Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The Heart of the Game

As Final Four weekend is approaching, it seems like a good time to toss another sports movie recommendation out there. The Heart of the Game was just released on video. It's not a standard sports film at all. It's a documentary about a girl's high school basketball program, its eccentric coach, and one of their star players. That's all I'll say because anything you know about this film beforehand can only hurt your experience watching it. So don't listen to anyone or read any reviews. Just add it to your Netflix list or go rent it. It's one of those true stories that couldn't be written because people would think it was over the top.

I also just watched Eight Below because people kept telling me I had to (because of my dog). While I'm not generally a fan of obvious Disney-esque drama, if you like animals than this is not-to-be-missed. I will admit, I like dogs a lot more than most people. When dogs are creating mayhem at the crags and everyone is complaining, I'm the one loving it (more than my dog, who prefers things to be orderly in his old age). So with that qualifier, it's a flim that shouldn't be missed.

I realize that most of my blog readers aren't basketball people. I find this kind of funny; hardly any of my friends know or care about basketball one bit. It's like my coaching years were another lifetime. But if any of you give a crap about the game (stole that line from an ESPN columnist) you do not want to miss Saturday's games. The NCAA tourny lacked the upsets that everyone loves. Instead, we have, perhaps, that most intersting Final Four in years.

Though I realize that missing a Saturday outside in order to watch basketball is unlikely for most of you (I'm not even sure I will, but maybe I can ride so hard in the morning that I'm too tired to do anything else), I'll set the stage a little just in case.

First, there's a rematch of last year's title game between UCLA and Florida. Florida has all five of its started back and blew UCLA out last year. But UCLA is probably better. Their relentless swarming defense is allowing an average of 55 points in the tourny and they just shut down high flying Kansas--many experts pick to win it all--to a degree no one could have predicted. Florida, however, has crazy versatility and is, basically, really really good. They've been toying with teams, allowing them leads early on only to clamp down later when it matters, in a way only truly great teams are able to get away with. They should win the game.

But there is an intriguing story because they can't follow the same pattern they've played with. You can't spot UCLA a double digit lead because they're so hard to score against. If they come out flat, the Bruins will make them pay.

The next game, Georgetown vs. Ohio St is almost like an old school classic. Two teams with dominating 7 footers, OSU likes to run, G'Town plays at a crawl and has the most effiecient offense in the country. Both centers dominate games on defense. Greg Oden, OSU's freshman center, is im the Bill Russell/Bill Walton mode in that he doesn't need to score very much to completely take over a game. In the tourny, he's barely averaging double digits in scoring yet, when he's on the floor, his teams is crushing its opponents. But that's a big when, as his agressive style gets him into foul trouble and he's barely on the floor for half of each game. If Oden stays on the foor, he should be able to neutralize G'Town's biggest weapon, it's ability to use their size to dominate teams on the glass. If not, they're probably in trouble.

These are two of the most intriguing match-ups that I can recall in college basketball in many years. So if you're sick, injured, or just need a rest day consider checking it out.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Live Coverage of Bike Racing

4:25 PM Ain't it great
that a week-long stage race comes down to the final few kilometers? This is bike racing.

- From's live report

Now that OLN (Versus) had pretty much given up most of their coverage of cycling, you need to turn to the net for live updates. Sometimes, you can get live feeds from Europe. Eurosport always has video highlights and some commentary and you can usually find great coverage for big races, like the Giro. For the smaller and more locally based races, your choice is mainly and

For years, cyclingnews has been superior (maybe more of my opinion because I've written for them) but Velonews has no only closed the gap but is now blowing them away. Velo's live coverage of Parin-Nice has been outstanding, while it appears that cyclingnews is barely scraping up their leftovers. Hopefully, CN is just having a bad P-N experience and will be back on track. For the larger races, I like to read both of the live reports because you get different feedback and perspective. When they're on, both have interviews and such and have better coverage than you get on TV with the OLN crew. Sad, but true. If we could only ditch Al Trautwig and get somebody who knows something about bike racing...

Anyway, Paris-Nice has been a fantastic race. I just hope it's an indication of how the racing season is going to go.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007


I'll admit it, this year I've had less time to follow basketball than I have in a while. But as someone who spent more than half of their life living and dying--as both a player and coach--for the sport, I still have a bit of feel, not to mention nostalgia, for the game. And I follow it, at least in the news, pretty closely. I have to. My dad was a coach for most of his life. If I didn't it would put a huge damper in our conversations. Therefore, I'm upholding what I feel to be a responsibility and making my picks and observations for this year's NCAA tournament.

Last year, I said it was the most open dance in memory and that I hadn't a clue. Then I wound up picking pretty well:

2006 Picks

I even picked George Mason, well, sorta, with my 11 v 6 proclomation.

Coach's Corner

But this year is even crazier. Except for Florida. Maybe still Florida. There hasn't been one team that hasn't had a bad loss or lull or losing streak amongst all the favorites. Ohio St, the only team that's been close to consistant got slaughtered by Florida. UCLA had been consistant until they all of a sudden couldn't play defense in their last two games. Florida was playing horrible until they seemed to wake up and walk through their conference tourny.

Before I get to the picks here are two observations.

1. The play in game sucks. Jesus, these teams qualify for the "dance" but, in reality, get a showdown in some high school gym on the opening night of the NIT that has virtually zero fanfare. It's horrible, really. Does the committee really believe we need to squeeze in one more 7th place team. What kind of 7th place team even feels like they should be rewarded anyway? In most conferences, this is a long way from first place and pretty close to last.

2. If this tourney is really as "open" as all of the experts say, why is everyone picking nothing but 1 and 2 seeds, with a smattering of 3's (A&M)? And I mean everyone. I saw a rundown of "experts" picks and not only wasn't there a George Mason in a projection, but not one single LSU (4 seed last year) or UCLA and only a couple of Floridas. It's pretty much #1 vs #1 or #2 across the bored. Talk about boring. Sheesh. If the tournament actually played out like this people would stop watching.

Alrighty, then. Here we go:


I'd love to pick Niagra over Kansas because someday a 16 will beat a 1. Not this year though.

Nova over UK in a toss up, since the Cats aren't playing well.

Tech, I guess. This is one of the weirdest teams in the country but they'll win is the good Hokies show.

So Ill - deeefense!

VCU over Duke. Yep. I think Duke should even be a lower seed.

Wright St over Pitt. Why not? One of these brackets is going to be weird. Pitt just got worked over and WS is a sandbag 14. Didn't they just beat Butler (a 5)?

Zags over UI, and UCLA over Weber St.


Florida got an easy road in this bracket and will win round one.

Arizona over Purdue, though I'm not really buying all the talk over super talent. Something is missing with them.

ODU over Butler. The 'ol 12/5, since Butler's been cold lately and they rely so heavily on outside shooting.

Davidson... hmmm. No, Maryland. They were plaing well until recently and have had a great second half of the season.

Winthrop over ND. Actually, Winthrop got sorta sandbagged. This is a great match up.


UNLV (Why do all the experts think they suck? Great coach, nice resume...)



Kind of the group of death.


Marquette (MSU has one guy who can shoot)


Texas, though I think it will be tougher than people think.

G. Wash, since Vandy's been in a slump and QW came out of nowhere this year.

WSU, maybe. Oral Roberts is tough. This should be great.

BC over Tech. Sorry, Coach. I can't see a team that loses to Kansas St by 20 in their last game making a run.



Ohio St

Xavier over BYU, just to make the next round more fun.

LB St over Tenn (5 seniors sounds like a team from last year)

Albany over Virgnia (what kind of 4s and 5s are these and how did Virginia win the ACC?)

Stanford over Lousiville, since they get their point guard back.


Creighton over Nevada

Memphis, since they've been practicing beating up bad teams for months.


Virginia Tech
UCLA in another nail biter with the Zags

Florida, though I WANT to pick Zona
Maryland. Sorry, no Mason this year.
Oregon, if just because they're so fun to watch
UNLV. Wisconsin lost their big man

Marquette. Yeah, yeah, I'm sick of hearing about NC's talent. They underacheived all year and will pay for it.
Texas, though this game will be great.
WSU. Everyone's forgetting what Dick Bennet used to do in the tourney.

Ohio St. Those freshman are starting to get confident
LB St. Seniors, man.
Creighton, if they stay hot.

Elite Eight

Virginia Tech. Kansas has been strange all year. Tech is even stranger.
UCLA, who has been steady all year til the end

Florida. I dunno. I want to pick against them but...
Oregon. Woo hoo!

Texas, cause they're fun to watch.
G'Town in a grind it out nailbiter

Ohio St, who will play down and make this close
A&M. Everyone's trendy pick, probably because they've won a lot of close games, plus are almost playing at home.

Final Four

UCLA. Kind of boring pick but, hey, I went there. Howland is never an easy out.
Oregon, even though they have no business beating Fla. Billy ball tends to choke more than not.
Texas, if only because everyone is picking G'Town. Hey, they lost to Oregon at home, and Texas plays a lot like Oregon.
Ohio St. This seems like an upset at this point but Oden is going to become more and more dominent throughout the tourny.


Okay, I've got a 1,2,3, and 4. Not exactly George Mason but at least it's not all 1s except the home team, A&M.

In what should have been the Pac 10 championship, Oregon in a crazy game. It's tough to beat a good team three times and, so far, it's UCLA 2, Ducks zip.
Ohio St. Durant will win the Freshman stat line but Oden will dominate the game.

Ohio St over Oregon. I picked em at the start of the year. They're young and should be getting better all of the time. No team really has an answer for Oden. Well, maybe G'Town but they're getting shot down earlier.

So there you go. Bet the farm on it. Or not.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Calorie Restriction and Increased Lifespan

Here's a pretty interesting video about increasing your lifespan. More and more, we're hearing about how eating fewer calories can extend our lives.

Well, yeah!

I mean, what is "calorie restriction" anyway? It means we eat too much but we're only eating based on amounts that we've come up with. So maybe it's just that our science has been a little off. Then there's that whole other issue of eating WAY too much and lying about it. We produce about 3,900 calories of food a day. The average person claims to be taking in 2,000 calories per day. That's a lot of missing food to be accounted for. Can you image how we would change to dynaimic of the planet if we only needed to produce 2,000 calories a day?