Friday, February 16, 2007


I have a confession to make. I can be a very lazy person, I put things off, I find reasons not to do things and I procrastinate like nobody you know. This is probably why it took me so long to ever start trying something like this, and is definitely why I went a week without writing anything. But if you (and by you I mean that guy from Hunter River who may or may not have been here more than once) can forgive me I will continue onward.

It was a big and imposing week for the Raptors. Four games against four good teams heading into the All-Star break. Win and they can keep the momentum they've had and, hopefully, roll on into the playoffs. But if they struggled doubts could begin to creep in. Are we really this good? Why can't we beat the good teams? Long story short, it was a very big test for the Raptors and they came through with flying colors.

The first part of the test for the Raptors was the suddenly much improved Lakers. Kobe is playing better team basketball, and Andrew Bynum is emerging as a rare true center in the NBA. The Lakers were coming in off a beat down style loss to the Pistons, so the game could go one of two ways. Either they come out strong and determined, or flat and depressed.

The Lakers chose the latter, but so to did the Raptors. I had wondered what would happen when the Raptors finally switched back to T.J. starting, Jose coming off the bench, and this was the game. They came out completely flat, took too many jumpers and scored 16 points in the 1st quarter. The Raptors seemed to find their way after that, and had a 9 point lead when Ford came in for Calderon in the 4th. That lead evaporated quickly, the game got close, but the Raptors pulled it out down the stretch.

This was a rare Saturday night Raptors game, which translated into me not seeing it because I was "busy". It was a tough game for the Raptors, a back to backer, on the road, against probably the best team in the East. If they won this one they could definitely consider themselves among the leagues elite. But in losing as closely they did the Raps shouldn't really get too down. Detroit is a great team, rested, at home, and the Raps took them to the wire.

Looking at the stats, Rasheed Wallace had a great game (28 and 7) while Bosh struggled (5-15 FG's). The Pistons were quoted as saying that they used their veteran sense to help them pull out the win at the end. Hopefully in 2-3 years we'll hear the Raptors saying the same thing after winning a game after pulling out a win in the 4th.

RAPTORS 112 over BULLS 111
This was an interesting game for me to watch. I had taped the game, knowing I was going out, but while out I accidently saw the score. I still watched the game the next day, but knowing that the Raptors would win let me focus less on cheering and more on just watching parts of the game. Not that I learned anything especially interesting, it was just a different way to watch.

The Raptors always struggle against the Bulls, I can't find the number but I think its something like 15 in a row that the Bulls have won coming in to this one. But tonight was a different story, tonight the Raptors played their quality basketball, and tonight when it came down to it the Raptors pulled out the victory. All this in while Luol Deng and Ben Gordon put on an absolute clinic on the way to play midrange basketball (they combined for 56 points with only 2 3's). All this despite T.J., again, struggling down the stretch in the 4th (see the Laker game and probably the Piston game too) blowing a 12 point lead. It was a win against a good team, and it guaranteed a split on the 4 tough games before the All-Star break.

RAPTORS 120 over NETS 109
Now that we got to the game, this Nets game no longer looked nearly as tough as it had earlier in the week. Jason Kidd went down with back problems, and with Richard Jefferson already out it left Vince as the only 1 of the big 3 playing. The Raptors doubled Vince, and made the other Nets try to beat them. For a while it looked like they'd make a game of it with Bostjan Nachbar and Eddie House making seemingly every shot they took, but they would slow down and the Raptors won it with ease.

Offensively the Raptors played the fantastic, beautiful team basketball that they've been showing glimpses of lately. The ball moved where it's supposed to, they made the open shots, and everyone was involved. Seven players finished in double figures, including 6 with 15+. Defensively they could have done a better job on Nachbar/House, but overall they put the game away and left for the break knowing they had just beat down their closest competitor in the Atlantic.

  • Enough with the MVP chants for Bosh. I love Chris Bosh, but he's not an MVP calibre player yet and there's nothing wrong with that. It just feels stupid to hear fans cheering for an award we don't deserve.
  • The Raptors held Kobe to 56 points less than the last time he was in Toronto.
  • The Bulls just need a big who can give them something on the offensive end to be really good.
  • There is nothing more fun as a Raptors fan, than watching Vince Carter sulk around as he loses a game.

Friday, February 9, 2007

New Feature - The IKTS WRR

As I mentioned it the last post its becoming hard to come up with idea's to write about. And then it struck me like sledgehammer to the pinkie toe (only less painfully), why not start a weekly themed column? On what I asked myself? While, why not your favorite teams? You could have 2 running columns, one on the Leafs and one on the Raptors. Genius I said to myself, pure genius. So without further ado I give you the inagural Ike Krizzule Talks Sports Weekly Raptor Report (or the IKTS WRR).

So for the purposes of this week I'll try and contain the main portion of my discussion to the week that was February 1st to the 8th, and contained the Hawks, Clippers and Magic games. In the future, now that I've planned out the idea of this column, I'll have better analysis of the games and whatnot. Right now its just me looking back and trying to remember, the future is in note taking during the games I see.

I managed to catch the 1st half of this game, then it was a Friday night and I went out to do Friday night type things. I wasn't worried about the game, though, the Raptors were up 63-46 and were clearly overpowering the Hawks. The Raptors have come together as a team over the past 1-2 months, while the Hawks continue to be a group of mismatched parts.

It looks like the Raptors eased of the accelerator in the 2nd Half, but that 1st Half was what I was waiting for them to do in the past in games against teams like the Celtics and the Hornets (w/o Chris Paul). They put the hammer down, they let the Hawks know early that they were outmatched, and they coasted to an easy win.

TORONTO 122 over LOS ANGELES (C) 110
Unfortunately I didn't get to see any of this one live (although I did watch the game in an hour), due to it being Sunday morning and me sleeping like a baby (that had to much to drink). From what I remember from the game in an hour, and what the box score tells me, the Raptors continued to run their unselfish offense (6 guys in double figures) and the Clippers didn't play enough defense. Both teams were on fire from 3, but the Raptors shot it much better from the field and the foul line to control the game. Still give these new Raptors credit, the Raptors of last year would have let the Clippers back into it in the 4th, and then struggled to close the game out or lost. These Raptors confidently made shots all game, responded to any Clippers run, and did what they had to do to get the W.

TORONTO 113 over ORLANDO 103
Finally a game I watched, start to finish, in regular time. This was a meeting of 2 very talented young big men, Chris Bosh and Dwight Howard (more on this later), but also a meeting of 2 teams who look to be taking steps forward this year. In Orlando's defense they were without 4 regulars (Grant Hill, Tony Battie, Kenyon Dooling and Trevor Ariza. In Toronto's defense the only 1 of those 4 who might have made a difference is Hill, and if Orlando's banking on Hill to be healthy they are in big trouble.

It was one of those game the Raptors have been having lately where the other team hangs around, but the whole time you feel confident the Raptors are going to pull it out. The Raptors lead never got too big, and they rarely trailed, but you just felt that come the 4th quarter they'd put something together and win the game. It's a completely different feel than Raptors fans are used to, and I like it. The Magic hung around all game, Howard was a beast and other guys made shots, but the Raptors won the 4th by 9 and took the game easily.

Now like I said, it was a battle between 2 of the best young big guys in the world ... and they put on a show. Howard had a career high 32 points, on 13-14 shooting, to go with 9 boards. Bosh had a career high 41, to go with 8 boards. In terms of net results it looks like this one easily goes to Bosh, but its tough to say. Bosh had 2 fantastic point guards feeding him the ball (Ford and Calderon each finished with 11 assists) and a team that understood to keep feeding him the ball in the 4th. Howard had a team somehow unanaware that he was making every shot he took, and had to work much harder for many of his points. They are 2 different players, with different skill sets, so its difficult to compare them against each other. For me its much more fun to imagine what they could do on the court together.

  • That Josh Smith is one heck of a player for Atlanta, he's better every time I see him play.
  • Somethings wrong with the Clippers. I don't know what it is, but they don't look like the same team that almost beat the Suns in the playoffs last year.
  • Darko Milicic could be a player if he could get some minutes somewhere. He's a RFA this summer, could be interesting to see if he can finally go somewhere that will use him.
  • Garbojosa's jumper looks much improved lately. Its got more arc, and just looks better coming out. I still think he might shoot a bit too much, but at least I'm not yelling at him through the T.V. every time he shoots now.
  • The Raptors are getting some exceptional PG play by sharing time with Calderon and Ford. It'll be interesting to see what happens when T.J.'s ankle is feeling 100%

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

My Big Mouth

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We're entering the slow news portion of the sports year. The NFL season just ended and the baseball season is still a couple months away with most offseason transactions having being completed. What we (and by we I mean me, you might be following some other stuff) are left with is the NHL, NBA, and a little college basketball. What I'm trying to do is give an excuse for why I'm having trouble coming up with something to write on. What I've come up with is a quick post on some goofy NBA happenings. What the writing handbook would suggest is that you don't begin 4 straight sentences with "What", but I'm a wild and crazy against the grain writer so deal with it.

Tyrus Thomas, the 6'9" jump out of the gym athletic freak rookie from the Chicago Bulls, was selected to be 1 of 4 players to participate in this years dunk contest. When asked if he was excited to rub shoulders with the greats of the league Tyrus responded, "I'm just into the free money. That's it. I'll just do whatever when I get out there." Probably not the best thing for the 20 year old rookie to say, but he's young and he's telling the truth.

John Paxson, Bulls GM, didn't like what Thomas had to say and fined him $10,000 for the remarks which he considered, "a poor reflection on the Bulls organization". In the end Thomas will still recieve some free money, third- and fourth-place finishers in the Dunk Contest get $16,125 each, with second getting $22,500 and the winner getting $35,000. So he's in line for about $6000-$25000, along with a $10000 lesson to think before you say anything and never say what you really think. May be he learns from this, and tightens up his media quotes, but if so the league gets a little more boring and a little less honest. Just my opinion.


UPDATE: It was just a random post, but after Henry Abbott (the name in NBA blogs) of TrueHoop wrote a very similar article I feel very validated in my writing.

Monday, February 5, 2007

How Peyton and Prince Ruined My Super Bowl

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I had every intention of writing a pre-Super Bowl article, discussing the game and trying to reason out an excuse to pick Chicago to win due to my previously mentioned dislike of the Colts and Peyton Manning. Then, the next thing I knew, it was the weekend and from Friday - Sunday I wouldn't see the inside of my appartment or the trusty computer I use to write poorly thought out articles that I'm not entirely sure anyone reads. To make things simpler I got too caught up in the glamorous lifestyle of drinking and sleeping on other peoples couches to get around to it.

But, like all good weekends, things wound down on Sunday and I watched the Super Bowl with some friends. I went into the game cheering for the Bears, hoping the Bears could win, and dreaming of throwing yet another loss in my Colts friends face (BTW, there's nothing mean hearted about this. He'd do the same thing to me, its just the nature of our relationship).

Unfortunately, deep down inside I didn't like the Bears chances (really nobody out there did). There are 2 things you need to do to beat the Colts. You need to put up a bunch of points, because regardless of how good your defense is this Colts team puts up points. So to beat them your team needs to be able to match them, and I worried that the conservative Bears offense would struggle to put up points. And you need to win the turnover/big play battle. This one was a toss up, some games the Bears dominate the opposition with takeaways and kick returns, others Rexy and friends play hot potato with the football. Unfortunately for the Bears this was a hot potato game.

Things started off great, opening kick off ... touchdown. The Colts respond, but the Bears come right back and everythings looking good (14-6). That was probably my high point of the game. From there the Colts start clogging up the run, Rex starts fumbling snaps (it was raining like crazy), and all the wall Manning and the Colts are adding on points. Now Rex needs to start pushing a bit on offense, and when he pushed tonight the wheels came off. Two absolutely terribly thrown balls lead to 2 Colts INT's and this ball game is over.

Peyton Manning won another playoff game without being amazing. He had good stats (25-38, 247 yards, 1TD, 1INT), but they weren't great. Peyton didn't pick the team up and carry it on its shoulders to a Championship, the Colts won by playing great team football throughout this game and the playoffs. Their running game, both running backs and blocking, combined with much improved defensive play led this championship run. Peyton had a couple decent-good games (this one and New England) and a couple bad-average games (K.C. and Baltimore), but the Colts won games. May be they've finally figured things out down there in Indy, and that's a scary thought for me and for the rest of the league.

I dislike the Colts, but I do respect them. They are a very scary team, on both sides of the ball, and could be for years to come. I'm not looking forward to the brag it up call or email from my Colts fan friend, I'm not looking forward to the next 6 months of Peyton love (and the 20-30 commercials he will make) that are about follow, but most of all I'm not looking forward to the idea that I could have this same feeling again in 12 months. Enjoy it while it lasts Colts fans, as someone who enjoys the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, CIS Football and NCAA Basketball and Football and hasn't watched their favorite team win since '94 I understand the pain of a drought. Sometime soon you will to, nothing lasts forever.

P.S. And to cover the Prince part of the title, Prince sucks. He is in no way shape or form any good, and nobody likes him anymore. Whoever chose him to be the Halftime Show should be kicked in the balls. And that's all I got to say about that.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

In Defence of Raycroft

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Its been one calendar month, and almost one complete actual month into my blogging career, and I still haven't written about what is probably my favorite sport or about what is probably my favorite team ... hockey and the Toronto Maple Leafs. So with January almost over (its after midnight, but I measure days by sleeps not meaningless places on the clock), I figured its time for lucky post #13 and some Leafs talk.

Many who have followed the Leafs this season see fit to place a large majority of the blame on one Mr. Andrew Raycroft. Such is the life of a goalie in Toronto, made into a god when things are going well and crucified when things go badly. But is that really fair?

By the numbers this season Raycroft doesn't look good. He has a GAA of 2.94 and a save percentage of .898, ranking him 27th and 31st in the league. Numbers like that sure don't seem like they deserve defending, but here I am trying to do just that.

What the numbers don't tell you is that in 8 of 42 games this year Raycroft has had a GAA at 6+. Sometimes this Leaf team just doesn't come to play, sometimes offensive juggernauts like Ottawa and Buffalo run up the score, and a GAA average that would be about 2.57 goes to 2.94. I know all the numbers count, and other goalies have games like this affecting their numbers too, but I also know that whether the Leafs lose 8-2 or 3-2 they go down the same way in the standings. And I know that Raycroft is now 23-16-4 for the Leafs this year, while his backups are a combined 2-5-2. Extrapolate Raycrofts record (and isn't that what really counts) over 82 games and you get 44-30-8, 92 points and a probable playoff spot. Extrapolate the backups and you get 18-46-18, 54 points and a decision on who to take first overall in the draft this summer.

Leafs fans feel the urge to attack Raycroft because of what we gave up, 1st Round prospect Tukka Rask. Rask looked really good at a couple World Juniors (although pretty bad at this years), and people had him annointed as the next big thing. But the key word to be used when describing Rask (and also Justin Pogge, the Leafs other goaltending prospect) is potential. Craig Hillier, Francis Laviree, Jean-Francois Damphous, Jean-Marc Pelletier, Evan Lindsay, Patrick Dovigi, Patrick DesRochers, Matheiu Chouinard, Jomar Cruz ... recognize any of those names? They're a list of goalies drafted in the 1st 2 rounds between 1996-1998, and none of them ever became anything in the NHL. Goaltending prospects are tricky to judge at best, and even when the goalie is good it takes years before you see the results at the NHL level. It is highly unlikely that you will see Tukka Rask contribute anything in the NHL for 2-3 seasons, if in fact he ever does, but somehow that potential helped turn fans against Raycroft.

I'm not trying to say that Andrew Raycroft has been great this year. Even taking out those bad games you are still left with a GAA that is average-slightly above average. I write this to say he's not as bad as some people think, and that given the chance he might help lead this team to the playoffs. He's still a relatively young for a goalie (26) and who knows what he'll turn into ... if the weight of the pressure from being a Leafs goalie doesn't ruin whatever that is.

UPDATE: Raycroft has since dropped his GAA to 2.87 and raised his Save Percentage to .900, carrying the Leafs to a 5th straight win tonight.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Things That Leave Steve Nash Scratching His Head

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Its been a while, I've been a bit lazy and without NFL football this week I've actually had to come up with an idea on what to write on. Its not as easy as you'd think. Eventually I settled on this, a mini-rant about how the NBA isn't properly selecting the All-Star game starters.

Every year the NBA gives the fans the chance to select who starts in the All-Star game through fan voting. They allow fans to vote for 1 Center, 2 Forwards and 2 Guards. Now I'm not sure how or when they came up with this, but its not the way most teams (NBA or otherwise) come up with their starting line up.

When constructing a lineup the standard configuration is 1 point guard, 2 wing type players and 2 post type players. The distinction between power forward and center, for most teams without true centers, is blurred beyond recognition. They call players like Tim Duncan, Chris Bosh or Kevin Garnett forwards, but on many nights they will have stretches where they are the teams tallest player, best post defender and rebounder. That, by definition, is the center position, but in reality they are just the tallest post-type player on the court at that time. The same goes for wing type players, from Kobe Bryant to Tracy McGrady or Vince Carter, the distinction on whether they are small forwards or shooting guards really just depends on who else is on the court with them. They are wing players, and for the most part, teams go with 2 wing players.

But the one constant among most all NBA teams is they all play with a point guard. Looking across the NBA you won't find many teams without a starting lineup containing someone they call the point guard. But the NBA fails to recognize this in their voting structure, and this year neither teams starting line up will contain a point guard (Gilbert Arenas is not a point, no matter what Washington claims). Two time defending NBA MVP Steve Nash wasn't voted to start the game, instead 2 wing players (Bryant and McGrady) were selected.

This years lineups are:
WEST: McGrady, Bryant, Duncan, Garnett, Yao
EAST: Arenas, Wade, James, Bosh, O'Neal

In the end it won't really matter, substitutions will happen and point guards will get into the lineup. Combine that with the fact that All-Star games don't really matter (in any sport) and are just for fun, and it seems silly that this bothers me. But it does, I like watching really good point guards play and it pisses me off that the NBA refuses to recognize it as its on position, and that the fans get pulled in by the high flying wing players and ignore the PG's.


Now there's been some more visitors since my last update. Someone fron Delisle has come 4 times, hopefully because they enjoyed something they read. Also Yorkton, Jasper, Woodford and London have stopped by at various times. But still nobody has commented, and so I'm still not entirely sure that anyone has read anything (although repeat visits from Delisle, and previously Italy, made me assume someone did). So, I've decided to offer a reward. The first person to comment on anything can request a topic for me to write something on.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

10 Years for a B.J?!

I don't really do this, but if someone somehow stumbles here and not onto ESPN they should definitely read this story. It is a trajedy of justice gone wrong in Georgia that needs to be read to be believed.

ESPN E-Ticket - Outrageous Injustice