Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Hodge podge: AFC-NFC Championships, U of L, and Kobe Bean Bryant

Championship Sunday has come and gone and it was overshadowed by one guy in the NBA. That’s right it’s time for a little hodge podge. Let’s hunt.

Championship Sunday

Sunday saw two NFL championship games and neither one were worth watching. I even resorted to watching Iron Chef America during the Pittsburgh-Seattle game. If you have good memories you will remember that I picked both winners but I was off a little in the scoring, mainly because I thought that Denver and Carolina would show up to play. I guess they had a case of the “just glad to be heres.” The story of the day was (I’m stealing this from about fifty people), The Two Jakes.

Jake Plummer is known to be a wild quarterback, but this year for Denver he has stayed under control and played the best he had ever played. He didn’t try to do more than was asked of him. Then came the biggest game of his career. He threw two big interceptions and the running game was not as effective as the Broncos were hoping, which meant that The Snake had to do more than was asked of him. The Steelers, much like they did with Peyton Manning, got after Plummer and forced him to play horribly. The Steelers just attack a team and they try their best to force you to make mistakes, and Plummer really helped the Steelers out, just like I thought he would.

Jake Delhomme played even worse, but the real bad news for the Carolina quarterback was that he had no running game whatsoever to help him out. Nick Goings went on a trip to La-La Land after a helmet to helmet shot early in the game. Another thing that doomed Delhomme was the fact that Seattle realized they needed to cover wide receiver Steve Smith, a tactic the Chicago Bears should have used. Delhomme looked out of sorts the whole game and that can be chalked up to the Seattle defense. I believe that until the fourth quarter he had completed more passes to the Seattle defense than to his own receivers. I just wonder why, if Steve Smith was covered at times by four defenders, you don’t throw to someone else? Someone had to be open.

While Pittsburgh and Seattle are not the teams the advertisers would want in the game, I think this will be a very interesting game. Both teams have a great running game and very good quarterbacks. Pittsburgh’s defense is one that likes to terrify and run wild, but Seattle has a much underrated defense that does not get a lot of publicity. I hope this game is as good as I think it can be, but I am always leery of a two week hype period. I hope that the extra week in between games does not take these teams out of rhythm causing the fans to have to watch two stale teams in an uninteresting game.

Kentucky basketball, it’s not fantastic.

It seems that UK is not the only team struggling to survive. Just as the country was sounding the death knell for the University of Kentucky, they win two games to get to .500 in the SEC. Now the University of Louisville has lost 4 of their last 5 games as of this writing.

The Cards will be lucky to finish .500 in the new Big East. I bet many fans and administrators wish U of L was still in the Conference USA. Then they would only have Memphis to contend with for the top spot in the conference. The Big East is not the Conference USA, not by any means.

Here is U of L’s schedule over the next few weeks, Cincinnati, at Rutgers (not easy), at Villanova, Notre Dame, at Cincinnati, South Florida, at Syracuse, DePaul, at West Virginia, Marquette, at UConn. That is a brutal schedule and the Cardinals do not have the team to win on the road.

I’ll give them Cincinnati, Notre Dame, South Florida, and DePaul because they are home games. I’ll give them Rutgers even though all road games will be hard for Louisville this season. That puts them at 7-9 in the Big East and out of the NCAA tournament in my opinion. They will have to win at least one game that I do not have them winning to get to .500. They won’t make the tournament unless they finish at least .500 in the Big East and get one or two good quality wins.

As bad as UK has been, they still have a win over a ranked opponent in West Virginia. I do believe that U of L has a chance to pull off a major upset because I watched them play UConn on Saturday night and they had moments of good basketball. At times U of L seemed to really bother the Huskies and hung with them longer than I expected. U of L may have a bigger upside than UK, but UK is in the weaker league.

Kobe, Kobe, Kobe

The NFL is hardly overshadowed, especially during the conference championships, but Kobe Bryant did so with an unbelievable scoring display against the Toronto Raptors on Sunday. Kobe scored 81 points, the second all time high in NBA history. I know that most people do not like Kobe, most probably hate Kobe, but you need to put personal feelings aside.

Kobe Bryant is putting on a scoring display that has not been seen in years. I believe that Bryant is as good or better a scorer right now than Michael Jordan was. Jordan had all the intangibles that Kobe does not, but when it comes to putting the ball in the hoop Kobe is as good as anyone who has played the game. There has even been discussion that Kobe’s scoring display was more impressive than Wilt Chamberlain’s 100 point game. It’s hard to argue against Kobe.

Most of you are saying, “Of course he can score 80 a game, he is a selfish ball hog.” That is true, but with the team the Lakers put on the court every night he has to be. Kobe has to score all the points because nobody else can be counted on every night the way he can. Kobe will get hammered this week because of his selfishness, but I seem to remember when he had 62 points in three quarters and took himself out of the game, he got hammered for not scoring 80. Any way you slice it Kobe gets beat up, so he might as well get beat up for an all time great game than a very good game.

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