Posts Tagged ‘john calipari’

MLB Postseason Preview: Tigers vs. Athletics

Detroit Tigers (88-74) at Oakland Athletics (94-68)

OVERVIEW

Two division winners that actually trailed their divisions for most of the year face off in this series, though each team took a different path to its comeback. The Tigers were expected to win the AL Central, but underperformed all year and then snuck in when the White Sox lost 11 of their last 15 games. The A’s, on the other hand, surprised people be staying competitive all year, and ultimately finished ahead of both the Angels and the Rangers in what was probably the league’s toughest division.

LINEUPS

Obviously, Detroit has Miguel Cabrera, the first Triple Crown winner in 45 years and one of two serious MVP candidates in the AL this year.* Behind him, the Tigers have now added Prince Fielder, who justified his $214 million contract (as much as such a thing can be justified): Fielder’s numbers were great this season, if slightly less extraordinary than Cabrera’s. After those two, though, there is a considerable drop-off. It is what Jonah Keri likes to call a “Stars and Scrubs” lineup—the team was only sixth in runs scored despite having two of the best three hitters in the league (by OPS+). Jhonny Peralta returned to his subpar form, Delmon Young couldn’t maintain his production for a full year, Alex Avila took a big step back, etc. Austin Jackson had a breakout year and Andy Dirks shouldn’t be overlooked, but stopping this lineup is really about stopping Cabrera/Fielder. Continue reading

Monday Medley

What we read while Mega Millions disproved rational choice theory…

The Double Bonus: Final Four Preview

The Double Bonus podcast is back to break down the most important questions of this year’s Tournament: What was this year’s worst commercial? Are all 15-2 upsets alike? How did the winner of the West Region not start with the letter “M”? And just how bad was Duke this year? Tim and John S also break down the Final Four, and make predictions for every possible iteration of this weekend. They also break the mold with their choice of theme music. Click here to have your mind completely blown!

The Double Bonus: NCAA Tournament Preview

It’s the return of the Double Bonus Podcast! The NCAA Tournament has brought Tim and John S out of their unintentional retirement. Today they break down all four regions, pick all 32 games in the First Round (We don’t buy into the new terminology here at NPI), and make their Final Four predictions. Neither technical glitches nor an utter lack of awareness of what happened in college basketball this season slowed them down! It’s a podcast so long it had be split in two: Listen here for Part One, and here for Part Two, the grand finale!

The Double Bonus: Sweet Sixteen/Elite Eight Recap!

It’s the Double Bonus Podcast! Today John S and Tim are recapping the Regional Semis and Finals: They’re discussing more Harrellson/Zoubek comparisons, the pantheon of Duke Sweet 16 losses, the unfair maligning of Jimmer Fredette, the genius of Brad Stevens and Shaka Smart, and, most importantly, the Elite Eight run by the Gonzaga women. Click here to listen to the sweet sounds of the Double Bonus!

The Double Bonus: The Final Countdown

TIM: Four more days of lousy basketball, am I right, John? We lose all our Cinderellas by Friday, and then the refs giftwrap a Duke win on Sunday. I can’t wait for the Tournament to be ruined next year with 96 teams.

JOHN S: I hope you’re kidding. Duke’s in the Final Four! At least be excited about that. And we did get some great games last week. Michigan State and Tennessee was decided by one point, Butler upset Syracuse, West Virginia upset Kentucky in a game that can only be described as very weird, and the Duke/Baylor game was exciting throughout. But we should probably discuss the best game of the Tournament at least little, despite so much already being said about K-State vs. Xavier. I’ll ask you this: Does that game lose any of its cache because K-State lost its next game? I mean, I think if the Wildcats had managed to beat Butler and then steal the championship, that game would be put in the Pantheon with the Laettner shot. As is, it probably won’t even be as remembered as Farokhmanesh’s shot by this time next year.

TIM: You saw right through me. I totally wanted to start with K-State and Xavier, and not just because I got into a brief commenting war with a fellow named “Mikey” on Joe Posnanski’s blog about it. I, for one, thought this was the best Tournament game since 2005; if I were one of those weird people who thought the decade ended in 2010 and not 2009 and my list of the Top 10 College Basketball Games of the Decade were pushed back a year, Kansas State and Xavier likely would have fit in nicely at No. 4. Even before the game went to overtime, I remember thinking that it had been particularly well-played and was shaping into one of the Tournament’s most memorable games. Continue reading

Talkin’ Basketball: Kentucky vs. West Virginia

Once again, Tim was right and John was wrong in picking the early game. Well, they’re back for tonight’s game–John S to see if he can finally get one right, and Tim to tell you who will win. They are both trying to get over the fact that Dick Enberg is likely calling the last game of a great career tonight.

JOHN S: Alright, it’s time to move on to tonight’s game, the marquee matchup between Kentucky and West Virginia. The only Elite Eight game between the 1- and 2-seeds, this is probably the most anticipated game of this round; whoever wins this one will likely be the favorite going into the Final Four. It will also be by far the toughest contest either team has faced. Kentucky is coming off a 17-point win over everyone’s favorite Cinderella, and even though the score doesn’t really tell how close this one was (Cornell was within six with under six minutes left), it never really felt like the Wildcats were in danger, even when the Big Red were up 10-2. Throughout this Tournament, Kentucky has shown how much margin for error they have, and how much better they are than most other teams when they do everything well. Meanwhile, West Virginia hasn’t played a single-digit seed yet, but they are coming off a pretty dominant second half against Washington in the Sweet 16. So do you think the Mountaineers can give hang with the Wildcats? Continue reading

The Double Bonus: The Coaching Conundrum

With two of the four teams generally considered “elite” losing to unranked teams at home this week (Syracuse to Louisville, Villanova to UConn), Kansas and Kentucky are presumably more solidly entrenched as the two best teams, both in the rankings and in peoples’ minds. They are the only two teams left with just one loss and they are both loaded with talent projected to go in the first round of the NBA Draft (Kansas has Xavier Henry, Cole Aldrich, and Sherron Collins; Kentucky has John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, and Patrick Patterson). Kentucky, though, has already faced two close calls this week, needing overtime to win at Mississippi State, and facing Tennessee in a game that went back and forth until the Wildcats pulled away during the last eight minutes.

During that game, however, I started wondering an odd thing: Is Bruce Pearl an underrated coach? This seems like an odd thing to say about a guy whose team is coming off back-to-back double-digit losses, who has never made it past the Sweet 16 of an NCAA Tournament, and isn’t even the biggest basketball coach at his own school. He is  more known for things like taking his shirt off at a Lady Vols game and his feud with John Calipari than for anything to do with coaching.

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What Lane Kiffin Wishes He Said

New USC head football coach Lane Kiffin has taken a lot of abuse over his departure from Tennessee. In an NPI exclusive, Kiffin told us he was really torn up about the criticism, and that he wishes he could have done the noble thing and told the Trojans’ brass the following (verbatim):

Look, I’m honored, USC. You guys gave me my first legit job in football, and it’s on the strength of my work with you that I was hired not only for the Raiders’ job but also at Tennessee (because, I mean, who would hire me based on what happened in Oakland? Did you SEE that professionally presented Powerpoint? Or what Art Shell did before me and Tom Cable after me? Al Davis was right: I was the disgrace.). It’s here that I should apologize for my woeful lack of credentials; I was pretty surprised you’re even considering me after I went 5-15 with the Raiders and 7-6 at Tennessee. It’s not like I’ve proven I can recruit or anything, and I certainly don’t have the sparkling resume Pete Carroll brought in here, particularly on the college level. I know that most 34-year-olds have accomplished more than me, and quite frankly, you probably shouldn’t have even offered me the job.

I know that Southern California is one of the few schools that has a better football tradition than Tennessee. You guys have won several national titles, even in the last decade, and you’ve got like a boatload of Heisman winners, not to mention the Song Girls. Plus, you’re in Los Angeles, which I know from experience is even nicer than Knoxville, which is so nice I even named my son after it. I even know that you’re gonna offer me more money in this better location to have a better job. That’s really cool of you.

But here’s the thing: I like gave my word. Continue reading

Live Blogging ESPN’s 24 Hours of College Basketball: Evening

We’re in the homestretch now. This is Part IV of IV in our epic live blog of ESPN’s Season Tip Off Marathon. We’ve been covering it since 2 AM. You can check out the Overnight here, the Morning here, and the Afternoon here. For the Evening, both John S and Tim will cover Duke vs. Charlotte, then Tim will bring you his thoughts on Gonzaga at Michigan State and Memphis at Kansas.

12:20: Well, roughly 22 1/2 hours after we’ve started, it’s time to wrap up our live blog of the college basketball marathon. Can’t complain about those last two games: The No. 1 and No. 2 teams were taken to the wire. We discussed rust, the career of Timmy Chang, Jerry Glanville, what constitutes an X-factor, and if Temple and Georgetown played the worst half in the history of sports.

From the recliner in my parents’ basement, good night, and good luck.

12:18: After the pick with Coleman, Williams had a look from the right wing that looked pretty good–just a tad long. Can’t kill him for going for the win as the underdog.

I must admit, there was a small part of me that wanted Collins to hit both, Memphis to push the ball, and Williams to hit a game-tying three at the buzzer to send it to OT.

12:17: Tired legs: Sherron Collins comes up short on his first free throw. Memphis is out of timeouts, so you have to expect Elliot Williams and Coleman to run a pick-and-roll down the other end here. Kemp and Mack for kickouts.

12:13: Okay, Elliot. Don’t show off too much to your new friends. KU’s lead is one.

By the way, even though it didn’t work, I love how Pastner threw a zone at the Jayhawks last time down. And I love that Collins knew exactly what to do when he saw it.

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