published Thursday, May 26th, 2011

5 at 10: Prep dynasties, Baseball numbers and Lane Kiffin faces the music

From the "7-Up Stinks Studios" -- and remember about Friday's mailbag -- here we go...

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    Dallas Mavericks' Shawn Marion, left and Dirk Nowitzki react during the second half against the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game 5 of the NBA basketball Western Conference finals Wednesday, May 25, 2011, in Dallas. Dallas won 100-96 and advanced to the NBA Finals. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

Dirk leads Dallas into finals

Almost immediately after his team had quashed the young Thunder, Dirk Nowitzki recalibrated his goals. And his team's.

"We already have one of these trophies," Nowitzki told the AP of the reward for winning the Western Conference.

The Dallas Mavericks likely will play the Miami Heat, who have a "Big 3." Or Dallas could face the Chicago Bulls, who have league MVP Derrick Rose.

Well, Dallas has Dirk, and that's been enough to this point.

In fact, here's saying Dirk has had the best postseason run since Carlos Beltran turned a hot run with the Houston Astros into a nine-figure contract. Dirk has become one of the game's best closers (he's averaging right at 10 points in the fourth quarter in these playoffs) and has been automatic at the free-throw line (he hit 60 of 62 against the Thunder).

Dirk has catapulted from star to superstar in these playoffs, and gives the Mavs a chance against the Heat and makes the Mavs the favorite if the Bulls advance.

As for the Thunder, who have two young stars -- NBA scoring-leader Kevin Durant and point guard Russell Westbrook -- and a strong foundation, the future looks bright. But this offseason could be huge, Huge, HUGE for this franchise. The burn and the pain of coming close always motivates teams/players that become champions. And if the NBA labor issues force this young team to idle for months, this experience may not be as valuable as it could be.

If Durant and Westbrook lead this team into its next phase of growth, the Thunder will be an NBA contender for a decade. If not, in five years we'll be wondering where the-then-27-year- old Durant will take his talents after his "Decision."

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    Atlanta Braves' Brooks Conrad, second from right, leaps at home plate as he is congratulated by teammates after hitting a walk-off grand slam to beat the Cincinnati Reds 10-9 in a baseball game in Atlanta on Thursday, May 20, 2010. (AP Photo/The Atlanta Journal & Constitution, Curtis Compton)

Grand numbers of baseball

Those of us that grew up loving baseball have an insane love for the numbers and stats that connect the generations and the eras.

Here are some that have popped up in the last couple of days that the 5-at-10 thought were interesting:

-- Drew Brees revealed at the Best of Preps banquet that he grew up loving baseball and that he and his brother used to watch old baseball highlights. He patterned his swing after Ken Griffey Jr.'s, and his favorite all-time player was Ted Williams. In fact, Brees said the reason he wears No. 9 is because of Williams.

-- Brooks Conrad's two-run homer in the 11th lifted the Braves over the Pirates 4-2 Wednesday. It was Conrad's third game-winning homer in the ninth inning or later in a little more than a year. According to the Elias Sports Bureau (and those guys flat-out know their stuff), Conrad has as many game-winning homers in the ninth inning or later as J.D. Drew and Derek Jeter combined.

-- It also was Conrad's fourth go-ahead pinch-hit homer for the Braves. That's the most in the last 60 years for the franchise.

-- New York Yankees reliever Mariano Rivera appeared in his 1,000th game Wednesday. He is the first pitcher to appear in 1,000 games with one team, and he'll be the last player to ever wear the No. 42.

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    In this Jan. 13, 2010 photo, Lane Kiffin speaks as he is introduced as Southern California football coach in Los Angeles. Coaching changes at Notre Dame, Southern California and Tennessee have added intrigue to the end of the recruiting season as three of the nation's marquee programs have scrambled to hold on to their blue chippers. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes) Writer:

And the Trojans face the music

The NCAA reportedly denied USC's appeal and upheld the penalties it handed down last year.

USC and coach Lane Kiffin filed the appeal earlier this year to delay the penalties and to enable Kiffin and Co. to sign a full recruiting class in February.

Now it's time to pay the piper.

The penalties are stiff -- losing 30 scholarships over the next three years and no postseason this year, be it the Pac-12 title game or a bowl game. And it feels like there was an extra little kicker for the appeal and full signing calls (a move that feels like a classic Kiffin thumbing-his-nose-at-everyone move).

The NCAA continued the provision that gives USC upperclassmen the ability to transfer to any FBS schools without the typical one-year sit-out period. So any USC senior that wants to transfer can and play this fall.

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    LaQuisha Jackson poses in her ready stance recently at the Howard track. Staff Photo by Allison Carter/Chattanooga Times Free Press

Prep dynasties

There are a handful of area high school sports programs that are dominant. Year-in, year-out these teams are always contending for championships.

Baylor girls' golf, South Pittsburg football, Bradley Central and Baylor wrestling are among the first ones that come to mind -- and let's not forget Soddy-Daisy softball, which moved into the winners-bracket final with two wins Wednesday.

In fact, congrats all around to the area teams that survived bracket play Wednesday and to the Baylor girls' tennis team for winning the Division II state title.

Spring Fling action is awesome. Playing high school baseball in Georgia in the late 1980s, we had state playoffs in each sport but they were isolated. The idea of putting all the spring championships together in one week at one venue (well, in one wide neighborhood, any way) is outstanding.

The TSSAA got this one right. Big time. We'll add it to the "Blind squirrel -- finding nuts" file.

And gang, one of the true stars of our high school sports scene will take center stage at the fling today. LaQuisha Jackson, the Howard sprinter who won her second Female Athlete of the Year Award this week at the Best of Preps banquet, will be in action today. This girl can fly, and she's taking aim at state records in the 100 and the 200 and maybe the relays.

Want to know who holds the 100 and 200 state records? Yep, LaQuisha Jackson.

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    Philadelphia Phillies shortstop Wilson Valdez relief pitches in the 19th inning of a baseball game against the Cincinnati Reds, early Thursday, May 26, 2011, in Philadelphia. Philadelphia won 5-4, in 19 innings. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

This and that

-- Worth the price of a ticket: The Phillies needed 19 innings to beat the Reds early Thursday morning. The game lasted more than 6 hours and second baseman Wilson Valdez got the win. Valdez, who hit 90 on the radar gun, is the first non-pitcher to get a win since catcher Brett Mayne beat the Braves in 2000.

-- Kim Clijsters was upset today at the French Open. Not much else to add, just thought we'd pass it along. Hey, Oso, add this to the summer topic list: Today's pro tennis: Friend or foe?

Seriously, it's hard to remember the last time we sat down and watched more than a few points of a tennis match. Maybe Federer-Nadal at Wimbledon a few years ago?

-- West Virginia made some waves by hiring offensive guru Dana Holgorsen and putting him on the fast track to take over the WVU football program in 2012. Well, Holgorsen was apparently escorted by security from a casino recently. Details are thin right now, but this does not look like a good way to start his time in Morgantown. Who knows, maybe he was looking for a bank of pay phones or maybe he was upset that the casino was not beeper friendly?

-- Former Rhea County High School star Kevin Revis is leaving UT. He is the ninth player from the 2009 signing class -- yes, that was Kiffin's lone recruiting class at UT -- that is no longer in the program.

Until tomorrow.

about Jay Greeson...

Jay was named the Sports Editor of the Times Free Press in 2003 and started with the newspaper in May 2002 as the Deputy Sports Editor. He was born and raised in Smyrna, Ga., and graduated from Auburn University before starting his newspaper career in 1997 with the Newnan (Ga.) Times Herald. Stops in Clayton and Henry counties in Georgia and two years as the Sports Editor of the Marietta (Ga.) Daily Journal preceded Jay’s ...

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Livn4life said...

Happy for Dirk and the Mavs. They have played like Champs but have one more hill to climb be it Chicago or Miami. I wish them well. As for USC, what goes around, comes around. I could not help but wonder, as I saw their great class last Feb. what the incoming players were told. I really do not want to know. But it is possible some other teams will benefit if some of their senior players transfer out. Tennessee got a solid defensive lineman in Malik Jackson last year. I will be surprised if the Vols reap anymore from there but who really knows? How about that NCAA sticking with its guns? Now what will that mean for UT in June, Ohio State whenever and all future violators? WE JUST DON'T KNOW!

May 26, 2011 at 10:23 a.m.
Eustice_Chase said...

Let us not forget about Soddy Daisy Wrestling, which is always close to if not on top of the area Wrestling Mountain.... Steve Henry has a solid program there

The Phil Jackson era is over and the Mike Brown era begins??? really ?? Mike Brown... I just hope the first call Mike Brown made was to Kobe Bryant...that relationship will be key if Mike Brown and/or Kobe expect to win a/another championship in the Purple & Gold...

Way to go Dirk, Kidd, Terry, Marion, Stojakovic, and any other NBA veteran the Dallas Mavs have...what are the chances Jerry Jones hosts an NBA Finals Viewing Party at Cowboys Stadium on the 2nd largest TV screen....

Stats and Baseball go together like Unicorns and can find a stat for just about every single thing that has ever happened in a baseball game and the significance it did or did not have on the game....The Phillies vs Reds 19 inning Sportscenter Highlight was almost as long as a regular MLB game....

The only way to bag a classy to give her two tickets to the gun show...and see if she likes the goods....

May 26, 2011 at 10:38 a.m.
bigbearzzz said...

Go Mav's....Stats rock, but for some reason they mean more to me in baseball than they do in any other that wierd? Go NCAA...beat down the liar and stick it to the cheats (As long as it not the good). Spring Fling action..Jackson is fast..i mean like stupid fat man at an all you can eat buffet fast...Rediculous. I think you could take her, Cinco. Always great baseball when the shortstop comes out to close the game! Tennis...really?!?! Foe, not unless there's a Maria to watch some where in there. After that, i got nuttin....for now...TN losing players..thats not really anything new to discuss...hes a Kiffin-ite...let him go. Non Sports is the release day of Hangover II...anybody catching an afternoon matinee today? I'm stoked about several summer movies coming out this summer...sounds like another great roundtable discussion topic. Oh...and Laura got robbed...and no they're not dating...sorry...third cup this bad.

May 26, 2011 at 11:03 a.m.
patrickd said...

Thought it worth mentioning that exactly 100 days from now college football will kickoff.

May 26, 2011 at 11:04 a.m.
BIspy4 said...

Name an American tennis player other than the Williams sisters or Andy Roddick. Yep. Ain't easy, is it? Hard for U.S. tennis fans, except Weeds maybe, to get charged up when there is no American face on tennis. No Evert or Jaeger in women's tennis, no Connors or McEnroe or even Courier or Sampras on the men's side. I used to think Federer was going to be the best ever. But Nadal has shown he is much, much more than a clay court guy. He very well could eclipse the era of Regal Roger, even while Roger is still playing.

May 26, 2011 at 11:12 a.m.
Eustice_Chase said...

You are right about it being hard to name an American tennis player...but I have to say...Nadal is good but I dont know if his body will hold up...they guy plays fast, hard and very aggressive...He is very likely in the prime of his career right now...Federer..who is great has played with more finesse and doesnt rely on his youth (perhaps because as Tennis is concerned he is not young) to beat his opponents...But Im with OSo...Im not watching Tennis unless Maria Sharipova is playing and even then its hard to watch....

May 26, 2011 at 11:22 a.m.
BIspy4 said...

Hit "enter" before I meant to. Big week for Chattavegas: Lauren Alaina as an Idol finalist (sorry, I'm sure she's a sweet girl and very talented ... but Idol just isn't on my "to watch" list, so I didn't see the finale. Or anything leading up to it. But congratulations to her anyway and I hope she has a big ole career ahead of her), VW rolling out the Chattanooga Passat and how bout the South Pittsburg kids giving up their beach trip to help out tornado victims and someone stepping up to pick up their tab to go to Tybee Island anyway. Anyone else expecting Dirk to start crooning "Sur La Mer" or "Fly Me to the Moon" during his postgame pressers? No?

May 26, 2011 at 11:22 a.m.
jgreeson said...

Livin(Large) —

The 5-at-10 would have zero problem with Dirk winning the title. Dude has put in the time, plus it would definitely make the Dirk-for-Tractor Traylor trade on draft day 13 years ago one of the worst in sports history. We love the draft. (I love lamp... Do you love the lamp or are you just saying that? ... I love lamp. I LOVE lamp.) And great point about Kiffin and USC losing players — and you're right, Jackson is a good one. We will give credit to Kiffin for being great at building an us-against-the-world attitude that can unite a locker room. He did it at UT and he appears to have done it at USC. And that's a skill that can serve a coach well. (The NCAA topic is in Friday's mailbag, by the way.)

EC —

Steve Henry does an outstanding job. And in truth, the rest of the state should have a state wrestling tournament, and then send the top two finishing teams to Chattanooga for them to wrestle against the best eight or nine programs from here and we'll call that the state tournament. Deal?

Don't know what to make about the Mike Brown hire. They had to clear this with Kobe on the front end right? He had to be on board with this right? If that's a negative on either of those questions, there's going to be a train wreck in the Staples Center next year.

And here's what Jerry Jones is telling people in Dallas this morning "Um, I'm very important. I have many leather-bound books, and my apartment smells of rich mahogany."

Oso —

The 5-at-10 is stoked about Hangover II. STOKED. Laura had the 5-at-10's seal of approval, but this was Scotty's contest to lose. Don't know if there's ever going to be another American Idol winner that does not play well to the 12-16-year-old girl voting block.

And let's get this out there — there is no way in Huntsville the 5-at-10 is coming close to out-running LaQuisha. LaQuisha is next-level fast. Big time. Here's a quick story: She won the region meet last week by 20 yards and pulled up on the homestretch to save some gas in the tank. After pulling up at the end, her time was still faster than an all-state tailback that played football in our area this year.

And shortstops closing games is summer-league baseball at its best.

PDavi —

That's a great thought. Thank you. 100 and counting.

BIspy —

American tennis is bad — for the first time in the 38 years of the world rankings there is not an American in the men's or women's top 10. Bad we say.

"Oh-h, it's the deep burn! Oh, it's so deep! Oh, I can barely lift my right arm 'cause I did so many. I don't know if you heard me counting, I did over a thousand."

May 26, 2011 at 11:40 a.m.
bigbearzzz said...

yeah i watch tennis for the action just like i read playboy for the articles. Its painful to watch for me, like synchronized swimming. And thank you Patrick for that awesomely awesome reminder!!!! CANT WAIT!!! Love me some college football more than Cinco loves the draft i bet. And to clarify, i did not watch AI, i have a 16 year old daughter who filled me in after she watched it last night. Dirk has turned into a one man wrecking crew!60-62 against the THunder!?!? REALLY!?!?! What is the record for highest percentage of free throws hit in a series anyways?! (and im not talking about the kid who comes out and hits 2-2 for 100%)...and in closing...will ferrell minus the shirt...not an impressive gun show and its slightly nauseating to see...but i bust out laughing everytime. But i dont think anything matches the too short shirt he had on in the cowbell skit...except maybe the too short short shorts....

May 26, 2011 at 11:41 a.m.
Eustice_Chase said...

ill tell ya...I switched over to see who was gonna win AI...and win they said the winner was Alfred E Neuman... i had to turn it immediately....but i did tune in to see Steven Tyler sing "Dream On" about amazing!

and yes I say Deal...the Chattanooga/Hamilton/Bradely Area has the best wrestling in the state and there is zero debating it....and to move the State Tournament to Franklin was a trajedy!!! Moving on

Lane Kiffin...when can we stop talking about this guy? the wounds are still fresh....

Playboy has articles??? must have missed that....

May 26, 2011 at 12:05 p.m.
bigbearzzz said...

i hurts...just like when a certain somebody brings up a particular college bball player who will remain nameless at this wit ya EC. And yes Steven Killed it! as well as Beyonce and her 1+1 song..beyonce can sing to me anyday of the week and twice on Sunday if she wants....but..once again i didnt watch it...

May 26, 2011 at 12:12 p.m.
jgreeson said...

In regard to American Idol, is there a more powerful force in today's media world. Did you see their guest list: Beyonce, Lady Gag-gag, U2, Steven Tyler, Carrie Underwood, Tim McGraw. Sweet Ed Sullivan reruns, who else could line up that much star power?

Oso —

Ferrell's time at SNL was underrated because the rest of the cast (and the writing) at the time was brutal. "More Cowbell" was an all-timer. We're a sucker for Ferrell in general and Anchorman in general. (Although his short part in "Wedding Crashers" was awesome in its awesomeness — "Mom, MEATLOAF").

EC —

Alfred Nuemann. Well played. The 5-at-10 is trying hard to construct a Best of Preps high school wrestling tournament. We'll see where it goes — our basketball tournament has become a cool event, and we'd love to see if we could expand that. But that's just between you, Oso and the rest of us.

And how's this for a shocker — THE student newspaper at THE Ohio State University has reported that a former player sold stuff for cash. Some receiver from 2006-2010 said he sold Big Ten title rings. THE plot thickens for THE Ohio State University.

— 5-at-10

May 26, 2011 at 1:16 p.m.
Eustice_Chase said...

That Jay-Z is one lucky fellow...a best of preps Wrestling Tournament...nice..i like the way that sounds!! Anybody here know anything about the Friends of the NRA in Chattanooga?

We have a banquet coming up July 21st at The Choo are going fast...if your interested just let me know!!

MOM! The Meatloaf! We want it NOW!!!!

May 26, 2011 at 1:23 p.m.
Eustice_Chase said...

So I am hearing reports that the only reason the Lakers hired Mike Brown was to help Kobe beat Lebron...had Kobe had trouble beating Lebron in the past??? How many rings does Kobe have ?? Perhaps they prepare Kobe for Lebron next year in the NBA Finals...yeah that makes way more sense....Rule #32 Never Committ to a relative unless you are absolutely sure they have a pulse.....

May 26, 2011 at 2:09 p.m.
bigbearzzz said...

I cant believe with all that we have goin on in the world today, NBA Finals, NCAA Scandal, NFL Lockout, Spring Fling, American Idol; Nobody has taken the time to say not one word about the greatest event of all taking place yesterday....Oprah's Last Show! Also, i know im slightly behind the times on some movies, but i just recently was able to sit down and enjoy i believe Woody Harrison's finest performance in Zombieland....and i loved the Bill Murphy role in it as well....good movie....for a laugh.

May 26, 2011 at 2:18 p.m.
Eustice_Chase said...

Ive not seen Zombieland....Im sure it is great...but Woody Harellson's greatest performance (in my opinion) was with Kiefer "The Cowboy Way"

May 26, 2011 at 2:40 p.m.
jgreeson said...

Great flow today gang. Let's go full-scale movie quote answer time.

EC —

"Give me an up-to-date family tree, that was your mistake, you just made me look like an idiot... No excuses. Play like a champion!"

The only way Mike Brown can stop LeBron is if he, "cuts the hamstring on the back of his leg right at the bottom. He'll never play golf again, because his weight displacement goes back, all his weight is on his right foot, and he'll push everything off to the right. He'll never come through on anything. He'll quit the game."

Oso —

Never was much into afternoon TV, and never watched Oprah. Understand she's an icon — and credit to her for being smart enough on the front end to own her work. She's a billionaire.

"Eight minutes to Wapner."

As for Woody's finest work, that's tough. Let's go a 10-in-10 by the 5-at-10 in the comments (and Woody has a better resume than we originally thought):

10 Zombieland: Haven't seen it, but we trust Oso

9 People vs. Larry Flynt: Enjoyed this film (and Courtney Love) more than expected

8 Woody Boyd, Cheers: Lovable guy on a great (and underrated) show

7 Natural Born Killers: Freaky movie; start to see the real Woody

6 White Man Can Jump: Would have been much better w/o Rosie Perez

5 Cowboy Way: Better story than expected (a forerunner to immigration reform? — kidding)

4 Semi-Pro: Will Ferrell — enough said

3 Doc Hollywood: Got a soft spot for this one

2 No Country for Old Men: Smaller part in a great, Great, GREAT film

1 Kingpin: Randy Quaid, Bill Murray, Vanessa Angel, Woody — strong

— 5-at-10

May 26, 2011 at 3:28 p.m.
Eustice_Chase said...

Great List...Cheers was awesome! which Led to Frazier..Awesome...which Led to The Real Housewives of Beverly HIlls..awesome

May 26, 2011 at 3:56 p.m.
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