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Extra Innings Sports

Sports news, opinions, analysis, and more. All in one place.

Did the Cavs make a good move?

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By Nate Gice

The Cavs' disappointing season has been a hot topic of discussion throughout the year. Cleveland is sitting at 19-16, which isn't necessarily bad in the Eastern Conference. However, they haven't come even close to meeting the lofty expectations that were set for them before the season began.

With LeBron out and their championship hopes quickly going down the drain, the Cavs decided to take action on Monday.

In a three-team trade, Cleveland dealt Dion Waiters to the Thunder in exchange for Iman Shumpert and JR Smith from New York. It was a bold move, but the Cavs need to be bold in order to save their season.

In JR Smith the Cavs now have an extra scorer who can come off the bench and take over at times. In Iman Shumpert the Cavs now have a perimeter defender who can take the pressure off of everyone’s shoulders. And all they had to give up is Dion Waiters, a young player who didn’t fit in from day one.

That sounds like a perfect deal, right? Well, it isn’t that simple.

There are two reasons why the Cavaliers have struggled to keep pace throughout the season: no inside presence and no team chemistry. With that said, we must ask ourselves this: does the addition of Shumpert and Smith fix those issues?

I would say no.

Losing LeBron for two weeks hurts, but losing Anderson Varejao for the season really stings. Now, the Cavs will have to fend off opponents without two veterans who can make an impact in the down low. It’s been bad enough with them, as Cleveland ranks 20th in rebounding and 22nd in blocks.

Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson are both solid players, but the Cavs don’t have much depth behind them. Shumpert and Smith, who are both guards, aren’t going to change that. Ultimately, I could see the Cavs trading for a big man before the trade deadline. For now, though, Cleveland will have to deal with what they have.

The Cavaliers are still a work of progress. They are an inexperienced team that lacks chemistry right now. And, to make matters worse, rookie head coach David Blatt is reportedly having troubles “communicating” with his players.

So, I’m not sure if adding two new players (one of which is out indefinitely) to the mix will fix that problem. If anything, the situation will probably get worse over time. Both Smith and Shumpert will have to adjust to playing with a new team, while the rest of their teammates try to figure things out. That doesn’t sound like a good combination to me.

At this point, there isn’t much Cleveland can do to salvage their season. They have dug themselves a big hole and simply can’t get out. With half of the season nearly in the books, things don’t look promising for the Cavaliers.


Postseason QB Rankings

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By Nate Gice

Having a great quarterback is the key to victory in the National Football League. Aside from Trent Dilfer and the 2000 Ravens, a solid (and consistent) signal-caller is required in order to make a Super Bowl run.

Following the end of wild-card weekend, there are eight teams and eight quarterbacks left in the playoff mix. What happens over the next few weeks will define the careers of those eight quarterbacks. Who will shine and who will not shine?

It was a difficult task, but I have ranked every quarterback in the postseason based on past and recent performances.

8) Cam Newton, Panthers

It is good to see that Cam Newton is playing like Cam Newton again. Although he was inconsistent at times against Arizona last week, he showed some flashes of brilliance. He finished with 198 yards through the air and two touchdowns along with 35 yards rushing. Newton did, however, make some poor throws along the way.

It will be interesting to see how Cam performs in Seattle on Saturday. In his previous meeting with Seattle, he finished with only 171 and no touchdowns.

7) Andrew Luck, Colts

Luck was marvelous throughout the regular season, but he has been inconsistent down the stretch. On Sunday against Cincy, Luck played incredibly. However, he doesn’t look like a playoff-ready quarterback just yet. And Denver won’t make it any easier for the third-year superstar. I expect Luck to make some mistakes, which is natural. But can he rebound from those mistakes?

6) Tony Romo, Cowboys

Let’s give Tony Romo a round of applause. Not only is he a legit MVP candidate, but he also has Dallas in a good position to do the impossible: win the Super Bowl.

Despite a slow start, Romo lit up Detroit in the second half on Sunday. However, I’m not sure I’m ready to jump on Romo’s bandwagon just yet. Romo’s strictly a pocket passer who doesn’t handle pressure very well. With that in mind, I have a feeling that Green Bay will blitz early and often.

5) Peyton Manning, Broncos

I bet you are surprised to see Manning at #5 on this list. Well, I have my reasons. First of all, Manning hasn’t been the Peyton Manning that we are accustomed to seeing over the past few weeks. Second of all, age and injuries have caught up to the future hall of famer. That is a bad combination. Manning is still one of the all-time greats, but history is against him this season. Denver will defeat Indianapolis with ease, but Manning doesn’t have the arm to compete with the AFC’s best.

4) Joe Flacco, Ravens

In a word, Flacco was flawless against the Steelers. The stats don’t show it, but Flacco was as effective as any quarterback during wild-card weekend. Without his heroics, the Steelers would have moved on.

Remember, Flacco has a ring. He is no slouch in the postseason, as he has demonstrated throughout his career. In fact, he is 5-0 in his past five playoff starts. The odds are against him and the Ravens this weekend, but they were in 2012 as well….

3) Aaron Rodgers, Packers

Rodgers may be banged up right now, but I’d take a banged up Aaron Rodgers over 80% of the other quarterbacks in the league. He is still arguably the finest quarterback in the NFL, even though he is limited outside the pocket.

Aside from his magical Super Bowl run in 2010, Rodgers and the Packers have struggled in the postseason. This years Packers, however, are a special team. And Rodgers is as special as they come. Romo and the Cowboys will challenge the Pack at Lambeau in the “Ice Bowl II”, but I’d take Rodgers over Romo any-day.

2) Tom Brady, Patriots

When it comes to players like Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, you never expect anything other than excellence. It has been the same exact story this season. Brady has been on fire over the past few weeks, leading the Pats to the no. 1 seed in the AFC. Going into the divisional round, the Pats are heavily favored to reach the Super Bowl for a sixth time in fourteen years.

However, it won’t be an easy road for Brady. The Ravens’ secondary may be depleted, but they will challenge Brady. Baltimore will do whatever they can to slow down Tom and New England’s passing attack. I’d favor Brady in that matchup, though.

1) Russell Wilson, Seahawks

Last season was like a dream for Russell Wilson. No one expected an underdog like the Seahawks to hoist the Lombardi Trophy, but they did. And they owe it all to Wilson and what he did throughout the 2013 season.

This season is different. The Seahawks are the quiet favorites once again and Wilson is heating up at just the right time. Wilson is as dynamic as any quarterback in the league right now, making Seattle’s offense difficult to stop. He may not have the strongest arm in the world, but he is clutch and he has playoff experience.

That is what makes him the #1 quarterback in my postseason power rankings.







Is an undefeated season realistic for Kentucky?

An undefeated season could be a reality for the hungry Wildcats
 

By Nate Gice

There were high expectations surrounding the Kentucky Wildcats in 2013. Despite finishing the 2012 season with a loss in the NIT, many experts predicted that the young Wildcats would finish with an undefeated record in 2013.

However, the experts couldn’t have been more wrong. The Wildcats finished the regular season with a 29-11 record, including six losses in SEC play. By the end of March they weren’t even ranked. They did, however, give us a glimpse of what is to come this season, reaching the championship game in the NCAA tournament.

With a 58-50 victory over rival Louisville on Saturday, the 2014 Wildcats are in great position to do what the 2013 Wildcats ultimately could not do: go undefeated.

What is the difference between this year’s Wildcats and last year’s Wildcats? More depth and more experience.

The general consensus was that Kentucky was too inexperienced and too immature in 2013. Their entire starting lineup was constructed of freshmen, including Julius Randle and James Young. Now, those freshmen were as talented as any, but they had no experience whatsoever.

This season, a majority of those “inexperienced” freshmen are back. Now they are sophomores who are used to the grind of a long season. Add in Willie Cauley-Stein and a group of new all-americans and you have yourself a roster ready for any challenge.

Like expected, that roster has been prepared for every challenge and every obstacle so far this season. Even without Alex Poythress, a junior who has been through it all, this team hasn’t skipped a beat. That may change as the season progresses, but it doesn’t appear that way right now.

Coach John Calipari is known as a recruiting mastermind, but he has found a way to utilize all of the talent that he recruits. Cal has deployed a platoon system, which allows all of his stars to shine and get the rest that they need. That decision has been a stroke of brilliance this season. However, it is the players that really make it work.

Led by giants Cauley-Stein and Karl-Anthony Towns, the Wildcats are the strongest defensive team in the country. They currently rank second in the nation in points allowed (47.8 per game) and first in defensive rating (73.3). Also, they allow opponents to shoot at a clip of nearly 30%.

Now that is what I call defense.

With all of that said, I think that we can all agree that the Wildcats are the top team in all of college basketball. I don’t think it is even close anymore. But I’m not sure if a perfect record is realistic for this team.

The way I see it, three things are needed in order to win basketball games at the college level: skill, preparation, and luck.

The Wildcats are as skilled and prepared as anyone, but they are going to need some luck along the way. Will their luck run out?

There’s no doubt that Kentucky could finish the regular season with an unblemished record, but an undefeated season is unrealistic in the modern age. Anything can happen in March and April, something that Wichita State knows all too well…..


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