100% Bryce Cotton: The Long Road to Utah

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In the spring and summer of 2010, if you were to Google “Bryce Cotton basketball”, this (above photo) is the type of recruiting profile you would have found (minus the commitment). No player news, no photo, and the daunting NR (no rating) for his scout grade. The 6 foot guard from Tucson, Arizona wasn’t highly touted enough to receive a grade. At this point, it seemed going D1 was a far fetched option. But then a minor stir was started by an avid Louisville Cardinals fan by the name of Austin Montgomery.

On July 21, 2010, Montgomery posted his thoughts on Bryce Cotton on the Louisville basketball forum “Card Chronicle”. “Bryce Cotton Wouldn’t Mind Louisville” was simply a post from a high school fan, advocating why Cotton should have been receiving more attention than he was. Louisville Cardinal skeptics came flooding out of the woodwork poking fun at the lack of info behind this guard from Palo Verde High School. But with Cotton already graduated, and still lacking any national hype, it was difficult for anyone to look much further.

Two days later another post appeared on the same website. “Bryce Cotton For Louisville” came as a response to the buzz regarding the previous post. Cardinal fans knew nothing about Cotton but were dying to efficiently learn everything. A simple skim of the article would allow Louisville fans to find out that the 6 foot guard seemed to be pretty overlooked. Cotton had a great high school resumé resulting in zero D1 offers. Junior Colleges and fighting for one of Houston Baptist University’s two available scholarships is what Bryce Cotton’s summer had come to. But for the Louisville faithful, they had begun to hope Cotton would turn into Rick Pitino’s super-secret late summer steal.

On August 18, 2010, all of this came to screeching halt when Cotton reportedly committed to Miami-Dade College. Somehow still lacking D1 offers, this was his “best-case scenario”, according to Palo Verde Coach Chris Klassen. The brief but eventful online Bryce Cotton frenzy had come to a disappointing end. He would be a Miami-Dade College Shark and not a Louisville Cardinal as many had hoped.

12 days later, it was announced Bryce Cotton had committed to somewhere other than Miami-Dade. No, not Louisville, but their in-conference foe, the Providence Friars. Friar fans began to rejoice across recruiting blogs as they slowly started to realize the minor obsession Louisville fanatics had over Cotton during the past summer months. While the stir over Cotton and Louisville was quickly gaining momentum through college basketball blogs, Friars Head Coach Keno Davis was quietly putting in the work to get the guard to Providence.

The Bryce Cotton era in Friartown began on October 15, 2010, when the new kid on the block from Arizona won the slam dunk contest at the Friars’ Late Night Madness (watch highlights above). Barely 6 feet, Cotton came into Alumni Gymnasium throwing down dunks that sent chills down the spine of every Louisville Cardinal fan who had ever googled him. If I’m a Cards fan in 2010 and watching the above video, I would have thrown up all over my keyboard.

During his freshman year, Cotton averaged just over 15 minutes a game and scored in double figures four times over the course of the season. Not a bad start at all. Sophomore year comes around and Cotton averages 38 minutes and 14 points a game, with the signature event taking place on January 10th at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Providence. Facing the 14th ranked Louisville Cardinals, the unranked Friars dominated Rick Pitino’s team from start to finish. Bryce Cotton finished with 27 points, going 5 for 5 from three, as Providence squashed the nationally ranked Cards 90-59. Feeling like a swift kick in the gut, Louisville fans found themselves playing the always sour “what could’ve been” card.

Following an outstanding junior year where he put up 19.7 points per game, Cotton’s senior year was extraordinary to say the least. Averaging 21.8 points a game, Cotton had to make up for the injuries of backcourt partner Kris Dunn. In doing so he played 40.1 minutes a night; mind you there are only 40 minutes in a college basketball game. He was the first player in the country to average over 40 minutes a game since Chris Quinn of Notre Dame did so in 2005-06. Cotton led the Friars to their first Big East Tournament title since 1994 while taking home the tournament’s MVP honors. Providence would be matched up against the 6th seeded North Carolina Tar Heels in the first round where Cotton would get to put on a show on the national stage. And to say he put on a show would be a complete understatement.

Making one dazzling shot after another, Cotton scored 37 points as the Friars played their first NCAA tournament game since 2004. Unfortunately Providence couldn’t deal with a late UNC comeback, as they would eventually lose 79-77. Going 13 for 23 from the floor and adding 8 assists, Cotton left everything on the floor at the AT&T Center in San Antonio.

On June 26, 2014, the NBA Draft came and went, and Bryce Cotton found himself right back where he was after his senior year of high school; underrated and overlooked. Going undrafted, he signed with the San Antonio Spurs on July 7th and immediately joined their summer league team. Cotton was waived by San Antonio on October 23rd and eventually landed on the D-League’s Austin Spurs where he would once again be forced to prove himself.

In 34 games at the D-League level, Cotton put up stellar numbers at 22.4 points per game. However a three week rampage from January 30th to February 18th made it almost impossible for him to not receive an NBA call-up. Averaging 29.7 points per game and shooting an unbelievable 50% from the field, Cotton led the Austin Spurs to a six game win streak which quickly gained the attention of NBA scouts. Keep in mind this all came after his 40 point performance on January 17th. Something’s gotta give, right?

Rightfully so, this got the ball rolling as Cotton signed a 10-day contract with the Utah Jazz on February 25th, followed by another 10-day deal on March 6th. Clearly the Jazz were liking what they were seeing in him, as they finalized a multi-year contract with Cotton on March 16th. Nobody deserves it more than the persistent Tucson native. His grit is never-ending and his talent is eye-opening. I have no doubt we’ll be hearing much more from Bryce Cotton as his NBA career moves on. Ask any Louisville Cardinals fan, I bet they’ll tell you the same thing.

P.S. Below is Bryce’s first career NBA three versus the Denver Nuggets. Here’s to many more.

Kelly Olynyk and the Symbolic Black Eye

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Earlier today at the team’s morning shootaround, Celtics’ center Kelly Olynyk took an elbow from teammate Shavlik Randolph and suffered a laceration just above his eye. It was reported that he would most likely miss Wednesday nights game versus the Indiana Pacers and hopefully be back later in the week.

But then Olynyk released his inner hockey player; going out and playing 22 minutes, scoring 19 points, and going 7-10 from the field all while having a large grape appear underneath his eyelid. Who needs two eyes when you can score with one, right?

This is the 2015 Boston Celtics. They were down and out. No formula and bound for the lottery. But they kept fighting. Even through their front office basically trading away anyone they could for draft picks (including star Rajon Rondo), they kept fighting. They could be tanking for a lottery pick in the hope of drafting a Jahlil Okafor or Karl Anthony Towns but they’re not. Playing through black eyes and patchy lineups, the Celts find themselves as the eighth seed in the East and in playoff contention. Yes this is the weakest Eastern Conference the NBA has seen in a long time, but hey, you can’t knock the hustle. Head coach Brad Stevens has found a way to keep his guys grinding and it’s pretty awesome.

I’m not saying the Celtics are a great team nor am I saying that you have to root for them. But what I am saying is you have to respect what is going on at the TD Garden. Because in that building, eyes are overrated.

Then There Were Four

Kentucky, Wisconsin, Michigan State, and Duke. John Calipari, Bo Ryan, Tom Izzo, and Mike Krzyzewski. All household names and they’re all back for more. No cinderella teams here, but no shortage of excitement. Matchup wise, this should be one of the best Final Four’s we’ve had in a long time. Let’s check out our semifinal games we’ll be watching in Indianapolis this weekend.

Kentucky vs Wisconsin

Nobody is having more fun than the Wisconsin Badgers right now. I mean nobody.

With white boy moves like that, I don’t know how you could root against Frank Kaminsky and the Badgers. They’ll be going up against the almighty Kentucky Wildcats who currently sit at 38-0 on the season. Coach John Calipari and his team is coming off a 78-39 beat down of the West Virginia Mountaineers where they looked better than ever. It was a scary sight to see Kentucky firing on all cylinders. They looked basically unbeatable while toying with West Virginia. But hey, somethings gotta give, right? Wisconsin is a team that lives off of their runs. Before downing North Carolina, the Badgers were struggling to put together their half court offense. But all of a sudden, back to back threes and boom, a little run follows and the Badgers are up two and never look back. If the Wildcats can contain Sam Dekker, Frank Kaminsky and Wisconsin’s mini runs, they’ll be just fine. But if Wisco gets it rolling, Coach Calipari and his Wildcats could be in for a hell of a ballgame. I’ll take the Wildcats, but my heart is without a doubt rooting for the fun-loving Badgers and their wonderful white boy dance moves to continue.

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Side note: Aaron Harrison hit a game winning three for Kentucky to beat Wisconsin in last year’s Final Four.

Duke vs Michigan State

It doesn’t get much better than Mike Krzyzewski and Tom Izzo going head to head in the Final Four. When it comes to coaching resumes, these guys have two of the greatest of all time. Michigan State comes in at a seven seed which is definitely lower than we normally see the Spartans in March. They may be a seven, but Tom Izzo is always a one seed in March and that’s a fact. He’ll be facing an extremely sound Duke squad led by freshman sensations Jahlil Okafor and Tyus Jones. Add in defensive enforcer (potential serial killer) Justice Winslow, and you have one of the most well-rounded lineups in the country. Michigan State is hot, but I’m not so sure they can matchup well at all five positions. From a pure coaching standpoint, this game will be close but I think Duke pulls away late and takes the win.

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If you want to pick against this guy be my guest. That’s just not on my to do list.

Happy Final Four week everyone. Here’s some more Frank Kaminsky dancing to help get you to the weekend.

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Welcome to the Future

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The wait is over. This is it. All those years of saying “Just wait, the Cubs will be good. You just have to give them some time” are over. We gave them time, and just like that, the Cubbies are a legitimate contender again for the first time in over a decade. The future is here. Of course, adding Joe Maddon as manager, some top-tier prospects, and all-star Jon Lester doesn’t really hurt either. Most people felt the rebuilding effort began when Theo Epstein came in as the Cubs’ president along with new GM Jed Hoyer in 2011. So how did this happen so fast?

A year ago, if you were to tell me the Chicago Cubs had 10-1 odds of winning the World Series I would have called you psychotic. But here we are, two weeks away from Opening Day, and the Cubbies look better than ever. Epstein and Hoyer are the perfect combination for a front office that has been chasing after a World Series title since 1908. Coming to Chicago in 2011, these two inherited an awful roster with very little hope. A team that would be borderline impossible to turn into a contender by 2015. But that changed this past offseason. The October pickup of manager Joe Maddon and the December signing of Jon Lester set the stage for the country-wide realization that the Cubs were going to be good again. Like, very good. Last year’s record of 73-89 is a thing of the past and the Cubs seem to be war ready entering April.

First baseman Anthony Rizzo and shortstop Starlin Castro are the team’s so-called veterans at age 25. Each of them are coming off solid 2014 campaigns hitting .286 and .292 respectively and are both under contract with the team through 2020. Ace John Lester at the top of the rotation followed by Jason Hammel and Jake Arrieta sets up a nice look for the mound at Wrigley. This base does wonders to compliment the Cubs’ tremendous abundance of youth.

Kris Bryant

Kris Bryant, Jorge Soler, Addison Russell, Kyle Schwarber, and Javier Baez. Each of these players is ranked in Baseball America’s Top 100 and not one of them is above the age of 23. Bryant is the number one prospect in all of baseball. He spent last year splitting the season between AA and AAA hitting an absurd .336 along with 43 homers. As spring training comes to a close this week, Bryant is hitting a cool .459 with 9 homers. Not too shabby. Soler had a brief audition with the Cubs at the end of the 2014 campaign and made the most of it with an average of .292. At age 20 last season, Addison Russell hit .295 and showed flashes of Barry Larkin at shortstop. Javier Baez slugged 37 homers last season in AA ball which is freakish power for a middle infielder. And Kyle Schwarber hit .344 in his first pro season last year and is currently tearing up the spring. Need I say more? The fountain of youth in Wrigleyville is filled with homers, gold gloves, Cubans, and potential. This is some of the greatest Cubs porn Chicago fans have ever been able to get their hands on. And it’s all about to become a reality.

As a Red Sox fan, I know very well the magic that Theo Epstein can create. The Sox were sitting on an 86 year title drought when he came to town. One year later the drought was over. Three championships later, he looks to do the same thing in Chicago. Joe Maddon quickly turned around an awful Tampa Bay Rays team into a consistent contender. There’s no reason to believe he won’t be able to do the same thing with an even more promising Cubs squad. You can laugh with him about his goofy glasses and bizarre hair, but you can’t laugh at him or his team. The Cubbies are no longer a joke. The future is now and the bandwagon is getting crowded. Jump on board and grab your seat because if you don’t, come October, you may find yourself wishing you did.

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The mad scientist and his brilliant brain trust. I’m beyond excited to watch their elaborate plan unfold, and you should be too.

What Happened to the Wizards?

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1 for 18 from the field, 8 total points, and disastrous defense. This was the Washington Wizards’ third quarter Sunday night against the league-leading Golden State Warriors. Coming in as their third straight loss, the Wizards’ woes show no sign of stopping. Since late January, the Wizards once promising season has taken the darkest of turns. A team that was once 17 games above .500 now finds itself at 40-31 and desperately searching for their identity. In a weak Eastern Conference, this is still good enough for 5th place. However if you’ve watched the Wizards as of late, they’re playing like anything but an above .500 team.

It’s like everything up until the month of February was a complete tease. The perfect nightmare. Seeing everything your team can be and then boom; everything come crashing down. Watching Steph Curry toy with their team twice over the last month, Wizards fans are reminded that their team could have drafted that very player. But no, the team decided to trade that fifth overall pick for Mike Miller and Randy Foye who would both be gone within the next year and a half. The ultimate tease for any sports fan. What could have been. The all too repetitive story of the Washington Wizards organization.

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The issues start at the top. Head coach Randy Wittman and GM Ernie Grunfeld should have been gone before this season. It’s for this reason that I had hoped the Wizards would be swept in the first round by the Chicago Bulls last season. But no. A first round win, and a strong showing against the Indiana Pacers allowed for both Wittman and Grunfeld to stay. Because why? They’re doing their job. You saw the Wiz, they looked great in the playoffs! If the Wizards were swept first round, the necessary changes are made and the Washington hierarchy gets its much-needed makeover. Instead, Wittman and his lack of adjusting, and Grunfeld’s questionable acquisitions, along with his disgusting mustache, get to hang around a little longer.

Wittman refuses to change his style. He’s like the youth league coach who only had one play on his clipboard so he wouldn’t run anything else. As much as Wittman loves the post game, that can’t work with guys like Marcin Gortat and Nene. Posting up is not their game. But hell, you know what Randy, let’s beat that gameplan until its dead. How about excessive dribble handoffs to set up 17ft jumpers? Yeah, he’s got plenty of those too. When your team has potentially one of the best backcourts in the game with John Wall and Bradley Beal, there’s no reason for your offense to look this bad. At some point, good ole Randy’s going to have to change.

Grunfeld’s past moves are now showing their real impact. Short term thoughts become poor long-term realities. These unfortunate realities are now hitting this team all at once. It’s really too bad. This is a team with some great players and a promising lineup that is being brought down by a large combination of the Washington Wizards past errors that have turned to present problems. Who knows what the remainder of the season holds for this puzzling team. Maybe a late push, or maybe they fold. Whatever it may be, the change needs to happen at some point soon. If the Wiz find themselves in a great first round matchup and manage to get by, these changes will remain a far thing of the future and that’s something no Wizards fan wants. When the changes are made, the future becomes bright. But for now, the frustration continues.

If only Gilbert was still around. Agent Zero forever.

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NCAA Tournament Storylines Heading into the Sweet 16

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March Madness started out with a bang Thursday including eleven games finishing with final deficits of single digits and two 3 seeds immediately getting sent home. The round of 32 is concluding as I type this very sentence and is still giving us a reason to watch truTV (If someone can find me an answer as to why games are still broadcasted on that channel that would be greatly appreciated). But come tomorrow morning, everyone will be looking forward to the Sweet 16. There will be plenty of weekend recaps to help you catch up on everything you missed in the first four days of the tourney, but here are some things to keep in mind going forward.

Duke

Duke is good. Like, really good. Everyone always just assumes Duke will make a run in the tournament because, well, they’re Duke and that’s what they do. This assumption is once again correct come 2015, but this team is different. I normally think of Duke as the San Antonio Spurs of college basketball. They’re good no matter what, kind of boring to watch, and not very appealing to the naked eye. This team just seems a little different. Don’t get me wrong, I hate Duke. Can’t stand them. But these guys can play. Freshmen Jahlil Okafor and Tyus Jones are a ton of fun to watch while Quinn Cook brings along the veteran role at shooting guard. Justice Winslow is the energizer bunny for Coach K and is one of the best defenders in the entire country. And he’s only 18. Winning their first two games by a combined 48 points, this team is primed for a deep run. As much as it pains me to say, beware of Coach K and the boys.

Gonzaga (and Kevin Pangos’ hair)

Gonzaga is always the team that comes into the tournament with only three losses, but a weak regular season schedule. Being the victim of many premature upsets, the Zags seem deeper to me than they have been in the past. If this does turn out to be true, they could be quite the threat. Led by Kyle Wiltjer and millionth-year senior Kevin Pangos, Gonzaga is looking to build off of their WCC Championship and break their trend of disappointing tourney runs. Running into Duke in a potential elite eight matchup could create some problems for the Zags, but with Kevin Pangos’ hair, anything is possible. I feel like I’ve been watching this kid play at Gonzaga since I was in kindergarten, but they swear he’s a true senior. Whether you buy that claim or not, his hair has gone through some pretty incredible transformations over the years (which needs its own article in itself) and has definitely hit its peak here in 2015 as he’s pulling off the Marty McFly look to perfection. Plus they have two players named Przemek and Domantas. What’s not to love? Long live Kevin Pangos and the Zags’ tourney run.

kevin-pangos-ncaa Find me better hair in college basketball. You can’t.

Kentucky

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Because Kentucky.

Michigan State

Ranked 18th in the country coming into the season, the Spartans season got off to a rough start. Quickly falling out of the top 25, Tom Izzo’s team struggled to find a consistent formula for success. Since the beginning of March, the Spartans seem like a different team. If anyone can get a team to peak at the right time, its Izzo. Coming in at a very dangerous 7 seed, the green and white beat Georgia and then upset 2 seed Virginia to push through to the sweet 16. Look out for the Spartans as it seems that elusive winning formula has finally found a home in their locker room. Don’t pick against Tom Izzo in March.

West Virginia

Next up for the Mountaineers is the almighty Kentucky Wildcats. They live and die by their smothering defense. As unbeatable as Kentucky seems, don’t assume West Virginia will be an easy W for the tournament favorites. The Wildcats haven’t faced a defense like this all year. I’m not saying WVU will pull off the upset, but I really think the Mountaineers will give Kentucky a run for their money.

I could touch upon every aspect of the tourney going into the sweet 16, but that would turn into a novel. Not many people realize this, but Andy Williams’ famous Christmas tune, “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year”, was actually written about these three weeks of college basketball chaos. Soak it in, it doesn’t get much better than this.

My Final Four: Kentucky, Arizona, Michigan St, and Duke

But still, long live Kevin Pangos

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Chris Borland and the Bigger Issue at Hand

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Yesterday we learned that San Francisco 49ers linebacker Chris Borland will be retiring at the young age of 24. Coming off a strong rookie campaign, this news seemed pretty odd. Why would a player with so much potential end his career like this? One more solid season and he would put himself in line for a contract in the neighborhood of $30 million. That’s a lot of money to turn down. As dumb as this may sound to the average joe, there’s a much bigger issue present here.

Generally when people think about their future, they think about their family, their job, and their health. You want to be able to talk and interact with your family, do the things you love without any issue, and sleep well at night. I would say these are all pretty normal standards that most people would like to have. Well what if all of those were threatened? What if there was a possibility that talking to your family would be a difficult task to complete? Doing the things you love would no longer be an option because of your health. Chances are you’d do a whole lot to try to avoid that terrifying situation. Well Chris Borland is no different.

The question ultimately comes down to quality of life vs millions of dollars. Bashing heads with other humans at a consistent basis definitely falls under the category of occupations that put your quality of life at risk. Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) has been the dark shadow of physical sports for the past decade. It’s the touchy topic that nobody wants to address, but everyone is afraid of. The NHL and NFL have both had their fair share of events with ties to the devastating brain disease. Mike Webster, Dave Duerson, Ray Easterling, and Junior Seau are just a few names that come to mind. All of these NFL players’ deaths were tied to CTE. Bob Probert, Rick Martin, Derek Boogaard, Wade Belak, and Rick Rypien are a handful of NHL players whose deaths have also been ruled as CTE-related. These sports are brutally physical and that won’t change; but the way issues like CTE are addressed and handled need to be adjusted at some point in time.

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The NFL has created strict concussion rules over the last few years to try and help decrease head injuries. This is a good start but still doesn’t do the trick. In the second half of this year’s Super Bowl, New England Patriots’ wide receiver Julian Edelman was sandwiched by two Seattle Seahawk linebackers while running up field. Crawling on all fours after the hit, he slowly gathered himself and, with the help of three teammates, got back onto his feet. Edelman stumbled around for the remainder of the game and required the help of others to get back upright on almost every play. After the game, it was reported that he had passed a concussion test on the sideline and was cleared to play by the team trainer. Unless this test was a coach asking “Julian you good?”, there’s no way in hell that man cleared a league-approved test. Edelman thought he was playing tennis for the last ten minutes of that game and everyone knew it. It’s things like this that lead players like Chris Borland to make the wise decision to call it quits when they start down a dark road.

This offseason has seen a pattern of young players retiring. Borland’s teammate, 30 year old pro bowler Patrick Willis retired in the prime of his career due to fears of serious injuries. Jake Locker (26) and Cortland Finnegan (31) also followed suit. This is a scary pattern for the NFL. Will it become a major trend? Who knows. But what we can hope for is that is will make the NFL and even NHL take a closer look at a seriously terrifying issue they have on their hands. At some point it becomes a question of how much these guys value their lives once their professional careers are over and even how much the leagues value their athletes’ lives. Concussion issues and CTE are two things that can no longer just be viewed at the surface. I commend Chris Borland for taking a stand and doing what he felt was the smart decision. It takes a man to do the logical.

Your move NFL.

My Thoughts on Athlete-Students (NOT Student Athletes)

When it comes to the way the NCAA treats their student-athletes, I cannot put into words the frustration I feel. These so-called “student athletes” are borderline slaves to their universities. I could write a million word rant about this absurd argument filled with angry sentences, bold letters, and maybe even some italics. However, rather than putting you through that, I will leave you with this 20 minute clip from Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. Yes that means 20 minutes away from Netflix, Facebook stalking, and Instagram, but I promise you this is worth the watch.

In Bill You Must Trust

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Since the start of free agency this past Tuesday, the AFC East has quickly become one of the tougher divisions in all of football after being relatively mediocre over the last few seasons. Ndamukong Suh going to Miami, LeSean McCoy to Buffalo, and the return of Darrelle Revis to the Jets all seem to have some New England Patriot fans going into full panic mode. There hasn’t been an AFC East this strong in years and what is the Patriots front office doing about it? Nothing! All the Pats have done so far is let stars Darrelle Revis, Vince Wilfork, Shane Vereen, and Brandon Browner gracefully leave the team. They are doomed. The Pats are ruining their team! “They’d be lucky to be .500”, I heard a family friend say.

New England Patriot fans thinking this way need to listen to the wise words of Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers: “R-E-L-A-X. Relax

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Maybe these fans have just jumped on the bandwagon post-Super Bowl, or maybe they have amnesia. What about when the Patriots cut Lawyer Milloy? Ty Law? Mike Vrabel? Adam Vinatieri? Wes Welker? Asante Samuel? Traded Richard Seymour? The list goes on for days. This is the Belichick system. This is the Patriot way. Cutting Lawyer Milloy on September 2nd, 2003 was the biggest head-scratcher I’ve ever witnessed. He was 29 years old, in the prime of his career, and the center of the Patriots’ defense; but Belichick let him go. What happened after that? The Patriots went on to win the Super Bowl that very season. So what is making these Pats fans doubt their head coach and GM now?

There is no reason for Patriot fans to panic in any way shape or form. Belichick has never made a splash in the first few days of free agency nor in the first round of the NFL Draft. That’s just not his style. And, correct me if I’m wrong, I think he’s done just fine to this point in his coaching career.

Everyone knew coming into this season Belichick wasn’t going to pick up Revis’ $20 million option. Throw the Jets’ lucrative offer into the equation and there’s no way Revis returns to New England. The Jets are now paying a 30-year-old corner $39 million guaranteed. Putting that kind of money towards one player is not the Belichick system. Sure it would have been nice to bring back Browner but I’m not convinced he’s worth the money the Saints will be giving him either. Browner is great with a counterpart like Revis. Before Revis he had Sherman, and before he had Sherman he was a non-factor.

Yes the AFC East is improving. But is Miami giving one player a $114 million dollar contract an improvement? Is the Jets bringing back their former two cornerbacks (who are now three years older) on lucrative front-loaded contracts an improvement? These seem like some pretty questionable front office decisions in my opinion. Of course these teams will be better off this season than they were last; but if I’m a supporter of either squad, I’m a little concerned for five years from now and still concerned about playing Tom Brady.

The Patriots plan long-term more than any other team and always have. If Brady and Bill Belichick are steering the ship, I cannot find a single reason to have any concern. The rest of the AFC East is making springtime front page news and definitely stirring the pot. However I remain pretty convinced that the Pats will be the AFC East team making the front page headlines once again come winter time.

So Patriot fans, sit back and relax. Let the mastermind run his offseason scheme just as he has for the last ten years and everything will be just fine.

New York Jets v New Engalnd Patriots

Bias Post #1: Third Time’s the Charm?

With writing comes bias and with March Madness comes the Big East Tournament. Thursday at 2:30 my Providence Friars will take on the St. John’s Red Storm for the third time this season. Both teams sit at 21-10 on the season and are in good position to make the NCAA Tournament come selection Sunday. If there’s one team the Friars were looking to avoid in tournament play, it was the Red Storm. Serving as Providence’s Achilles heal this season, St. John’s went 2-0 against the Friars this year, winning 83-70 in Rhode Island on January 14th, and then 75-66 at Madison Square Garden three weeks later. Let’s take a look at where each team stands entering crunch time here in March.

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 Providence

Coming off a loss to the #21 Butler Bulldogs and losing their #24 national ranking, PC looks to get back on track on center stage at MSG. A major key for this Friars squad is getting off to a quick start. As of late, they’ve found themselves climbing back into games come the second half because of slow starts. This past week, the Friars had to put on a second half clinic led by Kris Dunn and LaDontae Henton to come back and beat Seton Hall. Outscoring the Pirates 50-29 in the second allowed them to secure the victory but things weren’t so easy against a battle tested Butler team. Seeing second half deficits as large 16 points, the Friars fought back to cut the lead down to just 1 but couldn’t finish the job. If Providence wants to get that elusive win against the Red Storm, they have to come out guns blazing with a ton of energy. Relying on a second half push won’t do the job in the Big East Tournament especially against a St. John’s team already playing on their home court. Kris Dunn needs to continue to play big. He’s been Mr. Reliable as of late for the Friars and they need him to take control of this game from the get-go. LaDontae Henton is the team’s leading scorer and against St. John’s on Thursday, he needs to do just that; score. Coming off just 8 points against Butler, he’ll have to get back to his normal form and provide that scoring punch that Ed Cooley and his Friars need. PC is going to need a solid performance from role players like Tyler Harris, Carson Desrosiers, and freshmen Ben Bentil. If those guys can play big on the glass and tough down low, they’ll put the Friars in a nice position to win.

harison

St. John’s

Led by the scariest man in all of college basketball (D’Angelo Harrison, pictured above), the Red Storm come into the Big East Tournament following a loss to the all-powerful Villanova Wildcats. Before that loss however, St. John’s had rattled off four straight wins in convincing fashion. Being completely healthy for the first time since the beginning of the season, the Red Storm represent a dangerous dark horse for the rest of the Big East. Beating a team three times in one season is a tough thing to do however. Staying out of foul trouble is of extreme importance for Steve Lavin and his squad. The Red Storm play a solid six players and that’s about it. Depth is not their strong suit. If this team gets hot and goes on a run though look out; they’re tough to slow down. You can count on Harrison to get his share of points, but the Red Storm will look at Rysheed Jordan, Sir’Dominic Pointer, and Phil Greene to contribute in a consistent way Thursday. If St. John’s can get all around production from their lineup, they’ll be a difficult team for anyone to beat.

For outsiders, this is a great matchup early on in the Big East Tournament. For St. John’s and Friar fans alike however, this is one that’ll give you stomach cramps. Beating a team three times in one season is quite the difficult feat, while on the other hand the Red Storm seem to be unbeatable from a Friar’s standpoint. Look for PC to try to get St. John’s into early foul trouble and make them test their questionable depth. St. John’s will try come out firing and looking to run against this all to familiar Providence lineup. This will be a great test for both teams entering tournament play. If you tune in to watch this game you won’t be disappointed.

P.S.     I’ll take the Cooley-Dunn combo and bet the house. Go Friars