Friday, November 12, 2010

Bracketology: Georgia Bulldogs Aren't the First Team in Or the Last Team Out...Or Something

Can you find the first team out?
Joe Lunardi (I wonder how many times he was called Joe Lu-nerdy growing up) has come out with his preseason bracketology standings, in which the Georgia Bulldogs are a No. 8 seed in the East and have a first-round match up with Murray State.

But that's not the point of this post. My reason for bringing this up is because I have a problem with the terminology surrounding which teams get into the NCAA tournament and which teams are left out.

When a team is on the bubble and it's projected to make the tournament, it's referred to as one of "the last teams in." That's fine. A finite number of teams reach the tournament, and the at-large teams (or, in some cases, surprise teams who win their tornado delayed conference tournament by playing two games in one day in the mostly empty arena of one of their greatest rivals) are the last ones added.  The terminology makes sense.

But when a team is on the bubble and it's projected to not make the field, it's referred to as one of "the first teams out." This is where I have a problem. Correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't the first teams out of the tournament the ones who go 2-26 in the Atlantic Sun and don't even make the conference tournament? Shouldn't the 18-14 team from the ACC be referred to as the "last team out"?

This is a huge pet peeve of mine, and I'm glad I finally got it off my chest.

You may now proceed with your normal bracketology studies.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Georgia-Auburn Prediction: A.J. Green Will Feast on Verbiage Come Saturday

Green will do plenty of this on Saturday, but...
A.J. Green didn't eat crow after last week's game against Idaho State, but he put prepped it and put it in the freezer for later consumption.

Honestly, you can't blame A.J. Green for feeling like he can beat anybody, anytime. He can. The problem is that A.J. Green can't play defense against Cam Newton and the Auburn offense. Actually, nobody can (except maybe the rumor mill at Mississippi State).

Unless Newton and Auburn are completely befuddled by this week's steady stream of unsubstantiated rumors, Georgia is in big trouble.

The Georgia defense gives up big plays against standard offenses. How confused do you think they're going to be against the elite option scoring machine that Auburn fires up ever Saturday? Unless Todd Grantham becomes the first man to figure out how to hide 13 players on the field without getting caught, it's going to be a complete laugher. When's the last time an SEC team scored 100 against another SEC team?

Okay, 100 points is ridiculous (I think), but based on the past two seasons, what has been Georgia's biggest nemesis? Dual-threat quarterbacks. Actually, not even dual-threat quarterbacks. The quarterbacks don't even have to be able to pass that well. Just watch tape of the Florida game from two weeks ago. Any time anyone other John Brantley lined up at quarterback the Georgia defenders looked like Ponce de Leon's expedition crew. (Clearing a path through the Florida swamp. Stay with me.)

Hell, they made Chris Relf look like Tim Tebow. They made Tim Tebow look like the love child of Herschel Walker and Graham Harrell.

So don't get too excited, Georgia fans. A.J. Green is confident because he's A.J. Green. And he'll definitely put up his numbers against Auburn. But it'll be little more than a footnote in the context of the final outcome of the game, which will be a celebration of an SEC West title for the Tigers.

Auburn 45, Georgia 31

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Trey Thompkins' Ankle Sprain Destroys Georgia's Season

Thompkins, back when he had two healthy ankles.
Yes, that headline is hyperbolic.

And, yes, it's a bummer that crap like this always seems to happen just when things appear to be going well and gaining momentum.

(In case you didn't click on the link, or don't know what this is all about, Trey Thompkins, who is the best basketball player at Georgia at least since Jarvis Hayes, wrecked his ankle in practice and could be out for awhile.)

But here's one reason (with a few pluses tacked on) for why this isn't doomsday:

• I had a high ankle sprain back in August, and not only has it not completely healed, I think it has spread to my knee. But I'm not a 20-year-old world-class athlete who trains against Olympians. So Thompkins has that going for him.

• Plus, Georgia head coach Mark Fox said that Thompkins could be out for up to a month. If that's the case, a glance a Georgia's schedule says he should be back no later than the December 7 game against Georgia Tech.

• Plus, Georgia actually has some depth this year, so they'll have the players to pick up some of the slack.

• Plus, even if the Bulldogs fall flat on their faces without Thompkins, the NCAA selection committee will take Thompkins' absence into account if the Dawgs are on the bubble at the end of the season.

This is not the greatest thing that could have happened, but unless the high ankle sprain spreads to his knee and his hip and his shooting elbow, it's not a devastating blow.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Josh Smith Trade Scenarios


Josh could make adobe bricks in Phoenix.
So ESPN's Chad Ford thinks that the next step in the progression of the Hawks after the Al Horford signing is to trade Josh Smith. Granted this isn’t even a rumor. It’s an educated speculation. But he throws out the Knicks, Nets, Suns and Pistons as teams that have shown interest in the past.

So I turned to ESPN’s handy trade machine to find out what those teams have to offer in potential Josh Smith trades.

I had a few criteria:

1. The trades had to be somewhat realistic. We’re not unloading Smith and Jamal Crawford for Amare Stoudemire. It’s not happening.

2. Money is a consideration. The impetus for trading Smith would be to get rid of his salary, so anyone coming back would almost have to have a matching contract that expires at the end of the year.

3. Ideally the Hawks would get something useful for the remainder of the season. You would think that they wouldn’t completely sacrifice their standing in the East just to save a few bucks. The Hawks brass has a reputation for being cheap, but they did just make Joe Johnson the highest paid player in the NBA.

So here are the four teams that Ford mentions and what they have to offer.

NEW JERSEY NETS

Dream trade: Smith and Jeff Teague to the Nets for Brooke Lopez and Troy Murphy

Murphy
Murphy’s contract expires after this season, so he's the essential piece. Lopez would finally fill the Hawks' eternal void at center and create a bad-ass front court alongside Horford. Plus Lopez's rookie deal doesn't end until after next season.

But obviously, this would be an extremely one-sided trade. And there's no way that the re-building Nets are going to give up a potential top-5 center that could anchor their lineup for the next decade. The Hawks would gladly part with Teague if Lopez were in the deal, but he's a part of their plans right now too.

But while we're fantasizing, how cool would a Mike Bibby, Joe Johnson, Murphy, Horford, Lopez starting lineup be? With Marvin, Pachulia, Crawford, Evans and Powell coming off the bench? That's a pretty significant upgrade.

More realistic: Smith for Troy Murphy, straight up. The Nets get Smith. The Hawks get Murphy for half a season and money off their books. Everyone wins, even if Murphy isn't healthy.

NEW YORK KNICKS

Dream trade: Smith to the Knicks for Eddie Curry’s expiring contract and Danilo Gallinari

More realistic: Smith for Curry and a pick

The Knicks don’t really have a lot of enviable pieces, but all Smith does is shoot jump shots nowadays, so the Hawks could replace Smith’s bricks with Gallinari’s smooth stroke and make themselves better on the perimeter. Plus Gallinari is cheap at $3.3 million for the next two seasons.

(And remember how when Brian McCann and Jeff Francoeur first came up and some Braves fans dressed up as McCann’s Cans and Francoeur’s Franks? How great would it be if a group of Atlanta Hawks fans went to Phillips dressed up as bricks and called themselves “Smith’s Bricks”? Is it cool to taunt your own player for being a hardheaded horrible shooter?)

DETROIT PISTONS
We'd need those arms in any trade for Smith's bricks.

Sensible trade: Smith and Marvin Williams to Detroit for Tayshaun Prince and Charlie Villanueva

Realistic trade: Smith for Prince and a pick

There is no dream trade with the Pistons because they don’t have anyone who would be a significant upgrade over who the Hawks already have.

Prince has dollar for dollar trade value for Smith and his contract expires at the end of the season. Villanueva (which, incidentally, is Spanish for “new town”) is a less-expensive ($7 million), less talented version of Smith. The only reason the Hawks would want him is because he’s serviceable and so is his contract for the next two seasons. Plus you’d get Prince’s championship experience and freakishly long arms on defense for half a season. He could help out in the playoffs this season for sure.

PHOENIX SUNS

Dream trade: Smith, Mo Evans and Jeff Teague for Jason Richardson’s expiring contract, Robin Lopez and Goran Dragic. 

We'll take either one of these guys.
The Suns get a young speedy point guard to play behind Nash and they get the high flying Smith, who would absolutely thrive in their open court game. The Hawks get Richardson for half a season. But they could potentially sign Robin Lopez to an extension and have a starting center for the foreseeable future.

(I'd take either one of the Lopez twins. They're athletic, solid post players that seem like good long-term solutions to the center position.)

More realistic: Smith and Jordan Crawford for Richardson and a draft pick

The Suns are allergic to draft picks, so getting a late first rounder from them shouldn’t be a problem. Giving up Crawford so soon would be kind of a bummer, but the Hawks could use the money that they clear from the cap to re-sign Jamal Crawford and keep the team essentially intact.