Wednesday, April 29, 2009

All Undrafted Team - Baker's Dozen

These are my 13 favorite players that went undrafted. Come September, these guys will find themselves on NFL rosters.

Darry Beckwith, LB, LSU
Frantz Joseph, LB, Florida Atlantic
Jeremiah Johnson, RB, Oregon
Dannell Ellerbe, LB, Georgia
Graham Gano, P, Florida State
Graham Harrell, QB, Texas Tech
Arian Foster, RB, Tennessee
Ryan Purvis, TE, Boston College
Brannan Sunderland, RB, Georgia
Mitch King, DT, Iowa
Derek Pegues, S, Mississippi State
Kory Sheets, RB, Purdue
Quan Cosby, WR, Texas

Monday, April 27, 2009

NFL Draft - Grades by Team

Jacksonville: The Jaguars made it clear to the world that Davod Garrard is still their guy. For that, I commend them because he did not get a fair look last year. Not only did they get protection for Garrard (Eugene Monroe and Eben Britton), but they also got him playmakers on the outsde (Mike Thomas and Jarrett Dillard) and a bruising runner (Rashad Jennings) who will be the Thunder to Maurice Jones-Drew's Lightning. A great weekend for the franchise. Grade: A+

Buffalo: The Bills did well to address a number of need areas. Namely, they drafted a pass rusher (Aaron Maybin), pass-catching tight end (Shawn Nelson) and offensive lineman (Eric Wood and Andy Levitre) to help replace Jason Peters. I also really like the Harris duo (5th rounder Nic and 6th rounder Cary). Grade: A

New York Jets: The Jets went with quality over quantity. Obviously, their grade hinges on the success of Mark Sanchez. If he can turn out to be the franchise quarterback Rex Ryan imagines, Jets fans will be thrilled. I love his intangibles and think he'll live up to the billing. Shonn Greene, although not a need, is a solid third round pick as well. Grade: A-

Detroit: Obviosuly, the Lions, more than any other team, needed to nail this draft. Thankfully for them and the entire state, they did. Matthew Stafford is the new face of the franchise. Brandon Pettigrew and Derrick Williams are solid picks. Louis Delmas hits like a truck. Lydon Murtha will start on the offensive line. Zach Follett will contribute as well. Jim Schwartz and staff, nicely done. Grade: A-

New York Giants: I don't like the Hakeem Nicks selection because of the off the field issues, but their next six picks should make the roster. Another solid draft by the Giants. Grade: B+

Baltimore: Ozzie Newsome again proves to the league that he is a superior talent evaluator. I love the Oher pick and Paul Kruger was a great value pick. The Day Two picks were solid if unspectacular. Grade B+

Seattle: I really like what Jim Mora, Jr. did in this draft. Aaron Curry is a great player and an even better person which means something in today's NFL. Max Unger will start on Opening Day. Deon Butler is a speed demon that makes plays. Courtney Greene provides solid value in round seven. Grade: B+

Chicago: The Bears did about as well as possible with no Day One selections. Jarron Gilbert is a physical freak. Juaquin Igleasias is underrated, and D.J. Moore provides great value in the fourth round. And of course, they used some picks to acquire Jay Cutler. Grade: B+

Atlanta: I love the Peria Jerry and Lawrence Sidbury picks. I'm also factoring in the acquisition of Tony Gonzalez into this grade. Grade: B

Cincinnati: I love the Day Two selections as I detailed yesterday, but the character issues of Andre Smith worry me. Rey Maualuga was a solid value in round two. Grade: B

Green Bay: Defense was the focus going in and the Pack addressed the need in a big way. B.J. Raji ended up going where I expected at the beginning of this process (ninth overall), and Clay Matthews should help revamp the linebacking corps. Grade: B

Philadelphia: Like the Jets, the Eagles chose quality over quantity. Jeremy Maclin and LeSean McCoy were solid picks. My only reservation is that Philadelphia already has a Maclin-type in DeSean Jackson. Grade: B

Arizona: Chris Wells is exactly what this offense needs to create a balanced attack. Best of all, they kept Anquan Boldin. Now, they have to figure out how to keep Anquan Boldin happy. If they can do that, this grade will be improved. Grade: B

Tennessee: Kenny Britt is a nice late first round selection. I also like Sen'Derrick Marks late in the second round and love the selection of the ultra-productive Gerald McRath in the fourth round. Grade: B-

San Francisco: The Michael Crabtree pick was spectacular. After that though? Not much. Grade: B-

Pittsburgh: Ho hum. Average draft. Average grade (Note: Average denotes average at Johns Hopkins University; yes, I'm still bitter). Grade: C+

Minnesota: The draft hinges on Percy Harvin. Luckily, I am a fan of his and think he can be the Reggie Bush-type playmaker the Vikings need. My only reservation is that Brad Childress seems like a pushover and not the drill sergeant that Harvin needs. I'm interested to see how this plays out. I like the Phil Loadholt and Asher Allen selections too. Grade: C+

New England: The Patriots did well to trade two of their 2009 third round picks for two 2010 second rounders. However, the payers they drafted this year do not excite me. Grade: C+

Washington: Brian Orakpo alone saves the 'Skins because they needed to address their pass rush concerns, and he does that for them. However, the rest of the draft is relatively boring. Grade: C+

Indianapolis: Many consider Donald Brown to be the best running back in this class. However, the Colts had more pressing needs. I did like the two defensive tackle selections (Fili Moala and Terrance Taylor) and the productive Austin Collie. Grade: C

Denver: An intersting set of moves by Josh McDaniels and his staff. They reached a bit for Knowshon Moreno, but I can't fault them for that since they got good value with their other first round pick, Robert Ayers. However, I really dislike the trade of their 2010 first rounder for Alphonso Smith because I think that will end up being a Top 10 pick. Grade: C

Houston: Brian Cushing and Connor Barwin will help put pressure on the quarterback but were two tight ends on Day Two necessary? I think James Casey would have been enough especially with Owen Daniels already on the roster. Grade: C-

Miami: Solid Day One. Terrible Day Two. Sean Smith saves this team from "D" territory. Grade: C-

St. Louis: Their first two picks will start for the next eight to ten years, but the team needs a lot more help and I don't think they addressed enough needs. Grade: C-

San Diego: The Chargers reached for first rounder Larry English, but I like the value they got on Day Two in Louis Vasquez and Kevin Ellison. Wasn't Demetrius Byrd just in a serious car accident? I hope and pray that Byrd makes a full recovery, but isn't it a wasted pick? Grade: D+

New Orleans: Malcolm Jenkins was a solid pick, but he's not enough to save an entire draft. The rest of the Saints' selections leave a lot to be desired. Grade: D+

Cleveland: As discussed on Saturday, the Browns were one of my Day One losers. They did not do nearly enough on Day Two to redeem themselves. Grade: D

Carolina: Everette Brown is a solid selection but it cost the Panthers a 2010 first rounder. The overall body of work just doesn't do it for me. Grade: D

Dallas: Jerry Jones is an incredible businessman, but his player evaluation skills come into question after this draft. Twelve picks and no impact players? Not doing it for me. Grade: D-

Kansas City: I cannot defend any selection the Chiefs made. To me, they did not make any significant improvements. Ironically, in every one of my mock drafts, I had the Chiefs taking OT Eugene Monroe because they could pair him with his former college teammate and their 2008 first rounder, Branden Albert. As it turns out, I had the correct idea, but it turned out they drafted their other 2008 first rounder's (Glenn Dorsey) college linemate, Tyson Jackson. Much like the Chiefs draft, good idea but poor execution. Grade: D-

Tampa Bay: The Bucs traded up for Josh Freeman, an unproven, raw quarterback that they reached for despite the fact that they just signed Byron Leftwich to a two-year deal. Just a terrible day for Tampa Bay. Grade: F

Oakland: I won't get into any more detail than I did over the last few days, but the lesson for all other teams should be "Do as the Raiders Don't." Just pitiful. Grade: F

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Day 2 - Recap


Chicago: Without a day one pick, the Bears did very well to fill a number of need areas on Day Two.

Jacksonville: The Jags picked three receivers and a running back that have the potential to contribute in 2009.

Detroit: The Lions got Matthew Stafford some weapons and some protection. What else can you ask for?

New York Giants: The Giants addressed some key needs, wide receiver, tight end, and running back. Well done.

Cincinnati: It's possible, even likely that the Bengals picked up three players that will start for them on Opening Day - Michael Johnson, Chase Coffman and Jonathan Luigs.


Dallas: The Cowboys failed to draft any player that will start for them at a skill position. I guess they did a good job drafting depth, but they needed more after a disappointing 2008 campaign.

Miami: They reached for a couple wide receivers and drafted a guy from Monmouth. Nothing good ever comes from Monmouth.

New England: I should trust Bill Belichick's player evaluation skills, but I think the Patriots struggled all weekend. Who is the defining player of the draft for them?

Best Picks

Jarron Gilbert, DT, San Jose State (68th overall by Chicago): Freak athlete. See here.

Trevor Canfield, OG, Cincinnati (254th by Arizona): Love the value in the seventh round.

Juaquin Iglesias, WR, Oklahoma (99th by Chicago): Sam Bradford's favorite target should fit in nicely in Chicago.

Courtney Greene, S, Rutgers (245th by Seattle): This was a need area for the Seahawks, and Greene has second round ability. He fell to the seventh round because of consistency issues.

Sammie Stroughter, WR, Oregon State (233rd by Tampa Bay): Stroughter has a chance to come in and contribute from day one. He lacks blazing speed but consistently makes plays.

Other Draft Notes

--USC had 11 players selected, 50% more than the next closest team.

--38 cornerbacks were selected. The next closest position (defensive ends) had 22 players selected. Still have your doubts that this is a passing league? Didn't think so?

--The U(niversity of Miami) only had one player selected all day (Spence Adkins, 6th Round). Among others, here's a list of schools that saw at least one of their players go before Adkins: Temple, William & Mary, Western Illinois, Nicholls State, Cal Poly, Western Ontario, Stillman, St. Paul's, Monmouth, and Abilene Christian. Things can only get better in south Florida.

--Grades by team coming tomorrow.

Day 1 - Recap


New York Jets: Trading up for Mark Sanchez while only giving up a second rounder and some spare parts is a win in my book. He's got the perfect make-up to succeed in New York.

Baltimore: The Ravens traded up for Michael Oher and found first round talent late in the second round in Paul Kruger.

Philadelphia: The Eagles picked up two impact players in the draft (Jeremy Maclin and LeSean McCoy) and another by trading a couple picks (Jason Peters). Well done.

Jacksonville: I love the fact that the Jaguars are addressing their glaring need on the offensive line. Eugene Monroe and Eben Britton will allow David Garrard to prove his 2008 season was an anomaly.

UConn: Four first day picks? Well done, Randy Edsall.


: Is this even a debate? They reached for Darrius Heyward-Bay with the seventh overall pick and then stunned the masses by taking Michael Mitchell with the 40th pick. The moral of the story: never entrust your draft to an unstable, 80 year old man.

Tampa Bay: Not only did they reach for Josh Freeman, but they also traded up for him. This has major bust potential.

Cleveland: The Browns traded down from the fifth overall pick to 21 and failed to pick up a 2010 first rounder in the process. Then, they drafted two wide receivers. Worst of all, they did not make a move with either of their two quarterbacks. A very confusing day.

New England
: Lots of movement but no meaningful action. The Patriots failed to grab a difference maker on either side of the ball despite being involved in about a dozen trades.

The U(niversity of Miami): No first round picks for the first time in 14 years? That'll get you a spot on this list.

Best Picks (non-Sanchez category)

Michael Crabtree, WR, Texas Tech: The 49ers get the top talent in the draft with the 10th pick. Makes sense to me.

Everette Brown, DE, Florida State (43rd by Carolina): Late first round talent scooped up in the middle of the second.

Sean Smith, CB, Utah (61st by Miami): An incredible value here. Smith will be a starter in the NFL for the next ten years.

Worst Picks (non-Raiders category)

Tyson Jackson, DE, LSU (3rd by Kansas City): Jackson is a decent player, but he has very limited upside. That's not something you look for when picking third. Jackson wasn't even in my initial mock draft which shows just how far he's climbed in a few short months.

Andre Smith, OT, Alabama (6th by Cincinnati): Another day, another acquisition of a player with character issues.

Pat White, QB/WR, West Virginia (44th by Miami): I understand White will be a nice fit for the Wildcat but is that worth a precious early second rounder?

Friday, April 24, 2009

Final Mock Draft - Top 40

Round One

1. Detroit: Matthew Stafford, QB, Georgia - This seems like nothing more than a formality at this point. It's become apparent to everyone that the Lions want Stafford to be the face of their franchise.

2. St. Louis: Jason Smith, OT, Baylor - Even before the departure of Orlando Pace, the Rams had glaring holes along the offensive line. It comes down to Smith and Eugene Monroe in this spot. Rumors out of the Gateway City lead many to believe the Baylor product will be the pick.

3. Kansas City: Eugene Monroe, OT, Virginia - I've been promoting this idea for months. I really love the prospect of pairing Monroe with last year's first rounder Branden Albert. Matt Cassel feels better even though Tony Gonzalez won't be catching any of his passes this season.

4. Seattle: Mark Sanchez, QB, USC - The hottest prospect in the draft, Sanchez figues to come off the board in this spot although it may not be the Seahwaks making this pick.

5. Cleveland: B.J. Raji, DT, Boston College - New head coach Eric Mangini has been a proponent of building his teams through the offensive and defensive lines. Raji enamored himself with many talent evaluators this offseason despite the fact he failed to dominate the college game.

6. Cincinnati: Brian Orakpo, DE, Texas - I might be asking too much for the Bengals to pass on players with character issues, but the team needs pass rushers and Orakpo did that better than any other player in this class.

7. Oakland: Michael Crabtree, WR, Texas Tech - I know, I know. Al Davis loves speed. But, Crabtree is in a class by himself at the receiver position this year and as the number one overall prospect on my board, he would be a great value pick here. I like the idea of JaMarcus Russell, Darren McFadden and Crabtree on offense.

8. Jacksonville: Aaron Curry, LB, Wake Forest - By all accounts, Curry is a great player and an even better person. But, over the last 10 years, only two linebackers have gone in the top five (LaVar Arrington, A.J. Hawk) and neither has lived up to the billing. Linebacker is a position that can be filled with productive, solid, if unspectacular players. For those reasons, I think Curry will slip out of the top seven into the laps of the Jaguars.

9. Green Bay: Andre Smith, OT, Alabama - Stories of Smith dropping out of the first round due to his "questionable" offseason behavior turn out to be bogus when teams realize just how talented he is. The Pack can use the youth infusion on the front line.

10. San Francisco: Michael Oher, OT, Mississippi - Oher has been another hot name as the draft approaches and the 49ers can use help up front. Seems like a match to me.

11. Buffalo: Robert Ayers, DE, Tennessee - With the top four offensive linemen off the board, the Bills address their need for a pass rusher. Ayers, a mid-round prospect at best before the 2008 season, culminates the meteoric rise with a first round selection.

12. Denver: Tyson Jackson, DE, LSU - Scouts have dubbed Jackson a perfect fit for the 3-4 defense, and the Broncos will be making the conversion to that defense.

13. Washington: Aaron Maybin, DE, Penn State - If the 'Skins resist the urge to trade up for Sanchez, Maybin wouldn't be a terrible option.

14. New Orleans: Brian Cushing, OLB, USC - The Saints only have one Day 1 pick and they will be spending it on a defensive player. Which one? Could be a defensive back (Malcolm Jenkins?). Or it could be the DE/LB hybrid Cushing.

15. Houston: Jeremy Maclin, WR, Missouri - This would be a dream scenario for the Texans as they'd be able to pair Andre Johnson with the speedy Maclin.

16. San Diego: Larry English, LB, N. Illinois - Shawn Merriman Part Deux? The Chargers hope so. This could be a bit high so the Chargers might trade down, but I like this fit a lot.

17. New York Jets: Brandon Pettigrew, TE, Oklahoma State - Please don't take Josh Freeman. Please don't take Josh Freeman. Please don't take Josh Freeman. Please don't take Josh Freeman. Pettigrew would be the blocking tight end allowing Dustin Keller to work his magic downfield.

18. Denver: Clay Matthews, OLB, USC - Another guy who has seen a meteoric rise in his stock since August. The Broncos will love his toughness (hat tip Jay Bilas).

19. Tampa Bay: Malcolm Jenkins, CB/S, Ohio State - Ronde Barber isn't getting any younger and Jenkins will be a perfect fit in Raheem Morris' new scheme.

20. Detroit (from Dallas): Eben Britton, OT, Arizona - If you are going to guarantee a quarterback $40m over six years, Priority #1 becomes protecting that asset.

21. Philadelphia: Chris Wells, RB, Ohio State - Can Wells be the Thunder to Brian Westbrook's Lightning? The Eagles hope so.

22. Minnesota: Darrius Herward-Bey, WR, Maryland - Bey's speed is too tempting to pass up at this point. Eventually, the Vikings will stumble upon a go-to receiver, right?

23. New England: Knowshon Moreno, RB, Georgia - A bit of a surprise here but the Patriots have a number of picks and can afford to take a chance on a high upside player like Moreno. If this comes to fruition, you are looking at the early favorite for Offensive Rookie of the Year.

24. Atlanta: Sean Smith, CB, Utah - On Wednesday, I labeled Smith as the most underrated player in the draft. He also happens to be one of my favorites. His blend of size and speed is tantalizing and the Falcons can use help in the secondary.

25. Miami: Percy Harvin, WR, Florida - Another player on my underrated list, Harvin seems to have failed a Combine drug test which won't win him the admiration of Bill Parcells. However, the local product's skill set is perfectly suited for the Dolphins' offense.

26. Baltimore: Rey Maualuga, ILB, USC - Another ReyRey in Baltimore?

27. Indianapolis: Peria Jerry, DT, Mississippi - A great value pick here. Perry has top 15 talent and best of all, he fits a need for the Colts.

28. Buffalo (from Philadelphia via Carolina): Alex Mack, C, California - A versatile lineman that will help offset the loss of Jason Peters. He's probably not skilled enough to play OT, but it's a start.

29. New York Giants: Everette Brown, DE, Florida State - Rush the passer. Rush the passer. Rush the passer.

30. Tennessee: Evander Hood, DT, Missouri - A natural replacement for Albert Haynesworth.

31. Arizona: Vontae Davis, CB, Illinois - The Cardinals love speed as much as anyone in the league and Davis would be a nice complement to last year's first rounder Antonio Rodgers-Cromartie.

32: Pittsburgh: Alphonso Smith, CB, Wake Forest - Smith (the fourth of that surname in this round) is a bit undersized but has great ball skills. The defending Super Bowl champs have the luxury of being able to draft talent over need.

Eight More For Good Measure

33. Detroit: James Laurinaitis, LB, Ohio State - The best player left on the board, Laurinaitis would help solidify a linebacking corps that struggled mightily last year. Then again, the whole team struggled mightily so taking the best player on the board regardless of position makes sense.

34. New England (from Kansas City): Darius Butler, CB, Connecticut

35. St. Louis: Josh Freeman, QB, Kansas State - Every year, it seems like a quarterback falls farther than expected. I don't expect Freeman to last this deep in the draft but the teams directly above do not need a quarterback of the future. I'd put a 75% chance on a team trading up for him.

36. Cleveland: Donald Brown, RB, Connecticut

37. Seattle: Louis Delmas, S, W. Michigan

38. Cincinnati: Max Unger, C, Oregon

39. Jacksonville: Kenny Britt, WR, Rutgers

40. Oakland: Eric Wood, C, Louisville

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Overrated Players

Yesterday, we detailed the seven most underrated players. Here are the four players I think are most overrated* (in order of overratedness; yes, that's a word too).

Josh Freeman, QB, Kansas State (mock draft position: 17): Put simply, I will question my fanhood of the New York Jets if they select Freeman with the 17th pick. He's got great tools (rocket arm, prototypical size), but he is not a skilled quarterback but rather a developmental project.

Hakeem Nicks, WR, North Carolina (29): Nicks has below average speed, isn't elusive, and worst of all he's been rumored to have scored a 7 on the Wonderlic. This will not end well.

Pat White, QB/WR, West Virginia (72): I've had just about enough of the Pat White Hype Machine. He's a solid college quarterback and above average athlete. He's not going to revolutionize the NFL. Teams will figure out the Wildcat whether White is playing or not.

Everette Brown, DE, Florida State (18): A ho hum prospect, not a mid-first round pick.

*Rated based on Todd McShay's latest seven-round mock draft published on April 21st.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Underrated Players

Here are the seven players I think are most underrated* (in order of underratedness; yes, that's a word).

Sean Smith, CB, Utah (mock draft position: 57): Smith has been a favorite of mine for some time. He has great height (6'2") and speed (4.4 40). Best of all, he's only been playing the position for two years meaning there's a ton of upside left. I would not be shocked to hear his name get called in the first round. Teams in need of secondary help would be foolish to pass on him.

Juaquin Iglesias, WR, Oklahoma (138): To me, Iglesias is a better prospect than Malcolm Kelly, a former teammate of his who went in round two last year. Iglesias was QB Sam Bradford's favorite target this season (74 catches, 1,150 yards, 10 TD). A few weeks back, he was being discussed as an early second round possibility. Now, McShay has him going early in round five? Not happening.

Javon Ringer, RB, Michigan State (137): Maybe I'm a sucker for college productivity, but if you lead the NCAA in rushing touchdowns and finish in the top five in rushing yards and you play in the defensive-focused Big 10, I think you should get a little more respect. Ringer should see his name called in round three, not round five.

Jarrett Dillard, WR, Rice (133): Dillard hauled in 55 touchdowns over the last three seasons. Sure, he's a bit undersized and lacks top end speed, but his productivity and toughness (hat tip, Jay Bilas) cannot and should not be underestimated.

Gerald McRath, LB, Southern Miss (192): The combine-like measurables may not be there but McRath recorded 137 tackles despite playing behind a woeful defensive front. has the theme of productivity set in yet?

Percy Harvin, WR, Florida (27): Three years ago, Reggie Bush was the second overall selection. Harvin is the same player. Getting him 25 picks later wouldn't happen, but if it did, it's a steal.

Rey Maualuga, LB, USC (28): Possibly the second best linebacker in this year's class. His size:speed ratio is unparalleled. He's a beast with a mean streak and should be picked in the top 15.

*Rated based on Todd McShay's latest seven-round mock draft published on April 21st.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Banter Schedule

Wednesday: Underrated Players

Thursday: Overrated Players

Friday: Final Mock Draft

Separated at Birth?

Nascar driver Tony Stewart and Houston Astros' 1B Lance Berkman
Thanks to loyal reader Lance Uppercut for the suggestion.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Downright Giddiness

I'm downright giddy about Carl Pavano's start today at Yankee Stadium.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

NCAA Tournament, NBA Style - Finals

Starting Five


G- Mike Bibby
G-Gilbert Arenas
G-Jason Terry
F-Andre Iguodala
C-Channing Frye


G- Ben Gordon
G- Ray Allen
F- Rudy Gay
F- Caron Butler
C- Emeka Okafor

Richard Jefferson, Luke Walton, Jerryd Bayless, Hassan Adams

Richard Hamilton, Charlie Villanueva, Josh Boone, Hilton Armstrong, Jake Voskuhl, Kevin Ollie, Donyell Marshall, Kevin Ollie

Game Setup

This turns out to be a great matchup for a number of reasons.

--Arizona was 0-3 all time against UConn.

--UConn's shooting guards were the best in the tournament.

--Arizona's point guards were the best in the tournament.
--Both teams were best playing with a smaller lineup. At times, each team played with four guards on the floor, a dynamic not often seen.

Game Summary

Arizona jumped out to an early lead only to see UConn take a 40-37 lead into the half. With just over a minute left, Arizona led 78-74. Ray Allen hit a 3 on the next trip and Charlie Villanueva fouled Mike Bibby with 16 seconds left. Bibby hit the front end of a one-and-one but missed the second.

After two backscreens from Emeka Okafor and Rudy Gay, Ben Gordon fired a three which was off the mark. Richard Hamilton, however, rebounded the miss and hit a fallaway jumper in the lane (very reminiscent of this play) to send the game into OT.

In overtime, Caron Butler and Jason Terry traded jumpers.

With the score tied at 86, the Wildcats had the ball with 0:14 left in OT. The game would come down to Terry-Bibby-Arenas-Jefferson-Iguodala against Gordon-Villanueva-Gay-Butler-Okafor.

Arenas brings the ball past half court... 0:12, 0:11, 0:10...

Jefferson sets a high ball screen... 0:09, 0:08, 0:07...

Arenas drives right, Caron Butler steps off Iguodala to double... 0:06, 0:05..

Arenas dishes to Iguodala. Gordon helps leaving Jason Terry wide open ... 0:04, 0:03..

Iguodala hits Terry 17-feet from the bucket on the left baseline. Terry takes the shot and buries it. 0:00.

Arizona wins!!! The Vegas crowd is beside itself, getting all it paid for and more.

Final Score

(2) Arizona 88, (1) UConn 86 (OT)

All-Tournament Team

G- Jason Terry
G- Ray Allen
F- Andre Iguodala
F- Carmelo Anthony
C- Tim Duncan (Tournament MVP)

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

NCAA Tournament, NBA Style - Final Four

(1) UConn 85, (1) North Carolina 72: Just another day at the office for the Huskies who appear as focused as can be. Game MVP: Emeka Okafor - 16 points, 14 rebounds, 5 blocks.

(2) Arizona 72, (2) Wake Forest 57: Wake's "Big 3" run out of fumes and go quietly into the Vegas night. Game MVP: Jason Terry - 18 points including five 3's, 4 assists.

Check back tomorrow morning to see which university takes the first annual Banter Tournament.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

NCAA Tournament, NBA Style - Elite 8

The cream of the crop rises to the top as only the 1's and 2's remain. Winners earn a ticket to the Final Four.

East Region

(1) North Carolina 81, (2) Florida 71: Florida puts up a valiant effort despite the fact their guards are clearly inferior to those of the Heels. Raymond Felton abuses Anthony Roberson and North Carolina is on it's way to Vegas (site of the Banter Final Four). Game MVP: Raymond Felton - 20 points, 13 assists.

Midwest Region

(1) UConn 103, (2) Kansas 100 (OT): An incredible end to end game decided on a buzzer-beating three by Ray Allen. Emeka Okafor blocks 13 shots. Mario Chalmers records 12 steals. A game few will forget anytime soon. Game MVP: Ray Allen - 32 points including seven 3's.

South Region

(2) Arizona 80, (1) Duke 64: As has been the case in recent memory, Duke puts up a stinker in a meaningful tournament game. Blue Devils not named J.J. miss 14 of 20 free throws, and Duke shoots 30% from the floor. The Wildcats assert their dominance in the transition game (24 fast break points). Game MVP: Mike Bibby - 18 points, 13 assists.

West Region

(2) Wake Forest 77, (1) UCLA 72: The Russell Westbrook-Chris Paul matchup lives up to the billing as each go for eight assists and four steals. Much to the dismay of the Bruins, Tim Duncan continues his torrid streak, and Darius Songalia hits a few clutch jumpers to seal the deal. Game MVP: Tim Duncan - 30 points, 15 rebounds.

Monday, April 13, 2009

NCAA Tournament, NBA Style - Sweet 16

East Region

(1) North Carolina 70, (5) Ohio State 60: The Buckeyes successfully slow the pace of the game, but ultimately the superior skill of North Carolina leads to a victory. Game MVP: Rasheed Wallace - 17 points, 8 rebounds, 2 blocks, 1 technical.

(2) Florida 82, (3) Syracuse 64: With an average supporting cast, Carmelo Anthony can't carry the 'Cuse any further. Game MVP: Carmelo Anthony - 32 points, 10 rebounds.

Midwest Region

(1) UConn 95, (5) Illinois 65: An exhausted Deron Williams-led Illini squad proves to be little more than a speed bump for the Huskies. Another dominant performance from UConn. Game MVP: Rudy Gay - 26 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists, 4 steals.

(2) Kansas 84, (3) Georgia Tech 82 (OT): The best game of the weekend. The Yellow Jackets led by Chris Bosh give the Jayhawks all they can handle. After Thad Young fouls out late in regulation, Paul Pierce takes over. Game MVP: Paul Pierce - 25 points including 8 in OT.

South Region

(1) Duke 102, (4) LSU 71: The Tigers lack of guards catches up to them, and the Blue Devils show no mercy. Game MVP: Chris Duhon - 10 points, 14 assists.

(2) Arizona 75, (6) Marquette 59: Andre Iguodala proves his worth as he "holds" a depleted Dwyane Wade to 24 points. Game MVP: Gilbert Arenas - 18 points, 9 assists.

West Region

(1) UCLA 80, (5) Georgetown 49: The Bruins, recognizing how old the Hoyas are, run and up and down the court reminding fans of the Jim Harrell heyday of the early 90's. Hide the women and children because this one got ugly. Game MVP: Trevor Ariza - 20 points, 10 rebounds, 5 steals.

(2) Wake Forest , (3) Kentucky : The Wildcats match up decently with the Demon Deacons, but after resting for the better part of the second half in Round 1, Wake's "Big Three" combine for 65 points. Game MVP: Tim Duncan - 30 points, 12 rebounds.

Friday, April 10, 2009

NCAA Tournament, NBA Style - Round One

East Region

(1) North Carolina 88, (8) Washington 70: Nate Robinson and Brandon Roy keep the game close for the first half, but the depth of the Tar Heel bench becomes apparent early in the second half and North Carolina pulls away. Game MVP: Antawn Jamison - 28 points including 3 3-pointers.

(5) Ohio State 71, (4) Alabama 68: The Crimson Tide's lack of height allows Greg Oden and Kosta Koufos to have their way down low. Mike Conley is able to neutralize Mo Williams and Michael Redd scores at will. Gerald Wallace has a nice game (25 and 12), but it's not enough. Game MVP: Michael Redd - 32 points including 5 3-pointers.

(3) Syracuse 73, (6) USC 65: Carmelo Anthony thrives in NCAA Tournament-like formats (see 2003 NCAA Tournament and 2008 Olympics). Although his supporting cast here isn't spectacular, it's certainly enough to get by an overmatched Trojans squad. Game MVP: Carmelo Anthony - 35 points and 13 rebounds.

(2) Florida 84, (7) Oklahoma State 67: The Cowboys do not have the scorers to keep up with the run-n-gun Gators. This game gets out of hand early and the Gators are able rest their starters. Game MVP: Mike Miller - 19 points including 4 3-pointers.

Midwest Region

(1) UConn 101, (8) Oregon 75: The Ducks rely on strong guard play to win games. Unfortunately for them, the Huskies are the deepest team in this tournament, and they run Oregon out of the gym. Game MVP: Caron Butler - 24 points including 3 3-pointers.

(5) Illinois 80, (4) Memphis 76: Ultimately, the game comes down to Deron Williams vs. Derrick Rose. Williams carries the Illini on his back and hits some clutch threes down the stretch. Game MVP: Deron Williams - 34 points, 13 assists.

(3) Georgia Tech 84, (6) Villanova 56: This is a nightmare matchup for the Wildcats. They have no big men, and the Yellow Jackets can run with them. Plenty of rest for the regulars. Game MVP: Chris Bosh - 22 points, 17 rebounds.

(2) Kansas 90, (7) Arkansas 75: Joe Johnson keeps Paul Pierce at bay, but every other matchup goes the Wildcats' way, and the Razorbacks are sent home early. Game MVP: Kirk Hinrich - 20 points, 11 assists.

South Region

(1) Duke 80, (8) DePaul 61: The Blue Devils outclass the Blue Demons in every facet of the game. Again, more rest for the regulars. Game MVP: Carlos Boozer - 21 points, 14 rebounds.

(4) LSU 76, (5) California 74: This is my favorite first round matchup. Jason Kidd can have his way with LSU because the Tigers have a huge hole in the backcourt. The Tigers, though, possess the deepest frontcourt in the tournament. Anthony Randolph is forced to play point-forward and does an adequate enough job that the Tigers squeak out out a last-second victory. Game MVP: Shaq - 25 points, 18 rebounds.

(6) Marquette 109, (3) Texas 105 (3 OT): The first round's best individual matchup far surpasses all expectations. Both Kevin Durant and Dwyane Wade post triple doubles. In triple-OT, the Golden Eagles' sharpshooters, Steve Novak and Travis Diener, take the onus off Wade and hit a combined five 3's. A game that will be tough to forget. Game MVP: Dwyane Wade - 43 points, 11 assists, 10 rebounds, 5 steals, 3 blocks.

(2) Arizona 88, (7) Maryland 65: An awful matchup for the Terps as the Wildcats play solid defense and Maryland struggles mightily to put the ball in the hoop. Game MVP: Andre Iguodala - 16 points, 10 rebounds, 7 assists.

West Region

(1) UCLA 80, (8) UNLV 66: The Bruins double-team Shawn Marion every time he touches the ball and force his teammates to beat them, a strategy that works to perfection. Game MVP: Baron Davis - 25 points, 12 assists.

(5) Georgetown 55, (4) Michigan State 51: The dysfunctional Spartans display no offensive rhythm and Allen Iverson creates enough open shots for his teammates against the defense-averse Spartans that the Hoyas win a sloppy game. Game MVP: Allen Iverson - 16 points, 8 assists.

(3) Kentucky 60, (6) Stanford 58: The All-Wingspan team (Kentucky) scores just enough to win and sets a tournament record with 22 blocked shots. Game MVP: Rajon Rondo - 14 points, 8 assists, 8 steals, 8 blocks.

(2) Wake Forest 75, (7) Notre Dame 60: The Demon Deacons' Big Three have there way all day and when the Fightin' Irish's threes don't fall, the game gets out of hand. Game MVP: Tim Duncan - 31 points, 12 rebounds.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

NCAA Tournament, NBA Style - Bracket

East Region

1- North Carolina
8- Washington

4- Alabama
5- Ohio State

3- Syracuse
6- USC

2- Florida
7- Oklahoma State

Midwest Region

1- UConn
8- Oregon

4- Memphis
5- Illinois

3- Georgia Tech
6- Villanova

2- Kansas
7- Arkansas

South Region

1- Duke
8- DePaul

4- LSU
5- California

3- Texas
6- Marquette

2- Arizona
7- Maryland

West Region


4- Michigan State
5- Georgetown

3- Kentucky
6- Stanford

2- Wake Forest
7- Notre Dame

You have 24 hours to fill out your brackets and start an office pool. Good luck.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

NFL Rumor of the Day

Full disclosure: I am guilty of starting this rumor.

The Denver Broncos will / should trade their two first round picks (numbers 12 and 18) to the Seattle Seahawks in exchange for the 4th overall pick. I know it's not a perfect match on the NFL Draft Value Chart, but it's a perfect match of needs.

Why Denver will / should do this: The Broncos would virtually guarantee themselves one of the top two quarterbacks in the draft, either Matthew Stafford or Mark Sanchez. In essence, they would have traded their own first and fifth round picks and Jay Cutler for either Stafford or Sanchez, Kyle Orton, a third rounder, and a first round pick next year. Seems pretty fair especially since Cutler and new head coach Josh McDaniels did not see eye-to-eye anyway.

Why Seattle will / should do this: Seattle has many pressing needs. Trading down would allow them to take two impact players. In a perfect scenario for them, they would take a safety (possibly Malcolm Jenkins) with the 12th pick and a quarterback of the future (possibly Josh Freeman) with the 18th pick. Strategically, in order to get Freeman, teams will have to trade ahead of the Tampa Bay Bucs who happen to pick 19th.

NCAA Tournament, NBA Style - Rosters

Rosters for 32 Team Field

1. North Carolina: Marvin Williams, Raymond Felton, Vince Carter, Rasheed Wallace, Antawn Jamison, Jerry Stackhouse, Brandan Wright, Rashad McCants, Brendan Haywood, Sean May, Jawad Williams

1. UCLA: Aaron Afflalo, Dan Gadzuric, Luc Mbah a Moute, Jason Kapono, Ryan Hollins, Baron Davis, Trevor Ariza, Jordan Farmar, Kevin Love, Russell Westbrook, Matt Barnes, Earl Watson

1. Duke: Luol Deng, Corey Maggette, Mike Dunleavy, Josh McRoberts, Chris Duhon, JJ Redick, Elton Brand, Shane Battier, Shelden Williams, Grant Hill, Carlos Boozer, Shavlik Randolph, Dahntay Jones

1. UConn: Ray Allen, Emeka Okafor, Ben Gordon, Richard Hamilton, Charlie Villanueva, Josh Boone, Caron Butler, Rudy Gay, Kevin Ollie, Hilton Armstrong, Jake Voskuhl, Kevin Ollie, Donyell Marshall

2. Wake Forest: Chris Paul, Tim Duncan, Josh Howard, Darius Songaila, Chris Ellis, Rusty LaRue, Trent Strickland

2. Florida: Al Horford, Joakim Noah, Udonis Haslem, David Lee, Marreese Speights, Corey Brewer, Mike Miller, Matt Bonner, Anthony Roberson

2. Kansas: Kirk Hinrich, Paul Pierce, Julian Wright, Darnell Jackson, Brandon Rush, Mario Chalmers, Darrell Arthur, Nick Collison, Drew Gooden, Jacque Vaughn

2. Arizona: Mike Bibby, Richard Jefferson, Andre Iguodala, Gilbert Arenas, Jason Terry, Luke Walton, Jerryd Bayless, Channing Frye, Hassan Adams

3. Georgia Tech: Chris Bosh, Stephon Marbury, Will Bynum, Jarrett Jack, Thaddeus Young, Javaris Crittenton, Anthony Morrow, Matt Harpring, Mario West

3. Texas: Kevin Durant, DJ Augustin, Daniel Gibson, TJ Ford, Royal Ivey, Chris Mihm, LaMarcus Aldridge, Maurice Evans

3. Syracuse: Carmelo Anthony, Etan Thomas, Jason Hart, Hakim Warrick, Donte Greene, Darryl Watkins, Demetris Nichols

3. Kentucky: Rajon Rondo, Nazr Mohammed, Tayshaun Prince, Jamaal Magliore, Keith Bogans, Chuck Hayes, Kelenna Azubuike, Randolph Morris

4. LSU: Glen Davis, Tyrus Thomas, Anthony Randolph, Shaq, Brandon Bass, Stromile Swift, Ronald Dupree

4. Michigan State: Charlie Bell, Jason Richardson, Mo Ager, Zach Randolph, Shannon Brown, Morris Peterson, Paul Davis

4. Memphis: Derrick Rose, Lorenzen Wright, Chris Douglas-Roberts, Shawne Williams, Joey Dorsey, Rodney Carney, Darius Washington

4. Alabama: Mo Williams, Gerald Wallace, Antonio McDyess, Jermareo Davidson, Robert Horry, Rod Grizzard, Richard Hendrix

5. Georgetown: Allen Iverson, Roy Hibbert, Dikemebe Mutombo, Jeff Green, Othella Harrington, Alonzo Mourning, Parick Ewing Jr.

5. California-Berkeley: Jason Kidd, Leon Powe, Francisco Elson, Ryan Anderson, Sean Marks, Shareef Abdur-Rahim, Rod Benson

5. Illinois: Luther Head, Deron Williams, Brian Cook, Dee Brown, James Augustine, Roger Powell, Nick Smith

5. Ohio State: Daequan Cook, Greg Oden, Mike Conley, Michael Redd, Kosta Koufos, Othello Hunter, JJ Sullinger, Jamar Butler

6. Stanford: Brevin Knight, Brook Lopez, Robin Lopez, Jason Collins, Mark Madsen, Jarron Collins, Casey Jacobsen

6. USC: OJ Mayo, Brian Scalabrine, Nick Young, Desmond Farmer, Gabe Pruitt, Sam Clancy, Jeff Trepagnier

6. Villanova: Tim Thomas, Kyle Lowry, Randy Foye, Malik Allen, Allan Ray, Alvin Williams, Jason Fraser

6. Marquette: Travis Diener, Dwyane Wade, Steve Novak, Greg Clausen, Scott Merritt, Joe Chapman, Amal MacCaskill

7. Arkansas: Joe Johnson, Sonny Weems, Ronnie Brewer, Steven Hill, Jannero Pargo, Kareem Reid, Corliss Williamson

7. Oklahoma State: Tony Allen, Stephen Graham, Joey Graham, Desmond Mason, JamesOn Curry, Ivan McFarlin, John Lucas

7. Maryland: Joe Smith, Chris Wilcox, Steve Blake, Juan Dixon, DJ Strawberry, Steve Francis, Chris McCray

7. Notre Dame: Troy Murphy, Chris Quinn, Matt Carroll, Rob Kurz, Pat Garrity, Torrian Jones, Ryan Humphrey

8. DePaul: Bobby Simmons, Quentin Richardson, Wilson Chandler, Steven Hunter, Andre Brown, Paul McPherson, Rod Strickland

8. Oregon: Luke Ridnour, Aaron Brooks, Fred Jones, Malik Hairston, Luke Jackson, Andre Joseph, Alex Scales

8. Washington: Nate Robinson, Brandon Roy, Spencer Hawes, Bobby Jones, Will Conroy, Ryan Appelby, Jamaal Williams

8. UNLV: Shawn Marion, Marcus Banks, Louis Amundson, Joel Anthony, Stacey Augmon, Keon Clark, Romel Beck

Brackets will be released tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Another Appalling Decision in Cincinnati

This is becoming a joke. The Bengals signed DT Tank Johnson, another player who has been suspended by the league (gun violation).

No team needs new management more than the Cincinnati Bengals. How many criminals / convicts can one team welcome with open arms?

You are a joke of a franchise. For once, look at a moral compass.

It's time to start from scratch.

NCAA Tournament, NBA Style - Preview

Although this could be the best idea I've ever had, the premise is relatively simple:

Which college would win a single-elimination tournament using players (NBA, NBDL, etc) that attended their schools?

Over the next few days, we'll break down the rosters and match-ups.

Three quick notes / assumptions:

-I tried to follow NCAA seeding guidelines (ie no teams from the same conference can meet before the Elite 8)

-For teams with less than 7 current NBA players, I backfilled the roster using NBDL players, the most recent NBA retirees or recent college graduates.

--The results are based on games that would be played today. Skill levels will be adjusted as appropriate.

Sit back and enjoy.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Sports Pet Peeve(s)

Sports Pet Peeve #6a: The fact that an NBA player can force a team to buy-out his contract so he can sign with another team. In essence, it's “double-dipping” (which for me also happens to be Non-Sports Pet Peeve #16 but that’s a whole different story).

Need an example to make things more clear? Let’s look at the Alonzo Mourning from a few years back. The New Jersey Nets signed Mourning to a 4-year, $22-million contract. Two years into the deal, the Nets trade Mourning to the Toronto Raptors. Mourning refuses to play for the Raptors and demands a buyout. The Raptors, with seemingly no choice, oblige. They give ‘Zo $10 million to rid themselves of him. Shortly thereafter, ‘Zo signs a new free agent contract with the Miami Heat. So, now ‘Zo is getting paid by the Raptors and the Heat. Double-dipping at its finest.

Closely related…

#6b: The fact that when a team releases a player, he gets paid the remainder of his contract by that team, and can sign a new, additional contract with a new team.

Need an example? Let’s look at Qyntel Woods, who was drafted in the 1st Round of the 2002 NBA Draft. The Boston Celtics recently released Woods with 1-year, $750,000 remaining on his contract. The New York Knicks signed Woods (yes, this is the same Q-Woods accused of running a pit bull fighting ring in Oregon, but we’ll save that one for a later date) meaning they owe him the prorated NBA minimum for the rest of the season (about $500,000). So, Woods will be rewarded for being released. This season he’ll make approximately $1.25 million.

I was watching a "Best of ESPN Commercials" recently and was reminded of those “Without Sports . . .” ads? Well, if I had a say I’d add this one: Without sports this woman would not be caught dead with this man.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Revisiting The Offseason Predictions

On the first day of 2009, I predicted where the top nine Major League free agents would wind up. Let's see how I did.

1. Manny Ramirez, OF
Perfect Landing Spot: Angels
Will End Up: Dodgers
Actual: Dodgers

2. Adam Dunn, OF
Perfect Landing Spot: Orioles
Will End Up: Angels
Actual: Nationals

3. Derek Lowe, SP
Perfect Landing Spot: Mets
Will End Up: Mets
Actual: Braves

4. Oliver Perez, SP
Perfect Landing Spot: Mets
Will End Up: Mets
Actual: Mets

5. Milton Bradley, OF
Perfect Landing Spot: Cubs
Will End Up: Cubs
Actual: Cubs

6. Ben Sheets, SP
Perfect Landing Spot: Rangers
Will End Up: Rangers
Actual: N/A - Still a free agent

7. Orlando Hudson, 2B
Perfect Landing Spot: White Sox
Will End Up: Braves
Actual: Dodgers

8. Pat Burrell, OF
Perfect Landing Spot: Indians
Will End Up: Rays
Actual: Rays

9. Bobby Abreu, OF
Perfect Landing Spot: A's
Will End Up: A's
Actual: Angels


Correct: 4
Incorrect: 4
To Be Deceided: 1

I'll take a .500 offseason.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Interesting Links et al

* Trivia Question: How many players from the 2003 NCAA Football Championship Game (Miami vs. Ohio State) have played in the NFL?

*Personally, I never grow sick of Wonderlic Test articles. Here's one that pacified me.

*Honey, I'm going to the game. I'll be back.... never.

*I'm a bit late to the party, but analyzing umpires seems like the next wave of sabermetrics. Along those lines, check out this article.

*This story is incredibly weird and not just becuase a 20-year old stud prospect has a 43-year old wife. Although Tabata might be older than his listed age, that's still a huge age gap.

*I need more details on this story. Specifically, what's the story with this scam? I am probably getting this wrong, but it seems like the scammers were trying to sell money in exchange for... money." Come over and buy our money at a discount."

*Trivia Answer: 51