March 30th, 2015
It was only a matter of time. The UCLA Bruins finally ran into a quality opponent in the NCAA Tournament, and were exposed. This time it was Gonzaga in the Sweet 16, a round of the tournament that Steve Alford has never been able get through. That was an ugly basketball game, but the difference was the Bruins were just overmatched in the paint. Gonzaga had more depth, and better coaching. The Bruin players showed character, but had their game plan been better, they might have actually beaten the Zags. Many will say the Bruins have a bright future, with a lot more depth coming back next season. However, I say otherwise. In year 3 of Steve Alford, when he finally has all his own recruits in place, everyone should see who this guy really is. An average coach that will only take a great program so far. The UCLA basketball program deserves better.
The Notre Dame vs Kentucky game was a tragedy. The Irish should have won that game. Mike Brey is a great coach, who executed a brilliant game plan up until the last few minutes. The Irish were killing Kentucky on the pick and roll. Instead of sticking with that, on the last three possessions they let Jerian Grant play hero ball. Even more puzzling was the fact they refused to double team Kentucky big man Karl Anthony-Towns, who was the only guy scoring for the Wildcats. Every time he touched the ball, it was like watching a grown man score over a 1st grader. The one time they did double team him, Kentucky actually turned it over. I’m sure John Calipari threatened to take away the cars and phones he got his players if they didn’t come back and win. Apparently it worked. Kentucky is everything wrong with college basketball and Notre Dame is everything right with it. Too bad the good guys didn’t come away with the win.
Meanwhile, Wisconsin has caused more suffering for the University of Arizona in the last two years than STD’s. What was Sean Miller thinking in the last minute? He’s down by 5 with no timeouts left, and he decided not to foul. The Badgers have the size to bother Kentucky, but I still think Kentucky is going to win the next two games easily. Funny how six weeks ago, everybody thought Michigan State was horrible. Now they are in the Final Four.
On to the NBA, where the Lakers have some disturbingly winnable games left on their schedule over the next 10 games. These include games with Philadelphia, Minnesota, and a couple with Sacramento. This means the Lakers could come dangerously close to not having one of the five worst records in the NBA, and potentially losing their 1st round draft pick. The Lakers are actually getting so uncomfortable about losing the pick that they’ve started benching some of their veterans like Carlos Boozer and Jordan Hill. That probably should have happened ages ago. ESPN also came out with an article on Jeremy Lin a few days ago, explaining how he simply does not fit in with the Lakers, with or without Kobe Bryant. The article also pointed out that Jeremy’s friends believe that he’s a better player without Kobe. I’m sure there’s no bias there at all. When you consider that Jeremy has played in twice as many games as Kobe this year, it makes his performance that much more disappointing, and highly unlikely he will be a Laker next year. I assume none of Jeremy’s friends that believe he’s better without Kobe were smart enough to go to Harvard.
As for the Clippers, they’ve hit another soft spot in their schedule, allowing them to win 6 in a row. At the moment, they look like their headed for a 1st round matchup with the Blazers. That could be winnable, but I don’t suspect the Clipps last too much longer in the post-season. That leads to the question of not whether or not they should re-sign DeAndre Jordan, but whether or not they need to make a major trade to try and become a real championship contender. Which makes me wonder if the Clippers and Thunder might entertain a Blake Griffin for Kevin Durant trade this summer. DeAndre Jordan played remarkably well without Blake in the lineup, and the Clippers badly need a small forward. The Thunder are going to start asking Kevin Durant if he intends to stick around after next season. No matter what Sam Presti says, he would absolutely trade Durant if he thinks he’s going to leave. That guy would trade his own mother if he got value out of it. Getting Blake Griffin in return sounds like a pretty good haul. It’s a situation complicated by Durant’s foot injury, but one to keep an eye on if both teams make an early playoff exit.
To baseball, where we are just a week away from the start of the season. The Dodgers just made another head-scratching move. They spent $62.5 million on Cuban infielder Hector Olivera, who has had issues with his UCL. To come to think of it, this makes perfect sense. The Dodgers signed two pitchers this off-season, whose arms are about to fall off, and who haven’t even thrown 100 innings in recent memory. Now they’ve added a 2nd baseman whose arm might also fall off soon. At this point, I’m not expecting LA to try to re-sign Howie Kendrick, Juan Uribe, or Jimmy Rollins after the season. Instead, they’ll have a largely unproven infield, and one that seems pretty expensive for that inexperience. I wonder how much the Dodgers would have spent on Olivera if they actually had a deal to distribute SportsNet LA .
The Angels might have some decisions to make once the Josh Hamilton situation gets resolved. If and when Hamilton is re-instated, the Halos will have to decide what kind of role he will have. I realize they have both Matt Joyce and Collin Cowgill as an insurance policy, but the reality of it is that Hamilton is still under contract for 3 more years, at a hefty $25 million or so annually. He’s not going anywhere, and it would be foolish to not at least give the guy a chance to show he can still be a valuable contributor. If Hamilton could become even 70% of the player he used to be, that could put the Angels over the top and into serious championship contention. The fans probably wouldn’t hate Josh Hamilton as much either.
I’m not sure if the LA Kings are going to make the playoffs, but you can count on sweating it out until the last game of the season to find out. The King loss to Minnesota on Saturday wasn’t disastrous, but it was a golden opportunity missed to put a strangle hold on a playoff spot. If LA misses the playoffs, most will say it’s because of Stanley Cup fatigue. If they make the playoffs, I might miss them due to the fatigue they made me endure!
What a wild season finale of The Walking Dead last night on AMC. Can’t every episode be 90 minutes? Spoiler alert if you have yet to see it. Here’s a quick recap. The episode opens with Morgan getting cornered in the woods by two members of “The Wolves” who seem to be shows next villains. These guys have a “W” symbol on their forehead, but before they could take Morgan’s things and kill him, he takes them out like he’s Donatello from the Ninja Turtles. Aaron and Darryl stumble upon a food truck, which is too good to be true. They open up the truck, and are ambushed by a bunch of walkers. Moments from going out in a blaze of glory, Morgan shows up and saves them. Soon after, Darryl realizes the connection between Morgan and Rick when he sees the note he wrote Rick on a map. He then invites Morgan to Alexandria. Nicholas takes a walk outside the wall, and Glenn follows him, but ends up getting shot in the shoulder by Nicholas. In the end, it didn’t workout so well for Nicholas, as Glenn threatens to kill him, but spares his life. Meanwhile, Father Gabriel leaves the gate open and lets walkers in, and then manipulates Sasha into trying to kill him. However, Maggie intervenes before that happens. Finally, Pete tries to confront Rick with a sword, and while Deanna’s husband tries to calm him down, he slits his throat and kills him. Deanna then orders Rick to kill Pete, which he does by shooting him. In the final moments, Darryl, Morgan, and Aaron appear, and they look shocked to see what Rick had done.
This was an explosive season finale. For the entire episode, we knew somebody was going to die, and I thought it was going to be Glenn. Then we’re reminded that Glenn was tough as nails, and that it wasn’t his time to go. This episode raised a number of questions, which are going to make things very interesting in the fall. Why was Morgan so determined to find Rick? What’s the deal with the Wolves? I’m assuming they will be the show’s new major villain. Why was Nicholas out in the woods in the first place? I’m thinking he might actually be part of the Wolves, or connected to one of the exiled members of Alexandria. It can’t be the last we’ve seen of this dude. Morgan had to have been shocked at what he just witnessed. He was looking for the man Rick used to be. Not the man Rick is now. I’m sure we’ll be seeing a lot more of him in the next season. Gotta love how Rick didn’t even think twice about killing Pete when he was asked to. It just goes to show you how much he’s changed since the show started. Father Gabriel is such a punk, and needs to go. Unfortunately, I think he’s sticking around for a while. I already can’t wait until the next season starts, but looks like we’ll need “Fear The Walking Dead” this summer to hold us over until the show returns for season 6.