Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Friday Links (1 Day Early!)

Bulls Predictions -
I typically am not a big prediction guy. There are too many moving parts, too many variables that you can't account for. There's a reason why people don't accurately predict what happens in sports. If they did, then they'd go to vegas and strike it rich. That being said, it's always fun to state what you expect and see how stupid you look in a year. So here are my top 10 predictions, read them and wager against them.

#10: Vinny Del Negro gets scapegoated for everything bad that happens and gets no credit for anything good that happens. I figured it's fair to play it safe on at least one prediction.

10 Bulls Questions -
Now that the Bulls are getting set to open training camp, here are 10 questions surrounding the team following a quiet offseason:

1. How will the Bulls manage without leading-scoring Ben Gordon, who signed with the Detroit Pistons?

2. Will the three-guard rotation of Derrick Rose, John Salmons and Kirk Hinrich improve the defense and make up for the loss of Gordon's offense?

3. Will Rose continue to progress and become the team's leader following the controversies of the spring and summer?

4. Is Luol Deng healthy after missing the final 2½ months of the regular season and the playoffs last season, and is he ready to live up to the big contract he signed in the summer of 2008?

Bulls re-sign Aaron Gray
The Chicago Bulls re-signed center Aaron Gray on Tuesday.

Gray, who is 7 feet tall and 270 pounds, was drafted by Chicago with the 49th selection in the 2007 NBA draft. During his two seasons with the Bulls, he has appeared in 117 games with 19 starts. Gray has averaged 3.9 ppg and 3.3 rpg in 11.4 mpg.

Does anyone care? Or know why?

D-Rose and D-Howard in China
Adidas found a way to appeal to two passions among urban Chinese youth -- the internet and basketball -- by bringing two National Basketball Association stars to China and establishing a digital initiative around the tour.

The German sportswear company organized a trip to Shanghai in late August for Dwight Howard, the NBA's defensive player of the year, and Derrick Rose, the rookie of the year, called the Adidas Double-Double Tour. Their visit was promoted through an aggressive online strategy in the world's largest internet market. The number of web surfers in China topped 338 million people earlier this year, more than the whole U.S. population. Adidas's primary target, urban youth in China's most-developed markets, is particularly addicted to the internet and mobile handsets.

"The tour was anchored by an unprecedented digital initiative that has never been done in China. From the minute [Messrs. Howard and Rose] touched down in Shanghai, they were communicating directly with fans," said Natalie Lam, exec creative director at OgilvyOne Worldwide, Shanghai and regional creative director, Asia/Pacific.

Bulls Preview -
The 2008-09 Chicago Bulls went 41-41 a year ago, and then had one of the best rounds of NBA playoffs many of us have ever witnessed. Not only was it probably the greatest playoff round of 2009, but I would challenge all you to show me a better round of NBA playoffs in the history of that league. This was a seven game series that featured seven overtimes, and even some spilled blood. It seems to suggest that the Bulls were a lot better than their .500 record.

The Bulls seem to think that this series should be the predecessor for great things in 2009-10. Rookie of the Year Derrick Rose played outstanding against the Celtics, and then second year man Joakim Noah also stepped up big time. If these two players can play like every night, then the new NBA season should be a great one for the Bulls.

Of course it took Ben Gordon about two hot seconds to bolt the team for the Detroit Pistons. While Gordon led this team in scoring the past four years, his play was wildly inconsistent. While they will miss his ability to score a lot of points in a short amount of time, this team just might be better without him.

There have been a lot of rumors that this team is looking to trade for Utah Forward Carlos Boozer. However with the talent already on the roster second year Head Coach Vinny Del Negro should be able to take this team back to the post season.

I already pre-ordered Bill Simmons' The Book Of Basketball, and here's a pretty funny review -
Bill Simmons: I have a bone to pick with you.

Earlier this month, I got my hands on a galley of your upcoming NBA magnum opus, The Book of Basketball, and found myself excited about pro hoops for the first time in years. A league that I had dismissed as dead jumped to life through your hilarious and insightful commentary. It was impossible not to get fired up after just the prologue, and I'm convinced that you've written the finest basketball book since David Halberstam's The Breaks of the Game.

So what's my beef?

Bulls camp opens -

f 2008-09 was a step forward for the Chicago Bulls, a coming-out party, a brief glimpse at the potential of a brighter future, 2009-10 is likely to be more of the same. Whether Bulls fans will be happy with that or not will have a lot to do with their expectations.

As the Bulls open camp today, what should we expect? With Ben Gordon gone, no real impact rookie to look forward to, and zero free agent signings of note, frankly, we can look forward to another year of mediocre, occasionally good, rarely great basketball. And there's nothing wrong with that.

Bears lack offensive balance
Don't look now, but the team that used to get off the bus running needs to bus in a running game.

It's just a two-game snapshot, of course, but the Bears are as one-dimensional as any offense in the league these days: a throw-first, throw-often bunch that can barely run in place.

And that is far from ideal. Running the ball may be one of the most boring and charmless elements to an offense, but it's also essential to generate the kind of balance that keeps opposition defenses out of sync.

''Well, we haven't had a lot of yards, but I think with being a running team and continuing to run the ball, and just by people knowing we're a running team, that's doing enough in itself right there,'' coach Lovie Smith said after Sunday's 17-14 victory over Pittsburgh in which the Bears produced just 43 total rushing yards on 18 carries.

Last season, the Bears put up big numbers on the ground in their first two games. This season, the Bears have relied much more on the passing game.


of the Bears' total yards have come on the ground in 2009. Through two games in 2008, the percentage was 51.8.


of the Bears' total plays have been rushing attempts. Last year that percentage through two games was 56.2.


The number of rushing yards on 38 attempts for Matt Forte through two games. Last season, he ran for 215 yards on 46 attempts in the first two games.

Concerns about rushing attack -
Scan through the Bears statistics and the name behind the longest rush is sure to come as a surprise.

No, it's not Matt Forte. It's not Devin Hester, either, especially because the Bears have yet to break out the Wildcat.

Adrian Peterson's 15-yard scamper against the Steelers stands as their longest run play.

Most observers expected Forte, who rushed for 1,238 yards as a rookie last season, to be the one picking up the huge chunks. Instead, the second-year running back remains stuck in neutral, ranked 36th in the league in rushing (84 yards) going into Sunday's game at Seattle. And his 2.2 yards per carry is worst among the first 45 rushers listed.

Offensive coordinator Ron Turner believes too much has been made of the running game's woes.

"It has been only two games," Turner said. "We didn't give [Matt] a whole lot of chances last week."

As he addressed the issue Wednesday, Forte sounded confident: "I think the running game will come along pretty soon."

Knox in the Spotlight -
The names ahead of him include Randy Moss, Santonio Holmes and Chad Ochocinco, but for Johnny Knox, there is no shame in being ranked 15th among NFL receiving leaders after two games.

In most people's eyes, Knox has no business on that list, period.

Not a rookie. Not a fifth-round pick. Not a player from a Division II school.

DC sent me this link ...
Longsnapper.com (worth clicking to watch the intro)

Jenks done for Season
Right-handed pitcher Bobby Jenks' career with the Chicago White Sox might be over.

The team's closer since July 2005 pulled his right calf muscle in pregame drills on Tuesday, likely ending his season. Jenks originally injured the calf in Seattle on the team's last road trip. However, with the help of the White Sox training staff, the pitcher was able to continue to compete until Tuesday's injury.

"I am most likely done for the year," Jenks said. "Today, during the stretch and warmups, I went a little overboard and did a little too much. I completely pulled it."


Be sure to check back tomorrow for more links, and next week for my "NBA Player Rankings by Position"

1 comment:

Kmart said...

Haha... I'm glad Patrick Mannelly considers himself an expert on the subject of long snapping. I was surprised to not see "When is it appropriate to audible to a direct snap on 4th and 11 in your own territory?" in the FAQ's.

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