“At center, a 6-foot-11 freshman from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, number 33, DIAMOND STONE.”
This was an introduction Maryland basketball fans thought they would hear every game this year, as Stone was thought to be the dominant big man who rounded out the starting lineup of a national championship contender. His offensive game garnered high praise from coaches and scouts alike, and he was named to the preseason watch list for the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar award for the nation’s top center. Continue reading Diamond Stone Is Still Adjusting To The College Game, And That’s OK→
The end of the regular 2015-16 NBA season will also mark the end of an era. Last night, Kobe Bryant announced that he will retire once the Lakers’ season has ended.
Bryant, a 20-season veteran has played all of his games as a Los Angeles Laker, after being drafted out of Lower Merion High School in Philadelphia in 1996 by the Charlotte Hornets and traded to the Lakers on draft night.
The story line in the SEC remains the same: Kentucky, and then everyone else. The Wildcats reloaded after last year’s 38-1 season and are once again national title contenders. Everyone is chasing John Calipari, but the gap may close in the next few years. Many teams in the conference have made a splash with their coaching hires, showing that they’re serious about taking college basketball to the next level. This is still a football conference, but SEC basketball is slowly on the rise. Here is my preview for this year, with last year’s record in parentheses.
Just like the ACC, the Big 12 has gone through some upheaval recently. In 2011 Colorado and Nebraska left to join the Pac-12 and Big 10 respectively, and just a year later Texas A&M and Missouri both left to join the SEC. Colorado and Nebraska didn’t add a lot to the conference in terms of basketball, but Texas A&M and Missouri added depth to the conference. West Virginia and TCU joined in 2012, and the Mountaineers added a solid basketball tradition. Last year the conference sent seven teams to the NCAA Tournament, with three contenders bowing out early (I’m looking at you Baylor, Iowa State, and Kansas) and two making the Sweet Sixteen. This year looks to be another strong year for the conference, and the top three teams have Final Four potential. As always, here are my expectations, with last year’s record in parentheses. Also make sure you check out my previews of the ACC and Big East. Continue reading Return of the Rock: Big 12 Preview→
Since Sean Miller took the Arizona head coaching job in 2009, the narrative of the Pac-12 season has been the same. Miller and the Wildcats have dominated the conference the past two seasons, and have had top 4 conference finishes four of the past five years. His teams have been a high point in what has been a disappointing stretch for the conference. Last season the Pac-12 sent just four teams to the NCAA Tournament, and its reputation as a premiere basketball conference continued to fall. The conference lacks depth, with its cellar dwellers being some of the worst in a Power Five Conference. This year teams are still looking to chase Arizona, but the Wildcats aren’t the obvious choice to three-peat. Here are my predictions for how the conference shakes out, with last year’s records in parentheses.
The Shirley Povich Center for Sports Journalism hosted its 10th annual symposium Nov. 10. The symposium has a different theme every year, usually centered around hot-button interests in sports both locally and nationally.
This year’s theme was Sportswriting Then & Now: With a Look at the Past & Future. The discussion featured six panelists – USA Today sports columnist Christine Brennan, Washington Post sports writer Chelsea Janes, Washington Post columnist Sally Jenkins, former Washington Post columnists and “Pardon the Interruption” hosts Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon and ESPN’s Jeremy Schaap.
Week 8 in the NFL was possibly one of the craziest weeks I have ever seen in my life. There were injuries on a scale we have not seen in a long time. Franchise players were dropping left and right. Offenses tallied insane amounts of yardage and points as defenses seemed to have forgotten how to play. Still perfect on the year, my team avoided the injury bug this week. There are a lot of moves that need to be made if you lose a key player and need a replacement, starting with these winners and losers:
Key Acquisitions: LaMarcus Aldridge (Trail Blazers), David West (Pacers)
Key Departures: Tiago Splitter (Hawks)
Projected Starting Lineup: Tony Parker, Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard, Lamarcus Aldridge, Tim Duncan
What you need to know:
It’s been a longstanding scientific and universal acceptance that time catches up to all men. Sooner or later, the effects time’s passage come to fruition in all of our lives. But you know what, I don’t buy it anymore. You can’t look me in the face and tell me that time will catch up to everybody when Jennifer Anniston is still out there as beautiful as ever. And don’t you dare tell me that time will ever catch up to the San Antonio Spurs. I have fallen for that blasphemy one too many times.
The teams of my childhood have all faded into the backdrop of mediocrity and irrelevance in some way or another. The 2000’s “7 seconds or less” Phoenix Suns, the 04-05 Detroit Pistons and Kobe Bryant’s Laker champions are all examples of teams who once stood atop the league that are no longer anything more than a memory. But somehow, the Spurs remain victorious in their combat against time. Here in 2015, they will once again be a championship contender, if not the frontrunner to take the title back home.
The Spurs are very old in some areas of their roster. Tim Duncan, while his game remains ageless, will turn 40 before the end of the season. Tony Parker is the point guard equivalent to your dad’s 1970’s Mustang that sits in the garage and sounds like it is going to break down into its individual parts every time it gets above 5 miles per hour. Manu Ginobli has more bald on his head than he does hair. What magnificent hair he had.
But they have also had a resurgence of youth. They landed the summer’s free agent prize by signing LaMarcus Aldridge, in hopes that he will be Kawhi Leonard’s partner in crime for the future. Danny Green and Patty Mills have also developed into reliable nightly producers. But most importantly, they still have the brain behind the operation, coach Gregg Poppavich.
Leonard will be the motor for this team. He is far and away the best wing defender in the league, and he has the hardware to prove it. By the end of last season, dribbling within a 5-foot radius of the 2014 NBA Finals MVP was the equivalent jumping into a tank of hungry sharks with an open wound. He will put the seatbelt on any wing player in the NBA with more care and precision than a father strapping-in his newborn baby, or me when I buckle-up my bag of to-go Chiptole in the shotgun seat. He was absolutely ruthless on that end of the floor, and has developed the offensive game to compliment his skill-set on the defensive end.
With Aldridge now, the Spurs have a new foundation for the future. They mix the old with the new in a product that will only be incredible. Unless, of course, you are an NBA team trying to figure out how to stop them. There will be bumps in the road as they incorporate Aldridge into their new system, and they very well could start the season sluggish. But make no mistake; the Spurs are going nowhere anytime soon. Hopefully, neither will Jennifer Aniston.Continue reading 2015-16 NBA Preview: Southwest Division→
With the additions of Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, and Syracuse in 2013 along with Louisville in 2014, the Atlantic Coast Conference was expected to be the toughest conference in America. Last season the ACC lived up to expectations, sending six teams to the NCAA Tournament with five making the Sweet Sixteen. The ACC is loaded again this season, with ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi putting nine of the 15 schools in his preseason bracket, but I believe as many as 13 have a chance to get there. Here is how each team looks heading into this season. Continue reading Return of the Rock – ACC Preview→