Monday Finals

Well it’s Monday and that means getting ready for the final and the stage is set for a great one. You have 2 teams that seem to have a destiny in winning the National Championship. My day started by reading all the coaches and players comments. Lots of reading but, tons of fun getting their perspective. Today I am writing newspaper bullets or notes for EL VOCERO in Puerto Rico for everyone to keep up with the atmosphere. I will be a guest on a radio sports talk show later today and I am really looking forward to letting everyone know what it is like here in Dallas.

I want to get to the stadium early so I can get into the interview rooms and look for opportunities to talk with people. Big buzz today is Rex Chapman a radio announcer and former Kentucky player twitted that Cal was going to the Lakers win or lose tonight. Sounds like Cal hyping his pay check.

Everyone here is expecting a great game tonight and Jim Calhoun the former UConn coach is everywhere. Maybe he is looking for a job… just kidding all the players are his recruits.

Game time and lots of celebrities around, Ray Allen, Caron Butler, former President Clinton and Bush which brings excitement to the building. The game was a good one. It began close but UConn went on a run and with 6 minutes to go in the half they got a 30-15 lead. Coach Calipari went into a Zone and brought it down to four as the half ended.

In the second half Kentucky drew first blood by scoring a three to bring the score within one 35-34. UConn went on another run Napier hits a jumper with 11:01 to go and puts the Huskies by 9 48-39. Kentucky down the stretch came within two points with 6:36 in the game but that is as close as they would get. The Final: UConn 60 Kentucky 54.

After the game, went down to the press conferences and here are a couple of interesting post game comments. Coach Cal denied reports that he is going to the Lakers and was real —-off over a question about the similarities between the 2008 Memphis team and what happened to Kentucky at the line. He refused to answer and that’s not like Cal.

The place was crazy between fans, former players and the Secret Service it’s hard to move around. Got some good interviews. Hey what do you think about Napier’s comments after the game when he took the mic from Jim Nantz and called the team the Hungry Huskies and told the NCAA that’s what happens when they got banned for a year.

Overall great Final Four for basketball fans. Other than the distance to the venue, the rain, the cold the games were great like always the Final 4 is special. If you are interested I will share with you the post-game interviews some are really interesting and tells a lot about the coach and his team.

See you at school…

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Sunday Fun Sunday

Sunday Fun Sunday.

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Sunday Fun Sunday

NCAA Men's Final Four - PreviewsSunday woke up to a dark room with no lights! Called front desk and they confirmed the hotel was without power. Apparently lightning hit a generator and knocked the power out for the day. I thought that only happened in the Third World countries. Took a shower in the dark and went down to read the papers and finish the blog. We found the closest church and drove to Holy Trinity Catholic Church.
Headed to the AT&T center to listen to press conferences from both teams. Sometimes I wonder where the media come up with the questions. The media is really trying to make a story about a rivalry between Coach Cal when he was at UMass and former Conn coach Calhoun. Of course both are denying they are both sharing the love.
Coach Cal is still the best marketer for his team. He was taking about going to bed at 1:30am and laying in bed thinking about all the love he has for his players so he got out of bed at started watching film so they would be ready for the final game. REALLY???!!! Cal! Good interviews with players and everyone is just working off the energy of being the last 2 teams after 68 began 3 weeks ago.
snuDecided to go to a place Joe (Hillenbrand) had recommended before I left, Snuffers. Ordered the cheese fries (or a heart attack) the plate was big and full of bacon, cheese, jalapenos and other unidentifiable stuff. After digging in I ordered a guacamole burger (now you know why stomach is large) great food while I watched the Rangers play Tampa and the end of the Knicks-Heat game on the other screen.
It rained and rained all day and the temperature was below 50. Definitively not Puerto Rican weather and come on!… is April! So, our plans to go and see Fun and Bruce Springsteen in concert got literally washout. At least did some reading for my radio interview tomorrow (Monday) at 9:30 am on a radio station in Puerto Rico. I am so pump!

 

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@ The Final Four

ImageIts basketball time in Dallas. Of all the final 4’s I have attended this one is more spread out. The AT&T arena is in Arlington which is about 30 minutes from downtown Dallas and really kind of isolated from everything Final 4sh. The AT&T or Jerry Jones Palace is huge with seating of over 75000 for this event.In fact this is the largest attendance for a Final 4 EVER. Let me tell you the large screen(larger than a 727 plane) is beyond belief but its good because you can see everything in fact you spend more time looking at the screen rather than the floor. Lots of celebrities around it’s a haven for basketball crazy people. So far I am not surprised the amount of CATS fans they look to have the most around here followed by Gators and Badgers. The UConn fans are spread out but seem to have the best tail gates. Woke up early had a nice breakfast took the shuttle bus to the stadium and got my press pass. I Walked around the area trying to get the feeling of the event. Like said earlier everything is so spread-out… Could not believe “Event Parking” was as high as $75 and I complain paying $10 at a Grizzlies game.

Well time to get into the game WOW! What a stadium if there is a zombie apocalypse or atomic disaster, I would try to make it to this stadium. Working on a possible interview with Shabazz Napier and Orlando Antigua the now Head coach of the University of South Florida. In the first game Florida and UConnn Battled for 40 minutes. Florida dominated most of the first half building a 12 point lead with 9:48 left. From there on the Huskies went on a 17-6 run and take the lead with 3:18 to go and end the half with a 25-22 lead. The second half was dominated by the Huskies who never relinquish the lead, the closest Florida came was three points. When Casey Prather converts a three point play with 9:12 to go and puts the score 41-38 UConn and at 43-40 with 8:03 after Patrick Young got two free throws. UConn built a 12 point lead and then won 63-53.Image

Then, the matchup between Wisconsin and Kentucky started. James Young draws first blood with a 3 and gives Kentucky a 3-0 lead. The Badgers tie the score at 5 at the 17:18 mark then again at the 15:37 with two free throws from Sam Dekker. From there on Wisconsin took the lead which got to nine points with 4:13 left, Kentucky manages to cut it to five and the half ends with a 40-36 lead Badgers lead

The second half was a thriller in a game that saw six ties and six lead changes. After a Sam Dekker 3-pointer, The Wildcats went on a 15-0 run and took a 51-43 lead with 15:33 to go. The Badgers retaliated and got a run of their own scoring ten while holding Kentucky to two and tied it at 53 with 12:05 to go. Wisconsin took a 56-55 lead at 11:52 and kept it until Kentucky takes the lead 71-69 with 2:16 left in the game. Frank Kaminsky’s lay-up with 1:15 left ties it at 71. After a missed shot by Kentucky and with 16 seconds remaining Traevon Jackson is fouled by Andrew Harrison beyond the arc and misses the first free throw of the night by the Badgers(who ended 19-20 from the foul line) he connects on the next two to give Wisconsin a 73-71 lead.

Kentucky brings the ball down and after a couple of looks inside the ball lands on Aaron Harrison who makes an NBA three from downtown and give the Wildcats a 74-73 lead as Wisconsin calls a timeout with five seconds left in the ballgame. After a Badger timeout and a failed 17 footer by Jackson as time expires Kentucky punches their ticket to the Finals with a 74-73 win.Image

What’s really great is the post game conference with coaches and players. After each game the coaches lead off the interview with game comments and then its open to the media. Most coaches talk about the feel of the game and their decisions on players and plays. Well Coach Cal had the best line “Another good game” and then told the moderator to move on. Everyone in the room laughed out loud. It’s great fun and I will share the high lights when I get back.

 

 

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Final Four Preview

final fourThe “Final Four” is the term used to refer to the semifinals and final games of the Division I NCAA male basketball tournament.  The tournament starts with 68 of the “best Division I universities”, which are determined by winning their respective conference championships; and other teams are invited by a selection Committee. Keep in mind that nearly 300 universities compete in division one. This year the connoisseurs of the sport chose the 68 teams and seeded them. The number one seeds were: Florida, Arizona, Virginia and Wichita State of these, only the Florida Gators advance to the Final Four.

The four surviving teams with a ticket to Dallas are: Florida (1) and Kentucky (8), from the SEC (Southeastern Conference, UConn (7) of the AAC (American Athletic Conference) and Wisconsin (2) of the Big Ten Conference. When this all started,  gamblers in Vegas had Florida to win with a 9 to 2 odds, Wisconsin 20-1 and Kentucky 40 to 1. God Knows what bets where for UConn winning it all! Basketball-Clip-Art-Free (1)

Here is our thinking about the four:

Connecticut could not play in the post season in the NCAA last year. The Huskies won the national title in 2011. Coach Jim Calhoun and the stellar play of Kemba Walker led them to the Championship.  Calhoun retired in 2012 and to add salt to the wound, UConn was banned from participating in the NCAA tournament  for failing to meet NCAA academic progress measures. So, this may be an important motivation factor for the Huskies. Shabbaz Napier has been playing with a chip on his shoulder and averaging over 23 points per game.

The Florida Gators and Billy Donovan won a pair of national titles in 2006 and 2007 with Joakim Noah, Corey Brewer and Al Horford (all three first round picks of the NBA draft in 2007). Now the team from Florida is the only seeded number one coming to the Final Four this year. The Gators are led by Scottie Wilbekin. While Napier has produced better, Wilbekin’s 19.0 points per game and zero turnovers in the last two games is impressive and should be a great matchup of elite guards.

The Wisconsin Badgers, after a super emotional 64-63 victory over Arizona, seeded number one in the West Regional. The pass to the Final Four marks the 13th consecutive time that Bo Ryan has guided Wisconsin to the big dance. However, Ryan has not known what a trip to the national semifinals is. Now thanks in huge part to Frank Kaminsky, their seven-foot Center, Ryan may participate in the Final Four and not watch it from home as in previous years. The Badgers are a talented and well-coached and having NBA draft prospect Sam Dekker also helps.

The Kentucky Wildcats complete the foursome and seem to be the scariest of all; Kentucky allegedly did not have any opportunity to get to North Texas after a bad start. Although, ranked #1 at beginning of year were not playing well until March arrived and Boom! Calipari’s “kids” broke loose playing high-performance basketball. Its entire starting five are first-round NBA prospects and the three first subs could easily go on the 2014 draft. Despite the immense talent, they lost 10 games before the NCAA tournament.

So friends, set your televisions on Saturday at 5 pm where you will experience the battle between Florida and Connecticut, followed by the scuffle between the Wisconsin Badgers and the Kentucky Wildcats. The winners will be dignified to play Monday, April 7 in the final National Championship and the end of MARCH MADNESS.

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Road to the Final Four

final four (1)The NCAA Basketball men’s Championship  Division I started. This tournament is the single elimination college basketball tournament, involving 68 University teams, informally known as “March Madness” or the “Big Dance”; the national semifinals and the final is called the Final Four. The process of qualifying for the NCAA tournament consists of tournaments of each Conference every champion of the 31 conferences receiving an automatic pass to the final tournament. The remaining teams are “invited” by the NCAA selection Committee. Now of the 68 invitees according to the business insider, the 10 teams most likely to win the tournament are:

1. Louisville Cardinals- (29-5)

2. Florida Gators- (32-2)

3. Arizona Wild Cats- (30-4)

4. Kansas Jayhawks- (24-9)

5. Virginia Cavaliers- (28-6)

6. Michigan State- (26-8)

7. Duke Blue Devils- (26-8)

8. Wichita State- (34-0)

9. Villanova Wildcats- (28-4)

10 Creighton Bluejays-(26-7)

My insiders in Vegas who tend to do quite well in the tournaments with their, this is what they say, “Florida will win”. I do not agree with that. Now, here are the odds of winning according to Vegas:

1.Florida               (9-2)
2.Michigan State (5-1)
3.Arizona             (7-1)
4.Louisville          (7-1)
5.Kansas              (10-1)
6.Duke                  (15-1)
7.Wichita State     (15-1)
8.Syracuse          (15-1)
9.Virginia             (18-1)
10.Wisconsin      (20-1)
11.Michigan        (25-1)
12.Villanova        (25-1)
13.Creighton      (25-1)
14.Iowa State     (35-1)
15.UCLA               (35-1)
16. Kentucky      (40-1)

Now the third round of the tournament will be played in Memphis where the top four seeded teams are Florida, Kansas, Syracuse and UCLA all with real possibilities of getting the title.  Here I give our predictions for what should happen this week and next:

1) Florida (32-2)
(16) Alb/Msm
Florida Florida Florida Syracuse
(8) Colorado (23-11)
(9) Pittsburgh (25-9)
Pittsburgh
(5) VCU (26-8)
(12) SF Austin (31-2)
VCU UCLA
(4) UCLA (26-8)
(13) Tulsa (21-12)
UCLA
(6) Ohio St (25-9)
(11) Dayton (23-10)
Ohio St Syracuse Syracuse
(3) Syracuse (27-5)
(14) W Michigan (23-9)
Syracuse
(7) New Mexico (27-6)
(10) Stanford (21-12)
Stanford Kansas
(2) Kansas (24-9)
(15) E Kentucky (24-9)
Kansas

Who arrives to Memphis? Well, Florida, Pittsburgh, VCU, UCLA, Ohio St, Syracuse, Stanford and Kansas as you can see in the table. I see Florida beating Pittsburgh, UCLA to VCU, Syracuse to Ohio St. and Kansas beating Stanford. We believe that the four finalists will be Syracuse, Louisville, Creighton, and Michigan St. These in our opinion, are the teams which will be fighting for the National title the weekend of April 5-7. We’ll see…

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NBA Predictions

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Well high school football is over for the Purple Wave. Basketball will dominate the table conversations and the classroom chat between students. “Who you are starting for your fantasy team,”  “did you see the game last night it was amazing…” or, we played great yesterday and Brodé scored 20 and things like “did you see Shunterio’s dunk?!” Well let’s not get carried away.

 The NBA Basketball Season has started and has more than 10 games completed.  In the past, I used to study all of the teams and then write about my predictions for the upcoming year or the playoffs. Now with a wife and kids, a full time job, and extracurricular activities; I do not have the time. Instead, I went to my magic mirror and asked him for some advice in the event that I might have to write something. Here is the transcript of our conversation…

Ohh… Mirror, mirror on the wall, Who will be the champion in 2014?  The Miami Heat will become the fourth franchise to win three consecutive championships. 

Wow! Well, now who will be the MVP? As you know LeBron James could be the MVP every year, but not his fifth win this season.  Kevin Durant or Chris Paul will be the most valuable.  Interesting… can you give me the top six in both divisions?  OK,  but the order can change: the Grizzlies, Mavs, Thunder, the Rockets, the Warriors and Clippers, will be the first six in the West.  The six seeded in the East will be: the Heat, the Bulls, the Pacers, the Nets, Hawks and Knicks.

MMMM how about… any coach on the hot seat? Ha , ha … (LOL) good question! I only see… Mike D’Antoni he does not survive the campaign with the Lakers.  Any player?  At least two of these players packed their bags: Rudy Gay, Rajon Rondo, Pau Gasol, Steve Nash, Kyle Lowry, Danny Granger or Omer Asik.

Well the last question… it was time!  Who will have the first pick in the Draft?  This is difficult one… but I’ll give you four possibilities… These are… Magic, Suns, Jazz and Bobcats. Again Magic Mirror thanks for your help this week, maybe I can use it for my article in the Spanish Newspaper! Your welcome  Juanma always a pleasure.

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