Monday, June 27, 2011

Womens tennis in peril

We hate to say this as we close within seven weeks of the first all-women's New Haven Open tennis tournament, but women's tennis is broken, internationally and particularly in the U.S.
With Monday's Wimbledon ouster of Venus Williams (31), Serena Williams (who turns 30 in September), and Caroline Wozniacki, a paper No. 1, Maria Sharapova is about all that's left of a women's field overall that used to outsizzle the men.
Kim Clijsters is 28 and breaking down, Justine Henin went away, and if not Sharapova at Wimbledon, then who? Literally, who?
We daresay the spotlight on women's tennis is climbing precariously close to the LPGA Tour. Someone named Yani Tseng won her fourth major at the age of 22 Sunday on the LPGA Tour, and no one's even heard of her.
We understand that tennis is cyclical, but with Venus and Serena almost off the map, it's reached danger zone proportion, particularly as New Haven tries to trump up it's new era of women's-only tennis.
Wozniacki is a wonderful addition to the local field, but at some point, and maybe already, she's more notable for failing to live up to her No. 1 ranking in grand slam events than any other thing she's done. We hope the inevitable scrutiny and negative questions don't turn her sunny side down, but she's in for a rough go -- and deservedly so.


Thursday, June 23, 2011

Thoughts on four first round point guards

A couple of random thoughts on the NBA draft:
Haven’t seen enough of Knicks No. 1 pick, Iman Shumpert of Georgia Tech, to give a thumbs up or down on the pick, but for a guy who is supposed to be a point guard, his assist/turnover ratio is stunningly poor.
As a junior last year, he averaged 3.5 assists to 2.3 turnovers, which is dreadful. If you’re not at close to 2-to-1, or better, it’s a red flag. And Shumpert wasn’t even close to that. For his career, he averaged 1.36 assists to every turnover; worse last year (1.33-1).
From the sound of it, it looks like the Knicks took a guy who’s more of an athlete than basketball player. That almost never works.

Draft analysts who should know better kept saying that Kemba Walker and Jimmer Fredette aren’t really point guards and Brandon Knight is.
Switch all of that around.
Walker has been a point guard from the moment he stepped on the UConn campus, and just because he was asked to pick up the scoring alongside a bunch of freshmen doesn’t mean he was anything less than a pure point guard. He’d be the last guy I’d call a shoot-first point guard. The guy couldn’t even shoot his first two years.
Even last year, when he carried much of the scoring load, his assist/turnover ratio was 2-to-1.
Fredette is a shoot-first point guard, but every time I watched him he was able to get into the paint against guys who are supposedly too quick for him. His assist/turnover ratio wasn’t ideal, (1.47-1), but so many of his turnovers came because of his need to force things scoring-wise.
Knight’s game picked up at Kentucky when he did what he does best – create off the dribble for his own shot. He wasn’t getting the ball back from his teammates at Kentucky anyway when he tried to be a distributor the first half of the year, so he figured, what the heck.

Mets medics pathetic

Should anyone be surprised that Mets first baseman Ike Davis might be out the season with a three week injury? Almost without fail, the team's medical staff either misdiagnosis a player's injury, or misdiagnosis the period of recovery.
Carlos Beltran became so confused and disillusioned by the Mets medical staff, he had knee surgery prior to the 2010 without consulting the team.
David Wright was supposed to resume baseball activities in 10 days after suffering a stress fracture in his back in mid-May. We’re now into his second month on the shelf.
As far back as 2004, Jose Reyes went out with a hamstring injury that was supposed to keep him out three-four weeks, tops. Months later, after one futile attempt at a return, they spent half the summer trying to teach him to run differently. If that don’t beat all. Reyes played only 53 games that year.
Again in 2009, Reyes suffered a hamstring injury that kept him out months, not weeks. Everywhere else, hamstring injuries seem to run their course within a month with proper medical supervision. Carlos Delgado, Ryan Church and Billy Wagner, all pivotal to the team’s success, fell victim to the curse of the Mets medical expertise over the last two or three years.
It’s a long list and it ultimately fall on the shoulders Jeff Wilpon, who would rather keep buddies than hire professionals to do the job right the first time.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Meddlesome Knicks owner fouls out again

It may not be completely accurate to say that Donnie Walsh was forced out as Knicks GM, but Walsh refused to be James Dolan's puppet and went out on his own terms. The sad thought is that if Walsh was left to his own ingenuity this past season, the team wouldn't have flinched first when Denver asked for the candy store for Carmelo Anthony - and the Knicks would have gotten Anthony anyway.
Instead of leaving the negotiations to his professional, Dolan interceded and clucked first in a game of chicken with the Nuggets. The deal Dolan made had thumb print of Isiah Thomas writting all over it, a la the Stephon Marbury, Eddy Curry and Steve Francis fiascos.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Spurrier recommends player stipend without thinking

How can so many of the best football coaches in the SEC be so obtuse when it comes to paying a stipend to their student athletes? South Carolina's Steve Spurrier revealed a plan, signed by six other coaches from his conference, including Alabama's Nick Saban, LSU's Les Miles and Old Miss' Houston Nutt, that called for up to 70 players to be paid $300 per game, out of the coaches pocket. That comes to $21,000 a game and somewhat over quarter of a million dollars for the season.
Now, boys, how in the world is that going to fly through Title IX? You tell me the courts, so vigilant in their protection of gender equity, are going to allow football players to make thousands of dollars a year and not the women's basketball players and women's soccer players and women's ice hockey players and field hockey players and volleyball players?
We haven't even mention all the other men's teams that have to get paid, or gotten into the question of where's the money going to come to play the non-revenue generating sports? By the time they pay the student-athletes, coaches effectively will be working for free.
Before you do any of the math, just accept the fact that sports departments across America would be going broke if the plan of Spurrier and a few good old boys from the SEC, was ratified.
Maybe Spurrier is actually so much of relic that he can't grasp the little matter called gender equity, or maybe he's just doing it to draw attention. Either way, his suggestion is dumb and his college president should have enlightened him within minutes of his grand plan.