Sunday, December 31, 2017

N.Y. Giants: New GM Dave Gettleman Vows To Kick Ass

From the desk of:  DO IT FOR THE DUKE

Gett This House In Order

New York Giants: David Gettleman Named New General Manager ... And I Couldn't Be More Happy.

My genesis as a Giants fan occurred while Andy Robustelli (1974-1978) still served as general manager.  But I do not remember much, if anything, about him.

I vividly recall, however, the day the Giants hired George Young, and his 18-year tenure as general manager.

From 1994 through 1997, Ernie Accorsi served as assistant GM under George Young.  Upon his retirement after the 1997 season, Young appointed Ernie Accorsi to succeed him as next general manager of the Giants.

Jerry Reese likewise began working for the Giants in 1994 as a college scout.  In 1997, he was elevated to pro scout by George Young.  In 2004, Accorsi made him director of player personnel.  Upon his own retirement after the 2006 season, Ernie Accorsi named Jerry Reese general manager.

It was also Ernie Accorsi who originally brought David Gettleman into the New York Giants fold as a scout back in 1998.  He was elevated the following year and served as pro personnel director through the 2011 season.  In 2012, Jerry Reese promoted him to senior pro personnel analyst.

When the Carolina Panthers were in search of a new general manager, they brought in Ernie Accorsi as a consultant, whom recommended Dave Gettleman.  Gettleman in turn served from 2013 through 2016 as general manager of the Panthers, posting a 40-23 regular season record over his four years.  The Panthers made three straight playoff appearances under his stewardship, and after posting a 15-1 record in 2015 opposed the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl Fifty.

After co-owners John Mara and Steve Tisch moved to release Jerry Reese and former head coach Ben McAdoo, they similarly consulted Ernie Accorci, who once again recommended Dave Gettleman (whom in 2016 experienced a falling out with Panthers managing owner Jerry Richardson).

His interview effectively ended with haste the Giants search for Jerry Reese's replacement.  And now David Gettleman becomes the fourth lineal general manager of the New York Giants during my lifetime.

Simply put, I love the move!

This is not just another typically safe in-house selection.  Dave Gettleman's resume speaks for itself. He has been a part of four different Super Bowl contending organizations.  He has scouted or served as general manager for two different AFC champions, and two different NFC champions.  All told, he's been associated with nine Super Bowl appearances:
  • Buffalo - 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993.
  • Denver - 1997.
  • NYG - 2000, 2007, 2011.
  • Carolina - 2015.

Gettleman began his NFL career scouting for the Buffalo Bills in 1986, and through the 1993 season.  For those of you still too young at the time, or not yet born, those Bills were frighteningly stacked with Hall of Fame and Pro Bowl caliber talent, whom together won four consecutive AFC championships.

From 1994 through 1997, Gettleman then served as a scout for the Denver Broncos.  Denver went 7-9 during his first season associated with the organization, then followed with an 8-8 record during his second.  The Broncos elevated to 13-3 in 1996, then posted a 14-2 record in 1997 en route to winning Super Bowl XXXII.

Then began his first stint in East Rutherford.  He was on staff during the Giants Super Bowl run of 2000, and for both their 2007 and 2011 championship seasons.

Said another way, the man understands winning.  Moreover, he understands New York Giants football.

Jerry Reese was widely criticized for his failure to effectively rebuild the offensive line, and poor drafting overall.  And while it's true that not one player from the 2011 and 2012 drafts presently play for the Giants, to be fair, Gettlemen and Marc Ross, were still a part of that process.

Since 2013, the Reese and Ross connection have arguably hit on a few players (some more debatable than others): Justin Pugh, Odell Beckham Jr., Weston Richburg, Landon Collins, Sterling Shepard, B.J. Goodson, and most recent addition, Evan Engram.

A few of their more notable busts are proving to be Eli Apple, Ereck Flowers, and newly departed Bobby Hart.

Point being, Jerry Reese, Marc Ross, the entire scouting department, and extended staff, indeed left much to be desired.

And so, here we are.

Prior to interviewing Dave Gettleman, the Giants previously extended their very first interview opportunity to Marc Ross.  On board since 2007, Ross spent his first six years with the organization serving as their director of college scouting, and for the last five years has served as the Giants vice president of player evaluation.

The New York Daily News suspects his interview did not go very well, because on Saturday David Gettleman fired Marc Ross.

At the very least, one should immediately ponder the future of Ken Sternfeld (director of pro personnel) as well.

David Gettleman does not operate in grey zones.  His decisions, rather, gleam with conviction.

He refuses to pay one dollar beyond what he thinks is their fair market value, and certainly won't pay for past performance late in careers.  In fact, he'd rather cut a player too early than too late, and is quick to eliminate malcontents from his locker room.  Look no further than his treatment of former Panthers favorites Steve Smith, DeAngelo Williams, Jon Beason, and Josh Norman.

Speaking of which ... I hope Odell Beckham Jr. is paying attention.  Or, maybe he should call right tackle Bobby Hart.  It was reported during Sunday's Giants/Redskins telecast on FOX, that Bobby Hart allegedly refused to play in Sunday's meaningless game.  Dave Gettleman in turn waived him.

During his introductory press conference, Gettleman listed among his top his priorities: rebuilding the offensive line; reestablishing the running game; and rebuilding the defensive line.  If you look at his team building in Carolina, he consistently maintained a strong presence at linebacker as well.

Is Dave Gettleman set on bringing back the good old days of Smash Mouth?

That remains to be seen.

But he did say rather matter of fact, his goal is to kick ass.

PIGSKIN 2017: Week Seventeen

Week Seventeen

Week Fourteen
Week Sixteen

Week Sixteen Record:  8-6-2
Overall Record:  86-104-6
Schmear of the Week:  8-7
Bagels in the Basket:  -21

1st and Ten: 
  • NFC South Title > New Orleans Saints or Carolina Panthers (loser gains Wild Card).

2nd and Short:
  • AFC > Baltimore seems a lock; if Tennessee wins they're in; both Los Angeles and Buffalo need a lot of help.
  • NFC > New Orleans or Carolina will take one spot.  Atlanta and Seattle are playing for the other.  I predict an Atlanta loss, and a Seattle victory.

No Gain:
  • With a loss, the Cleveland Browns would join the 2008 Detroit Lions as the only teams to post an 0-16 record in the sixteen game era.

  • What's the over/under on head coach firings?  Six?

Friday Line ~ NYDN

PATRIOTS -15 (Jets)
It's a good thing Todd Bowles already has a contract extension in hand because this is gonna get ugly.  Belichick wants home field advantage.  The Patriots do not give away late season games, much less at home.  They play to the finish.
WIN  26-6 Patriots

D.C. Hogs -3 (GIANTS)
Motivation is subjective.  The Hogs want to finish the season with an 8-8 record, right?  Thanks to the schedule makers, they couldn't have drawn a more downtrodden opponent than the Giants.  New general manager David Gettlman will be watching very closely.  A number of Giants can potentially play themselves out of town based on Sunday's performance alone.
Loss  18-10 Giants

RAVENS -9 1/2 (Bengals)
The Bengals might love and respect their head coach, but they don't win for him.  The Cincy front office would be doing Marvin Lewis a huge favor by firing him.  His success is waiting for him elsewhere.  The Ravens would love to end the season with ten victories.  It just looks better in the morning papers.
Loss  31-27 Bengals

Packers +6 1/2 (LIONS)
Big game losers!  The Lions blew their shot at making the playoffs last week against the Bengals.  The Packers in turn may have their way against a deflated pride of cats and thus avoid a losing season for their stockholders back home.  Green Bay's coaching staff is in the spotlight.
Loss  35-11 Lions

Bills -2 1/2 (DOLPHINS)
The Bills need a victory and a lot of cooperation from the Ravens, Titans, and Chargers.  I do not trust the South Beach Sea Mammals, and by the looks of this spread, neither do Bills fans.
WIN  22-16 Bills

Panthers +3 1/2 (FALCONS)
Atlanta center Alex Mack may not play Sunday.  Remember what happened to the Falcons after his injury in last year's Super Bowl against the Patriots?  Atlanta lost their ability to run the ball, sustain offensive possession, and keep Tom Brady off the field.  The masses enjoy saying the Falcons choked.  But no one ever brings up the injury to Mack as the reason why.
Loss  22-10 Falcons

Saints -7 (BUCS)
Oh when the Saints, win the NFC South ...  They're 3-3 on the road and have the inside track over Carolina.
Loss  31-24 Bucs

Jaguars + 3 1/2 (TITANS)
Titans are home and desperate for a win.  They won their first game against the Jaguars, but I don't think they'll sweep the season series.  Covering a close game is another story.  Tom Coughlin may not be Jacksonville's head coach, but after last week's loss against the Niners, you can bet he's preaching about how to finish.
Loss  15-10 Titans

COLTS -4 (Texans)
Both teams have nothing to play for.  Both head coaches could get fired (although in Houston's case that would be a mistake).  The question now becomes which is the more despondent team?
WIN  22-13 Colts

STEELERS -10 1/2 (Browns)
The Browns have already locked up next year's number one draft pick.  On Sunday they seek to add their names to the list of worst teams in NFL history.  Go Browns!
Loss  28-24 Steelers

VIKINGS -12 (Bears)
The Bears are ready for hibernation.  They'll pose little resistance against the Vikings.
WIN  23-10 Vikings

EAGLES +2 1/2 (Cowboys)
The Eagles defeated the Raiders last week, while the Cowboys fell to the Seahawks.  Yet, the Cowboys are favored in Philadelphia?  Are people souring on the Eagles?  If I were them, I would want to finish the season strongly.
Loss  6-0 Cowboys

CHARGERS -7 (Raiders)
The Oakland/Los Angeles/Oakland/Las Vegas Raiders just wanna get this season over with.  What's the over/under on Chargers fans showing up for the game?  In any event, desperation rules the day.  Chargers should take care of business - key word being, should.
WIN  30-10 Chargers

SEAHAWKS -9 (Cardinals)
Not sure if the Seahawks cover.  But the Cardinals window of opportunity officially closes this week.  They need to rebuild.
Loss  26-24 Cardinals

Chiefs +3 (BRONCOS)
After starting the season 5-0, the Chiefs lost six of seven.  They've since won three straight and clinched the AFC West.  Truth of the matter is the rest of the division sucked.  Andy Reid knows he needs his bipolar team entering the playoffs on a winning note.
WIN  27-24 Chiefs

49ers -3 (RAMS)
Sudden league MVP favorite Jimmy Garoppolo is the savior of the universe.  He's gonna throw four TD passes, and rack up 500 yards passing.  Happy freakin New Year, Jimmy!  You're the best.
WIN  34-14 Niners

Schmear of the Week:
Panthers +3 1/2

Thank you for sticking around for another season of PIGSKIN.  Good luck, and have a Happy Football Sunday, everyone!

Post Game:
Week Seventeen Record:  7-9
Overall Record:  93-113-6
Schmear of the Week:  8-8
Bagels in the Basket:  -26

Saturday, December 30, 2017

LIU/Brooklyn Blackbirds: Open NEC Season With Loss Against FDU

From the desk of:  THE HOOPS OF FLATBUSH

Mount Saint Mary's
LIU/Brooklyn Blackbirds
Ashland Place

LIU/Brooklyn Blackbirds: Flatbush Undone By Turnovers; Fall to Fairleigh Dickinson University in NEC Opener.

Despite a closely contested first half, the Blackbirds actually spent few of the first twenty minutes playing with a lead.  Up by five with 2:44 left, LIU headed into the locker room trailing the Fairleigh Dickinson University Knights 39-36 at the break.

A three-pointer by Jashuan Agosto in the opening minutes of the second half briefly put LIU ahead 43-41, but the gain was short lived.  After trading missed field goal attempts, FDU's three-pointer at 17:11 put the Knights ahead.  Although a Raiquan Clark layup put the Blackbirds back up again by one, FDU regained the lead at the 16:00 mark and never looked back.  The Knights led by as many as 13 points with just 3:28 left, and effectively kept LIU at arms length by converting on all six of their free throw attempts within the final minute en route to an eleven point margin of victory.

The Blackbirds out-rebounded FDU, but turned the ball over 15 times involving nine steals by the Knights, who in turn outscored LIU 18-5 on points off turnovers.  FDU was also more efficient from long range, connecting on 9/23 (39%) while the Blackbirds lagged with 5/22 (22%) from beyond the three.

Knights       82
Blackbirds  71

The Blackbirds host Mount Saint Mary's at the Wellness Center on Sunday.  Mount Saint Mary's likewise dropped their NEC opener against the Wagner Seahawks.  They enter Sunday's game with a 6-8 overall record; the Blackbirds enter with a 5-9 record (and a 3-3 mark at home).

Sunday, December 24, 2017

LIU/Brooklyn Blackbirds: Bring on the NEC

From the desk of:  THE HOOPS OF FLATBUSH

LIU/Brooklyn Blackbirds: Flatbush Closes Out Non-Conference Schedule With First Road Victory of Season.

Flatbush concluded their non-conference schedule on Friday with a 74-66 victory over the Binghamton University Bearcats.  In gaining their fourth victory over an America East opponent, the Blackbirds improve to 5-8 overall.

Although they previously earned a neutral site victory earlier this season at the Jamaica Classic, their recent triumph over Binghamton at upstate Vestal, New York, additionally marks the Blackbirds' first road win of the season.

Despite jumping out to a 13-4 lead, and still leading by eight with six minutes left in the half, LIU only took a one point lead into the break.

The Bearcats, however, spent the second session in foul trouble while the Blackbirds took full advantage, converting 15/23 from the charity stripe.  They were similarly effective from the field, shooting 14/24 (60.8%) in the second half despite only converting 1/7 from beyond the three.

Binghamton's shooting from the field, meanwhile, lagged throughout, finishing just 43.4% for the game.

Flatbush otherwise out-rebounded Binghamton by a 33-25 margin, and likewise outscored them by a 9-2 spread in second chance points.

Joel Hernandez led all scorers with 25 points to go along with a game high eight rebounds.

Raiquan Clark added 23 points, and five boards.  He was 6/6 from the field, but inflicted particular damage from the free throw line, converting on 11/15 chances.


The Blackbirds are 3-2 so far at home this season, where they will open their Northeast Conference schedule on Dec.29 against Fairleigh Dickinson University.

Entering conference play, Wagner presently leads the standings with a 7-5 record.  Saint Francis U and Central Connecticut are the other teams presently playing above par.  Point being, the sixth place Blackbirds aren't necessarily entering conference play far behind the competition.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

PIGSKIN 2017: Week Sixteen/Sunday

Week Sixteen

Saturday's Games

Week Fourteen

Week Fourteen Record:  6-8
Week Fifteen: None
Overall Record:  78-98-4
Schmear of the Week:  8-6
Bagels in the Basket:  -18

Attention all Wild Card contenders, it looks as if you'll need ten wins to qualify.
  • AFC - The Baltimore Ravens (9-6) already won on Saturday.  The heat is now on Buffalo, Tennessee, and Kansas City, to keep up.  The Chargers can stay in the hunt with a victory over the Jets.
  • NFC - As it stands entering Week Sixteen, both Wild Cards will emerge from the NFC South.  Dallas, Detroit, and Seattle, are essentially playing must win games.  However, all eyes are on Atlanta.  If the Falcons slip, the pack will pounce.

Game of the Week I - Saints vs. Falcons
Game of the Week II - Cowboys vs. Seahawks

  • Big news!  Linebacker James Harrison was released by the Steelers.  Don't be surprised if the Patriots pick him up.
  • Will this be Marvin Lewis's last game in Cincinnati as head coach of the Bengals?
  • Ezekiel Elliot is back in action for the Cowboys, and Jerry Jones still thinks he's a good general manager.

Friday Line ~ NYDN

Chargers -7 (JETS)
Josh McCown was the Jets.  Bryce Petty is in the saddle now.  Can you say - three and out?  That should afford Philip Rivers a few more offensive possessions to work with.
PUSH  14-7 Chargers

CARDINALS -3 1/2 (Giants)
Dare I say the Giants can actually win this game ... but I doubt it.  I'll stick with the trend.
WIN  23-0 Cardinals

Lions -5 (BENGALS)
Not the cat fight this could have been.  The Lions are in a must win situation, while the Bengals have nothing to lose (except their head coach).
Loss  26-17 Bengals

Rams -7 (TITANS)
The Titans aren't ready for this yet.  Rams will demonstrate much more polish.
Loss  27-23 Rams

BEARS -6 1/2 (Browns)
The Toilet Bowl - Can the Browns really finish the season without a win?
WIN  20-3 Bears

PANTHERS -10 (Bucs)
The Panthers seem to have finally gotten over their catnip hangover.  They're peeking nicely at the right time.
Loss  22-19 Panthers

SAINTS -5 (Falcons)
Dome Sweet Dome ... I like the Saints in a shoot-out.
WIN  23-13 Saints

D.C. HOGS -3 1/2 (Broncos)
I say the Broncos lose by six.  Notice I didn't say the Hogs win ...
WIN  27-11 Hogs

CHIEFS -10 1/2 (Dolphins)
That's a lot of points, but the Sea Mammals do not travel well.  They'll be landlocked in Kansas City where the Chiefs still have a lot to prove.
WIN  29-13 Chiefs

PATRIOTS -12 (Bills)
Just looking for the Bills to give the Patriots a tough game.  With any luck, and a turnover, they can cover.
WIN  37-16 Patriots

Jaguars -4 1/2 (49ERS)
The Jaguars will seek out and destroy Jimmy Garoppolo.
Loss  44-33 Niners

COWBOYS -5 (Seahawks)
I thought long and hard about this one.  Seattle looks done.  And Ezekiel Elliott's return won't help.
Loss  21-12 Seahawks

  • Schmear of the Week: Jaguars -4 1/2  LOSS


Steelers -9 (TEXANS)
Pitt slipped up big time last week in the closing minute against the Patriots.  Nine points is a little bit of a stretch.  Hopefully a late field goal gets this spread over.
WIN  34-6 Steelers

EAGLES -9 (Raiders)
The Eagles will soar to sure victory at home.  It's not like things will suddenly go right for the Raiders.
PUSH  19-10 Eagles

Post Game:
Week Sixteen Record:  8-6-2
Overall Record:  86-104-6
Schmear of the Week:  8-7
Bagels in the Basket:  -21

Friday, December 22, 2017

PIGSKIN 2017: Week Sixteen/Saturday

Week Sixteen

Week Fourteen

Week Fourteen Record:  6-8
Overall Record:  78-98-4
Schmear of the Week:  8-6
Bagels in the Basket:  -18

Sorry about not posting Week Fifteen picks.  Something called real life, and a matter called work dominated my time.


RAVENS -13 1/2 (Colts)
This game has all the makings of a blow out.  Lay the points and fly with the Ravens.  Baltimore (8-6) is still playing must win football.  And luckily for them, Joe Flacco is playing like a top flight quarterback again.  Baltimore is 5-2 over their last seven games in which they've averaged 30.7 points per game, while allowing only 15.2 points per game (with two shutouts).  The Colts on the other hand have gone just 1-6 over the same span.  Despite allowing a modest 20.8 points per game, Indy's Andrew Luck-less offense has averaged just 15.1 points per game.  The Colts (3-11) are serious contenders for next year's overall number one NFL draft selection, and so there's no sense in letting pride get in the way of another futile effort.
Loss  23-16 Ravens

Vikings -9 (PACKERS)
Having already clinched the division title, I'm sure Minnesota still wants to author a strong finish to their season regardless of this week's sweater weather forecast in Green Bay.  The Vikings better bring their earplugs as well.  It was Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr who broke Aaron Rogers' collar bone with a hit back in Week Six, which essentially derailed the Packers season.  Despite a brief comeback, Rogers has officially been shut down for the remainder of the season.  In other words, the Packers have thrown up the white flag.  Oh, and Mike McCarthy is the most overrated head coach in the NFL.  Just saying...
WIN  16-0 Vikings

Good luck, and Happy Holiday!

Thursday, December 21, 2017

NYR vs. NJD: Battle of the Hudson - III

From the desks of:  

Devils lead series 2-1
I - NJD 3; NYR 2
II - NYR 5; NJD 2
III - NJD 4; NYR 3*

Rangers   3
Devils       4

The Rangers entered Thursday's game winners of three straight.  Newark, meanwhile, was seeking to extend their own two-game winning streak.  Both teams took to the ice at the Rock each seeking their 20th victory of the season.  

Only one team, however, seemed up for the task.

The defenseless Rangers permitted 48 shots on goal against Henrik Lundqvist (23 in the second period) of which he turned away 45 of them.  And for that they should be very thankful, because if it weren't for their liege, the Rangers do not escape Newark with a point.

New Jersey beat Alain Vigneault at his own game.  They were clearly the faster team; period.  Hell ... Kyle Palmieri quite nearly beat the Rangers by himself.  Meanwhile, the Rangers played as poorly as they possibly could without actually putting the puck in the wrong net.  The Devils made them pay for every mistake, and the Rangers committed many.

With a victory, the Rangers could have pulled even with the Devils with 43 points.  Instead, the Devils victory over the Rangers ties them with (idle) Washington for first place of the Metropolitan Division with 45 points.  The Rangers, meanwhile, remain in fourth place behind Columbus.

Don't look now, but Newark's youngsters are exhibiting staying power.  After slipping in November with a 6-6-2 record against predominantly Western Conference teams, they've seemingly regrouped with a 6-3-1 December record to date, featuring notable victories over the Blue Jackets, Kings, Stars, and Ducks.

Nice job by Brian Boyle in scoring the game tying (pp) goal in the third period, then netting the game winning goal in shootout.

Monday, December 11, 2017

N.Y. Yankees: Brian Cashman Reclaims The High Ground

From the desk of:  BLAME CARLOS MAY

I Think We Need A Bigger Park

New York Yankees: Brian Cashman acquires outfield slugger Giancarlo Stanton along with $30 million dollars from Derek Jeter Miami Marlins in exchange for Starlin Castro, prospects, and a complimentary bag of NYC bagels.

I left off in my previous post saying ... 


When you think about it, the Death Star Bronx County is indeed the logical landing spot, but only because Sith Lord Brian Cashman made it so.

Cashman had already started whittling down payroll since before Derek Jeter's retirement.  And as luck would have it, the Empire Yankees wound up being the lone team presently capable of absorbing Giancarlo's mega contract in which he is still owed $295 million dollars.

Derek Jeter's options were clearly limited due to Stanton's full no-trade clause, making it no wonder Jeter also kicked in $30 million as part of the trade agreement.

Even more amazing is the fact the Yankees are able to accommodate the balance of their $265 million obligation, and still satisfy Emperor Hal Steinbrenner's desire for being under the luxury tax.

Giancarlo Stanton, the 2017 National League MVP, batted .281 with a .376 OBP.  He led all of baseball with 59 home runs and 132 RBI, and led the National League with a .631 slugging average.

Aaron Judge, the 2017 American League Rookie of the Year, slashed .284/.422/.627, and led the A.L. with 52 home runs, 128 runs scored, 127 walks, drove in 114 runs, and finished second in voting for American League MVP.

Combined, they hit 111 home runs and posted 246 RBI in 2017 (with 371 strikeouts in 1,139 regular season at-bats for a rate of 32.5 percent.., just saying).

With a line-up also featuring Didi Gregorious, Gary Sanchez, Brett Gardner, Aaron Hicks, et al, you can forget about Mos Isley Cantina Coors Field, as Yankee Stadium suddenly becomes the nation's wretched hive of scum and villainy largest pinball machine.

Perhaps the Yankees should consider installing overhead netting in order to protect the Judge's Chamber and Bleacher Creatures, or at the very least make them all wear Storm Trooper helmets.

There's no denying Christmas arrived early for Yankee droids fans.  What an absolutely stunning off-season this has been for Yankees brass as well, between the hiring of new Imperial Guard field manager Aaron Boone, and now this.

But wait, there's more.  As Brian Cashman continues expressing his desire to rule the galaxy sign a starting pitcher, be it resigning C.C. Sabathia, or otherwise.

In fact, he foresees it.

Upon the conclusion of a whirlwind week in December, Brian Cashman has no doubt seized the attention of every member of the Senate general manager in baseball.  Every front office, field manager, Jedi, and player, from Los Angeles to Houston, Anaheim to Chicago, from Boston, and closer to home in Tatooine Queens, realize the Sith Yankees have once more altered the landscape of baseball.

R2 says the chances of A.L. East survival are 3,720 ... to one.

Here we go again.

Brooklyn Nets: Jahlil Okafor Gets New Start With Flatbush

From the desk of:  THE HOOPS OF FLATBUSH

Nets Acquire Jahlil Okafor From Philadelphia

Brooklyn Nets: Ticket Out of Philadelphia is Happy Birthday Present for Jahlil Okafor.

General manager Sean Marks traded (30-year old/eight year veteran) forward Trevor Booker this past Thursday to the Philadelphia 76ers in exchange for center Jahlil Okafor, shooting guard Nik Stauskas, and a much appreciated 2019 second round draft pick.

Philadelphia selected Okafor with the third overall pick of the 2015 draft.  He weighs in at 6'11", 275lbs., and turns 22-years old on Dec. 15.

He averaged thirty minutes, 17.5 points, and seven rebounds, in 53 games as a 20-year old rookie, but had his minutes shaved last season with the arrival of Joel Embiid, whom this season for the Sixers is averaging a double-double, with 23.5 points and 11.1 rebounds per game.

Okafor averaged 22.7 minutes, 11.8 points, and 4.8 rebounds, through 50 games playing in Embiid's shadow last season.  Hashtags such as Did Not Play; Did Not Dress; Not With Team; further marred the back of his baseball card.  He has been glued to the bench ever since, making a mere two appearances this season through 25 games.

Although Coach Atkinson runs an up-tempo offense, Okafor should fit into the line-up no differently than did Brook Lopez (or the present cast of characters, for that matter).  Timofey Mozgov and others have proved somewhat inconsequential at center.  While Lopez is a superior outside shooter, it is hoped that Okafor will provide an effective low post presence.  I'm sure Atkinson will coach to his abilities by integrating some isolation because his potential for points is there.  However, his defense is said to be a completely different issue.  He should fit right in, then.  As the Nets are among the NBA leaders in scoring, but rank dead last in points allowed.

I digress...

This is a savvy acquisition by Sean Marks.  Be it coincidence or by design, he has now acquired the second and third overall selections of the 2015 NBA draft.  The Los Angeles Lakers selected Russell, now 21-years old, with the second overall pick ahead of Okafor.  The Nets acquire another young player with high upside, who fits in perfectly with this rebuild - not to mention a second round pick perhaps being the sweetest aspect of this latest deal.

Coach Atkinson and Flatbush fans must first play the waiting game before seeing them share the same floor.  Okafor is no doubt rusty, and will require time before regaining real game conditioning.  Meanwhile, there is still no timetable on D'Angelo Russell's return as he continues recovering from mid-November knee surgery.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Devils vs. Rangers: Battle of the Hudson - II

From the desks of:


Series Tied 1-1
I - NJD 3; NYR 2
II - NYR 5; NJD 2

Devils      2
Rangers  5

If you were like me, just hoping the Rangers poor start would result in Alain Vigneault's dismissal, I'm afraid we'll now need to wait a little longer.

After starting the season 4-7-2 in October, the Blueshirts rebounded to post a 9-3-0 record in November.  They are 3-1-0 so far in December, having recently earned six important points against division foes Carolina, Pittsburgh, and Newark on Friday.  That makes the Rangers 12-4-0 since the 2nd of November, elevating them from the bottom of the Metropolitan Division to within five points of the first place Columbus Blue Jackets.

With Friday's 5-2 victory over the Devils at the Garden, the Rangers now own a 16-11-2 record.

The Rangers remaining nine December games will no doubt test their collective mettle.  They'll be hosting the Stars, Kings, Ducks, Maple Leafs, and Capitals, then travel for games against the Senators, Bruins, Devils, and Red Wings.

The Rangers have excelled at home with a 12-5-2 record, and will now host their first games of the season against Dallas, the Kings, and Ducks.  They'll also be looking to avenge a blowout loss in just the second game of the season against the Maple Leafs, and their recent loss against the Capitals.

The Sens, Bruins, and Red Wings, meanwhile, will all be looking to avenge previous road losses against the visiting Rangers, who own a sub par 4-6-0 record on the road.  They will also be visiting Newark for their third encounter against the Devils.

The Rangers have been surging minus the services of center Mika Zibanejad, who Friday missed his fifth straight game (concussion protocol) stemming from a Nov. 24 hit incurred against the Detroit Red Wings.

That being said, if you regularly follow Raise Gresch With The Greats, you know one of my pet peeves is Mats Zuccarello leading the team in points.  It's always been my contention that points to greater Rangers troubles and needs (lack of a top flight center).  I love Zucs, but my point is he shouldn't be leading a this team in points ahead of Rick Nash and Chris Kreider - two of the teams ultimate underachievers.

Rick Nash routinely leads the Rangers in shots of goal.  He leads again with 91 SOGs, yet has only registered seven goals and eight assists to date.  Kreider is second on the team with 74 SOGs, and at least is one of four Rangers with double-digit goals (10), but is nevertheless lagging behind his skill set with 17 points in 29 games played.  MatZucs, on the other hand, has seven goals and 17 points, and it the only one of the three with a positive +/- rating.

Henrik Lundqvist registered his 419th career victory Friday evening, tying him with Tony Esposito for second most wins by a goalie with one franchise.  With four more victories, Lundqvist will also tie Tony Esposito (423) for eighth place on the NHL's all-time career victory list.


The Devils for much of the first quarter season have surprisingly jockeyed back and forth for first place of the Metropolitan Division with Columbus.  Newark jumped out to an early 8-2-0 record in October, but have trended the other way with an 8-7-4 record since.  They've recently dipped to third place behind the re-emergent Capitals, but still only trail the first place Blue Jackets by three points.

They are 2-3 in December, after losing two straight against the Blue Jackets and Rangers.  However, Friday's lost against the Rangers at the Garden was only Newark's fourth regulation time road loss of the season.  They're lagging with a 6-5-2 record at home, but own a 10-4-2 on the road.

Prior to Friday's game against the Rangers, Cory Schneider started both games of a home/home series against Columbus.  He limited the Blue Jackets to just one goal on 42 SOGs on Dec. 5, but then allowed five goals on just 28 SOGs three days later.  Keith Kinkaid made his tenth appearance of the season against the Rangers, allowing five goals on 35 shots against.

Since arriving, defensive acquisition Sami Vatanen is leading Newark blueliners with 22:10 average ice time, but is presently a minus-five, with just five SOGs, in five games so far for the Devils.  Centerman Adam Henrique, meanwhile, is thriving with a plus-two, three goals, and three assists, during his five games with Anaheim.

PIGSKIN 2017: Week Fourteen

Week Fourteen

Thanksgiving Day
Week Twelve
Week Thirteen

Week Thirteen Record:  5-9
Overall Record:  72-90-4
Schmear of the Week:  8-5
Bagels in the Basket:  -13

  • AFC - The battle for the AFC South is still neck and neck between the Titans and Jaguars.  Expect one or the other to secure the first Wild Card spot.  Baltimore (7-5) would presently qualify as the second Wild Card.  There's four teams following the Ravens with 6-6 records.  Then come the Jets, Dolphins, and Bengals, with 5-7 records.  The Patriots and Steelers, meanwhile, continue cruising along in the AFC East and North with respective 10-2 records.
  • NFC - Keep an eye on the Eagles/Rams game.  I said the Seahawks and Rams would expose Philly.  It's now LAR's turn.  Otherwise, the Eagles own a comfortable four game lead in the NFC East.  The Seahawks keep pushing the Rams in the NFC West, leaving first place LAR with little room for error. The Saints are barely clinging to first place in the NFC South after losing Thursday to the Falcons, and dropping two of their last three.  Panthers can force a tie with the Saints with a victory over the Vikings.  The Vikings in turn continue leading the NFC North with little resistance from the Lions and Packers.  The two Wild Cards will likely emerge from the South or West.

  • Gronk got off light for his actions last week against the Bills.  And the optic of Tom Brady screaming at his OC was clearly negative.  They clearly belong in the greater double-standards debate.
  • Roger Goodell wins; Jerry Jones loses.

Friday Line ~ NYDN

Cowboys -3 1/2 (GIANTS)
Eli is back in the saddle again, but I'm not so sure that changes much.  The offensive line is still what it is.  The Giants defense played well last week against the underachieving Raiders, but don't count on them having much left in the tank.  Dak Prescott is learning to keep his cool in the absence of Ezekiel Elliott.  Cowboys secondary will need to be completely inept in order for GMen to pull this out.
WIN  30-10 Coyboys

Jets -1 (BRONCOS)
The Jets are only 5-7 but feeling really good about themselves.  They play hard for Todd Bowles and have indeed exceeded expectations this season.  I like Leonard Williams' chances of getting hold of Trevor Siemian.  After a few days of self-reflection, perhaps Muhammad Wilkerson opts to get naysayers off his back with a redeeming effort.
Loss  23-0 Broncos  

Lions PK (BUCS)
The Bucs had lofty expectations this season.  How did that work out?  They are 4-8 against the spread.  Straight up, I think the Lions are better.  Stafford has a hand injury, though.  You've been warned.
WIN  24-21 Lions

BENGALS -6 (Bears)
Not comfortable laying six here, but I have zero confidence in the Bears.  This is my stay away game of the week because Bengals have a history under Marvin Lewis for losing huge games at home.
Loss  33-7 Bears

BILLS -7 (Colts)* Saturday Line
This game was Pick Em on Friday.  Weather conditions in Buffalo will put the indoor Colts at a disadvantage.
Loss  13-7 Bills

Seahawks +3 (JAGUARS)
Jags are really good at stopping the run.  Only problem is Seattle has no intention of rushing much.  Experience and Russell Wilson get the Seahawks over.  I like what Russell did last week against the Eagles.
Loss  30-24 Jaguars

CHIEFS -4 (Raiders)
Look who all of a sudden is in a three way tie for first place!  The Chiefs have lost four straight against somewhat crappy teams.  I'm thinking Andy Reid is too good a coach too allow this streak to hit five.  They really are better than they've shown.  Raiders were woefully unimpressive against a moribund Giants team.  Obviously no surprise if the Raiders win, though.
WIN  26-15 Chiefs

Vikings -3 (PANTHERS)
Okay, I've tried putting the whammy on Minnesota twice this season and got burned each time.  I get it.  In the meantime, Carolina is obviously good, however, Cam Newton's bipolar season continues...
Loss  31-24 Panthers

Packers -3 (BROWNS)
At 6-6, the Packers still have a lot to play for.  They'd love to win and potentially get Aaron Rogers back next week.
WIN  27-21 Packers  o.t.

TEXANS -3 (49ers)
Pretty standard ... home team laying three points.  But Houston is actually 7-5 vs spread.  I'll take that as Niners still need more than Jimmy Garoppolo.
Loss  26-16 Niners

CHARGERS -6 (D.C. Hogs)
After starting the season 0-4, the Bolts have gone 6-2 since, and are winners of three in a row.  They know the AFC West is now up for grabs especially considering the Chiefs/Raiders game.  So I'm sure the LAC wanna maximize this game against the Hogs, who were a complete a mess last week against the Cowboys.
WIN  30-13 Chargers

Titans -3 (CARDINALS)
I've consistently treated the Titans points differential as a red flag.  Yet here they are still tied for first place.  Therefore, I'm going with the team with something to play for over the team with more problems than a math book.  If this game were in Tennessee, the Titans would be favored by at least six.
Loss  12-7 Cardinals

RAMS -2 1/2 (Eagles)
I said last week the Seahawks and Rams would prove to be Philly's truest test of the regular season.  Eagles failed last week, and they'll fall again this week.
Loss  43-35 Eagles

Ravens +5 1/2 (Steelers)
The Steelers should be be favored by -4 at best.  Counting on Baltimore keeping this close in what should be a second straight bar brawl for the Steelers.
WIN  39-38 Steelers

Schmear of the Week:
Jets -1

Good luck, and have a great Football Sunday, everybody!

Post Game:
Week Fourteen Record:  6-8
Overall Record:  78-98-4
Schmear of the Week:  8-6
Bagels in the Basket:  -18

Thursday, December 07, 2017

Brooklyn Nets: Honorable Carpetbagger Pokes Fun At Fan

From the desk of:  THE HOOPS OF FLATBUSH

Oklahoma City Thunder
Brooklyn Nets

Brooklyn Nets: Correction ... This Mayor de Blasio Thing Isn't Working Out.

Mayor de Blasio was at a Queens town hall meeting on Tuesday where he addressed one particular gentleman wearing a Brooklyn Nets jacket as reported by the NYPost, and told him without solicitation, "I'm from Brooklyn too, but this Brooklyn Nets idea has not been working out as it was planned, so I admire you for sticking with them."

Once the Brooklyn Nets got wind of this, they took to Twitter:

Well said!

I wonder if  he would have uttered such nonsense before the recent election.

In any event, Mayor de Blasio may own property in Park Slope, and he may have lived here for ten years or so.  But make no mistake, Mayor Bill de Blasio is no Brooklynite.  Not by a long shot.

A Boston rooting damn carpetbagger is what he is!

He's taken numerous jabs at our local teams over the years.  It's my opinion you just don't so that.  When you mess with the fandom of NYC's sports teams, you tug at the emotional heartstrings of millions of fans (who probably don't like him to begin with).

Do you think Giants fans ever forgave Mayor Koch for refusing to host a parade after Super Bowl XXI?

I haven't.

The rest of New England has a special name for people from Massachusetts.  I'm sure the Mayor knows what it is.  Since I try running a PG operation here, I'll keep it to myself and let him use his imagination instead.

Now, about that working out thing ...

There are nine NBA teams presently operating at or above full capacity.  The next group of nine are operating within the ninety percentile range, the Knicks being among them, playing before 96% capacity crowds.  That leaves 12 teams operating below 90% capacity.

The Nets are tied for 25th in the league, averaging 15,222 fans through the first ten home games of the season.  That translates to 84% capacity.  That's a slight down tick from last year's 85.2% capacity, when the Nets averaged 15,429 through 41 dates.

I won't lie - it's aggravating as all hell, and even somewhat painful to see the Boston Celtics jumping out to an early Eastern Conference lead, particularly on the heels of his Honor's comments, but primarily because of all those draft picks the Celtics pillaged from the Nets (as part of Billy King's ill conceived Paul Pierce/Kevin Garnett trade).

While I give Mikhail Prokhorov credit for stepping in when he did, and for saying all the right things along the way, his varying levels of commitment have indeed been troubling.

I just don't like hearing it from the Mayor.

Leave that to us.  Thank you very much.

Otherwise, the Nets are still third in the conference in scoring, averaging 109.8 points per game.  However, they still can't get it together defensively.  Flatbush is last in the conference and second to last in the league, having allowed an average of 112.3 points per, through 23 games.

We Brooklynites are generous people, but c'mon.  Defense is an effort thing, and I like Coach Atkinson.  So what is there to say, but to keep at it, continue this rebuild, and keep grinding!

On that note, Bill, the Nets have won three of their last five games.  If you haven't heard by now, they will be in Mexico City representing !Brooklyn! as they play Oklahoma City tonight, then Saturday against Miami.

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

LIU/Brooklyn Blackbirds Turn Away Stony Brook

From the desk of:  THE HOOPS OF FLATBUSH

Would the owner of a blue and red bus blocking traffic
at the intersection of Church Avenue and Flatbush Avenue please move!

Stony Brook     71
LIU/Brooklyn  75

LIU/Brooklyn Blackbirds: Flatbush Wins Second Straight; Remain Unbeaten At Home.

With Monday's victory over Stony Brook, the LIU Blackbirds improved to 3-3 over their last six games, and 4-6 overall.  Better yet, they've won two straight, and are now 3-0 at home.

Despite trailing 34-38 at halftime, LIU outscored the visiting Seawolves 41-33 in the second half to come away with a 75-71 victory.

A pair of Joel Hernandez free throws put the Blackbirds up by seven with seven minutes left to play.  But a Stony Brook steal and a dunk at the other end tied the score 65-65 with three and a half minutes to go.  Raiquan Clark would later scored on a fast break at the 2:01 mark off a defensive rebound by Julian Batts to put LIU ahead for good.  Jashaun Agosto's three with 0:15 second left would ultimately seal the deal for Brooklyn.

Both teams shot an identical 6/17 (35%) from beyond the three, both scored 42 points in the paint, and both committed 18 turnovers.  The Seawolves pulled down just one more rebound than did the Blackbirds, but outpaced the Blackbirds 21-13 on points off turnovers. 

LIU maintained their composure and closed out the Seawolves by converting five of eight free throw attempts over the final three minutes.

Coach Kellogg ran a tight ship again, going with an eight man rotation for the second time in LIU's last three games.  Four Blackbirds logged over thirty minutes. 

Joel Hernandez led all scorers with 23 points, while Julian Batts led the floor with nine rebounds.  Raiquan Clark added 20 points and six rebounds.

Sophomore forward Julius Van Sauers scored 16 points and secured six rebounds in 22 minutes off the bench.  He was 6/7 from the floor, connected on a three, and was a perfect 3/3 from the line.


After a well deserved break, the Blackbirds will resume play with two games at Barclays Center against Fairfield University and Saint Peter's University.

N.Y. Giants: Owners Pull Plug On Ben McAdoo and Jerry Reese

From the desk of:  DO IT FOR THE DUKE

Cleaning House!

New York Giants: Owners John Mara and Steve Tisch Decide It's Time To Make Wholesale Changes.

John Mara confirmed what many fans like myself suspected - it was Ben McAdoo's idea to bench Eli Manning all along.

Sure, Mr. Mara acknowledged he could have easily put a stop to it, and took full responsibility for the poor manner in which things were handled.  In fact, he went as far as consulting with partner Steven Tisch, and together they decided it was time to make wholesale changes!

Giants President John Mara announced on Monday Ben McAdoo and Jerry Reese have been dismissed respectively as head coach and general manager of the New York Giants.


Heaven forbid Ben McAdoo tailor a system more suitable to Eli Manning's style.

Good coaches do that.  Stubborn, ideological ones, do not.

Since his first day as offensive coordinator, Ben McAdoo has been pushing his West Coast dope on Eli Manning, and till the very end sniveled when things went badly.

McAdoo seemingly didn't have much to say last season when Eli led the Giants to an 11-5 record and a return to the playoffs.  He somehow had even less to say regarding his wide receivers' ill advised trip to South Beach just before said playoff game, then offered absolutely nothing during the post-game in response to Odell turning in his worst performance as a professional.

He once again refused this season to take up issue with Beckham after infamously impersonating a dog peeing in the end zone during a game against Philadelphia.  McAdoo has also steadfastly refused to acknowledge any hints of poor play on behalf of the offensive line, and tried minimizing the numerous injuries among the receivers at every turn.

Instead, McAdoo used his words to levy criticism after criticism against Eli Manning.  He even seemly threw his proverbial hands in the air by handing off play calling duties to offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan.  But at no time did McAdoo ever once claim responsibility for his own flawed methodology.  He'd much rather have blamed Eli Manning for not carrying the Giants offense like Aaron Rogers carries that of the Packers ... when Rogers is on the field, that is.

Eli, on the other hand, started 210 straight games until Ben McAdoo stepped in.

Once the Giants were mathematically eliminated from this year's playoffs, Ben the Outsider with no real connection to Giants tradition and history, thought it wise to suggest benching the organization's greatest ever quarterback in favor of Geno Smith, or perhaps more accurately, someone better suited to play his awkward style of West Coast nonsense.

All that being said, Jerry Reese signed off on McAdoo's folly.  Generally speaking, though, he put Ben McAdoo in a position to fail, just as he put Kevin Gilbride and Tom Coughlin in positions to fail during their latter days as OC and head coach of the New York Giants.

What started well for Jerry Reese has ended horribly.  The organizational torch was passed to him after the 2006 season by former general manager Ernie Accorsi.  After a fruitful 2007 draft the Giants promptly won a Super Bowl.  Four years later Reese squeezed out the last bit of goodness from the fruits of Ernie Accorsi's labors in capturing yet another Super Bowl.  After which, Jerry Reese failed to sustain the organization's competitiveness.

The Giants indeed spiraled out of relevance.  Ineffective drafting, prohibitive manipulation of the salary cap, and Jerry Reese's over-reliance on free agency have cost the organization dearly.  His inability to replenish and resupply the roster with representative talent has resulted in a 41-51 record since 2012 through the present time, three times posting double-digit losses.

Ben McAdoo deserved to get fired based on the merits of his own shortcomings.  Jerry Reese, because he set the conditions.


That's what the billboard along Route 80 in New Jersey said, and John Mara heard it loud and clear. 

I'll hold off on critiquing his performance during all this for another post. 

In the mean time, Mara is a business man.  Four games remain in the Giants season, and three are at home.  Mara is no fool either, and knew better to stave off a Big Blue maelstrom.  Prominent former Giants players were threatening to parade the sidelines this week wearing Eli Manning #10 jerseys.  Ownership also ran the risk of season ticket holders selling the balance of their games, thus turning MetLife Stadium into the Big Blue Pit of Misery.  It may already be too late for some.  I'm sure in the coming games there will be more Cowboys and Redskins jerseys than usual. 

The question now becomes, how many more than usual?