Archive for January, 2008

If I Were Hornets GM
January 31, 2008

Are the Hornets one of the best teams in the NBA?
Absolutely!
Can (and will) they make a run deep into the western conference playoffs?
I think so.
Can this team improve?
You bet!
If I ran the show, if I were Hornets General Manager, here’s how I’d improve the team.
I’d make a blockbuster deal.
A deal like the kind I’m about the detail would not only help the club on the court but also at the box office.

HORNETS TRADE #1:
Hornets trade Hilton Armstrong, Julian Wright, 2008 1st round draft pick and the expiring contract of former Hornet Arvydas Macjauskas to the Sacramento Kings.

Hornets receive Kings forward Ron Artest.

Why the deal works: The Kings get young players with potential who have manageable contracts. The Kings also get another draft pick and 2.5 million in cap relief once Macjauskas’ contract expires at the end of the year.

For the Hornets it gives the team an all star player capable of scoring 20 a night and playing lights out defense. A guy who could ease the burden on the fragile Peja Stojakovic and a marketable player that fans would come to see.
Sure, Artest is a flake and a guy who’s completely unpredictable, but getting the chance to play with a respected coach and all star players on a winning team should keep him quite and in line.

(Side Bar: The Hornets reached a buy out with Arvydas Macjauskas nearly 2 years ago but as far as I know the final year of his contract (2007-2008) is still on the books and a tradeable commodity).

HORNETS TRADE #2:

Hornets trade Hilton Armstrong, Julian Wright, 2008 2nd round draft pick and the expiring contract of former Hornet Arvydas Macjauskas to the Miami Heat.

Hornets receive Heat guard/forward Ricky Davis


Why the deal works:
Like deal #1 Miami gets young players to help build for the future. They also get cap relief at the end of the season.
For the Hornets they get a former Hornet (from Charlotte) who can sometimes be very very selfish but who can score from anywhere on the floor. Like Artest Davis may shape up because of the coach, players around him the fact that the Hornets could make a deep run with him.

HORNETS DEAL #3:

Re-sign Chris Andersen. Andersen was a popular fan favorite with the Hornets. Andersen was well respected by coaches and teammates and he fits the style of play the Hornets use. As a player Andersen is probably best described as “Tyson Chandler-lite”…..and I mean that in a good way. He could spell Chandler and the team would not have to change the way they play.
So bring the Birdman back!

Other names for Hornets fans to pay attention too as the trade deadline approaches:

Charlotte Bobcats Forward Matt Carroll

Orlando Magic Guard J.J. Reddick

Philadelphia 76er’s Guard/Forward Gordon Giricek

*One guy I would love to see the Hornets acquire would be Toronto Raptors forward Carlos Delfino. A great 6th man who’s scoring 9 points a night. But I can’t imagine the playoff bound Toronto Raptors ever giving up such a commodity no matter what the Hornets offered.

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A Language Lesson
January 29, 2008

I ran this comparsion during our 10 pm news last night and the response has been good.

Look, I’m a born and raised New Orleanian and I know football is king in the deep south but I hope fans start realizing that our NBA team is something special.

For all the fans that need it broken down for them…here’s how to look at the Hornets…in a language all sports fans in New Orleans understand.

That language would be called ‘hut hut.’

Chris Paul=Drew Brees

The MVP candidate. The passionate field general that all great teams need to lead them into battle.

Tyson Chandler=Scott Fujita

The emerging star that took a few years to develop

David West=Marques Colston

The quite performer. A guy who doesn’t say much, who just lets his amazing play speak for itself.

Peja Stojakovic=Deuce McAllister

The solid veteran who’s a little brokwn down but who’s still got a lot left in the tank.

Now that the Hornets have been translated to all of the sports fans out there, in a language you all understand…PLEASE GO SUPPORT ONE OF THE BEST TEAMS IN ALL OF SPORTS!

Saints Lose Coaches To Miami Dolphins
January 26, 2008

FINS CHASING A COUPLE OF SAINTS

From http://www.profootballtalk.com/

Though the Cowboys have been the primary focus of the Dolphins’ efforts to rebuild the front office and coaching staff, the Fins are now turning their attention to New Orleans.
For starters, the Fins have hired Saints special teams coordinator John Bonamego, a nine-year NFL coaching veteran who worked with new head coach Tony Sparano in Jacksonville before stints in Green Bay and New Orleans. If, as we assume, Bonamego signed a contract with a duration longer than two years when joining the team in 2006, the Saints apparently didn’t feel strongly enough about keeping Bonamego to block the move.
John Bonamego
New Dolphins Asst. Coach
Next on the Fins’ wish list is Saints quarterbacks coach Pete Carmichael, Jr., who spent time with the Browns, Redskins, and Chargers before joining Sean Payton’s staff in 2006. Carmichael, 36, has been Drew Brees’ position coach for his entire career as an NFL starting quarterback. Even though the move is a promotion, the Saints could prevent Carmichael from leaving if, as we assume, Carmichael signed a contract with a duration longer than two years when joining the team in 2006.
Since neither Bonamego nor Carmichael were fired by the Saints after the 2007 season, we can only assume that head coach Sean Payton would have liked to keep them both. And that makes us wonder whether Payton deferred to Fins V.P. of football operations Bill Parcells on this one, since it was Payton’s work under Parcells in Dallas that gave Payton a shot at becoming an NFL head coach.
Alternatively, it’s possible that Payton’s approach to his assistants is that he wants them to want to be part of the team, and that if they don’t want to be there Payton doesn’t want to force them to stay. If that’s the case, however, there’s no benefit to the team for having assistant coaches under contract for more than one year at a time.

2008 WDSU Saints Mock Draft
January 26, 2008

2008 WDSU SAINTS MOCK DRAFT

(published; Friday 1-25-07)

Saints 1st Round: (10th Overall): Kenny Phillips, FS, University of Miami (6’2, 210)
Why: Josh Bullocks should not be starting in the NFL! Plus, the Saints have shown that in years past they’re going to take best available. If Phillips is still on the board at #10 he’s without question the best available. A guy that can come in right away and play centerfield for a defense. Reportedly Phillips is cut from the same mold as Ed Reed and Sean Taylor. Sure, good linebackers (like Keith Rivers of USC and Penn States Dan Conner) and D-linemen could still be on the board at this point of the draft, but this guy will be the best available at his position at #10 and a guy the Saints could use immediately.

Saints 2nd Round: Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, CB, Tennessee State University (6’2, 180)
Why: Because I thought he was the best cornerback at the Senior Bowl! He also played safety in some of the practices I saw but he looks fast enough to remain at corner. This guy just glides along, long and lean he seems capable of being a good NFL player. Also, not that this means much, but the Saints have had a nice run finding guys in smaller schools that come into the NFL and play big (Marques Colston, Jhari Evans, Usama Young). The only problem with this pick? Rodgers-Cromartie may be off the board by the time the Saints pick in round two!

(Editors note): I think the Saints can’t go wrong by selecting 2 players in the defensive secondary with their first two picks. Without question, the achilles heel of the defense last year was the secondary. Jason David is garbage, Mike McKenzie might not play in ‘08 after tearing his ACL in week 15 and Jason Craft is not the answer. Roman Harper & Usama Young have some potential. Why not start stockpiling and building up the weakest part of the club???

Saints 3rd Round: Brad Cottam, TE, University of Tennessee (6’7, 270)
Why: Because Sean Payton has been searching for a starting tight end since he arrived. Ernie Conwell was always hurt in ‘06. Eric Johnson was brought in to start in ‘07 but had a bum year and may or may not be resigned. Guys like Mark Campbell and Billy Miller are solid back-ups and great locker room guys but I’m not sure if they’re every game starters. Cottam is huge and seemed to impress coaches and scouts at the Senior Bowl. Like my second round selection, Cottam is another guy who might not last this long.

Saints 4th Round: Jeremy Leman, LB, University of Illinois (6’3, 240)
Why: A true middle linebacker who could perhaps replace Mark Simoueau (if Simoneau is even resigned). Leman was the heart and soul of a resurgent Illinois team that made it all the way to the Rose Bowl last season. A solid player and person who graduated from college in 3 years and who would probably fit in nicely into the Saints locker room.

Saints 5th Round: Jonathan Zenon, CB, LSU (6′, 175)
Why: Because when your roster is filled with guys named David, Craft and McKenzie you need all the help you can get at this position. Zenon may not be as physical as the Saints would like him to be but he made big plays at LSU against the top rated passers in the country.

Saints 6th Round: Ben Moffitt, LB, University of South Florida (6’2, 235)
Why: A possible steal in the late rounds. Moffitt was the over achieving team captain of the South Florida Bulls last season. Is he big enough to play in the middle, will he make a good pro? I wouldn’t bet against the guy. If nothing else he’d provide depth at a thin position and perhaps be a solid player on special teams.

Saints 7th Round: Jason Rivers, WR, University of Hawaii ( 6’2, 195)
Why: The top receiver in a prolific college offense. Rivers has good size but doesn’t blow you away with any of his other skills. But here’s what I like about him…I heard one scout at the Sugar Bowl say “Rivers simply runs the route he’s supposed to and catches the ball more often than not.” I like that. Also, with the pending free agency of David Patten, and the ineptitude of Devery Henderson and Robert Meachem getting a good receiver late could be smart.

Free Agent Signees:

As always the Saints will sign a dozen or so free agent players after the draft. Given that Sean Payton is a former quarterback and loves developing guys at this position I would almost guarantee that if they don’t choose a QB in the later rounds then they’ll most certainly sign a free agent QB. Look for a guy like this:

Mark Nicolet, QB, Hillsdale (Michigan) College (6’1, 220)

Why: Arguably the best small college QB in the country. A guy no one has heard of, a player that Payton can mold the same way he did Tony Romo.

Senior Bowl Observations
January 26, 2008

Okay, so I spent the better portion of this week in Mobile, Alabama at the annual Senior Bowl.
This is an event I enjoy covering each year. It’s laid back, the NFL coaches are accessible and the college players in the game are more than willing to talk about their futures in the NFL.
Some of my observations are as follows:
John David Booty reminds me of Drew Brees.
They both throw a pretty ball and seem to rely on understanding the offense as much if not more than on trying to use the physical skills they have. People in Mobile are saying Hawaii QB Colt Brennan is a younger version of Brees becuase each played predominately from the shotgun spread offense in college. But I disagree, I think Booty and Brees are a better comparison.

University of Maryland defensive tackle Dre Moore looked like a beast! The guy is described as a workout warrior and a player who’ll be boom or bust in the NFL. I can see that analysis being dead-on. He looked great in practices this week.

I’m not sold on Kentucky QB Andre Woodson. I had the chance to talk with Woodson and was very very impressed with him during our Q&A. What I was not impressed with was his arm strength….especially on the deep out throws. He either never really let it flew or doesn’t have the arm to let it fly. I think Woodson will struggle at the next level unit he finds an offense that suits his skills and arm strength.
LSU linebacker Ali Highsmith really impressed me with the way he goes sideline to sideline. I’d love to see the Saints take him in the 2nd round but I doubt they will. They really have so many other holes on their defense other then outside linebacker (where Scott Fujita & Sctt Shanle play). But if he’s available he’d be the best player on the board in the second round.

Caught Saints coaches talking to Tennessee tight end Brad Cottam and Oregon State Kicker Alexis Serna. I like both of these guys and could see both of them coming to New Orleans anywhere between the 4th and 7th rounds.
LSU wide receiver Early Doucet has not moved himself into the 1st round. That’s not saying he won’t be a first rounder just that he has not put himself in that category. Last year LSU’s Dwayne Bowe came to the senior as a 2nd rounder and after a strong week of practice he was a sure fire 1st rounder. Doucet has not done this.

Vili The Warrior
January 19, 2008

This might be my favorite picture this year.
It’s my brother Travers and I with the University of Hawaii mascot….Vili The Warrior!
I would have put this on the blog sooner but I just got the pic.
One of the funny things about the Sugar Bowl….and I’m not talking about the play of Hawaii…..was that after the game University of Georgia players were posing for pictures with Vili. Quite a strange sight, opposing players taking pictues with the other teams mascot.

Artest & The Birdman
January 16, 2008

The NBA trade deadline is February 22nd.

Will the Hornets make a move? Yes!

Will that move be a blockbuster? Probably not.
But if I were Hornets General Manager I’d make a couple moves that would make the team better and steal some headlines.
I’d bring back Chris Andersen. Andersen will be back in the NBA after a 2 year suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. His energy off the bench will be uplifting. PLus, he’s a fan favorite and may put some more people in the seats.

Second, I’d trade for Sacramento Kings forward Ron Artest. The Kings are looking to dump Artest and Bibby and rebuild around their young players. Send Julian Wright, Hilton Armstrong and this year’s #1 pick to Sacramento for Artest.
Artest is currently injured but should be healthy in a few weeks.
He could share minutes with fragile Peja Stojakovic at small forward.

Artest is a risk but he’s a veteran who can score and defend and would make the Hornets better.
Plus, like Andersen, Artest is a guy who could put butts in seats!

NFL Weekend Wrap
January 14, 2008

by; Clifton Brown
The Sporting News

Now Tony Romo has plenty of free time to spend with Jessica Simpson.
The stunning end to the Cowboys’ season turned a potential storybook year for Romo into a nightmare. Just like last year, Romo’s play faded late in the season. Just like last year, Romo failed to win a playoff game.
Romo is a talented quarterback, but he still hasn’t played his best when it counts the most. For the Cowboys, that has to be a huge concern. They made a commitment to Romo with a long-term contract, but he hasn’t played like a star during the playoffs. You can’t blame Sunday’s loss to the Giants strictly on Romo, but some of his errant throws didn’t help. After this performance, there will be immense pressure on Romo whenever he enters a playoff game until he proves he can win one.
Wade Phillips, now 0-4 in the playoffs for his coaching career, will also enter next season with plenty to prove. Owner Jerry Jones continues to insist that Phillips’ job is safe, but two of Phillips’ most trusted assistants may soon become head coaches: Tony Sparano and Jason Garrett. Losing them would make it more difficult for Phillips to keep the Cowboys atop the NFC East. If I’m Phillips, I wouldn’t be feeling very comfortable right now. We all know Jones is not a patient man.
The Cowboys looked stunned after Sunday’s game, and they should have been. Once again, Romo faces a long offseason. And if I’m Simpson, it would be a long time until I showed up at another Cowboys game.

Other weekend impressions:

Biggest crybaby: Terrell Owens. You could almost picture Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb throwing something at his television, watching Owens crying and pledging his undying love for Romo following Sunday’s game. McNabb helped the Eagles reach the Super Bowl when Owens was in Philly, yet Owens turned on McNabb. Now Owens is crying, defending Romo for going to Mexico with Simpson? I’m sure McNabb has a suggestion where Owens can go. And it isn’t Mexico.

Toomer was terrific. Often underappreciated, Amani Toomer came up big for the Giants, catching two touchdown passes. Plaxico Burress is more spectacular, but Toomer is the guy Eli Manning looks for when he’s in trouble. It’s no coincidence that Manning’s play dropped off significantly last season after Toomer got hurt. The Giants have continued winning without Jeremy Shockey, but Toomer’s shoes are much harder to fill.

Packer power. The Packers had the most dominant performance of the weekend, manhandling the Seahawks in the second half. No team has improved from September to January as much as the Packers have, and the contract extension Green Bay is about to give Mike McCarthy is well deserved. Right now, I think the Packers are the team that matches up best against the Patriots.

The character of the Chargers. People knew how talented the Chargers were, but on Sunday they displayed their toughness. With star players dropping all over the place, backups such as running back Michael Turner and quarterback Billy Volek stepped forward. It will be difficult for the Chargers to beat the Patriots, but it is clear that San Diego no longer shrinks from the glare of big games.
“There’s a mindset in our league that our guys kind of play good and are frontrunners,” said coach Norv Turner after the game. “When the going gets tough, or they play a good team, or when things get challenging, they don’t rise to the occasion. That’s been mentioned a few times to me and suggested a few times. I think we’ve put that thing to rest.”

Bracing for Dungy’s departure. The possibility that Tony Dungy may resign only added to the feeling of sadness in the Colts’ locker room. A lot of Colts have never played for another coach.
“He is the best coach in the NFL and I want him back, but it is not our choice,” said Colts tight end Dallas Clark.
“There’s not a man in this room that wouldn’t want him back,” said linebacker Darrell Reid.
The Colts have made the playoffs in all six of Dungy’s seasons as head coach, and they have won at least 12 games the last five seasons. But Dungy has many interests outside of football, and it seems harder for him to return every season. After winning the Super Bowl last February, Dungy has done everything a coach can possibly do. It won’t be a surprise if he walks away, and whoever replaces him will have an extremely difficult job.

Brady is the best. Tom Brady’s performance against the Jaguars should be turned into a video on how to play quarterback. Nobody is beating the Patriots if he continues to play like that.
Clifton Brown is a writer for Sporting News. E-mail him at cliftonbrown@sportingnews.com.

Saints Lose Asst. Coach To Duke
January 12, 2008

Luciana Chavez, Staff Writer

Former New Orleans Saints assistant Marion Hobby joined the Duke football staff on Friday, filling in the last spot as defensive coordinator/defensive line coach.
Hobby had coached under Duke coach David Cutcliffe during Cutcliffe’s entire tenure as coach at Ole Miss.
Hobby was on Sean Payton’s staff in New Orleans for the past two seasons, joining the Saints after a season at Clemson and six seasons at Mississippi.
Duke defensive coordinator Mike MacIntyre is in charge of generating a game plan and calling plays on Saturday. Hobby will coach the defensive line and help MacIntyre with the weekly plan.
Hobby, an Irondale, Ala., native who was recruited by Cutcliffe at Tennessee, comes to Duke with experience coaching under Cutcliffe, as well as experience coaching in the ACC.
“The first thing to know about Marion is that he is a winner,” Cutcliffe said. “He played for great people in high school. He has a great understanding of the game and is an exceptional leader of young men. Marion is the finest defensive line coach in America.”

Chris Scelfo To South Alabama
January 11, 2008

Could former Tulane Head Football Coach Chris Scelfo be the 1st head coach at the new University of South Alabama program? The school starts playing in the Sun Belt Conference in 2009.

Maybe.