Expertise's Politics and Sports Blog

Saturday, March 12, 2005
Championship Week Saturday.

Nothing serious bubble-wise, as a good number of these teams will make it to the Dance.  Memphis tried to start their Cinderella push to get them there, but they fell short to Louisville by a free throw at the Conference USA title game. 

Darius Washington was fouled on a three point shot at the buzzer and down by two, but could only convert one of those three free throws.  That's a tough way to get left out, but maybe they can use that momentum to make a run in the NIT.

If Georgia Tech was a bubble team coming into Saturday's game against North Carolina, they aren't any longer.  Tech beat my Tarheels by three.  Sloppy officiating along with UNC allowing another flavor of the day to go wild, as Will Bynum put up 35 pts.  For some reason, Carolina has started a nasty habit of allowing one guy that's usually not the leader of the team to step up to look like a star.  They usually are able to step up and make a run at the end to close the game, but they weren't able to today. 

Even with all of that happening, McCants had a chance to cut the lead into single digits when he was fouled on a three point play, but only hit one of those three (Sound familiar, Memphis?).  They got the rebound off the third ft and McCants hit the three on the wing and made it a one point game.  But they foul Bynum on the other end, he hits his two, and McCants misses the buzzer beating three that could have sent the game into OT.

Games to watch tonight:  George Washington vs. St. Joseph's (the losing team could be left out of the Dance), Buffalo vs. Ohio (same situation there), Utah St. vs. Pacific, New Mexico vs. Utah, UTEP vs. Boise State.

Posted at 06:21 pm by Expertise
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Nichols is caught.

Alive, somehow.

We found out that he had jacked another car and took the female owner in it hostage, drove to her apartment in Gwinnett, and spent the night there.  Somehow, she left that morning (no one knows whether she escaped or he let her go) and she called Gwinnett police and they got him at her apartment.  Hence, it was a eerie end to a sad weekend in Metro Atlanta.

Oh yeah; CNN this morning caught security film of him walking down a flight of stairs right after he had jacked O'Briant's car, so it was a COMPLETE diversion.   O'Briant's car never left the parking garage.

Now that they have him, let's see some resignations.

I can go back to watching basketball for the rest of the weekend.  Carolina vs. Georgia Tech is on the tube right now.

Also:  Michael "Da" King has the breakdown of everything from the last 36 hours or so on his site.

Think about this too....The SEC Tournament was in Atlanta, about a block from where all of this went down.  Imagine what would have happened if one of the people Nichols had jacked was an SEC attendant.  How much more heat you think Atlanta and Fulton County would have had on their hands?


UPDATE:  Well, we find out what he did after he carjacked O'Briant.

He parked the car in the garage, went to the MARTA station (Check the map), got on the train at Dome/Phillps station and went to Five Points, transferred and went to Buckhead (Atlanta's party and entertainment district) by Lennox Station, robbed two people that WERE SEC tourists, went to the home of a federal immigration official, killed him and took his money and ID.  I guess the money wasn't enough, because he then grabbed the Gwinnett woman, probably around Lennox too.

Ain't that some shit?  If this guy really wanted to he could have been on the loose for days at a time and probably wouldn't have gotten caught inside Metro Atlanta.  Remember:  the only reason why he was caught was because the woman got away and called them up, not because of the cops.

Thank god I left that city.

Posted at 01:46 pm by Expertise
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Heads should roll.

There's no doubt about it.

I'm setting aside time away from Championship Week to talk about the Atlanta court murders on Friday.

Here's the accused rapist, Brian Nichols, was being guarded by a female deputy while he was changing from his jail jumpsuit to casual attire for his trial hearing, in which he was facing life in prison if convicted.  He had beaten her so badly that, according to emergency officials, they couldn't tell if she was beaten or shot. The female deputy was 51 years old and only five feet tall.  That's it.  He took her gun, and went straight for Judge Rowland Barnes's chambers, which is in the next building, through the skywalk.

At Barnes's chambers, Nichols demands to know where he is.  An assistant of Barnes hits the emergency button, and when a deputy responds he knocks the deputy out and takes his gun, which makes two guns he's taken from two different deputies.  Now he goes into the Barnes's courtroom, shot and killed Barnes, killed the court reporter, Julie Brandau, and runs out of the courtroom.

Nichols is able to run down eight flights of stairs with deputies chasing him and through an emergency exit door.  He runs across MLK Boulevard and into the Underground Atlanta parking garage.  In there, he kills a deputy and carjacks a SUV.  He gets out of the garage, gets on Peachtree Street, jacks a tow truck at gunpoint, goes down a one-way street.  He gets out of the tow truck at another parking garage, jacks another car that belonged to a female AJC computer programmer, and gets out.  He drives just about a block or two and he sees another guy parking his car in a garage.  He beats him up (it was AJC writer Don O'Briant, who tried to play cowboy and is lucky he isn't dead too) and takes his car, and that's the last anyone saw of him.  Oh; and they found the car in the same garage he carjacked O'Briant at later that night.

Georgia Governor Sonny "Ralphus" Perdue said, "It is a sad day for our country."  Our country?  Don't put the country into this; it's a sad day for YOUR STATE.  Frankly, I'm surprised this hasn't happened several times over.

Atlanta PD and Fulton County's Sheriff Department is so incompetent that this was bound to happen.  How in the world do you have a 51 year old grandma that's only five foot nothing standing guard over a former football player that weighed approx 210 pounds, and with no backup.  I guarantee you that happens quite often.

You would have thought as busy as that courthouse is (and it is quite busy) and the number of sheriff deputies there had to be in those buildings they would have been able to capture him in the building.  Not only was he able to damn near kill the guard, but was able to go into the next building, go into Judge Barnes's chambers and disarm another deputy, go into the courtroom and shoot that up before anyone realized what was going on.  Even then he still had enough of a head start that he was able to run down 8 flights to get out of the courthouse?

I'm going to say something real insensitive here:  I'd bet you this wouldn't happen in a rural area.  He might have gotten out of the courthouse, but he would have been found by now, probably in a car chase.  This wouldn't have happened in New York, because for one thing I'd imagine they'd know better than to have such loose security for someone accused of a violent crime.  Even if they did, I'd bet he couldn't get out of that building.   No, you see, Atlanta presented all the tools necessary to allow this to happen; weak security, incompetent justice system, incompetent PD and Sheriff's Department, and just enough people downtown in order to the precise amount of mass confusion and panic so he could slip right out of the city and out of sight.

Not only was this guy able to get the best of Atlanta and Fulton County's finest, but he left a pretty big FUCK YOU to go along with it...taking the time to go kill the judge presiding over his case, instead of simply leaving the courthouse after beating up the guard, and after they had been looking for him all day, left the car he jacked from O'Briant right in the same spot he got it.  None of these Deputy Dog-like cops can tell you how long the car has been there.  For all they know, he could have brought it back as soon as the EMT's left from picking up O'Briant.

So the way I see it, as soon as they find this guy - if they ever do - the following people need to step down:

- Fulton County Sheriff Myron Freeman

- Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard

- Atlanta Police Chief Richard Pennington

Add to that any immediate supervisors in charge of assigning inmate security.  People have been complaining about security measures at the courthouse and at Fulton County Jail for years.  Freeman should have addressed that immediately when he was elected last year.  Obviously, no such luck.  Howard has been Fulton's DA for a number of years, including running the show at the horribly botched Ray Lewis trial after the Super Bowl in 2000.  I would have thought the voters would have kicked him out on his ear then.  He never bothered to speak up or do anything about security either.  And any time a fugitive is able to move from the courthouse to Peachtree Street to Marietta Street without one cop actually finding him in the middle of the day, the blame lies upon Atlanta PD.  As many cops as I've seen day after day downtown farting around and playing grabass you would have thought they would have caught a guy in broad daylight who did three carjackings in an hour's time.

Of course, this won't happen, because the media wouldn't dare call for the heads of public officials in Atlanta short of murder, because they all happen to be black.  Besides, incompetence is a staple of Atlanta's public infrastructure.  I wouldn't be surprised if this happened again.

Posted at 06:51 am by Expertise
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Friday, March 11, 2005
Championship Week Friday

A lot of bubbles have burst over the course of the day today.

One of the bigger bubbles, Indiana, has a date with the NIT as they fell to Minnesota.  As I said before; 13 losses is simply too many for an at-large team to have in the Dance.  Minnesota stamped their ticket.  Virginia Tech never had a chance against Georgia Tech, which locks GT in firmly to the Dance and locks the Hokies firmly into the NIT.

UAB's bubble is looking pretty fragile after falling to Louisville.  It was a close game, but UAB needed that quality win in order to have a convincing case.  Now Conference USA's fate lays with the selection committee on whether they have only three teams or as many as five, as UAB beat bubble-team Depaul yesterday.

Texas Tech might have stamped their ticket today by beating Iowa State.  Iowa State, on the other hand, is going to have to have some luck, but I and others think they might slide in.  Miami (OH) is done after falling to Ohio tonight.  They had to at least get to the Mid-American Final, if not outright win it.

Also, I don't think anyone had Iowa upsetting Michigan State tonight 71-69, which all of a sudden gives them a compelling argument.  It gives them that quality win they needed, as they had yet to beat a ranked team.   If Iowa beats Minnesota tomorrow - and that's quite possible, considering both teams split games over the regular season - that would lock Iowa in and make the selection committee's job even harder.  In fact, that probably doesn't bode well for a team that fell this week but are still on the bubble.

Holy Cross's loss to Bucknell in the Patriot League final will probably have them left out of the Dance.  If it does, it's a crying shame, as most people have said the same thing about Davidson losing in their conference tourney last week to UNC-Greensboro.  I don't think you can tell any team in any conference that they can have only five losses overall (Holy Cross in the regular season), and win 16 games in a row going undefeated in conference play (Davidson went undefeated, HC only lost one game) and tell them that's not enough. 

If the selection committee does, I don't think that's right, particularly when you have so many mediocre teams trying to get in from the major conferences this year.  In fact, I think you have to give them dibs over other mid-majors like UTEP and St. Mary's, teams who have records that I'm not impressed by.  I'm probably wasting my breath, but still.

Tonight's games to keep an eye on is Temple vs. George Washington, Oregon State vs. Arizona, Buffalo vs. Western Michigan, Stanford vs. Washington, UTEP vs. Rice, and New Mexico vs. San Diego State.

Posted at 09:44 pm by Expertise
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Bubble Watch: Friday.

Probably the biggest upsets from last night was Oregon State's win over UCLA.  Even with this loss, UCLA gets in, but Oregon State could make a case if they get to the Pac-10 Final.

Vanderbilt's bubble burst as they fell to Auburn in the SEC first round.  George Washington kept their hopes alive in the A-10 tourney by beating Fordham, as well as St. Joe's win over Richmond.  Buffalo continued their winning ways by beating Toledo, and some analysts have them as a lock.  I disagree.  Colorado's huge upset against Texas has the Longhorns quite nervous, but I think they'll eventually get in.  And Arizona State is NIT-bound after not sealing the deal against Washington.

Nothing significant going on in the early afternoon, other than a surprising performance by Clemson that has them up against UNC by nine midway through the second half.

Posted at 01:41 pm by Expertise
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The Contender recap: Jesse vs. Jonathan

(Photo: Yahoo's "The Contender" Page)

The drama continued between Ishe and Ahmed, as they exchanged words during Ishe's sparring.  They almost came to blows until Stallone had seen enough and sent Ahmed into his office to chill out.

After that stuff blew over, Sly then rewarded Alfonso for winning the first fight against Peter.  His reward?  A boxing glove pendant, similar to the one from Rocky V AND Alfonso gets to heal until after the seventh fight.  That's a heck of a reward, and Alfonso definitely deserved it.

For winning the mission in the last episode, the West Coast team got to meet two-time heavyweight boxing champion George Foreman.  The guys marked out, as Foreman has been a success in and out of the boxing ring (my momma got two of his grills).  They talked in the gym, and a couple of them showed how well they could use the speed bag. 

Afterwards, Foreman had a BBQ with them, and he dispensed knowledge on how to carry themselves and actually have a plan to move forward in their careers.  "Plan your work, then work your plan" was Foreman's advice, meaning think things through, and then use your emotions and ambition to move forward.  This really struck home with Ishe, and he started to feel as if he was being led into a fight with Ahmed, which could be a trap for him.  This was where things started to change.

The mission this week had the teams in a football stadium, where they had to run up to the top of the stands, grab flags, and bring them back down to the base.  The trick was that they couldn't run down with the flag until the whole team had gotten to the top and they couldn't go back up to get another one until the whole team was back on the field.  Each time they brought a flag to the field one team member could stay until they had all five flags.  Once they had all the flags, part two of the mission was a puzzle they had to figure out and complete.  In the first part, East Coast actually finished first with the West not far behind, but the puzzle proved to be a little more difficult for the East.  The West won another mission, which meant they got to pick the main event.

Of course, the West members automatically thought it would be the inevitable Ishe vs. Ahmed grudge match, but Ishe backed out, saying he didn't want to fight him right now because emotions were riding too high and he wants to wait it out.  Jesse was obviously disgusted by this, and stepped up to fight.

So the main event was Jesse Brinkley vs. Jonathan Reid.   Jesse, 28, had two kids with his girlfriend, Colleen in Nevada.  Jonathan, 32, was a Nashville native who had 4 kids and one on the way, as his wife, Anna, was constantly shown as if she had a watermelon tucked under her shirt.  So yeah; the baby making business is quite good.

The press conference had more sparks than last week, as not only did Ishe and Ahmed get into it again (the extended coverage of Ishe/Ahmed is on Yahoo's The Contender Page, as they didn't air their words on national television), but they also alienated themselves from their teams.  Jesse and Ishe got into words because Jesse felt he chickened out.  Ishe confronted Jesse right then and there at the table, and it looked as if they were about to get into it.  Then out of nowhere Ahmed pops up at the table, and the East Coast members, tired of Ahmed's attitude, speaks their minds.  All through this Jonathan was silent until one of the press journalists (I've seen her before but forgot her name, but she is hot) decides to get him to speak up, and he does a good job with the cliches.  Jonathan came off as a pretty cool guy, and I thought he would win the fight.

In the fight (and please note; I saw the extended version on Yahoo), once again it seemed as if nervousness took another prisoner, as Jonathan simply was not busy enough and fell victim to combinations and counterpunches.  He gave Jesse some trouble early in the fight, but he couldn't seem to get it together in the later rounds.  Jesse won by a unaminous decision, and Jonathan had to walk that empty hall, trying to decide if he wanted to continue his boxing career.

At least Jonathan did have something to look forward to, as his wife had another baby girl.  They didn't show the delivery on air, but the clips are online at Yahoo's The Contender Page.  At least he'll have time to play with her now.  It was a nice moment.

The Contender will move to it's permanent time, Sundays at 8:00 EST.  I expect the drama to continue between Ishe vs. Ahmed vs. the rest of the fighters.  In fact, that Ishe/Ahmed fight will probably happen sooner rather than later, as they will probably be pushed into it through the collusion of both teams.  Should be interesting to watch.

My Other Contender Posts:

1.  The Contender Quarterfinals:  Ishe vs. Sergio
2.  The Contender, Episode Eight:  Jimmy vs. Joey
3.  The Contender Episode Seven:  Juan vs. Tarick
4.  The Contender Episode Six:  Anthony vs. Brent
5.  The Contender Episode Three:  Ishe vs. Ahmed

Posted at 06:23 am by Expertise
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Thursday, March 10, 2005
Championship Week Thursday: Part II.

Not a lot of surprises this afternoon, but some key games did affect the NCAA Tournament:

First, NC State kept their Dance hopes alive by easily beating Florida State.  They looked shaky in the second half, but they weren't in any real trouble as they led all game, and a significant part of it by 20.

That doesn't mean they're a lock.  NC State still has to beat Wake tomorrow.  The good thing is that Chris Paul won't play in that game.  But they're guaranteed to have that bubble burst if they can't get it done, regardless of what the analysts say.  So all today's game meant is that they're still on the bubble instead of them being an afterthought like Maryland.

Also, Depaul fell to UAB today by three in Conference USA action.  That keeps UAB alive and has Depaul hoping someone falls tonight or tomorrow.  I don't have them completely out, but they're in the same shape as Notre Dame right now, if not worse.  UAB, however, can lock it up with an upset against Louisville tomorrow.  That's possible, as they took Louisville to the limit last month, and came up short by four.

Mississippi St beat Georgia, but they'll have to do a little more to make me think they should be considered.  Iowa State beat Baylor in an easy victory.  I'm not sure if that makes them a lock, but they'll have a strong case.  I'd place them as one if they come up with the victory against Texas Tech tomorrow.  Iowa beat Purdue, but they'll probably have to make the Big-12 final in order to get in.

Tonight's games:  Miami vs. Virginia; Oregon State is leading UCLA late in that game, which could put UCLA back on the bubble; Georgetown vs. UConn; George Washington vs. Fordham; Texas A&M vs. Kansas St.; Arizona St. vs. Washington; Vandy vs. Auburn; Stanford vs. Washington St.

Posted at 07:42 pm by Expertise
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Championship Week Thursday: Part I.

The bubble burst for Maryland today, as they lost to Clemson by double digits.  I think it's safe to say that they're NIT-bound, as everyone has agreed that losing three times to Clemson cannot be ignored by the selection committee.

Meanwhile, West Virginia stamped their ticket today by upsetting ACC-bound Boston College, and rather impressively.  West Virginia led by as much as 25 early in the game, and when BC made their run, they were able to endure it and eventually put it away in the final minutes of the game.

Will the Big East be able to get seven teams into the tournament?  It's still possible.  Notre Dame certainly has a problem, but there's a lot of basketball to be played between now and Friday night.  I'm sure they won't be the only bubble team that will flounder before it's all said and done.

In other news, Louisville keeps their outside shot at a #1 seed alive by handling TCU in the first round of the C-USA Tourney.  Buffalo kept their bubble alive by handling Toledo.  St Joseph's is alive too by beating Richmond

The key afternoon games pit NC State vs. Florida State, Villanova vs. Pitt (winner could sneak a #3 seed after BC's flounder), Utah vs. Colorado State, mid-major bubble Akron vs. Western Michigan, mid-major bubble UTEP vs. Hawaii and Iowa St. vs. Baylor.

Posted at 03:17 pm by Expertise
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Congress subpoenas baseball stars.

If you haven't heard, The House Committee on Government Reform is ready to issue subpoenas on several baseball stars and MLB personnel to appear at a hearing on steroid use in baseball on March 17.

The Committee claims the new policies that Major League Baseball has put in effect this season may not be enough, and has called these guys to appear:

- Mark McGwire
- Jason Giambi
- Curt Schilling
- Jose Canseco
- Rafael Palmeiro
- Sammy Sosa
- Frank Thomas

and also Donald Fehr, the head of the MLB Players Association, MLB Executive VPs Rob Manfred and Sandy Alderson, and San Diego Padres General Manager Kevin Towers.

Just looking at this whole scene on the face of it alone shows that this is a waste of time.  Congress has no legitimate justification for meddling in the affairs of Major League Baseball to begin with. 

They claim their aim, as Reps. Tom Davis and Henry Waxman said in a statement released Wednesday, is to "better understand the steps MLB is taking to get a handle on the steroid issue, and whether news of those steps -- and the public health danger posed by steroid use -- is reaching America's youth.''

And Rep. Cliff Sterns said this:

``We're trying to get to the bottom of the steroid problem...Are they being used in high school? Are they being used in college? Are they being used in professional sports? And what are we doing do stop this, because it is a felony? What is the baseball commissioner doing?''

The problem is, there's no evidence that this is a widespread problem, or there's any major trafficking in any of these areas.  Congress is going off of hearsay; lot of which hasn't been verified as fact.  On top of that, there's already a federal grand jury investigation that has had several players testify already, so not only is Congress spinning wheels, but they could be obstructing the investigation.  And they already know what the baseball commissioner is doing.  Why didn't they simply subpoena Bud Selig if that's what they wanted to know?

Of course, none of that really matters because Congress's default explanation for having any kind of hearing is because they're Congress and they can do what they want.  MLB can fight those subpoenas  - and they should - but those players will be forced to come to Washington "in the public's interest".

Congress knows none of the players they subpoenaed probably wouldn't be able to point to a group or an individual that supplies a considerable number of athletes, whether they're professional, college, or in high school.  Even if they could, they won't because they'd immediately plead the fifth, as that information could be used against them in, say, that federal grand jury investigation. 

Dan Patrick even interviewed former Democratic Presidential Candidate (yea right) Dennis Kucinich Wednesday, who said it's necessary that the hearings don't turn into a witch hunt.  But it's almost guaranteed to turn into one, as they will try to press these guys on what they know about steroid use in their locker rooms and whether they've been approached by anyone.  That sure sounds like a witch hunt to me.  They definitely didn't subpoena Jose Canseco to get his expert opinion of the new steroid policies.

Some of these guys, like Curt Schilling and Frank Thomas, have not been accused of steroid use and have been calling for MLB's cleanup for years.  What's the purpose of sending them to Washington?  Does Congress expect them to give testimony as to who was doing what and even what they overheard?  Do they actually believe Schilling and Thomas will rat out their teammates?  Give me a break.

To show this hearing is definitely a fraud is the fact that they didn't subpoena Barry Bonds, who is probably the highest profiled athlete connected to the steroid scandal.  They didn't want Bonds because they know he doesn't mind telling the politicians on that committee what he thinks of them.  If you think he was pissed off at the media at the press conference on March 1st, imagine how he'd feel if Congress forced him to fly cross-country to testify in some sham hearings.  It would be a circus, and that if his lawyer didn't force him to plead the fifth in every other breath.

Instead of wasting time on baseball's steroid issue, why don't Waxman, Davis, and the rest of the committee live true to it's name and reform government?  I'm sure the American people would appreciate that a little more than their elected representatives wasting time and taxpayers money dwelling on an issue that they can't solve and have no business getting into in the first place.

Never mind.  As the old folks would say, that would be too much like right.

Posted at 04:28 am by Expertise
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Bubble Watch.

Not good at all if you're a Notre Dame fan.

Notre Dame fell tonight to Rutgers, who was in last place in the Big East.

That's an ugly loss folks.  And it didn't help things that their fellow bubble teams pulled out some good wins, either.

Georgetown, who had lost their last five games, beat Seton Hall 56-51West Virginia routed Providence 82-59, which is probably a margin good enough to place them as a lock.  In Conference USA, Depaul can be considered a lock with an solid win against Tulane.  They better hope that someone in the ACC or the Big 10 flounders in the first round.

In other news, Houston fell to 12-15 South Florida tonight, so there's no need to mention them any longer.

Posted at 02:19 am by Expertise
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