NBA Bans Donald Sterling For Life

The sports world is already talking about Donald Sterling. Just three days after racist comments from the Los Angeles Clippers owner were released to the world via TMZ, he would have to face the music.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver announced Tuesday that Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling has been suspended for life from the Los Angeles Clippers and the NBA. He may not attend games, practices, or Clippers facilities. He may also not attend Board of Governors meetings. Sterling is fined an amount of $2.5 million, which will be donated to organizations promoting anti-discrimination. Silver will urge the Board of Governors to force a sale of the team.

This whole incident has been a great first test for Commissioner Adam Silver. Just a couple months into his tenure he’s been pushed in a big way. We’ve never really seen anything quite like this before in any sports league. It was a unique and terrible situation that had to be dealt with in a serious manner.

Sterling has no place in the NBA or really any place as a public figure. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but his thoughts on African Americans don’t belong in the game of basketball. It’s time for Sterling to take his billions and ride off into the California sunset. Get out, no one wants you around and don’t let the door hit you in the backside on your way out.

As for the Clippers, they’ll try to get themselves together for tonight’s crucial game five. You know this ordeal has been a distraction on some level and I just hope the players can band together in the playoffs and not let Sterling bring them down.

If the Clippers can weather the storm in this opening round series I like their chances moving forward. But a game five defeat would be very bad, especially with one more trip to the Bay Area looming.

Either way, at least the franchise can start to move on from Sterling.

2014 College Basketball Coaching Carousel: Grading the Hires

Who doesn’t love the ol’ college coaching carousel? Well it was cranking this offseason once again with a number of programs making changes and some big names were on the move as well, including the jovial man pictured above. So who made the grade and who missed the mark? Here are my grades for the college basketball coaching changes for 2014.
This will be updated when the remaining vacancies are filled

Appalachian State – Jim Fox (Davidson assistant)
Jason Capel was a game over .500 in his first season in Boone but failed to reach that mark in the three years since, bottoming out at 9-21 in 2013-14. Fox should bring in a bit of a winning edge for the Mountaineers given his experience working as an assistant at Davidson for the past 13 years. And the Wildcats have only gone 288-131 during that stretch. This is a pretty good hire.
Grade: B+

Auburn – Bruce Pearl (ESPN analyst)
Not too many coaches get off the place and jump into a mosh pit when they arrive at their new job, but not many coaches are Bruce Pearl. Yes, we all know about his previous transgressions that led to his dismissal from Tennessee back in 2011 but even then, this is a brilliant hire. Pearl is a tremendous coach that has won everywhere he has gone and for a AU program that has little tradition and has been garbage of late, this is a heck of a coup. And with how the SEC is far from a basketball powerhouse right now, Pearl will have plenty of opportunity to build a winner on the plains.
Grade: A

Boston College – Jim Christian (Ohio head coach)
The Eagles have not made the NCAA’s since the second to last year under Al Skinner in 2009 and have only had two winning seasons overall since 2007. They have never been a good fit in the ACC, Harvard is the better program at this point in the city and in all of New England, they cannot touch UConn. Christian is a good coach and has won games everywhere he has been but he has never coached outside of the Midwest and I do not know if he can recruit the area enough to make BC a stronger program in the conference
Grade: B-

Bowling Green – Chris Jans (Wichita State assistant)
Louis Orr could not get the job done in Bowling Green and he got fired. The Falcons have not been to the postseason since 1968, but they are bringing in a winner in Jans. Jans has been an assistant under Gregg Marshall since Marshall took the job in Wichita and has been a core part of the building of an excellent program out there. He also won some games as a JuCo coach in the late 90’s and early 00’s. He will make Bowling Green competitive in the MAC at the very least.
Grade: A-

Cal – Cuonzo Martin (Tennessee head coach)
Martin was never fully accepted amid the Volunteer faithful and they grew restless midseason before he led them to the Sweet Sixteen. But facing a rebuilding job next year, Martin decided to head west and take over for the retired Mike Montgomery. Cal is not quite the best job in the Pac-12 and this was a lateral move at best from Tennessee, and a surprising one at that after Martin turned down the Marquette job. Also, Martin has no coaching experience out west. But he’s an underrated coach and he will do well out on the east shore of the Bay.
Grade: B+

Central Arkansas – Russ Pennell (Phoenix Mercury interim head coach)
Pennell has taken an unusual path to Conway. He took over amid the Lute Olsen issues at Arizona and led the Wildcats to the Sweet Sixteen in 2009. Then he went to one of those for-profit schools and found some success at Grand Canyon before being relieved of his duties there. And then in December, he took over as head coach of the Phoenix Mercury and took the club to the Western Conference finals. So for all of that, it’s an interesting hire but Pennell also has no ties to the region.
Grade: C+

Coppin State –

Delaware State – Keith Walker (Delaware State interim head coach)
Greg Jackson had a positive 14 seasons run in Dover, including the program’s first tournament appearance, but he was fired after a mediocre 4-15 start to the season. Walker was given the interim tag and proceeded to lead the Hornets to a respectable 5-6 finish with a .500 record in conference during his stint. He had been a long time assistant under Jackson since 2000 and previously was the head guy at Shaw University in Division II. A fine hire.
Grade: B

Florida A&M –

Florida Atlantic – Michael Curry (formerly Philadelphia 76ers assistant)
This is an interesting and a relatively intriguing hire. It is not often that a school like FAU can hire a coach with NBA coaching experience but in Curry’s experience, his sole year as coach of the Pistons was a fiasco in 2009. But Curry was still well-respected in league circles and while he has no college coaching experience, this is a solid hire for a program that could use a little excitement.
Grade: B

Houston – Kelvin Sampson (Houston Rockets assistant)
The way Sampson went out at Indiana obviously was less than ideal and led to a five year show-cause order by the NCAA in 2008 for recruiting violations, but Sampson worked to rebuild his reputation by assisting in the NBA in Milwaukee then Houston and even was in the mix for some NBA jobs. There is no question, however, that Sampson knows how to coach and he won everywhere he went. This is a big get for a middling Houston program and a great fit considering Sampson’s connections in the region from his time at Oklahoma.
Grade: A

IPFW – Jon Coffman (IPFW assistant)
Tony Jasick helped slowly but surely build the IPFW program during his tenure, capping it with a record 25 win season before heading to Jacksonville. Following the model they set by promoting Jasick, they decided to promote Coffman who has been an assistant under Jasick for the past three years. Coffman is well-traveled and he should help to at least maintain what Jasick built.
Grade: B-

IUPUI – Jason Gardner (Memphis assistant)
IUPUI will have one of the younger coaches in Division I next year with Gardner, who does not turn 34 until November. And Gardner is also pretty raw as a coach, he only has a few years as an assisting going into this job as he spent two seasons at Loyola Chicago before his sole year at Memphis. But he also is a native of the Circle City and is a former Indiana Mr. Basketball and in a tough job, he should show some recruiting abilities for a program that needs it.
Grade: B+

Jacksonville – Tony Jasik (IPFW head coach)
Cliff Warren had a nice start to his tenure with the Dolphins but after a slow past few years, he was fired. They found a nice replacement in Jasik, who helped to build a mediocre IPFW program and won a record 25 games and made the legendary CIT. Now Jasik does not have much experience in the South, let alone the Sunshine State, but he has shown he can win games at a tough job and one could expect himm to build toward that here.
Grade: B

Kennesaw State – Jimmy Lallathin (Kennesaw State interim coach)
Kennesaw State has been struggling ever since moving up from Division II to Division I and they have been relatively uncompetitive in the powerhouse league that is the Atlantic Sun. I don’t love simply promoting an assistant in a bad situation but for a program like this, you may not do that much better than Lallathin. He’s been with the Owls since 2011 and worked at Miami (OH) before that but this wasn’t a program with the resources to entice a coach of any sort to come to northern Georgia.
Grade: C-

Lamar – Tic Price (Lamar interim coach)
Pat Knight may have gotten Lamar to the tournament in 2012 after that epic rant but following that run, he went a hearty 6-50 over these past two years before getting fired late in the 2014 season. Price took over the ship and finished 1-4 but he will get the head job. Price has coaching experience with ten years at New Orleans, Memphis and McNeese State but save from a successful run at UNO and a tournament bid in his first year in Lake Charles, he had an inconsistent record. But this school probably could not have done much better.
Grade: C

Loyola Marymount – Mike Dunlap (formerly Charlotte Bobcats head coach)
So in a few years, Dunlap has gone from interim coach at St. John’s to the NBA and the Charlotte Bobcats and now to Loyola Marymound. We call that well-traveled. But he has a unique background and that is what makes this an intriguing hire for the Lions. Dunlap has a lot of experience coaching out west assistant as numerous schools and in the NBA, and he has head coaching experience from coaching in Divisions II and III. Sure, his tenure with the Bobcats was a mess, but who beyond this year has had success there?
Grade: B+

Maine –

Marquette – Steve Wojciechowski (Duke assistant)
Yes, the situation surrounding Marquette and their lack of a school president and athletic director led Buzz Williams to bolt for Virginia Tech but Marquette is still a quality job. And they made a very good hire in this Coach K lieutenant. Wojciechowski has worked under Mike Krzyzewski for 15 years, so one would think he learned something or another. He brings a higher profile than many assistants traditionally do and despite this being his first job, he should be able to bring some talent to Milwaukee and win in the Big East.
Grade: A-

Marshall – Dan D’Antoni (Los Angeles Lakers assistant)
There was no secret that Marshall was looking to hire Mike D’Antoni but ultimately as the Marshall grad was going to stay as coach of the Lakers, who does the school have as a plan B? His brother who has no coaching experience, is 66 years old and has been an assistant for his brother since 2005. Before that, he coached at a head school in South Carolina for 30 years. But hey, he is at least a grad!
Grade: D

Maryland Eastern Shore – Bobby Collins (Winston-Salem State head coach)
UMES is a pretty tough job. Just ask previous coach Frankie Allen who went 42-139 over a six year stretch leading the Hawks. So Collins is going to have a lot on his plate as he takes charge in Princess Anne. Collins, though, is a solid hire as he has built Winston-Salem State up into a program that has gone to the D-II tournament three times in a row. He also was not all that unsuccessful at Hampton before.
Grade: B

Missouri – Kim Anderson (Central Missouri head coach)
It looks like Mizzou went cheap on this hire, which is something I’m generally not a fan of. Sure, Anderson was an assistant for over ten years in two stints with the Tigers and is an alum, and he was pretty successful at Central Missouri. However, it is a pretty nice gap from Division II to the SEC, even with how mediocre the SEC is among the major conferences. I’m sorry but hiring a 58 year old largely because he is an alim is far from an inspiring hire in my book.
Grade: C-

Montana State – Brian Fish (Oregon assistant)
Brad Huse could not get it done during his four years in Bozeman and he resigned earlier this year. To replace him, Montana State hired this career assistant who has seemed to be poised to get a head job of his own for a while now. The Dana Altman protege has been an assistant for 24 years and success has often followed him where he has coached. He knows the region relatively well and should be a solid fit with the Bobcats.
Grade: B

North Dakota State – David Richman (North Dakota State assistant)
For the second straight time, the Bison have promoted from within when their coach left for greener pastures and I do not have any reason to think that the results will be different with Richman. Richman has been with NDSU for eleven years and for a program that is coming off perhaps their biggest year in program history, continuity is far from a bad thing.
Grade: B+

Ohio – Saul Phillips (North Dakota State head coach)
Phillips will be the Bobcats’ third coach in four seasons but even with that bit of upheaval, they made a strong hire. Phillips was very successful during his seven years in Fargo, leading the Bison to the NCAA’s twice, including getting a big upset over Oklahoma this go-around, and winning at least 24 games thrice. Phillips knows how to coach and he can recruit as well. He should be able to win in Athens and I think this is a great hire.
Grade: A

Rice – Mike Rhoades (VCU assistant)
Rhoades may not have any coaching experience outside of the commonwealth of Virginia, but this is a nice hire to land a guy that was connected to numerous job openings in recent years. He has been a top lieutenant under Shaka Smart and VCU since 2009 and before that had a successful ten year run at Randolph-Macon. He should be able to make a woebegone Rice program competitive once again.
Grade: B+

South Dakota – Craig Smith (Nebraska assistant)
If you are going to take a job in the Northern Midwest, being a protege of a guy like Tim Miles should only help. Smith has coached under Miles at Northern Colorado, Colorado State and most recently at Nebraska, where he helped the Huskers get back to the tournament for the first time since 1998. Plus, Smith also has head coaching experience having served as the head at Mayville State in the NAIA from 2004-2007 where he was very successful. This is a strong hire.
Grade: A-

Southeastern Louisiana – Jay Ladner (Jones County Junior College head coach)
Jim Yarborough was two games under .500 during his nine seasons in Hammond but three straight losing campaigns sealed his fate and he was axed. Ladner may not have any Division I experience, which is a risk, but he was very successful in his two years at JCJC and was a successful high school coach before that in the Gulf region. For a tough job, this is an inspired hire.
Grade: B

Southern Miss –

Tennessee – Donnie Tyndall (Southern Miss head coach)
Volunteer fans never accepted Cuonzo Martin simply because he was not Bruce Pearl and he left for Berkeley after taking the team to their first Sweet Sixteen since 2010. And Tennessee is a relatively overrated program to boot, but you should be able to win in a conference that is far from being a deep hoops conference. They found a pretty darn coach in Tyndall who has won everywhere he has coached. There is no reason why he should not be able to win with better resources in Knoxville and he should be able to recruit better guys than he was able to get in Hattiesburg and Morehead.
Grade: A

Tennessee-Martin – Heath Schroyer (UNLV assistant)
This is a tough job as shown by previous coach Jason James going a hearty 37-117 over the past five years before getting fired. So you know Schroyer has a nice hill to climb after serving the last few years as an assistant under Dave Rice at UNLV. Schroyer has head coaching experience having spent three years at Portland State, which ended well as his club finished first in the conference standings, and four years at Wyoming which was not a success. He also has exclusively coached out west so he is also an unusual fit in Martin. But this program probably could not do much better.
Grade: B-

Tennessee State – Dana Ford (Illinois State assistant)
Travis Williams’s tenure started out fine with an 18-15 season but he got fired after it hit the fan with a 5-25 2013-14 campaign. Ford was an assistant with the Tigers for a few years before heading on to Wichita State and then Illinois State and given his reputation for hitting the recruiting trail, he is a nice fit in Nashville for this program.
Grade: B+

Tulsa – Frank Haith (Missouri head coach)
It is not often that you see a coach leave a school like Missouri for a school like Tulsa, but that is what you have here. Haith was going to be on the hot seat in Columbia so he decided to leave town and in the eyes of the student body, it was not a day too soon. Whether that is fair or not, Haith is far from being a good coach but he can recruit and he should be able to get some players in Tulsa due to his experience in the region. He is a solid fit and he has a chance to build on what Danny Manning has built thus far.
Grade: B

UNC Wilmington – Kevin Keatts (Louisville assistant)
Hopes were high for Buzz Peterson when he was hired in 2010 but a 42-80 stretch ensued in which the team was a consistent finisher in the bottom of the conference. But as opposed as to going the retread route again, the Seahawks landed a talented assistant and a protege of Rick Pitino in Keatts. Keatts did tremendous work on the recruiting trail and he should get kids to Wilmington, which is a place you can win at (relatively speaking, of course).
Grade: A-

USF – Orlando Antigua (Kentucky assistant)
Well the original hire of Steve Masiello infamously did not work out but South Florida landed a good one in the John Calipari protege. Antigua followed Calipari from Memphis to Kentucky and has been a top assistant since where he has sharpened his recruiting skills. He does have some unique coaching experience as he is the coach of the Dominican Republic national team and he should be able to recruit talent to Tampa.
Grade: B+

Virginia Tech – Buzz Williams (Marquette head coach)
Sure, going from Marquette to Virginia Tech is not exactly a logical move but when you hate the conference and you are operate without an athletic director and a school president, one could see Williams’s reasoning. Anyways, this is a brilliant hire for the Hokies who have long been a mediocre program even with the enjoyable Seth Greenberg tenure. Williams is known for recruiting unheralded players and coaching them into performers and he should be able to get VT back to the tournament.
Grade: A

Wake Forest – Danny Manning (Tulsa head coach)
Wake gives the appearance of appearing as a better job as it really is but even so, it is still a sound job in the heart of Tobacco Road. Now Manning may appear as an odd fit in Winston-Salem do his numerous years as an assistant at Kansas and his two years at Tulsa, but he has shown he is a talented coach with the quality job he did with the Golden Hurricane. He should be able to recruit well and when compared to Jeff Bzdelik, he may look like Bill Self.
Grade: A-

Washington State – Ernie Kent (Pac-12 Network analyst)
Ken Bone started out alright in replacing Tony Bennett in Pullman but he went 23-40 the past two seasons before he got the ax. The Palouse may look great on a postcard but it is a tough place to recruit and a tough place to coach. Kent has been toiling in television the last few years after being fired from Oregon but he is a very good fit. Yes, the wheels came off at the end but he was relatively successful in Eugene during his 13 years there and he knows how to recruit the Pacific Northwest. For this school, perhaps as good as it could get.
Grade: A-

Western Illinois – Billy Wright (Ball State assistant)
You know your program has some ways to go when the head man leaves for an assisting job but that is the case as Jim Molinari left to become an assistant at Nebraska. In comes Wright, who was an assistant in Macomb before heading to Ball State last year. He is a solid fit with the Leathernecks due to his familiarity with the region and he should be able to recruit there thanks to his high school experience.
Grade: B

NBA Week in Review: 4/28/14

Welcome one and all to my second Week in Review! Despite the black cloud that is currently being cast by Donald Sterling, I wanted to use this space to cover each First Round series and offer my expectations for the final few games. There may or may not be a piece on the Donald Sterling comments coming later.

Eastern Conference:

Our journey begins in Hotlanta where the Indiana Pacers and Atlanta Hawks are knotted up at 2-2 heading back to Indiana for game 5. The Pacers squeezed out a much needed road win on Sunday and still are the favorites in this series. The shame here is that the Hawks are going to lose because they just don’t have enough. The Pacers are primed to be upset and with a healthy Al Horford, I think that Atlanta might have enough to do it. Unless they go absolutely crazy with the 3 ball, Indiana is just too talented to lose 2 of 3 to a team that finished with a losing record and would’ve missed the playoffs by 10 games in West. Pacers still win but don’t be surprised to see this go the distance.

Charlotte versus Miami has been exactly what we thought it would be. Al Jefferson, even though hurt, has played extremely well but Charlotte just can’t match up with Miami. They can’t play good enough defense to keep the Heat in check and they don’t score enough to outscore Miami. That is a very, very bad combination and it showed in the blowout loss in Charlotte’s first home playoff game in a long time. I am hoping for their fans that the Bobcats pull the game tonight but it won’t matter. This series is over!

Now we get to the two most intriguing series thus far in the East. The Raptors and Nets have lived up to exactly what I thought this series would be: two pretty good yet very flawed teams where someone has to win. Toronto is playing very good defense right now and got a HUGE road win on Sunday to take back home-court. The Nets really miss the scoring of Brook Lopez because there is a conspicuous hole in their front court. The Raptors meanwhile are just plugging along and no one is really talking about them. I really hope they win because Toronto has been starving for the Raptors to be good and the national stage could be a great way to develop some stars for that organization. This one will go down to the wire: I am hoping Raptors in 7 but I am starting to lean Nets in 7.

We wrap up the East with the Wizards and Bulls. I don’t think many hardcore NBA minds are surprised that Washington has almost wrapped this series up. While I love the play of Noah and feel the Bulls cast of players is solid, they just do not have a go-to scorer at the end of the game when you need a bucket. No offense to him but when DJ Augustin, the guy you picked up earlier this year for nothing is your second best player, that’s when you know trouble is a-brewing. Washington is a fun, young, enigmatic team that as a fan, it’s hard not to be drawn toward. You can watch them play beautiful basketball and then like game 3, you can watch Nene headbutt someone and get tossed. Now up 3-1, the onus is on Washington to close this series up as quickly as possible. Young teams have notoriously had a hard time closing out veteran teams and this should be no exception. Wizards should move on and continue to grow this very good, young nucleus.

Western Conference:

I am channeling my inner Will Smith when I refer to this as truly the Wild, Wild West. Every series out West is close, long shots are leading title contenders, there are over time games and buzzer beaters galore. I know Hollywood is running out of movie ideas but they could take a creative direction from the Western Conference playoffs.

Dallas and San Antonio have long been in-state rivals. Going into this series, the Spurs had won 10 in a row over them and I (along with most people) predicted this series would be quick. San Antonio is so deep and isbuilt for the playoffs. The Mavericks on the other hand love giving up leads, choking games away late and squeaked into the playoffs edging out the Suns. So naturally, Dallas would be leading this series 2-1 and if they win out at home, will knock out the best regular season team in the NBA. Vince’s double-pump 3 from the corner to win it yesterday was awesome and reminded me once again why he was one of my favorite players growing up. Dallas is playing how I expected them to but the real kicker is the Spurs. I expected close games until the 4th quarter when San Antonio would defensively kick it into another gear and offensively be very efficient and pull away. That is not happening. The Spurs are playing down to Dallas’ level and are paying the price. To win this series, the Spurs just need to play Spurs basketball which is total team contribution and making plays down the stretch. This series will likely go the distance and the Spurs should come out on top. That being said, Game 4 tonight is a must-win for San Antonio and I reserve the right to change my mind should they lose.

Memphis and Oklahoma City look eerily similar to last year’s Western Conference Semi-finals. Granted, OKC did not have Westbrook but the Grizzlies are proving that it just doesn’t matter. They match up extremely well with Oklahoma City with their grind it out, hard-nosed attitude. They have very capable players, one of the best on-ball defenders in the NBA in Tony Allen and just play solid defense. Does Memphis have a go-to scorer? Not really. The upside of being extremely good defensively and playing true team ball is if you can contain Westbrook and Durant, OKC doesn’t really have a third option scorer either. If we get down to the total team depth of Memphis versus OKC, I think Memphis holds that advantage. The longer this series goes, the more dangerous it becomes for the Thunder. They need to end this as soon as possible and not put themselves against a determined opponent in a 1 game situation. If Durant goes cold, they could get sent home by Memphis again.

Portland and Houston have been everything I thought it would be and more. In my preview, I wrote that this series was going 7 games and Portland would win simply because these two teams are so similar but I felt the Blazers were slightly better. That’s exactly how this series is playing out. We have had 3 OT games and Aldridge has been utterly dominant. While Dwight Howard is a mismatch for the Blazers, he just doesn’t have the balanced offensive repertoire of LaMarcus Aldridge. If Houston plays Terrance Jones, Aldridge can play back to the basket. If they play Asik, Aldridge can shoot mid-range jumpers and drive all night long. It’s too bad this matchup happened in the first round because it’s been so much fun. Since both teams have shown a propensity to win on the road and now that the Rockets will play desperate, this series could still go 7 but I think the better Portland team will win.

The last matchup out West has been the weird LA Clippers vs Golden State Warriors series. Every series the Clippers will play in from now on will be overshadowed by the comments of their owner, Donald Sterling. If you saw the game yesterday, the Clippers just looked completely disengaged but who can blame them? Give credit Golden State for staying focused and taking care of business in game 4 but good luck trying to predict this series. The Clippers have long had the stigma as a snake-bitten franchise that built themselves into a title contender this season. Due to their owner comments, this could all unravel if they lose Game 5 because even though they are the better team, I don’t think they can go back to Oracle Arena and win again.

I hope you have enjoyed our week in review! Enjoy this second week of first round matchups and look for my Conference Semifinal preview when those are all set.

Bryce Harper’s Breakout Season Put On Hold

Many were predicting that 2014 would be Bryce Harper‘s big breakout season. After two seasons of putting up solid numbers, this was supposed to be the year where the 22-year old firmly established himself as one of baseball’s stars. Now fans might have to wait until later this season or maybe even next for the outfielder to really take off.

Harper is of course going to be on the shelf for the foreseeable future after thumb surgery. Initially he was just placed on the 15-day DL with a bad thumb, but now an operation to repair a torn ligament will extended his time away from baseball.

The Washington Nationals are currently four games back in the NL East and without one of their top hitters, that’s where they’re likely to stay.

All is certainly not lost without Harper. He’s just one piece on a talented team and let’s face it — he wasn’t doing that great prior to his injury.

Overall, this is not a crushing blow to the OF or his team. He’ll be back and the Nationals should remain near the playoff picture during his absence. Luckily the baseball season takes forever and there’s plenty of time for everyone in Washington to get back on track before September rolls around.

As for that huge breakout season from Harper that everyone’s been waiting for, there’s always 2015. If he fails to take off again next year, then fans will really begin to wonder if he’s destined for long-term stardom.

NHL Playoffs: What We’ve Learned So Far… Western Conference Edition

Since I’ve already learned about the Eastern Conference, I figured I was contractually obligated to talk about the West. (No East Coast bias, here.) All of these series have been absolute wars. In fact if I were to tell a non-hockey or casual hockey fan to watch one non-Stanley Cup Final series, I’d tell them to watch the Blackhawks-Blues series.

Let’s not waste any more time and get right into it.

WESTERN CONFERENCE

Central Division

Colorado vs. Minnesota

What we’ve learned from Colorado: The Avs are a good, young team. However, they’re missing one of their top players in Matt Duchene. Colorado has shown flashes of the team that won the Central, but have also shown flashes that they’re still a bit green. Patrick Roy has gotten this inexperienced team far, but they need to show why the Avalanche are a better team.

What we’ve learned from Minnesota: The Wild are a resilient bunch. A lot people (including me) thought this would be an easy series for the Avalanche. However, I keep forgetting the Wild have a lot of heart and dominated game four to tie the series. Minnesota may not win the series, but they’ve already achieved more than I thought.

St. Louis vs. Chicago

What we’ve learned from St. Louis: The Blues aren’t who we thought they were… well… at least on defense. Many had St. Louis as a darkhorse to win the Stanley Cup. (EA Sports did in their Stanley Cup simulation at the beginning of the year.) The Blues D hasn’t been as good as advertised, and that has them on the brink of elimination. That Jonathan Toews OT winner was a product of a sloppy line change.

What we’ve learned from Chicago: They’re just like Freddy or Jason and that they won’t die. The Blues had a 2-0 series lead and were close to taking a 3-1 in game four. However, the Hawks got the break they needed to win in overtime of game five. The Blackhawks will be a tough out this postseason after cleaning up the rough play in the first two games.

Pacific Division

Anaheim vs. Dallas

What we’ve learned from Anaheim: Usually when a team loses a top blueliner in Stephane Robidas, that team struggles. However, the Ducks have plenty of depth to deal with it. They’ve got an embarrassment of riches at defensemen and in goal as Frederick Andersen has supplanted long-time goalie Jonas Hiller. The old adage about the “next man in” rings true for Anaheim.

What we’ve learned from Dallas: They’ve got a good base, but need more depth if they want to become a threat in the Central Division. Jamie Been and Tyler Seguin have carried this team, but the duo can’t do it alone. I like where the team is headed, but they need to make some acquisitions if they want to keep going.

San Jose vs. Los Angeles

What we’ve learned from San Jose: The Sharks speed has them looking to shake the underachiever label. San Jose has had the reputation for not being able to close when it matters most. However, their team speed has Los Angeles on their heels. They’re fast and get to the puck. Los Angeles made adjustments in game four, but had to work for it. Anti Niemi needs to stay strong in net.

What we’ve learned from Los Angeles: The Kings aren’t dead until they’re buried. Los Angeles had their backs against the wall in game four, but routed San Jose. The Kings finally got some scoring from Dustin Brown and got some solid goaltending from the struggling Jonathan Quick. However, there’s no room for error for them. The defense needs to give Quick some help pouncing on the rebounds and they need to negate the speed of the Sharks.

That’s it for today. I’ll have more stuff from the NHL playoffs later on. Take care.

What should the NBA do about Donald Sterling?

Donald Sterling has cemented his place as one of the biggest scumbags in sports history. He already didn’t have the greatest of reputations before the leaking of his horribly racist comments — and now his reputation will be in the trash where it belongs.

Unfortunately he’s drug Magic Johnson into this whole ordeal as well. Not only did he just generally blast African Americans, he named names. He named names in a city that loves Magic Johnson.”It bothers me a lot that you (his girlfriend) want to broadcast that you’re associating with black people. Do you have to?” “Don’t put him (Magic) on an Instagram for the world to have to see so they have to call me. And don’t bring him to my games,” Sterling said in an audio recording obtained by TMZ.

Who does Sterling think he is? What world does he live in?

This guy should be checked over for mental problems. Comments like those just lead you to believe that there’s something seriously wrong with him. If he really is racist, delusional and ‘sane’ at the same time — that’s scary.

You have to feel bad for the Los Angeles Clippers. The team has to be associated with this guy during the midst of its playoff run. The players will say it’s not a distraction, but we all know it is. It’s hard to imagine African American players just being able to shrug off nasty comments like that.
To be an employee of a filthy individual like Sterling can’t feel great.

We’ll now wait for the scumbag owner’s PR guy to issue a statement. His comments were probably ‘taken out of context’ and he’ll claim that he was set up.

No one will buy it.

Michigan Big Man Mitch McGary Enters NBA Draft, Not Ready for the Leap

Mitch McGary has not had a good year. First, he missed most of the 2013-14 college basketball season thanks to a bad back. Now, he has to enter the draft because he tested positive for marijuana. According to USA Today Sports, he will enter the 2014 NBA Draft. He is not ready for the leap, though.

The Michigan Wolverines could have really used McGary on the team in the upcoming season. McGary could have used another season in a Michigan uniform. McGary is without a doubt one of the best players in the draft, but his stock has gone way down and his character is probably in question now.
Another good season for the Wolverines could have gotten McGary back into the lottery and probably into the top 10.

Talent wise, I think McGary is ready for the NBA right now. He has all of the talent in the world. He did average 14.3 points per game and 10.7 rebounds per game in the 2013 NCAA tournament. However, his stock is not ready for the NBA and who knows if his back will give him problems once he hits the court again. Playing another season at the college level would have solved both of those problems.

I understand why McGary would want to bolt for the draft. Who wants to sit out a year.

Whether the case, I wish the 6-foot-10, 255 pound forward the best of luck. He truly is a great player and has the talent to succeed at the next level. Another year in college hoops would have been perfect for him, though.