Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Blog is Back...The Tebow Edition by MP

Well yes I am alive and the blog is comin back baby!!! I will be running it solo as VC is on hiatus. Not quite sure what happened with Ole VC....maybe I took one too many potshots at his beloved Wildcats??? Maybe he wrenched his writing fingers gripping a 5 iron off the tee in stiff wind....who knows? But I am back and I have some stuff to say!

This is called the Tebow Edition and I have some thoughts about all of this hub-bub. Matter of fact have you ever witnessed anything quite like this whole love affair with this kid? Check it, bottom line and this is my point throughout: EVALUATE football players based on what they do on the field and leave it at that!

Ultimately Tim Tebow is a good kid and I feel kinda sorry for him. He didn't ask for a lot of this hype. But in my opinion whether I believe in the same things or whether I believe in Mickey Mouse, as a player or professionally, no one would know it. I think there are a lot of players/people like this. They go about their business and are evaluated as the players or employees they are.
Anyone recall Mahmoud Abdul Rauf who was hammered for not observing the National Anthem due to Muslim beliefs? Hey who cares I always thought he was a hell of a player....especially as Chris Jackson at LSU.

What about Muhammad Ali and the whole draft dodging deal? Again, not popular with the masses who didn't agree with him. Conversly,the masses support what Tebow believes in. I say who cares!

John Fox and John Elway were boxed in. No moves to make except what they did. Kyle Orton who by all accounts outplayed Tebow in camp, was off to a horrible start and the Donkeys were losing games hand over fist. The crowd was crying out for a change. What could they do?? Heck Tebow at the early point was listed third behind Brady Quinn on the depth chart. So they make the move, the Team gets behind him and they back into the playoffs. They don't make the move and both probably get fired. They start Tebow and don't do well, they simply say....hey he is young.
Please do not forget that they in fact backed into the playoffs! My lowly Chiefs, who had maybe the weirdest year ever, beat Denver IN Denver the last game of the regular season. Only a loss by Oakland saved Denver.

Did Tebow play well throughout the run and into the playoffs? Well fairly well. The first game in KC he threw the ball twice....yes 2 times. He was helped in Chicago greatly by Marion Barber not staying in bounds to run out the clock. He made a great throw against the Steelers in the playoffs to win....who knows why the Steelers brought the Safety up to the line of scrimmage.

Long story short, Tebow is a good kid. He did some good things on the field. My plea to the masses: Please leave it at that. News sources: Please give the proper run to Brady and Rodgers and all the other GREAT players in the sport. Fans: it's great to believe in something but whether someone agrees with your beliefs or not, let's talk about play on the field. Play on the field keeps it objective. You can debate numbers and wins and losses. Forget about saying so and so loses but does this or that off the field so that makes him better?? Give Tebow his due for his leadership, his late game play, and results. Still his year did not even approach that of Rodgers or Brees or Brady....but who did you hear the most about this football year??

Hey a little around the horn.....I am writing this as the Patriots and Ravens are locked in at 10-10. I have NE here and San Fran tonight. Do you ever recall a tougher two Championship games to pick? It took me a long time to choose the favorites and I still am not sure. Early takes on some BBall.....I like the Jayhawks this year. I think lack of depth and talent can be a good thing.....I think Bill Self does better with less and struggles sometimes with too much talent. Watch out for the Hawks!!! MU looks good too....great win yesterday at Baylor. Baylor could not figure out how to use their size, but great credit to the Tigers. Phil Pressey and Ricardo Ratliff were awesome! I can't wait til Feb 4 when the Hawks square off with MU in will be a GREAT ONE! NBA is off and lots of back to backs and lots of tired legs. OKC Thunder playing great....3 losses so far!! Go Thunder. Don't hammer me too much on the Tebow stuff.....and it is GREAT to be back blogging!!!

Monday, May 30, 2011


The night before the NBA finals! Time flies and summer is here! Memorial Day weekend....what a great weekend. Too bad the NBA semis didn't go the distance. That was the only thing missing from this weekend....some hoop!

So who do you like? Let's run down a quick recap first. The Heat made it through to the Finals surviving a terrible start and more fanfare and hype than one could handle. They faced off against the Bulls led by league MVP Derrick Rose. The West finalists are the dark horse Dallas Mavericks who shocked the elderly Lakers and destroyed the youth of the OKC Thunder to advance.

I thought very similar semi-finals or conference finals. The Bulls and Thunder were too young and inexperienced to handle the Heat or Mavs. The Bulls outside of some help from Luol Deng offered nothing to help Rose. Carlos Boozer, like most Dukies, turned into a total bust. Way overpaid and provided toughness when needed in the the Playoffs. The Bulls won the first game....then lost 4 straight, while leading by as many as 13 with 3 to play in Game 5. LeBron and D Wade turned it up and absolutely put the locks on Rose. I have never seen a guy at 6'8" D up a small, explosive guy like Rose in my life. Total lockdown defense down the stretch.

You know I am a Thunder fan. Well they pulled the same deal...losing in 5 to the Mavs and losing several games with a commanding lead late. Much of the talk centered around the poor play of Russell Westbrook, the young 2nd Team All NBA guard for OKC. Well I think he played exactly as you would have thought a young guy would play in the playoffs....young and unproven. Kevin Durant the better of the OKC tandem scored well....but I would argue played just as green. In the series biggest game, Game 4, after having a double digit lead they squandered it and wound up going to OT and losing. The final play in regulation, Durant shoots it from 35 with plenty of time to get a better shot. Much like Rose, Durant was locked down for the critical part of the series by Shawn "the Matrix" Marion.

The Playoffs folks is a whole different ballgame than the regular season. You cannot shoot fadeaways or be scared of contact. The officiating changes, the tempo changes, it is night and day between the Playoffs and regular season. I have to admit that in the last 5 years I primarily only watch the NBA in the playoffs. People said that would happen....I guess they were right and why I am reluctant to admit it. So back to my original question. Who ya got winning it??

I have to take Miami. Chris Bosh has been touted as one of the Big 3 with James and Wade. Let's be honest, he is not a top 25 NBA player, but like the Bulls series with hapless defense against him, could be a factor. Wade is a tried and true NBA hall of famer and will no doubt play great. James has a tendency to tighten up under pressure, and while I am not the biggest fan of his, I have to acknowledge his ability and with Wade and Bosh, Miami has the most talent. Not to sell Dallas too short as they have a top 3 shooter in NBA history with Dirk. Dirk Nowitzki is unbelievable and another HOF'er. The game against OKC where combining free throws he hit 36 of 39 shots is ridiculous. You cannot do that in your driveway....let alone being on one of the biggest stages in the world! The Mavs have Jason "the Jet" Terry, a venerable scoring guard who can light it up. They also have 39 year old Jason Kidd and again an aging Shawn Marion in there too. Sorry Dallas fans but I think the Heat win the deal and I think I will be pulling against them.

Let's pull for a great series and hope for some spectacular stuff. Heading into next year I hope the Bulls and Thunder are back. The biggest disappointment is that I would have tried to go to the Finals and get some nose-bleeders if the Thunder made it. When am I going to ever get a better chance to go to the Finals??

Other notes and thoughts.....thanks for reading about the NBA....I know most of my peeps reading this couldn't care less! Let's all think about Joplin MO on this Memorial Day weekend. Life is short and I just cannot stop thinking about those poor folks and that total devastation there! Let's also think of our loved ones. I have a sick Uncle and my thoughts are certainly with him....everyone take a moment to think of the people that matter most!! What are your thoughts on the NFL....mine are simple....figure out how to cut up BILLIONS and try not to make us lose any games. Prediction: we lose games. Baseball....well Albert will not keep hitting .265 for long....about the same length of time Berkman will continue to hit .355 :) Royals?? Pretty good start....but now have begun the thing they call my Drive in Golf.....THE BIG FADE! See ya Royals....GOLF: no Tiger? No problem for me....let's keep checkin these youngsters out....some great talent on the horizon on the tour. Thanks for reading everyone.....I really appreciate it!!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Time to MP

Heading into the Final Four we have a 3 seed, a 4, an 8 and 11. Wow! Who picked VCU, Butler, UConn and Kentucky? I know in my pool we have 3 of 129 with a chance at picking a winner and that is UConn. If Connecticut loses there are 0/129 who would have the winner. Needless to say I am long gone in that pool...and now long out of it from an interest standpoint as well.

I hope some of you read my NCAA preview a few weeks back. I called that there would be no 1 or 2 seeds in the Final Four. What can I say....I was due for a correct pick after about a dozen consecutive misses. A couple of things to leave you with relative to this tournament:

Butler may be the best story in NCAA basketball history. Yes, better than the '83 NC State Cinderellas and better than the '85 Villanova story. True that those teams won the title, but the Butler story is ridiculous! I am talking the story combining last year and this year of course...the final game last year, losing a tight one with a 45 foot shot that nearly falls to Duke, and then this year going to the Final Four as an 8 seed. Several pundits say that heading into the last stretch of the year, Butler was firmly on the bubble of getting in at all. They lost Gordon Hayward from last years team to the NBA, certainly a rare feat having a pro from a school the size of Butler (enrollment 4200 and smaller than Ozarks Technical Community College). Their young but cool Coach Brad Stevens may get carded buying lotto tickets, but calmly directed the Bulldogs to wins over the likes of Pitt, Wisconsin and Florida. Butler is from the Horizon League. Not the Big East or any other power conference. I may be crazy but it will be a long time before you see a team the size of Butler ever repeat their success in the NCAA tournament. Take for instance the talent and program like Kansas has. The Jayhawks with all of the advantages cannot get to the final game to the final four in consecutive years. And that leads me to my last thought of the 2011 NCAA Tourney:

Something has to change at the University of Kansas with the hoops program. I like Bill Self, but you simply cannot lose in the tourney to the likes in years past of Bradley, Bucknell, Northern Iowa, and this year Virginia Commonwealth. I know they won it all in 2008, but if you recall that year they almost got beat by Davidson. Speaking of '08....their road to the final four: a 16 seed, an 8, 12 and 10. They hit a shot against a good Memphis team...but my point is, if you are perennial powerhouse....what is the expectation? Is it to win 90 percent of your games and fold in the tourney? If so, let's stay the course. I have to admit that I am glad this year is over. I was embarrassed all year of the Hawks behavior and attitude on the floor. I almost had to dodge all my buddies that are MU and KSU fans because what could I say about the Morris twins and their cheap shots every game? I have to ask why Bill did not address that immediately and correct the behavior? I even recall one instance in a game following the Cal game that it happened, they got a tech, and he didn't even bench the one who threw the blatant elbow! I am done with the Morris twins and this whole outfit....take Tyshawn Taylor too. If it were me, I may be shopping for someone who runs a respectable team and instills courage in his team. It seems to me, when the going gets tough, the Hawks go fishing. Beyond the tournament choke job this year, look at what Coach did with Mario Little. Nothing. Little really contributed nothing. Josh Selby lost all confidence being benched for every turnover. If Self benched people for turnovers, how did Taylor play the minutes he did? You can congratulate VCU and say they played well and shot it lights out...but if we cannot win that game against that opponent??? Speaking of Coaches who run a nice program, who instills courage in his people and perform under pressure....please see previous paragraph. Is Brad Stevens available?

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Tourney reminds VC of 1988, 2008

And then there were eight.

The Elite Eight, excuse me.

My bracket for the office pool, like millions of others across the country, took a hit especially in the Southeast and Southwest Regions. But my championship teams are still in tact - Kentucky and Kansas with Kentucky to cut down the nets in a few days in Houston. Patterson will tell you I picked Kentucky just because I have a love fest for teams named Wildcats. There's some truth to that, but in my 25 years of heading up an office pool I've always picked a longshot to win it all. Only once has a longshot won me anything, though.

Perhaps this is the year!

This tournament is reminding me more and more of 1988 and 2008 when the Jayhawks soared to championship heights. 1988, all the big boys lost in KU's path to a Midwest Regional championship date against Lon Kruger's K-State Wildcats. That pitted the Big Eight rivals against each other for the fourth time that year. KU won that game at Pontiac, Mich., to give KU a 2-2 split against K-State as each won on the opposing team's home floor and K-State won in the Big Eight Tournament.

KU then advanced to the Final Four that year at Kansas City's Kemper Arena. There, KU beat Duke then met up with Billy Tubbs' Oklahoma Sooners in the title game. KU and OU slugged it out like two heavyweights in a 50-50 halftime score in the 50th NCAA Championship game. Coach Larry Brown rolled up his sleeves at halftime and told Danny Manning, Chris Piper and the rest of the KU players it was time to play KU ball in the second half.

KU won which set up wild celebration scenes on the Plaza, Westport, Massachusetts Street in Lawrence and anywhere else where KU fans could gather.

Fast-forward to 2008. KU's road to San Antonio featured wins over a 16 seed, eight, 12 and 10. I think you probably know by now KU won the crown thanks to some Mario guy in the title game against Memphis.

Now it's 2011 and who's KU beaten in the first three rounds? A 16 seed, nine and 12 seed. Sunday, they meet 11th seeded Virginia Commonwealth in the Southwest Regional finals.

If KU wins Sunday, the Jayhawks will join Michigan State (2001) and North Carolina (1991) as the only schools to get that far without having to beat a higher seed than nine.

In case you weren't paying attention, did you notice the 10-year intervals above?

"When you're in the business long enough you're going to have things like that crop up," KU coach Bill Self told The Associated Press. "But I haven't thought about the (similarities) at all."

Self, prior to Friday's game against Richmond, pointed out that 12th seeded Davidson in 2008 came down to the last possession before KU won that Elite Eight game. Self mentioned it was the toughest tourney game for KU that year apart from the Memphis game.

"The field here is strong," Self told The AP. "It may not appear from a seeding standpoint to be as strong as 1, 2, 3 and 4 that are left, but I guarantee that there will be nobody that will be looking forward to playing anybody in this field right now."

KU will be playing in its 20th Elite Eight, only Kentucky (33), North Carolina (25) and UCLA (22) have appeared in more Elite Eights. K-State, a 2010 Elite Eighter, has taken part in a dozen of them over the years.

If KU is not playing for the national championship on April 4, I will be shocked. Clearly North Carolina and Kentucky have a tougher road than KU. Butler or Florida will await Kansas in the national semis assuming KU takes care of VCU which I am on record now of predicting an 82-60 Kansas win.

I'm not going to back off now. I'm still picking UK to beat KU in the final. UK may have all of those freshmen, but there's something about Kentucky I like. Plus, I'm due to win our office pool.

Around the Horn: As a K-State fan I was looking forward to college baseball. But my Bat Cats are off to an 0-4 start in Big 12 play after Friday's 5-4 loss at Baylor. The Wildcats started the year great, but are currently 12-8 overall. Kansas, which dropped a 10-inning 2-1 game Friday at A&M, is 10-11 overall, 2-2 in the conference.

Emporia State is off to a red-hot 18-1 start, including a lofty 14-0 log in the MIAA.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

VC: we're just hours from Selection Sunday!

They say we lose an hour of sleep tonight as we move our clocks forward one hour when we go to bed. Not me, I'll wake up tomorrow morning refreshed like I feel most mornings. In fact, tomorrow I may have a little more giddy-up in my step.

At 5 p.m. Central Sunday, college basketball's version of Christmas reveals the field of 68. Months of hearing RPI, quality wins, bad losses, strength of schedule are brought to a forefront. Last four in, first four out, next four out are officially determined as to who gets to dance and who gets relevated to the NIT.

I can remember the days when only 32 teams danced and NBC had the television rites to the NCAA Tournament. Now, there are 68 teams which require four play-in games to get the field to 64 and CBS now has to share some games with TBS and TNT. Finally, the tournament is getting it right. I never have understood why teams like Bucknell, Manhattan and Rider had to take part in the play-in games when they won their conference tournaments and teams like Michigan State and Clemson from a power conference and one of the last at-large teams in got slotted 11. I've always said let the last at-large teams have to duke it out and let them play a 1 seed if they won the at-large game.

Thank you for listening NCAA!

So four play-in games will be contested in Dayton, Ohio on Tuesday and Wednesday. This leads me to another gripe I have. Why not play the four play-in games at sites where the winner will play their next game? That way they don't have to travel, they're already there. But oh well, guess that's an argument for a future blog.

When the field is announced Sunday, look for Ohio State to be the overall No. 1 seed. Now the real question...where will the committee place the Buckeyes? The four regions are East, Southeast, Southwest and West. I look for a Big East team - Pitt or Notre Dame - to be the top dog in the East Regional. Kansas, I think, will be No. 1 in the Southwest. I think Duke will be the top choice in the Southeast which leaves Ohio State going west young man, haven't you been told, California's full of whiskey, women and gold. Oh sorry, just heard Toby Keith on the radio and got side-tracked.

Seems odd Ohio State would go west, but I'm not sure what else the committee can do.

Kansas deserves the Southwest Regional. KU's first two games should be played in Tulsa, Okla., thanks to the pod system the NCAA uses to put the top teams as close to home as possible in the opening rounds. San Antonio should greet the huge KU contingent for the regional semifinals and finals. As long as KU keeps winning, the short drive from San Anton to Houston will be KU's final leg of the national championship pursuit.

No matter what happens in tonight's Big XII championship game, KU is a 1 seed.

I think Texas has solidified its justification for a 2 seed and I envision the Longhorns going to the Southeast Regional. My other 2 seeds are San Diego State or BYU out West, North Carolina in the East and a Big East team in the Southwest.

The Big XII deserves six teams and I'm not sure how Colorado, which in my mind secured its spot with its win over Iowa State on Wednesday, all of a sudden appeared on Joe Lunardi's "Last four in" group after losing Friday to Kansas. Lunardi has the Buffaloes as an 11 seed which is the sign of being one of the last teams in. How? Colorado beat my Wildcats three times as well as Texas and should have beaten Texas A&M were it not for a desperation last-second shot from 30 feet!

The Buffs, in my opinion, are a 9 seed. I think the committee, in the spirit of Colorado joining the Pac-12 next year, will put the Buffs out West which means a possible second-round game against Ohio State. Wow, how much fun could that be and if Alec Burks and Corey Higgins are on, this has possible upset written all over it.

Texas A&M is looking at a 5 seed somewhere, possibly East. Missouri, I'm forecasting a 7 spot for the Tigers out west.

Lastly, K-State which was hot until it stepped foot in Sprint Center. I texted coach Frank Martin yesterday that he should not play any more games in Sprint Center for awhile. The last two games there? Losses to UNLV and Colorado.

The Wildcats are a 7 seed in the East Regional. Because they lost their Big XII Tournament opener to Colorado, I think the Cats played themselves out of a first-round date in Tulsa. Look for K-State to play in Cleveland in their opener. I'd like to think K-State may still go to Denver for the first two games, but Colorado's three wins in head-to-head matchups may trump that.

It will be a fun tournament. And for the 26th consecutive year, I'm heading up an office pool. My two-dollar charge is the same it was in 1986 when I headed up a small pool at The Manhattan Mercury. Message me on Facebook if you're interested in taking part or send me a message below. Cutoff is tipoff in the Tuesday play-in games.

Finally, our prayers go out to the Wes Leonard family from Fennville, Mich. Wes was buried this week after going into cardiac arrest from an enlarged heart. Just moments earlier he had made the winning basket for his high school basketball team as they capped a perfect regular season. Wes grew up in Baldwin City before his family moved to Michigan. Wes still has family in the Sunflower State.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

It is March Madness time! Certainly the best time of the year for hoops fans and maybe the greatest event of the year period. Time to fill out those brackets, get in your office pools and take a shot in the dark at who the winner will be.

Sorry the blog has been out of commission, this thing called work is an absolute killer! Who thought of requiring it? Speaking of shots in the dark, my prediction is that this year like none other will truly be a tourney of upsets and long shots.

Right now the Big 12 Tourney is just beginning at the Sprint Center in KC, so it is difficult to pick winners in the Big Dance without pairings announced or conference tourneys complete.

Ohio State seems to me to be the overall best team in the country. The Big Ten was a little better this year and the Buckeyes have a legit big guy with several wing players that can fill it up. They play solid D and have been consistent all year long. I think the clear cut top seeds are Ohio State, Kansas, Pittsburgh and Duke. Some have Notre Dame as a 1, but you can attribute that to more love of the Big East than a valid argument.

All of those 4 are certainly beatable. Kansas has lost 2 games so far this season, but even as a loyal KU fan, I have to say we are the least formidable and most inconsistent we have been in the last 3 or 4 years going into the tournament. Duke is tough as usual but lacks a go-to guy and without Kyrie Irving, I can easily see them losing to someone who is on a streak that plays tough defense. Pittsburgh can look really good but sometimes cannot score to save their lives. The Irish have a couple of good offensive players but again, are part of the Big East love affair.

The reason I knock the Big East? All year headlines have been dominated by the Big East and them getting 11 in the tourney. I have seen a good bit this year and see very evenly matched, less than spectacular teams. Time will tell, but Pitt and maybe West Virginia are the teams I see going the furthest from that conference. St. John's the darlings in February, hung on to beat Rutgers of all teams on a horrific call today. I guess that makes Rutgers a world beater??

So who in the heck are the dark horses? It is easy to talk about who won't win. The answer is....I am not sure. Once the pairings are announced I will try to get out predictions. I will predict no top seeds make the Final Four and no 2 seeds either! Here are some that I like so far, prior to my own Bracketology taking place. Maybe not too dark a horse, but I do like Wisconsin some as maybe a 3 or 4 seed. I think Kansas State could be scary if they play as they have of late, much more like last year at maybe an 8 or 9 seed. West Virginia at a 6 or 7 seed will be dangerous. Michigan State if they make the field could come alive. Never underestimate Tom Izzo!

More to come folks! Stay tuned and get ready....the Big Dance is here!

Around the horn......I am worn thin on the Miami Heat. When is LeBron going to actually earn the acclaim as the Chosen One? Do you not have to play in the 4th Quarter to earn that title? Carmelo to the Knicks is big and makes them a factor in the East for sure. Almost time for Golf to get in full swing. Will Tiger rebound this year?? I look forward to hoping that he doesn't while rooting for Phil to keep the ball out of the water. Spring training time....what is the over/under on Royals losses? I have it at 110. Sorry all but an outfield of Melky Cabrera, Jeff Francoeur and Alex Gordon is not going to mark our return to average. Neither is dealing Zack for a bunch of spares! Thanks for reading everyone!!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Twas the Night Before Super Bowl.....

Here is to the hope for a great game tomorrow!

After all of these years and regardless of favorite teams getting to the game or not, I am still super excited for the big game. It took a bit for me to gather my thoughts and be able to call my shot for the winner. After all you have two teams evenly matched, great defense and great offense. Do you go with the Pack who overcame 15 players on IR this year or the vaunted Steelers who ran the gauntlet of tough teams in the AFC to make it all the way to the Big D. Vegas, who I have mentioned many times as the best way to pick a game, has the Pack as a 3 point favorite. That makes the choice even harder as I cannot understand them as faves. Green Bay is a 6 seed who beat the likes of Philly, Atlanta and Chicago. Pittsburgh on the other hand beat Baltimore and the hated but formidable Jets. I really like Aaron Rodgers as a tough QB and certainly one for the future. Their D is tough with Clay Matthews, Charles Woodson and a great defensive backfield. The Steelers are no slouch on the other side with James Harrison, Lamarr Woodley, and defensive Player of the Year Troy Palamalu.

Speaking of Palamalu and awards, was he really the Defensive POY? I kinda felt that was a lifetime achievement award type of deal. Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers to me were the choices, but Palamalu is still great. Coach of the Year goes Bill Belichick? Another head scratcher as Mike McCarthy of the Packers gets a 6 seed team to the Bowl with 15 key guys out for the year! Unreal how much the NFL loves Belichick and the Pats.

All said and done I cannot pick against Big Ben and the Steelers. I mentioned the D earlier, but expect Big Ben to lead a balanced attack with Rashard Mendenhall and other weapons like Hines Ward, Heath Miller and Mike Wallace all the way to the promised land. Much has been made of their starting Center Maurkice Pouncey being out, but that won't help Green Bay tackle Roethlisberger. He will win his third Super Bowl and soon be mentioned in the same breath as any of the all-time greats.

So there is my shot. Go Steelers and if you want another tip, take the over in the game which I think is 44.5 points. My final score: Pittsburgh 34 Green Bay 24.

Around the Horn: I want to be excited for college hoop, but I have not been able to get deep into it like every other year in my life. What is causing that? It seems to me to be lack of really good teams and matchups. I think my Jayhawks still have potential to be great, but as the season wears on, I feel like they also have a chance to be knocked out by someone like Bradley, Bucknell or UNI! I know everyone is in love with the Big East, and they are definitely the toughest conference top to bottom, but I agree with Jay Bilas who said the top 3 in the Big 12 are better than the top 3 in the Big East. To me this seems like the year that a true underdog wins the whole deal. Ohio State is beatable, Duke is too....certainly Kansas and the big dogs back east are, so watch out...UPSET SPECIALS in this years March Madness are on the way!! One last note on the Jayhawks. Get Tyshawn Taylor to the bench, Bill! Same with Mario Little. Play Reed, Morningstar, Selby, Marcus Morris, Robinson and Reliford. That is your best bet to win! Those other guys are good for poor attitude and turnovers! That is about all folks....come on Spring and thanks for reading everyone!!

Friday, January 28, 2011

VC: Happy 150th Sunflower State!

Happy Birthday, Sunflower State!

Make that, Happy 150th! And I bet I know how you're going to celebrate! Yep, I heard there was going to be a party Saturday night. Last I heard only 16,300 invitations were mailed. Unfortunately, the guest list only includes the fans of the Crimson and Blue.

But it is fitting that Kansas and Kansas State renew its storied basketball rivalry in the building that has seen many classic battles in its seven decades of housing Jayhawk basketball. Allen Fieldhouse will be the site of Saturday's 6 p.m. matchup that has lost some of its luster since K-State is off to a 2-4 start in Big XII Conference play. Yet when two rivals square off, you never know what will materialize.

My first KU-KSU memory was staged in the Phog. Ed Nealy, a protege Jack Hartman-type player from Bonner Springs, calmly stepped to the free-throw line with one second left and KU leading K-State by a point. With arms waving behind the basket, Nealy ripped the cords on both charity tosses to send the Wildcats home with a victory.

Tomorrow's game probably won't be decided with one second left. In fact, I've already paid off a bet to a KU buddy of mine. I fully expect KU to win tomorrow and again in Manhattan on Valentine's Day. KU is the better team, although the gap is narrowing between the two programs. Hey, I remember a 90-45 shellacking in this series just a few years ago.

For the first time since 1991, the Sunflower Showdown will be played on Kansas Day. Add the Sesquicentennial to the mix as well as the ESPN College GameDay crew and you have yourself a Kansas-type party in the making.

"That was on purpose," Big XII senior associate commissioner Tim Allen told The Wichita Eagle on Friday. "Having the game that day for Kansas Day was a very natural, easy, yea-let's-do-that fit. Everyone was excited about it."

Allen should know. He grew up in Chanute and graduated from K-State before taking a job in the Big Eight Conference office when it was located in downtown Kansas City, Mo.

Allen was one of the Big XII officials who pushed for ESPN to send its GameDay show to take part in the Kansas Day festivities. GameDay's first segment is at 9 a.m. Central Saturday.

ESPN, according to The Wichita Eagle, informed the Big XII it wanted to broadcast two games in its marquee, primetime Saturday slot. ESPN said it wanted those games to take place in Lawrence and Waco.

When the league schedule was announced and Jan. 29 fell on a Saturday, the league recommended KU-KSU. ESPN gave its blessing for KU-KSU in addition to another primetime game tomorrow with Texas at Baylor.

Also, the KU-KSU women play at 2 p.m. Saturday at Bramlage Coliseum.

"When we found out the dates, we said this is the day we want," Allen told The Wichita Eagle, "because it means something special to the state. It was one of those things that was on our radar, and then it all fell into place."

ESPN director of programming and acquisitions Nick Dawson told The Wichita Eagle that ESPN tries its best to oblige requests from a conference like the Big XII.

"It may be hard to grab national viewers just because of something like that, but that was certainly a factor in why the Kansas-Kansas State game is on the date that it is," Dawson said.

Monday, January 10, 2011

VC looks back at Tyrel Reed's road from Eureka to KU!

Ten years ago next month, a 6th grader from Eureka literally carried his basketball team to the Woodson Masonic Lodge #121 4th-5th-6th Grade Basketball Championship at nearby Toronto, Kan.

9/11 was still seven months away, but Tyrel Reed assaulted the record books of this tournament that has taken place for area boys teams since 1984. Records that I'm sure will never be broken again.

A few years ago before kids in our household, I assembled some of the Lodge tournament scorebooks and compiled some individual stats. It is mind-boggling to fathom what Tyrel accomplished as a 5th and 6th grader. These are just a few of the records he still holds:

1) single-season scoring leader (67 points). Second place is 41;
2) most field goals made in 3-game tourney (23);
3) single-game scoring leader (25);
4) most 3-pointers in tournament (8) and game (3);
5) most field goals in game (9).

And if that's not enough, how about an 87-percent free throw shooter in a tourney (13-for-15).

"One of the main things that I remember is how we had such a hard time getting enough kids in his class to play," said Tyrel's biggest fan, his Dad, Stacy. "So we recruited some younger kids such as the Hayes boy who I think was in 4th grade to play."

Eureka, which won the title that year, scored 82 points as a team in the three games. Tyrel poured in 67 of them. In Eureka's first game that tourney, Tyrel bucketed 24 of his team's 26 points.

"Probably my fondest memory is how Ty wanted everyone on the team to touch the ball and at least put up a shot attempt during the games," said Stacy, who at the time was the coach at Eureka High. "Along with that I do remember how proud those kids were when they won the tournament."

"In the more than 25 years that we have held the Masonic Basketball Tournament, we have had a number of very good young athletes who went on to have extremely good high school and college careers," Tournament organizer Jeff Sowder, a Past Grand Master of Kansas Masons, said. "Tyrel was by far the best of them all."

"Ty was a kid that was highly competitive, but loved to make his buddies happy," Stacy said. "From the standpoint of these were his classmates and he was around them every day, he truly wanted them to have some success."

Sowder distinctly remembers two particular plays that stand out even 10 years later.

"The first Tyrel was dribbling the ball outside the top of the circle as time was running down at the end of the first half," he said. "With just a few seconds remaining, he quickly took a couple of dribbles to the foul line as his defender closely guarded him - then quickly stepped back to just outside the 3-point line and calmly sank a 3-pointer as the buzzer went off."

There was more.

"Tyrel was dribbling full speed down the right side of the court," Sowder continued. "There were two defenders between him and the basket. At the right foul line elbow, he split the defenders - switched the ball to his left hand - took one more dribble and laid the ball off the backboard with his left hand and into the basket."

Jeff, Tom Hibbard and I - who have comprised the 3-man officiating crew for 20 years - couldn't believe what we had just seen.

"While we had all seen this play at the college and professional level, our jaws dropped as we had just seen this done by a 6th grader," Sowder said.

Ty, who was born in Eureka, and his family moved to Burlington a year later. Stacy took the boys basketball job at Burlington. Things now really took off for the Reed family.

Tyrel played MAYB ball until the end of his freshman year when he moved on to AAU ball the remainder of his high school career.

"Ty excelled at athletics at an early age," Stacy remembered, "but I would say when he started 7th grade I thought he had a chance to play basketball somewhere in college. I didn't know until about his freshman into his sophomore year what level that would be."

"I first remember Tyrel as a 'gym rat little kid' who was always around the high school practices where his Dad was the coach," Sowder said. "He would dribble and shoot on the side goals while practice was taking place and as soon as practice was over he was on the big court playing 3-on-3 or 1-on-1 games against the high school players."

Ty naturally got his basketball abilities from his Dad, who was a standout cager himself in his prep days as a Hoisington Cardinal. He started out looking at K-State and Colorado State, but an ankle injury forced him to alter his plans.

"I had screws put into my ankle during my senior year," he said. "Once I was injured, I lost out on quite a few scholarships. But everything worked out fine for me."

Stacy was Ty's high school coach.

"His record in high school was 96-4 and one of the games we lost he was out with an ankle injury," Stacy noted.

Burlington was nearly unstoppable Ty's junior year when two Division I athletes donned the Wildcat uniform. Senior Geoff Reeve signed a letter-of-intent with Cornell.

Then came Ty's senior year, 2006-07, when college coaches like KU's Bill Self and North Carolina's Roy Williams were making themselves known in Coffey County's county seat. The distractions weren't bad, Stacy said, except on game nights.

"Most of Ty's recruitment went through me and we set most of the meetings up with coaches during the morning when he would do the workouts," Stacy said. "Ty had a little over 50 Division I offers, but we narrowed them down to 6 or 7 by the beginning of the senior year."

Those fortunate few included North Carolina, Missouri, Oklahoma, Stanford, Missouri State and Kansas.

The chance of playing close to home and earning a national championship lured him to KU. His freshman year, Mario Chalmers brought Jayhawk Nation to their feet with his game-tying 3-pointer in the national championship game against Memphis. Afterward, an emotional scene took place when father and son embraced as the Jayhawks celebrated their school's third national title since the 1950s.

"I told him to enjoy the ride and try to win another one," Stacy remembers telling his son. "They can never take it away from you."

As for the old man?

"It was one of the most unbelievable experience I've had in my life! Wow," Stacy said.

Stacy gave up coaching at Burlington once Ty arrived in Lawrence. He still teaches there but wanted the flexibility so he could follow his son for four years and not worry about drawing up X's and O's as the Wildcat mentor.

"It probably has been some of the most special times in my life," Stacy said, whose son will play his final game at storied Allen Fieldhouse in two months. "I have had a front row seat so to speak on watching my son mature and grow from a little guy to the man he is today. KU is such a special place that I can't imagine him anywhere else."

Ty's future involves one of two things.

"Ty has been admitted into med school at KU," Stacy said, whose son will major in Physical Therapy. "He plans on either playing somewhere next year or going to med school whichever works out best."

"It has been 10 years since Tyrel played in our small local tournament," Sowder noted. "He has had great success since then and now we all hope we get to watch him win one more national championship at KU."

Not bad for a boy who got his start in Eureka! That, my friends, is Powerful Stuff! .

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Van Cleave Hosts Roundtable Talkin' Cats/Hawks Roundball!!!

Now that the calendar has been turned to January, we can put away the footballs and concentrate on that sport James Naismith perfected so many years ago.

January in these parts can only mean one and even better, college basketball. They're ready to wave some wheat at the Phog and do some head-bobbing to the Wabash Cannonball at the Bram.

Today I call upon six of my friends to tell you why their team wins the Big XII championship. Nicholas Caldwell, Bren Fisher and Patrick Spellman give their top three reasons why the Jayhawks bring home more conference championship hardware . To tell you why Kansas State knocks off Kansas for the top spot are Derek Bledsoe, Alex Reinecke and Paden Town.

A little about our ESPN roundtable. Caldwell is a student at KU and hails from Shawnee Mission Northwest High where he was a medalist in the 6A state wrestling tournament a year ago. Fisher is on the Pittsburg State golf team and competed in the Kansas Amateur last summer. Spellman attends Hutchinson Community College where he hopes to walk on the baseball team.

Bledsoe played football at Kansas Wesleyan this fall and knows something about championships...he's a Silver Lake High grad. Reinecke attends K-State and graduated from Greensburg High in 2007 - three weeks after the Greensburg Tornado. Town is a December K-State graduate in Music. He and his sousaphone were in Oklahoma City and Salt Lake City last March during K-State's Elite Eight run.

Conference action gets going Saturday with five conference games: K-State at Oklahoma State, Missouri at Colorado, Baylor at Texas Tech, A&M at Oklahoma and Iowa State at Nebraska. KU and Texas have nonconference tilts this weekend with KU-Michigan and UConn-UT on tap.

The Boyz in Bristol are ready. Lights, Camera, Action guys. We're only 10 weeks from hearing the CBS Orchestra that preludes each NCAA Tournament game which leads us to the Road to the Final Four which is in Houston.

Roundtable, the floor is yours!

Derek Bledsoe: #1 K-State's Bench. Frank Martin's deep and productive bench is sure to outlast anything KU can throw at em. K-State has 10 players that average over 10 minutes, allowing the Wildcats to keep fresh bodies on the floor at all times. #2 Frank Martin: Frank Martin is simply a better coach than Bill Self. As last year's Big XII Coach of the Year and impressive tournament play, Frank Martin looks to simply out-coach the Jayhawks. #3 Fan Base: Everybody knows us purple-blooded Wildcat fans are better than those Chickenhawks and we travel well too. K-State has a few impressive wins on the road that can be attributed in part by an excellent fan base. EMAW!

Nicholas Caldwell: #1 Tradition. When you are a school that prides yourself on being the best, being the best comes natural. It's like shooting a free throw, how good you are is directly related to how much time you spend working on it. We have spent so much time at the top it has become who we are, it is in our blood. #2 Chemistry. We as a team work together and have presence on the court. Without that we wouldn't be a team. We don't have to have just one player either to be good. We can still win without Morris or any other player for that matter. We don't rely solely on one person to be a playmaker, because everyone on the team solo or as a collective group is a playmaker. #3 Selby. He is the next best thing. Pullen is thought to be the best in the Big XII, well check again. Selby could and will be the best. He not only can make a shot, but he is developing as a leader, something Spradling should take some notes on. Selby is going to be the face of KU as he develops in his time here.

Bren Fisher: #1 Depth. They can win the Big XII, they have a lot of size and can go just as deep if not deeper than most teams. #2 Experience. The starting five, with exception of Selby, have all won a title and know how to do it! #3 Bill Self. The best coach in my opinion, and he knows how to win with whatever kids he has!

Alex Reinecke: #1 Athletic. K-State is as athletic as anyone in the Big XII and their ceiling is virtually limitless. With players such as Wally Judge and Rodney McGruder, who have shown just recently how high their potential really goes, along with Jamar Samuels adding some very impressive minutes, the Cats are very capable of living up to pre-season expectations. #2 Jacob Pullen. After floating through several preseason games like some fairy in la-la land, Jake decides to throw his leadership role aside, and along with Curtis Kelly, violate NCAA rules. IF Jake can get his act together and become the player he once was, K-State will have every chance in the world to win the Big XII this season. #3 Defense Never Rests. If K-State learns how to play that same tenacious, swarming defense they played throughout conference play last season, they will win the Big XII. Frank Martin teams never win pretty. They are always rough, tough and scrappy ballgames that throw other teams out of rhythm. It all starts on the defensive end with the deny, deny, deny mentality that makes teams nervous, frustrated and angry. If this team can learn how to play that type of defense again and cut out the lax weakside help defense that Frank's teams rely on, K-State will win the Big XII.

Patrick Spellman: #1 Morris Twins. They bring a big size down low but are quicker than most big men in the nation. The thing that makes them even deadlier is that they have the ability to step back and take the mid-range jumper, slam it to the middle or pop the three. Marcus leads the team in scoring at just over 15 PPG shooting an incredible 60.5% from the field with his Markeiff leading the team in rebounding. #2 Good looks/good shots. The one thing that I believe KU does better than the ENTIRE nation is passing, when you're good at passing you get good looks at the basket. As of right now the Jayhawks are ranked 3rd in the country averaging 18.9 assists per game, but passing leads to scoring which the Hawks average 84.5 points a game putting them 6th in the nation. #3 Selby Nation Baby! This kid as some amazing talent! I think there is some more meshing that needs to occur in order for him to reach his full potential. The nice thing is that he has only played 5 games, so only look for the offense to get stronger when they get more playing time with him. As of now, Selby leads the team in 3-point shots and is right behind Tyrel Reed from the line. Look for this kid to get better as the season continues!

Paden Town: #1 Jacob Pullen. Jacob is the anchor to this team. Our senior leadership is in place and the rest of this young team has a good leader to follow. The Cats hit a road bump with the brief suspension of Pullen and senior Curtis Kelly. However, this mishap is turning into a blessing for the Wildcats forcing the underclassmen to step up and play to their potential. #2 Frank Martin. The Wildcat Nation has come to LOVE our head coach. The rest of college basketball sees him as a hot-tempered loose cannon. This couldn't be farther from the truth. Frank has the passion, discipline and the ability to see a player's true potential. Frank has a passion for the game of basketball, which is necessary in today's day and age. His players see this passion and take it as their own. #3 The Fans. Announcers from all over the country have called Bramlage Coliseum (Octagon of Doom) one of the loudest places to play basketball. Almost rivaling that of Allen Fieldhouse. Beware the Phog but also beware the Angriest Fans in America.

Thanks guys! Now I'll tell you who may be the most valuable player to each team that has barely been mentioned by our experts. Tyrel Reed, Mr. Kansas Basketball from 2007 as a Burlington Wildcat, may be the man who carries KU to a Final Four in Houston. I've seen this kid since his days in Eureka and he has been able to post up and knock home the 3 with the best of them. And for K-State, it's Will Spradling. I saw highlights of Spradling's days at Shawnee Mission South last night during halftime of the K-State game. If Spradling can continue to take over as the man at point guard, great things do await the Wildcats! .

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Chris Phillips Calls His Shot!

"Champions are made from something deep inside them, a desire, a dream, a vision. They have to have last- minute stamina, they have to be a little faster, they have to have the skill and will. But the will must be stronger than the skill." Muhammad Ali. This quote will encapsulate the Chiefs season after their win on February 6, 2011 in Arlington, TX.

Yes, I know it is absolutely taboo and a bit mad to go out on a limb and predict the Kansas City Chiefs will win the Super Bowl this year. Las Vegas futures had the Chiefs 35/1 to win the Bowl. Coach Todd Haley has said on multiple occasions, “Don’t even think about the Playoffs. We are going to take it one game at a time.” Of course this is the right mindset for any NFL organization. However, deep down in their heart of hearts every Coach, player, and fan is looking for the sweet glory of victorious bliss when their team hoists the Lombardi trophy. Thanks to the hard work, genius strategy, and key coaching/player acquisitions this season, the Kansas City Chiefs are the proud owners of the AFC West Title. In this league, anything can happen in the Postseason. Any team can win on any given Saturday/Sunday and the Chiefs have their Golden Ticket! I don’t know about you, but this was the best Christmas present I got this year and I’m damn proud of it.

Coming back to reality, it’s looking like the Chiefs may host the New York Jets. Based on the other options for a Wild Card game, I have to say this would be my choice. The Jets are a tough team with a great defense. Rex Ryan has done well this year with his team. I have to admit, I thought Hard Knocks featuring the Jets on HBO was pretty funny this year. However, they have won a lot of close games and the blueprint is out on how to beat these guys. If Rex, Schottenheimer, and the rest of the Jets crew sleep on the Chiefs, IN ARROWHEAD, they will be in for a rude awakening. Old Rex needs to keep his wigs tucked away in the drawer, keep his mouth shut, and lay off the M&M’s. Coach Haley has the Chiefs playing outside of themselves right now and deserves Coach of the Year. With Matt Cassel coming back eleven days from surgery to trounce the Rams, he has created a do or die bond with his team. His all around play has only gotten better as the season progressed. This tells me he needed more time to gel with his new team. You’ve got to love a QB who runs the ball that few extra yards to get the first down fresh out of the hospital. He is all heart and everyone knows it. Matt Cassel should have received a Pro Bowl selection this year. However, this won’t be a problem when they go to the big show.

Conclusion: The Jets are good but the Chiefs win because they have the will and skill.

All roads to the AFC Championship go through Foxboro. Is it possible to win against Belichick and the New England Patriots on the road? Huh, tough question. Your head and the stat sheet would say unequivocally NO! A heart that pumps Chiefs Blood would say Yes! Let’s not forget that Chiefs are engulfed with past New England players and coaches. If there is a team that knows how Belichick’s mastermind works, it’s the Kansas City Chiefs. Haley, Crennel, and Weiss would have to pull out their bag of tricks to pull off this miracle. However, nobody thought we would beat San Diego on that magical Monday night game to start the season either. Where there is a will, there is a way.

The odds are stacked against the Chiefs going to the Super Bowl much less winning it. Predictions are a dime a dozen. In an earlier post, I predicted the Chiefs would be in an AFC shootout with Oakland the last game of the season to decide the AFC West. Most analysts called the San Diego Chargers to Go to the Super Bowl at the beginning of the season. We’ve heard grumbles that Matt Cassel wasn’t worth the money this season as well. If we were right all of the time, we would be sitting next to Chris Berman on Monday Night Countdown. As it is, the love for the game keeps us hoping and guessing at what’s to come. All be it, with a lot of biased towards the Kansas City Chiefs. That’s what I love about hard work, clean living, and surrounding yourself/organization with good people. It eventually pays off. Hunt, Pioli, and Haley are a true testament to this.

Predictions and judgments aside, we have many things to be proud of this year, a Phenomenal Chiefs Team that is all Class, an AFC West Crown, and a shot at the Lombardi.

Big Props to Jamaal Charles, Dwayne Bowe, and Brian Waters for making the Pro Bowl. Cassel should have been there with only 5 Interceptions so far this season. Respect will be paid for his performance in February.

Conclusion: Kansas City Chiefs vs. New Orleans Saints Super Bowl XLV.

Chiefs win 35 – 32

Chiefs have a lot of skill. But their Will is stronger than their skill.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

What a Year! by MP

Wow! What a year 2010 has been. It is hard to believe it is almost over. Where does time go? What a year in the world of sports too.

The Saints won the bowl, Tiger melted down personally and professionally, the Royals were terrible again, the Lakers and Celts were epic, the Dukies won but robbed Butler, The NCAA pulled about 75 unbelievably dumb moves in college football, and the Chiefs.....YEAH THE CHIEFS....are hosting a playoff game!

So we can talk about some of my terrible predictions, I own them and cannot hide. But boy, am I glad I was wrong about the Chiefs and picking them to go 8-8!

For the record here are the highlights and low-lights of my prognostication this year: I was not even in the neighborhood in the Golf major winner category. VC cleaned my clock. I also picked the Celtics, but truth be told, that was a heart pick not one from the head. I didn't attempt baseball, but who had the Giants? I woefully was wrong about Texas Tech football winning the Big 12 South....and of course the Chiefs going 8-8, taking a few shots at Matt Cassel along the way. I did tell you that New Orleans, Chicago, The NY Giants, Atlanta Falcons and Seattle Seahawks were in the playoff pic in the NFC, and they are! I also said OU and Texas would be down in football, also correct. I believe I also told you how the Kansas Jayhawks will be superior to the Wildcats from Manhattan in hoops, but hey that is almost cherry-picking! The Chiefs however, are a different story....

What an unbelievable year for the Chiefs. Hats off to Todd Haley and all the Chiefs turning around a 4 win season last year to sit right now at 10-5, with a great chance at an 11-5 season after hosting the Raiders this coming Sunday. It looks like we will host the New York Jets in the first round of the playoffs, and a winnable game! I cannot stand the loud mouth, HBO Hard Knocks, over-rated, over-hyped Jets. Mark Sanchez is terrible and of the options in the first round the Jets would be most favorable. The Chiefs, with a few bad losses aside, have played tough, mistake free football and are finally getting the notoriety they deserve! Hey, sorry about the Cassel shots...I still think the jury is out. He is a game manager and has done that well the entire year. We all saw what the alternative was with Brodie Croyle against the Chargers. I hope you are all as excited as I am for what is ahead....and this season is the tip of the iceberg!

Around the horn: I previously referenced the NCAA. How in the world do you deem it bad enough to suspend the Ohio State guys for 5 next year...but let them play in the Bowl game? Huh? Much like the "Scam" Newton deal....what a mess! Speaking of predictions....I like the Hogs over the Buckeyes in the Sugar and I like Auburn over Oregon in the BCS Championship game. NFL wise...I am nervous, but will stick with my original Super Bowl matchup...the Battle of the Birds...Falcons vs. Ravens! It is hoop season and the Jayhawks need some toughening up....they play to the level of every opponent, and haven't played anyone really tough yet. I watch them and worry about their lack of size. Seems to me they have to run a lot more if they are relying on the Morris twins in the post. Congrats to Dwyane Bowe, Jamaal Charles and Brian Waters for pro-bowl invites....and to COACH TODD HALEY SOON TO BE NFL COACH OF THE YEAR!!!

That is it for now....Go Chiefs....Go 'Hawks...and Merry Christmas to all and Happy New Year!!!!

One of the most handsome families ever!

One of the most handsome families ever!
One lucky man!

The other lucky guy

The other lucky guy
Matt and Kim

gettin a vibe....

gettin a vibe....

Me and my buddy

Me and my buddy

Mama and Luke

Mama and Luke
at the Circus

2010 NCAA MW Regional nosebleeders!

2010 NCAA MW Regional nosebleeders!