Monday Morning Coffee

March 27, 2017

I don’t know what’s more disappointing for UCLA fans.  The fact that they lost in the Sweet 16 for the 3rd time in the last 4 years, or the fact that Steve Alford is still going to be coaching this team moving forward.  UCLA is getting exactly what I thought they would get with Alford.  A coach who is a tremendous recruiter, but one who is unable to harness that talent into tournament success.  As great as the Bruins’ offense was, their defense is what led to their downfall, and that’s always what leads to the fall of Alford’s teams come tournament time.  Lonzo Ball had a great season, but on Friday he got outplayed by De’Aaron Fox and Malik Monk.  The Bruins were entertaining this season and slightly more relevant than in previous years, but the reality of it is that UCLA basketball still isn’t where it should be.

Say what you will about Lavar Ball and his craziness, but the man is actually a genius.  He is building a brand for his kids.  He is also wildly entertaining when you put a microphone in front of him.  Sports are about entertainment value, and it seems like for years to come his kids are going to be providing that entertainment on the floor, while he provides the entertainment for us off the floor.  As for his proclamation that his kids are worth $1 billion, if Lonzo ends up on the Lakers, don’t be surprised if one of the most successful business men in the world helps makes that happen, Magic Johnson.

What a great game between Kentucky and North Carolina yesterday.  There were so many lead changes that Drake kept switching between his UNC and UK jersey all game long.  UNC is the easy pick to win the Final Four.  Meanwhile, Kansas has clinched their annual spot on their couch for the Final Four after losing to Oregon.  I’d say South Carolina busted your bracket, but the reality of it is your bracket was probably busted long ago.  Gonzaga really lucked out that Arizona was upset by Xavier.  They also lucked out that West Virginia somehow couldn’t even get a shot up in the last twenty seconds of the game.  That kid is still probably dribbling the ball as we speak.

I loved seeing the Lakers unveil Shaq’s statue on Friday, outside of Staples Center.  However, what really almost made me cry was listening to Kobe talk about Shaq both during the ceremony, and to the media leading up to it.  “When you win three titles together and you’ve had so much impact on one another’s legacy as a player and as a champion,” Kobe said by phone last week, “there is absolutely no way in the world I would miss an opportunity to talk about him and thank him and to acknowledge everything that he’s done for not only this organization and the city, but for me personally.”  Kobe and Shaq grew up before our very eyes.  We can only hope we are fortunate enough to witness another Laker duo as fun as it was watching them play.

It looked like the Clippers were getting their act together when they defeated Utah on Saturday.  Then they blew an 18 point lead against Sacramento yesterday, and lost at home.  The real reminder is that the bench isn’t really as reliable as we thought it was.  The bench was outscored 46-28 yesterday, mostly while CP3, Blake, and DeAndre were resting.  Of even greater concern are comments from JJ Redick and Blake Griffin mentioning things like “lack of spirit”, uncertainty around game plans, and overall lack of chemistry.  Given the amount of time this team has been together, that shouldn’t be the case.  If anything, the Clips biggest problems seem more psychological.

It’s amazing how the media milked the story last week about NBA teams resting stars. This is really only a significant story for a handful of players like Lebron, Westbrook, Harden, Durant, and Curry.  Those are the only players people really care about seeing, and people will spend their hard earned more for the chance to watch those players play.  With that being the case, the league should do a better job scheduling nationally televised games, and avoiding back-to-back games for teams on those nights.  That would increase the likelihood of star players playing.  At the same time though, NHL players have an even more grueling game to play, and they don’t complain that they need rest.  NBA players need to stop being so soft, and understand their responsibility to the fans who actually make the league what it is.

Congratulations to the United States for winning the World Baseball Classic by defeating Puerto Rico.  Puerto Ricans haven’t been this upset since Menudo broke up.  Somehow Ian Kinsler managed to become public enemy #1.  I didn’t actually watch more than 5 seconds of the tournament.  That’s because winning the WBC is like being the smartest person at a monster truck rally.  It’s cool, but it really means nothing.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman says it’s doubtful NHL players will participate in the 2018 Winter Olympics.  Good one Gary.  You and I both know you can’t afford to not send players to the Olympics.  It’s too much free marketing and exposure for the NHL and its player’s, who love representing their countries by the way.  It’s going to happen.

Finally, another episode of The Walking Dead went down on AMC last night.  Spoiler alert for those of you who have yet to see it, so read no further if you plan to watch it later.  Second to last episode of the season goes down, and amazingly, nobody of significance died.  I have a feeling that’s going to change next week.  If you didn’t like the episode, you don’t like character development.  I do wish however, that we would get to see the backstory on Negan.  I’m sure we were all shocked that Gregory couldn’t fight off a walker.  Carl has pretty good aim to be able to shoot while holding a gun up to his patched eye…..


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