About roomiller

I don't even write seriously, I just fuck around

What’s Really Wrong With Villanova

I don’t think this claim will shock anyone, but Nova basketball its pretty bad this year. As in end our 7 year streak of tournament appearances bad. Some outspoken people have asked for Jay Wright to be fired, saying he has never developed as an X’s and O’s couch and now his recruiting is slacking. Others have said that we’re not as skilled because of our lack of seniors. I have a different theory.

Basketball is, first and foremost, a team sport. Though some people(Kobe) may frequently forget that fact, winning basketball games is about much more then having one singular star. Or as Miami and Kentucky learned last year, its also more important then having multiple stars with a couple of scrubs around them. Basketball teams are most effective when they are built on quality players from the top to the bottom. You have your stars in the lineup, but then you also have solid bench guys who are skilled enough to get the starters some rest. That is where Villanova has been struggling.

The frightening part however is not our lack of depth in general, but where it comes from. In the recruiting process, Jay Wright might not be Coach Cal, whose shady yet effective recruitment techniques have led to almost as many star players as it has vacated wins(42 by the way), but he is certainly capable of signing top ranked recruits. Our team’s shortcomings lie in a much more discomforting place: player retention. Since my freshman year(2008), we have lost Malcolm grant(transferred before I got here), Cassiem Drummond(transferred that year), Taylor King(may have been kicked out), and Isaiah Armwood(transferred last year). Thats four players(possibly three) in for years who fell in love with Villanova and its basketball program while in high school, only to come to the realization once they got here that they would rather sit out a season to play anywhere but here. Even if you exclude Taylor King, thats still a troubling amount of players who were unhappy being role-players under Jay Wright’s system.

Malcolm Grant is probably the biggest loss of all those players, but each had an impact on our team. Grant went on to become a skilled guard and leader for Miami, a player we certainly would have loved to have last year as we collapsed down the stretch, but his decision to leave after the ’07-’08 season left Jay with a single available roster spot for the next season, one which he did not expect to have. Entering the recruiting game late, the best player Jay had a chance of signing was Maurice Sutton, the lowest rated recruit Villanova has had in years. The others were all serviceable role players who left seeking more playing time elsewhere, deciding they would rather be a star on a lackluster team then play minor minutes here on a tournament team. We have two walk-ons on our team this year due to the loss

This may not seem that worrisome, but you don’t see players transferring from the Duke’s, UNC’s, and Kentucky’s at such a high clip. Players are happy just to wear those jersey’s on the court and be part of the storied franchise. Bench players at those schools relish their 5-10 minutes of playing time a game knowing that they have a chance to make a deep run come March Madness. Our bench players don’t have those same feelings. They’d rather get out while they can and finish their college years playing in obscurity at Marist, Concordia, or George Washington. That is much more frightening then any lack of offensive plays or second half scoring.

 

Hoop It Up: Revamping All-Star Weekend

Lebron:"I'll take Melo" Wade: "But you two play the same position...ohh"

There are some things I just won’t ever understand. Spanish. That inexplicable extra syllable in the middle of Wednesday. The reason they don’t just take those flying eagles to Mordor in the beginning of LOTR. And why every All-Star weekend is boring. How can collecting the most talented people in each sport and pitting them against one another suck so badly? Its baffling. The Probowl is a half-speed game with blitzing explicitly banned. The NHL attempted to inject some excitement by installing a draft before the game but its flopped. The MLS has its best players play a renowned foreign club, but they look terrible on the pitch because they’ve never played together. The MLB tried to spice things up by making the game mean something, but well…its still baseball. And somehow, despite all of this, the NBA all-star game still manages to be the worst of the bunch.

The NBA’s all star weekend has such potential, but every event manages to fail miserably and its capped off with a meaningless game that makes Melo’s regular season defense seem astounding. The players know they are out there to put on a show, which they most certainly do. But those of us who actually like basketball outside of Sports Center’s top 10 plays are left with a weekend devoid of real games. I’ve sat around for a while trying to figure out how to fix the game, but aside from unfair(and most likely cap-rules violating) monetary compensation for the winning team I can’t figure out how to motivate the players enough to make the game exciting. That’s when I decided that David Stern just needs to scrap the game all-together and replace it with something entirely new, an 8-team 3v3 tournament.

All-star voting would remain the same, however the total number of all stars would be reduced by two(one from each conference) which isn’t such a bad thing with each conference getting 12 all-stars. Next there would be a fantasy draft, with the top 8 vote getters becoming the team captains regardless of position. The one stipulation of the draft being that the captains aren’t allowed to select their regular season teammates, solving the main problem of the NHL’s all-star draft. Once the draft ends, the teams would then be seeded 1 though 8 based on its players cumulative all-star votes(which are unknown to the captains at the time of drafting). After that they play good-old schoolyard basketball to 21 points, 1’s and 2’s, on a nice wide open court with the winner getting bragging rights and some form of charity prize (think homerun derby, where each team get a family they are playing for, and those families sit courtside). As for motivation on the defensive end, they would play winner’s ball(the team that scores get the ball back), so any team not willing to try on defense wouldn’t get to touch the ball offensively.

I don’t see how this idea doesn’t work. I toyed around with a 1v1 tournament but realized it would take way too long and would completely exclude point guards(too short) and centers(lacking ball skills). This format however replicates probably the most commonly played style of basketball around the country and can make for some really exciting moments. Who doesn’t want to watch Kevin Durant on a podium trying to figure out if Deron Williams might fall to the next round or if he should take a point guard now? Or see Lebron backing down Dwight Howard before dishing the ball to Kobe who throws an alley-oop to Derek Rose. I dream about things like this. The game would be fast paced, wide open, always up in the air, and most importantly a refreshing break from the regular season grind. David Stern, please do this. Now.

And be sure to check back for when Jake, Jalbs, and I break down the fantasy drafts and matchups for this year’s all-stars.

You’ve All Gone Linsane

Remember this guy?

Its true. Don’t try to deny it. Every single one of you has gone Linsane. Love for the Knick’s point guard has been sweeping nation ever since he put up 25-5-7 against the Nets seemingly out of nowhere. He’s started the four games since, leading his team on a 5 game win streak that may have turned their season around. Lin’s rise to becoming a starter has been the one bright spot this season for the struggling Knicks. His play has even spawned a movement of impassioned fans who think he’s the NBA’s next Asian superstar. All of which is totally acceptable in the Twitter world of sports fandom where people fall in and out of love with players with amazing speed(Who was that Spanish point guard for the Timberwolves again?). What’s not acceptable, however is things such as this, “‘Melo has to change the way he plays”(NYTIMES) about ‘Melo’s return. That’s Linsanity, it’s plain old insanity.

We’re not talking about a run of the mill forward here, this is Carmelo Anthony, the guy the Knicks completely gutted their team for last season. He’s arguably the best pure scorer in the league and suddenly he’s the one who needs to change his game. In his 9 year NBA career ‘Melo has never averaged under 20 ppg; Lin last averaged double digit minutes played when he played in the D-league and was cut twice prior to the season. What exactly am I missing here? Where in those 5 games did an undrafted point guard with 4 career starts become this team’s best player?

I’m not trying to say Lin is a bad player. He can run the pick and roll well and should definitely start for a Knicks team that is completely devoid of point guards with the Baron Davis injury. But as of writing(using stats from his starts), he ranks fourth in the league in usage percentage(an estimation of a teams possessions a player uses while on the court) at 32.8% and attempts 19.5 field goals per games. Those are practically Kobe numbers. He’s also averaging the highest turnover rate in the league at 5.5 per game, almost a full point higher than the second place player Russell Westbrook. If you still aren’t convinced, then take a look at Lin’s numbers from last season. He played 29 games for the Warriors, averaging 9.8 minutes per game and 2.8 points per game. Clearly not super star numbers.

Of course, Lin fits much better into the D’Antoni system and can run the pick and roll almost as well as anyone, but once ‘Melo returns he’s going to need to defer the ball much more than he has, and even moreso once Amar’e comes back. If he keeps playing well, look for him to finish the season with 12ppg and 4.5 apg. He’s a good player and who hopefully has a great future, but let’s be serious, it’s absurd to claim that a 5x All-Star needs to cater to a 4x game starter.

P.S. Jeremy Lin, if you somehow find this, keep up the good work. You’re on my fantasy team.

 

The Most Hypocritical Man in Sports?

So this has been something that’s been bothering me for a really long time, and now I actually have an outlet to vent. I don’t think there is someone more insufferable in sports then Tony Dungy. I cannot stand how he sits on his “I’m very religious” high horse and dictates what other people should and should not do through the national media. I despise Rex Ryan, but it was completely uncalled for for Saint Dungy to say he has a problem with his cursing. The guy is a grown man, he can curse as much as he wants. And I really don’t understand why curse words have a negative connotation. Yet I digress. The thing that really grinds my gears about him is how hypocritical people allow him to be simply because he is a church going man. He spoke out against gay marriage(which I think is the dumbest argument ever) which he thinks is wrong because it’s not the lord’s way. But then he’s also bff’s with Michael Vick who used to torture dogs for fun, pit them against each other in fights to the death, and execute them by hanging them. Somehow in his eyes that’s more forgivable than being gay. He’s just so ignorant that I can’t take him seriously. And neither should you.

P.S. Leviticus also condones owning slaves so uhh….yeah. Stupid.

 

 

 

Baseball’s Lost Generation (Of Fans)

For a baseball fan, watching a game is not just about the players on the field. It’s a culmination of all of their baseball memories wrapped into one indescribable event. Its about buying your first glove, going to your first big league game, impersonating your favorite players in Little League. It’s so much more than a game. Every fan has their “Field of Dreams” that they’ve developed throughout their life of their favorite player. Watching games now, its difficult not to long for the past player who used to dominate the field. It’s this “Field of Dreams” mentality that keeps people so attached to the game as they grow older.

Our generation, however, does not have that same sentimentality towards the players of our youth. The steroid era ruined that for us. It’s not that I’ve forgotten Manny Ramirez’s amazing ability at the plate or the amazing 116 win Mariner’s team. I still vividly remember the home run race between Mark McGwire and (the still black) Sammy Sosa. I remember the awe I felt watching these incredible athletes play; how I admired them and desired to one day be them. The only problem is, I can no longer look back on these memories fondly. The majority of the players I grew up admiring will not even get a chance to make it to the Hall of Fame. Their names will be half-heartedly placed on the ballot where they will sit, neglected, until their opportunity passes and they are mercifully removed. The Mitchell Report has placed an asterisk on my childhood.

I listen to people discuss the greatness of Mickey Mantle, the dominating performances of Nolan Ryan, and other hall of fame players and I can’t help but be saddened because I’ll never have the same joy reminiscing about the HOF players of my childhood. The only player we really have left is Ken Griffey Jr.  Of course, he’s obviously a hell of a player to cling too, with his near 1,000 home run pace(derailed by injuries) and undeniable cool in center field. Yet I still can’t shake the feeling that my belief in Ken Griffey’s career is akin to an 11-year old’s belief in Santa Claus. We’re both smart enough to deduce the truth about the situation, but believing is far too valuable for us to admit it. My other memories may be tarnished, but I can still find joy in the way I used to rob imaginary homeruns with my hat on backwards just like 24 used to. I may not have known much about the game back then, but I still knew I was watching someone with once-in-a-lifetime natural talent. Or at least I can still pretend it was natural.

Growing up during our era at one point in time seemed incredible. We were naive enough to believe that the record breaking performances we were witnessing almost daily were clean, and as a fan, it was amazing. But it did not take long for the steroid bubble to burst and everything we had witnessed to become almost meaningless. The sentimental aspect of the game was ruined for us. We’ll never have the chance to look back at the game with reverence. We were chased away from the game we loved when our memories were invalidated forever.  Every baseball fan wants their field of dreams, mine’s just with juice-heads instead of real ball players.

P.S. Fantastic Blog. Bill Simmons, I’m not opposed to writing for Grantland

So Yankee fans are a bunch of douchebags

Click the picture for proof.
Surprise double blog in ya face.

I don’t think theres a group of fans that tries harder to look like they care about their team than Yankee fans. Everything they do is contrived; none of their actions as fans come naturally. The whole stadium would go crazy for fairly routine catches because one fan would hear the guy next to them clapping, and in an attempt to show that they’re a better fan they would start cheering, and then the clapping guy would stand up, and this one-upsmanship would continue until the entire stadium was celebrating boring plays with Joba-like exuberance. Fans weren’t quite sure why they were yelling at Red Sox fans, but knew that they had to to prove how dedicated they were to their team.

My favorite fan of the night was not the douche wearing the women’s jersey to show off his muscles. It wasn’t the girl in high heels wearing what must have been a baby sized tshirt. It wasn’t the fans in the corporate seats behind home plate who stayed just long enough to brag about going to the Yankees-Sox game in the office. And no, it wasn’t the fans sitting behind me who started a “Carl Crawford Sucks” chant while yelling just loudly enough for our section to hear them, but certainly didn’t carry to the field. My absolute favorite Yankee fan of the night was the guy a few rows behind me who spent the first 30 seconds of “God Bless America” screaming “HATS OFF, TAKE YOUR FUCKING HATS OFF”, and then got into an argument with a Red Sox fan who was still wearing his hat. He berated that Sox fan and definitely taught him to “show a little fucking respect” by creating a tizzy in our section and distracting everyone within earshot with his excessive cursing. What a fucking moron. I’m all for showing respect, I take my hat off when I’m wearing one, but still its not the national anthem bro, its just another song about America. Do people need to take their hats off Born in the USA and American Girl, too? What a fucking moron.

Addendum 1: I was also thoroughly not impressed with the fabled Yankee’s bleacher seats. I’ve heard so much about these seats in the past, people made it sound like it was where foolish Red Sox fans went to die. I thought I was gonna get maced and tazed and stabbed for even thinking about rooting for the Redsox back there. Turns out they were about as dangerous as a little kitten. Your standard Phillies fan completely outclasses Yankee fans when it comes to being classless. Now I mean I wasn’t being a raucous fan trying to make a scene, because lets be honest, mid season baseball games are almost as meaningless as women’s sports. But still, beyond the fucking dickhead I mentioned before and a couple weak “asshole” chants they didn’t say shit.

Well that was a waste of Billion Dollars

Last night I took my third trip over to the new Yankee stadium and I think I’m one of the few people whose been there who hasn’t left in amazement. The new revolution of multi-billion dollar stadiums in big markets is upon, and I’m not sure its a good thing. By all accounts, Jerry Jones handled it properly as I haven’t heard anything bad about it since scoreboard-gate. The man knows how to spend huge amounts of money to build good stadiums(the same can’t be said about his ability to build a football team). Cowboy stadium is massive, expensive, awe-inspiring, and apparently a great place to watch a game. Besides expensive, Yankee stadium is none of these.

The entire experience of the new stadium is something that feels quite contrived. It strives to be modern and innovative while simultaneously attempting to manufacture a historical feel; the resultant effect being a stadium with an identity crisis. There is no part of the stadium that portrays this better then the stadium’s “foyer”, so to speak. It’s a massive concrete room that greets you with massive hanging pictures of all-time Yankee greats, which are flanked by the gaudy Hard Rock Cafe and the stadium’s beyond expensive steakhouse.

Center field is the same way. Apparently unsatisfied with their old batter’s eye(bleachers painted black), the Yankee’s turned their new one into an exclusive uppity bar with black windows overlooking the new memorial park. This seems like a fine idea, however the sports bar juts out in between two sections of bleacher seats, completely obstructing the view of anyone sitting close to it. Have no fear, those  people can just watch the TV’s put on interfering walls. Thats why people pay to go to the stadium, right?

Yet somewhat amazingly, the stadium, with its four levels of seating glory, manages to seat less people than the old stadium. During one of my trips to the stadium I had seats on the highest deck(with a face value of almost $50) that seemed designed to take you out of the game. A holding the home plate netting ran straight across my view of the infield as I sat seemingly miles above the playing field. It was a chore to stay focused on an amazing Jon Lester performance until I snuck down onto the second level.

And then there is the monster screen in the centerfield. a technological marvel that is absolutely amazing to witness in person. Unfortunately, along with the bleacher TV’s, this seems like another part of the design where the designers forgot you are there to watch a live game. The behemoth scoreboard accomplishes nothing that a smaller more reasonably sized screen could, while also drawing your attention to it constantly. Last night I was sitting in the outfield with the screen to my back and it was still distracting.

To me, Yankee stadium stands as a perfect example of what not do while designing a new stadium. Turning the stadium itself into the spectacle, while detracting from the game people came to see. Shrinking the stadium size in an attempt to create a more intimate atmosphere, but somehow managing to alienate fans. If you want to spend over a billion dollars on a super stadium, then go ultra modern and design something that looks like it travelled back in time. Don’t try to create a nostalgia inducing experiencing while sticking a scoreboard thats bigger than my house in center field. Well at least they didn’t sell the naming rights.

Suck on that, Grantland.