Archive for February, 2010

Whoa! ESPN’s Dinich puts Tech sixth in ACC power ratings

That was then. Now is ... sixth? (AJC photo by Johnny Crawford)

That was then. Now is sixth? (AJC photo by Johnny Crawford)

If Georgia fans weren’t happy with where Chris Low of ESPN.com slotted the Bulldogs in his pre-spring SEC power ratings — and they weren’t — Tech fans won’t exactly offer up hosannas to his colleague Heather Dinich. She places the reigning ACC champion sixth in a 12-team league. Her list:

  1. Virginia Tech
  2. Florida State
  3. North Carolina
  4. Miami
  5. Boston College
  6. Georgia Tech
  7. Clemson
  8. North Carolina State
  9. Maryland
  10. Wake Forest
  11. Duke
  12. Virginia

Her thoughts on the Jackets:

“There are too many questions to give the defending ACC champs too much credit just yet. Having lost their leading rusher, receiver and top two defenders, the Jackets have some work to do. They also have to adjust to a new defensive scheme under first-year coordinator Al Groh. Odds are the offense makes a seamless transition with Anthony Allen at B-back.”

Tech fans might be amused by the phraseology. Ms. Dinich didn’t exactly overwhelm the Jackets with “credit” …

Continue reading Whoa! ESPN’s Dinich puts Tech sixth in ACC power ratings »

Good news: Glavine and the Braves like each other again

This was the Glavinator after winning his second Cy Young Award.

This was the Glavinator after winning his second Cy Young Award. (AJC file photo)

I never quite understood why this — Tom Glavine joining the Braves’ front office in some official capacity — couldn’t have happened last summer. It is, and was, an obvious move. But someone  (meaning Frank Wren) got in a hurry and someone else (meaning Glavine) got mad, and it wound up with the two sides upset with one another, which had happened back in the winter of 2002 and led to No. 47 leaving for the Mets.

But let’s look on the bright side: The first breach took five years to mend; this one took only nine months.

Wren didn’t err by not adding Glavine to the 25-man roster last June. Let’s be clear about that. The Braves called up Tommy Hanson instead, and the kid darn near won Rookie of the Year. Where Wren erred, as is usually the case, was in timing and tone. He gave Tommy G. a shove, as opposed to applying a bit of finesse.

Becoming special assistant to John Schuerholz means Glavine is …

Continue reading Good news: Glavine and the Braves like each other again »

OK, here are MY SEC power ratings (UGA slightly higher)

The black helmets? They're gone. Caleb King? He's back. (AJC photo by Bob Andres)

The black helmets? They're gone. Caleb King? He's back. (AJC photo by Bob Andres)

You’re aware that Chris Low of ESPN.com has placed Georgia seventh in the 12-team SEC in his preseason power ratings. As noted earlier, I value the Bulldogs a bit more highly. But not so high, I’m guessing, as to keep you folks from calling me a raging Tech fan. Herewith, the Bradley Index:

1. Alabama: I’m not quite as high on the Tide as everyone else seems to be. (Major loss of defensive personnel.) I’d still put the reigning BCS titlist at the top of the league, but I’d also note that Florida also appeared similarly invincible this time a year ago and wound up losing the conference title.

2. Florida: No Tebow. No Haden, no Dunlap, no Spikes. No defensive coordinator as yet. Massive upheaval on the coaching staff. Still some uncertainty regarding Urban Meyer. With all that said, this remains the most talented program in the SEC and probably the nation. Any reversal will be short-term.

3. LSU: …

Continue reading OK, here are MY SEC power ratings (UGA slightly higher) »

Heresy! ESPN’s Low sees UGA as second-tier in the SEC

After that headline, you probably have some idea as to what’s coming. Without further ado, here are Chris Low’s power ratings for SEC football 2010, as presented on ESPN.com:

  1. Alabama
  2. Florida
  3. LSU
  4. Arkansas
  5. Auburn
  6. South Carolina
  7. Georgia
  8. Ole Miss
  9. Tennessee
  10. Mississippi State
  11. Kentucky
  12. Vanderbilt

I hear what you’re saying. I feel — well, sort of — your pain. “Georgia returns 10 of 11 starters on offense and hires a new defensive coordinator, and the guy on ESPN.com picks us seventh?”

Here’s Mr. Low’s written rationale:

“The Bulldogs will sport several new looks in 2010. They have a new defensive coordinator in Todd Grantham, who’s implementing a new 3-4 defense. They will also have a new quarterback. Redshirt freshmen Aaron Murray and Zach Mettenberger are expected to battle it out for the starting job this spring. The Bulldogs are talented enough to make some noise in the East. The Washaun Ealey-A.J. Green combo on offense should be something to see. It remains to be seen, though, …

Continue reading Heresy! ESPN’s Low sees UGA as second-tier in the SEC »

The Hawks pick a lousy time to unleash a rotten effort

When Udonis Haslem lights you up, you're not trying very hard. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

When Udonis Haslem lights you up for 17 points, you're not trying very hard. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

Before the game, Mike Woodson spoke of the need for an increased level of commitment if his Hawks are to win the Southeast Division. Afterward, Josh Smith said this:

“It’s kind of frustrating when you don’t even give yourselves a chance. We didn’t really come to play today.”

The Hawks are a good team that comes to play most every game. This was an exception, an egregious one. They lost by 18 points to the sub-.500 Miami Heat on a night when Dwyane Wade scored eight points under his average. They lost scoring 27 points in the first quarter and 49 thereafter. They assured themselves of being in second place in their division at the All-Star break, which is not where they want or need to be.

Woodson pregame: “We’re right where we want to be. We’ve closed the gap on the top three teams, and now we’ve got to make a serious push and be committed. After the All-Star break, we …

Continue reading The Hawks pick a lousy time to unleash a rotten effort »

Live from Hawks-Heat, and they’re all big games now

Here's the mission: Get ahead of the Magic. (AJC photo by Johnny Crawford)

Here's the mission, and it's not impossible: Pass the Magic. (AJC photo by Johnny Crawford)

It’s one thing to drop a winnable game or two when you’re just trying to qualify for the playoffs; it’s something more when playoff positioning stands to be the key to playoff longevity.

The Hawks are one game behind Orlando in the NBA Southeast. (They play the Heat at Philips tonight; Orlando plays in Chicago.) They have the third-best record in the Eastern Conference. If the playoffs began today, the Hawks would be the No. 3 seed. But if they dropped to fourth — they’re a half-game ahead of the Celtics — everything changes.

The fourth seed plays the No. 1 seed, assuming both advance, in Round 2. The No. 1 seed stands to be Cleveland, against which the Hawks are 0-2. If the Hawks hold the No. 3 seed headed into postseason, they’d play No. 2 in Round 2, and that would be Orlando, against which the Hawks are 0-3. But if they win the division and thereby rise to No. 2, they’d have the …

Continue reading Live from Hawks-Heat, and they’re all big games now »

Bradley’s Buzz: Someone else likes South Carolina in 2010

"Don't despair, Steve! I like your chances next time." (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

"Don't despair, Steverino! I like your chances next time." (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

It’s not yet Valentine’s Day, so this is subject to change, but the leader in the clubhouse for post that has peeved the most folks in 2010 is the one where I dared to suggest South Carolina might be poised for a better football season than the Georgia-based SEC representative.

I got the usual dismissive response — “Bradley, you’re just trolling for a reaction” — but I really wasn’t. I actually believe South Carolina is poised for a better season. And now, from Bruce Feldman of ESPN.com’s Insiders, comes something in the way of corroborating testimony. Feldman lists South Carolina as the No. 1 team being overlooked for 2010. (Link requires registration.) His rationale:

“If the Gamecocks don’t come up with that clunker in the bowl game, I suspect they’re preseason top 20, but let’s not overreact too much to that game. QB Stephen Garcia did make some nice strides in 2009, and Carolina does …

Continue reading Bradley’s Buzz: Someone else likes South Carolina in 2010 »

Early-bird guide to the Big Dance: I like KU, and I like Tech

The Jackets could fly in March, or they could flop. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

The Yellow Jackets could fly in March, or they could flop. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

We’re 32 days from Selection Sunday, and I can tell you already I’m going to break one of my longstanding vows. I’m going to pick a school to make the Final Four that I’ve sworn never to pick again. (One hint: It lost to Bucknell in Round 1 in 2005. Another: It lost to Bradley in Round 1 the next year.) I can also report that I’m higher on a certain local team than you probably are.  Herewith, I present the early-bird guide to the Big Dance.

The team to beat: Kansas. The Jayhawks have failed me so often — not just in the twin “B” upsets mentioned above but in losing to UTEP in 1992 and Arizona in ‘97 and Rhode Island in ‘98 — that I grit my teeth when I see them coming. But they have exactly what you need to win it all: Good coach, good point guard, good big man.

The Big East team apt to make the deepest run: Villanova. Lots of folks think Syracuse is the best team in the country, and I …

Continue reading Early-bird guide to the Big Dance: I like KU, and I like Tech »

Julius Peppers wants out; the Falcons shouldn’t touch him

See this? Another Julius Peppers non-sack. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

See this? Pictorial evidence of a Julius Peppers non-sack. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

News out of Charlotte today is that Julius Peppers says he doesn’t want to play for the Carolina Panthers because he has been ignored this offseason. (Peppers gave a radio interview, and his answer to one question prompted the usually straight-down-the-middle Associated Press to describe it as “rambling.”) Speculation has already suggested that Flowery Branch could/should be Peppers’ next place of employment. I have one word for this:

The word is “no.”

The Falcons need a pass rusher. Peppers rushes the passer — sometimes. He had 2 1/2 sacks in 2007. He had 14 1/2 in 2008. He had 10 1/2 last season in what was a contract year. Of those 10 1/2, six came against Washington, Buffalo and Tampa Bay. He had no sacks in four games against New Orleans and Atlanta.

There are times when you watch the Panthers and you think Peppers is Deacon Jones. Other times you think he has come down with the …

Continue reading Julius Peppers wants out; the Falcons shouldn’t touch him »

Bradley’s Buzz: ESPN’s Buster doesn’t love Braves’ rotation

This, you should note, is not a recent picture. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

This, as you doubtless know, is not a recent picture. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

We keep hearing that the Braves’ rotation will be just as good without the man who finished fourth in the National League Cy Young voting  in 2009. The (thin) reasoning: That Javier Vazquez was unlikely to have such a season again, but that Tim Hudson — who underwent Tommy John surgery in 2008 and who has won two games since — will absolutely return to top-of-the-rotation form. This, I say again, assumes a lot.

I haven’t quite bought it, and I note for your edification that the estimable Buster Olney of ESPN.com hasn’t yet, either. Writing for ESPN’s Insiders, Buster O. lists his top five rotations — top six, actually — and somehow doesn’t include the Braves’. (Link requires registration.) His rankings:

  • 1. Red Sox: Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, John Lackey, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Clay Buchholz, Tim Wakefield.
  • 2. Yankees: CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, Andy Pettitte, Javier Vazquez, Phil Hughes.
  • 3.  White …

Continue reading Bradley’s Buzz: ESPN’s Buster doesn’t love Braves’ rotation »