Tuesday, April 27, 2010

2009-2010 UNC Basketball Review

This was the most depressing season for any team that I can think of in my entire life as a sports fan. I personally witnessed it break many-a-fan (which was interesting, seeing how long it took each one to break down ha), and I couldn't help but get caught in the depression myself - though to a very low degree. In no way was I expecting another national championship, but I still foolishly predicted another ACC title. I say it was foolish, because heading in I KNEW that the Tar Heels had no guard-play, no perimeter scoring, and no post scoring. For some reason I thought their size would be enough. I was very wrong.

FAIL. Deon Thompson was a good understudy to Tyler Hansbrough, but he was a nightmare this year. The fact that he won the team's MVP award is really... sad. I really thought he could be a reliable post scorer and rebounder. Instead I saw 6.7 rebounds/game and the same dreadful turnaround jumper every time he touched the ball. Shame on me for expecting anything, I guess.

Marcus Ginyard is a joke of a player. Interesting how a guy like that is recruited to be the lockdown defender on a championship team (ala Byron Mouton on the '01-'02 Maryland team) but his injury allows for the emergence of Danny Green, who played an integral part in the championship run (he could play some ball too). He had an embarrassing year.

NBA Draft Early Entrants
Only one: Joe Forte. (Oops, did I just say that? I mean Ed Davis.) I don't get the move, and I can only assume it's financially charged. In no way is he ready for the NBA; not physically, not skill-wise... he WAS by FAR the best player on the team, has a high motor, is a good shot blocker and rebounder and has a deceptively respectable post game. But not enough to be a factor in the NBA. Rooting for him, though. And if he had stayed UNC's roster would look a lot better next year.

Returning - Bigs
Three white guys and a massive stick-figure: Tyler Zeller, David and Travis Wear, and John Henson. I don't like Zeller at all - as some people can attest to ha - but he's a serviceable player. Decent post scorer, too big (7' 240) not to have an impact on the defensive end, even if he is a dismal rebounder. The Wear twins are pretty skilled - they'll make for a good high-post/low-post duo - but didn't play much, and I can't tell the difference between them yet. Henson is a stud, but would get out-muscled by half of the women's team. He can finish with both hands, rebound from time to time, and blocks shots like a phenom. Still don't know what his position is, though.

Returning - Wings
Will Graves. That's it, really. He played with a lot of heart, but he's just not that good. Made some big shots, but not much else. He won't start next year.

Returning - Guards
There aren't many. Three to be exact: Larry Drew, Dexter Strickland and Leslie McDonald. McDonald's playing time was very sporadic, something I didn't agree with, but I'm not coaching that team. I think he could be pretty good. Dexter Strickland is FAST, aggressive... he'll be a lot better when he learns how to finish. Time will tell if he's ever worthy of a starting spot. And definitely not a point guard.

Of course, speaking of point guards, we come to Larry Drew. I had high hopes for this kid, and while I'm not as down on him as most of Chapel Hill is, he still let me down. I was pretty confident that he'd be a legit starting point guard, and he proved himself to be a very good backup. Simply put, he just didn't show that he has 'it' all year. I'm not gonna say he'll never find 'it', but I wouldn't bank on it either.

Looking Ahead
The biggest deficiency this team had was that they didn't play with the swagger EVERY Tar Heel team should play with. I don't care if they lost Lawson, Hansbrough, Ellington, Green... you play home games at the DEAN DOME. This team didn't play like the expected to win, didn't even expect to compete.

The incoming freshmen should change that. Harrison Barnes is a BEAST; at first I called him a Carmelo Anthony/Danny Granger hybrid, but he's a better playmaker than that, there's really no comparison. Reggie Bullock has been described as a bigger, more athletic Wayne Ellington...not bad. Kendall Marshall will hopefully take the starting PG role quickly. Jason Kidd's name has been mentioned with Marshall's - far too many Kidd comparisons in the last few years - but I've actually seen a couple games of his and he's legit.

The main thing they all have is an undeniable presence, especially Barnes. It's not a loud confidence, but it's there all the same. Without Davis this probably isn't a title contending roster, but they'll be much improved. I can't stress enough how excited I am to see how Barnes produces early on and how he progresses throughout the year. Should be very exciting.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Washington Redskins 2010 NFL Draft Review

I'll get this out the way while it's still fresh. This will be more a checkup on the team than just a draft review, but I'll start with the draft.

Most people had Russell Okung as the best tackle, but most also said Williams had the greatest potential, and if there's one thing above all else that I have faith in Mike Shanahan for, it's picking and developing his lineman. No doubt in my mind he'll be a pro-bowler.

I don't know anything about the other guys. I'll say right now, I HATE the pick of the TE, Dennis Morris. Why? Chris Cooley and Fred Davis isn't enough? I would've preferred looking at a big receiver (like USFs Carlton Mitchell), or taking a flyer on Myron Rolle. I like taking a linebacker and obviously the two o-linemen.

And it's nice to finally see some attention paid to the field position game. I don't know who Terrence Austin is, but he's UCLA's second all-time total yardage leader. Behind one Maurice Jones-Drew. Still not impressed? Watch this.

Obviously the big move of the draft for the Skins was trading their second rounder (37 overall) for Donovan McNabb. I was always a fan of Jason Campbell, and there's no denying that he wasn't given a fair shake at the job. To be perfectly honest, I would've preferred keeping the picks and taking Arrelious Benn. Or offering the same deal Miami did for Brandon Marshall. Santana Moss needs someone to take the pressure off of him, and that wasn't addressed. On top of that, Donovan has developed a propensity to throw his passes at receivers' feet. Philly could protect their passer. So how's he gonna do behind this offensive line? I have high hopes for what Shanahan can mean for our blocking, but I'm realistic at the same time.

But I AM excited to have McNabb in DC. It's hard not to be. He's an all-pro QB who has a few productive years left, and the best quarterback to play in DC, probably in my lifetime. As much as I supported JC, McNabb is obviously better - throws a better deep ball, which bodes well for Santana Moss.

The move that went under the radar - maybe for good reason, who knows - was the trade of a 5th round pick to the St Louis Rams for Adam Carriker. Carriker was a bad fit in the Rams defense but with the Skins looking to use the 3-4 more, Carriker figures to be a big part of that, provided he stays healthy. And he'll play alongside Fat Albert, which can only help.

Looking ahead, as crazy as it sounds, it might make sense to sign Terrell Owens. We NEED a receiver to take pressure off of Santana, and TO is still a serviceable weapon, even if he has lost a step or three. We also need to drop DeAngelo Falls...

As I mentioned, I have high hopes for what the new coaching staff can and will do this year. What is certain is that the defense will be better, for the simple fact that d-coordinator Jim Haslett will utilize Albert Haynesworth and LaRon Landry better than they were last year. It's impossible for this not to be the case. On offense, Shanahan has always had great offensive lines, so why not here? Keep in mind, there IS some talent there, especially with Trent Williams now. Gotta be optimistic, right? I'm not a fan of the signings of both Larry Johnson AND Willie Parker (would've preferred Brian Westbrook...), but recently Shanahan picked up a guy he drafted in Denver, Ryan Torain, who will be really good if he's given a shot. He actually reminds of Clinton Portis in many ways (vision, decisiveness in hitting holes, powerful runner, good at making people miss).

That's it. For now. More to come later, I'm sure.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

2010 NFL Draft

I kinda forgot that the draft was today... so I'm playing GM for the first round (no trades).

1. St. Louis Rams - Sam Bradford, QB, Oklahoma - I came really close to taking Ndamukong Suh here since he's an absolute BEAST, but I happen to like Bradford a lot. I don't think his body is injury prone necessarily, I just think he's a bit of a pussy, and that can be cured - either by coaches or an o-line. They have no o-line, which is the main reason why I considered Suh here, but I'm going with the QB.
2. Detroit Lions - Ndamukong Suh, DT, Nebraska - Flat out, Suh is a monster. The fact that there's even a question between Suh and Oklahoma's Gerald McCoy makes zero sense.
3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Eric Berry, S, Tennessee - There's no question that Berry is taking over where Ed Reed leaves off, however soon that may be. I realize this is traditionally too early for a safety, but tradition is what holds EVERYONE back in the draft. I still want my Redskins to take Berry if he's available.
4. Washington Redskins - Russell Okung, OT, Oklahoma State - I don't know anything about these o-linemen, so I'm gonna have to go by what people are saying on all of them. Okung seems like the best combination of sure-thing and upside, so he's the pick. However, I've heard that the Skins are actually targeting Oklahoma's Trent Williams.
*EDIT: Michael Smith says the Skins are actually looking at Berry! I just punched your mom in celebration.
5. Kansas City Chiefs - Trent Williams, OT, Oklahoma - The Chiefs need to find a left tackle since by all accounts (that I've read) Brandon Albert was a failure and will be moved back to guard. Williams is the best pick here.
6. Seattle Seahawks - Gerald McCoy, DT, Oklahoma - I don't care what everyone else is saying, their d-line is porous and McCoy would be a huge help.
7. Cleveland Browns - Dez Bryant, WR, Oklahoma State - Character issues aside, Bryant is a monster. And I seriously doubt Cleveland is fine (they shouldn't be) heading in to the season with Josh Cribbs and Mohamed Massaquoi as their starting WRs.
8. Oakland Raiders - Bryan Bulaga, OT, Iowa - I don't want to be GM for the Raiders so I'm giving them another Iowa tackle who will probably wind up moving to guard.
9. Buffalo Bills - Anthony Davis, OT, Rutgers - The Bills need protection for their QB before they trot one out to be slaughtered.
10. Jacksonville Jaguars - Derrick Morgan, DE, Georgia Tech - Seems like Derrick Harvey was a foolish choice (remember they moved up to 8 to take him) and even though they signed Aaron Kampman, Morgan is too good to pass on here.
11. Denver Broncos - Rolando McClain, ILB, Alabama - Denver needs a middle linebacker and McClain is an exceptional football player. Fuck you Giants, you're not getting this one.
12. Miami Dolphins - Jerry Hughes, OLB, TCU - Absurdly underrated in my opinion; he's perfect to fill the void left by the departed Jerry Porter.
13. San Francisco 49ers - Earl Thomas, S, Texas - The 9ers need a safety, and Thomas is a stud. With no o-tackle or QB worth taking here, it's a pretty easy pick. Dan Williams was considered.
14. Seattle Seahawks - CJ Spiller, RB, Clemson - Seattle needs a RB desperately, and Spiller will be their return man as well. Too much value here.
15. New York Giants - Mike Iupati, G, Idaho - Giants need a guard and Iupati is a guard. I dunno, it's kinda unfair that this team is drafting so early. Unfortunately they'll probably wind up with McClain and he'll obviously be a stud.
16. Tennessee Titans - Jason Pierre-Paul, DE, South Florida - Tennessee plucks another gem here, there's no way Jeff Fisher wouldn't turn him into a pro-bowler.
17. San Francisco 49ers - Dan Williams, DT, Tennessee - So they wind up with Williams here anyway. I don't know who Aubrayo Franklin is, so if he's good I'm sorry. But he sounds like a bum.
18. Pittsburgh Steelers - Joe Haden, CB, Florida - Looks like they need a quarterback, but I think they've learned their lesson on fratboy douchebags and will pass on Clausen. And it's my pick anyway and I'm not coming near that fucker. Haden fills a need and his draft value is falling because of a low 40 time. Normally I wouldn't care, but a 4.7?
19. Atlanta Falcons - Brandon Graham, DE/OLB, Michigan - Apparently he was primarily a linebacker at UM, but at 268 he can play DE for the Falcons, who need to add a pass rusher (and an outside linebacker for that matter).
20. Houston Texans - Kareem Jackson, CB, Alabama - With Dunta Robinson gone the Texans are in dire need of a corner.
21. Cincinnati Bengals - Jermaine Gresham, TE, Oklahoma - Everyone's talking about a need for a young receiver here, and I was tempted to put Arrelious Benn here, but I don't get it. Tight end IS a need, and Gresham is a beast. I'd like to see Cincy maybe make a move for Eric Berry, give Marvin Lewis his Ed Reed.
22. New England Patriots - Sergio Kindle, OLB, Texas - Good fit on the outside for the Pats. They'll probably do their usual take someone nobody's ever heard of or trade this pick for 18 future first rounders.
23. Green Bay Packers - Kyle Wilson, CB, Boise State - Al Harris is a ghost at this point so corner is a priority. Also considered RB Ryan Matthews.
24. Philadelphia Eagles - Sean Weatherspoon, OLB, Missouri - There's about a zero percent chance that the Eagles remain in this slot. I'm going with Weatherspoon over TCU's Daryl Washington because they need size, and and Washington, nor newcomer Ernie Sims, provides that.
25. Baltimore Ravens - Arrelious Benn, WR, Illinois - Sure they just traded for Boldin, but Benn is easily the best player available in my eyes (he's criminally underrated) and nobody else really fills a need who would be worthy of this slot.
26. Arizona Cardinals - Tim Tebow, QB, Florida - Haha.
27. Dallas Cowboys - Bruce Campbell, OT, Maryland - Clowns. Campbell is a workout warrior so that's grand. Fuck Dallas (they need a tackle though).
28. San Diego Chargers - Jahvid Best, RB, Cal - I like Best to become the best RB out of this class. If I'm remembering correctly, the Chargers have a great strength and conditioning program, which is what he needs most, seeing as how he's been resurrected from the dead.
29. New York Jets - Jared Odrick, DT, Penn State - Rex Ryan would probably murder Taylor Mays during training camp. Odrick would wind up a DE in their 3-4, where he'd be a perfect fit. I'd be terrifying if the Jets made a move to get Eric Berry. If these guys did that, man that'd be unfair.
30. Minnesota Vikings - Ryan Matthews, RB, Fresno State - They need to add a running back or Adrian Peterson would kill himself. Where's Ontario Smith when you need him? (Seriously, what happened to that guy? Is he partying with Maurice Clarett?)
31. Indanapolis Colts - Rodger Saffold, OT, Indiana - He played in Indiana. Cool.
32. New Orleans Saints - Daryl Washington, OLB, TCU - Wanna know who the Saints' outside 'backers are? Scott Shanle and, now listen closely, Jo-Lonn Dunbar. WHAT THE FUCK. Easiest pick of the draft. Colt McCoy is a possibility, however, with Drew Brees on the cover of Madden '11. Brees would make for a great mentor to McCoy, tho he may have a difficult time working with him in his full-body cast.

Teams with no first round picks:
Chicago Bears - The Bears need a receiver. DESPERATELY. Move up and take one. They also need a safety. Maybe Major Wright out of Florida could be the pick at 75 (their first pick).
Carolina Panthers - They need defensive line help, and a quarterback. Carlos Dunlap could be an interesting replacement for Julius Peppers. And Tony Pike might be a nice fit since they already have an extraordinary offensive line in place.

-The Tebow pick was actually somewhat serious. The Cardinals desperately need a QB now, and that's how much I hate Jimmy Clausen.
-Shoutout to Harry Von Kann, receiver out of Kenyon College. Good luck this weekend.

I guess that's it. Now it's time for you to tell me why I'm an idiot. And if you do, you can go fuck yourself.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Lupe Fiasco x B.o.B at 930 Club - 4/13

On Tuesday, April 13th I went to the 930 Club to see Bob and Lupe Fiasco for their DC stop on the Steppin Laser Tour. A little background: I came back to DC on I think February 23rd, and on the 24th I went to the box office to get my ticket. Nothing was gonna stop me from seeing this show (including my long awaited employment starting 2 weeks earlier than I had expected ha).

Needless to say my excitement had built up quite a bit come the 13th. Lupe and BoB are probably my two favorite artists right now, and I missed an opportunity to see BoB last summer when he was in DC. So I was really looking forward to the show.

BoB didn't disappoint:

He didn't come out to that song (that would be Haterz Everywhere ha), but that's when things really got started - in my mind. After hearing Satellite, I came to a few realizations. One, I need to see him at an outdoor music festival. I can't explain why exactly, it just feels like it would make more sense. Two - more importantly and a tiny bit upsetting (but as expected) - people weren't really getting in to his music as much as his talent should command, especially the truly good music. Again I think the mood would be different, and more fitting, at an outdoor venue, but still; Nothin On You is a decent song, but far from his best. But he doesn't even have an album out yet (April 27th), so we'll see where he's at a year from now. Overall, great performance, all things considered.

He interacted with the crowd well and came out for an encore. I actually don't think this was it ha, but whatever. This probably IS his best song, sorry it's cut off (more on that later):

After a short wait and an overpriced drink, Lupe hit the stage:

Again, apologies short video (of Shining Down)...again more on that later.

In short, Lupe killed it. Truly an awe-inspiring performance. If you don't do your shows with a live band you better have a damn good reason. I'm sure it would've been a great show otherwise, but there's no way people would've been as captivated as they were. I've seen quite a few shows at the 930 Club at this point - including one featuring hometown favorites Tabi Bonney and Wale w/ UCB, exceptional in its own right - and nothing comes close to Lupe's show. He has a presence that's too infectious for Hellen Keller to ignore.

What really left a lasting impressing, however, was that he had a sold out crowd singing his songs with him, word for word. I feel like 90% of his material goes over these people's heads, but the fact that lyricism like that is so widely recognized - in whatever capacity - is refreshing to say the least. I'm definitely looking forward to the next Lupe show...which WILL happen.

Couple things that concerned me a bit. First, I heard about someone who waited after the show, to get a CD signed for his sister. After a little bit he was told "Lupe ain't signing autographs." I get he's busy, tired, whatever... but what happened to "everybody gets a nice autograph picture / one for you and one for your sister," huh? I dunno, just got me thinking.

Second, as I lightly alluded to earlier, video wasn't allowed at the show. Maybe that's common, but I've never had a problem before, and I was told I was gonna get ejected from the building three times that I remember. They said it was at the artists request... going by both of their histories, I'm sure that's not BoB's m.o., tho it does sound like it could be Lupe. No coincidence that they're both signed to Atlantic Records, though...

P.S. A couple weeks prior I saw Wiz Khalifa at 930, which was exceptional - though no live band ha - and I was allowed to freely take video. A little bonus ha:

Wiz Khalifa is one of the most inspirational stories in music right now. After leaving his deal with Warner Bros. his popularity erupted, thanks a massive self-promotion campaign - primarily on his Twitter page and his exhaustive Deal Or No Deal tour schedule. No doubt he has received the guidance of fellow major-label-jumper Curren$y, who left Lil Wayne's Young Money label over two years ago. Together they represent what is hopefully a new age in music...

The Mirage That Was The 2010 NCAA Tournament And How Duke Ruined It All

Starting quite early in the college basketball season I began to get the feeling that it was a horrible abnormality. At first I dismissed the notion because, living in Chapel Hill I was exposed to this phenomenon in much the same way as someone standing next to the sun would experience heat. It was a nightmarish season for the Tar Heels, who went from winning a national championship to nearly plummeting to the basement of an especially weak ACC (Miami saved them from that). Making matters worse was how Duke ran through their schedule for the most part; more on that later.

But then teams began to noticeably drop like flies. The obvious example of this is Texas, who's collapse can't be described in words. Heading into their game against KSU on 1/18 they were the top team in the nation and Damion James was (at least to me) the clearcut #1 option for player of the year. They finished the year with a first round exit in the NCAA tournament that they only qualified for in the first half of the year. Texas was hardly alone, though, as there were many other teams that had dismal seasons. UConn comes to mind; they should've had the best backcourt in the country but Jerome Dyson and Kemba Walker never came to play at the same time, and the team never met anyone's expectations.

As the tournament drew near, it became very evident how wide open this championship run was going to be. I wasn't thrilled about that (competition is about finding out who is the BEST, not the LUCKIEST), but I can't deny that I was definitely excited about the mystery of what was on the horizon. For much of the first weekend I never lost the feeling that the entire regular season gave me that led me to dismiss it as a bad joke, but ultimately the first five rounds did nothing to disappoint. Tons of buzzer-beaters, upsets and all-around intrigue, including mid-major Butler reaching the final to play Duke. But as cynical (translation: realistic) as I've been, I couldn't help but get caught up in all the excitement. I was sure Butler would win that game, down to the last Greg Zoubek trip to the FT line and subsequent near-buzzer-beater by Gordan Hayward.

And when that shot didn't fall I came crashing back down to Earth (just look at that picture at the top, on the NikeBasketball website minutes after the game ended). We were treated to a hell of a game; Duke wasn't getting their usual lion's share of the calls and obviously the game came down to the wire. But with Duke getting the victory this terrible joke of a college basketball season concluded with the most bitterly anti-climactic end to the year, the likes of which I don't think I have ever seen. I'm just going to leave it at that, because I could go on for days about how shitty this year was and how Duke is the least deserving champion in the history of sports, but I don't want to dwell on the negative. Instead, let's recognize what has quietly been one of the best NBA seasons (probably the best season) since Jordan left Chicago for good, and enjoy what is shaping up to be the best playoffs in that same time span. More on that in a later post, coming soon.

J. Cole "We On" - Introduction to My Expansion to Music

I'm gonna start posting some music here in addition to everything else, and reviewing albums and mixtapes as well as shows, too.

J. Cole seems to get a lot of mixed reviews, but I don't get why at all. You're a clown if you're of this generation and don't think this is good. Dude produced this track as well.