published Wednesday, March 13th, 2013

5-at-10: The March starts, NFL moves, the biggest draft to date

More Bubble discussion please

The big-boy conferences start their basketball tournaments today and Thursday. There seems to be more at stake this year as the conference tournament season hits than in previous years.

Before we get to the bubble teams that are trying to box out your Tennessee Vols or your UK Wildcats, we want to share an idea.

Try this out. Today should be the semifinals rather than the start of most of the tournaments. Cut a game or three off the regular season — like anyone would miss them — and move the conference tournaments forward a few days and space them better. The last conference title game would be on the Thursday with Selection Sunday on the following Sunday. This would accomplish several things:

1) Teams could enjoy actually winning a conference tournament title. Vandy won the SEC title last year, celebrated for about 45 minutes and then it was all about the Big Dance.

2) The selection committee could make the most-informed choices possible. It's not an every year occurrence like the year that Miss. State won the SEC tournament, but still.

3) Every conference title game could get prime-time play on a TV channel that is no worse than ESPN2. That would help most of the smaller conferences as much as/if not more than an NCAA tournament bid.

4) Think of the build-up and drama between the conclusion of the tournaments and Selection Sunday. This week has been the most enjoyable of the college hoops season so far, and a large part of that is the intrigue and debate about whether this team or that team has done enough to Dance. Let's extend that debate.

———

Dance partners in crime

Ace columnist Mark Wiedmer covered some of this in today's TFP, but it's important to go over it again. We know the Vols resume. They have some big wins. They have a large number of losses. They started the season 11-10, but are 8-2 since and have looked as good as anyone in the SEC, especially at home.

We believe there is more work to be done, and the opportunity of Thursday — a date against dreadful South Carolina or equally tarnished Mississippi State — is survival. A loss Thursday dooms UT. We believe a win Thursday allows the Vols a chance Friday against Alabama to win and go dancing. That's the task, and for the last five weeks, these Vols have not shied from any challenge.

According to Joey Brackets (Side note: For the rest of today and tomorrow, we're going to give everyone an old-school gangster nickname like Joey Brackets. Deal? Deal.) the Vols are the first team out of the tournament as of this morning.

Here are the five at-large teams in front of UT according to Joey Brackets:

Temple (23-8 overall; 4-3 vs. top 50; Strength of schedule: 64th — Next game: Friday against UMass-George Washington winner)

Kentucky (21-10 overall; 2-4 vs. top 50' Strength of schedule:61st — Next game: Friday against Arkansas-Vandy winner)

Boise State (21-9 overall; 4-6 vs. top 50; Strength of schedule: 50th — Next game: Tonight vs. San Diego State, midnight)

LaSalle (21-8 overall; 2-3 vs. top 50: Strength of schedule: 81st — Next game: Friday against the Butler-Dayton winner)

Virginia (21-10 overall; 4-2 vs. top 50; Strength of schedule: 121st — Next game: Friday against the NC State-Va. Tech winner)

Yes, UT must take care of its BID-ness. But losses by any of the above five, is a win for the Vols.

————

NFL moves

The 5-at-10 loves the draft. You know this.

The NFL draft had its ancillary start Tuesday when the signing of free agents started.

There were a slew of of moves, and because this is sports and we're a sports professional (they pay us and everything... it's pretty neat), let's outline some winners and losers:

Winners

— Miami: Loved the additions of Mike Wallace and the reported signing of Dannell Ellerbe. Dolphins got faster on both sides of the ball, and Wallace is an elite-speed guy.

— Falcons fans: Tony Gonzalez coming back means the passing offense will be among the league's most dangerous. Yay.

— Joe Flacco's agent: After a magical month, Flacco got a record-setting contract that has apparently driven the Ravens front office to drink and let all the other players go. Of course, in the salary cap NFL, if the big pieces of the pie go to one guy, the rest of the team has to go looking for pie elsewhere. War Pie.

Losers

— The Baltimore Ravens: Wow, gone from the Super Bowl champs' roster are sack-leader Paul Kruger, Ray Lewis and Ellerbe from the LB corps, receiver Anquan Boldin and possibly safety Ed Reed. Not all of this is part of the monster deal that Flacco demanded, but it certainly has ripples. Maybe we should start calling him Joei Flacco, because while there's no 'I' in team, there certainly is some 'I' in Joei Flacco.

— The Buffalo Bills: The Bills cut quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick less than two years after signing him to a big-dollar deal and lost one of their best offensive linemen (Andy Levitre) to the Titans.

— The New Orleans Saints: The Saints were over the salary cap and were forced to part with starting tackle Jermon Bushrod, who signed with the Bears.

———

More draft love

OK, you know who loves the draft? The 5-at-10 does. You knew this.

Well, tonight is a monster draft that has us somewhat puzzled.

No, not an early NCAA tournament team draft. Nope, we’re not putting the finishing touches on our first mock draft. No sir, it’s not a fantasy baseball draft.

It’s bigger.

It’s a T-Ball draft for the league that includes the 5-year-old 5-at-10 tot. We’ve agreed to coach, and while there has not been a scouting combine and the game film is limited on the neighborhood’s up-and-coming T-Ball class, there’s monster stakes on the line.

Sure, this is the beginner league in which everyone bats. And yes, the two most important people are the coach that keeps them in the batting order and the momma that brings the snacks.

Still, this is a draft and we love the draft. (Side note: Agreeing to coach late in the process leaves a little trepidation along the lines of the old poker adage: “If you don’t know who the sucker in the room is, it’s you.”)

We’re in, and we’re part Buttermaker, part Belichick. We’re ready and even decided that our draft strategy is to go after pitching, pitching, pitching.

Wait? This is coach-pitch, and we’re the coach.

We’re sunk.

Maybe we should draft speed, speed, speed. Thoughts?

———

This and that (with today's question)

— The Miami Heatles are rolling and have won 19 in a row. They are fun to watch. Every sports league/association needs a heavyweight, a black hat that needs to wet its beak at the expense of everyone else. Those heavys also are a target, a goal and a bull’s eye for everyone else. It's a win-win for everyone, even if Miami is the only one winning. We promise that made sense when we started. War Heatles.

— Now that’s what the Lakers envisioned when they signed Dwight Howard. In his return to Orlando, dude dropped bombs. Going all Dean Wormer on the Magic’s Kingdom. Howard went for 39 points and 16 boards. That said, it's puzzling when guys who were somewhat struggling go ballistic on someone when they are obviously motivated. It begs the question: Dwight, why have you not been motivated before March 12th?

— While we’re on an NBA rift: How do the Celtics lose to a rotten Charlotte team by 26 flippin’ points?

— OK, as always, feel free to discuss an array of topics — especially any of the ones above — but here’s our main question: The Big East tournament has annually been one of the best conference hoops events. The last is this week. We were kicking this around in the office, what’s your all-time All-Big East hoops squad: We got Iverson at the point, Kemba Walker at the 2, Chris Mullin at the 3, Derrick Coleman at the power forward and Patrick Ewing in the middle.

  • photo
    Former NBA player Allen Iverson watches the game as his new club Besiktas play against Oyak Renault, during the Turkish Basketball League, in Bursa, Turkey, Friday, Nov. 12, 2010. The 35-year-old has agreed a two-year, four-million US dollars contract at Besiktas. (AP Photo/Hurriyet )

about Jay Greeson...

Jay was named the Sports Editor of the Times Free Press in 2003 and started with the newspaper in May 2002 as the Deputy Sports Editor. He was born and raised in Smyrna, Ga., and graduated from Auburn University before starting his newspaper career in 1997 with the Newnan (Ga.) Times Herald. Stops in Clayton and Henry counties in Georgia and two years as the Sports Editor of the Marietta (Ga.) Daily Journal preceded Jay’s ...

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jgreeson said...

From friend of the show StuckinKent —

Teams Vols/Cats/teams other than these on the bubble need to win today:

Cincinnati over Providence (12:00 Big East Tournament)- Bearcats and Friars both on bubble. Cincinnati probably in, don't need Providence to start making a move up the bubble.

St. John's over Villanova (7:00 Big East Tournament)- Red Storm is out. Wildcats probably OK, but a loss would put them in danger.

UNLV over Air Force (3:00 Mountain West Tournament)- The Falcons are not really on the bubble, but could get there with some wins in the MWC Tournament.

Stanford over Arizona State (3:00 Pac 12 Tournament)- Some people have the Cardinal on the bubble, but the Sun Devils are clinging to bubble hope. Get them off of there.

Oregon State over Colorado (5:30 Pac 12 Tournament)- The Buffaloes are probably in good shape, but a loss to the Beavers for the second straight time would put them in some danger.

Bucknell over Lafayette (7:00 Patriot League Tournament)- SOME have Bucknell on the bubble. Can't imagine that they get bid if they lose, but why risk it?

There's your update for the day. I'll update the Bubble Watch tomorrow.....

March 13, 2013 at 10:28 a.m.
chas9 said...

Dy-no-MITE! Word just in that Hollywood will produce a big-screen version of "Good Times." No word on whether Jimmy Walker will reprise his J.J. role, but if Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford…There's just nobody who can replace Esther Rolle, unfortunately. Maybe a clean-shaven Iverson in a dress...

I heard one of our local sportscasters gripe that Stokes was only named to the second team all-SEC squad. He agreed that McRae belonged on the first team (and he certainly does).

No team placed two players on the eight-man first team, and that's to be expected. There are 14 teams in the league, and they all have supremely talented players. Well, except for Auburn.

If any team got two it would have to be The Gators. Even though UT had two players named to the two teams and my Cats only one, I think they got it right. And I think the big guys picked above Jarnell are better than he is.

Actually, I think Kentucky got one undeserved award. Wiltjer hasn't had enough success to deserve a sixth man pick. But Noel deserves the defensive POY award, and Kentucky-bred Hickey deserved his defensive honor.

Perhaps they should suspend the all-freshman team during the Calipari era since it'll be all-Kentucky all the time.

Yes, the great roundball games are jammed up, so I'd support spacing them out. I don't know if one can even imagine baby-faced Jimmy Dykes as a gangstah, but he says The Vols and The Cats are in. Period.

March 13, 2013 at 10:39 a.m.
BIspy4 said...

I need Ed Pinckney at the 4 and Danny Calandrillo at the 2, maybe Richard Hamilton. Maybe even John Bagley coming off the bench to spell AI. I might put Carmelo at the 3 just to see what happens.

5, at that level, draft size, size, size. The big kid is gonna hit the ball farther (further? What's Ron Bush's ruling on this?) and at that age, he ain't gettin' throwed out on the bases.

March 13, 2013 at 10:41 a.m.
jgreeson said...

Stucky Bubbles —

We're not sure the love for Nova or Boise State that everyone thinks those two are for sure in. Same with St. Marys. And good point on the teams like Air Force that could pick up speed with several wins.

9-ball Charlie —

We agree that the league for the most part got it right, and Stokes was lucky to be on the second team in our view.

He had a fine year, but we think there should be a first-team with five guys, a second-team with five guys and a third-team with five guys. Eight guys is not a first-team. It's a pick-up game.

Patty Knuckles —

Easy Ed? Was he the one that was cracked up in the '85 title game?

And if Danny Calandrillo is not connected, you know, one of us, a Good Fella, well, buckle our chin strap.

Size, huh? We can see that. Not the best player on the board but the biggest player on the board. We'll call this the Kevin Nash approach.

— 5-at-10

March 13, 2013 at 11:08 a.m.
Todd962 said...

Jay,

The key to a successful draft at that level is to cheat. Papa Todd's favorite method was to have the parents of the top players write on their player cards that they had to be on little Todd's team due to "car-pooling" issues. It never seemed to fail and I dont remember ever losing rec league games. You may be a little late to the game to pull that one but you are now wiser for the future.

March 13, 2013 at 11:29 a.m.
BIspy4 said...

A "Good Times" movie? Why do I see Tyler Perry in the Esther Rolle role? Either him or Martin Lawrence. Bet they get Queen Latifah, though.

March 13, 2013 at 11:35 a.m.
mcpell3 said...

a friend of mine in college coach little league/t-ball (can't remember which) and he drafted on the GLM principal. he drafted the guys with good looking moms. I guess he hoped to distract the other coaches...

not sure I'd even rent the movie version of "good times"

March 13, 2013 at 11:41 a.m.
jgreeson said...

Two-pack Todd —

That's good intel. That's Kiper Jr.-level insight.

Patty Knuckles —

Who plays J.J.? Do you go short with Chris Rock? Do you go adult-language and go David Chappelle (if you can talk him into it)? Could Andre 3000 pull that off?

That said, we'll take Cedric the Entertainer as Bookman and put that in the bank.

— 5-at-10

March 13, 2013 at 11:43 a.m.
TennFlyer said...

Simple rule -- Draft kids who have older brothers - they've seen the game, parents know the routine. If out of those go with the GLM plan.

March 13, 2013 at 11:48 a.m.
chas9 said...

Dr. Jay--Absolutely right about five-man teams. Even if there's a tie in the voting, break it somehow. I don't care how many teams you have, it's five per.

Pope Spy-- What name will you choose? And would you accept Oprah in the Rolle role?

March 13, 2013 at 11:49 a.m.
orangeguy said...

The Bills still play football? Who knew?

Not to upset the diehard CBB fans around here... This is by far the best time of the year for B-Ball. Love the opening tournaments around Thanksgiving time and Conference tourneys & The Dance. All that fluff in the middle gets old. Exact opposite of CFB.

Is this the last Big East tourney? More importantly, will the new Catholic 7 tourney be televised or will we watch a chimney to find out who wins?

My 9 year old is in first year of kid pitch. He struck out looking in bottom of final inning for out two of a one run loss against Ringgold Rec's version of Mo Rivera Sunday. I took it harder than he did.

March 13, 2013 at 11:53 a.m.
jgreeson said...

Big Mac —

We typed a slew of things and erased each of them.

That's certainly one approach that would have been aces in college.

Tenn Man —

Nice. That has some merit. If Two-Pack Todd moved into the Kiper role of the T-Ball draft, you have assumed the role of McShay. Well-played indeed.

9-ball Charlie —

Not only five, but by position too. In the SEC coaches football team there could be three running backs and four left tackles on the first-team offense.

Orange Cookies —

Concur 100 percent about the college hoops season.

And yes, we're preparing for the scenario you described. In fact, the Mrs. 5-at-10 is as well.

— 5-at-10

March 13, 2013 at 12:18 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

chas,

Oprah can't do comedy. Do like 5's choice of Ced the Entertainer (son of Mr. and Mrs. The Entertainer? No?) as Bookman. I lean more toward Chappelle for JJ. Who has the Janet Jackson role from years gone by?

And my name as pontiff ...

Pope Diddy I.

March 13, 2013 at 12:26 p.m.
chas9 said...

P Diddy I--excellent points all about the casting.

Jay--An eight man basketball team would need to play with two balls.

March 13, 2013 at 12:44 p.m.
jgreeson said...

Patty Knuckles —

Let's go Good Times cast:

James Evans — Terrence Howard (Also Could be John Amos, who is same dude that played the original because he has not aged much)

Florida Evans — Regina King

J.J. Evans — Will Smith (may be a touch old, but that was part of JJ's charm... they told us he was 18 but in real life he was something closer to 37)

Thelma Evans — Beyonce

Michael Evans — Chris Brown

Bookman — Ced the Entertainer

Wilona Woods — Janet Jackson

Penny (Janet Jackson's part) — Raven Simone

March 13, 2013 at 1:07 p.m.
jgreeson said...

9-ball Charlie —

Good point.

March 13, 2013 at 1:10 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

5, great casting call. Gotta find a way to cover up all of Chris Brown's ink, tho. Might even go John Witherspoon as James Evans.

March 13, 2013 at 1:42 p.m.
Stewwie said...

Agreed the b-ball conference tourneys need to be spaced out better. I also understand the need for neutral sites (that sometimes aren't so neutral), but I think it'd be more fun to play the games at the home of the higher seed. And play them with at least one day off in between games.

What about Ray Allen for the all-time Big East squad?

Good luck in the draft tonight.

March 13, 2013 at 2 p.m.
jgreeson said...

Patty Knuckles —

Is John Witherspoon related to Reese?

Brunswick Stew (in line with the Gangster Nicknames, you gotta have some city nicknames right?) —

Ray Allen was first runner-up to Kemba, who also made the Rushmore with Joe Flacco of sports folks who made a career out of an awesome month of awesomeness.

Thanks for the well wishes. Excuse us, we have to get back in the field room.

— 5-at-10

March 13, 2013 at 3:17 p.m.
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