Saturday, December 15, 2012


Arizona RB Ka'Deem Carey (25) rushed for an amazing 366 yards and five
touchdowns against Colorado on Nov. 10. (Photo by Rick Scuteri/US Presswire) 

Nevada vs. Arizona
RB Stefphon Jefferson (Jr.) – 341 rush, 1703 yards, 22 TDs
RB Ka’Deem Carey (So.) – 275 rush, 1757 yards, 20 TDs
Arizona 40, Nevada 34.
-What a treat to kick off the bowl season! This year’s New Mexico Bowl pits two offenses that are in the top 15 in yardage and the top 20 in scoring. The running back battle will definitely be one to keep an eye on as Nevada’s Stefphon Jefferson and Arizona’s Ka’Deem Carey are two of only five players to run for 1700 yards this season. With both teams coming off of losses in to end the regular season, the opportunity to finish the year on a winning note will be great motivation.

Utah State QB Chuckie Keeton (16) and the Aggies hope to erase last year's
Famous Idaho Potato Bowl defeat. (Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred/Deseret News) 
Toledo vs. (22) Utah State
WR Bernard Reedy (Jr.) – 82 rec, 1051 yards, 6 TDs
QB Chuckie Keeton (So.) – 254/376, 3144 yards, 27 TDs
Utah State 35, Toledo 17.
-At 10-2, Utah State is trying to get a win in this year’s Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, but they may have a good opponent in the Rockets from Toledo. Toledo finished 9-3 and took down Cincinnati for its biggest win of the season, while junior receiver Bernard Reedy put up some solid stats on the offensive end. The Rockets’ defense did wonders this year, but Utah State’s was even better, only allowing 15.4 points per game. Sophomore quarterback Chuckie Keeton followed up on a decent freshman campaign (that was cut short due to injury), by finishing strong with 16 touchdowns to five interceptions down the stretch in the Aggies’ current six-game winning streak.

Stay tuned for capsules and predictions each week as the bowl season progresses!

Monday, December 3, 2012


Hello ladies and gentlemen,

As you might have known, it has been a good while since I have written on here last. And I like to say that I am sorry for the lengthy delay whether you are a causal reader of this blog or an avid one.

Since I have been gone away, I have a new job that sometimes takes away from whatever brainstorming I may have. At the same time, I am still holding on to hope of becoming a professional journalist of some sort or at least a teacher imparting those skills to another person. While we at it, I am still a freelancer with the Shreveport Times and I was named as a co-prep journalist of the year for the second consecutive year for my work during the high school football season.

But let's talk about what's coming on the way.

I have a few new ideas that I hope to roll out in a timely matter such as bowl picks, conference realignment, and anything else (even other topics outside of sports).

Also, I would like to showcase a new project that I am working on with my close friend, should-be brother, and fellow journalist Robert Brown (@UptownBobby on Twitter) in the form of a radio show that is just six episodes in, but is gaining some great steam (you can catch archives of "Gafford and Brown" HERE). I hope that I can use the blog and the show as compliments of each other and I feel like that will happen.

Once again, sorry that I was away, but hopefully we can get the ball back rolling again.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


The ULM Warhawks celebrate their biggest win in school history on Sept. 8 after a 34-31
overtime win over the Arkansas Razorbacks. (Photo by Nelson Chenault /US Presswire)

Down 28-7 midway through the third quarter to the No. 8-ranked Arkansas Razorbacks, many of the Warhawk faithful from the University of Louisiana Monroe thought had seen this story before.

Ladies and gentlemen, these are not your “same ol’ Warhawks.”

After stalling deep into the Razorbacks’ red zone twice before Arkansas made it a three-touchdown deficit, ULM could folded up the tent and prepared for their next opponent, Auburn.

Once again, these are not your “same ol’ Warhawks.”

Even when a penalty at the end of regulation forced ULM to go to overtime, the Warhawks could have succumbed under the pressure and Arkansas could have barely eked out a victory.

For the last time, these are not your “same ol’, sorry ass Warhawks!” (Thanks to my friend for coining the SOSAW term from our time at school together).
Kolton Browning (15) had the game of his life against the Arkansas Razorbacks on Sept. 8
by accounting for four touchdowns and nearly 500 yards. (Photo by Mark Wagner) 

Things all changed when junior quarterback Kolton Browning took it upon himself on fourth-and-one to score on a 16-yard touchdown run.

When the scoreboard at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock, Ark. read “ULM 34, Arkansas 31”, the realization sunk in that the program witnessed its biggest win since jumping to the Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly Division I-A) in 1994.

“It’s a great feeling; we feel like we deserve it,” Browning said. “We believed the whole time, and we’ve believed for two years that we could put something like this together. We knew this moment was coming.”

Now setting itself up with no worse than a 1-2 with a tough early season schedule that had Arkansas, Auburn and an ESPN Friday Night showdown with Baylor in Malone Stadium, one goal remains…

The school’s first-ever bowl appearance.

In four of the last seven years, the program had been agonizingly close to a bowl. In 2005, 2009 and 2010, ULM failed to win the season finale each year to reach that goal.

However, this will not faze Warhawk head coach Todd Berry and his current team from this achievement.

ULM (then Northeast Louisiana University) won the Division I-AA (now FCS)
title in 1987 after defeating Marshall 43-42. (Image from ULM Archives).
“How they get where they are is not because they’re great players,” Berry said. “They get where they are because they work hard. They’re willing to give it up for each other.”

Although ULM has never played in the postseason in college football’s top subdivision, the school has two national championships in the sport—1935 and 1987.

ULM might never make it to that plateau in the FBS, but with some of the team proclaiming after the game, “This is for you. We’re building this for you,” this win could be the start of something special.

Saturday, August 4, 2012


United States gymnast Gabby Douglas showcases her gold medal from the
individual all-around event. (Photo by Robert Deutsch/USA Today Sports)

At the age of 16, Gabby Douglas realized her dream as an Olympic gold medalist by becoming the first black woman ever to win gold in the individual all-round event in women’s gymnastics.

At a time where many teenage girls are thinking about surviving high school, getting into a good college and hoping to avoid being on MTV’s “16 and Pregnant”, Douglas is busy making history and being a role model.

“It is everything I thought it would be; being the Olympic champion, it definitely is an amazing feeling,” Douglas said after her win in the all-arounds. “And I give all the glory to God. It’s kind of a win-win situation. The glory goes up to Him and the blessings fall down on me.”

Just 16 years ago, when Douglas was just a few months old, another young black gymnast was part of a squad that also warmed the hearts of Americans.

Dominique Dawes was the first black gymnast to receive a medal
from an individual event in the Olympics. (Photo from Corbis)
Dominique Dawes played a huge role on the “Magnificent Seven”—the name given to the U.S. gymnastics team from the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta that won a gold medal as a team. Dawes would also win an individual bronze on the floor routine.

It was with that accomplishment that Dawes became the first black gymnast—male or female—to win an individual medal of any kind.

“There are girls who come up to me and say that it is because of me that they are involved in gymnastics,” Dawes said in an article on in 2008. “I hear that a lot and each time, I am flattered.”

Now, Dawes is a co-chairman (along with New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees) for the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition along with working as a co-host for Yahoo! Weekend News and an writer for

Past meets present. The question is...who's next for the future?
But she also felt the emotions of Douglas’ groundbreaking win.

“I am so thrilled for Gabby,” Dawes said in an interview with FOX Sports. “…I’m so thrilled to change my website and take down the fact that I was the only African American with a gold medal.”

With her accomplishments, Douglas joins Dawes and other gymnasts such as Mary Lou Retton and Nadia Comaneci in possibly inspiring a young girl to be the next great gymnast in the future.

“That’s so touching,” Dawes said. “As I was able to help Gabby, now she’s going to help a whole other generation of young girls and boys, African Americans, Hispanics, [and] other minorities to see the sport of gymnastics as an opportunity for them to excel.”

Wednesday, July 25, 2012


After Deron Williams (second left) decided to stay with the Brooklyn
Nets, the Mavs had to go to Plan B. (Photo by Mary Altaffer/AP)

All hope seemed lost for the Dallas Mavericks two weeks ago after losing out on Deron Williams and two key members of the 2011 squad that beat the Miami Heat for the NBA Championship.

However by adding OJ Mayo Monday to a solid gathering of acquisitions, the Mavs have turned a possible disaster to a good offseason in that short span.

The 2011-12 NBA season was a tough one for the Mavericks. They went 36-30, endured drama from Lamar Odom not wanting to be there and got swept in the first round by the eventual Western Conference champion Oklahoma City Thunder.

They let five good players from the 2011 team walk and join other teams, including Tyson Chandler—possibly the best center Dallas has had in the Dirk Nowitzki era.

The goal for the Mavericks was simple: be players in the 2012 free agency period and get Dwight Howard and either Deron Williams or Chris Paul.

The Paul hopes ended with his trade to the Los Angeles Clippers before the season and Howard decided to opt-in with the Orlando Magic at the trade deadline, but Williams remained.

After help delivering the franchise's first title, Jason Kidd (right) and
Jason Terry left Dallas this offseason. Kidd went to the Knicks, Terry
went to the Celtics. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
Well, until this tweet.

That, losing out on Steve Nash to the Los Angeles Lakers and letting their two veteran guards—Jason Terry and Jason Kidd—sign elsewhere, things looked like it would be similar to the previous season, if not worse.

In May, Nowitzki shared his thoughts about a possible rebuild on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM’s “Galloway & Co.”

“If we really come out with nobody this summer then maybe they want to rebuild and, obviously, I’m too old for that,” Nowitzki said. “We’ll just have to wait and see what happens on that front. But I still think I got two, three good years left in me and if we get some players in here we can be right back up there and compete.”

Help came on July 11, when Dallas signed former NBA All-Star Chris Kaman—Nowitzki’s frontcourt mate on the German national basketball team. Later that day, the Mavs received Darren Collison and Dahntay Jones from the Indiana Pacers as a part of a sign-and-trade for Ian Mahinmi.

Former No. 3 pick O.J. Mayo averaged 12.6 points per game last year with the Memphis
Grizzlies coming off of the bench. (Photo by Brad Towsend/Dallas Morning News)
Dallas continued to make moves by amnestying Brendan Haywood, claiming Elton Brand off waivers from the Philadelphia 76ers and signing O.J. Mayo to add a scorer to take some pressure off of Nowitzki.

Mayo’s tweet certainly made Dallas fans enjoyed, as his signing completed the turnaround from disaster by not making the big move to satisfaction by improving the team with solid pieces to add youth and depth.

“We think we’ve positioned ourselves so that we have a young nucleus,” Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said. We can keep these guys, let them jell and play together, build around Dirk and have room for hopefully someone to come or to trade or whatever happens.”

With Dallas signing all three of their rookies—Jared Cunningham, Bernard James and Jae Crowder—and bringing back Delonte West, who became a fan favorite in Dallas with his gritty play, the team certainly has repositioned itself to be a tough out in the Western Conference.
While Jared Cunningham (second right) was held out of Summer
League play due to injury, Jae Crowder and Bernard James showed a glimpse
of the future with good play. (Photo by Stephen Chavera/Dallas Mavericks)

While the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Los Angeles Lakers appear to be favorites in the conference, expect the Mavs to compete division crown with the San Antonio Spurs and the Memphis Grizzlies being the main competition, with the rising New Orleans Hornets and retooled Houston Rockets expecting to also make it tough in the always challenging Southwest.

As for the rest, it all depends on how well this team jells.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012


Miami Heat forward LeBron James (center) celebrates winning his first NBA title after a
4-1 series win over the Oklahoma City Thunder. (Photo by Steve Mitchell/US Presswire)

Finally, the king can take his rightful throne.

LeBron James waited nine seasons to call himself a champion, but those dreams became reality after the Miami Heat’s series-clinching win in Game 5 of the 2012 NBA Finals Thursday.

“It’s about damn time,” a relieved James said after winning Finals MVP honors shortly after the game.

In James’ two previous trips to the NBA Finals, he came away with losses to the San Antonio Spurs in 2007 and the Dallas Mavericks last year.

While facing added scrutiny after losing to the Mavs and how he handled going to Miami, James stated that the setbacks taught him a valuable lesson.

In James' first year in Miami, the Heat overcame struggles to reach the 2011 NBA Finals.
Yet, they lost to the Dallas Mavericks in six games. (Photo by Robert Duyo/MCT)
“It took me to go all the way to the top and then hit rock bottom, basically, to realize what I needed to do as a professional athlete and as a person,” James said. “The best thing that happened to me last year was us losing in the Finals.”

Heading into this year, James worked on his post play with Hall of Fame center and two-time NBA champion Hakeem Olajuwon. The results paid huge dividends.

He averaged 27.1 points, 7.9 rebounds and 6.2 assists en route to his third MVP award and leading the Heat to a 46-20 record.

“He really took being the best player in the league to another level,” Dwyane Wade said. “And he did it all season, man.”

However, LeBron and the Heat still faced their problems in the postseason.

The Indiana Pacers took a 2-1 lead in the Eastern Conference Semifinals thanks to Chris Bosh’s abdominal injury in Game 1 and Wade’s struggles in Game 3.

The Heat would win the next three games to take the series in six.
James won his third NBA MVP during the 2011-12 season, becoming
just the eighth player to do so. (Photo by Wilfredo Lee/AP Photo)

The Boston Celtics jumped out to a 3-2 lead in the Eastern Conference Finals and James’ performance in the clutch was once again placed in the spotlight.

He would put up an absolute gem in Game 6 of 45 points, 15 rebounds and five assists to spark Miami and take the series in seven games.

It was clear that James took over the reigns as the leader of this team with his play. In the postseason, he averaged 30.3 points and 9.7 rebounds per game en route to his first title. The adversity that he faced in each of the last nine years in the NBA and his high school years had finally paid off.

“It was a journey,” James said. “Everything that went along with along with me being a high school prodigy when I was 16 and on the cover of Sports Illustrated to being drafted and having to be the face of a franchise and everything that came along with it. I had to deal with it and I had to learn through it. No one had gone through that journey and I had to learn on my own. I can finally say that I’m a champion.”

With James just reaching his prime at just 27 years old, it is safe to say that he will be in the conversation of winning more titles for quite some time while becoming even better player (scary, right?) than what he already is.

With the first one—and possibly the hardest one—finally out of the way, who knows?

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Miami Heat

SEASON SERIES: series tied 1-1 (home team won both times)
After a 23-59 record in their first year in Oklahoma City, the Thunder’s gradual progression from a lottery team to one of the NBA’s elite took another big step with a 4-2 win over the San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference Finals. Things did not come easily as the Thunder became just the 15th NBA squad to win a best-of-seven while facing an 0-2 hole and going against a Spurs team that won 20 games in a row. A win in these Finals could be the start of a new dynasty in the NBA.
Down 3-2 to the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals, the Miami Heat faced speculation of possible changes if they lost. However, behind LeBron James’ strong performances in Games 6 and 7, Miami won the East for the second year in a row and seek redemption. Things are not out of the woods yet, because those speculations will still loom unless they win here.


PG: Russell Westbrook vs. Mario Chalmers
ADVANTAGE: Russell Westbrook
-Chalmers will have his second tough matchup as he adjusts from Rajon Rondo to a more offensively aggressive point guard in Westbrook. Westbrook is averaging 21.7 points per game this postseason, but his 7.3 assists in the West Finals showcased his abilities to be a combo guard. Chalmers can score when needed though—already notching two 20-point games in the playoffs and his ability to knock down threes—but stopping Westbrook will be a tall task.

SG: Thabo Sefolosha vs. Dwyane Wade
ADVANTAGE: Dwyane Wade
-Sefolosha will have two players to try to stop in this series—LeBron James and his primary opposition in Wade. Wade has this matchup on paper, but has struggled with his shot much recently in the playoffs. In the East Finals, he shot just 44.4 percent from the field—nearly four percentage points off of his career postseason mark of 48.0 percent. Sefolosha kept Kobe Bryant and Tony Parker in check in the last two rounds and if he can force Wade’s struggles to linger, that will put more pressure on James.

SF: Kevin Durant vs. LeBron James
-This is the dream matchup most NBA fans have waited for since the lockout was resolved in November. Two of the NBA’s very best square off for the right to win the first title in what could be many for either player. On one hand, James is on a mission to quiet doubters on whether or not if he can get it done in the game’s biggest moments. None where bigger than in Game 6 when James scored 45 points, grabbed 15 boards and dished five assists to force a Game 7 against the Celtics. On the other hand, the 23-year old Durant is already an accomplished scoring champ—having won the last three titles. His 34 points and 14 rebounds to close out the Spurs in Game 6 was marvelous in getting the Thunder to their first Finals appearance since the move to Oklahoma City. Fans will not be disappointed in this series.

PF: Serge Ibaka vs. Battier/Bosh
ADVANTAGE: Bosh (if he starts), Ibaka (if Battier starts)
-While the status on whether Bosh starts or continues to come off of the bench is uncertain, the Thunder will have Ibaka at the 4 position ready to redirect Miami’s shots. In all but one playoff game, Ibaka has blocked multiple shots, but his offense is also taking notice. In Game 4 against San Antonio, Ibaka was lights out from the field, hitting all 11 of his shots for a 26-point performance. Battier will mostly be in charge of guarding Durant and to shoot spot-up threes, while Bosh could ease back into his starting role or provide a more reliable scoring option from the bench.

C: Kendrick Perkins vs. Udonis Haslem
Kendrick Perkins
-For the last few games, Haslem started at center for the Heat against Kevin Garnett, but the size advantage against Perkins might be a tough one for Haslem. Perkins will continue to provide defense inside the paint, but his 15 points against the Spurs in Game 4 shows that he can chip in offensively when needed. Haslem had his best game in Game 4 against Boston with 12 points and 17 rebounds, despite a loss. Those two will battle for rebounds all series long.

BENCH: Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Miami Heat
ADVANTAGE: Oklahoma City
-With or without Bosh coming off of the bench, the Thunder will have the advantage here with the Sixth Man of Year winner—James Harden—on their side. In the West Finals, Harden was unconscious from long range, hitting 60.9 percent of his 3-pointers en route to averaging 18.5 points per game. Derek Fisher can still knock down big shots and Nick Collision will provide tough defense in the post. Since coming back from an abdominal strain, Bosh is averaging 11.7 points and 7.0 rebounds from the bench. Mike Miller will assist Bosh in bench scoring, but one more of the Heat’s other reserves—James Jones, Joel Anthony or Norris Cole—must step up.

PREDICTION: Thunder in 7

Monday, May 28, 2012


Miami Heat vs. Boston Celtics

SEASON SERIES: Celtics won 3-1
ANALYSIS: The Miami Heat withstood everything that the Indiana Pacers could throw at them, but turned up the pressure in the last three games to win in six. LeBron James and Dwyane Wade were able to take over in the last three games averaging 65.7 points to offset the loss of Chris Bosh. Having Bosh back would certainly help the Heat, but for the meanwhile, James and Wade will need scoring help.

It took a tough seven game series, but the Boston Celtics defeated an up-and-coming Philadelphia 76ers squad who could be special down the road. Making it to its third East Final in five years, this could be the last hurrah for Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce together as teammates, but they are ready for one last run at a title. Avery Bradley’s defense will be missed, but Rajon Rondo will look to get timely steals and incorporate everyone on offense.

PG: Mario Chalmers vs. Rajon Rondo 
ADVANTAGE: Rajon Rondo (Celtics)
-Rondo is continuing his strong play this season in the playoffs, leading all players in playoff steals (32) and assists per game (12.3). His triple-double against the Sixers (18 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists) in Game 7 was his third this postseason and he will look to get everyone involved. Chalmers had his best game in Game 3 against Indiana with 25 points and five assists but Rondo will have the better advantage.

SG: Dwyane Wade vs. Ray Allen 
ADVANTAGE: Dwyane Wade (Heat)
-Both players have had their struggles in the playoffs this year, but Wade is on fire thanks to his recent streak of games. After scoring just five points in Game 3 against Indiana, Wade closed out the last three games with an average of 33.0 points and 7.3 rebounds while shooting 40-for-65 from the field. Allen is battling through injuries and a rough shooting stretch, but he showed that he can still be reliable with two 3-pointers in Game 7 against Philadelphia in the fourth quarter.

SF: LeBron James vs. Paul Pierce 
ADVANTAGE: LeBron James (Heat)
-In what should be the best position battle in this series, James will take an edge here in the showdown of future hall-of-famers. Defensively, both James and Pierce performed well this postseason, but how they stop each other will tell everything. The 2011-12 MVP comes into this series averaging 29.0 points, 8.7 rebounds and 5.9 assists per game, while Pierce is averaging 19.3 points and 6.9 rebounds.

PF: Bosh/Battier vs. Brandon Bass 
ADVANTAGE: Bosh (if he plays), Bass (if Bosh does not play)
-With Bosh’s status still up in the air for this series, it looks as if Battier will start against Bass at power forward until Bosh returns. Bass has shown that he can step up when needed in the playoffs, thanks to his 11.7 points and 5.1 rebounds per game. However, his 27 points and six rebounds sparked Boston in Game 5 against the 76ers. The Heat were able to get by the Pacers without Bosh, but they still missed his post presence. Battier only shot 21.2 percent from the field against Indiana, but he is mostly used for his defense and a needed 3-pointer.

C: Ronny Turiaf vs. Kevin Garnett 
ADVANTAGE: Kevin Garnett (Celtics)
-Sitting at 15-17 at the All-Star break, Doc Rivers made the move to start Garnett at center instead of his normal power forward position. As a result, Garnett and the Celtics finished the season strong and he currently averages 19.2 points and 10.8 rebounds per game this postseason. Turiaf would get the start and Joel Anthony gets more minutes, but I do not think either can slow down KG.

BENCH: Miami Heat vs. Boston Celtics
-Let me preface this by saying that the bench battle in this series may not be pretty, but Miami should have the advantage here especially when Chris Bosh is able to come back and reclaim his starting role. Avery Bradley’s season-ending injury hurts Boston’s bench because there is no scoring punch since Ray Allen starts in place of Bradley. Mickael Pietrus leads the Celtic bench with 3.7 points per game this postseason—a stat that must improve.

PREDICTION: Heat in 6.

Sunday, May 27, 2012


San Antonio Spurs vs. Oklahoma City Thunder

SEASON SERIES: Spurs won 2-1
ANALYSIS: The San Antonio Spurs have rolled right along the 2012 NBA Playoffs with sweeps of the Utah Jazz and the Los Angeles Clippers, all while maintaining an 18-game winning streak since losing to the Los Angeles Lakers on Apr. 11. The Spurs have had solid contributions from their three key players—Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker—while still being able to manage each of their minutes thanks to a deep bench and other role players.

Making it to consecutive West Finals for the first time since 1978-1980, the Oklahoma City Thunder are hoping that last season’s loss to the Dallas Mavericks enables them to grow even more and possibly make the Finals. Oklahoma City only lost one game against the last two teams to put them out of the playoffs en route to this stage. First All-NBA selection Kevin Durant continues to improve his standing as one of the NBA’s elite players, while Russell Westbrook and 2011-12 Sixth Man of the Year James Harden are both great players that make this trio as terrific as they are.

PG: Tony Parker vs. Russell Westbrook
-The fellow 2011-12 All-NBA Second Teamers square off in this round with a contrast in styles. Parker likes to get his teammates involved more, while Westbrook is a bit more aggressive with his offensive game. The key in this one will be how one performs defensively and limits the other. Parker torched Oklahoma City for 42 points and nine assists on Feb. 4, but both players played well in their Mar. 16 tilt—a Spurs win.

SG: Danny Green vs. Thabo Sefolosha
ADVANTAGE: Danny Green (Spurs)
-Although these two may have a small impact in this series, it may be one to hardly ignore. Green did not become a starter until Feb. 8, but he has provided 3-point shooting and good defense for San Antonio since then. Sefolosha’s stats are not that impressive, but what does not make the stat sheet—his perimeter defense—is something that helps out the Thunder.

SF: Kawhi Leonard vs. Kevin Durant
ADVANTAGE: Kevin Durant (Thunder)
-Like Green, Leonard is another good defender that San Antonio has. However, this could be his biggest test in this year’s playoffs as he will likely guard Durant. The runner-up to this year’s MVP award is averaging 26.7 points and 8.1 rebounds this postseason while not scoring less than 22 in that stretch. Leonard does one stat going for him, Durant only averaged 22.7 points against San Antonio this season—more than five points below his regular season average.

PF: Tim Duncan vs. Serge Ibaka
ADVANTAGE: Tim Duncan (Spurs)
-Ibaka has been a great shot blocking machine this season, turning away a league-high 241 shots and recording the 10-block plateau three times this season. But what happens when he plays against a rejuvenated Duncan? Duncan looks as if he has really turned back the clock in the playoffs. With the Spurs’ deep bench, rarely being in a closely contested game and the two sweeps, it is beneficial to Duncan, who only averaged 32.0 minutes this postseason but has his lowest defensive rating since 2003.

C: Boris Diaw vs. Kendrick Perkins
ADVANTAGE: Kendrick Perkins (Thunder)
-Diaw has seen it all this year. He started the season with the Charlotte Bobcats, but he signed with the Spurs two days after being waived from Charlotte on Mar. 21. However, I think Perkins’ championship experience wins out here. Mainly a defensive center, Perkins has come through with 14 blocks of his own and 5.9 rebounds per game this postseason.

BENCH: San Antonio Spurs vs. Oklahoma City Thunder
ADVANTAGE: San Antonio Spurs
-While Manu Ginobili and James Harden are two of the top sixth men in the NBA right now, the Spurs deep bench might be one of the best in the NBA. Ginobili leads the group with 11.3 points per game this postseason, while players like Stephen Jackson and Gary Neal can provide good scoring off of the bench. Oklahoma City does have Harden averaging 17.0 points and 5.0 rebounds in the playoffs. Derek Fisher’s veteran leadership and Nick Collison’s hard-nosed defense will help the Thunder. Whichever team’s bench performs better, it has a good job of winning the game. 

PREDICTION: Spurs in 6.

Thursday, May 17, 2012


San Antonio Spurs vs. Los Angeles Clippers
Spurs won 2-1
Spurs in 5

Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Los Angeles Lakers
Thunder won 2-1.
In a rematch of last year’s Western Conference Finals, the Oklahoma City Thunder wasted no time in making quick work of the defending champion Dallas Mavericks with a sweep. 2011-12 MVP runner-up Kevin Durant was instrumental in the series as he set the tone with his Game 1 game-winner. Durant averaged 26.5 points and 7.5 rebounds against the Lakers, while James Harden’s 29 points in the series finale allowed the Thunder to get revenge from last postseason.

The Los Angeles Lakers battled through a tough seven-game series with the Denver Nuggets, where they were tested by an athletic, tough team. Kobe Bryant was again has normal self, averaging 29.1 points in the series, while Andrew Bynum had a great time staying out of foul trouble. Bynum tied a playoff high with 10 blocks in Game 1 en route to a triple-double. However, the Lakers showed that they missed Metta World Peace and he rewarded them with 15 points and four steals in Game 7.
Thunder in 6.

Sunday, May 13, 2012


Miami Heat vs. Indiana Pacers
SEASON SERIES: Heat won 3-1.
ANALYSIS: The Miami Heat had little to no problem in dispatching the New York Knicks in five games in the first round. 2011-12 NBA Most Valuable Player LeBron James continued his strong season by averaging 27.8 points, 6.2 rebounds and 5.6 assists against the Knicks, while also collecting 11 steals. Not to be outdone, Dwyane Wade had 14 steals and six blocks, while adding 21.0 points per game this postseason.

The Indiana Pacers took the next step in growing after defeating the Dwight Howard-less Orlando Magic in five games. Roy Hibbert was able to take advantage of the Magic’s hole at center by averaging 11.0 points and 10.8 rebounds per game in the series. Most importantly, it was Hibbert’s nine-block performance in Game 1 that set the tone to him having 19 blocks against Orlando. Danny Granger provided the offense that Indiana needed in the series by averaging 21.4 points and 7.0 rebounds per game.
PREDICTION: Heat in 5.

Boston Celtics vs. Philadelphia 76ers
SEASON SERIES: 76ers won 2-1.
ANALYSIS: The Boston Celtics once again made it past the first round for the fifth year in a row after defeating the Atlanta Hawks in six games behind the efforts of their four key players—Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo. Garnett turned back the clock to his Minnesota Timberwolves days by averaging 18.7 points and 10.5 assists per game against the Hawks—including an impressive stat line of 28 points, 14 rebounds and five blocks in Game 6. Rondo may have snapped a 28-game streak of double-digit assists in Game 6, but his 11.8 assists per game this postseason was tops in the first round. However, the most impressive thing was his 17 steals in the series—also the most in the first round.

The Philadelphia 76ers became the fifth No. 8 seed to beat a No. 1 after their six-game series win against the Chicago Bulls—their first since 2003. The Sixers gave up 103 and 92 points in Games 1 and 2, respectively, but went back to their early-season defensive roots and allowed 77.8 points per game in the final four games. Jrue Holiday averaged 18.2 points and 5.2 rebounds to give Philadelphia just enough of a scoring punch against the Bulls and Elton Brand provided the defense with 15 blocks.
PREDICTION: Celtics in 6.

Monday, April 30, 2012


San Antonio Spurs vs. Utah Jazz
SEASON SERIES: Spurs won 3-1
ANALYSIS: The San Antonio Spurs are once again the West’s top seed, but they are vowing not to be on the wrong side of another monumental 1/8 upset like last season. Gregg Popovich continued to manage Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker’s minutes, while giving younger players much valuable playing time. Despite only averaging 32.1 minutes, Parker scored 18.3 points per game and average 7.7 assists.

The Utah Jazz make it back to the playoffs after a one-year absence after making an effective playoff push. Utah finished No. 4 in scoring with 99.7 points per game and part of that is due to their ability to score inside. Al Jefferson scored 19.2 points and had 9.6 rebounds per game this season and Paul Millsap added 16.6 PPG and 8.8 RPG. What could hurt the Jazz is their defense as they allow 99.0 points per game—No. 23 in the NBA. 
PREDICTION: Spurs in 5

Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Dallas Mavericks
SEASON SERIES: Thunder won 3-1
ANALYSIS: The Oklahoma City Thunder might be the No. 2 seed in the West, but they are the arguably the conference’s favorites to make it to the NBA Finals. In two bonafide superstars in Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, the Thunder are one of the more exciting teams in the NBA. Durant won his third straight scoring title with 28.0 points per game and is considered to be in the MVP race.

The Dallas Mavericks looked like a shell of their former selves this season, but as they showed last year that when they get it together, they can win. The defending champions overcame rest, injuries and controversy to sneak into the playoffs as a dangerous No. 7 seed. Dirk Nowitzki put together another good season with 21.6 PPG and 6.8 REB. 
PREDICTION: Mavericks in 6.

Los Angeles Lakers vs. Denver Nuggets
SEASON SERIES: Lakers won 3-1
ANALYSIS: The Los Angeles Lakers started slow of the gate, but bounced back to take the Pacific Division crown over their city rivals, the Clippers. While Kobe Bryant continues to show why he is one of the best players in the NBA, the play of Andrew Bynum—for the most part—has been impressive. Bynum averaged 18.7 points and 11.7 rebounds for the Lakers this year and showed that he can be a good center in the NBA.

The Denver Nuggets are a deep and an explosive team as shown by their ability to score. Denver was tops in scoring average with 104.1 points per game and seven different players averaged at least 10 PPG, including midseason acquisition JaVale McGee. Rookie Kenneth Faried had a great showing in his first year, averaging 11.1 points and 8.3 rebounds after taking the starting power forward position for good on Feb. 19.
PREDICTION: Lakers in 7.

Memphis Grizzlies vs. Los Angeles Clippers
SEASON SERIES: Clippers won 2-1
ANALYSIS: After a strong playoff showing last year, the Memphis Grizzlies are back and better than ever this season by securing the No. 4 seed and homecourt advantage for at least one round in this year’s playoffs. Unable to play in last year’s run, Rudy Gay is back as he led the team with 19.0 points per game. The Grizzlies’ strong inside with Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol will make for a tough out in the playoffs.

The Los Angeles Clippers are back in the playoffs for the first time since 2006 after the best season in franchise history. Having Chris Paul gave the Clippers excitement, hope and leadership. With his 19.8 points and 9.1 assists per game, he made everyone around him better. Blake Griffin was a good beneficiary to Paul joining the Clippers by scoring 20.7 points and having 10.7 rebounds per game along with many thunderous dunks.
PREDICTION: Grizzlies in 7.


Chicago Bulls vs. Philadelphia 76ers
SEASON SERIES: Bulls won 2-1
ANALYSIS: The Chicago Bulls won the Eastern Conference’s No. 1 seed for the second year in a row despite nagging injuries to reigning Most Valuable Player Derrick Rose. Limited to 39 games, Rose only averaged 21.8 points and 7.9 assists per game but never missed a beat thanks to their stifling defense. The Bulls gave up 88.2 points per game and had a defensive rating—points per 100 possessions—of 98.3, both lower than last season.

The Philadelphia 76ers looked as if they would take a huge leap forward after leading the Atlantic Division for most of the year, but they faded all the way down to the No. 8 seed following a 20-9 start to the season. They started so hot thanks to their defense as it allowed 89.4 points per game and 99.2 per 100 possessions—both good for third in the NBA. However, their 15-24 finish was a cause of not having enough offense. Lou Williams led Philadelphia with 14.9 points per game and Andre Iguodala continued to be a good, all-around player.
PREDICTION: Bulls in 5.

Miami Heat vs. New York Knicks
SEASON SERIES: Heat won 3-0
ANALYSIS: The Miami Heat is a team on a mission after losing in the NBA Finals last year. Miami is again the No. 2 seed in the East, but they are still a juggernaut on both sides of the ball. Leading that charge is LeBron James, who could be the favorite to this year’s MVP award. James averaged 27.1 points, 7.9 rebounds, 6.2 assists and 1.9 steals this year as he, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh seek the elusive title that slipped away last year.

The New York Knicks had a crazy season, but then again, what else would you expect from the Big Apple? A coaching change, the rise of an unknown player, two stars still trying to mesh, you name it! But the Knicks have played well as of late—going 18-6 and playing better defense under Mike Woodson. Carmelo Anthony’s 22.6 points and 6.3 rebounds per game is good, but he has turned his game up this April by averaging 29.8 points and 7.3 rebounds per game.  
PREDICTION: Heat in 6.

Indiana Pacers vs. Orlando Magic
SEASON SERIES: Magic won 3-1
ANALYSIS: Since taking over midway during the 2010-11 season, Frank Vogel has coached up the Indiana Pacers to a very good young team with much potential. This season, they jumped all the way up to the No. 3 seed in the East, thanks to a solid core of players who stayed healthy for most of the season. Danny Granger had 18.7 points and 5.0 rebounds per game, while All-Star Roy Hibbert improved his offensive rebounding and swatted away 128 shots.

The Orlando Magic finished with the No. 6 seed in the East, but they had to suffer through a “Dwightmare” to get to it. While Dwight Howard was a bit of a distraction off of the court, he played well on the court. However, he will miss the playoffs due to his back. However, Ryan Anderson will pick up the slack left behind by Howard. Anderson improved his game this season by averaging 16.1 points and 7.7 rebounds per game, while being a great 3-point shooter in the process.
PREDICTION: Pacers in 5.

Boston Celtics vs. Atlanta Hawks
SEASON SERIES: Celtics won 2-1
ANALYSIS: Nearly left for dead at the All-Star break, the Boston Celtics staved off a rebuilding phase at the trading deadline to win their fifth consecutive Atlantic Division title. Boston continues to have the experience in its terrific trio of Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, but it is Rajon Rondo who continues to progress as one of the NBA’s elite point guards. During his current 23-game streak with at least 10 assists, Rondo is averaging 13.8 dimes, 9.8 points and 1.9 steals per game.

The Atlanta Hawks are back yet again in the playoffs and they will have home-court advantage in this series. The Hawks allowed the sixth fewest points this season (93.2 PPG) and will be looking to advance into the second round for the fourth straight year. To do so, Atlanta will look to the complete game of Josh Smith, who averaged 18.8 points, 9.6 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game.
PREDICTION: Celtics in 6.

Thursday, March 15, 2012


It's that time again where everyone takes part in trying to pick that perfect bracket, or to at least beat their friends. It's also time for actually being right on a Cinderella team, so you can say that YOU saw it coming first.

It is the NCAA tournament!

Below is my bracket and I will be giving updates and commentary each day and round of how I did. We can all compare and see if you are doing better than me.

Are you ready for the challenge? Let's go!

UNC Asheville was so close to being the first No. 16 seed to beat
a No. 1 seed Thurs. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Mar. 15 1st Round Games: Everything started out hot with a perfect start through six games. However, that all ended after the Long Beach State 49ers -- a pick of mine to make the Sweet Sixteen -- was bounced by an equally impressive and game New Mexico squad. This started a stretch where I finished even par in the last 10 games of the day, but without my bracket taking too much damage except for the 49ers and UNLV losing before the Sweet Sixteen.

Outside of my bracket, the scare of the day went to No. 1 seed Syracuse during their game against No. 16 seed UNC Asheville. The Bulldogs had the Orange on the ropes at halftime and throughout most of the game, before Syracuse avoided the monumental upset, winning 72-65 despite a few missed calls from the officials.

The most entertaining game, however, belonged to VCU and Wichita State. The Rams led by 12 early in the second half, but the Shockers made it a game and came all the way back. Yet, Bradford Burgess' three gave VCU the lead back with 1:33 left and Garrett Stutz missed a game-tying three as VCU won 62-59. Will they make another run? Time will tell.

Another mid-major that all eyes were glued on was a one-loss Murray State squad and their matchup with Colorado St. The Racers were in trouble at halftime down by a point, but turned up the defense in the second half. The result was 21 Colorado State turnovers and a 58-41 win by Murray St. I see them going to the Elite Eight, but it gets no easier. A showdown with Marquette awaits.
SCORES: 11/16, 110 pts. (Day), 11/16, 110 pts. (Round), 11/16, 110 pts. (Overall)

Kyle O'Quinn (10) jumps for joy after Norfolk St.'s upset
win over Missouri. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Mar. 16 1st Round Games: If you had Norfolk State, Ohio and Lehigh advancing to the second round, then you are better than me and congrats to you. Missouri, Michigan and Duke have each been ranked highly for most of the season, but to see them lose in the Round of 64 is shocking (even if you are a rival of those teams). With those losses standing out, I was 10-for-16 and finished the first round 21-for-32. Gone are five of my predicted Sweet Sixteen picks, but I still have seven of my Elite Eight and all of my Final Four so things will be okay.

On to the aforementioned games and Missouri was stunned by Norfolk State, 86-84. The Spartans stayed with Tigers throughout the whole game by answering everything Missouri gave. After Phil Pressey missed a game-winning three-pointer, we witnessed the fifth-ever 15/2 upset and it was the third time an HBCU --SWAC, MEAC or Tennessee State of the Ohio Valley conference -- did the feat. Kyle O'Quinn had 26 points, 14 rebounds, and one of the best quotes ever that showed the meaning of March Madness. Same for the Spartans' locker room reaction. But Omaha, Neb. was not the only place to see an upset of this magnitude.

In Greensboro, N.C., No. 2 seeded Duke never lost an NCAA Tournament game in that city. Who would have thought that the Lehigh Mountain Hawks of the Patriot League would be the first to beat the Blue Devils? Down 37-32 with 17:24 left in the game, Lehigh refused to give up. C.J. McCollum scored 30 points and dished six assists as the Mountain Hawks took the lead down the stretch and win 75-70. Now, they will take on Xavier Sunday.

C.J. McCollum's 30 points were enough to beat Duke and to give
the Patriot League its third ever tournament win. (Photo by Chuck Burton/AP)
Michigan fans love to call Ohio St. "Ohio", so what happens when they actually play OHIO? Easy, a 65-60 loss. The Bobcats pulled their second NCAA Tournament upset in three years by dominating Michigan and taking advantage of their cold shooting. Ohio shot 51.2 percent from the field and led for the final 28 minutes by as much as 12. Ohio takes on USF Sun.
SCORES: 10/16, 100 pts. (Day), 21/32, 210 pts. (Round), 21/32, 210 pts. (Overall)

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin has become an overnight sensation and just
might be New York's answer at the 1. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

Linsanity has taken over New York and it has NBA fans Linsane in the membrane!

New York Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin has recently become an overnight sensation following a week that saw him win Eastern Conference Player of the Week honors.

“I don’t know what’s going on in New York right now,” Knicks power forward Amar’e Stoudemire said on MSG Network after Lin’s game-winner Feb. 14 against the Toronto Raptors.

What is going on is that Lin has been what the Knicks needed to run the point guard position and it shows during a six-game winning streak that put New York back in the playoff hunt.

Following Lin’s performance off the bench against the New Jersey Nets on Feb. 4—25 points and seven assists—New York Mark D’Antoni decided to give the Harvard alum a shot.

Some (including myself) saw this as a desperate attempt to save D’Antoni’s job because the Knicks tried this in 16 previous games with Iman Shumpert, while waiting for Baron Davis to get healthy.

Lin responded by averaging 27.3 points and 8.3 assists per game and a 51.3 percentage from the field as a starter during the week of Feb. 6 to Feb. 12.

However, his highlight performance came on Feb. 10 against the Lakers when he scored 38 points and dished seven assists and earned the respect of Kobe Bryant.

Lin spent the 2010-11 season with the Golden State
Warriors, but was released by the team after the NBA lockout.
“Players don’t usually come out of nowhere,” Bryant said. “If you can go back and take a look, his skill level was probably there from the beginning. But no one ever noticed.”
Lin’s road to NBA stardom has been tough.

As a senior at Palo Alto High School, he won a state title and averaged 15.1 points, 7.1 assists, 6.2 rebounds, and 5.0 steals. Yet, he chose Harvard because Stanford and UCLA did not guarantee a spot on the team.

After putting up good numbers and leading the Crimson near the NCAA Tournament for first time since 1946, he went undrafted in the 2010 NBA Draft but was invited to the Dallas Mavericks’ mini-camp. However, he chose the Golden State Warriors after they offered him a two-year deal.

“We thought when we offered him the one year guaranteed, we felt like he was ours,” Mavericks general manager Donnie Nelson said. “But, like I said, there’s no place like home.”

Lin saw limited playing time with the Warriors, but with Stephen Curry and Monta Ellis, it would be very little and they released him. Same for the Houston Rockets, who needed the roster space for Samuel Dalembert.

The Knicks even came close to parting ways with Lin before his performance with the Nets according to Marc Stein.

Now the question turns to how does he jell with Stoudmire and Carmelo Anthony?

With Carmelo Anthony (7) coming back into the mix, the Knicks are
hopeful he and Lin can mesh. (Photo by Nathanial S. Butler/NBAE)
 “I know there’s questions about, ‘Can I fit in?’ and stuff like that, but this is like a dream come true to me,” Anthony said. “It takes some pressure off of me. I don’t have to play point guard. I don’t have to try to get Amar’e 20 points, try to get this guy 20 points, me try to go out there and get 25-30 points a night, play defense, rebound do the whole thing.”

Plus it can only help the team get better and help Lin settle in.

However, the most important thing is that there is a buzz again in New York City about the Knicks—which is always good for the NBA’s biggest market and a premier franchise in the league.