The Duke Basketball Report (missed you fellas while you were in server hell!) has two very nice articles up by some heavy hitters.
First, Barry Jacobs takes an ACC-centric look at drafts past. As is his style, his article is chock full of charts and facts.
Al Featherston weighs in with a much longer piece focusing largely on the pros and cons of leaving early and how it affects college basketball. As I’ve come to expect, this one is very well written, well thought out and full of little nuggets of inside knowledge.
Do yourself a favor and read both.
Jean Claude Van de Velde.
When you hear that name, only one thing comes to mind – his colossal collapse at the 1999 British Open. Van de Velde came to the last hole with a three shot lead. A double-bogey would have won him the tournament. Instead of playing safely, he hit the ball all over the place – off the stands, off stone walls, into a creek, into the weeds, into a bunker – and triple-bogeyed the hole. Not surprisingly, he lost in the three-way playoff that followed.
Fairly or not, the man’s name is synonymous with massive choking.
Last week, I had an article in my head about choking. Unfortunately, actual work kept the article from escaping my noggin, but I was going to write about the curious nature of gagging under pressure and the label of “choker” that so many in the media are willing to throw around. Retief Goosen was a choker for blowing up with an 82 on the last day of the US Open despite having previously won two US titles. Tim Duncan was a choker for sucking in game 5 of the NBA Finals despite having been named NBA Finals MVP twice before (and he went on to win a third a few days later).
Basically, I was going to say that choking is a pretty malleable thing, and rarely as simple as writers want to make it. Few pro athletes honestly qualify as true chokers.
And then Van de Velde did it again.
Yesterday, he came to the 72nd hole of the French Open with a one-shot lead. He promptly drove the ball into the drink. He ended up bogeying the hole and found himself in a playoff with Jean-Francois Remesy.
The first playoff hole was the 18th again. Once again, Van de Velde put his drive in the water (and so did Remesy – gotta love the French). He took his drop and proceeded to knock it around the hole – bunker, rough, short, long, etc. Remesy won the hole (and tournament) with a double-bogey.
Incredible. Greg Norman can thank Van de Velde. Chris Webber and Nick Anderson should send him thank-you cards. Jana Novotna too. The man has simply taken fantastic choking to a whole new level. An art form really.
The Boston Globe has a very nice article on how many NBA players squander their fortunes. Fancy cars, bad investments, crooked agents, leaching families and friends, divorces, etc. They get it all.
A little something to think about tomorrow night when you watch all of those young men walk across the stage to shake David Stern’s hand and enter the world of (short-term) wealth.
One really surprising aspect of this story was the two vignettes that make Isiah Thomas sound like a really good guy. I always thought of him as a complete ass. I guess it’s not that simple.
Three days – three Florida State football posts. Unfortunately, this one deals with neither delusions of grandeur nor tasers.
Michael of Braves & Birds has a very interesting post which he largely cribbed from another site. The original poster broke down the records of 14 elite college football programs over the past 12 seasons. He ranked them by overall record, by strength of schedule and by number of games versus top 10, 25 and 50 schools.
What the numbers show is that the Seminoles have had not only the best record, but also the most difficult schedule. Quite a combo!
As Michael points out, that FSU has had the toughest schedule flies in the face of the snooty football fanboys who think the ACC is too weak. Sure, the Noles play a great nonconference slate, with yearly tilts against Miami (a intraconference game now) and Florida, but the conference games have to also be a factor here.
Florida State also came in third, second (tied) and second in number of games against the top 10, 25 and 50. They had the best record (by far) against the top 25 and 50.
It’s been a pretty impressive run by the Seminoles even if you discount their recent divine leadership.
The news is now nearly a week old, but I don’t want to let it slip by without a comment. After the USA’s 3-0 spanking of Panama on the road last week, they have all but wrapped up a bid to the 2006 World Cup.
The win, the USA’s second 3-0 victory in less than a week, gave the Nats 12 points out of a possible 15 through five qualifying games. That puts the US in second place behind Mexico with exactly half of the qualifying games left to go. The top three teams in CONCACAF move on to Germany, and the fourth place team gets a playoff against a team from Asia. A quick look at the standings will show you that the home boys have an 8 point lead over fourth place at this point. Not finishing in the top three would be a collapse of biblical (or Sextonian?) proportions. Ain’t gonna happen. Not only are our boys winning, but they are winning big. Our 11 goals are the most so far (two more than Mexico) and we’ve given up only three goals in five games (same as Mexico).
It looks like a given the that US of A is headed to their (our? Can I say “our” when it’s my country?) fifth consecutive World Cup. Very impressive and very exciting.
Another day, another wacky Florida State football player story. God bless those Seminoles.
This one even beats the taser story from yesterday. It seems that starting quarterback and son-of-assistant-coach Wyatt Sexton got a little bad “stuff” at Bonnaroo and went nuts in the streets of Tallahassee. He was found face down in the street, but earlier had been standing on cars declaring himself God or the son of God. Sometimes I get a little confused about which is which myself.
Is it just me, or is this year’s NBA pre-draft saga producing an unusually high number of relevant ACC stories? Usually a few guys declare and that’s it. We read about how they are doing and where they might be picked, but that’s it.
Not this year. To help you poor folks who have no other way to get your news, I’ll run down a few of the most recent developments.
Just yesterday, ACC center Eric Williams said he’s returning to Winston-Salem for his senior year. I think this is a good idea for Big Eric. Williams is a very talented player, but he’s “cursed” with a serious pro athlete disease – he’s too nice. Despite a pretty good scowl, Williams is just not very aggressive. He has little killer instinct. That can be learned, but it’s not something to try to develop while earning a paycheck. He’d be gobbled up in the League. Aggression is something you can develop and hopefully Eric will pick up some tips this year.
John Gilchrist has no such “nice guy” problems. Quite the opposite. He may actually be too much of an asshole for the NBA. Read this article where he talks a bit about his experience at Maryland. Not once does he fail to blame others for his and his team’s failures this year. The coaches were too demanding. His teammates weren’t serious enough. College is too restrictive. Waaah. Waaah. Grow up, John. You’re a hell of a player, but to be truly good, the head has to match the body. You have a lot to learn.
In older news, Shavlik Randolph says he too is returning. Surprisingly, even though he seems unsuited for the League at this point, several teams gave him workouts. I like this quote about his workout with the Charlotte Bobcats –
When asked about Randolph later, Charlotte coach Bernie Bickerstaff paused and said, “I would like all of [the underclassmen] to stay in college. I just think they are missing the boat with the caliber of college coaches we have, and given the opportunity to school them and teach them.”
Translation: Randolph is a good kid, so I’m not going to rip him, but he has no business in the NBA at this point.
Jackie Manuel had his dream of being drafted destroyed when he broke his foot at the Chicago camp. According to N&O writer Luciana Chavez, Manuel “had been projected as a possible second-round pick for the June 28 NBA Draft.” Chavez also thinks that Michael Jackson would project as a good babysitter and that pigs project as fantastic flyers.
Lastly, Von Wafer has apparently signed with an agent. I have no evidence about this, but I suspect (hope, actually) that his new agent has lots of contacts in Turkey.
Let’s play a little game. Take a look at the following list:
2. Florida State
3. Virginia Tech
Now, you have to guess.
Is that a prediction of the final standings of the ACC in football next year?
Or is a list of schools most likely to have a player tasered by the police?
You may have noticed that I like to poke a little fun here and there. I have my sarcastic tendencies. I might make fun of a few fools from time to time, but this story right here contains no such humor.
It’s a great little story about how good sports can be. Yeah, it’s a bit sappy, but so what.
As Bill Simmons says, it got a little dusty in here when I read this one.
Hat tip to the fellas at ACC BasketBlog for this one.
I’m not the first person to notice that the quality of ESPN’s program has steadily declined in recent years. Their anchors have all become smarmy, half-price Kenny Mayne clones (the excellent Fred Hickman excepted) and they seem to be trying hard to become the new MTV. Eventually, I expect that like how MTV never shows videos anymore, ESPN will eventually stop showing actual sports. Instead they’ll offer us endless variations of sportswriters yelling at each other and Stuart Scott trying hard to be cool while looking just to the side of the camera.
But despite my growing distaste for their programming, I never really considered them dishonest.
Check out this post at Heels, Sox & Steelers. Despicable is the word for this. I would be pissed if a sleazy credit card or cable TV company tried this, but ESPN? Incredible.