Monday, August 25, 2008

Arizona has a better chance with Warner

By: Byron Parker

If you're a Matt Leinart fan, it would probably be difficult to find a reason for him to be the starter for the 08-09 NFL season. Sure you could say that "he's the future" and "he needs to play in order to get better," but that isn't the mindset that Ken Whisenhunt is in. With Leinart only in his 3rd year and yet to show signs of improvement, it's best to sit him for a minimum of this season.

Whisenhunt is showing that he wants to win now and his team is close to doing just that. After finishing with an 8-8 record last season, allowing Leinart to start this season would be a step back for this franchise. Warner has basically turned this team into a contender on his own, based upon what he was able to do last season without starting all 16 games. It's possible to make a case that last year was one of his best statistical seasons; Warner finished the season with 27 touchdowns and 3,417 passing yards--not bad for a 37 year old, right?

Leinart has been ineffective since being drafted and he has yet to show NFL fans the Leinart that led the USC Trojans to three National Championship games. This however, doesn't make him a bust like some would like to begin to label him as. Leinart is still young and has really been in some strange situations during his tenure as a Cardinal. He really had a lot of pressure on him by being looked upon as the future of the franchise. Leinart didn't have anybody to sit behind during his young career and that forced him to become the go-to-guy for this team. But when it comes to playing in the NFL, Leinart is still a bit immature on the field--and if you type his name in the google image search, he may be a little immature off the field as well. Nonetheless, Leinart just needs sometime to learn the NFL and he can do that behind Warner.

Leinart's a cool guy, and that makes everybody want to see him succeed in the NFL. That will happen eventually, but the truth is that it won't happen now. Everybody wants to see him become the quarterback that he is supposed to be, but it will take time for him. That's the mistake that some franchises make when developing a quarterback. They sometimes get selfish and want to shine the spotlight on their quarterback to better the image of the franchise. But if you're a GM, that's not the route to go if you want to have you're quarterback mentally stable for the future.

Fortunately, Whisenhunt has realized that and decided to make the best decision by starting Warner. With the organization realizing that they are "potential" contenders in the NFC West, they feel that they have a better chance at winning with Warner at the starting QB position. I mean, it's kind of hard to turn down a guy who was a Super Bowl MVP and has been selected to three Pro Bowls, especially when he's competing with a quarterback who still has yet to prove anything in this league.

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Wednesday, July 9, 2008


Friday, June 27, 2008

2008 NBA Draft Grades: How'd your team do?

By: Byron Parker

Atlanta Hawks: Ineligible
The Hawks didn't have a pick in this draft due to the trade to Phoenix in getting Joe Johnson. Johnson has been a great asset to the Hawks so far in his tenure, so it has worked out so far for them.

Boston Celtics: B
With the Celtics coming off of an NBA Championship, they really didn't have a reason to get in depth into this draft. But they do have a lot of potential free agents, and they may need to find some players to replace the ones that may not come back. With them selecting J.R. Giddens, they were able to get a decent 2-guard, and that is a position that they may need help in with all of the potential free agents coming out of Boston. And even though Boston will most likely have two big men leaving in Scot Pollard and P.J. Brown, they were able to grab Bill Walker from Washington. He will be sitting behind Glen Davis, Leon Powe, Kendrick Perkins and Kevin Garnett, but he is somebody that could make an impact in the future for the C's. They may have taken a chance with him due to his knee problems, but when healthy, he could make a slight impact as a bench player. He's not really a steal though, and neither is Giddens, but they can make an NBA roster as good role players.

Charlotte Bobcats: C+
The pick of Alexis Ajinca is pretty decent by the Bobcats organization. He may not be a numbers guy, but he is big and lengthy. With Emeka Okafor playing the center position now, Ajinca could potentially come in and slide Okafor down the PF, which is his true position. The thing with Ajinca is that he is skinny and scouts say that he is a weak inside presence. The Bobcats will have to be patient with him because he will need to gain some pounds in order to be an impact in the middle. It will take him a couple of years, especially with Sean May in front of him. They also took D.J. Augustin who has more of an upside than Raymond Felton does. He is 5'11 and that makes him sort of a risky pick. Most players at his size really don't threaten the NBA. He can make a good back up point, but he is really a toss up. Depending on how Raymond Felton can manage Larry Brown's team later on down the line, Augustin may find himself playing the PG role on a potential playoff team; almost like Jameer Nelson does for the Orlando Magic.

Chicago Bulls: A
The Bulls made a solid choice with the No.1 overall pick. Many feel that Michael Beasley could've been the answer--and he may have been--but Derrick Rose has great basketball instincts at his position and he is an upgrade from Kirk Hinrich. Rose will have the pressure of playing in his hometown, but that is the last thing that he should be worried about. He also has great size for the PG position at 6'3. Rose has drawn comparisons from Chris Paul to Deron Williams; a great passer with scoring ability. The Bulls will do well with Rose running the point, whether it's this season or in the future.

Cleveland Cavaliers: B
The pick of J.J. Hickson gives the Cavs a little bit of hope for helping LeBron. He is a big man who could really replace the presence of Drew Gooden, who they truly miss in the paint. Hickson is more of a scorer than Gooden is, and he plays pretty good defense. With him next to Ben Wallace on the defensive end, it will be difficult for teams to drive the ball to the basket on those two. On the offensive end, he and Wallace are both tremendous rebounders and the Cavs could use that. He still has some mental growing to do, but he could make good use of his position in a Cavs uniform. Not the best pick, but a solid pick for Cleveland.

Dallas Mavericks: C-
Dallas shipped off their first round pick for Jason Kidd towards the last quarter of the season, and that hasn't really been the best fit for them. Their pick of Shan Foster was not bad though. He was the SEC player of the year for Vanderbilt...and he looks like Usher. Foster is a good defensive player with his 1.5 steals a game last year. Many scouts feel that he lacks a consistent mid-range game and that may be his downfall. His ball handling skills are also not where they should be for an NBA shooting guard, but he is an explosive scorer who can come out and take over a game. That may not be so for the NBA level, but it's always good to have a player who possesses that type of ability.

Denver Nuggets: Ineligible
The Nuggets traded away all of their picks so they aren't eligible to be graded for this draft.

Detroit Pistons: D
What many people see in the Pistons first pick, Walter Sharpe, is disillusioned. Sharpe's college career has been overshadowed by off-court issues. In his freshman year, he repeatedly missed practice and missed the team flight which left him out of the NCAA Tourney that year. He missed most of his sophomore season with academic problems and he ended up only playing 6 games that season. He transferred from Mississippi St. to UAB where he was shot, arrested and sat out his junior season. In his senior year, he played 12 games until he has considered academically ineligible for the rest of the season. Oh yeah--he also has narcolepsy. With a team looking for help at the big man position for the future, trading away the Big Ten player of the year (D.J. White) wasn't the right thing to do. They also passed up on some big names.

Golden State Warriors: B+
The Warriors were able to find themselves in the middle of the draft and they were able to pick up a solid player in Anthony Randolph. He is really skinny for his size (6'10, 194 lbs) and that may be his downfall. BUT, he may be the only legit PF who can fit into the running scheme of the Warriors. He is a solid big man, but don't expect him to body up against the opposing big man and put the ball up strong over them. He can take his defender out to the perimiter and be effective from the block by posting up his defenders and that is helpful for the Warriors. Randolph's length can also help defensively. He has the ability to deflect balls and block shots, comparable to Tayshaun Prince's defense. Their second pick of Richard Hendrix gives the Warriors a little bit of PF help off of the bench. He is a little undersized for a PF, but so is Jason Maxiell and look at his impact on the Pistons.

Houston Rockets: B-
The Rockets made a good decision to trade away Nicolas Batum. The Rockets traded Batum to the Blazers for the rights to the 27th and 33rd overall picks. Darrell Arthur was Portland's selection at No. 27 and Houston sent the rights to him to Memphis for Donte' Greene and the Grizzlies' second-round pick in 2009. Joey Dorsey was the 33rd overall pick and he will be a great energy player for Houston. They don't really have strength at the PF position and he could make a good bench PF for them. He is not a scorer, but he can crash the boards and intimidate players from driving the ball to the basket. Solid picks by Houston.

Indiana Pacers: C+
The trade of Jerryd Bayless wasn't really the best decision for the Pacers. The did manage to get Brandon Rush from Portland, but Bayless seems like he has more star potential than Rush has. But with the salary dump, and the addition of another point guard in T.J. Ford, there isn't a need for another one so I can understand that move. They also picked up Roy Hibbert who has flop written all over him. He needs a lot of work and a haircut.

Los Angeles Clippers: B+
The Clippers have fear in relying on Shaun Livingston as their point guard of the future due to all of his injuries. So picking up Eric Gordon was a smart pick from the front office. I feel that Gordon is a semi combo-guard and he could be used for the 1 and 2 spot, but with him on the team, they will have an explosive guard with great basketball instinct. The Clippers were also lucky to get DeAndre Jordan in the second round. He fell right in their lap because he was considered to be a high pick earlier in the month. His draft stock may have fallen, but his level of talent is tremendous.

Los Angeles Lakers: C
The Lakers really didn't have a good selection to choose from. They traded their first round pick for Pau Gasol and that left them with the 58th overall pick. With that, they decided to choose Joe Crawford. He isn't a potential all star, but the Lakers will probably just be taking a look at him to see what he has. I doubt he'll make the team.

Memphis Grizzlies: C+
When Memphis selected Kevin Love, it was a real good choice but they ended up trading him with a package to Minnesota and received O.J. Mayo. It's no secret that Mayo is an extreme talent, but the Grizzlies don't need another guard. With them already selecting Michael Conley in last year's draft and Rudy Gay running the SG position, the opportunity for Mayo to bloom as a player will take a little longer. Darrell Arthur was traded to Memphis and he has the potential to be pretty good there. He fell into their lap after teams continued to pass him up, but hopefully they don't waste his career. He is with a young team and he may be able to help out Memphis in the longrun.

Miami Heat: A
Surprisingly, the Heat took Michael Beasley with the 2nd overall pick (sarcasm). With Beasley in their rotation, the Heat will have a potential all star in the making and he will dominate in his position. Beasley was basically a pick for the future and with him combined with a healthy Dwayne Wade and Shawn Marion, this team will look pretty good.

Milwaukee Bucks: A-
The Bucks did pretty good with this draft. They got rid of Bobby Simmons and they managed to get Yi Jianlian off of their hands for Richard Jefferson. Not a bad idea from Bucks management. With them going big in the draft by picking up Joe Alexander and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, they will look strong up front when both are able to start at those positions. Alexander is a great inside scorer who can grab boards with authority, and Moute is a tremendous defender. Milwaukee will have a bright future if these two happen to be starting later on down the line.

Minnesota Timberwolves: A
It really didn't matter if the Wolves were to select either O.J. Mayo or Kevin Love; both would've been helpful to this last place team. They picked O.J. Mayo but traded him to Memphis for Kevin Love, and I think that was the best alternative for the Wolves. Love is known for being a great inside scorer with the ability to take the ball outside and hit the three. He's decent in the post and he'll be good next to Al Jefferson. One thing he has to improve on is his defense but once he does that, there will be a strong inside presence in Minnesota. His offense isn't the problem. Kevin McHale was able to get rid of some junk when he sent Mayo to Memphis and he picked up a pretty decent Mike Miller who on the right team, could become a better player. So this was a good draft for Minnesota.

New Jersey Nets: B+
The Nets were able to get rid of Richard Jefferson's contract, and they picked up Yi Jianlian in a trade. The draft went pretty okay for them with the pick up of a solid Brook Lopez from Stanford. The big guy can do some damage on the inside to opposing teams and that is what the Nets need. But they already had a good center in Sean Williams and they will have to split time to get Lopez seasoned in the NBA the right way. They did make a great pick by selecting Chris Douglas-Roberts in the second round. He was really a steal for them. CDR can play the guard position but if he is needed, he has the ability to play the SF position with his 6'7 length. It will be interesting to see what he can do in the NBA.

New Orleans Hornets: Ineligible
The Hornets traded away their 27th pick for cash considerations, so they aren't eligible for grading.

New York Knicks: D
The Knicks didn't show much brain power by picking Danilo Gallinari in the first round. He is a tremendous player, but the Knicks could've done better than that. It would take him a while to mesh with the Knicks organization but I just don't see where they're going by picking up Gallinari.

Orlando Magic: B+
With the selection of Courtney Lee, this may be the end of J.J. least in a Magic uniform. Lee has tremendous basketball instincts and he showed in college that he can drive the ball to the basket consistently. He is a good spot up shooter and he will be a good ball player coming off of the bench for Orlando. Solid pick by Orlando.

Philadelphia 76ers: B
The 76ers could've also done better than Marreese Speights, even though Speights isn't really a bad player. He is a strong player up front for them who can fill up space in the paint and handle the ball well for somebody his size. He is also a decent scorer which is something that Philly has been looking for. They really don't have somebody that they can really rely on in the paint to put the ball in the basket consistently and Speights will fill that hole. This is also a solid pickup for Philly, based on the fact that this was a position that they needed.

Phoenix Suns: C+
Robin Lopez is a pretty okay pick for Phoenix, but there is question why they opted to go that route with Lopez. They used to be a run-n-gun team, but Lopez wouldn't be somebody who could play that style especially at NBA speed. The good thing about Lopez though is that he can be taken under the wing by Shaq and learn a lot from him. And with the way that Phoenix was able to end the season by incorporating Shaq into their game plan without the run-n-gun style affecting him, they were able to look like a pretty good team. So whichever style Phoenix is aiming for, Lopez can learn from Shaq and easily fall into the same spot that Shaq did.

Portland Trail Blazers: A+
This team did a lot of trading and they made good use of each and every pick. A lot of bold moves came from this front office and they've either payed off or they will pay off. They got rid of Jarrett Jack and were able to snag Jerryd Bayless who could make a pairing with Brandon Roy. They really needed point guard help with players like Jack and Steve Blake usually running that spot. Nicolas Batum was their second round pick who is a slight risk due to his heart problems but he still may be a pretty solid player. The Trail Blazers really had the best draft out of all the teams by snagging a lot of young talent for a young team. This could possibly put them on the verge of becoming a true playoff team, especially with Greg Oden coming back.

Sacramento Kings: D
I really didn't know where Sacramento was trying to go by picking up Jason Thompson and Patrick Ewing Jr. Thompson is really not a lottery pick and that confused a lot of people. And the second pick with Ewing makes Patrick Ewing Sr. proud, but not many Kings fans.

San Antonio Spurs: B-
It's hard to question the Spurs' drafting ability because they got Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker from nowhere, so there pick of George Hill can't be all that bad. He is a true point guard, but he can come off of the bench to be a combo-guard. He is sort of like a Rodney Stuckey; somebody who can drive the ball to the basket and draw fouls. The Spurs could've probably picked up somebody better, but they must see something in Hill and they're usually right about things like these.

Seattle Supersonics: C-
The pick of Serge Ibaka has a lot of people puzzled because they need somebody with his talent, but he may end up playing overseas when it's all said and done. The Russell Westbrook pick was pretty good but there was no need to take him so high, especially with other players that have a better arsenal than him.

Toronto Raptors: C+
The Raptors picked up Jermaine O'Neal by trading away their first round pick and that is a little suspect with O'Neal having injury issues. With him, they can be strong inside with Chris Bosh and O'Neal, but they had the opportunity to select a guard to replace T.J. Ford. That may have not been the route they were trying to take, but that is what they should have done. Their other pick in Nathan Jawai has been compared to Shaq, but why bring another big guy in when you already have enough?

Utah Jazz: B-
With speculation of Carlos Boozer opting out of his contract next year, the Jazz tried to do as much as they could to find somebody to replace him. That isn't a bad idea by Utah, but the picks were questionable. Kosta Koufos has a lot of potential, but he doesn't have the components that Boozer has. If he was combined with the second-rounder Ante Tomic, it may be possible, but I haven't seen much from either. So it's hard to judge them without hearing or seeing much from either. I do respect the route that Utah took in looking in the future to replace Boozer if he opts out.

Washington Wizards: C
The Wizards elected to take JaVale McGee, a guy who comes from a family of basketball. McGee has a great build to his body, giving him the advantage to overpower his opposition but scouts say that he is weak. That doesn't bode well when you're a big man trying to make it in the NBA. The question is posed if he will mature well in the league and I think he will with the basketball background that he comes from. His defense has also been said to be atrocious and as a big man with his length and potential, that is something that he will need to improve on.

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Thursday, June 26, 2008

Euro08 coverage from Nabil Othman: Spain vs. Russia

By: Nabil Othman

Today soccer fans witnessed a match much different match than the semifinal between Germany and Turkey. The Spanish easily defeated Russia by a score of 3-0.

The match saw few chances for the Russians who had their hands full stopping a lethal Spanish attack led by Cesc Fabregas, who came on as a 34th minute substitute for an injured David Villa.

Until Fabregas entered the match, both sides were evenly matched in possession and shots. However this would not stay the same. From the 34th minute on the Spanish relentlessly attacked the Russians resulting in goals from Xavi Hernández, Daniel Güiza and David Silva. Fabregas assisted on Güiza and Silva’s strikes. He also fed the ball to Andrés Iniesta, who assisted on Spain’s first goal scored by Xavi Hernández.

This was an uncharacteristic game for the Russians, who up to this point in the tournament showed they could contend with the traditional soccer superpowers. Today they came out flat, and were outplayed. Even though Russia has a very youthful squad, none of the energy they displayed against Sweden and Holland was shown. Russia is in no way subordinate to the Spanish, the Spanish simply came to play; the Russians did not. Although Russian was eliminated, their semifinal finish is the best the national team has achieved since the fall of the USSR. They defeated Sweden, Holland and Greece: the winner of Euro04. Euro08 undoubtedlytaught the young Russian squad a very important lesson: victory is earned by the team which plays the best on the day of the match, not given based on past accomplishments.

The finals between Germany and Spain will be played on Sunday, June 29th at 2:30 on ESPN.

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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Euro08 Coverage from Nabil Othman: Turkey vs. Germany

By: Nabil Othman

Despite a Turkish side that has made three impressive comebacks in the tournament, a 90th minute goal hit home by Germany’s Phillip Lahm was enough to elevate his side to a 3-2 victory.
To German and Turkish fans, the game was a cliffhanger. Around the 65th minute lightning struck at the site of the match in Basel, Switzerland, disabling the electronics that broadcasted the match to rest of the world. At that time the score was 1-1. While crews worked to fix the broadcasting problems, Miroslav Klose headed in a Bastian Schweinsteiger cross to put the Germans ahead in the 78th minute. Turkey, famous for their late comebacks, was not done just yet. In the 86th minute Semih Şentürk tapped a cross from Kazim Kazim past Jens Lehmann to even the score at two. Keep in mind that no one outside of Basel saw the goals. Although ESPN reported the goals on television, everyone, including myself, was on the edge of their seats, waiting to see if Turkey had one last trick up its sleeve; like the winning goal scored in the 92nd
minute by Turkish forward Nihat Kahveci against the Czech Republic in the quarterfinal.

With everything on the line, and no way to know see the game, millions of people worldwide waited on the edge of their seat for ESPN to report any late goals--and it did. In the 90th minute Phillip Lahm slotted a shot past Turkish goalkeeper Rüştü Reçber. Everyone in the world waited for another Turkish comeback, but it never came. Turkey had used up the last of its magic in Euro08. Although Turkey’s tournament ended, they earned a special place in European Championship history as being the only team to come from behind three times--one to tie and two to win. It was also Turkey’s first trip to the semifinals of a major international tournament. Along the way they earned respect as a team who would never accept defeat.

The Germans advance to the finals, playing the winner of the other
semifinal game between Spain and Russia.

Spain v. Russia will be on June 26th at
2:30 pm on ESPN.

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