Sunday, June 17, 2007

UPDATED: Warrior Sports Sunday Truth

The Nuggets front office was definitely paying attention to the NBA Finals, especially how, for all the talk about Tim Duncan and LeBron James, how the Spurs backcourt of Tony Parker Longoria and Manu Ginobli dissected the Cavaliers defense to the bone.

Denver feels a healthy Allen Iverson will give them that Spurs-type advantage, the same strength that Miami had with Dwyane Wade, the same weapon Detroit had with Chauncey Billups and Rip Hamilton, to win in the playoffs.

With J.R. Smith likely having to be written off as a player at this point, his on-court and off-court immaturity maddening to coach George Karl and management, this prediction is ROCK SOLID -- the Nuggets will aggressively pursue help at off guard this offseason, seeking a starter, either by making a trade to re-enter this month's draft or by acquiring a veteran, to give them the power on the perimeter, with Iverson, to balance the team's inside strength.

Where have you gone, David Thompson?

Tales of two programs

Recently, Kansas State has either been on par with CU basketball or worse. Now, the Wildcats, after the brief but successful Bob Huggins' tenure, are a rising program (which won't last) due to a major B-12 shot of talent.

Prep phenom Michael Beasley, last year's star recruit -- Bill Walker, and highly-regarded Jacob Pullen, show how quickly a program in this sport can be revived. That said, the window of opportunity for KSU is going to slam shut in a season, maybe two when Beasley and Walker likely bolt for the NBA and new coach, Frank Martin, gets replaced.

Ironically, without comparable talent, the Buffs, with a better coach in Jeff Bzdelik, are better set up for long-term success.

Rockies Rap

Was talking with Brandi Griffin of Purple Row about Colorado baseball this week so the WSN could share with you a perspective from someone so immersed in that organization's team that she should be on its' payroll.

If I were George Steinbrenner of the Rockies I might just dismiss general manager Dan O'Dowd (I'd buy him ice cream first) and make Brandi my Brian Cashman or Theo Epstein.

So, what is wrong with Garrett Atkins? He's warming up a little now but he's been plain bad in 2007.
Garrett's 2006 was out of line with what we would have expected given his minor league career but his 2007 has even been more of a fluke. As the last few games have showed, he's still got the ability to cause some real damage on offense. Last season's production for Atkins came mostly in the second half -- I'd expect a similar surge this season.
Is the Rockies philosophy 'just remain patient' or can we expect them to sell out and pursue opportunities on the trade market, if not this season, then come winter?
I don't think they will make any major moves to upgrade before the trade deadline. Rodrigo Lopez and Kaz Matsui both have contracts that end after this year so if we slip out of contention by the end of July, I could see the team trying to unload them for players that would help in 2008. I don't think we'll drop far enough back for this to happen, though.

This winter, there's going to be some movement. Besides trying to re-sing Matsui and/or Lopez, the team has to figure on big raises for Matt Holliday, Brian Fuentes and possibly Atkins. I'm certain the Rockies are not going to be able to keep all of them, particularly if we keep Todd Helton and his salary around as well.

Right now, I think Fuentes will be traded and the team will try to keep Atkins and Holliday with multi-year deals. I think we'll get a nice return of players for Fuentes as elite relievers tend to be overvalued by general managers.
Will Helton be a Rockies player at the end of this season?
I will say "yes," with about 90 percent certainty. After October, the odds of him leaving will go up considerably, but I still think the most likely scenario will have him in a Colorado uniform in 2008. His contract prevents it from trading him two ways -- first, by the sheer size and second, by the veto decision on trades it gives him. With the number of teams a possible deal could be made with so limited, it really ties the team's hands. My guess right now is that Helton will be a Rockie until the end of the deal in 2011.
Your personal impact players in the Colorado farm system?
Ian Stewart will be a big-time player when he finally arrives. Like Holliday, his talent is solid even if the stats don't show it yet.

After that, Greg Reynolds and Brandon Hynick seem like safe bets to be consistently solid starters. Reynolds has been underrated since drafted and could be a Brandon Webb/Carpenter -type top-of-the-rotation starter. Hynick's got middle-of-the-rotation stuff but a (Greg) Maddux-like mind for pitching so he's a good bet to outperform scout's expectations.

Casey Weathers (the team's first-round pick this week) will be our version of (Detroit flamethrower) Joel Zumaya.

Besides those guys, there are a lot of more questionable calls, but I really like (Sam) Deduno, (Franklin) Morales, (Matt) Macri, (Eric) Young Jr. and (Dexter) Fowler, (Dan) Mayora and (Hector) Gomez as the top talents in the full-season leagues.
The National Sweep

Tiger Woods
is within two strokes of the lead heading into today at the U.S. Open. If we were on top looking down on the competition, he'd likely be a lock to win. Looking up, he is still dangerous, just not as much so. His competitive drive might be the best but can he make the necessary adjustments to let his talent win out?

When the major players in the arrogant world of law turn from morality in their attempt to administer justice, we all have a major problem, whether we are involved in a case or not. What happened in the Duke rape trial involving the school's lacrosse players and the stripper was disgraceful.

The DA, Mike Nifong, now resigning, abused his power as many in that field do. There simply is not enough punishment for those found guilty of such actions. Being disbarred is not a sufficient societal remedy. Being fined or going to jail for a limited amount of time would not be justice. The law, whether it be police or courts, protect their own but its' high time that stops. In the case of the Nifong, he should receive a prison sentence commensurate with violating the public trust and stripping citizens of fair and just treatment. We're talking 20 years. Strip police or in this case, court officials of their arrogance and air of invincibility and we get better government.

Prayers and peace sent out to Bloomington to Indiana University football coach Terry Hoeppner, still struggling physically after two brain surgeries in 18 months. Bill Lynch, an assistant, will now take over as the Hoosiers top leader as Hoeppner is not well enough to build that program. Maybe, IU will become a national story this season. These kinds of things do tend to evolve into inspirational benchmarks for humanity.


Carmelo Anthony trying to relax this offseason but getting exposed, so to speak, by Jason Whitlock of the Kansas City Star.
"The league and the players association also should work with the NCAA on doing something to eliminate AAU basketball. Our players are too raw and too difficult to coach because AAU basketball — and its undisciplined style of play — has become more important and influential than high school basketball.

I hate to keep using LeBron James as the example because I absolutely love his mental maturity and willingness to be coached, but he is an AAU player. AAU is the reason he doesn’t have a jump shot. AAU is the reason he’s so unskilled in the low post.

AAU is the reason Carmelo Anthony is one of the worst teammates you could have. Yes, he got lucky and won a national championship in college. Trust me, it was luck. His game isn’t about winning. It’s about putting up numbers. He can’t see the floor and what his teammates are doing because that’s not necessary in AAU ball."

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