Believe in Never
They say that you learn something new every day. Well, yesterday, I learned the lesson that if you are trying to gain credibility with a relatively new sports blog, predicting a victory for the 2008 Detroit Lions is not the path to go down. I knew things were bad on the car ride over to Ford Field with my boy BK. He is as much a die-hard Lions fan as there is in this city. He still makes noise when the Lions are on defense and is known to shout things such as, "Watch for the Play-Action!" on approximately 78% of the opposing team's plays. And he killed me for going public with the Lions victory prediction on this once-respected site. I thought our defense would be so jacked up that a couple big plays would just fall in their lap for the first time all year. Didn't exactly go down like that.
Very quickly, the game developed the feel of a pre-season contest. Sparse crowd, zero energy in the stadium...only difference was that if it were indeed an exhibition game, the Lions would have come out firing. Instead, they were fired upon...repeatedly. Drew Brees threw for 351 yards, and if he wanted to, it could have been 500+. His ample time in the pocket throughout the game reminded me of an old Detroit Vipers commercial. The Vipers' goalie was just chillin' by his net, sitting in a beach chair, watching some tube and enjoying a beverage. Even though the game was going on, there was no action coming his way, so he was the picture of cool. Same deal with Brees. When he wanted to look for the deep ball, it was there with his receivers a good 15 yards past any Lions "defensive" back. When he wanted to check it down, he found Jeremy Shockey or Billy Miller or a running back and bagged 10-20 yards that way. After seeing the time and comfort afforded him in the pocket by the gracious Lions defense, I'm convinced he could have thrown for Two-Fiddy playing lefthanded.
It was most definitely the nastiest performance of the year by a soon to be historically pathetic football team. It was the perfect storm on Sunday: zero desire, extreme lack of talent, a coaching staff trotting out the same game plan for the 15th game in a row, and a crowd so dead that the only real cheers I heard all day were those reserved for Dashing Donut. The lesson I learned is that if I feel the need to toss out some bold prediction regarding events at a Lions game, I'm better off keeping things simple and just calling out a dominating win by the Donut. After all, the Lions disappoint you week after week. But when's the last time you felt anything but ecstasy after spending some quality time with a 'glazed and sprinkled?' Live and learn.
Most People Really Enjoy Their Sundays
Arthur Spooner, the character perfected by Jerry Stiller on 'The King of Queens,' once uttered the following pearl of wisdom, "Ah, Sunday. You know what I like to call it...Fun Day." Well, I know one NBA team that would vehemently disagree with that statement. The Detroit Pistons hate Sundays. After a setback to the Atlanta Hawks yesterday, their Sunday record on the season sits at a Lions-esque 0-6. Their record every other day of the week: 14-5.
Somehow, the story after this game ended up being the "benching" of Allen Iverson in the 4th quarter by Michael Curry and the possible breach this created between the two. Apparently, Curry felt the big day by Mike Bibby was directly related to Iverson's struggles on the defensive end and sat him down for a few minutes in the 4th quarter. Just hard to understand how this can be looked at as a "benching."
It is true that Iverson was lifted from the game with 4:30 left and the Pistons only down 6. However, he had only managed one bucket in the 2nd half, and was largely ineffective for most of the game. And he was coming out for Rodney Stuckey, the Pistons' best player by far on Sunday and someone who had been curiously sitting for almost half the quarter. The move seemed 100% within the flow of the game to me, and not this controversial punishment that many are making it out to be. This is a little bit of a different team than most in the NBA, with crunch time lineups varying from night to night. With that said, though, Michael Curry has to do a better job of identifying who the best guys are heading into the crucial stretches of the 4th and making sure they are on the floor. Rodney Stuckey had 10 points in the last 5 minutes of the 3rd quarter on Sunday, singlehandedly changing the momentum of the game. In the last quarter, Coach Curry sat Stuckey for 5 minutes while managing to get him one measly shot attempt, a jumper he buried in the last minute with the game no longer in doubt.
Now this is not a bad loss, by any means. The Hawks are quietly turning into one of the East's more formidable foes, especially at Philips Arena. But it tends to sting a little more when you lose the game without really exposing your big guns at the biggest moments. Understandably, Michael Curry is a rookie head coach and is still learning the craft. However, after his late-game clock mismanagement on Friday against Utah and the aforementioned Stuckey problems yesterday, this inexperience is coming through a little too frequently. The only saving grace to all this; the Pistons have next Sunday off.
Couple Other Quick Hitters
-Very impressive win for Michigan State over #5 Texas in Houston. Not the prettiest of games, but a gritty, statement win nonetheless. The Spartans had yet to record a real quality win this season, and this victory should serve as a big confidence booster heading into Big Ten play in a couple of weeks. Excellent job by Tom Izzo and the coaching staff for devising a game plan intent on shutting down the Longhorns' high-powered guard, A.J. Abrams. Travis Walton badgered him relentlessly whenever he was in the game, and the Spartans held Abrams to just 8 points while playing the entire 40 minutes. The two best players for MSU both came off the pine. Goran Suton was in superb form on his way to 18 points, making the squad much more formidable with his presence in the lineup. Durrell Summers hit the biggest shot of the game, a cold-blooded 3 from the right wing with 20 ticks left to grab the lead. Credit Raymar Morgan as well. Despite his odd night statistically (3-3 from the field, 6 turnovers), he was able to penetrate just enough to grab some attention before setting up Summers for the game-winning bomb.
-Am I the only one that feels bad for Evander Holyfield? It sounds as if he was completely robbed in his majority decision loss to giant Nikolay Valuev on Saturday in Switzerland. I know the guy should probably not be fighting, and he is most likely damaging himself for later on in life, but he ought to get the W if he's earned it. Valuev was so passive during the bout that he was described to be "in a coma" for most of the fight, but somehow it was good enough to garner the necessary points from 2 of the 3 judges. I've always been a Holyfield guy. From an early age, I respected his toughness in handling much bigger heavyweights when he was naturally a cruiserweight. Maybe this will be the end of the road for the former champion. I always enjoyed watching him when he was at his best. It is frustrating that this bout will possibly send him out of the ring for the last time with a sour taste in his mouth...he deserves better.
What did you notice this weekend? Drop a comment here or Email your boy at email@example.com