published Thursday, January 30th, 2014

5-at-10: Durant on fire, Vols success, UTC-Davidson, Manning's ducks and Super Bowl commercials

Gang, buckle up and remember Friday's mailbag, and don't forget about Press Row — our sports radio show with Paschall and Wells Guthrie on ESPN 105.1 FM and here on timesfreepress.com from 3-6.

From the "Talks too much" studios, is that a snowball in your pocket or are you just happy to see us?

Advantage KD

  • photo
    United States basketball player Kevin Durant arrives to watch a women's beach volleyball match between USA and Austria.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

In one of the more anticipated NBA regular-season games in recent memory, Kevin Durant continued his attack on LeBron James' status as the game's best player.

Durant scored more than 30 points for the 12 consecutive game as his Thunder blitz James' Heat in Miami 112-95 Wednesday night. It was one-sided and complete, especially considering the Thunder actually trailed 22-4 midway through the first period.

And for any and all pro-LeBron folks (and we are front and center in the James Gang), Durant left zero doubt Wednesday and cut into the margin between James and the rest of the world. (Granted, that is now a crowd of two that is James, then Durant, then.............................................................................. the rest of the NBA.) Durant was event the more complete player — scoring a point less than King James but finishing with more assists and more rebounds. The final numbers:

Durant — 40 minutes, 12-of-23 (4-of-9 3s), 7 rebounds, 5 assists, 33 points

James — 42 minutes, 12-of-20 (1-of-5 3s), 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 34 points

Does this mean Durant is better? No, but it means he is closer than the 5-at-10 believed and he is playing better than anyone on the planet.

While the Thunder can hardly expect to shoot 58 percent (16-of-27) from 3 on a nightly basis — and no one can expect their bench to go 10-of-12 from 3 like OKC did last night — it's also important to remember that Russell Westbrook is sidelined with a foot injury.

In fact, it's fair to point out that Durant has never been better than right now when, a) more is expected of him, b) he gets to use his most underrated skill — ball-handling — on almost every play, c) there's no debating who is the Alpha Dog, and all of those are directly because Westbrook is injured. Does this continue when Westbrook returns? We'll see.

It's also fair to wish for seven games of Thunder-Heat come June. Good times.

————

College hoops

This could be an interesting 30 hours for the majority of college basketball fans in East Tennessee.

First, let's cover what just happened. Jomo's alter ego Marshall Henderson was the only Rebel with a cause last night as the Vols torched Ole Miss 86-70. It was the best UT has looked since thumping LSU in Baton Rouge three weeks ago.

It also was highlighted by a balanced offensive showing that had four starters in double figures and the insertion of Darius Thompson into the starting lineup. Thompson was the only starter in single digits in points but his seven assists were a pleasant surprise and a much-needed respite for a UT offense that has been battling stagnation.

As for the next chapter in the love story between Will Wade and the recharged UTC basketball fan base, well, tonight will be fun to listen to. The Mocs go to the Southern Conference's house of horrors to visit ol' Mr. Chuckles himself, Bobby 'Giggles' McKillop and his Davidson Wildcats.

What does this represent? Is it merely just another mile marker on the path in front of the Wade Wagon?

We think it's more. It's not a season-maker of course, and we believe Wade and Co. will address in accordingly. In fact, it's a lot of fun to expect the best from the Mocs hoops squad on a regular basis again, you know?

We talked with Wade this week on Press Row (Tuesdays around 5:15 is when he stops by) and he said two things that made a lot of sense:

1) He is excited about getting everyone's best shot. This was accurate and energizing. Oh Mocs Fans, how tickled you must be to be getting best shots rather than being after thoughts... all seems right with the world again, huh?

2) He stated the need for a third-scorer tonight, be it Gee McGhee, Casey Jones or whomever. He believes Z Mason and Ronrico White will continue to play well — and that Davidson will try to get the ball out of their hands by any means necessary — but that third option will be large in tight games like tonight.

Good times. Three other matchups we are intrigued by:

• Brooks vs. Mason: It's almost a version of the old Spy vs Spy. These dudes are breadtrucks that make buckets, eat glass and shoot 35 percent from 3. Mason has been far and away the best player on the league's best team, but let's pause a moment for the continued excellence that has been De'Mon Brooks' time in the SoCon — dude is going to finish his career with more than 1,700 points (he's at 1,527 with half his senior season to go), roughly 800 rebounds and shoot better than 50 percent from the field and 70 percent from the line for his career. Good stuff. Wait... that's great stuff. Or as Wade told our UTC hoops ace David Uchiyama here http://timesfreepress.com/news/2014/jan/30/mocs-vs-davidson-rivarlry-coming-to-a-close/ "Z and De'Mon will be a big matchup and a key to the game. They've both had very good seasons. We need Z to impose his will down there."

• Greg Pryor and Ronrico White against the pressure of the moment and the Wildcats. The Mocs have not been great from the field — 44.8 percent is OK but far from great — but the Mocs have found success and flow because they protect the basketball. They average only 13 turnovers a night and staying under that number could be crucial on the road against the Wildcats.

• Wade vs. McKillop. New school vs. Old guard. Luke vs. Vader. Chaos vs. control.

————

Super Bowl

We are inching closer to the Super Bowl — and speeding toward the offseason, which means six-plus months without football games... sigh — and our man Richard Sherman continues to the be Quote Man Cometh.

After his postgame eruption in the NFC title game, Sherman was asked Wednesday about something he wrote a month ago. While praising Super Bowl counterpart Peyton Manning for being the smartest QB in the NFL, Sherman penned "His arm, however, is another story. His passes will be accurate and on time, but he throws ducks."

And he did not back down Wednesday from that statement, although he clarified/softened it by saying Manning's occasional quackers were about whether he catches the snap and grips the laces.

You know what? Sherman continues to speak the truth. Manning's passes are often less than picturesque in the air, but we all can agree that they do not draw pictures in the scorebook. Or the record book.

And while we can debate Sherman's postgame reaction two weeks ago, we can summarily say his view on Manning's arm is both astute and dumb, even for a Stanford educated man.

Why you ask? Well, he's astute because he's right — Manning has fashioned more ducks that Willie, Phil or Si. And he's dumb because who really wants to pull on Superman's cape before the big game?

Speaking of dumb, as a reminder, here are the wagers for the unofficial Eugene Robinson Super Bowl Proposition Bets contest (we have roughly 20 entries so far, so there's that):

Guide — If it's an over/under that means you have to pick whether you think the final number will be above or below (over/under) the number Vegas set:

• Peyton Manning over/under passing yards at 289 yards.

• Renee Fleming, the opera lady singing the national anthem, has an over/under of 2 minutes and 25 seconds to sing the pregame song.

• The over/under on the longest touchdown in the game is 44 yards.

• LeBron James' total points (Saturday vs. the Knicks) is minus-5.5 over Seahawks total points

• Will any member of the Red Hot Chili Peppers be shirtless during the performance?

• Player who scores the first touchdown will have a jersey number above or below 79.5?

• Denver minus-3 over Seattle

TIE-BREAKER: Total points scored in the game (with Price is Right rules in effect so do not go over)

————

This and that

— NASCAR is considering some drastic changes that would alter the structure of how it would crown a season-long champion. The announcement is scheduled for today, and there is talk that the Chase — the 12-man field fighting it out over the final 10 races — could be expanded to 16 and there is a chance that the field will be narrowed through the Chase to the point where there will be four drivers racing for the title in the final race and whomever finishes first, wins. Let's say two things: 1) NASCAR needs to explore every possible avenue to reconnect with a sagging fan base that has been alienated by a slew of things ranging from the Car of Tomorrow to a forgettable cast of drivers that are cliche machines to the front office's wishy-washy attempts to go uptown and expand; 2) That said, this seems desperate and silly... Kind of like Kurt Busch. So there's that. We'll see.

  • photo
    This Thursday, Jan. 23, 2014, police booking mug made available by the Miami Dade County Corrections Department shows pop star Justin Bieber.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

— Recruiting continues to pick up speed. We had 247Sports recruiting ace JC Schurburtt on Press Row on Wednesday and dude praised UT's class, even if he did think there could be at least one defection among the Vols defensive line commitments. It's also fair to note, as our cohost and TFP college football ace David Paschall wrote here, Alabama continues to add shiny, five-star pieces with the latest addition of Marlon Humphrey.

— We threw this out on Twitter (@jgreesontfp) last night, but thought we'd recycle it here. "How soft is our society today? Public enemy No. 1 100 years ago was Al Capone. Today, it's Justin Bieber. Gross."

— More Vols hoops: Excellent column this morning from TFP ace Mark Wiedmer, and, as Steven Pearl told Weeds, "I don't know that it would ever work out for my father to coach here again." Spot on work there.

————

Today's question(s)

We've been dealing with Super Bowl Rushmores all week on Press Row so we'll get your help and jump start the show now.

What's your Rushmore of Super Bowl commercials?

Also, we have talked about where Peyton would rank all-time with a win (or without another Super Bowl) and we all pretty much agree that Dan Marino is the best quarterback without a Super Bowl title.

But who is the best QB never to make the Super Bowl? Discuss.

And remember the mailbag gang.

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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Comments do not represent the opinions of the Chattanooga Times Free Press, nor does it review every comment. Profanities, slurs and libelous remarks are prohibited. For more information you can view our Terms & Conditions and/or Ethics policy.
jomo11 said...

Jay- thanks for the interesting read on the match-ups for tonight's game. Davidson is a 12 point favorite with Vegas, so it is a tall order for the Mocs, dont forget Davidson took North Carolina to overtime on Carolina's court, beat Davidson's loss to Elon at home, shows they are not unbeatable at home.

Warren Moon, Dan Fouts and Sonny Jergenson , all in the Hall Of Fame with zero Super bowl appearances

But hands down I wood say Warren Moon is the best to never be in a Super Bowl

January 30, 2014 at 10:27 a.m.
jgreeson said...

Jomo —

Wow, did not know the Mocs were a 12-point underdog. Interesting. Somebody get our entertainment broker on the horn.

Warren Moon was the first name to pop into our head, but Danny Fouts is a very good choice.

And Jamarcus Russell too.

January 30, 2014 at 10:30 a.m.
jomo11 said...

or . vomit. . .Jeff George

January 30, 2014 at 10:34 a.m.
chas9 said...

After The Uniblocker's two strong games this week, I heard a nationally syndicated sports wag opine that Davis reminds him of Durant. Not that he's there yet, but he's coming.

Your Tennessee Volunteers won one that was far from assured. Didn't see it, but the stats say the four team stalwarts had strong games, especially Stokes with 13 points and 14 boards.

The good showing came as The Conz started Thompson (23 minutes) over Barton (17 minutes), as I have been urging him to do. Darius outscored Antonio, and, most tellingly, got 7 assists to the former starter's zero, zip, nada.

Good team play starts with good point guard play, and The Vols won the war in team assists, rebounds, every shooting percentage category, including 55% from three land. That's more accurate than Bieber's egg tosses at the house next door.

In this space yesterday Stuckey suggested many of this year's talented Cats will come back to develop another year. If so, they will be joined by four McDonald's All-Americans. The team was announced yesterday and Duke also has four signees on the squad, while UNC has three. No other SEC team scratched. On the girls' side, UT has two and UK one.

January 30, 2014 at 10:38 a.m.
fechancellor said...

10 Ring,

Load me up with some Dan Fouts, crazy numbers, gifted receivers, yet always toiling behind Mr. Davis' (pbuh) long shadow cloaking the AFC WEST. Pick number two, Warren Moon.

Favorite TV commercial, the Duff Bowl with Dan Beerdorf.

In the spicy saga of the poor little rich kid, he's at least looking at home confinement along random alcohol and drug testing. He could even do a little time, and I don't mean Miller Time. However, the threat of jail is just a threat, for locking up celebrities even short term is a massive management problem no Sheriff relishes.

January 30, 2014 at 10:46 a.m.
WilliamRscott said...

I guess my HS classmate Weeds did not know I was in attendence last night in K-town, as I was last year for UK at UT...so maybe Cun-zo needs ME up there more often than Little Stevie Pearl...

JR is good, but what is the best outlet to view the Mocs beating the DC Cougars [as Jay-G calls them] tonight?

Billy-In-Brainerd

January 30, 2014 at 11:09 a.m.
jgreeson said...

From friend of the show StuckinKent —

Davidson All-Access costs money, but it is the only way I know of to view the game tonight. I've heard that it is pretty bad, and the one time I watched on it, I did not have much success.

To me, the Furman game is far more important than the Davidson game. Win or lose tonight, the Mocs can't afford a loss to Furman, Georgia Southern or Appalachian State at home. Need to win those games. Beating Western at home, Samford and UNCG on the road are the next most important games. Lose to Western on the road and tonight's game and that's it? The Mocs will be fine if that's the case.

January 30, 2014 at 11:28 a.m.
chas9 said...

Weeds writes that to make the Big Dance Tennessee will have to finish 13-5 in the SEC. Sounds about right.

But to do that, The Vols will have to split their toughest four games (@Bama, @Vandy, @Mizzou, and Florida at home), and win their other six games. Doable, but tough. If they do that, they deserve an invitation.

January 30, 2014 at 11:42 a.m.
ordinaryguy said...

JG I am very worried about all this Beeber talk...I harken back to Don Vito Corleone's conversation with Johnny Fontaine...your man card could be in jeopardy lol

January 30, 2014 at 12:07 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

5, I care about as much about Justin Bieber as I do the Super Bowl halftime show, awards shows, the NBA (though the Slim Reaper is a great, great nickname for Kevin Durant. Who thought coming out of his glorious career at Texas that he would be capable of being even better in the NBA?) and women's professional soccer. Here's hoping Canada keeps the Beebs - on an ice floe in Hudson Bay.

Watched a little of Tiger and Rory playing in Dubai this morning. Young fella was on his game. A sublime 9 under and it could have been better. Woods was not far off all right - not far off from being OB on most of his drives. He was 4 under but scrambled like the dickens to just to have that.

And 5, you may wanna have the web folks take a quick look at one of the headlines on the sports front web page - Mocs vs. Davidson rivarlry coming to a close

January 30, 2014 at 12:50 p.m.
jgreeson said...

OG —

Are talking about Johnny Fontaine with his good looks and olive oil charm?

You can act like a man.

9er —

Vandy is not as tough as Vandy should be.

Uniblocker has a better chance to be Duncan than Durant. Durant is an elite shooter for crying out loud, a guy that could really go 50-40-90 and average 30 a night.

FE to the C —

You're in. And Duff Bowl was awesome. Duff Man is awesome. Beer is awesome.

Awesome in its awesomeness.

Jomo —

Techincally throwing a football, Jeff George is on the shortlist of best ever. Of course, Freddie Couples likely had the best golf swing ever and he won all of one major (and was lucky to do that).

January 30, 2014 at 12:52 p.m.
chas9 said...

As a student, I was privileged to see UK beat Archie's Ole Miss team. "Archie, who?" Steve Kiner asked, before Manning showed him and his Vol teammates who's a mule.

As a Saint, Archie had little support. If he'd played for the teams Peyton and Eli played for, how many rings would he have won?

And was Eli's desperation fling to Tyree the best single play in Super Bowl history? Tyree never caught another pass after that key play.

January 30, 2014 at 1:13 p.m.
jgreeson said...

Spy —

Here's hoping Rory is back in form. We could pull for that young go-getter.

And this Rivarlry is so big it needs that extra 'r' after all.

9er —

Manning Sr. was Staubach-lite so he could have had at least one, maybe three with more help.

And yes, Tyree's helmet press catch was the best SB play ever.

Sorry Spy.

January 30, 2014 at 1:55 p.m.
Buschleague said...

5-- Listened to press row yesterday but couldn't call in as I was busy hauling sleds and inner tubes all about my hood'. Wanted to mention Elway doing the helicopter move v. Green Bay in a classic game that also went down to the last play.

As far Davis and Smith being on the Broncos ring of fame, they are truly beloved in Denver if not in the (423).

Smith 12 yrs 3 Pro Bowls 2-time All Pro 2 SB Most receptions, yards and TDs of undrafted player in history

Terrell Davis 8 postseason games--1,140 yds,12 TDs, 7 straight games over 100yds. 90 plus in the other. SB MVP League MVP 2SB 3 time all pro 2,000 yd season (only 7 to do it)

Ring of fame indeed..

January 30, 2014 at 1:59 p.m.
jomo11 said...

"Techincally throwing a football, Jeff George is on the shortlist of best ever"

TECHNICALLY Peyton Manning and I are alike, in that we are both white males

January 30, 2014 at 2:39 p.m.
MocTastic said...

Jomo11 and you both live in the Chattaooga area..even more alike than you thought.

January 30, 2014 at 3:27 p.m.
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