Posts Tagged ‘Jared Sullinger’

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March Madness Meets Military Operation

March 23, 2011

During the second stanza of possibly the wildest opening weekend in NCAA tournament history, the United States fired missiles at Libya in a mission known as, “Operation: Odyssey Dawn.” While I won’t get into the politics of the decision to devote military personnel into a third realm of the Middle East, I will call out the obvious. America does two things better than anyone since the ancient Greeks: Sports and War. Not only do we do them well, we also give sweet names to the invasions (“Overlord,” “Rolling Thunder,” “Shock and Awe”) or plays (“The Immaculate Reception,” “The Annexation of Puerto Rico,” “The Shot Heard Round the World”) in regards to both ventures. The ultimate goal of this blog may be to parlay it into a copy-writer position sitting around the Pentagon with a Thesauras and legal pad just making up bad-ass names of missile deployments.

For now, I’ll get back to March Madness. I can still give awesome mission names to the biggest players, teams and stories heading into the Sweet 16. So even if your bracket is more busted than Tiger Woods new girlfriend (google it), enjoy.

OPERATION: SONIC PERIL

Chicks with guns will obviously be the images throughout today's blog.

Victims: Pittsburgh, Texas

Target: Referees

Both of these teams heard the earth-shattering, nightmarish noise that represents imminent death. Much like the noise of a Tomahawk Missile en route to destruction, a referees whistle signaled the end for each of these teams. In both cases, that referee should have been waterboarded as punishment. In both cases, the game tilted on the axis of a referee deciding he is the most important man on the court. For Pitt, refs called a reach in foul on a defensive rebound with the Butler player’s back to the basket, which stood 90 feet away with 1.2 seconds on the clock. Read that again. I honestly don’t care if Matt Howard, the Butler player who corralled the Pitt miss, got shot by a Pitt player who holstered a gun in his jock, you cannot make that call in a tie game.

For Texas, the heartbreak may be worse. The five second inbounding count in basketball gets called less often than an ugly girl after a one night stand. Texas, however, faced off against a referee who not only called it, but called it at FOUR seconds as the Texas player signaled for the timeout at the same time. Instead of Texas being up two and at the free throw line, they allowed an and one that sealed their fate, and booked their flight back to Austin, a round earlier than expected. Hopefully, in the Sweet 16 and onward, referees will learn to swallow their whistles with the game in the balance and anything short of a maimed ear being the infraction.

OPERATION: NUMERIC STUN

Victim: Syracuse, Notre Dame, Purdue

Target: Marquette, Florida St., VCU, Richmond

Nobody picked the current group of 16 teams to qualify for the second week of the NCAA tournament. Literally. Check ESPN’s bracket challenge and not one person got all 16 right. The reason? One 12 seed (Richmond), two 11 seeds (VCU and Marquette) and a 10 seed (Florida St.) who nobody gave more than a passing first game chance to. In VCU’s case, “experts” got on soap boxes in the days leading up to the tournament to argue how badly the committee messed up by picking them. All VCU has done is blow out everyone they’ve played worse than Pauly D’s hair. That includes Purdue, many people’s (mine included) pick to reach the Elite 8.

Florida St. faced a Notre Dame team that almost garnered a number one seed this year. Unfortunately, the Irish couldn’t garner any points against a suffocating Seminole defense. With a matchup against VCU coming, one underdog will be euthanized. Richmond should follow soon after as they have the undesirable duty of playing tourney favorite Kansas.

Which brings us to Marquette. They had already beaten Syracuse once this year, so the recent win shouldn’t have shocked anyone. Marquette’s true upset started before any games were played. Their three best players, do-it-all forwards Jimmy Butler and Jae Crowder, and lefty sniper Darius Johnson-Odom are Junior College transfers. Basically, they either came out of high school with an SAT under 820 or no scholarship offers. All three are legitimate talents with the toughness, but maybe not the skill to beat a team of silver-spooned athletes like North Carolina.

OPERATION: MAMMOTH FURY

Battle Tank: Jared Sullinger, the Morris Twins

B52 Bomber: Derrick Williams, Harrison Barnes, Kawhi Leonard

Prey: Unskilled or Undersized Big Men

Any good military operation has its tanks on the ground and its bombers in the air. In both cases, we are talking about some massive machinery doing things never before seen in modern warfare. The same rings true in this year’s NCAA tournament. Here’s a line on each of these guys.

Jared Sullinger: With a posterior that gives Nikki Minaj a run for her money, Sullinger gets the best low post position of any big man in the game. Combine hands that would make a Vietnamese nail technician jealous, and you’ve got a load to handle in the Buckeyes paint.

The Morris Twins: Marcus and Markieff have distinct skills, we’ve been told, but every time somebody on Kansas does anything, whether its a three or a dunk, it’s one of them. As I’ve already postulated, their mother must have birthed them in vitro using the Wolverine aqua pod, and their games thus far (31 pts, 17 rebs combined in round one, 41-24 in round two) have been just as super-heroic.

Derrick Williams: After shooting 58% from three on the year, the 6’8” Williams vaulted himself into the #1 draft pick talk. He has been slashing more en route to games of  22-10 and 17-9 so far in this tourney. His and one against Texas won the game for the ‘Cats, but it might take a true explosion against Duke for Arizona to advance further.

Harrison Barnes: Another 6′ 8” wing, Barnes, the freshman savior, fell victim to the hype machine early. Now he is finally hitting his stride for the Heels, scoring 24 with 16 boards in round one. Then, he got hot with four threes and 22 points in the nailbiter over Washington. Barnes is the total package and if he gets a couple more wins, he may return to #1 overall status by draft time.

Kawhi Leonard: The former California HS Player of the Year is the main reason San Diego St. has been in the top 10 all year. At 6’8” with the wingspan of a 747, Leonard needs to be sharper if the Aztecs want to beat the UConn Kembas. It says something that he has still posted lines of 21-10 and 16-9 without playing a complete game. I just wish he’d ditch the cornrows. They’re so ‘Melo ’03.

OPERATION: FLEETING PULSE

Target: North Carolina, Duke, Kansas; Victim (Potentially): Marquette, Arizona, Richmond

Every one of these blue-blood programs have played very Jekyll and Hyde thus far. While the Tar Heels rolled in the first round, they narrowly escaped a Washington team that hung around all game and almost capped off a late comeback before John Henson deflected an in bounds pass that ended the Huskies run. Duke played a near identical game in their match-up against Michigan. The Wolverines kept hanging around until a late run of their own ended on a missed floater in the lane that would have sent the game to overtime. Meanwhile, Kansas slogged through 30 minutes against my alma mater Boston University until finally pulling away for a 19 point win (Vegas loss). The Jay Hawks looked better in round two, but still allowed a far less talented team in Illinois to keep it tight.

If any of these teams continue to struggle early, with the way this tournament has brought down top seeds, they won’t survive the two games required to reach the Final Four in Houston. Fortunately for all of them, they got good draws in the round of 16 thanks to upsets, and should have one more chance to work the kinks out before a true test in the Elite 8. I still think one of these three giants catch a slingshot to the eye.

OPERATION: TRANSCENDENT STAR

F-16s: Jimmer Fredette, Kemba Walker

Prey: Any opposing defender

Two names more popular than Bieber and Sheen to the college basketball world are Jimmer and Kemba. The first two rounds of the tournament did nothing to dispel the fact that these are the two most electric superstars in the game. With polar opposite New York styles, (Kemba is the Bronx playground point guard with the ability to get anywhere on the court. Jimmer is the Buffalo combo guard with the ability to shoot from anywhere on the court) the two players rarely resemble each other anywhere but the “PTS” column in a box score. Kemba had just 18 points in UConn’s rout over Bucknell, but he flipped in 12 measly assists while he was at it. Then, everyone got to see the real Kemba Walker. Scoring 16 in the final 10 minutes, Kemba ripped Cincy for 33 points including a perfect 14-14 from the line, with an unofficial four twisted Bearcat ankles and two lost dignities in the process.

Not to be outdone, Jimmer has dropped 30 plus in each of his tourney games. When your name has turned into a verb, as in, “Damn, you just got Jimmered by that white boy,” you know you’re pretty good. In game one, Jimmer had an “off night” the way Warren Buffett has an “off” stock tip, as he only shot 2-9 from distance, but still scored 32.  In his next game, many thought Gonzaga held the advantage across the board. If that was true, nobody accounted for Jimmer. He poured in  7 threes and 34 points. For a kid who grew up going to the local prison in order to find talent on par with his, he has yet to find it in this NCAA tournament. That could spell major problems for the Florida Gators in the Sweet 16, as their point guard, Erving Walker, is 5’8” on a tall day and the man trying to stop Jimmer, Kenny Boynton is banged up with injury.

While they reside on opposite sides of the bracket, and personal style spectrum, Jimmer and Kemba could meet in a national championship game. If that happens, the game would not only decide a National Champion, but also the debate of best player in college basketball.

OPERATION: MYSTICAL FLAW

Target: Ohio St.

Guns, America, Perfect

Victim: The rest of the field

Where is the Buckeyes weakness? In my initial March Madness preview column, they got the Marissa Miller “perfect” tag. I said they were as complete a team as you’d find in college basketball, along with Kansas. Now, after two rounds of play, they are head and shoulders above everyone else. They walked through their warm-up scrimmage with Texas San Antonio, then played even better against George Mason, the hottest team coming into the tournament. That game did pose a threat to the Buckeyes, and even gave a quick window to the soul of the team. Down 11-2 with George Mason players talking trash, Sullinger bumped shoulders with an opposing player and whispered to him, “It’s over, Yo.”

After that guarantee, the Buckeyes closed the first half on a 50-15 run for the ages. When it was all said and done, Sullinger scored 18 in just 22 necessary minutes. William Buford matched those 18 and Jon Diebler scored 13, while each hit four threes. David Lighty poured in 25 points on a perfect 7-7 from distance, thanks to perfect set ups from Aaron Craft who dropped 15 dimes off the bench. No other team in this tournament can have such a statistically perfect box score than the Buckeyes. They have prototype players at every position on the floor, and will never be at a matchup disadvantage. Even when Diebler, Buford or Lighty, in any combination, are off the mark, they can compensate for each other seamlessly.

I obviously just jinxed the Buckeyes into a cold shooting performance, early foul trouble and an upset loss to Kentucky. Thankfully, nobody really reads this blog, so maybe word won’t get out. For the sake of my bracket, it better not.

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March “Madness” an A Propos Name in 2011

March 15, 2011

It’s true, I just broke out my french-english on all your asses to describe the upcoming NCAA Tournament as “fitting.” Now I’m going to act chivalrous and rendezvous with all of you to share my tourney espionage work. That is literally all the french-english words I care to ever think about, since my affinity for France ends at fry or toast. Isn’t Joakim Noah French? Uff the French. But seriously, this year above all others, the one-and-done player in college basketball has finally created a bracket more “mad” and unpredictable than a Charlie Sheen orgy after banging a seven gram rock and chilling in his theater room. All day I’ve just been scouring reports on upsets, sleepers, favorites, blue-bloods, cinderellas, giants, giant killers, mid-majors, major-majors, intermediary-majors, sub-terranian-majors and every other term you can imagine to describe teams in this tournament. My head is spinning, this is the only thing that makes sense to me at this point…

I know, it's not even a random hot girl. Just this basic, nothing to write home about shot of Megan Fox looking all sweaty and perfect.

Beyond the #1 seeds, who are still vulnerable in latter rounds, I have seen legitimate arguments made for EVERY SINGLE favorite to get upset in the first round. Alas, have no fear, devout Revolver Reader! I am here to make sense of things for you… using the tried and true formula of comparing sports to hot women. I will get you through the important factors of this upcoming tournament. Because, if there’s two things I do well, one of them is dominating an NCAA bracket (or at least staying alive until the Elite 8 weekend) and the other is destroying entire tubs of hummus in a single sitting.

So now, I’m just sitting here crushing roasted red pepper hummus staring at a bracket with more cross-outs than Schindler’s List (does that joke even make sense? Did Schindler cross people off his list? Is it even his list, or is he on it? Should I watch the movie before I offend people? If it’s “Too Soon” my bad), trying to make sense of things. At this point, there’s a solid chance that I’ll be watching the first round, making comments like: “SHIT! I KNEW THEY WOULD WIN, I ENDED UP TAKING THE OTHER TEAM IN MY FINAL BRACKET, BUT AT ONE POINT, BACK IN ‘NAM, I DEFINITELY HAD THEM FILLED IN!” By now, you’re probably waiting for a hot girl comparison, so let’s get into this chinese fire drill of a basketball tournament.

THE MARISA MILLER  “DOUBLESHOTS”

The Best of the Best

Ohio State, Kansas

Just two teams get the distinction of being in the Marisa Miller group: flawless. Much like Marisa, they bring the total package to the table. It’s rare you find an inside-out threat that is so complete, but with both of these teams, their multi-faceted approach can burn you down low (Sullinger for OSU, the Morris twins for Kansas) or up top (Diebler and Buford for OSU, Morningstar and Reed for Kansas). These teams are eerily similar to the way Marisa can torture you, whether you are looking up top, or down low on her bikini, or lack thereof.

THE MINKA KELLY “MINXES”

Near-perfect, with that nagging question mark...

Duke, Pittsburgh, Notre Dame, UNC, UCONN, Purdue

Downgraded like Minka is for dating Derek Jeter, a Yankee manwhore who offers her nothing, aside from his 300+ million in career earnings, all of these teams are flawed in some way. Duke is without star frosh PG Kyrie Irving, and Kyle Singler can’t throw the ball in the ocean from the middle of a Kayak, right now. Pittsburgh doesn’t have the go-to star that is so often needed in March. Notre Dame lacks athleticism (a nice way to say they are too white) and cannot defend. North Carolina has never pieced it together all year as their supposed savior, Harrison Barnes, has only shown flashes of dominance. UConn has Kemba Walker and a bunch of question marks, plus they may be too drained after their five games in five days Big East tournament win. Purdue has the great PG in E’twaun Moore, and the top notch center in JaJuan Johnson, but the season-ending injury to sniper-wing Robbie Hummel leaves them without a solid wing option.

THE SCARLETT JOHANSSON “BOMBSHELLS”

Big names, but not going anywhere this year...

Kentucky, Florida, Syracuse, Louisville

Calipari, Donovan, Boeheim, Pitino… Johansson. Sure, the names on the jerseys and in the coaching boxes are sexy as all hell, just like Scarlett. Sure, they’ve got Final Fours, National Championships,  blue-chip recruits and talent all over, just like Scarlett. Sure, they’ll be marginally successful, just like Scarlett. But, ultimately, they’ve got too much baggage to make any real noise this year. Just like Scarlett is rebounding from a messy divorce and no truly memorable acting roles (seriously, IMDb her… weak), all of these coaches and teams are rebounding from divorces: Kentucky lost John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins and Eric Bledsoe from last year’s team. Or unmemorable performances/rosters: quick, name three players on Florida, Louisville or Syracuse. If you aren’t a big-time basketball fan, there’s no way you can do that. Even if you are, it’s only because you just watched the conference tournament games.

THE KATE UPTON “UPSTARTS”

Who?

Utah St., Belmont, Richmond, Oakland, Morehead St.

SI’s Swimsuit Edition breakout model, that’s who! Never heard of her!? Well here are some sleepers for your pool you probably haven’t heard of either… Utah St., Belmont, Richmond, Oakland and Morehead St. For the most part, just take my word on some of these teams. If you don’t want to take mine, take a bunch of experts and geeks who do NCAA analysis for a living. Utah St. was dominant all year and got seeded far lower than most expected. Belmont and Richmond are two complete teams that got unlucky with tough first-round draws (Wisconsin and Vanderbilt, respectively). Oakland (6’11” center Keith Benson) and Morehead St. (NCAA All-time Rebound leader Kenneth Faried) have legitimate NBA talents on their rosters who could dominate a first-round match-up long enough to spring the huge upset. Just like Kate Upton can dominate a swimsuit long enough to spring a huge… well, you get it.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Lucy Pinder almost represented my unheard of teams, but then I realized I needed a chick hot enough to defend my genius final thoughts.

This blog honestly took more time finding appropriate hot girl-team matchups than my actual wit, so I’m going to use this space to give some final tips.

1- If your team’s best player is known as a “streetball legend” think twice before you pick them (St. John’s- Dwight Hardy). Do you want some And 1 mixtape wannabe getting called for a carry on the final possession? Didn’t think so. Quadruple-double this rule if the opposing team has a point guard who is the offspring of John Stockton (Gonzaga’s PG just so happens to be John’s son, David). If you think this rule is simply racist, well, there may be some validity, as long as Jesse Jackson is arguing for you. Otherwise, it’s simply smart.

2- When in doubt in the later rounds, take the team who will actually get to the game. I know, this sounds odd… you picked both teams to get there! But now, go back and decide who has the toughest matchups en route. If you are at a legitimate 50-50 on the game pick, pick against the team with the tougher road. It’s like when you have to decide what equally hot girl you’d rather hook up with. One is at the bar. The other requires a long cab ride with a man from Yemen. Simple choice.

3- Mascots can definitely break a tie. Seriously. You think if St. Peter’s wasn’t an abysmal 14 seed playing a ridiculously tough Purdue Boilermakers team that I’m not taking the Peacocks all day long?! You’re crazy. Seriously, how did I not go to St. Peter’s. Just Peacocking the living hell out of every day of college. Sporting technicolor button downs, silk clothing and shoes that make Liberace sweat. One solid example of the old mascot tie-breaker this year can be seen in the 6-11 matchup between Cincy and Missouri. Sure, Cincinnati is a Bearcat, but Missouri is a legitimate TIGER. An effing TIGER, bro. Not some androgynous half-bear-half-kitten made up beast. Mike Tyson has a Tiger. Tigger, from Winnie the Pooh is a Tiger (I think) and a damn G. Go Mizzou!

4- Big Men Matter. This is basketball, after all. When you were playing pickup hoops, did you take the big kid AFTER the little kid who could shoot good and do other things good, too?! Nope. You took that big sweaty kid who no one could, nor wanted to guard. In this case, Ohio State and Kansas are sporting some of the biggest kids. Dallas Lauderdale and Jared Sullinger are legit Center-Power Forward manbeasts for the Buckeyes. If you don’t trust me, just ask their equipment guy who has to wring the devil’s ass sweat out of those shorts every single day. Kansas has the Morris twins, who are a testament to modern child-birthing miracles. Seriously, if Marcus and Markieff’s mom lived during biblical ages, she would have no doubt passed out and died popping out not one, but two of these behemoths. I pray she took an epidural, got a C-section, or just transferred her womb into a massive pod, Wolverine style. Added props to Ms. Morris for naming one of them Markieff. She knew his homies would be pronouncing Markeith that way anyway, so she saved them the embarrassment.

5- Fire up the computers at work, get ready to hit the “Boss Button”, (CBS’ genius creation that quickly turns their live telecast feed into a pdf document to fake out a boss, for those who actually work) and get ready to be pissed off. This year, like no other, I predict we will see more upsets than ever. When this many marginally good, marginally bad teams are in one tournament, it’s bound to happen. Thankfully, I will know every single one of those upsets as I stroll to another bracket victory.

Stay tuned.