Friday, April 29, 2011

NFL Draft Has Some Surprises: Nick Fairley to the Detroit Lions

Definitely some surprises in the 1st round of the NFL Draft.

How strong will the Detroit Lions be next year? Even stronger than the vastly improving team that won their last 4 games last year? Definitely!

As we read at Bleacher Report: Nick Fairley went to the Lions in the 1st round of the 2011 NFL Draft. Who can believe it. Fairley may have some issues, but he has the same kind of player dominance as Suh, a rare quality.
And what luck will offensive lines have against a Suh and Fairley combination? You can't double-team everyone.

Evan Adrian writes:
"Well, this just doesn't seem fair to me. Nick Fairley and Ndamukong Suh on the same defensive line? Good luck running against the Lions for the next 10 years."
Auburn QB Cam Newton -- who predicted change for the Panthers "from worst to first" -- was the Nr. 1 pick overall, going to Carolina, and that was to be expected, but not 4 QBs under the first 12 players chosen. Maybe this year's quarterback class was better than what the mock drafts predicted and the pundits had analyzed.

Another shocker: the Atlanta Falcons traded away five picks to get Julio Jones of Alabama, which seems like utter madness, but only the future can tell.

Danny Woodhead Revisited at the New England Patriots

In 2006 we posted glowingly about Chadron State's Danny Woodhead at SportPundit.

As you can read at Wikipedia, Woodhead was not drafted into the pros but he has made into the NFL anyway.

He currently has a contract with the New England Patriots until 2012 and last year in 3 starts in 14 games "had 97 carries for 547 yards (5.6 yard average), and five rushing touchdowns" ... and ... "caught 34 passes for 379 yards and one receiving touchdown".

That's quite a story for the former Division II player who stands only 5 feet 8 inches tall and weighs in at under 200 pounds.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Brain Bowl in College Football: Stanford to Play Northwestern

Ted Miller at the Pac-12 Blog at Bleacher Report writes about college football that Stanford Adds Big Ten Foe to Schedule calling it the "Brain Bowl" between two "premier academic institutions playing football in automatic qualifying conferences".

Friday, April 08, 2011

McIlroy, Quiros Lead 2011 Masters after Round 1 with -7: Tiger Woods Stats Down Across the Board

I haven't played a round yet this year and here we are already, at the 2011 Masters Tournament where Rory McIlroy and Alvaro Quiros are tied after the first round of play at seven under par each.

The Daily News ran article titled The Masters: Tiger Woods optimistic after rescuing 1st round at Augusta, now he needs putts to fall.

I am not in the crowd of people who think Tiger Woods may win this tournament.

Tiger's top form has not (yet) returned and several major statistics are down significantly, especially birdie average and greens in regulation.

Using stats available at the official pages, I have compiled the following lists, which show a clear drop in driving distance, less accuracy on approaches and marginally diminished putting success:

Tiger Woods -- Season Averages
Driving Distance in Yards and Distance to Hole After the Drive (stats only starting 2008)
(the distance to the hole after the drive makes a big difference since the closer the player is to the hole the closer his approach on average is to the hole on the green, as the stats at Tiger's home pages show)

1997 294.8 yards per drive
1998 296.3
1999 293.1
2000 298.0
2001 297.6
2002 293.3
2003 299.5
2004 301.9
2005 316.1
2006 306.4
2007 302.4
2008 294.3 -- 175.1 yards from the hole
2009 298.4 -- 173.8
2010 295.8 -- 177.3
2011 289.6 -- 183.9

This year Tiger's approaches to the green from all distances in 2011 are something like 4 feet on average further from the pin than in 2010. This has an effect on greens in regulation and birdie average as well.

Tiger Woods -- Season Averages
Birdie Average and Greens in Regulation (GIR)

1997 4.25 birdies per round -- 70.35% GIR (won the Masters)
1998 3.85 -- 67.55%
1999 4.46 -- 75.7% (won PGA Championship)
2000 4.92 -- 75.15% (won U.S. Open, British Open, PGA Championship, then the Masters in 2001)
2001 4.30 -- 76.92% (won the Masters)
2002 4.47 -- 73.96% (won the Masters, U.S. Open)
2003 4.26 -- 68.63%
2004 4.38 -- 66.90%
2005 4.57 -- 69.89% (won the Masters, British Open)
2006 4.65 -- 74.15% (won British Open, PGA Championship)
2007 4.03 -- 71.02% (won PGA Championship)
2008 4.10 -- 71.39% (won U.S. Open)
2009 4.15 -- 68.46%
2010 3.78 -- 64.07%
2011 3.50 -- 67-59%

Tiger Woods -- Season Averages
Putting Average (Putts per Hole)

1997 1.776 putts per hole
1998 1.805
1999 1.761
2000 1.717
2001 1.775
2002 1.766
2003 1.732
2004 1.724
2005 1.731
2006 1.756
2007 1.733
2008 1.735
2009 1.743
2010 1.751
2011 1.788

I have no idea what aspects of his game he is currently training most, but I worry that the top statistic on his list is "3-Putt Avoidance", which is a defensive attitude toward putting not conducive to winning tournaments where you have to make birdies. When you are lipping a lot of putts like Tiger is, you are playing it too safe. In his best seasons, Tiger had his worst 3-putt avoidance stats. He was going for the win. To be a champion, you can not play not to lose, you have to play to win, ONLY.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Oregon Wins College Basketball Invitational (CBI) Tournament Championship by beating Creighton 71-69 in 3rd game of 2 of 3 Final

Few basketball fans paid attention as the Oregon Ducks beat the Creighton Bluejays 71-69 to take the 2011 CBI College Basketball Invitational Tournament Championship in the 3rd game of a 2 out of 3 series in which the Bluejays won the first game in Omaha, Nebraska but the Ducks took the subsequent two games in Eugene, Oregon.

Last year VCU won the championship and look where they are this year: Final Four of the NCAA Division I Tournament. It pays to stay up-to-date with all of these additional college basketball tournaments.

Friday, April 01, 2011

Wichita State Shockers Win NIT Basketball Tournament 2011 with a 66-57 Win Over the Alabama Crimson Tide

Would the eventual NCAA champion be favored by much over Wichita State in an NCAA-NIT champions playoff? Not much. Alabama lost by 72-58 to Kentucky in the SEC conference tournament semifanls and 66-57 to Wichita State in the NIT final.

The Shockers have gotten better every game and again put on an impressive performance in beating Alabama, shooting 50% from the field, converting nearly 80% of their free throws, and putting up 15 assists to 7 for Alabama.

As Avinash Kunnath writes at "The Shockers didn't have a single player score more than 12 points, but all of the members of their ten man rotation scored. Teamwork."

Only 18 turnovers by Wichita State against the nation's 8th best defense -- Alabama was in the final because it too has strengths -- kept the game close.

For stories, see:

Wichita State Shockers win NIT Championship with 66-57 win over Alabama at Madison Square Garden - Sean Brennan, New York Daily News, adds an interesting "twist" to the story:
"Wichita State came into the tournament with a chip on its shoulder after being overlooked by the NCAA Selection Committee and their rallying song became Twisted Sister's "We're Not Going to Take It." The Shockers band wasted no time in striking up the song just after time expired last night and all of Shocker Nation joined in - loudly."
Wichita State Wins N.I.T. And Hopes Best Is Ahead, as Mike Ogle writes at the New York Times:
"Half the teams that played in the last four N.I.T. championship games have since earned an N.C.A.A. seeding of No. 3 or higher. Five of the top eight seeded teams in this year’s N.C.A.A. tournament (No. 1 Ohio State and the No. 2’s Florida, Notre Dame, San Diego State and North Carolina) advanced to the N.I.T. semifinals in the past three seasons. "
Wichita State wins the NIT, and much more - ESPN Colleges Blog, Kieran Darcy

Wichita State defeats Alabama in NIT championship - Paul Suellentrop, Wichita Eagle

Wichita State beats Alabama 66-57 for NIT title - College Basketball -

2011 NIT Tournament Results: Wichita State Beats Alabama, Captures The Championship - Avinash Kunnath

Madison Square Garden in New York City pulled only 4,873 spectators for the final, whereas the Shockers almost always fill their own Charles Koch Arena with 10,000+ rabid fans and Alabama also averages more than 10,000 spectators at home at Coleman Coliseum. New York City hotels are probably simply too expensive for a lot of basketball fans. Of course, the major sports networks contribute to a lack of public interest in the NIT by not covering the tournament properly. New Yorkers are great sports fans but there is so much to do in the Big Apple in terms of entertainment on any given night that you have to have some competent marketing behind you to make sure you fill all the seats.

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