-David Naxon from Dallas
Last week, The University of Colorado accepted an invitation to the Pac-10 as their 11th team, and today, The University of Utah has announced that they plan to accept an invitation to the Pac-10 as the 12th team. The Pac-10 had their eyes on a 16 team conference, but after Texas backed out, they can’t complain with the additions of Colorado, and Utah, who won the 2009 BCS Sugar Bowl over the Alabama Crimson Tide. Since 2003, the Utah Utes have been a perfect 6-0 in bowl games, and 2-0 in BCS bowl games. Current Florida head coach Urban Meyer led the Utes to an undefeated season in 2004, and they were the first team in history to receive a BCS bid as a team outside of the power-6 conferences. Utah won the 2004 Fiesta Bowl over Pittsburgh, capping off a perfect 12-0 season.
The Utes are leaving the Mountain West, who added a powerhouse team themselves this week, in Boise State. Boise has been the cinderella of college football for the past 5 years, and they most notably beat the Oklahoma Sooners in the 2007 BCS Fiesta Bowl, in one of the most dramatic football games of all time. The Mountain West simply swapped schools, but if they would have kept Utah, they would have fought for a possible automatic BCS bid, but with Utah now leaving their conference, it will be tougher for them to get that.
Brazil barely tops North Korea, Italy can’t pull out a win against Paraguay, and both Mexico and France finished with close draws.
Oh, and did I mention that Spain just lost to Switzerland (ranked 24th in the world according to FIFA)?
I believe an exclamation of WTF is in order.
For those out there who have decided to make things a bit more appealing and bet on the World Cup, including yours truly, matches have been more frustrating than anything else.
After all these top teams who have either squeaked out a draw or were embarrassed with a one-goal loss, the proposed final outcome could very likely be something completely surprising.
At this point, where all 32 teams have played once, the speculations have begun about the possible crowning of a new World Cup champ, and how it could be a completely random nation that no one expected.
Take Italy, the reigning World Champions. They lost their number one goalie, Gianluigi Buffon, (arguably the top keeper in the world) to a back injury that will likely sideline him for the remainder of the tournament. The Azzuri did not win the 2006 World Cup on goaltending alone, but their offense was less than stellar on Monday night against Paraguay. Assuming they will make it past the group stage, Italy could have some serious problems scoring goals against the much better teams they will be facing.
Next up in our list of top teams playing like crap is Spain. Winners of the 2008 Euro Cup, the exciting explosive kings of Europe who are ranked second in the world behind Brazil simply played like garbage today. Sure they had the ball near the 18-yard box for almost the entire 90, but they just ruined every opportunity they had. Switzerland is not Germany, Brazil or even the Netherlands and if this is the way Spain thinks they will win it all, they are in for a big surprise.
Speaking of Brazil…
That’s right I’m speechless. Letting up a goal to North Korea? Really? Their supporters who read this will now starting shouting about how they won and scored two goals in the process, something that neither Italy nor Spain could accomplish, but we’re not looking for excuses here. Brazil came into this tournament with a revamped lineup focused on winning and winning big. They are not doing that. Therefore they are not in a position to be expecting the World Cup trophy to come easy.
So now, here are the real contenders: Germany, Netherlands and Argentina. Germany ripped apart Australia, who are by no means a terrible club (they’re the top FIFA team in the Asia Region) by a score of 4-0. Netherlands beat a tough Denmark team 2-0 and barely gave the Danes chances close to the net. Argentina might not be on the same level, but they stopped Nigeria from scoring and managed to put one past keeper Vincent Enyeama who is also near the top on the goaltending list.
What is the common denominator between these three clubs? They each managed to score for themselves and keep their opponents scoreless. Brazil scored but let in a goal against North Korea (still can’t believe it), Spain couldn’t score and Italy let in a goal and just played poorly overall.
The talent that Germany and the Netherlands have displayed is the kind of skill that will take them far into this tournament and should scare their future opponents.
As crazy as the outcomes have been so far, it looks as though these two teams will have a steady stream of victories where the top three might be painfully surprised very shortly. As a staunch Netherlands fan, it sounds great to me.
Oh, and by the way, I don’t actually think New Zealand and Slovenia will make it. Not by a long shot.
–Keldy Ortiz in New York
Rondo to Derick Rose to John Wall???
Now before I continue writing, I know a lot of people are thinking how could I make such a comparison when one of them (John Wall) has yet to step on an NBA court, and even sign with an NBA team. Well to Kevin Garnett, who was highly regarded prior to coming out of high school, so I feel I can hype up John Wall in the same way.
In game six of the NBA Finals, Rondo did not have the best game in the world, in fact it might have been the worst of his playoff career, scoring just 10 points on a 5-15 shooting performance. Though Rondo and the Celtics lost that game badly, look for them to emerge in game seven. Victorious? Maybe, but we have to wait to Thursday to see if that happens. Going back to Wall’s similarities to Rondo, as a player in college coached by one of the finest Division I coaches in all of basketball, Tubby Smith, at the University of Kentucky, it was coach Smith who molded Rondo, a 6’1 guard, into one of the most athletic guards in the SEC during the 2005-06 season. Though he did lose to current Celtics center, Glen “Big Baby” Davis of LSU, Boston knew that they were in for a treat when they took him during 2006 NBA Draft as they never looked back.
Now in his third year as a Celtic, Rondo has emerge as one of, if not one of the best overall PG’s in the league, both offensively and defensively. I mean the guy can shoot and rebound while contesting with guys 6’6, 6’8; that has to show some type of resilience.
While Rondo started becoming the new face in the NBA, it was Derrick Rose, from the University of Memphis, who started taking a lot of notoriety especially being well coached from a one of the most premier coaches in college, John Calipari. Calipari, who in his previous life was an NBA coach for the New Jersey Nets, where he coached young guard Stephon Marbury, so a lot was going to be expected after grabbing hold of this player and seeing what he can do. What happened? Well Rose and Memphis along with Calipari put on one of the greatest stretches in NCAA history climbing to a 37-1 record before losing to Kansas in the national championship in 2008. Rose, single-handedly brought the University and his team back to NCAA glory, too bad they would not be heard of in the following season. A few weeks after Rose declared for the NBA draft, where an unexpected career was awaiting him.
In the NBA, Rose was selected number one overall by the Chicago Bulls in the 2008 draft and boy did Rose not disappoint. He averaged 16 points per game and led the Bulls to the playoffs and had a run-in with the Boston Celtics. Though the Bulls did eventually, after putting up a valiant effort, lose the series, it was the beginning of a new start for the Bulls and Rose. Rose finished the season with Rookie of the Year honors and continues to dominant in the current season, though they had a short stint playing against the Cleveland Cavaliers. Rose during his past few seasons in the league has should his leadership roles and looks to become more prominent in the role of a leader in seasons to come.
John Wall, who if you have not heard his name (or dance) should google his name ASAP is recognized as one the most talked about college players since Rose. Coming out of the University of Kentucky and coached by you guessed it, John Calipari, Wall displayed what he has been doing since high school and that is playing at the highest level on every single possession during every single game he played. If Wall was not scoring, he would be dominating the boards and dishing out assists to fellow Wildcat and future draft pick DeMarcus Cousins. Calipari also had a lot to do with molding Wall into the player he is widely considered to become upon wearing an NBA uniform, as a leader and helping out teammates around him. Calipari did it with Rose and he left after his Freshman year to go join the NBA, which Wall, who has said has Rose in his list of role models to do the same.
Now you ask, ok so what is my point? Well between this three players a lot of commonality is shown between them in that they all rebound, they guard well and most importantly score when needed. Though Rondo is already ahead of the pack now with one, maybe two championships, it will not be long before Wall and Rose get their fair share of rings to wear. They have been coach by the finest in the college and are expected over the next few years to emerge as one of the next shining stars in the league, so everyone get your tapes ready as highlights and breaking footage will be made between these guys.
-It’s getting too exciting for words in baseball right now, but since I write a daily column consisting of words, I’ll give it a shot. Every NL divisional race is either tied or separated by a half a game after Tuesday’s games. The Mets are just a half a game behind Atlanta after a five run 5th inning bailed Johan Santana out of his sub par performance and gave New York a 7-6 win over Cleveland for their 5th straight victory. Coupled with Atlanta’s 10-4 loss to Tampa Bay (more on that in a minute) the Mets are just a half game back. Cincinnati dropped their 5th game in eight tries, 12-0 to the Dodgers and Jeff Suppan’s St. Louis return was a success and Colby Rasmus remained on fire in the Cardinals’ 4-2 win over Seattle, which means the Reds and Cards are tied for first place in the NL Central. Since the Dodgers beat the Reds, the Padres had to win to keep their half game lead in the NL West and did so, getting an Aaron Cunningham grand slam and another excellent Mat Latos performance in an 8-2 win over Toronto. San Diego leads Los Angeles by a half game in the NL West. Isn’t that exciting?
-So who leads the American League in wins? CC Sabathia? Justin Verlander? Felix Hernandez? Cliff Lee? Jon Lester? How about Tampa Bay’s David Price, who earned his 10th win of the season in a 10-4 win over Atlanta. His journey to the double-digit mark was ugly, allowing two earned runs in five innings on 113 pitches but the Rays scored four in the first off Kenshin Kawakami (0-9!) and never looked back.
-The curse of the Bambino and the Billy Goat curse were certainly more famous than the curse of Matt Treanor, but this little known curse that I may have just invented cost the Marlins a game. With Florida up 2-1 and Leo Nunez in for the save, off the bench comes backup catcher and former Marlin Matt Treanor, who hits a two-run triple that gives Texas an enormous win and a two game cushion in the AL West after Milwaukee crushed Anaheim 7-1. Who needs AJ Pierzynski when you have Matt Treanor?
-Pittsburgh may have lost its 9th straight game but help is on the way in the form of top hitting prospect Pedro Alvarez, who will make his major league debut on Wednesday. He’s a powerful hitter who should bat in the middle of the Pirates order right away so get him in fantasy while he’s still available.
-Just four games out in the AL West, Oakland acquired Conor Jackson from Arizona for (what else, with the D-Backs bullpen in shambles, led by new closer Aaron Heilman) a minor league reliever. Jackson went 0-1 in his A’s debut but Rajai Davis has three hits and drove in two runs as Oakland beat the Cubs 9-5 in Wrigley.
-How can Kyle Davies allow six runs and three innings and still have his team, the Royals, win the game? Why, play the Astros of course! The world-class middle infield combo of Mike Aviles and Yuniesky Betancourt combined for five hits and seven RBIs as Kansas City hammered Houston 15-7.