Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Brooklyn Nets: GAME CALLED

From the desk of:   THE HOOPS OF FLATBUSH

Not Now.  Not Yet.  This Will Just Have To Wait.

When the Dodgers left after the 1957 season, New Yorkers waited four years before National League baseball returned to the city.  But for Brooklyn, it would be forty six years before anyone spoke seriously about bringing a professional team back to Kings County.  After Bruce Ratner purchased the Nets in 2003 and announced his intentions to move the team, it took another seven years before groundbreaking day for Barclays Center took place.  Another twenty nine months elapsed during construction of the arena.  On November first, the Nets were scheduled to play their inaugural game in Brooklyn against the New York Knicks in the historical return of professionalism to the Borough. 

You may now add two more days to the wait time.  Hurricane Sandy has rendered the game insignificant in light of all the devastation she has wrought upon our neighbors, and to all in her path.

NYC and the NBA were wise to postpone Thursday's game.  After all, it was just that; a game.  But please, do not make the issue however, one of public transportation.  Please!

Real life calls.  And for me to say anything else other than expressing my sorrow for the many losses and casualties of the storm, I feel is inappropriate at this time.  Additionally, the effects of the storm still exists for far too many.


Monday, October 29, 2012




Be Safe, Be Well...and good luck.
Hopefully the power stays on.
See you on the other side of the storm.
Storm Information and Evacuation Zone Information:

Sunday, October 28, 2012

New York Jets: Flight Cancelled At The Gate

From the desk of:   A BLUE BLOODED GIANTS FAN


NEW YORK JETS:  Half Way Through The Regular Season, D-Generation Rex Is Caught In A Downward Spiral.  With The Bye Coming Next Week, The Jets Have Two Weeks Of Decision Making Ahead.

The storm of all perfect storms descended upon Met-Life Stadium Sunday afternoon.  Tried as they might to fly through adverse conditions, the Jets never had a chance.  Sunday's flight was doomed from go.  The plane never even made the tarmac.  The pilot never made it to the plane.  Marc Sanchez was stopped at the gate.  Fans are starting to suspect their fly boy is playing under the influence of Performance Depleting Drugs.  Maybe Tim Tebow is diabolically flaking Marc's food at the buffet table?  That's called not-so-very-creative fiction and a poor attempt at humor people!  But the reality of the Jets condition is the quarterback is playing as if he was on dope none the less.

In an ever downward spiraling season filled with worse upon worse efforts, Sunday's was the worst performance by Marc Sanchez of perhaps both his entire college and professional career.  Aiding and abetting in four sacks-against due to horrible presence in the pocket, an interception, a fumble, were only what the box score show.  To watch him Sunday, made Jets fans eyes bleed.

Before we get to all the other inclement elements of Sunday's humiliating loss to the Miami Hurricanes Dolphins, first let me give credit to Head Coach Rex Ryan.  He stuck with Marc Sanchez all game long.  This was Marc Sanchez' game, and Marc Sanchez' failure at quarterback alone.  Waiting on the sidelines was Tim Tebow.  If there was a game which needed handing off to the next guy, it was this one.  But Rex denied Tim Tebow the opportunity of stepping into, on, or over, Marc Sanchez' downfall - not with the Bye Week coming.  That was a great move by Rex.  One, Rex's decision kept the situation very clear cut, and unpolluted.  It leaves the team with two weeks to deliberate over what to do next.  Any decision they make going forward should now be met with very little resistance.  For nothing else has worked.

Make no mistake, this was a perfect storm.  They are now 3-5 this season, with a 2-2 division record.  They barley defeated the Dolphins in overtime in the first match-up.  The Jets opening week game against the Bills stands as their best season effort so far.  Then their win over the Colts was just that, against the Colts.  But the Jets are now thoroughly exposed.

If you take away Shonn Greene's thirty six yard romp, the Jets rushed twenty times for only sixty nine yards.  Marc Sanchez was forced to attempt fifty four passes, and wound up throwing twenty six incompletions.  But should any offense they generated in the 4th quarter really count considering this game was effectively lost in the first quarter?  If you're going by the actual score, the Jets lost the game within the first eleven minutes of the game.

Part of this overall ineptness must fall on the offensive coordinator.  Here's a question - what is he doing?  Marc's worst season is coinciding with the coordinator's first season.  Sparano waited until he faced his former team in Week Three to inaugurate the first hints it might be Tebow Time.  Since then, many fans have gotten lost with how seemingly Coach Sparano incoherently implements the Jets weapon of mass disruption.  The plan has done more to interrupt Marc Sanchez' flow and promising drives, than anything except for their poor offensive line play.  But not Sunday.  Sunday was all Marc, all day.  He didn't take care of the ball.  He had no feel for the pocket.  He couldn't even complete a simple screen pass.

Defensively, the Jets still can't stop Reggie Bush.  He and Daniel Thomas combined to rush twenty nine times for 101 yards.  It was enough.  The real defensive blow to the ego was losing to back-up quarterback Matt Moore.  Miami's starter, Ryan Tannehill's day didn't start out too promising.  But after he pulled a quad muscle via an actual Jets sack, the game took a not so funny football bounce against the Jets.  Their special teams, and everything else, feel apart like wet toilet paper.

How bad was New York's start against Miami?  Mike Westhoff is known for coaching superior special teams units.  Sunday, his teams were repeatedly embarrassed all game long.  All players have one bad day at work they would prefer to forget.  When one suffers, the others cover.  We all get that.  Against Miami, all special teams players shared in having their worst day together.  That spells doom.  An on-side kick and a blocked punt returned for a touchdown in the first quarter alone were  the start of a miserable afternoon for Jets fans.  Yet another blocked field goal attempt before the half just about disenfranchised everyone in attendance of their pursuit of happiness.

How did they start the 3rd quarter? - By allowing a fifty seven yard kick-off return.  By then, the score was howling in the Jets faces with 27-0 winds.  Then came a near Marc Sanchez pick, followed by an actual Sanchez pick.  Then another sack.  Then more and more and more....

The 30-9 final score is hardly indicative of the damage.  The Jets played far worse.  They suffered poor special teams play, which to be fair, will no doubt be corrected.  The Jets defense are having their troubles.  They are still a good defense.  But they are being asked to do too much now.  To be fair, they are without Derrelle Revis, and were without Bart Scott, and so on.  But despite injuries, the defense was already proving to be somewhat suspect.  And then there was the offense.  There was none.  With one or two exceptions, the offensive line is inferior.  Shonn Greene is trying, but the running game is sub-standard.  Additionally, with Santonio Holmes out, and even with Dustin Keller in, there are no game changing receivers to speak of.

All this ultimately brings us to Marc Sanchez and Tim Tebow.  The Jets have given Marc Sanchez a fair shot at securing the job without having to look over his shoulder, except for stupid conceptual plays here and there.  The job has been his.  Tim Tebow has not had the pleasure of starting at quarterback yet.  I believe he was afforded one partial drive all season under center.

I do not believe, at all, Tim Tebow will change the Jets fortunes.  Not in a box, not with a fox.  Not here, nor there, not anywhere.  However, at this point, asking why not give the offense to Tebow after one half of a season spent spiraling out of control, is the most valid question in the NFL right now.  An independent, yet relative question is, why is he here?  There is one fact towards that end which justifies everything.  The Dolphins dominated.

All is not lost.  Not by a long stretch.  The season is ONLY half over.  The Jets have two weeks to get back in the lab and conjure a solution.


New York Giants: Playing For NFC East "Glory Hole"

From the desk of:   DO IT FOR THE DUKE

End The Cowboys Season Today!

The time is right for Big Blue to take a strangle hold on the NFC East.  And possibly more gratifying to Giants fans, Big Blue is in supreme position to hasten a rebuilding effort in Dallas.  One more season of massive underachievement in all likelihood will hasten Jerry Jones into dismantling his unfruitful Glory Hole of a team.

The 'Boys are no doubt in a bad place right now and lacking Texas Tea.  Dallas is 3-3 on the season.  They played their best game of the season against the Giants in the opening week of the season and have been floundering ever since.  Tony Romo has been the poster child.

The Giants are undefeated in Jerry World, but I do not expect that streak to last much longer. However, their streak won't get snapped today.  To echo the sentiment and words of the Cowboys owner himself, I expect the Giants to go into Big-D and sear a good 'ol Big Blue branding upon the Cowboys posterior.

The guy who sacked Eli Manning two times in Week One has been battling the flu this week, and that just might catch up to him in the second half.  The Cowboys can juice him up with all the IV they want.  He'll be throwing up on the sidelines by the third quarter.  Or not.  But the Giants have only given up four or five sacks since their first encounter against Demarcus Ware.  They (Will Beatty)  should be better prepared to stop him this week.

The Cowboys will be without their linebacker Sean Lee.  Jerry's Kids have several more injuries to contend with as well.  Big Blue's running game stands to benefit.  The Giants ran the ball a mere nineteen times against the Cowboys when they last met, and gained eighty two yards.  I expect them to do much better this time around.  The offensive line suffered a setback with last week's running game against Washington, but the unit has so far elevated the Giants rush to at least twelfth place overall this season.  That's a far cry over last season when they ranked dead last.

There is every reason to believe the O-Line will continue providing Eli with plenty of time to throw as well.  That could spell doom this week for Jerry Jone's high priced corner backs as Eli should have Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks, Domenik Hixon, and Martellus Bennett all available for duty today.  Over the first seven games of the season, that always hasn't been the case.

Defensively, you have to marvel at the continuity the Giants have displayed.  Kenny Phillips goes down and Steve Brown emerges to become a tremendous factor.  As Chris Canty missed the first half of the season, Linval Joseph stepped in admirably.  Now, Joseph is down, and Canty is back.  It's a tough break, but it shows depth prevailed.

I'm concerned Jacquian Williams is hurt.  He's kinda of a pet project of mine.  If he is out, I think we'll see Mathias Kiwanuka back at linebacker for a week.

If you haven't noticed, Jayron Hosely has been playing well, while Prince Amukamara has been even better.  Heading into this day against Tony Romo, the Secondary should be better seasoned by now, and eager to put forth a much improved showing than in Week One.

Up front, the pass rush took Week One off.  For that matter, they took Week Two off as well.  Tony Romo will be dealing with an emerging force this week.  The pass rush has awoken from their slumber.  After stretching out the last few weeks, they look ready to get down to business just in time to punctuate Tony Romo's ninth season as a pro with another career defining loss.

Enjoy the game.  Let's go Giants!


Brooklyn Nets: 2012-2013 Inaugural Season Preview

From the desk of:   THE HOOPS OF FLATBUSH

BROOKLYN NETS: Know Your Team - #5
2012 - 2013
Regular Season Preview:

Finally, after many years of delay, Brooklyn's First, is only days away.  With their pre-season schedule complete, the next time we see Kings County's new cagers will be Thursday evening when they inaugurate the 2012-2013 NBA regular season, and play in the Borough's first major sporting match in fifty five years.

Game One will be against the New York Knickerbockers, and will be played inside the Nets new arena at Flatbush Avenue and Atlantic Avenue.  Barclays Center is home now.  In five more days, the clock starts ticking on the Brooklyn Nets basketball club.  Once they tip-off, the rest as they say will be history.

The new home town cheer is set.  The anthem of the fans will be...

Brooook - Lyn!

These aren't necessarily the Nets everyone is used to.  These aren't even the Nets of the 2011-2012 season.  Gone from the Nets who played last season in New Jersey, and didn't make it to Brooklyn are Anthony Morrow, Gerald Green, Jordan Farmar, Sundiata Gaines, Johan Petro, Jordan Williams, Sheldon Williams, and DeShawn Stevenson along with a few others.

The Nets currently have seventeen players on the roster, and will have to slim down to fifteen by Thursday's opener.  Six players are returning from last season and six players are new veteran faces.  The Nets also currently sport five rookies in camp.  A sixth rookie, Stephen Dennis, was cut earlier in the week.  Word is free agent rookies James Mays and Carleton Scott may be next.  That would effectively get the Nets down to fifteen.  Remaining rookies, Tyshawn Taylor, Mirza Teletovis, Tornike Shengelia stand to make the team.

With his rookie season, New Jersey, and the winds of trade behind him, MarShon Brooks returns for a second campaign.  The twenty three year old guard/forward averaged twelve points per game last season.  In his senior year at Providence, MarShon averaged twenty four points, seven rebounds, and two assists per game.  The youngster will prove valuable off the bench.  Despite only five games played with the Nets last season, ninth year guard/forward Keith Bogans will also return to bolster the bench.

In March of 2012, the Nets traded Mehmet Okur, Shawne Williams, and a #1 draft pick in exchange for Portland's Gerald Wallace.  The 25th overall pick in the 2001 NBA draft, Wallace will not turn thirty one years old until July.  General Manager Billy King signed him to a four year pact which keeps Wallace in Brooklyn through the 2015-2016 season.  The Nets may rue that fourth season, but over the short term, the acquisition seems savvy.

Gerald Wallace has a chance to score his 10,000th point as a pro this upcoming season.  Last year with Portland, he was in the middle of posting his lowest points per game average since the 2004-2005 season.  In 2005-2006 he averaged 15.2 points ppg, then averaged 16.8 points for the next seven years.  His best season came at age twenty five with Charlotte, when he averaged nineteen points per.  At the time of last season's trade, Gerald Wallace had dropped to a suspect thirteen points per.  In sixteen games with the Nets after the trade, Gerald Wallace rebounded and averaged fifteen points in his usual thirty five minutes a night.

Kris Humphries returns to the Nets for his fourth season.  He signed a lucrative, albeit two year deal to stay and play in Brooklyn.  Entering his fifth season, Brook Lopez also returns after signing a brand new four year max deal.  And I say welcome back.  Ever since the Dwight Howard dramatics began, I've long maintained the Nets would be better off with Lopez and Humphries, than with one Dwight Howard.  The Magic center handled himself with indecision and engaged in double-speak during Orlando's ongoing deliberations to trade, or not trade him.  Perception wise, the episode may have been insight into why Howard may not be the best fit to play in Kings County.  And when you consider his history with injuries, if he goes down, there goes your primary source of both rebounds and points. With Humphries and Lopez, the threat of losing both points and boards are separated, and minimized.

Kris Humphries is a proven rebounder, and Brook Lopez is a proven twenty point scorer.  Before Brook Lopez got injured, he averaged twenty points per game during the 2010-2011 regular season, and eighteen points the season before that.  He'll turn twenty five years old next April and seems to be suffering no ill effects of his foot injury.  Standing seven feet tall, weighing 260lbs, and with a few years under his belt now, the Nets want and need Lopez to improve on his career 7.5 rebounds per game.

That's where Kris Humphries comes in.  Since Kris Humphries became a starter with the Nets (or was, his role with Gerald Wallace around is still to be decided upon by Coach Avery), he has become a double-double man the last two seasons running.  He has averaged 11.9 points, and 10.7 rebounds per game.  With Deron Williams on the floor, high double-double nights occurred more frequently.  With Williams, Kris enjoyed an overall career year last season.  Brook Lopez still hasn't realized the full benefit of playing with Deron Williams.  But he will.  In addition to the on-court effects Humphries and Lopez will have, both their contracts are relatively short term, and won't hamper the franchise nearly as adversely as a deal for Howard would have.  And that is why Dwight Howard is free to play elsewhere as far as I am concerned.

Hello Joe Johnson.  He comprises part 1A of the already much hyped Brooklyn Backcourt.  The thirty one year old guard cost the Nets a hefty sum in players, draft picks, and cash.  Joe has four years remaining on a six year max deal he signed while in Atlanta.  In addition to surrendering a 2013 #1 draft pick, and a 2017 #2 pick, the list of players sent to the Hawks is long.  Jordan Farmar, Anthony Morrow, Jordan Williams, DeShawn Stevenson, and Johan Petro all were traded to Atlanta. Why?  Because Brooklyn now has one of the most formidable back courts in the League.  Entering his twelfth NBA season, Joe Johnson has been a scoring stud on pedestrian Atlanta teams.  Spanning five years from 2005 through 2010, Joe maintained a 21.9 points per game average.  He averaged 18.5 ppg over the last two seasons prior to the trade.

  ....This is my house.  - Deron Williams.

It certainly is.  And it wouldn't have been the same without him.  Thanks for staying Deron.  And thank you Mark Cuban for dropping the ball.  Brooklyn showed more of a want for Deron's services than the Mavericks did.  Despite reports, I wonder if the star guard would have really left, considering all Billy King's maneuverings right up to the day Deron Williams sat in the press room on signing day and politely spoke, "Hello Brooklyn."

Had the Knicks known Deron Williams was available, they probably would have never traded for Carmelo Anthony.  After majority owner Mikhail Prokhorov effectively ended the Nets pursuit of Denver's forward, to the great delight of a dejected fan base, the Nets pried Deron Williams from the Utah Jazz under the cover of night.  On a February morning in 2011, locals woke up to news the Nets acquired the star point guard in exchange for a package including Derrick Favors, Devin Harris, two #1 draft picks, and cash.

After one and a half seasons playing in New Jersey and losing a preponderance of their games, Deron Williams and the Brooklyn Nets agreed to a five year deal in July of this year.  Biding his time before being able to opt out of his previous pact and declare himself a free agent was no easy endeavour.  At times, the team's consistent losing outwardly wore on Williams.  However, he always maintained the high road, and always insisted the Nets were in the running.  I do not believe he was ever misleading regarding his intentions.  He came here and was quite the leader and ever the professional despite rumors which followed him out of Utah insinuating Deron may have forced Jerry Sloan's firing.  But the Nets effectively gambled the future of the franchise on Williams anyway.  Today, the franchise stands to benefit immensely for having him.

The Nets have secured Deron Williams in his prime.  He is twenty eight years old and eight seasons smart.  He has size, skill, savvy, and rates as one of the elite point guards in the league.  This is his team to lead.  Last season he posted a career high with a twenty one points per game average.  It is the second consecutive season he averaged twenty or more.  He additionally averaged 8.7 assists per game.

Deron's assists were down because with Brook Lopez out, he turned into the Nets primary scoring  option.  But with Billy King's roster overhaul, that changes significantly this season.  In any given moment of any given game, with Williams, Lopez, Johnson, and Wallace, the Nets will have a legitimate scorer on the floor.  Gerald Wallace is averaging 13.5ppg over his career.  The other three have averaged over seventeen ppg over their careers.

MarShon Brooks and Keith Bogans will join forces with Andray Blatche off the bench.  Given the amnesty treatment by the Washington Wizards, Blatche, the upstate New York native has apparently found a home in Brooklyn.  He put together a fine string of pre-season games.  Over a seven year career, he is a nine point, five rebound forward who doesn't shoot free throws very well.

Guard/forward Josh Childress, who averaged eleven points per game and pulled down the occasional rebound while playing with Joe Johnson in Atlanta, will also come off Coach Avery's bench.  He spent two inconsequential seasons with the Suns before arriving in Brooklyn.  Despite being a career role player, the Nets are banking the Childress from his Atlanta years re-emerges.

Tenth year Reggie Evans is here to spell the forwards.  C.J. Watson comes to the Nets via Golden State and Chicago.  He is a twenty eight year old guard who has shown a knack for scoring in limited minutes.  And last, but certainly not least, age has its privilege.  The thirty seven year old, seventeen year NBA veteran, Jerry Stackhouse joins the Nets.

As the new Nets gain familiarity with each other, overall team scoring should be more than adequate.  There are little worries in that regard.  Based on their pre-season performance however, the team left me with a few matters to ponder.

Defensively, the team played no where near Coach Johnson's standards.  Despite a 3-2 record in five pre-season games, the Nets allowed more points than they scored.  They allowed over one hundred points three times.

Secondly, the Nets stand to get out-rebounded.  How often remains to be seen.  Kris Humphries is obviously the team's best rebounder.  I'm looking for even more improvement in his overall game.  But as stated previously, Brook Lopez is being counted on to do more, which invariably means getting more physical underneath.  He is historically good for seven boards a night.  He now needs to make the jump and join Kris Humphries in double digits this season.  Gerald Wallace is known to be good for five or six rebounds per game.  And off the bench, Andray Blatche will be asked to pull down his customary six boards.  After that, the Nets will be lacking.

Billy King deserves credit for assembling a quality team in such short order.  Not too long ago, the Nets situation wasn't looking too promising.  He initially caught a lot of heat for trading away so much young talent.  He also dispersed a cache of first round draft picks around the league, and effectively maxed out the salary cap.  I do not hear too many people complaining now though.  Instead, many believe Billy King has put together an Eastern Conference contender for Brooklyn's inaugural season.

Lastly, I will simply say, I believe the Nets have the right coach as well.  Avery Johnson is alright by me.


#24 - Barclays Center - Untitled, Just Because
#22 - Year One A.G. - After Groundbreaking
#20 - Barclays Center - Where's the Doorbell?
#16 - Last Call For Some, Is Not Last Call For Others
#14 - A Sign Of Things to Come
#12 - Next Stop, Barclays Center. Watch For The Closing Doors
#10 - Barclays Center - Brrrrr!
#5 - Barclays Center - Who Needs Tickets?
#3 - All Trains Lead To Brooklyn


Friday, October 26, 2012

Pigskin 2012: Football Sunday - Week Eight

Football Sunday
Week Eight:

SCHMEAR of the WEEK: 3-4
BAGELS in the BASKET: -9
* If my team had to travel to London in mid-season, I'd be pissed!  Why doesn't the NFL just give them the Browns and call it a day, mate.
* The perfect storm is headed towards Philadelphia.
* Can the Giants stay undefeated in JerryWorld?
Let's roll some Bagels...

Football Sunday - Week Eight:
Friday Line ~ NYDN
Giants -1 1/2 (COWBOYS)
Dallas is beat up.  Big Blue is primed to enjoy some "Glory Hole" Texas style.
WIN; 29-24 Giants
JETS -2 (Dolphins)
The Jets defense should be good enough this week to enable a win, in spite of Marc Sanchez, Tim Tebow, and Tony Sparano.  Playing desperate should help too.
LOSS; 30-9 Dolphins
Patriots -7 (RAMS) *London
This is a bloody shame.  Why don't they move the Pro Bowl to England and play the game in the week between the championship games and the Super Bowl.  Just sayin'
WIN; 45-7 Patriots
TITANS -3 1/2 (Colts)
Colts will need more than Luck on the road.  The Titans have their moments.
LOSS; 19-13 Colts
PACKERS -15 1/2 (Jaguars)
The spread says it all.  If the Pack is going to win by fifteen, then they will win by seventeen as well.
LOSS; 24-15 Packers
BROWNS +2 1/2 (Chargers)
It's the Browns.  I originally thought Chargers.  That's why I am reversing course, and going against myself.  Brilliant!
WIN; 7-6 Browns
Falcons +2 1/2 (EAGLES)
Super storm, Hurricane (Matt) Ryan is headed towards Philly.  When it rains, it typhoons in Philly.  Andy Reid was made to suffer this season.  Only his team can save him now.
WIN; 30-17 Falcons
LIONS -2 (Seahawks)
Seattle is a different team when away from home.  Detroit might finally be taking this season seriously.
WIN; 28-24 Lions
BEARS -7 1/2 (Panthers)
Sometimes bruised ribs does the soul some good.  I'm looking for the Bears to keep on growling.
LOSS; 23-22 Bears
Redskins +5 (STEELERS)
I'm officially downgrading my opinion of the Steelers for a week.  They deserve it.  I like the Skins to cover.
LOSS; 27-12 Steelers
Raiders +1 (CHIEFS)
...Because whenever I see a home team laying just one point, what's the use?
WIN; 26-16 Raiders
BRONCOS -6 (Saints)
No defense..., no win for the Saints.  The fireworks should be nice though.
WIN; 34-14 Broncos
49ers -7 (CARDINALS)
The Cardinals are faltering of late.  San Fran wants to hit the reset button, and get back to fundamentals.
WIN; 24-3 49ers
Schmear of the Week:
BEARS -7 1/2
Happy Football Sunday everyone!

SCHMEAR of the WEEK   3-5
BAGELS in the BASKET   -9

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Brooklyn Nets: Knicks Take First Encounter In Overtime

From the desk of:   THE HOOPS OF FLATBUSH

Pre-Season Final
NETS       95

BROOKLYN NETS: What The Hell Was That?  Nets Had Eight Assists All Game! Way To Move The Ball Around Fellas.

Some say it is not how you start, it is how you finish that matters.  On Wednesday evening, it all looked the same.  The Nets needed to put together a 17-3 fourth quarter run just to get the game tied and into overtime.  Otherwise Brooklyn played from behind most of the night.  In over time, New York's Steve Novack jacked up a couple of three pointers, and that was that.  The Manhattan Knicks drew first blood against the team representing Brooklyn.

In the final tune-up for both clubs, the Knicks claim a 97-95 final, albeit unofficially.  When these two clubs meet again on November 1st, the games will start counting for real.  Between now and then however, I'm sure the Knicks would trade their two point pre-season victory over the Nets for the health of Tyson Chandler's knee.  The big guy left the game in the first quarter and did not return.  Chandler is hopeful for Opening Night.

On the bright side, there was a lot to like about how well Raymond Felton and Melo played together.  Felton had five assists.  But just like in his last stint off-Broadway, when Felton scores, the Knicks win.  Wednesday night he dropped fifteen points on Brooklyn.

Jason Kidd was rather inconsequential in twenty two minutes.  Chris Copeland led Knicks scorers with sixteen points off the bench.  Melo matched Felton with fifteen points, and was high man on the Knicks with nine rebounds.

This was Brooklyn's third pre-season loss in a row.  They end their exhibition schedule with a 3-3 record.  Coach Avery no doubt will have an interesting week of practice in store for his men.  There is much to address.  On a good note, the Nets improved their free throw shooting considerably.  They made twenty of twenty two shots, for a 90.9% shooting percentage from the line.

Brooklyn struggled from 3-point range.  They hit five of seventeen attempts.  The Knicks were better, draining twelve of twenty nine, for a 41.1 % three point percentage.

Deron Williams led all players with twenty two points.  And Andray Blatche led all players with ten rebounds.  Seven Nets players out-rebounded Brook Lopez, who had one rebound.  That is going to have to change.  Here's a cool stat.  No Nets player had more than two assists.  They had eight all game.

Way to move the ball around fellas.


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

New York Islanders: No Seats Till Brooklyn

Owner Charles Wang Checks Long Island Into The Boards.
Team Moving To Brooklyn For 2015 Season.

After months of speculation, it's official, the Islanders are coming to Brooklyn.  The announcement was made this Wednesday afternoon.  After years of wrangling with Nassau County over a new arena, club owner Charles Wang is pulling the team from Uniondale when his lease with the Nassau Coliseum expires.  He will be relocating them to Barclays Center, where Mr. Wang just signed a twenty five year lease to play beginning with the 2015 season.

Let me first say, the Islanders belong in Uniondale playing for the fans of Long Island.  Period!  I'd much rather see them stay there, than  The failure of Nassau County to reach an agreement with Charles Wang on his Lighthouse Project, or at a minimum, a new arena is a shortsighted mistake repeated throughout the country.  The matter did go to a vote, and was defeated.  I for one am not telling Long Islanders how to spend their tax dollars.  They pay enough as it is.  But how many towns and cities wound up building an arena after their teams split town, in an effort to entice a new one into returning?  Atlanta, Minnesota, Winnipeg, Colorado, Quebec, for whatever their failures, are available examples.

Furthermore, whether directly or indirectly, the dilapidated state of the Coliseum falls squarely on the county.  And it should not go under spoken that Charles Wang was not looking for public funding throughout the process.  Several of his proposals (not all) would have been privately financed.  It was the county which made the final proposal for a new arena plus a new minor league baseball park.  That's what was put to a vote, and that's the project that ultimately got voted down.  In order to move forward as an organization, the owner needed arena certainty.  So to Brooklyn they will come.

As part of his interview Wednesday on local radio 98.7ESPN, Charles Wang said new locker rooms would have to be built, and that on one far end of the arena, there are obstructed seats issues.  Reconfigured, Barclays holds 14,500 for hockey.  Mr. Wang said their are preliminary plans for adding as many as 1,000 more seats for hockey.  In either case, even the Commissioner would admit capacity at Barclays is a bit below league standards.

Despite that minor detail, the metropolitan area should be a three hockey team town as it has been since the New Jersey Devils arrived from Colorado thirty years ago.  Quite obviously, the Rangers dominate the landscape.  But the rivalries have been good for the Islanders and Devils respectively.  What is ironic about the arrangement however is the Devils have won three Stanley Cups since their arrival, and of course the Islanders dynasty of the 1980's is the stuff of legend.  In the face of seven Stanley Cups between them, the Rangers have secured one over the same time.

While it may not be any consolation to Long Islanders, the team will still remain in the New York metropolitan area (including Long Island), and thus accessible to most fans.  This relocation sure beats a more distant move to far off places like Kansas City who built a brand new arena and have been trying to secure a team.  And for argument sake, what about towns like Seattle, Cleveland, Milwaukee, and others?

Charles Wang also announced the team will not re-brand, and will remain the New York Islanders.  And that's where I draw the line.  Had the club changed their identity, sure, I would have bought a jersey and attended a few games.  None of that would have interfered with me being a Rangers fan.  But if they are setting up camp in Brooklyn, only to remain the New York Islanders?  Fuhgeddaboudit!  They will have no fan in me.  I'm in no particular hurry to see their Stanley Cup banners and retired numbers hang from the Barclays rafters either.  Potvin Still Sucks as far as I'm concerned.  However, this will be interesting to say the least.  Having said that, I'm glad at least the team will stay in the area, and the Rangers versus Islanders rivalry will continue.

On a separate note, having the name Islanders and their team logo disappear from Hockey's landscape would have been a shame as well.  I don't have to like the team, but I will admit the Islanders logo; the Long Island graphic with the NY; is one of the most iconic logos in the NHL.  Who ever designed it, nailed it.


New York Jets: Haven't Fumbled Away The Division Yet

From the desk of:   A BLUE BLOODED GIANTS FAN

Will Marc Sanchez Be Sleeping With The Fishes after Week Eight?

NEW YORK JETS: Back Pedaling Into Week Eight Against Dolphins.  The Jets Still Have No Plan For Tebow, And Their Trust In Sanchez Is All But Spent.

That's a tough way to lose.  Games within the grasp are hard to accept.  Especially when they're in Foxboro.  Just ask Marc Sanchez.  I hear him getting a lot of flack for getting sacked and fumbling the ball in over-time.  I saw two offensive linemen get badly beaten on the play.  But once you start back pedaling, everyone knows your in trouble.  Yeah, New England got on him quick.  Bad foot work?  Maybe.  But you still need to protect the football.

Among so many things to chose from, the failure of the Jets to hold 4th quarter leads, or blowing games in the 4th quarter, will be their demise.  Through all the nonsense of Tim Tebow, losing Derrelle Revis, and a host of other matters, the Jets have still been in position to win games.  It's no doubt a tough pill to swallow.

Sunday, the Jets did almost everything they needed to.  Marc Sanchez threw for 300+ yards.  The Jets rushed for over 100 yards as well.  Running the ball was a combined effort but they managed the yardage none the less.  Dustin Keller was back in full effect, and the difference in Sanchez was very  noticeable.  But an earlier interception and the final fumble were too much - too many mistakes.  It was a game Marc Sanchez had in hand against a division rival and let get away.

New England is far from leading the pack.  Sunday's win only improved their record to 4-3.  The Jets now have a 3-4 record.  The division is still very very salvageable.  But after losses to the Steelers, 49ers, Texans, and now the Patriots, you have to really question where the Jets belong on the NFL's pecking order.  Their victories came against a flaky Bills team, an overtime win over Miami, and they beat a pretty bad Colts team.

Meanwhile, the secret plans for implementing Tim Tebow are out.  There is no secret plan.  We are heading into Week Eight, and there is still no cohesive plan for Tim Tebow on offense.  Interestingly, the Jets play Miami this weekend.  The last time these teams met in Week Three was the closest Coach Sparano came to giving Jets fans any indication Tim Tebow had purpose, much less a role outside special teams assignments.  Is Coach Sparano's plan to unleash Tim Tebow on the Dolphins again?  Instead of saying stop the nonsense, I'll say sticking with Sanchez is the way to go.

Why is a former (Sparano) offensive line coach's offensive line still playing so horribly?  The Jets allowed five sacks Sunday.  It is worth saying this was the problem with the offensive line last season.  So if lack of faith in their quarterback is what they suffer, well then, the team will just have to just  trust him even more.


Brooklyn Nets: Battle For The City Begins

From the desk of:   THE HOOPS OF FLATBUSH

New York Knicks
Nassau Coliseum
Long Island, N.Y.

Pre-Season Showdown Versus Manhattan Knicks;
It's Time To Face The Competition.

An era ends.  A new age begins.  Over the last thirty five years, the New York Knicks foot print extended out and dominated the desolation of East Rutherford.  The days when Nets players got taunted by Knicks crowds in their own arena, as was the case in the Meadowlands arena and in Newark, are done.  The Nets have a new home crowd now, passionate and loyal as any.  Many native Brooklynites that will be attending games this season have no particular need, want, or even like for Manhattan.  So proceed thee now with caution Knickerbockers.  In eight more days they'll be  entering the very different Borough of Kings.

The Billboard Wars which played out over the last two winters, and the Battle for Melo are both long behind us.  While the first official game isn't until November 1st, the modern Battle for Brooklyn and the greater city is upon us.  Sometime late next Thursday afternoon, the New York Knicks in all likelihood will traverse the Manhattan Bridge and file down Flatbush Avenue.  Their destination will be Barclays Center, to engage the Brooklyn Nets on their home court for the first time in history.

First, Brooklyn and New York will return to the site of the Nets organization's greatest triumphs to date.  Wednesday's pre-season game will be played in Long Island's Nassau Coliseum; the arena where the once formerly New York Nets won two American Basketball Association championships.  Those were the days of Julius Erving, more popularly known as Dr. J.  This trip into Long Island also hearkens back to the days when the Knicks imposed not one, but two territorial rights tariffs against the Nets.  On top of paying the NBA entrance fee once the NBA/ABA merger took effect, the Nets were also forced to pay the Knicks their due tax for entry into the local market.  The Knicks nailed them again for the Nets subsequent move into New Jersey.

This time, the Nets relocated to the 4th largest city in America, which just also happens to be right next door, and the Knicks weren't entitled to a dime.  Conveniently forgotten, if not ignored, Brooklyn is the western tip of Long Island.  So I guess in a manner of speaking, the cycle is complete.

If you're headed to the Nassau Coliseum and get overwhelmed by a waft of Tiger Balm, that would be the Knicks you smell.  When you write names on paper, they have a great team.  In truth, I think the Knicks are in deep trouble.  They have more senior citizens on the books than AARP.  Amare and Camby are already out.  And Rasheed Wallace, is back (!?) and out as well.  The only real question is - Who's next?  My money is on Jason Kidd having to swipe his Medicaid card.

Having Amare off the floor only makes Melo's world better anyway.  Right?  That used to be the case.  The return of Ray Felton and the arrival of Jason Kidd should change that.  Amare and Melo no longer need to learn how to exist together.  The Knicks have two guards who will decide things for them.  I'm even looking for Felton and Kidd to elevate Tyson Chandler's offensive game as well.

The Knicks biggest concern is now health, and lack of youth.  Coach Woodson is going to have to manage his team very carefully.  The Knicks actually have a few players who want to play defense now.  But how long will they manage to stay on the court?

In their first pre-season as the Brooklyn Nets, the team is also not without their problems.  While cohesiveness is still going to be a work in progress, their defense is far below Coach Avery's standards.  Based on their overall play so far, who could blame Coach for voicing displeasure after allowing 100 points in three of five games.  Despite a 3-2 record, the Nets have allowed 510 points, for a 102 ppg average.  They have scored 484 points, for a 96.8 ppg average.  I would also venture to say the team's overall free throw shooting needs major improvement as well.  But hey, that's why it's called practice.

Tonight, the Battle for the City begins.  Let's get it on!


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

New York Giants: Skins Rack Up Yardage Against Defense

From the desk of:   DO IT FOR THE DUKE

NEW YORK GIANTS FOOTBALL: When The Giants Finish Viewing The Game Film, They Should All Stick Around And Watch It Again.

The Redskins Beat The Redskins.  Eli And Cruz Merely Sealed The Deal.

Washington's Alfred Morris, Robert Griffin, Darrel Young, and Aldrick Robinson all averaged over five yards per carry against the Giants.  Alfred Morris ran twenty two times for 122 yards.  That was concerning enough.  Even more destructive were RG3's eighty nine yards on nine scrambles.  He had a long of twenty eight yards.  Additionally, the Skins gained eleven first downs via the run.  The Giants ran for just four first downs.

With six more plays from scrimmage than the Giants, the Redskins racked up 480 yards of offense. A little more than half their yardage (258) came through the air, while the balance came on the ground.

All I can say is thank goodness for turnovers.  The Giants caused five fumbles.  They recovered three of them, and intercepted Robert-III once.  Osi, Justin Tuck, and JPP all recorded sacks as well.  It was the second consecutive week they collectively buzzed the quarterback.  Otherwise, it is hard damn work trying to reconcile giving up 248 yards on the ground to Washington.  We are now left with the effort against the 49ers and this last game against the Skins as parameters.  Somewhere in between lies the Giants defense.

Better yet, thank goodness for Eli and Victor Cruuuuuz!  Despite a generally bad day by Manning, a play like the one he and Cruz connected on to end the game can make more than just a few people forget how porous the team played on defense.

The Giants had three sacks, Chris Canty returned to duty, and the linebackers, Michael Boley, Chase Blackburn, and Keith Rivers led the Giants in tackles.  So what gives?  Robert-III completed twenty of twenty eight passes.  That helps.  And as mentioned above, his eighty nine yards on the ground didn't help either.  Robert Griffin was his own downfall however.  An interception and a fumble were ultimately too much for the kid to overcome.

On that note, no body better fall asleep when they review the game film.  The Giants have much to address before facing Dallas again.  When they finish the game film, they should stay and watch it again.


Monday, October 22, 2012

New York Giants: Gilbride - Simon Bar Sinister Strikes Again

From the desk of:   DO IT FOR THE DUKE

NEW YORK GIANTS FOOTBALL:  In The Case Between Ahmad Bradshaw And Coach Coughlin, All You Need Is Love.

You know what to call that exchange between Ahmad Bradshaw and Coach Coughlin?  I call it love.  The two have been through a lot of battles together.  The Giants feature back was no doubt relying on the equity he has built with his head coach over the last five-plus years.  The Tom Coughlin of six and seven years ago wouldn't have let that fly.  Then again, this wasn't exactly Tiki Barber accusing his coach of being horribly out coached.  This was a case of a running back wanting the Giants to run the ball more so than they did against the Redskins to that point.  So no harm no foul.  And that's the way everyone on the team treated the situation too.

Granted, Ahmad did act as if not rushing for 100 yards was going to lose him a side bet or something. But let us remember for a second, Big Buddy is no longer here to keep Little Buddy's emotions under wraps.  Brandon Jacobs did that well.  In fact, they served each other very well in that regard.  So this is in effect Ahmad Bradshaw's first season unplugged.  Demanding more from his team mates is something a two time Super Bowl champion should be doing.  It just happened to manifest itself in slapping Victor Cruz upside the helmet, and losing his bearing with Coach.  Hey.....

Ahmad Bradshaw is far from being problematic.  So why should we, or I, take issue with Sunday's incident.  As long as Coach remains alpha-male in the room, it's all good.  What was problematic, were the Washington Redskins.

Coming off two weeks in which Ahmad rushed for over 300 yards, I get Bradshaw's point.  Fact is, the Washington Redskins forced the Giants into abandoning the run.  Subtract Eli's two scrambles for four yards, and Big Blue only rushed the ball seventeen times all game; eight times in the first half, and nine times in second.  Meanwhile, in an otherwise horrible effort, Eli put up forty passes in trying to keep Big Blue in the game.  In the process, he threw two interceptions.  Coach Gilbride was already calling a short passing game anyway.  So yeah, why not run more?

I do not know if the Giants anticipated that kind of defensive effort against the run.  In fairness to Coach Gilbride however, I get what he was doing too.  This game was actually right out of the old Mike Ditka era Bears play book - keep it short, keep it short, keep it short.  Once Ditka suckered the defense in, he then had Jim McMahon unleash a bomb to Willie Gault late in the game.  Whether by the run or short pass, I guess the result is all that matters.

Coach Gilbride did not resort to throwing hey makers early in the game like I though he might. But nor did he try establishing the run early.  Instead he loaded up on a short passing game in the first half.  He left the hey maker for the very last.  Simon Bar Sinister strikes again.

Other Stuff:  David Wilson did not get to run the ball from scrimmage.  Ahmad Bradshaw rushed the ball twelve times.  Andre Brown carried five times.  I thought this last game would have been a good week to get Wilson a nice package of reps.  Coach thought otherwise.  In four kick returns, he totaled 106 yards with a long of thirty two.


Saturday, October 20, 2012

New York Giants: Is Offensive Line Better Without David Diehl?

From the desk of:   DO IT FOR THE DUKE

Big Blue Has A Giant Decision To Make On Offensive Line.
This Is A Good Week To Let David Wilson Be The Feature Back.
Kevin Gilbride Versus Redskins - Bombs Away?
Mission: Take Advantage Of Back-To-Back Division Games!

While Big Blue sports an overall 4-2 record this season, they are 0-2 within the division.  The Giants will have to wait for later in the season to square up with Philly.  Next week, they'll get their chance to even up against the Cowboys in Dallas.  First, there is the matter of RG3 and the Redskins.  If you do not remember, Washington swept the Giants last year and damn nearly pulled the rug out from under their season.  This year, the Redskins along with Philly both sport 3-3 records.  The Giants can either win this week and next, and by virtue of righting some wrongs, take a mid-season strangle hold on the division.  Or, they can lose to the Skins again, and make things very complicated for themselves.  For if you're a Giants fan, you know success makes the team break out in a rash.  For what ever reason, they do not handle prosperity very well.  Making things difficult has become a way of life around here.

The biggest question I have heading into Sunday is not how the Giants plan on stopping RG3.  Instead, I'm curious to see if Kevin Gilbride will open the game with hey makers down field, or try and establish the run early.  Based on the last few games, the running game has been working very well behind good blocking by the offensive line.  Last week for the first time this season, the Giants ran the ball more times than Eli passed.  It would stand to reason Coach Gilbride would continue letting his offensive line build confidence and momentum.

This is precisely why I think Kevin Gilbride is going deep, and going deep often.  Based on the division scenario described above, and because the Giants did indeed lose twice to Washington last season, and because Kevin Gilbride smells win number five like blood in the water, he will be going for the kill early.  Quick points and an early lead means the defensive line can then tee-off on RG3 and all that stuff he does.  Then, the Giants can turn to the run and play ball possession.  Those would be two ways to minimize Washington's offense.  Coach Fewell can take care of the rest.

Of course, I could be wrong.

There is no question Ahmad Bradshaw is tough, and plays hurt.  He's had bad feet for years.  Ahmad did not practice Friday, and is listed as questionable for Sunday, which means he will most likely play.  But perhaps David Wilson should finally get a majority of snaps this week, not necessarily because Bradshaw is a little banged up, but because Wilson has worked hard to earn a shot. And then, yea, Ahmad could use the break.  Besides, Wilson's type of speed may be just what the doctor ordered against Washington.  Forget what he has done on kick returns.  Since his infamous fumble in Week One, David Wilson is averaging over five yards per carry rushing the ball.  In the last two weeks he has gained seventy nine yards on seven carries.

Can it be the offensive line is better without David Diehl?  I'm not trying to slight him or anything.  Consider the Giants allowed three sacks to (Dallas) Demarcus Ware in Week One, David Diehl went down in Week Two, they allowed two more sacks against Carolina in Week Three, then nothing since.  In Week One, the Giants rushed for eighty two yards.  In Week Two, they rushed for ninety six yards.  After David Diehl went down, the Giants broke 100 yards rushing three times, highlighted by Ahmad Bradshaw's 200 yard day against the Browns.  In the last four games, the Giants have racked up 572 yards rushing.  From left to right, Will Beatty, Kevin Boothe, David Baas, Chris Snee, and Sean Locklear have flat out been getting the job done.  David Diehl does not appear to be resuming his starting role this week.  He only saw light action against the Niners.  But when he is healthy enough to start again, Big Blue has a Giant decision to make.


Friday, October 19, 2012

PIGSKIN 2012: Football Sunday - Week Seven

Football Sunday
SCHMEAR of the WEEK: 3-3
BAGELS in the BASKET: -7
* Hey Joe Flacco, you wanted to be leader of the team?  Now is your chance.  Good luck without a defense.
* Battle for the AFC North is on!  See Steelers/Bengals game.  Despite a 5-1 record, the Ravens will start falling like a piano out of the sky.
* The Jets and Cowboys seasons are at a crucible.  If the Cowboys had Rex Ryan, and, or, the Jets had just some of the Cowboys talent, both would be Super Bowl contenders.
GIANTS -6 (Redskins)
LOSS; 27-23 Giants
PATRIOTS -10 (Jets)
No Revis; a defense that doesn't sack the quarterback; an opponent not named the Colts; playing on the road... - The Jets are in for a long day.
LOSS; 29-26 Patriots
Titans +3 (BILLS)
This game deserves few words.  Neither team has any defense to speak of.  The team with the ball last, wins.  I smell a push.
WIN; 35-34 Titans
Cardinals +6 (VIKINGS)
I'm partially pissed off the Vikings let me down last week.  Man I hate them.  I finally give them some respect and they fold like a cheap poker table.  I like the Cards to win regardless.
LOSS; 21-14 Vikings
Browns +2 1/2 (COLTS)
The Browns played the Giants tougher than the Colts played against the Jets.  Flawed logic?  Give me the points.
LOSS; 17-13 Colts
TEXANS -6 1/2 (Ravens)
No Ray Lewis.  That's tough.  But Baltimore hasn't been able to stop anyone this season anyway.  They have defensive players getting hurt left and right.  They are giving up damn near 400 yards per game.  If Houston doesn't run the ball through them, they will throw the ball over them.
WIN; 43-13 Texans
Packers -5 1/2 (Rams)
I know the Rams defense has played surprisingly well.  But didn't you already think the Packers would cover this game anyway, especially after Aaron Rogers' break out game last week?
WIN; 30-20 Packers
Cowboys -2 (PANTHERS)
I'd love to say the Cowboys are falling apart like wet toilet paper.  Oh, they will disappoint their fans this season, without a doubt.  And they deserve to be gutted as a team.  But they are still good enough to win Sunday.  This spread is just right - little confidence, but just enough.
WIN; 19-14 Cowboys
Saints -3 (BUCS)
The Saints have let everyone march right in.  What the hell is up with their defense?  The Bucs beat up on the Chiefs last week.  I can't put much stock in that.  Perhaps the Saints win a high scoring shoot-out. 
WIN; 35-28 Saints
RAIDERS -4 (Jaguars)
Welcome to the week seven Toilet Bowl.  I'm actually looking for the Raiders to win by much more than four points.
LOSS; 26-23 Raiders
Steelers -2 (BENGALS) - Sunday Night
See the Vikings.  I'm tired of giving the Bengals respect and then getting burned.  I'm also tired of thinking the Bengals really stink, and getting burned.  I'm just tired of the Bengals, the Browns, and this whole division!
WIN; 24-17 Steelers
SCHMEAR of the WEEK:  3-4
BAGELS in the BASKET:  -9
Happy Football Sunday everyone!