Saturday, December 19, 2009

Let's go bowling!

The college football bowl game season is upon us, and I figured I would do something crazy like throw out some guesses for the scores of each game. Then I saw an espn.com article that did the same thing. So although it was not my intention to compare how I do with my picks relative to how an "expert" does, that will be a byproduct of this post.

If you have any picks for any or all bowls, leave a comment or send your picks in an email. I can put it up as a guest post if you would like.

New Mexico: Fresno State 34, Wyoming 17
St. Petersburg: Rutgers 31, UCF 24
R&L Carriers New Orleans: Southern Miss 35, Middle Tenn. St. 27
MAACO Las Vegas Oregon State 28, BYU 24
San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia: Utah 24, California 21
Sheraton Hawaii: Nevada 38, SMU 28
Emerald: USC 24, Boston College 17
Meineke Car Care: Pittsburgh 27, North Carolina 20
Little Caesars (!): Marshall 28 Ohio 24
Gaylord Hotels Music City: Clemson 24, Kentucky 14
Independence: Georgia 24, Texas A&M 17
Champs Sports: Miami 34, Wisconsin 20
EagleBank: UCLA 23, Temple 17
Pacific Life Holiday: Arizona 17, Nebraska 13
Roady's Humanitarian: Idaho 34 Bowling Green 28
Texas: Missouri 35, Navy 14
Bell Helicopter Armed Forces: Houston 42, Air Force 28
Brut Sun: Stanford 27, Oklahoma 21
Insight: Minnesota 28, Iowa State 10
Chick-fil-A: Virginia Tech 31, Tennessee 20
Outback: Auburn 20, Northwestern 17
Capital One: LSU 27, Penn State 17
Konica Minolta Gator: West Virginia 31, Florida State 20
Rose presented by Citi: Oregon 24, Ohio State 21
Allstate Sugar: Florida 30, Cincinnati 21
AT&T Cotton: Oklahoma State 24, Mississippi 21
AutoZone Liberty: East Carolina 24, Arkansas 20
International: South Florida 30, Northern Illinois 7
Papajohns.com: South Carolina 27, Connecticut 17
Valero Alamo: Texas Tech 38, Michigan State 21
Tostitos Fiesta: TCU 38, Boise State 20
FedEx Orange: Georgia Tech 17, Iowa 14
GMAC: Troy 24, Central Michigan 21
Citi National Championship: Alabama 31, Texas 21

2009-10 NBA award winner predictions

This is the third annual "post like this" I am doing. Bear with me.

MVP - It would be fun to go with somewhat of a darkhorse pick here, maybe Brandon Roy, or even Tony Parker, or a slightly less darkhorse pick like Carmelo Anthony. Realistically, though, it will probably be one of the top 5 candidates from last year -- LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade, Dwight Howard or Chris Paul. I will go with a pretty generic/universal pick here: LeBron James.

Rookie of the Year - Right before the season started, it was announced that Clippers forward and No. 1 overall pick Blake Griffin would be on the shelf with an injury for six weeks. I really have/had some big expectations for him, so I tried to convince myself that he mightcould win Rookie of the Year anyway. I couldn't convince myself. And more than six weeks have already passed. It looks like it'll be a battle between the Bucks' Brandon Jennings and the Kings' Tyreke Evans. My pick: Tyreke Evans

Defensive Player of the Year - From here on down until the end of the post, this predicting process gets a lot more difficult. We'll go with Dwight Howard repeating last year's DPOY performance.

Sixth Man - I'll go for Jason Terry, which would be another repeat, along with Howard and James. But you can't count out new Atlanta Hawk Jamal Crawford or previous winners Manu Ginobili and Leandro Barbosa.

Most Improved - The winner of this award is usually somebody who gets more opportunities than he did in the previous season--not necessarily someone whose skills drastically improve, although that is sometimes the case. This could mean a young player on a young team or someone who will get more opportunities because of injuries, etc. Someone for the Rockets (Ariza, Scola, Brooks, Landry?) or Kings (Jason Thompson, Donte Greene, Spencer Hawes?) could win. A talented youngster on a middling-to-bad team could win it. Think Anthony Randolph of Golden State. OK, that's my pick. Anthony Randolph.

Coach of the Year - This award generally goes to a coach of a team that exceeds expectations or improves tremendously from the previous season. Scott Brooks of the OKC Thunder comes to mind because his team should be improved. But I will take Rick Adelman of the injury-ravaged Rockets. They'll be competitive even without some of their stars.

Friday, December 18, 2009

2010 preliminary playoff predictions

I'm finally moving on from the regular-season portion of my early predictions (those last two posts took waaay too long) and delving into some early playoff picks. Remember, this is sort of like a season preview except we're more than a quarter of the way into this thing.

First Round
East
(1) Boston Celtics defeat (8) Toronto Raptors
(2) Orlando Magic def. (7) Philadelphia 76ers
(3) Cleveland Cavaliers def. (6) Chicago Bulls
(4) Atlanta Hawks def. (5) Miami Heat. If this first-round rematch occurs, expect the same result: four Atlanta victories.

West
(1) Los Angeles Lakers def. (8) New Orleans Hornets
(2) San Antonio Spurs def. (7) Phoenix Suns. Wouldn't it be funny to see these two teams hook up again after all their recent playoff battles (2003, '05, '07, '08--all won by the Spurs)?
(3) Portland Trail Blazers def. (6) Utah Jazz
(4) Denver Nuggets def. (5) Dallas Mavericks. These teams met in the second round in '09.

Conference Semifinals
(1) Boston Celtics def. (4) Atlanta Hawks
(2) Orlando Magic def. (3) Cleveland Cavaliers. Rematch of Eastern finals.

(1) Los Angeles Lakers def. (4) Denver Nuggets. Rematch of Western finals.
(2) San Antonio Spurs def. (3) Portland Trail Blazers

Conference Finals
(2) Orlando Magic def. (1) Boston Celtics. This one is basically a coin flip for me, but it seems Boston has a more injury-prone team, so I gave the edge to the Magic. Orlando beat Boston in the 2nd round last season, but Garnett did not play in that series.

(1) Los Angeles Lakers def. (2) San Antonio Spurs. Battle of the top franchises of the decade.

NBA Finals
Los Angeles Lakers def. Orlando Magic. I wouldn't be surprised to see a rematch of either of the last two Finals (L.A. vs. either Orlando or Boston). Hollywood repeats its title.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

2009-10 NBA Western Conference musical preview

I hope you enjoyed the Eastern Conference musical NBA preview. Now let's take a look at the West.

Southwest Division

San Antonio Spurs (2) - "It's Not My Time" by 3 Doors Down
You may think their time as title contenders has passed. But they're still in the hunt.

Dallas Mavericks (5) - "Getting Better" by The Beatles
They re-tooled their lineup by adding Shawn Marion, Drew Gooden and Rodrigue Beaubois to their core of Nowitzki, Howard, Terry and Kidd.

New Orleans Hornets (8) - "How Do I Live" by LeAnn Rimes
Without talented point guard Chris Paul, this team would have a hard time living.

Houston Rockets - MASH theme
With Yao Ming out for the season and Tracy McGrady missing a good chunk of games, Luis Scola may be the Rockets' best player. While that normally wouldn't be a good thing, the Rockets should fare better than one would expect when looking at them on paper (Remember the 7-game series with the Lakers last season when Yao and T-Mac were hurt?). Former Rockets player Charles Barkley said they would have the worst record in the West this season. I say Barkley is wrong.

Memphis Grizzlies - "Sweet Dreams" by Beyonce
As the song says, "you could be a sweet dream or a beautiful nightmare." You have plenty of scorers--O.J. Mayo, Rudy Gay, Allen Iverson, Zach Randolph--but most of them would much rather shoot than pass (or play defense). I am guessing they will be more of a nightmare than a dream. UPDATE: Iverson has since parted ways with the Grizzlies.

Northwest Division

Portland Trail Blazers (3) - "Electric Youth" by Debbie Gibson
This young squad coming off a 54-win season should only get better in upcoming seasons.

Denver Nuggets (4) - "This Kiss" by Faith Hill
This song is for Kenyon Martin, who somehow decided it was a good idea to have a tattoo of lipstick marks on his neck.

Utah Jazz (6) - "Should I Stay or Should I Go" by The Clash
Carlos Boozer heads into the final season of his contract reportedly unhappy to play in Utah. Would it make sense for the Jazz to trade Boozer now, or to just let him play out his contract and hope to make a splash in the free agent market. FYI: The Jazz own New York's 2010 first-round draft pick.

Oklahoma City Thunder - "Fallin' For You" by Colbie Caillat
With four top-five picks -- Kevin Durant, Jeff Green, Russell Westbrook and James Harden -- since 2007, this team should be on the rise in the near future. However, many fans and analysts seem to like their present even more than I do. Here is one article about what's going down in OKC.

Minnesota Timberwolves - "Hungry Like the Wolf" by Duran Duran
What the Wolves will be starving for is a few wins. It's too bad draft pick Ricky Rubio didn't make it across the pond this season.

Pacific Division

Los Angeles Lakers (1) - "We Are the Champions" by Queen
This is me paying respects to Hollywood's team not only for being the defending champs, but also because they have a good chance of repeating in '10.

Phoenix Suns (7) - End of the Road by Boyz II Men
This may be the first time in the past half-decade or so that the Suns didn't enter the season as a highly regarded championship contender. Have they come to the end of the road?

Los Angeles Clippers - "One Day" by Matisyahu
"Sometimes in my tears I drown/but I never let it get me down/so when negativity surrounds/I know one day it'll all turn around because/All my life I've been waiting for, I've been praying for..." These lyrics almost make Matisyahu sound like a Clipper fan. Which would be really rough because, despite all of the high draft picks, most of them have been busts (i.e. Michael Olowokandi), have suffered injury (as Blake Griffin did before playing a single regular-season NBA game) or have left as free agents after a few short years (a la Lamar Odom).

Golden State Warriors - "Falls Apart" by Sugar Ray
Things looked promising for the Dubs after the 2007 playoff upset of the Mavericks. Since then, they've lost some key players, including Baron Davis and Stephen Jackson (he departed early this season), and things have fallen apart to some degree. However, they may have enough young talent to provide fans with hope.

Sacramento Kings - "Bonito" by Jarabe de Palo
This franchise had a few good seasons in the early part of this decade. Before then -- and since then -- things have been less than rosy. Still, the Sactown faithful seem to maintain a positive outlook while supporting their team.

Friday, November 13, 2009

2009-10 NBA Eastern Conference musical preview

A couple of weeks into the season, here comes my NBA preview, starting with the East. You may have noticed my NBA previews in the past.

This one will be much different, with as much music as basketball.

By the way, if winning the championship is the only thing that matters, then coming into the season, it looked as if only five teams would matter: Lakers, Celtics, Spurs, Magic and Cavaliers. I guess we'll see.

Teams will be listed in order of their predicted standing in their division. Playoff teams' seeding will be in parentheses.

Atlantic Division

Boston Celtics (1) - "Bad" by Michael Jackson
They'll talk trash, strut and try to intimidate you. And they won't back down from an opponent. Newcomer Rasheed Wallace has the record for most technical fouls in a season and in a career. Kevin Garnett picks on smaller guys and bangs his head against both the basket support and the basketball.

Philadelphia 76ers (7) - "Run" by Collective Soul
They have a group of youngters who seem to fit a run-'n-gun game plan. Their highest-paid player, Elton Brand probably needs a half-court style of play to be most successful. Does Brand fit into the team's game plan? Would anyone trade for his contract?

Toronto Raptors (8) - "Around the World" by Daft Punk
One of the most "international" teams in the Association -- and the only one from outside the United States-- features a Canadian coach and players from Italy, Slovenia, Turkey and Spain.

New York Knicks - "Build Me Up Buttercup" by The Foundations
Knicks management will inspire hope in the New York faithful for a big 2010 free agent signee, i.e. LeBron James or Chris Bosh, but their hopes may come crashing down next summer.

New Jersey Nets - "I Like to Move It" from "Madagascar"
They have a new owner from Russia, and they could be moving to Brooklyn soon.

Central Division

Cleveland Cavaliers (3) - King Without a Crown by Matisyahu
Although basketball is a team sport, "King James" will not officially be crowned in many people's eyes until he is an NBA champion -- whether that's fair or not is up to you to decide.

Chicago Bulls (6) - "Eye In The Sky" by Alan Parsons Project
This young team is looking to the future, but their intro song takes you back to the Jordan-Pippen era.

Detroit Pistons - "Yesterday" by the Beatles
They played in six straight Eastern Conference Finals from 2003 to 2008. Last year they lost more games than they won. Pistons fans long for yesteryear.

Indiana Pacers - "White and Nerdy" by Weird Al Yankovic
I feel bad just for making a connection between the Pacers, whiteness and nerdiness, but I noticed the team from the Hoosier state has six white guys--quite a few by NBA standards--and I figured I would link to this funny song and video.

Milwaukee Bucks - "Down Under" by Men at Work
In order to make big strides, the Bucks need Australian big man Andrew Bogut to play like he's a former No. 1 overall draft pick (which is exactly what he is). Besides, I'll take any excuse to put up this song/video.

Southeast Division

Orlando Magic (2) - "So Close, Yet So Far Away" by Hall and Oates "Welcome Back, Kotter" theme "All I Want" by Toad the Wet Sprocket
Explanation of the three songs and how they relate to the Magic: 1) Orlando had a couple of Finals games they easily could have won, which would have put them in the running to win the series, and yet you never really felt they would win. 2) Daytona Beach native Vince Carter is making a homecoming of sorts. 3) If you read some of Dwight Howard's quotes after the Finals, you got an idea of how badly he wants to win a championship.

Atlanta Hawks (4) - "Fly" by Sugar Ray
This song title is a lame pun based on the facts that Hawks are birds and, as such, can fly. But besides that, they also have some great athletes, namely Josh Smith. Plus, they have flown up the list of Eastern Conference teams.

Miami Heat (5) - "The Heat is On" by Glenn Frey; "Please Don't Leave Me" by Pink
Check out the cool mullet in the first video. The second song represents the Heat brass asking Dwyane Wade not to sign elsewhere in free agency (This song could just as easily be applied to the LeBron-Cavaliers situation).

Washington Wizards - "Everybody Hurts" by R.E.M.
The Wiz have scorers and talent, but they also have injury-prone players and poor defense.

Charlotte Bobcats - "First Time" by Lifehouse
This squad, now entering its sixth season, has never made the playoffs. Could Larry Brown's team sneak in for the first time in 2010?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Twilight Halloween -- Edward and Bella

On Halloween night, my wife and I dressed up as the lead characters from Twilight (You can probably guess whose idea this was). We bought some clothes/stuff to help us look the part. How do you think it turned out?


And here are our model photos.



We did okay, huh?
We even made a little Twilight video...


video

...with the requisite outtakes for the DVD...

video

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Ginobili Swats Bat; Spurs Defeat Kings

Are the two things mentioned in the title above related to each other? I say "Why not?"

A bat flew around the AT&T Center on Halloween during a game between the San Antonio Spurs and the Sacramento Kings. You may even see that if flew above the Kings' Kevin Martin as he attempted a shot in the video below.

Later on, Manu Ginobili decided enough was enough. He wacked the bat and potentially rescued thousands of people in the stadium from a bat attack.



Here is another video, this time with a hometown-announcer slant.


Here are some quotes from the Spurs after the game regarding Manu's bat "heroics."

From teammate Tony Parker said: "That was amazing. The legend continues with Manu. Unbelievable. ... He's always doing crazy stuff."
Coach Gregg Popovich said, "The drummer that he marches to sometimes is a little bit different. He never ceases to amaze me and he just did it again. The legend grows. It's incredible on Halloween night. You would call someone a liar if they told you that story."
Manu was less impressed with himself. "When you can't dunk anymore, you have to find a way to make it into the news," he said. "So that's what I did. I grabbed a bat. I didn't think it was a big deal."

The fallout from the incident, however, was not all good. Gino had to get a battery of rabies shots, just in case the bat was rabid. Some organization that squawks loudly to get attention vehemently defends animals' rights said that Manu was a small man-u, even though he is 6'6".

And this is Manu's comment from his Facebook page:

Just wanted to give you guys an update on the bat situation. As many of you already know, it wasn't a great idea. Not only for the fact that bats are great part of the ecosystem, but also, because some carry rabies, which is an incurable disease. That's why I had to get vaccinated today (and it wasn't just one shot!).
Only 0.5% to 3% of the bat populations carry the disease, but if you can't find the animal, it's not recommended to take any risks, it can kill you! Since after the incident, the usher took it outside and the bat flew away (not lying!), there was no way of knowing if he was infected or not, so I had to do the safe thing.
Finally, please, don't do it at home or anywhere, avoid contact with bats, skunks, raccoons, rats and animals like that.

The High Ate Us

So a good number of months have passed since I've posted on this here blog. As the cool people say, it's been a minute. I have a number of things I've been planning to post -- and I've been holding on to some of them for several minutes, if you know what I mean -- but for various reasons I haven't gotten around to writing.

Here is a summary of some of the reasons, in no particular order:

1) Motivation - How many blogs have regular posts when they start out, then they fall off the face of the earth?
2) Money - I don't get paid for this blog. Some folks put ads on their blogs and make money for it, but in most cases it's a pretty meager sum. Like it or not, sometimes you have to focus on doing things that make money. That includes working for pay and/or looking for work that pays.
3) Time - It's said that time is of the essence. The essence of what? Probably just about everything, really. So time may make it difficult to put up a post. Some of my posts have only taken me a few minutes. However, some have taken a few hours, believe it or not.
4) What was reason #4 again?
5) Priority - This relates to #s 2 and 3. If you need to make money, and you are doing several different things with your time, then you must prioritize. Assigning different levels of importance to things you do sometimes means leaving some things out. You can do good things, better things, and maybe even "best" things. Hopefully, when we omit some good things, we are doing better or best things. Or even bestest things.

I will continue to post on the blog. Sometimes it will be basketball related, sometimes it will be personal stuff, etc. I can't guarantee how often I will write, but I will write.

Just for making it this far down the page, I will give you a visual/audio cookie. It's a reminder not to take everything too literally. On second thought, maybe you do want to take things literally. Oh, and if you figured out what this post's title means, give yourself a pat on the back. As always, comments are appreciated.


Saturday, January 31, 2009

Mid-season NBA review of my NBA preview

So how are my preseason individual award and team predictions panning out so far? Let's take a look:

Individual awards
MVP
Preseason pick: LeBron James, Cavaliers.
Current Front-runner: James. MVP buzz early in the season can snowball and carry throughout the season. Thanks to his suberb stats and the Cavs' standing as one of the best teams in the league, it's hard to see someone unseating the King from his pole position in the MVP race.
The Best of the Rest: Chris Paul, Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard, Dwyane Wade

Rookie of the Year
Preseason pick: Michael Beasley, Heat
Current Front-runner: Derrick Rose, Bulls
The Best of the Rest: O.J. Mayo, Russell Westbrook

Defensive Player of the Year
Preseason pick: Ron Artest, Rockets
Current Front-runner: Dwight Howard, Magic
The Best of the Rest: I've seen a few names thrown out by espn.com's awards man, such as Kevin Garnett, Wade, Bryant, James, Paul and Marcus Camby.

6th Man of the Year
Preseason pick: Lamar Odom, Lakers
Current Front-runner: Jason Terry, Mavericks. Manu Ginobili may have a better all-around game, but his limited minutes and early-season injury -- combined with Terry's scoring average at around 20 per game -- will help Terry's cause.
The Best of the Rest: Ginobili, Andrei Kirilenko

Most Improved Player
Preseason pick: Rodney Stuckey, Pistons
Current Front-runner: Beats me. How about Danny Granger, Pacers. It's interesting to note that many of the top candidates are All-Stars or All-Star candidates this year.
The Best of the Rest: Jameer Nelson, Devin Harris, Jeff Green, Paul Millsap, Kevin Durant, Stuckey

Coach of the Year
Preseason pick: Rick Adelman, Rockets
Current Front-runner: Stan Van Gundy, Magic. Or Mike Brown, Cavaliers. It's almost a toss-up. The Best of the Rest: Nate McMillan, Phil Jackson, Gregg Popovich, George Karl, Doc Rivers, Erik Spoelstra

Team Performances
So far, things have shaken out similarly to what I expected. Some examples:
  • A Celtics-Lakers Finals rematch certainly doesn't appear to be out of the question.

  • Ditto for my prediction of a Cavs-Celtics ECF, and maybe a Lakers-Hornets WCF.

  • 13 of my 16 playoff picks are in position to make the postseason; the three I didn't choose were among my most difficult playoff omissions.

On the other hand...
I had the Washington Wizards returning for a fifth-consecutive playoff appearance. That obviously will not happen; the only things the Wiz are contending for may be a high draft pick and potentially the worst record in the league this season. I guess the injury to Gilbert Arenas (and Brendan Haywood) had a bigger impact than I expected.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

NBA All-Star '09: Who will be there?

The fans have spoken and, for the most part, they've done a good job selecting the All-Star starters. Here they are:
West:
Guard - Kobe Bryant, Chris Paul
Forward - Tim Duncan, Amare Stoudemire
Center - Yao Ming

East:
Guard - Dwyane Wade, Allen Iverson
Forward - LeBron James, Kevin Garnett
Center - Dwight Howard
Not bad. The sketchiest pick is probably Iverson, who may not have made the team without his popularity with the fans. Now the coaches' picks for the All-Star reserves will be announced later tonight. There is sure to be plenty of complaining about who should have made it once these selections are released.

Here is my list of predictions for the All-Star reserves, based on a combination of what I think will happen and what should happen. Remember only seven guys from each conference can make it.

West:
These guys are very likely to make the team: Brandon Roy, Dirk Nowitzki, Chauncey Billups
My other picks: Shaquille O'Neal, Tony Parker, Pau Gasol, Al Jefferson
Other possibilities: Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant, Steve Nash
Darkhorses: Jason Terry, David West, Paul Millsap, Deron Williams, Manu Ginobili

Jefferson and Durant are in the same situation: they're good young players putting up good stats on bad teams. However, their fortunes have turned around lately with the Timberwolves 10-3 in January with one game (vs. the Lakers) left in the month, and the Thunder winning six of their last nine games. Carmelo's situation could be compromised by an injury, though he is now cleared to play again.

East
Very likely: Danny Granger, Chris Bosh, Joe Johnson
Likely: Paul Pierce, Devin Harris
My other picks: Jameer Nelson, Ray Allen
Other possibilities: Vince Carter, Hedo Turkoglu, Rashard Lewis
Darkhorses: Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Mo Williams, Tayshaun Prince, David Lee

Team record could be the deciding factor in some of these choices. The Boston Three Party might all make the team, and Ray Allen is shooting the lights out, which, along with team record, could propel him ahead of one of the Nets' two candidates. A second Orlando player (Nelson, Lewis, Turkoglu) would appear likely to be chosen. We'll see if LeBron gets a Cavs teammate in Phoenix.

The Eastern Conference predictions come with one caveat: selecting a backup center is mandatory, and I didn't choose a true center. However, coaches can list a player under their secondary position if they get substantial playing time at that spot. In this case, I make the assumption that Bosh gets picked as a center. Otherwise, it could be Ilgauskas, or another hybrid forward/center who plays center more often than Bosh (David Lee?).

UPDATE: The coaches votes are in, and I got them right, except David West got Al Jefferson's spot in the West, and Rashard Lewis is there in the East instead of Ray Allen.
Re-UPDATE: The NBA's commish has chosen Ray Allen as the injury replacement for Jameer Nelson. Mo Williams was later selected as an injury replacement for Chris Bosh.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

For a student, there's nothing better than straight A's

It's time again to give credit where credit is due. If you remember (or even if you don't remember), last year I chronicled my wife's impressive GPA for winter semester. With her fall semester grades now posted, I can say she's done it again -- she followed up all those A's (and a single A-) with A-minuses and an A. That means she scored in the "A" range for every class she took in 2008. Mad props, yo!