5-at-10: UTC's big moment, Tiger tees it up, more Sherman

5-at-10: UTC's big moment, Tiger tees it up, more Sherman

January 23rd, 2014 by Jay Greeson in Sports - Columns

Gang, we have a mailbag spot or two open so fire away.

From the "Talks too much" studios, apparently love won't keep them together after all.

UTC hoops tonight

After winning eight in a row and rolling up a 6-0 start in the Southern Conference, UTC basketball has our attention.

Now, we ask, what will they do with it?

XY Mocs coach Will Wade asked for 5,000 fans tonight. We don't think there will be that many, but we believe there will be more than 4K. Let's set the over/under at 4,250.

UTC men's head basketball coach Will Wade.

Photo by C. B. Schmelter/Times Free Press.

But moments like this in the past - times when the momentum started to build and the current reasons for optimism that were embraced despite being far outweighed by rational evidence of recent history - UTC has struggled.

So what do we expect tonight?

We expect Elon to start inside and work out - the Phoenix are efficiently built are a 6-10 center and have surrounded him with accurate 3-point shooters. Four Elon players average double-figures. We expect UTC to be tough defensively - the XY Mocs play with fire, which is far different that the play Fire - and we expect Z Mason to continue to do Z Mason-type things.

This will be a stern test, and it is one that in the last decade or so UTC would have flunked.

But this is not the UTC of the recent past. This is a bunch that has energy and discipline, a seldom-seen combination that once seemed as volatile as kerosene and a spark before Wade arrived. The pre- Wade XY Mocs were either too-buttoned down or too uncontrollable, and those drastic team mood swings were puzzling and unpredictable.

Though the players' faces are the same, this is not that bunch. Not by a long shot. We expect a tight game - Elon is experienced and likely has the edge of being without expectation of playing on the road and we all know how everyone embraces the 'underdog' role - that could go either.

More importantly though, we expect this to be the first of many "important" SoCon games for Wade and the Mocs, something that never materialized until March in years past.

And that's a monster UTC win regardless of tonight's score.

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Tiger tees it up

Tiger Woods

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

The man, the myth, the legend, Tiger Woods tees it up today to start his 2014 golf campaign at Torrey Pines.

We want Tiger to be back in the mix of every major. It makes golf more fun.

Last year, Woods was right there in the Masters and the British Open. In fact if his approach on No. 15 in the second round had not hit the flagstick and gone into the water which resulted in the drop heard round the world and introduced the planet to Brandel Chamblee, he likely would have won the Masters.

So he was close some and not-so-close some. After finishing way back in the other two majors (tied for 32nd at the The US Open and tied for 40th at the PGA), there is an equal ebb-and-flow about whether Tiger will or won't end his majorless streak in '14.

It's been since the 2008 US Open since he won a major, and before that, to even mention that Woods would go almost six years without a major would be as crazy as suggesting that a Stanford grad with a 3.9 GPA was a thug. Wait a minute. Is that Richard Sherman's intro music...

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More Sherman

Seattle Seahawks' Richard Sherman celebrates after the NFL football NFC Championship game against the San Francisco 49ers in Seattle. The Seahawks won 23-17 to advance to Super Bowl XLVIII.

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

We're on board. We are a Richard Sherman fan.

Unless you live under a frozen rock somewhere near Alpha Base near the North Pole (say hi to Santa), Richard Sherman is the NFL's best cornerback and most talked about player this pre-pre-week of the Super Bowl after his passionate interview with Erin Andrews. Sherman had hard words and made some questionable gestures toward the 49res in general and receiver Michael Crabtree in particular.

Sherman apologized for taking the focus off the performance of his team. He has made his peace with it, even though he very little to make peace with considering he and Crabtree had a volatile relationship from previous run-ins.

All of this is in the rearview, and whether you are a Sherman fan as we are or believe Sherman to be the face of poor sportsmanship, that's up to you. But the more we learn about Sherman the more impressed we are.

Dude grew up in Compton in arguably the toughest neighborhood in the country and graduated second in his high school class. He had a 3.9 at Stanford and graduated in three years with a degree in communication and is pursuing his Masters. He was the 24th corner drafted in 2011 draft, going in the fifth round, and by working at his craft and on his skills has become arguably the best defensive player in the NFL.

And through all this controversy he continues to take as many polished and near-perfect steps as Tom Hanks playing the piano in Big.

The audio from the game showed Sherman said, "Hell of a game. Hell of a game," when he approached Crabtree afterward, and while it was likely a questionable decision to approach a foe - especially one with whom you have a history - right after the game, the only thing that he did following the biggest play in the history of his franchise with which seems overly egregious was the 'choke' he did toward Colin Kaepernick.

To cap this circus, Sherman aced Wednesday's press conference, becoming one of the only NFL players we can ever recall to use oxymoron correctly in a sentence before offering up this gem.

Compared to guys who are much worse but are publicly embraced for whatever reason - guys like Deion or Ray Lewis or Cris Carter or Jim McMahon or whomever - Sherman is getting an avalanche of criticism. So it goes.

And he appears to be able to take it, because as famous and fellow Compton poet Eazy E told us many years ago, "the Boyz in the hood are always hard."

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This and that

- The Oakland Raiders are being sued by their cheerleaders. Somewhere Al Davis is rolling over in his sweatsuit.

- The New York Yankees gave Masahiro Tanaka $155 million over seven years. Add in the $20 million the bottomless-pocketed Yankees had to pay just to negotiate with Tanaka, and that's the second-most a team has ever spent to sign a pitcher. Wow. By all reports he has very-good-to-great stuff, but dude has pitched to the same number of big league hitters as you and Spy. (And Spy would sign with the Yankees - yes even the Yankees - for far less than $175 million.)

Jordan McRae

- Big win for the Vols last night, which proved two things: 1) Jordan McRae is going to have to make a serious push at SEC player of the year for the Vols to win 12 conference games; 2) Home-cooking tastes especially good when you are at home. Case in point - After UT did not get a close call in Rupp, the Vols shot 38 free throws to Arlansas' 17 Wednesday and the quid pro call of officiating karma swung back in The Conz's favor with the "flagrant foul" against Arkansas that became a five-point play capped by a McRae 3 that completely swung the momentum in UT's 81-74 win over the Hogs. McRae finished with 34 points.

- In today's celebrity news: Justin Bieber was arrested from drag racing and suspicion of DUI in Miami, and there is talk that Captain & Tennille are splitting after 39 years of marriage. Tear.

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Today's question(s)

Gang, grab the mic and start your flow.

If you need talking points, OK here are a couple:

What jazz hands, rope-a-dope move will Roger Goodell try next? After wasting time on "PAT: Friend or foe" Good-sell is now floating the world-moving debate of NFL playoffs on Friday night. Great. It's all a smoke screen to deflect attention from a) his outdoor Super Bowl is going to be a pain in the neck and b) the real issues from correction replay to concussions to the flag-football-esque rules that are on the horizon. What's next? Pro Bowl overtime concerns?

What do you expect from the Mocs tonight?