2010 WINTER OLYMPICS
Mike Milbury, hockey analyst, former NHL player and present know-it-all, stated prior to the 2010 gold hockey game yesterday that “only two, maybe three players on Team USA could even make the Team Canada roster.” The fact that USA took Canada to overtime conceivably will close Milbury’s mouth for a while. Uh, not!
It looked like a NHL all-star game, and it was, but with immeasurable meaning. Congratulations to my two favorite countries for making the gold game. I felt Team USA would have problems with Team Canada, and they did. In addition to a stronger Canadian roster (I’ll give Milbury that), it was a home game for Team Canada in Vancouver, but my home team should be proud of their performance in taking silver medal honors when, as was stated after the game, many thought Team USA’s hockey contingent had been an afterthought.
USA goaltender Ryan Miller could only do so much. Only a shot from Canada's favorite, Sidney Crosby, 7:40 into overtime during yesterday’s gold medal game, kept him from carrying the United States to a perfect mark and the top spot on the Olympic podium. Ryan Miller made 36 saves in an enemy arena rooting hard against him. Miller, Buffalo Sabres goalie, was the tournament MVP. The American goaltender was exceptional, as was his counterpart, Team Canada’s Roberto Luongo of Vancouver. Luongo made 34 saves in his own NHL arena yesterday. He went 5-0 in the tournament, and 4-0 after replacing Martin Brodeur in net following America's 5-3 win a week ago.
One of my favorites is Team USA’s Zach Parise of New Jersey and son of former NHL player J. P. Parise, a clutch player himself. It’s in the Parise genes. Zach tied the game yesterday with 25 seconds left in regulation. Had the U.S. won the gold, that goal would rank among the storied moments in American Olympic history.
Hockey is my main attraction in the winter Olympics (that is a gross understatement), but here’s to Team USA for being the chip leader in the 2010 games with 37 medals. Nine were gold. I wish it had been 10.
MEMPHIS VERSUS KANSAS. 2008 MARCH MADNESS.
If you’re a U. of Memphis fan (that I am, along with being a former Memphis resident), you’ll always remember April 7, 2008, a date that will live in infamy. It was the March Madness title game against Kansas. The fact that Memphis won a record 38 games in 2007-08 meant little that night in San Antonio. In fact, it meant absolutely nothing.
Kansas’ game-saving 3-pointer came after Memphis missed four of five free throws that would have put the game and the title out of reach. Memphis blew a nine point lead with 2:12 left in regulation.
I blame John Calipari totally for the outcome of that game. The ending made a mockery of Memphis coach Calipari's theory that his players, ranked 339th of the country's 341 teams with 59 percent free throw shooting, didn't have to be good because they would always come through from the floor when the stakes were highest.
"It will probably hit me like a ton of bricks tomorrow, that we had it in our grasp," Calipari said after the game. All those bricks meant something in a game where every point counted. Unfortunately, Calipari wasn’t hit by a ton of bricks the next day.
Kansas used the strategy any smart opponent of the Memphis Tigers would – foul the hell out of one of the country's worst free-throw-shooting teams - and when Memphis made only one of five from the charity line over the last 1:12, it left the door wide open for KU. Kansas tied the game in regulation, and won in overtime.
Let’s go back to re-examine a couple of earlier points. Memphis shot just 59% from the foul line all year. They ranked 339 of 341 teams in that department. You would think that Calipari would place far more emphasis on the importance of free throw accuracy than he did. To the contrary, he placed absolutely no importance on it. He had all season to work on free throw fundamentals with his players, he obviously did not, and this by his own admission as he felt his team was good enough from the floor to win anyway. No team is that good!
Despite the ineptitude of John Calipari, he became the highest paid collegiate basketball coach in the land, moving to the U. of Kentucky. In the process, he took some Memphis letters-of-intent with him. If you’re a true sports fan, you’ll fully understand the statement that we love to hate certain people in the game, be they teams, players, coaches or whomever. I make no bones about it; I hate John Calipari. There isn’t a U. of Memphis fan who doesn’t join me.
At this writing the U. of Memphis (Conference USA) is 21-8 this season, and will hopefully be invited to March Madness. Wouldn’t it be poetic justice if it is Memphis that knocks Calipari out of the tournament on a missed Kentucky free throw?!
PACQUIAO VERSUS MAYWEATHER, MAYBE
So why did Floyd Mayweather’s ego stand in the way of a $25 million payday he would have earned had he agreed to fight Manny Pacquiao on March 13th? Well, yes, he did agree. He just wouldn’t accept the deal without Manny’s blood. Blood testing of fighters in Nevada is not required. Maybe it wasn’t Mayweather’s ego that botched the deal. Golden Boy Productions, Floyd’s promoter, has given him terrible advice. Bob Arum, Manny’s rep and noted boxing promoter, stood his ground and walked away from it.
Boxing News recently summed it up best. If you know boxing, you at least know Manny Pacquiao may have a somewhat hard time stopping Joshua Clottey via ko. Clottey is strong, big and a freakish specimen. That being stated,
Joshua Clottey will be lucky to win two rounds on the card. Clottey lost to Cotto, and Pacquiao destroyed Cotto in November. As Pacquiao is the best fighter in the business today, I plan to lay the huge line, as high as 6:1 in some Vegas books at this writing, on Manny on March 13. Let’s face it; you really don’t think Manny would fight anyone unless he felt strongly he could beat him. By losing before the Mayweather fight comes to fruition, if it does, would kill that record monstrous pay day.
So why is Mayweather fighting Shane Mosley on May 1st. instead of Manny? Bob Arum believes Floyd Mayweather, Jr. is afraid to step into the ring with his fighter. Could it be, is there that possibility, that Mayweather simply doesn’t want to risk his unbeaten career against the great Pacquiao?
Personally, I agree with Bob Arum. If, and if is the operative word, the big one ever takes place, kindly refer to this article. Pacquiao will end Mayweather’s undefeated record (if Mosley doesn't do that first, but I don't see that happening). And I’ll love it because the Mayweathered betting public will establish him as the favorite, and I’ll get odds on Manny for a change instead of having to lay them. That hasn’t happened since Pacquiao was a 3:1 dog to Oscar De La Hoya in 2008, and then demolished the once-Golden Boy.
NOTE TO MY MILLIONS OF FANS:
I'M BACK. I’M TENTATIVELY PLANNING TO DO ONE ARTICLE EVERY MONTH, THE FIRST OF EACH MONTH. IF BRETT FAVRE CAN UN-RETIRE, SO CAN I. BESIDES, I’M MORE ACCURATE THAN FAVRE, FORTUNATELY FOR THE NEW ORLEANS SAINTS.