Sunday, June 25, 2017

Top 50 Recruit A.J. Reeves Commits to Providence College

Providence Friar target and Top 50 2018 recruit A.J. Reeves committed to Ed Cooley and the Providence College Friars on campus during their hosting of the Elite Camp and in person this morning...and just like that, the Friars have a stud for next year already.

Reeves is a true two-way player and is within range as soon as he steps in the gym.  He has worked on improving his outside shot and the results are obvious whenever you get a chance to watch him take the court.

Here's what I wrote when Reeves cut his final list of schools to 4.

The Friars were able to beat out Virginia, Villanova, and Louisville to secure the commitment of Reeves and his relationship with Coach Ed Cooley was a huge part of that.  The Friars have now reached 4 straight NCAA tournaments and are likely to make it 5 in a row this year.  They are opening up the $40 million Ruane Friar Development Center in September 2018 and will house a basketball-centric facility within the center.  Providence has become a contender to receive serious consideration and commitments from top recruits and this will only continue to grow with the program continuing to improve.

Just a taste of the athleticism you can expect from Reeves...
Watch Brendan McGair of the Pawtucket Times & Woonsocket Call interview with A.J. Reeves talking about his verbal commitment to the Friars on the Providence College campus.

The fact that Reeves wanted to commit to Cooley in person says a lot about the young man's character and further goes to show how he'll fit seamlessly into the culture that Cooley, AD Bob Driscoll, the assistant coaches, and players have cultivated at PC.

Let's Fucking Go!!

Friday, June 23, 2017

Kris Dunn Headed to the Chicago Bulls in Draft Deal for Jimmy Butler

The 2017 NBA Draft was filled with tons of moves from a variety of teams but none was bigger than Jimmy Butler being traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves in a 5-man deal.

Chicago Receives:
Kris Dunn
Zach LaVine
8th Pick (Lauri Markkanen - Arizona)

Minnesota Receives:
Jimmy Butler
16th Pick (Justin Patton - Creighton)

Let's go through what Chicago's getting first.  Last year's 5th pick, Kris Dunn, didn't get a ton of playing time behind starting guard Ricky Rubio for Minnesota this past year.  Tom Thibodeau is very similar to Larry Brown in how he handles NBA rookies.  There's obvisouly a learning curve for rookies coming into the league and Thibs seems very reluctant to play these guys through the growing pains.  Dunn has oodles of potential with his combination of athleticism, defensive prowess, and his ability to facilitate with his drives.  Dunn showed flashes of the player that he can eventually grow into but didn't get much of a played just over 17 minutes a game, averaging 3.8 ppg/2.4 apg/2.1 rpg.  These aspects of his game that he struggled with college are still there with his long distance shooting (28.8% 3FG) but I think he can improve those with some hard off-season work.

Dunn will be behind NBA veteran Rajon Rondo but I think he can benefit from Rondo as their games seem to actually be very similar.  Rondo is uber-athletic and has historically struggled shooting the ball.  I think he can help Dunn adapt at the next level.  Dunn will at least get more of a chance to play with the younger direction that Chicago seems to be headed in.

Zach LaVine has transformed himself into an exciting player with real scoring ability, averaging 18.9 ppg last year before tearing his ACL.  Reports are that he is on schedule and will make a full recovery.

The Bulls used the 8th pick in the draft on Arizona 7-footer Lauri Markkanen.  I know you shouldn't judge a book by its cover but a big game named Lauri isn't exactly striking fear into anyone if you ask me.  The big guy, originally from Finland, has some range for a big guy that stretches out past the three point line.  He connected on 69 (nice) threes last year, which was the most made 3-pointers by a 7-footer in the last 20 years.  That's a nice stat, but I'm not sure how many 7-footers he's really going up against in made 3-pointers, so it's not much of a sample size.  He looks pretty slow off the dribble to me but has a nice looking shot.

Minnesota gets three-time All-Star Jimmy Butler.  A true two-way player who has made three second-team all-defense squads.  Last year, the Marquette product averaged 23.9 ppg/6.2 rpg/5.5 apg and made a bunch of clutch shots at the end of games.  The fact that the Timberwolves lost the most games in the NBA after leading by 10 or more, makes him even more of an impact player for the team.  He slips right into the 3-spot and him and Andrew Wiggins on the wings give you some outstanding perimeter defense.  KAT as an anchor and Rubio playing the role of distributer round out this team really well.  Everyone seems to have a role for next year's T-Wolves.  

My favorite part might have been the response from one of Butler's trainers...I think he might not like the Bulls front office, but what do I know.

If that wasn't enough, somehow Minny managed to convince Chicago to also send over the 16th pick in this year's draft.  I have no idea how they swindled Chicago out of that one.  If Chicago's plan is to get younger (and it's not like Jimmy Butler is old anyway), then what are they doing sending out first round draft picks?  Minnesota drafted Creighton's Justin Patton who reminds me a lot of Marcus Camby in his range, athleticism, and frame.  He's not the same defensive player as Camby but he only just turned 20 last week and will have time to fill out his body over the next couple of years as he learns defensive schemes from freaking Thibs, one of the best guys to learn D from in the NBA.  

I'm calling it right now that Patton will be a better pro than Markkanen.

Overall, I think Minnesota handily won the trade but I'm excited to see what Kris Dunn can do when given a much longer leash and playing time.

Also, that Kris Dunn Bulls jersey is going to be absolute FIRE.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Movie Review: Green Room (2015)

Movie: Green Room (2015)

Director: Jeremy Saulnier

Writer: Jeremy Saulnier

Cast: Patrick Stewart, Anton Yelchin, Joe Cole, Alia Shawkat, Imogen Poots, Callum Turner, Eric Edelstein, Macon Blair, David W. Thompson, & Mark Webber

One-Line Plot Synopsis: A punk rock band is in danger after witnessing a murder at a Neo-Nazi venue.

A couple of things here, so I don't know where I exactly want to start.  I think I'm just going to go with some quick hits and kind of go all over the place here.

I really like Patrick Stewart as a villain.  Also, I love Patrick Stewart in general and especially his relationship with Sir Ian McKellen.  

I love them much.  I don't want to get too into it but I hope I have a friend like that when I'm older.

Now, I don't know if it's just because there are more movies that are readily available in general or not, but I feel like there have been a lot more quality thriller/horror movies these days than there have been in the past.

This movie was not only totally original but realistic in a way that heightens the tension of the situation to crazy heights.  I mean, I'm not in a punk/metal band or anything but all the events that are happening, I could totally see happening at some level.  Everyone seemed perfectly cast in the movie and completely believable in all of their roles.  I don't really think you'd want to hear that if you were one of the Nazi's but you obviously aren't the actual personality of the person you're playing, I'm just saying that they all play the characters extremely well and look the part.

The movie was a perfect and succinct thriller, compacted in a little ball of tension.  The movie got right into the shit really quick and built that adrenaline in a way that always kept you on your toes.  It was a realistic type of thriller and those are my absolute favorite kind of movies to watch.  I find them extremely entertaining and the sense of urgency you have while watching it is an awesome and unexpected feeling to have. The tint of the film made the tone and sense of the situation seem more dire the entire time.  A must see for Anton Yelchin fans and thriller fans in general.

P.S. Patrick Stewart said in an interview that when he finished reading the script at his country home in England, it was so terrifying that he locked up his house, turned on the security system, and poured himself a Scotch. He then knew that he wanted to play the Darcy Banker role because a character that horrifying would be an incredible challenge, and make for a compelling film.

P.P.S. Anton Yelchin’s last feature film to be released before his death, on June 19, 2016.

Rating: 8.5/10

Movie Review: The Phenom (2016)

Movie: The Phenom (2016)

Director: Noah Buschel

Writer: Noah Buschel

Cast: Ethan Hawke, Paul Giamatti, Johnny Simmons, Paul Adelstein, Yul Vazquez, Sophie Kennedy Clark, Elizabeth Marvel, Louisa Krause, & Alison Elliott

One-Line Plot Synopsis: A rookie stud pitcher (Simmons) starts having control problems and a sports psychologist (Giamatti) starts to uncover past problems with his overbearing father (Hawke) that may have come to the surface.

This movie reminded me a lot of Whiplash but not nearly as good.  They both focus on having a mentor or teacher that uses extreme authoritative measures to push a young and impressionable prodigy of sorts, to excel in their respective fields.  That may have been a big roundabout way to say that sometimes, tough love actually pushes certain people to reach heights in something that they might otherwise not reach.  It's basically the Bobby Knight way of doing thing...or an Army Drill Sergeant type of mentality.

The movie only is only 90 minutes which might explain why you don't get as emotionally involved with the characters, namely Hooper Gibson played by Johnny Simmons, as you might otherwise have been.  He's a kid that is pushed to his breaking point, both physically and emotionally, on his route to becoming a stud baseball player.  

You question yourself as to whether or not he actually wants to be a baseball player or if he's just trying to receive approval (finally) from his overbearing father.

I actually wish there would have been more time spent on the upbringing of Hooper with his father.  You obviously get the gist of everything but I think if the story was told a little more from him being younger and growing up in that environment, it would have made more of an impact rather than him berating a highs schooler.  The connection between Hooper and his girlfriend didn't get enough time either, to make you care about that relationship as much as they really seemed to want you to.  They tried to touch on a bunch of different relationships that would have been much more affective if they focused more on one or the other or made the movie about a half hour longer.

P.S. I'm just going to throw this out there, but "The Phenom" looks like he's never thrown a baseball before in his life and throws probably a max of 40 miles per hour.  I mean, it has a loop to it after all.


Rating: 6/10

Movie Review: Allegiant (2016)

Movie: Allegiant (2016)

Director: Robert Schwentke

Writer: Noah Oppenheim, Adam Cooper, Bill Collage, & Veronica Roth (novel)

Cast: Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Naomi Watts, Octavia Spencer, Jeff Daniels, Miles Teller, Zoe Kravitz, Ansel Elgort, Bill Skarsgard, Maggie Q, & Daniel Dae Kim

One-Line Plot Synopsis: In the third installment of the Divergent series, Tris (Woodley) and Four (James) try to get through the city wall that is enclosing Chicago.

The third installment in the Divergent series after Divergent and Insurgent, comes Allegiant.  Each movie keeps getting slightly worse than the last one.  The first film, Divergent, was already a poor man's Hunger Games, but pretty good when all was said and done.  The second film was a little less good, but just some decent popcorn movie action.  Now we're on the third installment of this money making cow of an enterprise and the product continues to go on downward trajectory.  So much so in fact, that the fourth movie, named Ascendant, is actually going to be a TV movie.  At first look, you would think that making $66 million domestically would be pretty good.  But then you look at the budget of the movie being $110 million and it doesn't look so good after that.

Divergent: $151 million
Insurgent: $130 million (14% decrease from Divergent)
Allegiant: $66 million (49% decrease from Insurgent)

So, no wonder they're trying to make it into a TV movie...and maybe a TV spin-off series after that.

I think it's always amazing to take a look at the cast of these movies and then look at the actual finished product.  Jeff Daniels, Naomi Watts, & Octavia Spencer are all Oscar nominees.  Not to mention young up-and-comers Miles Teller and Shailene Woodly, who should probably get nominated eventually with their acting chops.

The one thing that is truly astonishing about this movie is that the special effects were so shit considering this movie had a freaking $110 million budget.  Seriously, just watch the scene where they all scale the wall.  It looks ridiculous.  Video games have 100x better graphics than that scene alone with probably 5% of the budget.  

The whole movie is basically just the group of kids running away trying to get farther away from "the machine" and making everything right and equal in the world.  For some reason, even after everything that has happened in her life, Tris continues to believe everything that the people in charge tell her...'cause that's always worked right?  They weren't so concerned with plot in this one...or special effects...or entertainment apparently.

Just as a side note, another Ansel Elgort song that's actually pretty dope, again.

I still can't stand Zoe Kravitz but she literally seems to be in every fucking movie I'm watching.  Like, seriously, how is she even working this's ridiculous. 

Rating: 3.75/10

Ryan Gomes Ranked the 4th Best NBA Draft Pick Selected at Number 50 by ESPN

With the NBA Draft tomorrow night, ESPN ranked the 5 best selections at each draft position (picks 1 through 60) based on total career win shares.  Now obviously, for some of the higher picks, the 5 guys are mostly Hall of Famers and because this list goes off of career win shares, a lot of the young guys in the league (i.e. James Harden, Russell Westbrook, The Greek Freak, etc.) won't be in the top 5 at their pick for a couple more years or until their NBA careers are finished.

Here's the description of how they put the list together: 

Great players can come from anywhere -- from the first pick to the 60th. That's clear when comparing the top five players of all time (by career win shares) selected at each draft slot. Because these rankings are based on career totals, young stars such as former No. 15 pick Giannis Antetokounmpo don't appear just yet. Included with each slot: the team picking at that position and the player ranked there by ESPN draft analyst Chad Ford. 

I thought Ryan Gomes was a complete steal when the Celtics took him with the 50th pick in the 2005 NBA Draft, so it actually doesn't surprise me that he has one of the top career win shares of players selected with that pick.  He was a First Team All-American his Junior year, took strides with extending his range during his Senior season, but just happened to be on a less talented Friars team that year.

Gomes played 487 career games in the NBA, despite being chosen all the way down at the 50th selection.  He averaged 10.1 points per game, 4.6 rebounds per game, and had career shooting splits of 45% FG/35% 3-FG/80% FT.

Just for reference if you want to see the full (and extremely complicated) details for calculating win shares, you can read about it here.  To make it a little simpler, it's basically a player statistic that attempts to to divvy up the credit between players for team success for winning a game.

Gomes was at PC at the same time I was and I still regret losing my "In Gomes We Trust" T-Shirt...still irks me to this very day.

P.S. Shout to Darius Songalia.  I haven't heard that name in freaking forever.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Movie Review: The Descent Part 2 (2009)

Movie: The Descent Part II (2009)

Director: Jon Harris

Writer: James McCarthy, J Blakeson, & James Watkins

Cast: Shauna Macdonald, Douglas Hodge, Josh Dallas, Anna Skellern, Gavan O'Herlihy, Natalie Mendoza, Krysten Cummings, & Michael J. Reynolds

One-Line Plot Synopsis: Sarah Carter (Macdonald), the sole survivor of a cave diving expedition, is forced to go back into the depths of the cave when no one believes her story.

For some reason, I didn't realize that The Descent had a sequel until I saw this movie pop up while I was scrolling on Netflix.  Not only was a sequel to the extremely well done and enjoyable horror movie The Descent, but it was actually a continuation of the story with the same sole survivor character, Sarah Carter.

The Descent, a 2005 movie from writer/director Neil Marshall, followed a group of women on a caving expedition that goes horribly wrong when they encounter a species of predators that lives within the caves.  The movie was jump our of your pants scary and I even freaking watched it in the daytime.  

The Descent 2, picks up right where the first movie left off, with the sole survivor of the previous cave expedition having to lead authorities back through the caves because no one believes her story about monsters living beneath the earth and they are looking for her friends who went into the caves with her.

Having seen the first movie, the second one obviously doesn't have the same surprise factor of encountering the underground monsters for the first time.  It definitely got as gross as the first movie at times but it didn't live up to the bar set by the original.  It's hard for a sequel to be as good as the original and I think it might even be harder for a horror movie to do so.

One of the main reasons that the second movie wasn't on par with the first probably has to do with director Neil Marshall not returning for the second film.  Neil Marshall has went on to do a bunch more directing of both TV and movies but Jon Harris, the director of this movie, only has The Descent 2 in his directorial resume.

Neil Marshall directed two of the best episodes of Game of Thrones, Blackwater and The Watchers on the Wall.  He has a lot of talent when it comes to filming action sequences and that is noticeable in first Descent movie compared with the second one.

Rating 5.5/10 

Movie Review: The Lobster (2015)

Movie: The Lobster (2015)

Director: Yorgos Lanthimos

Writer: Yorgos Lanthimos & Efthymis Filippou

Cast: Colin Farrell, Rachel Weisz, John C. Reilly, Ben Wishaw, Lea Seydoux, Michael Smiley, Angelika Papoulia, Ariane Labed, Ashley Jensen, Jessica Barden, & Olivia Colman

One-Line Plot Synopsis: Single people are brought to a Hotel and given 45 days in order to fall in love with a partner or they will be turned into an animal of their choosing and sent into the woods.

What did I just watch?

I was extremely intrigued and excited to watch this movie after seeing the trailer for The Lobster.  It looked exactly like the quirky type of offbeat movie that I end up really getting into and watching again and again as the years go by, kind of like Lars and the Real Girl or Her.  Both of those center around lonely characters who are trying to find love by hopefully connecting with another unique individual searching for the same circumstance.

Plus, John C. Reilly seems like the perfectly cast sidekick for a movie like this.  He is always good at toeing the line of comedy and drama in movies like Cedar Rapids and Cyrus.

Let me just set the odd plot for you...if I even can.  Singles go to stay at a hotel for 45 days in which they try and find someone else staying at the hotel to fall in love with.  If they don't fall in love with someone within those 45 days, they then turn into an animal of their choosing to live our the rest of their lives as.  So, that might be the most original idea I've heard of in some time.  Yes, it sounds super weird, and even typing it is kind of awkward, but a movie like that can definitely work.

This movie did not.

I've heard good things but those were mostly from critics and this is one of the reasons that you should just watch a movie without having any preconceived intentions.  I kept waiting for something to happen that would turn the movie around but it actually continued to get weirder and much darker as the movie went on.  

Some movies that are weird and out there can be special and some of them can just be weird and out there.  This one is the latter.

Two people from Spectre (which I just watched) decided to show in this movie too.  Ben Wishaw and Lea Seydoux decided to make it back-to-back movies in two totally different types of film.  I thought Wishaw was well suited for the awkwardness of this movie and I thought Seydoux was like staring at paint dry once again.  Some actors just don't do it for me, and she has turned out to be one of them.

Rating: 2.5/10

Movie Review: Spectre (2015)

Movie: Spectre (2015)

Director: Sam Mendes

Writer: John Logan (screenplay), Neil Purvis (screenplay), Robert Wade (screenplay), Jez Butterworth (screenplay), & Ian Fleming

Cast: Daniel Craig, Christoph Waltz, Lea Seydoux, Ralph Fiennes, Monica Bellucci, Ben Wishaw, Naomie Harris, Dave Bautista, Andrew Scott, & Rory Kinnear

One-Line Plot Synopsis: James Bond (Craig) follows clues that delve him deeper into the SPECTRE crime organization.

Daniel Craig is back once again to play the broken and vulnerable James Bond that we've come to expect from him in his portrayal of the British spy.  The story continues for him in his quest to delve deeper into the underground crime organization known as SPECTRE, hence the name of the movie.

I'm going to go quickly, character by character, and then get to the movie itself.

Daniel Craig as James Bond - Always awesome.

Ben Wishaw as the young Q - His voice and look definitely fit the character that he's supposed to be playing.  A smart inventor of clever and crafty weapons made specifically for Mr. Bond.  I have a feeling I'm going to become a Wishaw fan in the future.

Christoph Waltz as Blofeld - Not the coolest name for a villain but if Waltz excels at anything, it's a being a menacing villain.  I'm sure he must be kind of getting sick of playing villains now but he's just so damn good at it.

Lea Seydoux as Madeleine - Well, she looks good at least.  Acting, not so much.

Monica Bellucci as Lucia - She was billed as the oldest woman to be a so-called "Bond Girl."  I don't know if she has a big enough role to technically qualify as a "Bond Girl," but she still has the goods, that's for sure.  Great accent too.

Dave Bautista as Hinx - I had only seen him in Guardians of the Galaxy where he is unexpectedly hilarious.  He's basically built to be a henchman if you need one.

Ralph Fiennes as M - If you need a great actor to play someone of British Intelligence, you can't do much better than Ralph Fiennes (I still can't get over how his name is pronounced Rafe and not Ralf).

Naomie Harris a Moneypenny - I've loved her ever since 28 Days Later...Naomie is my girl.

This is Sam Mendes' second time directing a Bond film after collaborating with Craig on Skyfall.  I definitely enjoyed Skyfall more than Spectre but Casino Royale is still the best Bond film that Craig has made.  I read that he signed on for at least one more Bond film after this, so let's hope that one gets back to its roots.  The next movie will be called Bond 25 but I haven't seen a director announced for it yet so I'm not sure if Mendes will still be involved or not.

For continuing the story that was started over the last couple of movies into Spectre, I expected to be more invested in the story but unfortunately, that didn't end up being the case.  It might have had something to do with Seydoux being as emotional as a rock.  This was definitely not the best Bond movie, but if you're going to say you watch them all, you have to knock this one of the list, and Christoph Waltz is always engaging to watch be villainous.

Rating: 6/10

Movie Review: Demolition (2015)

Movie: Demolition (2015)

Director: Jean-Marc Vallee

Writer: Bryan Sipe

Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Naomi Watts, Chris Cooper, C.J. Wilson, Polly Draper, & Heather Lind

One-Line Plot Synopsis: A banker (Gyllenhaal) tries to overcome the death of his wife dies in a car accident by demolishing his house and rebuilding his life with the help of a customer service rep (Watts) and her son (Wilson).

I'm a huge Jake Gyllenhaal fan.  That much should be pretty clear by now.  So, I'll see anything and everything that he comes out with.  I'd say he has at least an 80% success rate and even if a movie may not be on that "next level," he's going to bring it up a notch by how good he is.

Demolition, for me, falls into that other 20%.  That still doesn't mean it's bad, it's just that when you go to name the number of Gyllenhaal's great movies, this one will probably not make the list.  The movie tends to be repetitive, not in the good Source Code kind of way, but in the stale way, where it's not moving forward and just treading water for an extended period of time.  Demolition, which will never not remind me of Demolition Man, is a movie about a banker, played by Jake, who has his wife die in a car accident.  In an effort to cope with the loss, he starts dismantling his house that he shared with her, discovering details about their relationship that he may have overlooked when they were actually still together.  

Naomi Watts is randomly connected to Gyllenhaal's grieving character by kind of stalking him if we're being honest.  Also, I'm not sure why she doesn't just use her normal speaking voice and uses an American accent instead.  It sound a tad emotionless to me.  Her son, played by Judah Lewis, is probably my favorite part of the movie.  He plays his character with nuance that seems advanced for a kid his age.  He portrays a multi-layered character struggling with his sexual identity and looking for some type of human connection.  I would have preferred a movie centered around his character more so than the one we got centered around Gyllenhaal's.

It's always nice to have Chris Cooper involved in any movie.  

Demolition was made on only a $10 million budget...unfortunately, it only grossed $1.8 million in the US.

Rating: 6.5/10

Movie Review: Midnight Special (2016)

Movie: Midnight Special (2016)

Director: Jeff Nichols

Writer: Jeff Nichols

Cast: Michael Shannon, Joel Edgerton, Jaeden Lieberher, Kirsten Dunst, Adam Driver, Sam Shepard, Paul Sparks, Bill Camp, Scott Haze, Sean Bridgers, & David Jensen

One-Line Plot Synopsis: A father is on the run with his son from both the Government and a religious group who both want the boy for his incredible special powers.

There are a few director/actor combinations in Hollywood right now that are pretty dynamic and special.  Jeff Nichols and Michael Shannon happen to be one of those partnerships that works perfectly.  Unlike the combination of say, Leonardo DiCaprio and Martin Scorsese or Tim Burton and Johnny Depp, Shannon and Nichols do their projects on a much smaller scale but with the same level of artistry, originality, and talent.

Jeff Nichols might just be the most underrated person working in Hollywood right now.  His writing and style are completely his own and every project that he produces is an incredible piece of film.  This was Nichols and Shannon's third time working together.  They started with the low budget Indie movie Shotgun Stories, followed that up with the incredibly visualized Take Shelter, and took it even further with Midnight Special.  The great things about the movies that they work on together is that they center around story and characters.  That's where any good movie will hang its hat.  The rest of the stuff can enhance a movie but it can't stand without those specific pillars.

The more I see Adam Driver in movies, the bigger fan of his I become.  My favorite scene is the interrogation Driver has with Alton, played by the young kid Jaeden Lieberher.  I think it might be something with the way Driver speaks.  He has an unusual tone to his voice and the way he puts sentences together is interesting...if that makes any sense at all.

I'm looking forward to any and all future collaborations between these two. I know that they'll make something special and something that is completely different than anything that's going to be out at the time.  That's what makes the pairing of these two talented people so great.

Rating: 9/10

Bryce Cotton to Play with the Atlanta Hawks in the NBA Summer League

Bryce Cotton will once again be playing for the Atlanta Hawks in this summer's NBA Las Vegas Summer League.  
Cotton was invited and played on the Hawks summer league team last year and after a pretty good run, averaging 12.8 ppg for the team, Cotton decided to play overseas instead of perhaps garnering a contract offer from Atlanta.

Cotton dominated in Australia once he got there, leading the Perth Wildcats to the Championship and winning MVP honors for the team.  Over the last two seasons, Cotton has played with three different NBA teams, just trying to get a foot in the door.  He has shown flashes of being able to handle the load of a backup point guard, it seems to be more a question of opportunity.

I can foresee Cotton as a Patty Mills-type of player with a slightly higher scoring ceiling.  It also looks like he's got athleticism out to wazoo.

Looking at the Hawks roster from the end of last season, their point guards were as follows:

Dennis Schroder
Jose Calderon
Malcolm Delaney

Schroder is the starter, so he's there to stay...and he's good too.
Malcolm Delaney, who got his first run in the league last year at 28 years old, averaging 5.4 points and 2.6 assists per game (7.56 PER).
Jose Calderon who really should not be still playing in the NBA.  At 35 years old, he averaged 3.4 points, 2.1 assists, and PER of 8.94 last year. 

Cotton is better than both Delaney and Calderon RIGHT NOW.  Depending on what the Hawks do in the draft, Cotton has a real chance to make the team after the summer league. He should also be familiar with Atlanta's systems and styles having played with their summer league team last year.

First game for the Atlanta Hawks is Friday July 7th at 5 P.M. vs. Brooklyn.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Ranking the Friars Men's Basketball Non-Conference Games for the Upcoming Season

I threw together a quick breakdown of Providence's non-conference games for much anticipated 2017-2018 men's basketball season, in order of my excitement for each game.  So without further ado, let's get into it.

11. Friday, December 22nd vs. Sacred Heart

Last Year: 13-19 (8-10; 8th Place Northeast)
KenPom Rank: 301
RPI Rank: 299

There are 351 Division 1 basketball programs, so any time that your team is creeping up into the 300's in any ranking system, that's not good.  They're basically this year's edition of Grambling that we played last year.  Even if you win the game, it actually hurts your ranking because they're so damn bad.  

A little silver lining is that this is the last game of the out of conference schedule for the Friars and it is right before the Christmas break, so it's basically an even longer extended Christmas break for the team to rest up before the conference schedule begins.  You almost don't want that last team you play before the break to be just decent enough to beat you because sometimes the timing of this game can make it a trap game that players sometimes might have a hard time getting up, the student section will be back home for their Holiday break so the crowd dynamic will be different.  

To be honest, I kind wish this schedule spot was used for Bryant.  I like taking down all three of the other DI basketball teams in the state in one year.

OK, I think I've written far too much on a matchup with freaking Sacred Heart.

Prediction: Friars Win.

10. Wednesday December 6th vs. Brown

Last Year: 13-17 (4-10; 6th Place Ivy League)
KenPom Rank: 277
RPI Rank: 285

I like that we get to take these nerds down a peg every year.  Providence smashed Brown by 40 last year and we get to put Jordan Spieth's little brother Steven in a body bag...I'd say that's a couple nice bonuses for the Ivy down the street.

Prediction: Friars Win.

9. Wednesday, November 29th vs. Rider

Last Year: 18-15 (10-10; 6th Place MAAC)
KenPom Rank: 208
RPI Rank: 197

I know nothing about this Rider team, other than that they are slightly better than Sacred Heart and there's some hard hitting analysis for you.

Prediction: Friars Win.

8. Sunday, December 17th vs. Stony Brook

Last Year: 18-14 (12-4; 2nd Place America East)
KenPom Rank: 214
RPI Rank: 186

I'm holding out hope that Stony Brook can go on a little tear like Vermont did last year in their conference.  Stony Brook finished 2nd behind Vermont in the America East last year and returns everyone except for their leading scorer from last year's squad.  Oh, and just a picture of a Stony Brook fan for the helluva it.

Prediction: Friars Win.

7. Saturday, December 9th at UMass

Last Year: 15-18 (4-14; 12th Place Atlantic 10)
KenPom Rank: 157
RPI Rank: 194

UMass had a rough year last year but should be able to bounce back a little bit this season in a pretty good Atlantic 10 conference.  The Friars beat the Minutemen at home last year, 75-69, in a game that was much closer than it should have been based on the kind of year that UMass had.  One guy that I am looking forward to seeing is that MONSTER Rashaan Holloway.  Here's Ben Bentil from 2 years ago, absolutely abusing him. 

From his Freshman year to his Sophomore year, Holloway has grown leaps and bounds, so I'm legitimately curious to see what steps he's taken for this year.

6. Friday November 10th or Wednesday November 22nth vs. Houston Baptist or Belmont 

(2K Classic)...hoping for Belmont here, so let's just go with the most optimistic assumption and say its Belmont.
Last Year: 23-7 (15-1; 1st Place Ohio Valley - East)
KenPom Rank: 83
RPI Rank: 58
7 Seed in the NIT Tournament, lost in 2nd round to Georgia Tech

Although Belmont was the top seed in the OVC conference tournament, they fell to Jacksonville State in the semifinals.  Unfortunately for the Bruins of Belmont, even with their pretty impressive resume for a mid-major, they are pretty much only making the tournament if they win the OVC conference tourney.  I mean, they were 23-7 and the number 1 seed in the OVC tourney and were still only able to pull a 7 seed in the NIT.  On the flip side, a win over Belmont would be a nice little resume booster for the Friars.  Something that will look good when they put up Providence's win-loss record vs. Top 50 (in the best case) or Top 100 (most likely) opponents.

Prediction: Friars Win.

5. Saturday, November 9th vs. Boston College

Last Year: 9-23 (2-16; 15th Place ACC)
KenPom Rank: 214th
RPI Rank: 186th

Belmont will definitely be better than Boston College this upcoming season, but man do I hate Boston fucking College.  Somehow, even though they've STUNK these last two years, they've been able to have the Friars' number in the head-to-head matchups.  Ed Cooley was a longtime assistant of Al Skinner at BC and still has ties to many people at the school and in the community...but I don't, and I want to beat these fools by 30.  I want a dunk-a-thon.  I want some Tommy Planek highlights.  I want all of it.  

Can't hate on Super Fan though...

4. Wednesday, December 20th vs. Houston (Holiday Showcase at Mohegan Sun)

Last Year: 21-11 (12-6; 3rd Place AAC)
KenPom Rank: 52
RPI Rank: 62
2 Seed in the NIT Tournament, lost in the 1st round to Akron

Houston has noticeably taken a step forward since Kelvin Sampson has taken the helm of the program.  They have recruited extremely well with Sampson leading the way but have yet to put things totally together for an NCAA Tournament run.  One reason is that their out of conference schedule has been so horrendous that even though it pads their overall record, none of the wins end up meaning anything at the end of the year.  Well, now you get a chance to take on Providence, and sorry, but you picked the wrong program to face off against.

I'll be going to this game at Mohegan Sun as I have been for the last couple of games that Providence has played there.

Coach Cooley has nicknamed Mohegan Sun as "Friartown South" and from attending a Friars basketball game there before, I think he might be onto something.  I went to the Florida State game as part of the Basketball Hall of Fame Tip-Off and it was basically all Friars fans.  I hope they continue to have "neutral" site games there each year.

Here's a Cooley quote from the game against Florida State (80-54 Win) "I thought we fed off the crowd," Cooley said. "I thought we were playing at the Dunkin' Donuts Center (in Providence)."

Here are some pics from that game.

Prediction: Friars Win.

3. Thurs/Fri November 16th/17th Washington, Virginia Tech or St. Louis (2K Classic MSG)

Last Year: 22-11 (12-8; 7th Place ACC)
KenPom Rank: 50
RPI Rank: 50
9 Seed in the NCAA Tournament (Virginia Tech), lost in the 1st round to Wisconsin
Virginia Tech should be ranked or close to ranked when they face off against the Friars at MSG in the 2K Classic.  Buzz Williams has done a great job in a short period of time with the Hokies.  I'm hoping the schedule works out so that we play Washington and VTech and miss out on St. Louis, because let's be honest, St. Louis ain't doing anything good basketball-wise.

The one thing I was hoping for was that the games would be on a Friday and Saturday rather than Thursday and Friday but if they play Virginia Tech on that Friday, then that's the one I'm gong to try and get up there for.  MSG should be filled with PC fans since it's both the only school in the Northeast and might be hard for fans of the other teams to get to during the week.

Prediction: Friars Win.

2. Monday, November 13th vs. Minnesota (Gavitt Tipoff Games)

Last Year: 24-10 (11-7; 4th Place Big 10)
KenPom Rank: 37
RPI Rank: 25
5 Seed in the NCAA Tournament, lost in the 1st round to Middle Tennessee State
Minnesota is going to start the season ranked under PC Alumn and the 15-Second Man Rick's son Richard Pitino, so this game being at the Dunk is both a homecoming for Richard and a great opportunity for the Friars.  This should be the highest ranked team that PC has a chance to play before the Big East conference slate of games.

Minnesota should finish the season in the top 2 or 3 teams in the Big Ten and is possibly the best matchup for the Gavitt Games that the Friars could have hoped for.  Even though the Gophers had a great season last year, finishing 24-10, they only managed to go 5-5 on the road and 2-2 in neutral site games.  Providence went 15-3 at home last year so those records do bode well for a potential PC win.

Prediction: Friars Win.

1. Saturday, December 2nd at Rhode Island

Last Year: 25-10 (13-5; 3rd Place Atlantic 10)
KenPom Rank: 34
RPI Rank: 31
11 Seed in the NCAA Tournament, lost in the 2nd round to Oregon

Why URI number 1 you may ask?  One, because I fucking hate URI.  Two, we have owned them the last couple of years.  And three, this rivalry is at its best when both teams are good at the same time.  After their mini-run in the NCAA Tournament, URI is getting some respect in this year's upcoming I can't wait for the Friars to crush their hopes again this season...this time at the Ryan Center at URI.

Prediction: Friars Win in a bloodbath.