31 October 2008

The streak continues

I was once again wrong on my NBA Prediction of the Night. But in my defense, a starter was pulled from the lineup moments before tip-off, an event I could not have seen coming. 

Okay, so it was the Hornets' Tyson Chandler, and if I'd know he wasn't going to play last night I would have had Phoenix winning by even more. I mean, shoot, New Orleans played Hilton Armstrong and Melvin Ely at the 5, how did Shaq and Amare not go to town?

Well, turnovers, for one. The Suns lost the ball 24 times, compared to 10 turnovers for New Orleans. Steve Nash had seven all by his lonesome, and Phoenix seemed out of sync all night. Amare only took three shot attempts in the first half, and the Suns kept pounding the ball into Boris Diaw in the post. Diaw did finish shooting 4-of-5, but come on... you've got one of the best power forwards in the game on the floor and you're not using him?

Paul was brilliant, tallying 20 points, 10 assists and three steals, but he did have five turnovers himself. 

And really, that was the story. Phoenix shot 54% from the field and 39% from the 3-point line. Those numbers are usually good enough for a win, but turnovers kill you. 

For tonight, I'm picking Golden State at Toronto. The Raptors are still working on how to use Bosh and Jermaine O'Neal at the same time, and the Warriors are adjusting to life without Baron Davis. I'm picking Toronto in this one... Bosh is too big and quick for Don Nelson's small-ball to contain him. Jermaine may be a walking injury-waiting-to-happen, but he's not down yet. 

Toronto 106, Golden State 94

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

30 October 2008

Much like my intramural basketball team, I am perfect in my predictions

To my (happy) chagrin, the Deron-less Jazz pulled out a win in their first game of the season last night. I was right about the game being close, but I was off on how much scoring there'd be. A few observations:

1. AI looked slow and a bit off. That said, 6-13 shooting and 18 total points isn't exactly terrible. However, I expect at least 25 from him with Melo out, but it appears either Price's defense was excellent or Iverson is aging. 

2. The Jazz showed some good depth. Five players scored in double figures, and everyone who got playing time scored at least four points. 

3. Ronnie Brewer scored 15 points in 24 minutes of play and sat the entire second and fourth quarters. He nailed three long jumpers and looked pretty good... in my opinion, he deserves a few more minutes. That said, there's a bit of a logjam at the shooting guard and small forward positions, and I understand Korver, Miles, Millsap or even Almond getting some of his time.

4. Miles showed promising flashes in the first few minutes of the game, driving in for a ferocious left-handed dunk and hitting a nice cross-over J over Iverson before getting slapped with two quick fouls and not doing much else the rest of the night. 

5. Boozer was great on the boards, great on the offensive end, and terrible on defense. Surprise. To be fair, he did have a nice play where he blocked Martin from behind on a pretty crucial possession in the fourth quarter. I think we know what we have in Carlos. The Jazz will not win it all with Okur and Boozer as their frontcourt. Something has to be done with Booz. I still feel good about the Boozer for Kaman proposal, originally suggested by Matt of lapaube.blogspot.com

6. Collins got a big, fat DNP for the game. That is beautiful. 

The Jazz play the Clippers Saturday and again on Monday. It will be a chance to see how Kaman looks this year and whether Jason Hart is getting any playing time in L.A. 

Prediction for the night: New Orleans at Phoenix

The Suns looked pretty good last night in their win over San Antonio, and the Hornets squeaked a win over the Warriors, 108-103. The Suns didn't go to Amare as much as they should against the Spurs, and I think they'll fix that tonight. David West and Tyson Chandler are decent defenders, but Amare will have his way. Paul will have a great stat line due to Nash's slower feet on defense, but in the end, the Suns will win by 7. 

Suns 106, Hornets 99

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

29 October 2008

Jazz begin season

The Jazz start their season tonight vs. Denver at 7:30. They'll be without Deron Williams, who sprained his ankle in a preseason game and will be out for at least these first two games, maybe longer.

Can the Jazz beat the no-defense Nuggets? I like their chances, but depending on how well Brevin Knight and Ronnie Price can run the offense, Utah could drop this one. 

A post of mine over the summer discussed the factors in how good the Jazz will be in 2008-2009... tonight is our first chance to see if Boozer's defense is improved at all, whether Korver's shot has returned, and how effective Andrei will be. 

More than one of my readers has pointed out how ridiculously off I was in my predictions for last night's games... this is why I will never gamble, my friends. I bought the Trailblazer hype and ignored the evidence that Oden is made of glass, while overestimating the effect of Mo Williams and how distracted the Celtics would be. 

So in the interest of showing off my poor predicting ability, I will post my thoughts on one game a night for the entire NBA season. And to add to the fun, I'll track of how well I'm doing over the course of the year. 

For tonight, I predict Utah will lose a close one to the Melo-less Nuggets. The absence of Deron will be too much to overcome, and as he makes this Jazz team go, there will be no joy in Jazz-ville. Allen Iverson, while washing up, is not quite there yet, and if Brewer can't slow him down, he'll go off. An improved J.R. Smith and not-yet tired of the season Kenyon Martin will be enough for the Denver win.

Jazz 98, Denver 105

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

28 October 2008

It's NBA time!

Tonight is the start of the 2008-2009 NBA season, and it's Christmas as far as I'm concerned. Cavs/Celtics tip off at six on TNT, then we get Blazers/Lakers immediately following. 

Beautiful. LeBron, KG, Pierce, Oden, Kobe, Bynum... lots of interesting players and matchups to watch. 

In other NBA news, ESPN's Eric Neel wrote a feature story about Carlos Boozer's family and their son's struggle with sickle-cell anemia. It's a good read. Makes me want to be a bit more forgiving of Boozer's appalling lack of defense. 

Predictions for tonight's matchups:

Cavs beat the Celtics by 8. LeBron wants this one, bad, after last season's exit vs. Boston. And with Mo Williams, he might have enough help to pull it off. The Celtics will be a bit complacent after receiving their rings (with the exception of KG, who will play at his highest capability until he dies on the court one day) and the young kids will get one.

The Blazers beat Kobe by 10. Oden and Bynum will neutralize each other, Odom and Gasol will be their usual soft selves, and Aldridge, Fernandez and Sergio will be too much for The Machine, Walton and Fisher. Kobe will get mad at his ineffective teammates, try to take over, alienate everyone, and start scowling late in the third quarter.

I love this game. 

27 October 2008

BYU beat UNLV... therefore, what?

The Cougars beat UNLV 42-35 Saturday. As it's been almost three days since the game and I haven't blogged about it, obviously it didn't make much of an impression on me.

And why not? I think because after the TCU debacle, BYU's shot at the BCS was gone and I was staring down the barrel of another Vegas Bowl against a bad PAC-10 team in December, at best. 

Today I read a post on cougarboard.com that knocked some sense into me. 
BYU fans have forgotten how to watch a good football game. When BYU scores 40+ points, punts only twice (both times downed inside the 10), doesn't turn the ball over even one time, and wins a close game by picking off a pass in the endzone, that is quality entertainment, and if you didn't enjoy it, you're not a football fan.

This guy's right. I've been getting so caught up in "busting the BCS" and gaining national respect that I've lost sight of what's so great about college football. BYU's offense was clicking, it was a tight, exciting game, and the Cougars won. What more do I want? 

Well, better defense, for one.

But shoot, a win's a win. And if TCU and Utah each lose a conference game, BYU can at least share a piece of the MWC title. 

Then on to 2009. 

24 October 2008

Orson Scott Card takes on the media

I love Orson Scott Card. I first read Ender's Game in 10th grade and confronted my English teacher about why she made us read crap like The Grapes of Wrath when there was much better literature available out there.

I also really like Lost Boys, which contains what I consider to be the most true-to-life fictional portrayal of a Mormon family ever written. 

As an LDS Democrat, he's taken stances I disagree with politically more than once, but I've always respected him. 

My brother-in-law forwarded me a column Card recently wrote for The Rhinoceros Times of Greensboro, North Carolina, about the current financial crisis and the media's coverage of it. I like it so much I'm printing it here, in its entirety. 


An open letter to the local daily paper — almost every local daily paper in America:

I remember reading All the President's Men and thinking: That's journalism.  You do what it takes to get the truth and you lay it before the public, because the public has a right to know.

This housing crisis didn't come out of nowhere.  It was not a vague emanation of the evil Bush administration.

It was a direct result of the political decision, back in the late 1990s, to loosen the rules of lending so that home loans would be more accessible to poor people.  Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were authorized to approve risky loans.

What is a risky loan?  It's a loan that the recipient is likely not to be able to repay.

The goal of this rule change was to help the poor — which especially would help members of minority groups.  But how does it help these people to give them a loan that they can't repay?  They get into a house, yes, but when they can't make the payments, they lose the house — along with their credit rating.

They end up worse off than before.

This was completely foreseeable and in fact many people did foresee it.  One political party, in Congress and in the executive branch, tried repeatedly to tighten up the rules.  The other party blocked every such attempt and tried to loosen them.

Furthermore, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae were making political contributions to the very members of Congress who were allowing them to make irresponsible loans.  (Though why quasi-federal agencies were allowed to do so baffles me.  It's as if the Pentagon were allowed to contribute to the political campaigns of Congressmen who support increasing their budget.)

Isn't there a story here?  Doesn't journalism require that you who produce our daily paper tell the truth about who brought us to a position where the only way to keep confidence in our economy was a $700 billion bailout?  Aren't you supposed to follow the money and see which politicians were benefiting personally from the deregulation of mortgage lending?

I have no doubt that if these facts had pointed to the Republican Party or to John McCain as the guilty parties, you would be treating it as a vast scandal.  "Housing-gate," no doubt.  Or "Fannie-gate."

Instead, it was Senator Christopher Dodd and Congressman Barney Frank, both Democrats, who denied that there were any problems, who refused Bush administration requests to set up a regulatory agency to watch over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and who were still pushing for these agencies to go even further in promoting sub-prime mortgage loans almost up to the minute they failed.

As Thomas Sowell points out in a TownHall.com essay entitled "Do Facts Matter?" ( http://snipurl.com/457townhall_com] ): "Alan Greenspan warned them four years ago.  So did the Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers to the President.  So did Bush's Secretary of the Treasury."

These are facts.  This financial crisis was completely preventable.  The party that blocked any attempt to prevent it was ... the Democratic Party.  The party that tried to prevent it was ... the Republican Party.

Yet when Nancy Pelosi accused the Bush administration and Republican deregulation of causing the crisis, you in the press did not hold her to account for her lie.  Instead, you criticized Republicans who took offense at this lie and refused to vote for the bailout!

What?  It's not the liar, but the victims of the lie who are to blame?

Now let's follow the money ... right to the presidential candidate who is the number-two recipient of campaign contributions from Fannie Mae.

And after Freddie Raines, the CEO of Fannie Mae who made $90 million while running it into the ground, was fired for his incompetence, one presidential candidate's campaign actually consulted him for advice on housing.

If that presidential candidate had been John McCain, you would have called it a major scandal and we would be getting stories in your paper every day about how incompetent and corrupt he was.

But instead, that candidate was Barack Obama, and so you have buried this story, and when the McCain campaign dared to call Raines an "adviser" to the Obama campaign — because that campaign had sought his advice — you actually let Obama's people get away with accusing McCain of lying, merely because Raines wasn't listed as an official adviser to the Obama campaign.

You would never tolerate such weasely nit-picking from a Republican.

If you who produce our local daily paper actually had any principles, you would be pounding this story, because the prosperity of all Americans was put at risk by the foolish, short-sighted, politically selfish, and possibly corrupt actions of leading Democrats, including Obama.

If you who produce our local daily paper had any personal honor, you would find it unbearable to let the American people believe that somehow Republicans were to blame for this crisis.

There are precedents.  Even though President Bush and his administration never said that Iraq sponsored or was linked to 9/11, you could not stand the fact that Americans had that misapprehension — so you pounded us with the fact that there was no such link.  (Along the way, you created the false impression that Bush had lied to them and said that there was a connection.)

If you had any principles, then surely right now, when the American people are set to blame President Bush and John McCain for a crisis they tried to prevent, and are actually shifting to approve of Barack Obama because of a crisis he helped cause, you would be laboring at least as hard to correct that false impression.

Your job, as journalists, is to tell the truth.  That's what you claim you do, when you accept people's money to buy or subscribe to your paper.

But right now, you are consenting to or actively promoting a big fat lie — that the housing crisis should somehow be blamed on Bush, McCain, and the Republicans.  You have trained the American people to blame everything bad — even bad weather — on Bush, and they are responding as you have taught them to.

If you had any personal honor, each reporter and editor would be insisting on telling the truth — even if it hurts the election chances of your favorite candidate.

Because that's what honorable people do.  Honest people tell the truth even when they don't like the probable consequences.  That's what honesty means .  That's how trust is earned.

Barack Obama is just another politician, and not a very wise one.  He has revealed his ignorance and naivete time after time — and you have swept it under the rug, treated it as nothing.

Meanwhile, you have participated in the borking of Sarah Palin, reporting savage attacks on her for the pregnancy of her unmarried daughter — while you ignored the story of John Edwards's own adultery for many months.

So I ask you now: Do you have any standards at all?  Do you even know what honesty means?

Is getting people to vote for Barack Obama so important that you will throw away everything that journalism is supposed to stand for?

You might want to remember the way the National Organization of Women threw away their integrity by supporting Bill Clinton despite his well-known pattern of sexual exploitation of powerless women.  Who listens to NOW anymore?  We know they stand for nothing; they have no principles.

That's where you are right now.

It's not too late.  You know that if the situation were reversed, and the truth would damage McCain and help Obama, you would be moving heaven and earth to get the true story out there.

If you want to redeem your honor, you will swallow hard and make a list of all the stories you would print if it were McCain who had been getting money from Fannie Mae, McCain whose campaign had consulted with its discredited former CEO, McCain who had voted against tightening its lending practices.

Then you will print them, even though every one of those true stories will point the finger of blame at the reckless Democratic Party, which put our nation's prosperity at risk so they could feel good about helping the poor, and lay a fair share of the blame at Obama's door.

You will also tell the truth about John McCain: that he tried, as a Senator, to do what it took to prevent this crisis.  You will tell the truth about President Bush: that his administration tried more than once to get Congress to regulate lending in a responsible way.

This was a Congress-caused crisis, beginning during the Clinton administration, with Democrats leading the way into the crisis and blocking every effort to get out of it in a timely fashion.

If you at our local daily newspaper continue to let Americans believe — and vote as if — President Bush and the Republicans caused the crisis, then you are joining in that lie.

If you do not tell the truth about the Democrats — including Barack Obama — and do so with the same energy you would use if the miscreants were Republicans — then you are not journalists by any standard.

You're just the public relations machine of the Democratic Party, and it's time you were all fired and real journalists brought in, so that we can actually have a news paper in our city.


I think Card makes his points well enough that he doesn't need much additional commentary, but here two of my thoughts:

1. The prevalent media bias is obvious to everyone except those who share the same bias. 

2. I believe being completely unbiased is impossible, but newspapers and other news organizations around the country can do a much, much better job moving towards the center. Simply reporting the facts and digging until the truth is discovered, no matter who it helped or hurt, would be a good start.

23 October 2008

Rats playing basketball

Apparently some Finnish scientists have nothing better to do than teach lab rats how to play basketball. The process begins at birth and is fairly interesting.

By way of ESPN's Truehoop blog:
First, the rat kitten is taught to grab the ball and to find it on the court. The next phase involves coaxing the rat to travel with the ball in its mouth. At first, the distances are only a few steps in length, but slowly they increase. The rat is guided by hand to travel to a particular end of the court, because each rat must learn to recognise their own hoop. The basketball rat teams are established by teaching half of the rats to put the ball in the basket on the right side and half on the left side of the court. How does the rat learn to score? Scoring a basket is not taught to the rat kittens until the very end of their training period. To start, a platform is used to enable the rat to simply drop the ball down through the hoop. Gradually the platform is lowered and the rat learns to lift the ball up and into the basket. Finally, the rat kitten begins to be ready for an actual game with another rat.
Here's a short clip of the rodents in action.

I think I might be willing to pay to watch this.

22 October 2008

Glenn to Fox?

So apparently Glenn Beck is moving his TV show from CNN Headline News to the Fox News Channel.

Bad choice, Glenn. I've been searching for Glenn's thoughts on the move, but haven't found anything yet.

Bottom line, Glenn's credibility as a conservative talk-show host goes up dramatically because he's on CNN. People who normally hate conservative talk (Limbaugh, Hannity) are more likely to give him a chance if he's on a network not known for pushing a conservative agenda.

If it turns out Glenn is going to Fox for more money, boooo. He'll soon be lumped together with Hannity, Limbaugh and O'Reilly as just another right-wing kook who hates minorities and is in bed with Bush. Is that worth some extra cash?

I'm not saying these perceptions are true, but that's the perception for a lot of people.

21 October 2008

I voted

Despite this blog being politics-heavy, I am apparently an idiot when it comes to the nuts and bolts of government.

Exhibit A: I confused members of Congress and Senators while texting with a friend yesterday. (Note: Senators represent the entire state, members of Congress a district within it.)

Exhibit B: I'd been meaning to register to vote for a few months now, but hadn't gotten around to it. Somewhere in the recesses of my mind I was under the impression that the general election was held on November 27 or so. Thanksgiving? Anyway, yesterday Mandi and I went to the county administration building (which is conveniently located about four blocks away) to register.

On arrival, we were informed that the deadline to pre-register had been over two weeks ago, and that in reality, the general election will be on November 4.

"Oh, that's right," I thought.

But the nice lady at the courthouse went on to explain that we could register and vote on election day, or even register and vote that very second if we wanted. There were booths set up in the administration building and everything.

Mandi decided she'd take a voter registration card and vote at a later time, while I decided, "What the heck, I'll get it done right now."

Despite my appalling lack of knowledge about the specifics the democratic process, I had been researching the candidates for several months. The most helpful information regarding local political races came from my daily reading of the Idaho Falls Post Register, and I'd been spending at least an hour a day online reading articles and message board postings about the presidential race.

Without boring you with the intricacies of local Idaho politics (trust me, they are boring), I will tell you I voted for Bob Barr, or the Libertarian party, for president.


1. Economics. Obama's economic plans is thinly (if at all) disguised socialism and wealth redistribution. McCain isn't too far behind, in my opinion. Barr's stance is:

"Every area of federal spending can and should be cut. Entitlements must be reformed and welfare should be cut, including subsidies for business sometimes called corporate welfare. Military outlays should be reduced and pork barrel spending eliminated. Needless, duplicative, and wasteful programs, most of which
have no constitutional basis, should be terminated."

That's the libertarian way. Government should fund roads, courts, police and the army. That's about it. As I blogged about Sunday, I believe private enterprise is far more efficient than the government when it comes to taking care of people in all but a few instances.

2. Energy. Barr is for domestic drilling and nuclear energy.

3. Barr is for major tax reform. I agree that the tax code is far too complicated (almost comically so), and we should seriously consider a flat income tax.

4. The border.

There is no perfect immigration reform. The government must balance security and sovereignty concerns, which necessitate controlling the border, with the economic benefits of immigration. The best policy would be to stop illegal immigrant flows while accepting more of the world’s economically productive who want to come to America.

Very well stated, in my opinion. Meanwhile, neither McCain nor Obama are interested in doing anything with the border, perhaps because they fear losing the Hispanic vote.

5. And then we have the mustache. Way to rock it, Bob.

Now, I disagree with Barr about Iraq and privacy/government surveillance issues, though I can see where he's coming from and don't really begrudge him his positions on these points.\

As I live in Idaho, I realize the state will go to McCain no matter what. Idaho and Utah would vote Republican if Satan were running with an R next to his name. But maybe if McCain gets less of the supermajority he believes he is entitled to from these reddest-of-the-red states, it will send a message to Washington that they should consider nominating an actual conservative next time around.

19 October 2008

Government intervention

In my discussions with Obama supporters, one common belief they share is that the government can right the wrongs of civilization: poverty, inequality, racism, etc. 

For an example of how government solving problems works in the real world, see New Orleans.

Katrina happened three years ago. The city was ravaged, and many died. But for New Orleans to still be plodding along in its recovery efforts is almost unfathomable. 

Here's a report ABC did about what's working and what isn't down there. This quote pretty much sums it up:

"Brad Pitt has done more for this community than anyone," Rahim said.

Brad Pitt is doing more than the government of the United States?

"I would say 10 times more than the government," Rahim said.

Pitt founded non-profit group called Make it Right, which aims to build new, energy-efficient homes in the Ninth Ward. Some people doubted that Pitt would follow through, but with few delays, homes started going up. The first homes were finished this summer.

If Brad Pitt and Harry Connick, Jr. can work to build dozens of new homes, why does it take government so long to follow through on its plans?

Call me crazy, but if I find myself in trouble, I'll choose the help of private companies and non-profit organizations over assistance from federal government any day.

17 October 2008

BYU gets blitzed

Thoughts on last night's game:

1. I blogged that this game was on Max Hall's shoulders. "If he takes what the defense gives him and doesn't force anything..." Well, he didn't take what the defense gave him and forced a lot by repeatedly staring down Collie and Pitta and not looking to anyone else. Two seasons ago, Curtis Brown led the team in receptions out of the backfield. Unga's not a factor in the passing game, and the way Anae runs things, he should be. Hall overthrew, underthrew, and behindthrew receivers all night. It was the ugliest game I've seen from a BYU quarterback since Beck, the early early years. 

2. The defense was bad, but what did we expect? They've given up huge chunks of yards all season, and the only reason they haven't given up many points is because they've been helped by fortuitous turnovers. We as fans can't rely on that forever, and tonight we saw what happens when those turnovers don't come. 

3. When your defensive backs line up 15 yards off the line and still get burned long for touchdowns, you have really, really bad defensive backs. In my opinion, BYU might as well line the DB's up in bump-and-run coverage. It looked like that adjustment was made in the fourth quarter and the defense looked a bit better. Of course, TCU was in grind-out-the-clock mode, but it's worth a shot.

4. BYU circled the UCLA game on their game schedules last January. TCU circled BYU. The results are evident. 

That's about it. TCU did exactly what I would have done to the Cougars if I were gameplanning for them: throw deep, take advantage of the 10-yard sideline pattern, and hurry and harrass Max. The offensive line was really bad, giving up seven sacks. BYU's middle linebackers are bad, bad, bad against the run and not that great against the pass.

In short, no one looked good. Thanks heavens we have UNLV at home next week. 

16 October 2008


Wow, I've been very inconsistent in my posting lately. I blame the low-quality, knock-off power adapters I've recently bought to replace the one for my laptop that broke after three years. I've had two break on me in about as many months, leaving me without a computer at home while I wait for a replacement to arrive in the mail. 

But on to what's important: big-time game tonight. Win at TCU, and it's another step towards the Cougars getting a BCS berth at the end of the year. Lose, and BYU will find themselves playing a mid-level PAC-10 team in the Vegas Bowl again. Ugh.

The last time BYU won at TCU, John Beck had his breakout game as a college quarterback. He was laser-accurate with his passing, and without that, BYU would have lost, IMO. 

I think the Horned Frogs are going to stack the box and force Max Hall to beat them. I'm not sold on Hall's arm (especially his long ball), but he can make good decisions. If he takes what the defense gives him and doesn't force anything, BYU has a great shot to win.

One more thing, BYU receivers need to run past the first-down marker on third down. Way too often last week the WR's would go four yards on third-and-six or five yards on third-and-eight. Utterly frustrating. It's a very simple thing that has to be fixed.

My prediction: BYU 24-TCU 17.

14 October 2008

AK-47's role for the 2007-2008 Jazz

From Ross Siler of the Salt Lake Tribune Jazz blog:

The big story from the Jazz's perspective was Andrei Kirilenko's play off the bench. Even with Carlos Boozer back, Jazz coach Jerry Sloan opted to start C.J. Miles and have Kirilenko serve as the team's sixth man.

I wouldn't read too much into plus/minus in the preseason, when the lineups on the floor are unconventional to say the least, but Kirilenko's numbers were darn impressive.The Jazz outscored Portland 52-39 in the 24:31 Kirilenko played Sunday.
They were especially strong when it came to closing out quarters.

The Jazz outscored Portland 10-6 to end the first after Kirilenko checked in with
4:34 left and 10-2 in the third quarter after Kirilenko checked in with 1:52

Kirilenko was all the difference in the first quarter - - he factored into all five of the Jazz's scoring possessions - - and came along for the ride in the third - - when Kyle Korver's three-pointer and Deron Williams three-point play drove the Jazz.

The biggest thing that can be said about Kirilenko was he even made Kyrylo Fesenko look good. Fesenko and Kirilenko have lockers next to each other and Kirilenko made a point of looking for Fesenko whenever he drove the lane.

Fesenko had a 10-point, 10-rebound performance, which Sloan said afterward was the game of his life. Another interesting thing was how much Kirilenko's postgame comments suggested that he was truly thinking about the game as he sat on the bench.

Kirilenko said he wanted to spark the Jazz in the first quarter by getting inside and trying to throw some quick passes around the basket. He also talked to Brevin Knight about taking advantage of the Blazers' overplaying defense and got two backdoor alley-oop dunks.

There's still four preseason games left, but I think Kirilenko is destined to start the season as the Jazz's sixth man.

I love this idea. If we've learned anything about Andrei during his career in Utah, it's that he loves being important to the offense, and when he is, he plays better on the defensive side of the floor as well.

See the 2004-2005 season. Andrei was the man for the Jazz, and he put up great numbers: 15 ppg, 6 rpg, 1.6 spg, 3.3 bpg and 49% shooting from the field.

Since that season, he's tailed off every year, it seems. What changed? Deron was drafted in 2005, and starting then, the Jazz slowly became his team. And with the additions of Boozer and Okur, AK was asked to do it all on the defensive end and mostly keep out of the way on offense.

This makes Andrei feel unwanted and unmotivated. I don't believe he's lost any of the ability he showed in 2004; he always plays very well for the Russian national team... which is a situation where he feels important.

Andrei started every game last season, and while he played pretty well, he's still not an important part of the offense.

But this season, if we give him the keys to the second offense, I can see good things happening. Last season, I always worried when Deron came out, because it seemed that that was when opposing teams made their run.

So instead of running the offense through Ronnie Price or Brevin Knight (though my judgment on Knight is pending), run it through Andrei. Let him bring the ball up the floor. Give it to him in the post. Tell him its his responsibility to get the team performing at a high level whenever he's on the court.

That'd get his competitive spirit up, and I think we'd see Andrei of old return to the offensive and defensive ends of the floor, getting involved on seemingly every play, making opposing players fear him on defense.

I'd like to see that.

Second team:

Let me know what you think.

13 October 2008

For my Laker-fan friends

Can't wait for the start of the regular season.

07 October 2008


I do not understand the sense of entitlement that has become so prevalent in our country. We demand nice cars and expensive clothes. And if our income is not enough to afford such things, well, that's what credit is for.

And then we have the American dream of home ownership. At some point, it was decided that everyone, regardless of economic situation, was entitles to a home. Loans were given to people with poor credit, income to low to pay a mortgage, and even recent bankruptcies. 

The thousands of people unable to pay mortgages they never should have been approved for in the first place suddenly found themselves, well, unable to pay their mortgages. As far as I know, this is a major factor in the current economic crisis we find ourselves in. 

Who can we thank for this shift in values? It appears much of the responsibility is claimed by a group called ACORN, or Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now. Back in the 1990's, this group made it a priority to get low-income individuals into homes. 

You’ve got only a couple thousand bucks in the bank. Your job pays you dog-food wages. Your credit history has been bent, stapled, and mutilated. You declared bankruptcy in 1989. Don’t despair: You can still buy a house.” So began an April 1995 article in the Chicago Sun-Times that went on to direct prospective home-buyers fitting this profile to a group of far-left “community organizers” called ACORN, for assistance. In retrospect, of course, encouraging customers like this to buy homes seems little short of madness.

Wow. Now look, I understand the allure of buying a home. Mandi and I watch HGTV a lot, and dream of getting out of our apartment and into a larger property. 

The problem is, I'm a journalism major. I expect a starting wage of no more than $30,000 a year, maximum. That means the most expensive house we can reasonably and responsibly expect to purchase is around $65,000, if our math is correct. 

In today's markets, $65,000 doesn't buy a whole lot. It won't even come close to buying our dream home. But you know what? That's okay. We understand that in our current economic circumstance, we can't get our dream home. Maybe one day we will, but for now, we wait. 

Where was this common sense for thousands and tens of thousands of people who signed up for mortgages they knew they could not pay? What is ACORN thinking, giving homes to people who do not have the resources to pay for them?

And where was our government? Where were the people brave enough to stand up to ACORN's bullying tactics?

"In one of the first book-length scholarly studies of ACORN, Organizing Urban America, Rutgers University political scientist Heidi Swarts describes this group, so dear to Barack Obama, as “oppositional outlaws.” Swarts, a strong supporter of ACORN, has no qualms about stating that its members think of themselves as “militants unafraid to confront the powers that be.” “This identity as a uniquely militant organization,” says Swarts, “is reinforced by contentious action.” ACORN protesters will break into private offices, show up at a banker’s home to intimidate his family, or pour protesters into bank lobbies to scare away customers, all in an effort to force a lowering of credit standards for poor and minority customers. According to Swarts, long-term ACORN organizers “tend to see the organization as a solitary vanguard of principled leftists...the only truly radical community organization."

I don't know. Neither Republicans nor Democrats seemed interested in preventing this catastrophe, though at least the right warned of coming problems with these mortgages. Small bragging right when they weren't willing to actually do anything about it. 

We're in big, big trouble, and whoever wins this November is going to inherit a mess unlike anything we've had for a long time. I don't envy them.

04 October 2008

Sick of politics

This is a short rant. 

There are no squeaky-clean perfect politicians. Every one of them has flipped on some issue or another. Every one of them makes embarrassing gaffes when speaking to the media. Every one of them has some kind of scandal in their past. 

I made it clear a couple months ago that just because I don't like Obama, that doesn't mean McCain is my guy. Liberals do more to annoy me than conservatives do, but both sides have their moments. 

So I'm willing to admit that McCain is very shaky on the economy. I acknowledge that Palin is terrible at public speaking and interviews. And I dislike Obama even more. It's a terrible election as far as I'm concerned. 

Let's just slog our way to Election Day and get on with working on the many issues facing our country. 

03 October 2008

Ugly wins are wins, I guess

BYU looked like the seventh-best team in the country for about twelve minutes tonight. 

Leading 24-0 at Utah State after one quarter is a little more than what's expected, but make no mistake, the Cougars were supposed to be up by at least two touchdowns after one. 

After that, BYU looked disinterested, slow, and ineffective on offense. Max Hall had what is probably his worst game ever... continually forcing the ball into double- and triple-coverage, and it resulted in picks. He's got to settle down and just take what the defense gives him. 

Collie had a great line: eight catches for 132 yards and two touchdowns. Nevertheless, he dropped at least two balls that hit his hands. Can't do that. 

The defense forced turnovers, but when the couldn't get the Aggies to cough the ball up, Utah State's offense moved pretty well on them. As I ranted about after the Washington game, BYU's linebackers need to take better pursuit angles. A better angle means you stop the running back or quarterback for a one- or two-yard gain instead of giving him 10+. 

I worry about teams that can get their players the ball in open space, as BYU's defenders look too slow to deal with them. We'll see.

I hope this loss gave the Cougars the wakeup call they obviously need. Every team they play is gunning for them, and they can lose any given week if they aren't focused.

On to New Mexico. BYU seems to do much, much better at home, and in a conference game, I think they'll be up for this contest. 

01 October 2008

October means NBA

It's the first day of October, and you know what that means. 28 more days until Robert Swift plays the season opener with his new team, the Oklahoma Thunder!

I love the NBA.

If you're new to the Frozen Wasteland, you may not know that I'm a die-hard Jazz fan, despite hating the color purple and not really liking Carlos Boozer.

So while I'll be ranting about many different NBA topics, it'll always come back to Utah.

My general sense about this Jazz team is that they'll once again be good, but not great. They'll win 50 games, struggle through the first round of the playoffs, and lose in the second round or the Conference Finals.


1. There were no major changes to the team in the offseason. Get handled by the Lakers in 2008 Playoffs + Make no offseason changes = same result. Besides getting rid of Jason Hart (thank heavens) and picking up Brevin Knight, this is the exact same roster the Jazz trotted out last May.

2. You cannot win an NBA championship with Okur and Boozer as your four and five. Winning it all requires interior defense, and Boozer and Okur are possibly the worst starting power forward and center, individually, in the league. Combine them and it's a disaster. If I'm an opposing coach, I tell my guys to drive into the lane every single play. Either the Jazz will foul you or you'll get a layup.

3. The Lakers are going to be better. Courtesy of the Ball Don't Lie blog:

Here's Andrew Bynum three years ago:

And here he is today-ish. 

Add Sun Yue, and L.A. is set for a good long time. Oh, and don't forget about Gasol and Kobe. 

Man, I hate the Lakers.

Plus, the Hornets and Blazers young and improving.

Then I read a couple articles about how the Jazz look in camp, and developed a little more faith. 


1. Kyle Korver had surgery to rid himself of a bone spur in his foot back in June. I liked the trade when it happened, and if we can get Korver shooting 40% from the 3 this year, the Jazz offense will be ever harder to stop.

2. I've heard good things about CJ Miles. The Jazz gave him a $16-million salary this offseason, and I hope that means the Jazz force Jerry Sloan to play the kid. 

3. Ronnie Brewer has reportedly gained around 20 pounds of muscle, and has improved his shot. 

4. There's always the off chance that Boozer and Okur will decide they are interested in playing defense. I believe they have the ability, just lack the will. Even if those two played up to 60% of their potential on that end of the floor, the Jazz win more games. 

The season opens with a doubleheader on TNT on October 28: Cavs/Boston and Portland/Lakers. Will we finally see Greg Oden play his first ever NBA game? Maybe

With playoff baseball, NFL, NCAA football and the NBA right around the corner, I love this month.