SPORTS AVENGER 3/20/12

by TOM WEPPEL
NHL/STANLEY CUP…
Each and every year, it seems the Stanley Cup playoffs are an utter malestrom of games and competition that end up being played out no where close to what oh, so many of us are expecting!
Teams that are favored end up struggling. Teams with a home-ice advantage get caught with their pants down! It is as if the regular season was an anomaly!
Case in point…going into Thursday night games in the first round, the visiting teams had an overall record of 19-9!!! I mean, c’mon…that is simply ridiculous! The chances of that happening in the other three ‘major’ sports leagues…the NFL, the NBA, and Major League Baseball…is simply impossible!
And the quick observations will show you the Nashville Predators…a team not that popular at all…with a 3-1 lead on the Detroit Red Wings…a very popular franchise with a veteran presence and a huge overall national fan base!
You will also see the #8-seed L.A. Kings with a 3-1 lead on the #1-seed Vancouver Canucks! No one would’ve thought THAT was going to be the deal! Same with the Flyers holding a 3-1 lead on the Penguins! Before that series started, everyone thought it would be a knock-down, drag-out competitive battle destined to go seven games EASILY!
There is still some time left for us to see how everything will shake out…but the bottom line, is such that there is no way to ‘assume’ a series will play out in any possible way, until the end…which, for all intents, is what makes the NHL postseason very entertaining!

GO FIGURE…
This week, five kids off the University of Kentucky basketball team declared themselves eligible for the NBA Draft. Four of them were starters off the team that won the National Championship…the freshmen Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, and Marquis Teague, and the sophomores Terrence Jones and Doron Lamb.
For all intents, it wipes out the Wildcat basketball team, and so Head Coach John Calipari will have to start the a clean slate. In actuality, he already has, getting a commitment from Nerlens Noel, a 6’10” kid from a high school in New Hampshire who was named USA Today Player of the Year.
In consideration of the actions and moves I just mentioned, there is no question they can be looked at, for all intents, as simply bizarre and utterly ridiculous! Face it…for five guys to leave their college team after only one or two years, with the intent on being drafted into the NBA, has not happened. And it will be quite interesting to follow the paths of those five kids and see where indeed they will end up, when the NBA does hold their draft this coming Summer.
Meanwhile, Kentucky Wildcat basketball fans are left wondering how indeed they should be handling this…how they should be acting and reacting…and whether they should consider it to be good or bad…right or wrong!
Overall, a lot of mainstream college basketball fans are doing about the same thing, not knowing how to take this all in.
The NCAA, meanwhile, is in a position where they simply cannot do to much about how this is all working. They can’t make any forceful moves in holding kids in to play even a couple of years of college ball, for fear of being sued. Coaches feel as if they are caught on the bad end of this whole set-up, and don’t know what else even THEY can do, especially when it comes to them being asked for an opinion, or some direction or guidance.
And the kids…the ones who have the talent to go pro after one year…feel like it is in their best interests, since they can get a pretty decent contract, make a good chunk of cash, especially in their early years, and pursue a ‘dream’, so to speak, without even considering the positives that go along with getting a college education.
My feeling is that one of these days, something will happen that will alter the ‘playing field’…with a kid not getting drafted and being hung out to dry, or a school getting a bad deal all around, in some way, shape or fashion.
When that will be…is hard to tell. In the meantime, we’ll simply watch and see how things pan out, for the kids, for the schools…and for the NBA.

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