Saturday, January 20, 2007

Following up

About a week or two ago, I posted about a piece I read concerning Major League Baseball's negotiations with DirecTV to make them the exclusive outlet for the Extra Innings package. Looks like they've reached an agreement.

Major League Baseball has decided that it doesn't want my business unless I use the television company that they've chosen. And so, I won't be a consumer of Major League Baseball anymore. That could change come May, of course, but I'm not getting DirecTV, and I'm not going to spend a full season watching MLBTV, so chances are, you won't be reading much about the Angels here anymore.

At least I'll be able to get to bed at a decent hour.

Wisconsin 71; Illinois 64 and Arizona 69; UCLA 73

Big Ten

Pretty predictable result. Quite frankly, I thought Wisconsin would roll, and Illinois made it a lot closer than I expected. They were victimized by some poor officiating, two calls in particular, but even more so by their own inability to make free throws. They shot only 60% from the line, and it seemed like every time it mattered, they could never do any better than one out of two. That was huge down the stretch.

The refs didn't help. They took two points off the board for Illinois when Brian Randle jumped to catch an entry pass and bounced to the rim for the basket and the foul. The ref inexplicably ruled that the foul was on the floor, which was interesting considering he was on the floor for about a tenth of a second. Later, with Wisconsin leading by only two and under a minute to go, Marcus Landry of Wisconsin drove the basket and ran over Brian Randle for an offensive foul. Only, somehow the basket was allowed to count. He rose, hit Randle, released the ball, yet still got credit for the basket instead of having waved off. A two point lead was stretched to four, Randle made only one of two, and that was that.

Good game for Sean Pruitt who had 19 and 14 against only one turnover. Another 0-5 for Jamar Smith, who let's face it, if this is all due to his ankles, he needs to be out of the lineup until he's healthy. On his last few shots, he missed everything. It's been really ugly, and either way, he's hurting the team right now. He's trying hard, but he just doesn't have it. Randle finished with 8 points, and seemed to lift the Illini when he started to assert himself down the stretch. He's turning into a poor man's Frank Williams. He sit out the first 30 minutes, and in the last 10 minutes, he makes you think "where the hell was he in the first 30 minutes?!" Oh well, the descent continues.

Pac 10

Boy is there egg on my face after I said Arizona would probably win. I forgot that they're loaded with guys who a) can't play defense, and b) struggle against teams that actually can play defense (UCLA, U$C, Wazzu....guess who three of Arizona's losses have come against?). A certain Cat fan once said "Defense is overrated; especially if you shoot 60% from the field." I've really only watched Arizona's last three games (48% against Oregon, 38% against U$C, and 39% against UCLA) so I guess I would have to watch a team that consistently shoots 60% to test that theory. Keep in mind that UCLA was missing its best interior defender as well.

Mustapha Shakur (11 points - six of which came in garbage time when the game had already been decided, 8 assists, 3 turnovers) showed why after four years, he remains one of the most overrated point guards in college basketball, as he was pretty much completely owned by a sophomore who wasn't supposed to be anything more than a backup this season (Collison had 14, 7, and 2). Juwann McLellan has gotten so bad that Lute is wishing he had kicked off a kid earlier in the season only so that he could reinstate him to replace McLellan. I'll give credit to Ivan Radenovic, who I actually noticed in the second half for the first time in his four years at Arizona.

A lot has been made of UCLA's "struggles" against zone defenses. Teams play zone defenses in an effort to make it difficult to get the ball inside (which often helps protect their own big men from foul trouble). The idea is to force your opponent into jump shots, and make the guards beat you. If teams want to play a style that dares Collison, Afflalo, Roll, Westbrook, and occasionally Shipp to beat them, well, good luck with that.

Deserving of recognition for UCLA:
  • Alfred Aboya was only 1-4 from the field, but he grabbed 11 rebounds, including six on the offensive end, and made all of his free throws.
  • Michael Roll was only 3-9 from beyond arc, but finished with 13 points and a nice assist on the interior after breaking down the defense.
  • And of course, Aaron Afflalo was the player of the game yet again, going 9-14, including 3-6 from three, for 22 points. In addition, he held down Marcus Williams to 11 points., who finished with 11 points 4-12 shooting, and turned the ball over four times.
Not really a must win for UCLA, but it keeps them atop the conference standings along with Oregon, who is clearly the no worse than the second best team in the conference, and can prove they may very well be the best at Pauley next month. And of course, it's always good to see crybaby Lute lose again. It's off the Bay Area next week for two tough games against good teams from Cal and Stanford. It's another solid test from a conference that's loaded with good teams.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

ASU 50; UCLA 60

First things first, as I type this, the idiot Arizona announcers are doing the U$C - UA game. U$C took seven seconds in the backcourt. The announcer says "U$C only has three seconds to get the ball over the mid-court line". Ya know, if you're going to broadcast games in a power conference, you should know the rules. Only the shot clock doesn't re-set. If you take four seconds to inbound the ball before calling a time out, you still get another five seconds after the time out. Similarly, if you take nine seconds in the back court before calling time out, you get another ten seconds to get the ball over the time line. Play by play guys should know that.

Now, on to the UCLA game. I've come to the realization that the reason I hate watching games against teams that play zone defenses is because I root for the two teams in the country that seem to have no clue how to play against a zone defense. It's a slow tempo, pass it around, use the clock type of game, which really isn't all that fun to watch. For now, Arizona State has to play that way. Honestly, I don't know enough about Herb Sendek to know if that's his style, but for now, we're stuck with it.

UCLA hit the shots they needed to hit, played the defense they needed to play, and despite trailing for a majority of the game, eventually pushed it out to a 12 point lead before winning by ten. Darren Collison led the Bruins with 16 points, inlcuding a couple of threes. And big ups to LRMAM who grabbed 15 boards in this one. He's been hurting, so it's good to see him get back to his strengths, which is pulling down rebounds.

I don't quite understand his thinking, but a couple of times in the second half, UCLA settled for what really were bad shots late in the shot clock (a product of the zone defense they were facing). Don McLean, UCLA's color guy, noted after they made two that those were shots they could have gotten early in the shot clock, thereby forcing the tempo. Well, sorry, but no shit. They can get bad shots at just about any point in any game. Notice that he didn't make a similar comment after they chucked up 30 footers at the end of the shot clock. The reason they don't take those shots after five seconds is because they're working (or possibly praying) that something better opens up. This isn't rocket science.

U$C beat another team looking ahead to their matchup against a top three team yet again, which means Arizona will show up hungry on Saturday. Actually, I wouldn't be surprised to see Arizona win, so long as they don't rely on a good second half from Ivan Radenovic, who seems to find new ways to come up small in the final ten minutes every year. But UCLA is due for a home loss, and Arizona has already choked away three conference games, so the law of averages says they have to win sometime. Then again, UCLA seems to come out big against good teams, except for maybe Oregon. Should be a good one.

More Stuff


They beat a bad Minnesota team last night by 12, and they looked really good at times, but they also looked pretty bad at times. Richard McBride continued his resurgence, or maybe it's just a surgence, by going 3-7 from beyond the arc, but Rich being Rich, those were his only nine points. Warren Carter also had a nice night, finishing with 17 points, 11 boards, and five assists. Sean Pruitt was not as good. Seven points on 3-10 shooting with five turnovers. Get used to that. Minnesota realized that whenever the ball went in to Pruitt, it wasn't coming out, and even triple teamed him at times. If he can't get off against Minnesota, it could be a rough year for him until he learns to pass out of the double team. A slaughtering at the hands of Wisconsin awaits.


Boy, they get some really stupid letters at the LA Times, don't they? Here's a sampling:
  • Q: I enjoy watching Vladimir Guerrero. The man has so much natural talent. Has he shown any frustration in the last few years with the Angels' inability to make the playoffs?
    • A: Well, first of all, they've made the playoffs in two of his three years in Anaheim. Second, seeing as how he came from a team that used to win about 10 games per year, he's probably handling it pretty well.
  • Q: Why on earth would the Angels trade Scot Shields? The guy is clutch, he's as reliable a shut-down reliever as there is in the major leagues. Getting rid of Shields, in my opinion, would be a huge mistake.
    • A: The Angels haven't traded Shields, and by all accounts, they aren't "trying" to trade him. Listening to offers is not "trying". And as good as Shields is, he's not exactly Mariano Rivera. He is, in fact, 17-18 over the last two seasons. Those numbers are skewed because he comes into a lot of games when the Angels lead, i.e., games he can't win, but can lose. Still, that's a lot of losses for such a great pitcher. I love Scot Shields, but he's had his issues over the last couple of seasons.
  • Q: Because Joe Saunders seems to be a six-day pitcher, why not use Bartolo Colon as a spot starter until Saunders can be a five-day pitcher?
    • Joe Saunders struggled late in the season, after pitching more innings than he ever has, on normal rest, and was lights out on extra rest. That doesn't necessarily make him a "six-day pitcher". It makes him a guy in his early to mid 20s reacting to his largest workload ever. How about we let him mature a little bit before we label him a "six-day pitcher".

Great quote from head coach Phil Jackson after last night's big road win over the Spurs
"We value a road win, especially against a team like this," Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said, before adding a dose of caution. "You know that line in that movie, 'Let's not start patting each other on the back quite yet.'
I don't think that's the quote you're thinking of, Phil. I think you're thinking of this one.


Tonight at home vs. ASU. Let's hope they don't get caught looking ahead to their game against underwhelming Arizona. Also, it would be nice if Josh Shipp were healthy so that we could see Shipp guarding Shipp (his little brother Jerren).

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

While I'm back on the subject of music...

...It's getting to be good concert season again, and there are finally a bunch of good acts coming to town. So far I'm set to see:

The Shins at the Congress Theater:

The Apples in Stereo at Subterranean:

And the Walkmen at Schuba's:

More music

Just found this on Youtube. Geez, check out the hair on Mark Gardener. This is a very non-shoegazer song by a very shoegazer band.

Monday, January 15, 2007

A Rare NFL Post

Trust me, there are a million other places you can go to read about yesterday's games, but really, what the hell was McCree thinking on that fourth down interception/fumble in the Chargers/Pats game? Seriously, doesn't everyone learn in third grade, while playing football at recess, that you knock down the pass on a fourth down play?

Of course, that was just one of a shitload of mistakes the Chargers made, but at this rate, the way all of the remaining playoff teams are playing (except maybe New Orleans), the Super Bowl is going to a contest to see which team can out-suck the other.