May 18, 2011
When Lakers were swept out of the playoffs, the focus turned to the star studded Miami Heat whose roster has been promising big things ever since LeBron James announced he was “taking his talents to South Beach.” The Heat beat the Celtics in Round 2 to advance to the conference finals and play the No. 1 seeded Chicago Bulls. Surprisingly (or not, depending on how you feel about LeBron), the Heat fell to the Bulls in their first game, losing 83-102. While Miami’s trio of Wade, Bosh and James combined for 63 points, it was not enough to outshine the combined effort of the Bulls. Chicago’s bench outscored the Heat’s 28-15. Derrick Rose, who had four turnovers in the first half, had a spotless second half, scoring 10 points in the third quarter with zero turnovers. The Heat’s sense of urgency will no doubt shine through in Game 2, as they do not want to give the Bulls a 2-0 advantage. But if the Mavericks-Lakers match-up showed us anything, it’s that basketball players, and not superstars, win games.
The Memphis Grizzlies ended their playoff run in Oklahoma City, where the Thunder beat them 105-90 in the deciding Game 7. The Thunder is now slated to play the Mavericks, who rocked brackets everywhere when they swept the Lakers in the semi-finals. The winners of those match-ups will advance to the championship series scheduled for next month.
Meanwhile, the Wizards and 13 other teams whose season didn’t end so well are anxiously awaiting the NBA Draft Lottery, which will occur tomorrow night. The Wizards struck gold last year when they won and got the No. 1 pick John Wall, but it’s all up to chance if they will be so lucky again. Historically, the Wizards have bad luck when it comes to the lottery, moving down from their projected spot 12 out of 13 draft appearances before 2010. Other participating teams this year include the Cleveland Cavaliers, Detroit Pistons and Sacramento Kings. If they won, the Wizards’ top picks are speculated to be Arizona forward Derrick Williams or Kentucky forward Enes Kanter to provide a strong front court partner for Wall. Of course, anything can happen.
Maryland’s New Coach
The courts at the University of Maryland also saw some changes last week, when they appointed Texas A&M’s Mark Turgeon as Gary Williams’s replacement. The initial rumors were that Assistant Duke Coach Mike Brey was the favorite to fill Williams’ shoes. Brey has valuable experience within the ACC as well as strong roots to the area. The appointment of Turgeon came as a surprise, as many individuals — including myself — didn’t really know who he was. He was head coach of the Wichita State Shockers for 7 years, leading them to the Sweet 16 in 2006. He has been the head coach at Texas A&M for the past 4 years, the team advancing to the NCAA Championship each year. Despite his winning record, the hire has sparked debate with some sportswriters questioning if this was the right move. Maryland Athletic Director Kevin Anderson appears to have no reservations, saying in a statement: “In Mark, we have brought one of the outstanding young coaches in the country, and one who has a proven record of achievement on and off the court. We couldn’t be more excited.”
The Nats are just below .500 at 19-21 and are tied with the Mets for last place in the NL East. They won their first game since last Wednesday with an 8-4 victory over the Marlins. The win came after three losses, each by just one run, and two in extra innings. The team has been uneven so far this season. At times they seem like a cohesive unit, the pitcher and hitters hitting stride to knock out wins. At other times, the two are on different wavelengths, unable to score runs, while the pitcher is dominating or vice versa. Sunday at Nationals Park, the team knocked up pitcher Javier Vasquez, scoring their most runs since April 20. Ivan Rodriguez knocked in three, while Jayson Werth and Roger Bernadina each ended the day with two. Though the majority of the runs — six — were scored in the first inning, the Marlins were never able to top that. Their last runs of the game came in the seventh inning. With 40 games into the season, the Nats were hoping for a better record; but at least this year they have some company at the bottom of the standings.