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MO' Favorite Links
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My favorite site. Not for those easily offended.
This is a great NBA blog. The NBA (National Basketball Association) is a professional men's basketball league, consisting of 29 American teams, and one Canadian team. It was founded in 1946. Cincinnati used to have a team. I wish it did now.
Better Off Red
Jamie Ramsey is the Assistant Media Relations Director of the Reds. He takes you behind the scenes of a Major League team. And he writes funny captions for his photos.
Plenty of scenery and funny stuff on Big Smudge. I'll be honest, these guys told me they were fans of my show, and even if they didn't mean it, that gets them linked.
Bugs and Cranks
If it's about baseball, these guys usually have something to say about it. And it's usually funny.
Booze, Ladies, and Football.
Calling It Like It Is
A guy from Cincinnati, who uh, well he calls it like it is.
Chris Sabo's Goggles
A Reds fan stuck in Chicago does a blog. He says the purpose of the blog is to inform people of the Reds without the geeky stuff, like facts for example. My kind of guy.
You're probably thinking this website is about me. Actually, it's not.
Local college basketball blog by two guys...one a UC fan, the other an XU fan.
The Godfather of sports blogs.
My favorite baseball blog. I thought I loved the game, then I read these guys.
Stuff guys like. At least stuff normal guys like.
Hugging Harold Reynolds
Very funny sports blog with one of my favorite names.
John Clay's Sidelines
John is an outstanding writer who covers everything and anything UK-related.
Larry Brown Sports
The other Larry Brown, not the guy who's coached half the teams in the NBA.
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Mo Egger's Blog
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Do you like mind-numbing statistical analysis of the Reds? Do you treat every game like the fate of the world rests on it? This site is probably not for you.
Most negative man in America. And I usually agree with him.
Pro Football Talk
Not daily, but almost hourly reading for NFL fans.
Everything and anything Reds...and more, by Reds fans.
Rush The Court
The Ubiquitous college basketblog.
A little UK, a little Louisville. A lot of funny.
Anything and everything hoops.
A Cincinnati guy based in Vegas. What I'd write if I could write.
Because some things can't be taught.
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Who Dey Revolution
No site better captures the frustration of being a Bengals fan better than this one. Fan empowerment at its best.
FIVE MO' THINGS, 1/28/13
1) My Super Bowl party. We'll be watching Ravens/'Niners at Willie's in Western Hills. We'll have prizes from Bud Light, plus appearances by the Bud Light Girls, and we'll be giving away a big screen TV from our friends at Cincinnati Home Theaters. We're also giving away a VIP experience for Sunday's party for you and 20 friends. Sign up here. Be there Sunday.
2) The continuing decline of college basketball's on-court product. I spent the last couple of days the same way I spend most weekends from mid-December through the end of March: sprawled out in my recliner, beer(s) in hand, watching millions of college basketball games.
Among the hours of hoops I consumed, maybe three games were actually watchable.
You know by now, if you're a regular visitor to this space, or if you hear our radio show on a frequent basis, that I love basketball. Not "college basketball," not "NBA basketball," but basketball. I'm a little more emotionally invested in my favorite college teams than pro (though my reaction to Carmelo Anthony's three-point play to help beat the Hawks last night would fly in the face of that statement), so if forced to pick one or the other, I'd take the college game, but I love basketball, college and NBA. So this isn't about how one is inferior to the other.
But college basketball isn't very good right now.
The games this weekend were a prime example. Louisville and Georgetown played a game the TV announcers declared a "classic" that was barely watchable. Two two combined to score 104 points. Wisconsin and Minnesota, two more quality teams, combined for 89. Xavier couldn't break 49 against St. Jospeh's. New Mexico, the 15th ranked team in the country, scored a whopping 34 points in a loss to San Diego State. And Northern Illinois, in a performance that should force them to shut down their basketball program, dropped a grand total of four points in the first half of a 42-25 loss to Eastern Michigan.
There were a handful of at least marginally entertaining games this weekend - NC State's win over Carolina stood out, as the the IU/Michigan State game - but the theme of this weekend in college basketball was an amplification of the theme of the season: most games aren't very good, and very few are watchable.
Field goal percentages are at their lowest in 48 years. Scoring per team, per game, is the lowest it's been since 1982, which was before both the three-pointer and shot clock were introduced (more on that here), and the games, even for those of us who appreciate great defense (and I do), are becoming more difficult to watch than a porno flick starring your sister.
We know some of the reason: the early defections have hurt the college game, coach mobility is killing continuity, practice time limitations have college coaches focusing a little more of defensive strategies, and the game simply isn't coached as well at the lower levels, but there's more...
*The infatuation with the three. The NC State win I mentioned before? The Wolf pack scored 91 points. They only shot 13 threes - extraordinarily low by today's standards. Meanwhile, offensively challenged teams like UC continue to lift threes, often being shot by guys who can't make them, at an insane rate. Northern Illinois, on their way to a 25-point output on Saturday, shot 33. One went in. I'm no basketball genius, but why would a team that clearly cannot shoot continue to take low-percentage shots that aren't going in?
The three was designed to be a weapon, but not a team's primary method of scoring, yet you regularly see teams shoot as many - if not more- threes than twos. And bad shooters are shooting them. UC has two players - Titus Rubles and Justin Jackson - who have combined to lift 47 threes this season. Five have gone in. Why so many players insist on, and are allowed to, shoot so many shots they have so little chance of making is extremely puzzling.
So too is why so many teams continue to make the three a part of their transition game. Yes, there are great spot-up shooters who can, and should, shoot the three at the end of a fast break. But go watch a college game from 15 years ago, and see how many three-on-two or two-on-one chances ended in a three-point attempt. You might see two. Watch an average college game now. How many fast breaks end with a layup or dunk as opposed to a three? Too many.
Shooters continue to shoot, they continue to miss, and coaches continue to allow it. And the people in charge of college basketball refuse to move the line back even further, thus making it a more difficult, and less tempting shot.
*No one knows how to run offense. In the late 90s and early 2000s, the NBA game came to a crawl as teams isolated their best one or two players and cleared everyone else out of the way. You're seeing a lot of that in the college game now, with two, sometimes three players serving very little purpose other than standing around. There's no movement, and very little that's fluid about offense in college basketball. Isolation plays are effective in the NBA because the skill level is superior. College players can't finish as well, can't shoot as well, and can't get past their defender as well.
"But Mo, teams are just playing great defense!" Wrong. More teams than ever before are just sitting back in a zone, willing to let bad shooters take bad shots. No one really presses anymore, because no one has nine-ten players they can put in a game. And even the best defensive teams fail to score off of their defensive stops.
*Other individual skills are declining. I'm not the first to lament the decline of the big man with back-to-the-basket skills. There are simply not that many centers and power forwards who can post a guy up on the block, make a move, and score. Cody Zeller is effective, and fun to watch, because he can do these things. Not many other players can.
But it's not just that. Interior passing is a thing of the past. So too is the small forward with a mid-range game. And the amount of point guards who require a high-ball screen to get open make today's college game almost unrecognizable from what it was 15-20 years ago. There are still some very good rebounders, but there aren't many guys who grab rebounds then fire off 30-40 foot outlet passes leading to a break. You're more likely to see a point guard circle back to the guy who grabbed the board and walk the ball up, thus allowing the defense to recover.
*Officiating is awful. NBA refs might not be great, but they're consistent, and they understand (for the most part) their most important role: to maintain a game's flow, to keep it moving, and to keep it watchable.
NBA officials are also dealing with a much smaller sampling of teams they work with. They're familiar with coaches, players, and individual team strategies. College refs might call one team a season, with no familiarity with the personnel. But more important, college officials aren't charged with the duties of maintaining a game's flow. Throw in the fact that few college refs seem to understand the difference between a charge and a block, and that many allow an extreme amount of contact, and you've got games bing played by players who aren't as good, coaches who aren't as good, and officials who aren't as good.
*Players don't practice what they should. I went to a college game back in December. For work purposes, I had to arrive two hours before tip. On the floor were two taller players shooting shots they wouldn't take during the game. They weren't playing horse either. There are literally dozens of things these two guys could've been working on that would've helped them in games, yet each insisted on spending their time lifting 25-foot shots. You wouldn't see Joey Votto practice batting from the right side of the plate before a Reds game, you wouldn't see an offensive tackle running fly patters before a football game, yet we see basketball players doing things before games they'd never be asked to do during them.
*The people who run college basketball don't view the sport as a product. The people running the NBA, NFL, Major League Baseball, etc. have a vested interest in the on-court/on-field product, knowing that their goal is to bring as many eyeballs to the TV set and as many people to the games as possible. The way to do that is to make the product visually appealing. They tweak rules, and examine ways to make their games more aesthetically appealing to the masses.
College basketball doesn't do this. The people in charge of the sport aren't "basketball people." They don't view their sport as "product" and they have little vested interest in making it more appealing to the masses. No one really "runs" college basketball, no one is really in charge of officiating, and most rule changes come very slow.
OK, so I'm come across as an old fogey who wants things back to they way they used to be, right? Wrong. I just want the game to thrive. I want people watching it so people are talking about it. And I want those marathon viewing sessions to yield hours of entertaining games. So a couple of quick solutions...
*Shorten the shot clock. Watching player stand around for 30 seconds before a three point attempt isn't entertaining. Cut it by seven seconds to 28, ensuring a minimum of six more possessions per half, and forcing teams to get into their offense quicker.
*Limit the amount of leagues refs can work within. Cut it to two conferences and pay them more per game. Breed familiarity with teams and players.
*Come up with concrete rules designed to limit contact. Basically, take what is a foul and make it less abstract.
*Move the three-point line back. Find out how far from the hoop Titus Rubles refuses to shoot from, and put it there.
*Add a foul per player. Let six fouls be the number for disqualification. This keeps the best players on the floor.
*Start the season later. Have college basketball begin no earlier than the week of Thanksgiving. Keep teams in their gyms practicing instead of preparing for games.
*Give each NCAA sport a governing body. College basketball should be run by people intimately familiar with the sport.
*Enforce defensive three seconds. Charge any player guilty of it twice with a foul. Open up the lane a little more.
*Come up with illegal defense rules. No more double-teaming of players without the ball.
Are these things cyclical? Sure. And this year might be an extreme end of the cycle. Could the NBA help? No doubt. But that's for David Stern and company to address.
I love college basketball. I just love it more when it's at its best. And this year, it might be at its worst
3) The Pro Bowl. Good for Kyle Rudolph. Good for AJ Green. That's all I got.
4) Rajon Rondo is done for the year. I'm not Boston fan, but he's the most fun player in the league to watch not named "Steph Curry." Hate seeing him go down.
5) Scott Rolen. A creaky third baseman who hit .245 last year might go to LA and I'm supposed to be bothered by this?
More later. Catch the radio show at 3:04 on ESPN1530. And sign up for the VIP party if you haven't already.