Saturday, May 5, 2012

NHL, MLB doubleheader

My AP stringer duties had me covering one practice, one game and two teams in two different sports. Not that I had much writing to do, but it all led to receiving attributions in a career-high four articles in the same day. Random.

*I covered the Phillies side of the "Take back the ballpark" game Friday night. Not that Jimmy Rollins had any clue the about Nationals-led promotion. I asked the shortstop if he was aware the home team had been making a strong push to get their fans into the stadium rather than the usual horde of Philly fanatics. In short,'' Rollins replied, "two letters: The first letter starts with `N'; the last one is `O.'''

* New York Rangers forward Chris Kreider - as opposed to the George Mason assistant men's basketball coach - went straight from winning the Frozen Four with Boston College to playing in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. That's right, no regular season action for the speedy 21-year-old, who scored the game-winning goal and assisted on an insurance tally in the Game 1 win over the Capitals. The best-of-7 series resumes Saturday at 12:30.

Click on through for one more NHL and MLB link

Thursday, May 3, 2012

What if: 23-and-under U.S. hoops roster for London

After writing about John Wall joining the U.S. Men's national program and the potential for a 23-and-under team going forward, I started wondering what a team with that type age restriction could look like this summer.

Of the players likely headed to London for real, only Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Kevin Love (and the injured and therefore not eligible even in the What If world Derrick Rose) are options. Here's my projected 12-man roster with six alternates, starters in bold:

John Wall, future olympian?

The good news: John Wall is reportedly joining Team USA as a member of the select team that will scrimmage against the 2012 men's basketball Olympic squad this summer.

The interesting angle: This opportunity gives the Wizards speedy point guard a potential leg up on making the 2016 Olympic team.

The potential international buzz kill: Notable basketball decision-makers are looking at a 23-and-under roster format for future Olympic games.

Before we look ahead, let's focus on the present - and the present that comes with the invitation, which multiple outlets have reported. Instead of spending a second straight summer time playing in loosey-goosey charity games, Wall should be battling the likes of Chris Paul, Deron Williams and Russell Westbrook during intense scrimmages.

Actually there was no fear of another summer fun circuit - "Nah, I’m cool on that, " Wall said the day after the season finale win over the Heat. "I’m done. It’s just workouts. I ain’t having none, that was just because of the lockout it was too much time."

Earlier that week, I asked Wall if he was going to attend any NBA playoff games in person and which point guards the maturing floor leader would study during the off-season. Seeing as he intended on doing the bi-coastal thing between D.C. and Los Angeles, Wall said he would hope to catch Paul and the Clippers in addition to the Lakers, who could face Westbrook and the Thunder in the second round.

Now Wall might get some hands-on lessons from those All-Stars.

Even with Derrick Rose's knee injury taking him out of the Olympic mix - big men Dwight Howard, LaMarcus Aldridge and Lamar Odom are also not expected to join the team's training camp - Team USA is still flush with point guard options. Unless Paul, Williams and Westbrook opt out or are injured before the London games, that trio will run the offense.

Team USA will train in Las Vegas July 6-11. After an exhibition against the Dominican Republic on July 12, the U.S. team will move operations to Washington for two days worth of practices before hosting Brazil in an exhibition game on July 16.

But what about future U.S editions?

Georgetown faces Texas in 2012 Jimmy V Classic

From, the day late news pile: Georgetown has an official non-conference game on their 2012-13 calendar.

Nope, not against Terps, but Texas.

The Hoyas and Longhorns will participate in a doubleheader for the 2012 Jimmy V Classic on Tuesday, December 4 at Madison Square Garden (do I need to add MSG is in New York City?).
Georgetown will play Texas in the first game scheduled for 7 p.m followed by a matchup between Connecticut and North Carolina State.

Per Georgetown's athletic department, this will be only the second meeting all-time between the Hoyas and the Longhorns, who last met during the 1971-72 season, a 78-70 GU loss.

Georgetown last played in the Jimmy V Classic during the 2009-10 season, beating eventual NCAA Tournament finalist Butler, 72-67.

The Hoyas finished last season with a 24-9 overall record and made the NCAA Tournament for a third-straight season before losing to the Wolfpack in the round of 32.

Texas finished the 2011-12 season with a 20-14 overall record and lost to Cincinnati in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

FFToolbox podcast: John Keim; fantasy rookies

Did the podcast thing this week..

* Redskins beat writer John Keim (Washington Examiner) talked about the offense surrounding RGIII

* Whether Pierre Garcon  has No. 1 receiver skills and where Leonard Hankerson fits into the team's WR hierarchy

* If Roy Helu enters the season as the primary runner

* And yes, what was up with that Kirk Cousins pick

* Also weighed in on the NFC East outlook post-draft (Outside of the Nick Foles pick, we both liked what Philly did)

* Plus before and after the Keim interview, I did the solo talking thing with a look at NFL rookies and their fantasy outlook. Here's a taste - I explain why based on value, Doug Martin (Bucs) is my fave first-round RB; why Rams RB Isaiah Pead, Jets WR Stephen Hill and Steelers RB Chris Rainey have that sleeper kind of look.

Click it here for the podcast goodness.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Kiper: Cousins pick 'can divide a team'

One of if not the main post-NFL Draft water cooler topics centers on the Redskins quarterbacking situation - but not simply Robert Griffin III. Rather, how the drafting of Michigan State's Kirk Cousins impacts the start of the RG3 era.

I weighed in here, offering my take on the puzzling other quarterback pick. Some like Sports Illustrated's Peter King and Don Banks have set up camp on my side of the aisle, others go the other way.

During his post-draft conference call on Monday, ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper voiced his opinion.

It's not favorable. We're talking the pick for the Redskins on the heels of going all in for Robert Griffin III, not the upside of Cousins.

As anyone who has listened to Kiper knows, he talks fast and he talks a lot. I transcribed it all. Here are the raw quotes, followed by his thoughts on the Redskins non-QB picks.

"I wouldn’t have taken Cousins in the fourth round if I’m the Redskins. I would have loved to have had him for a team that needed a young quarterback that could be the starter in a year or so. I would have loved him in the fourth round. He could have been a second-round pick. We could have been sitting here saying he was a decent second-round pick. No problem with them saying we had him rated as the third quarterback, we had to take him.

"But does this cause any problems? It’s easy to say he understands [Cousins] role, RG3 is the starter. [Cousins is] coming into compete, he’s not coming into understand a role. How can you tell someone to be a backup? You can’t tell a kid, coming in the fourth round you just be satisfied to be the backup. No matter what you do you’re our backup. He’s not going to buy into that.

RG3 Era Begins With Confusing Quarterback Pick (

Addressing the receiving corps in free agency and drafting multiple guards count as positive steps in the new Robert Griffin III (RG3) era.

Passing on a needed tackle, running back or safety in the fourth round for another quarterback – Michigan State’s Kirk Cousins - in RG3’s first season does not.

From the moment the Washington Redskins shipped three first-round picks plus a second-round selection to the St. Louis Rams last month, the plan should have been — and in the eyes of the staff, presumably is — to maximize their new asset’s potential.

I am stumped how adding another passer does that.

As always, team comes first and smart organizations draft talent over need, but within reason. In this case, special consideration should have gone to enhancing the new guy with the power arm, dynamic speed and movie star charisma.

Though RG3’s cool vibe might not suggest a player under pressure, he is. By adding Cousins, the Redskins may have unnecessarily turned up the stress level.

Let’s me make this very clear — without question RG3 is the Redskins’ future.

His present includes joining an offense with a leaky line and a backfield lacking depth. Fourth rounders can help those areas and elsewhere.

The choice certainly will not keep RG3 upright in the pocket, give him a supportive ground game or fix a beatable secondary so he does not have to throw on every down just to keep pace.

Perennial playoff teams with fewer depth chart gaps can take such a luxury pick. The Redskins are still in trying to build a roster. That did not stop Washington from becoming the first team since 1989 to select two quarterbacks in the first four rounds.

Check out the rest of my column here -