30 June 2008

ESPN BYU Football Preview

ESPN.com published an involved preview of BYU's upcoming football season today.

It's pretty good, with a couple omissions and mistakes. That said, the attention is nice.

A year ago, the Cougar offense graduated nearly every significant skill position player, and yet the offense never missed a beat. It's doubtful Mendenhall would push The Quest if he didn't think he had the horses on defense, and his track record grants him the benefit of the doubt.

For Hawaii and Boise State, BCS anticipation built over the course of the season. For the Cougars, it will be there from outset, and the games against Washington and UCLA will go a long way toward determining their postseason fate before the third week in September ends.

A good summary. Can't afford to go 1-2 to start this season, as BYU did the last two years. I don't want to see a top-20 start squandered.

26 June 2008

2008 NBA Draft

I love the NBA Draft. I love watching perennial lottery teams mess up over and over again, I love watching San Antonio pick guys from Europe you've never heard of and I love that it's over in four hours and not two days or three weeks (I'm looking at you, NFL and MLB).

So here we are, at the conclusion of another successful NBA draft. And by successful I mean none of the draftees attacked or hugged David Stern (and I'm not sure which one would be worse for him).

Again, I believe this draft is exceptionally weak. Rose and Beasley will be good players, solid players, but not franchise guys. I don't see anyone else doing amazingly well either, but there are always two or three later picks that end up being All-Stars, so I'm not saying the class is entirely devoid of overachievers.

Real quick Utah thoughts: I guess I'm okay with the Jazz's picks. Though I must admit I stared at the T.V. and yelled "IT'S OKUR VERSION 2!" when ESPN was talking about Kosta Koufos. Big, European, can't bang down low, not very athletic, likes to play outside. I mean, Okur is great and all (and I doubt Kofas has his range), but we have one of him already.

The other two picks the Jazz will stash in Europe and most likely will never see the United States. And shoot, Koufos might just go to Europe, as well.

I know we need a good center, but let's not draft centers just to draft centers. Here's hoping Fes can be the guy we need next season.

A recent interview by a Jazz guy on Utah sports radio indicated that Fes will be ready to go. So we'll see.

25 June 2008

Len Bias

My family moved to Springfield, Massachusetts in the summer of 1986. I was four years old at the time and not exactly sports-inclined, but if I had been, I would have been right in the middle of the chaos that surrounded the events following Len Bias' death.

But I was too little to be aware of who the Celtics were, let alone what Bias' death meant to the franchise. So I appreciate ESPN's Michael Weinreb's taking a very in-depth look at the tragedy, 22 years after it happened. I view the piece as an excellent example of quality sports journalism.

Definitely worth the read.

Pre-draft NBA news

It's good to see teams get to making moves this offseason. The Celtics and Lakers proved what a huge and immediate impact one good (or dirty) trade can have on your team, so why not see what you can get?

ESPN reports that the Raptors are sending T.J Ford, Rasho Nesterovich and the 17th pick in this year's draft to Indiana for Jermain O'Neal. There will have to be another player or two moved to make the contracts match up, but this is the essence of the deal.

I like this trade, but I'd like it more if I was confident that O'Neal will be healthy. Obviously Toronto has chosen Jose Calderon over Ford, so moving him isn't that big of a deal for them. But a frontline of Bosh and healthy Jermaine is highly impressive, especially in the east.

The Pacers get a good point guard (Ford is great when healthy) to replace Jamaal Tinsley, and ship someone who's essentially worn out his welcome in Indiana. Jermaine is owed $21 and $23 million over the next two seasons, and if he's not healthy, that's money burned. Ford racked up a few double-digit assists games for the Raptors early in the season before he got hurt.

Of course, that leaves Jeff Foster, Ike Diogu and David Harrison manning your frontcourt, so the Pacers may want to make another trade or draft accordingly to shore that up.

It's apparent that the key cog for this trade is health. A healthy Ford and O'Neal makes this trade a good one for both teams. Otherwise, one team or the other or both are getting the short end of the stick in the long run.

A more dynamic Deron Williams?

Boy, am I sick of the hype surrounding this year's NBA draft class. I've already made my feelings clear; I think we'll look back on 2008 as a weak year for talent.

Today I was watching ESPN's pre-draft coverage, and Jay Bilas labeled Derrick Rose as a "more dynamic Deron Williams."


Let's clarify what "A is a more _____ B" means, first. To me, this means B is everything A is, and even more, ie. what is in the blank. For example, "Peja is a more sane Vujacic," or "Pixar is a more intelligent Disney."

I agree that Rose is fast, quick, and can get to the hoop. He may even be better at out-quicking defenders while driving to the rim than Deron is.

But the one thing everyone glosses over is Rose's vision. Can he see teammates for open baskets? Can be anticipate plays before they develop? Can he break down a half-court defense and create good offense for his guys?

I doubt it. Rose only averaged 4.7 assists in 30 minutes per game this last season. Memphis scored 80 points a game, which means Rose created less than 10 points per game (or 12.5%) of his team's offense though his passing.

On the other hand, Deron averaged 6.7 assists in 33 mpg in 2004, with Dee Brown sharing the ball distribution to the tune of 4.5 apg. Illinois scored 76 ppg that year. Hence, Deron was responsible for almost 13 points per game (or 17%) of his team's offense, while sharing the dimes with Brown.

I expect Rose to average around six or seven assists per for his career high, while shooting a rather low percentage on his jumpers.

I certainly don't see him averaging 19 and 10, while shooting 50% from the field and 40% from the 3.

Essentially, Rose is a more quick Kirk Hinrich.

Can Rose come to Chicago and make the Bulls go? To be honest, I don't think there are many players who can. When your headline players are... um.... Luol Deng, and uh... Larry Hughes, and.... Ben Gordon, I guess, there's not much to work with.

Oh, and Vinny Del Negro is your coach. No offense to Vinny, but it's common knowledge that he was like Chicago's sixth choice after they fired Scott Skiles.

I guess what I'm trying to say is this: Rose won't make the Bulls a playoff contender any time soon.

And if he does, please feel free to bring up this post and mock me.

24 June 2008

Draft thoughts

I don't usually get too involved in prospective NBA players, just like I don't usually care about college football or basketball recruits. Drafting and recruiting are crapshoots for the most part. How many top-5 picks in the NBA draft have turned out to be giant busts? Kwame Brown, Joe Smith, Michael Olowokandi, Shawn Bradley... the list is pretty long.

It's hard to predict who will succeed in the NBA. Some players don't do much in college and turn out to have 10-year careers in the league. Others dominate in college and are out of the NBA within two seasons.

So with that in mind, I'm not going submit a mock draft, but here are some thoughts:

1. I'm not that high on Rose. He's freakishly quick and a decent shooter, but that puts him at the level of Devin Harris, in my book. Maybe he's a better distributor than he showed in college (4.7 apg), but if he's not, Chicago had better not be expecting him to come in and turn that team around.

2. I'm also not sold on Beasley. Recent reports put him at 6'8", which is small forward range. I was more excited when I thought he was 6'10", fair or not. I doubt he'll be able to post up power forwards in the NBA, which means he'll have to rely on his jumper, which is admittedly pretty sweet. Don't see him being a major impact player in the NBA, either.

3. How weird is it that seven years after Stanford produced twin centers who were drafted into the NBA, they do it again? I doubt they'll perform much better than their predecessors.

4. Apparently Roy Hibbert has been working his tail off and getting in shape. Thus, his stock has improved, and he should be gone by the time the Jazz's pick comes around. In that case, TRADE YOUR PICKS, UTAH. Develop Fesenko and Almond and Brewer. Don't bring in two new guys to muddle things up.

5. Mock drafts around the internet say that Plaisted has a face-up game. He never, ever, ever, EVER showed this in three years at BYU. Not once. Trent had exactly one move: back the defender down, then flip a pseuso-hook shot over his left shoulder from the key. If he has somehow developed the ability to face the basket and hit a jumper since March, I will be highly astounded.

That's about all that interests me about this year's draft. I think it's fairly weak. We'll see.

22 June 2008

Pet peeve alert

Today I received a forwarded e-mail about the difference between men and women. Normally I don't bother reading forwards past a short skim, but a cursory examination of this one revealed the monologue was an excerpt from Dave Barry's Complete Guide to Guys, and one that I happen to love.

The problem? The e-mail was headed by this brilliant remark:

Men And Women Are NOT The Same – Not Even CLOSE!
Author Unknown (But SMART!)

Now, I get that someone read this passage from Dave Barry, liked it a lot, and wanted to send it to their friends. Or maybe they read it on the internet, liked it a lot, and wanted to share it with their friends. That's fine, as long as they attribute the correct author.

But somewhere along the way, the information about who wrote this piece was lost.

Now look, in today's information age, it takes all of three seconds to find the truth. I know that's three seconds longer than it takes to read the anecdote, laugh, and click forward yourself, but please take the time.


Now that I'm calmed down, here's the passage on one of the many sites that have posted it (note the correct attribution on this one.)

20 June 2008


When I was younger, my family had Sim City 2000 on our home PC. I loved that game. I loved having control over a city; building roads and freeways, deciding where to build power plants and fire stations, raising and lowering taxes... good times.

One of the main programmers for Sim City was Will Wright. Wright took his act to further titles like SimCopter and the wildly successful The Sims.

But with Spore, he's shown some major genius. This trailer can explain the game more easily than I can, so here you go:

The concept alone knocks my socks off. To go from single-cell organism to galaxy-ruling species and everything inbetween sounds incredibly fun and interesting. And if anyone can pull off the level of detail and micromanagement required to get the realization of this concept correct, Wright can.

The game was announced in 2005 and is scheduled for release in America in September of this year.

Electronic Arts offered a free demo for download on Wednesday; it's the Creature Creator, a slice of the game where you can design your own... creatures. I've had fun with it so far. Here are two of my attempts:

I call this one Hairplug. Initially he was supposed to be a Tyrannosaurus Rex, but then I couldn't make his arms tiny enough. His walk is a bit wobbly. The game doesn't seem to favor bipeds much.

This guy is the first creature I made. His name is Brandosaur, and he's something of a mammalian scorpion.

The genius behind Spore is that almost everything in the game is user-generated. As the trailer showed, everything from the creatures to their homes to their cars and spacecraft are designed by the player. These can be uploaded to a central Spore server, and then compared with other user-generated content. Wright calls it a "massively single-player onlne game."

Brilliant. The sheer number of variations we see already is staggering.

I'm very excited for this game to ship.

19 June 2008

A retraction

In my latest political rantings post, I said Senator McCain does not support nuclear power.

Well, I messed up on that one. The New York Times reports he wants 45 new nuclear reactors to be built in America by 2030. The Times also says McCain has long supported using nuclear energy.

So there we go. Thanks for correcting me, leftist newspaper.

Though I enjoy how you couched a reference to the Three Mile Island incident.

Although there has been a shift of opinion in the industry and among some environmentalists toward more nuclear power — it is clean and far safer than at the time of the Three Mile Island nuclear accident in 1979 — most environmentalists are skeptical of the latest claims by its advocates. They also say that no utility will put its own financing into building a plant unless the federal government lavishly subsidizes it.

No mention that there were zero casualties at Three Mile? Zero injuries? Tiny amounts of radiation leaked? Of course not. The more you ignore those facts, New York Times, they more you can push the radical environmentalist agenda of "We Should Just Walk Everywhere."

Finding I was wrong about McCain prompted me to dig more deeply into Senator Obama's policies regarding this nuclear energy. I found this on his site:

Nuclear power represents more than 70 percent of our noncarbon-generated electricity. It is unlikely that we can meet our aggressive climate goals if we eliminate nuclear power from the table. However, there is no future for expanded nuclear without first addressing four key issues: public right-to-know, security of nuclear fuel and waste, waste storage, and proliferation. Barack Obama introduced legislation in the U.S. Senate to establish guidelines for tracking, controlling and accounting for spent fuel at nuclear power plants.

Well, it's good that he admits that we will need to use nuclear power, but he couches it in terms of stopping global warming, and not energy independence, which isn't entirely surprising. It also appears he needs a lot more federal government involvement in nuclear energy if he is going to support it. I am willing to bet that not a single nuclear power plant will be built during his presidency. I could be wrong, but that's the interpretation I see here.

Obama supporters, feel free to correct me.

Anyway, now McCain has three things going for him: conservative Supreme Court judges, nuclear power and our staying in Iraq until the job is done. I might end up voting for the guy after all. We'll see.

18 June 2008

A parting shot at the Lakers

L.A. Times sports columnist T.J. Simers took the Lakers to task today. Boy, is he upset.

One of my favorite parts:

They are an embarrassment. They went into the NBA Finals favored, the Celtics suffering injuries to several of their starters along the way, and still the Lakers could not measure up.

The Lakers had a 24-point lead at home, the best coach and player on their side, and they gagged.

Bam. I've always believed Jackson is overrated... the titles in Chicago are Michael's, not his. And winning in L.A. with two of the top-10 talents ever in the NBA was more a matter of keeping Kobe and Shaq from killing each other than any stretch of coaching genius. And even that didn't last very long.

And these Finals? Jackson either didn't care or he's not the second coming of Red Auerbach. Or he hates Kobe and decided it wasn't worth the effort to deal with him.

Interesting how the past couple weeks have majorly impaced the careers of so many individuals in the NBA. Doc Rivers went from beleaguered soon-to-be-fired coach to "better than Jackson?" Pierce went from second-tier NBA star to potential Hall of Famer. Garnett became Karl Malone with a ring. Kobe was exposed as far from clutch on the biggest stage basketball offers. Same with Jackson.

It's part of why I love this game. Everyone's got a story, and careers can be made or lost in one playoff series.

Time for politics

Now that the NBA season is over, there is a dearth of interesting sports to follow until college football in late August. Actually, this year we have the Olympics starting on August 8th, so the wait is shorter than usual.

That said, all we've got for the next 1.5 months is baseball and NASCAR. Meh.

So on to politics! The first presidential election I voted in was in 2000. I voted for George, Jr. that year and in 2004. I don't regret doing so in the least. The past eight years have been good ones, in my opinion. The economy has been good. There have been zero terrorist attacks on U.S. soil since 9/11. Bush has made decisions I disagree with; his refusal to deal with the border and lack of work on energy independence are big problems to me, but for the most part, I've been happy with where the country was going.

And here we are in 2008. For the first time since 1984, neither a Bush nor a Clinton is involved in the general election. That's a pretty long time.

Yet in spite of this "new" political climate, I don't like either of these guys. It's fairly depressing that out of 300 million Americans, Obama and McCain are the best we can do.

Neither of them will do a thing about the border. They're both believers in the gospel of Prophet Gore's Climate Change. Neither of them will push for nuclear power.

Sure, McCain will select more conservative judges to fill vacancies in the Supreme Court. But as far as I can tell, that's the only positive he's got going for him.

And don't even get me started on the economy. Here's Obama's latest attempt to show how much he understands how things work:

Sen. Obama cited new economic forces to explain what appears like a return to an older-style big-government Democratic platform skeptical of market forces. 'Globalization and technology and automation all weaken the position of workers,' he said, and a strong government hand is needed to assure that wealth is distributed more equitably. He spoke aboard his campaign bus, where a big-screen TV was tuned to the final holes of the U.S. Open golf tournament.

Barack, technology weakens the position of workers? Computers, backhoes, tape recorders, cell phones, all this stuff makes workers more productive and therefore more valuable to employers.

Man, we're in for some hurting if this guy gets elected. Again, I doubt McCain will be any better. Sad that the one guy with a strong background in the public sector of business got bounced from the election for being Mormon.

Right now I'm planning on voting for a third-party candidate. If that helps give the presidency to Obama, so be it. In a twisted way, I hope the next four years of an extreme leftist president with a Democrat-controlled Congress will be horrible. Maybe that'll give the American people a kick to the pants and realize we need some common sense in Washington.

But then again, maybe not. Ugh.

Hooray Celtics

Congratulations to Boston, 2008 NBA Champions!

On the other hand, ugh. The rich get richer, as poor Boston fans who only had 16 championship banners hanging in their arena finally get one more. If they weren't playing the Lakers, and if they didn't have Kevin Garnett, I'd have rooted against them in the Finals.

So good job, KG. All those years languishing in Minnesota are finally exorcised. Your 26-point, 14-rebound performance was outstanding in the June 17th massacre that was Game 6 of the Finals.

And boo to Kobe. It's official, The Black Mamba is no #23. After being on fire early, Bryant ended the game with 22 points on 7-22 shooting and four turnovers. For those of you following along at home, that brings his shooting percentage for the Finals to a fabulous 40.4% (53-131).

Wow. Who is this guy, Allen Iverson?

Even with the ridiculous steal of a trade for Gasol, Kobe still isn't good enough to win a title without Shaq. Poor Kobe.

And for all you Laker fans out there pinning your hopes on Bynum coming back next year, I'd be a bit wary. Yes, the kid was impressive early this season, but recording 13 and 10 a game for a few weeks does not automatically mean he's the second coming of Kareem.

Besides, he was supposed to be back from knee surgery a few weeks ago. He's not. Isn't that a bit worrisome?

But by all means, keep being arrogant. It reminds me of Kobe in the first quarter of Game 6. "Not tonight!" he said. "Not tonight!"

A bit early for that kind of cockiness, Mr. The Black Mamba. Hopefully your fans can learn from your mistake.

Coming soon: NBA predictions for next season.

16 June 2008

Lakers limp to their second win

The Lakers beat the Celtics by five points at home. It was a two-point game with under two minutes to go. At home.

I can't imagine Laker fans are comforted. If their boys can barely squeak out two wins at home in the Finals, their odds aren't so great going back to Boston.

And what's up with Kobe? Gasol and Odom bailed him out of another bad shooting night. Forgive me for blaspheming, but recording 38% from the field in a must-win Finals game isn't exactly MVP-esqe. He's now shooting 42% for the series. Who is this guy, LeBron James?

Impressive show by the Spaniard and the headcase, unimpressive show by KG. Pierce did manage to score 38 points, but as my "Kobe Show" theory tells us, basketball is a team sport.

It's not that KG had a bad game, exactly. 54% shooting and 14 rebounds is fantastic most nights. But when you only take 11 shots and go 1-4 from the free-throw line, it doesn't much help your team. Not to mention he disappeared late again. He was a rebound machine over the last ten minutes, but offensively he was just plain awful. KG's performance late:

10:03 Offensive rebound

9:25 Turnover

8:08 Defensive rebound

7:26 Offensive rebound

6:58 Defensive rebound

6:39 Turnover

4:35 13-foot jumper

3:54 Makes 1-2 free throws

3:36 Fouls Gasol

2:31 Misses two free throws

2:03 Misses tip-in

2:03 Offensive rebound

0:30 Misses layup

0:30 Offensive rebound

0:16 Defensive rebound

Final tally: Four offensive boards, three offensive boards, two turnovers, 1-3 from the field, 1-4 from the free-throw line. Yikes.

Will the Lakers make history as the first team to win an NBA Finals after being down 3-1? Probably not. But they took the first step. Let's see how they do back East.

On a final note, I love how Kobe brought his daughters to the microphone with him while answering questions after the game. What a family guy. What a nice guy. All that stuff people say about him being a horrible jerk of a teammate must be false.

Long live Kobe!

13 June 2008

Frozen Wasteland

A reader asked why I named my blog From the Frozen Wasteland.

Snow earlier today.

Snow on Tuesday.

It's June.

That about sums it up.

Game 4

Boy, I picked the right night to get off work early.

I didn't have much to do at the office today, so I got it all done and headed home to catch Lakers/Celtics Game 4. I figured this would be a turning point in the series, but I didn't realize what a classic it would be.

The Lakers were playing perfect ball in the first quarter behind Lamar Odom, while Boston was about as terrible as they could be, missing layups and wide-open shots.

The Celtics were down 24 after one, the largest first-quarter deficit EVER in the NBA Finals. I wasn't ready to call the game, because three quarters is a long time, but it certainly was looking like the series would be 2-2 by tomorrow.

Boston played better in the second quarter while L.A. played worse, but that was to be expected. L.A. still led by 18 at the half after Jordan Farmar banked in a running 3-pointer as time expired.

The Celtics had every reason to come out flat in the third, but whatever Doc Rivers told his guys in the locker room worked. Boston came out and really clamped down on defense. The Lakers scored 15 and 18 points in the third and fourth quarters, which allowed Boston to dig themselves out of the hole they were in juuuuust enough.

KG answered some questions about his clutchness and willingness to bang down low. He settled for long jumpers too often, as usual, but I've started to come to terms with the fact that this is who he is. He's a 7-footer with mad skills and strength who prefers to take jumpers. It stinks, but okay.

Tonight he took it to whoever was guarding him at least six or seven times, with good results. And he didn't disappear down the stretch, like he did in Game 2.

He nailed a short jumper over Gasol with 7:13 left. Then he got fouled and nailed both free throws with 4:45 left. Another jumper with 2:10 left and a rebound in the last minute rounds off a solid late-game performance. Sure, Allen's drive and layup past The Machine was more high-profile, but Garnett's performance in the fourth was as important, in my opinion.

And then there was Kobe. Poor Kobe. When he shoots a lot he gets ripped on for being a ballhog (that would be me), and when he defers to his teammates, who then play terribly, he loses games. In the first half tonight, he let his teammates run wild, setting guys up for open shots and pretty much making the team go. Zero field goals and like seven assists for number 24 in the first two quarters.

Then Boston decided to play defense and suddenly his teammates were horrible. Odom disappeared after dominating in the first quarter. Vujacic was off all night, shooting 1-9. The lead started disappearing with seven minutes left in the third.

So Kobe decides it's KOBE SHOW TIME!

18 minutes later, and the Black Mamba ended up shooting 6-19 on the night. He's now 38 of 88 for the series, a solid 43%.

Can we please stop the Michael comparisons now? Please?

Shoot, you can argue that Ray Allen outplayed him tonight. 19 points, nine rebounds and some clutch shots late.

So here we are, on the brink of the Celtics' 32nd NBA Championship.

At least the series has been interesting.

11 June 2008


I was listening to Glenn Beck today on the way to work and was reminded of something that happened last year.

The Democrats took control of Congress in 2006, and the one thing they have actually accomplished since then (the only thing?) was raising the minimum wage. Of course, the New York Times hailed it as "a major victory to low-income workers."

Um, maybe not.

Glenn, in the link above, argues that raising the minimum wage merely causes employers to cut these minimum-wage jobs rather than pay the higher rate.

So in essence, the wage hike hurts those making the minimum wage most.


As Glenn concludes:

This is from the University of California. An economist out there found the 10% minimum wage hike cuts employment of young and unskilled workers by 8.5%. He says in the last 11 months alone, the U.S. minimum wage has increased by more than twice that amount. So if we are expecting a 20% minimum wage hike, we can expect a 17% drop in employment in uneducated workers. It's crazy.

Bingo. It's the problem of theory vs. reality, as applied by politicians. Thanks Congress!

But of course, we all know unemployment is rising due to President Bush's policies. Or Iraq somehow.

Rodeo thoughts

As part of my internship with the Post-Register, I'm covering the Idaho State High School Rodeo Finals this week. To be honest, I'd never even been to a rodeo before yesterday.

Unfortunately, like most outdoor sporting events so far this summer, it was freezing. Cold wind, overcast sky, everyone wearing heavy coats and many had gloves.

Good ridin' and ropin' weather, I suppose. :)

Anyway, watching the high school students get out there and try to tie up a goat in under five seconds or rope a calf in under 10, I realized how small the window is in rodeo.

A kid can spend weeks and months practicing and working on an event, and then he or she has one, maybe two shots, at getting it right in front of a couple thousand people against other kids who have worked as hard as they have.

Talk about stress. I doubt I could rope the hind legs of a calf in a hundred tries (much like my attempts at slacklining), and here these teenagers are getting it done in one shot. But at the same time, there were plenty of competitors who didn't get it done, and I can't imagine it was for lack of effort or preparation.

It's like if the NBA Finals consisted of Kobe Bryant shooting a single free throw... into a moving hoop. And then Ray Allen gets a single free throw attempt into the moving hoop. Whoever gets the ball into the hoop first, wins the whole deal.

Small window, indeed.

Anyway, fun times. I'm heading down again either Thursday or Friday to do an interview or two.

Finals Game 3

I was busy covering a rodeo last night, so I missed the entire Lakers/Celtics game.

After I got home and checked out the box score, I felt better about that.

What an ugly, ugly game.

Kobe, Allen and Vujacic played well. Lakers-2, Boston-1. Lakers pull out the ugly win. Simple math.

Pierce was 2-14? Garnett shot 6-21? Odom and Gasol combined for 5-18 for 13 points. Good golly, the spirits of Detroit/San Antonio 2005 were strong last night.

Kobe was apparently brilliant. 60% shooting from the field and seven rebounds is a good line. Of course, his 18 free-throw attempts are completely fair, despite the fact that KG took two free throws and Pierce only took three. Kobe is entitled to take 18-30 free throws in any given game. For him to take less than that is a travesty.

And as Section F Sports says, The Machine should be starting over Vlad the Impaler, and it's not even close.

In essence, Laker fans should be extremely worried. In a game that was essentially do-or-die for L.A., only two of their players showed up. They only scored 87 points. At home. And you're not going to see a Boston team where KG and Pierce both stink up the joint.

So keep looking forward to next season and the return of Andrew Bynum, heir to the throne of Wilt Chamberlain. Then you'll be unstoppable.

But this just isn't your year, dirty Gasol trade notwithstanding.

09 June 2008

This commercial freaks me out

The dark, soulless eyes of the children scare me to death.


Two thoughts about our energy crisis:

1. Congress is responsible for us being entirely at the mercy of our enemies for oil (in other words, $4/gallon oil). American oil companies can't drill in Alaska. They can't drill off our coasts. (And yet, China and Cuba can.) It's estimated that we could be completely self-sufficient for oil if not for the environmental groups screaming that drilling for oil would destroy the planet.

Now, obviously oil isn't the best form of energy for the environment. Cars and planes and busses that run on gasoline pollute the air. But at this point in time it's our most efficient method for getting from point A to B. Until new technology catches up to internal combustion engines, this is where we have to be.

This brings me to my second thought:

2. Nuclear. It's time we stopped being petrified of the ghosts of Cherynobl and Three Mile Island. France is almost entirely powered by nuclear. If the French can do it, why on earth can't we? Yes, the disposal of nuclear waste is an issue, but so far a 100% clean form of energy does not exist. And nuclear waste can be safely stored. When the perpetual motion machine is invented, I'm all for going for that. Until then, nuclear it is.

And for transportation, let's go electric. Electric powered by nuclear is the best option we have right now, in my opinion. And the electric car is almost here. The whack-job environmentalists who have got us into this mess have a choice with three options. Either a.) let us drill for oil on our own soil, b.) let us go nuclear or c.) knock us back to the Stone Age, technologically.

It seems that far too many of these people are bent on Option C.

So here we are. I have zero confidence that either Obama or McCain will pursue a nuclear/electric course, so who knows where we'll end up in a few years?

Gotta love politics.

08 June 2008

Well, L.A. made it interesting

The Celtics seem intent on giving as many of their fans as possible a major heart attack this postseason. How do you let the Lakers come back from a 20-point deficit with under eight minutes left?

Well, for one, KG disappeared. Garnett's last contribution to the game was a hitting a jumper with 7:54 remaining. This made it 95-71. After that? Nothing. No rebounds, no made baskets, no blocked shots, nothing. He did miss two shots, so maybe he was somewhat involved.

And for two, the Lakers made a bunch of threes. Fisher hit one, Vujacic made two, Radmanovich made one... it was raining 3-pointers for those last few minutes.

And for three, Boston got dead lazy. I know that the lead seemed insurmountable, but you can't just stop playing with over seven minutes to go. Pierce made a lazy pass that Radmanovich took in for a dunk, no one rotated onto Fisher for the three he hit, and overall, the offense for Boston looked stagnant.

As much as I enjoy bagging on Kobe, I can't really put this loss on him. Sure, he went into full I AM KOBE FEAR ME mode in the third quarter, taking bad shots, making bad passes, staring down his teammates, sulking on the bench, but other than that, he was great. 30 points, eight assists, four rebounds on 11-23 shooting is good enough to satisfy me.

For most of the third and fourth quarters, defense was the problem for L.A. When Leon Powe is getting dunk after dunk after dunk, you may want to rethink your strategy, Phil.

Looks like most of ESPN's "expert picks" are hanging by a thread, if not completely blown up already.

If the Lakers don't win the next four games, seven of these ten "experts" are wrong. How can I get one of their jobs? I can be wrong as often as they are, I promise!

I think part of the problem here (re: the predicitons) is that the Lakers run through the West wasn't as impressive as many people believe. Yes, the Western Conference was very very deep this year. Yes, there were eight 50-win teams at the end of the regular season.

Buuuut... the road for L.A. wasn't exactly grueling. Denver was a joke. Until Utah develops a modicum of interior defense, they're not going to give a great team any problems. And San Antonio is not the San Antonio of 2007. Duncan was great, but faltered down the stretch more than once. Manu was hurt, and the role players didn't play their roles very well.

I don't want to take away too much from the Lakers, who are a very scary team and will remain so for a long time, but I think the way they ran through the West is a bit misleading.

So on we go. Given the Celtics' inability to win on the road in the playoffs, I wouldn't be extremely surprised if they lost all three in L.A., but it would be an impressive move for the Lakers. I say the Lakers win two of the three, then win Game 6, forcing a Game 7 in Boston.

Finally, how impressive has Rajon Rondo been? He follows up a very solid 15 and 7 game by handing out 16 assists and only two turnovers in Game 2. He didn't shoot especially well, but if he's getting his teammates going like that, I don't care. The way this second-year 22-year old has adjusted to the bright lights of the Finals has been fun to watch.

Oh, and a quick thought on the officiating. Can we please stop looking at free throws attempted as a sign as to whether the officiating was fair or not, announcer guys? I know the Lakers were outshot 38-10 from the line tonight, but show me clear-cut examples of fouls against L.A. players that were not called and then we can discuss unfair officiating.

The times I've complained about free-throw disparity for the Jazz, I've had at least four or five examples to point to in support.

And besides, Laker fans complaining about the refs is as laughable as anything there is in the NBA.

Back to Los Angeles we go.

NBA Finals thoughts

So far, so good for the Celtics. They got exactly what they needed out of Game 1. Kobe was intent on taking difficult shots from the get go; I watched him attempt at least three tough fadeaways from the baseline in the first quarter alone.

And after realizing he wasn't getting touch-foul calls (like he did against Utah), he started settling even more for long jumpers. You can't stop Kobe, but the best thing you can do it force him into tough looks and hope the shots don't fall. On Thursday, they didn't.

Kevin Garnett, Powe and Perkins manhandled Gasol and Odom, just like Boston needed. Rondo played very well, an unexpected bonus. Allen, while not scorching from outside, got to the free-throw line and hit his freebies. And we all know about Pierce.

Kobe took 26 shots; his teammates took a combined 51. Perfect.

Now, Boston can't expect 70% shooting out of Pierce every night, nor rely on Rondo to give you 15 and 7 on average. But as Simmons has been saying, this team is full of guys who will step it up one game and disappear the next. The Celtics don't need six guys to play spectacularly every game; they just need KG, Allen and Pierce to play well and then some combination of the remaining 12 to show up. Risky, but it's worked so far.

More BYU football hype (2)

Boy, going 11-2 two years running certainly gets the attention of the media. Rivals.com, a recruiting website, posted thoughts from several sports writers about which non-BCS conference race will be the most intriguing.

BYU got a lot of love.

BYU already is the quasi-media darling when it comes to possible BCS "interlopers." Quarterback Max Hall guides what should be a powerful offense, though the defense has some questions. The Cougars haven't lost a conference game in two seasons and play two Pac-10 teams in September. If they win their games against UCLA and Washington, be prepared for more "BYU in the BCS" talk.

I'm getting excited. Less than 100 days to kickoff.

05 June 2008

Last-second Finals preview

Yikes, Game 1 of the Finals starts in two hours and I have hardly mentioned the Lakers/Celtics matchup.

Quick rundown of position winners and losers:

Point guard: Fisher has experience, Rondo has athleticism. Rondo has surprised me with his nerves this postseason, so I don't think the jitters will get the best of him in the Finals. He's quick and long, and I see him causing big trouble for Fisher on both ends of the floor. That said, Fisher is crafty. He knows how to draw fouls and sneak around screens and stuff like that. I've got to call this a draw.

Shooting guard: Kobe is the best player in the league. Lakers win this one hands-down. That said, Allen is a major key for the Celtics this series. If he's hitting 3-pointers at a 40% clip, I really really like Boston's chances in this series. If he's terrible (like he was for most of the playoffs), the Celtics are in deep trouble.

Small forward: Vlad vs. Pierce. Radmanovic has been a major head-scratcher for me all playoffs. It seems he'll come out incredibly hot at the start of games, hit three or four shots in the first quarter, then disappear for the final three quarters. Pierce has sort of been the same way. He's taken over at times (41 points in Game 7 against Cleveland, 27 versus Detroit in Game 6), and other times has hardly shown up at all. However, Pierce carried a bad Celtics team for years... Vlad has never been anything but a fourth or fifth option on a team. Edge Celtics.

Frontcourt: Odom/Gasol vs. Garnett/Perkins. This is a tough one. Garnett is the most talented of everyone involved here, but I worry about his penchant for taking fadeaway 15-footers when he can destroy people down low. If KG comes out hungry and wanting to dominate Odom and Gasol, he will. But unfortunately for Celtics fans, KG doesn't seem have this killer instinct.

Perkins is surprisingly good on the block, but Odom and Gasol both outclass him. KG decides who wins in the frontcourt; if he's insane killer KG, Boston gets the edge. Otherwise, it goes to the Lakers. Edge: Even.

Bench: Walton, Farmar, Turiaf and The Machine vs. Powe, Brown, ET, Big Baby and Eddie House. Sasha has been pretty darn good for L.A., and P.J. has gotten some good minutes for Boston. Otherwise, neither team seems to have an edge on the other.

Finally tally: Celtics 1, Lakers 1, four draws.

Apparently I think the series will not be Lakers in five, like many sports columnists are saying.

Also, the game schedule doesn't help L.A., in my opinion. Two away, three home, two away is tough. If they can't put the Celtics away in five, which would require them to win one of the first two in Boston (where the Celtics have been nigh unbeatable), going back to Boston for Games 6 and 7 is fairly daunting.

My final call? Boston in seven.

Of course, I was dead wrong about the conference finals, so please do not gamble based on this pick.

Thank you.

04 June 2008

The Jazz love Hibbert?

The Salt Lake Tribune reports that former Georgetown center Roy Hibbert worked out for the Jazz Wednesday.

And apparently they're pretty high on him.

I'm going to preface my comments by saying I haven't watched many of Hibbert's games. But from what I did see, I wasn't impressed.

Sure, he's 7'2". Sure the Hoyas went 100-36 while he was there. Sure he averaged over two blocks a game this past season.

But darn it, Hibbert's slow. And as a senior he only averaged 13.4 points and 6.4 rebounds per game. I know Georgetown played a very slow style of ball, but still. Six rebounds?

Not to mention how he completely disappeared against Davidson in the NCAA tournament last March.

Though to be fair, the Jazz don't need scoring as much as they need an interior presence on defense. If Hibbert can affect shots and stop the constant parade to the hoop Jazz opponents enjoy, maybe I'd be fine with him.

But if Fesenko can be that guy, why roll the dice on Hibbert? I guess if the Jazz do draft Hibbert, we'll know how they feel about the Fes.

Obama's victory speech

Well, Hillary's done and Obama's pretty much got the Democratic nomination for president sewn up. Some highlights from Obama's victory speech last night:
...generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal; this was the moment when we ended a war and secured our nation and restored our image as the last, best hope on Earth.
First off, last I checked we provide dang good medical care for the sick in America. Is it "free"? No. But if I need medical attention, I can get it. And so can you.

Jobs for the jobless? Unemployment in America is at 5%. You can't get much lower than that, as this statistic includes those who choose not to work.

And if it does get lower? The AP complains.

Call me a narrow-minded Republican apologist, but I believe any American citizen who wants to work, can find work. But good luck improving on that unemployment number while pursuing wacko environmentalist policies, Obama. Such policies put a major hurt on factory workers, people you've claimed to support while campaigning in places like Detroit.

And then there's my favorite statement from Obama. "...when the rise of the oceans began to slow." In informing friends and family about this statement, I mistakenly recalled him saying "when the oceans began to recede," which isn't exactly what he said, but still the general idea.

Now look, the science behind global warming is far from solid. As my friend Stuart said, it's certainly new, and all new science is shaky.

That said, this stuff is accepted as gospel by a lot of people, Congress included.

Okay, so let's pretend for a second that there was a 100% clear-cut connection between humanity and the earth warming. The government does things like restrict pollutants from American companies and fine people for using too much electricty. America's emissions go down 50%.

Guess what? China and India are still doing whatever they want in regards to industry and their economy. They're the biggest emissions offenders in the world, and even if the U.S. went back to the Stone Age, it wouldn't make much of a dent in the overall picture.

So good luck with that whole making the oceans recede thing, Senator Obama.

Finally, Obama essentially pledges to end the Iraq war, if I understood him right.

How? No idea. Maybe he will immediately initiate a complete withdrawal of U.S. troops from the country if elected. I suppose that would "end the war," but if we leave behind a giant mess, how will that improve our standing in the international community?

Besides, things are improving in Iraq. May had the lowest number of American soldier deaths since the war began. Things are stabilizing. Here's a good read from the Wall Street Journal about why we went to Iraq and the current situation there.

In all, impressive speech, Barack. More rhetoric entirely void of factual statements, but what else is new? The man excels at the political game. Whether he can actually get anything (productive) done if elected is another thing entirely.

In a related note, I really don't like McCain. And I'm not alone in this. From what I read and listen to, even those accused of being Republican shills (Rush, Hannity, Beck, Ingraham) don't like McCain. Odd. I thought these guys would vote for anyone with an elephant by their name.

Anyway, it looks like I'll be voting for an Independent this November. I'd better start researching candidates.

03 June 2008

Your daily reminder the Gasol trade was horrible (Day 2)

Michael Heisley, owner of the Memphis Grizzlies, has recently voiced concerns that maybe the Gasol-for-Brown trade wasn't the best value he could get for his All-Star forward.

I really don't have any commentary here. Just read the story.

02 June 2008

Radical Islam is radical

It's been two years since the uproar over those Danish political cartoonists taking on radical Islam by drawing Muhammad.

Problem is that for Muslims, portraying Muhammad in any way, whether it be through paper, film, or even audio, is big-time offensive.

I'm taking a Middle East History class, and we watched a film on early Islam. Muhammad never appeared on screen. And if Muhammad said something in a particular situation, the camera viewpoint would switch to first-person for him and music would play while he "spoke."

So Muslims take this pretty seriously.

Seriously enough that some of the more hardcore followers of Islam decided that these Danish political cartoonists drawing Muhammad a few times was an offense deserving of a severe response.

And by "severe reponse," I mean "death threats and bombings."

Eventually the furor died down, I think there were some apologies, everyone forgot about the whole thing.

Now, I can understand why devout Muslims would be upset about these cartoons. The image of Muhammad is sacred to them, as there are certain aspects of my religion that are sacred to me. When these aspects of my faith become the object of mockery, I get upset.

And on another level, I can see how these cartoons blaming the prophet Muhammad for the violence in Islam is also offensive. While Muhammad did battle in his day, this was more a product of his environment and culture than anything that was part of what being a Muslim is, in my opinion. He would never condone suicide bombers targeting civilians or the actions taken by other terrorists today.

But enough is enough.

Apparently Muslim terrorists bombed the Danish embassy in Pakistan earlier today, killing at least eight people.

Killing innocent people in response to cartoons was ridiculous three years ago.

Killing innocent people in response to those same cartoons today? Insane.

Man, I know these guys aren't mainstream examples of Islam, but it would be nice to hear some outrage from those who are mainstream Muslims. And maybe some action? Maybe?

This could be happening, but I've done some digging and haven't found any evidence of disapproval from the Middle East.

Your daily reminder the Gasol trade was horrible