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Archive for the ‘NCAA Basketball’ Category

I like the fact that 106.7 the Fan has been focusing so much on the Caps of late.  Obviously today Georgetown and George Mason play some very big college basketball games, but the Caps is truly what we have in this town to talk about until the Nats start playing baseball, and after that, the Caps will still be what we truly have to talk about.

Much of the discussion of late has centered around which goalie will be starting for us come playoff time.  Boudreau has said all along that he would know who would be the #1 with about 20 games left.  Well, that idea is obviously out the window as Neuvy played against Detroit on Wednesday night after Holtby was part of another victory, this against Montreal, on Tuesday night.  Some may say, the logical reason to switch goalies against Detroit was because of the Caps having to play back-to-back games.  But I think, if you watch Holtby’s play against Montreal and Chicago, both victories for us granted, you could see his play slip just a little.  His rebound control was a little wild

Hendricks celebrates Knuble's goal against the Habs which provided the ultimate margin of victory, 4-2, on a night which saw the Caps win their 9th consecutive game.

and he got caught out of position on 1 goal in each game. To me, that alone was reason enough to go to Neuvy against the Red Wings.

Neuvy made a lot of saves against Detroit, but it’s clear that the save he didn’t make, in allowing a soft shot to beat him inside, top-shelf, was the play that most people watching that game would take away from the night.  Granted, Detroit is better than any team we had beaten in our previous nine games and they played a strong game.  I think Neuvy was good, but not great and we stayed in the game due to our defensive resilience an opportunistic offense.

I guess what I’m thinking is that we should expect to see Varly play soon and if he gets hot, I think Boudreau will start the playoffs with him.  As we have all seen the last two years, Boudreau trusts him in big spots even though I don’t think Varly played all that great in games 5-7 against Montreal last year.  All Varly needs to do is give Boudreau the slightest glimmer of hope that he is healthy and I bet the Russian will be between the pipes at the beginning of the playoffs. Besides, Boudreau and GMGM have all the confidence in the world that if Varly gets hurt or doesn’t play well that Neuvy can indeed step in and lead the team.  If Varly never gets himself healthy, Neuvy will be the guy and Holtby will back up.  That’s just my gut, but obviously I’m always wrong about whatever I write on this blog and Boudreau has a flare for the unconventional.

Double vision: The Hoyas have entered their last 3 tournaments with very high expectations, being seeded #2 twice and last year a #3 seed.  This year most people are picking them to lose in the 1st round again despite the return of Chris Wright to the lineup.  For some reason, I have a good feeling about tonight’s game.  Maybe we can slip through the cracks and make some magic this March.  On the other hand, I fear for George Mason who everyone is picking to beat Villanova although a Patriots victory would make me very happy on many different levels.

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Sadly, Cornell’s run ended last night.  We played hard in the 2nd half and I thought when we got it down to 6, we had a chance, but it wasn’t to be.  Our boys can hold their heads high though. As for me, now that Syracuse, who I was rooting against, is out, the tournament is dead to me.

Double vision: The Caps played better than I thought they would last night.  Losing a shootout after having  won one the previous night in such dramatic fashion is no big deal. What is worth noting though, is that Varlamov played much better last night especially after allowing the 1st goal on which his positioning was a little off in my opinion.  After that though, he came up with some huge saves that kept things close. 

On defense, I thought Mike Green and John Erskine had strong games and of course, props to Carslon for scoring his 1st goal – way to fill the center of the ice dude!

On the offensive end, we woke up after Boudreau gave the boys a tongue-lashing half way through the 1st period.  All 4 lines were forechecking pretty well, but I was particularly impressed with the 3rd line.  Man, how good is Jason Chimera?  He always seems like the fastest dude on the ice. 

 This was one of the games I had thought the Caps would not give a crap about when I looked at the final 12 games of the season, but all things considered, the defense was not bad, the penalty kill was sharp and Varlamov was pretty good – all things we should be happy about as the playoffs draw ever closer with each passing game.

(By the way, I made Chad Dukes chuckle on 106.7 the fan two afternoon’s ago when we were talking about the Caps.  I’m back in baby!)

Triple vision:  It is exciting to me, as I’m sure it is to many others that it seems like Leonsis is settling on a deal to buy the Wizards.  I think it would be great if everything gets settled before the season is over so that the team can begin sifting through the rubble right when the off-season begins, kinda like the Redskins did with Bruce Allen.

My hunch is that Leonsis will keep Saunders and Grunsfeld around since Leonsis will be new to owning an NBA team and will probably want to get his feet firmly planted before he starts making big management decisions.  And that’s probably the right move.

I hate to admit this, I mean really hate to admit it, but I agree with what Wilbon wrote yesterday about Andray Blatche.  The Wiz should have suspended him, at least for a game.  Whether his insubordination was not as bad as intially thought, people who play for this team have to learn that you have to listen to the coach.  Blatche is no different. 

If you put this incident combined with the numerous reports that Arenas sometimes has carte-blanche when he was around the Verizon Center, it sounds like Grunsfeld is the enabler.  He is the only person who has been closely associated with the team throughout all the Arenas and  Blatche incidents.  You gotta lay the hammer down, especially when the season is as dismal as it has been.

I didn’t watch much of the Wizards’ loss to Indiana, but I think that we might be breaking a record tonight against Charlotte that none of us thought, in a million years, would have been broken this year after we watched that 1st game in Dallas in what now seems like 5 years ago.

Quadruple vision: I have to give props to ShannyAllan for re-signing Chris Wilson and continuing to strengthen the team from within.  I think it’s a good football move and a good move for team morale when guys see that if they perform well they will get rewarded by our organization, not another team.  I think all of us who have watched the Redskins for the last few years have seen that Wilson has great talent in getting to the passer and it just seems smart to have as many guys like this as you can on a team, especially in a 3-4 where someone who is a little lighter, like Wilson, should be able to excel, since in a 4-3, he does not have a real position, being too light to play DE and not having the overall game to play LB full-time.

Also, and I know this is old news, but ShannyAllan’s restructuring of Haynesworth and Hall’s contracts which accelerated their sigining bonuses into this year’s uncapped season was brilliant.  Now, when the cap returns, whenevr that may be, we won’t have to worry about these huge contract holding us back as most of the $$$ will be dished out this year.  I think these moves were not so much about giving a chance for Hall and Haynesworth to leave at season’s end, (although the Redskins could cut each of them now without any major cap hit), but more about continuing to give the tean financial flexibility in the future by not being anchored down by these two bloated deals.  Brilliant ShannyAllan.  Brilliant!!

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Cornell's Jon Jacques celebrates the Big Red's 87-69 dominating win over Wisconsin in the 2nd round of the NCAA tounrnament.

All of you would have said that I need to get my head checked if I told you only four days ago, that Georgetown and Maryland would both be out of the tournament and Cornell would still be dancing in the Sweet 16.  Hell, I would have gotten my head checked.

But truthfully, if you watched Cornell dismantly and absolutely dominate Wisconsin yesterday, you would see that there is nothing crazy about the Big Red getting ready to take on Kentucky this Thursday night.  They play excellent defense, they can shoot the hell out of the ball, their strong, they hustle and they run a very crisp offensive set that forces defense to rotate like crazy just to keep up with all the off-the ball motion.

A lot was daid during the broadcast about how experienced Cornell is and how muc hteam basketball they play.  This is a nice way of saying that the Big Red does not have a lot of talented players.  From watching them play these last two games, while it is true that Cornell has great chemistry on the court, they got some dudes who can play. 

Louis Dale is very quick and has a great drive to the basket.  He is great a playing the game at a bunch of different speeds.  He couldstart on a bunch of different teams in the Big East.  Ryan Wittman is not as quick, but has an excellent outside shot and plays the pick and roll very well and comes of screens extremely smoothly.  

Yes folks, Cornell is for real.  Let me put out my disclaimer.  When I went to Cornell, the big sport was hockey.  I went to a bunch of hockey games.  I only went to two basketball games while I was there because well, we stunk.  But I’m on board 100%.  It’s not like me to be a bandwagon type of fan, but that’s what I am now.

Marlyand’s loss yesterday stung because they played great in coming back in the 2nd half.  It reminded me of G’town’s loss to Syracuse at the Verizon Center earlier in the year.  Another tough tournament for D.C. all around.

Double vision: How awesome was Ovie’s 2nd goal.  How awesome was the pass?  How awesome was it to see Ovie aniticipate his

In his return from suspension, Ovie finishes off a brilliant pass from Nicklas Backstrom as the Caps beat Tampa 3-1 on Saturday night

 teammate’s play? How awesome was it to see Ovie accelerate pass Tampa’s defenders?  How awesome was it to see Ovie bury the shot in the back of the net? 

Really awesome. 

Other than that, the Caps played a very solid, if unspectacular game against Tampa.  Good defense and good goal-tending was the name of the game and for a Caps fan, that’s the kind of game you want to see us playing as the playoffs edge closer and closer. 

At this point, is there anyone who thinks Theo is not our #1 goalie heading into the playoffs?  Since the Olympic break, here is a breakdown of the goalies:

We have lost 3 straight games that Varly has started (Dallas, Tampa and Carolina) and a 5-4 squeaker over Tampa.  Theo meanwhile has beaten Tampa. Buffalo, the Rangers, Chicago, Carolina and Florida.  Theo has given up 11 goals in 6 starts while Varly has given up 13 in 4 starts.  Theo has not lost since the all-star break and Varly is 1-1-2.  Varly is getting better, Theo is playing great.

I think Varly should start against Pittsburgh this Wednesday to give him one more chance to prove that he’s got a shot to be the #1.  If not, I wouldn’t expect to see him much for the rest of the season.

Triple Vision:  The Wizards put a little, tiny scare into the Lakers after we cut a 28 point lead down to 8.  But that’s it.

We have had two long west coast trips and our record on these trips are 1-8.  Hope at least time that the boys don’t gamble on the plane back home.

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Well my alma-mater won a game for the 1st time in school history.  That’s right folks, Cornell did what Georgetown couldn’t: win a 1st round tournament game.  Georgetown’s loss still stings, but Cornell’s victory definitely puts a smile on my face.  I only watched the 2nd half of the game, but honestly, it seems like Cornell dominated throughout.  The score should not have been as close as it was.  I think Cornell has a legitimate chance against Wisconsin.  The biggest issue will be if we can stay out of foul trouble because Wisconsin has a lot of bodies that can bang. 

I know many of you won’t believe it, but I actually watched the Wizards game last night and all I can say is that the whole damn thing is unfair.  The Wizards played good defense and made a spirited comeback from 16 down to ultimately take the lead in the game towards the end of the 4th quarter.  The thing that is unfair about it is that on his game-winning shot, Brandon Roy very obviously travelled.  I mean he so clearly picked up his pivot foot and got away from it that LeTravel would be impressed.  It was one of the worst blown non-calls since, since….well since, LeTravel took three steps when he beat the Wizards on a game-winning shot in Game 5 of the 2006 playoffs.

It’s just not fair

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The Georgetown Hoyas can beat any other team in the country.  Today’s game against Rutgers proves once again that they can lose to just about anyone in the country.

My old man tried to console me about the loss by saying that none of this matters because what matters is what happens in March.  But with 3rd place in the Big East within our clutches, the Hoyas came up short again, against a team they should have beaten, maybe not crushed, but definitely beaten.  And there is no way, I can feel not bad about this….no way.

Our outside shots were not falling and that is perhaps the biggest weakness this team has, the weakness which could get us knocked out of the NCAA tournament in an untimely manner.  When Freeman, Clark and Wright are not hitting their outside shots, our offense is not always able to maintain a consistency which would allow us to overcome cold shooting. 

When we are shooting well, the combination of the three point shot and Greg Monroe and Julian Vaughn in the interior is deadly and has led to us beating Villanova, Duke, Pittsburgh, Temple and Butler, all top 25 teams.  

Yes, Georgetown has played the most difficult schedule in the country and has the most wins in the nation against the top 50 teams in the country.  So I guess this should be some consolation.  In fact, the Georgetown teams of Hibbert and Green had not had such an accomplished regular season as this team has had.  One of those teams made the final four and one got knocked off in the 2nd round.

Maybe the caliber of teams that this Georgetown team has beaten should make us feel that we are capable of a deep tournament run.  Or maybe, this team is too young to accomplish great things and while it can beat the best out there, it is too immature and not yet mentally strong enough to be consistent enough to beat the bad teams.  A great team would beat Villanova and all the other teams I mentioned above and beat Rutgers comfortably today, just as we beat Providence a few days ago.  Great teams have one, maybe two slip ups.  This Georgetown team has now had two major slip ups against South Florida at home and Rutgers on the road.  Compound that with acceptable losses on the road at Syracuse, Villanova and Marquette and we will no longer be a top 10 team this week, which puts us outside of a #2 seed in the NCAA tournament and in need of some big wins to secure a #3 seed.

At this point, we are at best a schizophrenic team and one capable of creating some real good highs like we had last Saturday, and some real deep lows like we feel today.

Double red vision:  I would be remiss if I did not mention that Cornell, my alma mater, is now ranked in the top 25.  Cornell also had a dissapointing loss on Friday night when we lost to Penn.  But this year’s version of Big Red is stronger than the last two teams that made the tournament.  We  lost to Kansas by only 5 and played Syracuse neck and neck.  Cornell also has some decent out of conference wins against schools from the SEC, Atlantic 10 and Big East.  If we don’t lose again, which is distinctly possible, I think Cornell should be in line for a possible #10 or #11 seed in the tournament which could mean that we get a 1st round win.  I’ll keep everyone updated.

(By the way, you gotta love how Ivy League schools all play back-to-back games on Friday and Saturday so they don’t miss any class time during the week.  Pretty nerdy, but pretty cool.)

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