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Old 12-16-2002, 08:42 PM   #1
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Default Sports Central Newsletter - #92 - Coaching Criticism

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The Sports Central Newsletter
December 15th, 2002 - Issue #92
http://www.sports-central.org
===================================

|-- WELCOME --|

We hope you enjoy this issue of our newsletter. This e-mail is never sent unsolicited. The Sports Central Newsletter is sent out every fortnight. Subscribing and unsubscribing instructions are located at the bottom.

Like what you read? We highly encourage you to share it with your friends and invite them to subscribe.

Sports Central - http://www.sports-central.org

New to the site? Read more about Sports Central at:
http://www.sports-central.org/other/about.shtml

====================================================

|-- IN THIS ISSUE... --|

- Words From the Editor
- The O-Files: "The Worst Owner"
- Reader's Showcase (Sports Joke)
- What's new at Sports Central?
- Feature Article: "Martz Should Carry the Can in St Louis"
- Marquee Matchups (NFL, NBA, NHL)

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|-- WORDS FROM THE EDITOR --|

Hello folks,

If you're reading this issue, you have stumbled upon our "bad coaching" issue. Coincidentally, newsletter contributors Mike Round and Brad Oremland decided to fill their column space about some of the more corrupt coaching and front office personnel in the NFL. Brad explains how if Daniel Synder doesn't swallow his pride, his Redskins could be the Bengals of the NFL in 10 years. Meanwhile, Mike calls out Rams coach Mike Martz and argues that he should be accepting all the blame this season. Who doesn't love reading about others' downfalls?

We're trying something new this issue. In the Reader's Showcase below, you'll find a sports joke addressing the topic of why athletes will never get real jobs. It's absolutely hysterical -- and totally true. If you want more jokes like this in the future, let me know. And at the same time, I'd love to receive any sports-related jokes you have in your inbox to possibly publish: mailto:[email protected]

Do you like what you read? We highly encourage you to share it with your friends and invite them to subscribe.

Finally, Sports Central will be going on vacation from December 20th through the 28th. Regular updates will resume on the 29th and we will focus on bringing you many exciting new things in 2003. Have a great holiday!

Until next time,

- Marc James
mailto:[email protected]

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====================================================

|-- THE O-FILES--|

"The Worst Owner"

By Brad Oremland

The history of professional sports is riddled with terrible owners, but now the stakes are higher than ever. The sports entertainment industry has become enormous, there are more teams and many more fans, and nationwide news lets us all know who's unhappy with management.

It used to be that poorly-managed teams simply ceased to exist, but franchises don't just fade away anymore. The city of Cincinnati has been particularly cursed in recent years. Infamous Reds owner Marge Schott was finally forced out after years of horror stories and tight pockets, and Bengals ownership has mismanaged the team so badly that a "Down With Mike Brown" campaign (hosted at PetitionOnline.com) has gained nearly 13,000 signatures (full disclosure: one of them is mine).

George Steinbrenner used to be hated across the country, and he's still widely disliked. Wayne Huizenga tore apart the Marlins when they were coming off a World Series. Art Modell took one of the NFL's most storied franchises away from football-crazy Cleveland. Add in people like Jerry Jones and Donald Sterling, and hating pro sports owners has become a popular and sometimes well-merited hobby. In recent years, though, no owner has done more to deserve fans' enmity than Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder.

Almost immediately after buying the Redskins for a record $800 million, Snyder sold the naming rights on Jack Kent Cooke Memorial Stadium. Cooke was, by all accounts, an abominable man personally, but he was also an exceptional team owner. Cooke didn't meddle with football affairs, and the Redskins went to four Super Bowls under his supervision, winning three. When the team's new stadium was built, Cooke paid for every penny (in stark contrast to Modell, who had a stadium in Baltimore constructed at taxpayer expense around the same time). Cooke died shortly before the team's first game in the new stadium, which was christened Jack Kent Cooke Memorial Stadium, affectionately known as The Big Jack. Snyder, out of respect for the dead, waited almost half an hour before selling the naming rights. At this point, Washington fans still have no affectionate nickname for FedEx Field.

Selling the naming rights to a stadium titled in honor of the deceased is the least of Snyder's sins, though. He has almost singlehandedly crippled one of the proudest franchises in the NFL. Under his four-year supervision, the Redskins have had four head coaches and four defensive coordinators. Only one man was willing to stand up to Snyder: Marty Schottenheimer, who finished his tenure in Washington on an 8-3 streak and is now a Coach of the Year candidate in San Diego. Snyder adores yes-men, and when Schottenheimer refused to play that role, he was gracelessly shown the exit. And although Schottenheimer refused to take the low road, and merely thanked Snyder for the opportunity after he was fired, the owner publicly criticized Marty -- after he had been fired, for goodness sake -- for what he called taking the Redskins back to the '60s.

Snyder is also infamous for coveting big names. Most insiders believe that he makes all major personnel decisions. In one offseason alone, he signed Deion Sanders, Bruce Smith, Adrian Murrell, Mark Carrier, and Jeff George. Only Smith is still with the team. Those signings also occasioned the release of two of Washington's best and most respected players: Brad Johnson and Brian Mitchell. Johnson now plays for 11-3 Tampa Bay and leads the NFC in passer rating, while Mitchell, the last player besides Darrell Green from Washington's last Super Bowl, is in the NFC's top three in both kickoff and punt return average this year. Mitchell's Eagles are also 11-3, tied with Tampa and Green Bay for the NFL's best record.

Salary constraints forced by the excessive bonuses given to players like Sanders, who retired after one disappointing season with the team, also forced Washington to part with Stephen Alexander, Shawn Barber, Marco Coleman, Kenard Lang, Cory Raymer, Derek Smith, Dana Stubblefield, and James Thrash -- all of whom now start for winning teams. Others, including pass rush specialist N.D. Kalu and fullback Larry Centers, have gone on to be valuable role players for other teams. Next season, the Redskins are likely to release Stephen Davis and Dana Wilkinson, two of the few remaining holdovers from Washington's last playoff team.

Snyder also demanded a "sexy" first-round draft pick last April, so instead of taking an offensive lineman, the team selected Tulane QB Patrick Ramsey. Ramsey may still prove valuable eventually, but with a quality left guard and Shane Matthews under center, Washington would probably be in the playoff hunt. Better yet, with Brad Johnson playing quarterback and Mitchell returning kicks, they might be challenging Philadelphia for the division lead this Sunday.

Advice is free, so here's mine, Mr. Snyder. Get your hands out of day-to-day operations. Swallow your pride and hire a GM who knows what he's about. Ron Wolf, who built the Packers' Super Bowl teams in the mid-'90s, lives nearby in Baltimore, and could probably be coaxed out of retirement by a local team willing to offer him a small stake in ownership. If Steve Spurrier and Marvin Lewis were worth a combined $8 million per year, Wolf is worth opening your pocketbook for, too. If he won't take the job, offer a real salary to ex-Redskins GM Bobby Beathard, currently a consultant for the playoff-bound Falcons, or some other respected personnel man.

Get rid of Spurrier. Some college coaches make a wonderful transition to the pro game; others, for whatever reason, do not. It is already apparent that Spurrier is one of the latter. His play-calling and personnel decisions have been the worst in the league, bar none. Promote Lewis to the head job and bring in a really top-flight offensive guy to handle the other side of things. Dennis Green might take that job if he were offered the Assistant Head Coach title Lewis held this season. Or bring back Ray Rhodes, who led the Washington defense back to respectability in 2000, and let Terry Robiskie, who was head coach for three weeks after you fired Norv Turner midseason, come back as his offensive coordinator. Even the league would love this plan, because each of the men I just named is African-American, and these high-profile hirings would help enormously in correcting the shameful lack of minority coaches in the NFL.

Bengals fans are right to gripe about Mike Brown, but Snyder's only really had three years to do his damage; Brown has had over a decade. In 2012, maybe the Redskins will be the new Bengals of the NFL. If he continues down the path he's ridden so far, Snyder would have certainly earned it.

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Brad welcomes your feedback on his column: mailto:[email protected]?subject=O-Files

====================================================

|-- READER'S SHOWCASE --|

--> WHY ATHLETES CAN'T HAVE REAL JOBS

Another item whose origins are lost in the clutter of attribution-less citations on many web sites...

Chicago Cubs outfielder Andre Dawson on being a role model: "I wan' all dem kids to do what I do, to look up to me. I wan' all the kids to copulate me."

New Orleans Saint RB George Rogers when asked about the upcoming season: "I want to rush for 1,000 or 1,500 yards, whichever comes first."

And, upon hearing Joe Jacobi of the 'Skins say "I'd run over my own mother to win the Super Bowl," Matt Millen of the Raiders said "To win, I'd run over Joe's Mom, too."

Torrin Polk, University of Houston receiver, on his coach, John Jenkins: "He treats us like men. He lets us wear earrings."

Football commentator and former player Joe Theismann, 1996: "Nobody in football should be called a genius. A genius is a guy like Norman Einstein."

Senior basketball player at the University of Pittsburgh: "I'm going to graduate on time, no matter how long it takes."

Bill Peterson, a Florida State football coach: "You guys line up alphabetically by height." And, "You guys pair up in groups of three, then line up in a circle."

Boxing promoter Dan Duva on Mike Tyson hooking up again with promoter Don King: "Why would anyone expect him to come out smarter? He went to prison for three years, not Princeton."

Lou Duva, veteran boxing trainer, on the Spartan training regime of heavyweight Andrew Golota: "He's a guy who gets up at six o'clock in the morning regardless of what time it is."

Chuck Nevitt, North Carolina State basketball player, explaining to Coach Jim Valvano why he appeared nervous at practice: "My sister's expecting a baby, and I don't know if I'm going to be an uncle or an aunt."

Frank Layden, Utah Jazz president, on a former player: "I told him, 'Son, what is it with you? Is it ignorance or apathy?' He said, "'Coach, I don't know and I don't care.'"

Shelby Metcalf, basketball coach at Texas A&M, recounting what he told a player who received four F's and one D: "Son, looks to me like you're spending too much time on one subject."

Amarillo High School and Oiler coach Bum Phillips when asked by Bob Costas why he takes his wife on all the road trips, Phillips responded: "Because she is too damn ugly to kiss goodbye."

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[ Next Issue ]

Have something on your mind? Send us your sports thoughts and we might publish them in a future issue: mailto:[email protected]?subject=Readers_Showcase

====================================================

|-- WHAT'S NEW AT SPORTS CENTRAL? --|

Revisiting the new articles for the week of 12/09/02 - 12/25/02:

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NHL: The no-good 'Nucks
By Lee Manchur

Nobody wants the Vancouver Canucks. Nobody watches their games so late at night in the Eastern time zone and nobody noticed their league-best 30-9-3-3 record from December 27 to April 14 last season. Well, people better start paying attention. SC's Lee Manchur comments on Vancouver's one-year anniversary of the day they turned things around.

http://www.sports-central.org/sports...ticle158.shtml

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COLUMN: Amico Report: Laker liftoff
By Sam Amico

Hoops aficionado Sam Amico takes you around the NBA in his weekly column, The Amico Report.

http://www.sports-central.org/columns/amico_report

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COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Let's go bowl-ing
By Sean McDonald

Need a QB for your favorite floundering NFL team? Take a trip to Mobile to watch Dave Ragone and Byron Leftwich. Don't have the money or the desire to travel to Mobile? No problem, just be like SC's Sean McDonald. He'll let you know which bowl games you should grab a seat on the couch with your favorite beverage this holiday season with his bowl games guide.

http://www.sports-central.org/sports...ticle158.shtml

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MLB: Pete Rose belongs in Cooperstown
By Eric Maus

After being branded with a Scarlet Letter by Major League Baseball, Pete Rose, the greatest Reds player of all-time, has spent the past 13 years making guest appearances on TV and radio shows, cameos at baseball events, and was even the lucky recipient of a Tombstone Piledriver at Wrestlemania XIV. SC's Eric Maus argues that if Ty Cobb and Juan Gonzalez are Hall of Fame material, then so is Pete Rose.

http://www.sports-central.org/sports...ticle158.shtml

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NFL: MVP, All-Pro, who cares?
By Piet Van Leer

Clearly, the most intriguing part to this NFL season is there are a dozen or so teams that could legitimately win the Super Bowl. Unlike past years where the Rams were the prohibitive favorite, there is no candidate that stands above the rest. The team you think could go from the AFC might not even make the playoffs.

http://www.sports-central.org/sports...cle158_3.shtml

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NBA: The race to Rookie of the Year
By Joe Kaiser

Through a quarter of the NBA season, six players stand out as possible Rookie of the Year candidates. Who is going to take home the hardware? One player has the early lead, and it probably isn't who you are thinking, says SC's Joe Kaiser.

http://www.sports-central.org/sports...ticle158.shtml

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NFL: Week 14 power rankings
By Brad Oremland

Suggestions for the owners of the Bengals and Bears, the coaches of the Buccaneers and Redskins, and players on the Packers and Giants. Plus, more on the MVP race and Jerome Bettis, all in this week's Power Rankings with analysis from SC's Brad Oremland.

http://www.sports-central.org/sports...cle158_2.shtml

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COLLEGE BASKETBALL: Who'll be left standing?
By Steve Apel

The 2002-03 college basketball season can be summed up in one word: parity. Although there are teams with great potential (Arizona), there isn't a team that is unbeatable. From the tourney-tested Hoosiers, to the total team game of Pittsburgh, this year's champion will be whoever is playing their best in March, says SC's Steve Apel.

http://www.sports-central.org/sports...ticle158.shtml

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NFL: Coaching changes that payed off
By Steve Goldstein

Coaching changes in the NFL can range from the overhyped, to the unexpected, to the unnoticed. But rarely does one firing lead to three teams improving their positions and making themselves Super Bowl contenders. Tampa Bay's release of Tony Dungy after last season, though, has done just that.

http://www.sports-central.org/sports...ticle158.shtml

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|-- SPONSOR --|

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Submit your site to SC's Site of the Week contest and you could win free placement throughout the site for an entire week. Fill out the form and get nominated, it's that easy. What are you waiting for?

http://www.sports-central.org/features/sotw

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|-- FEATURE ARTICLE --|

"Martz Should Carry the Can in St Louis"

The NFL never ceases to surprise week after week, with any team seemingly capable of beating any other on Sunday. Only the Bengals are consistent -- consistently beaten. Most "experts" felt the St Louis Rams were the team to beat in the NFC coming into the season, yet this week's Arizona and St. Louis clash is a dead rubber. The Rams won't be at the January party and there's a clear reason why -- Mike Martz.

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By Mike Round

It's next to impossible for a modern day NFL franchise to establish what used to be known as a "dynasty." Free agency, the draft, and modern schedules dictate that most great or good teams will be stripped of a large proportion of their prize assets within a year or two of winning a championship. The nearest the present-day NFL has to a dynasty is the St. Louis Rams with their two Super Bowl visits in the last three years.

The Rams, due to some financial prudence during the lean years, have managed to keep the bulk of their Super Bowl winning roster intact. In addition, the Rams recognized their defensive frailties in years past and followed Jimmy Johnson's mantra of drafting speed on defense and trading for additional picks. Consequently, they made another Super Bowl trip last year after ripping up NFL defenses with their self-styled "Greatest Show on Turf."

That trip ended in defeat to the heavy-underdog Patriots, a team of veteran journeymen who exceeded all expectations under the shrewd coaching of Bill Belichick and Romeo Crennel. The Rams looked a paper tiger in that game, but despite not firing on all cylinders, should still have won the game. Common consensus, at least straight after the game, was that Belichick outcoached Martz, confusing him with his defensive alignments and schemes.

Martz rallied the troops to counter this argument, and his media acolytes, of which there are many, led fervently by head cheerleader Peter King of Sports Illustrated launched a counter attack during the offseason to entrench Martz's reputation as a man of "genius."

The Rams of 1999 tore up the NFL in the regular season behind the remarkable skills of Marshall Faulk and the arm of an unknown Kurt Warner. Cruising to the playoffs, they barely hung on in the big one, relying on a game-saving tackle from Mike Jones to claim Super Bowl XXXIV. They'd also found Tampa Bay and their aggressive defense a handful, with only a doubtful call by the officials guaranteeing victory in the NFC Championship game. This was clearly a good team, but not yet able to rival the acclaim heaped on Jimmy Johnson's Cowboys or the Walsh/Seifert 49ers.

It's almost been forgotten that Dick Vermeil coached the Rams to their Super Bowl triumph, especially by Mike Martz, who seems to feel that his offense was the sole reason for that championship. Mike Jones, last time I looked, played linebacker and had nothing to do with Martz and his air-it-out attack.

Martz's inaugural season as head coach ended in an ignominious defeat in New Orleans on wildcard weekend. The media -- and Martz -- put the early exit down to the traditional Super Bowl hangover and Az Hakim's fumbling. But the championship was, in effect, was lost in April of 2000, when Martz ignored defensive shortcomings and drafted Trung Canidate, a running back, with his first pick and only picking one defensive player in the first five rounds.

Martz redressed the balance the next year, loading up with five defensive picks in the first three rounds. All seemed well until Super Bowl XXXVI. Romeo Crennel's defense totally outwitted Warner, Faulk, et al and the suspicion again resurfaced that Martz's Rams were a paper tiger prone to freezing in the big game when the chips are down.

This season's collapse has been well chronicled, yet not once have I read that Mike Martz has taken any responsibility for such an appalling waste of talent. This is a team with a roster that New England or Cleveland would kill their grannies for, yet they are 5-8 and preparing for the fishing season and Martz has to accept his part in that.

Well, he doesn't -- in fact, he blames kicker Jeff Wilkins and special teams coach Bobby April. Pathetic -- neither of these guys have had great years, but to heap the blame on them is cowardly and not atypical of the man. Here's a classic Martz statement after the dreadful thrashing by Kansas City:

"I've lost a lot of confidence in Jeff. He missed that short field goal. He came off and I asked what happened, and he said he kicked the ground. That's hard for me to accept, to be honest with you. Here's a guy that ... you just don't do that.

"He's had a lot of those 'I've kicked-the-ground' routines. People wonder why we go for it on the 30 and do those things. Well, I'll be very frank with you. From the very beginning of the year, I did not have much confidence in Jeff's ability to make those kicks."

Right, Mike -- you lose a game by 39 points and it's the kicker's fault. Call out under-performing players by all means, as Vermeil did in 1997 with Isaac Bruce, calling him a "so-called superstar." But picking on a guy like Wilkins, who Martz could easily have cut preseason if he didn't have any confidence in him, is cowardly when several stars in the Rams' lineup, like Torry Holt, Kurt Warner, and even Faulk, have failed to live up to expectations all season.

Martz's play-calling is strange in the extreme, and, although I admire his innovative and aggressive approach, he often seems to be unaware of the way the game is unfolding. Take the K.C. game, when the OL was hit by injury and low in confidence. Why did Mike Martz use empty-backfield plays, and why did he have Martin taking so many seven-step drops when setting up? It just exposed a barren line even more. Even stranger, he goes for a first down on fourth and 10 from the K.C. 34-yard line in the first half, with his team down by four points. But with the Rams losing by 25 points in the third quarter, Martz opted to punt on fourth and 10 from the Chiefs 35. Is there any pattern to his thinking?

Martz was a great coordinator, but hasn't made the step up to head coach, as of yet, with the same degree of success. Despite the eulogizing of his supporters in the media, he hasn't built on the foundations that Dick Vermeil built. He won't be fired, unlike Bobby April and Jeff Wilkins, but he should be.

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Mike welcomes your feedback on his column: mailto:[email protected]?subject=Feature_Article

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|-- SPONSOR --|

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|-- MARQUEE MATCHUPS --|

--> National Football League

By Brad Oremland

New England Patriots (8-5) vs. Tennessee Titans (8-5)
Monday, Dec. 16, 9 PM ET; The Coliseum; Nashville, TN; TV: ABC

MNF got lucky with this great late-season matchup. The Titans lead the AFC South by virtue of a season sweep over Indianapolis, and New England is tied for first in the always-competitive AFC East. New England has won three in a row and five of their last six, while Tennessee is at two in a row and seven of the last eight.

In recent years, both teams have relied on conservative game plans spearheaded by workhorse RBs and shut-down defenses, but now they're both opening it up. Quarterback Steve McNair has become the heart and soul of Tennessee's offense, but New England's rushing defense is suspect, so expect the Titans to pound Eddie George early and often on Monday night. However, the Patriots have a superb pass defense, so if George struggles early, the Titans may find themselves in a hole from which they can't escape. The Patriots should be in good shape if they can score quickly, since the secondary has done a good job all season of protecting leads.

The intangibles in this contest go both ways. On one hand, New England tends to come up big when the lights are brightest, and a late-season Monday night game definitely qualifies. On the other hand, Tennessee is a much better team at home (5-2) than on the road (3-3, with one of the wins in overtime and another at 1-12 Cincinnati). McNair and Tom Brady are the best clutch quarterbacks this side of Brett Favre, so whoever has the ball last may win if the game is close. I like Tennessee's home field advantage, but I'll give it to New England because I don't think the Titans will be able to establish their running game.

[ Game Breakdown ]

Offense - Patriots
Defense - Patriots
Spec. Teams - Patriots
Coaching - Patriots
Intangibles - Titans

Prediction: Patriots 23, Titans 20

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--> National Basketball Association

By Mike Round

L.A. Lakers (9-15) at New Jersey Nets (16-7)
Thursday, Dec. 12, 7:30 PM EST; Continental Airlines Arena; Meadowlands, NJ; TV: TNT

The Atlantic division-leading Nets take on the stumbling defending champion Lakers in a nationally-televised encounter that the Nets will be desperate to win, both to keep up the pressure on the chasing Celtics and 76ers and to claim the scalp of the mighty Lakers.

Jason Kidd is averaging over 20 points per game, but with Dikembe Mutombo out for four months or so, it will be tough for the Nets to clog up the middle and keep Shaq from dominating. Richard Jefferson and Kenyon Martin have offered more than adequate support to Kidd and, even without Mutombo, the surprising Nets are the last team the slumping Lakers will want to face when their season is steadily slipping away. Kidd is the key to whether the Nets can continue their outstanding start to the season and his workload will increase even more with Mutombo sidelined.

The Lakers hit rock bottom Friday night in a home defeat to the Hornets. Shaq has publicly criticized his teammates, the team has been giving up over 96 points a game and the cracks are starting to show in Tinseltown. Behind Kobe and Shaq there seems little of substance and the Nets, 76ers, Kings, and others smell a kill.

Despite being nine games back in the Pacific, it's too early to write off L.A., but they need to start winning soon. A win against quality opposition would help restore some confidence, but for that to happen Thursday, Shaq and Kobe need more help than they've been getting. The Lakers are 6-6 since Shaq's return, so things have improved, but they need a sustained winning streak to get back in contention in the Pacific.

[ Game Breakdown ]

Offense - Nets
Defense - Nets
Coaching - Even
Intangibles - Nets

Prediction: Nets 94, Lakers 90

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--> National Hockey League

By Lee Manchur

Colorado Avalanche (10-8-8-4) vs. Vancouver Canucks (18-8-4-0)
Monday, December 23, 9 PM EST; Pepsi Center, Denver, Colorado; TV: HDNet

This game marks exactly one year ago that the Vancouver Canucks began to turn some heads. The team played pathetically in the opening three months of the 2001-2002 NHL season, but on Boxing Day, the 'Nucks turned their game into high gear and since then, have had the best record in hockey.

Yes, even better than the defending champion Detroit Red Wings.

Not only that, but captain Markus Naslund is the leading scorer in the NHL over the past 365 days, and line partner Todd Bertuzzi isn't far behind. The Avalanche, meanwhile, who swept the Canucks in the 2001 Western Conference Quarterfinal before going on to win the Stanley Cup, are in a free fall. Patrick Roy is not having a Roy-like season and on a recent Alberta road trip, the Avs lost centers Joe Sakic and Peter Forsberg to injury and played poorly in both games, though still being able to steal one against Calgary.

It wasn't so long ago -- oh, about 365 days, in fact -- that you would easily hand this game to the Avalanche who were defending the Stanley Cup. Today is a different story, where the serious contenders for the Cup are the Canucks and the Avalanche are just fighting for some oxygen to breathe.

[ Game Breakdown ]

Offense - Canucks
Defense - Avalanche
Goaltending - Even
Power Play - Canucks
Penalty Kill - Canucks
Coaching - Canucks
Intangibles - Canucks

Prediction: Vancouver 4, Colorado 2

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Got a game you want previewed? Send us your feedback:
mailto:[email protected]?subject=MM

You are welcome to post your thoughts on the message boards at:
http://www.sportscentralboards.com

====================================================

(Thanks for reading! Next issue set to come out on 12/29/02.)

Contents copyright 1998-2002 Sports Central.
No part of this newsletter may be reproduced without permission.
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