Saturday, November 23, 2013

Making a case for Adreian Payne as a NBA Lottery pick

Who does Adreian Payne have to screw to be considered a NBA Draft Lottery pick? I mean Jesus, many draftnicks like ESPN's Chad Ford don't even have Payne projected as a first rounder.

Hopefully Payne's performance to start the 2013-2014 season will help dispel several myths:
1) That Tom Izzo doesn't produce NBA talent; 
2) That Michigan State doesn't develop big men; and
3) That four year seniors can't become upper echelon NBA Lottery picks.

With his ability to shoot the three point shot, pick and pop, post up, put the ball on the floor and block shots, Payne has the ability to play either the four or the five at the next level and is one of the more complete big men I've seen in college basketball in recent years.

And while Kentucky's Julius Randle is the poster child for the NBA Draft, Payne outperformed him in the first half of the Michigan State - Kentucky game before some soft foul calls sent him to the bench and allowed Randle to go off.

Unfortunately for Payne, the NBA is about 25 years behind the NFL when it comes to drafting collegiate players.

Instead of drafting players based upon well researched analysis of their athleticism/measurables, basketball IQ, and psychological profile, NBA executives seem to draft players based upon one thing and one thing alone...Their perceived upside.

How else can you explain Chad Ford rating a walking piece of shit like Willie Cauley-Stein of Kentucky #21 while he excludes Payne from his top thirty altogether?

I live in Lexington, and I pretty much watch all of the UK games...Apparently Chad Ford doesn't.

Cauley-Stein doesn't post up hard, he can't shoot, can't play defense, and seems about a second late on every rebound that he goes after.

Fortunately, he makes up for all of that by appearing as if he doesn't give a shit, being 7'0, and having been recruited by John Calipari. Quite frankly, Willie Cauley-Stein is the anti-Adreian Payne.

For reasons that only Ed Martin, Jalen Rose and Steve Fisher can understand, Chad Ford has Mitch McGary ranked as his #19 NBA Draft prospect. 

McGary has no outside shot, no real post moves, and no proven track record aside from a brief flash during the NCAA Tournament. Granted, the kid can rebound like a Mongoloid, but then again, so could Jerod Ward.

It's amazing how far out of touch from reality that NBA Draft evaluators have become.

As much as I hate to admit it, if Adreian Payne was playing the way he is right now for John Calipari at Kentucky, he'd probably have half of the NBA and ESPN in line to suck him off right now.

But instead of being viewed as a potential superstar, he's almost viewed as damaged goods despite having developed a complete NBA skill set that players rated above him haven't, and likely never will acquire.

Payne and Michigan State have the rest of the season to change some perceptions and schools of thought concerning the NBA Draft.

Fortunately, Payne seems like an even better person than he is a player...Not that it matters to the NBA.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Michigan State vs. Kentucky - Because the Spartans are going to run the Widcats out of the United Center

As the #2 Michigan State Spartans prepare to meet the #1 ranked Kentucky Wildcats in this Tuesday's Champions Classic in Chicago, these two programs couldn't go about their success more differently.
-Tom Izzo takes an "anybody, any place, any time" mentality when it comes to scheduling, even though his teams are notorious slow starters. 

-John Calipari effortlessly recruits a new class of "one and done" players every year, but is complaining about having to face a veteran team like the Spartans this early in the season.

-Tom Izzo backed off of blue chip recruits like Cliff Alexander, James Young and Tyler Ulis when middlemen and other shady elements start to emerge.

-John Calipari embraces shady figures like "World Wide Wes" and ignored red flags on recruits like Marcus Camby, Derrick Rose and Enes Kanter, only to claim ignorance when they were ultimately declared ineligible by the NCAA.
-Tom Izzo utilized a state law in occasionally using state owned planes while on recruiting trips, yet that use resulted in a FAA investigation (that turned out to be completely legal).
-John Calipari once recruited Michigan State power forward Adreian Payne by landing a helicopter on his high school football field, yet nobody even raised an eyebrow.
Hell, even their campuses are polar opposites.

Michigan State tries to sell recruits on one of the most beautiful and lively campuses in the nation, while Kentucky somehow convinces blue chip prospects to come to the horse, chain restaurant, and jean short capital of the world.

And before the Wildcat fans start screaming at me for being a damn Yankee, I know all of these things...I actually live in Lexington, having attended both MSU and UK.

I've sat next to Demarcus Cousins as he got a two hour lap dance at Camelot West.

I've  been touched by Tim Couch's Playboy Playmate wife as she sat next to me at Drake's.

Hell, I've even bought Kenny "Sky" Walker a drink at Camelot East as he gushed about how Kentucky dropped the ball by not pursuing Tom Izzo harder to become their coach when they had the chance (sorry Kenny, UK never had a chance with Izzo).

Ultimately, Tuesday's game means nothing in the grand scheme of this season aside from pride and a potential boost to each school's national reputation.

And while the Spartans certainly aren't lacking in pride, they could use some love when it comes to the national media, who mistakenly thinks that the Spartans are a grind it out half court offensive team.

On the other hand, UK's team is certainly talented, but they're very young, and an early season victory over the #2 ranked team in the country would be a major boost to their egos and give them confidence going forward. 

So how does this game play out?

First off, Michigan State will dispel the perception that they're a slow paced, half court based team. Look for the Spartans to run the young Wildcats out of the United Center on Tuesday.

If the 2013-2014 Kentucky basketball team is nicknamed the "Kiddie Cats," does that make the 2012-2013 Kentucky team the "NITtie Cats?"

Julius Randle has been a beast thus far for Kentucky, but also has not been matched up with the size or athleticism of someone like Michigan State's Adrieon Payne.

Payne is also the key to Michigan State's offense, presenting match-up problems of his own with a pick and pop game that he can also move down low into the post.

This game probably comes down to foul trouble and how the new extra stringent hand-check rules will be enforced, as Payne demonstrated a propensity to get into foul trouble at the Junior Olympics this summer, in which less lenient International Rules were enforced.

In the event that Payne does get in foul trouble, Michigan State does have some bodies to throw at Randle, but not anybody who can match him in terms of athleticism.

Likewise, Kentucky can't afford to lose Randle, as Willie Cauley-Stein is perhaps the most overrated player in all of America. Maybe this guy convinces some crappy NBA team to draft him in the first round, but I doubt he ever plays any meaningful minutes outside of the D-League.

In the back court, Kentucky's heralded "Harrison Twins" seem overrated, particularly Aaron at shooting guard. Meanwhile, Michigan State has potentially the best back court in the nation with Sr. Keith Appling at the point and All-American Gary Harris at shooting guard.

Throw in Michigan State's versatility at the hybrid "three" spot with Denzel Valentine and Brandon Dawson against an underachieving Alex Poythress and super raw James Young, and Michigan State should win this game going away.

Prediction: Michigan State 73 - Kentucky 59

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Drew Sharp is not a journalist, he's just a character, and needs to stripped of his AP vote

In other parts of the country, in SEC land for instance, colleges and universities have sports writers who take notice of and support deserving local teams when voting for the AP Top 25.

In the State of Michigan, we get Drew Sharp.

You may know Drew Sharp as the "Commentary/Criticism" writer for the Detroit Free Press, who took over as the Detroit area rabble-rouser after Rob Parker parlayed his hack journalism and a lack of integrity into a cushy gig at ESPN.

Not that Drew Sharp has similar aspirations or anything...

The problem with giving shock writers like Sharp an AP top 25 vote is that they lack the ability to be objective, which is instrumental for any sports writer who is handed the privilege of casting votes that can play a role in match-ups that may ultimately define a school or player's spot in history.

Contrary to his own belief, Drew Sharp is not a journalist, he's a character. He's the "bad guy" that the Free Press needs to sell papers...The man local sports fans love to hate.

And in order to live up to that character, Drew Sharp hates on local sports teams.

He hates on the B1G...He hates on Detroit...He hates on the whole state of Michigan. Hell, he'd probably hate on his own mother if he thought that a majority of his readers liked her.

Look, I understand that it isn't a sports writer's job to only report about sunshine, rainbows and Trans-Am's, but that doesn't mean he has to go around shitting in everyone's Easter basket either.

In playing this character, "The Great Boodini," Drew Sharp has lost his objectivity as a writer. By stubbornly hating on the B1G, he's locked himself into a position that he has to justify week in and week out, especially when it comes to casting his top 25 ballot for the AP.

Here are some of his quotes from just the past two weeks:
"For better or worse, college football is a national sport. And Michigan State-Michigan doesn’t measure up. The real college football rivalries aren’t between specific teams but between conferences."
"So I will leave you with this question: What do you call an All-Star team comprised of Michigan and Michigan State players?
Answer: SEC water boys."
 "It’s more than reasonable that the champions of far better conferences such as the SEC, Pac-12 and ACC could be 12-1, and two of those teams would be more deserving of a berth in the final BCS championship game than the Buckeyes."
"All records aren’t equal. That’s difficult for the delusional Big Ten apologists to accept. But an undefeated or one-loss Big Ten — or a Big 12 team this year — simply isn’t as credible as those other three conferences in which ranked opponents face off on a regular basis."
"Sorry, Sparty.The lack of schedule strength and national credibility in the overall body work once again keeps the Spartans off my weekly Associated Press ballot."
"The Spartans are no better than 25th on my ballot. Why should I be impressed with what they did to Michigan when I was the lone national voter arguing the Wolverines’ fraudulence since the start of the season? That was as unimpressive of a 29-6 win as you’ll ever see considering the extraordinary field position the Spartans enjoyed all day. 
A good team would’ve stamped 50 points on Michigan’s forehead with that kind of advantage.
They move into my rankings solely because my previous No. 25 – Oregon State – lost for the second straight week."
"The Big Ten won’t get overvalued on my ballot because (cue the orchestra) ... OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO, the Big Ten sucks. The Big Ten sucks."

As it turns out, Michigan State has developed into a pretty damn good football team, as anyone who watches college football can attest.

They have one of the better defenses college football has seen in recent memory. They also control the clock, punt and kick the ball exceedingly well, and rarely turn the ball over.
The terrible offense?

Well, after a slow start the Spartans are still averaging nearly 30 points a game. Not great, but not all that bad either considering how strong they are when it comes to defense and special teams. 

The weak schedule that Drew Sharp shouts about?

Yes, Michigan State's B1G schedule is favorable for the first time in years, but he can't penalize them for that...At least not when the Spartans have taken care of their business while several schools he ranks ahead of them have played schedules that were much weaker than theirs.

For example:
-He has Louisville ranked #16 even though they lost to Central Florida and their best win came against an awful Kentucky team (and Drew can quit squawking about Kentucky being a SEC team. I went to UK for grad school and currently live in Lexington...They'd lose to EVERY team in the B1G).

-He has Central Florida ranked #17 even though their two signature victories were 3 point wins over both Louisville and Penn State, coupled with a loss to South Carolina.

-He has Northern Illinois ranked #19 even though their only notable victories were a 3 point win over Iowa and a victory over Purdue. The rest of their schedule has been garbage

-He has Fresno State ranked #22 even though their only meaningful win was an overtime victory over Rutgers while playing in a weak conference.

-Finally, he ranked a two loss BYU team #23 even though they lost to an awful Virginia squad, and who's best victory was over a Texas team that was in turmoil when they met early in the season.

Simply put, Drew Sharp makes a living hating on the Big Ten, and in doing so he has become biased and lost any objectivity that he once may have had.

On one hand, he devalues teams in the Big Ten because of their schedule. On the other, he ignores that same logic when he ranks schools from lesser conferences ahead of B1G schools like Michigan State even when they have played weaker schedules themselves.

The only reason Drew Sharp has for not ranking Michigan State higher than #25 in his most recent AP ballot is because he refuses to admit that he was wrong about them, because doing that would destroy the character that he's created for himself.

Drew Sharp may be an opinion writer, but he completely ignores facts and disregards logic. And when you're an opinion writer who's opinions are devoid of fact and based upon flawed logic, you're not a journalist anymore, you're just a blowhard.

And blowhards don't need to have a voice in selecting college football's BCS teams, they need to be in bars somewhere in Alabama chanting "S-E-C! S-E-C!"

Friday, November 1, 2013

Fuck Michigan

As the the 23rd ranked Wolverines travel to East Lansing to take on the 24th ranked Spartans, look for U of M fans across the state to bathe, log off of their neighbor's Wi-Fi, and leave their mothers' basements in an attempt to invade Spartan Stadium.

Okay, maybe I was a little too optimistic about the whole "bathing" thing.

In order to keep all of the Michigan trolls out, we may even need the "Spartan Guard" to set up on the outskirts of campus along "Troll"Bridge Road to see if those seeking to enter are worthy to do so by correctly answering the following question:

 - What are the two things you get from Ann Arbor?
1. Year after year the most overrated football team in America;
2. Ugly chicks. 
This U of M girl is: a) drunk, b) sad, c) Corky's sister, d) all of the above.

For some reason, Michigan still has America convinced that they are a football power even though Michigan State has long since passed them as the better program.

Not only have the Spartans boasted better talent, coach and now facilities (aside from the Big House itself) than the Wolverines in the Mark Dantonio/Mark Hollis era, but as winners of four of the last five games in the rivalry, they've had the better results to back it up.

Of course, the arrogant folks down in Ann Arbor refuse to even acknowledge Michigan State as one of their rivals...But then again, the team on the ass-end of things doesn't exactly get to choose who their rivals are.

Chad Earl Atcheson:
 It doesn't take a kinesiology major to figure out which one of these right wing Michigan Militia members actually attended U of M...The correct answer is, "none of them."

In fact, even if Mike Hart and Fitz Toussaint are correct in their belief that MSU is U of M's "Little Brother," at some point every "Big Brother" eventually comes to the realization that "Little Brother" grew up to become bigger, stronger and more personable than his older sibling.

Hot Michigan State chicks: And to top things off, "Little Brother" wound up with the better looking girlfriend.

Don't look for things to change come Saturday. Michigan State has the best defense in the nation, and should be able to shut down the Wolverines' running game and make them a one dimensional passing team.

And if that holds true, look for the Spartans to come out on top 23-13, sending the corn and blue fans back to South Gate or wherever the hell it is that their mom lives, so they can resume trolling Michigan State boards in anonymity while praying that the ghost of Ed Martin comes back and buys them another winner.

Fuck Michigan