Monday Morning Coffee


December 2nd, 2013

The last time it happened, I was in high school.  No, I’m not talking about the last time I went to Prom.  I’m talking about the last time the Bruins beat the Trojans in the Coliseum.  Well, up until Saturday night, when UCLA took down their cross town rivals, the USC Trojans, 35-14, for their first win at the Coliseum since 1997.  The win was also the Bruins second straight over the Trojans.  Brett Hundley simply could not be contained.  He passed for 208 yards, while rushing for 80 more, to go along with 2 touchdowns.  Imagine if the Bruins offense was in this kind of rhythm against Stanford or ASU?  They would probably still have a chance to make it to the Rose Bowl.  It always feels good for the Bruins and their fans to beat the Trojans.  But the performance Bruin fans saw on Saturday night is a little bittersweet, knowing they a good football team, but not elite.  If Brett Hundley returns next season, UCLA will have a chance to once again, prove they can hang with the big boys.  Next time, their fans won’t settle for being close to great.

As for USC, the fact this team ended up 9-4 was simply miraculous.  Any Trojan fan who thought they would be better than that this year has had one too many drinks at The Nine-O.  Pat Haden was smart enough to promote Ed Orgeron as interim coach, who inspired confidence in his quarterback, and energized his players.  However, he’s also smart enough to know that Orgeron is not the long term answer.  The notion that Orgeron was going to get the job based on beating UCLA was as ridiculous as that Trojan Horse galloping around the Coliseum.  He did a respectable job, but if he’s hired, it’s simply because the Trojans couldn’t get who they wanted, or they are looking for another coach to keep things competitive until all of the sanctions are over in 2015.

The rest of the weekend in college football was very exciting.  What was Brady Hoke thinking going for the 2 point conversion to try and beat Ohio State instead of forcing overtime?  Hoke said it was his players that wanted to go for it.  If that’s the case, then what are they paying him $3 million a year for?  The Auburn and Alabama finish was one of the most exciting I’ve ever seen in a college football game.  Then there was another pathetic performance by Notre Dame’s Tommy Rees against Stanford.  The Irish had a chance for the upset, but Rees had more turnovers than Betty Crocker, and the Irish had to settle for a mediocre 8-4 season.  The only thing more pathetic was the showing by Stanford students, or lack thereof for a team that was top 10 in the country.  Take a look at the lower corner of the stadium.  Thanks to my fellow Domers for sharing.

Stanford Section Empty

Is anybody excited about the UCLA Basketball team’s 7-0 start?  Well considering not many people seem to be showing up at Pauley Pavilion, I guess not.  The Bruins have defeated Drexel, Oakland, Sacramento State, and a bunch of other crummy teams that aren’t ranked.  On the other hand, UCLA is playing an exciting uptempo offense, and nearly scored 100 points in three straight games, which hasn’t happened since 1971.  Only time will tell, but UCLA faces only one ranked opponent before conference play begins in January.  My gut tells me this is who Steve Alford is.  A dominant coach in the regular season, who will be badly exposed come tournament time.

On to the NBA.  Imagine what is going through the mind of Lakers owner Jim Buss right now.  He’s probably thinking he’s actually got a pretty good basketball team, and that we are all idiots, since his team is hovering around .500 through the first month of the season without Kobe Bryant.  Jimmy just doesn’t get it.  He took a team of hall of famers last year, and alienated them by hiring a coach that works better with less talented players.  He then brought in less talented players to make it work with Mike D’Antoni, and it appears to be working thus far.  Chemistry is important, but talent wins out when things matter in the playoffs.  It’s as though Jim Buss is determined to be mediocre no matter how hard everyone around him tries to convince him otherwise.  This team is destined for first round purgatory, until Buss figures this out.

As for the Kobe Bryant contract extension, it’s just downright moronic.  Kobe is easily my favorite NBA player of all-time, but why would you guarantee him $48 million for two more years without even seeing him play after tearing his achilles tendon?  I realize that Kobe is worth far more to the Lakers than the $48 million he will be earning over the next two years, but that’s besides the point. The Lakers could have manipulated this ridiculous system the owners put in place, and built a powerhouse team overnight.  Instead, they’ll be hard pressed just to add one more max contract player this summer.

As the Lakers chase mediocrity, the Clippers are battling the injury bug.  JJ Redick is out for the next 6-8 weeks with a broken hand, and Chris Paul is already dealing with a sore hamstring.  This doesn’t seem like a big deal given that the Clippers came into Sunday 4th in the West, with a 12-5 record.  However, the Clipper bench has taken quite a step back this season.  The Clipps are just 14th in the league in bench scoring, compared to 3rd last season.  Much of this is the result of trading Eric Bledsoe to the Suns for a pair of starters.  The irony of it is, it’s the Lakers who have the highest scoring bench in the league this season.

There are some incredibly disappointing teams in the NBA thus far.  The real question is what the hell is going on in New York and Brooklyn?  The Nets are just 5-12, Kevin Garnett looks like he left his game in Boston, and Jason Kidd looks way over his head, and resorting to tactics like spilling soda to win games.  The Knicks are just 3-12, Mike Woodson is about to get canned, Carmelo is talking like he’s ready to leave, and Amare seems like he can barely walk.  Then there’s Cleveland, who has somehow gotten worse defensively under Mike Brown, has no offense, and everyone in the locker room seems to hate each other.

Let’s go to the ice, where the LA Kings loss to the Flames on Saturday was embarrassing on so many levels.  For the first time this season, the Kings lost to one of the worst teams in the league, and both times it happened in the last 30 seconds of regulation.  Goaltender Ben Scrivens looked like he had put on skates for the first time, when he slipped in the corner handling the puck, which led to the Flames first goal.  Then the Kings were beaten in the last few moments by former King, Mike Cammalleri.  I get it, LA isn’t going to win every game, but it sure would be nice if they beat the teams that aren’t even trying to win anymore.

Meanwhile, the Ducks may have lost their grip on first place in the Pacific, but they certainly aren’t having any problems scoring goals.  Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, and Dustin Penner, have all scored nearly as many goals as they did all of last season.  Strangely enough, they can’t seem to score on the powerplay though.  Tuesday should be interesting, when the Kings and Ducks lock up at the Honda Center for the first time this season, and two opposing styles of play will be on display as well.

After 13 weeks of NFL Football, here’s what I’ve learned:  The AFC belongs to Peyton and the Broncos unless Tom Brady and the Pats can knock them off.  The Chiefs had a nice run, but they are coming back to earth.  Nobody disappoints like the Chargers, and nobody shows up for their games either.  Just when you think the Redskins franchise is about to turn around, the next season they miss the playoffs for the 17th time in 21 years, and are 0-5 in prime time.  That means it’s probably unemployment time for Mike Shanahan.

Although I never read the books, I’ve saw the sequel to Hunger Games this past weekend, “Catching Fire”.  I thought the first movie was fantastic, and Jennifer Lawrence delivered a tremendous performance.  However, in the sequel, I found myself leaving the theatre completely unsatisfied.  This movie felt like it was building up to something big, but didn’t really build up to much, and simply left the viewer on a giant cliff hanger, with a few twists and turns along the way.  Now I have to wait a whole year for the next one? Damn you Hollywood!

I was very sad to hear the news about Paul Walker’s death this weekend.  Walker was only 40, and he lost his life in a car crash, right after doing a good deed, helping at a charity event.  I’m sure Walker’s acting career will most be remembered by his “Fast and The Furious” films.  However, my two personal favorites were “Varsity Blues”, and “Joy Ride”.  Thanks for entertaining us Paul.  RIP.

Finally, the fall finale of The Walking Dead took place last night, and I was absolutely exhausted when it was over.  A big spoiler alert for those of you who haven’t seen this episode, because there were some shocking deaths that took place in the fall finale called “Too Far Gone”.  To quickly recap, The Governor convinces his new crew to attack the prison, and tries to convince the group that they won’t use violence, just intimidation.  When the Governor and his crew show up at the prison, he calls for Rick to come out and speak to him.  The Governor demands that Rick and his people leave the prison, or else he will attack.  He also threatens to kill Michonne and Hershel, who were taken prisoner, if Rick doesn’t leave.  Rick tries to convince him that they can share the prison, but of course, The Governor refuses.  When Rick proclaims that they will not leave, all hell breaks loose.

The Governor immediately kills Hershel with a katana blade, and a shoot out takes place with Rick’s people and the Governor’s crew.  The Governor and Rick end up beating the crap out of each other, then Michonne stabs The Governor before he strangles Rick.  Half the group at the prison escapes on a bus, which included Glenn, and the other half are scattered into small groups to escape the chaos, which included Maggie, Rick, Carl, Daryl, and Beth, among others.  Despite outnumbering the group at the prison and having tanks, it appears as though the Governor’s group was soundly defeated, while the prison was overrun by Walkers.

This episode left the audience emotionally devastated, while trying to figure out what actually happened when it was over.  Let’s start with Hershel, who in many ways was the heart of The Walking Dead.  Over the last few seasons, Hershel saved Karl, and more recently, Glenn and Sasha during the plague.  He came close to death at a few other points in the show, but of course the creators of the show had to dramatize his death with a “Kill Bill Style” decapitation.  It almost seems like the more important the character is, the more dramatic the death.  Then there was the Governor’s death, which took me by surprise.  I suppose it now makes sense that they focused on him for the last 2 full episodes before killing him off.  It also took a tag team effort of Michonne, Rick, and Lily to kill him.  He simply went crazy with his power, and wanted to do whatever he could to regain it after losing Woodbury.  Obviously Rick didn’t watch “Kill Bill Volume 2”, otherwise he would have known he needed to samurai The Governor’s ass to kill him.

I’m really going to miss this show until it returns in February.  This episode felt a lot like the chaos that occurred at the end of season 2, with characters scattered everywhere.  Where is Beth?  Where is Judith?  What happened to Daryl?  So many questions that won’t be answered for two months.  The real question is who the new villain of the show will be.  It’s obvious now that the real danger in the show show is the human beings, rather than the zombies.  Shane was a villain who snuck up on all of us, while The Governor was unbelievably evil.  Who will be next?  Can’t wait to see what’s in store for the 2nd half of the season, but I’m sure these two months will give me time to catch my breath after what I saw last night.

Karl and Daryl




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