Articles By Nathan Rush

Path: /monthly/nba-offseason-summer-blockbuster-moves
Body:

Highlights from the action-packed NBA offseason that included the Nets moving from New Jersey to Brooklyn, Dwight Howard being traded to the Lakers, Jeremy Lin re-signing with the Rockets and Ray Allen joining the enemy Heat.

 

Brooklyn Nets: Ball So Hard
Luxury tax? What luxury tax? Brooklyn re-signed Deron Williams and Gerald Wallace for a combined nine years and nearly $139 million, then traded for Joe Johnson, who is owed $89 million over the next four years. Owners Mikhail Prokhorov and Jay-Z don’t care about the luxury tax. The new-look Nets are moving into the $1 billion Barclays Center in Brooklyn and need to bring a team with them. These are the “Core Four” the Nets are advertising:

“Hello Brooklyn, I’m #8, Deron Williams, three-time NBA All-Star and father of four.”

“Hello Brooklyn, I’m #7, Joe Johnson, six-time NBA All-Star and lifelong Razorback.”

“Hello Brooklyn, I’m #11, Brook Lopez, 20-point scorer and Batman’s biggest fan.”

“Hello Brooklyn, I’m #45, Gerald Wallace, All-NBA Defender and offseason fisherman.”

 

 

L.A. Lakers: Superman Returns
This isn’t the first time the Lakers have brought in a larger-than-life center whose nickname was “Superman” and whose greatest team accomplishment was losing in the NBA Finals as a member of the Orlando Magic. First, there was Shaquille O’Neal — who won three straight NBA titles after joining the Lakers. This time around, Dwight Howard is heading to Hollywood to team with Kobe Bryant. After months of well-known secrets and thinly veiled lies, Howard was finally traded in a four-team blockbuster that sent Andrew Bynum and Jason Richardson to the 76ers, Andre Iguodala to the Nuggets, and Moe Harkless, Arron Afflalo, Al Harrington, Nikola Vucevic and three protected first-round picks to the Magic.

 

L.A. Lakers: Rated PG
The old got older when the Lakers acquired 38-year-old two-time MVP Steve Nash to play alongside 33-year-old two-time Finals MVP Kobe Bryant. As usual, trade speculation continued to swirl around 7-foot All-Stars Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum. In the end, Bynum was shipped across the country to Philadelphia, while Gasol remained in L.A. — capping a strange year that started with him being traded, then un-traded in the Commissioner-vetoed Chris Paul deal.

 

Houston Rockets: Lin-sanity Redux
Jeremy Lin-sanity will continue in Houston, which is a huge relief for general manager Daryl Morey — who took the blame for cutting the phenom and will take the credit (or blame) for signing him to a three-year, $25.1 million deal.

“We should have kept @JLin7” – Daryl Morey tweet on Feb. 9

“Welcome to Houston @JLin7! We plan to hang on this time. You will love #RedNation” – Daryl Morey tweet on July 17

 

Miami Heat: Jesus to Judas
Ray Allen, the actor who played Spike Lee’s Jesus Shuttlesworth — Denzel Washington’s son, loosely based on Stephon Marbury — in the movie "He Got Game," left the Celtics for the defending champion Miami Heat. The move caused many Boston fans to label Allen a traitor, and added fuel to the fire in one of the NBA’s hottest rivalries.

 

Boston Celtics: Jet Fuel
Without Ray Allen standing in the corner or coming off screens late in games, the C’s needed another clutch 3-point shooter for their last hoorah with old timers Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce. Enter the “Jet,” Jason Terry, who was the Sixth Man of the Year in 2009, an NBA champion with the Mavericks in 2011 and an NCAA champion with Arizona in 1997.
 

Teaser:
<p> Highlights from the action-packed NBA offseason that included the Nets moving from New Jersey to Brooklyn, Dwight Howard being traded to the Lakers, Jeremy Lin re-signing with the Rockets and Ray Allen joining the enemy Heat.</p>
Post date: Wednesday, August 22, 2012 - 15:19
All taxonomy terms: Monthly
Path: /monthly/top-10-high-school-football-teams-2012
Body:

A quick overview of the high school football teams around the country with the brightest futures under the lights on Friday nights:

1. Trinity (Louisville, Ky.)
The Shamrocks split last year’s mythical national title with Don Bosco Prep (Ramsey, N.J.) in most major polls. After going 14–0 to clinch the 6A state title, the Rocks return a loaded senior class — including appropriately named wideout James Quick (right), USC commit defensive end Jason Hatcher and running back Dalyn Dawkins (nephew of former Eagles All-Pro Brian).

 

2. Grayson (Loganville, Ga.)
The No. 1 player in the nation, 6’5”, 260-pound defensive end Robert Nkemdiche, leads a wave of Clemson commits — including running back Wayne Gallman and defensive back David Kamara — for a Rams squad that went 15–0 and won the 5A state title last season.

 

3. Carroll (Southlake, Texas)
Dual-threat quarterback Kenny Hill, a Texas A&M commit, and the Dragons are riding a wave of momentum into this season after shocking Dallas Skyline in an epic playoff comeback en route to a 16–0 season and 5A-I state title.

 

4. Manatee (Bradenton, Fla.)
Size in the trenches and dynamic quarterback play from Mississippi State commit Cord Sandberg will make the Hurricanes tough to take down.

 

5. Santa Margarita Catholic (Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif.)
With Elite 11 quarterback and Nebraska commit Johnny Stanton (a.k.a. “Johnny Tebow”) running the show, the Eagles could be the best in the West this season.

 

6. Skyline (Dallas, Texas)
The Raiders — powered by the explosive duo of quarterback DeVante Kincade and receiver Ra’Shaad Samples — should be motivated for redemption after a controversial playoff loss to Southlake Carroll abruptly ended a 14–1 season in 2011.

 

7. Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas, Nevada)
The Las Vegas powerhouse will go all-in to open the season on ESPN in a nationally televised contest against fellow football factory Our Lady of Good Counsel (Olney, Md.). A win will vault the Gaels into the national title picture.

 

8. Booker T. Washington (Miami, Fla.)
The Tornadoes play a brutal schedule — with Miami Northwestern, Miami Central and a Texas road trip to Cedar Hill as three of their first four games.

 

9. De La Salle (Concord, Calif.)
Coach Bob Ladouceur enters his 34th season with a 384–25-3 career record, 16 California state championships and five USA Today national titles.

 

10. Byrnes (Duncan, S.C.)
Junior quarterback Shuler Bentley, son of former Byrnes coach and current play-caller Bobby Bentley, leads a young Rebel squad ready to make noise nationally.
 

Teaser:
<p> The Top 10 high school football teams for 2012 include Trinity (Louisville, Ky.), Grayson (Loganville, Ga.), Carroll (Southlake, Texas), Manatee (Bradenton, Fla.), Skyline (Dallas, Texas), Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas, Nev.), De La Salle (Concord, Calif.) and Byrnes (Duncan, S.C.).</p>
Post date: Wednesday, August 22, 2012 - 11:04
Path: /nfl/15-best-fantasy-football-sleepers
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It's fantasy football time, which means millions of fans will be drafting their teams over the next few weeks. Here's a look at 15 sleeper picks that could mean the difference between winning or losing your league this season.

NODDING OFF
These guys are fringe big names, so don’t sleep on them for too long.

Matt Ryan, QB, Falcons
With Roddy White and Julio Jones — and, to a lesser extent, Tony Gonzalez — as playmaking targets, Ryan may vault into fantasy football’s elite echelon this season. “Matty Ice” could be Tom Brady Lite at a much cheaper price.

C.J. Spiller, RB, Bills
It’s put up or shut up time for the triple-threat who was the No. 9 overall pick in 2010. Fans in Buffalo (and Toronto?) think the light has finally come on for the former Clemson superstar.

Cedric Benson, RB, Packers
With a sluggish start to his career in the rearview mirror, Benson has produced three consecutive 1,000-yard, six-TD seasons, all with the Bengals. Now the 29-year-old back joins one of the most explosive offenses in the NFL.

Torrey Smith, WR, Ravens
A second-year deep threat coming off a 50-catch, 841-yard (16.8 ypc), seven-TD rookie campaign, Smith has tremendous upside and should be snatched up after the big dog receivers are gone.

Reggie Wayne, WR, Colts
The 12th-year pass-catcher turns 34 in November and is coming off his worst season since 2003. But in his seven previous seasons, Wayne averaged 92 catches for 1,264 yards and eight TDs. He could bounce back to that norm with Andrew Luck at quarterback.


SOUND ASLEEP
In standard 12-team leagues, these guys will likely fall for a while.

Josh Freeman, QB, Buccaneers
The young Bucs added 6’5” wideout Vincent Jackson as well as veteran tight end Dallas Clark this offseason. And remember (because most drafters have already forgotten), Freeman threw for 3,400 yards, 25 TDs and just six INTs in 2010.

Mark Ingram, RB, Saints
Many are scared off by the Saints’ loaded backfield. But, if healthy, the former Heisman Trophy winner brings a skill set unmatched by anyone else in New Orleans.

Mikel Leshoure, RB, Lions
After suffering a torn left Achilles in August 2011, Leshoure missed his entire rookie season. With Jahvid Best on the PUP list, Leshoure has an opportunity to become Motown’s feature back.

Demaryius Thomas, WR, Broncos
Denver’s Eric Decker could be a poor man’s Wes Welker this year. But Thomas has huge play ability — which he showed with a combined 10 catches for 297-yards and a TD in two playoff games.

Pierre Garcon, WR, Redskins
Robert Griffin III’s go-to guy will likely be Garcon, who signed a five-year, $42.5 million deal this offseason. If RG3 plays as well as expected, Garcon will post a career year statistically.


DEEP LEAGUE, DEEP SLEEPERS
Flying well below the radar, these guys are worth a late-round flyer.

Jake Locker, QB, Titans
The second-year dual-threat gunslinger is battling Matt Hasselbeck for the starting job in Tennessee. When (not if) Locker takes over the Titans, make sure he’s on your roster.

Jacquizz Rodgers, RB, Falcons
Quizz’s size (5’6”, 196) has always been a drawback. But he’s cat quick, more powerful than given credit for and a blur with the ball in open spaces.

Randall Cobb, WR, Packers
Fumble-itis could derail Cobb. But there’s enough upside for the receiver-returner who has a chance to line up just about anywhere on the field for the potent Packers.

Martellus Bennett, TE, Giants
An athletic freak at 6’6” and 265 pounds, Bennett never lived up to his potential during four seasons in Dallas. But the former basketball player has a chance to break out and dunk over a few goal posts in New York.

Kyle Rudolph, TE, Vikings
Christian Ponder may not be able to get the ball downfield vertically. But he will be able to go down the middle to his safety net Rudolph.

 

Dominate Your Fantasy Football League! Click here for the ultimate online resource for mock drafts, positional rankings, Athlon's Top 250 and more.

Teaser:
<p> On draft day, don't sleep on underrated fantasy football players like the Falcons' Matt Ryan, Bills' C.J. Spiller, Packers' Cedric Benson, Ravens' Torrey Smith, Colts' Reggie Wayne, Broncos' Demaryius Thomas and Titans' Jake Locker.</p>
Post date: Friday, August 17, 2012 - 12:42
All taxonomy terms: Olympics
Path: /olympics/top-10-disappointments-2012-london-olympics
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1. NBC’s tape-delaying, video-stream buffering coverage

NBC could not get it right at the 2012 London Olympics. Their tape-delayed coverage included lowlights such as Bob Costas nonchalantly spoiling Michael Phelps’ Olympic medal record-breaking race, a “Today Show” promo spoiling the Missy Franklin race set to air and an ill-timed “Animal Practice” sitcom promo featuring a monkey doing gymnastics immediately after Gabby Douglas became the first African-American to win gold in the women’s gymnastics individual all-around competition. Online coverage wasn’t much better, with the live-streaming video buffering during the middle of the men’s 100-meter dash — causing Twitter to declare Usain Bolt “faster than the internet.”

 

2. Lolo Jones finishing fourth in 100-meter hurdles

America’s sweetheart heading into London, Jones finished a painful fourth in the 100-meter hurdles — four years after tripping over the ninth of 10 hurdles with the lead in Beijing. Worse, a scathing N.Y. Times article declared Jones’ publicity “was based not on achievement but on her exotic beauty and on a sad and cynical marketing campaign. Essentially, Jones has decided she will be whatever anyone wants her to be — vixen, virgin, victim — to draw attention to herself and the many products she endorses.” It was a disappointing Olympics for Lolo, to say the least.

 

3. Jordyn Wieber failing to qualify for individual all-around

Entering London, Wieber was the face of the USA’s “Fierce Five” women’s gymnastics team. But the reigning World Champion failed to qualify for the individual all-around competition — despite having the fourth-highest score among all gymnasts following preliminary qualifying. Due to a rule limiting each country to only two competitors in the individual all-around, Wieber was forced to sit out while teammates Gabby Douglas and Aly Raisman represented the USA. Adding injury to insult, Wieber suffered a stress fracture in her leg while in London.

 

4. McKayla Maroney winning silver in vault; McKayla is not impressed

Maroney had one of the greatest vaults of her life while helping the “Fierce Five” join 1996’s “Magnificent Seven” as the only USA women to claim Olympic team gold. The overwhelming favorite to win individual gold in the vault, however, suffered a fall that forced her to settle for silver. Her disappointed reaction to silver sparked a viral meme — “McKayla Is Not Impressed” — and made Maroney more of a household name than she would have been otherwise.

 

5. Ryan Lochte letdown following “next Michael Phelps” hype

The pre-Games heartthrob devolved into a grill-wearing disappointment in London. Lochte lost his highly anticipated head-to-head showdown with Michael Phelps in the 200-meter individual medley, finished third in the 200-meter backstroke and failed to medal in the 200-meter freestyle. He also let down his teammates, losing the lead as the anchor leg in the 4x100 freestyle relay. After entering with Phelps-sized expectations, Lochte was far from the gold standard in London.

 

6. Brazil losing to Mexico, failing to win first Olympic gold

Brazil allowed a Mexico goal just 29 seconds into the men’s soccer Gold Medal Match. After falling behind 2–0, Brazil’s Hulk scored his first goal of the tournament in stoppage time. Trailing 2–1 in desperation mode, Hulk beautifully set up teammate Oscar — whose header sailed high over the crossbar. Shortly after, the whistle blew, the match was over and Brazil was still 0-for in the nation’s quest to win Olympic gold in men’s soccer.

 

7. Australia barely cracking top 10 in Olympic medal count

Despite the pre-Games hype surrounding James Magnussen and Stephanie Rice, no Australian claimed individual swimming gold for the first time since 1972. In total, the Aussies won just seven gold medals, their fewest since 1992. Add 16 silver and 12 bronze to the count and Australia still only managed to finish 10th in the Olympic medal count — after finishing sixth, fourth and fourth in the three Games prior.

 

8. USA women’s indoor volleyball losing gold to Brazil

For the second consecutive Olympics, the USA lost to Brazil in the women’s indoor volleyball Gold Medal Match. Destinee Hooker led the top-ranked USA squad on an impressive run until losing 3–1 to Brazil with gold on the line. The USA has failed to win gold since indoor volleyball became an Olympic sport in 1964.

 

9. No baseball or softball in Summer Olympics

Baseball became an official sport in 1992, while softball followed in 1996. The USA won gold in baseball in 2000, and took bronze in 1996 and 2008. Meanwhile, the USA softball program was dominant, winning gold in 1996, 2000 and 2004 before losing to Japan and settling for silver in 2008. Both sports were considered American strengths but were discontinued prior to the 2012 London Olympics.

 

10. Closing ceremonies featuring Spice Girls, George Michael

Even the Queen and James Bond could not have saved London’s Closing Ceremonies — which included hip entertainment like the Spice Girls, George Michael, One Direction, Russell Brand and Tinie Tempah.
 

Teaser:
<p> McKayla is not impressed by NBC’s coverage, Lolo Jones or London's closing ceremonies.</p>
Post date: Monday, August 13, 2012 - 12:32
All taxonomy terms: Olympics
Path: /olympics/brazil-vs-mexico-gold-medal-match-ten-things-you-need-know
Body:

1. The match is Saturday at 10 a.m. EST at Wembley Stadium

There will be no need for NBC to tape delay the Gold Medal Match. Brazil and Mexico kick off on a Saturday at a reasonable hour stateside. “The Venue of Legends” hosts one of the more anticipated events of the London Olympics. Wembley Stadium is the second largest stadium in Europe, with a 90,000 seating capacity.


2. These are Under-23 National Teams with three age exemptions

The Olympic rosters of Brazil and Mexico are not the same as their World Cup lineups. The Olympics are a U-23 tournament. Brazil’s age exceptions are defender-captain Thiago Silva (age 27), left-footed left back Marcelo (24) and superhero striker Hulk (26). Mexico’s age exceptions are goalkeeper Jose de Jesus Corona (31), defensive midfielder Carlos Salcido (32) and forward Oribe Peralta (28).


3. Neither Brazil nor Mexico has won Olympic gold in soccer

Brazil has won five World Cup titles (2002, 1994, 1970, 1962, 1958) but Selecao has failed to place any better than silver at the Olympics — losing 2–1 to the Soviet Union in 1988 and 2–0 to France in 1984. Brazil also took home bronze in 2008 and 1996; and lost the bronze to the Soviet in 1976. This is Mexico’s first Olympic medal match ever.


4. Brazil’s Neymar is the most exciting footballer at the London Olympics

The 20-year-old samba sensation is a rock star in shin guards. He may not be better than Lionel Messi, as Pele has suggested. But he is certainly the most exciting footballer in the London Olympics. Blessed with remarkable speed, deft touch and incredible creativity, Neymar has already had more than his fair share of highlights — including a give-and-go header goal and behind-the-back assist. And he might just save his best for last.

5. Mexico defeated Brazil, 2–0, at Cowboys Stadium in June

Jerry Jones’ Palace in Dallas, Cowboys Stadium (in Arlington), witnessed a preview of the Gold Medal Match on June 4. Mexico won, 2–0, in front of a partisan crowd — with Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez and Giovani dos Santos scoring. In fairness, neither will be suited up against Brazil on Saturday. But Mexico does enter the match with the confidence of having taken down Brazil recently.


6. Mexico’s Giovani dos Santos will miss the match with injury

Mexico’s leading scorer and arguably its best player, dos Santos will be forced to sit out the Gold Medal Match due to a serious right hamstring injury. Dos Santos is the son of former Brazilian footballer Zizinho. The 23-year-old attacking midfielder would have provided yet another interesting storyline as well as a valuable offensive spark for Mexico.


7. Brazil’s Leandro Damiao leads the race for the Golden Boot

The Golden Boot is awarded to the player with the most goals at the end of the tournament. The striker — who wears the No. 9 of Ronaldo, the leading goal scorer in World Cup history — has six goals in only four matches. He is being chased by teammate Neymar (3 goals) and the Mexican duo of Giovani dos Santos (3) and Oribe Peralta (2).


8. Brazil and Mexico are the Olympics’ highest scoring teams

Brazil and Mexico are the only teams who have scored double-digit goals in the Olympics. Brazil leads the way with 15 goals for, while Mexico has put 10 balls in the back of the net. Not surprisingly, they are also the leading shot-takers of the Games of the XXX Olympiad — Brazil with 82 shots on goal, Mexico with 78. Both teams are also 1-for-1 on penalty kicks.


9. Mexico’s Jose de Jesus Corona has allowed only three goals

Corona has been the top goalkeeper in the Olympics, allowing just three goals in five matches. Only Spain’s David de Gea allowed fewer — but his two goals against came in only three matches for La Roja, who failed to score a goal of their own. A strong Mexico defensive front features Israel Jimenez, Diego Reyes, Nestor Araujo and Darvin Chavez; but Corona is minding the net brilliantly right now.


10. Brazil’s goaltending is suspect; its defense is strong

Original keeper Rafael was scheduled to start for Brazil before a right elbow injury knocked him out of the Olympics. Neto stepped up as the new starter but was replaced by 19-year-old Gabriel in net. Both have looked shaky between the posts. Luckily, whoever starts will have capable defenders Thiago Silva, Juan Jesus, Rafael da Silva and Marcelo patrolling, and the offense controlling possession. Still, if Brazil loses to Mexico, it likely will be due to lackluster goaltending.


Gold Medal Match Prediction:

Brazil 3, Mexico 2
 

Teaser:
<p> What to watch for when Brazil and Mexico go for gold (and goal) at Wembley Stadium on Saturday.</p>
Post date: Friday, August 10, 2012 - 14:08
All taxonomy terms: Olympics
Path: /olympics/olympic-photo-day-rhythmic-gymnastics
Body:

Germany's Jana Berezko-Marggrander with the ball during the rhythmic gymnastics individual all-around competition.

Teaser:
<p> Germany's Jana Berezko-Marggrander with the ball during the rhythmic gymnastics individual all-around competition.</p>
Post date: Friday, August 10, 2012 - 11:07
Path: /college-basketball/kentucky%E2%80%99s-big-blue-nation-olympic-basketball-team-0
Body:

Kentucky Wildcats basketball fans are known as the “Big Blue Nation.” But what if the Big Blue Nation were an actual sovereign nation eligible to compete in the 2012 London Olympics? How would an Olympic team comprised solely of Kentucky alums fare against the medal favorites like the USA, Spain and Argentina?

Here’s a hypothetical rundown of what UK in the UK would look like.

LEADERSHIP

Managing Director – Pat Riley
Head Coach – John Calipari
Assistant Coach – Dan Issel
Assistant Coach – Travis Ford
Student Assistant – Enes Kanter

Riley and Calipari would serve as the unquestioned leaders of the Cats. Riles would oversee the Big Blue Nation basketball program, in a czar role similar to Team USA’s Jerry Colangelo. Coach Cal would pace the sidelines a la Coach K for the USA.

CEREMONIES

Flag Bearer – Ashley Judd
Anthem – “My Old Kentucky Home”

The lovely Miss Judd would serve as the beautiful face of the Commonwealth during the Opening Ceremonies, with the classic Kentucky Derby standard, “My Old Kentucky Home” as the anthem to be played should Kentucky win gold.

STARTING FIVE-STARS

C – DeMarcus Cousins
Age: 21 (Aug. 13, 1990)
Height/Weight: 6-11, 270
Drafted: 2010, Sacramento Kings, No. 5 overall
2011-12 Stats: 18.1 ppg, 11.0 rpg, 1.4 spg, 1.2 bpg (NBA)

DMC was one of the final cuts made by Team USA. Boogie would bring the type of interior toughness that Spain has in the Gasol brothers and Serge Ibaka, and that the USA lacks outside of Tyson Chandler.

F – Anthony Davis
Age: 19 (March 11, 1993)
Height/Weight: 6-10, 220
Drafted: 2012, New Orleans Hornets, No. 1 overall
2011-12 Stats: 14.2 ppg, 10.4 rpg, 4.7 bpg, 1.4 spg (NCAA)

Much like Kentucky early in the Civil War, the reigning NCAA Player of the Year, Final Four MOP and No. 1 overall NBA draft pick might be on the fencepost deciding whether to play for the USA or UK. But the unibrow-ed Uni-blocker would be a perfect running mate for the brutish Cousins down low.

F – Tayshaun Prince
Age: 32 (Feb. 28, 1980)
Height/Weight: 6-9, 215
Drafted: 2002, Detroit Pistons, No. 23 overall
2011-12 Stats: 12.7 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 2.4 apg, 35.6 3P% (NBA)

A gold medal winner with the Redeem Team at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and 2004 NBA champion, Prince provides valuable length defensively, veteran leadership and a history of making clutch 3-pointers in pressure situations.

G – John Wall
Age: 21 (Sept. 6, 1990)
Height/Weight: 6-4, 195
Drafted: 2010, Washington Wizards, No. 1 overall
2011-12 Stats: 16.3 ppg, 8.0 apg, 4.5 rpg, 1.4 spg (NBA)

Playing off the ball while Rondo runs the point, Wall would be charged with going toe-to-toe with the USA’s Kobe Bryant and Argentina’s Manu Ginobili. Turning defense into fast break offense would be a likely strength of the lightning quick backcourt of Wall and Rondo.

G – Rajon Rondo
Age: 26 (Feb. 22, 1986)
Height/Weight: 6-1, 185
Drafted: 2006, Phoenix Suns, No. 21 overall
2011-12 Stats: 11.9 ppg, 11.7 apg, 4.8 rpg, 1.8 spg (NBA)

The 2008 NBA champion was the assists leader in 2012 and steals leader in 2010. A defensive menace and one-of-a-kind playmaker, Rondo would play with a massive chip on his shoulder against Team USA and Heat rival LeBron James.

BENCH

F – Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
Age: 18 (Sept. 26, 1993)
Height/Weight: 6-8, 230
Drafted: 2012, Charlotte Bobcats, No. 2 overall
2011-12 Stats: 11.9 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 1.9 apg, 1.0 spg (NCAA)

The defensive specialist would get an early taste of tangling with LeBron, Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony.

G – Jodie Meeks
Age: 24 (Aug. 21, 1987)
Height/Weight: 6-4, 210
Drafted: 2009, Milwaukee Bucks, No. 41 overall
2011-12 Stats: 8.4 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 90.6 FT%, 36.5 3P% (NBA)

A designated shooter and spark off the bench, Meeks’ free-throw shooting would also be a valuable asset on a team that might struggle at the line.

F – Terrence Jones
Age: 20 (Jan. 9, 1992)
Height/Weight: 6-9, 250
Drafted: 2012, Houston Rockets, No. 18 overall
2011-12 Stats: 12.3 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 1.8 bpg, 1.3 spg (NCAA)

The enigmatic talent would likely run hot and cold on the international stage. But Coach Cal would have the luxury of only playing Jones when he had a hot hand.

G – Brandon Knight
Age: 20 (Dec. 2, 1991)
Height/Weight: 6-3, 190
Drafted: 2011, Detroit Pistons, No. 8 overall
2011-12 Stats: 12.8 ppg, 3.8 apg, 3.2 rpg, 38.0 3P% (NBA)

Another ball-handler and shooter, Knight would see limited floor time behind Wall and Rondo but would be a nice option off the bench.

G – Doron Lamb
Age: 20 (Nov. 6, 1991)
Height/Weight: 6-5, 210
Drafted: 2012, Milwaukee Bucks, No. 42 overall
2011-12 Stats: 13.7 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 46.6 3P%, 82.6 FT% (NCAA)

Lamb would be a better option than even Knight. The sharpshooter with a savant’s basketball IQ would play essentially the same role with this team that he did with the 2012 NCAA champions.

F – Chuck Hayes
Age: 29 (June 11, 1983)
Height/Weight: 6-6, 250
Drafted: Undrafted
2011-12 Stats: 3.2 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 1.4 apg (NBA)

A mauler down low, Hayes would provide muscle and hustle, providing the most value banging with the USA’s LeBron, Melo and Kevin Love, as well as Argentina’s Luis Scola.

C – Josh Harrellson
Age: 23 (Feb. 12, 1989)
Height/Weight: 6-10, 275
Drafted: 2011, New Orleans Hornets, No. 45 overall
2011-12 Stats: 4.4 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 33.9 3P% (NBA)

“Jorts” would be the token white guy, the chief cheerleader and a valuable stretch-4 whose game might be better suited for international rules than for those of the NBA or NCAA.

TOUGH CUTS

G – Eric Bledsoe
Age: 22 (Dec. 9, 1989)
Height/Weight: 6-1, 195

F – Patrick Patterson
Age: 23 (March 14, 1989)
Height/Weight: 6-9, 235

C – Nerlens Noel
Age: 18 (April 10, 1994)
Height/Weight: 6-11, 215

The depth at point guard bumped Bledsoe, who shined playing alongside Chris Paul during the playoffs. Patterson isn’t as athletic as Jones, as tough as Hayes or as energetic as Harrellson. Incoming freshman Noel would have provided the best hair of the tournament — with his signature high top fade — but the young buck is still too green to run with the “national team” from the Bluegrass State.

VERDICT

If Kentucky fielded a team in the 2012 London Olympics, it would not have the depth to match Team USA. But the Wildcats’ length, speed and defense would be too much for the likes of Spain and Argentina. The Big Blue Nation would bring the silver medal back to Lexington.

by Nathan Rush
 

Teaser:
<p> If Kentucky basketball fielded a team of alums in the 2012 London Olympics, it would be a medal contender thanks to Anthony Davis, DeMarcus Cousins, John Wall, Rajon Rondo, Tayshaun Prince, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Co.</p>
Post date: Thursday, August 9, 2012 - 12:59
All taxonomy terms: Olympics
Path: /olympics/olympic-photo-day-misty-may-treanor-and-kerri-walsh-jennings-win-gold
Body:

Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings won their third straight gold medal in beach volleyball on Wednesday night in London, defeating fellow Americans April Ross and Jennifer Kessy in straight sets, 21–16, 21–16.

The two best friends won gold in Athens and Beijing before defending their crown in London — which is scheduled to be the duo’s final Olympic appearance.

“We played the toughest competition in the world and we’ve withstood every challenge to be hanging out on top,” Walsh Jennings told the Today Show, on the morning after their historic victory.

The 35-year-old May-Treanor is married to Los Angeles Dodgers catcher Matt Treanor and plans to start a family following her third gold. Meanwhile, the 33-year-old Walsh Jennings already has two sons — born in 2009 and 2010, following the Beijing Games.

The “Turtle” and “Six Feet of Sunshine” dug in to win and are now riding off into the sunset. The sport of women’s beach volleyball will never be the same.
 

Teaser:
<p> Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings won their third straight gold medal in beach volleyball.</p>
Post date: Thursday, August 9, 2012 - 10:54
All taxonomy terms: Olympics
Path: /olympics/olympic-photo-day-lolo-jones-finishes-fourth
Body:

America's sweetheart, Lolo Jones, failed to medal in the 100-meter hurdles, finishing fourth as the rain fell in London. The result was especially painful for Jones, who was seeking redemption after tripping over the ninth of ten hurdles with the lead in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Unfortunately, rather than experiencing the thrill of victory, Twitter's favorite track star suffered the agony of defeat.

Teaser:
<p> America's sweetheart, Lolo Jones, failed to medal in the 100-meter hurdles, finishing fourth as the rain fell in London.</p>
Post date: Wednesday, August 8, 2012 - 11:08
All taxonomy terms: Olympics
Path: /olympics/neymar-will-lead-brazil-first-olympic-gold
Body:

Brazil’s 20-year-old samba sensation Neymar is a rock star in shin guards.

Clearly the premier footballer at the London Olympics, the electrifying striker entered the tournament surrounded by unchecked hype. Legendary Brazilian star Pele set the tone by declaring the Mohawk-ed wunderkind as the world’s best player — ahead of reigning two-time FIFA Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi.

“Some are saying that Messi is better than Pele. Well, he has to be better than Neymar first, which he isn’t yet,” said Pele, speaking at the centennial celebration of his former club and Neymar’s current club, Santos.

From there, Argentine icon Diego Maradona retorted: “My God, that is just stupid. … Maybe Neymar is the best player in the world, but only if you say that Messi is from a different planet.”

Despite what appeared to be premature praise for the then-teenaged talent, Neymar has since found a way to exceed expectations at the Games of the XXX Olympiad.

A yellow blur with the ball, Neymar’s pace, skill and imagination on the pitch have led to two goals, one assist and countless breathtaking runs en route to Group stage wins over Egypt, Belarus and New Zealand.

Heading into the knockout stage of the Olympics, Neymar is aiming to match Messi, who led Argentina to gold at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. A win in the under-23 tournament (which also allows for three over-age exemptions) would be Brazil’s first-ever gold medal.

Brazil has won five World Cups (2002, 1994, 1970, 1962, 1958) and will serve as the host country for both the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. But the nation has failed to take the top prize in the Olympics, with only a pair of silvers (1988, 1984) and bronzes (2008, 1996) to show.

This year, the “Selecao” is on a mission to drape Olympic gold over their signature canary yellow jerseys. With Neymar leading an attack that also includes Chelsea midfielder Oscar, Real Madrid defender Marcelo, winger Hulk and defender-captain Thiago Silva, Brazil is the overwhelming favorite to win it all in London.


Olympic Schedule:

Quarterfinals (Saturday, Aug. 4)
Japan vs. Egypt
Mexico vs. Senegal
Brazil vs. Honduras
Great Britain vs. South Korea

Semifinals (Tuesday, Aug. 7)

Bronze Medal Match (Friday, Aug. 10)

Gold Medal Match (Saturday, Aug. 11)

Teaser:
<p> The best player in the Olympics, 20-year-old samba sensation Neymar aims to lead Brazil to its first gold medal.</p>
Post date: Friday, August 3, 2012 - 10:29
All taxonomy terms: Olympics
Path: /olympics/2012-olympics-top-10-favorites-women%E2%80%99s-gymnastics-individual-all-around
Body:

Jordyn Wieber did not qualify for the women’s gymnastics individual all-around competition at the 2012 London Olympics. Despite finishing with the fourth-highest score during qualifying, the reigning World Champion and favorite to win Olympic gold failed to make the cut due to a rule that limits the number of bids to two per country — known stateside as the “Wieber Rule” until further notice.

Without Wieber, the individual all-around competition — which consists of all four apparatus (vault, uneven bars, balance beam and floor exercise) — is any girl’s game. The following is a rundown of the top 10 contenders heading into the meet on Thursday, August 2.

1. Gabby Douglas, USA

Age: 16 (Dec. 31, 1995)
Hometown: Virginia Beach, Va.
Height: 4’11”
Weight: 90 pounds
Best event: Uneven Bars
Worst event: Floor Exercise

The “Flying Squirrel” is an uneven bars ace and a live wire with the upside to win it all. Douglas claimed uneven bar gold at the 2012 Visa Championships in St. Louis, where she earned silver in the all-around — behind gold medal winner Jordyn Wieber.

Having already graced the covers of TIME Magazine and Sports Illustrated, respectively, Gabby is no stranger to the Olympic spotlight. And her commitment is unquestioned after moving from Virginia Beach to West Des Moines, Iowa, in 2004 to train with Liang Chow — who also coached 2008 Beijing Olympics all-around silver medalist Shawn Johnson.

If Gabby can stay poised under pressure, she has the raw talent to join Nastia Liukin (2008), Carly Patterson (2004) and Mary Lou Retton (1984) as the only American women to win Olympic gold in the individual all-around.

2. Viktoria Komova, Russia

Age: 17 (Jan. 30, 1995)
Hometown: Voronezh, Russia
Height: 5’1”
Weight: 76 pounds
Best event: Uneven Bars
Worst event: Floor Exercise

“Vika” was the top qualifier at the Olympic preliminaries. Winner of the individual all-around silver medal at the 2011 World Championships in Tokyo — behind USA gold medalist Jordyn Wieber — Komova is another uneven bars whiz, taking gold at both the 2012 European Championships and 2011 Worlds.

3. Aliya Mustafina, Russia

Age: 17 (Sept. 30, 1994)
Hometown: Moscow, Russia
Height: 5’4”
Weight: 112 pounds
Best event: Uneven Bars
Worst event: Balance Beam

NBC labeled her the latest Russian diva, and "Musty" does have the attitude, style and talent to win gold. Mustafina won the individual all-around gold medal at the 2010 World Championships in Rotterdam, while also taking silver in the vault, uneven bars and floor exercise. However, a knee injury at the 2011 European Championships raised serious questions heading into the 2012 London Olympics. But Musty appears fit, which means she will be fierce competition.

4. Aly Raisman, USA

Age: 18 (May 25, 1994)
Hometown: Needham, Mass.
Height: 5’2”
Weight: 115 pounds
Best event: Floor Exercise
Worst event: Uneven Bars

Aly — a.k.a. “Alexandra” — has gotten a raw deal. After Raisman clinched one of the USA’s two spots in the individual all-around, not only did NBC’s cameras focus more on Wieber crying but the producers also gave her Polo-wearing parents (Ricky and Lynn) nearly as much air time as their daughter.

Make no mistake, Aly could go from underdog to the medal stand. She won individual all-around bronze medal, along with gold medals on floor and balance beam, at the 2012 Visa Championships in St. Louis, and also earned bronze medal on floor at the 2011 World Championships in Tokyo.

The oldest member of Team USA, the captain has already proven clutch on the floor exercise — where she nailed her routine to clinch her spot in the individual all-around competition.

5. Larisa Iordache, Romania

Age: 16 (June 19, 1996)
Hometown: Bucharest, Romania
Height: 4’11”
Weight: 82 pounds
Best event: Floor Exercise
Worst event: Uneven Bars

Romania faked out the gymnastics world by announcing that Iordache had had plantar fasciitis — a painful inflammation of the connective tissue on the sole of the foot — just days before preliminary qualifying. But their young star looked just fine in London, and is a threat to make a name for herself in the Games of the XXX Olympiad.

6. Linlin Deng, China

Age: 20 (April 21, 1992)
Hometown: Fuyang, Anhui, China
Height: 4’6”
Weight: 79 pounds
Best event: Balance Beam
Worst event: Uneven Bars

A member of China’s gold medal winning team at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Deng was also a gymnast whose age has been debated. In order to compete in the Olympics, gymnasts must turn 16 years old during the year of the games. Deng was either an illegal 14 years old or 16 years old in Beijing; making her either 18 or 20 this time around. No matter how old she is, Deng is still a tiny 4’6”, 79 pounds and brilliant on the balance beam.

7. Qiushuang Huang, China

Age: 20 (May 28, 1992)
Hometown: Xiangfan, Hubei, China
Height: 5’1”
Weight: 95 pounds
Best event: Uneven Bars
Worst event: Floor Exercise

Huang was not a member of the Chinese national team in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, but she was part of the bronze medal winning squad at the 2011 World Championships in Tokyo. In a down year for China, Huang joins Deng as the top threats.

8. Vanessa Ferrari, Italy

Age: 21 (Nov. 10, 1990)
Hometown: Genivolta, Cremona, Italy
Height: 4’9”
Weight: 97 pounds
Best event: Floor Exercise
Worst event: Uneven Bars

The name of the games, the compact Italian Ferrari is a ball of energy with the ability to dominate on the floor and on the beam. The 21-year-old veteran will put on a show but may not have the individual all-around game to medal.

9. Asuka Teramoto, Japan

Age: 16 (Nov. 19, 1995)
Hometown: Komaki, Japan
Height: 4’6”
Weight: 66 pounds
Best event: Vault
Worst event: Floor Exercise

One of the surprises in qualifying, Teramoto was more steady than spectacular. In fact, the miniature Japanese gymnast was the highest qualifier (eighth) who posted no score higher than a 14.600.

10. Rebecca Tunney, Great Britain

Age: 15 (Oct. 26, 1996)
Hometown: Manchester, United Kingdom
Height: 4’10”
Weight: 77 pounds
Best event: Uneven Bars
Worst event: Balance Beam

The local legend will have the crowd behind her. Tunney is the brightest star on Great Britain’s roster and she’s too young to know just what an opportunity she has at the 2012 London Olympics. If she medals, Tunney could be next in line to jump out of a plane with James Bond and the Queen. Of course, she’d stick her landing.


Women’s Gymnastics Olympic Schedule

Tuesday, July 31 – Team Competition
Thursday, Aug. 2 – Individual All-Around
Sunday, Aug. 5 – Vault
Monday, Aug. 6 – Uneven Bars
Tuesday, Aug. 7 – Floor Exercise
Tuesday, Aug. 7 – Balance Beam


The qualifying results from the preliminary competition held Sunday, July 29.

Team Qualifying Scores

1. USA (181.863)

2. Russia (180.429)

3. China (176.637)

4. Romania (176.264)

5. Great Britain (170.656)

6. Japan (170.196)

7. Italy (168.397)

8. Canada (167.696)


All-Around Qualifying Rank. Gymnast, Nation (Score)

1. Viktoria Komova, Russia (60.632)

2. Aly Raisman, USA (60.391)

3. Gabby Douglas, USA (60.265)

4. Jordyn Wieber, USA (60.232) *

5. Aliya Mustafina, Russia (59.966)

6. Linlin Deng, China (57.998)

7. Vanessa Ferrari, Italy (57.932)

8. Asuka Teramoto, Japan (57.865)

9. Larisa Andreea Iordache, Romania (57.800)

10. Qiushuang Huang, China (57.707)

11. Sandra Raluca Izbasa, Romania (57.532)

12. Anastasia Grishina, Russia (57.332) *

13. Jessica Lopez, Venezuela (56.665)

14. Elisabeth Seitz, Germany (56.466)

15. Rebecca Tunney, Great Britain (56.391)

16. Ana Sofia Gomez Porras, Guatemala (56.132)

17. Hannah Whelan, Great Britain (55.699)

18. Dominique Pegg, Canada (55.657)

19. Celine van Gerner, Netherlands (55.632)

20. Carlotta Ferlito, Italy (55.500)

21. Jennifer Pinches, Great Britain (55.266) *

22. Jinnan Yao, China (54.798) *

23. Giulia Steingruber, Switzerland (54.715)

24. Emily Little, Australia (54.498)

25. Aurelie Malaussena, France (54.399)

26. Marta Pihan-Kulesza, Poland (54.365)

27. Rie Tanaka, Japan (54.333)

28. Ashleigh Brennan, Australia (54.232)

* Did Not Qualify Due to “Wieber Rule”


Vault – Qualifying Rank. Gymnast, Nation (Score)

1. McKayla Maroney, USA (15.800)

2. Sandra Izbasa, Romania (15.316)

3. Maria Paseka, Russia (15.049)

4. Oksana Chusovitina, Germany (14.808)

5. Yamilet Pena Abreu, Dominican Republic (14.699)

6. Janine Berger, Germany (14.483)

7. Brittany Rogers, Canada (14.483)

8. Elsabeth Black, Canada (14.366)


Uneven Bars – Qualifying Rank. Gymnast, Nation (Score)

1. Elizabeth Tweddle, England (16.133)

2. Kexin He, China (15.966)

3. Viktoria Komova, Russia (15.833)

4. Jinnan Yao, China (15.766)

5. Aliya Mustafina, Russia (15.700)

6. Gabby Douglas, USA (15.333)

7. Qiushuang Huang, China (15.266) *

8. Elisabeth Seitz, Germany (15.166)

9. Koko Tsurumi, Japan (15.033)

* Did Not Qualify Due to “Wieber Rule”


Balance Beam – Qualifying Rank. Gymnast, Nation (Score)

1. Lu Sui, China (15.400)

2. Viktoria Komova, Russia (15.266)

3. Gabby Douglas, USA (15.266)

4. Linlin Deng, China (15.166)

5. Aly Raisman, USA (15.100)

6. Kyla Ross, USA (15.075) *

7. Kseniia Afanaseva, Russia (15.066)

8. Catalina Ponor, Romania (15.033)

9. Anastasia Grishina, Russia (14.900) *

10. Diana Laura Bulimar, Romania (14.866)

* Did Not Qualify Due to “Wieber Rule”


Floor – Qualifying Rank. Gymnast, Nation (Score)

1. Aly Raisman, USA (15.325)

2. Sandra Izbasa, Romania (15.066)

3. Vanessa Ferrari, Italy (14.900)

4. Kseniia Afanaseva, Russia (14.833)

5. Lauren Mitchell, Australia (14.833)

6. Jordyn Wieber, USA (14.666)

7. Catalina Ponor, Romania (14.600)

8. Aliya Mustafina, Russia (14.433)
 

Teaser:
<p> Jordyn Wieber did not qualify for the women’s gymnastics individual all-around competition at the 2012 London Olympics. But the USA still has Gabby Douglas and Aly Raisman, while Russia will contend with Viktoria Komova and Aliya Mustafina.</p>
Post date: Monday, July 30, 2012 - 20:34
All taxonomy terms: Olympics
Path: /olympics/funniest-official-2012-london-olympic-headshots
Body:

The official 2012 London Olympic headshots have to be seen to be believed. And even then, they don’t seem real. Here’s a few of the world’s worst photos of the world’s finest athletes.

Michael Phelps
USA
Swimming

The 14-time Olympic gold medalist was forced to put down the bong, exit the hacky sack circle and take a picture.

Andy Roddick
USA
Tennis

Roddick’s wife, swimsuit model Brooklyn Decker, has never taken a bad picture. Looks like Roddick has, though.

Usain Bolt
Jamaica
Track

Apparently, the reigning 100-meter and 200-meter Olympic champ submitted his high school yearbook photo.

Neymar
Brazil
Soccer

The beautiful game’s 20-year-old prodigy usually rocks a Mohawk, but decided mop-top bangs were a better look.

Misty May-Treanor
USA
Beach Volleyball

The face of her sport, May-Treanor almost certainly has a better driver’s license photo in her purse.

Anastasia Davydova
Russia
Synchronized swimming

Judging by this retouched image, if the girl with the butterfly tattoos were a mail-order bride, she’d arrive via email.

Ronjan Sodhi
India
Shooting

Insert your own joke here.

 

Daniela Hantuchova
Slovakia
Tennis

The blonde bombshell posed nude for ESPN’s Body Issue, then showed up naked for her Olympic photo shoot.

Nenad Filipovic
Serbia
Race walking

Everyone wants to know how to get in Hantuchova’s jeans and how to stop the spreading of the Filipovic’s genes.

Predrag Filipovic
Serbia
Race walking

Pre-drag’s other brother, Post-drag, did not qualify for the Olympics as a race walker due to his high heals.

Race Imboden
USA
Fencing

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish’s fencing star is giving Conan O’Brien’s famous coif a run for its money.

Shota Iizuka
Japan
Track

Did Shota take this shot under water? Or did he bring his own blue-green colored gel to cover the Olympic lens?

Anastasiya Juravleva
Uzbekistan
Triple jump

You just don’t see power suits with shoulder pads like you used to. No doubt about it, Juravleva remembers the 1980s.

Carol Rodriguez
Puerto Rico
Track

When the Zombie Apocalypse finally hits, Rodriguez’s speed will make her one of the most dangerous running dead.

Margarita Matsko
Kazakhstan
Track

Borat should follow Margarita around for cultural learnings of London for make benefit glorious nation of Kazakhstan.

Conlin McCabe
Canada
Rowing

Who knew late-90s-era Slim Shady qualified for the Olympics? Is “rowing” slang for something else? Probably.

Rico Freimuth
Germany
Decathlon

And early-90s-era Vanilla Ice is also competing? There is about to be a white boy rap battle — British style.

Maysa Rejepova
Turkmenistan
Track

Part of “Rapuzel” Rejepova’s cardio training for the London Olympics was jumping rope with her pigtails.

Yik Chun Tang
Hong Kong
Track

The smoking hot ladies in Olympic Village better brace themselves for this 4x100-meter relay runner-slash-playboy.

Yogeshwar Dutt
India
Wrestling

FYI, Dutt has a custom-made bowl for his hair-styling and a tailor-made powder blue jumpsuit for just styling.

Olivera Moldovan
Serbia
Canoe sprint

The bizarro farmer’s tan consists of a painfully red face surrounded by a pasty white forehead and body.

Amelie Solja
Austria
Table tennis

Appropriately nicknamed “Harry Potter” (seriously) this lady ping-pong pro must cast spells on her opponents.

Abdelrahman Eltrabily
Egypt
Wrestling

If Andre the Giant and an ogre from the desert had a kid, he’d probably be an Olympic wrestler — if not WWE wrassler.

Ele Opeloge
Samoa
Weightlifting

Even Ndamukong Suh doesn’t want to mess with Opeloge when she’s mad, tired, hungry or just posing for a headshot.

Jade Faulkner
Great Britain
Gymnastics

Young Jade is shocked that real cameras even exist; she thought only iPhones were capable of taking pictures.

Lesya Kalitovska
Ukraine
Cycling

Joe Dirt’s long lost sister has it all, especially a sweet mullet and irresistible throwback bangs.

Andrei Kavalenka
Belarus
Shooting

The last time I played Clue, it was the count or baron or whatever, in the kitchen with an Olympic rifle.

Linda Sembrant
Sweden
Soccer

Someone should have warned poor Linda just how provocative and dirty Terry Richardson photoshoots can be.

Yong Sim Choe
DPR of Korea
Soccer

The face of North Korea’s women’s soccer team is obviously disappointed by the news that Kim Jong-un is married.

Geoff Kabush
Canada
Mountain biking

Convincing people he’s Michael Phelps with a mustache will be Kabush’s hobby once he gets off the bike in London.

Marta Pihan-Kulesza
Poland
Gymnastics

More purple eye shadow, Marta! How many times do you need to be told? More purple eye shadow, Marta!

Joan Tomas Roca
Andorra
Shooting

Roca shot down the last man who made a Juan Valdez joke. He won’t tolerate even a reference to coffee or donkeys.

Matt Stanley
New Zealand
Swimming

Creepy contacts or vampire? Tough call. Stanley does compete indoors, away from the sunlight, however.

Robin Garnham
Great Britain
Handball

If Pau Gasol thinks he has the neck-beard market locked down, he’s in for a surprise this summer in London.

Polona Batagelj
Slovenia
Cycling

Peppermint Patty’s new hairstyle helps, but the constant bike riding in Birkenstocks is still an issue.

Yannick Brauchli
Switzerland
Sailing

Decided to use the photo already hanging in the post office as his official Olympic mug shot. It’s a branding thing.

Alan Wills
Great Britain
Archery

Gollum is played by Ron Howard’s brother in this revisioning of the Lord of the Rings.

David Katoatau
Kiribati
Weightlifting

Anthony Davis’ unibrow is tame compared to Kat-daddy’s thicker, more aggressive black brow(s).

Jinhyeok Jeong
South Korea
Marathon

The Korean Justin Bieber will feel like he ran a marathon after wading through the mobs of fans in London.

Tjasa Oder
Slovenia
Swimming

Andy Warhol’s style isn’t just about Campbell’s soup and Marilyn Monroe prints; there’s also swimming involved.

Yauheni Hutarovich
Belarus
Cycling

Sure, Yauheni the Hut has an unstoppable mullet. But the wispy mustache on the corners of his mouth is the best.

Joao Monteiro
Portugal
Table tennis

Annie Leibovitz and Vanity Fair will be pissed when they find out Monty used his cover photo as an Olympic headshot.

Vardan Pahlevanyan
Armenia
Long jump

The turtle neck is just not enough. Better wear a wide-neck over-sweater, just to be safe.

Hector Herrera
Mexico
Soccer

X-Y axis? Proportional? What are you talking about? Herrera's head is naturally shaped like a soccer ball.

Joshua Binstock
Canada
Beach volleyball

Never look directly at the Northern Lights — your face will be seen through the prism of a carnival-mirror.

by Nathan Rush
 

Teaser:
<p> The official 2012 London Olympic headshots of Michael Phelps, Usain Bolt, Andy Roddick, Misty May-Treanor have to be seen to be believed. These are the worst photos of the best athletes in the world.</p>
Post date: Thursday, July 26, 2012 - 06:05
All taxonomy terms: Olympics
Path: /olympics/top-10-athletes-over-30-london-olympics
Body:

Olympians over 30 years old are often overshadowed by teen sensations and twenty-somethings. But the 2012 London Olympics will have plenty of older, wiser and more accomplished athletes to watch at the Games of the XXX Olympiad. Here are 10 such Olympians, listed from oldest to youngest.

Hiroshi Hoketsu, 71, Japan equestrian

The oldest athlete at the 2008 Beijing Olympics — where he finished ninth in the team Dressage and 35th in the individual Dressage events — Hoketsu retains his title as the 2012 London Olympics’ eldest statesman.

At 71, he is just months shy of becoming the oldest Olympian in history. That distinction belongs to 72-year-old Swedish shooter Oscar Swahn, who won a silver medal at the 1920 Antwerp Olympics.

Hoketsu first competed as a 22-year-old in his hometown at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. He was an alternate at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics and was set to compete in the 1988 Seoul Olympics but was unable to due to his horse, which was quarantined due to illness.

A graduate of Keio University in Tokyo and Duke University — where he earned a graduate degree in economics — Hoketsu had a successful career at Johnson & Johnson as well as Ortho-Clinical Diagnostics before retiring in 2002.

In 2003, Hoketsu started training full-time in Germany with coach Ton de Ridder. The rest is history — or near-history, at least. Hoketsu, along with his horse Whisper, will be making plenty of noise in London this summer.

And with any luck, Hoketsu will break Swahn’s record to become the oldest Olympian in history four years from now at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

Giovanni Pellielo, 42, Italy trap shooting

While gold has been elusive for the 42-year-old Italian sharpshooter, Pellielo has been on the medal stand in each of the past three Olympics — winning silver in 2008 and 2004, along with bronze in 2000. He will face familiar competition in London, battling 2008 gold medal-winning 37-year-old Czech shooter David Kostelecky.

Jessica Crisp, 42, Australia windsurfing

At the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, a 14-year-old Crisp competed in what was then a demonstration event. The prodigy turned into a world champion and will be making her fourth Olympic appearance in London at the age of 42, having already took sail in Sydney, Athens and Beijing.

Meb Keflezighi, 37, USA marathon

A refugee from Eritrea, Keflezighi competed collegiately at UCLA, where he won four NCAA championships — cross-country, 10,000-meters (outdoors) and 5,000-meters (indoors and outdoors) — in 1997. Keflezighi is also a three-time winner of the USA Cross Counry Championships (2001, 2002, 2009).

At the 2004 Athens Olympics, Keflezighi won a silver medal in the men’s marathon (2:11:29) — becoming the first American man to medal in the marathon since 1976. Four years later, Keflezighi failed to qualify for the 2008 Beijing Olympics after battling dehydration and a broken hip at the Olympic Trials.

In 2009, Keflezighi became the first American to win the New York City Marathon (2:09:13) since 1982. He topped that time earlier this year, becoming the oldest winner of the Olympic Trials (2:09:08).

In London, the 37-year-old will attempt to run 42.195 km (26.6 miles) faster than his much younger competition.

Fabiola Molina, 37, Brazil 100-meter backstroke

The beautiful Brazilian gets nearly as much attention out of the pool, modeling her own swimwear line, as she does in the water as a world-class swimmer. At 37 years old, Molina has definitely still got it.

After enduring a six-month ban for testing positive to methylhexaneamine in April 2011, Molina bounced back to qualify for the 100-meter backstroke with a time of 1:00.74. This will be the third Olympic appearance for Molina, who also competed at the 2000 Sydney Olympics and 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Ryan Bailey, 36, USA water polo

The oldest member of the USA men’s national water polo team is a 6’6”, 245-pound center forward. The 36-year-old Bailey will compete in his fourth Olympics. Bailey scored seven goals en route to a silver medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, marking the first medal for Team USA since 1988. Overall, Bailey has scored 12 Olympic goals. He also owns team records for both the bench press (385 pounds) and fastest shot (54 mph).

Cadel Evans, 35, Australia cycling

“Cuddles” became the oldest post-war winner of the Tour de France, wearing the yellow jersey and drinking champagne down the Champs-Elysees in 2011. Despite a disappointing seventh-place finish at this year’s Tour de France, Evans enters his fourth Olympics in search of his first medal — looking to beat his fifth-place road race finish of 2008.

Misty May-Treanor, 35, USA beach volleyball

The 35-year-old May-Treanor and 33-year-old teammate Kerri Walsh are reigning two-time Olympic gold medalists on the beach. And the dynamic duo enters London with their sights set on a three-peat to cap their Olympic careers.

Being the best is nothing new to May-Treanor, who was USA Today’s high school girl’s volleyball player of the year in 1994 and the captain of the NCAA’s first undefeated team at Long Beach State in 1998. Since then, she has dominated professional beach volleyball with teammates Holly McPeak (1999-2000), Walsh (2001-09, 2011-12) and Nicole Branagh (2010).

But after suffering a torn Achilles tendon while training for ABC’s hit show “Dancing with the Stars” shortly after winning gold in 2008, May-Treanor has finally started to show her age. A third straight Olympic gold medal, however, would quiet her few critics and be a fitting end for the longtime face of the sport.

Kobe Bryant, 33, USA basketball

The graybeard on Team USA, Kobe is the veteran leader of a red, white and blue triumvirate that also includes 27-year-old LeBron James and 23-year-old Kevin Durant. After boasting that this year’s squad could beat the 1992 Dream Team, the 33-year-old Bryant — a five-time NBA champion and 2008 Olympic gold medalist — will have to back up his big talk on the court in London.

Abby Wambach, 32, USA soccer

The second leading scorer in USA Women’s National Team history — behind the legendary Mia Hamm — was forced to miss the 2008 Beijing Olympics due to a broken leg. As a result, the 32-year-old Wambach is champing at the bit to run onto the pitch at historic Wembley Stadium, where the Olympic Gold Medal Match will be played.
 

Teaser:
<p> The top 10 athletes over 30 years old at the 2012 London Olympics. These Olympians should not be overshadowed by their younger competition.</p>
Post date: Tuesday, July 24, 2012 - 12:38
Path: /nba/ranking-every-usa-men%E2%80%99s-basketball-team-0
Body:

Could the 2012 Team USA beat the 1992 Dream Team? Kobe Bryant thinks so, but Michael Jordan laughs at the idea. First things first, this year’s squad must win the gold medal — and do so in historic style — in order to challenge the throne.

Here’s a rankings rundown of the 16 USA men’s basketball teams in Olympic history:

Gold Standards 

The USA has claimed the gold medal in 13 of the 16 Olympics in which Americans have competed.

1. 1992 Barcelona

With 11 future Hall of Famers and one college legend, the original “Dream Team” changed the global landscape of basketball.

“It was like Elvis and the Beatles put together,” coach Chuck Daly said. “Traveling with the Dream Team was like traveling with 12 rock stars.”

Until further notice, the first team of NBA players remains the best.

Record: 8–0
USA ppg: 117.3
OPP. ppg: 73.5
Avg. Margin: 43.8 ppg
Gold Medal Game: Croatia (117–85)

Coach: Chuck Daly, Detroit Pistons
Player, Pos. (Stats):
Michael Jordan, G (14.9 ppg, 4.5 apg, 4.6 spg)
Charles Barkley, F (18.0 ppg, 71.1 FG%)
Karl Malone, F (13.0 ppg, 5.3 rpg)
Scottie Pippen, F (9.0 ppg, 5.9 apg, 2.9 spg)
Patrick Ewing, C (9.5 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 1.9 bpg)
Magic Johnson, G (8.0 ppg, 4.1 apg)
Larry Bird, F
David Robinson, C
Chris Mullin, F
Clyde Drexler, G
John Stockton, G
Christian Laettner, F


2. 2008 Beijing

The “Redeem Team” had arguably the most athletic roster in Olympic history — with a young LeBron, D-Wade, Dwight and Melo, and a young-er Kobe.

Record: 8–0
USA ppg: 106.2
OPP. ppg: 78.4
Avg. Margin: 27.8 ppg
Gold Medal Game: Spain (118–107)

Coach: Mike Krzyzewski, Duke University
Player, Pos. (Stats):
LeBron James, F (15.5 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 3.8 apg)
Dwyane Wade, G (16.0 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 2.25 spg)
Kobe Bryant, G (15.0 ppg, 2.8 rpg)
Dwight Howard, C (10.9 ppg, 5.8 rpg)
Carmelo Anthony, F (11.5 ppg, 4.3 rpg)
Chris Bosh, F (9.1 ppg, 6.1 rpg)
Chris Paul, G (8.0 ppg, 4.1 apg, 3.6 rpg)
Jason Kidd, G
Deron Williams, G
Tayshaun Prince, F
Carlos Boozer, F
Michael Redd


3. 1996 Atlanta

It would be hard for any Team USA to deal with the size of this host nation roster — which included David Robinson, Shaquille O’Neal, Hakeem Olajuwon, Charles Barkley and Karl Malone.

Record: 8–0
USA ppg: 102.0
OPP. ppg: 70.3
Avg. Margin: 31.7 ppg
Gold Medal Game: Yugoslavia (95–69)

Coach: Lenny Wilkens, Atlanta Hawks
Player, Pos. (Stats):
Charles Barkley, F (12.4 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 81.6 FG%)
David Robinson, C (12.0 ppg, 4.6 rpg)
Scottie Pippen, F (11.0 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 3.3 apg)
Reggie Miller, G (11.4 ppg, 17-of-41 from 3)
Shaquille O’Neal, C (9.3 ppg, 5.3 rpg)
Penny Hardaway, G (9.0 ppg, 4.4 apg)
Karl Malone, F (8.4 ppg, 4.5 rpg)
Grant Hill, F (9.7 ppg)
Gary Payton, G
John Stockton, G
Hakeem Olajuwon, C
Mitch Richmond, G


4. 1984 Los Angeles

Three future Dream Teamers (M.J., Ewing, Mullin), plenty of NBA-ready size (Tisdale, Perkins) and solid guard play (Roberton, Alford, Flemming) makes Robert Montgomery Knight’s squad the top Olympic college roster of all-time.

Record: 8–0
USA ppg: 95.4
OPP. ppg: 63.3
Avg. Margin: 32.1 ppg
Gold Medal Game: Spain (96–65)

Coach: Bob Knight, Indiana University
Player, Pos. (Stats):
Michael Jordan, G (17.1 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 2.0 apg)
Patrick Ewing, C (11.0 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 2.3 bpg)
Chris Mullin, F (11.6 ppg, 3.0 apg, 2.5 rpg)
Wayman Tisdale, F (8.6 ppg, 6.4 rpg)
Sam Perkins, F (8.1 ppg, 5.4 rpg)
Alvin Robertson, G (7.8 ppg, 2.1 spg)
Steve Alford, G (10.3 ppg)
Vern Flemming, G
Leon Wood, G
Joe Kleine, F
Jon Koncak, C
Jeff Turner, F


5. 1960 Rome

With three of the NBA’s top 50 players — the Big O running the show, the Logo shooting from the outside and Lucas down low — it’s hard to deny that Rome witnessed one of the most talented, balanced, albeit top-heavy, USA rosters ever.

Record: 8–0
USA ppg: 101.9
OPP. ppg: 59.5
Avg. Margin: 42.4 ppg
Gold Medal Game: Soviet Union

Coach: Pete Newell, University of California
Player, Pos. (Stats):
Oscar Robertson, G (17.0 ppg)
Jerry Lucas, C (17.0 ppg)
Jerry West, G (13.8 ppg)
Terry Dischinger, F (11.8 ppg)
Adrian Smith, G (10.9 ppg)
Walt Bellamy, C (7.9 ppg)
Robert Boozer, F
Lester Lane, G
Darrall Imoff, C
Jay Arnette, F
Burdette Haldorson, F
Allen Kelley, G


6. 2000 Sydney

Vince-anity jumping of French 7-footer Frederic Weis was the highlight of this roster — which was the first Team USA that elite NBA players (looking at you, Shaq and Kobe) thought they were too cool to play on.

Record: 8–0
USA ppg: 95.0
OPP. ppg: 73.4
Avg. Margin: 21.6 ppg
Gold Medal Game: France (85–75)

Coach: Rudy Tomjanovich, Houston Rockets
Player, Pos. (Stats):
Kevin Garnett, F (10.8 ppg, 9.1 rpg)
Vince Carter, F (14.8 ppg)
Alonzo Mourning, C (10.2 ppg)
Ray Allen, G (9.8 ppg, 10-of-19 from 3)
Jason Kidd, G (6.0 ppg, 4.4 apg)
Allan Houston, G
Antonio McDyess, F
Shareef Abdur-Rahim, F
Vin Baker, F
Steve Smith, G
Gary Payton, G
Penny Hardaway, G


7. 1976 Montreal

The electric Dantley was flanked by undefeated 1976 Hoosiers (May and Buckner) and coach Dean Smith’s Tar Heels (Kupchak and Ford), giving this team even more built-in chemistry than most.

Record: 6–0
USA ppg: 97.3
OPP. ppg: 83.3
Avg. Margin: 14.0 ppg
Gold Medal Game: Yugoslavia (95–74)

Coach: Dean Smith, University of North Carolina
Player, Pos. (Stats):
Adrian Dantley, G (19.3 ppg, 5.7 rpg)
Scott May, F (16.7 ppg, 6.2 rpg)
Mitch Kupchak, C (12.5 ppg, 5.7 rpg)
Phil Ford, G (11.3 ppg)
Quinn Buckner, G
Kenny Carr, F
Tom LaGarde, C
Phil Hubbard, F
Walter Davis, F
Ernie Grunfeld, F
Tates Armstrong, G
Steven Sheppard, G


8. 1956 Melbourne

As always, Russell — an 11-time NBA champion, two-time NCAA champion and gold medalist — turned defense into offense, en route to the greatest average margin of victory in USA men’s basketball history (53.5 ppg).

Record: 8–0
USA ppg: 99.1
OPP. ppg: 45.6
Avg. Margin: 53.5 ppg
Gold Medal Game: Soviet Union (89–55)

Coach: Gerald Tucker, Phillips 66ers
Player, Pos. (Stats):
Bill Russell, C (14.1 ppg)
Robert Jeangerard, F (12.5 ppg)
Ron Tomsic, G (11.1 ppg)
K.C. Jones, G (10.9 ppg)
Charles Darling, C (9.3 ppg)
James Walsh, G (9.1 ppg)
Burdette Haldorson, F (8.6 ppg)
Dick Boushka, F (8.0 ppg)
William Evans, G
William Hougland, F
Gilbert Ford, G
Carl Cain, F

 

9. 1964 Tokyo

Iba’s first of two golds (and one silver medal) leading Team USA. Bradley and future bronze-winning coach Brown headline a relatively boring roster.

Record: 9–0
USA ppg: 78.2
OPP. ppg: 48.2
Avg. Margin: 30.0 ppg
Gold Medal Game: Soviet Union (73–59)

Coach: Henry Iba, Oklahoma State University
Player, Pos. (Stats):
Jerry Shipp, G (12.4 ppg)
Bill Bradley, F (10.1 ppg)
Luious Jackson, F (10.0 ppg)
Joe Caldwell, G (9.0 ppg)
Larry Brown, G
Walt Hazzard, G
Jim Barnes, C
Melvin Counts, C
George Wilson, F
Pete McCaffery, F
Richard Davies, G
Jeff Mullins, F

10. 1968 Mexico City

The inside-outside duo of Haywood and Jones might have trouble against some of the USA’s deeper rosters.

Record: 9–0
USA ppg: 82.1
OPP. ppg: 56.1
Avg. Margin: 26.0 ppg
Gold Medal Game: Yugoslavia (65–50)

Coach: Henry Iba, Oklahoma State University
Player, Pos. (Stats):
Spencer Haywood, C (16.1 ppg)
Jo Jo White, G (11.7 ppg)
Michael Silliman, F
Charles Scott, F
Bill Hosket, F
Calvin Fowler, G
Michael Barrett, G
Glynn Saulters, G
Donald Dee, F
Ken Spain, C
John Clawson, G
James King, F


11. 1948 London

Adolph Rupp served as an assistant coach on a team that preferred to squeeze the air out of the basketball and feed the post with Groza, Kurland and Barksdale.

Record: 8–0
USA ppg: 65.5
OPP. ppg: 32.0
Avg. Margin: 33.5 ppg
Gold Medal Game: France (65–21)

Coach: Omar Browning, Phillips 66ers
Player, Pos. (Stats):
Alex Groza, C (11.1 ppg)
Robert Kurland, C (9.3 ppg)
Don Barksdale, F (9.0 ppg)
R.C. Pitts, F
Raymond Lumpp, G
Wallace Jones, F
Gordon Carpenter, F
Vincent Boryla, G
Jesse Renick, G
Lewis Beck, G
Kenneth Rollins, G
Clifford Barker, F
Ralph Beard, G
Jack Robinson, G


12. 1952 Helsinki

NIBL coach Warren Womble had a team that revolved around Lovellette — the first player in history to win championships at the NCAA, NBA and Olympic levels.

Record: 8–0
USA ppg: 70.3
OPP. ppg: 50.8
Avg. Margin: 19.5 ppg
Gold Medal Game: Soviet Union (36–25)

Coach: Warren Womble, Peoria Caterpillars
Player, Pos. (Stats):
Clyde Lovellette, F (14.1 ppg)
Robert Kenney, G (10.9 ppg)
Robert Kurland, C (9.6 ppg)
Ronald Bontemps, G
Dan Pippin, G
Marcus Freiberger, C
William Hougland, G
Wayne Glasgow, G
William Lienhard, F
Frank McCabe, F
Howard Williams, G
Charles Hoag, G
John Keller, F
Melvin Kelley, G


13. 1936 Berlin

The first Team USA is the worst gold medal squad in history. In fairness, the game has evolved quite a bit since the Olympics’ top team averaged less than 40 points per game.

Record: 5–0
USA ppg: 38.0
OPP. ppg: 17.3
Avg. Margin: 17.0 ppg
Gold Medal Game: Canada (19–8)

Coach: James Needles, Universal Pictures
Player, Pos. (Stats):
Joe Fortenberry, C (14.5 ppg)
Frank Lubin, F (11.0 ppg)
Francis Johnson, G (10.0 ppg)
Sam Balter, G
Willard Schmidt, C
John Gibbons, G
Carl Shy, G
William Wheatley, F
Jack Ragland, G
Carl Knowles, F
Art Mollner, G
Ralph Bishop, G
Don Piper, G
Duane Swanson, F


Silver Screwed

The only Team USA to lose a Gold Medal Game refused to accept their silver medals.

14. 1972 Munich

Controversy reigned supreme, as biased officiating led to the fist loss in USA Olympic men’s basketball history.

Record: 8–1
USA ppg: 77.3
OPP. ppg: 44.6
Avg. Margin: 32.7 ppg
Loss: Soviet Union (51–50)

Coach: Henry Iba, Oklahoma State University
Player, Pos. (Stats):
Thomas Henderson, G (9.2 ppg)
Bobby Jones, C (9.2 ppg, 5.7 rpg)
Mike Bantom, F (7.7 ppg, 4.9 rpg)
Jim Brewer, F (7.6 ppg, 7.1 rpg)
Doug Collins, G (7.3 ppg)
Tom McMillen, F
Ed Ratleff, F
Kevin Joyce, G
James Forbes, F
Dwight Jones, C
Tommy Burleson, C
Kenny Davis, G


Bronze Busts

Unlike the 1972 squad, these two disappointments have no excuse for failing to even advance to the Gold Medal Game.

15. 1988 Seoul

Team USA was no match for a Soviet Union roster of grown men — including 7-footer Arvydas Sabonis and wingman Sarunas Marciulionis.

Record: 7–1
USA ppg: 91.6
OPP. ppg: 61.3
Avg. Margin: 30.3 ppg
Loss: Soviet Union (82–76)

Coach: John Thompson, Georgetown University
Player, Pos. (Stats):
David Robinson, C (12.8 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 2.4 bpg)
Dan Majerle, G (14.1 ppg, 4.8 rpg)
Danny Manning, F (11.4 ppg, 6.0 rpg)
Mitch Richmond, G (8.9 ppg, 3.4 rpg)
Hersey Hawkins, G (8.8 ppg)
Charles E. Smith, G
Charles D. Smith, F
Vernell Coles, G
Jeff Grayer, G
J.R. Reid, F
Willie Anderson, G
Stacey Augmon, F


16. 2004 Athens

Larry Brown used the same starting lineup for all eight games — riding Iverson, Marbury, Odom, Jefferson and Duncan to an embarrassing 5–3 record while the 22-and-under crew of LeBron, D-Wade, Carmelo and Amare spent most of their time on the bench. After all, Brown is notorious for not playing young guys. He showed them. He showed us all.

The 2004 Athens Olympics was easily the worst showing in Team USA history.

Record: 5–3
USA ppg: 88.1
OPP. ppg: 83.5
Avg. Margin: 4.6 ppg
Losses: Puerto Rico (92–73), Lithuania (94–90), Argentina (89–81)

Coach: Larry Brown, Detroit Pistons
Player, Pos. (Stats):
Allen Iverson, G (13.8 ppg, 37.8 FG%)
Tim Duncan, C (12.9 ppg, 9.1 rpg)
Stephon Marbury, G (10.5 ppg, 3.4 apg)
Shawn Marion, F (9.9 ppg, 5.9 rpg)
Lamar Odom, F (9.3 ppg, 5.8 rpg)
Richard Jefferson, F
Dwyane Wade, G
Carlos Boozer, F
LeBron James, F
Amare Stoudemire, C
Carmelo Anthony, F
Emeka Okafor, C

by Nathan Rush
 

Teaser:
<p> Ranking the 16 USA Men’s Basketball Teams in Olympic History. Could the 2012 Team USA beat the 1992 Dream Team?</p>
Post date: Monday, July 23, 2012 - 12:50
All taxonomy terms: News, Olympics
Path: /olympics/2012-london-olympics-countries-could-steal-gold-usa
Body:

America loves a winner and Americans cherish every opportunity we have to prove we’re the best in the world. As a result, the USA has developed a Ricky Bobby complex when it comes to competition — “If you ain’t first, you’re last.” Nowhere will this be truer than at the 2012 London Olympics, where gold will certainly be the only medal worth its weight in TV time, Q Scores and endorsement dollars.

Our greatest Olympians have been dipped in gold. Mark Spitz is remembered for wearing his then-record seven gold medals from the 1972 Munich Olympics in an iconic photo that has since been paid homage to by Michael Phelps — who wore his record-setting eight golds from the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Michael Johnson took it up a notch when he wore gold shoes while sprinting for gold at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

Four years ago in Beijing, host country China trumped the USA, 51-to-36, in the gold medal count. But America took home the most gold in the previous three Olympics — in Athens, Sydney and Atlanta, respectively.

This time around in London, several of the USA’s traditional gold medal events are in jeopardy. Here’s a rundown of the countries the USA will need to beat out in order to stand atop the medal stand, play the “Star Spangled Banner” and, most important, win Olympic gold.

Jamaica Track (100m, 200m, 4x100m)
Who is the fastest in a foot race? It doesn’t get more basic than that in the Olympics. Lately, everyone has been chasing the winged-feet from the island of Jamaica.

Usain Bolt, 25
The 100-meter and 200-meter gold medal-winning, world record shattering Bolt is chasing “living legend” status. A long-striding 6’5” physical specimen, Bolt currently owns the world record times in the 100 meters (9.69) and 200 meters (19.30).

He is also the anchor leg of Jamaica’s 4x100-meter relay team — along with Yohan Blake, Michael Frater and Nesta Carter — which set a new world record (37.04) at the 2011 World Championships in South Korea. At that same event, Bolt was disqualified from the 100 meter final following a false start, but won gold in the 200 meters and 4x100 relay.

There are rumors of a lingering hamstring issue entering London, but Bolt is the man to beat until he proves otherwise on a global stage.

Yohan Blake, 22
“The Beast” is Bolt’s training partner and chief competition, having won gold in the 100 meters (9.92) at the 2011 World Championships. Blake also outran Bolt in Olympic qualifying heats in Jamaica. The young buck could make a splash by dethroning his countryman in London.

For the USA, Walter Dix, Tyson Gay and Justin Gatlin remain the most likely medalists. Dix finished second to Blake and Bolt, respectively, at the 2011 Worlds. Gatlin won gold in the 100 at the 2004 Athens Olympics. In the relay, dropped baton passes — like the one at the 2011 World Championships — have become more of an issue than speed.

Veronica Campbell-Brown, 30
The Jamaican women will also be tough to keep up with. Campbell-Brown enters her fourth Olympic Games as the reigning World and Olympic champion in the 200 meters. Her top rivals from the USA are Carmelita Jeter and Allyson Felix. At the 2011 Worlds, Jeter won gold in the 100, while VCB took silver; VCB won gold in the 200, while Jeter and Fox settled for silver and bronze.

 

Spain Men’s Basketball
America’s game is on the hardwood and anything but gold would send shockwaves stateside. Clearly, Team USA is the overwhelming favorite. But with a rash of injuries to the USA and so many NBA stars playing for other countries, there is an outside chance of falling short.

Pau Gasol, 32 (7’0”, 250)
Marc Gasol, 27 (7’1”, 265)
Serge Ibaka, 22 (6’10”, 235)

There is no denying that Spain has more size up front than does the USA. The 7-foot Gasol brothers are NBA All-Stars and Ibaka led the NBA in blocked shots this season. The Spaniards also have talented guards and a total of eight players with NBA experience.

Recently, Team USA struggled to an ugly 80–69 scrimmage win over Brazil — a poor man’s Spain, with big men Nene, Anderson Varejao and Tiago Splitter, but relatively little skilled guard play. That was not a good sign of things to come against Spain, the silver medal winners at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Still, with LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant leading the way on the court and Coach K on the sideline, Team USA should be able to bring home another gold medal.

 

Russia Women’s Gymnastics
China won a controversial women’s all-around team gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, but the Russian women are once again the stiffest (and most limber) competition for the USA, winners of the gold medal at the 2011 World Championships in Tokyo — over both Russia (silver) and China (bronze) — and silver medalists at the Beijing Olympics.

Viktoria Komova, 17
Runner-up to American sensation Jordyn Wieber in the individual all-around competition at the 2011 World Championships, Komova also claimed gold on the uneven bars.

Aliya Mustafina, 17
Battling back from injury, Mustafina won gold in the individual all-around at 2010 World Championships in Rotterdam. At that same competition, Mustafina also claimed silver on the vault, uneven bars and floor exercise.

The past two individual all-around champions have been American women — Nastia Liukin (2008 Beijing) and Carly Patterson (2004 Athens). Shawn Johnson also earned a silver in Beijing. But the USA has only one team gold medal in history, at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics — with a squad that included Shannon Miller, Dominique Dawes and Kerri Strug.

 

Brazil Women’s Soccer
In the brief history of Olympic women’s soccer, the USA has never finished outside of the top two — claiming three gold medals (2008, 2004, 1996) and one silver (2000). The last two gold medal matches have come against Brazil, with the USA taking a 2–1 win in Athens and a 1–0 victory in Beijing.

Marta, 26
Arguably the beautiful game’s top talent, Brazil’s top striker is a five-time World Player of the Year (2006-10) and two-time Olympic silver medalist. Should there be a rematch (three-match?) of the past two gold medal matches, Team USA goalkeeper Hope Solo will have her hands full attempting to keep Marta off the score sheet.

by Nathan Rush

Teaser:
<p> Competition at the 2012 London Olympics will be tough in several of the USA's most popular sports. The USA will have to outclass Jamaica track, Spain men's basketball, Russia women's gymnastics and Brazil women's soccer.</p>
Post date: Friday, July 20, 2012 - 12:29
Path: /nba/nba-olympians-not-team-usa
Body:

From the time men’s basketball tips off on July 29 at the 2012 London Olympics until the Gold Medal Game on August 12, there will be NBA players suiting up in jerseys other than the red, white and blue of Team USA.

International stars whose collective resumes include NBA championships, All-Star appearances, Sixth Man of the Year awards, a Rookie of the Year award and All-Defensive Team honors will compete against Team USA’s one-name global icons like LeBron and Kobe.

On the 20th anniversary of the 1992 Dream Team, here’s a look at the NBA talent that will compete in the Olympics for countries other than the USA.

 

Country (Best Olympic result)
Player, Height, Pos. (NBA team)

Spain (Silver: 2008, 1984)
The Gasol brothers, Pau and Marc, are joined by Congolese shot-blocker Serge Ibaka — who was recently nationalized by Spain — to give the Spaniards the best frontcourt in the tournament. La Roja would be even more dangerous if 21-year-old pass-first point man Ricky Rubio (knee) were healthy enough to play.

Spain lost 118–107 in the 2008 Beijing Olympics’ Gold Medal Game and trailed by only four points with just over two minutes to play. In order to remain as competitive without Rubio running the show, Spain must capitalize on its inside edge. They will attempt to take the air out of the ball, slow down Team USA’s fastbreak tempo and play an inside-out halfcourt style that relies on the Gasol brothers in the post and 3-point marksmen on the outside. Size matters, and Spain’s frontline is gigante.

Pau Gasol, 7-0, PF (Lakers, 4-time NBA All-Star)
Marc Gasol, 7-1, C (Grizzlies, 1-time NBA All-Star)
Serge Ibaka, 6-10, F/C (Thunder, 2012 NBA blocks leader)
Rudy Fernandez, 6-6, SG (Nuggets)
Jose Calderon, 6-3, PG (Raptors)
Victor Claver, 6-9, PF (Blazers)
Sergio Rodriguez, 6-3, PG (Knicks, 2010)
Juan Carlos Navarro, 6-3, SG (Grizzlies, 2008)

 

Argentina (Gold: 2004)
The Argentines return essentially the same squad that won the gold medal at the 2004 Athens Olympics — albeit eight years older, wiser and slower.

In 2004, Argentina defeated the USA, 89–81, in the semifinals, led by Manu Ginobili’s 29 points. After shocking Larry Brown’s Team USA — whose starting five consisted of Allen Iverson, Tim Duncan, Stephon Marbury, Lamar Odom and Richard Jefferson — La Albiceleste routed Italy, 84–69, in the Gold Medal Game.

Manu Ginobili, 6-6, SG (Spurs, 2-time NBA All-Star)
Luis Scola, 6-9, PF (Rockets)
Carlos Delfino, 6-6, G/F (Bucks)
Andres Nocioni, 6-7, F (76ers)

 

France (Silver: 2000, 1948)
Tony Parker will rock a pair of sweet shades after suffering an eye injury in the Drake-Chris Brown NYC nightclub melee. But Eva Longoria’s ex-husband will play for Les Bleus. But without wild child big man Joakim Noah (ankle), France will have little chance against Team USA.

Tony Parker, 6-2, PG (Spurs, 4-time NBA All-Star)
Nicolas Batum, 6-8, SF (Blazers)
Boris Diaw, 6-8, PF (Spurs)
Ronny Turiaf, 6-10, C (Heat)
Kevin Seraphin, 6-9, C (Wizards)
Nando De Colo, 6-5, SG (Spurs)

 

Brazil (Bronze: 1964, 1960, 1948)
This samba is a warm-up for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Brazil looks better on paper than it does on the court. But who knows? Maybe Neymar or Pele will show up to take in another beautiful game.

Leandro Barbosa, 6-3, SG (Pacers)
Anderson Varejao, 6-11, C (Cavaliers)
Nene, 6-11, F/C (Wizards)
Tiago Splitter, 6-11, F/C (Spurs)

 

Great Britain (No Olympic Medals)
Ben Gordon (shoulder) bailed on the host country, leaving a banged-up Luol Deng (wrist) to lead Great Britain.

Luol Deng, 6-9, SF (Bulls, 1-time NBA All-Star)
Joel Freeland, 6-10, F/C (Blazers)
Pops Mensah-Bonsu, 6-9, PF (Hornets, 2011)

 

Lithuania (Bronze: 2000, 1996, 1992)
Arvydas Sabonis and Sarunas Marciulionis aren’t walking through that door. But basketball geeks will get a chance to scout the No. 5 overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, 20-year-old center Jonas Valanciunas — who will make his NBA debut on this side of the pond (but north of the border) for the Raptors in 2012-13.

Linas Kleiza, 6-8, PF (Raptors)
Jonas Valanciunas, 6-11, C (Raptors)

 

Russia (No Olympic Medals)
Even the 40th anniversary of the 1972 Soviet Union gold medal robbery won’t be enough to push Russia over the top.

Andrei Kirilenko, 6-9, SF (Jazz, 2011, 1-time NBA All-Star)
Timofey Mozgov, 7-1, C (Nuggets)

 

Australia (No Olympic Medals)
The Boomers will miss 7-foot former No. 1 overall draft pick Andrew Bogut (ankle).

Patrick Mills, 6-0, PG (Spurs)
David Andersen, 6-11, C (Hornets, 2011)

 

Nigeria (No Olympic Medals)
Ranked No. 21 in the world, Nigeria is just happy to be here.

Al-Farouq Aminu, 6-9, PF (Hornets)
Ike Diogu, 6-10, PF (Spurs)

 

China (No Olympic Medals)
Yo, where’s Yao?

 

Yi Jianlian, 6-11, PF (Mavericks)
Sun Yue, 6-9, G/F (Lakers, 2009)
Wang Zhizhi, 7-0, C (Heat, 2005)

 

London Dozen

How the 12 Olympic qualifiers advanced to the Games of the XXX Olympiad.

USA – FIBA World Championship (winner)
Spain – FIBA EuroBasket (winner)
France – FIBA EuroBasket (runner-up)
Argentina – FIBA Americas Championship (winner)
Brazil – FIBA Americas Championship (runner-up)
China – FIBA Asia Championship (winner)
Tunisia – FIBA Africa Championship (winner)
Australia – FIBA Oceania Championship (winner)
Russia – FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament
Lithuania – FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament
Nigeria – FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament
Great Britain – Olympic Host Nation Automatic Qualification

by Nathan Rush

Teaser:
<p> NBA stars like Pau Gasol, Marc Gasol, Tony Parker, Luol Deng, Serge Ibaka and Manu Ginobili will compete for countries other than the USA during the 2012 London Olympics.</p>
Post date: Tuesday, July 17, 2012 - 06:15
Path: /nba/2012-nba-draft-pick-pick-recap-0
Body:

As always, the NBA Draft started at breakneck speed. Commissioner David Stern came out from behind his almighty Oz curtain and was greeted as he has been for years — with aggressive booing from the Prudential Center crowd.

“Thank you for the warm reception,” Stern said, in a tone normally reserved for Jim Rome.

From there, the parade of bad suits, embarrassing family and awkward TV could not be stopped.

1. New Orleans Hornets
Anthony Davis, F/C, Kentucky
John Calipari’s best recruiting tool is the NBA Draft. The man has produced three of the past five No. 1 overall picks. Kids putting on caps is old hat for Coach Cal, who had one last huddle with the “Uni-blocker” and MKG.

“You hug mom, you hug dad, then you hug me, and I spin you around for the camera,” Calipari told the duo, who became the first teammates to go 1-2 in draft history.

2. Charlotte Bobcats
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, SF, Kentucky
The new-look, Bob-less Cats take a Gerald Wallace-type hustle guy just one year after trading away the original Gerald Wallace.

3. Washington Wizards
Bradley Beal, SG, Florida
The BB gun celebrates his 19th birthday in the green room. Meanwhile, the SEC becomes the first conference to boast the top three picks in the NBA Draft since 1986 — a cursed draft that saw Len Bias die almost immediately after being picked No. 2 overall by the Celtics.

4. Cleveland Cavaliers
Dion Waiters, SG, Syracuse
The first shocker of the night. The “most NBA ready guard” Jim Boeheim has ever coached becomes the highest drafted Orange-person since Carmelo Anthony went third overall — behind LeBron and Darko, but ahead of D-Waiters most-comped pro, D-Wade — in 2003.

5. Sacramento Kings
Thomas Robinson, PF, Kansas
Heather Cox sets female sideline interviewers back several decades during a butchered conversation with T-Rob’s nine-year-old little sister — asking her if she’s ever seen her brother cry (“No”) and what she thinks about moving from D.C. to California (“It's far away from home”).

She saved the train wreck by telling the little girl that Sacramento is close to Disneyland. That’s right, it’s an easy seven-hour drive, just around the corner from Sac-town. Are we there yet?

6. Portland Trail Blazers
Damian Lillard, PG, Weber State
Introducing the next Antonio Daniels.

7. Golden State Warriors
Harrison Barnes, SF, North Carolina
Former No. 1 high school recruit joins Bay Area 3-point shooting contestants Steph Curry and Klay Thompson. “Moneyball” has a different meaning for this ABA crew neighboring Billy Beane.

8. Toronto Raptors
Terrence Ross, SG, Washington
One of many players wearing checkered dress shirts that look like picnic tablecloths. Ross also rocks the lime green bow tie to cap his geek chic disaster.

9. Detroit Pistons
Andre Drummond, C, Connecticut
The Drummond family is in tears. Soon, the Pistons fan base will weep over the next Kwame Brown.

10. New Orleans Hornets
Austin Rivers, SG, Duke
Doc’s son has Coach K’s blessing and now Anthony Davis’ protection. The charmed life continues.

11. Portland Trail Blazers
Meyers Leonard, C, Illinois
Listen close and you can already hear Bill Walton yelling “Throw it down, big man!”

12. Houston Rockets
Jeremy Lamb, SG, Connecticut
Lots of guys cry after they get drafted. Lamb is the only one that looks like he’s near tears during his college highlights.

13. Phoenix Suns
Kendall Marshall, PG, North Carolina
Steve Nash’s heir apparent will take over immediately or learn from the two-time MVP for a few seasons, depending on the Canadian icon’s free agent decision.

14. Milwaukee Bucks
John Henson, PF, North Carolina
The last pick of the lottery needs to immediately go on a Wisconsin diet of beer, brats and cheese.

15. Philadelphia 76ers
Maurice Harkless, SF, St. John’s
Went by “Mo” until yesterday, when “his people” let it be known that Harkless is now to be referred to as “Maurice.” Sure, whatever Mo.

16. Houston Rockets
Royce White, SF, Iowa State
Afraid of flying, struggles with anxiety issues, lacks a clearly defined position; Houston may have a problem.

17. Dallas Mavericks
Tyler Zeller, C, North Carolina
Traded to Cavaliers. “Your older brother won the D-League championship,” Tyler is told after becoming the fourth Tar Heel taken in the first round. Would have been better off leading with, “Your little brother Cody is better than you, right?”

18. Houston Rockets
Terrence Jones, PF, Kentucky
The Rockets complete their trifecta of head cases. The law firm of Lamb, White and Jones specialize in malcontent malpractice.

19. Orlando Magic
Andrew Nicholson, PF, St. Bonaventure
Canadian is a softer version of Ryan Anderson — just the type of pick that should convince Dwight to stay.

20. Denver Nuggets
Evan Fournier, SG, France
The lone international prospect selected in the first round is a French slasher who may or may not have been part of Tony Parker's entourage at the Drake-Chris Brown Rihanna glass fight.

21. Boston Celtics
Jared Sullinger, PF, Ohio State
Big Sully brings his below-the-rim, old man’s game to the graybeard gang in Boston. Could be a rich man’s version of Big Baby if his red-flagged bad back holds up.

22. Boston Celtics
Fab Melo, C, Syracuse
The Brazilian big replaces the hotheaded unpredictability and “Flagrant 2” potential the C’s lost after the terrible Kendrick Perkins trade.

23. Atlanta Hawks
John Jenkins, SG, Vanderbilt
J3’s shooting range already extended from Nashville to Atlanta; now it’s official.

24. Cleveland Cavaliers
Jared Cunningham, SG, Oregon State
Traded to Mavericks.

25. Memphis Grizzlies
Tony Wroten Jr., PG, Washington

26. Indiana Pacers
Miles Plumlee, PF, Duke
Larry Bird goes out with his hand raised like he just won a 3-point contest. The Pacers’ strategy of “best available stiff white guy” continues to dominate on draft day.

27. Miami Heat
Arnett Moultrie, PF, Mississippi State
Traded to 76ers.

28. Oklahoma City Thunder
Perry Jones III, SF, Baylor
The player everyone was afraid to take and afraid not to take goes to the team that never seems to make a mistake in scouting. If learning from Kevin Durant doesn't maximize PJ3's potential, nothing will.

29. Chicago Bulls
Marquis Teague, PG, Kentucky
With Derrick Rose recovering from knee surgery, Jeff’s little brother could see major minutes in Chi-town.

30. Golden State Warriors
Festus Ezeli, C, Vanderbilt
The Nigerian nightmare locks down the last guaranteed contract of the night as the final pick of the first round. Stern is booed one last time, then steps aside as Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver is greeted with a standing ovation. 

31. Charlotte Bobcats
Jeff Taylor, SF, Vanderbilt
Somewhere, Cats owner Michael Jordan told everyone at the poker table to shut up so he could watch the draft and see who Charlotte took.

32. Washington Wizards
Tomas Satoransky, SG, Czech Republic
Last year, Jan Vesley made out with girlfriend in the green room after being drafted by the Wiz. This year probably got just as hot when JV’s Czech mate Satoransky was picked.

33. Cleveland Cavaliers
Bernard James, C, Florida State
Traded to Mavericks.

34. Cleveland Cavaliers
Jae Crowder, SF, Marquette
Traded to Mavericks.

35. Golden State Warriors
Draymond Green, SF, Michigan State
Chris Broussard tells the world that Magic Johnson “loves” the pick of his fellow Spartan. Clyde Drexler is just waiting for Green to die.

36. Sacramento Kings
Orlando Johnson, SG, UC Santa Barbara
Traded to Pacers.

37. Toronto Raptors
Quincy Acy, PF, Baylor

38. Denver Nuggets
Quincy Miller, SF, Baylor
Back-to-back Quincys from Baylor are taken; too bad neither wore neon suits like the highlighter yellow Baylor uniforms from the highlight-er reel.

39. Detroit Pistons
Khris Middleton, PF, Texas A&M

40. Portland Trail Blazers
Will Barton, SG, Memphis

41. Portland Trail Blazers
Tyshawn Taylor, PG, Kansas
Traded to Nets.

42. Milwaukee Bucks
Doron Lamb, SG, Kentucky

43. Atlanta Hawks
Mike Scott, PF, Virginia

44. Detroit Pistons
Kim English, SG, Missouri

45. Philadelphia 76ers
Justin Hamilton, C, LSU
Traded to Heat.

46. New Orleans Hornets
Darius Miller, SF, Kentucky
The fifth-year senior Wildcat makes history as the sixth Kentucky player selected in the first two rounds — the most ever for one school.

47. Utah Jazz
Kevin Murphy, SG, Tennessee Tech

48. New York Knicks
Kostas Papanikolaou, SF, Greece

49. Orlando Magic
Kyle O’Quinn, C, Norfolk State

50. Denver Nuggets
Izzet Turkyilmaz, PF, Turkey
The Turkish spelling bee begins now.

51. Boston Celtics
Kris Joseph, SF, Syracuse

52. Golden State Warriors
Ognjen Kuzmic, C, Bosnia

53. Los Angeles Clippers
Furkan Aldemir, PF, Turkey
Could you use the word in a sentence?

54. Philadelphia 76ers
Tornike Shengelia, SF, Georgia
Traded to Nets.

55. Dallas Mavericks
Darius Johnson-Odom, SG, Marquette
Traded to Lakers. Mark Cuban probably wouldn't have yelled at this Odom from the stands. After the trade to L.A., Odom is in the market for a Kardashian reality show.

56. Toronto Raptors
Tomislav Zubcic, C, Croatia

57. New Jersey Nets
Ilkan Karaman, PF, Turkey
Are there any alternate definitions of the word?

58. Minnesota Timberwolves
Robbie Hummel, SF, Purdue
After two ACL injuries, Hummel celebrated gingerly on draft night.

59. San Antonio Spurs
Marcus Denmon, PG, Missouri

60. Los Angeles Lakers
Robert Sacre, C, Gonzaga
Mr. Irrelevant hopes to have an Isaiah Thomas-type impact with the Lake Show. Or at least learn the art of neck-beard from Pau Gasol.

by Nathan Rush
 

Teaser:
<p> The madness of the 2012 NBA Draft, from Dion Waiters' rise to Kentucky's historic six-man draft class.</p>
Post date: Friday, June 29, 2012 - 12:27
Path: /college-basketball/2012-nba-mock-draft-tiers-trade-rumors
Body:

Athlon Sports’ 2012 NBA Mock Draft (updated June 27, 4:45 p.m. ET) breaks down all 30 picks in the first round, highlighting each “tier” of talent and exploring several trade rumors in the opening round of the June 28 draft.

TIER 1
Potential 2012 Olympian, one-man band headed to the Big Easy.

1. New Orleans Hornets
Anthony Davis, F/C, Kentucky
The “Uni-blocker” enters the league as a Marcus Camby-caliber shot blocker with Tim Duncan-dominant all-around potential. Fair or not, expectations are of the Hall of Fame, multiple-championship variety.

TIER 2
Immediate starters with All-Star upside, minimal downside.

2. Charlotte Bobcats
Harrison Barnes, SF, North Carolina
The direction the dominoes start to fall will be determined by the Cats, who have plenty of options to choose from. The Harrison Barnes “brand” may not be what fans and scouts thought they were buying into, but Michael Jordan likes his fellow Tar Heel; that’s all that matters in Charlotte.

3. Washington Wizards
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, SF, Kentucky
MKG has a jump shot that looks like Charles Barkley’s golf swing. But he can run, rebound, defend and is a “winner.” The value of intangible toughness and being a good teammate will be pushed to the limit by Kidd-Gilchrist.

4. Cleveland Cavaliers
Bradley Beal, SG, Florida
Graybeard Uncle Drew (Kyrie Irving) would love to have another old head with a grown man’s game to join him in the backcourt. Beal has been compared to Jesus Shuttlesworth (Ray Allen); He Got Game worthy of the No. 2 pick.

5. Sacramento Kings
Thomas Robinson, PF, Kansas
Could go as high as No. 2, but likely won’t fall past the Kings — a team looking to trade former Rookie of Year ball-hog guard Tyreke Evans and build around monster in the middle DeMarcus Cousins. The steady Robinson would be a great fit next to big DMC.

TRADE RUMOR: Look out for Bobcats and Cavaliers swap of the Nos. 2 and 4 picks; potential trade could also include Cavaliers’ No. 24 pick.

TIER 3
Trade territory with two fast rising guards, one big enigma.

6. Portland Trail Blazers
Damian Lillard, PG, Weber State
Portlandia can’t stop smiling about Lillard, who has a small school chip on his shoulder to go along with Derrick Rose size and nearly as much athleticism at the point.

7. Golden State Warriors
Dion Waiters, SG, Syracuse
Outside shooters like Steph Curry and Klay Thompson have range from the other side of the Bay. A combo guard like Waiters — who attacks the rim like a pit bull from Philly — would add another dimension to Mark Jackson’s team.

8. Toronto Raptors
Andre Drummond, C, Connecticut
The big enigma has the 6’11” frame, 275-pound size and coordinated athleticism that teams drool over during draft season. Between the ears and on the left side of his chest, however, there are major Kwame Brown-sized concerns.

TRADE RUMOR: If Drummond falls to the Raptors, expect the Rockets — a club with the Nos. 12, 16 and 18 picks in the first round — to rapidly rise up the board via trade.

TIER 4
Solid professionals, eventual starters with room to grow.

9. Detroit Pistons
Meyers Leonard, C, Illinois
The American version of Darko Milicic or another beast down low to pair with Greg Monroe? Leonard is a workout warrior with limited on-court production at Illinois.

10. New Orleans Hornets
Austin Rivers, SG, Duke
Doc’s son thinks he’s Kobe Bryant. And hey, he did hit the shot of the year — with a game-winning rainbow bomb over Tyler Zeller as time expired at North Carolina. Rivers is either a star or a cancer, maybe both.

11. Portland Trail Blazers
Terrence Ross, G/F, Washington
Ross looks the part of an ultra-athletic NBA wing, with dunk contest moves and downtown range. Plus, Paul Allen loves hiring guys from UW.

12. Houston Rockets
Tyler Zeller, C, North Carolina
The Rockets continue their climb up the board, moving Samuel Dalembert and the No. 14 pick to the Bucks in order to move up two spots. Tyler, the older brother of Indiana rising star sophomore Cody Zeller, can run the floor and finish at the rim for the next decade.

13. Phoenix Suns
Jeremy Lamb, SG, Connecticut
Is he about to cry? Lamb’s hound dog demeanor and watery, half-moon eyes have somehow overshadowed the fact that Jim Calhoun has never touted a two-guard who wasn’t pretty good (see: Ray Allen, Rip Hamilton, Ben Gordon, Kemba Walker).

14. Milwaukee Bucks
John Henson, PF, North Carolina
Dangerously skinny, pogo stick of a power forward, Henson can swat shots and run. But can he bang for boards or defend anyone in the post.

15. Philadelphia 76ers
Kendall Marshall, PG, North Carolina
Lefty with eyes in the back of his head, Marshall is a pass-first point who could run the show alongside the Sixers’ collection of talented, young ath-a-letes.

16. Houston Rockets
Moe Harkless, SF, St. John’s
Quick riser may sky his way into the late lottery when it’s all said and done — especially if coaches keep watching the tape of the one-and-done’s 30-point, 13-rebound game in an upset win at Duke.

TIER 5
Talented but troubled prospects who should have entered last year’s draft.

17. Dallas Mavericks
Terrence Jones, PF, Kentucky
Texas-sized talent could bring what Mavs wanted from Lamar Odom trade last season.

18. Houston Rockets
Perry Jones III, PF, Baylor
PJ3 is no RG3. Will be a value pick if the Rockets can keep his fuel cell full.

19. Orlando Magic
Jared Sullinger, PF, Ohio State
Big Sully’s bad back was red-flagged by NBA doctors, but his polished below-the-rim offensive moves, good hands, quick feet and track record of production at every level should keep him in the first round.

TRADE RUMOR: The Magic’s Dwight Howard is the biggest name on the trade market, and draft night would be a great time to move the big man who just had back surgery. The Lakers and Nets have long been rumored, but the Rockets now appear to be all-in.

TIER 6
Role players with specific skills or raw projectable talent.

20. Denver Nuggets
Arnett Moultrie, PF, Mississippi State
Physical rebounder with coveted size, can come off the bench and clean the glass.

21. Boston Celtics
John Jenkins, SG, Vanderbilt
Exit Ray Allen, enter Jenkins: the premier sharpshooter in a shooting guard heavy class.

22. Boston Celtics
Festus Ezeli, C, Vanderbilt
Knee injuries are a concern, but 6’11” Nigerian import has shown unbelievable growth as a player since starting his basketball career in 2007.

23. Atlanta Hawks
Will Barton, G/F, Memphis
Versatile scorer needs to add weight, become more consistent shooter; but the talent and work ethic are worth a gamble.

24. Cleveland Cavaliers
Andrew Nicholson, PF, St. Bonaventure
Stretch-four with high basketball IQ and impressive shooting range, would fit in well with fellow Canadian first-rounder Tristan Thompson.

25. Memphis Grizzlies
Marquis Teague, PG, Kentucky
Jeff’s little brother is the latest (and least talented) of John Calipari’s high profile point guard recruits.

26. Indiana Pacers
Jeff Taylor, SF, Vanderbilt
Defensive stopper with elite athleticism, the Swiss Army knife could fill several roles for a playoff team.

27. Miami Heat
Fab Melo, C, Syracuse
Brazilian big man has a short fuse, weight issues and has struggled to grasp the nuances of the game. But the 7-footer has shot-blocking ability and six fouls to give — already a one foul improvement over his limit at Cuse.

28. Oklahoma City Thunder
Evan Fournier, SG, France
The only international prospect being mentioned as a potential first-round talent, the Frenchman is a slasher with a streaky jumper.

TRADE RUMOR: Fresh off a runner-up finish in the NBA Finals, the Thunder have long-term planning to take care of — as far as James Harden and Serge Ibaka’s contracts are concerned. OKC doesn’t need or want any more guaranteed first-round rookie deals on the books and will likely trade out of the No. 28 pick.

29. Chicago Bulls
Doron Lamb, SG, Kentucky
A combo guard glue guy who can shoot from NBA 3-point range, defend, handle and pass, Lamb will help fill the black hole left in the wake of Derrick Rose’s knee injury.

30. Golden State Warriors
Draymond Green, SF, Michigan State
The last guaranteed contract of the night goes to Green — a point forward who lacks a traditional position due to his wide body, lack of athleticism and ability to create as a ball-handler and passer.

Teaser:
<p> Athlon Sports' 2012 NBA Mock Draft, complete with trade rumors and a tier breakdown of the various talent drop-offs in the first round of the June 28 draft.</p>
Post date: Wednesday, June 27, 2012 - 13:45
Path: /college-basketball/2012-nba-mock-draft-first-round-tiers
Body:

Athlon Sports’ 2012 NBA Mock Draft (updated June 27, 4:45 p.m. ET) breaks down all 30 picks in the first round, highlighting each “tier” of talent and exploring several trade rumors in the opening round of the June 28 draft.

TIER 1
Potential 2012 Olympian, one-man band headed to the Big Easy.

1. New Orleans Hornets
Anthony Davis, F/C, Kentucky
The “Uni-blocker” enters the league as a Marcus Camby-caliber shot blocker with Tim Duncan-dominant all-around potential. Fair or not, expectations are of the Hall of Fame, multiple-championship variety.

TIER 2
Immediate starters with All-Star upside, minimal downside.

2. Charlotte Bobcats
Harrison Barnes, SF, North Carolina
The direction the dominoes start to fall will be determined by the Cats, who have plenty of options to choose from. The Harrison Barnes “brand” may not be what fans and scouts thought they were buying into, but Michael Jordan likes his fellow Tar Heel; that’s all that matters in Charlotte.

3. Washington Wizards
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, SF, Kentucky
MKG has a jump shot that looks like Charles Barkley’s golf swing. But he can run, rebound, defend and is a “winner.” The value of intangible toughness and being a good teammate will be pushed to the limit by Kidd-Gilchrist.

4. Cleveland Cavaliers
Bradley Beal, SG, Florida
Graybeard Uncle Drew (Kyrie Irving) would love to have another old head with a grown man’s game to join him in the backcourt. Beal has been compared to Jesus Shuttlesworth (Ray Allen); He Got Game worthy of the No. 2 pick.

5. Sacramento Kings
Thomas Robinson, PF, Kansas
Could go as high as No. 2, but likely won’t fall past the Kings — a team looking to trade former Rookie of Year ball-hog guard Tyreke Evans and build around monster in the middle DeMarcus Cousins. The steady Robinson would be a great fit next to big DMC.

TRADE RUMOR: Look out for Bobcats and Cavaliers swap of the Nos. 2 and 4 picks; potential trade could also include Cavaliers’ No. 24 pick.

TIER 3
Trade territory with two fast rising guards, one big enigma.

6. Portland Trail Blazers
Damian Lillard, PG, Weber State
Portlandia can’t stop smiling about Lillard, who has a small school chip on his shoulder to go along with Derrick Rose size and nearly as much athleticism at the point.

7. Golden State Warriors
Dion Waiters, SG, Syracuse
Outside shooters like Steph Curry and Klay Thompson have range from the other side of the Bay. A combo guard like Waiters — who attacks the rim like a pit bull from Philly — would add another dimension to Mark Jackson’s team.

8. Toronto Raptors
Andre Drummond, C, Connecticut
The big enigma has the 6’11” frame, 275-pound size and coordinated athleticism that teams drool over during draft season. Between the ears and on the left side of his chest, however, there are major Kwame Brown-sized concerns.

TRADE RUMOR: If Drummond falls to the Raptors, expect the Rockets — a club with the Nos. 12, 16 and 18 picks in the first round — to rapidly rise up the board via trade.

TIER 4
Solid professionals, eventual starters with room to grow.

9. Detroit Pistons
Meyers Leonard, C, Illinois
The American version of Darko Milicic or another beast down low to pair with Greg Monroe? Leonard is a workout warrior with limited on-court production at Illinois.

10. New Orleans Hornets
Austin Rivers, SG, Duke
Doc’s son thinks he’s Kobe Bryant. And hey, he did hit the shot of the year — with a game-winning rainbow bomb over Tyler Zeller as time expired at North Carolina. Rivers is either a star or a cancer, maybe both.

11. Portland Trail Blazers
Terrence Ross, G/F, Washington
Ross looks the part of an ultra-athletic NBA wing, with dunk contest moves and downtown range. Plus, Paul Allen loves hiring guys from UW.

12. Houston Rockets
Tyler Zeller, C, North Carolina
The Rockets continue their climb up the board, moving Samuel Dalembert and the No. 14 pick to the Bucks in order to move up two spots. Tyler, the older brother of Indiana rising star sophomore Cody Zeller, can run the floor and finish at the rim for the next decade.

13. Phoenix Suns
Jeremy Lamb, SG, Connecticut
Is he about to cry? Lamb’s hound dog demeanor and watery, half-moon eyes have somehow overshadowed the fact that Jim Calhoun has never touted a two-guard who wasn’t pretty good (see: Ray Allen, Rip Hamilton, Ben Gordon, Kemba Walker).

14. Milwaukee Bucks
John Henson, PF, North Carolina
Dangerously skinny, pogo stick of a power forward, Henson can swat shots and run. But can he bang for boards or defend anyone in the post.

15. Philadelphia 76ers
Kendall Marshall, PG, North Carolina
Lefty with eyes in the back of his head, Marshall is a pass-first point who could run the show alongside the Sixers’ collection of talented, young ath-a-letes.

16. Houston Rockets
Moe Harkless, SF, St. John’s
Quick riser may sky his way into the late lottery when it’s all said and done — especially if coaches keep watching the tape of the one-and-done’s 30-point, 13-rebound game in an upset win at Duke.

TIER 5
Talented but troubled prospects who should have entered last year’s draft.

17. Dallas Mavericks
Terrence Jones, PF, Kentucky
Texas-sized talent could bring what Mavs wanted from Lamar Odom trade last season.

18. Houston Rockets
Perry Jones III, PF, Baylor
PJ3 is no RG3. Will be a value pick if the Rockets can keep his fuel cell full.

19. Orlando Magic
Jared Sullinger, PF, Ohio State
Big Sully’s bad back was red-flagged by NBA doctors, but his polished below-the-rim offensive moves, good hands, quick feet and track record of production at every level should keep him in the first round.

TRADE RUMOR: The Magic’s Dwight Howard is the biggest name on the trade market, and draft night would be a great time to move the big man who just had back surgery. The Lakers and Nets have long been rumored, but the Rockets now appear to be all-in.

TIER 6
Role players with specific skills or raw projectable talent.

20. Denver Nuggets
Arnett Moultrie, PF, Mississippi State
Physical rebounder with coveted size, can come off the bench and clean the glass.

21. Boston Celtics
John Jenkins, SG, Vanderbilt
Exit Ray Allen, enter Jenkins: the premier sharpshooter in a shooting guard heavy class.

22. Boston Celtics
Festus Ezeli, C, Vanderbilt
Knee injuries are a concern, but 6’11” Nigerian import has shown unbelievable growth as a player since starting his basketball career in 2007.

23. Atlanta Hawks
Will Barton, G/F, Memphis
Versatile scorer needs to add weight, become more consistent shooter; but the talent and work ethic are worth a gamble.

24. Cleveland Cavaliers
Andrew Nicholson, PF, St. Bonaventure
Stretch-four with high basketball IQ and impressive shooting range, would fit in well with fellow Canadian first-rounder Tristan Thompson.

25. Memphis Grizzlies
Marquis Teague, PG, Kentucky
Jeff’s little brother is the latest (and least talented) of John Calipari’s high profile point guard recruits.

26. Indiana Pacers
Jeff Taylor, SF, Vanderbilt
Defensive stopper with elite athleticism, the Swiss Army knife could fill several roles for a playoff team.

27. Miami Heat
Fab Melo, C, Syracuse
Brazilian big man has a short fuse, weight issues and has struggled to grasp the nuances of the game. But the 7-footer has shot-blocking ability and six fouls to give — already a one foul improvement over his limit at Cuse.

28. Oklahoma City Thunder
Evan Fournier, SG, France
The only international prospect being mentioned as a potential first-round talent, the Frenchman is a slasher with a streaky jumper.

TRADE RUMOR: Fresh off a runner-up finish in the NBA Finals, the Thunder have long-term planning to take care of — as far as James Harden and Serge Ibaka’s contracts are concerned. OKC doesn’t need or want any more guaranteed first-round rookie deals on the books and will likely trade out of the No. 28 pick.

29. Chicago Bulls
Doron Lamb, SG, Kentucky
A combo guard glue guy who can shoot from NBA 3-point range, defend, handle and pass, Lamb will help fill the black hole left in the wake of Derrick Rose’s knee injury.

30. Golden State Warriors
Draymond Green, SF, Michigan State
The last guaranteed contract of the night goes to Green — a point forward who lacks a traditional position due to his wide body, lack of athleticism and ability to create as a ball-handler and passer.

by Nathan Rush

Teaser:
<p> Athlon Sports' 2012 NBA Mock Draft starts with Kentucky's Anthony Davis, the only Tier 1 player available, and includes usual Tier 2 suspects like Kentucky's Michael Kidd-Ghilchrist, North Carolina's Harrison Barnes, Kansas' Thomas Robinson, Florida's Bradley Beal and Connecticut's Andre Drummond.</p>
Post date: Monday, June 18, 2012 - 17:56
All taxonomy terms: NFL
Path: /nfl/10-greatest-father-son-duos-sports
Body:

In honor of Father’s Day this Sunday, Athlon Sports breaks down the Top 10 father-son combinations in sports history:

1. Archie Manning/Peyton Manning & Eli Manning
The patriarch of football’s first family, Archie sired two Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks — not to mention No. 1 overall draft picks, multi-million-dollar pitchmen and underrated Saturday Night Live hosts — in Peyton and Eli.

And the old man was no slouch, either. The speed limit is 18 mph on the campus at Ole Miss in honor of Archie, whose number was retired after a spectacular college career that included finishing third (1970) and fourth (1969), respectively, in Heisman Trophy voting. The No. 2 overall pick of the New Orleans Saints in 1971, Archie scrambled his way around the NFL for 16 seasons.

 

2. Bobby Bonds/Barry Bonds
The Bonds would trump the Mannings on this list if Barry’s godfather Willie Mays were factored into the equation. But Barry’s MLB records — including seven MVP awards, 762 career HR, 73 HR in 2001 and 2,558 walks (including 688 intentional) — speak for themselves. Together, Bobby and Barry Bonds combined for 4,821 hits, 1,094 HR, 3,020 RBI, 3,485 runs, 975 stolen bases and 11 Gold Glove awards.


3. Ken Norton/Ken Norton Jr.
Ken Sr. was a WBC heavyweight champion during boxing’s heyday, famously breaking Muhammad Ali’s jaw in 1973 — joining Joe Frazier as only the second fighter to beat Ali as a professional. Ken Jr. was a hard-hitting linebacker who became the first player in NFL history to win three consecutive Super Bowls, winning his first two with the Dallas Cowboys and his third with the San Francisco 49ers.

 

4. Lee Petty/Richard Petty
One of the founding fathers of stock car racing, Lee took the checkers at the inaugural Daytona 500 in 1959 and won three Cup championships. Following in his daddy’s burned-rubber tracks, Richard became (and remains to this day) “The King” of the sport, winning 200 races and seven Cup championships.


5. Bobby Hull/Brett Hull
“The Golden Jet” was a two-time Hart Memorial Trophy (MVP) honoree, 12-time NHL All-Star, three-time scoring champ and 1961 Stanley Cup champion. “The Golden Brett” was a Hart Memorial Trophy winner, nine-time All-Star, three-time scoring champ and two-time Stanley Cup champion — scoring the series-clinching goal for the Dallas Stars in 1999 and raising the Cup again as a member of the Detroit Red Wings in 2002.

 

6. Dale Earnhardt/Dale Earnhardt Jr.
“The Intimidator,” Ralph Dale was a second-generation racer whose father, Ralph Lee, is a Hall of Famer in his own right. Behind his signature black shades and thick mustache, Dale Sr. scared the paint off every car on the track en route to seven Cup championships. Ralph Dale Jr. — “Little E,” “Dale Jr.” or just “Junior” — has been more sizzle than steak, but the reigning nine-time Most Popular Driver does have 18 Cup wins, two Busch Series titles, the 2004 Daytona 500 and a reported $300 million net worth to brag about.


7. Ken Griffey/Ken Griffey Jr.
In the ultimate father-son fantasy camp, Griffey and “The Kid” were teammates with the Seattle Mariners in 1990 and 1991, during George Kenneth Sr.’s 40 and 41-year-old seasons and George Kenneth Jr.’s 20 and 21-year-old campaigns, respectively. Junior embodied all that is right with baseball as a 13-time All-Star, 10-time Gold Glove center fielder and 1997 AL MVP — a year in which he hit a presumably clean .304 with 56 HR and 147 RBI. Now a father, Griffey Jr. has a son, Trey, playing football at Arizona.



8. Calvin Hill/Grant Hill
Calvin was a fraternity brother of George W. Bush at Yale who married a former roommate of Hillary Clinton. He also was a four-time Pro Bowl running back for the Dallas Cowboys as well as the Rookie of the Year in 1969. Meanwhile, Grant was a two-time NCAA champion at Duke before becoming NBA co-Rookie of the Year in 1995, a seven-time All-Star and a gold medalist in 1996.

 

9. Gordie Howe/Mark Howe
“Mr. Hockey” was a 23-time NHL All-Star, six-time Hart Memorial Trophy honoree, six-time scoring leader and four-time Stanley Cup champion. Equally impressive, he is the inspiration for the “Gordie Howe hat trick” — where a player records a goal, an assist and gets into a fight in the same game. Mark teamed with his dad as a rookie in 1973 until Gordie retired in 1980. He is a Hall of Famer who is currently the Director of Pro Scouting for the Detroit Red Wings.

 


10. Cecil Fielder/Prince Fielder
The only father-son duo in MLB history to each hit 50 HR in a single season. Cecil famously let preteen Prince take batting practice at Tiger Stadium, where the slugger now earns the $214 million deal he inked in the offseason.
 

By Nathan Rush

Teaser:
<p> In honor of Father’s Day, a rundown of the best ever father-son combinations.</p>
Post date: Friday, June 15, 2012 - 08:16
Path: /nfl/2012-nfl-draft-grades-0
Body:

It's never too early to grade the 2012 NFL Draft, which saw Commissioner Roger Goodell hugging and high-fiving future Pro Bowlers and potential busts. Here's a team-by-team look at the winners and losers from this year:

Arizona Cardinals
Grade: C+

Pick. Player, Pos., School
13. Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame
80. Jamell Fleming, CB, Oklahoma
112. Bobby Massie, T, Ole Miss
151. Senio Kelemete, T, Washington
177. Justin Bethel, CB, Presbyterian
185. Ryan Lindley, QB, San Diego State
221. Nate Potter, T, Boise State

Twin Cities product Michael Floyd joins fellow Purple Rain fan Larry Fitzgerald, who practiced with Vikings' soon-to-be Hall of Famers Randy Moss and Cris Carter once upon a time. Reminds me of Nick Fairley teaming up with Ndamukong Suh in Detroit last year; even if he would've busted under different circumstances, he should be at least above-average with an All-Pro to mimic. O-line, as always, was an issue for the Cards, who brought in a trio led by fast-rising raw tackle prospect Bobby Massie.

Atlanta Falcons
Grade: C

Pick. Player, Pos., School
55. Peter Konz, C, Wisconsin
91. Lamar Holmes, T, Southern Miss
157. Bradie Ewing, FB, Wisconsin
164. Jonathan Massaquoi, DE, Troy
192. Charles Mitchell, S, Mississippi State
249. Travian Robertson, DT, South Carolina

Julio Jones has to be factored into the 2012 draft for the Dirty Birds, who traded their first- and fourth-rounders this year (along with their first-, second- and fourth-round picks in 2011) to move up from No. 27 overall to the Browns' No. 6 overall last year in order to acquire the soft-J wideout who throws hard blocks, goes over the middle and provides another deep threat across from Roddy White. Hit rewind, a vanilla draft is spiced up by a game-breaking option such as Jones.

Baltimore Ravens
Grade: B

Pick. Player, Pos., School
35. Courtney Upshaw, LB, Alabama
60. Kelechi Osemele, T, Iowa State
84. Bernard Pierce, RB, Temple
98. Gino Gradkowski, G, Delaware
130. Christian Thompson, S, South Carolina State
169. Asa Jackson, CB, Cal Poly
198. Tommy Streeter, WR, Miami
236. Deangelo Tyson, DE, Georgia

Bama's Courtney Upshaw was ready to be the fifth member of the Crimson Tide drafted in the first round on Thursday. Instead, the edge rusher had to stay the night in New York before being drafted by Alabama Hall of Fame tight end and Baltimore draft guru Ozzie Newsome. Upshaw will learn from and play next to Ray Lewis, and be protected by Haloti Ngata up front. Who needs the first round if that's your fate? As usual, Ozzie got his guy and collected picks for later; he's one of the best. 

Buffalo Bills
Grade: C

Pick. Player, Pos., School
10. Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina
41. Cordy Glenn, T, Georgia
69. T.J. Graham, WR, NC State
105. Nigel Bradham, LB, Florida State
124. Ron Brooks, CB, LSU
144. Zebrie Sanders, T, Florida State
147. Tank Carder, LB, TCU
178. Mark Asper, G, Oregon
251. John Potter, K, Western Michigan

Stephon Gilmore's stock soared northbound all the way to Toronto, or at least upstate New York, in the weeks leading up to the draft. But the corner with fewer red flags than Dre Kirkpatrick and Janoris Jenkins didn't look too happy to be roaming with the Bills to Canada, or Ralph Wilson's temporary Buffalo home. FSU's Nigel Bradham and TCU's Tank Carder are underrated linebackers who should make plays in the domed Rogers Centre sooner rather than later. Seriously, the Bills are moving to Toronto, or else they wouldn't be playing ANY games there, right?

Carolina Panthers
Grade: B+

Pick. Player, Pos., School
9. Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College
40. Amini Silatolu, T, Midwestern State
103. Frank Alexander, DE, Oklahoma
104. Joe Adams, WR, Arkansas
143. Josh Norman, CB, Coastal Carolina
207. Brad Nortman, P, Wisconsin
216. D.J. Campbell, S, California

If Luke Kuechly is Dan Morgan without the concussions, Carolina's front office will feel like Cam Newton must every day since he enrolled at Auburn. (Cam won the BCS national title and Heisman Trophy before being the NFL's No. 1 overall pick and Offensive Rookie of the Year, as well as Under Armour's face of the franchise, for those who haven't followed the "icon and entertainer.") Kuechly is now the quarterback of the Cats' defense. Amini Silatolu was a fringe-first-rounder who adds beef on the O-line.

Chicago Bears
Grade: C–

Pick. Player, Pos., School
19. Shea McClellin, DE, Boise State
45. Alshon Jeffery, WR, South Carolina
79. Brandon Hardin, S, Oregon State
111. Evan Rodriguez, TE, Temple
184. Isaiah Frey, CB, Nevada
220. Greg McCoy, CB, TCU

Sorry, Jay Cutler. No offensive line help for you. Keep proving how tough you are. Stare down Brandon Marshall until Alshon Jeffery gets open. What do you mean he can't separate from defenders and isn't as big as he was listed during his career at South Carolina? Get that look off your face, we traded for your buddy Brandon. That's one more receiver than you've had since coming to Chicago. 

Cincinnati Bengals
Grade: A

Pick. Player, Pos., School
17. Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama
27. Kevin Zeitler, G, Wisconsin
53. Devon Still, DT, Penn State
83. Mohamed Sanu, WR, Rutgers
93. Brandon Thompson, DT, Clemson
116. Orson Charles, TE, Georgia
156. Shaun Prater, CB, Iowa
166. Marvin Jones, WR, California
167. George Iloka, S, Boise State
191. Dan Herron, RB, Ohio State

Mohamed Sanu was prank called prior to the No. 27 overall pick by the Bengals in the first round. Someone pulled off a cruel joke by convincing Sanu that he had been drafted by Cincy; his agent confirmed via Twitter. I wouldn't blame Sanu if he hung up on the call from Cincinnati at No. 83 overall. I also wouldn't be shocked if the Bengals discovered who Sanu was by reading a story on Deadspin about his unfortunately well-executed crank-yank.

Cleveland Browns
Grade: B

Pick. Player, Pos., School
3. Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama
22. Brandon Weeden, QB, Oklahoma State
37. Mitchell Schwartz, T, California
87. John Hughes, DT, Cincinnati
100. Travis Benjamin, WR, Miami
120. James-Michael Johnson, LB, Nevada
160. Ryan Miller, G, Colorado
204. Emmanuel Acho, LB, Texas
205. Billy Winn, DT, Boise State
245. Trevin Wade, CB, Arizona
247. Brad Smelley, TE, Alabama

Plan A was trading the Nos. 4 and 22 picks (and whatever else it took) to move up and acquire Robert Griffin III. After that fell through, Plan B was Trent Richardson, the second first-round back (along with Mark Ingram) from Alabama's 2009 BCS national title team. There was no Plan C. So, when rumors started swirling around that the Jets were looking to trade up to No. 3 for T-Town's top runner, the Browns were forced to trade up one spot. It was the right call. Brandon Weeden, who is nearly 15 months older than LeBron James, was not the right move, however. But hey, Cleveland just added the best running back prospect since Adrian Peterson, no matter what an angry Jim Brown thinks. Take the Browns' paper bags off your head, Cleveland. It's okay. When Weeden grows up, he wants to be just like Colt McCoy.

Dallas Cowboys
Grade: A

Pick. Player, Pos., School
6. Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU
81. Tyrone Crawford, DE, Boise State
113. Kyle Wilber, LB, Wake Forest
135. Matt Johnson, S, Eastern Washington
152. Danny Coale, WR, Virginia Tech
186. James Hanna, TE, Oklahoma
222. Caleb McSurdy, LB, Montana

Jerry Jones might as well turn the "Palace in Dallas" (or "Jerry's House") into a year-round Scouting Combine. He did, after all, witness Morris Claiborne hurdling Ducks and shutting down Oregon receivers first-hand during the season opening 40-27 LSU win over UO in Arlington last year. Needing secondary help on their Big D, the Cowboys made a Texas-sized move up the board to get their cover man. The only question was whether it would be Claiborne or Alabama safety Mark Barron, who went one pick later to the Buccaneers. Either would have been a grade-A move.

Denver Broncos
Grade: D

Pick. Player, Pos., School
36. Derek Wolfe, DT, Cincinnati
57. Brock Osweiler, QB, Arizona State
67. Ronnie Hillman, RB, San Diego State
101. Omar Bolden, CB, Arizona State
108. Philip Blake, C, Baylor
137. Malik Jackson, DT, Tennessee
188. Danny Trevathan, LB, Kentucky

The Tim Tebow trade has brought out the worst in everyone, especially NFL Network's Rich Eisen and Mike Mayock, who got in a Day Three verbal slap-fest over super-agent Jimmy Sexton's favorite client and super-petty John Elway's least favorite person. Mayock, who refused to say the name "Tim Tebow," came crashing down after his three-day bender of Red Bull with a splash of 5-Hour Energy Drink cocktails. Eisen was more than happy to bring up as many Tebow references as possible, whenever the Broncos or Jets picked. Mayock exploded in a much-ado-about-nothing turn of events; Eisen basked in the meltdown. Turns out, Tebow wins again.  

Detroit Lions
Grade: B

Pick. Player, Pos., School
23. Riley Reiff, T, Iowa
54. Ryan Broyles, WR, Oklahoma
85. Dwight Bentley, CB, UL Lafayette
125. Ronnell Lewis, LB, Oklahoma
138. Tahir Whitehead, LB, Temple
148. Chris Greenwood, CB, Albion
196. Jonte Green, CB, New Mexico State
223. Travis Lewis, LB, Oklahoma

The short arms of Riley Reiff pushed him down the board on draft night, after the latest Iowa tackle was presumed to be a top-15 pick earlier in the draft evaluation process. Ryan Broyles' 4,500 yards and 45 receiving TDs at Oklahoma meant something after all. U-La-La's Dwight Bentley looked so good on tape and at the Combine, the Lions only needed to draft an Albion and New Mexico State corner to sleep well at night. One of Oklahoma's Lewis linebackers better pan out.

Green Bay Packers
Grade: C

Pick. Player, Pos., School
28. Nick Perry, DE, USC
51. Jerel Worthy, DT, Michigan State
62. Casey Hayward, CB, Vanderbilt
132. Mike Daniels, DT, Iowa
133. Jerron McMillan, S, Maine
163. Terrell Manning, LB, NC State
241. Andrew Datko, T, Florida State
243. B.J. Coleman, QB, UT Chattanooga

Brett Favre's best friend (and agent Bus Cook's client) B.J. Coleman stole the headlines for no legit good reason. Favre has a better chance of starting in Green Bay than Coleman. USC end Nick Perry and Michigan State tackle Jerel Worthy were overrated, but being surrounded with Clay Matthews and B.J. Raji may help mask their deficiencies. Vandy's Casey Hayward is a ball-hawk corner with upside. Ted Thompson took a few chances but did just fine, as usual.

Houston Texans
Grade: B+

Pick. Player, Pos., School
26. Whitney Mercilus, DE, Illinois
68. DeVier Posey, WR, Ohio State
76. Brandon Brooks, G, Miami (Ohio)
99. Ben Jones, C, Georgia
121. Keshawn Martin, WR, Michigan State
126. Jared Crick, DT, Nebraska
161. Randy Bullock, K, Texas A&M
195. Nick Mondek, T, Purdue

After making the playoffs for the first time in franchise history, the Texans did what they could to replace free-agent export Mario Williams (with the bizarro-initialled Whitney Mercilus) and help protect oft-injured Andre Johnson (by selecting DeVier Posey). Nebraska D-tackle Jared Crick could be the steal, after having his draft stock plummet due to a torn pectoral injury earlier in the season.

Indianapolis Colts
Grade: A

Pick. Player, Pos., School
1. Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford
34. Coby Fleener, TE, Stanford
64. Dwayne Allen, TE, Clemson
92. T.Y. Hilton, WR, Florida International
136. Josh Chapman, DT, Alabama
170. Vick Ballard, RB, Mississippi State
206. LaVon Brazill, WR, Ohio
208. Justin Anderson, T, Georgia
214. Tim Fugger, DE, Vanderbilt
253. Chandler Harnish, QB, Northern Illinois

Stanford's Andrew Luck (2012) follows in the horseshoes of Tennessee's Peyton Manning (1998), Illinois' Jeff George (1990), Stanford's John Elway (1983) and Oregon's George Shaw (1955) as quarterbacks picked No. 1 overall in Colts history. Oliver's son, Jim Harbaugh's recruit and David Shaw's security blanket is one of the better prepared players to enter the league in some time. Surrounding Luck with his Stanford teammate, tight end Coby Fleener, was brilliant. Adding another tight end, Dwayne Allen, was a move of genius. Indy acquired the top two tight ends in the draft, giving Luck a Tom Brady-style offense with wanna-be Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez comfort zone options. That said, the Colts should still battle the Jaguars for worst team in the NFL in 2012.

Jacksonville Jaguars
Grade: D

Pick. Player, Pos., School
5. Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State
38. Andre Branch, DE, Clemson
70. Bryan Anger, P, California
142. Brandon Marshall, LB, Nevada
176. Mike Harris, CB, Florida State
228. Jeris Pendleton, DT, Ashland

This grade is based on Jaguars quarterback Blaine Gabbert being a clear-cut bust who is afraid to hold on to the football long enough to look downfield. It may not be Justin Blackmon's fault, but if he catches 30 passes for 400 yards, he'll catch unfair heat due to Gabbert (and who?) not being able to get him the ball. Andre Branch is a boom-or-bust. The punter pick of Bryan Anger speaks to the mindset of the organization right now. They punted this draft. And shanked it.

Kansas City Chiefs
Grade: D

Pick. Player, Pos., School
11. Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis
44. Jeff Allen, T, Illinois
74. Donald Stephenson, T, Oklahoma
107. Devon Wylie, WR, Fresno State
146. DeQuan Menzie, CB, Alabama
182. Cyrus Gray, RB, Texas A&M
218. Jerome Long, DT, San Diego State
238. Junior Hemingway, WR, Michigan

If Memphis' Dontari Poe is not at least a non-BCS version of Patriots All-Pro nose tackle Vince Wilfork, who went No. 21 to the Patriots in the epic 2004 draft, than the ex-Patriots running the Chiefs (namely Scott Pioli) will be very disappointed. At 6'4", 346 pounds, Poe ran a 4.98 in the 40 and ripped off 44 reps of 225 pounds on the bench press at the Combine. That will play. Or will it? He played piss-Poe against mediocre competition at Memphis. Still, the Bill Belichick and Bill Parcells coaching tree has branched out to KC; there are only so many men on Earth with Poe's measurable size, strength and speed.

Miami Dolphins
Grade: D

Pick. Player, Pos., School
8. Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M
42. Jonathan Martin, T, Stanford
72. Oliver Vernon, DE, Miami
78. Michael Egnew, TE, Missouri
97. Lamar Miller, RB, Miami
155. Josh Kaddu, LB, Oregon
183. B.J. Cunningham, WR, Michigan State
215. Kheeston Randall, DT, Texas
227. Rishard Matthews, WR, Nevada

There's another beautiful woman moving to Miami. Ryan Tannehill's wife, Lauren (not pictured), lit up the green room at Radio City Music Hall. This pick was essentially made by first-year Dolphins offensive coordinator Mike Sherman, who hired Joe Philbin (his new boss in Miami) with the Packers way back in 2003 and coached Tannehill at Texas A&M just yesterday (or last year, 2011). Anyone who thinks this is the "next Dan Marino" must have only watched the first half of Aggie games this year. Stanford tackle Jonathan Martin played next to guard David DeCastro and blocked for quarterback Andrew Luck, but he is a notch below both in terms of both toughness and talent.

Minnesota Vikings
Grade: A

Pick. Player, Pos., School
4. Matt Kalil, T, USC
29. Harrison Smith, S, Notre Dame
66. Josh Robinson, CB, Central Florida
118. Jarius Wright, WR, Arkansas
128. Rhett Ellison, FB, USC
134. Greg Childs, WR, Arkansas
139. Robert Blanton, CB, Notre Dame
175. Blair Walsh, K, Georgia
210. Audie Cole, LB, NC State
219. Trevor Guyton, DE, California

Matt Kalil is a left tackle prodigy carrying on a rich USC tradition that includes Anthony Munoz and Tony Boselli. He also has an older brother, Ryan Kalil, who is a Pro Bowl center for the Panthers. His father, Frank, played ball in the USFL and is a big talking NFL breeder at this point. But it was the ladies of the Kalil family, mom in a red dress and sister in an orange skirt who took home top prospect honors. High jumping back into the first round and taking underrated, athletic Notre Dame safety Harrison Smith was a savvy movve.

New England Patriots
Grade: A

Pick. Player, Pos., School
21. Chandler Jones, DE, Syracuse
25. Dont’a Hightower, LB, Alabama
48. Tavon Wilson, S, Illinois
90. Jake Bequette, DE, Arkansas
197. Nate Ebner, S, Ohio State
224. Alfonzo Dennard, CB, Nebraska
235. Jeremy Ebert, WR, Northwestern

Bill Belichick bounced around early to get both Alabama middle linebacker and part-time sledgehammer Dont'a Hightower and Syracuse edge rusher Chandler Jones (brother of MMA champ light heavyweight champ Jon "Bones" Jones). New England also added a fringe second-third-round-type in the seventh round in Nebraska corner Alfonzo Dennard. Make your Jeremy Ebert, Wes Welker comparisons in the privacy of your own home, lest ye be judged.

New Orleans Saints
Grade: IR

Pick. Player, Pos., School
89. Akiem Hicks, DE, Regina
122. Nick Toon, WR, Wisconsin
162. Corey White, S, Samford
179. Andrew Tiller, G, Syracuse
234. Marcel Jones, T, Nebraska

This is what Commissioner Roger Goodell's death penalty (lost second round) plus trading up to take Alabama back Mark Ingram last year (traded first round) looks like. Also, Gregg Williams may have told the Saints to "kill the head"; after all, the draft did die. That's not a funny joke to anyone who is familiar with Al Toon's concussion history.

New York Giants
Grade: B

Pick. Player, Pos., School
32. David Wilson, RB, Virginia Tech
63. Rueben Randle, WR, LSU
94. Jayron Hosley, CB, Virginia Tech
127. Adrien Robinson, TE, Cincinnati
131. Brandon Mosley, T, Auburn
201. Matt McCants, T, UAB
239. Markus Kuhn, DT, NC State

The defending Super Bowl champs made up for Eli Manning being the third most talked about quarterback in his own city. Tim Tebow and Mark Sanchez got nothing on Eli, who has two Super Bowl rings to go along with his new fast running back (Virginia Tech's David Wilson) and new big receiver (LSU's Rueben Randle). Jerry Reese has Big Blue well under control.

New York Jets
Grade: D

Pick. Player, Pos., School
16. Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina
43. Stephen Hill, WR, Georgia Tech
77. Demario Davis, LB, Arkansas State
187. Josh Bush, S, Wake Forest
202. Terrance Ganaway, RB, Baylor
203. Robert T. Griffin, G, Baylor
242. Antonio Allen, S, South Carolina
244. Jordan White, WR, Western Michigan

Vernon Ghoston Jr., a.k.a. Quinton Coples, is not the safest bet after showing "very indifferent tape" yet "Julius Peppers type ability" according to NFL Network's Mike Mayock. Stephen Hill is fast, and drafting behind Georgia Tech products Demaryius Thomas and Calvin Johnson, but he's not the prospect either Rambin' Wreck wideouts were. Baylor's Robert T. Griffin has a name grade fit for a king, but his socks don't match.

Oakland Raiders
Grade: RIP

Pick. Player, Pos., School
95. Tony Bergstrom, T, Utah
129. Miles Burris, LB, San Diego State
158. Jack Crawford, DE, Penn State
168. Juron Criner, WR, Arizona
189. Christo Bilukidi, DE, Georgia State
230. Nathan Stupar, LB, Penn State

The first draft since the late, great Al Davis (July 4, 1929 - Oct. 8, 2011). "Just win, baby," was a motto that set the tone for an organization that won three Super Bowls under Al Davis, the draft day architect for 50 years in Oakland and Los Angeles, in the AFL and NFL. The Raiders have not yet properly replaced Mr. Davis, and it showed in this year's draft results.

Philadelphia Eagles
Grade: B–

Pick. Player, Pos., School
12. Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi State
46. Mychal Kendricks, LB, California
59. Vinny Curry, DE, Marshall
88. Nick Foles, QB, Arizona
123. Brandon Boykin, CB, Georgia
153. Dennis Kelly, T, Purdue
194. Marvin McNutt, WR, Iowa
200. Brandon Washington, G, Miami
229. Bryce Brown, RB, Kansas State

Philly fans boo Andy Reid for being too predictable on game day. Well, it's just as easy to guess what Reid will do on draft day. The Eagles took D-line early (Mississippi State's Fletcher Cox, Marshall's Vinny Curry) and a project quarterback (Arizona's Nick Foles) for the QB professor, and a linebacker (California's Mychal Kendricks) to keep the faithful from rioting.

Pittsburgh Steelers
Grade: A+

Pick. Player, Pos., School
24. David DeCastro, G, Stanford
56. Mike Adams, T, Ohio State
86. Sean Spence, LB, Miami
109. Alameda Ta’amu, DT, Washington
159. Chris Rainey, RB, Florida
231. Toney Clemons, WR, Colorado
240. David Paulson, TE, Oregon
246. Terrence Frederick, CB, Texas A&M
248. Kelvin Beachum, T, SMU

The best overall draft of 2012. Pittsburgh added two plug-and-play offensive linemen, with Stanford's "can't miss" guard David DeCastro in the first round and Ohio State's "problem child" tackle Mike Adams in the second round. Both were value picks, at Nos. 24 and 56, respectively. Then, Blitz-burgh added a sideline-to-sideline linebacker in Miami's Sean Spence, a zero-technique nose tackle in Washington's Alameda Ta'amu and a triple-threat track star in Florida's Chris Rainey, who new offensive coordinator (and former Chiefs coach) Todd Haley sees in a Dexter McCluster-type role.

San Diego Chargers
Grade: B–

Pick. Player, Pos., School
18. Melvin Ingram, DE, South Carolina
49. Kendall Reyes, DT, Connecticut
73. Brandon Taylor, S, LSU
110. Ladarius Green, TE, UL Lafayette
149. Johnnie Troutman, G, Penn State
226. David Molk, C, Michigan
250. Edwin Baker, RB, Michigan State

The best high-five of Thursday night, South Carolina tweener Melvin Ingram hyped upped Commissioner Roger Goodell's perceived street cred with a choreographed greeting on stage, shortly after Ingram was drafted much later than he intended. The Commish hugs and has special handshakes on draft night. It's impressive. Meanwhile, the "Lord of No Rings" A.J. Smith did a solid though not spectacular job. It's doubtful that Smith or coach Norv Turner had a special high-five planned the first time they met Ingram.

San Francisco 49ers
Grade: C–

Pick. Player, Pos., School
30. A.J. Jenkins, WR, Illinois
61. LaMichael James, RB, Oregon
117. Joe Looney, G, Wake Forest
165. Darius Fleming, LB, Notre Dame
180. Trent Robinson, S, Michigan State
199. Jason Slowey, C, Western Oregon
237. Cam Johnson, DE, Virginia

Why didn't Jim Harbaugh just draft his old Stanford players? Everyone in the Bay Area would have been happier. Illinois wideout A.J. Jenkins and Oregon running back LaMichael James add much-needed speed to the Niners offense. But both were over-drafted and are likely candidates to under-perform.

Seattle Seahawks
Grade: D

Pick. Player, Pos., School
15. Bruce Irvin, DE, West Virginia
47. Bobby Wagner, LB, Utah State
75. Russell Wilson, QB, NC State
106. Robert Turbin, RB, Utah State
114. Jaye Howard, DT, Florida
154. Korey Toomer, LB, Idaho
172. Jeremy Lane, CB, Northwestern State
181. Winston Guy, S, Kentucky
225. JR Sweezy, DE, NC State
232. Greg Scruggs, DE, Louisville

Speaking of former Pac-10, BCS bowl-winning coaches who over-drafted prospects likely to under-perform, former USC beach boy Pete Carroll recruited a junior college pass rusher in Bruce Irvin. A couch-burner from West Virginia, Irvin has plenty of red flags waving but enough strip-sack potential to roll the dice on. NC State and Wisconsin quarterback Russell Wilson (along with his very-TV-aware blonde fiance and her purse dog) had more face time on day two of ESPN's draft coverage than Seattle's second-round pick, Utah State linebacker Bobby Wagner, did during his entire college career.  

St. Louis Rams
Grade: A

Pick. Player, Pos., School
14. Michael Brockers, DT, LSU
33. Brian Quick, WR, Appalachian State
39. Janoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama
50. Isaiah Pead, RB, Cincinnati
65. Trumaine Johnson, CB, Montana
96. Chris Givens, WR, Wake Forest
150. Rokevious Watkins, T, South Carolina
171. Greg Zuerlein, K, Missouri Western
209. Aaron Brown, LB, Hawaii
252. Daryl Richardson, RB, Abilene Christian

Jeff Fisher impression starts now: The Rams got the Redskins 2012, 2013 and 2014 first-rounders in the RG3 trade; beast LSU defensive tackle Michael Brockers, who has a LeBron James beard; Pacman Jones 2.0 in Florida and North Alabama corner-returner Janoris Jenkins; and Montana product Trumaine Johnson. FYI, Johnson, Fisher's son and Fisher's son's friend, Titans Pro Bowl return specialist Marc Mariani, all played ball at Montana and were drafted by Fisher in some capacity. The RG3 trade riches will buy the Rams high-priced talent over the next couple drafts. It's up to Fisher and Co. to make those picks continue to count. 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Grade: B+

Pick. Player, Pos., School
7. Mark Barron, S, Alabama
31. Doug Martin, RB, Boise State
58. Lavonte David, LB, Nebraska
140. Najee Goode, LB, West Virginia
174. Keith Tandy, CB, West Virginia
212. Michael Smith, RB, Utah State
233. Drake Dunsmore, TE, Northwestern

Team Tampa 2 played press coverage in the first round, moving down to pick Alabama safety Mark Barron and moving up to grab Boise State running back Doug Martin. Both players should make an immediate impact. Barron was a two-time national champ and defensive leader for Nick Saban's Crimson Tide. Nebraska blackshirt backer Lavonte David and the West Virginia duo of linebacker Najee Goode and corner Keith Tandy rounded out a solid defensive draft for first-year coach Greg Schiano.

Tennessee Titans
Grade: C

Pick. Player, Pos., School
20. Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor
52. Zach Brown, LB, North Carolina
82. Mike Martin, DT, Michigan
115. Coty Sensabaugh, CB, Clemson
145. Taylor Thompson, TE, SMU
190. Markelle Martin, S, Oklahoma State
211. Scott Solomon, DE, Rice

The Zach Brown Band is playing Music City. Problem is, NFL Network's Mike Mayock called the North Carolina linebacker "allergic to contact," to which Rich Eisen cracked, "can't you take Claritin for that?" Michigan defensive tackle Mike Martin and Clemson cornerback Coty Sensabaugh are excellent value picks. The surprise selection of Baylor receiver Kendall Wright may say more about the organization's lack of trust in Kenny Britt, whose injuries and off-field issues continue to mount. 

Washington Redskins
Grade: A

Pick. Player, Pos., School
2. Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor
71. Josh LeRibeus, G, SMU
102. Kirk Cousins, QB, Michigan State
119. Keenan Robinson, LB, Texas
141. Adam Gettis, G, Iowa
173. Alfred Morris, RB, Florida Atlantic
193. Tom Compton, T, South Dakota
213. Richard Crawford, CB, SMU
217. Jordan Bernstine, CB, Iowa

Robert Griffin III's old school Redskins color scheme "Go Catch Your Dreams" socks were a nice touch for the adidas spokesman who wore Superman socks to his victorious Heisman Trophy ceremony. A true dual-threat, RG3 is a seemingly a perfect fit for Mike Shanahan's version of the West Coast offense, which Steve Young, John Elway and Jay Cutler all thrived in since the early 1990s. The selection of Michigan State quarterback Kirk Cousins is a fascinating but logical one. RG3 and Cousins can compete and grow together, while giving Washington two potential leaders for the future. RG3 better be able to beat out Cousins for the top spot.

by Nathan Rush
 

Teaser:
<p> It's never too early to grade the 2012 NFL Draft, which saw Commissioner Roger Goodell hugging and high-fiving future Pro Bowlers like Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III, and potential busts like Dontari Poe and Bruce Irvin. Here's a team-by-team look at the winners and losers from this year.</p>
Post date: Monday, April 30, 2012 - 07:46
Path: /nfl/biggest-busts-nfl-draft-history
Body:

The biggest busts in recent NFL Draft history — from Tony Mandarich to JaMarcus Russell, and the infamous Mike Mamula, Ryan Leaf, Akili Smith and Charles Rogers swings-and-misses in between.

1989 – 2. Green Bay Packers
Tony Mandarich, LT, Michigan State

Sports Illustrated cursed the roided-up man-child by featuring a shirtless Mandarich on the magazine’s draft issue cover and declaring “The Incredible Bulk” as “the best offensive line prospect ever.”

The larger-than-life 6’6”, 315-pound Mandarich idolized Arnold Schwarzenegger, rocked out with Axl Rose and told David Letterman that he wanted to fight Mike Tyson. And after inking a four-year, $4.4 million rookie deal, Mandarich did become the first $1 million-per-year O-lineman.

But the Mandarich tall tale quickly came crashing down. He has since admitted to a career built on anabolic steroids — Dianabol, Winstrol and Anavar — and demolished by painkillers — Vicodin, Valium, Percocet and Percodan.

It doesn’t help that Mandarich was surrounded by future Hall of Famers — UCLA quarterback Troy Aikman (1. Dallas Cowboys), Oklahoma State running back Barry Sanders (3. Detroit Lions), Alabama edge rusher Derrick Thomas (4. Kansas City Chiefs) and Florida State cornerback Deion Sanders (5. Atlanta Falcons) — in the 1989 NFL Draft. The Packers belly-flopped with a “can’t miss” left tackle.

1994 – 5. Indianapolis Colts
Trev Alberts, LB, Nebraska

“Who the hell is Mel Kiper?” Colts GM Bill Tobin infamously asked, after being called out by ESPN’s helmet-hair-gelled draft expert as a result of his selection of Alberts.

Kiper thought Indianapolis should have drafted Fresno State quarterback Trent Dilfer rather than Alberts, going so far as to say moves like this were why the Colts were “the laughingstock of the league year-in and year-out.”

“I think it’s a typical Colts move. I mean, here’s a team that needs a franchise quarterback. There are two (Tennessee’s Heath Shuler and Dilfer) out there. They have a chance at two; they don’t take them,” said Kiper, on the draft day telecast in 1994.

“They take an outside linebacker. And not even a true outside linebacker, somebody that has to learn coverage in Trev Alberts. … To pass up a Trent Dilfer, when all you have is Jim Harbaugh. Give me a break. That’s why the Colts are picking second every year in the draft and not battling for the Super Bowl like other clubs in the National Football League.”

Alberts was indeed a bust during his short three-year career in Indy. Meanwhile, Dilfer went on to lead the Baltimore Ravens to a win in Super Bowl XXXV — although some have given him the oxymoronic label as “worst quarterback ever to win a Super Bowl.” In fairness, the Colts did draft San Diego State running back Marshall Faulk, a Hall of Famer, with the No. 2 overall pick in 1994.

1995 – 7. Philadelphia Eagles
Mike Mamula, DE, Boston College

The original workout warrior weighed in at 6’4”, 250 pounds, ran a 4.58 in the 40-yard dash, skied 38.5 inches in the vertical leap, ripped off 26 reps of 225 pounds on the bench press and reportedly aced the Wonderlic test with a score of 49 out of a possible 50 at the annual Scouting Combine. As a result, the screaming Eagle soared up draft boards, while future stars like Miami defensive tackle Warren Sapp fell farther than expected once Commissioner Paul Tagliabue began mispronouncing names on draft day.

Mamula was mediocre for five seasons, but never lived up to the massive expectations that his massive biceps and calves caused at the Combine. To this day, self-loathing Philly fans claim Sapp was the guy they wanted over Mamula, while the beefed-up BC ‘tweener has become the poster boy for the potential dangers of relying too much on numbers at the Combine, a.k.a. the underwear Olympics.

1996 – 6. St. Louis Rams
Lawrence Phillips, RB, Nebraska

The Rams front office — led by Georgia Frontiere, the only female owner in the NFL —fell in love with Phillips, who was reportedly the No. 1 player on the team’s draft board despite a high-profile domestic assault case for which he was still serving probation.

To make matters worse, Phillips’ predecessor in St. Louis, Jerome Bettis, was traded to the Pittsburgh Steelers to make room for the Cornhusker star. “The Bus” went on to win Super Bowl XL in his hometown of Detroit; Phillips went on to play four seasons in the NFL, before bouncing around the Arena Football League, Canadian Football League and ultimately landing in the Los Angeles prison system — receiving a 31-year sentence for several felonies, notably multiple assault charges against his girlfriend and for running down three teens with his car following a sandlot football game gone wrong.

1998 – 2. San Diego Chargers
Ryan Leaf, QB, Washington State

People forget how heated the “Peyton Manning vs. Ryan Leaf” debate was back in 1998. Many so-called experts thought Leaf had a superior arm to Manning and an intangible swagger Archie’s boy did not have. The Chargers traded up from No. 3 overall to acquire the Cardinals’ No. 2 overall pick in order to ensure a shot at either Manning or Leaf. That year, ESPN: The Magazine concluded that Leaf “possesses an ‘I don’t give a crap’ attitude that has proven essential to Super Bowl quarterbacks from Stabler to McMahon to Favre. Come 2018, Ryan Leaf, not Manning, will be strutting up to a podium in Canton.”

Manning’s bust will certainly be on display at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, five years after his retirement. Leaf is just a bust — having posted a 4–17 record with 3,666 yards, 14 TDs and 36 INTs over 25 games with the Chargers and Cowboys. Leaf was a team cancer on and off the field, alienating San Diego veterans such as Junior Seau and Rodney Harrison, and getting caught on tape threatening local reporters.

The story has only gotten worse since Leaf left the NFL. He is currently accused of breaking into homes and stealing prescription painkillers; he faces four felony counts in Montana, including burglary and criminal possession of a dangerous drug. In 2010, Leaf faced similar accusations as a golf coach at West Texas A&M; he was given 10 years probation as part of a plea bargain, a deal which is now in jeopardy pending the outcome of his new case in Montana.

1999 – 3. Cincinnati Bengals
Akili Smith, QB, Oregon

After only 11 college starts at Oregon, the athletic Smith — who was also a minor league baseball prospect — was selected behind Kentucky’s Tim Couch (No. 1 Cleveland Browns) and Syracuse’s Donovan McNabb (No. 2 Philadelphia Eagles), as the third quarterback taken in a class that was set to rival the 1983 crew that included John Elway, Jim Kelly and Dan Marino. The Class of 1999 had five quarterbacks taken in the first dozen picks — Couch, McNabb, Smith, UCF’s Daunte Culpepper (11. Minnesota Vikings) and UCLA’s Cade McNown (12. Chicago Bears).

The Bungles missed the mark yet again, as Smith reportedly struggled to learn the playbook and partied his way out of the league — posting a 3–14 record with 2,212 yards, five TDs and 13 INTs over 22 games in Cincinnati.

2000 – 1. Cleveland Browns
Courtney Brown, DE, Penn State

The original Jim Browns moved to Baltimore and became the Ravens in 1996. The expansion Courtney Browns were dropped in Cleveland by Paul Tagliabue in 1999. Mistakes by the lake have followed ever since.

With back-to-back No. 1 overall picks to start the franchise over from scratch, the Browns selected Kentucky quarterback Tim Couch in 1999 and Penn State defensive end Courtney Brown in 2000. Injuries kept Brown off the field and a sputtering motor kept him from making plays when he was on the field. Brown’s surname grade and Combine measurables were off-the-charts, but it was obvious to every brown-paper-bag wearing fan in the Dawg Pound that Brown was a classic case of “look like Tarzan, play like Jane.”

2003 – 2. Detroit Lions
Charles Rogers, WR, Michigan State

The local product was the first of four first-round receivers selected over a five-year span by Matt Millen — who picked Rogers at No. 2 overall (one spot ahead of Miami receiver Andre Johnson) in 2003, Texas’ Roy Williams at No. 7 in 2004, USC’s Mike Williams at No. 10 in 2005 and Georgia Tech’s Calvin Johnson at No. 2 in 2007.

Rogers suffered back-to-back broken collarbones to miss the majority of his first two seasons. Then, a failed drug test and coaching regime change in Detroit effectively ended the lanky wideout’s career after only 15 games, 36 catches for 440 yards and four TDs. Rogers was also forced to return much of his salary, since a failed drug test violated the terms of his rookie contract.

Recent run-ins with the law have included a DUI arrest, possession charge, driving with an open container, conspiring to commit a crime and making malicious phone calls.

2007 – 1. Oakland Raiders
JaMarcus Russell, QB, LSU

After the longest holdout since Bo Jackson chose baseball over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1986, Russell broke the bank with a six-year, $61 million contract with $29 million guaranteed. It was all down hill after that. The theory that money makes a person more of whatever they already were was never more true that with Russell — who lived up to his reputation as lazy and out of shape, but failed to live up to his undeniably enormous potential.

Al Davis’ dreams of revitalizing the Raiders’ vertical passing attack were based on a mountain of a man (6’6”, 260) who could throw a football over 60 yards from his knees. The problem was, Russell couldn’t throw the ball from the pocket while on his feet. He also couldn’t stay awake in meetings or keep his weight in check. After going 25–4 as a starter at LSU, Russell struggled to a 7–18 record in the NFL with 4,083 yards, 18 TDs and 23 INTs in three seasons.

Sleep-walking through his highly paid NFL career, Russell was implicated in a codeine syrup drug bust in his native Mobile, Ala., but was not indicted by a grand jury for possession of the main ingredient in “purple drank” — a club concoction Russell unintentionally took from the Southern rap scene and introduced into mainstream sports talk. Russell has also faced six-figure tax debt and the foreclosure of his six-bedroom, $3 million Oakland mansion.

Other NFL Draft-Related Content

NFL Draft: A Look at First-Round Trades
2012 NFL Draft First-Round Primer
2012 NFL Draft: Ranking the Positions
2012 NFL Draft Sleepers and Steals
2012 NFL Draft Busts: Ryan Tannehill and Dontari Poe
NFL Draft History: Busts, Sleepers and Solid Picks - Part 1
NFL Draft History: Busts, Sleepers and Solid Picks - Part 2
2012 NFL Mock Draft: Our First-Round Projection
2012 NFL Draft Stock Watch
2012 NFL Draft: Andrew Luck vs. Robert Griffin III

2012 NFL Must-See Match Ups
2012 NFL Schedule Highlights

Teaser:
<p> The biggest busts in recent NFL Draft history — from Tony Mandarich to JaMarcus Russell,&nbsp;and the infamous Mike Mamula, Ryan Leaf, Akili Smith and Charles Rogers swings-and-misses in between.</p>
Post date: Sunday, April 22, 2012 - 19:30
Path: /nfl/andrew-luck-vs-robert-griffin-iii
Body:

Stanford’s Andrew Luck and Baylor’s Robert Griffin III are poised to become just the fifth pair of quarterbacks to be selected No. 1 and 2 overall in the draft since the NFL-AFL merger in 1970. Luck and RG3 are set to join Tim Couch and Donovan McNabb (1999), Peyton Manning and Ryan Leaf (1998), Drew Bledsoe and Rick Mirer (1993), and Jim Plunkett and Archie Manning (1971) in history.

Indianapolis Colts fans have been preparing for Luck’s arrival since the once proud franchise staggered to an 0–13 start with Peyton Manning sidelined due to multiple neck surgeries. Meanwhile, the Washington Redskins’ faithful have only recently locked in on RG3 — following a bold trade that sent the Skins’ first- and second-round picks in 2012 (Nos. 6 and 39 overall), as well as their first-rounders in 2013 and 2014 to the St. Louis Rams in exchange for the No. 2 overall pick.

Athlon Sports takes a look at the tale of the tape, pitting Luck vs. RG3 in every measurable and intangible attribute necessary to be a franchise quarterback at the next level.

PEDIGREE

LUCK: Born Sept. 12, 1989 in Washington, D.C., to Oliver and Kathy Luck. Father played quarterback at West Virginia and in the NFL for five years with the Houston Oilers, and is currently the athletic director at WVU.

RG3: Born Feb. 12, 1990 in Japan, where Robert Jr. and Jacqueline Griffin were stationed. Both parents are retired sergeants in the U.S. Army. Griffin is also recently engaged to Baylor’s Rebecca Liddicoat.

EDGE: Both have stable, two-parent homes and are essentially the same age. But LUCK comes from NFL bloodlines, which is always an advantage.

STATURE

LUCK: 6’4”, 234 pounds, 32 5/8” arms

RG3: 6’2”, 223 pounds, 32 1/4” arms

EDGE: Both have the frame necessary to play quarterback in the NFL, where quarterbacks range from defensive end-sized Cam Newton (6’5”, 248 pounds, 33 3/4” arms) to barely big enough Drew Brees (6’0”, 209 pounds, 31 1/4” arms). LUCK has prototypical size.

FOOTBALL IQ

LUCK: Raised by a former quarterback father and coached by 15-year NFL veteran signal-caller Jim Harbaugh. The NFL Coach of the Year and current San Francisco 49ers boss, “Captain Comeback” was instrumental in Luck’s development at Stanford, where Harbaugh coached from 2007-10.

In his final season at Stanford, Luck did his best Peyton Manning impression at the line of scrimmage. “We put the formation out there and let Andrew call the play. It’s 100 percent up to him to get us in the right play,” explained Cardinal coach David Shaw, who was Luck’s offensive coordinator prior to taking over the top spot.

RG3: Orchestrated Art Briles’ spread offense to perfection. Not to imply RG3 is a “system quarterback,” but Kevin Kolb (2003-06) and Case Keenum (2007) also put up video game gaudy numbers in Briles’ quick-strike attack when he coached at Houston.

EDGE: LUCK ran a pro-style offense in which he was the centerpiece play-caller and playmaker, a la Manning.

LATE-GAME LEADERSHIP

LUCK: Showed the heart of a champion in 2011 during a triple-overtime win over USC (56–48). Luck threw a costly pick-six to give the Trojans the lead with 3:08 remaining in regulation before marching the Cardinal downfield to tie the game with 38 ticks on the clock — before leading three TD drives in the overtime win. In 2010, Luck led a nine-play, 62-yard drive in the final 1:08 to set up a game-winning FG to beat USC (37–35) as time expired, and had a fourth-quarter comeback to take down Arizona State (17–14).

RG3: Proved to be a winner of the highest order in 2011, pulling off four come-from-behind wins in the fourth quarter or overtime — against TCU (50–48) in the season’s Friday night opener; at Kansas (31–30) after a three-TD fourth-quarter rally to force overtime; against No. 5 Oklahoma (45–38) on a thrilling 34-yard TD pass with eight seconds to play, resulting in Baylor’s highest-ranked upset win since 1985; and in his final collegiate contest in the Alamo Bowl against Washington (67–56). In 2010, Griffin came from behind at Texas (30–22) for Baylor’s first win in Austin since 1991.

EDGE: Both have had late-game heroics. Luck had fewer shining moments in the fourth quarter — due in large part to the talented BCS bowl (Orange in 2010, Fiesta in 2011) teams he played on. At times, RG3 seemingly was a one-man show, willing the Bears to victory.

ACCURACY

LUCK: Owns the Pac-12 records for both single-season (71.3 percent) and career (67.0 percent) completion percentage.

RG3: Ranks third all-time in single-season (72.4 percent) and sixth all-time in career completion percentage (67.1 percent) in Big 12 history.

EDGE: Both LUCK and RG3 have shown touch on short and intermediate routes; the difference is negligible.

ARM STRENGTH

LUCK: Was famously criticized by Super Bowl-winning quarterback and CBS analyst Phil Simms. “The one thing I don’t see, I just don’t see big-time NFL throws. I don’t care what anybody says. I’ve watched a lot of him. He never takes it and rips it in there. And you can say what you want but, man, you’ve got to be able to crease that ball every once in a while,” said Simms. “There’s not a lot of rotation on the ball and there’s not a tremendous amount of power.”

RG3: Was able to utilize vertical deep threat — and likely NFL first-round pick — receiver Kendall Wright, who had at least one catch of 40 or more yards in six games and nine scoring grabs covering 30 or more yards last year.

EDGE: RG3 showed the ability and willingness to grip-it and rip-it downfield on a consistent basis. In fairness, Luck might have done the same if he had been fortunate enough to play with an NFL-caliber wideout with high-end speed.

HAND SIZE

LUCK: 10”

RG3: 9 1/2”

EDGE: Protecting the football in the NFL can never be undervalued. It only helps to have big mits when trying to hold on to the ball in sloppy conditions or when being blindsided by a 300-pounder. LUCK has hands in the Drew Brees (10 1/4”) or Brett Favre (10 3/8”) range, while RG3 is in fringy Daunte Culpepper (9 1/2”) or Alex Smith (9 3/8”) territory.

MEDICAL HISTORY

LUCK: Missed a Sun Bowl loss to Oklahoma (31–27) as a redshirt freshman following the 2009 season due to surgery on his broken right index finger.

RG3: Granted medical redshirt after suffering a season-ending knee injury in the third game of his true sophomore season in 2009.

EDGE: LUCK only missed one game during his Stanford career; RG3 missed most of the 2009 season.

ATHLETICISM

LUCK: Ran a 4.67 in the 40-yard dash, had a 36” vertical leap and a 10’4” broad jump at the Scouting Combine.

RG3: Ran a quarterback-record 4.41 in the 40, had a 39” vertical and 10’ broad jump at the Scouting Combine.

EDGE: Although Luck’s numbers were eerily similar to Cam Newton’s (4.59 in the 40, 35” vertical, 10’6” broad), RG3 dazzled the crowd in Indianapolis. Both are elite athletes compared to the majority of their quarterback peers.

COLLEGE PRODUCTION

LUCK: Passed for 9,430 yards, 82 TDs and 22 INTs. Rushed for 957 yards and seven TDs. Posted a 31–7 career record (1–1 in bowls). Won Walter Camp Foundation Player of the Year, Maxwell Trophy, Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award and Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year.

RG3: Passed for 10,366 yards, 78 TDs and 17 INTs. Rushed for 2,254 yards and 33 TDs. Posted a 23–18 career record (1–1 in bowls). Won Heisman Trophy, Davey O’Brien Award, Manning Award and Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year. Graduated with degree in political science.

EDGE: RG3 barely edges Luck in terms of complete body of work; the Heisman Trophy poses as a powerful tiebreaker.

MARKETABILITY

LUCK: Signed with Nike; first ad explains that Andrew’s hard work “Makes His Luck.” Since shaving his 2011 offseason neck beard, Luck has been as clean cut as any college kid in the country.

RG3: Signed with adidas; wore gold adizero 5-Star shoes at the Combine and a “No Pressure, No Diamonds” adidas t-shirt while working out at his Pro Day and as a spectacled fan at the Baylor-Kentucky NCAA Tournament matchup in Atlanta. Also famously wore Superman socks to the Heisman Trophy ceremony in New York.

EDGE: LUCK probably has a higher Q Score due to his extended time in the spotlight, but RG3 has quickly established himself as a stylish brand to be reckoned with.

Both are extremely polished dealing with media and fans, understand exactly what is expected of them on and off the field, and appear to be mature enough to handle the responsibility of being the face of a nine-figure franchise.

VERDICT

Although the race to No. 1 is closer than anyone would have predicted at this time last year, LUCK remains the top quarterback in the 2012 NFL Draft. In the areas where RG3 has a clear edge, the gap is not significant enough to surpass Luck as the top passer available. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts where Luck is concerned; he is a worthy heir to Manning and deserves to be the No. 1 pick of the Indianapolis Colts on April 26.

by Nathan Rush
 

Other NFL Draft-Related Content

2012 NFL Draft First-Round Primer
2012 NFL Draft: Ranking the Positions
2012 NFL Draft Sleepers and Steals
2012 NFL Draft Busts: Ryan Tannehill and Dontari Poe
NFL Draft History: Busts, Sleepers and Solid Picks - Part 1
Biggest Busts in NFL Draft History
2012 NFL Mock Draft: Our First-Round Projection
2012 NFL Draft Stock Watch

2012 NFL Must-See Match Ups
2012 NFL Schedule Highlights

Teaser:
<p> A look at the tale of the tape, pitting Stanford's Andrew Luck vs. Baylor's Robert Griffin III in every measurable and intangible attribute necessary for NFL success.</p>
Post date: Thursday, April 12, 2012 - 12:00
Path: /college-basketball/greatest-kentucky-basketball-team-ever
Body:

John Calipari’s Kentucky Wildcats play Rick Pitino’s Louisville Cardinals in the Final Four on Saturday in a game that will determine the best team in the Commonwealth this season. But even if UK crushes the U of L, as expected, will Pitino still have bragging rights over Calipari?

This UK team appears to have transcended contemporary comparisons, moving on to the ranks of the all-time greats. But where do Calipari’s 2012 Cats stack up against Pitino’s national championship winning 1996 Untouchables?

Which is the best Kentucky basketball team ever? There are seven national champions — 1998, 1996, 1978, 1958, 1951, 1949 and 1948 — with an eighth (2012) possibly on the way.

RECORD

2012: 36–2 overall, 16–0 SEC; suffered losses at Indiana and to Vanderbilt in the SEC title game. Advanced to the Final Four, where Louisville awaits.

1996: 34–2 overall, 16–0 SEC; suffered losses to No. 1 UMass, a team coached by Calipari and led by Marcus Camby, and Mississippi State in the SEC title game. Defeated Syracuse in the national championship game.

Edge: 1996. Both losses came against teams that ultimately made the Final Four, with Pitino’s Wildcats getting revenge against Calipari’s Minutemen in the national semifinals of the NCAA Tournament. The 1996 squad cut down the nets; only time will tell whether the 2012 team will win it all.

CENTER

2012: The National Player of the Year, freshman Anthony Davis, averages 14.3 points on 63.3 percent shooting from the field and 71.2 percent from the free throw line, while adding 10.1 rebounds, 4.6 blocked shots and 1.3 steals per game. With a wingspan that seemingly stretches from end line to end line, Davis is the most intimidating defensive presence the college game has seen since Patrick Ewing. Eloy Vargas is essentially an emergency option with five free fouls to give.

1996: Senior Mark Pope played his role on a loaded roster, averaging 7.6 points, 5.1 rebounds and 1.2 blocked shots. Freshman big man Nazr Mohammed played a major role on Tubby Smith’s 1998 title team, but was a raw backup for Pitino in 1996.

Edge: 2012. Davis has been historically great, as the Player of the Year, Freshman of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year and likely No. 1 overall pick in the upcoming NBA Draft.

FORWARDS

2012: Freshman phenom Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and enigmatic sophomore Terrence Jones provide Coach Cal with a pair of versatile NBA talents capable of overpowering the opposition in the paint or dribble-driving from the perimeter. Kidd-Gilchrist averages 12 points and 7.6 rebounds per game and is generally perceived as the No. 2 prospect in the 2012 NBA Draft — behind only teammate Davis. Jones adds 12.6 points, 7.2 rebounds and 1.8 blocked shots to the mix; his ability to man up and take over stretches of games is undercut by his oft-immature nature and semi-frequent run-ins with Calipari. Off the bench, senior Darius Miller brings defensive intensity and veteran leadership, while underrated freshman Kyle Wiltjer — who was a McDonald’s All-American out of high school — has a high basketball IQ dangerous outside shot.

1996: Antoine Walker was in his prime as a sophomore. The athletic point-forward who was a terror in the full court press — kicking balls on inbounds plays and trapping ball-handlers in corners with his lateral quickness — in no way resembled the overweight 3-point-happy ‘Toine from late in his NBA career. Walker averaged 15.2 points, 8.4 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.7 steals per game as UK’s top all-around player since Jamal Mashburn. Senior Walter McCarty averaged 11.3 points, 5.7 boards, 2.6 assists and 1.4 blocked shots per game while teaming with Walker to give Pitino a dynamic duo capable of taking over at either end of the court. Freshman Ron Mercer was the consensus third-best prospect in his high school senior class, behind Chicago’s Kevin Garnett and New York’s Stephon Marbury. Mercer exemplifies the Cats’ otherworldly depth, averaging 8 points and 2.9 rebounds as an open court terror with a polished mid-range halfcourt game.

Edge: 1996. The length and skill set of Walker, McCarty and Mercer was amplified by the trio’s reliability, compared to the home run or strikeout quartet of Kidd-Gilchrist, Jones, Miller and Wiltjer.

GUARDS

2012: Sophomore combo guard Doron Lamb is the stabilizing influence on this year’s UK crew. A natural shooter with an instinctual feel for the game, Lamb averages 13.6 points while shooting an eye-popping 47.1 percent from the field, 47.1 percent (73-of-155) from 3-point range and 82.9 percent from the free throw line. The New York native is also a suffocating perimeter defender and capable point guard when the situation calls for him to become the primary ball-handler. Freshman Marquis Teague may be the X-factor where the 2012 squad’s national title hopes are concerned. A streak shooter with a ball hog streak, Teague averages 10 points and 4.8 assists; but tends to freelance at inopportune times more than any other player in blue.

1996: Senior bomber Tony Delk as named the NCAA Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player after hitting a record-tying seven 3-pointers against Syracuse in the national title game. A long-armed, pressing menace, Delk averaged 17.8 points while shooting 44.3 percent (93-of-210) from long range. Athletic junior wing Derek Anderson played his role to smooth perfection, averaging 9.4 points, 3.4 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.7 steals as a coast-to-coast fast break finisher and athletic defender. Junior Jeff Sheppard, freshman Wayne Turner and junior Anthony Epps were bit players off the bench in 1996 but played larger roles in the 1997 runner-up team that lost to Arizona in overtime of the national title game in Pitino’s last game as coach of Kentucky.

Edge: 1996. Delk and Anderson have the edge in experience, production and athleticism over Lamb and Teague. Depth also is in favor of 1996, with Sheppard, Turner and Epps all capable of producing in big game minutes.

COACH

2012: John Calipari is in his coaching prime. No one in the country is better.

1996: Rick Pitino was in his coaching prime. No one in the country was better.

Tie: The 2012 Calipari and 1996 Pitino are nearly mirror images of each other — a fact that fuels the pair’s ongoing personal and professional feud.

VERDICT

The 2012 Kentucky Wildcats may be better at the very top, but the 1996 Kentucky Wildcats were undeniably deep and had a habit of wearing down their opponents with a suffocating full court press on defense and a wide open, bombs away offense that was nearly unstoppable in the open court. Nine players from the 1996 roster went on to play in the NBA; seven saw action in the title game victory.

This year’s UK team is one of the best in the history of college basketball; it’s just not the No. 1 team in the rich history of Kentucky basketball.
 

Teaser:
<p> The greatest Kentucky basketball team ever? John Calipari's 2012 Kentucky Wildcats or Rick Pitino's 1996 Kentucky Wildcats?</p>
Post date: Friday, March 30, 2012 - 18:16
Path: /college-basketball/ncaa-tournament-sweet-16-preview-west-region
Body:

NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 Preview: West Region

Top Dog — Michigan State (1)

Coach Tom Izzo punched the ticket to his 10th Sweet 16, thanks in no small part to his all-everything point forward Draymond Green. No insult intended Steve Smith, but Sparty has not seen a super-sized talent like Green since Magic was still Earvin Johnson in East Lansing. When times got tough in a hard-fought 65-61 win over Saint Louis, Green took control on both ends of the floor, handling the ball, scoring and play-making on the perimeter on offense while rebounding and intimidating in the paint on defense. Green, who went for 16 points, 13 rebounds and six assists against the Billikens, is joined by talented guard Keith Appling on a balanced squad capable of cutting down the nets in New Orleans.

Underdog – Florida (7)

On paper, Florida had a favorable Round of 32 matchup against similarly undersized No. 2 seed Missouri. But as fate would have it, Mizzou was ousted early by No. 15 seed Norfolk State. Two-time national champion coach Billy Donovan would have no such problem, however, as UF toppled the Spartans 84-50. A streaky hot team with too many guards (Erving Walker, Kenny Boyton, Bradley Beal) to guard, Florida shot lights out against Norfolk State, hitting 28-of-53 from the field (52.8 percent) and 10-of-28 from downtown (35.7 percent). Billy the Kid's team will be tough to beat if they keep their hot hand and big men Patric Young and Erik Murphy stay out of foul trouble.

Player to Watch – Darius Johnson-Odom, Marquette (3)

Numero Uno in Marquette's all-out athletic attack, Darius Johnson-Odom is hoping to lead the Golden Eagles to their first Final Four since D-Wade carried the club on his back in 2003. Unlike Tom Crean's crew, however, coach Buzz Williams' team will not rely solely on a singular talent to stay alive. Instead, Marquette's duo of Johnson-Odom and forward Jae Crowder will do the damage. The tag team combined for 34 of MU's 62 points and 15 of the Eagles' 36 rebounds during a 62-53 win over Murray State to advance to the Sweet 16.

Opening Weekend Upset – Norfolk State (15) over Missouri (2)

Heading into the Big Dance, the knock on Mizzou was its lack of size. And Norfolk State center Kyle O'Quinn couldn't have come up bigger in a David vs. Goliath matchup where David outweighed Goliath down low. The 6'10", 240-pound O'Quinn recorded 26 points, 14 rebounds and two blocked shots in an historic 86-84 victory for the Spartans.

Irish Bracket Bomb

“I got a lot of those clovers, texting me, ‘Good luck, good luck, Kyle O’Quinn win!’ I had to leave my phone at the hotel because I was getting too many of those kinds of messages.” — Norfolk State’s Kyle O’Quinn, whose Irish surname and green-and-gold Spartan teammates proved to be good luck on St. Patrick’s Day weekend.
 

Teaser:
<p> Michigan State held on, while Florida chomped along thanks to Norfolk State's upset of Missouri.</p>
Post date: Sunday, March 18, 2012 - 20:06

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