Saturday, March 03, 2007

Ode to Sonny Southern Cal (B-Ball In An Arena Is Pointless)

The 3-Ball Free-For-All experienced a horrific twist of fate a few hours ago when WUSSconsin ran that inbounds play with 11 seconds to play -- trailing Michigan State, 50-49 -- and the receiver of the inbounds pass (Kammron Taylor) began to dribble while walking backwards toward the midcourt stripe.
It was fairly evident that WisconSUCKS coach Bo Ryan had no interest in diagramming an intelligent play that his players could remember, so the instruction was: "Here, Kamm ... toss up a 25-footer and win it for us."
And, Taylor -- who, up until that point was 1 of 5 on 3-balls and 0 of 3 on 2-balls -- did what 89 percent of college b-ballers do in that situation.
Shoot the fall-away 3.

Kamm nailed it -- and the basket stood up as the winner because MSU's Drew Neitzel decided to take the subsequent inbounds pass and rather than pass it to a teammate (wide open on the right wing with body poised in catch-n'-shoot mode), Neitzel did what 94 percent of college b-ballers do in that situation.

Upchuck a running, one-hander from 35 feet which wasn't even close as the horn sounded.

In his previous three home games, Taylor had made 10 of 16 trifecters ... which made his 1-of-5 effort a little misleading.
However, unless WUSSconSUCKS plays at home against Dunder Mifflin in the first round of the NCCA tourney, the Badgered is gonna have some problems.

However, nobody ("nohhhhh-buddd-deee!") has more problems on the road than Izzo's sorry team.
20-1 at home ... 1-9 on the road.
This much needs to be said:
The Spartans do NOT belong in the postseason.
Or anything that resembles a postseason.

Let's face it: If the MSU varsity of '06-'07 was in a tourney against any number of pickup teams on the blacktops of East Lansing, Downtown Lansing, Suburban Lansing and Lansing's Garment District, the Spartans would get trounced.

When we show up and say, "We got winners," we can rest assured that we won't be facing the green-and-white, "scholarship" b-ballers.

It sure seems remarkable that just a few days after we offered thumbnail sketches of some of this nation's favorite 3-ballers (among them ... Kammron Taylor), they really came to play today.
In Wuss-con-sucks' case, Joe Krabbenhoft took his one 3 per game -- and rather than miss it as he usually does -- he drilled it.
Really stuck it.
Meanwhile, in another game of Big 11 import (sort of), Indiana's A.J. Ratliff continued his bid to make us forget Indiana's A.J. Guyton and Indiana's A.J. Moye.
Ratliff -- who sank 34 percent (14 of 41) of his 3-balls in Nov. and Dec. ... and who has drained only 34 percent of his 3-balls (15 of 44) on the road in Big 11 play -- burned Penn State badly today by drilling 6 of 9 threes.
In Big 11 home games, Ratliff was a 68 percent shooter from beyond the arc (sinking 21 of 31).
In a 68 percent-vs.-34 percent paradigm, we can see that A.J. Ratliff is TWICE AS GOOD at home as he was on the road ... and in Jan. and Feb., he was TWICE THE PLAYER he was in Nov. and Dec.

It's important to emphasize the word "WAS" because now the Big 11 Tournament and the NCAA Tournament will be played in arenas which are NOT the friendly background/rims of Bloomington's Assembly Hall.
Let's all gather 'round and watch A.J. pull the trigger on a 2-of-11 shooting night, shall we?

Orrrrrrrr ... does anyone see A.J. Ratliff celebrating the 5-year anniversary of Indiana sinking 15 of 19 threes in that '02 regional final victory?
Can't you picture Kelvin Sampson drawing up a 15-of-19 strategem for his Hooters?

Don't bring up '02 to Kel-Samp -- mainly because it was his crimson-and-cream OU Sooners who met the cream-and-crimson IU Hooters in the Final Four following IU's 15-of-19 carnage.
And because Kel-Samp is a realy, really, really, really fantastic coach, he couldn't draw up a 15-of-19 defense and, thus, his more-talented Sooners bowed out.

Now, if Sampson was super genius like UCLA head coach Ben Howland, matters might've been different.
Today, Ben showed what a really, really, really, really good coach he is in the final seconds of the first half at Washington when he allowed Dwyane Collison to dribble the ball repeatedly between his legs near the midcourt stripe as the final seconds ticked away.
Never mind that UCLA was down, 31-20 ... Ben had a plan.

And, that plan was to allow Collison to dribble to the top of the key and then kick the ball to the left wing to Luc Richard Mbah a Moute.
Mbah a Moute -- who was 2.63 percent 3-point shooter last year (5 of 38) -- received the ball in this instance and released a shot which had a sideways, corkscrew rotation causing the ball to hit the side of the rim's heel and bounce crazily away as the horn sounded.

It's not every day that a basketball player honors the late billiards legend Steve Mizerak by shooting "the masse."
But, Mbah a Moute pulled it off.

Then again ... Ben Howland, like Bo Ryan, is so in-tuned with his players that he won't allow himself to "get in the way" during a critical timeout.
"Do what ever you want out there, okay, guys?"

It's still a fannnn-tasss-ticccc sport -- however, when it comes to sports played in arenas, most of us ain't got no time for Ben n' Bo and their mixed-up hardwood ways.
Arenas serve only purpose -- and that's to glorify the 50-yard indoor war that we know as Arena Football.

And, in SoCal, no one who plays for the UC-Los Angeles basketball team can hold a candle to the mad QB skillz of one Sonny Cumbie of the L.A. Avengers.
This is the Arena League's opening weekend of its 21st season -- and it's fascinating to see the QBs who dot the rosters of the 19 teams which we'll be rootin' for in '07.
(Sadly, there is no World Baseball Classic this year as there was in '06 to take our minds off of shitty college b-ball ... therefore, the Arena League is our only refuge, our only salvation ... )

Let's see ... we've got the ex-Texas Tech hotshot, Cumbie, livin' it up in L.A. (and, even if he throws 11 interceptions every game, it's more than any Texas Tech basketball player has done in the pros ever since that coach rolled into Lubbock and turned the roundball program into his own O'Reilly Auto Parts agenda).
Sonny Cumbie ... he's more than merely the guy who succeeded Kliff Kingsbury at TTU and preceded B.J. Symons.
Sonny Cumbie is the starting QB for the only pro football team in L.A.
It is our hope that the local media are calling him "Sonny Southern Cal" ... 'cuz that's what he is.

Meanwhile, the same tag cannot be applied to the Tampa Bay Storm backup QB ... Stoney Case, even if he once was the main squeeze of the former almost-too-hot-for-words, Ali Landry.
Look ... even if you call him "Stormy Stoney Case," that ain't the same as "Sonny Southern Cal," ya got that?

Wait! What about Michael Bishop backing up Raymond Philyaw in K.C. and Rohan Davey backing up Leon Murray in New York?
What's their deal?
Michael Bishop and Rohan Davey ... those are two names which really take ya back to 1998 or 2001, don't they?

STOP! Is that Craig Whelihan who's backing up Mark Grieb in San Jose?
Some of us still remember seeing Wheels come off the bench for the Santa Teresa High Saints in that 1987 Central Coast Section playoff game against the Fremont Indians ... and then 10 years later, we were laughing our asses off when Wheels was playing QB (very mediocre-ly, of course) for the San Diego Chargers.
1987 ... 1997 ... 2007 ... go get 'em, Wheels!
"Wheels! Wheels! Will you autograph my AFL ball? Make it out to 'Peter Stapes.' "
(Peter Stapes is the QB who started that CCS playoff game almost 20 years ago. We can only hope that Peter Stapes is not peddling dope or pushing H on the kids ... )

The Arena League has dozens of stories about guys like Wheels -- no-talent, no-names maintaining their passion for football.
Whether it's Torrance Marshall -- star linebacker for the '00 national champion Sooners -- playin' for Tampa Bay or Carlos Joseph -- starter on the OL for one of the best teams in college football history (the '01 Hurricanes from The U) -- in Las Vegas to Devin Wyman -- the 6-8 / 335 monster who some of us saw play in high school -- startin' for the Dallas Desperados, the league continues to be chock full of human-interest stories.
Such as the ones of QBs such as Sherdrick Bonner in Arizona and Andy Kelly in New Orleans ... guys who have carved out an identity in this league for more than a decade.

Still, it's enjoyable to see the QB names of Clint Stoerner and Jeff Smoker in Nashville or Joe Germaine and Jason Gesser in Utah.
We can still see Clint Stoerner as the Razorback QB commiting that tragic fumble in the final minutes against Tennessee (allowing the Vols to rally from certain defeat during their '98 national championship run) ... just as we still vividly recall Smoker's problems w/ booze plaguing his Michigan State career and (possibly) costing Bobby Williams his job.

Then there's baby-faced Joe Germaine, the Mesa, Ariz. native who led the Buckeyeson that final-minute TD drive in the Rose Bowl against Arizona State ... tossing the winning pass to David Boston and, thus, ruining the dream season for Sun Devil renegades such as Jake Plummer and Pat Tillman.
Germaine was at Ohio State at the same time that Scott Dreisbach was starting at Michigan ahead of Brian Griese and some scrub named Tom Brady.
But, then Scotty earned himself a spot in Lloyd Carr's doghouse with some turnovers in the Penn State game -- and we never heard from him again.
So, any time someone goes missing in Ann Arbor, we can say, "He got Dreisbached!"

Nowadays, Scott Dreisbach -- after a brief stint on the Oakland Raiders' roster -- has gotten himself un-Dreisbached and found himself a home on the Columbus Detroyers' roster.
That's amusing ... a Michigan Wolverine playing in Columbus.

Speaking of Michigan, on the roster of the Grand Rapids Rampage is one of the few NFL first-round draft picks in the league ... Troy Edwards.
Edwards was the Steelers' first-round pick in what proved to be a fascinating draft for Pittsburgh in '99.
The second-round pick was a white-boy safety from Weber State (Scott Shields) who was given Mel Blount's #47.

It didn't work out for Shields ... ditto for third-rounder Kris Farris out of UCLA, the Outland Trophy-winning OL'er who was a flat-out bust.
Of course, Farris was one of two third-round picks by the Steelers that year.
The other was Joey Porter.
Interestingly enough, the fourth- and fifth-round picks from that draft are still around -- Northern Arizona's Aaron Smith and Michigan's Jerame Tuman.
While Joey Porter was gettin' pink-slipped the other day, the ink was still drying on the new deal Aaron Smith had just signed.
Go figure.

With all this in mind, we can see how intriguing one of tomorrow's opening-day games is -- when the Austin Wranglers tangle with the Las Vegas Gladiators.
Austin is QB'ed by Adrian McPherson, the talented-but-troubled athlete who got hisself run outta Florida State.
Then, there's Shaun King QB'ing the Gladiators. If you're too young to recall that Shaun King QB'ed that Tulane team of '98 to a 13-0 record (12 of those wins under Tommy Bowden before he bolted for Clemson where he won five or six national championships), then maybe you remember him as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers rookie who was the losing QB in that unforgettable 2000 NFC Championship Game (by an unforgettable score of 11-6) when ex-Arena League QB Kurt Warner rallied the St. Louis Rams to an unforgettable comeback.

Thank you Arena League -- for giving arenas back to America ...

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