Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Bowe Takes Bow; Makes History

Through week 7, the Chiefs were

#1 in rushing yards/game
#6 in net points
#1 in sacks given up
#7 in defense points allowed/game
the Vegas favorite for winning the AFC West

- - -

Through week 12, the Chiefs are

#1 in rushing yards/game
#9 in net points
#4 in sacks given up
#14 in points allowed
but #4 in points scored
are not the favorite for winning the division

For what's worth, the headline for that post was "Chiefs 4-2, Chargers 2-5." Now the Chiefs are 7-4, but the Chargers are 6-5. They could finish 11-5.

If the Chiefs lose at San Diego (likely) then even if they finished 11-5, or 10-6, they probably won't win the division. Every win counts, both for the division race and for wild-card spots.

Oh yeah, and the rushing yards...it's not close:

5-0 at home, Denver, Tennessee, Oakland remaining
2-4 on road, San Diego, St. Louis remaining

Chiefs finally get their second road win. And in style.

Rushing yards: 270 to 20.

That's not a misprint. Matt Cassel had more rushing yards on five scrambles than the entire Seahawks team.

Jones gets 20 attempts = 68 yards.
Charles gets 22 attempts = 173 yards and a key touchdown via stiff-arm.

So based on those stats, the running game must have been the difference...

Cassel 4 TDs and no INTS.
Bowe 13 for 170 and 3 TDs.

And yet the Seahawks were only down 4, with the ball at their own 38 with 7 minutes to go in the 3rd quarter. What turned out to be a blowout in the 4th, could have been a nailbiter. The Seahawks special teams bailed them out, blocking a KC field goal and then blocking a punt and returning it for the score.

The Chiefs D forced Seattle to be one-dimensional, and even thought they got burned for a deep play, KC had two interceptions and another that was overturned by replay.

- - -

Game balls were easy this week: same as last week.

#3: Jamaal Charles

Fantastic day, could have been #1 here, but people already know about him. What people don't know is that he's the best running back in the NFL this year. 2nd in yards to Arian Foster, but look closer.

Foster: 5.1 yards/carry
Charles: 6.3 yards/carry

#2: Matt Cassel

Best TD-to-INT ratios in the league? Vick with 13/1 and Brady with 23/4. Next best? Matt Cassel with 22/4.

By comparison, Rivers with MVP chatter is at 23/9.

#1: Dwayne Bowe

He's #1 in TDs, #5 in yards. So far this year, the best receivers have been White, Lloyd and Bowe in some order.

And the 7-game stretch that he's on (13 touchdown and still active) has only been matched by two players since the merger.

Jerry Rice: 16 touchdowns (strike-shortened 1987 season)
Sterling Sharpe: 13 touchdowns

This has been a special season for Bowe and the most enjoyable as a fan in a long time.

Monday, November 29, 2010

return of the thanksgiving leftover sandwich

A year ago, I had the first annual thanksgiving leftover sandwich.

Well, this year we planned the menu. And I made sure to have stuffing and sweet potatoes--plus this year, plenty of maple/brown sugar sauce.

My bread choice this year was inspired--a quartet of joined Hawaiian Rolls, sliced. Starting from the bottom, I added a thin layer of mayo, then white and dark meat. On top of that is my homemade stuffing (that includes apple, celery, onion, pecans and dried cranberries). And then the topper is my also homemade sweet potatoes, with a generous serving of sweet sauce.

As you can see in this action shot below, I sacrificed a little bit of structural integrity in favor of flavor with the choice of Hawaiian Rolls. But it was worth it. The best way to eat it was to sit it upright, to minimize lifting. A++++ WOULD DO AGAIN.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Game Balls: I Was There Edition

I'd love to sit here and talk about how great the first-place Chiefs are, or how dominant they are at home, now 5-0. But this game was really more about how the Cardinals aren't very good and didn't show up.

The Cards got the ball first and drove into field goal position on their first drive. They could have had a touchdown, but Doucet couldn't bring it down. Then the Chiefs punted on their first two posessions. So the Cardinals O had the ball three times in the first quarter, with their defense holding strong. But they couldn't make plays.

All day their receivers were open, several times open deep past the last Chiefs defender, and the ball was overthrown or just inaccurate. A better quarterback would have made this one a shootout.

A couple thoughts about watching it in person. The Chiefs corners always play on the same side: Flowers (#1 CB) on the defense's left side, Carr (#2) on the right. And the Cardinals would move Fitzgerald around. What I don't understand is why they didn't put Fitz up against Carr and keep throwing it there. Their run game was effective and our safeties were coming up to play the run and biting on fakes. It seemed like Arizona should have been able to move the ball better throw the air.

Another thing that was easier to visualize in-person was the field position battle. On the Chiefs 2nd posession, they started at the KC 20 and got to the ARI 49 before punting. The punt was fair caught at the ARI 8. The defense forced a 3 and out and a punt on 4th and 12 that Arenas returned to the ARI 38. So Thomas Jones got the ball to midfield, Succop pinned them deep, the defense held, and Arenas returned it past the point where the Chiefs punted previously. Next play, crossing pattern to Bowe, who runs after the catch to the 1 yard line.

This game was 31-6 until the final play, but it was only 14-3 at halftime. And late in the 3rd it was only 21-6. Down two posessions, the Cardinals had a 3rd and 2 at the KC 35. Not that far from making it a 8-point game. Incomplete to Fitz and now it's 4th and 2 and they're going for it.
The crowd, which was super loud from the very beginning--much better than the 2007 crowd, kicks it up a notch. This place is rocking. Arizona hikes the ball, some people stop moving, and it looks like KC sacks the QB. Ref comes in and says that KC took a timeout before the play, so it's still 4th and 2. And now there's a flag. I'm thinking it must be a roughing the passer penalty even though there wasn't a play. The call was a personal foul, unsportsmanlike conduct against Derek Anderson. So now it's 4th and 17 and they're punting, and that was their last chance.

- - -

As for game balls, you'd think when the defense keeps them out of the endzone for 59:57, they did something great. But Anderson had 295 passing yards and should have had more if he could have hit wide open receivers. I found a picture of what I was talking about:

On to the game balls:

#3: Jamaal Charles

Not a huge fantasy day, but he had a 25-yard catch and run that set up the Chiefs 2nd TD and a 39-yard run that set up the Chiefs 3rd TD. And he had a couple of nice plays to extend drives on third down. On a run-first team, he's the star running back.

#2: Matt Cassel

This is his first ever HC game ball--I'm sure he'll treasure it always. Don't look now, but Cassel is 7th in the NFL in passer rating, ahead of Rodgers, Romo, Manning, Brees, Ryan, Freeman, Fitzpatrick. And in the group of QBs with 100 completions, only 4 players have 4 or less INTs: Vick, Brady, Roethlisberger, Cassel. Of QBs with 200 attempts, it's only Brady and Cassel. His TD to INT ratio is second only to Brady.

He's not at the top of the list in passing yards, but he's doing exactly what this team needs him to. Move the ball, protect the ball, get touchdowns instead of field goals.

#1: Dwayne Bowe

He's 12th in receiving yards, #1 in touchdowns. And he just set a franchise record:

- - -

So the Chiefs are back in first, but can they win the division? Here's how I see their schedule playing out:

W vs DEN
L @ SD
W vs TEN
W vs OAK

That puts the Chiefs 10-6 and 3-3 in the division.

The threat for the division is the Chargers. Here's their schedule, with my projections:

W vs OAK
W vs KC
W vs SF

That puts San Diego 10-6, and 4-2 in the division. Which, according to this, would mean the Chargers are the AFC West champs.
There's a lot of football yet to be played, but the Chiefs are going to keep playing great at home and step it up on the road if they want to be playing in January.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

KC BBQ: Episode IV

I should have taken pictures.

My father-in-law asked me right before we left, if I was going to have any barbecue. The question should have been: am I going to eat a meal that isn't barbecue.

Saturday night, after the College Basketball Experience, we had Oklahoma Joe's carry-out. This did nothing to change my opinion of OK Joe's. It really is OK. The brisket was probably the best, the ribs were fine and there was nothing wrong with the sausage. All of it was perfectly adequate. But is that what you look for in a meal?

Next stop was the Burnt End Cheesesteak and the Short Rib Melt at Arrowhead. The Cheesesteak was far better and cheaper. Solid stadium choice.

Sunday night we went to Jack Stack. This was the first time that I got to eat in. I chose it because it has the best birthday dinner atmoshphere. There was a waiter, Brit got her choice of plenty of good food (fried mushrooms + spinach salad). Plus, I don't think it's fair to judge carryout only vs eat-in.

I opted for the two meat combo, that includes two sides (I chose fries and beans). For my meats, I picked sliced beef brisket and burnt ends. And I asked for a mixture of pork and beef burnt ends, so I really got three meats, though two portions. The meal came with a slice of perfectly golden Texas Toast, a nice step up from the usual piece of Wonder bread that bbq joints usually serve. And I asked for extra sauce, original and spicy.

It seems as there are two schools of thought on burnt ends. Gates, Arthur Bryants, and Smokehouse all serve a saucy, crispy mixture that looks quite shredded. Jack Stack, Arrowhead Cheesesteak, and LC's all serve big chunks, about 1-inch cubes of meat. I've had good and bad of both variety.

Jack Stack has the best of the cubed variety. They are so tender and well-cooked, you feel like you could just keep popping them in your mouth. Their sliced beef was the best looking I've ever seen. So uniform, you could tell they cook and carve with precision. And the Texas Toast complimented the meat nicely. The fries are solid, and the beans are outstanding, with big chunks of meat. As for the sauce, I thought the original was a little bland, but the spicy version made up for it.

To sum up, high quality, nice presentation, everything tasted great. But...well let's come back to this in a moment.

On our way out of town, on my birthday, I wanted Gates. We pulled in at 12:15 pm, and there weren't any parking spots. I run in and the line is 20 deep. But it moves quickly. Before too long, "HI MAY I HELP YOU?" "BURNT END ON BUN!" I also added an order of fries and potato salad for Brit.

This was the first time I've ordered the burnt end sandwich. I don't think there's anything better. For $5.85, you get a sandwich that is shaped like a Jimmy John's, generously piled with their shredded ends of a brisket. I'm not sure how else to describe how good this was. Each bite had the flavor magnified. It was incredible. How had I not had this before? Their fries are always good, and I love all their sauces.

So this what I was getting at when trying to sum up Jack Stack. They know what they're doing and they have it down to a science. But at Gates, it's an art. They cook with soul. And love. And in every bite it feels like you're getting something special, something that's home-cooked and just for you.

Jack Stack
Pork Burnt Ends: A+
Beef Burnt Ends: A-
Beef Brisket: A
Beans: A+
Fries: A-
Overall: A

Burnt End on Bun: A++
Fries: A
Overall: A+

For The Record:
Gates, eat-in, Overland Park (11/22/10): A+
Arthur Bryant's, eat-in, Kansas City (4/21/10): A+
Gates, eat-in, Overland Park (2/13/09): A+
Jack Stack, eat-in, Overland Park (11/21/10): A
Jack Stack, carryout, Overland Park (10/6/07): A
Gates, stadium, Arrowhead (10/7/07): A
Oklahoma Joe's, eat-in, Overland Park (10/6/07): A-
Oklahoma Joe's, eat-in, Kansas City (4/23/10): A-
Corky's, eat-in, Memphis (5/24/08): A-
Carsons, eat-in, Chicago (2/7/09): A-
Jack Stack, carryout, Overland Park (2/13/09): A-
Smokehouse BBQ, eat-in, Overland Park (2/14/09): A-
Smoke Daddy, eat-in, Chicago (5/23/09): B+
Rum Boogie Cafe, eat-in, Memphis (5/25/08): B+
Neely's, eat-in, Memphis (5/25/08): B
LC's, eat-in, Kansas City (4/24/10): B-
Blues City Cafe, eat-in, Memphis (5/24/08): C

life doesn't get better than this

Or if it does, then it might be too much for me to bear.

Our trip to Kansas City started on Saturday. First stop: College Basketball Experience.

I had been there before in April. This visit was just as good. My favorite events are the dunk zones and the buzzer beater station. Brit came with me and she enjoyed the free throw contest. During one I got in a groove and made about 10 in a row, ended up with 20 free throws in 60 seconds. (The high score at the time was 26, so I was happy with that.)

That night we met up with some of Brit's family, and had a family-style carryout barbecue dinner.

Sunday morning: game time!

We arrived at new Arrowhead at 10:45. $22 for parking.

Entered the stadium and went looking for the new Chiefs Hall of Honor.

It's a brand new, large exhibit that is pretty well done. The one drawback is that it's surrounded by concessions, so it's extra crowded and didn't feel like a mini-Canton because of it. But they did have a lot of cool stuff on display, had large screens playing classic Chiefs clips on the walls and ceiling, and of course, nice busts honoring the best Chiefs.

As for the rest of the stadium, it looked nice. A lot of new art throughout the concourse, and the concessions were redone. I had done my research and had even voted for a new sanwdwich item--a short rib melt with parmesan-crusted bread. So imagine my face when I show up the concessions in our upper deck section, and there is no sandwich to be found. It's maybe 20 minutes to kickoff and there's not even any barbecue stations up here. Sure they had burgers and hot dogs, but the only barbecue option was a "burnt end cheesesteak." So what the hell, I got it.

Found our seats, 301, row 28, seat 13/14, right on the 50 yard line and dug in to this mystery cheesesteak. So good! Why isn't this on ever poster throughout the concourse?

I did film two pre-game videos: the guitar solo national anthem and the intro video.

I'll talk about the actual game in a separate post, but obviously it was a great game to see. Some nice big plays for the Chiefs and basically no mistakes.

At haltime, I ran down to the Club Level to check out the fancy suites and then down to lower deck where I found the new Short Rib Melt. Despite being $11, it was not nearly as good as the $8.50 cheesesteak.

Great game, though it wasn't very tense in the second half. But I'm not complaining. The only other W Brit and I have seen together, came in week 17 against a Bengals team that wasn't trying, and wasn't enough to get us into the playoffs. So this was the best team performance we've seen.

After relaxing at a mall, we went to dinner at Jack Stack Barbecue, and hit Gates for lunch on Monday (my actual birthday) on our way out of town. Again, more on that later.
But great game, great food, great fun, great weekend. What more could I ask for?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Injury Report for Chiefs-Cardinals

Dave Fymbo P

He'll be fighting through a barbecue coma ALL WEEKEND. We'll see how limited he is in practice at the College Basketball Experience on Saturday.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

this performance deserves its own post: volume 2

Mark set a new season record, and within a half a point of last year's all-time record (though last year we had milestone bonuses, so this is more impressive). And to think, he did all this with mediocre stats from his running backs and a zero from his tight end.

Mark is clearly the best all-time at fantasy. Though Stevo has been really good in both seasons, as well. But before Mark's head gets too big, he did lose to me and Burnsy in the two weeks that really mattered, and will get his face smacked with a burrito because of it.

Monday, November 15, 2010

back to school

(warning: possibly TMI)

It actually was a great weekend.

It was nice to go back to Memorial Stadium for the first time since as a student. And it was nice to be up 10 with 8 minutes to go. Of course, it was unfortunate that Minnesota came back and won in the last minute. But hey, you can't have a more traditional Illini experience than watching them lose a Big Ten game in crushing fashion.

Also, the 3-in-1 halftime show without the Chief is unequivocally boring. They need to do something about that. You can't just erase the best part of the show and not add anything to replace it.

I did get a fantastic pulled pork sandwich at the game for $5. Impressive that I could find good stadium food that's cheaper than I could get for lunch in Oak Park/Chicago.

Though I wasn't really sure if I should get it or not. Since I was still suffering from what we're calling "a stomach flu." Friday night at 9 pm, when everyone had arrived and was ready to start the party, I'm curled up in our hotel bed with the following symptoms: diarrhea, nausea, fever, feeling severely cold, vomiting, headache and overall weakness. So that was fun.

Still not back to 100%. When we were throwing the football on the Quad on Sunday, I wanted to run pass routes but didn't have the energy.

Did I mention that I had to stop at 3 toilets during the 2.5 hour car ride on the way there?

Needless to say, I didn't finish either night with a Long Island and a Magic Pizza.

After the Illini's close loss, I was looking forward to watching the Chiefs-Broncos, since it was going to be on CBS in Chicago. After leaving Champaign, we arrived in Oak Park about 4pm. Sure enough I walked in and had only missed the first 20 minutes of the game. Awesome. The score? 28-0. Gah!

The good news about giving up 3 touchdowns in the first quarter is you have time to come back. So I watched the Chiefs drive down the field in to the red zone--where Cassel got sacked, fumbled, and was returned for a Broncos TD. 35-0. Good thing I wasn't at that game.

Also, good that my fantasy team got blown out, because the -10 points the Chiefs D gave me would have stung more in a close game.

All of that, and it actually was a really fun weekend. Oh yeah, Missy spoke gibberish for 2 minutes straight and last night we found a mouse in our house.

Friday, November 12, 2010

gotta know when to hold 'em, when to fold 'em, know when to walk away

Brett Favre could have left a hero, with his name at the top of the record books. He didn't. Instead he spent off-seasons getting handjobs from Peter King and sent dick pictures (from one attention whore to another.)

I wanted to go back, and dig to chronicle the Brett Favre retirement history. Luckily, he's done it so much that Time made a list and NBC Sports has a tracker.

- - -

2006 Season

Jan. 30, 2006
"If I had to pick right now and make a decision, I'd say I'm not coming back."

The headline for that ESPN story is "Favre says he's leaning toward retirement." Amazing that this started before the 2006 season.

The Packers go 8-8.

2007 Season

"If today's my last game, I want to remember it. It's tough. I'll miss these guys. I'll miss this game."

Favre had a great season, leading the Packers to a 13-3 record. He broke Marino's record for touchdown passes and passing yards. He also beat the Chiefs, giving him the landmark of defeating all 31 opposing teams. (He also set the career interception mark.)

The Packers hosted the NFC Championship game against the Giants. Favre threw an interception in overtime that set up the Giants game-winning field goal.

2008 Season

On March 4, 2008, Favre formally announced his retirement.

Apr. 4, 2008
"I have no idea where that came from, but it certainly didn't come from me. I'm happy about my decision and I haven't once said, 'I wonder if I made the wrong decision.' I know it's the right one. It's kind of funny. Even when I'm retired, they won't let me stay retired."

-- Favre, in an interview with SI.com regarding claims that his agent is making inquiries to other teams about a trade from the Packers

July 2, 2008
"It's all rumor."
-- Favre, regarding claims that his family wants him to keep playing

Aug. 7, 2008
Favre becomes a New York Jet.

The Jets start out 8-3, but miss the playoffs finishing 9-7. Favre threw 8 picks and 2 scores in those final five games. Somewhere in there, he sent some messages.

2009 Season

Feb. 12, 2009
Despite the Jets GM insisting he wants Favre to return, Favre retires again.

May 8, 2009
Favre has a meeting with the Vikings to "tell them he's staying retired." Now I'm not so sure that they didn't have a meeting and Favre explained how he wants to play for them, but that he won't join the team until after training camp.

July 28, 2009
Childress tells everyone that Favre is staying retired.

Aug. 18, 2009
Favre becomes a Minnesota Viking.

Favre beats the Packers, becoming the only QB to defeat all 32 current franchises. Favre leads the Vikings to a 12-4 record and they reached the NFC Championship Game. His interception in the final minutes of regulation set up overtime, where the Vikings would fall to the Saints.

2010 Season

Aug. 3, 2010
Favre tells Vikings he's retiring.

Aug. 17, 2010
Favre rejoins Vikings.

Vikings are 3-5 and an injured Favre should have benched if Childress wasn't so concerned with protecting Favre's streak.

November 11, 2010
Favre says he won't return for 2011.

- - -

So there you have it. This bullshit has been going on for five years, and it's still not done. Forgive me if I'm not fawning all over this latest rumor.

But seriously, all he had to do was not sign with the Jets in 2008. He already had the record for touchdown and passing yards. He took the Packers to the NFC Championship in a great season. He would have retired and had everything in Green Bay named after him forever.

Instead he goes to New York and sends pictures of his cock, then goes to rival Minnesota, throwing more game-ending interceptions, all the while continuing to be a drama queen. Talk about a legacy.


Here are things I thought about tweeting, but thought they might be over the line for my LinkedIn audience.

People say Jay Leno is worse than AIDS. That's not fair. He's probably somewhere between HPV and chlamydia.

Note to audience of Maybelline commercial: Guys don't give a shit about how long your lashes are.

Monday, November 08, 2010

choke city

Making fun of other teams for choking away games is WAY more enjoyable when your team doesn't choke away the game.

There were several opportunities for both the Chiefs and Raiders to decisively win yesterday. Bowe had a pass go through his hands that would have let KC run out the clock. Later, with 24 seconds left in regulation, instead of holding on to an interception, Flowers deflects a pass to the Raiders receiver which sets up the game-tying field goal. Not to mention all the chances in the 2nd quarter to get a bigger lead.

So now the Chiefs are still in first but only at 5-3. Remaining schedule:

Home: Cardinals, Broncos, Titans, Raiders
Away: Broncos, Seahawks, Chargers, Rams

10-6 is possible, but doesn't look as easy given the Chiefs 1-3 road record.

Hmmm...what can cheer me up?

- - -

How about making fun of the Lions?

With 9 minutes left in the 3rd, they score a touchdown taking the lead at 13-10 over the Jets. (To that point the only Jets offense was a 74-yarder to Braylon Edwards right before halftime.) But the Lions kicker was injured two plays prior.

It would seem your two options would be to send out the only other "kicking player"--your punter--to kick the PAT, or go for two.

But the Lions spit in the face of conventional wisdom. They want to kick the PAT, but in style. They send out 300-lb defensive lineman Suh. He's their backup kicker, of course! He doinks it off the upright. It's okay, there's not much difference between a 3-point lead and a 4-point lead in the NFL. I'm sure it won't come back to haunt them.

With 7 minutes to go in the 4th, the Lions D forces a punt. Now Detroit has the ball, up 10, at home in the closing minutes. At this point I actually said, "that's a shame, I was hoping that Suh extra point would matter."

On 2nd down, Stafford scrambles--and his shoulder is scrambled eggs. In comes Drew Stanton. Punt. Jets TD.

Lions get ball with 2:40. Run, run, incomplete, punt.

Jets get ball with under 2 minutes, drive down field including a personal foul on Lions. They get to the 18-yard line with 4 seconds left. Good thing they're only down 3. Field goal, overtime, Jets win in OT.

- - -

I do feel better now.

Friday, November 05, 2010

important week for james delmar

I'm not Nostradamus. My 2008 prediction of who would win the 2010 World Series didn't come true. In Autopilot, the Anaheim Angels won it all. So for a realistic rewrite, I would need to write a joke about the Giants.

Anyways, this weekend is an important one for Mr. Delmar. It's the weekend that the clocks get pushed back. [SPOILERS]

Thursday, November 04, 2010

vote for the supersonic ESPY play of the year

The 2009 Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle-Car ESPY went to "The Save."

Who will win this year? There are 7 nominees for 2010:

"The Ricochet" Self-explanatory.

"The Maradona" This was a coast-to-coast goal that included hurdling an opponent in the beginning.

"From the Corner" The ball is sinking away from the goal, I'm driving directly into the corner and get a tip at an angle that doesn't seem possible.

"The Assist" This is the first goal highlight where I didn't score. I push it up the flank, evade the opposition and center it for a teammate. It's even cooler if you imagine this as a real soccer field--I kept it in bounds the whole time.

"The Racquetball Goal" This was one that I was trying to get for a while. I played it hard off my own back wall and it went in without anyone touching it--though I did have to clear a path.

"The Save II" Off a kickoff, I did the only thing I could do.

"The Premonition" I'm the red car that scores this goal off the kickoff. I jumped into the perfect spot before anyone touches the ball.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

illini basketball 10-11 preview

On 10.31.09 I wrote:

2001-02 Football: Sugar Bowl
2004-05 Basketball: Championship Game

2007-08 Football: Rose Bowl

If you believe in patterns, you should get excited about the 2010-11 Illini Basketball team.

- - -

First a bit of background on recruiting rankings. Before the incoming players of 2009, here was how Illinois had ranked according to Rivals.com.

2008 Commits: not in top 30
2007 Commits: not in top 30
2006 Commits: not in top 25
2005 Commits: not in top 25
2004 Commits: not in top 45
2003 Commits: #19

Basically, their records don't go back far enough, or deep enough to show the Illini recruiting classes.

But first some case studies to see if these are helpful guides.

Case Study #1: The 2009-10 Duke Blue Devils

They won the Championship. Looking at the championship box score, 5 guys played almost the whole game: Scheyer, Smith, Singler, Thomas and Zoubek.

Here was the incoming class of 2006 for Duke:

And 2007:

The #5 class for 2006 and #8 for 2007. And all five championship starters were identified four years prior as some of the best in the country.

Case Study #2: The 2008-2009 MSU Spartans

They lost in the Championship game. They had a larger rotation, led by Lucas, Summers and Suton.

They picked up Suton in 2004 and red-shirted him:

Here's 2006:

And 2007:

So across four years, they had three classes in the 11-20 range which eventually got them to the national championship game.

- - -

Last year we welcomed the incoming Illini of 2009:

Richardson (p-town!) and Paul headlined last year's freshmen; Bertrand was red-shirted. The #14 ranked class was the best on record for Illinois.

This year our freshman class is ranked even better, at #13:

Here's a rough look at our 2010 roster/rotation:

C - Tisdale, Senior
F - Davis, Senior
G - McCamey, Senior
G - Richardson, Sophomore
G - Paul, Sophomore
F - Griffey, Sophomore
F - Richmond, Freshman
C - Leonard, Freshman
G - Head, Freshman

With senior leadership and young depth, this team has a lot of potential. And because I trust Vegas on these sort of things, here are the futures for this year's final four:

According to Vegas, there are 9 teams with better odds. We're at the same level as 8 other teams before the next tier--so in the top 17. We're currently ranked 16th, so that seems about right for a preseason projection. They've got us as the 3rd best team in the Big Ten, behind MSU and OSU.

- - -

Here's the thing though. Signing for next year's team is already going on/almost done. And for next year, we're ranked even better:

So to take an early look at the 2011-12 roster:

G - Richardson, Junior
G - Paul, Junior
F - Griffey, Junior
F - Richmond, Sophomore
C - Leonard, Sophomore
G - Head, Sophomore
F - Henry, Freshman
G - Abrams, Freshman
F - Shaw, Freshman
C - Egwu, Freshman

Or as the cool Illini blog A Lion Eye put it:

And since the 2011-12 team doesn't have any seniors, unless some leave early, the the 2012-13 team should only get better.

To sum up: The next four years of Illini basketball should be pretty darn good.

Monday, November 01, 2010

I have to give credit to the Lions

They were down 14-19 with 8 minutes to go.

Touchdown to Megatron, give up kickoff return, touchdown to Megatron on 4th down, defensive stop on 4th down, kick a field goal and now the Lions are up 31-25 with 1:45 to go.

So Mike Shanahan...wait for it...benches McNabb to put in Rex Grossman?

First play with Grossman in the game? Sack, fumble, Suh touchdown. And Detroit wins 37-25.

(Though Suh did do his best Leon Lett impression and could have had the ball stolen.)

With Stafford in the lineup, plus Megatron, Best, and Suh, they're not a bad team. Still going to owe me a burger, but still, not a bad team.