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Old 02-24-2002, 09:41 PM   #1
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Post Sports Central Newsletter - #71 - Wanted For Grand Theft

The Sports Central Newsletter
February 24th, 2002 - Issue #71

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

- Words From the Editor 02.24.02
- Reader's Showcase (Sports Soapbox)
- The Lancaster Report 02.24.02
- What's new at Sports Central?
- Marquee Matchups (NHL, NBA, NCAAB) 02.10.02
- Feature article: Wanted For Grand Theft: Al Davis



Hello folks,

As the 2002 Winter Olympics wind up with Team USA taking on Team Canada for the gold, you'd think the sports world would quiet down for a little while. Instead, we find March Madness feverishly approaching, Spring Training in the MLB awaking the Boys of Summer once again, and the NBA season beginning to go down the stretch. It's sure great to be a sports fan now!

We've got another jam-packed issue this week with our first soapbox entry in the new Reader's Showcase (new submissions are now welcomed), a brand-new Lancaster Report with a new college basketball top 10, conference news, and a little Olympic twist, along with previews of marquee matchups in the upcoming week in the NHL, NBA, and college basketball. To top that off, Mike Round looks at went down with Jon Gruden, Tampa Bay, and Oakland. A must-read. Enjoy.

Until next time,

- Marc James
mailto:[email protected]


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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, have the opportunity write-in and have your thoughts published in front of thousands of eager eyes.

In this issue, an interesting piece of commentary is posted pertaining to Bob Knight.


--> What About Bob?

"If people aren't convinced by now, they're just plane ignorant. Like him or not, Bob Knight is arguably the best coach in college basketball, possibly in all of sports today. We saw what he could do at Indiana, but nobody expected the results he has shown at Texas Tech in his first year. In just one year, he has turned Texas Tech from a cellar dweller into a Big 12 contender.

ESPN will be showing a documentary on Knight this on March 10th. It will be interesting to see how they portray him. My guess is they will show him as the exaggerated, mean, old man that many have come to hate, and not the coaching genius that he is. Not only does he mold his players into great basketball players, but great students and human beings, as well. Bobby Knight is a strict disciplinarian who expects more from his players, and was born just a little but too late to be truly appreciated for it."

- Rick, Cleveland, OH


Agree? Disagree? Send in your feedback to mailto:[email protected] and we'll post it in front of thousands of interested readers if it's worthy. Also, we're accepting entries for any other sports-related topics.


--> Congralations to Robert Smith for successfully answering last week's trivia question:

What NBA team scored only 2 points in one quarter?

Answer: Mavs

We'll have a new question to challenge your intelligence next issue.



By Ross Lancaster

Tournament time is fast approaching! This week's conference reports focus on who is on the bubble and what teams need to do to make to the Big Dance.

--> Winter Olympics

The USOC's goal of 20 medals coming into these games seemed very optimistic, while a medal count in the 30 would be more appropriate for someone like Norway. However, with 32 medals, and a couple more to come, the USA has nearly tripled their previous winter games medal output. What can we attribute this sudden success to? Much of this success is due in part because of newfound American stars like Apolo Ohno, Sarah Hughes, Derek Parra, and Ross Powers, all of whom won a gold medal in their sport. These Olympics may very be what America needs at this time.


--> College Basketball Showcase

[ Lancaster's Top 10 ]
1. Kansas
2. Maryland
3. Duke
4. Cincinnati
5. Oklahoma
6. Gonzaga
7. Marquette
8. Alabama
9. Florida
10. Pittsburgh


[ ACC News ]
March 7-10 is becoming more and more important by the day. Those dates are those of the ACC Tournament, which no doubt will decide the Number 1 seeds in the East and South between Duke and Maryland, but will also sort out the clustered pack of Wake Forest, Virginia, and N.C. State in terms of seeding. For now, it looks like five teams will make it the to the Big Dance from the ACC. However, Virginia needs not to mess up, as their RPI is hovering in the mid-40s and an under-.500 conference record with Duke and Maryland upcoming can not help them out at all.

[ Big East News ]
Nothing has been settled at all in this league, as up to eight or nine teams have chances at making it into the Tournament. That being said, the only teams that have locked up bids are Connecticut, Miami (Fla.), Pittsburgh, and to a small extent, Syracuse. Notre Dame and St. John's look to be on the good side of the bubble, as the matchup between the two teams next week is looking to be a huge game from a Tournament standpoint. As for the favorite in this league, which seems to change every time I write one of these, it has to be Pittsburgh. Point guard Brendin Knight could very well win Big East Player of the Year, and lead Ben Howland's Panthers to a conference title.

[ Big Ten News ]
The Big Ten is practically sitting on the bubble for the next three weeks. The conference could get as few as three, or as many as six playing in the Big Dance. Illinois, Ohio State, and Indiana are all pretty much locks, having good conference records and high RPIs. After that, it gets really shaky. Wisconsin, who was picked to be an also-ran under first-year coach Bo Ryan, looks to be next in line for an at-large spot, with a 10-5 conference record and many quality wins, including beating Marquette by 13 points in December. The next two bubble teams are Michigan State and Minnesota, who each must win tough games and play well in the Big Ten Tournament if they hope to be dancing. The two biggest games this week in the Big Ten are Michigan State vs. Indiana, and Michigan State at Ohio State. The Spartans must do something to shut down one of these teams' all-around attack, or March may mean three letters - NIT.

[ Big 12 News ]
The Big 12 continues to be the most complete, and consistent conference, except for one team: Missouri. The Tigers have been extremely erratic over the past couple months, which has contributed to their downright horrid RPI of 65 as of Saturday. As of now, Missouri, to put it simply, would not be in the tournament. As for the rest of the conference, Oklahoma St. got back on track for a high seed with wins over Oklahoma and at Texas, who both lie in the RPI Top 25. Meanwhile, the only the thing holding back Kansas from going a perfect 16-0 in conference is a game at Missouri, where the Jayhawks traditionally get played tough.

[ Pac-10 News ]
The Pac-10 is basically a league of haves and have-nots. The top four teams in the conference have a combined conference record of 43-18, while the bottom four teams are likewise of 15-48. However, with wins over Arizona and UCLA this year, Arizona State may be the next school to move into the haves. As for NCAA Tournament, six are pretty much in, barring any bizarre collapse. Southern Cal is playing the best of any school in the conference. Senior leadership from forwards Sam Clancy and David Bluthenthal took over in two crucial wins over Stanford and Arizona, which may end up paving the way for a regular-season conference championship.

[ SEC News ]
Six teams from the SEC are pretty much in, and four have locked their bids already, as Georgia, Kentucky, Florida, and Alabama are all in the RPI Top 10. South Carolina, Tennessee, and Arkansas still have outside chances at bids, but the aforementioned four and the two Mississippi schools are the likeliest to go dancing. Also, the Gamecocks', Vols', and Razorbacks' conference records are all less than favorable. Tennessee's shot at an at-large would have held on at Kentucky last Tuesday night. The Vols were well in control of the game, until they just played scared in the last seven minutes of the game. The game of the week, possibly year, in the SEC, comes next Saturday when Florida takes a trip to Kentucky, hoping to avenge the 70-68 loss to the 'Cats earlier in the 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 02/18/02 - 02/24/02:


OLYMPICS: Take it from the top
By Topher Bordeau

Generation X events like short-track speed skating, snowboarding, and the skeleton have made the Winter Olympics seem a lot like the X-Games recently. And although these events have given the games a little more popularity (and earned the U.S. some much-needed medals), do they really embody the Olympic spirit? SC's Topher Bordeau finds out.



NBA: Don't forget about the Jazz
By Moray Pickering

The Utah Jazz may not be the most spectacular team in the NBA, but that doesn't mean that are not worthy of attention. SC's Moray Pickering takes a look at the Jazz and explains why they are a thing of beauty to watch.



MLB: Is Enron brining down the Astros?
By Clay Allen

After the fall of Enron, the Houston-based energy giant, the Astros are left in a precarious position. The team's ties to the corporation run deep and with the season approaching, are the Astros already conceding defeat and planning a destiny similar to Enron's? SC's Clay Allen takes a closer look.



COLLEGE: The elite three
By John McManus

If you thought that Duke's loss to Maryland on Sunday might have opened up a number one seed in the NCAA tournament, you are mistaken. It did quite the opposite. What it did was all but lock up three of the four number one seeds which, unless dinosaurs come out of extinction in the next three weeks, will consist of Duke, Kansas and Maryland, says SC's John McManus.



COLUMN: Amico Report: Thoughts on LeBron
By Sam Amico

Very few high school juniors can claim they've been on the cover of SI. St. Vincent-St. Mary junior LeBron James is an exception to that, however, as he's already amazing scouts and recruiters with his dominant play. Sam Amico takes a look at the kid who many think would go No. 1 in the NBA draft if he were eligible.



TENNIS: A tennis fan's winter woes
By Tom Kosinski

With the Australian Open over and the next Grand Slam not until May, SC's Tom Kosinski asks, "Does anyone really care about tennis in February?" The answer is no, and while the sport is supposedly growing, viewership is declining.



NHL: Elimination anticipation is history
By Lee Manchur

In the next four days, eight of the greatest hockey games to date will be played in Salt Lake City, Utah. The elimination games of the XIX Olympic Winter Games are sure to be well played with the States playing Germany, Sweden playing Belarus, Czech Republic playing Russia, and Canada facing off against Finland on Wednesday. SC's Lee Manchur takes a deeper look as to why the games are expected to be very competitive.



NFL: Loyalty is lacking, from top to bottom
By Jeff Daniels

The National Football League and their fans have witnessed a very busy offseason. Players are often times criticized for their apparent lack of loyalty to a team or city. The players, however, should not burden the blame alone when discussing the lack of loyalty in the NFL, says SC's Jeff Daniels.




--> National Hockey League
By Lee Manchur

[Editor's Note: This was written prior to Sunday's showdown, but it's interesting to read nonetheless.]

Record: 0-1
Last Issue Week: Prediction, 4-2 EDM; Actual, 3-2 SJS

This Issue: Team Canada vs. Team USA
E Center, Salt Lake City, UT, February 24, 3 PM EST; NBC, CBC

It's a no-brainer what this week's NHL "Game of the Week" is the Gold Medal Game in the men's ice hockey event of the XIX Olympic Winter Games, featuring a lineup of over 45 NHLers.

Team USA (4-0-1) has clearly been the best team since their first game in the Olympic tournament while Team Canada (3-1-1) started off slowly, but has got better in each game they've played. The Americans beat the Russians two days ago in a semifinal matchup that took place exactly 22 years to the day after the 1980 "Miracle on Ice" while Canada will face-off against USA exactly 50 years to the day since their last Olympic gold medal in 1952.

Many of the Canadian players will be looking for revenge on the Americans who won the 1996 World Cup of Hockey. USA came back to win the trophy after losing the first game against Canada in a best-of-three championship series. As was the case in 1996, it is sure to be a close, high-paced game as the Americans clearly have the better offense and Canada the better defense, led
by Doug Weight and Rob Blake, respectively. In goal, Canada would appear to have the upper hand on paper with Martin Brodeur, but he's been average, at best, throughout the tournament. While USA's Mike Richter played stellar against Germany and Russia, he's a far cry from where he was when he was the World Cup MVP in six years ago.

[ Game Breakdown ]
Offense - USA
Defense - Canada
Goaltending - Draw
Power Play - USA
Penalty Kill - Canada
Coaching - Draw
Intangibles - Draw

Prediction: Canada, 5-3


--> NBA
By Ross Lancaster

Last Issue: Prediction, Lakers 101, Wizards 87; Actual, Lakers 103, Wizards 94
Record: 1-0

This Issue: L.A. Lakers (37-16) at Milwaukee (31-22)
Bradley Center, Milwaukee, WI, February 26, 8 PM EST, TBS

Finals preview, anyone? It could happen as the Lakers will travel to Milwaukee on Tuesday on national television. Shaq should be near full strength by then, and Kobe will always do his thing and be great at it. The Lakers are coming off of two straight wins, but that after losing three straight for the first time in Phil Jackson's tenure in Los Angeles. Meanwhile, the Bucks have been slumping, as well, but like the Lakers, are on a two-game winning streak.

[ Game Breakdown ]
Offense - Lakers
Defense - Draw
Guards - Lakers
Forwards - Bucks
Center - Lakers
Bench - Bucks

Prediction: Lakers 98, Bucks 89


--> College Basketball
By Ross Lancaster

Last Issue: Prediction, Maryland 75, Duke 73; Actual, Maryland 87, Duke 73
Record: 1-0

This Issue: Florida (20-6) at Kentucky (19-7)
March 2, Rupp Arena, 1 pm et, CBS

Like I referred to in the TLR, this could be the game of the year in the SEC. Kentucky coming in having beaten Arkansas, while Florida lost a thriller to Alabama in Tuscaloosa. This game will likely decide the SEC East Championship, and the No. 1 Seed in the SEC Tournament in Atlanta in two weeks. Also, this game will likely have much effect on seeding in the real tournament, as both schools can reasonably get up to a two seed.

[ Game Breakdown ]
Offense - Draw
Defense - Kentucky
Guards - Draw
Forwards - Kentucky
Center - Florida
Bench - Florida

Prediction: Kentucky 83, Florida 80 (OT)


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



Wanted For Grand Theft: Al Davis

Two number one's and two number two's. And $8 million. I have to keep saying it to myself because I can't believe it. After trying to seduce the Big Tuna, secretly yearning for Steve Spurrier, dating Marvin Lewis whilst two-timing him with Steve Mariucci, the Glazer family handed over the family jewels to that old card shark Al Davis, in return for Boy Wonder John "I Sleep in My Office" Gruden. One team just gave itself a shot at a Super Bowl in the next few years and it's not the Bucs.


By Mike Round

What do you do if you can't score points, have no receivers other than a possession guy, have a running back who wants out of town, a lumbering QB who couldn't hit a cow's backside with a banjo, a big mouth DT who's seen better days, and a roster full of whiny quitters? Well, one option would be to have your respected head coach revamp his roster through the age-old system of the draft and trades, allied with the use of free agency. Another option, favored by the quick-fix brigade and those who drink vodka before Good Morning America has finished, would be to fire your honorable, dignified head coach who gave pride to a joke franchise and replace him with the latest "coaching genius," as anointed by the great men of the football press.

Gruden had a respectable nothing more record in Oakland. 40-28 with a 2-2 playoff record isn't Vince Lombardi territory. His "Win One for The Gipper" style had allegedly worn thin with Big Al. As had his flirting with Ohio State and Notre Dame. He was entering the last year of his contract in Oakland and was headed out of town at the end of it. To obtain a deal that included two first and second round draft picks for a guy in his last year is incredible. Whatever you think of Davis, the guy can sure make a deal. Oakland gets prime draft beef to add to an already useful, if aging, roster. The Bucs get Chucky, his manic expression and sideline obscenities, his sleeping bag on the office floor, and Rich McKay gets to go on Burnout Watch.

Why any team would give up so much bounty for a head coach is beyond me. Presumably, Bill Belichick's success at New England has prompted this panic move by the Bucs. But, the Pats only gave up one first round pick, and did it, in part at least, to pay back the Jets for stealing their Tuna. I can only assume the Bucs don't trust their player personnel guys to use those draft picks prudently, as the Bucs recent draft record is spotty at best. How Gruden will yearn for those draft picks in the future as his underachieving team whines its way to an 8-8 or so record.

Gruden isn't expected to build a winning team gradually in Tampa, as Tony Dungy was. He's expected to win now. The draft is, in these days of salary cap, the best way to build a winning team, or to refresh a "nearly" team. That option has been taken away from Gruden, leaving him scouring the waiver wire for cheap veterans or hoping to pick up late-round sleepers. If the Bucs miss the playoffs next year, expect the Glazers to hit the Parcells speed dial button again.

If the Bucs really wanted Gruden, they should have given Monte Kiffen the job for next season and courted him for 2003, when he comes free. That way Gruden gets to keep valuable prime draft picks. However, obviously the Bucs were less than confident of getting their man if he had other options, as he undoubtedly would, in 2003. So they pressed the panic button and mortgaged the future.

The big loser in this fiasco is Rich McKay, Tampa's GM. The Glazer family made him look a total fool after recommending Marv Lewis as head coach, only to be ignored by the owners. Why he resigned with the team is a mystery. Presumably, the fat contract and his Tampa roots overrides his pride.

Meanwhile, up in Indianapolis, Bill Polian must be sniggering behind his hand. He gets Tony Dungy for salary to rebuild a struggling defense. It will be interesting to see who goes furthest in the playoffs in the next three seasons or so from the Colts, Raiders, and Bucs. My money isn't on Tampa Bay.


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