Friday, April 29, 2011

Series Preview UW-Oshkosh Titans Baseball v. UW-Whitewater 4/30-5/1 (4 games)

First thoughts: Once again weather is an issue for this weekend’s series, particularly on Saturday with rain in the forecast.  After the Titans got swept by Stevens Point on Wednesday UWO is all but out of the WIAC title hunt. A sweep will even UWO with UWW but will still leave the Titans behind the Pointers in all likelihood with the Pointers playing at Platteville.  As the Titan tile hopes have gone so has my interest level.  After that series against Stout I was really looking forward to this series but now my interest has waned.  The Titans do however find themselves in a fight for the final playoff spot with Lacrosse, which can make things a little more exciting but really is disappointing more than anything.  Titan’s Ace Jeremy Rubens hasn’t pitched in 2 weeks and although I have no sources to confirm this I wouldn’t be surprised if he was hurt again.  He is coming off of Tommy John surgery and has not yet gotten through a season without injury in my time at UWO.  This means that the rest of the Titan’s pitchers, Phil Schreiber and Luke Westphal in particular, will need to step-up. All right lets look at the numbers.

Last meeting: 4 games April 21 and 28 2010 in Whitewater
Titans went 0-4 (1-2, 5-8, 6-22, 6-13)
The Titans were simply embarrassed in this series last year.

Unlike the Stout series from last year, you can gleam some information from this series.  In game 1 UWO got some solid pitching from Mrkvicka and Murphy and UWW countered with a solid outing from Jeff Donovan, who is back this year.  Titans lost the game on an unearned run, a problem for the team this year as well.  Westphal was solid in game 2 pitching 5 scoreless innings but Mrkvicka and Kyle Kannenberg coughed up the lead late.  Kannenberg, Grabig and Murphy got lit up in game 3 and that really is all there is to say about that.  Westphal, Mrkvicka and Wells struggled in game 4.  So UWW has seen these Titan pitchers for the most part and those pitchers have seen UWW’s hitters.  I think that with the improvement in pitching and new bats in the college game that UWO’s pitching should do well against UWW but can the UWO defense hold up?

UWO Overall:
Record: 20-8 (9-7)
ERA: 3.08
RSPG: 5.96
Diff: +2.88

The Titan defense is what it is at this point with a .951 fielding percentage.  One thing that worries me, beside Jeremy Rubens being out, is that of the 28 appearances by Titan pitchers Troy Mrkvicka has half at 14.  The Titans have great depth at pitcher but Matt Wells, who has a 2.1 era, has only appeared 3 times.  A more balanced rotation would probably help UWO.  Iowa transfer Phil Schreiber has pitched the most innings but has a 4.05 era and a 3-4 record.  He’s been a disappointment so far.  I am not sure how UWO is still in the top-25 and I don’t expect them to stay there after this weekend.

Last time out: Swept 0-2 by UWSP in Stevens Point (2-11, 0-10)

Not much more to say about this that hasn’t already been said, terrible hitting, terrible pitching, and they kept their infamous error streak alive at 19 games.  Grabig pitched game 1 inexplicably, he’s the worst pitcher on the team and he took the mound for game 1 in a crucial series against your biggest rival, I just don’t get it.  Start Wells, Westphal, Murphy or Mrkvicka, anybody but Grabig who has become more of a position player this year.  Just an awful outcome.

UWW Overall:
Record: 23-5 (13-3)
ERA: 3.84
RSPG: 9.07
Diff: +5.23

Whitewater is just a great team.  I mean 9 runs per game. That is absurd.  Donovan and Tincher are high quality pitchers but with relatively high ERAs.  Donovan and Coe (another pitcher) can also just rake.  Leadoff man Dan Putnam gets on more often than not, literally, he has an obp over .6 that is incredible.  He hits over .500 too.  Westphal might be in trouble because UWW does really well against lefties.  They also play better defense than UWO.

UWW last time out: Swept Platteville 2-0 (12-2 (7), 7-6 (10))

Obviously a tale of two games, after having the first game cut short by the 10 run rule the next game went into extras.  In game 1 Tincher and Lambert allowed no earned runs in the 7 innings while the top of the UWW lineup dominated.  Errors did hurt UWW in game 2 as well only 4 of the 6 runs scored off Jeff Donovan were earned.  Platteville rode a big 5th inning while Whitewater grinded it out over the 10 innings.  UWW scored runs in the bottom of the 9th and 10th innings to get the win.

Final thoughts:  That Platteville series shows what UWW has the UWO doesn’t, clutch performers.  While UWO coughed up late leads to UWP, UWL, UWST, and UWSP this season UWW manages to win those games.  A spilt with UWW, which is no guarantee, puts UWO in a 3rd place tie with Lacrosse heading into the final weekend in which UWO plays last place Superior and UWL plays UWW.  Anything less than a split and this would be the most disappointing season in UW-Oshkosh baseball history.

Other WIAC games:

Point @ Platteville: Point will take at least 3 of 4
Stout@ Superior: A Battle for last place
Lacrosse @ Bethel: Non-conference

All eyes will be on UWO v UWW this weekend.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Running Diary Mavericks v Blazers 2nd half 4-28

3rd Quarter

12:00 52-43 D: Dallas made a good run to end the first half and look to keep that going in the second.

9:00 58-45 D: Dirk showing some handles getting the ball Marion for a tough tear drop.

7:25 59-49 D: Second half has been pretty boring so far, lots of free throws and missed jumpers. It is a little about the defense but really it’s more about bad offense right now.

4:50 63-52 D: For a second there it looked like Portland was going to make a run but back-to-back buckets for the Mavs puts that to rest for now.

3:47 68-52 D: Kidd hits an absolute Rainbow of a shot and then Marion comes down and hits a shot, now Dallas is on a 8-0 run.

1:51 71-56 D: Dallas hits just a bonkers shot.

0:00 75-62 D: The teams trade buckets to end the quarter, eerily similar situation to when Dallas blew game 4.  If they hang on here it will be quite the accomplishment to bounce back from that loss.

4th Quarter

10:16 77-69 D: Portland leading a charge here to start the 4th quarter.

8:39 81-75 D: Portland still hanging around but Dirk is going crazy right now, doing his best Kevin Durant at this stage.

7:26 86-79 D: After how boring this game started it has gotten pretty entertaining in the fourth quarter. The offense for both teams has picked up without a significant drop defensively.

5:51 86-83 D: Portland making a big-time run late. They are back within 4 after trailing by as much as 17. Dallas has not scored for almost 2 minutes.

5:00 89-85 D: Kidd hits a big bucket after a lay-up for Wallace off a Dirk TO.  Dallas struggles when Dirk is doubled late in the shot clock.

4:04 91-85 D: Terry hits a step back jumper.  The shooting ability of these guys is just incredible to me.  I mean these aren’t “good” shots but it is nearly impossible to get good shots in the NBA because the defenses are so good.

3:18 91-85 D: Yet another blown charge/block call by an NBA official.  That really does need to be a point of emphasis in the off-season.

2:34 91-87 D: 2 missed Free Throws but Dirk has 5 fouls. He is Dallas’ crunch time offense if he goes out early I have no doubt Portland would come back.

1:15 95-89 D: The play-by-play guy just stopped talking for most of that possession.  Dallas turns the ball over again with 46.5 left

:46.5 95-89 D: I’m going to channel my inner Jon McGloklin here. OK, what the Trailblazers need to do here is score, get a stop and score again. I hope that helps.

:32.3 95-89 D: Wallace misses a 3 and Dallas gets the ball out of bounds and the foul fest ensues.

:9.8 101-96 D: I hate foul fest endings so much. 

0:00 103-96 D: Dallas wins the series in 6 games. Not many had this outcome picked, but I did.  I did not think they’d win this game though; it really was a good win for them on a couple levels.  It is disappointing to see Portland head home however, especially with a team like the Hawks still playing.  (Quick note before I forget TNT played a closing time song that is not “Closing Time” by Semisonic, that is weak.)  I really enjoyed this series and I look forward to the first Dirk v Kobe playoff match-up.  Portland will be good for a few years and I fully expect them to be back and ready to rock in the playoffs next year.  This is setting up to be a weird Western Semis. Dallas and LA are regulars but haven’t played each other and if Memphis wins they’ll play OKC renewing the old Vancouver/Seattle rivalry.  The east is more par for the course but the Boston/Miami series should be awesome.  I’ll do a full preview of round 2 once all match-ups are officially set.


Channel surfing 4/28

 8:00 -I start my television viewing at 8pm starting with The Office, not sports related I know but it is what I’m watching so deal with it.  This also means I missed most of the first half of Lakers/Hornets and the entire first half of Orlando/Atlanta.  Also the first 10 picks of the NFL draft, so really not missing much in my opinion. I’m also watching Preds/Nucks so that is what matters to me at least, and I can’t watch Magic/Hawks anyway.

8:30- I’ve been watching The Office for the most part and checking in on hockey and the draft for the most part.  Nice to see JJ Watt go to Houston, meaning he doesn’t have to play for the Vikings.  Minnie takes Ponder, big time reach and Detroit takes Fairley, pretty good DT combo for the future.  The guys down the hall are way too excited for this draft, unless they’re playing a drinking game.  2 huge mistakes have been made, Nate Solder and Tyron Smith.  Any tackle taken before Gabe Carimi is just a mistake.

9:00- The Office is over and was a decent but not great episode.  Since the hockey game is scoreless and in between periods I have no choice but to flip between Lakers/Hornets and the Draft. The Chargers take a DE from Illinois.  I’m sorry but there were 2 other DEs in the Big Ten alone that were on the board that are better than that guy.  After 3 quarters the Lakers are up 69-57 on the Hornets. CP3 will need to go off for NO to make a comeback. Meanwhile on NBA TV it’s a 3-point game. Yeah ESPN really couldn’t afford to not show a 30 for 30 right now instead of that game.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again all NBA playoff games should be on national TV.  Coming up I’ll be writing an article on how the NBA can be improved and trust me that will be in there.  Atlanta beats Orlando and moves on to face Chicago.  Man how far has Orlando fallen over the past 2 years? From the finals to being knocked out in the first round to a team that just doesn’t try some nights.  It’s too bad because I love watching Dwight Howard play, but I do like the Hawks well rounded crunch time 5. One of those teams that have multiple options but they lack heart and Chicago has no trouble with that, it should be a quick series.

9:10-LA is crushing NO but fortunately hockey is back on.  Thank goodness because I have little interest in the draft.  As I stated in my last post I don’t like the airtime the draft gets when were in the throws of 2 all-time great playoffs in the NBA and NHL.  Pekka Rinne is being The Man for Nashville right now. Probably the most underrated goalie in the NHL.  To the draft, how did Da’Quan Bowers fall this far? He’s the best pass rusher in the draft.  NEWSFLASH, Peyton Hillis loves Jesus, good for him.  SUN DROP AD!!!!! Bottled in Sauk Prairie at the Celo bottling company.  In the NHL Nashville needs to start lighting these guys up, and just as I say that Vancouver scores and lead 1-0.

9:30-The Lakers continue to pound NO, just waiting for Dallas/Portland at this point on that front. Nashville goes on the PP and things are shaping up well for the Packers in the draft.  With the win the Lake show moves on, expected they are a very talent team, understatement, and I would love to see them face Dallas for the first time in the playoffs.  Nashville fails to convert on the PP.

9:45-Best TV viewing of the night so far. Nash/Van and Dal/Port on at the same time but then we head to intermission #2 with Vancouver up 1-0. So Dallas/Portland it is with occasional looks at the draft.  Evenflow is playing over the air at the draft, awesome.  Dallas just looks awful right now.  You know what is not awful, Dallas’ plus/minus in crunch time.  They have the top 4 players in all the NBA in crunch time plus/minus.  This is mind boggling to me.  I just don’t get it but I guess it explains how they ended up with the 3 seed.  I’m starting to get juiced for the Packers’ pick in the draft mostly because Gabe Carimi is continuing to fall and if the Pack pick him up it would be epic.

10:00- Dallas made a mini-run but still looks pretty bad tonight they trail 27-19 after the first quarter.  In the 3rd period Nashville looks about as bad as Dallas and trail 1-0 with Vancouver going on the power play.  At the draft things continue to look good for the Packers, Baltimore didn’t get their pick in on time so still waiting on that.  Nashville had an opportunity for a shorty but couldn’t put it away but might have bothered Bobby-Lu just enough on the follow through. Dallas still looks like garbage and with only 4 picks left until the Packers are up my hopes might be getting just a little too high for some magic.

10:15- OK the night basically hangs on this next pick in the draft. The Bears top need is O-line and Gabe Carimi is still on the board if he goes there I’ll be really quite sad. I really hope they screw this up.  Nashville continues to struggle but is hanging in there down only 1. While I was tuned out Dallas made a charge and is only down 35-29 with 8 minutes left in the half.  And the worst just happened, the Bears took Carimi.  The Bears still suck.  And with the ensuing picks the Packers went from looking great to not having many options left. Whatever, they’re world champs.

10:30 – Darn NFL draft grabbing my attention! Dallas mad a monster run and leads 41-37 with 4 minutes left in the half.  Preds still down 1 late in that one.  I’ll go to that soon but the Packers are on the clock. If the Packers just let time run out, can New England make their pick? I mean it is only supposed to be the first round tonight, intriguing.  20.5 seconds left in Vancouver and Weber can’t make magic again.  A loss on the road in game one is not awful, they’ll have better nights offensively and defensively. At the draft the packers pick Derek Sherrod an OT from Mississippi St. This makes that Bears pick all that much more disappointing. Either way he’ll look to play on the right side if Bulaga beats out Clifton.  Otherwise he’ll just be a solid developmental back up.  How did Da’quan Bowers fall from 1 overall to out of the first round? Whoever picks him up will be in luck. Overall thoughts on the first round: Cam Newton is #1 and that’s OK, JJ Watt and Gabe Carimi of the Badgers both got picked, JJ higher than most probably thought and Gabe lower than most and to the Bears.  I’m comfortable wit the Packers pick. Why? Because they’re world champs that’s why.  They also have players coming back off injury, which could make them even better. Super Bowl XLVI or bust.

10:45 - Now that the draft is over and the hockey game is also over time to concentrate on basketball right, wrong. The game is at half with Dallas leading Portland 52-43. You know what that means. That’s right everyone’s favorite a running diary of the 2nd half! I’m going to do that as a separate post so look out for that.


Back in action

So I know its been awhile since my last post but trust me it is not for lack of interest, enthusiasm or dedication.  I over the past few days I've had some quote unquote "off the field" issues to deal with and just simply haven't had time to post anything.  What's disappointing is that there have been so many good things to talk about.  I'll do my best to touch on a variety of topics to update you on my stances.

Brewers- I honestly believe that that when Greinke is good to go that the Brewers should bench Yovani Gallardo at least briefly because he has been awful in all but one game this year.  A 3-3 home stand was disappointing to say the least. Need to now bounce back on the road trip.

Titan Baseball- After getting swept by Point the Titans find themselves in a fight for the final playoff spot more than a conference title at this point.  Jeremy Rubens hasn't pitched in 2 weeks now.  Methinks he might be injured.  In game 1 of the series Coach Lechnir started Sean Grabig. Why?  He has pitched twice before that game this year and was pretty bad in those games and awful in this one.  With the Titan's perceived depth at that position the fact that Grabig started is mind-boggling.

NBA Basketball:  These playoffs are really fun.  I'm sticking with my Boston/OKC pick and I am just in awe of Kevin Durant at this point in time.

NHL Hockey:  These playoffs are also really fun.  My predators moved on.  Vancouver did its job taking out Chicago which is always nice.  Just so many overtime games and more penalty shots than I've seen in my life time aside from the Might Ducks movies.

NFL:  Lock-out aside (trust me that column is on its way, possibly as soon as tomorrow) I really could care less about the NFL right now.  I'll only pay attention to the first pick, the packers pick and any badgers picked in the draft.  I just don't think the NFL warrants that much attention given that there are regular season games in baseball on right now and NBA and NHL PLAYOFFS on.  The NFL does not deserve this much attention.  It just goes to show the hubris of the NFL that they would air the first round of their draft against a full slate of MLB  games, 3 NBA playoff games and an NHL playoff game, in prime time none the less.  But it can get away with it.  Why? Because most of this country is irrationally NFL crazy and it makes a ton of money.  The irony is, they have so much money but they can't figure out how to divide it fairly.

Alright so that's where I'm at in a nutshell.  Tonight I might do another channel surfing piece given all that is going on.  Tomorrow I'll have a Titan Baseball series preview as they take on the conference leading UW-Whitewater Warhawks in a 4 game set over the weekend.  I might have a more in depth look at the Brewers and/or an article on the NFL lockout as well. We'll see.

Glad to be back.

Friday, April 22, 2011

UW-Oshkosh’ Series Review: At UW-Stout 4/21-22

Series: (6-7, 7-6, 6-1, 8-5)
Record: 3-1
RAPG: 4.75
RSPG: 6.75
Diff: +2

Who’s Hot: Luke Westphal: 9 innings pitched allowed only 1 unearned run, gave up only 4 hits and one walk and got an incredible 16 strikeouts.  All this despite his defense giving 4 extra outs to Stout.

Who’s Not: Phil Schreiber:  Schreiber pitched 8 solid innings but was responsible for 6 of the 7 runs that the Blue Devils scored in game 1.  His defense didn’t help him much by committing 2 errors in the bottom of the ninth. 

I could have also added the Titan Defense and Jeremy Rubens to the who’s not list. Titans averaged 2.5 errors per game in the series.  They haven’t gone a game without an error since March 26, when they were in Fort Myers Florida.  For the season UWO averages just under 2 errors per game.  It’s just tough to win ball games when your pitchers need to consistently get 29 outs instead of the customary 27.  Not only that but errors are coming at crucial times.  The 2 mentioned above in game one as well as 1 in the bottom on the ninth in game 2 that almost cost the Titans that game as well.  Unfortunately I’ve come expect that from this team, what I didn’t expect was for the Titans best pitcher by far, Jeremy Rubens, to not take the mound once this series.  What, is coach Lechnir saving him for Wednesday against Point?  Is Thursday or Friday til Wednesday not long enough?  What about even just coming out of the pen in game one to stop the bleeding? Apparently not.  On the bright side Westphal might have pitched himself into the 2 slot in this rotation.  He’s had some phenomenal games.  Hopefully Rubens is good to go Wednesday and maybe Westphal can match Williams as well.  As I said in the preview of this series anything less than a sweep would be disappointing and this series was disappointing to say the least.  The struggles in the 9th inning and the porous defense are the main problems for this team right now.

Record: 20-6 (9-5)
RAPG: 3.04
RSPG: 6.35
Diff: +3.3

It is just so disappointing that a team that scores more that twice what it opponents score per game is settling into third place in the conference.  It’s a good news, bad news situation with what happened in the Stevens Point/Superior series.  The good news is that Point got inexplicably whomped 12-2 in their series finale by the last place Yellow Jackets, which keeps the Titans just a game back of Point for 2nd and 2 games back of UWW for 1st in the conference.  The bad news, if they wouldn’t have blown game one of their own series the Titans would be tied with Point right now and just a game back of UWW with 2 games left against Point and 4 games left against UWW.  Being the pessimist that I am I see this as more of a blown opportunity rather than a fortunate break.  Obviously this week is of the utmost importance for the Titans.  In my opinion going 4-2 this week would be the goal.  Anything better than that is just gravy.  The problem is Point has only Stout and Platteville left and UWW has 2 games against UWP and a 4 game set against LAX in addition to the series in Oshkosh.  Lacrosse might give UWW trouble but Point really has a cakewalk.  At the end of the day the Titans’ fate is in their hands.  If they play as well as they think they can game in and game out and take care of business this week and they can take home their first solo crown since 2007.

Next Series: Wednesday April 27th @ UWSP double header begins at 1pm, no media.


Thursday, April 21, 2011

Mavs V. Blazers Game 3 Running Diary 4/21/11

I didn’t decide to do this until the game had started so I’ll get caught up real quick.  After Dallas hit the first bucket of the game the Blazers go on a 10-0 run due to Mavs turnovers and a ridiculously good fast break.  Normally I don’t go crazy over teams that run the fast break well in the NBA because pretty much everyone does.  Few do it as well as Miami but even that is a marginal advantage, especially considering how much of a detriment it is if a team can’t run a break (See: The Milwaukee Bucks).  The most dangerous teams are those that not only can run a break but also really are good at not allowing transition buckets and have multiple options in the half court offense.  This might seem obvious but that doesn’t make it any less true.  Just look at our champions over the past decade, the Lakers 5 times, the Spurs 3 times, the ’04 Pistons, the ’06 Heat and the ’08 Celtics.  The exception that proves the rule here is Miami, but even then sometimes DWade and Shaq is enough to get things done.  The Lakers are underrated defensively and by virtue of both talent and offensive system have an abundance of offensive options in the half court.  Ditto for the Spurs.  The Pistons and Celtics were/are both notorious for stingy defense all around and could make things happen in the half court offensively.  That’s why my NBA finals pick for this year is Boston over OKC.  Both are the best in their conference in transition defense and I think Boston has more options in the half court, not necessarily better scorers individually but I think Peirce, Allen and Garnett with Rondo facilitating is better, not by much but still better, than Durant and Westbrook with Westbrook having to both score and facilitate.

Alright it took me all of the first quarter to get that rant over with so let’s start things up in quarter number 2 with Portland up 28-26.

Wes Matthews has 16 points already for Portland.  Maybe it’s just a case of someone not being appreciated in his own backyard but I still don’t buy Matthews as all that good of a player.  I saw the guy play in high school and college and what I saw didn’t impress me all that much.  Between he, Jerel McNeal and Dominic James at Marquette McNeal was easily the best player but McNeal’s in the D-league now.  Just shows how different NBA and NCAA are.  Maybe Wes just works his butt off and gets that much better when all he has to focus on is basketball.  It might just be good NCAA guys are better time managers and when that advantage disappears, they lose their edge and the athletes emerge in the pro game.  Just a thought.

Second Quarter:

8:44: Geico commercial with Stevens Point again, still awesome.

8:00 Dallas leads 39-34, cut down on turnovers and hit some shots and that’ll happen.

5:26 Portland charges back at takes a 44-43 lead

5:05 I’m not sure if Tyson Chandler knows how to set a legal screen

1:11 Jason Kidd, why do you throw a pass to half-court with under 2 minutes left in the half?

:50 Cold-blooded shot by Dirk

:20 Matthews is up to 22, not sure what somehow clicked for this guy the pro level but it certainly seems like its working.

:00 Kidd jacks up another long jumper, too many of those tonight.

Half: The guys in the studio just broke down LeBron’s fast break mastery.  Simply unbelievable, to me he is the best player in the game right now.  My top five is LeBron, Kevin Durant, Dwight Howard, Derrick Rose and Chris Paul.  I was debating between Dirk, Carmelo, and Kobe as well.  Dirk and Melo just don’t cut it defensively and Kobe is just too old. Remember this is a right now list not all time.  Kobe is in an interesting situation right now where he’s climbing the All-Time list but falling on the right now list.  If I were fielding a team of five to bet my life on to win a game against the Monstars it would be Howard, James, Durant, Paul and Ray Allen.  Again this is right now.  Same scenario but from players all-time at their peak would be: Magic, Jordan, Bird, Hakeem and Kareem.  That team couldn’t be stopped in the post.  By the way Jordan is on the team so we’d win by his force of will anyway.  That’s the Jordan effect.

3rd Quarter (I promise to pay more attention to the game rather than ranting)

12:00 Dirk starts us off with a dead-eye 3-pointer.

9:52 Terry gets a three to tie things up at 54

7:49 Chandler love taps Wallace going for the ball and gets whistled for a foul.  Complete homer call, that foul on Chandler is incidental contact.  Get him next time down the floor when he sets yet another moving screen but not on that.

6:19 Shawn Marion sighting

4:54 Dirk shows what makes him such a mismatch, just takes Wallace to the rack, draws the foul, textbook.

4:23 NBA refs are really bad at calling charge/block fouls.  They can attend a clinic on that while Tyson Chandler learns to set a solid screen. (Enough of that? OK.)

3:37 We head to a break with the Blazers up 68-66 on a jumper by Aldridge.  While my doubts about Matthews might be off tonight but my wariness about Batum is being substantiated by the fact that he is -12 for the night. Yikes.

3:36 A FG by Portland is disallowed due to a shot clock violation that happened quite a while ago. Back to 66-66.

2:03 Awful defense by the Mavs, no one within 5 feet of Roy when he laid it up.

:12 I don’t see why you’d have Dirk in but not Kidd at this point, either play the final 2 minutes of the quarter hard or rest your guys for the fourth, don’t go half way.

:00 We head to the fourth with the Blazers up 75-72. For the 4th quarter I think I’m going to add the score after the time.  A capital D following the score will mean Dallas is leading and P will mean Portland is up.

I’m going to take this break in the action to express my views on the other games that happened today.  

MIA 100 - PHI 94: Closer than I would have thought but outcome as expected
CHI 88 - IND84: Another close one here.  Not sure why Indiana is giving Chicago so many problems but a win is a win

4th Quarter

11:22 75-72 P: Terry just got hit-up with a BS technical, he was put in a tough situation with fans, refs and opposing players right on top of him and he just moved Batum out of the way so he could get out of that situation and he gets T’d up.  FYI the free throw was missed so as always, Ball Don’t Lie.

9:59 82-74 P: Batum hits a three, is still -6.  Everyone on the floor for the Mavs right now has a negative plus/minus, not a good sign for them.

8:47 85-74 P: Carlise calls a time out because apparently Jason Terry forgot that the ball scores in basketball.  I mean who can blame him, I don’t remember really basic stuff I learned in 4th grade either.

8:05 85-74 P: Another thing Tyson Chandler doesn’t know how to do, take a charge, gets foul number 5.

7:24 87-77 P: Dallas runs a terrible break resulting a missed jumper and Chadler fouls out on another Tiky-Tak foul 90 feet away from the hoop.  Clearly, the soccer moms in the rose garden aren’t affecting the refs at all.

6:00 89-81 P: Kidd shows frustration with officials, I don’t blame him, they’ve been pretty bad.  On a different note, why is JJ Barea in the Mavs crunch time 5?  They really need to find a small forward in the off season. (That might just mean Butler coming back)

5:22 89-82 P: For what seems like the 20th time the Blazers dunk after a foul is called and the play is over.  There are bigger fish to fry but I’d like to see the NBA cut down on this.

4:00 91-84 P: Just found out game five of this series will be on NBA TV.  I really wish all these games were on ESPN/ABC or TNT even if that means playing more games in one day.  If it could have more of a NCAA tourney feel in that way I think it would be an improvement.  I would also like to see ESPN do all Eastern Conference games and TNT do all Western Conference games. Once the conference finals roll around the eastern conference finals would be on ABC and the western finals would be on CBS (parlaying off of the NCAA partnership between turner and CBS).  Then once you get to the finals, the games the Eastern team hosts would be on ABC and the games at the Western team would be on CBS.  There are obvious hurdles to this system but I just think that A) all major championships should air on network TV and B) I’d like to see each station have a bias to their own conference to create some interesting discussion as to which conference is better. Again this would probably never happen but I can dream can’t I.

1:25 95-87 P: Portland took control over the past few minutes and look like their going to cruise to a victory.

:43 95-90 P: Dallas took way too long that possession to get a shot off.

:22 95-92 P: Kidd hits the longest of 2s.  In live action I thought it was a 2 but to me further review showed it was a 3 but they couldn’t overturn it.  Can’t blame them here, it doesn’t get much closer than that.

:13 95-92 P: If the refs from the Texas-Arizona game were calling this one there would have been a 5 second call here.  Alas Miller goes to the line to shoot 2 after a reach in foul.

:9.6 97-92 P: Miller hits them both and it will take a miracle for Dallas to win this one.

:00 97-92 P: Kidd misses a 3 and that will do it.

Final Thoughts:

This is easily my favorite series of the playoffs.  Every game is competitive and now so is the series (unlike the MIA/PHI and CHI/IND series).  After watching this game, I really don’t know how Dallas got the 3 seed.  I mean aside from Dirk the only players I like on this team are Kidd and Terry and I even have some reservations about Kidd.  To be clear I still root for some of these other guys, Tyson Chandler in particular, but I just don’t think they’re all that good.  When JJ Barea, Brendan Hayward or Shawn Marion is in your crunch time 5, it is not a good thing. In fact, it’s a really bad thing.  Dirk is clearly carrying this team more than any one other individual carries a team in this league.  Without Dirk the Mavs would be the Cavs, plain and simple.  As for Portland, they’re a very good team made up of a bunch of very good players.  When Roy is going this team’s depth just improves by leaps and bounds.  Heck, some cat named Chris Johnson played 4 minutes of +10 basketball and grabbed 3 boards in four minutes.  Patty Mills didn’t even play.  Here is this game in a nutshell: Dirk and Jason Terry combined for 54 of the teams 92 points. THAT’S OVER HALF A TEAMS POINTS FROM TWO GUYS. No one else scored in double digits.  On the flipside, Portland had 4 guys in double digits with no one scoring more than 25 points.  That’s team basketball, that’s winning basketball.  If Dallas doesn’t figure that out they will lose this series, plain and simple.


P.S. Inside Trax on the post game shows reveals that NBA coaches do absolutely nothing.  Doug Collins was preaching about teamwork and no one was paying attention.  During the game he and Coach Spo just traded generic encouragement clich├ęs. Awesome.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Series Preview UW-Oshkosh Baseball @ UW-Stout 4 Games 4/21-22

First things first, lets see if and when this series actually happens.  Not sure how much snow the western part of the state got but I’m pretty sure its safe to say that if nothing else the field will be nothing if not wet tomorrow at noon. But we'll continue as if it will go off as planned.

Last meeting: 4 games May 1-2 2010 
Titans went 3-1 (7-6, 5-4, 12-11, 6-9 (10))
This was quite possibly the quirkiest series ever. UWO won the first game on a fielding error and the second on a bases loaded walk, there were several fielding errors for both teams, no surprise.  In game 2 all of Stout’s runs were scored without the aid of a hit.  Just weird.  Not much can be taken from last year’s series; UWO is a much different team. The Titans 2 best pitchers on this year’s team weren’t on the team last year and UWO has new hitters in the 3 and 4 holes, completely changing the line-up.  So instead let's look at how these teams have done so far this season and last time out in conference.

UWO Overall
Record: 17-5 (6-4)
ERA: 2.32
RSPG: 6.27
Diff: +3.95

Obviously the Titans are having a pretty good season.  They’re currently in 3rd place in the conference and ranked 17th nationally.  But a .953 fielding percentage is worrisome, especially considering how much this team relies on pitching.  UWO has only scored more than 5 runs once in conference play but has allowed more than 4 only once as well.  When the pitching staff is this good you should be better than 6-4 in conference play.  This weekend is a big opportunity to jump up in the conference race if they can get a sweep.

Last time out: Split with Stevens Point
Lost game 1: 2-10 Won game 2: 3-1

(We’re going to disregard UWO’s dismantling of Marian because it says nothing about this team we didn’t already know.) A split on the road against a tough opponent is good but not great.  Coach Lechnir obviously wanted to give his team the best shot at getting at least one win by not pitching Rubens against Williams.   In game one Williams did his thing; Rubens did his in game 2.  Just a case of each teams Ace dominating the opposition.  UWO actually lead that first game after 6 innings but the wheels just fell off, not a good outing for Mrkvicka.  In theory UWO should do better in these 2 game sets because the can pitch both Schrieber and Rubens but that just didn’t happen this time around.

Stout Overall
Record: 9-15 (4-8)
ERA: 7.24
RSPG: 6.3
Diff: -.9

Obviously Stout does not have the strongest pitching staff.  Their top guys are OK but a lack of depth is a huge issue.  They actually score at a better rate that UWO but really both numbers are likely a little inflated because Stout’s home field is a sandbox.  Nelson field is basically the Coors field of the WIAC.  They’re also a young team with only 5 seniors on the roster. 

Last time Out: Took one of four from UWW (14-8, 8-13, 5-11, 5-9)

I mean is this the Stout Baseball or basketball team.  Both love to win by simply outscoring their opponent.  The fact that they took one of four doesn’t say too much but it did help the Titans cause.  The Blue Devils shelled Riley Tincher who is one of the best pitchers in the WIAC.  Jeff Donovan didn’t have much luck either giving up 8 runs in 8 innings but Stout's pitchers did even worse.  Game 3 was much better for the UWW staff, only 2 of the 5 runs were earned and Lee came in for game 4 and gave up 5 in 5 but Roberts and Coe shut Stout down.  I’m not sure if this says more about Stout’s hitting or UWW’s pitching. Probably neither, it’s probably more about Nelson field.  There were 5 home runs in game one alone and 8 in the four game set.  For some perspective, UWO has 2 on the season both hit by Alex Mullendore.  (possibly more important question- Can Stout do the same thing to UWO's pitchers that they did to UWW's?)

Final Thoughts:

It will be interesting to see what wins out in this series.  I talked about the basketball team before and really this is very much like that series.  UWO will probably score more than it usually does, which will be nice to see, but will the staff get roughed up a bit, and how will they react if they do?  Tincher and Donovan are every bit as good as Rubens and Schrieber if not better but I do think UWO has better depth behind their top 2 guys.  (This makes me excited for the UWW series in 2 weeks). The defense will have to be there in this series, the Titans can’t afford to give the Stout offense any extra outs.  Oshkosh cannot have this become a slugfest, they just don't have the fire power to play that kind of game.  They need to keep the ball in the ball park and not give Stout any extra outs.  If the Titans do that they should have success against the Blue Devils.  What this series boils down to is, will good pitching beat good hitting?  With Point likely to sweep Superior and Whitewater having the week off the answer will have to be yes.  A sweep for UWO will get them to 10-4 just one game back of Point and UWW with 6 games left against those teams. If UWO hopes to get back in the chase for the WIAC championship they need nothing less than a sweep this weekend.

Other games in the WIAC:

Lacrosse @ Platteville (Key for both teams trying to steal a spot in the WIAC tourney)
Stevens Point @ Superior (Easy Sweep for the Pointers)
Concordia-Wisconsin @ Whitewater (NC)

Brewers Series Wrap. At Philly 4/18-20.

Record: 2-1
ERA: 2.1
RSPG: 5.4
Diff: +3.3

Who’s Hot: Ryan Braun 6 for 12, 3 RBI, 1 Homerun, 5 runs scored
Who’s Not: Rickie Weeks 3 for 15, 3 Strikeouts

Overall a strong series for The Crew, you win an extra inning game in which your defense struggled.  You beat one of, if not the best pitcher in all of baseball.  Your loss came at the hands of another one of the best pitchers in the league.  In the second two games the defense was much better and it was a pair of homeruns that cost you in the series finale.  Again taking 2 of 3 on the road against a team like this is an awesome outcome.  Also got a win on National TV, which doesn’t hurt.

Record: 9-9
ERA: 3.08
RSPG: 3.94
Diff: +.864

Nothing you can really point to that is really hurting the Brewers right now and remember Lucroy is coming off an injury that kept him out of spring training, Hart is still out which, like him or not, leaves a huge hole both offensively and defensively in right field.  I mean as much as people like to rip on the guy he is an ALL-STAR.  Do you realize what an upgrade it will be to go from Kotsay/Almonte and even Tony Plush to Hart?  Not only that but when Grienke comes back the rotation will be even stronger.  If that allows Estrada to go into the bullpen then that part of the team gets much better as well.  Throw in Saito and possibly Hawkins and things are looking up.  A healthy Tony Plush can only help as well.

The Brewers on the pace at home and are 3 games under .500 on the road. That basically means they need to get a sweep against a weaker team to make up the pace. 

After a day off tomorrow they’ll start a 6 game home stand made up of a 3 game series v. Houston followed by a 3 game set v. Cincy.  Both series go night-night-day but the second Houston game is at 6pm CT. Look for a 4-2 home stand to keep the Crew on pace at home.


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Channel Surfing 4/19

So my first idea for a blog entry is called channel surfing. In these posts I’ll discuss the different things I watched/kept an eye on that particular day/night.  This will be when there are a lot of different things going on and I can’t simply focus on one thing.   These will be far from well-crafted articles and more like random thoughts at the end of the day.  You can expect actual articles as well as running diaries and game reviews in the future, depending on how things pan-out.

Alright enough chit-chat lets get down to the Nitty Gritty:

My “night” started fairly early because of the snow storm happening in Oshkosh kept me indoors.  (That’s right a snow storm in mid April)

4:30pm PTI: Nothing really to report here the usual from Wilbon and TK.

5:00pm Sports Center: Enjoyed the insider/outsider segment.  I didn’t watch the schedule reveal but that is what the Internet is for.  I am not one to sit here and break down the Packers’ schedule game by game but I will give a brief synopsis and thoughts

  • As is customary for the reigning Super Bowl champ they open on a Thursday v. New Orleans.  I like this.  Great match-up, at home, extra time to rest and prepare for Week two
  • Besides the Division foes, they play the NFC south, which is pretty tough and the AFC west, which is pretty easy.  Their 2 wild card games are V. St. Louis and @ New York Giants they balance each other out.
  • Bye week is Week 8, break at the mid-way point is nice
  • Open the season at home, close the regular season with 2 home games (1 on Christmas 1 on New Years), Play on Thanksgiving v Detroit.  Love all of that.
  • 5 National games: opening night, 2 Sunday Nights, 1 Monday night and Thanksgiving.  I’ll take it but another Monday night game would have been nice.
  • Overall a nice looking schedule but any schedule looks pretty good when you’re World Champs. 
  • All of this is rendered null and void if the lockout is not resolved. (Expect an article on that some time soon)

6pm Start of Brewer Game:
I spent most of my next hours watching this.  Did end up tuning out near the end to watch Knicks/Celtics, more on that later.  Great win for the Crew.  Anytime you can take one from the reigning Cy Young champ and the ace on the league favorite it’s a good win.  But this one was real nice for a few more reasons. It came off another win in which the bullpen was used up and Randy Wolf was able to go 6 strong allowing most of the bullpen to rest.  I’m always a long-term guy but even more so in baseball. The rule of thumb to make the playoffs is taking 2 out every 3 games at home and going .500 on the road. With a win tomorrow the Crew will be .5 games off that pace, which is explainable by the Pirate’s rainout.  Also vastly improved defense and clutch hitting tonight.  All of this without the starting right fielder and best starting pitcher, things are looking up.  All that being said, a 9-0 game is a blowout so I switched to…

Approx. 7:30pm Knicks/Celtics:

Caught bits and pieces of the 3rd and 4th quarters of this one and all of the final 2 minutes.  Solid game.  It’s tough for me to get into a pro game late in the game though.  Ray Allen did his thing, Carmelo showed why he’s one of the best in the league and Boston showed why they are still dangerous.  They have so many offensive options coming down the stretch that score in different ways. KG inside or from 18 feet, Paul Pierce outside or going to the hoop and Ray Allen from range.  Knicks fans should not be discouraged by this game.  Both Billups and Stoudamire were out down the stretch and that is a problem.  I like Toney Douglass more than Billups at this point but even then a rotation is good. Melo had to do everything himself and that’s not going to win ball games.  The Knicks should get at least 1 in MSG.

8:30pm Mavericks v. Blazers

Full disclosure, I’ve been a Mavs fan since middle school all because of Dirk. I do also really like the Blazers because I like teams with a starting 5 with no holes.  OKC and Denver also fit this category.  I spent the first 3 quarters writing this post so I wasn’t paying that much attention but it seemed like every time I looked up the Mavs hit a 3 and then Portland got a lay-up.  I’ll do a mini-diary for this forth quarter, just recording anything that catches my interest.  Times will be marked in time left in the game.

10:06- Portland has a good frontcourt but I think their backcourt is way overrated. Particularly Matthews, Fernandez and Batum.
9:09 Apparently Jason Kidd is throwing up. Gross.
8:50 Dirk hits a sweet shot to put the Mavs up 80-76
8:24 Dallas on a mini-run after Peja hits a 3. They play Whoomp! There it is over the PA.
7:17 JJ Barea is the Puerto Rican Earl Boykins
5:43 Commercial break- Gieco commercial mentions Stevens Point. Nice!
1:26 I was distracted by Words with Friends for a bit but Dallas pulls away 99-86
28.1 Foul on Portland, please just let the game end. Also found out the next 2 games in
            this series will be on TNT.  Liking that.
0:00 That’ll do it. Dallas wins 101-89. Dallas leads series 2-0. Lots of doubters coming
into this series, I was not among them. Not saying the Blazers can’t comeback but
Dallas did take care of business at home.

Well that was fun, at least for me.                         

11:55pm Time for bed.  Final thoughts from other things going on that I didn’t watch.
  • Admirals lose 3-2 in overtime after leading 2-0 with 4:09 left in the game. Trail the series 2-1 still in Texas. Bummer.
  • Blackhawks thump Vancouver. Just delaying the inevitable.
  • Sharks and Kings tied at 5 as I go to bed.  Pavelski with a goal in that one.
  • The Magic bounce back and beat Atlanta.  Somehow Dwight Howard has become the most underrated player in the NBA.

Streak for the Cash update:

Man U to win: Loss
TB Rays to win: Win
Mavs to win: Win

Current Streak: 2
Longest Streak: 8
Record for Month: 26-17 (.605)


Me as a sports fan

So after my first post I realized I told you all a good deal about the blog but not very much about me.  I'll make-up for that now.  My name is Tyler Thrune and I grew up in Prairie du Sac, Wisconsin which is a town of 3,000 about 30 minutes outside of Madison.  I attended Sauk Prairie High School where I played Soccer and Basketball my freshman year but was not able to continue my athletic career after that.  I obviously continue to love sports and I do hope someday to coach.  I am in my 3rd year of studies at UW-Oshkosh. I am an elementary education major with minors in Spanish, Social Studies and Radio/TV/Film.  I am a sports broadcaster, current program director and future station manager at WRST (the student radio station at UW-O).  I have also done broadcasts for Titan TV, the campus TV station. I also work for WRPQ and the Sauk Prairie Eagles Sports Network back in Sauk Prairie broadcasting high school basketball.  I am a fan of all things Wisconsin sports.  The Wisconsin Badgers are my favorite team and my favorite sport is basketball.  My parents have UW Men's Basketball season tickets and I use them as often as I can.  I love everything UW sports stand for.  Hard work, mental toughness and consistency. Due to my parents success coaching and my sister's success playing women's basketball I have a healthy respect for women's athletics while understanding why some people may not, and also understanding what makes men's and women's athletics different.  So it is here again where you may not find what I write about Badger Women's Basketball all to interesting but I'll have another post soon enough that might tickle your fancy.  I'll also give updates as to how my sports franchises in the video games I play are doing and update you how I did on my Streak for the Cash that day, just for fun.  A few things about me outside of sports: I am a practicing Catholic, I enjoy musical theater, most of the music I listen to was made prior to 1998, the TV shows I make sure I watch are The Simpsons, Family Guy, The Cleveland Show, Glee, Community, The Office, The Ricky Gervais Show and Saturday Night Live.  As you can see I am a big fan of comedy and not much for drama, although I'll occasionally take in Law & Order or other procedural crime dramas.  Same goes for movies, I'll almost never watch a drama, but I'll take in an action flick (particularly comic book movies) and I am always up for a good comedy.  I love wit, clever puns, dry humor and most dead pan comedy, over the top is not my style.  In my opinion the best comedy is one that requires some thought.  I think I enjoy comedy so much because I am a very serious person.  I loved Seasame Street growing up. That's all I can think of for now. I hope all of what I've said shows in my writing and that anything I forgot to mention will also become obvious upon reading the blog. TTFN (Ta-Ta For Now).

Tip-off, Kick-off, start your engines, puck drop, tee-off, whatever you want to call it let's get things started

After careful consideration I have decided to enter the blogoshere.  As described in the "About this blog" section this blog will concentrate on sports, specifically Wisconsin sports.  That being said I will touch on national stories when I feel so inclined.  I will also comment on the coverage of sports.  I will bring in some things outside of sports or larger than sports when I feel it merits addressing.  Some of my writing may intrigue you, some of it may not.  I will talk about major sports like NCAA Football and Basketball, NFL, MLB and NBA but I will also spend much of my time on some smaller or more obscure things like NHL, AHL and College Hockey, NASCAR, Soccer and some Golf and Tennis.  Also much of my posts will be about Division 3 athletics focusing on my alma mater, The University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh and the WIAC conference in general.  So if one post doesn't catch your interest maybe the next one will.  I will also try to incorporate interviews/conversations with some people who have a certain level of expertise in certain areas. This will not be a daily review blog where I wax poetic about every game.  I might have posts about single games but don't expect one for each contest.  I'm new to this and so I'll be working out the kinks early on.  I'll also probably have longer more frequent posts to start simply because I have many thoughts I haven't had the opportunity to share yet.  Also I'm just excited about this now so I'll churn out more due to that excitement.  Some of my influences are: Everyone at WTSO in Madison, Tom Oates and Andy Baggot of the Wisconsin State Journal, Jeff Potrykus of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinal, Bill Simmons, Tony Kornheiser and Mike Wilbon of ESPN and Jason Whitlock.  We'll see how this goes. Until next time...