season. It remains to be seen wheter not both players are likely to be retained for the upcoming season, but clearly , GM John Idzik and the front office staff have to ponder the drafting of a quarterback or acquiring a reliable free agent to fulfill their needs .

The NFL enters its final week of games, with a number of divisions having been decided . Yet,for all of their accomplishments, there still remains the preposterous diatribe served up within the NFC South all season long . With the Carolina Panthers (6-8-1) now holding a slender one-game lead over the New Orleans Saints (6-9 and Atlanta Falcons (6-9) , a great deal still remains on the line as they each head into the final week knowing that a defeat could end their hopes of winning the division and gaining a playoff berth . Atlanta made sure, they still remain in the hunt, with their total annihilation of the Saints in Sunday’s game, beating a demoralized New Orleans’ team 30-14 . Carolina for their part, kept up their side of the ongoing equation by making sure the Cleveland Browns’ woes continued as the team suffered their second successive defeat . Thankfully, for the Browns’ fans, Johnny Manziel was kept on the sidelines for the entire game,as his services were not needed , not even for mop-up duty .

While I thoroughly enjoyed the exploits of the Kansas City Royals during this MLB Postseason . The AL Central franchise became the rallying cry for the underdogs within the game of baseball, as they wore down team after team on their way to the World Series . Alas, for the Royals it wasn’t to be, as the San Francisco Giants and Madison Bumgarner had more in store for the underdogs than they could ever have imagined . The series’ statistics may well stated the Giants won their third World Series’ title in five years . with some ease (4-3) and in part they actually achieved that. Yet to my mind, the Royals were never in with a chance of winning game seven , simply because of their lack of postseason and veteran experience being part of their lineup !

During this off-season with the Winter Meetings in full swing , teams made their play a> to acquire the free agents sought, while also jettisoning players they believed superfluous to their needs. The Miami Marlins made the headlines for the right and wrong reasons, dependent upon your point of view , but their signing Giancarlo Stanton to his now ridiculous $325 million contract smacks of sheer lunacy and a great deal of narcissism and conceit on the part of the organization . Two years ago this very same ball-club had a burgeoning roster of high-paid stars who simply flamed out under the misguided managerial acumen of Ozzie Guillen . A last place finish in the NL East games out behind the the divisional winner and a further out of card berth sealed Guillen’s fate for the year, leading to his dismissal after a disastrous season where the team was uncompetitive and > in complete disarray on and off the field . In the aftermath of the disaster, GM Michael Hill summarily initiated the fire sale which led to the trading away of those highly paid players from 2012.

A great deal will be expected of Mike Redmond and his managerial staff this upcoming season, because of the high and renewed expectations of this team led by Giancarlo Stanton and their NL Rookie of the Year pitcher Jose Fernandez , who was also signed to a very lucrative deal by the Marlins.

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 ?

===================================

===================================

Picture gallery.

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.

o_O

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 ….

(9) New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) talks to his team in the huddle during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 21, 2014, in East Rutherford, N.J. AP Photo/Bill Kostroun …

(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 . …

(13) In what is believed to be the last known public appearance by former world heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali is seen here attending the funeral of boxer Joe Frazier in Philadelphia , Pennsylvania , in November of 2014. Ali was recently admitted to a local hospital where he is said to be suffering from a mild respiratory problem and a bout of pneumonia . Ernie Terrell whom Ali beat during his illustrious career recently died at the age of seventy-five. AP Photo / Steve Woods … …

(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 … …

=========================================

🙂

Tophatal ……..

Tophatal’s Blog on Facebook.com

=========

NBA

NBA news and archived stories

NBA archived stories 2013

This month in NBA history

NBA standings (division)

NBA standings (conference)

NBA results 20th December

NBA schedule 21st December

🙂

NCAA Men’s Basketball

NCAA Men’s Basketball news

NCAA Men’s Basketball results 20th December

NCAA Men’s Basketball schedule 21st December

🙂

NFL and news

NFL week sixteen injuries

NFL standings (division)

NFL standings (conference)

NFL week sixteen schedule

NFL week seventeen

NFL Playoff Picture

This month in NFL history

🙂

MLB news

MLB transactions

o_O

Boxing news and MMA

Boxing schedule (recent bouts)

Current boxing rankings (also denotes champions and weight categories)

UFC Schedule

UFC champions and current rankings

It’s NCAA Or Bust ………….. Bull Dogs or U Conn Huskies ?

It’s NCAA Or Bust ………….. Bull Dogs or U Conn Huskies ?

Well tonight Brad Stevens and his Butler Bull Dogs will get a second consecutive bite of the cherry looking to be crowned the national champions in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament . In this matchup they will face off against the U Conn Huskies and perhaps the player of the tournament without a doubt in Kemba Walker ! The Huskies will have that wily veteran as coach , Jim Calhoun who’ll be looking to win his third national title overall and join a select number of coaches who’ve won multiple NCAA titles .

===============================================================================

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

=================================================================================

Slide show for your perusal .

Reliant Stadium in Houston , Texas, will be rocking as throngs of fans in support of both teams will have this venue packed to the rafters and with there being primetime national television coverage coming courtesy of CBS the night is bound to be riveting and an exciting spectacle to watch or participate in. Both teams have proved their worth in making it this far as has been witnessed in the routes taken in them getting to the Finals . And as impressive as both teams have been , it goes without saying that there are no doubt a number of us who hadn’t expected U Conn much less Butler making it this far . I for one thought that Butler’s surprise run in last year’s tournament would be just a one off ! And given the fact that they’d lost their best player in Gordon Hayward to the NBA who’d have guessed that they’d make such a quick return to the Final Four much less the championship game , itself ?

Experience says that that the U Conn Huskies ought to prevail and given that they’ve a coaching staff led by Calhoun one could say that they have a distinct advantage . Never mind the depth and talent laden roster of this Huskies’ team . At the same it’d be naive to even dare to underestimate the resolve of this Bull Dogs’ team and the very fact that different players on the roster have repeatedly stepped up to the plate and have done what has been asked of them by Brad Stevens and his coaching staff , and that’s to win by playing stifling defense , be quick in transition as and when needed. This game I believe , the deference given to Walker as a player and whether or not Stevens will have a way of negating the player’s power and leadership qualities . As Walkers goes , then so do the U Conn Huskies as a team , albeit that he’s complemented by the play of Jeremy Lamb , Alex Oriahki and in particular Shabazz Napier .

Brad Stevens’ team are no slouches themselves given their surprise upset (71-70) of Jamie Dixon’s —– Pitt Panthers who if anything were thought to have the better team . But as they say first impressions aren’t necessarily to be taken for what they’re worth as has been witnessed by Butler’s improbable run throughout this tournament . It has been players such as Shelvin Mack , Matt Howard , Andrew Smith , Shawn Vanzant , Khyle Marshall and Ronald Nored who’ve made their presence felt during this tournament and throughout the Bull Dogs’ season .

To my mind this NCAA Tournament has been one of the more exciting ones in recent memory and even if there have been doubters as to the legitimacy of some of the participants , there’s no denying there’s more excitement to be had and witnessed here than watching the idiocy we’re told is the BCS System for determining a national champion in football ! Which to my mind is the biggest fu_king fraud going on within collegiate sports beyond the idiocy of the NCAA’s reluctance to punish certain programs who’ve knowingly transgressed their mandated rules . Who the hell actually now takes the NCAA seriously to begin with ? Only a damn idiot would still have the presence of mind to believe that they stand for what’s best in collegiate athletics !

There’s a great deal to be said about the tournament and the players we’ve had the pleasure of seeing in this NCAA Tournament. And while Kemba Walker has stood out , towering over this tournament with his play, leadership qualities and doubted skills . I wonder if those skills in particular will translate into success at the next level within the NBA ? There’s often talk that certain players are can’t miss opportunities players once they enter the NBA but to my mind that is predicated upon the environment and the team that a player finds themselves in ! I mean one merely has to look at the struggles of John Wall this season with the Washington Wizards to see what can happen . And though we’ve seen the outstanding season now being had by the Clippers’ Blake Griffin . One simply has to remember that he had a year off from the game having spent his initial rookie season sidelined by injury. Who’s to say we’d have seen that explosiveness now being witnessed had he played for the Clippers last season ? As they say ……”buyer beware ” !

I’m not about to suggest that the same fate that has befallen John Wall awaits Kember Walker should he be taken as to consensus number one pick in the 2011 NBA Draft but given what I’ve seen of teams such as the Cleveland Cavaliers , Minnesota Timberwolves , Sacramento Kings , Toronto Raptors and New Jersey Nets in the NBA Standings I’m liable to believe that Walker’s impact mightn’t be that immediate given those teams’ performances over the course of this season. God knows the gap between the elite teams and those who cling to the bottom rung is like a crevasse that’s a mile deep or wide ! .

================================================================================

===============================================================================

Picture gallery for your perusal .

As a fan of the tournament have you been excited by what you’ve seen or do you feel in some way that the tournament has been something of a disappointment ? And who amongst the two remaining teams would you be happy with seeing winning the national title ? Simply leave comment as to your thoughts on this piece and anything else you feel pertinent to the NCAA Tournament . And thanks as always for the continued support as it’s greatly appreciated !

Alan aka tophatal ……………..

https://tophatal.wordpress.com/

😛

Picture and slide show details below .

————————————————————————————————

(1) Hudson Pangan, 6, cheers while seated on the shoulders of his mother Catherine at a pep rally in support of the Butler University mens basketball team on the school’s campus in Indianapolis on Monday, April 4, 2011. Butler faces Connecticut in the NCAA Mens Final tonight in Houston. The Pangans live on the Butler campus in faculty housing and Catherine said she’s particularly excited because she is a professor of Butler Bulldog starting guard Ronald Nored. AP Photo/ Maxwell Barnes …….

(2) HOUSTON – April 3rd 2011 : Jimmer Fredette of BYU receives the 2011 Naismith Trophy Presented by AT&T from David Christopher of AT&T during the NABC Guardians of the Game Awards Program on April 3, 2011 in Houston, Texas. Joining them on stage are Eric Oberman (L) and Barry Goheen (R) of the Atlanta Tipoff Club. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images ……….

(3) Connecticut head coach Jim Calhoun speaks during a news conference before a practice session for the men’s NCAA Final Four college basketball championship game Sunday, April 3, 2011, in Houston. Connecticut plays Butler in the championship game Monday night. AP Photo/Mark Humphrey …………….

(4) Connecticut head coach Jim Calhoun, left, talks to Butler head coach Brad Stevens prior to taping a television interview for the men’s NCAA Final Four college basketball championship game Sunday, April 3, 2011, in Houston. Butler plays UConn in the championship game Monday night. AP Photo/Eric Gay ………….

(5) Virginia Commonwealth’s Juvonte Reddic, left, shoots over Butler’s Matt Howard during the second half of a men’s NCAA Final Four semifinal college basketball game Saturday, April 2, 2011, in Houston. AP Photo/Chris Steppig/NCAA Photos, Pool ……….

(6) Butler’s Shawn Vanzant and Virginia Commonwealth’s Darius Theus chase a loose ball during the second half of a men’s NCAA Final Four semifinal college basketball game Saturday, April 2, 2011, in Houston. AP Photo/David J. Phillip ………….

(7) Butler players Shelvin Mack, left, and Chase Stigall react after beating Virginia Commonwealth 70-62 at a men’s NCAA Final Four semifinal college basketball game Saturday, April 2, 2011, in Houston. AP Photo/David J. Phillip …………..

(8) Connecticut’s Kemba Walker speaks as his coach Jim Calhoun, left, looks on after being introduced as the winner of the Bob Cousy Award during the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame class announcement, Monday, April 4, 2011, in Houston. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall …………….

(9) Connecticut’s Kemba Walker shoots as Kentucky’s DeAndre Liggins looks on during the first half of a men’s NCAA Final Four semifinal college basketball game Saturday, April 2, 2011, in Houston. AP Photo/David J. Phillip ………..

(10) Kemba Walker (15) of the Connecticut Huskies dives to save a ball from going out of bounds against the Kentucky Wildcats 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. U Conn would defeat Kentucky 56-55 Photo by Pool/Getty Images ……….

(11) Alex Oriakhi (34) of the Connecticut Huskies dunks the ball against Kentucky Wildcats 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 Chris Steppig-Pool/Getty Images …………

————————————————————————————————

==========================================================================

The Verve ………………… “Bitter Sweet Symphony ”

==========================================================================

Keri Hilson ………. feat’g ……… Lil’ Wayne ……….”You’re Turning Me On”

==========================================================================

It Takes Two Tango But Only One To Really Cheat

It Takes Two Tango But Only One To Really Cheat

Is it me but the furor over the Final Four just might not be as exhilarating as some think it to be between what’s deemed to be the marquee match-up between two prestigious programs in collegiate basketball. The Saturday evening prime time televised game between Jim Calhoun’s U Conn Huskies against John Calipari’s Kentucky Wildcats is deemed that the winner will be viewed as the presumptive favorite in the finals of NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship .

===========================================================================

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

==========================================================================

Slide show for your perusal .

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 ?

Courtesy of USA Today

Report: Ex-Kentucky assistant violated NCAA rules regarding phone calls

By Tim Gardner , USA Today

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.

=====================================================

Click on link to read article in its entirety .

=====================================================

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 !

==================================================================================

=================================================================================

Picture gallery for your perusal .

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 .

Alan aka tophatal ……………………..

https://tophatal.wordpress.com/

😛

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 …….

=======================================================================

————————————————————————————————-

Burning Spear ……………. ” Marcus Garvey ” ====================================================================

The Sporting Weekend That Was ……… Misfires And Positives ………..

The Sporting Weekend That Was ……… Misfires And Positives ………..

Well the MLB season has kicked off in full swing and oh yes , the baseball fans are simply now in heaven . Two things have caught my eye , the Yankees and Red Sox rivalry will be ‘as heated as ever’. And low and behold ESPN has made the announcement that former Arizona Diamondbacks and Boston Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling will be joining their staff as an on air analyst for their pre-game and radio shows covering baseball. Now don’t get me wrong if ESPN feels that someone as opinionated as Schilling, is what they need to lure even more fans to watch their coverage . Then , so be it ! Schilling will also be providing live analysis , giving his undoubted experience and some might say in depth analysis of the game. I’m wondering if Curt will try to pass himself off as baseball’s answer to Charles Barkley ?

Schilling the entrepreneur .

Courtesy of Associated Press & Yahoo Sports

ESPN hires Curt Schilling as analyst

Bristol , Conn. (AP)—Curt Schilling has been hired by ESPN to work as a baseball analyst.

The network says that the former pitcher, who won World Series titles with the Arizona Diamondbacks and Boston Red Sox, will appear on “Baseball Tonight” and ESPN Radio, in addition to contributing to ESPNBoston.com and the company’s main Web site.

He will make his debut Sunday during ESPN’s pregame coverage of the big league opener between the Red Sox and the New York Yankees.

=========================================================

Well it appears that the Donovan McNabb saga wasn’t going to be drawn out as the fiasco that’s now once again unfolding in Minnesota with Brett Favre and the Minnesota Vikings . The Eagles sent the Pro Bowler to the Washington Redskins for second round pick and a third or fourth round pick next year.

Donovan  McNabb  of  the  Philadelphia  Eagles.   The  player  was   traded  to  the  Washington  Redskins  a   divisional  rival     in the  NFC  East.   It  adds  to the  flavor  this   upcoming   season    when   the  player  meets  <u> his   'former   team' </u>.    photo appears  courtesy  of   Getty  Images/ Hugh  Malcolm ....................
Donovan McNabb of the Philadelphia Eagles. The player was traded to the Washington Redskins a divisional rival in the NFC East. It adds to the flavor this upcoming season when the player meets his 'former team' . photo appears courtesy of Getty Images/ Hugh Malcolm ....................

For the Eagles , their coach Andy Reid , GM & President Joe Banner this now becomes about the immediate future and the handing over of the reins to Kevin Kolb . And given the fact that the Eagles’ fans have never truly accepted McNabb and embraced him openly. I’m now wondering what they’ll make of the fact that the player has been traded to a divisional rival ? Will there be effigies of both Banner and Reid hanging outside the stadium should the team not fare well at all during the upcoming season ? Now call me naive but would it not have been far more advantageous for the organization to trade the player to another team outside the division (NFC East) ?

Mike Shanahan and team owner Daniel Snyder , they may well view this as their coup-de-gras in obtaining the Pro Bowl quarterback. And for Jason Campbell , he now must be left wondering as to what his immediate future may well be within the organization. My own opinion is that he’s no more or less , your rather average backup quarterback ! He simply can’t be entrusted to lead the Redskins with any great aplomb. Granted , he’s had to deal with the revolving door of coaches and offensive coordinators from his very first day with the team until now. And no player mentally or physically should really have to deal with such a situation. But this is simply what makes the Redskins one the NFL’s more comical organizations in terms of their managerial and executive structure .

Courtesy of The Washington Post

Washington Redskins’ trade for Donovan McNabb is a perfect fit

By Michael Wilbon , Sports Columnist

The only reservation in Donovan McNabb’s voice Sunday night was over finding and talking to Jason Campbell. After all, when things were going rotten for Campbell, when he was being benched and booed, it was McNabb, after an Eagles-Redskins game in Washington, who sought out Campbell to buck him up, tell him he’s got the tools to be a fine quarterback in the NFL. The quarterback fraternity is small, and the black quarterback fraternity is even smaller, and McNabb didn’t want Campbell to think for one second he’d been lying in the weeds for weeks, waiting to take his job.

McNabb, for the record, didn’t know until the last second where he was going to wind up. The rumors that the Vikings were atop his list were erroneous; McNabb told me that himself last week. The Raiders were a team that was interested, but not the only team. McNabb and I talked about the business of football the other night in Arizona, a totally off-the-record conversation. But I was reminded that night, with all due respect to Campbell, why McNabb is about the best fit around to be the quarterback of the Washington Redskins . . .

…Because Donovan McNabb has done most of it and seen all of it. Even on an evening when the Eagles, the only team he has played for, were trying to trade him, he was completely unfazed. We’re talking about an 11-year veteran who was booed by Eagles fans from the moment he was selected. He’s dealt with injury, the harshest criticism imaginable, idiot teammates such as Terrell Owens, roiled up locker rooms. He’s watched his team draft his replacement, taken the field with few if any Pro Bowl-caliber weapons. He’s shrugged off controversies involving race that were none of his doing. Yet, McNabb has always been able to speak his mind, keep his dignity and keep his team in Super Bowl contention.

====================================================
Click on link to read Michael Wilbon’s article in its entirety.
====================================================

Baylor's   Brittney  Griner  and   U Conn's  Maya  Moore  are  seen  here   during  the  women's   Final  Four   game   between the two  teams.  Geno  Auriemma's   Huskies  would   go  on  to  defeat  the  Baylor Lady  Bears    <u> 70-50</u>  in  the   game  played  at the  Alamodome in   San  Antonio  ,  Texas , Sunday  April 4th  2010.   photo appears  courtesy  of  Getty  Images/   Alicia  Mack  ...........
Baylor's Brittney Griner and U Conn's Maya Moore are seen here during the women's Final Four game between the two teams. Geno Auriemma's Huskies would go on to defeat the Baylor Lady Bears 70-50 in the game played at the Alamodome in San Antonio , Texas , Sunday April 4th 2010. photo appears courtesy of Getty Images/ Alicia Mack ...........

I’m not really hyped about women’s sports but I’ve caught a glimpse of one or two of the games in the women’s NCAA basketball tournament. And it’s now becoming clear that it’ll take a cataclysmic event to derail the U Conn Huskies as they “seek perfection” to end their season. All that now stands in the way of Geno Auriemma’s team are the women of Stanford . And as good as the Lady Cardinals appear to be , I do believe that they face an uphill task in trying to derail this Huskies’ team. Head coach Tara VanDerveer must either pray for divine intervention or that her team can catch lightning in a bottle and pull off the biggest upset ever to have taken place in women’s collegiate athletics. That’s the size of the task now facing the overwhelming underdogs in this contest , as they battle for the national championship.

Cleveland Browns nose tackle Shaun Rogers and his lawyer Patrick D'Angelo, center, talk to reporters after leaving Cleveland Police Headquarters where Rogers was charged with one felony count of carrying a concealed weapon on Friday, April 2, 2010, in Cleveland, Ohio. Rogers was arrested at Cleveland Hopkins International airport on Thursday after he tried to take a loaded handgun through airport security. photo appears courtesy of Associated Press/ Jason Miller .....
Cleveland Browns nose tackle Shaun Rogers and his lawyer Patrick D'Angelo, center, talk to reporters after leaving Cleveland Police Headquarters where Rogers was charged with one felony count of carrying a concealed weapon on Friday, April 2, 2010, in Cleveland, Ohio. Rogers was arrested at Cleveland Hopkins International airport on Thursday after he tried to take a loaded handgun through airport security. photo appears courtesy of Associated Press/ Jason Miller .....

Another week and “another dumb ass move” by an athlete ! It must be me but NFL players either believe that they’re impervious , invincible and above the law. Let me pose this question to you ? Knowing what you know, concerning the security measures carried out by the TSA (Transport & Security Administration) at all domestic airports , why in hell’s name would you want to carry a concealed weapon in your carry on luggage and then to board a domestic flight ? Cleveland Browns’ nose tackle Shaun Rogers pled not guilty to such a charge when he attempted to board a flight at Cleveland’s Hopkins International Airport , Cleveland ,Ohio. Rogers through his attorney Patrick D’Angelo pleaded not guilty to the charge but has already offered an apology to the fans and to the Browns’ organization . If found guilty he faces up to eighteen months in prison and a fine . The case should it go to trial would take place within the Cleveland Municipal Court and it is bound to not only to just add one more “black eye” to the image of the NFL but also to the entire Browns’ organization.

Courtesy of Associated Press & Yahoo Sports

Browns tackle pleads not guilty to gun charge

Cleveland (AP)—Cleveland Browns nose tackle Shaun Rogers(notes) has pleaded not guilty to a concealed weapons charge after authorities say he tried to carry a loaded handgun through airport security in a carry-on bag.

Rogers’ attorney Patrick D’Angelo says his client entered the plea Saturday in Cleveland Municipal Court. The charge carries a maximum penalty of 18 months in prison.

The 31-year-old apologized to his fans and his team Friday after spending a night in jail, saying he didn’t mean to take the gun into Cleveland Hopkins International Airport. Rogers told police he forgot the gun was in his bag when he attempted to fly to Texas on Thursday.

D’Angelo says Rogers planned to fly to Houston later Saturday to spend Easter with family and will make sure “to check everything.”

======================================================================

One clearly now must wonder what President & Head of Football Operations Mike Holmgren must be thinking about the mess that he finds himself in , as to the ongoing problems of this team both on and off the field of play ? Never mind the fact that he also has to deal with an under achieving coach in Eric Mangini and his coaching staff . The task now facing Holmgren in turning this organization around is a daunting one . But when he has players who use poor judgment not only on the field but also off it. It kinds make you feel that they’re completely deserving of anything that’s thrown their way , and that it is of their own making. Rogers may well try and deny his culpability , in his poor lack of judgment in traveling with a concealed weapon. But given the fact he was about to board a domestic flight and whereby passengers are routinely checked. You have to simply wonder what mindset he had at the time ? It is bad enough that he plays on a woefully inept team but his decision making off the field, in some ways indicates many of the woes that the Browns now faces as an organization in terms of its on field personnel. Common sense doesn’t appear to be part of the equation there at all ! Well at least when it comes to the Cleveland Browns . Their fans might as well accept the fate that is now within their midst. Because in reality over the last decade , what we’ve seen from the Browns is a lesson in abject futility both on and off the field ! Shaun Rogers’ actions only further endorse and enhance the fact as to how bad things are there with the NFL franchise .

And it has been suggested that the addition of Jake Delhomme to the team will add some much needed resolve for the organization and make them a legitimate contender within the NFC North ? I’d somehow like to think so but being on the outside looking and seeing how the Browns fared last year. Any advances made to my mind will only be incremental . After-all we are talking about a team that could only muster 5 wins all of last season in going 5-11 within its ‘own division. A far cry from the expectations of the Browns’ fans and ownership .

Butler head coach Brad Stevens, left to right, Gordon Hayward and Ronald Nored smile during an interview session for the men's NCAA Final Four college basketball championship Sunday, April 4, 2010, in Indianapolis. The Butler Bulldogs will face Mike Krzyzewski's Duke Blue Devils in the championship game Monday night to be played at Lucas Oil Stadium , Indianapolis, Indiana. This in many ways will be very much a "home game" for the small and in-obtrusive college team from Indiana. The furor over over their improbable journey has resonated within the state and across the nation. photo appears courtesy of Associated Press/ Mark J Terrill ...............

Butler head coach Brad Stevens , left to right, Gordon Hayward and Ronald Nored smile during an interview session for the men’s NCAA Final Four college basketball championship Sunday, April 4, 2010, in Indianapolis. The Butler Bulldogs will “face” Mike Krzyzewski’s Duke Blue Devils in the championship game Monday night to be played at Lucas Oil Stadium , Indianapolis, Indiana. This in many ways will be very much a “home game” for the small and in-obtrusive college team from Indiana. The furor over over their improbable journey has resonated within the state and across the nation. photo appears courtesy of Associated Press/ Mark J Terrill ……………

Now as we all know the Butler Bulldogs have made it to the men’s national championship game in the NCAA Basketball Tournament . In tonight’s final, they’ll be taking on the ‘prohibitive favorites and three time national champions in the Duke Blue Devils . The thing I’d like to know is the fresh faced looking Brad Stevens , coach of this Butler team . Is he actually old enough to drink or vote ? He’s the only guy that I’ve seen during this tournament who actually looks younger than several of the players he’s coaching and many of the other collegiate players that have participated in the tournament for their respective teams. All kidding asides , even the team’s best player Gordon Hayward actually looks older than his coach . But that simply won’t mean anything once the two teams set foot on the court for the tip-off at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana.

The “storied Duke program” will be taking on the unexpected finalists in a game of contrasting styles but nonetheless a game that will invoke and elicit a great deal thought and fan support across the country. No doubt a great many fans will be looking to cheer on the “hometown heroes” of Butler. While opposing fans will be looking to see if Duke’s coach, Mike Krzyzewski can add to “his already illustrious” career by winning his “fourth national title” as coach of the Blue Devils. This will be the main plot-line of what will be an epic match-up of “David versus Goliath” on what is college basketball’s grandest stage. Tonight we shall see if Butler in its role as David can take down the mighty Goliath , in form of Duke, in front of a national tv audience of millions , as well as the thousands who’ll be in attendance to cheer on the “local hometown heroes” . And hopefully this will be a game that lives up to all of the perceived hype and expectations.

Los Angeles, April 4th 2010. <strong> Manu Ginobil </strong> (20) of the San Antonio Spurs goes to the basket against Luke Walton (4) of the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center on   Sunday.    The   San  Antonio   Spurs  would   go  on  to  defeat  the  Los  Angeles Lakers  <u> 100-81 </u>  in a  game   played  at  the Staples  Center  in  Los  Angeles, California. photo  appears  courtesy  of  NBAE/ Getty  Images/  Noah Grahame  ................
Los Angeles, April 4th 2010. Manu Ginobil (20) of the San Antonio Spurs goes to the basket against Luke Walton (4) of the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center on Sunday. The San Antonio Spurs would go on to defeat the Los Angeles Lakers 100-81 in a game played at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. photo appears courtesy of NBAE/ Getty Images/ Noah Grahame ................

Well those have been my takes on this sporting weekend. I’m still on “cloud nine” having seen my beloved San Antonio Spurs lay the ‘wood’ to the Los Angeles Lakers in their lopsided victory 100-81 . And with Manu Ginobli essentially, outplaying even Kobe Byrant on the day, with a thoroughly engaging display of offensive prowess in scoring 32 points ,in leading the team to victory at the Staples Center , in Los Angeles, California. Needless to say, there’ll be those who will say that one shouldn’t put much store in “the result”. But I look at this way, a team wants consistency and rhythm as the NBA postseason beckons. ‘No teams’ wants to go limping in the opening rounds of the playoffs where the ‘slightest mistake’ can put ‘an end to your season’ before it’s even started . Hopefully , this will be a sign of things to come from the Spurs after this rather engaging display. It should serve as a warning that they’re not dead and buried as of yet ? Writing them off as of now and you’ll be doing so at your peril !

What sporting events that took place this weekend have you thinking “hits and misses” ? By all means chime on in with a comment. And I’ll look to responding to them each ,in the usual manner. As always thanks for the continued support , it is definitely appreciated !


Alan Parkins

=======================================================


Mystikal …. “Boucin’ Back Bumpin’ Me Against The Wall ”

=======================================================

Babes of The Day . In order to view each picture up close and personal just click an individual feature . Have fun while perusing these “pics”.
=======================================================