SPORTSLAND 83 delves into the prospects of who can beat the Miami Heat
The NBA season finally arrives, better late than never, and the Sportsland, Oregon gang have it covered.
From top to bottom.
Lostradamus and company make all of their predictions, starting off with the playoff picture for both the Eastern and Western Conferences.
Which teams will all those player moves, some of them from earlier in the day, affect most and why.
Can anyone beat Miami this year? The Sportsland Crew makes its call.
Is LeBron going to blow out the league and be MVP this season? Kobe still got enough game to lead the Lakers to the Finals? Chris Paul going to shove his skills into the face of the Lakers and Commissioner David Stern for not letting the Lakers trade for him?
Dirk tough enough to lead the Mavs to back-to-back titles? Celtics anyone. What about the Knicks? They haven't been an entertaining team in a decade or more.
All-NBA? Got it.
Rookie of the Year? Got it.
Sixth Man of the Year? Got it.
Coach of the Year? Got it.
Even Most Improved Player of the Year.
Where do the Blazers fall? Are any of them worthy of awards?
The Sportsland crew decides.
All that, plus the usual segments, including What We Wanna Watch and What Plucks My Duck..It's all recorded at Blitz Pearl in Northwest Portland.
Two weeks ago at this time the Beavers were battling it out with #4 TCU in the spectacle that is Cowboys Stadium, and a week from today, they’ll face perhaps an even tougher opponent on the smurf turf at #3 Boise State. So it was understandable, I suppose, when Oregon State found themselves tied at 14 a piece with an unranked and unheralded Louisville team with 3:38 to go in the first half. After all, between looking forward and looking back, this is a team with a lot on their minds.
The first Louisville score came on a draw from QB Adam Froman (where have you seen that before, Beaver fans?), capping a drive that was a bit too quick and easy. But it could have been worse—not more than a few minutes earlier, Froman had fumbled the ball out of the end zone for a touchback. The Beavs responded quickly with a 9-play, 83-yard drive, orchestrated nicely by a confident looking QB Ryan Katz and capped by a 13-yard TD run from Jacquizz Rodgers. But then Louisville came right back with another efficient drive of their own to tie it up. Had Froman not fumbled on his first foray into the end zone, the Cardinals would have put up as many points at halftime as TCU did just two weeks earlier.
OSU was able to drive and score again before the half on the strength of a 63-yard kick return from James Rodgers to make it 21-14, but the underwhelming first half performance begged the question: The Beavers were physically in Corvallis, but mentally had they already boarded the plane for Boise?
It’s a relevant query, because this is a season where OSU can’t afford to go through the motions or look ahead to a big matchup, be it Boise State next week or the Civil War three months from now. Oregon State has athletic playmakers on both sides of the ball, a burgeoning young quarterback and a stout defense that held the high octane TCU offense to a single second-half touchdown.
The Beavers are a team that has always gotten up for big games, most notably two upset wins over USC in recent years. But if they really want to achieve the status of college football’s elite this season, they will have to bring it every minute of every game. It’s a mindset of dominance, and all top notch programs have it ingrained in their collective DNA. Maybe his type of mindset won’t mean the difference between a win or a loss against a middle of the pack Big East team, but it certainly could be the difference between a fourth place finish in the Pac-10 and a chance to upset Oregon in the Civil War to earn a trip to the Rose Bowl.
That’s right, I said it: This could be a special season for the Beavers. I believe it’s possible, and you may too, but does this team? You can see this belief manifest itself on the field when a superior team squashes an inferior opponent like an annoying insect, and the Beavs just didn’t have it.
Of course we all know how this story ends. Oregon State dominates the second half, puts up a bunch of points and wins with ease, right? Right?!? Well, not exactly. The Beavs put together two quick and efficient scoring drives of less than a minute and a half each to make it 35-14 with 9:28 to go in the 3rd quarter. But then Katz got knocked around, the offense faltered, the defense caved, and Louisville came right back with two scoring drives of their own to make it a 35-28 single score affair with just over 13 minutes to play in the game.
Please place your seat backs and tray tables in their upright position and get ready for takeoff… It’s 60 degrees and partly sunny in Boise. Thank you for flying Mental Departure Airlines, OSU football.
After a series of stalled drives and punts by both teams, Oregon State faced the unthinkable: Louisville ball with 1:33 to play and a chance to drive 93 yards for a touchdown and the tie, or go for 2 and win the game. Ironically, OSU found themselves in this very same position against TCU, backed up against their own end zone with 4 minutes to play and a golden opportunity for an upset. We all know how that went—the ball was snapped over Katz’ head for a safety to squash the OSU comeback attempt.
But on this drive, Froman had the Cardinals at midfield before you could blink. In the end, it took an athletic interception by James Dockery to seal the deal for the Beavers and avoid disaster on their home turf.
If you pick up the postgame box score, you’ll see that Jacquizz Rodgers had a nice 132-yard, 2-touchdown performance, and you might notice that Katz once again took care of the ball with 2 touchdowns and no interceptions—a good sign for a young quarterback. But the Beavers’ failure to put away an inferior opponent early at home, at least juxtaposed against the lofty aspirations of the program and its fan base, was a disappointment.
Soon OSU will get its wish—a real, not imaginary, trip to play Boise State—and you can bet that unlike this game, they’ll be up for it. But winning habits aren’t just formed during big games; it’s also in how you scrimmage, how you run drills, how you prep for gameday, and yes, how you play a team like Louisville. The Beavers may have won the battle today, but they took a step back in their war to break into the ranks of college football’s elite.
So keep your seatbelts fastened, OSU—it's a bumpy ride to the top.
Imagine you're OSU sophomore quarterback Ryan Katz. Only a handful of days ago you were at practice back home in Corvallis, secure in the non-contact bubble that a red jersey provides and giddy with anticipation for your first college start. Now flash forward to this Saturday night. The red jersey has been replaced with a figurative target on your back, you're down 7, 4:18 to go in the game, backuped up at your own 10, in Cowboys Stadium, the biggest spectacle in all of sports, and the #6 team in the country is getting ready to bring the pain.
It's times like these that can unnerve even the coolest of veterans, let alone a guy who had thrown all of 27 passes in his career--all in garbage time. So what do you do? Katz freaked out and tried to call an audible--something he hadn't attempted all game--frantically motioning to his backs and receivers as the play clock ticked down, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6... When it hit 5, the center, obviously confused by all the commotion, snapped it over Katz' shoulder, forcing the QB to kick it through the back of the end zone for a safety, and effectively ending the game.
Lesson #1 of a young quarterback's career: Don't freak out, or your teammates will do the same. Write that one down, kid. And while you're at it, get a bigger notebook, because there will be plenty more lessons to come. But these are the lessons, if put into proper perspective, that can give a figidy young QB nerves of steel when the moment presents itself again. After all, what's the worst that could happen, giving up a safety down 7 with the game on the line? Been there, done that.
When it was all over the scoreboard read TCU 30, OSU 21, with Katz completing only a pedestrian 9 of 25 pass attempts for 159 yards and 2 touchdowns. But there were also some bright spots in the kid's play--including a perfect ball to a streaking Jordan Bishop in the second quarter to put the Beavs up 14-7--that make you think he has both the arm and touch to get the job done for OSU in Pac-10 play. A solid quarterback next to the talented Rodgers brothers and a defense that always seems to get the job done (Saturday's performance excluded) could make for a very interesting Pac-10 season.
So take your medicine, kid, learn your lesson and get ready for the next game. After all, it doesn't get any easier--Boise State is only three weeks away.