Thursday, November 29, 2012

Welcome to Bracketville---ACC/Big Ten Challenge Edition


Jeff Withey of Kansas has developed into one of the best two-way centers in college basketball. His triple-double against San Jose State was 16/12 and 12 blocks…and he can pass the ball extremely well.
The last player to reach a triple-double with blocks as a category was Kenny Gabriel, who did it for Auburn on 1/12/12.
Surprise: Illinois, Colorado! Maybe Oregon.
Dan Dakich may not the worst announcer on ESPN, but he is certainly the most tedious. He could wear the balls off a pool table.
When ESPN puts both Seth Greenberg and Bruce Pearl in the same half-time report, I have the move to an undisclosed location.
ACC/Big Ten Challenge Observations. The Challenge ended in a 6-6 tie.
UNC was in the game early, but Indiana outscored them 32-8 in the first four minutes of the second half---ouch!
NC State lacks depth and gets many too many fouls. Over rated.
FSU surprised me, but I should have expected it. They seem to always start slowly. Minnesota was impressive.
Nebraska! Nebraska scored on 19 of their first 23 second-half possessions against Wake Forest.
Cody Zeller is very, very good. Hope Indiana gets lotsa TV time this season---he’s fun to watch.
Undermanned UVA’s win in the Kohl Center Vs Wisconsin was a stunner. Wisconsin is nearly immaculate at home, but Virginia was stubborn and played relentless defense. UVA won the battle of the boards, 36-18. Wow! Wisconsin got to the line just four times. Double wow!
Miami’s eight-point victory over Michigan State was a joy to watch…especially the return of Durand Scott. The Canes outscored Sparty by ten points from the line. Miami is quick, and has the best looking cheerleaders in the ACC.
Georgia Tech’s 13-point loss to Illinois could have turned around were it not for their 17 turnovers.
Duke’s come-from-behind win over #4 Ohio State was a tale of two games. Duke, down eight at the half (and it could have been worse), was within shouting distance---but, was outplayed in every aspect of the game. Freshman Rasheed Sulaimon scored all of his 17 points in the second half. Mason Plumlee was 21/17, and Ryan Kelly’s and Quinn Cook’s defensive effort on the two OSU All-American candidates was amazing. Cook had eight assists, two steals and just three turnovers---and never left the floor. OSU’s Aaron Craft had one assist and three turnovers. While OSU’s Thomas totaled 16 points, it took him 14 shots to get them. Ohio State took 17 more shots than Duke. Duke’s bench contributed just four points. Ouch!
With Duke’s win over Ohio State, that makes back-to-back victories over Top-5 teams. It's been 11 years since a team won two straight games against teams ranked in the top five. That team was Ball State.
Not so fast: The Duke women won their game in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge by 17 points. That margin includes a 15-1 run by Michigan. The ACC leads 5-3, with four games to play.
One more thing: All the elite teams, without exception, are beatable. Not just beatable — they will be beat. They will all lose games they shouldn't lose, and we'll go into March with no real idea about who might win. Wide open doesn't just mean we lack a prohibitive favorite; it means we're in for five months of uncertainty. How can you not love that?

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

"The Black Box" by Michael Connelly



If you grade a novel by how fast you read it, then Michael Connelly’s “The Black Box” gets a double A+ from me. I finished it less than 24 hours after page one, in just two sessions. It is a spectacular read in all aspects.


 




No writer is better at propelling a story than Connelly, and “The Black Box” is no exception. Once there is take off, the velocity
commences at a steady pace…it neither falters, nor careens out-of-control on its journey.

Just when think there is going to be a pause in the action, Connelly drops another nugget of info, evidence, action or theory---and you are reading in a higher gear.

I think Connelly is the best at hiding the most meaningful clues in plain sight. The answers are always there, if you are clever or lucky enough to spot them prior to the dénouement.

There is never a deus ex machina employed. When the puzzle is solved, all the pieces fit neatly together.

In “The Black Box,” Harry Bosch is working on a 20 year old cold case in the Open Unsolved squad.

Danish photojournalist, Anneke Jespersen was murdered execution style during the 1992 LA riots. Harry and his partner Jerry Edgar were the detectives called to the scene.

With all the homicides committed during the riots, Harry and Jerry were dispatched to another killing after a too short time on the Jespersen murder scene…leaving lots of business unfinished.

Fast-forward 20 years to 2012. The LAPD brass bring out the cold cases from the riots, hoping to gain some positive PR on their 20th anniversary. Harry volunteers to take on the Jespersen case.

With little physical evidence in the 1992 murder book, Harry uses hunches, Internet searches and old-fashioned police work to form a base.

Once the foundation is established, additional piece are uncovered and the dominos begin to fall.

“The Black Box” moves at an incredible pace. After reading a couple of new books, I will reread “The Black Box” at a slower pace in order to savor the work of a master and enjoy all the subtleness and nuances of the finest crime novelist extant.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Welcome to Bracketville--Post Feast Week Edition


In Columbia’s stunning victory over Villanova 75-57, (the Lions first win over a Big East opponent in 27 years), senior Brian Barbour sank all 12 of his free throws, but went just 1-for-12 from the field. That included missing all eight of his 3s.
Columbia's 18-point win should send a signal to the rest of the Ivy League.
Butler was truly impressive beating UNC, especially outrebounding them 36-27.
Carolina came back from a 29-point deficit, cutting the lead to two possessions with 62 seconds remaining. Butler showed a lot of grit.
Unless they are playing Duke, I always pull for Butler, Davidson, Wisconsin, BYU, Gonzaga and Belmont. They have coaches with great integrity, who recruit ethically and field teams with high basketball IQs and savvy players. Their kids perform in the classroom as well.
Gonzaga is so deep, and Kelly Olynyk is just getting started as a productive player. The Zags proved in the semifinals and finals in Orlando that their ceiling is high. The Bulldogs seem to improve each week. They’re balanced. They’re skilled. Told you they were under rated.
Cal was mighty impressive in the late, late Show known as the Anaheim Classic.
The fact that VCU posted a 1-2 record in the Battle 4 Atlantis speaks to the quality of the tournament. The Rams are a top-25-caliber squad.
Creighton’s victory of Wisconsin was as exciting a game as I saw over Feast Week. The Bluejays’ win featured an 18-4 run down the stretch to put the game away. Scoring 84 points against one of the top defensive units in the country is truly impressive. Doug McDermott is the really the real deal.
Cal Poly whips UCLA? UCLA blew an 18-point lead. Told you UCLA was over rated.
Michigan State is playing many close games against weaker competition, but the Spartans are still finding ways to win.
N.C. State's 82-80 survival win at home over UNC Asheville was especially troubling coming on the heels of the Wolfpack's blowout loss to Oklahoma State the week before. Told you they were over rated.
Georgetown has plenty of potential, great length, depth and the ability to defend, force turnovers and convert…they could be a factor.
Even though Davidson lost in the Old Spice Classic Final, its effort against Gonzaga was more confirmation that this midmajor could mess up a lot of brackets in March.
UNC didn't show well in Maui. Quel dommage.
Nothing I've seen so far deters me from my prediction that Florida can win the SEC.
Indiana didn't look like world-beaters against Georgia and Georgetown last week, but they still won the games.
Baylor better learn how to defend…College of Charleston proved that.
Bryant University knocked off BC on Sunday, exceeding their win total from last season.
In their three victories in the Battle 4 Atlantis, the Duke bench contributed merely eight points. Ouch!
In the past five seasons, Duke is 31-15 Vs Top 25 opponents.
NC State had just inside players taller than 6’9”. Better hope Howell and Leslie avoid foul trouble or the Wolfpack go from slightly undersized to extremely undersized.
Not so fast: As the ACC bids good by to Maryland, it is interesting to know that their best sports are lacrosse, soccer and field hockey. They will certainly have better football draws when Michigan State, Ohio State and Wisconsin come to town; much better than Duke, Boston College and Wake Forest.
One more thing: In Jack Taylor's 138-point game for Division III Grinnell, in which he took 108 shots, he did not have an assist. He didn't pass - or pass on a shot. He missed 56 shots. He followed that game up with more human-like 21 points.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Welcome to Bracketville---Feast Week Edition


Mississippi State is down to six scholarship players for the Maui Invitational…plus two walk-ons.
In their victory over Kentucky, Duke scored 1.7 points per possession.
I am already a big fan of Duke freshman Rasheed Sulaimon. So refreshing to have him instead of Austin Rivers. Sulaimon is a better outside shooter than Rivers and Rasheed does not have to dribble for ten seconds every time he touches the ball before deciding what to do.
This weekend is loaded with college hoops on TV…Thanksgiving day from noon to midnight.
Bruce Pearl is new low for ESPN.
Do not sleep on Colorado this season.
Kansas looks strong to me…each season, I think they are best passing team in Division I. This season, I feel the same way.
I am a fan of Alabama coach, Anthony Grant.
New Mexico is another team we in the east will not see much of on the tube…and they could win the Mountain West and are a Sweet Sixteen candidate.
Belmont’s win over Stanford (at Stanford) is a big deal. Played in the Pacific time zone, no one saw it, but let’s hope the Tournament committee remembers in March.
In the Coaches Vs. Cancer Classic last weekend, neither victor St. Joe, nor Notre Dame committed a foul in the initial 13 minutes.
Aside from poor shot selection, I think the early play this season is of a higher quality that usual in the first couple of weeks. The number of quality match-ups has something to do with it. It just appears to me there are fewer fouls and fouling out…crisper passing…more intensity on defense…and solid teamwork.
With the signing of 6’3” center Kendall Cooper, the Duke women have the #3 ranked incoming class for the 2013-2014 season. They have the #6, #10, #12 and #32 rated players on the way to the Gothic Wonderland.
Repeat after me: At home, shoot threes…on the road shoot foul shots.
I think Maryland moving from the ACC to the Big Ten (or14) is a mistake for every reason other than money. The nonrevenue sports will truly suffer. I just can’t see a big turnout when the women’s field hockey team travels to Nebraska. Men’s and women’s lacrosse could really be hurt. Lacrosse parents in the ACC travel to countless games. The Maryland lacrosse hotbed of talent will not be looking at Maryland as much as in the past, since the parents won’t be able to see their kids play the Carolina, Virginia and Boston universities on the road. I hope that means more recruits for Duke.
A poor shot selection is always available.
Scheduling college games outdoors is just stupid. It is simply evidence how lightly the powers that be take the sport in November. You don’t need silly side shows to attract fans.
Not so fast: Glad I didn’t list Texas as a team I felt was under rated.
One more thing: Before losing to Wichita in the Tuesday 11/13 Marathon, VCU had not lost in November since 2002.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Curmudgeon in the Wry 536


Wednesday, November 14, 2012---774 Words---Average Reading Time: 2 Minutes, 39 Seconds. (A pointless waste of time---time frittered away)
Offending readers and hindering productivity one issue at a time since 2001.
Continuing to call them as I see them.
Virtually free of original ideas. 
Warning: Contains unsound bites from the apple of life.
Often wrong…never in doubt.
Being wrong is the risk you run by thinking and acting.
A Grumpy Old Man Production.
If you want this in a different language…move to a country that speaks it!
Gluten Free.
Why waste your time anywhere else.
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Under rated: Arthur Kennedy.
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Truism: In order to work, slogans must be true.
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You Know You’re Old: If you remember licking stamps.
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Rave: College Basketball has started!
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Truism: YouTube videos don't kill people. Terrorists kill people.
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Truism: What happened on Election Day was suicide by vote.
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Quotes: “The only bucks that stop with obama are those donated to his re-election campaign.” & “He (obama) spouted more fibs than Joe Isuzu.”~~~Burt Prelutsky.
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Rave: If you eat while on the computer you've probably covered your track-pad in a thick layer of greasy finger-residue from snacking. A post-it note over your track-pad prevents the grease from soaking in.
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Didjaknow: The Dodgers have called Chavez Ravine’s Dodger Stadium home longer than they played host at Ebbets Field.
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You Know You’re Old: If you remember being amazed the first time you saw a Polaroid Camera develop a picture right in front of your eyes.
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Quote: “In a different age, obama would have been the guy who went out and bought an Edsel. In this age, obama is the guy demanding that you buy an Edsel, too. That car is today called the Volt.”~~Bret Stephens, WSJ Editorial, 10/30/12.
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Rant: All watching Connie Brittan on ABC’s “Nashville” has done for me is to remind me how much I miss “Friday Night Lights.”
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Great opening paragraph: When Scott Freeman first read the letter that he found in his daughter’s top bureau drawer, crumpled up and stuffed behind some old white athletic socks, he knew immediately that someone was going to die.~~~John Katzenbach’s “The Wrong Man.”
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Didjaknow: The recidivism rate among terrorists rivals that of pedophiles.
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Rave: ABC’s “Revenge” does a spectacular job creating a world of characters, shifting alliances, hidden motivations and unknown intentions.
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Quote: “The truth is that most people are far more grateful when a plumber or an electrician shows up at their front door to solve a problem than when a literature major or a sociology grad drops by for dinner.”~~Burt Prelutsky.
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You Know You’re Old: If you remember what a Kodak Moment was.
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Rant: “No one is quicker at playing the race card than PMSNBC’s Chris Matthews. He is so crazy about black people, he’s even considering hiring one someday to work on his show! Not yet, but soon.”~~~Ann Coulter
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Truism: The only bad thing about a beautiful sunrise is how early you have to get up to enjoy it.
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Rave: CBS has cleared “Vegas” for the full season.
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Ho Hum: 2012’s World Series matched the AL’s seventh best team and the representative for the NL that was tied for third best. Maybe that is one reason why the ratings were the lowest in years. Part of the reason for the low ratings might have been the lousy announcers (Buck and McCarver) that Fox continues to think of as the A Team.
Sorry, but I subscribe to the Dwight Jaynes School of Baseball Broadcasting…that is, using the local broadcast teams throughout the post season.
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Hmmm: Crossword puzzle clue = Eight letter word for “An Arab who ran out of ammunition?”
Crossword puzzle answer = “Moderate.”
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Rant: Chavez, Putin, Castro, obama---The Marxist Brothers.
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Truism: Most people are not listening to the radio, they are just hearing it.
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Quote: “’Need’ now means wanting someone else’s money. ‘Greed’ means wanting to keep your own.”~~~Joseph Sobran. That’s the obama mantra.
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One Final Thought: The St. Louis Cardinals' postseason success without Albert Pujols is further proof that a well-run franchise can continue to win after letting go of an overpaid, beyond-his-prime slugger. Yankees, take note.
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If you can read this, thank a teacher.
If you can’t, thank the teacher’s union.
If you are reading it in English, thank a Veteran.
That is all.
As you were.

Welcome to Bracketville--ESPN 24 Hour Marathon Edition


The return of college basketball is finally here…in spades. How wonderful.
My two cents worth: I think North Carolina State, Missouri, UCLA, and Duke (despite their 75-68 victory over #3 Kentucky) are over rated.
Miami, Florida, Notre Dame and Gonzaga appear under rated to me.
Of course, I think Gonzaga is under rated every season…one year I will be correct.
In the first week, we have been rewarded with a multitude of Top 25 match-ups.
Yesterday’s ESPN Marathon was a real treat.
The big name players did not disappoint, and there were enough games going down to the wire to please even the most discriminating fan.
Keith Appling carried Michigan State past Kansas, in arguably the most exciting finish of the day.
New Mexico’s comeback over Davidson was a thrill. I was cheering for Davidson all the way.
UMass and Harvard was a helluva game.
Gonzaga creamed West Virginia. I just love it when Huggins takes a beating, especially when it is from a team led by a coach who is a gentleman.
Wichita State’s victory over VCU (at VCU) might qualify as the biggest upset.
Harvard’s Syani Chambers played all 40 minutes…14 points, seven assists and just one turnover.
St. John’s center Obekpa finished with an impressive stat line: 7 points, 2 steals, 11 rebounds and 8 blocks…pretty dominant.
What happened to Butler?
Kentucky’s Nerlens Noel wowed me.
Mason Plumlee was impressive for Duke against all the more athletic players Kentucky threw at him.
Eleven of St. John’s 13 scholarship players are underclassmen, making them one of the youngest division one teams this season.
Ohio returns all five starters from last season’s Sweet Sixteen squad.
The Thanksgiving weekend Battle 4 Atlantis has about the best lineup going of the early tournaments: Duke, Louisville, Memphis, Missouri, VCU, Minnesota, Northern Iowa and Stanford. There will be some great games and a major upset or two. Too bad, no one will be able to see the games…NBCS is carrying the game. NBCS is available in fewer homes than ESPNU.
New addition to the ESPN basketball announcer/analyst lineup, Seth Greenberg, is officially terrible…just awful.
Coach K has now produced the most first round draft picks of any coach in ACC history.
This season there are 346 Division I teams that will count in the RPI.
Ten teams are not eligible for NCAA Tournament play for various infractions.
Kenny Boynton stayed all four years at Florida, and should have a big-time season. Last season (on a team with five players averaging double digits) he averaged 15.9 a game…remarkable. He made 40.7% of his threes and 50% of his twos…remarkable.
Lehigh returns four of their top minute guys.
Until beating Georgetown in last year’s NCAA second round, North Carolina State lost to every quality team they played.
Miami returns all five starters and top seven scorers from last year.
Duke is down to nine scholarship players…due to injury.
The Duke women’s team is the only Elite Eight team to return its Top Five scorers from last season. Their preseason rank is #3, but with All World center, Elizabeth Williams out with a stress fracture, it’s going to be a tough proposition to live up to the hype.
Last season Indiana was ranked fourth in the country in adjusted offensive efficiently…64th on the defensive end. Their 102-90 tournament loss to Kentucky was thrilling evidence of this disparity.
Not so fast: Before Thad Matta arrived, Ohio State had won just two NCAA tournament games in the previous five years. In the eight seasons since then, Matta has guided the Buckeyes to two Final Fours, three consecutive Big Ten regular season titles, and a No. 1 or No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament in five out of the last seven years. Even more remarkable is the fact that Matta has done so while losing seven non-seniors to the NBA.
One more thing: All five starters for Notre Dame return.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Why we lost.


Whether losing in a blowout or by a narrow margin, you still get the “L” and the other guy plays on.
In the 2012 election, the other guy playing for an additional four years will transform the USA to Greece. Basic free market economics tells that truth.

How the defeat happened is most troublesome to me.

I buy into the takers outnumbering the makers…just look at those liberal losers going from 99 weeks of unemployment to disability, with their free cell phones, food stamps and housing vouchers. How much fraud do you think is involved with those recipients? And, how much is encouraged by the current liberal regime?

The tactics employed by the Romney team snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.

I liken it to a Division I College Basketball game.

The start of the second half finds Romney down by four.

Team Romney goes on a 30-16 run…ahead by ten (four possessions) just before the final media time out.

Team Romney then decides to play “not to lose.”

Next thing you know, an expired shot clock, a dribble off the leg, a five second call, fouling a jump shooter (the cardinal sin), a couple of missed shots and an offensive rebound or two by the other guys and Team Romney is on the wrong end of a 14-2 run by the evil obama team.

Team Romney stopped doing what gave them a big advantage, played it too safe and got out of their winning rhythm.

How many times of we seen this in college basketball? It doesn’t work.

Romney never pressed his advantage, and changed the take-charge, take-no-prisoners style of the first debate.  

He allowed the other team to breathe and get back in the game…and eventually lost the country.

I do think Romney tried to win, a feeling I did see in McCain four years ago. Romney did not roll over.

Trying to run out the clock is a tricky proposition at best. When playing at a high level, you often shoot yourself in the foot.

We are doomed.

The liberal base.


So many of the obama voters are composed of those on the public dole. Perhaps not every one of these people is a scammer.

However, many, many of them are getting entitlements paid for by others. Members of the employed class who pay taxes gave them the means for a free ride.

Social Security and Medicare recipients paid their dues, and are entitled to their checks. That’s the proper reason for entitlements.

Now, how many obama voters do you think have burned through their 99 weeks of unemployment and enrolled in the disability benefit program? Most likely their disability is an allergic reaction to seeking a job and working.

Those still in their 99 weeks are plotting their way to the disability rolls.

Imagine how many of these liberal, leftist losers have heard the obama regime’s ads on urban and Spanish radio promoting the ease in obtaining food stamps.

Currently we dole out food stamps to about 47 million recipients…up 46.9% since the Socialist-in-Chief took office.

Since 2008, the cost of providing free cell phones to these losers has more than doubled from $772 million to $1.6 billion.

This is not only insane; it’s the obama base. These are the idiots who believe in Santa Claus, The Tooth Fairy and The Easter Bunny. Of course they vote for the Marxist who will heap on more free stuff.

But, what about the purely uninformed and ill informed voters who actually have a job (especially 18-29)?

What do you suppose they will say about their man after getting their initial paycheck in 2013, when they see the results of the expiration of the Bush tax cuts and the first installation of the obamacare taxes?

We know they do not know the difference between Keynesian economics and Milton Friedman’s free market economic system---but I am willing to bet even they will be able to tell they got less dough, thanks to obama.

However, obama will tell them it’s Bush’s fault.

I will tell them that stupidity is its own reward.

We are doomed.