Sunday, April 29, 2007

King of the Sports Mountain

It may be wrought with off the field problems and be struggling to improve its public perception, but football is still the most popular sport in America. And it is not even close.

We already know the Super Bowl is the single biggest sporting event of the year, in revenue, ratings, and hype. Well, the NFL Draft is in the discussion as the second biggest sports event. Forget trying to compare it with the other league's drafts, the event, held at Radio City this year, sells more tickets than some baseball or basketball games, has better TV ratings than some games, and certainly garners more coverage and hype than most events in the other major sports.

The popularity of this event, with about twenty hours of live TV coverage from two networks, is remarkable given its not even a game. Fans wait in the streets to try to get inside, while thousands attend draft parties that each team holds.

As if we needed more proof, the NFL is an absolute money making machine. The draft shows how much more popular pro football is than every other sport in this country. Though, as a baseball junkie, I do not know if I could sit through sixty rounds of amateur draft coverage. That would be enough Chris Berman to last a lifetime.

Monday, April 02, 2007

All Hype, No Substance

The match-ups had all the makings of some heavyweight bouts. But in the end they were not much more interesting than last year's Final Four.

While not quite last year's final, Florida was never threatened in this game. Now, I was big on the Pac-10 this year, but how was UCLA a Top 5 team all season with that offense. Indiana game aside, once Afflalo went to the bench they looked more like an intramural team. No flow on offense, no player to step up and take over, no chance. Grant in Shipp had some moments and helped keep them close, but as good as their team defense was all year was as bad as their team offense looked. And if the team needed Afflalo that bad, which they did, how did Ben Howland let him get 3 fouls before the first TV timeout? I can continue with my criticism of Mbah A Moute, but its not worth it since Florida is just a much better team. We all know about Horford and Noah, they get the most publicity and national recognition on what is a very balanced team. But to me the best player on the court is Corey Brewer. He's the perfect size, a silky 6'9 who can defend guards and forwards, shoot it from 3 or take it to the rack, and pass it. He was the best player on the court Saturday, and in my opinion he will be the most valuable player if Florida wins and he may turn out to be the best pro of the group. A few other reasons Florida reminded us they are the best team this year, Lee Humphrey and Chris Richard. Two players that get almost no noteriety, but have the ability to influence a game.

On the other end of the spectrum, the Georgetown-OSU game was marred by foul trouble. Oden and Hibbert. When those two are both out of the game, the game becomes more guard-oriented and up-tempo--Advantage Ohio State. Every time Hibbert left the floor the Buckeyes almost immediately went on a 6-0 run. Credit Georgetown for weathering these storms and staying in the game. But again, just like UCLA leaning on Afflalo, the Hoyas needed Jeff Green. He was the conference player of the year, but for most of the game he resembled a defense-minded player looking to hide on the offensive side of the court. Now I can't stand Billy Packer, like most other NCAA viewers and all the people he criticizes, but he was absolutely right in calling out Green the entire game. Forget the playbook, the star needs to get the ball and create baskets when they team needs him. This showed he is not ready for the NBA. As for OSU, Mike Connoly was the difference maker playing one of those proverbial almost perfect games; 1 turnover, pile of assists and points. Oden was solid in the second half, and they basically outlasted Georgetown. Definitely not the entertaining, crisply played game one would expect from two national semi-finalists.

Quick look ahead to Monday, Florida is going to be tough to beat. The Billy Donovan to Kentucky stuff will have no impact on this game. I just have a hard time seeing Oden be able to hang in for 40 minutes with Noah, Horford, and Richard. Three guys, with lots of energy, and fouls to give, will wear down Oden.