Saturday, December 30, 2006


Anyone wanna guest blog tomorrow nights Cavs-Bulls game? I'm gonna be on the road for most of it. Also, I'll be in Arizona from Jan. 5th-12th, anyone wanna do some recaps then?

Friday, December 29, 2006

Does this count as the third?

James Brown

Jimmy Carter

Gerald Ford

Saddam Hussein

Do planned deaths count or are we still waiting for a third famous person?

Cleveland 109, Milwaukee 99

First half = good. 60 points scored. 40 points given up. Yes. Fast breaks, assists, rebounds, defense. It all was working.

Second half = meh. Predictably, the Bucks staged a comeback. Of course they did. I mean, it's too much to ask that the Cavs play two good halves right? I know, they still won by ten and it's good that once the Bucks made their run the Cavs took control again. But still, this game didn't need to be this close.

Z is partly to blame for this. The man was in foul trouble all night long and when he was out in the second half, you could really tell. The offense just stagnated, everyone was standing around and dribbling. Z finished with 8 points and 7 boards in only 22 minutes (he did have 3 assists, with two of them coming off the high post to LeBron)

No Wild Thing. Z's foul trouble hurt more cause Anderson Varejao was out with a neck injury.

Where's Pollard? You'd figure with Varejao out, that the Cavs would've activated Scot Pollard. But no. But hey, at least Ira Newble dressed.

Donyell Marshall showed up. And I mean really showed up, 29 points, 10 rebounds, 3 steals, 2 assists and a block. This was by far his best game as a Cavalier. Marshall had 18 points in the first half and he also hit some big shots (threes) down the stretch as the offense stagnated. He was 7-10 from behind the arc. 7-10.

Larry Hughes versus Michael Redd. I'm sure I wasn't the only Cavalier fan interested to see how these two matched up. Hughes finished with 26 points (on 10-17 shooting), 4 assists and 3 rebounds. Redd had 24 (5-16), 2 assists and 1 rebound. Redd got most of his points from the foul line, as he shot 14 free throws (and made 14). Surprisingly, Hughes was better from downtown (Hughes was 2-3 while Redd was 0-3).

Redd's problem? Eric Snow. After shutting down Joe Johnson two nights ago, Snow harassed Redd to a hard earned 24 points. On the offensive end Snow finished with a round 0 points but did toss in 10 assists. 0 points. 10 assists. Um... nice?

Villanova. Villanueva. Whatever. Was Scott Williams this bad last year? He is really bugging me. You hear he needs to lose weight?

LeBron James is good. While the big story will be Donyell Marshall's 29 points, LeBron James bettered him by 3, netting 32. He got some easy points (the aforementioned Z passes and a fast break or two) and he also got hammered a few times. One was a flagrant II (Brian Skinner) and he got to the line a total of 13 times. You know how Redd was 14 of 14? Ya... LeBron was 8-13. Now I'm not expecting him to shoot like Redd, but 10-13 isn't that much to ask, is it?

Of course, no one else in the home whites shot any better. Cavaliers, as a team, from the foul line: 52%. From 3-point range: 50% (thanks Donyell!). None of the Cavs shot particularly well from the charity stripe; Hughes was 4-7 and even Z was only 2-4. This has been a problem all year and this needs to improve (hire Mark Price, he's got the free time)

and finally,

Why couldn't they have put the Bucks away earlier. Don't get me wrong, this is a nice win. But the Cavs still had a rough stretch (9 points in 10 minutes at one point in the second half- well done). And still, going into Chicago with a 3 game win streak is definitely a good thing. However, if they had kept the lead at 20 points throughout the second half, they could've rested the starters most of the fourth and had 'em a little fresher tomorrow night (well, Gooden and Z should be fresh due to their foul trouble). But what's it matter, even if the Cavs do beat the Bulls for a second time this year it won't matter, they still won't be as good.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Everything is OK

The Ohio State University has said that Ohio State players didn't break any rules. Good enough for me.

Cleveland 89, Atlanta 76

Yes, no Tyronn Lue! Was everyone as relieved to see Tyronn freaking Lue in street clothes as I was? Honestly, has anyone felt that before? "Man, I really love their chances tonight now that Lue isn't playing" I hate that short, quick bastard.

I'm liking this new added wrinkle in the offense. You know, the 'throw the ball down low to Zydrunas every now and then' wrinkle. Here's Z's line for the game: 16 points (8-13), 10 boards (6 def), 2 blocks, 2 steals, 2 assists in 35 minutes. He also took two charges. The Cavs had a few scores where the possession started off on the block with Ilguaskas, he passed it out and the ball rotation found an open man. (When he gets the ball regularly, he's more likely to pass it out when his shot isn't there. When he's not getting regular touches, he's more likely to force a bad shot because he has no idea when he's gonna see the rock next).

Hughes played decent... You could tell he didn't trust his jumper, especially early on. He cut to the hoop pretty much all game (and the backdoor was there all night). Larry had 17 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists and 4 steals, but he also had 5 turnovers and only shot 5-14. Surprisingly (to me at least), Hughes played a total of 39 minutes, after requesting a little more rest. Maybe he was fine after the couple days of rest; I dunno. But I was expecting a little bit of a drop off in his minutes, especially playing Atlanta.

LeBron was active all game. LBJ led all scores with 27 and seemingly had his way with Atlanta's defenders all night long. This was one of those games where LeBron was active all night; he moved without the ball, played solid defense, drove the lane rebounded well.

The substitution pattern was mixed up. Again. For the second game in a row Brown didn't bring Damon Jones and Donyell Marshall in at the same time. Varejao was the first man off the bench (but he quickly returned due to foul trouble).

The Cavs could've used Scot Pollard. Well... at least in the first half. With Varejao getting himself into quick foul trouble, Brown was forced to play Ilgauskas more early on. This was fine, but Z picked up 3 first half fouls. Gooden had 2 in the first half and Varejao had 3. Pollard could've gotten some minutes, given Z a rest and put some work in.

James played 40 minutes. Which is a bit long for my taste, especially when you consider the fact that the Cavs were up by a pretty solid amount all game long (plus, the Hawks stink). James also began the second quarter on the court (not sure that's happened so far this season). 40 minutes isn't a ton, but at the same time, this is a game where he could've sat a bit longer with little ill effects.

The point guards. One word: ugh. Two words: Dammit Snow. The Cavaliers very first possession was one of their classic ugly possessions of the season. The Cavs walk the ball up and Snow holds/dribbles the ball beyond the 3-point arc while no one else moves (hooray motion offense!). Finally he passes the ball off to Drew Gooden with about 5 seconds left, Gooden pump fakes a few times then passes the ball to LeBron with 2 seconds left. Of course, LeBron nailed a trey (personally, I don't think he got that shot off, but you know what? I'll take it).

Gibson looked like a rookie. Boobie had a couple turnovers that were ugly/unforced; just a lazy or telegraphed pass. He had a couple nice drives to the hole, but he's not great at finishing yet. Teams are wising up to his 3 point shooting as well- he didn't have a clean look all night. It's good that Brown is giving the rook steady minutes and that Gibson is actually getting some time at point (he seems to share it with Jones mostly).

Damon's shot was back. Was it just Jones' back? Was he in a slump? Who knows? But Jones was an efficient 2-4 from the field (1-1 from behind the arc). For one night at least, it looks like his slump ended.

To be fair, both Snow and Gibson did pretty well defensively. Snow did a bang up job on Joe Johnson and Gibson chases around Speedy Claxton during his 11 minutes of court time. Johnson was basically a non-factor throughout the game (he shot a Larry Hughes-esque 4-17 and finished with 10 points).

Can all Cavalier road games be played in Atlanta? This was the Cavs first road win since early December, when they came into Atlanta and beat the Hawks on December fourth. They lost their next four road games.

and finally,

I know it's just Atlanta. AND they were without Future-Hall-of-Famer Tyronn Lue, but it was nice to see the Cavaliers play a complete game start to finish. They led the whole way and the Hawks never got closer to six; the Cavs were in control the entire way and while there were some dead spots here or there, they never took their foot off the gas- they kept pushing and looking for good shots. They were only 3-6 from 3 point range, so you know they were standing around hoisting jumpers.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Cleveland 86, Orlando 83

Well would you look at that, a 7' 3"center. The Cavs went to Z early and often and he responded with 18 points in the first half. He finished with 22 points and 10 boards and personally, of all the Cavalier big men, I thought Z did the best job on Dwight Howard.

Darko Milicic goes for the pump fake. Every time.

Big news of the game: Mike Brown switched up his substitution pattern. For the first time in a long time, Brown didn't bring Damon Jones and Donyell Marshall in at the same time in the first period. He brought in Jones and Anderson Varejao. I know it's not a huge deal, but I liked the variety.

And the fourth quarter lineup. For the majority of the fourth quarter Brown had a five of LeBron, Larry Hughes, Z, Boobie Gibson and either Drew Gooden or Varejao. Both Snow and Marshall were on the bench. Needless to say, I was thrilled.

Gooden showed up. He finished with 14 and 12, with the bulk of those coming in the second half (which is news because Drew had a nondescript first half). It was also nice to see Gooden out there during crunch time. You rarely see Gooden in late minutes of the fourth quarter.

But let's not get carried away. Now, it was nice that Brown mixed the lineups up and that the Cavs actually fed the post. But LeBron won this game. He scored 19 points in the fourth quarter and I would love to tell you that they came in a variety of ways and within the motion offense. But they weren't. He hit an array of jumpers; off of picks, late in the shot clock, early in the shot clock, when he was open, with a hand or two in his face- it didn't matter.

and finally (I know it was short, lo siento)

Merry Christmas. Have a happy one and I want to thank everyone for reading these the past year or so.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Friday, December 22, 2006

Stop It

The Plain Dealer really wants Jim Tressel to coach the Browns.

Detroit 87, Cleveland 71

I have a few questions....

Why do we call it a 'motion offense' when everyone just stands around? Honestly, the Cavaliers just stand there. Plus, they take their sweet sweet time setting up a play. I don't get it. There's no movement. No one cuts. No one is setting screen off the ball. They're just standing there.

Why are both Eric Snow and Anderson Varejao in the game when the Cavs are down 11 with 5 minutes to go? Hey, we need to score quickly, you know who we should have in there? Two guys who can't shoot. That is a fantastic idea.

How come Larry Hughes gets to shoot whenever he wants? 5-17 is really amazing. And he just keeps chucking 'em up. I guess it's good that he has that confidence in himself, but he was only 2-6 from the foul line. 33%! 0-3 from down town. And I've learned something over the past few games: when Hughes misses, he misses ugly. His shots don't just rim out, there are backboards and shot clocks involved. Ugh.

Why didn't LeBron shoot more? Was it just Detroit's defense? And I know LeBron had 20 shots (the most of anyone in the game), but the way the Cavs were playing, I wouldn't have cared if he shot the ball every time down the floor, regardless of where he was on the court. A forced LeBron James 20 footer is better than a forced Anderson Varejao 20 footer. Also, could you run him off some screens? Post him up? Mix it up a bit.

What happened to Z? Ilgauskas had a pretty solid game, 7-13, 16 points and 6 boards. Not great, not terrible. But in the second half? 3 shots. Now, hate on Z if you want, but he was doing pretty well, only getting 3 shots in the second half (and all of 'em coming in the 3rd quarter) is just awful.

Did you hear Jason Maxiell is similar to Charles Barkley? They are both undersized power forwards. (That being said, I'll take Steve Kerr and Marv Albert over FSN Ohio anytime)

The offense is terrible. OK, not a question. I could care less at this point; the offense is awful. The offense is bad. The offense is offensive (har!). Second quarter: 17 points. 3rd quarter: 14 points. 4th quarter: 16 points. Ouch.

Have the Cavs had a decent third period all year? I'm beginning to dread the second half of games, as the Cavs never seem to come out strong after halftime. Tonight was especially brutal, as they only scored 14 points while the Pistons poured in a whopping 15. I'm glad I tivo'd the game. I'm going to go re-watch those 12 minutes of basketball glory.

Did Damon Jones revert back to last year's version or is he just in a slump? Maybe his head got too big and he thought that he could do no wrong, I really don't know. What I do know is that he took some terrible jumpers against the Pistons.

Where's the urgency? The Cavs are down double digits around the 5 minute mark and they're walking the ball up and taking their time setting up the offense. I'm not saying they should start sprinting all over the court (though, at this point what could it hurt), but how picking the pace up a bit?

Is it time to panic? Make a trade? I still say no, not quite yey. I know. It's ugly. It's terrible to watch. And it doesn't seem to be improving. But I would still wait and see how they handle their trip out West. See if they can get some kind of bunker mentality and grow up a bit. Or see if they implode.

and finally,

Does anyone think that this team will be over .500 in one month? 11 of their next 15 are on the road. The four that are at home? Orlando, Milwaukee, San Antonio and New Jersey. That'll be fun.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

New Jersey 113, Cleveland 111

It wasn't really that close. Jones hit a 3 ball with 0.1 left. The Cavs made a late (real late) charge to make the final score look competitive but it was a 12 point game with 1:55 left. With the way they've been playing, maybe they should try this quick-shot-then-foul game plan more often...

You figure if they scored 111 points I wouldn't have a problem with the offense. You'd be wrong. The Cavs made 1 shot in the first 4 and a half minutes of the second half. One. Of course, Mike Brown didn't feel the need to sub or call a timeout in those 4 and a half minutes. The Cavs also went through a nice spell in the second quarter, going 1-16 over a 6 minute period in the second quarter. That was awesome.

LeBron stepped it up. LeBron finished with 37 points, 8 assists and 1 rebound. Obviously, you'd like that rebound total to at least be in the 4-6 range, but his effort was top notch all night. He only shot 16-21 from the line, but he very easily could've gone to the line at least 3 or 4 more times. LeBron kept driving and kept challenging the Nets' defenders all night (which is what I like to see). He settled for a couple jumpers during that awesome second quarter stretch, but besides that, he attacked all night long.

The box score at least looks nice. Most of the starters played well. Z had a nice overall game, with 18 points, 11 rebounds and 4 assists (I like using him on the high post, he passes out of the high post better than than the low). Hughes added 19 points, Jones had 14 and Gooden had a quiet 10. James, Hughes and Z all played big minutes, while Gooden sat awhile (for what I assume were defensive reasons).

Everyone else however, was a non-factor. Snow was pretty much useless, Gibson actually looked like a rookie, Varejao played 21 nondescript minutes and Donyell continued his sub-par play (have I mentioned how I hate how the offense looks when Marshall is out there? He just parks his giant ass at the 3-point line and contributes squat).

Hey Sasha Pavlovic played. For 2 minutes. Though, in those 2 minutes, he saw some action at point guard(?). I'm not sure what that was about. On the plus side, at least he didn't commit a charging foul.

The defense stunk. Is anyone surprised that Jason Kidd tore the Cavs up for 10 assists (to go with 9 points and 8 boards)? Kidd got the hole at will versus Damon Jones, often dishing the ball to a wide open Jason Collins (after Z rotated to cover Kidd). Vince Carter poured in 38 points and seemed to hit a shot every time the Cavs made a run to cut the lead close. The Cavs let the Nets shoot 57% from the floor; just too many close, easy shots.

It wasn't a total loss. The Cavs shot a decent percent from the foul line (81%) and they got to the line more than NJ (42-37). The Cavaliers also out rebounded the Nets 42-36 and they even kept their 3-point attempts under 20 (7-16). So there were some good signs (they played hard the entire game and they continued to attack the basket).

I could still use some varied substitution patterns. I know Brown likes to bring in Jones and Marshall in together midway in the first period. And I know he likes to sit LeBron to start the second... but why not switch it up? Take LeBron out late in the first and rest him over the quarter break. Give Gibson some PT with the starters (I'd love to see a line up of Boobie, Hughes, James, Varejao and Z. That'd be fantastic). Use less Marshall and more Gooden (even though he goes brain dead on defense, at least he'll give some second chance opportunities).

and finally...

Oh good, another back-to-back. Versus Detroit. The Cavaliers love back-to-backs (1-5 on the 2nd night this year). But at least they're at home, where they are a delightful 11-2. So maybe those will cancel each other out.

Should the Browns lose their last two games?

I'm gonna weigh in on the ongoing debate over at Swerbs. Do you want the Browns to lose their last two games? Here's what we gotL

Joel Whitmer: Yes

John Hnat: No.

They both make excellent points, but I tend to side with Joel on this. The Browns have nothing to play for anymore; sure we're in the midst of another great quarterback debate, but at this point the Browns are really fighting for two things: draft positioning and Romeo Crennel's job.

Like I said, I'm with Whitmer on this, I believe the Browns should lose. Get that better draft pick!

I'm also for not giving Browns fans false hope. Let's face it- this team sucks. They aren't close or on the cusp. They stink. Teams jump from 6-10 to 10-6 all the time in the NFL, with the Browns ending up at 6-10 with a 2 game game win streak, many Browns fans will mistakenly think that the Browns could have a good chance at 10-6 next year.


Let's take last year's Raven team. They ended up with the same record the Browns had, 6-10 and this year they are one of the top teams in the AFC (11-3 record). Does anyone think that the Browns can make that kind of turnaround next year? Anyone? Hello? Bueller?

The Ravens were bad because one aspect of their team was bad (I know this is a gross oversimplification, but I'm gonna run with it). The offense stunk but the defense was still world class. Well, they bring in a guy like Steve McNair (and get Jamal Lewis back, one more year removed from jail) and they can turn their team around within a short period.

The Browns aren't a Steve McNair away (or even a few moves away).

Hnat says:

Another way to look at the issue is by asking the question: how many top picks have led their teams to the Super Bowl? From 1999-2005, of the 35 players drafted in the first five slots, three (McNabb, Jamal Lewis, and Julius Peppers) have played in a Super Bowl for the team that drafted them. By contrast, in that same period, no fewer than six of the 35 players drafted in slots 11 through 15 helped their teams get to the big game (Damione Lewis, Dan Morgan, Jerome McDougle, Ty Warren, Marcus Trufant, Ben Roethlisberger).

Granted, these facts are tainted by other influences. Teams who draft very high tend to be there because they make bad personnel decisions, and they perpetuate that incompetence by making even more bad picks. Teams in the 11-15 range (the range that I randomly selected for my analysis; I am not pretending that it is a comprehensive study) are often good teams that simply had one bad year.

Exactly. The Browns haven't had one bad year. They've had multiple bad years. They need soooo much. What are their weaknesses? Well, they can't stop the run, they can't pressure the quarterbacks, their cornerbacks have lost their knees, they can't pass block, they can't run block, they can't run, they can't pass and they can't catch. Have I missed anything? Their only real strength is their receivers and even they aren't sure things (who wants to remember that game in Pittsburgh).

The Browns need many things. They could also use some more draft picks. If they somehow lose their games and move up in the draft, there's a decent chance they could trade down for multiple picks (the Browns have no one need, they have multiple).

That's what I really want. The Browns to trade down for more picks. Hnat's main point is that the top picks make too much money and take up too much of your salary cap. Fine, get that high pick and then trade to someone who really (really, really) wants Brady Quinn or Adrian Peterson (however, I've been saying all year long that Peterson is the only non-offensive linemen I'll accept, that's still true). The Browns need so much, there is no one guy coming out who I think the Browns have to have. They need a lot. I'm just going to keep repeating it. They need a lot. They need a lot. They need a lot.

But this is all moot. The Browns are going to win their last two games. Why? They're from Cleveland, that's how we do things around here. The year before LeBron, the Cavs won their last game. Of course they did. They only won 16 of the previous 81, but they decide to win the last one. The Browns won 2 of their last 3 last season, their final game in 2004 and 2003.

When it's winning time, Cleveland teams lose. When it would behoove them to lose, they win. This is how it works.

The Browns are going to win their last two games (versus Tampa at home this weekend and at Houston next week) to finish the year 6-10. They'll proceed to ignore the offensive line in the draft, take a receiver on the first day (Peter King has the Browns taking Ted Ginn Jr.) and for some inexplicable reason take some skill position players from Oklahoma.

Come July, Browns fans will be all excited for the season to start because the Browns finished last season on a strong note (2 wins in a row baby!) and Derek Anderson has a strong arm. The Browns will go 5-11 and I'll be writing how they should draft a lineman in the first round.

I can't wait.

Read These

Michael Wilbon

David Aldridge

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Joe Tait

Joe Tait's top 5 Cavalier moments.

As I've stated before, I love Joe Tait. The man is awesome. As much as I enjoy the Tivo revolution, the downside is that I can no longer turn down the TV and turn on Tait.

Show me a man who doesn't like Joe Tait and I'll show you a man who hates happiness.

At 90%, Kellen Winslow is the best tight end in football...

to not make the Pro Bowl.

The Browns were shut out again, well done boys. One Pro Bowler in 8 years. Well done indeed.

Iverson to Denver

For Andre Miller, Joe Smith and two first rounders

(This was the best Philly could hope for. I got sick of those Miami rumors. There was no way he would go there; Philly would only get expiring contracts in return. Don't get me wrong, getting some money off the books is nice, but you don't trade a Hall of Famer for cap relief. I was annoyed that people thought Miami even had a shot).

Music '06

This was originally supposed to be a sports AND music blog. Well, for better or worse (mostly better I say) it's evolved into a sports blog with music and political droplets of goodness thrown in. Because I can, I've decided to throw up a 'best of 2006' music post. Enjoy.

At first glance, 2006 didn't have the epic albums of previous years. 2006 wasn't a year for garage band revivals or The Next Big Thing; it was a mix and match of good, decent, fun albums (as well as some albums I was really looking forward to that disappointed).

You'll probably think I've missed a ton of good albums here; not Red Hot Chili Peppers? No TV on the Radio? Pearl Jam? Tool? My Chemical Romance? You're right. I'll miss some. Why? Frankly, for whatever reason, I didn't listen to the album. Stadium Arcadium may be the best album of 2006, but I can't honestly tell you that- I didn't listen to it (or didn't give it as much attention as others). This is my list.

Dirty Pretty Things - Waterloo to Anywhere

This was probably the album I listened to the most this past year. Carl Barat, the lead singer of DPT, was one of leaders of the Libertines (along with Pete Doherty, who went on to do Babyshambles and Kate Moss). Waterloo to Anywhere uses a simple formula: loud, fast and catchy. Part Brit-pop, part punk and part straight up rock, I honestly can't recommend this album enough. "Bang Bang You're Dead" is one of, if not the, best songs of the year and has quickly moved into my All Time Top 10.
Standout tracks: Bang Bang You're Dead, The Gentry Cove, You Fucking Love It, Gin & Milk

Earlier in the year, it seemed the Arctic Monkeys were everywhere. They were hugely hyped coming about of Britain and, for the most part, I felt they delivered. Is the album influential and groundbreaking? No. Did they do something new? No. Again, it's catchy guitar-based rock. Simple and effective. Gets me every time. Depressing note: these kids were 19 when they made this album. 19. At 19 I was drinking and smoking too much in an Ohio State dorm. Bastards.
Standout tracks: I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor, Still Take You Home, A Certain Romance

The Raconteurs - Broken Boy Soliders

I love the White Stripes, so when I heard that Jack White was making an indie-rock super group of course I was on board. And while it's only 10 tracks and 34 minutes long, it is packed with goodness. Their first single, "Steady as She Goes" is sweet and the rest of the album is just as good, if different. There isn't really a style to the Raconteurs music; it's diverse and timeless, yet distinctly modern. I hope this isn't just a one time thing, I want more albums.
Standout tracks: Steady as She Goes, Yellow Sun, Call it a Day

The Beatles - Love

This is the soundtrack for the Cirque du Soleil Beatles themed show and it is filled with Beatle goodness. This isn't the same old tracks in a new order (*cough* 1), it's a mash-up of Beatles classics and non-classics. It's a musical I Spy- "Oh, that's the trumpet from 'Penny Lane' and the harpsichord from 'In My Life'. Personally, the highlight is the version of 'While My Guitar Gently Weeps'; this was on the only track that involved newly recorded music. Famed Beatles producer George Martin wrote a new string backing for Harrison's acoustic version of his Beatle classic. It is haunting.
Standout tracks: Strawberry Fields Forever, I am the Walrus, While My Guitar Gently Weeps

The Hold Steady - Boys and Girls in America

This is the first Hold Steady album I've listened to and I must say, I've enjoyed the experience. They sound like a great bar band; guitar, bass, piano and drums. Again, nothing ground breaking, but fantastic nonetheless. As much as I enjoyed the music, the lyrics may have struck me the most; they're almost Springsteen-ian. They are at once depressing and beautiful.
Standout tracks: Stuck Between Stations, Party Pit, First Night

The Decemberists - Crane Wife

Baroque-pop! Song Cycles! Japanese folk stories! The kids will love it! The Decemberists aren't exactly the most radio friendly band out there, but I like 'em. Ultra literate, the Decemberists jump from acoustic folk to prog rock to, well, something different and new. They may not be for everyone; it could be too much art-rock for some, but they're catchy and accessible enough for me.
Standout tracks: Crane Wife 3, Summer Song, Crane Wife 1 & 2, Yankee Bayonet

Scissor Sisters - Ta-Dah

I wasn't much of a fan of the Scissor Sisters self-titled debut album; don't get me wrong, I liked 'Take Your Mama' (now that's a catchy pop tune) but the rest of the album didn't really do much for me. I'm not sure if anything on Tah-Dah stacks up to 'Take Your Mama', but I like the album as a whole much better. It's part dance, part 70s Elton John- in fact, John co-wrote the first single 'I Don't Feel Like Dancin' '. Can it be too over-produced? Yes. Can it take some getting use to? Yes. But underneath the overdubs and dance beats there are some catchy tunes to be had.
Standout tracks: I Don't Feel Like Dancin', I can't Decide, Intermission

Ray LaMontagne - Till the Sun Turns Black

A singer songwriter with a dark, haunting voice, LaMontagne is very Nick Drake like. However, Till the Sun Turns Black is much more R&B influenced than more of Drake's music. LaMontagne's breathy vocals and sparse arrangements over acoustic guitars completment each other quite well. I especially enjoy the horns and strings (sorry, any rock song that uses a trombone, like 'Gone Away From Me', I'm gonna enjoy).

Standout tracks: Gone Away From Me, You Can Bring Me Flowers, Can I Stay

Jet - Shine On

When I first heard of Jet, they pissed me off. That first single, 'Are You Gonna Be My Girl', was everywhere. Plus, no one seemed to mention how it totally ripped off Iggy Pop's 'Lust for Life'. They angered me. I liked their other single 'Look What You've Done'; it was kind of an Oasis/McCartney rip off, but I was okay with it. That's what Jet does, they're influenced by classic rock. I've grown to accept this. Anyways, I've enjoyed their new album very much and there's a couple stripped down Beatles-esque pop tunes tucked away in there that I've taken a liking to ('Shine On' and 'Kings Horses').
Standout Tracks: Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is, Kings Horses

Reel Big Fish - Our Live Album is Better Than Your Live Album

I love Reel Big Fish and even though they are past their commercial prime (as in, no videos on MTV), they've found their niche and kept making good music. Their live shows are amazing as this CD can attest. The songs are top notch (about everything you could ask for), they throw in some covers ("a ska band doing an 80s song? No way!") and they're hilarious. If you ever why people like me still go see these guys, this double live disc explains it well.
Standout tracks: S.R., The 90s-She Has a Girlfriend Now, Beer

Other stuff I enjoyed:

Old White Guys With Guitars:
Bruce Springsteen - We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions - have I linked to this yet?
Paul Simon - Surprise - Brian Eno produced, it's a bit spacey and electronic sounding, but it is good. He played 'How Can You Live in the North-East on SNL and I was a fan.
Tom Petty - Highway Companion - the album itself is okay, but the single 'Saving Grace' is vintage Petty. Fantastic.
Bob Dylan - Modern Times - Who doesn't love Dylan? He name drops Alicia Keys on the opener 'Thunder on the Mountain'

Newer stuff:
The Killers - Sams Town - 'When You Were Young' is fantastic(if only the rest of the album was this good)
Outkast - Idlewild - What mix of sounds and styles ('Morris Brown' may be the catchiest thing I've heard all year)
Alexi Murdoch - Time Without Consequence - Another singer songwriter Nick Drake type, 'Breathe' is a bit repetitive, but beautiful. I believe 'Orange Sky' made an O.C. appearance.

Comedy CDs:
Mike Birbiglia - Two Drink Mike - He's got a shy, goofy delivery which he's honed perfectly. Not overly political or vulgar, but still hilarious
Daniel Tosh - True Stories I Made Up - This came out in late '05 but I don't care. The album is filled with these "holy shit, did he just say that" moments. His sports riff is awesome (on steroids: "I want my athletes like my videos games" "What do you care, you hate life after sports anyways, I'm doing you a favor"). Fantastic.
Biggest Disappointments:
Los Lonely Boys - Sacred - meh
Robert Randolph and the Family Band - Colorblind - boring, too overproduced
Babyshambles - Down in Albion - I'm pretty sure Doherty was drunk this entire time

I'm not sure what happened here. I was really looking forward to Pete Doherty's post-Libertine debut and the sophomore efforts from Los Lonely Boys and Robert Randolph. I was left wanting by all of these albums. Maybe I've become too enamored with their previous work to really give these an honest look; I dunno.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Lenny Wilkens: I wish I never coached Danny Ferry

Ron Harper is just on everyones mind:

Following Friday morning's shootaround at The Q, LeBron James made it a point to greet Lenny Wilkens, a former Cavaliers player and coach.

Wilkens, whose 1,315 victories are the most by any NBA coach, is the color analyst for SuperSonics games telecast by FSN. "I don't know [Wilkens] personally, but if you know Cleveland sports, you know about Lenny Wilkens," James said.

"He is a legend."

Wilkens, 69, averaged 18.5 points per game in two seasons with the Cavaliers (1972-74). He coached them to a 316-258 record and five playoff appearances in seven seasons (1986-93).

He is in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as a player and coach.

Wilkens was coaching the Cavaliers when the most controversial trade in club history - Ron Harper, two first-round draft picks and one second-rounder to the Los Angeles Clippers for Reggie Williams and the draft rights to Danny Ferry in November 1989 - was made.

The 17-year-old deal continues to miff Wilkens.

"We should have never traded Ron Harper," he said. "There is no question in my mind that we would have won an NBA championship with him.

"He was someone who made Michael [Jordan] work for his points and made him work at the defensive end."

Harper was dealt because management did not like some of the people he called friends.

"Ron was guilty by association," Wilkens said.

The Cleveland crowd gave a hefty cheer when they showed Wilkens on the the big screen last Friday.

Random Thoughts from the Weekend

1. This just in: Greg Oden is good.

2. He missed the first shot he took for OSU and he missed his last one. But he made the 17 in between. That is ri-god-damn-diculous.

3. OSU plays Florida on December 23rd... are you kidding me? With the BCS Championship and Oden vs Noah? Damn, that's gonna be fun.

4. WTF?

5. Pluto on Romeo: I just don't know.

6. 1-11 within the division is no way to go through life, Romeo.

7. Do you fire Crennel? Maybe, if there's a guy you really want out there. But 2 years isn't exactly a lot of time to build a team. But part of Romeo's problem is that his guys have looked unprepared (especially around the holidays- think last Christmas eve vs Pittsburgh and this past Thanksgiving vs Cincinnati). It's true, they've suffered some injuries and have had some bad luck, but they've just played bad.

8. Just make sure: I'm not advocating either the Jim Tressel idea or the Bill Cowher idea. I'm not sure who the Browns should replace Romeo with, but please not either of those two.

9. Start Derek Anderson for the rest of the year. I like Frye, but starting Anderson won't hurt anything. Bring 'em both into camp next year and let them compete for the job. Also, bring in a veteran.

10. Can the Browns play Travis Wilson? If you're going to keep drafting receivers on the first day, you might as well play them.

11. From the current issue of Sports Illustrated, Peter King's early top 10 mock draft:

1. Lions - Brady Quinn - QB - Notre Dame
2. Raiders - Troy Smith - QB - Ohio State
3. Cardinals - Joe Thomas - T- Wisconsin
4. Buccaneers - Calvin Johnson* - WR - Georgia Tech
5. Browns - Ted Ginn Jr.* - WR - Ohio State
6. Texans - Alan Branch* - DT - Michigan
7. Packers - Gaines Adams - DE - Clemson
8. Redskins - Leon Hall - CD - Michigan
9. Rams - LaRon Landry - S - LSU
10. Vikings - Levi Brown - T - Penn State
* Juniors projected to declare for the draft

12. First: Troy Smith at 2?! Don't get me wrong, I love Smith and I think he should be a first round pick (though I hope he's a 2nd round pick so the Browns can take him there).

13. If the first four picks work out that way, fine. I'm okay with that. That'll mean that the Browns can draft Adrian Peterson at number 5 (a guy King mistakenly left out of the top 10).

14. If the Browns take Ted Ginn Jr in the top 10 I'll be done with the franchise. Done. The Browns have a ton of holes on this team, but wideout/KR/PR is not exactly one of 'em. There would be no reason why the Browns should draft Ginn. None.

15. King has two tackles going in the top 10 and if that's the case, then I fully expect the Browns to take one of them. The outcry is too great, if they neglect the line yet again this draft, the fans may riot. Hell, I may riot. I'll burn a couch in the middle of downtown Hudson just to make my point.

16. I really hope the Browns don't win out. I really do. For a couple reasons. 1) At this point, it would really help 'em out to get a better draft pick. The higher the better. For a lineman, for the trading down possibility (if someone wants Quinn) and for general draft positioning. 2) If they end the year on a high note, all it will do is get the Browns fans hopes up for next season. "Hey, 6-10, we're not that far away". Yes you are. The Browns are far away from actually contending. They need a lot. A 6-10 season doesn't do anyone a bit of good.

16. As I mentioned in my little post yesterday, Saturday Night Live was amazing this week. I wasn't expecting a whole lot, I've never been a huge fan of Justin Timberlake (the host) but he did a great (I repeat: great) job. I even enjoyed the music. There. I said it.

17. Yes, I still watch SNL every week. I'm not really sure why; I keep hoping for it to bounce back and become culturally relevant again. I think it's slowly getting there.

18. This was the highlight of the night, by far:

19. Speaking of funny shows on NBC, all the lead comedic actors in their Thursday night lineup got nominated for Golden Globes. The Office and 30 Rock were especially good this week. Alec Baldwin's character was dating Condi Rice:

20. Speaking of not being funny.

21. The Cavs. Ugh.

22. Here's the sick thing about the Magic game: even though the Cavs only scored 8 points in the second quarter, they still had a shot to win this game. I'm not sure if I should be pleased with that fact or not.

23. Saturday night was the first time I can say I've thought to myself, "You know what? Maybe Larry Hughes isn't the guy" He kept missing jumpers (badly) and yet, he kept shooting them.

24. I've had this thought brewing since last year: The Cavs don't make very good in-game adjustments. A lot of times the Cavaliers will have a good game plan and jump out to an early lead. Then the other team will adjust their style and 'counter punch' the Cavaliers and get back into it. At that point, the Cavs are done. They can't adjust to the adjustments. They can't counter the counter punch.

25. Is that an indictment on Mike Brown? I guess. Now, I've had my beef with Brown (starting David Wesley? Why would you do this to us?) but I still say he's A) a good coach and B) he should stick around for at least another full season. Give the man three years to get his system in place.

26. Of course, hiring a veteran offensive assistant wouldn't hurt either.

27. Anderson Varejao: The Brazilian Rodman or the Brazilian Mark Madsen?

28. You're kidding.

29. Some thoughts on The Brawl:

a) Obviously, the Nuggets shouldn't have still been playing their starters, so I'm not exactly surprised at the hard foul

b) That being said, if Isiah 'ordered' the foul (which at this point seems, if not exactly likely, a distinct possibility), that's a big no-no.

c) Nuggets coach George Karl is a good friend of Larry Brown (who if you may have heard, had some disagreements with Thomas during his time as Knicks coach). Was Karl running up the score because of the Knicks/Isiah's treatment of Brown?

d) My first though: man, that sucks for the league. They were just getting past that last brawl.

e) My second thought: Nate Robinson, what the hell were you doing?

f) Third thought: Carmelo... dammit. You're going to be crucified for that punch.

g) There were a couple comments from the TrueHoop brawl post that voiced some opinions I share and have been trying to put into words for awhile:
Regarding the racial remarks that are probably going to come from this, it's a reason why I tend to bristle when I hear characterizations of NBA players as "overpaid, primadonnas." It might be because I don't pay as much attention to football as I do to basketball, but I don't hear similar characterizations of the NFL as a whole when a particular player does something in the way that I hear about the NBA as a whole when a particular player does something. Joey Porter is a good example. He regularly says retarded things but the criticism is always localized to Joey Porter. It seems to me that an individual NBA player's actions are more often generalized to apply to the entire NBA. I am not trying to advocate the painting of the NFL as a league of savages because a small portion of the league gets in trouble with the law, I just feel that the problems with particular players in the NBA should not be expanded into a universal problem with the NBA.
There is a double standard against basketball players when it comes to fighing. All other North American sports have their brawls, and in hockey, football, and baseball, these brawls are always more dangerous because of the objects the players have to use in a fight (sticks/pucks, helmets/cleats, and baseballs/bats). But in these sports fighting is either celebrated (hockey), forgotten (football) or laughed at (baseball). Why are tall black guys treated differently? Fighting in the NBA is a blemish and tarnishes what I believe to be probably the most gentlemanly game in the world. But, this over the top reaction to a Saturday night fight is ridiculous and, possibly, racist.
h) Stern's response:
* Nuggets forward Carmelo Anthony has been suspended for 15 games.
* Knicks guard Nate Robinson has been suspended for 10 games.
* Nuggets guard J.R. Smith has been suspended for 10 games
* Knicks guard Mardy Collins has been suspended for six games.
* Knicks forward Jared Jeffries has been suspended for four games.
* Knicks center Jerome James has been suspended for one game for leaving the bench during an on-court altercation.
* Nuggets forward Nene has been suspended one game for leaving the bench during an on-court altercation.
i) You think that the NBA doesn't want that Iverson trade done today. Get Iverson at the top of Sports Center. Get the talking heads discussing the deal, not the fight

j) Keep me away from Around the Horn. The last thing I want to see is pompous ass Bill Plaschke bemoaning the horror of this fight and asking us to "think of the children".

30. Surprising, sorta. Though, I'm not sure I like where Edwards plans to announce it. Seems cheap. (Personally, I'd love to see Gore throw his hat in, but that looks less and less likely).

31. Be on the lookout for some kind of "Top Albums of 2006" post in the somewhat near future.

32. In case you were wondering, I'm not a fan of this whole "surge" idea. I'm not exactly alone.

33. I don't really get Harry Reid either.

34. Growing up, I read a lot of Michael Crichton and I enjoyed his books for what they were. His last book? The one where he tries to "Da Vinci Code" global warming... alright story wise, but he took some personal shots (Martin Sheen especially) and a lot of his explanations didn't pass the smell test. His new one hasn't gotten stellar reviews, but I'll probably read it. However, this is just disappointing and classless (reg. required, but free).

35. Another one of my favorite authors, Orson Scott Card, has written a new book about 'the next civil war' between liberals and conservatives. Now, I love Card's writing (the Ender series especially), but we don't exactly see eye to eye politically. Judging by the Amazon reviews, I'm not sure I'd care to read it (however, I probably will anyways).

Sunday, December 17, 2006

No Recap

I was out and about last night. Quick thoughts:

Lord help me if I see Larry Hughes miss another jumper...

Holy Shit. I mean, holy shit. Carmelo Anthony? He's one of the golden children. He's one of the chosen. Wow. I mean. Wow.

SNL was awesome last night. Awesome. Justin Timberlake, well done, I wasn't expecting much, but the entire night was pretty good- nothing was really bad. Watch the video called "A Special Christmas Box", that is going to be huge.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Cleveland 106, Seattle 84

Hey, it's Larry Hughes. A healthy Larry Hughes is a beautiful thing. In 32 minutes, Hughes was 11-16 for 25 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 blocks and a steal. Larry and LeBron hit their first 14 combined shots; when that happens you're going to beat just about everybody.

Especially a Ray Allen-less Sonic team. This was a team the Cavs should've blown out. And they did. At this point, this is what I'm looking for from this team. The Cavs lost to a Hornet team without three starters, so manhandling a hobbled Seattle team is a good sign.

The offense was NOT offensive. Except for the beginning of the third quarter the offense was on track. Players were cutting, jumpers were open and it was fun to watch. In addition to Larry's 25, LeBron dumped in 23 and big Z added 17.

That third quarter? The Cavs didn't score until almost 5 minutes into the period. They came out shooting jumpers and Brown didn't seem to want to call a time out or make a non-foul related substitution (Varejao in for a foul plagued Gooden). I'd have liked Brown to have at least called a time out and just sat there and fumed or something. Of course, it helped that the Cavs had a 19 point lead at half and Seattle didn't score for the first 3 minutes as well.

The defense stepped up. Again, this was without Ray Allen, but the Sonics only shot 36% from the field (while the Cavs tore it up at 54%). The Cavs Eric Snow guard Rashard Lewis. That speaks volumes about A) what the Cavs think of LeBron's defense and B) what they think of Eric Snows defense. The scary thing? It worked (Lewis went 3-12 and was basically a non-factor).

It's ridiculous how good LeBron can be in the post. The few times they threw it to him down low, he just dominated. The Cavs play with such a different energy when LeBron goes inside and takes it to the rim.

I was lucky enough to catch this game in person. This was my first trip to the Q this season and I learned a few things: 1) I still that Moondog. I mean, I really hate that bastard. 2) Thunderstix are awful. 3) The Q looks fantastic; the floor, the scoreboard, the seats- amazing. It's hard to believe this is the same place I saw all those Lammond Murray games. 4) Thunderstix are even more awful when they are in the hands of girls in the seats directly behind you. 5) Surprisingly, I didn't miss any of the Cavs announcers. Though I feel the need to mention UNC every five minutes for some reason.

Anyone still want Earl Watson? Anyone? Bueller...

Garbage time! Ira Newble and David Wesley got some minutes and man did they impress. Newble missed a semi-open layup. The Cavs were in garbage time mode for most of the 4th quarter but when Seattle got the lead down into the 16-15 range with about 5 minutes left, Mike Brown brought the starters back in. Well, not all the starters- Varejao stayed out there and Gooden kept his seat on the bench (make of that as you will).

and finally....

Big game on Saturday. With the win over the Sonics, the Cavaliers have taken the lead of the Eastern conference and they go head to head with Orlando Saturday night. Even though it's the second night of a back-to-back, the Cavs should be well rested. The blow out was the best thing the Cavs could have asked for; Brown even managed to keep James under 40 minutes (35, which, considering the score, was still kinda high for my taste). But tomorrow night... LeBron... Dwight Howard... yes.

Thursday, December 14, 2006


From Mark Stein:
A reversal on Smith would certainly enhance the Nuggets' chances. But the bigger variable is whether the Nuggets and/or Sixers can find a third team to take on Nene's new $60 million deal, after the Brazilian missed all but one game last season with a knee ligament tear. The Sixers, as you can imagine, absolutely will not absorb that contract.
How is this even possible? Everyone knew when Nene signed that deal that it was a horrible contract. And, what, six months later Denver is already trying to unload him? I hope to God no one takes on that contract, Denver should have to live with that deal. What the hell were they thinking?

Ron Harper

TrueHoop posted a video of Ron Harper highlights and it is at once awesome and depressing.

I first started paying attention to basketball (and sports in general) in 1991 and I was a huge Cavs fan and basketball card collector (I believe my complete 91-92 NBA Hoops set is worth about 27 dollars. I am awesome).

As a young Cavs fan, I would look at dismay at the stats Ron Harper's Clippers card and it showed a few season played for the Cavaliers. I was shocked; the Cavs had a shooting guard who scored 20+ a game? WTF? How did he get away?

Well, my dad told me how the Cavs though Harper was mixed up with bad people and they traded him and roughly 10,000 future first round picks for Danny Ferry. Of course, I was dismayed, Harper was a high flyer; an athletic shooting guard and the piece the Cavaliers needed, how the hell could he have been traded for Danny Ferry? I mean, he stinks.

I then learned that Ferry was supposed to be the "Next Larry Bird". Well. That changed everything. Wait. No it doesn't. Danny Ferry sucked (although, I'm enjoying his GM tenure MUCH more than his playing career). As it turns out, Harper was a great character guy, sacrificed his game to win multiple championships and never had any sort of legal run ins.

It still kills me that I was robbed of seeing that Cavalier team grow into their prime together. Mark Price, Brad Daugherty, Larry Nance, Hot Rod Williams and Ron freaking Harper? Are you kidding me? God I would've loved to see that (side note: whenever they replay "The Shot" game, I always watch the first 5/6ths of the game, just to see the Cavs at their full strength. Then I turn it off... for some reason...). As a kid, you have no idea what I would've given to see that squad at full strength in their prime.

A lot of people my age didn't know that the Cavs had Harper or how good he was. Friends of mine have called the infamous Indians trade of Brian Giles for Ricardo Rincon the 'worst trade in Cleveland sports'. No my friends. Ron Harper. Danny Ferry.

Some other Harper notes: The year before the Cavs landed that LeBron fellow, I was 'lucky' enough to attend one of the Cavs 17 wins in person (versus the Warriors. Ricky Davis got called for a 5 second violation. I yelled something at him and the entire section looked at me like I was nuts. I guess we were supposed to be quiet at Gund Arena) On the drive home, as I've done for years, I had the WTAM post game on and Ron Harper stopped by the studio (at this point, he had retired). Mike Snyder asked to see one of Harper's five (5!!!) championship rings. Harper was more than happy to oblige, and then he lamented, "Man, it's too bad we never won one here". Man, I was sick.

The ghost of the Harper trade still lingers in Cleveland to this day. A lot of Cavs fans are clamoring for Danny Ferry (irony) to throw his hat into the Allen Iverson sweepstakes (the Cavs have declined). At least a few fans blame the Cavaliers lack of interest not on basketball reasons (you know, logical reasons. Like the fact that they don't have the trade parts, would Iverson work with James and they have no first round picks to deal (thanks Jim Paxson!)) but on the Cavs penchant for "Choir Boys" or "Boy Scouts"- character guys. Nevermind the fact that GM Wayne Embry and owner Gordon Gund are long gone and the Cavs have an entirely new infrastructure. The Cavs won't trade for Iverson because of character issues.

Man... a backcourt of Mark Price and Ron Harper? With Daugherty, Nance and Williams up front? What I wouldn't give.

Cleveland 104, Charlotte 101

This was a tale of two halves. The Cavs had a 13 point half time lead; they went inside early and often and they kept the Bobcats out of the lane. Drew and Z were pretty involved early on (Drew had 8 points in the first quarter).

The second half... I'm not sure it was really as bad as it looked. Yes, the Bobcats came back and the offense wasn't exactly pretty, but it wasn't as bad as it has been. The Cavs still went inside (although not nearly as much) but simply missed. LeBron especially had a couple runners/drives that were off the mark (but could've been fouls). Yes, he settled for 4 or 5 contested jumpers, but he attacked the hoop as well (at least he attacked the hoop more than he has in the past). As a team, they only hoisted 11 tres, so it wasn't like they were just jacking up jumpers as they tend to do; they were 27-35 from the line, so they were going inside at least a little bit.

Duke, right? Does anyone know where Cavs color man Scott Williams went to college? Also, where did Joe Morgan play baseball? What's Bill Walton's favorite band? Who is Brady Quinn's sister married to?

When does Raymond Felton become a certified Cav killer? He only had 12 points, but he added 7 assists and got 2 offensive rebounds. The Cavs held him to 5-12 shooting, but he was a pest all night. Felton is the Bobcat that has scored the most points in their short history versus the Cavaliers (thanks Aflac Trivia!).

Sean May kills the Cavs as well. May had 15 points and 13 boards and whenever the Cavs made a run to push the lead up to 7 or 8, May seemed have some kind of bucket (put back, post move) to bring the Bobcats back.

Anyone else notice that opposing teams go right at LeBron. Be it Gerald Wallace, Adam Morrison or Brevin Knight, whoever LeBron was guarding seemed to have the green light all night long. To be fair, Knight was aggressive all night long, he finished with 11 points and 14(!) assists (I don't know if you've heard or not, but the Cavs have trouble with quick guards).

I only trust two players shooting 3s for this team. Damon Jones and Dan Gibson. That's it. Everyone else.... meh.

The bigs played well. The Cavs are finally getting Z regular touches throughout the game, within the flow of the offense (it actually looks like they aren't forcing it down low). I'd like to see him use his post game more (who doesn't love slow, old-man post moves?) but getting him open 15 foot jumpers is alright by me (he finished with 9 points on 4-8). Gooden was especially active early in the game (10 points, 7 boards at half) but hit some big shots in the fourth.

Varejao was the biggest big. On his wig night, Anderson played 35 minutes (the most of any big man) and finished with 16 points and 10 boards. When Gooden was out, Andy proved he could play big minutes (at least short term) and he responded versus the Bobcats (he even was 8-11 from the charity stripe). There were a few plays were Varejao may not officially gotten the rebound or assist, but he made a play to keep the possession alive and the Cavaliers capitalized.

and finally...

Oh yeah, Larry Hughes. Hughes (and Gooden) returned to the starting lineup tonight and Larry played big, especially down the stretch. He blocked an Okefor jumper, got a key steal on Charlotte's chance-to-tie possession and hit a couple free throws to seal the victory. For the game, Hughes had 16 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists and 4 steals.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

We have to stop the Plain Dealer

I'm not really sure what's going on over there, but I don't like it.

First Branson Wright made up a Wade-Bosh-LeBron to the Knicks scenario. And when I say made up, I really mean that. Made. Up. Maybe Wright was sick of getting his ass handed to him by Brian Windhorst of the Akron Beacon Journal (BW is to the Cavs what Ed Werder is to the Cowboys), I dunno. But that was terrible.

Then, for no reason, Bill Livingston took a shot at Troy Smith for doing something bad (elbowing someone during a basketball game? For shame Troy Smith) as a junior in high school. Was it newsworthy? No. It was Bowling Green week and Livingston needed something to write about. He did however praise Smith this past week after that little Heisman thing.

A few days later, Toni Grossi floated a 'Jim Tressel to the Browns' rumor. Now, I hate this rumor. As a fan of both organizations, this is the last thing I want. I can't imagine this is factually based and I see no reason for Tressel to leave OSU.

(Why I don't like it? Glad you asked. If Tressel leaves Columbus, this hurts OSU. They need to find a new coach and there's no way he'll be able to stack up to Tressel. Up in Cleveland, Tressel would take over a sorry franchise that hasn't mattered in about a decade. Could Tressel be a good NFL coach? I would give a solid 'maybe'. Sure, college coaches don't always translate well to the NFL, but hell, Tressel won a national title with Craig Krenzel as his QB. He can do anything. Except win with the Browns. No one can do this. Why tarnish Tressel's good name by moving him 2 hours North. Keep him and his legacy (and his BCS victories) in Columbus where they belong. Let some other poor bastard coach the Browns.)

Bill Livingston weighed in on the Tressel rumor (that his paper started). Not surprisingly, he doesn't think Tressel can do it either. He gives a couple reasons (talent evaluation, discipline and gangsta culture) that I don't particularly get. Don't believe me?
He went with Steve Bellisari in 2001 out of loyalty to a senior, and Bellisari betrayed him on and off the field. He chose Scott McMullen over Craig Krenzel and Justin Zwick over Troy Smith. Zwick was the Maurice Carthon of Ohio State [funny and topical]. He would have pulled Tressel down like an anchor, had Iowa not knocked him out of the lineup in 2004.
Ya, I don't get it either. Tressel screwed up because he signed the top rated high school passer out of high school? So he loses points for going with Zwick and McMullen, but doesn't get props for going with Krenzel and Smith? Oh, I agree Bill, developing Smith into a Heisman QB speaks volumes of Tressel's talent evaluation.
Some wonder about the culture shock of the sweater vest-clad Tressel adrift in the gangsta world of the NFL. But wouldn't his winner's reputation, albeit at a lower level, buy him time?
Nothing screams 'old white sportswriter' than the word 'gangsta'. And Livingston ends the column with this:
When Tressel ludicrously suspended Robert Reynolds for one game for choking Wisconsin quarterback Jim Sorgi in a 2003 game, he said the act was an aberration, out of character for Reynolds. But Reynolds was suspended last week by the Tennessee Titans after he was charged with spousal abuse. His wife spoke of his "violent past."

Titans coach Jeff Fisher, admittedly in a rebuilding year, took a stand for principle over expediency. Tressel talks about doing that, but talk is often all it is.

What's the point here? Should've Tressel suspended him longer? Probably. But why does Jeff Fisher get praise? At this point, Reynolds has stuff in his past; there's more information out there (like the 2003 incident) to judge this current problem. Damn you Jim Tressel, if you had only suspended Reynolds for three games instead of just one in 2003, we wouldn't be in this mess!

Livingston also took issue with Tressel abstaining from voting in the final coaches poll. Of course he did.

Finally, today columnist Bud Shaw suggested the Browns hold on to Romeo... until Bill Cowher becomes available. That's right, Bill Cowher.

At this point are they just suggesting candidates within a 3 hour driving radius? Hmm... I like Marvin Lewis, but that's too far away.

Look, Cowher is obviously a good/great coach. But if he's burned out with coaching the Steelers, why the hell would he come to Cleveland to rebuild? And why would the Browns want him? Also, why would Browns fans want the Steelers coach? I hate the Steelers. Hate 'em, there's no way I would want Cowher here. I've hated him for too long. Too many chin jokes, to many Sgt. Slaughter jokes. Too many times laughing at that Cowher Wal-Mart pic.

I get what Shaw is saying. The Browns should hire a coach with experience. Fine. But the Browns hiring Bill Cowher reminds me of the Dolphins hiring of Jimmy Johnson a few years back. Sure, he's a great coach, but it just didn't seem like he'd be into it. In my opinion, if Cowher came here, it'd mostly be because of a paycheck (especially if he's 'worn out' from Pittsburgh).

Oh, and trust me, I hate to say this, but why in the world would Bill Cowher leave the Steelers to come coach the Browns? Does he feel like the Pittsburgh organization puts too much emphasis on offensive linemen and wants to coach somewhere the O-line is an afterthought? Does he want to opportunity to draft receivers in the second round for 4 years in a row? What could possibly compel him to leave Pittsburgh for the Browns.

Now, which one of those articles do you think a Cleveland fan would enjoy, A baseless LeBron-to-NYC rumor, which we hear enough about from Bill Simmons and Mark Stein, ripping the stars of Ohio State football, even though OSU is the best sports franchise in Ohio, or suggesting that the Browns go after a longtime Steeler icon? Hmm... what'll piss of Clevelanders the most... What the hell is the point here? I know they want to print interesting rumors and get people talking, but come on. Are you just trying to piss of Cleveland fans more?

This is what I look forward to reading every morning. Awesome

And you know what the crazy thing is? None of this involved Roger Brown.

Monday, December 11, 2006

New Orleans/Oklahahoma 95, Cleveland 89

Dammit. This is a game that they could've won. I had the pleasure of hearing some of this game on the radio and Joe Tait was saying how he always worries about these types of games- missing a ton of players, at home after they've lost a bunch. The Hornets were like a wounded animal.

The starting lineup didn't change. With Drew Gooden still out and Larry Hughes in just his second game back, Mike Brown kept both Anderson Varejao and Boobie Gibson in the starting lineup. Brown might have a hard time taking them out; Gibson had 14 points and Varejao had 17 and added 8 boards (obviously, Hughes will return to the starting rotation when fully healthy, I'm not as confident Gooden will).

LeBron didn't play particularly well. It's hard to say a guy didn't play well with a line like this: 15 pts, 7 rebounds, 6 assists and 4 steals. The problem was he shot too many jumpers and didn't get to the line (only 1 free throw attempt).

Also, Tyson Chandler's late block on James? That was a foul. Twice. Desmond Mason fouled LeBron as he was going up and Chandler got him with lower body and forearm. Bad no call. Especially bad no call on a super star; come on NBA, I've been waiting my whole life for the Cavs to have a star of this magnitude- I want to cash in on the cheap whistles too.

Does anybody get excited when Donyell Marshall comes in? Marshall has had a sub par year so far and I never like how the Cavaliers play when he's out there. They seem to settle for way too many jumpers and they don't crash the boards. Marshall also had a terrible sequence where he missed a layup and fouled Chris Paul on a jumper, late (basically after he shot it) for a 3 point play. Not a good 10 seconds. (But here's the thing: I get pretty frustrated when I see Donyell just sit out there waiting for a 3, but I never like it when he puts it on the deck and moves towards the hoop either. I just don't. So I guess I'm saying that I have no idea what I would like him to do).

Too many jumpers. Again. The Cavs offense wasn't awful; they passed the ball and got a lot of people involved (like Z, who finished with 15 and 12) but they still settled for a lot of jumpers, especially in the second half. They shot 7-21 from three point range and they only took 17 free throws.

Even though I'm bitching about the jumpers, the defense, not the offense, was the culprit here. Sure I would've liked to see less jumpers and more FTAs, but I would've loved to see someone play some solid D. Chris Paul got whatever he wanted and the Cavs couldn't stop him (11-16, 30 points). I know Paul is great and all, but 11-16 is pretty bad. Make him work. The Hornets shot 54% as a team... not good.

Coach Brown did alright. I saw him yelling, so that's a start. So seeing him actually getting worked up is a start. He didn't really go deep into his bench- only Hughes, Marshall and Jones got off the their ass (take that as you will). I'd have like to see Shannon Brown play a bit more (I know Pavlovic's supporters would've like to seen him out there and David Wesley's supporters? They don't exist). I guess alright means 'nothing glaringly bad'; I mean, he did just lose to 9-10 while letting NOOCH shoot 54%...

I'm not saying the Cavs should've won this game. I don't like saying teams should've won games on the road; road games are tough no matter who you're playing- there are no gimmes. But it is a tough loss to swallow. Especially when you consider that they wasted a 14 point effort by Gibson, a 15 point, 12 board night from Z and Andy's second start goodness.

and finally

You'd have liked them to have won this one and gotten themselves on a win streak. If they had beaten the Hornets, the Cavaliers would've been on a 3 game win streak with upcoming games at home versus Charlotte and Seattle (both extremely winnable). That would've been a nice 5 game win streak going into Saturday's big game against Orlando.

Random Thoughts from the Weekend

1. Troy Smith. Heisman.

2. Inevitable sappy story

3. Brady Quinn still considered a better draft choice

4. My buddy Nick is a Lions fan (that poor bastard) and he is dreading that they'll take Quinn. Just dreading. Which brings up an interesting question, is anyone out there excited at the prospect of their team drafting Brady Quinn? Lord knows, I'm not.

5. Should the Browns draft Troy Smith? Yes, I'm down for that. With their first pick? Umm...

6. I love Smith, don't get me wrong, but right now the Browns are drafting somewhere in the 4-7 range (and could move up depending on how bad they suck the rest of the year). Is taking a QB in the top 10 the right move? I say no. The Browns need so much (O-line, D-line, running back, another corner) that taking any QB that early could be a mistake. Now, say the Browns end up drafting 2 or 3 and they want to trade down for multiple first round picks and take Smith and a left tackle? Yes. Oh God, yes.

7. Dan Shanoff didn't think Smith should've won.

8. I used to read Shanoff in the early days of The Daily Quickie on I liked the idea (a recap of the previous days sports) but I got sick of the constant Cleveland/Ohio bashing. Every once in awhile I'll catch myself getting pissed off while reading his blog. I'm not sure why. He's like a national Roger Brown.

9. Are you aware that Smith is the first QB from the Big 10 to win the Heisman? The first. Weird.

10. It's official. I now hate the Gators.

11. I didn't watch a whole lot of the Browns-Steelers game (new Scrubs and 30 Rock). Can you blame me?

12. Whenever I flipped to the game, I always seemed to tune in just in time to watch Dennis Northcutt drop a pass. I'm not exactly sure why he is still on the team.

13. I'd like to know how Derek Anderson wasn't sacked. For an entire game. And look, I know he's got a quicker release (compared to Frye) and all that crap, but Frye had a few plays where he got sacked on a handoff.

14. The O-line is the main reason I don't want the Browns to draft Troy Smith. Nothing in their recent history suggests that they'll give Smith the tools to help him succeed (you know, a running game, offensive linemen, receivers not named Dennis Northcutt, etc). I'd like to see Smith succeed in the NFL, not get destroyed once a week in orange and brown.

15. Terry Pluto says that Anderson should start versus Baltimore. I agree.

16. The Browns division record under Romeo? 1-10; if you're looking for a good reason to can the guy, I'd start with that. Via MMQB

a. The Browns are 1-10 against AFC Central foes under Romeo Crennel. That is unfathomable. They've now lost to the Steelers by 4, 20, 41 and 13 points, to Cincinnati by 15, 30, 14 and 3. Oh-for-8 against the Steelers and Bengals. Ridiculous.

b. Thought of this while watching the Steelers' rout of the Browns: You know what worries me about Crennel's teams? Even with injuries, there's enough talent there not only to be better, but also to compete against the best teams in the league. They were absolutely non-competitive for most of that game the other night. How does a Crennel team allow a running game to steamroll it like that?

17. Ted Washington. Good signing.

18. LeCharles Bentley is the John Smiley of the Browns.

19. AI to the Cavs? No thanks. I'll use Pluto's reasons:

Some fans are suggesting the Cavaliers trade for Philadelphia 76ers guard Allen Iverson. Some fans just don't get basketball. Or, that you can only play with one basketball at a time. That has been the wisdom of Danny Ferry, the Cavaliers' general manager who brings in players who can play with LeBron James and whom LeBron's fame doesn't threaten.

Here's the deal with Iverson, he dominates the ball. He can't help it, he's just wired that way. This season, he's shooting only 41 percent from the field -- 22 percent on 3-pointers -- yet he's taking nearly 25 shots a game! That's close to his career average. Iverson just shoots -- a lot. By contrast, James is averaging 20 shots this season, making 48 percent.

Yes, James said all the right things. He likes Iverson. And yes, he could play with Iverson. All of that is true, and James would try to make it work. James never will say anything critical about one of the league's great players. He's too smart and too respectful. But Iverson is the wrong guy at the wrong time for the Cavs.

Iverson is 31, and he has a lot of miles on that skinny 6-foot, 160-pound frame. He plays enormous minutes. He plays extremely hard. He is one of the best in the NBA at getting open without the ball. But he's a scorer, and the team that trades for him should be a team that needs a scorer. The Cavs don't.

20. As a basketball fan, I'd like to see Iverson end up in Minnesota with KG. I wouldn't be surprised if AI lands in Chicago (for a combo like Ty Thomas, Ben Gordon and a draft pick).

21. I guess it isn't too shocking that the Cavs grabbed Gibson in the second round after all:

Gibson and his father, Bryon, saw it as an opportunity. Like buying low and selling high, the Gibsons formulated a plan that went against the grain.

``At first, I was like `I'm going to go to every workout with every team possible and I'm going to get into that first round,' '' Gibson said. ``But after a while you figure out that what you really want is to get into the right situation, a place you can flourish.''

Just when that epiphany came isn't clear, but it was probably after an afternoon in May when Gibson worked out for the Cavs at Quicken Loans Arena. After that workout, Gibson's father, who was acting as his agent at the time, called off a long West Coast trip he'd set up to showcase his son. It was decided that despite being a bubble pick -- anywhere from the late first round to undrafted -- no one else was getting a look.

Not even the hometown Houston Rockets, who repeatedly called him wanting to take a look after a preliminary workout. Gibson worked out for just two teams, the Rockets and the Cavs. And he wasn't returning the Rockets' phone calls.

``My parents and I sat down and decided we weren't going to work out anymore,'' Gibson said. ``Teams wanted me to come, but my father stuck to his guns. He told them they could draft me if they wanted, but they weren't going to get a workout.''

The Cavs had three picks in the draft last June and Gibson's family already had a relationship with Cavs assistant general manager Lance Blanks, who was formerly a star at Texas himself.

In fact, the Cavs had a 50-page dossier on Gibson. They knew all about him, his background, his family, and his game -- a game that perhaps was underused at Texas and then kept hidden from other NBA teams.

23. Did LeBron almost get cut during the Olympic tryouts? And look, even if he did show up with a bad attitude, look at how he played during the Worlds; he cut his game back more than anyone, passed the ball and set up his teammates. Even if he stunk it up the first couple days, he obviously turned it around.

24. One of the comments from the article on Gibson reads as follows:

ABJ a liberal leftist RAG. Look at the opinion on the Iraq council. Why don't you ever print the real news ask the soldiers what a threat radical ISLAMISM is to our country. You are not fair and totally biased keeping the public in the dark about the real issues. Instead of reporting all you do is Formulate leftist liberal opinions keeping the public dumbed down. You are not a service to our community.

First of all, nice comment on a sports article. Well done. Second of all, I knew there was a reason I liked the ABJ so much. I just figured it was quality writing, but nope, it's their liberal agenda that keeps me coming back for more.

25. I know what I'm giving out for Christmas.

26. Joe Biden... haha

27. Matt Stone and Trey Parker: Download the show

28. This is dumb. Stupid liberal media...

29. These videos are a delight.

30. I start a new job today. Wish me luck.