Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Half Volleys

Time is not on my side, so here are thoughts in short form...

1) Matt Schaub trade: not as good a deal as the Falcons could probably have gotten a year ago, but also far better than paying that much for a backup who can walk for nothing in 10 months. The two spot move this year means the Falcons will get one of the following players, each of whom would make a serious impact: Gaines Adams, Jamaal Anderson, Levi Brown, Joe Thomas, LaRon Landry. Here's hoping one of the tackles drops to 8. The #39 pick will not be a bad pick either. There will be first round talent at that spot (Winston Justice last year went 39; Lofa Tatupu went around there in '05; Bob Sanders went around there in '04). Another option would be to flip that extra second rounder and another pick to move into the late first round - and maybe steal a guy like Reggie Nelson. Another second rounder next year makes the deal even better. This trade was a decent play. A better play probably would've been to sell Schaub a little higher a year ago, but as of right now, I don't know if the Falcons could've gotten a better deal (nobody was signing Schaub and giving the 1 and 3).

2) Like, a third of the world's population only cares about one thing right now: the Cricket World Cup. As a nonconformist and internationalist, I've tried to follow it a little. A bit of background: a decade ago I spent the summer in England, and tried for 6 weeks to teach myself how the rules of cricket operate via county cricket in pubs and box scores in the Guardian. Needless to say, I don't think I did a good job at it. The World Cup is a bit simpler to understand, since it's one-day internationals and the rules seem a little simpler, to me at least. Anyway, there's a host of odd storylines coming out of the Cup. Namely, major upsets. Pakistan and India are two of the better teams, and both have lost to teams with weaker reputations. Despite an upset loss to youthful Bangladesh, India still have a chance to advance to the knockout next round with a win over Sri Lanka (thanks, mainly, to a rout of Bermuda). A loss to Sri Lanka probably means India are heading back to the subcontinent. But at least they still have hope. India's neighbors to the west, Pakistan, are already heading home. The big story has been the death of manager Bob Woolmer under suspicious circumstances. But that was all after Pakistan had already been eliminated by the Irish on St. Patrick's day. We Americans might not know better, but Ireland isn't exactly a huge hotspot for cricket. The Republic kind of doesn't like to act like a good colony. So the win over Pakistan was a massive, massive upset. And with Pakistan's win over Zimbabwe today, the Irish have clinched advancement to the knockout next round before their match against the Windies. The bad news is that Ireland will face either England or New Zealand in the next round be likely the worst team left in the tournament and will face all the other good teams - meaning probable elimination before the final four. Still it's been a great cup for Ireland, and a total disaster for Pakistan. And that'll probably be the last I mention cricket on here. But it does give something to follow along during the day for the next few weeks.

[I edited this because I realized it was messed up.]

3) Part One of LD's theories without statistical support or serious research backing it up...

An idea I noticed last year and maybe the previous year in the NCAA basketball tournament hasn't come up again this year, until this weekend. Domes and their effect on games. I've been to watch games in the Georgia Dome, and I honestly believe it has an effect on the game. There is a difference between the background players shoot against in domes from that background in a smaller NBA-type building. Teams that rely on three point shooting for their offense might have problems when they start playing in domes. Teams that rely on frontcourt power, rebounding and high-percentage shots are less susceptible to that kind of effect. I noticed it last year in the regionals. Last year two regionals and the Final Four were held in domes. In the two regionals held in domes (Atlanta and Minneapolis), the highest rated seeds had major strengths in the perimeter (Duke and Villanova). Both those teams eventually lost to teams with far stronger emphasis on frontcourt play (LSU and Florida). Duke in particular seemed to struggle with shooting in the dome - J.J. Redick went 3 for 18!

Now, this year there haven't been any games played in domes so far, but they start doing so tomorrow, in the Alamodome and the Edward James Dome in St. Louis.

In St. Louis, my guess is that the dome helps Florida, who has probably the strongest frontcourt out of Butler, UNLV and Oregon. Butler in particular appears susceptible to dome-related poor shooting - their best two players are guards, and Graves, their best player is particularly reliant on 3-pt shooting. Oregon is one of the most frequent shooting teams from behind the arc. Many pundits have said that Florida has an easy path in terms of the other teams in the region, but with the effect of the dome on outside shooting (which I have little concrete evidence to back up my assertion), Florida might have an even better chance at defending their title.

In San Antonio, the dome is a little smaller, and it's an NBA arena already it was an NBA arena for a decade or so, so the depth and angles might not be a perfect fit for my theory. Regardless, Ohio State probably has some advantage, even though they have strong guard play. Oden upfront provides a better option than just about anyone in the nation in the middle. Their first opponent, Tennessee, features an offense that takes a ton of threes and whose best players rely on outside jumpers. Memphis plays uptempo, and is pretty balanced. Texas A&M runs a lot of high screens for 3-pt shots. The Aggies have good shooters - but if they went cold the offense could suffer.

Basically, I'd guess Florida and Ohio State have some advantage because their regions are played in domes. Then the next week in the Georgia Dome, who knows how it'll be, depending on the other teams that advance. Perhaps I'll actually have to update my blog again this month.

4) Part Two of LD's theories without statistical support or serious research backing it up...

The University of South Carolina wants to ruin international soccer, or at least cause headaches for lots of players involved in it.

First, a few weeks ago some college football dudes noticed the trials and tribulations of the hair-apparent (booo...) to Steve Taneyhill's legacy for the Cocks, Stephen Garcia. Dude was arrested (the first time, not the keying) for public drunkeness and not responding to a cop. How was it that Garcia got so drunk? He was pounding away at a birthday party at Columbia's Knock Knock Club for West Ham United defender Anton Ferdinand. Anton, the not as talented but equally as obnoxious brother of England and Man U international Rio Ferdinand, for some reason wanted to celebrate his 22nd birthday with some of his friends who play for the Cocks' soccer team in Columbia, rather than, on his own continent, during the season, etc. In fact, the story is that Anton lied to the club about his whereabouts. He said he was visiting a sick grandmother or something, not going to Columbia to get drunk. I gotta tell ya... I find this whole story weird. Stephen Garcia and Anton Ferdinand in the same news item? Odd.

Then this week there was a bigger name involved in a fracas concerning someone related to the USC athletic department. This week Inter Milan and Brazil stud Adriano got into a bar fight with Rolando Howell, a basketball player for Varese who played his college ball at, yep, South Carolina. Howell's a 6'9" Center in the Italian league. Evidently the fight was over a woman, some Italian celebrity.

So in a span of a few weeks, not one, but two international soccer players have incidents with legal implications, and both are somehow connected with the University of South Carolina. Coincidence? How could this be a coincidence. Clearly USC has it in for the entire international sporting community.