TFC 2 DC United 2

March 12, 2011 1 comment

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Toronto FC has wrapped up their pre-season with a draw against last seasons bottom of the table team DC United. Although the Reds did not look overly impressive, signs of improvement were apparent.

On loan striker and former U.S. international Charlie Davies got United on the score sheet first with a nicely taken shot that left Frei in the Toronto goal little chance. Then newly signed TFC midfielder Gianluca Zavarise was taken down in the area leading to a successful penalty shot taken by skipper Dwayne Derosario evening the score at 1-1.

Shortly after, Maicon Santos was sent in on goal by Frei and the Brazilian made no mistake slotting the ball past Canadian keeper Pat Onstad making the score 2-1 for Toronto.

Things were looking good for TFC until trialist Mikael Yourassowsky was shown his second yellow card for a careless tackle in the defending third. DC was able to capitalize on the man advantage leveling the score at 2’s but was not able to put the resilient Reds away as the match ended 10 men TFC 2, DC United 2.

To me the real story was the post game interview with Adrian Cann and coach Aaron Winter. Have a look for yourself  at the link below and if this doesn’t tell you that Winter is in control of this team then nothing will!

http://torontofc.neulion.com/tfc/console.jsp?catid=2&id=2856

TFC Starting Lineup:

Stefan Frei, Dan Gargan, Nana Attakora, Ty Harden, Mikael Yourassowsky, Natan Sturgis, Oscar Cordon, Dwayne De Rosario, Gianluca Zavarise, Jacob Peterson, Maicon Santos

Substitutes: Adrian Cann, Javier Martina, Matt Stinson, Matt Gold, Keith Makubuya

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New NBA Rankings

February 7, 2011 Leave a comment

Well in the first week of the season I posted my top teams which I think was Lakers, Boston, Miami, Orlando and a few other pretenders.

Now with the All star break coming up my new rankings are quite different.

1 – San Antonio. I did not rate them before and I don’t think many people did. But right not no one is playing better ball and they once again are doing like they always have as a team. These guys don’t have any one guy that’s the man but everyone as a role and they do it well. Good starters, good bench, good coach and experienced on how to win in the playoffs. This could be the last year for these guys but they will be ready come playoff time as this is the healthiest these guys have been in a while and TD will be well rested as his minutes are down. Can win with defense and offense so match up well with any opponent.

2 – Boston. Pretty much a reflection of San Antonio and have all the traits that the Spurs have but with more star power and more swagger. These guys believe when they step on the court that they are better than you and will let you know about it. With Perkins back they will be even stronger and have the size and toughness to make other teams lose mentally before the game even begins. Like San Antonio Boston has experience, depth and ability to match up and play any style.

3. Miami – The hate are rounding into form and seem to have now realized how the big three were meant to play together. Lebron pretty much runs the point and this is dangerous for any team as he can score or deliver open shots to a team that has guys who can score. Miami also continues to be a good team defensively as Lebron and Wade are two of the best 2 way players in the L. Only weakness for these guys is still who is the guy that takes the shots in crunch time? Lebron or Wade and do they know who gets the ball. The other weakness is also that often times these guys still rely on Lebron and Wade to take tough shots and get caught in them taking turns one on one and the rest of the team taking jumpers. Boston and San Antonio will make you pay if you don’t get the rest of your team joining the party. Having said that if Mike Miller does what he does, team will only be more dangerous to stop and with Lebron, Wade and Bosh that’s scary.

4. Lakers – Like I said this is my team and on paper these guys are a scar team. However on the floor these guys are not the same team. The success of the Lakers will depend on their desire when playoff time comes around and if these guys have the will to win a 3rd title. With Phil Jackson and Kobe around I think chances are you will see the Lakers start getting in to a groove towards the end of the year.With a bench that has Odom, Barnes, Blake, Shannon Stewart there is great depth and based on talent level, experience Lakers can repeat. All these teams above have beaten the Lakers this year but we will see which Lakers team they face when its Playoff time. 3 keys for the Lakers, Pau Gasol has got to go back to being one of the best offensively skilled big men in the L and get his confidence back and not get bullied into being passive. Ron Ron has to focus on ball and being the guy who shuts down Paul Pierce, Lebron/Wade, Manu who ever need be.  Not too much Kobe time, the team becomes predictable when they play give the ball to Kobe and lets watch him do his thing.

5. Chicago – I had Dallas with these guys in the 5 spot and essentially they are the same team. Both teams have great depth. Have improved on good teams they had over last year and have a clutch guy that can carry the team. Dallas has a bit more experienced team and ability to grind out games. However Chicago are gritty too and now with Boozer have a post presence and will get even better with the return of Noah assuming he is healthy. Dallas will really miss Caron Butler who is a defensive gem who can score the ball. And that swings it for Chicago who are performing well and will gain a key player, while Dallas will really miss a key player and have to step it up.

We will soon see who will be the team to do it this year but it looks real good as the matchups will be good when playoffs roll around. Orlando has talent but too many weaknesses to go all the way. Dont see any team with a chance of getting out of the East not from Miami, Boston or Chicago. In the West after San Antonio, Lakers and Dallas, the team that has a shot is the Thunder who have energy, athleticism and KD. But don’t think they have  a team to beat Spurs and Lakers. Denver remains dangerous but pretty much are the same team they were before but talent level has slightly depreciated from last year and who knows Melo may not be there come playoffs? I love this game.

Big shouts to my raps for ending the 13 game losing streak, thought they had a shot at the 8 spot in the East in that first week too and had they not lost Barbosa and Reggie Evans and some other injuries I think they may have challenged for it. Oh well seems like we gunning for a good lottery pick now. However I did predict the end of the 3 point streak this season although injuries likely killed that too!

Categories: Basketball

Raptors, can they make the playoffs in the East?

December 4, 2010 Leave a comment

Well we are almost 20 games into the season and my pessimistic view of the Craptors has become a lot less optimistic where I will now start calling them the Raptors again. At the beginning of the season I believed that the loss of Bosh would be detrimental to the team and the inability of us to close the deal on the Calderon trade added to the teams woes. However the emergence of the “one for all approach” on this team and their ability to still score is making a believer out of me.

Obviously when you are in the East every team has a legit shot at the playoffs. But the Raptors are starting to look a lot better than the team many people picked to finish last in the East. The deal for Barbosa is looking very good as this guy seems to be able to score at will. The Suns must feel like they were totally taken advantage of as Turkolu continues to suck. Calderon is becoming like the player he was two years ago and the young ones are getting better with each game. Not to mention Bargnani is growing in confidence and believes in himself as well as his teammates believe in him.

We were always going to be the team that had to rely on effort and hard work to win games but this team does have talent and a lot of depth which allows little drop off when we go to the bench. The addition of Bayless and Peja is a great trade on and off the court. Despite lack of PT for Peja he has shown he can still shoot and Bayless has done all you could ask in his role as backup PG.

Right now the Raps are in 8th spot and I think have a legit shot at grabbing that last spot. The only team that worries me that is currently below us in the standings are the Bucks. Cleveland, Charlotte, the other bottom feeders are teams I think we can outlast. But it will be a dog fight to the end and there remains a lot of ball to be played. Having said that yes we can make 8th and clinch a playoff spot, however this is December, check in later in the season to see if we are still Raptors and don’t become Craptors!!

Big shouts to Amir Johnson for that dutty crown off the loop from Jose yesterday, made Sefolosha (or whatever his name is) King for a day!!

Monday Night Football – Rate Vicks performance

December 4, 2010 Leave a comment

Mike Vick performed good enough to win and had another solid performance in the Eagles win over the Texans. He was matched by Houston’s QB, but was a little bit better and led his team to victory, with the only blip being an interception but having said that there were a couple drops by receivers in the end zone that would have made this game not so close.

The way Vick is playing and his improvement in reading defences will only continue to shine as he has an effective offensive line that gives him time to decide what needs to be done. An efficient running game also keeps defences guessing at what the Eagles will do from play to play.

My rating a B+ Very good game), 34 points, a win, – that’s a very good game in my books.

Ugly finale to MLS season

November 23, 2010 2 comments

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I had to comment on the MLS Cup finale which to me was a display of some truly ugly soccer. I consider myself to be a soccer fan and I will often watch soccer regardless of who is playing. Most of the MLS games I watched this year involved TFC and I was happy to say that TFC improved drastically over the course of the year but ended up finishing like they started and missing the play-offs again.

When I watched the final MLS game this year I was quite unfamiliar with Colorado and Dallas but it seemed that these two teams must have made it to the final not by beating the other teams but by beating up the other teams. It was one of the ugliest games I have seen in a long time and for this to be the marquee match to the end season with supposedly the 2 best teams in MLS was a shame and a mockery and a horrible way to showcase the MLS as a league trying to gain credibility. The lack of skill displayed by both teams was very apparent has it seemed like neither team was able to string together a collection of passes. The defence on both teams seemed like they were told to kick the ball as hard as they could anytime it came near them and the rest of the players must have been told to kick the other team anytime they came anywhere near them. At one point I thought I was watching Sockey and I think Brian Burke should try to draft Connor Casey as he tried to take down everything within sight. I saw a mild glimmer of hope on the first Dallas goal which was a rare moment of skill and a truly nice goal. But the game remained chippy and was capped off by 2 ugly Colorado goals which gave a fitting end to a crappy game. I was hoping for penalties as this would have been more fitting as neither team deserved to win in my eyes. Perhaps a good referee would have helped the game as this ref seemed happy to watch players kick the crap out of each other for 90 mins. And this was a ref who supposedly had a history of giving cards out like a pimp at a night club.

In the end, Colorado wins on the basis of 2 ugly goals to 1 nice goal and gives a whole new meaning to the term winning ugly!

Raptors Beat Celtics 102-101

November 21, 2010 2 comments

The Raptors have pulled off a hard fought victory against a very tough Boston Celtic squad. In front of what looked like a full Air Canada Centre, Andrea Bargnani dropped 29 points (on Kevin Garnett) with Amir adding 17 and 11.

The game started off on a slow note for the Raps who ended the first quarter being outscored 31-23. This led to a, “here we go again” feeling but the Dinos battled back scoring 38 in the second taking a 58-61 lead into the break.

Good veteran championship teams have a tendency to play ok-ish at the beginning of a game to turn it on in the second half showing their class over their opponents. But the Celtics came out in the third and only put up 17 points against the Raptors 21.

In the final frame the Celtics made their expected push and would take the lead on some clutch 3 point shooting by Ray Allen. Ironically enough, it was Allen who turned the ball over during a key sequence that let to a couple of hit free-throws by Amir Johnson after he was fouled down low fighting for a rebound. Those two foul shots were the final two hit shots in for the game as Paul Pierce missed a game winning shot with 2.7 seconds left sealing the victory for the undermanned Raps.

The victory comes on the heels of a trade with the 10-1  New Orleans Hornets sending Jarrett Jack, David Andersen and Marcus Banks packing for shoot first PG Jerryd Bayless and shoot even more F Peja Stojakovic.

Mixed emotions Winter? Raptors or die!!

Leafs Overmatched

November 21, 2010 Leave a comment

Last nights 2-0 loss to the Habs clearly showed that the Buds have a bit of a way to go yet. The effort was there but player for player, Montreal is simply a better team. At the same time though, both goals were completely preventable and should not have happened. The first one, both Leafs defenseman let Jeff Halpern go to the net right off the face-off. When the point shot came though Halpern was in a perfect position to make the tip and he made no mistake. Plus Gustavsson, as well as he played, was too far back in his net. If he was on the white ice, Halpern’s tip does not beat him. The second goal was a great tape to tape pass made by ex-Hab, Mike Komisarek. He picked the puck up on the boards and made a perfect pass threading the needle between two Leaf defenders to an open Mike Cammallerri. A horrible back-breaking gaffe that should not be made at this level.

What made the night a good one for me was the pregame ceremony for the late Pat Burns. I’ll never forget Burns because he coached the first “good” Leafs team that I observed.

The game will miss you Pat….Thanks!