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Archive for December, 2013|Monthly archive page

NBA 30 Games In

In Basketball Stuff on December 30, 2013 at 12:28 am

Heat Pacers

The NBA is almost 30 games deep into their season. At this point in the season we get a good picture of who these teams are. The Eastern Conference has clearly become a two team race. It’s the Heat and the Pacers and everybody else are just hanging around. The currently third place team in the East is the Atlanta Hawks with a 16-13 record. No other team in the conference has a winning record.

Now in the West things seem to be a lot more competitive. The number 9 team in the West which happens to be the Denver Nuggets at 14-13 would be the 4th seed in the current Eastern Conference. The left coast seems to be up for grabs with few teams who could challenge for a spot in the finals. There a few teams in both conferences that I find interesting and will follow throughout the rest of the season. Of course I am going to share them right here.
Atlanta Hawks

Hawks

The Hawks came into this season a different team than they were last season. They have a new coach and star Josh Smith has taken his talents to the Motor City. The team appears to be competitive in a down conference. The NBA doesn’t really reward you for being a middle of the road team. Either you need to be competing for Championships or building with high round draft picks. The Hawks seem like they are far away from a championship. They have a few good pieces but no star. In this current time in the league that is usually not a recipe for success. Now with major injury to Al Horford the Hawks will have to some shuffling. We will see if GM Danny Ferry can make some big moves and take this team to the next level.

Detroit Pistons

Detroit Pistons

After a few years of losing the Pistons might have something going. They are only 14-16 but that’s good enough for 7th in the East right now and only a game or 2 out of 4th place. They could actually host a playoff series in the 1st round if they play their cards right. As the East plays each other more I expect the records to gain some more balance. Their frontcourt of the newly acquired Josh Smith, Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond seems to be posing matchup problems for the rest of the league. Brandon Jennings appears to be a positive acquisition but he started off really well in Milwaukee also before he wasn’t that welcome anymore. Right now the team appears to have a few parts that could be moved. Greg Monroe could be attractive to a team that may want a solid big man. With the emergence of Drummond and them having Smith makes him expendable. Maybe pick a good wing player who can defend.

Phoenix Suns

Suns

The Suns are 17-10 and seems to play teams tough every night. Behind current coach and former Suns player Jeff Hornacek this team seems to be on the right track. Not a team loaded with mega stars but there is a lot of potential on this roster. Getting Eric Bledsoe from the Clippers has been a nice addition. They are a well balanced team that has 7 players that average double digit points per game. One of my favorite stories of this season comes from the both of the Morris twins being on the team and doing well. I will definitely be watching to see what happens with this team for the rest of the season.

San Antonio Spurs

Spurs

The San Antonio Spurs appear to be ageless. Here are after a long emotionally draining NBA Finals and the Gregg Popovich still has his team clicking on all cylinders. At 23-7 and 3rd in the West the question is can they hold up? Duncan and company are all getting on in years but they still keep coming back. Pop is of course pulling off one of his great coaching jobs where he is just plugging in people you probably never heard of and making them contributors. Whetehr it is reviving the career of Boris Diaw or finding guys like Danny Green and Kawhi Leonard, Popovich keeps plugging them in. Can’t wait to see how they keep moving through this season.

Written By
Keith B. Holt
Follow on Twitter @Kholtjr

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Into The Playoffs

In Football Stuff on December 27, 2013 at 6:58 am

Eagles vs Cowboys

The NFL playoffs do not officially start until next weekend but this Sunday the playoffs start early with 2 win or go home games. The Cowboys versus the Eagles and the Bears versus the Packers will determine division champions and who goes to the official postseason.

Eagles vs Cowboys: This game is interesting as the status of star Cowboys quarterback is still up in the air. If he does not play back-up Kyle Orton will have to take the reins for Dallas. The Cowboys even signed Jon Kitna to back-up Orton if an emergency happens. I guess Jeff George and Jeff Garcia were busy. Philadelphia is on a roll playing some really good offense with Nick Foles under center. That bodes well for them going against one of the worst defenses in the league. That being said not only are we fighting for the playoffs but these are division rivals. So anything can happen.

Bears vs Packers: The NFC North Championship and a trip to the playoffs will on the line in Chicago on Sunday. The Bears will try to defeat the Packers for the second time this season on their home field. The Pack will not be an easy out as their star quarterback Aaron Rodgers will be back after missing 7 weeks with a collarbone injury. He may not be 100% but even if he is at 75 that will be way better than Matt Flynn. The Packers will have to go into this game without All Pro linebacker Clay Matthews. In their 188th meeting and the playoffs on the line Green Bay will head down to Soldier Field to lay it all on the line.

There are also a few teams that still have a chance to punch their ticket with a win and some help from some other teams.

Cardinals

The Arizona Cardinals are the most interesting team on the brink of getting in. This team could possibly win 11 games and not make the playoffs. The Cardinals are the most intriguing because this team could either not make the postseason or possibly make a run at the Superbowl. The odds are stacked against them. To get in they have to defeat the San Francisco 49ers and the New Orleans Saints have to lose to a struggling Tampa Bay team.

The AFC is even more interesting with 4 teams fighting for the final spot. Right now the 8-7 Miami Dolphins hold the spot. All they have to do is win their game and all their problems are solved. For the other teams it is a little more complicated.

Ravens

Baltimore: The defending Superbowl Champs could be on the outside looking in this year. For them to get into the tournament this season they have to knock off division rival Cincinnati. Unfortunately for them the Bengals are looking to improve the playoff seating so they will not be laying down this week. Also with beating the Bengals they then have to hope that the Dolphins can’t get by the Jets.

San Diego: Phillip Rivers and the Chargers are hoping that the Geno Smith works some magic against Miami also. The Chargers also need the Raven to lose too in order for them to have a shot at the postseason. Not to mention the bolts have to handle their own business the Kansas City Chiefs. Now it may be possible that the Andy Reid may rest some of his players since it seems like the Chiefs are kind of already locked in that 5 spot in the playoffs.

Pittsburgh: After starting the season 0-4, Mike Tomlin has the Steelers still alive here in the final week of season. At 7-8 they will need the most help to continue their season beyond this weekend. First they have to take care of themselves and beat the Cleveland Browns. That will not be an easy task as they have been playing teams tough this season and Josh Gordon is emerging as one of the best receivers in the league. Then if that happens then the Dolphins, Ravens and Chargers have to lose on Sunday. Not likely but in this wacky NFL season its worth seeing if it can happen.

This NFL season has been kind of wild and it will be interesting to see how it all plays out.

Written By
Keith B. Holt
Follow on Twitter @Kholtjr

Working on Schwartz Time

In Football Stuff, Michigan Sports on December 20, 2013 at 4:38 am

Lions Coach

The Detroit Lions will have to face a tough decision when the season is over. They will have to figure out whether or not if they are going to fire their coach Jim Schwartz. Now conventional wisdom is that if the team makes the playoffs then Schwartz’s job will be safe. Most coaches don’t lose their jobs after a successful season. The thing is not sure how successful this season has been. The Lions are a talented team and maybe need another voice to get them over the top.

In a league of parity the Lions have as good of a roster as the NFL will let you. They are an offensive juggernaut and have a pretty good defensive line and linebackers. They need a little help on the back end of the defense but no team is perfect. What is costing this organization wins is coaching. It’s not what they are doing things scheme wise but their lack of discipline is costing them games. The falling apart late in contest is due to a coach not being able to hold a team together.

Some of the numbers are disturbing with this Detroit team. Last season they started 4-4 and finished 4-12 dropping their last 8 games. Right now they are 7-7 after starting 6-3. After being in firm control of 1st place, the club no longer controls its own destiny. In 6 of the 7 losses this year the team blew leads late in the game. In their 2012 campaign the team fell apart late a lot there too. That kind of lack in focus can be directed at the head coach.

Now team is no longer in the top 2 or 3 teams in penalties but they are still have way too many. This directly points to leadership and lack of discipline. The team is tied for 9th in the league this season for the most penalties with Baltimore and the Jets with 97 total flags thrown against this season. That breaks down to almost 7 infractions per game for a total of 813 yards so far. What team couldn’t use an extra 813 in a season? Not their highest total under Schwartz but the team still has 2 games left. In their most recent loss to Baltimore the Lions had 8 penalties for 89 yards. That is almost the length of the field. In a close game where your defense did not give up any touchdowns this is unacceptable.

The team also turned the ball over 3 times in their last loss. Championship caliber teams do not turn the ball of a lot. Currently the team has the 2nd most turnovers in the NFL at 31 only behind the NY Giants. Only 2 behind the season total of last season of 33. When you are giving the other team 2 extra possessions per game something is wrong. Sloppy play can be attributed to coaches not holding players accountable for their mistakes.

The franchise is 29-47 during Schwartz tenure as head coach. That is a win percentage of 38%. Only in 2011 did the team finish above .500 and that team got bounced in the first round of the playoffs. The team may turn it around but their time is running Schwartz.

Written By
Keith B. Holt
Follow on Twitter @Kholtjr

The Falcons Are In Trouble

In Atlanta Area Stuff, Football Stuff on December 16, 2013 at 1:34 am

Falcons QB

The Atlanta Falcons did beat the Washington Redskins today. Guess what that is the good news Falcons fans because here is the hard truth. This team sucks. Now of course a team is 4-10 cannot be good but this may be worse than you think. They just played as bad as a football team you and barely won the game. Now there are no free lunches in the NFL but when you get a 3-10 team at home playing with a back-up quarterback you shouldn’t be sweating this game out.

The team has 4 wins this season against the Redskins, Tampa Bay, Rams and Buffalo. They have not provided any kind of streak or ability to put things together one week to the next. With your wins being over teams that are a combined 17-38 (the Rams are still playing while this is being written) you have not convincingly beaten any of them. All of their wins are by one score.

This team showed cracks last season by letting big leads go and having to scramble to win at the end. This season they just could not scramble to win later or couldn’t make the big plays later on. They got lucky this week but no team should only win by one point at home against a backup quarterback in a game where their foe game up 7 turnovers. Not to mention Kirk Cousins passed for 381 yards and 2 touchdowns. If it wasn’t for his 2 interceptions which not from good defensive play by the Falcons but from bad throws from Cousins, the Falcons may have not won this game.

I know some of you are holding out for the hope a top draft pick but then what happens after that? First of all this draft pick you have has to live up to expectations, but that will only fix one position on the team. Your offensive line is one of the worst in the NFL. I could argue that you don’t have one player on that line that could start for another NFL team. Your Hall of Fame tight end that you begged to comeback is not coming back next season. There is definitely a problem on that defensive line and getting a pass rush. So yeah this team could be in trouble for a little while.

 

Written By
Keith B. Holt
Follow on Twitter @Kholtjr

Any Choice Would Have Been Good for Saban

In Football Stuff on December 14, 2013 at 10:03 pm

Nick Saban Bama

Friday it was announced that Nick Saban has signed a long term extension with the University of Alabama. This pretty much ends all possibility that he will be the coach of the Texas Longhorns. Already the highest paid coach in college football Saban just picked up a fat raise. Now credit the speculation of him going to another school with helping make even more money than he already does. No matter decision Nick Saban made he was going to win. There were no bad options.

Let’s say that Nick would have been the replacement for Mack Brown at Texas. Texas is one of the more legendary programs in college football history and it not that far removed from its past glory. Money was not definitely a problem for school that would have paid Saban probably even more money than he just got on the deal he just signed. Texas is a magical place for high school football and he would have had first pick of any recruit from the state. After being the only coach to win two national titles at two different schools has only been by Saban. Why would he not consider trying to add another program to the list?

Staying home at Alabama was also a very good option. Saban has built the Crimson Tide to a constant national championship contender each year. This season if it were not for a crazy play he would be playing for another national championship this season. Not having to deal with a conference like the Big 12 that is unstable and playing in the king SEC conference is always a plus. Saban knows his roster that is deep with All-Americans that he has stocked and ready for major runs in the future. Schools like Florida, Georiga and LSU get ready because your nightmare is still here.

Written By
Keith B Holt
Follow on Twitter @Kholtjr

There Too Many Bowls

In Football Stuff on December 10, 2013 at 10:50 pm

bowlgames

The college football season is over and now we are onto the bowl season. There will be 34 post season games to reward collegiate teams for having good seasons. The problem is there were not 68 teams that had good seasons. There are rarely going to be that many good schools considering that there are only 120 FBS schools to begin with. That means more than half the teams playing will get to go to postseason. The fact of the matter is that we have too many bowl games.

college bowls

Part of the problem is that when Division scheduled for FBS schools went from 11 to 12 games it allowed more opportunity for teams to become bowl eligible. Under the 11 game format teams that won at least 6 games qualified to play in a postseason game. That 6 game requirement was never adjusted when the schedule expanded which made it easier for teams to get in. One problem with that this is that there is no requirement that those 6 wins have to come against FBS schools. So a team that gets 2 quick victories against St Joes School for the Blind and Bozo The Clown State now only has to get by 4 out of the next 10 games.

The sight of some of these sad games is very unappealing. Looking at those empty stadiums is not a good sight only to see 2 mediocre teams play. The fans are not that interested in the lower tier bowl games because they are usually in some horrible locations. For instance this year Georgia Tech will be playing in the Music City Bowl in Nashville, TN. Now I don’t know how many alumni are interested in spending December 30th in Nashville. It’s not like it’s a warmer city then their hometown of Atlanta and doesn’t provide any real motivation for the out of town alums to travel. Not mention I am pretty sure the people of Nashville are breaking their necks to see two schools that they have no connection to play each other.

Maybe after we bring in the playoff system maybe we can wash out some of these irrelevant games. Until then enjoy that GoDaddy.com Bowl matchup of Ball State and Arkansas State. If you want to go I am sure there will plenty of 10 dollar tickets floating around Mobile, AL.

Written By
Keith B. Holt
Follow on Twitter @Kholtjr

Grown Men Don’t Tank

In Football Stuff on December 6, 2013 at 3:35 am

Falcons football

With the NFL season winding down its becoming obvious that some teams will not make the playoffs. Here in Atlanta the Falcons are one of those teams. The common thing I have been hearing from so called fans is that the team should tank the season. They should lose games to obtain a higher position in the upcoming draft. These people must not ever been competitive at any level of life, because they would know that this is not an option for these professional players.

Whenever these athletes approach the field they are thinking about winning. If they happen to lose it is not because they wanted to or can even be convinced to do so. They did not become part of the elite of what they do in the world by giving up. Now I know this is hard concept for fans to grasp but these players are some of the best in the world at what they do. That is why a team that is 2-10 can blow out a team that is 10-2, because they both are comprised of special athletes. They are also people who are trying to protect their jobs.

I know it’s hard to look at playing a sport as a job but that is what it means to be a professional. Unlike most of our jobs, these employees are constantly being evaluated. These guys are not only being looked at by their current employers but also by future possible organizations. Their performance will dictate how much money they can earn or if they are worthy of being a part of the NFL. The same thing also can be said about the all of the coaches on the sidelines. Nobody is trying to hire a defensive coordinator that was getting lit up all last season.

draft bust

Not to mention that the draft does not provide any guarantees. Let’s be honest 32 teams each have 1 pick in each of 7 rounds. Out of all of that we only talk about 3 to 5 rookies at the most each year that are making an impact. No grown man is going to suck at his job in hopes that they can get in position to get some unproven college kid. No winning organization has ever thought this was a good way to go about their business. So don’t expect your team to try to go 2-14 in hopes of picking up the next Ryan Leaf anytime soon.

Written By
Keith B. Holt
Follow On Twitter @Kholtjr


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