Buying What Steve Lavin’s Selling?

Posted on March 3, 2011. Filed under: Basketball, NCAA | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

Steve Lavin.  St. John’s.  Steve Lavin.  Madison Square Garden.  St. John’s.  And back to Steve Lavin.  Because that’s where it all began for the Red Storm.  We’ve heard a lot about it, right?  You could probably recite the rhetoric and pass a sobriety test. 

“Only one other team in the country has beaten six ranked teams, Texas.  Senior, Dwight Hardy has averaged more than 25 points in his last nine games.  St. John’s will be in the tournament for the first time since 2002.  Steve Lavin has swag.  Want them backwards now?  Officer?”

Steve Lavin Coaching 'Em Up

The new coach has swag.  That’s why New York City’s unexpected favorite sons are winning . . . because they bought in.  All in.  The brand name pedigree of Steve Lavin made the more mature players in the program take notice.  Former Coach with six consecutive NCAA appearances and an overall record of 145-78 at UCLA?  As in John Wooden and Ben Howland UCLA?  Cha CHING.  And if these guys don’t remember him as a coach, they do from watching and listening to Steve Lavin as he was calling the games.  On ESPN.  Cha CHING.

So in addition to the name-dropping power of UCLA, Lavin has the additional ESPN credibility builder.  Add in the age a.k.a. maturity of the players, national coverage of the Big East and mystique of playing in the Garden.  Smack dab in the hub of America’s largest city.  Cha CHING.  Would you like a receipt?  Sounds like a sell to me.  And if you’re still not sure:

Success-starved New York City basketball fans will adore you.

Fans of Big East detractors will adore you too.  America loves the underdog.

You want an opportunity to catch the eye of the Association?  Hello ESPN.

As seniors, this is it.  Not only is it your last chance to impress NBA scouts, it is your last journey wearing that uniform.

WHO’S WITH ME!

Notice that’s not a question.  Because there is NO QUESTION that the AD of St. John’s made the ideal choice.  Even though the program has the 7th most wins in NCAA history (bet you didn’t know that), St. John’s has not been regarded as a top level coaching job lately and their recent history has been anything but pretty:
 

  • Norm Roberts: 32-70 in Big East play, 81-101 overall, one NIT appearance where they were ousted in the first round in 2010.
     
  • Kevin Clark: Named interim coach in 2003 after Mike Jarvis was fired.  His only season was the worst in Red Storm history, 6-21 overall and 1-15 in Big East play, and was highlighted by an on-the-road team sex scandal resulting in school suspensions, expulsions and players kicked off the team.
  • Mike Jarvis: Although he had some success with an overall record of 110-61 and several postseason runs, his coaching staff reportedly paid players, leading to a forfeiting of 43 wins during his time, including the 2002 NCAA appearance and the 2003 NIT Championship.  He was fired amidst these off-the-court scandals.  A black eye on the program.  

Enter former UCLA Head Coach and ESPN Analyst, Steve Lavin. 

Can I bag that up for you?

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It’s Time To Eat Crow . . .

Posted on May 27, 2009. Filed under: NHL | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

PITTSBURGH WANTS DETROIT:  No one in the Pens organization will say this.  So I’ll say it for them.  Bring on the Red Wings.  Even though the Chicago Blackhawks aren’t dead yet, they are excrutiatingly close to their demise and to be honest, I’d rather take on Detroit. 

Sure, there’s that sense of redemption in having the oppotunity to beat the team that beat you last year on the biggest stage in your sport.  And that would add to the ecstacy of hoisting the Stanley Cup and bringing it back to Pittsburgh.  But could it get any better than that? 

Oh yes.  It could . . . being able to wash the sour taste Marian Hossa left in the Pittsburgh Penguins organization and

Marion Hossas Last Image As Penguin

Marian Hossa's Lasting Image As A Penguin

fanbase’s mouths as he choose a single year deal to play for the team that won the Cup over them just a season ago, would be a bonus.

After playing in the 2008 Stanley Cup Finals with the Penguins, Hossa said he’d “definitely take less money to play on a winning team.”   So he promptly spurned a four to five year deal at over $7 million annually, that would have given him stability on a squad fresh off a finals run, featuring the league’s two best players, opting for a one year deal at $7.4 million to play for the Champion Red Wings who can’t put butts in the seats. 

I guess Detroit got the SELL OUT they were looking for . . .

The question is, did Hossa’s departure actually help the Penguins?  Would Pittsburgh have had the cash to sign more players and gain the depth and experience needed to make their incredible second half season and playofff run if they had inked him?

The addition of Stanley Cup Champions Billy Guerin, Chris Kunitz and Ruslan Fedtenko have injected a stability and calmness that has enhanced the Pens’ conspicuous “we’ve been here before” attitude that they have adopted throughout the playoffs.  They seem more confident and driven having experienced the bright lights of a deep playoff run and aren’t fazed by the magnitude of their success so far.  We’ll see if the outcome is different if the Red Wings beat Chicago tonight to make it the first Stanley Cup Finals rematch since the Edmonton Oilers and New York Islanders in 1984.  And we all know what happened then . . .

By the way, Guerin (14) has 2 more playoff points that Hossa, who has equaled the production of the other winger Pittsburgh brought on this year to play on Crosby’s line, Chris Kunitz, and not to mention Pens’ defenseman, Sergei Gonchar, with 12.    

It’s time to eat crow, Hossa.  

Or should we say, it’s time to choke on Penguin?  Pittsburgh is going to be shoving the puck down Detroit’s throat.

But I’m not bitter . . .

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Puck Off! A Rivals Rematch Begins Tonight . . .

Posted on April 15, 2009. Filed under: NHL | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

READY FOR A CAGE MATCH?  I don’t pretend to know a lot about hockey.  But I do know a few things.  One of them is that the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Philadelphia Flyers abhor each other.  That’s right, they hate each other so much that the word “hate” can’t describe it.  I had to dig into the vocab closet and pull out something even more nasty.  Abhor . . .

Young Penguins Fans Tell The Flyers How It Is

Young Penguins Fans Tell The Flyers How It Is

And that’s exactly how the NHL’s second season opens up in the Eastern Conference playoffs tonight.  With the disdain heavy rematch of last year’s conference finals that is sure to provoke a fight or two between fans.  Because they abhor each other too.  Here are some thoughts on what I like to call, the PUCK OFF:

The Flyers are slumping into this series having blown a third period lead during the last game of the season – played at home – against the New York Rangers, that would have given them home ice in this series.  Doh! 

The Pens are 18-3-4 since the firing of Michel Therrien and rookie head coach, Dan Bylsma, has taken the blinders off this young, offensive minded team and they are “flying” into the playoffs.  Philadelphia should be jealous . . . 

Philadelphia is healthier this year than last with their top two defensemen, Kimmo Timonen and Braydon Coburn in the lineup this time around.  That is a huge help, but is it enough to handle the talented trio of Crosby, Malkin and Staal down the middle?  

With NO apologies to Alexander Ovechkin, the Penguins have the best player in the league as evidenced by the NHL scoring title, Evgeni Malkin.  Geno is the record 13th Art Ross winner for the Penguins and not only did he lead the league in points, he also led the NHL in takeaways, creating more opportunities for his skilled offense to score. 

By the way, Sidney Crosby was third in scoring behind Ovechkin . . .

Players to watch:  Mike Richards and if he can ruffle Crosby’s feathers enough to knock him off his game.  Billy Guerin and if his veteran presence keeps the Pens even keeled and confident.  And of course, as it usually does, the play of the two netminders, Fleury and Biron, will probably decide the winner of this series.   

One of the other things I know about hockey is that the flashy Capitals’ Left Wing is a show off.  I’m waiting for someone to spear him with a stick when he skates by the Rangers bench tonight celebrating  excessively.  Jerk . . .

Oh I almost forgot a few more things: Sean Avery of the Rangers is a prick and the Flyers’ Scott Hartnell is a dirty player.  However seeing them get into it on Sunday in the waning seconds of the game as Philadelphia let home ice slip through their fingers was great and just proves Hartnell is dirty.  Avery probably deserved it for something he did previously though, because he is a prick.

Check it out:

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MLB Quick Hitters . . .

Posted on April 14, 2009. Filed under: MLB | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

As we move into the meat of the second week of the young baseball season, I have a few thoughts on what has taken place so far on the diamond:

I GOT 5 ON A STEINBRENNER EXPLODING . . . Hey Bud Selig, I would dedicate an official to monitoring Alex Rodriguez closely as he rehabs.  Someone in the Yankees organization just might try to pump him up with HGH so he can heal faster.  Cody Ransom looks lost in the field and is batting .083.  Nick Swisher is leading the team in every offensive category, which is NOT a good thing, and he pitched a scoreless eighth inning last night in the game against the Rays that should have ended in the 5th inning via the mercy rule.   Watch the madness for yourself:

P.S.  And the Pirates have a better record.  We are just starting the 2009 campaign, and Joe Girardi has got to be looking over his shoulder . . .

OH WHERE OH WHERE HAVE MY CY YOUNG AWARD WINNERS GONE?  I could have told you that Cliff Lee was going to fall off the face of the Earth this year.  In fact, I did on my radio show  when I previewed fantasy baseball action.  He was always inconsistent, and in 2007 was even sent to the minors, without pitching 100 innings at the major league level.  Could last year be an “I’m going to show them” aberration?  With an 0-2 record and an ERA of 9.90, it’s looking that way so far.  We’ll see.

Tim Lincecum is also sitting ugly with an ERA of 7.56, winless in two starts this season.  Lincecum is having trouble locating his heat with only 56.1% catching the strike zone.  Last year he had amazing command with two-thirds of his fastballs thrown for strikes as he led the majors in strikeouts.  With two seasons of work to scout, hitting coaches will have more material to research so batters won’t be as wide eyed at the plate, and that’s expected during a young pitcher’s development. 

However, I’m more confident in Lincecum shaping up once he regains confidence in his fastball than I am in Lee figuring out whatever it is that’s making last season’s performace look like mirage . . .

 

Nyjer Morgan leads the Pirates in hits (12) and average (.387)

Nyjer Morgan leads the Pirates in hits (12) and average (.387)

QUICK!  END THE SEASON . . .

At 4-3, the Pittsburgh Pirates are still above .500.  They look like they have a new attitude and it starts with their scrappy lead off hitter and left fielder, Nyjer Morgan.  He is tearing up the base paths with an OBP of .424 and 3 steals, breaking up double plays and drawing from his hockey playing days to take out catchers at the plate – just ask Ramon Hernandez of the Reds what it feels like to be bulldozed.  In Sunday’s loss to Cincinnati, Jack Wilson and Freddy Sanchez not only turned an amazing, “oh no you didn’t” double play, but they chimed in on a triple play, the first for the franchise in 16 years.  Oh, what a coincidence, the Pirates haven’t had a winning season in 16 years either . . . 

PLUS . . . pitcher Zach Duke is returning to form, undefeated in two starts at 2-0 with a minuscule ERA of .59.  Pirate fans are wearing out their knees, praying that they can keep this up, avoiding their 17th consecutive losing season and the distinguished title of professional sports’ worst franchise.  Let’s go Bucs . . .    

CARL PAVANO’S ERA IS 81.00 . . . No, that’s not a typo.  Plus he’s making $11 million this season.  Where’s Alyssa Milano when you need her?  Heck, with Cleveland’s pitching making fans sick, they’d be better off bringing in Charlie Sheen to pitch as Rick Vaughn.  At least they’d be entertained while almost winless . . .

YOU RANG?  Is it me, or does Aaron HARANG look like Lurch from the Addams Family?   At 6’7″ he’s definitely tall enough.  To get the full effect you have to pronounce Harang in the same drawn out, creepy way Lurch delivered his infamous line “You rang?”  See for yourselves . . .

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