Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Wednesday 12/26 A.M. Quickie:
Bynum, Blazers, Clemens, LeFevour, LDT!

Today's Names to Know: Andrew Bynum, Kobe Bryant, Blazers, Kevin Durant, Motor City Bowl, Dan LeFevour, LaDainian Tomlinson, SEC hoops, Miami Northwestern H.S. and More!

NBA on Christmas Day: Lakers beat Suns. The Suns-Lakers game, the day's headliner, was supposed to be a team showcase of a popular favorite to win the NBA title (Phoenix) and an individual showcase of a popular favorite to win the NBA's scoring title (Kobe).

Instead, Andrew Bynum stole the show. Bynum had a career-high 28 (with 12 rebounds and 4 assists), tag-teaming with Kobe to lead the suddenly feisty Lakers past the Suns.

But the Lakers' success isn't because of Kobe: It's because of the emergence of Bynum, who has gone from trading chip a year ago to one of the league's Top 10 most untradeable players. Not bad for a player who snuck in under the wire of the league's irrational draft-age rule. Yeah, skipping college SURE seems to have hurt Bynum's development.

Roger Clemens Defense Tour ramps up: Clemens lawyer Rusty Hardin said he has started his own investigation into the claims about Clemens made in the Mitchell Report. Somehow I think "Rusty Hardin Report" won't have the same resonance.

Maybe the attorney, surely knowing that Clemens was going to be fingered by Brian McNamee, should have executed a damage-control strategy of pre-emption, rather than post-emption.

Meanwhile, Hardin revealed that Clemens will make himself available to a wider range of media than just 60 Minutes after he appears on the show on the night of January 6.

(Preview of Clemens' interview with Mike Wallace: "No. No. No. Deny it. No. No. No." There: Saved you an hour.)

More NBA on Christmas Day: In the nightcap, the Blazers won their 11th straight in what was supposed to be a clever showcase of Greg Oden vs. Kevin Durant. Oden didn't play (which hasn't stopped the Blazers from being the surprise team of the season) and Durant had 23 points, 3 above his rookie-leading scoring average.

Cavs beat Heat: This wasn't surprising. On the other hand, neither of these teams is going to win the East this season. (As one commenter pointed out: Did LeBron plan on 12 assists and 25 points on 12/25? Nice call!)

College Bowl Mania: Motor City Bowl! Purdue vs. Central Michigan. Ahh: A 3-5 team in the Big Ten vs. the MAC Champ. Actually, if you avoid the snobbery, it should be a pretty exciting match-up between two teams who run the spread offense and a sophomore QB who might just give Tim Tebow a run for his money as the best dual-threat QB in the country.

Player to Watch: Dan LeFevour, the Central Michigan sophomore QB who became only the second QB ever to throw for 3,000 yards and rush for 1,000 yards in the same season. (The other to do it? Vince Young.) Say what you want about Tim Tebow's "20/20" season (and I have), but LeFevour was "23/17," which ain't bad. And even Tebow didn't hit the "3000/1000" mark.

MNF Remainders: It will be another NFL rushing title for LaDainian Tomlinson. If the Chargers beat the Raiders (heh: "if"), they will win the AFC's No. 3 seed, which isn't a bad spot: They get to host the Wild Card game against either Cleveland or Tennessee.

JaMarcus Russell to start in Week 17: Well, why shouldn't he? It's a meaningless game for Oakland, and Russell is the presumptive starter for 2008; the more "live" reps he can get now, the better.

CBB: Kentucky schadenfreude. Just back from a quick trip to SEC country, and wow, there's a lot of schadenfreude about Kentucky and Billy Gillispie, who might not make it past this year if Kentucky can't get over its weak early start and show signs of potential.

UK fans shouldn't count on super-frosh Patrick Patterson, who is already the best player in the SEC, but likely a one-and-done player en route to the NBA. Enjoy the NIT experience, kid! As for Gillispie, you have to wonder if Kentucky could pry John Calipari away from Memphis if Coach Cal can win a national title this season with one-and-done Derrick Rose.

(Sure, things ain't fantastic for Florida basketball either, but compared to the mess Kentucky, things look fantastic.)

Meanwhile, Ole Miss looks like one of those "unbeaten-through-December" teams that produces a regular season to remember, followed by a high seeding in the NCAA Tournament, followed by a first-weekend flame-out. But hats off to Mississippi on a sizzling start.)

High School Football: Miami's Northwestern claims the mythical national championship given out by USA Today. Their season included a signature win, nationally televised, over Texas' Southlake Carroll on ESPN. It also included an offseason scandal that threatened to see the season cancelled before it even started.

-- D.S.


critical fanatic said...

Things aren't fantastic for Florida basketball?

You just won two straight national titles. Ahh, the short, short memory of sports fans. It's great.

marcomarco said...

knowing that Clemens was going to be fingered by Brian McNamee

(insert 'shot in the buttocks' joke here)

Rob said...

Rusty Hardin is known around Houston as the guy you hire when you're guilty but have the cash to get away with it. His presence just adds credibility to the Mitchell Report.

Melbye said...

Don't get a chance to really comment on here during the day as it's blocked at school now.

Hopefully you all have had a great holiday season, including the Festivus events.

Chris said...

Regarding the NBA age rule and Bynum: I should point out that the rule was not enacted to protect the Lebron's, Garnett's, etc., but to protect players who have no business going to the NBA straight out of high school and the franchises who may select some of these unprepared players.

Also, don't his struggles last season actually counter your point? You essentially are saying that Bynum did not need a year of seasoning before being NBA-ready. His numbers last year beg to differ.