The Slipper Still Fits

Posted: March 20, 2013 in NFL

I can still remember exactly where I was when I heard Gus Johnson shout that out at the end of the Gonzaga-Florida Sweet 16 matchup in 1999. Gonzaga’s forward, Calvary, had just tipped in a shot to put the Zags up by 1, and Florida missed the ensuing possession to send Gonzaga to the Elite Eight. The Zags have not been back since, but fourteen years later they are a one seed, and at least by ranking are expected to make the Final Four.

I don’t bring this up because I am some huge Gonzaga fan. However, that moment, among others is why we love the tournament. You may remember exactly how you felt and where you were at the moment Laettner hit the Shot, Tyus Edney went coast to coast (ugh!), or Hampton’s Coach got bear hugged at the end of the game by one of his players. In a sense, this tournament has become more than about basketball. It has become a time to bond with buddies, pull for the underdog, and feel happy, sad, angry, embarassed, and relieved all in one final possession.

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Although my alma mater, Xavier, is not in the tournament this year, I will still think back to the 2004 tournament as the CBS music comes on to signal the start of Thursday’s games. That was my Senior year at Xavier, and it was the year Xavier finally hit the big stage. After beating Louisville, Mississippi State and Texas, Xavier faced Duke, one of the ultimate blue bloods in college basketball for the right to go to the Final Four. All of my buddies and I drove down to Atlanta and went to the game. Though Xavier ended up losing that game (we got CBSed), I still fondly remember being with my friends for life on that trip, and it is something I will never forget. That is College Basketball and that is the NCAA tournament, and that is what makes the next two or so weeks so great.

Unless you have been living in a cave for the past week, undoubtedly you have heard that Lance finally decided to “come clean” about doping in a professional sport that no one otherwise cares about.

Lance might have “come clean” about taking peds, hgh, and blood transfusions, but the main problem with Lance is that he is a silly little man. Even as he came clean, Lance still came off as smug, arrogant, having no remorse and even more of a liar. Look, I am not going to sit here and throw stones, and act like I have never lied in my life. I have made mistakes, I have lied and deceived..anyone who is human has done so, if they say they haven’t…they’re lying.

However, there is a difference between lying and then being remorseful and guilty and accepting your actions, and what Lance did in the Oprah interview Thursday Night. You see, though Lance admitted he did all of these things, the guy still doesn’t think he cheated. He looked up the word “cheat” and saw it was defined as having an advantage over someone else. That is interesting..I wonder what version of Webster’s dictionary that was…because when I looked up the word, it was defined as defrauding, deceiving,violating rules and regulations and to take an exam or test in a dishonest way. Lance believes that all he was doing was leveling the playing field, and thus not cheating in his own little psychopathic world.

What I don’t get it about Lance is that I don’t think he realizes just how forgiving us humans can be if someone eventually tells us the truth. However,to keep on lying, and not showing remorse only makes things worse. Even after cheating the sport in horrible ways, bullying people, suing people who were telling the truth, and throwing teammates under the bus eventually he would have been forgiven. All he had to do was just be honest and remorseful during this interview, and laid it all out there then the healing could begin and eventually many of us would even forgive him. Considering all that he did for cancer research, the healing might even have been quicker than normal.

However, all he admitted was that he did cheat, but not by his definitition. He blamed the culture, not himself. He blamed the sport, not himself. He provided zero details of how he did anything so that he could help the doping agencies catch up to future cheaters. Silly Lance..

Well, we are about halfway thru the College Hoops Season, and though we never know who could crack the elite eight or even the final four, it isn’t much of a guessing game of who is actually going to be cutting down the nets in Hotlanta in April. It comes down to 9 teams..if one of these 9 don’t win, I’ll run around naked downtown, and no one wants that. Why these 9? Well let’s break it down to what you need to win a Championship in today’s modern age. Look at the last 15-20 years of championship NCAA basketball teams and you will find these similarities.

1.) Must have 1-2 legitimate NBA prospects: If you don’t have 1-2 NBA prospects, you aren’t winning a national title plain and simple. Reason being is that no matter how great of an effort or how great a team game someone may play, talent in the end is going to win out if the effort is equal. Once you get to that sweet sixteen and definitely final four level, this is why a lot of cindrellas fall to the wayside…talent is going to win out, and if it doesn’t look like it will, the refeeres will make sure of it…I call it “getting CBS’ED.” Look at the last five national title winners…Kentucky—Anthony Davis, Kidd Gilchrist etc etc, UCONN–Kemba Walker  Duke—Plumlee, Singler  UNC—lawson, green, hansborough etc etc Kansas—chalmers, arthur

2.) Strong Guard Play: In today’s college basketball world, it is all about guard play…you have a strong point guard who can break down a defense, that should get to at least the second weekend in March Madness….However, that only gets you so far…you also must

3.) Have a strong inside presence with 1-2 guys: Look again at the last give championship teams..Kentucky had Davis, UConn had Oriakihi and what seems like 4 other 7 footers, Duke had Plumlee and Kelly, UNC had Hansborough and Kansas had Aldrich.

4.) Strong Defense: This is almost like a “duh” statement but going down the list again, most of the teams that win championships are in the top ten of almost every single defensive team stat.

So, with all of that said here is the list this year…as I said if someone outside of this list wins…ill go running naked down the street…

1.) Louisville—high pressure yet controlled defense, Siva at guard, Dieng and Behanan at the forward spots…And as far as NBA goes…Dieng for Sure, Blackshear and one of the guards possible.

2.) Indiana—strong d again..holding opponents to an absurd fg percentage..Oladipo, watford, zeller..enough said

3.) Kansas—I despise them but the ingredients are there.

4.) Florida—9th year senior (or atleast it seems like it) Boynton, Patric Young etc.

5.) Michigan—Burke, Hardaway Jr….stingy defense

6.) Syracuse—Considered taking them off this list now that it seems Southerland might not play again this year.

7.) Arizona–Lyons, Hill and company

8.) Duke—Blah…who likes these guys?? Kelly, Plumless, Curry etc

9.) Missouri—complete homer pick I know but the ingredients are there and I had to have at least one darkhorse…Oriakhi, Bowers, Pressey

So there you have it…anyone think outside of this that anyone has a chance? Let me hear it!

 

Later this week, I will write an entry detailing the ten college basketball teams that look like they could win the championship this year…until then, I am going to write my alma mater, Xavier and its basketball season thus far.

So, here we are basically at the midway point and it is about where I thought Xavier would be at 9-6 on the season. I didn’t think that they would have wins against Temple or Butler, but didn’t think they would be losing to Vandy or Wofford either. In the end though to quote Dennis Green..we are who we thought they were. It is mightily obvious to anyone that has follwed Xavier for over a decade now that this may be the least talented team, Xavier has had in that time frame. However, just as Xavier always tends to do, they will for the most part give you effort night in and night out; which in turn leads to them getting better over the course of the season. So at 9-6 what would Xavier have to do to get into the NCAA tournament? It would probably mean 12-3 the rest of the regular season, which is a gignatic stretch for the talent that is on this team, but let’s investigate player by player to see what they need to do to make it happen…

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Dee Davis—I almost feel sorry for the kid. Honestly, I don’t have a clue as to why this kid was ranked in the top 100 coming out of high school. He doesn’t have the talent to ever be a legitimate starting pg, and should be relegated back to the bench after this year. I feel sorry for him though, because the kid is an absolute warrior and a defensive difference maker. The problem lies in that he is extremely limited offensively, by the fact he is short, and not quick nor fast. That usually translates to being limited offensively. Anyways, all Xavier needs from Davis, is to not turn the ball over, and to play with great effort defensively night in and night out.

Semaj Christon—the guy is a stud..probably the best freshman to ever play at X. He has the tools to do anything and everything, and if he keeps improving, is going to be on an NBA team in a few short years. Xavier needs him to improve every single game in regards to his ball-handling and his decision-making. If that keeps happening, this team could make a run.

Travis Taylor—love this kid and love the fact that I was wrong about him last year. He is high energy, and plays his rear end off game in and game out. Just keep doing what you do Taylor!

Jeff Robinson—sigh…..probably the second most talented player on the roster just behind christon, but mostly has minimal effort. If this guy could ever just be a consistent 8 ppg 7-8 rpg that would help tremendously. Jeff also needs to realize he is 6’10 and can jump…he really should be dominating the college game, yet something (maybe his mind) is holding him back. Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable Jeff…X needs you.

Brad Redford—shoot…shoot from half court, the parking lot…the sophmore dorms..i don’t care. Just keep shooting the basketball.

Justin Martin—Unlike Davis, I can see why this kid was highly thought of coming out of high school. The talent is there, Xavier fans just don’t see it consistently just like Robinson. If he can get back to taking guys off the dribble as he was doing earlier this season, and keep up the defense and rebounding, then Xavier will be in good shape.

So there you have it. If X can get most of these things to happen, the team may be able to go 12-3 the rest of the way, but it is going to take a herculean effort. As I said at the beginning of the year, if X can win 20 games, Xavier will need to tear down the Dartagnan statue outside of Cintas and replace it immediately with a Mack statue. The talent is just not there this year, as I believe Mack even knows..why would you get that excited about beating GW by 15 at half, which is ok…I am still going to enjoy each and every game!

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Ok so that was a complete beatdown last night by Alabama against Notre Dame. Simply put, Alabama is on a whole other level than the rest of the college football world. For those of you who believe that Notre Dame should not have been there in the first place…who else should have taken their spot and actually been able to compete with Alabama who had 40 days to prepare? Oregon? Oregon couldn’t beat Stanford at home, whom Notre Dame beat. Texas A&M? Yes they beat Alabama, but they couldn’t handle Florida or LSU at home. So please just stop with the nonsense and accept that Alabama is just better. I had to come to that conclusion last night, and it was a very bitter pill to swallow.

Now Alabama isn’t perfect..their secondary is suspect, and I’m not convinced McCarron is that great of a QB. I mean when you can read War and Peace in the pocket before having to throw the ball, anyone can look good. However, what made Alabama so great, is that offensive line. It made the front seven of Notre Dame look like a high school team…and it isn’t. The ND front seven has as much girth as any college team in the nation, and still looked small and slow.

So, that is another College Football Season in the books and the last of no playoffs. The four team playoff might not fix everything wrong with college football, but at least it is a start. I really wish we didn’t have to go another year with this terrible system. Hopefully, after a year or two, football will realize just how great a playoff system can be with 8 or 16 teams. Then, we can crown a true national champion. Now it is on to College Basketball and the second half of the NBA and the beginning of the NHL. Although Xavier is down, I have no dog in the fight in the NBA, and the NHL is just about to begin, this still may be one of my favorite parts of the sports calendar.