Archive for April, 2009

A bad dream of a draft

April 28, 2009

Did I dream this, or was Eric Mangini hired to coach the Cleveland Browns? I’m a little fuzzy on that, here in the wake of the NFL draft, given moves by the Browns that suggest Mangini might still be drawing a paycheck from the New York Jets. My guess is Manginius just made his greatest impact as Jets’ head coach some four months after his firing, allowing his old squad to draft USC quarterback Mark Sanchez with Cleveland’s fifth overall pick in the first round of the NFL draft.
Rather than take Sanchez, and use him to engage the Jets, Washington, San Franicisco and probably several other clubs in a bidding war, Mangini deals the pick to New York to move down to No. 17. Cleveland gained New York’s second-round pick, No. 52 overall, and three players to keep company the four other Jets Mangini missed so much since his firing that he signed them in free agency.
None of the Not-So-Magnificent Seven left a glaring hole in the Jets’ depth chart, but they will presumably help Mangini keep his new team from stumbling over itself in drills once minicamp commences. So, that’s something.
Knowing how badly New York wanted Sanchez, it’s a joke Mangini couldn’t pry another No. 1 pick from his old buddy, Jets’ GM Mike Tannenbaum. You just don’t hand a team in your own conference the franchise quarterback it lacks without making them pay a heavy price.
Imagine what Daniel Snyder, Washington’s deep pockets owner, would have surrendered to have Sanchez. Snyder, remember, is the guy who wanted to give the Bengals two No. 1 picks for Chad Ocho Cinco when he was Chad Johnson.
So now the Browns are as clueless as the Bengals.
No, wait…they’re more clueless than the Bengals, because the Bengals at least had the good sense to draft Rey Maualuga. The Browns passed on USC’s heat-seeking missile of a middle linebacker at No. 5, No. 17, No. 19, No. 21 and No. 36. Remember that when Maualuga is planting Brady Quinn/Derek Anderson like a tulip bulb over the next decade.
Mangini blew this draft, taking Cal center Alex Mack in round one and Ohio State wide receiver Brian Robiskie with the first of three second-round picks. Mohamed Massaquoi of Georgia, another wideout, and Hawaii defensive end/linebacker David Veikune were the Browns’ other second-rounders.
Robiskie likely would have been available when Cleveland grabbed Massaquoi, so Maualuga should have been the pick at No. 36. And Pitt running back LeSean McCoy, Utah defensive end Paul Kruger or Iowa running back Shonn Greene would have been better picks than Veikune.
Since the new Browns came back into existence in 1999, they’ve drafted in the Top Five six of 11 years. It’s no wonder, thanks to drafts like this one, which pretty much guarantees they’ll be back draft in the Top Five — and blowing it — again next year at this time.

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How Did I Miss This?

April 7, 2009

If you’re a golfer, you’ve no doubt hit an errant shot and spent time looking in futility for your ball in the rough. Then, when your time limit is just about up, you look back over the steps you’ve just taken and your ball is there behind you. I don’t know if that’s what they mean by hindsight being 20-20, but sometimes you can’t see something clearly until you’ve gone past it.
That’s how I feel about the North Carolina’s 89-72 humbling of Michigan State in the NCAA Championship game.
I should have seen that one coming, not because Carolina smoked MSU by 35 points in their first meeting during the ACC-Big 10 Shootout, but because Ohio State throttled the Spartans three weeks ago in the Big Ten Tournament’s second round.
Everything the Buckeyes did to MSU that day at Conseco Fieldhouse, everything OSU used to break to a double-digit lead in the second half and never look back, Carolina exploited for all to see on Monday night.
Invited to shoot from the perimeter, Michigan State couldn’t find the range from the three-point line against either the Buckeyes (3-for-21) or the Tar Heels (7-for-23).
Both teams cut off MSU’s penetration and forced Tom Izzo’s club to be a jump-shooting team, which is not its forte. Witness the Spartans’ 40% shooting against North Carolina and 38% shooting against Ohio State.
Both the Heels and OSU had length, not just inside, but on the perimeter, that gave MSU fits.
Shooting over Wayne Ellington, Danny Green and Ed Davis proved just as troublesome for the Spartans as contending with OSU’s collection of similarly-sized, 6-5-to-6-7 wing players Evan Turner, Jon Diebler and William Buford.
While he’s a far different style player than North Carolina point guard Ty Lawson, Turner’s penetration against Michigan State led to the same easy baskets for himself and his teammates that Lawson and others his Carolina blue found once he drove into the lane.
So Michigan State’s season ended much the same, and for much the same reason, as its 82-70 loss to the Buckeyes in Indianapolis.
Had I been paying attention — not caught up in the karma of MSU authoring a fairy tale finish in front of its home folks — I would have seen it coming.