Don't tell me it's early. Cahill couldn't pitch in the first inning last year. Cahill couldn't pitch well at home last year. I don't think after 13 months of struggles it's too early to question when Cahill will get it right.
Monday night is proof why coming back in the playoff standings is so difficult. Coyotes were flat for the first eight minutes. Coyotes had a dumb luck/stupid own goal given up late, and that's your game. If the Coyotes miss the playoffs, it won't be "ownership's" fault or the GM's or the head coach or the fans or the refs.
The finals of the NCAA Men's Basketball Championships are supposed to be the best of the best. If those were the best officials in all of college basketball, the game has serious problems.
It's really sad to watch a coach completely choke away a national championship.
Of course you take a key player out for awhile in the first half when they pick up their 2nd foul. However, if the NATIONAL PLAYER OF THE YEAR -- who attends a (supposed) respected academic institution -- isn't smart enough to play with two fouls, who is? Nine players played more minutes in this game than the NATIONAL PLAYER OF THE YEAR. The NATIONAL PLAYER OF THE YEAR did not play the final 11 minutes of the first half.
After butchering the first half, Beilein trumped himself in the second half. "I thought we were in the one-and-one." Michigan had a foul to give and didn't use it. Down by two possessions with Louisville inbounding from underneath the Michigan hoop, Beilein decides to "D-up" despite needing to foul twice to put UofL on the line. There were 52 seconds left, guaranteeing a loss because Louisville could run out the clock.
I have no idea if Michigan would have won with proper coaching, but I know Beilein's decisions guaranteed a loss.
Alvin Gentry was fired. Although not the main reason, he was fired because the Lon Babby and Lance Blanks felt like the collection of talent should have won more games. They thought the Suns should be competitive. The Suns lost a lot under Gentry, but they were almost always competitive in every game.
Right now, the Suns have lost 13 of their last 14 games. The average loss is by 15 points. Some of the losses in this streak aren't to the great teams like Miami and San Antonio. Phoenix has lost by 27 to Toronto, 30 at Houston, 22 at Washington, 31 to Minnesota and 25 to a good but injured Clippers team. Is that competitive?
In innings 1-9, he's 3-for-20 batting .150.
In extra innings, he's 4-for-4 with a double, two runs scored and one RBI -- which was a game-winner.
Full disclosure, I prefer Daron Sutton's style of broadcasting local TV games. That doesn't mean Berthiaume is bad at his job, just a personal preference. Daron seemed like he was sitting on your couch having a beer with you while Steve is a little more stoic. There is nothing critical there because I completely understand if you prefer a little more "straight-laced" local broadcast.
Having said that, Berthiaume provided an amazing tidbit of information at the beginning of Sunday's broadcast. Paul Nauert was the plate umpire. Before the first pitch, Berthiaume gave a scouting report that was highly critical of Nauert. "His strike zone at the corners will expand and contract throughout the game."
Berthiaume nailed it. Calls were questionable all night long. In crucial situations, both teams got robbed by terrible calls. In the bottom of the ninth, J.J. Putz clearly hit the corner for strike three against Jonathan Lucroy, which should have been the second out of the inning. Lucroy was granted new life by Nauert and tied the game with a single. With one out in the bottom of the 11th, Heath Bell threw a pitch 2 inches off the inside corner to Rickie Weeks which was, somehow, strike three. That decision dramatically affected the game because Kyle Lohse batted next.
It's amazing what well-coached teams can do against the Syracuse zone. Beilein beat Syracuse, but he embarrassed Buzz Williams and Tom Crean in the process.
With so much Interleague play, it won't be avoided -- too many people will scream for symmetry between the leagues.
Our worst nightmare will be here in the next two years.
The Arizona Diamondbacks will have a designated hitter.
With the Houston Astros now in the American League, there will always be at least one Interleague series going on. Since there will always be one, the complaining will begin from GMs of how difficult the new setup is. Since teams will have more Interleague games, National League GMs will get sick of trying to win games with simply a fourth outfielder in the lineup and American League GMs will hate using a DH as a pinch-hitter.
Eventually the NL will cave because the MLBPA never will.
On this note, will all of baseball please stop talking about the ludicrous idea that the DH rule should be in effect at the home of the NL team during Interleague games so we can "experience" the rules of the other league? If I'm a Red Sox fan, I want to see David Ortiz. It's asinine to keep him in the dugout and away from Fenway season ticket holders. They are paying for his salary so give them their DH. If I'm at a D-backs game, I'm rooting for the D-backs. I don't want Ortiz in the game because I want to win.
The only reason to use the DH in NL parks during interleague is to brace all of us for when the DH is used in both leagues.
Here are four things on the mind of Doug Franz for Wednesday, April 3, 2013.
1) TIM PERNETTI
So you've seen the film of your coach using homosexual slurs and physically asserting his will on players. After watching the video, you decide that Mike Rice should be suspended for three games. Now when the nation watches it you decide that he should be fired. There's only one word for people like you: gutless.
The fact Rutgers didn't fire their AD with the coach shows it's not just the AD that is clueless.
2) DON MALONEY
You've proven you'll do whatever it takes to make the Phoenix Coyotes better. You're also proving that you won't hide your head in the sand and hope this team catches lightning in a bottle. You know they're just not good enough to compete. Although today sucks while you wave the white flag, it's clearly the right decision.
3) RON WASHINGTON
He said he would have pulled Yu Darvish after the 27th hitter even if Marwin Gonzalez would have reached by error. Meaning, Darvish would have lost his no-hitter to his manager and not the Astros. Johan Santana has ruined it for everyone.
The worst attended baseball game every year is game two of the season. The Diamondbacks had 28,000 fans Tuesday night. The Coyotes are starting to slip into the nether region of playoff possibilities, yet 16,000 came to the arena Tuesday. D-Backs and Coyotes fans deserve some serious love for their performance.
I don't know if he wants the job or not, but the young man from Louisville is staring at thousands of dollars he can make on the public speaking circuit.
We've all seen Mike Utley and "Two Thumbs Up." A wave of the thumb of an injured athlete goes a long way. Yelling at your team "Just win the game" with your tibia exposed is above the stuff of legend. Congratulations to Louisville on winning the national championship.
2) IAN KENNEDY
I don't think Kennedy will be competing for Cy Youngs very often; 2011 was a special year. He might never repeat it again. However, I don't think he'll ever repeat last year again, either.
He embraces his role this year. He accepts the responsibility of what it means to be an "Ace." In 2011, he was riding a wave. In 2012, he was trying to live up to the expectations of others versus keeping it simple. Last year, he competed against 2011. This year, he'll simply compete against the batter at the plate.
I don't expect a 23-win season from Kennedy, but he will show he's one of the 20 best pitchers in MLB.
3) STEVE ALFORD
One national championship every 38 years really isn't that impressive. The UCLA job is not what it appears to be. If it was, Steve Alford wouldn't be the head coach.
Alford is a good recruiter and a good practice coach. Look for UCLA to improve their talent. Look for the program to sustain success much better. However, don't act shocked at a long series of tournament losses in 3-14, 2-7 or 1-8 games. He beats you with better talent and game plans, but not adjustments in close games.
4) LINDSEY HUNTER
Who knew that Marcin Gortat was the difference to the level he is. The Suns are 2-11 without him. I believe the Suns will name Hunter the head coach at some point this month. I have to ask, why? Is Marcin Gortat really that valuable of a piece that he can't win without him?
A bad team rises up to play well against good teams and is horrible against their fellow bad teams. The only way that can happen is if your players are unprofessional, immature or both. If Hunter was brought in to teach some accountability, what has happened in the last few months to justify keeping him?
Keep in mind, the Suns were blown out once during the season with Alvin Gentry. The Suns are getting blown out almost once a week with Lindsey Hunter. I'm missing something.
Thank goodness Ohio State won that game Thursday night.
I say that without a dog in the fight. I picked New Mexico to win that game. From a rooting interest standpoint, I root against both schools, so I would be miserable no matter who won.
I was glad Ohio State won because replay has officially gone too far.
LaQuinton Ross made a 22-foot jumper to give Ohio State a three-point lead. With Arizona having no timeouts, the officials stopped the game to replay the last shot. I stress 22 feet because the three-point line is set at 20' 9". If the officials were checking to see if there was a foot on the line, we know they should be fired on the spot.
The officials wanted to check the clock to ensure it had stopped on the made basket. After evaluating, the clock was reset from 2.0 to 2.1. This is absurd. If Arizona had a timeout left and used it to set up a play, I'm all for a review. So what if UofA gets 90 seconds after stopping the play with a 30 second timeout? It's entirely different for Arizona to be given a gift timeout.
Arizona already chose to use their last timeout to ensure a possession on a near jump ball. They gave up the right to set up a last play. The officials can't give them both. Replay should be used to fix egregious errors, not as a crutch.
This isn't the officials' fault though, it's the NCAA's. The rule must be changed. If a team is out of timeouts, replay should only be used when there is clear confusion. If a referee notices the clock continue to run or a quick jab-step three, I understand going to the replay. In that rare instance, make the players go to a neutral corner.
The NCAA will do nothing, however, because they are a reactionary institution with little foresight. Since Arizona didn't tie the game, the NCAA will see it as irrelevant. When a team benefits from this in a future game, the NCAA will act shocked as if there was no way to have seen the situation coming.
It's pretty obvious to me that Lindsey Hunter is the present and future head coach of the Phoenix Suns.
Goran Dragic was held out of the Utah game Wednesday because he's run many more miles this year than any other Sun according to Lon Babby. There are eight NBA point guards who have played in more games than Dragic, yet plan on starting their team's next game. If he's so tired from running all those miles, then he should learn to be as efficient as the other eight point guards who have played more games and don't need the rest.
Ten NBA point guards have averaged more minutes per game than Goran Dragic. It is clear then, using the "miles per game" logic, that Dragic must hustle much more than the 10 point guards since he's tired from all the mileage yet the others play more minutes.
I have a different theory. The Suns play in a league with no morals. Ever wonder why the NFL and Major League Baseball have no draft lottery? It's because every team, player and coach is judged by wins and losses. Since the men in those sports have their pride on the line, they would never put themselves in a position to lose -- or, at the very least, put themselves in a handicapped situation to win. In the NBA, honor is something to be mocked so teams lose on purpose. Therefore, the league needs a way to make sure losing on purpose doesn't guarantee you massive benefits, thus the lottery.
Either the Suns have joined other teams in fixing games to ensure a better draft position or Goran Dragic is not a player that can be counted on during the stretch run to a playoff due to fatigue. It's important for us to know that Dragic will need his rest around game 70 of every year so we can plan ahead in future years.
If Dragic is indeed healthy, the Suns tried not to win the game against Utah. Handcuffing your coach and then evaluating him at the end of the season is totally unfair. Every coach in America would be screaming off-the-record or letting slip on-the-record that he's being judged despite not playing with a full deck.
The only way you send Hunter out on the court without all of his soldiers, is if you're planning to send him out again next year.
I don't know his name. I don't know if it's a him. I don't know how he died. He could be homeless. She could be rich. I know as much as you do about this person but to me they're a hero.
It may be a cop out but this is a blanket apology to co-workers, friends and the listeners to the Doug and Wolf Show because I've had a tough time the last nine months. You go to work trying to remain professional but it's hard to stay focused.
There are elements of show prep that slip because of long evening conversations that take precedent. Sometimes sleepless nights cause you to be a hair slower in business that takes quick wit and focus to succeed. You expect people to just read your mind and figure it out yet you have no patience with them. I wasn't like that most days but enough days that there are plenty of people wondering "What's up his butt?"
My wife has a cousin she's not real close to but not real distant from either. Her cousin is dying. She needs a kidney. My wife has two. Everyone in the family is either not a perfect match or has been too scared to find out if they are. My wife is not a perfect match but there's a chance her cousin's body wouldn't reject a kidney from her.
A chance. Would you donate a kidney on a chance?
At first the answer was easy for my wife. Of course she would step up to save the life of her cousin. As the process continues, doubt comes with increased knowledge. You mean I have to fly where? I have to stay for how long? You mean the recovery will take that long? Do you pull the kids out of school? Does your husband come with you or keep working?
Then there's the guilt. What if I don't do it and she dies? What if my children need a kidney and now I can't donate? What if I go through all this and it doesn't work (no, you can't get your kidney back)? What if I develop a kidney problem and...the questions continued.
The guilt gets worse when you add to it the religious aspect. My wife and I are very strong in our faith. If we believe Jesus sacrificed for us, it's clear we should be willing to sacrifice for her cousin. Abraham was willing to sacrifice his son to prove devotion to God, obviously if we are the people we want to be we must openly trust that we should give openly what were asked, trusting we'll be taken care of.
So many nights, back and forth. So often listening to my wife go through an enormous array of emotions while I tried not to influence her decision. There were times she embraced saving a life while I secretly wished she would succumb to fear. Other times she would pull a stall tactic or slow progress and I was disappointed. We were never on the same page. We were always stressed.
On Monday, someone in Ohio died with healthy kidneys. That person was a perfect match. That death saved a life because of organ donation. I've been told my wife's cousin is in a lot of pain. I'm told my wife's cousin isn't going through her regular routine of dialysis.
I used to have a very simple view of organ donation. I die, someone uses my organs and lives. I've never realized just how many people beyond the recipient are touched through organ donation. Because someone in Ohio died a hero, a family in Arizona remains whole.
I am an organ donor. I am not a hero now, but I will be. Will you?
I didn't think Tom Chambers could do anything to make this town love him more than they already do. He did on Friday night.
He challenged Lindsey Hunter to use the post-game press conferences as a message to the team. Chambers sounded tired of hearing the term "culture change" because there was nothing wrong with the Suns of the 90s, in the D'Antoni era, or through Gentry's run to the Western Conference Finals.
Chambers deserves a firm hand shake of respect from every Suns fan.
I know it's only one game out of 30, but how can you not read into it somewhat?
The NCAA tournament is the highest pressure any young player has every experienced on the basketball court. It is a window into their soul. How they handle the moment must go into your draft evaluation without allowing it to dominate your decisions on their future.
Three of the top 7 players in the upcoming draft completely laid an egg. Otto Porter Jr, Anthony Bennett and Ben McLemore were total no-shows in losses for Georgetown and UNLV. Kansas won two games and got little from McLemore over North Carolina. Those players must meet higher expectations during their draft workouts in order to erase the taste in the mouths of general managers
3) VICTOR OLADIPO
I've been talking about him all year. I'm not about to stop now.
Even more impressive than everything you're seeing now is watching his tape from last year. It's just not that impressive and that's the point. He improved so much in one offseason, every GM has to be drooling over the work ethic.
4) FLORIDA GULF COAST/GEORGETOWN
The story has two focus points. It's a wonderful story for FGCU to be the first 15 seed in the second round. Give them a ton of credit. Winning one game in the tournament is a wonderful moment but in actuality, it's not the most difficult mental test. It's much tougher to bring yourself down from the ultimate high and compete again without the feeling you've already accomplished something.
However, I'm much more focused on how overrated John Thompson III is as a head coach. Every coach suffers tough losses, but not like this. So far, here's the last six years of Georgetown in the tournament: a #2 seed losing to a 10, a #3 seed losing to a #14 (Go Bobcats), a #6 seed losing to an #11, a #6 seed losing to an #11 and this year a #2 losing to a #15. This is not a small sample. This is an epidemic. This man continually takes stronger teams to the tournament and can't win with them.
There are quite a few factors that keep him employed. I'm confident none of those factors are his ability to coach a major conference program.
Still in shock the 'Yotes lost after the way Doan played in the second game of the Kings "series." If the Coyotes don't make the playoffs, it will be obvious to all that it's these games that cost them.
There's a lot riding on the Detroit game Monday night.
I coach both of my daughters in soccer. I absolutely love kids and I love sharing the beautiful game with them. I hope I have a positive effect on them because the time crunch is killing me. Baseball is my favorite sport and I feel like I have no idea what is happening. The season starts in barely over a week. I have some serious cramming to do.
Roses are red
Marquette has Vander Blue
Harvard wrecked my bracket
How about you?
It is such an honor to live in a town where 82 nights a year (at least most years), I get to watch Shane Doan.
Todd Walsh said on the TV broadcast Tuesday night that Doan stood up to his mistakes during the horrible road goal-less streak (truth is the whole team has been an abomination during this road trip and it's far from Doan's fault). It was Doan that was a hitting machine. It was Doan that was illegally kneed without penalty during the worst officiated game in the last 25 years. It was Doan that scored the goal to end the streak. On his second goal, it was Doan that kept it in the offensive zone during a massive scrum at the blue line, let alone being the one to put it home.
The Coyotes won every aspect of the game versus the Kings except the one that matters. This game extended the losing streak and ended it at the same time. After Doan's effort, this team won't let him down. The goal-less streak is over and so will the losing be.
Whatever you are doing Thursday or Monday, try to get to a Coyotes game. They are currently tied for the eighth seed in the Western Conference, but that could change Wednesday night. Their next two home games are against the sixth and seventh seeds. With a team that averages less than a road win per month, these home games are huge before another road trip.
If I'm wrong and they lose these two games, it's not over, but there's will be a very large woman with a microphone in her hand.
My first reaction to this year's NCAA Tournament bracket was disgust. I feel terrible for the kids at Oregon and Oklahoma State. Both teams worked all year just to see 10 months worth of work tossed aside by the ignorance of the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee.
Every year we hear the same excuses as to why they couldn't get the bracket right. They use phrases like "the pod system" and "bracket challenges" to explain why some teams are located in one spot on the bracket. They tell us they want to avoid rematches in the first round, yet we have one. They say you have to earn the right to play close to home yet Cal is playing in San Jose as a 12-seed.
I'm convinced that one of two things are true: either the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee watches little all year and convenes in Indianapolis with their pants down or the rules put forth by the NCAA are just stupid and out-dated.
If the Accenture Match Play Championships can figure it out every year in Tucson then so can the NCAA. Just seed the teams 1-64 with the one seed going to the nearest sight to them and go straight down the list.
The Cowboys earned a five-seed and should be playing a proper 12-seed. The Ducks are at worst a 10 and should be a nine. Disagree? Name 40 schools better than Oregon. You can't. A 12-seed means the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee thinks there are between 44 and 47 schools better than Oregon.
You choose NCAA...is it your committee guidelines that are clueless or is it the members?
I hate it when good people get screwed for doing absolutely nothing wrong. I'm not buying the Russ Pennell resignation story. I'm not reporting, but I'm assuming Coach Pennell was told that it was resign or be fired. Pennell is a quality coach and a quality human being.
He earned an extension, not a forced resignation with a 42-16 record the past two years and two straight trips to the NCAA tourney. I hate even writing this because I consider Russ Pennell a friend, but I would have done the same thing if I was Grand Canyon University. If I have a chance as a Division II school making the huge transition to Division I to hire an NBA assistant coach with 14 years experience as a player in the town he became famous, I say 'yes' and deal with the ramifications of my decision later. I would have felt crappy while doing it but it's rare you get a chance like this.
Dan Majerle is a legend in this town. He will have instant cache walking into any young man's home in the state and through most of the west. I believe Dan is not doing this for any other reason than he loves coaching. He has wanted to be a head coach for the last few years. I'm sure he also has some extra motivation to show some other decision makers in the area that he can be a head coach.
It's the right move for Grand Canyon. It's the right move for Dan Majerle. It's just the dirty side of college basketball that a good coach like Pennell gets fired -- excuse me -- resigns when everything he's done is exactly what was needed. Best of luck to both men.
Fifteen minutes of good conversation does not mean the Arizona Cardinals' quarterback issues have been solved, but I love the signing.
You're getting a guy who knows Arians' offense, yet has a ton to prove. Normally that means he hasn't done anything to earn a job somewhere else, but I don't think that's true here.
He had one year in Detroit and they had the first pick in the draft the next year. They chose Matthew Stafford. Then he went to the Jets to compete for the job, but they signed Tim Tebow without benching Mark Sanchez. He then went to Indy, but they drafted Andrew Luck. This is his first time truly competing for a job as a young player -- but not a rookie.
I'm not saying the Cardinals are going to go to the playoffs. I just don't think the quarterback position will be an abomination.
Ian Kennedy is the exact same person he was last year and yet, he's totally different. Good for the D-backs, bad for the division.
I told him Tuesday that I thought he was going to be the difference between a Diamondbacks team that battles the Giants all year or a team that struggles to be .500. For the first time, he embraced the pressure. Kennedy has never run from the pressure. He's not mentally weak, but I've never seen him do anything but "just deal with the pressure." Now, he understands having a desire for pressure, relieves it from others.
An ace of a staff doesn't just win games. His production gives everyone in the clubhouse confidence. A manager knows he can go to his pen earlier with the #5 because the ace is going tomorrow. He also has a tremendous advantage over the other manager because he knows he only has to play for one or two runs. The #2 is pushed to keep up with the ace as a competitor but not save the team because the ace is struggling. If the 2011 Kennedy is on the mound, the National League West will be the second-best division in baseball.
2) ROB KLINKHAMMER
If you type "Rob" into Google, your first option is Rob Gronkowski. "Rob K" gives you Rob Kardashian. By scoring two goals in his two games as a Coyote, Klinkhammer has become the most popular "Rob Kl" in the world.
Ten hits, two goals and two wins for the Coyotes without a change in attitude from Klinkhammer. He's not a kid though. He's 26, so there's some maturity and immediacy. Klinkhammer knows he's running out of chances to stick in the NHL. There's still a long way to go, but he's sticking for now.
3) KEVIN KOLB
What a mistake you're making. I don't know if this is on you, your agent, your wife, but someone is screwing this up. No matter what you think of your worth, no matter how mad you are at the offensive line put on the field by Ken Whisenhunt, your future is brighter here.
You have three choices: Jets, Jaguars or Cardinals. If you're choosing either of the other two teams you haven't been paying attention to the rest of the league. If you're going somewhere other than those three, you've mentally checked out and you're accepting your plight as a backup QB. Kolb will make more money and have 0% chance for success somewhere else. I know he's only got a 30% chance of success with Arizona, but...
4) JARED DUDLEY
Every time we talk to him on the Doug and Wolf Show, I sit in amazement of why so few athletes get it. Do whatever you can to listen every Tuesday when he joins us. If the kids are out of school, make sure they listen. Every answer is intelligent and honest with insight -- yet he never throws anyone under the bus.
He told us Tuesday he was on the bus on the way to the team hotel. I asked him if he could still talk with all the guys around. I meant it as a joke because of years past when we would talk to Grant Hill on the bus and Dudley would be chirping behind him during the conversation. Jared took it differently, thinking I meant he wouldn't be as open if his teammates could hear him. "It's no problem. I would never say anything to you guys that I haven't already talked to them about."
Leadership comes in many forms. Dudley defines it.
Quite a few people are quick to give Sarver credit for deciding against giving Amaré Stoudemire a max contract. Amare's career might be over. If it isn't, it's terribly expensive for the Knicks to be paying him not to play. Almost all player contracts are insured against injury, but no insurance company would insure Amare's knees. Only the Knicks were willing to accept the risk.
I think Sarver deserves credit as well and has been proven right, however, I think he's getting too much praise. If Sarver had given Amaré the max, he wouldn't have signed Hakim Warrick, Channing Frye, Josh Childress and Hedo Turkoglu to long-term deals.
If we want to praise Sarver for not signing Amaré now that he's not playing for the Knicks, what should we say for the lack of contributions from Warrick, Frye, Childress or Turkoglu?
2) TOM CREAN
You just won. Why in the world is that the time to go after an opposing assistant coach?
If that coach really wrecked your program, it was three years ago when he was an employee. You've had enough time to fix the damage.
Jeff Meyer was an Indiana assistant under Kelvin Sampson and Sampson did wreck the IU program. Crean has had plenty of time to take out his frustration on Meyer yet does it now. Meyer is now in charge of recruiting the state of Indiana for Michigan. Although I'm guessing, the only reason this much emotion comes from a coach in a win is if there's a battle going on for a player in Indiana and Crean believes rules have been broken that he won't say publicly.
3) ADAM JONES
It was a huge thrill to be at Chase Field Sunday for USA vs. Canada in the World Baseball Classic. I love being a father and bringing my daughters to events like that so they can experience the thrill of cheering for Team USA, and Jones made it worth it.
The Orioles center fielder came through with a clutch 7th inning two-run double while playing a spectacular outfield. I hope his career continues on a positive trend.
4) STEVE KEIM
Normally on a day with big moves that hurt one of our local teams, I lose it. I'm tired of every Phoenix competitor making big moves while we sit on our hands, but this year it's different.
I'm not upset because it's the wrong time for the Cardinals to make a splash. This team is so far away from competing for a championship that it would be a waste of cap space and/or future picks to make a dramatic move. All Arizona needs is a QB, RB, LT, LG, RG, DE, ILB, SS and a CB opposite Patrick Peterson. I'm pretty confident there isn't a trade in the world that will bring in that haul. This team can only be fixed in the draft.
Any anger you have towards the Cardinals as the 49ers and Seahawks get better is justified. Just be happy Michael Bidwill was angry too and made changes.
Nobody gets love after a loss, but Phoenix backup goalie LaBarbera deserves it. The Ducks outshot the Coyotes 18-9 in the first two periods, but LaBarbera only allowed one goal on great passing leaving him no chance. Anaheim's scoring chances in the first 15 minutes were too many to count yet LaBarbera earned his keep. A power play was nullified by a bad tripping call on Shane Doan that eventually led to a penalty shot and LaBarbera was a wall.
Anaheim has only lost one game at home, the same number of goals allowed by LaBarbera last night in their house.
2) Sebastian Telfair
I completely understand the emotions of Telfair. He spoke to Arizona Sports 620's Craig Grialou after Toronto's shoot-around and was very bitter being traded by the Suns. He's fired up because Kendall Marshall didn't earn away his playing time. Telfair's right for the playground and wrong when it comes to common sense.
You can't get me to believe the Suns management are such ignorant fools that they actually believe Marshall is playing better basketball than Telfair. However, I don't understand how anyone can be confused about the goal of this year. Who in the world thinks Telfair is part of the future? I'm the one who hated the Marshall draft pick. I don't think he'll ever amount to anything in the NBA. What you can't do, however, on a 21-win team is keep rookies on the bench. He must play to see if he has a future.
Not a smart move for Telfair to whine because he's a stop-gap guard while you're waiting for the next guard to step up. Now, why bring him into your franchise if he's just going to blast your organization when it's time to move him? If you want to show up your former franchise, beat them. Telfair spoke much more intelligently playing against the Suns than he did talking about them.
3) Lindsey Hunter
I knew the Suns would be bad this year, so I judged the coaching staff on two things: energy and development. Under Alvin Gentry, the Suns laid one egg where the guys didn't show up -- in a 40-point loss in Detroit. Although I did see some development, it was minuscule.
So far with Hunter, there have been four huge eggs. If you're scoring at home, that's one egg in 41 games for Gentry and four eggs in 20 games for Hunter.
4) Los Angeles Lakers
I can't say we didn't expect it. Almost everyone and their mother knew L.A. would win in New Orleans. The Lakers won in New Orleans so there shouldn't be anything to report.
The catch is the Lakers finished the last 6:21 of the game on a 20-0 run. Most of it was Kobe offensively, but all of it was the team defensively. Holding any NBA team scoreless in their building for six and a half minutes is nearly impossible considering it's the last minutes of the quarter and you assume there will be some free throws.
The Lakers need to finish out of the playoffs for the Suns to get an extra lottery pick. Wednesday night's come-from-behind win over the Hornets hurt.
Here are four people that grabbed my attention this weekend...
1) BEN MCLEMORE
I'm always going to be a college basketball junkie. This year, however, I'm intently studying the candidates for early draft picks. Ben McLemore shined Saturday night.
Most people have watched McLemore for Kansas this year. There's been no doubt he's got the talent to be the best player in college basketball. The risk with drafting McLemore has been his fear for taking over the game. KU is the rare program that starts four seniors, yet is an elite team. McLemore has struggled as a freshman on a team of seniors despite being the most talented player in the country. Against Iowa State, he was very hesitant. I'm guessing Coach Bill Self had a conversation with him because he was perfect on Saturday against West Virginia. Taking shots without hesitation and attacking the defense. It wasn't just the 36 points, it was his confidence.
I feel much better about McLemore as the number one pick.
2) VANAE CARSON
I have the strange feeling we won't be seeing anymore attacking, negative tweets from Jahii Carson's mother. It's almost impossible to raise a son as good as Jahii while being a societal waste so (without ever meeting her) I'm going to assume Vanae is a good person who had a bad day.
Many of her comments were very sound basketball criticisms. The great irony is what she forgot. These are college kids. They are someone else's sons, just like one of the players is her son. You have to keep your comments within the family. Jonathan Gilling's decision to rush up a three-pointer at the end of the USC game was not nearly as bad of a decision as hers was to tweet her opinions.
Even worse, she fails to realize that NBA scouts take notice of events like that. Do you think an NBA team wants to deal with a tweeting parent criticizing teammates? Would they draft Carson anyway? Yes, of course. However, don't think for a minute that scouts won't ask ASU personnel and coaches about it as they prepare for the draft.
Good people make mistakes, learn from them and rarely repeat them.
3) RYAN KELLY
Duke's Kelly had only played in two ACC games this season. You were still honoring your New Year's resolutions when he last played. He played this weekend in matchup of the 3rd-ranked Blue Devils and 5th-ranked Miami Hurricanes. At times it looked like he was the only person playing.
Kelly scored 36 points in 32 minutes. More rebounds than missed shots -- FGs and FTs included.
Duke has not lost a game in which Kelly's played. They may not lose again.
4) JOE FLACCO
The Ravens showed you respect? It's not about the money?
Flacco sounds like a whiner. He's clearly bitter about something. Maybe he felt the Ravens didn't defend him enough when he's been ridiculed in the past. Sounds like someone who's very thin-skinned and his feelings have been hurt. Keep your eye on Flacco for the next few years. I have a feeling you'll see a guy who's never satisfied. That's normally a compliment, but not this time. He's satisfied with himself but not the way he's been treated. Those feelings never go away from someone who feels wronged, they just get buried for awhile.
The musings of Doug Franz, the co-host of Doug and Wolf on Arizona Sports 620.
1) ANTHONY BENNETT
Every time I watch UNLV, I hope Bennett stays one more year. The Suns are loaded with future first round picks. UNLV has very odd substitiution patterns with Bennett. I can't figure out if he's out-of-shape or simply patient. He doesn't always run hard but he's a great blend of a small forward in a power forward's body. I want Bennett but I want to be sure what I'm getting so I'd rather he stays in school. The Suns will be bad enough next year that they can draft him then.
2) DAVE TIPPETT
The guy never stops doing the amazing. Coyotes get embarrassed against Chicago. Tippett goes after Yandle and Doan in his post-game press conference. It was the second consecutive weak game from Yandle. Mike Smith who carried the team last year was yanked. Since then, magic.
The 'Yotes have won four of their last five. Yandle has been playing at an All-Star level. Doan had a two-goal game. Smith has thrown in two shutouts. Phoenix is now one point shy of home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
3) ASU BASKETBALL
Huge win at Colorado. Great for Evan Gordon to show the intelligence and aggression at the end of overtime while attacking the rim and finishing strong. Bachynski had stretches where he played much better than he has in recent weeks.
So why aren't I excited? Too many basic mistakes at the end of games. Coaches slowing down the pace to milk clock with only one-possession leads. Horrific free throw shooting. Point guards receiving in-bounds passes in the corner and allowing themselves to be trapped. Long three-pointers at the end of the shot clock. After two pathetic years of ASU basketball, I should just be happy with the wins when they come, but winning for 38 minutes only to hold on for dear life isn't winning.
4) JOE TORRE
Spent 20 minutes talking to Joe Torre on Monday's show. Took two minutes to realize why he was so successful in New York. He's so thoughtful with every answer. It's easy to see how his demeanor creates an umbrella over the clubhouse that makes the media so much easier to deal with. The media in Boston and New York can be relentless. A Bobby Valentine creates so many distractions while a Joe Torre defuses them before they can even start.
Michael Jordan recently said five is greater than one, so Kobe Bryant is better than LeBron James.
When the careers of Kobe and James are finished, only one will look like a man.
Kobe Bryant is the second-most talented player in basketball history. Kobe is in first place as the most-petulant hall-of-famer or hall of fame to be player in basketball history. LeBron James is six years younger than Kobe, yet years ahead in maturity.
Last Tuesday against the Suns, Kobe wanted to prove a point by not shooting the entire first half. He threw some alley-oop passes on fast breaks when he had the best shot. He made dumb basketball plays just to show up certain teammates. Do you think Kobe went to Mike D'Antoni before the game to get approval for his plan? Do you think Kobe discussed this with Steve Nash? Kobe cares about winning championships, but not nearly as much as he cares about himself.
LeBron has one championship. LeBron will win multiple. Just like what Kobe and Michael went through, the Heat will eventually have to turn over its roster for James to win more than Kobe's five and MJ's six. Although it's easy to assume that Pat Riley is the man for the job, there's no guarantee he will get that accomplished. But I assume he will because veteran players will continue to take less to play with LeBron.
On the same day Kobe was pulling his stunt against Phoenix, James set a new record for consecutive games with 30 points scored on better than 60 percent shooting. In that stretch of six games, James averaged one more assist/game versus his regular season average.
Against Oklahoma City, James extended his record until the shot clock wound down and he was stuck with the ball 27 feet from the basket. James chucked and missed. His last shot dropped his field goal percentage to just under 59. No record. That's why other players want to play with James.
The individual move would be to eat the ball and scream at a teammate for giving it to him late, therefore blaming someone else and preserving the streak. The team move is to shoot the ball to get the shot clock reset and worry about the win over self.
James chose team. Kobe chose self. I choose James.
Went to D-backs Fan Fest Saturday and spoke with Kirk Gibson, Paul Goldschmidt, Kevin Towers and Daniel Hudson. Here are some observations from our talks with them...
It's very strange how Gibby never makes eye contact with me but does with Wolf. Either I'm beneath him because I only made it to Varsity baseball, or I have a long way to go to earn his respect. Too bad for me because I have great respect for him.
Goldy is one of the few laid-back people that have an unquenchable thirst to win. For so many people, their greatness is derived from their insane intensity but they miss the smell of the roses. Others miss out on greatness because they have no fire despite owning the talent. He has everything going for him yet still brings a sense of calm to every situation. It's somewhat embarrassing that I'm 41 and could learn so much from someone who's 25.
There's nothing he can say that could get me to believe the Upton trade gave good return to Arizona, yet I respect him greatly. He was walking around the moon-bounces talking to fans for two hours before his scheduled radio appearance. GMs who just made controversial trades do not walk around and face the music. Could you really see Brian Cashman walking around without security at an open-to-the-public Yankees event after trading Jeter? And no, I'm not comparing Upton to Jeter...
I asked him about his willingness to be so public. He said, "I need to be out here to wear it." Some fans came up to him upset and he talked them through his vision for the team. I even told my girls, "This is the man who traded Justin Upton." They looked astonished. Towers spoke to them about other Diamondback players and they walked away deciding Montero was now their favorite.
I think we all work better when our boss sticks their neck on the line in a belief that we will be successful. Towers has done that and is doing that for the guys on the 25 man roster. Wins Above Replacement is a fantastic metric for your true analytical meaning to a team. Wins Behind Belief may be less quantifiable, yet a confidence-building tool that raises both the metrics and the clubhouse.
He never meant to take baseball for granted but he's human. The Tommy John surgery that might cost him 13 months didn't rekindle a fire because the love of the game was never lost. However, it's fair to say not being able to contribute to the competition threw quite a few logs on the blaze.
You could say the same thing about Hudson's maturity. Anyone can become more mature and that doesn't always mean that you started from zero. From the time Hudson became a contributor, he wasn't immature, yet marriage, surgery and rehab have certainly added wisdom which can only come with added maturity.
Cal can't stop Carson penetration but Carson struggles with Cox's penetration
very patient offense for Cal...trying to get ASU out of lanes
Felix has a major strength advantage and isn't using it...must be exploited
1st media TO...10-8 ASU
back-2-back possessions where Felix has Crabbe on his hip and doesn't take him
1st zone I've seen from ASU in a year
Gilling thinking too much. had a look from 22 ft but threw it off of Pateev's head
Pateev is such a waste offensively...doesn't feel the defense and missed an easy chance to spin baseline
finished typing and Pateev hits a right block sky hook
2nd media TO...18-9 ASU
Pateev with aggressive dunk off miss...I know nothing
Pateev with an airball that missed by 2 feet...I feel better
Jacobson in at 8:55...earlier than normal of late
Jacobson and JB in together...love that line-up w/ Gordon/Carson/Felix
3rd media TO...7:34
JaB just bought a head fake while Soloman still had his dribble then fouled him on way to the basket...6th grade basketball...led to a made FT, reb & 3pt
Pateev makes hook in the lane while crowd cheers...quit going away from the basket
Cal's defense is unbelievably slow...they don't recognize Gilling as a shooter
4th media TO...35-22
Pateev dunks...crowd goes nuts...yet he took 3 steps...bad officiating
college kid sitting near me with a sleeveless shirt ripped to her waist to show her whole chest...if my daughter ever...
end of Half...37-27 ASU
JB doesn't hold his post-up...allows defense to get around him...has little chance for a Euro career if that doesn't change
1st media TO...46-33 ASU
lots of fouls...tired defense...slow game so this is on the players
Pateev got hit in the butt by the Crabbe intentional throw it to yourself in-bounds...love that play...tells me all I need to know about Crabbe
refs are bad but Cal is allowing it to affect their play...quit bitching and play
ball is really sticky for ASU...no movement
Cal's defense is horrific...Montgomery is a much better coach than this...Gordon right down the lane for a layup
2nd media TO 52-41 ASU
Carson's defense has picked up in second half...as picking up his 3rd foul has become less of an issue, he's become more aggressive
Pateev with a no-look pass and a quick hedge...painfully slow but working against Solomon
3rd media TO 60-45
guy next to me on press row is about 350lbs and drinking diet coke?
ASU now only up 6 because of the bad offense...ball still sticking
ASU slowing it down and then wondering why their offense has no flow...when will coaches learn?
last media TO 62-56 ASU...offense has come to a complete stop...back to back shot clock possessions...2:30 and 1:22
quick 3 off the in-bounds for Cal...quick TO at 1:13...horrible defense for Cal's first half but Montgomery has done well in this half...good clock management
ASU still backing it out and eating clock...took 20 seconds off the clock just to call a TO...if ASU loses, this one's on Herb
CAl stayed in man off the TO...why not switch to a zone? terrible coaching...Gordon at the line
up by 3...1st one good...up by 4...2nd one good...ASU by 5
huge 3 by Cobbs over Pateev...good of Ruslan not to foul...ASU by 2...Cal TO
Cal 9...ASU 5=team fouls
1-2-1-1 in bounds...fouled Gordon on in-bounds
1st one good...ASU by 3...missed 2nd
Crabbe got fouled on way to hoop...no call...poor officiating...no guts to make the call
Gilling fouled but after Carson took in-bounds pass and ran off 7 sec
ASU by 3...1st one missed badly...2nd one swish...ASU by 4
HAWKS @ YOTES
granted I'm watching it on TV but there's energy in the building
great chances a minute in...Bodeker must shoot that
Torres' 1st shift...was laughing at a tweet I got when some fan told me there wouldn't be any fireworks tonight
Blackhawks owning the Yotes crease
Vrbata...good class to check on Kane...CHI PP 14 min
Korpikoski with a great take shorthanded but Vermette blew a juicy rebound
defense very slow to get back...horrible defensive spacing...Stallberg splits double
how did the Yotes beat these guys? Hawks have so much more skill...coaching and heart matters
Chicago's more physical which is completely unacceptable since they are the skill team
Morris completely chunks an easy 1-timer...breaks his stick
interference on PHX disrupts a breakaway...didn't see it, must have been off-camera
what a load a crap on that cross-check...never mind...saw it on the replay and I'll buy it...5-on-3 with the interference...KANE
shocked at how flat the Yotes are
bad icing w/ 2:49 left
Kane took the whole defense to the corner and opened up Bolland in the slot...it's 3-0 and Yandle just took a penalty...no other way to say it but the Coyotes are trying to win a game with their head in their ass...as I'm typing there's a trip on Michalek
can't blame officiating...KANE again...this is a butt whopping
end of 1st...4-0 CHI
didn't realize Yandle got 10min...already down on defense
better energy but still exposed by CHIs talent
Mike Smith with a great save on a shot from the point...called interference on Saad...looked like a good hit
right through the crease and Yotes miss it
OEL just took a shot...never mind...clear dive...barely a hook...good call
still 5-4 but now down 2 defensemen
big shot from Vrbata...maybe Hanzal on the deflection
4-1 CHI...if they would have played with the same energy in the 1st period it wouldn't be such a beat down
pretty wheel from Bolland and Kane
Mickalek took a stick to the face
4-min dbl-minor...crap...it was Gordon that got him...no pp
Hossa for holding...can't keep up with all the penalties
good first minute on the penalty but now can't get past a short-handed fore-check
penalty on Doan...1st real bad call
big push from Hanzal on the fore-check despite being short-handed
Toews is phenomenal...completely owning this PP...Yotes give up only a ding off the post
WOW...wrote the last Toews sentence 90 seconds before his goal...never seen someone make OEL look like that
Yandle just got completely destroyed behind the net...back2back games where Yandle has been terrible...little bit of a bad break when Doan had the chance to clear puck got stuck in the refs skates but that goal is completely on Yandle...Smith is pulled
Yandle with a good rush and 2 seconds later has a terrible turnover
end of 2...6-1 CHI
good hit by Vrbata...at least someone is out there hitting
ohh...Torres just missed a massive hit
bad headache and I still haven't watched Indiana/Illinois
haven't seen a lot of OEL in the 3rd
Great stat...32 goals this year against PHX and 12 are to CHI
Doan took an unsportsmanlike...CHI PP...been along time since Tip has seen a game and effort like this
CHI completely lost their edge...very slow on the PP
huge hit from Morris right in front of the crease...might have stopped a goal
8th CHI PP...first shot hit the post
how was that not a PHX penalty...Stalberg was going in alone
ARgh...my DVR just ran over...Jennifer didn't extend the time
LAL @ BOS
great point by Kerr on Kobe going public about Howard's injury
strong foul from Collins against Kobe...glad to see it wasn't flagrant...hate wussification of the game
Howard just got clobbered by Wilcox
Nash sits alone for 10 seconds and it takes Artest to figure it out and Nash gets a 3
3 offensive rebounds on one possession for BOS
horrible defense...no one even spotted Wilcox underneath...he dropped an easy pass
Blake at the end of the shot clock...scoop over Wilcox
Garnett controlling the paint...HA...Kerr said next box out for LAL will be there first
Meeks big steal from KG and went the distance for the dunk...LAL down 8
KG just scored 25K pt
finally Nash with the ball at the point...bad kick out though...he had a look
Nash without Kobe on the floor has the ball moving
Kobe's back and the b all sticks
Nash with the bail out jumper despite no offensive movement
Boston is much more physical with Kobe than most
great nash move to the basket and Howard simply stands...amazingly low basketball IQ
Nash made his zipper drive to Kobe but Kobe didn't flash with him...3 months together and Kobe still has no chemistry with Nash
Howard is working hard on the boards
Pierce was there forever...how does Howard have no realization and picks up his 3rd so early in the 3rd...it floors me how anyone could play basketball for this long and no so little about the game yet have such an out-of-control ego
Pierce tried so hard to hide that elbow to Artests's head...if he hits anyone other than Artest that's a flagrant
when Kobe's on the floor, I see nothing that resemples a D'Antoni offense
great pass to Artest from Nash and he has no idea what to do with it
Lakers defensive rotation is an embarrassment
physical block from Howard...glad it wasn't called a flagrant...just a hard foul
LAL down by 13
Lee is all over Bryant and Kobe keeps putting them in but he's exhausted
almost every play is a Kobe post-up and back down...how does even Kobe think that's going to win games
Artest with the back down...there is no offense what-so-ever...D'Antoni is doing nothing
Kobe back down...again...no offense
from 4:30 on
6 passes for Bos...2p
2 passes for LAL...3p
LAL...0 passes...2p off O-reb
BOS...outlet for layup...2p
LAL...1 pass...0p (Green just got the dunk and then blocked the shot)
end of 3rd...BOS 95-69 (37pt Q)
Howard in without Nash or Kobe...why Mike...use Nash to get Howard going
1 pass to Howard on the block...turnover
next Laker possession...2 passes...turnover
Howard post-up...Howard turnover
ridiculous shot from Artest
I'm done...going to bed with it 103-73...watching IU/Ill in the morning
Here are five things on the sports mind of Doug Franz heading into Super Bowl weekend...
1) The hardest thing for coaches is to know when to stick to your strengths and when to attack your opponent's weaknesses even if that doesn't play to your strengths. Tom Brady torched the San Francisco 49ers with checkdowns and passes in front of the secondary during a regular season game. Joe Flacco's strength is the deep ball. The way to beat the 49ers is simple: patient execution. The problem is patience and execution is not in the Flacco repertoire.
I think Flacco will try to change. Flacco will try to execute a short game plan and fail. In the second half he'll go back to what he's good at and hit some long shots. The Ravens will make a valiant come back but come up short.
San Francisco 27, Baltimore 24 ...and no, it's not on a late David Akers field goal. Baltimore will score late but fail on the onside kick.
2) I think Ken Whisenhunt is a very knowledgable football coach. If he wants to be successful again, however, he must drop the stubbornness. Just because you're one of the smartest football coaches in the league doesn't mean you can't keep learning. His tenure in Arizona will be marked by moments of brilliance and elements of ignorance completely caused by an addiction to following his mind over his eyes.
If you call a play that the players aren't talented enough to execute, it doesn't matter that the film proves you right. Too often, Whisenhunt would see patches of green grass and use that as proof his play worked, even though it ended up in a sack, turnover, or incomplete pass leaving a longer conversion attempt for an offensive line that struggled to protect the quarterback.
How do I know I'm right? His own former employer. Watch this video from the the Super Bowl.
After you get past the clueless stare from the guy in the middle, listen to Rod Graves explain what suits Kevin Kolb. In other words, the best thing for Kevin Kolb is to not be coached by Ken Whisenhunt.
3) Great win for the Suns this week over the Lakers. A win like that makes the transition to the new coach much easier for the players. It also shows the difference that a focused Michael Beasley makes.
Beasley can be described with a lot of words and phrases but "bad guy" or "locker room cancer" don't apply. It's a shame that he didn't bring the intensity to an Alvin Gentry-coached team. Beasley's lack of fire cost Gentry his job. That's evident in how well Beasley is playing now. If these last five games had been the norm, Gentry would still be the coach. However, if Beasley was a bad guy, players on this team would revolt against him for saddle-bagging effort until now. It's clear the players know Beasley is a different guy so they aren't judging him for his first 30+ games versus his last five. Maybe we shouldn't either.
4) Greg Jamison is not a fraud. His attempt to buy the Coyotes was a valiant effort, until a month ago. He had to know he couldn't get it done and strung everyone out. I don't have a problem with his investors wanting to wait until after the lockout. Why buy a team if you don't know all the facts about the financial future? However, soon after the agreement, proper PR is clear. You announce immediately that you are ready to go forward with the purchase of the team unless you don't have the money.
It is not in the last two years where Jamison failed all of us. It is in the last month. His holding on for dear life to a pipe dream may have cost us the Coyotes. If he would have removed himself, there would have been more time for a different group to come in and push forward with a lease agreement or taking over the old one. A good owner realizes they are a steward of the city's franchise. In Jamison's first major decision as the Coyotes "owner", he failed.
5) Please don't confuse competitive desire and immaturity. If you even think of supporting Russell Westbrook and his 548th outburst at his teammates, you've either never played basketball or you're still wondering why your old high school teammates don't talk to you anymore.
Westbrook had the ball and an 18-point lead Thursday night against Memphis. He violated an old "anti-Barkley" rule that a player posting up can't dribble with their back to the basket for more than five seconds. As Westbrook was approaching the fourth second, Thabo Sefolosha cut to the basket. At that moment, Westbrook wanted to spin into the lane and walked into a double-team. Since he froze, he was whistled for the five-second call. Westbrook chastised Sefolosha on the court therefore showing up his teammate and was pulled from the game. He yelled at Kevin Durant during the timeout. He stayed disengaged from the team during a timeout. He argued with assistant coach Maurice Cheeks (who knows something about the point guard position) and stormed off the court, punching a chair along the way.
If Russell Westbrook ever decides the game of basketball is about five players, the Thunder will win a championship. Since he won't, they won't.
I was the host of "NFL First Look," my first sports talk show in April of 1991. I went from market 462 to 119 to 29 and now to Phoenix. In those 20-plus years as a talk show host -- working to earn the dream job I have now -- I have never experienced a week like this. In all the years you've lived in Phoenix, I'm assuming you've never seen a week like this either.
One year ago today, the Cardinals were at the Senior Bowl with Ken Whisenhunt and Ray Horton as coaches led by GM Rod Graves; Alvin Gentry, Dan Majerle and Elston Turner were coaching Suns players Steve Nash and Grant Hill; and the Diamondbacks were preparing to start spring training hoping Justin Upton could lead them to consecutive NL West titles.
In one week we've been introduced to Bruce Arians and Todd Bowles, and to a lesser degree Steve Keim; Lindsey Hunter and (you could argue because he wasn't very visible before last week) Lance Blanks are Phoenix household names; and Martin Prado is here to save us at third but might only be here for a year.
What just happened?
I have no idea what just happened but I can tell you how I felt going through it. The best way to go through the week is to go through the names.
My choice would have been Ray Horton as head coach with Norv Turner as the offensive coordinator. Horton on Burns and Gambo replied, "unequivocally" when asked if he was confident in his ability to bring in Turner
Having said that, hiring Arians is not a mistake. He was clearly the most qualified assistant coach on the market to be promoted to head coach. Unlike other assistant coaches, he was a head coach last year, filling in for Chuck Pagano during his illness.
It is impossible to be in a room with Arians and not be swept up by his passion. Agreed, emotion doesn't win football games. Execution does. I believe Arians' passion translates to others believing in his system. Belief in what you're being told makes it easier to execute. Combine his passion and knowledge with the coup of signing Tom Moore -- who NFL personnel guru Gil Brandt told us was a steal -- makes anyone believe that the days of being ranked in the 30s offensively are over.
Great move, Cardinals.
I completely agree with trading Justin Upton. I don't like this trade, however. Signing Prado to a contract extension will move this trade up to the "it's OK" designation. If you trade a major piece like Upton, I think you have to shoot for more than "OK."
In the era of drug-using athletes, stories of mistreating women and criminal arrests, Justin Upton is not a bad guy. However, through the prism of clubhouse leader, work ethic and team focus, Upton was a bad locker room guy. Let's say Upton is hurt and doesn't come in or is late for his rehab work. Do you think the guys in the clubhouse believe he's all in to help the team win? If he's throwing bats around because he went 0-for-4 despite the team having a thrilling come-from-behind win, don't you think his teammates wish he would be a little happier for the collective group?
It comes down to one thing, Justin Upton had run out of opportunities to reach his potential in Arizona. No matter how high you think his ceiling is, he wasn't going to reach it here and had to be traded.
My problem with the deal was you traded a player who will be great somewhere else and didn't get great return. Make no mistake, Upton will succeed wildly in Atlanta. The collection of players received need to match that success and I don't think they will.
Average move, Diamondbacks.
There are so many things Sarver has done in the past that I have completely disagreed with. Watching the Suns from the outside, it seems Sarver either makes bad hires or drives away people who are the good hires. I think years of selling off draft picks was either cheap or misguided. Fair or not, Sarver must make it to the NBA Finals for fans to ever think of his tenure as owner as worth the pain they feel.
Over the last week, however, I think he's been unfairly blamed. For those screaming "Sell the Suns," there are other moments where those shouts were warranted. Yes, Sarver hired Lance Blanks and Lon Babby. Yes, everything that happens on his watch is to his credit or his failure. This time, though, he did what we've all wanted him to do and it's wrong to then blame him for that too.
We wanted Sarver to get out of those courtside seats waving his foam finger around. We wanted Sarver to hire basketball people and let them run the show. We wanted him to stop trying to be the players' best friend while nickel-and-diming a Grant Hill come contract negotiation time. Whether anyone noticed or not, Sarver is doing that for the first time.
The mere presence of Robert Sarver in our lives drives us crazy. He has committed so many basketball "sins" that we won't forgive. I get that and I'm not asking you to forgive. For once, though, I think Sarver sounded like an under-control leader when he was on with Burns and Gambo. For once, I think we should give him credit. It's unfair to yell at him for years for being in the way and then attack his because he won't stop the train. I have never defended Robert Sarver before but I think he's doing the right thing by letting basketball people make the basketball decisions.
LON BABBY/LANCE BLANKS
I get the anger. I'm angry too. I do miss the days in our country when we could disagree with passion without it leading to hatred. Ronald Reagan and Tip O'Neill agreed on nothing, yet so much was accomplished because both men worked together in a hate-free environment.
I don't hate Lon Babby and Lance Blanks. I don't think they are idiots. I don't think they are liars. I don't think they are right, either. Actually, I think they are flat out wrong.
I think you can sometimes outsmart the room. There are a lot of people saying the interview process was a sham. A sham infers that this was a master plan all along. No one takes a GM job and puts together a team with the sole purpose of losing so they can fire the coach. That is absurd.
I do think they put together a bad team. I do think they thought the team was better than it is. I do think they blame Alvin Gentry. If they believed in him he would have given him a contract extension. I do believe they went into the interviews with a pre-conceived notion that Elston Turner and Dan Majerle were just as culpable as Gentry. I think Turner and Majerle did nothing in their interviews to dispel that notion.
Imagine if you spent 12 months working on a project and you don't feel like the foreman is the guy to run it anymore. Now it's time to hire someone to run the finished product. During the interviews, two people tell you your project wasn't any good but they'll do the best with what they have. One person tells you your project only needs some tweaks and he is the man for the job. Do you respect the honesty of the first two or are you offended? Do you take the third option because he thinks like you or is he just saying what you want to hear? I think that's what happened and Lance Blanks took door number three and out stepped Lindsey Hunter.
I respect their conviction. They stood and faced the arrows like no one in sports does. The problem is every potential upper-echelon assistant coach knows Babby/Blanks will pass them over for an opportunity, so they won't come here. Babby/Blanks clearly looked at Dan Majerle as a Suns legend to be feared and not as a hard-working assistant who has paid his dues. I think in their dogmatic attempt to do the right thing for the Suns, they did the wrong thing for everyone.
There are some decisions Blanks/Babby have made for which they will never get credit. It's a shame. They've made a lot of tough decisions that will help the Suns in the long run. I think this could be one of the last major decisions they will make.