The Collective

Best College Team Nicknames
By Steven L. Taylor

Good stuff, over at The Monkey Cage.

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By Steven L. Taylor

The sound quality is awful, but the bit is hy-larious:

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Format changes to 2008 Ryder Cup matches announced
By Bill Jempty

This seems comprable to re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic to me

Paul Azinger has already introduced sweeping changes to the U.S. Ryder Cup team selection process. Now he has altered the format of the tournament.

The U.S. captain announced Wednesday that the order of the team matches on the first and second days of the competition will be reversed, meaning there will be four foursomes (alternate shot) matches followed by four four-ball (best ball) matches. As usual, the Ryder Cup will conclude with 12 singles matches on Sunday.

In each of the past two Ryder Cups  routs for the European team  the four-ball format was used in the morning each day.

“I believe it was 1997, I think Seve (Ballesteros) changed it to best ball in the morning and alternate shot in the afternoon. I felt like the Americans had an edge in alternate shot and I think it’s partly responsible for why Europe has gotten off to a pretty hot start,” Azinger said at a news conference in Scottsdale, Ariz., where he is competing in this week’s FBR Open. “So I’ve decided to change that back. I hope it’s the right decision. We’re switching, we’re going back to alternate shot in the morning and we’ll just see how it plays out.”

The matches will be played Sept. 19-21 at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Ky. As captain of the home team, Azinger has say over the order of the matches and course set up.

“I’ll do everything I can to get an edge,” he said.

What edge? Altering when the matches are played, isn’t gong to eliminate the cause behind the USA losing five of the last six matches. The American team needs to play up to what it is capable. If not, Europe will win in another rout this September.

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Stoudamire to the Spurs
By Steven L. Taylor

Via ESPN: ESPN - Agent: Stoudamire will sign with Spurs after clearing waivers

Stoudamire, who will clear waivers and become a free agent Thursday at 10 p.m. ET after his buyout from the Memphis Grizzlies, has committed to join the Spurs after also considering the Phoenix Suns and the Toronto Raptors, with whom Stoudamire won NBA Rookie of the Year honors in the 1995-96 season.


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Post NHL All-Star game playoff assessment- Western Conference
By Bill Jempty

From top to bottom, the standings

Detroit Red Wings 51-37-10-4-78
San Jose Sharks 50-28-15-7-63
Dallas Stars 54-29-20-5-63
Anaheim Ducks 53-27 20-6-60
Minnesota Wild 50-28-19-3-59
Calgary Flames 50-25-17-8-58
Vancouver Canucks 51-26-20-5-57
Colorado Avalanche 50-26-20-4-56

Phoenix Coyotes 50-27-21-2-56
Columbus Blue Jackets 52-25-21-6-56
Nashville Predators 51-25-21-5-55
St Louis Blues 49-23-19-7-53
Edmonton Oilers 53-23-25-5-51
Chicago Blackhawks 50-23-23-4-50
Los Angeles Kings 52-20-29-3-43

Note- The numbers above from left to right are- Games played, wins, losses, Overtime losses, total points

Teams in Bold are Northwest Division teams

I think its more than reason to say Detroit, San Jose, Dallas, and Anaheim are going to make the playoffs, while the LA Kings have no chance. Edmonton’s chances are slim also.

The closest division is the Northwest. Three points separate first to fourth place. I like Vancouver because of Goalie Roberto Luongo. The division is both talented and very tight and I could see anyone but Edmonton could come out on top and deservingly so. The Avalanche, Wild, Canucks nor Flames rate as mediocre or badly underacheiving teams unlike members of the Southeast Division.

Post NHL All-Star game playoff assessment- Eastern Conference
By Bill Jempty

From top to bottom, the standings

Ottawa Senators 51 32-15-4-68
Montréal Canadiens 50-27-15-8-62
Philadelphia Flyers 49-28-16-5-61
Pittsburgh Penguins 50 28-18-4-60
New Jersey Devils 50-28-19-3-59
Boston Bruins 50-26-19-5-57
New York Islanders 51-24-21-6-54
New York Rangers 52-24-22-6- 54
Carolina Hurricanes 53-25-24-4-54
Washington Capitals 51-23-23-5-51
Atlanta Thrashers 52-23-25-4-50

Buffalo Sabres 49-22-21-6-50
Florida Panthers 51-22-24-5-49
Toronto Maple Leafs 52-20-24-8-48
Tampa Bay Lightning 51-20-26-5-45

Note- The numbers above from left to right are- Games played, wins, losses, Overtime losses, total points

Teams in Bold are Southeast Division teams

First of all barring a complete collapse by these teams, you have to think Ottawa, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, New Jersey and Montreal are locks to make the playoffs. You can probably also toss Boston in.

The rest of the conference is pretty wide open. The only teams that appear to have little chance are Tampa and Toronto.

The Southeast Division is wide open. It is also a division likely to send only one team to the playoffs. First to fourth place is separated by a measly 5 pts, and the 4th place team Florida has played two less games than division leader Carolina. That would point to Florida having a good chance to make the playoffs for the first time in 8 years. On the other hand, there is the team’s listless play of late, only 4 wins in 14 games and this from today’s Palm Beach Post.

The Panthers, who return to action tonight against Buffalo following the All-Star break, say they are determined to end their agonizing playoff drought.

But some observers think the Panthers haven’t exhibited enough determination to reach the post-season for the first time since April 2000.

To put it more bluntly, some critics think they are soft.

“This team plays too much on the perimeter; I haven’t seen the willingness to get their noses dirty and do the dirty work,” said NHL broadcaster John Vanbiesbrouck, who starred in the nets for the Panthers when they reached the Stanley Cup Final in 1996.

“Winning isn’t easy. You’ve got to make up your mind you’re going to do whatever it takes to get there and play like that every night.”

I’m not totally sure if Vanbiesbrouck is right in what he says. Florida has blown at least five games this year in the last minute of play. They’ve also played games where they either quit or showed little effort. I’ve missed only a handful of games on television this year, Florida has the talent to win the division and even make a run in the playoffs. The only teams I worry about in the conference are Ottawa, Pittsburgh, Carolina and Toronto (The Maple Leaf oversized defensemen seem to intimidate the Panthers) when Florida faces them.

I question if the Panthers has the desire, and perhaps the coaching. Why the hell did the team send Shawn Matthias back to the minors? He scored two goals in four NHL games, two of which Jacques Martin barely played him in, and 21 in 32 games of OHL play before his callup. I rather have Matthias on the roster than the overrated Brett McLean or Kamil Kreps. After all, Kreps has just 4 goals in 45 games played!

Boy am I getting gloomy about this Panthers team.

By Steven L. Taylor

Via the DMN’s Dallas Cowboys Blog: D-Mac trade would be Jerry’s dumbest move ever.

Please, Jerry, please! Don’t do it!

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It takes a retreat- Miami Heat break 15-game losing streak
By Bill Jempty

Was it just coincidence the Heat win while I was away on a Catholic retreat with 10 other men from the church I attend this weekend?

Winning for the first time since Dec. 22, the Heat snapped its 15-game losing streak Saturday when Dwyane Wade finally ran into an opponent he single-handedly could bring down.With Wade scoring 35 points, including the final nine of an 11-0 third-quarter streak that helped rally his team from what had been an 11-point deficit, the Heat withstood the Indiana Pacers 98-96 at AmericanAirlines Arena.

“Hopefully,” Wade said, “we can get going and we can forget all about that has happened.”

There certainly is plenty to forget, including Saturday’s final harrowing minutes, after the Heat nearly blew all of the 94-85 lead it took when Wade converted a 3-pointer with 4:34 to play.

But it took Wade knocking away a Troy Murphy inbounds pass with seconds remaining for the Heat to survive.

“It really felt like we won the championship,” said forward Dorell Wright, who tossed the ball high in the air at the final buzzer.

God works in mysterious ways. 

In my youth football and baseball days, I played on more than one pitiful team. When we did win for a change, you’d think we won the league championship. I know what Dorell Wright is saying. At the same time, the unfortunate losers namely the Pacers, feel the ignominy of being the team that ends the streak. Indiana will get over it, but how many more games will it be before the Heat win again?

Miami needs to re-build, and its going to take some time. Shaq is all but done, Wade is brilliant but brittle. There isn’t much in the way of positives for the Heat. I’m sticking to my 2008 prediction, Pat Riley won’t be back as coach for the 2008-09 season. If he doesn’t quit sometime during this season first.

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NHL Players complain about European games
By Bill Jempty

This season’s opener was played in London. On Saturday, the NHL announced its intention to play two games in Europe to open the 2008-09 season. From AP-

ATLANTA - Basking in the spotlight of its All-Star game, the NHL decided Saturday was the perfect time to unveil a big announcement for the start of next season: Four teams will get the honor of opening in Europe. Maybe the league should have made sure the players were on board.Saying there were still details to be worked out, the leader of the NHL Players’ Association objected to the league announcing two games would be played in both Prague and Stockholm to start the 2008-09 season.

Commissioner Gary Bettman said the New York Rangers are scheduled to meet the Tampa Bay Lightning at Sazka Arena in the Czech Republic, while the Ottawa Senators would face off against the Pittsburgh Penguins at the Globe Arena in Sweden’s capital city.

The games would be played Oct. 4 and 5 — assuming the Players’ Association signs off on the plans.

That might be a problem. Paul Kelly, the NHLPA’s executive director, said he was aware of the European games but warned the league not to make a firm announcement until the two sides worked out all details.

“If they want the Players’ Association to be a true business partner, then they have to include us in discussions about these matters at the earliest stages,” Kelly said. “We shouldn’t read about it in the press and we shouldn’t find about it after the fact.”

Kelly said he was approached by league officials Friday night and asked to sign off on the European games, which would mark the second straight year the NHL has opened its season on the other side of the Atlantic.

His response: “Look guys, you know we have a lot of details to work out. Travel, promotional issues, NHLPA involvement, accommodations, the schedule, etc. So there’s still lots of details to work out, but if you want to announce it generally, that’s fine.’

From Kelly’s statements, it appears the NHLPA is unhappy because they weren’t included in the decision making process. They should have been, but that’s water under the bridge now. 

As to playing games in Europe, I don’t like it from the point of view of the Sports US fans. Both Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay will be losing one home game. If you’re a season ticket holder of either team, you have a right to complain. Why should your team have to play a home gain 1/3rd the way around the world? I didn’t like it when the Miami Dolphins agreed to play The New York Giants in London last year. Dolphin fans had more reason to be upset, considering they only get 8 home games a year, and the Giants were making a rare appearance in South Florida.

US football in Europe if it wasn’t a financial bust, was hardly a success either. As to hockey, most countries have their own hockey leagues. How many Czechs and Swedes are playing in the NHL now? Quite a few. I think local fans prefer to watch their own teams. Not ones brought in from another continent. Even if interest is generated, I’d bet it is only temporary.

Washington Redskins fire coaches Gregg Williams, Al Saunders
By Bill Jempty

So much for them being considered candidates to replace Joe Gibbs. From AP-

WASHINGTON - The Washington Redskins seem to have a whole lot of their coaching staff in place for next season — except for the head coach. And that head coach won’t be Gregg Williams. Or Al Saunders.

As for the rest of the candidates, they’ll have to wait until the Super Bowl is done.

On a busy Saturday at Redskins Park, the team fired assistants Williams and Saunders, promoted Greg Blache to lead the team’s defense and formally announced the hiring of Jim Zorn to head the offense.


Williams’ dismissal removes one of the early favorites to succeed Gibbs. Williams had been in charge of the Redskins defense for all four seasons under Gibbs and was popular among fans and many players, but his confrontational style and poor track record at his previous head coaching stint with the Buffalo Bills did little to help his chances for the top job.


The person also said Saunders, who ran the offense the past two seasons, was never a candidate for the head coaching position and was told several days ago that he was not in the team’s plans. Saunders, like Williams, was considered a possible heir-apparent to Gibbs when he arrived in Washington, but he was never able to generate the type of consistent, high-yardage attack he had during his long stint as an offensive coordinator in Kansas City.

Does anyone want to be the next Redskins head coach? Team owner Dan Snyder has the attention span of a toddler, combined with the patience of your average I-95 driver in Florida. Only a masochist would want to be head coach of the Redskins.

No I am not applying.

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