Thursday, November 30, 2006

Carmelo Anthony is freaking AWESOME!!

What a pleasure it's been to witness the maturing of Carmelo Anthony. He may very well be the best scorer in the NBA right now, and he's starting to "get it". It refreshing because I think he can finally lose the "next Glen Robinson" moniker , and prove to the rest of the NBA fans what kind of player he can be. As it stands now, he's the second leading scorer in the NBA, averaging 31.5 points per game. He's been getting his teammates more involved this season averaging 4.3 dimes a game, which is 1.5 assist higher than he's had in any other season. One thing I would like to see Melo do a little more of is hit the glass a little harder, he's too strong to only get 5 boards per game. I have a feeling athe best is yet to come and us Nugget fans are going to be treated to years of exciting play from Melo.

PS. I'd like to take the time to thank Joe Dumars for drafting Darko Milicic ahead of Carmelo, if not for this gaffe, the Nuggets would have drafted Darko and be mired in the basement of NBA still. Mad props Joe!!!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Jay Cutler era begins

So the next "Golden Boy" QB for the Denver Broncos is set to start his NFL career on National TV against a division leading NFC team at Invesco Field. Hope the kid likes bright lights. The deterioration of former starter, Jake Plummer's, play has accelerated the need to get the #11 pick, Jay Cutler, into the broncos line up. Head coach Mike Shanahan has benched other starters this year in search of a spark, but this is more like a lightening strike, rather than a spark. It remains to be seen what Cutler is capable of, but his potential was briefly seen during the preseason and it was good. Cutler has a rocket arm and because of that, he's not afraid to throw the ball into tight spaces. This is both good and bad, especially since he's not going to be seeing those vanilla defenses he did in the preseason. I expect plenty of mistakes from the rookie but I also plan to have my jaw drop from seeing a QB that's not noodle armed making throws for the predominantly orange and blue. My expectations for Jay Cutler are tempered, mainly because he's a rookie and has not seen a single snap in a live bullets NFL game yet. That being said, I'm also excited to see the "new toy" on display and see what he's really made of. Maybe he can jolt this team and wake them up from the funk they've been in. I'm not sure what has happened these last couple of weeks, but Jake Plummer was not the only reason the Broncos have lost two games in a row. The defense has been unable to stop the run, the offense has not been able to getting the running game going and the special teams has been special alright, in a short bus, special kind of way. If the Broncos can go 3-2 over the next 5 games, they should be a wild card team and maybe, just maybe, they can catch lightening in a bottle and make some noise in the playoffs.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Randy Gradishar for the NFL Hall of Fame

One of the best players to ever done the Orange and Blue has continually been snubbed for the NFL Hall of Fame. Recently Randy Gradishar was named a semifinalist for the 2007 NFL Hall of Fame induction class. If nominated, he'd be just the second Bronco to get into the Hall.
The Broncos finally got their first inductee to hall in in 2004 when all time great John Elway was inducted. I have no problem with John Elway being in the Hall of Fame, what I have a problem with is he's the ONLY Denver Bronco in the HOF. No, Tony Dorsett and Willie Brown do not count. The Broncos have been to 6 super bowls, and have one player in the HOF. This is a travesty, namely because there have been other Broncos deserving of the HOF. The glaring omission at this point in time is Randy Gradishar. Gradishar was the heart and soul of the famed Orange Crush defenses of the late 70s and early 80s. Grads, as he was affectionately referred to, was a standout linebacker at Ohio State before anchoring the broncos defense for nearly a decade. Gradishar was a 7 time pro bowler, in ten seasons, with the likes of Jack Ham, Jack Lambert and Ted Hendricks who all happen to be Hall of Famers. Playing in what is sometimes perceived as a "cow town" has certainly hurt Gradishar and his chances. He was a better LB than the recently inducted Harry Carson, but Gradishar did not play in the media capital of the world, and as such does not have guys like Sports Illustrated's Peter King schilling for him. Here's to hoping that the HOF voters finally pull their head out and get Randy Gradishar into the HOF.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Rutgers turns the BCS upside down

On October 30th I wrote the following (normally I'm not one to toot my own horn, but this was too good not to):

The teams that benefited most from this loss? That would be the two undefeated Big East teams West Virginia and Louisville who face each other on Saturday. The winner of this game will then need to get by undefeated Rutgers (Yes, you read that right, undefeated Rutgers) to insure a spot in the BCS Championship Game. Rutgers could easily throw a monkey wrench into either Louisville or West Virginia's plans to get to Glendale. If some very strange scenarios develop, Rutgers could be knocking on the BCS Championship Game door if they win the Big East and are undefeated. So who's rooting for Rutgers? That would be the numerous 1 loss teams such as #4 Florida, #6 Auburn, #7 Texas, #8 USC, #9 Notre Dame, #10 Cal, #11 Tennessee and #13 Arkansas. Should Louisville or West Virginia both stumble and have 1 loss apiece, I'd put my money on the winner of the SEC going to face the winner of the OSU vs. Michigan showdown for the BCS Championship. Isn't college football great?

Yes, college football is great. Last night Rutger's was able to pull off the biggest win in school history and is in the drivers seat to win the Big East title. It will be interesting to see what happens this weekend in the remainder of the games, but for Rutgers to have a shot a MNC (Mythical National Championship) they need help. Those one loss teams that I mentioned last week have to be thrilled with Louisville losing. One again the door has swung wide open for a handful of teams to have a shot at the MNC. Which team will walk through that threshold?

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Green Feet (Forwarded to me by a blog reader)

I love this kind of stuff. So a friend of mine that I had not spoke with in a while forwarded this to me, and asked that I put it up on the blog. Very cool story. Thanks Jen! Her husband flies HH-60s, the AF version of the Blackhawk and their primary mission is combat search and rescue. Green Feet is a nickname for the AF search and rescue community and the 6 toes is for the squadron (The 66th). Both the AFA and Notre Dame will be wearing these emblems on their helmets for this weekends game at Falcon Stadium. The story below spells out the meaning in more detail.

Subject: Green Feet

Since you are the only one I had contact with in the 66th RQS and
since you were so helpful in me tracking down the green feet logo, I
thought I would email you back to let you know what came of my project.
My brother, Gregg Lewis, was a member of the 66th and was killed in the
September 3rd crash outside of Nellis in 1998. Eleven other airmen
died in that crash. My father, Bill Lewis, is the assistant head
football coach at the University of Notre Dame, who travels to the Air
Force Academy on November 11th for a game between the two teams. As a
way to honor the men who were lost in that crash both teams have agreed
to wear the 6-toe green feet logo on the back of their helmets for that
game. I was hoping you could pass this information along to other
members of the 66th squadron. The helmet decal is meant to honor all
members of the 66th - those that continue to serve and those that have
died "so others may live."
The game
is scheduled to be televised by a local Colorado station - maybe you
guys will get the broadcast. Thank you again for your help.

Cool Article on the Polynesian pipeline to CU

Great read, no matter what team you cheer for.


Monday, November 06, 2006

I love tailgating

The smell of meat being charred on the numerous grills fills the air.
The ever so satisfying cracking sound of a beer being opened.
The fans clad in their respective teams colors from head to toe.

Whether it's a sight, sound or smell tailgating evokes many emotions. It depends on where you are but the tailgate sets the scene and tone for football. In no other sport do you have the dedication to perfecting a bratwurst or hamburger. I have learned over the years that people take their tailgating seriously, almost to the point of being over the top. Or maybe it's just passion. A friend of mine has that passion, he created the ultimate tailgating machine from a New Jersey Transit System Greyhound bus and turned it into Orange Force One.

While I'm no where near that level, I do take pride in getting the grill fired up and having all sorts of friends enjoying the cold beer, autumn air, some great grilled food while getting amped for the upcoming kickoff. I was exposed to tailgating at a very early age by my Grandfather and Grandmother. I used to join them when I was a little dude in the dirt and grass parking lot that surrounds Falcon Stadium, home of the Air Force Academy Fighting Falcons. I can vividly recall watching my grandfather pull the chairs, tables coolers and food out of the trunk of their Buick. Typically we enjoyed sandwiches, soda, chips and cookies. What more can you need? (As I found out much later in life, a grill is about the only thing and adult beverages) They had friends that they tailgated with who would park along side of them. I can remember tossing the football with my Grandfather and his friends, many times while I was still in my youth football uniform from that mornings game. Of course at this age I don't know if I had a true appreciation for what they instilled upon me. I guess every start to something has humbling beginnings, and mine date back to the early and mid eighties in the dusty parking lot at Falcon Stadium. I've found that I do the exact same things now that I did when I was 10 years old, except for the beer drinking part now. I drank scotch back then.

The time in between now and those days in Colorado Springs saw "pre-partying" in Boulder, a case of beer and a pathfinder with two buddies in San Diego, a Winnebago with every amenity in Tempe, AZ, reconnecting and actual tailgating in Boulder and going large in the parking lot at Invesco Field at Mile High. I have been lucky enough to have a bunch of great friends that love tailgating, not to mention a wonderful women who not only puts up with this affliction, but rather enjoys it herself!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Looking to Rebound (from a disastrous finish to last season) and Run (up and down the court)

Last season the Nuggets had about everything go wrong that could between injuries, internal strife and inconsistent play on the court. Despite these issues, the Nuggets still managed to win the Northwest division and Carmelo Anthony was able to take his game to another level. The season ended about as disastrous as it could with the Nuggets getting bounced again in 5 games by the Clippers and Forward Kenyon Martin getting into a dispute with Coach George Karl and subsequently getting suspended for the final 3 games of the series. The relationship between Karl and Martin appears to be at least amicable to start the 2006-2007 season. On top of that Martin appears to be healthy, something he has not been since being acquired from the Nets two summers ago. A healthy Martin is a must for this team to have a chance at getting another division title and advancing past the first round for the first time since 1994. Stud SF Carmelo Anthony redefined not only his image but his game over the summer playing with the USA National team and being named a team captain along with fellow draft classmates Dwayne Wade and Lebron James. In addition to being named captain, Melo led the bronze medal winning US team in scoring and steals. Coach George Karl could not be happier; since Karl arrival he's been harping on Carmelo to play better defense and become a team leader. Melo was able to do both with the national team, question is can he do the same with the franchise that gave him an 80 million dollar extension over the summer?

The Nuggets biggest off season need? A shooting guard. The Nuggets got a shooting guard on the cheap, acquiring 21 year old JR Smith from the Chicago Bulls for some gym socks, a ball rack and Howard Eisley. If Smith can live up to his potential he would be the other scoring threat the Nuggets desperately need. It's imperative that Smith plays smart and knows when to shoot and when to find a teammate. The biggest knock on Smith those far in his young career is that he's never seen a shot he did not like. That's a good and bad thing for a shooting guard. It's good that he's not afraid to take shots, but he needs to known when it's appropriate. The Nuggets front line is one of the best in the NBA, when healthy, with C Marcus Camby, F/C Nene, F Kenyon Martin, F Reggie Evans, F/C Joe Smith and F Eduardo Najera. This front court depth will be vital should the starters get injured for a sustained amount of time or need to make a trade down the road. Marcus Camby needs to play in at least 65 games for the Nuggets to be an elite Western Conference team. When Camby is on the court, the Nuggets have someone that can control the paint by blocking shots and grabbing rebounds. Camby led the league in blocks last year and was in the top ten in rebounding. Hopefully a healthy Kenyon Martin will return to the all-star player he was for the New Jersey Nets. The new up tempo offense that coach Karl wants to run is perfect for Martin's energetic and high flying style. Martin is best when he's running the court or getting easy looks around the basket. His energy is infectious, whether that's making a key block that leads to a fast break, or brooding on the sidelines. If Martin can show not only the Nuggets that he's healthy, but the rest of the league as well, there a decent chance he be shipped off if the JR Smith experience is lackluster. Nene, the beastly Brazilian, played in only one game last year, actually is was more like one quarter after tearing up his knee in the season opener. The Nuggets welcome the highly talented F/C back and he's said to be nearly 100% back physically from the knee injury. Nene was awarded a huge contract in the off season and it's time he proves that he's worth it. Frankly, the Nuggets took a huge gamble by signing Nene to that huge contract after major knee surgery and when his most productive season has been 11.8 ppg and 6.5 rpg. Nene make look like Tarzan but so far in his brief career he's played more like Jane. Carmelo should see the bulk of the minutes at the SF spot, being spelled by second year man Linas Kleiza. Kleiza played very well in preseason and should get 10-12 minutes a night. While his style is not flashy or all that exciting, Kleiza is the the type of lunch pail worker that Karl loves.

The Nuggets back court is led by iron man Andre Miller. Miller is a solid yet unspectacular PG. One of the biggest questions is if Miller can be the floor general for a team that has promised to run like the Fat Lever led Nuggets of the 80s did. Is it a good thing when your 5-5 back up point guard has never me t a shot he doesn't like? While the average fan seems to love Lil' Earl Boykins, the die hards are driven mad by his George Constanza like "chucker" tendencies. Some nights when Boykins is on he's a great spark for the team, but the all too frequent nights of pounding the ball into the hardwood only to launch an awful shot as the 24 second clock is winding down are hopefully over. Coach Karl has promised an uptempo pace and that he wants shot up with 8 seconds. Yes you read that right, 8 seconds. I think we'll see a lot less of Boykins hurling up awful shots the season. AS was mentioned above, the SG spot is being manned by JR Smith. The job is his to lose. DerMarr Johnson was re-signed a few weeks into training camp and will have to fight to wrestle minutes away from JR Smith and Kleiza. Karl likes undrafted rookie G/F Yakhouba Diawara as a defensive stopper of the oppositions 2s and 3s. He does not provide much of an offensive threat, but if he is playing tenacious defense he'll get his minutes.

Overall, the out look for the Nuggets is bright. A couple of key things to watch are:
1. The relationship of George Karl and Kenyon Martin. If these two can get along and Martin stays happy, it will be a great benefit to the Nuggets and eliminate an elephant sized distraction.
2. The health of the front line. The top three players in the C/PF rotation all battled injuries last season. AS mentioned above, the Health of Marcus Camby is vital to the success of this team. The Nuggets proved they can play with out Martin and Nene to a certain degree, but they are also integral to the Nuggets winning the division and moving on past the first round.

Enjoy the season folks, see you at the Can!