Posts Tagged ‘Bradley’s’

Duke beats Kentucky on a splendid night of Dome hoops

Seth Curry beats Julius Mays to the basket in Game 2. (AP photo by Dave Martin)

Duke's Seth Curry beats Julius Mays to the basket in Game 2. (AP photo by Dave Martin)

Nine days before Thanksgiving, there were four on the Georgia Dome floor. Come April 6 there will be four on this same floor, and if the past is a guide, some of these contestants will be included in that Final Four.

The Champions Classic, which alit here Tuesday night, is in Year 2 of its rotation. (Last year it was New York; next year it’s Chicago.) The teams that played in the final game of the 2011 Champions Classic in Madison Square Garden – Kentucky and Kansas – also graced the 2012 NCAA final in the Superdome. That’s known as a leading indicator.

The same foursome from last season’s Champions Classic was in place again, albeit in a different configuration. Kansas got Michigan State this time. Kentucky played Duke, and Kentucky and Duke, as you may have heard, have an NCAA tournament history.

From Rupp’s Runts outgunning Vic Bubas’ team in the 1966 Final Four to Jack Givens scoring 41 …

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Bradley’s Buzz: The best franchise? It’s not Atlanta’s

The 40th-best owner would like to enhance your "stadium experience." (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

The 40th-best owner aims to enhance "stadium experience." (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

Having time on its hands in these long hot summer months, ESPN The Magazine has trotted out its annual rankings of professional sports teams (link requires registration) but not so much as competitive teams as corporate entities. To quote from the mag, “Which teams are most worthy of your hard-earned dollar”?

None of our local clubs crack the top 20. The L.A. Angels rank No. 1, and the L.A. Clippers rank 122nd, or dead last. And one of ours finished in triple digits. Guess which.

Tick, tick, tick … time’s up!

27. Atlanta Braves: Attention, Bobby Cox bashers! The Braves receive their highest rating (15th) for coaching. (Er, shouldn’t that be “managing”?) They’re 21st in affordability and a surprisingly high 32nd in “title track.” But they’re only 54th in ownership and 59th in “stadium experience.” What, you mean not everyone’s a sucker for “Thank God I’m a Country Boy”?

43. Atlanta Falcons:

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Bradley’s Buzz: Three Falcons among decade’s underrated

Say what you want about the Worldwide Leader, but it knows how to start a discussion. On its Insiders Web site, ESPN.com presents the 25 most underrated NFL players of the past decade, and also the 25 most overrated. Being Mr. Merry Sunshine, I’ll begin by accentuating the positive.

The list of the underrated (link requires registration) was compiled by Aaron Schatz of Football Insiders, and since it’s one of those pay-to-view things — and I paid my $39.95 — I’ll take the liberty of quoting liberally. The most undervalued player of the decade is wide receiver Derrick Mason. And three Falcons, present or past, are included:

11. John Abraham: Abraham ranks second in total sacks since 2000, behind Jason Taylor. He’s had five seasons with 10 or more sacks, plus a sixth season with 9½ in 12 games. He was a first-round pick and was later traded for a first-round pick, but he’s oddly under the radar. He hasn’t made the Pro Bowl since 2004, even with 16½ sacks last season.

22. Grady …

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Bradley’s Buzz: Draft grades for the Hawks (and Thrashers)

Hey, straight “B’s” put you in the Beta Club

A sentence seldom written: People really liked what the Hawks did in the draft! Chad Ford of ESPN.com gave them a B-plus, questioning whether Jeff Teague is truly a point guard but also saying this:

“On the other hand, he was ranked in our top five for much of the year, and had his team not crashed in the tournament or had he gone back to school for another year, he would have been a top-10 pick. So the Hawks got great value here.”

Writing for SI.com, Scott Howard-Cooper awarded a straight B and claimed taking big men B.J. Mullens or Taj Gibson “would have been a risk or a reach.” Adi Joseph of NBAdraft.net bestowed another B-plus, calling Teague “a great fit.”

And Joey Whelan of Slam Online handed down a B, saying “Teague has all the physical attributes you love to see in a floor general—athleticism, speed and quickness—but is he going to be a good distributor?” But Whelan also noted: “Eric Maynor, a more NBA-ready point guard, was …

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A special Bradley’s Buzz: Updated all-NBA draft edition!

LATE-BREAKING NEWS!

Those darned folks at NBAdraft.net are killing me. When I went to bed last night, they had the Hawks taking Wayne Ellington, the elegant North Carolina shooter, with the 19th pick in Thursday’s draft. At 3:02 a.m., they updated their mock, and now they have the Hawks choosing Jrue Holiday, a point guard from UCLA. And I’m doing some rewriting because …

I like Ellington a lot.

I don’t like Holiday at all.

He averaged 8.5 points and 3.7 assists in his one season at UCLA. True, he was playing alongside/behind Darren Collison, a more seasoned point guard, but the consensus across college basketball was that Holiday had underwhelmed. (He actually seemed a better defender than an offensive player.)

Holiday has been projected to go in the upper half of Round 1 but could be sliding. Me, I think there’s good reason. Me, I think he’s way too raw. Me, I’d much rather see the Hawks take Eric Maynor of VCU or Ty Lawson of North Carolina, both of whom NBAdraft.net …

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Bradley’s Buzz: ESPN likes the look of the 2009 Bulldogs

The Worldwide Leader gushes over UGA

Breaking down its Top 25 for 2009, ESPN.com lavishes so much praise on its No. 16 team (link requires registration) you wonder why the team in question — namely, Georgia — isn’t ranked, like, No. 6. I’m usually pretty high on the Bulldogs, but I’m not as optimistic about these Dogs as Chris Sprow seems to be.

It’s Buzz policy not to quote overmuch from a linked article — that’s why there’s a link; you can read it yourself — but because ESPN’s Insiders is a pay site and not everyone has $39.95 to burn, I make an exception. So here goes. Mr. Sprow writes:

• “Last year, Stafford had plenty of weapons to utilize, but he was always on the run. According to ESPN Stats & Information, Stafford was drilled 93 times last season, up from 77 as a sophomore. Because of that, a Georgia offense that still managed 31.5 points per game [third in the SEC] was too star-driven. [Offensive coordinator Mike] Bobo admits that Stafford had a tendency to [focus on] …

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McLouth: Did Braves seize a moment or squander the future?

The big trade inspires big discussion

Here’s the kind of sentence no fan likes to read: “Starting with the July 2007 trade for Mark Teixeira, and including the December trade for Javier Vazquez as well as Wednesday’s trade for center fielder Nate McLouth, Atlanta has made three prospect-for-veteran trades that would pretty much gut your average farm system.” That’s the appraisal (link requires registration) of Matt Meyers in ESPN The Magazine. But wait.

Meyers also writes: “Because the Braves are so good at developing their own talent, this trade doesn’t cripple them like it might other teams. However, they have given up a boatload of talent … and yet they haven’t been to the playoffs since 2005. Teixeira is gone, Vazquez is still inconsistent, and McLouth isn’t a superstar. It’s hard to shake the feeling that these three recent prospect-for-veteran deals won’t come back to haunt them in the next few seasons.” (Buzz editor’s note: Meyers writes “won’t,” but in context of the …

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All-baseball Bradley’s Buzz: Will DeRo be the Braves’ hero?

A triumphant return for the pride of Vinings Estates?

He played quarterback at Penn. He played everywhere for the Braves. He drove in the winning run in Game 2 of the 2003 NLDS against the Cubs. He lived in my subdivision (and, after leaving for Texas, rented his house first to Chris Reitsma and then to Mike Remlinger). And now Mark DeRosa might be coming back to the ol’ neighborhood.

So speculates Jayson Stark of ESPN.com. DeRo, as he’s known, now plays for Cleveland, and the Indians stink. (Apologies to all my pals in that fine American city.) The Tribe, Stark reports, wants pitching, and that’s the one thing the Braves have. But Frank Wren, Stark also writes, won’t part with any of his top-tier arms, meaning a trade partner would have to settle for Kris Medlen, Jo-Jo Reyes or Charlie Morton.

As for Frenchy: Stark believes the Braves are “mostly listening” to proposals for Jeff Francoeur, “in part because they need to add bats, not subtract them, and in part because no one …

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Bradley’s Buzz: A rosy consensus emerges on the Falcons

A team grows in Flowery Branch

In ESPN.com’s first power ratings of the 2009 season — technically, the 2009 season doesn’t begin for three months, but haven’t we learned that pro football is a year-round sport? — its panel of analysts pegs the Falcons as the NFL’s 11th-best team. (Thanks to reader Anthony Burnette for the tip.) But the Worldwide Leader didn’t become the Worldwide Leader by letting it go at that.

Each voter — there are 12, meaning ESPN has more NFL analysts than the number of players any NFL team can field at any given time — has his ballot broken down, and here’s where it gets interesting. Eleven put the Falcons between No. 7 and No. 13 in the 32-team league. The exception is esteemed former colleague Len Pasquarelli, who has the Falcons 20th.

The same Pasquarelli ranks Carolina No. 3, and the Panthers, who finished one spot above the Falcons overall, generated the widest spread of any team. Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc. had them 24th. Five of the 12 …

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Bradley’s Buzz: Is it time to bid adieu to Frenchy?

Francoeur on the way out?

Last week Mark Bowman, who covers the Braves for MLB.com, speculated openly about the need for the Braves to upgrade their outfield and that Jeff Francouer could soon be on an outbound plane. Included was Bowman’s sobering appraisal: “The Braves aren’t going to get much in return for Francoeur. But they need to at least explore the possibility of moving him before they reach a point during the offseason when they might non-tender him and get absolutely nothing in return for a former top prospect.”

Note the “ouch” phrases: “Aren’t going to get much” and “non-tender him” and, worst of all, “former top prospect.”

About Mr. Bowman: He’s a good guy and a good reporter. He’s not given to flights of fancy. (Unlike, say, me.) If he’s broaching the topic on MLB.com, it stands to reason there’s chatter ongoing within the Braves’ organization. And that might not be a bad thing. As much as I like Francoeur, I think we’re approaching the point where it makes sense …

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