Friday, March 28, 2014

Report: Timberwolves may try to lure Hoiberg

The Minnesota Timberwolves are at a crossroads, The team will miss the playoffs again. Head coach Rick Adelman might step down and star forward Kevin Love might be traded,  force his way out of town or play out his contract, which is up after next season and leave in free agency.

The offseason focus will undoubtedly be on what happens with Love, but the coaching situation bears watching. With Adelman possibly stepping down it would be natural that team president Flip Saunders would come down from his executive suite and coach the team. But Saunders may have had enough of the sidelines and might opt to stay behind the scenes. One name that has been mentioned as a possible replacement for Adelman is Iowa State head coach Fred Hoiberg.

ESPN's Marc Stein mentioned that Hoiberg, who is a former Timberwolves executive, could be in the mix for the job if Adelman chooses to leave.

Widely regarded as the most NBA-ready college coach in the game, Hoiberg was a Wolves executive for four years before leaving the pros to coach the Cyclones. It should be noted that Saunders is close with Michigan State's Tom Izzo, as well, but the rumbles out of Sota are getting louder that the Wolves are going to court Hoiberg hard if they, as expected, have an opening. 

As much as the Wolves may like Hoiberg, I don't think Hoiberg likes Minnesota all that much. Hoiberg has put Iowa State basketball back on the map and he is beloved in Ames. They don't call him "The Mayor" for nothing. If Hoiberg ever gets the itch to coach in the NBA it'll be in a better situation than the possible mess he might inherit in Minnesota.  

Red Wings Helm and Tatar could face eviction for loud noise

A pair of Detroit Red Wings forwards appear to be in hot water with their condo association.

According to the Detroit News, Tomas Tatar and Darren Helm are named in a lawsuit claiming they must comply with the Main Street Lofts Condominium Association's rules or else they'll be forced to "vacate premises."

The eviction threat is in relation to a number of noise complaints filed by neighbors, which date back to October 2013.

Loud music, yelling and banging can often be heard coming from the third-floor unit in which Tatar is the tenant of and Helm co-owns, neighbors allege. The noise tends to occur between midnight and 4 a.m. "up to four nights a week."

Additionally, Tatar is alleged to have routinely parked his vehicle in parking spaces inside the condominium's parking structure which are designated only for short-term guest parking.

Both Tatar, 23, and 27-year-old Helm, are regulars in the Red Wings lineup.

Tatar is enjoying a breakout season, having racked up 18 goals 34 points over 64 games.

Helm has recorded 13 points in 33 games. He's been injured for much of the campaign.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Shaun Hill moves on to the St. Louis Rams

The St. Louis Rams reached a contract agreement on Wednesday with veteran quarterback Shaun Hill to back up starter Sam Bradford. Hill's offseason home is a few hours away in Missouri.

The deal is for one year at $1.75 million with incentives elevating Hill's potential earnings to $2.5 million, NFL Media reported.

The 34-year-old Hill was the backup to quarterback Matthew Stafford with the Detroit Lions for the past four years after spending four seasons with the San Francisco 49ers and four with the Minnesota Vikings.

Hill started 10 games in 2010 for the Lions. He appeared in two games the past two seasons and last threw a pass in a 2012 game against the Tennessee Titans, completing 10 of 13 for 172 yards and two touchdowns.

Hill is more than capable to fill in for Bradford, if Bradford happens to miss any amount of time with injuries.

Who do the Lions turn to in case of emergency since the steady Hill has flown the coop? Who knows. The Lions definitely need to draft a developmental prospect at the position. Now they need a proven, reliable backup. With Josh McCown and Michael Vick off the market the Lions might want to focus their attention on Mark Sanchez or Josh Freeman, quarterbacks ironically drafted in the same year as Stafford. I'm not saying either would be the solution but it's better than what they have now.

"It Girl" of the week: Aisha Thalia

The Just Sports & Just Us "It Girl" of the week is Aisha Thalia.

Monday, March 24, 2014

James Dickey steps down at Houston; Kelvin Sampson a candidate for the job

After four seasons at the helm of the University of Houston basketball program, head coach James Dickey decided to step down due to "private family matters". Dickey was 64-62 in his four seasons.

Under Dickey the program looked to be headed in a positive direction as the school regained some footing in recruiting the Houston area and the state of Texas. Dickey is credited with elevating the Houston basketball program across many facets, while making the transition to the American Athletic Conference.

"This has been a difficult decision to make. I continually preach to my players about being an everyday guy, and the balance of your personal and professional life is a major part of it. With that being said, I have a family matter that requires my time and energy, and I will regretfully step down from my current position at the University of Houston,"Dickey said. "I am extremely appreciative of Mack Rhoades for the opportunity and for the value he brings professionally and personally. I cannot thank my coaching staff and our players enough for the experience and memorable moments over the past four years. The system of support set forth by our Athletic Department staff is world class, and I’m appreciative of every member of the Houston Athletics family. I would like to thank the Houston fans for their support through the years and greatly encourage them to continue their support of the program in the future."

According to the University of Houston, a national search for Dickey's replacement will begin immediately. Candidates for the position will not be disclosed by the Houston Department of Athletics, for the integrity of the search.

The cupboard won't be bare for whoever is named coach as he'll have local products Danrad "Chicken" Knowles, Danuel House and L.J. Rose to build around.

One candidate that has been rumored as the leading candidate for the job is Houston Rockets assistant coach Kelvin Sampson. Sampson is a proven winner at the college level and led the Oklahoma Sooners to the 2002 Final Four. Sampson has also ran afoul of the NCAA for impermissible calls to recruits while at Oklahoma and Indiana.

If Sampson is hired he could be the coach to make Houston nationally relevant again.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Auburn made the right call in hiring Bruce Pearl

When you think of Auburn basketball, you have to ask yourself how did Sonny Smith and Cliff Ellis have any degree of success. Sure Smith and Ellis were fine coaches but Auburn hasn't exactly been competing for SEC upper division finishes after their departures.

You almost have to feel sorry for former coach Tony Barbee. He had a major reclamation project and although the Tigers made strides this season, it wasn't enough. Barbee was fired by athletic director Jay Jacobs shortly after losing to South Carolina in the SEC Tournament. Jacobs moved quickly to hire former Tennessee boss Bruce Pearl.

Say what you want about Pearl, but the guy is a winner despite his somewhat checkered past. Yes there was the secret taping of a phone conversation during Illinois' recruitment of Deon Thomas. There were the lies he told to NCAA investigators about what amounts to secondary violations. Pearl has been called a rat, fink and a con man. He might be all of the above but man can he coach.

Pearl has proven that he can win at every level. He won at Division II Southern Indiana. He won at mid- major Wisconsin-Milwaukee and he revived a Tennessee program that had fleeting moments of success. Auburn will now see if Pearl can work his magic on the plains. My bet is that Pearl will win at Auburn. It might be a risk to hire Pearl, but the reward will be greater if he piles up high numbers in the W column.

Even though Pearl most likely won't be able to recruit until August, he can recruit high caliber SEC talent to Auburn. The Tigers might struggle on the court this season, but Pearl is a self and program promoter and will be a winner off the court. Auburn made the right call hiring Pearl to coach the basketball team. Tennessee fans are still pining for him and I bet the folks in Tuscaloosa are probably gnashing their teeth at the fact that Auburn will surpass Alabama on the court.

The question is will Pearl stay at Auburn for the long haul and build a winner or will he catch the next money train out of town when a bigger name program comes calling.    

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Army's Raymond Maples to get another year of eligibility

Army running back Raymond Maples received a bit of good news when it was announced that he would get another year of eligibility.

Maples suffered a groin injury in the third game of the 2013 season and did not play again last year. That made him eligible for a medical hardship.

Maples is the Black Knights sixth all time leading rusher with 2,612 yards.

With leading rusher Terry Baggett returning Army should have one of the top rushing attacks in the nation.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

William Clay Ford wanted to win, he just didn't know how

Former Ford Motor Co executive William Clay Ford Sr., the last surviving grandchild of the automaker's founder, Henry Ford, and the longtime owner of the Detroit Lions football team, died on Sunday at age 88, the company said.

Many Lions fans have blasted Ford in forums and message boards for the team's lack of success. Many believe that the Lions' fortunes might change since he's passed. That I don't believe will happen. Over the years fans have been led to believe that if Ford died or sold the team that the Lions would be better off. The biggest misconception of Ford was that he didn't care about winning. That was totally false. Ford wanted to win but he just didn't know how. However, he was highly thought of around the league.

I'm not defending the man at all. I didn't know him. I'm a Lions fan like many here in metro Detroit. I just don't believe he was as bad of an owner as many fans make him out to be. He cared about his team, he just didn't hire the right people to make it a winner. Ford was loyal to a fault. He kept general manager Russ Thomas in charge for 22 years despite three forgettable playoff appearances. Ford paid the $5,000 fine levied by the NFL to star player Alex Karras for gambling on games.  He probably kept coach Wayne Fontes a few years too long instead of hiring a coach that could get the Lions to another level. The coup de grace was signing team president and general manager Matt Millen to an extension despite the worse run (31-84) in NFL history.

Ford was mostly a hands off owner, but trusted the wrong people to run his football franchise.

"Mr. Ford was not a kind of guy who showed his authority," the former Lions player Mel Farr told the Detroit Free Press. Farr bought his first Ford dealership soon after he retired. "And I can see how it'd be very difficult for Bill to be able to determine -- he was a guy that did not want to exert his power, never have. But some of the people that he'd stick with (were) not very good."

Ultimately that would be Ford's undoing as an owner. His blind loyalty to those who simply couldn't get the job done. So while every team's failures start at the top, it wasn't that he didn't care. Maybe he cared too much and thought that the ship could be righted if someone was given enough time.

Bill Ford Jr. will be expected to take over the reins of the team and he'll be more involved than his father. Hopefully the son won't have to pay for the sins of the father. Lions fans hope that he can bring the team to an elite status that would include a Super Bowl win.

R.I.P. William Clay Ford

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Jennings says it would be 'embarrassing' if the Pistons miss the playoffs

As the Detroit Pistons keep finding ways to lose games they find themselves in a very dangerous position. Miss the playoffs and also lose their top 8 protected draft pick in what is being called a loaded draft. Or they can come on down the stretch, make the playoffs and be cannon fodder for the Miami Heat or Indiana Pacers.

Right now the Pistons are 23-35 and are sitting 3 1/2 games behind the free falling Atlanta Hawks for the East's final playoff spot.

On paper the Pistons were thought of as playoff contenders after adding Brandon Jennings and Josh Smith in free agency and rookie Kentavious Caldwell-Pope in the draft. Things seemed to be looking up and it looked like the Pistons would end their four year playoff drought. Instead the Pistons have found ways to blow fourth quarter leads and piled up some head scratching losses which resulted in Maurice Cheeks being fired.

Jennings, who was brought in to help change the Pistons' fortunes says that it'll be "embarrassing" if the Pistons miss the playoffs.

"With everything going on, you know, it's kind of like now we keep slipping out of the playoff race, and you get a little worried," Jennings said.  "We've only got, what, 20-something games left?  So time is ticking, man.  We keep talking about we want to take the next step and turn the corner, but we keep giving up games and losing games, it's going to get real tough."

"If we don't make the playoffs, it'll be very disappointing," Jennings said.  "It'll be very disappointing and kind of embarrassing, the fact that with myself coming over here, and Josh coming over here, and us making these moves, and we don't get it done -- it's going to be real disappointing.

"We've still got time.  But it's not going to be easy.  I'll tell you that much, it's not going to be easy.  We've definitely got to start making our push.  And it's got to be tomorrow if we want to get there, because other teams keep losing and we just keep slipping."

To be honest I don't think it would do any god for the team to make the playoffs at this point. I wouldn't be convinced that it would unless they went on a massive winning streak. I hate to say it but the team might be better off  trying to save the draft pick and hope to land in the top 8 of the draft. If that doesn't happen it could result in a roster shakeup in the offseason.