Monday, March 28, 2011

BUTLER SURPASSES GONZAGA AS TOP DOG OF ALL MID-MAJORS

Move over Gonzaga, there is a new dog that is best in show—and its name is Butler.


The Butler Bulldogs grinded out a 74-71 overtime victory Saturday in New Orleans to punch their ticket back to the Final Four. Last year, Butler went all the way to the National Championship Game and was a miracle shot away from winning the title.


Gonzaga certainly has made their presence known throughout the years by making it to 13 straight NCAA Tournaments and constantly giving ranked teams from power conferences all it could handle. However, those Bulldogs have never made the Final Four and have made the Elite Eight only once since 1999.


Butler may not have Gonzaga’s longevity, but it has made good use of its five consecutive trips to the tournament.


In 2007, Butler made it to the Sweet 16 after beating Old Dominion and Maryland, before losing to Florida. After that season, then-coach Todd Lickliter decided to take the Iowa job and the school decided to take a shot from within. Butler’s choice was a young, 30-year-old assistant named Brad Stevens.


After not getting past the first weekend of the tournament in 2008 and 2009, Stevens guided his team to the improbable title run in 2010.


This year’s Butler team opened up the season ranked No. 18, but struggled without Gordon Hayward and sat at 14-9 on Feb. 3. However, the Bulldogs stormed back to win its final seven regular season games and the Horizon League tournament en route to an No. 8 seed in this year’s NCAA Tournament.


Strong leadership by senior Matt Howard and junior Shelvin Mack allowed Butler to win close in all four of its tournament games for its return trip to the Final Four and a shot at unfinished business from last year.


Even without a title, Butler’s run this year is even more impressive than last year and it has put itself as the top mid-major program out there, and I believe Stevens is committed to make sure his Bulldogs stay there with his youthful wisdom leading the way.


To be honest, I do not think this program will be going away anytime soon and it will take a lot for the next mid-major to surpass them.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

MODEL INTERVIEW: SANDRA LONDON

Time to do some things new here on this blog, and you would not believe this in a million years. To make the long story short, I am friends with a model on Skype and she messaged me recently. Next thing you know, she wanted to be featured on here. It is still unbelievable to me, but as I got to know her, I realized that she was a very nice and interesting person. So here is my interview with the lovely Sandra London.

The London File
Height: 5'6"
Weight: 112 lbs.
Measurements: 36D-24-36
Location: Southern California
Birthday (Sign): March 24 (Aries)

LG: Hey Sandra, how are you doing?

Sandra London: I'm doing pretty well. Just finishing a bottle of Ménage a Trois, a red wine which blends Zinfandel, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon. It's a 2009 bottle from the Folie a Deux winery in Napa Valley. Discovered a true gem, right up there with "Little Black Dress", an amazing merlot.

LG: When did you start modeling?

Sandra: Umm...non-glamour modeling? About 5 or 6 years old. And I was signed with an agency in Southern California.

I did my first professional nude photo shoot with glamour photographer, John Rettie, in Santa Barbara while I was a college student and about 19 years old. I still shoot with him to this day.

Shortly before that, I shot nude, amateur-style, for my friend, David. We met when I saw him post on Craigslist looking for someone who was willing to play Scrabble that afternoon. After a few weeks or so, he asked me if I would pose nude with marshmallows or chocolate syrup in his apartment.

I said 'nay' to the accoutrements, but 'yay' to posing simply nude...oh, and in 'schoolgirl' regalia. Most guys couldn't have gotten away with asking such a forward question back then, but he was a fun, silly guy and he wasn't trying to push up on me, so I was just plain excited that some white dude wanted to see some sexual chocolate. Naked. In the form of 'me.' ;)

So, I've been modeling for a few years short of a decade, for anyone wondering how long ago 19 was!


LG: You’ve even modeled outside the United States, how are the industries there?

Sandra London: Yes, I modeled in France for lestudio.com. The photographer was amazing and professional. I also did a test shoot for the French version of Maxim called "Max", but am not sure if/when I appeared in the publication. The other model was an established professional model who was absolutely FLAWLESS! I was speechless and suddenly shy and full of doubt, but had fun once I got on the actual set.

LG: Which is better: The U.S. or Europe?

Sandra London: For what, exactly? I visited Europe for the first time at the age of 16 when I flew to Germany for spring break of my senior year in high school. I did a 6 week study program in Paris at the age of 18 as a sophomore in college and did NOT want to come back to the US. I DID, but I changed my major from psych to French and went back at the age of 20, as a senior in undergrad and at 22 as a graduate student. I cannot stay away for too long, although, in recent years, I haven't gone back nearly as much as I "wish" I could have!

However, I have come somewhat full circle in appreciating what America has to offer. I am thankful for what my country has given 'me' and I have to acknowledge that, whereas if you asked me at 18-21 years old, I'd've told you if you book me a flight to Paris right now I will never look back!
As a wiser, more experienced person with even more travel under my belt, I know that 'out there' will always exist and is always a possibility, but that I have within me that delightful collection of memories of my years abroad and can create or re-create my surroundings or current living environment to reflect that which made me happiest about life in the city of lights.

Paris is still my favorite city in the entire world and always will be. But it is American, California, Southern California, and Los Angeles which was first to form and enhance my abilities, personal philosophy on life, and 'Can do!' spirit. Paris accentuated it and made it a bit more refined, but I'm red, white, and blue....

Don't mistake that for being overly patriotic, however! The U.S. is not and will never be perfect. We have plenty of issues which need to be addressed for our own good and for the well-being of our global network!

LG: What is the best place you’ve visited?

Sandra London: My current apartment. Does that count? Then Paris. Then maybe Venice, Italy (for like, top romantic getaway destination). And Dubai for a total mindf***! Hard to name just one place.

LG: Who inspires you in the business and in life?

Sandra London: In adult entertainment? I'm inspired by my co-workers: Mercedes Ashley, Avalon of Strip and Grow Rich, Tina of StripperWeb, Miss Bella Bellini, Daisy Delfina, "Reina", "Sonia", G Cup Bitch, Elizabeth Starr, Lexi Love, Ann Marie Rios...the list goes on!

In life? Anthony Keidis, words cannot really describe why, his essence just 'speaks' to me! Oprah Winfrey, Wendy Williams, Wanda Sykes, Anton LaVey, Mark Twain, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Aphrodite Jones and the inspiration behind the most famous, indispensable book of all time, the Lord Jesus Christ. I'm not kidding! I'm agnostic, but I do believe in Jesus and I do believe in miracles!


LG: What are some of the stuff you’ve written?

Sandra London: I wrote a book at five years old called, "An Apple" and it was even published! I drew the illustrations and had the syntax and grammar down pat, quotation marks, periods and question marks in the right place and all. I am not sure how I knew all that at five, but I most definitely did!
Since then, well, in high school, we were to write a book report on our favorite book so I wrote a 29 page type-written essay on Dostoevsky's "Crime and Punishment" and a 15 page type-written essay on Chinua Achebe's "Things Fall Apart". I just loooved their work. The report was to be 5-10 pages max; I overshared. But my teachers loved it! I should ask them if they kept them!
Nowadays, I write both mainstream and erotica. I'm working on an e-book to make available on my site, perhaps around September. You can view my writing on my blog: http://www.toliveandgrindinla.com

LG: What languages can you translate fluently in?

Sandra London: French. It's always best to translate FROM your non-native language into your native language, so I'm best at translating from French to English. Because I have a high aptitude for language acquisition, I can work out most text written in Romance languages like Italian, Spanish, and Romanian without the aid of a dictionary the majority of the time, although having a dictionary on hand does make things a bit faster to digest.

LG: What are your other interests? (movies, TV shows, etc…)

Sandra London: Some of my favorite movies include The Shining, Shawshank Redemption, Zoolander (really!), Walk Hard, The Dark Knight, Extract, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, I Loved You So Long, Irreversible, and Quills...There are a bunch more...I enjoy comedies, intense dramas, and horror films. I watched the movie "Teeth" with the girl who had teeth in her snatch for Valentine's Day and found it quite romantic! ;)

LG: I see you have a birthday coming up…what was your best birthday present?

Sandra London: Wow! Um, the trip to Dubai? The trip to Argentina? Staying at the Skyloft Suites at MGM in Vegas? I mix up b-day and x-mas gifts, so I'm not 100% sure which is my ultimate favorite. But an unintended b-day gift was recently having my car paid off by the dearest White Knight of all and pretty much every gift he has ever given me in the 7 years I've known him.

LG: Do you have a favorite sport or a team that you follow?

Sandra London: Lakers for LIFE! I watched them more regularly when Eddie Jones was on the team, though...He is soooo damn hot! Pretty eyelashes! Big, brown eyes! I didn't watch much of the game, per se, when he was on...mostly just HIM! Derek Fisher is a workable alternative, though! Yeah, I'm not a sports stats, girl, but I'm always happy when the Lakers win!

LG: How long have you had your blog?

Sandra London: Since Dec 16th, 2010. I'm thisclose to having 10,000 total views and I'd love more subscribers...I've been learning by doing, so it has been my 'pet' since the beginning. And I love my baby!

LG: What blog site would you suggest people to use for a blog (Blogspot, Wordpress, etc…) and why?

Sandra London: WordPress, of course! Sooo many FREE features and an established network. Not to mention a great forum to seek counsel from fellow bloggers!

LG: What can people expect when they go to your blog?

Sandra London: People can expect to see regular updates of mine with new pictures, video clips, feature articles, feature interviews, etc. I am really getting a kick out of interviewing my fellow "adult" friends and just people I admire in general.

LG: Are there any ideas you’re working on for your blog’s most loyal viewers?

Sandra London: Umm...maybe an embedded cam feed that can be made private and only viewable by subscribers. In the works, but will not be available for at least another month.

LG: Is there anything else you’d like to add to this interview?

Sandra London: Well, I have the naughtiest clips which are self-shot and/or self-directed on my Clips4Sale site: http://www.clips4sale.com/store/42459and more are being added to my newest video site: http://www.skinvideo.com/model/imsandralondon but I'm working on having those clips and any new ones available for immediate purchase directly through my site: http://www.toliveandgrindinla.com . My newest adult payment processor, Zombaio, will allow fans to purchase with their credit or debit card, be it MasterCard, Visa, AmEx, etc...So watch my site...it's coming veddy, veddy soon!

If you want to learn more about Sandra and read the rest of this interview, please visit her blog at http://www.toliveandgrindinla.com and follow her on Twitter at @ImSandraLondon.


Monday, March 21, 2011

IT'S TIME FOR A FORMULA TO DETERMINE THE 68-TEAM FIELD

Houston, we have a problem.

It always seems that the NCAA Tournament has some teams seeded either too high or low, while a team is snubbed in favor for another that may not deserve to be in the field of 68.

To fix this, there needs to be a formula based off of three major components—the polls, RPI, and strength of schedule—to easily determine who are the 37 at-large teams that did not win their conference tournament and to seed the whole field.

Teams like Utah State, who continue to do well every season, always get penalized from seeds that they deserve because of their conference affiliation.

The Aggies won 30 games and the WAC tournament for the second time in three years, but were given a No. 12 seed despite an RPI of 15 and strength of schedule rank of 120, according to RealTimeRPI.com.

Also, the selection committee’s surprising decision to take UAB over other bubble teams such as Colorado or Virginia Tech was made worse when the Blazers lost their first round game to Clemson on Tuesday, 70-52.

Having a formula that emphasizes both human polls, the RPI, and strength of schedule would be much like what the Bowl Championship Series is to college football, but it would ensure that the top teams are seeded properly.

As far as bubble teams are concerned, the final eight at-large teams should be the ones in the First Four for the right to be in the 64-team bracket, or to go to the NIT if they lose. That way, it awards low-rated automatic qualifiers by not having to play an extra game in the tournament, while improving the quality of the four first round games.

Hopefully, this will make everyone’s job a lot easier in making and filling out their brackets.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

JIM TRESSEL'S TWO GAME SUSPENSION IS NOT ENOUGH

With Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel's recent suspension, the NCAA rules committee continues to prove that they are a joke.


Tuesday, the NCAA handed Tressel a two-game suspension for failing to notify the university that some of his players committed violations.


However, what good is this two-game suspension if Ohio State is only playing two tune-up games against Akron and Toledo?


If the NCAA really wanted to punish Tressel for his infractions, it should have suspended him for at least the same amount of games that Terrelle Pryor and four other Buckeyes were suspended for.


In December, the NCAA handed a five-game suspension to those five players for selling school memorabilia in exchange for tattoos.


However, the NCAA got it wrong in suspending them for the first five games this season instead of the Sugar Bowl against Arkansas, a 31-26 win for Ohio State.


Suspending Tressel for Ohio State's first two conference games—Michigan State and Nebraska—would also serve as much stiffer punishment.


This has already happened in college basketball where Bruce Pearl and Jim Calhoun received suspensions for only conference games for violating rules.


Lastly, the NCAA could also have taken away scholarships and placing the school on probation for its second violation in three months.


Either of these would have been more severe than what is basically a slap on the wrist, but it is a shame that the NCAA cowered in making sure that this would not happen again.


In the meanwhile at least the NCAA acted swiftly as did, although looking further into the situation would have suited this better.



Well, look at the bright side Jim. At least your sweater vests

are still A-1.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

CAN SMALL-MARKET NBA TEAMS KEEP THEIR SUPERSTARS HAPPY?

On July 8, 2010, the landscape of the NBA changed with this sentence.


"In this fall, I'm going to take my talents to South Beach and join the Miami Heat."


This is what LeBron James famously said during "The Decision" and the result is that more potential free agents are predetermining their moves before their contracts run out and it comes at the expense of the small market teams that have those players.


Carmelo Anthony spent all summer and half of the NBA season trying to force a trade to the New York Knicks and the trade finally went down between them and the Denver Nuggets on Feb. 21. Two days later, the New Jersey Nets redeemed themselves after losing in the Carmelo sweepstakes by acquiring Deron Williams from the Utah Jazz.


The message is now clearer than ever from the players' standpoint. "Build a good team around me, or I will play with other superstars somewhere else."


The Cleveland Cavaliers and Toronto Raptors found out the hard way with James and Chris Bosh, respectively. Neither team could lure big free agents or swing trades for better pieces and good sidekicks to compliment them.


The result is that there are now two franchises that will take YEARS to shake off the effects, and no other team is willing to go down this road again without compensation.


Rather than losing their star players with nothing in return, Denver and Utah decided to pull the plug and act now, saving themselves months of headaches and speculation.


Some teams, however, may not be as lucky.


Chris Paul wanted to be traded this season, but stayed put as the New Orleans Hornets continued to handle their financial woes.


The NBA took control of the Hornets this season after former owner George Shinn failed to sell the franchise.


New Orleans might be forced to live with the fact that the face of its franchise might walk out in 2012, and there could be far worse effects than what Cleveland is suffering this year.


While the team struggles to find a local buyer and to lock up David West to a long-term deal, not signing and making Paul could be a crippling blow to basketball in the city of New Orleans, to the point that the Hornets could move.


While the city hopes that does not happen, there are some small market teams that are successful in keeping their high-profile stars.


The San Antonio Spurs have shown great stability in keeping Tim Duncan and building around him. The result is a team that has won at least 50 games in a full schedule every year during his tenure.


The Oklahoma City Thunder are getting the big picture as well. They signed Kevin Durant to a five-year deal this past offseason as he and Russell Westbrook are growing as MVP candidates. With Durant, Westbrook, and Serge Ibaka, the Thunder are continuing to grow into one of the elite NBA teams.


In the meanwhile, most small-market teams will continue to suffer this fate as they struggle to keep their star players happy. However, they have gotten wiser to try to at least get decent parts back in order to cushion the blow and move on quickly.


LeBron James' "Decision" has left the Cleveland Cavaliers with more
losses this year in the past two years combined.




Mirroring what Miami's Big Three assembled, New York hopes to return to glory with
Carmelo Anthony (left), Amar'e Stoudemire, and Chauncey Billups.


Now the question is: Will Chris Paul (left) follow Carmelo, Amar'e, and LeBron in leaving his team?