published Tuesday, May 7th, 2013

5-at-10: Fantastic NBA action and the Braves baseline

From the "Talks too much" studios, you're Abe Froman, the sausage king of Chicago?

Fantastic NBA action

There are a couple of sports-related commercial phrases from our childhood that have rooted in our trivia-tastic brain.

One of them is the old, "Alcoa can't wait" commercial that was hooked to a great NFL comeback from the previous week and played during the two-minute warning break of Sunday NFL games. The graphics were completely 1970s-spectacular, too. The other is the old-school, "The NBA.... it's FAN-tastic."

Not sure if Alcoa has developed more patience or not, but last night the NBA was FAN-flippin-tastic.

The rusty Heat were bullied by the Chicago Bulls in a dichotomy game filled with big shots — none of which down the stretch were made by MVP LeBron James.

Here are the swing factors that make you go "Hmmmmmm" of the Bulls' Game 1 win over Miami:

• The biggest guy on the floor was 5-foot-5 Nate Robinson.

• The toughest guy on the floor is the son of French tennis player with puffy hair and puffy shirts in Joakim Noah.

• The best three guards on the Bulls roster — Derrick Rose, Loul Dang and Kirk Henrich — played as many minutes as you did, and the Bulls still lead 1-0.

• On the road and counting heavily on Jimmy Butler — who has logged more minutes than Jimmy Chitwood in the last three games — the Bulls scored the last 10 points of the game for the 93-86 win. Butler has played all 48 minutes in each of the last three Bulls' playoff games.

CUH-razy stuff. It was FAN-tastic. (Granted, we believe that it had the feel of Game 1 of the 2001 NBA Finals when the 76ers won at L.A., then the Lakers won the next four, but it still gives hope for a knockdown series.)

And the even more FAN-tastic game was the nightcap of the NBA playoff doubleheader on TNT.

Sadly, we did not stay up for the end when Manu Ginobli hit a 3 from the wing with 1.2 seconds left in the second overtime for a 129-127 San Antonio Spurs win over Golden State. But we were there through a good portion of this one, and there were two primary takeaways, one that is confirming a major shocker and the other proving a consistent point in sports.

  • photo
    Davidson's Stephen Curry, 30, drives around App State's Marcus Wright, 24, during their game at the McKenzie Arena in this 2009 file photo.
    Photo by Dan Henry /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

First, the shocker. We are stunned, Stunned, STUNNED how great Steph Curry is as an NBA player. He's one of the game's 10 best players. He went for 44 points in a variety of ways last night and is having the same success in the NBA he had in the SoCon. When he came out of Davidson, we believed he would be a fine pro, a 12-15-point-a-game guy that would have a 12-year career and get hot once every other week and hit double-digit 3s. Instead, he's a smoother shooting George Gervin, who definitely has a scoring title in his future.

Second, the Spurs are a championship franchise with a matching championship fortitude. Those characteristics show themselves at different times, but they were undeniable in the final minutes of regulation when the Spurs battled back with an 18-2 run to close the fourth quarter and force overtime.


Braves baseline

Clicking between the NBA and the Braves' 7-4 win over the Cincinnati Reds last night was good TV time. Well-played indeed.

The Braves had 11 hits and four walks and struck out 15 times, including a mid-game stretch of seven consecutive whiffs that made us wonder if Fredi G was going to bring the batting tee out for a couple the kids like Lil' Danny and B.J. (To be fair, Dan Struggla lifted his average to .196 with two hits last night. To be fair, part II, even with Uggla's two hits, B.J. Upton and Uggla combined to go 2-for-8 with six Ks. As Cameron Fry said, "A-swing batter.")

But enough about the bad, this game featured some really good news for Johnny Braves Fans everywhere.

  • photo
    Atlanta Brvaes' Brian McCann celebrates with his teammates after hitting a solo home run in the fourth inning a baseball game against the Detroit Tigers Friday, June 25, 2010 in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Brian McCann returned behind the plate, and his presence makes this arguably the deepest Braves roster in a longtime and maybe ever. With Evan Gattis, who played left field last night, Jordan Schafer, Reed Johnson, et al., this could be the best bench in baseball. And that's a chief reason this team is 19-12 despite DL stints for McCann, Freddie Freeman and Jason Heyward.

Paul Maholm is a solid, serviceable and stand-up lefty who eats innings and makes quality pitches. Does he have dominating stuff? Nope, but he keeps you in games and throws strikes. We approve of both of those things.

Finally, is there a young shortstop in baseball you would rather have than Andrelton Simmons? Simmons, who hit two homers and made a play so slick in the field, you had to watch it in slow-motion to appreciate it, is 23 and has the potential to be a multiple-time Gold Glove winner. With the two-homer, three-hit night Monday, Simmons is 6-for-his-last-13 with six RBIs. He's still learning at the plate but his instincts are top shelf, highlighted by his improvised, between-the-legs tag on a pick-off play last night. Watch it here.


Hey coach, welcome to town

Butch Jones and Mark Richt are in town today. If the mood suited you, you could have lunch listening to Butch and dinner listening to Richt. As Ferris suggested, "It is so choice. If you have the means I highly recommend" it.

We're hoping to swing by Orange Grove today and say hi to Butch, but we'll see. (Coach Richt is in conflict the 5-year-old Bulls tonight, but a rain out seems likely. Side question: When did the weather climate of the 423 become equal to Seattle? And if that's the case, we need some better coffee at the TFP.)

These trips highlight the modern job description of college football coaches. Between recruiting and PR tours and meeting boosters — and then all the work that goes into coaching — it's a 330-day-a-year gig now. It's also one of the reasons that there are going to be fewer and fewer guys that last 15-to-20 years places like Tennessee and Georgia.

The demands — of time and success and everything else — are too great. And so is the money. In 10 years, a successful coach at an SEC power program will make anywhere from $30-50 million. (That kind of coin can make it a lot easier to do a little glad handing, you know?)


This and that

— Five-star linebacker Matthew Thomas signed with Florida State in February. This week, he has asked for a release from his scholarship and is reportedly looking at going to Georgia or USC.

  • photo
    UTC athletic director David Blackburn speaks during the Chattanooga Quarterback Club luncheon Monday at Finley Stadium. This was Blackburn's first public appearance since being introduced as vice chancellor and AD nearly two weeks ago.
    Photo by Dan Henry /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

— We learned Monday that former Miami quarterback Vinny Testaverde will be part of the 2013 college football Hall of Fame. The other 11 members of the class will be announced today. Testaverde was 23-3 as a starter for the 'Canes, who were some serious bad mamma-jammers back then.

— Speaking of the Hall of Fame, five fellows were inducted into the Golf Hall of Fame on Monday, including Colin Montgomery and Fred Couples. Couples, who won 15 times on tour and claimed the 1992 Masters by the thinnest of margins, got only 51 percent in the voting — the lowest total of any Hall of Fame member. Couples battled back problems through a lot of the latter stages of his PGA career. What say you, is Freddie Couples overrated or is he more like Sandy Koufax, a pure natural who would have had better numbers if not for the injuries?

— UTC AD David Blackburn met with the Quarterback Club on Monday. By all accounts, he did swimmingly, as was detailed in today's TFP. Also of note, Blackburn expects to start naming basketball coaches in the next 7-10 days.


Today's question

As always feel free to riff on any of the above questions:

Who would it take for for the Braves to deal Andrelton Simmons? Is Freddie Couples overrated or does he deserve to be in the Hall of Fame?

You guys led an excellent discussion of successful parent-child sports success on Monday.

Let's continue it here: What's your Rushmore of best parent-child sports success? What's your worst?

Here's a starting point for best — Bobby and Barry Bonds; the Hulls, the Earnhardts, and ????

The starting point for the apple falling miles from the tree is Pete Rose and Pete Rose Jr. And in a rare double play, Dale Earnhardt Sr. and Kerry Earnhardt could be in the conversation.


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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MocTastic said...

Watch this Andrelton Simmons play also from a week or so ago, this kid does things you just don't see in baseball and he does them instinctually it seems.

May 7, 2013 at 10:07 a.m.
MocTastic said...

Also, heard rumors, do NOT know if they are true, but with respect to men's bb coach at UTC, subtract Dwayne Stephens of Michigan St and John Brannan of Alabama. You can add Rick Stansbury late of Mississippi State and Kevin Keatts currently of Louisville.

Father sons? Archie Manning with sons Peyton and Eli has to be at the top or near.

May 7, 2013 at 10:12 a.m.
jgreeson said...

Look at MocTastic dropping the internet video....

Excellent addition.

Kid has skills, and he does things at full speed the way (cover your ears Spy), a young Jeter did.

Things you can't do at full speed if you are thinking about them, you know. They are just instincts and reactions.

And they are awesome in their awesomeness.

May 7, 2013 at 10:13 a.m.
jgreeson said...

MT —

Have also heard Stansbury name of late. Had not heard Keatts.

Figured Izzo's right-hand guy would be a stretch. Here's saying that being anywhere on the Spartans' bench pays at leads six figures more than being in the No. 1 chair on the Mocs bench.

May 7, 2013 at 10:17 a.m.
Stewwie said...

[(Granted, we believe that it had the feel of Game 1 of the 2001 NBA Finals when the 76ers won at L.A., then the Lakers won the next four, but it still gives hope for a knockdown series.)]

I was thinking the exact same thing last night. The Lakers were coming off a long rest following a series sweep (just as the Heat were last night). And Philly was fresh off a grueling 7-game series (just as the Bulls were). The Heat looked rusty at times, but when the game was tight at the end, you expected the King to finish it off. Didn't happen. I expect LeBron to be more assertive overall in the next game.

Hats off to Nate Robinson for a great game and a clutch finish despite having to get his lip stitched mid-game after a collision with LeBron.

I enjoy watching Curry play and he delivered once again last night. But it's worth noting that he plays in the perfect offense to suit his talent. He's got the green light to fire away when he sees fit. If he played for a team like Chicago, for example, he wouldn't appear to be as good. Thoughts?

May 7, 2013 at 10:36 a.m.
jgreeson said...

From friend of the show StuckinKent

I'll throw the Mannings out there.

And I'll kind of answer your Couples question. Couples was supremely talented that would have been much better if not for the injuries. But he can't be in the Hall of Fame. He wasn't good enough on the course consistently enough. So, he's not overrated, but he does not belong in the Hall of Fame.

May 7, 2013 at 11:41 a.m.
BIspy4 said...

One major? And Freddie doesn't have a lot of Tour wins under his belt. He made a ton of money. But ... not a Hall of Famer.

Paul Maholm reminds me a little bit of Denny Neagle — lefty, stolen from the Pirates at some point, gives you some innings, a No. 3-4 starter at best.

I'll throw this out for father/son, though son was a good college player but I don't think he's done much in the pros:

Derek Smith and Nolan Smith.

Here's one: former NBA all-star Jimmy Walker and his son ... Jalen Rose.

May 7, 2013 at 2:26 p.m.
MocTastic said...

Felipe and Moises Alou and how about a father daughter? Muhammad and Laila Ali.

Going for a triple here, not content to stop at second. The Boones, Ray, his son Bob, and Bob's son Aaron. All three played in a MLB All Star game...

And lets not forget a father son who are big enough to count for a third person, Cecil and Prince Fielder.

May 7, 2013 at 2:36 p.m.
fechancellor said...

It was Couple's first divorce that really put a hurt on him. On the hall, I believe three majors a must. Is there a case to be made about the Players? I just don't know.

The award for doing the belly flop from the highest of high, Richard Petty Enterprises and Kyle Petty share equal shame.

May 7, 2013 at 3:01 p.m.
jgreeson said...

Stewwie —

Concur with your NBA breakdown.

And if a scorer like Steph Curry falls on to your roster, you fit your system to his skills. There are how many guys that consistently score 25-plus a night? You make the most of those guys.

Stuck —

The Mannings is a great call.

Spy —

Nice call — Neagle is Maholm; Finkle is Einhorn.

And any time we get a Jimmy Walker shout out, it's good times.

MT —

Like the Fielders better than the Boones, but the third generation stuff is a big deal.

— 5-at-10

May 7, 2013 at 3:27 p.m.
jgreeson said...

FE to the C —

Petty, like Earnhardt, can be on both lists.

Lee to Richard is a good one; Richard to Kyle is bad.

— 5-at-10

May 7, 2013 at 3:33 p.m.
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