Monday, October 29, 2012

2012 NBA Predictions

NBA predictions:


1) Heat 67-15
2) Pacers 59-23
3) Celtics 57-25
4) 76ers 49-33
5) Knicks 46-36
6) Nets 43-39
7) Hawks 41-41
8) Bulls 39-43
9) Bucks 37-45
10 Cavaliers 36-46
11) Pistons 34-48
12) Wizards 32-50
13) Raptors 28-54
14) Magic 27-55
15) Bobcats 23-59


1) Lakers 65-17
2) Thunder 63-19
3) Clippers 56-26
4) Grizzlies 53-29
5) Nuggets 50-32
6) Spurs 50-32
7) Mavericks 46-36
8) Warriors 44-38
9) Jazz 43-39
10) Timberwolves 42-40
11) Blazers 40-42
12) Rockets 39-43
13) Hornets 35-47
14) Suns 32-50
15) Kings 31-51


1) Kevin Durant 31.4
2) LeBron James 28.3
3) Kevin Love 25.5
4) Carmelo Anthony 25.2
5) Russell Westbrook 24.8
6) Blake Griffin 22.9
7) LaMarcus Aldridge 22.4
8) James Harden 21.7
9) Kobe Bryant 20.9
10) Andrea Bargnani 20.4


1) Rajon Rondo 10.7
2) Ty Lawson 9.4
3) Chris Paul 9.2
4) Tony Parker 8.6
5) Steve Nash 8.3
6) Kyle Lowry 7.9
7) Deron Williams 7.5
8) LeBron James 7.2
9) Goran Dragic 7.0
10) Jeremy Lin 6.8


1) Kevin Love 13.2
2) DeMarcus Cousins 11.6
3) Dwight Howard 11.4
4) Andrew Bynum 10.6
5) Marcin Gortat 10.3
6) Blake Griffin 10.1
7) Tyson Chandler 9.8
8) Josh Smith 9.6
9) Greg Monroe 9.3
10) Al Jefferson 9.3

MVP: LeBron James 28.3 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 6.6 apg.

Rookie of the Year: Anthony Davis 18.1 ppg, 9.4 rpg, 1.8 bpg

6th Man of the Year: Manu Ginobili 16.6 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 4.1 apg

Most Improved Player: Jeff Teague 14.3 ppg, 7.3 apg, 3.2 rpg


(1) Heat over (8) Bulls in 5
(2) Pacers over (7) Hawks in 6
(3) Celtics over (6) Nets in 6
(5) Knicks over (4) 76ers in 7

(1) Lakers over (8) Warriors in 5
(2) Thunder over (7) Mavericks in 5
(3) Clippers over (6) Spurs in 7
(4) Grizzlies over (5) Nuggets in 6

(1) Heat over (5) Knicks in 4
(3) Celtics over (2) Pacers in 6

(1) Lakers over (4) Grizzlies in 5
(2) Thunder over (3) Clippers in 6

(1) Heat over (3) Celtics in 6

(1) Lakers over (2) Thunder in 7

(1) Heat over (1) Lakers in 6

NBA Finals MVP: LeBron James 28.6 ppg, 8.0 rpg, 6.8 apg

10 Obscure predictions:

1) Marcin Gortat will deserve to be an All-Star but won't make the All-Star team.

2) Ty Lawson will emerge as a borderline Top 5 point guard.

3) Antawn Jamison will average more points per game than Pau Gasol, Steve Nash and Metta World Peace.

4) Nick Young will pass the ball a total of 59 times on the season.

5) Al Jefferson will shoot lower than 43 percent from the floor.

6) Kevin Love will finish third in the MVP voting behind James and Durant.

7) Kobe Bryant will complain at some point during the year about not getting enough touches even though having Nash and Howard is the best thing that could possibly happen to him at this point in his career.

8) DeMarcus Cousins will lead the league with 16 technicals.

9) Speaking of technicals, Rasheed Wallace will score fewer than 150 points on the season.

10) Ryan Anderson will lead the NBA in three point field goals with 172.

Thursday, October 18, 2012


After run to Final Four, talented Louisville team tabbed as Big East favorite

Published October 18, 2012 at 1:19 am
NEW YORK – Decked in a sleek black suit with a piece of paper in hand, Louisville guard Peyton Siva walked up to the podium on the ninth floor of the New York Athletic Club.
Siva unfolded the piece of paper, looked up at the audience and grinned.
“I wrote a very long speech today, as you can see,” Siva said, revealing a completely blank piece of paper and drawing a laugh from those in attendance.
Siva, the Big East preseason Player of the Year, thanked the coaches for the recognition, but didn’t want to take all the credit.
“I’m very humbled by this award,” Siva said. “But I know that there are three other players on my team who could easily be standing in my spot right now.”
The Cardinals are ranked first in the Big East preseason coaches’ poll. After catching fire in March last season en route to a conference championship and a trip to the Final Four, expectations are high for U of L.
That top ranking is an honor for Siva, but he said his team will have to work hard to match those expectations and build off last year’s run.
“It’s a blessing and a curse for us,” Siva said. “You have that bull’s-eye on your back. We’re just going to have to keep that work ethic we had toward the end of last year.”
Louisville head coach Rick Pitino said Siva has improved considerably from his junior to senior year and is a top-five point guard in the nation. He expects Siva to lead the team and be the go-to guy for the Cardinals.
“He’s improved more from his junior to senior year than any other time in his career,” Pitino said. “Usually you see the biggest improvement from freshman to sophomore year.”
Siva can’t do it alone, though, and he’ll look to center Gorgui Dieng to be dominant for the Cardinals.
Dieng was named to the Preseason All-Big East First Team after averaging 9.1 points and 9.1 rebounds for the Cardinals last season.
Siva said Dieng has bulked up during the offseason and is stronger than he was last year.
Reaching to his left and squeezing Dieng’s muscles, Siva jokingly said the Senegal native is “kind of skinny still,” yet he believes Dieng’s length and strength will be key for Louisville this season. After totaling 128 blocks a season ago, Siva believes Dieng has a chance to lead the country in blocks this season.
While many other Big East coaches voted for Siva as Preseason Player of the Year, Cincinnati head coach Mick Cronin had a different player in mind.
“You have two guys who received votes for player of the year,” Cronin said. “I voted for Gorgui Dieng. That tells you how good those guys are.”
Siva remembers last season when the Cardinals lost four out of six games. Everything unraveled for a few weeks and the players were down. Then, Louisville embarked on an eight-game winning streak, including a 50-44 Big East championship win over Cincinnati.
That run helped propel the Cardinals to the No. 2 ranking this year, but Dieng isn’t focused on that ranking.
“Rankings don’t mean anything to me,” Dieng said. “Rankings are for the fans. We want to win every game. This year we want to win it all.”
Head coach Rick Pitino said Louisville’s schedule is much more difficult than it was last year. He said his team will be tested to maintain that lofty ranking as one of the country’s elite teams.
Northern Iowa and Stanford or Missouri will present early challenges in the Battle 4 Atlantis. Pitino’s squad then travels on the road to College of Charleston and Memphis before facing off against Kentucky Dec. 29.
That’s all before entering Big East play.
If Louisville is able to make a run deep in March, one reason will be the depth of this year’s team. Pitino called this year’s team the deepest and most athletic team he’s ever had at U of L and said a variety of players can step up in crunch time.
“If they stay humble they’re going to have a great season,” Pitino said. “If they believe what they read, they’re going to fall into the trap. I know these two guys will stay humble. If we can get every single guy on this team to stay humble, we’re going to have a heck of a year.”


Hillsman allows Coffey to make mistakes, continue to grow to become consistent scorer for Syracuse

Published October 17, 2012 at 12:15 am
Head coach Quentin Hillsman sensed frustration mounting in point guard Rachel Coffey midway through last season.
Bombarded with constant instructions from the coaching staff, Coffey veered away from playing her game and looked lost on the court. Turnovers and missed shots piled up as Coffey was out of her element.
Then Hillsman had an idea.
He decided to completely back off Coffey and let her play her game.
The fix worked to perfection, as the point guard emerged as Syracuse’s star player over the final five games and carried the Orange to a berth in the semifinals of the Women’s National Invitation Tournament.
“He used to take me out every time I made a mistake,” Coffey said. “Then he just let me play. I looked at it as this was my chance to play so I need to take advantage of it.”
That’s exactly what she did. In the WNIT quarterfinal against Toledo, Coffey exploded for 23 points, including six three pointers, and six assists.
Down by three with less than 10 seconds to go, Coffey knew she had to make a play. She burst left, crossed over to her right hand and pulled up for a fadeaway 30-footer.
The year before, Coffey attempted a remarkably similar shot. Down by three against the same team in the same round of the WNIT, she unleashed a three in the waning seconds. That time, the shot clanked off the rim, as the Orange came up just short.
When given a second chance, though, with redemption on her mind, Coffey drained the three-pointer, tying the game at 64. The Orange went on to win in thrilling fashion, 74-73, before falling to James Madison in the semifinals.
The opportunity to play her game without constantly worrying about making a mistake paved the way for a dominant WNIT performance for Coffey, who averaged 11.8 points per game in SU’s WNIT run compared to 4.7 during the regular season.
“Once I let her play her game and backed off so much instruction, she started playing better,” Hillsman said. “That was an easy fix. Step off, let her play and leave her alone.”
After only scoring in double digits once through mid-January, Coffey finished in double figures seven times down the stretch and became Syracuse’s most reliable scoring option.
“It was really humbling to know that I’m finally doing something here and contributing,” Coffey said. “It just really felt good that I was able to make that shot after what happened last season.”
After her breakout performance late last season, Coffey has now solidified her spot as SU’s starting point guard going into her junior year. Hillsman said it is Coffey’s job unless someone takes it from her.
Senior guard Carmen Tyson-Thomas said Coffey stepped into a leadership role during the WNIT last season and carried Syracuse toward the end of the season.
“We had to find leadership from somewhere and you can’t just get it through your seniors,” Tyson-Thomas said. “You have to have a floor general. Seeing her come into that role has been amazing. It’s something that happened right before all of our eyes, and she stepped up and she’s been big for us.”
On a roster full of seniors, Tyson-Thomas said Coffey is now the unquestioned leader on the court. Tyson-Thomas said the fact that Hillsman was a point guard himself makes Coffey’s job especially demanding because he expects a lot out of his star point guard.
Despite these high expectations, Hillsman plans to continue to use a hands-off approach when coaching Coffey. Her instant offense and command of the floor were present in stretches last season, but this year Hillsman hopes to see that productivity every game from his starting point guard.
“She really has matured into that role,” Hillsman said. “I think that as we’re going forward, her maturity and role are going to be the difference in a few games.
“I’m just really happy that she got going at the end of the year, and hopefully that helps her confidence going into this season.”

Jordan Murrell has been a key component of a Syracuse defense that has allowed just nine goals this season. The sophomore defender has also contributed on the offensive end with two goals and five assists, three of which have come to corner kicks.
Sam Maller | Asst. Photo Editor
Jordan Murrell has been a key component of a Syracuse defense that has allowed just nine goals this season. The sophomore defender has also contributed on the offensive end with two goals and five assists, three of which have come to corner kicks.

Murrell continues journey to become strong defender for SU

Published October 17, 2012 at 2:54 am
A few hours before every home game, Jordan Murrell zones everything else out and focuses on a different kind of game before he steps onto the soccer field.
After a 10-minute run and dribbling warm up, Murrell sits in his apartment and zeroes in on the TV screen. Eyes locked in, fingers in place, he goes to work as music by Trey Songz, Usher or Chris Brown plays in the background.
It’s Call of Duty time.
“People ask me why I do that,” Murrell said. “It just calms me mentally. I’m not too bad. I try to keep up with the rest of the world that plays all the time.”
So far this season that pregame preparation has worked for the sophomore Murrell, who has excelled as a defender for Syracuse. Murrell has anchored an Orange defense that has held opponents to nine goals on the season. He has also chipped in with some timely offense, contributing two goals and five assists.
Shining on a soccer field is nothing new for Murrell, who was born and raised in England. Judith Murrell, Jordan’s mother, said her son was wearing shin pads at 18 months old and became infatuated with the game when he watched his older brother, Joel, play.
One day, Joel was taking a team photograph and Jordan got a little jealous. He saw an opening and quickly darted into the picture, going as fast as his 18-month legs would motor.
“We knew then that he was focused and driven about playing soccer,” Judith Murrell said.
Murrell continued to hone his game on the streets of England. He said players ranged from 3 to 25 years old, so he got accustomed to playing against stronger, faster opponents at a young age.
He used to come home from school, grab his soccer ball and head out to the streets for hours.
“When I could walk I got a ball put in my feet,” Murrell said. “I used to play outside in front of my house from when I got home from school until the lights went off and I had to go inside.”
At the age of 12, Murrell left his life in England to move to Ontario, Canada. His stepfather, who was originally from Canada, decided the move would be the best way for Murrell and his two younger sisters to get a superior education.
When he arrived in Canada, Murrell continued to improve on the field and elevated his game to the next level. He joined the Unionville Milliken Soccer Club, where he played under Filipe Bento.
Bento recalls one game where he drew up a play in a frenzy to try to tie the score in the waning minutes. He called Murrell over and gave him quick, last-second instructions on how to take the free kick.
Worried that he didn’t provide Murrell with enough details, Bento was blown away when he executed the kick to perfection. Murrell sent a perfectly placed pass toward the goal and a teammate found the back of the net for the decisive goal.
“He was always very intelligent,” Bento said. “We could see that he had promise and a future in soccer. He had something different that the other kids didn’t have.”
That intelligence and talent has translated to two successful seasons at Syracuse, and he has his eyes on a Big East championship and an NCAA tournament berth this year.
Against formidable conference foes Rutgers and Louisville, Murrell ignited the Orange with three assists — all of them coming off corner kicks.
Against Rutgers, Murrell lined up for a corner two minutes into overtime. He zeroed in on teammate Lars Muller and lofted the ball toward the goal.
Murrell hit Muller in stride and the forward’s header beat the keeper, giving Syracuse a win in its first overtime game of the season. Earlier in the game, Murrell set up Jordan Vale beautifully on a corner and Vale timed it perfectly for a score.
Head coach Ian McIntyre moved Murrell to left back because of his on-ball defense and ability to move forward and attack after making a stop. That strategy has worked flawlessly as Murrell has stopped defenders with poise and confidence.
Though Murrell played well for Syracuse last season, McIntyre has seen considerable improvement from the sophomore, who has grown into a vocal leader on a team that has done a 180.
“I think he’s more consistent and mentally tougher,” McIntyre said. “He has more resilience to his game. We’ve moved him to left back because of his quality on the ball. As he showed the other night, he’s got a very sweet left foot.”

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Rysheed Jordan, a Philadelphia native and a senior guard at Vaux Roberts High School, will attend Orange Madness at Syracuse on Friday night. Jordan would be next in the long line of Syracuse basketball players from Philadelphia.
Courtesy of The Philadelphia Inquirer
Rysheed Jordan, a Philadelphia native and a senior guard at Vaux Roberts High School, will attend Orange Madness at Syracuse on Friday night. Jordan would be next in the long line of Syracuse basketball players from Philadelphia.

Recruit Jordan to attend Orange Madness at Syracuse on Friday as part of official visit

Published October 10, 2012 at 2:54 am

Over the past five years, Syracuse has been a mecca for talented basketball players from Philadelphia.
Head coach Jim Boeheim and assistant coach Mike Hopkins have lured a star-studded group to come play for the Orange, including Dion Waiters, Scoop Jardine and Rick Jackson.
Philadelphia native Rysheed Jordan may be the next player to join that list. Jordan, a senior guard at Vaux Roberts High School, will attend Orange Madness at Syracuse on Friday night as part of his official visit to campus. Syracuse is one of seven schools on Jordan’s radar. He said Friday’s visit will help determine whether SU is the right school for him.
Jordan’s list was originally at 11 schools, but he recently cut it down to seven: Alabama, Rutgers, St. Johns, Syracuse, Temple, UCLA and Xavier. He said attending Syracuse is definitely a possibility, largely because of the players from Philadelphia who have come before him.
“Out of all the Philly players that went to Syracuse, a lot have gone on to play at the next level,” Jordan said. “I think Syracuse is like Philly. When I’ve talked to Philly players they’ve told me how great it is.”
Watching Dion Waiters make the jump from a dependable role player to one of the most electrifying players in college basketball and the eventual No. 4 pick in the NBA draft was particularly appealing for Jordan.
Syracuse’s style of play and the way the Orange gets up and down the floor are also selling points for Jordan. Playing in a 2-3 zone is not an issue for Jordan, who said he has great respect for Boeheim’s and Hopkins’ methods.
Jordan, now the No. 16 point guard and No. 64 overall recruit in the country, according to ESPN, wasn’t always a star. He didn’t play AAU basketball until the ninth grade, which is much later than most players of his caliber.
That’s when Philly Pride director Kamal Yard finally brought him aboard. Yard had watched Jordan play for more than four years on the playground and in recreational leagues, but couldn’t get him to join the Pride.
In the ninth grade, that all changed.
Yard made his case for why Jordan should play for the Pride yet again. This time, the message clicked with Jordan. Now that he was in high school and getting serious about basketball, he knew playing for the Pride would help take his game to the next level.
“He’s the classic late bloomer at AAU,” Yard said. “He’s relatively new to the whole AAU thing, which actually is really good, because he’s not spoiled by the process.”
Jordan’s first dominant game as a member of the Pride came during his sophomore season. The Pride traveled to Pittsburgh to play in a tournament. Yard wanted his team to get as much out of the experience as it possibly could, so he asked the tournament director to play Team Takeover, the No. 1 AAU team in the entire country.
Yard pushed his team to “shoot for the big fish,” and he knew Jordan would do everything in his power to help his team win the game.
Jordan was up for the challenge, dropping 30 points and keeping his outmatched team within striking distance for the majority of the game before Team Takeover pulled away.
“Rysheed was unbelievable,” Yard said. “He was slashing and finishing over the top of those guys and making his teammates better. He was highly spirited and highly competitive. Defensively he was a thorn in the a**.”
Yard said the game against Team Takeover helped elevate Jordan’s game immensely and put him in the national spotlight.
“It was really like his coming-out party,” he said. “Everything mushroomed from there.”
Two years later, Jordan’s game has continued to develop. recruiting analyst Evan Daniels said Jordan excels at getting into the paint and finishing around the rim. He uses his size and strength to maneuver around defenders and convert at the basket.
Both Daniels and ESPN recruiting analyst Dave Telep believe Jordan will be used as a combo guard in college and can help a team right away.
Telep said Jordan has a lot of potential, but still has to improve certain elements of his game, such as his jump shot and passing ability.
“He has innate physical ability to get into the paint,” Telep said. “I think the next step is adding some pace into his game, slowing down and being a game manager.”