The Scout 2.0’s Week #1 NFL Selections by wesreynolds
September 10, 2010, 6:23 pm
Filed under: NFL | Tags: ,

by Wes Reynolds

The NFL is back and judging by last night’s television ratings, America couldn’t be happier. Last night’s NFL kickoff between the Vikings and Saints garnered a 17.7 rating or a 28 share. This means 28% of all Americans with TV’s watched this game. The highest opening game rating ever for the NFC Championship rematch.

Here we go with the Week #1 selections:

Carolina @ NY Giants UNDER 40.5

Matt Moore now inherits the starting QB job at Carolina and the Jake Delhomme era comes to an end. The G-Men were knocked out of the playoffs last year in Week 16 when Carolina came to the old Meadowlands and beat them down 41-9. Carolina ran roughshod over the Giants with 247 yards on the ground. The Giants get Eli Manning back from the brutal hit shown below (courtesy of The Big Lead) he suffered in the preseason opener against the Jets.

Perhaps this is a microcosm for the reasoning behind Brandon Jacobs losing his starting job at RB to Ahmad Bradshaw.

New Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell (served in same position and then as interim head coach at Buffalo after Dick Jauron’s firing) is an upgrade and free safety Antrel Rolle (FA signing from Arizona) helps shore up the Giants’ secondary. They will bring the heat on young Matt Moore and be able to contain the run better this year. Keep in mind the Panthers rested DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart in most of the preseason. However, Carolina did not score an offensive touchdown in 42 drives in their first three preseason games. They only have one weapon in the passing game (Steve Smith).

Buffalo (+3) over Miami

Buffalo gets the Chan Gailey era off on a good foot here. Miami has a good amount of injuries here (particularly starting LT Jake Long). Trent Edwards looked good in the preseason and 1st-rounder C.J. Spiller gives them the game-breaker they have been missing.

Atlanta (-1) at Pittsburgh

Dennis Dixon starts at QB for the Steelers and I like his athletic ability, but he is bad in the red zone. Against Denver in the preseason (yes, I know it’s preseason, but both teams starting units were in the game), he threw a pick, then threw another one in the end zone, and then fumbled near the red zone. This was on three consecutive drives! He holds on to the ball way too long and he will pay for that in this game.

Detroit (+7) at Chicago and OVER 43′

The Bears’ offense has looked out of sync in the preseason, but I think it fares better in the opener. Detroit had the best offseason and draft of any team. They drafted two future Pro-Bowlers with their first two draft picks (DT Suh and RB Jahvid Best). Matthew Stafford is a fantasy sleeper this year for good reason.  I expect him to show a lot of the potential that made the Lions draft him #1 overall in 2009. Everyone talks of the Bears’ offensive struggles, but their defense will struggle in this one with Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs graded as doubtful or questionable.

Cincinnati/New England UNDER 45′

The TOcho hype is getting ridiculous. I do expect the Bengals offense to be better this year, but not because of T.O. and OchoCinco, but due to their two new rookies, Jordan Shipley and Jermaine Gresham. Cincinnati got dominated by the Jets defense in the Wild Card playoff round last year because OchoCinco couldn’t get off Revis Island, the tragic death of Chris Henry left them with a huge void and they really missed T.J. Housmanzadeh. However, I don’t think this offense will just fire on all cylinders in Week 1. The Pats defense has been on the decline for years, but the oddsmakers know that.

Jacksonville (-2.5) over Denver

The Jags are 0-10 ATS (against the spread) the last two years as a home favorite and 3-13 ATS at home overall. By the way, good seats are still available in Jacksonville. Why would they be favored here? Aaah. That’s what the oddsmaker wants you to think and the wiseguys aren’t buying it.

Houston (+2.5) over Indianapolis

Here comes the hate mail. If you are able to do so, buy the half point for extra juice (-120 is paying $12 to win $10 or $120 to win $100, instead of the normal $11 to win $10 or $110 to win $100). This is Houston’s game of the year. They should have swept the Colts last year, but went 0-2. Here is the great comeback by the Colts in last year’s week 12 game or epic fail by the Texans if you prefer.

Houston now gets the big dog of the AFC South at home in their opener. Last year, the Colts and their fans had to discuss an undefeated season. That discussion gets put to rest early here. Too many Colts offensive line problems that are well-documented. It still remains to be seen whether the Colts can run the ball effectively enough, mainly in short yardage. I predicted 12-4 for the Colts this season and they will still get there, but will have to do so with an 0-1 start.

Philadelphia (+3) over Green Bay

Green Bay is now the popular pick to advance to the Super Bowl. Philadelphia now begins the Kevin Kolb era in at QB. The public sees Philly dropping off an Green Bay surging. This line opened as a pick’em and is now Pack -3. Pack getting a little overvalued here in  Week 1.

St. Louis (+4) over Arizona

I don’t like Arizona laying points on the road even going against a rookie QB (Sam Bradford) making his first start.

Baltimore (+3) (-120) at NY Jets & Over 35′

Playing against the Hard Knocks hype here.

As you can see, the smack talk has already begun. There may be more penalties in the first quarter alone than Antonio Cromartie has children.

Baltimore is my pick (my head says Ravens, heart says Colts) to be the AFC Champions. The Jets preseason offensive struggles are well-documented, but they will fare a little better here than people think. Also,  Ravens offensive coordinator and former IU coach Cam Cameron is allowing Joe Flacco to do a little more now rather than the “just don’t screw it up and manage the game” plan. These two teams know each other well.

Kansas City (+4.5) over San Diego

I think the Chiefs may be the most improved team in the AFC. They are picking up new offensive coordinator Charlie Weis’s system. Plus, Norv Turner isn’t the coach you want to lay points with on the road.

Good luck with your picks and remember to always bet with your head, not over it.



The Scout 2.0’s Week #2 College Selections by wesreynolds
September 10, 2010, 3:57 pm
Filed under: College Football | Tags: ,

by Wes Reynolds

As a young lad, I eagerly anticipated the Friday editions of The Indianapolis Star and The Indianapolis News. The main reason for my excitement was because the “Old Scout”, whose identity is a pretty open secret now, would publish his picks for the upcoming weekend and then I could pick the games and see how I would do against him. He wouldn’t just pick the games straight up like the guys in the Star do nowadays. He would pick the games against the spread. Oh my heavens, you mean people actually gamble on these games? Color me shocked. We live in an NFL world nowadays and we live in that world largely because of gambling. The NFL’s ratings are at record-highs not just due to fantasy football, but because it is the most readily accessible sport on which to wager. Yet these analysts come out and say they don’t pay attention to the lines? Yeah, right.

Without further adieu, here are the picks for this weekend. As always these are for amusement purposes only. Another disclaimer is that the current lines are not the best lines to wager on if you are serious about sports gambling. The lines you want to use, more often than not, are the ones early in the week. Those are the lines that the sharps and wiseguys are attacking. The lines left today are the ones that the public and the squares have to play.

Marshall (+12′) over #23 West Virginia (Friday, 7:00 PM ESPN)

This is a good tip for people to use in sports gambling. DON’T FOCUS TOO MUCH ON THE LAST GAME! People tend to overreact to either a really stellar performance or a really poor performance, especially early in the season. Marshall was predictably blown out last week at Ohio State and the Buckeyes easily covered the -28, a no-sweat winner for me. Now they have to play another top 25 team in #23 West Virginia. Blowout city, right? Nope. Marshall’s new head coach Doc Holliday was on the West Virginia staff from 2008-2009 as West Virginia’s associate head coach and recruiting coordinator. Bill Stewart, the current Mountaineers Head Coach, is not that great. West Virginia’s offense basically has two plays for Marshall to stop or contain: a quick-hitter run/pitch to Noel Devine and the bubble screen. Stopping those are easier said than done, but Stewart is historically a bad bet as a favorite. Plus, don’t think that Doc Holliday wouldn’t love to have Stewart’s job someday in Morgantown. Marshall will have their best effort here and it gets them just under the number.

Kansas (+14) over #15 Georgia Tech (12:00PM FSN Indiana)

Kansas lost at home to Div I-AA North Dakota State (6-3) last week. Now they take on a ranked team. The public thinks, “oh crap, Kansas lost to an FCS team last week, then they’ll lose huge to Georgia Tech right?” Wrong. Kansas easily outgained their opponents last week, but shot themselves in the foot with a -2 turnover margin. Georgia Tech is an option team and can’t throw the ball without their best target Demaryius Thomas (Denver’s #1 draft pick) gone. Kansas will be able to stack the box and force GT to beat them through the air.

Memphis (+13) over East Carolina (12:00 PM CSS)

Here’s another good spot here, the letdown game. East Carolina, as a 7.5-point home underdog, beats Tulsa on Sunday on a hail mary pass.

Now they come back on a short week (they played Sunday) and play again at home where they are 13-point favorites when they were touchdown underdogs the last game. Yes, Memphis was blown out 49-7 at Mississippi State last weekend. However, this is Conference USA. The talent gap between the top and bottom teams are very minimal. This is similar to the MAC. There is virtually no difference in the talent between the teams in the conference. Now, in the SEC, is there a talent difference between Florida and Vanderbilt? You bet’cha. East Carolina has been getting their ego stroked all week with the ESPN Top Play, etc, etc. Here comes the letdown.

#24 South Carolina (-3) over #22 Georgia and Under 47′ (12:00 PM ESPN2)

South Carolina outplayed Georgia “between the hedges” last season, but came up short. They now get Georgia at home bringing in a redshirt freshman QB Aaron Murray, who is making his first road start in the SEC, and have their top WR A.J. Green suspended along with their suspended RB Washaun Ealey returning for his first game of the season. I think Georgia’s offense will be a little out of whack here. This was a shootout last season (41-37), but will return to form as a typical SEC defensive battle this year.

Hawaii (+3) at Army (12:00 PM CBS College Sports)

Hawaii traveled east immediately after their Thursday night game with USC. Jetlag and travel won’t be a problem here. Hawaii showed to be better than people thought last week against USC. They do have two extra days to prepare for Army’s Triple Option. The line is -3, which is the typical amount for homefield advantage. Hawaii, even with the early travel, is going all the way across the fruited plain to New York and the line is essentially a pick’em without homefield advantage. The oddsmaker is basically telling you he likes Hawaii here and you should too.

Florida Atlantic (+28) over Michigan State (12:00 PM ESPNU)

Sparty has a revenge game with Notre Dame on deck. This game is being played in Ford Field. Michigan State has about 30 kids on their roster from Detroit. However, kids playing in their hometown tend to get too hyped for playing in front of their peeps and often perform flatly.

Notre Dame (-3′) over Michigan (3:30 PM NBC)

Wait to see if this gets bet down to Irish -3. Michigan is now the classic case of a public underdog. Everyone watched Denard Robinson and the Wolverines impressive performance over UConn last week and also watched Notre Dame struggle to get away from Purdue in the second half. The line opened with Notre Dame -6 and is now -3.5. Notre Dame is an anti-public favorite and anti-public favorites will get you to the pay window more often than not.

Air Force (-1) over BYU (4:00 PM Versus)

The public was all over Washington last week and BYU ended up being a home underdog of 2.5 points and I had to take them. BYU as a home underdog in altitude gets the money most of the time and Washington predictably got tired in the fourth quarter. Now BYU goes on the road to face a team they have dominated over the last several years. Air Force, and all of the other Mountain West teams, know that BYU is abandoning them to go Independent in football. The flyboys will be focused here.

Wyoming (+29) at #5 Texas (7:00 PM FSN Indiana)

Garrett Gilbert is a really talented QB at Texas, but he is a work in progress. Texas has a game with conference rival Texas Tech on deck. Wyoming runs an offense similar spread to Missouri. Their head coach Dave Christensen was the offensive coordinator at Mizzou from 2001-2008, so he is familiar with Texas. Wyoming won a bowl and had a winning season last year in the first year of this system. The biggest improvement in a new offensive or defensive system usually comes in year two, which is where Wyoming is under Christensen. Texas made a committment to the run last week versus Rice (46 of their 70 plays were runs). I think they try to do the same here.

Louisiana Tech/Texas A & M UNDER 61.5 (7:00 PM No TV)

Louisiana Tech has a new coach, Sonny Dykes, who was the offensive coordinator at Arizona last season. He now installs the Texas Tech “Air Raid” offense. It takes time to install such a new offensive philosophy and there are always growing pains. Tech beat Grambling 20-6 last week. They were without three of their top receivers and their left tackle due to suspension. Now they come back and there are bound to be mistakes. A & M is a sleeper in the Big 12 this season. They return nine defensive starters and they face this Texas Tech style offense multiple times a season.

Buffalo (+16′) at Baylor (7:00 PM FOX College Sports)

Public perception believes that Buffalo will revert to their doormat form now that former head coach Turner Gill is now at Kansas. Public perception also believes that Baylor will finally reach their potential now that freak athlete QB Robert Griffin is healthy. Baylor has a big game at #4 TCU on deck. Lookahead spot here for the Bears.

Oregon/Tennessee UNDER 53 (7:00 PM ESPN2)

Oregon scored 72 against New Mexico last week and now gets star RB LaMichael James back in the fold. Tennessee still has a fair amount of talent, but it is younger talent and I think Tennessee may play this conservatively like former coach Lane Kiffin did last season at Florida when he was a 30-point underdog. New coach Derek Dooley knows that his Vols won’t be able to trade points. Expect a lot of running and short “dink and dump” passes here. Tennessee’s offensive coordinator Jim Chaney (at Purdue during the Tiller era) was famous for doing that.

UAB/SMU OVER 58 (8:00 PM No TV)

UAB’s new QB David Isabelle ran for over 200 yards and had 3 TDs against Florida Atlantic last week. SMU runs the Run & Shoot under June Jones. This game will be a shootout.

Florida International (+18) over Rutgers (8:00 PM ESPN+)

FIU is coached by former Miami Hurricane player Mario Cristobal, who coached on Greg Schiano’s staff at Rutgers from 2001-2003 so this strikes me as a “get the win and get out” type of game without showing too much for higher quality opponents. Rutgers beat this team last year but only by 8 when FIU scored two TD’s in the 4th quarter. Rutgers has a bye week and a revenge game from 2008 (lost 44-12 at home) after that with  North  Carolina. I don’t foresee the best effort out of Rutgers here.

Ole Miss (-20) at Tulane (9:00 PM ESPN Classic)

Ole Miss lost at home in 2OT to Division I-AA Jacksonville State last week in a game that head coach Houston Nutt called the worst loss of his coaching career.

This is a bad week for Tulane to be Ole Miss’s opponent. Both Ole Miss quarterbacks (Nathan Stanley and Oregon transfer Jeremiah Masoli) looked good last week and I don’t see Tulane keeping up.

Virginia/USC UNDER 52 (10:30 PM FSN Indiana)

USC’s new Tampa 2 defense got carved up for almost 600 yards by Hawaii. Now they get Virginia, who runs your run of the mill spread offense (does anyone NOT runs the spread anymore?). Virginia won’t be able to take advantage of USC adjusting to this new defense like Hawaii and Mouse Davis, the father of the Run & Shoot offense, were able to do.

As you can see, I don’t necessarily always pick the primetime, ESPN-hyped games. If you bet, you don’t just bet a game because it’s on TV (i.e. Penn State at Alabama or Miami at Ohio State this week). Sometimes the best games are the ones off the radar screen. NFL picks will be up later. And as always remember to bet with your head, not over it.

The End of the Tony Ugoh Experiment by wesreynolds

by Wes Reynolds

In 2007, Bill Polian and the Colts were basking in the glow of a Super Bowl win over the Chicago Bears. However, any front office worth their weight knows that teams that stay the same just get older, not better. Polian and Tony Dungy took to the podium and said what they always say on draft day. “We got our man.” The man they were speaking of was OL Tony Ugoh. The Colts had so much faith in Ugoh that they essentially traded up with the San Francisco 49ers to draft Ugoh at number 42 overall in the second round. The Colts gave up a fourth-rounder in the 07′ draft and their first-rounder the following year in 2008. The idea was to have Tony Ugoh become the eventual starting left tackle to replace three-time pro bowler Tarik Glenn. Of course, there was one small problem. Glenn would unexpectedly retire later that summer having lost the passion for football and Ugoh was pushed into the starting lineup as the starting left tackle protecting Peyton Manning’s blind side. Now just three years later, Glenn is pursuing his M.B.A. at the Purdue University Krannert School of Management and Ugoh is pursuing a new job as of this afternoon.

Ugoh was forced to start as a rookie in 07′, but only started 11 games due to injury. He started 12 of 15 games in 2008, but then lost his starting job to Charlie Johnson in 09′ training camp. Perhaps Ugoh got dealt a bad hand having to start right away, but the Colts have always embraced the “next man up” philosophy when a usual starter has to be replaced due to injury, or in this case retirement. Unfortunately Ugoh was not up to the challenge. Longtime offensive line coach Howard Mudd ran out of patience with him two years ago and Bill Polian’s patience finally wore too thin this afternoon.

Ugoh was provided with every chance to become a mainstay on the Colts offensive line. He was moved to left guard this training camp, but was forced back to left tackle when Charlie Johnson injured his right foot in early August. Then Ugoh suffered a toe injury in the preseason game at Green Bay and Colts finally decided to cut their losses.

Bill Polian has undoubtedly forgotten more about football than most of us will ever know and if you don’t believe me, call into his radio show on Monday nights and he’ll tell you. He doesn’t miss on draft picks all that often, but he missed on Ugoh and it was a big miss. Anytime you give up a future first-round draft pick to draft a guy that is off your roster after three years, it’s a big miss. Polian’s track record in finding important diamonds in the rough has been impeccable, especially amongst late-round picks and undrafted free agents. Jeff Saturday, Dominic Rhodes, Gary Brackett, Melvin Bullitt are just a few of the gems he has found on the scrap heap as undrafted players. Antoine Bethea, Pierre Garcon and Robert Mathis were players picked up by Polian late in their respective drafts. And I suppose some of the early-round picks have worked out okay as well (Peyton Manning, Edgerrin James, Joseph Addai, Reggie Wayne, Dallas Clark, Dwight Freeney and Bob Sanders).  With all of those cornerstones of the Colts roster named above, it’s a pretty easy statement to make that Tony Ugoh is the biggest draft mistake that Bill Polian has made in his thirteen years here in Indianapolis.

One thing about the business of the NFL is that one man’s trash quickly becomes another man’s treasure. The beneficiary of the release of Ugoh is Joe Reitz. Reitz (6-7, 320 pounds) was just released over the weekend by the Miami Dolphins. He has spent the previous two seasons with the Baltimore Ravens on their practice squad. If the name is familiar to you, it should be. Reitz, a native of Fishers, was never a football star here locally, but a basketball star instead. He was on the Indiana All-Star team in 2004 and ended up signing with Western Michigan to play basketball out of Hamilton Southeastern. He ranks fourth all-time with 1,713 points and third with 939 rebounds during his career at Western Michigan. Reitz also started 126 of 128 games during his four years on the hardwood in Kalamazoo. Now Reitz is brought back to his hometown to hopefully provide some depth to an offensive line that is in desperate need of help.

Looking ahead to Sunday, the Colts now have the option of starting Charlie Johnson, who just returned to practice today, or undrafted rookie free agent Jeff Linkenbach at left tackle in the season opener at Houston. Jeff Linkenbach… Mario Williams. I think you will be seeing Mr. Williams meet Mr. Linkenbach a LOT at Reliant Stadium on Sunday. Mr. Willams is chomping at the bit to add to his sack total of 35 over the last three seasons (only nine last year) against either a rookie left tackle or a not-near 100 percent Charlie Johnson. Colts fans can only hope the three-time Pro Bowl defensive end Mr. Williams isn’t meeting Mr. Manning too frequently or it will be a long day for the horseshoes.

U.S. Ryder Cup Captain’s Picks Announced with One Surprise by wesreynolds

by Wes Reynolds

U.S. Ryder Cup Captain Corey Pavin announced his four selections earlier this morning to fill out the Ryder Cup roster during the first weekend in October at Celtic Manor in Wales. To no one’s surprise, Eldrick Tiger Woods was amongst the four golfers selected. Tiger has always had a mixed record in the Ryder Cup, a ho-hum 10-13-1 overall, but is 3-1-1 in Sunday singles matches. Players like Tiger, Phil Mickelson and Jim Furyk have always performed well enough throughout the year to make the team on points alone. However, that was the not the case this year for Tiger. Due to the crumbling of his marriage and the change of swing coaches from Hank Haney to Sean Foley, he has not played frequently enough to amass the necessary amount of points. Perhaps Tiger always took making the Ryder Cup team for granted. Now that he wasn’t able to make the team on points, we may very well see a Tiger that takes this Ryder Cup more seriously than he ever has before. This was a fairly easy decision for Pavin despite the whole Jim Gray controversy. Ryder Cup captains, either on the U.S. or European sides, worry about their legacies and not being known as captains who lost when leading their respective sides. Pavin didn’t want to be known as the captain who potentially left the man who still may go down as the greatest golfer ever on the sidelines.

Two of Pavin’s other four selections were fairly predictable: Stewart Cink and Zach Johnson. These two players aren’t lighting the world on fire right now, but they are experienced and are “steady Eddies” for the most part. Cink is a four-time Cup veteran and is widely considered one of the best putters on tour and Johnson, who will be playing on his second Cup team, is one of the PGA Tour’s best ball-strikers annually. Cink has not won this season, but does have ten top-25 finishes this year. Johnson did win the Colonial this past May and is also ranked in the top ten (7th) in driving accuracy and putting (7th). Both players also have won major championships, Cink at the 2009 Open Championship and Johnson at the 2007 Masters Tournament.

The most surprising pick is 21-year old Rickie Fowler. Fowler is in his first full year on tour this season and has accumulated some impressive results, including second-place finishes both in Phoenix and the Jack Nicklaus-hosted Memorial Tournament. He is ranked 11th on tour in greens in regulation. Pavin said the main reason for selecting young Fowler was due to his 7-1 record in the Walker Cup, this is the event held every two years pitting the top amateur golfers from the United States versus the top amateurs in Great Britain and Ireland.

To be honest though, there aren’t many snubs from this team, or at least nothing even remotely comparable to European Captain Colin Montgomerie’s diss of Englishman Paul Casey (currently ranked 9th in the world). While Casey is not very popular in clubhouse, he definitely should have made the team over the struggling Padraig Harrington. On the U.S. side, Charley Hoffman made a late push by making eleven birdies to post a final round of 62 and win the Deutsche Bank Championship in Boston yesterday. The long-hitting J.B. Holmes, my odds-on favorite to get the last captain’s pick, gained points in every one of his 08′ Ryder Cup matches but was also left off the team. Anthony Kim is talented enough to make the team, but is coming off thumb surgery. Then there’s Bo Van Pelt. The Richmond, IN native has been the most consistently solid player all year, but has yet to win a tournament. Ben Crane also had a shot to make the team, mainly because his snail’s pace of play that could potentially rattle the fast-paced Rory McIlroy.

I would have made the Europeans big favorites to win this thing a couple of months ago and I still feel they are the chalk here playing on their home continent. However, their #1 player Lee Westwood, ranked #3 in the world, has not played since the first weekend of August due to a torn calf muscle. Monty has said he will pick Westwood’s fellow Englishman Justin Rose, a tw0-time winner on the PGA Tour this year, to be the replacement should Westwood not be able to play. The European squad is still loaded with young talent, including current U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell, PGA champion Martin Kaymer and arguably the most talented European youngster Rory McIlroy. In addition, they have solid veteran players like Ian Poulter and Miguel Angel Jimenez. Of the Americans top eight players on the Ryder Cup points list, four of them are rookies (Dustin Johnson, Bubba Watson, former IU player Jeff Overton and Matt Kuchar). Team anchor Phil Mickelson is not exactly in top form right now. Jim Furyk, other than his win at Hilton Head and his good play at the PGA last month, has had a down year by most standards.

The captain’s picks announced today were not just roster fillers. They are going to have to be leaders and get points to compensate for the youth on this team. Tiger has never been the man to take a leadership role as a player on the Ryder Cup team, but this year he may have to do just that.

IU Basketball 2011 Target B.J. Young Commits to Arkansas by wesreynolds

by Wes Reynolds

Five-star 2011 prospect B.J. Young of Florissant, MO announced today that he has committed to play basketball at the University of Arkansas. Young, a 6-3 and 175-pound combo guard, is ranked #17 nationally by Scout and #18 by Rivals. Indiana and Arkansas were the clear leaders for Young, who also had offers from Baylor, Illinois, Illinois State, Providence, Marquette, Cincinnati, North Carolina State and Iowa.

One of the main deciding factors for Young was that multiple family members reside in Little Rock. “I knew I wanted to commit a while ago,” Young said. “This has just been a fantasy of mine since I was little, down here with my family, they wanted me to go here.”

This is par for the course with recruiting. You are going to get some kids and you are going to lose some. It is also unknown whether IU may have slightly backed off due to rumored grade concerns with Young. There now is a change in focus for IU to fulfill their lone scholarship left for 2011. Take a wild guess for which player that scholarship is being held. If you guessed Cody Zeller, you are correct. The IU staff has also made it clear that they want to add two more players to the 2011 class. The Young committment to the Razorbacks puts the next two years of recruiting into pinpointed focus.

First, the oversign for 2011 will now likely be a big man instead of a guard. The two most likely candidates are Robert Goff and Moussa Gueye. Goff is a 6-9, 240-lb power forward from Hutchinson Community College (KS) and averaged ten points and ten rebounds last year for Cowley County Junior College (KS) under coach Steve Eck, who he follows this fall to Hutchinson. He also played his high school basketball at Broad Ripple. Goff’s offer list includes IU, Xavier, Alabama, Cincinnati, Houston, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Rutgers with Purdue, Kansas, Texas and DePaul also showing interest.  He visited Bloomington in early August as well.

The other, lesser-known prospect of the two is Gueye. Gueye is a 7-foot, 245-lb center originally from Senegal who plays at Lake Land JC (IL) in Mattoon, IL. He also decommitted from Valparaiso this past March. Gueye released his visit schedule last month and announced he would visit Valparaiso in the last weekend of August, and would then follow that with visits on consecutive weekends in September to Alabama, USC , Indiana (3rd weekend) and Texas. There is not much known about Gueye and there isn’t a lot of information about him out in cyberspace, but somehow he is considered one of the better JUCO big man prospects in the country.

Young choosing the Hogs also practically makes 5-11 junior point guard Kevin “Yogi” Ferrell and must sign for the Class of 2012. Ferrell, who attends Park Tudor School in Indianapolis, is a much-needed point guard for the Hoosiers. The team currently only has two point guards, junior Verdell Jones III and sophomore Jordan Hulls. Tom Crean also has requested that recent 2012 commit Ron Patterson work more on his ball-handling and passing skills due to the lack of depth at point guard once Jones graduates in 2011.

Today’s decision by B.J. Young was far from a death-blow to the Hoosiers, but it was a blow nonetheless. The abundance of top-tier talent in the Class of 2012, especially in the state of Indiana, can help soften that blow. Now it’s up to Tom Crean and his staff to make sure some more of that talent dons the Cream and Crimson.

Indiana Basketball Procures Another Building Block for the Future…Way in the Future by wesreynolds

by Wes Reynolds

The Hoosiers didn’t just earn a victory on the football field at Memorial Stadium on Thursday night, they also earned a victory on the basketball recruiting trail. Indiana Basketball received its third verbal commitment within a calendar month when Class of 2014 combo guard James Blackmon Jr decided to play basketball for the Hoosiers. Blackmon is a 6-2, 170-lb freshman at Bishop Luers High School in Fort Wayne and played for the Spiece Indy Ice AAU 14 and under team this past summer. Blackmon and Tech High School 6-8 forward Trey Lyles, both members of the 2014 class were offered scholarships this summer. Very few recruiting services have rankings for the Class of 2014, but ESPN ranks him as the #1 point guard in the country for said class and the #5 prospect overall.

Blackmon has visited the IU campus on multiple occasions this summer with his father James Blackmon Sr, who also serves as the head basketball coach for Bishop Luers and has won two Class 2A state title teams, which included incoming Ohio State freshman and 2010 Mr. Basketball Deshaun Thomas. If the James Blackmon name rings a bell, it should since the elder was once a star basketball player in his own right at Marion (IN) High School. Blackmon played four years at the University of Kentucky from 1983-1987 with players including Melvin Turpin, Sam Bowie, Winston Bennett, Kenny Walker, Roger Harden and Rex Chapman. Blackmon was also a McDonald’s and Parade All-American. In fact, Blackmon finished second in the voting for Indiana’s Mr. Basketball award in 1982 behind a high school rival from New Castle Chrysler. That rival was, you guessed it, Steve Alford.

Blackmon was not the only recruit in attendance for the Hoosiers 51-17 season-opening victory over Towson. Arguably two of the biggest targets for IU in both the 2011 and 2012 classes were in Memorial Stadium on Thursday night. 2011 target Cody Zeller attended the game with his parents. Kevin “Yogi” Ferrell, 2012 point guard prospect and Zeller’s AAU teammate with Indiana Elite, was also in attendance. As we’ve discussed extensively on this site, the Zellers are very private people and you won’t see a Twitter account for Cody Zeller because he doesn’t have one. The same cannot be said for the fun-loving and joking Ferrell. These were his tweets tonight discussing his trip:

Hahaha people are chanting my name, funny stuff lol. I haven’t done anything yet.

Just got done talkin with coach Crean….. It went really well. Now I’m on my way home and I still have hw to do :/

The dominoes continue to fall for Indiana Basketball recruiting wise and young Blackmon may end up being the most talented prospect of the three commitments this summer. However, like Yogi Ferrell said above, Tom Crean and his staff still have work to do.

Cuban phenom Aroldis Chapman called up to Cincinnati Reds by wesreynolds

by Wes Reynolds

The Cincinnati Reds announced today that they are calling up Aroldis Chapman from the AAA Louisville Bats to strengthen their bullpen for their playoff push. Chapman is in the first year of a six-year, $30 million contract signed back in January. Walt Jocketty, Reds General Manager, and the rest of the front office have shown patience with him this year, but when he clocked 105 MPH on the radar gun last Friday against Columbus, they knew it was time to give him a shot. That’s right, 105 MPH!

The Cuban defector got mixed results to start the season, throwing a lot of pitches to get through five innings. He went 5-5 with a 4.11 ERA in 13 starts. He was moved into a relief role at Louisville last month and he was even better, going 4-1 with a 2.40 ERA in 26 relief appearances, including eight saves in eight closing opportunities. He’s allowed 10 hits and seven walks over those 21 2/3 innings with 35 strikeouts. He’s struck out 42 percent of the batters he’s faced over the past month and a half.

This is a smart move by Jocketty to call him up this late in the season. The Reds plan to put Chapman into the starting rotation starting next season, but his best role is now in the bullpen to help out set-up man Arthur Rhodes, who garnered his first MLB All-Star appearance at the age of 40, but also aggravated his sore left foot yesterday covering first base in a 7-5 win over the Cubs and has given up five runs on seven hits over 1 1/3 innings in his last two outings. The Chapman callup is eerily reminiscent of the 2002 season when the Anaheim Angels (I refuse to call them the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim) called up young Venezuelan prodigy Francisco Rodriguez, or K-Rod,  just in time for the playoffs. K-Rod was the postseason hero and won five games during the Angels eventual World Series title run despite never having won a regular season major league game. The hitters did not know what to expect from him since he had zero appearances in the big leagues. The Reds are hoping for the same from Chapman.

It is also a smart move to bring Chapman into the bullpen instead of having him log starters’ innings. Jocketty knows, like all of us, that Reds Manager Dusty Baker has a reputation for not managing young, talented arms very judiciously. Mark Prior, anyone? Kerry Wood, anyone? Robb Nen, anyone? Edinson Volquez, anyone? Prior, Wood and Volquez all suffered serious arm injuries in their first full seasons pitching for Dusty. Volquez has pitched well since his return back in July from Tommy John surgery, but Jocketty knows he needs to be a check and balance for Dusty’s tendency to be far too liberal with his pitch counts.

The Reds currently lead the St. Louis Cardinals by five games and Chapman could provide them with a nice insurance policy as they make their run for their first playoff appearance in fifteen years.