It’s Friday! That means Ten Big stories in 10 little bites. We hit Creighton’s New Year’s Eve bash and the flammable Brooklyn Nets, Bill Raftery and Bill Simmons, Rory McIlroy and Cary Cochran, even a little soccer. But first, Thomas Brown and Ernest Suttles are gone.
I have no interest in analyzing the Friday night habits of Nebraska football players. But when dudes are slamming beer bottles on each other’s foreheads, suddenly it matters.
I don’t think this incident is representative of Bo Pelini’s roster. (And I must remind myself that my dumbest acts at 18 or 19 would’ve looked pretty bad in the newspaper). But NU fans need to hope this episode isn’t representative of a maturity/leadership void on defense.
It’s been a bad run for the Blackshirts the past two years, but one thing Nebraska HAS had is strong character guys at the top of the food chain. Last year’s eight senior starters certainly didn’t perform well enough. But they were grown men. They had been through a lot. They weren’t engaging in team brawls. This new group is so fresh, we don’t know their habits and priorities. They’re still forming.
And without a proven group of returning Type-A personalities, you wonder who tells them when they’re out of line.
The good news is, nobody knows what Brown or Suttles might have turned into. That’s also the bad news. Nebraska hasn’t developed enough depth on defense — especially up front — to be losing prospects before they play a down.
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>> Drop the confetti from the CenturyLink rafters! Only if Creighton wins, that is. The Jays get their Big East grand opening New Year’s Eve at 9 p.m. against Marquette, which is coming off an Elite Eight. I envision Marquette as Creighton’s measuring stick over the next 10 years — they’ll battle for control of the western frontier. This is a great spot to start a rivalry. Somebody save a seat for Ryan Seacrest.
>> Grabbing Bill Raftery from ESPN isn’t as important as naming a new commissioner. But for branding purposes — and for entertainment, of course — it doesn’t get much bigger for Fox Sports 1. Huge coup. Raftery is one of the two or three best analysts in basketball. And I imagine he’ll be willing to share a few stories at the Hilton bar, too.
>> The Big East may be better off without football headaches, Howard Megdal writes.
>> Mikhail Prokhorov took a page from George Steinbrenner, acquiring Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett from Boston in exchange for a bottle of shampoo and a few toothbrushes. Clearly it makes the Nets the most interesting team in New York. Does it make them contenders in the East? No.
Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Pierce, KG and Brook Lopez sounds like an all-star starting five. And Garnett should make them much tougher. But I see three average defenders on the perimeter and three guys who need the ball at crunch time (none of whom are efficient shooters, one of whom — Pierce — who can’t jump over his headband).
What do these three numbers represent — 42.3, 43.6, 44.0? If you guessed shooting percentages for Johnson, Pierce and Williams, you win a prize.
Can a first-year coach, Jason Kidd, push the right buttons? I doubt it.
>> Pull the lens back a little further and look at the Eastern Conference. Wow. For at least five years, the East has been JV to the Western Conference. It still may be. But at least it’s unpredictable. I could see Chicago being the East’s No. 2. Or Indiana. Or Brooklyn. Or New York…OK, maybe not New York. Point is, we might actually want to watch the East next year.
>> Anthony Bennett? Really? What a wild night at the NBA Draft. I can’t criticize Cleveland too much; there wasn’t a star at No. 1. In fact, there may not have been a sure-fire starter. There will be a lot of GMs who look pretty silly in three years. The safest pick in the top-10, I think, was Victor Oladipo. But if I were No. 1, I probably would’ve chosen Ben McLemore and put him next to Kyrie Irving.
>> I’m not a Bill Simmons disciple. He tends to write (and talk) too much. He tends to beat a dead horse. He tends to analyze college basketball players based on one game. And he looks at most things through the Boston lens. But I think he’s an incredible talent with tremendous creativity. I like his NBA passion and I usually love his sense of humor.
Where am I going with this? Simmons got in a little spat last night — just shy of 11 p.m. — with new Clippers coach Doc Rivers. Simmons has a reputation as a guy who sits on his couch and cracks wise — he’s probably never been to a press conference. But he has guts, which puts him one ahead of most guys in his chair. Pro sports media needs more analysts willing to call it like they see it.
>> I imagine Doug McDermott was watching the draft Thursday night. And I imagine he was wondering where he would’ve been picked. Two spots jumped out at me: Indiana at No. 23 — the Pacers took Solomon Hill. Indiana badly needs a spot-up shooter to spread the floor and McDermott’s skill would’ve blended well with that rugged front line. And, of course, Oklahoma City at 29 — the Thunder took Archie Goodwin of Kentucky. Ironically, I could see free agent Kyle Korver filling the shooting need in Indiana.
>> Can you imagine being a Boston sports fan this week? Doc Rivers leaves for the Clippers of all franchises. The Bruins lose a stunner in Game 6 — not quite as bad as Bill Buckner but close. Aaron Hernandez is charged with murder. Now KG and Pierce get traded. All in one week!
>> Incredible profile of the only American in Afghanistan’s pro soccer league.
>> ESPN The Magazine with a great feature, “Dear Me.” Famous athletes write letters to their younger selves.
>> This is funny: Rory McIlroy and a robot firing at washing machines.
>> If you’re interested, Creighton SID Rob Anderson, on his Twitter feed, has complete statistics for baseball at TD Ameritrade Park through three years.
>> Finally, Husker hoops fans, look what I found last night on the Internet. Perhaps the most exciting loss in Nebraska basketball history and certainly the school’s best shooting exhibition of all-time. I give you, 2002 Kansas.
>> Thanks for reading. Have a great weekend.