Monday, March 26, 2007

Gah, does anyone like Billy Packer?

Here's a burning question: how does Billy Packer keep his job as lead college basketball analyst at CBS?

I ask because no one (with the possible exception of the people who work at CBS) seems to appreciate his "talents." There are petitions. There are blogs. There are people hanging around their break room water coolers.

The verdict from, well, pretty much everyone, is that Packer has to go. He's negative, without one nice word to say for anyone, with the possible exception of his alma mater, Wake Forest. At least "oh my God turn the sound down it's..." Dick Vitale has enthusiasm for the game, even if he does talk about certain ACC teams a bit too much (although those Hooters commercials ought to be illegal).

The list of complaints against Packer goes on and on...insulting female Duke students...showing more sympathy for the fact that Gerald Henderson was ejected from the March 4 Duke-Carolina game than the fact that Tyler Hansbrough had a bloody nose...just having a reputation for being that guy who rains on everyone's parade.

If Packer worked for ESPN, he would have been axed long ago. ESPN has not the first problem with firing or otherwise reassigning analysts it finds to be embarrassing to its image or ineffective (read: Michael Irvin and Joe Theismann).

The latest laughable incident? In an interview with WFAN radio, Packer called Tar Heel senior Reyshawn Terry's game "soft." Terry responded to CBSsportline Columnist Mike Freeman by effectively telling Packer off. The really funny part? Unless I've missed something, no one cares. They chuckle because they think it's funny that a player said such things about Packer to a member of the media. There's no outrage about disrespect. There's no outrage about speaking out of place. Maybe Packer thinks it's funny. After all, he doesn't seem like the best judge of what is appropriate speech and what isn't. In the end, though, it just adds up to another example of why CBS needs to enter the 21st century and find an analyst that speaks to a new generation. Or an analyst that can just muster up the energy to say something nice every once in a while.

Just keep that person out of Hooters commercials.

Friday, March 16, 2007

About Duke

I'm a UNC fan. I don't like Duke. I don't like Coach K. I loved watching VCU come from behind to win last night's game, leaving Duke one-and-done for the first time since 1996.

That being said, I think the criticism reigning down on the Blue Devils is a bit unfair. As usual, I'm calling for some rationality.

We knew coming into the season that the team wasn't going to be up to par with past Duke teams. The AP ranked them 12th in their preseason poll; ESPN/USA Today ranked them 11th. For most teams, such a ranking would be an honor. But for Duke, such a ranking was a sign that things were amiss. J. J. Redick was gone. Shelden Williams was gone. There were no comparable players to replace them. Greg Paulus? Puh-lease.

Some people took it almost as a sign of Duke's apocalypse. After all, even UNC was ranked 19th in both preseason polls before the infamous 8-20 season (they dropped out in the Week 3 polls). So I can just imagine some confused voters trying to figure out what to do with a Duke team that wasn't going to be ranked 1 or 2:

"Hmmm...we don't think Duke is going to be as good as usual this year.'s Duke...they can't really be that bad. Let's just throw them somewhere in the middle of the poll and see how things pan out."

But unlike UNC, Duke managed to stay in the Top 25 for most of the season, with the exception of a brief absence following a 4-game skid. Did they look like a Top 25 team? Sometimes yes, mostly no. But they didn't look like a bad team, either. They were still a good team, but an average type of good, rather than the usual spectacular type of good.

They lost 11 games total. They finished 8-8 in the ACC, good for 6th place. They lost to NCSU in the opening round of the ACC Tournament, meaning they would not win the tourney for only the second time since 1999. They had two 4-game losing skids: one to UVa, FSU, UNC, and Maryland, and the other to Maryland, UNC, NCSU, and VCU. They lost their remaining three games to Marquette, Virginia Tech, and Georgia Tech. Nine of these losses were to teams that made it to the NCAA Tournament; the other two teams made it to the NIT. Duke can at least say it lost all of its games to quality teams, unlike some teams (Syracuse) that failed to make the NCAA Tournament (Syracuse) and then whined about it (Syracuse) by pointing to their, let's say 3, quality wins (Syracuse).

As much as I hate to admit it, Duke is no Syracuse. Some people think they should have been ranked lower than a 6 seed, and based on last night's loss, that might very well be true. Or it could mean that VCU should have been ranked higher than an 11 seed. In the end, the seeding didn't matter. VCU won; the only reason Duke might not be back in Durham yet is a snowstorm in Buffalo. But despite their relatively sub-par season, I wouldn't count them out for the longhaul. Maybe this season was a sign that Coach K is slipping, and that might very well be true. But I think I'll wait and see what happens during the next couple of seasons before I make that assessment. After all, UNC did come back from that 8-20 season to win a national championship three years later.

And with that, I'm going to take a shower so I can wash off all this "apologizing for Duke" crap. Go Tar Heels!

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Okay, they only won by 2

If anyone made a big bet on VCU winning by 3, I apologize for the fact that they only won by 2.


Monday, March 12, 2007

VCU v. Duke

Sources say VCU will beat Duke by 3. I'd link you to this prediction, but it's all contained in an AIM away message.

Ty Lawson Message Board Madness

I'm going to get a lot of nasty comments about this post. Or I would, if more than two people read it.

Here it is: people post stupid things to message boards. This apparently applies to any message board. For instance, I sometimes go to the Lost message board in order to see if people have interesting insights about the latest episode. What I usually find is something along the lines of:

1) This week's episode was the worst episode ever. The writers are way off track. Why aren't they answering any of my questions? I think I'm going to stop watching this stupid show.

(Which would be fine, except that the same person will say the exact same thing the next week)


2) Why aren't they showing more of Sawyer? He's soooo hot!

But since this is a sports blog, I'll stick to sports-related message boards. In particular, I'm going to focus on the message boards that UNC and NCSU fans tend to frequent. I don't post to them, but I sometimes read them to see what people are saying. What I see is not any better than the Lost board. Since we're all supposed to be intelligent folks in the Triangle area, I'm calling for people from both schools (and ECU fans, who like to troll the NCSU boards) to stop making stupid comments on message boards.

Here's yesterday's scenario:

UNC and NCSU played an exciting game that everyone should remember for a long time. The fact that NCSU made it to the final game was a great story, and most UNC fans that I know were rooting for the Wolfpack until they played the Tar Heels in the final.

With less than 10 seconds on the clock, UNC rebounds the ball. It ends up in Ty Lawson's hands. Lawson sprints down the floor and dunks the ball, which we all thought was funny because we always joke that he can't actually do that since he usually lays it in.

After that, my fiancee and I looked at each other and said, "The State fans are going to say that that was classless."

Which they did, repeatedly.

Well, okay...I'll admit...maybe he shouldn't have done that. But according to the NCSU message boards, Lawson's dunk was not the result of an excited freshman celebrating the Tar Heels' first ACC championship since 1998.

Oh no. It was a sign of disrespect directed specifically at the Wolfpack. State fans know this, because at the end of the Boston College game, the Tar Heels elected to take a shot clock violation instead of running up the score. Therefore, Lawson dunked the ball because he was playing State.

I don't know Ty Lawson, and I haven't drilled him about the reasons that he dunked the ball. But my guess is he didn't do it as a sign of disrespect toward the Wolfpack.

I think this because I think players respect one another a lot more than fans respect one another. You see, many of the players on opposing teams don't despise one another as much as the fans want them to. Some of them went to high school together. Some of them played on McDonald's teams together. Some of them know each other for other reasons. They don't go around stealing each other's mascots, spray painting other schools' property, or writing maniacal diatribes on other fans' message boards.

So let's end that thread now.

Here are my other gripes about the message boards:

1) Is it really necessary for UNC fans to comment on NCSU boards or vice versa? Doing so accomplishes nothing but creating a flame war. It doesn't matter if you compliment the other team or if you go in guns blazing. Then again, maybe that's what people are going for.

2) NCSU fans should not whine about "Carowhina" fans. Think about it.

3) Make sure you say something somewhat intelligent (or at least make sure you don't say something retarded). Example: An NCSU fan, in response to a thread that Roy Williams and/or Ty Lawson are classless, wrote: "NC = No Class" Think about it.

I'm willing to give some benefit of the doubt that a trolling ECU fan wrote that.

4) Furthermore, there was not a conspiracy to put UNC in the hardest bracket (although there is a legitimate argument that they are in fact in the hardest bracket). They're a #1 seed. If someone wanted a conspiracy, I don't think the #1 seed would have happened. Along those lines, Tyler Hansbrough's broken nose did not cause Carolina to be in the hardest bracket. Let's be reasonable here.

End rant. Why post to message boards when I can rant on my own blog?

I saw some of these comments last night and for some reason didn't mention them, but WRAL did.


5) Don't make racist comments on message boards. That goes for UNC fans, NCSU fans, and Duke fans.

And anyone else for that matter.


Tuesday, March 06, 2007

He does it again!

Since my brother is, in fact, supposed to be a contributor on this blog, I'll make his contribution for him by posting the podcast of his correct prediction of last night's George Mason-VCU game--VCU by six. And to think that Rick Roth and Larry Richmond laughed at him on The Sportsline. Skip to the end of the segment if you don't want to hear about Zabian Dowdell or Virginia Tech in general.