Friday, February 22, 2013

Studs And Duds: The End of The Big East?

By Jeremy Conlin and Joe Parello

Studs and Duds is a weekly feature on Suite Sports. Who had a good week? Who had a bad week?


The Los Angeles Lakers

The Lakers dominated the Celtics Wednesday night behind a dominant performance from Dwight Howard (10/13 from the floor, 24 points, 12 rebounds). Howard's stretch to open the game, with eight points and four rebounds (three offensive) in the first six minutes, might have been the best Howard has played all season, and one of the only times when Howard has looked like, well, Dwight Howard. The Lakers still sit 3.5 games out of a playoff spot, but if Howard can put together a stretch of games like the one he had Wednesday, they could make up that gap quickly.


The Rock

You can call him Dwayne Johnson, but to me he will always be The Rock, and I will always smell what he's cookin.' Anyways, things couldn't be looking much better for Rocky right now, as he is still the WWE Champion, and will likely hold the belt until an epic rematch with John Cena at Wrestlemania. But his Hollywood career is also going far better than anyone could have predicted.

His new movie Snitch came out this week to positive reviews, by action movie standards (51% on Rotten Tomatoes, 82% from the audience). But, of course, we're still waiting on his blockbusters Fast and Furious 6 and GI Joe: Retaliation. Personally, I can't wait for him to team up with Marky Mark in Pain and Gain. If you can hold the WWE title, and push out big-time action movies, you're definitely a stud in my book…. IF YA SMELL-LA-LA-LA-LA, WHAT THE ROCK, IS… COOKIN.'


Indiana and Miami Basketball

I've already gone into full detail as to why Indiana, whom I loathe, is the best team in college basketball. What I haven't done, at least not enough, is praise the amazing job that Jim Larranaga is doing in Coral Gables.

Larranaga is best known for leading George Mason on its improbable Final Four run in 2006, but this year may be his best coaching job yet. He has taken a Miami program with only one NCAA tournament appearance in the last 10 seasons and given it a shot at a No. 1 seed and perfect ACC regular season.

How have the 'Canes done it? With tremendous defense and transition scoring. It also doesn't hurt that diminutive sophomore guard Shane Larkin is playing out of his mind right now.

Now, will they be able to score enough in the tournament, when things slow down, and they're forced to play in the half court? Who knows, but I wouldn't bet against this guy, and this group of kids come March.


The Big East will be cashing small checks compared to other conferences.

The Big East

The Big East just signed a new television deal with ESPN, the Worldwide Leader in Sports, worth a reported $20 million annually. ESPN matched NBC's offer, and the Big East ended up staying with the Bristol-based sports giant. On its face this seems fine, but here are three reasons why it sucks and spells the end of the conference as a whole.

1. In early 2011, the Big East turned down a deal from ESPN worth $1.4 BILLION over nine years (Over $155 million annually) thinking it would be able to poach schools and add value. Since then, the then-Pac 10 added two schools to become the Pac 12 and signed a massive media deal, the Big 12 added TCU before it played a down of Big East football, and western mid-major powers Boise State and San Diego State both decided they were better off not joining the Big East. So the $155.5 million a year deal turned into about an eighth of that.

2. To make matters even worse, the Pac 12's deal pays EACH SCHOOL $21 million annually, and the Big Ten's new deal with ESPN, CBS and its own network pay EACH SCHOOL over $23 million a year.

3. ESPN, by itself, pays the University of Texas $15 million annually to broadcast its games on the Longhorn Network, and that doesn't even count the money that UT rakes in from the Big 12. That TV money pushes Texas over $30 million annually just in broadcasting rights revenue.

So, for those of you keeping score at home, the ENTIRE Big East as a TV product is now worth less than any school in the Pac 12 or Big Ten (schools like Washington State, Oregon State, Purdue and Northwestern), and worth only two-thirds of Texas. The Big East has seen better days.


Vinny Del Negro

San Antonio ran train on the LA Clippers Thursday night, and for approximately the 942nd time over the last two seasons, Del Negro opted to stick with his traditional lineups instead of trying to throw a wrinkle or two (or seven) into his rotations. Eric Bledsoe, by any and all evidence, one of the best defensive guards in the league, played just eight minutes in the first three quarters. The company line is that the Clippers don't play Chris Paul and Bledsoe together because it doesn't offer them enough size in the backcourt. In this case, it is a hilariously disingenuous argument for two reasons. First, the Clippers currently start Chauncey Billups at shooting guard anyway, so clearly having a small backcourt isn't an issue for them. Second, the Spurs started Tony Parker and Gary Neal in the backcourt - it's not like either of those guys is going to all of sudden go to the block and abuse the Clippers "small" backcourt with a variety of low-post moves that rival Kevin McHale. Then, against San Antonio's bench (which features Red Mamba Matt Bonner at power forward), he opted to go with the horrific Lamar Odom-Ryan Hollins combo instead of going small with Matt Barnes and Grant Hill at each forward spot. Again, it's not like Matt Bonner is going to develop a dominant low-post game any time soon.

This matchup is begging for the Clippers to go small, but Del Negro just can't seem to put two and two together. Gregg Popovich is playing chess, and Del Negro isn't even playing checkers. He's playing War. He's flipping over cards hoping they win.


The 2013 NBA Trade Deadline

I really shouldn't be that surprised, considering I wrote earlier this week that teams that should obviously make deals usually don't. Still, the anticlimaticness (I just made that word up) of deadline day was palpable. Here is the total list of players that were traded Thursday:

Jordan Crawford, Leandro Barbosa, Jason Collins, Hamed Haddadi, Sebastian Telfair, J.J. Redick, Gustavo Ayon, Ish Smith, Doron Lamb, Beno Udrih, Tobias Harris, Eric Maynor, Georgios Printezis, Ronnie Brewer, Dexter Pittman, Ricky Sanchez, Charles Jenkins, Jeremy Tyler, Anthony Morrow, and Dahntay Jones.

A real murderer's row, there. When J.J. Redick is "the big get" on deadline day, we have a serious problem.

Granted, it's not like we expected much. The major rumor for most of the day involved a swap of Josh Smith and Monta Ellis, two guys with a combined zero All-Star appearances playing for small-market Eastern Conference teams going nowhere. And that was the "buzz" trade of the day.

In defense of the deadline, we've already had three major trades in the last 8 months. Dwight Howard was traded to the Lakers, James Harden to Houston, and Rudy Gay to Toronto. Those teams dealt their starts from a (relative) position of strength instead of waiting until the last minute before seeing offers dry up. We also got a pretty nice deal the night before the deadline - Houston sending out Patrick Patterson and Marcus Morris (along with other small parts) in exchange for Thomas Robinson, the No. 5 pick in last year's draft. He's unimpressed so far, but he should get more playing time in Houston, and he'll benefit from getting out of the circus in Sacramento.

If I were ranking "This Season's NBA Trades," all told we had a pretty good haul. But the trade deadline, specifically? Worst. Trade Deadline. Ever.