Monday’s Den: Wrapping up a sports weekend……..

13) 76ers 125, Knicks 109:
— Joel Embiid was 23-27 from the foul line. Just him. 23 for 27.
— Philly was 39-44 on foul line, Knicks 22-35.
— James Harden had 29 points, 16 assists, 10 rebounds

12) In Harden’s first two games with the 76ers, he is 8-14 on 3-pointers; in 275 games with the 76ers, Ben Simmons was 5-34 on the arc. Embiid has to be happier than hell with this trade. 

11) Random NBA stat; San Antonio Spurs are 8-3 ATS if they played the night before.

10) There is a kid that plays basketball for Long Beach State named Aboubacar Traore; on January 27, he had 23 rebounds in a game against Cal-Riverside. Big deal you say, but I say, 

Aboubacar Traore is only 6-foot-5; you know how hard it is for anyone to get 23 rebounds in a D-I game, much less a guy who is 6-5?

Outstanding effort can make an ordinary player good, a good player great; rebounding is a lot about positioning and effort, but mostly effort.

Long Beach won 12 of its last 14 games, will be a tough out in the Big West tourney. 

9) Illinois 93, Michigan 85:
— Illinois shot 10-17 on arc, only 15-25 on foul line.
— Michigan is 15-12, very much a bubble team, probably the wrong side of it. 

8) Memphis 81, Wichita State 57:
— Wichita State is 4-9 in AAC this year after they ended last season with consecutive one-point losses in AAC and NCAA tourneys.
— Shockers went 157-41 in conference games in Gregg Marshall’s last 11 years as their coach, but he got fired for non-basketball reasons. You wonder how many people in Wichita are regretting that decision now. 

7) Princeton 74, Harvard 73:
— Tigers lead the Ivy League by a game over Yale.
— Harvard will miss the 4-team Ivy tournament for the first time.

6) Iona 67, Rider 61:
— Rick Pitino’s Gaels lead MAAC by four games, but they’re still going to have to win the MAAC tournament to get into March Madness.
— Iona starts four seniors, has #31 eFG% defense, and a Hall of Fame coach. 

5) Pelicans 123, Lakers 95:
— Lakers are 27-33; they gave up 44 points in 3rd quarter of this game.
— This would be the Lakers’ 7th losing season in nine years, even with an NBA title two years ago. The fans aren’t happy. 

4) Toronto Maple Leafs won a hockey game 10-7 Saturday night; this was first time in 11 years that there were 17+ goals scored in an NHL game. Leafs led 7-2 at one point, then it was 7-6, but Toronto pulled away in the third period. 

3) QB Paxton Lynch was Denver’s first pick in the 2016 NFL Draft; he started four games over two seasons for Denver, was released and has bounced around pro football since. Last year, he was the 3rd string QB for Saskatchewan Roughriders in the CFL.

In April, Lynch will be playing for the Michigan Panthers in the USFL; will be interesting to see if he can revive a once-promising career by playing spring football. 

2) Tampa Bay Bucs’ guard Ali Marpet retired this weekend at age 28, after seven years in the NFL. This is a guy who played D-III college ball at Hobart, then made himself into a Pro Bowl lineman. Buccaneers are going to miss him. 

1) If you have HBO Max, I’ll recommend an old TV show to watch; Without a Trace was a show about a FBI Missing Persons Squad that found missing people by applying using psychological profiling to get clues. Show was on for seven years; Anthony LaPaglia was great as Jack Malone, the star of the show. If you’re looking for a program to binge-watch, this is a good one. 

Sunday’s Den: Wrapping up a Saturday full of upsets…….

13) Bad day to be in the top 10:
— #1 Gonzaga lost 67-57 at Saint Mary’s.
— #2 Arizona lost 79-63 at Colorado
— #3 Auburn lost 67-62 at Tennessee
— #4 Purdue lost 68-65 at Michigan State
— #5 Kansas lost 80-70 at Baylor
— #6 Kentucky lost 75-73 at Arkansas.
— #9 Texas Tech lost 69-66 at TCU

All seven losses were on road, but still, an unusual day. 

12) SEC:
— Arkansas 75, Kentucky 73— Hogs won 13 of their last 14 games.
— Tennessee 67, Auburn 62— Auburn led by 11 early in second half.
— Auburn leads Kentucky-Tennessee-Arkansas by a game each. 

11) Big X
— Four of five games Saturday were decided by 4 or less points.
— Baylor 80, Kansas 70— Bears shot 56.8% inside arc.
— TCU 69, Texas Tech 66— Tech led by 11 early in second half.
— Texas 82, West Virginia 81— WVU is 1-13 since January 15.
— Kansas leads Baylor by a game, Texas Tech by two games. 

10) Big East
— Providence 72, Creighton 51— Friars will be #1-seed in Big East tourney.
— Seton Hall 82, Xavier 66— Xavier lost six of its last seven games.
— Looks like a six-bid league; Xavier appears to be falling off the bubble. 

9) Pac-12:
— Colorado 79, Arizona 63— Cruddy day to be a top 10 team.
— USC 70, Oregon 69— Trojans won last three games, by 2-1-3 points.
— Arizona leads USC by two games, UCLA by three. 

8) WCC:
— Saint Mary’s 67, Gonzaga 57— Zags’ first loss since December 4th.
— San Francisco 78, San Diego 62— Does Gonzaga’s loss hurt USF’s NCAA hopes?
— Gonzaga still leads Saint Mary’s by two games; is BYU sliding off the bubble? 

7) Upsets of the Day:
— South Florida (+13) 56, Cincinnati 54
— Saint Mary’s (+11) 67, Gonzaga 57
— Colorado (+10.5) 79, Arizona 63
— LaSalle (+9) 62, Dayton 60
— SIU-Edwardsville (+9) 77, Morehead State 70
— Florida State (+7.5) 64, Virginia 63
— Western Michigan (+6.5) 78, Bowling Green 67
— South Dakota (+6) 92, Oral Roberts 87

6) Ohio Valley:
— Murray State 70, SE Missouri State 68— Racers trailed by 12 with 6:14 left.
— SIU-Edwardsville 77, Morehead State 70— Eagles lost four of last six games.
— Murray State finishes 18-0 in OVC regular season; they’re a bubble team if they lose in OVC tournament. No pressure. 

5)  Missouri Valley:
— Northern Iowa 102, Loyola 96, OT— Panthers went 3-2 in OT games since January 11.
— Drake 62, Southern Illinois 60— These teams meet in conference tourney Friday.
— Northern Iowa wins regular season title; Arch Madness should be fun. 

4) Mountain West:
— Boise State 86, UNLV 76— Boise shot 59% from floor, had 13 offensive boards.
— Colorado State 66, Utah State 55— Rams won seven of last eight games.
— Boise leads Wyoming by a game, Colorado State/Aztecs by two games. 

3) Horizon:
— Fort Wayne 81, Detroit 78— Mastodons won nine in row, after an 11-10 start.
— Oakland 65, Cleveland State 57— Vikings went 3-4 in their last seven games.
— Fort Wayne, Cleveland State are tied for first; this tournament will be good. 

2)  Summit:
— South Dakota 92, Oral Roberts 87—Eagles lost last two games, by 5-4 points.
— South Dakota State 86, UMKC 75— Jackrabbits went 18-0 in Summit League.
— Looks like South Dakota State needs to win conference tourney to make NCAAs.

1) ACC:
— Florida State 64, Virginia 63— Only second win in last ten games for FSU.
— Duke 97, Syracuse 72— Duke scored 1.59 points/possession, extremely high.
— Wake Forest 99, Louisville 77— Cardinals lost 12 of their last 14 games.
— Duke leads Notre Dame by a game, North Carolina by two games. 

Saturday’s Den: Clearing out a cluttered mind…….

13) If you like NBA basketball, I highly recommend going to the NBA Summer League, which this year will be July 7-17 in Las Vegas. Lot of reasons why:

— It is always good to be in Las Vegas
— For $30 or so, you can watch great basketball for 7-8 eight hours straight.
— July in Las Vegas and you’re in air conditioning all day. Good concession stands, too.
— Famous people are all over the place; few years ago, I’m walking to the concession stand and Jerry West is in a group of people walking the other way. Talked to Walt Frazier once, met Stan Kroenke, owner of the Nuggets/Rams. 

Lot of active NBA players are there; just a good place to watch competitive basketball.

Every kid who has goals of playing pro ball should watch the summer league on TV for a while, then go outside and work on his game, because you have to be freakin’ great to make it to the NBA. 

12) Atlanta Braves turned a profit of $104M last year, and that was with attendance limitations early in the season. Kind of hard for the baseball owners to cry poor when it comes out that a team is making a nine-figure profit. 

11) Minimum salaries in the four major sports:
— NBA $925,258
— NHL $750,000
— NFL $660,000
— MLB $570,500

Baseball owners need to jack that figure up to $700,000 or $750,000. 

10) Odd Stat of the Day: In the Super Bowl era (56 years) only one NFL QB has started 50+ games, without ever throwing a pick-6.

Don’t bother guessing; you would never, ever get it. He is still active; I’ll put the answer down lower in this space. 

9) Last year, only four pitchers threw 200+ innings; in 2019, there were 14, the year before that, 13, so will be curious to see this year how many guys log 200+ IP.

8) Wisconsin Badgers have won their last 13 games that were decided by 6 or less points, the longest-such streak in the last 35 years, when the 3-point arc was put in. 

7) Princeton 74, Harvard 67:
— There were only three fouls called in first half of this game.
— Princeton made 14-30 on arc; they’re tied with Yale for first place in ivy. 

6) Iona 72, Canisius 65:
— Rick Pitino’s Gaels are 15-2 in the MAAC. 

5) Texas State 66, Troy 61:
— Bobcats won nine in row, are top seed in the Sun Belt tourney next week.
— Caleb Asberry was 6-6 behind the arc, scored 26 points for 21-6 Texas State. 

4) Richmond 68, Saint Louis 66:
— These teams are tied for fifth in A-14.
— Looks like A-14 is a one-big league; their conference tournament should be fun. 

3) Spurs 157, Wizards 153, 2OT:
— Imagine scoring 153 points and losing?
— Keldon Johnson was +16 in 46:00, which means in the 12:00 he sat out, San Antonio was outscored by 12 points. 

2) Kansas City Chiefs named former Bears’ coach Matt Nagy their new QB coach, which is a good gig, coaching Patrick Mahomes.

Mitch Trubisky is the only NFL QB in the last 56 years that has started 50+ games, without ever throwing a pick-6.

1) Tampa Bay Buccaneers will play a home game in Germany next fall, as the NFL tries once again to squeeze more money out of their schedule. 9:30 Sunday morning kickoffs aren’t a lot of fun. Imaging being in Las Vegas? 6:30am kickoffs are even worse.

Friday’s Den: Random stuff with the weekend here…….

13) Conference tournaments start next week in the mid-majors; this will be the first time in three years we have a normal March Madness.

Should be an interesting three weeks coming up, one of my favorite times of the year. No dominant team; the #1 team is a mid-major (Gonzaga), Arizona is experience team #356 and Auburn is a football school with a great player (Jabari Smith)- they have two losses in OT, a third loss by one point. If you put “Kentucky” on their uniforms, they’d probably be the favorite. 

12) Oregon 68, UCLA 63:
— Bruins star Johnny Juzang got hurt again, played only 11:00.
— UCLA split its last eight games.
— Oregon wins on Nike founder Phil Knight’s 85th birthday

11) USC 94, Oregon State 91, 2OT:
— Beavers are the best 3-23 team in the history of the world.
— Davis scored 31 for Oregon State, only 2nd time this year he scored 20+ points.
— Beavers were only 12-22 on the foul line.
— USC point guard Ellis sat this game out (ankle)

10) Murray State 76, Belmont 43:
— Two best teams in OVC; Belmont was 5-25 on arc, 2-4 on line.
— Murray sweeps season series by 22-33 points, but meeting #3 will probably be in OVC tourney and that’ll be the one that decides who goes to the NCAA Tournament (Murray could still get in with a loss)

9) South Dakota State 106, Oral Roberts 102 OT:
— Same situation here; two of three best teams in Summit League.
— Oral Roberts led by 13 in first half.
— Luke Appel scored 41 points; looks like he came off the bench. 

8) There are rumors that Troy Aikman is bolting FOX for ESPN’s Monday Night Football, which would be interesting.
— Would Joe Buck go to ESPN with Aikman?
— If so, would Buck get a gig on Sunday Night Baseball?
— Who will replace Aikman on FOX? 

7) Back in 1983, this was Virginia’s coaching staff; lot of good coaches.
— Head coach Terry Holland won 418 games
— Jeff Jones has 532 wins (and counting)
— Dave Odom won 406 games
— Jim Larranaga has 689 wins (and counting)
— Seth Greenberg won 383 games. 

6) Falcons’ QB Matt Ryan has a cap number of $48,662,500 next year, highest in NFL history. Right now, Ryan takes up 23.4% of the Falcons’ salary cap space for 2022- if Atlanta were to release him, they would save $8,137,500 in cap space, but they wouldn’t have a QB, either. 

5) Nebraska is 21-65 in basketball the last three years, 6-49 in conference games, but they’ll bring coach Fred Hoiberg back next season- they would’ve had to pay him $18.5M to go away.

Hoiberg went 115-56 in five years at Iowa State before trying his hand in the NBA with Chicago; he thrived at Iowa State by bringing in transfers, but now everyone does that.

4) Ohio State 86, Illinois 83:
— Ohio State led by 16 with 5:58 left, hung on for dear life.
— Buckeyes outscored Illinois 26-11 on foul line.
— Illinois led game 21-8 early on. 

3) Gonzaga 89, San Francisco 73:
— USF beat Davidson, UAB, two solid mid-majors; Arizona State’s resurgence could help the Dons- they beat ASU 66-65 in December.
— Dons are 1-5 against BYU-Saint Mary’s-Gonzaga; they need a good WCC tournament. 

2) Fullerton 66, Irvine 64— Anteaters’ loss puts Long Beach State atop Big West standings with three games left. Irvine led this game by 10 with 6:42 left. 

1) Life has peaks and valleys, for sure; Rams win the Super Bowl 12 days ago, a great night for Sean McVay, but now this week all hell breaks loose in the Ukraine. McVay is getting married this summer to Veronika Khomyn, who is from the Ukraine— her family is still there.

Has to be horrible to turn the TV on and see your homeland invaded by hostile forces. My prayers are with the Ukranian people; hopefully this mess will come to a peaceful end soon. 

Thursday’s Den: Doing some thinking out loud……..

13) If major league baseball cancels games because of the lockout, Mets pitcher Max Scherzer will lose $267,489.71 for every Mets game that is cancelled. Monday is apparently when they would start cancelling games. What a mess.

— Texas SS Corey Seager would lose $200,617.28 a game
— Players earning the major league minimum of $570,500 would lose $3,521.60/game.

Maybe this is part of the problem; Scherzer will make $267,489.71 a game, while rookies will earn $570,500 for the whole season.

Expensive work stoppage; my big question is this: Who are the decision makers on each side? If someone speaks up in a meeting and suggests a compromise, will they be listened to?

Someone is going to have to give in here, or they’ll kill their golden goose, and I’ll be doing my NFL handicapping in April/May, which is not ideal. 

12) Chicago Cubs own their TV network, Marquee Sports; what the hell are they going to show if there are no games played? Both sides have a lot to lose; time to get a deal done.

11) Providence 99, Xavier 92, OT:
— Wild game; seven players played 44:00+.
— Providence made 14-29 on arc, needed three OT’s to win.
— Xavier has now lost five of last six games, is 7-9 in Big East.
— Friars are 23-3, but their last three wins were all in overtime.

If you were waiting to watch the Wyoming-Colorado State game, you were out of luck; when CBS Sports Network finally got to that game, Rams led 50-44 with 7:00 left to play. Colorado State wound up winning, 61-55. 

10) ACC basketball tournament is in Brooklyn in couple weeks; in my humble opinion, the ACC tournament should always be in North Carolina. There aren’t any ACC teams in the New York City area; this is nonsensical. 

9) Kentucky 71, LSU 66
— Kentucky wins another game without its two best guards.
— LSU led 31-23 at halftime.
— Tigers shot 38.7% inside the arc, Kentucky 56.8%

8) Middle Tennessee State is 20-7 this season; they’ve won 11 of their last 12 games, are ranked #97 by KenPom. Blue Raiders started this season ranked #285, so an excellent coaching job by Nick McDevitt and his staff. Middle Tennessee is 19-5-1 ATS this season. 

7) Creighton G Ryan Nembhard will have surgery on his right wrist, is out for the year; he hurt the wrist at St John’s Wednesday. Nembhard started every game this year; this is a big loss for the 19-8 Bluejays, who won their last six games. 

6) Minnesota Vikings’ coach Kevin O’Connell named Wes Phillips their new OC; he is Wade Phillips’ son, grandson of former Oilers coach Bum Phillips.

Super Bowl champ Rams have now lost at least three of their assistants from this past season; last spring, they lost seven assistants, so lot of turnover on Sean McVay’s staff.

5) Georgia Bulldogs won the college football national title; they’ve lost four assistant coaches since then, so Kirby Smart will be rebuilding his staff too.

There is a growing thing amongst coaches that college recruiting has become overwhelming, a 24/7/365 type thing, maybe more important than actual X’s/O’s coaching. You see a guy like Liam Coen go from OC at Kentucky to OC with the Rams, and that probably plays into it. 

4) Oklahoma State’s baseball team has a couple of assistant coaches with impressive resumes, former big leaguers Matt Holliday/Robin Ventura. Holliday’s brother Josh is the head coach for the Cowboys.

There was a time when Holliday’s father was Oklahoma State’s coach, but he got fired and was replaced by Frank Anderson. At the time, Anderson’s son Brett Anderson was on the A’s, and so was Matt Holliday, which had to be a little awkward. 

3) Watching Law and Order this afternoon and the judge is Morty from Meatballs, the old movie where Bill Murray is a camp counselor. Morty ran the camp; the counselors put his bed (with him in it) on a raft in the pond where the camp was. Somehow he graduated to being a judge. Go figure.

2) Enough with all the Bracketology guessing; every network has a guy who says, “If Team A wins this game, they’re a 6-seed, or Team B is off the bubble with a loss here”

These are all just educated guesses; let’s wait until March 13, and see the bracket for real.

1) Oregon swept their LA trip this season, beating USC/UCLA, two great wins, but at the time, there were no fans allowed in those arenas, so to me, those wins aren’t as impressive as road wins where there was crowd noise to deal with. To me, Oregon might be a little over-seeded when the brackets come out. 

Wednesday’s Den: Trends for conference tournaments……

13) WCC— Last 13 years, Gonzaga won it 10 times, Saint Mary’s three times. Last team other than those two teams to win CAA tourney? San Diego, in 2008. 

12) Pac-12— #1-seed won this event only three of last 12 years. 

11) Conference USA— #1-seed won twice in last seven years; last eight C-USA tourneys, seven different teams won the tournament. 

10) Ohio Valley— Last six years, five different teams won a tournament; Murray State won twice. 

9) MAAC— Iona won last five MAAC tournaments that were completed; funny thing is, they lost two years ago, but that tournament was never finished because of COVID. Iona was #1-seed in only one of those five tournaments they won. 

8) Sun Belt— #1-seed won three of last ten tournaments. Six different teams won the last eight years, with Georgia State winning three times. 

7) Horizon— Last ten years, nine different teams won a Horizon tournament, which is what happens when lot of teams bolt your league. #1-seed won six of last 11 years. 

6) Summit— Nine of last ten years, either South Dakota State/North Dakota State won the Summit tournament (Oral Roberts won LY). #1-seed won six of last nine tournaments. 

5) MAC— Buffalo won four of last six tournaments. #1 seed won four of last 12 MAC tourneys. 

4) SEC— #1-seed won five of last seven years. Kentucky is 22-6 in last 28 tourney games, but lost in first game last year. 

3) Missouri Valley— #1-seed won five of last nine years; last four years, either Bradley/Loyola won Arch Madness. This is Loyola’s last year in the MVC- they go to the Atlantic 15 next year. 

2) SoCon— #1-seed won this tournament the last seven years. 

1) Mountain West— San Diego State/Utah State split last four tournaments; before that, four other schools won a tournament, none of which was UNLV, the host team. 

Tuesday’s Den: Nobody asked me, but…….

13) Wisconsin 77, Michigan 63:
I didn’t want to talk about this, but it has become a big thing, so here goes. 

Sunday, with clock winding down in a lost cause, Michigan is pressing with 0:15 left, even though the issue has been decided. Wisconsin calls time-out, to re-set the 0:10 clock to get the ball over half-court- they’ve got their subs in the game.

a) Michigan coach Juwan Howard didn’t know the 0:10 clock resets after a time-out
b) Howard was ticked off because his team is 14-11 and might not make the NCAA’s
c) Wisconsin’s coach tried to explain himself to Howard in the handshake line, but Howard was doing the breeze-by handshake thing— he was angry when Greg Gard touched him and tried to explain himself. Really angry.
d) One of Wisconsin’s assistants stuck his nose in the fracas and Howard slapped him in the head. Chaos ensued for few minutes.

Social media went crazy/is going crazy about this. Slow news day and all that. Howard had an anger issue last year too, after a loss to Maryland.

My thoughts:
— Howard needs to grow up and accept how to lose; it happens.
— Calling a timeout with 0:13 left when you’re up 15? Bad idea.
— Suspend Howard for a game or two and move on.
— And oh, it would be nice if Howard knew that rule about the 0:10 clock.

Update: Howard got suspended for five games, fined $40,000; he can coach again when the Big 14 tournament starts in couple weeks. 

12) Saw a clip this weekend of Secretariat winning the Belmont Stakes by 31 lengths in 1973, wrapping up the Triple Crown— that was also the day I rose a horse for the one and only time.

For whatever reason, my 8th grade field trip was at some dude ranch up by Lake George; we played tennis (fun), we rose horses (not fun). Can’t remember much about the rest of the day.

So anyway, I get on this horse; ask the guy what the horse’s name is (mistake). He smiles and says “Jumper” which raised my blood pressure a little bit. Probably scared the freakin’ horse too.

The horse liked to stop and eat plants on the path, plants that were a few feet away from the path; the the horse started jogging, I looked like the guy in Abbott and Costello hanging on to the horse’s neck, praying he wouldn’t throw me off like one of those guys in the rodeo.

I was 13, hoping I’d live to be 14. Always had a lot of respect for jockeys after that; riding a horse ain’t as easy as it looks. 

11) I’m envious of writers who create these great TV shows, how creative they are, what a great skill to have. Billions had a big hurdle this season, overcoming the loss of their main character to keep the show edgy and interesting, and so far, they’ve passed the test.

I got really, really bored during the pandemic, went thru every episode of Billions and counted the f-bombs, sorted them by episode, by character. Like I said, really bored.

First five years of Billions, they averaged 30.4 f-bombs an episode, which is a lot, seeing how the average episode is 48-50 minutes. Lot of cursing. In one episode, they had 67. Thats 67 f-bombs in 48 minutes. Lot of anger in that episode.

But Mike Prince is the new main character, a cleaner-cut billionaire than Bobby Axelrod, and the writers have used cursing to emphasize the difference.

First five episodes without Axe, they’re down to 13.2 f-bombs/episode, a big change. They’ve changed the tenor of the show with so much less cursing. 

10) Pittsburgh Steelers hired Brian Flores as the linebackers’ coach; Flores is suing three NFL teams because they wouldn’t hire him as head coach, even though the guy coached Miami for three years and never made the playoffs. 

Not sure I’d want an assistant coach to be a distraction, as Flores obviously will be when he goes on the road next season, but the Steelers have a bigger issue- they need a QB for next season, with Ben Roethlisberger retiring. 

9) There was a car race on TV Saturday night; I’m told it was the Infinity Series, like a AAA race before the regular NASCAR race- there was an 18-year old kid driving one of the cars.

How the bleep does an 18-year old become a pro race car driver? I was also told that there are races where 8 and 10-year olds drive against each other, go-karts and stuff? Thats how they grow into being race car drivers at such an early age,

I didn’t get my drivers’ license until I was 19; years later, went to one of those indoor driving places where you race go-karts, and my friend’s 10-year old daughter beat me, so probably a good thing I never want to race cars for real. 

8) This weekend, MLB Network replayed a Toronto-Baltimore playoff game from 2016; seems weird that the Orioles were a playoff team only six years ago.

Last four years, Baltimore is a combined 178-368, that’s a .326 winning %age. No bueno. How long will it be before they’re contenders again? 

7) So far this season, D-I college basketball players are making 71.6% of their foul shots, the best %age ever for college basketball. Excellent!!!

I’m crediting Steph Curry/Klay Thompson for this; the success the Warriors have had the last ten years has helped make shooting cool again. Because of that, basketball is more fun to watch, because passing has benefitted— good passing/good shooting makes for attractive basketball. 

6) Safety Eric Weddle came out of a 2-year retirement to play in the playoffs for the Rams, and he helped them win the Super Bowl; now Weddle is retired again and will become a high school coach in the San Diego area next season.

Next year, Weddle will be an assistant coach at Rancho Bernardo High School in San Diego, then he becomes the head coach in 2023. Weddle played eight years for the Chargers, was named to the 2010’s All-Decade team; he has a lot of expertise to pass on to high school players. 

5) Four guys in the NBA’s top 75 players played at North Carolina:
Michael Jordan, Billy Cunningham, Bob McAdoo, James Worthy

4) College baseball season started this weekend; Vanderbilt’s team was wearing pitch-selection devices, a watch-like device on their glove hand to receive pitch selection information from the coaching staff, which should largely eliminate sign-stealing and it is also expected to quicken the pace of play. 

3) When Dick Vermeil is inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame this summer, he’ll be the 28th head coach inducted. 

2) Saw a thing on Twitter where former UCLA/Bucks’ star Marques Johnson had his 66th birthday; to help celebrate it, he posted a video of him dunking a basketball in his driveway.

Thats excellent, dunking a basketball at age 66; I’m 62, only thing I can dunk is a donut. 

1) USFL Draft is tonight; 8-team league starts in April, with all the games to be played in Birmingham. If there is no baseball in April, USFL will have a terrific chance to establish a foothold in the spring sports landscape. 

Monday’s Den: NBA trends…….

NBA trends (thru All-Star break)
Hawks (28-30):
— split last eight games SU.
— 2-5 ATS last seven road games.
— 9-2 ATS last 11 home games
— over 6-1 last seven games. 

Celtics (34-26):
— won nine of last ten games SU.
— 3-7 ATS last ten home games.
— 5-2 ATS last seven home games.
— 4-1 ATS playing 2nd strait night on road.

Nets (31-28):
— lost 10 of last 12 games SU.
— 2-11 ATS last 13 home games.
— 2-7 ATS if they played night before
— over 4-0 last four road games.

Hornets (29-31):
— lost one of last ten games SU.
— 6-1-1 ATS last eight road games.
— 0-9 ATS last nine home games.
— under 8-1 last nine home games

Bulls (38-21):
— won last five games SU.
— 6-9 ATS last fifteen road games.
— 8-2 ATS last ten home games.
— six of last eight home games went over.

Cavaliers (35-23):
— won 13 of last 18 games SU
— 3-9 ATS last dozen road games.
— 11-5 ATS as home favorites
— under 7-0 last seven home games

Mavericks (35-24):
— won six of last seven games SU.
— 6-2 ATS last eight home games
— 15-8 ATS last 23 road games.
— Under 19-4 last 23 home games

Nuggets (33-25):
— 5-1 SU their last six games
— 7-1 ATS last eight road games 
— 2-6 ATS last eight home games
— over 10-1 last eleven home games

Pistons (13-45):
— Lost 15 of last 19 games SU
— 2-7 ATS last nine games.
— 13=16 ATS as road underdog
— over 11-7 last 18 home games.

Warriors (42-17):
— lost four of last five games SU
— 2-7-1 ATS last ten home games
— 3-7-1 ATS last 11 road games
— over 6-1 last seven home games.

Rockets (15-43):
— lost seven in row, 11 of last 12 games SU
— 7-15 ATS home underdog
— 1-12 ATS last thirteen home games
— over 8-3 last 11 games 

Pacers (20-40):
— lost six of last seven games SU.
— 2-6 ATS last eight home games
— 6-3-1 ATS if they played night before
— over 5-1 last six road games

Clippers (30-31):
— won three of last four games (4-0 ATS).
— 5-2 ATS last seven home games.
— 8-4 ATS last dozen road games
— over 8-2 last ten home games

Lakers (27-31):
— lost seven of last ten games SU
— 7-3 ATS last ten home games.
— 4-3 ATS if they played night before
— over 9-4 last 13 road games

Grizzlies (41-19):
— won nine of last 11 games SU 
— covered 19 of last 23 road games.
— 8-2 ATS last ten home games
— over 8-0 last eight games

Heat (38-21):
— won five of last six games SU
— 10-5 ATS last fifteen road games.
— 9-12 ATS home favorite
— over 10-3 last thirteen home games.

Bucks (36-24):
— lost three of last four games SU
— 2-6 ATS last eight home games
— 3-9 ATS as an underdog
— over 9-1 last 10 games.

Timberwolves (31-28):
— lost three of last four games SU
— 8-4 ATS last 12 home games
— 2-9 ATS last 11 road games
— over 16-5 last 21 games

Pelicans (23-36):
— lost four of their last five games SU.
— 2-6 ATS last eight home games
— 7-1 ATS last eight road games
— under 6-2 last eight road games

Knicks (25-34):
— lost seven of last eight games SU.
— 3-5 ATS last eight home games
— 6-12 ATS as road underdogs
— over 9-2 last 11 games 

Thunder (18-40):
— lost five of last six games SU.
— 5-1 ATS last six road games.
— 5-4 ATS if they played night before
— under 6-3 last nine road games

Magic (13-47):
— lost six of last seven games SU
— 11-5 ATS last 16 road games 
— 4-12 ATS last 16 home games 
— over 8-3 last eleven games. 

76ers (35-23):
— split their last eight games SU
— 3-8 ATS last 11 home games.
— 9-3 ATS last 12 road games.
— 4-1 ATS if they won night before

Suns (48-10):
— won 7 in row, 18 of last 19 games SU
— 9-3 ATS last 12 road games
— 6-9 ATS last 15 home games
— over 7-2 last nine games 

Trailblazers (25-34):
— won/covered last three games.
— 1-4 ATS last five home games.
— 7-4 ATS last 11 road games
— over 6-2 last eight road games

Kings (22-38):
— 4-10 SU last 14 games.
— 6-3 ATS last nine home games
— 4-12 ATS last sixteen road games
— over 6-1 last seven games

Spurs (23-36):
— won four of last six games SU
— 14-9 ATS as road underdogs.
— 4-8 ATS last 12 home games
— five of their last seven games stayed under.

Raptors (32-25):
— won nine of last 11 games SU.
— 6-1 ATS last seven road games
— 15-4 ATS last 19 home games
— under 10-3 last 13 road games

Jazz (36-22):
— won six of last seven games SU
— 5-0 ATS last five home games, after an 0-12 skid
— 2-7-1 ATS last ten road games
— under 6-1 last seven games

Wizards (27-31):
— lost 10 of last 14 games SU
— 4-14-1 ATS in last 19 games.
— 2-4 ATS if they played night before
— 1-7 ATS first night of back/backx

Sunday’s Den: Wrapping up a college basketball Saturday

13) SEC:
— Florida 63, Auburn 62— Auburn split last four games, after a 22-1 start.
— Kentucky 90, Alabama 81— Wildcats scored 90 without their two best guards.
— South Carolina 77, LSU 75— Tigers lost seven of their last 11 games.
— Auburn leads Kentucky by a game, Arkansas/Tennessee by two games.

12) Big X:
— Texas Tech 61, Texas 55— Longhorns shot 26.5% inside arc.
— Iowa State 75, Oklahoma 54— Cyclones are 13-0 out of conference.
— Oklahoma State 82, Kansas State 79 OT— Cowboys shot 59% inside arc.
— Kansas leads Baylor/Texas Tech by two games each.

11) ACC:
— North Carolina 65, Virginia Tech 57— Tar Heels’ first Quad 1 win.
— Wake Forest 79, Notre Dame 74— Irish led by 12 in first half.
— Duke leads Notre Dame by game, UNC/Miami by two games.

10) Pac-12:
— Arizona 84, Oregon 81— Wildcats outscored Oregon 12-5 over final 3:21.
— Colorado 70, Stanford 53— Buffs won their last five games.
— Arizona State 73, Oregon State 53— Beavers have lost 12 in a row.
— Arizona leads UCLA/USC by three games each.

9) WCC:
— Saint Mary’s 69, BYU 64- Cougars lost five of their last seven games.
— Gonzaga 81, Santa Clara 69— Zags were 12-35 on arc, 15-32 inside arc.
— Zags lead Saint Mary’s by three games; USF/Santa Clara are tied for 3rd.

8) Big West:
— UCSB 84, Long Beach 71— Gauchos end Long Beach’s 11-game win streak.
— Irvine 77, Hawaii 52— Anteaters won their last seven games.
— Long Beach leads Fullerton by a game, Irvine by two games. 

7) Upsets of the Day:
— SE Missouri State (+11.5) 92, Morehead State 84
— VMI (+8.5) 80, Chattanooga 75
— Drake (+7.5) 83, Loyola 76
— Western Carolina (+5.5) 69, Mercer 65
— Iowa (+5.5) 75, Ohio State 62

6) Big 14:
— Iowa 75, Ohio State 62— Hawkeyes won four of last five games.
— Illinois 79, Michigan State 74— Illini swept Spartans, by 1-5 points.
— Purdue/Illinois are tied for first; Wisconsin is half-game back.

5) Missouri Valley:
— Drake 83, Loyola 76— Bulldogs shot 67.7% inside arc.
— Bradley 72, Illinois State 64— Braves won eight of their last ten games.
— Loyola, Missouri State, Northern Iowa are all tied for first.

4) Atlantic-14:
— Davidson 79, Saint Louis 58— Wildcats made 14-24 shots on the arc.
— Dayton 74, St Joe’s 62— Least experienced team in country is 11-3 in A-14.
— Davidson leads Dayton/VCU by a game, Bonnies by two games. 

3) Southern Conference:
— VMI 80, Chattanooga 75— Keydets made 14-32 on the arc.
— Furman 70, Wofford 69— Wofford led 10-0 early, by 4 with 5:11 left.
— Chattanooga leads Furman by game, VMI/Samford by three games.

2) Sun Belt:
— Texas State 68, Little Rock 50— Bobcats won their last seven games.
— Georgia State 58, Georgia Southern 49— Panthers have won five in a row.
— Texas State leads App State, Troy, Georgia State by 2 games in loss column.

1) Mountain West:
— UNLV 72, Colorado State 51— Rebels sweep season series with CSU.
— Boise State 68, Utah State 57— Broncos won 18 of their last 20 games.
— Boise/Wyoming are tied in loss column; San Diego State is game behind. 

Saturday’s Den: Random stuff with weekend here…….

13) MLB cancelled the first week of spring training games, which is bad news; the two sides are going to negotiate every day next week, which is long overdue. Why haven’t they been doing this all along? If there isn’t a deal by March 1, then the start of the regular season figures to be delayed.

Lot of people plan vacations to Florida/Arizona in March, to see spring training. 

12) After starting season 2-9 vs D-I teams, Long Beach State has caught fire, winning its last 11 games, covering last ten.

It has been ten years since Long Beach State was in NCAA Tournament; they were 18-26 in Big West games the last three years, but this year’s team is forcing turnovers 22.3% of time in conference games- they’re on a roll. 

11) VCU 77, Richmond 57:
— Rams sweep cross-town rivalry this season
— VCU outscored Richmond 49-29 in second half. 

10) Best NBA teams, against the spread:
— Memphis 39-20-1
— Oklahoma City 35-19-4
— Chicago 35-23-1
— Toronto 34-23

9) How basketball has changed:
Ten years ago, Orlando Magic averaged 27 3-point shots a game, most in the NBA.

This season, Chicago Bulls are averaging 29.8 3’s a game; thats 30th (last) in the NBA. 

8) College football playoff is going to stay at four teams for the next four seasons; I’m not sure why. Am pretty confident an 8 or 12-team playoff would be very popular, but the bowl system is so entrenched. Having more meaningful games would be a good thing.  

7) Last year, Tampa Bay Rays had 14 different pitchers earn a save, which is a lot; makes it tough if you’re in a fantasy league with saves as a category. 

6) Tex-San Antonio 98, Southern Miss 79 OT— Not often a team wins by 19 in overtime, but the Roadrunners outscored Southern Miss 22-3 in OT, snapping a five-game losing skid. UTSA made 15-32 3-point shots; they trailed by 11 early on. Southern Miss has lost eight in a row. 

5) Oklahoma City’s Josh Giddey is only second NBA rookie ever to have triple-doubles in three straight games, joining the great Oscar Robertson on that list. 

4) Saw an ad on Twitter where Allegiant Stadium has a concert next September 9, with Def Leppard, Motley Crue, Poison and Joan Jett. September 9 is a Friday, two days before the NFL season starts, which leads me to believe that the Raiders are opening 2022 on the road. 

3) St John’s 91, Butler 57:
— Red Storm was 11-22 on arc; they’re shooting only 32.8% on arc in Big East games.
— Butler is 6-10 in Big East, 40-50 the last five years. This is Butler’s ninth year in Big East; they’ve had three winning seasons in Big East conference games. 

2) Yale 81, Pennsylvania 72:
— Bulldogs won seven games in row, lead Ivy League by a game. 

1) Cleveland State 78, Milwaukee 71— Vikings maintain their one-game lead on top of the Horizon League standings. 

Friday’s Den: Random stuff with weekend here…….

13) If your favorite NFL teams needs a quarterback, would you want them trading for Deshaun Watson? He’s going to get traded somewhere this year, just a question of where.

Watson has a 28-25 W-L record in four years; he didn’t play this past season, has a mountain of legal problems to deal with, but if he gets past those (since he is rich he probably will), he’s better than most NFL QB’s. 

Very curious to see where all this ends up; Houston figures to net a bonanza of draft picks to build back its roster when they trade Watson- they need the help.

12) The quality of play in college basketball has taken a dive; the transfer portal has to be at least partially responsible. Teams being cobbled together in the offseason; there are more than a few teams with 10+ new players from last season. Hard to have cohesive play that way, with players changing teams almost on the fly.

Makes handicapping teams lot harder; teams are more erratic. 

11) Speaking of transfers, Arizona State QB Jaylen Daniels, who started the last three years for the Sun Devils, entered the transfer portal this week. Bad news for Herm Edwards’ ASU squad.

10) Gonzaga has been the #1 basketball team in the country in 17 of last 31 top 25 polls; they’re not going to lose any WCC games the rest of this season, which makes them a tough team to gauge heading into March Madness. Does playing in a mid-major league hurt their chances of winning it all? 

Since 2015, Gonzaga is 16-6 in NCAA’s; they haven’t lost a first round game since 2008.

Under Mark Few, here is how Gonzaga has fared in the NCAA’s:
— 1st round: 18-3
— 2nd round: 8-10
— regional semis: 4-6
— regional final: 2-2
— national semis 2-0
— national title games: 0-2

9) This season, Gonzaga won its first three WCC road games by by 32-30-33 points, so the guys who set the odds in Las Vegas made them minus-31 at Pepperdine Wednesday. Sportsbooks are obviously tired of taking bets on the Zags, who won 86-66.

Very seldom is a road team ever favored by 31 points in a conference game. 

8) New York State took in $2B in wagers for their first month with the mobile betting app; took the politicians lot of time to make sports betting mobile, but they finally did and with a taxation rate 51% of the proceeds, the state is starting to rake in big $$$$. 

7) Michigan signed football coach Jim Harbaugh to a $7M/year contract; he is 61-24 in seven years at Michigan, 42-17 in conference games, 1-5 in bowls. 

6) Happy to report that Showtime’s excellent series Billions was renewed for a 7th season; very good show to watch, if you have access to Showtime. 

5) Minnesota Vikings introduced Kevin O’Connell as their new head coach; funny how teams go from a defense-oriented coach to an offense-oriented one and vice versa. Vikings went 72-56-1 under the last coach, Mike Zimmer (2-3 in playoff games), but Zimmer had six different offensive coordinators the last six years. Now Minnesota has an offensive-minded leader. 

4) Just read stuff on the Interweb about how the Kansas City Chiefs, and how Eric Bieniemy hasn’t gotten a head coaching job, despite 15 interviews with various teams.

Turns out that Bieniemy doesn’t get along that well with Patrick Mahomes; during AFC title game, Andy Reid wanted to overrule one of Bieniemy’s play calls, Mike Kafka the QB coach says “We’re blowing this game” and Mahomes says “Call a bleeping play or I will”

If an assistant coach (on offense) doesn’t get along with Mahomes, I’m guessing the coach will wind up on the highway leaving town. 

3) Miami 111, Charlotte 107 OT— Hornets are 0-6 in overtime games this season. 

2) Samford 100, VMI 99, OT— VMI made 16-34 on arc, scored 1.36 ppp, which is really good, but they still lost. That almost never happens. Samford was 12-24 on the arc.

47.4% of shots in SoCon games are 3’s, highest %age of any league in country. 

1) Long time ago, maybe 2003 or 2004, I was in Florida, watching AAU national tournament at Disney’s Wide World of Sports; had a media pass, so I was sitting amongst the coaches under the basket on one of the six courts in the building.

Think the kid’s name was Devan Downey; he was a good guard, and lot of coaches were there to see him play. Only seat empty was the chair on my right.

I hear a voice say “Anyone sitting here?” It was Tubby Smith, who was then Kentucky’s coach. He sits next to me; few minutes later I ask him if he minded if I asked him a few questions for this blog I write— I promised him they would be easy questions.

“There are no easy questions” he says, smiling, but he politely answered five questions and I had a big part of this space for the next day. For the first four years of this blog, that day was the day with most traffic, so thanks to coach Smith.

Tubby Smith retired this week, passing on the head coaching mantle at High Point to his son; Tubby Smith finished with 642 wins at seven different schools, winning the 1998 national title at Kentucky. Really good coach; his teams were fun to watch.

Enjoy your retirement coach; appreciate you talking with me.

Thursday’s Den: Doing some thinking out loud…….

13) Definition of a bad day: Sunday, a gambler placed $1M on the Rams over 13.5 points in the first half (+115). Rams botched the snap on the extra point after their second TD- they didn’t score again that quarter, led 13-10 at the half. Under by half a point.

Guy lost $869,500 because they botched the snap on a PAT, only time they did it all season. 

12) Definition of a good day: last fall, Juan Soto turned down a 13-year. $350M contract offer from the Washington Nationals. Soto can’t be a free agent for another three years; if he waits until then for a new contract, he’ll be expecting to break the bank then. 

11) Speaking of the Nationals, Ryan Zimmerman retired this week, after a 16-year career; he hit 284 homers in his career, helped Washington win the 2019 World Series. 

10) Used to discuss/argue with a friend of mine, what makes a QB great?

I thought about this a lot; concluded that lot of the things that make a QB great are things you and I cannot see, its behind the scenes stuff.
— Is the QB a good teammate? Do his teammate believe in him?
— Does he do a little extra on study/prep work?

Texas basketball coach Chris Beard says “3:30 guys don’t win championships” His point is that players improve the most with the work they do before/after practices.

— Physical skills are obviously important; toughness is probably more important.
— When the offense gets in the huddle, 80-yards from the game-winning score, do his teammates believe that QB will lead them to a score? That seems to be the biggest thing.

Arizona Cardinals/Kyler Murray are having problems; it is unclear what they are exactly, but Murray’s body language during games isn’t good. You don’t seem him talking to teammates on the sideline very much. The QB is a leader, but the other players won’t follow unless they believe in the leader.

9) In college basketball, I think a team should have to finish at least .500 in their league to make the NCAA Tournament; you lose more than you win in league play, how do you get to compete for a national title? 

1992 Iowa State Cyclones finished 5-9 in the Big 8, was still a 10-seed in March Madness, the worst conference record for any at-large team in the NCAA Tournament.

8) Three weeks to go in the Big Sky regular season, only one team has less than four losses; Montana State leads at 12-2, two games ahead of Weber State/Southern Utah/Northern Colorado. Going to be a very good conference tournament.

7) NFL teams that could have a new starting quarterback next year:
— Houston
— Washington
— Tampa Bay
— San Francisco
— Pittsburgh
— Indianapolis
— Denver

Deshaun Watson will be the first domino that causes the other ones to start falling.

6) We talked on Monday about Brycen Hopkins catching four passes for 47 yards in the Super Bowl, after being the Rams’ fifth tight end to play this season. Turns out that Hopkins’ dad is Brad Hopkins, who played against the Rams in Super Bowl XXXIV for Tennessee.

Brad Hopkins played offensive tackle for 13 years with the Oilers/Titans. 

5) This season in the NFL, there were an average of 11.8 penalties per game, for 102.1 yards. During the playoffs, penalties dropped to 9.4 per game, for 75.4 yards.

4) Super Bowl TV ratings were up 14% this year from last year. 

3) NFL is very good at staying in the spotlight; March 3-6, the rookie combine will be on the NFL Network, in primetime. If you like to watch guys run the 40-yard dash or do shuttle drills, you’ll enjoy watching that.

2) Cincinnati Bearcats gave football coach Luke Fickiell $5M a year thru 2028; Cincinnati is moving up to the Big X, with Texas/Oklahoma moving to the SEC. 

1) I went to college at UAlbany, spent lost of time in the campus center there, where there used to be lot of protests. Various things, some more serious than others. I was more interested in watching game shows in the TV lounge, but there were a lot of protests.

Prices in the vending machines were lower than most places; when they tried to raise the prices once, a protest happened. Politicial issues, protests. Labor issues, protests. You get the idea.

One day I’m walking past a protest and it occurred to me; there was a core of people who seemed to be at all of these protests, like they were professional protestors, so from that point on, always looked for those people and sure enough, most times they were there.

Wonder what the going rate was for being a protestor? 

Wednesday’s Den: Conference tournament trends……..

College tournaments aren’t that far away; here are some trends for how teams have done in their tournaments.

13) Since 2004, Gonzaga is 37-4 in the WCC tournament; since 2010, Saint Mary’s is 17-9. BYU is 9-8 in their last 17 tourney games.

Other than those three teams, not lot of wins left in the WCC. 

12) Despite playing the Big East tournament on its home floor at Madison Square Garden, since 2003, St John’s is 8-14 in Big East tournament.

Similar thing for UNLV, which hosts the Mountain West event; since 2009, Rebels are 11-13 in conference tournament games- they last won the tournament in 2009. 

11) Since 2013, Iona is 24-3 in MAAC tournament games, 17-1 since 2016. 

On other hand, Marist is 1-9 in last nine MAAC tourneys. 

10) Since 2003, under five different coaches, VCU is 34-14 in conference tournament games. 

9) Cincinnati is 10-2 in its last four conference tournaments, winning two of them. 

8) Last eight conference tournaments, George Washington has gone W-L seven times. 

7) 11 of the last 12 years, San Diego State has won at least two games in the Mountain West tournament; since 2009, they’re 27-9 in the conference tournament.

6) Last four years, Utah State is 10-2 in Mountain West tournament. 

5) San Jose State is 0-8 in its last eight Mountain West tournaments, with last seven losses all by 13+ points. 

4) From 2012-14, Louisville went 10-0 in winning three straight conference tournaments; since then, Cardinals are 2-5 in conference tournament games.

3) Last five years, Oklahoma is 0-4 in Big X tournament games. 

2) Since 2015, Arizona is 11-2 in Pac-12 tournament games; since 2009, Washington State is 1-10 in tournament games. 

1) Since 2015, Cal-Irvine is 13-4 in Big West tournament games; last five years, Hawaii is 0-4. 

Tuesday’s Den: Nobody asked me, but…….

13) On June 14, 1974, Nolan Ryan walked 10, struck out 19 batters in 13 innings in a 4-3 Angels win that lasted 15 innings. Ryan threw 235 pitchers in this game; 235!!!!!!!!

Ryan had a 3-1 lead in ninth inning, but Carl Yastrzemski hit a 2-run homer to tie the game.

Luis Tiant pitched the whole game for the Red Sox. 

12) So, when is spring training starting? Too bad the baseball owners/players are all rich nitwits who can’t agree what day it is. They need to end the lockout and get spring training started. 

11) They had a draft of players for the NBA All-Star Game last week; how would you like to be the last guy picked for that game?

When I was a kid, I wasn’t usually the last guy picked, but I was closer to the bottom than the top and it sucks. Imagine making $47.2M a season and being the last guy picked? Well, guess making $47.2M would soften the blow some, but still it sucks.

Enough said.  

10) Huge overlap in seasons now; I’m still basking in the glow of the Super Bowl, while there is a college hoop game on TV and I’m listening to a podcast on fantasy baseball. Only 26 days until Selection Sunday, 44 days until Opening Day of baseball. 

9) MLB Network is televising a college baseball tournament this weekend; not sure how that will be, but some baseball is better than none. 

8) John Calipari had a cameo on Showtime’s Billions Sunday night; he gave the hedge fund traders a pep talk, telling them to put their first million dollars away, for security. Once you have security, he says, you lose your fear of failure.

“I’ve had 52 players drafted in the NBA, have 35 players in the league now……”

A terrific 1:49 scene, very well done, complete with Calipari waving his national title ring in the air, to impress the traders. Excellent scene. 

7) Underdogs are now 10-5 ATS the last fifteen Super Bowls. 

6) Last eight Super Bowls, the team that won the coin toss lost the game.

5) Kirk Cousins’ salary cap number next year is $45M. Oy. 

4) February 2, Syracuse won 89-82 at NC State; three Syracuse subs played a total of  20:00, took one shot the whole game (it missed). None of the starters scored 20 points, which is weird; they all scored between 16-19 points. 

You sit in a 2-3 zone, have to rest some on defense; Boeheim’s two sons played 38-40 minutes. This will be a good team to avoid betting on in the ACC tournament, once you get past the first day. 

3) NBC is re-booting Law & Order February 24; it is supposed to be pretty much similar to what it was it went off the air 12 years ago. Sam Waterston/Anthony Anderson return to their old roles; one terrific addition to the cast will be Jeffrey Donovan, who was great on an old USA Network series Burn Notice, which ran from 2007-13. 

2) Prediction made without judgment: NFL will eventually award a 3rd-round draft pick to teams who hire a minority head coach. NFL needs more teams to hire minority head coaches; a 3rd-round pick is a damn good incentive.

Joe Montana, Terrell Davis, Cooper Kupp were all 3rd-round picks.

1) Sam Ryder made a hole-in-one on the 16th hole at the Phoenix Open Saturday, the hole where 50,000 people watch in a stadium-like setting. Hundreds of water bottles were thrown on the green in celebration. Seeing how the tournament was sponsored by Waste Management, didn’t take long to clean up the bottles, but it was a fun thing to see. 

Monday’s Den: Ramdom thoughts on an excellent night…….

I had a really interesting den ready to post today, but it’ll have to wait for another day, because Sunday night, the Rams won the Super Bowl!!!! Second Super Bowl title for the Rams, their first in LA, and very dramatic.

Rams went 0-3 in November, were 7-4; the naysayers were having a field day. We live in a fickle society, so you have to win to keep the rats from jumping off the ship, and boy, from December 1st on, the Rams did nothing but win, often by the skin of their teeth.

Last time the Rams won it all, this blog didn’t exist, so hopefully I won’t be too obnoxious here.

First of all, the game and its trappings:
The game
— 15 plays, 72 yards, 4:48, the game-winning drive. Tremendous. Cooper Kupp (of course) scored the game-winning TD with 1:25 left.

Rams didn’t have Robert Woods, Odell Beckham Jr missed the second half, and LA’s top three tight ends were out; Brycen Hopkins (#88) came out of nowhere to catch four passes for 47 yards— he caught one pass in the regular season, as the Rams 4th-string tight end.

GM Les Snead deserves a huge heap of credit— more on him later.

— Sean McVay is now 55-26 in regular season, 7-3 in playoff games. Five years, two Super Bowls, coaching a franchise that before he got there, hadn’t had a winning season in 13 years. Whatever they pay him, it ain’t enough. 

— First 4:41 of the third quarter was an unmitigated disaster; Cincinnati threw a 75-yard TD pass on first play of third quarter, then picked off a pass and kicked a field goal- they led 20-13 with 10:19 left in the third quarter. Things didn’t look good.

— There was a weird stretch in the second half, before the game-winning drive where both teams punted three times in a row; Rams ran nine plays for nine yards, Cincinnati 11 plays for no yards.

— Matthew Stafford was 26-40 for 283 yards and three TD’s; now people can start thinking about his chances to eventually be a Hall of Famer. He was awesome this season.

There was a sporting goods store in Detroit selling “Detroit Rams” t-shirts, that’s how popular Stafford is after playing 12 years for the Lions.
Imagine what he must be thinking right now?
Imagine what Lion fans  must be thinking right now?

— Cooper Kupp caught eight passes for 92 yards and two TD’s; the guy went to college at freakin’ Eastern Washington, a I-AA football program. He is a great receiver.

— 3rd down conversions: Rams 6-15, Cincinnati 3-14

— Aaron Donald, Von Miller, Leonard Floyd, they put lot of pressure on Joe Burrow, sacked him seven times.

I’m standing in my living room watching the last series, and I’m as confident as I’ve ever been that the defense ain’t getting scored upon, and sure enough, they shut the Bengals down.

— Total of only six penalties were accepted in this game; football should always be officiated this way, though the facemark penalty on the long Cincinnati TD should’ve been called.

— The wife of Rams’ WR Van Jefferson was taken to the hospital during the game; she had a baby, so really big day for the Jeffersons.

— Rams’ safety Taylor Rapp proposed to his girlfriend on the field after the game; she said yes. She gets an engagement ring; he gets a Super Bowl ring.

— Potentially expensive day for Odell Beckham Jr, who caught two passes for 52 yards and a TD; he hurt his knee in second quarter. A doctor on Twitter thought it was a torn ACL, which won’t help his chance to cash in as a free agent this spring.

— Rams’ GM Les Snead deserves a huge pat on the back for all this: quality depth wins in the NFL; Snead has done an exceptional job of fortifying the Rams’ roster, while dealing first round draft picks for proven stars.

Skeptics were everywhere; like I said, our society is fickle. After the game, people on NFL Network were debating whether Les Snead’s approach will spread around the league. Back in November, they were thrashing the guy for trading draft picks.

— This is I know; on Thursday September 8, the Rams will host the NFL season opener.

Trappings:
— Too damn many commercials and too much hoopla before the game; the first two or three series of the games were smothered by commercials. I know the NFL exists to make $$$, but good grief, has to be tough for the players to get a rhythm for the game.

— I mute TV during all the Ram games, so didn’t hear Dwayne Johnson’s act before kickoff; was getting antsy waiting for the freakin’ game to start, can only imagine what the players are thinking while they’re waiting for the biggest game of their lives while hijinks are going on all around them.

— John Calipari just showed up on an episode of Billions; brilliant casting, and he’s good, giving the hedge fund traders a pep talk.

— Don’t watch the Super Bowl commercials, don’t care about them, I know some people do, I do wonder how effective they are; when other teams play in the Super Bowl, hardly watch the commercials. Use timeouts to get food or hit the men’s room or play word games on my phone.

— Halftime was long, over a half hour; do players hate this? Cincinnati’s kicker stayed out on the field and watched halftime. Does it help coaches make adjustments?

— Now we look forward to the 2022 football season, but we’ll get into that down the road- the draft, the schedule release, free agency and trades. Will be an interesting offseason, for sure.

“The most competitive business in the world”

NFL has 32 teams, some are run better than others- things have to break just right and to win a championship. This year, things broke just right for the good guys.

Tonight, Armadillo World HQ is a freakin’ happy place.