Tag Archives: basketball

Ducks on the Pond Looking for Writers!

 

Howdy Reader(s)!

 

We’ve been terrible about posting, we know.  L.J. Hoes is in primetime  Houston, the Celtics are now located in Brooklyn , the Sox have doubled down and cowboy’d up with Peavy, and other gnarly stuff I personally am glad we abstained from writing about.

But football is itching to come about and the playoff picture is coming in to place and we want to get serious.  So help us out!  If you like to write, or ramble, about sports, send us a sample!  We’d love to get some folks contributing on, well, whatever sports you’re into, we suppose.

If you look at the tone of the site, all we ask is you be respectful(ish) and passionate about the sports you write about!  So if you’re looking for a space to vent some thoughts on sports in your idle time, here’s Vinnie the Gooch extending a personal invitation – come join us at Ducks on the Pond, the pay is non-existent, but it feels good to vent, folks.

email anything you’d like us to read at duckscheckemails @ gmail.com or tweet us if you’re interested @duckfromthepond 

 

Here’s to you and your future & current fantasy teams readers, you’ll see no Riley Cooper dark horse candidate articles here.

 

– V 

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Filed under About the Blog, Baseball, basketball, College, Fantasy Baseball, Football, MLB, NBA, NCAA, NFL, NHL, offseason, Opinion, PLAYOFFS

LIKE SOME KIND OF…MADNESS

STEPHENSMADNESS

h/t to Deadspin, who’s running a photoshop contest for this amazing image.

And here’s your Step Brothers fix:

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Filed under basketball, March Madness

Why the 2013 NCAA Tournament May Be the Best Ever Part 1

 

Part I: Instability Atop the Mountain

 The defending champion (Kentucky) will not even make the tournament. Whoever they are, the 1-seeds will be beatable and flawed. Butler will be a factor. You could make a case for 15 teams winning the whole thing – and that’s a conservative estimate. We have a fun March ahead of us.

Even Joe Lunardi may have a tough time this year, starting with the perpetual motion among his projected 1-seeds.

The 1-Seeds (For Now)

 

As of right now, Lunardi has Indiana, Miami, Duke, and Florida as his 1-seeds. All four of these teams already have 3 losses, including Miami beating Duke handily (with another showdown coming March 2nd), and both Miami and Florida falling short against Arizona.

Indiana will have a tough time making it through the next few weeks unscathed, with Michigan and Ohio State awaiting them in the next two weeks as well as what is sure to be a chaotic Big Ten Tournament. The Hoosiers have elite talent and primetime players in Cody Zeller and Victor Oladipo (absolute X-Factor in tonight’s victory over Michigan State), but we could see them fall from the top line of the bracket, as 2-3 losses before the tournament are not out of the question. All three of Indiana’s losses have come by five points or less, and the Hoosiers are certainly primed for tournament atmospheres due to their brutal conference schedule (in opposition to a team like Florida, see below), but watch out for a slow finish for the Fighting Creans. That being said, Indiana’s inside-outside combinations allow them to match up favorably against perhaps every team in the country.

The passion of Victor Oladipo may be the key to an Indiana Final Four run.

Miami represents a great but unpredictable story. From unranked to receiving significant first-place votes in both polls this week, the Hurricanes have stormed through the depleted ACC, 12-0 in conference to this point. A matchup with Duke on March 2nd (quite the day for watching some ball, evidently) seems to be the Canes’ only challenge before the ACC Tournament, but even if this team makes it to the Big Dance with only their current 3 losses, questions remain. Miami wasn’t even in the tourney a year ago, and their incredible growth this season begs the question: can they sustain their level of play without reverting back to their old ways? These “old ways” include a double-digit lost to Florida Gulf Coast in November and back to back losses to Arizona (a 19-point shellacking) and Indiana State at Christmas. Miami seems to have the talent to beat anyone in the country, but their lack of experience and the mediocrity of the ACC except for—or maybe including—Duke leave us wondering how the Hurricanes will fare come March.

Jim Larranaga has everyone around the U smiling this year, as his Canes have journeyed from unranked to projected 1-seed.

Duke has only lost twice since Ryan Kelly’s mid-January injury, but their performance has left a lot to be desired for Cameron Crazies. Besides the annihilation at the hands of Miami, Duke lost Saturday to an inspired Maryland team and has struggled against the unimpressive likes of Wake Forest (W 75-70 on Jan. 30th) and Boston College (W 62-61 Feb. 10th in a game they did not deserve to win). The Blue Devils have experience at the coaching level (Duh), and Mason Plumlee was a freshman when they won the title in 2010, but no other contributor has been past the Sweet Sixteen. Plumlee, Seth Curry, and Quinn Cook make up a strong nucleus, but the team has yet to find its chemistry following Kelly’s injury. With the March 2nd rematch against Miami as their only true pre-tourney test (maybe another rematch in the ACC Tournament Championship Game as well), look for Duke to enter the Big Dance as a 1 or 2-seed but as an unknown nevertheless. I don’t expect another Lehigh incident, but watch out for a 7-10 seed knocking the Blue Devils off in Duke’s second game. Just looking at Lunardi’s current projections, one has to wonder how Duke would handle Creighton and game-changer Doug McDermott.

Can these two stars get Duke playing at its peak in time for a deep tourney run? They’ve yet to provide a definitive answer.

Florida has probably received the least attention of these top teams, partially due to the overwhelming coverage of conference foe Kentucky’s underwhelming season.

Florida went to the Elite Eight as a 7-seed last year, further than any of the other three projected 1-seeds. Besides respectable early losses to Arizona and Kansas State and tonight’s battle defeat at the hands of Phil Pressey and Missouri, Florida does have a perplexing double-digit loss to Arkansas, but the Gators have won their other 11 SEC games by an average of 25.9 points! Theoretically, Florida can and should win every game remaining on their schedule, barring struggles with Arkansas at home or at Kentucky to finish the regular season on March 9th. Like the ACC teams above, Florida’s lackluster conference leaves much up to the imagination, but their complete dominance in the SEC deserves more love. With a coach who has in fact WON TWO NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS, and a versatile core of Kenny Boynton, Mike Rosario, and Patric Young (senior, senior, junior), Florida has the potential to go even deeper than their overachieving squad did a year ago. They may be in the best shape of any of these four to make a run.

Don’t underestimate the King of the Receding Hairline, also known as 2-time national champion Billy Donovan.

My money was on Michigan State beating Indiana in East Lansing hours ago and supplanting the Hoosiers as a 1-seed. Whoops. MSU could still make a run at a top seed with a Big Ten Tournament Championship. Gonzaga may be challenged in the coming weeks, but expect them to run the table to the tournament and replace one of the ACC squads (or Florida if the Gators’ struggles continue) as a 1-seed. All that said, the winner of Michigan-Indiana on March 10th will secure 1-seed position, and I’d expect whichever two of the MSU-IU-UM Big Ten Triangle finish strongest to secure two of the top seeds, with Gonzaga and the stronger finisher of Duke-Miami (my guess is Miami) filling out the remaining two spots.

 

Including all of these contenders, there are, as of February 18th, already 34 NCAA teams with 20 wins as of February 18th and 21 more teams have 19 wins! That means about 16% of all NCAA teams already have 19 wins. Now not all of these teams are threats to win the whole thing (sorry, Stony Brook, Akron, etc.), but with teams like Kansas, Kansas State, Syracuse, Louisville, Georgetown, half of the Big Ten, and Arizona out there playing well, chances are the aforementioned one seeds will not be the top 4 come selection Sunday.  Furthermore, there’s a good chance a 1-seed will not be cutting down the nets at the Georgia Dome on April 8th considering the amount of good teams and lack of great teams, considering the likes of lesser-known sleepers like VCU, Creighton, Memphis, Wichita State, and Oregon, to name only a few.

She has as good a guess as anyone for what team will emerge in Georgia come early April. She likes Indiana’s completeness but made sure to tell me to watch out for runs by Butler and Georgetown.

Maybe these four projected 1-seeds will all hold their spots. Maybe none of them will. Only time will tell. March Madness has come early this year, so start enjoying now.

-Kenny

To be continued…

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Filed under College, Dance, March Madness, NCAA, Random Thoughts, Sleepers

Baseball’s Doing Something Right: Why the MLB Draft System Works

As the NBA allows for “one-and-dones” to exist, slowly eating away at the stability and integrity of college basketball, there is a contemporary professional sports league that does it right. Believe it or not, that league is the MLB, home of our nation’s fading pastime. While talented teenagers bolt from schools towards NBA millions, we cannot fault these athletes—many of whom come from low to middle-class backgrounds—for forsaking a college degree to sign lucrative contracts as young as possible.

The current system forces NBA-ready players like Kyrie Irving and Nerlens Noel to go to college for a year, both jeopardizing their health or draft value (notice why I chose these two?) and cutting away at the academic integrity of the schools they attend.

Recognize Irving in this uniform? No? Maybe because he wore it only a handful of times before getting injured during his freshman year. Suffice it to say Irving would have made out just fine in the NBA without his 8 GS at Duke.

Nerlens Noel, the latest victim of the NBA’s flawed eligibility rules, may have to wait a little longer to hear his name called at this year’s NBA Draft.


Meanwhile, the system also pushes student-athletes who are not ready to perform at the next level into the NBA, players such as throwback Omar Cook of St. John’s fame (1.7 PPG and 0 NBA starts) and Kosta Koufos (4.6 PPG in 86 starts), a man probably drawn out of school due to the precedent set by more talented Ohio State teammates. (Side note: I attended the 3 OT Celtics-Nuggets thriller ten days ago—Koufos started the game but was nowhere to be found on the court for the last 20 minutes of game time.)

Koufos spends a lot of time wearing this warmup, questioning his decision to leave Ohio State after just a year. Certainly a player who, under MLB rules, would have played 3-4 years in college before going pro.

One could go on and on with names like these, including a whole slew of Memphis grads (Shawne Williams and Dajuan Wagner to name just two), and the busts far outnumber the studs, the Durants and Irvings of the world. If the NBA and NCAA hope to strike a balance between fostering talent and allowing superstars to shine bright early, while also maintaining the integrity of the entity “student-athelete,” perhaps they should take a hint from their less popular, less flawed baseball buddies.

Baseball is very in touch with its policies and its players. Just ask Chris Coghlan.

While MLB has its share of struggles regarding young talent burning out, their system does a far better job of balancing encouraging superstar talent with pushing teenagers to develop for four years in college.

According to MLB.com, the main categories of eligible players to be drafted by Major League teams are:

  •  High school players, if they have graduated from high school and have not yet attended college or junior college;
  • College players, from four-year colleges who have either completed their junior or senior years or are at least 21 years old; and
  • Junior college players, regardless of how many years of school they have completed

To summarize this summary, a high school senior can enter the MLB Draft upon graduating, but a player who enters college is not eligible for the draft until he has completed his junior year or is 21 years of age. This way, raw talents are encouraged to develop their game at the college level. Many players still immaturely choose the draft, but for the most part only the top talent each year is pushed to declare straight out of high school. No draft system will ever be perfect (if one was, drafting would be really easy…), but MLB’s is fascinating in that it makes athletes and their families do something we often dread: think. The three-year timeframe between graduating high school and being 21 does put a heckuva lot of pressure on prospects, but this tough choice tends to push players toward college rather than declaring straight out of high school.

Just ask Mr. Pedroia if he’s thankful for his time playing at ASU, where he was teammates with two other All-Stars: Ian Kinsler and Andre Ethier.

The numbers don’t lie. Only 5.6% of high school baseball players play NCAA baseball, and well less than 1% get drafted to the MLB straight out of high school. On the other hand, 10.5% of NCAA players go on to play professionally! Now there are differences between the NBA and MLB, one must admit. Terms for guaranteed money vary in the leagues, but each league guarantees their contracts, unlike the NFL, which allows for teams to essentially get rid of players at their whim. MLB also differs from the NBA in that its draft is huuuuuuuuuuuge – more than 1,000 players are drafted each year while the NBA’s draft has two round and less than 70 picks.

Similarly, however, an estimated 1.2% of NCAA men’s basketball players get drafted to the NBA while about .003% of high school varsity players will eventually play professionally. For the NBA, a system with options declaring right out of high school or after 3 years of college  solves ANOTHER problem- the minor leagues!  Seeing a kid or 2 or 3 years in college as they refine their game is a helluva lot better than a one and done going to the NBDL and vanishing from the face of the Earth!

Xavier Henry should have spent some more time in this uniform. Does wasting away in the D-League or on the Hornets’ bench really seem like a better option than developing under the tutelage of Bill Self? Bet you forgot who Xavier Henry was.

Every professional sport will have players who attempt to make it big before their minds or bodies are ready (Freddy Adu, Ryan Leaf, Demarcus Cousins it would seem), but as of right now the NBA is failing its pool of young talent and therefore its fanbase with regard to its handling of development of players.

Baseball’s system allows for the proper maturing of talent – whether it be mentally or physically.  Sure, there will always be freaks like Bryce Harper or Dave Winfield, but the majority of athletes in ALL sports need time to season their brains to the professional level.  Listen to a veteran talking about a rookie sometime – in any sport – they never talk about the things we drool over before drafts, verticals and bench press and Wonderlics; they talk about mental preparation.  If the NBA adopted the MLB policy, certainly there will still be bozos like DeMarcus Cousins who bolt before they are ready but the point is teams would then have the knowledge that a more refined, if slightly less naturally athletically gifted, player can have a positive impact quicker and more efficiently than those who failed to transition properly.

Stephen Strasburg was just one of many stud prospects who could light up a radar gun. His time at San Diego State allowed him to become the most surefire superstar of this generation.

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by | February 19, 2013 · 2:06 PM

Holy. F@$!ing. Sh!%

Okay,I hate to bring the language, but everyone needs to watch this clip. If you like sports at all, any sport, man, woman or child, watch this. The NBA may be locked out, but Raging Rondo is locked IN!

Wow. And for the nerd in me, here’s the not-as-interesting-but-still-awesome Avengers trailer. RDJ, as usual, is ballin’. Mr. Whedon, stay golden, pony boy

-W

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Filed under Cajones, offseason, Posted, Random Thoughts, video

Weekend Hijinks

So here is Matt Antonelli (Here’s his official blog. I am a fan.) and his roomie (Wade LeBlanc?) showin’ some serious skillz.

This is quite simply folks why we love baseball.

(did we mention he’s from Peabody?)

-w

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Filed under Opinion, Posted, Random Thoughts, Weekend Hijinks