Thursday, May 28, 2009

College hoops nuggets...

I correctly predicted on here last June that UNC would be the 2008-2009 college basketball champions. Now that the top prospects are falling into place, it appears another school is preparing for a return to dominance - the Kentucky Wildcats. Bringing over one of the top coaches in America along with 1 and done blue chip recruits John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins, Kentucky is my early pick to take the title in 2010. With Daniel Orton already signed, Patrick Patterson coming back, and Jodie Meeks likely to follow, the talent level in Lexington is going to be ridiculous. Check out the 2-deep depth chart:

Wall / Bledsoe
Meeks /Liggins
Stephenson / Harris
Patterson / Miller
Cousins / Orton

That is four 1st round picks in the starting five and they are surrounded by outstanding role players/athletes that were brought in by the previous regime (unfortunately for them, guys like Perry Stephenson are not 1st of 2nd options on championship teams). They will, however, flourish as a supporting cast to Wall, Meeks, Patterson, and Cousins.

There doesn’t appear to be another team in Kentucky ’s league at this point. Kansas brings back an outstanding inside/outside combo in Collins and Aldrich. They also signed Xavier Henry and some others and will certainly be in the mix. However, too many of the other potential contenders lost more than they can handle in early entries to the draft (UNC, Cuse, UConn, Zona, USC, Louisville ).

Look for Kentucky to struggle a bit out of the gate and lose 3-4 before Christmas before jelling together in January. Coach Cal has been to the dance and had success before, but 2009-2010 will be Title #1 for him.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Hawks talk...

The Hawks season is now over and in the next couple days we can speculate how this team can get to the next level. It seems quite clear that with the current nucleus this is not an NBA Championship team. The question then becomes, what will the front office do now? Do they try and add a free agent or 2 and use their 1st round pick or do they make a major trade involving their draft pick and part of their nucleus?

While this is a deep draft, there are not many impact players. There is probably not anyone at #19 that will make a major impact next season. It will be a tough sell to the fans if an identical team is brought back after getting destroyed in the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals.

There are some creative strategies that could be instituted this summer. Sign and trades with ZaZa, Bibby, or Murray are a possibility. Trading draft picks and players for veterans is also an option. Further, if Amare Stoudemire is available, I say do what you have to do to get him in Atlanta .

This is one possible summer that I think could lead to the Hawks to somewhere they have never been, the Eastern Conference Finals:

Trade Smith/Law/Future 1st to Phoenix for Amare
Draft Tyreke Evans
Resign Bibby/ZaZa/Murray
Extend Marvin

This addresses two of the Hawks biggest weaknesses that have been exposed this post-season. 1) No inside presence and 2) No dribble penetration threat

Amare would give the Hawks an inside presence they have never had before and T. Evans is a physical guard that can defend and get to the basket or drive and dish. Getting T. Evans and Murray in the game at the same time would give Atlanta 2 options that can drive and help to create open shots for Joe, M. Evans, and Marvin.

Bibby / T. Evans
Johnson / Murray / West
Williams / M. Evans
Horford / Solo
Amare / ZaZa / Morris

If you can’t get a Wade/Kobe/Lebron, it is necessary to have a dominant inside force if you are to compete for championships. If Amare is indeed available this off-season, do what it takes to get him here. With Boston aging and Orlando not having a lot of salary cap space to improve, I think the team listed above could earn the #2 seed in the East next season. But, knowing the ASG, we will take BJ Mullens in the draft and have a similar season to this one.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Some Draft talk...

Those that read this blog last summer know how much I enjoy the MLB Draft. While over half of the 1st round picks that are going to be made this June will never sniff the Big Leagues, the strategies and local flavor always get me excited about this event.

This year is no different. Actually, there is one big difference in the draft order. The Braves hold the 7th pick this year after a horrendous 72-90 season last year. No more “hold your breath and pray Jason Hayword drops to us” moments. The Braves can take just about anyone they want that is not named Steven Strausburg. Plus, there is a local high school product that would make perfect sense with this 7th pick, Donovan Tate.

Donovan is the son of Lars Tate, former UGA and Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back. He is an elite football player, signing a scholarship to play both football and baseball at UNC-Chapel Hill. But he will never become a Tar Heel. His baseball gifts remind scouts of B.J. Upton, a former #2 overall pick. He is an athletic outfielder with a good arm and powerful stick - probably too good of a prospect for Atlanta to pass on.

The draft also has a local flavor with UGA’s Rich Poythress a possible top 15 pick. Poythress, out of Augusta , has been among the top 1-2 in the SEC this season in AVG, HR, RBI, Runs, OBP, SLG, and Walks. He compares favorably to last seasons first basemen that went in the top 10, Yonder Alonso and Justin Smoak. Also at the collegiate level, Kyle Heckathorn (6’6 RHP from Kennesaw St ) is a probably 1st round pick.

At the high school level, talents Luke Bailey and Zach Wheeler are likely to join Tate as 1st round picks. Bailey, out of Troup High in Lagrange, has a 1.78 pop time behind the plate and hits for ton of power (Auburn signee). Wheeler, from East Paulding, is a right-handed pitcher who throws 93-94 with a devastating slider.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Lets get it cranking again!

Its been a while, so lets start with some musings...

Loved the draft for the Falcons, got a DT starter in the 1st and a freak athlete safety in the 2nd. Looks like Owens and Sidbury will be at least backups as rookies. The Draft is the key to the NFL, because if you don't draft backups and special teams guys along with your 1st day picks, you end up killing your salary cap signing veterans to fill those roles...

Glad to see Jeff Francoeur get off to a good start...even his outs look good some of the time. Everything I read about Jason Heyward says he will be a complete stud. Off to an OK start this year in Myrtle Beach - .277-3-10 through Sunday. He went 1-4 in the game yesterday, a loss to Salem, where the Myrtle Beach Braves were beaten by Jose Capellan (of Dan Kolb fame). Have all of the Braves so-called "Aces of the future" since Smoltz/Avery/Glavine came along ever turned into All-Stars? Jason Schmidt maybe? There have been way too many Bruce Chen/Jose Capellan/Anthony Lerew's. Trade Tommy Hanson now!

Hawks on to Round 2 tomorrow night. Unless they sweep the 2 at home, this looks like a 5 game series at best. I just don't see LeBron letting up in any game as he seems to be on a mission this year. Big Z also gives us all sorts of problems inside that Miami couldn't...Draft a young PG and an atheltic big and lets keep moving in the right direction after this.

It's only Monday, but these funny stories are already in the headlines...

1) Super-recruit John Wall breaking and entering before signing a letter-of-intent.

2) Oliver Perez siging a huge deal and then being sent to the bullpen after developing Mark Wohlers disease.

3) Biren Ealy and Kolomona Kapanui of the New Orleans Saints getting drunk and then showing their junk to 2 random women at an apartment complex.

4) Joba Chamberlain's Mother is a Meth addict. At least she will be easy to buy for with Mother's Day coming up this weekend.

5) A Mexican soccer player spit and snotted on an opponent and told him he had Swine Flu in the 90th minute of a match.