Bona Basketball Non-Conference Preview: Home Version

Here is the second installment of previews, this time for the home games. These are the times that we get to ride on the opposition an hour before the game starts, the times that we allow the RC to be a feared place to travel, and the times that we get to act like complete idiots (sometimes) on national TV.

The Garbage Plates (in a good way)

11/29 vs. Niagara Purple Eagles at First Niagara Center in Buffalo, NY
This is my favorite of the non-conference schedule. Bonas will be back to play a game in Buffalo, and many students/alum will attend. It helps that the game is on the Saturday of Thanksgiving Break for students and it should hopefully have the feel of a home game. Niagara may not be as strong of a team this year, as Antoine Mason (2nd highest scorer in the country) has fled to Auburn. Who knows how far they may drop, seeing that they were already 7-26 and 3-17 in the MAAC last year. However, the game is an interesting one as the series has been close over recent history. Bonas won at NU 74-72 last year, won 80-75 at the Blue Cross Arena in ’12-’13, and won 72-70 at NU in ’11-’12. A rivalry that has gone down to the wire like that the past three years is sure to create some hype. People are questioning the George Mason game being played in Rochester; you will not hear anyone criticizing Niagara in Buffalo.

RC Café Meal

12/3 vs. Buffalo Bulls
The final rivalry game, and probably the one that gets the least love. This will be the last game for the students for over a month in the RC. Javon McCrea has moved on, but I see Will Regan filling his hole nicely. UB shot a lot of the 3-ball to beat us last year, going 8-23, not to mention us shooting 1-10 from that range. I generally felt as if that was the way to get after Bonas last year, and hope to see it improved upon. This should be a good fun rivalry game, right before the long break.

The Hickey Hamburgers (not a good thing)

11/15 vs. Dartmouth Big Green
This would fall under the category of usual tune-up game for the Brown and White. Think Abilene Christian last year or Bethune Cookman two years ago. I would hope that Bonas could handle Dartmouth, without much of a scare which came in the first half of games like this last year. We were up only eight at the half against Abilene Christian and it was 35-30 a bit into the second half against South Dakota. Darmouth went 5-9 in a bad Ivy League last year, and we are the second biggest name on their non-conference schedule (Penn State).

11/25 vs. Jackson State Tigers
If you uttered “Who?” when you first saw this, you are not an owl. They would be located in Jackson, Mississippi (ahh…I get it) and play in the SWAC. Their representative would have been Texas Southern last year in the tournament. They played in a first round 16-seed game and lost to Cal Poly. Oh you didn’t catch that game? Yeah, me either. Good game to have when probably not many students will be in the RC, as Thanksgiving Break starts that day.

12/22 vs. Maryland-East Shore Hawks
If you sounded like an owl again, I cannot blame you. I am not too sure where we find these colleges, but this is a last tune-up game for the year. They finished dead last in the MEAC last year, going 6-24 along with 4-12…so that’s good. They are a popular choice for a tune-up game as they play Nova, VCU, Duquesne, and Virginia Tech. Build some confidence going into Christmas.

Bona Basketball Non-Conference Preview: Away Version

Bona basketball is almost back as the calendar has struck October. Many of us can remember the feeling of watching Jordan Gathers find the bottom of the net to stun St. Louis last March. For me personally, it sends a chill down the spine. Those are the moments that one remembers forever and ever and the pandemonium that ensued. The Bonnies will be back in a month or so, the previews will continue to rank us low in the Atlantic 10, and if the trend continues the Bonnies will continue to surprise. I wanted to take a look at the Bonnies’ non-conference schedule (away games first) to preview the season:

The Garbage Plates (in a good way)

12/13 at Pittsburgh Panthers
This would be the one major conference game that Bonas pulls throughout the year. Last year was Wake Forest, and the two prior would have been North Carolina State. They would be 0-3 in those games, with an asterisk placed next to the NC State game at the Blue Cross. They will of course have to travel, but the good news is that it is not a long trip. It will be interesting to see what Jamie Dixon draws up against us, especially Youssou Ndoye. Pitt has one player listed at 6’10” and he saw a grand total of 23 minutes of action last year. You should have three inches on everyone on the court. Pitt may have gone 26-10 last year and 11-7 in the ACC, but they lost their two highest scorers, highest rebounder, and highest assist man.

RC Café Meal (tasty game)

11/22 at Canisius Golden Griffins
Another rivalry game, so there will of course be interest in the Western New York area. Canisius may have surprised some heads with a 21-13 and 14-6 MAAC record last year, yet Bonas trumped Baron & Co. 86-64 in the RC last season. Personally, it was one of the most entertaining games I have seen in about the four years that I have paid attention. Bonas played a complete game through and through and yelling at “three buses of Canisius fans” never gets old. Billy Baron has moved on, yet I am not sure if that is a good or a bad thing for Bonas. We looked like we were salivating to beat him. The result of this game will be an interesting one, I was disappointed when Bonas laid a duck here two years ago losing 72-69.

12/6 at Ohio Bobcats
I am glad that we get the opportunity to play Ohio again. We played a tight, contested, back-and-forth game against them two years ago. Of course, we have the infamous 4-OT Andrew Nicholson performance against them as well. This is a good team and a good test on the road, possibly as close as we can come to A-10 competition level. Ohio went 25-12 and 11-7 in the MAC last year. They return their top rebounder and second-leading scorer in Maurice Ndour, also from Senegal. He will be a tough test to bang bodies with Youssou. This is a good barometer in order to see how the team is progressing.

12/30 at Delaware Blue Hens
Probably the most difficult game to rank, it could have been listed in the category below. They are coming off of a tournament appearance after going 25-10 and 14-2 in the Colonial Athletic Association. They lost in the first round as a #13 seed to #4 seed Michigan St by fifteen. They were a high-flying scoring team last year, being the 24th ranked offense in the nation. The teams will be playing exactly 365 days after they did last year, in the RC. Bonas played a well-polished game that day and won 80-73. I was able to attend that game and two things that stick out from its box score would be that You had six…six blocks and we were up twelve at the half. Matt Wright was 10-16 for 23 points; it will be interesting to see how Bonas plays this game in their final test before A-10 play. The Blue Hens may have had a legitimate postseason run in them last year, but they lost their top four scorers for this season.

When the Hickey Has Something You Kinda-Sorta Like (it will have to do)

11/19 at Siena Saints
The Franciscan Cup, the most coveted cup in the land. This series has been in existence since 2010 and Bonas leads 3-1. However, the cup would currently be held in Albany and not Olean. Do people really care about where the cup is? I guess enough to not land it as a “Hickey Hamburger.” We lost last year due to more of a fluke than anything, the runner in the lane that landed Siena a 72-70 win on their home turf. Just to mention: why is this game on the road for us again this year? Siena played better than expected last year going 20-18 and 11-9 in the MAAC. They actually won the CBI Tournament, with wins over Stony Brook, Penn State, Illinois State, and going 2-1 in the final series against Fresno State. They return their top two scorers, and the “postseason” experience may have only helped them. It would be tough to see Siena dropping 48 in the first half like last year, yet we will see.

12/20 at Binghamton Bearcats
This is another game that I have to question why the former Brown Indians need to travel. I mean we have five non-conference home games (one in Buffalo) and six road games. It is listed in this space only due to the proximity of the teams. Binghamton was 7-23 last year with a 4-12 showing in the America East Conference. Not to mention they were 344th in the nation at 61.3 points per game. To put this team into perspective, they lost to UMass-Lowell twice last year…by twelve at home and seven on the road.

I will have the home game previews within the next few days.

Trade Bait: Jake Arrieta

Jake Arrieta is a name that some may recognize if their favorite team is in the AL East, the lowly Chicago Cubs, or have witnessed that the man has thrown a perfect game through six against the Reds and a no-hitter through seven and two-thirds action against the Red Sox recently. That is rather impressive for the man listed as the fifth starter in the Cubs’ rotation.

Arrieta has been in the bigs since 2010 and was with the Baltimore Orioles until he was traded mid-season in 2013 to the Cubs. The most starts he has ever made in a season are 22 in 2011, with most of his seasons being split between AAA and the big leagues. In the bigs he has a career record of 29-28 with a 1.37 WHIP and 4.76 ERA. Most of his seasons have been mediocre at best, all containing ERA’s north of 4.50, with the exception of this year. In what can surely be considered a small sample size (11 starts and 64 2/3 innings), Arrieta is posting a remarkable stat line. Arrieta has a record of 5-1 with an unheard of 1.01 WHIP and 1.81 ERA. In comparing his numbers to last year, he currently has 74 strikeouts compared to 16 walks while last year combined between the two teams he had 60 strikeouts and 41 walks in a span of three more starts. Now, something must have clicked for the 28 year-old right-hander. His numbers were more favorable in the second-half of last season with the Cubs than with the Orioles, but that is to be expected making the change from AL East to NL Central.

As the trade deadline rounds the corner on the MLB calendar rather quickly, many teams consider themselves to be within playoff contention. It can sometimes take one player filling a need in order to get a shot at the playoffs, where truly anything can happen. Teams looking for some starting pitcher help are already looking at the Cubs as obvious sellers. They have been noted to possibly deal their so-called “ace” in Jeff Samardzija or Jason Hammel another former Oriole. He has yet to hit arbitration yet, but maybe Arrieta could be reached for a cheaper price for these contenders. If nothing else, the Cubs all of a sudden have a #5 starter whom they are 8-3 as a team when he takes the mound.

The Red (Hot) Jays

Ahh yes the Toronto Blue Jays the one and only team from the country up north that plays America’s pastime of baseball.  They have been the laughing stock of the American League East longer than the Tampa Bay Rays have, which is saying something.  I have never feared playing the Jays, as I do not remember 1992 or 1993, but the times they say they are a changing. 

Boasting some of the best hitters in baseball, the Jays have taken control for the time being of the crazy, ever-changing of the ride that is the AL East.  Last year these Jays were supposed to be good on paper, and I guess being good on paper is good for nothing.  The Jays suffered to a 74-88 season last year, the only team under .500 in their division.  After signing big names such as R.A. Dickey and Jose Reyes fans up north were crying to their mamas.

But, what a difference a year can make in the game of baseball.  The Rays are 30-22, and are near the top of the league in almost every hitting category.  They are third in runs, sixth in average, fourth in on-base percentage, and second in slugging percentage.  They may be in the bottom third in many pitching categories, but for the better part of the last decade and change winning the AL East came from out-slugging your opponent.  Not to mention they have pitched well of late.  It is sad to see that the fans are not turning out however; I mean they have the fourth best record in baseball, and had around 15,000 people at the park yesterday.  I understand that Canada does not get the holiday for Memorial Day (had to look that up), but that is pretty rough.

Dickey this year is 5-4 with a 3.95 ERA through his first 11 starts.  He has also gone 8/11 on quality starts, meaning that he threw at least 6 innings pitched while giving up 3 earned runs or less.  Last year?  He was 4-6 with a 4.85 ERA through 11 starts and 7/11 on quality starts.  It also does not hurt to have Melky Cabrera (yeah…) be fifth in the AL in average at .322, Edwin Encarnacion tied for second in homers with 15, Encarnacion fifth with 41 RBI’s, the resurrected career of Mark Buehrle having him tied for the major league lead with 8 wins, and second in the AL with a 2.16 ERA. 

These birds may be nothing to joke about no more…

Revolutionary Player

Well I have been quite the busier sports blogger…not quite.  I have missed too many things over the past few months in the sports world, yet a lot is currently happening today.  I wanted to take a look at the second greatest jersey seller from this weekend’s NFL draft…Michael Sam.  He is without a doubt one of the biggest figures to come out of this 2014 NFL draft, this draft will be remembered for Johnny Manziel’s slide down the first round and Sam being the first ever openly gay active football player to play in the NFL with the St. Louis Rams.  Sam was drafted 249th overall in the 7th round, oddly enough to a team that had the best defensive line in the NFL last year.  I say oddly, as Sam is a defensive end, and unless it was a pure depth pick, why do the Rams want Sam?  I heard on the radio today that people were questioning if the pick was essentially forced on a team.  The argument being that how bad would the NFL look if after some 250+ draftees, Sam was not one of them?  I mean if you really stop to think about it there is no possibly freaking way the thought did not go through Commissioner Roger Goodell’s mind on Saturday.  It would be the worst PR story, since well probably Michael Vick.  I guess one could also argue that the Rams like the SEC Co-Defensive Player of the Year, or the fact that his jersey sales will be the greatest ever for a 7th round pick.  It is an interesting argument to ponder at the least. 

Also, why are the Miami Dolphins a team of buffoons?  After getting picked ESPN had cameras at Sam’s house, which showed him kissing his boyfriend immediately after, Don Jones (cornerback for the Dolphins and someone no one had ever heard of before) tweets something along the lines of OMG…that’s horrible.  What in the bloody world could someone be thinking as they type that tweet?  Unless their mind time-morphed back to the 1950’s, they should not have passed grade school.  If Jones was trying to “make a name for himself” well he found the exact wrong way to do it and may not even be able to try on Sundays this fall.

Best of luck to Michael Sam, I do like him as a player and think that he could be a decent rotational guy this year in the trenches for the Rams.  The NFC West is top to bottom scary this upcoming year and may be the best race going.

It’s All About Style Points

What is the one thing that is the key to sports you say?  Ahh…the answer would be confidence.  If you think that anyone has done anything masterful in the sports world without a bit of “I know I can freaking do this” in their head then you are blasphemously incorrect sire.  An object that can create quite a stir that goes hand-in-hand with confidence would be the uniform that a player is waltzing out onto the field with.  In today’s day and age, there is often a great deal of effort put into a team’s uniforms and can of course increase revenue for a team (or not) and get the fan base hyped for the next season.

The Good

The Anaheim Ducks on 10/13/13 against the Ottawa Senators

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As an homage to the team’s twentieth year in existence at the beginning of the season the Ducks had a 90s night and adorned the beautiful looking Mighty Duck uniforms.  The Ducks, who are tearing apart the league this year, should probably always have a 90s night because there is nothing to not love about these unis.  Not a coincidence that the Ducks also dominated 4-1 in the game.  Always have to use the retro unis when given the chance in NHL.

The New Weekend Look for the Lehigh Valley Ironpigs

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You may be asking who in the world the Lehigh Valley Ironpigs are, and that is a fair question.  They are an AAA baseball team in the International League, and affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies.  Now let me tell ya, there must be some marketing wizard pulling the strings for these so called Ironpigs.  They recently released what their uniforms will be on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays at home this season and they slay.  Fridays feature a “forged from steel” pig head, Saturdays feature a bacon hat (yes, I said bacon hat!) and Sundays their hats will feature the Liberty Bell, all with very different tops to go with them.  I would consider buying the bacon hat…just do not want to look like Homer Simpson.  Maybe the Ironpigs will feel the empowerment of the bacon.

Runner-Up: 2013 Seattle Seahawks…killing the neon green.

The Bad

Syracuse Orange on 2/19/14 vs. Boston College Eagles

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Now my two favorite colors are interchangeably blue and orange.  The sad thing about these two is that they do not necessarily match well when put together.  Someone needs to tell that to whoever makes college basketball jerseys for Nike.  The Syracuse Orange adorned an odd retro orange top with dark navy blue shorts this past week.  No one could make the argument that at least they looked good while getting beaten at home to an out of nowhere Boston College team.  Maybe Jim Boeheim will check if his team has matching uniforms the next time they go for a retro night.

2013 Jacksonville Jaguars

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Now it’s bad that the city of Jacksonville has to put up with a terrible team…but now they need to look bad when doing it.  With a fading in and out helmet along with a radical change in color of the jersey, the Jags looked downtrodden from the get go this season.  Not that Maurice Jones-Drew could feel good playing for a team that its own city does not care about, but now Pocket Hercules cannot be confident in his own uniform!  The Jags are one of the laughing stock franchises of the NFL and the decision to go with these uniforms only solidified that.  No one jump on the Jag Wagon please.

Runner-Up: 2013 NBA Christmas Day Jerseys

The Ugly

2014 NBA All-Star Game

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Nike had almost too many possibilities of directions to go with the uniforms for this year’s All-Star game and they failed miserably.  I am sure that there wanted to be the inclusion of the colors picked due to the weekend taking place in New Orleans and Mardi Gras coming up.  However, they may be the ugliest things I have seen to step out onto a court.  I am sure every player was glad to only have to wear them for one evening.  The East’s were exceptionally worse than the West’s…starting to see a trend with that this year.

Any team that has not had a change in forever

I am all for sticking to the basics and realize that there may be too much history in a franchise’s uniforms.  However, if done properly it can be a great thing to do for a fan base.  If they can get a good enough design and not look like a complete idiot, such as some of these teams…then someone is going to look like a genius.  Also, never ever be afraid to host a retro night and wear past jerseys.  I would prefer to see the early-2000 look of red, black, and white once again on the Buffalo Sabres…maybe it would bring some good fortune.

Runner-Up: 2013 Miami Dolphins with the new Sea World looking logo

The Catch-Up

Terribly sorry for not having written one of these in well… a month.  I have been a bit tied up and will be doing better in the future to keep them coming at a bit more regular of a basis.  For this post I figured I would just jot down a few thoughts on various sports that have been going on in the past month or so.

NFL

Oh right, yes, the biggest sporting event of the year happened in this past month.  I can sadly say that I indeed did watch the entire thing yet am not sure why I continued to do so.  For all the analytics that happen going into the game, it was surprising to see no one realize that Seattle’s bruising linebacker and even safety (Kam Chancellor) group were the perfect antidote for the record breaking offense of Peyton Manning’s Broncos.  The NFL had to be tearing itself apart for the snoozer of a game…and it seems as I grow with age the commercials just get worse.  Old Spice should have saved its mom commercial for a debut at the Super Bowl…I probably would have bought 3 cans instead of 1.  Oh and throwing an incredible amount of the Combine in my face does not exactly excite me either.

NBA

The All-Star break has come and past with its let-me-throw-gimmicks-in-your-faceness and some of it was exciting to watch, I suppose.  The Dunk Contest just made no sense, I get declaring that a conference won the night, but it really took the flair out of each dunk.  Just say John Wall won for the Eastern Conference…and therefore the Eastern Conference won the event…not the team of the Eastern Conference did, that just makes no sense.  I have never realized how few games actually come after the All-Star break, leading to the playoff race heating up.  Sad that in both leagues there are maybe (big maybe) ten teams vying to receive a spot.  And you and I both know that the Detroit Pistons or Cleveland Cavaliers are not a playoff team any day of the week.

Olympics

Well I have never known that there are so many different types of figure skating, but being in college and watching the Olympics around the clock will make one realize this.  I love winter sports (skiing/boarding) and this Olympics simply made me realize how much greater the Summer Olympics are.  I can get pumped for a swimming event, not quite the umpteenth ski jumping event.  Really think that Dan Blysma did not do a perfect job to try and earn the bronze medal on Saturday.  I understand that the goal was gold, but they were just overmatched against the Canucks.  However, why not just say hell we will start Ryan Miller and give him one last shot for a bit of glory?  It did not look like anyone else actually wanted to be there to me.  Needless to say the Olympics actually made me excited for the World Cup this summer.

NCAAB

The Cardiac Kids that are developing in Central New York are quite remarkable.  The amount of times that the Syracuse Orange have snuck off of someone else’s court with a win that was really not their own is incredible.  It finally has bit them in the butt the past two games, yet they would still be a #1 seed in the tourney if the selections were right now.  An interesting match-up looms with the conference leader and awfully hot Virginia Cavaliers this Saturday.  The reason that college sports can tend to be more entertaining than their pro counterparts is the emotion that comes from the coaches and players in every game, especially this time of year.  Boeheim, Mr. Calm Cool and Collected, nearly popped an artery on Saturday night after the extremely close charge/block call that swung the moment of the game largely away from the Orange.  The fact that no one is talking about is that the game was NOT over due to the call; the game was over because Boeheim lost his shiza.  I do not see Eric Spolstra doing that over a Miami Heat loss, but that also comes with how meaningful every game is in a thirty or so game season compared to eighty-two. 

MLB

I understand that the season has not come yet, but for starters there have been some major moves in free agency.  Most recently, I really liked the Orioles move of taking a chance on Nelson Cruz.  I am not backing the man taking roids, but he has always intimidated me in the Texas Rangers line-up…and generally most of the guys the Orioles field do not threaten me of the home run.  Just today the MLB announced the implementation of the experimental “almost-no-collision-at-home-plate rule.”  All for players’ safety, but the rule just sounds nearly impossible to nail with the bang-bang plays at the plate that exist in baseball.  Every time one happens now, you might as well mail it in that the umps will have to go to the monitor.  Games are long enough, and we will see the average game time rise this year.  Not something a sport that is often referred to as boring should be doing.  Why limit one of the more exciting plays of the sport already?

Mid-Major Recognition

One of the biggest trends within college basketball is the fact that mid-major conferences are starting to gain respect in the polls because well their conferences/teams deserve it.  I wanted to take a quick glance at some of these teams that maybe someday ESPN will start to give recognition to…that is if others will tune in.

Image    The Wichita State Shockers “shocked” the nation this past March as they made their improbable trip to the Final Four and were four points away from the Finals despite being a #9 seed.  They only return one of their top 5 scorers from last season, but he was their best last year and remains so this year: Cleanthony Early.  Early made quite a name for himself in the tournament last year.  They are currently 20-0 and 7-0 within the Missouri Valley Conference this year, with their best wins coming at St. Louis on December 1st and at a neutral site against BYU on November 26th.  Being the #5 team in the country currently, the Shockers are more than likely going to end up with a #1 or #2 seed in March, barring a complete collapse in their conference.  It will be interesting to see if the bracket fillers believe in them or not.  They play tonight at 11-8 Drake.

ImageThe San Diego State Aztecs are a part of one of the most entertaining conferences in the nation in my opinion: the Mountain West.  Much like the Pac-12, west coast teams play a much different style of basketball compared to the usual big house names on the east coast.  The Aztecs were a #7 seed in the tourney last year, but are garnering even more attention this year as they are #7 in the nation.  The Aztecs defeated the Oklahoma Sooners by fifteen in the second round, and loss to the sparkling Dunk City antics of the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles.  They are an incredibly deep team, easily using 9-10 players a game, and return two of their top five scorers from last year.  It also doesn’t hurt to have the fourth best big man in the game with Josh Davis having 11.5 rebounds a game.  They are currently 17-1 with a perfect conference record, and play at Utah State tonight.  Their only loss came to the now #1 team in nation, Arizona Wildcats, and has impressive wins at Kansas and on a neutral site against Creighton.  Think they have a lot more of a chance to be tripped up a couple of times in the MW compared to Wichita State.

ImageThe Massachusetts Minutemen are having quite a spectacular season under Coach Derek Kellogg, only losing for the second time this past Wednesday and are 16-2 while 3-1 in the A-10.  This team was bounced in the first round of the NIT last year, but looks poised to do some serious damage this year.  That is largely due to one man: Chazz Williams.  If you do not know who that is, you should probably approach watching an A-10 game and see the kid play.  Listed at 5’9” and 175 lbs. the senior point guard leads his team with 15.8 points per game and is third in the nation with 7.3 assists per game.  Coming off their recent loss to the Richmond Spiders, the Minutemen will slightly drop in the polls, but are currently 13th in the nation.  The A-10 is much less forgiving than the previously two listed conferences, but the Minutemen are a tournament team barring collapse.  Joe Lunardi of ESPN lists them as a #5 seed in the tourney if it started today.  I think this team has the ability to slip under the radar and take down say a #4 in the third round.  They play tomorrow at home against Fordham.

Closer Look: Richard Sherman

What looked like two possible clunkers of conference championship games heated up quickly Sunday in the second half of the NFC Championship game.  Arguably, what the game will be remembered for are the thirty-second spotlight in which the sporting world turned to Richard Sherman.  If you have yet to see the interview, well yeah you should go do that right now.  He went on to make the point that he is the greatest shutdown corner in the game, and that’s why you don’t go after him.  I am just gonna assume that the guy was so jacked up that those words slipped out, but he is known for the trash-talking and such.  I figured why not look at some numbers to see if this is true.  FOX Sports has tweeted in the past few days that Sherman is first in the league in deflected passes and interceptions I believe since he came into the league, presumably agreeing with them.  A writer for Pro Football Focus (PFF) tweeted quickly after the comments were made that Erin Andrews should have stated that PFF actually has him ranked as the sixth best corner.  One of the best ways to look at shutdown corners, for me, is to see how they match-up against some of the best receivers in the game.  So, I made a list of some people that I would consider possibly the best shut-down corner in the game: Darelle Revis, Patrick Peterson, Joe Haden, and Sherman.  My quick pick of a top-list of receivers in the game looks something like this (I literally thought about this part for five minutes, so don’t rip): Josh Gordon, Demaryius Thomas, Calvin Johnson Jr., A.J. Green, Brandon Marshall, Dez Bryant, Antonio Brown, DeSean Jackson, Andre Johnson, and Larry Fitzgerald.  I’ll take a look at when these corners matched-up with these receivers and see how they did:

Please note…I realize that these corners do not simply follow around the receivers all game, but it helps for my argument sake, without re-watching games or getting highly sophisticated statistics.

Revis:  Week 4 vs. Fitzgerald, Week 6 vs. Jackson, Week 12 at Johnson Jr.

Week 4- Fitzgerald has 6 catches for 68 yards and a touchdown to tie the game.  Revis has a passed defended and an INT.

Week 6- Jackson has 6 catches for 64 yards and two TDs.  Revis does recover a fumble in the game.

Week 12- Johnson Jr. has 7 catches for 115 yards. 

Peterson: Week 2 vs. Johnson Jr., Week 10 vs. Johnson, Week 13 at Jackson

Week 2- Johnson Jr. has 6 catches for 116 yards and two TDs.  Peterson gets a pass deflection.

Week 10- Johnson has 5 catches for only 37 yards, but two TDs.

Week 13- Jackson has 3 catches for 36 yards, meanwhile Peterson has two passes defended.

Haden: Week 4 vs. Green, Week 6 vs. Johnson Jr., Week 11 at Green, Week 12 at Brown, Week 15 vs. Marshall

Week 4- Green has 7 catches for 51 yards.  Haden has two passes defended.

Week 6- Johnson Jr. has 3 catches for 25 yards.  Haden defends one pass.

Week 11- Green has 2 catches for 7 yards.  Haden has two interceptions, a defended pass, and a touchdown.

Week 12- Brown has 6 catches for 92 yards and a TD.  Haden defends three passes.

Week 15- Marshall has 6 catches for 95 yards and a TD.  Haden defends another pass.

Please note that Haden did not play in the regular season finale against the Steelers again.

Sherman:  Week 4 at Johnson, Week 7 at Fitzgerald, Week 16 vs. Fitzgerald

Week 4- Johnson Jr.  goes for 9 catches for 110 yards.  Sherman has an INT for a TD, and defends two passes.

Week 7- Fitzgerald has 2 catches for 17 yards.  Sherman has an interception and two passes defended.

Week 16- Fitzgerald puts up 3 catches for 18 yards.  Sherman has 2 INT’s and 2 passes defended.

 

 

In conclusion, Sherman does an excellent job matching up against a rough estimation at the top receivers in the league.  I realize that he may only have three games in this case, but in those three games he had four picks…I think the only other guy to really make a case for is Joe Haden.  Quarterbacks truly just avoid throw in the direction of both players.  Peterson is an excellent, young player who adds to a team with his return game and actual running back ability.  I personally think Revis is on a large down-swing and was not the greatest free agent signing by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.  Someone else to consider would be the combo of Charles Tillman/Tim Jennings with the Chicago Bears.  Tillman only played half a season this year, but they are both true ball-hawks.  Sherman may seem condescending and wants to say what is in his mouth…but he may just have the ability to back it up.  Just go ahead and ask Carson Palmer and Larry Fitzgerald.

The East is the Least

As the NBA season is nearly upon its midway point, one of the stories of the first half has to have been the inequalities that are existing between the Eastern and Western Conferences.  It is entertaining to just look at how terrible the East is actually doing.  There are currently only four teams above .500 in the East, with two of them only being a game above.  If someone were to predict anything but the Indiana Pacers vs. the Miami Heat for the Eastern Conference Championships, they might get made fun of by their peers.  I am not trying to say that the Heat or Pacers are not quality competition, but the rest of the conference is just filled with mediocrity.  Currently, there are three teams that are 1-9 or worse in their last ten games: the Boston Celtics, the Orlando Magic, and the Milwaukee Bucks.  It should not have to be a storyline for a team to be “getting hot” when their overall record is 16-22 and yes I am talking about you Brooklyn Nets.  Unbelievably, there are two teams who would currently not even make the playoffs in the Western Conference who would be the third and fourth seeds in the East: the Memphis Grizzlies and the Denver Nuggets.  Those are two teams that people have exclaimed have been struggling all year…not exactly struggling in a different conference.

I figured I could take a look at how much the West must be dominating the East when they play against each other.  The entire Eastern Conference is 70-139 against the West, through the early afternoon game on January 19th.  That match-up happened to be the Los Angeles Lakers at the Toronto Raptors, a West vs. East showdown.  Now most sports fans know that the Lakers are on a major down-swing and the Raptors are actually one of the teams a game above .500 in the East, but even that ended in a win for the West and Lakers.  If you were to take out the records of the Pacers and Heat against the West, both being impressively 10-2, the East would be 50-135 a ridiculous .270 win percentage.  They almost are not even competitive.  The Detroit Pistons would be the number seven seed in the East if the playoffs started today and they are 2-12 against the West.  You might as well be saying that they are 2-12 against stiff competition. 

My point is…how is one conference being so dominant compared to the other?  Does this not lead to a pretty boring half of your playoffs, although a pretty compelling other half?  The current 1-7 seeds in the West are all impressive teams and I could see the Dallas Mavericks playing at least an interesting seven-game series against the San Antonio Spurs…can’t quite say that about the Pistons and Heat in my mind.  Also, the eighth seed will be earned and not just backed into.  Much more excited to watch the West down the stretch.