I was tempted to take a week off from writing about the Utah Jazz’s ineptitude, but I couldn't.
The Jazz started the week off by getting blown out at home by the Detroit Pistons, falling behind 60-40 at halftime. The Pistons would later be the team that the Philadelphia 76ers dominated to snap their 26-game losing streak.
Versus the Pistons, Utah coach Tyrone Corbin gave Richard Jefferson 28 minutes while he gave Rudy Gobert and Jeremy Evans (two players that could be part of future Jazz playoff teams) 10 minutes combined.
Two days later the Jazz played much harder, but blew a 10-point halftime lead to the Memphis Grizzlies, ultimately losing by four.
Versus the Grizz Jefferson played 30 minutes, while Evans played eight and Gobert did not play at all.
Two days after that the Jazz lost a fairly tight game to the New Orleans Pelicans, who lost star Anthony Davis to an injury after four minutes.
Versus the Pelicans Jefferson played an astounding team-high 41 minutes, while Evans played nine and Gobert did not play at all.
Sunday vs. the Oklahoma City Thunder the Jazz were behind 26-9 after the first quarter and never came close to being competitive.
Despite the blowout Corbin gave Jefferson 30 minutes, while Evans and Gobert played just six minutes each.
This means that in four games last week Jefferson, who has zero chance to make an impact on any Jazz playoff runs now or ever, played 129 minutes. Meanwhile, first-round shot-blocker Gobert played eight minutes and Evans, a player seemingly poised to be with the franchise a while, played 31.
I’m thinking somewhere there must be some blackmail-worthy materials Corbin does not want the world to see, and I’m thinking Jefferson knows where they are.
What other explanation for the prior statistics could there possibly be? If Corbin still thinks playing Jefferson will help the team win more, uh, hasn't that been proven wrong/irrelevant at this point?
Nate Gagon is a published sports, music, and creative writer. He is also a wholehearted father, grateful husband and ardent student of life. He shoots roughly 94% from the free throw line and can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org or @nategagon.
The BYU lady ballers became the first team to lead by more than five points or to lead in the second half vs. Connecticut (37-0) all season. The ESPN broadcasters were stunned and the crowd was fully on the BYU underdog bandwagon.
If the Cougars could have pulled off the win, it would have been the greatest upset in the history of the NCAA tournament, irrespective of gender.
The Cougs got close enough to glimpse it.
A few less turnovers and a better overall game from star Lexi Eaton and there might have been a chance for the underdogs at the end.
BYU led undefeated UConn 27-21 with 4:28 left in the first half and led 35-34 nearly three minutes into the second, but the Huskies finally started to break the game open with about 15 minutes to go and went on an 18-5 run to put it away at the end, 70-51.
The Cougs only scored five points in the last 10 minutes of the game.
BYU held UConn to just 39.4 percent from the field and for the majority of the game played a brand of defense that BYU men’s head coach Dave Rose could only fantasize about from his team this season.
To have a chance in the last five minutes, however, the Cougars would have needed a few things to go differently.
First, they needed Eaton to play a lot better and a lot smarter. Eaton got in foul trouble early, made several sloppy turnovers, forced quite a few quick/bad shots (4 of 14 overall), only dished one assist and pulled down just two rebounds. Eaton took a team-high 14 shots in just 20 minutes on the court.
Second, the Cougars needed more shot attempts from Morgan Bailey, who started the game on fire and finished with a team-best shooting percentage (5 for 9), and Jennifer Hamson who had only eight shot attempts.
Third, BYU needed less minutes and more production from its bench. Coach Jeff Judkins was forced to play his bench 46 minutes in the game because of foul trouble to Eaton and Bailey. In those 46 minutes, the Cougar bench combined for zero points on 0-of-7 shooting, five rebounds, four assists, four turnovers and a steal.
The Cougar bench had played just 56 minutes combined over the first two games of the NCAA tournament, so 46 against UConn was a big jump. In those 56 minutes the bench had scored 22 points on 8-of-15 shooting, so the bench production suffered a big drop off just when it needed production the most.
Despite the loss, the Cougs’ run to their second-ever Sweet 16 appearance was far from a fluke. After the game, Judkins said: “I told the team hopefully this is the start of what we want to be at BYU — a team that comes to this tournament yearly and knocks on the door.”
A repeat of this season’s success where the Cougars posted a school-record 28 wins, will be a tall order. Hamson, the West Coast Conference Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year, and Kim Beeston, who led the team with 16 points and four 3-pointers vs. UConn, were probably the two best defenders for the Cougs and both will be gone next season.
With Eaton and Bailey back, however, another tournament run next year is not out of the question.
RSL continued its solid start to the season by routing Toronto FC 3-0 at Rio Tinto Stadium Saturday night. Toronto came in with a 2-0-0 record and ranked No. 1 in various power rankings around the Internet, including ESPN.
RSL is now 2-0-2 and tied for the third-most points in the league. Most impressively, perhaps, Real took out Toronto without Joao Plata. In his March 25 power rankings, in which RSL was ranked No. 4, Matthew Doyle from mlssoccer.com wrote: “It’s very clear that they (RSL) drop a notch when Joao Plata is sidelined.”
I guess that might not be so clear after all.
Toronto is coming off what nbcsports.com called “the shiniest offseason in Major League Soccer since David Beckham signed with Los Angeles,” having added U.S. national star Michael Bradley, a solid Premier League striker in Jermain Defoe and a star goalkeeper in Julio Cesar.
Toronto’s offseason was so hyped that apparently somebody even made a documentary about it.
Beating Toronto 3-0 without Plata was a big statement for RSL and it should rocket to the top of a lot of power rankings as a result.
Well, now begins the five-month drought in Utah with no college football or basketball games to talk about. That doesn’t mean there’s nothing interesting going on, however.
Here are some links to get you caught up on the goings-on of the last week:
BYU softball beats No. 2 Oregon
The Utes, Cougars and Aggies continue spring football camp
The Utes lose starting linebacker Jacoby Hale to an ACL injury
BYU beats Utah in baseball again
Second-ranked BYU volleyball team beats No. 5 Santa Barbara and UCLA
BYU rugby survives San Francisco
The Bees release their TV and radio schedule
BYU-Hawaii announces it will do away with sports
Last week I accurately predicted that the BYU women’s basketball team would beat Nebraska and then lose to UConn and I got 3 of 4 Jazz games correct (how hard is that, right?). Outside of those games, however, I had a horrible week in going just 2-7. The only NBA prediction I got right out of six was that Philly would beat Detroit to snap its losing streak. Overall, I dropped to 68-27 on predictions for the column.
My NCAA bracket was in pretty good shape until the weekend with Arizona (my pick for the title) and Michigan losing. Somehow its apparently still in the 79th percentile on ESPN.com, behind everybody that picked Florida to win it all.
Predictions for this week:
NCAA men’s basketball: Florida over Connecticut, Kentucky over Wisconsin
NBA games of the week:
Pacers snap Spurs 17-game winning streak Monday
Warriors win at Mavs Tuesday
Clippers win at Suns Wednesday
Thunder beat Spurs Thursday
Rockets beat Thunder Friday
Bulls win at Wizards Saturday
Thunder win at Suns Sunday
MLB: Braves (Julio Teheran) over Nationals (Steven Strasburg) Saturday
The reason I don’t predict soccer games is because I am silently and pointlessly protesting the stupidity of playing a game for 90-plus minutes only to have it end in a tie. Change the rule soccer rule-makers! Shootouts are awesome and fans should have more of them. In fact, do away with the overtime periods altogether during the regular season and just go straight to the shootouts.
Same with hockey.
Honestly, who would rather watch an overtime period after he or she has already watched a whole game of regular-season soccer or hockey than have a quick, exciting, dramatic payoff with a shootout?
The NCAA tournament is awesome because of the drama and the upsets, but not because we get to see quality basketball, which we generally don’t.
As discussed previously, for one thing the shot clock is way too long. There are few things more tedious to watch in sports than a college basketball team use the full ridiculously long 35-second shot clock, only to throw up a bad shot and then get an offensive rebound and do it all again.
Having such a long shot clock probably contributes to one of the other problems, which is really ugly offensive basketball. When teams have to spend so long defending just one possession, it makes it harder to have energy on the offensive end.
Are we not all tired of scores in the 50s and shooting percentages in the 30s? Many times in basketball, the most exciting, athletic plays are made in transition. When teams have longer possessions, they have less transition basketball and therefore less excitement and entertainment value.
The quality of actual basketball execution over the course of the NCAA tournament has been really low. I have not watched a single game live. I can’t do it. There are far too many delays, timeouts, boring stretches, etc.
That’s the great thing about being able to record the NCAA tournament — fans can skim through the 75 percent of each game that’s boring and just stop and watch the last few minutes of the close games (fast forwarding the endless timeouts and official replays in the last two minutes of course).
Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban recently caused a bit of an uproar by talking smack about the NFL. Regarding football and particularly whether or not he would want his son to play the sport, Cuban said in effect, as he often does on the TV show "Shark Tank," “I’m out.”
While I don’t necessarily agree with everything Cuban said about the NFL and its impending demise, I do feel the same way about my sons playing football.
After my 6-year old son’s soccer game Saturday, he asked me in the car: “Dad, which sport do you think is my favorite right now?” I guessed soccer since he had just finished proclaiming, in that 6-year old way of his, that the soccer game he had just played was one of the favorite times of his whole life. He confirmed that my guess was correct.
Then he asked me, “Which sport do you think I want to play professionally when I’m older?” I again guessed soccer, to which he replied: “You’re pretty good at guessing stuff, Dad.”
Next he asked what sport I wanted him to play when he was older. I thought about it and said: “Well, if you decide you want to play sports when you’re older, I would probably vote for basketball, baseball or soccer.”
He asked, “What about football?”
This led to a brief discussion about the safety issues of football, how it can cause damage to the brain and give players other types of injuries.
He processed the information and concluded himself that it was better to protect his brain than to play football. This will change during football season, of course, when he begs me to try to tackle him in the front yard over and over and over and over and over again, but at this point I doubt my feelings on it will change.
I have a feeling that there are a lot of other parents out there beginning to feel the same way about football, which means Cuban is probably correct regarding a lot of the things he said about the sport.