What the Deuce: Good Sports Weekend

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Good Sports Weekend

Big sports weekend, at least for me. I woke up Saturday and caught about a period and half of the Canada v. Switzerland men's hockey game. The USA hockey game followed that up and at 4p I got to watch Michigan play Michigan State in men's hoops, a rarity for me now that I live in Miami. Last night I had the choice between watching more Olympics or the NBA All Star coverage (which is usually hilarious because of the TNT crew).

This morning I woke up and watched the US play Sweden in hockey and now I'm watching Indiana at Illinois. Tonite I'll watch more Olympics before heading to bed!

Here are some of my thoughts on this sports orgy:

Olympic Hockey

Olympic hockey, in my opinion, is better than the NHL for a number of reasons. First, most of the teams in the Olympics have rosters loaded with stars from the NHL. Yesterday while watching Canada's surprising loss to Switzerland, Mike Emerick commented that when Pat Quinn was asked who he would put together on a line if he needed a goal late a game, Quinn stated, without hesitation, "Bertuzzi, Sakic and Inginla." Basically, these are fantasy rosters coming to life. It aslo fun to watch NHL teammates play against each other. Today's USA v. Sweden game had, I believe, 5 Red Wings in it. It just adds a little twist to the whole tournament.

The second reason Olympic hockey is more entertaining is because every game counts. If a country is stuck in a tough pool, it needs to win or have a great goal differential to get into the quarterfinals. The US fell to 1-2-1 but will get in, but this is only because the only two teams behind it have 1 and 0 poins respectively. This isn't to say something might change, leaving the US on the outside looking in - if Latvia wins big and the US loses to Russia, the US could be going home really early.

Finally, I like the open skating in the Olympics. The game is cleaner and relies more on skill than the brute force which became a hallmark of the NHL. I think the biggest contributing factor to the better play is the open space - the international rink is wider than the NHL rink.

Bottom line: If I can catch a game live, I will. Its great and the only other time I get even this remotely excited about hockey is for the college hockey tournament and the NHL playoffs.

Michigan v. Michigan State

I was lucky enough to get a chance to watch this game. The last game I saw before this one was against Purdue during which I turned off the TV at halftime so I could go get a hamburger at Houston's Steakhouse (which was a good decision).

Michigan was overmatched yesterday, plain and simple. Chris Hunter's knee injury was frustrating more than anything. When I saw him on the bench with the ice pack, I just thought, "Here we go again." I agree with most of the open thread comments at MGoBlog that the injuries have taken a toll on this team. Overcoming them is a tall order for this team, if not any team in the country. State played a good game, got on a roll, and were easily able to pull away.

Two things I'd like to comment on though: the Amadou Ba incident and Courtney Sims. Its really unfortunate what happened before the game, but I can't blame Ba for what he did. Too many fans think that they are a part of the action and can come onto the field of play without any reprecussions. I'm not surprised this happened at State but that isn't to say it couldn't have happened at Michigan or any other school in the country. Schools need to employ more security during the shootaround and warmups before the game to insure both safety to the players and fans. Truly an unfortunate incident but I wasn't surprised that it happened after the Pettway/Ager incident in Ann Arbor. I definitely wasn't surprised the guy was intoxicated.

Courtney Sims needs to go away. He did have 15 points on 6 shots and I'll give him all the credit for that. BUT he only had 1 rebound the entire game. At times he looked lost and although he got called for a couple of debatable calls, the last foul against Sims was deserved. He didn't have position and backed away after he saw the State player driving straight at him. Its one thing if he got called for a blocking foul after holding his ground but he backed away, making it an obvious call for the refs. Sims needs to get more aggressive but its never going to happen and its a disappointment.

Hopefully, Michigan can get a couple more wins to help their tournament resume, but don't hold your breath.

NBA All Star Game

Don't even care. It was a big thing for me when I was younger but now I don't really even care. I can't think of any All-Star Game that I care to watch. I would rather watch basketball with defense and team play...like the Pistons play normally.

I think the reason the NBA All Star Game still means something with most fans is obviously because they get to vote in the starters but also because All Star Weekend is a big party and the players genuinely look like they are having fun out there.

Unfortunately, the reason I have no interest in the game is because the fans vote. I know they "pay the bills" (which they don't, the corporate sponsor do) but the fans usually vote in underserving players. There is no way Yao should be starting for the West. The fans just pick the big name players and not the guys who deserve it. This formula led to the Pistons having no starters but four reserves when 1) they play for the best team in the league and 2) they all are having great seasons. There is no way AI deserves to start over Chauncey. There is no logical argument that can be made for this. This is why I don't watch the All-Star Game anymore.

Personally, I think the Pistons' players should have skipped the game on principle and taken some rest because they are going to need it come playoff time.

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