published Tuesday, March 4th, 2014

5-at-10: The King's speech, Hoops dreams, NFL Moneyball and worst costumes

Who knew we'd have a movie-related possible theme show on the day after the day after the Oscars? So it goes.

From the "Talks too much" studios, you are the wind beneath our wings.

LeBron goes for 61

Your move Mr. Durant.

Kevin Durant, the NBA's leading scorer and MVP contender, won January. He scored 30 or more points in 14 consecutive games. He was a wrecking crew as his running mate Russell Westbrook mended an injured knee. He went from Durantula to Slim Reaper to Servant. He was the talk of the league and some even wondered if the 6-foot-9 sharpshooter had become the best player in the league.

That was likely the point that lit the fire under LeBron James, who has gone from The King to King Kong. James dropped 61 on Charlotte on Monday, needing only 33 shots to set a career high in points. James was so good — he made his first eight 3s and none of them hit the rim — that you felt 70 was possible. In fact, he added five assists in the mix, so it was a comfortable, under-control 60-point game.

And it was almost historically efficient, finishing fourth in shooting percentage (66-percent) among players to score 60-or-more-points in a game.

This is only the latest salvo in the last two-plus weeks, joining the list of his dunk tape, his game-winning 3 against Golden State, and his post-All-Star Game torch job on Durant and the Thunder. It's a clear and impossiblr-to-ignore message: LeBron is not going to give his MVP up without a scrap.

Good times. Strike that — great times.

Here are James' numbers in his five games since the All-Star break, when the chatter reached a fevered pitch about Durant: 74-of-109 from the floor, 14-of-27 from 3, 36 rebounds, 25 assists, 37.4 points per game.

Game on. Winter is coming.

———

College hoops

We have Joe Lunardi on Press Row today, and we feel certain the Vols bubble hoops will come up. What else would you like to know from one of the most well-known bracketologists?

Here are a few questions we're hoping to explore:

Is Syracuse still a one seed? We believed a month ago the Orange were far and away the best team in the country. Now, they look like the fourth best team in the ACC. Puzzling indeed.

Which teams should Tennessee fans be rooting against? One of the most underrated parts of the bubble craze is looking around and rooting against Arkansas or Richmond or whomever because those teams are occupying the same bubble territory as your team. It gives us a rooting interest in meaningless games, and all we can hope for in sports is to be vested, either in the moment or the outcome. That's a pretty sentence right there.

How does he think the committee will view the dumpster fire that has become the Kentucky Wildcats? (Side note: If you have not seen it, TFP college sports ace David Paschall has a nice story on the confounding Coach Calipari here.)

What else?

————

NFL money

The NFL salary cap has been set at a record $133 million, which is even more than expected. That's good news for several salary cap-strapped teams. Of the 32 NFL teams, only the Pittsburgh Steelers are currently over the cap according the the NFLPA, and the Steelers have several quick fixes, including cutting tackle Levi Brown and corner Ike Taylor, two moves that will right the salary ship quickly.

Some of the top free agents are flying off boards, guys like Jimmy Graham (franchised tagged by the Saints), Riley Cooper and Brian Orakpo have already been accounted for.

So the posturing during this free agency period will be interesting. It will also be interesting to see how a couple of re-negotiating quarterbacks will play it.

Let's look at Cam Newton and Colin Kaeprernick.

Each will be looking for a big-money extension, either in coming days or certainly after the 2014 season, which is the final one on their original four-year deals.

Newton has said multiple times he has no plans to hold out. Kaepernick has avoided the topic but did say Monday he expects Cutler-Romo-type money, which would be in the $18 million a year range. Which is a very nice range.

Let's look at the stats:

Newton in 2013 — 61.7 completion percentage; 3,379 yards, 24 TDs, 13 Ints, 88.8 rating, 585 rushing yards

Kaepernick in 2013 — 58.4 completion percentage, 3,197 yards, 21 TDs, 8 Ints, 91.6 rating, 524 rushing yards

Wow, $18 million. And yes someone will give it to each of them, but it also means those teams will have to say good-bye to several other starters to go from making $5 million for Cam and around $1 million for Kaepernick to making elite QB money.

———

This and that

  • photo
    Boyd-Buchanan's Austin Walker goes up for a shot during his team's 51-47 Class A sectional win over Clarkrange on Monday at Boyd-Buchanan.
    Photo by Erin O. Smith.
    enlarge photo

— Congrats to the Boyd-Buchanan hoopsters, who advanced to the state tournament. That's something they can't take away from you. Good stuff.

— Congrats to all the area folks who were inducted into the Greater Chattanooga Sports Hall of Fame last night. We were fortunate to be there — hi Billy in Brainerd — and enjoyed the festivities, and a special shout-out to our TFP ace columinst Mark Wiedmer for being inducted. He was in the class with Coach Mack and Ralph and Karen Weekly and a slew of other deserving folks. Well-played indeed gang.

— We have popped the cork on MLB replay, as the new system was used in the Blue Jays- Twins game. The delay was 2 minutes, 34 seconds. The call was correct on the field. Not sure if this a "Be careful what you wish for..." moment or the first step into a technological and better baseball. We'll see. And, hey, any reason to drink more Co-Colas at the ball game is good by us.

— Is there a more dominant team anywhere in sports than the UConn Lady Huskies? Wow. After smoking previously unbeaten Louisville, UConn

————

Today's questions

Don't forget the mailbag. Yeah, you too. And it doesn't have to be all sports, either.

Have you seen the Bucs new uniforms? Awful. Or as Chuck would say, "That's Turrrrrr-bile."

Worst uniforms in sports today? How about all time? Go.

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 ...

13
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.
MocTastic said...

Worst baseball uni? Chicago White Sox with their bermuda shorts in 1976 http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_7ZckZ-8naz0/TGVj7xChRlI/AAAAAAAADcI/azFcSgVU5CY/s1600/whitesoxshorts.jpg

I don't like the tops either. Looks like a softball team for a company team sponsored by Ralph Lauren. And yes, that is the roadrunner, Ralph Garr on first and Minnie Minosa behind him.

What say yall on the newest NFL idea of moving back extra points to the 25 yard line, making it a 42 yard attempt? I like it, more teams will go for two points. Put some excitement in the game.

March 4, 2014 at 10:08 a.m.
chas9 said...

For Lunardi:

What are the weaknesses of the Harrison twins, particularly Andrew?

Why can't Randle handle the double or triple teaming better than he does?

What play(s) would he draw up for The Vols to use when they find there's only 10 seconds left on the shot clock?

What kind of teams are UT's worst matchup nightmare and which kind are the most favorable?

RPI or eye test?

March 4, 2014 at 10:18 a.m.
jgreeson said...

From friend of the show StuckinKent

That's where you were wrong about Syracuse. They were never far and away the best team. They have lost three games- only one of them being a bad loss. When you looked at the upcoming schedule, many people thought they'd lose at Pittsburgh, at Duke and at Virginia. I thought for sure they would lose at Duke and at Virginia. They threw a bad loss to Boston College in there, but really have done about what was expected. In fact, they kept the game at Duke much closer than I expected. That's countered by the fact that they got blown out at Virginia by more than expected. Syracuse is who I thought they were, and we let them off the hook, wait- no- I mean, and that's a one or two seed who can get to the Final Four and maybe win the title. This year has a bunch of really good teams and that's going to make the tournament from the Sweet Sixteen on some kind of unpredictable. The first few rounds may be chalk, but the later rounds are going to be brawls.

March 4, 2014 at 10:39 a.m.
chas9 said...

Stuckey--You know your stuff. But I expect all the tourney to be unpredictable, including the first few rounds. This could be the year a 16 takes down a 1. And it may be, as you said, that we'll have a bunch of really good teams, but there are no great teams. At all.

March 4, 2014 at 10:56 a.m.
Stewwie said...

61 for LeBron? It's gotta be the mask! Is LeBron's 61 more of a statement to KD or to MJ? That's twice now this season that someone has dropped 60+ on MJ's team.

Not liking moving the XP back. So what that professional kickers succeed very well at it? How is that a problem that needs to be fixed? Moving it back won't make me any more likely to watch a game.

Moving it back would make kickers a little more $$$ because their value would increase a bit. And now fantasy football owners will have to have 2 kickers on the roster. (Who would want to start a kicker playing at Chicago or Pittsburgh especially in the second half of the season? Missed XPs are a killer!)

If Goodell wants to generate more excitement in the game, move the kickoffs back to where they were. To me, that's the most exciting play in football (or used to be). Now, it's a bore when a team scores, then we see a 2-3 minute commercial break, then a kickoff goes through the end zone (again), then there's another 2-3 minute commercial break.

March 4, 2014 at 11:02 a.m.
Stewwie said...

Jay, given your stats on Cam and Humpty, it looks like a push on who is better. But I still give the edge to Humpty because of how he's stepped up in big games. That said, if either one of these guys demands big money, I let them walk. The strength of both of those teams is the D. I don't think paying either of those QBs the big bucks and then letting key D guys go would be in those teams' best interests.

March 4, 2014 at 11:05 a.m.
MocTastic said...

JG, just really noticed the title of today's article...costumes? Uh, UNIFORMS! :)

March 4, 2014 at 11:14 a.m.
jgreeson said...

MT —

Was going for for the movie hook. Yes, they are uniforms.

We're talking about PRACT-ice. Not a game. Practice.

And the ChiSox shorts is definitely a Rushmore bad uni. So were those old tri-green Milwauke Bucks. Ouch-Standing.

Stewwie —

We'd be inclined to let them both walk as well because as you said each of those teams are built with defense and balance. It will be really interesting if either of those teams look at QBs in the draft in May.

We'd keep Cam over Colin, but we may be a touch biased in that regard. Plus, Cam is a face of a franchise; Humpty? Not so much.

LBJ's 61 is a statement for any and everyone. MJ maybe. KD definitely. Carmelo too — hey nice 62 and 0 assists.

Stuck —

We said back then that Syracuse looked the best and barring injury we're sticking with them. We mean to stick with sticking with them.

Does that make us stubbornly smart or smartly stubborn? We'll let you know in early April.

9er —

Love the RPI or eye test question. We'll use that.

March 4, 2014 at 11:33 a.m.
jgreeson said...

From Stuck — For Lunardi (and I won't be able to listen but would love to hear his reponse):

What would it take for a team like Stephen F. Austin to earn an at-large? They only have two losses for the whole year, both out of conference. They lost at Texas by ten and by eight at ETSU. The schedule is terrible other than that, but they've won every game. The best win may be James Madison. If Stephen F. Austin had lost to Texas only and got to their championship game and lost, would a 31-2 mark have been enough to get into the tournament? Would 30-3 this year, since they did lose to ETSU and would lose in the Southland Championship Game? I find their case interesting, because they have obviously been very good and wound up 27-4 last year and heading to the NIT because of an upset loss to Northwestern State. They played two non-D1s this year. Really doubt they get an at-large (RPI of 68 at the moment), but would love to hear what it would take for SFA (or their ilk) to get an at-large.

March 4, 2014 at 11:52 a.m.
BIspy4 said...

So Golf Channel, in honor of National Pancake Day, had Brooke Pancake for their Morning Drive show. She talked about her husband Derek. She didn't marry Derek Rende, did she?

March 4, 2014 at 12:06 p.m.
MocTastic said...

Bispy, yuup, Brooke and Derek.

Still time to get them a belated wedding gift: http://www.amazingregistry.com/wedding-registry/brooke-pancake/derek-rende/registry.ashx?a=77175474

March 4, 2014 at 12:16 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

The throwbacks (more like throw, followed by a different directional word) of the Broncos and Steelers specifically are ghastly. The Alex English-Dan Issel era Denver Nuggets unis ... also not good. The Vancouver Canucks, circa 1982, also an experiment in ugly.

March 4, 2014 at 1:31 p.m.
MocTastic said...

There hsa been several Atlanta Braves uniforms I never liked.

The powder blue of Dale Murphy's era:

http://www.nfljerseysupply.cc/images/mlb/supply6383.jpg

And the mid 70s with the stylized feather on the sleeves and the little cursive "a" on the caps: http://content.sportslogos.net/logos/54/51/full/14021204483613.jpg

March 4, 2014 at 1:46 p.m.
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