Thursday, November 30, 2006

What's Wrong with the Cavaliers?

First of all, let me preface this with a little perspective, the Cavaliers have finished up the month of November and they are (at the time of this writing) one game out of the top spot in the Central Division and third overall in the Eastern Conference. Compared with their own sorry history and to the rest of Cleveland sports, complaining about a 9-6 month is almost laughable.


The Cavs and their fans had some pretty high expectations coming into this season; they ended their team huddles with a "1-2-3-championship!" and I half-heartedly called them the best team in the East. They opened the season with a win over the Wizards and followed that up with their first victory in San Antonio since the Reagan years. Wins versus the Wizards and the Spurs? This season looked promising.

However, the Cavaliers followed up their big San Antonio win with their first loss to the expansion Bobcats. Cavs fans were a bit bummed, but hey, it was a weird travel schedule (Texas to North Carolina??) and we figured it was just an early season bump in the road. Unfortunately, it was the beginning of a trend.

All season long, the Cavs have played down to the level of their opponents. The Cavs are 9-6, but 4 of those losses are against teams that didn't make the postseason last year. Plus, some of the wins haven't exactly been encouraging; the Boston and Memphis wins definitely left a lot to be desired. For whatever reason, the Cavalier team that played so well against the San Antonios and Chicagos of the league didn't show up against the Torontos, Bostons and Indianas.

One could legitimately argue that this team should be 12-3 (however, they could very easily be 7-8 if they hadn't saved those wins versus the Celtics and Grizzlies). So what's been the problem?

Unfortunately, there is no one singular thing that we can point to and say, "There- if the Cavs can fix that, they'll be fine". There's a multitude of issues the Cavs are dealing with (in really vague terms and no particular order):

LeBron James
Fox Sports Net (okay, not really, but they piss me off)

(I told you they'd be vague) Let's address them, shall we?

The Offense

It stinks. Mike Brown added a new motion offense this offseason, which replaced the classic 'stand around and watch LeBron' offense that was used for much of last season. At best, this new offense has been a mixed bag. The offense is supposed to benefit Hughes and James the most; get them moving without the ball and open up some passing and slashing lanes.

This offense require a lot of picks being set by Cavalier big men, sometimes multiple picks in one set. This is wasn't exactly the ideal offense for a 7-3 center with roughly 10,000,000 foot surgeries. Z had a rough time to start this season, bottoming out versus the Pacers with just two points on 1-2 shooting. Many, including Cavaliers beat reporter Brian Windhorst, didn't think this was the best way to use their $55 million dollar center. Since the Indiana game, Z has put in two very strong performances (18 points, 15 rebounds and 5 blocks vs Philly and 12, 12 and 3 vs the Knicks); he seems to have turned the corner.

However, Z's lack of touches wasn't the offense's only ills. The offense stagnates far too often; the Cavs fall back into their "LeBron watching" syndrome and they settle for way too many jumpshots. The Cavs said they'd used LeBron (and others) in the post this year. They seem to feed the post early in games but seem to forget about it as the game wears on.

The Defense.

Overall, the defense has been much better the offense; at the very least it's been more consistent.

Their main weakness has been quick guards. Even when Hughes was healthy, the Cavs had trouble defending the quicker guards of the league (and without him? Ugh):

Versus the Cavaliers, Tony Parker had 21 points, Raymond Felton had 23, Tryonn Lue had 19, Sebastian Telfair had 15, Chucky Adkins had 17, Nate Robinson had 19 and Jamal Crawford had 18. Not good.

The Cavs help defense hasn't exactly been stellar either. In Wednesday's game versus the Knicks, Eddy Curry got a multiple dunks and free throws off of various guard penetrations. The pick-and-roll play also gave the Cavaliers fits vs New York (they've had trouble with the pick-and-roll for a number of years now).

LeBron James

James has been wildly inconsistent on offense and just plain bad on defense.

James knows he can get his jumper off whenever he feels like it. So he seems to hoist it up whenever he feels like it. He doesn't go to the post nearly enough for my tastes (of course, I want the ball in the post on every possession).

James seems to start off games almost deferring to his teammates. He rarely looks for his own shot early in contests, preferring to get Gooden and Z some quick touches. I like this idea in theory; both Gooden and Z tend to play better overall when they have some offensive touches, but this can lead LeBron not getting himself into a good rhythm and he'll struggle from the floor (and the line).

LeBron's defense seemed to hit rock bottom on Wednesday versus New York. Quentin Richardson scorched LeBron for 27 points on 10-15 shooting (including 5-7 from three).

At times, James looks disinterested (and not just with defense). He's lackadaisical versus the lesser teams (Charlotte for instance) and he'll settle for too many jumpers. Part of me wonders if James is tired; he's played a ton of minutes the last couple years and he was playing all summer. James averaged over 42 minutes the past two seasons and is averaging just over 40 this season. For comparisons sake, Michael Jordan never averaged more than 40.4 mpg during a season (and just 41 a game for the playoffs). You got to wonder if James is tired; the Cavs have been riding him hard for 3 years now.


Drew Gooden is averaging 12 points a game but, like always, that doesn't tell the real story. Drew will follow a 20 point outburst (vs Chicago) with a 0 point stinker (vs Boston). You don't know what you'll get from him game to game. His play is maddeningly erratic.

As is the play of one Sasha Pavlovic. Sasha had great back to back games against Boston and Chicago, but then fell off the map. He's often out of control on the offensive end (committing too many charges and turnovers) and his defensive intensity comes and goes.

Speaking of inconsistency- Larry Hughes. Actually, when he's been on the court, he's been fine. He's just not out there enough.

But the consistency (or lack thereof) also applies to the team. The Cavs show up for the big games (the season opener, the Spurs and the Bulls) but fail to bring it versus the lesser teams. The offense comes and goes, as their team defense.


All of the aforementioned problems can come down to one thing: coaching.

The Cavs shooting too many jumpers and not going inside? Coaching.

The Cavs not being mentally prepared against lesser teams? Coaching.

Not getting Z enough touches in his comfort zone? Coaching.

Poor pick and roll defense? Coaching.

Larry Hughes getting hurt? Coac- wait. No. That's bad luck.

Weird substitution patterns? Coaching.

David Wesley being on the court? Coaching.

With some bad losses and some equally ugly wins, Coach Brown has started to receive some (not unwarranted) criticism.

Rarely do I see the Cavs run a good set play after a timeout; I'm not sure what they discuss, but I've seen too many inbounds plays that end up with an off balance Eric Snow jumper. Not pretty.

I also don't get some of his substitutions; Daniel Gibson played well versus both Toronto and Indiana, but then got a DNP-CD in both the Philly and New York games. Shannon Brown started those latter two games and played well in one of 'em (NY). He had 10 points in just 12 minutes of playing time; he started both halves, but once he sat down, he never got up.

The Cavs also react too much for my liking. Instead of forcing teams to play their style, the Cavs seem to willing to adapt to the opponents' style. One of the Cavs strengths is their big men. Z, Gooden, Varejao and Donyell Marshall are a pretty nice rotation, but opposing teams often go small and Brown seems to follow right along. Instead of going zone on defense and forcing feeding a 7-3 Lithuanian on offense, Brown puts out a line up that looks something like this:

Eric Snow
Damon Jones
LeBron James
Donyell Marshall
Anderson Varejao

Needless to say, the Cavs offense stagnates and opposing teams either cut the Cavaliers lead or take/increase their own. When they go small, they often get very few offensive boards, as Varejao is often the only going crashing the boards.

I'd like to see Mike Brown get fired up a bit more. The Cavs have laid some stinkers out there this season and Brown seems to take each mishap in stride; never showing emotion and never becoming very animated. Personally, I'd like to see Brown get a tech here or there (or even thrown out) just to light a fire under his team. Wake 'em up every now and then.

I'd also like to see Brown discipline LeBron more. When Gooden or Pavlovic blow a defensive assignment, they get yanked. But LeBron can play the worst defense and loft the most ill advised shot and he'll get 40 minutes a game. I know he's LeBron and I know he's the franchise and I know he's basically saved basketball in Cleveland (right now he's saving all of Cleveland sports), but he has to know when he did something unacceptable. Hell, even Damon Jones was giving LeBron some grief after his poor play versus Richardson. Get his attention. Prove a point; I don't care who you are, play some defense every now and then.

Plus, if Brown yanked 'Bron 'Bron every now and then, he might be able to get LBJ's minutes down under 40 a game.

I know I just threw a fair amount of criticism Brown's way, but I am not advocating firing him. Under no circumstances would I advocate that. The NBA hires and fires it's coaches way too often. The Cavs alone have had 6 coaches since the 1999-2000 season.

If the offensive problems persist throughout this year, I would make it very clear that he needs to hire an offensive assistant next summer. But it is way to early in this season (15 games) and into his tenure to even think about canning him.

Now, if the Cavs are having these same problems 15 games into next season? His seat would be pretty warm.


With the Browns in the midst of another awful season (8 years with no line, how long can they go?) and the Indians in the middle of the Offseason of Dellucci, the Cavs are the Cleveland fan's only source of sport pride.

And after losses to Charlotte, Atlanta, Toronto and the dreadful Knicks, the fan base is growing a bit restless (especially after the high expectations coming into this year).

My recommendation would be, as Douglas Adams would say: Don't Panic. It's a long season (82 glorious games) and the East is pretty weak.

I'm trying to look for game to game improvements. Better team defense. More touches down low. Consistent play from Gooden. Good shot selection. Blowing out weaker teams.

That last one is a biggie. If the Cavs can take care of business versus the lesser teams (instead of letting them hang around), that will enable Brown to rest the starters and play the rookies (with a big lead or in garbage time). The more they play, the more Brown will trust them in games that are close. I really believe we'll be seeing more minutes for Gibson and Brown come March and April then we will now (no matter what LeBron says).

Look, this season hasn't gone the way most of us would've liked, but the Cavs are winning and above .500. Hughes has been gone almost two weeks and the Cavs didn't get Z involved on offense until very recently. Hell, David Wesley got significant minutes.

Ya, things could be better. But try to calm down and have some perspective here: we're complaining about a Cavs team that is above .500. How weird is that?

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

New York 101, Cleveland 98

So... 3 days off to prepare for this game and we get this? The Cavs last played on Saturday. At home. They had 3 days to get ready for the Knicks. At home. Nice.

The Cavaliers end the month at 9-6. Nine and six. Nine and six. The losses? Charlotte, Atlanta, Washington, Toronto, Indiana and New York. Just awful. They should be 12-3 and the talk of the league. Hell, they could very easily be 7-8 (the Boston and Memphis games).

I'm sorry I have to say this, but LeBron is not the best player in the NBA. Trust me- it hurts to admit this. But there are two LeBrons.; the offensive LeBron and the defensive LeBron. The offensive LeBron is possibly the greatest offensive player in the NBA. However, the defensive LeBron? Not good. Not average. Bad. Quentin Richardson destroyed him. Q Rich scored 27 points on 10-15 shooting, plus he was 5-7 from down town. LeBron just let him hoist all night and when he did play up, Richardson went right towards the hole with no resistance (sometimes drawing a foul on a big man helping). Hell, the Knicks first bucket of the game came off a Richardson offensive rebound (LeBron was nowhere near him).

But like I said, offensive LeBron is pretty awesome. When he wants to be. LeBron started off taking some ill advised jumpers but then starting driving to the hole at will. However, late in the game LeBron really didn't take too many shots and the ones he did tended to be jumpers. Not quite what I wanted to see.

It was Drew Gooden 'bald head night' and Drew showed up- kinda. Gooden had 12 points in the first half, but finished with just 16 (he played only 23 minutes total). You can blame some of that on foul trouble (he had 2 in the first period) but he finished with just 3 personals (with the last coming late in the fourth). I'm really not sure why he didn't see more action.

I'm also not sure why Sasha Pavlovic got 22 minutes. Honestly, I don't get it. I thought Sasha played awful; he was 1-5 from the floor and finished with 2 points. He had a terrible one-handed runner (where he missed a wide open Z for a 14 footer) and he also had a turnover off a behind-the-back dribble in traffic (which led to a hilarious Nate Robinson show boating turnover). It wasn't like his defense was any good either, he didn't need to be out there for 209+minutes..

I would've given some of Pavs minutes to Shannon Brown. Brown started both halves, but once he sat, he never got up. He had 10 points and he played some decent on the ball defense; plus he was active and gave the Cavs a spark and some energy.

You can hate Eric Snow and Zydrunas Ilgauskas all you want, but they both played great games. That's right. I said great. Snow had 12 points, 9 assists, 6 rebounds and just 2 TOs, while Z finished with 12 points, 12 boards (7 defensive) and 3 blocks. Both of the vets played hard all night; Snow was taking it to the rim all game and none of Z's boards were his cheap volleyball stuff (two hands!).

Eddy Curry killed Cleveland. I don't know how this even happened. His one-on-one game was okay, but he got a TON of hoops off of other Knicks driving the ball and drawing the defense. He finished with 24 points and (just) 5 rebounds (seriously, how does dude that tall, big and athletic just get 5 'bounds?).

No Boobie. Part of me was bummed not to see any of Gibson, but another part of me was a little pleased. We all just saw an article with LeBron actively pushing for Gibson to get some more playing time. Don't get me wrong, I want Gibson to play, but I didn't want to see a major jump in minutes the game following the article. However, a little PT here or there couldn't hurt... right?

Which brings us back to the Cavs playing down to their opponent. If the Cavs would handily beat the bad teams in the league like they should, it would give Brown some leeway to give the rookies more court time. But because the Cavs play down to their opponent, the games stay close and Brown won't risk playing them. Which leads me to...

Mike Brown. Look, there's no way in hell I'm going to say "he's not the guy". It's been a year and 14 games. They won 50 games last year and they've been with out their starting shooting guard for about 2 weeks now. NBA coaches get hired and fired waaay too often... BUT the Cavs lack of focus versus these weaker teams comes from lack of preparation. And I don't get some of his other moves as well. Gooden and Brown deserved more minutes vs the Knicks. The Cavs went 'small' with Marshall and Varejao again and (surprise!) they got no second chance points (it was AV on 4 on the boards).

And dear lord, the late game decisions. The "Damon Jones hook pass to LeBron in the post, from the corner?" I'm sure the hook pass wasn't drawn up by Brown, but that wasn't exactly a good looking play before Jones screwed it up. Then Pavlovic fouled Steve Francis, down 3 with 36 seconds to play. This brings up a couple questions: 1) Why was Pavs out there? 2) Why did he foul? 3) Did he not know the time situation? 4) Did he know that Steve Francis is a 94% FT shooter? 5) Is it Brown's fault that Sasha didn't know these things? Somehow Francis missed both attempts and gave the Cavs one last shot to tie it. Of course, Donyell Marshall got that last shot. Awesome.

and finally

Three of the next four are against teams that they've already lost to. They play, in order, Atlanta, Houston, Toronto and Indiana. One would think that game at Houston would be the tough one. Nope. They'll be jazzed for that one. I just hope they're ready for the revenge versus the Hawks, Raptors and Pacers. Those teams have already beaten the Cavs and this is a good time to extract a little revenge.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Sign me up for season tickets!

The Tribe signed David Dellucci!!!

The Indians finally added that missing piece. No, not a closer. Or other bullpen arms. Or a first baseman.

David Dellucci. For just 11.5 million dollars over 3 years, the Tribe adds a .292 average, 13 homeruns and 39(!) RBIs.

This is great, cause he can platoon with that other OF from Philly, Jason Michaels:
Dellucci, a left-handed hitter, will face all right-handers in left field. Jason Michaels, last season's starting left fielder, will face lefties. Michaels also could play right field with Shin-Soo Choo, if Casey Blake moves to first base.
Perfect! This also solves that pesky first base problem. Casey Blake is the perfect first baseman for this ball club. I really think the Indians needed a guy at a corner of the infield who's a guaranteed 0-1 count every time. I mean, Ryan Garko, who needs him?

Dellucci's contract is going to be 3 years for $11.5 million. A $12 million, 3 year deal for a 33 year old platoon outfield is awesome. There is no better way that money could've been spent.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Some Browns Thoughts

Bill Livingston threw Frye under the bus.

At first glance, so did Braylon Edwards. I was pissed when I saw this.

But it turns out he wasn't yelling at Frye, he was yelling at the offensive line. Ya know what? I'm okay with this. They were awful (of course, so was Frye). It probably wasn't the best way to handle the situation, but you know what? He was right.

Another thing, I know a lot of people have problems with Winslow and Edwards calling out coaches and teammates, but at least they give a shit. They aren't content with the status quo.

And finally, I want to know what Frye should've done on his 3rd INT. He was in his own endzone and a Bengal came in untouched. Frye is still inside the tackle box so he can't throw it away and if he eats it, he gets a safety. So what's he do? He chucks it before he wants to. Now, obviously, it's a terrible pass, but that was a lose-lose (lose-lose-lose) situation.

For the love of God, fix the line.

Random Thoughts From the Weekend TE (Turkey Edition)

1. The Turkey Bowl was a success once again. I want to thank everyone who came out.

2. These are some pics from the TB from this year and the last few.

3. There were a couple of guys who showed up for the game without being told to. Behold the power of the Turkey Bowl.

4. Nothing funnier than Joey Harrington going into Detroit and beating the Lions on Thanksgiving Day.

5. Tony Romo looks pretty good. All of his passes seem to hit the receivers in stride.

6. Did anyone see the Broncos-Chiefs game that night? Anyone? Hell, we have NFL Network and I didn't watch it.

7. You know what cracks me up? West Virginia losing.

8. Notre Dame sucks. They played two tough teams and lost big in both games. I hate them. However, I would'ved loved to see OSU play ND. It would've been a blood bath.

9. After Michigan, Notre Dame played (in order) Michigan State, Purdue, Stanford, UCLA, Navy, North Carolina, Air Force and Army. Guess that didn't exactly prepare them for USC.

10. Can we stop the Charlie Weiss love fest? When we discuss the best college coaches, Weiss's name should not be mentioned. At some point? Maybe. But not yet.

11. Jim Tressel, however, should be mentioned.

12. This is why the BCS sucks: both USC and Michigan (and Florida) have an argument for their inclusion in the title game. Some would say that this makes the whole college football season like a playoff. No. When there are three 1-loss teams, big time football schools from power conferences, that all can legitimately say they should be in the title game, the system is flawed.

13. And the argument that "the BCS gets people talking about college football. And discussion is good" is stupid. That's like, "The Bush-Gore recount was good for democracy because it got people discussing politics. Even though the Supreme Court decided the election." No no no no.

14. OSU and Michigan dominate the Big Ten honors.

15. America's schools just can't compete.

16. Quote from Thanksgiving: "You ever watch Mind of Mencia? I love that show. He [Carlos Mencia] tells it like it is. He really makes you think"

17. Now, I've heard the words "Carlos Mencia makes" followed with "me angry", "me want to destroy my TV" and "George Lopez seem funny" but I've never heard it followed with "makes you think."

18. Makes you think? His comedy is a bunch of stereotype jokes with Mencia looking smug because he just said something "offensive". Offensive comedy is fine when it's part of something bigger. But when it's just stereotype joke after stereotype joke, it isn't edgy, it's awful.

19. Speaking of awful, how 'bout those Browns? 30-0. At home. Wow.

20. Do they just like shitting on their fans for the holidays? Last year it was a 41-0 shellacking from Pittsburgh on Christmas Eve. Now it's a 30-0 drubbing by Cincinnati on Thanksgiving weekend. Both of these losses were at home.

21. Could this be the turning point in Romeo Crennel's tenure here? The Browns looked inept
on both sides of the ball.

22. Charlie Frye had 4 INTs and a fumble. That's not good. One of the INTs was off a Hail Mary at the end of the first half. The next two were with men in his face (no excuse, just sayin') and the final one was on their last drive of the game.

23. Here's my thing with Frye... In the best case scenario with a young QB (behind a good line with a running game), you expect some mistakes. He's a young QB, he's gonna make some good plays and some bad. But with Frye, you have a young QB behind a terrible line with no running game- it's a recipe for disaster. Again, do I think Frye is definitely the guy? No. But do I think he's definitely not? Again, no.

23. The PD floats out the Brady Quinn idea. For the love of God, NO!!!! The Browns CANNOT draft a QB early in the first round next April. Not with this line and running game. Now, if the Browns want to trade down for multiple first round picks to take a lineman AND Troy Smith, I'm more than down for that.

24. Taking Smith with an early first round pick would be reaching and he'll more than likely be gone by the time the Browns pick in the second round.

25. As for Frye, I'd go into next season with him penciled in as the starter, but I'd have a back up plan (unlike this year). Hopefully the O-line and running game would be addressed by the start of next season. Both are terrible.

26. As for Crennel, I really hope they stick with him for another year. But it wouldn't shock me if he's gone. Roger Brown doesn't think Romeo will be around in 2007.

27. Speaking of Roger Brown, Sunday was his last column for the Plain Dealer *tear*. He goes out in typical Roger Brown fashion, stating that Michigan is better than Ohio State. He won't be missed.

28. We're starting to see some Baseball Hall of Fame stories. Terry Pluto says he'll vote for Omar whenever he gets the chance. Bill Livingston says McGwire is tainted and shouldn't get in. And Buster Olney says McGwire (and Sosa and Bonds) should get in.

29. Look, I think you have to vote McGwire, Sosa and Bonds in. Yes, they cheated. But you have no idea who else cheated, or which pitchers cheated. As Olney says that you either vote for the best players of that era or you vote for none at all. In the age of steroids, pick the best players. Don't pick them for their number versus the past, pick them for their numbers versus their piers.

30. Could the Cavs trade for Kevin Garnett? Obviously, I'd love them to do it, but not if leaves the Cavs with basically just James and Garnett. They could make a run like the Heat; get two stars and a bunch of veteran role players, but I'd prefer them to take the San Antonio route; build for the long term and multiple playoff runs, not just one shot.

31. I couldn't agree more.

32. After an 0-2 road trip versus Toronto and Indiana, could Mike Brown be on the hot seat? I doubt it. Should he be? Again, probably not. He's already the third coach of LeBron's short career, I'd like to see him stick around for awhile.

33. Recently, I've had some issues with Brown's offensive game plan and substitutions. I could go for less David Wesley presence (and by 'less' I mean 'no') and more of the rookies. Gibson got some playing time on the two game road trip, but didn't see the court against Philly. Brown didn't see any action on the road trip, but starte versus the Sixers. I don't get it.

34. This plays music based on your mood. It's awesome.

35. So Carlos Lee has a 6 year $100 million dollar deal and Vlad Guerrero has a 5 year $70 million deal (a short four years earlier)? Doesn't exactly make sense, does it? I had some small hopes that the Tribe would offer Lee something like 4-5 years for $60 million. But $100 million for Carlos Lee? Good luck with all that.

36. Longer than WWII you say? Hmm...

37. launched a Love site. Seriously, listen to the album. Again, if nothing else, check out 'While My Guitar Gently Weeps'.

38. The Onion's take on the OSU-Michigan game.

39. This is pretty cool.

40. And this is just sick.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Cleveland 108, Philadelphia 95

some random thoughts from the Cavaliers game versus the Sixers...

There we go.
The Cavs actually beat a team they should've beat. Once they got the lead, they never let the Sixers back into it; they kept the pressure up and kept going inside.

Once they got the lead... The game started out with the same old problems: no passing and too many jumpshots. The Cavs were down double digits late in the quarter and were down by 9 at the quarter break. LeBron was 0-4 in the first period, with 3 of the shots coming from the outside.

The second quarter basically was the game. Cleveland out scored Philly 35-13 in the second period, taking a 9 point deficit and turning into a 13 point lead. They began the quarter with a 16-3 run (with LeBron on the bench) and never let up.

Zydrunas Ilguaskas had his best game of the year. By far. Big Z finished with 18 points, 15 boards (12 offensive) and 5(!) blocks. Sure, some of the offensive boards were his volleyball tips, but no matter, he was involved and active all game long. Z got a season high 17 shots and got a lot of touches inside. He also was diving all over the court for loose balls. Again, say what you will about the guy (and many do), but he puts forth effort. The big thing for him this was the fact that he didn't commit any stupid fouls; no dumb reach-ins or over-the-backs. He kept himself on the court.

Z's defense started the play of the game. Z blocked former Cavalier Alan Henderson's shot and started a fast break while culminated with a Damon Jones to LeBron James alley-oop. Just fantastic. This is the type of play I always try to point out when people say the Cavs can't be a running team with Ilgauskas at center. Big men start the break with blocked shots and rebounds, they usually don't finish them.

Eric Snow played really well. After a so-so game versus Indiana, Eric responded with 11 points on 4-7 shooting. When the Cavs get contributions from the center and point guard positions they are really tough to beat. Snow handled the ball much more this game and drove the ball to the rim, making the Sixers guard him. These drive opened up easy buckets for his teammates and Snow finished with 8 assists.

But LeBron had more assists than Snow. LeBron finished with 11 dimes and 25 points. After his 0-4 first period he came out focussed and just went towards the hoop (he finished the game 10-20). With Snow handling the ball more, James didn't have be the playmaker all the time and he got some easy baskets off cuts to the hoop.

The Cavaliers had 22 free throw attempts, 28 assists and were 8-16 from 3 point range. They spread the ball around, got to the rim and didn't force many 3s (after hoisting 25 versus Toronto).

This is a nice win, but Philly isn't exactly a great team. Of course, neither is Indiana, Toronto, Memphis, Boston, Atlanta or Charlotte. Though, it does feel nice that the Cavaliers actually beat a team they should beat.

Gooden was neither fantastic nor awful. Drew actually had an in-between game; usually he's either close to an all-star or non-existent. Versus Philly he was delightfully average: 13 points on 6-11 shooting plus 8 boards. This was the first game I've seen all year that Gooden kept his head in the game when he didn't have a great first period.

No David Wesley! Shannon Brown started the game in place of Wesely and looked every bit the rookie that he is. At this point of the season, Daniel Gibson seems to have more confidence than Brown. Shannon seemed to be rushing his shots and he also missed 3-4 free throws. Much to my chagrin, Gibson didn't see any court time, after playing 21 and 9 versus Toronto and Indiana respectively.

The bench was fantastic. Damon Jones continued his strong play (3-5 from 3, 12 points). Sasha Pavlovic had 8 points and 3 assists (one came on a "great eye fake" according to Austin Carr) and even guarded AI at times. Donyell Marshall only played 10 minutes but shot 2-3 from 3 and was a factor. And, as usual, Anderson Varejao had a strong game: 11 points, 8 rebounds and drew a charge or two. Did I mention that David Wesley didn't play? Delightful.

and finally...

The Cavs are off until Wednesday. Hopefully, with another 3 days off, Hughes will be back for the game versus the Knicks. Cleveland then has a revenge game versus at Atlanta on Friday night (and home games against Toronto and Indiana the following week) and a tough game at Houston on Saturday. Let's hope Hughes can get his game legs back during the Knick and Atlanta games so he can be ready to chase Tracy McGrady around on Saturday night.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Indiana 97, Cleveland 87

That game was awful to watch all around. No one gets off the hook. The Cavs offense. The Cavs defense. The coaching. The refs. The dumb Pacer bench that was standing the entire ball game like some mid-major in March. The Fox Sports Net camera work (I know I'm particular, but when I watch a basketball game, I like to be able to see the entire play).

It takes a special kind of team to have a 16 point lead and proceed to lose by 10. Once the Cavs were up big in the first quarter, I turn to my dad and asked, "so what quarter do the Pacers tie it? Second, third or fourth?" My dad: "Third".

At this point, I'm pretty sure we can all predict how the game will go. The Cavs start off the game by going inside and getting involved. Drew Gooden starts off well and the Cavs spread the ball around and gain a decent sized lead. The other team realizes that the Cavs have decent size and decide to go small and for some reason Mike Brown does too. The Cavs small squad gets killed, because their small um... whats the word... oh. yeah. Suck. With a combination of James, Donyell Marshall, Gooden/Varejao and two out of the three point guards the Cavs lose their lead due to poor shot selection and lack of rebounding (because only Gooden/Varejao gives a shit about crashing the boards). Brown now decides to go back big, but by this time Z's feet have calcified and he commits some really dumb reach in fouls and is a non factor for the rest of the game. By this time the Cavs are either tied or behind and they've lost all the momentum and are shell shocked by the fact that they lost that big lead and they start forcing shots. The game is close and the Cavs win or lose depending on how much awesomeness LeBron pulls out of his ass.

And the scary thing is, the Cavs are probably the best team in the East right now. Well, maybe. After this loss, Orlando has the better record and the Cavs are tied with Detroit. I'd give Cleveland the slight edge, solely because of LeBron. What a conference...

They miss Larry Hughes much (muchmuchmuch) more than I thought they would. This David Wesley starting business has to end, he played terrible. Listen to Terry Pluto and start Damon Jones, Wesley has just been awful; too many forced jumpers, bad defense and a ton of turnovers- this has gone on long enough.

And more Boobie please. In Toronto, Brown played Gibson for the entire second quarter and crunch time in the fourth. On Friday, Gibson didn't play in the first half at all, though he did get some minutes in the third and fourth (9 over all). With Wesley not producing at all and Gibson showing some talent, Brown might be forced to play the rookie over the veteran (the horror!).

It also might be time to cut Donyell Marshall's minutes. When the Cavs go small, Marshall is usually out there with either Gooden or Varejao. This is not good, as Marshall tends to set up by the 3 while the other big man is left alone for rebounding. The Cavs tend to have no motion on offense and they hoist jumpers with only on man down low. This spectacularly fun to watch. Play Gooden and Varejao at the same time; the Cavs have enough jumpshooters on the floor anyway. I could've used more Gooden tonight; he had 15 points in the first half and finished the game with 17. Meanwhile, Marshall shot 0-3 from 3 point range and 1-6 overall.

For the love of all things holy, post up LeBron!! He's huge. Scott Williams calls him a freight train every 5 minutes or so; the man is large. He's also talented and can pass really well. Put him on the block, his worst attempt down there will be far better than those off balance jumpers he shoots with 14 seconds left on the shot clock.

I guess what I'm saying is, I'm pissed at Mike Brown. The Cavs are better than these teams that they're losing to. These aren't just games that are winnable, they're basically upsets. Teams are psyched to be playing and beating the Cavaliers (I believe I'm the first person ever to type that sequence of words) and the Cavs just aren't bringing the energy to the arena. That's coaching. Plus, the substitutions and floor combos weren't stellar either (I'm pretty sure we didn't need 22 minutes of Marshall tonight- or any minutes of Wesley). Also, he must give the worst halftime speeches- the Cavs only scored 9 points in the 3rd quarter. Ugh.

Remember when Sasha Pavlovic showed up? Like almost 2 weeks ago versus Boston? Yeah, they really could've used him during Larry's absence. Good times...

This was the first game all year I was actually upset with Z. I guess I would be considered a "Z backer"; I think in general he tries hard, played alright on offense, rebounds well and played decent defense (he blocks his share of shots). But today he got 3 or 4 ticky tack reach in fouls. That's just terrible.

The refs stunk. A lot of people (Fred McCleod for instance) would say the Cavs got the worst of the bad calls, but Indiana got some terrible calls as well. The Pacers just forced the issue by driving the ball, going inside and crashing the boards. The Cavs didn't really do any of these things (especially when the game got tight). But I can't say the refs weren't bad causes well, they sucked. On one particular drive, Snow got hammered (just fucking nailed) by Jermaine O'Neal and no foul was called. I mean, he was decked. It was probably the worst no-call I've ever seen.

and finally....

Tomorrow's game could salvage this 4 game sin 5 night stretch. And by salvage, I mean a 2 and 2 record during a stretch in which they had a great shot to go 4-0. The Cavs are at home versus Philadelphia and I really hope they play a complete game from start to finish. Of course, Iverson went for 46 versus Chicago on Friday... I'd hate to see what he does versus Snow and Jones...

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Ray Davies - Thanksgiving Day

I'm not sure how many "Thanksgiving Songs" are actually out there, but I love this one. It's from Conan in 2005

Happy Thanksgiving

because I like this old column (and I'm lazy)....

Give thanks on Thursday

Benjamin Cox

Issue date: 11/24/04 Section: Opinion

I love Thanksgiving. It's definitely my favorite holiday, especially as I've grown older. Thanksgiving used to be down on the list, after Christmas and Halloween.

Don't get me wrong, those holidays still rule, but Christmas as a 21-year-old can't compete with Christmas as an 8-year-old.

Thanksgiving is a holiday to reflect, take a look at your life and see what you're thankful for. And even when things could be better, I'm still thankful for many things.

I'm thankful that I was born in a country where I can do and say what I want. I thank God I wasn't born somewhere like Iraq, North Korea or Sudan. I'm thankful that even if we were divided on Nov. 2, there's no violence or coups. We can disagree without bloodshed.

I'm thankful for my family and my roommates. I'm thankful for my friends here in Ohio and around the globe, from California, Colorado or Texas to Germany, France and Ireland.

I'm thankful we beat Michigan, and that when we celebrated, there wasn't any major riots.

I'm thankful I get to write my opinion every week, and I'm thankful for all the responses I get, like telling me my column was dead on or I have a point (rational people) or telling me I'm going to hell (the far right.)

I'm also thankful that Thanksgiving hasn't been overcommercialized (yet) like Christmas. Though Christmas shopping season starts the Friday after, that Thursday is still a nice, calm day. Since I've been at Ohio State, I've always looked forward to Thanksgiving. I mean, after a quarter of dorm food, fast food or (even worse) food I've made myself, just the thought of a homemade Thanksgiving meal makes my mouth water.

Not only do I get to see family members I've missed while at school, I also get to see friends of mine who didn't go to OSU (losers.) Thanksgiving is a time to catch up with old high school friends, to see how people have changed since you last saw them. Who gained weight? Who's going bald? Who broke up and who stayed together? Who (shudder) is getting married? Who has a kid? I can see which friends have changed, and the ways in which some never will.

Thanksgiving also gives us an entire day of football. It's not officially Thanksgiving to me until the Lions lose on national television. However, my day of football doesn't just include the NFL; since my junior year of high school, I've spent my fall looking forward to our annual game of football: The Turkey Bowl.

The Turkey Bowl is played mostly by kids I was in band with (from 3 years older to 3 years younger than myself) and we always have a good range of people show up. These are people we had spent hours with on busses and on the practice field; we saw each other everyday and now we get together just once a year. Every year we get together and tell the same jokes and share the same stories and, just for a little while, we're not worrying about our futures, bills, grades or girls; we're just a bunch of friends playing football.

I never cared for Thanksgiving as a child. I mean, no presents, candy or fireworks? What gives?

But since I've moved away from home and grown older (if not too much wiser), I've learned to cherish this day for what it is, a day of thanks.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Toronto 95, Cleveland 87

some thoughts from the Cavs loss to Toronto

The Cavs looked sluggish.
They got down by as many as 19 in the first half. The Raptors shot 73% from the floor in the first quarter and the Cavs... well... they shot a lot of jumpshots. You got to wonder if the game last night played a part.

Chris Bosh is real good. Bosh destroyed just about everyone the Cavs threw at him, especially Drew Gooden. Varejao had some success (drew some charges, kept him off the boards) but also fouled him 3 or 4 times.

Gooden wasn't really a factor. Besides being destroyed by Bosh, Drew wasn't really active overall. He only was out there for 19 minutes (four more than David Wesley!) and scored 8 points and grabbed four boards. After this seasons fast start, Gooden was thought to have finally 'got it'. But he seems to have gone back to his normal 'on-a-game, off-a-game' routine.

Neither was Pavlovic. Sasha played 13 minutes, hit 1 of 3 shots and played some below average defense. We keep waiting for these two to show some consistency, the Cavs could really use a boost with Hughes sidelined.

However, Damon Jones was a factor. Again. Jones didn't shoot especially well (12 points on 5-13 shooting) but he hit enough shots to keep the defense honest.

LeBron was this close to a triple double. He finished with 30-10-8 in 'only' 39 minutes of play. The Cavs did relatively well with LeBron on the bench, especially in the 2nd quarter when they cut into the big lead. However, it seemed like he kept waiting to take over, but never really did. He also clanked a couple free throws (he was actually fouled in this game) but

Hooray for Boobie! A big part of that second quarter run? Daniel 'Boobie' Gibson. Much to my surprise, Brown had the rookie start the second quarter. A bigger surprise was that Gibson played extremely well that Brown kept him out there for the entire second quarter. The biggest surprise? Gibson was out the late in the fourth quarter. Sure, he made some mistakes (he missed a couple wide open 3s, didn't follow his shots- one late in particular, and he played some so-so defense). However, I'll take some Boobie mistakes in an early season loss to Toronto in a trade off for the plays he'll be making come April and beyond. I've been waiting to see the rookies get some extended playing time all season (better than David Wesley extended playing time) and Gibson's strong play forced Brown to keep him in.

This isn't to say I'm blaming the loss on Gibson's rookie mistakes. Sure, his missed shots and the defense weren't ideal, but Snow's missed shots and defense weren't great either. Also, the offense only put up 12 points in the final period and they didn't get to the line at all. A night after LeBron took just a single free throw, the Cavaliers didn't get a freebie the entire fourth (they shot 12 for the entire game). Awful. Of course, most of the blame falls squarely on the shoulders of Chris Bosh. Honestly, he beat the Cavs every which way.

I miss Larry Hughes. I mean, I really miss him; Pavs isn't consistent enough, Brown doesn't play and the Cavs starting backcourt consists of Eric Snow and David Wesley. Larry gives the Cavs another offensive player that teams actually have to worry about. When Gooden and/or Sasha are on, the Cavs will be OK. But like tonight, when they didn't contribute much, the Cavs will really miss Hughes.

and finally

The Cavs are in the midst of a 4 games in 5 nights stretch as well as a 6 in 9. They had a very good chance to start off 2-0, and even though Toronto isn't that great, this isn't exactly a terrible loss. The Cavs showed flashes of bril- well, I wouldn't exactly say brilliance, but they showed flashes of decentness. Of course, they also allowed themselves to fall behind big to the Raptors. Sure, you would've liked to win this one, but it wasn't a complete loss... Did I mention that Gibson played?

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Cleveland 97, Memphis 94

In case you were wondering (and cared), I was out of town for the last two games (in Columbus for some football game), so that is why there were no recaps for the Wolves and Wizards games.

Drew Gooden had a monster game. 22 points and 15 boards. Well done. As always, when Gooden has a good game, it usually means he had a good start to it. He had 10 points (a couple of nifty three point plays) as well as a bunch of boards (I want to say 8) in the first period. This is coming after a couple clunker games (points-wise, at least). LeBron actively looks to get Drew (as well as Z) involved early in games (to the point where he almost seems to be deferring to them). Tonight it worked out for the best.

The Cavs started out strong... The Cavaliers were up 17-2 at one point and held Memphis to 36 points in the first half. This is a good sign, cause the Cavs actually seemed to be ready for the game and really took it to Memphis. At one point in the second half, they were up 21.

...but let Memphis back into it. Memphis had separate runs of 12-2 and 10-0 in this game (those were fun to watch). The Cavs held them to only 36 in the first half, but let them score 30 in the third period. This is getting pretty annoying. And if it annoys me, I would be willing to bet Mike Brown is a bit miffed as well.

The offense is consistently inconsistent. Stop me if you heard this before: the Cavaliers build a lead (or even a big lead) early on in the game by going inside and sharing the ball. Once they have said lead, they get complacent and shoot too many jumpers. The lead evaporates and Cavaliers now have sweat out a close game, where there wasn't one before.

How come the Cavs always change their style according to the other team? In his write up to the Washington game, Brian Windhorst said that the Cavs were more than happy to adopt the Wizards fast paced style, even though it eventually caught up with them. Also, earlier in the year Mike Brown has said that he sometimes sits Z more than he likes because the other team has gone small. Tonight, Memphis went small 'forcing' Brown to use a lineup featured the entire 3-headed point guard monster on the floor simultaneously. I must say, it was a dream come true to see Jones, Wesley and Snow share the floor. My question is this: why couldn't the Cavs have 'gone big'? Sure, Memphis is quicker, but put LeBron, Sasha, Gooden, Marshall and Z/Varejao out there and make Memphis guard the post. The Cavs built their lead going inside, why not keep pounding them? The Cavs were the good team in this game, force the bad one to play your style; don't adopt theirs (on your home floor no less).

LeBron was so-so. He was passive early on, as usual; opting to get his teammates involved (he finished with 9 assists). But when it seemed time for him to turn it on and take over, he couldn't flip the switch. Part of the problem is that he settled for way too many jumpshots and when he did take the ball to the hoop, he threw up some wild shots. He seemed to be forcing the issue and just kinda in a funk all night.

The stat of the night? LeBron James had 1 free throw attempt. And that one free throw? It came on a defensive 3 in the key. Awesome. So that tells me all of LeBron's shots were clean. He took 21 shots and wasn't fouled at all. Look, I know that James took some ill advised shots (way too many jumpers) and maybe some of his drives were a bit out of control. But I cannot believe that he took 21 shots (he made 7) and wasn't fouled on at least one of them. I mean, last June I watched Dwyane Wade shoot 2,443,543 free throws a game, I expect the same treatment for LeBron during a November game versus Memphis (honestly, no. I don't. I'm actually sick of seeing stars shoot 20 FTs a game. But the fact that LeBron didn't get to the charity stripe at all just seems a bit far fetched to me).

Shannon Brown played. A bit actually (well, 6 minutes, but in a row!). I guess the Cavs built a big enough lead that Mike Brown was comfortable having Brown start the second quarter. He didn't really do much (well, he did have a Sasha Pavlovic-esque charge) but he didn't look awful either. No better or worse than David Wesley.

However, Damon Jones looked much better than David Wesley. Damon scored 21 points, shot the 3 ball really well (5-8) and seemed to really be working his ass off on defense. He may not be starting, but he's playing in crunch time (and playing well).

and finally

It would've really nice if the Cavs could've put 'em away early. Cleveland started a stretch of 4 games in 5 nights on Tuesday (they're actually in the middle of a 6 games in 9 day stretch). A blow out win for the Hughe-less Cavs would've been a real nice way to start it off. The 4-in-5 isn't exactly against tough teams (they're in Toronto tomorrow, at Indiana on Friday and back in Cleveland for the Sixers on Saturady), but resting the starters early (and not dealing with a needlessly close game) would've been sweet.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Random Thoughts from the Weekend (extended edition)

1. I'm back, Columbus was awesome. However, no basketball was played. However, my body hates me as is, so it's probably for the best.

2. I'm not gonna lie, I was scared to death about Saturday's game versus UM. I thought OSU's defense relied too much on turnovers and could be vulnerable going in. Well, a 42-39 final score doesn't exactly scream 'defensive struggle'

3. Don't get me wrong, I thought OSU would win, but I was not all that confident. There were fans and talk show hosts saying it would be a OSU cakewalk. I don't know how anyone could think that.

4. Troy Smith sealed the Heisman deal right?

5. With Chris "Beanie" Wells and Dan "Boobie" Gibson, I think we're entering a golden age for Ohio athlete nicknames.

6. Lost 9 guys on defense. Lost 9 guys on defense. Lost 9 guys on defense. Lost 9 guys on defense. Lost 9 guys on defense. Lost 9 guys on defense. Lost 9 guys on defense. Lost 9 guys on defense. Lost 9 guys on defense. Lost 9 guys on defense. Lost 9 guys on defense. Lost 9 guys on defense. Lost 9 guys on defense. Lost 9 guys on defense.

7. Suck it Rutgers. Look, I really have no beef vs the Big East, but saying those teams are in the same league as the OSUs, Floridas and USCs is ridiculous.

8. We watched one of the local station's pregame show and let's just say I'm glad those videos weren't on national television. There are some insane people out there and it seemed like most of them were Buckeye fans. Deadspin would have a field day with those local reports.

9. This was (is) funny, but also awkward.

10. Michigan didn't fall in either the AP nor the BCS. Kinda cool/weird. If USC wins out they'll overtake Michigan. But if USC loses....

11. I actually don't know what I want. I'd wouldn't mind seeing a rematch of the two teams, but at the same time I'd like to see the Buckeyes beat someone else. Part of me would've loved to see a Big East team make it and get slaughtered. However, the only thing better than beating Michigan is beating Michigan twice.

12. Pittman has already said he's going to be back next season and he's gunning for the Heisman. I don't know if he'll get it, but OSU is going to have an amazing running team next season with Pittman and Wells.

13. Unfortunately, I wasn't close to campus enough for my tastes. I was around a little bit on Friday and it was already crazy. I chose to watch the game at a friends house instead of a bar, mostly so I could converse without shouting. Of course, shouting ensued.

14. If I had 'em, I would've sold my tickets for the game. There. I've said it. I never really thought I'd say it, but the thing is, I've been to big games. I was a sophomore during the 2002 season and I was at that Michigan game and I was at the Texas heartbreaker last season. Don't get me wrong, I would've loved to go, but $800 a ticket? Sorry, I'd sell 'em.

15. As for 2002... I enjoyed that season more. You know what I felt after Saturday's win? Relief. They did it. They pulled it off; they went through the entire season as number 1. Oh sure, I was thrilled and exited and wasted, don't get me wrong. But that 2002 year was just magical. I was in a student, I was at all the games (with all of my good friends) and the games were close. I don't know how many times OSU should've lost and they kept on chugging. This 2006 team is just so dominate; most of the games are never in doubt and even the close scores really aren't that close (Michigan needed an onside kick recovery and a game winning/tying drive- it wasn't exactly a nail biter). Plus, everyone on ESPN was just hammering OSU that year and it gave the campus a whole 'us against the world' feel. Again, don't get me wrong- this season is amazing and the team is way better, but there's something to be said for those close games.

16. As far as I can tell, there weren't many incidents on campus after the game. In all seriousness, that's awesome.

17. As for the second half of 'Rivalry Weekend' the Browns blew lead versus the Steelers.

18. Usually, this game would crush me. Beating Pittsburgh all game only to lose it in the fourth quarter? Damn. But you know what? After Saturday's triumph, if the Brown won, it would've just been the icing on the cake. Sure, it would've been nice, but for a 3-6 team to lose to another 3-6 isn't just a big deal.

19. Plus, the Browns didn't look awful. The defense played great but just tired out at the end. Josh Cribbs returned a kickoff for TD after a long Pittsburgh scoring drive. That was both a blessing and a curse. Sure, it got the momentum back and put the Browns back up 10, but the defense was thrown right back out there. Plus, the Browns offense didn't exactly wow anyone in the fourth either; the defense basically was out there for a quarter.

20. Frye had another game without an interception! Small victories! Baby steps people!

21. Winslow threw down Joey Porter. It was awesome.

22. Edwards had a pretty good game; I don't remember him dropping anything and he was a factor the entire game (he sometimes gets Drew Goodenitis and fades in and out of games).

23. Cavs-Wolves: Z showed up for the game. That is a great sign. Sure, Minny isn't exactly a defensive powerhouse, but with Hughes out, Z needs to step it up.

24. David Wesley got the start, which is kind of surprising considering he's been getting some DNP-CDs this season. I would've liked to see Pavs start instead. Pavlovic played a lot and committed a couple charging fouls. His court vision is probably his big weakness at this point. He's playing good defense and shooting relatively well, but sometimes he puts his head down and just runs over people.

25. Varejao is going to get punched before the year is done. Kevin Garnett was pissed Friday night and he and Andy picked up double technicals. Good times.

26. Surprisingly, I wasn't exactly interested in the Cavs-Wizards game on Saturday night. I have the game tivo'd, but I'm not sure I really want to watch it. I wasn't really confident going into Washington without Larry Hughes, especially after how Gilbert played in the opener. Well, he torched just about everyone guarding him and the Cavs/LeBron seemed to settle for too many jumpers. Oh well, can't win 'em all.

27. Shaq is out for awhile. It's Antoine Walker time!

28. Pluto says the Tribe is going to be looking for trade options rather than focusing on free agents. He says the FA pool isn't exactly robust and they'd have to overpay for mediocre players. I agree.

29. Speaking of overpaying... I was hoping the Tribe would make an offer for Alfonso Soriano, but the Cubs gave him an 8 year, $136 million deal. Well then. Good luck with all that.

30. Pluto also wouldn't mind dangling Cliff Lee out there. I agree with this as well (the Tribe's strength is their rotation, Lee seems to have plateaued and youngish lefties are always wanted).

31. I saw Borat on Friday and it was awesome. It is at the same time both absurd and cerebral and I can't recommend it enough. However, it'll probably be over analyzed and debated to death; enjoy it, it's delightfully vulgar and outrageous and it's full of slapstick physical comedy. Glorious.

32. However, I'm pretty sure I'm already sick of the Borat impressions. He's gonna be the new Dave Chappelle.

33. The Beatles' Love comes out this week. Buy/d0wnload/steal this album.

34. In case you don't know, Love is the soundtrack to the new Circ De Soli Beatles themed stage show. The show is approved by the two surviving Beatles and George and John's widows/estates. And the remixed music? It's done by the Beatles' original produce, Sir George Martin. So this isn't just some lame remix attempt by some jackass. This guy mixed the originals; he knows what he's doing.

35. As a Beatles nut, it's great just playing the musical version of 'I Spy' throughout the album. "Ah, there's the bass line from 'Helter Skelter'" "Is that the harpsichord from 'Piggies'?" It's great.

35. Stand out tracks? 'Because' is now a capella and is just gorgeous. 'Strawberry Fields Forever' starts with John's demo version and builds to the final cut as the song plays. The ending is simply breathtaking and may be the album's high light. Ringo's 'Octopus's Garden' starts off backed by the strings from 'Goodnight' to my great delight. Just beautiful.

36. The only new material on the CD is on 'While My Guitar Gently Weeps'. Martin added new string backings and the result is just stunning. I can't even explain it. The track is Harrison's acoustic take backed by a dark string section. The result is just haunting. If you listen to only one remixed Beatle track this year, make it this. Honestly, I think George's songs come off best. Of course, Paul and John just have so many, so George's always stand out.

37. Speaking of Beatles, Paul McCartney made a surprise appearance on SNL two weeks ago. Alec Baldwin hosted what was SNL's best overall show in years and the sketch McCartney showed up in was just fantastic. NBC had the video up, but I can't seem to find it. If anyone has a copy, shoot me an email.

38. Road trip to Arizona anyone?

39. I can usually watch anything, but I had a hard time watching this entire video. Ugh.

40. Turkey Bowl: 11:00 AM arrival time, game starts by 11:30, Thursday morning, at Darrow Road park in Hudson. I would recommend bringing cleats, a football and your game face.

Saturday, November 18, 2006


If anyone came by here looking for thoughts on the Cleveland/Minnesota game, sorry, I'm in Columbus for some college football game. I most likely won't have a wrap on the Wizards game either. I doubt you'll miss 'em.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

You know what this means... It's Ira Newble time!!!

Hughes is going to be out for at least two games. Windhorst thinks it'll be at least a week, maybe more. That two game time table is on the low end of the spectrum.

On the plus side, this give Mike Brown a reason to play the rookies early on.

Or Ira Newble/David Wesley. Guess which pair I prefer...

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Cleveland 100, Portland 87

some random thoughts from the Portland game

I was kind of concerned going into this game.
For a couple reasons: 1) Zach Randolph 2) Portland's point guards 3) Zach Randolph 4) Cleveland playing down to lesser teams 5) Zach Randolph. I was worried if one of Portland's guards (namely Jarett Jack) got hot, then the Cavs might be in for a long night. The Cavs came out and played intense from the get go, they were double teaming Randolph early and often and they seemed to be ready for the Blazers.

That being said, they still let Portland hang around too much for my tastes. I'm nitpicking, right? The Cavs didn't win by enough. The Cavs led by 18 going into the fourth quarter, I would've liked them to push the lead to about 20-22 by 7-8 minutes and just put the Blazers away. Portland cut the lead to 12 and kept hanging around just enough for Mike Brown to keep playing the starters, even though the game was never really in doubt.

The big story of the night? Larry Hughes. Hughes went down with 6:20 left to play in the second quarter with an ankle injury. Martell Webster just rolled over onto his leg during a scramble for a loose ball. X-rays were negative and the Cavaliers are saying it's not serious. Hughes didn't return to play and they had a bag of ice taped to it for the rest of the game. He walked off the court on his own power, so I guess that's a good sign. I wonder if he would've come back if this game had meant anything.

Fox Sports Net has been getting better. They stopped with the weird camera angles (you know, the ones where you can't see the play), so that's a good thing. I'm getting more and more used to Fred McLeod and I think by the time we hit the All-Star break I won't even notice it. However, Fred did pull out a Joe Tait impression, and let's just saying he should never do that again. Scott Williams? He did a bad Portuguese accent, talked about playing basketball in his dreams (and being the number 1 option) and started asking about "Hang on Snoopy". Ugh.

LeBron had a LeBron type game. 32 points, 8 rebounds, 7 assists, 2 steals and a block. Ri-god-damn-diculous. From what I've seen this season, he seems to pick his spots early in the game and really try to get his teammates involved. Then, once the second half rolls around, he just takes the game over. He also had a ridonkulous pass to Hughes on a fast break. It was awesome.

One of the teammates he kept trying to get involved? Z. Unfortunately, it didn't work out too well. Z just had a terrible offensive game, he was 1-7 from the field and threw in 5 turnovers just for good luck. You can tell he's now just unsure about even his post moves; he has no confidence. I really don't know what the Cavs should do at this point besides just encouraging him to take good shots and don't rush anything. However, I thought his defense was as good as his offense was bad. He challenged numerous shots and came away with 2 blocks (and one that looked to me like a block, but was called a foul). He made his presence known and I thought he played excellent overall defense. Brown even brought him back out when the Blazers made a mini fourth quarter run.

Dan Gibson played. Or is it Booby? Boobie? Either way, Gibson got his first minutes of his career tonight. Check that. First minute. He didn't exactly have a whole lot of time, but he did get an assist to Pavlovic (that got the Cavs up to 100 points, into free chalupa territory). I'm relatively surprised that we haven't seen Brown put Gibson out there just to defend one of the oppoenents quicker guards. Put him out there with Snow or Hughes (don't give him the PG responsibilities) but keep him out there for spot up 3s and defending the Nate Robinson's of the league. This is one of the reasons I'd have like to seen the Cavs put the game away earlier in the fourth. More Booby time.

Drew Gooden rebounded from two sub par games. Gooden finished with 17 points on 6-12 shooting. He was active early on, getting some early points and therefor he was active the entire game. He also played some decent defense on Randolph, who ended with 26 points, but got 20 free throws on the night, making 12. The Cavs made him work for his points.

Eric Snow was 6-6 from the floor. Ya, you read that right. Two nights after Damon Jones just goes off, Eric Snow is perfect from the field. And these weren't all lay-ups either; he shot a couple (wide open) jumpers. When the Cavs point guards hit their shots, the Cavs are going to be real tough to beat.

The bench didn't do a whole lot. Nobody scored in double figures, Varejao was in a foul trouble all night and they didn't hit a 3 ball (Jones took 5 of 'em) until the final minute of the game (Pavlovic's chalupa shot). They weren't exactly bad but you couldn't say that anyone had a real solid game.

Strike that, David Wesley was bad. Wesley only played 6 minutes but he took one awful 3 and managed to dribble the ball off his leg. Unguarded. It could've been the new ball (I think it went off his leg, it may have just gotten away from him) but it was a mental error either way. The new ball did alter a Larry Hughes entry pass to Marshall. Hughes put some spin on the ball and it just never caught the floor and had a clean bounce. That would be the first time I've seen the ball have any effect on a play (in Cavs game that is).

and finally,

The Cavs are on a four game win streak and they play Minnesota on Friday. It's the first night of a back-to-back with Washington and I hope the Cavs are looking ahead to Saturday's game. The Timberwolves are another team that Cleveland should beat, you'd like to see them take care of business and let LeBron (and Hughes if he plays) rest up for the next night.

Time Magazine's Top 100 Albums

... is awful

I have a lot of criticisms, but here's the big ones:

1) Compilation Albums. You can't have comps, I'm sorry. Having a Muddy Waters 'Best Of' shouldn't count. Albums should be a cohesive work. Greatest hits albums are mixtapes. Not the same.

2) The 2000s. There are 9 albums that are under the 2000 category and four of the artists are Hank Williams, Elvis Presley, Sam Cooke and Muddy Waters. I know these things tend to be skewed towards the 60s and 70s (not that I necessarily disagree) but only 5 real albums from the past 6 years? For shame.

3) The 90s is even worse. No Pearl Jam, no Sublime, no Rage Against the Machine and no Green Day. Did I live through the same 90s as everyone else did?

4) Bands not on the list include:

Pink Floyd (no Dark Side of the Moon or The Wall)
Guns n Roses (no Appetite for Destruction)
Pearl Jam (no Ten)
Rage Against the Machine
The Smashing Pumpkins (no Siamese Dream or Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness)
Green Day (no American Idiot or Dookie)
The Doors
The Kinks
George Harrison solo (no All Things Must Pass)
Paul McCartney solo (no Band on the Run)
The White Stripes (no White Blood Cells or Elephant)
Van Halen
The Cure
Billy Joel
Grateful Dead
Sonic Youth
Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers
Allman Brothers
The Police
Depeche Mode
Buddy Holly
Elvis Costello
The Pixies
No Doubt

feel free to add any that I missed in the comments.

LeBron and the NYC

I'm slowly coming to the realization that the "LeBron to New York" speculation will never die.

If you were unaware, LeBron has a new shoe, based off of NYC's graffiti, that is only being sold in New York. And the Nike store in New York? It's basically become a LeBron James museum. Henry at TrueHoop (which if you like basketball at all, you should already be reading) says this will all provide fodder for the LeBron/NYC conspiracy theories. There's also a multistory neon billboard of LeBron a block from Madison Square Garden.

So this should all mean that LeBron is gonna go to New York right? And Cleveland fans should be freaked out, right? Right?

Well, I would be kinda scared, except for the fact that LeBron re-upped with the Cavaliers. Even though Isiah Thomas kept signing guys who shared an agent with LBJ. Shrewd business move there.

Also, about that neon billboard... LeBron hasn't seen it (from a great article by Adrian Wojnarowski):

"I've heard about it," James said, but he hadn't bothered to leave his midtown Manhattan hotel to see for himself.

James shrugged his shoulders. Magic and Michael would have left the hotel to see themselves here, but LeBron never bothered. He never bothered to play the New York bargaining chip game, never bothered raising the possibility that maybe this would be the one city, the one building, big enough to blast his brand to the ends of the earth.

He didn't need a business school degree to understand the NBA's new world market. In the information age, LeBron could be King James anywhere, including the shadows of his hometown of Akron.

Wah? B-b-b-but... he needs a big market!!

He never needed the World's Most Famous Arena the way Magic Johnson did the Fabulous Forum and the way Larry Bird needed Boston Garden.

"I never thought about that," James said. "Me being from Ohio, playing high school basketball in Ohio and now being a professional athlete in Ohio, playing in this arena as a home court never crossed my mind."

Have anyone in the media actually ever heard LeBron speak? He goes on the Daily Show (when it's in Ohio, not New York) and says he probably would've come to OSU if he was supposed to go to college. Now, he may have just been pandering to the crowd, but before declared, OSU was one of the schools rumored to land him (along with Duke and Akron).

Listen to his thoughts on the Ohio State-Michigan game:
James made his prediction for Saturday's Big Ten championship game: OSU 24, Michigan 21. ''It will probably be the only time in my career I won't take a nap (on the day of a game),'' James said. ''I'll be watching them. Hopefully, we can pull out the game and we can go to the BCS championship game.''
He was also at the OSU-Texas game. He likes Ohio. Isn't that weird? He calls Ohio State 'we'. He was born and raised here. Stephan Marbury spurs the Timberwolves and Kevin Garnett because he wants to play near home and no one thinks anything of it. Of course he'd leave one of the best players in the world to go play for the Nets. He'd even welcome a trade to reunite him with Garnett, but only in New York:

Before the game, reporters asked Marbury about reuniting with Garnett.

"In New York? That'd be great," he said.

What about in Minnesota?


See, some guys like to be home, even at the expense of winning (honestly, Marbury could've made multiple playoff runs with Garnett. This angers the basketball fan in me), but since their home town is New York, it's okay. But LeBron re-ups with his hometown and the rumors continue to swirl that he can't wait to leave for New York.

I've now resigned myself to the fact that I'm going to be reading the LeBron to New York rumors for the rest of his time in Cleveland. They could win multiple championships but someone is always going to say he can't wait to play for the Brooklyn Nets with Nenad Kristic.

Cleveland just won't get credit. Anyone see Around the Horn or PTI on Monday? Both discussed Atlanta's loss to the Browns and both failed to mention the Browns once.

I know it's going to keep happening and that it won't stop. It's just the nature of the beast. But no one should be remotely worried about LeBron leaving until it actually happens, because guess what Cleveland fans, he's here now. Enjoy it.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Cleveland 102, New York 96

some random thoughts from tonight's game....

The story of the night is Damon Jones. 24 first half points? Obviously, we can't expect him to be 7-10 from down town every night, but damn, the rest of the offense doesn't have to work as much when opposing teams actually have to guard the point guard position. Jones has played well the past couple games, and I think if he can keep it up, Brown should think of replacing Snow in the starting lineup (Snow did not look good tonight, he even missed his free throws. Badly). Jones finished with 29, two off his career high.

That being said, no matter who starts, opposing guards will still kill this team. Raymond Felton? Check. Tyronn Lue? Check. Sebastian Telfair? Check. This time it was Nate Robinson. Quick guards just abuse the Cavaliers. One reason why I'd like to see more of Brown and Gibson is for defense (I know young guys have a rough time on D, but their speed alone you'd think would help). You'd figure one of the young guys could keep up with the opposing point guards. Tonight, Robinson got to the rim seemingly at will.

Speaking of the defense. The Cavs still did a lot of switching on the high screens, which led to the Knick guards getting to the rim. I'd like to see the Cavs fight through more screens (or at least not automatically switch). The fourth quarter defense wasn't that great either; at one point the Knicks were 14-17 in the fourth. The Cavs did get some key stops down the stretch; but some poor defense and some luck (a 35 foot bomb by Crawford) let the Knicks get it closer than it should've been.

In case you were wondering, neither of the rookies played. But Gibson dressed, I believe, for the first time all year. That's a step in the right direction.

Gooden has had two off nights in a row. Drew only had 3 points tonight on 1-8 shooting. However, he did grab 11 rebounds in just 23 minutes. Gooden started this season off real strong, but has kinda seemed lost out there these past few games. My knock on him has always been his consistency, let's just hope this is a bump in the road and not a trend.

LeBron started slow, then took over. LeBron seemed almost passive for the first half, basically deferring to his teammates. I believe he had only 5 points at halftime. He finished the game with 29 points, 4 boards and 6 assists. He made some nice passes out of the post (I'd still like to see him down there even more) and was 3-4 from beyond the arc. He was fading away a lot on his jumpers tonight, I know I'm nitpicking at this point, but you'd like to see him go straight up. But hey, they kept going in, so who am I to question, right?

Larry Hughes played pretty damn well. Hughes finished with 16 points, 4 assists, 3 boards and 3 steals, including a big one down the stretch. Larry can seemingly get a 8-10 foot jumper anytime he wants. His scoring takes pressure off LBJ and lets coach Brown rest LeBron for long(ish) stretches of time without the Cavs wilting. You can really tell Larry has got his confidence out there.

Know who doesn't seem to have any confidence? Zydrunas. Z just looks lost out there in the new offense. I saw some progress tonight, he had a nifty alley-oop type play with Hughes, but besides that he was basically a non-factor.

The Cavs started the game really slow. Again. It was shades of the Celtic game out there; the Cavs jumpers were not falling at all. Most of the shots the Cavs were taking were decent, they just weren't dropping. I'm really not sure why they're been starting off so cold, but I'd like to see them come out Wednesday versus the Blazers and grab a big lead and not let up all game.

Pavs is trying to keep those minutes. Pavlovic played well for a 3rd game in a row. But, like Gooden, you want to see him sustain it for months at a time. He played terrific defense all night and Brown had him out there for crunch time the second game in a row (he didn't even do an offense/defense sub with him). Sasha scored 7 points and had a crucial dunk late in the game. His offense has been impressive, but it'll be his strong defense that'll keep him out there.

and finally,

For two games in a row Brown has used the same crunch time lineup. So far I'm a fan of the James, Hughes, Pavlovic, Marshall and Varejao lineup. James, Hughes and Pavs are all big, strong and athletic defenders while Marshall and Varejao are excellent rebounders. At the offensive end, LBJ, Hughes and Pavs can all cause some matchup problems while Marshall can stretch the floor. If Sasha can keep his play up, I believe we'll be seeing much more of this group.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Random Thoughts from the Weekend

1. On PTI this Friday Wilbon said that Northwestern would "shock the world" and beat OSU. Was he serious or was he joking? Honestly, I couldn't tell (which was probably on purpose).

2. Not surprisingly, Wilbon's 'prediction' didn't come true. That was a slaughter.

3. Northwestern's first turnover, the Laurinaitis caused fumble? There's no way that should've counted, the runner's knees were down.

4. I enjoyed how ABC/ESPN kept the Michigan-Indiana score in the corner for the OSU game. It was kinda eeiry how Michigan and Ohio State kept matching each other score for score (after they both stumbled a bit last week).

5. One of the local news stations reported that the 'powers that be' asked Ohio State and Michigan to move Saturday's game to prime time, but the coaches nixed the idea. Ohio State probably nixed the idea as well, I mean, I would imagine they like their campus in one piece.

6. Couldn't agree more. What's better than beating Michigan? Beating Michigan twice.

7. Like I said for the 2002 game, there's gonna be a riot no matter what. The only question is if it's a happy riot or an angry riot. I'll be in Columbus for the festivities, but I'm not sure if I'll be near campus for the actual game (I prefer my car not on fire).

8. I'm not sure when I'll be making my trek down to Columbus. I might leave on Thursday night or early Friday morning. I'll leave no later than 2pm on Friday, so if you're in C-Bus, be prepared for my triumphant return.

9. Texas and Auburn ruined some of the BCS fun. I wanted a ton of 1-loss teams, but I wouldn't mind a ton of 2 loss teams either. The latter scenario could pave the way for the OSU-Michigan rematch. I either want that OSU rematch or I want the most screwed up scenario possible. A one loss Florida, Michigan and USC/ND would be ideal (a 1-loss Texas would've been sweet too). I'm sick of this 'the whole season is a playoff' bullshit. If your one loss is early you're okay, if your is late, you're screwed. Playoff please.

10. As for the Heisman race, if Smith leads the Buckeyes to victory on Saturday, he's got it about wrapped up. If he has a huge game, it's in the bag. If he loses, it's a toss up between Smith and Brady Quinn.

11. You have no idea how much I enjoyed West Virginia and Louisville's losses. I can't wait for West Virginia to smoke Rutgers and end that discussion as well.

12. I made Deadspin's Hugh Johnson Project again.

13. That's right, the Browns beat the Falcons. In Atlanta. On purpose.

14. Eric's right, it's gonna be "What's wrong with the Falcons"

15. I thought Frye played great today. He didn't throw any interceptions and he seemed to make some pretty good decisions. For what it's worth, his QB coach really likes him (or his game I should say).

16. The Browns secondary stepped it up versus Atlanta. Both Sean Jones and Brodney Pool did really well and even much maligned Ralph Brown made a few plays. With Jones and Pool, the Browns should be set at safety for awhile.

17. I heard on the radio that the Browns scored something like 20 points total in the first half of their first 5 games this season (the Carthon games). Since Carthon 'resigned' they've scored 32 in 3 games. Suck it, Roger Brown, Davidson can make Frye the superstar we all know he can be!!!!!!!!!!!!

18. The offense actually looked like an offense yesterday. Predictably, they slowed up in the second half, going a bit conservative. But the line wasn't completely awful (just kinda) and the Browns had something that looked like a running game. Though, as I've stated before, I'm not a huge fan of Droughns, and the running back position would be the only offensive skill position I would actively look to change in the offseason.

19. Here are Sports Illustrated's fantasy players to sit for this past Sunday: Ben Roethlisberger, Brett Favre, Thomas Jones, Travis Henry, Steven Jackson and Chad Johnson. Let's see how they did:
Roethlisberger: 264 yards, 3 TD and 0 INT
Favre: 347 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT
Jones: 113 yards, 1 TD
Henry: 107 yards, 1 TD
Jackson: 93 yards, 1 TD
Johnson: 260 yards, 2 TD

Good calls.

20. I agree with everything Terry Pluto says about the Cavs here. And I'm sure he'll get some angry emails for having the gall to defend Z in public. Doesn't he know Z is slow? Slow I tell you!

21. Bud Shaw wants to remind you that NBA players say stupid things. So does Bud Shaw. (Honestly, what's the point of that column? This just in, some NBA players are assholes! I just want to know why, when Stephen Jackson does something dumb, the NBA has a problem. But when Chris Henry does something stupid all it means is that Chris Henry has a problem. Why the hate Bud Shaw? Why?)

22. Studio 60 got picked up for a full season. Needless to say, I'm thrilled.

23. There's a petition floating around the internets to bring back Michael Reghi (in case you're wondering, I did not sign it). As you may know, I was never a huge Reghi fan (I liked him well enough, but I didn't think he was amazing or anything), but Fred McLeod's homerism irks me to know end. In a perfect world, I would turn on Joe Tait and turn the volume on the TV off, but we have satellite in my house and the delay is messed up (I know, I know, woe is me). My dad and I are trying to find some way to fix this scenario. No one holds a candle to Tait.

24. I don't have any new music recommendations this week, whenever I was in the car this I had talk radio on (did you hear there was an election this past week?) So instead of something new, I'm gonna let you know about one of my favorite bands of all time, Dispatch. When you ask someone if they've heard of Dispatch, you're receive one of two responses. Either they'll have no clue what or who Dispatch is or they'll like at you like you're some asshole who just asked them if they've ever heard of the Beatles. There's no in between; either they don't know them or they're appalled that you would even ask. The best starting point for Dispatch is the album Bang Bang, I've never met a soul that didn't think this album was at least 'okay'. Unfortunately, Dispatch broke up a few years ago (they had a giant farewell concert in Boston, which I was lucky enough to attend) but fortunately you can stream all of their albums at their official website. Check 'em out (at the very least listen to the acoustic gem 'The General' off of Bang Bang.

25. I strongly dislike Bill Plaschke on Around the Horn. It is somewhat comforting to know that he doesn't use logic on paper as well.

26. Lance Armstrong challenges cancer to a rematch.

27. If you haven't read Talking Points Memo, you should start.

28. Why shows like Lost don't work. h/t Boing Boing

29. This is a fun music blog.

30. I like the Josh Barfield trade, Let's Go Tribe has a good breakdown. This fills a need without the Indians committing any more funds. Which is all well and good. But this offseason's perceived success will hinge on what the Tribe does with the bullpen. If they go dumpster diving for bullpen arms yet again, they may have a riot on their hands.