23 November 2008

What a weird game

I figure anyone who cares about the Holy War 2008 watched the game, so I won't be rehashing every aspect of the game. Here are three points I'd like to make:

1. I've never seen a more egregious instance of one player losing a game entirely on their own in a team sport. Max Hall was beyond atrocious... I think I could have played better and I have the arm of a 10-year old. Five of the six interceptions were just terrible decisions or bad throws (or both), and he just dropped the ball on his lost fumble. My wife has the theory that Hall somehow developed colorblindness and can no longer distinguish red from green. It wouldn't surprise me, because how many times did Max rear up and throw while a Ute defender was right in his grill? He had at least five or six balls tipped at the line. How else do you explain his interception right before halftime, where he threw the ball directly to a Ute linebacker who was all by his lonesome in the middle of the field? 

2. Robert Anae deserves some of the blame here. With BYU trailing 27-24 in the third, and Hall having already coughed up the ball three times, he should have called more running plays. Fui averaged 9 ypc and Unga over 7 for the game; the Cougar running game completely outmatched the Ute defensive front, and to not take advantage of that when your quarterback is obviously rattled is just dumb. 

3. I'm giving props to Brian Johnson for a nearly perfect line, but to put this in perspective, BYU's secondary and linebackers are horrific this season. Slow, unathletic, and not football-smart. We can welcome BJ to the Hall of Quarterbacks Who Torched the BYU Secondary in 2008. He'll have plenty of company. 

Matty Gibb won the prediction contest with a guessed score of Utah 38, BYU 24. He also predicted Collie would rack up 94 receiving yards, very close to Collie's actual number of 104. His Amazon.com gift certificate is on its way. 

Way too many participants believed BYU's defense could hold Utah to under 30 points, and that hurt them. The funny thing is, without Max giving the Utes short fields for the entire second half, it's possible Utah is held to under 30. Unfortunately, the turnovers practically gave points to the Pirates/Utes/Birds, and with how bad the defense is, the offense can't afford to sabotage them like that. 

21 November 2008

Knicks dealing, can the Jazz take advantage?

The Knicks apparently traded Jamal Crawford to Golden State for the discontent Al Harrington earlier today, and now it's rumored they're moving Zach Randolph to the Clippers for Cutino Mobley and Tim Thomas.

Does this mean the Clips are now willing to let go of Kaman? They don't need Camby, Randolph and the Caveman, right? I'm still in favor of a Kaman for Boozer move, or even a Kaman for Okur trade.

Make it happen, Jazz.

19 November 2008

Beck to Harline, 2006

Former BYU corner Quinn Gooch runs a blog named Deep Shades of Blue. Obviously he has some connections to the program, both past and present, and is able to provide fans good insight into BYU football they would otherwise not get.

Today he asked John Beck to post his thoughts about the final, game-winning drive in the 2006 edition of the Holy War. Here's a link to John's take. It's well worth the read. Definitely got me in the mood for the rivalry game on Saturday. 

17 November 2008

It's time

In exactly five days, BYU will play at Utah for the 84th meeting between the two schools. BYU is 10-1, and with their win over Air Force on Saturday, earned their 10th win for the third straight season in a row. The Cougars can earn a share of the MWC title with a win. Utah is 11-0, and looking to secure their second BCS bowl berth in four years. By beating BYU, they will earn their third outright conference championship in fifty years. 

The Holy War: there's no other rivalry in the country like it, and this year it seems there is more riding on it for both teams than most. 

If BYU wins: they spoil Utah's shot at getting into a BCS bowl, and most likely open the way for the Boise State Broncos to get in, instead. They also get a part of the conference championship for the third straight year. 

If Utah wins: they go undefeated in the regular season, obtaining the goal BYU players set for themselves last summer. BCS money and prestige is theirs. 

Who will win?

No idea. The Cougars could win, the Utes could win. The only surprising thing would be for one team to get blown out. 

With the uncertainty, I'm running a Prediction Contest! To enter:

1. Post your prediction of the final score in the comments section of this post. 

2. As a tiebreaker, also post how many total yards Austin Collie will rack up on Saturday.

Example: BYU 27-Utah 24, Collie yards: 132. 

You have to have posted your prediction by Thursday at midnight. Any late predictions will not be counted. 

The winner will receive a $10 Amazon gift card and bragging rights for all their friends and family. 

12 November 2008

Basement-dwellers match up

For tonight's prediction, I chose Kings (3-5) at Clippers (1-6). Californian basketball fans go head-to-head (though I'll bet they all just bandwagon for the Lakers lately) in a game between two underachieving teams. 

Sure, the Clippers are always bad, but this roster is better than 1-6. Baron Davis, Ricky Davis, Cutino Mobley, Chris Kaman, Marcus Camby? That's a decent squad. And they were missing Davis and Camby for a couple games early, so that explains at least two of the losses. And their schedule has been tough so far. Utah twice, the Lakers, and the Rockets... all playoff teams in the West. And the Clips did beat Dallas on Sunday, 103-92. 

Then we have Sacramento. The NBA experts were predicting that Kevin Martin was due for a breakout season, but so far, he's disappointed. Believe me, I know... I drafted him on my fantasy team. K-Mart II is averaging 22 ppg on 45% shooting, while hitting only 1.3 3-pointers a game at a 25% clip. Not exactly Kobe or even a healthy T-Mac numbers. 

Brad Miller continues to age ungracefully; last night he had five (FIVE?) shots blocked and scored seven points on 16 shot attempts. Yikes. 

And when you realize that John Salmons and Mikki Moore are starters for this team, you wonder how they've managed to win three games. I take it back, this team is clearly overachieving at this point in the season. Though claiming victory over Minnesota, Memphis and Golden State isn't exactly an indication that the Kings are ready for the playoffs, three wins is three wins. 

I'm taking the Other L.A. Team tonight. Clippers 93, Kings 83.

2-0 on the week, 5-13 on the season

11 November 2008

Deron's back

Deron Williams is unexpectedly back in action tonight against Philadelphia. I hope he's not rushing things with the temporary departure of Okur, but I guess we'll see. 

It's Deron's debut to the 2008-2009 season, and while I don't expect him to put up ridiculous numbers, I'd like to see a 10 and 6 kind of game from him. 

My prediction for the game, and the night, is Utah 93, Philly 85. 

1-0 on the week, 4-12 on the season

10 November 2008

Thanks, Wizards

My evil plan worked; I managed to pick up a correct prediction last week (my first and only of the period) by picking against the Wizards. Washington fell to the Magic 106-81 Saturday in a game that wasn't close at any time. Hint: when Nick Young is your leading scorer (20 points), things are not going well for your team.

To start off this week, I'm looking at Raptors at Celtics. Toronto is one of this year's darlings, and ranked in the top ten in most Power Rankings I've read. The defending champs are 6-1, but manage to turn the ball over once every five possessions this season, which is a little disturbing.

Bosh is averaging 26 points per game; he's essentially carrying the team since Jermaine O'Neal has been MIA more often than not in 2008. Gee, who saw that coming? KG's numbers are down, and Ray Allen has been stone cold (for him), but the Celtics keep winning thanks to their increasingly well-known defense.

I see Boston winning this game. Kevin Garnett may wear down over the course of the season, but until he does, the Celtics are still a force to be reckoned with, especially at home.

Boston 94, Toronto 89

0-0 on the week, 3-11 on the season

In other news, not only is Deron out for another couple weeks, but Mehmet Okur is in Turkey with his ailing father for an undetermined amount of time. After dropping one to the Knicks Sunday, the Jazz really can't afford the loss of another starter at this point. Their next four games, all on the road, are as follows: Philly, Washington, Charlotte and Cleveland.

Now even without Deron, I'd feel pretty good about the first three games. None of those teams are showing any fire this season, but without Okur, I'm not sure how well Utah will perform. At this point I see them splitting, winning at Washington and Charlotte and losing to Philly and the Cavs.

Come back soon, D-Will.

And for those of you snickering at how poorly I'm doing with my Pick of the Night gimmick, feel free to leave your own predictions in the comments.

08 November 2008

Game of the night

Well, Dallas managed to lose after I picked them, again. While Billups looked pretty bad, Carmelo played well (28 points) and Nene chipped in 19 points. 

Winless on the week, I'm going to lower the difficulty level for myself. 

The winless Wizards are at Orlando tonight, and while the Magic (3-2)  haven't been as good as I thought they'd be this season, they should handle the no-Arenas Wiz. 

Orlando 114, Washington 92

0-5 on the week, 2-10 on the season

07 November 2008

Utes 10-0, now what?

So I haven't bothered to post much about BYU's season these past few weeks. Getting absolutely manhandled by TCU will do that to a guy. Just like that, BYU's hopes for another MWC title and BCS berth all but vanished. 

But Utah's ugly, ugly 13-10 win over the Frogs last night means the Cougars have a chance to get piece of the MWC championship, shared three ways. 

Just beat Utah. 

Can that happen? 

In this rivalry, anything can happen. As I'm fond of pointing out, since 1995, every Holy War has been decided by seven points or less except for 1996 and 2004. That's one heck of a rivalry. Utah isn't head-and-shoulders above BYU, so a win is possible, but it has to be in a shootout.

Utah uses a lot of misdirection and motion in their offense. Our linebackers are not nearly fast or smart enough to deal with that, and the safeties are useless in run support and worse on pass defense. The Utes will get their points. BYU's only hope is to score more, much like the UNLV and CSU games of the past two weeks. 

Can Utah shut down Austin Collie and Dennis Pitta? If they can (like TCU did), it's over. Hall loves those two more than life itself, and if he can't find them, he gets flustered. 

I'd like to believe Anae can form a gameplan to deal with that, and that Hall can follow it if he needs to, but the odds are low. 

Either way, the drama for the Holy War just got ramped up, big time.

Late April comes in early November this year

Last night's Portland/Houston matchup was classic late-season fare... both teams fighting to the bitter end, multiple clutch shots and defensive plays... good ball, even if it did end after 1 a.m., Eastern.

And even though the 101-99 final score means I was wrong on my Prediction of the Night once again, I didn't mind too much.

Thoughts on the game:

1. At the end of regulation, with the score tied, the Blazers had the ball with about twelve seconds left. They call a time out and then inbound the ball to Brandon Roy, who commences dribbling around, 30 feet from the hoop, as seconds tick away. Finally he makes a move towards the hoop, gets inside the 3-point line, and tries shooting over Ron Artest with two seconds left.

Artest knocks the ball from Roy's hands as he goes up, and we go into overtime. My question is this:


This is way too common in the NBA. The Rockets did it themselves with Artest late in the game, and it seems the Cavs ran this late-game "play" three hundred times with LeBron last season.

Please, NBA coaches, try running an actual play in these situations. Draw something up that gets Roy or LeBron moving to the basket, either with the ball or without. Run a pick-and-roll. Drive and kick. Something.

Thank you.

2. Despite Yao's heroics in nailing the tough baseline fadeaway and ensuing free throw, he was terrible, again. The 7'6" Chinese player shot 4-13 and grabbed only six rebounds in almost 42 minutes. Yikes. Oh, and he was stuffed by Joel Przybilla in the first quarter.

3. And despite Roy's heroics, he was terrible, as well. Before hitting those two clutch shots, he was 4-16 from the field. Not exactly scintillating.

4. On the aforementioned Artest attempt to get off a long, contested shot to win the game, he jumped into Roy, who was playing great defense, in an attempt to get the whistle. I was very, very happy to see he didn't get it. Manu and all the other European and South American floppers have ruined the game with crap like that. If you lean into the defender, you created the contact, and if anything, you get whistled for a foul, not the guy playing straight up.

5. Aldridge was great. 27 and 9 on 12-of-20 shooting and three blocks is a fantastic line for any forward in the league, let alone someone who's in his third season.

Before I post tonight's pick, here's some bad news out of Salt Lake:

Williams out four-to-six weeks instead of two as originally thought.

This will put Deron's return at the week of Thanksgiving at the latest, and he's likely to miss the five-game road trip the Jazz have coming up.


But like I said earlier this week, I'd rather have Deron return at 100% and have a great season than return too early and miss even more time.

Tonight I'm looking at Dallas at Denver. The Nuggets expect to play Chauncey Billups for the first time, and it will be interesting to see how he clicks with his new teammates. Will Carmelo benefit from playing next to a point guard who distributes the ball better than AI?

I think it'll take a bit before the Nuggets get comfortable with each other.

Mavs 115, Nuggets 105

0-4 on the week, 2-9 on the season

06 November 2008

The heart of a lion, and the wings of a bat!

Rockets 101, Blazers 92. 

Houston let me down last time I picked them, but not tonight. Yao has been terrible this season, missing at least three point-blank, at-the-rim dunks because he didn't (can't?) jump, so I figure he's due for a breakout game. 

0-3 on the week, 2-8 on the season

05 November 2008

Andrei taking well to his new role

It's only four games into the season, but it seems the Jazz's experiment of using AK as the sixth man is going very well. 

His line tonight against the Blazers: 17 points, four assists, four rebounds, a block and two steals on 5-8 shooting from the field and 7-8 from the line. Not max-money numbers, but let's be honest, Andrei was never worth max money. 

The second team is looking like it'll be good this year. Knight, Korver, Millsap, Andrei and whoever is a solid lineup. How Utah convinced the Clippers to trade them Knight for Hart I'll never understand. 

I didn't get to watch the game, but a win over the Trailblazers without Deron is a great sign. Even if it means I am wrong on yet another prediction. 

Quicky prediction

Last game: Rockets lose, despite me picking them to win. Yao and Artest, while healthy and not crazy, were terrible. 

Tonight's game: Jazz vs. Trainblazers.

Prediction: With Deron, Jazz 103, Blazers 99. Without Deron, Jazz 95, Blazers 110.

At this point, I don't know if D-Will will play or not. I'd rather he wait and come back when he's 100% healthy, whenever that is. If it's not tonight, that's fine. 

Go Jazz! 

0-2 on the week, 2-7 on the season

04 November 2008

Congratulations, President Obama

It's official, Senator Obama has defeated Senator McCain in the 2008 United States presidential election.

I've expressed my disagreement with Obama's policies on this blog and in other places. But right now I promise to support him as he leads the country as best he sees fit.

I believe Obama is a good man. I don't believe he has any sinister motives behind his politics. He honestly believes his ideas are best for the United States, and I can't begrudge him that.

I hope the next four years are great for America. I hope we recover from our current economic woes and a peace is achieved in Iraq and Afghanistan. I hope we are safe from terrorist attack. I hope we can all get along a little better. 

So congratulations, President Obama. We'll be praying for you.

Stupid Mavs

Good gravy, the Mavs are terrible this year. After confidently predicting that Dallas would handle the Cavs last night, Dirk and Co. went out and lost 100-81. And that's without LeBron even playing particularly well. Sure, he had 29 points, but he was 8-20 from the field and only dished out three assists. Not the best he can play.

The Big German was terrible, going 3-11 from the field for eight points. Kidd had only six assists. Ball Don't Lie has a short analysis of what else gave the Cavs the win.

In other news, the Jazz beat the Clippers for the second time in three days to improve to 3-0 on the season. The game was uglier than sin the first half (score after two: 36-35), and well into the fourth quarter the game remained tight. Even though L.A. was playing at home and enjoyed the return of Baron Davis and Marcus Camby to their lineup, they couldn't pull away from the Deron-less Jazz.

Then Millsap showed up. With 8:47 to go and the score 69-64 for the Jazz, Paul reeled off 15 straight points in four minutes. After the dust settled, the score was 84-67, Jazz, and the game was over. He showed some nice moves in the post, hitting a turnound, fadeaway jumper from the baseline, and a spin move. He also drove in for dunks, and was the recipient of some nice passes that he was able to capitalize on.

Final line: 24 points on 8-12 shooting, nine rebounds, two steals and a block in 32 minutes. The more I see this guy play, the more convinced I am that the Jazz would be fine without Boozer.

For tonight's prediction I'm picking Celtics/Rockets. Two of the best defensive teams in the league go at it. Each team has a few stars. The Celtics are the defending champs, but the Rockets have home court. Houston is undefeated and has beaten Oklahoma City and Dallas, while the 2-1 Celtics got blown out by the Pacers last week.

I see this one going to the Rockets. Ron Artest hasn't shown his crazy yet, while Yao and T-Mac are not yet on the DL. For that matter, Artest has looked really good and is definitely a bonus for Houston so far. Paul Pierce has played out of his head at times this season, but I believe Artest can keep in front of him and slow him down. Garnett will have his way with Scola/Yao/Landry. Brent Barry makes the Rockets even harder to defend, and Rajon Rondo has struggled early.

Rockets 89, Celtics 85

0-1 on the week, 2-6 on the season

Why I did not vote for the McCain/Palin ticket

As is obvious, I am not a fan of Senator McCain. I voted for Bob Barr. McCain is liberal-lite, not that likable, and has run a terrible campaign.

That said, I don't spend nearly as much time outlining why I don't like him when compared to the time I spend dealing with Obama. This is because the things I dislike about McCain are fewer in number and less egregious. Also, many problems I have with McCain are exhibit in Obama, as well.

To illustrate an example, here is a political cartoon:Nail on the head. McCain is trying to claim that Obama's programs are socialist, yet the man is far from a conservative himself. Pot, meet kettle. Private profits, public losses is a policy that I hate and I voted against a Congressman here who voted for the bailout.

And as for Palin, I wanted to like her, I really did. I liked the idea of someone who isn't a Washington lifer coming along to represent the flyover states. I liked her address at the Republican National Convention. But then the Katie Couric interview came along and I started having my doubts.

When I first heard she'd tanked the interview, I wrote it off as being due to Couric's questions being unfair or overly complicated. Then I watched it myself. Good heavens, the woman was a train wreck. The ability to speak your mind clearly and coherently is extremely important if you're running for Vice President, in my opinion. Obama's had his rocky moments when off the teleprompter, but nothing I've seen from him compared to that.

And as the campaign progressed it seemed there was less talk about policy from her, less pushing of conservative ideals and more talking about the other guy. You have to be able to stand on your own platform, not convince people to vote for you because the other guy is worse.

As I've said over and over again, on this blog and elsewhere, this election is terrible for conservatives. Where are the candidates who believe that government ISN'T the answer for everything?

Overall, I'm glad the election is over today. In just a few hours we can move on and start preparing for the 2012 election.

03 November 2008

NBA game prediction for Monday

Cleveland (1-2) at Dallas (1-1), tonight at 6:30 Mountain. Neither team appears to be great this season, but it's the most intriguing matchup of an otherwise boring day. 

I read about eight NBA blogs a day, and the consensus about the Cavs is that LeBron's jumpshot is worse than last year (if that's possible), and Mo Williams is apparently resurrecting the role of Larry Hughes. 

And in Dallas, Dirk's numbers are as impressive as ever, Jason Kidd is still handing out assists like candy and stinking it up on the defensive side of the floor, and Josh Howard is scoring 21 ppg on 50% shooting, both career highs. 

I'm going to give this one to Dallas. Unless LeBron manages to find some range and Mo gets back on track, Cleveland is in big trouble playing away from home. 

The Painted Area has an interesting take on why LeBron should be playing the high post instead of dribbling the ball 25 feet away from the basket and how he should be utilized specifically. Makes a lot of sense.

Cleveland 89, Dallas 110

0-0 this week, 2-5 on the season

02 November 2008

One last Obama post

One last shot at Obama and I'm done. If he gets elected, I'll support him as the President, and if he doesn't get elected, he'll fade into irrelevancy. 

From Michael Ramirez, conservative political cartoonist:

As usual, Ramirez hits the nail on the head. Palin gets blasted for wearing $150,000 worth of clothes given to her by the RNC, while Obama's association with Jeremiah Wright, his words about redistribution of wealth, and his voting record go largely unchallenged by the media. 

In a way, I hope Obama wins, so that we can move past the historic nature of having a non-white President and focus on more important qualifications. I believe there are many, many voters who are choosing Senator Obama because they believe America needs a black president. They may not agree with everything he says and does, but their agenda requires them to support a minority running for the highest office in the country, so they'll cast their ballot for the Senator from Illinois.

This is racism, pure and simple. It's exactly the same as people who are voting against Obama because he's not white. 

However, to label all those who do not support Obama as racist is wrong. For me, and for many others, it's ideology, not skin color, that makes Obama an unattractive candidate. I'd vote for Condaleeza Rice if she ran for President. I'd vote for Colin Powell (who endorsed Obama last month). Shoot, I like a lot of what Bill Cosby stands for, and if he ran for a political office, I'd support him, too. 

So let's move past making politics all about race. Let's move past America's history of racism and slavery. The United States is far from unique in this regard; slavery has been more the norm than an oddity in world history. Other countries and peoples have overcome the effects, we can, too. 

If we'll let ourselves. Can we do it?

01 November 2008

What a sports day!

AP Photo

Highlights from this Saturday in sports:

1. BYU beat CSU 45-42. The defense is terrible, the offense is really good, and Hall and Co. made a nice game-winning drive with 1:36 to go. Unga ran for over 100 yards, Hall passed for over 400, and Pitta and Collie had over 150 yards receiving each. Like the mtn announcers said, it's the old WAC days all over again. It's weird to go from "hoping for a BCS berth" to "being glad when the Cougars squeak a win over CSU, but here we are.

2. The Jazz beat the Clippers 101-79. Again, the depth of this team impresses me. Ronnie Price and Brevin Knight combined for 14 points and 13 assists and only one turnover in Deron's absence. Eleven Jazz players scored, with Boozer leading the way (25 points on 12-18 shooting). The offense looked good, lots of movement, lots of easy shots. Andrei racked up 11 points, nine rebounds, four assists, two steals and three blocks. I'm telling you, when he feels needed, he plays very, very well. 

And finally, the Jazz turned the ball over only five times, a team record. Added bonus: three of those came in garbage time, late in the fourth quarter when the scrubs were in. To have two turnovers for the vast majority of a game is unheard of. 

I know, I know, it's the Clippers, but this was an encouraging game. 

3. And finally, Texas at Texas Tech tonight was the best football game I've seen in a long time. Lead changes, game-winning drives, dropped interceptions...  Michael Crabtree's catch and subsequent game-winning touchdown was absolutely incredible. To adjust to the ball, make the catch, break a tackle and stay inbounds required impressive skill. 

I love college football.

Oh, and it looks like my prediction of the night was correct. Two-night winning streak! The Suns beat Portland 107-96, dead close to my 108-98 prediction. Amare was quiet early (a disturbing early trend), but scored 16 in the third quarter to help Phoenix get the win. Nash went for 20 points and seven assists with a single turnover. 

Quick (and abbreviated) Power Rankings:

1. Lakers
2. Celtics
3. Hornets
4. Spurs
5. Suns
6. Jazz
7. Rockets 
8. Pistons

Saturday is a special day...

I love Saturdays in the fall. College football all day and into the night, and NBA games to boot. BYU at Colorado State in progress as I type and the Jazz play at the Clippers later. 

Turns out I got my first correct NBA prediction last night, but it took overtime. The Raptors squeaked out a home win against the hapless Warriors, and almost lost it in regulation. Phew.

Tonight I'm picking Portland at Phoenix. Both teams have looked good at times and not so good at times in this young season. Portland beat San Antonio at home last night by one, and Phoenix beat the Spurs by five in San Antonio on Wednesday. 

I watched most of the Blazers/Spurs game, and Brandon Roy looked nigh unstoppable at times. Of course, he was playing point on offense and had Tony Parker on him, but he was draining long jumper after long jumper at important moments. Aldridge showed more range than I thought he had, draining a 3 in the fourth quarter and then hitting the game-winning shot from 22 feet out straightaway. 

I'm interested to see how Aldridge and Przybilla will handle Amare and Shaq (and vice versa). Will Nash rebound from his seven-turnover performance against New Orleans? 

If Portland was at home, I'd take them. But on the road... and Phoenix wanting to forget their loss to the Hornets... I'm taking the Suns for this one. 

Portland 98, Phoenix 108

1-5 on the week, 1-5 on the season