Expertise's Politics and Sports Blog

Tuesday, March 29, 2005
Carolina Panthers players accused of steroid use.

Just when I thought we got over the hurdle with the Rae Carruth murder, now we have this happen:

Carolina Panthers Todd Sauerbrun and Jeff Mitchell and former player Todd Steussie had steroid prescriptions filled by a West Columbia, S.C., doctor now under investigation by federal authorities, according to a ``60 Minutes Wednesday'' report.

In a release Tuesday, the CBS News show said the players all had prescriptions for testosterone cream filled within two weeks of the Panthers' appearance in the 2004 Super Bowl.

According to CBS News, they'd been getting prescriptions filled from Dr. James Shortt for over a span of eight months, which pretty much since the beginning of training camp.  Sauerbrun - a punter, of all players - was also injecting the steroid Stanozolol as well as using the testosterone cream.

It's real simple; John Fox should cut all three.  In fact, they should have been cut yesterday.  It's one thing to simply come up positive, but there's evidence that these guys constantly did steroids throughout the year.    The Panthers organization needs to cut their losses with these guys immediately.

And don't think those guys will be the only ones busted:

The Panthers have been cooperating with a federal subpoena that sought contact information for several players as part of the probe of Shortt.

Hurney has stressed that none of the team's players have tested positive for steroids.

According to a report last month in The State of Columbia, Shortt has been under investigation since May.

In September, authorities raided Shortt's Health Dimensions office and Congaree Pharmacy near the Columbia Metropolitan Airport. State and federal agents seized computer data, at least 21 boxes of patient and medical records and 256 audio cassettes, the paper reported.

The ``60 Minutes Wednesday'' report also includes an interview with a former employee of Shortt, Mignon Simpson, who says she personally shipped human growth hormone to NFL players and that possibly a half-dozen players received hGH from Shortt.

There is no reliable test for hGH.

Also, Todd Steussie is now an offensive lineman for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.  Could it be that he send some of those guys to South Carolina to go roid shopping?

More on this James Shortt guy.  Shortt is an orthopedic doctor outside of Columbia, South Carolina.  To put it plainly, he's a quack.  And a very dangerous quack at that.  CBS News found out about the Panthers players due to an expose' on Shortt for injecting peroxide into his patients as an alternative treatment.  Before this federal investigation on steroid trafficking, as autopsies of two of his patients pointed to peroxide poisoning.  One patient took the trip from Minnesota to South Carolina to take the peroxide injections to treat multiple sclerosis.  Less than a week after the first treatment (she went twice), she was dead.

Another patient's tale was even worse.  Shortt told a patient that he had Lyme Disease, and told him there was a risk that he could pass it on to his wife through sexual contact (which was a lie).  This couple paid Shortt over $26,000 over eight months to treat him with the peroxide injections and also gave him testosterone cream at the same time another doctor was giving him medicine to lower his testosterone levels.  All of it was in vain because doctors tested him before he died and neither him or his wife had Lyme disease.

The SC medical board recommended to a state judge that his medical license be revoked.  However, the judge ruled against the state board due to procedural violations, as he wasn't given a full hearing in front of them.  The incompetence of the SC judicial system allowed him to continue to practice medicine to this day.

CBS did the Shortt story in January, so I'm almost sure that they got his patient list and knew about the Panthers players last year.  Why didn't they come out with this earlier?  Were they waiting for sweeps? 

A lot of people call this "Balco East".  But the difference is that these guys weren't taking steroids that could beat the drug tests, or from all accounts they shouldn't.  Now questions will arise about how effective these NFL drug tests are.  On the surface, it doesn't look like it is.  Suddenly, the NFL is starting to look like the old ESPN drama "Playmakers".

Posted at 11:13 pm by Expertise
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Johnnie Cochran is dead.

Drudge is reporting it right now.

I've also had word that the National Enquirer stated Cochran had brain cancer about a few weeks ago and that death was imminent.


UPDATE:  I was on Okayplayer when someone posted about this, and one of the responses was "Where was HIS feeding tube?"  People are so retarded.

UPDATE:  I found a story by the National Enquirer from October stating Cochran almost died after receiving chemotherapy threatment.  So this was probably it.

Posted at 06:15 pm by Expertise
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The Blogosphere can be a cut-throat world.

If you haven't heard about it already, the blogger known as GayPatriot recently quit contributing to the website, leaving one single blogger. 

Yesterday, we found out what happened.  Charles Johnson at Little Green Footballs linked to a posting at Outlet Radio.  According to Christian Grantham, GayPatriot was threatened with a boycott of the corporation where he was employed due to a post on his blog:

On Friday, GayPatriot posted "WANTED: GAY TERRORISTS" in which he identified gay activists and bloggers John Aravosis (Americablog) and Michael Rogers (BlogActive) as terrorists.

Wanted for crimes against the gay community. Wanted for repeatedly conducting outing witch hunts against gays who do not believe in radical liberal anti-American ideals. For repeated violations of privacy of gay Americans. For conducting systematic civil liberties attacks on gay Americans.

WANTED! Let's do something about these gay terrorists who have infected our community with their hatred and self-loathing bigotry of gay Americans who wish to live their lives in peace.
[WANTED: GAY TERRORISTS - GayPatriot - 03-25-05]

Anyone who kept up with the recent Jeff Gannon scandal should recognize Aravosis, as he was the one who went muckraking to find out about Gannon's homosexual past.  I'm not as familiar with Rogers, though.

As you can tell, Patriot wasn't accusing Rogers or Aravosis of being terrorists in the literal sense.  It can be argued that it was a poor choice of words.  But that's no excuse for how Rogers reacted:

According to GayPatriot, who is also a client of mine, Michael Rogers called GayPatriot's place of employment on Friday immediately following the post above and spoke to GayPatriot's secretary and boss. GayPatriot had no idea Rogers would go to such measures and shared with me that both he and his secretary were very upset by the calls but that his boss was understanding.

Later on that day, Rogers personally called me and recounted much of the same account, adding that he had also called the police and is working with the authorities on the matter. Rogers expressed feeling threatened by the post and compared it to posts by anti-abortionists who posted the names of doctors performing them.

Rogers also said he asked GayPatriot to remove the post and replace it with a post about non-violence or he would launch a national boycott of GayPatriot's corporate employer and pursue any and all avenues necessary to protect himself. By the time Rogers had called, GayPatriot had already made the decision to remove the post and also remove GayPatriot from the blogosphere.

GayPatriot was silenced.

This sort of behavior is inexcusable.  People have lives, and Rogers tried to ruin GayPatriot's life because of a post he didn't like.  Rogers's weak excuse for manner in this manner is a load of bs, and he knows it.

That's the main reason why I've yet to decide in revealing my name, because I don't want some nutjob on the internet to dig into my personal life and try to ruin it because he didn't like what I wrote.  And this isn't the first time it's happened; Hindrocket at Powerline experienced the wrath of the moonbats as well, as they called his law office and harrassed him and his secretary from his defense of Jeff Gannon over a month ago.

This also exposes the intolerance of the ones that are preaching tolerance, especially within their own "group".  Rogers and Aravosis's witchhunts prove they are more than willing to do whatever it takes to eliminate their opposition.  They're no better than the McCarthyists from the 50s or several other figures I'm sure they'd claim to despise.

I guess it's too much to ask for people to leave their emotions in their writings and keep it from stemming into each others' personal lives.  Some people don't know how to respond to criticism other than through making people as miserable as they are.

I hope this incident doesn't scare bloggers to cave in to threats like these.  Freedom of speech is all the blogosphere has, and it's what gives the blogosphere special.  Freedom of speech is what gives people the courage to stand up and speak against the injustices of the world.  When something goes down, the blogosphere is the first one to talk about it.  When something smells fishy, the blogosphere is the first one investigate it. 

In a world where double speak and spin are at it's highest peak, political blogs are an important part of the political spectrum.  If bloggers start giving in to scare tactics and intimidation, we're no better than the media and the politicians that we criticize.

Posted at 07:18 am by Expertise
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Monday, March 28, 2005
Minutemen volunteers targeted by Central American gang.

I haven't discussed the Minuteman Project, which is a volunteer group that will monitor the Arizona/Mexico border and run off illegal immigrants.  After all, Barber and Malkin do a better job cheerleading that and other immigration issues than I do.

But my ears did perk up when I read about "Mara Salvatrucha", which is a South American gang threatening to attack the Minutemen in order teach them "a lesson".  Here's why:

The MS-13 gang has established major smuggling operations in several areas along the U.S.-Mexico border and have transported hundreds of Central and South Americans -- including gang members -- into the United States in the past two years. The gang also is involved in drug and weapons smuggling.

Gang members in America have been tied to numerous killings, robberies, burglaries, carjackings, extortion, rapes and aggravated assaults. Authorities said that the gang has earned a reputation from the other street gangs as being particularly ruthless and that it will retaliate violently when challenged.

In other words, they'd lose too much money.  Organizations like these make a fortune smuggling illegal immigrants across the Mexican border, and I wouldn't be surprised to hear that these guys set up black market operations in the U.S. to provide assistance to them (driver's licenses, SS numbers, bank accounts, etc).

The Minutemen shouldn't blow this threat off.  It only takes one death to give Bush an excuse to act upon it (and the fact that he's labelling them as "vigilantes" is a crying shame).  I think Bush's attitude towards the Mexican government shows he'll be more concerned about the supposed trouble the Minutemen are causing rather than foreign gangs smuggling illegal immigrants in the country and are willing to attack any American that stands in their way.

Posted at 05:44 pm by Expertise
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Terri Schiavo and Elian Gonzalez.

Drudge linked to a column by John Fund of the Wall Street Journal that exposes the hypocrisy of leftists calling for Terri Schiavo to die, in which they contradict many of the same overtures they made during the Elian Gonzalez trials:

What's ironic about the Schiavo case is that this was another custody battle, it climaxed during Easter Weekend, and it involved the same courts.  In the Gonzalez case, Janet Reno acted on a completely criminal search warrant to raid the Gonzalez home and send Elian Gonzalez back to Fidel Castro.

If you don't remember it, here's how the case went down:

The stalemate continued for another three months. On Thursday, April 20, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals--the same court that rejected the pleas of Terri Schiavo's parents last week--turned down the Justice Department's request to order Elian removed from the home of his Miami relatives. Moreover, the court expressed serious doubts about the Justice Department's reading of both the law and its own regulations, adding that Elian had made a "substantial case on the merits" of his claim. It further established a record that Elain, "although a young child, has expressed a wish that he not be returned to Cuba."

The Reno Justice Department acted the next day to short-circuit a legal process that was clearly going against it. On Good Friday evening, after all courts had closed for the day, the department obtained a "search" warrant from a night-duty magistrate who was not familiar with the case, submitting a supporting affidavit that seriously distorted the facts. Armed with that dubious warrant, the INS's helmeted officers, assault rifles at the ready, burst into the home of Elian's relatives and snatched the screaming boy from a bedroom closet. Many local bystanders were tear-gassed even though they did nothing to block the raid. Elian was quickly returned to Cuba; because he was never able to meet with his lawyers a scheduled May 11 asylum hearing on his case in Atlanta became moot.

Why Janet Reno wasn't placed in jail for this I have no idea.  There's no question that it was illegal; she knew it and Clinton knew it.  But the mainstream media gave them a pass, as they always did with the corrupt Clinton Administration.

As I stated here, I was awake when I heard the news of the Saturday morning raid.  In fact, I had been discussing the case with a immigrant from the Dominican Republic, who had been to Cuba and knew about the decrepit conditions and the corrupt Castro regime.  And as we know, from that moment on that child was never going to be Miguel Gonzalez's child.  He was Fidel Castro's, and Castro was going to use him how he wished.

Same scenario, different tyrants.  Now we have a "husband", a high profile attorney, and a trial judge making a mockery of true justice.  But the same federal courts that didn't have the stones to stand up for Elian while Reno and Clinton overrode their orders, violating Elian's due process rights, and they don't have the stones this time to stand up to Michael Schaivo, George Felos, and George Greer for Terri Schindler is involved with this one also.

The ones whining about federal intervention in the Schiavo case had no problems with it when it came to Elian Gonzalez.  They weren't yelling about how the decisions of the courts needed to be respected.  But that isn't surprising, considering the "ends justify the means" thought processes in both scenarios.

And "moderates" threaten to abandon the Republican Party due to the conservatives?  Oh well.  As Alexander Hamilton said, "Those who stand for nothing fall for anything."  If you don't stand up for injustice in this case - and especially if didn't stand up for Elian - when will you?

Posted at 02:26 am by Expertise
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Sunday, March 27, 2005
Elite Eight Sunday: Kentucky vs. Michigan State.

Alright, here's the game for the final spot in St. Louis.  I got Michigan State pulling away late.

I'm listening to Carolina radio right now.  It's great to hear Woody Durham sound as enthusiastic as he does.

Tipoff's coming up...

5:08:  Alright let's go.  They traded threes, and then Michigan State starts to use it's quickness to score points from the fast breaks.  MSU's up by one early.

5:19:  A physical game, not too many calls by the refs so far.  Both teams are coming out sloppy though.  They can't execute on either end.  A three by MSU's Ager gives them the lead by one with 11:10 left in the half.

5:27:  Michigan State is using their quickness to take advantage of Kentucky's defense.  Tubby Smith might have to go to a zone to get something going defense-wise.  Kentucky also looks rusty on the offensive end.  23-16 MSU.

- Sorry guys, I was eating dinner for the last 10 minutes of the first half.  That's my bad, but I am ready for the second half of this one.  37-33 Kentucky lead.

6:20: Second half starts and Michigan State comes out strong to tie the game.  Huge three by Brown gives them the lead. 40-39.

6:34:  This is like a heavyweight title fight, with one landing a punch and the opponent landing a counterpunch.  This could be tight throughout.  Neither team seems as if they have a standard plan and everyone on the court is contributing.  MSU after a huge alley leads by three.

6:43:  MSU's Shannon Brown is having a big game, as he's hit back-to-back threes.  MSU's on a hot streak, and it'll be interesting to see if Kentucky can endure it.  MSU's up 61-57 with 8:34 left.

6:47:  Well my question was answered:  No.  Michigan State is on a hot streak much like they were against Duke on Friday.  Anderson hits a three, MSU gets the steal, and Anderson hits another jumper.  MSU's lead is the biggest of the game, 66-58.

6:55:  An excellent stretch of basketball with both teams using athletic moves to put points on the board.  Kentucky's Rondo Smith is in foul trouble, so that hurts them for their post game.  Kentucky has cut the lead in half, though...70-66.

7:00:  MSU's Paul Davis is really stepping up on the boards, tipping in a missed shot, and then going to the other end to grab a defensive rebound.  He was a big reason for Duke's loss on Friday and will be tough for May to deal with if he faces UNC in the Final Four.  MSU leads 72-66 with 2:41 left.

7:05:  MSU slipped up and left a wide open Ravi Moss open for a three pointer.  After Davis was fouled and hit 1-1, Kentucky comes right back with ANOTHER three pointer by Kelenna Azubuike.  I think comebacks have been a signature theme of this tournament.  MSU leads by only one with 35 ticks left.

7:07: Ooooo....a BRUTAL foul on Kentucky's Bradley, as he lands on his head.  He's done for the day.  I think that could have been called flagrant, but the ref made the right call.  Tubby gets to bring someone off the bench to shoot the fts.  Great sportsmanship by the crowd and both teams today.

7:08:  Patrick Sparks misses the 1 and 1.  MSU gets the rebound and calls the TO.  Not good for Kentucky.  Kentucky fouls and MSU goes to the line with 19.8 left, 73-72.

Shannon Brown hits the first of a 1-and-1.  Brown....hits the second. Kentucky takes the TO down by three with 16.7 left at half court.

Folks, they gotta give him that three!  Sparks earned that, and there is no conclusive evidence that he was on the line.  I dont think he was on it!

MORAL OF THE STORY:  Do not wait for the final shot!  Sparks shot his first basket with 7.7 seconds left, and it game them time to try two more times to tie this game.


7:25:  it's Overtime, and Kentucky seems rejuvenated.  Michigan State is a little off as Kentucky is up by two with 4:15 left.

7:28:  MSU is tenacious.  Missed three 3-pointers but were still able to get rebounds on each of them and finally hit one of them.  This is an excellent game.  79-78 UK with 2:30 left.

7:35:  Game is tied, Kentucky will have time to take the last shot of the game:

What in the world were they doing?  I guess they didn't read my "moral of the story".  He didn't even get the shot off.  Oh well; DOUBLE OT!

Great game.  Really.

7:41: Michigan State is coming out strong this time.  Kentucky lost Azubuike, who fouled out.  They aren't executing offensively and are in danger of being down by two possessions.  84-81 MSU with 2:31 left.

7:47:  Folks, boxing out is important, as Paul Davis's dunk showed.  Kentucky has yet to score in this overtime, and are in deep trouble.  UK's Morris misses one, but gives them their first point of the double OT.  86-82 with 1:52 left.

7:49:  This game should have some hellafied ratings, especially after yesterday's thrillers.  Anyway, Michigan State hits two fts to make it six, but Kentucky hits a basket on the the other end.  They cancel out, so MSU still leads by four with 1:24 left.

7:52:  Good post up by Hayes for UK, which makes it a two pt game.  UK takes too much time in fouling MSU, and now....MSU hits both, and that might have locked up the game.  90-86 with 12.2 left.

7:54:  Rondo goes coast to coast to cut the lead to two with 7.5 left.  They need a quick foul and hope MSU misses.  MSU's 20-26 from the line today.  Not good odds.

UK fouls, Anderson hits both.  That's tough.  Izzo is damn near on his way.  7.1 left.

- Well, this was one of the more entertaining games I've seen, and not just at the end of it, but throughout the game (although I missed a good chunk of the first half.  Hey, I had to eat dinner.)  Kentucky lost, but it was a loss that they shouldn't be ashamed of or feel bad about.

Unlike Georgia Tech with Lethal Weapon 3 and the clutch shot that sent them into overtime in the Elite Eight back in 1990, Kentucky couldn't get it done.  But they made it a fight throughout.

As for Michigan State and North Carolina, Carolina better be ready for a team that likes to play physical and use their speed to slash the basket.  Paul Davis has already gotten the best of Duke's Shelden Williams, now let's see how well he fares against Sean May.  However I doubt if Michigan State will be able to launch the three like a number of teams in this tournament, so keeping Felton out of foul trouble should lead the Tarheels to victory.

Posted at 05:04 pm by Expertise
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Elite Eight Sunday: North Carolina vs. Wisconsin.

We should get started in the next few minutes.  I'm liveblogging this all the way through.

This will be a battle of wills.  Carolina prefers the fast tempo game, while Wisconsin is more methodical and sharper with their execution.  Carolina will have to get out to a good start, and get a comfortable lead early.  Wisconsin will have to frustrate Sean May down low like Villanova did and hit some threes behind the arc.  Of course, I'm a Tarheel, so I got Carolina winning this one.

Tipoff is about to begin...

2:42:  Carolina is starting precisely the way they're supposed to:  using their talent and imposing their presence in the paint.  Sean May is starting up already, and if Wisconsin doesn't start getting physical with him, they're going to have problems throughout this game.  Only bad spot is that the Heels give up their first three of the game.  10-5 Carolina.

2:52:  Wisconsin is following the same mantra, and they have some big forwards in order to do it with on the offensive end.  Only problem is, they aren't finishing the shot.  Carolina is 9-10 from the field and leads it by seven.

2:56:  May is on a roll and doesn't look like he is going to go cold anytime soon.  Wisconsin has started picking up the pace however, and they are starting to score more often and are making their possessions count.  They're still a little shaky on the arc, but they are having some success in the paint.

They called the charge on Felton while Wisconsin was reaching in.  Bad call.  McCants hits a three, 25-18 UNC.

3:07:  Somebody better get a hold of May.  Dunks, jumpers just in front of the line, he's doing everything right now.  Wisconsin seems as if they don't know what to do with him.  They do hit a three however to get out of being behind by double digits.  30-22 UNC.

3:18:  Carolina and Wisconsin are starting to trade threes.  Carolina needs to contest that shot a little better.  May is continuing to beast in the paint, as they are lobbing the ball over Wisconsin's defenders and they're getting the baskets in the paint.  42-33 UNC with 3 mins left.

3:24:  Carolina blew a double digit lead THAT QUICK.  Ridiculous.  It's as if they fell asleep on defense and simply stepped aside to give them open baskets.  Wisconsin's defense came through in the last two minutes and are battling for rebounds.  44 a piece at halftime.

Williams will probably be hoarse once he comes out of the locker room at halftime.

3:45:  Second half starts.  Let's see how both teams react.  Wisconsin starts it off with a turnover.

3:49:  Wisconsin comes out continuing their run from the last half.  Carolina is a little more aggressive for this half, and after Wisconsin gets a five point lead, Carolina goes on a 8-0 run to lead 52-49 with 16:41 left.

3:57:  Wisconsin seems a little off right now.  Missing some good looks inside, and missing the chance for an open look outside.  They don't seem too sure of themselves after that Carolina run.  However, Carolina can't take advantage of it, and it's still 52-49.

4:05:  Sean May has now turned into a point guard, with three straight assists in the paint.  Felton is out of the game with what looks like an ankle injury, so someone has to take his spot.  But Wisconsin is starting to get their offensive groove back, and are attacking the basket more often making some pretty tough shots.  64-58 UNC with 11:34 left in the game.

4:12:  Wisconsin is having some success with the fast break, which is fooling carolina to converge inside for the feed outside and hitting the trey.  Carolina is still battling for rebounds, as they have 11 offensive rebs for the game.  This is a chess match.  70-67 Carolina.

4:18:  All of a sudden, the refs want to call those little fouls.  Bill Raftery calls them "nickel/dimers".  I call them "penny/nickels".  Anyway, Carolina needs to stop trying to collaspe on the ballhandler, because he's able to get it out on the perimeter to the open three.  Carolina leads by one, but they've gone cold.

4:25:  May will have to place this team on his back, because everyone else is cold.  And they need to stop shooting threes, as they've gone for a three 3 times in their last four attempts, and haven't made one yet.  Carolina goes to the line leading by one, 73-74 with 2:40 left.

4:30:  McCants comes up with a HUGE block on the perimeter.  And they do exactly what they should do:  feed it to May, draw the foul.  May hits both and it's a five pt lead, 78-73 with 1:46 left.  Carolina's D is starting to lock Wisconsin down.

4:32:  God; not another one of these.  It looked as if Carolina was ready to close this one out with a huge three by McCants but Tucker comes down the other end and answers it.  Carolina up 78-81 and the ball with 55 seconds left.

4:34:  Wisconsin is starting to foul, as they're trying to get them in the bonus.  Whoaaa Felton stopped short of poppin dude with the elbow.  May goes and calms him down, like the leader that he is.  Felton hits....both fts....Carolina's up by five.

4:36:  Carolina's finishing this game at the line, as you're supposed to with this kind of lead.  Carolina's perfect from there in their last six attempts, and they're up 85-78 with 34.5 seconds left.

- Carolina closed out this game the way they should have against Villanova on Friday and how Arizona should have yesterday.  Good job by the refs too for not swallowing their whistles too.  Other than a couple of calls, it was well called.

This game helped Carolina in more ways than one.  Wisconsin was one of the smartest and methodical teams in the country; in fact, no one had scored over 75 points on them this season until today.  Sean May showed he is a COMPLETE player; pounding the paint, making jumpers, completing great passes, and just showing he is a great leader and motivated this team.  McCants and Felton played great on both ends of the court.  It's amazing to see him mature as a player.  Whether it's Kentucky or Michigan State, I'm confident they can get to the national championship game.

I'll have Kentucky/Michigan State in a few minutes on another thread.  Click "home" below.

Yeaaaaahhhh North Carolina's headed to the Final Four!

Posted at 02:27 pm by Expertise
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Saturday, March 26, 2005
Elite Eight Saturday: Illinois vs. Arizona.

I told Molotov over at Booker Rising that her boys (Illinois) were going to go down.  We'll see what happens.

Illinois has the home field advantage, as this game is in Chicago.  You can hear them in the crowd, and they are the six man.  Illinois starts out hot, hitting a couple of treys to start off the game.  8-4 Illinois.

7:25:  Arizona isn't playing games tonight.  They seem to have a little attitude, as if they have something to prove.  They go on a 10-0 run, and then here's Luther Head with a big three to cut the lead to one, 12-11 Zona.  Plenty of time left in the half.

7:35:  Both teams are playing hard so far in this game and are putting up a high amount so far.  It reminds me of "The Contender" where they are evenly matched and the one that stays the busiest will win the game.  Illi up by one but that could change at any moment.

7:45:  This is becoming a game between the sharpshooters vs. the beasts.  Illinois continues to hit their shots from the perimeter and Zona is killing the boards in absence of Stoudamire's contributions.  Illi is getting the better of them right now, as they lead by five.

7:50:  Arizona has gone cold for a bit.  Illinois has adjusted to their points in the front court and are keeping them from penetrating.  Illinois leads by seven with 3:13 left in the half.

8:00:  Illinois's D got a little lax for a second, and Zona is taking advantage of it.  Stoudamire hasn't done anything in this game, as he has two points on fts.  It is good to see everyone else for Zona stepping up, and that's precisely what Kellogg and Davis, to their credit, said Zona needed to do.

Zona's Shakur hits a nice floater to end the half.  38-36 Illinois leads at the half.  They can't be happy to only lead by two with Stoudamire not contributing anything in this game so far.

8:25:  Second half starts.  Let's see if Stoudamire will join the rest of his teammates.  Right now Zona is pushing the ball through the lane and drawing the foul.  Stoudamire misses his first fg of the half, but Zona is showing a lot of hustle.  Zona leads by one early.

8:30:  Is Stoudamire ever out of his range?  I don't think so.  He hit a three that was a good six feet behind the arc.  That and a Radenovic three puts Zona up by six.  Illinois can't let these guys get hot, or they'll run away with it.

8:37:  Illinois gains momentum, and eventually ties it up.  Illini's Augustine is having a good day.  But so are Radenovic and Frye, who are making up for Stoudamire's lost production.  Zona up by one with 12:14 left.

8:45:  I am really impressed with Channing Frye.  He is really exposing Illinois in the interior and is making key baskets to keep Illinois behind in this game.  Meanwhile, Deron Williams is putting up some clutch shots.  Illinois's perimeter defense is solid and creating turnovers, but they are leaving the paint open.  Illi leads 64-58 with 7:30 left.

8:55:  Channing Frye is killing them.  Now he's hit a three pointer after dominating in the paint so long.  Hey; big time players step up for big time games, and Frye is showing some people he's a big time player.  Illinois meanwhile has abandoning any attempts to feed it down low on the offensive end, and almost half of their attempts today have been beyond the arc.  You guys aren't West Virginia.  Illinois leads 73-60 with 4:54 left.

9:02:  Okay, I'd just like to say that I had UNC vs. Arizona playing in the national championship in all of my brackets.  Just want to make sure everyone knows that in advance.  Deron Williams finally gives Illi their first three, but methinks this is too little too late.  75-63 with Zona going to the line and 3:28 left in the game.  Time is running out.

9:10:  This game isn't exactly over yet.  Zona has to get the ball down the court and stop giving up turnovers in the backcourt.  That's been their one problem in this game.

McClellan to the line....misses first ft....hits second, 78-72 with 1:03 left.  Zona is pulling the same thing Carolina did last night.

9:13:  Luther Head hits the three, but then they get the steal on an obvious foul and get the layup.  Zona's blown a 14 pt lead and it's cut to three with 45 ticks left.

Maaaaan I can't understand why the refs aren't calling those obvious fouls.  That's twice Stoud was fouled in the back court. 

ANOTHER OVERTIME:  Wow.  I'd be really pissed if I was Stoudamire right now.  The refs allowed it to turn into a mugging for Illinois to get back into this game.

9:22:  Illinois continues to shoot it well behind the arc.  Zona has lost focus but Channing Frye is trying to get them back to the post game.  Illinois is up by one with 3:02 in OT.

9:25:  Zona looks like the wind has just been knocked out of them.  But Hassan Adams gets a chance for a three-point play. ...he....hits the ft, cutting it to three with 1:30.

9:28:  Adams has decided to carry this team on his back.  He grabs a huge offensive rebound and gets the putback.  90-89 Illinois with 34.5 left on the clock.

9:30:  Luther Head slashes, but can't finish.  Adams AGAIN with the rebound, and they call TO at half court with 11.8 left.  This could be the game right here.

- Adams held the ball too long, tried to shoot the three at the end, missed, couldn't put it back up in time, Illinois won 90-89. 

Crying shame how they won it though.  Referees are there to make sure the game isn't a mess, and that's exactly what happened in the fourth quarter.  If someone is able to get a turnover with any kind of body contact, the referee isn't doing their job.  Period.

Posted at 07:18 pm by Expertise
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Elite Eight Saturday: Louisville vs. West Virginia

Sorry guys; I had nodded off before the game and woike up to catch the last five minutes of the first half.

Anyway, it's halftime now.  I saw West Virginia send the lead to 20, but Louisville has now cut it to 13 at halftime.

Well I doubt West Virginia can come out shooting like that again. 10-14 from the arc in the first half?  Unreal.  And shooting 65% from the field is akin to playing on NBA Live.  (Which reminds me; when will EA Sports put NCAA March Madness on PC?)

Louisville is facing their biggest deficit of the season, and they have the firepower to come back from it.  However, they need to step up and make plays early in the second half.  They don't need to look at a 10-11 point deficit midway through the second half and think they are going to make their move then.

Anyway, I'll liveblog the second half, and the Illinois/Arizona battle later.

5:50:  They're back for the second half, and Louisville is starting exactly the way they're supposed to, already making two defensive plays and attacking the basket.  Now, if they can only make some free throws.  Huge three cuts it to ten.

5:55:  Man this is becoming a huge shootout, as both teams have hit a combined 19 three pointers in this game.  For a while it looked like Louisville was going to cut further into this lead, but WV simply keeps drilling them.  That's not good.  52-40 WV.

6:05:  NOW we have a ball game.  Louisville's defensive posture is impressive right now, and they are really frustrating West Virginia, who can't make a basket in the paint and aren't too confident on the arc right now.  Huge threes by Louisville's Taquan Dean cuts this lead in half and is on an 8-2 run, 54-48 with 11:48 to go. 

6:13:  Just when you think Louisville was going to put West Virginia on the ropes, here comes Pittsnoggle and Gansey going back to their ole bread-and-butter:  the three-pointer.  Louisville briefly cut it to three, but it's now a nine point WV lead.

6:19:  Louisville is pushing on, but everytime they get something started, here comes another WV three.  And it isn't that they aren't playing perimeter defense, WV is just hitting their shots.  And just as I said that, Pittsnoggle hits a three that hits the front rim and drops in.  WV's up 68-58 with 6:41 left.  Louisville better hope WV goes cold in these last minutes; they are 16-21 from the arc so far.  Wow.

6:27:  Kevin Pittsnoggle is becoming a March Madness legend before our eyes.  He has played at a higher level than almost anyone in the tournament.  Taquan Dean is back in the game after catching cramps.  Louisville is starting to slashing the basket and place pressure on the defensive end.  However, Francisco Garcia has fouled out.  71-67 with 4:00 left.

6:35.  Louisville's trying to put up what could possibly be their last run.  They are starting to hit the offensive glass and making plays.  Now they are going to have to find a way to keep Pittsnoggle, Herber and Gansey off the arc.  74-71 WV with two and a half left.

6:38:  Pittsnoggle AGAIN.  This guy is unstoppable.  Otis George made a great jumper just inside the line for Louisville.  77-73 WV with a minute and a half left.

Velacio gets one in the paint and cut it to minute left.

6:39:  Pittsnoggle MISSED a shot.  Is that possible?  Louisville gets the rebound and has the ball with 48.3 ticks left.

OVERTIME:  What a game!  Larry O'Bannon slashed to the basket to tie the game for the first time since early in the first half.  They can't handle that kid's speed.  Afterwards, Velacio got a huge shot block and Louisville got it with about six seconds left, but Dean couldn't convert on the other end and the clock runs out.  Let's hop to it.

6:48:  Tyrone Sally's fouled out for WV.  Meanwhile Taquan Dean is placing this team on his back, as he hits a huge three pointer.  Louisville fouled on the other end, WV hits the two fts, steals the ball on the other end and ties the game at 82 with 3:29 left in OT.

6:55:  Louisville looks like they are on their way.  O'Bannon and Velacio has stepped up while Garcia and Dean are off the court (Dean's still having problems with that leg).  However, Velacio goes to the line and misses both fts.  WV is still cold, though, and Louisville leads 88-83 with 1:05 left and at the line.

7:00:  Why WV decided to slash the basket instead of shooting threes is beyond me.  Maybe they thought they'd catch Louisville off guard, but they didn't, and they got a couple of blocks from that.  You got to put that ball up beyond the arc, and although Louisville has not been hitting their fts, this game is over.  92-85 with 30 secs left.

- Louisville is the first entrant into the Final Four, 93-85.

A hell of a game for two halves.  In overtime, WV simply had no juice left, and O'Bannon and Velacio played an inspired overtime overcoming the absence of their two leaders.  It was sloppy at the end, with Louisville missing a lot of fts and WV missing a lot of shots, to which I can't understand why they didn't start trying to air it out within a minute and a half in OT.

Another thing to note:  Louisville never took the lead in that game until overtime.  Rick Petino has to be commended for getting his guys motivated enough to push their way back into this game after being down by 20 in the first half and enduring the hellacious shooting beyond the arc by WV.

West Virginia has nothing to be ashamed of.  They played a hell of a game against a team that had much more talent than them.  They simply couldn't send that sharpshooting into overtime, and they went cold.  That's a tough way to lose, but nothing to be ashamed of.

I will start liveblogging Illinois/Arizona on another post in a few minutes.

Posted at 05:36 pm by Expertise
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Saturday Morning Detective Work.

Ugh.  I swear I checked In The Agora before I went to bed last night, but I suppose I was too sleepy to see this little gem.

Joshua Claybourn is reporting that four staffers from Senators Rick Santorum and Mel Martinez's offices believe a "renegade" staffer from Sen. Harry Reid's office was the author of the memo.

Originally, Claybourn didn't give the name of the staffer accused or the staffers making the accusations, which prompted Friday night vampire (kidding, folks...this was all going on in the middle of the night) Michelle Malkin to initially question the validity of the source.

Claybourn has been all over this story, gathering sources on Capitol Hill and at ABC headquarters throughout the week.  However, I think I would have asked for a little more information that was given. 

We were only given the name of the accused, and a little bit of his background.  In a quite interesting fact, he used to work for ABC News.  That could possibly explain how they got the memo.  However, that bit can't stand on it's own; more evidence is needed in order to prove the staffer, Nathan Ackerman, is the culprit.

That doesn't mean the memo wasn't a hoax if Ackerman wasn't the culprit, and this was bad information given to Claybourn.  But I would think an accusation of this magnitude being levelled on Capitol Hill is considered a serious charge, thus you'd have a little more than a hunch that Ackerman was behind it.  And to be honest, I don't think the names of the staffers are needed more than the evidence showing Ackerman wrote it. 

Powerline's Hindrocket and Trunk have responded, and Hindrocket brings up a good point; the New York Times reported they had seen Democratic staffers with the memo first claiming it was being distributed by Republicans.  Why hasn't the New York Times stepped up and revealed which Democratic staffers they saw on the Hill with the memo?  I asked that question too, and I think the answer will go a long way in finding out who was actually behind it.

In fact, both roads could lead right to Ackerman.  You never know.  But I will make this point; the Kinkos fax number that led the media to Bill Burkett was a very fortunate turn of events, and I'd guess it usually isn't that easy.  It's going to be a lot harder to find who was truly behind this one, and there's going to be a lot more "he said, she said" information and sources as the days go by.  In fact, I'd be willing to bet that the only way we'll find out who did it is by someone ratting him or her out.

UPDATE:  There's been some people commenting at ITA and trackbacking at Malkin's site that thinks this may be a smokescreen to hide a Republican who was truly behind this.

I don't think that's possible just yet.  As Hindrocket and I have said, the primary piece of evidence came from the New York Times.  I don't think any journalist has reported seeing this memo on Republican staffers, and right now we can only go on the information that's given to us.

I think people are jumping the gun in pointing fingers at either side.  Let's gather the information first.

As for the ones attacking Claybourn for using unnamed sources, that's not how this started.  Claybourn has the names (or at least I give him the benefit of the doubt that he has them) of the staffers, and Malkin is correct that he should burn them if they tried to screw him.  ABC and the Washington Post had none in relation to where this memo came from, yet automatically implied it came from the Republicans.  That's a big difference between the two.

UPDATELaShawn Barber's doing a memo roundup today.  Check it out.

UPDATE:  Claybourn contacted the NYT's David Kilpatrick for the names of the staffers who were seen distributing the memo.  Kilpatrick refused due to a matter of policy.

Whatever.  He could have named who they were if he wanted.  I didn't expect much participation out of him anyway.

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Posted at 10:56 am by Expertise
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