Tag Archives: Matt Steinbach

Busted Bracket? Who Cares! Young Coaches Lead Tourney’s Cinderellas

Raise your hand if you had Kentucky, Connecticut, VCU and Butler as your Final Four teams?

….still waiting. Even if you told me that your correctly picked the Final Four before the tournament started, I still wouldn’t believe you. That’s because of the 5.9 million brackets submitted on ESPN.com only two people correctly picked the Final Four and 1,093 correctly had three of the four final four finalists. Pretty much every one’s bracket was completely busted, especially after this past weekend’s games when Ohio St., Kansas and North Carolina, three popular picks to win it all, were eliminated in stunning fashion.

The lack of bracket success points to the fact that this year’s tournament may be the maddest one ever. Don’t believe me? This year’s final four set the record for the highest combined seed number with 26 (add up the seeds of each team Uconn 3, Kentucky 4, VCU 11 and Butler 8) the previous high occurred in 2000 when the combined seed was 22. What’s even more surprising is that this is the first year that there is not a no.1 or no.2 seed. This tournament is bound to get even wilder, especially if VCU or Butler ends up cutting down the nets, which at this point isn’t unlikely at all. And if that happens the big winners in this tournament is the NCAA selection committee.

In fact, the NCAA selection committee is already the biggest winner of the tournament. Before the tournament and season started, the committee expanded the field of entrants to 68, adding three more teams; one of those “extra” teams was VCU. VCU wasn’t even supposed to be in the tournament according the bracket experts at CBS and ESPN. On selection Sunday, TV analysts from each network ripped the committee for putting VCU into the tournament ahead of teams like Colorado and St. Mary’s. No one was attacking the committee more than Jay Bilas, who has been made to look stupid now after VCU’s  final four run. I’m sure VCU is actually happy that Bilas ripped their team; it provided bulletin board material and extra motivation to already talented team that had nothing to lose going into the tournament. VCU’s ability to turn their critics into motivation is salute to a tremendous performance from their head coach Shaka Smart. Smart as well as Butler head coach Brad Stevens are the other huge winners in this tournament.

To show you how well Smart has done in the tournament, lets look at the teams VCU has beaten on the way to the Final Four- USC, Georgetown, Purdue, Florida St. and Kansas. That is an impressive list. Each team is from a power conference, Purdue was a trendy elite eight pick and Kansas was the favorite to win it all. Smart has made a lot of fans and opened up many attractive coaching opportunities with his coaching performance, and he is only 33. Don’t be surprised if he gets a big-time coaching gig sometime soon. Or he can choose to stay and do what Brad Stevens has done at Butler.

Stevens has quietly built a power program at Butler, similar to what Mark Few has accomplished at Gonzaga. Butler nearly won the national championship last year; they were only a Gordon Hayward shot away from knocking out Duke and yet they are back again in the final four. That’s an extremely tough accomplishment and for a young coach like Stevens, who is only 34, it’s an even greater accomplishment. Big props to the young coaches getting it done with small conference schools. Stevens is sure to have his name out there for big-school coaching jobs at well, but I don’t think he’s leaving Butler anytime soon. Why should he? He has already proved that he can build a championship level program at a small school, why leave that program for a more recognizable big-name school? Butler has to be considered a big-time program now with what Stevens has done, don’t be surprised if they start hauling in highly touted recruits.

Regardless of the coaching future of these two, their teams’ final four match up is sure to be a gritty, intense battle. Whoever wins that game is who I will be rooting for to win it all, the Cinderella story  of the tournament wouldn’t be perfect unless one of those teams is cutting down the net when its all said and done.

Editor-in-Chief: Heather Spellacy

Chief Copy-editor: Natalie Cappetta

Sports Editor: Matt Steinbach

Handing Out Oscars for Drama-Filled NBA Season

Things are starting to get interesting in the NBA. Carmelo Anthony finally got his wish, the Utah Jazz took a preemptive strike and traded star point guard Deron Williams and the Celtics may have cost themselves a shot at the title by trading enforcer and beloved teammate Kendrick Perkins. Needless to say, the trade deadline was full of drama, the perfect appetizer for the dramatic main course- the playoff run. Thankfully we have a way to rate and award drama through the Academy Awards. In honor of the bald, golden statue I’m dishing out awards for the NBA’s top performers and masterpieces.

Best Actor Award for the League’s MVP: Derrick Rose

Derrick Rose has been carrying the Bulls all season long through the team’s adversities ( lack of a dependable shooting guard and the injuries to Boozer and Noah) like a great actor carries a movie despite a clash with a director. Rose’s performance isn’t honored because he is carrying a bad team, the Bulls are among the best in the league, it is because without him, the Bulls would be an 8th seed at best. He does it all, sets the tone on defense while also completely controlling the offense. No one means more to their team than Rose does, not even LeBron James or Kobe Bryant, Rose has been that good so far this season.

Best Director for Coach of the Year: Tom Thibodeau

Just like the King’s Speech, the top two awards come from the same movie or in this case, the same team. The long time assistant coach finally got his chance to lead a team this season and he is excelling in his new role. In his first year as head coach Thibodeau has Chicago 2 games back of his former team, the Boston Celtics for 1st place in the Eastern Conference. The Bulls have a 40-17 record and are looking like a dangerous playoff team. Not bad for Thibodeau’s first picture.

Best Picture for the team that everyone should fear: San Antonio Spurs

The Spurs have been the best team in the NBA all season and they have no signs of slowing down. San Antonio is like one of those movies that comes out of the blue and wins best picture, no one though the Spurs would be this good this year. Usually the Spurs coast through the early part of the regular season before going on a late season run but not this year. Poppovich has changed his offensive strategy in a drastic way; this is no longer your boring, slow-paced, half-court offense. The Spurs push the ball up court, rely more on Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili and bomb threes with regularity. Just like everyone watches the top pictures after the Oscars, people should start watching this team before the playoffs come and go.

Best Screenplay for the season’s most dramatic moment: Detroit Piston Mutiny

Has there ever been a weirder story about a team turning against its head coach? I’m sure there has been but nothing in recent memory. The drama started last week when seven Pistons boycotted a team shoot around leading to a suspension for each player involved. Things got even more mutinous last Friday when the players sitting on the bench laughed at coach John Kuester after he was ejected from a game, yikes. Things could get much uglier; but at least it’s an entertaining story.

Editor-in-Chief: Heather Spellacy

Chief Copy-Editor: Natalie Cappetta

Sports Editor: Matt Steinbach

Dons Buck Broncos: 68-62 win moves USF to 2nd in WCC

War Memorial was rockin’ as fans covered in green and gold watched the men’s basketball team win an important game over Bay-Area rival Santa Clara University. The 68-62 victory by the Dons marked their first season sweep over the Broncos since 2005. More importantly, the win gave USF sole possession of second place in the WCC with a 6-2 record.

Comcast Sports Net broadcasted the game locally; for those that couldn’t make it to War Memorial (like me), it was a perfect opportunity to enjoy some USF basketball. The first half of the game contained back and forth action as both teams tried but struggled to take a large lead; there were three ties and eight lead changes throughout the first 20 minutes of action. Santa Clara took a 29-28 lead into halftime. The action didn’t pick up for the Dons until the start of the second half. After intermission, USF focused on defense and a desire to pick up the offensive flow.

Rashad Green (13) by Emily Bogden

Rashad Green (13) attacks the basket for an easy layup (Emily Bogden/Foghorn)

One major advantage to watching the game on TV is that it makes it much easier to see the offensive sets, the spacing and the defensive rotations. TV just gives you a different perspective that’s hard to obtain in person. With that said, watching the game in person is much more exciting, nothing compares to being apart of a large and loud crowd.

The Dons scored the first bucket of the second half and never looked back. They were controlling the game in all areas; they were getting easy shots on offense and were forcing touch shots on the defensive end. USF’s playing prompted this in-game tweet: “USF has been really impressive tonight … great D, nice ball movement and they’re hustling on every play.” Impressive is really the only word to describe the way the Dons played in the second half. The most impressive aspect of USF’s game was the way they contested the three-point shot. Santa Clara shot an abysmal .150 (3-20) from three-point land and an even worse .333 (20-60) on all shots. Credit has to be given to USF’s rotation on defense; they rarely gave up an uncontested shot. Angelo Caloiaro, Perris Blackwell and Moustapha Diarra did a good job of getting out on shooters and putting a hand up. The guards and wing players were flying around the perimeter and rotating around the open man; it was a good job all around by the defense.

Moustapha Diarria (21) and Angelo (32) by Emily Bogden

Moustapha Diarra (21) and Angelo Caloiaro (32) crash the boards for a rebound. (Emily Bogden/Foghorn)

On offense, the play by Rashad Green was notable. In the second half he was able to get any shot he wanted, mixing it up with three-pointers, pull up jumpers and timely drives to the basket. The lefty had his whole arsenal working and he gave Santa Clara a lot of trouble. Caloiaro seemed to be everywhere on offense, he was pulling down offensive rebounds and popping out to the perimeter to hit jump shots. His hustle earned him a game high of 9 rebounds. The Diarra and Blackwell combination upset Santa Clara, as their size overwhelmed the Bronco’s forwards. Blackwell was efficient in offense as he scored 14 points on 4-6 shots, while Diarra’s activity and size led to 4 offensive rebounds and 4 points. Michael Williams also had a nice game as he finished with 13 points. Williams was deadly from the three-point range, where he shot 3-4.

The final score of 68-62 is a bit misleading as the game was not as close as the score indicates. USF was up by double digits heading into the final minutes when Santa Clara made a late rally. USF was up by as much as 16 at one point, as they controlled the tempo in the second half. The win gave the Dons their 5th in their last six games and kept them in the hunt for a WCC title. Next up for the Dons are two home games against San Diego on the 10th and St. Mary’s on the 12th.

Editor-in-Chief: Heather Spellacy

Chief Copy-Editor: Natalie Cappetta

Sports Editor: Matt Steinbach

V-Day Dream Dates: Top 5 Hotties in Pro Sports

Valentine’s day is either a special day to spend with a loved one or it’s a day that makes you feel lonely if you have no one to spend it with. Luckily the world is full of beautiful people to ogle at while sitting at home on Valentine’s Day. For all you single people wishing you had a date, here is a list of the hottest female athletes that would make the perfect Valentine’s Day date.

5. Ana Ivanovic

She hasn’t enjoyed much success since becoming the number 1 female tennis player in the world 3 years ago but I can let that slide; her looks more than make up for her struggles on the court. The Serbian heartthrob has an innocent, girl-next-door look to her yet she is exotic as well, resulting in an amazing blend.  Even though she hasn’t won anything notable lately, she is still a very good tennis player. Beauty and success are two attributes you want in a woman and she surely has both.

4. Jennie Finch

The veteran of the group, Jennie Finch, has been ogled at since she began playing softball at the University of Arizona more than eight years ago. I still remember drooling over her as a teenager after seeing her on ESPN. At 31 years old she is still one of the hottest female athletes out there. Not only is she hot, she is among the best softball players ever, and arguably the best ever. Finch won a gold medal in the 2004 Athens Olympics and a silver medal in Beijing in 2008. Even though she is retired from softball she will always be remembered as one of the all-time hottest female athletes.

3. Gina Carano

MMA’s top woman fighter is not only hot, she can easily kick your ***. If you were into that sort of thing, she would easily be your number 1. She has modeled in Maxim and has appeared on the cover of ESPN the magazine’s body edition, which shows off the athletes with the best bodies. Carano hasn’t done much fighting this year since she has been busy filming Haywire, a film that releases later this year. Gina Carano and all of her hotness on the big screen sounds like a genius idea!

2. Danica Patrick

Danica Patrick has that tough but sexy look; she’s rarely cracks a smile during races with her dark black hair tightly pulled back into a pony-tail and dark black glasses covering her eyes. Away from the racetrack she has posed in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue and for FHM while also appearing as a Go-Daddy girl. Those photo shoots cemented her among the hottest, it showed a side of her that is hidden by her racing career. Now we no longer have to wonder what she’s hiding underneath her racing suit. No one can question her hotness.

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One of the many examples of Maria Sharapova’s allure. (Courtesy of Creative Commons)

1.  Maria Sharapova

Could number 1 be anyone but Sharapova? She’s owned this spot she won Wimbledon in 2004 when she was 17. Like Ivanovic, she was once ranked number 1 in the world but has fallen down to 13th. And like Ivanovic, she is still hot regardless of her world rank. Her long legs, flowing blonde hair and her exotic Russian background are big reasons why she is number 1. But the fact that she is the number 1 gross female athlete in the World puts her over the top. Too bad Sasha Vujacic, a guard with the New Jersey Nets who previously played for the Lakers, snatched her off the market when they became engaged earlier this year. Marrying Vujacic is the only knock on her, not because she’s getting married but because Vujacic will be her husband. Vujacic, really? Now we can only just marvel at her hotness, I guess there are worse things in life.

Editor-in-Chief: Heather Spellacy

Chief Copy-Editor: Natalie Cappetta

Sports Editor: Matt Steinbach

Early Surprises and Accomplishments for NBA Season

Before the NBA season started the “expert analysts” predicted that the top three teams in the league would be the Heat, the Lakers and the Celtics. They were right on the Celtics and the Lakers but those two teams are perennial locks to be among the top teams. The Heat on the other hand were practically handed the O’Brien trophy for the next decade by the media after their summer haul of Chris Bosh and LeBron James to join Dwayne Wade. Bosh, James and Wade were supposed to become the most indestructible force to ever take a basketball court but the Heat have proven to be nothing more than a mediocre team through the first 17 games of the season. The Heat’s lack of size up front, stagnant offense, unproductive role players and the inability of the “big three” to create chemistry has led to the disappointing start.  Miami’s terrible start has been one of the many surprises of the young season. Here’s a look at a few more surprises that no one could have predicted.

The New Orleans Hornets’ Hot Start

After a summer in which star point-guard Chris Paul expressed displeasure with the Hornets organization and reportedly requested a trade; no one would have expected an    8-0 start and a 12-4 record. The roster is essentially the same from last season expect for the additions of Marco Belinelli, Jarrett Jack and Trevor Ariza and the departures of Darren Collision and Peja Stojakovic. The return of Chris Paul from injury is the largest reason for the Hornets resurgence. Paul has been playing MVP level basketball; he’s making everyone else around him better while also taking games over at the right time. Paul’s play has been stellar but it’s New Orleans defense that is responsible for the torrid start. The Hornets rank number one in points allowed, and are in the top 10 in point differential. It’s no fluke that the Hornets are playing at a high level, they need to be discussed among the top teams in league, especially if they continue playing tough defense and they stay healthy.

The Spurs’ Resurgence

The old Spurs have found the fountain of youth and it has led them to a league best 14-2 record. 33-year-old Man Ginobli, 34-year-old Tim Duncan, 28-year-old Tony Parker and 30-year-old Richard Jefferson are taking advantage of their veteran experience to once again propel the Spurs to atop the Western conference. Ginobli is having a career year in his 9th season as a pro, as he is averaging 21.5 points per game while shooting the ball with great efficiency- 47% from the field, 40% on three pointers and 90% at the free throw line. Parker is also enjoying a nice season as he is averaging 18.7 points per game while also enjoying career highs in assists (7.3 per game) and steals (1.8 per game). The team officially belongs to Ginobli and Parker now as Duncan’s age and years in the league (this is his 15th season) have finally caught up to him. Duncan is still putting up solid stats and leading the Spurs on the defensive end but he is no longer the dominant player he has been throughout his career. San Antonio has been great on offense (3rd in points and 7th assists) and solid enough on defense (14th in points allowed) to be the top team in the league. If San Antonio’s old age doesn’t catch up to them, they will be the biggest challenge to the Lakers come Playoff time.

Blake Griffin’s Dunkfest

Ok, this one isn’t much of a surprise, especially if you watched Griffin in college at Oklahoma or during the preseason, but it has to be mentioned because Griffin has already put together one of the most impressive dunk highlight tapes ever. Just visit Youtube and watch the highlights of the Clippers vs. Knicks game from two weeks ago. In that game alone Griffin threw down three of the most impressive dunks someone will ever see.  Many people have compared Griffin to a young Shawn Kemp, which is a good comparison considering both had freakish athletic abilities for their size. Griffin is a much better player overall than Kemp was as the same stage in his career. Even though the Clippers have been terrible, their games are worth watching just because Griffin can make a historically great dunk at any time. It seems like every night he has a highlight worthy play, too bad he plays on the Clippers. At least he gives them slight hope for improving in the future.

Kevin Love’s Rebounding Barrage

Kevin Love leading in the rebounding may not be a surprise to some but the majority of basketball of fans and analysts still vastly underrate him. Love’s name hardly comes up on Sportscenter, probably because he plays for the Timberwolves, yet he has started the season greatly. Love is averaging an impressive 14.9 rebounds per game to go along with 19 points per game, all in his third season as a pro. So far this season love has put together stat lines of 23 points- 24 rebounds, a historic 31-31 (Moses Malone was the last player to do it in 1986), 32-22 and 21-21 (the last two lines happened on consecutive games).

What’s impressive about Love’s rebounding prowess is his height, he is listed at 6-10 but he is no more than 6-8, just watch him on the basketball court next to the likes of Pau Gasol and Tim Duncan.

If you were coaching how to rebound, show tapes of Love – he uses his body perfectly to get into proper position every time and he is ferocious at going after the ball. It is time to start showing Love some respect; he’s the best rebounder in the NBA hands down.

NBA & NFL Players to Follow on Twitter

Fans rarely, if ever, get the chance to know an athlete outside of his or her sport. With the technology that is available today, fans can at least connect with athletes on a more personal level, one that television or newspapers can’t provide. Twitter is the social media of choice for the majority of athletes; it gives them a forum to communicate with their fans and also promote themselves and their sponsors. Twitter also allows athletes to show their true personalities because it isn’t formal like a press conference where athletes have to watch what they say. With that said, athletes can’t just say anything they want on Twitter as each professional sports league has a social media policy that monitors the athletes profiles and gives out fines if that policy is violated.

With the amount of athletes on Twitter it’s hard to choose which ones to follow. Some athletes are horrible tweeters and thus not worth wasting your timeline over.
In honor of basketball and football season, here is a list of athletes to follow from each sport.

Basketball:

Steve Nash:
@the_real_nash

Nash dishes it out on Twitter as well as he does on the basketball court.  He makes it a priority to communicate with his fans, which is the best aspect of his Twitter account. Nash also uses his twitter to not only promote charities he is involved in; he encourages fans to get involved with them as well. Nash even shows off his love for other sports as he regularly discusses English soccer. He may not be the most entertaining athlete to follow but Nash’s Twitter gives fans a true sense of who he is as a person.

Shaquille O’Neal:
@THE_REAL_SHAQ

Shaq is the total opposite of Steve Nash, at least on Twitter anyways. He posts are often random but always entertaining. It may take some time to understand what he is saying because Shaq likes to create his own words (for example Shakwondo and Shaqilates). He posts frequently, at least once a day. The most enjoyable posts are the “twitpics” (pictures) that are of anything ranging from his girlfriend (Hoopz from Flavor of Love) to random pictures of himself.

Kevin Durant:
@KDthunderup

Durant, out of all the athletes I follow, is the most interactive with his followers. He will have full conversations with followers and post ustream links so that fans can video chat with him. Besides connecting with fans, Durant always entices his followers to tune into his games and support the Thunder. He is the face of the franchise and he displays it on Twitter.

LeBron James:
@KingJames

King James is the newest superstar to Twitter, having only joined during this past summer but that doesn’t matter as he already has over one million followers. LeBron is interactive with his fans and is not afraid to let them into his personal life. James’ love of all sports comes out with his tweets as he regularly talks about his favorite athletes and teams such as Cam Newton of Auburn and the Dallas Cowboys. His tweets are personal, entertaining and informative, what else could you ask for?

Paul Pierce:
@paulpierce34

The only reason Pierce is on this list is because of an amazing trash-talking tweet he posted shortly after the Celtics beat the Heat this past week. Pierce said: “It’s been a pleasure to bring my talents to south beach now on to Memphis” in reference to the line LeBron James said when he decided to join the Miami Heat. Has there ever been a better use of Twitter?

Football:

Chad Ochocinco:
@OGOchoCinco

Chad Ochocinco (yes that really is his name, switched from Johnson) is obsessed with his Twitter account.  He routinely floods his follower’s timelines with tweets about everything in his own crazy world.  Ochocinco is hands down the most entertaining athlete to follow. He trash-talks opponents and other celebrities, (he once got into a back and forth comedy contest with Marlon Wayans) asks his followers for love advice and even invites his followers to have meals with him (he buys of course). Ochocinco is always entertaining; you will never be disappointed with his tweets.

Larry Fitzgerald:
@LarryFitzgerald

Fitzgerald is a classy guy and that shows on his Twitter. He never trash-talks people or criticizes anyone, even though he plays on an under performing team. His Twitter like his football career is all business. The reason he is great to follow is because of his motivational tweets and his interaction with fans. To honor his fans Fitzgerald created the #TeamFitz hashtag so that his followers gain more followers by following each other.

Reggie Bush:
@reggie_bush

Bush, like Durant, is extremely interactive with his followers. Bush is one of the most popular athletes on Twitter with over 1,400,000 followers. He always converses with his fans, provides updates on the New Orleans Saints and discusses multiple sports. Once you follow him, it’s easy to see why he has so many followers.

Clay Matthews:
@ClayMattthews52

It’s about time people started to know who Clay Matthews is, considering that he is one of the best defensive players in the NFL. The intimidating linebacker with the wild hair has an equally great Twitter account. His tweets are often witty, he interacts with fans and his twitpics are always entertaining. But nothing compares to his back and forth tweets with both former and current teammates. A must follow.

Patrick Willis:
@PatrickWillis52

Just because there’s no way I could leave out a 49er. But seriously he is a good follow because his tweets are always personal. His tweets are usually about the food he is eating, his hobbies and his life as a football player. Maybe not the most entertaining stuff but those tweets give fans the type of personal information that social media is meant to provide. Willis is a definite follow, Niner fan or not.

Editor-in-Chief: Heather Spellacy

Chief Copy-Editor: Burke McSwain

Sports Editor: Matt Steinbach