Articles By Rich Mcvey
One of the most intriguing coaching positions in college basketball became available when Illinois dismissed Bruce Weber on Friday morning after nine seasons in Champaign. Some consider Illinois one of the elite jobs in the sport. The school has a strong history of success and is located near the hoops hotbed of Chicago. Others, however, believe this job is overrated. This faction contends that it’s very difficult to win at a high level unless you are willing to swim in murky recruiting waters.
That, however, is a debate for another day.
Right now, let’s take a look at some of the coaches that the school likely will target.
Shaka Smart, head coach, VCU
Smart emerged as a star in the coaching world when he guided VCU to the Final Four last season. This season, the Rams are back in the NCAA Tournament despite losing most of their key contributors from the Final Four team. He has a 38–16 record in the CAA in his three seasons at VCU. Smart, who has plenty of Midwest ties, would be a home run.
Brad Stevens, head coach, Butler
Stevens is perhaps the most respected head coach in the sport not named Mike Krzyzewski. Butler reached to the NCAA Tournament in each of his first four seasons as a head coach, highlighted by back-to-back trips to the national title game. Stevens has made it clear that he is very happy at Butler, but he might have to listen if Illinois came calling.
Chris Collins, associate head coach, Duke
Collins is an Illinois native who starred at Duke in the mid-'90s and has served on Mike Krzyzewski’s staff at his alma mater since 2000. He has no experience as a head coach, and his candidacy might be hurt due to the fact that several of Coach K’s assistants have not enjoyed a high level of success as head coaches.
Anthony Grant, head coach, Alabama
Grant, a former Billy Donovan assistant, has been a head coach for six seasons, three at VCU and three at Alabama. He took VCU to the NCAA Tournament in 2007 (and beat Duke in the first round) and 2009 and is on the verge of taking Bama to the NCAAs for the first time since 2006. Alabama is good job. Illinois is a better job.
Kevin Stallings, head coach, Vanderbilt
Stallings is in his 13th season at Vanderbilt and will have the Commodores in the NCAA Tournament for the fifth time in the past six seasons and the sixth time in nine seasons. Stallings is an Illinois native who played at Purdue and served as the head coach at Illinois State for six seasons. He is happy at Vanderbilt, but could be ready for another challenge.
Chris Mack, head coach, Xavier
Mack has been very successful in his two-plus seasons at Xavier, but he reputation took a hit early this season when his team was involved in a post-game brawl with rival Cincinnati.
Scott Drew, head coach, Baylor
Drew will be taking Baylor to the NCAA Tournament for the third time in the past five seasons. He has done a tremendous job recruiting to Baylor, but isn’t regarded as an elite strategist. He is a native of Valparaiso, Ind.
Buzz Williams, head coach, Marquette
Williams’ name has come up for several Big 12 jobs in recent season, but he has elected to remain at Marquette. He has taken the Golden Eagles to the NCAA Tournament in five straight seasons.
Gregg Marshall, head coach, Wichita State
Marshall has a 303–142 record in 14 seasons as a head coach. He took Winthrop to the NCAA Tournament seven times in nine seasons and will have Wichita State in the field this year (as a high seed) for the first time in his five seasons.-by Mitch Light
Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, aka "Gronk," is throwing his hat into the ring for The Madden NFL 13 Cover in a big way. Gronk recently put together a video of himself "getting jacked at all times, going crazy" in a bid to win votes. BTW, we're loving the retro work out pants worn by his brothers.
The 2012 baseball season is just around the corner. As players gets loosened up at Spring Training, we thought we'd pull from Athlon’s 2012 MLB Preview Magazine to catch you up on some of the top players at each position and help you win your 2012 fantasy baseball league. Today, we look at first basemen, starting with the top tier players and work our way down.
1. Albert Pujols, Angels (A) Let’s say you signed Pujols to a 10-year contract back in 2002. Your fantasy crew would have gleaned 47 BA points, 187 homers, 440 RBIs, 466 runs and even 63 steals more than the median first baseman with 2,000 more plate appearances in that decade. And as for 2012, Angel Stadium plays better for right-handed hitters than Busch. Heck, Albert fractured his wrist last June and still only missed 14 games. Incomparable and indestructible.
2. Miguel Cabrera, Tigers (A) Cabrera is now one of three active players to have won a league title in each of the triple crown categories, joining Pujols and A-Rod. The gap between him and first base preeminence is this: no 40-homer and two 120-RBI seasons to six of each for Albert. Not a bad consolation prize, though.
3. Adrian Gonzalez, Red Sox (A) We jumped Gonzalez 34 spots in our 2011 preseason top 100 after he signed with Boston, and even that played out as a bit conservative. He wound up leading the bigs in AVG on contact to the opposite field (.500) and the AL in opposite-field homers (10) — a Fenway effect that makes him a top-10 roto hitter.
4. Joey Votto, Reds (A) Votto’s power is a tad short of the first base elite, but he’s likely going to hit .025 higher than anybody on the list below him. No player laced line drives at a higher rate (26%) last year, and his .363 AVG with runners in scoring position since 2009 is 25 points higher than anyone else in the majors.
5. Prince Fielder, Free Agent (A) Fielder is so feared that only 38.0% of pitches to him were in the strike zone — lowest among regulars. There’s a good reason for that; only Pujols matches his hits-homers-ribs triumvirate since 2006. If he relocates to a friendly venue, slip him ahead of Votto.
6. Mark Teixeira, Yankees (A) Teixeira’s AVGs have regressed from .308 to .292 to .256 to .248, yet he’s kept his HR sum steady from 33 to 39, and his RBIs between 108 and 122. His BAbips imply there’s no cause for alarm; he should settle in the .280-.285 window.
7. Eric Hosmer, Royals A .357 AVG and .965 OPS in his last 34 games tells us that Hosmer’s the real deal. Just 34 walks all year tells us that he has work to do, but also that there’s tons more upside. We’re actually projecting Hosmer ahead of Teixeira, but the raw numbers must be tempered by the fact that Tex has been doing it eight years longer.
8. Paul Konerko, White Sox (E) With two of his five best seasons occurring at ages 34-35, Konerko has proven to be a durable commodity. He is, however, edging toward DH-dom, and his lineup protection is evaporating.
9. Freddie Freeman, Braves Hosmer’s NL doppelganger…six weeks older, a highly analogous stats overlay and almost indistinguishable promise (although we lean a bit to Eric). No 21-year-old first baseman since Orlando Cepeda in 1959 had as many hits (161) or homers (21).
10. Ryan Howard, Phillies (F) A guaranteed full year of Howard would bounce him into the bottom of the first tier, so this will be the most-watched Achilles since the Trojan War. Whenever he returns (estimates range from Opening Day to June), keep in mind his 2010-11 HR-RBI totals were off an average of 18-31 from 2006-09, and that his five-year AVG is merely .266.
11. Ike Davis, Mets (C,F) Davis was off to a big start before a mysteriously persistent ankle injury wiped him out in May. He purports to be 100% now, but since he declined surgery, there’s some unease. The out-of-sight/out-of-mind effect could make him a bargain at your draft, so you’d have to be out of your mind not to have him in your sights.
12. Justin Morneau, Twins (F) Morneau’s missed roughly half of each of the last two schedules with numerous maladies, but when last seen completely healthy (July 2010), he was playing at an MVP level. His spring training will be a page-turner.
13. Paul Goldschmidt, Diamondbacks (C) The Minor League Player of the Year in some circles and Double-A Hitter of the Year in others, he showed power, patience and poise during his two-plus months in Phoenix. Not enough contact to be a high-average hitter, but he’s a future 30-100 type.
14. Mark Reynolds, Orioles A home run machine (fifth in the majors since 2008) who comes with his usual disclaimer (118th in AVG).
15. Lance Berkman, Cardinals (E) Berkman is a sho-nuff hitter’s hitter whose OPS stands in the all-time top 20. He’s also a 36-year-old injury time bomb who no longer has Pujols hitting in front of him.
Quarterback great Kurt Warner recently popped up in a video poking fun at his desire to return to the game. Kudos to Warner on his acting chops and his sense of humor.
The 2012 baseball season is just around the corner. As players gets loosened up at Spring Training, we thought we'd catch you up on some of the top players at each position to help you win your 2012 fantasy baseball league. Today, we look at catchers, starting with the top tier players and work our way down.
1. Joe Mauer, Twins Although the sickly Mauer may have to play the season in a Hazmat suit, his combination of résumé and career stage makes him the No. 1 choice at this perennially anemic position and a potential “best buy.” Target Field precludes anything resembling his .365-28-96-94 showing of 2009, but even .300-15-80-70 is something no catcher’s done since then.
2. Carlos Santana, Indians Though it’s just his second full season, we’re confident in projecting Santana as the 2012 positional HR and RBI leader. Of his last 90 hits, 47 went for extra bases. The rub is that his average was never above .245 after April 10, but .270 should be doable this time around.
3. Brian McCann, Braves McCann is the safest — if not the highest-ceilinged — pick in the tier, given that only three catchers (Yogi Berra, Mike Piazza, Jorge Posada) have ever exceeded his ongoing six-season run with minimums of 18 homers and 71 RBIs. His other categories are essentially neutral.
4. Mike Napoli, Rangers We were all over Napoli last year (“Thirty homers wouldn’t surprise…” — exactly what he hit), albeit as a projected DH. Now that he’s unambiguously a catcher (with some moonlighting at 1B), he merits a whole new level of fantasy deference. He holds the all-time record at the position with a HR in 6.6% of his ABs, but there are few prospects of anything close to another .320 AVG.
5. Matt Wieters, Orioles Wieters is looking a lot like McCann at this point, although he’s three years behind Brian’s age curve. Doubtful if there’s a ton more upside left, but 2011-type lines (.262-22-68-72) should be the norm for awhile.
6. Miguel Montero, Diamondbacks In the two years (2009, 2011) he’s been the Snakes’ primary catcher, Montero has averaged .288-17-73-63. That’s good stuff, but his injury proclivity casts a shadow.
7. Buster Posey, Giants (F) As he’s yet to play a full season, what we’ve seen from Posey to date is nothing more than a few bona fide hot streaks. Clearly he can be a special player, but, like Mauer, he’s emasculated by his ballpark (.697 career OPS at home, .915 elsewhere).
8. Alex Avila, Tigers Avila can hit, but whether he can hit .295-19-82-63 again is dubious. The AL’s third-highest batting average on balls in play (BAbip) at .366 suggests that many of the holes he found were providential.
9. Wilson Ramos, Nationals (B) Ramos pinged .227 in a May-through-August malaise, but he bracketed that with .358 in both April and September. One of our sleeper specials last year at 23, he’ll round out those edges and edge into 20-jack territory very soon.
10. Jesus Montero, Mariners Montero is this year’s Santana, but with all the breathless expectations and hold-your-breath uncertainties of being four years younger. His .996 OPS was the fifth-highest ever at his plate appearance level (69) by a 21-year-old in his first season. But will he follow in the footsteps of three of those ahead of him (Willie McCovey, Ted Williams, Albert Pujols) — or the fourth (Daric Barton)?
11. J.P. Arencibia, Blue Jays Arencibia is all about how you weigh 25 homers and 75 RBIs against 350 outs. Matt Nokes and Piazza are the only rookies ever to have hit more bombs, all as a catcher. Then again, only Adam Dunn and Vernon Wells had a lower 2011 AVG (.219) at his plate appearance level.
12. Yadier Molina, Cardinals (E) Molina obliged the fantasy “age-28 rule” with personal bests of .305-14-65-55, but his prospectus is more aligned to his full-season career norms of .274-8-54-38. A major attraction is that he’s kind of a robo-catcher who, unlike most at the position, is predictably decent.
13. Kurt Suzuki, Athletics Batted .276 in 2008-09, then .240 in 2010-11. Combined for 86 RBIs in ’08 and ’11, but 159 in ’09-10. See the pattern here? Neither do we. One thing you can count on is that he’ll play — an AL-high 528 games caught in that span.
14. Jonathan Lucroy, Brewers Ran out of gas last year (.188 AVG in his last 34 games), but slightly exceeded expectations. More apt to be serviceable than a star.
15. Geovany Soto, Cubs His seasons can be characterized as huge-poor-good-fair, in that order. Even when he’s got his “Arencibia” on, he has value since McCann and Napoli are the sole catchers to have hit more home runs since 2008.
Other Fantasy Baseball Content:
2012 Fantasy Baseball Rankings: The Big Board
2012 Fantasy Baseball: First Base Rankings
2012 Fantasy Baseball: Second Base Rankings
2012 Fantasy Baseball: Shortstop Rankings
2012 Fantasy Baseball: Third Base Rankings
2012 Fantasy Baseball: Outfield Rankings
2012 Fantasy Baseball: Catcher Rankings
2012 Fantasy Baseball: Starting Pitcher Rankings
2012 MLB Fantasy Closer Grid
2012 Fantasy Baseball Sleepers and Busts: Infield
2012 Fantasy Baseball Sleepers and Busts: Outfield
The rumor mill is working overtime as reports are coming out that Broncos QB Tim Tebow and singer Taylor Swift were spotted having dinner Monday night at an Italian restaurant. The possible pairing has already earned the nickname Swebow. Of course, we kind of like the sound of Taybow.
During Monday's bizarre Juan Pablo Montoya crash that left drivers waiting around for a couple of hours, two drivers kept racing…sort of. Dale Earnhardt Jr and Brad Keselowski both made a mad dash for the Port-o-Potty at the Daytona track. There was some drafting and a little bumping along the way before Earnhardt nudged out Keselowski.
Although Matt Kenseth took home the checkered flag at the Daytona 500 last night, most spectators will be talking about the bizarre crash involving driver Juan Pablo Montoya. The crash took place while under caution when Montoya crashed into a jet dryer filled with about 200 gallons of jet fuel. The collision sparked a massive fire that scorched the track and delayed the race for more than an hour.
UPDATE, MONDAY, 10:20 am: NASCAR President Mike Helton has just announced that the race has again been rescheduled. The green flag is set to drop at 7 pm ET.
The Daytona 500 was scheduled to run Sunday, but scattered Florida showers kept drivers off the track and the guys in the Fox commentary booth scrambling to fill several hours of live TV.
NASCAR has since rescheduled the start time for noon (Eastern) Monday. However, a look at the Daytona forecast makes the likelihood of a noon start time seem unlikely.
Although rain has disrupted the Great American Race in the past, this marks the first time in the 54-year history of the race that is has been postponed to another day.
For historical reference, here's a quick look at previous rain disruptions at the Daytona 500.
1963—First 10 laps run under yellow due to rain.
1965—Rain-shortened -- 133 laps (332.5 miles).
1966—Rain-shortened -- 198 laps (495 miles).
1979—First 16 laps run under yellow due to rain.
1992—Laps 84-89 run under yellow due to rain on backstretch.
1995—Red flag on lap 71 due to rain. Red flag lasted 1:44.
2003—Two red flags for rain. 1st: lap 63; 1:08. Rain-shortened -- 109 laps (272.5 miles).
2009—Rain-shortened -- 152 laps (380 miles).
We're not sure who the Michigan fan is at Google, but we noticed something rather interesting while looking up "Ohio Stadium" on Google Maps. If you search for the Buckeyes home stadium and scroll over it, a notation (albeit for "Columbus Crew Stadium") pops up that offers a not so flattering description.
As the 2012 NASCAR season revs up, we've put together a quick look at this year's Sprint Cup schedule. To get links to tracks, driver bios, and race times, be sure to check out our comprehensive NASCAR 2012 Schedule and our NASCAR Hub, which celebrates 10 years of NASCAR annuals at Athlon Sports.
2012 NASCAR SPRINT CUP SCHEDULE*non-points race
Gary Carter, the Hall of Fame catcher best know for his years with the New York Mets, died on Thursday at the age of 57.
Carter, who was nicknamed The Kid, was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor last May, two weeks after finishing his second season as coach at Palm Beach Atlantic University.
"I am deeply saddened to tell you all that my precious dad went to be with Jesus today at 4:10 p.m. This is the most difficult thing I have ever had to write in my entire life but I wanted you all to know," Carter's daughter, Kimmy Bloemers, wrote on the family website.
"He is in heaven and has reunited with his mom and dad. I believe with all my heart that dad had a STANDING OVATION as he walked through the gates of heaven to be with Jesus," Bloemers wrote.
Nobody said it was easy putting on a dog costume and entertaining thousands of fans. Just ask the Cavs mascot Moondog, who, while trying to work the crowd into a frenzy of drum-beating excitement, took a nasty fall. Of course, his pain is our entertainment. Kids, don't try this at home. Well, unless you have a dog costume.
The always-fabulous Kate Upton is gracing the cover of Sports Illustrated's 2012 Swimsuit Issue. And we love that. But what we love even more is that SI also has a video of Kate Upton during one of her photo shoots. So the question is, why are you still reading this?
Be sure to check out Kate's entire SI Swimsuit gallery.
With time ticking down, basketball sensation (and former bench warmer) Jeremy Lin made a clutch 3-pointer last night to help his team, the New York Knicks, top the Toronto Raptors 90-87. The game-winning shot continues the "Lin-sanity" that's been sweeping the NBA the last week as the 6-3, 200-pound point guard has been on fire, taking his team on a six-game winning streak.