Monday, February 27, 2006

ShagOnSports

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I appreciate the feedback the last two weeks… Please forward the Blog address on to anyone you think who might wants to read it. Shagonsports.blogspot.com… Also check out the link on this Blog to Deadspin… These guys have some good stuff each week…

I Have Flipped on Mitch
By ShagOnSports


You used to could count me as one the people who did not like the actions of Athletic Director Mitch Barnhart at Kentucky but I am now looking at him in a new light… Like Rick Pitino did in basketball at Kentucky Mitch got rid of the entire good old boy network, but without the credibility that Rick had coming in many people did not understand his motives… Mitch had a direction for the Athletic Department, has stuck to his guns and things are starting to take shape…

One of the first things he did was raise the level of dollars being generated through fund raising… Many people did not like the additional fees he attached to seats for both football and basketball (all the other SEC schools except Vandy do this in at least Football) but he needed to get the outside funds coming in to the Athletic Department at least on the level of Alabama and Georgia (both at about 14 million a year in private donations)… Florida is top dog in the SEC for private donations at about $24 million a year… When Mitch arrived Kentucky was at only about $4 million a year just ahead of Vandy… The entire Athletic Department now has the dollars it needs to function at the highest of levels for all sports…

Mitch has hired some top-notch coaches for the non-revenue sports and they are starting to breed some levels of success… Mickie Demoss is building the Women’s Basketball Program up to where it may even become a profitable sport for the University… The programs for Baseball, Soccer, Golf, Tennis, Volleyball, Gymnastics, Swimming, Diving and even the Rifle Team have all experienced level of success in the last few years that can be directly related to the funding that brought in by the Athletic Department…

I recently met someone who played Soccer at UK on a trip to California and she sang the praises of one Mitch Barnhart and what he did for that program… I also work with a lady who’s daughter is being recruited by Kentucky for volleyball and she told me that they have met Mitch on several occasions and they really like him and what he brings to the table for the University and they are not Kentucky fans…

The one thing that Mitch is judged on is the mistake he made hiring Rich Brooks for football (or so it appears after three years)… After striking out on Bill Parcels (why would UK have wanted him anyway is beyond me) Brooksy was all that was left… In my book Rich starts over this year and we will see what he has… One and done for Brooksy??? We will discuss this in the fall…

Louisville Basketball

This years' U of L team reminds me allot of the 93-94 Kentucky team that lost in the 2nd round of the NCAA Tournament… That Kentucky was young, had allot of new players, coming off of a final four season and was the first post Mashburn team… Remember the run that Kentucky went on after 93-94??? Final Eight, NCAA Champs, NCAA Runner Ups & NCAA Champs!!! Ricky P teams will only get better!!!

Kentucky Basketball

Ole Miss is struggling but still it was a surprise to me that Kentucky doubled up on them last week… It was nice to see Tubby let allot people get some significant minutes during the Ole Miss game and at LSU on Saturday… Saturday against LSU was a big loss… Twelve second half turnovers and rebounding were the deciding factors in the game… If Kentucky loses to Tennessee, then Florida and then loses in the first round of the SEC Tournament then they are out of the tournament (you can’t lose four in a row and get in)… A win at LSU would have put them over the top (Looks as if LSU is going to be overall SEC Champs)… The losses to Vandy, Alabama and Tennessee earlier in the year at Rupp are really stinging today… Kentucky wins any two of the four loses mentioned above and they are 20 – 8 which matches allot of teams records outside of the top ten… This team is closer then many people think… Big win for Lady Cats this weekend… They are now 20 and 7 going into the SEC Tournament…

ShagOnSports Random Comments
- Count me in as a fan of Olympic Curling…

- Glad to see Davis Love back in contention… Davis is the other guy I am pulling for at the Masters…

- Could Tom Lehman be a player/captain for this years Ryder Cup… He is now in the top ten in points…

- Last week I said Tubby to the Hornets and stand corrected the rumor was to the Bobcats…

- In football when someone says Baltimore I think of the Colts, Rams and I think of LA and in Pro Basketball Washington will always be the Bullets… My grandmother refers to the Dodgers as Brooklyn so it is about your era…

- Speaking of moving franchises, Before they were the Arizona Cardinals they were in Chicago then St Louis, Kansas City Chiefs were first the Dallas Texans, the Chargers were in LA first, The Titans were the Houston Oilers, The Ravens were the Cleveland Browns (Cleveland sued to keep the name Browns), The Braves were in Boston before Milwaukee and then to Atlanta, The A’s in Philly, Kansas City and then Oakland, The St Louis Browns became the Orioles, Giants from New York to San Fran, The Washington Senators became either the Rangers or the Twins (I am not for sure which), The Lakers were in Minneapolis, The Jazz in New Orleans, The Nets in New York, The Kings in Kansas City and the Clippers were the San Diego Clippers and before that they were the Buffalo Braves (Kentucky’s own John Y Brown made the Clippers move happened and this was after he jilted the state of Kentucky by not paying the $2.5 million dollar franchise fee to get the Kentucky Colonels in the NBA)… The last one I can think of is the Angels were Los Angels first, then California, then Anaheim and now the Anaheim Angels of Los Angeles… What did I miss???

- Dick Vitale inducted in the Hall of Fame??? If I understand correctly he is nominated for the Basketball Hall for his announcing… Dick was a decent college coach and a bad pro coach (that appears to be any college coach who tries the Pro game except Larry Brown)… Love him or hate him there will never be another Dick Vitale…

- One of the great baseball play-by-play men, Curt Gowdy died last week… He started out as a Yankees announcer and ended up being the play by play guy for the Red Sox… In Ted Williams last at bat of his career he hit a home run and I did not know until this week that Gowdy made the call… Gowdy also used to do the game of the week on NBC in the 60’s and early 70’s…

- I remember Gowdy on the game of the week and World Series calls but the guys I remember the most were Joe Garogiola (Native of St Louis’s Italian Hill along with his childhood friend Yogi Berra) and former Yankee Tony Kubek… I used to have baseball practice from 10 to Noon on Saturday, rush home on my bike to watch American Bandstand and then the Game of the Week…

- Sosa is done… Now if Baseball can rid itself of Bonds the steroid fiasco should be completed… We will never know unless McGwire, Sosa or Bonds admit to it publicly but their careers along with Palmeros are tainted… I think Bonds is a Hall of Famer without the juice, McGwire is borderline but Sosa and Palmero are not… Sammy is only 37 and if he wanted to prove everyone wrong he would keep playing but his used to be swelled and now depleted frame will not let him…

- Texas QB Vince Young’s style reminds me allot of former Kentucky QB Derrick Ramsey… Ramsey led UK football to the Peach Bowl in 1976 and then to a 10 and 1 record in 1977 but Kentucky was not able to go to a bowl due to probation (That UK team beat Penn State at Penn State)… Ramsey went on to have a pretty good NFL career with the Raiders and the Patriots as a tight end… I do not see Vince Young, who was an absolutely terrific college QB, as a dominant QB in the NFL (See Bobby Douglas, Kordell Stewart and Michael Vick, Vick still can prove people wrong)…

- Speaking of that UK Team the NCAA gave Kentucky a choice of not going to a bowl in 76 or not being bowl eligible 77… If someone could have looked into the future I believe Kentucky would have skipped the Peach Bowl in 76 and who knows what happens after that…

- I am leaning toward Sirius for Satellite Radio… Sirius has all the SEC Games and has all of the NCAA Tournament Games… I can listen to baseball over the Internet and the music channels are close to the same… Plus my wife wants Sirius so she can listen to Stern…

Little Known Shag Facts

- Louisville, Kentucky had an entry into an early professional baseball league that later became known as the National League…

In the coming weeks

- Fantasy Baseball Draft… See who makes the Scuffletown Mudcats roster this year…

- Live Report from the Honda Classic in West Palm Beach… Let’s hope JB Holmes is there and at the top…

- ShagOnBaseball Preview with my eleven-year-old nephew Matt Fowler picking the division winners…

What’s in the CD player this Week

- Franz Ferdinand

Sunday, February 19, 2006

I Am NOT a Duke Fan

By ShagOnSports

In 1983 I joined the Navy and was eventually stationed in Norfolk, Virginia… Norfolk was a nice town and was home to Old Dominion University where I spent allot of time on the concrete courts shooting hoops… When I was not playing hoops you could bet I was somewhere watching a college game… With no cable TV on the ship I was stuck most of the time watching whatever game was on Network TV…

Being in the start of the heart of ACC country this meant I saw allot of ACC Basketball… The ACC was filled with some unbelievable talent during those seasons of 1983-84, 1984-85, 1985-86 & half of the 1986-87 while I was in Norfolk… You had Len Bias, Keith Gatlin and Adrian Branch at Maryland, Michael Jordan, Sam Perkins, Kenny Smith and Brad Daughtery at North Carolina, Mark Price, Bruce Dalrymple, Duane Ferrell, Tom Hammonds and John Salley at Georgia Tech (Price 83, Dalrymple 84, Ferrell 85 & Hammonds 86 were ACC Freshmen of the Year), Sidney Lowe, Spud Webb and Lorenzo Charles at NC State, Mugsy Bouges at Wake, Johnny Dawkins, Tommy Amaker, Mark Alarie, Jay Bilas and Billy King at Duke, Olden Polynece at Virginia and Horace and Harvey Grant at Clemson… It was not hard to become a fan of this conference with the level of talent in the league at this time…

There was also a big plus at the time in the fact that since I could not see Kentucky play very often I got to root for my other favorite team which has always been whoever is playing North Carolina… In 1977 North Carolina and Kentucky met in the Southeast Regional Final and when Mr. Class Dean Smith called Rick Robey a son of a bitch right to his face after he had committed a foul the line was drawn for me… I sent Dean a scathing letter after the incident and have hated the sky blue Tar Heels ever since… By the way who is the only person who could consistently hold Michael Jordan under twenty points in a game??? Dean Smith…

I loved watching Maryland’s Len Bias play the game and during this time period I really grew attached to the program at Duke also (how many more championships would the Bird’s Celtics have won with Len Bias in uniform)… I watched Dawkins, Alarie, Bilas and Amaker develop over three years into a great team and I really got into the rivalry of Duke and North Carolina… Duke, in my opinion, closely resembled Kentucky so it was easy to pull for them…

Anyway, Three weeks ago amidst the frustrating season that Kentucky is having I made a statement after Kentucky effortlessly lost to Vanderbilt at home, “If that was the effort Kentucky was going to give then I give up and I am going to root for Duke since I am a closet Duke fan anyway.” I am really more of an admirer of the program then a closet fan but I said what I said (Kind of like Mike Davis does when he gets frustrated)… I am sure there is many people out there who will give me allot of shit over this and that is OK…

I have always liked that Coach K always gets maximum effort out of his kids and the kids have understand the torch they are carrying… Coach K is a class guy and some of you may remember that after the Duke and Kentucky Game in 1992 he go on the air with Cawood and made allot of nice comments about Kentucky, that game and how special it was to be a part of it and that to him there were no losers… It is also of interest to note that even with my attachment to Duke in the mid 80’s when they played in the NCAA Championship Game against one University of Louisville in 1986 I sat in the Thunderbird Lounge on Virginia Beach and rooted for U of L, not Duke!!! How many people have a problem with that night??? Anyway, if you would have spent the amount of time I did not the East Coast during the same period you might understand where I am coming from that night…

My wife now tells everyone that I am a Duke fan… You can take it for what it is worth at this point but being a closet Duke Fan or a closet Alabama Football Fan, which I am, does not mean I root for those teams over Kentucky and never will… I still bleed KENTUCKY BLUE!!!

Big Win For Cats on Saturday

Kentucky posted a big win at South Carolina yesterday… The second half was one of the best performances of the year in any half for the team… Kentucky needs to take care of business against Ole Miss this week and then manage to win one of the last three (@ LSU, @ Tennessee, home with Florida)… Three of four could put this team in a really good spot… This team is still a mystery to me and I am anxious to see how Tubby’s coaching adjustments are going to work out the rest of the year and see how Patty Sparks responds against these last four foes, and the level of competition he will face with LSU, Tennessee and Florida!!!

ShagOnSports Random Comments

- Pitchers and Catchers have reported to Spring Training… Yes!!!

- Mike Davis never had a chance at IU… Whoever replaced Bobby Knight was going to have a short tenure… Steve Alford your up!!!

- Speaking of coaches sportswriter Billy Reed made a reference in 1985 that there would be a Martian in the white house before there would be a black coach at Kentucky… Wonder if he thought the same thing about IU??? Wonder how Bill Clinton kept his antlers or whatever Martians call them hid from view!!!

- Is anybody watching the NBA???

- Sirius or XM??? Help me decide…

- Don’t feel sorry for Eddie Sutton… Feel sorry for Okalahoma State because now Sean is the Head Coach…

- It was nice to see Fred Couples in contention at Rivera today (One of Ben Hogan’s favorite courses)… At 46 could he pull at Golden Bear at the Masters this year???

- Tubby to the Hornets???

Little Known Shag Facts

- If you do not have an MP3 Player then you are missing out on a chance of having a soundtrack to your life…

In the coming weeks-

- Fantasy Baseball Draft… See who makes the Scuffletown Mudcats roster this year…

- Live Report from the Honda Classic in West Palm Beach… Let’s Hope JB Holmes is there and at the top…

- ShagOnGolf Fantasy Team is off to a good start???

- ShagOnBaseball Preview with input from my eleven-year-old nephew Matt Fowler…


What’s in the CD player this Week

- Death Cab for Cutie

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Kentucky Basketball

What’s wrong with Kentucky Basketball???
by shagonsports

I assure you it is not Coach Smith… You do not win the amount of games he has the last three years because you cannot coach… The facts are the facts… Kentucky is 99 and 1 under Tubby Smith when they hold team under 50% shooting so put that in your pipe and smoke it… The issue is defense… You have to have heart and desire to play defense and that is what this team lacks… Heart and desire…

Patrick Sparks is good but he could have been so much more… Look at JJ Redick when he was a freshman at Duke… He was a solid player who needed to improve his body and foot speed in order to be a superstar and with a huge effort he made the transformation… He gained both strength and speed through hard work and effort… Patrick is a good point guard and was terrific at WKU for two years but that was against mid tier competition night in and night out… Yes he and WKU did beat UK early in his sophomore season but there is no way that would have happened in March that year… Patrick is a streaky shooter who lacks foot speed & strength (see JJ Redick) to play defense where you need to make an impact… Even Travis Ford was a better defender at 5’8… If Patrick would have worked hard in the off seasons then he to could be mentioned in the same breath as JJ… For whatever reason Patrick is not a leader either… We need a Chuck Hayes type leader… There is no doubt that as he goes Kentucky goes but that does not cover up the fact of what could have been with some hard work… If he only had a Larry Bird or Michael Jordan type work ethic…

Rajon Rondo is one of the best defensive player in the country who cannot shoot a lick… I have not seen a guy play this level of defense since Billy King at Duke in the mid 80’s (except against Florida)… He is a much better player without the ball on offense where he is free to roam and rebound… Rajon would be (and will be) a great point guard if he stays in school and learns how to shoot free throws (remember Wayne “Burner” Turner)… He can dribble penetrate with the best of them…

Randolph Morris is a man!!! He just needs a complimentary player inside… Bobby Perry, Sheray Thomas, Wookash Orbzut, Allyene and Jared Carter have not filled the bill… Perry and Thomas are 8 to 10 minute a game guys… With a Chuck Hayes or Erik Daniels this guy goes up to another level… Rekalin Sims could be that guy but his back injury (remember Larry Bird retired with the same injury) has role is limited…

As for the development of the UK big men you have to take a hard look at assistant coach Reggie Hanson… Reggie is a great guy with a million dollar smile who I have allot of respect for from his playing days… Reggie is responsible for the big men and I cannot believe with the athletic skills and effort that Orbzut has that he has not developed into a solid player… Woo runs the court well and gives maximum effort… Shagari is a bust and I just do not think the kid loves the game of basketball (see Andre Riddick)… I hope David Hobbs gets a head-coaching job this year and Tubby brings in someone to coach the centers and power forwards… Jared Carter has allot of talent but as I predicted by January he would not see any playing time… I do have an issue with Tubby Smith for not red shirting this player…

Smooth Bradley and Joe Crawford are going to be terrific basketball player’s there junior and senior years (if they stick around?) Crawford does remind me a little bit of Derrick Hord and Derrick just never made the impact he could/should have at UK… Adam Williams is another player who should have been red shirted… He is a big kid who can handle and shoot the ball and appears to have high basketball IQ… I believe the kid could be 1.5 time Cameron Mills with allot of hard work…

If all the players had the heart and desire of one Ravi Moss then this writing would be pointless and the pundits would have nothing to complain about at all…

Coaching??? Tubby is guilty of some shoddy recruiting (2002, 2003 class & 2005 class) and he has to fill the gap for a power forward… Coaching??? There needs to be a shake up on the bench and UK needs to bring someone in and teach the power forwards and centers how to play with there back to the basket… Tubby is a high ankle sprain away from making the final four and possibly a championship three years ago that would have cured allot of ills… Last year he was close again… How many close chances did Coach K have before finally getting over the hump??? If UK is this bad next year then let the pundits have their day… There are allot of programs having a down year including Syracuse, Maryland, Arizona and Michigan State (yes they have seven losses)… These are schools like Kentucky who have won the Championship in the last ten years…