Waiting For Next Year http://www.waitingfornextyear.com ...a tradition of hope, passion, and misery Fri, 30 Jan 2015 03:23:11 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0.1 Tyson Gentry’s foundation, Ohio State, and sports media – WFNY Podcast – 2015-01-29 http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2015/01/tyson-gentrys-foundation-ohio-state-sports-media-wfny-podcast-2015-01-29/ http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2015/01/tyson-gentrys-foundation-ohio-state-sports-media-wfny-podcast-2015-01-29/#comments Fri, 30 Jan 2015 03:23:11 +0000 http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/?p=138837 It’s been a long time since Denny and I got together and talked. It’s been a long time since we chatted. Also, make sure you check out Tyson Gentry’s foundation. First birthday party for Denny’s daughter Filing new kids toys in and filing other stuff out Ohio State wins the whole shebang Denny’s relationship to

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It’s been a long time since Denny and I got together and talked. It’s been a long time since we chatted.

Also, make sure you check out Tyson Gentry’s foundation.

  • First birthday party for Denny’s daughter
  • Filing new kids toys in and filing other stuff out
  • Ohio State wins the whole shebang
  • Denny’s relationship to sports and Ohio State
  • Braxton Miller and what he’s earned in terms of benefit of the doubt
  • Tyson Gentry post and what he’s doing with his foundation
  • Not being rewarded for working hard at writing on the Internet
  • Rewarded for effort on the Internet vs. buzz words
  • The dynamics of sports media and WFNY
  • Age and getting older and stuff
  • Gray hair and the aging process
  • Denny getting back to running

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Kyrie Irving named to 2015 All-Star Team http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2015/01/kyrie-irving-named-2015-star-team/ http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2015/01/kyrie-irving-named-2015-star-team/#comments Fri, 30 Jan 2015 00:29:00 +0000 http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/?p=138831 Sources have told ESPN.com that Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving will be on the 2015 Eastern Conference All-Star team. Dave McMenamin broke the news on Twitter Thursday evening. The reserves for the NBA All-Star teams are set to be announced Thursday night on TNT during a special pregame show that begins at 7 PM. The “TNT

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Sources have told ESPN.com that Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving will be on the 2015 Eastern Conference All-Star team. Dave McMenamin broke the news on Twitter Thursday evening.

The reserves for the NBA All-Star teams are set to be announced Thursday night on TNT during a special pregame show that begins at 7 PM. The “TNT NBA Tip-Off presented by AutoTrader.com” precedes TNT’s usual slate of Thursday night games. However, news on who made the teams had been leaking throughout Thursday afternoon from reporters like McMenamin and Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Kyrie Irving’s spot on the team appeared imminent once Woj learned that only three of the four Atlanta Hawks in contention for All-Star positions made the cut. Hawks guard Kyle Korver appears to be the most likely “first off” with Kyrie making the team.

Much had been made over the past week over Kyrie Irving’s All-Star possibilities and worthiness. He squelched any questions of his All-Star credentials after a 55-point performance on Wedesday night against the Portland Trail Blazers in Cleveland, capped by a game-winning three-pointer dript in swag. His 55 points were the most ever scored by a player in Quicken Loans Arena, and the second highest point total ever for a Cavalier in a game. Irving joined Kevin Love and LeBron James as one of the handful of players in the league to score more than 37 points in consecutive games over the last six seasons (Irving had 38 points on Tuesday when the Cavaliers beat the Pistons). Since 2008-2009, only 10 players have accomplished the feat, and the Cavs are the only team with more than one current player to do so.1

It’s unclear how much of the process was left to play out Thursday before the reserve selections were finalized, but Kyrie’s Wednesday night performance didn’t hurt his case. It also would have been bizarre to omit the 2014 NBA All-Star game MVP, a distinction that Irving won in last year’s track meet/exhibition game. Irving will join teammate LeBron James on the Eastern Conference All-Stars. It’s certain that Kevin Love, a starter on the 2014 Western Conference All-Star team, will not.

  1. As usual, thanks to Basketball-Reference.com.

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Browns raise ticket prices for 2015 season http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2015/01/browns-raise-ticket-prices-2015-season/ http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2015/01/browns-raise-ticket-prices-2015-season/#comments Thu, 29 Jan 2015 20:34:46 +0000 http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/?p=138823 The Cleveland Browns have held their ticket prices flat for quite some time. They’ve not raised prices since 2008, not-so-incidentally after a ten-win season. The Browns also made apparent in their press release that they’ve ranked 31st in the league for average ticket prices in each of the past two seasons. Still, it’s hard to

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The Cleveland Browns have held their ticket prices flat for quite some time. They’ve not raised prices since 2008, not-so-incidentally after a ten-win season. The Browns also made apparent in their press release that they’ve ranked 31st in the league for average ticket prices in each of the past two seasons. Still, it’s hard to imagine this news will be greeted warmly by the fans even as they did get to sit in a newly revamped stadium this past season and have been promised exciting new dining options for 2015.

“We are very sensitive to fan affordability as we recognize and greatly appreciate our fans’ commitment to support the Browns and build the best home-field advantage,” said Browns President Alec Scheiner. “We continue to work towards our primary goals: building a winning football team and creating the best fan experience in the NFL. While we have made progress, clearly we know we have work to do.”

According to a September 2014 AP story, the Browns’ average ticket price was $54.20. The Browns also reduced capacity at the stadium to 67,160 with last year’s renovations, so on the surface it makes some sense that they’d be looking to raise ticket prices. At the same time, the way the league’s financial dynamics work, it’s hard to stomach.

If the Browns sell every ticket to all 10 games they’ll make $36.4 million (67,160 x 10 games x $54.20.) That’s nothing to sneeze at, of course. Let’s say they raise ticket prices enough to jump Jacksonville, but stay below Buffalo and average ticket prices are now $60. That only boosts them to $40.3 million. Meanwhile, the NFL’s national TV deals continue to soar and the NFL recently paid an antiquated $187.7 million to the Packers for their 1/32nd share.

So, even with that old number, if the Browns made $224.1 million between national TV and their ticket revenues, their ticket price increase granted them an increase of 1.74% in revenue. Like less than 2% of even just these two known portions of revenue. That argument might also work to their favor, by the way. They might say, look, we’re barely raising the prices at all.

The point is though that we’re paying for it all. Every time there’s a TV contract that skyrockets, we pay that through local cable providers and DirecTV. The average cable bill has practically tripled in the last ten years or so.

And this isn’t even criticism levied directly at the Browns. They’ve been more fair than most in a lot of ways. They kept ticket prices flat for a long time because the team’s been so bad. They’ve also taken a slightly less abusive track on capital improvements for stadiums too, although I would still argue that’s a bad deal for any city to bite off so much of stadium costs even in the way of tax subsidies.

In the end, I’m not surprised at all that the Browns raised prices. It was probably pretty difficult to continually go to owners meetings and tell everyone that they were going to continue to lag behind and do nothing about it. So the Browns got started. Of course if they made the playoffs once or twice over the next five years, it would be even easier to justify.

Until then…

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Josh Gordon: I’m not an addict http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2015/01/cleveland-browns-josh-gordon-essay/ http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2015/01/cleveland-browns-josh-gordon-essay/#comments Thu, 29 Jan 2015 18:38:07 +0000 http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/?p=138815 Josh Gordon has been radio silent since word leaked of a potential suspension for all of 2015, but it turns out that the Cleveland Browns wide receiver was just waiting for the right time to shoot back at his critics. In a first-person piece written at Medium.com’s The Cauldron, Gordon takes on Charles Barkley, Cris

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Josh Gordon has been radio silent since word leaked of a potential suspension for all of 2015, but it turns out that the Cleveland Browns wide receiver was just waiting for the right time to shoot back at his critics. In a first-person piece written at Medium.com’s The Cauldron, Gordon takes on Charles Barkley, Cris Carter and others while detailing exactly how he ended up in his current predicament.

Dear Sir Charles, Stephen A., Cris and other interested parties,

Thank you for your recent outpouring of concern about my well being. In what has been a difficult time for my family, friends and fans, you — and those like you — have taken it upon yourselves to express just how much you care about me and my future. For that, I am truly appreciative. …

First, words cannot express the remorse and regret I feel over this latest incident. I acknowledge that the repeated transgressions that have led up to this point have damaged my credibility, and for that, the only person to blame is me.

I have let down many in Cleveland — my Browns teammates, our hard-working coaching staff, the team’s ownership, and the loyal fan base that wants nothing more than to win. Playing there is different than in many other cities. We feel the fans’ pain. We know how important this is to them.

Also, I have disappointed the family and close friends who have always stood by me — no matter how tough things have been at certain points in my life. Believe me, there have been more dark days than I care to remember.

Most importantly, I have failed myself. Again.

Gordon details his childhood—one riddled with poverty and violence—in addition to his use of marijuana (a drug he says he has not used since 2012), his time in college (which, in hindsight, was lacking preparation), his DWI case, and how the alleged violation of the league’s policy due to consuming alcohol occurred.

The entire piece is worthy of your time as fans of the Cleveland Browns, regardless of how you feel about Gordon. Some may believe him, some may not. He owned everything, even if laced with explanation. He admits to making poor decisions, but in the end, urges everyone to stop attempting to diagnose from afar.

 

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WFNY’s 2014 Cleveland Browns Position Review: Wide Receivers http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2015/01/wfnys-2014-cleveland-browns-position-review-wide-receivers/ http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2015/01/wfnys-2014-cleveland-browns-position-review-wide-receivers/#comments Thu, 29 Jan 2015 18:02:17 +0000 http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/?p=138743 Over the last few weeks, I have been reviewing and discussing the performance of the 2014 Cleveland Browns position by position. It was a tough season for the Cleveland Browns, falling in five straight games to end the season at 7-9. The team showed some glimpses of promise and some other areas of concern. So

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Over the last few weeks, I have been reviewing and discussing the performance of the 2014 Cleveland Browns position by position. It was a tough season for the Cleveland Browns, falling in five straight games to end the season at 7-9. The team showed some glimpses of promise and some other areas of concern. So lets get to the next position!

The Cleveland Browns’ wide receiver position improved over the past few seasons, but it still lacks the playmakers who can change the game. This past offseason, the Browns added Andrew Hawkins, Miles Austin, and Marlon Moore in free agency. They also added Taylor Gabriel as an undrafted free agent after last year’s NFL Draft. The receivers as a group had 188 receptions for 2,630 yards and eight touchdowns. The receiving group averaged just 13.9 yards per reception. It is a group with a lot of good receivers, but without a reliable number one receiver. This position will be a point of emphasis to address for the Browns this offseason.

So let’s go through the players who made up the 2014 Cleveland Browns’ wide receiver unit.

Josh Gordon

Josh Gordon’s 2014 NFL season was a complete disaster for the Browns. Because of the drug suspension, he only played in five games, catching 24 passes for 303 yards. ProFootballFocus gave him a +2.1 overall grade for his five games. His first two games from suspension were pretty good, notching 15 receptions for 195 yards. But from week 14 on, Gordon disappeared and ended up getting suspended in the final week of the season because he missed the team’s walkthrough. He is a big receiver with great athleticism for a player his size. He could be the most talented receiver in the entire NFL, but wastes his talent because of many suspensions and character problems. Gordon is the team’s number one receiver, but he is never available to really be the reliable player for the Browns.

Gordon will most likely be suspended for the entire season next year due to another reported failed drug test, this time for alcohol. His future in the NFL is up in the air let alone his future with the Browns. He is a player the Browns can not trust and are not relying on to be on their team in the future.

2014 Grade: F

2015 Outlook: Suspended for Season

Andrew Hawkins

Updated-2014-Cleveland-Browns-Positions-Review-copy-compressorJan. 6: Defensive Line
Jan. 8: Linebackers
Jan. 13: Cornerbacks
Jan. 15: Safeties
Jan. 19: Offensive Line
Jan. 21: Tight Ends
Jan. 27: Running Back/Fullbacks
Jan. 29: Wide Receivers

Andrew Hawkins was the team’s most reliable and best receiver this season. In 15 games last year, he had 63 receptions for 825 yards and two touchdowns. He led the team in receptions and receiving yards this season. ProFootballFocus gave him the highest overall grade of all the receivers with a +11.5 grade. He is a quick receiver with good hands, only dropping four passes all season. He is a player with the ability to make plays after the catch, compiling 404 yards after the catch this year. He runs pretty good routes and plays tough for a smaller receiver. Hawkins is probably better suited as the slot receiver, but was forced to play outside because of the lack of depth and talent in the receiver group. His skill set is a great fit in the middle of the field because of his ability to make tough receptions and run after the catch.

Hawkins will be in line to be one of the Browns’ starting wide receivers next season. He is a valuable player for the offense and the best receiver on the team currently. I am hoping the Browns can find receivers to allow Hawkins to move inside to slot receiver, so he can show off his true skillset.

2014 Grade: A

2015 Outlook: Starting Wide Receiver; Major Contributor

Miles Austin

Miles Austin was a very solid pickup for the Browns last offseason. In 12 games this past year, he had 47 receptions for 568 yards and two touchdowns. ProFootballFocus graded his season with +1.1 overall grade. He started as one of the outside receivers in all 12 games. For a player who had missed a lot of time over the last few years, Austin was pretty reliable before suffering yet another injury that ended his season early. He made a lot of big catches late in games to get first big first downs for the offense. He runs very good routes, making him a reliable target for the quarterback. He does not have the same speed nor athleticism he had earlier in his career, so he is pretty much just a possession receiver at this point in his career.

Austin is an unrestricted free agent this offseason. His future with the Browns will be determined on who the Browns add to the receiver unit this offseason. I believe the Browns will look to go the younger route and probably let Austin go in free agency.

2014 Grade: B-

2015 Outlook: UFA; Unlikely to Return

Taylor Gabriel

Taylor Gabriel was one of the young bright spots on an offense that fell apart last season. The undrafted free agent played in all 16 games, notching 38 receptions for 633 yards and one touchdown. ProFootballFocus gave him the second highest grade of all the Browns receivers (+6.9). He is a smaller receiver with the ability to make big plays because of his quickness and route running. His route running along with his quickness helps him get separation, opening a window for the quarterback. He is pretty similar to Hawkins in that he is best after the catch. He had 289 yards after the catch this season for the Browns. He has solid hands, only dropping four passes all season. Gabriel is definitely a young player the Browns can build with on the offense.

Gabriel will most likely come into next season as a third or fourth receiver for the Browns. He should get more playing time because of his production he showed this past season. I am very high on him having an expanded role next season.

2014 Grade: A-

2015 Outlook: Third or Fourth Receiver; Big Contributor

Travis Benjamin

Travis Benjamin showed glimpses of improvement on offense, but struggled in his kick and punt returning duties. In 16 games, he had 18 receptions for 314 yards and three touchdowns. He had 15 punt returns for 130 yards (8.7 yards/return) and 12 kick returns for 246 yards (20.5 yards/return). ProFootballFocus gave him a -0.7 overall grade for his performance last season. He is a player with blazing speed to make big plays for the offense. Early in the year, he was having his best season of his career, but he ended it with a big drop-off. Benjamin struggled for much of the season in the return game because of an early season fumble problem. He lost his confidence and never really regained his form of previous years.

Benjamin will come into next season as the punt returner and a backup receiver. He has the talent to be a big playmaker for the offense because of his speed. He can be the playmaker in the return game if he can return to his previous form as a very good punt returner.

2014 Grade: C-

2015 Outlook: Starting Punt Returner; Backup Receiver; Big Play Contributor

Marlon Moore

Marlon Moore really emerged as an excellent special teams player for the Browns. In 13 games, he had nine tackles on punt and kickoff coverage, while also returning 13 kickoffs for 322 yards (24.8 yards per return). ProFootballFocus gave him an overall special teams grade of +2.2. He has speed and toughness to get down the field very quickly and make a play in special teams coverage. He has the mentality to play on special teams and energize the team with a big tackle.

Moore is an unrestricted free agent this offseason. He is a valuable special teams player, so he has value even though he did not produce on offense. His chance of returning for the Browns next season is 50/50.

2014 Grade: C

2015 Outlook: UFA; 50/50 Chance of Returning

 

Other Running Backs on the roster with too little playing time: Rodney Smith, Kevin Cone, and Phil Bates

Overview and Outlook to 2015

The wide receiver unit has a couple of good young receivers in Andrew Hawkins and Taylor Gabriel, but it lacks a true number one receiver and overall depth. Josh Gordon was set to be the Browns number one receiver, but he is no longer in the plans for the Browns because of another suspension. Travis Benjamin is not a receiver you can rely on for a lot of plays, just here and there in gadget or big play situations. So beyond just looking for a number one receiver, the Browns must add talented depth to this group.

One of biggest things the receiver group lacks is size. In finding receivers this offseason, the team needs to look for some bigger pass catchers to give the unit more versatility. There is no real redzone threat amongst the Browns’ receivers. Adding a bigger player will allow the team to move Hawkins and Gabriel inside to their best position as a slot receiver. The addition of at least two other receivers can help make the players already on the roster better.

The Browns will probably look to add their receivers in both free agency and the draft. There will be a lot of options in free agency to fill this need. Randall Cobb of the Green Bay Packers, Jeremy Maclin of the Philadelphia Eagles, and Cecil Shorts of the Jacksonville Jaguars are some free agent receivers available. In the draft, Kevin White of West Virginia, DeVante Parker of Louisville, and Jaelen Strong of Arizona State are three options to fit the role of a receiver with size for the Browns. I believe the Browns will at least add one receiver in both free agency and the draft. The Browns’ receiver group will be a position that will most likely change a lot over the offseason.

 

All individual player stats and team stats have come from ProFootballFocus.com.

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Video: Minnesota Timberwolves throw shade at Kevin Love http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2015/01/minnesota-timberwolves-throw-shade-kevin-love-video/ http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2015/01/minnesota-timberwolves-throw-shade-kevin-love-video/#comments Thu, 29 Jan 2015 18:01:14 +0000 http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/?p=138798 In a promotional video hyping the upcoming Cavaliers-Timberwolves game Saturday night, the T-Wolves’ PR team shone a spotlight on a Cav preparing to make his momentous return to the Twin Cities. Some time is spent highlighting Cleveland stars LeBron James and Kyrie Irving, but the video’s thesis is about a certain Caucasian three-point specialist playing his

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In a promotional video hyping the upcoming Cavaliers-Timberwolves game Saturday night, the T-Wolves’ PR team shone a spotlight on a Cav preparing to make his momentous return to the Twin Cities. Some time is spent highlighting Cleveland stars LeBron James and Kyrie Irving, but the video’s thesis is about a certain Caucasian three-point specialist playing his first game in Minnesota as a Cavalier. That player, of course, is–wait, not Kevin Love, but Mike Miller?! 

That’s right. The good basketballing people of Minnesota took a clever, good-natured shot at Kevin Love by making Miller the focal point of their homecoming montage. Love served six seasons up north, but Miller spent one year with the T-Wolves in 2008-09. It was a fairly forgettable campaign for Miller, who averaged 9.9 points in 73 appearances with the club.

He was traded to the Wolves by the Memphis Grizzlies in the summer of 2008, and shipped out to the Washington Wizards in the summer of 2009. The draft rights to Love were the centerpiece of the Memphis deal, while the pick that became Ricky Rubio was the focal point of the exchange with Washington.

This video speaks to a larger trend of NBA teams having fun with social media. The Atlanta Hawks’ Twitter account is an example of this, as they have added a W to the word Hawks for every victory in their 17-game winning streak.

The Cavs got in on the action last night as well, bantering with the Portland Trail Blazers.

Love’s return to Minnesota after being traded is obviously the real story here, so kudos to the Timberwolves for injecting a little humor into the situation instead of treating a star coming back like a life or death matter.

Um, not that we know anything about that in Cleveland.

(Tip of the cap to Steve McPherson aka @steventurous for sharing.)

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You only get one first Cavaliers game http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2015/01/kyrie-irving-cavaliers-55-point-game/ http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2015/01/kyrie-irving-cavaliers-55-point-game/#comments Thu, 29 Jan 2015 16:42:51 +0000 http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/?p=138786 You only get one first. Regardless of how it turns out, that’s just how life works. Whether it’s your first kiss, first rock concert or first Cavs game, you only get one first. Even though the Cavaliers’ big win over Portland didn’t go as planned, it was one hell of a first for my son

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You only get one first. Regardless of how it turns out, that’s just how life works. Whether it’s your first kiss, first rock concert or first Cavs game, you only get one first. Even though the Cavaliers’ big win over Portland didn’t go as planned, it was one hell of a first for my son Ben.

Ben is four and turns five in about three months. Ever since LeBron James announced his return to Cleveland, he’s wanted to go to a Cavs game. I don’t know how it happens, but even in a young kid’s daycare world, he knew that he was supposed to want to see LeBron James play basketball. After my wife and I attended the opener at great expense, I decided that Ben and I would take the route of last minute Flash Seats, preferably on a random weekday, in order to avoid giant gobs of money. A Wednesday night in January seemed like the right time and I pulled the trigger around lunchtime.

At five, I took off for home to get Ben so we could head down to the game. We were almost there, pulling into our parking lot for the evening and then it happened. The Bull and Fox show was on in the background as I searched for money to pay the attendant, but all of a sudden the audio popped straight to the forefront. Some Vegas “insider” was on the phone talking about some MRI. LeBron James was out. I finally get my son down to a Cavs game and LeBron James was out? This couldn’t be happening. All day long everyone said LeBron was going to play.

After unbuckling Ben from his seat in the back, but before I put him down to walk, I broke the news to Ben. I think he probably heard it on the radio too, but until you really lay it out there for a four-year-old it might not sink in. “Ben, I’ve got some bad news buddy. LeBron James is hurt and he isn’t playing tonight.”

Much to my surprise, Ben didn’t even worry about himself. He didn’t instantly think about what he was about to miss in the way of LeBron James playing for the Cavaliers. Instead, that compassionate little bastard instantly went into sympathy mode. “Daddy, how did LeBron hurt his wrist? Did he get hit by a basketball? It must really hurt a lot!”

[Related: Watch every field goal from Kyrie Irving’s 55-point game]

Here I was, as the adult, preparing for the pity party over our tough luck at missing out on LeBron James and my son schooled me. Even for all my tough talk about not treating professional athletes like objects, or buckets of statistics, I’d lost the true human perspective on LeBron’s wrist and instantly only thought about myself and how it impacted me. Maybe children aren’t wired that way and we only teach them to take true humanity for granted over time. We should probably stop doing that.

Regardless, my whole attitude changed and Ben and I chatted during the walk to the arena. We spotted the Goodyear Blimp and plane after plane flying high above the buildings. We’re talking about buildings that are so tall, “you can’t even reach the top, daddy.” Apparently I’m still the gold standard for tall things.

We talked about the team and how the Blazers were “the bad guys.” That’s another thing about four-year-olds. Every sporting event is painted with a “good guy vs. bad guy” paintbrush like it’s Teen Titans Go. Ben always wants to know which color jersey we’re rooting for and against.

Finally, we got into The Q, and started walking toward our seats. Ben stopped me just a few feet in and made me kneel down so he could tell me something. I leaned in to hear his tiny voice that couldn’t cut through the din of Cavs fans going to find their seats. He looked at me with a look that told me he had something important to ask me. “Daddy, I smell popcorn. Can we get popcorn?”

“Of course we can, buddy,” I replied.

On his own, there’s no way that Ben would ever remember his first Cavs game. I’d love to say that he was completely engaged in the action and that he exploded out of his seat with every Kyrie Irving bomb from outside. I’d like to say he understood just how electric it was to watch the Cavaliers extend their winning streak against the Blazers without their best player as they fight to prove they’re a true team instead of a misaligned collection of talented players. I’d love to say that Ben came away from his first game knowing that he witnessed history as Kyrie Irving scored 55 and notched a game-winner. The fact is that on his own, Ben will probably only remember that giant scoreboard and the fact that the swords shot fire during pre-game intros.

That’s where I come in. I’ll show him the pictures. I’ll occasionally tell him the story of how we went to his first game and how LeBron didn’t play, but Kyrie Irving surely did. I’ll tell him that it was fun and amazing and how he asked me about popcorn.

You only get one first. January 28, 2015 was Ben’s and it was awesome.

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Video: Watch every Kyrie Irving field goal from his 55-point night http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2015/01/video-watch-kyrie-irving-55-point-night/ http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2015/01/video-watch-kyrie-irving-55-point-night/#comments Thu, 29 Jan 2015 15:30:30 +0000 http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/?p=138759 If you missed Wednesday night’s Cavaliers game, I’m not sure why you would admit it. However, even for those who did watch Kyrie Irving take down the Portland Trailblazers with an NBA-best 55-point outing, putting all of (or most of) his shots in one compilation makes you realize just how incredible this night was. From the

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If you missed Wednesday night’s Cavaliers game, I’m not sure why you would admit it. However, even for those who did watch Kyrie Irving take down the Portland Trailblazers with an NBA-best 55-point outing, putting all of (or most of) his shots in one compilation makes you realize just how incredible this night was. From the three-pointers off of a screen or taking Blazers big man LaMarcus Aldridge off the dribble with a kiss off the glass, the reigning All-Star MVP was simply fantastic.

Irving made a franchise-record 11 3-pointers, breaking the record of 10 previously set by C.J. Miles last season. He joins former Detroit Piston guard Joe Dumars as the only players in NBA history with at least 10 3-pointers and 10 free throws in a game. It was a perfectly executed, much-needed night as the Blazers would not go away quietly. It was just the Cavaliers’ second win in 10 games this season without James.

“It means a lot,” Irving said following the game. “For me, it’s just about the intensity of the game and being out there with my gracious teammates and them doing a great job of getting me open and setting great screens. I’m just happy to get the win. That’s the only thing that really matters. We continue our streak.

“I’m just thankful that the fans were here and my teammates were here and we got the win. That’s it, simply put.”

On the season, Irving is averaging 22.1 points, 5.2 assists, 3.1 rebounds and 1.6 steals while shooting a career best 41.3 percent from 3-point territory. For more on the game-winner, you’ll want to go here.

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The Approach http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2015/01/kyrie-irving-cavaliers-trail-blazers-55-points/ http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2015/01/kyrie-irving-cavaliers-trail-blazers-55-points/#comments Thu, 29 Jan 2015 15:00:45 +0000 http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/?p=138747 Twenty seconds left. Tie game, penultimate possession, four-second differential. Ball in hand, a 6-foot-8 Frenchman defending. Some three-and-a-half million pounds worth of Cavs fans1 on their feet. Millions more watching. Cameras fixed on him—necessarily, between LeBron James’ absence and his own 50 points. A scratch of the nose with the right hand while dribbling with

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Twenty seconds left. Tie game, penultimate possession, four-second differential. Ball in hand, a 6-foot-8 Frenchman defending. Some three-and-a-half million pounds worth of Cavs fans1 on their feet. Millions more watching. Cameras fixed on him—necessarily, between LeBron James’ absence and his own 50 points. A scratch of the nose with the right hand while dribbling with the left.

Fifteen seconds now. A gentle turn toward the near sideline, the ball not bouncing so much as keeping time. No movement off the ball, no pick-and-roll, no dribble handoff. Straight isolation. Teammates and opponents and coaches and fans all settling into position, primed to react. Goosebumps, damp palms, hopeful eyes.

Twelve seconds. His last shot had perhaps been his best to that point, a vital three-pointer that went through the net how you run your hand through a Brittany spaniel’s coat. It was his tenth triple of the night. It forced a Trail Blazer timeout and inspired Fred McLeod to bellow, slowly, simply, and aptly, “He’s got five-oh!”


There was zero panic in his posture, no misstep in his cadence.

The Cavaliers were stalking an eighth straight win, against a Portland team that owned the third-best record in an exceptionally fierce conference. No other Cavalier had better than 12 points, and Kevin Love and JR Smith shot with all the accuracy of Yosemite Sam. Kyrie Irving had single-handedly kept the Cavaliers in the fight with LaMarcus Aldridge and the Trail Blazers. He possessed the ball with an opportunity to put his team ahead. Everyone knew he would be the one taking the shot.

With ten seconds remaining, Irving made his move. There was zero panic in his posture, no misstep in his cadence. He knew what he was going to do, and he knew how it was going to happen. It looked practiced because he had surely practiced that very pull-up shot heaps of times. Had Portland sent a double, Plan B would have been a drive to the hole, but Portland didn’t send a double. Plan A had the green light.

The move was clever in its simplicity. A player defined by his flair, his panache, his ability to slip through holes like Barry Sanders, would simply take one last dribble and rise up. Kyrie’s final crossover was the sort of game-winning move Ikea would make. No muss, no fuss, no unnecessary detours on the path to the basket; just a clean, efficient design. Fewer moving parts means less chance of malfunction.

A victory would mean that they were capable of beating a good team without LeBron. It would be just one game, yes, but all games are not created equal. Some get inflated as armies of observers fill them with meaning, while others atrophy before they’re forgotten entirely. Losing to Portland would have been forgivable on a back-to-back and third in four days, but prolonging the winning streak would have been impressive for the same reasons.

The game was on the line, and perhaps the Cavaliers’ momentum with it. The point guard from Duke was the only player in a white jersey who could find the bottom of the bucket. In a band with three lead guitarists, he was given a rare chance to solo. The moment was his, and everybody knew it.

And Kyrie Irving could not have been cooler.

  1. Estimating 175 pounds x 20,000 people.

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Karlos Dansby, Joe Haden defend Johnny Manziel http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2015/01/cleveland-browns-johnny-manziel-haden/ http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2015/01/cleveland-browns-johnny-manziel-haden/#comments Thu, 29 Jan 2015 14:15:16 +0000 http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/?p=138738 It wasn’t all that long ago when Cleveland Browns defensive team captain Karlos Dansby was voicing his displeasure with first-round draft selection Justin Gilbert. Gilbert, recall, was the chief target of the Browns as they looked to shore up their defensive backfield, only to have the player produce a season that left plenty to be

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It wasn’t all that long ago when Cleveland Browns defensive team captain Karlos Dansby was voicing his displeasure with first-round draft selection Justin Gilbert. Gilbert, recall, was the chief target of the Browns as they looked to shore up their defensive backfield, only to have the player produce a season that left plenty to be desired.

Interestingly, Dansby offers a different line of thinking with fellow first-rounder, quarterback Johnny Manziel who had his fair share of struggles both on and off of the field in 2014. When asked on NFL Network if Manziel could be the team’s quarterback of the future, Dansby didn’t hesitate.

“Oh without a doubt,” Dansby said. “It’s gonna take a lot of sacrifices. Guys can’t have egos, you gotta check ‘em at the door. We [have to] rally around each other and continue to fight for each other, just play lights-out football, and that’s what we’re gonna [have to do].”

These sentiments came just weeks after the linebacker stated that both first-roaders wasted their rookie seasons. Injuring his hamstring in his second start, Manziel finished 2014 with roughly seven quarters of football, completing 13-of-26 passes for 112 yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions. Less than a week ago, Manziel was the subject of a report that quoted Browns players, mostly of the anonymous variety, who slammed their teammate.

Dansby’s defensive teammate Joe Haden shares similar beliefs. A flashy player of his own coming out of college, Haden was a big fan of the NFL nightlife over the course of his first few seasons in the NFL, even being subject to a four-game suspension for taking Aderral during a trip to Las Vegas. In what may be a bit of a “takes one to know one” opinion, the Pro Bowl cornerback believes that Manziel has what it takes to succeed at this NFL level despite his early struggles.

“Johnny is definitely not a joke,” Haden said in a radio interview, directing his comments at the ESPN report. “It’s not true at all that Johnny’s teammates think he’s a 100% joke.

“Johnny takes too much bashing for nothing and the thing is that being a quarterback in the NFL is so much harder. They can’t do anything. If Johnny is to do anything that shows him having fun instead of being in the meeting room, they blow him up.”

For those who have taken issue with Manziel spending the first few weeks of his offseason in Miami and Aspen, you may want to look at Haden who advised the quarterback to “breathe” a bit and come back this summer ready to work.

“Relax, chill, breathe,” Haden said of his advice to Manziel. “Because when he comes back, he knows now—when I hit rock bottom when I got suspended for Adderall, people were coming at me like I’ve never had that coming at me before and I felt a certain type of way and I just knew then that I needed to change.”

It goes without saying that Manziel sophomore season will be make or break for him, not just on the field, but in the way he prepares himself thought the season. Those close to him appear to have faith. It’ll be up to Johnny to hold up his end of the bargain.

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Kyrie with one for the ages, conference climate, and Buckeye turnout: While We’re Waiting… http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2015/01/kyrie-one-ages-conference-climate-buckeye-turnout-waiting/ http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2015/01/kyrie-one-ages-conference-climate-buckeye-turnout-waiting/#comments Thu, 29 Jan 2015 14:06:50 +0000 http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/?p=138765 Good morning and Happy Thursday, WFNY-ers! Did anybody catch the Cavs game last night? If you didn’t, you missed one of the best individual performances in Cavalier franchise history, courtesy of Kyrie Irving. When word came down that the wine and gold would be LeBron-less last night, the mind immediately jumped to that 1-8 record

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Good morning and Happy Thursday, WFNY-ers!

Did anybody catch the Cavs game last night? If you didn’t, you missed one of the best individual performances in Cavalier franchise history, courtesy of Kyrie Irving. When word came down that the wine and gold would be LeBron-less last night, the mind immediately jumped to that 1-8 record without him this year. Kyrie has been in the position before far too much, forced to try to do it all offensively as the defense heavily shifts toward stopping him. Last night, however, with his sweet shooting stroke and a little inventiveness on the offensive sets, Irving continued to get good shots off. His career-high 55 points trails only LeBron’s 56 on the road against the Raptors in a 2005 loss in Cavalier lore.

Timofey Mozgov finished second on the team in scoring with 12 points. Irving had to take 36 of the team’s 85 shots during 39 minutes on the court. In essence, Kyrie had to do it all by himself offensively after starting 0-for-7 from the field against one of the best teams that the West has to offer, and he simply did it. It was a big moment from the downer of losing James to keep the momentum of the eight-game winning streak going.

I know the Hawks are 31-2 in their last 33 games and have won 17 straight, but that’s no excuse for giving them four All-Stars and snubbing someone like Irving, who is a dynamically better player than he was one year ago when he was selected and won the game’s MVP award. When the East reserves are announced on Thursday evening, Irving’s name is a no-brainer to turn up. Last night was only an exclamation point on the statement that Kyrie’s been making all season at both ends of the floor.

Marc Stein of ESPN has Irving in with three Hawks (Korver omitted). Three of the four CBS Sports guys have Irving in (Oh hi, Matt Moore choosing Brandon Knight instead!)

I’m not saying the Hawks couldn’t get four guys, but the Cavaliers had to scratch and claw to get TWO guys representing them when they were rolling through the league like this in 2009, and it was only after LeBron campaigning and a Jameer Nelson injury that Mo Williams got in!

Sorry, Atlanta, you’ve been great, but you should be more than satisfied with three All-Stars.

On the flip side, Kevin Love was pretty bad. He shot just 3-of-15, contributing 10 points and 12 rebounds. His shooting touch is off, and other than an early charge taken, he was basically a non-factor on defense yet again. Right now, after the first quarter of most games, Love is functioning only as a decoy on offense and as a rebounder. If it is Love’s back spasms that are limiting him, then he needs to be sat down for some rest, much like the tough decision the Cavs had to make with James last month.

I admire Love for gutting it out, given that Brendan Haywood is the only big on the bench not in the rotation and to call him serviceable would be a stretch. But, this team has to be thinking about their health come April. Having this form of Love is not going to get the Cavaliers where they need to go. I’ve been very hard on Love, and I’m going to continue to be until his game either improves or the Cavs sit him down. The Cavaliers aren’t likely in danger of dropping past the fifth seed in the East, and they should probably err on the side of caution when it comes to health for later in the playoff push.

Speaking of playoffs, what if the conferences were no more? Well, the Cavaliers *would* likely be playing for something more meaningful as they sit 13th currently and would have a first-round matchup with the Blazers they saw last night, per Grantland’s Kirk Goldsberry. If the Bucks passed them right now, they’d fall to sixth and avoid Atlanta in the second round potentially. If the Bucks passed them in this proposal, the Cavs would be playing the best team overall, Golden State.

I’m not typically a fan of this type of stuff. I think conferences and divisions exist for geographic and rivalry reasons. The West has traditionally been better, but the East has often had a few, elite teams over the past decade with the West having more parity.

Last Saturday morning, after a tiring week of work travel, I woke up in Westlake at about 5:00 am, drove to where I grew up in Marblehead, picked up two of my college buddies, and we headed down to Columbus for the Ohio State national championship celebration. We were three of 45,000 fans that packed the lower bowl of the ‘Shoe to hear Urban Meyer, Gene Smith, and select members of the coaching staff and players talk about their season’s journey. In case you were wondering, 45k beat the annual home attendance of four conference schools (Indiana, Illinois, Purdue, Northwestern) as well as those salty TCU Horned Frogs.

I remember thinking about how much effort six plus hours of driving would be for a one-hour celebration. But, I’m glad we went. We stopped at Adriatico’s for a sheet of delicious Sicilian pizza and spent the afternoon walking around campus and reminiscing. It was good for the soul, and it reminded me of how much I enjoyed my eight years in Columbus and five years on OSU campus.

The guys over at Eleven Warriors are the best in the business when it comes to Ohio State reading. Period. If you haven’t seen any of their game posters that come out prior to each game, they are an artistic treat. This one is their masterpiece to commemorate the national title, courtesy of Walt Keys.

Super Bowl week is upon us, and I probably couldn’t be less excited for the game. It involves two teams many thought would be here. One I actively despise due to their former Browns coach and Michigan quarterback. The other won the Lombardi last year and has plenty of personalities that I’d rather leave than take. But, I hope the game is close, the commercials are solid, and Katy Perry puts on a good performance at halftime. I’m actually going to a friend’s house on Sunday (weather permitting), which strangely enough I think counts as my first “Super Bowl party”.

I guess this Browns draft Q&A over at Dawgs By Nature (I will now forever smile when I see Mariota in an Oregon uniform same as I did when I see Ken Dorsey in his Miami gear) will have to keep you warm on a cold Sunday night in January if you lack excitement for the game.

I leave you guys with “Six Times Dion Waiters Should Have Gotten The Ball

Make it a good one, ladies and gents!

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Video: Kyrie Irving gets a Gatorade bath following 55-point night http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2015/01/video-cleveland-cavs-kyrie-irving-celebration/ http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2015/01/video-cleveland-cavs-kyrie-irving-celebration/#comments Thu, 29 Jan 2015 13:15:10 +0000 http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/?p=138761 Kyrie Irving scored a career-high, and current-season NBA-high, 55 points in Wednesday night’s  huge win over the Portland Trailblazers. Irving was the man of the night, earning the on-court post-game interview in addition to the horse that surrounded his locker following his shower. Thanks to Tristan Thompson, we get some rare locker room footage of

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Kyrie Irving scored a career-high, and current-season NBA-high, 55 points in Wednesday night’s  huge win over the Portland Trailblazers. Irving was the man of the night, earning the on-court post-game interview in addition to the horse that surrounded his locker following his shower. Thanks to Tristan Thompson, we get some rare locker room footage of the team’s post-game huddle, the meeting that took place between both media events. And as the situation called, the huddle was a little more than just a “Cavs on Three.”

Check it out below as the team gathers in the middle of their otherwise pristine locker room to give the stud point guard his just due.

Fewer things better in sports than watching grown men jump around like a bunch of boys. Props to Irving for taking it all in stride.

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Cavs vs Blazers Behind the Box Score: Epic Kyrie Irving http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2015/01/cavs-vs-blazers-behind-box-score-epic-kyrie-irving/ http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2015/01/cavs-vs-blazers-behind-box-score-epic-kyrie-irving/#comments Thu, 29 Jan 2015 03:53:01 +0000 http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/?p=138741 Portland Trailblazers (32-14) 94 Cleveland Cavaliers (27-20) 99 [Box Score] Click here to sign up for WFNY’s Cleveland Cavaliers email newsletter The Cleveland Cavaliers came into Wednesday night’s game against the Portland Trailblazers with a 1-8 record this season without LeBron James. That matters, of course, because shortly before the start of this game, it

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Portland Trailblazers (32-14) 94
Cleveland Cavaliers (27-20) 99
[Box Score]

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The Cleveland Cavaliers came into Wednesday night’s game against the Portland Trailblazers with a 1-8 record this season without LeBron James. That matters, of course, because shortly before the start of this game, it was announced that LeBron would miss this game with a wrist injury.

So this one figured to be a tough game from the start. And then Kyrie Irving missed his first seven shots in the game. At that point in time, it felt like we were in for another one of “those” LeBron-less games. But two things happened. First, the Cavaliers as a team decided they were going to defend and play tough. Secondly, Kyrie Irving absolutely went off. This went from looking like it was going to be a forgettable game to a memorable and historic night for the ages.

55 – Kyrie Irving finished the game with 55 points thanks in part to making 11 of 19 three point shots. Typically this Behind the Box Score space is used to highlight five different stats that contributed to the outcome of the game. Tonight, there is only going to be one stat used, because this game was all about Kyrie’s record night.

It’s funny, because I’m not sure I can think of a player who was as great as Kyrie Irving is at such a young age who faced as much criticism as Kyrie has. Especially not from his own fans. Sure, Kyrie has deserved some criticism through the years. He’s far from flawless. But on nights like this, I don’t know how anyone can’t just sit back and enjoy the show.

And sure, the 55 points were incredible. But lets start by looking at Damian Lillard’s night. One of the absolute best young PGs in this league, Lillard struggled tonight hitting just 4 of 19 shots (21.1%) for 14 points. Kyrie Irving’s defensive growth this season has been one of the underrated stories of this team this season. But over this recent winning streak, Kyrie seems to have taken his defense to the next level. He is taking on the challenge of limiting his counterpart on the other team night in and night out. Look at the opposing PG stats over this stretch:

• Pistons, DJ Augustin: 8 of 15 for 19 points
• Thunder, Russell Westbrook: 7 of 26 for 22 points
• Hornets, Kemba Walker: 3 of 14 for 8 points
• Jazz, Trey Burke: 1 of 10 for 2 points
• Bulls, Derrick Rose: 5 of 14 for 18 points
• Clippers, Chris Paul: 4 of 15 for 15 points
• Lakers, Ronnie Price: 1 of 5 for 5 points

Remember, in previous seasons the Cavaliers were absolutely murdered by opposing PGs routinely. That wasn’t coincidence. Nor is it coincidence that right now opposing PGs are really struggling to get their own offense going. Lillard, Westbrook, Rose, Paul. These are some of the elite PGs in this league, and right now Kyrie Irving is outplaying them head to head.

Kyrie’s defense was great in this game, but so was the whole team’s. In a game where LeBron was on the bench and nobody was really able to knock down any shots to help Kyrie on offense, something had to be given for the Cavaliers to win, and the players on this team gave great defensive effort.

But as I said earlier, this night is all about Kyrie’s 55 points. This game was the second highest scoring output in team history, and the most points ever scored by a Cavalier in The Q. It’s unimaginable that this happened after Kyrie started the game 0-7. I’ve never seen anything quite like it.

There were times in this game where Kyrie was perhaps trying to do everything himself. But the thing I loved the most was the several possessions down the stretch where Kyrie gave up the ball early in the set, and then worked hard off the ball to get himself into a better scoring position. You see, Portland had decided to put the much taller Nic Batum on Kyrie. It was a smart adjustment by the Blazers. Unfortunately for them, the Cavaliers counter-adjusted and started running Kyrie off screens away from the ball.

With the Cavaliers trailing by three late and the game seeming to slip away, Kyrie again gave the ball up to Kevin Love at the top. Kyrie then cut into the lane toward the baseline, curled around one screen and came back out to the perimeter, took a pass from Love, and used Love’s body for separation as he turned around to drill the game tying three. It was beautiful offense.

Then, in game’s final minute with the score tied, the Cavaliers spread the floor for Kyrie, who patiently dribbled at the top of the key. With Batum again guarding him, it looked like everyone was waiting for a screen to come to help give Kyrie space. Batum apparently expected this as well. But Kyrie saw the space he needed and just stepped into and drilled his eleventh three-pointer of the game with six seconds left.

On the other end, the Blazers got a decent enough look for Lillard, but this just wasn’t his night and he missed the shot. Kyrie grabbed the rebound, was fouled, and then hit his two free throws to give him his final tally of 55.

It’s hard to put into proper perspective what this game meant for the Cavaliers as a team and for Kyrie Irving as a player. You want to believe this was a huge stepping stone for the team without LeBron, but then again, it took a historic night from Irving to secure the win. But on the other hand, this is a very good Western Conference team and the Cavaliers didn’t pack it in and play lethargic without LeBron on the floor. They hung in there and Kyrie scrapped and fought and willed his team to a big win.

Kyrie Irving just continues to grow as a player, and perhaps more importantly, as a leader. He is becoming more visibly involved in the team, he seems to be buying into the coaching, and he is giving great effort in all aspects of the game. Scoring an NBA season-high 55 points feels like a just result for an already great young player who seems to be maturing and developing into a better all around player right before our eyes.

The Cavaliers obviously still need LeBron James. They aren’t going to be a Championship contender without him. And there’s another time and place to discuss what’s going on with Kevin Love right now (although I must give him props for fighting through a scary knee injury late in this game and staying on the floor to try to help his team any way he could). So while it’s nice to get a big win without him, it’s not nearly important as getting LeBron healthy so he and Kyrie can keep this team moving in the right direction.

This was a fun night for the Cavaliers, and a game few of us who watched it will ever forget. 55 points for Kyrie Irving. Simply unbelievable.

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LeBron James misses Blazers game due to wrist injury http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2015/01/lebron-james-misses-blazers-game-due-wrist-injury/ http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2015/01/lebron-james-misses-blazers-game-due-wrist-injury/#comments Thu, 29 Jan 2015 00:06:06 +0000 http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/?p=138733 The Cleveland Cavaliers are riding high, owners of a seven-game winning streak, but to continue it, they’ll need to do so without LeBron James. The Cavaliers announced just before Wednesday night’s tipoff that James would miss his career-high 10th game of the season with a sore right wrist. He is also likely to miss an

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The Cleveland Cavaliers are riding high, owners of a seven-game winning streak, but to continue it, they’ll need to do so without LeBron James. The Cavaliers announced just before Wednesday night’s tipoff that James would miss his career-high 10th game of the season with a sore right wrist. He is also likely to miss an 11th game on Friday against Sacramento.

James suffered the injury during Wednesday night’s game in Detroit when he blocked a Jodie Meeks shot then fell hard to the ground on both wrists. James remained in the game to finish off a 32-point effort that helped carry the Cavaliers to the finish line for the win.

Cleveland is just 1-8 in the nine games this season that they’ve been without No. 23, suffering many painful blowouts during that period. He missed eight games with a multitude of soreness that included his knee and back in addition to an early season matchup against the Thunder due to his sore left knee.

Shawn Marion started the game in James’s absence. Portland, who looked much gloomier one week ago due to injury, gets Nicolas Batum back from his own wrist injury and Lamarcus Aldridge continues to play through a ligament tear in his thumb.

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Browns to hire Joker Phillips to coach wide receivers http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2015/01/browns-hire-joker-phillips-coach-wide-receivers/ http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2015/01/browns-hire-joker-phillips-coach-wide-receivers/#comments Wed, 28 Jan 2015 20:40:06 +0000 http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/?p=138728 The Cleveland Browns have a new wide receivers coach and his name is Joker. Joker Phillips is set to coach Andrew Hawkins, Taylor Gabriel, Travis Benjamin and Not Josh Gordon. Joseph “Joker” Phillips has been a coach in various capacities since the late 1980’s. He’s had stops in Kentucky, Cincinnati, Minnesota, Notre Dame and South

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The Cleveland Browns have a new wide receivers coach and his name is Joker. Joker Phillips is set to coach Andrew Hawkins, Taylor Gabriel, Travis Benjamin and Not Josh Gordon.

Joseph “Joker” Phillips has been a coach in various capacities since the late 1980’s. He’s had stops in Kentucky, Cincinnati, Minnesota, Notre Dame and South Carolina in various coaching capacities. He’s been a head coach at Kentucky and was most recently a wide receivers coach for Florida. Finally now, at the age of 51, Joker is getting his shot in the NFL.

It might be a relief for Phillips to be in the NFL and away from the NCAA. Zac Jackson tweeted out an old link from September 2014 that contained some details about Phillips’ exit from Florida.

Last June 11, Phillips suddenly resigned from Will Muschamp’s staff, citing personal reasons. A subsequent report by Yahoo Sports said that the University of Miami had reported Phillips for an alleged NCAA violation, having contact with a recruit during a dead period.

No word on what the Browns’ pitch might be to free agent wide receivers, but I’d be willing to let Joker handle it.

The Cleveland Browns still don’t have a quarterbacks coach, but if you trust Lane Adkins’ reporting abilities (I do,) then you can assume the Browns will have one very very soon.

[Also See: Cleveland Browns interviewing Kevin O’Connell for QB coach]

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Terry Francona focused on improving abysmal Indians defense http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2015/01/terry-francona-cleveland-indians-defense/ http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2015/01/terry-francona-cleveland-indians-defense/#comments Wed, 28 Jan 2015 19:03:36 +0000 http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/?p=138725 The Cleveland Indians defense in 2014 was unacceptable. Pick any metric—advanced or arcane—and the Tribe, a season ago, may as well have had cinderblocks bound to their cleats and their gloves on the opposite hands. Considering that their poor defense was addressed ad nauseum throughout the entire season, and more so when the AL Central was

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The Cleveland Indians defense in 2014 was unacceptable. Pick any metric—advanced or arcane—and the Tribe, a season ago, may as well have had cinderblocks bound to their cleats and their gloves on the opposite hands. Considering that their poor defense was addressed ad nauseum throughout the entire season, and more so when the AL Central was within spitting distance, it comes as no surprise that Indians manager Terry Francona is set on addressing what may have very well cost the team a playoff spot.

In an ESPN Insider feature written by Buster Olney, it appears Francona has plans to ramp up the focus on glove work, starting right out of the gate.

Francona and the Indians’ staff have been making plans in their effort to upgrade the defensive play. Typically in spring training drills, players will go at three-quarters speed for the first part of the play — a relay back to the infield, for example — before slowing and never really finishing the play. This year, the Indians’ staff will ask the players to work through all parts of the play; if a rundown results from the cutoff, the Indians will follow through and finish the play.

Infielders have always taken a lot of grounders daily at their respective positions, but this spring they also will field in the spots where they are positioned in the Indians’ defensive shifts. And after individual players take their final at-bats in exhibition games, they’ll do some more defensive reps on a side field with Mike Sarbaugh, the Indians’ third-base coach, before they cool down for the day. Somebody else will finish the game coaching third, Francona said, given that the Indians are making Sarbaugh’s defensive preparation a priority.

The Indians surrendered 72 unearned runs, the most in the majors. They committed 116 errors, the most in the majors. They were minus-75 in defensive runs saved, which was, as you may have guessed, the worst in the majors. Those 75 runs effective add up to 7.5 wins, a total which means quite a bit for a team that finished five games out of first place and four behind the team that eventually represented the American League in the World Series, simply by being average.

Some of these numbers may be a tad skewed by the first half of the season where Carlos Santana played third base, Nick Swisher played first base and the outfield was a cavalcade of individuals who cost the team runs—David Murphy and Nyjer Morgan among the biggest offenders. Once the team traded Asdrubal Cabrera and placed Jose Ramirez at short, the team saw a dramatic improvement in it’s Earned Run Average, a number that can be heavily impacted by defensive acumen.

There will be less experimenting this season. The team appears set to roll with Lonnie Chisenhall at third base, Carlos Santana at first (and designated hitter), with what will hopefully be a full season of guys like Michael Bourn manning center field. According to Mark Shapiro, it looks like the team that’s presently constructed will be the one that goes to battle for at least 162 games. Pitching should be respectable. Their bats appear to be improved. If they can learn how to successfully catch and throw the baseball, well—we could be looking at improvement without even having to make major changes to the 40-man roster.

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Browns to interview Kevin O’Connell for QB Coach http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2015/01/nfl-news-cleveland-browns-kevin-oconnell/ http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2015/01/nfl-news-cleveland-browns-kevin-oconnell/#comments Wed, 28 Jan 2015 18:05:29 +0000 http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/?p=138719 Kevin O’Connell, a former third-round pick of the New England Patriots, is meeting with the Cleveland Browns on Wednesday according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Not to be confused with the actor who played “E” on Entourage, O’Connell has a history not just with Browns head coach Mike Pettine, but impending second-year quarterback Johnny Manziel. The 29-year-old O’Connell appeared in

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Kevin O’Connell, a former third-round pick of the New England Patriots, is meeting with the Cleveland Browns on Wednesday according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Not to be confused with the actor who played “E” on Entourage, O’Connell has a history not just with Browns head coach Mike Pettine, but impending second-year quarterback Johnny Manziel.

The 29-year-old O’Connell appeared in just two regular season games with New England, both as a reserve during what was his rookie season. The Patriots waived him before the 2009 regular season (when he was beaten out by Brian Hoyer for the team’s reserve QB spot). He later had stints with the New York Jets, Detroit Lions, Miami Dolphins and Sand Diego Chargers before hanging up the cleats for good. He worked with Pettine in New York, but—perhaps most importantly—spent a portion of last offseason working as a tutor for Manziel prior to the 2014 NFL Draft.

O’Connell may or may not get the job under new offensive coordinator John DeFilippo, but if anything is for certain it’s that Pettine is taking it upon himself to build a team of individuals with whom he’s comfortable as opposed to be force-fed offensive minds from above. It also helps matters when the potential coach has ties to the two players who could (potentially) be under center for the upcoming season.

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David Blatt addresses the lack of LeBron James MVP talks http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2015/01/nba-news-mvp-lebron-james/ http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2015/01/nba-news-mvp-lebron-james/#comments Wed, 28 Jan 2015 17:02:46 +0000 http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/?p=138713 The narrative always favors the new guys. Team records, in this instance, aren’t doing many favors. But as guys like Steph Curry and James Harden are getting the majority of the attention in the NBA MVP race, LeBron James, a four-time winner, is slowly but surely making his case. David Blatt, his head coach, has

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The narrative always favors the new guys. Team records, in this instance, aren’t doing many favors. But as guys like Steph Curry and James Harden are getting the majority of the attention in the NBA MVP race, LeBron James, a four-time winner, is slowly but surely making his case. David Blatt, his head coach, has emerged as James’ chief lobbyist.

“[It’s] just kind of funny, to be honest with you,” Blatt said prior to the team’s in over Detroit. “First of all, he’s the greatest player in our game, and he’s had, since he’s been healthy—and really all year, but particularly since he’s been healthy—his performance has been as high level as ever. And you don’t have to look very far at our record to see what impact he has on this team when he’s playing and not playing.”

That record Blatt speaks of comes in the way of the team’s losing ways when James is off of the court. With LeBron in the lineup, the team is 25-12. While the 30-year-old forward was nursing back and knee ailments, the team was 1-8. Since returning from his two-week hiatus, James is averaging 30.5 points, 6.8 rebounds, 6.4 assists and 2.0 steals, numbers that would not only (if extrapolated) would put him well ahead of James Harden for the scoring title, but would effectively match the numbers he put up during the majority of his other MVP campaigns.

In that win over Detroit, James carried the bulk of the load (along with teammate Kyrie Irving), finishing with 32 points, seven assists, six rebounds and a steal.

With James on the court this season, the Cavaliers have offensive rating of 113.8; without him, they’re at 104.1. Defensively, the team has been impacted as well, allowing 111.8 points per hundred possessions and only scoring 106.4. Factoring these together and James and the Cavs have a net rating of 15.4. For comparison purposes, Houston’s Harden has a net rating of 12.1. Golden State’s Curry has been a part of one of the league’s most dominant teams, but doing so alongside a player who’s won as many Player of the Week awards as James in Klay Thompson. Sure, James has his own star teammates, but when it comes to value, the record would show otherwise.

“Certainly it does say something about what his value is when he is absent, what happens to the team,” Blatt continued. “But again, it’s of course what his impact on his own team but it’s also the performance that that player is having relative to the rest of the league. Obviously if we look at our own example [in James], then you’re looking at an MVP player in every respect. Which is not new news to anyone.”

As noted by ESPN.com’s Dave McMenamin, winning a fifth MVP would tie James with Michael Jordan and Bill Russell for the second-most in league history, one behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. It’ll take a huge run by the Cavs given their current standing within the East, but if they get back into the top three, it will undoubtedly be because of James. Like Blatt says, t may merely make for the same, boring story of the best player in the world dominating and winning yet another award, but hey—who are we to get in the way of a good story?

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The Colts suspension of Trent Richardson voids over $3.1 million http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2015/01/colts-suspension-trent-richardson-voids-3-1-million/ http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2015/01/colts-suspension-trent-richardson-voids-3-1-million/#comments Wed, 28 Jan 2015 15:15:52 +0000 http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/?p=138706 The tale of Trent Richardson gets stranger by the day. No, I’m not talking about him getting traded or his continual disappointment between the lines on an NFL field. I’m talking about his very standing in the league and with his current team, the Indianapolis Colts. Trent Richardson missed the Colts’ final two playoff games

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The tale of Trent Richardson gets stranger by the day. No, I’m not talking about him getting traded or his continual disappointment between the lines on an NFL field. I’m talking about his very standing in the league and with his current team, the Indianapolis Colts. Trent Richardson missed the Colts’ final two playoff games and all indications were that it was for “personal reasons,” but it has since come out that the Colts suspended T-Rich for conduct detrimental to the team. One thing that doesn’t seem in doubt is that Richardson missed a Saturday walk-through the day before the AFC title game. Everything else is mired in a fog that seems destined to end up in a fight between Richardson and the Colts.

With the Colts claiming that they suspended Richardson for conduct detrimental to the team, they’re also claiming that they can void the guaranteed final year of Richardson’s rookie contract. That contract was once a fully-guaranteed four-year $20.5 million deal. If the Colts are right and they get to void the final year – $3.18 million – Richardson will only have collected about $17.3 million of what he negotiated. And you can be sure that Trent Richardson and the NFL Player’s Association will fight the Colts on this.

Trent Richardson told Mike Wells of ESPN that he was dealing with a family emergency.

“I had to miss walk-through,” Richardson told ESPN.com on Sunday. “I’m dealing with a very serious family emergency. I’m still at the hospital. I wouldn’t purposely just miss walk-through.”

Meanwhile, the Colts experienced some success using former Buckeye Daniel “Boom” Herron in T-Rich’s place. I don’t want to pretend like Herron was at risk of taking over in Marshawn Lynch fashion, but he scored two touchdowns, rushed for 170 yards and caught almost 130 over the Colts’ three-game playoff run. Herron is a restricted free agent and I’m sure the Colts would love to use some of that Richardson money elsewhere.

The Colts have some cap space available to them according to Spotrac.com, with just over $9 million to spend. At the same time, 2015 is the final year of Andrew Luck’s rookie deal. The Colts have to start thinking hard about the salary cap because they’re blessed with a quarterback who is going to be deserving of some serious money, at least in the realm of what Colin Kaepernick got with his six-year $114 million dollar deal that guarantees him $61 million. For reference, that cap number is set to be in the $15-20 million range for the next five years.

In a league with complex financials, including “rollovers,” how much motivation to save that cap space is driving their suspension of Trent Richardson? If it was a player they wanted to keep, would they have suspended him? It’s tough to say without knowing all the details, but it’s safe to say NFL teams apply rules and standards differently to different players. From an outsider’s perspective, it would seem Trent Richardson’s performance for the team warrants him none of that leeway.

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Video: Clay Matthews and his family football legacy http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2015/01/video-clay-matthews-family-football-legacy/ http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2015/01/video-clay-matthews-family-football-legacy/#comments Wed, 28 Jan 2015 14:45:48 +0000 http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/?p=138701 Back in 2009 when Eric Mangini was running the Browns’ draft and took Alex Mack, there were a lot of Browns fans that were upset that the Browns didn’t take Clay Matthews III. As it turns out the Browns and Green Bay both did pretty well with their respective picks, but I get what a

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Back in 2009 when Eric Mangini was running the Browns’ draft and took Alex Mack, there were a lot of Browns fans that were upset that the Browns didn’t take Clay Matthews III. As it turns out the Browns and Green Bay both did pretty well with their respective picks, but I get what a double win it would have been to not only select a great player, but also a Cleveland Browns legacy. Clay Matthews III would have been royalty even before his first game in Cleveland because this area is so sentimental about those 1980’s teams.

Clay Jr. talks about Clay III in this Nissan commercial. I know it’s a commercial, but it’s also kind of a cool little interview / documentary. If I have to live in a world with advertising, I’ll take an ad that I find interesting and entertaining to watch.

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