Tons of stuff to get to this morning, but I must start with the ugliest game of the NBA Finals.
I saw more bad possessions from Oklahoma City last night than I’ve seen during any playoff game this year. It was shot selection (C’mon, James Harden). It was stupid fouls (how do you foul 3-point shooters back-to-back?). It was, inexcusably, a rash of missed free throws (the Heat were 31 of 35; the Thunder 15 of 24).OKC basically melted down the final 18 minutes.
Can they get momentum back? Of course. But it better happen in Game 4. LeBron is too good to lose three straight games.
>> No disrespect to Webb Simpson, who played the last 13 holes in 4 under par Sunday. But this U.S. Open will be remembered for its collapses. The USGA did its best to set up the back nine for birdies. But Jim Furyk wilted under pressure and nobody — other than Graeme McDowell — could make a birdie putt.
That includes the star attraction. Prior to the U.S. Open, I said I didn’t trust Tiger Woods’ putter at Olympic. But the flat stick was only part of Woods’ weekend freefall. On Thursday and Friday, Tiger looked like his old self. He barely missed a shot.
Everything changed Saturday. When Tiger was at his peak, he didn’t give away strokes. He might make a bogey, but he wouldn’t do it because of a chunked chip or missed 4-footer. Now Tiger loses two shots per round because of those mistakes. That’s the difference between winning 2-3 majors a year and a four-year drought.
More than anyone else, though, I feel for Furyk this morning. Tied for the lead with three holes left — two of them par 5s — it’s hard to believe he didn’t at least force a playoff.
>> Many wondered who would win the Sunday ratings battle — the NBA Finals or the U.S. Open. Probably not a fair fight without Tiger in contention. But the Finals peaked at 14.7; the Open peaked at 8.1. At least the Thunder won something last night.
>> Nice pick-up for Nebraska football getting a commitment from Nathan Gerry, a safety from South Dakota. That’s exactly the type of prospect you can’t let out of your backyard — and Sioux Falls counts as NU’s backyard. The Huskers’ other commit pretty unusual. Gabriel Miller was recruited as a long snapper. I understand the importance of the position — remember Pelini’s reaction at Missouri in 2009 when P.J. Mangieri’s bad snap led to a Tiger safety? But it’s a bit discouraging NU can’t train someone else on the roster to handle the job.
>> As I wrote (tongue-in-cheek) on Twitter Saturday night, South Carolina could beat the New York Yankees if the game were played in Omaha. It’s incredible how loose the Gamecocks are at the CWS. That’s the benefit of experience. And experience goes a long way in Omaha. I expect South Carolina to win it all again.
>> ESPN has done amazing things for Omaha over the years. Broadcasting the CWS is like a 3-hour commercial for the city. But if the network wants to prioritize European soccer, please just put the CWS on ESPNU. Don’t move back the second game to 8 p.m. The nightcaps Friday and Saturday finished after 11:30 p.m. That’s too late — and we haven’t even had a rain delay.
>> A few ridiculous CWS stats from Twitter: Via Creighton’s Rob Anderson, the winners of the last five extra-inning games have gone on to win the CWS. And via the World-Herald’s Brian Norton, there have been 15 home runs at the CWS since it moved to TD Ameritrade. None have come after the sixth inning.
>> Alex Gordon is surging again. The Royals left fielder, who slumped most of April and May, has a .429 on-base percentage this month. A big reason: walks. Kansas City is horrible at drawing them, but Gordon is an exception. He had five walks in KC’s 15-inning win over St. Louis Sunday. Five!
>> Joba Chamberlain could return to the Yankees next month. That’s a quick rehab after fracturing his ankle in March playing on a trampoline. Chamberlain said he’s learned a few things about his pitching gift and how to treat it respectfully: “It has given me a lot of time to think, to be thankful for the position that I’m in,” Chamberlain said. “Things get going so fast, it’s hard to step out of your own circle and realize how great it is to do what we do. That’s partly my own fault, not being able to do that. Now (I’m) able to recognize that.”
>> Hilarious tweet from Doug McDermott Sunday. Check it out.
>> The Lance Armstrong doping scandal never ends. The longer this goes on, the more I wonder if Armstrong would give in, a la Mark McGwire.
>> The NFL will make its “All-22” film available to the public, changing forever the way we dissect football.
>> Why the U.S. Olympic basketball team should be 23-and-under. I agree with this.
>> This Yahoo columnist says Scott Brooks screwed up big-time last night sitting Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook late in the third quarter.
>> Andy Roddick is having a dreadful season. Can Wimbledon save him?
>> A soccer column! What the heck.
>> College football’s arms race is recession-proof.
>> The LSU football team earned rings for winning the 2011 SEC championship. And Les Miles put “#2 nationally” on the ring.
>> Finally, if you missed Sunday’s World-Herald, you missed a heckuva newspaper. Great stories and photos on almost every page. Three sports items deserve special attention: Sam McKewon on Michael Phelps; Tom Shatel’s interview with Warren Buffett; and Chris Burbach’s story about a California baseball coach who endured tragedy and made it to Omaha to see three of his old players. Have a great day.