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Old 02-10-2002, 11:27 PM   #1
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Default Sports Central Newsletter - #70 - Sports Trivia; Marquee Matchups

The Sports Central Newsletter
February 10th, 2002 - Issue #70

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

- Words From the Editor 02.10.02
- Reader's Showcase (Sports Trivia)
- The Lancaster Report 02.10.02
- What's new at Sports Central?
- Marquee Matchups (NBA, NCAAB, NHL) 02.10.02
- Feature article: Greatest Show on Turf falls flat



Hello folks,

Welcome to the new and improved newsletter! We're debuting two brand new
unique features in this first issue of February. We've also shuffled up
the order of the newsletter a bit. Beneath this Words From the Editor is
the first of the new features, the Reader's Showcase. This is an
interactive section rotating between sports trivia to test your
knowledge and the sports soapbox feature, where you can write-in on
pressing issues that bug you or why you think your team will win it all.

Ross Lancaster hasn't gone anywhere, he's back with his Lancaster
Report, which regularly features his college basketball Top 10, news
from all the major conferences, and a touch of NFL beat. Following the
Lancaster Report, is the rundown of the latest Sports Central articles
and then the other new debuting feature, Marquee Matchups. Our team will
breakdown several key matchups upcoming in the sports world. In this
issue, we've got previews of NBA, college basketball, and NHL marquee

As if that weren't enough, Mike Round has his feature article updated
with a look at the Rams and how Mike Martz didn't get the job done.

Until next time,

- Marc James
mailto:[email protected]


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Welcome to one of the new features debuting in this week's issue. So
what is going to regularly fill this space in future issues? Well, one
of two things, as a matter of fact.

Each issue, the Reader's Showcase features either challenging sports
trivia or sports soapbox entries from readers on a rotating basis. For
the Sports Trivia questions, we will randomly choose trivia questions
ranging from baseball to hockey to golf. As for the Sports Soapbox, you,
the readers, will have the opportunity write-in and have your thoughts
published in front of thousands of eager eyes. More on that in the next

In this issue, we will kick-off the Reader's Showcase with a trivia
question. Are you ready?

ANSWER: What NBA team scored only 2 points in one quarter?

To send in your vote, click the link to e-mail us under your vote

A) Cavs
mailto:[email protected]?subject=Newsletter70_Cavs

B) Mavs
mailto:[email protected]?subject=Newsletter70_Mavs

C) Kings
mailto:[email protected]?subject=Newsletter70_Kings

D) Bulls
mailto:[email protected]?subject=Newsletter70_Bulls

Don't forget, we'll print your name in the next issue if you get it
correct. Good luck!



By Ross Lancaster

--> Gridiron Grumblings

[ Super Bowl Sound-Off ]

They told you not to doubt them. But you did. When the playoffs came,
they held their word. Still, even after upsetting heavily favored
Pittsburgh in the AFC Championship, all of the media, including myself,
doubted the Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots.

With a thrilling Super Bowl win, and one of the biggest upsets in NFL
history, the Patriots won an NFL title that even the biggest Patriots
fanatic could not have dreamed in a storybook at the start of this

Super Bowl MVP Tom Brady, in a microcosm of sorts, won the game with
numbers that were not particularly impressive, the exact formula that
the Patriots had taken to the bank for winning 11 regular season games
and three playoff games, including the 20-17 triumph last Sunday in New

What Bill Belichick has done in New England this past year is nothing
short of a miracle and one of the greatest coaching jobs - ever. Instead
of coming to New England and putting in his schemes that may have been a
to detriment the team, he put in place a plan that would benefit his
players immensely. Coincidentally, his plan led to a Super Bowl

Congratulations to the New England Patriots, who showed that talent and
potential do not always equal victories.

--> College Basketball Showcase

[ Top 10 ]

1. Duke
2. Kansas
3. Maryland
4. Oklahoma
5. Alabama
6. Cincinnati
7. Florida
8. Gonzaga
9. Miami, Fla.
10. Illinois

[ ACC News ]

Virginia might be very demoralized at this point in the season. After
losing at home to Maryland, in a game they led for nearly the whole
game, the Cavaliers have dropped two straight games, including a
18-point drubbing at the hands of N.C. State last week. Does anybody
seem to be noticing N.C. State at all? The Wolfpack have been sneaking
under the national radar, despite being in the ACC, an East Coast league
that usually gets the most publicity of any league. The Wolfpack have
been solid all year, and on the road, as well.

[ Big East News ]

Forget what I said about not knowing who the best team was until they
all went to MSG. I'm convinced that Miami is the best team in the Big
East. The Hurricanes have been the most consistent team in the
conference, with Pittsburgh the only team close to them. While Miami may
be the best team in this conference, there are still seven, maybe eight,
or even nine teams that have NCAA Tournament hopes.

[ Big Ten News ]

After Minnesota and Wisconsin beat conference-leading Indiana and Ohio
State, the doors for the conference title shot wide open. In reality,
only four teams have no real shot at the regular season crown: Iowa,
Michigan, Purdue, and Penn State. Yes, even Northwestern has a
reasonable, but very unlikely, shot at winning the Big Ten. Still, it
should come down to Indiana and Ohio State.

[ Big 12 News ]

Is anybody going to beat Kansas in the Big 12? The Jayhawks are 9-0 and
have a two game lead on Oklahoma. Meanwhile, Oklahoma St. looks like a
very unstable team at the moment. The Cowboys, even when they are
winning, which they have only done five times in conference play, have
to comeback and squeak out games in the last minutes. However, with
having a very high RPI and beating Cincinnati earlier in the season, the
Cowboys should be fine to make the NCAA Tournament with a high seed.

[Pac-10 News]

This conference continues to be the most wide open of them all. Arizona
and Oregon lead the conference at 9-3, while each of the top four teams
in the conference have identical overall records at 16-6. Like I
continue to point out, any game between Cal, Arizona, Oregon, USC,
Stanford, or UCLA is crucial to the conference race. Meanwhile, the next
big game in conference comes on Thursday when Arizona travels to UCLA to
take on the Bruins. If you remember, back in January, UCLA got up early
on Arizona, and ended up losing. Expect that not to be the case this
time, as UCLA should learn their lesson and take over first place in the

[ SEC News ]

Alabama is the best team in the conference, and right now, I'm not sure
it's close. The biggest factor for the 'Tide has been that they have
learned how to win conference games on the road. Last year, there was no
way that they could have gone on the road and beat two ranked teams.
However, their showdown with Florida in two weeks will decide if they
have what it takes to be a serious national contender this season.


Send us your feedback:
mailto:[email protected]?subject=TLR

You are welcome to post your thoughts on the message boards at:



Revisiting the new articles for the week of 02/04/02 - 02/10/02:


NFL: Year-ending NFL thoughts
By Piet Van Leer

The unforgettable Super Bowl XXXVI is history now, but SC's Piet Van
Leer still has some year-ending thoughts and commentary to share. Will
the Bucs ever get their man, Jon Gruden? Just how faulty is the NFL Hall
of Fame voting? And he'll discuss who will be next year's surprise team
to emerge from the cellar of the NFL.



MLB: It's that time of year again
By Moray Pickering

With Spring Training just around the corner, SC's Moray Pickering takes
a look at some of the stories and issues around the world of Major
League Baseball.



GOLF: 2002 preseason PGA picks
By Topher Bordeau

The 2002 PGA Tour might have already begun, officially, but no one cares
about the first few steps of an epic journey. So anything before the
Masters is a prelude, mere warmup for the real season that starts down
in Augusta. Will Tiger continue his totalitarian regime, or will the
Duvicklmearas of the world unite and topple him? Read on for fearless
predictions on the 2002 PGA Tour, by SC's Topher Bordeau.



NBA: All-Star Weekend without the stars?
By Mike Round

In recent years, the NBA All-Star Weekend has fizzled from, at one time,
being what most basketball fans planned their weekends around to
something to catch if the Pro Bowling Association is not on ESPN. Here's
a few ways we can get the All-Star Weekend, noticeably lacking stars,
back to the way it should be, says SC's Jared Spinelli.



NBA: A battle for coaching supremacy
By Derek Kravitz

With his 700th career victory last Friday, Los Angeles Lakers head coach
Phil Jackson entered the "700 Club" and raised further questions as to
his place in NBA coaching history, says SC's Derek Kravitz.



COLUMN: The Amico Report: Midseason medals
By Sam Amico

In this week's NBA report with Sam Amico: from worst haircut to the
midseason MVP, Amico's NBA awards for every category imaginable are
given out; more familiar names in the CBA; Indiana Pacer perceptions;
your e-mail questions answered; and last, but not least, Sam's Slams,
random thoughts around the NBA. It's all in The Amico Report.



NHL: Western Conference dominance
By Jeff Daniels

Dominance in sports often times comes in cycles. The NHL has witnessed
the Western Conference dominate the Eastern Conference in recent years,
winning six of the last seven Stanley Cups. This year will be no
different, because the two best teams in hockey also have the two best
goaltenders and are in the Western Conference, as well, says SC's Jeff



NFL: A fitting Super Bowl champion
By Craig Hardesty

Now that the New England Patriots have won Super Bowl XXXVI, it's time
for the rest of us to come clean - you didn't really think that New
England was going to win, did you? SC's Craig Hardesty brings you the
Super Bowl report.




[Editor's Note: Welcome to our new Marquee Matchups section! Here you'll
find a collection of fittingly marquee matchups in the sports world in
the next week. Our expert team breaks down highlighted matchups as it's
never too early to prepare for the big games!]

--> National Basketball Association
By Ross Lancaster

Washington at L.A. Lakers, February 12, Staples Center, 10:30 PM EST,

The first game back from the All-Star break looks like it will be a
dandy. M.J. and the Wizards are red-hot, having gone into the All-Star
break with a five-game winning streak and an upset of the league-best
Kings. The team they are facing, the Los Angeles Lakers, have been
somewhat struggling, but are still the Los Angeles Lakers. Shaq should
be back for this game, as
he missed the game against the Bulls and pulled out of the All-Star

[ Game Breakdown ]

Offense - Lakers
Defense - Draw
Guards - Lakers
Forwards - Wizards
Center - Lakers
Bench - Lakers

Prediction: Lakers, 101-87

--> College Basketball
By Ross Lancaster

Duke at Maryland, February 17, Cole Fieldhouse, 1 PM EST, CBS

Duke and Maryland. Part Deux. This game, barring a Kansas loss, could
very well be No. 1 vs. No. 2. Maryland desperately wants to avenge their
21-point loss to Duke earlier in the season, and the loss last season in
Cole Fieldhouse in a game which Maryland was leading by 10 with 54
seconds remaining. Meanwhile, Duke wants to keep their No. 1 ranking
alive and hold
a firm grasp on the ACC regular season title. This game will undoubtedly
be broadcast to the whole nation on national television as it may be the
biggest college basketball game yet this season.

[ Game Breakdown ]

Offense - Duke
Defense - Maryland
Guards - Duke
Forwards - Maryland
Center - Draw
Bench - Maryland

Prediction: Maryland, 75-73

--> National Hockey League
By Lee Manchur

San Jose Sharks at Edmonton Oilers, SkyReach Center, February 12 10 PM

The Sharks (28-17-7-3, 66 PTS) invade Edmonton (25-22-10-2, 62 PTS) in
what is sure to be a fast-paced game as both teams play their final
matches before the two-week Olympic break. San Jose stands third in the
Western Conference because they lead the surprisingly weak Pacific
Division while Edmonton is in a heated race for the final three playoff
spots with six other teams.

The Oilers have cooled down since the start of 2002, but the San Jose
Sharks have been on fire. This should be a high-flying game as both
teams are young and energetic, not to mention the valuable two points at
stake for both teams.

[ Game Breakdown ]

Offense - San Jose
Defense - San Jose
Goaltending - Edmonton
Power Play - Edmonton
Penalty Kill - Even
Coaching - Even
Intangibles - Edmonton

Prediction: Edmonton, 4-2


Send us your feedback:
mailto:[email protected]?subject=Game_Previews

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The Greatest Show on Turf Needs a Ringmaster

The Rams became the first team in NFL history to score 500 points in
three successive seasons. They posted a 14-2 record and have the last
three MVP winners on their roster. Add to that, they own the NFL's
third-best defense. Yet, despite all this talent, the "Greatest Show on
Turf" lost Super Bowl XXVI. Why? Mike Martz that's why.


By Mike Round

I've been watching football for 20 years and in that time, I think I've
seen a few great offenses. The Niners, under Joe Montana were assassins
clinical, methodical, and almost faultless in disposing opponents.
Warren Moon and the Houston Oilers in the late '80s with their
revolutionary use of five receiver packages and the spreading of the
field paved the way for Jim Kelly and the Bills to no-huddle their way
through the AFC in the early nineties.

I never got to see the "Air Coryell" San Diego Chargers with Dan Fouts
under center the granddaddy of most pass-orientated offenses but
can't imagine they were any more exciting than the Bills team that
demolished the Raiders 51-3 in the AFC title game back in 1991. Yet
those Bills, those Chargers, and those Oilers never got to own a Super
Bowl ring. They fell short at, or before, the final hurdle offense
wins games, but defense wins championships.

Sure, the Rams won Super Bowl XXIV. But they should have three Super
Bowls by now. This is a team that is virtually unstoppable a team that
can only beat themselves. Kurt Warner and Marshall Faulk, two of the
nicest, most modest men in the NFL, said so this week, only to be
branded "sore losers."

Look at the facts from last week's game. First downs: Rams 26, Patriots
15. Total Yards: Rams 427, Patriots 267. Total plays: Rams 69, Patriots
54. Kurt Warner threw for 365 yards, Tom Brady 145. Yet the scoreboard
read 20-17 Patriots at the end, courtesy of the second greatest clutch
kick I've ever seen, a 48-yarder from Adam Vinatieri (the greatest being
the same man's 45-yard effort in a blizzard to tie the AFC Championship
game the previous week).

So why did the Rams lose? Simple they were out-coached, out-fought,
and out-witted by a bunch of honest-to-goodness veterans and two of the
finest defensive brains in the NFL Bill Belichick and Romeo Crennel.
Right from the outset, Belichick and Crennel confused the Rams, with
five, six, or even seven defensive backs on the field, and by
restraining their blitz.

Pre-match popular opinion dictated that the only way the Pats could stop
Warner picking them apart was to blitz the life out of him. In all,
Crennel called a maximum of eight blitzes Sunday night, as opposed to
the 39 in their regular season meeting. So much for popular opinion.

When they did blitz, it was important and caught Warner and his
offensive line off-guard. Like when the Pats jumped into a five-man
front and Mike Vrabel did enough to force Warner to misplace a throw
straight to Ty Law for an interception and touchdown.

Mostly, however, the Pats relied on their corners beating-up on the Rams
track guys on the line of scrimmage. It worked, as the Rams wideouts
went missing, dropping too many balls and running poor routes all game.
Marshall Faulk was neglected most of the night, by his standards,
rushing just 17 times for 76 yards. The Rams still put up over 400 yards
of offense, but it could, and should have, been more. And led to more

Martz seems hypnotized by style over substance. He uses timeouts like
he's scared someone is going to steal them. He views turnovers as a punt
an irrelevant inconvenience. He leaves starters in when games are over
risking injury to key players in garbage time. He seems determined to
re-write the golden rules of football and prove you can still win. You
can sometimes against lesser opposition. But not against the best
as Sunday showed.

Last year, the Rams went out the playoffs to New Orleans because Martz
ignored their defensive frailties in the previous draft and free agency.
This year, he corrected that mistake, but again fell short, this time
because he couldn't adjust to what his opponent threw at him. There's no
doubt that Mike Martz knows offense, but does he know head coaching?
Like a Bill Parcells or indeed a Bill Belichick?

The Rams still have another year before the salary cap kills them and
this team will have to be broken up. This Rams team is the best offense
I've ever seen, but as a unit, the team has underachieved, and that's
down to the head coach. It's going to be a pivotal year for Mike Martz
because the pieces are all in place for a Rams win in Super Bowl XXXVII.
The jury is still out on Mike Martz, head coach.


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(Thanks for reading! Next issue set to come out on 02/24/02.)

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