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Section 109: Numbers Trivia

March 2, 2010
A couple posts coming today to get caught up.
Let’s start with the really, really important stuff first. LeBron applied to change his uni number for next year, apparently a tribute to Michael Jordan. The league will rapidly approve this change so they and the player’s association can cash in on royalties from the avalanche of new t-shirt and jersey sales. Instead of number six, I think LeBron should have picked a more distinctive number. There are many players great and good who have worn number 6, including guys named Julius Erving and Bill Russell, both of whom deserve a tribute for affecting the game of basketball as much as Michael Jordan has.
In NBA history, 177 players have worn Number 6, including 22 current players. A partial list of notables:
  • Julius Erving
  • Bill Russell
  • Gene Shue
  • Larry Nance
  • Danny Manning
  • Avery Johnson
  • Orlando Woolridge
  • Ben Wallace
  • Juwan Howard
  • Walter Davis
  • Larry Costello
  • Patrick Ewing (1 season)
If LeBron had asked me — and he didn’t — I would have suggested a much less common number that he could make his own. One that isn’t associated with a lot of players, and here it is: 37. Only three players in NBA history have worn 37, each for only one season.
  • Jack Smiley – 1949
  • Nick Van Exel – 2004
  • Ron Artest – 2010 (switched to 37 when he moved to the Lakers this year.)
So there it is, LeBron. If you like my idea, you can probably get the league office to make a quick edit on your application. I’m sure they would do it, even if you asked to switch to the greek letter Pi.
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Joe Bo: NCAA Rushes to Judgement on Michigan But Takes Five Years to Investigate USC

February 25, 2010
Rules Violations Pale Compared to USC’s Litany of Wrong
By Joe Bodolai © 2010, All rights reserved

The troubled Michigan football program has been once again sabotaged by head coach Rich Rodriguez. The program was called onto the carpet for serious violations including hiring five too many ”quality control“ coaches and enforcing more practice time and workouts than the NCAA allows.
This came less than a year after the charges were made public by an article in the Detroit Free Press.
USC, on the other hand, has been scot-free for five years after the much publicized circumstances surrounding Reggie Bush and his acceptance of gifts and cash amounting to well over $300,000 including a house for his parents to live rent free.
Head coach Pete Carroll left coincidentally after his worst season at the school and just months before the NCAA finally held a hearing on the Bush matter and other improprieties. Lane ”Secondary Violation“ Kiffin returns now as head coach and immediately poached recruits from his one year stint as head coach at Tennessee. He is reviled in that state where he repeatedly ran afoul of the NCAA and other SEC coaches. His recruiting buddy Ed ”Oh we’re clean“ Orgeron joins him, with his stellar recruiting record.
Michigan may face loss of scholarships or perhaps merely loss of wins, although they really have only eight in two seasons under Rodriguez. There is little likelihood of them actually having to give up a bowl appearance, but they may just lose that big win over Division II Delaware State. Who knew there was a Delaware State? Not even people in Delaware.
USC, on the other hand, is clearly running scared. They sacrificed their basketball program to appear to be ”shocked“ by improprieties and to make the NCAA look unfair if they impose harsh sanctions. The losers so far are the student-athletes in the basketball program, while the former coach Tim Floyd and the bribery-recruited athlete O.J. Mayo are free from any punishment. Mayo, of course, plays for the Memphis Grizzlies, so he’s just fine.
This mess does affect Ohio State indirectly. The nation’s number one recruit, Seantrel Henderson, a 6-8 300-some pound offensive tackle, verbally committed to USC but has put off signing his letter of intent pending the results of the investigation. Henderson was reportedly favoring Ohio State and if USC looks as if they will be hit, he may reconsider, with the Buckeyes and Miami (another storied violation program) being his next choices. Henderson’s father thought coach Jim Tressel’s recruiting approach was ”boring“. I’ll tell you what’s boring Seantrel. Watching Ohio State in a bowl game and in the running for a national championship again instead of playing. Oh, and USC is picked to finish anywhere from fourth to sixth in the PAC-10. How’s the Emerald Bowl sound to you?
As much as I am a Buckeyes fan, I need Michigan to be good again. This hearing isn’t going to speed up that process. While Rich Rodriguez has been a godsend to Ohio State fans, he may just be gone after this season. Anybody got Les Miles on speed dial?

Too Many Coaches, Too Much Practice Time Violations Pale Compared to USC’s Litany of Wrong
By Joe Bodolai © 2010, All rights reserved
The troubled Michigan football program has been once again sabotaged by head coach Rich Rodriguez. The program was called onto the carpet for serious violations including hiring five too many ”quality control“ coaches and enforcing more practice time and workouts than the NCAA allows.
This came less than a year after the charges were made public by an article in the Detroit Free Press.
USC, on the other hand, has been scot-free for five years after the much publicized circumstances surrounding Reggie Bush and his acceptance of gifts and cash amounting to well over $300,000 including a house for his parents to live rent free.
Head coach Pete Carroll left coincidentally after his worst season at the school and just months before the NCAA finally held a hearing on the Bush matter and other improprieties. Lane ”Secondary Violation“ Kiffin returns now as head coach and immediately poached recruits from his one year stint as head coach at Tennessee. He is reviled in that state where he repeatedly ran afoul of the NCAA and other SEC coaches. His recruiting buddy Ed ”Oh we’re clean“ Orgeron joins him, with his stellar recruiting record.
Michigan may face loss of scholarships or perhaps merely loss of wins, although they really have only eight in two seasons under Rodriguez. There is little likelihood of them actually having to give up a bowl appearance, but they may just lose that big win over Division II Delaware State. Who knew there was a Delaware State? Not even people in Delaware.
USC, on the other hand, is clearly running scared. They sacrificed their basketball program to appear to be ”shocked“ by improprieties and to make the NCAA look unfair if they impose harsh sanctions. The losers so far are the student-athletes in the basketball program, while the former coach Tim Floyd and the bribery-recruited athlete O.J. Mayo are free from any punishment. Mayo, of course, plays for the Memphis Grizzlies so he’s just fine. Except for playing for the Grizzlies.
This mess does affect Ohio State indirectly. The nation’s number one recruit, Seantrel Henderson, a 6-8 300-some pound offensive tackle, verbally committed to USC but has put off signing his letter of intent pending the results of the investigation. Henderson was reportedly favoring Ohio State and if USC looks as if they will be hit, he may reconsider, with the Buckeyes and Miami (another storied violation program) being his next choices. Henderson’s father thought coach Jim Tressel’s recruiting approach was ”boring“. I’ll tell you what’s boring Seantrel. Watching Ohio State in a bowl game and in the running for a national championship again instead of playing. Oh, and USC is picked to finish anywhere from fourth to sixth in the PAC-10. How’s the Emerald Bowl sound to you?
As much as I am a Buckeyes fan, I need Michigan to be good again. This hearing isn’t going to speed up that process. While Rich Rodriguez has been a godsend to Ohio State fans, he may just be gone after this season. Anybody got Les Miles on speed dial?

Section 109: Radio Pat Adds His Two Cents

February 22, 2010
Thoughts from Radio Pat, who felt the need to unburden himself on the Erie View masses (I call him Radio Pat because he used to work in sports radio and some names on this blog are changed to protect the innocent, as Joe Friday used to say).
Radio Pat: The only thing worse than losing to the Magic is having Van Gundy and Mark Jackson announce it.
Me: Amen. I thought basketball broadcasting would improve greatly after Bill Walton retired, and it did. Now it’s being dragged down by Jeff Van Gundy, who seems to have a clause in his contract that pays him more when he tries to be funny.
I used to respect Jackson, but he totally lost the little respect I had left with his harping about Varejao flopping. While watching a slow-motion replay of Dwight Howard clearing out Andy with a forearm to the face, Jackson said, “That wasn’t a foul.” I have to check the video, but I swear I could see the mark on Andy’s cheek after the play.
RP: Andy does not want to play center and this could be the real X factor here. That Shaq/Z thing was pretty cool to watch.
Me: Maybe Z is not the player he was a few years ago, but he’s still 7-3, 12-year veteran who can fill the lane and hit outside shots. No one in the league had a better center rotation. Andy is much better when he can roam around more. Pray for a buyout, everyone.
RP: I know both sides can always say this, but the officiating was brutal to the Cavs today.
Me: I mentioned Howard trying to take Andy’s head off. How about the elbow he landed on LeBron? Or the screwup with the shot clock when the Cavs had one second on a baseline inbounds? Some of these refs need to be locked out.
RP: The guards need to score. Parker needs to get better or sit. Mo needs to heal or sit. West….well. Hate to say it, but the team played better with LeBron at the point. I really hate to say that.
Me: Parker has worried me for weeks now. He can’t score and he’s not defending any of the big wings they hoped he could control. Mo will come around, he has to get shots during game time. West has looked rusty the last three games, but he had some good moments in the third quarter against the Magic. Mo, Delonte or Gibson are adequate point guards, but none will make me forget Mark Price or Andre Miller.
RP: Even though it’s only Z that’s gone, how come I feel like the bench is a lot weaker now? I’ll bet it’s because the JJ and Jawad (nice name), AV at center, and Gibson and West doesn’t seem like a lineup that can score.
Me: Not having that Z+Andy dynamic changes the whole unit. Until they get Z back, I think they have to play Jamison with Andy, just to get some front line scoring. JJ can stay with the easy feeds from LeBron and Shaq. Jawad has cooled off offensively, and remember we used to have Jamario Moon? Whatever happened to that guy?

Joe Bo’s College Exam: Did USC Shoot Themselves in the Foot by Penalizing their Basketball Program?

February 16, 2010

Moves Investigation to “Lack of Institutional Control”

By Joe Bodolai © 2010, All rights reserved

With the NCAA investigation into the oozing toxic waste that is the Reggie Bush situation finally seeing a light at the end of the tunnel, USC may be facing some serious penalties. These penalties may be even more severe, though appropriate, than USC might have faced had it not unilaterally thrown its basketball team under the bus.

The University brought sanctions on their own to show their “shock” over coach Tim Floyd handing over some cash to a shady character to land O.J. Mayo. The sanctions are onerous to all of the student-athletes but not for Floyd or Mayo, who has gone on to an NBA career. The team is banned from postseason play at the end of this season, forfeiture of all their wins from 2007-2008, and loss of scholarships. This is over an alleged $1000 cash payment.

Bush, however, allegedly received over $300,000 in cash and gifts, including a house for his parents. There are other rumors that more may come to light.

Speculation is that the moves against the basketball program were a pre-emptive strike to show “hey, we’re playing by the rules.“ If USC had not done this, the NCAA would be looking at violations by two programs at the school.

The public announcement of the sanctions only make it more difficult for the NCAA to avoid sanctions based on ”lack of institutional control.“

My feeling is that the NCAA coming down heavily on two popular programs at once would be seen as an unpopular move. NCAA officials might be a bit softer so as to not seem overly punitive.

Now that USC has left only the football team’s improprieties in the spotlight, did they not just send the message that the sanctions to the basketball team over $1000 will utterly pale against the corruption that is the football program? I think they certainly will face loss of scholarships, at the least. Who cares about mythical record book ”wins“, scholarships are what rebuild the program and losing them depletes it. This adds up to real wins and losses on the field. So perhaps USC may not have to worry about another possible sanction, loss of bowl games. This has the biggest impact on the school of all – a loss of millions of dollars of revenue. Turning a blind eye to keep Reggie (and others) happy may end up making the team, students, alumni, and the administration very angry. It will also make many others across the country very happy that justice will finally be served.

Section 109: Stan Van Disses J.J. and Parker Looks Tired

February 12, 2010
Joe Bo wrote and asked me if I caught Stan Van Gundy’s in-game interview in last night’s game. Stan was asked at halftime, ”What are you going to do about J.J. Hickson?“ and he sounded incredibly condescending when he replied, ”We don’t worry about J.J. Hickson.“ Joe’s response to the TV — “Well, maybe you should.”
This is real bulletin board material for the Cavs’ next game against the Magic. However, I don’t like these TNT in-game interviews, because the coaches are so distracted and they just want to get back to the bench and coach. This doesn’t really add anything to the broadcast. Stephanie Ready and Craig Sager are unlikely to get more than the usual cliches, no matter what they ask.
I believe what Stan Van meant was the Magic had to focus their game plan on stopping Shaq and slowing down LeBron, and if J.J. was going to hurt them with easy scores, he still probably wasn’t going to beat them. Van Gundy was right — that was a reasonable plan, but he probably didn’t want to take the time to spell this out with Stephanie while his team was playing a ball game behind his back.
Nevertheless, Hickson shot 64% and scored 20 in a game that the Magic lost by nine. I don’t think the Magic will use quite the same defensive strategy when these teams meet again on February 21, and I don’t think Van Gundy will give the same quote to Craig Sager, no matter how clownish Sager’s outfit is.
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BTW, does anyone have video of Stan Van Gundy smiling during a game? Those would be some rare frames. Stan stalks, sweats, grimaces, swears, yells and throws up his hands so much, I have nominated him for the NBA’s Most Likely To Suffer A Stroke While Coaching A Game award.
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Can the Cavs get past the Magic in the playoffs now? I’d say Cleveland did a much better job revamping its roster. Giving up Hedo Turkoglu and Courtney Lee was a big gamble by Orlando, and all they got in return was non-finisher Vince Carter. Who would you rather hand the ball to for your team to win, Vince or LeBron? The Magic have been lucky to get good minutes out of the unretired Jason Williams. The Magic can’t really count on Williams to jack up threes like he did last night, though.
On the other hand, the Cavs unleashed Delonte West and he showed immediate results, even after a 10-game layoff. They still have Mo Williams and Leon Powe in the bullpen, too.
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My big concern right now with the Cavs’ rotation is Anthony Parker. He’s pretty much useless on defense, never seems to keep up with his man when defending motion offense. He’s OK if he gets set in front of a guy. Offensively, even when the Cavs run plays for him, he’s not sinking shots. He was 1-6 in 28 minutes last night, 1-3 from three-point land. It’s interesting that in the plus-minus column, the Cavs were a +20 with Parker on the floor, but I think it’s deceptive because he’s starting and his minutes are with Hickson, Shaq and LeBron.
One of the reasons the Cavs got Parker was to get a bigger defender on the opposing team’s shooting guard, and it’s not working. Now the PD’s Brian Windhorst says the Cavs are talking to the Pistons and Houston about a three-way deal that would get them Rip Hamilton. But who do the Cavs give up? What would the Cavs get from Rip, who is 32 and is having a mediocre season in Detroit? Not to mention he’s due $12.6m for THREE more years.

Section 109: After LeBron re-signs, Trade Standing Pat For Signing Lee

February 10, 2010
© 2010
In my previous post, I mentioned the good young talent that is mired on the New Jersey Nets roster. One guy I pointed out was Brook Lopez, a top 10 draft pick in 2008 who is paying dividends for the Nets in just his second season. Lopez put up more than 20 points the last time the Nets were in Cleveland, and last night he dropped in 23 points along with 14 rebounds while banging with Shaq, Z and Andy. He was also 7-9 from the free throw line.
Speaking of good young centers like Lopez, you know what the Cavs need to get after they finish re-signing LeBron? Read more…

Section 109: I’m As Interested In The Nets Game As The Cavs Were

February 10, 2010
© 2010
OK, out  a sense of blogging duty, I’ll find some comments on the forgettable Nets game.
Jawad Williams continues to impress with his all-around game. Good defense, heads up passing, outside shot that helped him to 17 points last night. He’s great at receiving passes, too. A lot of inexperienced players have great passes sail through their hands because they weren’t anticipating. He gets it, seems liked a smart well-coached player.
Fred MacLeod is a great TV play-by-play guy, but he has to stop referring to Jawad as “Hot Wad” Williams. I get the tip of the hat to John “Hot Rod” Williams of the Lenny Wilkens-era Cavs. But I’m sorry, “Hot Wad” sounds like a porn star. How about calling him J.W. or something?
I agree with Brian Windhorst, the Nets should have won more than four games by now. They have good young talent. Former All-Star Devin Harris is only 26. Courtney Lee still hasn’t peaked (and I still can’t believe that the Magic gave him up for Vince Carter). Brook Lopez is one of the best young centers in the league in his second year. I also like Chris Douglas-Roberts, Jarvis Hayes and Kris Humphries as bench contributors. I think their deplorable record is what happens when the team president makes the GM become the coach even though he doesn’t really want to coach. Plus, can players really respect a guy named Kiki?