Expertise's Politics and Sports Blog

Sunday, March 06, 2005
Folks, this says it all:

(Photo:  AP/Gary Broome via ESPN)

This kid deserves all the accolades he's getting tonight.  All I ask is that he doesn't go pro after this season.

Posted at 10:24 pm by Expertise
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I'm going to liveblog this the rest of the way.

16:00 - Carolina is dominating the paint, as too much Sean May and Jawad Williams for Shelden Williams to handle.  However, Duke's superior arc shooting is keeping them in the game. 

May's first half line:  17pts, 9 rebs, 3 asts.  Great first half, and I think if he can continue it he'll have a strong argument for ACC player of the year.

13:00 - Both teams need to get a hold of this game, as they're starting to play sloppy.  Duke is doing a better job defending in the paint, as Randolph got three blocks in this half despite having three fouls.  On the other end, Shelden Williams is starting to find his stride in the paint.

9:00 - Carolina's playing like garbage right now.  Not taking advantage of open jumpers, and they're allowing Duke to have their way with them in the paint.  And take note that Reddick hasn't done anything in this half.  While Shelden Williams is having a great defensive day, the refs are letting a lot go.  I'm not going to say WHY that's happening right now.

And as I'm typing this, Randolph gets his fourth foul.

6:00 - Melchionni is looking like a pro, or at least that's what Carolina is allowing him to look.  Every one of the threes he's hit in this game have been wide open because they are trying to keep Reddick pinned down.  It's time for Roy Williams to change game plans because that isn't working.  Carolina's also continuing to miss open shots.

4:00 - Shelden Williams is going to work, as he continues to make some great shots in the paint for Duke.  Only problem is, he keeps missing free throws.  That could hurt them as the clock runs down.

If Carolina could actually hit half the open jumpers they've missed, they'd probably would be up by double digits.  Instead, they're down by four.

3:00 - Duke is up by nine.  Once again, they leave Melchionni wide open for the three.  Carolina looks confused, and no one can buy a basket.  The one thing that went for the Heels is that Randolph has fouled out, which will open up the paint.  But it may be too little too late.

1:44 - May makes it a two point game after being fouled in the paint.  They are now starting to press, which is frustrating Duke.

27 tics - there must be an angel on Carolina's shoulder, because they were able to steal the ball and call the timeout.  Here we go..foul on Nelson, Carolina goes to the line.

17 ticks - Unbelievable.  UnFREAKINbelievable.  Felton misses his second ft, Williams gets the rebound, puts it back up, hits a basket and the foul...hits the free throw, carolina up by 2.   
CAROLINA WON MY GODDDDDDDDD....everyone is storming the court!!!!  You can't see nothing but BLUUUUUEEEEEEEEE

Posted at 05:23 pm by Expertise
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More upsets.

Florida beat Kentucky today with a very impressive performance by Alvin Robertson and some clutch shooting by Matt Walsh.  That means the number one and three teams going down in flames today.

Add the number seven team in the nation to it.  Mizzou beat Kansas by four today.

My first thoughts on the Carolina game:  May is playing huge in the paint, but the backcourt needs to step in and get some shots in from the arc.  Duke is already in foul trouble, which will cause problems down the stretch and there is no one for Duke that can handle May right now.  Carolina started slow, but they are starting to make this a ballgame.

Posted at 04:36 pm by Expertise
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Folks, I'm trying to calm myself down.

I just saw the huge upset by Ohio State defeating the THEN-undefeated Illinois Fighting Illini by one point.

An outstanding game.  Ohio State never gave up, even though they were down by double digits at the half.  In the last 2 minutes of the game, they got some huge baskets to roll in along with a big block on the defensive end.

At the end, Matt Sylvester was the hero, hitting the deciding basket from beyond the arc to give Ohio State it's only lead with 5 seconds left, and a couple of defensive stops put an end to Illi's undefeated season.

Ohio State won't get into the dance this year, but they just closed their season with a win they'll never forget.  I'm sure they won't mind that as a consolation prize.

UPDATE:  I bet Deron Williams would like to take this back from earlier in the week.  And I suppose this website can be shut down too.

College basketball is the focus of the day.  I'm watching Kentucky vs. Florida right now, and I will be ready for Duke at Carolina; hopefully I'll have some kind of voice left after that.

You know, sometimes you got to love CBS.  CBS Sports, that is.

Posted at 02:13 pm by Expertise
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Niger cancels emancipation ceremony.

Check this out:

The government of Niger has cancelled at the last minute a special ceremony during which at least 7,000 slaves were to be granted their freedom.

A spokesman for the government's human rights commission, which had helped to organise the event, said this was because slavery did not exist.   

It is not clear why the government, which was also a co-sponsor of the ceremony, changed its position.

According to the BBC, there are over 40,000 slaves in captivity in Niger.  Of course, the government denies this by using the "see no evil, hear no evil" method, and that's why this ceremony was cancelled.

Hell, why have a ceremony?  Just let them go free and be done with it. 

Posted at 05:26 am by Expertise
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Saturday, March 05, 2005
Payton's back in Boston.

Well, when I heard about Gary Payton being traded from the Celtics to Atlanta I thought it was a stupid move by the Hawks, who really wasn't getting anything out of it because Payton would not resign with them at the end of the season.

My bad.  That was dumb of me; I forgot what league I was talking about.  You see, this is the NBA, where players don't have to report to the team they're traded to if they don't like it.  Thus, Payton probably never stepped foot in Hartsfield Airport.  And what does Atlanta do?  They cut him so he could resign with the Boston Celtics.

You can't really blame Payton for this.  This is a "don't hate the player, hate the game" kinda thing.  After all; the option was given to him, and he looked out for his own interests.  Payton and Walker hustled the Hawks, and now with the trio of Payton, Pierce, and Walker, they are a threat to go deep in the Eastern Conference playoffs.

The blame goes to the Hawks, who has been "rebuilding" ever since they got rid of Steve Smith and Dikembe Mutombo and fired Lenny Wilkens five years ago.  They knew Payton wasn't going to play in Atlanta, because he almost pulled that stunt in Boston at the beginning of the year.  If he was skeptical going to Boston, you had to know Payton felt he was too good to play with the worst team in the league.

So let's see what Atlanta got out of all this:  they got Gary Payton, who didn't show up and had his contract bought out; Michael Stewart, who hasn't shown up and wants the same thing (who the hell is he anyway?).  So that leaves Tom Gugliotta and a first round draft pick.  They would have been better off cutting Walker from his contract and just be done with it all.  At the very least, the Celtics organization should say "thank you" to those dopes in the Hawks front office. 

Meanwhile, Hawks "fans" can look forward to another 11-70 season next year. Yay.

Posted at 05:50 am by Expertise
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Thursday, March 03, 2005
The Senate filibuster.

Several Democrats continue to moan and groan about the Republicans' latest attempts to neutralize Senate filibusters.  One of the latest, done by Senator Robert "Sheets" Byrd from West Virginia, resulted in a rebuke by the Anti-Defamation League.

"We, unlike Nazi Germany or Mussolini's Italy, have never stopped being a nation of laws, not of men," Byrd said. "But witness how men with motives and a majority can manipulate law to cruel and unjust ends."

Ignore Byrd's Nazi reference - and the irony of him discussing it - for a second.  Byrd's comments on how the Republicans "manipulate law" don't hold water once you look at the history of the filibuster.

You see, the process of how filibusters are used have changed over the decades.  It has evolved from a legislative stunt where a senator has to stand and continue speaking until the bill was taken off the floor or cloture (where 67% of the present Senators voted to take the floor from the speaker) was approved.  Even then, cloture wasn't approved until 1917, which meant that one Senator could hold up Senate progress as long as he was physically able to.

Robert Byrd understands the importance of the filibuster because he implemented one in order to block the Civil Rights Act of 1964; a filibuster that lasted 14 hours and thirteen minutes.  He would have continued if it wasn't for Democratic Whip Hubert Humphrey finally negotiating the necessary 67 votes to gain cloture, forcing Byrd off the floor.  It was only the second time in Senate history that a filibuster had been beaten through cloture.

But even filibusters those days are more reasonable than today. After all, speaking for over 14 hours isn't a walk in the park. Filibusters then required you to stand up and use physical exertion.

Today's filibusters don't. All you have to do is simply say "I'm filibustering", and the only way the blocked legislation can come to the floor is through cloture.

Why? Because only the "threat" of a filibuster is sufficient enough to keep legislation from coming onto the floor. After all, Senators have to constantly meet very important lobbyists, attend Washington dinners and fundraisers, and make their trips all over the world. Judicial nominees? Presidential appointments? Doing their jobs? That's not important enough.

Now the Republicans are trying to pass what they call the "nuclear option", which will reduce the cloture requirement from 60 to a simple majority of 51.  This pretty much kills the filibuster entirely, because a filibuster's power is to be used as a final option for legislation that will pass if placed on the Senate floor.

Personally, I don't like the nuclear option.  I think filibusters should be allowed to stay in the Senate.  However, place it back in the old school setting:  force Senators who use it to get their butts up in front of the chamber and talk until their hearts' - or healths' - content.  Republicans need to grow some backbone and force the Democrats to put up or shut up.

Posted at 09:02 pm by Expertise
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Wednesday, March 02, 2005
The problem with college basketball officials.

Without dwelling into the Cheney goon incident again (which I'm tired of hearing about), the biggest problem I have with it wasn't necessarily the fact that Cheney decided to execute this stunt.  Rather, I am surprised that the officials seemed as if they were impervious to it and didn't realize this was going on.

As I stated before, if the officials would have been doing their job, Ingram would have been out of that game within three fouls, and that's allowing one to slide.  All of Ingram's fouls were hard shots, and could have easily been seen as intentional or flagrant.  All it takes is two of those for Ingram to be ejected.

As long as most college officials have been calling basketball, there's no doubt in my mind that these officials recognized this too.  So why didn't they call it?  Ultimately no one will ever know the answer, since officials are not allowed to talk to the media about their games, but I think it comes down to a combination of things.

First, the officials don't run that floor, particularly if you have a popular or "legendary" coach on it.  Cheney qualifies as one of those coaches, and there are several others.  Those kind of coaches are allowed to literally get away with murder on that court, and they won't get teched, and often influence officials' future calls.  Ever notice an official standing right by a bench talking with a coach during a free throw?  That's what's going on.

On the Triangle's sports station, 850 The Buzz, afternoon drive time host and program manager Adam Gold has had two great interviews in the last two days:  one with a writer with ACC Sports Journal and another that I've forgotten.  Anyway, one of the key topics they've discussed is the lack of respect shown by coaches in the ACC towards officials and the resulting high turnover of officials within the ACC.  A lot of heat was placed on ACC officials supervisor Fred Bearcat by Gold as well.

One thing Gold and others have brought up are the F-bombs that have been hurled by Coach K and Maryland coach Gary Williams onto officials and there are constant confrontations on almost every call by those coaches and sometimes by the assistant coaches.  Sure; criticism can go towards those coaches, but it also should be placed upon the ACC head offices and officials for allowing this kind of disrespect to go on.

The very first time a coach hurls a profanity, he should be teched.  Period.  End of story.  And then he should be told to sit his behind down and not to get up for the rest of the game, or he'll be ejected in accordance to basketball regulations.  But those coaches have won national championships in a conference that consistently is one of the best in the nation every year, and thus pressure will be placed on the game officials to allow them to act in that manner.  After all, no one wants a coach to be ejected out of a game.  But that's precisely what has to happen if college basketball - ACC, A-10, or whomever - wants to get a hold on the officials problem.

I was listening to former NC State standout Chris Corchiani on Gold's show vent his frustration about basketball officials, saying the best officials are the ones that you don't realize are there.  I agree with that, but the most important thing is that the officials have control of that court first.  That can't happen if you have everyone and their mothers disrespecting you; from the players on the court to the people in the stands. 

Thus, why stay in the ACC, where you are going to be subjected to tons of stress and harrassment, when you can go to the SEC or another D-1 conference that has less egos involved and the officials can control the games a little better, and possibly has a better support base?  You might not make as much money there, but at least you won't have to risk a heart attack.

Gold has come up with the idea that officials should be able to talk to the media in press conferences after the game.  The only problem with this is that internal problems within the conferences must be addressed first.  Also, there are just some things that are not going to be addressed due to the politics behind them.  That's just a fact of life, albeit sad.  But if the officials don't mind addressing some situations in a game, I don't see anything wrong with that once some problems are fixed.

Contrast this to the NBA.  Last night, Rick Carlisle was ejected from the Pacers/Bucks game.  When's the last time you've heard of that happening to Krzyzewski, or any other ACC coach?  College basketball has allowed the coaches to become bigger than the game, and the game is what's suffering.

Posted at 05:59 pm by Expertise
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Tuesday, March 01, 2005
Middle East transformation.

(via Yahoo)

Quite a day in the Middle East, as two events continue to rock that region day after day.  First, 2,000 Iraqis went to the site of yesterday's terrible explosion and demonstrated against terror.  Next, both domestic and international pressure has forced Syrian "President" Bashar al-Assad to pull troops out of Lebanon in the next few months.

When I first heard about the Bush Administration's plan to invade Iraq back in 2002, I was quite skeptical of the objectives of neoconservatives into using Iraq as a base to spread democracy and eliminate terrorism and totalitarianism at the same time.  I still am, but the political changes that are erupting throughout the Middle East in the wake of the Iraqi elections are amazing, not just by the size of them but also how quickly they've manifested.  There have been democracy movements in the Middle East prior to the Iraqi conflict, but nothing has provided this kind of push.

Not only has Iraq's opposition to terror and Syria's pressure to leave Lebanon been significant, but Egypt's Hosni Mubarak has announced presidential elections for Egypt starting this fall.  Palestinian elections, which resulted in the election of President Abu Mazen, has resulted in a more conciliatory tone from Israel and it's prime minister, Ariel Sharon.

What's next?  Will Pakistan and Saudi Arabia follow?  It's possible, as democratic pressures are falling upon both regimes.  However, should Americans be skeptical that democracy will bring in the peace and prosperity that will resonate throughout the Arabic World, or will Islamic fundamentalists work within the system to hijack the governments?  Once the initial push for democracy wears off, only time will tell if they are willing to reject the militant organizations that work within their countries altogether.

And finally, can the Bush Administration take responsibility for the surge in democratic activity in the Middle East?  It's possible.  Once they proved terrorism would not control Iraq and will eventually fail through the execution of January's elections, it gave other movements in the Middle East motivation.  They can't take it all, but they can claim to have taken the lead in seeing it through.

Posted at 07:09 pm by Expertise
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Friday, February 25, 2005
Why can't Serena look like this all the time?

I mean, any other time she looks like crap.  If she looked like this all the time a kat would actually feen over her.

Posted at 12:34 am by Expertise
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