In ATL for the Final Four

I’m up in Atlanta for the Final Four. Last year, I flew from Dallas to Gainesville to watch the games with my buddies. As soon as the tourney was over, I started pricing Final Four tickets for 2007 and making plans to get to ATL for the games. Being in Gainesville was awesome, but there’s nothing like actually being there.

So, I’m “there” and it’s awesome. Before the tourney, I had us as 50/50 to repeat (that seems conservative, but I thought it was pretty generous considering we were only 1/65 of the field). Now? I’d say we’re about 4-to-1 to repeat (and I feel that’s pretty conservative). We looked really good tonight, and we seem to be up for almost any challenge. Since we already beat OSU (yeah, they’re a different, more mature team now, but we’ve improved a lot too) by 26 in December, I feel pretty confident we can do it again.

Billy D. to UK? Not a chance.

Billy D. isn’t going anywhere. He’ll “think” about it for a few days, but then he’ll announce he’s happy in Gainesville and he’s enjoying being a part of such a promising program that is still growing. He’ll talk about how great it is for his family in Gainesville, and he’ll hint that it would be nice to have some better facilities for the team. He won’t turn down the contract extension this time, either.

UK essentially just canned a very, very good coach who has had a rough few years. Any coach can have a few bad years (we were out of the tourney after the first weekend five years in a row), and I think UK overreacted. Billy walks on water in Gainesville, and he’ll have a pass for several years, regardless of what happens. Why move to a town where expectations are so high and patience is so low? Most importantly, I think, why would Billy leave a dynasty that he is currently creating to try and revive a dying dynasty in Lexington?

One more game

I’ve been saying for a while that this team will go down as one of the best ever… but only if they repeat. This team has five thousand-point scorers, potentially something like six or seven future NBA players, three SEC championships, tons of school and NCAA records, two Final Four appearances and, so far, one Championship. If they get the win on Monday, they’ll be considered one of the best NCAA teams ever. I’m trying to enjoy every game I see because it’s going to be a long, long time before we see this kind of team with this kind of talent again.

I should mention that Chris Richard would probably be starting at 95% of the schools in the country. He’s been consistently improving this year and has really turned it on in the post-season. He’s included in the “…six or seven future NBA players…” I mentioned earlier. I don’t think he’ll be drafted, but I think he’ll be picked up by somebody, and he’ll be a solid contributor off the bench.

It’s great to be a Florida Gator.


Detroit brings the title back East

If I remember correctly, the East hasn’t won an NBA title since the ’98 Bulls, but Detroit finally brought it back thanks to a whoopin’ they put on L.A. last night. I thought they could do it, but I didn’t think they could do it so well. They literally dominated every aspect of the game and just made the Lakers look silly. I was overtly pulling for Detroit, but secretly pullin’ for Phil Jackson because he coached the Bulls to 6 championships in the 90’s. I used to be a huge Bulls/Michael Jordan fan, so I was also a Phil Jackson fan. I think it’s just too bad that, this time around, Jackson had to be surrounded with some of the cockiest basketball players in the game. Anyway, I think it’s obvious the better team won and I’m glad they could finish it on their home court, so the fans in Detroit could enjoy it even more.

Basketball league one week out

Originally, the league was supposed to start this week, but it got pushed back a week thanks to some scheduling conflicts. So, that gave our team an extra chance to practice and get used to each other. Overall, I think we have a pretty solid, well-rounded team and I really enjoy playing with these guys. We’re not a selfish team and we all seem to enjoy scoring and sharing the ball, which will help us to win games. Unfortunately, we have no idea what kind of competition to expect, so we’ll have to wait till the league starts to see if we’re any good. We have yet to play a full-court game together… the first time should be interesting.

End inarticulate blabbing.


Pistons on a roll

I think it’s obvious that Detroit is the better team, but they still have to mark one more up against L.A. before they own the series. I said it before and I still think it’s true: if Detroit doesn’t win the championship at home, they won’t win it in L.A. That being said, I think Detroit will win Game 5 because they’re just playing too well and L.A. can’t keep up with them.

Regardless, I think Game 5 will be a great game. There’s a lot of pressure on both teams and the stakes are as high as they can be in the NBA.


NBA All-Star Rookie Challenge

After Mike retired for the second time, there was a very distinct lull in the NBA, particularly regarding viewership and fan interest. Since then, many players–AI, Kobe, Vince Carter and others–have come along that prompted people to say things like, “This guy’s gonna’ be the next Michael Jordan.” I never really saw it in any of those guys and, while I don’t see it in any players entering the game today, I do see guys that may be able to have a similar impact on the sport to that of Mike, Bird and Magic.

I don’t know the stats, but I’m guessing viewership is on the rise, thanks to Melo and Bron and their abilities as showmen and athletes. As I watched the game tonight, I realized that these kids could have a tremendous impact on the popularity of the NBA and maybe even eventually on how the game is played. Of course there was a good bit of showboating tonight, but there was also a lot of team play (at least on the offensive end of the floor) and I saw guys working together to create spectacular plays almost every trip down the floor. I had to keep reminding myself that these guys are rookies and sophomores and a few of them aren’t even 20 years old.

It’s hard to imagine how good this group of guys might be in five years. I think Kobe and KG are the current poster-children for young kids being successful in the NBA, but I think there will soon be a changing of the guard as some of these new guys start taking over. Kobe can score, but his defense is weak and his team-play has always been suspect (flashback to his run of consecutive 40-point games last year where it was obvious he didn’t care as much about winning as he did about padding his stats). Bron can score, but he can also pass the ball with almost anyone in the league right now. What’s more is that I think in the next few years, he’ll emerge as one of the better defensive players in the league; I think his size, court sense and speed make it virtually inevitable.

I’m excited to see how these new kids affect the game and I hope the NBA starts getting some more primetime viewership. I miss all the hype that Jordan brought to the game and I hope the rookies can revive some of that.