Saturday, June 29, 2013

Addressing the 1 Problem

I was fortunate enough to be able to ask the first question at a press conference this week for High School basketball standout and Arizona commit Rondae Hollis Jefferson. The West Chester Pennsylvania product had recently been the final player cut from the U-19 national team, which happened to be the topic of my question. And I felt bad as Jefferson appeared to be in a fantastic mood which I hoped not to hinder, yet I proceeded to ask "You were cut from the national team very recently, what was that like and what can you take from that moving forward?" This was the first of many difficult questions the 6'7 215 lb forward was asked, and like he did to every question answered it with open honesty. Jefferson said "I just went out there and gave it my all, life does things to you sometimes, and it's all part of a process and a plan, things have a way of working themselves out and this was a learning experience I knew I'd grow from."
Most guys who are top basketball recruits ( 5th for his position in the country) usually plan to spend only a year in college and proceed to enter the NBA Draft and Hollis-Jefferson is no exception, when asked "what is more important a national title or improving your draft stock?" The response he gave is the thought process of all high recruits, yet very few would have the stones to admit, "I'm not gonna sit up here and tell you guys a lie, getting drafted is my top priority, of course I want to win games, but in the end of the day the NBA is the ultimate goal, and that's not just for me that's every guy." Rondae is the classic example of everything wrong with college sports, yet he is partaking in a system a group of student athletes and coaches manipulate every year. Again his honesty was displayed when asked by a colleague of mine "what will you be majoring in?" he plainly said "whatever makes my college time go the smoothest" thank you Rondae for being honest, but once again another issue with the one and done rule. I think Rondae is the next Paul George, phenomenal defense, great handle, great passer and his jump shot is what needs work, bottom line, I think he's going to be fantastic(my theory is a great defensive player is bust proof). But let's play hypothetical and say Rondae didn't pan out or suffered a serious injury, without a degree in his easy major... what will he do?? Rondae Hollis Jefferson is the name I am using in the article, but there are terrific talents like him that could catch an unfortunate break causing them financial instability later on in life.
Here is a thought, Nerlens Noel, who spent a single year at Kentucky, battles knee injuries his entire career and ends up having a sub par NBA career and makes okay money, Mason Plumlee(drafted 12th) spent 4 years at the prestigious Duke University and also has a below average career... In terms of financial security, I think the guy who spent four years at an institution "Ivy league the south" producing products such as Shane Battier and Grant Hill,  or the school known as the "NBA's halfway house" which has had academic geniuses such as John Wall and Demarcus Cousins who supposedly only spent one semester taking classes...... And honestly these guys are rushed through one year of college with the emphasis on basketball, the education is getting lost. So who do you think would have a brighter long term financial situation? 
The NCAA talks about student athletes, but where is the emphasis on academics? Are we providing a possible plan B for athletes whose careers do not pan out? No we are not, yet I see the counter the argument that the NCAA has no right to impede a college athlete from making a living so I have a a solution which presents two options. If a high school student wishes to attend college, and sign a college letter, they must remain at the University for 2 years. If an athlete wishes to pursue the European option, they must stay for two years as well. This presents an opportunity to mature and basically ensures that athletes are twenty before they enter the National Basketball Association.
As for Rondae, I am not concerned. I spoke to him briefly after and his motivation and determination are un-matched. With a fantastic base to work off of and the instruction he will receive from coach Sean Miller I am positive Rondae will have success in his college and high school career. I love this kid's swagger and his game and I want to make clear there is nothing personally wrong with him, yet the flawed system needs to be reworked. The NBA and NCAA need to converse, find a system which provides mature and educated participants NBA-Josh Neighbors

Wednesday, June 19, 2013


There was game 1. Then there were games 2 through 5, and then there was last night. I still don't know what happened las night but what I do know is that robbery can occur in other forms instead of the traditional sense, like we saw last night. The hand of supreme leader stern was in what happened last night(or both hands) but last night was bad. LeBron went cold in the end with missed shots and turnovers. In the last 7 minutes of play LeBron had 2 makes on about 7 shots coupled with 2 big turnovers. LeBron was not as big as everyone is making him out to be, but all frustration aside for me last night was beautiful. It was the sport I love they way it should be and it was fantastic, but in the words of Jay-Z onto the next one.
So this series has taken the exact course I had expected and now the Spurs will have to show their resiliency and the Heat will get their chance to defend their title. The big storyline of these finals has been which players will show up on which given night. Which Bosh? Which Wade? Which Parker? Which Manu? Manu was big in game 5, yet his 8 turnovers were crucial in the Heat taking game 6. 
I am going to remain with my pick from the very beginning Spurs in 7 and my final observation from this series is how in god's name is the "rotund" Boris Diaw effectively guarding LeBron. In a way is a microcosm of the oddities which have occurred in this series. Nobody had won 2 games in a row, it's going to be the Spurs.-Josh Neighbors

Thursday, June 13, 2013

US Open Preview

Usually known as the toughest test in golf, and this year's installment of the Open is going to be no exception. Now that being said Merion's East Course, located in Ardmore PA(roughly 10 minutes from Villanova) is a short, fast course. Mother Nature is seeking to eliminate the fast component of the course and the fear of many is that the course will be to easy and to this I say you are dead wrong. Let's realize who we are dealing with here, the USGA, these people will find any and every way to make this course nearly impossible and have been able to prove this year after year. Secondly, after seeing the early round play this morning, this course is still going to be fast. In edition to this the rough, especially on the really meat of the golf course, is a ft long. This tall rough can be found immediately where the greens end. This course can get in your head, especially guys who think they will be able to drive and spin their way into victory. If you attempt to spin your way to victory, these greens will destroy you. Get greedy in the driver and you will find your ball in the delightful and soggy tall grass. Ian Poulter has jumped out to an early lead and this can be attributed to his ability to hit low irons and wedges with minimal spin. This becomes an IQ course, especially when on the greens. My biggest key for the competitors, especially as the course becomes drier as we move into the weekend. I have a few guys that I think will lead the charge this weekend among the red wicker baskets.

Favorite: I am going conventional here, saying what everyone else is saying, this is an event where a guy who hasn't won it before will have an opportunity to take care of business. I love Ian Poulter as it is and I think this is a course for him, not a long bomber but a smart iron player, if Poulter can take care of business with the putter I like his chances.

Featured Group Favorite: I have a feeling the All-Star trio of Tiger, Rory and Adam will not meet expectations. Rory is still in his funk, I do not think Adam Scott will repeat as I feel he is putting a lot of pressure on himself. (Tiger and Steve Williams might be kinda awkward....) I think Tiger will be normal Tiger in the first few rounds and put himself in contention on sunday. We all know he's stopped using that driver, which makes him need to be more intelligent. The short course kind of plays to his advantage. Out of this group I think Tiger will have the best showing.

Dark Horse: Charlie Hoffman has 4 top tens in 14 appearances this year.... I think he will have a good week.

Why the hell not?: Give me Jim Furyk. He's a likable guy who has had success at the US Open before. He won it in 2003 and he's from Pennsylvania. He's a gutsy player, not a bomber, great with irons, and has a swing from the heavens. Jim Furyk is my "why not? "pick.

An unfamiliar course, with weather, and some weird flag sticks. This going to be entertaining.-Josh Neighbors

Thursday, June 6, 2013

NBA Finals Preview

People begin to look at this matchup and begin to look at the contrasts between these teams, especially age. But when looking at the matchup, age appears to be the only one. Both have a big 3, all of them with rings, two great coaches, and similar game styled which depend on great ball handling, good screen and roll action, and high IQ cuts for easy layups. On defense, they each have team oriented styles which revolve around quick rotation to the ball on the perimeter and steady internal defense at the center position(except Chris Bosh/maybe occasionally Tiago Splitter). In the end of the day, we are left with two teams looking to further validate their statuses in the basketball universe. Let's break down the 5 (3 major 2 minor) categories and see who has the edge.

1.Coaching. Eric Spolestra has done a fantastic job managing the tremendous amount of talent in south beach and has done a fantastic job especially with role players. Another trait which he has demonstrated with consistency is his ability to make effective adjustments in a rather short period of time. He demonstrated this against the Pacers when using his super small ball lineup in which Shane Battier plays power forward. David West was eating him alive, so what does Spolestra do? Bench Battier, more Birdman, more Haslem, more Mike Miller. Also the decision to go LBJ pick and roll with Chalmers or Norris Cole as the screener is one of the deadliest plays in the NBA today. Bravo Mr. Spolestra, you are earning your stripes, it's just to bad Greg Popovich is managing the bench on the opposite end of the floor. He is the Michael Jordan of coaching, we could give him coach of the year every single year for the way he's managed to keep the same system throughout his entire career and his ability to insert different parts ,without any hiccups, into the well oiled machine which is the Spurs offense. As we saw last series, the Grizzlies, who have been called the best defensive team in the league, we ripped to shreds by the efficient San Antonio offense. The Spurs shot over 50% from the field in 3 of the 4 games of the series. The edge here goes to the Spurs.

2. Best Player. Obviously it's Gary Neal.... Wow aren't I a comedian? Okay so we know the Heat have the advantage here with LeBron James, so we will focus on how the Spurs will try to limit the current best player on the planet. Kawhi Leonard will be tasked with guarding LeBron out of the gate, a guy whose defense is underrated in my mind. He's from SDSU and played under coach Steve Fischer whose team was one of the premier defensive clubs in the country and Leonard might have been the best defender on that team. He's been slowed by some knee issues lately, but due to his quiet and hardworking nature, he's not one for exucses. Now we all know that ball screen is coming with the PG, so the way the Spurs need to counter that is by either hedging that screen, or putting a bigger defender on the Chalmers or Cole so that in the event of a switch there is no huge mismatch. My suggestion would be Danny Green or Gary Neal and occasionally Manu. On another alternative would be to keep Splitter and Duncan close to the middle and let the mismatch happen. Last series when George Hill was forced to switch onto LeBron, I don't think I ever saw him pull up, he almost put his head down and just went straight to the rack. By putting Duncan and Splitter close to the middle the Spurs can give themselves a shot blocking presence. Yet this is exactly the reason LeBron is so good, he requires so much attention to where his teammates are open in almost all of these situations, if you pack Duncan and Splitter in the paint, Bosh or Haslem will be open. Slowing LeBron is no easy task, but if I had to pick one coach to do it, I'd pick Pop.

3. Which weak link will show up? Well D-Wade finally showed up in game 7, and Chris Bosh didn't. He failed to score in double figures in the last 4 games of the series against the Pacers and was an exposed as a sub-par interior defender. Although his 50% shooting from behind the arc was a key factor in the earlier part of the series in some close games. For the Spurs, Manu Ginobili's slump was noticed against the Grizz as he was the only player to not produce consistently on offense for SA.  But he is rested, Bosh is not and for that reason I'm giving him the edge. Bosh will be frustrated on defense by Timmy and it might carry over to offense for the slumping member of Miami's big three.

4. Bench. Im going to make these last two quick. I like Miami's bench, their personal is just a tad better than the Spurs with Ray Allen and Chris Anderson.

5. Rebounding. Guess who has this category on lock? The Heat are the worst rebounding team to make it to the finals since the 96' Rockets. If the SA bigs can pick up where Roy Hibbert left off Miami will find themselves in a difficult spot.

Prediction: I'm not a huge LeBron fan. I Spurs saw what the Pacers did and I think they will build off of that. The Heat haven't played like a champion consistently and the Spurs have. The veteran leadership on this team is unmatched and they will not make the mental mistakes the Pacers made. The Heat have been fortunate with their last two match-ups missing crucial members of their teams. I like the Spurs in 7, Pop wins the chess match and he and Tim Duncan will get their 5th ring.-Josh Neighbors