Monday, January 10, 2005

The Weekend in Review

"Half of this won't make sense since I'm watching the Syracuse game right now" Edition

NFL Playoffs

You know how the games turned out. Let's bring back our look at ND alumni in the playoffs.

Bertrand Berry, DE - Arizona: Not in the playoffs, but he will be starting in the Pro Bowl for the first time in his career.

Jerome Bettis, RB - Pittsburgh: Bye.

Tony Fisher, RB - Green Bay: 1 rush for 4 yards, 2 receptions for 1 yard, and 1 drop.

David Givens, WR - New England: Bye.

Joey Goodspeed, FB - St. Louis: Thrown at once (screen pass), 0 receptions.

Paul Grasmanis, DT - Philadelphia: Bye.

Jim Jones, OG - Pittsburgh: Bye.

Allen Rossum, PR - Atlanta: Bye.

Gerome Sapp, S - Indianapolis: 2 special teams tackles.

Hunter Smith, P - Indianapolis: 2 punts (37 & 39 yds), both inside the 20.

Bobby Taylor, CB - Seattle: A sore knee led to 0 tackles.

Cavaliers Update

I realize that I haven't said anything on the Central leading Cavs yet this season, so here you go.

LeBron James: Coming into last year's draft, I wondered if Lebron was overrated. There was just way too much hype with this kid. Well, at 24 PPG, 7 APG, and nearly 7 RPG, I'd say he's perfectly "rated." This town hasn't seen basketball excitement like this since its new color commentator (Mark Price) played. Heck, it probably haven't seen this much excitement since its returning color commentator (one Austin Carr) played.

Zydrunas Ilgauskas: He's one of the best centers in the East, and he's a free agent after this year. He's solid offensively - his mid-range jumper puts Tom Timmermans to shame. But, before this year, he never hustled or played defense. Thanks to the increased energy of the team, his hustle and willingness to play defense has vastly improve. There's no longer a hole down low.

Jeff McInnis: This team has done nothing but win since this "problem child" joined the team. Problem child? When the coaches asked LeBron to stay after every practice to shoot threes for an hour, McInnis said "me too." The result? "J-Mac" is shooting a Ratay-esque 42% from 3 point land, and it seems like every single one is in a clutch situation.

Drew Gooden: I was worried when this black-socked, droopy headbanded fool joined the team. Thank goodness I was wrong again. The Cavs replaced a double-double power forward with another double-double power forward. Gooden is averaging 13.8 PPG and 10.2 RPG, and it's not out of the ordinary for him to get 20 in either category on any given night.

Ira Newble: The Cavs' whodat? starter at SF is played for his defense. 14 point nights like the one against the Knicks the other day are always a bonus, though.

Lucious Harris: Cleveland needed outside shooters this year. Unfortunately, Harris got off to a terrible start this year and lost his spot in the starting lineup. Fortunately, he's now picking up steam, and had 16 against New York last weekend.

Robert Traylor: Tractor's second go-round with the Cavs has been much better than his first so far. Since when was a physical presence inside a bad thing?

Anderson Varejao: The Sideshow Bob look-alike is quickly become a fan favorite. Varejao is a member of the Brazilian national team, and he's one of those players that hasn't been told yet that no one in the NBA expends any energy. Anderson is one of thos "infectuous hustle" guys. He's a power forward and can guard you down low, but he's always active and always going after the ball. Already people are predicting a long career in Cleveland for the Brazilian.

Dajuan Wagner: A pure slasher, Wagner may be the only odd-man out on this team. He's perfected the running floater, but he's not a good enough ballhandler to be a point guard. Again having a need for an outside shooter, the Cavs have tried to turn Wagner into one. Unfortunately, he hasn't been successful so far (19.2% for 3). Perhaps he should have spent more than one year at Memphis.

Aleksandar Pavlovic: In his second year, Sasha was picked up as a free agent from Utah. He was meant to be another piece of distant future puzzle for Cleveland, but he's proved that he can flat out shoot the rock this season. A mind-boggling 54.5% on threes has caused coach Paul Silas to start looking for more playing time for the young man from Serbia-Montenegro.

Eric Snow: Snow had started beside Allen Iverson for years, and he was brought in to possibly start this year. But, McInnis has proven to be the man at point, and Snow has graciously accepted his backup/veteran teacher role. I guess playing point guard for AI teaches you something about unselfishness.

Luke Jackson: If you want to talk fan favorites, Jackson is the Jill Krause to Varejao's Karen Swanson (I'll have to ask Mothball how Sasha Pavlovic fits into this analogy). Unfortunately, back problems have limited Jackson to 10 games.

Scott Williams: Hey, a veteran big man who can play defense. Brilliant!

DeSagana Diop: Diop was a first round pick once upon a time, and nowadays everyone considers him a bust. I honestly don't think the 7-footer is as bad as everyone thinks. Why get rid of him? The Eastern Conference championship now goes through Shaq and Miami, so why not stock up on as many big bodies as possible?

  • Women's Basketball: Notre Dame got out to a great start, rising to #3, before falling to Villanova on Sunday. Next up? An underdog UConn team (the underdog part scares me), and down the road - Rutgers. UConn and Tennessee are both out of the top 10 for the first time in about 275 years. Meanwhile, Rutgers has knocked off the #8, 4, and 1 teams, and still aren't in the top 10. Rutgers gives ND fits when the Scarlet Knights aren't playing well, so that'll be one to watch.

  • Men's Basketball: The window of opportunity may be closing for an Irish team that coach Mike Brey says is only "middle of the pack" this year in the Big East. Still, a 10-2 start is a 10-2 start.

  • Devil Rays sign Alex S. Gonzalez. I don't even remember which one he is any more.

  • Yankees trade Javier Vazquez and two decent prospects (C and P) for Randy Johnson. I believe it was SportsPickle who mentioned that Bud Selig was enacting the "best interest of the Yankees" clause in this one. What scares me though, is that for the last 4 years sportswriters have been handing the Yanks the championship in February. This year, we're getting "the Yankees still aren't a threat."

  • Indians sign Kevin Millwood. The deal is $3mil guaranteed for 1 year, with a conditional $4mil signing bonus. That condition? Millwood can't spend more than 20 days on the disabled list... but, that's only if it's a pitching related injury. If he hurts himself batting or fielding, those days on the DL don't count against the 20 count. Right. The Indians are also working on a minor league deal with Juan Gonzalez. Both deals are being lauded for their length and dollar value, especially in this offseason of 3 year, $36mil deals.

  • Mets sign Pedro Martinez and Carlos Beltran, and are rumored to be going after Carlos Delgado. Now, what was that about John Franco having mob ties?

  • Browns name Phil Savage GM. Savage, the former Ravens Director of Player Personnel, was with the Browns organization in the early '90s. Savage wants to put together a team that the "lost generation" of Browns fans - those who haven't seen a winner since the late '80s - can be proud of. He said he want 10 or 12 guys that fans would be proud to own a jersey of. What's up first for Savage? The coaching search. One source has Patriots Defensive Coordinator Romeo Crennel as the favorite, another says Miami interim coach Jim Bates is Savage's choice. Bates was a Bill Belichick assistant during Savage's first Cleveland stint. The fan favorite, however, is Browns interim coach Terry Robiskie.

  • Meanwhile, Browns O-Line coach Larry Zierlein has come out and said that Melvin Fowler is a better center than Jeff Faine. First of all, if you're the offensive line coach, shouldn't you have noticed that and made the change sooner? Second of all, it appears that maybe Faine has gotten worse since joining the team. But isn't that your fault? (I'm no line coach, but it appears that Faine's problem is that he always feels the need to help a guard double someone (the guards are considered the weak link of the Cleveland line), allowing a linebacker to come up the middle untouched.)

  • Dan Gilbert buys the Cavaliers, pending league approval. Gilbert was arrested in college for being a campus bookie, but that isn't expected to prevent him from getting the required approval votes from the other NBA clubs. Rumor had it that Gilbert would bring Bill Laimbeer to the Cleveland front office, but both have said that isn't the case.

  • Laimbeer, meanwhile, has named former teammate Rick Mahorn as an assistant coach. Let's make Ruth all the more dominant.

A reminder that we're still short on KankaNation HOF ballots. We could also use a few more players for KankaMatic baseball - don't worry if you didn't play last year. Returning KankaMatic baseballers - here's the first of a few new rules this year. Everyone can keep 10 players and will release the rest. Then, we'll have another draft in late February to fill out the rest of our rosters. Why? The draft is the most fun part of fantasy sports, isn't it?