Michael's Sports Blog

NBA Playoffs 2011 Conference Semifinals Coming Up

The opening round of the NBA playoffs has finished, and eight teams are now left.  There were a few upsets in the opening round, which led to an exciting beginning of the playoffs.

The two matchups in the Eastern Conference will now be the Boston Celtics vs. the Miami Heat and the Chicago Bulls vs. the Atlanta Hawks.  The Boston Celtics dominated their opening series, sweeping their opponent in four games.  They seem to be playing really well as a unit right now.  The Miami Heat and the Chicago Bulls both lost one game, and showed that they could possibly be beaten in the next rounds.  The Atlanta Hawks shocked me with how easily they were able to beat the Orlando Magic in the series, and I think they have the talent to advance far in the playoffs.

The two matchups in the Western Conference will now be the Memphis Grizzlies vs. the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Los Angeles Lakers vs. the Dallas Mavericks.  The Memphis Grizzlies surprised everyone when they advanced over the San Antonio Spurs.  This was the franchises first playoff series win, and the team did that by beating the number one seed in the Western Conference.  The Lakers struggled a little bit in their first series against the New Orleans Hornets, but were able to advance.  Hopefully they pull it together so they can repeat their championship.  The hottest team in the league right now, the Oklahoma City Thunder, will play an eight seed now, and I think they will handle them pretty easily.  The Dallas Mavericks proved to be a good team, which I was skeptical of because I thought they had too many older players to advance.

Predictions for the Eastern Conference: Miami Heat over the Boston Celtics in 7 games.  Atlanta Hawks over the Chicago Bulls in 6 games.

Predictions for the Western Conference: Oklahoma City Thunder over the Memphis Grizzlies in 5 games.  Los Angeles Lakers over the Dallas Mavericks in 6 games.

April 30, 2011 Posted by | NBA, Sports | , , , , | Leave a comment

2011 NFL Draft First Round Results

Today was the first round of the NFL Draft.  Listed below are the players who were selected and what team they were selected by.

Player Pos. Team Grade
Cam Newton QB Panthers 93
Von Miller OLB Broncos 97
Marcell Dareus DT Bills 97
A.J. Green WR Bengals 97
Patrick Peterson DB Cardinals 97
Julio Jones WR Falcons 95
Aldon Smith DE 49ers 93
Jake Locker QB Titans 90
Tyron Smith OT Cowboys 95
10 Blaine Gabbert QB Jaguars 96
11 J.J. Watt DE Texans 93
12 Christian Ponder QB Vikings 85
13 Nick Fairley DT Lions 94
14 Robert Quinn DE Rams 96
15 Mike Pouncey C Dolphins 92
16 Ryan Kerrigan DE Redskins 92
17 Nate Solder OT Patriots 91
18 Corey Liuget DT Chargers 93
19 Prince Amukamara DB Giants 95
20 Adrian Clayborn DE Buccaneers 89
21 Phil Taylor DT Browns 90
22 Anthony Castonzo OT Colts 94
23 Danny Watkins OG Eagles 89
24 Cameron Jordan DE Saints 95
25 James Carpenter OG Seahawks 85
26 Jonathan Baldwin WR Chiefs 85
27 Jimmy Smith DB Ravens 92
28 Mark Ingram RB Saints 92
29 Gabe Carimi OT Bears 91
30 Muhammad Wilkerson DE Jets 91
31 Cameron Heyward DE Steelers 88
32 Derek Sherrod OT Packers 87

It was no surprise to me that Cam Newton, last year’s college football Heisman winner, was selected as the number one overall pick in the draft.  He is a duel threat quarterback, having the ability to run and throw, which not many quarterbacks are capable of doing.  He had too much talent to pass up as the number one pick.  Some people thought he was not good enough to be selected here, but I think he will be a great NFL quarterback.

One of the things that surprised me during the draft was that Mark Ingram, the Heisman winner two years ago, slipped until the end of the first round.  He is a very talented running back, which is why I would give the Saints credit for the best pick in the draft.  He was definitely the best value at that point in time.

There are a few players who were expected to go in the first round who weren’t selected, so it will be interesting to see when they are selected.  I feel bad for players who sit there waiting for their names to be called, especially those who came to the actual draf and wait as others get their phone calls and walk up to the podium.

As a Chargers fan, I was happy with our pick because we got a big defensive lineman that we were missing last year.  That was definitely a problem that was lacking with our defense last year.  I thought Cameron Jordan would have been a better pick than Corey Liuget, but I’m sure the coaches know better than I do about picking players.

Cleveland, Washington, Kansas City, and New England were four teams that were involved in trading their picks for later picks.  It was fascinating to see trades in this year’s draft because of the new rules.  In recent years, teams were allowed to trade players along with picks.  However, players weren’t allowed to be traded this year with the impending lockout.  So, trades only involved pick for pick deals.  This may have caused teams to give a little more than they wanted to be able to move up their picks.

There were a few interesting facts from the draft that I figured I’d share.  According to Chris Mortensen’s Twitter, this was the first time since 1999 that three quarterbacks were taken in the top ten in the draft.  Newton, Locker, and Gabbert were all selected in the top ten.  Twelve defensive lineman were taken in this year’s draft, the most ever.  This was also the latest a running back was picked in an NFL draft, at 28th.

April 28, 2011 Posted by | NFL, Sports | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

NFL Lockout Update after Judge’s Ruling

A judge in Minnesota ruled in favor of the players on Monday, ending the NFL Lockout.  The players had filed an injunction against the owners to end the lockout that began March 12, and this ruling was definitely a move in the right direction to possibly having a season next year.  Owners are trying to put a stay on the judge’s decision, and will appeal the decision if the stay is not upheld.  The owners still want the lockout to be in place because if there is no lockout, the owners have lost their main leverage against the players.

Players are allowed to report to their team’s facilities, but there is not much they will be able to do there.  An ESPN article said: “teams were told not to open their weight rooms nor engage in any contract discussions, but to let their players in the building.”
Even though this decision has been made, there are still no trades, no free agency, and there are still many other issues involving player-owner relationships.

It will be awkward between the players and owners for a while.  Owners are upset with the decision, and players are obviously happy, and so this puts a weird relationship between the two.

April 27, 2011 Posted by | NFL, Sports | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Peyton Hillis on Madden NFL 2012 Cover

Peyton Hills on Madden Cover

SportsNation, a sports show on ESPN, unveiled today the person who will be on the cover of Madden NFL 2012.  Peyton Hillis was selected by the fans as this year’s choice, defeating Michael Vick.  Thirteen million fans participated in the voting, including one million in the final round.

The way the winner was selected was through a voting tournament playoff.  Each of the thirty-two teams had one person they selected for fans to vote on.  There were successive rounds, and each round fans voted for who they wanted to be on the cover, and those who lost were eliminated.  The final four seeds were Aaron Rodgers (the number one seed), Peyton Hillis (the number ten seed), Michael Vick (the number three seed), and Adrian Peterson (the number nine seed).  Peyton Hillis and Michael Vick advanced to the finals to determine who would be on the cover.

I was surprised that Peyton Hillis and Michael Vick were the finalists for the spot as the person on the cover.  Hillis was on a 5-11 Browns team, and although he did well, he was not the best player in the league.  I thought there were much better running backs than him who were in the running to be on the cover.  Vick had a spectacular season leading his team to a 10-6 record, and finished second in the MVP voting.  The problem I had with Vick is that it has still only been a few years since he was convicted of taking part in a dogfighting ring at his house, so it is a little too soon to have him on the cover.

I thought the person who should have been chosen to be on the cover was Aaron Rodgers.  He had an amazing year as the quarterback of the Green Bay Packers, and led them to a Super Bowl victory.  Without his play, the team wouldn’t have been able to make the run they did in the playoffs.  It also makes sense to me that the person who helped his team win the Super Bowl would be given the spot on the cover of Madden.  However, the determining factor was the fans, and they thought otherwise.

One of the fascinating aspects of determining the Madden cover is the talk of the Madden curse.  The curse is that “several players have been injured or had down years the season immediately after being on the game’s cover — including Vick, who suffered a broken leg before the 2003 season (Vick was on the cover of Madden NFL 2004, which was released in August 2003).  Hopefully this doesn’t happen to Hillis because he seems like such a nice guy.

April 27, 2011 Posted by | NFL, Sports | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

12-Year-Old Kid with a Football Trick Shot Video of His Own

Johnny Sullivan is a 12-year-old kid from Clinton, Iowa.  You probably have never heard of him, but he has become the newest internet sensation after his football trick shot video on YouTube.  In the video, he does many tricks to show off his arm.

Like my previous post about Johnny McEntee (from UConn), this kid shows great accuracy and ability to hit targets from short and long distances.  What’s so impressive is that he’s not a college quarterback like McEntee is; he is a 12-year-old with an impressive arm for someone his size.  He is able to do similar tricks to the UConn quarterback, even though he doesn’t look to be very tall.  He even adds some of his own tricks to differentiate himself from McEntee.

I always wonder after watching these types of videos how the person who makes these came up with the tricks to do.  How do they know that they can make that trick after a certain amount of attempts?  I don’t even practice trick shots when playing sports, so it intrigues me that Sullivan is so good at doing trick shots at such a young age.  I don’t think I can do any of the tricks in this video correctly.

Here’s the video:

The thing that I don’t like about these types of trick shot videos is that I have no idea how many times this kid tried each of these attempts.  He could have tried each trick one hundred times before he finally got the trick down, but I would never know that because the only shots to make the cuts are the ones that show the trick being completed.  I’m not trying to say that what this kid was able to accomplish wasn’t amazing (because it was truly amazing for someone his age), but I’m not that big of a fan of trick shot videos.

April 25, 2011 Posted by | Sports | , , , | 2 Comments

USC Spring Football Game

I went to the USC spring football game today to watch the Trojans team scrimmage against each other.  The game was won by the defense 42-29.  I found it interesting that there was a different scoring system used than in the regular season.  In this game, the defense was given points for stops and turnovers.  That clears it up for those of you wondering how there were 71 points scored in a game.

A lot of players were injured going into the game, so not all of the talent played today.  There was only one starting lineman in the game that had played a lot of minutes previously in the system.  A few other players were injured during the game, further depleting the roster.  You could tell that some of the play was sloppy, but I’m sure that can be attributed to the new group of players that were playing for the first time in a big game.  There is a still a while before the season begins for these players to get used to the spotlight.

The running backs Baxter, McNeal, and Morgan took hold of the game, rushing for a total of 300 yards as a group.  Matt Barkley threw for 212 yards with two interceptions and a receiving touchdown, which I would say wasn’t his best day.  But, like I said earlier, the whole team wasn’t there to play today, so these numbers can probably be overlooked.   Although it was probably not a highlight for many others, it was great to be able to see my friend Dozie get in for a few plays.

One of the things that disappointed me about the game was the lack of fans that were there.  The attendance was a little over 16,000 people in a stadium that fits 90,000 people.  I know that it wasn’t the most exciting game to watch because not all the starters were playing or would play the whole game, but it is still a USC football game.  SEC and Big Ten schools fill their stadium with fans for the spring game.  This just shows that some fans aren’t interested in going to games that aren’t against big time schools.  However, I enjoyed the game because I was able to see players I had never seen before play.

Matt Barkley After His Touchdown Reception

April 23, 2011 Posted by | NCAA Football, Sports | , , | Leave a comment

Sacramento Kings Moving to Anaheim to Become the Anaheim Royals?

The NBA playoffs are happening, yet many people are interested in something other than the playoffs right now.  There may be a third team moving to Southern California from Sacramento to Anaheim.  I’m sure you’re wondering why a sports team is moving from the capitol of one of the biggest states in the U.S.  The owners of the Sacramento Kings, the Maloof brothers, are fed up with the arena the team plays in now because it is old and doesn’t allow the team to maximize its revenue.  They want to move the team to Anaheim because this will help increase the team’s revenue, which in turn will help their financial troubles.

NBA Commissioner, David Stern, gave the city of Sacramento an extension until May 2 to prove their case as to why the Kings should stay in Sacramento.  The main reason the Maloofs want to leave Sacramento is because there were no plans to build a new arena in the area.  However, the extension allows the Mayor of Sacramento the chance to prove to the NBA that there is a new arena plan in place.

The mayor has done a lot to help try and change the NBA’s mind about moving the team as a Yahoo! article explained:  “He presented $9.2 million in commitments for new advertising, ticket purchases and other financial support from regional businesses and other backers to prevent the team from moving to Anaheim.  [However], a new arena feasibility plan—the major sticking point in past efforts— won’t be completed until a few weeks after the relocation deadline.”  This looks like good news for the team because it shows that the city and fans support the Kings staying in Sacramento.

I think the team should stay in Sacramento because the Kings are the only major league team in the area.  If they lose this team, what are the fans of the area supposed to do after that?  We’ll see what happens on May 2nd; the decision will be made then.

April 22, 2011 Posted by | NBA, Sports | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Cal Baseball Cut, but Now Reinstated

In my sports journalism class, I was surprised to learn that UC Berkley’s baseball was being cut due to lack of funding.  I was intrigued that a school that was part of the Pac-10 conference (now the Pac-12) didn’t have enough money to keep a sports team.   The baseball players were devastated when they heard the news because some had just come to the program and did not know that they were going to have to transfer schools with the loss of the program.  There were early efforts to save the team through fundraising, but the team received $1.5-$2.5 million, when they needed at least $10 million to save the program.

Cal was able to raise $15 million in total for its sport’s teams, enough to save women’s gymnastics, women’s lacrosse, and men’s rugby, but not men’s baseball or men’s gymnastics.  The two women’s sports teams were kept along with one men’s team to meet the Title IX requirements.  Title IX outlaws sex discrimination against school programs that receive federal aid.  The school must meet a requirement on the percentage of female and male athletes, and by keeping two women’s teams and one men’s team, they were able to do this.

It made no sense to me that Cal was cutting a baseball program that started the season ranked eighth in college baseball.  I would assume this team gave a lot of revenue to the school.   The first thought that came to my mind was: “How could you do that to your players?”  However, I learned that it was due to the budget cuts set by Governor Jerry Brown, that reduced funding to UC schools by $80 million.  The school needed more money than many other sports to support the team due the amount of travelling that baseball teams take part in, so unless funding was given, they would be cut.

Players, fans, and coaches kept confident that they were somehow in the near future going to get enough money to keep the program.  A UC Berkley news article said it best about the situation: “The fate of the Golden Bears baseball team remained in doubt until former Bears pitcher Stu Gordon presented Chancellor Robert Birgeneau with philanthropic pledges totaling $9 million.”  With this pledge, the Cal baseball team was reinstated, and players will not have to transfer schools.  I am glad someone was generous enough to give money to the team so that they will be able to play for years to come.

April 21, 2011 Posted by | NCAA Baseball, Sports | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

One and Done NCAA Basketball Players

In recent news, Bob Knight, a Hall of Fame coach and college basketball’s winningest coach, talked about his distaste for college basketball players attending school for one year and then leaving for the NBA.  In an ESPN article, Knight brought up how Kentucky University coach, John Calipari, has a “habit of recruiting players who spend just a year on campus before bolting for the NBA.  The Wildcats started five underclassmen last spring, four of whom went on to become first-round NBA draft picks last June.”  He even did the same thing at the University of Memphis when he was there.

I agree that Kentucky has a practice of bringing in players who only attend school for rarely more than a year, but there are many other teams that use this same tactic (for example: Ohio State).  With the rule change a few years ago that got rid of players being able to go to the NBA straight out of high school, many athletes are attending college specifically to be eligible for the NBA draft.  They go to school, but don’t really care about learning or the team very much.  This degrades college basketball because you know that some people would rather be in the NBA, but are forced to play in college before they are able to do so.  Although the players are improving their game in college, you know that if the rule wasn’t in place that makes the players attend college, they would be in NBA uniforms right now.

I am not a fan of players attending school and leaving early.  I remember before the rule change that many players would stay much longer than a year in college because they enjoyed playing at the collegiate level.  I was able to follow a team and know their big name players because they had been there for a long time.  Now, there are so many players leaving early that it’s hard for me to keep track of who is on a team.  For example, the Kentucky team in the 2009-2010 season had a completely different starting five from the team of the 2010-2011 season.  The coach was able to get many new recruits, who most likely will leave early for the NBA like the many who did on the previous year’s team.

I can’t fault the coaches, however, for getting these recruits who then leave after their first season.  Someone has to take these players.  If the NCAA wants to try and put a stop to college basketball players abusing the college system, then a new rule needs to be enacted that will change the amount of time players have to stay in college.  If a new rule is put into place, maybe those who would like to leave after one year will play in Europe instead of college to be eligible for the NBA.

April 19, 2011 Posted by | NCAA Basketball, Sports | , , , , | Leave a comment

Lane Kiffin’s Visor Video

Everyone who knows USC football knows that Lane Kiffin, the coach of the football team, likes wearing visors to USC games.  I recently came across this video made by USC athletics that I thought was very well done.  It starts off with a man carrying a mischievous briefcase across campus, leaving you to guess what’s inside.  At the end you find out what’s inside- Lane Kiffin’s visor.

The video was a way to get people pumped up for the upcoming season, and encourages people to buy tickets for next season.  Here’s the video.

April 17, 2011 Posted by | NCAA Football, Sports | , , , , | 1 Comment