Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Happy Holidays

From My Family To Yours,
Have a Very Merry Christmas!


Saturday, December 21, 2013

LIU Blackbirds Routed By Temple Owls At Barclays Center

From the desk of:  THE HOOPS OF FLATBUSH

Saturday Final:
Temple Owls     101
LIU Blackbirds  65


Saturday, Barclays Center hosted a battle of the birds.  The LIU Blackbirds made the short trek south along Flatbush Avenue to host the Temple Owls.

Apparently, old habits are hard to break.  Despite last meeting over 40 years ago, Temple nonetheless picked up where they left off, securing their fourth victory in four attempts over the Blackbirds.  Here for the Brooklyn Hoops Holiday Invitational, The Owls were not kind about it either.  Patrons of the Kings County arena were witness to a rout.  Temple dismantled host LIU/Brooklyn by a 101-65 margin.

Little went right for the Blackbirds.  In fact, the numbers are sickly.  LIU was outscored 38-22 in the first half, and 63-43 in the second half.  At one point, Temple led by as many as 45 points, and collectively outscored LIU 38-20 in the paint.

In the first half, LIU shot just 23.8%, and for the game, shot a miserable 28.8% from the floor on just 17/59 shooting.  Ditto from beyond the arch, managing just 5/26, for 19.2% shooting.

The Owls dissected LIU with 22 assists, versus just 9 for LIU.  Jason Brickman, who tied for game high, had 6 of them.  Gerrell Martin was the only other LIU starter to record an assist.  Off the bench, Glenn Feidanga and D.J. Griggs recorded one each.

Gerrell Martin and E.J. Reed both tied for the team lead with 13 points.  With ten points, Troy Joseph was the only other Blackbird to score in double-digits.  Jason Brickman finished with nine.  E.J. Reed also pulled down a game high 12 rebounds.

LIU played most of the second half without starter Landon Atterberry, who fouled out after totaling just 7 minutes of play, and Glenn Feidanga, who fouled out as well.

All five Temple starters scored in double digits, led by Dalton Pepper's game high 26 points, who shot 10/12 from the field, and 6/8 from beyond the three.  Pepper also pulled down 10 rebounds, all on the defensive glass.

The LIU Blackbirds record now stands at a 4-7, with two more out of conference games left to play in December, both in the Lone Star State, versus South Houston State, and Texas State.  While the situation is far from dire, there is hope for the Blackbirds season yet.  The team expects sixth year senior forward Julian Boyd to make his return from injury in January, hopefully in time to begin their conference schedule.


Brooklyn Nets: It Just Got Worse; Brook Lopez Suffers Broken Foot

From the desk of:  THE HOOPS OF FLATBUSH

Another Bad Break;
Brook Lopez' Career Continues To Be Haunted By Injuries.

Back To The Drawing Board For Jason Kidd.
Kevin Garnett Must Now Fill A Role
He Was Not Acquired To Play.

More and more it seems Brook Lopez and Deron Williams were destined to never play together.  I'm starting to believe that.  The mailman brought bad news this morning.  The ballerina brothers have been separated once again.

Brook Lopez', the Brooklyn Nets' and their fan's worse nightmare has been realized.  The team's top scorer is down, and will likely miss the rest of the season with a fractured foot, the same right foot and ankle, that has plagued, if not ruined, the center's short career.

The initial damage may have come against the Clippers, when Brook left the game in the third quarter after rolling his ankle.  He then missed the Detroit Pistons game, and returned Friday to face the Sixers, when it is believed he once again fractured his three-time surgically repaired foot.  Lopez played the entire game.

Without Brook Lopez, the Nets bench depth will now play a starting role.  Andray Blatche will lead the M*A*S*H unit, backed up by Mason Plumlee and Reggie Evans.  I do hope the rotation settles in that way.  In fact, I would even suggest Plumlee should start, so as to continue having Andray Blatche coming off the bench together with Paul Pierce, which is a role Blatche has been most effective playing since his arrival.  After an education under Coach K at Duke, Plumlee will at least play a fundamentally sound game, and adds athleticism on the floor.

Andrei Kirilenko may yet become a factor this season, but the biggest x-factor becomes Kevin Garnett, who may slide over to center, while the others fill in at power forward.  That's not necessarily good news, considering Garnett missed Friday's game for sake of rest.  Brooklyn now desperately needs a little more of the old KG, or at least the one who averaged 15 points and 8 rebounds a game during his last five years in Boston.

That's a questionable proposition, and unfortunate, because Garnett was not brought here to fill that roll.  He was supposed to be a supplementary player, and a mentor to Brook Lopez.  Without trying to be critical, what the Nets got over the first 1/4 season was a Kevin Garnett that looked like the player who contemplated retirement prior to being acquired by Billy King.  Garnett is averaging 6.5 points and 7.2 rebounds in 22 minutes for Brooklyn.  A small increase in minutes, and just 10 points per game would greatly help the Nets at this juncture.

Any way you shake it, the Nets must account for Brook Lopez' 20 ppg average, and need more than just the big back-ups chipping in.  For as well as he's been this season, Joe Johnson must now take extra special precautions to ensure he stays relevant.  The Nets can not afford to have Johnson  disappear for quarters, halves, and games at a time, similar to last season.  Mister Big Shot must now factor all the time.

Two more factors loom large.  Jason Kidd was only beginning to reap the benefits of his post-Lawrence Frank decision to move the ball through Brook Lopez.  The new offensive scheme also substantially benefitted Joe Johnson's style of play, while having Paul Pierce coming off the bench worked better than imagined.  Now it's back to the drawing board for Coach Kidd, who has to rethink everything yet again.

Of course, once again all fingers point to Deron Williams.  While D-Will has always been looked upon as this team's star, Brook Lopez without a doubt buttered this team's bread.  Williams will need to exert his presence on the floor, unlike perhaps, he has so far while playing for Brooklyn.  That's been mentioned before, but it's true.  If the Nets need just a little of the old KG to get them through this crisis, then Deron Williams needs to recapture a measure of his star play from Utah again, and quick.  To his credit, Williams has played very well since returning from his own ankle injury, but now his team needs more.


Friday, December 20, 2013

Brooklyn Nets: Evan Turner Bobs And Weaves Sixers To Overtime TKO

From the desk of:  THE HOOPS OF FLATBUSH

Stand And Fall

BROOKLYN NETS: Evan Turner Dribbled Through The Defense Like They Were Orange Traffic Cones.

Get ball, dribble around four trees donned in Nets jerseys, attempt a floating lay-up with time expiring, and win game. That's exactly what Philadelphia's Evan Turner did.  It was literally that simple.   So much for brotherly love.

Paul Pierce's trey put the Nets ahead 120-119 with 0:16 left in overtime.  After Tuner had an initial shot attempt blocked, Philly maintained possession with 0:06 left.  Turner received the near side inbound pass, and shake-n-baked his way around the left elbow extended, then bowed back into the paint for a lay-up, which could have easily been whistled for an offensive charge.  But no such luck - no whistle - and no time left - the buzzer sounded on Brooklyn's venture into Philadelphia. Nets lose by a 121-120 final.

Just like that, the night went, crush.

Flatbush played without the services of Joe Johnson, and Kevin Garnett.  Even without them, they still scored enough points to win, just like they did against Washington.  But just like against the  Wizards, the Nets were overwhelmed on the glass.  The Sixers outrebounded Brooklyn 49-36, which helped provide Philly with fifteen more field goal attempts than the Nets.  Offensively, it was essentially one shot and done for Brooklyn, who managed just 5 offensive rebounds, while the 76ers cleaned up with 37 defensive rebounds.

The Nets three-point shooting, and their ability to get to the line were what kept them in this game.  But their non-existent interior defense is what ultimately failed them.  More than half of Philadelphia's total points came in the paint.  To be exact, the Nets allowed 66 points in the paint, with none bigger than Evan Turner's pair to end it.  All told, Philadelphia outscored Brooklyn 102-84 from the field.

Evan Turner posted a triple-double.  He led all scorers with 29 points, and issued 10 assists, and pulled down 10 rebounds.

Coach Kidd stuck with an eight-man rotation.  Four Nets starters eclipsed 40-minutes.  Deron Williams posted his own double-double, his second straight, leading all players with 14 assists, while scoring 17 points.  Deron was only 5/12 from the field, but was the only Net to get to the free throw line with any regularity.  Alan Anderson led the Nets with 26-points, followed by 24 from Paul Pierce, who was back in a starting role this game, and also led the team with 10 rebounds.  Shaun Livingston issued 11 assists off the bench.

The loss drops the Nets to 9-17, and 4-10 away from Brooklyn.


PIGSKIN 2013; Football Sunday - Week Sixteen

Football Sunday
Week Sixteen
Week Fifteen Record:  6-7-1
Overall Record:  91-94-9
Schmear of the Week:  10-5
Bagels in the Basket:  +3
* Two weeks left!  The race for the second Wild Card in each conference is on.
* Who thinks the New England Patriots are in big trouble?  Who thinks the Broncos, with that defense, are in trouble.  Early prediction - I say the Super Bowl winner comes from the NFC.
AFC - Miami Dolphins/Baltimore Ravens.
NFC - San Francisco 49ers.
AFC - San Diego Chargers, Pittsburgh Steelers.
NFC - The window is closing on the Arizona Cardinals, and slamming shut on the Dallas Cowboys, Green Bay Packers, and Detroit Lions.
Week 15 Recap....Look how the Dallas Cowboys choked...., again!
Friday Line ~ NYDN
LIONS -9 (Giants)
The Lions are physical, and now they're desperate too.  That's bad news for the busted Giants.  When it rains, it pours.
Browns +2 (JETS)
It doesn't matter.  You know the routine.  Whatever I pick regarding the Browns, go the other way.
Dolphins -3 (BILLS)
The Fish are feeling themselves.  The Bills won't do enough.
PANTHERS -3 (Saints)
Panthers will continue taking advantage of the Jekyll/Hyde Saints outside the dome.
Cowboys -3 (REDSKINS HOGS)
Turnover Romo will have his best game of the season, only to set the Cowboys up for another colossal fail in Week Seventeen.  This team is the gift that keeps giving.  BTW, too much drama going on for the Skins.
RAMS -5 1/2 (Bucs)
The Rams deserve a bone after last week.
Bears +3 (EAGLES)
This is the stay away game of the week.  This should be a pick 'em.  Go with Philly's woes at home.
CHIEFS -7 (Colts)
The education of Andrew Luck continues.
BENGALS -7 (Vikings)
Instead of a meltdown at home, the Bengals just might be serious this season.  Prove it!
Broncos -11 (TEXANS)
Even Jacksonville has more wins than the Texans.  From being a pre-season SB contender, to just being an NFL afterthought - an historic drop.
Titans -5 1/2 (JAGUARS)
A case of too late.  The Titans showed flickers this season, but ultimately failed to spark.  They will win out of pride. 
SEAHAWKS -10 1/2 (Cardinals) 
Larry Fitzgerald did not practice all week, due to suffering a concussion in Week 15.  Playing in Seattle is hard enough as it is.
CHARGERS -10 (Raiders)
Once again, go with the desperate team.
Steelers +2 1/2 (PACKERS) ** NYDN had NL/OFF ~ NYPost Line in lieu.
Big Ben plays well in cold weather.
RAVENS -2 1/2 (Patriots)
Adversity has arrived at the Patriots doorstep.

Schmear of the Week:
Chargers -10

Grilled hens stuffed with wild rice.  What's on your football menu?

Good luck, and have a Happy Football Sunday everyone.


N.Y. Knicks: Team Almost Unraveled In Chandler's Absence

From the desk of:  DUTCH PANTS CAN'T JUMP

NEW YORK KNICKS: Tyson Chandler's Return Came Just In Time To Possibly Save Coach Woodson From Himself.

Tyson Chandler couldn't have returned a game too soon.  Playing without him, and continued play without an effective point guard have weighed heavily on this team, to the point it all almost unraveled in the aftermath of a brutal loss against Washington.  Time-Out Gate, and the inquisition that followed could very well have been the end of Mike Woodson, right then and there.

Who knows what he was thinking, or not thinking at that moment?  It doesn't matter, because the lasting impression will be that Coach was unprepared for the closing moment of their game against the Wizards.  Afterwards, players pointed fingers as if identifying a locker room perp from a line-up.  But I think Coach himself exacerbated the situation, by bringing his former pupil, and current Nets sharpshooter, Joe Johnson into the conversation.  That's a huge no-no, and Woodson has to know that, especially in the realm of Dolan.  Secondly, he took an indirect, direct shot at his guy, his mule, Carmelo Anthony, who was actually first to hurl Coach under the bus by not standing up for him.

If winning cures all, or most all, then losing is a disease that can spread quickly throughout the system, if not diagnosed early and treated properly.  In the Knicks case, Tyson Chandler was just what the doctor ordered.  He played big minutes in his first game back.  The fact the Knicks  rebounded after the Wizards debacle, to defeat Milwaukee, coupled with Tyson's return, is all you need to know.  The Knicks missed him immeasurably.

Chandler will at least start changing the general conversation, and at a minimum, restore order in the paint.  Chandler is however, unlikely to get Woodson off J.R. Smith's and Iman Shumpert's back, or mediate the difference of opinion between Coach and Amare on Twitter.  Furthermore, that stunt Pablo Prigioni pulled against Milwaukee further demonstrates how little everybody's heads are in the game right now.  Getting back to Shump, he one scored one point in 31 minutes against the Bucks.  That's ponderous.

A legitimate point guard could clean up the remaining mess and confusion on the floor.


N.Y. Rangers vs. N.Y. Islanders; The Rivalry - Game 2

From the desks of:
Rangers Lead Series 1-0
I - NYR 3; NYI 2
NYR  16-17-2  34 points
NYI     9-19-7  25 points
New York Islanders
Madison Square Garden
33rd Street & 8th Avenue
New York Islanders:  Let's Just Say Things Are Not Going According to Plan.
After giving the Pittsburgh Penguins all they could handle in last year's playoffs, the Islanders short term future was looking brighter than is had in some time.  But after getting off to a 2-1 start this season, the wheels promptly fell off.  The Islanders season has so far been marked by horrific losing streaks.  They have won back to back games only once this season.  Instead, they have launched losing skids of three games, two games, two games, and then a four gamer.  On November 9th, the Islanders followed up an uplifting victory over the Detroit Red Wings, with a loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs, then went on to lose nine more consecutive games.  The Isles finally ended the streak with a shoot-out victory in San Jose, but no sooner took another step back, entering tonight's game losers of their last three consecutive games.
So far, Garth Snow's acquisition of Thomas Vanek has been a complete wash, if not disappointing.  In 19 games with the Isles, Vanek has 6 goals, and 7 assists, for 13 points.  Entering Friday's game, Vanek has one point; an assist; in his last three games.  Matt Moulson, coincidentally, also has 6 goals, and 7 assists, for an identical 13 points in 21 games played.
For several years, John Tavares and Matt Moulson teamed up to form 2/3 of the top line in the metropolitan area.  If Snow was so intent on breaking them up, he should have looked into shoring up his blue line, or sought to acquire an upgrade in net.  The Islanders are currently 29th in the NHL in goals against.
Goalie Ryan Miller will become a free agent in the coming off-season.  The Islanders need to find money and sign him.
With a 9-19-7 record, the Islanders currently reside in last place of the Metropolitan Division.  They enter tonight's match with open wounds suffered in Tuesday's brutal loss against the Tampa Bay Lightning.  Kyle Okposo gave the Isle a 1-0 lead in the 2nd period, then Frans Nielsen gave them a 2-0 lead at 10:21 of the 3rd.  They could not however, keep Tampa down.  At 17:07, the Lightning struck with a Valterri Filppula goal.  Then, the heartbreaker came at 19:56 of regulation.  Just four second from an Islander victory, Valterri Filppula scored his second goal in under three minutes to tie the game at two.  The teams played a scoreless overtime, and then Tampa won the shoot-out by a 2-1 margin.
New York Rangers: The King Is Under Siege.
The Rangers know exactly how that feels.  A sorely depleted Pittsburgh Penguins entered MSG Tuesday night, and took the initial lead midway through the 2nd period.  Slightly less then three minutes later, Carl Hagelin scored on a brilliant breakaway opportunity between the circles.
Early in the 3rd session, Pittsburgh went double barrel, on goals from Pascal Dupuis and Brandon Sutter within a minute of each other.  But at 12:43, MatZuccs closed the gap to within a goal.  Then, the home crowd's reward - at 18:14, Derick Brassard scored on a power play, to tie the game at three.
The team's played a scoreless overtime, and into shoot-out they went.  With no outcome after three rounds, on they went, but not too much longer.  Brandon Sutter factored again, beating Henrik Lundqvist in the 5th round of shoot-out to win the game for Pittsburgh.  The loss pushed the Blue Shirts back under .500 again, who now sport a 16-17-2 record entering tonight's match.
The Rangers also know a thing or two about streaks as well.  Prior to meeting PITT, the Rangers defeated Calgary, however preceded that with a four game losing streak.  The Rangers are 2-6 this month, and have been outscored by a 29-19 margin.  They are at least a single-digit midget in something.  The Blue Shirts rank 7th in the NHL on the penalty kill.
There is no way to say this with tact, so, here - after signing his extension, Henrik Lundqvist has sucked.  The Rangers goalie will turn 32 years old this coming March.  He sports a 3.36 GAA this season in games the Rangers lost, along with an .880 save percentage.  Those are foreign numbers to Henrik.
Henrik Lundqvist owns a career .920 SV%, and a 2.27 GAA, but has struggled mightily in his 9th season, unlike any before in eight previous years off-Broadway.  His current 2.71 GAA, is by far his highest mark, and is plus-28 over his career worst 2.43 mark set during the 2008-09 season.  Henrik's current .908 SV% so far stands as a career low.  Lundqvist posted a career low .912 SV%  back during the 2007-08 season, but has not dipped below .920% in the last four seasons.
And...., fire Glen Sather.  That is all.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

LIU Blackbirds: Gerrell Martin Nails Buzzer Beater, Gives Flatbush Victory

From the desk of:  THE HOOPS OF FLATBUSH

Brooklyn Buzzer Beater!

LAMAR      79
Blackbirds   82

LIU/BROOKLYN BLACKBIRDS: Gerrell Martin Buries Three-Pointer With 0:01, To Raise The Roof On The Ashland Place Gymnasium.

The Blackbirds trailed by eight points at the half versus the Cardinals of Lamar, but turned the tables with a 48-37 second half, to gain victory in their return to the Ashland Place Gym.

LIU led for the first ten minutes, until Lamar tied the game 14-14.  The Blackbirds were up again 25-23 with 6:30 to go, then Lamar buried a pair of three-pointers to pull ahead by a 29-25 score.  They outscored LIU 13-9 to close out the half, earning a 42-34 advantage.

The Blackbirds opened the second half on a 12-4 run, to tie the game at 46-46, with 16:02 to go.  When LIU fell behind again, Jason Brickman's free throws tied the game at 57-57, with 10:13 to play.  After a three-pointer at the other end, E.J. Reed buried a three of his own for LIU, knotting the score again at 60-60.  Things remained close down the stretch, but Brooklyn maintained a 22-19 lead over the final stretch of the game.

Four of five LIU starters scored in double-digits, led by E.J. Reed's 19 points.  Jason Brickman went double-double, with 12 assists, and 17 points.  Landon Atterberry matched Jason with 17 points, and tied with Troy Joseph with a team high 6 rebounds.  In the waning minutes, Gerrell Martin became the deciding factor.  He scored 12 points on the night, but 8 of those came in a flurry with under four minutes to go.

A brutal LIU turnover led to Lamar's Nimrod Hilliard's layup, which tied the game 79-79, with just 0:05 left on the clock.  Then with time expiring, Jason Brickman promptly fed Gerrell Martin at the other end, who nailed a jumper from beyond the arch, to give LIU a last second, 82-79 victory.

LIU improved to 4-6 on the season, while the Lamar Cardinals dropped to a 1-9 record.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Brooklyn Nets Get Tenderized On Boards; Hit Another Wall In Loss To Wizards

From the desk of:  THE HOOPS OF FLATBUSH

Wizards   113
NETS       107

BROOKLYN NETS: Washington Conducts Board Meeting In Barclays Center.  John Wall Wraps Up His Business In NYC.

Look what John Wall did to you..., again.

Were the Washington Wizards supposed to be a better team than Brooklyn this season?  Or, in Vegas speak, a five point prohibitive favorite?  In two meetings this season, the Wizards have outdone the Nets by a combined 225-215 score.  The first meeting went into overtime, while this most recent game wreaked of garbage time.

No, really.  The Nets got outrebounded by a woeful 32-5 margin on the offensive boards.  At the other end, the Nets pulled down 26 defensive rebounds, but allowed Washington 19 offensive rebounds.  As a result, the Wizards took 14 more shots from the field than Brooklyn, and had seven players score in double digits.  The Nets were outrebounded 51-31 in all.

Otherwise, each team inflicted relative equal damage from behind the arch and from the free throw line.  The Nets even shot 52.7% from the field, and still lost.  Deron Williams notched another double-double with 13 assists and 15 points, in 42 minutes.  Joe Johnson scored 20, and Brook Lopez, back after missing a pair of games, dropped in 22 points.  Paul Pierce even led all scorers with 27 points in 35 minutes off the bench.  But when Joe Johnson of all people, leads the Nets with 7 rebounds, you know they did something wrong.  Rebounding was supposed to be this team's forte - just not against the Wizards.

The guys charged with cleaning up on the boards, totaled ten rebounds - Brook Lopez had 5, Kevin Garnett had 4, and Andray Blatche had one!  Pierce and Johnson combined on 13 boards.

John Wall concluded his feast on New York City teams.  He scored 21 points to lead the Wizards, while center Marcin Gortat led all players with 10 rebounds.  Trevor Booker tied Deron Williams with 13 assists.  In the first encounter of the season, John Wall dished a game high 14 assists, and scored 17 points.  Marcin Gortat pulled down 12 rebounds and scored 15 points.  That's a trend folks.  And on Monday night, Wall dropped 20 points and 8 assists against the Knicks at the Garden.

The Nets dropped to 9-16 on the season, but are still 4-2 in the last six.  Next, Brooklyn will visit Philadelphia on Friday night.


Today On Rising Apple: Podcast Ep. #51 - Hosted By...Me

Today On

 ...and I hosted - My first time.  I was a little nervous..., but had fun.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Brooklyn Nets: Joe Johnson Rains On Sixers; Flatbush Wins In A Rout

From the desk of:  THE HOOPS OF FLATBUSH

Double-Double Man Returns!
Philadelphia    94
Brooklyn        130

BROOKLYN NETS: Team Sets Franchise Mark For Shooting Pct., While Joe Johnson Rains Down 10-Three Pointers, And Scores 37-Points Against Sixers.

Nothin' but net - no really, Joe Johnson hit nothing but net.  The man was spot on Monday night, burying 13/20 shots from the field, and nailed a thrilling 10/14 from three point range, with nary a clank of rim.  He scored a game high 37 points in all, and for good measure, added 7 rebounds and 5 assists.  Twenty-nine of his points came the third quarter.

The Barclays Center also saw the triumphant return of Double-Double Man, Deron Williams, who finished the night with 13 points and 13 assists.  He gave many in attendance and watching on TV quite a scare, when he pulled up lame after what appeared to be another misstep, and winced in a measure of pain.  But he walked it off, and shortly, was running the floor once again.

Six Nets scored in double-digits during a 130-94 destruction of the Philadelphia 76ers.  Mirza Teletovic made a rare start, and dropped 11 points in 27 minutes, and pulled down 5 rebounds.  Alan Anderson matched Deron Williams with 13 points.

Off the bench, Paul Pierce added 14 points, while Andray Blatche continued his strong play with 20 points in 25 minutes, and 5 rebounds.  In his last three games, Blatche is averaging 28 minutes, 20.3 points, and 8.6 rebounds.

The Nets shot a franchise record, 60.3% from the field, on 47/48 shooting.  They were equally deadly from three point range, shooting 21/35, for an even 60%.

The Nets have now won 4 of their last 5 games, and improved to 9-15 overall.

Still hobbled by his latest ankle injury suffered against the Clippers, Brook Lopez sat out his second straight game.


Monday, December 16, 2013

Today For Rising Apple: The Emerging 25-Man Roster, And Caribbean Leagues Update

Here's My Latest For


Senior Staff Writer/ Rising Apple

N.Y. Giants: Eli Manning Continues To Re-Write Giants Record Books

From the desk of:  DO IT FOR THE DUKE

I want to scream too!
Everyone Shares Blame For This Season.
The Giants Do Not Necessarily Suffer From A Coaching Problem,
Or An Eli Manning Problem.  Jerry Reese Had Personnel Issues.

NEW YORK GIANTS FOOTBALL: I've Been Here Before.  Others Need To Learn How To Deal With It.

Eli Manning continues to re-write the Giants record books.  I'm not old enough to have seen Charlie Connerly play.  I do perhaps remember every one of Phil Simms' interceptions though.  And I also remember Jeff Rutledge, the quarterback who formerly owned the Giants record for most INTs in a game all to himself.  With Sunday's performance, Eli eclipsed Charlie Connerly, and Rutledge now has company.

With five interceptions against the Seattle Seahawks, Eli tied Jeff Rutledge's mark, who first accomplished the dubious feat back during the 1987 strike season.  And now with 169, Eli Manning owns the Giants all-time record for interceptions, breaking the record of 167 formerly held by Charlie Connerly.

In the first game of the season, Eli threw four interceptions against the Dallas Cowboys.  He then went on to throw 16 more before Sunday's record setting fiasco.  Eli is now up to 25 INTs, his career high, with still two more weeks to go.  In fact, this is the second time Eli has thrown as many as 25, and the third time he eclipsed 20 in a season.  Eli is also in the midst of leading the NFL in INTs for a third time in the last seven years.

Most concerning of all, Eli has thrown more interceptions than touchdowns for only the second time in his career.  The first came during his rookie season, when he only started nine games, and threw 9 INTs, with 6 TD passes.  This season, Eli only has 16 TD passes in fourteen games.

Eli will be 33-years old in January, and already, lament of his demise has started.  Even I have to admit, Eli has endured a terrible season that still has not ended, but I can not rest all blame for the offensive woes, or his own misadventure, on him.  This disastrous season has largely been a sum of its parts.  Lest we forget, when Eli was a rookie, he played behind the best offensive line in football; a record setting offensive line in fact; and additionally handed the ball off to the number one backfield in football.  This season, ten years later, Eli had neither.

Where INTs are concerned, Eli throws for the most aggressive offensive coordinator in perhaps all of football.  Don't worry, we'll crush Gilbride in the off-season for not adapting this year's game plan.  For now, we know if the ball is not thrown deep down field, Gilbride feels the pass is not worth throwing.  With high risk, comes high reward, or the high potential for failure.  We've experienced the dark side of that equation this season.

Game wise, I expected two things from Seattle - to get their hands on Eli Manning, and for their corner backs to shut down Big Blue's receivers.  Why?  Because that's what they do!  Or, haven't you been paying attention?  Otherwise, it made perfect sense, because as we know, the Giants offensive line is a mess.  They allowed 4 sacks, and six other QB hits.  The Giants ran the ball 14 times, and only averaged 1.8 yards per carry, and only gained 25 yards on the day.  That means Seattle's defense dominated the line of scrimmage, and enjoyed way too much time in Big Blue's backfield.

Sunday, Eli could have also benefited from more effort by his receivers.  Rule one is to go up, and get the ball at its highest point.  His receivers made little effort towards that end, and were blanketed all afternoon.  That may come from knowing you have nothing to play for, which equates to an unprofessional effort.  Hey, defeatism is a bitch.

I get it.  The season effectively ended a week ago in California.  This last game essentially amounted to getting kicked while already down.  Unfortunately, I also remember the last time the Giants posted a losing record, and the last time they've been eliminated from playoff contention this early.

We'll live on life support for two more weeks before being able to pull the plug on this pig of a season.  I've been here before.  Others need to learn how to deal with it.


Sunday, December 15, 2013

N.Y. Giants: Seahawks Expected To Puncuate Big Blue's Demise

From the desk of:  DO IT FOR THE DUKE

NEW YORK FOOTBALL GIANTS: Eliminated From The Playoffs, Jerry Reese's Off-Season Decisions Must Be As Cold, And Cut Throat As Ever.

After rooting-on the New York Giants for over 35 years, I think I understand how cycles make their rounds.  No, the Giants couldn't do it for the Duke - not this time, not this season.  In fact, this still unfinished schedule was part of a greater trend.  Last week's elimination from the playoffs was not unexpected, but it did hit home.

The challenge facing the Giants this afternoon is simple.  For today at least, they can either lay down like dogs, or keep biting at the ankles of opponents.  Even in defeat, it is still important to finish like professionals and maintain self-respect.  Admittedly, today's match-up against the Seahawks could get ugly.  But, we should not place any more emphasis on this game, than any other - not in a lost season such as this one.  Instead, let's end this nightmare with civil tongues, and figure a way to best get the Giants righted in the correct direction again.  The challenge facing them over the next few years, is harder than just facing the Seahawks today.  This game still serves a major purpose though.  We'll see, note, and measure the major disparity between good and bad football.  Call it - reverse clarity.

I was chock-full-of answers after SBXLII.  After we attended our second Super Bowl parade together, my son asked me - now what?  I told him, I didn't know.  History didn't teach me THAT much.  The last time, Bill Parcells walked away and I thought we would suck forever.  Then Ray Handley happened.  I do not think we are headed down that road again.  Tom Coughlin's retirement will be somewhat different.  He won't leave here and go coach elsewhere like Parcells did.  But I told my son this - that in Jerry Reese I trust.

The GM has considerable work to do.  He entered the season with the most free agent acquisitions of his tenure.  Most of them were stopgap acquisitions, not to mention cheap, and cap conscious.  To me, that signals the end of useful careers, and the appropriate way to end one era, and inaugurate another.

Offensively, he has no tight end, Hakeem Nicks looks like a goner, the offensive line is woefully in flux, the backfield is still a questionable situation, and Eli Manning needs to reconcile his very poor season.

Defensively, JPP should be shut down.  Justin Tuck will be a free agent.  Jerry Reese needs to revisit Jon Beason's future with the club, and re-address linebacker as a whole.  The secondary is thinning again.  Terrell Thomas is a free agent, Corey Webster and Aaron Ross were nowhere to be found this season.

The problems go beyond that, but with three games left, I'm only scratching the surface.

There is no doubt the Giants roster will undergo an tremendous amount of upheaval, and change this coming off-season.  The Giants salary cap situation will not make things any more easier on Jerry Reese.  A main priority however, should be to get substantially younger, and to reinvest themselves in the draft, and play more rookies.  Signing older veterans is fine, when you still have the ability to realistically compete.  The Giants are beyond that now, and must alter their thinking accordingly.

Perhaps a shellacking at the hands of the Seahawks today will hasten and reinforce a new set of priorities.  In fact, I expect nothing less.  The Seahawks are young, have grown together for a few years, and are arguably the most physical team in the league.  Thinking the Giants can possibly compete with Seattle, Carolina, New Orleans or even San Francisco any more, at this stage of the game, is emotional folly.

Over the next three games, the GM needs a critical eye, and start leaning towards some very tough courses of action.  To the players, they need to feel like they're on notice, and in jeopardy of not returning next season.  If there are players who would like to remain Giants next season, they have the next three games to prove it.

The futures of Tom Coughlin, Kevin Gilbride and Perry Fewell, are an entirely different matter.

*     *     *     *

The career of Brandon Jacobs has ended...again.  He will have surgery on his left knee, which should end the 31-year old running back's career.  Before his season ended, he added four more rushing touchdowns to his Giants record.  Big Buddy now has 60 rushing TD's in his Big Blue career.


Saturday, December 14, 2013

PIGSKIN 2013 - Football Sunday; Week Fifteen

Football Sunday
Week Fifteen
Week Fourteen Record:  5-9
Overall Record:  85-87-8
Schmear of the Week:  9-5
Bagels in the Basket:  +2
The Patriots sputter without Gronk?  Miami wins Sunday and sneaks into the lead for the 2nd wild card!?!?  The Baltimore Ravens play Monday night against the Lions?  Uh oh.  The Chargers will be watching too.
The Cowboys and Bears are desperately chasing the Cardinals for the outside chance the Panthers or the 49ers slip.  At 7-6, that means Jerry Jones' World was once again filled with foolishness and folly.  They're on the outside looking in, for the right to surpass the Cardinals for the right to be on the outside of the playoff picture looking in.  Yeah!  It's like that.
Everything about "the Washington team" screams KICK ME.  Someone find Lucy Van Pelt to hold the football. 
Native Americans want Daniel Snyder scalped if he doesn't change the team name.  Meanwhile, Daniel Snyder and Coach Shanahan have declared war against each other, and RG3 is the front line, or, what ever is left of him.  The league has teed-off on the QB like a tackle dummy.  Now coach os benching him for the rest of the season?  What an implosion!
Friday Line ~ NYDN
Seahawks -7 (GIANTS)
OMG!  I hope Giants fans have the stomach for this.
Win; 23-0 Seahawks
PANTHERS -11 (Jets)
I would imagine the Panthers are pissed off, over not playing better last week against the Saints.  All those defensive players Rex spent the week bragging about...?  pffft.  Cam Newton is going to show Geno how it's done.
Loss; 30-20 Panthers
Redskins Hogs +6 1/2 (FALCONS)
For the Falcons, an almost game in the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field doesn't count.  That was their last hurrah.  Just to spite Daniel Snyder's face, the HOGS will win with RGIII on the bench.  That's a lot of points though.
Win; 27-26 Falcons
49ers -5 (BUCS)
Those Bucs sure have played better of late.  Coach Schiano just may have saved his job.  But he, the Bucs, and Darrell Revis have nothing to play for.  The Niners do.  They better be careful though.
Win; 33-14 49ers
Cardinals -3 (TITANS)
The Titans took a pair of (Broncos) horse shoes to the chops last week.  They're still dazed.  The Cardinals are still hot on the 49ers and Panthers tails.
Push; 37-34 Cardinals
Saints -6 (RAMS)
Damn those Saints outside of the Dome.  Take your chances with this one.  Rams can get to the QB.
Loss; 27-16 Rams
BROWNS +1 (Bears)
Damn you all to hell!!!!  Know what?  Move the Browns to Los Angeles, rebrand the team, move the Jacksonville Jaguars to Cleveland, and bury the Browns forever!!
Loss; 38-31 Bears
COLTS -6 (Texans)
The Texans are a Lone Star Mess.  I'm sure the Colts want to finish strong.  Lay the points at home.
Win; 25-3 Colts
Bills -2 (JAGUARS)
I flipped a coin, and still went the other way.
Win; 27-20 Bills
Patriots -2 (DOLPHINS)
Well, well, the Dolphins have a back-bone.  The Minute-Men will be without The Gronk for the rest of the season.  The Patriots are ripe for a loss.  I just can't resist Tom Brady and two points.
Loss; 24-20 Dolphins
Eagles -4 1/2 (VIKINGS)
These teams deserve each other.  It doesn't matter who's on the field.  The final score is going to be 58-49.
Loss; 48-30 Vikings
Chiefs -4 (RAIDERS)
Denver clinched a playoff spot.  So, the Chiefs do not want to blow this.  It's closing time at the Black Hole.
Win; 56-31 Chiefs
COWBOYS -6 (Packers)
This line sucks.  Gimmie the Boys in nice weather, and no Rodgers.
Loss; 37-36 Packers
Bengals -3 (STEELERS)
The Steelers pissed away their chances last week against the Fish.  This is now the Bengals big chance to slam the door on the rest of the division.
Loss; 30-20 Steelers
Schmear of the Week:
Chiefs -4
Tacos! Ay Caramba!  What's on your Football Sunday menu?
Good Luck, and have a Happy Football Sunday everyone!
Week Fifteen Record:  6-7-1
Overall Record:  91-94-9
Schmear of the Week:  10-5
Bagels in the Basket:  +3

Brooklyn Nets: In Search Of The Elusive Flatbush Double-Double Man

From the desk of:  THE HOOPS OF FLATBUSH

For Deron Williams, This Window Of Opportunity Has The Potential To Close Fast.  Therefore, Time Is Of The Essence.

The Nets are 2-1 since Deron Williams' return, highlighted by a 102-93 victory over Chris Paul, and the L.A. Clippers.  In his three games back, Deron is averaging 35 minutes, 6.6 assists, and 21 points per game.  He has connected on 21/38 from the field, for a 55% shooting percentage.

In his first game back against the Celtics, he played 37 minutes, and scored 25 points, with 7 assists.  In the next game against the Clippers, Deron faced off against Chris Paul, the NBA's assist leader.  Williams played 27 minutes, and was only 4/9 from the floor.  He had 4 assists, and scored 15 points.  Chris Paul meanwhile, was limited to only 2 assists - 10 below his season average.  But Paul did score 20 points in 28 minutes.

In both victories, the Nets largely benefited from having both Deron and Brook Lopez on the floor.  Lopez scored second behind Williams with 24 points against Boston.  He was off to another good game against the Clippers, with 16 points inside the third quarter.  That's when he rolled his ankle, and has been out since.  Brook sat out against the Pistons, as the Nets fell in Detroit by a close 103-99 final.  Outside of a questionable call by the ref down the stretch, there's no doubt Brook could have made the difference.  Deron Williams wound up playing 41 minutes, and scored 22 points, and issued 9 assists.  If I didn't mention it, Chris Paul averages 12 assists.  I digress.

The Nets clearly need both players in the starting line-up.  Brook, Deron, along with Joe Johnson are the core.  Over the first two games of Williams' return, his game seems unaltered by Jason's Kidd plan to play through Lopez, and give Joe Johnson his isolations.  Instead, Kidd may have finally struck a balance.

But all that has to wait now.  Ankle problems linger, and linger.  They are the uninvited guests who don't know when to go home.  Deron is back, but has merely tag-teamed off to Lopez.  For as long as these two play on ballerina ankles, and alternate time on the floor, the Nets live a precarious NBA existence.

The Nets haven't nearly heard or suffered the slings and arrows they really deserve.  Luckily for them, the Manhattan Knicks are worse, and have deflected a measure of attention away from Brooklyn.  And being that the majority of the Eastern Conference...sucks..., truly derisive analysis has additionally been avoided...., for now.

Deron Williams had no training camp to speak of, and still played in 9 of the Nets first 11 games this season.  He then suffered his most recent sprain against the Bobcats on Nov. 20, and wound up missing the next 9 games.  As stated, he has played 3 games since returning.  In all, he has missed 11 of the Nets 23 games this season, and played in twelve.  With Deron on the floor, Brooklyn is 5-7, and without him, they fall to a 3-8 record.  Not incidentally, the Nets are 6 games below the .500 mark.

Deron Williams has been a Net since 2011, and played 12 games to close out that season.  In 2011-2012, the last season in New Jersey, he only played 58 games.  To date, Deron Williams' only full season with the Nets came last year - the Nets first in Brooklyn.

In those initial 12 games with the Nets back in 2010-11, he briefly averaged 12.8 assists per game, and has never come close to that again.  In fact, his assists have dropped in each season since.  In '11-'12, he posted an 8.7 assist average.  Last year, he dropped to 7.7 assists per game.  In 12 games so far this season, he is averaging 6.2 assists per game, but his 36-minute average says he's up to 8.3 per game.  In the Nets most recent game against Detroit, D-Will had 9 assists in a game for only the second time this season.  The first occasion came on opening night versus Cleveland.  Only one time this season has Williams posted double-digit assists, with 10 against Indiana.

For his career, Deron Williams now averages 8.9 assists per game.  But in Utah, and over four straight years leading into the trade to New Jersey, he averaged double-digit assists.  In fact, he was a double-double man for those four seasons.  Between 2007-08 through 2010-11, Deron averaged 73 games, and 19.3 points per game.  To his credit, he set his career mark of 21 ppg with the Nets two seasons ago.

Now, even more than last year during Brooklyn's first all out effort to play with the NBA elite, the Nets need Deron Williams to become that player again, and do so with this particular cast.  And why not?  Deron Williams signed-on to spend his prime years here.  He will not turn 30-years old till next June. 

However, for the Nets and Deron Williams, time is indeed of the essence.  This window of opportunity is otherwise becoming a questionable proposition, with the potential to close fast.  Who's to say Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett remain professionals, and finish the season in good faith, but then promptly retire at season's end?  Again, I ask why not?  This was only a two year window to begin with.  And we know Billy King is not one to sit still.