2010 Year-End Sports Review: What We Already Knew

Let’s be honest: Sports bloggers know everything. Just ask us. As part of our 2010 Year-End Sports Review, our list of things we already knew this year includes Brad Childress’ biggest fail, Wade Phillips’ demise in Dallas and John Calipari’s troubles. We also knew Kevin Durant was the next great superstar (who didn’t see that coming?), Roger Clemens is the ultimate windbag and that “Matty Ice” knows fourth-quarter comebacks. We should have gone to medical school…

Contributors: Anthony Stalter, John Paulsen, Paul Costanzo, Drew Ellis and Mike Farley

LeBron is a frontrunner.

We all were a little surprised that LeBron left Cleveland, but the writing was on the wall. Growing up, LeBron didn’t root for the local teams. He followed the Yankees, Bulls and Cowboys, which in the 1990s constituted the Holy Triumvirate of Frontrunning. He wore his Yankee cap to an Indians game and was seen hobnobbing on the Cowboy sidelines during a Browns game. He says he’s loyal, but he’s only loyal to winners…unless they only win in the regular season, of course.

July 08, 2010 - Greenwich, CONNECTICUT, United States - epa02241974 Handout photo from ESPN showing LaBron James (L), NBA's reigning two-time MVP, as he ends months of speculation and announces 08 July 2010 on ESPN 'The Decision' in Greenwich, Connecticut, USA, that he will go to the Miami Heat where he will play basketball next 2010-11 season. James said his decision was based on the fact that he wanted to play with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.

Brad Childress’ biggest flaw cost him his job in the end.

There were many reasons why the Vikings decided to fire head coach Brad Childress roughly a year after they signed him to a contract extension. One of the reasons was because he lost with a talented roster. Another was because he never quite figured out how to best utilize Adrian Peterson, which is a sin given how talented AP is. But the main reason “Chilly” was ousted in Minnesota was because he didn’t know how to manage NFL-caliber personalities. He didn’t know how to handle Brett Favre, which led to blowups on the sidelines and multiple face-to-face confrontations. He also didn’t have a clue how to deal with Randy Moss’ crass attitude, so he released him just four weeks after the team acquired him in a trade from New England. Childress was hired in part to help clean up the mess in Minnesota after the whole “Love Boat” scandal. But the problem with a disciplinarian that hasn’t first earned respect is that his demands fall on deaf ears. In the end, Childress’ inability to command respect from his players cost him his job. You know, on top of the fact that he was losing with a talented roster, he didn’t know how to best utilize Adrian Peterson, he…

Love him or hate him, George Steinbrenner will forever be one of baseball’s icons.

You may have hated his brash attitude, the way he ran his team or the way he conducted his business. You may even feel that he ruined baseball. But regardless of how you may have felt about him, there’s little denying that George Steinbrenner will forever be one of Major League Baseball’s icons. Steinbrenner passed away in July of this year. He will forever be a man known for helping revolutionize the business side of baseball by being the first owner to sell TV cable rights to the MSG Network. When things eventually went south with MSG, he created the YES Network, which is currently the Yankees’ very own TV station that generates millions in revenue. During his tenure, he took the Yankees from a $10 million franchise to a $1.2 billion juggernaut. In 2005, the Yankees became the first professional sports franchise to be worth an estimated one billion dollars. While many baseball fans came to despise the way he ran his team (mainly because he purchased high priced free agents with reckless abandon due to the fact that he could and others couldn’t), don’t miss the message he often made year in and year out: The Yankees are here to win. He didn’t line his pockets with extra revenue (albeit he generated a lot of extra revenue for his club) – he dumped his money back into the on-field product. Losing wasn’t acceptable and if the Bombers came up short one year, you could bet that Steinbrenner would go after the best talent in the offseason, regardless of what others thought of the approach. How many Pirates and Royals fans wish they had an owner with the same appetite for victory?

Read the rest of this entry »

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

Top 2011 recruit Rivers commits to Duke [video]

Austin Rivers (Doc Rivers’ son) has committed to play for Coach K at Duke. Here’s a look:

Was Coach K out of line?

Mike Krzyzewski head coach of U.S. gestures during their FIBA Basketball World Championship game against Tunisia in Istanbul September 2, 2010.   REUTERS/Murad Sezer (TURKEY - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)

Adrian Wojnarowski thinks Mike Krzyzewski’s response to Russian coach Mike Blatt’s comments about the ’72 gold medal game was out of line.

Long story short, Blatt (who holds dual citizenship in Israel and the United States) said that he thought the Russians deserved to win that controversial gold medal game 38 years ago. Coach K said that Blatt was a “Russian” (for coaching the Russian team) and that Blatt’s opinion was something of a “fairy tale.”

Enter Wojnarowski and his soap box…

To get past the dogged, undermanned Russians, Krzyzewski riled up that old Russian hate for his players and the public. It sniffed of desperation, but Duke’s coach isn’t taking the chance of becoming the first national coach in history to fail in winning consecutive world championships. Never mind the myth of sportsmanship in international basketball, Krzyzewski used up and spit out a most disposable Blatt.

Krzyzewski played the patriotism card to his advantage with Team USA, and yet later didn’t want the accountability of its ownership.

[Kryzewski] would get [the win], but not before sacrificing the good name of Blatt. When it was over, Krzyzewski gushed about Blatt’s genius, but that was easy at the game’s end. He had tagged him as a non-American for coaching those Russians, and labels are hard to shake when they come out of the mouth of a Hall of Fame coach. Yes, we’re friends, Coach K said. Friends, indeed. What a desperate, low-rent stunt.

Count me among those that find it very odd when national teams are helmed by coaches not from the same country. I just don’t get it. So Blatt’s coaching the Russian team seems strange to me, and when I first heard Coach K’s comments, I didn’t have a problem with them. Of course Blatt is going to say that the Russians deserved to win that gold medal. He knows where his bread is buttered.

Blatt, of course, says he came to this conclusion independently, after watching a documentary about the game. Fine. But he’s the one that brought the subject up and Krzyzewski responded. It’s still painful subject for USA Basketball and Blatt was the one who started the conversation.

FIBA 2010 World Championship: USA vs. Russia Preview

USA head coach Mike Krzyzewski (C) speaks with Rudy Gay (L) and Kevin Durant before their FIBA Basketball World Championship game against Tunisia in Istanbul September 2, 2010.  REUTERS/Jeff Haynes (TURKEY - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)

Chris Sheridan, ESPN: Lamar Odom will continue to start at center, but Tyson Chandler expects to see a bigger role in having to defend against the 6-foot-11 Kaun and the 7-foot-1 Mozgov, who will play for the New York Knicks next season after signing a three-year contract earlier this summer. The Americans will also be at a size disadvantage at the power forward position, where Andrei Vorontsevich, who plays professionally for CSKA Moscow, is four inches taller than his U.S. counterpart, Andre Iguodala. So it is to be expected that the U.S. team will press in the backcourt and near midcourt as much as possible, not only to try to force turnovers but to slow the Russians from getting into their offensive sets. The Russians run high pick-and-rolls and side pick-and-rolls on a majority of their offensive possessions.

Chris Tomasson, Fanhouse: The 1972 game, won by the Soviets on a length-of-the-court inbound pass with three seconds left that resulted in a game-winning layup after officials had overruled two failed Soviet inbound passes, was discussed earlier this week by Russian coach David Blatt. Blatt, a U.S.native who now holds dual American-Israel citizenship, talked about crying while watching the game as a 13-year-old in Massachusetts. But he now says he believes Russia was justified in winning the game and the Americans weren’t cheated. “He’s Russian,” said Krzyzewski, who was in the Army stationed in South Korea when that game was played. “He coaches the Russian team. So he probably has that viewpoint. His eyes are clearer now because there are no tears in them. It’s great. Whatever he thinks, he thinks. It really has absolutely no bearing on what we’re trying to do (Thursday). Absolutely none.”

John Schuhmann, NBA.com: Russia lacks offensive talent, but is a big, strong and physical team. The Russians go 6-foot-5, 6-foot-9 and 6-foot-9 at the two, three and four spots. And their two centers both play big, averaging 24 points and 10 rebounds. Russia will look to use their size and get under the Americans’ skin with more contact than they’ve seen all tournament. Russia wears teams down and punishes them late. Over the course of six games, the Russians have lost the first half by four points, but have won the second by 45. The U.S. hasn’t seen that kind of physical play in its last three games against Iran, Tunisia and Angola. But the U.S. will be able to draw on the experience of facing Lithuania in its first exhibition game after arriving in Europe. The Lithuanians hammered the Americans early and often whenever they tried to get to the basket or out on the break.

The USA/Russia quarterfinal will be aired live on ESPN at 11 AM ET on Thursday.

Team USA to play some zone?

Head coach Mike Krzyzewski (L) and assistant coach Jim Boeheim talk during a U.S. national basketball team practice in Las Vegas, Nevada July 21, 2010. REUTERS/Laura Rauch (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)

Chris Mannix of SI.com has the details:

When Team USA broke camp in Las Vegas last month, before reuniting this week in New York for more workouts, implementing a zone defense wasn’t even on its radar. Pressure was the word of the week, with U.S. coaches convinced that the team’s length and athleticism would make it a dangerous pressing unit in the upcoming FIBA World Championships.

However, recent circumstances — specifically the withdrawal of most of the team’s top big men — has led to a shift in that thinking. With Amar’e Stoudemire, David Lee and Brook Lopez bowing out of the tournament, which begins Aug. 28, rebounding has become a major point of concern. Tyson Chandler and JaVale McGee are the only natural centers on the roster, while Kevin Love and Lamar Odom are the only true power forwards.

Playing zone, coaches say, will position more bodies near the backboards. To that end, the U.S. has tapped assistant coach Jim Boeheim, who has employed the zone at Syracuse for more than three decades, to teach the principles of the defense to the U.S. team.

“It can take away the inside and take away the offensive flow,” Krzyzewski said. “If you really play it well, people think you give up the three in it but you can match up pretty well in it.”

With the right personnel and enough practice, a zone can be extremely difficult to score on. It gets a bad rap because too often teams turn to it in desperation when they’re already getting killed and they haven’t practiced it all week. But when players know their assignments, it can be a great defensive weapon.

The key is to force three-point shooters to drive and pull up for difficult 15-18 footers that they haven’t practiced as much. There is always help in position with a zone, so the perimeter defenders can aggressively close on a shooter without worrying too much about the help that’s behind him.

Jim Boeheim is a master of the zone so if anyone can get Team USA ready, he can.

Related Posts