Friday, February 29, 2008

Five Good Questions with Brian Bennett about the Louisville Cardinals

Today's Five Good Questions is with Brian Bennett of The Louisville Courier-Journal...Brian covers the red-hot Louisville Cardinals....I want to thank Brian for his time...

Q1. It looks like Louisville is finally on the right track. What is the feeling in Louisville about the Cardinals chances going into the Big Dance?
A. Louisville has won seven straight games and is one of the hottest teams in the country. The Cardinals have a good chance of being a No. 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament, with an outside shot at a No. 2 if they win out. They look to me like a team that will make the second weekend and a darkhorse Final Four candidate with the right draw.

Q2. What are the strengths of this Louisville team?
A. This is not a great shooting team. But they defend every night, almost always holding opponents to under 40 percent shooting. They have great size and length up front with David Padgett, Earl Clark, Juan Palacios, Derrick Caracter and Terrence Williams. They're deep and athletic. They pass the ball well, and when they're doing that they get open shots and make the offense work. They're deep.

Q3. How do you think the Cardinals would match-up against a Memphis or Tennessee?
A. They might have trouble matching their offensive firepower, but they have more size than either team and would make it more of a halfcourt game with their defense. I actually like their chances against a team like that moreso than a deliberate team like UCLA.

Q4. What do you see the Cardinals doing in the Big East Tournament?
A. I think Louisville will get to the final and possibly win it, depending on the matchups. The Cardinals seem like they're on a mission to me.

Q5. In your opinion, how far can this Louisville team go in the NCAA Tournament?
A. As I said earlier, I think they're a Sweet 16/Elite Eight team with Final Four potential if things break their way.

Once again, I want to thank Brian for his time

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Beers with Bloggers - Jon from Complete Sports

Today's Beers with Bloggers feature is with Jon from Complete Sports....Jon is quietly one of the upper echelon of sports bloggers...I encourage everyone to bookmark his site...before we begin, I want to thank him for taking the time to respond...

Q1. Here is the basic blog question - but why do you blog? How long have you been doing Complete Sports?
I blog mostly because I love sports. I love watching sports, I love reading about sports, I love talking about sports, and as I have discovered, I love writing. What I like about doing a general sports blog like I do is that there is never a shortage of information... once baseball is over there is football. Once football is over there is basketball. Once basketball is over there is baseball. Wash, rinse, repeat. There is never a time where there is nothing in the sports world to discuss or write about... any time I'm not writing it's more so because I just don't have the time, not because there's nothing to talk about.

Also, on a personal level, I suppose it's a little bit about the small bit of recognition. I mean, obviously it's not like my blog is being read by thousands of people per day, but it might be read by hundreds of people on a given day... and it gives me satisfaction when someone has found my writing interesting enough to comment on it and want to discuss it. Because to be honest, as much as I love writing and I love sports, I probably wouldn't blog if nobody ever read it.

As for length, I've been doing Complete Sports for a little over 2 years now. I have slowed down a little bit lately as real life (read: lots and lots and lots of homework) has interfered, but I still post as much as I can and I love doing it.

Q2. What makes a good blog?
This is maybe a little cliche, but having your own voice and style. I don't like blogs that just report the news... I'm not going to read a blog to get my news, because it's simply not feasible. But having opinions on what happens or what will happen, that makes for a good blog. Don't tell me who got traded where, because I'll already know that information - tell me what you think about the deal. I love reading people's opinions, because it gives me different perspectives to consider when forming my own opinions.

Also, and I suppose this is a bit hypocritical of me to say when looking at my blog lately, but posting on a very regular basis is a must. Especially if you're just starting out, you should be posting basically everyday. You can't expect people to come back if they know it probably won't be updated. This can be a really hard thing to do (again, as I'm finding out!), but posting everyday is pretty key.

Also, humor can be good - a la Zach at The Big Picture as well as a plethora of other sites. Lastly, you should probably be able to write if you want to have a good blog. I mean, I'm an accounting student, not an English teacher, but if I see obvious errors with grammar, I'm not going to read it. Take a couple extra minutes to proofread your post, make sure you're capitalization and punctuation is OK, and then hit post. I'm kind of an elitist snob like that.

Q3. What are your strengths at blogging? Why is Complete Sports a good blog?
My strength, I think, is that I know sports pretty well, especially basketball and baseball. I've been playing these sports for most of my life, and watching them for even longer. I've played and coached basketball for a long time, and I think I know a lot of the intricacies of the game pretty well. Same for baseball. Also, in my mind(!), I can look at things in a fairly reasonable manner and base my opinion on that (well, unless it comes to the Vikings or Twins, in which case I cannot even feign objectivity). Also, and the readers can feel free to correct me if I'm wrong, but I think my writing is at least OK.

Q4. Enough about blogging. The NCAA Tournament is fast approaching. Who are your picks to make the Final Four and why?
The greatest sporting event on Earth! Going into the season, I had UCLA, Memphis, Kansas, and Tennessee, with UCLA beating Kansas for the title. I feel pretty good about these choices right now.

I think, when they're healthy and playing at their best, UCLA is the best team in the country. Defensively, we all know about Ben Howland. But they're efficient offensively, and for a couple of reasons are even better on this side of the ball than they have been over the past 2 seasons. One, they have Kevin Love, a model of efficiency. Two, the emergence of Russell Westbrook as a legit threat. He's a solid shooter, but he's also very quick off the dribble, gets to the rim, and can find the open man. His emergence as a really good player adds a little more athleticism that they were missing last year.

Among the other teams, I like their chances. We saw what Tennessee can do when they beat Memphis on the road. I think adding Tyler Smith will be enough to put them over the top and into the Final Four. Kansas is extremely deep and talented. Memphis is really good defensively, and they're fine as long as they're knocking shots down. All of these teams are deep, can wreak havoc defensively, and have enough offensive firepower to reach the Final Four.

Q5. What are your thoughts about the NBA not allowing high school graduates to go straight to the NBA? Do you think the league should have went a step further and made it mandatory that a player has to play at least two years of college ball?
I admittedly have some qualms about not allowing a high school kid to decide whether he wants to enter the NBA Draft, but I'm not going to complain about it because I think the rule helps both the NBA and NCAA. For the NCAA, the benefits are obvious... guys like Kevin Durant, Michael Beasley, Greg Oden, Derrick Rose, etc. make the college game so much more exciting. There is so much more star talent in the NCAA because of this rule (and because of some of the stars that have entered the college game in the past 2 seasons), and it's a really fun thing to see. For the NBA, it benefits them because for every LeBron James and Amare Stoudemire that has immediate success in the NBA, there are guys like Leon Smith and Ndudi Ebi, talented guys who might have had a better chance of being successful if they had played college ball rather than riding the pine in the Association.

By the same token, I would love to see the NBA make it mandatory for players to have to stay 2 years in college for selfish reasons, but I'm not really sure that it should. That seems like it might be overstepping its boundaries a little more.

Q6. Real quick - your thoughts about the opinionated Charles Barkley?
I LOVE Charles Barkley. Absolutely, unequivocally hilarious. This is basically already an accepted fact, but the trio of Ernie Johnson, Kenny Smith, and Charles Barkley is almost too awesome for words.

Q7. With all the moves that took place before the NBA trading deadline, which team improved the most?
Obviously we have to look at the Lakers, who appear to be the best team in the NBA at the moment. Beyond the fact that they didn't give up anything of real consequence (with all apologies to Javaris Crittenton), Gasol was a perfect addition as an unselfish, skilled big man. As their record since the trade attests to, he's a perfect fit for the triangle and makes the Lakers so very dangerous.

Beyond that, I love what the Cavaliers did. LeBron is now surrounded by shooters, which is the perfect situation. They saw Ben Wallace as the key cog in the deal, but I thought the addition of Joe Smith flew under the radar a little as a great addition. With range out to 17-18 feet, that's a great fit playing next to LeBron. He should be able to make a living off of those midrange jumpers. I actually like the Cavs to win the East after that deal.

Looking a little deeper (and perhaps going beyond the scope of the question, which asked for the most improved team), I loved the Spurs addition of Kurt Thomas. Just a solid role player that fits in well. The Spurs are still awesome.

Q8. I have to ask a non-sports question - Obama, Clinton, or McCain? Why?
Right now I'm an Obama guy. To be honest, I don't follow politics all that much, but I like Obama's ideas, and I think he's got a fresh face and a fresher perspective which would be good for the country. Plus, I'm in college, and the cool thing to do in college is to be Pro-Obama!

Q9. Who are the five hottest women in sports and/or broadcasting?
Hmmm... hopefully it doesn't take away from my manliness to say that I hardly pay attention to sideline reporters (which seems to be the primary function that women in broadcasting serve at this point)... I'm not even sure I could name 5 total. So I'll just take the one obvious choice of Erin Andrews, and then take Stacey Dales, who is pretty cute and a solid broadcaster to boot. It's a little lame of me to only take 2 rather than 5, but that's really all I can think of at the moment.

Q10. Last question, this segment is called "Beers with Bloggers." So what are some of your favorite brews? What are some beers that you like that may not be well known nationally?
Again, hopefully this doesn't take down my manliness as a blogger :), but I barely ever drink. Like, I'm probably one of the least qualified people to answer this question, being that I can about count on one hand the number of times in my life I have drank. Hmmm... maybe it's a good thing that this wasn't well known before this interview, or I might not have qualified to be interviewed!! So I'll do the lame thing and abstain from answering, since I really have no answer.

For the record, my favorite beverage is Dr. Pepper! What else do you need??

Once again, I want to thank Jon for taking the time to is much appreciated...

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Myron Cope Dies

Legendary Pittsburgh Steelers announcer Myron Cope died today at the age of 79....he served in the Steelers broadcast booth for 35 years and was the originator of The Terrible Towel...

Myron Cope (born January 23, 1929 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania), whose given name is Myron Sydney Kopelman, was a color commentator for the Pittsburgh Steelers' radio broadcasts for 35 years. He is known for his nasal voice and a level of excitement rarely exhibited in the broadcast booth.

He is so far the only football announcer to be inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame, and is also in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Cope was born in Pittsburgh. He graduated from Taylor Allderdice High School and the University of Pittsburgh. He was originally a journalist before becoming a broadcaster. His first job was in Erie, Pennsylvania with the Daily Times. Cope then became a freelance journalist, most notably for Sports Illustrated. Cope's profile of Howard Cosell was selected by Sports Illustrated during its 50th Anniversary as one of the 50 best pieces ever published in the magazine.

In the late 1960s, Cope was being heard on the radio in Pittsburgh. His unique nasal voice was noticed by the Steelers' brass. He was made a member of the Steelers' radio team in 1970. As the Steelers won the Super Bowl four times, Cope gained a measure of fame.

His gold towel, called The
Terrible Towel, has become a rallying tool for the black and gold.Like other sports announcers in Pittsburgh, particularly the late Pirates announcer Bob Prince, Cope has a repertoire of unique catchphrases employed in his broadcasts such as "Hum-Hah!" and "Okel Dokel" (his version of "okey dokey").

Cope often uses Yiddish expressions, especially "Feh!" and "Yoi!" (sometimes multiplied as "Double Yoi" or "Triple Yoi").In keeping with his comic personality, a series of television commentaries on WTAE TV saw Cope calling himself "Doctor Cope" and wearing a white lab coat while pretending to examine the opposing team's strengths and weaknesses through a microscope he called "the Cope-roscope".Cope has also created nicknames for key players. It was Cope who gave Steelers running back Jerome Bettis the highly marketable nickname of "The Bus," and Kordell Stewart the name "Slash".

Cope's style was an important influence on Pittsburgh Penguins announcer Mike Lange and ESPN commentator Chris Berman.Cope used a wide range of nicknames for other teams including "Bungles" (Cincinnati Bengals), "Cleve Sandlotters" and "Cleve Brownies" (Cleveland Browns), "Mini Vikes" (Minnesota Vikings) and "Redfaces" (Washington Redskins).Cope's autobiography Double Yoi was published in 2002.Cope announced his retirement from broadcasting on June 21, 2005, citing his recent health concerns.

His retirement was major news in the entire Pittsburgh area. On June 28, 2005, it was announced Cope would receive the Pete Rozelle Award for long time exceptional contributions to pro football in television and radio.

On October 31, 2005, Cope was honored for his lifetime accomplishments at halftime of the contest between the Steelers and the Ravens.

Stories around the nation

Nashville Tennessean sports columnist David Climer writes how the #1 Volunteers melted down at Vanderbilt... "Simply put, the Vols lost their composure. Why? Because Vanderbilt forced the issue. The same team that stared down so much adversity at the FedExForum on Saturday in the upset of then-No. 1 Memphis, lost its grip three nights later." ...
  • David Climer

  • Newark Star-Ledger sports columnist Steve Politi writes how organ donation has helped other... "Eleven months ago, the Rays made a much different trip to New Jersey. They left their home in Concord, N.C., to find their 21-year-old son, a vibrant college senior who was here to entertain North Carolina basketball fans as the furry ram mascot, in a coma and on life support." ....
  • Steve Politi

  • Washington Post sports reporter Camille Powell writes how Georgetown freshman Austin Freeman is one cool person.... "DeMatha Coach Mike Jones noticed that the first time he saw Freeman play, when he was in the seventh grade. Jones was struck by his maturity, and how he never played out of control -- so much so, that Jones assumed Freeman was already in high school." ....
  • Camille Powell

  • Portland Oregonian sports columnist John Canzano writes how Barack Obama give Portland rookie Greg Oden a call recently... "Greg Oden took a two-minute telephone call from Sen. Barack Obama on Tuesday in which the men discussed basketball, mohawk haircuts and Oden's knee." ...
  • John Canzano

  • Dallas Morning News sports columnist Kevin Sherrington writes how Pat Knight is not guaranteed success at Texas Tech.... "Pat Knight is now fodder for the scientific debate over the effects of genes and environment and their impact on the win-loss column. His father, Bob, has done all he could. He raised him, coached him, employed him and took a job where his son would be assured of succeeding him." ...
  • Kevin Sherrington
  • Tuesday, February 26, 2008

    Hat Trick of Stories

    Tyler Kepner of the New York Times writes how Yankees pitcher Phil Hughes is a blogger.... "Hughes has seen a lot on his Web site,, since starting it Jan. 16. Through Monday afternoon, the site had attracted more than 340,000 visitors from six continents." ....
  • Tyler Kepner

  • Chicago Sun-Times sports columnist Jay Mariotti writes that Tiger Woods has over taken MJ as DA MAN... "As Jordan blends into a relatively subdued mid-life existence -- except when Cuba Gooding Jr. screams that he's wearing MJ's underwear -- Woods is elevating the bar of dominance to unprecedented levels." ...
  • Jay Mariotti

  • Los Angeles Times sports reporter Sam Farmer writes about NFL Draft stud Chris Long and dealing with being Howie's son... "The 6-foot-4, 275-pound Long has gone from the hunter to the hunted, and stands a good chance of becoming the first overall pick of the Miami Dolphins -- a distinction that would lead to a rookie contract including about $35 million guaranteed." ......
  • Sam Farmer
  • Monday, February 25, 2008

    Big Games of the Weekday

    Here are this week's big games in college hoops....the rating is the most recent RPI rating....

    Monday, February 25
    #5 Texas (22-4) @ #38 Kansas State (17-8)

    K-State got upset by Baylor...they cannot be looking ahead to their Saturday match-up at Kansas either...the Longhorns are on a 7 game win streak...

    Tuesday, February 26
    #54 Ohio State (17-10) @ #19 Indiana (23-4)
    The Hoosiers were not impressive with their 3 point win over pitiful Northwestern....the players need to make up their mind - are they going to stew about Kelvin Sampson resigning or are they going to show the nation their resiliency and play to their potential?...

    #1 Tennessee (24-2) @ #10 Vanderbilt (23-4)
    The Volunteers have to be on extra special upset alert...72 hours after the biggest win in their program's history, Tennessee goes into another in-state hornet's nest at Vanderbilt...the Vols smoked Vandy by 20 in out Bruce Pearl!!!...

    Wednesday, February 27
    #45 Ole Miss (18-8) @ #65 Kentucky (15-10)
    A month ago, the Rebels looked like a lock for the tournament...but over the last 10 games they are sputtering at 3-7...suddenly Kentucky is working their way back into the tourney picture...Big Blue is 9-3 in the conference and are 8-1 over their last nine including a win over Tennessee...

    #55 Texas Tech (15-11) @ #47 Texas A&M (20-7)
    T2 has won three of its last four games...if they want to mount a charge for the Big Dance, it begins against A&M, a team they beat earlier this season...

    #68 UAB (19-8) @ #83 UTEP (16-9)
    UAB won the earlier meeting...a UTEP win will help Conference USA get possibly four teams to the Big Dance...

    Thursday, February 28
    #20 Notre Dame (21-5) @ #14 Louisville (22-6)
    Right now, these may be the two best teams in the Big East...this should be a donnybrook...

    #66 Maryland (17-11) @ #62 Wake Forest (16-9)
    The Terps are coming off a loss at The U...this is a must win for Maryland...Wake is in better shape of making the tournament...

    #15 Michigan State (22-5) @ #13 Wisconsin (22-4)
    This is the only match-up of the season for these two Big 10 superpowers...

    Sunday, February 24, 2008

    Sunday Stories

    Chicago Sun-Times sports columnist Jay Mariotti is exasperated that Rex Grossman is back with the Bears... "Have you ever seen such a sorry quarterback hold a city hostage for so long? Welcome to Year Six of Turnoversaurus Rex, an experiment that should have ended last season but is prolonged to ad nauseum by an organization of dubious competence." ....
  • Jay Mariotti

  • To read more about the Kelvin Sampson fallout, check out the Indianapolis Star...
  • Indianapolis Star

  • The Kansas City Star has an interview with blogger demigod Will Leitch of Deadspin...
  • Will Leitch

  • New York Times reporter Ben Shpigel writes about Sandy Koufax's annual visit to the Mets spring training facility... "Koufax, who has long enjoyed counseling players but rarely, if ever, speaks about it, put himself back into a spotlight that he has tried so hard to avoid." ...
  • Ben Shpigel

  • New York Times sports columnist George Vecsey writes about the early morning rise for Olympian Michael Phelps in preparation to time change in China... "He is turning his biorhythms upside down because he will be swimming finals in the middle of the morning in August, courtesy of the collaboration between the organizers of the Beijing Summer Games and that most capitalistic of entities, the National Broadcasting Company." ...
  • George Vecsey

  • Seattle Times sports columnist Jerry Brewer writes about the Mariners new pitching coach - Mel Stottlemyre... "He has mastered the subtlety of coaching. Even this early in spring training, with a staff he barely knows, Stottlemyre can make his points through looks and body language. When he speaks, he's normally positive." ...
  • Jerry Brewer