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June 10, 2012

Ketch's 10 Thoughts From The Weekend

No. 1 - Scattershooting on the world of Longhorn football…

… There weren't any commitments on Sunday, but everyone should watch the recruitment of Katy Seven Lakes offensive lineman Caleb Benenoch pretty closely for the next few days because the Longhorns rolled out the red carpet for the Michigan State commitment on Sunday and he left town in full code of silence mode. After working out at both guard and tackle on Sunday, Texas assistant coach Stacy Searels had a chance to see what he'd be working with under his own supervision, so it's safe to assume that an offer would mean that Searels thinks he's a guy that can be an eventual impact player.

… Physically, Benenoch reminds me of Derrick Dockery. He's still very raw, but you can see that he has a four-star type upside as an interior lineman.

… If you've never seen Benenoch in action, click here for his junior highlight reel.

… One of the stars on Sunday was without question Beaumont Ozen cornerback Tony Brown, who arrived in town with a host of offers that includes Alabama, LSU, Nebraska, TCU and Texas A&M, and there can be zero doubts that he's surged to the top of the DB priority list in a crowded 2014 class. Heck, not only did he perform like a star, but the fact that he showed up to do it in front of the Longhorn staff had to really catch the coaches' attention.

… With no Cedric Collins, Darion Johnson, Nick Watkins or Nick Harvey in attendance, the number of 2014 difference makers on hand from the extremely talented DB class in Texas was a little disappointing. There's no way to get around that. Even with Chris Hardeman on hand, you can make a case that six of the state's top eight or nine defensive backs for the 2014 class were not on hand and have not camped at Texas this summer.

… On the other hand, getting Mount Pleasant wide receiver K.D. Cannon on campus was a positive step in the development of a player that wasn't listing Texas very much just a few weeks ago. Word of a 4.40 40-yard dash gives you an idea of his raw speed at such a young age.

… I wouldn't trip out at all over the Torrodney Prevot no-show on Sunday. You'd love to have had him in town for the camp, but since he hasn't been camping anywhere else, there's no real slight to worry about. Frankly, if he wants to tone down the pressure that sits squarely on his shoulders as he tries to make a decision, passing on the camps is a good way of doing so. With his options, he doesn't have to automatically dance when told to right now.

… The Longhorns need to hunker down and get into grind mode in their battle for A'Shawn Robinson. He is the defensive tackle class for 2013 at this point and the drop down in-state with Justin Manning not a serious option is pretty significant.

… The writing seems to be on the wall with Livingston defensive back Chevoski Collins. There was already some question about whether his offer was still on the table following the commitment of Cibolo Steele safety Eric Huhn, but his inability to make it to the UT camp this weekend has historically been a death-blow because Mack really wants kids who are going to be in this class to be at the camp. Perhaps the Longhorns will remain in the hunt, but the smart money right now would have Collins on the outside looking in when this class signs in February.

… The loss of Robbie Rhodes to Baylor was a definite sting in that it registers as a true head-to-head win over the Longhorn staff for Art Briles. Yes, the Bears have been on Rhodes longer than the Longhorns and Briles had taken the recruitment of Rhodes quite personally, but that doesn't mean that the Longhorns can completely dismiss the loss with closed eyes. Once upon a time, Texas could show up on any Baylor commitment's door-step, make an offer and the rest would be Longhorn history, but it's not quite that simple any more. With a need for a dynamic playmaker like Rhodes, especially in light of the Ricky Seals-Jones de-commitment, it's not like you can simply chalk it up to a stacked depth chart. Yes, it's only one loss, but it's the type of loss that never used to happen a couple of years ago.

… Devin Lauderdale, I'm telling you. Someone pitch the idea to someone on the staff so it doesn't sound like my idea.

… You have to love Jake Raulerson. The kid shows up two straight weeks so that he can work out at different positions for a full day. That's the kind of competitor you need throughout your program.

... 81 days and some change until the season-opener.

No. 2 - Thoughts on The Association (NBA Finals Variety)…

THIS. IS. BIG.

LeBron vs. KD. MVP vs. MVP Runner-up. The past vs. the present vs. the future.

It's the NBA Finals we've been waiting two decades for. Not since Michael and Magic mixed it up on the finals in what seems like a lifetime ago have we seen a match-up with this kind of superstar firepower matching off with so much on the line. This is about a championship for sure, but this is also about so much more.

It's about legacies. It's about the mantle of No. 1 basketball player in the world. It's possibly about taking the lead in what could emerge as the Bird/Magic era of a new millennium. Think that's hyperbole? Consider that the Eastern Conference Finals broke cable records left and right in the final games of that series.

People are eating up the NBA right now and they've just been delivered the most delicious possible meal on the menu. I'm not sure when the stakes in the league have ever been higher.

For Kevin Durant, the opportunity in front of him cannot be overstated. The sport will be at his knees if he closes the deal with four more wins over the Heat. Meanwhile, the referendum on LeBron ends with a win over the young OKC superstar.

If I hadn't made it clear by now… THIS. IS. BIG. I can't wait.

A few more things…

… The pace of this series should be insane. When these two teams got together in the regular-season, it felt like we were watching 48 minutes of 4X100-meter relay action. If they put together a One Shining Moment for this series, it might last a full 10 minutes.

… For reference sake, the two teams split the season-series this year, both winning on their home floors. OKC won the first game 103-87 and Miami won part two 98-93. LeBron averaged 25.5, 5.0 rebounds, 8.5 assists and 3.0 steals. Durant averaged 29.0, 6.5 rebounds, 5.5 assists, 1.5 blocks and 1.0 steals. Wade averaged 20.5, 3.5 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 2.9 blocks and 3.0 steals. Westbrook averaged 20.5, 3.5 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 3.0 steals.

… Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins were great in game one and putrid in game two.

… That second game was a close affair and as poorly as the Thunder played that night, it still took 10 threes and 26-of-29 shooting from the free throw line for the Heat to pull it out.

… I'll be at game one in OKC as a guest of Yahoo.

… Give me the Thunder in six.

No. 3 - Thoughts on The Association (Eastern Conference Variety)…

Say what you want about The Decision, say what you want about the silly "not one, not two, not three…" pep rally and say pretty much whatever you want to about anything that has happened in the first half of his NBA career.

Just make sure when you talk about the 2012 Eastern Conference finals that you say the truth: the seven-game performance given by LeBron James was one of the best in the history of the game by any player in any year.

For those keeping at score, we're talking 33.6 points per game, 11.0 boards and 3.9 assists per game. We're talking about a defensive effort that intimidated the entire Celtics team, save Kevin Garnett. James never tallied less than 25 points in a single game.

Again, say whatever you want about the things that LeBron has never done, just make sure to acknowledge the things he has done because for two straight high-wire, ultra-intense weeks of playoff basketball, LeBron gave us performances for all-time.

And now he meets head on with Kevin Durant and the Thunder in an NBA Finals match-up for the ages. The past, present and future all colliding at once.

Get your popcorn ready.

A few other thoughts from game seven:

... Eight of the 10 starters on the floor played at least 38 minutes. When push came to shove, the Heat went with a six-man rotation and left it at that.

… Chris Bosh was the difference in that game, which makes it probably fitting that the Heat beat the Celtics when the dust settled. Every single one of those three-point shots he hit felt like a back-breaker when they occurred. The fact that he was three of four from downtown means that fate definitely favored the Heat on this night.

… Doc Rivers tried to push his horse hard to the finish line, but there just wasn't enough energy to hold off the younger, faster, more physically imposing thoroughbred.

… Dwyane Wade shot 40 percent from the floor in the series and the Heat were still able to survive. Yet another feather in LeBron's cap.

… I need to apologize to Joey Crawford. He was essentially a non-factor on Saturday night when I was convinced he had been called in to be the hammer if needed. Not on this night. Nice work, Joey.

… Rajon Rondo was mostly sensational in game seven with 22 points, 10 rebounds and 14 assists, but his tentativeness on the offensive end cost the Celtics dearly. Whether it was the presence of LeBron on the floor or him not wanting to miss, he passed up a lot of good looks near the rim that were better shots than whatever he passed off for.

… I'm not tripping at all because Rondo and Kevin Garnett didn't stick around and shake hands. That was a two-week sports war that they lost and if they wanted weren't quite ready to turn off the warrior mode inside of them, I'm not going to hold it against them. I'd rather them go ahead and do that than fake it in the immediate aftermath for the sake of our belief as fans that they have to. It reminds me of that scene in Inglorious Basterds when Col. Hans Landa screams to Lt. Aldo Raine that he'll be shot for shooting a Nazi after he had surrendered. "Nah, I don't think so. More like chewed out. I've been chewed out before," Raine replied. Those two have been chewed out before and had bad things said about them. I'm sure they can live with whatever anyone thinks of them.

… R.I.P. old Celtics. You guys had a really good run.

No. 4 - The night that boxing died a little in my heart…

I'll be the first to admit that over the years, I've always been a boxing-first, MMA-second kind-of-a-guy. As a kid growing up, I was hypnotized by the talents of Sugar Ray Leonard, Marvin Hagler, Thomas Hearns and Mike Tyson, among others. Even with the rise of a superior product in the world of UFC, I've always been a boxing guy. Given the choice of an elite boxing or MMA pay-per-view event, I would have always taken boxing nine times out of 10.

Not any more. Not after being one of those guys that shelled out money out of his own pocket to watch the fight. Not as one of those that came way absolutely disgusted with a fight verdict that rewarded an out-classed fighter that was so overwhelmed over the course of 12 rounds of fighting that I had to hold back sleepy-time in a serious way to make it to the end.

Let's get the obvious discussion out of the way … Manny Pacquiao beat Timothy Bradley on Saturday night. He beat him bad enough that he was forced to show up at the post-fight press conference following the biggest win of his career in a wheel chair . He beat him bad enough that Bradley's wife ended up looking like Mary Anne Creed during the Drago fight on several occasions. In fact, he beat him badly enough that Bradley couldn't even explain how he won after the fight.

The one thing that he could tell us after the fight was that there would be a re-match on November 10 and that we could all shell out a ton of money to watch it all again. To prove it, posters hyping the re-match were ready to go almost as soon the fight ended, as if someone had the good foresight to know they would be needed.

So, what is it that I truly believe? Three things.

1. The fight was fixed.
2. The fight was fixed so that we would have a re-match that would generate twice as much money as the first one.
3. It's not an accident that this happened with both fighters married to the same promoter.

Part of me thinks that the fighters were in on the gig as well when you consider Bradley hyped the rematch immediately, Pacquiao didn't complain and Bob Arum was asking us to believe that he was offended by it all … while counting the dollars.

"This is a death knell for boxing, and I'm going to make a ton of money on the rematch," Arum said.

Yes, Bob, you are. But, not from me. What exactly would I be buying? A chance to see Pac-Man beat the hell out of Bradley in an act of revenge? No, I already witnessed Bradley take a beating and lose 10 rounds to two. Frankly, I just don't need that again. If I'm going to pay $50 for a rematch, it better have Dos Santos/Velasquez attached to it.

So, I'm out. Boxing can have its rematch, but I simply will not allow myself to be played the fool twice.

Signed,
Formerly a Boxing Guy

No. 5 - Mindless nothingness from the world of MLB…

I pretty much hate pro baseball right now. That's all I got.

No.6 - Six Random thoughts from the sports world …

1. Right on for Maria Sharapova. Once upon a time, she was this red-hot (in every way) tennis comet that seemed to burn out before she could ever truly know greatness after the injury demons had their way with her. But, there she was on Saturday, nearly eight years after he first major win at Wimbledon, finishing off the career-major cycle and regaining her place as the No. 1 woman in tennis. Among all of the stories talked about this weekend, her becoming the 10th woman in history to win all four majors might have been the most underappreciated achievement of them all. And she's still fine on top of all that.

2. There was a Belmont Stakes race on Saturday, so I'm told.

3. I cannot be the only one that is convinced that the L.A. Kings are going to blow a 3-0 lead in the Stanley Cup finals and when it's all over, the blame will sit squarely on the shoulders of Grantland.com writer Bill Simmons. If you've missed Bill the Butcher's work this spring, let me fill you in. First, he wrote about the Clippers … and jinxed them. Then he lavished praise on the Spurs … and jinxed them. Last week, he seemingly tried to create an anti-jinx article by acknowledging jinxes in his beautifully written piece about his daughter's love for the Kings . All I can say is stay away from writing about how great Durant is for a few weeks.

4. If you haven't read Simmons' article about going to game five of the Stanley Cup Finals with his young daughter , do yourself a favor and knock it out today. It will connect.

5. It's going down in Paris on Monday morning. After taking the first two sets and a break in the third from Novak Djokovic, Rafa Nadal seemed oh so close to finishing off his nemesis, but then the rains came and the Joker took eight straight games from him. I don't know what to think at this point, but I'll be rising early to see the conclusion of this match and the history that is made either way. If Rafa can't beat the Joker now, then when?

6. Lost I the aftermath of the highway robbery that took place in the main event of the boxing pay-per-view is the fact that the overall card continued to disappoint when compared to its UFC counter-part. The overall product just isn't as good, and the delay we were all forced to endure while Pac-man stretched his calves was just brutal. Maybe the judges punished him for that mess.

No. 7 - They said what…

A look at the 10 most memorable Tweets/sequence of Tweets from the last week on my timeline.

1. "BREAKING: No Response to Craigslist Ad for No. 2 Job at Al-Qaeda"
@BorowitzReport

2. "Our Top story Tonight - Garbage Men: Are They Just Huge Raccoons"
@CNNNewsUSA (CNN satire account)

3. "Sometimes I'll think, "How sad for Canada that Bryan Adams is their Springsteen," but then I remember I don't have health insurance"
‏@kaseyanderson

4. The @OhNoSheTwitnt Division (best female follow on Twitter)

"Why didn't Scrooge McDuck have a 4th nephew named Jewwy who loved money just like him? Way to drop the ball on your anti-Semitism, Walt."

Training an 18 year old boy all day today. No music, no internet. If I don't make it, please avenge my death."

"You'd be surprised at how much you can shove in a box."-sentence referring to packing up dishes that made me laugh for 10 minutes.

"Thought I just saw a prostitute but nope, just a high school girl."

5. @KingJames Good effort tonight! Good job!!!
@goodjobkid (this parody account popped up within minutes of the end of game five in Miami)

6. Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals Division

"Tony Parker makes love to Pressure, too. Which is among the reasons he's divorced."
@espn_macmahon

"Tiago will, but it will be ticking. RT @richsullivan: I don't think many people get Christmas cards from Gregg Popovich"
@HPbasketball

"If it comes down to it and the Spurs are going to lose, I hope Tim Duncan punches Joey Crawford in the face."
@russbengtson

7. "LeBron's headband is the most ridiculous thing I've ever seen. We've all seen your hairline, dude."
‏ @DanWolken

8. "Can we retire Ludacris and T-Payne? Please. All I do is cringe."
@CoachApplewhite

9. Please support @FloydMayweather. Send him a letter: ID# 01363917, Clark County Detention Ctr, 330 S Casino Center Blvd, Las Vegas, NV 89101
@MikeTyson

10. "Pac won the fight. Bradley won the decision. Aurum won another payday. Boxing lost its integrity and the fans lost confidence."
@LennoxLewis

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

… Movie Trailer of the week: Django Unchained

… WTF Headline of the weekend: 'Fear Factor' Donkey Semen Stunt Airs On Danish Television

… DECLARATION: Winnie Cooper is waaaaaay out of Kevin Arnold's league.

… OF ALL PLACES: D'Angelo returns to the U.S. for a live show for the first time in 12 years.

… Remember When : There was a time when seeing Madonna's boob would excite you?

No. 9 - The List: Snoop Dogg

I'll never forget November 23, 1993 for several reasons:

a. Snoop Doggy Dogg's Doggystyle dropped at the record stores.
b. I was the first from McCallum High School to own it, as I left my newspaper class to make sure that I was at the store when it opened to get the first copy.
c. I billed my copy of the tape to the A.I.S.D. in the name of reviewing it for the newspaper.
d. After listening to it just once, the tape spent the rest of the day being passed around between McCallum basketball players, from freshmen to varsity members.

Therefore, it goes without saying that when I saw Snoop in concert on Thursday for the first time, it was the spark that lit the match for quite a few trips down memory lane. So, it is with absolute pleasure that I can report that the concert at Stubbs hit all of the right notes and this week's list occurred in a perfectly organic place.

Let's get on with it.

9. Lodi Dodi
8. Drop it Like its Hot
7. Who Am I (What's My Name)
6. Gin and Juice
5. Murder Was the Case
4. 2 of Amerikaz Most Wanted
3. G'z and Hustlas
2. Ain't Nothing But a G thang
1. Deep Cover

Previous Lists: 2-Pac, Beastie Boys, Biggie Smalls, Boyz II Men, Chuck BrownJeff Buckley, Cartoon themes, Eva Cassidy,Phil Collins, Sam Cooke, Joe Ely, Al Green, Guns N' Roses, Hall and Oats, HBO Shows, Whitney Houston, Kool and the Gang, Metallica, George Michael, Mo-Town, Bill Murray, Willie Nelson, Prince. Queen, Scarface, Sexiest Women of All-Time, Gary Stewart , George Strait, TV Themes, Stevie Ray Vaughan

No. 10 - And finally…

Last week, I wrote about the great impact that my Aunt Helen had on my life, both as a sports fan and in the overall scheme of live. After 2 1/2 months of battle, she lost her bout with pancreatic cancer on Saturday afternoon.

R.I.P. to the most impactful aunt in my life I've ever known.


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