John Mania: Volume Two

– It starts this weekend. Last year, John Mania rolled through the regular season, chalking up a perfect 4-0 record. Then, the playoffs rolled around. We were poised for a run deep into the tourney. Unfortunately, a random draw for a 4-0 team who missed the playoff meeting resulted in the toughest first round match-up possible. I can’t remember exactly what their team name was, but I do remember that it was a seven person team with six guys from the Missouri Club Basketball squad (and the seventh guy played on a traveling team with the other six – they had their own uniforms). Even with that significantly difficult draw and a mismatch at virtually every position, we played a heck of a game. Late in the second half, we even had a lead. Unfortunately, all of our best effort was not quite enough. We fell by two points, the first step on the way to an intramural title for them.
This season, we are looking for a repeat of the regular season. And after another perfect season, we are banking on a better draw in the playoffs. If that falls into place for us, Little Guy and I think we’ve assembled a squad that will make some noise come playoff time. I will keep you, my loyal readers, posted on the success of Volume Two.

– Jason Sobel thinks Tiger doesn’t enjoy golfing anymore. Thinks he might never come back. I disagree, but he makes quite a few compelling arguments defending his theory. His most compelling, in my mind:

“Think about it: If Woods loved the game, wouldn’t he seek solace from his damaged personal life in the familiar confines of a tournament? Wouldn’t he attempt to claim some sense of normalcy in an all-too-irregular life by getting back to the one thing he does better than anyone else?”

I know that, when everything else seems to be getting tougher and tougher, nothing helps me leave it all behind like 18 holes. I absolutely love golf. It is the most frustrating sport ever, but I can’t think of anything I enjoy more. The focus and concentration takes everything else off your mind, and what better escape than the beauty of a golf course?
I realize a tournament may be more hectic than that, but Sobel goes on to point out that Tiger doesn’t even tee it up when he’s on vacation. Sure, he’s the best player in the game. He works harder than anyone else in the game. But – and Sobel raises this same question – does that speak to his passion for the game or just his work ethic? “He’s a perfectionist in a sport in which perfection doesn’t exist,” says Sobel. How perfectly does that put it? If there’s anyone that wants nothing more than perfection, it’s Tiger. Don’t you think it’d be frustrating to spend your entire life striving for perfection, even though you know it’s impossible?
And, if Tiger doesn’t play the game because he loves it, where does his motivation come from? He already has enough money to live the rest of his life in the same extravagant fashion he does now, even with divorce settlements pending. The only thing I can think of is wanting to set the bar so high that he knows no one will ever even approach his records. Tiger’s proven that he wants to be the best. Once he passes Jack, no one will question that. And if no one can question his being the best, isn’t that about as close to perfection as you’ll get in golf?
Sobel even draws comparisons to Tiger and Andre Agassi:

“Like Woods, Agassi was raised to be a champion, practicing every single day under the watchful eye of a demanding father.”

This commercial is one of my favorites of all time. If Earl means everything he says at the beginning, then I don’t see the parallel between Agassi and Tiger.

In case you need to see it in words: “You don’t really instill anything into a child; you encourage the development of it.” Not only does it (at least somewhat) refute Sobel’s claims, but, in my mind, it’s a great way to look at parenthood.
J. Sobel thinks Tiger has lot his passion for the game. I don’t. I think he realizes the importance of his image, and his absence from the game has been widely viewed as an effort to get his life back in order. Once this six-week rehab thing is over, I think we see Tiger come back one tournament prior to The Masters. It’ll be an absolute zoo at the Shell-Houston Open that week. Then Tiger will still be the favorite the next week at Augusta National. Maybe it’s just because I don’t want to believe Tiger doesn’t wanna come back. Or maybe Sobel’s just being a cynic. Or maybe he’s right. I don’t think the latter is the case, and – even though I love golf with or without him – golf is better with Tiger.

– Speaking of golf, nothing gives me goosebumps quite like The Masters. The only thing that comes close is when the commercials start airing. Nothing gets me excited like hearing: “A Tradition Unlike Any Other.”
It’s very difficult to me to put the majesty of The Masters into words, so I will let Harry Connick, Jr. do it:

– One more golf-related thing. It’s stories like this that set this sport apart from any other.
You didn’t see Thierry Henry stop after he handed the ball down before scoring the clinching goal against Ireland a few weeks back to secure his team’s spot in the World Cup. You don’t see Kobe or LeBron turn to the referees and call a foul on them. No lineman flags himself for holding in football.
It is such an honorable sport, a gentleman’s game. So much so that I don’t think many golfers would be too shocked to hear this story. It’s what he should do. Golf is a game of honor. It doesn’t need referees because it has such honest participants. That, in my mind, is why golf is so much better than any other sport I’ve ever watched or participated in.

– That Mizzou/kU game tonight was anti-climactic, huh? Kansas was up by 20 points by halftime. It was relatively exciting for about-nine-and-a-half minutes, but miserable to watch for the next 10:30 and downright disgusting for the last 20 minutes. Mizzou forced 23 turnovers and only committed four of their own. Only three Jayhawks post double-digits. Mizzou gets up 11 more shots attempts. But the Tigers only shoot 27.9% while kU shoots 49% from the field. Kansas manages to have as many offensive rebounds as Mizzou has defensive rebounds en route to outrebounding the Tigers 53-28. All of this to improve their home winning streak to 54 games (11 straight over Mizzou) with an 84-65 shellacking of Mike Anderson’s squad.
Do I lose all hope for this team, though? Not at all. They forced a very good kU squad into 23 turnovers. They shut down an All-American point guard in Sherron Collins (six points on 2-11 shooting). They just shot the ball that bad tonight. Their pressure was largely ineffective, but there’s a ton to be said about homecourt advantage and the energy a team plays with. I think it’ll be a very different story when the Jayhawks come to Mizzou Arena. Last season’s Elite 8 team lost by more in Lawrence than this season’s team did, and many think that the 2010 edition of the Kansas Jayhawks are better than the 2009 edition (and they’re probably right). This is still a tournament team, and a very potentially dangerous one at that.

– Cincinnati isn’t a tournament team. It’s going to take an absolutely outstanding effort by this team down the stretch. An outstanding effort this team has yet to show they can put out. And I really do wonder if the coaching has a lot to do with it.
Take for instance this troubling stat I overlooked about the Cincy/UofL game on Sunday: Lance Stephenson (hands down the Bearcats’ best player) took only one shot in the final 35 minutes of the game. Even with that, he still was tied for the team lead with 12 points. He was one of the biggest reasons they jumped out to that 11-point first half lead. I doubt the Cardinal defense (that Rick Pitino even acknowledges as terrible) shut him down. You have to run plays to get him the ball. A good coach makes sure that happens.
Another observation: they made 10 three-point baskets. So, if we do the math, that’s 10 x 3. 10 x 3 = 30. So they scored 30 points from behind the arc and only managed 60 for the game. That’s tough to do.
Even with all the bad this team has shown, they’re still 4-4 in conference and in eighth place. They’ve played poorly but still have themselves in a position to make a run at the Dance. They’re a few big wins away. Those big wins won’t be easy and will require a better effort than we’ve seen out of this team in conference play thus far. I wonder if they have it in them. I sure hope so.

– I love LeBron James. The man’s a stud. A lot of people question who’s the better player between him and Kobe. I say no contest: LeBron. This season: almost 30 ppg, 7 rpg and almost 8 apg. Sick. Kobe’s got a far better supporting cast, but still takes almost 25% of his team’s shots. And his stats: 28, 5 and 4. So, not only does LeBron score more (which he has to), he gets his (less-talented) teammates to play at a higher level and crashes the boards with the best of them. I feel like I rest my case.
But if you disagree, think about this. The Big O averaged that triple-double back in the early sixties. I think that’s one of the most untouchable records in sport. LeBron makes me think it’s possible. The only person that’s going to flirt with it is LeBron. As Bill Simmons tells us, he has no ceiling. I apologize now for the length of this quote, but I think it says a lot:

“Unlike past seasons, he’s learning how to vacillate between MJ Mode and Magic Mode almost like he’s flipping a switch. In Portland, the Blazers singled him in the first half and he dropped 31 in MJ Mode. When they doubled him in the second half, he flipped the switch to Magic, found open shooters and finished with a ho-hum 41-10-8. You cannot plan for this guy anymore. He’s offensively amorphous.”

– Are you ready for months of the “Will Brett Favre retire” coverage? I don’t want to hear a second of it. He says immediately after the game that it’s “highly unlikely” he’ll return. But he needs to remove himself from the loss before he can say anything for sure. So if you need to remove yourself from the loss, why even bother saying it’s highly unlikely? You can make your own claims, but I say it’s because he loves the attention. He’s a great quarterback. One of the best. But I’m done with his games. It’s all about what Brett wants. He doesn’t worry that he’s leaving entire organizations hanging. That doesn’t sit well with me. I’m already done with the speculation.

– Why don’t we hear anything about Kurt Warner’s potential retirement? Because Warner goes about it in a much better way than Favre. Rick Reilly wrote a very good piece about Warner retiring. I agree with everything he says. I’m not a very religious person, but I truly admire Warner’s take on what he needs to leave the game:

“I pray that God takes away the desire in me to play this game,” he says. “I’ve loved it for so long. I need Him to take that away from me.”

-Butch Jones seems to have landed a pretty solid recruit to back up Z. Collaros. I said this program had legitimate staying power.
Apparently, Kater wasn’t high on many recruiting lists coming out of Div. VI in Michigan, but his performance at a Midwest Elite Camp opened some eyes:

“Cody turned in a performance that was not only worthy of the best dual threat QB prospect in Michigan, but a performance worthy of one of the best QB’s in the country.
Forget D-III, Cody was now looking at the Big 10.”

If Butch can keep bringing in quality recruits, especially in the trenches on both sides of the ball, things could really be looking up for Bearcat football. He already orchestrated the same spread offense that made Brian Kelly so successful. And he helped turn Dan Lefevour into one of college football’s best QBs.
The upside is enormous for the future of Bearcat football. I just hope people don’t turn away after BK left and they got handled in the Sugar Bowl. The ‘Cats will be competing for a Big East title again this season.

– As for the Bengals, I have only one thing to say: Bob Bratkowski is still the offensive coordinator. That’s your first problem.

– Just the headline for this story is an oxymoron.

– Hate MTV’s “Jersey Shore”? Then enjoy these kids reenacting it.

– Because I mentioned the two above, I leave you with my favorite Kobe/LeBron puppet commercial.



~ by nchaney3 on January 26, 2010.

One Response to “John Mania: Volume Two”

  1. […] have stayed at UC. We could maybe score, since he’s only averaging 32 in conference play. Check out my brother’s blog for some of the stuff I missed during Dad’s Weekend up here this past weekend. Meet Mr. Greg […]

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