Thursday, June 28, 2007

NBA Draft looms

Site Management: Blogger finally got around to fixing my sidebar snafu, and I have added multiple links as a result. The first one that needs to be mentioned is another upstart Buckeye blog, this one called Buckeye Lane. The author, Adam Kiefaber, is a great writer and his entries reflect that. Also added to the sidebar are Greg Oden's and Mike Conley's blogs. I'm not sure how much these will be used after the draft tonight, but they're still fun to go back through. Also added to the sidebar is a scrolling news ticker I applied via widgetmate. The ticker will display all of the hottest Buckeye-related news, so that way if I haven't covered a topic on the blog, you can still read about it!

Conflicting Reports: ESPN is reporting that Portland will draft Greg Oden over Kevin Durant with the number 1 pick in the NBA draft tonight. Oden's agent, Mike Conley Sr., however, claims that Portland told neither he nor Greg about their intentions, and Portland GM Kevin Pritchard told Fox Sports that the article was prematurely published and that, "Nobody has been promised or told anything. Nobody."

Chances are, Oden will be the number one pick, but Pritchard is downplaying the whole situation. I like to compare this situation to the 2004 NBA Draft when the consensus top two players available were can't-miss franchise big man Dwight Howard and UConn superstar Emeka Okafor. Orlando had the top pick, and took Howard simply due to the fact that big men like Howard come around very rarely, and although it may take a few years for him to develop into a consistent offensive performer, he is well worth the wait. Charlotte then took Okafor with the #2 pick, and Okafor went on to win rookie of the year over Howard. However, as both players are preparing to enter their fourth season as professionals, Howard is widely considered the best Center in the Eastern Conference, and has led Orlando to the playoffs far earlier than anyone had imagined. Okafor, on the other hand, has not seen as sharp an improvement as Howard, and although he is still considered one of the premier big men in the league, the disparity between the two is enormous. I kind of expect the same scenario to begin to play out on a much larger scale tonight when Portland takes the can't-miss, franchise player Oden over the exciting Durant. Chances are, Durant will have a better rookie season than Oden. His numbers were just too huge in college, and the transition from high school to college to the professional ranks in just two seasons is a much more difficult adjustment for a Center than it is for a swing man like Durant. However, if both of these players develop into the superstars that we all expect them to, there is an excellent chance that Oden will win more championships. He's just that type of a cornerstone player that you would be crazy to pass up on.

What about the other Buckeyes? Oden is the only ex-Buckeye to have his draft spot secured for him tonight, as the range of possibilities for Conley, Cook, and Lewis is incredibly wide. Although Conley is a surefire lottery pick, he could go anywhere from 3-13, simply based on where teams have him on their boards compared to Acie Law, and if teams decide that their priorities are elsewhere. Conley's destination could be dependent on Kevin Garnett. If the Timberwolves are able to dish out the superstar in a three team trade involving Phoenix and either Boston or Atlanta, the Timberwolves could end up with multiple lottery picks. If that is the case, Conley should be a guaranteed Timberwolf, but if no trade happens tonight, he could go anywhere from Atlanta at 3 to Atlanta at 11.

Daeuqan Cook is a player that should go in the early 20s, but could be taken as high as the Lakers at 19. From what I understand, the Knicks loved him in his workouts with them, but if he were to go there, he would definitely be a project. Cook struggled with the limelight at Ohio State, and in New York, it would only be magnified. He definitely has all of the tools to make it at the next level, but it would probably be to his benefit if he did it in a smaller market than New York.

Ron Lewis will be the most anxious of the three remaining Buckeyes tonight. He won't be drafted in the first round, and he may not even be drafted at all. Apparently, the Bulls liked his defensive ability and athleticism in his workouts, but he is still no guarantee to be picked up by them at the 51st pick. Although he may not be a superstar in the league, his all around ability and more importantly, his will, will carry him far longer than any GM that passes on him expects.

Conley Overrated? In a recent Sports Illustrated article, Luke Winn assesses some of the overrated and underrated prospects in tonight's draft. He states that Acie Law is the underrated point guard, and that Conley is the overrated one. This strikes me as odd, considering every mock draft I've seen has Conley drafted healthily above Law. Winn's main point of argument here is that Law has a better three point shot than Conley. Although that might be true, Conley's impact as a floor general is something that could give him a Chris Paul-like rookie season, and eventually lead him to multiple All-Star games (On a side note, if Conley ends up out West, how cool would it be to see he and Oden play in NBA All-Star games together?). There are tons of shooters in this league. True point guards, however, are a premium. What was the deciding factor in San Antonio's sweep of Cleveland? The fact that San Antonio's point guard won series MVP while Cleveland was a disorganized mess offensively. Steve Nash is bound to win a title here eventually, and Chris Paul nearly led an absolutely awful supporting cast to the playoffs. Meanwhile, some of the featured "shooters" in the league such as Ray Allen, really had no chance from the beginning. I'll take Conley over Law 10 times out of 10.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Buckeye Quarterbacks Preview

Earlier in the year, I made three posts detailing the individual strengths and weaknesses of the three players vying for playing time at the Quarterback position for the Ohio State Buckeyes in the 2007 regular season, the three being Todd Boeckman, Rob Schoenhoft, and Antonio Henton. In short, I was one of the few to jump on the figurative Rob Schoenhoft bandwagon, whereas the majority of the Buckeye faithful were supporting Boeckman for his familiarity with the system or Antonio Henton for the inevitable Troy Smith comparisons. Due to those posts, I strongly toyed with the idea of foregoing the quarterbacks part of my preview, but I decided to go ahead and do it anyways for two reasons: One, those previews were written before the Spring game and practices, and two, it would not look good towards my season preview.

So, without any more babbling, here is the post-Spring edition of the 2007 Buckeye Quarterbacks preview, with a complimentary 1024 x 768 desktop background (click to enlarge).

Projected Starter:
Todd Boeckman
Redshirt Junior
6'5" 235 lbs

Despite never starting a game in his collegiate career -- and only getting to play in mop-up time when he did play -- Todd Boeckman has a strong lead on the starter's job that will only be relinquished as a result of injury. This is simply because of the fact that Boeckman has been a part of the team for a longer period of time than his competition, which is more often than not the deciding factor for Jim Tressel in close position battles. In addition to redshirting as a freshman and spending the next two seasons holding the clipboard, Boeckman grayshirted in 2003, enrolling in the winter as opposed to the fall, and gained an extra bit of college-level conditioning and maturity that could pay huge dividends for a quarterback at a major athletic institution such as Ohio State. At this point in time, the only measurement of comparison between Boeckman and his fellow quarterbacks has been the Spring game, in which Boeckman secured a tight lead on the starting job despite not doing anything spectacular in the game. He went 6-14 for 103 yards with, most importantly, zero interceptions. Boeckman was also the victim of numerous dropped balls in that game, including one deep vertical pass that would have been for over 40 yards if my memory serves me correctly. He showed arguably the best arm of the three in that game, and with a summer of practicing and a couple of tune-up games early in the season, Boeckman should be ready for Big Ten play when it rolls around.

The rest
Robbie Schoenhoft

Redshirt Sophomore
6'6" 240 lbs

Back in February, I declared Schoenhoft -- and not Henton -- the player that would eventually overtake the starting job at some point and solidify himself as the team's true starting quarterback. I still believe that, it just may have to happen through a lengthier, more natural process than I had thought (Boeckman's Graduation). I will not shy away from the fact that I believe his mixture of size, scrambling ability, and after watching the Spring Game, his leadership qualities would make him the most viable option for quarterback if he were a year older. However, he is most likely a year away from being ready for the college game on a consistent basis. He has all the tools to be great, but he just needs some more time to put them all together. If he pans out like I truly expect him to, then I think he will remind a lot of people of a stronger-armed Craig Krenzel. And remember, Krenzel won a championship.

Antonio Henton Redshirt
6'2" 210 lbs

Despite probably beginning the season as the third man on the depth chart at quarterback, Henton will still get his fair share of licks at the collegiate level, if only because the fans will put an insurmountable amount of pressure on Tressel to play the guy that is already being dubbed as, "the next Troy Smith." However, in the Spring Game, Henton played much more like the freshman that he is than Troy Smith. He threw 3 interceptions on 8-16 passing, and also took three sacks (To Henton's defense, however, the offensive line did play poor in that game). Another lingering question regarding Henton is his maturity. In a newspaper article last January, Henton declared that if he were named the starter for the remainder of his college career, he would win the Heisman trophy hands down. As I pointed out in my pre-Spring evaluation, statements that bold are a big no-no in the world of the sports media, and an especially big no-no when Sweatervest is your coach. Henton's biggest advantage over the other two quarterbacks at this point is his mobility. Although Schoenhoft has the ability to roll out of the pocket and avoid sacks, Henton has the kind of legs that can completely change the structure of the game, which was shown by his 38 yards on 9 carries in the Spring game. Expect Henton to see time early, but when the season progresses and the games get close, chances are excellent that he will be watching with the rest of us.

Joe Bauserman
6'2" 215 lbs

Bauserman was initially a member of the 2004 recruiting class, but opted to try his hand at being a professional baseball pitcher instead. After that career path fizzled out, Bauserman walked on to Ohio State in order to give football one last chance. Most scouts say that he has one of the strongest arms that they have ever seen (hence the pitching), but his extended absence from the game raise a lot of questions regarding just about all aspects of his physical and mental capabilities. I highly doubt Bauserman sees the field this year, but he is unquestionably one of the most intriguing prospects on the entire roster.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

If...Then... statements

The way a season turns out is dependent on how some of the more "questionable" links in the system work out. For the most part, we know which players and aspects of the game the Buckeyes are going to be great at next season (kicking, rushing, pass defense, and the always present Tressel-like mental edge in each player's attitude), but it's those things we aren't quite sure about that will tell the tale that is the 2007-08 Buckeye football season. For example, last season, we knew what we were getting out of our offense. Our defense? Not so much. That's why people had us ranked all throughout the top 10 in the preseason polls last season. Unfortunately, there are quite a bit more question marks surrounding the Ohio State football team this season, and I am going to look at the 5 biggest uncertainties in order from least to most critical to a successful year.

Not a site you want to see out of your defensive leader
If the team forgets about Florida, then Ohio State will have a successful season

I am not overly concerned that the returning members will be so paralyzed by memories of the debacle in the desert last January that they won't be able to be the same guys that they were for the first 12 games of the season. Jim Tressel is just too good of a teacher to let those thoughts stick with them, and for the defense especially, it could (and should) be used as motivation. I hope that this new group of leaders on the team can be every bit as good of leaders as last year's captains, but it's something that we may not know until midseason, when Ohio State is losing a game on the road to a Big Ten opponent. Then, will this team do what all the other Jim Tressel teams in the past have done and rise to the occasion, or will they go fetal at the slightest hint of adversity? Again, this may not even be a question at all. After all, it takes a special kind of person to play football for Jim Tressel at Ohio State, and I'm almost positive that this new group of leaders are every bit as mentally strong as past Tressel players. I just need to see it to be certain.

If Doug Worthington gets knocked down this easily in a game, he won't be playing long

If the defensive tackles can step up, then Ohio State will have a great defense
Quinn Pitcock, David Patterson, and Joel Penton have all moved on. Those two captains, and the three top guys on the interior defensive line are no more than just very big shoes to fill. The first man that needs to step it up is Todd Denlinger. Denlinger is the only true defensive tackle that was part of the two-deep last season, and he will be expected to be a workhorse defensively. From what little I have seen from him, he seems to have the motor and motivation to be a great defensive lineman, but whether or not he can do it on every single play remains to be seen. The other defensive tackle spot will almost certainly go to a converted defensive end, which means two things: First, whomever it is will have exceptional athleticism for a defensive tackle, but will be raw at the position. The first candidate is Doug Worthington, a blue chip redshirt sophomore that has had to battle through injuries and being buried on the depth chart to earn his spot. He was listed last season at 274 pounds, a solid 10 pounds lighter than David Patterson, an already undersized defensive tackle. However, he has most likely bulked up in the offseason and could be a monster by the first game. Other potential defensive tackle contributers include ends Alex Barrow and Robert Rose, although Rose will most likely see quite a bit of time as a defensive end. True freshman Cameron Heyward could see some time due to the lack of depth.

Sometimes the easiest catches are the most important ones...But diving catches are always the fun ones to watch.
If the receivers can catch balls, then Todd Boeckman/Robbie Schoenhoft/Antonio Henton will have a much easier time
Let's face it, none of these quarterbacks coming in are going to be the second coming of Troy Smith any time soon. The success that Smith had last season was absolutely remarkable, and he was the closest thing Ohio State fans will see to a perfect quarterback in a long time. These guys are all going to force unnecessary throws into double coverage, get picked off, take sacks, and all the usual inexperienced quarterback stuff. One thing that can make their transition into the college game much easier, however, is having a solid group of receivers to have to throw too. Unfortunately, Ted and Anthony are gone, which means that Brian Robiskie, Brian Hartline, and Ray Small will be the receivers that are relied on for the most part this season; not exactly names that take your breath away. I'm not asking for those three players -- or any receiver on the team -- to be like Ginn or Gonzo, it's unrealistic to ask. However, what I am asking, is that they do what they're getting their college paid for to do: catch the football. Dropped passes can kill a quarterback's confidence, especially one as inexperienced as the three coming in. If the receivers can get open, make catches, and move the chains without making the highlight reel plays that Ginn and Gonzalez did last year, I will be more than pleased with these players.

As the saying goes, "every possession should end in a kick," whether its a field goal attempt, an extra point, or a punt

If the special teams is 2002-2005 good, then Ohio State will win close games
Let's face it, the kicking game last year took a bit of a hit when Huston graduated. Of course, the return game seemed phenomenal, but if you throw out Ginn's return against Florida, the team only averaged about 19 yards per kickoff return. Of course those numbers are skewed slightly due to the opposition's tendency to kick away from Ginn, but the low average does speak volumes about the overall return team's coverage. However, the real surprise in the special teams department last year was, of course, the kicking game. A 69% field goal percentage is nearly unacceptable from a Tressel coached football team. Remember the good ole' days of Mike Nugent and Josh Huston when, as long as the ball got inside the 35 yard line, you were guaranteed at least 3 points? That wasn't the case last year, it's just that Pettrey and Pretorious had one of the country's most dynamic offenses to bail them out and just score touchdowns every time they crossed the 50. Much of the struggles could have been due to the fact that they were both in their first years as a starting kicker for one of the country's premier football teams. Remember, Nugent and Huston weren't all that great when they split kicking duties back in 2001. A near guarantee of getting points on the board when driving down the field will take loads of pressure off of whichever quarterback is leading the way.

Tressel's teaching ability will be paramount in the development of the season
If Jim Tressel settles on a quarterback, then Ohio State will be in a January Bowl game.
Looking back over the past 20 years of college football, it is incredibly rare to find an instance when a carousel of quarterbacks led a team to a successful season (Remember, although Tim Tebow and Chris Leak both played a lot last season, it wasn't like having two separate QBs, Tebow had his own offensive packages designed for him). When a new quarterback comes in in the middle of the game, the whole offense has to adjust to his playing styles. There is no chance for a crew to build a sense of chemistry and camaraderie when the captain of the ship is changing every other possession. We saw what happens when multiple quarterbacks are juggled in 2005 against Texas. Everything just seems out of sync. That is why it is imperative that Tressel settle on a quarterback as early as possible. He'll be able to get away with juggling offensive sets against the inferior out of conference schedule this season (By the way, this is a great season to have a weak schedule, it will really help the quarterback grow for a Rose Bowl run in 2008), but when Big Ten play rolls around, he better have his man. Even if it's the wrong man, I'd much rather have the second best quarterback playing all game long rather than having all three different quarterbacks rotating time all game long.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

An introduction to the most complete and in-depth Buckeye preseason analysis

It has been a rather slow summer so far. With the end of the Cavaliers' season, there is really a limit to what can be discussed on this blog without being redundant or even worse, boring. So, I decided to look back to last summer to see what I posted about to help pass the time. The answer? A series of in-depth Buckeye football previews. So, this year I have decided to one-up myself, going for writing the most complete Buckeye football preview known to mankind (slight exaggeration). Like last year, I will still write a preview of each position every week, but I will attempt to further expand my previewing abilities by also giving additional previews of opponents, other Big Ten teams (with an emphasis on Michigan, of course), and any other topics that come to mind.

For now, this is a preliminary agenda for this preview. Dates and topics are subject to change. If you don't know what something means, you'll just have to wait to see what it is:

Week of 6/24 - Quarterbacks overview, 5 "Ifs" to a successful season, Northwestern and Indiana previews
Week of 7/1 - Backfield, the replacements, Wisconsin and Minnesota previews
Week of 7/8 - Receivers/Tight Ends, the redshirt freshmen, Penn State and Michigan State previews
Week of 7/15 - Out of town
Week of 7/22 - Offensive Line, Underrated and overrated, Purdue and Illinois previews
Week of 7/29 - Defensive Line, players that need to take their game up a notch, Iowa preview
Week of 8/5 - Linebackers, 5 reasons why OSU will flourish, 5 reasons why OSU will flounder
Week of 8/12 - Secondary, the most important player to the team's success, general offensive/defensive expectations
Week of 8/19 - Special Teams, 5,4,3,2,1
Week of 8/26 - Predicting OSU's schedule/How the Big Ten will look, Michigan preview, Youngstown State game preview

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Rule 76: No excuses, play like a champion

For as long as I can remember, every time that I have seen a dramatic game come down to a questionable call by an official, there is always an immediate uproar by fans, players, coaches, and media members alike going to such extremes as calling for said official's head. And, after every time that I've seen this, I always find myself thinking about how petty it is that people can not accept the bottom line that their team did not rise to the occasion, and that they have to blame their team's under-achievements on the refs that, for the most part, did their job and did it pretty damn well. Fortunately for me, the majority of my life has not had a team in a situation like this.

That is, until last night.

With approximately 5 seconds left in game 3 of the NBA finals, the Cavaliers were down three points to San Antonio, and were inbounding the ball at mid-court. Everybody in attendance, everybody watching on TV, everybody in black jerseys, and everybody in white jerseys knew what was coming. Mr. 23 himself, LeBron James, had a chance to be the hero again. The shot was coming, and the Spurs had a foul to give. I mean, it is a logical move, right? With such little time on the clock, a foul would force LeBron to make one free throw, miss his next, rely on someone to get an offensive rebound, and put the ball in the hoop. Bruce Bowen thought the same thing, and when LeBron got that inbound pass, he went straight for the foul. LeBron, seeing this, picked the ball up and began his shooting motion while Bowen fouled, fully expecting to head to the line with a chance to tie the game. But there was a problem for our supposed hero. After jacking up that wild three, there was nothing but the cheers of the crowd, the clinging of the ball against the rim, and the sound of chaos as the outcome of the game died in the hands of a scuffle for the rebound. There was no shrill blow of the whistle, and there were no free throws. The game -- and essentially the Cavaliers' championship hopes -- over.

But you know what? This loss isn't the officials' fault. The foul may have been in plain sight, and it may have been a blown call, but no team that misses as many opportunities in one game (much less an NBA Finals game) as the Cavaliers did last night should expect to win. That missed three pointer can be argued, but what about the other 15 missed three point field goals? Or the fact that San Antonio shot 52.6% from beyond the arc? For such a defensive struggle, you would think that somebody, anybody would stick a hand in Bruce Bowen's face.

This isn't meant to take anything away from the Spurs, however. Parker's jump shot was in rare form, and nobody could have seen Bruce Bowen coming. Of course, the Spurs D was yet again tenacious. This post isn't meant to be a shot at the Spurs, but rather a call to the Cavaliers to -- at least once in this series -- play like they deserve to be here. That's why I titled this post with the famous Wedding Crasher's line "Rule 76: No Excuses, Play Like a Champion." Anybody can blame an outcome on the officiating, that's easy to do. Any team in the NBA can do that. In fact, it's essentially the standard of professional basketball these days. But the Cavaliers are the Eastern Conference champions, and to be on this big of a stage and continue to make excuses puts them on the same level as all the teams sitting at home right now. I'm not asking that this team come back and win the championship, because that's a lost cause at this point. The Spurs have it in the bag and every one knows it. However, what I know that this team is capable of, is turning back into that old Cavalier team that we saw just a couple weeks ago. You know, that team that took an entire city on it's back, and despite being in an 0-2 hole to a much more experienced team, kept their heads on their shoulders and played like a group of professionals that gave a full and complete effort for four straight games? In that series against Detroit, one team displayed the utmost maturity as the other one self-destructed before our eyes. Had you told anyone before this season that the latter would be the Pistons, you would be mocked and laughed at. After that series, I was never more proud to say that I was a fan of that team. Not even when the Buckeyes won the championship in 2002, or when Troy Smith won the Heisman trophy last year.

This series may be a lost cause, but it's never too late to rekindle your pride. I just hope that the Cavs realize that between now and Thursday.

Sunday, June 10, 2007


Not much to say tonight, I just want to make a public congratulation to my friend and schoolmate Jason King, who was drafted in the 48th round by the St. Louis Cardinals in the MLB draft this past week. He will play his college ball at Kansas State if he doesn't sign with the Cardinals. Despite being primarily a shortstop in high school, he was drafted as a right fielder.

My favorite memory of watching Jason play happened in the first game of this past season. I stopped by towards the end of the game, and my beloved Celtics were down a run. In the bottom of the seventh (High School baseball games are only seven innings long), the leadoff hitter got a single, and the next batter got out, sending Jason to the plate with a chance to win it. As he was up, I leaned over to one of my teachers and said "how insane would it be if he went deep here?" to which my teacher replied something along the lines of "Two home runs in one game...a walk-off shot...the guy would be a legend." The next pitch, Jason ripped the ball and immediately threw his arms up in the air celebrating his game winning blast.

The bottom line is, this kid was a born baseball player, and he will be in the show one day. There is no doubt in my mind about it.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Greg Oden: Super Blogger

Oden: Dunker, defender, writer?

As Greg Oden anxiously awaits his big payday (actually, his second big payday), it turns out he has a little time to kill. He is no longer taking class at Ohio State University, so I'm assuming he only has two responsibilities in life at the moment: Don't fall flat on your face in front of NBA Scouts, and don't die.

Of course, that first one is easier said than done, but it looks like at the moment he is making the most of his visit at the NBA Combine in Orlando. Multiple league sources have noted that Oden's biggest challenger for the #1 overall pick, Texas phenom Kevin Durant, performed more than sub-par in his initial workouts in the combine. Based solely on workout performance, Durant was the 78th ranked player out of 80 total. The article does not mention Oden's overall rank, but Oden did finish better than him in multiple drills, including the vertical leap (34 inches to Durant's 33.5), agility drill (11.67 seconds to Durant's 12.33) , and three quarter court sprint (3.27 seconds to Durant's 3.45). Oden very well may have been the big winner at the combine, considering most of his numbers are relatively unheard of from a Center, whereas Durant was the big loser with his aforementioned performance. However, don't expect this combine workout to solidify Oden as the #1 pick or even drop Durant down a few. It doesn't work quite like the NFL Combine. As one scout said about Durant, "No one will care, he's a basketball player. But if you're comparing him to Oden, then yes, Oden is the big winner." Essentially, the NBA comes down to the factor of "Can the kid actually play?" much more so than the NFL Draft, which often times relies on potential to determine one's draft spot.

That other somewhat sarcastic "responsibility" of Oden's that I mentioned? The don't die one? Well, it turns out, with all of his extra time, Greg is taking after yours truly (Okay, so he's not actually taking after me, I just happen to be the experienced veteran in this field), and has started his own blog. How much of this blog is actually original Greg Oden material beats me, but as Sean at AroundTheOval points out, much of it seems to be written by a college freshman, filled with grammatical errors, slang terms, etc. The blog is filled with more than just Oden's (or whoever it is') writings, too. There are multiple Oden highlight reels, which I got much satisfaction from looking back on, with my personal favorite being the block against Tennessee. Needless to say, I'll be adding this to my Blogroll on the sidebar.

Update: Blogger is undergoing some maintenance at the moment, and I am unable to update my sidebar. I will try it again this evening.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Buckeye Recruiting Catch-Up

Fortunately, during my hiatus, I only missed out on covering the commitment of one future Buckeye. That prospect is the newest future Buckeye, linebacker Andrew Sweat. His commitment, undoubtedly, will be cause for many signs and slogans such as "Making the opposition Sweat," or something along those lines.

Despite being from Pennsylvania, most people considered Sweat a Buckeye lock for some time now. As a matter of fact, Jim Tressel's recruiting "fence" that he has had around the state of Ohio for some time now could soon expand into Pennsylvania. Many of the top prospects in the Keystone state list interest in the Buckeyes, and most feel that a number more could commit to Ohio State before it is all said and done. Not only is Terrelle Pryor widely considered the #1 football player in Pennsylvania, but many have him tabbed as the #1 quarterback and #1 overall player in the entire country. He wants to play both football and basketball in college, and with Florida's basketball coaching situation in limbo and most of the other schools in the running being dominated by one sport, one has to like Ohio State's chances with both Jim and Thad recruiting him. Another Blue-Chipper from Pennsylvania, Linebacker Shayne Hale, also has an excellent chance of being a Buckeye before it's all said and done.

Back to the guy that we know is going to be a Buckeye, though, Andy Sweat has the potential to be the next great linebacker at Ohio State. He has great speed and athleticism for his size (6'2" 233 lbs), and oddly enough, his biggest weakness is listed as his ability to shed blocks. If you're wondering why I find that odd, his scouting report is incredibly similar to AJ Hawk's, the only difference is Sweat has a lot more hype coming out of high school. I don't know too much about this kid, but what I do know is that if he is even half the player that Hawk was, Tressel & Co. got a hell of a guy. He also has a 4.3 high school GPA, making him that much more of the perfect recruit for Tressel.

And just for the hell of it, I might as well break out the Photoshop while I'm still here.

I'm back, and hopefully I'm here to stay (so is LeBron)

Today officially ends my posting hiatus. I really shouldn't have to explain why I went so long without posting. After all, this is my blog, and I created to discuss sports as I please. Of course, I also had no idea the popularity that this site would gain when I started up a year ago. To rationalize my posting (or lack thereof), it was simply a fact that I wasn't inspired to write anything. School was winding down, so end of the year projects, final exams, and AP tests were bearing down on me. Track had begun to take over my life for a couple of weeks in May, and my newly appointed role as editor-in-chief of my high school's student newspaper was a lot more responsibility than I had originally expected. This also goes without mentioning the curse that has happened to every student, regardless of age, since the beginning of time: the curse of the calendar. I saw summer on the horizon, and as a result, my priorities became jumbled. Having fun in the sunny Ohio weather became a daily goal of mine, and this site became lost in the mix. But now, I have become re-inspired to post again. The excuses end at the end of this sentence, and hopefully, this site will once again prosper.

In literature, a Bildungsroman is a type of novel in which the young protagonist has a coming of age experience, and is forever changed by the events that unfold within the story. If the Cleveland Cavaliers ever have a book based off of their season, that young protagonist will of course be LeBron James. James' development and maturity as a basketball player from the end of the regular season to this point has been one for the ages. Ever since he entered the league, people have tried to refute the inevitable comparison of LeBron to Michael Jordan, but watching him in the playoffs, it seems as if we actually do have the unthinkable on our hands: The second coming of the greatest basketball player in the history of the league. Sure, it may seem rash to make such a statement after just one series, but looking back on what transpired in the six games of Detroit versus Cleveland, the writing is on the wall of a strikingly similar career path for LeBron to be "Like Mike".

In 1989, Michael Jordan hit perhaps the most famous shot in basketball history when he seemed to defy gravity and put up an off balance jump shot over Cleveland's Craig Ehlo that went in the basket as the buzzer went off, sending Chicago to a dramatic game seven victory over the favored Cavaliers. In game four of that series, Michael Jordan missed a key free throw, causing Chicago to lose, and allowing Cleveland to stretch the series to a deciding seventh game. Of course, no one remembers how Michael "choked" in game four, because the only image that anyone remembers from that series was the game winning shot. It took Jordan a matter of one series to go from hero, down to zero, and back to hero for good. When the words "victory" and "Michael Jordan" are put together in a sentence, there is one scene that should go through everyone's mind, and then send shivers down their backs.

Two shots, two completely different scenarios, equally important.
Back to the present, in game three, LeBron had perhaps an equally career-defining play against Detroit. Although it wasn't as dramatic as Michael's shot, they both sent exact messages of a mix between "This is the new me, and you're going to see a lot of it for the next 10+ years," and "How you like me now, Biatch?" The play I am talking about came with the game tied at 68 in the fourth quarter, with 7:24 seconds remaining. LeBron took the ball at the three point line, found a lane in the Pistons defense, and drove to the hoop with only one thing standing in the way of himself and yet another thunderous dunk to add to his highlight reel: the 6'11" Rasheed Wallace. When all was said and done, LeBron found himself at the free throw line, looking to finish off a three point play. Although he missed the free throw, he gave the Cavaliers a lead that they would never relinquish, and the momentum it provided stretched into the next three games afterwards, and led the Cavaliers to a dramatic come from behind series victory.

That play led all of his critics to instantly start thinking, "maybe this guy isn't the choke that we all thought he was." Of course, despite essentially defying the laws of physics and making the series interesting again, most of these critics were still left unsatisfied.

Then came game six.

In Detroit.

With a chance to give his team a 3-2 lead.

That night (and early morning), was perhaps the climax of this young protagonist's Bildungsroman. It was the point where, despite being an established star in the league, he went from being "One of the best." to, "The best." After racking 48 points, including the final 25 and 29 of the team's last 30, his performance was eerily similar to MJ's 63 point performance against Boston in 1986. Both players were essentially the only offensive producers on their teams, and both were up against one of the best teams in the league (that Boston team featured the likes of Bird, Walton, Parrish, McHale, Johnson, and Ainge among others). The only difference? LeBron won the game, and pretty much the series, with his show. Jordan didn't.

But what does it all mean? Of course, we won't know for years to come. But if LeBron can manage to upset the Spurs on his own in the NBA Finals, then perhaps it could mean that not only were all the comparisons of himself to MJ true, but he could potentially even surpass Jordan. If LeBron wins a title this year, he will do so at the age of 22. Michael didn't get the proverbial monkey off his back until he was 28. Although he still would have a long way to go, and predicting the distant future in professional basketball couldn't be further from an exact science, maybe -- just maybe -- he'll go from the "Next MJ" to the "First LeBron."

As always, comments, critiques, and questions are appreciated. Just make sure to relate it to LeBron and NBA-like issues.