Monthly Archives: March 2016

Basketball in Brooklyn

I went to a four-of-the six games this weekend in Brooklyn and had a great time. A few comments and observations on the Barclays Center’s NCAA Tournament debut.

1- The entrance lines are ridiculous. I get the security, but make more lines, open more doors, get more guards screening people. It took me over half an hour to clear security and get to my seat. This isn’t an airport, fix it.

2- The upper deck is the red-headed step child of the arena. That’s ok, the views are still very good even if the concourses are too narrow. But, you have to open the stairwells and allow people to use them to get up and down. Two escalators only going in one direction and a few scattered elevators are not enough to allow fans to travel up and down.

3- I like the policy of not allowing fans to get back to their seats while the game is in progress, but you have to announce that policy and make it known. Way too many fans getting needlessly upset over a good idea.

As for the games, saw two great ones and two terrible ones. Villanova absolutely destroyed both UNC Asheville and Iowa. I still don’t buy the Big East (notice what happened to their tourney champion Seton Hall?) but Nova was really impressive this weekend. Iowa-Temple on Friday was a great game with lots of sad Temple fans after overtime. Kudos to Iowans for traveling in numbers to support their team. And the Notre Dame-SFA game today was the best of all, so close to a major upset.

Assuming Barclays can fix the entrance issues and flow between floors, I think the tourney can really succeed there. Hopefully, it will be back soon.

March Madness Picks

I am a Tar Heel and that means I am very, very biased about the upcoming tournament. My heart tells me that they are going to win it all. Problem is, my head is in agreement. So, I am going to overrule  my head and make a different pick below just to try and be objective.

“Heart” Final Four- UNC, Kansas, Michigan State, Oklahoma with UNC beating Kansas in the finals.

“Head’ Final Four- Kentucky, Kansas, UVA, Oklahoma with Kansas beating UVA in the finals.

I truly believe that UNC is the best team in the country. But Kentucky is the best 4 seed in the tourney and should have been ranked higher. They could beat them.  Kansas is right there too. UVA can beat anyone and while they are getting crushed in the press for a #1 seed, they came pretty close to beating UNC last night and Malcolm Brogdon is a joy to watch. Buddy Hield is a name you will know before March is over, watch out for him and OU, I think they are far and away the best team in the West.

Thursday and Friday are two of my favorite days of the sports calendar and I will be attending Friday’s games in person. I can’t wait.


Spending Spree

The Giants are going into free agency spending like drunken sailors. They started by bringing back JPP on a one-year deal. I actually think this was a smart move as it is an incentive-laden contract and JPP clearly hadn’t lost a step last year. If the doctors can figure out a way for him to play without the heavy wrap on his hand, he could become a dominant force again and a bargain.

Then the Giants went bonkers, handing out massive contracts to Olivier Vernon, Damon Harrison, and Janoris Jenkins. Let’s put Jenkins aside for a minute and talk about Vernon and Harrison, probably the two best defensive free agents outside of Von Miller available. There is no question they will help, and they will help where the Giants really need it- on the front four. But, they are paying the two of them about $25-million a season for that help. That’s crazy money and shows you how desperate Jerry Reese is to keep his job.

And they also added Jenkins, possibly a better player than the guy he replaces, Amukamura, but not necessarily, and at another huge cost- $12 million per. Add up all the spending and the Giants have doled out over $200-million (over $100-million guaranteed) for four players. We will have to see how all the cap hits play out in terms of bonuses, etc., but they still have some pressing needs- Safety, WR2, Offensive Line, and linebacker. How much is left to cover those?

All the spending is ironic because the three new guys all came from the 2012 Draft class. The Giants failed miserably in the draft. David Wilson, their first pick, had to retire from football after 114 carries. Ruben Randle was enigmatic at best in his years as the second wide receiver. Jayron Hosely was a pretty bad cornerback. Adrien Robinson never saw the field, Brandon Mosely barely saw it, and Matt McCants never did either. Markus Kuhn, their final pick, is probably their best, starting 11 games on the defensive line and recording 1.5 sacks.

And that’s the real problem this team has, way too little talent being acquired through the draft. They have done a better job recently, but this spending spree can be traced directly to the disastrous 2012 draft. To me it is also indicative of a GM who knows he needs to turn things around now or lose his job. I can’t blame ownership for making Reese feel like his job is on the line, but it is also their job to rein him in. Hopefully, his spending spree works and makes the Giants better, but with all of the guaranteed money he has handed out the Giants could have problems down the line and headaches for their next GM.

Wait Until Next Year

Last night St. Francis lost their opening game of the Northeastern Conference Tournament meaning that they will remain one of the five original D1 teams to have never made the NCAA Tournament. The other four teams- Army, Citadel, Northwestern, and William&Mary, are still in the running for a spot, though their chances are not great.

Army is ranked 4th in the Patriot League Tournament with a home game tonight against #5 Colgate. If they win that game, they probably have to go play #1 Bucknell on the road.

The Citadel is the lowest ranked team in the Southern League Tournament starting tonight. They will need to win four games in four nights to make the tourney.

Northwestern could finish as high as 9th in the Big 10, but that would mean four wins in four nights to make the tourney. If they fall to 11th, that would increase to five wins in five nights.

William&Mary is the #5 seed in the CAA meaning they will open on the road at James Madison. Assuming they win that, they will probably face the #1 seed, Hofstra to get to the conference finals.

So the odds are not good that any of the remaining four will finally make the tourney this year. But the beauty of college basketball is that they all have a chance.

Can We All Get Our Money Back?

I have to give Carmelo Anthony credit for this one, he told a heckler last night to ask Knicks owner, Jim Dolan, for his money back.  That’s both funny and bold.

Unfortunately, it is also a grim indicator of just how badly things have been going for the Knicks this century. Since the calendar hit 2000, the Knicks have finished above .500 four times, made the playoffs five times, and won a grand total of one playoff series. At this point the question should be why would anyone give the Knicks money in the first place?

I suspect we are on the verge of some more major changes. I don’t think Dolan is going to take all of this lying down. Phil Jackson will probably go, Anthony will probably be traded away, a new coach and GM will be brought in. The championship drought will continue.