Thunder blow golden opportunity

The sleeping giant has awakened.

The Oklahoma City Thunder were poised to pull of an epic upset as they sat on a 3-1 lead on the 73-win Golden State Warriors. That now seems like a long time ago.

The Thunder had an incredible opportunity to close out the series last night as they nursed a lead in the fourth quarter, but Klay Thompson went wild with 11 three-pointers, which seemed to inspire Steph Curry to return to MVP form as well.

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Hate-Watching the Pacers

Jason Whitlock can be full of himself at times, but he’s still one of the best sportswriters out there. This recent column about the pain he experiences in watching his beloved Pacers is biting and hilarious. Of course he’s not the only one mocking Roy Hibbert and the emotionally fragile Pacers, but Whitlock does it more eloquently.

Can Brady Hoke bring Michigan back to elite status?

Brady Hoke SSH

Should Brady Hoke still get a pass as he tries to undo the damage Rich Rodriguez did to the Michigan program? Or should he be help accountable for the mess we’re still seeing in Ann Arbor?

Michigan fans are losing patience, though Big Ten fans are also getting frustrated. Sure, as an Ohio State fan, it’s always fun to watch the Buckeyes stomp Michigan, and that has become a regular occurrence in the past 15 years. But the strength of the conference is seriously compromised when Michigan consistently plays like Purdue. Beating Michigan becomes an afterthought as opposed to a quality win that impresses around the country.

Jason Whitlock is a friend of Hoke’s, and he believes that Hoke will ultimately be successful at Michigan, but he has some harsh words for what’s going on now with the programs.

Brady Hoke, lost in the riches of Michigan, has momentarily lost who he is.

Hoke walked on at Ball State. No one wanted him. He turned himself into a starting linebacker on the 1978 Ball State team that finished 10-1. He was the captain of the 1980 squad.

As coach at Ball State, he didn’t have an office. The school barely supported the football program. He took a bunch of kids few programs wanted, won a dozen games, and produced a crop of players that included three NFL offensive linemen, an NFL tight end, an NFL quarterback, and a receiver who would’ve played in the league if not for a neck injury. At San Diego State, he did the exact same thing, and the Aztecs didn’t even have their own stadium.

Brady Hoke is an underdog. He has an attitude, a chip. He’s self-made. He always has something to prove. It’s one of the reasons he connects with Tom Brady, a kid Hoke recruited to Michigan, a QB who plays with a massive chip in the NFL.

For three straight years, Hoke has been a recruiting star, landing high-profile recruits from all across the country, swiping talent from Ohio State and other blue-chip programs. Hoke might get the No. 1 class in 2014.

He’s five-star struck. On the recruiting trail, he has sacrificed character, grit and maturity for ratings stars. His top recruit in 2013, freshman running back Derrick Green, reported to camp 20 pounds overweight. Green is soft. On Saturday, the 245-pounder dove at the ankles of a blitzing linebacker and whiffed. Green barely plays.

He goes on to rip other Michigan recruits from the Hoke era along with stars on the team like Taylor Lewan who he accuses of “coasting.” I have no idea whether Whitlock is right here. He may be going too easy on his friend and taking out his frustrations on the players. Would Urban Meyer be having these problems?

Bob Wojnowski is harsher when evaluating Hoke, blaming the problems at Michigan on “poor coaching.”

Hoke came to town with some bluster and bravado, refusing to call “Ohio State” by its proper name bu instead just saying “Ohio.” Perhaps he should focus more on fundamentals as opposed to making waves at press conferences. In the end, the losses with drown out everything else.

Micheal Vick’s terrible day

Image source: Browns Facebook Page

I was there in Cleveland to witness Micheal Vick’s terrible performance and the usual collapse by the Browns. Vick is getting plenty of heat, for good reason, while some like Jason Whitlock called Andy Reid a “moron” for relying to much on the passing game when LeSean McCoy.

Both Vick and Reid deserve the blame. Reid has always relied too much on the pass, and Micheal Vick continues to play with a reckless style that makes it hard to envision him ever getting to a Super Bowl. Vick always wants to make a play, so he’ll throw across his body into coverage, and he’ll run without sliding. He’s very talented, but he has little discipline. Forget about all those ridiculous predictions early in his career that he would revolutionize the quarterback position. Instead, he’s become the poster child of what not to do as an NFL quarterback.

RG3 and his speed

Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III of Baylor University looks for a receiver during the team’s NCAA football game against the Washington Huskies at the Valero Alamo Bowl in San Antonio, Texas, December 29, 2011. REUTERS/Joe Mitchell (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

Jason Whitlock has an interesting take on Robert Griffin III and the impressive 40-time he displayed at the combine.

In my opinion, Griffin’s speed doesn’t enhance his draft stock. It damages it.

I am not a Robert Griffin hater. I love RG3. In all likelihood, he will be my favorite NFL player next season. He could quickly become my favorite active athlete, ahead of Tiger Woods, Ray Lewis and Jeff George (has yet to file his retirement paperwork).

But I’m worried about Griffin. He’s blessed with too many tools. Oftentimes, the greatest athletes are physically limited, which strengthens their focus. Bill Russell could never match Wilt Chamberlain’s size and limitless athleticism. Larry Bird and Magic Johnson weren’t the greatest leapers or the quickest on their feet.

Tom Brady and Peyton Manning are relatively immobile. They play from the pocket because they have no choice. They mastered the art of playing from the pocket because they had no other choice.

NFL games are won most consistently by quarterbacks who play from the pocket. If a quarterback leaves the pocket, he’s going to get hit. If a quarterback gets hit regularly, he’s going to get hurt. If a franchise quarterback gets injured, his team has little chance of winning the Super Bowl.

NFL teams are looking for the next Manning or Brady. Or the next Eli Manning, Aaron Rodgers and Ben Roethlisberger. A little mobility is good, especially if the quarterback moves in the pocket in an effort to throw downfield. Rodgers and Big Ben are terrific at moving to throw. Is that how Griffin will use his athleticism?

Or does Griffin have so much speed that he’ll channel Michael Vick?

Whitlock goes on to recount Vick’s early problems as he relied too much on his speed and athleticism. Athletes like Steve Young had to learn how to stay in the pocket.

Whitlock basically sums up the primary reason why Andrew Luck is rated higher than RG3, even as some think RG3 has more upside. It’s a risk/reward analysis. Luck has shown that he can win strictly as a pocket passer, using his athleticism only when needed.

Can RG3 learn to play that way? Of course he can. But just because he has the aptitude and temperament to learn doesn’t guarantee success. Luck isn’t guaranteed success either, but we’ve seen him operate consistently from the pocket, so there’s less risk.

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