Friday, March 11, 2011

03/11 Quickie: Live from Austin, TX

Somehow, I both traveled to Austin for SXSW and kept Quickish stacked with tons of great recommendations today, including tons of college hoops and the aftermath of the Heat-Lakers game. Then, this afternoon has been all about covering the NFL labor story in real-time(-ish).

Much more to come on Quickish all weekend, and I highly recommend what should be spectacular, must-see coverage for Selection Sunday and its immediate aftermath. Please check it out, please tell friends and please pop by all weekend for great tips.

The only difference is that I'm chilling in 75 degrees and sunny, rather than 38 degrees and rainy.

I've never been to Austin before today, and I already love it -- even with a bit too much SXSW mania.

More soon.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

03/10 Quickie: College Hoops, Tressel, More

Joined in on the annual Tournament Challenge group? Do it here (or just search for group name "Quickish" -- formerly "Daily Quickie Readers"). Jump in!

Last night I had one of the great sports experiences of my life: I joined a court-rushing of students celebrating their small-conference team earning an NCAA Tournament bid.

I was actually on an assignment for New York Mag, going to the Long Island-Robert Morris game to decide the Northeast Conference tournament title, from downtown Brooklyn, and my angle was clear, at least if LIU won: Attempt to give people an idea of what it feels like to be part of those amazing court-rushing scenes you see throughout Championship Week.

In the end, I wrote a bit about it but I took a "cinema-verite" video of me being caught up in the wave of students rushing the floor, and I think that did more to describe it than any writing could. Maybe I'll take another whack another time. (Here's a link to the video.)

Anyway, it was really really really cool. I've never been involved in a basketball court-storming, let alone one for a Big Dance invite. What a vibe.


Jim Tressel, Cont'd: I am impressed by the in-state media calling out Tressel for his obfuscation and -- as one columnist was blunt enough to put it -- lies. I actually think that the coach and the school actually thought they would get through this relatively easily; they still might, because you can never underestimate the NCAA's ability to not punish its schools. As discussed yesterday, the lasting impact is really that Tressel's carefully manicured reputation has been indelibly marked with scandal.


So much college hoops today. I find the Big East quarterfinals -- with all 8 teams NCAA Tournament locks -- to be underwhelming, if only because there are no real stakes. (In the NY Mag piece, I call it "March Innocuous.") I prefer the desperate stench of the Bubble teams that MUST win today.


Much more throughout the day. Please give Quickish a read -- and be sure to fire up Quickish during and after the bracket reveal for Selection Sunday and all week next week. Can't imagine a bigger moment for Quickish this year.

-- D.S.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

03/09 Quickie: Tressel, Heat, CBB

On Jim Tressel, let's start with this: His explanation last night strained all boundaries of credibility, to the point where I -- and many others -- simply don't believe his story.

It is a Fundamental Truth in the Quickie canon that it is always the cover-up and never the crime. And that's where we are here: Tressel's failure to come forward -- to his school in April, to the NCAA in December, to anyone ever (save for being forced to in January).

His self-styled senatorial bearing simply reminded me of yet another shady pol: Smooth talking, but saying absolutely nothing.

Perhaps it is the way that Tressel portrays himself that makes his hypocrisy more nagging than other coaches who are who we (and they) think they are.

Anyway: Two games' suspension feels like a joke. Not when his players got 5.

Here is my suggestion (although it will never really be considered): Tressel should be banned for the entire 2011 season. If the school wants to keep him for 2012 and beyond, fine.

But given that Tressel's entire 2010 season will possibly/probably be wiped off the books completely, it feels appropriate that he give up the season before he has the chance to defile it.

One thing is for sure: For someone who obviously cares desperately about his reputation and his legacy, Tressel has seen both stained with "first-paragraph-of-obituary" conduct.


The Heat lose again (again): When just two of the Big Three play well, the team is ordinary. Chris Bosh is griping. What all of them have yet to figure out -- and Erik Spoelstra is obviously not the coach to help them with that -- is that if they are going to fundamentally alter the concept of a team, they need to be willing to fundamentally alter their concept of how they play.

I always thought that would take at least a full season -- maybe two. That's why I had zero expectation they would have any shot at a title this season or next. But this far into Year 1, none of them have yet to show any willingness to change in this fundamental way, aside from D-Wade begrudgingly giving up the late-game shots to LeBron, which feels more forced than by design.

Here's the upshot: The question isn't whether or not the Heat will win a title this season; it's the level of humiliation they receive when they are bounced from the playoffs. They brought it on themselves, and while they might yet work it out -- years from now, mind you -- perhaps it re-establishes the value of a championship team being more than its stars or top-level talent.


College Hoops: Congrats to Arkansas-Little Rock (its first-ever NCAA bid!), Oakland and a little school called Butler.

Auto-Bids Today: Robert Morris at Long Island, which is about a 15-minute walk from my apartment. Wonder if they'll give me a credential to cover it for Quickish?

The Big East Tournament is loaded: UConn-G'town, Rutgers-St. John's, upstart South Florida-Cincinnati and Marquette (which could use one more win)-West Virginia. (And that's with the top 4 teams in the league still sitting out until tomorrow with a bye.)


MLB: Zack Greinke hurt himself playing pickup hoops. How can players think that it's a good idea, once spring training starts?


NFL Draft: Cam Newton's "pro day" workout yesterday was much better than his combine workout, as expected. He's already considered a Top 10 (if not Top 5) lock, and I would still bet that 6 weeks from now, he ends up as the No. 1 overall pick to the Panthers.

Be sure to join the Quickish NCAA Tournament Challenge group!

Thanks for popping by Quickish today -- and telling friends!

-- D.S.

Monday, March 07, 2011

03/07 Quickie: Ohio St, Hoops, Heat

Don't forget to sign up for the "Quickish" group of the Tournament Challenge.

Heat reaction: There was a flurry of opinion about the Heat yesterday -- mostly about the "crying" thing -- but I found clarity in the simple reality that none of this matters until the 2nd round of the playoffs in May.

And even then, the Heat not winning a title this year will merely illuminate the reality that no one really expected them to win it this year, did they?

I did like Dan LeBatard's reaction (and I'm usually not a big DLB fan) that among fairly equal teams, players who know their roles (as with the Bulls) might/can trump players who don't (yet or ever, as with the Heat).

(As for Heat coach Eric Spoelstra blaming the media for "crygate," the coach is both a dope and out of his depth. He's the guy who said it -- and he was an idiot for saying it.)

Ohio State scandal-ish: It's a simple question, really -- "What did Jim Tressel know and when did he know it?" I trust the Yahoo reporting, but there is no more secure coach in college football than Tressel. He won't lose his job -- I laugh at the thought (and cringe that Urban Meyer would be the logical choice to replace him) -- but he will lose a smidgen of the reputation he has worked so hard to cultivate.

College hoops: Congrats to Old Dominion (an early-round upset special), Saint Peter's, Wofford and Gonzaga.

Today's automatic bids on the line: Arkansas-Little Rock vs. North Texas (Sun Belt), Butler vs. Milwaukee (Horizon), Oral Roberts vs. Oakland (Horizon).

Plus! Princeton at Penn. If Princeton loses, Harvard wins the Ivy League's automatic bid. If Princeton wins, Harvard and Princeton play a one-game playoff for the title on Saturday.

Big East Tournament starts today: The first round is headlined by UConn and Villanova, both NCAA locks regardless of whether they win or lose today. Marquette, which plays, Providence, would be in a bit more trouble if it lost; if Marquette wins, it solidifies their place.

That the Big East has 15 percent of the NCAA field gives it star power, but does it have any real consequence if it doesn't matter whether a team wins or loses? Pride, yes. But if your eye is on a national title, then it feels more like an opportunity to get injured or gassed.

Wes Leonard, remembered: Fennville HS won its first state playoff game since Wes Leonard collapsed on the court and died at the end of the regular season. It seemed like an epically sad event, but the players and Fennville fans seemed to think it was the most appropriate way to celebrate Leonard's life. Cannot imagine how tough it was for those players.

Book Club: "Extra 2%," by Jonah Keri, which is like "Moneyball 2.0" and revolves around the way the Rays reinvented themselves behind a team of Wall Street smart-guys. Keri is a friend, and the book is terrific. You will see it around the Web a lot today and this week.

Give Quickish a look-in or two (or more) today -- and, if you have a chance, tell some friends about it.

-- D.S.

03/07 Quickie: Heat, College Hoops, More

Be sure to sign up for the "Quickish" (ne' "Daily Quickie Readers") group of the NCAA Tournament Challenge. It's so easy: Just go here.


"The Miami Heat are exactly what everyone wanted, losing games. The world is better now because the Heat are losing."

That's Dwyane Wade after yesterday's Heat loss to the Bulls in Miami, which saw yet another stumble against an equally good (or better) opponent, featuring poor final-play execution.

As a student of schadenfreude, I can say that Wade is right: Many (even most) fans are reveling in the Heat's inability to beat good teams.

For now, that will have to do. But it's not even close to the limit: The only real schadenfreude will come when the Heat get bounced from the playoffs -- they will, it's just a question of when, how and by whom.

But it almost doesn't matter. For most fans, as long as the Heat lose, we're all good.

I created a Quickish discussion about this topic on Facebook. Drop on by and contribute what you think. We'll see where the conversation leads.


College Hoops: VCU is ready to burst someone's Bubble. By knocking off George Mason -- a tournament lock -- yesterday and Old Dominion (another tournament lock) tonight, VCU will "bid-steal" from one of those ultra-marginal Bubble teams that, frankly, doesn't really deserve it anyway.

Meanwhile: Holy s--t. Ohio State just had the most prolific offensive performance in college basketball in... well, in a long time. And from 3, where they were 14/15? Ever. (Ever!)

I absolutely buy Ohio State to the Final Four, but I'm not (yet) ready to buy them winning 6 straight -- and a championship.

How much of that is because I hate Ohio State? Probably more than it should be. How much of that is because I'm generally a Tournament contrarian? Probably more than it should be. How much of that is because I'm so wary after Kansas last year? Probably more than it should be.

The common link: All are TERRIBLE reasons not to pick Ohio State to win it all.

And then there is this inverse:

Let's say that my No. 1 preference is to correctly pick the champion. But what if my No. 2 preference is to see Ohio State lose before winning a title? Then the natural thing to do would be to pick Ohio State to go all the way, triggering the reverse-jinx. Then again, I'm concerned that my BYU jinx from last Monday used up ALL my jinx powers.

Last NCAA ticket notes: Congrats to Indiana State. (Sorry, Missouri State. Cant' say you didn't have your chance, when you're left on the wrong side of the Bubble as an at-large team.)


Chris Paul's concussion: Apparently, it looked worse than it turned out to be, thankfully.


We're headed into a phenomenal week -- mostly of college hoops. It all leads up to Selection Sunday next weekend, then the blitz of NCAA Tournament obsession for the following 3 weeks.

Quickish wants to be there every step of the way with you, and we need your help in a couple of huge ways:

(1) Please visit the site. I really do think you'll like it. (And if you don't, I'd love to hear why.) If it's not in your routine yet, what can I do to help get it there? But let's assume that you already know about it and visit at least nominally. There's something even more you can do...

(2) Please tell friends. Word-of-mouth recommendations are great. Facebook updates are great. Twitter mentions are great. I just created a "Share" function for every single post on the site; it's an easy way to pass around Quickish tips.

(3) Please "tip" the site. If you see something that seems awesome and should be recommended to other fans, please tip the site at tips-[at]-quickish-[dot]-com. I'll credit you in the "Tipped By" area. If you don't want to tip the site, absolutely no worries.

Huge thanks. More than thanks. I'm grateful for your support on this (and obviously totally comfortable asking for your help). Hoping for a huge month ahead.

Enjoy the day. Tons of great recommendations and updates coming to Quickish throughout the day and evening.

-- D.S.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

03/06 (Sunday) Quickie

It's that time of year again: Join our 8-years-and-counting Tournament Challenge group. Here's the link (or just search for group name "Quickish." It was a nice run, "Daily Quickie Readers.")

We are into full-on NCAA Tournament mode, with the end to college hoops' regular season for the big conferences and the heart of the small-league tournaments. A few notes:

*UNC beats Duke: I think this probably marks the high point of how overrated UNC is (and how down folks will be on Duke). UNC has no shooters and Duke is badly missing Brian Zoubek, who in hindsight was the MVP of their NCAA Tournament run a year ago.

*Congrats to UNC-Asheville which went into Coastal Carolina and beat the Big South's No. 1 seed to earn the league's NCAA bid.

*Belmont needs a friendly seeding and a decent match-up, but they are looking interesting as a first-round upset pick a week from tonight. (Selection Sunday is a week from tonight.)

*If my "BYU is going to win it all!" from last Monday was the biggest Quickie Jinx of all time, my preseason prediction that Michigan State would win the national title has to be close behind. Yikes. Sorry, Spartans fans.

*I know Pitt is good. I see their resume and find it so impressive. And yet I just can't pick them to win 4 straight in the NCAA Tournament. Maybe this is an example of me over-thinking or being held back by old biases where Pitt has choked on the bracket before.

(Staying in the Big East, I feel the same way about Notre Dame, which had a HUGE win at UConn -- at the end without star Ben Hansborough -- but I just can't see them winning 4 straight.)

*I was nudging toward picking Purdue as a team that could make a run to the Elite Eight... right up until they lost to Iowa. It's going to be hard to forget that one.

(I know, I know: You'd think after a few days with folks who are stats-oriented, I would know better than to use tiny sample sizes and know better than to give in to confirmation bias.)

*Here's how I feel about the teams on the Bubble like Michigan or Clemson or (not really anymore) Virginia Tech or Georgia -- I'm not picking any of them to survive the first round, anyway. (Although if they are in the "First Four" round, as the teams on the very edge of the Bubble will be, I may be picking them to win THAT game -- but, still, probably not -- before losing when the field is cut from 68 to 64.)

Today: Bulls-Heat, which -- given the Heat's struggles against the Magic and Spurs this week -- feels like a must-see for NBA fans.

If the NBA is going to play games overseas, you can do a lot worse than triple-overtime. (You can do much better than Nets and Raptors, however.)

Big milestone: Danica Patrick became the first woman driver to have a Top 5 finish in a Nationwide racing event and her 4th-place finish was the highest-ever for a woman driver in a national race event.

I'm going to try to do a post about the Sloan Sports Analytics Conference for next week, but suffice to say it was a terrific event put on by the MIT MBA students, full of terrific conversations and the chance to see some old friends -- and meet tons of new people (and tons of people I had previously only known through Twitter or reputation).

Enjoy your Sunday!

-- D.S.