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April 2, 2012

Ketch's 10 Thoughts From The Weekend

No. 1 - Scattershooting on the Longhorns after the spring game…

… I'd love to see the Mack Brown juice this thing up next year. Let each coordinator get his choice of players in a draft that can be viewed on the Longhorn Network (just the top 10 picks) and add in some rules that protects the competiveness of the game, but allows for some genuine interest in the final half of the scrimmage. The crowd was ready to really cheer on a great event, but it's hard to get excited and follow the scoreboard when you don't know how and why the teams are separated. At one point, I was convinced they gave one color one of the touchdowns just to make the scoreboard look more interesting. Things can be done to solve that.

… I sure would have liked to have seen David Ash showcased a little more. Perhaps it was all a twist of fate that left Case McCoy with a more challenging set of quarterback tests, but there wasn't a lot there for Ash to do. I would have thought they would have put a few balls on a tee for their young sophomore that could use every ounce of confidence he can get.

… Nothing happened in the game that is going to want to rush McCoy onto the field ahead of Ash. There are just too many passes thrown up for grabs. It really is feast or famine with McCoy when he throws the ball and that has to change. It doesn't have to be either on every pass.

… The only thing the offense is missing is the ground game is speed and burst Johnathan Gray will provide in the fall. He's the missing piece.

… The more and more I watch Jeremy Hills, the more I like him. I just don't know what he does that's great rather than very good. I take that back, he competes as hard as anyone on the team when the ball is in his hands. I just wonder if the fact that Gray brings more big-play pop to the field is going to leave Hills as the odd man out. It's a hell of a problem to have.

… If I had a soap-box, I'd be screaming about my guy D.J. Monroe. What else can I say? It is what it is. Dude is lightening in a bottle and a big play waiting to happen. If only he could get more touches…

… MJ McFarland made an impression on me.

… I don't know where the offensive line is going to get a seventh or eighth player that it could count on if there was an injury or two, but someone needs to step up between now and the fall.

… Texas needs Brandon Moore to spend some time with Casey Hampton this summer. That cat has a chance to be a force with better conditioning and technique.

… I wonder if Manny Diaz will find a way to get Alex Okafor, Jackson Jeffcoat and Reggie Wilson together on the field at the same time on passing downs. Those three, along with Desmond Jackson, will get after the passer.

… Will Russ looked like a guy that had punting and kickoffs on lockdown. That leaves place-kicking as the major challenge that needs an answer by September.

… Josh Turner looks like he's ahead for the No. 3 cornerback spot and Mykkele Thompson looks like the No. 3 safety, although Sheroid Evans, Duke Thomas and maybe even Leroy Scott are not far behind. Duane Akina has a lot of clay to mold.

… Nothing that happened today is going to hold off those true freshmen receivers that will arrive in August. At least one of those guys will move ahead of the still-waiting-to-develop older guys.

… DeMarco Cobbs seems like an explosive big play waiting to happen on defense. Stay healthy, young man.

… It takes a different kind of fan to sit out there for the second half of the spring game. That was pure devotion.

No. 2 - Back to the drawing board…

If we learned anything this weekend about the Longhorn baseball team, it's that nobody should be getting ahead of themselves. Not this year and not with this team.

The Longhorns lost two of three this weekend to a decent Cal squad, which isn't a reason to signal the panic alarms, but it is a reminder that this isn't a great team. Instead, it's a gritty, scrappy, pretty good little team that's getting better.

Reservations for Omaha shouldn't be made just yet.

The biggest thing this teams is needing is for some starting pitching to establish itself as something that can be leaned on in conference play. The combined line score of the Saturday (Parker French) and Sunday (Ricky Jacquez) starters this weekend was 7.2 IP, 14 H, 11 R, 5 ER, 1 BB and 7 K. Neither guy was awful, but neither was a plus-player, either.

The pitching has to improve. The good news is that the bats produced 20 runs and 35 hits this weekend, so they keep producing. The bad news is that Baylor swept another series this weekend and suddenly sits at 9-0 in conference play.

If the Big 12 remains a goal, the margin of error is going to be slight from here on out.

p.s. 25 days until the final baseball series scheduled against Texas A&M.

No.3 - A whole mess of college basketball…

… Sonofagun, Kansas made it to the championship game. I gotta say… emphatically… that I did not see that coming when the Tournament started three weeks ago. I just didn't think the Jayhawks had that kind of run in them after watching them play numerous times this season. I don't know that I can put my finger on it, although perhaps I should have learned my lesson in that second half against Missouri in Lawrence, but I just didn't think they had "it." Yeah, I was wrong. This team isn't the best Kansas team that Bill Self has had, but here they are anyways… full of guts, bravado and zero fear of the moment. It looked like Ohio State had them on the ropes and I was wondering if the ref might step in, but then the Jayhawks flipped their hat backwards like Lincoln Hawk and went over the top on the Buckeyes. Tip of the cap to the Jayhawks. Seriously.

… Speaking of tipping caps, ahem… Bill Self… take a bow. When we first saw Kansas in November I'm not sure that any of us thought this team had Final Four written all over it, but Self has transformed this team into a unit that won't break, no matter how many times it is bending on the verge of it. It's one of the best coaching jobs in major college basketball that we've seen in years. He's moved himself into a different stratosphere as a coach after this season's work.

… Thad Motta can coach some basketball, but it felt like a case of student versus master in the second half of that game. Don't feel bad, Thad. He taught the same class to Roy Williams a week ago.

… I don't know what happened in those final 2+ seconds, but Ohio State just quit. Like it didn't even understand what was going on. It was a stunning end to a game like that.

… Worst. Missed. Intentional. Free. Throw. Ever.

… Ohio State needed a lot more from Jared Sullinger than it received.

… Jeff Withey is the Serge Ibaka of college basketball.

… I have a sneaking suspicion that we see the good Tyshawn Taylor on Monday night. He seems due for a huge game after a mostly throwaway offensive performance on Saturday.

… Man, Kentucky is so good. It didn't even play that well against Louisville in a lot of ways and it still was clearly a notch above a Louisville team that has been outlasting a lot of folks lately. If the Wildcats put down the Jayhawks on Monday, they'll be in pretty rarefied air when we talk about the best college basketball teams of the last 25 years.

… Anthony Davis is the Anthony Davis of college basketball. Marcus Camby with offensive game? I guess. All I know is that dude can hoop in a big-time impressive way.

… It's good to know that Terrence Jones has a heart. May I suggest daisies. I'm pretty sure everyone loves daisies.

… Michael Kidd-Gilchrist feels due for a big game on Monday.

… Kentucky 71 Kansas 61

No.4 - Only one thing matters in women's college hoops …

From now on, every time some misinformed person takes the tremendous recruiting skills of Mack Brown lightly in some form of conversation, remind them of the cautionary tale that has become the Texas women's basketball program, also formerly known as the Lady Longhorns.

Heck yes, recruiting matters. As many advantages as the University of Texas has going for it, it's not add water, instant powerhouse when it comes to college basketball. You have to be able to work living rooms and high school gyms like a master salesperson and anything less than a (to borrow a phrase from our friends at the Dixie Chicken) snakeoil salesman will leave you combing through the tier-two of prospects in a sport that is dominated by tier-one players.

You don't have a Brittany Griner? You lose. Don't have a Courtney Paris? You lose. Don't have two or three of those on the same team? You will eventually lose.

The Longhorns hired an Olympic-good Coach G. and learned the lessons of talent mattering more than coaching in a hard way. Coach G. and her staff couldn't talk that talk in the state of Texas compared to her competition and the program floundered in competitive purgatory the last five years.

It's like trying to beat Batman without any cool toys.

So, here we are in 2012 and Chris Plonsky has a problem on her hands. She can't really go outside of the state to get an outsider without serious Texas ties or she runs the risk of repeating the Coach G. disaster and there apparently aren't many big-dog in-state candidates that the Longhorns appear willing to contact.

Which seems to have left Karen Aston as THE candidate, as in the only one interviewed and seriously considered (at least to the naked eye) by Plonsky in this process. I'm not going to pretend to know enough about the women's college hoops game to suggest I have a working list of better candidates that would take the job. I don't know if Aston is the right choice or not, although people I've spoken with that know her describe her in glowing terms (Chad Hastings apparently thinks the world of her after having done women's play-by-play for a while).

All I know is that UT is supposed to be the Jones' with a bankroll to match China and a city that everyone wants to live in. The Longhorns are supposed to make up any dream list of candidates that they want and they are supposed to be able to get what they want. Isn't that the point of being wealthy in the first place?

I guess the Longhorns might be the Jones' in some worlds, but not in women's college basketball because they didn't hire someone with all of their muscle and money that they know can do the job. In fact, things are so sketchy that I'm not sure they even know anyone that they can 100 percent certain about, so they've had to hire someone they hope can do the job. Of course, they felt like they knew Coach G. could do the job.

Knowing these days can be a tricky task it seems.

In the recruiting world, we call those that come out of nowhere with little fanfare "sleepers." The Longhorns have a bit of a sleeper as their new coach and Plonsky is gambling big on her ability to recruit non-sleepers in the hire.

No. 5 - Five things on the NFL

1. New Dallas Cowboys cornerback Brandon Carr is either about to become my new favorite player or he's going to be the opposite of that because he absolutely laid down the gauntlet as it relates to New York Giants one-hit wonder Victor Cruz. All I know is I'm tired of that team punking the Cowboys and I'm even more tired of the Cowboys talking to the media about what they are going to do to the Giants, only to get punked hard by the G-Men. Please Brandon, don't become Patrick Crayton.

2. Apparently, the Jets are going to make an attempt to "limit" some of Tim Tebow's outside endeavors . Yeah, good luck with that. Oh Rex, you've seen this , right? The Post is going to have a field day with that next weekend.

3. If Ryan Tannehill is drafted in the top 10 of this upcoming draft, it'll be a true sign of the worth NFL teams suddenly see in being able to find a quarterback in the draft in this new era of contained draft contracts. Teams used to live in fear at missing on quarterbacks in the draft because of the financial cost, but we've already seen teams that took first-round picks at the position in 2010 show very little fear in cutting the chord if an answer becomes available. If you hit on the position in the draft, you're pretty much set at the most important position in the sport at a fraction of the cost that it takes to get any kind of established quality veteran.

4. I hope Bill Parcells takes the Saints job just because it seems 1,000 percent more interesting than just about anything else they could possibly do.

5. It's Monday. I fully expect the NFL to have a story that steals the attention away from the national title game.

No. 6 - Thoughts from The Association …

a. Avery Bradley has turned into a really nice young NBA player. He's a clear building block for the future of that Boston team.

b. Speaking of the Celtics, I never thought they'd catch the Sixers, but my boys are suddenly in the chase position. The team that beat the Heat on Sunday can produce a scare or two in the playoffs.

c. Feels like the Bulls wouldn't last six games with the Thunder if they met in the finals, even if Derrick Rose was available. Maybe it's an overreaction, but those two teams' talent levels didn't feel similar on Sunday.

d. Pretty good last week or so by the Thunder: Beat Miami by 16, Portland on the road by 14, the Lakers on the road by 9 and the Bulls at home by 14. Suddenly, the boys from OKC are tied with the Bulls with the best record in the NBA. Keep an eye on that.

e. There's a good chance that when this season is over, the Rockets will look back at their pursuit of a playoff spot and view Sunday's overtime loss to the Pacers as a gut-ripping loss.

f. Dunk of the weekend: J.J. Hickson says "hey, howdy, gig'em, whoop" on DeAndre Jordan's face

g. Kevin Garnett has officially replaced Ric Flair as the dirtiest player in the game. I can't decide if that's tough, old man game or flat out punk play.

h. The MVP race shouldn't be over by any stretch. Yet I'm afraid too many people are ready to just hand over the award based on numbers, but I have a hard time putting LeBron over KD because of the fact that he's run from late-game big moments all year, while KD has thrived in them. The numbers are close enough that those things ought to matter.

i. MVP watch

1. Kevin Durant (27.7 ppg/.501 FG%/.376 3PT%/.848 FT%/8.1 RPG/3.5 APG/40-12 record)
2. LeBron James (26.5 ppg/.535 FG%/.355 3PT%/.765 FT%/8.2 RPG/6.6 APG/37-14 record)
3. Kevin Love (26.5 ppg/.451 FG%/.388 3PT%/.819 FT%/13.8 RPG/2.0 APG/25-28 record)
4. Chris Paul (19.6 ppg/.490 FG%/.381 3PT%/.855 FT%/3.4 RPG/8.8 APG/31-21 record)
5. Tony Parker (19.3 ppg/.474 FG%/.264 3PT%/.794 FT%/2.9 RPG/8.0 APG/36-14 record)

i. Ketch's weekly NBA Power Poll

1. Oklahoma City
2. Chicago
3. Miami
4. San Antonio
5. L.A. Lakers
6. Orlando
7. LA Clippers
8. Memphis
9. Dallas
10. Boston

No.7 - That's what he said…

A look at my 10 favorite Tweets from the last week.

1. @MockingTheDraft
I'm excited to buy Tim Tebow a thesaurus.

2. @Jpullz0
Bruce Webber didn't think I was good enough to play at Illinois and I don't think he is good enough to coach at Kansas State

3. @sbnation
Al Gore is trending. Because Jose Canseco thinks he's dead. So this is what rock bottom feels like.

4. @FAMMofATX
When lebron decides to make the grown man decision and let go n cut that hair, a ring jus may come..

5. @corey_erdman: I guarantee that guy who bought the WrestleMania 28 baseball jersey in the fourth row has never had sex in his life.

6. @bomani_jones
i spend way too much time in life looking for my keys.

7. @JeffPassan
"What does this make the Yankees worth?" one executive asked this morning. "A kazillion dollars?"

8. @the_ironsheik
The Tim Tebow thank the Jesus to be sit on the bench for the new york city

9. @ClaireWheelan
Big Show is super sexy #WrestleMania

10. @danrafaelespn
20-0!!!! #Undertaker with the epic Tombstone and the clean pin over #TripleH!!! SENSATIONAL match!!! Monies worth right there! #WrestleMania

No.8 - Pop goes the culture because the culture goes pop.…

… They call it love: Jerry Lee Lewis gets married for a seventh time … this time to his cousin's ex-wife. Yes, goodness gracious, great balls of fire.

… Roll call: who is excited about the new The Avengers movie that's coming out?

… WTF Headline of the Weekend: 'Twins' Sequel 'Triplets' in the Works for Arnold, DeVito...and Eddie Murphy (Exclusive)

… DECLARATION: Stacy Keibler might be the sexiest woman of all-time.

… DECLARATION II: I heart Emma Stone.

… Taylor Swift cleans up very nicely.

… One last hottie: Have there ever been nicer legs on American Idol?.

No.9 - The List: Boyz II Men

On Friday, we had one of the biggest guests in the four-year history of "The Drive" when Boyz II Men singer Nathan Morris joined us to discuss the group's appearance in Austin this weekend, as well as a number of other topics, including his love for the San Francisco 49ers. Yeah, the guy who helped produce Motownphilly is a 49ers fan?

Weird.

Signed,
Phillies fan in Austin

Anyways, there's nobody else we could rank this weekend. It could only be the group that is arguably the greatest R&B group of all-time if No.1 hits and selling records mean anything at all. .

9. Misty Blue (cover)
8. Water Runs Dry
7. I'll Make Love to You
6. On Bended Knee
5. Lonely Heart
4. Motownphilly
3. It's so hard to say goodbye to yesterday
2. Please Don't Go
1. End of the Road

Previous Lists: 2-Pac, Biggie Smalls, Jeff Buckley, Cartoon themes, Eva Cassidy,Phil Collins, Sam Cooke, Joe Ely, Hall and Oats, HBO Shows, Whitney Houston, Kool and the Gang, George Michael, Mo-Town, Bill Murray, Scarface, Sexiest Women of All-Time, Gary Stewart , George Strait, TV Themes

No.10 - And finally…

Boom goes the dynamite. Game of Thrones debuted on Sunday night and it's pretty clear that this season is going to be organized HBO chaos. I can't even keep track of all the guys claiming to be king.

Things that stood out?

a. Tyrion is well on his way to another Golden Globe. He's teaching a master's class as a character owning the screen. I want there to be a series spin-off with his life featured.

b. Joffrey reminds me of Anthony Michael Hall at the midway point of Johnny Be Good. That kid is out of control. One of these days he's going to get a butt-kicking and we will enjoy it immensely.

c. You know his mom enjoyed the slap as much as she enjoys getting down with Jaime.

d. I'm looking forward to a direwolf messing someone up bad in the coming episodes.

e. It looks like it's going to be a long, grueling, lost season for Daenerys and her dragons. They are a long way from the battle.


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