5-at-10: Conley's ascent, Braves' implosion and the best college football player of his generation

5-at-10: Conley's ascent, Braves' implosion and the best college football player of his generation

May 8th, 2013 by Jay Greeson in Sports - Columns

From the "Talks too much" studios, we believe that children are the future, teach them well and let them lead the way.

NBA

It was a must-have win for the Knicks and a much-needed, karma-cleansing win for the Memphis Grizzlies in last night's NBA playoff action.

In those two series, we believe the Indiana Pacers have too much for the Knicks. We also believe the Grizzlies will win the series with the Thunder, who are not the same team without Russell Westbrook. (Of course we said the winner of the Clippers-Grizz series would win the West, and we're sticking with that, too.)

Each of those series are tied 1-1.

Tonight, the Heatles take the floor in a must-, Must-, MUST-win Game 2 in Miami against Chicago. We said Tuesday we think the Heat will win the next four, but if they lose this one, who knows what could happen.

LeBron James

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

If you had to put a baseline on what LeBron will do tonight in a must-have game, what's the starting point? We'll go 25-12-12.

Speaking of messing around and (almost) getting a triple-double, major props to Memphis point guard Mike Conley, who went 26-10-9, finishing one assist short of the coveted stat accomplishment.

Here are three NBA observations we had in our playoff consumption:

• The 2007 NBA draft has completely gone from perceived bad luck and what could have been to what has built the Memphis Grizzlies. Memphis had the league's worst record the previous season, but still managed to get only the No. 4 pick in the draft. That pick became Mike Conley. Who in a million years would have guessed Conley would be a 100 times better pro player than college teammate Greg Oden, who went No. 1 overall and has battled injuries to the point he is no longer in the league. If that draft was reshuffled today, the top five would be 1) Kevin Durant; 2) Marc Gasol (who went in round 2 to the Lakers before finding his way to Memphis and becoming arguably the best all-around big man in the NBA); 3) Al Horford; 4) Joakim Noah; 5) Mike Conley.

• If J.R. Smith and Nate Robinson were at a shot buffet - say the Golden Corral of shots - who would shoot more? And it does not matter if either is hot or cold, they are still shooting. And no matter how much either shoots, neither is a black hole like Carmelo Anthony, who is the Kaiser Soze of ball hogs.

• How Golden State responds tonight in San Antonio to the Game 1, kick-to-the-crotch, double-overtime loss will let us know if that's going to be a series or not.

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Braves fall by strength

Speaking of kick-to-the-crotch-losses, the Braves took one last night in Cincinnati as ace closer Craig Kimbrel allowed back-to-back homers with two outs in the ninth that snatched defeat from the jaws of victory in a 5-4 loss at Cincinnati.

Cincinnati Reds' Shin-Soo Choo, 17, is greeted at home plate after hitting a walk-off home run off Atlanta Braves relief pitcher Craig Kimbrel in the ninth inning of a baseball game in Cincinnati.

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

It's Kimbrel's third blown save in 13 chances this year, a staggering stat considering he had just 11 in the previous two years combined.

Kimbrel's last-second meltdown - he needed just one more strike against some pinch-hitter named Devin Mesoraco, who connected for a solo shot before Shin-Soo Choo hit a walk-off homer - wasted a quality start by Kris Medlen.

How the Braves in general - and Kimbrel in particular - respond to a loss like this will speak volumes about the leadership inside the clubhouse.

This was the type of situation that Bobby Cox became a master at handling. It's one of the reasons he was the best regular-season manager around, he massaged and controlled delicate situations that could spin out of control in the marathon that is the baseball season.

Well, that and the fact that he had a rotation of starting pitchers that was 60-percent Hall of Famers for most of his time in the A-T-L. Good times.

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College football Hall of Fame

The 2013 class for the college football Hall of Fame was announced Tuesday and it's filled with stud ducks.

We discussed Vinny Testaverde yesterday, and how the former Heisman Trophy winner had a 22-3 career record as the starting quarterback for the dynasty that was the Miami Hurricanes in the mid-1980s.

Well, he was joined by two other Heisman winners - Ron Dayne and Danny Wuerffel - and former No. 1 overall draft pick Orlando Pace.

Also in the class was Tommie Frazier, the Nebraska quarterback who had a 34-3 record as a starter. You know, you can make a hard argument that Tommie Frazier is the best college football player of in the last 20 years and likely the best since Herschel Walker.

Discuss.

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This and that

Side note: This has been quite the busy May, no?

- Butch Jones was in town Tuesday, read UT ace Downtown Patrick Brown's report here.

University of Georgia coaches Mark Fox, left, and Mark Richt sign autographs for Gregory and Gwen Raines during UGA Day at the Colonnade in Ringgold, Ga., on Tuesday.

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

- Mark Richt was in town Tuesday, read SEC ace David Paschall's report here.

- UT point guard Trae Golden is leaving the Vols, read Downtown's report here.

- Davidson is leaving for the A-10, read SoCon ace John Frierson/Ned Ryerson's (Bing) report here. (Side note: If the SoCon drama was an SNL sketch, we're getting Martin Short to come out of retirement to play commissioner John Iamarino. Good times.)

- So if you're scoring at home, that means the SoCon has lost football powers App State and Georgia to the Sun Belt and basketball bigwigs College of Charleston and Davidson. Ouch-standing.

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Today's question

Remember Friday's mailbag. So what say you you? What's this lying around stuff? Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Heck no, and it ain't over now.

For today's question let's revisit the college football Hall of Fame for one second. If you disagree with Tommie Frazier being the best college football player of the last 20 years, discuss it here.

We'll even throw this out there: Who are the best college football players of their decades?

We'll take Herschel in the 1980s, Frazier in the 90s and Tebow in 00s. Who you got, and if you want to go into the 70s and such, feel free.

Discuss.