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Old 01-27-2003, 12:50 AM   #1
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Default Sports Central Newsletter - #95 - Getting it Done in Motown

The Sports Central Newsletter
January 26th, 2003 - Issue #95

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

- Words From the Editor
- The O-Files: "The Best Event of the New Year"
- What's new at Sports Central?
- Feature Article: "Getting it Done in Motown"
- Marquee Matchups (NBA)



Hello folks,

At this time of year, many focus on the Super Bowl. But our Brad Oremland has a surprise in store for you if you think this year's Super Bowl takes the cake as the best sports event of the new year. Read on to find out what the best sports event of the new year has been, without question.

It's also NBA season and we've got a great article for you that highlights some of Detroit's unsung heroes and the main reason for their quiet success.

Attention AT&T Broadband users: you will soon have yet another forced e-mail address change. If your e-mail address ends in attbi.com, you may soon be hearing from your broadband provider that your e-mail is about to change to ending in comcast.net. According to a Chicago-Tribune story, the change is scheduled to take effect in late March. If you've subscribed to this newsletter with your attbi.com e-mail
address, please re-subscribe through our subscription center (https://www.sports-central.org/features/newsletter) once you're sure the new address is working. Thanks.

Finally, congratulations are in store to the Tampa Bay Bucs and their fans who just completed a demolishing of the favored Oakland Raiders in the Super Bowl. I'm just trying to remember the last time they scored 41 points in a game!

Until next time,

- Marc James
mailto:[email protected]


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|-- THE O-FILES--|

"The Best Event of the New Year"

By Brad Oremland

When it comes to sports, I start -- and usually end -- with professional football. But the best sports event of the new year has been, without question, the Australian Open. Shaq vs. Yao, the Fiesta Bowl, and even the NFL playoffs, have nothing on tennis in 2003.

Early in the tournament, I had seen nothing but highlights and a bit of Younes El Aynaoui's victory over top-ranked Lleyton Hewitt. But last week, I sat mesmerized by what eventually turned out to be a five-set classic between El Aynaoui and rising American talent Andy Roddick. Early in the match, the announcers already knew they were watching a classic in the making. When the fifth set -- the longest in the history of the Open Era -- was finally over, Roddick had won 4-6, 7-6 (7-5), 4-6, 6-4, 21-19. A significant time difference in Australia precluded my watching the entirety of the match that night, but when I checked the paper the next day, I wished I had made it a power nap to be back up for that fifth set.

The closeness of the match doesn't even reflect the level of tennis being played. Casual fan that I am, I still feel comfortable saying that neither man has ever played a better match of tennis. There weren't a lot of unforced errors -- a combined 86 compared to 209 winners -- and through two sets, El Aynaoui was making more than 80% of his first serves. He was still over 70% after more than 40 service games. I feel privileged to have watched even the little bit that I did.

Less well-played but just as historic and even more dramatic was the women's singles final between Venus and Serena Williams on Friday night. The duo had won the doubles draw the day before and both were clearly fatigued by the third set. Nonetheless, it was a pleasure to watch two women fighting so hard and with such passion. The sisters' reputations have been slowly improving since their father finally stepped out of the spotlight, and let's hope Friday's final will dispel the last of the rumors that their matches against each other are fixed. No one who watched their competition could doubt that each wanted to win -- badly.

Serena, who won her fourth consecutive Grand Slam, was probably the most dominant athlete in the world last year, and now she's started 2003 with a bang, as well, taking home both the singles and doubles titles from Australia. I'm eagerly awaiting the men's final featuring Andre Agassi and Rainer Schuettler, but how it could match the women's final or the marathon between Roddick and El Aynaoui, I can't imagine.


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



Revisiting the new articles for the period of 01/20/03 - 01/26/03:


COLUMN: Amico Report: Jazzy in Utah
By Sam Amico

The Amico Report is a free e-mail newsletter/column from pro basketball columnist Sam Amico. Sam covers the NBA for various newspapers, magazines, and web sites, including Sports Central.



NFL: Counting down to the All-Gruden Bowl
By David Martin

Surprise. Dismay. Some amount of unwanted expectation. And, maybe, just maybe, the anticipation of one of the most compelling and competitive Super Bowls in a while. Those are just a couple of the emotions SC's David Martin felt as Tampa Bay earned a trip to San Diego, and opened the door to the All-Gruden Bowl.



MLB: Spending into a Yankee collapse
By Piet Van Leer

After the 2000 world championship season, the New York Yankees, decided not to re-sign Jeff Nelson. What no one could possibly foresee was that this would be the catalyst for a series of mismanaged moves that would lead to insurmountable repercussions for future Yankee squads.



COLLEGE BASKETBALL: Early season's memorable moments (Pt. 2)
By Alan Rubenstein

The advent of New Year's is the traditional halfway point of the college basketball season. There have been some shocking upsets, amazing tournament runs, and outstanding performances so far. Concluding his series with Pt. II, SC's Alan Rubenstein analyzes the Alaska's preseason surprises, UCLA's mighty struggles, and Mike Davis' antics.



NBA: Getting it done in Motown
By Rich Levine

A quick look at the Detroit Pistons roster won't necessarily create excitement. Chauncey Billups? Decent guard, but a journeyman. Michael Curry? Wasn't he in Hangin' with Mr. Cooper? Zeljko Rebraca? God bless him. The Pistons' keep winning and Detroit fans have only one person to thank, all-star Ben Wallace.



TENNIS: Choke jobs: A necessary evil
By Mert Ertunga

Choking is a hated factor in sports, something to stay away from. It is regarded very negatively, and the common advice seems to be to avoid it at all costs. Are we perhaps exaggerating? This article, by SC's Mert Ertunga, takes a rather "half-full glass" approach to this phenomenon.



NFL: Super Bowl: Just win, baby
By Brad Oremland

For Week 4 of the NFL postseason, SC's Brad Oremland goes in-depth on the Conference Championship games and breaks down the impending Super Bowl matchup. And in Five Quick Hits, he takes on the Buccaneer cult of personality and the best new commercial in a long time.



COLLEGE BASKETBALL: Early season's memorable moments (Pt. 1)
By Alan Rubenstein

The advent of New Year's is the traditional halfway point of the college basketball season. There have been some shocking upsets, amazing tournament runs, and outstanding performances so far. UNC, Indiana, and Notre Dame have shown they will all be teams that bear watching this season.



NFL: Super Bowl preview: Defending Keyshawn
By Kevin Beane

The NFC Championship games are less than 24 hours old, and there is already a mini-controversy brewing about the celebratory garb of Keyshawn Johnson. SC's Kevin Beane calls out other writers criticizing Keyshawn and his selfishness, discusses Jeremy Shockey's fine, and predicts the biggest game of them all: Super Bowl XXXVII.



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"Getting it Done in Motown"

By Rich Levine

A quick look at the Detroit Pistons roster won't necessarily create much excitement. Chauncey Billups? Decent guard, but a journeyman who doesn't quite fit in anywhere. Michael Curry? Wasn't he in Hangin' With Mr. Cooper? (No, that was Mark Curry.) Jon Barry? Not quite Brent and not even close to Rick (netter than Drew, though). Zeljko Rebraca? God bless him...

While some of the worst teams in the NBA, such as the Knicks (Allan Houston and Latrell Sprewell), the Bucks (Sam Cassell and Ray Allen), and the Hawks (Glenn Robinson, Shareef Abdur-Rahim, and Jason Terry) have rosters with two or more all-stars, the Pistons have a group of no-names that are putting these teams to shame.

I, for one, thought last year was a fluke, but man, was I wrong. The loss of Jerry Stackhouse this past offseason seemed like it would put an end to the Pistons' sudden return to the upper echelon of the NBA. Where was the scoring going to come from? Sure, they picked up Rip Hamilton, but after never quite clicking with His Airness in Washington, was he really going to be the Pistons' go-to guy?

So who, you might ask, is doing the scoring for the team with the Eastern Conference's third-best record? The answer is no one. In the entire NBA, the Piston rank only in front of the pitiful Cavs, disgraceful Raptors, boring Heat, and sorry Nuggets, with a 90.2 ppg scoring average. Still, they win.

Why do they win? The answer is simple. The answer is Ben Wallace. Watching this guy run up and down the court is a thing of beauty. He is one of the most dominating players in the league, despite having the offensive skills of a third-grader, and he is the centerpiece of a team that has once again risen to the top of the league.

Despite only scoring 90 points a game, the Pistons only give up 86 (best in the league), and you can be sure that Wallace's 15 boards and almost 3 blocks a game are the main reason. And that doesn't even count the number of shots that he doesn't quite block, but surely alters as a result of his beastly presence.

When's the last time an NBA all-star averaged less than 10 points a game? Has it ever happened? Well, Big Ben is going to be starting at center for the Eastern Conference this season and he is averaging a whopping 6.5 point a game. (Just for the record: this is still a full point more a game than everyone's favorite fat slob, Vin Baker, is posting). If that isn't a testament of how unbelievably dominating this guy is away from the ball, then I don't know what is.

If you have yet to catch a Pistons' game on TV this year as a result of their rather boring style of play and lack of superstar appeal, I beg you to give them a shot. But if you can't, don't worry, because come May, they'll still be around in the playoffs, mixing it up for the Eastern Conference title.


We welcome your feedback on this column: mailto:[email protected]l.org?subject=Feature_Article


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--> National Basketball Association

By Steve Goldstein

Dallas Mavericks (33-8) at Houston Rockets (23-17)
Wednesday, January 29th, 9:00 EST; Compaq Center; Houston, TX; TV: ESPN

The battles among the NBA's three Texas teams have regained their spark, with the Mavs' upgraded talent level over the past couple of seasons. This matchup promises to be tight, despite the Mavericks' league-best record. Dallas showed in a recent Western swing that they're very vulnerable on the road.

The Mavericks may not go into Houston expecting too tight a contest, given their punishing victory over the Rockets last Tuesday, 107-86. Forward Dirk Nowitzki led the way for the Mavs with 26 points and 8 rebounds. Most surprising, though, was Shawn Bradley's intimidation of Yao Ming. Okay, Yao was probably just tired -- as evidenced by Houston coach Rudy Tomjanovich giving him a couple of days off -- but Bradley did come out on top. Bradley was the tallest player Yao's ever faced off against. It may have made a difference last week, but Yao will undoubtedly have learned his lesson. That means he'll be ready to dominate Bradley, Raef Lafrentz, and any other gimmick Don Nelson throws his way.

Nelson's zone defense has caused problems for most teams in the league. Yao has shown the ability to hit short jumpers, so once he recognizes the zone, he should at least be able to have a solid game. Houston's backcourt of Steve Francis and Cuttino Mobley is electric, when the duo is shooting well. Expect the Rockets to be ready to compete, in the effort to avenge their embarrassing loss to the Mavericks in Dallas.

The Mavericks continue to shop Lafrentz. Nelson has been unhappy with his conditioning and his passive attitude. Lafrentz' mediocre play has again left Dallas without a consistent inside threat on the glass. It's forced Nelson to play the zone consistently and to go with a smaller lineup, something he prefers offensively, but despises defensively. Despite some struggles of late, the Mavericks clearly seem to be the second best team in the NBA, behind the Sacramento Kings.

[ Matchup Breakdown ]

Offense -- Dallas
Defense -- Houston
Coaching -- Dallas
Intangibles -- Dallas

Prediction: Mavs 109, Rockets 105


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(Thanks for reading! Next issue set to come out on 02/09/03.)

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