Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Rants from Last Night: Boldin Traded to 49ers for Basically Nothing, Melo Back from Injury and Knicks get Pummeled, Iona -4 is the Gambling Bad Beat of the Year

by John Huffstetler

Monday March 11th

Joe Flacco and former teammate Anquan Boldin
Ravens trade Boldin to 49ers for a Bag of Peanuts- Anyone who watched the Ravens playoff run understands the value Boldin added to their offensive unit this season. When Flacco had nowhere to go with the football, he would throw it up for grabs to Boldin because he rightfully trusted that Boldin would either use his uncanny strength to come down with the football or bat the ball away. Flacco himself supported Boldin in his contract dispute and hoped for Anquan to return. Asking Boldin to take a pay cut is one thing, but for the Ravens to quickly unload him for just a 6th-round pick after he refused (while he was in Africa on a relief effort for that matter) is absolute lunacy. They received no value for a well-regarded player with high value following a Super Bowl run where he popped on film.   This is a guy Joe Flacco trusted enough to lob the ball to when nobody was open. Now Flacco no longer has his safety valve, and that can make a huge difference for a QB's confidence level. Now Flacco must find somewhere else to go when the under duress. This trade could cost the Ravens more than just Boldin. They could lose Flacco's confidence and happiness as well.

Update: Melo Returns and Knicks get Throttled- Carmelo Anthony left the Cavs game last Monday with his team down 22 in the 2nd quarter. After he left, the Knicks rallied to win by 5. In fact, the Knicks had outscored their opponents by 65 points since he left that game (3-1 record) with their only loss coming by 1 to a strong Thunder team. Melo returned to the lineup Monday against Golden State and the Knicks got crushed by the Warriors 92-63. Granted, the Warriors welcomed David Lee back to the lineup in a huge home game, but losing by 29 is unacceptable. Melo led the team with 34 minutes played, shot just 4-15 from the field, and the Knicks were -29 (the exact Margin the Knicks lost by) while he was on the floor. Plus/Minus is a complicated stat with many factors at play (fellow teammates on the court, opponents on the floor, etc.), but a -29 is dreadful no matter how you look at it. The Knicks need to limit his minutes, plain and simple. His role should be that of a solid 6th man who can provide an offensive spark off the bench. His defense is simply to poor to play him 30+ minutes a game.

Iona -4 is the Gambling Bad Beat of the Year- Put anyone who took Iona -4 last night on suicide watch today. Iona was up 8 over Manhattan with 6.2 seconds left, then read this link from Beyond the Bets to see what happened next. Truly a terrible beat.

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Monday, March 11, 2013

Rants from Last Night: ESPN's Latin Night is terrible, Michigan's FT Issues, and Derrick Rose's Unneccessarily Long Rehab

by John Huffstetler

Sunday March 11th

Kobe Bryant and Lebron James in their Latin Night Unis
ESPN's Latin Night or "Noche Latina" is Infuriating- Does anyone else hate this program? Essentially, ESPN and the NBA are trying to market games to the Hispanic community, but there are so many annoying elements. First, they change the names on each teams' jerseys and on ESPN's bottom line to some stupid version of their name in Spanish. For example, the Miami Heat become "El Heat" and the LA Lakers become "Los Lakers." Secondly, they call in Latin Night, yet it lasts an entire month. How about just calling it latin month so someone like me isn't watching all week saying, "wait, wasn't it Latin Night two nights ago?" Lastly, every game score on the ESPN/ESPN2/ESPNU bottom line involving Latin Night is followed by a long disclaimer explaining how the game is part of Latin Night, thus slowing down their score updates and wasting everyone's time. The idea to celebrate Hispanic culture for a day, a week, or even a month is terrific, but ESPN does a horrible job marketing it. Like most everything else they do, it comes off as cheesy and forced. America, and more specifically the Hispanic community, deserves better than this shamelessly self-promoting, poorly-conceived "Noche Latina."

Michigan's Trey Burke
Michigan can't make clutch Free Throws or Rebound- My beloved Wolverines blew a late lead (which they were fortunate to have to begin with) when Tim Hardaway Jr. and Trey Burke missed the front-end of 1-and-1 free throws on back-to-back possessions to relinquish a 5-point lead with under 1 minute remaining. Both free throw misses occurred with every other Michigan player back on the other end of the court, which is a foolish strategy I've noticed frequently this season in College Basketball. To start, you are allowing the other team to grab an uncontested rebound on any miss. Burke's miss hit the rim strongly and bounded back and to the left for what would have been a highly contested rebound available for either team. In addition, Burke and Hardaway are accustomed to shooting with the foul lane full of bodies. In a pressure situation, why are you changing the situation and adding stress for your players? It makes absolutely no sense, and I guarantee players shoot a lower percentage on free throws (would love anyone who can find the #'s to send them to me) in crunch time when their teammates are back on defense as opposed to beside the lane.

Beyond the late FT issues, Michigan can't rebound! If you get out-rebounded by 21, you are lucky to be in the game, plain and simple. Indiana frequently missed first shot opportunities, but grabbed a whopping 19 offensive rebounds. To be fair, Michigan plays a guard-heavy, ball-handling lineup in order to avoid turnovers (+8 vs Indiana) at the expense of their rebounding, but adjustments must be made to this strategy if the rebounding margin gets so out of hand. Here is a write-up of the game by Jeff Fogle on his Stat Intelligence blog that perfectly explains how Michigan was fortunate to hit 3's just to remain in the game, and how this bodes for them in the future. I've personally written them off for the NCAA tourney, but I hope I'm wrong.

Derrick Rose in street clothes...shocker
Derrick Rose's Vagina Hamstring hurts, delaying his return- Derrick Rose is delaying his return from an ACL tear because his hamstrings are "on fire" after workouts. He's been medically cleared for full contact for a month now, yet he remains on the sidelines despite his team's 7-11 record since the beginning of February. I would understand if he was playing limited minutes citing some discomfort in his repaired ACL, but he's talking about his hamstrings bothering him AFTER workouts. Did he ever think his hamstrings might be "on fire" because he's been sitting on his ass for 10 months? Shut up and get back on the court. Maybe then you'll be able to workout without your Vagina, I mean Hamstring bothering you. Grow a pair, and play a few minutes every night for your team.

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Sunday, March 10, 2013

Rants from Last Night: What you Missed

by John Huffstetler

Saturday March 9th

Melo and Amare would probably be more helpful
on the Sesame Street squad than the Knicks
Knicks cruise without Melo and Amare- The Knicks spanked the Jazz last night without their two most high-profile and most overrated players. The remaining Knicks held the Jazz to 84 points on 38.5% shooting, allowing just 38 points in the first half. This trend of improved defensive effort without Melo or Amare in the lineup has been noted over the past few seasons, but it is worth reiterating. The Knicks are simply a better team without them, and imagine the salary cap space they would have if these two weren't under contract. The true star of the Knicks is Tyson Chandler, who dominates defensively and facilitates his teammates offensively. With Amare's latest injury looking long-term, the Knicks will easily wrap up the Atlantic division and earn a top 3 seed in the East.

Gonzaga survives 1st-half scare, still doesn't deserve a #1 seed- The Zags pulled away late to beat a dreadful Loyola-Marymount team late last night. The Zags have played exactly 3 legit teams since New Year's (Butler, St. Mary's and BYU), yet Dick Vitale and Joe Lunardi seem to think they deserve a #1 seed. The West Coast Conference is incredibly soft this year (10th best in conference RPI), and the Zags have padded their wins based on this softness alone. This does not mean they can't have success in the tourney, but they shouldn't be rewarded for playing in an easy conference. Their non-conference wins over Baylor, Oklahoma St. (on the road), Kansas St., Davidson, and Oklahoma are impressive, but not enough alone to warrant a #1 seed. Give them a 3 or 4 seed this year.

Murray St. Head Coach Steve Prohm
Poor coaching and major choking dooms Murray St. in late loss to Belmont- Up 58-51 with 2 minutes left against Belmont, Murray St. looked poised to return to the NCAA tourney once again this year, but they forgot to finish the game. Belmont cut the lead to 2 with 1 min left, but the Racers answered with two free throws to put them up 62-58 with 48 seconds left. Belmont hits a jumper with 37 seconds remaining to cut the lead back to two. Here's where terrible coaching took over for the Racers. Belmont obviously must foul or be left with 2 seconds on the clock to tie the game, yet head coach Steve Prohm does not choose to get his best free throw shooters on the court. He keeps Ed Daniel on the court, whose 61.1 free throw % ranks 10th on the team! Belmont's pressure forces a pass to Daniel and, shocker, he misses both free throws. An inexcusable mistake by Prohm, and I hope Murray St. fans are questioning this poor decision-making today that allowed Belmont to force overtime.

Check back tomorrow for more rants.

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