Archive for the ‘Chattin' with Bradley’ Category

Live from the Hawks’ MLK matinee: Alarms are sounding!

Josh Smith: An ascendant player on an ascendant squad. (AJC photo by Jason Getz)

Josh Smith: An ascendant player on a still-ascending squad. (AJC photo by Jason Getz)

Red alert! There’s a pretty good matchup on tap today. (And the Hawks, conveniently enough, are wearing red uniforms.)

The NBA South division leader faces the team that might, a year or two on, become to the Western Conference what the Hawks are to the East. Oklahoma City has thrown together a slew of good young players — Kevin Durant, Jeff Green, Russell Westbrook, James Harden — in what might be described in Hawks-like fashion.

We’ll discuss that at greater length in a bit, but for now I’ll relate a little anecdote. The fire alarm went off in the back corridor of Philips Arena when Mike Woodson was holding his pregame briefing. Everyone was advised to exit the premises via a recorded message, which played for no more than 10 minutes. Naturally, nobody did.

Joe Johnson, being conscientious, did stick his head into Woodson’s office and say, “What should I do?” Woodson looked at him and …

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Live from Tech-Duke: Something big MIGHT happen

Zachery Peacock claims a carom against the Dookies in 2009. (AJC photo by Pouya Dianat)

Zachery Peacock claims a carom against the Dookies in 2009. (AJC photo by Pouya Dianat)

Given the run I’m on in 2010 – only in its 10th day! — I hesitate to say anything. But it’s my nature to tell you folks what I expect to happen, and here’s what I expect:

I expect Georgia Tech to play well.

I’m not predicting a GT victory. (As we know, that would guarantee a GT loss.) But any good team that has had to endure the criticism – much of it from this correspondent – after losing to Georgia is all but duty-bound to give a stirring account of itself in its next game. Even if that game happens to be against a team ranked No. 5 in the nation.

Duke is the anti-Tech: Not outrageously gifted but outrageously sound. Its coach is the second-best ever. (Ron Jirsa being the unchallenged No. 1.) But Duke isn’t going to overwhelm the Jackets physically, and they’re past due to play well. And if they’re going to post a victory that will grab the nation’s attention, today’s the day.

But I …

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Live from the Stegasaurus: Hewitt looks to break a drought

Paul Hewitt can't understand what happens in Athens. (AJC photo by Johnny Crawford)

Paul Hewitt just can't understand what happens in Athens. (AJC photo by Johnny Crawford)

Athens — Paul Hewitt has beaten Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium. (Once, but it was a big “once.” In 2004.) He has beaten No. 1 UConn in Madison Square Garden. He has beaten a North Carolina team that would win the 2005 NCAA championship in the ACC tournament. He has taken Georgia Tech to the national championship game. But there’s one thing he hasn’t yet managed.

He hasn’t beaten Georgia at the Stegasaurus.

Which makes no sense. The Jackets who beat Duke at Duke and who played for the NCAA title came here in January 2004 and lost in overtime to a band of Bulldogs that didn’t qualify for the Big Dance. (Tech fans maintain to this day that the refs won — or lost — that game.) Three other times Hewitt has come to Stegeman Coliseum and left a loser.

He’s 4-1 against Georgia at home, but that doesn’t say much since Georgia has been in flux for more than a decade. (Mark Fox is the Bulldogs’ sixth …

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Live from the Dome, where consolation is available

The Dome pulses with energy at 11:43 a.m. Or not. (Photo by M. Bradley)

The Dome positively pulses with energy at 11:43 a.m. Or perhaps not. (Photo by M. Bradley)

The Falcons can’t make the playoffs. You know that already. They can, however, get to 9-7. Which would be huge. But you knew that, too.

Beyond that, I don’t have much for you. Inactives haven’t been announced. The opponent, Buffalo, has 18 men on injured reserve. Brian Brohm is expected to start quarterback, which could make this an all-Petrino day if Matt Ryan can’t go the distance. (Both Brohm and Falcons backup Chris Redman played for Bobby P. at U of L, as you also know.)

Speaking of which: I’ve seen Petrino’s name listed as a possibility for the Florida post. At such times I ask myself, “Who makes these lists?” He’s a good coach who’s bad with people. That wouldn’t fly at UF. He’s never in anything long-term, as the Falcons know too well. The only chance Petrino would have to coach the Gators is if the first 10 choices turned Jeremy Foley down. Which they won’t. It’s the best job in …

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Live from Tech-FSU hoops, along with 25 NBA scouts!

One of the 25 clubs represented here today. (Photo by M. Bradley)

One of the 25 clubs represented here today. (Extremely artistic photo by M. Bradley)

The press section is jammed today, and not with press. Twenty-five NBA scouts have been credentialed for today’s game — Georgia Tech is playing Florida State — and there are only 30 NBA teams. I conclude from this that the absent five are simply slackers.

The scouts are coming to see three big men who could wind up in 2010 first round — Solomon Alabi of FSU and Derrick Favors and Gani Lawal of Tech. Indeed, DraftExpress has two in the lottery. Favors is No. 2 behind John Wall of Kentucky, and Alabi is No. 14. And Lawal sneaks into Round 1 at No. 29.

Nine games into his one and surely only collegiate season, Favors hasn’t disappointed. He’s not going to be voted the freshman of the year nationally — Wall, who’s not just the best freshman but the best player in the land, will be — but that’s because Tech hasn’t needed him to score big every night. Lawal actually leads Tech in scoring and …

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Chattin’ live! Babineaux, coordinators, Woodson, Wren!

It’s live chat time, and we’ll keep going until 1 p.m. You’re free to ask anything and everything, but I thought I’d start the festivities with a few topic suggestions, some of which came from you. (Thanks!)

• Would Georgia be better served hiring a Big Name defensive coordinator or looking for a guy from a smaller school whose profile is substantially lower? Brian VanGorder came from Central Michigan, did he not? (Then again, so did Willie Martinez.)

• The Hawks are 17-6. Mike Woodson is a lame duck, at least at the moment. Should that be remedied soon, or would Rick Sund be better off waiting until May/June to work a new deal? (But what if Woodson becomes a hot commodity after leading the Hawks to the Eastern Conference finals — don’t laugh — and leaves to take another job?)

• Can the Falcons win these final three games? Can they win another game? And if they end up 8-8 or worse, is the season a refutation of the Dimitroff/Smith Method? (I say no, but maybe that’s just …

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Fair warning: Come 11 a.m. today, we’ll be chatting live!

We’re going to try something a little different this morning. From 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. today (Wednesday the 16th of December), we’re going to have ourselves a live chat.

Regular patrons are doubtless saying, “What’s so different about that? You do one of those  every time you cover a game.” And that’s true. But those cyber-conversations tend to be game-related: If I cover a Falcons game, we talk about the Falcons. (And much of the chatting is me saying/typing: “Third-and-four. Big play here.”)

(A personal aside: My brother Brian has never let me forget how many times I said, “Big play here” during the epic Steelers victory over the Bengals in the snow at Riverfront Stadium in November 1976. We were Steelers fans in the enemy camp. Our team won 7-3.  Dwight White recovered a Boobie Clark fumble and Franco scored. Mike Kruczek was our QB. And my girlfriend — now my wife — and I got stuck in Covington, Ky., because the passenger-side window fell out of my Mustang in the blizzard en …

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Live from the Dome: I’m back, and so’s the Burner

Slept fast. Went to Mass. Now I’m back downtown, chatting again. Last night was great fun — fine game, unexpected (at least by me) result, much to discuss. Example: Why did Paul Johnson call four consecutive deep passes with the game on the line? We know his stylized offense doesn’t feature the short or intermediate pass, but what about the ol’ option toss? Did PJ bail out — mixed metaphor alert — on his bread and butter?

I wish I could say I had great hope for another great game here at the Dome, but I don’t. I figure the Falcons beat the Bucs by three touchdowns. I figure the Falcons need to beat the Bucs by three touchdowns just to remind themselves they can still be a playoff-caliber team, recent results notwithstanding.

Four losses in five games will have a chilling effect on a franchise and its fans, and traffic around the Dome seemed unusually light around 11:30. (And I was running late.) Can’t imagine there’ll be a full house today, but I’m bad at predictions. Example: …

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Live from New York, about to watch the other Big Blue!

We're in the stadium on the left. The one on the right opens next season. (Photo by M. Bradley)

Two stadiums: We're in the one on the left. The new one opens in 2010. (Photo by M. Bradley)

East Rutherford, N.J. – I’d never say I’m smart or anything. For one thing, you folks know better. For another, I thought there was no way my alma mater would win in Athens last night. (When last my alma mater won in Athens, I was just out of school. And that was a long time ago.)

But I digress. This isn’t about Willie Martinez or Mark Richt. (I suspect we’ll get around to both these next few days.) This is about the Falcons, who are about to play the New York Giants, and the one thing I can say for sure is that they’re almost exactly where I expected them to be on the weekend before Thanksgiving.

I had them 5-4 at this point, and the only part I got wrong was I had the results of the Carolina games flipped. I also had them losing today. But I also had them winning the NFC South, which won’t happen, and finishing 10-6, which is still within reach even if they’re 5-5 when night falls …

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Live from the Hawks: Even John Hollinger is impressed!

Get off to a 9-2 start and you'll have a lot of friends. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

Get off to a 9-2 start and you'll have a lot of friends. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

We’ve had some fun with our Facebook friend John Hollinger of ESPN.com. We’ve noted more than once that he picked the Hawks to win 31 games in 2008-2009 — they won 47 — and declared their bench “a FEMA disaster zone.” (It was actually pretty good.) More recently we’ve noted he predicted the Hawks will slide from those 47 victories to 44.

Well, fair’s only fair. And if we we tweak Big John for his less-than-glowing appraisals, we must also recognize him when he says something nice. And here it is: In his first power rankings for ESPN’s Insiders (link requires registration), Mr. Hollinger has the Hawks No. 1.

If you’re counting, that makes the third set of ratings that puts these Hawks at the top.  Hollinger’s ESPN colleague Marc Stein and John Schuhmann of NBA.com made the same call earlier in the week. (Chris Mannix of SI.com is the contrarian: He has the Hawks No. 2 behind Phoenix.)

With …

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