Archive for November, 2010

Fourteen games in, the Hawks have already stopped trying

Pretty much sums this one up, I'd say. (AP photo)

Pretty much sums this one up, wouldn't you say? (AP photo)

Let’s see. Who else have they got on that bench? Bob Bender? He’s been a Hawks’ assistant since 2004 — hey, that pitch worked for Larry Drew — and Bender played under Bobby Knight. Why not give him a shot? Or maybe Lester Conner. At least he played D in his playing days. Or maybe Wally Blase, who’s technically the trainer, but at this point who really cares?

It took the Hawks six years to stop listening to Mike Woodson. It has taken one month for them to tune out his successor. To say the effort the Hawks gave against the Boston Celtics on Monday night was amateurish is to discredit the concept of amateurism and to distort the meaning of “effort.”

Said Larry Drew, the head coach: “Very embarrassing. Very, very embarrassing. Very embarrassing. If I had to sum it up in one word: Embarrassing.”

Drew’s team trailed by 26 points after one quarter. The Celtics, who played Sunday in a different country and who started four …

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Live from Philips: The Hawks try to beat one of the NBA’s elite

A reminder of those halcyon days when the Hawks could handle a good team. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

From those halcyon days when the Hawks could handle a good team. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

If ever we needed a reminder that it’s not how you start but how you finish, the Hawks and the Celtics provided it. The Hawks finished third in the NBA East and were 4-0 against the Celtics, who wound up with the East’s No. 4 seed, in the 2009-2010 regular season.

Emphasis on “regular season.”

The Hawks got swept in Round 2 of the playoffs by an aggregate 101 points and were so mortified they dumped their coach and promoted his longtime assistant, which presumably made sense to somebody. The Celtics beat Cleveland in Round 2 and Orlando in Round 3 and reached the NBA finals. And now the Hawks, who were seen seven months ago as a rising power, seem in retreat, while Boston is doing as royalty always does — biding its time until the playoffs.

Seven months ago you’d much rather have been the Hawks than the Celtics, who were regarded as too old and too cranky. Now it’s hard to know what …

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So the Falcons sit atop the NFC? Alert ESPN and Peter King

The Falcons have the NFC’s best record. They’re 8-2, having won eight of nine. In November alone they’ve beaten Tampa Bay, which is 7-3; Baltimore, which is 7-3, and St. Louis, which is 4-6 but was 4-1 at home before the Falcons showed up.

And yet: The ESPN.com home page as of 9:25 a.m. Monday asked two questions. “The NFC’s best team? Why not the Eagles?”

And Peter King of SI.com lists the Falcons No. 5 in his Fine Fifteen, with not one but two NFC teams above them. Asks King of Green Bay, which he ranks No. 1 in the league: “Who’s played better over the past month? Beat the Vikes 28-24, the Jets 9-0, the Cowboys 45-7, the Vikes again 31-3.”

Note to P.K.: Uh, maybe the Falcons? (And aren’t the Vikings and Cowboys, against whom three of those four Packer victories have been achieved, the NFL’s biggest duds? Didn’t one just fire its coach? Isn’t the other about to fire its coach?)

Understand: I’m ordinarily not one who believes The National Media Never Gives Atlanta Teams Any …

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Tech secures a bowl but doesn’t exactly leave UGA cowering

Mario Edwards takes Tech from behind to ahead. (AJC photo by Johnny Crawford)

With this swoop, Mario Butler takes Tech from behind to ahead. (AJC photo by Johnny Crawford)

The goal, cornerback Mario Butler said, was to keep from becoming the first Georgia Tech team since 1996 to be bowl-ineligible, and that mission was accomplished. And if the Jackets entered Saturday’s game with the ancillary aim of rendering Georgia overconfident for next week’s collision … well, they managed that, too.

Upcoming in Athens: The most impressive 5-6 team in the land — that’d be Georgia — will face the least imposing 6-5 aggregation. Tech won Saturday for the first time since Oct. 16 and needed all the aid and comfort Duke could supply, which was a lot. Some will point to this tepid regular season as a massive comedown from the high of the 2009 ACC championship, and in its way it has been. But this comedown could well have been a nosedive.

The Jackets didn’t have much except Joshua Nesbitt when this season commenced, and now that the indomitable quarterback has been lost …

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Live from Georgia Tech, where there’s a *BCS berth at stake

Yes, this post is about Tech. But here's a look at the 2009 Independence Bowl. (AP photo)

Yes, this post is about Tech. But here's a look at the 2009 Independence Bowl. (AP photo)

(*In this case, “BCS” stands for “bowl of cruddy stature.”)

Georgia Tech is 5-5. It needs to beat Duke, which is terrible, to become bowl-eligible. If the Jackets lose here today, they’ll need to beat Georgia, which is the best sub-.500 team in the country, in Athens next week to secure a postseason invitation. And where might Tech go if it notches Victory No. 6?

ESPN.com has Tech ticketed for the Military Bowl, which will be staged in Washington D.C. on Dec. 29. Scout.com, SI.com and CBSsports.com all have the Jackets headed to the one place guaranteed to slash Tech fans’ arsenal of ever-ready UGA insults by 67 percent — the Advocare  V100 Independence Bowl, which is staged you-know-where.

For 51 weeks Georgia fans have gigged Tech with these four words: “We run this state.” For 51 weeks Tech backers have responded with one word: “Shreveport.” And — wouldn’t you know it? — the Jackets …

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The Cam Newton saga set to music: ‘Son of a Preacher Man’

Kudos to the fine folks at EDSBS and the Orlando Sentinel for unearthing this musical nugget, which we at AJC.com feel duty-bound to pass along to you, dear surfers. There’s no new information regarding Cam Newton relayed herein, but it is, you’ll have to admit, pretty darn amusing.

The talented artist’s name — not his given name, we assume — is MoonPie. (We can also assume this isn’t the Mike “Moonpie” Wilson who played offensive line at Georgia back in the ’70s alongside Cowboy Joel Parrish.) I have e-mailed the song stylist requesting further information about him (and also his rather astonishing hat), and I will break into regularly scheduled programming to update y’all if/when Mr. Pie responds.

UPDATE: MoonPie responds!

Mr. Bradley,
Thanks for your e-mail.
I would love to play in the Atlanta area.
I am a musician, but more of a singer/frontman.
I have an act called Kenny LoveChild & the Party (you can YouTube that as well) which is more professional and much less comic.  …

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Cam Newton and Auburn in the clear? Not so fast, my friend

Just because Auburn chose to play Cam Newton against Georgia doesn’t mean Auburn or Newton is safe. The NCAA doesn’t work that way. The NCAA gears, such as they are, grind slowly. The NCAA has only begun to sniff around.

Phillip Marshall of Auburn Undercover reported Saturday that the Newtons and Auburn administrators met with NCAA representatives last Thursday. (Link requires registration.) That the school chose to play Newton has been taken by some as an indication that the NCAA has nothing on Auburn. That’s not necessarily true. The NCAA might have nothing on Auburn yet. But by now its investigators have, or should have, a growing indication that this player was put up for sale at least once.

ESPN.com reported yesterday that another Mississippi State former player, the Florida businessman Bob Bell, essentially confirmed the story Kenny Rogers told on ESPN 103.3 Dallas last week and even added a detail: There was a payment schedule for Newton – $80,000 on his commitment to …

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Kennesaw’s Tony Ingle: An overnight sensation after 36 years

Tony Ingle on the night KSU made nationwide noise. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

Tony Ingle on KSU's night of nights. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

Tony Ingle began coaching in 1974. (Or, as he says, “when Moby Dick was a minnow.”) He’s 58 and has five grandchildren. He awoke Tuesday to find himself an overnight sensation.

Kennesaw State beat Georgia Tech of the snooty ACC by 17 points Monday night, and on Tuesday ESPN’s “SportsCenter” kept asking/answering the question, “Who is Kennesaw State?” And KSU’s coach, the aforementioned Tony Ingle, heard from everyone he’d ever known via every means of modern communication — e-mail, text message and calls on his home, office and cell phones.

Not that sudden fame is always a blessing. Said Ingle: “I even heard from a bill collector. He thought I’d died.”

So now we’re asking: Who is Tony Ingle? And we start by saying, “Pull up a chair.”

He was born in Dalton with a facial deformity that has required five surgeries. His dad worked in a saw mill and a cotton mill. Ingle played guard at North Whitfield High and then …

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Head-scratcher: Aaron Murray has been great, yet UGA is 5-6

The good news: This quarterback is a keeper. (AP photo)

The good news: This quarterback is a real keeper. (AP photo)

Had you told me on Sept. 3 that the Ides of November would find Georgia under .500, I’d have had two thoughts. The first: “Ain’t no way.” (For the record, I picked the Bulldogs to finish 9-3.) The second: “If there is a way, it’ll be because Aaron Murray isn’t ready.”

And that’s what makes Georgia being 5-6 so confounding. More than simply being ready, Aaron Murray has been good bordering on great. A redshirt freshman, he’s already the third-best quarterback in the SEC, and the league’s best is Cam Newton, the finest player among collegians, and its second-best is the splendid passer Ryan Mallett. Murray is 15th nationally in passing efficiency. (Newton and Mallett are second and fourth, respectively.)

Heck, we can make a compelling case that Murray has been the best freshman quarterback in Bulldog annals, and those annals are inscribed with the deeds of some fairly fine frosh.

  • Aaron Murray, 2010: 173 completions in …

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Tech falls to KSU: The Wizard of Techwood dazzles us again

The Wizard of Techwood: New year, same image. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

It's a brand new season, but it's the same old outcome. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

If Paul Hewitt isn’t the worst basketball coach in the country, it’s only because ours is a mighty big country. And now, having said that, I ask: At this late date, who needs convincing?

There are no real Hewitt defenders. There are a few excuse-makers, but nobody seriously believes this is a first-tier coach anymore. I could cite his record yet again, but here’s all anyone needs to know: In the spring of 2004 he won five NCAA tournament games in 15 days; in his other nine seasons at Georgia Tech combined, he has won two.

On Monday his Jackets took a ride up I-75 and showed us they aren’t even the best team in Metro Atlanta. They lost 80-63 to Kennesaw State, which has only recently become a fully vested member of the NCAA’s Division I. Tech never led. It trailed by 20 points after 15 1/2 minutes, by 15 points at the half. It was one of those games that was shocking and yet not surprising at …

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