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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Blunder Mid Season Report Card

Well, it's that time of year folks! Step right up and get your Blunder grades!

What a difference a year makes, huh? After Bennett's poaching and first year disaster, Durant and Co have quietly managed a very respectable and competitive season in the dustbowl.

Coaching; B. Scotty Brooks has the team playing well. Is it his coaching, or is it a matter of letting them loose and seeing what happens? SO far that has worked. However, the Zombie Sonics have not yet played any games under pressure. As the season winds down and post-season spots hinge on his coaching and team execution, we will see what Brooks and the Blunder are truly made of. Too early to tell.

Team: 30-21. Upside: One of the surprises of the season, for sure. All Star (and future ex-Blunder) Kevin Durant (29.7 ppg, 7.4 rpg) is playing lights out and carrying this team. Westbrook (16.5 ppg, 7.5 apg) and Green (14.5 ppg are contributing solidly as well. The supporting cast is a mixed bag with no real standouts. Durant gets an A.

Downside: Durant leads the team in rebounding - that is not necessarily a good sign. He is not a big guy and cannot be forced into a physical game...it will eventually hurt his real value – scoring. Come playoff time his supporting cast needs to step it up and be able to rebound and play disciplined half-court sets. Wide open play is great to watch but fundamental play and veteran leadership usually wins out in the playoffs. The Blunder do not have a legit veteran presence to guide them. Riding Durant will win games in the short term, but in the longer run they need an inside presence and a skilled vet to guide the team in crunch time.

Green needs to get more involved in assists. He averages less than two a game and has more turnovers (85) than assists (83) for the season. He's learning and will improve. Westbrook 16.5 ppg, 5.0 rpg, and 7.5 apg is having a solid year and will only get better.

Overall team: B

Outlook: The second half of the season will get very interesting for the Blunder. They have thrived while playing pressure-free basketball and flying under the radar. They get practically no national exposure, a blessing for a young team. However, teams will not take them lightly and will be better prepared for them in the second half - no more sneaking up on teams. This is where their true colors (coaching, etc) will be revealed. The on-court trio of Durant/Westbrook/Green are solid. After that it's a big drop off in production.

Playoff scenario: They are well positioned for a playoff run. The biggest challenge this team will face now is pressure. Can they handle it after nearly three seasons of zero expectations? The media attention will pick up in the second half. I expect this team to play around .500 the rest of the way (48 wins is my expectation) and that could get them into the playoffs. They could be a dangerous team, or they could fold under the pressure. It remains to be seen. They cannot afford to get a first round match-up with the Lakers, so positioning will be everything. They could spell trouble for some teams, but not the Lakers. The grind and physicality of the playoffs could also force an early exit and be an eye opener for the young Blunder.

Presti: A. Good job keeping the ship afloat. He's a good executive who had the rare privilege of blowing up a team to build a new one. It's too bad it came at Seattle's expense, but that is not his fault. It's Bennett's.

Ownership: F. Bennett sucks.

Overall grade: B

More Corndogs! More Losses! More Blunder!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Will Proposed Change Doom the NCAA Tournament?

Yup, leave it to the NCAA to ruin the greatest college sporting event. According to the SBJ, the NCAA is considering opting out of it's 11-year, $6 billion contract with CBS after this year's Final Four ur in April. The deal has three years and $2.131 billion remaining. And that's not even the most obnoxious part.

They are considering expanding the current 65 team format to...get this...as many as 96 teams. That is not a misprint. 96 teams playing in the tournament. The NCAA has its sights set on expanding to either 68 or 96 teams if it opts out of the CBS contract, according to the 12-page RFP. A 68-team field would add three “play-in” games to the current 65-team format, and a 96-team field would expand the tournament’s inventory by 31 games. Seriously?

Obviously this is an attempt to eliminate the NIT. I just gotta conclude this is a staggering act of stupidity and greed. Expanding the tournament will doom it to fan apathy. Too many games, too many teams without any chance of winning and over saturating the marketplace.

Sound familiar? It's called the NBA. And we all see how that's doing these days.

JUST SAY NO! Preserve the tournament!

http://www.sportsbusinessjournal.com/article/64712