Rebecca Grant: Clippers fan “boobs adjuster” is back

One “hot topic” of discussion during the 2011 NFL playoff season was Football Zone Girl Rebecca Grant. (video below) She was “news” again a year ago. Sort of.

Rebecca Grant is famous as “the Fox News Clippers fan boobs adjuster”

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Erin Andrews Acolytes have Started Worshipping Jenn Brown

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Apparently, there’s a new heiress to the  supposed “Sideline Princess” throne. Watch tonight with the Thursday night college football game of the week.

ESPN’s Jenn Brown is a former bikini model (which obviously gave her more journalistic credentials than even Medill graduates) and gymnast (again making her clearly more qualified in news reporting than the thousands of experienced j-school grads dying for her job). She also attended the same school (University of Florida) as the reigning Media Princess Erin Andrews.

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Jenn Brown or Erin Andrews: Better Draft Party Host? (vote now)

jenn brown colt mccoy

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By Paul M. Banks

If you were watching last night’s NFL Draft on ESPN, you undoubtedly saw the updates from premier sideline princesses Erin Andrews (at the home of ND quarterback Jimmy Clausen) and Jenn Brown (reporting from the house of Texas signal-caller Colt McCoy). Neither QB was drafted last night, so it means we’ll likely be treated to more eye candy tonight, as the reigning Queen and crown princess of sports media will undoubtedly see a lot more airtime.

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Michigan St. vs Northwestern Live Blog

By Paul M. Banks

So #25 Northwestern has their first ranking in 41 years, and loses to Illinois in overtime, but this is a chance for a statement game here. A win over #11 MSU and the Wildcats would likely keep their ranking.

This is a game of magnitude, why isn’t Erin Andrews here?

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What’s the Next Step Up for Erin Andrews?

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By Paul M. Banks

ESPN sideline princess Erin Andrews is a huge star in the internet and sports nerd worlds, but now she has the proper card to play in order to go more mainstream. And it’s not the “sex sells” card. To find out what new asset EA has going for her, continue reading after the jump.

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Video Exclusive Illini Mike Tisdale Interview

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Interview by Paul M. Banks and Paul Schmidt, write-up by PMB

When it comes to the NBA Draft, any 7 footer with average-or- better athleticism is a bonafide prospect. Illinois junior Center Mike Tisdale (7’1”, 235) is certainly on the radar screen of NBA GMs for 2011, if not 2010. An honorable mention All-Big Ten selection by coaches and media, he was one of the league’s most improved players, finishing fourth in the Big Ten in field goal shooting and second in the league in conference play FG percentage. He was the team leader in blocked shots, ranking fifth in the Big Ten.
He doesn’t do all his work inside either, as he possess very nice form on his jump shot.

In a sound trashing of the Michigan Wolverines last winter, Tisdale stepped out and knocked down a couple big treys, prompting opposing coach John Beilien to tell the media: “I didn’t know he could do that. I didn’t know he could Pittsnogle us.” Beilien was referring to the former West Virginia University icon he once coached Kevin Pittsnogle who (according to a New York Times feature last March) is now well over 300 pounds, out of basketball and lives in a double-wide.

Tisdale is also well known for the overly publicized 6,000 calorie a day diet that the program has put him on, in the hopes that he will gain some weight and become a bulkier post presence. When I look around in a room full of sports writers, I think they share his diet. If Tisdale gets big enough to bump and grind with the big boys, he’ll obtain the consistency that he lacks now. Becoming more sure of himself would help too. We discussed his confidence, whether he would just rather have a salad sometimes and much more in this video below

Last season Tisdale was the team’s leading scorer in 11 games, more than any of his teammates. Over one five-game stretch, he averaged 19.0 points while shooting 58.8 percent. As of today, it looks like he’ll be a mid 2nd round pick in 2011, because his career arc (at this early stage at least) is reminiscent of former Illini big man Robert Archibald. He was never an actual star, but was solid enough to be drafted 31st overall by the Memphis Grizzlies in 2002.

TYRUS THOMAS EXPECTED TO MISS 4-6 WEEKS

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By Paul M. Banks

The young season has certainly been very rough for Tyrus Thomas so far. Although we’re just 5 games in, he’s already had a spat with Coach Vinny Del Negro over playing time, and seen his contract extension with the Bulls declined. On the exact same day he was told there was no long term place for him in Chicago, he also missed a game versus Milwaukee with “flu-like symptoms”. This comes on the heels of an off-season in which the Bulls aggressively tried (and failed) to trade him. And this past summer also saw Chicago draft two players (Taj Gibson and James Johnson) who play his exact same position. The message is clear.

And then today this was announced (from Chicago Bulls.com)

“Chicago Bulls forward Tyrus Thomas suffered a fractured radius of his left forearm during a weight training session this morning at practice. X-rays confirmed the injury and he will undergo surgery tomorrow. The surgery will be performed at Rush, by team physicians Dr. Brian Cole and Dr. John Fernandez, and assisted by Dr. Mark Cohen. Thomas is expected to be out four to six weeks. In four games (three starts) this season, the Louisiana State product has averaged 8.3 ppg, 5.3 rpg and 1.75 bpg in 21.0 mpg. Currently in his fourth year with the Bulls, Thomas has appeared in 229 games (95 starts) and posted averages of 7.7 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 0.9 apg, 1.34 bpg and 0.82 spg in 19.9 mpg.”

His NBA career is starting to remind me of the main character in the film “Sideways.” The journey of life keeps giving him major blow after major blow after major blow. For a top 5 pick, he certainly has been a bust during his career in Chicago, and obviously this injury doesn’t help matters.

He suffered a very minor injury this pre-season, and I thought his response to the media was very telling of his character, and attitude. One day at the Berto Center in October, The Score’s David Schuster asked him something along the lines of how he was feeling about the practices and workouts he missed. Thomas responded. “What did I miss? I know the offense, it’s preseason.” In a best case scenario, the response is indicative of him not liking the media, and not wanting to talk to reporters very much. Worst case scenario: it’s indicative of him lacking worth ethic and desire, and the motivation to get stronger and better in convalescence. Now with this new injury on his hands, let’s hope for the sake of the Bulls and their fans, it’s the former and not the latter.

The one person who truly gained from this occurrence is Taj Gibson, who is now cemented in as the starting 4 for the time being.

Illinois’ Jon Asamoah Talks Tough About the Season, His NFL Future

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By Paul Schmidt

The University of Illinois has had a challenging season. Everyone knows about the copious amount of talent on offense, but what might actually surprise some is that the top rated player, by position, by ESPN’s NFL draft guru Mel Kiper isn’t Arrelious Benn – it is offensive guard Jon Asamoah.

Asamoah has been a three year starter for the team, and in fact started his career as a freshman, logging playing time during the 2006 campaign. With that level of experience, and that many games under his belt, Asamoah is viewed as one of the anchors of a strong offensive line.

Thus far this season, the disappointments have far outweighed the successes, and it is starting to wear on everyone, not just the offensive line.

“Offensively we’ve got to get it going consistently,” Asamoah said. “We’ve had those drives where we were moving the ball and moving the ball and moving the ball, and we’ve got to keep that going the whole game.”

Not to beat too much coach-speak into the ground, but it’s the little things that would help turn things around.“Individually, no one is perfect out there. We just have to play at a higher level. The Rose Bowl year, we were just out there playing as hard as we could. We’re still doing that, but just not executing.”

For an offensive line, Juice Williams presents an interesting problem as a quarterback.  He’s very mobile and likes to move around in the pocket, as well as creating his own magic with his feet, which makes things interesting for the lineman assigned to protect him.

“I’m out there and sometimes I get so focused, I’m blocking my guy and I have to say to myself, ‘Wait, where is he going,’” Asamoah said as he chuckled. “Then I think to myself that I really don’t really know what’s happening.”

The same problem doesn’t exist every time Williams drops back to throw, however. When forming the pocket, Asamoah knows that every moment that can be spared for his quarterback gives him a little bit longer to make the correct read.

“The way the game goes, you’ve got to get out there in that pass mode. We scout the D-Lines so much, so we know ASAMOAH,-JON_0393what they are doing,” said Asamoah. “We go out there and fight against that as long as we can to give Juice every second that we can to throw. With all the great players that we have out there, we know they are going to make plays.”

And even though they haven’t always made those plays this season, it is that type of intensity that helps carry a warrior like Asamoah through every down of the game.

“I wish I could block every guy out there, but honestly, it’s not really like that, once you’re really in the game,” Asamoah stated. “I’m focused on my guy, and then I trust that my other four guys out there are going to get the job done.”

That all goes back to one of the most important factors in determining the success of an offensive line: Continuity.  Quite simply, the more an offensive line plays together, the better they will be.Though the Illini have some youngsters on the line, it is Asamoah and other upperclassmen’s leadership that have really held things together for the unit and the entire offense.

“It’s so important, because I feel so comfortable in between (junior Ryan) Palmer and (senior Eric) Block, we talk out there and we only have to say a couple of words to each other and we know what’s going on,” Asamoah said. “The young guys that come in, like Corey Lewis, I feel just as comfortable with them, because he’s learned over his time here. Without that kind of continuity on the O-Line, you’re just not going to be a good group.”

One thing that he and the rest of the Illini have placed emphasis on is staying positive and putting the bad things behind them – And it’s that type of attitude that finally may have paid some dividends this past weekend with their victory over Michigan.

“It’s hard, it’s hard to lose. Things haven’t gone the way that we wanted them to, but there’s a fight tomorrow, and we don’t let a team beat us twice,” Asamoah said. “You just have to refocus,” Asamoah continued. “You look at the film and see there were some really good things from this game or that game, but in order to do this consistently, you have to go out there, play balls-to-the-wall on every play.  We’re capable of it – We just haven’t been doing it.”

All of that leads to the question of Asamoah’s future, a question that was posed to him after one of the team’s many losses this season. To his credit, he wasn’t thinking about anything other than finishing the year as strong as possible.

“You know, who knows what will happen? I could go out tomorrow, slip on something and break my leg. I’m not worried about any of that,” Asamoah said. “All of that will come later. Right now, I’m just doing my job, playing as hard as I can. All of that stuff will come after the season. The feeling I have in my gut right now, this sick feeling…I’m not worried about any of that other stuff right now.”

Pierre Thomas is Just Plain Better than Reggie Bush

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By Paul M. Banks

Among Saints RBs, the un-drafted free agent is playing vastly superior to 2006’s #2 overall pick.

The New Orleans Saints offense has been RIDONKOLOUS this season, averaging a NFL best 40 points per game. The next closest team is the Indianapolis Colts and they’re a whopping ten points per game behind. The Saints offense is also naturally number one in yardage, and they rank 6th in passing. Drew Brees and his high powered air attack often come to mind first, but it’s actually the ground game where the Saints are truly heavenly: New Orleans is currently 3rd in rushing. And the backfield’s big star is the highly touted Heisman trophy winner with the flashy reality star girlfriend, right?

WRONG! It’s his “back-up,” the undrafted afterthought from the south suburbs of Chicago that no one thought would even make the team.
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Take a look at Pierre Thomas’s numbers this season: 56 carries, 314 yards, 5.6 yards per carry average, 3 TDs. Now take a look at Bush’s: 45 carries, 175 yards, 3.9 ypc, and 1 TD. Bush is listed as the starter, but Thomas is (deservedly) getting more work. Well, you might argue that Bush’s strength is pass-catching, but Thomas has him beat there too with a better yards per catch on both the season and in career averages.

Also, take a look at career rushing numbers. Thomas- 237, 1191, 13, 5.0 yards per attempt, Bush- 463, 1725, 15, 3.7. Since they’re running behind the exact same offensive line, I think we know who should truly be “starting”.

Is it any wonder Reggie Bush is much more known for his reality “star,” famous-for-doing-absolutely-nothing-of-value girlfriend Kim Kardashian than he is for his game?

Aside from having one good pass catching year (his rookie season of ’06), he’s done next to nothing in the NFL, but still has a $12 million a year contract. Because of those facts, you could say he’s been a bigger bust than…insert your own joke about his insipid celebutante significant other here. And perhaps motivation is the problem with Bush. He already has the money and the women, so maybe he doesn’t care about working hard to obtain anything else?

The journey from college to the NFL could not have been more different for NOLA’s two tailbacks. Bush came in with more hype than a summer event movie, and emerged from the nation’s most dominant program, USC. Although picked 2nd, he was expected to be #1 overall while Pierre Thomas went undrafted out of Illinois, a program which has been among the worst in all of FBS for most of this decade. Look no further than the 2008 Rose Bowl, where USC slaughtered Illinois 49-17, to figure out who had the pub working for them in their college days. In the interest of full disclosure, I should mention that Thomas attended the same alma mater as this author, and grew up pretty close to where I did. He prepped at Thornton Fractional South, a rival SICA Conference school in Lansing, IL. So I know his roots well. illinois_pierre_thomas_sm

And Thomas’ humble beginnings are probably a big part of his desire to succeed, and that drive is making him a much more productive player than the “can’t miss” prospect.  Thomas’ 5.6 ypc is 6th in the NFL, his former Illini teammate Rashard Mendenhall is 7th at 5.4. Very ironic; a program which has been the worst in the Big Ten much of this decade has produced two of the NFL’s top runners this season.

When the Saints take on Atlanta Monday night (Notice I did not use the “when the Saints march in” expression, I didn’t want to torture you by repeating one of the most shopworn phrases incessantly spewed by the laziest of journalist hacks) it will be Thomas, not Bush who sets the pace on offense.

Illini Win??!!?? Yes, You Read That Right!

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By Paul Schmidt

There’s no one anywhere who predicted an Illinois win Saturday against Michigan.  I’m about the biggest Illinois apologist that there is, and even I was urging you to bet against the Illini, and to lay 7 points while doing it!

After a short amount of time, however, the glow of a great victory has waned and left two very poignant questions to be asked.

The first is whether this was a victory from an Illinois team finally playing up to expectations, or whether this victory can completely be attributed to the wheels falling off of this Michigan teams’ wagon.

The more that I think about the game, the more I really believe the latter to be true.  Michigan’s defense is starting to play ridiculously bad.  It’s almost getting comical at just how bad they are playing.

The Wolverines are doing whatever the opposite of peaking is, winning only one game in their last five, with that win being against FCS opponent Delaware State. With NCAA investigators descending upon Ann Arbor, RichRod looking dirtier than Rod Blagojevich and a best-case scenario of six wins (with games remaining against Purdue, Wisconsin and Ohio State, winning one would be an accomplishment), Michigan is definitely in disarray.

Illinois just managed to take advantage of that.

The second question is much more accusatory towards the Illini — Just where was this type of offensive production all season?? I understand that Michigan’s D isn’t that good, and that Illinois just managed to take advantage of it. But 55 rushes for 377 yards? Illinois didn’t even manage that production against Illinois State earlier this season, in their only other win. That type of production has little to do with the quality of your opponent — You’re just getting the job done up front and mangling a team when you get that many yards. And even if Michigan’s defense (along with coordinator Greg Robinson) is terrible, Illinois still was great on offense, just like everyone thought they would be all season long.

So why now? Why, when they are 1-6, and 0-5 in the Big Ten, can Illinois suddenly move the football?  Why is the offense NOW able to create some opportunities? Why did it take so long for this team to finally get motivated and put up the effort which we all knew they were capable of?

Zook_thinkingUnfortunately, those are all questions that only Ron Zook has the answer to, and no doubt he’s not giving anyone the answers.

And therein lies the ultimate problem.

This team would have almost been better off playing horribly the rest of the season — this win only provides a ridiculous tease to an increasingly more disenchanted fan base.  While they were certainly placated during the second half, and most likely after the game as well, soon all of their minds will turn to these questions, namely, just where was all this effort all season long?

If Zook can’t figure out what worked this week, and how to consistently squeeze this type of effort out of his team, remarkably, the win may end up reflecting worse on him than any loss would have.

Links, Contests and Other stuff

Who knows The Sports Bank better? Championship Faceoff

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By Rikki Greenberg

I’ve known Banks for a little over 2 years now and it’s has been quite the experience. We’ve sat together at press conferences and basketball games and mingled with fellow NBC street teamers at various clubs/bars in the city.

With all this time put in, I think I know a great deal about Mr. Banks, but when it came time to decide the “Who knows Banks better?” Championship Faceoff, I thought of two people who are special in his life.

Let’s meet the contestants.

First we have Lisa, Paul’s long time girlfriend. They have been dating for close to a year and lived together for much of that time, so Lisa should have an edge with ample time spent in close proximity to Banks. lisandmesoxgame

Let’s give a big round of applause for the second contestant, Soxman. He and Banks have an undeniable bromance that has blossomed since they met in 2007.

So who is it going to be? The best friend or the significant other?

Let’s find out!

1. First thing Banks does in the morning…

Soxman: Checks the number of hits the sportsbank had over night and the comments his story received.

Lisa:  This is a toss up depending on the day. Checks his email comes to mind, but so does drinking caffeine (coffee, red bull, or the like), grunting at me for waking him up, or going poop. Pretty much sums up his morning ritual.

What does Banks really do?
I go online, check/update the site/email, etc.

And the Winner is…
Soxman

2. Best interview with a celebrity/athlete/politician…

Soxman:  Soxman of course.  Just kidding.  The best write-up of an interview Banks did was with former Philadelphia Eagle Vince Papale, who won an NFL roster spot through an open audition the team once held. He would likely answer Steve Stone or one of his United Nations Environmentalist peeps.

Lisa: Juice Williams, Howard Zinn, or Dan Bernstein

Who really was Banks best interview?guillen
Ozzie Guillen

And the winner is…
Nobody

3. Athlete/celebrity/politician Banks was most impressed by…

Soxman: Bill Belichick, Al Gore, Erin Andrews and Elizabeth Banks

Lisa:  Paul is so fickle. This one is hard. It changes daily. I would guess Natalie Maines, Tara Reid, or Michael Moore.

Who was Banks really impressed by?
Ask me again next week, I’ll probably have a different answer, so “next question” as Bill. Belichick would say

And the winner is…
Lisa, although we should give Soxman at least half a pt. there.

4. Favorite television show…

Soxman: Lost
Lisa: Family Guy, Bill Maher, the Simpsons, Big 10 College Gameday

What really is Bank’s favorite television show?
Family Guy

And the winner is…
Lisa!

5. Brand of toothpaste Banks brushes with…

Soxman: Whatever he could get at the dollar store.
Lisa: Crest – or whatever I buy for him when he’s out

Which brand really captures Banks attention in the morning?
Anything Whitening

And the winner is…
Lisa!

6. If Banks wasn’t a web content creator/manager he would be….

Soxman: An environmental lobbyist

Lisa: A house husband. J/K. He’s tried a lot of stuff, but I think he’d get an office job or be a teacher. He’d be a really good teacher.

What would Banks really be doing?
Small Business Owner

And the winner is…
Nobody ?

7. Banks biggest pet peeve…

Soxman: PR departments that don’t know the “relations” part of the job.

Lisa: Traffic, driving, incompetence, stupidity

What really gets Banks annoyed?
The horrible Chicago traffic, the fact that I can’t go on I-55 to hometown unless its at hours other 2-8pm, because soutbbound traffic is ALWAYS RIDICULOUSLY BADbelichickhalloweencostume

And the winner is…
Lisa

8. Weirdest habit…

Soxman: Always referring to himself as Paul “M” Banks
Lisa:  Paul loves to pull on his shirts. It stretches out the necks and it really bugs me.

What really is Banks weirdest habit?
Running the hair dryer over my body to get warm before I go to sleep. I think it works to  relax myself. I learned the process from my Dad, who referred to it as “going to Florida.”

And the winner is…
Nobody ? Oy gavult! You guys are killing me over here!

9. Song he most frequently quotes lines from:

Soxman: Anything from Kanye West…although maybe not so much anymore.

Lisa: This one is hard, he doesn’t really quote songs. Movies, literature, Family Guy…those are all in his wheel house. I am going to venture a guess, it would be some rap/hip hop lyric about getting ass and being bling or something from Smashing Pumpkins or Blur.

Which song is it really?
Something hip-hop or DMB.

mewithsoxman

And the winner is…
Tie! Extra point to Lisa for being extra specific.

10. Team he is the biggest supporter of…

Soxman: Chicago White Sox and New England Patriots.

Lisa: This is another one of those that it really depends on the day. He’s passionate and abundant with his love and hatred of teams. Among his top 5: Illinois, Northwestern, Blackhawks, the Bulls, and the White Sox. At least he’s got passion.

Which team really sends Paul’s heart racing?
Illinois

erin-andrews

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And the winner is…
Lisa!

THE GRAND CHAMPION OF “WHO KNOWS BANKS BETTER” IS…

LISA! (7-2.5)

Sorry Soxman. It looks like you’re going to have spend some more quality time with your bromance partner Mr. Paul M Banks.

lisapresentation