Sunday, April 25, 2010

What a weekend!

This was one of those great sports weekends you're always hearing about in the movies.

It started on Friday night when the Jazz completely blew up the Nuggets in game three of their first-round Playoff series. Paul Millsap was close to perfect (9-9 from the field at one point), and picked up 19 rebounds. I couldn't even get ten in my finest BYU intramural game!

Saturday was a tour of the forgotten sports at BYU. I went to the BYU vs. Utah baseball game in the afternoon, and then the MPSF tournament-opening volleyball match in the evening.

If you haven't been to a Cougar baseball game at Miller Park, I highly recommend it. A prettier setting for a baseball game you simply will not find. A snow-capped Y Mountain in the background, a freshly groomed field in the foreground and a soul-satisfying time all-around.

This particular game was classic. It was knotted pretty much the whole way when the Utes took a late lead. Utah was up 4-3 heading into the bottom of the ninth, then Bryce Ayoso knocked in the tying run and Alex Wolfe hit a walk-off two-run shot with Ayoso on base to seal the deal. It was awesome. The team celebrated with Wolfe at home plate, and the record crowd rejoiced.

The volleyball match was just as exciting. The Cougars pounded the UCLA Bruins three sets to one. They hammered the ball with precision, and the California pretty boys were overpowered.

The game was played in another one of BYU's all-time great sports venues: The Smith Fieldhouse. That place is just nasty. It's old, there are exposed nails around every corner, and I'm sure it's in violation of all kinds of fire codes. You could hear the rafters shaking with every cheer of the crowd.

I still say we should play one basketball game a year in that old mess of a gym.

And now it's Sunday night and the Jazz are about to beat the Nuggets again to take a commanding 3-1 series lead.

Game 4 was all about my blossoming love of Wesley Mathews. In fact, I feel like Game 4 was just a long submission from a video dating service. Mathews has turned into our best defender, a legitimate scoring threat and an all-around hustle player... and he was an UNDRAFTED FREE AGENT!

Get prepared for a fat raise when your current contract is up, boy. I've got a feeling you're going to be the new Paul Millsap.

Man, I feel good. This weekend couldn't have gone any better.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

BYU lands JuCo hoops star

Steven Rogers, a Junior College All-American basketball player from Mesa Community College, committed to BYU Hoops and coach Dave Rose today.

Rogers is a 6'8" wing who is reportedly one heck of a shooter. From all indications, he'll fit in well with the Cougars. He's got good length for a wing, so he'll probably create a lot of mismatches, he'll be good on the boards, and he'll be one more scoring threat in addition to Jimmer Fredette, Jackson Emery, Brandon Davies and the other Cougar superstars.

Rogers was a nice get for the Cougs. He chose BYU over Utah State in a recruiting battle that went right down to the wire. I'm happy for our newest Cougar, but at this moment I'm also in awe of Coach Dave Rose.

Rose has dazzled me with his recruiting acumen. When Rose wants somebody, he gets him. He's batting near a thousand when it comes to landing big-name recruits.

Welcome aboard, Steve! May your years at BYU be plenteous and bountiful.

A great decision

It seems I falsely wrote Harvey Unga off as a BYU Cougar in my last post. I apologize. Not only is he not entering the NFL Supplemental draft, but according to coach Bronco Mendenhall, he is "desperately" trying to return to BYU in time for his senior season.

When the news came out today I was overjoyed.

Seriously. I didn't get sappy or anything, but I couldn't help but feel good about a man who owned up to his mistakes and has committed to taking the necessary steps to make things right.

Hearing that Harvey has made returning to BYU his No. 1 goal made me smile. I hope he can set things right, and I hope BYU finds him fit to return to school and the team.

Way to go, Harvey. You're all aces in my book.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Harvey, Harvey, Harvey...

I remember being in the Marriott Center when Harvey Unga made the public announcement that he'd be returning to BYU for his senior year. It was the halftime of a BYU basketball game, and the crowd when completely crazy when Unga made his announcement.

And now?

Now Harvey is gone. He withdrew from school after an honor code violation, and will try to enter the NFL in July's supplemental draft.

The minute I read the news I had a sick feeling in my stomach. I felt, and still feel, monumentally sorry for Harvey Unga. I don't condemn him for making a mistake; I just feel awful that this particular mistake happened to have some pretty dramatic consequences.

Now Harvey walks away from a college degree to make a future for himself in the NFL without going through any workouts and without having the optimal skill set for his size and stature.

He's too big to be a running back.

And he's too inexperienced to play fullback.

Yeah, this mistake (in my humble opinion) hurt Harvey more than it hurt BYU. BYU loaded up at RB anticipating Harvey's early departure to the NFL. Right now we've got 3-5 guys that are highly touted and will ready to step up in the fall. We'll miss Harvey a whole lot, don't get me wrong, but we recruited heavily at RB thinking we wouldn't see Unga again anyway.

So now we move forward, and one of the most popular players in BYU history, and the school's all-time leading rusher, has black mark on his otherwise clean-as-a-whistle name. It sucks.

We love you Harvey. All the best.

Friday, April 16, 2010

The most devastating calf injury in the history of man

It's official: AK47 is injured again and will likely miss the entire Jazz/Nuggets playoff series.



I don't know about you guys, but I'm not so sure $18 million is worth a half-a-season's work anymore.

Kut Kirilenko Now!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Utah Jazz: Unwatchable

I'm writing this post in the middle of what should have been the celebratory, or at least competitive, fourth quarter of one of the most important games of the season.

It's not. The game, against the Phoenix Suns, has become an unwatchable mess. It was over in the middle of the fourth quarter, and today the Jazz no longer look like Playoff Contenders. Instead, they've sunk below "Bottom Dweller" to somewhere near the level of "comedy troupe"; their game has become a series of humorous follies and comical mishaps.

The thing is this should have been the game to assert themselves. If the Jazz would have won (assuming they lost... ha) they would have played the Trailblazers in the first round, with home court advantage, all while avoiding the Lakers until the Western Conference Finals.

Turns out the Jazz missed the memo: Home court advantage is pretty important in the playoffs.

I guess we're content with languishing in the fifth seed, playing Denver on the road and probably extending our offseason by an extra week or so.

What a joke.

I'm angry. At the whole team? Sure. But a large portion of my anger is directed toward two men: Andre Kirilenko and Carlos Boozer. Both of these lillywhites sat out tonight with a tummy ache (Boozer) and a calf bruise (Kirilenko).

Where's the fire? Where's the competitive edge? Where is Karl Malone when we need him? The Mailman certainly wouldn't have benched himself during a crucial game like this. Neither would Stockton.

I wish we had some ironmen back on the Jazz roster. I am so sick of these bloated contract players sitting out whenever they please, then cashing a huge check. The Jazz are playing with their biggest payroll in team history, but the quality of play hasn't improved in the slightest.

Cut Boozer, Cut Kirilenko, cut all these crappy wing players, and let's build a real team around Deron Williams.

Nothing makes me as mad as the Utah Jazz.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Three sights at Spring Practice

Man, Saturday was a great day. The weather was warm, the air was fresh and there were footballs flying through the air of LaVell Edwards Stadium.

That combination would make even those weird little emo kids that hang out at the mall smile.

I know I was certainly all smiles, but like I said in an earlier post the feeling was bitter-sweet. It was awesome to see the team play, but this open practice also signaled the end of Spring practice, and the beginning of a looooooooooong summer of waiting.

But let's not talk about that. Let's talk about three things a punk BYU fan (me) saw and liked at BYU's open Spring Practice.

1. Wide Receivers. Our WRs are the most impressive group of athletes at BYU, in my most humble opinion. I took one look at newcomers Cody Hoffman and Ross Apo and knew we had a pair of special players coming into the fold. Then you add in O'Neill Chambers (who looked to me bigger, stronger and faster) and McKay Jacobsen, and we could be stretching the field to new lengths next year. These guys are tall, lean like gazelles and they look like playmakers.

2. Q. Josh Quezada impressed me on Saturday. Every time he touched the ball he showed a combination of speed and power. He scored the only TD of the day on a nine-yard run, and he hit holes hard and burst through the line with gusto. He also showed good hands catching the ball out of the backfield. He could be the next in a line of what is becoming the best string of RBs at BYU in school history.

3. My take on the QBs. I've made it semi-public that I am in the Riley Nelson camp. I think Riley could be a really good QB at BYU-- he brings a different element to our offense, and already has a year's worth of experience. A year in the program is what Jake Heaps could use, in my opinion.

Having said that, Jake throws one beautiful ball. He made every throw look easy, and the ball simply jumped out of his hand. Nelson, on the other hand, really had to put his whole body into deeper throws.

I wish Jake would have had more live scrimmage experience on Saturday; it seemed like he only got one or two chances. It would have been nice to see him really get a chance to get in a rhythm.

But I think I'm still behind Nelson. I saw him play last year, and I'm really excited to see what he can do as the No. 1 guy. He deserves a shot, and Jake would benefit with a redshirt year.

Anyway, that's my take. Who else was there at Spring Practice? Make yourselves known, and please share your insights.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Masters



Huge fan of The Masters, and huge fan of Phil Mickelson. So I'm a happy camper tonight.

The first Major tournament of the year lived up to all the hype (it always does), and I was on the edge of my couch all afternoon. K.J. Choi looked like a machine heading into the back nine, and I honestly didn't know if Lefty was going to move into the lead after nothing but pars in the first seven holes.

But alas, Phil showed grit and a steady hand (very un-Phil-like, by the way), and he won his third green jacket.

I'll be honest, I love watching golf. I know it bores the faces off most people, but golf tournaments to me are more dramatic and more thrilling than most other sports. NASCAR, for example.

And plus, does it get any better than Augusta? Tell me those camera shots and that incredibly beautiful course didn't make you want to blow your savings and buy tickets to next year's tournament. I know I have officially added seeing the Masters live to my bucket list.

Anyway, congratulations Phil. I'm glad you won, I'm glad Tiger lost and I'm glad the Majors season started with another classic.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

VIDEO: BYU basketball recap

I'm still trying to find the words to officially bring the BYU basketball season to a close. Until I do, please enjoy this video (which, by the way, is much better than anything I could ever say).

Video Courtesy of KSL.com

Steven Rogers: Future Cougar

There's been a lot of talk recently about Stephen Rogers, the 6-8 wing from Mesa Community College by way of ASU.

Rogers has received a lot of recruiting attention and has narrowed his choices to BYU, New Mexico and Utah State. BYU was a late-comer to the Rogers sweepstakes, but has been "coming on strong" to Rogers' services.

Rogers was the Arizona JuCo player of the year, and averages about 21 points per game.

He's also a shooter. Big time shooter. Like, more of a shooter than JT was a shooter, shooter.

This is from BYU beat-writer Jay Drew's blog: "One of Rogers’ coaches told me that if you think Jonathan Tavernari liked to fire the ball up from all over the place, you should see this kid. '[Rogers] hasn't met a shot he didn't think he could make,' he said."

I like JT, and I like shooters, but I hope Rogers can play defense. I'd be a lot happier with a lock-down defender than a crazy shooter at this point.

And I have to wonder, will Cougar faithful have a collective heart attack with two more years of a JT-like chucker?

Monday, April 05, 2010

Springtime football: A dud

Man, it's a weird time of the year, isn't it? Spring football is pushing forward with the strength and force of the fighting 506th during the battle of Carentan. And yet we still have months of waiting in our foxholes before we see any meaningful sports action again.

(Sorry, I've been watching a lot of Band of Brothers lately.)

Point is, we're all getting really excited about... well, nothing really.

The reports I read from Camp Cougar are interesting, and I hang on every word, but I can't shake the feeling that I've still got a long summer of waiting ahead of me. It would be nice if I had a Spring Game to look forward to, but in what may be a chilling sign of things to come Bronco Mendenhall has canceled the game for the second-straight year.

My gut tells me the days of the BYU Spring Game are over.

The point is I'm not too crazy about Spring practice. It's just not doing it for me this year. Don't get me wrong I love the reports, but I just feel so separated from the whole deal. I feel like it's just a formality these days.

The QB race won't be decided till fall...

A lot of the best players won't play till fall...

No Spring Game...

There is one open practice, which I will most definitely attend, but other than that I'm hunkering down with with my K rations, ready for the long, cold off-season haul.

Any answers out there? How are you guys staying interested in these mundane Spring practices? I could use some fresh ideas.