After months of waiting on Andrew Wiggins, the best high school basketball player in the country, to make his college-destination decision and set off an aftershock throughout college hoops and beyond, we are finally (almost) there. On Sunday, his high school coach at Huntington Prep (West Virginia) announced the announcement (isn't recruiting fun?!).
Andrew Wiggins will sign Tuesday at around 12:15. He will not hold a press conference type ceremony. Just classmates, family and friends
In case you were busy wondering what living Nicolas Cage's life would feel like, here's what you missed in sports on Tuesday:
The NCAA tournament got under way in Dayton as North Carolina A&T edged Liberty, 73-72. The win was a clear victory for Revisionist Bracketologists, who are well aware of the infringements on liberty that occur when advanced technology mechanizes our agricultural processes. However, the day's other game, in which the Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders fell to St. Mary's, was a triumph for Conservative Bracketologists who respect religion's place in society and who do not support raiding, regardless of the color it takes. Fortunately, both groups found common ground in Kentucky's first-round NIT loss to Robert Morris, as John Calipari is both an affront to those who desire a more equitable distribution of finite economic resources and God.
In a Western Conference showdown, the Denver Nuggets proved their recent winning ways are no fluke beating the Oklahoma City Thunder, 114-104, on the road. "It's not fair," said Thunder forward Kevin Durant after the game. "It's our house. They should have to play by our rules." Scott Brooks lent his star forward a sympathetic ear, saying, "I hear you, Kevin, but be honest, what rules did they break?" Durant fought back tears as he said, "All of them." "Well, that's true," Brooks granted, before asking, "but were they punished for their infractions? Huh? How many free throws did you shoot tonight?" Durant was silent. "Come on, Kevin," Brooks implored. "How many?" "Sixteen," Durant said with a shake of his head. Brooks kept pushing. "And how many did you make?" "Fourteen," Durant said with a grin. Brooks rubbed Kevin's head. "That's pretty good, isn't it? Maybe they just came in here and played really well. And maybe, just maybe, we can learn from this and give ’em 'what for' come playoff time. Does that sound good?" Durant's grin stretched into a broad smile, as he stood up, visibly reinvigorated. "Yeah, Coach, it sure does!"
I want to make a bold statement today, but first, let's have some fun and check out the highlights from what I'm calling "Seth Curry's Wonder-Half." In the first 20 minutes against North Carolina on Saturday night, he went 8-for-10 from the field, scored 18 points, and propelled the Blue Devils to a 42-24 halftime lead that became a blowout 69-53 win over North Carolina.
[Editor’s note: An old friend called and asked if he could take over today's column. He sounded really sad and desperate on the phone, so I agreed.]
In case you were too busy NOT being the greatest shortstop AND third baseman of all time, here's what you missed in sports on Tuesday.
Hey guys, future Hall-of-Famer Alex Rodriguez here. Spike asked me to take ALN off of his hands for the day, and I generously agreed. I figured I could use humor to start getting back into America's good graces after a not so great day of news for me. Hey, it's like they always say, when life gives you deer poop, kill the deer and drink the liquefied remains of their antlers. Hehe. OK, let's go.
We're going to start with my favorite sport other than baseball, and that's NBA basketball. Last night the Los Angeles Lakers of Los Angeles played the New Orleans Hornets at home. (Oh wait, I wrote Los Angeles twice. How do you erase words that you already wrote? I guess it's not technically wrong I'll leave it.) Before the game, I gave my best friend Kobe Bryant like 15 phone calls to be like, "Hey, bud, how's it going?" cuz I could really use a pick-me-up, but he must've been busy or something because he never answered. Anyway, he's a great friend, and the Lakers won, 111-106.
In case you were busy preparing to confess your sins to Oprah for some reason, here's what you missed in sports on Tuesday.
Wisconsin notched their 11th straight win against Indiana, upsetting the no. 2 Hoosiers, 64-59, in Bloomington. After the game, Indiana head coach Tom Crean said, "Oh, those rascals got us again, but wait until next time when we deploy our secret weapon," gesturing at a large wooden crate labeled "Acme Explosive Basketballs." Crean then picked up one of the basketballs and started to cackle, only to have it explode in his hands, leaving his grimacing face covered in soot.
Despite missing Chris Paul for a second straight game, the Los Angeles Clippers continued their torrid play, beating the Houston Rockets on the road, 117-109. Though the Clippers' captain told the media "I'm really happy for those guys, and I'm glad they're able to get some W's without me" after the game, a visibly downtrodden Paul was seen making a Spotify playlist called "Better Off Without Me," featuring both "Stay" by Lisa Loeb and "Torn" by Natalie Imbruglia.
Kentucky avoided a second straight SEC defeat, notching a 75-65 home win against Tennessee. Kentucky head coach John Calipari remained upset with his team after the game, telling the media, "With what those guys get paid, avoiding losing streaks is not good enough." When asked to elaborate, Calipari declined, saying, "Nice try, but I'm not going to incriminate myself wait, what did I say just a second ago? Like right before this?" A particularly sweaty Calipari then proceeded to tell the gathered media that the entire press conference was off the record, and if they told anyone about it, he would totally deny everything.
The Lakers won their second straight game, topping Milwaukee, 104-88, at Staples Center with Dwight Howard and Kobe Bryant scoring 31 points apiece. "Point brothers," Howard said after the game, slapping his teammate Bryant on the back. "Pretty neat, huh Kob-meister?" Bryant did not respond to Howard at the time, but was later seen disdainfully muttering "Kob-meister" as he watched the first half-hour of a bootlegged copy of Zero Dark Thirty on repeat.
The Chicago Bears took their head coaching search north, hiring Montreal Alouettes head coach Marc Trestman to replace Lovie Smith. Trestman, considered a quarterbacks guru, prepared Brandon Weeden, Brock Osweiler, Jason Campbell, Tim Tebow, and current Bears quarterback Jay Cutler for quarterbacking in the NFL. "Wait, are you serious?" said Bears General Manager Phil Emery after being shown the list. "Oh, no. I swear he only mentioned Jay. He didn't say anything about those other guys. I really should've done my due diligence on this one."
The San Diego Chargers introduced former Denver Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy as their new head coach. Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers responded to the news by saying, "Oh, man, I never thought I'd escape being coached by Norv Turner. It's like I'm Fantine and this McCoy guy is Jean Valjean, you know? Here, I'll show you." Rivers then proceeded to sing a mournful rendition of Fantine's "I Dreamed a Dream" from Les Misérables, before laboriously drawing out the parallels between the lyrics of the song and his plight as a famous athlete playing for an underachieving team. A particularly hoarse Rivers then proceeded to tell the gathered media that the entire song was off the record, and if they told anyone he sang it, he would totally deny hitting that high E.
Australian Sam Stosur crashed out of the Australian Open, losing her second-round match to China's Zheng Jie, 6-4, 1-6, 7-5. "Lemme guess," said golfer Greg Norman when approached by a reporter on his way to his car Wednesday morning, "you want to know what I'd say to Samantha. I'd say, 'Get deeper in the tournament before you choke next time, so maybe The Shark won't be the Australian on call anytime one of his countrymen blows chunks under pressure.'" Sadly for Norman, the reporter had been there to profile his charity work, but after the unpleasant encounter, ran with the unexpected Norman-Stosur feud angle instead.
Former Yankees closer Rafael Soriano signed a two-year, $28 million contract with the Washington Nationals. "To all the Washington fans out there, I'm here to earn my contract, and not be another Jayson Werth," said Soriano upon his introduction. Werth, who was watching the press conference alone from his palatial estate, hung his head upon hearing Soriano's words. "I wasn't that bad last year when I played … eh, who am I kidding? No one wants to be another Jayson Werth. Not even me." A single tear then trickled down Werth's cheek, which a servant wiped off his face before Werth had a chance to launch into his own mournful rendition of "I Dreamed a Dream."
Wednesday, January 9, will go down in infamy as the Night of Two Dunks. It started with Illinois' Brandon Paul trying his luck against Minnesota's Trevor Mbakwe:
On any other night, that would easily be the top jam. It was so good that if you had to nominate 10 dunks for some kind of Dunk of the Year award, it would be an automatic entry. There's no way there will be nine better in the entire season. The idea of topping it that same night was ludicrous; at most, you might have a dunk that looked exactly the same, but it wouldn't be quite as cool because it came second.
And then San Diego State's Jamaal Franklin did this:
In case you were out living a life of leisure, here's what you missed in sports on Thursday.
The Falcons intercepted Drew Brees five times and ended his record streak of 54 straight games with a touchdown pass in a 23-13 win over the Saints. In a weird coincidence, popular rabbi Andrew Altman, a.k.a. "Drew Briss," also had his own streak — 54 straight successful outdoor circumcisions — snapped by a falcon yesterday.
I'm one of those people who adhere to a strict famine-and-feast diet on Thanksgiving Day. I'll starve myself throughout the day, trying to not let the aromas floating in from the kitchen drive me insane, just so I can gorge myself like a crazed animal when 4 p.m. rolls around. From an informal poll of friends and family, it seems like this is a pretty common tactic. I'm ashamed to admit that I had to eat an apple to hold myself over at noon, but otherwise I held firm. And the feast was glorious. I didn't stop eating until midnight, when my wife hit me with a pan and knocked me into a deep, 18-hour slumber.
The whole Thanksgiving situation is a lot like the first two weeks of college basketball. The morning starvation is the offseason, when you want to avoid lesser temptations like recruiting updates or NCAA investigations or Tony Parker's eight-month press conference. Sometimes you need to check in on those things just to hold off the hunger, like with my apple. And then, when the season finally arrives, it's a delicious cornucopia of tournaments, amazing matchups, surprising players, and crazy upsets. I can't stop watching. I can't, and I won't! I've now binged on college basketball for two straight weeks, and from the depraved den of hoops gluttony, I bring you my 25 November epiphanies.
Local radio stations are playing Christmas music, the Chiefs are mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, and Dick Vitale went into an on-air rant that ended with him talking about Barbra Streisand’s high school classmates. This can only mean one thing: College basketball is officially back!
In case you missed the opening weekend of the greatest sport in the world, and even if you didn’t, here were the three takeaways that stood out to me.
Let’s overlook the dearth of tremendous, season-altering upsets and what is almost certainly the least-compelling batch of Heisman candidates of the past several years. College football has seasonal affective disorder. Just something about the sun going down at damn near 5 p.m. causes a profound sadness that nothing can cure, not even the ability to buy five pounds of fun-size Clark Bars at rock-bottom, post-Halloween discounts at Ralphs. As a result, the CFMI doesn’t get out much these days, and the past two weeks has resulted in some awful hermit-like behavior. Which is why our cultural framework to discuss the most downtrodden, distraught, and depressed teams in college football is limited to the only things CFMI really can bring itself to do these days. Which is to say, snooping around 7-Eleven’s magazine rack and watch Netflix. Hey, we never said we were about uplifting the human spirit here.
In case you were out living a life of leisure, here's what you missed in sports on Wednesday.
Randy Foye hit five 3-pointers to lead the Jazz to a 95-86 win over the Lakers, who are now 1-4 on the year. After the loss, Dwight Howard embraced head coach Mike Brown in the locker room and gave him some words of encouragement. "I appreciate that, Dwight," said a clearly moved Brown, who then walked to the media room with a bull's-eye taped to his back.
Predicting which freshmen will succeed in a given college basketball season is an inexact science. The rookies have only ever played in high school — except for the home-schooled players, and you can't really trust their stats — and for every Anthony Davis, there's a Shavlik Randolph waiting around the corner, chewing on a piece of straw and grinning in a super infuriating way. But in this age of increased visibility, with beady-eyed, camera-toting men traversing the country to produce frighteningly detailed reports on every prospect from Maine to New Mexico, it's possible to make an educated guess about which youngsters will thrive. With that in mind, it's time to unveil the 2012-13 Grantland All-Freshman Teams.
All this week, we'll be running college basketball team previews for the 20 (or so) Most Interesting Teams. Today we present the Royal Blues, and then we'll work our way up to the Big Guns.
Is it strange to anyone else that the five most legendary teams in college basketball all wear blue? When you look at the four winningest programs in history, it's blue all the way — Kentucky, Kansas, North Carolina, Duke. Turn to national titles, and UCLA emerges as the fifth major power. (Yes, Indiana, you would be the sixth. And yes, you're red, but you can't be mad; you're the best team in the country this season, and the national title favorite.) This year, the Royal Blues are ranked from third to 13th, and since the NCAA landscape resembles 2009-10, when the absence of truly dominant teams opened up the race, they all have at least a hint of a title shot. We begin with last year's champs.
In case you were out living a life of leisure, here's what you missed in sports on Thursday.
Justin Verlander tossed a complete-game shutout, striking out 11 and allowing four hits as the Tigers beat the A's 6-0 in Game 5 to advance to the ALCS. After the game, the low-budget A's could be heard marveling at the "pitcher from the big city." "He stood round 'bouts seven-foot high!" hollered Coco Crisp. "Threw damn near 200 miles an hour!" hooted Stephen Drew. "Man's arm jest about touched yer cap when he reached out and throwed," howled Brandon Moss. "Most men take just a speck ah chaw up on that picher's hill," yelped general manager Billy Beane, "but damned if ole Verlander warn't holdin' an entire tobacky stalk and swallerin' it jes like a baby carrot!"
This has not been a great year for basketball purists, otherwise known as the old guys at the sports bar who complain about players' tattoos and use corny phrases like “he tried putting a little too much mustard on that hot dog” when someone throws an errant behind-the-back pass. In April, Kentucky coach John Calipari’s “one-and-done” approach finally worked, as the Wildcats won their eighth national title on the backs of mostly freshmen and sophomores, despite the prevailing thought that it takes chemistry and experience to win championships in college basketball. And now, almost three months later, the Miami Heat are poised to win their first NBA championship since Pat Riley held up two middle fingers to the rest of the NBA in the summer of 2010 with his “get three max-contract guys on the team and figure out the rest later” strategy, which critics said wouldn't work because the Heat were too top-heavy and the egos of their three All-Stars would almost certainly clash. (Oh, and let’s not forget about that dadgum girl from Baylor ruining the women’s game this year with all her hocus-pocus slam dunks and what have you.)
Yes, Kentucky and Miami redefined what it takes to win basketball championships this season, and the landscape of the sport as a whole might not ever be the same because of it. But while many will point to Calipari's and LeBron James's first respective championships as proof that the Mayans were right, and will complain that basketball as we know it is gone forever, I, for one, am embracing the change.