March 16th, 2015
I nearly fell out of my chair. I was shocked. The Bruins somehow got into the NCAA Tournament with an at-large bid yesterday. Just about everybody thought they were one of the first four out. It wasn’t even that close. They were in, and not even among the last four teams in. They didn’t deserve it either. The selection committee had to have valued the brand name of UCLA over all the other mid-majors. John Wooden is still working his magic. UCLA was just 2-8 against the top 50, and 1-7 against the top 25. They played one of their best games of the season against Arizona on Friday, but lost. That game truly symbolized just how badly the Bruins are coached. UCLA has two solid big men in Thomas Welsh and Gyorgy Goloman, but Steve Alford never utilizes them. Freshman forward Kevin Looney is one of the best freshman in the country, yet Alford barely got him involved in the most critical game of the season. In fact, Bryce Alford and Norman Powell have taken a combined 500 more shots than him all season! There were 36 at-large bids given out. There aren’t 36 teams in the country with more talent than the Bruins. That’s definitely something the selection committee believed. However, in the long run, UCLA was probably better off missing the tourney and putting Steve Alford on the hot seat.
Before I get into the rest of the bracket, I have to mention USC. For the last two seasons, the Trojan basketball team has finished dead last in the Pac-12 standings. When Andy Enfield was brought in to coach this team, many thought he was going to bring showtime basketball back to LA. Instead, he’s only driven this team into complete irrelevance in the Los Angeles sports landscape. While I realize that USC is a football school, Trojan fans should find this to be completely unacceptable. UCLA is considered a basketball school, but they expect a certain amount of competitiveness from their football team. The Trojan alumni should demand no less from their basketball team. This program also has phenomenal athletic facilities that are relatively new, so they should be far more competitive recruiting in a basketball hot bed like Southern California. I guess Trojan fans can only focus on one mediocre aspect of their athletic program at a time.
As for the rest of the NCAA Tournament bracket, I don’t really know why we are wasting our time playing this thing. We all know that Kentucky is going to win it all, and sleep walk while doing it. So that’s how the selection committee rewards Notre Dame for winning the ACC tournament: a #3 seed in the same region as Kentucky. Notre Dame is so well coached, but when it comes to the tourney, there is less time to prepare, so that goes out the window. Can’t say I’d be shocked if they were upset during the first weekend. The committee got 3 #1 seeds right, however, Arizona won their conference and Duke didn’t. Arizona should be a #1. I’m looking forward to their showdown with Wisconsin in the Elite 8. I’m still not sure how you can look at UCLA’s resume next to Colorado State’s, Miami’s, or Temple’s, and pick UCLA. The committee loves good story lines though, and the Bruins, Indiana, and Texas all help contribute to that. I won’t be surprised if any of them make it past the first weekend too. SDSU got a tough draw in St. John’s and having to go through Duke. And congratulations to the UC Irvine Anteaters! They are going dancing for the first time, and will take on Louisville.
Wow, I really didn’t realize how much I missed Bill Walton after all this time. He was basically exiled to the Pac-12 Network to cover college basketball, so many of us don’t hear much from him. I wonder if he even listens to the things that come out of his mouth? On Friday’s UCLA vs Arizona telecast, he kept babbling on about the importance of the game for UCLA as an inspiration for little kids who aspire to go to UCLA. What the hell is he talking about? I don’t think a 10 year old that is watching Bryce Alford chuck up bricks is going to have much inspiration watching Bruin basketball. They need to put Walton on the Golf Channel, or even on the Masters telecast to liven up the game. That sport is definitely going to need some absurd commentary to keep interest alive.
I was very saddened to hear about the death of Los Angeles talk show host Joe McDonnell on Friday. McDonnell was one of my favorite talk show hosts to listen to growing up, and you always felt like he was a very reliable source. He was so plugged in with the Lakers, Dodgers, Angels, and other LA sports team. He was controversial, but so well respected in the media, and within the local organizations. Even Mitch Kupchak and Mike Scioscia were saddened by his passing, and spoke about him over the weekend. I found him to be very inspirational growing up, and his passion for the SoCal sports scene could always be felt in his work. That is a big part of the reason why Jock Talk LA exists today. RIP Big Joe.
The NFL offseason has been more wild than spring break in Cabo. With LeSean McCoy, Sammy Watkins, and Percy Harvin, the Bills now believe they have the speed to chase down all those people that pick off Matt Cassel. The Jets theory is that if they can acquire enough cornerbacks, there won’t be any left to intercept Geno Smith’s passes. The Raiders signed Christian Ponder, who is expected to take over Matt Schaub’s clipboard holding duties. I’m keeping a very close eye out on the Adrian Peterson situation. Peterson really wants a trade. One of the teams he wants a trade to is the Chargers. There have been rumors out of there of an Eric Weddle for Adrian Peterson swap. Can you imagine if the Bolts can get some star power like that on their team, at a position of need like running back? More importantly, it would be perfect to acquire a star player if they are really moving to LA. Los Angeles is a star studded town, and AP can fit perfectly into that. Here’s hoping that trade comes to fruition.
We are getting closer and closer to the start of the MLB season, and Time Warner still hasn’t made a deal with regional cable networks to televise the Dodgers SportsNet LA channel. Rumor has it that TWC is coming back to the bargaining table with several regional cable providers to try and get a deal done before the start of the season. However, I don’t see why TWC doesn’t create an HBO like model, where they just sell directly to the consumer over the internet. Who wouldn’t pay between $20-$30 per month to watch the Dodger games over the internet? I’m sure this would put a lot of money back into TWC’s pockets for the losses they suffered on the channel last year, and would also give them a great deal of leverage in talks with other cable networks moving forward. Consumer demands are changing, and TWC has a chance to get ahead of the curve and take advantage of it, while also giving the fans the chance to watch the Dodgers again.
I had the privilege of attending the Lakers open house last week for season ticket holders, and I got to listen to Mitch Kupchak and Byron Scott field questions from a group of disgruntled fans. I must say that i’m impressed they took the questions without any of them being pre-screened. More than anything, the impression I came away with from listening to Mitch is that they aren’t going to rush into any moves that will be short-term gains, and jeopardize the long-term growth of the team. That means players like Julius Randle and Jordan Clarkson will probably be Lakers for a while, and they’ll try to add free agent veterans around them. This is a very different approach from what Phil Jackson says he is planning to do with the Knicks. Phil said that he is focused mostly on free agents, and last week indicated that he didn’t like the idea of waiting around 3 years for a draft pick to develop. I like Phil, and wanted him back with the Lakers at one point, but something tells me his front office track record is going to be nothing like his coaching record.
I’m not going to make too big of a deal about what we saw from the Clippers yesterday against Houston. Blake Griffin had his first game back and was completely out of rhythm, which was to be expected. However, the Clippers complain on literally every single call against them, and I think it’s starting to make the NBA referees despise them. After one call yesterday, Blake looked more stunned than Sly Stallone did after dropping his buddy’s girlfriend at the beginning of Cliffhanger. This is just one of many issues the Clipps are going to have to sort out over the next month before the playoffs start.
And finally, another episode of The Walking Dead went down last night on AMC. Spoiler alert for those of you who have yet to see it. Here’s a quick recap: We had a death so stop reading if you intend to watch it later! Noah died, and it was a gruesome death at the hands of Walkers, but the people of Alexandria got him killed on their quest to restore power in the community. Tara is badly injured on the quest, and Aiden is killed by Walkers, but not before revealing the people of Alexandria are all about themselves. Meanwhile, Carol, a former victim of abuse, recognizes that Jessie’s son, Sam, is a victim of abuse. Sam asks her for a gun and she refuses. Carol tries to go over to Jessie’s house, but Pete tells her it’s not a good time, and closes the door in her face. She later tells Rick what’s going on, and that he is going to have to kill Pete. Interestingly enough, Rick and Pete had an awkward encounter of their own, with Pete claiming that “we’ve lost things. Other things we’re fighting like hell to hold on to.” Father Gabriel also ratted out Rick’s entire group to Deanna, claiming that she made a mistake letting them in, and eventually they will choose their own lives over everyone else’s. Maggie overhears this in the other room and is disappointed.
The writers of The Walking Dead might as well be the Ferguson Police Department with the way they treat black characters. Another one ended up dead, this time it was Noah. It felt like we became so desensitized to the deaths by Walkers in the show, however, this episode had some really gruesome deaths that were tough to watch. Noah wasn’t around long, but in the short time he was on the show, I grew very fond of him. As for Father Gabriel, leave it to the hypocritical religious guy to throw the entire group under the bus. How many deaths was Father Gabriel responsible for when he left all those people in the church to die? And now he has the audacity to blame Rick and his group for killing all those truly evil people, when the group saved him countless times? Unbelievable. More than anything, we learned that the people of Alexandria are a bunch of cowards, and only look out for themselves. Heck, Father Gabriel fits right in with this group because of that. On the other hand, Eugene finally showed some courage by helping Tara after her head injury. It’s inevitable there’s going to be another couple of deaths before the season ends, and one of them will likely be Pete. This Alexandria thing is starting to make sense now. The people are just weak.