Archive for March, 2010

Coach Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
March 31, 2010

Look…in previous blogs I’ve made no secret of the fact that I wanted to see Tim Floyd become the Hornets head coach for the 2010/2011 season.

But, since Floyd decided to take the head coaching position at UTEP the Hornets job will no doubt be open this summer.  No one can argue with Floyd’s decision.  The guy is a tremendous coach who has won at every school he’s been employed by (Idaho, UNO, Iowa State, USC).

Tim Floyd was just the lead assistant to Hornets head coach Jeff Bower this season but let’s be honest…Floyd was more or less coaching the team.  It was Floyd that drew up great plays coming out of timeouts and it was Floyd who put together game plans.  I really believe Jeff Bower should be retained as the Hornets general manager but that a new coach should be brought on board.

In my opinion the Hornets would be wise to look at an NBA legend hungry for a head coaching position. 

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar!

Seriously. 

KAJ is an NBA legend who’s longing for an opportunity to coach in the association.  A cancer survivor, the 62 year old Abdul-Jabbar is extremely intelligent and has proven that he can run a team by coaching in developmental leagues.

The NBA’s all time leading scorer, KAJ is a person fans would recgonize and be excited about and KAJ would no doubt work well with smart classy players like Chris Paul, David West, Emeka Okafor and Darren Collison.  

Plus, what do the Hornets have to lose???  Hiring a no name NBA assistant coach as the new Hornets head coach is not going to get the fan base excited. 

Below you’ll find an article talking about Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s desire to coach in the NBA and why he’s been overlooked for so long. 

  • Here we have the leading scorer in NBA history. Ever. And he’s not just an athletic savant put on this earth to play one sport better than almost anyone ever has. (Which is what I think of when I think of Joe Montana.) No, Abdul-Jabbar was one of the smartest people ever to play in the NBA, and I do mean ever. He has written books that go far beyond basketball. The guy’s a borderline genius, and if I’ve just written a word that doesn’t belong in this story, fine. Take out the word borderline.   And he wants to coach. He has wanted to coach for years. He has coached in the United States Basketball League in Oklahoma and at the Fort Apache Indian reservation in Arizona. He has served as a scout and as a low-ranking assistant in the NBA. At this moment he is a special assistant for the Lakers, working primarily with young center Andrew Bynum. But Abdul-Jabbar wants to be a head coach in the NBA.  Clearly Abdul-Jabbar wants to be a head coach, but the NBA is too busy recycling Scott Skiles and Don Nelson and proven losers like Alvin Gentry and Mike Dunleavy and Lionel Hollins and Eddie Jordan. This is a league in need of a new idea, and I have it: His name is Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.  He’s the all-time NBA scoring leader, he’s brilliant, and he’s dying to be a head coach.  What’s the problem here?
  • http://muslimmedianetwork.com/mmn/?p=5490

The New Orleans Warriors???
March 30, 2010

I’ve made no secret of the fact that besides the Hornets the Golden State Warriors are my favorite team in the NBA.

And tonight (Monday, March 29th) in the New Orleans Arena I was looking at the deep south version of the Warriors and I loved it!  The Hornets beat the Lakers 108-100 Monday night in the Arena.

Chris Paul, Darren Collison and Marcus Thornton playing on the court together for extended periods allowed the team to run and score at a tremendous clip.

In past blogs I wrote that the Hornets should trade Darren Collison to acquire a small forward or big man….after tonight I’m leaning heavily toward changing my opinion.

Keep Darren Collison and Chris Paul together.  Heck, forget bringing Collison off the bench…start CP3, Collison and Marcus Thornton. 

Why Not???  I know that’s a very, very small….Golden State-esque trio but why not???

Collison and Thornton alongside Paul are far more entertaining and can bring more to a lineup than Morris Peterson and Peja Stojakovic can deliver.

Add in a ready-to-go player (or two) from the draft this summer and maybe the Hornets can bounce back and make some noise next season.

Speaking of next season the Hornets have some major issues to address. 

  • Luxury Tax: The team will be well over the luxury tax to start the season and will probably have to give away a player to get under that tax…just like they gave away Rasual Butler before this season.  My money is on Darius Songaila being dealt away.  Sure, Songaila has been the team’s best bench player but he’s got a nice expiring contract and as I just stated…he can help any team he goes too.
  • Free Agency…FORGETABOUTIT!  The team will have absolutely zero money to spend in free agency.   The only players they’ll be able to sign will be guys making the league minimum.  The only way the Hornets land a star player is if they trade David West.  Which is not out of the realm of possibility….for example….would you move David West & Julian Wright in a sign and trade with Memphis for Rudy Gay?  I would!   
  • Who coaches the team?  As I’ve stated in this blog before…I think Tim Floyd should be the head coach.  I’d love to see what he can do with a healthy team and quality guys who buy into what he teaches.
  • Who do the Hornets draft?  The Hornets didn’t just hit a home run…they hit a grand slam last year when the picked Collison and Thornton….they’ll have to find the magic touch again this summer.   If the Hornets luck out in the lottery and get a top 7 pick they should go with one of these guys: Greg Monroe, Cole Aldrich or Patrick Patterson.  All are quality big men who seem ready to step in immediately and play.  If the Hornets are willing to gamble in the top 7 then maybe they take Hassan Whiteside or Donatas Montiejunas.                                                                                                             If the Hornets pick is not in the top 7 and the team picks in the bottom of the lottery they should take a long look at: Ekpe Udoh, Jan Vesely or Damion James.                                                                                                                        The Memphis Grizzlies also have three 1st round draft picks…If I’m the Hornets General Manager I’m trying to trade Julian Wright one-for-one for one of those selections in an effort to bolster the Hornets roster and hopefully strike gold with a good pick.                                                                                                                         Second round NBA draft picks are usually lucky if they make the team but rookie Marcus Thornton from LSU is becoming a solid starter in the association.  Duplicating Thornton’s success will be near impossible next season but taking a proven college player in the 2nd round is the best bet for the Hornets.  So, in the 2nd round keep an eye on: Trevor Booker, Omar Samhan and Magnum Rolle.                                                                                                                            My personal preferences in the draft are:                                                                                                                                   1st Round: Greg Monroe                                                                                                                    2nd Round: Omar Samhan                                                                                                              Hopefully these two quality big men will be better than the last time the Hornets tried to go big in the draft and failed…..2006….when the took Hilton Armstrong and Cedric Simmons.
  • As for the rest of the Hornets roster in 2010-2011.  I’d expect Aaron Grey to be re-signed.  Also look for the Hornets to be bargin basement shoppers and try to find a player, or players, who can resurrect their careers.  Two guys to keep in mind are Adam Morrison and Ian Mahinmi

Okay….that’s all I got for tonight…sorry I got off topic a bit….so quickly back to where I started. 

Great win for the Hornets tonight….now…just finish strong and make fans believe their is reason for hope next season!!!!

Hey Privateers…I’ll Miss You (Plus…why the LSU System stinks!!!)
March 24, 2010

The first story in my sportscast tonight was the UNO vs. Tulane baseball game.

In the intro to the highlights I talked about growing up in New Orleans near the campus of UNO and going to countless Privateers sporting events with my parents.  I recall watching hundreds of baseball games in the famed ‘blue zoo’ down the left field line at old Privateer Park (now Maestri Field).  I also have fond memories of going to watch basketball players like Ladell Eckles, Ervin Johnson, Tony Harris and Tank Collins play in the Lakefront Arena.   

As I called the highlights for the game tonight I had to talk about the fact that Tuesday’s game was probably the end of an era on the diamond.  UNO and Tulane will more than likely never play baseball against one another again!  As we all know by now UNO has made the horribly foolish decision to drop from NCAA division I to nonscholarship division III.

It still blows me away that this decision was made!

On top of the recent decision about athletics….what’s happened to UNO since Hurricane Katrina is a clear indication in my mind that the LSU System could care less about New Orleans! 

http://www.wdsu.com/news/22923634/detail.html

For years we’ve all heard rumors that the LSU System has held it’s foot on the throat of UNO and stunted it’s growth because they realized the potential UNO had and the draw New Orleans could be.  The rumors have always been that the LSU System didn’t want UNO to grow into a school that could ever compete with LSU.  I never really believed such crazy rumors…but now I do!

For anyone who wants to disagree with the rumors about the LSU System maybe someone could answer the following question for me.

This question is somewhat a comparsion between the two major public university systems in Louisiana….the LSU System and the Univeristy of Louisiana System. 

The LSU System consists of:

 

The University of Louisiana System consists of:

  • Grambling State University [1]
  • Louisiana Tech University [2]
  • McNeese State University [3]
  • Nicholls State University [4]
  • Northwestern State University [5]
  • Southeastern Louisiana University [6]
  • University of Louisiana at Lafayette [7]
  • University of Louisiana at Monroe [8]
  • How can all 8 schools in the University of Louisiana System have fully funded NCAA division I athletic departments…yet UNO has to drop to the lowest NCAA classification??? 

    Answer:  The University of Louisiana System has helped it’s schools flourish while the LSU System has snuffed out every school but LSU.  Do you realize that LSU is now the only school in the LSU System playing NCAA division I sports?   

    In my opinion their is no reason why the University of New Orleans shouldn’t mirror schools like the University of Cincinnati, the University of Pittsburgh, Temple University and the University of Houston.  All major public universities in cities comporable to New Orleans.  All universities that have thrived academically and athletically because the men and women overseeing them were smart enough to realize what they could be.  Their is room in Ohio for the Ohio State University and the University of Cincinnati.  Their is room in Pennsylvania for Penn State and Pitt and Temple.  Their is room in Texas for the University of Texas and the University of Houston…and their is room in Louisiana for LSU and the University of New Orleans!

    Unfortunatley leaders in New Orleans and Baton Rouge have worked against one another for too long and have seemingly destroyed what could have been so great.

    So goodbye UNO athletics…I will truly miss covering you Privateers and will always wonder why smarter people couldn’t have worked out a better plan.

    Dear Rev. Kevin William Wildes, S.J. (Updated 3-21-10)
    March 19, 2010

    {Updated: 3-21-10}
    Xavier and St. Mary’s are playing in the sweet 16 and getting positive national recgonition that is priceless.
    Again, I write this email each year…and i’ll keep writing and hoping that one day someone takes it seriously.

    Also…to be honest, if the idea of Loyola ever going DI is going to be explored it should be now. 

    UNO is dropping down from NCAA Division I to Division III.  Our city will have only one division I team…and let’s be honest…Tulane has always been looked upon by locals as an “outsider” school.

    The greater New Orleans area is a huge catholic stronghold and I truly believe the fans here would support Loyola teams if the school decided to move up to NCAA division I.

    —————————————————————————————–
    It’s that time of year.  As I filled out my bracket for March madness I couldn’t resist picking small catholic universities.  My bias toward schools like Gonzaga, Xavier, St. Mary’s and Siena is no doubt due to the fact that I attended catholic school from kindergarden through college.
    I just wish my university would one day come to the realization that NCAA division I athletics would push the school toward national recgonition and generate countless dollars in donations.
    I wrote the blog below two years ago and figured I’d post it again.    
    —————————————————————————————
    Dear Rev. Kevin WM. Wildes, S.J.
    As a former Loyola University baseball team captain (and a friend of yours who has tremendous respect for what you’ve accomplished not only at the university but also in the commuity) I beg you to form an exploratory committee to research the possibility of moving the athletics program into the NCAA division I.
    Keeping this blog entry short and sweet I just want to say that it’s time for the school to make a decision.
    Either get in or get out.
    And please don’t tell me that moving athletics up in classification is too hard or impossible. 
    Seattle University is a small Jesuit University (very comporable to Loyola New Orleans) that recently moved up to NCAA division I.
     
    http://www.goseattleu.com/
    Seattle’s decision to go division I was lead by University president Rev. Stephen V. Sundborg, S.J. 
    He and the board of trustees made the decision that moving into the highest classification of collegiate athletics makes the entire university better.
    Some of the most recognizable Jesuit colleges and universities are Georgetown, Boston College, Marquette, Gonzaga, Xavier and Fordham.
    Why? Because on top of being tremendous academic instutions all have achieved national athletic recognition.
    How many people log onto the Gonzaga University website each year during the NCAA’s March madness?
    Probably a lot more than the Loyola New Orleans website.
    Of the 28 Jesuit colleges and universities playing sports, 23 are NCAA division I.
    3 Jesuit schools are division II or III.
    Only Loyola New Orleans and Spring Hill College are members of the NAIA.
    Rev. Wildes, if you get behind the idea of moving athletics to a new level, advancing into the NCAA can happen.
    I had numerous conversations with your predecessor, Bernard Knoth, but he never seemed very interested in pursuing this idea.
    So I ask that you make athletics part of your legacy.
    Moving athletics up to the NCAA division I level helps the university. Just like in Seattle University, more students and alumni would join this cause than oppose you.
    I’ve even found a perfect conference that would no doubt seriously consider Loyola.
    The Atlantic Sun Conference.
    As far as travel and creating natural regional rivals goes, the A-Sun would be perfect!

     

    2010 March Madness
    March 15, 2010

    My 2010 Final Four:

    Kentucky: Can’t pick against Calipari and John Wall. 

    Syracuse: After watching a report on the tough zone defense the ‘Cuse operates I fell in love with them.

    Baylor: Picking more from my heart than my head.  Bears senior Tweety Carter is from Laplace.  He led Reserve Christian to state titles and was an electric player in high school. 

    Georgetown: Same as Baylor but insert Greg Monroe for Tweety Carter…plus I love DC.

    Sleepers:

    Gonzaga & St. Mary’s & Xavier:  Going to catholic school from pre-K through college…I always find myself pulling for the catholic schools.  I always pick Gonzaga to make a big run….but be warned…in the past I’ve been burned picking these teams.

    UNLV:  I remember the Runnin’ Rebels and Tark the Shark growing up.  Fell in love with them and will always have a big soft spot for UNLV.   

    San Diego State:  Aztecs got cheated last year and left out of the field of 64.  They’ll make teams pay this season.

    Murray State:  Coach Billy Kennedy is from New Orleans.  He attended Holy Cross High School.  Kennedy coached at Southeastern Louisiana and led the Lions to the NCAA tourney in ’05.  That year SLU almost upset Oklahoma State.  The guy can flat out coach!!! 

    • A matchup that peaks my interest is #6 Marquette vs. #11 Washington.

    I don’t know who to pick in this game.  I’ll probably go with Marquette because Buzz Williams has done a great job this season and I love watching his antics on the sideline.  Williams left UNO abruptly as it’s head coach and at the time I (like many New Orleanians) was upset at him.  But given the recent developments at UNO which have unearthed the lack of any type of leadership at the school I have softened regarding Buzz.  The Huskies are always a tough team I enjoy watching.  I remember watching Brandon Roy in the 2006 tournament and becoming a big fan of the Huskies.  UW’s Quincy Pondexter is a player I’d like to see the Hornets perhaps select this June in the NBA Draft.  Marquette also gets a nod right now because Washington has to travel across the country to Jacksonville, Florida to play this game.

    Plus, if Marquette wins this game it sets up a huge match up with New Mexico (if the Lobos win….which they will!).

    • It should be a banner week for New Orleans!  The NCAA chose Kentucky and Texas as two of the eight teams playing in New Orleans.  Restaurants and hotels will be inundated with seas of blue…the Wildcat faithful love their hoops!  Great stuff for NOLA!
    •   Personally…I can’t wait to see Wake Forest play Texas Thursday night in New Orleans.  The Demon Deacons have a small forward that I’d love to see the Hornets draft if the Hornets luck out and get a high enough lottery pick this summer.  Remember the name: Al-Farouq Aminu….not that you could forget a name like his!!!

    Bring Back Jake…Plus, Fujita In Cleveland
    March 5, 2010

    Is it me or is it a no-brainer that the Saints bring back Jake Delhomme to backup Drew Brees?

    A classy, popular former Super Bowl/Pro Bowl player who could finish his career in his home state and have a chance at a ring! 

    No offense to Mark Brunell who’s a great guy…but Jake would be a perfect backup to Brees and a mentor to Chase Daniel.  Jake can also fill Brunell’s role as the holder on extra points and field goals. 

    BRING JAKE BACK HOME!!!!!

    My only question:  What jersey # does Delhomme wear if he rejoins the black and gold?

    During his first Saints stint Delhomme wore #9…..that’s out!

    Delhomme changed to jersey #12 once Billy Joe Hobart left the Saints.  #12 is also out (Colston).

    The Breaux Bridge resident wears #17 with the Panthers…out (Meachem).

    I say assign him jersey #7.  Something about a popular local player wearing the digit of a former great (Morten Andersen).      

    ————————–

    Also, ESPN’s Adam Schefter is reporting that Saints free agent linebacker Scott Fujita is in Cleveland to meet with the Browns. 

    Schefter says Fujita is being targeted by the Browns for his strong leadership and experience. 

    Charity Check Presentation with Scott Fujita 2008

    Backbreaker…Plus, Square Pegs in Round Holes
    March 5, 2010

    I watched every second of Wednesday nights Hornets game and I must say…..that defeat was a backbreaker in my opinion!

    Memphis just seemed to want it more and found a way to win at the end of the game.

    As of now (Thursday, March 4th) the Hornets trail Portland by 5 games for the 8th and final playoff spot in the NBA’s Western Conference. 

    THE HORNETS WILL NOT MAKE THE POSTSEASON IN 2010!!!

    That said, it’s time to start addressing serious concerns for next season.

    What concerns am I talking about?

    Well, let’s start with the dreaded NBA luxury tax…an obstacle the Hornets worked hard to get below this season.  The tax will be set for around $70 million dollars for the 2010-2011 season.

    The problem is the Hornets have $73 million dollars in salary committed to just 10 players for next season.  Add in two draft picks and two veteran players who’ll make the minimum salary and realistically the team is looking at a $76-$80 million dollar payroll for 2010-2011.  

    Sure, the Hornets have close to $30 million dollars in expiring contracts when the summer of 2011 rolls around but that does not help them this summer!  It really does not help them next summer either because their are no good free agents available in the summer of 2011. 

    So how will the team get below the luxury tax and stay competative?????

    If I could answer that question my checks would be coming from George Shinn and not Patty’s daddy (The Hearst Corporation).

    Although I cannot answer that question with certainty I can share some ideas that will probably come to fruition this summer.

    • The Hornets will not be able to sign any impact  free agents.  Forget the big name players and even the 2nd tier guys…the Hornets will be so strapped they’ll only be able to sign low risk/high reward players. 

     

    • The Hornets may have to give a quality player like David West away this summer and deal with the public relations nightmare that surrounds such a deal.  I use David West as an example because he’s a good player with value who is basically entering the final year of his contract.  West has a player option on his contract for 2011-2012 but he’s sure to opt out so he can get a long term deal.  The excerpt and link below details a deal involving Marcus Camby and the Nuggets two years ago and is an example of what I’m talking about when I reference giving David West away:  

    Marcus Camby’s agent was

    told it was a salary dump.

    It was one fit for only the largest city dump.

    The Nuggets traded the center to the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday in a move that next season could save them more than $22 million when the luxury tax is considered. And what must the Clippers give the Nuggets?

    Possibly nothing.

    The Nuggets have the option of trading second-round picks in 2010. But if Denver’s pick ends up being better than Los Angeles’, the Clippers give up nothing.

    “They told me it was a salary dump,” Camby’s agent, Rick Kaplan, said of the Nuggets. “It was shocking. They got nothing in return. . . . They’re going to get crushed in public relations. . . . This is one of the most lopsided trades in NBA history.”

    http://www.rockymountainnews.com/news/2008/jul/15/nuggets-ship-camby-clippers-draft-pick/

    • Emeka Okafor is completely immovable.  His guaranteed contract (which has to one of the worst on the books in the NBA right now)  runs through the 2013/2014 season and over that span he’s set to get paid $52 million dollars.     

    So after laying out the above scenarios…where do the Hornets stand for next season?

    In my opinion…here’s what they have to do to stay under the luxury tax and stay competative:

    1.  Luck out in the lottery and get a top 10 pick (and then pick wisely).

    2.  Trade Darren Collison for a starter or for a high lottery pick this season (preferably a high lottery pick).

    3.  Trade Julian Wright for a 2010 second round draft pick.

    4.  Give David West away in a Marcus-Camby-’08-like salary dump (a move I hate but one that gets the team out of luxury tax jail!).

    5.  Trade Peja Stojakovic and Morris Peterson next season before the trade deadline to a desperate team (kinda like the Wizards this season) and hope that the players coming to the Hornets can help a young team make a playoff push.

    Fletcher’s 2010-2011 Hornets:

    Starting 5:

    1. Chris Paul

    2. Marcus Thornton

    3. Al-Farouq Aminu (Lottery Pick #1…this is the top five 2010 lottery pick the Hornets have to acquire by trading Darren Collison)

    4.  Greg Monroe (Lottery Pick #2…this is the Hornets 2010 lottery pick and a selection that would ease the pain of giving West away.  Monroe is a local kid from the west bank.)

    5. Emeka Okafor

    *Super young starting 5 but talented on paper.   

    Bench:

    PG: Matt Bouldin (Hornets 2nd round 2010 draft pick)

    PG: Bobby Brown (yes, bring him back as a veteran back-up for CP3)

    SG: Morris Peterson (who’s expiring contract could/should be traded between December-February next season to help the team get a quality player in return)

    SF: Peja Stojakovic (who’s expiring contract could/should be traded between December-February next season to help the team get a quality player in return)

    SF: James Posey

    SF/PF: Charles Garcia (Hornets 2nd Round pick in 2010.  Could be the pick the team acquires for trading Julian Wright).

    PF: Darius Songaila

    C: Aaron Gray

    C: Brian Cusworth (A young, athletic big man who played on the Hornets Las Vegas summer league team in ’09 and who’s currently playing in Spain….but who would obviously return home for the chance to play in the NBA.)

    • Is the above a perfect team?  Absolutely not…but it is a young, athletic group…the team is under the luxury tax…and their are big trade chips (MoPete/Peja) that could be used to get good veteran players for a postseason push.

     

    • And really…isn’t what I’ve proposed better than running the same old guys out there and continuing to believe that they’ll get it done?  Believing that is like believing square pegs will fit into round holes?

    2010 Saints Mock Draft {Updated 3-1-10}
    March 2, 2010

    Yeah, it’s way too early to start publishing mock drafts…but what the heck!

    The Saints have 6 picks in this April’s 7 round NFL draft.  The reason the Saints have only 6 picks is because they traded their 5th round choice in 2010 during last year’s draft to move up and select punter Thomas Morstead. 

    And realize this…the Saints will really have 8 rookie players in 2010.  Two players from the class of 2009, safety Chip Vaughn and linebacker Stanley Arnoux, both missed the entire 2009 season due to injury. 

    I would also not be surprised to see the Saints deal for an additional value pick for two.  With Jammal Brown expected to regain his starting job in 2010 and with Zach Strief serving as a very reliable back-up perhaps the Saints could dangle Jermon Bushrod to a team like Kansas City and pick up an extra 2nd round selection (KC has two 2nd round picks).  Roman Harper is also a guy who could be dangled as trade bait in an effort to pick up extra selections.   

    All that said…lots will probably happen before the end of April and the NFL draft.  But, as of right now, here is my 2010 Saints mock draft: 

    ***1st Round: 32nd overall pick***

    Terrence Cody: Defensive Tackle

    6’5 370 lbs.

    University of Alabama

     

    Summary:

    Cody is arguably the best run defender in the nation; that department is clearly his specialty, as he rarely records quarterback sacks. Although his 40-yard dash time is nothing to write home about (around 5.6 on an average day), he is actually quite agile and his lateral movement makes him a beast against the run. Cody is probably the second best defensive lineman in this class and he should not have to wait long to hear his name called on Day 1 of the 2010 draft.

    Summary Courtesy: www.fftoolbox.com

    {Fletcher’s Take: I can’t help but thinking of the Saints games last season when the team got gashed by nearly every running back they faced.  Cody should help tremendously as a run stopper.}

    [1st round plan B if Cody isn’t available or if it’s decided he’d be a better fit for a 3-4 defense and not the Saints 4-3: Jared Odrick-DT-Penn St. or DE Jason Pierre Paul from South Florida or DE Ricky Sapp from Clemson…but all three of these players are projected to be gone when the Saints pick.]

    ***2nd Round: 64th overall pick***

    Toby Gerhart: Running Back

    6’1 230 lbs

    Stanford University

     

    Summary:

    A power back with excellent speed, Gerhart is simply too powerful for many LB and especially defensive backs to handle. He runs with no fear and can surprise defenders with a good burst through the middle. Able to plow through defenders or bounce of them, Gerhart possesses the sound feet and balance to keep plays alive, pushing forward for extra yards with defenders draped over him. Lacks an extra, breakaway gear but has the speed to get outside and makes life miserable for corners trying to bring him down. Shows great patience in letting the play develop and the vision to find a crease. His strength carries over into pass protection and he’s already proficient in this area.

    Gerhart has solid hands and can catch the ball out of the backfield. As Stanford’s lone offensive threat, Gerhart routinely had to face extra defenders in the box looking to slow him down. Few succeeded as he was credited with only 40 yards for loss on the entire season.

    summary courtesy: www.nfldraftdog.com

    {Fletcher’s Take: Gerhart might be long gone by the end of the 2nd round but if he’s there I think the Saints should grab him.  Call me crazy but I think the Saints will part ways with Mike Bell and Gerhart would be the perfect replacement.  To me, Gerhart just jumps out as a Sean Payton type player.}

    ***3rd Round: 96th overall pick***

    Austen Lane: Defensive End

    6’7 270 lbs.

    Murray State University

     

    Summary:

    Lane is one of the early risers of the 2010 draft class. A three year starter for Murray State, the Wisconsin native began his career in 2006 when he started nine out of ten games recording 34 tackles, 3.5 for loss, with 2.5 sacks. Lane made a big impact in 2007 when he had 3.5 sacks in 48 total tackles. But, his breakthrough campaign came last fall when Lane posted an impressive 63 tackles, 22 for loss and 12 sacks year.

    Austen Lane has good size and strength, and can be extremely disruptive in the open field as a powerful tackler. He is a great athlete with elite initial quickness and an explosive first step; has excellent speed (4.59). Is fluid and agile when turning the corner and he has good closing burst to the quarterback. With great passion for rushing the passer, Lane is an intelligent player and has good feel for the game.

    Although, Lane needs to show better effort against the run. He also must add bulk and lower-body strength. On running plays, Lane tries to avoid blocks and is taken out of position too often, so he needs to improve his technique.

    At times, Lane was a dominate force, but he is better fitted to the 4-3 base defense where his athleticism and versatility can be better harnessed. A playmaker with room to grow, Lane could become a solid contributor in the NFL. Once viewed as a late Day two pick, Lane is moving up the charts fast. Expect to hear his name being called by the middle of the third round or early fourth.

    Summary Courtesy: www.fftoolbox.com

     {Fletcher’s Take:  I expect that Charles Grant will be released and the Saints will address this position early in the draft.} 

    ***4th Round: 132nd overall pick***

    Cameron Sheffiled: Outside Linebacker

    6’2 250 lbs.

    Troy University

     

    Summary:

    A good overall athlete with good pass rushing skills, Sheffield has good explosion off the line of scrimmage, in addition to great strength he utilizes in his bull-rush technique. He can play the run as well as the pass and will be a good addition to any team in the mid-rounds.

    summary courtesy: www.nfldraftbible.com

    {Fletcher’s Take: A player who could help immediately on special teams and who could eventually emerge as a starter in 2011 or 2012 for Scott Fujita or Scott Shanle.}

    NO 5TH ROUND SELECTION 

    ***6th Round: 207th overall pick***

    Michael Hoomanawanui: Tight End

    6’5 270 lbs.

    University of Illinois

     

    Summary:

    Michael Hoomanawanui is an interesting draft prospect. Unlike most of the tight end prospects the past few years, Hoomanawanui has the size to be a devastating blocker at the professional level. Because he’s not an explosive pass catcher, teams will likely bypass him early in the draft, but he will be a valuable pick later in the draft for a team looking to improve their run blocking. He saw action as a freshman, but didn’t record a single catch. During his sophomore and junior seasons, he caught 30 passes for 376 yards and had 4 touchdown receptions. Like most of the Illinois roster, Hoomanawanui had a slow 2009 season. He has just 10 catches for 114 yards as a senior. He isn’t the type of tight end who will stretch the seam against opposing defenses, but he does do a nice job of blocking and then leaking out as a safety valve for the quarterback. Because of his size, he’s also difficult to tackle once he’s caught the ball and has a head of steam. Hoomanawanui is likely to slip into the sixth or even seventh round, but develop into a Jim Kleinsasser type of tight end in the pros.

    Summary Courtesy: www.fftoolbox.com

    {Fletcher’s Take: After Jeremy Shockey and Dave Thomas the Saints are woefully thin at tight end.  No one knows if Billy Miller will be able to return after rupturing his achillies tendon and Darnell Dinkins certainly isn’t a key member of the offense…so drafting Hoomanawanui makes sense.} 

    ***7th Round: 246th overall pick***

    Rahim Alem: Defensive End

    6’3 255 lbs.

    Louisiana State University

     

    Summary:

    Don’t let his average defensive end size fool you, this guy can play. He wreaks havoc on passing downs by being very quick off the line, which allows him to go around defenders or use other tactics to make his way to the quarterback. He may need to add some bulk before stepping up to the NFL level, but there is no replacement for the heart and desire he shows on the field.

    summary courtesy: www.nfldraftbible.com

    {Fletcher’s Take: I’ve just always liked the way this guy played at LSU!!!}

    In All Seriousness: Hornets of 2010-2011
    March 1, 2010

    I’ll give the Hornets credit.

    They never say die!

    In my opinion, the team is going to miss the playoffs this year but not for lack of effort.

    Down 25 Sunday night against Dallas the Hornets roar back and cut the deficit to 4 before the Mavs pulled away for good.

    Great effort in Big D!!! 

    As of Today (Monday, March 1st) the Hornets trail Portland by 3 games for the 8th and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. 

    Barring a run like Golden State went on in 2007 the Hornets will miss the playoffs.

    That said…in recent blogs I’ve written about the Hornets of 2010-2011…and looking ahead to next season I’ve written adamently about trading point guard Darren Collison.  It’s my belief that Collison could bring a starter back in return and that would make the Hornets a better team.

    But…Collison will not be traded!!!   Here is what will really happen this offseason…and I’m totally fine if things unfold this way:

    • The Hornets will NOT trade Darren Collison or any other key player during the summer.

    The Hornets will blame their woes during the 2009-2010 season on the firing of coach Byron Scott, CP3’s injuries and the young players growing pains….and those are all viable excuses.   The Hornets will follow the same path Utah and Phoenix took last season.  Those two teams in essence stood pat and did not make any radical changes.  Both of those teams are now playing much much better than last year with the same nucleus of guys.

    • The Hornets will have to pick very very wisely in the draft and get a player who can be productive immediately.  The team will also have to sign one or two low risk/high reward veteran players.

    As for a reliable draft pick.  In the 1st round I’d go with University of Kansas center Cole Aldrich.  If the Hornets luck out and the ping pong balls work some magic for them and they somehow get a top 5 pick I’d go with Wake Forest small forward Al-Farouq Aminu.  Aldrich is a seasoned college player who could step in immediately and help.  Aminu is one of the top wing players in the draft and seems like a true scorer.  In the 2nd round the Hornets should take a long look at University of Maryland combo guard Greivis Vasquez

    When looking at low risk/high reward free agents who can replace Ike Diogu and Sean Marks…perhaps take a chance on: 

    Adam Morrison, Joe Alexander or Ian Mahinmi.  Morrison and Alexander are former lottery picks who fizzled out without ever getting real chances.  Mahinmi is a skilled big man who’s been an understudy in San Antonio for the past 4 years. 

    I also think the Hornets should consider bringing back Rasual Butler.  Butler was traded for one reason…to lower salary.  He’ll be a free agent and he’s still a productive player averaging 12 point per game who can start at shooting guard or even small forward.  If the Hornets can get him for a reasonable price or work a sign-and-trade with the Clippers to send them Julian Wright I’d say the Hornets got better.  

    • As far as trades go…look for the Hornets to be very active buyers starting in December and ending at the NBA trade deadline in February of 2011. 

    When the summer of 2011 rolls around the Hornets will have close to $30 million dollars in expiring contracts.  Teams who are faltering next season will gladly work deals with the Hornets to acquire their expiring money.  Look at the Washington Wizards this season….after the Gilbert Areanas situation the team decided to blow-up the roster and good players like Caron Buter and Antwan Jamison were traded for expiring contracts.  The Hornets will have no shortage of offers next season for Peja Stojakovic’s expiring $14 million dollar contract and MoPete’s expiring $6.5 million dollar deal.  So until next December, I would not expect any major trades.  Maybe a minor swap involving Julian Wright this summer but that’s about it.

    • Keep the coaching staff!

    Seriously, Jeff Bower and Tim Floyd have done a great job this season and deserve to get a shot with a healthy club for a full season.  I truly believe that the players are smart, respectful guys who understand what Bower and Floyd are trying to do. 

    BRING THEM BOTH BACK!!!!!