Wishing, Wanting, and Hopefully Having

            With one of Indiana’s teams down 1-0 in a NBA playoff series, another team with its owner in rehab, and its own college failing to make any post-season run, there is a lot out there for sports fans to desire. Since this may be my last post in a while, I would like to share my thoughts on what would lead Indiana back to the top of sport prominence.

As many readers out there know, the Indiana Pacers, number one seed in the Eastern Conference, dropped their first playoff game to the eight seed Atlanta Hawks. Do not take this article as giving up on a team with talent from top to bottom, but there are problems that have to be addressed. Unless feelings between teammates are significantly changed, moves need to be made and new faces need to be brought in.

The move that needs to be made is allowing Evan Turner to make his way out and secure the future of Lance Stephenson. Despite the fact that Turner has had some worth playing big minutes in Indiana, the on-court chemistry between him and other bench-contributors has not been there; which I believe to be a large part of the team’s struggles. Lance-Stephenson-280x300

The same cannot be said for Stephenson who thrives with second-team players, and has his most value distributing and driving the ball against lesser opponents. However, due to his significant drop-off in production, I would like Lance to realize that Indiana is the place where he will win his championships and take less than a max contract (which will most likely be offered from another, worse franchise).

Since I have already voiced my thoughts about Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay in a previous article, I think it would be better to leave it brief and only discuss players that step foot on the gridiron. The section of the team that I would like to analyze is not always viewed as the most important, but everyone knows that it can change the momentum of the game: Special Teams.

Proven by numerous speedsters- like DeSean Jackson or Devin Hester- successful punt and kick returning gives something for a team to rally around and triumph, and the Colts have lacked this kind of playmaker for as long as this writer has been watching. With free agency in the rearview mirror and most worthwhile players gone, finding a PR/KR specialist could be a steal, and that is exactly what Joshua Cribbs is.

Joshua Cribbs, Bryant McFaddenDespite his lack of production on offense, Cribbs has proven his worth on special teams over and over again. Cribbs has the lateral quickness to make tacklers miss and the speed to distance himself from the rest of his pursuers. Bolstering double-digit touchdowns on special teams, if Joshua Cribbs still has anything left in the tank and the smarts to keep his head down, he could make big contributions to a team that usually plays in the post-season.

The last team I want to talk about is the Indiana University Men’s Basketball team, because I think that it is time for Tom Crean to make his exit from Bloomington. As a Hoosier fan, I respect Crean for bringing the team out of the depths that they found themselves in after the Kelvin Sampson scandal, but he has served his purpose to the university. With his best player, Noah Vonleh, entering the draft and a ton of others transferring to different universities, now is the time to open a new chapter at Indiana. This new chapter is named Mike Woodson.

Fresh from being a scapegoat with the New York Knicks, an Indiana alumnus is exactly what the team needs. Not only does Woodson have ties to IU and the know how to get his players to work hard- shown by the increased effectiveness of his former superstar Carmelo Anthony- but there is nothing more appealing to a high school recruit than NBA experience. Mike Woodson has shown that he can be successful on the professional level, so I am sure that he would thrive in Bloomington.

Matt Kuchar’s Near Perfect Month

 

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Matt Kuchar holes out from the green side bunker on his 72nd hole which led to a one shot victory of Luke Donald

Just over two weeks ago, he was defeated by Matt Jones in a sudden death playoff after Jones’ holed out from 42-yards, he finished T5 at this years Masters, but this week it was Matt Kuchar’s time. Matt Kuchar (-11) defeated Luke Donald by one stroke at the RBC Heritage to capture his seventh PGA tour win. After a spectacular hole out from the green side bunker on the 18th hole to shoot, a record tying final round, 64.

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This has been an almost near perfect month for Matt Kuchar, finishing in the top 5 at each event. Many people would assume that the golf courses Kuchar has played fit his playing style, but that isn’t the case at all. TPC San Antonio, the Golf Club of Houston, Augusta National, and Harbour Town Golf link have nothing in common. They all have different weather, different grasses, and all play to different strengths.

“It’s amazing to have four straight weeks of changes on four completely different golf courses,” said Kuchar, who now has eight top 10s in 11 starts this season. “I take a lot of pride in playing good week in and week out. This has been some excellent play.”

For the last 5 years Matt Kuchar has been the most consistent player on TOUR, having just two missed cuts in 63 starts.

What has guided him to his recent success? When it comes to his bag, Matt Kuchar isn’t loyal to just one brand. He carries clubs from five different equipment manufactures.

Lets take a look inside his bag:

Driver: Bridgestone J40 430, 9.5 degree

3-wood: PING G25, 15 degrees

Hybrids: PING Anser, 20 degrees, PING Anser, 23 degrees

Irons (5-PW): Bridgestone J40 Cavity Back

Wedges: Bridgestone J40 Black Oxide, 52 degree. Cleveland 588 RTX Satin, 58-12 degrees. Titleist Vokey SM4 Spin Milled, 62-07 degrees.

Putter: Bettinardi Matt Kuchar Signature Model 1

Ball: Bridgestone Tour B330-S

Hopefully he will continue to swing great and putt well so we can hear more “Kuuuuuchh” roars from the crowds.

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Boston Stays Strong

Last week was the anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombings and today marked one of the greatest comebacks in America. At the marathon’s memorial, a man was arrested for leaving suspicious bags near the finish line, and many questioned whether the race would occur the following week. After a moment of silence was given and the American Flag was raised, Vice President Joe Biden, spoke out “We are America, we own the finish line.”

It’s hard to believe that a year ago, at one of the biggest marathons in the country, such devastation occurred that killed three and injured more than 260 people. This morning, 36,000 runners took their positions to start the race. For many of the runners, it was more than the competition, but a chance to run for those who couldn’t.

For the first time since 1983, an American crossed the finished line first. A 38-year-old Californian man, Meb Keflezighi, crossed the line with an official time of 2:08:37, to win the men’s division. For the women’s division, Kenya’s Rita Jeptoo gained her second straight victory.

Thousands of cops and security lined the marathon and welcomed runners and spectators all morning. Without them, the marathon wouldn’t have happened. Especially after the scare last week at the memorial, many were worried of the outcome of this years marathon and could only think that a repeat would happen. Security was much tighter and did not allow any backpacks on or near the course. Any costumes that covered the face and clothes that were bulky and contained pockets were also banned. Security and Gov. Deval Patrick took extreme measurements to ensure everyone’s safety. Patrick even quoted, “Somebody said it may be the safest place in America.”

With 9,000 more runners than last year, and an overwhelming crowd, it’s safe to say that America owned back the finish line. Boston remained strong, even one year later, and Americans came together to prove that nothing will stop them.

Silver to Raise NBA Draft Age to 20

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Newly announced commissioner of the NBA, Adam Silver, says that he wants to make some new rules for the NBA Draft in the near future. He plans on making college players be at least 20 years old and/or play in college for at least two years.

In my opinion, I think that this is a great idea, mainly because it will make the players realize what college is all about. Then if they start enjoying their classes, then they might stay all four year for a backup plan in case of injury.

This has always been one of the biggest controversial topics of college players declaring for the NBA Draft. Silver says this is at the top of his priority list.

There are some college players that aren’t even 19 yet and have already declared for the NBA Draft. For example, Noah Vonleh, who just turned 18 in August has already declared for the draft and won’t even be 19 when he gets drafted. Well luckily for him, he doesn’t have to worry about that rule because it isn’t even intact yet.

Any changes wouldn’t be in place by next season because the league is waiting for the players’ association to name an executive director before officially starting discussions. But it’s clear there’s a growing force to think about this issue through soon, possibly in time for the 2016 NBA Draft.

I guarantee that freshman coming to college in the 2015-2016 season won’t be skipping class, so that they can get the grades to play for at least two years.

These players need to realize how talented they are to be able to skip their next two or three years of college and go straight to the NBA. They don’t realize how good they have it.

After David Stern has stepped down, I can already tell that Mr. Silver is ready to make some changes and improve the NBA.

Is Johnny Manziel a Smart Quarterback?

NCAA Football: Chick-fil-A Bowl-Duke vs Texas A&M

This past week all of the players heading to the NFL Draft were given the Wonderlic Test. For those of you out there that do not know what the Wonderic Test is, it is a popular group of intelligence test used to evaluate skill of potential personnel and even athletes for learning and problem-solving in a range of occupations.

The test consists of 50 multiple choice questions and has to be completed in 12 minutes. The average score is 20 and that indicates that you have average intelligence.

The one and only Johnny Manziel scored a 32 on his Wonderlic Test. This was very surprising for everyone, due to the fact that everyone thinks that he is a party animal and doesn’t go to class. Well Johnny fooled everyone by taking this test and scoring a 32.

But does this score prove that he can be a good NFL superstar? Probably not.

When these quarterbacks take this test, some of their score are looked at by the 26-27-60 rule to see how successful these quarterbacks will be in the NFL. This is for quarterbacks who score at least a 26 on the Wonderlic Test, start at least 27 games in college, and have at least a pass completion of at least 60 percent.

Scores from the past include: Eli Manning (39), Peyton Manning (28), Russell Wilson (24), Robert Griffin III (24), Aaron Rogers (35), Tom Brady (33), Tony Romo (37), and Ryan Fitzpatrick (48).

The average football player will usually score somewhere around a 20. The highest score has been a perfect score (50), which was done by Pat McInally, who was a punter and wide receiver who came from Harvard. The lowest score was by Morris Claiborne who received a 4 on the test and still became a first-round draft pick in 2012.

Just One Question Aldon: Why?

Source: USA Today

Source: USA Today

On Sunday, San Francisco 49ers linebacker Aldon Smith was arrested at Los Angeles International Airport and charged with false report of a bomb threat. Reports say that Smith was chosen at random for a secondary screening by a TSA agent, and it was then that Smith uttered the sentence that everyone knows is off limits at the airport.

After the TSA agent had finished the security screen, Smith had a back and forth that landed him in the hands of authorities. Smith inquired, “Are you going to search me further?” When the agent responded that it wasn’t needed, the athlete said “Why not? I have a bomb.” From there, Aldon Smith was booked for California Penal Code 148.1(a) – False report of a bomb threat- and had to pay $20,000 in bail money.

From the situation presented by authorities, it seems that Smith was doing nothing more than trying to make a very unfunny joke to someone who is not allowed to joke. However, do not think that I am supporting Smith and his idiotic actions. I think that this incident involved a rich athlete who thought that he was above the law. Like so many other athletes that have been in trouble, a combination of the fame and riches made Smith think that he gets to do whatever he wants.

To pile on, Aldon Smith was also arrested last September for suspicion of driving under the influence, proving that he has no intent to listen to the law. Like thousands of athletes before him, Smith thought that being admired as an athlete gave him a hall pass to do whatever he pleases.

However, it seems like people are getting tired of head cases in the NFL. Taking DeSean Jackson as example, the Philadelphia Eagles could not handle the baggage that came with their star wide receiver, so they had to let him go. The same type situation may happen to Aldon Smith- who is racking up his own baggage- and, in my opinion, just making himself look like an idiot.

But the fate of Aldon Smith will not be up to the 49ers organization, since the linebacker is facing up to a year in federal prison for his joke. If Smith does spend some time in jail, maybe that will ground him and result in a better man coming out; or he may use his immense riches to get himself out of trouble. Either way, I hope that Smith has learned his lesson about what is acceptable to say at airports (and if he didn’t here is a hint: don’t say “I have a bomb”).

Overall, I have one more question for Aldon Smith: Was it really worth it?

Pacers Get Lucky

After a back-and-forth battle between the Indiana Pacers and the Miami Heat, the Pacers have finally clinched the number one spot for the East Conference, but not in a self-deserving way. It was given to them.

Following a strong start at the beginning of the season, with setting a franchise wins record, it seemed to be clear who was going to take the East Conference top spot, until about a month or two ago. The Pacers began to fall apart, and it happened rapidly. If they would have beaten the Knicks on March 19th, they would have been four games ahead of the Heat, but they lost, giving the Heat another chance to catch back up.

When the team finally started to pull things back together and play the way they did at the start of the season, things were looking up. If the Pacers are to face the Heat again in the Eastern Conference Finals, it was crucial for them to have home court advantage. It all came down to the home game vs. the Heat. Fans were worried, but somehow the Pacers put the past behind them and finished a strong and close game to beat the Heat. All they had to do was keep winning and not lose the easy games…which they did. Not only did they lose easy games, but the Pacers managed to score a historically-low first half with only 23 points. Coach Frank Vogel sat his starters for the next game because of their poor performance, and somehow they managed to barely beat Milwaukee. Again, thanks to luck.

In my opinion, ever since Larry Bird tried to clean up some issues within the team, such as trading team captain Danny Granger, the team camaraderie has clearly vanished. The Pacers slowly began to fall apart and that element of holding the team together was simply not there anymore. It seemed as if they had lost their team captain, their veteran, and number one guy to look up to for assistance and experience..oh wait, they did. In a recent interview with Larry Bird, the president of basketball operations, he stated that he did not “believe that the departure of nine-year Pacer forward Danny Granger disrupted team chemistry.” Bird believed that the trade to get Andrew Bynum was important for the playoffs, but let’s not forget about the regular season leading up to the playoffs Mr. Bird.

It hasn’t been easy nor has it been enjoyable, but the Pacers have finally clinched the top spot in the Eastern Conference. They didn’t do it by dominating the conference and beating teams, but because they got lucky and the Heat happened to lose their last two games.   Starting as the dominating team of the conference to now a team based on luck, is not something to ride on in hopes of getting them through the playoffs. Along with the number one spot, they now have home court advantage. This will help immensely, but they also need to work on their team chemistry and get back to playing like the team they started with in November.

Luck can only take you so far and I can only thank the Heat for losing.

Big names miss the cut

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Leader, Bubba Watson, after 36-holes

After the ceremonial tee shots from Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, and Jack Nicklaus the 78th Masters Tournament officially got underway on Thursday. The field made up of 97 players got off to a hot start, especially Bill Haas who was in the lead after the first day posting a 4 under 68.

But the story of the second round at this year’s Masters was Bubba Watson. The 2012 Masters Champion shot a 4 under 68 to take a 3 shot lead over John Senden heading into the weekend. Bubba carded 5 birdies in a row starting on hole 12 and continuing until he made par on hole 17.

The cut this year, included 51 players at 4 over or better for 36 holes. A few notable names in the top 51 include the lone amateur, Oliver Goss, 54 year old, Fred Couples, 1st time Masters participant, Jordan Spieth, and many more.

The other 46 players didn’t have the luck on their side this week; lets take a look at 5 notable players that missed the cut this year.

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Sergio Garcia

#5. Sergio Garcia. Many picked Sergio to win this year’s Masters because he is due for a major championship. Coming off a T-8 in last year’s Masters, the Spaniard won’t be playing on the weekend this year. He missed the cut by 1 after bogeying his final two holes on Friday en route to a 3-over 75.

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Patrick Reed

#4. Patrick Reed. After winning at the Cadillac Championship in March named himself as one of the top-5 players in he world. But this week Patrick Reed never got it going, opening up the tournament with a 73 followed by a 79 to miss the cut by 4 shots.

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Ernie Els

#3. Ernie Els. The four time major champion winner missed the cut in a major for the second straight time after failing to reach the weekend at last years PGA Championship. Els carded 10 bogeys at this year’s Masters missing the cut by 1 stroke.

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Jason Dufner

#2. Jason Dufner. The 2013 PGA Championship winner miss his first cut in a major since 2011, by a wide margin. Missing the cut by 6 shots after carding a quadruple bogey on No. 13 on Thursday en route to a first round 80.

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Phil Mickelson

#1. Phil Mickelson. The lefty found himself behind from the start after carding a first round 76. Making matters worse, he tripled the par-3, No. 12, on Friday after going bunker to bunker to put himself right over the cut line. He made quite the charge with birdies on three of his final five holes on Friday, but it wasn’t quite enough.

Other notable players to miss the cut include Hideki Matsuyama, Graham Delaet, Matteo Manassero, Keegan Bradley, and former Masters champions Angel Cabrera and Trevor Immelman.