Submitted by Jim Hurley on Thursday, April 12, 2012 at 9:40 AM
Earlier this week we were flipping through the channels on our TV and stay tuned in -maybe for 10 minutes or so -to one of those silly ESPN round-table discussion shows that really have no main cause other than to create some back-and-forth debate between the likes of know-it-all Skip Bayless and a slew of"panelists" and the topic involved what the San Antonio Spurs did in their 91-84 loss in Utah on Monday night.
As you all know by now, Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich -a four-time champion head coach -- not only rested his aging superstars Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili but he didn't even bring 'em along on the ride to Salt Lake City. Duncan, Parker and Ginobili stayed home in their"jammies" and watched the action on the tube and some folks including this ESPN crew took"Pops" to task for not going all out despite the fact San Antonio entered the evening with a shot to be tied with Oklahoma City for the top seed in the NBA's Western Conference.
Here's a note to Popovich's critics and to all those folks who like to tell NBA head coaches whom to play and when:
They are the coaches and they should do as they please with their players, roster, etc. Got it?
Forget the fact that years ago NBA Commissioner David Stern was busy fining teams for not playing stars on the final regular-season night of play -you would think the commish had bigger fish to fry even back then but even he was a stooge about this particular matter -and all we're gonna say is if your team is 40-14 in this lockout-abbreviated season than you have earned the right to do as you please. If Popovich deemed this to be a good night to rest all his stars -keep in mind the Spurs had beaten the Jazz 114-104 on Sunday night and Monday's tilt in Utah was SA's third game in four nights -than that is his business.
Forget about what NBA paying customers are getting -the head coaches don't owe fans anything at all. If anything, Popovich owes it to his bosses with the Spurs to make his team the best, the soundest and the healthiest team possible come playoff time ... seeding be damned and viewing audience be damned too!
No doubt this topic is hot right now in NBA-land but we've always held the same belief whether it be Week 17 in the NFL or late in a Major-League Baseball season -do what is best for your team and don't worry about the other folks including the assorted critics.
If Popovich and the Spurs happen to win it all -as they did in that previous lockout-shortened season of 1999 -than we want to hear Bayless and folks say they were wrong.
There's a fat chance of that happening, right?
Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers will continue to rock this 2012 Major-League Baseball season and remember there's still lots more NBA Winners too this spring and so sign up today and be sure to check in with us either right here online or else at our toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 for all the daily/nightly winners.
THE NFL DRAFT
THE TOP PLACEKICKERS & PUNTERS
Our official NFL Draft coverage at Jim Sez continues today as we bring you our position-by-position analyses -here it's the top Placekickers and Punters. Note that we will have our Jim Sez NFL Mock Draft Preview on Wednesday, April 25th. The NFL Draft will be held at Radio City Music Hall in New York City on April 26-27-28:
BLAIR WALSH, PK, GEORGIA -Last year's sub-par 21-of-35 field-goal success rate surely ranked as a failure for this 22-year-old but NFL scouts still have this former Dawg star rated as the numero uno kicker in the land and he could go as high as a fourth-round pick (note there has not been a placekicker chosen above the third round since the New York Jets selected Ohio State's Mike Nugent with a second-round choice back in 2005). Walsh scored 412 points in his college career and thus ranks second all-time in scoring in NCAA history and note he converted his first 119 PATs before finally missing one. Could be on the radar screen of the Carolina Panthers who should be looking for a brand-new kicker after last year's kicking follies.
BRYAN ANGER, P, CALIFORNIA -Not many NFL teams spend valuable draft picks on punters but this former Cal-Berkeley star could be an exception to the rule. The 6-foot-4, 210-pound Anger was a first-team All-Pac10 and Pac-12 punter from 2009-thru-2011 and note he punted the ball 50 yards or more on 72 different occasions and averaged 45.6 yards a punt in his junior season back in 2010. According to one sports web site, Arizona, Cleveland and Philadelphia all sent special teams coaches to Anger's recent off-season workout.
DREW BUTLER, P, GEORGIA -The other half of the Bulldogs' high-quality kicking game averaged a heady 44.3 yards a pop last year while earning a Senior Day invitation and just like teammate Walsh was named to the school's All-Decade Team. Butler -who is the son of one-time Georgia legendary PK Kevin Butler -- won the prestigious Ray Guy Award as a sophomore and note that he doubled as Georgia's holder on FGs and PATs for the past three seasons. Could be a late-round draft choice of the Indianapolis Colts who continue to shop for everything (and anything) in this rebuilding time.
CARSON WIGGS, PK, PURDUE -Did you know that this 6-foot-1, 221-pounder holds the record for the five longest FGs made in Boilermakers history? Wiggs -who nailed 59- and 55-yard field goals in his college career -also showed his stuff as an onside kick specialist in a Pizza Bowl win against unsuspecting Western Michigan last December. Toss into the mix the fact that Wiggs can be counted on as a punter who specializes in dunking the ball inside the enemy 20-yard line and his draft value may rise later this month. Aforementioned Indianapolis could have interest in keeping Wiggs close to home while Philly may have some serious interest too. Probably won't go before the fifth round.
PHILLIP WELCH, PK, WISCONSIN -Let's wrap up our look at these kicking specialists with a peek at this Big 10 star who bagged 153-of-156 PATs in his college career but do note that last year Welch sat out three games with a quadriceps injury and so that may knock him down a peg or two in this NFL Draft. Might wind up lasting till the fifth or sixth round with next-door neighbor Minnesota possibly interested in his services.
NOTE: Get more NFL Draft coverage along with the NBA and MLB all this week/weekend in our Jim Sez columns.