Monday, February 26, 2007

Tigers Done For?

It sure looks like it after a truly pathetic weekend in Mankato.


The Badgers lose at OSU 49-48 in a great 1 vs 2 matchup. Even though the Badgers didn't win, this was a very enjoyable game. But I will look at some positives and some negatives from the game:

- Teams have been able to cut down on the Badgers' inside game lately. The Badgers have made a living at the FT line and lately they haven't been doing that. Bo needs to drill it into their players heads to get back to this style. They are settling for ill-advised jump shots from 17 feet or farther.

- Brian Butch out for the season with a sick elbow injury. I grabbed my elbow when I saw the replay. His prescence will be sorely missed.

- The guards have been very poor in defending against the fast break. Taylor and Flowers seem to be caught watching the game too much lately.

- Jason Bohannon is starting to shine. The Badgers desperately need him to continue to have the hot hand from outside as that opens things up for Tucker.

- Chappell had an outstanding defensive game. He man'd up on Odom and did a fantastic job on the future #1 NBA draft choice. His defense was as good as his offense was bad (and boy was it ever)

As a comment: Greg Oden is not ready for the NBA. There I said it. This guy is a freak, that is for sure, but his game is not ready. His footwork is terrible and he gets by on his athletic ability, plus he is not in physical shape for the extended minutes in the NBA. He hasn't even played a full season yet of college. There are some slightly above average players in the NBA that will eat him up right now. I mentioned to the guys I was watching the game my views with and they looked at me like I was on drugs. I'm not saying he's not going to be a good NBA player, I just believe that a year more in college will do wonders for his game overall that he could not get in the pros as he lacks some fundamental skills. Problem is, the money is way too hard to turn down.

Overall the Badgers played a very tough game and had a very good chance to win it. Tough break that Taylor couldn't hit the FT to put more pressure on OSU. I still have big hopes for this team come tourney time. They have the players and the coaching to win, let's see what March brings.

Big thanks to Dean for hosting the game. He and Shane were good guys to watch the game even if they were more rooting against OSU than for WI, it was still good to have some guys cheering for Bucky.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Nice while it lasted

All one day of the Badgers being the #1 team in the country. Like I said before, it's nice to have the ranking, but what matters is March Madness. I'd rather be #1 after all is said and done than #1 when the regular season ends.

The Badgers did not look past MSU to the big matchup vs OSU on Sunday. MSU played a hell of a game and deserve all the credit for the win. Neitzel torched the Badgers D as nobody has all season long. Combine that with the Tom Izzo staple - awesome rebounding, and that will carry MSU a long way. I thought the Badgers offensive execution was rather poor in the last 6 minutes of the game as they settled for far too many 17 - 23 foot shots rather than try and go inside and get the fouls and FT they win so many games on. They went away from their strengths and I believe Bo will hammer that deviation home this coming week of practice.

I figured the Badgers would lose 3 conference games or so this year, and so far they have lost 2 with 2 to play. Would love to have the Badgers beat OSU and essentially clinch the #1 seed for the Midwest regional.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

About time!

The Badgers men's hoops have reached the top spot in the AP poll this week. First time ever in school history. Now they just have to be at this spot 7 weeks from now, which is ultimately more important, but it's nice to celebrate this.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Tigers Fail to Gain Points Against Minnesota

The Tigers fought hard in two close games this weekend, but in the end came out with nothing to show for it as Minnesota handed CC back to back 3-2 losses. If there is any good news to come out of the weekend, it's that the Tigers played fairly evenly with a superbly talented Minnesota team. That is little consolation however after a weekend that could very likely keep the Tigers out of the NCAA tournament. A tournament berth does remain a possibility, but it will require some great play from the Tigers down the stretch and also a bit of luck. The Tigers now sit at 14th in the Pairwise rankings - which could be either in or out of the tournament depending on the results of league tournaments. Wins against Mankato and DU are a must, and the Tigers probably need to make it all the way to the WCHA championship to really assure themselves of a spot.

A number of things contribute to the "luck" factor:

* Will top teams win their conference tournaments? If there are upsets then autobids could keep CC and other bubble teams out of the mix.

* Will Wisconsin, Michigan Tech, and Mankato remain TUCs? All of these teams are under .500 and if they do not end up in the top 25, wins against them will no longer be of any significant help to the Tigers. Mankato is already out of the top 25 and if CC beats them this weekend (which we have to if we want to remain in the tournament picture) they will continue to fall.

* Will Michigan State, Miami, St. Lawrence, and Boston College finish the season strong, or fade down the stretch? These teams are all close to the Tigers in the standings and have the potential to keep CC in or out.

* The ECAC, as usual, is terrible this year. Could a sleeper (AKA not Clarkson) win their conference tournament this year and grab an additional spot in the tournament? Certainly a possibility.

Anyway, those are just a few scenarios that will have to be played out before selection time, and it's easy to see that CC is in dangerous territory. But hey, it was supposed to be a rebuilding year anyway, wasn't it?

Speaking of rebuilding, this weekend's series has gotten me thinking about next year's team. One thing that was frustrating to see this weekend was how close CC was to Minnesota, without getting any points to show for it. The Tigers pretty much dominated on Saturday night but just couldn't hold it together after a huge tying goal by Mike Testwuide. Well, the silver lining is that the Tigers are going to improve big time next season, while the Gophers will surely "reload" but at the same time, lose most of their top players from a really astounding group. Erik Johnson and Kyle Okposo are almost certainly gone next season. Ryan Stoa and Alex Goligoski could be gone too. Meanwhile, us Tiger fans can look forward to seeing a vast majority of our players back next season.

This CC team has only three current NHL draft picks that are not seniors - Chad Rau, Scott McCulloch, and Kris Fredheim. None of these three should be real flight risks this offseason, although you never know. Billy Sweatt, undoubtedly the top NHL prospect on this current squad, will likely be drafted in a few months and we'll know his situation better once we know where he goes. What I'm getting at is that CC has a lot to look forward to next year, especially with the recruits that we have coming in. So, if you're feeling down about the recent sweep or our tournament chances, take comfort in the fact that next year should be a good one.

Anyway, I don't mean to get ahead of myself on that tangent, because there is still hockey to play this season. The Tigers may not have come away with many points in the last few games, but they have shown that they can play with some of the WCHA's top teams. What am I getting at? The WCHA tournament. It's only weeks away and could present CC's best opportunity to regain a spot in the field. Nevermind winning the Broadmoor Trophy and getting the autobid - just a couple wins against solid WCHA teams could be exactly what the Tigers need to regain their pairwise footing. The next few games (Mankato, Denver) will be very important for determining seeding. Right now CC is tied for 4th in the league along with North Dakota. If we can jump ahead of Denver and get to the 3rd spot, CC could avoid the dreaded play-in game to the Final Five. The Tigers may not have demonstrated the ability to win lately, but they have certainly shown an ability to play hard and compete against top teams - and with persistence, we should get to enjoy some results, and maybe even a tournament berth.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Good always wins over evil

The Badgers proved this addage quite convincingly last night with a trouncing of Minnesota 75-62. Player of the year Alando Tucker dropped 29 points against the sad Goophs. The Badgers even did all this at Minnesota, and laughed about it as you can see from Kam Taylor.

How much of a mismatch is WI vs MN? The Border Battle between these two schools is heavily in favor of WI
265-95 and after the Badgers' wrestling team destroys the ring-worm laden MN squad, the spread will be even greater.

It's a great time for Badger sports. There are nationally high-ranked programs on both the men's and women's side. We could very well be in the golden age of the university athletics.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Tigers On Bubble Entering Home Stretch

With just six regular season games left to play, Colorado College sits at No. 11 in the latest Pairwise Rankings - still sitting on the bubble, but not looking so bad considering that all six of the Tigers remaining games are against TUC's (although that may not be the case for long as Minnesota State sits at 26th with barely better than a .400 winning percentage). A lot of people consider the weekend games against St. Cloud State a disappointment since CC had such a great chance to win game two, but I see it differently. The Huskies have proved that they're one of the top teams this year as evidenced by their Pairwise rank, and I found it very encouraging that CC was able to hang with them in their own barn. It would have been nice to get a few more WCHA points and possibly pass Denver in the standings, sure - but that can wait for later. Right now, what's really important is securing a spot in the NCAA tournament. The Tigers remain in a precarious Pairwise position mainly because three teams that they have wins against (Wisconsin, Michigan Tech, Mankato) are dangerously close to the TUC cutoff.

This makes the games this weekend very important for the Tigers. Wins against Minnesota would really solidify CC in the Pairwise standings and in terms of RPI. So what will have to click this weekend for the Tigers to take some points from the Gophers? Just about everything. Minnesota remains one of the top teams in the country and has incredible talent from top to bottom. CC scored only three goals on the weekend against St. Cloud State, and will almost surely need more than that just to get one win against the Gophers. Minnesota remains the top scoring team in the WCHA, and yes, they still have three first round draft picks in their freshman class. Because of this, winning will also require a mammoth effort from the defense this weekend. Matt Zaba will have to keep up his great play in net as well. I'd like to say that goaltending is one area where CC will have the advantage this weekend - but even Minnesota's goalies are among the tops in the country - yes, both of them. Kellen Briggs has a dandy .922 save percentage and a 2.08 GAA, while Jeff Frazee has a .910 save percentage and similarly impressive 2.09 GAA - Frazee also has just one loss in 14 games this season.

CC does have one advantage this weekend though and that is the fact that the pressure really seems to be on Minnesota. The Gophers exploded out of the gate this year and have been 1st in the WCHA all season, yet as of today they sit just four points ahead of a hot St. Cloud State team, meaning that a Tiger sweep this weekend could lead to a real battle for the top spot with the Huskies (coincidentally, SCSU and Minnesota play a home-and-home after this weekend). The Tigers, on the other hand, have defied most everyone's expectations for this season and with some wins down the stretch could even challenge Denver for the third spot in the WCHA standings. CC still has two games in hand on the Pioneers, as well as the annual home-and-home series to end the season. Denver is off this weekend and then has a tough series against a red hot North Dakota team before ending the regular season against CC. Just one win this weekend would move the Tigers at least one point ahead of DU in the standings.

I was right the first time

The Bucks season is over. I had hopes that if they could be somewhat respectable while Redd was out, they could have a chance in the sorry Eastern Conference. Originally, I thought the team was doomed, then I tried being optimistic after the Boykins trade. I made the classic blunder, no not trying to fight a land war in Asia, but assuming the Bucks could compete without Redd or Williams (well, actually just Redd). This team is 3-17 in it's last 20 games and Redd won't be back for a bit yet. Boykins suddenly shut his game down after Williams comes back and Bogut fell of the face of the earth. Outside of Patterson and Williams, it seems nobody else gives a damn. That is on Stotts. His job is to get this team ready to play and compete. He has absolutely failed in this regard. He needs to go after this season if not immediately. It's completely clear that the team has given up on him.

Funny, when the Bucks were winning, the pro-Stotts crowd was saying how foolish the anti-Stotts people were. They've been amazingly quiet this past month.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

One Point Weekend in St. Cloud Drops CC Back to The Bubble

I'll do a more thorough write up in the next few days. In the meantime, check out this new blog, and get ready for an absolutely huge series next weekend against Minnesota.

Friday, February 9, 2007

To Randy, or not to Randy?

That is the question.

Rumors are flying about like flies on a Bear fan about the Packers trading for Randy Moss. That's right folks, the Packer killer may be coming here. Yes, it does seem wierd to talk about this. Now, understandably many Packer fans have some strong feelings about this ranging from "Yes, time to have him destroy teams for us!" to "You want that lazy, goodfornothing, cancer on our team?"

Well, let's take a look at
this situation shall we? Oops, wrong one (or is it, hmmmm?)

Does Randy still have it?
He was a force of nature for 8 seasons until last year. Randy did not had a very good 2006 in Oakland with only 42 catches and 553 yds and 3 TDs. Why was that? The detractors will tell you that he's lost a step and without that speed he's nothing. Well, the Oakland offense had THE worst OL in the NFL last year thus giving the QB no protection or time to throw. With this OL, the running game was pathetic (29th in the NFL). Teams could just load up on defending the pass. The OAK QB's were Andrew Walter and Aaron Brooks, who combined for about a 57 QB rating with only 7 TD passes, that's right, 7 total. Worst QBs in the NFL hands down. They were even worse than Brad "Noodle Arm" Johnson in MN and that's bad. In short, he was stuck on a bad team that couldn't and didn't use him. So using last season as a guide for Moss is not an accurate one. His previous 8 seasons are far more indicitive of how good a player he is.

Many questioned his commitment to making the offense succeed and the phrase of "I'll play when I want to play" continues to haunt him. This was an overblown comment at the time and still is. There are plenty of WR out there that do the same thing when they know the play is not coming their way. WR's are required to run so fast so often that this is expected and not surprising in the least. If you don't think Driver does this to, you're mistaken.

He has all the skills to dominate, he just needs a better supporting cast and I daresay that Driver, Jennings, Favre and Green are light years better than anything Oakland has to offer. Moss and Favre both admire each other's abilities and would be happy to work together. Favre would be happy as Moss is perfect for the jump balls Favre loves to throw and Moss would be quite happy in GB playing with Favre and Driver in a very good offense; and a happy Moss is a devastating Moss.

We got this guy in FA from Oakland... Woodson was his name. Most said he lost a step and that the Packers got a lemon. I recall he had a hell of a good year and was a borderline All-Pro CB. All he needed was a change of scenery. Same with Moss.

Is Randy a cancer?
No. I don't know a simpler way to put it. Does he speak his mind? Yes. So does Favre, but we call it leadership when it's him. "But great Oracle, what about his off the field issues? Didn't he once run over a cop and said he smokes pot?" As far as I know, Ahman Green has been arrested for beating up his wife and has had several restraining orders against him, but he still gets welcomed for the Lambeau Leap. Many fans even want him back next year. If Green can get a free pass, so can Moss. Let's face it, so long as the players perform on the field and we win, we love them and find a way to explain the off-field behavior.

What would it take to get Moss here?
The latest rumor is a 2nd or 3rd round draft pick and TE Bubba "fingers" Franks. Given that Franks is an absolute waste at TE, trading him and a 3rd for Moss is a no-brainer, I don't know if I would give up a 2nd and a player though. The Packers have over 29M in cap space and can easily accomidate his 9M in salary due next season. Rumor also is that Moss is willing to redo his contract to make it more palatable if needed.

What about the fans, will they accept him?
We had Jim McMahon on our team once as a backup QB to Brett. One of the cockiest opponents that Packer fans loved to hate. So don't give me that junk Moss won't be welcome. The minute Moss catches his first TD or even first down from Brett, the crowd will welcome him with open arms. Get over the "mooning" episode Packer fans. It's known that the residents of Green Bay moon the opposing team's bus after a game. Turnabout is fair play.

So should the Packers do the deal?
Absolutely. With Driver opposite him, who do you double team? There are going to be plays were either Moss or Driver are going to be wide open. Add in Jennings with a 3 WR package and you've got one of the best WR corps in the NFC. With teams having to worry about both Driver and Moss, the running game becomes that much better as teams cannot put 8 in the box. Also acquiring Moss gives the Packers a legit red-zone threat that they haven't had since the days of Chmura. The offense will open up far more than it has in about 8-9 years. Favre has made a career out of making poor WR good and good WR great. Imagine what he could do with a elite one.

There's nothing to do but speculate and debate the point until March 2nd, when FA begins and this can all become reality, one way or the other. I am for this move though as the positives far outweigh the any negatives. Packer fans, you need to get over your hatred of the man and see what he can do for the franchise.

Monday, February 5, 2007

Sweet Revenge: Tigers Sweep Defending Champs

After suffering one of the worst losses the World Arena has ever seen last year against the University of Wisconsin Badgers, people were expecting the Tigers to come out blazing this weekend. After two periods of play on Friday night, however, one had to wonder if Brian Elliott and his friendly crossbars could possibly be solved. Dre Vlassopoulos answered that question with a little less than seven minutes remaining in the game, and in the process got CC back on the winning track. Vlassopoulos went on to assist Mike Testwuide's game winner in overtime along with Bill Sweatt, who also notched a helper on the first Tigers' goal. The Tigers narrowly missed finishing off Wisconsin in regulation, with Chad Rau putting one off the crossbar with just under two minutes to go. On Saturday, the Tigers had to wait considerably less time to put their first past Brian Elliott - Cody Lampl did it just 21 seconds into the game. Lampl, Chad Rau, and Braydon Cox all had two points on the night as CC finished the sweep with a 4-2 victory.

This series was literally a must-win for the Tigers, as a single loss would have severely hurt CC's tournament chances. The Tigers now sit tied for 8th in the Pairwise Rankings, with what could be the most important series of the year coming up this weekend when the team travels to St. Cloud State for two games. After that the Tigers face another stiff test in Minnesota before facing off against Minnesota State-Mankato and Denver to finish the season. Wins against St. Cloud State, Minnesota, or Denver would strengthen CC's tournament chances in a big way.

In terms of the WCHA, CC remains in 4th, albeit with two games in hand on Minnesota and Denver, who are #1 and T-#2, respectively. St. Cloud Rtate has played the same amount of league games as CC and sits one point ahead of the Tigers. The team to watch out for right now, however, is North Dakota. The Fighting Sioux seem to finally be living up to their potential, and haven't lost a game since they dropped a 1-0 decision right here in Colorado Springs. UND looks to pick up some big WCHA points in their next two series, at home against Mankato and Minnesota-Duluth, but ends the season with two tough away series at Denver and St. Cloud State. Add to that the fact that some of their top players have been getting busted for various legal infractions up in Grand Forks (Let's Go DU has got the coverage), and things could get interesting for the Sioux.


* Matt Zaba is playing spectacular. I was worried going into the third period on Friday that he was becoming the Roger Clemens of college hockey - a guy that keeps his team in games that they still don't win - but thankfully the offense took care of business down the stretch. If he keeps this up the Tigers may just have the right team to make a late run.

* Cody Lampl has really stepped up his game as well. Even when he doesn't appear on the box score, his big hits and overall energy were a big part of the Tigers success this weekend.

* Chad Rau and Dre Vlassopoulos are creating a lot of great scoring chances, and the offense in general is looking better right now than they have at points this season. Once Scott McCulloch gets out of his scoring slump (which I assume that he will), the Tigers should not have many offensive concerns.

* The frosh defensemen have been impressive lately. Kris Fredheim is quietly having a great first season and Brian Connelly, while his offensive numbers may be down lately, has been much more reliable on defense.

Friday, February 2, 2007

He's Back! Hell Yeah!

Photo from JSOnline

I'm going to go home and have a drink or 6 to celebrate this. Playoffs, here we come!

Root for the Bears and you're a Commie!

The Super Bowl is this Sunday, in case you've missed the insane amount of TV hype and webspace dedicated to it.

As a diehard Packer fan, I hate all of my division foes. I don't care how "good" they may be, I refuse to root for them under any circumstance (unless it directly helps the Packers). Therefore, I will be rooting for the Colts, completely and with every fiber of my being. Manning and Dungy deserve a SB ring, Grossman and Chicago do not.

It was brought up by a fellow Packer fan of mine, that Packer fans rooting for the Bears because they are from the same division is blasphemy. He brought up the history of the rivalry. The game where the Fridge made his FB debut and got his first TD. The SB Shuffle arrogance. The Majic replay. The special hatred between Bears and Packers fans. When Lovie Smith was hired, he said that priority #1 was to beat GB. Not win a SB, but beat GB. He made rooting for Chicago akin to the Red Sox rooting for the Yankess in the World Series, or vice versa. It's an unforgivable sin. He finished his rant with the following sentence:

Decide if you want to be a Bear fan on the final game of the season. And if you do choose to wish a championship for the Packer’s most hated rival, don’t do it halfway. Paint your house in Bear loving colors and put on a Rex Grossman jersey. Then look at yourself in the mirror again, and consider what you are doing.
I love that sentence, and if that doesn't wake you up to what you are doing, then just keep the Bears jersey on for next season too.

I hear on the radio and TV that the Bears are going to win as they are sick of hearing how they can't and how the Colts are so superior. The analysts equate this to how FL was prior to their game vs Ohio State. In a word: bullshit. Some said prior to the game that FL should not have been there and now that is said about the Bears. "See how that worked for FL!" the sports guys say, like the 2 situations are similar. My counter: well, the Pats were nowhere near good enough back in '86 and look how that worked out. How about the Buffalo in '93, SD in '94, ATL in '99 or the NYG in '01? Very often in the NFL, the team that is the decided underdog in the SB gets spanked. Don't start comparing the college game with the pros. They don't compare and you know that the analysts are reaching for someway to make Chicago look like they have a chance if they have to look to college ball for some hope for the Bears.

I hope Indy wins and wins big. And I'll enjoy every minute of it.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Streak is over

The Badgers 17 game win streak came to a halt with a loss to the #25 Indiana Hoosiers 71-66. I did say that the Big Ten schedule was going to be tougher than people were expecting it to be, and this was one of the games that was going to be a problem. Indiana is a good squad and are 13-0 at home this year (remind you of anyone?). The Hoosiers are a very good offensive squad and last night, they were on their game. I think this is the first game that the Badgers allowed over 50% FG shooting all year. Butch needs to step up his game against opponents like this, 3 pts and 8 rebounds in 23 minutes? Also, Chappell put up a nice line himself: 4 fouls in 5 minutes. Thanks for showing up Jason!

I figured that the Badgers would lose about 3 conference games at the start of the Big Ten season, and this was one that I thought would be a tough one. Fortunately, thier next 5 games are fairly easy ones. They get Northwestern, MN, Iowa and Penn St. twice. The Badgers are 21-2 and one of the best teams in the nation, let's not lose sight of that with this last loss.