Posted on: April 30, 2011 4:04 pm
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Packers Draft Reactions

Though the draft is far from over - the Packers have 3 sixth round picks and 2 in the seventh, I'm excited about what we've done so far.  Our biggest need in my mind was offensive line.  Last year's first round pick Brian Bulaga stepped up when veteran Mark Tauscher's knees continued to fail him and I'm hoping Derek Sherrod can do the same.  Chad Clifton was a deserving Pro-Bowler last year but he's been in the league a long time too.  While Clifton continues protecting Mr. MVP Aaron Rodgers, I've read that Sherrod's versatility could help him push for a starting spot inside where Colledge and Spitz have been inconsistent.  

With our second pick I thought we'd go running back or outside rusher, but instead we picked up another weapon for A-Rodg.  I'm ok with it though for two reasons: 1) we got a great value in Hawaii RB Alex Green in the 3rd round and 2) Randall Cobb should be considered a return man for the Pack who haven't had a special teams threat since Desmond Howard (our last Super Bowl MVP in 1997).  I guess a third reason would be Donald Driver's age and injuries too really - though he'll be back next year, his injuries down the stretch made him less of a target.

In our 4th and 5th rounds we picked up depth at CB (very smart) and TE (not a bad idea considering how important the pass game is for McCarthey and Rodgers).  That's only one defensive player though.  Yes we had A LOT of defensive players hurt last year who should be back to make an impact this year, I'm still thinking we look for D-line or D-back value with our final 5 picks.  Linebacker we obviously don't need as there's already a log-jam of good, contract-extended backers (Matthews, Hawk, Barnett, Bishop, Chillar, Popinga) and young talent (Jones, Walden, Zombo, and Francois).  PHEW!

But then again, Ted Thompson is the master when it comes to building teams out of the draft!  Think of last year's preseason super bowl favorites and eventual winners (despite being decimated by injury) - only Chuck Woodson was picked up in free agency.  Just like his predecessor Ron Wolf, he's at it again this year!

NOTE:  The Wisconsin Badger's have faired well in the draft this year too.  Two of our 3 All-Americans were taken in the first round.  JJ Watt went #11 overall to the Houston Texans and Gabe Carimi went #29 to the Chicago Bears.  This is the first time since 2001 that two Badgers have gone in the first round when Jamar Fletcher and Michael Bennett went back-to-back in the mid-twenties.  Watt's pick ties him for second highest since 2000 when Ron Dayne also went 11 (and we all remember Joe Thomas going #3 in 2007).
Lance Kendricks went in the 2nd round to the St. Louis Rams and our other All-American, John Moffitt, went to the Seahawks in the 3rd.  I've read that all 4 should be first day starters.  Also, Carimi was just the 5th OT taken in a tackle-needy league again this year, and Kendricks was 2nd TE taken (4 spots behind Notre Dame's Rudolph).
Posted on: April 8, 2011 6:06 pm
 

Ah the Masters

A new season has officially arrived, and I call it spring.  Spring break and St. Patrick's Day mean warm weather partying has already started.  The NFL draft is up-coming, and though maybe this year people care less than ever before, baseball is underway -- all hail the SportsCenter savior!  College basketball is done, with March Madness roaring in like a lion and going out like a lamb.  The NBA and NHL regular seasons are ending too, preparing to drag on through an endless 2+ months of playoffs.
Yet none of these things mark the turning of winter into spring in the sports world like one exhaulted, but not pompous, event and word:  Masters.
Yes, it is The Masters that really marks the beginning of spring in a sports fan's heart.  Green fairways on plasma big screens so clear you can count blades of grass.  Flowers and streams and trees that light up the entire TV room.  Complete silence broken by the crack of a driver on a ball, or the thud of a wedge taking a divit.  Of course here in the Great North I look outside to low 50s, grey skies and rain, but oh a man can dream!  Only 5 or 6 more weeks and I'll be there!  On that course, with khaki shorts on, a putter in one hand, a cold beer in the other!  
During the first week of April, every year without fail, warm blooded American sporting men all across the country sink deep into their comfiest spot in front of their Hi-Def and dream to the soothing voice of Jim Nantz.  If ever a day was meant for a mid-afternoon nap it was Masters Sunday.  In one weekend, one afternoon perhaps, we fall asleep to winter and wake up to spring.  We head to the driving range first thing Monday after work.  We rotate our closets so all the golf shirts are in front.  We call our buddies, who without a doubt have had the same past 3 days we have, and plan next weekends golfing trip.  We zone out all day Friday at our desks, already working on sinking long putts and fixing our slices in our minds.  And come Saturday morning we wake up early, make a hearty breakfast and a cup of coffee, grab our clubs and head out of the city to step on the course for the first day of spring!
........
And then we freeze our asses off at 7 am, and decide we can watch golf for a few more weeks before actually playing.  It is only April...

Category: Golf
Posted on: March 21, 2011 12:11 am
 

March Madness - first weekend recap

Every year March Madness is filled with wild games, close finishes, and crazy upsets.  Here's how the first weekend of the tourney of 2011 went down:
  • In the first round the 1's, 2's, and 3's had absolutely no trouble (except maybe BYU, the only team to win by a single digit, 8)
  • Other than the 1,2,3's 16 of the remaining 20 were decided by less than 10
  • 11 of those remaining 20 were decided by 5 pts or less, a combined 30 points, or an average of 2.7 points
  • The Southwest regional saw the 9, 10, 11, 12 and 13 seeds all win
  • Tennessee lost by 30 to #8 Michigan after being down only 4 at half.  Bruce "Cheater" Pearl's leading scorer had 19, none of them in the 2nd half
  • I didn't even know there was a station called TruTV, and I got it in HD!  Southern Fried Stings looks pretty good too...

  • Saturday and Sunday blowouts included #12 Richmond by 17, #11 VCU over #3 Purdue by 18, BYU over Gonzaga by 22, and OSU by 32 (only one making any sense)
  • The big dogs started struggling: Notre Dame lost by 14 to #10 Florida State, Pitt lost by a point in a game they shoulda won, Duke survived by only 2, UNC won by only 3, and San Diego State needed 2 overtimes
  • #1 Pitt's loss was to last year's national runner up Butler, who lost it's best player and struggled despite returning the rest of last year's squad, taking an at-large 8 seed into the tournament
  • The three 4vs5 matchups were all VERY close (8, 5, and 1 point games)
  • 6 more games were decided by 5 points or less (including #11 Marquette's upset of #3 Syracuse)
  • The so-called "amazing" Big East has only 2 teams left, lowest seed Marquette and Kemba Walker UConn (see my last article; I also loved all 11 teams)
Soapbox: It seems to me that this year had the usual number of upsets but far more really close games and fewer blowouts.  It also seems to me that there were a lot of dumb plays and dumb decisions by seemingly dumb players (ex's: the Pitt-Butler and UNC-Washington foul-filled finishes).  Is that because NCAA basketball has far fewer upperclassmen and just a bunch of raw talented freshmen and sophomores who bolt for the NBA after only a year or two?  I think yes, and I hope this year's Final 4 are all senior-led teams just to prove the points that A) experience matters and B) graduating from college matters.
  • Oh and one more bullet: my bracket sucks.  I knew I should have gone with my heart and picked homers Wisconsin and Marquette to play in the national championship!
Posted on: March 12, 2011 11:24 am
 

Big Ten = UGLY Basketball

Growing up in the midwest I'm a Big Ten fan of everything.  But that aside, the Big Ten really is good football and really is good basketball.  On the court, it's fundamental, unselfish, defensive, and when the moment calls for it these players can show they truly are good athletes.  Consider just two games this year between Wisconsin and OSU.  Both teams have dominant big men in freshman Jared Sullinger of Ohio State and Jon Leuer of Wisconsin.  But in their two meetings, the star players were guards.  Jordan Taylor erupted at home for the Badgers to clinch the second half comeback and Jon Diebler was "throwing it in the ocean" in his own words to go 17 of 20 from beyond the arc during a 2 game stretch that included a 93-65 win at home to those same Badgers.  The "slow and boring" Big Ten's best just scored better than most ACC teams.

BUT FORGET ALL THAT AS OF LAST NIGHT.


I went to a bar to watch the Big Ten Tourney last night with my friend Zach, a Penn State grad.  Their DirectTV didn't have the BTN so we checked the scores on our phones and bottom lines all night.  Honestly, I'm glad I didn't watch it.  Ten minutes in the score was 18-2 PSU.  WHAT?!  2 points in ten minutes?  But wait it get worse.  The score at half was 20-16, which mean's PSU did just the same thing, scoring a total of 2 points in ten minutes.  Final score: 36-33. Penn State needed only 16 in the second half to win and hold off Wisconsin's "furious comeback".


I can only imagine this must have been the ugliest basketball game of the year in all of college basketball.  Like a 6th grade matchup, like a HS girls freshmen game.  Penn State's leading scorer was their star player Taylor Battle, who's been known to score in the mid-30's.  But tonight he had 9 in a game when the Nittany Lions "spread it around."  Wisconsin's two best?  Jordan Taylor had 16 but on a 7-21 and 1-7 from 3 shooting performance.  Jon Leuer had 10pts on 5-16 and 0-6 from beyond.  The rest of the Badgers?  7 points split amongst 3 players!


During the ugly Big Ten matchup in Indianapolis, Kemba Walker of UConn scored 33 to equal the Badgers.  Jimmer Fredette of BYU had 52, nearly ecplipsing the game total by himself.  Ugh.  Ew.


The Badgers were shooting for a 2 seed with a tournament championship, would have still likely been a 3 or 4 despite their waxing by OSU.  Now I bet they fall to a 5 seed and get bounced in the first round by a bubble team riding high from just getting in.  The Nittany Lions shouldn't make the tournament, but if they beat Michigan State today they may have an arguement to make it over the Spartans, another bubble team.  But honestly, in my book, the Big Ten doesn't deserve the 6 or so teams everyone thinks they'll get.  The top three who've been ranked all year (OSU, Purdue, and UW) deserve to be in and that's it.  Minnesota, Illinois, and Michigan State have all been epic failures this year.  Michigan and PSU are "bubble teams" but compared to what?  


Put the entire Big East in the tournament and I'll send every one of them to the Sweet 16 this year.  
Posted on: February 28, 2011 3:33 pm
 

Wisco Sports High - Badgers rolling

Well, everyone who didn't know me and could possibly be reading this blog would need to figure out eventually that I'm a Sconnie.  I was born and bred in Green Bay, WI before living in Madison for 5 years and becoming a proud Wisconsin alum.  A friend coined the term for me and it's absolutely true: I'm on a Wisconsin sports high. 

After watching first hand the high preseason ranked Badger football team survive against Arizona State this year by a blocked PAT, then stumbling against Michigan State during their "heartfelt" run, I was also on hand for the #1 OSU upset.  I'll always remember the moment as my old college roommates jumped up and down less than 10 seconds into the game as David Gilreath crossed the goal line and we repeatedly yelled, "NO FLAGS! NO FLAGS!", then being the first guy on the field out my gate and running like the wind towards Gabe Carimi.  After that its been a blur: a trip to Hollywood and LA for the oh so close Rose Bowl, returning home to Lambeau for a few Packer games en route to our Super Bowl victory, and most recently being on hand for the #1 OSU upset -again!- in bball (dressed with my buddies as a Badger storm troopers and Darth Vader of course)

YEP, YOU COULD SAY I'M ON A WISCONSIN SPORTS HIGH!  The Brewers even wisened and finally signed some pitching to make us NL Central frontrunners.

And what's been especially cool, though usually I prefer the underdog status, is just that - being a front runner.  The Badger football team was highly ranked preseason, picked by many to win the Big 10, and we got the BCS rank we deserved down our strong stretch.  The Packers were preseason favorites by literally everyone to go to Dallas, and after recovering from our World War II like injuries we were 6 seeded but picked to win it all by many still.  The Badger basketball team was picked in the bottom of the Big Ten this year and our star players were overlooked, but now are also getting the respect deserved by voters.  Bo Ryan and the gang have climbed from top 50 to top 10 in both polls, the highest ranked 6 loss team before "storied" programs like UNC, Syracuse, Florida and Arizona (whom all also have 6 losses - thank you Alex Ringeisen).  And now the Brewers, with their power hitting and new mound masters, are being pegged #1. 

Traditionally the little state of Wisconsin gets forgotten up here in the Great North.  People tend to stop at Chicago, where I currently live, and for God knows why.  But my small state is making waves - um - icey ones...?  A few years back there was a story about Boston being the greatest sports city in the world.  The Celtics had won the NBA finals, the Pats the Super Bowl, the Red Sox the World Series, the Bruins were playing ok, and BC and even Boston U were having good years.  Well move over ya bloody bleeeeps!  Us beer drinking, brat eating, manure spreading, Cheeseheads are movin on up!
Posted on: February 26, 2011 4:40 pm
 

BYU-SDSU "I respectfully disagree."

The game just ended and it was a fun one to watch! Glad I got to see with my own eyes how aggressive and skilled Jimmer really is, and the two teams impressed me overall. But late in the game Steve Kerr and Clark Kellogg agreed that both teams are very well coached. I have to respectfully disagree.

 

Neither team was able to control the ball, having most of their 11 and 12 turnovers a piece down the stretch and MANY more bad passes and risky dribbling that should have resulted in TOs. Jimmer's had 96 turnovers this year, already eclipsing last year's total in 6 fewer games. And though San Diego was right at their avg of 11 TOs/game, they looked sloppy and took bad shots. Would that kind of play fly for a Mike Krzyzewski team? A Bill Self coached team? Or any other coach that A) plays better teams day in and day out and B) requires good ball control, shot selection, and point guard play? I KNOW it wouldn't for a Bo Ryan coached team -- Wisconsin has the fewest TO's per game in the nation and point guard with best TO/assist ratio in Jordan Taylor.

 

Both teams are good and have great shooters, but come tournament time I get the feeling they wont be able to handle the pressure and the higher quality defenses. If you can't hold on to the ball long enough to get it to those guys that can knock 3's down so well, what does it matter?

 
 
 
 
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