Sunday, March 26, 2006


File this one under the most improbable weekend in the history of the NCAA basketball tournament. At press, three #1's are watching the Final Four and the other is playing for it's life in Minnesota. A Pac-10 team looks like it can't lose, an SEC team has the best Big Baby in the tourney (sorry, J.J.) another SEC team could join the fun and as for the three power conferences, the Big Eleven, the Big 16 and the ACC, well, think about that watching the Final Four instead of playing again. And the biggest surprise in the whole thing is that one of the teams in the Final Four this year is the #11 George Mason Patriots.

Not Georgetown or George Washington or any other George school you might know. George Mason.

You have got to be kidding me.

The George Mason Patriots have gone on the most impressive tournament run not only in recent memory but probably ever. It was cool when Butler made a run a few years ago, and everyone was all over Gonzaga when they went ahead and made their run in 2001, but look at who Mason (as the locals call it) has played and, summarily beaten:

Rd. 1 - Michigan State (who was in the Final Four the year previous)
Rd. 2 - North Carolina (who WON the tourney last year - and forget about who they lost, they're UNC and teams like Mason generally fill up ACC schedules in November and are referred to as "cupcakes")
Rd. 3 - Witchita State (this was not a weak win. WSU had beaten Mason earlier in the year and had dispatched of their first round fodder with relative ease. GMU throttled them)
Rd. 4 - UConn (raise your hand if UConn was YOUR national champion for this year. That's right. Everybody.)

And now here they are, on the brink of taking their status as a trivia question (just wait for it, on sports shows in 10 years - what two teams have made it to the Final Four boasting #11 seeds (LSU '86, GMU '06)) and actually making something of it. UConn was the best team in this tournament but they were also the dumbest and didn't know how to play to their potential. Look at their first game against University of Albany, down 13 with 7:30 to play. It took a 39-19 run to end the game for Jim Calhoun and his team to be called winners. Good teams can go on that run. Great teams don't have to. Ever.

Can this team do what '86 LSU could not? Can they be the next '85 Villanova (it seems irony must have filled out a bracket, too, as GMU might have to go through 'Nova to win a title) and slay two mighty Goliaths? It's improbable. It's not impossible. Rewind to yesterday (Saturday) and remember what you were saying to yourself after the LSU/UCLA wins: "Man, UConn will kill either of those guys." I said it. You said it.

And now we get to the question of bandwagonning. With every single bracket now firmly entrenched six feet under, suddenly more than the school's 30,000 students will be rooting for the Patriots. I will be. UConn was my champion, beating Boston College in the Final Four, Duke in the championship. My bracket is more gone than Jimmy Hoffa. And the scary thing is, I think the Pats can do it. They'll have to beat a very fast, very proficient Florida or Villanova team to do it and then probably UCLA (though who trusts my picks right now?) in the final game. Mason is fast enough to hang with either team in game one and could shoot UCLA or LSU into the ground on a good night. I hate that I'm saying it but if GMU wins this thing, I won't be surprised. You beat MSU, UNC and UConn and you can beat anyone.

But let's go back to reality for just one second. A #11 seed cannot win a national championship. That's like a 9-3 team winning football, or anyone other than USC winning water polo, right?

We'll know in a week. more...

Wednesday, February 22, 2006


There has been a lot about hockey in the last few posts (thanks to Jed for some golf) but a few somethings must be said for Team USA.

They suck.

This is a talented squad of NHLers who are very good hockey players in all of their own rights. But as a team, they were nothing. They sucked even in their lone win against Kazakhstan. Miami's hockey team (#3 on this side of the pond) could have beaten the Americans over there.

They're old.

Your top two defensemen were in their teens when America won gold in Lake Placid. We're talking 40+. The forwards, too, were old (Mike Modano over 35, Tkatchuk as well, among others). The international game is bigger, faster and better and the Americans were too busy pulling up their Depends to chase after the younger, quicker talent from everywhere else in the world.

They're done.

We all know (if you follow hockey) that a lot of these guys were on the 1996 World Cup Championship team but that was 10 bloody years ago. The thought was to give some of these boys one more shot at glory, and after silver in Salt Lake, who could blame the organizers. If no one else will, I'm fine doing it. Look at the rosters of the other teams. Rick Nash (21 years of age) on Canada with Syd the Kid (younger still). Alexander Ovechkin (under 22) for the Russians. Jussi Jokinen for the Fins. Across the globe, rosters filled with twentysomethings, not thirty/fortysomethings. These guys were good and now their reign as America's team is over.

At least Canada lost, otherwise this would be the most disapointing tourney in olympic history. more...

Monday, January 23, 2006


Feel free to argue, but I think this last weekend was one of the best I have seen in both NCAA and NBA basketball. I usually don't follow either sport until they begin to wind down, but I took a more vested interest in both this year and it paid major dividends on Saturday and Sunday.

For starters, I grew up in a household with two Georgetown graduates. My father is one of them and he is also the biggest Hoya hoops fan residing outside the greater Washington DC area (and even then...). He raised my brother and me root for the Hoyas before everyone else. He gave us nicknames based on former Hoyas (Jon, my brother was Alonzo and I was Dikembe. Why, I'll never know). He still has a standing deal with the two of us that the next time G'town makes it to the Final Four, we three are on the next flight there.

He also raised us to hate the Duke Blue Devils with the passion of 1000 burning suns. Now I have a healthy respect for such a great program, but I can't look at a picture of J. J. Reddick or Mike Kryadvnjzniohdofnoizhsoeihf (Coach K, for short) without it looking like I just bit into a lemon, a lime and a few bars of soap and chased it all with a double of ammonia. Put it this way, my two favorite days in college basketball are when I get to hear "One Shining Moment" and the day Duke loses their first game.

Something had to give on Saturday when the two met at the MCI Center in DC.

Needless to say, I have never seen a team get up to play like G'town did that day. They were out-passing, out-shooting, out-cutting and generally out-playing the best team in the country. My brother was in town for the game and the two of us were meandering around my house as the second half wound down. Suddenly, Duke cut it to a slim two-point margin, otherwise known as "J. J. for three, and Duke takes the lead". But that didn't happen. G'town scored again and finally went on to win in dramatic fashion without J. J. getting a touch on the final possession. I was elated. What a win for a program that has been so lackluster for so long recently. It reminds me of the days when A.I. was running the show and John Thompson was on the bench. I saw a little of that in Brandon Bowman and Ashanti Cook on Saturday. And there was a John Thompson on the bench, the legend's son, JT3. I know the Big East is incredibly deep, but G'town took a HUGE step on Saturday toward reestablishing itself on the grandest of scales.

Oh, and the other two undefeated teams in D-1 ball lost, too. Thought I'd point that out.

The NBA's weekend can be summed up in a single number: 81.

How is it possible that a weekend where upsets were the order of the day on Saturday as well as AFC/NFC Championship weekend could be topped by a regular season basketball game? Well, Kobe did it. Just weeks ago, every sports pundit was in a yelling match over why Kobe had taken himself out of a game after the third quarter with 60+ on his score sheet. Unselfish, they all screamed, but why not take history into your own hands and make a run at 70. Or 75. Or [gasp] 80 points in one game? "Bad Kobe! No soup for you!" they screamed.

Just before midnight, I turned to ESPN and saw Kobe Bryant notch point 80 and point 81 of the night.

I am not usually floored by regular season sports. When the Tribe came back from down 10 in the ninth a few years ago, I was impressed. When six Astros pitchers no-hit the Yankees a few years ago, I was satisfied. When the Columbus Blue Jackets net a tying goal with under 10 seconds to play and win in OT a few moments later, I was happy. But when I saw Kobe's line, my jaw dropped and I couldn't move. I have never been more flattened by a single performance. He lifted 48 shots from the floor, 13 from behind the arc and 20 from the line. My arms hurt just thinking about that. I have never been a huge Kobe fan, but nobody can deny his abilities. Kobe could score 100 in a game, and I think he will. Imagine if lowly Toronto had been able to keep up with him - five players against one - he could have gone into OT with the distinct possibility of netting over 100 points. My hat goes off to Kobe Bryant after the most impressive single feat I have ever seen since I have been a sports fan. more...

Monday, January 09, 2006

I Dey. I Dey Knew Dem Bengals Would Blow It.

Ok, this column is basically going to be very representative of the lot of my columns for this little website, so get used to it. My buddy Kopech and I have a little understanding between us that we we see people that are inferior to us in any way (which is often) we say that we, "get a funny feeling." Well, I had one of these funny feelings last night as I was walking back to my apartment with my girlfriend and my roommate. I spotted a couple of Bengals fans walking towards me, i could tell they were Bengals fans by their:

A. Smell
B. Ungodly amount of Bengals clothing (it was one in the morning on a Saturday... get serious)

As they proceed to pass me, I shout something tot he effect of "Here We Go Steelers." One of these rim jobs reaches into his pocket and says, "I've got something for you" and pulls an airhorn out of his pocket and blasts it in my ear. Read that sentence again, for it is completely true and insane at the same time. I have two people to corroborate the story, and countless others who I'm sure in the wee small hours of the morning were wondering who in the name of Stoney Case was FIRING OFF AN AIRHORN? This is the type of individual I have had to deal with this entire NFL football season. Thier team has one good year, and all of a sudden the world stops rotating every time Carson Palmer applies Quilted Northern to his underside.

Well, Karma Von Oelhoffen took care of that today on the first passng play from scrimmage for the Bengals. If you don't know why his first name is now "Karma" you might want to stop reading. This website isn't for you. The place went so silent after Palmer got carted off that Marvin Lewis called his son in Tampa to make sure he was still alive. Ok, so that one might have been below the belt, but so was ol' Karma's hit, but both my comment and the hit were both perfectly legal. I have not heard any Bengals fans complain, but I haven't really had an opportunity to. It was legal, get over it, this event was set in motion years ago. Sam Wyche and Joe Theisman both saw it coming.

I am hence forth ushering in a new theory that I think falls into play for the most part when referring to teams and coaches in the postseason: The Mark Richt Theory. This theory states taht unless you have an ungodly exceptional team or player, you will take baby steps in accomplishing success. Mark Richt proved this theory this year, and that is why he is the namesake... the Bengals just couldn't have expected to make a run in this year's playoffs, especially in the experience heavy AFC. Put it this way: if the quarterback on your favorite team has less playoff experience than Jake Plummer, he will crap the bed. Carson got hurt, Eli got shutout, Leftwitch got worked, and Simms didn't have a great game against the Skins, forcing Gruden to pull him and replace him with backup Jeff Hostetler. Big Ben played abysmal last year: experience matters in the NFL, and the Bengals didn't have it.

So, the Bengals will start anew just like everyone else who doesn't win the Super Bowl will eventually do, except this off season will be very telling as to whether or not the Bengals revert to mediocrity or rise as one of the elite teams in the NFL. Really just depends on the healing powers of Palmer. If I were a betting man, which I'm not, you have to like the odds on the Bengals heading south after the loss of thier first legitimate quaterback since Scott Mitch-- Jon Kit-- Boomer Es-- Akili... well, you get the point. more...