Monday, October 26, 2009

12 @ 12: Weekend Randomness

1. Kyrie Irving caused quite a stir last week with his commitment to Duke. He announced it on live television on the sparsely watched ESPNU channel. One problem: he verbally committed to Duke nearly a month before his big announcement.

So why did he deny reports that he committed? I have a theory.

There is pressure from the fine folks that coordinate the ESPNU on-air announcements. They have asked kids to “keep your mouth shut,” as one parent told me last year about a conversation between a producer, the high school coach, AAU coach and the player regarding the player’s commitment. I knew the player committed. The player knew I knew he committed. The parent knew I knew he committed. They told me, for goodness sakes, but asked that I not print anything because if I did, the parent said “ESPN said they will pull the interview five minutes before (his son) was to go on the air.”

That is why there is a denial. Sure, I get it. The kid wants his moment on television. That’s pretty cool. I can’t deny that. But who has ESPNU? Who watches that channel anyways? I can promise you that more people read and more than they watch ESPNU. Why not announce it via the Internet sites where the traffic is greater? Enough of my complaining.

2. One more thing…Irving said he visited Texas A&M as a favor to assistant coach Scott Spinelli, who played college ball with Irving’s father at Boston University. Favor visits are insulting more than anything else. Coaches believe that having a high-profile player coming to campus does wonders with recruits. Hogwash. Having a big-time player coming to town and not landing him hurts more than helps. It’s like saying you’ve faced Nolan Ryan 12 times in your playing career and struck out all 12 times. Now I’m done. I swear.

3. Okay, okay. This is it. I swear. Irving is a terrific commitment for the Duke Blue Devils. He is a terrific kid. He is a terrific scorer. He has terrific basketball I.Q. He is the best commitment in the Duke backcourt since Jason Williams and Chris Duhon. His impact will be felt immediately. All eyes are now on you Harrison Barnes. Just stay off Twitter.

4. In all of my years of covering college basketball recruiting and high school hoops, I never went to the Eddie Griffin Challenge in the fall. The day is a match-up of the top players in Philly and New Jersey. It is one of the few events that I truly want to cover but never can. My friends at NBE Basketball were there. And their coverage is excellent (no surprise there).

5. I’m not going to say West Virginia’s Devin Ebanks is a sleeper. But I will say this: he’s the best player in the country that gets the least amount of credit. In fact, he’s a better version of Rudy Gay. In fact, he’s better than Rudy Gay. In fact, he could be the best player in the country.

6. The NBA season officially starts this season. Can’t wait to see where amazing happens.

7. I’ve pumped them before, last week in fact. But if you don’t read Rush the Court on a daily basis, you are missing out on a great college basketball site.

8. Brilliant story written by Shira Springer of The Boston Globe about former Celtic Antoine Walker and how he is losing nearly $110 million. If you've been to Vegas in July, this story shouldn't surprise you one bit.

9. You can stop chewing your nails and staying up late at night. The latest ranking of the nation’s top sixth graders is now up on at the HoopScoop, the biggest mockery of basketball on the planet.

10. Is it me or does Rick Pitino look really aged in this sit down with ESPN's Andy Katz? He may say his off-the-court sex-capades won’t play into his team. His team said the same thing at the Big East media day. But take one good look at him, and he looks like a man that has lived with a lot of internal stress of late.

11. I know of three teams that went paint-balling as a team building experience this week. Very cool idea.

12. Here are my 12 football thoughts from the weekend:

A. Reason number one why BYU isn’t as good as their record or ranking: they can’t handle athletes. Florida State laughed at the Cougars’ lack of speed. TCU walked all over the BYU secondary. Both losses came at home, one of the toughest places to play in the West.
B. Wow, what a finish in the Alabama-Tennessee game. Perhaps the best finish of a game this season?
C. Then Iowa comes along and scores on a last second touchdown against Michigan State just an hour later.
D. Thank goodness the best game of the week isn’t on Versus every single week. That was the freshmen ‘B’ team doing the game on play-by-play, commentary and camera work. Sheesh.
E. Texas wide receiver Jordan Shipley, how many times a week do you hear, “You remind me so much of Wes Welker.”
F. If you aren’t a believer in the Pittsburgh Steelers, you should be. Now that Troy Polamulu is back in the secondary, that defense is downright deadly. Just ask Percy Harvin.
G. We know this much – Brett Favre will not make a tackle on a defensive return.
H. Move over Dos Equis man, Mike Tomlin is the coolest man in the world. Those aviators are GQ, baby.
I. Shame on Pittsburgh kicker Jeff Reed. What was that attempted tackle on Percy Harvin’s kickoff return? That was offensive.
J. Part of me wonders if the Houston Texans are this year’s Arizona Cardinals.
K. Ted Ginn, Jr. has a bad case of the Braylan Edwards. Ginn can’t catch a ball when it matters.
K. Mile Austin, welcome to the Big Time, kid.
L. Who is the Heisman leader right now? Another week, another blank stare at a list of great players that have underachieved by their lofty standards. How about giving the award to the SEC officials? Jimmy Clausen of Notre Dame will probably be the popular pick with Alabama’s Mark Ingram being the most logical choice at the current moment.
M. Who is the early NFL MVP leader right now? Peyton Manning sits atop my list. Drew Brees is a close second. And the New Orleans gunslinger may take over the top spot in the very near future. He was AMAZING in a terrific second half comeback on Sunday.

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