The Redemption Of Tommy Amaker

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Tommy Amaker HarvardThis first published on Vavel USA

The first round of the NCAA basketball tournament, as it seems to every year, bring some surprises which put an exclamation on the seasons of certain teams and coaches, especially when that season ends with a loss in the first round. This year just has the feel of a year where the tournament  could see all manner of upsets and bracket busting. Arguably, the best underdog story line that is being written as of the time this article is the Harvard Crimson moving on to the second round of the NCAA tournament to face prohibitive favorite, and chic championship pick, Michigan State.


This is the second consecutive year that Harvard has won its first round NCAA tourney game and also its second tournament victory in its entire basketball playing history. Head coach Tommy Amaker has taken the Crimson to heights never before seen in Cambridge. Now, it seems like every year we see a mid-major making some noise in the tournament by winning its first game and becoming media darlings for 48 hours or so before the inevitable elimination by one of the big boys. Certainly, in recent years mid-majors such as George Washington, Virginia Commonwealth, and Butler have done much more than that going all the way to the Final Four in a couple of instances. But there is something special about a non-athletic scholarship Ivy League program reaching these heights. And there is no way that one can separate the Crimson’s success on the court from its head coach. Continue reading

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Red Wings Defeat Pens 5-4 In OT Thriller

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Daniel AlfredssonIt would be hard to overstate the importance of the Detroit Red Wings 5-4 OT win over the Pittsburgh Penguins in terms of Detroit’s psyche in its quest to make the playoffs for a 23rd straight season while-almost literally-half of its roster is injured.

The game was fast paced and crisp, as almost any game including the offensively sublime Penguins will be. Daniel Alfreddson got the Wings going with a goal in the 1st period, and Detroit held a 1-0 lead going into  intermission. Pittsburgh was relatively sluggish in the opening period, with Detroit’s army of youngsters providing some energy and jump on the puck. Rising star Gustav Nyquist-arguably the Red Wings MVP in the absence of superstars Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk-put the Wings up 2-0 with a bank shot off Pens defenseman Rob Scuderi-in what would turn out to be  foreshadowing-on a Detroit power play. Continue reading

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Selection Sunday Show

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March MadnessThe podcast of our 3 hour special NCAA Basketball Tournament Selection Sunday show. I was joined by special guests Scott Blumstein and Ben Anderson, both of Vavel USA , along with the irrepressible Chandler Knight for a thorough discussion of all things college hoops as the excitement of Selection Sunday unfolded. We debated the merit of who should have gotten that last, coveted Number #1 seed that ultimately went to Virginia. find out which one of us said it should be Wisconsin. We also “went there” on the divisive topic of Wichita State. Have they already proven themselves or is the Tournament the only thinig that matters? Are they being shown “disrespect” by being seeded in the incredibly tough Midwest Region? No Selection Sunday podcast would be complete without talking about who got “jobbed” by the committe  (SMU, UWGB) and why.  You’ll even hear some early predictions (one of us has Kentucky…Kentucky?)coming out of the Midwest. Plus much more hoops talk. Also, don’t forget to join our Tournament challenge and fill out your brackets.

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Barry Switzer Gets It (Way) Wrong

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Barry SwitzerVery disappointed in the comments I heard today from legendary coach Barry Switzer about the fact that he wouldn’t “recruit a white quarterback”. Switzer was speaking in response to a question evaluating the pro prospects of Johnny Manziel, and he was in no way “bated” into his response. I think he 1) Apparently thought that it was alright to make a racist comment about white quarterbacks because he is white and 2) didn’t realize how stereotypically offensive his comments were to quarterbacks. Both of these are completely unacceptable. I’ve always been a fan of coach Switzer, but he was just very, very wrong here. We had a good discussion on this topic during the last hour of the Sports Wrap podcast.

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(The audio is ended abruptly at the 3 hour mark.)

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See What I Meant About Franzen?

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Johan FranzenLooks like I’m not the only one who thinks Johan Franzen has to be big if the Red Wings are to make a playoff run without Henrik Zetterberg and have a shot at hoisting the Cup again. Haven’t done that since ’08, been too long. BTW, the Mule racked up a hat trick in the 6-1 win over Ottawa last night.

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Why The Houston Texans Must Take Jadeveon Clowney

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JadeveonClowney3Now that the NFL scouting combine are in the books, a nation full of draftniks will begin furiously churning out their mock lists and debating on who the Houston Texans should take with number one overall selection next May. From this vantage point, the decision is clear. We all know that Houston needs a quarterback and we also all know that the “safest” thing an organization can do is to draft a quarterback when they’re coming off the worst season in the NFL. Not coincidentally, this usually gives the new coaching staff and/or new management, which is so often coming in at the same time as a franchise has the number one pick, just a little bit more time if not the complete benefit of the doubt.

Think about it, when quarterbacks are drafted high and they fail, the organizations are rarely blamed. Fans will be making fun of Ryan Leaf, JaMarcus Russell, and others for years to come. When was the last time you heard anybody make fun of the San Diego Chargers for drafting Ryan Leaf? You don’t, it’s almost as if the team is the victim when the high round bust is a quarterback. Any other position, and it’s the team that gets the blame when the pick doesn’t go right. It probably hasn’t been six months since the last time you heard a crack or snide remark, for example, about the Detroit Lions drafting Charles Rogers and Mike Williams. All this is said to say that it usually makes sense when you’re 2-14 sitting at number one to go ahead and draft that precious QB. Continue reading

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