Thursday, November 30, 2017

N.J. Devils: Adam Henrique Traded For Anaheim Blue Liner Sami Vatanen

From the desk of:  THE BRICK CITY STYX

Play of centermen Hischier and Gibbons 
allows Ray Shero to shore-up defense.

New Jersey Devils: Ray Shero Acquires Defenseman Sami Vatanen From Anaheim Ducks In Exchange For Crowd Favorite Adam Henrique.

Savvy transaction by general manager Ray Shero - center Adam Henrique and winger Joseph Blandisi are heading to the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for defenseman Sami Vatanen.

I'm sure Devils fans were just as surprised upon hearing about the trade as Henrique was reported to be.  Adam, a team alternate captain who turns 28-years old in February, played six full seasons in a Devils uniform after being selected by Newark in the third round of the 2008 entry draft.  He posted a career high 30 goals and 50 points just two seasons ago. 

His departure leaves team captain Andy Greene, and Travis Zajac, as the last two remaining members of the Devils 2011-12 playoff team.  Newark has not qualified for the playoffs since.

Despite losing Kyle Palmieri (foot) for six weeks, the emergence of last year's number one overall selection, Nico Hischier, and the return to the ice of center Travis Zajac, arguably rendered Adam Henrique somewhat expendable.  Newark has been getting good efforts up the middle.  Hischier has five goals and 18 points through 24 games thus far, while Brian Gibbons has netted a team leading 11 goals (15 points).  Overall, the Devils are currently ninth in the league in scoring, while Henrique has only accounted for four goals (and ten assists) in 24 games.

Joseph Blandini has split time between Newark and Binghamton over the last two seasons.  As part of the deal, the Devils will also send their 2018 third round pick to Anaheim.  If the Ducks are able to re-sign Henrique, the Devils will receive Anaheim's 2019 third round pick.

In return, the Devils receive 26-year old Sami Vatanen, considered a top-four defenseman.  New Jersey is currently 17th in goals against.  Vatanen is someone Ray Shero believes can add an offensive element from the blue line.  Anaheim's fourth round selection of the 2009 entry draft, Sami Vatanen posted a career high 12 goals in 2014-15, and a career high 29 assists and 38 points the following season.  He owns a career +22 with 126 points over 280 games played.

The move comes on the heels of Newark's Nov. 12 setback, with defenseman Mirco Mueller suffering a broken clavicle.  He underwent surgery, and is not expected back until February.  Ray Shero acquired Mueller during the off-season from San Jose in exchange for the Devils 2017 second and fourth round picks.

The Devils have spent much of the first-quarter regular season in first place, but have slipped of late.  After jumping out to an 8-2-0 record in October, they stumbled to a 6-4-4 mark in November, highlighted by four straight loses against Calgary, St. Louis, and a pair against Edmonton.

New Jersey and the New York Islanders are presently tied for second place in the Metropolitan Division with 32 points, one point behind the leading Columbus Blue Jackets.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

N.Y. Giants: Ben McAdoo Decides Eli No Longer The Mann

From the desk of:  DO IT FOR THE DUKE

Ben McAdoo twice watched Eli Manning defeat his Green Bay Packers 
en route to winning the Super Bowl and being named MVP each time.

New York Giants: In What I Can Only Describe As An Act of Supreme Folly, Head Coach Ben McAdoo Culminates Season Long Criticisms of Eli Manning By Benching Greatest Quarterback in Team History.

Ben McAdoo served as the Green Bay Packers tight ends coach between 2006 through 2011, then served as quarterbacks coach through the 2013 season.  During his time there, he won a ring and enjoyed a daily up-close look at two of the games all-time great quarterbacks.

As tight ends coach, McAdoo was in Green Bay for Brett Favre's final two seasons with the Packers.  His arrival, however, came the season after Favre led the NFL with 29 interceptions.  So perhaps that matter escaped him once bewitched by the likes of Aaron Rogers.  Only Ben McAdoo was still tight ends coach when Rogers led Green Bay to a Super Bowl victory in 2010 over Pittsburgh.

Rogers had been starting for four seasons prior to McAdoo's promotion to quarterbacks coach.  Therefore, how much did he actually contribute towards Rogers' continuing development during their two years working together?

By 2012 and 2013, Jerry Reese's failures as Giants general manager were making desperate people out of head coach Tom Coughlin and offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride.  The latter would become the first scapegoat, and after the 2013 season was replaced as offensive coordinator with Ben McAdoo.

At that point, Eli Manning was coming off the third season of his career in which he led NFL in interceptions.  I chalk up most of that to Kevin Gilbride's aggressive down field passing.  He and Eli routinely led the league in most yards attempted per pass play.

Enter Ben McAdoo, who institutes a rather awkward style of West Coast offense.  During his two seasons as coordinator, Eli set career highs in pass attempts (albeit much shorter attempts), career highs in yardage, career highs in completion percentage, and in 2015 threw a career high 35 TD passes.

That's all fine and well.  But Jerry Reese's continuing failures as general manager nonetheless resulted in back-to-back 6-10 seasons requiring a second scapegoat, namely Tom Coughlin.

Ben McAdoo was then elevated to the position of head coach following the 2015 season.  And as we know, Jerry Reese spent money like a drunken sailor trying to reinvigorate a moribund defense.  And for a season, it worked.  The Giants actually fielded one of the league's best defenses, and carried over Super Bowl aspirations heading into the preseason.

McAdoo, however, would inevitably become the latest victim of Jerry Reese's machinations as were Tom Coughlin and Kevin Gilbride before him.  Much of the Giants present situation indeed falls on the general manager.

So why was it that Ben McAdoo would unleash harsh criticisms towards Eli Manning during the opening weeks of this season?  In fact, he's implied in more ways than one how Eli doesn't quite fit his system.

And there's the rub ...

When your quarterback is getting sacked within three seconds or less, when he's been sacked at least 50 times in his last 28 games, there is no freakin system!

When the general manager has no interest in rebuilding the offensive line and reestablishing a respectable rushing threat, there's no system.

When you're the second head coach guilty of turning a blind eye every time Odell Beckham insults the 90-plus years of Giants tradition and lifts his leg to decorum, there is no system.  How could there be with faux suspensions, and no repercussions for players guilty of giving up?  Ben McAdoo lost his locker room.  He did.  There's no disputing that fact.  Massage the situation all you want.  There are players whom quit on him.  It is what it is.

If the Giants are 2-9 this season, Jerry Reese is certainly to blame.  All other attempts at change have failed.  And so at the end of this season, he must go.

McAdoo must surely follow because Tuesday's decision to bench Eli Manning is just absurd.  If I'm not mistaken, he watched up close as Eli Manning and the Giants beat Farve and his Green Bay Packers in that epic arctic NFC championship game of 2007, then watched Eli Manning and the Giants defeat his precious Aaron Rogers and the Packers again four years later.  Each time Eli went on to win Super Bowl MVP honors.  Yet, McAdoo has determined benching Eli Manning is in the best interest of the team, and a Giant first step towards a better tomorrow.

He is benching Eli Manning in favor of Geno Smith of all people, which is complete folly.  Davis Webb is expected to get some reps over the final weeks of the season as well.  But what can be learned about him when he will most certainly be playing under extreme duress due to the Giants inept offensive line?  Not to mention, if the Giants indeed continue their losing ways, they will surely utilize what could end up being a top four draft pick on an available quarterback.  So what exactly is the point?

Eli Manning, who this season became only the seventh quarterback in NFL history to surpass 50,000 yards passing, whose streak of 210 consecutive regular season starts is second only to Brett Farve, is being pushed aside in favor of Geno Smith?


Dan Reeves was an outsider who once dictated when the Giants career of Phil Simms would end.  Now we have another outsider, Ben McAdoo, triggering the demise of Eli Manning.

Week thirteen ... Eli ... clip board duty.


Damn tight ends coach.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

PIGSKIN 2017: Week Twelve

Week Twelve

Thanksgiving Day

Week Eleven Record:  7-4-1
Overall Record:  61-72-4
Schmear of the Week:  6-5
Bagels in the Basket:  -12

  • NFC Showdown Alert: Drew Brees and the first place Saints vs. Jared Goff and the first place Los Angeles Rams.
  • Eagles lead NFL with 320 PPG; Rams are 2nd with 303 ppg; Saints are third with 302ppg.  The Patriots are fourth, and lead the AFC with 290 points.

Friday Line ~ NYDN

Panthers -4 1/2 (JETS)
Both teams are coming off their bye week.  If this were a little earlier in the season, I would have given the Jets a better chance.  Even if Gang Green bottlenecks Carolina's run game, bipolar Cam is coming on strong of late.
WIN  35-27 Panthers

Browns +8 (BENGALS)
The Bengals usually destroy the Browns, but getting Marvin Lewis fired still seems to be their season long priority.  The Bengals are additionally right on schedule for their annual colossally disappointing losses at home, only this season they have little left to play for.  The Browns may be 0-10 this season, but they have not gone down without a fight.  I'll take the points.  A Browns victory should surprise no one.
Loss  30-16 Bengals

EAGLES -13 1/2 (Bears)
Chicago's offense will give the ball back to the Eagles, who in turn will steamroll the Bears overtaxed defense.  Repeat process several times.
WIN  31-3 Eagles

PATRIOTS -16 1/2 (Dolphins)
The Patriots are back home after playing in Mexico City.  Jet lag may slow them down a little.  Then again, they've been home all week.  In any event, we're getting into the time of year when Team Belichick likes to run up the score against opponents ... just because.  Oh, and Jay Cutler is out for Chicago.
WIN  35-17 Patriots

Bills +10 (CHIEFS)
There's reason to believe Andy Reid can fix what ails the Chiefs lately.  The Bills are just plain stupid (see QB situation), and injured to boot.  Amazingly, Buffalo is still in the Wild Card picture.  They'll play desperately, but lose nonetheless.
WIN  16-10 Bills

Bucs +10 (FALCONS)
I've been waiting for the Falcons to snap out of their funk all season.  They played a depleted Seattle defense last week making it tough determining whether they've truly awoken.  Bucs have been a general disappointment this season, and are coming off dubious victories over the NYJ and Miami Mammals.  This is a division game with major implications for both.  The Bucs will be without QB Winston, but I think they can still play representative defense here, and stay close enough to cover.
Loss  34-20 Falcons

COLTS +3 (Titans)
Time to write the Titans off.  The Colts get their revenge for an earlier loss at Tennessee.  In their last two games, Indy beat the Texans, then barley lost against the Steelers.  The Titans on the other hand were recently blown out 40-17 by the Steelers.
Loss  20-16 Titans

49ERS +6 1/2 (Seahawks)
In nine games prior to their victory over the Giants, the Niners average margin of defeat was 10.6 points per game.  Consider three of those losses resulted in blowouts of 20 point margins or more.  However, in five of their nine losses, the Niners lost by an average of just 2.6 points per game.
Loss  24-13 Seahawks

Saints +2 1/2 (RAMS)
The Rams have partly benefited from a light schedule.  Some would say they were exposed during last week's game against Minnesota.  The Saints also lost to Minnesota way back in Week One, then fell to the Pats in Week Two.  They are 8-0 since, and will roll to their ninth straight victory.
Loss  26-20 Rams

Jaguars -5 (CARDINALS)
Yuck!  I'd stay away from this game.  Either way you look at this, one pick-six and POOF! there goes an otherwise no-brainer.
Loss  27-24 Cardinals

RAIDERS -5 (Broncos)
At least the Raiders still have something to play for.  I'd even consider this a best bet.
WIN  21-14 Raiders

STEELERS -14 (Packers)
Outside of two early seasons losses against the Bears and Jaguars, the Steelers have defeated everyone they were supposed to beat.  If they feed off the home crowd, they should easily cover.  They've put up 109 points in their last four games.  Meanwhile, the Packers have allowed 96 points in their last four games.
Loss  31-28 Steelers

Schmear of the Week: (6-5)
Panthers -4 1/2

Guten Appetit:
Food ... really?

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

Week Twelve Record (w/Thanksgiving):  6-9
Overall Record:  67-81-4
Schmear of the Week:  7-5
Bagels in the Basket:  -12

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

PIGSKIN 2017: Thanksgiving Day


Week Twelve


Week Eleven Record:  7-4-1
Overall Record:  61-72-4
Schmear of the Week:  6-5
Bagels in the Basket:  -12

LIONS +3 (Vikings)
Never bet against the Lions, at home, on Thanksgiving Day.  It's been that way since I'm a kid.  I have a hunch the Lions win if their defense shows up hungry.

FLAG on the Pick!

Upon further review, I'll be siding with the Vikings instead.  I know the Lions beat the Vikes earlier this season.  But the Lions followed that up with consecutive losses against the Panthers, Saints, and Steelers.  Then went on to defeat Green Bay minus Aaron Rogers, the lowly Browns, and the sickly Bears.  Not impressed ... the Vikings should indeed be three-point favorites, damn it!  They've earned that respect.  I'm taking Vikings laying three on the road.
WIN  30-23 Vikings

COWBOYS Pick'em (Chargers)
The Chargers stuck some voltage into Buffalo, didn't they?  About that - Generally speaking, the AFC is the weaker conference.  There are only five teams playing above .500 and LAC isn't one of them.  Instead, they're among six AFC teams with a 4-6 record entering Week Twelve.  Meanwhile the depleted Cowboys got all clawed up last week by the Eagles at Dallas.  Without Ezekiel Elliott, the Boys have fallen to 5-5 and are fading fast.  In fact, they have been outscored 68-16 in their last two games.  The NFC boasts eight teams above the .500 mark, with Philadelphia leading the way.  Therefore, I'll take the team representing the tougher conference.  Dallas still has that offensive line to work with.  It's up to Dak Prescott to put his big boy pants on and prevail with, or without Dez Bryant's help.  With Jason Witten, there's always way.
Loss  28-6 Chargers

Giants +7 (D.C. HOGS)
The Giants still have many good players on the field.  If they commit to Orleans Darkwa and let him rush more than 20 times, that can open up play-action for Eli Manning and the Anonymous Four.  As was the case against the Chiefs, however, the Giants defense will once again need to propel them to victory.  The Hogs are just way too beat up on defense to have any chance of influencing the Giants into playing catch-up football.  I think.  I'm a fan, so what do I know?  All we want is for Big Blue to cover.  Of course we do.  Careful, though, this game could just as easily make you feel sick to your stomach.
Loss  20-10 Hogs

And The Big Blue Film Award Goes To ...
The final six games of the season will determine whether Ben McAdoo has truly thwarted a rebellion (not that it matters, as Jerry Reese and McAdoo are both seemingly in their final games with the Giants).  In the meantime, their Week Eleven performance against the free-falling Chiefs would suggest, for the moment, McAdoo at least has the team's attention.

Well done by him.  When all else fails, break from routine; audible.  It only took him ten weeks, but he did just that after the Giants humiliating Week Ten loss against the Niners.  He made the entire team watch the game film together, as opposed to the offense and defense going their respective ways.

That can be humbling because players were no longer being evaluated by their coach, per se.  The head coach left the players exposed to being judged by the entirety of their piers.  The overall effort in Week Eleven demonstrated a tangible result in McAdoo's tactic.  Smart move; perhaps desperate; maybe even lucky.  If he somehow inspired the Giants into playing for their fellow man again ... freaking brilliant.

I'm very thankful for everyone who has ever spent time visiting this thing I call 
The Brooklyn Trolley Blogger, and especially appreciative of those who continue frequenting despite all my flaws and failures as a writer.  Thank You.


Sunday, November 19, 2017

N.Y. Jets: Potential Lame Duck In Flight Path

From the desk of:  WALT MICHAELS REVENGE

Depends On Your Point Of View

New York Jets: Gang Green will continue playing hard for Todd Bowles through final six games of season, but will front office reciprocate with a contract extension?

The Jets are playing beyond expectations, right?  

Why, then, is Todd Bowles' future with the Jets still in question?  

That's all I hear from most media pundits - Todd Bowles is coaching for a contract extension.

What a bunch of bunk!

I don't know how Mike Maccagnan feels about him.  After all, the Jets had already initiated the process of searching out a new head coach before reaching an agreement with Maccagnan.  Although he would eventually have his interview with Bowles and the two moved forward together.  Or, so we think.

Bowles is now 19-23 in 42 games as Jets head coach.  The Jets went 10-6 in his first season, but all people bring up is his 9-17 record since last season through the present time.  That's just unfair.  Despite Maccagnan's off-season quasi roster purge, Todd Bowles has already coached this year's youngsters and leftovers to within one victory of last season's total.

On the positive side, the Jets are 4-6 so far this season, largely due to the performance of their defense and quarterback Josh McCown.  On the negative side, the Jets are 4-6 due to Mike Maccagnan's roster maneuverings, leaving Todd Bowles caught somewhere in the middle.

The Jets still have a tough schedule ahead:
  • Panthers
  • Chiefs
  • @ Broncos
  • @ Saints
  • Chargers
  • @ Patriots
They can easily lose four (or more), and with any luck win three.  This is not necessarily where Jets fans wanted to be at this juncture as it pertains to next year's draft.  Playing all out for Todd Bowles isn't getting the Jets any closer to resolving their decades long problem at quarterback.  

But these players will not let up on their coach, which is a testament to the culture of professionalism established by Todd Bowles, and just as important.  Look no further than the Giants, whom find themselves in a complete state of dysfunction.  If anything, credit Mike Maccagnan for purging the locker room of pollutants.  But credit Todd Bowles for setting the team's demeanor.

While the present moment is not necessarily the most appropriate time for presenting Bowles with a contract extension, it should, however, be one of the first things the Jets front office does upon season's end.  

There's no way they can let him enter the final year of his contract as a lame duck coach.

What a mistake that would be.

N.Y. Giants: Ben McAdoo Breaks Out The Pom-Poms

from the desk of:  DO IT FOR THE DUKE

Giants Are Double-Digit Underdogs At Home
Oh, The Shame!

Kansas City Chiefs
New York Giants

New York Giants: Coach McAdoo Says Come Out To Met Life Stadium To Watch A Great Show; We Plan On Playing Great Football On Sunday And Getting A Win.

The man sounds delusional, but I'll play along and talk strategy for the hell of it.

The New England Patriots defense actually leads the NFL in most yards allowed per game.  However, you can chalk much of that on a poor start during their first four games of the season.  Since then, they've clamped down, limiting their opposition to just 13 ppg over their last five games.

Second on the list are the Giants, having allowed an average of 400.3 yards per game.  No wonder there.  Suspensions in the secondary, injuries to the defensive line and linebackers, and overall poor play speak for themselves.

Fourth on the list are the Indianapolis Colts.  They're just terrible.

Surprisingly sandwiched in at number three on the list are the Kansas City Chiefs.  They've allowed an average of 390.3 yards per game, and like the Giants, have surrendered an average of 6.0 yards per play!  I know losing safety Eric Berry hurt them.  But I'm nevertheless surprised that K.C. is the only division leader (of eight) to have surrendered more than 200 points so far.

Once upon a time, that would have been welcome news for the old smash mouth Giants of yore.

But without Weston Richburg and Justin Pugh, the offensive line isn't likely to be creating much daylight.  D.J. Fluker is also dealing with a barking knee and has only engaged in limited practice.  Whatever Orleans Darkwa gains will be won through his own individual efforts.

Shane Vereen has become a non-entity. And the back-up receivers are still not up to snuff, at which point, it becomes easier for the Chiefs to eliminate either tight end Evan Engram or Rhett Ellison.  That being said, don't count on much pass protection for Eli Manning.  I counted on numerous occasions how the 49ers were on Eli Manning in three seconds flat. 

But you know what they say about any given Sunday.  If the Giants can put together a respectable offensive effort, the Chiefs defense just might be willing to oblige.

Giants fans can only hope Coach McAdoo's ploy to view last week's game film in front of the whole team works out.  Although that seemed directed at the defensive side of the ball, perhaps most players will indeed have become embarrassed enough into putting forth better performances this week.

This big money defense still has big problems. 

Landon Collins, DRC, Eli Apple, and Janoris Jenkins, all need to redeem themselves, and do a little bit of growing up as well.  Linebacker B.J. Goodson is out this week, and upon returning from his injury Jonathan Casillas still appeared a step behind the competition last week.  Snacks Harrison is dealing with a bum ankle, while JPP is still being hampered by a disagreeable knee.  At least Olivier Vernon has played well since returning from injury, but he can't stop Alex Smith and tight end Travis Keice by himself.

Who is going to step up?

John Mara and Robert Tisch have spoken.  The Giants will finish out the season with Ben McAdoo as head coach, and Jerry Reese as general manager.

I agree with them.  Don't change a thing. 

As if life on the hot seat wasn't making McAdoo sweat already, he will most certainly be judged all game against Kansas City head coach Andy Reid.  Be sure ownership will be watching this particular match-up very closely.

Let McAdoo and Reese own this (and increase our odds for securing a high draft pick).  Besides, adversity reveals character.  We are beginning to learn which players are committed to playing the game, and which chose to comport themselves in a professional manner, versus those more willing to just go through the motions, and focusing on self-serving interests.

Brooklyn Nets: Spencer Dinwiddie Makes His Point

From the desk of:  THE HOOPS OF FLATBUSH

Two Player's Injuries Are Another Man's Opportunity

Brooklyn Nets: Spencer Dinwiddie Apparently Loves Playing Jazz; Drops Career High 25 Points Against Utah.

I'm no third man in; I'm Spencer freakin Dinwiddie!

At least that's what I would be saying ...

With Jeremy Lin out for the season, and D'Angelo Russell undergoing surgery on Friday, the Nets are obviously compromised at point guard.  Just don't say that around Spencer Dinwiddie, who started at point Friday night against the Utah Jazz, and led all scorers in Brooklyn's 118-107 victory at Barclays Center.

It was a payback victory for Brooklyn after falling 114-106 last Saturday in Utah.

Signed as a free agent, Spencer Dinwiddie, 24-years old, saw limited action during his first two seasons with the Detroit Pistons.  In 14 games so far this season, he is averaging 11 points and 5.6 assists per game, and is shooting 44% from beyond the three.  He's been averaging about a minute more per game this season over last, but that will surely continue changing in the games to come.

In Friday's start against the Jazz, Spencer led the team with a career high 25 points, grabbed a team high eight (all defensive) rebounds, tied for team lead with five assists, while playing a team leading 31:00 minutes.  He was 9 of 14 (64%) from the field, and 6 of 10 (60%) from long range.

His last two games, Tuesday against Boston and this last game against Utah, mark the first time all season Dinwiddie has played thirty minutes in back to back games.  He hadn't previously played thirty minutes since Oct. 29, and only posted his first thirty minute night two games prior to that, making it four times in 14 games to date.

D'Angelo Russell was leading the Nets with 20.9 ppg, and 5.7 assists through 12 games.  He was also limited to 63 games last season while with the Los Angeles Lakers due to an unrelated knee injury.

Unlike Jeremy Lin, the team expressed confidence D'Angelo Russell will return later this season.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

LIU/Brooklyn Blackbirds Split Pair in Jamaica Classic

From the desk of:  THE HOOPS OF FLATBUSH

U of Hartford    94
LIU/Brooklyn    96

LIU/Brooklyn Blackbirds: Derek Kellogg Earns First Win As Head Coach.

LIU thundered to a 104-68 homecoming victory over the College of New Rochelle Blue Angels this past Wednesday at the Steinberg Wellness Center, marking their first win of the 2017-2018 regular season, and Derek Kellogg's first victory as Blackbirds head coach.

All five Blackbirds starters scored in double-digits, led by Joel Hernandez' game best 19 points.  Raiquan Clark added 17 points, and tied with Jamall Robinson (off the bench) with a game high five assists.  Eral Penn led all players with 13 rebounds in 17 minutes off the bench, while Zach Coleman secured another 11 rebounds and scored ten points.

The Blackbirds were just 11 of 40 (27%) from three-point range.  But otherwise commanded play down low, outscoring CNR 48-30 in the paint, and out-working them for a 56-38 advantage on the boards.  In turn, LIU posted 23 fast-break points against just eight for the Blue Angels.

Flatbush Hoops Split Pair in Jamaica Classic

The team traveled to Montego Bay for the 2017 Jamaican Classic this weekend and will be returning with a mixed bag of goods. 

The Miami(Ohio) Red Hawks edged out the Blackbirds 78-74 in Friday's match.  LIU got off to a poor start, converting on just 8 of 23 (23%) attempts from the field, and only 4 of 14 from beyond the three, resulting in a 21-34 halftime deficit. 

As was the case against Tulane, LIU's second half effort fell just short of its mark.  Zach Coleman's three-pointer with just 0:03 second left got the Blackbirds within two points of MiamiOH.  But after LIU's Jashaun Agosto followed-up with the obligatory foul, Red Hawks Darrian Ringo hit both free throws giving MiamiOH a four point final margin of victory.

Saturday's game against the University of Hartford Hawks was yet another tightly contested affair.  Jashaun Agosto's three put LIU up 86-80 with just 01:30 to go.  An ill advised foul at the 01:16 mark allowed Hartford to close within four.  After trading missed shot attempts, the Hawks scored on a layup at 00:40 to close within two.  LIU's Zach Coleman followed with a missed three-point attempt with 00:16 seconds left.  Hartford secured the rebound, but likewise missed a three-point attempt with 00:03 second left, giving the Blackbirds an 86-84 victory.

With team rebounds, assists, turnovers, and free throws, evenly playing out, LIU's ability to connect from long range proved the difference against the Hawks, connecting on 12 of 23 (53%), versus 8 of 24 (33%) for Hartford.  Raul Frias was a perfect 3/3, while Zach Coleman hit half of his eight attempts from beyond the three.

Although the Blackbirds lost the battle in the paint 30-38, their bench outscored Hartford's by a 19-8 spread.  Raiquan Clark led the Blackbirds with 21 points and eight rebounds.

  • LIU was outscored by a slim 160-162 aggregate score through two games of the Jamaica Classic.

Goodbye beautiful Jamaica!  The team now heads back north into New England, where they'll take on the University of Massachusetts/Lowell River Hawks, then face Brown University in Providence, R.I.

The University of Hartford will visit the Steinberg Wellness Center on Nov. 30 for a return match against the Blackbirds.

PIGSKIN 2017: Week Eleven

Week Eleven


Public Address Announcements:
An occasional reminder as to how this all works.  The preferred unit of value around here is the hand-rolled Bagel.  Each game counts for one.  I post a Schmear of the Week which is worth three Bagels.  I try my best to have these picks in by Friday evening, and most always use Friday's line from one of the daily tabloids.  If for any reason you lose real money following my advice, that's your freakin' problem.  I'm just having fun.

PIGSKIN:  Since Washington owner Dan Snyder won't change his team's name and logo, I did it for him.  You'll notice this blog refers to them as the D.C. Hogs.  I also like to cook, and do all my tailgating right here at home.  Therefore my picks come with a weekly menu.  Got a recipe you care to share?

Week Ten Record:  6-6
Overall Record:  54-68-3
Schmear of the Week:  5-5
Bagels in the Basket:  -17

1st and Ten:
  • It's on! A no-holds barred Texas Death match: The heel Jerry Jones has fired the first shot directly across the bow of baby face Roger Goodell.  Referring to Roger Goodell's handling of Deflate Gate, Jerry Jones said according to this article, "Bob Kraft is a p***y compared to what I'm gonna do."
  • I know it sounds crazy, but the Cleveland Browns might actually win their first game of the season .. against the Jaguars?
2nd and Long:
  • Janoris Jenkins just make his second huge mistake; first, not taking accountability for his play, then telling the press he doesn't care what the fans think of his play.  You will not win battles against the fans, dude.
No Gain:
  • Parity is as Parity does: 15 of 32 NFL teams have losing records, which includes two second place clubs (Ravens, Raiders).
The Canadian Football League is down to its final four:
  • Eastern Final:  Saskatchewan Roughriders @ TORONTO ARGONAUTS
  • Western Final:  Edmonton Eskimos @ CALGARY STAMPEDERS

Friday Line ~ NYDN

Chiefs -10 1/2 (GIANTS)
Look at all those points ... at home.  Oh, the shame!  Sure, the Giants defense can have a comeback effort, but that offense ... pfft!
Loss  12-9 Giants

BEARS +3 (Lions)
Lions have been unreliable and are an indoor team.  I'll take those points.  Gimmie the outdoor team in Chicago this week.
PUSH  27-23 Lions

Bucs +1 (DOLPHINS)
I have no idea how the Sea Mammals have a 4-4 record.  I say Tampa wins by default.
WIN  30-20 Bucs

Ravens -2 (PACKERS)
Nice win by the Packers last week ... but it came against the Bears.  Let me see the Pack's back-up QB do that again against the Ravens defense.
WIN  23-0 Ravens

Rams +2 (VIKINGS)
Great game!  I'll gladly take my chances with the points.  The Rams are undefeated on the road.
Loss  24-7 Vikings

TEXANS -1 (Cardinals)
This is not about what the Texans can do, more than what the Cardinals can't do, which is score.  I'll lean on Houston's defense and lay the point.
WIN  31-21 Texans

BROWNS +7 1/2 (Jaguars)
Throwing the Dog Pound a bone.  I do not expect the Browns to win; I just love the points.  The Browns can run the ball, and the Jaguars can't stop the run.  If the Browns are destined to win at least one game this season, this might actually be the one.
Loss  19-7 Jaguars

SAINTS -7 1/2 (D.C. Hogs)
I thought the Saint were going to hit a wall last week.  I was wrong.  Shame on me.  The Hogs on the other hand are what their record says they are.
Loss  34-31 Saints

CHARGERS -4 (Bills)
If the Chargers win, but no one is there to see it, do they still win?  The Bills revealed themselves over the last two weeks.  I got duped each time.  I'm assuming Philip Rivers will play.  Not that anyone in Los Angeles cares.
WIN  54-24 Chargers

Bengals +2 1/2 (BRONCOS)
See the Ravens game ... If Vegas isn't giving the home team respect, why should I?
WIN  20-17 Bengals

Los Patriotas -6 1/2 (Los Raiders) *Mexico City
Preparase para un incidente internacional.  Este juego tiene reventon estampado por todas partes.
WIN  33-8 Patriots

Eagles-4 (COWBOYS)
Two words: Ezekiel Elliott.  Besides, Jerry Jones doesn't care about wins and losses anymore.  He's more consumed with making Roger Goodell disappear.
WIN  37-9 Eagles

Schmear of the Week
Los Patriotas -6 1/2

*NOTE: I will be posting a Week Twelve edition of Thanksgiving Pigskin.

Guten Appetit
  • Guacamole dip and chips.  Homemade onion rings.
  • Homemade chicken fries!  Slice one chicken breast into eight smaller strips; prepare with one pack of Shake and Bake.  Try it, otherwise with breadcrumbs you're just making cutlets. 😐  Add honey to some BBQ sauce and a splash of Tabasco sauce for an accompanying dip.
  • Wraps: Prosciutto/sun dried tomato/fresh mozzarella/roasted red peppers/fried garlic and onion bits/cut into six smaller portions/ olive oil and vinegar dip on the side.
  • Stuffed bell peppers for the evening meal.

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

Post Game:
Week Eleven Record:  7-4-1
Overall Record:  61-72-4
Schmear of the Week:  6-5
Bagels in the Basket:  -12

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

N.Y. Knicks: LeBron's Tour de Force

From the desk of:  DUTCH PANTS CAN'T JUMP

Attention Passengers: Please Pay No Mind To LeBron James

Cavaliers  104
Knicks       101

New York Knicks: LeBron James Takes A Day Long Bite Of The Big Apple.

At some point prior to his arrival in town, LeBron James decided he was going to take a day-long bite out of the Big Apple, chew it, and spit it out upon our sidewalks.

What inspired this?  I don't know.

The day started with unsolicited, and very pointed remarks made by LeBron James directed towards Phil Jackson, his draft selections, and the New York Knicks in general.

After Cleveland's early shoot-around, LeBron and Company then decided to make a live social media appearance aboard the NYC subway system.  At one point admitting he'd previously been on the Philadelphia system, but never the MTA.  That was only too obvious, because he fails to realize we see clowns like him on the trains damn near every day.

Man, I wish I could have been there to lend them directions ...

LeBron's subterranean adventure seemingly turned out well, because he made it back to Madison Square Garden for Monday night's game unscathed.  Something, though, must have transpired to sour his disposition, as he showed up on the court looking to play and posture like some sort of tough guy; pushing and bumping with this one, and jawing and jabbing at that one. 

You know the routine.

In the midst of all that, he led the Cleveland Tourists to a come from behind 104-101 victory.  King Shame led his fellow tourists with 23 points, a game high 12 assists, and just missed a triple-double with nine assists.

The game did go down to the wire.  So, good job by the Knicks.

Kristaps Porzingis scored 20 points, while Tim Hardaway Jr. and Enes Kanter both posted double-doubles.  Hardaway Jr. led all scorers with 28 points, while Kanter scored 20 and grabbed a game high 16 rebounds.

The Knicks limited Cleveland to 13 points in the 2nd quarter, and took a 51-38 lead into halftime.  They even widened their lead over the Cavs by 15 points, leading 76-61 after three quarters.

Cleveland then kicked into another gear during the fourth, outscoring the Knicks by a 43-25 margin.

On his way out of town, LeBron leaves us with the memory of a Monday loss.

What the hell did we do?

Monday, November 13, 2017

N.Y. Rangers: Mika Zibanejad Making Himself Center Of Attention


We Finally Have Good News To Report

New York Rangers
Chicago Blackhawks
The City That Invented 
Pizza Soup

NEW YORK RANGERS: Deal To Acquire Mika Zibanejad Getting Better By The Game.

That's what I'm talking about! 

I'm still no fan of Alain Vigneault, but I'll play nice.  Regardless of coach, six straight wins is something to rejoice.  Five coming against very solid opponents: Golden Knights, Lightning, Blue Jackets, Bruins, and Oilers.  The Florida Panthers ... not so much. 

How about going on the road and taking care of the Blackhawks now ...


Mika Zibanejad's next game (Wednesday night inn Chicago?) will be his 19th of the season. 

Zibanejad sustained a broken fibula during his 19th game of the season last year, limiting him to just 56 games, in which he still managed 14 goals and 37 points.

He started last season strongly, with 15 points in his first 19 games before getting hurt on Nov. 20 against the Panthers at Madison Square Garden.  Upon his return on Jan. 20, he managed ten points in his first 25 games back, but then closed out the regular season strongly again with ten points in his final 12 games.

Derick Brassard, meanwhile, worked a full schedule last season for Ottawa, yet managed no better than Zibanejad with 14 goals and 39 points in 81 games.  Mind you, Brassard was a 27 goal scorer just two seasons ago for the Rangers.  He just turned 30-years old this past September, and is off to a fine start so far this season with six goals and 15 points in 16 games.  That could potentially translate into his first ever 30-goal season.  However, unlike his time with the Rangers, he remains a virtual non-entity on the Senators power play for a second straight season.

Zibanejad, 24-years old, is six years younger than Brassard.  We're almost a quarter of the way through the regular season and he leads the Rangers with 18 points, (eight goals) through the team's first 18 games.  Ten of those points (five goals, five assists) have come on the power play.  He is not the top line center this organization for so long has desperately lacked.  At least not yet.  But, he may be on his way towards an 80-point season which is more than I've been able to say (or fantasize) about a Rangers forward for quite some time.

For the moment, he's fulfilling the role of being first line center.  By next Spring, we might be raking in one hell of a return considering the Rangers also sent a seventh round pick to Ottawa in exchange for their number two.

So, yeah, this deal is absolutely getting better by the game.

N.Y. Cosmos: Lost in San Francisco


N.Y. Cosmos    0
S.F. Deltas        2

New York Cosmos: Bid For Three-Peat Bogged Down By Deltas.

The New York Cosmos bid to win a third straight championship, and their fourth of the modern NASL era, ended in defeat Sunday night at San Francisco.

An improbable loss, considering the expansion San Francisco Deltas are now champions after their very first season of existence.  More so for Cosmos Country locals, considering the Cosmos finished the Spring session second in the league with 56 goals, then topped the Autumn session with 34 goals, yet fell to San Francisco two-nil.

They were made to play from behind early on.  San Francisco forward Tommy Heinemann converted a penalty kick at the 18:53 mark and the Deltas never looked back.  Frisco threatened again at the 59:40 mark when a centering pass was headed just wide/right of goal.  Then at 59:20, goalkeeper Jimmy Mauer made a huge stop from point blank range to keep the Cosmos within one.

New York forged ahead with fine chances inside the 76th and 77th minutes of play, but were ultimately turned away.

San Francisco sealed the victory with their second goal at the 4:38 mark of extra-time.  The game ending whistle sounded shortly thereafter.


The modern era NASL is a Division-II soccer league which began play in 2011, and has no affiliation with the original North American Soccer League.  Their desire to be sanctioned as a Division-I circuit compelled the NASL into taking issue against US Soccer over anti-trust matters.  In turn, US Soccer is now threatening to no longer sanction their Division-II status.  Barring a last minute agreement, the NASL appears under threat of folding.

N.Y. Giants: Big Blue Blight

From the desk of:  DO IT FOR THE DUKE

Creatures of the Blue Lagoon

New York Giants: We've Arrived at the Pit of Misery.

Dilly, Dilly!

What more can the Chiefs, Skins, Raiders, Cowboys, Eagles, and Cardinals, possibly do to make this any worse?

Let the Giants win?  Pfft!  That would be a real kick in the posterior, wouldn't it?

When the New York Giants start a season 1-8 for the first time since 1980, in part by losing to the previously winless (0-9) San Francisco 49ers, you know your season has officially hit rock bottom.

Under Ray Perkins at least the Giants had already begun the process of deconstruction and reconstruction.  After recognizing the err of their (Wellington Mara's) ways, new general manager George Young began drafting the likes of Phil Simms, and Lawrence Taylor, and continued further resetting the organization's future course.

San Francisco likewise knows exactly where rock bottom is, but unlike the Giants, have already begun the process of putting these days behind them.  They presently have a locker room filled with high draft picks that before long will likely have the Niners playing competitive football again.

The Giants, however, are still a piano falling out of the sky.  It behooves them to finally acknowledge that they've arrived at the end of another long cycle, and that it's time for another reset.

That decision, however, can not come from general manager Jerry Reese.  He'll only continue spinning the team bus wheels in the mud; throwing bad money here, and wasting another draft pick there.

A new direction must be decided upon by John Mara, who was on hand for Sunday's game at Levi's Stadium watching his grandfather's and father's team lose in rather embarrassing fashion, again.

In consecutive weeks, the Giants have now faced arguably the best and worst teams in the NFL.  Yet, their performance from game to game deviated very little.

With a fairly equal amount of offensive opportunity, the Giants gained 374 total yards in 29:30 minutes of possession against the Rams, then gained 310 total yards in 31:00 minutes against the Niners.  The Rams on the other hand amassed 473 total yards in 30:30 minutes of possession, while the Niners similarly totaled 474 yards in 29:00 minutes.  Both teams would join to defeat the Giants by a combined 82-38 disparity.

The respective outcome of these last two games are not a coincidence.  The numbers scream indifference; apathy; defeatism.

Otherwise, the entire 2017 season has indeed been a Big Blue Blight.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

LIU/Brooklyn Blackbirds: First Half in the Big Easy Proves Difficult

From the desk  of:  THE HOOPS OF FLATBUSH

LIU        96
Tulane  102

LIU/Brooklyn Blackbirds: Derek Kellogg's first half as head coach ends in defeat.  Otherwise, the game went well?

Despite tipping off the regular season in the Big Easy, the way Derek Kellogg's first game transpired as head coach of the LIU Blackbirds resembled nothing of the kind.

By no means were the Blackbirds rattled in New Orleans.  Far from it.  I'm not one for handing out participation trophies, but the second half of this game was a tremendous positive upon which to build upon.  

I'll simply be categorizing Friday night's season opening 102-96 loss against the Tulane Green Wave as a lesson learned twenty minutes too late.  But a lesson learned nonetheless.

After LIU jumped out to an early 13-4 lead, Tulane outpaced the Blackbirds through the remaining opening session by a 48-25 margin.  That could be attributable to the Green Wave's first half advantage (25-14) on the boards over Brooklyn.  Tulane shot fifty percent (19/38) from the floor in the first session, but inflicted their real damage on forty-one percent (7/17) from beyond the three-point line.  Meanwhile, Brooklyn lagged behind, converting at forty-seven percent (16/34), but just thirty percent (3/10) from beyond the three-point line.  In truth, though, Tulane's second chance opportunities on the offensive boards were ultimately LIU's undoing.  

Tulane's commanding 52-38 lead at the half wound up being a 14-point deficit Derek Kellogg's unit would not overcome.

The Blackbirds, however, demonstrated throughout the second session that halftime adjustment were clearly made.  LIU stiffened up on the boards which helped them get off ten more FG attempts in the second half than did Tulane.  They elevated to fifty-two percent (22/42) from the floor, and were thirty-seven percent (6/16) from beyond the three.  Tulane shot a slightly better fifty-three percent from the floor (17/32), but, as noted, on ten less attempts than LIU.  Defensively, Brooklyn minimized Tulane to just 2/7 from beyond the three, and essentially outplayed the Tulane Green Wave throughout the second half by a 58-50 margin.

The Blackbirds trailed Tulane by 17 points midway through the second half, yet clawed all the way back to within two points of the Green Wave with 00:23 second left.  Unfortunately, 96-98 would be as close as they would get.  

LIU missed a pair of three-point attempts in the closing seconds, while Tulane converted a pair of free throws to go back up by four, then another pair to seal the six-point margin of victory with just 00:08 seconds left.

Ultimately, Brooklyn's play in the paint left something to be desired.  They were outscored 46-52 in the paint, but an overall 32-46 disparity in rebounds ultimately translated into a 17-2 disparity in second chance points.

The second half proved it didn't have to be that way.

PIGSKIN 2017: Week Ten

Week Ten


Week Nine Record:  7-3-1
Overall Record:  48-62-3
Schmear of the Week:  4-5
Bagels in the Basket:  -20

1st and Ten
  • Tennessee may not be first place much longer.  They're the only first place team to have more points against than points for.  Jacksonville is poised to take over the AFC South.
  • How much longer can the Saints hold on to first place in the NFC South before Carolina takes over?
  • The Browns and 49ers still lead the race for next year's #1 overall draft pick.
  • The Eagles should waltz to an NFC East title now that Ezekiel Elliott is out for Dallas, just as Rams will put distance between them and the Seahawks now that Richard Sherman is out for the season.
  • Bill Belichick's next victory places him in a tie for third place on the all-time coaching wins list with Tom Landry.
2nd and Long
  • Legit Wild Card AFC: Bills, Titans/Jaguars.  The Outsiders: Raiders, Jets, Texans, Ravens.
  • Legit Wild Card NFC: Cowboys, Saints/Panthers, Lions, Seahawks.  The Outsiders: Redskins, Falcons.
No Gain
  • Sit down!  Ezekiel Elliott must begin serving his six week suspension post haste.
  • Did I mention Richard Sherman?
  • Bucs QB Jameis Winston got fined for POKING fun at Marshon Lattimore (Saints) last week which in turn ignited a sideline brawl.😂
  • Ow, my retinas! 😱 Thursday night's lime green Seattle Seahawks uniforms were hideous.
  • Kansas City Chiefs DT Roy Miller was arrested on domestic battery charges Saturday in Florida. Jerry Jones is already forming a coup d'etat against Roger Goodell over his handling of the Ezekiel Elliott matter.  So what's the commissioner gonna do now?  As Bart Scott once said - Can't Wait!

Friday Line ~ NYDN

Jets -2 1/2 (BUCS)
Welcome to the Lets Get Reacquainted Bowl: Fitzpatrick vs. McCown.  The Bucs are as bad as the Jets were predicted to be; the Jets are as good as the Bucs were supposed to be.
Loss  15-10 Bucs

Giants -2 1/2 (49ER)
As a Giants fan, I'm dying for them to lose.  But that might prove impossible against the 49ers.
Loss  31-21 Niners

Vikings -1 1/2 (D.C. HOGS)
Nice win by the Hogs last week.  No, really.  I mean it.
WIN  38-30 Vikings

BEARS -5 1/2 (Packers)
Packers are still too busy picking themselves up off the ground after last week's debacle against the Lions.  They've also demonstrated an inability to adapt their style in the absence of Aaron Rogers.
Loss  23-16 Packers

Steelers -10 (COLTS)
Andrew Luck is in Europe seeking treatment for his shoulder.  The rest of his team might as well join him.  Colts defense has allowed most points in the NFL.  Whatever discord, if any, that may have existed in the Steelers locker room, seems to have dissipated.
Loss  20-17 Steelers

Chargers +3 1/2 (JAGUARS)
This is going to be one of those NFL parity anomalies.  There's no way Philip Rivers should play well against Jacksonville's defense.  But that half-point keeps screaming at me, and I can't make it quiet down.
WIN  20-17 Jaguars  o.t.

TITANS -5 (Bengals)
The Bengals will bring all their dysfunction to Tennessee, and make the Titans offense look good.
Loss  24-20 Titans

BILLS +3 (Saints)
Typical market correction - the Bills aren't as bad as their performance against the Jets may indicate, nor are the Saints THAT good.
Loss  47-10 Saints

LIONS -11 1/2 (Browns)
There's nothing else to say other than, it's Cleveland.
WIN  38-24 Lions

RAMS -12 (Texans)
Unlike Cleveland, Houston's situation is just plain unfortunate.  Not comfortable laying this many points, but since it's the Rams I'll make an exception.
WIN  33-7 Rams

FALCONS -3 (Cowboys)
The Falcons are still an enigma.  The real question is, can Dak Prescott carry the Cowboys by himself now that Ezekiel Elliott is officially on suspension?  By the way, he'll have to do it without starting left tackle Tyron Smith.  Good luck with that.
WIN  27-7 Falcons

Patriots -7 1/2 (BRONCOS)
After allowing an average of 32 ppg in their first four games of the season, the Patriots have limited opponents to just 13 ppg over their last four games.  Oh, and the Patriots just signed Martellus Bennett.  Denver, meanwhile, has lost five of their last six games.
WIN  41-16 Patriots

Schmear of the Week:
Patriots -7 1/2

Guten Appetit
It's Autumn, baby!  A bit chilly and too close to Thanksgiving for anything crazy.  Soup and loaded grilled cheese sandwiches (for best results, get some exercise by going to the friggin' bakery, pick out some nice rolls, use provolone cheese, add some imagination, and press down hard).  Wash that down with a nice ginger ale, and you'll be mint.

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

Week Ten Record:  6-6
Overall Record:  54-68-3
Schmear of the Week:  5-5
Bagels in the Basket:  -17