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Archive for March, 2009

Terrible 12 out of Sweet 16..eh 75% isn’t bad

Posted by Nathan Atkins on March 24, 2009

Well I have 12 of the 16 right in this years Sweet Sixteen. 

Wake, WOW I was surprised. Sure, Cleveland State has gone up against some tough Big East competition (Beat Syracuse in Syracuse, Lost to West Virginia by 10 on the road too). The Vikings also played tough against Pac 10 power house Washington losing by 5. 

Notice a trend? 

Other than Syracuse, the CSU Vikings have struggled with elite teams. Wake Forest came out terrible, as one of the more inconsistent teams in the tournament, they didn’t disappointing losing 84-69 to the Horizon League Champions. 

Arizona on the other hand, the team many analysts say shouldn’t have made it into the tournament, handled CSU with ease defeating them 71-57.  Now in the Sweet Sixteen, it certainly looks like Arizona belongs there. 

Unfortunately for me, I had Wake Forest in the Sweet Sixteen. I was hoping that they would rebound from the poor way they ended the season and come into the tournament strong. But it looks like the opposite happened, Wake came in flat and down on themselves and before they knew it they lost by nearly twenty.

Gonzaga was another shocker. Not only did they defy my prediction of a first round loss, they followed it up with a second round win, making it to the Sweet Sixteen. Congratulations ‘Zags! Definitely did not see that one coming!

Florida State should be in the Sweet Sixteen. But Toney Douglas decided to give the game away. With 14 seconds left and a one point lead, Toney Douglas decided to jack up a 3 pointer. It fell short, just like Florida State’s dreams of making the Sweet Sixteen. I’m still unsure why he shot from 23 feet out instead of simply going in the paint and trying to draw a foul. 

Douglas missed the shot, Jason Bohannon rebounded, after a 30 second time out, the Badgers were back on the floor ready to crush the Seminoles’s dreams. Treyvon Hughes drives to the basket, gets fouled……..and……MAKES THE BASKET. Florida State loses by 2. 

Texas coach Rick Barnes was a solid 0-3 against Duke heading into this game. Well coach, make that 0-4. 

But, there’s improvement! 

Barnes had previously lost to the Duke Blue Devils by an average of 26.3 points. 

On Saturday, they only lost by 5. 

Texas shot terrible from beyond the arc (25%). AJ Abrams was solid contributing 17 points and shot 33% from three. But, Connor Atchley did not come ready to play, he played 6 minutes, had 1 rebound and no points. 

Duke on the other hand was hot once again. The Blue Devils shot 50% from three and hit 77.8% of their free throws, opposed to the 64.0% by Texas. 

Poor shooting and missed free throws will do you in every time. Sorry Longhorns.

Let’s see how my Elite Eight looks after this round.

I had Wake, Western Kentucky, Texas and Florida State all losing in the Sweet Sixteen.

First Round: 28/32 = 87% B+ 

Second Round: 12/16 = 75% C

AVERAGE: 83% B

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And They\’re Off: 2009 NCAA Tournament Is Under Way.

Posted by Nathan Atkins on March 20, 2009

The tournament has officially begun.

Never mind the play-in game, it is now time for Madness.

Well..not yet at least, but it\’s coming!

Analysts were predicting that within our lifetime a sixteen seed will upset a one seed. This year they were hoping for Chattanooga.

Those analysts will have to wait \’til next year before they make another lofty prediction such as that.

UConn, the number one seed in the West Region blew out the Mocs from Tennessee, 103-47.

Yikes!

But UConn wasn\’t the only number one seed to dominate their opponent.

North Carolina handled Radford without Ty Lawson, (as if anyone thought they wouldn\’t) 101-58.

Good Grief!

There were a few more entertaining games, such as LSU and Butler.

After Butler lost the Horizon League tournament to Cleveland State, I thought they would come out angry and hungry, desperate for a win. But, I was wrong. They kept the game too close and came up short 40 minutes later, losing 75-71.

The Butler Bulldogs, have tarnished my bracket by losing in the first round, but I\’m sure the feeling of defeat hurts much more than the few dollars I just lost. (Had them losing to UNC in the second round ).

Memphis came out flat, allowing Cal State-Northridge to keep the game way too close. With five minutes left in the second half, Memphis was down one point against CS-Northridge. They pulled away and pulled it out, winning  81-70.

Texas A&M beat BYU 79-66. No surprise there.

Maryland beat California, another incorrect pick by me. I thought the Golden Bears would be excited about their NCAA bid for the first time in three years. But, no they weren\’t they lost to the Terrapins 84-71.

Washington won in glorious fashion led by forward Quincy Pondexter\’s 23 points in a 71-58 rout of the Mississippi State Bulldogs.

Purdue beat Northern Iowa as well, 61-56. Forward Robbie Hummel was one point shy of a double-double with nine points and ten rebounds.

As of right now, I\’m 7-2.

Also as of right now Villanova is losing by ten to American University, 41-31. I\’m confident \’Nova will pull it out. American was hot coming into the tournament with a thirteen game win streak. But, their shooting will cool off in the second half, look for veteran experience from \’Nova to take over and win the game.

Gonzaga is struggling with Akron, no surprise here. As I said in a previous post, Gonzaga has a tendency to get bounced in the first round. Who knows if they will pull it off, for their sake I hope so.

Texas is ahead against Minnesota 39-35. Texas is the better team, but don\’t count out the coaching ability of Tubby Smith. The former University of Georgia and University of Kentucky coach knows what he\’s doing. In 1996, he took the Bulldogs to the Sweet Sixteen, and in 1998 won the tournament with the Wildcats. I expect Texas to close out and finish strong, but calling a Minnesota victory an upset, would be an exaggeration.

Michigan is ahead against Clemson 27-24. Clemson looks like the better team, no question. But, never underestimate a team\’s drive and hunger. Michigan hasn\’t been in the tournament for eleven years! I expect Michigan to win the game.

Binghamton and Duke are yet to play. Duke will win, but look for Binghamton to give them a tough time. No team is more over-rated than the Duke Blue Devils; there is also no team that underachieves more in the NCAA tournament than the boys from Raleigh-Durham.

Western Kentucky and Illinois haven\’t tipped off yet either. Each year a twelve seed upsets a five seed, that game is right here. Illinois is without steals and assists leader Chester Frazier. The Illini have struggled since his injury, limping through the Big Ten Tournament until getting hammered by Purdue 66-56. The Hilltoppers on the other hand come into the tournament with a seven game win streak; along with two guards in Orlando Mendez-Valdez and AJ Slaughter, who average 14.0 and 15.8 points respectively.

VCU is scheduled to play UCLA. I don\’t like UCLA, I think they\’re overrated as well. Eric Maynor from VCU is a giant killer, defeating Duke in the 2007 tournament. The Rams have improved though, adding Larry Sanders (11.8 ppg, 8.5 rpg and 2.7 bpg). Maynor is still going \”beast mode\” in the words of Marshawn Lynch, averaging 22.4 ppg, 6.2 apg, 3.5 rpg, 1.7 spg and is shooting 36.7% from beyond the arc. Statistically, the teams are evenly matched: VCU averages 72.0 points per game and allows 63.4, UCLA averages 76.0 and gives up 63.3.

Maynor will be the difference.

As for the final game, Morgan State against Oklahoma?

Morgan State\’s biggest threats on the block are Marquise Kately who averages 11 ppg and 5.4 rpg, along side Kately, is Kevin Thompson who averages 9.1 ppg and 7.2 rpg.

Kately and Thomson combined average 20.1 ppg and 12.6 rpg.

Blake Griffin averages 21.9 ppg and 14.3 rpg.

Two men can\’t equal the same amount of output that one can. That fact alone will carry the Sooners through the first round, Morgan State isn\’t even a speed bump on Oklahoma\’s journey to the second round.

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It’s Here..

Posted by Nathan Atkins on March 16, 2009

 

365-bracket

The bracket has arrived. 

Locks: 

Louisville in the Elite Eight. Coming into the tournament hot after the Big East Championship, there aren’t any teams that can slow Terrence Williams, Earl Clark and the Cardinals down. 

North Carolina in the Final Four. After being embarrassed by Kansas in the Final Four last year, North Carolina will be back in 2009. With Ty Lawson coming back from injury, the Tar Heels will be rejuvenated in what appears to be one of the easiest regions. 

Michigan State. There are no stats for it but each year the Spartans find a way to win, and keep winning in March. Last year the fifth seed Spartans made it to the Sweet Sixteen, and the final four in 2005 as the fifth seed once again. 

Dont Believe the Hype: 

Pittsburgh is 0-3 in games where DaJuan Blair has 4+ fouls. If the Panthers’s big man finds himself in foul trouble, he could find himself on the bus back to Pittsburgh. If Pitt can find a way to protect Blair, then watch out, they are a very good team. 

Oklahoma is another team that may look like a powerhouse. But don’t let the celebrity of Blake Griffin fool you. Last year Kansas State had the Big 12 and NCAA Player of the year in Michael Beasley, along with a quick explosive guard in Bill Walker; they didn’t make it past the second round.

Bracket Busters: 

Midwest-

Wake Forest. The Demon Deacons are a force to be reckoned with. With wins against North Carolina, Duke, Boston College, Florida State, Clemson and Maryland the 24-5 Deacs are very tough this year. It would not be surprising to see the Deacons in the Elite Eight.

West- Purdue/Missouri 

Purdue was the pre-season favorite for the Big Ten; but after an injury to sophomore standout Robbie Hummel, Purdue lost games to Penn State, Ohio State and Illinois. Hummel is now back and the Boilermakers are the 2009 Big Ten Champions. They are getting hot and healthy at the right time, I have them in my Elite Eight. 

Missouri plays in the same conference as Oklahoma, Texas, Oklahoma State, Kansas and Texas A&M. Each one of those teams is in the tournament, one of those teams has the player of the year, and one of those teams is defending National Champs. Who won the conference tournament? Mizzou. The Tigers have beat Oklahoma State and Texas on the road, and beat Oklahoma at home. The Tigers are a balanced team. Their high flying offense averages about 82 points a game, while their defense only allows about 67 points per game. 

East-

Vilanova is a tough team to figure out. They have  a strong record overall at 26-7, yet  are only 3-4 against the top 25. But they are 13-5 in the Big East, this years toughest conference. They can shoot the three (36.8%) so if they start making shots, other teams will have a tough time slowing down the Wildcats. 

South- Western Kentucky /Syracuse 

Western Kentucky made the Sweet Sixteen last year. Tyrone Brazleton isn’t on the team this year, but another other Hilltopper star is. A.J. Slaughter comes into the tournament after being on last year’s team. Slaughter is averaging 15.8 ppg and is shooting 36.8% from three, look for Slaughter to take the Hilltoppers deep into the tournament. Since Chester Frazier has had surgery on his hand, the Illini have struggled after losing their assists and steals leader; so I don’t see how WKU will struggle with them. As for Gonzaga I’m unsure if they’ll even make it out of the first round, in both ’07 and ’08 the Bulldogs were bounced out of the tournament on the first day.

Syracuse has come on strong after a valiant showing in the Big East tournament. After going six overtimes with UConn, the Orange emerged victorious 127-117. As if six weren’t enough, the Orange played one more the next day. They took West Virginia five quarters and won 74-69. As if beating UConn and West Virginia weren’t enough, the Orange went to battle with the Louisville Cardinals. They lost 76-66 but the score doesn’t do ‘Cuse much justice, the game was much closer. Syracuse had an eight point lead at half. The Orange have some players too: Johnny Flynn averages 17.6 ppg and 6.7 apg, Eric Devendorf contributes another 15.9 ppg, and Paul Harris rounds out the lineup with 12.6 ppg and 7.9 rpg. I have the Orange in the Elite Eight, they’re getting hot at the right time and have all the players needed to make a run.

 

Sweet Sixteen: 

Louisville, Wake , Kansas, Michigan St, Connecticut, Purdue, Missouri, Memphis, Pittsburgh, Florida State, Villanova, Texas, North Carolina, Western Kentucky, Syracuse and Oklahoma

 

Elite Eight: 

Louisville, Michigan State, Purdue, Memphis, Pittsburgh, Villanova, North Carolina and Syracuse 

 

Final Four: 

Louisville, Memphis, Villanova and North Carolina

 

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Who’s #1?

Posted by Nathan Atkins on March 15, 2009

Louisville, Pittsburgh, North Carolina and Connecticut have all received #1 seeds in this year’s NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.

NCAA Men’s brackets have been announced today and Rick Pitino and his Cardinals are the number one overall seed in this year’s tournament. 

Though I’m not a Big East fan, I must admit that this is their year. Three of the four overall number one seeds are out of the Big East. 

Louisville made it clear that they deserved to be the number one this year after going 28-5, 16-2 in conference play, and destroying all challengers in the Big East Tournament: 73-55 against Providence, 69-55 against Villanova and 76-66 against Syracuse in the championship game. Louisville will the the number one seed in the Midwest Region, playing their games in Indianapolis.

Pittsburgh had a strong case for the number one as well. They were the regular season number one for three months during the 2008-2009 season. until they lost to Louisville 63-69. But after a 28-4 season (15-3) they were recognized as the second best team; not only in the Big East, but in the tournament as well. Pittsburgh has been awarded the number one seed in the East Region, playing their games in Boston.

Louisville, Pitt, North Carolina and UConn all been seeded number one in the 2009 Men's Basketball Tournament.

Louisville, Pitt, North Carolina and UConn all been seeded number one in the 2009 Men's Basketball Tournament.

 

North Carolina, the only number one team not from the Big East was the number one team during the regular season as well. In the highly competitive ACC, The Tarheels were dominant. In route to winning the ACC, Carolina posted the best record going 28-4  (13-3). The second place team in the conference, (Wake Forest #4 seed) went 24-8 and 11-5 in conference play. With the way Carolina handled the ACC this year; beating the #2 seed Duke twice during the regular season, they are more than deserving of a number one seed.  

Carolina will be the number one seed in the South Region hoping to make it to the regional championships in Memphis.

Last but not least, another former regular season number one: UConn. 

Connecticut fought hard this year in the Big East going 27-4 (15-3). The first, second and third place team in the Big East are all number one seeds this year, a testament to the dominance of the conference this year. 

The Huskies played games against both Louisville and Pittsburgh this year, beating the Cardinals 68-51, and splitting their series with Pitt, losing 76-68 in February. But the Huskies rebounded in March, beating the Panthers 70-60.

UConn rounds out the tournament with the number one seed in the West Region.

Though their seemed to be more parity last year, it doesn’t seem as if this year’s tournament will be much different than last year’s. 

The number one seeds look to be the most dominant teams, and will probably advance to the final four. 

The tournament is losing its parity, in the last few years Non-Power Conference teams are losing “At-Large” bids. 

Five years ago in 2004, there were twelve.

Last year there were six, this year, four. 

Remember the excitement of the 2004 tournament? 

St. Joseph’s led by  guard tandem Jameer Nelson and Delonte West making it to the Elite Eight?

Manhattan knocking off SEC power Florida in the first round 75-60? 

Nevada beating Michigan State and Gonzaga to make it to the Sweet Sixteen?

Seton Hall beating Arizona in the first round? 

Alabama upsetting Stanford and Syracuse to make the Elite Eight?

It truly was Madness in 2004, and in 2008 as well. 

Remember Siena’s upset Vanderbilt?

Davidson’s upset Gonzaga, Georgetown and Wisconsin to make the Elite Eight.?

Western Kentucky’s upset Drake, and beat San Diego in route to the Sweet Sixteen?

San Diego upsetting Connecticut in the first round?

Now there will only  four Non-Power Conference teams thanks to the Selection Committee. 

I’m excited for the tournament, but in the future will it actually be “March Madness” ? 

-Nate 

(Bracket’s coming soon….)

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Make ’em say Huh?

Posted by Nathan Atkins on March 13, 2009

Percy Miller Jr.

Percy Miller Jr.

Percy Miller Jr.

Percy Miller Jr.

Percy Miller Jr.

Say his name five times and he appears  like Candyman.

Unlike Candyman though, Romeo won’t be killing anyone or anything anytime soon, not while he’s riding the bench at USC.

Percy Jr. is the son of No Limit Record artist and P. Miller Enterprises CEO Percy Miller; (also known by the stage name Master P).

Percy Sr. is not your average rapper, he graduated from the University of Houston and quickly became one of the first rapper-entrepreneurs.

In 1998, Master P ranked 10th on Forbes 40 highest paid entertainers; his income was estimated to be about $56.5 million dollars a year.

Percy Miller became a music mogul as a result of his rap persona Master P. In 1998, he was estimated to have an annual income of over 56 million dollars

Percy Miller became successful as a result of his rap persona Master P and his record label No Limit Records. In 1998, Forbes ranked him the 10th on their "40 Highest Paid Entertainers" list.

Miller continued his business ventures by starting No Limit Sports, a sports talent agency. Their biggest client was Ricky Williams; Williams’s rookie contract in New Orleans was none other than the handiwork of Master P and his associate Leland Hardy.

No Limit Sports represented Ron Mercer and Ricky Davis as well.

Percy Sr. even has a little bit of game.

In 1998 he received a contract to play for the Charlotte Hornets, the following year he had a try out with the Toronto Raptors, but was cut in the preseason.

In 2004, Miller played for the ABA Las Vegas Rattlers after playing a year in the CBA with the Fort Wayne Fury.

Miller has currently given up his hoops aspirations and become a family man; and he is not unlike most parents.

As most parents would, Miller would like to see his son do two things: live longer than him, and be more successful than he was.

The first is out of his hands, as for the second? Well Miller Sr.  has done everything within his ability to ensure that it happens, especially on the basketball court.

Congratulations, Mr. Miller. Romeo is now a freshman point guard at USC, a spot that he gained not as a result of his athletic ability but as the result of your social status and business savvy.

In 2006, Romeo was invited to the Reebok ABCD Camp.

The ABCD camp is the holy grail  for prep basketball players; an invitation to this camp means that you have some serious talent.

A few previous attendees of the camp are current NBA players:

Kobe Bryant, Stephon Marbury, Lebron James, Carmelo Anthony and Tracy McGrady.

The fact that Romeo was invited would cause most to assume that he is a high caliber athlete.

But in the words of the legendary Lee Corso, “Not so fast my friend”

Romeo only averaged two points a game at the ABCD; he was clearly over matched and definitely out of place. It caused many people to question why director of the camp, Sonny Vaccaro extended the invitation to Miller. In an article for the Wall Street Journal, Vaccaro said he invited Miller to the camp as a favor to his father, Percy Miller Sr.

Sonny Vaccaro went on to say, “If your looking for the profile of an athlete who plays basketball at USC, he’s not it”

But if he’s not good enough to play at USC, how did he get there?

Ask  Head Coach, Tim Floyd.

In the same article, Floyd told the WSJ, “Last April…Percy Miller called while driving both players from a tournament in Fayetteville, Ark…Percy Miller said ‘DeMar and Romeo are ready to make their decision, and would you like to have them both on scholarship?’…’I said absolutely”.

This DeMar fellow that Floyd and Miller both mention?

Well he  is none other than DeMar DeRozan.

A 6 foot 6 inch All-American forward.

In 2007, DeRozan was the fifth best player in the country, and a five star recruit according to Scout.com. Romeo Miller on the other hand was unranked, with one star. Romeo had no other division one offers other than USC.

Is Miller a bad player though?

No.

The 5’11 180 pound junior averaged 13.9 points and 5.6 assists in 2007. His senior year though he only averaged 8.6 points and 9.0 assists.

He only played in eight games though due to a strained hip flexor and bruised knee. He sat out to get ready for college basketball. (Good idea since he didn’t have options other than USC).

Romeo Miller was invited to the prestigious ABCD camp and was given a scholarship to USC. However, after a recent statement by USC coach Tim Floyd, it has been made apparent Romeos accomplishments are a result of his dads fame.

Romeo Miller (left) was invited to the prestigious ABCD camp and given a scholarship to USC. However, after a recent statement by USC coach Tim Floyd, it has been made apparent Romeo's accomplishments are a result of his dad, Percy Miller's (right) fame.

In my opinion, Percy Miller Jr is a division two player.

He could potentially play division one basketball for a mid major team (ex: University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Oakland University in Michigan, etc.)

But USC?

Well Sonny Vaccaro already said no, and after this year I’m guessing Tim Floyd would share the same sentiment.

Romeo is averaging 0.5 ppg, 0.2 apg, 0.3 rpg and is shooting 33% from the free throw line.

God awful right? Well that’s because he only plays two minutes a game!

As Bob Gibbons of the recruiting service All-Star Sports  said in the WSJ article, “It’s rare to give a scholarship to someone who may never play”

Its rare because scholarships do not come cheap, especially not at USC.

The scholarship Romeo received is estimated to be about $44,000  a year.

I’m not upset with Romeo for taking the scholarship, its most athlete’s dream to play at the division one level, so I understand completely.

But I wonder, what about the walk-ons, and the kids who might have more talent but have just lost a spot on the roster thanks to Romeo’s father.

Also, what about the kid who didn’t get an invitation to the ABCD camp because his dad wasn’t a music mogul?

A former coach of mine used to say, “Cliches are cliches, because they are true”

So here is a cliche that has once again been proven true: Life isn’t fair.

And in my opinion, it’s a sad day when a team will sacrifice talent for ticket sales.

I leave you with two videos, one of DeMar DeRozan a high school All-American, who is now averaging 12.9 ppg and 5.3 rpg for the Trojans; and the other is Romeo Miller freshman point guard for USC.

You decide which one looks like a division one prospect and which one doesn’t.

DeMar DeRozan

Percy “Romeo” Miller Jr

Highlight Video

-Nate


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It’s Coming…

Posted by Nathan Atkins on March 11, 2009

Starting next week, it has begun.

Get your brackets ready.

Each day there will be updates regarding the day’s dissapointments and upsets.

Once again, get your brackets ready, because I will be posting one too.

See who gets more right…

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For Sale: Alex Smith $4M or Best Offer

Posted by Nathan Atkins on March 11, 2009

If you’re in the Bay Area anytime soon, stop by Monster Park (formerly Candlestick Park) and check out the 49ers yard sale that’s going on.

Chances are you will see former first overall pick, former starting quarterback, Alex Smith available. I’m not sure how much Mike Singletary will be selling him for, fifty cents maybe?

For $1.50 you can get Alex Smith,  and a dirty, semi-broken lawn chair that Singletary doesn’t use anymore.

If this were a MasterCard commercial, Alex Smith wouldn’t be priceless, he’d be worthless.

After floundering from day one the first overall pick in the 2005 draft finally flopped.

San Francisco was hoping Smith could come in and, well I’m not sure what they expected from him.

After drafting Alex Smith with the first overall pick in 2005, the 49ers have been nothing but dissapointed. Smith has thrown for only completed 54.4 percent of his passes, while throwing for 4,679 yards, 19 touchdowns and 31 interceptions

After drafting Alex Smith with the first overall pick in 2005, the 49ers have been nothing but dissapointed. Smith has thrown for only completed 54.4 percent of his passes, while throwing for 4,679 yards, 19 touchdowns and 31 interceptions

His rookie year he played in nine games and threw one touchdown, and eleven interceptions. But as most teams do, San Francisco wrote it off as Smith’s transition year, he needed time to get adjusted to the NFL.

Well..three years later Smith has thrown twenty more interceptions and only eighteen more touchdowns, putting him at a whopping 19-31 ratio of  touchdowns to interceptions.

In 2008, Smith didn’t even start! He was beaten by J.T. O’Sullivan

When O’Sullivan took over the starting role in San Fran in 2008, he was on his ninth team in six years. (Not to mention a year in Germany playing for the NFL Europe’s Frankfurt Galaxy)

A sixth round pick, division two, journeyman quarterback beat out a first round pick, division one, Heisman finalist.

Alex is not a dumb man though, while at Utah, Smith graduated in two years with a degree in economics. Smith’s marketplace savvy is probably the only reason why he’s still with the 49ers today.

Smith took a pay cut coming into this year. Instead of the $9.625 million he was slated to make, Smith will now make 4 million, numbers comparable to the average NFL back up quarterback.

Josh, if you need some advice on what to do try calling: Ryan Leaf, Tim Couch, Akili Smith, Cade Mcnown, and more recently Kyle Boller.

The time has come Josh to accept your fate. After your contract is up in San Francisco, your future is as uncertain as the economy’s.

I heard there’s an opening for Deputy Treasury Secretary available.

Enough about Alex Smith. He’s  four years ago’s news.

What will San Francisco do in 2009?

Sanchez threw for 3,695 yards, 41 touchdowns and 16 interceptions in only 17 games at USC. He is projected to be a first round pick and is the second best quarterback in the NFL Draft.

Sanchez threw for 3,695 yards, 41 touchdowns and 16 interceptions in only 17 games at USC. He is projected to be a first round pick and is the second best quarterback in the NFL Draft.

Draft Mark Sanchez.

He’s better than Alex Smith, but has only had one year of playing time.

He should have stayed. But he didn’t and is still the best pick for San Francisco in 2009.

If the 49ers don’t draft Sanchez, then Shaun Hill will be the starter.

Hill completed 62.8 percent of his passes while throwing for 2,046 yards 13 touchdowns and 8 interceptions in 2008.

In 2008, Sanchez threw for 3,207 yards, 34 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He did it in impressive fashion, completing 65.8 percent of his passes and leading USC to a Rose Bowl victory; Sanchez completed an impressive 80.0 percent of his passes, threw for 415 yards and 4 touchdowns in a 38-24 blowout of Penn State.

The 6’2 227 pound Sanchez seems to be the best pick for San Francisco. Mark Sanchez is the local legend, from his days at Mission Viejo to his recent success at USC. Sanchez is only about a six hour drive away from Singletary and the ‘9ers right now. And he is a local boy; he chose USC over Texas, Notre Dame, Nebraska and Ohio State based on its proximity to home.

It’s more than likely he still wants to stay close to home, and where else other then San Francisco?

Though Shaun Hill was a solid contributor in 2008, he only played nine games. It is still unknown as to whether or not he will lead San Francisco to a championship.

Even Singletary has not yet been sold on Hill, Singletary seems to follow a strange coaching strategy these days in the NFL; he plays the best player, not the one being paid the most money.

Other than lack of experience, I can’t see why the 49ers would be turned off of Sanchez. They could use an offensive lineman, but spending  the tenth pick on a lineman is a waste. The ‘9ers also need to improve on defense, but a pass rushing end will be available later in the draft.

A quality quarterback may not be.

With the tenth pick in the 2009 NFL Draft the San Francisco 49ers should select Matt Sanchez, quarterback University of Southern California.

-Nate

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Cutting Good Quarterbacks, One at a Time

Posted by Nathan Atkins on March 10, 2009

MISSING: JEFF GARCIA

Have you seen this man?

Jeff Garcia was last seen in Tampa Bay on Februrary 16, 2009.

He was cut to make way for Luke McCown, who we now realize is unproven.

Garcia was last seen throwing for 2,712 yards, 12 TDs and 6ints in 2008.

He was also last seen wearing a red #7 jersey.

If seen contact Raheem Morris at (813) 879-2827

Poor Tampa Bay, they have already made a terrible decision, a decision that reflects terrible on new coach Raheem Morris.

Jeff Garcia started twelve games for the Buccaneers in 2008. He threw for 2,712 yards, 12 touchdowns and 6 interceptions, he had a disgusting completion percentage of 64.9. These stats are nothing new for Garcia, he has a career average 61.9 completion rating, has amassed over 25,000 career passing yards, and has thrown 161 touchdowns.

Perfect reasons to cut him; Tampa Bay decided to move forward in 2009 by removing Garcia from the roster.

They chose instead to replace Garcia with Luke McCown.

Why haven’t you ever heard of him?

Well he’s only thrown for 1,617 yards in his career. Not to mention a weak nine touchdowns, complemented only by his ten interceptions.

McCown’s been in the NFL for six years; and in those six years, he has never played more than five games.

Before Tampa Bay, McCown was in Cleveland where he started a career high five games.

McCown’s competition in Cleveland was journeyman Kelly Holcomb (now retired) and Josh Harris (rookie in ’04, retired in ’06. Zero career starts).

Eerily enough those five games that  McCown did start for Cleveland in 2004 , occurred after a certain quarterback got hurt..

That quarterback? Jeff Garcia.

Garcia was the starting quarterback for the Cleveland Browns in 2004. He threw for 1731 yards, 10 touchdowns and 9 interceptions.

Luke McCown came in the last five games and threw for 608 yards, 4 touchdowns and 7 interceptions.

In 2005, Garcia signed with Detroit and later Philadelphia before heading to Tampa Bay.

During his time in Philly, Garcia led the Eagles to an NFC East championship; throwing for 1309 yards, 10 touchdowns and 2 interceptions.

McCown on the other hand in 2005, was beat out for the starting job by Charlie Frye and traded to Tampa Bay.

In 2007, for the first time in two years, McCown was able to once again see the field.

He finished the rest of the season with 1009 yards, 5 touchdowns and 3 interceptions in five games.

Is it now becoming clear why the Bucs cut Garcia for McCown?

No?

Thought so.

The Bucs have tried to improve the offense for 2009 by re-signing Antonio Bryant and Michael Clayton.

They should continue this trend by begging Jeff Garcia to come back.

Bryant, a former first round pick from Pittsburgh has finally lived up to his hype seven years later.

After 83 receptions, 1,248 yards and 7 touchdowns, he will be back in 2009.

Clayton has underachieved since his rookie year but has shown potential (80 rec, 1193 yds, 7tds in 2004). Clayton blamed his lack of production on former coach John Gruden. Now that Gruden is gone, its time for Clayton to produce.

The Bucs have also been busy in Free Agency, recently signing Cleveland tight end, Kellen Winslow Jr.

The Buccaneers have improved their offense by re-signing wide receivers Antonio Bryant (top), Michael Clayton (bottom left), and free agent Kellen Winslow (bottom right). Though the receiving core has been improved Tampa Bay still does not have a quarterback after the release of Jeff Garcia.

The Buccaneers have improved their offense by re-signing wide receivers Antonio Bryant (top), Michael Clayton (bottom left), and free agent Kellen Winslow (bottom right). Though the receiving core has been improved Tampa Bay still does not have a quarterback after the release of Jeff Garcia.

K2 as he is called, caught 82 passes for 1,106 yards and 5 touchdowns in 2007. But, an injury in 2008, and inconsistent quarterback play limited him to 428 yards and 3 touchdowns.

Notice anything strange about these wide receivers?

They have all caught more touchdowns than Luke McCown has thrown in his six year career!

Chances are McCown will not get these recievers the ball. Which is absolutely the worst thing a team would want when they have a receivier who appears to be in his prime (Bryant), a reciever who hates not getting the ball (Winslow), and a reciever desperate to regain his 2004 form (Clayton).

Inconsistent quarterback play will not only anger these three, it will leave the Bucs watching the playoffs from home.

Oh, Coach Morris.. I hope you know what you’re doing, because it certainly doesn’t look like it.

The bright spot for Tampa Bay could come this year in April at Radio City.

It is projected that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will select Josh Freeman in the first round though, which would be a great decision.

There is one problem though, Josh Freeman is a project quarterback. He will need time to develop.

Last year Tampa drafted another project quarterback; one that will need even more time than Freeman to develop, none other than Josh Johnson out of  Division 1-AA San Diego.

If Freeman is drafted, Johnson’s chances of starting will be slim to none.

It is highly likely though that Morris will select Freeman; Morris was a part of the Kansas State coaching staff when Freeman started at quarterback in 2006.

At 6 feet 6 inches and 250 pounds, Freeman has everything NFL scouts are looking for.

On top of that the K-State quarterback has a monster arm.

The only problem with Freeman is consistency.

Similar to Georgia’s Matthew Stafford his stock is up one day and down the next.

Josh Freeman threw for 2,945 yards, 20 touchdowns and 8 interceptions at Kansas State. He is projected to go to Tampa Bay in the first round, filling their hole at quarterback

Josh Freeman threw for 2,945 yards, 20 touchdowns and 8 interceptions at Kansas State. He is projected to go to Tampa Bay in the first round, filling their hole at quarterback

In a game against the 2008 Big XII Champion Oklahoma, Freeman was extraordinary.

The Wildcat quarterback threw for 478 yards, 3 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. Not to mention he completed 29-51 for a completion rating of 56.9.

Kansas State hit the road the next week, traveling to Lawrence to face the rival Jayhawks

Boy was Freeman was pathetic; he had a solid completion percentage of 59.6,  and threw for 207 yards, but had three interceptions in a 52-21 loss.

The week after K-State traveled to Missouri, his gametime performance was lack luster to say the least.

Freeman threw for 121 yards and 0 touchdowns and 0 interceptions, he also only completed 50 percent of his passes in another loss. This time 41-24.

Freeman will be a project quarterback no question. But, can he be any worse than the six year veteran who has only thrown nine touchdowns?

With the nineteenth pick in the first round, Tampa Bay should select Josh Freeman, quarterback from Kansas State.

But while they’re at it, the should call Jeff Garcia.

If they can find him.

On the clock: San Francisco

-Nate

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On the Clock: Minnesota Vikings

Posted by Nathan Atkins on March 7, 2009

Welcome to Minneapolis, Minnesota!

The state of 10,000 lakes, the city with flaky fans and the team void of quality quarterbacks.

The Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in downtown Minneapolis, home to both the Minnesota Twins and Minnesota Vikings.

First things first I would like to issue a notice to all Minnesota residents: Support your local football team!

Minnesota had not made the playoffs in four years.

The typical reaction to a team achieving success after continually losing is for fans to jump on the bandwagon.

Not in Minnesota.

Defensive end Jared Allen had to beg Minnesota fans to buy playoff tickets to prevent the game from being blacked out by national broadcasters. Even with his plea the Vikings had to be granted a 24-hour extension before selling out the stadium.

Seriously?

Fans like these are becoming hard to find in Minnesota. Lack of ticket sales almost prevented the home playoff game from being televised.

Fans like these are becoming hard to find in Minnesota; lack of ticket sales almost prevented a home playoff game from being televised.

Can you imagine a team in the playoffs unable to sell out a home game?

Get on your job Vikings fans.

With that being said the 2008 Minnesota Vikings did a great job making something out of nothing.

Along with the lack of public support, the Vikings also fought against the ideal that to be a winning football team its a necessity to have a good quarterback. Never mind that in the last ten years, six of the Super Bowl MVP’s have been quarterbacks. Owner Zygi Wilf said to heck with a quality quarterback and proved NFL experts wrong by winning ten games in 2008.

But those miffed experts were rejuvenated on January 4th when the Vikings took the field for the NFL Wild Card Game against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Three hours and 71 yard screen pass for touchdown later, the Philadelphia Eagles advanced, defeating the Vikings 26-14.

And they were off!

Sports writers thrashed about on their laptops. Posting articles dripping with with sarcasm; citing quarterback Tavaris Jackson’s interception in the second quarter, his fumble in the fourth quarter, and his paltry 42.8 completion percentage as the reason for the Vikings’s loss.

Though they are right, let’s address something many of them chose to ignore: Jackson is not the sole reason for the loss.

How does the NFL’s sixth best defense allow 26 points?

How does a defense that allows 292.2 yards per game, allow Donovan McNabb to throw for 300, and allow the Eagles offense to produce 350 yards?

True Jackson struggled, but with a defensive output like that, the third year man out of Alabama State was practically playing Russian roulette with a Derringer.

It is not myth, rumor or urban legend,to be a successful football team you need a quarterback.

It is also well known that Minnesota has not had one since Daunte Culpepper’s amazing 2004 season. Tavaris Jackson struggled not only the entire 2008 season but the year before too; his performance in the Wild Card game should not have come as a shock.

In 2007 Jackson played in 12 games; he threw for 1911 yards, 9 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. Unfortunately for Jackson he is athletically gifted, making him a dual threat as well. To compliment his mediocre passing Jackson ran for 260 yards and 3 touchdowns.

But he also had 5 fumbles.

His numbers were terrible, but he was selected as a developmental player, so as with most developmental players the Vikings believed time would cure all Jackson’s inability.

Sadly it didn’t. Which is why in 2008 when Jackson’s stats began to mirror those of 2007, he was benched.

For journeyman Gus Frerotte.

The Vikings had a developmental player at quarterback who had made no substantial progress in two years, and they get Frerotte to replace him?

The Vikings spent the 2007 off season half-heartedly trying to find a replacement for Jackson.

After Green Bay refused to deal Brett Favre to an opponent in the NFC North, Minnesota ended its quarterback search. Matt Schaub and Jeff Garcia were both available free agents, yet Minnesota ended its search after they couldn’t get Favre. It causes other NFL teams to question how interested the Vikings truly were in replacing Jackson.

Surprisingly Frerotte led the Vikings to an 8-3 record. The Vikings looked like a playoff bound team, that is until Frerotte hurt his back and the controls were returned to Tavaris Jackson and Vikings season quickly came to a close.

What happened next is what makes me question Minnesota’s desire to win.

Gus Frerotte expressed his desire to be the Vikings starter for the 2009 season.

A week ago they cut him.

Frerotte is not an all star quarterback by any stretch of the imagination, but the numbers can’t be debated. 2157 yards, 12 touchdowns and eight wins. Keep this in mind, the Vikings had ten wins in 2008.

Frerotte had eight.

After going 8-3 as a starter the Vikings released Gus Frerotte (right) opting instead to keep Tavaris Jackson despite Jacksons dissapointing 11-8 record as a starter over the past two seasons.

After going 8-3 as a starter in 2008, the Vikings released Gus Frerotte (12) opting instead to keep Tavaris Jackson (7); despite Jackson's disappointing 11-8 record as a starter over the past two seasons.

So they released him?

Do the Vikings like to win? This should be the question Christopher Nolan has the Riddler ask Bruce Wayne in the next Batman movie.

There are two possible reasons for the Vikings actions.

The first is the one I have already suggested, they simply enjoy losing.

The second is that they are potentially, and hopefully planning to draft a quarterback in the 2009 Draft.

It’s unlikely they will select one in the first round though. They have concerns at both Right Tackle and Cornerback.

After the position switch of Ryan Cook, Minnesota now lacks depth at tackle. Also, Antoine Winfield appears to be the only intimidating corner in the secondary; but after a 90 tackle season by Cedric Griffin I think the Vikings will pass on a corner, hoping that 2008 was indication of Griffin’s progression.

If the Vikings select a tackle, either Eben Britton (Arizona) or Max Unger (Oregon) seems to be the choice. I’m not a fan of drafting linemen in the first round, but based on the quarterback I’m suggesting for Minnesota, picking Britton or Unger will be a good choice.

At 6’6″ 309 pounds, Britton offers a solid frame to anchor the Vikings right side of the line.

Unger is no slouch either at 6’4″ 309 pounds. He brings a little more to the table than Britton due to his ability to play all five positions on the offensive line. If the Vikings are looking for a tackle, either pick would be fine.

The moment has arrived though, so lets head to our seats and be quiet as Commissioner Roger Goodell heads to the podium.

With the 54th pick in the 2009 Draft the Minnesota Vikings should select: Curtis Painter

I have already made the argument for Painter in earlier posts. In short he is a big quarterback, extremely accurate and does not turn the ball over.

Sounds like everything the Vikings don’t have.

If by the grace of god the Vikings land McNabb, then the situation changes completely. Draft a quarterback in the much later rounds, either 5th or 6th.

It’s safe to say though that McNabb won’t be in Minneapolis any time soon, so the Vikings should go ahead and draft Curtis Painter.

Curtis Painter's ability to throw the ball accurately and efficiently will help improve the Vikings offense. After a poor senior year Painter will be overlooked, making him available to the Vikings in the second or third round.

On the clock: Tampa Bay

-Nate

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With the First Pick in the NFL Draft, the Detroit Lions select..

Posted by Nathan Atkins on March 6, 2009

The 63 237 pound Georgia quarterback threw for more than 3,000 yards and 20 touchdowns in 2008

The 6'3" 237 pound Georgia quarterback threw for more than 3,000 yards and 20 touchdowns in 2008.

Matthew Stafford.

Come on! We’re you surprised?

Since the Capital One Bowl game ended on January 1st, every analyst from Bristol to Los Angeles had crowned Matt Stafford the next Detroit Lions quarterback. And because of their assumptions and crystal balling we have all grown impatient.

As Carly Simon sang,

“anticipation, its making me late, keeping me waiting”

How much longer can we wait for Matthew Stafford to get to Detroit? Well, technically, another month and twenty days.

Even Stafford is growing impatient, and his impatience has clearly affected his judgment and decision making.

In a February interview with Sports Illustrated, Matt Stafford proclaimed that he would love to play in Detroit. He followed up that absurd statement by saying that he believed Detroit was the best place for him to start a career. Now I could give you facts about Detroit’s lack of personnel on offense, the tremendous amount of sacks allowed by their offensive line or that their offense ranked close to last in almost every category.

BUT!

Here is all you need to know about Detroit and why Stafford’s statement is ludicrous:

In 2008 the Lions went 0-16. Never has such a feat been accomplished in the NFL’s existence.

If I was Head Coach Jim Schwartz and I heard Stafford’s comments, I would take Mark Sanchez with the first pick instead. Not because he’s better, but because he hasn’t said anything stupid lately.

Stafford also goes on to say that it is his competitive nature that drives him to want to play in Detroit:

I’m being completely honest, and it has nothing to do with money-I would love to go to Detroit,” Stafford said in the Sports Illustrated story. “My friends say, ‘C’mon, gimme a break.’ But I’m a competitive guy. The Lions have passionate fans, a great stadium, and I’d be throwing to the biggest freak (Calvin Johnson), with the most talent, of any receiver in the NFL.”

Detroit lost a record 16 games in 2008. Their 16 loss was the first in the NFLs 88 year history

Detroit lost an NFL record 16 games in 2008.

Matthew, maybe your friends don’t want you to go to Detroit because they are the worst team in the NFL?

Also referring to your future receiver as ‘the biggest freak’ might not go over too well. He tried valiantly to balance the statement by saying he has more talent than any other receiver in the NFL, while this is very kind of you to say Matthew, have you lost your mind?!

Does young Stafford fail to realize that there are three Hall of Fame receivers in the league right now?

To end all speculation I’m talking about Marvin Harrison, Terrell Owens and Randy Moss.  Calvin Johnson is truly talented, but 2008 was his first season over 1,000 yards, lets not crown him king yet.

All kidding aside, I think Matthew Stafford is the best choice with the number one pick. Stupid comments or not.

Especially if you’re the Detroit Lions whose  team resembled a Pop Warner squad in 2008; after trying out five different quarterbacks and allowing them to get sacked 52 times last year; you’re now left with either Stafford, or an open tryout to any and all people with quarterback experience. (I’d take Matthew Stafford)

I can understand why Stafford is salivating over the opportunity to throw to Calvin Johnson; at Georgia, the 6 foot 3 inch Texas native never had an elite receiver. In his last year at Georgia, Stafford was able to play along side freshman sensation A.J. Green. The Summerville, S.C. phenom caught 56 passes for 963 yards and 8 touchdowns. But before he got to Georgia, A.J. Green was a local celebrity, known for this insane catch:

Stafford’s other receiver though, Mohamed Massaquoi, was blessed with a glorious ability to underachieve.

After a freshman campaign of 38 receptions for 505 yards Massaquoi never got close to those numbers again. Until this year when he had 58 receptions for 920 yards and 8 touchdowns.

After throwing to Massaquoi for three years I now understand why Calvin Johnson would look like Captain Marvel to Stafford.

Physically Stafford has the size of a pro quarterback at 6’3″ 237 pounds. Along with his prototypical stature, scouts have also said that Stafford has the strongest arm in the draft.

Statistically he is solid as well: 61.4 completion percentage, 3459 yards 25 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.

In just three years at Georgia, Stafford has thrown for 7731 yards, 51 touchdowns and 33 interceptions.

Stafford is the best quarterback in the 2009 draft, questions of consistency and decision making may hurt his draft status; but physically he has the tools to be this years first pick

Stafford is the best quarterback in the 2009 draft. Questions of consistency and decision making may hurt his draft status; but physically he has the tools to be this year's first pick.

As a starter he is 17-4, and he has been team Captain since his sophomore year.

I criticized Matt Stafford for his comments in that February SI interview, saying he believed Detroit was the best place to start his career was foolish. It was in jest that I criticized his decision making, but in reality decision making is an area Matt Stafford struggles with.

On the field he makes poor decisions.

Each player has their strengths and weaknesses, decision making is not one of Stafford’s strengths.

In big games when the pressure on Stafford has a tendency to do two things:

Valiantly lead his team down the field for the score and the win, or choke and turn the ball over.

Matt Stafford is the definition of “Go Big or Go Home” and in the last two years he has done both.

Last year as a sophomore Stafford was instrumental in a 42-30 win against Florida he threw for 217 yards, 3 touchdowns and 1 interception. Three weeks later against Kentucky, he threw for 99 yards,  0 touchdowns and 2 interceptions in a too close for comfort 24-13 victory.

Inconsistency continued to plague him his junior year as well.

This year against LSU, Matt Stafford threw for 249 yards, 2 touchdowns and 0 interceptions. His Bulldogs won easily, 52-38. A month earlier against South Carolina though Stafford threw for 146 yards, 0 touchdowns and 0 interceptions making the game closer than it needed to be. Georgia luckily prevailed 14-7.

His inconsistency and decision making are the only knocks against him. Both can be improved over time; he is only a junior and has declared a year early. I think Stafford is a project quarterback. I say that in the sense that it I believe it will take him two or three years to become acclimated with the pace of the NFL.

Due to his inconsistency it would not surprise me if Stafford thew 15+ interceptions his rookie or even sophomore year in the NFL. But,Detroit fans don’t hate him when he throws a lot of interceptions, for good things come to those who wait.

Also, for all the Lions faithful out there he is not Matt Ryan. Please don’t expect him to be. Each year analysts try to figure out which one of this year’s players is last year’s so and so. But realize that there is only one Matt Ryan, and only one Joe Flacco. Therefore there is also only one Matt Stafford.

The only thing Stafford and Ryan have in common is a first name.

Matthew Stafford may not be the most complete and polished quarterback in the draft but his potential seems to be great. His size combined with his cannon of an arm gives him everything he needs to not only be the first quarterback taken in the draft, but the first player as well.

With the first pick in the 2009 NFL Draft, the Detroit Lions should select: Matthew Stafford, quarterback, University of Georgia

On the clock: Minnesota

-Nate

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