27 December 2011
Just an amazing video.
Basketball is back! Weekly thoughts on the season to follow.
For now, here are some abbreviated random impressions after two days.
1. The Lakers are done for this season. This predictably makes me happy.
2. The Heat look pretty darn good.
3. I know Rose looks really good, but I can't forget LeBron absolutely shutting him down in the playoffs last summer. And if the Bulls are counting on Boozer to be an integral part in their success, they have another thing coming.
4. Jimmer playing well for the Kings. Hitting more shots than he's missing, dialing in from long range, making some nice passes, etc. He'll stick around.
5. The Celtics are old.
6. If I'm Orlando, I trade Dwight for a collection of good players. This seems to have paid off for Denver, who look great in the aftermath of the Melo trade to the Knicks.
7. Lob City is gonna be fun. Chris Paul tossing it up to two of the most talented dunkers in the league night after night is fantastic.
8. Finally, the Jazz will be good, not great. Looking forward to seeing Favors and Enes and Hayward develop, while hoping Miles and Harris can hold it down.
Good to have the NBA back. The lockout wasn't positive for anyone.
10 December 2011
1. Woo the NBA is back! Can't wait for opening day on Christmas, and anticipate the wife will get mad at me for watching so much basketball.
2. BYU lost to TCU, beat Hawaii and are on their way to the Armed Forces Bowl to play the Tulsa Golden Hurricanes later this month. BYU could very well win 10 games this season to add to the list of mediocre seasons that seem great because the team had double-digit wins. Blegh.
3. Jake Heaps is transferring from BYU after it became apparent Riley Nelson will start next season. In my opinion, BYU chose to win now against bad/middling opponents while having no chance against great football teams. Dealing with the growing pains/mental issues of someone with the tools to make all the throws necessary is too hard, too time consuming, too frustrating.
I hope I'm wrong about Nelson, I really do. He looked pretty good against Hawaii, and that play where he ducked the pressure and threw a perfect pass to Hoffman for a touchdown in the third quarter was a thing of beauty. I'm just not convinced he can do it against Boise State in Boise, or Notre Dame in Indiana, or Utah at Rice-Eccles or Georgia Tech in Georgia (all games BYU has in 2012).
But hey, Riley will look great against Washington State, Weber State, Idaho and St. Winifred's School for the Blind in Central Texas. And BYU will get 8-9 wins, all will be well in Zion, hooray.
Then Nelson graduates and BYU is stuck with a starting QB with little to no experience for the 2013 season.
In short, I think it was a bad idea for Heaps to transfer, and I think it was a bad idea for BYU to choose Nelson over him.
4. David Stern blocking the Chris Paul-to-the-Lakers trade is annoying and seems unnecessary. If the Lakers think they can get it done with an aging Kobe and breaking-down Paul, minus Gasol and Odom, so be it. There's no way they were getting a Bynum-for-Dwight Howard trade, so the dream of Kobe/Paul/Howard was never coming true. If I'm Orlando, I look for another superstar trade chip to get in exchange for Dwight, even if it's not a center.
19 November 2011
BYU is down four to Utah State with under two minutes to go, backed up nearly to their own endzone. Jake Heaps has struggled mightily against the Aggies tonight, leading to Bronco and Doman to decide to bench Heaps and bring in Riley Nelson to play against his old team.
Riley manages to bring the Cougars 99 yards for the game-winning touchdown, bedlam ensues, and my brother Seth and I look at each other with worried looks on our faces.
We knew one thing: Nelson is fool's gold.
Good enough to beat bad teams, will never, ever be the reason BYU beat a great team, or even a very good team. His throwing ability has improved this season from last, but he still has low arm strength and extremely questionable decision-making skills.
Heaps has not been much better this season, and definitely deserved to be benched. But for the long term, Heaps is the answer.
As evidenced last week, Lark is not going to take this team anywhere, and if he gets playing time over Munns, Munns has got to be even worse.
What a bad quarterback situation we have in 2011.
Then Riley broke a rib against the mighty Vandals and it looks like it's Heaps' show the rest of the way. He looked fine against Idaho, but let's be honest; it's Idaho.
Tonight's game against New Mexico State is actually a bit intriguing. This may be BYU's closest match in an opponent since that Aggie game in September. While these Aggies are only 4-6, they can put up points. They dropped 28 on Minnesota (in a win), 42 on New Mexico and 48 on Fresno State. While none of those may be good teams, it still shows these guys can get the ball in the endzone, and seem to be improving over time.
New Mexico State seems like a passing team, with 23 of their touchdowns coming through the air, but they can also run, with 14 of their scores coming on the ground. I worry most about BYU's pass defense, and firmly believe that if I were an opposing offensive coordinator with a quarterback worth a darn I'd pass 95% of the time against this Cougar team. Idaho, unfortunately, does not have a quarterback worth a darn, and you saw the results.
So on a snowy night in Provo, it's going to come down to whether or not the Aggies can pass well enough to score versus BYU, and whether Heaps can overcome his mental issues.
In trying to think of a prediction for this game, I realized I'm honestly unsure of what to expect, which is kind of nice after a few weeks of pre-determined outcomes.
30 September 2011
26 September 2011
The Friday night home game against the UCF Knights turned out to be a pretty good one. After the Knights steamrolled BYU's defense on their first drive, I was worried this would be a rout, but then the defense showed up, and despite a few miscues, played pretty well the rest of the night.
Thank goodness for Hoffman's returned kickoff for a touchdown, or this game could have turned out very differently, and Heaps' bad performance would have gotten a lot more scrutiny.
But here's the deal: Heaps plays better, BYU wins 40-17, and I'm yawning in the fourth quarter.
As it was, it was pretty much down to the wire, as UCF had the ball with over a minute to go with the chance to tie it. My brother Josh mentioned it was an exciting game more than once.
So maybe this year won't be a season of a few tough games and mostly cupcakes. I expect the game against Utah State this Friday to be a tough win, if not an outright loss, and who knows if Jake's errant passes will keep Idaho State, San Jose State and Idaho (yes, BYU plays both bad Idaho teams) in the game longer than they should be?
The home schedule may turn out to be far better than everyone expected when it was announced.
Other random thoughts from Friday:
1. Kyle Van Noy is a beast. The play where he ran down UCF's quarterback from about 15 yards out was a thing of beauty. You can tell the QB is thinking he just bought some time to find a receiver by rolling out, and then KVN is there in about .3 seconds for the sack. Here's the play:
Out of nowhere.
2. BYU's defenders sure are injuring a lot of opponents this season. Several running backs, a few wide receivers, and quarterbacks have been taken out more than once after getting hit by a linebacker or safety. While I like the intensity, I think I'd take a little less oomph if it meant fewer blown coverages and missed tackles. Wrap up first, blow up second.
3. The offense still can't score. They had one long drive for a touchdown Friday, and their other TD came after getting a very short field thanks to a muffed punt reception (shades of the Utah game).
4. Riley Stephenson had the game of his life. I've never seen him absolutely boom so many punts in one game before, and winning the field position battle was a major reason for BYU's win.
5. On that vein, Justin Sorenson was great. Three out of four kickoffs were downed in the end zone, and the one that was returned only made it out to the 16 or so. He was also nails on his one field goal. I hope they let him try one from 50 yards plus; I think he can get it.
6. UCF's running backs were great. Big, strong, tough to take down, kept moving their legs. One day BYU will get a back like that. Juice and DiLuigi are nice and all, but not really starting talent for a Top-25 team (not that BYU is a Top-25 team).
7. Jake was bad. Under 50% completion percentage, one pick (not exactly his fault, but it was not a great throw) and one near pick (see previous parenthetical comment) and missing on third down throws all night. His overthrow of a streaking Jacobsen let the entire stadium down. Kid has all the tools, and I hope he can put it together, but how many games is he going to be subpar?
8. The offensive line has issues. Their run blocking was atrocious most of the game, and they get blown up by opposing defensive lines enough that Jake feels like he's going to get killed all the time. Accurate or not, it's not good for your quarterback to be that jumpy. I know there are injuries, but it seems the last three years we've heard how amazing the O-line will be, and then they're fat, slow and not particularly able to shove people out of the way. Something big needs to change here.
Finally, something something Big 12 invite something. Cougarboard's been all abuzz about some rumored interest the Big 12 has in inviting BYU to the conference, but you know my take on non-news: I hate it. I'll talk about an event once an event has happened, not before. Call me crazy, but I enjoy discussing facts rather than freaking out over potential future happenings.
Utah State preview later this week. In short, the Aggies are schizophrenic.
23 September 2011
14 September 2011
Let's just say working two jobs is doable most times, and intensely stressful at others.
1. BYU always, always seems to drop a winnable game on the road early in the season. See: Boise State 2004, Boston College 2005, Arizona 2006, Tulsa 2007. So dropping a game against Texas in September in Austin is par for the course, I guess. Still, having a big halftime lead and then seeing the offense self destruct for the remaining 24 minutes was pretty troubling. From reports I've read, it seems Heaps was panicking quite a bit during that half, immediately dumping it down to a running back or wide receiver in the flat and rarely looking beyond them, regardless of the amount of real pressure he was facing. That, and apparently Doman is still a true believer in Anae's super-ultra conservative offense when holding onto a lead. Get up 10 points in the second quarter? Time to shut it down for the night and hope the defense can play like supermen for rest of the game. Ugh.
2. BYU vs Utah already? If the first two weeks of the season have shown us anything, it's that both of these teams' offenses are bad and both defenses are pretty impressive. I expect a 7-3 final outcome, with the lucky team coming out on top. Whoever gets that crucial recovered fumble or a punt returned for a touchdown, that kind of thing.
And, as is custom, I am holding another Guess the Score contest for this year. Place your guess for the final score in the comments, along with how many yards Heaps will throw for. The winner will get a sparkling new $10 Amazon.com gift card!
05 September 2011
It was a somber affair at my house for most of the game, but when KVN made that play, all seven of us watching exploded, probably scaring our neighbors to death and giving them the idea to hold a revenge party at 11:00 p.m. last night.
Season-saving play, in my opinion. How many times have we seen good BYU teams sink their seasons by dropping an early road game to Boston College, Arizona, etc. etc.? It was an ugly win, to be sure, along the lines of the famous Ugly Choke Job Salvaged by Miracle Vegas Bowl, but a win's a win, and I'm encouraged by the improved play of Heaps in the second half of the game.
He definitely needs to work on not staring receivers down, which is odd since I remember him doing a great job looking safeties off a few times last year, but maybe it was just nerves.
Anyway, the defense was amazing, the offense showed up just enough to get the win, and I'll take it.
Here's a highlight by Cougarboard's Furious Monkey:
BYU at Ole Miss 2011 by Furious Monkey from Furious Monkey on Vimeo.
I'm absolutely worried about Texas now, but if the defense can shut the Longhorns down, maybe BYU can squeak out a win.
03 September 2011
BYU football is finally back! It feels like last season was another life, it was so long ago, but football had returned, and that is awesome.
Short Ole Miss preview today: Ole Miss has a great run game and not much else. I expect the Cougars to be able to pass on them all day, but if the Rebels are able to get ahead early, thanks to some jitters on BYU' s part, they may be able today to control the ball and limit the Cougars' offensive chances to get back in it.
I double don't worry much about the famed SEC speed, but the weather may be a big concern... playing in 150% humidity is no joke, and I hope the coaches did everything they could to prepare BYU for the challenge.
I expect to see Heaps hit Apo and Hoffman for at least one touchscreen each, and the defense to record at least 4 sacks. This will be a big litmus test for the team; a convincing win here will make me believe they can best Texas handily, while a struggle will be cause for a lot of worry.
That said, I expect a win.
BYU 38, Ole Miss 24
28 August 2011
For the 4 of you who read my blog, I apologize for neglecting my duties the last few weeks and months. The lack of posts can be blamed on a few things:
I'll toss up a season preview/talk about Ole Miss a bit sometime this week.
15 June 2011
I had the opportunity today to watch the Kemba vs Jimmer workout at the Jazz Practice facility. Here is what I saw.
Conditioning: Jimmer was in the best shape of all those at the workout. I don't know if altitude had anything to do with it, but all the players looked winded, except for Jimmer. You could see the other players huffing and puffing and Jimmer was breathing effortlessly. Kemba was not as in as good of shape as Jimmer.
Court length speed: Kemba is very fast up and down the court. Jimmer is also very fast up and down the court, but Kemba is a little quicker, not much though.
Lateral speed: Actually Jimmer looked much quicker than Kemba in lateral movements. Not only that, but like his uncle Lee Taft has said he is very efficient with his motions. There is really no wasted motions in his movements. He was able to get by every one that guarded him and more importantly he was able to stay in front of everyone he guarded. Impressive.
Shooting: Jimmer is by far the better shooter. In fact it is not even close. There was one point where Jimmer went 36/40 from just inside the 3 point line. It was insane. It was swoosh, swoosh, swoosh....Not much rim contact. So impressive. Kemba didn't shoot well. In fact it was horrid at times. He did catch fire on some NBA threes during one drill where he went 7/10. Other than that I was calculating that he shot about 34% to 40% on the day. Jimmer shot 85% to 90% for the day. Huge difference. This was so evident.
Dribbling: Kemba is a fast dribbler, but his ball control isn't refined. He was very loose with his dribbling and I could see this being a problem for him at times. Jimmer's ball handling was excellent. His crossovers, quick step, and moves to the hoop where really impressive. He looked really quick and fast today.
Passing: Jimmer had some nice passes into the big men setting up layups. They were the kind of passes that made you say, "Wow"! Kemba passed well, but nothing overly impressive.
13 June 2011
1. After watching LeBron disappear earlier in the series, I was convinced he'd be back with a vengeance. This was not the case. Whether it was Dallas' zone defense, Marion's attempts at shutting him down or some mental breakdown, LeBron never jumped to that high level great players have in big moments. A disappointment in every way.
10 June 2011
Here's one outsider's (non-Mormon, non-Utahn) perspective on Jimmer as he works out for different NBA teams in the days leading up to the draft.
As a Mormon who played at a school that suspended a top player for having sex, Fredette seems to have a squeaky clean image as a nice young boy who just wants to play basketball. But he's actually pretty brash, both for moments like this one and the way he plays on the court. At BYU, Jimmer was a gunner at BYU who took shots that once got Allen Iverson(notes) termed a ballhog who wouldn't ever learn to play within a team structure. The man plays with brass balls; nothing about his style suggests humility or aw-shucks wonder at getting the chance to play a child's game on a huge stage.
09 June 2011
I like Chuck Klosterman. While he's most well-known for his writing (Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs, Eating a Dinosaur), I was introduced to him because he's a frequent guest on Bill Simmons' podcasts. He has a very analytical mind, and is constantly challenging Simmons' arguments and why Bill feels the way he does about things. It's kind of exhausting to listen to, and it bugs Simmons sometimes, but I like it.
It doesn't matter how much I sequester myself or how thrilling the event is — if I know the game has finished, it's difficult to sustain authentic interest in what I've recorded. I inevitably fast-forward to the last two or three minutes (even when I have no vested interest in the outcome). Since I'm watching the game purely for entertainment, it shouldn't be any different from the real thing. It should, in fact, be better, just as it's more enjoyable to watch self-recorded episodes of Frontline or Storage Wars or any other traditional show that lives inside my DVR. In theory, I should be able to enjoy every single game I want to see, on my own schedule — all I need to do is avoid the Internet for a few hours and not glance at the ESPN ticker on public TV screens. But it never works: I get home, I start watching the recent past, and I find myself rushing toward the present.
So why is this?
Whoops, kinda checked out there for Games 2-4. To make up for it, here are my random thoughts on the series so far:
We'll start with a basic play-by-play of Miami's offensive possessions over the final six minutes and 50 seconds (of Game 4):
Missed jumper, missed jumper, turnover, turnover, turnover, missed jumper, missed jumper, missed jumper, missed layup, two made free throws, missed jumper, one made free throw, dunk, missed jumper.
01 June 2011
This was eerily similar to Game 5 in the Eastern Conference Finals. The Heat played it close or were down most of the game, then turned it on and smashed their opponent into the ground late. And just like Chicago, Miami shot poorly, but their own defense kept them in the game to allow them a shot at closing it out strong.
31 May 2011
27 May 2011
I watched the fourth quarter of Game 5, and was struck by how similar it was to Game 5 in the Dallas/OKC series. Young team is up late, the lead seems fairly insurmountable, and the veterans get it done, closing on a huge run to win it all.
LeBron hounded Derrick Rose into a 1-10 shooting night, including blocking that series-clinching 3-point attempt.
25 May 2011
Well, that was somewhat anticlimactic.
20 May 2011
Much like the Heat were able to do in the East, the Thunder came out and stole home court advantage from the Mavs last night. It was a fun game to watch, as both teams shot well and the first quarter was a flurry of great passes and alley-oop dunks (thrown by the 43-year-old Jason Kidd) that got everyone excited. Marion in particular threw one down that I was amazed he was able to catch. I guess the Matrix still has it to some extent.
19 May 2011
Heat/Bulls tied 1-1 after two games in Chicago.
10 May 2011
Here's what the Bulls offense looked like in the fourth quarter (of Game 4):
Carlos Boozer missed layup; Rose made 10-footer; Rose made 14-footer + 1 free throw; Rose made layup; Rose missed layup (blocked by Teague); offensive rebound; Rose missed 14-footer; offensive rebound; Rose missed 8-footer; Rose missed layup; Kyle Korver made 17-footer (Rose assists); C.J. Watson turnover; Taj Gibson 2-for-2 at the line; shot clock violation; Rose turnover; Luol Deng missed three-pointer; offensive rebound; Rose made 7-footer and the foul; Rose misses free throw; Rose made layup; Rose missed layup; Rose missed 6-footer; Rose turnover; Salvatore’s blown call; Korver missed three-pointer; Deng made layup (Rose assists); Korver turnover; Rose made layup.
In summary: The Bulls' fourth quarter offense consisted of only 2 assists (both by Rose), 4 free throw attempts, 5 turnovers and 17 field goal attempts...12 by Rose.
03 May 2011
Major upsets across the NBA in this, the second round of the playoffs in 2011. The Grizzlies stuck it to Kevin Durant and his Thunder in Oklahoma City, Dallas overcame a 16-point deficit to beat the Lakers in L.A and Atlanta has a 1-0 lead on the Bulls going into Game 2 Wednesday.
29 April 2011
Things certainly felt... final last night in the National Basketball Association.
27 April 2011
It seems a lot of the Jazz talk on the radio this offseason has been doom-and-gloom type stuff. Lots of complaining about losing Deron, about the team's record over the last half of the season and a longing for the good ol' days when the Jazz were in the Western Conference Finals.
25 April 2011
Of course, it ended up being one of the worst games of his career, but still.
[Rondo joined] Magic Johnson, Jason Kidd, Larry Bird, Wilt Chamberlain, Oscar Robertson and LeBron James as the only players in NBA history to record six career playoff triple doubles.
22 April 2011
My buddy Stu took some time to compile the average years played in the NBA for each team in the league. I told him if he sent me the data I'd blog it, so here I am.
-San Antonio for winning 61 games while having the average experience of squads like the Pacers and Nuggets. I had no idea Duncan, Parker and Ginobili were surrounded by such relative newcomers.
19 April 2011
-So the Heat smacked the Sixers around for a while last night, and when all was said and done they led the series 2-0. Philly shot 34% for the game, despite a decent night from Evan Turner. If the Heat win it all this season, it's going to be on their defense, and their defense looked good here.
Had the officials whistled Perkins for an illegal touch, the Nuggets would have gotten possession with a one-point lead and just over a minute remaining in regulation; instead, the Thunder took a one-point advantage and held on for a 107-103 win to take a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven first-round series.
...you should probably be up for putting Dwight Howard's grinning mug up on Mt. Rushmore for leading this group of sieves to the third-best defense in the NBA in 2010-11.