A down day to be sure, as there was “bad news” for each of our currently active professional sports teams. The obvious on-court losses aside, our beloved purveyors of pigskin might have been the biggest losers when this guy decided he was too good for the NFL. The ripple effect will not be kind. No choice, but to go…
5. A short 2-game road-trip for the Denver Nuggets got off to a bad start with a disheartening loss on Wednesday night to the LA Clippers. Matters worsened considerably last night, as the Nuggets outdid even the previous night’s anemic performance with an abysmal 122-102 loss at the hands of the Sacramento Kings. So how does one team break 100, shoot over 50% from the floor and still get punked by 20 by an inexperienced team battling for the prime spot in the league’s basement?
Defensive issues ultimately undid the visiting Nugs, as they really couldn’t corral one member of the Kings’ roster. Tyreke Evans looked like the player of last year and DeMarcus Cousins, Omri Casspi and Carl Landry shot a combined 17-29 from the field. While it would be easy to say that with Kenyon Martin forced to sit out the second leg of a back-to-back, the Nuggets interior defense is sure to suffer, Head Coach George Karl was using that excuse. “I’m really kind of blown away by our performance. Sometimes I think we need to think about playing harder.”
Two straight nights of coaching criticism didn’t keep the team’s star, Carmelo Anthony (26 points), from piling on after last night’s debacle.
“Tonight was an embarrassing loss; that’s all I have to say about that.”
4. Back in Denver, we saw a tough loss for another Denver team, as the Avalanche’s recent scoring difficulties reared their ugly heads again, in a 2-0 home loss to the Phoenix Coyotes. The visitors put home an empty netter with just seconds remaining, but the final few minutes were a fruitless, but frantic jailbreak at the ‘Yotes’ goalmouth. A Saturday matinee with Islanders is up next. Chris Stewart, we need you.
3. Last night was a pretty quiet one in the college hoops ranks. No real shockers to report and the one individual game of note was the Cincinnati Derby between the Bearcats of UC and their cross-town rivals from Xavier. Losers of the last three in the series, the still undefeated ‘Cats were not to be denied, grabbing an early lead and cruising to an easy 20-point win. Cincy native Yancy Gates “beasted out” for his best game of the season; a performance that I expect more of, as I think Gates has a chance to be one of the Big East’s best frontcourt players. Like a certain Brazilian center that plays pro ball in Denver, though, consistency has been the issue.
**Check back this weekend, as I will be in Boulder tomorrow covering the CU Buffs’ Big 12 opener with the Tigers from Missouri.**
For several of you, this will be the first introduction to San Diego State’s sophomore forward, Kawhi Leonard. The 6-7 225-pound power forward (which he won’t be at the next level) has been one of the main reasons for the undefeated Aztecs’ claim as the “best in the west.” Extremely active in both the open floor and the half-court, Leonard is a slasher that likes to get inside the paint and is still working on his perimeter jump-shooting (easily the most curable weakness once you become a pro-JUST ASK MJ). The Riverside-native has always had an uncanny “nose for the ball” whether it’s bouncing on the floor or caroming off the rim. A 10 board/night guy since he stepped on campus, Leonard is tenacious and at the same time intelligent. Again, his catch-and-shoot needs some improving and his consistency from the college 3-point line has been a concern in recent games. To his credit, though, the 19-year-old is a capable playmaker and at times can become a bit too unselfish.
More than any year before this, I look forward to how the Mountain West will compete in the NCAA tourney. Specifically, it will be interesting to see how Leonard matches up as the Aztecs make a Final Four push. While currently ready to be drafted (mid-late first-round) and compete at the next level, I strongly would encourage Leonard to stay one more year to continue to work on his “small forward skills.”
2. Despite my years of teaching and the personal importance I put on education (and my above advice to Kawhi), I must be the devil’s advocate in Andrew Luck’s decision to return to Stanford. For someone that is the “put it in the bank” #1 pick this year, I think it is a bad choice and one that he might eventually regret, along the lines of Matt Leinart and Jake Locker (who each lost guaranteed MILLIONS by returning for another year). Jim Rome has long used an analogy that I will poach right now.
IF YOU HAVE THE WINNING LOTTERY TICKET, YOU DON’T HOLD ONTO IT, YOU CASH IT!
I hope that he stays healthy, doesn’t lose any momentum and becomes the #1 pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, but consider this. What is the ultimate goal and reasoning for going to college to get your degree? I think the answer is to put yourself in the best position to get the best possible job upon leaving. This company known as the Carolina Panthers have publicly displayed their desires to sign him to a $50 million guaranteed contract.
Is the potential vocational situation going to be better next year?
1. The Daily Broncos’ Looksie wants to cry about not only my previous feelings about Mr. Luck’s decision, but how that might affect the Broncos ability to get the best defensive player. Clemson’s De’Quon Bowers, who will likely now become the Panthers means in replacing Julius Peppers, is now being considered the draft’s top prize. Damn, I even had the Mrs. watching Bowers’ highlight tape the other night and even she was impressed. So do they move on to Auburn’s Nick Fairley or maybe move down and stockpile picks? I think they need to get an impact player at the top of the board. Bowers was the prize, but there are others (see previous DBL introductions) available that are worth the loot it will take to sign them.