Archives for April 2009

What’s Brewing in ’09: Plate Patience, Pirate Tantrums & Rickie vs. Rourke

By: Melissa S. Wollering

 
Doth my ears hear correctly?  Exsqueeze me?  Bacon powder? On Wednesday, the Brewers broke .500 for the first time this season. After a horrible start to April, that’s like beating the same odds Ben Linus has of becoming Chief of Staff to Jimmy Carter after getting off the island post-
Dharma Initiative.

 
Your Milwaukee Brewers have won seven out of their last eight to achieve that monumental task. Note 15 wins in a row against Pittsburgh and 18 in a row at Miller Park. Playing the Pirates every other series wouldn’t be so terrible, eh?  Strange enough, many of them have been close games and the Brewers always pull it out. Why can we only win close games against the Pirates?


AAAARRRRRRR, matey. The fans of those losing scoundrels are angry that the Brewers untuck their jerseys after a win. If you haven’t heard by now, the tradition is in honor of Mike Cameron’s father who used to untuck his shirt after a tough day’s work. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette blogs are chock full of dissenters. Really? One guy wrote that he wanted the Brewers’ Gatorade cooler tainted with swine flu because he’s so mad. Really?


Meantime, Yovani Gallardo went to bed Tuesday and woke up an ace pitcher 12 hours later. Put this into your TI-84’s and crunch it: 8 innings, 2 hits, 1 BB, 0 runs, 11 K’s. Perfect game through two outs into the 5th inning. Then he got ‘er done at the plate by going yard in the 7th on a 0-2 count for the only run of the game.


Did you know that’s two homers in only 12 at bats so far this season for Gallardo? TI-84 says at that pace, collecting 550 at bats this season could hypothetically produce 92 home runs while Gallardo maintains a .333 average. Yeah, and if frogs could fly they wouldn’t bump their ass when they hopped. Oh, Cassandra…


Baseball Musings says it is the first 1-0 game won by a starting pitcher’s home run since August of 2002, when Odalis Perez homered off Rick Helling a Dodgers win over the Diamondbacks. It is only the seventh time that has happened in the last 50 years, with Early Winn, Milt Pappas, Jim Bunning, Juan Pizarro and Bob Welch also completing the feat.

 
Corey Hart is inducing coronary failure ‘round the world as he forms a good habit – TAKING WALKS, THREE IN ONE GAME. I’m going to have the big one. Call an ambulance. On Tuesday, Hart reached base safely in all five of his plate appearances; 3 BB’s contributed to that.

 
Hart’s three were among a season-high NINE for Crew hitters on Tuesday.  BrewerFan.net has Ryan Braun on pace to take more than 100 walks this season. Jeromy Burnitz holds the Crew’s record for walks in a season with 99, so Braun and even Fielder could break that with this type of start.

Last year at this time, the Brewers had worked a mere 60 walks.  They’ve already marked 87 through 21 games this season. Their patience at the plate is so good that the Dalai Lama is channeling it during deep contemplation sessions, where it may silence tribal wars in Africa and achieve world peace.

Ben Sheets was spotted picking his nose in the dugout more times than any other Brewer in history.  Funny – Todd Coffey must have been passed some sort of torch because he was caught searching for an illegal substance to smuggle with him to the mound here. 

watch?v=_Bj45VNrM5w&feature=player_embedded

Carlos Corporan has been called up from the minors to replace Mike Rivera, who was placed on the DL. Corporan’s defensive skills are better than Angel Salome’s (if you’re wondering why Corporan).  He’s also batting well right now and Angel needs work at .182 or something pitiful like that.

M’boy minor-leaguer Lorenzo Cain almost had me in tears this week. However, the good news is he did not tear his ACL.  4-6 weeks off. Also, Mark Rogers is not injured.  He missed the last few starts.  Turns out he just ran into a wall while shagging fly balls.  Whew!  Although, which brain response is failing to communicate to your lower limbs that they should stop before running into walls?

No, the Brewers are not interested in signing Pedro Martinez.  Poor Doug Melvin. He despises rumors as much as Peter Christian despises Al Davis’ ignorance in drafts. By the way, Peter, Paul and Mary… No, kidding.  Peter Christian, Paul M. Banks and Rikki Greenberg all get shout outs for understanding my Jackson Pollack – Jorge Julio strike zone reference last week.  Outstanding. We have such a diverse palate of writers, all of whom appreciate the fine arts on thesportsbank.net. 


Trevor Hoffman recorded his 1st-ever save as a Brewer this week, complete with Hells Bells.  Apparently, Hoffman wants it not just playing—but blasting.  In a post-game interview, he told a reporter that it wasn’t loud enough and that he had looked into noise ordinances in the city of Milwaukee and was fairly certain the volume could be increased safely.  Trevor wasn’t afraid to express to Attanasio that he should invest in extra speakers and sub-woofers at Miller Park before the closer’s next appearance. Fiesty, feisty.

Ryan Braun extended the Pirates & Brewers history of scuffling by taking a clearly intentional hit from Jeff Karstens. Both benches were warned and nothing ensued the rest of the game. Still, do you remember Prince Fielder and Matt Capps’ Yosemite Sam episode from the ’07 season? Fire in the hole…


“Friendly Fire with the Cubs,” is short and sweet this week.  Milton Bradley is a head case.  His condemnation to a psych ward would not surprise me in the slightest.  Why, why, why does he open his mouth?

 
The Beer Pen knows how to satisfy Rickie-haters who can’t keep their mouth shut either.  Usually I scowl, but this week, they compare Rickie Weeks to Mickey Rourke.  And that IS funny.

Rourke’s acting career of flops, bombs, straight-to-TV-movies and gonorrhea mirrors “Dick Weeks’ ” career of strikeouts, errors, braided hair and gonorrhea. That’s pretty straightforward, actually. Rourke astonished the world with his performance as Marv in Sin City and then of course, The Wrestler. Rickie magically comes out this year and astonishes Brewer fans with his exceptional play.  Coincidence?  I don’t know, but credit is given Beer Pen.


In “Just a Bit Outside,” Bob Uecker shared dialogue during the bottom of the 1st Wednesday that I must share with you.  He told Cory Provus that he follows blogs, email and facebook but he doesn’t Twitter. Here’s why:

 

And finally in “Chart Magnificence,” I’m allowing empirical data and statistical graphs to sit the bench while The Beer Pen illustrates the greatest comic strip of the month. Can we play?

Exclusive with Gene Keady

Paul M. Banks

Current Big Ten analyst Gene Keady is a former basketball coach and NFL quarterback. That’s right, Keady was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 19th round with the 223rd pick overall in 1958. However, he’s most notable for being the head basketball coach at Purdue University from 1980 to 2005 and his famous combover hairstyle.
Keady became the winningest coach in Purdue history with 265 victories and second winningest in Big Ten history, behind only Bob Knight, and was the Big Ten Coach of the Year seven times. He was also National Coach of the Year six times in a sixteen year timescale from 1984 to 2000.

Keady hired former Purdue guard, Matt Painter (1989-1993), as his associate head coach for the 2004-2005 season. He was later selected to take over the head coaching position.

Keady retired from coaching after leading the school to 18 NCAA Tournament appearances. Mackey Arena’s basketball court was named “Keady Court” in dedication. In October of 2006 Keady was named the recipient of the 2007 John R. Wooden “Legends of Coaching” Award. Keady won a Gold Medal in the 2000 Olympic Games as an assistant coach for Dream Team III. Keady’s national teams won a total of 2 gold, 1 silver and 1 bronze medals with a 22-2 record.

Footlocker.com

Paul M. Banks: So your Baby Boilers are grown up now and went on a run this past March. I know you attend the games regularly, what do you think of them?

Gene Keady: “I know we picked the right guy in Matt Painter. I’m really proud of the job he’s done. His teams play smart, they play hard and they play together. Now the pressure’s going to be on them, they’re going to be ranked in the top ten and people will expect them to move up to the next level. I think they really need to get a couple young kids to come in next year so that they have good depth.”

PMB: Tell me about why the word student comes first in the phrase student-athlete…

GK: “That’s why you go to school, to get your degree, get an education, the trouble is at a lot of schools they don’t put the student first, that’s one of the hypocritical things about it, but in the places that really count, like the Big Ten, it does come first and that’s one thing I’ve always been proud of: the Big Ten really stresses academics and graduates most of their kids.”

PMB: So what would you tell the cynical fan of the game who thinks education doesn’t truly get emphasized in the college basketball world? 

GK: “I’d tell them to look up their facts. There is just certain schools that have a reputation. They want to win first and get really good athletes and don’t graduate them and that’s a shame, and the president shouldn’t allow that to happen. They should get rid of the coach or start a new philosophy.”

PMB: Are you proud to see so many members of your coaching tree involved with the NABC, doing good works, moving up the ranks?

GK: “I know Bruce {Weber} is going to do it right, he’s always done it right, he teaches integrity, sportsmanship, does the right thing for the players, teaches kids the fundamentals and how to play the game right.”
PMB: So how are you enjoying your second career, being in the media sector of the sports business?

GK: “I’m having a lot of fun, I’m working with great guys, I’ve got a great boss and it’s been fun and the Big Ten is special to me because I’ve spent so many years in it, kind of weird because I never thought I’d be a good media person, but I’m really enjoying it.”
PMB: Kind of came natural from all your years at press conferences and having the spotlight on you?

GK: “Yeah, they do stuff in the studio where I know more about certain things and they put me on the spot. And I never will downgrade coaches unless they do something I don’t think is right. I try to help promote coaches.”

Footlocker.com

PMB: What can you say about Jerry Colangelo, the man that all of this is for. He may not be a Purdue guy, but it must feel good that he’s at least a Big Ten guy who’s becoming the first Court of Honor recipient?

GK: “He’s a person that people can look up to on how to do things right if you get an education at a great school like Illinois and you work hard.  He really has done a good job helping the hall of fame and promoting the NBA. He’s a guy that young executives should look up to.”

PMB: How does it feel to be among the basketball royalty who are involved with this event?

GK: “You’ll feel that you really helped the game of basketball, especially through reading and trying to promote the game and have integrity, which is really important to young coaches; and I’m just happy they invited me.”

Cub Fans Feeling Bitter Blues

By Rikki Greenberg

There’s always been something mystical and alluring about the Chicago Cubs. Whether it’s the players (Ernie Banks, Ryne Sandberg), the broadcasters (Harry Caray, Jack Brickhouse) Cubs fans consistently pack the house every baseball season.
One would think that after the huge letdown of last season’s NLDS and the already skeptical start to the 2009 season (Milton Bradley’s suspension and groin injury, Aramis Ramirez’s possible trip to the DL and the team’s mediocre start, enthusiasm for another “Lovable Losers” season would begin to fade, like the blue dye on a really old Cubs t-shirt.

The repetitive disappointments of almost-but-not-quite-there season finishes have truly begun to take their toll on the Cubbie faithful.

“I know that I am [bitter], said Paul Schmidt, sports writer and TSB contributor. “I felt as though the moves they made were classic overreactions to problems they had last season.”
Other Cub fans try to remain true to their optimistic nature, but concerns over habitual negative patterns create a conflicting mix of emotions.

“I feel like as a true fan, you should ALWAYS be optimistic about an upcoming season,” said Danny Jay, a lifelong Cubs fan living in California. “On the other hand though, what is it going to take for them to stop messing it up? Who knows? It’s hard to have faith for over a century.”

Other concerns over player troubles and performances complicate the path to World Series greatness and leave some fans shaking in their Cubbie boots.

“Our bullpen makes me nervous, with Marmol the only one I trust in sticky situations and close games,” said Scott Pinshower, a Cub fan since 1983 who’s well aware of his obsessive Cubbie nature.  Cub fans are definitely a jaded bunch. Who wouldn’t be after the quest to be World Champions is still going on after 101 years of setbacks?! After so many years devoid of happy ending, some Cub fans keep their emotions in check until the Cubbies reach the playoffs.

“I’m interested, but not as interested as I will be if they make the playoffs,” said John Brown, a fan who has been pledging allegiance to the Cubs for 23 years. “Last year hurt so much that now it doesn’t matter until the playoffs.”

For David Kmiecik, TSB Vice President and college hoops expert, the feelings are similar.
“For me, it’s almost gotten to the point where what the Cubs do during the season doesn’t mean a thing,” said Kmiecik. “They need to win a playoff series or even a single freakin’ postseason game before Cub fans might stop any bitterness.”

The fact that Cubs fans are taking a backseat approach to the 2009 season doesn’t come as a surprise. There’s only so much gas you can have in the tank before you hit empty. And the Cubs in October provide this feeling, if you add in a scenario with no gas stations around for miles. The members of Cubbie Nation will likely not start burning rubber again until something good happens in the playoffs, but given past performances, I’m not sure there will be something to go crazy about.

Blackhawks Face Much Bigger Challenge in 2nd Round

By Paul M. Banks

In their 54th all-time Stanley Cup Playoff appearance, the Chicago Blackhawks advanced to the Western Conference Semifinals 4-2 where they’ll meet the 3rd seeded Vancouver Canucks. If that 54 sounds super-high, remember that the Hawks are one of the NHL’s original six franchises. This series will be the third all-time Stanley Cup Playoff meeting between the Blackhawks and Canucks, with each club taking one series. The Blackhawks swept the Canucks 4-0 in the 1995 Western Conference Semifinals. Vancouver earned a 4-1 triumph over Chicago in the 1982 Campbell Conference (Younger readers may not remember the old names NHL divisions and conferences once had) Finals.

The Blackhawks have ruled Canada like Prime Minister Stephen Harper this season, owning a 15-5 record (including playoffs) versus Canadian teams this season. But this round will provide a much bigger challenge than Calgary did in the first round. Chicago and Vancouver split the four game regular-season series. The Blackhawks won the first two meetings (Oct. 19 at United Center, Dec. 20 at General Motors Place), before dropping the final two match-ups (Feb. 7 at GM Place and March 29 at the UC).

When Canucks opponents visit General Motors Place, they often find their offensive game plans to be as valuable as GM stock. That’s because the 26-12-5 at home Canucks feature Roberto Luongo, one of the hottest goalies in the game. Loungo posted a 4-0 record in Round One with a lights-out 1.15 GAA and .962 save percentage against St. Louis. He also netted his first career playoff shutout in Game 2. The last time he faced the Hawks, he registered a 26 save shutout. Key to this series will be the play of Blackhawks rookie Left Wing Kris Versteeg, because “Steeger” led the Hawks with 5 points in the season series with the Canucks. “We try to keep it simple and play within our limit and let the guys like {Martin} Havlat do their thin, and just try to play hard every night,” Versteeg said.

The Hawks currently have the dubious distinction of the longest Cup drought in the NHL. 1961 was the last time they drank from the Cup; supplementing their championships in 1934 and 1938.

Kris Versteeg Latest of Young Hawks Stars to Emerge

By Paul M. Banks

The rise of the Chicago Blackhawks franchise from obscurity to fan and media darling has been well documented. But there’s another (and even more positive ) story that also needs to be told. As bright as the present currently is, the future looks even better. The team’s leaders are a very young core of players whose best days are likely still in front of them. The most recent player to emerge is speedy left winger Kris Versteeg, one of three finalists for the 2009 Calder Trophy, given out annually to the league’s top rookie.

Great at both ends of the ice, Versteeg has the chance to become the ninth Chicago player in team history to be awarded the Calder Trophy and joins teammates Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews as the third Blackhawk in the last two seasons voted a Calder Trophy finalist.

Versteeg led all NHL rookies with 31 assists as part of a youthful nucleus that’s set to meet the Vancouver Canucks in the Western Conference semi-finals. His four shorthanded goals (or “shorties”) were also tops among League rookies and fourth overall. “Playing on this team we’re exciting, we play hard for each other and Kane and Toews, they’ve kind of been through it before and they know what it takes to do it,” Versteeg said.

Patrick Kane captured the honor last season. Other past Blackhawks to earn the award are: Mike Karakas (1936), Carl Dahlstrom (1938), Ed Litzenberger (1955), William Hay (1960), Tony Esposito (1970), Steve Larmer (1983) and Ed Belfour (1991). “It’s been huge just to be nominated for it,” Versteeg stated. The winner announced June 18th. The other two finalists for the award:

-Steve Mason, Columbus Blue Jackets. Named the NHL’s Rookie of the Month for both November and December, he accomplished a four-game winning streak where he stopped 94 of 95 shots. As Columbus captured the first playoff berth in franchise history, Mason’s 10 shutouts led the League and his 2.29 goals against average was second only to Boston’s Tim Thomas (2.10).

The second overall selection in the 2005 Draft, Ryan led all rookies with 31 goals and 57 points in just 64 games. Ryan earned Rookie of the Month honors for January with 11 goals and five assists in 14 games.

2nd Place Sox Exchange

By Soxman and Paul M. Banks

For the 2nd straight week, Soxman is once again in the driver’s seat at the Sportsbank, and plays host as Paul M. Banks pulls up a chair to talk 2nd place, 2nd thoughts on Brian Anderson, and a 2nd injury to Chris Getz.  We also move forward with the 2nd week of Maybe or Mirage, the Sportsbank’s White Sox version of ESPN’s 30-second drill.


SM: Well we are almost one month into the 2009 season and the standings say we are just an average team at 9-9.  I’m thinking of writing a book called A Tale of Two Teams to describe our Sox this season.  Want proof?  The Toronto Series.  We have seen some spectacular defense, such as the amazing diving catches by Brent Lillibridge and Jerry Owens, offensive execution and timely hitting in Saturday’s game, and then sloppy defense by Alexei Ramirez and Brian Anderson with offense that was just plain offensive in Friday’s 14-0 embarrassment.   Which performance do you think is reflective of the real team?


(PMB) Like on Sesame Street, “this week’s Sox Exchange is brought to you by the number 2.” I think this “two-faced” team is on pace for a 83 to 85 win season. I think you’re right about the roller-coaster. Expect a lot of results on this team (and in the AL Central overall) to not make a whole lot of sense. Ozzie told the media right before the season started that this team will be faster than last year’s, and that the only slow guys on this team are well, the middle-of-the-order guys we all know and love. This team should be able to move and bump and grind (with apologies to R. Kelly) out a few more runs than last season.

But I think the record will still decline from last year because I have bigger questions about our starting pitching, and as the old baseball saying goes “momentum is only as strong as tomorrow’s starting pitcher.” So that’s why we’ll see so much polarity.

SM: Speaking of Brian Anderson, it appears as though he’s making the most of his opportunity to become the everyday CF.  As you know, I have been one of his harshest critics, mostly because of the attitude he carried early in his career.   Don’t look now, but BA is leading the team in BA (pardon the pun), and has walked seven times leading all regulars with a .444 on base percentage (OBP).  Is it time for Soxman to admit that BA has finally arrived?

(PMB) Remember how down you were on Gavin Floyd at the beginning of 2008? His rapid progress shocked you (and pretty much everyone who saw him pitch in the Phillies organization) Still I just criticized BA harshly here last week.  His career batting average (.222) and on-base percentage (.282) are LAUGHABLY bad. However, Bobby Jenks was also once a prospect who seemingly loved the nightlife a bit too much and let it get in the way of augmenting his game. Ozzie helped straighten him out, if Anderson has got his ego in check…Perhaps now he’s matured and is ready to focus on developing his natural talent into making himself a true Major League hitter?

SM: Now onto the player who most resembles my exchange partner, Chris Getz, who could end up on the DL.  Can this kid catch a break (pardon the pun) or what?  He broke his wrist last season, hurt his hand early in the season, and now a broken finger.  He was handling lead-off duties well, hitting .340 with 3 SB and a .404 OBP., second best on the team.  Ozzie said Sunday that Gordon Beckham will not be called up in 2009 leaving Brent Lillibridge and Jayson Nix as the only viable alternatives.  Who do you think will man 2nd base and the lead-off spot?  Huge swallow…from a speed and statistical perspective, Brian Anderson is currently the best candidate.

(PMB) I’d love to get a Getz jersey t-shirt, but I’m hoping that he can stay off the DL long enough to get them from production to market. Ozzie raves about his potential- especially as a leadoff hitter. He’s certainly paid his dues, perhaps karma is about to bring him some well-deserved and better fortune. Nix’s injury was equally unfortunate and set him way back in the second-sacker race. Perhaps we can move Alexei back to this spot and bring back Orlando Cabrera? It took him awhile to get signed in the off-season…(J/K LOL!) Obviously, we’ll see pigs fly first.

If we could just build a Lillibridge to the portion of the season with a healthier roster and better depth, By that I mean, just tread water with Brent leading off until we have options again, I think it’s our best scenario. BA as the best plann?!?! You just scared the beJesus out of me as well as baseball fans from the South Loop to Tinley Park with that statement.



(SM) Alright lets close this week out with a piece growing in popularity Maybe or Mirage, where we hit 5 quick points on the White Sox and offer our opinion whether it is a sign of things to come or something likely to fade quickly.  Remember, no answer can be longer than 20 words!  Let’s play ball…


Lance Broadway will solidify the innings eater void in the bullpen.

(SM)  Mirage, “Jazz Hands” was 0-2 with a 5.63 ERA (10 ER/16.0 IP) and 15 strikeouts in three starts with Charlotte this season.  Two words:  Aaron Poreda.

(PMB) Mirage. I can’t think of any pitcher named like the lead in a cheesy elaborate big-budget musical who’s ever been good. He’s a bust like Joe Borchard.

Ken Griffey Jr. will hurt the White Sox in his return to Chicago this week.

(SM) Maybe.  Despite hitting just .192, Thomas and Crede homered in their return to the Cell.  Cue the Soul Glow music.

(PMB) Mirage. Jr. back in Seattle is like Willie Mays as a New York Met or The Babe as a Boston Brave: a way-past-their-prime legend returns to the city he started in to finish his career

Paul Konerko is back.

(SM):  Maybe.  A .537 slugging percentage and 13 RBIs in 12 games.  The Paulie wall is once again lit in the Sox Cave.

(PMB) Yes. What’s this? I’m just as optimistic if not more than SM this week! Usually I’m cynical.

Carlos Quentin is hiding an injury

(SM): Mirage.  2 hits in 11 at bats?  Bah.  He learned the damage bats can do. Now someone tell him about fastballs!

(PMB) Mirage. He had 7 HRs in like 10 days, He’s just coming down to Earth after an off-the-charts beginning.

John Danks is the Best Pitcher on the White Sox.

(SM): Maybe. 2-0, and a 0.95 ERA, second best in the AL.  I’m officially on the Danks bandwagon.

(PMB) Agreed. He’s developing into a star, which is especially great because Jack Egbert (6.43 ERA, 1.57 WHIP in AAA ball) and Jeff Marquez (0-3, 13.06 ERA for the Charlotte Knights) don’t seem to be!

2009 NBA Mock Draft

By: David K.

This is my second mock draft that has taken team needs into account.  Now that the NBA regular season is done, the preliminary order is set until the draft lottery takes place on May 19th.  The deadline has also passed for college underclassmen to announce if they are declaring for the draft or returning to school.  Those underclassmen that have yet to hire an agent have until June 15th to do so.  Remember, I got as many picks correct last year as ESPN’s “expert” Chad Ford and watched 274 college basketball games this season, so I feel pretty good about my projections.

1. Sacramento- Ricky Rubio, PG, Spain, 6-4, 1990
If the Kings land the top pick, it’s a gutsy call, but I think Rubio is their guy.  Sacramento has a few young bigs, but has a major need for a long-term franchise player and a point guard, both roles that Rubio can fill.  Plus, I think Rubio is the “sexier” pick and the Maloof brothers are all about “sexy.”
Think: Steve Nash

2. Washington – Blake Griffin, PF, Oklahoma, 6-9, So.
Griffin has proven to be the most dominant player in college basketball and will likely be the number one pick if any team but the Kings are selecting first.  While he doesn’t fill a need for the Wizards, he is too good to pass up with the second pick.
Think: Amare Stoudamire

3. L.A. Clippers- Hasheem Thabeet, C, UConn, 7-3, Jr.
The Clips already have Marcus Camby and Chris Kaman up-front, but Camby is a free agent after next season.  Thabeet is the third best prospect in this class and absolutely owns the paint on the defensive end.  Not being needed to contribute major minutes in his first season might actually be a good thing since his offensive game still needs to improve.
Think: Ben Wallace, but six inches taller

4. Oklahoma City- James Harden, SG, Arizona State, 6-5, So.
OKC would likely take a long look at Jordan Hill as well, but Harden fills a major void for a shooting guard.  He has the ability to take over a game whenever he wants, although he also tends to be too unselfish at times as well.  Harden would be a nice running mate for Kevin Durant.
Think: Paul Pierce

5. Minnesota- Tyreke Evans, G, Memphis, 6-6, Fr.
I love Evans and think he would be the perfect fit for the T-Wolves who need a player that can attack the basket which is Evans’ strength.  He can also play some point guard, a position that Randy Foye has never really taken over since arriving in Minnesota.  The knock on Evans is his inconsistent outside shot, but that improves with time.
Think: Manu Ginobli

6. Memphis – Jordan Hill, PF, Arizona, 6-10, So.
The Griz would be ecstatic if Hill fell to them.  With young perimeter players like Mike Conley, O.J. Mayo, and Rudy Gay, Memphis needs someone to play down low.  Hill has great athleticism which would be perfect for a young team that wants to run.  He also has nice touch around the basket, but will need to get stronger
Think: LaMarcus Aldridge

7. Golden State- Brandon Jennings, PG, Italy, 6-0, 1989
Jennings is one of the most intriguing prospects in this draft because he did not have great success playing overseas this year, but is loaded with potential.  He would be a perfect fit for a team needing a true point guard who can get other players involved, but also score when called upon.
Think: Kenny Anderson

8. New York- Demar DeRozan, SG, USC, 6-6, Fr.
With Larry Hughes, Cuttino Mobley, and Quentin Richardson all one year away from free agency, the Knicks need to find a long-term solution at the two-guard.  DeRozan is an incredible athlete and really came along strong during the final month of the season, though his three-point shot still needs work.
Think: Vince Carter

9. Toronto- Gerald Henderson, SG, Duke, 6-4, Jr.
The Raptors have a major hole for a wing player who can take it to the rack.  Henderson took a major step during his junior season and will likely continue to improve at the next level.  He is that athletic scorer needed in Toronto and can also stroke it from deep.
Think: J.R. Smith

10. Milwaukee- Jonny Flynn, PG, Syracuse, 6-0, So.
Flynn seems like a player who Scott Skiles would love to coach.  He is tough, plays with a lot of heart, and just gets it.  He understands how to run the point, when to be a distributor, when his team needs him to be a scorer.  Since Luke Ridnour is not the answer and Ramon Sessions is a free agent, Flynn is the choice.
Think: Raymond Felton

11. New Jersey- Earl Clark, SF, Louisville, 6-8, Jr.
This would be somewhat of a steal for the Nets at 11.  Clark has the potential to be a point forward-type player in the NBA, is a freak of an athlete, and has nice range on his jumper.  He would be a great fit in New Jersey as they need some help on the wing.
Think: Lamar Odom


12. Charlotte- Wayne Ellington, SG, UNC, 6-5, Jr.

Playing for the National Champion Tar Heels certainly elevated Ellington’s stock.  The Bobcats could use some depth on the wing and Ellington would provide that.  He has one of the smoothest shooting strokes in college hoops and can also take it to the rack.
Think: Richard Hamilton

13. Indiana- Stephen Curry, G, Davidson, 6-3, Jr.
Is he a one or a two?  Despite being the most talented pure shooter in college basketball and having limitless range from the outside, the fact that Dell’s son is a “tweener” could deter teams from taking him.  Plus, he is rail thin.  He likely won’t fall out of the lottery and the Pacers could use a sharpshooter to bring off their bench.
Think: Jason Terry

14. Phoenix- Ty Lawson, PG, UNC, 5-11, Jr.
Steve Nash is getting up their in age and if the Suns pick up his option for next season, would become a free agent in 2010.  Like Ellington, Lawson’s stock soared during UNC’s title run.  He was probably the best floor general in college hoops and has greatly improved his three-point shot.
Think: Jameer Nelson

15. Detroit- Jeff Teague, PG, Wake Forest, 6-1, So.
I think it’s safe to say the Allen Iverson deal backfired.  AI and Rasheed Wallace are both free agents so the Pistons could go in either direction with this pick.  Teague is a scoring point guard who shot the ball at a very high percentage last season.
Think: Keyon Dooling

16. Chicago- DeJuan Blair, PF, Pitt, 6-7, So
It has been pretty clear against the Celtics, that the Bulls lack that low post bruiser.  Enter Blair.  At 6-7, he is undersized to play power forward, but he is just so strong and long which makes him a force on the block and board.  It is uncertain how that will translate to the pro game, as Blair will need to work on his mid-range jumper to be effective at the next level.  A shooting guard could also be an option in case Ben Gordon leaves via free agency.
Think: Craig Smith

17. Philadelphia- Eric Maynor, PG, VCU, 6-3, Sr.
With Andre Miller eligible for free agency, the Sixers likely draft a point guard..  Maynor is a playmaker on the offensive end, a true floor general, and has good size to play the point in the NBA.  He must continue to become a more consistent shooter.
Think: Antonio Daniels

18. #Minnesota- Terrence Williams, SF, Louisville, 6-6, Sr.
With the second of their three first round picks, I still think the T-Wolves need to address their need for athletes on the wing.  Williams is the definition of versatile.  He attacks the hoop, is a very improved shooter, can rebound, is a great passer, and plays defense.  I think he is a steal of a mid-first round pick.
Think: Gerald Wallace.

19. Atlanta- James Johnson, F, Wake Forest, 6-9, So.
With only seven players under contract for next season, the Hawks need depth at every position and probably take the best available player.  One major NBA Draft web-site has Johnson listed as the tenth best prospect in this draft, which is a bit ridiculous in my mind.  The former Demon Deacon is an athletic forward who can play the three or four, and while his frame is ready for the rigor of the NBA, his shot is not.
Think: Wilson Chandler

20. Utah- B.J. Mullens, C, Ohio State, 7-0, Fr.
I am still surprised Mullens decided to go pro as he would have been better served returning to the Buckeyes and developing his game.  But based on his athleticism, size, and potential, he is definitely worth a mid-first round pick  The Jazz likely go for a post player since Carlos Boozer and Mehmet Okur could both opt out of their contracts this off-season.
Think: Spencer Hawes

21. New Orleans- Patrick Patterson, PF, Kentucky, 6-9, So.
The Hornets need to add some depth up-front as Hilton Armstrong is their only reserve post player under contract for next season.  Patterson has a nice combination of size, strength, and athleticism, and decent range on his jumper.
Think: Kenyon Martin

22. Dallas- Gani Lawal, F, Georgia Tech, 6-8, So.
The Mavs have two important players entering free agency, Jason Kidd and Brandon Bass, so drafting a replacement for either makes sense.  Lawal is a slightly under-sized power forward who has a nice low-post game.  He is a solid rebounder, decent shot blocker, but doesn’t have much of a perimeter game.
Think: Brandon Bass

23. &Sacramento- Chase Budinger, G/F, Arizona, 6-7, Jr.
Assuming the Kings take Rubio at #1, they should look for a wing player here. Budinger’s strength is his versatility.  He can jump out of the gym, hit the three ball, and has a nice inside-outside game, but his tendency to disappear during stretches is a major knock.
Think: Stephen Jackson

24. Portland- Victor Claver, F, Spain, 6-11, 1989
The Blazers roster is pretty much set for next season, so the logical move would be to trade out of this pick or draft another Euro player and stash him overseas.  Claver is a typical Euro-style player in that he is long, has a good all-around skill set, but needs to get stronger.
Think: Donte Greene

25. +Oklahoma City- Tyler Hansbrough, PF, UNC, 6-9, Sr.
Despite being one of the most decorated in recent college basketball history, a lot of people are questioning how his game will translate into the NBA.  I don’t see him being anything more than an energy guy off the bench at the next level, but could bring his work ethic and winning mentality to OKC.
Think: Eduardo Najera

26. %Chicago- Sam Young, G/F, Pitt, 6-6, Sr.
Since I have the Bulls going big at #16, they likely take a wing player in case Gordon does bolt this off-season.  Young can elevate, hit it from deep, has a tremendous basketball IQ, can take bigger defenders off the dribble and post up smaller guys.  His lack of NBA-type athleticism drops him to this spot.
Think: Michael Finley

27. $Memphis- Patty Mills, PG, St. Mary’s, 5-11, So.
The Griz are likely to address their need for a back-up point guard with this pick.  Mills can create his own shot, excels in transition, and is lightning quick off the dribble.  He had a very successful Olympics last summer playing for Australia and caught the eyes of a lot of NBA scouts.
Think: Ramon Sessions

28. ^Minnesota- Damion James, SF, Texas, 6-8, Jr.
I doubt the T-Wolves actually keep all three of their picks, but James would be a good value here.  A sub par season hurt his stock as he was once a projected lottery pick.  He was one of the most aggressive offensive rebounders in college basketball, has an NBA-ready build, and a nice shot from the perimeter.
Think: Maurice Evans

29. L.A. Lakers- Tyler Smith, SF, Tennessee, 6-7, Jr.
Smith would provide some insurance if Lamar Odom leaves via free agency.  The former Vol is fearless when attacking the hoop and thrives on the break.  He is not a great outside shooter, but his rebounding and passing abilities help his stock.
Think: Thabo Sefolosha

30. Cleveland- Marcus Thornton, SG, LSU, 6-4, Sr.

Thornton is a little undersized to play the two in the NBA, but there is no question the kid can flat-out shoot the rock, and what he lacks in size, he makes up for in strength.  I think he would be a great late first round pick especially for the Cavs who would just need him to compliment LeBron for a few stretches a game.
Think: Daequan Cook

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Second Round
31. Sacramento- Vladimir Dasic, SF, Montenegro, 1988
32. Portland- Taj Gibson, PF, USC, 6-9, Jr.
33. Washington- Darren Collison, PG, UCLA, 6-2, Sr.
34. Denver- .Jermaine Taylor, SG, UCF, 6-4, Sr.
35. Memphis- DaJuan Summers, SF, Georgetown, 6-8, Jr.
36. Detroit- Jeff Pendergraph, PF, Arizona State, 6-10, Sr.
37. San Antonio- Omri Casspi, SF, Isreal, 6-8, 1988
38. Portland- Milan Macvan, PF, Serbia, 6-9, 1989
39. Detroit- Greivis Vasquez, SG, Maryland, 6-5, Jr.
40. Charlotte- Danny Green, SF, UNC, 6-7, Sr.
41. Milwaukee- Josh Heytvelt, PF, Gonzaga, 6-11, Sr.
42. L.A. Lakers- Jerel McNeal, G, Marquette, 6-3, Sr.
43. Miami- Chris Johnson, PF, LSU, 6-11, Sr.
44. Detroit- Lee Cummard, G/F, BYU, 6-7, Sr.
45. Minnesota- A.J. Price, PG, UConn, 6-2, Sr
46. Cleveland- Dante Cunningham, F, Villanova, 6-8, Sr.
47. Minnesota- Jonas Jerebko, PF, Sweden, 6-9, 1989
48. Phoenix- Demarre Carroll, F, Missouri, 6-8, Sr.
49. Atlanta- Dionte Christmas, SG, Temple, 6-5, Sr.
50. Utah- Jeff Adrien, PF, UConn, 6-7, Sr.
51. San Antonio- Wesley Matthews, SG, Marquette, 6-5, Sr.
52. Indiana- Leo Lyons, F, Missouri, 6-9, Sr.
53. San Antonio- Jon Brockman, PF, Washington, 6-7, Sr.
54. Charlotte- Curtis Jerrells, PG, Baylor, 6-1, Sr.
55. Portland- Dar Tucker, SG, DePaul, 6-5, So.
56. Portland- Nando de Colo, G, 6-5, France 1987
57. Phoenix- Toney Douglas, PG, Florida State, 6-2
58. Boston- Robert Vaden, SG, UAB, 6-5, Sr.
59. L.A. Lakers- Sergio Llull, PG, Spain, 6-5, 1988
60. Miami- Jack McClinton, PG, Miami (FL), 6-1, Sr.

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Declared for the Draft:
>Dominique Archie, SF, South Carolina, 6-7, Jr.
DeJuan Blair, PF, Pitt, 6-7, So.
>Derrick Brown, F, Xavier, 6-9, Jr.
Chase Budinger, G/F, Arizona, 6-7, Jr.
>Nick Calathes, G, Florida, 6-6, So.
Earl Clark, F, Louisville, 6-8, Jr.
>Dwayne Collins, PF, Miami, 6-8, Jr.
>Brandon Costner, PF, N.C. State, 6-9, Jr.
Stephen Curry, G, Davidson, 6-2, Jr.
>Bryan Davis, PF, Texas A&M, 6-9, Jr.
>Austin Daye, F, Gonzaga, 6-0, So.
Demar DeRozan, SG, USC, 6-6, Fr.
>Eric Devendorf, G, Syracuse, 6-4, Jr.
>Devin Downey, PG, South Carolina, 5-9, Jr
>Osiris Eldridge, SG, Illinois State, 6-3, Jr.
Wayne Ellington, SG, North Carolina, 6-5, Jr.
>Chinemelu Elonu, F/C. Texas A&M, 6-10, Jr.
>Tyreke Evans, G, Memphis, 6-6, Fr.
>Roderick Flemings, SF, Hawaii, 6-7, Jr.
Jonny Flynn, PG, Syracuse, 6-0, So.
Taj Gibson, PF, USC, 6-9, Jr.
Blake Griffin, PF, Oklahoma, 6-10, So.
Daniel Hackett, PG, USC, 6-4, Jr.
>Luke Harangody, PF, Notre Dame, 6-8, Jr.
James Harden, SG, Arizona State, 6-5, So.
>Paul Harris, G/F. Syracuse, 6-5, Jr.
>Gerald Henderson, SG, Duke, 6-4, Jr.
Jordan Hill, PF, Arizona, 6-10, Jr.
>Jrue Holliday, G, UCLA, 6-4, Fr
>Damion James, SF, Texas, 6-8, Jr.
Brandon Jennings, PG, Italy, 6-0, 1989
James Johnson, F, Wake Forest, 6-9, So.
>Mac Koshwal, C, DePaul, 6-10, So.
>Gani Lawal, F, Georgia Tech, 6-8, So.
Ty Lawson, PG, North Carolina, 5-11, Jr.
>Ater Majok, PF, UConn, 6-10, Fr.
>Jodie Meeks, SG, Kentucky, 6-4, Jr
>Patty Mills, PG, St. Mary’s, 5-11, So.
>Tasmin Mitchell, SF, LSU, 6-7, Jr.
B.J. Mullens, C, Ohio State, 7-0, Fr.
>Patrick Patterson, PF, Kentucky, 6-9, So.
>Scottie Reynolds, PG, Villanova, 6-2, Jr.
Ricky Rubio, PG, Spain, 6-4, 1990
>David Sloan, G, Texas A&M, 6-3, Jr.
>Tyler Smith, SF, Tennessee, 6-7, Jr.
DaJuan Summers, SF, Georgetown, 6-8, Jr.
>Shawn Taggart, PF, Memphis, 6-10, Jr.
>Jonathan Tavernari, G/F, BYU, 6-6, Jr.
>Jeff Teague, PG, Wake Forest, 6-1, So.
Hasheem Thabeet, C, UConn, 7-3, Jr.
Dar Tucker, SG, DePaul, 6-5, So.
>Jarvis Varnado, PF, Mississippi State, 6-9, Jr.
>Greivis Vasquez, SG, Maryland, 6-5, Jr.
>Michael Washington, PF, Arkansas, 6-9, Jr.
>Jeremy Wise, PG, Southern Miss., 6-2, Jr.
>Nic Wise, PG, Arizona, 5-10, Jr.

>has yet to hire an agent

Staying in School:
Cole Aldrich, C, Kansas, 6-11, So.
Al-Farouq Aminu, SF, Wake Forest, 6-9, Fr.
James Anderson, SG, Oklahoma St., 6-6, So.
Trevor Booker, PF, Clemson, 6-7, Jr.
Craig Brackins, PF, Iowa State, 6-10, So.
Patrick Christopher, SG, Cal, 6-5, Jr.
Sherron Collins, PG, Kansas, 5-11, Jr.
Ed Davis, PF, North Carolina, 6-10, Fr.
Devin Ebanks, F, West Virginia, 6-9, Fr.
Manny Harris, SG, Michigan, 6-5, So.
JaJuan Johnson, PF, Purdue, 6-10, So.
Jerome Jordan, C, Tulsa, 7-0, Jr.
Greg Monroe, PF, Georgetown, 6-10, Fr.
Dexter Pittman, C, Texas, 6-10, Jr.
Stanley Robinson, SF, UConn, 6-8, Jr.
DeShawn Sims, SF, Michigan, 6-8, Jr.
Kyle Singler, F, Duke, 6-8, So.
Evan Turner, SF, Ohio State, So.
Willie Warren, G, Oklahoma, 6-4, Fr.

#Minnesota gets Miami’s ’09 1st round pick (top ten protected) via Ricky Davis trade
&Kings get Houston ’09 1st round pick via Ron Artest trade
+Thunder gets Spurs’ ’09 1st round pick (lottery preotected) via Kurt Thomas trade
%Bulls get lower of Thunder’s ’09 1st round pick (from either SA or Den) via Thabo Sefolosha trade
$Memphis gets Orlando ’09 1st round pick via Rafer Alston trade
^Minnesota gets Boston’s ’09 1st round pick (top 3 protected) via Kevin Garnett trade

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Blackhawks-Flames Random Notes

By Paul M. Banks

-Why does Jim Belushi have to be at everything Chicago sports related? (It now extends over into the Illini and SIU Salukis as well) For some odd reason (or should I say lack of reason) he appeared in a collection of Chicago “celebs” honoring the Blackhawks playoff appearance on the jumbotron at Game 1. He was rightfully booed. We need to extinguish him.

-Or at least add him to next year’s douchebracket.

-Games 3, 4, and 6 in Calgary reminded me of Rocky IV, when he goes to Moscow to fight Drago in his home land: lots of loud, hostile people wearing red in a foreign country…Then again returning home for game five and seeing all the red jerseys and red towels in Chicago, made the United Center also look like a Communist party rally in Red Square.

-The Chicago Tribune’s Shannon Ryan was at all 7 of the games/press conferences that I attended these past couple weeks. So maybe her job isn’t as fun and glamorous as you might think it is. After all you have to spend a fair amount of time in the same places as me.

-Remember when I talked about the huge Indian head logo on the floor of the Blackhawks locker room a few months ago? How it is believed that anyone who steps on it, will be eternally cursed for doing so? Because of the added media attention of the playoffs, they roped it off. Now it is safe.

-Joke I’m running into the ground this week

People ask me “How’s the playoff atmosphere?” and I respond “it’s electric……boogie woogie woogie”

-Rhyming Heckle of the week

“Hey Phaneuf, Sean Avery told the truth” –guy in 300 level of United Center in game 5.”

-With Todd Bertuzzi and Mike Keenan, maybe the Flames should go ahead and sign Sean Avery and (bring Marty McSorley out of retirement too) then we could have all the biggest knobs in the league on one team.

Alberta Clipped

Watching games 3 and 4 in Calgary on tv, we all noticed the C of Red. But did you notice how EVERYONE at the Olympic Saddledome has a jersey on, never a shirt o sweatshirt? And it’s only the current red jerseys, never the other colored jerseys or throwbacks- amazing how they got everyone to conform to that!

-What I learned from chatting with other sports journalists this week

No one cares about spring college football even though coverage of it has grown exponentially this week, and Chicago is ten times more interested in the Blackhawks playoff run than they are in the Bulls postseason. People just don’t seem to care too much about the Bulls here. Oh and we realistically may not have a newspaper here in ten years. A more detailed explanation on all these things in the next edition of Week in Review

AD Jim Phillips Boosting Northwestern’s profile

By Paul M. Banks and Rikki Greenberg

These days, anyone who follows Chicago sports is well aware of how Blackhawks owner Rocky Wirtz, with the help of Vice President John McDonough, re-branded the Blackhawks from obscure afterthought into main event of the Second City. Northwestern Athletic Director Jim Phillips could likely be the next executive to accomplish such a feat. Anyone who had a pulse in Chicago around New Year’s heard all about Wrigley Field’s hosting of the 2009 NHL Winter Classic. And the huge success of that event inspired Northwestern’s AD into thinking about using the legendary ballpark for an event of his own.

Phillips is aggressively pursuing the idea of joining forces with the Cubbie faithful for a football duel between Northwestern and the University of Illinois in 2010 or beyond. The plans for Wildcat football at Wrigley Field are still in the beginning stages, but Phillips has had talks with Chicago Cubs Chairman Crane Kenny regarding the potential game and other future initiatives. He’s also been hanging with out with Brooks Boyer, the White Sox V.P. or marketing and John McDonough, the man who holds the same position with the Blackhawks as well as Bulls brass. When he sees them he picks their brain to get more ideas.

Like Rocky Wirtz, he’s a man of the people: greeting everybody he can, getting involved in the community, talking in depth with fans and media alike. He gets to know the journalists covering his team because basically, the AD is to collegiate sports what the owner is to the professional games.

Using the surrounding area’s valuable sports assets to raise more awareness for collegiate athletics isn’t new to Phillip’s innovative marketing style. When Philips served as Northern Illinois University Athletic Director prior to his arrival at Northwestern, he and former Iowa Director of Athletics Bob Bowlsby arranged a football game between NIU and Iowa at Soldier Field. The September 1st, 2007 match-up was a sell-out; setting a Mid-American Conference attendance record for a home football game at 61,500.

Phillips’ creative use of using The Friendly Confines or Solider Field as alternative playing grounds is just one example of his creative methods for promoting college athletics. Since he burst onto the Wildcat scene in April of last year, Phillips has already organized a meeting between Notre Dame and the Northwestern baseball teams at U.S. Cellular Field. The event was a wonderful surprise for both the Notre Dame and Northwestern coaches, players and most importantly, the fans.

There have been other notable successes under the Phillips regime. The purple and white have a multifariously victorious resume. Women’s lacrosse have continued their dominance of this decade (2008 NCAA Lacrosse Champions for the fourth-consecutive year), softball (Big Ten regular season and tournament champions) and men’s basketball (first NIT appearance in 10 years, win over a top ten team in 15 years and finishing one win shy of the school record).

Wildcat football also benefited from Phillips passion for his position with a trip to the Alamo Bowl in San Antonio, Texas following a season in which the team was, like the b-ball squad, one win shy of the school record.

The key to Phillips success hasn’t been just his ability to color outside the lines, but also his relentless campaigning for the end result, coupled with his passion for college athletics and student-athlete development. Perhaps the head coach of Northwestern’s baseball team, Paul Stevens, said it best when he explained the influence Phillips has on the Wildcat athletic community.

“He has made a major difference in how he goes about taking care of the teams,” said Stevens. “I think this event is evident of what this gentleman is talking about when he talks about world class experiences. He does not know the word no. He will go out and try to give you the best opportunity to showcase your program and this was a great venue for that.” Stevens also expressed gratitude over Phillips “pushing the envelope” for the athletic programs at Northwestern. Quite the understatement.

Original Bull and Hall of Famer Jerry Sloan Interview

By Paul M. Banks

Earlier this month Utah Jazz Head Coach Jerry Sloan was announced to the Basketball Hall of Fame. He is the only coach in NBA history with 1,000 wins for one team and fourth on the list of all-time most-winning NBA coaches. He has also coached one team longer than anyone in NBA history. The 2009-10 season will be his 22nd season (and 21st full season) at the helm of the Jazz.

After Tom Kelly stepped down as manager of the Minnesota Twins in 2001, Sloan became the longest tenured head coach in American major league sports with their current franchise. The only manager in any top professional league that has headed their current team for longer is Alex Ferguson of the English football team Manchester United.
He played for the Chicago Bulls during the franchise’s formative years. He was the first player selected by the Bulls in the expansion draft, earning him the nickname “The Original Bull.” Sloan played in two All-Star Games during his NBA career, and was also named to the NBA All-Defensive First Team four times. He is currently fourth on the Bulls’ all-time scoring list.

With an average of 2.15 steals per game (tabulated over his last three seasons), Jerry Sloan is ranked tenth in the NBA’s all-time leaders category for steals per game. His playing career was cut short by successive knee injuries, and he turned his attention to coaching. Because of his influential career with the Bulls, the franchise retired Sloan’s No. 4 jersey, the first jersey retired by the Bulls.


Paul M. Banks: What are the biggest differences between small market and big market?

Jerry Sloan: Basketball’s basketball, I never thought I did that bad in Chicago. We worked hard and had some guys who are probably not the kind of guys that you’re going to win with on a consistent basis. I thought that if they had the patience, we could have worked it out, I never thought that I couldn’t.

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On his ability to operate in a bigger market…

JS: “Sure, if they had the right philosophy. If the players know you’re expendable they don’t have to play. If the agents and everybody tells them, he’s not going to be here, wait a couple weeks, the coach will be gone don’t risk getting hurt wait and play for the next guy then they’re not going to play for you.”



On whether he ever had an agent or needed one…

JS: When I took the job in Chicago, Mr. Wirtz and I had kind of a run-in, he didn’t want to talk to me anymore, so I had a go between. I just didn’t feel like I wanted to be put in a corner.”

On his not needing an agent in Utah…

JS: “They’ve been fair. I’m just happy to have a job, the organization has been fair with me all along.”

PMB: A lot of people had run-ins with Wirtz over the years…

JS: It’s just one of those things, he’s the boss and I realize that. So I didn’t want to get into a shouting match with him.

Regarding whether he pays attention to the internet and blogs and all the information available out there these days…

JS: “Well, I’ve never paid attention to all that stuff. There wasn’t that much stuff going on when I came into the league, I was aware of guy’s getting fired. You can listen to everybody in the world, but you’re the one who’s responsible.”

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PMB: What’s been the key to your success/long run?

JS: Pretty simple, our owner hasn’t fired me, when I tell our players at the beginning of the year I’m going to be here, I’m going to be here. I’ve been able to do that for a long time. not too many have had that opportunity. I guess if I did something crazy they would probably get rid of me pretty quick, but so far I haven’t done too much.

Nothing too crazy?

JS: “Well, I did get suspended for 8 or 9 games once”

Commenting on the 6 NBA coaches fired before Christmas this season and job security in the association…

JS: “I’m always concerned about what owners are thinking, are they letting the players run the team or are they letting the agents run the team? I’ve seen this for a number of years and it’s really frustrating because a lot of great coaches, better coaches than I’ll ever be, have been fired, some of them two or three different times. Somewhere along the line it looks like patience is something worth while if you’re willing to put up with it. I know there’s tremendous pressure on owners, coaches and players, but we’ve been lucky that our ownership has stuck by us. You lose 56 games and still have a job, you’re pretty lucky.”

On whether he had any worries his run could come to an end…

JS: “Well, I never thought I’d even play a year, so it’s no big deal, I’m happy to have done so, but I had people tell me I would never play in this league.”

Of course one of Sloan’s best quotes ever was published awhile ago…

“I don’t care if he’s 19 or 30. If he’s going to be on the floor in the NBA, he’s got to be able to step up and get after it. We can’t put diapers on him one night, and a jockstrap the next night. It’s just the way it is.” — on second year guard C.J. Miles, the youngest player on the 2006-07 Utah Jazz

What’s Brewing in ’09: Strong Coffey, Boring Bench & Trenni Talk

 
By: Melissa Wollering

 
When half your team is playing really well and the other half can’t stop itself from imploding, the losses are disgusting, the wins are both shocking and satisfying and the word consistency is foreign.

 

 
In this week’s “Good, Bad & Ugly,” Coffey is my favorite beverage, Looper my favorite pitcher and Bush my Most Improved.  In his last outing, Bush gave up 4 hits, 3 BB and 3 runs in the 1st inning alone. However, on Thursday, Bush had a no-hitter against Philly going into the 8th. Former Brewer Matt Stairs eventually ended that with a homer that hit the right field foul pole.


Looper continued his winning streak Wednesday pitching six scoreless innings. Word is he may move ahead of Manny Parra in the rotation. Coffey did give up his first run as a Brewer on Wednesday, but should be thanked for a gutsy two-and-two-thirds-inning save earlier in the week.  In that game, Coffey forced a double play with the bases loaded in the 7th, got out of a jam in the 8th AND plopped down a perfect sac bunt in the 9th to move Kendall to second.  That transformed into an insurance run. Sicko good.


Coffey is also drawing comparisons to Brewers 2003-2004 closer Dan Kolb. Kolb hadn’t made many waves before the Brewers picked him up in his late 20’s.  Same for Coffey. Both showcase mid-90’s sinking fastballs.

Also in this category: Mike Cameron.  At time of print, Cameron led the team with a .316 batting average and 4 homers. More impressive is his .422 on-base percentage, which is tops among Milwaukee regulars.

 
As for bad, we move Suppan up one category from ugly this week. The Mets seemed to hit quite a few hardballs off Supp in his last outing, but he held them off going 6 innings and giving up just two runs.  It’s progress. Now build on it like a kid with 4 hours in Legoland at Mall of America.


Brew Crew Haiku provides us with this thoughtful analysis of his last outing:
Suppan Effective
But story of this game is
Strong Coffey brewing

 
Hopefully the bullpen won’t be as bad once Trevor Hoffman returns.  He’s expected to return on Sunday.  Cue Hells Bells once we get back to Miller Park.

 
If you want a bad stomachache, buy any large Pizza Hut pizza until May 2 and get a free Brewers ticket. Or just buy a real ticket and opt for Palermo’s in your frozen section.

 
As for what’s ugly for the Brewers, avid reader Justin Z. and I both salute Rickie Weeks’ ass.  Have you ever seen the Family Guy episode where Peter’s midsection and backside actually have an orbit around them?  Brian the dog throws objects into the gravitational pull to demonstrate.


If you’ve ever mistaken Rickie’s face for his ass, then perhaps you’ve identified the reason for his tough month of April. Rickie collided with JJ Hardy’s shoulder and was removed from Tuesday’s game for dizziness.  A game or two prior, his face got nailed by a pitch. If it didn’t already, NOW his face looks like his… Fine, I’m done. But I was having so much fun!

What else is ugly?  The bench. I spent a great deal of time discussing Chris Duffy, Brad Nelson and Casey McGehee during Spring Training.  I also explained that one of Dale Sveum’s campaigns in Maryvale was to make the bench so solid that each member could step for the starters without anyone taking notice.  He wanted pinch hitters to be winning factors in games….uh…yeah. You should pinch yourself at this point.  Are you dreaming, Dale?


Since Opening Day, we’ve hardly seen the bench.  When we do, they suck. Duffy, Nelson and McGehee combined have stepped up to the plate less than 20 times in the first 14 games. To put this in context, Counsell alone has batted 15 times in the same number of games.


My final ugly thought is Jorge Julio.  I so badly wanted to chant, “Rufio, Rufio, Ru-fi-ohhhhhhhhhh” all season.  Now I would like to catch a glimpse of the crack addict who drew his strike zone and see if he knows that he paints the corners like Jackson Pollack.  Wow.  If you got my art reference, I will give you a shout out in the next What’s Brewing.

 
In “Just a Bit Outside,” Bob Uecker does not think highly of the Mets’ new CitiField ballpark. He gave a long rant about the design of the visitor’s booth. He says there are half-a-dozen seats in front of them.  When someone stands, they loose all visibility – batter, catcher AND home plate.

As for other problem areas with that park; you can’t see the playing field from the visitor’s bullpen. Here’s Coffey’s reaction: “It’s horrible. It’s awful. It’s the worst bullpen I’ve ever been in…It’s a bad design.”

 
Nice.  In “Friendly Fire with the Cubs,” your favorite board-game creator and mine, Milton Bradley, was ejected from last Thursday’s game after a K in a pinch-hit appearance. Apparently he made contact with the ump. He was suspended two games. If you’re groin still hurts and you’re on the bench though, why even bother, Milton? Of course, he’s appealing it on principle (says Lou).  Andy Paschen has bequeathed Milton with the nickname of “The Meth Bear.” Children, if an angry bear is chasing you with a syringe full of meth coursing through his veins, make sure you can run faster than your slowest friend.

 
In “Where Are They Now?” former Brewer Geoff Jenkins wants to play. I think he could find a spot on a bench somewhere in National League. He can pinch hit and always adds to the defensive depth in the outfield wherever he goes.

 

 “Around the NL,” Lance Berkman is reportedly in an “uncharacteristic slump.”  Time out.  So the slump he was in for the majority of 2007 makes this one uncharacteristic how?

 

Pirates may resort to kidnapping although these wouldn’t do it off coast of Africa.  The Pittsburgh Pirates are about to start kidnapping fans. Not only did the team sell just 8,700 tickets the other day, but they only counted 4,500 actually enter the turnstiles.  I smell the first MLB team bailout…

And finally, your friend and mine, Trenni Kusnierick is getting a little traction for her MLB Network makeover.  She’s been very open about it, saying they wanted to ‘girl her up’ for the NY market crowd.  She’s done some interviews this week on 1250 AM in Milwaukee and written into Right Field Bleachers about it. What do you think?  I think they gave her a Jenny McCarthy look.  Not bad…

FINAL 2009 NFL MOCK DRAFT

by Peter Christian

The 2009 NFL Draft is less than 48 hours away and after much deliberation, research and hair-pulling I’ve finally compiled my final Mock Draft. As you may notice, I caved against my better nature and included a second round.

The NFL Mock Draft Database

1. Detroit Lions

Matt Stafford QB

Georgia

 

Stafford is all but ensured of being the first pick over all at this point. Aside from his over-discussed skills he is a charismatic kid that is perfect to become the face of an otherwise failing franchise.

2. St. Louis Rams

Jason Smith OT

Baylor

 

At 6’5″, 305 lbs. Smith has great size but he will wow people with his athletic ability. The converted tight end is extremely agile and quick  and will defend against speed rushers very well. Smith’s showing at the  combine has likely helped him up draft boards around the league and the Rams are hoping that Smith can replace future HOF’er Orlando Pace,  who signed with Chicago.

3. Kansas City Chiefs

Aaron Curry OLB

Wake Forest

 

Curry is being called the safest pick in this year’s draft. His size, speed and strength all translate very well to the NFL game and will make an immediate impact for the Chief’s defense.

4. Seattle Seahawks

Eugene Monroe OT

Virginia

 

Monroe‘s skills and ability were the reason that Branden Albert (15th overall pick in 2008) was a guard in college. Albert is now a starting tackle for the Chiefs. The Seahawks have been rumored to possibly take USC QB Mark Sanchez with this pick, although I would think the outlook of next year’s QB crop would be enough to allow Seattle to take Monroe instead.

5. Cleveland Browns

Michael Crabtree

WR

Texas Tech

The stress fracture and subsequent surgery has many scouts, coaches and GM’s, well, stressing about his value. Crabtree has been very active this past week to try and ensure he remains a top ten pick. By the Browns taking Crabtree here it likely means that the Browns will spend the next couple hours trying to inflate the trade value of Braylon Edwards. If Edwards trade talks do fall apart prior to the draft, the Browns may decide to go with Texas DE/OLB Brian Orakpo.

6. Cincinnati Bengals

B.J. Raji

DT

Boston College

The Bengals need to improve their defense badly. Adding Raji to the defensive line would be a great start. He is a big, strong, agile player that can be a factor in both the run and pass.

7. Oakland Raiders

Jeremy Maclin

WR

Missouri

Maclin has a great skill set. He has good hands, great speed and agility. He can help a team in the passing game, the return game and was also a very effective option out of the backfield on occasion. His combine performance locked him in as the 2nd best receiver available in the draft. The Raiders could take any number of players, but by taking Maclin they are giving JaMarcus Russel a viable target in the passing game.

8. Jacksonville Jaguars

Michael Oher

OT

Ole Miss

Oher is a top ten talent at the offensive tackle position but is not getting mentioned much lately. He is a good fit for Jacksonville because he can play on either side of the ball and can immediately step into their depleted offensive line corps.

9. Green Bay Packers

Mark Sanchez

QB

USC

Most people assume that Sanchez will be taken with the 8th pick via a trade, but knowing Ted Thompson he would likely be much more willing to move down to gain another pick later in the draft. That being said, if the Packers keep this pick I expect they will select Brian Orakpo. I expect Sanchez to be picked here by either the Redskins or the Jets.

10. San Francisco 49ers

Andre Smith

OT

Alabama

Andre Smith is very large (6’4″, 330 lbs.) and is going to be a great run blocker in the NFL. Most of Smith’s combine antics have largely been forgotten and has regained nearly all of his pre-draft value. The 49ers would be very happy if Mark Sanchez fell to them, but would definitely be able to use Smith’s ability on the offensive line. However, the last time the 49ers drafted a player with the surname “Smith” in the first round, it was largely thought to be a bust, which is very likely in this situation as well.

11. Buffalo Bills

Brian Orakpo

DE/OLB

Texas

Orakpo has the tools to become an elite pass rusher in the NFL. He is among the group of prospects that could play either the rush end in a 4-3 or a rush linebacker in the 3-4. With the Bills, he would help apply the pressure on the opposing quarterback from the line.

12. Denver Broncos

Tyson Jackson

DE/OLB

LSU

Jackson‘s biggest knock is that he takes plays off, however he has been shooting up draft boards lately, especially to the Denver Broncos. The Broncos are apparently in love with Jackson because of his hybrid status and would likely be the only team to take him in the top 15 of the first round.

13. Washington Redskins

Aaron Maybin

DE/OLB

Penn State

Maybin has the talent to be great in the NFL. He also has great versatility to play as a speed rush defensive end or to be an outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme. If the Redskins do trade up (especially with the Packers) this is still a logical pick at this spot. However, if the Redskins stand pat, Maybin is a good pick for them as well.

14. New Orleans Saints

Malcom Jenkins

CB

Ohio State

Jenkins has been given the benefit of playing behind a very good defensive front during his college career but that doesn’t mean he isn’t talented. Jenkins’ long term projection is that he will translate more into the role of a safety. No matter where he lines up he will help the Saints terrible defensive backfield.

15. Houston Texans

Robert Ayers

DE

Tennessee

Ayers is really the best true defensive end in the draft. I was initially hesitant about his skills but his motivated style of play is something that coaches love. He will complient the rest of the Houston front seven very well and will have an opportunity to contribute right away.

16. San Diego Chargers

Peria Jerry

DT

Ole Miss

Peria Jerry is extremely quick and agile for a 312 lb. man-child and gets into the backfield with regularity. The biggest knock on Jerry is his lack of sheer strength. At the Senior Bowl he upped his stock into a late first round prospect. The Chargers defensive line depth was one of their biggest weaknesses last season and drafting Jerry here is a good move to improve that.

17. New York Jets

Knowshon Moreno

RB

Georgia

Moreno is a blend of speed, agility and muscle and can provide any team with a great home run threat out of the backfield. He has amazing downfield moves and can make just about any defender look foolish. The Jets are in a tough spot, but a good one. They are definitely interested in moving up to get Mark Sanchez or taking advantage of another team grabbing him (Browns/Redskins). If that isn’t an option, they may be tempted to reach for Josh Freeman, but realistically they should grab a solid offensive weapon in Moreno.

18. Denver Broncos (from Chicago)

Rey Maualuga

LB

USC

Maualuga is without a doubt the best interior linebacker in the draft. He is very explosive and can fill holes in the line very quickly. The Broncos would be estatic if they could get Tyson Jackson and Maualuga with their first round picks to help improve their multiple defensive holes.

19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Larry English

LB

Northern Illinois

English’s size will likely lock him into being an OLB in the NFL but his stock is on the rise nonetheless. His stats and accolades in the MAC shouldn’t be downplayed, his ethic is pure. This is probably the highest that English could go, but he could be a key cog in the new defense for Tampa now that long time coordinator Monte Kiffin has moved on.

20. Detroit Lions (from Dallas)

Brian Cushing

LB

USC

Cushing is something of a genetic freak with his strength and speed. He will help Detroit’s pitiful defense play tougher and faster against opposing running games. The Lions could be looking to grab Eben Britton (OT – Arizona) here, but Cushing is the best defensive player available and provides better upside.

21. Philadelphia Eagles

Chris Wells

RB

Ohio State

Wells is a downhill runner that doesn’t shy away from contact. He has deceiving speed which allows him to break away from opposing linebackers. “Beanie” is working very hard to toss the reputation that he is injury prone. Wells could finally give the 1-2 punch the Eagles backfield has needed with Brian Westbrook.

22. Minnesota Vikings

Josh Freeman

QB

Kansas State

I think this would be a logical place for a team to trade into the first round to get Freeman if they wanted him. Freeman is possibly the biggest bust candidate in this draft. His arm is very strong and has QB coaches salivating, but at this pick it is possibly too high. Realistically, he is probably a mid 2nd-early 3rd round talent but because of certain teams’ desperation at the quarterback position and the long term potential of Freeman he is likely being taken in the late 1st round. If this pick isn’t traded I expect the Vikings to target Darius Butler or Vontae Davis.

23. New England Patriots

Clay Matthews

LB

USC

Matthews has joined his USC teammates as a first round prospect after a great work-out at the Combine. He fits in well with the style of the Patriots Linebackers and will inject some much needed youth and energy into the New England defense.

24. Atlanta Falcons

Vontae Davis

CB

Illinois

Malcom Jenkins gets all the hype of a Big Ten CB but Davis has the better upside. His recovery speed is what is going to make him a great corner in the NFL. The Falcons would be happy with any defensive upgrade, but Davis would probably be the best case for the team.

25. Miami Dolphins

Darrius Heyward-Bey

WR

Maryland

Heyward-Bey went into the combine with the title as a big physical receiver. He can now add “lightning fast” to that resume. His 4.30 makes him the fastest offensive player available. He needs to work on catching the ball with his hands more, but his size and speed make him extremely attractive. Miami needs a big reciever to compliment their many slot types and Heyward-Bey does just that.

26. Baltimore Ravens

Brandon Pettigrew

TE

Oklahoma State

At 6’6″, 260 lbs. Pettigrew creates a match-up nightmare for opposing defenses, no matter who is throwing him the ball. He can be a great asset to the offense in the short and intermediate passing game. The Ravens have had plenty of strain in dealing with Todd Heap injuries over the past few seasons and drafting Pettigrew would help ease some of those headaches.

27. Indianapolis Colts

Darius Butler

CB

Connecticut

Butler is relatively unknown at this point but his cover skills are going to be whispered about in war rooms on draft day. He is very fundamental and has a ton of field experience due to his status as a three year starter. The Colts are likely looking at going with a receiver or a corner here and Butler provides the best value of anyone else available.

28. Buffalo Bills (from Carolina through Philadelphia)

Max Unger

OL

Oregon

Unger doesn’t have the intimidating size that you expect out of a first round pick but he is very quick and is very fundamentally sound. He has plenty of frame to pack on another 15-20 lbs. of muscle and could be a solid Center in the NFL. The Bills traded OT Jason Peter to get this pick and Unger’s versatility likely makes this an easy pick. Unger isn’t a tackle by trade, but could likely play the position if needed.

29. New York Giants

Hakeem Nicks

WR

North Carolina

Nicks is a big, physical receiver that has bear paws for hands. He catches everything thrown to him. If the Giants don’t trade for Braylon Edwards, this is the next logical step for them.

30. Tennessee Titans

Kenny Britt

WR

Rutgers

Britt has been a late riser in many mocks and draft boards but has moved up because he is a bit more polished and has less questions about his ability than Hakeem Nicks or Darrius Heyward-Bey. The Titans would be much more inclined to take a defensive lineman or a defensive back but Britt would help the Titans passing game.

31. Arizona Cardinals

Donald Brown

RB

Connecticut

Brown is very similar to a very successful running back taken in last year’s draft, Matt Forte. He has plenty of experience and is very smart on the football field. He is very patient to find the hole and uses a quick burst to eat up yardage in bunches. He is rising up draft boards very quickly and will be another option in the backfield.

32. Pittsburgh Steelers

Alphonso Smith

CB

Wake Forest

Smith’s nickname is “Prime” for being a shorter version of Deion Sanders. He has great tools to get after opposing receivers and will likely be a regular in quarterback’s nightmares. The Steelers have to be targeting a defensive back or a defensive lineman and Smith fits the bill of one of those needs.

 

Round 2

 

 

 

33. Detroit Lions

Eben Britton

OT

Arizona

34. New England Patriots (from Kansas City)

James Laurinaitis

LB

Ohio State

35. St. Louis Rams

Everette Brown

DE

Florida State

36. Cleveland Browns

Connor Barwin

DE

Cincinatti

37. Seattle Seahawks

LeSean McCoy

RB

Pitt

38. Cincinnati Bengals

Eric Wood

C

Louisville

39. Jacksonville Jaguars

William Beatty

OT

Connecticut

40. Oakland Raiders

Michael Johnson

DE

Georgia Tech

41. Green Bay Packers

Patrick Chung

SS

Oregon

42. Buffalo Bills

Alex Mack

C

Cal

43. San Francisco 49ers

Clint Sintim

LB

Virginia

44. Miami Dolphins (from Washington)

Mohamed Massaquoi

WR

Georgia

45. New York Giants (from New Orleans)

Shonn Greene

RB

Iowa

46. Houston Texans

Percy Harvin

WR

Florida

47. New England Patriots (from San Diego)

Sean Smith

DB

Utah

48. Denver Broncos

Rashad Johnson

S

Alabama

49. Chicago Bears

William Moore

S

Missouri

50. Cleveland Browns (from Tampa Bay)

Paul Kruger

OLB

Utah

51. Dallas Cowboys

Ron Brace

NT

Boston College

52. New York Jets

Jared Cook

TE

South Carolina

53. Philadelphia Eagles

Louis Delmas

S

Western Michigan

54. Minnesota Vikings

Phil Loadholt

OT

Oklahoma

55. Atlanta Falcons

Fili Moala

DL

USC

56. Miami Dolphins

Sherrod Martin

DB

Troy

57. Baltimore Ravens

Derrick Williams

WR

Penn State

58. New England Patriots

DJ Moore

CB

Vanderbilt

59. Carolina Panthers

Jamon Meredith

OT

South Carolina

60. New York Giants

Evander Hood

DT

Missouri

61. Indianapolis Colts

Brandon Tate

WR

North Carolina

62. Tennessee Titans

Sen’Derrick Marks

DT

Auburn

63. Arizona Cardinals

Duke Robinson

G

Oklahoma

64. Pittsburgh Steelers

Andy Levitre

OL

Oregon State