Thursday, June 20, 2013

Emptying my head before a much needed break

Gotta clear the decks before taking a breather, so here goes.

  • Props to both the UNC and NC State baseball teams for a great ride through the post season. Sad that they were placed in the same side of the bracket in Omaha.  Would have made for some great drama, had they both reached the championship series. Alas, one of them leaves Omaha following Thursday's game.  UNC has had a fairly sick season, having not lost back-to-back games (to this point), while NC State has been on fire for the last 40 games.  Great to see these programs helping keep collegiate baseball very much alive and well in the state.  Not that it was suffering, but runs like these only reinforce just how well the game is played across the state.  Fans of ECU know how good the Pirates have been in the past, UNC-W was among the nation's best, and Charlotte nearly claimed another A-10 crown, and a trip to the NCAA Tournament.  Baseball is quite healthy in NC.  And that's good.
  • The NBA Finals conclude Thursday night in Miami.  First, let me say I chuckled heartily at the fans that left game 6 early, and couldn't get back in once they learned the Heat were on the comeback trail.  Those moments are what make sports great (not the fans leaving, of course).  And it's those moments that should remind every fan across the world that it's not over until the clock hits 0:00.  Even if Miami trails by 20 in the 4th quarter, I suspect fans will still stick around...just in case.  However, I don't think they will be watching their team lose.  Miami will likely win game 7, and in convincing fashion.  I'm not banging on the Spurs, but as I felt ate the start of the series, the younger legs of the Heat would likely be the difference.  Add that to the demoralizing loss the Spurs took in game 6, and it's a recipe for disaster for Gregg Popovich and company.  Heat win game 7 by no fewer than 10.
  • The Stanley Cup Final is all tied up at 2-2, thanks to some shaky goaltending by both Chicago's Corey Crawford and Boston's Tuuka Rask.  Add their unusual performances (both had been remarkable through the first three games), with ice conditions that are frankly atrocious, and you get what we got in game 4.  Overtime, strange bounces, and goals that mostly relied on brawn than beauty.  The ice crew at TD Garden has no excuse for ice conditions to be less than perfect.  You can't tell me outside humidity this, or cooling that.  There is no floor changeover in the building with the Celtics out of the playoffs.  The ice maintenance crew should have that sheet perfect every time.  Period.  Now, the ice was garbage for both teams, which makes it equally frustrating for the players, and a stress test for the fans (as a Chicago fan, I know), so don't view that rant as a complaint.  Just a fact.  Boston's ice is junk.
  • I am too emotionally attached to this series to make a prediction. The fan says Chicago wins, but I wouldn't be giving Boston their proper respect by dismissing them.  The Bruins are ridiculously good.  Getting great play in net from Rask, their defense is aggressive, their forwards love to finish their checks.  They play the right way.  Period.  Tough, hard-nosed hockey.  Almost a lost art, really.  Chicago plays a similar style, but their game is based more on speed than the physical.  Whichever teams wins the Cup will be more than deserving.
  • Charlotte BobNets (making the transition myself) began their pre-draft workouts on Wednesday, getting a look ate Indiana's Cody Zeller, NC State's Scott Wood, Wake's CJ Harris, Davidson's Jake Cohen and others.  Realistically, only Zeller is on Charlotte's radar as a potential pick.  To me, he is on the periphery at that.  BobNets have just one selection for the draft (fourth overall), unless they make a deal to acquire an additional pick or picks.  I am interested to see what they do once the free agency period begins. The potential of having deep double digits of space under the salary cap is intriguing.  The thing that brings you back to earth, is they (once again) have a first-time Head Coach in Steve Clifford, and other than his resume being highlighted by working under both VanGundy's (Jeff and Stan), I'm not sure just how good this guy is, or will be.
That's a wrap for me!  Have a great weekend and week, as I'm gone fishin' (or something like that!)

Mike Solarte
Follow me on Twitter @MikeSolarte & @Sports_Night