Saturday, January 29, 2011

Hoyas Bounce Back - Don't Sleep on 'Em

This blog has been devoid of Georgetown Hoyas posts for a bit, but that is understandable given the team's 1-4 start to Big East play, including losses to St. Johns and West Virginia (at home). Call me crazy, but after a loss lopsided loss to then #5 Pitt, this was looking a little too much like last season, when the Hoyas completely collapsed against Big East foes.

I think it is safe to say that the 1-4 conference start was a blip.

The boys have rolled off 4 consecutive wins, culminating in today's gritty win over #7 Villa-no-fun.The Wildcats may be down right now after losing big to Providence, but the Hoyas were on the road, held the lead for most of the game, and won despite an atrocious performance from Chris Wright in which he had 0 points(!), 4 assists, 4 turnovers, and generally looked unsure of himself while getting trapped by the Nova D several times.Good thing his teammate is Austin Freeman.

I can give you all sorts of fancy analysis, but today was all about the Big East preseason player of the year. Freeman he scored 30 of the Hoyas' 69 points, while shooting 10-19 from the field, a perfect 8-8 from the line, and took over the ball handling duties when Wright struggled. This was a slow-paced, low-scoring game, but the fact that Jason Clark's 10 points made him the only other Hoya in double figures should be all you need to know. Julian Vaughn played a great game, as did Nate Lubick, but Freeman carried the day.

This win puts the Hoyas right back in the Big East mix thanks to several other upsets in the conference. A big test comes Monday night, when the Hoyas host Louisville. One can only imagine what a win would do for this team's confidence, let alone Big East ranking and bracketology.  Joe Lunardi had the Hoyas as a 7-seed coming into this week, but they should be solidly back on the 4-5 line after a perfect week, and beating Louisville and Providence next week.....I'm getting ahead of myself.

I think the greater takeaway from this game game is that if Freeman is on top of his game, this team can survive a poor performance from at least 1 member of Run DMV and beat a good team. That 'depth' will be extremely dangerous come tourney time.

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Better Than Watching The Caps and Wizards at Home - SB Nation Viewing Party

All you SB Nation (Bullets Forever and Japers Rink) readers may already know about this, but SB Nation is hosting a Wizards and Capitals viewing party at Mad Hatter near Dupont Circle on Tuesday. This is a great chance to watch both our teams with fellow fans, meet fellow bloggers, and tell me in person that I everything I write is idiotic. If that isn't enough, there are drink and food specials.

The Wizards will be playing the New Orleans Hornets on the road that night, and the Caps have Montreal at home. We'd love for you all to come out, get some discounted drinks and talk shop with your fellow Wizards and Caps fans.

Here are the details:
  • What: Wizards/Capitals viewing party, sponsored by SB Nation D.C.
  • Where: The Mad Hatter (1321 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington DC 20036)
  • When: February 1, 7 p.m.  (The Wizards play at 8)
  • Price: Free
  • Specials: From 7-8 p.m.: $3 Rail, $3 Bud/Bud Light/Alice Amber Draft (the house ale), $4.50 house wins, buy one appetizer get one free. From 8-closing: Half off all draft beers.
I look forward to seeing many of you all there!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Is Nick Young A Long Term Building Block for the Wizards?

The Washington Wizards are trying to win a championship. No, not this year, but maybe three years down the road. To that end, the only thing that matters this season is evaluating the current talent on hand and putting the pieces together for this dreamy future championship run.

My personal opinion is that this current roster has 3 guys  possibly worth keeping for the long-term: John Wall, JaVale McGee, and Nick Young. I can now hear you singing, "one of these things is not like the other, not like the other one...." Young Sushi is more than a DCLS favorite though, and his improvement this year has been more than enough to convince me that he is a keeper.

This post was triggered by an article from Kevin Broom the WaPo's Box Seats that calls Sushi "Fool's Gold." I was going to write a long rebuttal with tons of incredible research and witticisms, but Rook from Bullets Forever beat me to the punch.

The basic argument revolves around the following:
  1. Whether his style of play could fit on a good team
  2. Does he contribute anything outside of scoring, such as rebounds and assists and does he need to?
  3. Defense
  4. Whether Nick will still improve
1. Rook nails this on the head: Nick's current game is very similar to that of Rip Hamilton and Reggie Miller. He is scoring efficiently enough right now, and if Rip and Reggie could play on great teams as catch and shoot players, then so can Nick. As a matter of fact, Sushi's numbers since becoming a starter compare favorably to those of Rip's career, and do not look out of place next to Miller's.

2. With that in mind, Nick is clearly not a great rebounder or playmaker, but those facets of his game are improving. However, he is currently a slightly below average rebounder, but not an atrocious one, and recent evidence indicates that he may improve enough to be at least an average rebounder. He may never be elite, but he is at least acceptable. Although Nick is a historically bad passer, playmaking is a similar story to rebounding. He will never even be an 'average' passer, but his assist rate has risen recently to over 2 per game, which is not far behind the 3 apg of Reggie Miller and 3.5 apg of Rip Hamilton.

I actually think Nick's catch and shoot style is a good fit for him, because it removes playmaking responsibilities from him.

3. Nick's defense is great and while gaining some recognition, is still underrated. Everyone needs to stop being colored by his facial expression and demeanor and watch him play 1-on-1....he is excellent. Sure, his team defense is not amazing, but his defensive impact for every season of his career has been measured as excellent by metrics. To continue the comparison to Rip and Reggie, this one is no contest....Nick is the far superior defender to either of those guys.

4. Nick will definitely still improve. Rook astutely makes the point that Nick has only had a decent coach for about 2 years, and now has only gotten consistent minutes for about 20 games. I will go even further and say that Nick remolded his game from a slashing to catch and shoot, and is really only in his 2nd season of playing this new way. The jump from last season has been incredible, and it hard to see him not getting better when he is still young, and has only 20 starts under his belt. The only counterargument I can see is that he is taking bad shots but making them at what appears to be an unsustainable level. Even though he has kept this pace up for 20 or so games, Nick may revert back to making fewer of these tough shots. On the other hand, Nick may also learn to pick and choose his spots better, and take more efficient shots.....

The bottom line is then whether Nick is worth keeping, and I say yes. I think we have a rich man's Rip Hamilton on our hands, and although Rip won a title on an oddly constructed team, it is pretty clear that a player approximating Rip is a keeper and building block. Coming into this season I thought an improvement in Nick's ability to catch and shoot, coupled with his already great defense, would make him an excellent 6th man. It is safe to say that Nick has now surpassed those expectations and shown he can indeed be a starter on a very good team.

(Image courtesy of

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Redskin Defense is Star-Studded, or So I'm Told

I can't stand it, but the Redskins seem to dominate the news with their absurdity, even in their slowest time of the year. Today's news is that Brian Orakpo and London Fletcher will be joining D******* Hall at the Pro Bowl. Usually I would say 'La dee frickin da!', but instead I am just confused, and not the only one to notice that this doesn't make a whole lot of sense.

For those of you who stomached the Skins this year (or maybe wised up and just read the stats), you know we had the #31 ranked defense in the league, and the #18 offense: that is a horrendous defense and a mediocre offense. Sure, there are no obvious big names on the offense who probably deserve to 'go to the Island', but 3 guys from an awful defense? Are we the most underachieving unit ever and Jim Haslett is the anti-christ? Are the selections on name recognition to blame? Remember, Laron Landry played like a stud too before getting hurt, so could be a 4th selection with a couple more games under his belt.

I actually have an explanation....

You already know my feelings on Hall and I shouldn't need to tell you that his Pro Bowl selection is absurd, so I will skip to Rak and Fletcher. Just look at the Pro Bowl rosters, I count 26 guys who have been selected but are not playing! LFB as a Pro Bowler sounds great, but he has actually only been designated as one of the top 6 middle linebackers in the game. There are maybe 40 starting MLBs in the league, and only maybe half (total guess) play close enough to a full season to be considered for 'the island.' So LFB in the top-6, sure, and really not that impressive, he is better than mediocre, but certainly not being judged as elite.

Along the same line, Rak is gaining recognition as one of the top 9 OLBs in the league, which is slightly more impressive given that there are 64 starting OLBs (not including however many missed significant time with injury).

So 3 players from the 31st ranked D is crazy, but don't look at the Rak and Fletcher selections as the source of the absurdity. You should look at the 3rd guy, who is completely undeserving, but overall, these selections are not as prestigious as they sound, and if you remove Hall, having 2 guys as late additions to the game from an abysmal D is not insane, even if you want to include Landry as being recognized for a fantastic season.

Though the recognition should be mooted, this is a direct reflection of the lack of a supporting cast and the greatest issue that has plagued the Skins for years - going after big names and players at the expense of depth. The Skins should take this to heart, but probably will just chase Carson Palmer and Herschel Walker(!). At least Herschel's comeback would entertain me for what is shaping up to be another rough season DC.

(Image courtesy of

Monday, January 24, 2011

Todd McShay's Mock Shows Redskins Fans No Mercy

Here we go again with Todd McShay's latest (first?) mock draft. This has been out a few days, but I just found it:

Cam Newton, QB, Auburn
This is another reach for a quarterback, but the Redskins have parted ways with Donovan McNabb, and Rex Grossman is clearly not the answer. There's no doubt Newton has the physical tools, and coach Mike Shanahan and his staff believe in their ability to develop quarterbacks, but he's still a long-term project as a pro-style passer.

Stop, it hurts.

When has a developmental QB actually developed? Tony Romo is the only guy I can think of.......At least Newton isn't Jake Locker. I made my thoughts on the Heisman winner at #10 clear already, so won't rant endlessly. To be clear, I support keeping Sexy Rexy for at least another year while we build the offensive line and other parts of the team.

The other train wreck we all can see coming stems from Carson Palmer demanding a trade. I guess the Skins constitute an upgrade over the Bengals at this point given we had a better record last year, but Carson is finished. If one good thing comes of the McNabb trade maybe it will be that we don't trade for Carson Palmer.Someone needs to step in and stop the madness, so consider this my application for the Redskins common sense/voice of the fan. Here's an opening letter:

Dear Bruce Allen and Dan Snyder,

I can give you extensive notes on an offseason plan, but here are some basics:

-Don't draft a QB at #10
-Don't trade for Carson Palmer.
-Try to trade down and draft one of the 3 best interior linemen available (Pouncey, Hudson, or Wisniewski)
-Also stop, just stop

Yours truly,

Disgruntled Redskins Fan

(Image courtesy of

The State of the Capitals - A Discussion - Part 2

Here is the 2nd half of a lengthy email chain's discussion about the state of the Caps that I decided to turn into a blog post (2 actually).

Red Rover: I'm calling it right now (I actually was convinced of this in December): Jason Arnott will be a Cap by March.

Future Capital? Picture this but with a Caps Jersey

Bushwood Bushwacker: Yeah, you made that point before and I meant to agree. We are definitely playing a strategically different and more conservative game, even if Ovie and Semin still float and we are slanted towards offense, and of course the PK has been (magically? luckily? BB influenced?) tight. These are clearly changes for the team, and you could say they are playoff-y team skills. It's hard to disagree. At the very least it's trading some offense potency for defense... might as well change it up since the old style couldn't get it done.

RR: Green and Ovie need to be benched on the PP. Put in Carlson instead. The power play has gone from once-in-a-generation to absolutely unwatchable in 8 months. I don't understand.

BB: The pp is mystery/shit show. Ovie on half wall with Semin on the point? Who knows maybe BB just sucks and can't fix them.

Polish Sausage: I definitely concur with the idea that our overall more defensive game makes us better built for the playoffs, but star output is worrisome. Aside from pp, which needs Ovie on the short boards, I think we are coming into our own and set to peak at playoff time. Mojo has been very good I think, better than meh. Hannan has been meh, Carlzner is awesome. That said, how do we acquire Arnott?

RR: Since he's a UFA end of season he can probably be had relatively cheap, but a bidding war could drive up his price. Worst case scenario: we lose Perrault, but ideally 2nd rounder would do it.

PS: Sounds like a perfect move, I like Perrault and his scrappiness but his contributions are limited in the long term. It would be great to pull a Flash type trade and grab up a solid dude like Arnott. 

(Image courtesy of

The State of the Capitals - A Discussion - Part 1

I was privy to a lengthy email chain last week that started with some basic mockery of the Islanders drawing 9,000 fans, which quickly moved onto remembering attending an Orioles-Tigers game on a rainy Wednesday night at Camden yards maybe 7 years ago when the Tigers were historically bad - the game went down as the lowest attended in Camden Yards history until last season, but the actual attendance due to the rain has to make it the lowest actual attendance. We sat in centerfield and when we yelled, the batter could definitely hear us. Oh memories..

Anyway, the email chain turned into a serious discussion about the state of the Caps, so I decided to turn everyone's thoughts into a blog post. This was a long email chain, so I am breaking this into two posts and haven't edited almost anything.

Polish Sausage: Who else likes this years team for the cup more than last (aside from the fact that Bruce continues to strand Ovie on the point during the PP...)?

Red Rover: I vascillate (Ed. Note: we use dictionary words in our spare time). On the one hand, we are not a very good team right now, like, at all. Not good on the power play, not good at possessing the puck, not outshooting the other team, our best players are not our best players right now, and there is a general feeling of flatness/malaise that feels like it's rotting this team from the inside out.

On the other hand, when I thought we were dominant last year, we crapped out in the playoffs, so it would appear that nothing in the regular season matters at all, and i mean nothing. Also we are now able to execute boring, ugly gameplans, where you can win without high-flying goal scoring, and we've seen a few games (Winter Classic, for example) where when you couple that boring defensive gameplan with 100% effort you can win 3-1 and look good, and that's what the playoffs are like and i don't see anything less than 100% effort happening come playoff time, but i've been wrong before about that. And we now have a shutdown D pairing that can also score (Carlson and Alzner) which is quite a luxury, plus if (knock on wood) Varly remains healthy, he's absolutely awesome. Then there's the hope that the law of averages damn will break come April and Ovi, Backstrom, Laich and Semin will all start scoring again in bunches, when it counts.

Then I watch a game again and I'm like goddamn, this team is not very good.

Bushwood Bushwacker: I had basically the same thought process the other night watching the Isles. I thought, "this team HAS to be better than the team we put on the ice last year - there is no way around it. there's no way the core did any worse than maintain, and all of the younger guys MUST have improved (plus obvious steps forward for Karlznerson, though you could say Carlson was really pretty nasty down the stretch last year, and this is just the continuation...) and we replaced Flash, Belanger, Theo and Corvo, with Hannan, Nuevlamoth 2.0, and Perrault/MJo. granted those guys minus the goalies have all been pretty meh, but all we really lost was Flash. and then i thought, well... this isn't the playoffs. maybe these guys have been burnt so badly by the overachieve-in-season/flop-postseason shitck that they just can't do it again. they are playing like an old, veteran NBA team, pacing themselves. Plus, there's the fact we did get pretty lucky last year looking at our shooting %. Maybe this is closer to the true talent of the team. But, I'm guessing not, since a lot of the missing production is Ovie/Back/Green, and those guys are sure as hell going to bounce back.

I have the feeling that as soon as the hockey world counts these guys out of the playoffs, and puts them outside of the circle of serious contenders, is when this team is going to play the best hockey they've played.........ever. Kind of a microcosm of that feeling is how often we come from behind and win games. For whatever reason, this team is a bunch of slackers who probably turned their theses (if they ever went to college...) in 30 seconds before the deadline.They just are built to perform best when they have the fire lit under their asses.
Gotta love being the underdog when you really shouldn't be, those teams are always dangerous.

I have hope.
RR: I do too, but the issue of course is WHEN that fire lights their asses. There will come a point when it's too late.
But like I said, the defensively oriented style is better built for a playoff series because it's more likely to lead to victories when they're not playing their best or when the other team is. The playoffs tighten everything and every team together in performance and ability; last year that meant the Caps' death knell because when their power play went bankrupt they had nothing else to lean on. So with this foundation in place now, we just await that give-a-shit spark to ignite (and the stars to pick it up, which we're all assuming is an inevitability).
The 2nd half will posted soon...thought you might need some time to digest....

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