FRIDAY! FINALLY! Let’s get it on!
5. So it is truly “mums the word” around the Pepsi Center. Following Thursday’s practice for the Denver Nuggets, the object of months of trade speculation, Carmelo Anthony, had nothing to say to the legion of curious media members. His teammates were forced to endure the brunt of the “what’s it like playing in this situation-”type questions that have become the focal point of impatient scribes praying for something concrete to report upon. With the Nets “officially” out of the hunt now, the scope of the Nuggets’ search must (and certainly has) expanded to include teams that haven’t even been publicly considered yet. I wouldn’t be surprised if teams like Dallas, that are looking for a possible rent-a-player might make the move on the terms that the trade involves only Melo and not the hoard of players that had been rumored for so long with New Jersey. With all of the rumors swirling around, the two-time defending NBA champs, the Los Angeles Lakers, come to Denver this evening. I foresee this going down in one of two fashions: I think a blow-out is inevitable.
4. Although, not normally a big fan of All-Star games, I am always a sucker for a lengthy NBA-related story by ESPN’s Bill Simmons. Again, I must encourage all to make sure you have a copy of the Sports Guy’s The Book of Basketball near you favorite homebound commode.
3. Home teams in college hoops did their things last night (although Maryland didn’t get the memo) with a couple “U-Dubs,” Wisconsin and Washington procuring necessary conference home wins. The Huskies of the northwest came up the night’s big winners as they did their damage against the stiffest league competition (Arizona) they will face all year. Otherwise it was a pretty quiet night in the power-conferences, but the rest of the nation was abuzz with important January games.
One of my big sleepers come March, Cleveland State, also held serve at home over Detroit. The Vikings’ heart-and-soul, Norris Cole had an off-night shooting the ball, but still put in work to put up 18 points, 11 assists, 4 rebounds and 4 steals. One of the nation’s few (if only) 20/5/5 guys, Cole is a volume shooter, but not overly 3-point happy and a name that will get much more national shine as we near the springtime.
Around these parts, there has been a lot of talk this week around one of the local teams (Colorado) finally losing their first game in-conference. In actuality, there is still a Centennial State team that has an undefeated league record, the Denver Pioneers. Despite being brutalized by a pre-conference schedule that was….. brutal, the Pios of Joe Scott. No, I mean the Bears of Northern Colorado. Wait. In truth, both of the mid-major teams that have always been overshadowed by the state’s two flag-ship universities, are each off to 6-0 starts in their respective leagues. After rough Novembers/Decembers that had even the most attentive Colorado college basketball fans (ie. ME) turning away, both teams have spurted out to impressive league starts. Northern Colorado (road win last night at Sac. St.) has a nice foothold on the Big Sky as they have already beaten both of the two closest standing teams in Montana and Montana St. On the other hand, DU (home blow-out win last night over Arkansas St.) travels this weekend to the Volunteer state before hosting a big game next Saturday with the reigning Sun Belt champs, the Mean Green of North Texas.
2. A really tough day for the Colorado Avalanche. First, word came down that young forward, Thomas “The Flash” Fleishman was going to be sidelined for the remainder of the season (but shouldn’t be career-threatening) due to blood clots in his lungs. Then, the Avs were sideswiped by the visiting Nashville Predators to the tune of a 5-1 defeat. Our boy, Matty Duchene was the only thing keeping this one from being a shut-out as he netted his 19th of the season in the game’s final minutes.
1. So, a big Sunday in the American sporting calendar, as both teams for the Super Bowl will be determined with the playing of the conference championship games. Much has been made of each game and both are littered with intrigue, history and excitement. The Bears/Packers match-up is obviously the one drenched in history, but it is also so strange that these two divisional rivals haven’t met in the playoffs since, like, the leather-helmet days. Both teams had up-and-down seasons, but to me it breaks down to a simple question of trust.
Who do you trust more, Aaron Rodgers or Jay Cutler? Exactly.
On the AFC side of things, I have to think that Pittsburgh will hold serve and beat the outspoken Jets. Ben Rothlisberger is just not to be trifled with in January. For a guy that is just a few years into his professional career, Big Ben is already the owner of a 9-2 career postseason record. On the other hand, a contemporary of his, Peyton Manning, has a mark of 9-10. I’ll take the Steelers. Have a great weekend!