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Just How Crooked Was the Memphis Basketball Program Under Calipari?

We’ve already discussed some of the alleged violations committed by the Memphis program regarding Derrick Rose’s bogus SAT test. I indicted John Calipari saying that he likely knew what was going on with Rose. When the report about Rose having his high school grades changed came out, it only further confirmed my suspicion. Well now there’s a report by Gary Parrish suggesting that four-year forward Robert Dozier also had SAT issues but was still accepted by Memphis:

According to a source, Dozier took the SAT once before trying to enroll at Georgia, but that score was flagged after the school received a tip that the score might be “fishy.” At the time, Georgia was still dealing with charges of academic fraud under Jim Harrick and determined to be extra careful with everything. So the school asked Dozier to take the SAT again, and a source with knowledge of the situation told CBSSports.com that the second score was “not enough to resolve the issue.” Put another way, Georgia officials were not properly convinced the first test and second test were taken by the same person, which led to the end of Dozier’s time as a Georgia recruit in August 2004.

That sounds like it all makes sense to me. Dozier wound up committing to Memphis for a second time about a month after his second SAT test. Before that, he attended Laurinberg Prep along with three other future Tigers. That makes me wonder what kind of shady relationship Memphis and Calipari had with this Laurinberg Prep. Regardless, whatever doubt that may have existed regaring Calipari’s knowledge of Rose’s issues have now been eliminated. This is what we call a disturbing pattern, my friends. But as long as he continues to bring in the top quality players, Kentucky won’t care. That is, until the NCAA comes investigating, which they already should be doing.

Vince Young Now Seems to Want out of Tennessee for a New Team

Vince Young, our favorite double-sided quarterback, seems to be going back on his promise to no longer speak to the media. I’m guessing his latest remarks to WMAR-TV, presented by Pro Football Talk, will have Jeff Fisher and the Titans organization panicking:

“I definitely want to get back out there playing ball and picking up where I left off, winning games and having a good time with my teammates and with the fans. At the same time, if them guys don’t want me to be in there, it’s time for me to make a career change for myself. Because the fact is I’m ready to play ball. If they’re not ready for me to play ball, then somebody is.”

Sounds like a threat to me! I’m guessing teams will be lined up for an immature, retirement-minded 25-year-old quarterback with a lifetime passer rating of 68.8. Maybe Vince Young will be able to regain his confidence over time, but one thing’s for sure — it’s not going to happen with Tennessee. The guy needs a new team, a new city, and he needs to start over with new teammates that he hasn’t already bailed on. At least the time on the bench gives him plenty of nights to try and pimp it at the clubs. Oh yeah, what do you think he had in mind when he said it’s time for a “career change?”

Ken Macha Still Has Strong Ties to Moneyball Style

The Brewers have played well this year, leading the NL Central with a 30-21 record despite starting out the season slowly. They don’t have C.C. Sabathia or Ben Sheets, but they have a new manager in Ken Macha who has a pretty strong idea about how to run the team. Some of the former A’s manager’s principles include not running nor sacrifice bunting, and that’s brought on questions from the press:

[Macha] analyzed some statistics and came up with a few tidbits that support why he doesn’t let players steal more bases, and why he doesn’t sacrifice bunt as much.

Going into play Sunday, the Tampa Bay Rays were stealing bases at a success rate of 87% (82 steals in 94 attempts).

Macha and droves of other statistic gurus believe a team has to have a 75% success rate for steals to have a positive impact on an offense, but as Macha happily pointed out, the Rays were two games under .500.

If all that sounds familiar, it’s probably because you’ve read Moneyball — the book about the Oakland A’s. Macha maintains that his feelings on stealing bases and dropping bunts (he added that a team’s percentage of scoring is higher with a runner on first base and nobody out than with a man on second and one out) have also been referenced in Ted Williams’ book and essays by Branch Rickey. That may be the case, but I’m guessing all these notions were well-cemented into his consciousness by the A’s organization. Oakland may have altered its philosophy but it still sounds like some of the tenets of Moneyball are alive and well in Milwaukee. I’ve always felt that teams should play a style based on their abilities, and it seems like Macha’s way of thinking is working out with the Brewers.

(via Ben Maller)

Jeff Van Gundy Broadcasting Brother Stan Van Gundy’s Finals, Hmm …

While ABC/ESPN doesn’t seem to think it’s an issue, Jeff Van Gundy wasted no time admitting his bias when it comes to the Magic/Lakers NBA Finals. With his brother Stan Van Gundy coaching Orlando, Jeff admitted he’ll be rooting for the Magic:

“I’m going to try to be as objective as possible, but I want my brother’s team to win; there’s no question about that.”

When Stan Van Gundy’s Magic took a 2-1 series lead over the Cavaliers, his younger brother discussed the looming potential conflict with his coordinating producer, Tim Corrigan.

“I said, ‘Hey, listen, if you guys don’t think it’s best for me to call the Finals, I’m fine with that, and I understand,’’’ he said. “I don’t want to compromise anything. They said they wanted me to do it.’’

Hmm, why is it not a surprise that ABC and ESPN, the guys who never see a foul that isn’t a “good no-call,” unafraid to put together a partisan product? I understand they deem Jeff to be part of their “top team” and that it’s difficult to just stick new partners together, but you have to make a change when this sort of thing arises. Not to say that Jeff will be openly cheerleading on-air, but when it comes to a national telecast that’s supposed to be called evenly, there’s no room for bias. Laker fans can listen to Mychal Thompson if they want homerism, Magic fans can do the same with Dennis Neumann. When it comes to a national telecast, things should be objective and unbiased. That’s pretty hard to accomplish when one announcer has already let it be known that he favors one team over another.

(via Awful Announcing)

Vin Scully Rips Denver Nuggets for all the Tattoos

Longtime Dodgers broadcaster and franchise icon, Vin Scully, is well respected for his ability to call a game and tell stories. He’s usually known to discuss most issues in a positive light but he’s brought down the hammer of truth for certain occasions. On Monday night when the Dodgers lost to the Diamondbacks 3-2, Scully shared with the audience some thoughts of disgust. Vin was describing the tattoos of Arizona utility man Ryan Roberts who was at-bat when he got in this blast:

“Did you see as many tattooed people outside of the circus with that Denver basketball team? They must not have a drop of ink in Colorado.”

Damn Vin, tell us how you really feel. Seriously, between Chris Andersen, J.R. Smith, Kenyon Martin, Carmelo Anthony, and Anthony Carter, it’s hard not to look at the Nuggets and be immediately struck by the preponderance of body ink. Aside from the national TV ratings generated by the Lakers, the tats have to be another reason David Stern is counting his lucky stars the Lakers advanced. I’ll say this much: I had no idea Scully would even be watching any Western Conference playoff basketball. Guess he has some time on his hands during those road trips.

Photo Credit: Jersey Chaser

Can Roger Federer Capitalize on Rafael Nadal’s Biggest Gift?

One of the biggest upsets you’ll see in sports this year occurred over the weekend. Spaniard Rafael Nadal, undefeated in his career and a four-time champion at the French Open, lost in four sets in the fourth round to Robin Soderling. Now the loss isn’t significant because of its impact on Nadal — he was bound to lose at Roland Garros eventually; the loss is most meaningful to former number one player in the world, Roger Federer.

While Federer has enjoyed tremendous success throughout his career, the major knock against him was that he never won the French Open and that his dominance was limited to the grass and hard court surfaces. Sure, Nadal may have passed him up recently and even beaten him at Wimbledon, but winning the French would cap off one of the top careers the sport has seen. What would Rod Laver supporters have to say should Federer win on clay? Moreover, a win at the French Open would not only give Federer the coveted title he’s been missing, it would also tie him with Pete Sampras for the most all-time singles grand slam titles at 14. With the U.S. Open and Wimbledon coming up, it’s highly likely that Fed would break Sampras’ record by the end of the year.

Following his surprising loss to Soderling, Nadal said that Federer was the favorite to win it all. Roger didn’t look like anyone’s favorite going five sets to beat Tommy Haas, but the message is clear: The title is tangible for Federer. While Roger could use the French to quiet all the detractors, his legacy will still be strong without it. He still has an excellent chance of beating Sampras’ mark of 14 and unlike Pete, Federer actually competed well at Roland Garros, making it to the finals three times. It just so happens that he was defeated by the man who might be the best clay court player of all time, Rafael Nadal. It might also be that this was Rafa’s gift to Roger for making him cry at the Australian Open.

Magic Will Beat the Lakers, For God Is on Their Side

Funny, wasn’t it only a few months ago we were going through this same spiel when Kurt Warner was playing in the Super Bowl? At that time their coach Ken Whisenhunt had said the Cardinals had an edge because of their religious beliefs. Well Dwight Howard’s not playing football but he’s in the basketball equivalent of the Super Bowl — the NBA Finals. While Howard’s been known to thank God following games, he’s never gone as far as he did with Chris Sheridan. Here’s how Sheridan described things after Orlando’s Game 6 clinching win over the Cavs:

Earlier, in the locker room, I had asked Howard to give me one or two reasons I should consider picking the Magic to defeat the Lakers.

“God” was his answer, which was met with the counterargument that the Lord probably has better things to worry about than who wins a basketball game, and besides, religion and politics are usually best kept out of sports stories.

“That’s the reason, I’m telling you,” Howard replied.

Mickael Pietrus apparently said that Rashard Lewis would be the key while Sheridan is of the belief that Alston will be the key. For Dwight, it’s the Lord. I still bring up the same argument — doesn’t that imply that God doesn’t like the Lakers as much? It just doesn’t make sense to me. I like what owner Rich DeVos said the most: “We’ll be the underdogs, but as long as we get a fair shake on the refereeing, we’ll be fine.” Amen to that.