SDSU Takes Big Hit From Jimmer, BYU (Again)
Once again, the 2010-2011 San Diego State Aztecs looked like they were on to something, and looked like they could be a legitimate top seed in the upcoming NCAA tournament.
And, once again, there was Jimmer Fredette and his BYU Cougars to pull them back down to Earth.
For the second time in a month, BYU took down their Mountain West rivals to grab the inside track on the conference regular season title. While the Cougars relied on Fredette, a candidate for National Player of the Year, and his 43 points to beat SDSU at their first meeting in Provo, it was a balanced scoring attack from the three-point line that was the Aztecs’ ultimate downfall on Saturday.
Not to say that SDSU laid an egg against the new #3 team in the nation. After all, Sophomore F Kawhi Leonard – who would probably receive notice as a college phenom in the MWC if not for Fredette’s stellar play – recorded his 20th double-double of the season (17 points, 13 rebounds). Four players, overall, scored in double-digits, and the Aztecs came to within 3 points before falling behind for good in the second half.
What was amazing to watch was BYU’s overall accuracy from behind the arc. Despite trying to clamp down on Fredette with veteran F Billy White, he still got free enough to make 4-for-8 from three-point land. Three other BYU players – F Noah Hartsock, G Jackson Emery and G-F Charles Abouo – significantly contributed from behind the three-point line. All told, the Cougars finished 14-for-24 (58.3%) in three-pointers. While SDSU tried to counter, they could only muster a pedestrian 6-for-17 (35.3%). Ultimately, the Aztecs can take solace in two things, moving forward:
1) Their defense knows to focus on BYU’s long-range game. Should the two teams meet again (most likely in the MWC Tournament), the Aztecs will know to do their best to clamp down on the area behind the three-point arc. They cannot let the Cougars space them out on defense as much as they did on Saturday. SDSU must force BYU to take their game inside to their big men, or, at the very least, make Fredette drive to the basket as much as possible. If anything, BYU’s performance on Saturday was more of an aberration, than anything else.
2) They have Wyoming coming up tonight. Why can they take solace in this? Well, the last time BYU beat the Aztecs – another 13-point loss – they took their frustrations out on a clearly-outmatched Wyoming team, in a 96-57 beatdown. If the Aztecs take care of business, they can take some semblance of momentum into the MWC tournament, and gun for a possible #1 seed.
At least, for now, they don’t have to deal with the Cougars again.
Cody Ross seeks Extension: Should He Get One Now?
One of the Giants’ postseason heroes isn’t getting what he wants.
Cody Ross, a late-season pick-up from the Florida Marlins in August 2010, turned into a postseason darling, helping the San Francisco Giants defeat the heavily-favored Philadelphia Phillies in the 2010 NLCS, on their way to their first World Series title since 1958, and first in San Francisco history. Soon after, Ross was a fan favorite in the streets of San Francisco – many were hoping, after the initial honeymoon period of a World Series title wore off, that Ross would be signed beyond 2010. The organization responded in kind with a one-year, $6.3 million contract.
However, Ross likes it in San Francisco, and has reportedly asked for an extension from the club. While the Giants said they will re-evaluate after other contracts for 2011 are settled, the issue is liable to cause unrest among the Giants faithful if it continues in the coming weeks and months of the 2011 season.
Judging from previous decisions made on key parts to the Giants’ World Series title run, it is hard to say as to what the organization should do, in the short-term. After all, they gave 1B Aubrey Huff a 2-year, $22 million contract to start the offseason for his contributions in the 2010 regular season. Conversely, they neglected to re-sign World Series hero Edgar Renteria, giving him an offer he found “insulting,” and allowing him to sign with the Cincinnati Reds.
Though, unlike Huff, Ross was a late-season producer, doing the bulk of his work in the postseason. And, unlike Renteria, Ross is only 30 years old, hitting what looks to be latter prime of his career. Even with a career .265 batting average, Ross’ most recent production warrants, at the very least, another look.
I understand what the organization is doing, however. The reason they let Renteria go in the first place was because of his gross under-production after he signed a 2-year, $18.5 million contract in 2008. They just don’t want to make the same mistake with Ross. And, should Huff befall the same fate as Renteria three years ago, and underperform in his contract, they would rather not make the same mistake twice in one year.
After all, it’s only fair to see what Ross has to offer for an entire season, instead of one postseason. As Renteria had proved, even postseason heroes can lose their luster after awhile – especially if they under-perform.
49ers Draft Watch: Are they Eyeing … Cam Newton??
With the NFL Draft on the horizon, the San Francisco 49ers have some important decisions to make.
New head coach Jim Harbaugh and his coaching staff is hard at work, attempting to revitalize a team that has gone through numerous coaching regimes, offensive schemes and disappointing seasons since their last playoff appearance in 2002. Now, with the seventh pick in this year’s draft, they have many needs to address – defensive line, secondary help and quarterback, just to name a few.
But, despite Coach Harbaugh’s insistence that 2005 bust Alex Smith is still a legitimate contender to start at QB in 2011, sources say that the 49ers organization is seriously considering drafting Auburn QB and Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton, if he is available at No. 7 overall. The fact that they chose to interview Newton and Nevada QB prospect Colin Kaepernick, when NFL Combine interviews are limited, speaks to their priorities for the draft.
Despite his talents, and the 49ers’ desperate need for a competent QB, I said this once, and I am going to say it again: the 49ers should stay away from Cameron Newton. I only say this for a few reasons:
1) Despite his Heisman-worthy talent, he isn’t too different from Alex Smith six years ago – at least from a system standpoint. If one remembers back in 2005, Utah QB Alex Smith was vying for the #1 spot against Cal QB Aaron Rodgers. When Smith was drafted, one of the main concerns was that Smith would be transitioning from a high-powered spread offense to a pro-style, drop-back offense in the NFL. Looking back, it wasn’t the greatest of transitions (although, the constant change in OCs didn’t help). Now, remind me – what did Newton run in Auburn this year? Lo and behold: the spread offense. And by, at least, some accounts, his drop-backs still need a lot of work.
2) If he is drafted, Harbaugh and Newton will be forever joined at the hip, in success, and in failure. Now, remember, this is Jim Harbaugh’s first go-around as an NFL head coach. If anything, he wants to start this thing right. His brother John landed in a great situation with the Baltimore Ravens. Now, let’s face facts: this carnation of the San Francisco 49ers will never be mistaken for the Baltimore Ravens. He is starting from scratch with a team that has been “rebuilding” for nine years. If he screws this up by taking a signal-caller that, at best, would serve as a backup for the next two or three years, or, at worst, be an all-out bust, 49ers fans could get fed up quick.
3) The 49ers have much bigger issues than QB, despite the fact that QB is a big issue. While San Francisco shored up its offensive line in 2010, it still has a lot of issues on the other side of the ball. Namely, shoring up a secondary that has been wildly ineffective, despite having “franchise” CB Nate Clements. The defensive line has big problems as well, what with the disappointment of 1st round pick Kentwan Balmer, and the looming departure of Aubrayo Franklin.
Now, I will say this: if the 49ers jump on the opportunity to draft Cam Newton, despite everything I said, and he ends up succeeding in San Francisco, mark my words … for I will eat them. In the meantime, I’ll pass on a helping of Cam, thank you very much.