Sports Morning Headlines-Tuesday, 05/31/11

News from around the Texas Sports Scene for Tuesday, May 31, 2011.

Chemistry will trump Hollywood in this series - It would be easy to turn the NBA Finals into a battle of Good vs. Evil, so let's get right to it. The Miami Heat is the most hated team of the past decade. You almost have to go back to the "Bad Boys" Pistons to find a group of players that engendered this type of vitriol from fans around the league. But at least the Pistons had lovable sharpshooter Vinnie "Microwave" Johnson to provide some balance.  The majority of the nation's NBA fans will be rooting for Dirk Nowitzki and the Mavs, in part, because they're so much easier to like. LeBron James embarrassed himself with "The Decision," and now he and his new teammates love to play the victim. Charles Barkley, a man who once appeared in cellphone commercials with Dwyane Wade, believes the Heat players are the biggest whiners in professional sports.   READ MORE

Mavs a different team than last series with Heat - As last Wednesday turned into Thursday, and as the Western Conference Finals turned into history on the path to the NBA Finals, I huddled with Dallas Mavericks GM Donnie Nelson and asked him about "a plan."  "Oh, Rick Carlisle and the coaching staff will probably take about an hour before they get back to work and start putting together a plan," Donnie said.  He thought I meant a gameplan. I was just talking about, like, a social plan. Someplace where he and the fellas might go grab a beer.   READ MORE

Kidd finally back in the NBA Finals - When Jason Kidd led the New Jersey Nets to back-to-back trips to the NBA Finals in 2002 and ’03, he thought that was going to be the beginning on a long run to pro basketball’s greatest show.  But it Kidd eight years – and a trade to the Dallas Mavericks – to get back to the Finals. And that’s mot exactly the way Kidd envisioned things unfolding.  “After those two (in ’02 and ’03) I thought we were going to go on a roll in Jersey and make it three or four in a row,’’ Kidd said. “But teams change and the game changes in a sense.  “So once I got traded to Dallas I just knew at some point I thought it would be a lot sooner that I would get back to the Finals. Sometimes things just don’t work out that way.’’   READ MORE

Here's the best reason yet to root for the Mavericks - I always thought sports were the very best and purest form of entertainment. And by always, I mean until my 8th birthday or so when news broke that my favorite baseball player, Keith Hernandez, was all coked up. In the years since, steroids scandals and a few athletes and huge contracts and the Yankees further have chipped away at that belief but never been able to fully erode it. There is nothing that can dilute the beauty of sport, the belief that on any given day anybody can beat anybody if you just work harder and play better.  Or so I thought until The Decision.   READ MORE

For Spurs fans, Finals offer no good choice - It’s hard to imagine a more compelling 2011 NBA Finals matchup than Mavericks vs. Heat, but most Spurs fans find the prospect of watching it more distasteful than guzzling a gallon of water straight from the San Antonio River.  In San Antonio, these finalists are easy to despise.  This is because one team is owned by a guy who tweaked civic pride by calling The River Walk “that ugly-ass, muddy-watered thing,” and the other is led by a player who ruined his image by letting his entourage hijack it on TV.  Nobody outside South Florida wants to see the Heat succeed, especially not in the very first season after LeBron James made “The Decision” to take his talents to South Beach.  But at least the Heat aren’t the Mavericks, and to Spurs fans, that means they aren’t owned by Mark Cuban.   READ MORE

ProjectSpurs:  Spurs get compared to the supreme being - Though his contract with the Memphis Grizzlies is over as assistant coach, Dave Joerger is still beaming over Memphis' upset series-win over the San Antonio Spurs. Beating a team like San Antonio proved to be a huge step for the Grizzlies' franchise and look to continue their winning ways next season.  Now that Joerger is still waiting to see what his future will be in the NBA, whether it be back with Memphis or as an assistant coach with the Houston Rockets, when asked his thoughts on Memphis' win over San Antonio, Joerger compared the Spurs to the supreme being:  "San Antonio is like God," Joerger said. "Nobody can touch them. They're such a great organization. ... Getting the first one down there was big, but you know those guys just weren't going to go away. We didn't think it was over until it was over."   READ MORE

ProjectSpurs:  Video: Former Spur Sean Elliott talks about the 'Memorial Day Miracle' - Twelve years ago on Memorial Day of 1999, a miracle happened in the Alamodome in San Antonio as the San Antonio Spurs faced the Portland Trail Blazers in Game 2 the Western Conference Finals.  The Spurs were up in the series 1-0 but down on the scoreboard throughout Game 2 and the Blazers were looking to steal home court advantage.   READ MORE

McHale Off to a Good Start with Joerger Meeting - After Kevin McHale agreed to join the Rockets on a three-year deal, many were quick to report that part of McHale's appeal was that he promised to bring in a star-studded staff if given the resources. Early on in the vetting process for assistants, it appears that McHale is on the right track, as he is expected to make Dave Joerger a top candidate to be his top assistant.  Joerger, a former D-League coach and currently an assistant under Lionel Hollins on the Grizzlies, would be a fantastic addition to a team that has enjoyed superb assistant coaching over the last few years. His addition would bring tremendous credibility to a coaching staff that may face its fair share of scrutiny following in the shoes of one of the more successful coaches in Rockets' history.   READ MORE

How the Rockets chose Kevin McHale. Can he exceed expectations again? - By the winter of 1980, Celtics coach Bill Fitch knew he wanted Kevin McHale, the star of Fitch’s former team at the University of Minnesota, in the upcoming draft.  It did not matter who Fitch wanted, however, if Red Auerbach did not agree so Auerbach and Celtics owner Harry Mangurian went to check out McHale for themselves, seeing McHale take on Purdue star Joe Barry Carroll late that season. Auerbach and Mangurian came away unimpressed so Fitch sent for the video of the game.  Fitch saw McHale “eating up” Carroll and when he questioned Auerbach about the video and the great coach’s unfavorable first impression, Auerbach explained, “we were out getting ice cream.”  More than three decades later, the Rockets hope that once again the first impressions many have about McHale, this time as a coach, will prove as inaccurate.  They reached an agreement with McHale on Friday after a month-long search for a successor to Rick Adelman.   READ MORE

 

 

 

 

Quick pitch: Rangers are "streaking" in Tampa Bay, on the road - The Rangers did something Monday they hadn't done in more than a year and only twice in the last five seasons: They won a regular-season game at Tropicana Field.  Of course, they did win at Tropicana Field last year. Three times in fact. But those were just postseason games.  Not that this was a thing of beauty, but the 11-5 mashing of Tampa Bay, which was only momentarily marred by another two-out meltdown by LHP Derek Holland, extended the Rangers "win streak" to three games. It's their first three-game win streak since beating Kansas City three times April 22-24.   READ MORE

Andrus spiked in foot, questionable for Tuesday - Shortstop Elvis Andrus is questionable for Tuesday's game with the Rays after getting spiked in the left foot by second baseman Michael Young in the Rangers' 11-5 victory on Monday.  Andrus, who did not play in the ninth inning, was limping afterward and had some swelling in the left foot. He wasn't sure whether he'll be ready to play on Tuesday.  "We'll see tomorrow when I wake up," Andrus said. "I'm not saying yes or no."   READ MORE

Astros capitalize on four home runs to rally over Cubs - Clint Barmes, Hunter Pence, J.R Towles and Jeff Keppinger collaborated for four home runs to rally the Houston Astros to a commanding 12-7 victory over the Chicago Cubs on a hot Monday afternoon in which the wind was blowing out at historic Wrigley Field.  With the victory, Houston reached season-highs in runs and homers, as well as matched their season-best with 16 hits, en route to snapping a three-game skid stemming from being swept over the weekend at Minute Maid Park by the Arizona Diamondbacks.   READ MORE

Major League Debut a Lyles Family Affair - The Lyles family won’t forget this Memorial Day weekend anytime soon. After spending the holiday underneath the sunny skies of Chicago, they will wake up tomorrow and spend the day waiting to see a family member make his major league debut at Wrigley Field once the evening comes. Approximately 20-25 friends and family members will make the trip from South Carolina to the Friendly Confines to cheer Jordan against Carlos Zambrano and the Cubs. Among Jordan’s crowd of supporters will be his parents and all four brothers.   READ MORE

 

 

 

Felix Jones over Rashard Mendenhall: Three years later, numbers show why pick makes more sense - Thirty-seven months have passed since the Cowboys acquired Felix Jones with the 22nd overall selection in the first round of the 2008 draft. But to this day their decision to take Jones instead of Pittsburgh running back Rashard Mendenhall is questioned by a subset of vocal fans.  They wonder why the Cowboys didn't see what the Steelers did, why Dallas couldn't anticipate what Pittsburgh could, and why their team drafted what appears to be the less productive player. They grouse and point to the fact that Mendenhall, who was snatched up one pick after Jones, has received more carries, rushed for more yards, and scored more touchdowns than the Cowboys' top tailback in the three seasons since both players turned pro.   READ MORE

2011 NFL Lockout: What Does Jerry Jones' Silence Mean for Dallas Cowboys? - The name Jerry Jones and the word "silence" don't often appear in the same sentence together, but the outspoken Dallas Cowboys' owner has been shockingly quiet throughout the lockout.  He has said he believes—whether it's shortened or not—a season will be played. According to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Jones said: "We are going to have football. We are going to have a great league. We are going to have a great group of players. That is going to happen. This train is going to get there. I just want to be on it."  Jones' silence and insistence that there will be season in 2011 is caused by the fact he knows wins will be falling into his lap this season. After a horrendous 2010 season, the Cowboys will get their franchise quarterback back and also have a solid offensive-minded coach in Jason Garrett, who they feel can take them to the promised land.  In the end, Jones knows the owners have most of the leverage.   READ MORE

Fundamentals, technique crucial to secondary improvement - Of all the challenges facing Wade Phillips as the Texans’ new defensive coordinator, perhaps none is more daunting than improving the secondary.  The Texans allowed 267.5 passing yards per game in 2010, seventh-most in NFL history in a 16-game season. Only one player in their secondary, six-year cornerback Jason Allen, has more than three seasons of NFL experience.  Phillips knows that he and defensive backs coach Vance Joseph have their work cut out for them.  “Hopefully, we’ll have a better rush in the 3-4,” Phillips said. “It’s a lot of fundamentals with those guys, and that’s why we got Vance. He’s familiar with a lot of the teaching techniques that we utilize. Even though we have young players, we think we can improve them quickly. A lot of technique work, and we don’t want to give up big plays. That’s always been our philosophy.”   READ MORE

Matt Schaub tops list of NFL's most injury prone players - Houston Texans quarterback Matt Schaub is the NFL's most injury prone player, according to a list on foxsports.com.  "Let's face it, he's a likable guy," says writer Sid Saraf.  "He doesn't pop off at the mouth and he has tons of talent. Plus, men with a receding hairline always cut a sympathetic figure. But, he's gotta stay on the field. In 2007 he missed five games (concussion, separated shoulder) and another five in 2008 while dealing with knee problems. In his one complete campaign in 2009 he made the Pro Bowl. Coincidence?"   READ MORE

 

 


Stars coaching candidate: Willie Desjardins - The latest in a series on possible candidates for the head coaching job of the Dallas Stars looks at Willie Desjardins.  Currently-Associate coach of the Dallas Stars.  The résumé:  Hired as associate coach of the Dallas Stars in July 2010.  Coached eight seasons (2003-2010) with the Medicine Hat Tigers in the Western Hockey League, compiling a 333-182-61 regular season record and 65-43 mark in the playoffs. Was also general manager of Medicine Hat from 2005-10.   READ MORE

Stars officially announce return to PEI for training camp - Stars returning to Charlottetown.  The Dallas Stars made it official today, the NHL team is returning to Charlottetown in September to take part in a brief training camp.  That camp will, again, include an intra-squad game.  The camp is being held Sept. 15-20, one day longer than it went last year.  The intra-squad game will take place on Sunday, Sept. 18, at 6 p.m. Tickets are $20 each and are now on sale at the Charlottetown Civic Centre.   READ MORE

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