Archive for the ‘Sports’ Category

It’s not football season until I try to lower your expectations about the Gamecocks, right? Okay, you don’t have to answer that question. This could really be a season like no other. Because of that, I think we need to look a little deeper at what to expect. (Translation: I’m just making up an excuse to write more) We’ll split this preview up into three parts:

Part 1: Where is this team in the national pecking order?
Part 2: 1st half predictions
Part 3: 2nd half predictions and other useless stuff

For those of you just joining us, we are officially in the second half of the season (prediction wise). Five weeks of pure bliss ended with a loss to Georgia. What makes the loss even less awesome is that it comes right at the beginning of a Georgia-LSU-Florida gauntlet. Is it weird that I’m talking about this stuff as if it actually already happened? Are you ready for me to dive into the rest of the schedule? Yeah, that’s what I thought.

October 13: @ LSU
Full disclosure: I don’t think LSU is very good. Yeah, they won a lot of games by a large margin last year, but I think they’re closer to the team that looked constipated in the rematch against Alabama than the team who blew out Georgia/Oregon/West Virginia/Arkansas. It’s not as if the Tigers are a team full of scrubs, but I think that they’re rather beatable. Of course, it takes quite the effort to win in Baton Rogue, but it’s definitely not impossible (Just ask Stony Brook!!!). I fully believe that South Carolina will WIN this game. Not much doubt in my mind, actually. I’d go on about how I predicted the win in 2009 against (then) 4th ranked Ole Miss and in 2010 against (then) top ranked Alabama, but that’s not necessary. LSU is doomed in this game because their starting quarterback is trying to be Ben Roethlisberger, and not in a good way. You won’t win big college football games with those guys. (I’m sure you CAN win with those guys, but work with me here, folks)

October 20: @ Florida
I’d say that this would end the toughest part of South Carolina’s schedule, but it’s not like Tennessee + Arkansas + Clemson aren’t still on the schedule. Wanna know some crazy things about playing Florida?
-A win would mean that South Carolina has beaten Florida three times in a row
-A win would mean that South Carolina has won at Gainesville twice in a row. There has never been another SEC East opponent to ever do that. Ever. (I just spent way too much time on the Florida media guide looking up that fact)
-South Carolina’s 53 points in their last two wins against Florida still would not have been enough to beat Florida in 2009 (a 56-6 loss).
So, I’ve mentioned a few times that this is a season of insane expectations. It’s little things like this WIN at Florida that can exceed even the most lofty of expectations.

October 27: vs. Tennessee
As a fan of college football, there’s a lot to like about Tennessee: Smokey, Peyton Manning, beautiful Neyland Stadium, the Rocky Top fight song, and Derek Dooley’s amazing hair + custom tailored orange pants. It’s too bad that the Volunteers haven’t been very good for the past few years, because it seems like the fan base is fairly reasonable expectation-wise. Tennessee has a great quarterback and…well, uh, I like it when they wear the white tops and orange pants. And who can dislike Smokey? Anyway, the Gamecocks will WIN this game.

November 10: vs. Arkansas
It’s the final “Never Forget” game of the season. I’d argue that South Carolina played worse in the loss to Auburn last year, but obviously losing 44-28 “looks” worse than losing 16-13. The most frustrating thing about losing to Arkansas last year is that I don’t think the Razorbacks are that good. They benefited from being in the same division as LSU and Alabama. This is not to say that they don’t have good players—Tyler Wilson and Knile Davis are not scrubs. But if you think that you’re getting a good result out of a football team coached by John L. Smith, then you’ve got another thing coming. This will be a relatively easy WIN.

November 17: vs. Wofford
(Guess who just realized his birthday falls on a Friday this year?!!?!!?!!?!!?) If Congress wants to meddle in sports, perhaps eliminating these cash grab games (usually the lesser team gets a six figure payday to come and be beaten badly) would be worth the effort. It’s not like they succeeded at eliminating PEDs from baseball, so why not take a stab at something else. Oh yeah, I think this will be a WIN.

November 24: @ Clemson
This has to be the most anticipated meeting with Clemson in at least the past 10 years, right? You know the back story, maybe:
-South Carolina beats Clemson 34-17
-Todd Ellis says something that he thought Steve Spurrier said, and people ran with it
-Turns out Steve Spurrier didn’t say it (I guess)?
-No one tells Dabo Swinney this, who then says stuff about the real USC and real Carolina and real pulled pork and real breasts
-Everyone in the state of South Carolina gets lathered up and their panties in a wad at the same time. State unity, y’all!
Of course, both teams come into the season with high expectations. Would the National Guard be called in if both teams are 10-1 (or 11-0) coming into this game? Would people outside of the state of South Carolina give a crap? It should be noted that Clemson still has a solid upper hand in the overall series, but the Gamecocks have won the last three. A 4th consecutive win would probably get Dabo Swinney fired would be the first time that was done by the Gamecocks in almost 50 years. It would also legitimize the team. Get through an SEC schedule with just one loss and beat your in-state rival? Not bad, guys. Not bad at all. WIN

Loose ends
-While I’m not predicting any postseason games at this point, I do think the Gamecocks will make it to the SEC Championship. I think Georgia loses at Missouri and against Florida.
-I think you will see Lou Holtz literally drool on television this year.
-I believe that Erin Andrews will always have great hair, as will Derek Dooley.
-A white quarterback will win the Heisman trophy. Been too long of a drought for those guys.
-You will hear the word “physical” somewhere around 4098 times in a football game before mid September.

Advertisements

It’s not football season until I try to lower your expectations about the Gamecocks, right? Okay, you don’t have to answer that question. This could really be a season like no other. Because of that, I think we need to look a little deeper at what to expect. (Translation: I’m just making up an excuse to write more) We’ll split this preview up into three parts:

Part 1: Where is this team in the national pecking order?
Part 2: 1st half predictions
Part 3: 2nd half predictions and other useless stuff

So, have you taken a look at the schedule yet? Because I’m a man who’s about full disclosure, I’ve probably looked at the schedule 4 times before today. In a related story, I wasn’t really excited about football season until about a week ago. Anyway, the typical September cupcake feast (excluding the opener, which happens in August anyway so it doesn’t count) gives way to a pretty brutal October (vs. Georgia, at LSU, at Florida) and the typical end of season challenge (hosting Tennessee, Arkansas and Wofford and traveling to Clemson). It’s not necessarily easy street, but that’s a good thing. Win 9 games, and the team is sure to be looked upon favorably by the pollsters. Win 10 or more games, and you’re a contender. Go 7-5? Well, “the schedule was difficult”. It’s a win-win, you guys!!! Anyway, let’s see how this season turns out, shall we?

August 30: @ Vanderbilt (Thursday)
I will forever be terrified of Thursday night games. At least America doesn’t have to suffer through listening to and looking at Craig James. (For what it’s worth, I do like David Pollack quite a bit. I appreciate any guy that can effectively use the word “cat” in a sentence, yet not in reference to the animal.) Anyway, you can actually say “Vanderbilt has a decent team” and actually mean it. Jordan Rodgers is a decent QB who should only improve, and if you have time to have a dance off during a team meeting, well, I think you’re doing something right. However, I think the Gamecocks have enough to overcome whatever the Commodores may throw at them. Try as they might, the Gamecocks have yet to lose an opener under Steve Spurrier. I think that continues here. WIN

September 8: vs. East Carolina
So, it looks like the Gamecocks will travel to Greenville to play the Pirates in…2015. That’s right around the corner! Now that things have shifted to a “playoff“, I really hope that the Gamecocks will start to schedule legitimate opponents for the non conference portion of the schedule. (And you can take your “but the SEC schedule is tough enough!” nonsense and shove it up your ass. I’m not sorry I said that.) Of course, the Gamecocks are not alone in “soft-ish” scheduling:
-USC Trojans (They’re the “realer” USC): Host Hawaii and Syracuse
-Oregon: Host Arkansas State and Tennessee Tech. Who? Exactly.
-Florida State: Hosting Murray State and Savannah State
-Oklahoma State: Hosting Savannah State and Louisiana-Lafayette. Savannah State is popular, it seems!
-Clemson: Hosting Ball State and Furman
Sure, you can argue that “everybody else is doing it”. That doesn’t make the actual game any more exciting. Anyway, East Carolina made the Gamecocks sweat for a while, and lost by a wide margin even though South Carolina turned it over approximately 59 times. The first game jitters should be out of the way, so this will be a WIN.

September 15: vs. UAB
The Blazers are no strangers to being a sacrificial lamb playing South Carolina in September. And, given that South Carolina didn’t have a good result the last time they were in Birmingham, I can see why this game is usually played in Columbia (that and, well, who wants to watch a football game in Birmingham?!!? I don’t know anything about UAB, and I’m not sure that I really *need* to know anything. What I do know is that this should be a rather easy WIN for the Gamecocks.

September 22: vs. Missouri
It’s the first game of the season (that I’m actually interested in)!!! This game probably got 42 times easier knowing that Henry Josey won’t be playing. Of course, I didn’t know who Henry Josey was before ten minutes ago. I really feel like Missouri is an intriguing team this year. I think they’re playing with house money (who knows what that means? I don’t) as a new member of the division, and it’s not like they’re a terrible squad. I think they’re better than Kentucky, Florida and Tennessee. They host Georgia, and they’ve beaten a top ranked Oklahoma in Columbia (Missouri) before. I think this should be a WIN for South Carolina, but only because they’re in “Never Forget” mode about the 2005 Independence Bowl. I really feel like this game could go either way. (Okay, maybe I’m the only person still bitter about that game. Whatever.)

September 29: @ Kentucky
This is a “Never Forget” game also. South Carolina rolled into Lexington in 2010 fresh off a win over (at the time) top ranked Alabama. After building a 28-10 lead, things fell apart. And by “fell apart”, I mean “the winning TD catch was caught by Kentucky’s best player who was WIDE OPEN“. While I believe that every conference road game presents a unique set of challenges, I still think that South Carolina is better than Kentucky. Doesn’t that still count for something? WIN

October 6: vs. Georgia
Did you know the Gamecocks play 9 weeks in a row to open the season? Jesus, be an ice bath! Of course, this is the first of three weeks against ranked (hopefully) opponents. A pu pu platter of Georgia, LSU, and Florida isn’t necessarily the most fun way to celebrate the midpoint in the season. To be honest with you, I’d rather play this game earlier in the season. Every good team has usually hit their stride come October, so the advantage of “not finding your groove yet” won’t be there for this game. I think this game will be a LOSS for a few reasons:
1. While Mark Richt has probably already lost control of the season, hard to think he could survive three losses in a row to South Carolina.
2. Georgia seems to find a way to win in Columbia. All of the time! I was there for the Blackout in 2004, only to see a 16-0 lead evaporate before our very eyes. That was sad.
(Okay, so maybe I only have two reasons. Whatever.)
I think the Gamecocks have a great team. I just don’t see that team starting out 6-0. I’d rather be wrong, but we shall see.

Check back for Part 3 to read how I see the rest of the season shaking out

What are the chances that we see another happy splash like this at the end of this season?

It’s not football season until I try to lower your expectations about the Gamecocks, right? Okay, you don’t have to answer that question. This could really be a season like no other. Because of that, I think we need to look a little deeper at what to expect. (Translation: I’m just making up an excuse to write more) We’ll split this preview up into three parts:

Part 1: Where is this team in the national pecking order?
Part 2: 1st half predictions
Part 3: 2nd half predictions and other useless stuff

How good is this team? No, really.
I imagine that you have some pretty fond memories of last season. The Gamecocks finished 11-2 and beat Nebraska in the Capital One Citrus Bowl, 30-13. First 11 win season in school history, (second double-digit win total overall, more on that later) best final poll ranking ever. Here are some other, um, accolades:
-Wins against Georgia, Tennessee, Florida and Clemson in the same season
-Connor Shaw finished second in the SEC in passer rating
-Marcus Lattimore missed the final 6.5 games of the year, yet finished 7th in the SEC in rushing yards
-Went undefeated vs. division opponents
-Beat Clemson for the 3rd year in a row
-Went on a legitimate run *after* losing the returning passer and rusher from the previous season

So, all of these things were great. No, really, they were. Hell, the HBC even gave the team rings (I’m not so sure if that’s the finished product) for their accomplishments. But since I’m supposed to be about perspective, let’s have just a little:
-In the loss to Auburn, the Tigers ran about 238 plays, and the Gamecocks were peeing their pants instead of driving down the field to either tie or take the lead.
-The team got rings for winning, among other things, the Citrus Bowl—which was played in front of about 10,000 empty seats. The Citrus Bowl is still played on New Year’s Day, which is great. But, it’s probably a 3rd tier game at best.
(So maybe it’s hard to really nitpick here. That’s not so bad!)

Anyway, the heights reached last season were dizzying, to say the least. But you have to wonder “Now what?”, right? Is it time to take another step into the rare air of “top five national title contender”, or did South Carolina miss out on taking charge while teams like Florida and Tennessee struggled? Will 11 wins and another 3rd tier (or second tier) bowl game be enough? How quickly would the city burn to the ground if the Gamecocks won the SEC Championship? Will this be a letdown season? What actually qualifies as a “letdown”? Since things could go either way, I’ll yo-yo between signs of a promising season and signs of a letdown. Let’s face it, folks: The “what if” game is really fun!!

Letdown Sign: Breakthrough years are sometimes followed up with breakdown years.
While I may have still been in diapers, I’m sure some of you are quite familiar with the Black Magic season of 1984. At that time, it was the best season EVAR for the Gamecocks. Wins over Georgia, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, Florida State and Clemson led to a 10-2 record and a birth in the Gator Bowl against Oklahoma State. That next year? Not so awesome. And no, this isn’t just a South Carolina thing:
-Georgia Tech went 11-3 and to the Orange Bowl in 2008, only to go 6-7 in 2009.
-Kansas went 11-1 and won the Orange Bowl in 2007, but fell to 8-5 in 2008.
-Illinois made it to the Sugar Bowl with a 10-2 record in 2001, but fell to 5-7 in 2002.
-Maryland won 31 games (and the ACC once!) from 2001-03, only to go 5-6 in both 2004 and 2005.
-Ole Miss tripped (sorry, Eli) to 10-3 and the Cotton Bowl in 2003, only to go 4-7 in 2004.
(Of course, these are not elite programs in the slightest. Makes for great comparison to the Gamecocks, you guys.)
I understand that South Carolina went 9-5 in 2010, but if you recall how those last two games turned out, 2010 was definitely a breakthrough. Also, take a guess for how many 9 win seasons South Carolina has had in their history. Still guessing? The answer is 3. By comparison, Oklahoma has had 32 ten win seasons. So, yeah—last year was a breakthrough. Unfortunately, history isn’t very kind to that sort of thing.

Next Level Sign: Stability
For the first time in something like 309 years, Steve Spurrier has a quarterback that he’s pleased with. As I noted before, Connor Shaw was second in the conference in pass efficiency. The offense is no longer just a “See how far Marcus runs, pop five or six hemorrhoids, then throw it deep to Alshon Jeffrey” (my unbiased scout’s take). The offense has a foundation of the zone read, and there are capable receivers around to keep the defense from focusing on just one. Instead of going outside to get a defensive coordinator after Ellis Johnson left for Southern Miss, the team promoted Lorenzo Ward. Nothing “feels” different around here. That’s not really a bad thing at all.

Letdown Sign: Injuries
Okay, so injuries happen. And college football teams carry something like 174 players, so if someone gets hurt then the backup comes in and you’re set, no problem. There’s only one problem: It never works out that way. There is a general consensus that Marcus Lattimore is one of the best running backs in the country. Of course, he missed half of last year with a serious knee injury. I say serious knee injury because the school never said what actually happened to his knee. While there’s plenty of reason to think that Lattimore will play great this year, production after a serious knee injury isn’t really an exact science. Also, do you remember that Connor Shaw suffered two concussions last season (against Arkansas and Nebraska)? The more we learn about head injuries, the worse that sounds…right? Don’t let the drafting of Stephon Gilmore fool you, the South Carolina secondary was not awesome last year. Of course, now the team is down one starter in that part of the defense already. Again, injuries happen. But when thy happen to a team expected to actually do well, um…

Next Level Sign: About those expectations…
Sure, South Carolina starts the season ranked in the Top 10. Football Outsiders says the most likely result for the Gamecocks is 8-4. The average projected wins (still through Football Outsiders—they may be nerds, but they’re usually not wrong) is 7.7, which is lowest among any of the other teams ranked in the top 10. The media members who attended SEC’s media days think that Georgia will win the division. (Of course, Andy Staples favors the Gamecocks) From what I’ve seen, Sports Illustrated is the only major publication that has Georgia ranked below South Carolina (I need to renew my subscription!). Of course, since I have “Great Hype Falls Hard” tattooed on my chest, I think this is great news! If South Carolina continues to win, they’ll surely climb the rankings by default (because at least 3 of the teams ahead in the rankings will lose at some point). This “lying in the weeds” status is just the thing to lead to something awesome. And yes, I used the word “awesome”.

Letdown Sign: IT’S SOUTH CAROLINA!
I was going to use the schedule as a letdown factor, but I “knew” that LSU would likely be on the schedule this season, and The Swamp is only intimidating if Florida is actually good (that remains to be seen). As I mentioned before, the Gamecocks had only had three NINE win seasons, ever. Remember the mostly likely scenario I mentioned before? That would be the 11th eight win season ever. I will agree with you if you were to say that this has been a healthy growth for the Gamecocks. But, of course, that’s not the most difficult thing to do when you’re 11 games over .500—-all time. Remember those “successful” basketball teams from the late nineties? Flamed out in the first round. Even the back-to-back champion baseball team went down in a cloud of Asian-American + gigantic strike zone dust to Arizona. This is just guessing, but I believe there are more people who believe in non football forces (karma, the “football gods”, luck, the moon) when rooting for their team(s). Well, that sort of stuff has never really been on the side of the Gamecocks. There’s a certain Cubs/Clippers/Mets/Maple Leafs aura to the Gamecocks that just hasn’t been shaken…ever. Everything is seemingly in place now. Will that matter, though?

Here’s hoping that I’ve worked you up into a nice enough lather in order to read my predictions for every game next season. To be continued.

Ozzie Guillen finally ran his mouth right into some real trouble. The Marlins are effectively letting him get away with it. And, well, that’s rather inexcusable.

Because I’m a guy who’s all about contest, I think you should know what I was doing from about 10 am til noon earlier today:
-Watched and cringed while people on ESPN made excuses for Ozzie Guillen (more on that later)
-Re-read a pretty good post on the subject (sorta) by Keith Olbermann
-Thought about tweeting something on this subject
-Got motivated to blog about Ozzie Guillen, only to realize that I had to work today
-Got an idea to use a work tablet to post said blog, only to realize that blogging on a tablet while working at a computer is a terrible idea
-Decided to write notes in a notebook (!!!) to put on said Internet blog later

So, let’s just say that I give a crap about this. By now, you should be familiar with what Ozzie Guillen said to get in trouble in the first place. Of course, he has come out and apologized “twice”—(the first apology mentioned him being sick to his stomach—that could have just meant that he had something bad to eat the night before)—even once in Spanish!

[And this is where I interject with a note about the ridiculous Ozzie apologists. I’ve heard everything from “Well since he doesn’t normally speak English, maybe he thought he was saying something different!” to “Part of the reason you even hire Ozzie is because he’s so outspoken!” Sure, let’s just be enablers every time some fun loving guy that likes to run his mouth says something out of line! If we’re going to let people say what they want to say without any sort of boundaries, let’s just not get mad at ANYTHING! Yeah…no.]

But this post isn’t (supposed to be) as much about Ozzie as it is his employer. The Marlins suspended Guillen five games for…something. I haven’t quite figured out what this punishment is for just yet. Let’s think about what Guillen said. He respected and loved Fidel Castro. This is a guy who ruined people’s lives in Cuba. People who ended up fleeing to—Miami!!! The new Marlins Park is in–LITTLE HAVANA! There’s no excuse for what he said. Can you think of any other coach in any major sport who would still have a job after saying something like that (or at least suffer a significant suspension/fine)? I’ll wait while you think of someone…

Now, I think it is important to recognize a few things:
-The Marlins just opened a new stadium and spent money on free agents for the first time…ever.
-Ozzie Guillen was hired as manager—in part to appeal to the Latino fan base
-Should Ozzie be suspended for a significant period of time, there’s no telling how such a move would impact the team
But, that shouldn’t have mattered. Ozzie made a statement that could easily offend a group of people that his employer (the Marlins) is trying to cater to. In an effort to show that…they’re “serious about not having stuff like this happen”, they slap Guillen on the wrist. (Mind you, this is a Marlins team that sent Logan Morrison to the minors for essentially being too social.)

The Marlins seem to be turning a deaf ear to all of this. There are prominent people in the Cuban community who want Guillen fired. You know, the people the Marlins are trying to court as fans! Remember Hank Williams Jr? Al Campanis? I could go on and on with people who have said offensive statements and ended up being punished for it. You shouldn’t be able to get away with what Ozzie said. I know that he was suspended, but you get a five game suspension for throwing behind a batter. I’m sure he feels bad. That just means he has a conscience. The Marlins are dropping the ball big time. I’m not saying that he should be fired, but something more than a slap on the wrist seems warranted here. This type of stuff should never be tolerated, but the Marlins seem to think otherwise.

To keep me from burning anything this year, my bracket is online.

Good God, that’s Jordy’s Blogging music!!!!

Not a plausible excuse: I forgot my password.
Plausible excuse: I haven’t felt like writing.

Just to run through a few things that have been going on lately:
1. Meggen and I are expecting!
2. Number 1.
3. I moved back to Columbia. Time to start a family, you guys!
4. I’ve been running a lot! Even lost 20 or so pounds in the process.
5. I’m bald!!!

Anyway, what better way to bring myself back to the blogosphere than with a live blog about college basketball. My fortunes have seemingly worked out for me quite well, and by that, I mean that I’m off today (among other things). So. The beer is here. The sandwich is made. The laptop is charging, and the TV is fired up. PARTY TIME, YOU GUYS!!!

12:11 pm: Beer status: Sweetwater 15. It’s a giant bottle with 10% alcohol. I might be lucky to make it to 12:45.

12:12 pm: Interesting subplot: My cable box is garbage. Completely useless. The TV goes blank at about :58 on the hour, every hour. If I change the channel, it’s fine. THAT’S NOT GOING TO WORK TODAY!! Since I work in technical support, maybe this is my chance to feel like everyone else when their stuff isn’t working.

12:14 pm: Random, yet relevant Facebook post: “Greg Anthony is dressed like The Joker on CBS right now” That’s not an inaccurate statement.

12:15 pm: I hope someone at South Carolina is hearing them play Sandstorm right now and looking for a new song to play during games. It’s not original anymore. Of course, it stopped being original in about 2004. Whatever.

12:17 pm: Because the NCAA is fair and balanced and your record matters, Murray State (barely lost to Butler in the tourney last year) is 30-1. And is a 6 seed.

12:18 pm: Of course, Colorado State couldn’t care less about Murray State’s record, and is out to an early 4-0 lead. Make that 4-3. The loser should be required to drop “State” from its school name.

12:19 pm: Two straight traveling violations by the Rams. That reminds me, here’s the greatest Sportscenter commercial ever.

12:23 pm: Random, yet relevant tweet: @ZachLowe_SI: Actual title of press release I just got “Why March Madness is Important to Nude Recreation.”

12:23 pm: Not sure why cable companies haven’t combated the DirecTV commercials with “When it rains and you have satellite, well, you’re just screwed.”

12:25 pm: Checks bracket…wait. C’MON, Murray State!!

12:26 pm: Nice offensive rebound and kickout for a three. 10-8 Colorado State. I should warn you now that I’m not going to be updating scores all day.

12:31 pm: I’ve accepted the fact that the AT&T commercial where the guy is watching the game on the date makes me so upset because…that guy is me. But really, here’s what kills me about this commercial:
-Why do you even have your phone on the table?
-What kind of response is “Do you think I’m some kind of summoner who can just summon stuff to his phone? OF COURSE YOU CAN, IT’S 2011!!!
-Why did the girl fall for that explanation?
No woman with any sense is going to allow that.

12:38 pm: The problem with having games on TruTV is that you have to watch the ads for their horrendous commercials. Anyway, Kevin Harlan’s on the call! Yay! But so is Reggie Miller. Boooo.

12:44 pm: I interrupted my own live blog to dive headfirst into a discussion about a photo of an anti-Obama car sticker. Sad part is that stuff like that is pretty typical of yours truly.

12:46 pm: 31 minutes in, and we have our first DERP of the day! A missed oop on the alley oop by Kansas State.

12:51 pm: I forgot that Larry Eustachy is the coach at Southern Miss! He likes the coeds.

12:52 pm: 52 minutes in, and my cable box finally decided to get cute! I’m feeling this beer a little too much to care.

12:55 pm: Reggie Miller is throwing out these percentages like anyone gives a damn. We already know that 1-12 shooting is bad, bro.

12:56 pm: “Horrendous shooting thus far,” says Kevin Harlan. Then Southern Miss drains a three. See, you have to talk crap about something in order for it to work out!

1:04 pm: I guess it’s good that it takes less booze to get me wonky. But not if I’m trying to run a live blog until 5 pm!

1:04 pm: Colorado State is up 24-23 at the half against Murray State. Somehow, Leslie Visser still has a job. It’s like CBS takes her out of the cryogenic chamber every March.

1:06 pm: Breaking NFL news. Mario Williams signs a 6 year deal with the Bills. Do you know who he is? No? Okay.

1:07 pm: I know it’s only McGruder, but that name still makes me laugh. Maybe because there are people out there who refer to me as McCooter.

1:09 pm: I hate offensive fouls. They’re all flops.

1:10 pm: Not sure what network came with the idea of showing which team was in the bonus on the scoreline, but it was a great idea.

1:11 pm: Baby news: Meggen felt the baby move! It’s kinda been that way since Sunday, but whatever. YOU didn’t know that until just now.

1:13 pm: More non-basketball stuff. I’m not really a FAN of St. Patrick’s Day. I will wear green, and I’ll probably have a beer. But all these people who have to tell you the percentage of Irish that’s in their blood just annoys me. Seriously, no one asked you, nor does anyone care. You don’t have to be Irish to celebrate. And no one will remember what you said the next day. With that being said, I think my last name is Irish.

1:15 pm: I swear these commercials are running long. When did Southern Miss get within 1?

1:17 pm: Angelo Johnson is in the building! Ugly form, but the three ties the game at 23. In a related story, he looks like he’s about 33.

1:18 pm: For those of you who care, Dwight Howard has a press conference going on. Or something. He’s a punk.

1:19 pm: Random, yet relevant tweet: @awfulannouncing: “@KSJ49: @awfulannouncing “Cannon has a stronger lower body. You can relate Verne.”-Raft”

1:19 pm: Reggie Miller mentions how one of the Southern Miss players could be suffering from an ankle injury. As said player clutches his ankle and writhes in pain on the floor. They’re paying him the big bucks!

1:22 pm: The music people at KFC Yum! Center (that’s a real place, oh by the way) are showing out today. Twilight Zone?!!?

1:27 pm: Jacob Pullen plays overseas now? And Jeremy Lin has a job? What?

1:29 pm: Murray State is now ahead by six against Colorado State. That’s probably going to be my last score update.

1:33 pm: Who in the HELL dressed Greg Anthony? WHAT IS THAT HE HAS ON?

1:34 pm: Random, yet relevant Facebook post: “Southern Miss fans chanting “Where’s your green card?” at a Kansas State player named Angel Rodriquez. Ah, Mississippi… that great beacon of tolerance and hospitality”

1:35 pm: Jay Wright (with Turner) and Seth Greenberg (with ESPN) are great additions by each network on their tourney coverage.

1:38 pm: Here I am thinking that I’m watching TBS. But I was watching TruTV. I can’t keep up, and we’re only an hour and a half in.

1:40 pm: The dreaded “there’s a commercial on every channel!” moment. Because, you know, that’s frustrating!

1:41 pm: Louisville and Davidson tipping off in Oregon. It’s not even 11 am there! That ain’t fair!

1:43 pm: Word that needs to be removed from…everything: Deadly. Brian Anderson mentioned how Davidson was “deadly” from 3 point range. Nobody’s dying BECAUSE those shots go in. Just sayin.

1:45 pm: Now we have three games on. Let’s see if my remote is up to task.

1:48 pm: Nice block by the really dark guy (Racist!). But let’s try to keep that ball in play, okay?

1:52 pm: Peyton Siva did some kind of Houdini stuff to get to the basket. I’m sure he’ll be playing overseas next year too. Or back in Louisville for his 54th year. Whatever.

1:53 pm: The real challenge of this tournament? Me getting through that woeful AT&T commercial.

1:57 pm: This McGruder guy is making me get over his name. Quickly!

2:01 pm: I know I picked Southern Miss to win this game, but I’m not sure that I should be rooting for a Larry Eustachy coached team. People in Ames still hate this guy!

2:08 pm: Still here! Just noticed the horrendous shorts that the Cardinals are rocking.

2:12 pm: Oh, TNT has shows that look dumb too. Great!

2:15 pm: Now the TV is tuned into Albuquerque for Montana-Wisconsin. If I were my cable box, I’d quit too.

2:17 pm: Wisconsin has already scored 11 points. That should last them for about 8 games.

2:21 pm: And, we have our first final of this Thursday! Murray State 58, Colorado State 41. And my bracket is PERFECT!

2:30 pm: Here’s Reggie Miller again, talking percentages. And still, no one gives a damn.

2:33 pm: Kansas State 53, Southern Miss 51. 6:13 left in the half. Will this be the “mad” element of March Madness today?

2:34 pm: McGruder has about 4000 points thus far. And Southern Miss is missing free throws. I think we know how this one is going to end.

2:36 pm: Rodney McGruder is all over the place! This is what happens when I don’t give a crap about college basketball. I miss things!

2:39 pm: BREAKING: Southern Miss made a free throw. Two, even.

2:42 pm: Nice steal by Watson, even better finish! K State 62, Southern Miss 59. It’s real out here, or, there, you guys.

2:44 pm: Angel Rodriguez with the beautiful move! to put the Wildcats up by five.

2:46 pm: I’m sorry, but there’s nothing pleasurable about driving a Buick. Unless you’re ONLY talking about the legroom.

2:51 pm: Southern Miss misses the step-back three attempt. K State up four, 31.4 seconds left. Time to burn the bracket, folks!

2:54 pm: Yeah, K State got away with one there. That was off the Wildcat player.

2:55 pm: K State 70, Southern Miss 64. Where’s a lighter when you need one???

2:56 pm: Okay, folks. Time for a break. It’s hard to find meaningful stuff to type for three hours straight!!!
__________________________________________________________________________________________________________

3:06 pm: If I’m a kid on the Davidson or Louisville pep band, do I really want to take a trip to Portland

3:07 pm: That’s probably a nice recruiting ploy. “Come to Louisville and play basketball—you’ll become Homecoming King! No, really!” I’m totally kidding. That’s an awful idea.

3:14 pm: What’s the over/under on “number of ‘Gold On The Ceiling’ plays” for this tournament—200?

3:15 pm: Also, because you asked, here are my top Black Keys Albums:
1. Thickfreakness
2. The Rubber Factory
3. The rest just don’t matter. Sorry.

3:18 pm: Gee, I didn’t know that such a large segment of the March Madness viewing audience was women who wanted to lose weight! (There was a Weight Watchers commercial with Jennifer Hudson on)

3:19 pm: If you are a fan of this blog, you know that I’m an advocate for Weight Watchers. But I didn’t (and still don’t) need Jennifer Hudson to tell me that it works.

3:22 pm: Quick score rundown. Marquette 31, The Romneys 17. Wisconsin 41, Montana 29. Louisville 51, Davidson 39. MADNESS, I tell you.

3:24 pm: There’s not a better way to waste your day than playing Draw Something. Don’t do it, by the way. Then you’ll never read this post.

3:32 pm: Taco Bell wants me to believe that some dude drove cross country to get a Doritos taco that he could have made at home. Nice try, folks.

3:33 pm: Back to Pittsburgh! I’ve been to Asheville four times, and I’ve never seen the UNC-Asheville campus. That means something…to me.

3:43 pm: I like Buzz Williams that much more knowing that he danced on West Virginia’s court.

3:49 pm: Syracuse and UNC-Asheville tied at 15. Weren’t they the last 1 seed to almost lose their first round game?

3:53 pm: Tight game thus far, Cuse 22, UNCA 21. Not like you know UNC Asheville anyway.

3:56 pm: Random, yet relevant tweet: @CRM_Stephen: Northwestern Mutual on their Game of Thrones game.

3:59 pm: I got an alert on my phone stating that the Louisville-Davidson game was close. I turn to the game, and it’s over. Oops?

4:02 pm: Okay, folks. Tapping out for now. I may be back later this evening with updates. Hope you’ve enjoyed it thus far!!

I’m going to assume that my post lamenting the NBA lockout was the sole reason that said lockout ended. Anyway, the sudden change of heart by players and owners (the latter of which getting pretty much what they wanted all along) has me scrambling to do an NBA preview. So, with the help of my NBA guru Mike Baker, we’re going to run a little Two Man Game to answer the questions you should be asking for the upcoming NBA season.

(Two Man Game is a term often used during a basketball telecast. It’s usually a guard working with a “big man” (center, forward) to make a play on offense. This phrase is so popular, commentators use it for women’s basketball too! (Really, they do.) Anyway, I figured that I should give you some background for where the title came from. Anyway, let’s talk some basketball!!!)

1. Did the lockout cause you to lose or gain interest in the NBA?
Mike: I love the NBA. Admittedly I was bitter (mostly at the owners) but it helped me to realize just how much life would suck had there not been a season. If anything, I gained more interest as to how the business of the NBA works.

Jordy: I think it’s a little bit of both. I was fascinated at the level of disrespect that each side seemed to have for each other, and I lamented the fact that I would be stuck with watching college basketball all season (That’s not a fair trade). But this lockout confirmed my belief that no sports league is really out to please fans. There’s no way. Case in point: NBA League Pass allows you to see nearly every game that does not come on national television. The league is playing a shortened season, and coming off a bitter lockout. Guess what? You’ll be paying the same amount for League Pass! The NBA spits in the face and LOLs at your positive press. Sure, I’m still riveted. But it’s definitely with a raised eyebrow this time around.

2. The Clippers have been terrible for 30 years. Does adding Chris Paul really make them relevant (As in, “They’re a contender!”) now?
Mike: On paper, the Clippers look GREAT! But, so did D-Wade, LeBron and Posh Spice, er, Chris Bosh. Yes, they have talent but they have yet to play ball together. Contenders? Not quite yet, I say 2nd round playoffs at best.

Yes, now the Clippers are relevant because of this guy. Really?


Jordy: (Wow, Posh Spice was a low blow!) I hate this question. Of course, I asked it…so whatever. As much as I want to dismiss this question altogether, it was fascinating to see the Clippers on the court (albeit in a preseason game). There are many different ways that they can use Chauncey Billups and Chris Paul together. However, this doesn’t change the fact that…Vinny Del Negro is the coach! So, my answer is still an emphatic “no” until there’s a coaching change.

3. Which teams will benefit the most from the shortened, frenetic season?
Mike: I’d have to say the almighty Celtics (I’m trying not to be biased even though it may seem like it because that’s my team). In all honesty, the team is not old, it’s just the main parts of the engine are a little dated. The lockout helped to get Pierce, KG and Ray a significant amount of rest and time to ready their bodies for another season, albeit a 66 game season. The team already has chemistry but the problem last season was the postseason push after a long, grueling season and losing major components to the team chemistry because of injury. The time away from the court should help them have the required energy to make a final postseason run while these 3 future HOF’ers utilize the last in their drawn out tanks.

Jordy: If I use the NFL lockout as a premise, I would think a team with an established (and proven) system in place. Also, I tend to believe that said team would have something to prove. I present to you…the Miami Heat! I’ll remind you that the Heat had the second best record in the East last season, and were two wins away from winning an NBA championship. With all the LeBron slander that took place during the off-season, I’m almost certain that he’s looking to deliver this year. That entire team has something to prove. Watch out, folks.

4. Which team(s) will suffer the most from the shortened, frenetic season?
Mike: I have to say L.A.’s team…the Clippers (go figure!!). Easy explanation: CP3 signed less than a month before season tip-off, the tremendous amount of attention and pressure brought forth by the media and fans, and absolutely zero time to mesh as a cohesive unit. Thus far, they seem pretty good in the pre-season, but how will it all work out when the games matter?

But wait, L.A.’s other team (yes, I said other), the Lakers, are in a jam because of the shortened season as well. Why? Two words: Mike Brown. He has had zero time to implement his coaching style to format the Lakers. And let’s be honest here, Mike Brown is not the guy L.A. needs. However, he’s the coach and how will he substitute The Zen’s triangle offense and disciplined defensive strategies? All I know is the Lakers will be quite frustrated this season without lack of direction from the coaching staff.

Jordy: I think I’m stealing this from someone, but I’d say…the Rockets. Remember that first Chris Paul trade? Part of it involved the Rockets getting Pau Gasol. Daryl Morey (the GM) had been lining up assets to make a move like that for the past two or three seasons. Now what? I would imagine that they’re a fringe playoff team still, but it never helps when there are three guys on your team that you couldn’t trade…and are still on the team. Another team that might suffer is Orlando. This Dwight Howard mess is going to ruin that team. And it’s not like they had a lot of mental toughness to begin with.

5. What will it take for LeBron to “bounce back” this season?
Mike: Rogaine. Oops, thought I thought I read something about his hairline in that question. Truthfully, LeBron is still someone I would not like to face down the 4th quarter stretch. Yes, he’s had his late game woes as of late, especially in games that are critical, but let’s not forget the tremendous amount of talent this young man possesses. Two-time MVP (back-to-back at that…we could also list a Biblical scroll length of other accomplishments) with a major chip on his shoulder. He’s also a two-time Finals loser…sounds like more than enough motivation to me to finally complete his championship mission.

Jordy: I was about to make a joke about his hairline, but then I looked in the mirror at my own thinning hair and thought better of it. I’m tempted to say things like “a post up game” or “a killer instinct”. But I think the main thing that would help is a defined role. Is he a decoy for Wade? Should he try to play inside and late Wade take the perimeter? Should everyone defer to him since his passing skills are top-notch? One thing that I didn’t take into consideration last year is that all of what the Heat did pretty much happened on the fly. If LeBron knows and accepts his role, then the things we’ve seen him do well can happen at the right time (specifically at the end of the game).

6. Should the Knicks be taken seriously this year?
Mike: Yes. The Knicks have two of the best young players in the league in Carmelo and Amare’ and they have put in work as a unit. The addition of Tyson Chandler helps the Knicks to establish a low post presence and help on the boards for when Melo jacks up shot after shot. Look for the Knicks to be a 2 or 3 seed this season coming out of the East. I believe they are a solid point guard away from Finals talk.

These guys are legit. The rest of the team? Uh...


Jordy: I’d say kind of. Chris Webber mentioned the Knicks as a “sleeper” team in the East. Perhaps he was asleep when the Knicks made the playoffs last year. Sure, Tyson Chandler is a nice addition. But have you seen him ever create his own shot? Also, how many times has the “player who played great in a contract year, then got a large contract” scenario worked out? I think Amare’ and Carmelo are obviously elite players, but I’m not sure if this is the most cohesive unit around. We’ll see how they play with the heightened expectations. I think they’ll finish better than they did last year, but that was probably going to happen anyway.

7. What team are people not talking about, but should be?
Mike: OKC. Look, this is arguably the best young team with the most upside in the league. Durant is a bona fide star fresh off a worldwide tour of basketball destruction during the summer (also my pick for MVP). Westbrook is one of the most athletic guards in the league, he has faults with shot selection and decision-making, but he’s young. Perkins is healthy and a defensive low post presence, and Harden is emerging as a legitimate threat. They’ve got size and athleticism in Ibaka and the Thunder bench is capable of sustaining the game when the starters are resting. They had a great playoff run last season. This team is dangerous. Since no one is talking about them now, then later in the season I will have the last laugh when everyone is.

Jordy: The Chicago Bulls! I think they have the reigning MVP, right? Also, Carlos Boozer hasn’t hurt himself shaving (yet). And they didn’t lose anyone from their rotation. I also remember that they lost in the conference finals. Surely they’re better than the Clippers/Knicks/Celtics/any other team you’ve been hearing about this offseason. I’m not saying that they’re going to win the title, but I do think that they should be taken a lot more seriously than they’re being taken at this point.

8. Finish the sentence: Because of his impending divorce, Kobe Bryant will ___________
Mike: Holler at Kim Kardashian so he can double date with Lamar and Khloe. Kobe will be with Kim for more than 72 days. Kris Humphries is no Kobe Bryant.

Jordy: Win MVP. And probably average 35 points per game.

9. Dallas Mavericks: Flash in the pan, or favorites?
Mike: I was thinking that they were favorites, but with Tyson Chandler and J.J. Barea gone, the Mavs are missing a few sparks. Not to mention, they are a bit aged in comparison to other teams and Father Time just added another year onto their lives. Also with the lockout, I believe it does hinder some momentum from last year’s championship run. Defending their title won’t be easy, in fact it will be even more difficult for them, but I believe they won’t repeat. But they still will fight tooth & nail in playoff series.

That's unity, y'all.


Jordy: By default, I say that they’re the favorites until they lose in the playoffs (or don’t make it). The Game has a line in his song “Game” (so cleverly titled) where he touts the value of Lamar Odom. And he has a point. When Lamar gives a crap, he provides value with scoring, rebounding and passing. Since Barea didn’t play THAT much anyway, and since Tyson Chandler provided an inside presence only, I really think that the Mavericks having Odom balances those losses. Also, this looks like a group that really enjoyed winning it all. I tend to believe that a desire to do it all again is there. So, yes, I think they’re still a favorite.

10. Predictions!
Mike: (And his self-titled “Especially Suspect Predictions”)
MVP-Kevin Durant
ROY-Kyrie Irving
Western Conference champs-Oklahoma City over Dallas in 7 games
Eastern Conference champs-Miami over Chicago in 6 games
NBA champion-Miami over Oklahoma City in 5 games

Ladies and gentlemen, your Rookie of the Year. I think.


Jordy: (Predictions sure to go wrong)
MVP-Kobe Bryant
ROY-Jimmer Fredette
Western champs-Denver over Dallas in 6 games (Tebow magic is everywhere, guys)
Eastern champs-Miami over Boston in 7 games
NBA champion-Miami over Denver in 4 games
(Really, Jordy? Denver?!!!?)

I’ve been wanting to write about both of these guys for a while now. So, consider it a double treat.

By popular request, here I am Tebowing for the strength to write this post.

Tim Tebow: Just let it ride, y’all.
I’m pretty sure that I’m a Tebowmaniac. No, I’m not convinced that he can lead the Broncos to the Super Bowl. Frankly, I don’t know if he could lead the Broncos to eight wins. However, I firmly believe that he belongs in the NFL, and this “thing” that he’s currently doing (It’s like snatching victory from the jaws of defeat, but more like actually going down the throat of defeat and yanking victory out of defeat’s esophagus) is working, whether I want to admit that or not. People talk about the “it” factor in sports often (probably too much). Somehow, Tim Tebow has been able to get his teammates, the city, and the most polarizing sports pundit in America to believe in him. That’s remarkable.

You may be surprised to know that Aaron Rodgers has 31 touchdown passes against just four interceptions this year. Or that there are four quarterbacks who have thrown for more than 3000 yards already this season. None of this has really mattered since Tim Tebow has entered the equation. I can honestly admit that his “classic quarterback” pedigree is nearly nonexistent. He’s not an accurate passer. Only Taylor Martinez has a worse throwing motion (probably on the entire planet). As a matter of fact, the reason why he runs so much (and has the 7:1 TD:INT ratio) is because he rarely throws it. Even with his success and popularity, it seems that the Broncos are still hoping to find a front-line quarterback in next year’s draft (Of course, you can’t convince me that John Elway knows what he’s doing yet, Von Miller not withstanding). It’s not fair to mention Tebow’s success without pointing out his shortcomings.

Even with his shortcomings, (and the notion that he did not “earn” the starting QB position in Denver) he is still the most discussed player in the NFL right now. The fascination with Tebow has carried over from college, and because the NFL is so popular, Tebow has infiltrated the mainstream. Peter King shared an email that he got from a guy who overheard two other guys in London arguing about Tebow’s merits as a quarterback. After Thursday night’s game, I posted this on Facebook:

Here’s my thing on Tebow: He’s the outlier. He can’t hit open receivers, his throwing motion looks like a root canal I think, but he makes things happen. No rhyme or reason. BUT WE DON’T NEED ONE. Just let the good, really unbelievable times roll.

I followed that up with this:

People spend so much time talking about how he can’t throw. Or how bad he looks out on the field. Or how they would be offended if they only threw 8 passes in a game (SHUT UP STEVE YOUNG). Sometimes, there are things you can’t explain. I’ve been watching football for 20 years, and I sure as hell can’t explain THIS. So…I won’t. I’ll just watch and spaz out on Twitter when Tebow does what he did in the fourth quarter tonight.

I’m not saying that you should do exactly as I have (though the world would be a better place if you did!) when it comes to Tebow. But whether we like it or not, this Tebow wave will last for as long as he’s in the NFL. Instead of letting it affect your blood pressure, just let. It. Ride.

Dabo Swinney
I’m going to put it on the table, folks: Dabo Swinney is my favorite coach in any sport. Ever. That is pretty delusional coming from someone who roots for the Gamecocks. (But Clemson is our RIVAL, right? Well, “they’ve” beaten “us” almost twice as many times as “we’ve” beaten “them”…so it’s really difficult for me to really have any hatred toward Clemson.) Here’s a little trivia about Dabo: His real name is William Swinney. He got the name “Dabo” from his family because his brother was trying to say “that boy”–but apparently “Dabo” came out instead (and yes, I got that from Wikipedia, so I “know it’s real”).

I’m not sure what the general consensus on Swinney is. Opinions seem to range from “he’s a bumbling idiot who’s nothing more than a glorified cheerleader” to “he’s only good because he has Rob Spence as an offensive coordinator!” Three thoughts here:
1. Swinney majored in business administration at Alabama, and was on the All-SEC Honor Roll team in college.
2. The Tigers were in the ACC conference championship in 2009. It’s not like they suddenly got good.
3. Sure, we’ve seen Happy Dabo. Even more than once. Is this really supposed to be a bad thing?

I’m sold on the guy. This is really cliche, but Clemson really seems to take on the personality of their coach. When they’re playing well, they’re full of energy. It’s almost like they come in an unstoppable wave. At the end of the game, there’s Dabo saying something that will get you fired up (or at least that’s the intent). Maybe I’m just used to Mr. Fidgety I Usually Hate What My Team Is Doing (Steve Spurrier). Maybe I’m easily influenced. Maybe it’s a little of both. Either way, I think it’s time that you should start appreciating him. He’s a breath of fresh air to the tight-lipped coaches that are full of football speak.

(Of course, if this Daboslurp I’m pulling results in a Gamecock victory Saturday, then I’ll do this every year.)

How are Tebow and Dabo related? Well, most of their detractors are convinced that both are all hype. Also, I seem to work myself up in a pretty good lather whenever talking about either individual. Also, they’re white men who have mentioned Jesus in postgame interviews. That’s four things! So, obviously this post makes complete sense! I’m sure that your minds are already made up about either guy. But it’s nice to see another point of view…every few years or so.

What are your thoughts on Tim Tebow? What about Dabo Swinney? Do you think that either person will ever be properly evaluated by fans/journalists/critics?