29 December 2009
18 December 2009
So, without further ado on this Friday afternoon, I give you a tour of the Lego highlights from my life:
This is the Spy-Trak I. It is the first Lego set I may or may not have owned. As it was released in 1989 (or 20 years ago, holy cow), I was pretty young at the time. Memories are fuzzy. It seems familiar enough, though.
Auxiliary Patroller. This is one of the oldest sets I remember actually owning. The distinctive bubble shield over the cockpit and the laser on the front were super awesome.
Pulsar Charger. This thing was cool. One of the first M-Tron sets I ever had... I used to fly that thing all over the house. I remember being bothered that the antenna on the right side threw off the symmetry of the model. Came out in 1990.
Vector Detector. Another M-Tron set. I may have owned this, or my best friend did. Either way, I remember playing with it a lot. If you look closely, you can see the magnet box hanging off the back. M-Tron was big into magnets, which was pretty cool back in the day.
The Mega Core Magnetizer. Holy smokes was this thing cool. Unfortunately, I never got my hands on it, resorting instead to looking at it longingly in the pages of my Lego catalogs.
The Super Nova II. Blacktron was sweet. The neon yellow pieces and cool logo were enough to draw me in.
The Solar Snooper. I got this for my 10th birthday, and boy, was I excited. So excited that I immediately, in the middle of my birthday party, went down to the basement to assemble it by myself. What did my friends do? I have no idea. I was kind of a dumb kid.
Anyway, the Snooper was the bomb. I loved the green tinted plastic, the big wheels, the portable jail cell. Note the Blacktron prisoner. I guess they were space bad guys or something. The mythology of Space Police never really caught on.
Mixed in to all this space stuff is castle-and-knight type stuff. I distinctly remember owning this set, Black Monarch's Ghost. The glow-in-the-dark ghost was awesome, and the knight's lance and sword were pretty much the coolest things ever made to that point. I'm not sure what this set is about, however. There's a closet, and the ghost lives inside, and a knight wandered past and got scared? Is the knight supposed to fight the ghost?
Ah, pirates. Pirates way before Johnny Depp and Orlando Bloom were pirates. This is the Black Seas Barracuda, and boy did I ever covet this thing. Unfortunately, it ran near $200 in 8-year-old me dollars, so I never got it. The pirate theme introduced cool stuff like the monkey, treasure chest, cannon and gold coins. Also sharks.
This is the Caribbean Clipper, the good guys' answer to the Barracuda. About half the size of the pirate ship, this Imperial boat was cheaper, but still a bit out of my price range. Cool hats.
This was more along the line of what pirate sets I owned. The Raft Raiders were pretty cool... I liked how the captain's shirt was all torn and stuff. The pirate life is a rough and tumble life, that's for sure. This is the only Lego set that has a flag with a black skull and crossbones on a white background.
I got the Renegade Runner for Christmas one year. It was pretty sweet, while not as large as the Barracuda or Clipper. The sail swung from side to side, and the rudder moved. I liked this one a lot.
Somewhere along the line Lego redesigned their castle-and-knights setup and the Black Knights came about. I distinctly remember buying this set from the local Shopko. The new oval shield was awesome, and I liked the dragon wings on the sides of the knight's helmet. I believe the breastplate was also new.
The new Black Knights needed someone to fight, so Lego invented the Wolfpack. Near as I can remember, these guys lived in the forest and stole stuff. I got the Wolfpack Tower for Christmas one year. Hey, look, another ghost! The drawbridge went up and down, and to access the inside of the tower you opened the rocky-looking sides.
The Dragon Masters premiered in 1993, introducing... wizards and dragons! I owned this set, the Fire Breathing Fortress. The wizard's glow-in-the-dark wand, beard and hat were all new. This set included a half-spiral staircase.
Also from 1993, Ice Planet. Neon orange skis, neon orange chainsaws, neon orange everything. Paired with the white and blue, the Ice Planet stuff looked pretty cool. I owned this vehicle, the Ice-Sat V.
1994 introduced the Islanders models. New mask, new take on the oval shields. Vaguely cool. I had one or two of these guys, but nothing really sticks out in my memory.
The Sea Sprint 9 from the Aquanauts is one of the last Lego sets I ever remember having. The flippers and scuba gear sets were pretty neat. The blue octagonal cockpit top is unique to Lego sets.
I never got into any new lines Lego released after 1995, but Legos remain one of my best childhood memories. Searching the interwebs for more information for this post, I discovered I'm not the only one who's nostalgic for these toys. There are multiple websites set up to buy and trade Lego sets, and then there's eBay.
Legos might turn out to be my generation's Tinkertoys. The genius of making imaginative worlds for kids to explore while allowing them to build their own creations was a good move. Nice work, Lego.
Of course, today, everything is licensed. Harry Potter Legos. Star Wars Legos. Lego Indiana Jones. Where's the imagination?
That said, we did rent Lego Batman from Gamefly last month. That's a fun game. :)
08 December 2009
2. The Jazz lost to the two-win Timberwolves on Saturday, then beat the Spurs for the third straight time night. Bottom line, as predicted, they are another 48-win team who may or may not squeak into the playoffs.
3. The Knicks have won four of their last five games, beating Phoenix (14-3), Atlanta (13-5) and Portland (13-8) in the process. If they keep this up, they could compete for the eighth spot in the Eastern playoffs this spring.
In short, the Jazz's hope for a high lottery pick next summer are vanishing rapidly.
The Knicks have stunk consistently for a decade, and now, when their ineptitude is finally about to benefit the Jazz, they start winning. Here's hoping this is a temporary phenomenon.
And one more thing: Matt Harpring, whose season, and possibly career, is over, joined Craig Bolerjack and Ron Boone on the sidelines to help call the game last night, and Harp was awesome. He had interesting insights into the players, noticed strategies used by both coaches, and generally seemed to love the game. He was miles better than Boone, and improved Bolerjack's play-by-play. Please, FSN or the Jazz or whoever makes these decisions, please hire Harpring to do color commentary. Please.
02 December 2009
Find more videos like this on PrepTicket
Good story about BYU commit Jake Heaps. I really, really like this kid. He'll be graduating from high school early and enrolling at BYU this January, which should give him time to learn BYU's system and be ready for spring ball.
01 December 2009
Seeing as to how the Jazz own the New York Knicks' pick this summer, and seeing as to how the Knicks are among the worst teams in the league as usual, I'll be spending some time over the next few months looking at who's available and what Utah can do with whatever pick they end up with. I am upset about how terrible the Nets are this season, as there is no reason they should be winless, but the Jazz are still virtually assured a bottom-three pick.
As Utah has decided they're interested in winning games this season, my plan for them to just tank it and have two lottery picks in 2010 is out the window. Blowing out a bad Memphis team at home is exactly what I expect this team to do. No more struggling against bad teams, okay guys? It does help that undrafted rookie Wesley Matthews is playing well and coach Sloan has actually decided to play Fes lately (11 points on 5-6 shooting, five boards and a block in 20 minutes last night). Eric Maynor keeps impressing, and if Korver can come back healthy and able to be an assassin from downtown, I like this team in the playoffs. CJ Miles returning and actually contributing would be icing on the cake.
But back to the draft. Chad Ford discussed the top three possible picks in a recent blog entry:
There may be 168 days until the NBA draft lottery but, given how poorly a handful of teams are playing this season, we already have a pretty good idea of who will be hoarding the pingpong balls this year.
The New Jersey Nets are a historically pitiful 0-17. The Minnesota Timberwolves aren't far behind at a pathetic 2-15. And the New York Knicks aren't faring much better at a paltry 3-14. While there are plenty of other teams struggling, it seems like these three teams in particular are in for a long season.
That means that fans of all three teams are already focusing on this summer and the 2010 draft. Whom would each team draft if they were to win the lottery?
The Jazz already have a young, All-Star-caliber point guard in Deron Williams. Williams may not be as explosive athletically as John Wall, but I don't think they are giving up on him any time soon. They could try to play Wall and Williams together -- they are different players -- but I'm not sure how well that would work. They'd have a very small backcourt.
Derrick Favors seems like the logical choice if Utah gets the No. 1 pick. Carlos Boozer is on his way out via free agency and Mehmet Okur has only a few years of productivity left. Yes, the Jazz just signed Paul Millsap to a huge contract, but Favors would be a nice complement to him.
I think the Jazz are the one team of the three that seems likely to pick Favors over Wall.
EDGE: Derrick Favors
Favors isn't having quite as strong of a season as Wall, but he's got two things going for him. Size and athleticism come at a premium in the NBA, and Favors has both. He has the chance to be a dominant inside presence -- a cross between Amare Stoudemire and Dwight Howard. However, Favors isn't there yet. His early numbers at Georgia Tech (13.6 points, 7.8 rebounds, 1.8 blocks in 24 minutes per game) are very good for a freshman but not quite dominant. If he really gets it going in the second half of the season, he'll be a legit No. 1 pick.
I'm down with that. Of course, he's only 6' 9", but it's a legit 6' 9", unlike Paul Millsap's 6' 9" that is really more like 6' 5". Favors is also rumored to have a wingspan of seven feet. People say he's better than Dwight Howard was in high school. Highlights (mostly from high school) show good ball control, nice touch around the rim and fantastic jumping ability.
Here are a couple highlight reels:
Again, this is high school competition, but he looks good. If the Jazz can get him, and if he can be a decent offensive presence and a fairly dominant defensive presence, that could push the Jazz over the top and make them a legit championship contender with Boozer gone in 2010 or 2011.
Deron and Maynor as possibly the best 1-2 punch in the NBA at point guard.
Korver, Matthews, Miles all hitting from deep.
Brewer and AK as weak-side defenders, Brewer acting as a slasher.
Okur stretching the defense and getting some points in the post.
Millsap, Favors, Fes, Kosta all scoring and defending in the paint.
I really like that team. It's solid all the way down the bench, has great balance and everyone has a role.
So we'll see. In the meantime, keep on keepin' on, New York!
30 November 2009
26 November 2009
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! I hope you enjoy your day of turkey and family and friends... and maybe some smack talk with said family and friends if they happen to be on the other side of the BYU-Utah rivalry.
Unlike last year, there aren't BCS implications for either team this time around. That said, both the Utes and the Cougars are 9-2 and coming off big wins against conference opponents. BYU handled Air Force pretty easily last Saturday and the Utes destroyed San Diego State. TCU is clearly the cream of the MWC for 2009, but the second tier isn't that bad.
24 November 2009
18 November 2009
17 November 2009
Turns out I unfairly maligned a member of the Jazz in my last NBA post.
This team can't win more than half its games without [Deron], as no one else can run the offense or even create their own shot.
Eric Maynor, I am sorry.
"Who is Eric Maynor?" you may ask, as my brother who is in France did on Monday. After being the Jazz's first-round pick in the 2009 draft, Maynor spent a lot of time on Utah's bench, playing under five minutes per game and even recording two DNP - Coach's Decision's early in the 2009-2010 season.
I figured if he wasn't good enough to beat out Ronnie Price for the backup point guard spot, then the bench was where Maynor belonged.
And I was wrong.
After Deron left a road trip last week to be with his sick daughter, Jerry handed the keys to the rookie and said, "Play on, son."
Okay, so maybe those weren't his exact words, but Maynor played 35 and 40 minutes against Philadelphia and then Cleveland, both on the road in back-to-back games.
How did he respond to this sudden chance to prove himself?
Pretty darn well, in my opinion.
Against the 76ers, he shot 6-14 from the field, dished out 11 assists, recorded one steal and hit a 3-pointer, all while turning the ball over only twice.
The next night, against King James and the Cavs, he scored 24 points on 9-16 shooting, including 6-7 from the free-throw line, handed out four assists and grabbed three rebounds in a tight loss.
This kid is for real. His first step is quick enough he can get by most point guards in the league, and once he's in the lane, he has a real nice floater (a la Chris Paul), can use the glass to score and is pretty decent at finding the open man.
And today, that's all a point guard really needs to do to succeed.
Against Cleveland, he hit two clutch free throws with two minutes left in the game to bring the Jazz within one point (95-96), then made a tough tear drop runner over LeBron with 14 seconds left to bring the Jazz within two points. If Andrei hadn't launched that abomination of a 3-point attempt just before that, the game might have ended differently, but I can't blame the rookie point guard for the loss.
So there you have it. Maynor may be skinny (6' 3" and 170 pounds), but he's quick, can dish and knows how to use the glass. He may be a good one for years to come.
16 November 2009
I am tired of reading how I should be 100% pleased with everything BYU football is in 2009 because Max is the winningest QB in school history and Bronco has an awesome winning percentage since he became the head coach. "10-win seasons abound, so shut your yapper!" is the message I get.
I just fail to see how anyone who experienced 2007 can feel great about this 2009 team. In 2007 BYU won 11 games with young skill players. The future was bright. How good could these guys be one or two years down the road?
The answer? Not all that much better.
These same players are now seniors (okay, Harvey is a junior) and we've seen little to no offensive improvement. BYU's defense is going to be suspect more often than not, but with this amount of experience at the helm of the offense in 2009, and considering the successes of 2007 and 2008, was it entirely unreasonable to expect BYU could score enough to hang with anyone they played?
The dissatisfaction comes from the complete inability of the offense to keep up with Florida State or TCU. If these were shootout type games, and BYU lost after scoring 40 or 50 points, then so be it. BYU fans are used to that type of thing. But to turn the ball over and fail to convert third downs time and time again is unexpected.
After taking a closer look at that 2007 team, all of the big wins can be credited to the defense.
BYU beat TCU after the defense held the Frogs to 22 points. They beat Utah after the defense held them to 10 points. And then a win over UCLA in the Vegas Bowl where the Bruins scored only 16 points.
This year the defense can't come anywhere near that level, and as a result, these games are losses.
In short, these offensive skill players are not elite. Not the best we've ever seen. I reserve the right to be dissatisfied with this season. And if the wheels come off against Utah again this year, you'd better believe I'll be complaining.
13 November 2009
The payroll for the 2009-2010 version of the Utah Jazz is $85,111,807.
That is almost $30 million over the league salary cap of $57 million.
The only team with a higher payroll this season is the Los Angeles Lakers.
The difference between the two teams? One is coming off a championship season and is currently 7-1.
The other is 3-5 and in danger of not even making the playoffs this season.
Know what this means? Time to throw in the towel, Utah. You already own the Knicks' first-round pick next summer, and as New York is sitting at a pretty 1-8 at the moment, an excellent lottery pick is all but assured.
But you know what's better than one excellent lottery pick? Two excellent lottery picks.
There is nothing to be gained by winning just enough games to squeak into the playoffs and get steamrolled by the Lakers (again). There is everything to be gained by getting great draft picks next summer. Next summer Boozer (and his contract) are gone. Korver and Harpring's salaries come off the books. 2010 is the last year of Andrei and Okur's contracts.
Here's what I propose: tank. Tank hard. You took a good step today by having Deron sit out for tonight's game due to "personal reasons." Now shelve him. Say his back trouble is keeping him out and don't let him near the court. And to be honest, that's all we need to make the lottery. This team can't win more than half its games without him, as no one else can run the offense or even create their own shot.
Next summer, take a talented big man who can fill the lane, adjust shots, rebound and score about 15 a game. He doesn't have to be the next Tim Duncan, but that would be nice. Then take a guard who can hit 3-pointers and penetrate, like the Clippers' Eric Gordon. These are the pieces the Jazz need.
Then, and this is important, let the kids start and play a lot during the 2010-2011 season. Who cares if they make mistakes? Let them learn from them. After Andrei's contract comes off the books in the summer of 2011, the Jazz will have a lot of cap space to work with (hopefully this can be used to lure a good free agent or two to Utah), a good, young nucleus of players and a veteran point guard in Deron Williams. I like that scenario.
Even if one of the picks from the 2010 draft is a major bust, hopefully the other will pan out, and that cap space in 2011 can be used to compensate for the player that didn't work out.
But knowing Utah, they'll let Deron run ragged on an injured back for the season, barely squeak into the playoffs and get rolled by LA in the first round. Then they'll sign Okur to a ridiculous contract extension and give Korver way more money than he's worth. This would be bad.
11 November 2009
27 October 2009
26 October 2009
1. I've been saying it for a long time now: Max Hall is a good quarterback. I'm glad he's our quarterback. I think he's better than Riley Nelson. But Max is not a great quarterback. A lot of people look at his mediocre performance Saturday and blame his offensive line for not giving him enough time to throw. However, I look back at the 2006 TCU game and John Beck was taking three-step drops and firing. He went through his reads very, very quickly and delivered the ball exactly where it needed to go, again and again and again. Max cannot do this. Cover his first option and he panics. Are our receivers this year or last year worse than they were in 2006? I doubt it.
2. Our defense is horrible. Not much to say here. Defensive line can't get a push on anyone, linebackers are slow, secondary gets lost.
3. I do not enjoy this trend of getting blown out in losses.
Moving on to other mediocre pastures: the 2009-2010 Utah Jazz!
Yahoo's Ball Don't Lie blog did a preview for every NBA team, and I found their assessment of the Jazz to be spot on.
I don't think I'm reading too much into things when I point out that injuries to Boozer and a nagging ankle issue that dogged Deron Williams sort of allowed for this mindset to sustain. Wait until 2009-10 comes, when everything will be all right.
Except, Carlos Boozer's still here. Whoops.
Boozer didn't opt out of his contract, and the last memory most of us have of the Jazz is the picture of a team that barely looked the part of a playoff participant late last season. Utah absolutely packed it in. The Jazz weren't dispassionate, they just didn't execute and continually lost track of their opponents while on defense. This was a bad team just waiting for the season to end.
And now, a few months later, and the team is back? Same team? Why am I getting excited about this?
Eric Maynor has looked pretty good in preseason games, and it's nice to not worry about the backup point guard slot, but the glaring, obvious weakness of this team is and has been interior defense. Until Utah gets someone who is interested and capable of routinely blocking and altering shots at the rim, the Jazz will not go anywhere.
I'll enjoying watching Deron and Millsap play. Will Koufos develop into a good player? Will Jerry Sloan ever win Coach of the Year? Actually, I found some interesting information on that last point from Basketbawful:
Let's look at some recent CoY recipients:
1. Mike Brown (2008-09): Subsequently outcoached in the Eastern Conference Finals, marking one of the only times in league history a team had both the MVP and the Coach of the Year yet failed to reach the NBA Finals.
2. Sam Mitchell (2006-07): Subsequently fired by the Raptors only 17 games into the 2008-09 season after a 39-point loss to the Denver Nuggets.
3. Avery Johnson (2005-06): Subsequently fired following the 2007-08 season because the Mavs needed a fresh start. I'm sure those three consecutive humiliating playoff losses had nothing whatsoever to do with it.
4. Mike D'Antoni (2004-05): Subsequently "allowed to pursue employment opportunities elsewhere" by the Suns following the 2008-09 season and yet another painful playoff loss to the San Antonio Spurs.
4. Hubie Brown (2003-04): Subsequently retired 12 games into the 2004-05 season because, dear lord, the man is an ancient mummy creature! And why spend your twilight years coaching the Grizzlies, you know?
5. Rick Carlisle (2001-02): Subsequently fired after the 2002-03 season so the Pistons could hire Larry Brown...and win the 2004 NBA title.
6. Doc Rivers (1999-00): Subsequently fired during the 2003-04 season after his Magic squad started the year 1-10. Note that he continued to suck in Boston until Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen arrived to save him.
7. Mike Dunleavy (1998-99): And we come full circle! Subsequently fired after the 2000-01 season. From the actual press release: "Mike Dunleavy was dismissed as coach of the Portland Trail Blazers tonight, taking the fall for an underachieving team that failed to win a playoff game despite an NBA-record $89.7 million payroll."
Did I mention that Jerry Sloan still hasn't won a Coach of the Year award despite a 1137-751 (.602) record and 12 50-win seasons? Oh, and in 21 years of coaching in Utah, the Jazz have have a losing record exactly...once.
So, to sum up, the state of the NBA Coach of the Year award is an absolute joke.
Couldn't have said it better myself.
In better news, all of the Jazz's games will be on FSN, ESPN or TNT this year... no games on KJZZ, which means I can watch them all.
Trying to decide if that's really a bonus.
To sum up, both the BYU football team and the Jazz are good teams who can win (10 games and 50 games, respectively), but are seemingly incapable of breaking into the next level (BCS game, NBA Finals).
I hear the BYU basketball team should win an NCAA tourney game this season, so that's good.
It's all about progression.
23 October 2009
October 2008. BYU flying high. Six straight wins. 59-0 over UCLA. 44-0 over Wyoming. A less-than-impressive win over New Mexico, but that wasn't anything to worry about.
Here's what I blogged before the TCU game:
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.
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.
I went to a friend's house to watch the TCU game. Unfortunately it was one of those games where it was over almost as soon as it began. Not even close. It's one thing to lose a close game to a good team, but BYU was outclassed on every front that night. Max Hall fell completely apart, accounting for two interceptions and three fumbles. He was also sacked six times and threw zero touchdown passes. BYU lost 32-7. It was BYU's lowest point total since September 2005.
It was ugly, and I've never felt confident about BYU in big games since.
And you know what? Not much has changed. I still think the key to this game is Max Hall. Our defense isn't good enough to hold TCU to under 20 points. That means the offense needs to move the ball and get into the endzone consistently, and the responsibility for that depends on Max most of all. BYU's receivers and tight ends can catch. If Hall can find them early, that will take pressure off the running game, and Harvey won't be facing a stacked box all night like he was last year, when he averaged three yards per carry.
I'll be there, and I'll be cheering my guts out. But I don't see the Cougars getting a win at this point.
Of course the last time I was convinced BYU would lose, they beat Oklahoma. So take my prediction for what it's worth.
BYU 24, TCU 31.
22 October 2009
Here's a video that follows the careers of Kobe, KG and LeBron as they each came out of high school and became stars in the NBA.
It got me pretty excited for the season to start.
Jazz season preview tomorrow.
19 October 2009
Unlike my early opinions of Derrick Rose and Michael Beasley, I'm pretty high on Griffin. I can see him being the man on a championship team someday. After that Chicago/Boston series last spring, I think Rose may pull it off, too, though it's harder to be the man as a point guard.
18 October 2009
Thanks to everyone who gave me feedback on my smartphone post.
- On T-Mobile. No need to switch carriers.
- Physical keyboard
- Price: $89 at wirefly.com.
- Plays and records video, plays music and podcasts.
- Wireless capabilities.
- Expandable storage (bought a 16GB microSD card soon after my purchase) and replaceable battery.
- I miss the iPod Touch OS and, well, the touch capabilities. The 8900's trackball works fine, but the intuitiveness of the flicking and tapping from Apple grew on me, apparently.
- The wireless download speed isn't that hot, for some reason. Podcasts that took almost no time to download on my Touch take at least three or four minutes on the 8900.
- Youtube videos are pixely and not nearly as clear as they are on the Touch.
- Kick-butt processor.
- Runs Android 2.0.
- Expandable memory using microSD.
- Bluetooth, Wifi, 3.5mm headphone jack.
- Slide-out physical keyboard and touch capabilities.
- Runs on Verizon, which has 3G ability in Idaho (I think). The company I work for has a discounted rate with Verizon for its employees.
15 October 2009
I came to a realization tonight while watching the newest episode of Fringe.
This is The X-Files. Follow along:
FBI agents. Check.
Large, over-arcing plot that deals with supernatural themes. The whole thing is fuzzy enough that it keeps you interested, but never so concrete that it makes complete sense. Check.
A character with dubious motives (the smoking man) that helps the FBI agents at times. The observer. Check.
"Freak of the week" episodes that have absolutely nothing to do with the show's over-arcing theme. Little to no plot or character development in these episodes. Check.
Slight sexual/romantic tension between the male and female leads is hinted at from time to time. It never really goes anywhere. Check.
And that's it. All the ingredients are there. It's a rip-off of a show that's not even a decade old.
07 October 2009
NBA season just weeks away? Color me excited.
In other news, the Jazz played the Derrick Rose-less Chicago Bulls in London yesterday. I caught most of the game. Here's how it went.
1. The Jazz hang tough early.
2. The Bulls take a lead into halftime.
3. The lead is around 10-15 points in the third quarter.
4. The Jazz mount a furious rally to actually take the lead near the end and
5. Ultimately fall short.
I've seen that show before. Boozer and Okur still do stuff that make me shake my head in sadness. If this team doesn't make a major change or two soon, I may be done with this team. Deron Williams and Paul Millsap are my only reasons for watching the Jazz for now.
Here is an interesting trade idea from one of my favorite NBA posters on cougarboard.com:
Utah trades Carlos Boozer, $2 M
Sacramento trades Kevin Martin
Why Sacramento makes the trade
For some reason, they're ready to turn the offense over to Tyreke Evans, so Martin's importance to them went way down when Evans was drafted. A 20/10 forward is a far better pairing with Evans than a 20 ppg SG. They've mentioned actually playing Jason Thompson at C, and he makes an almost perfect compliment to Boozer at PF. He's a good fit there, so they likely try to re-sign Boozer. If he walks, they're okay with that because it'd put them way under the cap in a huge free agency year. They won't make the playoffs again, so they will also be adding another lottery pick to the team. The $2M is to make up for the difference between the salaries, which still fall within acceptable trade allowances.
Why Utah makes the trade
Martin is a piece the Jazz have missed, well, forever. He's increased his ppg every year he's been in the league. His 3pt% has gone up each year he's been in the league. Two years in a row he's hit 40% of his 3's, he hits 85% of his FT's, and maybe most important he gets to the line a lot. He doesn't cure all the ills of the team, but he fills two hugely important holes: more outside shooting and a guy that can create opportunities to get to the line outside of the offense. Put Martin in the Jazz scheme with Williams at PG, and I think, even if his production doesn't go up, his offensive efficiency will. Having Okur, Martin, and Williams on the court at the same time also adds significant value to Brewer, Millsap, and AK, allowing what they do well to become more available. The $2 M spent would have gone to Boozer anyway, but they end up saving $2 M in luxury tax because of Martin's lower cap figure.
Get rid of Booz, add a high scoring SG, the fanbase gets energized, the advertisers get motivated, and hopefully the team creates more post season revenue. The team lets Korver and Price's contract expire. Then say the Knicks pick is top #7, and the Jazz potentially land someone like Greg Monroe out of Georgetown or Ed Davis out of Carolina. The future would look like this:
C - Okur, Koufos, Tomic
PF - Millsap, Monroe
SF - Brewer, AK
SG - Martin, Miles
PG - Williams, Maynor
Not bad. As he mentioned, the trade doesn't do much to address our interior defensive woes, but it'd get me watching. Kevin Martin would fill a need the Jazz have had since Jeff Hornacek retired.
But I get the feeling the Jazz will end up doing nothing and then lose Boozer at the end of the season without getting anything in return for him.
Prove me wrong, guys.
26 September 2009
I have been mildly interested in purchasing a smartphone for over a year now. The ability to consolidate a phone, music/video player and contacts/calendar manager into one device is very attractive.
- Blackberry: There are several offerings from Blackberry that interest me. I really like the physical keyboard, so the latest Tour or Curve might work for me. They do have the touchscreen concept with the Storm. I'm not sold on their operating system, but to be honest I don't have much experience with it. The Tour and Curve are available on T-Mobile. Battery life a problem?
- Apple: I loved my iPod Touch while it was working. The lack of multi-tasking is a small concern, but nothing major. Only available on AT&T. Meh. Also, battery life is apparently a problem, and you cannot swap in a new battery, like you can with the Pre. Physical memory is fine. As the above image indicates, I'm worried about certain lacking features on the iPhone.
- Palm: I like what I've seen from the Pre. Intuitive OS and multitasking are good. 8GB of memory. Physical keyboard, and on Sprint. Headphone jack present. Battery life a concern here as well... as little as three hours with heavy use? Oh, and it's $79 at Walmart. The app store has very few programs at this time.
- Google: Right off the bat, Google makes me roll my eyes by not including a 3.5mm headphone jack. There's an all-in-one USB port at the bottom, which you must use for power, audio and USB syncing to a desktop. Lame. I am also annoyed that Google named their latest phone the MyTouch. Really, guys? However, the phone is on T-Mobile and has a nice OS with multitasking. The lMyTouch does not have a physical keyboard, and apparently the battery life is impressive.
What a roller-coaster season. Bigtime win, followed by boring blowout, followed by painful blowout. We've run the gamut of emotions and it's time to settle down for some meh games.
22 September 2009
It was 34 degrees this morning in Idaho Falls. As I desperately cling to the last vestiges of summer, I find a lot of joy in this video from Dude Perfect, an organization devoted to helping Africa and making crazy basketball shots.
I honestly can't think of a more fun way to spend June through August.
Fare thee well, temperatures above 40 degrees.
21 September 2009
Those guys absolutely manhandled our defensive line and linebackers like nothing I've ever seen before. The quarterback had 15 seconds to pass on every pass play. The running backs had a free three or four yards of grass in front of them on every passing play. The FSU offense converted third down after third down after third down to the point that I felt like they'd convert them all.
And that was that. The game of football is won or lost in the trenches, and BYU was absolutely rolled in the trenches on Saturday.
Other factors that didn't really matter:
1. The Florida State defense held BYU and Max Hall to 21 points. They created multiple turnovers and picked Hall off three times. It appears they were able to instigate the game plan I was worried about.
2. Our kicking game was great! Bronco finally moved Riley Stephenson to kickoffs and every single one stayed in bounds. They also went 4-4 on extra points, so that's nice.
3. BYU cannot deal with mobile quarterbacks. Not a big surprise, but depressing to see that this is still the case.
That's it. Florida State enjoyed a huge, larger-than-everything-else-put-together advantage on the line and they won the game.
On to CSU!
18 September 2009
Tomorrow, Florida State plays west of the Mississippi for the first time in approximately 50 years as they take on the BYU Cougars. Considering thes last two games for BYU featured a virtually-impossible-to-beat opponent and a virtually-impossible-to-lose-to opponent, I think it's pretty clear that this matchup falls somewhere in between.
Florida state is good, but not great. I would take some time here to attempt to analyze the matchups, but unfortunately I was linked to an excellent analysis of the game from a Florida State blogger who has done more research on the matchup than anyone who works for a TV station or newspaper. Seriously, it's amazing.
So I'm going to link to it and just point out a few areas I felt were spot-on.
In any case, FSU likes to line up guys in crazy spots, with everyone standing up and only onw down lineman. FSU got the idea from summer trips to New England and Pittsburgh. It's very tough for the offense to know who is blitzing and who is in coverage. The Giants under Bill Belichek and Parcells used this to perfection against the Buffalo Bills in super bowl XLii in Tampa. Jim Kelley's shotgun offense was limited by the uncertainty. Against an offense that is based on automatic throws "if he is here, I throw here", FSU must create some uncertainty as to the QB's reads, and at the very least, must make him choose the difficult throws on his decision tree. The key though is to make BYU 1-dimensional. A good team will run right at the prowler if a defense employs it in a non obvious passing down situation.
Elsewhere in the article he mentions BYU's (perceived?) over-reliance on the pass. And frankly, he's not that impressed with Hall.
Remember how BYU isn't very good throwing in long situations? Most teams aren't. Hall doesn't have the arm to drive the ball downfield into tight windows. His ball flutters and often hangs. If FSU can stop BYU's run, or if BYU just falls in love with the pass, FSU will have a chance to break out their prowler formation.
Boy, that sounds familiar.
The goal is to force the Cougars into beating FSU through the use of low percentage plays. A 5-yard slant against loose zone coverage is a high percentage play. BYU is so good at throwing that stuff that if FSU gives them that, they stand almost no chance of stopping the Cougars. But Max Hall really isn't much or a deep-ball thrower. Sure, every QB can loft the ball downfield, but I am talking about the more challenging throws. I'm talking about out-routes, skinny posts, etc. If BYU is going to throw all over Florida State, the 'Noles better be sure that they force the Cougars to do it via low percentage passes.
I have to say this guy has done his homework. I couldn't come up with a better gameplan on how to beat BYU if I tried. Stop BYU's running game, tempt them to pass, pass, pass and then force Hall into making long throws.
Now, theory is a long way from execution, and I'm not sure the Seminole defense can pull this off all that effectively, especially if you consider that they are on the road, in what will be a very hostile environment, at an elevation they are not used to playing at.
The blogger's analysis of BYU's defense is very reliant on looking at last year's team, which was terrible on D. As such, he is very down on the Cougar ability in that area. Of course, there are new starters at most positions, and these guys held Oklahoma to 13 points and smothered Tulane. I think they're a bit better than the writer anticipates.
The first game I ever watched as an official BYU student was BYU @ Florida State in 2000. The Dynamic Duo of Brett Engemann and Charlie Peterson were unfortunately not enough to overcome the soon-to-be Heisman winner Chris Weinke, who threw for 318 yards and BYU lost 29-3. I'd like to see a Cougar win here, if just for the revenge factor.
So as always, we'll see. I see the Cougars winning by at least a touchdown, maybe two. That said, if FSU can pull off the strategy outlined in the link above, we're in deep trouble. Give the whole thing a read if you're a football fan... there's a lot of good stuff in there.
15 September 2009
There have been rumblings all summer that former Jazz man Greg Ostertag wants to play in the NBA again. And now, here is some proof:
Greg Ostertag is looking to make a return to the NBA.
The former Jazz center, who retired from the game three years ago, was invited to work out for the Trail Blazers last week.
"I just miss it," Ostertag told the Journal-World.
"Watching the playoffs last year got me excited. My wife said, 'Why not go try it again?' One day I said, 'What the heck. I'll get in shape and get back on the court and give it a try.'
"I've got nothing to lose."
Well shoot, if that's not great motivation for getting back into pro basketball, I don't know what is.
Greg was a consistently frustrating player for Utah. At 7 feet, 2 inches, he was definitely big enough to clog the lane. If that's all he was capable of, then I think us fans would have been okay with him. But the guy showed flashes.
I remember a game he had against Sacramento in the 1990-something playoffs. Greg went for 25 points, 14 rebounds and 7 blocks (estimate based on a game I watched 15 years ago and cannot find a link for). He could do stuff like that, but then the next game he'd go back to being Terrible Greg who could rebound fairly well and couldn't score worth beans.
In celebration of the news that Ostertag wants to return to the NBA, the guys at Basketbawful posted a highlight video of Ostertag being dunked on:
The sad thing is that I like how he's actually challenging these shots. After a few years of Boozer and Okur, even Ostertag looks good on defense. Gotta fix that, Jazz.
12 September 2009
11 September 2009
Remember when Grizzlies GM Chris Wallace dealt Pau Gasol to the Lakers for some stuff that one time? Remember how Memphis said this trade was about saving the franchise money, but a lot of teams were still upset about it and the NBA said everything was on the up-and-up?
That's why I found it odd that the Grizzlies have now signed power forward Zach Randolph.
Originally Posted by Chris Wallace
“We are pleased to acquire a player of Zach Randolph’s caliber,” Wallace said. “Zach is one of the best low-post scorers in the league and a force on the boards as well. He will also bring much-needed experience to the team.”
Wait, what's that, you say? The Grizzlies had an All-Star low-post scorer and rebounder a couple of years ago? And he made $16 million per year, too? And this All-Star low-post scorer didn't have mental problems like Randolph does?
Well, now, that's just weird. I don't know quite what to make of it.
06 September 2009
BYU 14, Oklahoma 13.
If someone had told me BYU would score 14 points and turn the ball over four times in this game and win, I'd have laughed.
If someone had told me BYU's defense would force three fumbles on Oklahoma and recover two of them, I'd have been skeptical.
If someone had told me Oklahoma would get into the endzone once all night, I'd have rolled my eyes.
But something happened between 2008 and 2009: BYU found a defense, and a dang good one.
And the entire defense gets the game ball for last night's game, in my opinion. The defensive line was more than Oklahoma's offensive line could handle, BYU linebackers had free shots on the quarterback all night and the safeties and corners played better than I expected them to in a million years.
This was the deciding factor in the game, not Max Hall, as I had predicted on Friday. In short, Max was Max. One great drive and a lot of inconsistency. A throw to a wide-open McKay Jacobsen resulted in a decent gain instead of a touchdown, as would have been the case if Hall had an arm. Two terrible decisions resulted in two picks. No part of his game surprised me.
04 September 2009
I've put this off long enough. Here is my take on the BYU-Oklahoma game:
The biggest single factor in this game is Max Hall. I know what I'm getting out of Bradford. I know what I'm getting out of our defense to some extent. The same goes for Oklahoma's defense. But I have no idea what to expect from Max.
I admit his performances against TCU and Utah last season caused me to look very hard at the guy... how can someone who throws for so many yards and so many touchdowns and so few interceptions have such an epic meltdown against the two biggest opponents he faced in 2008?
I've decided that 2008 Max Hall did not have the tools he needed to succeed against those teams. Hall's arm strength, decision making and accuracy were not good. "But!" you say. "He passed for 3,957 yards last season! He was 19th in the nation for total offense!"
This is true. But I've gone back and watched a few games from the 2008 season. Hall was bailed out by Dennis Pitta and Austin Collie an awful lot. These guys are for real, and have legit NFL-caliber talent. If Hall threw behind Pitta in the endzone, he adjusted to the ball and made a spectacular catch. If Hall lobbed a duck at Collie, he went to the ball and beat the corner for it.
Hall's lack of arm strength is most apparent. John Beck's arm strength was never in question; as a sophomore, he was launching bombs to Todd Watkins and Collie (who had beaten the coverage) and placing the ball directly in their hands as they ran at full speed. How many of those plays have we seen from Hall? I honestly cannot think of any.
Therefore, most of the long touchdown passes we see from him are the result of YAC. Collie makes a great grab on the sideline 20 yards past the line of scrimmage and beats his guy to the endzone.
I believe opposing defenses know about Hall's lack of arm strength and play their guys up. Against teams like CSU or San Diego State, this is not a problem. Hall is fairly accurate within 10-15 yards or so, and the aforementioned Pitta and Collie can make grabs even in double coverage. Add dumping the ball off the Unga in there and you can rack up tons of yards against mediocre defenses.
But the TCU's and Utah's of the world have athletes. They have great defensive coordinators. They know Hall's tendencies and work hard at taking away the easy throws. Result? Interceptions by the shovelful and Hall is utterly ineffective.
Beck faced this scenario against TCU in 2006. The Horned Frogs took away the easy passes and dared Beck to make the tough ones: across the field to a receiver just in bounds, or in a quickly closing window between two corners and a linebacker. Beck came to play and made the throws. 2008 Hall couldn't do that, and the results were clear.
Now, John Beck was not 2006 John Beck his entire career. He had to evolve as a player through learning defenses, developing rapport with his receivers and practicing his tail off. He struggled a lot his sophomore and junior years, but at the end of 2006, I'd rank Beck up there with any of the BYU greats that have come through Provo. He was a machine, and thoroughly dismantled every opponent he came up against in the last nine games he played as a college quarterback. It got boring to watch because of how easily he was able to move the ball on teams like Oregon or Utah... not to mention Air Force or Wyoming.
So I hold out hope that Max has improved a lot this offseason. I hope he's realized his flaws and worked hard to improve. Because if not, this game will be an embarrassment. I have no illusions that BYU's defense will be able to shut down Bradford. That guy is nails, but I believe BYU's defense will be able to hold him in check... ie. Oklahoma won't score a touchdown on their every possession.
That leaves open a very small window where a BYU offense that is absolutely on fire can take advantage. And that kind of offense needs a quarterback who is performing on another level of awesome. Awesome like Detmer vs. Miami in 1990 or Sarkisian vs. Texas A&M in 1996. Stuff of legends.
If Hall can be the man, I give BYU a shot at winning this game with an old WAC score of 56-52 or something else ridiculous. If Hall is completely ineffectual, BYU gets blown out.
To me, it's that simple.
It's a tough opening game for your 2009 season, but the potential is there for an historic year, the kind we'll tell our kids about.
So Go Cougars!
31 August 2009
12 August 2009
As a follow-up to this post, can we clear some stuff up?