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Archive for June, 2008

Wimbledon: Heading To A Williams Sisters Final?

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Venus and Serena

Is this what were heading for in the women’s side of the Wimbledon draw? Judging by the way these two have played, it certainly looks that way. While the top-ranked women players are sitting at home watching the matches from home, the Williams sisters continue to slice their way through the remaining players and it definitely looks like these two will be meeting in Saturday’s women’s singles championship game.

Consider this, currently, Ana Ivanovic, Maria Sharapova, Jelena Jankovic, and Svetlana Kuznetsova — the top four ranked women players in the world — are no longer in the tournament. The highest remaining seed is Elena Dementieva, who holds the world’s fifth spot.

However, the stage is set for the Williams sisters to meet in the final as they stand on opposite sides of the Wimbledon bracket. In Serena’s side, she’ll have to get through the likes of Tamarine Tanasugarn and the aformentioned Dementieva. On the other side of the bracket, the sixth-ranked Venus will need to dispense with players like Agnieszka Radwanska (who beat Kuznetsova) to face her sister in the finals.

The presence of the Williams sisters is fitting, especially at Wimbledon. The sibling duo has won six of the last eight Wimbledon singles titles.

On the men’s side of the draw, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal continued their march towards a Wimbledon final rematch. Both advanced to quarterfinals this afternoon and if they continue winning, will face each other in the Wimbledon finals on Sunday.

Olympic Trials: More Records Fall

Natalie Coughlin

You can say this about Natalie Coughlin — she is certainly proud of the world records she’s broken. So much so that if you break hers during the US Swim Team trials, she might just break yours in return.

Just ask Hayley McGregory.

In a preliminary race for the 100 Meter backstroke qualification, McGregory broke Coughlin’s record by swimming a 59.15. Coughlin’s previous record was 59.21. In the very next heat, Coughlin decided she wanted to reclaim the record and did so by smashing McGregory’s time with a time of 59.03. While McGregory broke Coughlin’s record by .06 seconds, the five-time gold medal winner shattered the new, temporary mark by .12 seconds.

I guess it’s safe to say the gauntlet has been thrown down by the previous and current world record holder. As for all these swimming world records that have been falling recently, some claim the new Speedo swimsuit is to credit. Others, however, blame performance enhancing drugs and not the state-of-the-art Speedos.

More On Chris Douglas-Roberts

CDR

On Friday, I wrote a post intimating a lot of NBA teams missed out on drafting Chris Douglas-Roberts, a would-be senior guard for the University of Memphis (he left as a junior). Well, apparently, there was a reason these teams passed on CDR — he didn’t appear at many of the individually workout sessions for any of the interested teams drafting later in the first round, including the Detroit Pistons.

According to FanHouse, Roberts skipped his workout in Detroit and when he did perform for other teams, the results weren’t necessarily stellar:

but given how far CDR fell from his projected first round draft spot (most mocks had him in the 20-25-ish range), it’s likely that many other teams shared these feelings. Plus, the few teams that CDR did decide to work out for had less than glowing reviews. The biggest knock on him was that he wore down near the end of the workouts, and that he wouldn’t be ready to contribute big minutes in his first NBA season. You would think a player would go through as many workouts as he could to dispel those negative perceptions, but obviously CDR (or his people) didn’t feel it was necessary.

Which brings up a great point — if you are worried about your draft position slipping and there are already negative perceptions concerning the workouts you did do, I don’t think skipping out on the other ones is the best way to improve your NBA Draft stock. Because of CDR’s (lack of) effort, he now finds himself with no guaranteed money while fighting for a spot to make the New Jersey Nets roster.

Maybe CDR’s slip can serve as a lesson to other players who may be falling out of the guaranteed money first round.

Summer Olympics: There Will Be Records Broken

Tyson Gay

While his record wasn’t official (too much wind), Tyson Gay announced to the rest of the world if they want to beat him in the 100-meters dash in Beijing, they are going to have to bring their best. During the US Olympic qualifying heat, Tyson Gay — or Tyson Homosexual, depending on your filter — ran a blistering 9.68, faster than Usain Bolt’s 9.72 seconds record time; however, there was too much of a tailwind and Gay’s time was not entered into the books.

Wind or no, it does not diminish the quality of Gay’s run, as you can see below:

Speaking of the current world-record holder, Usain Bolt also qualified for his national team by beating Asafa Powell in the Jamaican Nationals:

This sets the stage for an intriguing showdown in Beijing. Much will be made about the Bolt/Gay match-up but it would be unwise to forget about the aforementioned Powell. If either Gay or Bolt falter, Powell will be in a position to break the finish line tape.

In other record-breaking news, the US Swim Team is also looking strong as Michael Phelps and Katie Hoff each broke records in the 400 meter individual medley. I wonder how such performances are going to look in that weird water cube-looking thing constructed for Olympic swimming.

Euro 2008: Spain Are The Champions

Fernando Torres

No time for losers, cause we are the champions… of the WORLD (well, all of Europe, at least). I imagine that song is going through everybody’s head who rooted for the Spanish yesterday. And thanks to a brilliant Fernando Torres finish, some great defense and a less-than-stellar attack from Germany, Spain are the champions of the Euro 2008 tournament.

And rightfully so. Once the knock-out rounds began, it was pretty easy to see the Spaniards were playing the best football.

By now, you’ve reviewed all the live blogs and wrap-ups available so I won’t belabor the point with needless recap text. However, I will say Torres’ go-ahead goal was a great example of simply outworking your opponent. There were no flashy step-overs or nifty slight-of-foot dribbling. All it took was sheer determination combined with a deft touch of the soccer boot to finish Germany off.

For Spain, it was there first major championship in 44 years.

Buh-Bye, Ana

Ana Ivanovic
Image courtesy of Ian Walton/Getty Images

Ana Ivanovic’s stay in London was short-lived as she was beaten down removed from the Wimbledon competition must unceremoniously by Zheng Jie, 6-1, 6-4. Jie, from China, is ranked 133rd in the world. Ivanovic was ranked first after winning the French Open. Ivanovic’s ouster comes on the heels of Maria Sharapova and opens the door for any number of the remaining women, including both of the Williams sisters.

Considering the way both Venus and Serena have played thus far, you have to think one or both will have something to say about how the title will be decided.

The Mystery of the Chris Douglas-Roberts Draft Slide

Chris Douglas-Roberts

Last night, the most valuable player for the Memphis Tigers — no, it wasn’t Derrick Rose — didn’t get drafted until later in the second round and I have to wonder why. Here is a list of some of the guards taken before CDR:

Derrick Rose
O.J. Mayo
Russell Westbrook
Eric Gordon
Joe Alexander
D.J. Augustin
Jerryd Bayless
Brandon Rush
Courtney Lee
George Hill
J. R. Giddens

And that’s just the first round. In the second round, Chicago decided Sonny Weems was a better player than their new point guard’s running mate from college. I guess winning a Final Four dunk contest goes a long way.

The question is why. Why did CDR get overlooked so badly? During his senior junior season, Roberts averaged 18 points, shot 40 percent from behind the arc and helped lead his team to a couple of minutes away from a National Championship. During this same game, he also showed Brandon Rush — the 13th overall pick — couldn’t guard him.

So again, what is the reason for Roberts dropping so far? If there are/were questions about his athleticism, perhaps the scouts should have asked Kevin Love.

CDR can shoot, dribble and is as long and athletic as any other guard in the draft. That does not sound the ingredients of a player who should slip in the draft so badly, the team that got him looks like they pulled off a Grand Theft Auto type of steal. Whatever the reason he was passed on, I have a feeling teams like Boston and Chicago — two teams with later picks who were in a position to take this potential steal — will be regretting passing on the Memphis guard for some time.

Meanwhile, New Jersey fans should be ecstatic with their good fortune.

Michael Beasley and South Beach

Michael Beasley

While I’ve long been an admirer of Michael Beasley’s talent (I got to see him play in the Derby Festival before he enrolled at K-State) and while I think Chicago was mistaken for passing on him for Derrick Rose — too many guards and not enough post players — I’m not sure if he South Beach is the best place for a kid with questions about his maturity. Dan Wetzel shares this concern as well.

Now, I’m not going to double-barrel blast Beasley’s level of maturity like Adrian Wojnarowski did but I’m also aware of the temptations a place like South Beach brings.

Stuff like this:

South Beach

this:

South Beach

and this:

South Beach

may retard the maturation process.

Who knows? Maybe the Heat will lock him in their practice facility until he turns 25 or so. Good luck, Mike. We’ll be watching to see how you handle South Beach’s stimulation.

I have a feeling it will be a little more intense than Manhattan, Kansas so grab on to your Miami Heat tickets ASAP!