Monday, November 10, 2008

Temple Basketball...Oh yea, there was a reason I went to Temple!

Sorry for the long delay since last Thursday, took the weekend off to relax.

Several weeks ago I posted about how Temple's football team came from behind to beat Ohio in the 4th quarter, injecting a bit of life into my hopeless spirit. Well, the following week I think God was angry at himself for falling asleep at the switch and smited ye olde football team by having Navy score 20 points in the 4th quarter to come from behind to beat Temple. Stick a fork in 'em.

Also, for the past 2 weeks I've had a ridiculously insatiable appetite. No, not metaphorically, I've been hungry as heeck and couldn't figure out why. Well, I'm convinced that it was case of the munchies after coming off the high of the Phillies winning the championship. And now I'm wondering what's next. Enter Temple University Basketball Season.

Tip off is this Friday at 3 against East Tennessee State(who?) in first round of the 8-team Charleston Classic tournament. ETS reached the semifinals of the Southern Conference last year, and will be our first test of the season. What's the Southern Conference you may be wondering? And the answer is: who knows? Temple has started awfully slow the past 2 years, including going 1-2 and losing after being up by 25 in last year's Puerto Rican Tip off. The field in this year's tournament is particularly weak, and the only other nationally known team is Clemson, on the other side of the bracket.

Temple has a promising squad this year, with the pluses being a number of capable big men, some decent depth, and Dionte Christmas returning for his senior season. Lavoy Allen and Sergio Olmos proved to be a formidable duo in the paint towards the end of last year, and having another year under their belts should only show further improvement. Michael Eric, a 6'9"red shirt freshman who was forced to sit last year due to NCAA rules, is set to play and the inside word says he is going to make a huge impact immediately.

It was just announced that Junior Ryan Brooks will be starting this year. Brooks had an inconsistent season last year, going through a cycle of hot and cold streaks. However, it always seemed like he found his stroke at the right times, including good performances in the A-10 tournament and against Michigan State in the NCAAs. It will mainly be his performance, and those of some of the bench players, needed to combat the loss of do-everything Mark Tyndale. This includes sophomore Martavis Kee and freshman Scootie Randall for some scoring off the bench, and some solid minutes from sophomore big man Craig Williams. Another possible contributor is freshman guard T.J. DiLeo, although some believe that he will not be ready to play at this level yet.

Dionte Christmas is possibly the greatest strength of the team as he returns for his last season as an Owl. Christmas will have plenty to play for, as he tries to increase his draft stock and become the first player in history to lead the A-10 in scoring for three consecutive seasons. Christmas is a great 3 shooter to have this year, as the newly extended three point line plays to his advantage. A good portion of 3-point shooters will have difficulty adjusting to the new distance, but Christmas has demonstrated his ability to shoot from pro range in the past. That being said, Christmas is the only proven player on the team who can put up 20+ a game, besides possibly Brooks, and if the depth of the team can't contribute numbers to replace Tyndale, a great burden will be placed on Christmas. He has not done well in the past when teams focused their defense on him.

There are a few negatives to this team as well. The first, as you may have guessed, is the loss of Mark Tyndale. Tyndale was the most valuable player for the team last year, as his stat sheet-filling, play making, hardworking style last year was often overshadowed by Christmas' numbers. Many of the good looks Christmas, Brooks, and graduate sniper Chris Clark got last year were only created by Tyndale driving the lane and drawing defenders. As previously stated, his production will only be replaced by a collective effort of the new depth to the team.

Another big question mark is at the guard position, which is what many of the sports junkies and pundits have been hitting Temple with. The starting guard is still a question mark between Junior Luis Guzman and Senior Semaj Inge. Both players have shown ability, especially with ball handling and defense, but both lacked consistency and shooting. Odds are that if neither can solidify themselves as a consistent, effective guard by mid-season, coach Dunphy will use freshman Juan Fernandez after he arrives over the holidays.

Fernandez is one of the best players to come out of Argentina and South America this past year. Argentina, for those who don't know, is one of the best international basketball countries. He played on their under-18 national team this past year, and they put a hurting on the U.S. team in the finals. Yes, that means Fernandez was driving around, shooting over, and generally kicking ass against guys who are now going to the likes of Duke, UNC, Kansas, etc. He is also a 6'4" guard, and is described as Pepé Sanchez with a jump shot. An exciting recruit to say the least. Besides giving Sergio Olmos somebody to talk to in Spanish, Fernandez also offers the chance for a true, skilled point guard. However, Argentina graduates students in October, so he won't be enrolled at Temple until the second semester, causing him to miss half the season. Dunphy has to decide whether to potentially forfeit a redshirt season for half a year of playing. As stated, this will probably hinge on whether or not Temple is successful with the guards they have. Fernandez, if he lives to his potential, might not be here for four years anyways.

Temple's schedule offers a number of interesting points. First of all, they won't be playing at home very much. Temple's schedule shows 19 away games to 11 at home, not including post season play. The home schedule is highlighted by Tennessee on December 13 and Saint Joe's on March 5th. Their away schedule is highlighted by a trip to Penn State and Kansas. They also play a number of away games in the city, including St Joe's, Nova, La Salle, and UPenn. Their non-conference schedule is pretty weak, playing against a number of MAC opponents and other schmucks, including Lafayette and Long Beach State.

While this is weak sauce compared to their gauntlet non conference schedules of the past, it gives Temple the ability to run up their record. Temple would have a pretty good at large chance if they went 11-3 in non conference with a win over one or more of Clemson, Tennessee, and Kansas, and were a number of games over .500 in the conference with a top 3 finish.( 11-3 NC) +(11-5 C)= 22-8 with a shitload of away wins and a win(s) over Clemson/Tennessee/Kansas/St Joes/Xavier going into A-10. Not a lock, but not too shabby.

That being said, if Temple coughs up too many games early against poor teams, which they've been prone to do, and doesn't pull out a big win against a tough non-conference opponent, which they have not been prone to do, they're going to need to kick ass in the A-10 again to have a shot at the dance.

We shall see. Go Owls!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Election Night...Robbed Again!

8 years ago, Al Gore's bid for the Presidency ended when his request for a recount in Florida went all the way to the Supreme Court and was unjustifiably shot down. Many say Gore was robbed of the election. Last night, Barack Obama became the first African American man in history to be elected President of the United States. In the ensuing celebrations, I was robbed at gun point. I think it speaks volumes about the importance of this election when I say that of the two nights, I'll take the 2008 robbery any day of the week.

I think it was pretty clear from the start that Obama was heavily favored in this election. Given the past 8 years, the democrats probably could have ran Chelsea Clinton or dragged Jimmy Carter up there again and won. The polls leading up to election day showed Obama clearly in the lead, and a telling sign was how the polls actually widened the day before the race, when they usually tighten up. So, it came to no great surprise to anyone when Barack Obama won in a landslide. More important for me however, was this article.

"Turnout among 18- to 29-year-olds increased by 6 percent over 2004, said the youth-registration movement Rock the Vote, using McDonald's data. That's 4 million more young voters than in 2004."

McDonald's does polling data now? Can't wait til they replace the 99 billion served with 4 Million new Voters Voted.

But anyways, that's a good thing. We'll see if Obama can keep the youth into politics over his presidency.

But anyways, onto the ensuing celebrations. Immediately after Harry Kalas...I mean CNN announced the win, I ran out into the streets to see who was out. The celebratory gunshots probably should have been my first warning. But who cares, to city hall! Walking down Broad Street, you could tell there was something a bit different in the air than when the Phillies won, and I'm not just talking gun smoke. Instead of thousands of drunk college kids making their way down, this was jubilant locals with tears coming down their eyes.

This was people in hummer's with 18-inch rims leaning out the windows with Obama signs, smiling and waving to everyone in sight. This was black, white, hispanic, and everything else. It may not have been as large as the Phillies win, but it sure felt more significant. For a moment, I didn't feel like a college kid, a white kid, or even a Philadelphian. I was one of the 63 million Americans Barack Obama had won over with his pledge for change and hope, and one of billions of people around the world who could see a brighter day for America.

That was, until about Girard and Broad, where my friend and I were approached by a young man who displayed a gun and demanded our wallets. After hesitating for a second and actually pulling the wallet away from his outstretched hand like a mean older brother pretending to give his little brother a piece of candy, I relinquished the wallet and watched him run off. Really?? What's Obama's policy on intercity crime?

Go figure, but this makes it obvious that Obama's election, both with its possibilities of combating crime through ending poverty, and breaking down racial barriers in the United States, has a long way to go. Or maybe he was just a McCain supporter releasing his frustrations by robbing Obama supporters. Somehow, I doubt it.

But press on we did to Center City, because I wasn't about to let being robbed at gunpoint spoil my night. Thankfully, the asshole didn't bother to check to see if I had a $300 dollar camera in my pocket, which, I did. What a n00b. Here are some video scenes from center city:

After this, my night really began to spiral downwards. I faced a long walk back up Broad Street, and for some reason a number of people along the way thought my name was "Whitey," or even a full name, "Fuck You Whitey." I had to double check to make sure I wasn't holding a McCain sign. Nope, Obama. Oh well, maybe in another four years.

From there I went to the police station, and for the second time in a month ended up at central investigation on about 20th and Vine, where I filled out a report and looked at mugshots for about 2 hours. In the meantime, three other Temple students came in, all had been robbed by... dun dun dun..a man matching my guys description at Broad and Girard. I'm no criminal justice major, but they probably should have thought about sending a unit over there.

So I finally got to bed at about 4 am. I laid there; tired, hungry, and walletless. I fell asleep with a smile on my face. Barack Obama will be our new President.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Day Update

I attempted to pull an all-nighter last night and stay up to be the first to vote when the polls opened at 7. Well, I made it as far as 4 o' clock before calling it quits. I figured if I got up at 6:30 and went to my poll, which is right across the street, I would be one of the first ones there.

Wrong! When I arrived at 6:45 the line of people was about 40 people long. The line was a collection of people: African Americans, Hispanics, Caucasians, students, elderly people, Muslims, and Christians. As I was waiting in line the people around me were all discussing how excited they were.

Once inside, the poll workers seemed immediately frazzled. A woman who appeared to be in charge of the operation exclaimed "22 years I ain't ever seen this." She then began barking at two individuals who must have been election observers, as she told them to stop peering over the shoulders of the election workers. I'm not quite sure what she was worried they would do, but apparently there are problems in Philly today with Republican poll observers being illegally thrown out.

Regardless of these controversies, my experience with the polls is a good sign for Barack Obama.

Poll watchers

The Line

Might wanna double check her ID


Go Vote

Today is election day. If you can vote, you better do it. Here are my top 7 personal reasons to vote:

1. Because you're American. America was founded on the principles of democracy, rule by the people. Sure, it wasn't perfect like the history books said it was. But it certainly gave people the freedom to change it and amend the constitution as our society progressed. However, none of that would have occurred without people stepping up to their civic duty and voting.

2. Because people have died and are still dying for your freedom. Did you have fun watching the Phillies win the World Series? Did you have fun Halloween weekend? Do you enjoy not being oppressed? These priveledges didn't come without a lot of bloodshed by Americans and to this day are only being protected from a big bad world by the men and women in our military. I think you owe it to them to carefully consider who gets the power to put them in harm's way

3. Because you live in Philadelphia, and we need to carry on the tradition. Want to stick it to New York, Chicago, Miami, and L.A.? We are a battle ground state and Philadelphia and its suburbs are at the heart of the battle. Sure New York, you got 11 million people. But we have the Phillies and the greatest influence of any major city in the presidential election. There is a reason that the liberty bell is here.

4. Because waiting in line to vote is an infinitely more rewarding experience than sitting on Facebook for two hours. Oh, Jimmy and Jenna broke up? That's cool, I just helped decide the most powerful person in the world.

5. Because this election REALLY IS important as hell. In case you hadn't noticed, America is hurting. Across the board, from the economy, to corruption, to our wars overseas, to our civil liberties, we are in danger. I don't know if you buy into the Roman Empire formula (corruption, over stretched forces, wealth gap) but I do and we are scarily close to the state of the empire before collapse. The world is changing rapidly, and America's place in it will be decided in the next 4 years. I don't know about you, but I want to make sure I put a leader in there that will keep us on top, and not fall into the pack.

6. Because your vote is the great equalizer. Michael Nutter, Rush Limbaugh, Keith Olbermann, Karl Rove, Madonna, Chase Utley, Oprah, Matt Damon, George Bush, and you. We all get one vote. You can cancel out your parent's vote. You can cancel out your annoyingly liberal professor's vote. Those talking heads on TV? Cancel their vote. The bully who pushed you off the monkey bars in 3rd grade? Well, he probably isn't voting. But you get the idea.

7. Because if you don't everything that goes wrong in the next 4 years is completely on you, and anything that goes right is no thanks to you. If 501 more people rolled out of bed and voted in Florida in 2000, just put away their ipods or magazines and went out and voted, George Bush would not have been president. Thanks, assholes. Don't be one of them. It's a group effort, and it starts with you.

If you're not sure who to vote for, here is the best, most honest article comparing them I have seen to date.

My endorsement: Barack Obama, for several reasons. First, we need a change. George Bush and his administration messed up. The Republican party, including John McCain, stood by him as it went down the drain. Guess what party stood against him the most? The democrats. The Republicans were wrong, and the democrats were right. It's as simple as that.
I also do not believe the inexperience argument. Bush's administration was an all star team when it came to having experienced people in the cabinet. From Rumsfeld to Condi to Cheney, they all had a long background in politics. However, they lacked judgement. I trust Obama's intelligence and judgement over McCain's. McCain said he was reading Alan Greenspan's book to learn about the economy. Alan Greenspan just admitted that the free market economy doesn't work as well as he thought it did, leading to our current economic plight.
John McCain stood there in Eastern Europe and honestly did not know Czechoslovakia was no longer a country, and they laughed at him. These blunders are just unacceptable for a president of the United States.
Most importantly, Obama is just the right man for the job. In an increasingly globalized world, we need the respect of foreign countries or we will fall behind. Not only is Obama favored in all but five countries around the world , but also has a better grasp of how to deal with new players through diplomacy, as opposed to McCain's hawkish view of every power rival as a military threat.
Obama also presents the country with an opportunity to hope. Many people mock this slogan, and I can see where they are coming from. Any numb skull can stand in front of a crowd and make them believe in something with fancy words. But what tangible change is there to offer? This is one of the great debates with FDR. Republicans say all of his social programs and the new deal did nothing to bring America out of the great depression, that she was saved in a way by the great war.
Democrats remember that FDR helped the country get through those difficult times with his fireside chats and his pledge to help every American put food on the table. Of course middle and upper class Americans scoff at this hope thing. However, it isn't for them, it's for the individuals working 4 jobs to keep food on the table and their family insured. It's for the family who lost their home and moved into an apartment. If you don't think America will benefit from a leader who encourages people to pick their chins up and think about future improvement instead of past failures, you're not paying close enough attention.

Go Vote.

Craziest week of all time..almost over!

So I remembered today that I started writing a blog. Whoops. The past week has been so eventful that it was hard to remember to eat so much as write a blog. The Phillies are the world fucking champions. The whole story behind that is a beautiful thing.

On a personal note, the Phillies have done nothing but kick ass for me this year. Before the season even began, I bet my New York Yankee-loving friend $10 the Phillies would beat them in the World Series. I lost $10 dollars, but that is of no fault of the Phillies. In my 10 regular season appearances, I went 9-1, including Werth's 8 rbi game and Pat Burrell's game-winning extra inning shot. Thanks guys. By the time they got to the playoffs, I was skeptical, but knew we had the right kind of team to win it. You've got deserving veterans in Pat Burrell, who was booed for years, Jamie Moyer, who grew up 20 miles away dreaming about the World Series, and Geoff Jenkins, a man who's onetime promising career seemed to be drifting away.

You've got the young guys, Hamels at 24, Howard not much older. You have the leaders in Chase "Fucking" Utley and Jimmy Rollins, and the role players in Dobbs, Stairs, and Lidge. Every name in this line-up had their moment in the post season, everyone contributed a piece to the puzzle. Now they are World Champions.

On another note, Philadelphia is buzzing. The celebrations were amazing. Unfortunately, my broken finger hindered me from going as nuts and climbing as many things as usual, but it was kind of nice for a change to see the madness from sidelines. I still came away with some freebies ;-). I watched the parade from 30 feet up in a tree next to City Hall. Watching that parade go by and hearing the deafening roar of 1 million people is something I don't anticipate ever forgetting.

Oh yea, then there was Halloween. The scene was fantastic at Temple this weekend, with the week's buzz carrying over into Friday and Saturday nights. I don't think there was a single person without a smile on their face, except for the occasional beers-and-tears girl. Just walking around Philadelphia over the week and weekend proved what a Championship can do for a city. The joy stretched across racial and economic boundaries, and I noticed a lot more friendly hellos and high-fives between individuals who usually would pass by each other without muttering a word.

As if all that isn't enough, the election is tomorrow(today). But I'll put that two cents in a seperate post.