Tag Archives: Kyle Singler

A List Mania unlike any other

So here we go, the sun is out, the golf ball starts flying at Augusta on Thursday, the baseball season has started, and another addition of List Mania is upon us.

For those not in the know, List Mania is an ode to former Kansas City Star and current Sports Illustrated columnist Joe Posnanski, who famously wrote lists until one day, many years ago, he wrote a column saying he would never list again…

So here goes…

Three sports upsets that I wish would have happened

1. Tom Watson at the 2009 British Open
2. Butler over Duke in the 2010 NCAA title game
3. U.S. soccer team over Germany in the quarterfinals of the 2002 World Cup

White players who’ve won MOP of the Final Four since 1977

1. Christian Laettner, Duke, 1991
2. Bobby Hurley, Duke, 1992
3. Jeff Sheppard, Kentucky, 1998
4. Kyle Singler, Duke, 2010

Top five pitchers in baseball

1. Zack Greinke, Kansas City Royals
2. Tim Lincecum, San Francisco Giants
3. Felix Hernandez, Seattle Mariners
4. Roy Halladay, Philadelphia Phillies
5. Johan Santana, New York Mets

The five most underrated players in baseball

1. Ben Zobrist, utility player, Tampa Bay Rays

The Rays’ best-kept secret started 81 games at second base and 44 games in the outfield (also chipped in six games at short and two at first base), but his bat is what really makes him special. He had a .405 on-base percentage and an OPS-plus of 146. That’s what happens when you hit 27 homers and 28 doubles*. To put this in perspective. No Royal has had an OPS-plus of more than 146 since Mike Sweeney posted a 148 in 2002. Did we mention Zobrist will make $438,100** this season?

*Zobrist also seems to have good speed. At least, a high-ranking official in the Royals’ organization once praised Yuniesky Betancourt’s arm because he threw out Zobrist on a slow roller. So I’m guessing the official thinks Zobrist can fly.

**Numbers obtained from of the website, Cot’s Baseball Contracts

2. Shin-Soo Choo, right fielder, Cleveland Indians

Choo, who turns 28 in July, had a .394 on-base percentage with 20 homers and 38 doubles in 2009. Pretty good for a guy who made $420,300. … And I don’t want to sound like a scout here, but the guy really does look impressive in person.

3. Chone Figgins, second baseman, Seattle Mariners

You may ask how Figgins can still be underrated. After all, the Mariners signed him to a four-year, $36 million deal in the offseason. Still, I’m not sure people understand how valuable Figgins is. Last season, according to FanGraphs.com, Figgins’ WAR (a metric that utilizes offense, defense and baserunning to measure total value) was 6.1, the 11th highest in baseball.*

*Who was ranked ahead of Figgins? How about this list?

1. Ben Zobrist, 8.6
2. Albert Pujols, 8.5
3. Joe Mauer, 8.1
4. Chase Utley, 7.6
5. Derek Jeter, 7.4
6. Evan Longoria, 7.2
7. Hanley Ramirez, 7.2
8. Ryan Zimmerman, 7.2
9. Prince Fielder, 6.8
10. Adrian Gonzalez, 6.8

4. Franklin Gutierrez, center fielder, Seattle Mariners

By nearly any defensive metric, Gutierrez is the best outfielder in baseball – and by some, he is the best defensive player in all of baseball. Gold Gloves be damned.

5. Erick Aybar, shortstop, LA Angels

Similar to Figgins, Aybar may be even more valuable than some people realize. He’ll make just a shade over $2 million this season. A pretty solid investment for a 26 year old who hit .312 last season with an on-base percentage of .353. Watch him play in person, and you’ll also realize that the kid can flat out fly.

Five players selected after the Royals picked Luke Hochevar No. 1 in the 2006 MLB draft

1. Evan Longoria, picked third by Tampa Bay
2. Clayton Kershaw, picked seventh by the LA Dodgers
3. Tim Lincecum, picked 10th by San Francisco
4. Joba Chamberlain, picked 41 by the New York Yankees
5. Brett Anderson, picked 55th by Arizona (traded to Oakland)

Five players selected after the Royals picked Alex Gordon No. 2 in the 2005 MLB draft

1. Ryan Zimmerman, picked fourth by Washington
2. Ryan Braun, picked fifth by Milwaukee
3. Troy Tulowitzki, picked seventh by Colorado
4. Andrew McCutcheon, picked 11th by Pittsburgh
5. Jacoby Ellsbury, picked 28th by Boston

Five things that may only interest me

1. So they have Cheeseburger-flavored Doritos now. Really, cheeseburger. Of course, I had to try them. The review? Well, they really do taste like cheeseburger. You get the cheesy taste of regular Doritos, a hint of ketchup – and the smoky flavor of the burger patty. Of course, I’m not so sure this is all a good thing. I’m not so sure I need my cheeseburgers in chip form.

2. President Obama is not allowed to throw out any more first pitches. The poor guy has tried twice, and both times he has come out looking only slightly better than this guy…

Hey, I appreciate that Obama can hoop a little bit. That’s impressive. But is it too much to ask that our commander-in-chiefs have the ability to shoot a basketball AND throw a baseball? Dubya could fill up the strike zone – but he also once did this…

3. The strangest thing about the Masters? How can the most beautiful golf course in the world be in the one of the most plain towns in America?

Five song lyrics for the spring

1. “But times change, sailors these days, when I’m in port I get what I need. Not just Havanas or bananas or daiquiris, but that American creation on which I feed.”

2. “Twelve hours out of Mackinaw City, stopped in a bar to have a brew. Met a girl and we had a few drinks, and I told her what I’d decided to do.”

3. “And its funny how it`s the little things in life that mean the most, not where you live, what you drive or the price tag on your clothes.”

3. “The water is warm, but it’s sending me shivers. A baby is born, crying out for attention. Memories fade, like looking through a fogged mirror… Decisions to decisions are made and not bought, but I thought, this wouldn’t hurt a lot, I guess not.”

4. “You can’t start a fire, you can’t start a fire without a spark.”

Five questions to ponder

1. Will Kevin Durant win more NBA titles than LeBron James?

2. Will MGMT’s latest album, Congratulations, released this Tuesday, be the best album of the year?

3. Is Barcelona’s Lionel Messi the most dominant athlete in the world?

4. Whose idea was it to put an “S” in the word “lisp”?

5. Hey is that the truth or are you talking trash? Is your game M.V.P. like Steve Nash?

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YouTube Sesh: Scheyer Edition

Well, it’s time for another YouTube Sesh at the Brewhouse.

If you need a primer on the history of the YouTube Sesh, you can check here…

But here’s the short of it. Sometimes YouTube videos just need to be shared.

But before we get to the goods, we must start with a story about Jon Scheyer.

Scheyer is, of course, a senior guard at Duke. This weekend, he’ll start in the Final Four for the Blue Devils. You probably know a little bit about Scheyer. For instance, you probably know he’s a great shooter. And you might know that he started running the point for the Devils this season — at least, more than he ever had before. And you probably know that he’s been pretty good at playing the role of Duke’s fair-skinned villain.*

*Of course, it does seem like Duke has entire team of fair-skinned villains these days. And it also seems like none of them — not Scheyer, not forward Kyle Singler, not the Plumlees — has been especially good at being hateable (not a word, I know, but still). I suspect that part of that is due to the fact that Duke hasn’t won much the last four or five years, and it can be hard to hate people that lose all the time. Of course, that could all change this weekend.

Anyway, I was thinking about Scheyer this weekend, because I think he kind of represents an interesting case in how the internet has changed the sports world nowadays.

I’ll explain shortly… but first, my Scheyer story.

I can’t remember when I first heard about Scheyer. I believe it was sometime in late 2005, during the middle of the college basketball season. It could have been earlier. I suspect I ran across his name while checking the basketball recruiting scene that year. Scheyer attended Glenbrook North High School in Northbrook, Illinois, a well-to-do suburb located a short drive north of downtown Chicago*.

*So I was just trying to figure out the exact distance from Northbrook to Chicago — and I ended up having a little fun with the google machine.

Anyway, somehow, I ended up checking out Coach Krzyzewski’s wikipedia page. And somehow, I totally forgot that Coach K went to seven Final Fours in nine years. Seven! Wow. Obviously, Michigan State coach Tom Izzo has been getting a lot of love because he has somehow coaxed the Spartans to six Final Fours in the last 12 years. And that’s unbelievable. But seven in nine years?

Coach K went in 1986, 88, 89, 90, 91, 92 and 94. I could be wrong, but given the state of college basketball — one-and-dones, roster turnover, parity, — I don’t think we’ll ever see seven in nine years again. Duke, of course, had the core of Laettner and Hurley for four of those Final Fours — and Grant Hill caught the tail end of that era before leading the Devils to the Final Four again in 1994.

So I heard about this young kid named John Scheyer. He was a scoring machine in the state of Illinois, he’d led Glenbrook North to the state championship as a junior — and he’d committed to Duke.*

*Not to get off topic again. But if you want to pinpoint the day in which Illinois coach Bruce Weber lost his “elite college coach” reputation, look no further than the day that Scheyer committed to Duke. Not only was Scheyer going to high school in the state of Illinois, but his high school coach was Bruce Weber’s brother.

Really. His brother. Not a good sign when you can’t lock up your state best player… who also just happens to play for your brother.

So I knew a little bit about Jon Scheyer. But then, it happened. Scheyer went viral. The funny thing was, at the time, I’m pretty sure people didn’t even refer to anything as going viral — unless you were talking about E. Coli or the mumps or the measles.

This was 2005. The internet was huge, no doubt. But YouTube barely existed. Facebook was just a few years old — and Twitter was just a idea in the mind of some advanced-thinking techie. In short, there just weren’t many channels for something to go viral on.

Still, Scheyer managed the trick. During a high school game at the Proviso West Holiday tournament in December of 2005, Scheyer pulled off one of the most amazing feats in the history of high school basketball. With his future college coach Krzyzewski in the stands, and his team trailing 71-58 with 1:24 left, Scheyer scored 21 points in the final 74 seconds. His team would lose, but Scheyer would finish with 52 points. In the final 1:24, he hit five three-pointers and six free throws. Think about that: 21 points in 75 seconds. That’s one point ever 3.57 seconds.

So, of course, the buzz on Scheyer went national. Everybody wanted to know about this scoring machine from suburban Chicago. It helped that J.J. Redick was finishing up his prolific career at Duke the same season. The comparisons were inevitable. Both shooters, both about 6 foot 4, both, well, fair-skinned. It may have also helped that Coach K was in the stands. After all, Coach K is a Chicago native — though it’s safe to say that the neighborhood Krzyzewski grew up in looked nothing like Northbrook.

Here’s how my Scheyer story ends. I went to Chicago for spring break that year — and I just happened to be in downtown Chicago on a Thursday night. I walked into a random sandwich shop with a friend, and Duke was playing LSU in the Sweet 16. Duke was a one-seed that year. And Redick, along with Gonzaga’s Adam Morrison, were the darlings of college basketball.

You probably know that Duke lost that game. And Redick’s career ended in the Sweet 16. I remember being in the sandwich shop and watching the game on television.

CBS showed a shot of a dejected Redick walking off the court after the game. And in the background, a guy yelled out: “It’s OK, Duke. Y’all be alright. You guys got our Jon Scheyer coming in.”

For some reason, that story stayed with me — at least, enough to be able to remember it four years later.

Anyway. I’ve followed Scheyer’s career for the last four years. And I use the term “follow” loosely. His first two years at Duke weren’t great. He was a little thin — and he didn’t quite have the career that Redick did.

But here’s the larger point about the sports world: There just aren’t any surprises anymore. There aren’t any prodigies that show up out of nowhere. Jon Scheyer, a player who’ll likely play minimally in the NBA — if at all — was on the national radar at age 18.

I understand this isn’t an earth-shattering realization. After all, it is 2010. And we’re inundated with tweets and videos and links all day long. If something crazy happens in the sports world, everybody talks about it for a couple hours, then we move on to the next crazy thing.

I also understand that basketball recruits have been provoking good feelings in college basketball fans for decades. Show me a top college recruit, and I’ll show you a little hope.

Still, it does feel different these days.

In order to find “the next big thing”, we put 16-year-old baseball players on the cover of Sports Illustrated. And we rank the nation’s top 100 high school freshman basketball players. And we hear about a 13-year-old soccer prodigy who turns out to be mediocre.

This isn’t a new phenomenon. But we’ve never seen it on this scale.

If somebody like Scheyer can go viral four years ago — before “going viral” even really existed, imagine the buzz his epic high school performance would stir today.

I’m not sure if that all makes much sense. But whatever.

Still… Scheyer’s performance is still pretty unbelievable. Enjoy.

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