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Big Ten Basketball Media Day

Last week, I covered the Big Ten Basketball Media Day in Rosemont, Ill. for SB Nation’s Bucky’s 5th Quarter, focusing on Big Ten favorite Wisconsin.

You can find the main hub of all my coverage by clicking here, and links to individual stories and video are listed below:

  • Interview with Frank Kaminsky:

  • Interview with Sam Dekker:

  • Interview with Josh Gasser:

  • Bo Ryan press conference:

  • Opposing players discuss Wisconsin (Shannon Scott, Tre Demps, Travis Trice):

Feel free to send any feedback using the “Contact Me” page on the lefthand column. You can also find me on Twitter and on Facebook. Also be sure to check out my YouTube channel.

 

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HP Sports Brief — March 19th

In the Lake Zurich IHSA Sectional Semifinal game, Fremd utilized a 19-3 run in the second quarter and a 12-0 run in the fourth to put away Highland Park, 47-26. HP’s David Sachs scored 13 points and Fremd’s Ben Carlson also notched 13, coming on 75% shooting. They finish the season at 22-8 and the future is bright. HP will see four starters return next year.

Here’s my HP Sports Brief for the week of March 19th. Feel free to send any feedback using the “Contact Me” page on the lefthand column. You can also find me on Twitter and on Facebook.

Be sure to check out my YouTube channel.

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HP Sports Brief for March 12th — Regional Championship

In Friday’s Class 4A Regional Championship game, the Giants beat Lake Forest (Illinois’ 19th-ranked team), 48-39. David Sachs led the way with 16 points and Lake Forest’s bell-cow, Evan Boudreaux, was kept quiet all night. They never trailed in the game. This is Highland Park’s first Regional Championship since 2008. They take on Fremd in the Sectional Semifinal on Wednesday. Sam Brief reports. Feel free to send any feedback using the “Contact Me” page on the lefthand column. You can also find me on Twitter and on Facebook

Be sure to check out my YouTube channel.

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New Look, New City, New Hope: Why the Brooklyn Nets Have All the Pieces in Place to Excel in Today’s NBA

For a team that has posted a measly record of 126-268 (.320 pct.) over the course of its past five seasons, including a putrid 12-70 season in 2009-10,

Last season was a major disappointment for the Nets, as they managed a meager 22-44 record, leaving the team with major questions going into a new era in Brooklyn.

predicting even a decent season in 2012-13 would be preposterous, but this upcoming NBA season, the newly named Brooklyn Nets have all the pieces in place to exceed decency and surmount even our wildest expectations.

Just 37 days ago, when NBA teams began negotiations with free agents, the Nets faced a potential unloading of their current depth-lacking lineup, which would have put them in complete crisis. Star point guard Deron Williams was an unrestricted free agent, and rumors were strong that he might have been headed to Dallas. Center Brook Lopez, forward Kris Humphries and veteran forward Gerald Wallace were all free agents as well, and losing one of those pieces would have been a colossal blow to the Nets’ roster. Instead, things went in the opposite direction for the Nets, as they re-signed Williams to a five-year deal, Lopez to a four-year deal, Humphries to a two-year deal and Wallace to a four-year deal. In addition to these essential signings, the Nets delivered a knockout punch to the rest of the NBA by sending Jordan Farmar, Johan Petro, Anthony Morrow, Jordan Williams and DeShawn Stevenson to the Hawks in exchange for six-time all-star guard, Joe Johnson. This move put the Nets in prime position with a strong starting lineup including Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Gerald Wallace, Kris Humphries and Brook Lopez. In addition to this durable starting five, a Nets’ bench that

Bringing back Williams and trading for Johnson were two moves that gave the Nets the star power necessary to flourish in the NBA.

faces numerous depth concerns now possesses C.J. Watson, who the Nets signed this offseason to a two-year deal after he cleared waivers, and MarShon Brooks, the young, energetic guard with boatloads of potential.

Even with a remodeled lineup that leads to a renewed sense of hope for the Nets, there are still some nay-sayers out there, saying that their lack of depth will catch up to them or that Williams and Johnson won’t mesh in the Brooklyn backcourt. While both of these are legitimate concerns for the Nets going forward, the positives certainly outweigh the negatives for this upcoming season.

In the past few weeks, the Nets’ dynamic combination of Williams, Johnson, Lopez and Wallace has been dubbed the ‘Core Four.’ The ‘Core Four’ is a very balanced group both offensively and defensively, as they have a top five point guard, a top 10 shooting guard, a top 10 center, and  a reliable defender in Wallace. Compared to the Heat’s ‘Big 3, the ‘Core Four’ is much more balanced, as the ‘Big 3′ does not include a point guard or a center, and they still won the NBA Finals last season. The Nets’ balanced and star-studded ‘Core Four’ has the ability to push the Nets into the Eastern Conference’s elite class this upcoming season.

The entire Nets’ roster contains every trait that a winning NBA team needs: Dynamic scoring (Williams, Johnson), rebounding (Humphries, Lopez),

Hello Brooklyn! The Nets’ new, savvy look and improved sense of swagger is another aspect of the organization that can give the team the confidence it needs to contend.

defense (Wallace, Lopez, Watson), passing (Williams, Watson), outside shooting (Williams, Watson, Johnson, Brooks), and interior offense/defense (Lopez, Humphries). While the Nets seem like a choppy, inconsistent team, they clearly have all the pieces in place to succeed in the Eastern Conference and beyond.

It has all turned around this offseason for the Nets, as on paper, this is a team that can thrive against even the NBA’s best, erase its atrocious reputation in the NBA, and maybe hang up a banner or two during the process. Now, all they have to do is make it happen.

By Sam Brief

Agree? Disagree? Leave a comment, I would love to know if you think the Nets’ offseason successes will be enough to boost them into the upper echelon of the Eastern Conference!

Follow me on Twitter!! (@SamsSportsBrief)

2012 NCAA Men’s National Championship Game Preview

146 days after the 2011-12 College Basketball season tipped off, just two teams are left standing – the Kansas Jayhawks and the Kentucky Wildcats. The story lines in this game are amazing – both teams have a Player of the Year candidate (Kansas’ Thomas Robinson and Kentucky’s Anthony Davis), both are historic powerhouses (29 combined Final Four appearances), and they faced-off earlier in the season (Kentucky 75, Kansas 65). Which team will come out on top tomorrow? Will it be the Jayhawks or the Wildcats? Which players will play big roles? What are some intriguing matchups to watch? It’s time to find out…

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GRAPHIC MADE BY SAM BRIEF

Kobe Bryant Is Underrated- It’s Not as Absurd as it Sounds

A bona-fide superstar, Kobe Bryant has become a household name--and then some.

Since his inception into the league in 1996, Kobe Bryant has been worldwide known and revered. He has won five NBA Championships, two NBA Finals MVPs and a regular season MVP Award. He is a nine-time all-defensive team selection. He is a 14-time NBA All-Star and a four-time NBA All-Star Game MVP. He has an approximate net worth of $200 million and that’s not all from his nearly $30 million per-year contract with the Lakers. In fact, a large majority of it is from the endless endorsement deals he’s signed and the worldwide tours that he has embarked on. His jersey is the second best-selling in the NBA, and he is a worldwide phenomenon. How can someone this popular be underrated? As absurd as that does sound, Kobe Bryant is an underrated player.

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THE HIDDEN CULPRIT

Advertising. It’s a monstrous part of sports, and there’s no denying it.

Does advertising in sports get out of hand, though?

You are about to find out:

Since the beginning of time, advertising has been a major part of our lives. Whether it’s a commercial, a billboard, or even a scraggly guy walking down the street shouting the name of a law firm, there’s no denying the fact that it influences our daily lives.

Another gargantuan aspect of advertising is in the sports business. With sporting events and shows like Sportscenter and College GameDay (sorry for the advertising) creeping up as the most viewed programming in America, major companies and businesses use sports’ popularity for its’ own benefit. This is a prime part of our lives, and, the way I put it, there are many different ways that it is used within sports, and they range from the hardly noticeable to the completely absurd.

“How can one possibly think about the Texas Rangers’ lineup without thinking about Taco Bell first?”

One way that advertising is utilized in sports is verbally. For example, Al Michaels just has to take a break from the game to remind us that The Office is on every Thursday at 9 pm, or when Joe Buck has to remind us

Taco Bell: The face of the Texas Rangers.

that the presentation of the Rangers’ lineup is officially presented by Taco Bell (how can one possibly think about the Texas Rangers’ lineup without thinking of Taco Bell first)? This is something that these broadcasters do not appreciate, either. You can hear the strain and annoyance in Mike Tirico’s voice every Monday night when he has to spit out an essay about why Toyota cars are the best. I’m not to sure that the general population enjoys it either when the guy with the robotic-sounding voice lists all of the sponsors of the game, and their slogan. For example, “Ford, built Ford Tough” is said after every commercial break during a FOX NFL broadcast. That means that if there are 20 commercial breaks during a game, we hear “Ford, built Ford tough” 20 times in just 3 hours! This concept is called Ad Nauseum (I think you can see where the Nauseous part comes from.) The verbal part of advertising in sports can be one of the most annoying, but it is certainly not the most obnoxious, and you are about to find out why:

“I see this as an ineffective marketing ploy that companies use to sneak in extra time for you to be staring at their ad”

A second area of which advertising in sports gets way out of line is visually. Have you ever noticed that at the bottom of every NFL broadcast, a miniature ad for a TV show pops up every 5 minutes. I see this as an ineffective marketing ploy that companies use to sneak in extra time for you to be staring at their ad. This is plainly and simply irritating and in the big picture, it is completely pointless. For example, I have no idea why Bud Light now sponsors the SportsCenter Top 10 Plays. ESPN now feels that its’ viewers to be reminded that Bud Light is a beer company every time that a sick-nasty sports play is aired on the Top 10 Plays.

Visual advertisements are not just on TV. If you have ever watched a European Soccer game, then you know that AON is on the Manchester United uniforms, BWIN is on the Real Madrid uniforms, and ETIHAD Airways is on the Manchester City uniforms. After watching just one half of one game, there is simply no way to think about Manchester United without thinking about the AON logo. This is preposterous. Just imagine this: A

Is it possible to see Manchester United play without the AON logo being flashed at you every second?

Green Bay Packers or New England Patriots uniform with a Walmart or a Ice Mountain logo on it. You can’t because it would never happen, unless advertising went too far…And then it does, this time in the form of the NHL. Picture a hockey rink: What do you see? Ice, glass, a scoreboard, seats, boards, etc. Now think to yourself: What is on the ice and boards? Advertisements! Hockey is the only sport where there are advertisement on the court/field/ice. Earlier this year, I was watching a preseason hockey game, and something seemed wrong with the ice and boards. Then I realized it, there were no advertisements. I could not even recognize the rink without the ads. If society has gotten to a point where we can’t even recognize a hockey rink if it doesn’t have ads, then there are no solutions.

“We take a trophy of honor, and tarnish it with the disgrace of a logo.”

One more way that visual advertising holds the world of sports in a chokehold is through College Football. For one thing, behind every goalpost in an NCAA stadium is an Allstate logo to remind you that you’re in good hands! Then there are the Bowl Games: The godaddy.com Bowl, The Chick-Fil-A Bowl, the Outback bowl, and much more. Even the big-time BCS bowls are branded: The Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, Allstate Sugar bowl, FedEx Orange Bowl, and of course, the Rose Bowl Game which of course is presented by Vizio (How on Earth could The Rose Bowl go on without Vizio?) The fact that the biggest games in the sport are so branded is a shame, just an utter shame, why don’t we just call it the Pizza Hut Super Bowl?

Would you believe that we haven’t even gotten to the most obnoxious part yet?

The Coaches Trophy (National Championship trophy) has the Dr. Pepper logo on it. Now, how can we portray the champions of our sport with such a manner? We take a trophy of honor, and tarnish it with the disgrace of a

Imagine seeing this logo every 5 minutes. Now, stop imagining and turn on your TV.

logo.

There is one bright spot in this, though. During the 2011 BCS National Championship game (which was presented by Tostitos, of course), broadcasting legend Brent Musburger made advertising interesting (for once), and also made fun of it at the same time. Right before Auburn kicker Wes Byrum was about to kick the game-winning field goal, he said, quietly under his breath, “This one’s for all the Tostitos.” This comment received backlash right off the bat, but I think it was making fun of the advertising, and in fact, was pure genius.

“Imagine a Packers or Patriots uniform with a Walmart or an Ice Mountain logo on it”

The final and the most absurd aspect of advertising in sports is stadium names. Think about some names of sports venues: Shea Stadium, Comiskey Park, Giants’ Stadium, and Boston Garden are a few. These are how stadiums should be named. Then, the money comes in to play; some colossal company comes to a team, offers them millions of dollars, and says to name their stadium after the company, and with that, smear and plaster their logo all over the stadium. Those historical, nostalgic stadiums that I mentioned above? They are victims; those stadiums are now Citi Field, U.S. Cellular Field, MetLife Stadium, and the TD Garden. Victimized. A victim of advertising’s lure.

When will we get to the point where the most historic stadiums, such as Yankee Stadium, Fenway Park, Wrigley Field, and Solider Field get their makeover? What will we call them? Will the Yankees play at Capital One Stadium, the Red Sox at Verizon Park, the Cubs at Sony Field, and the Bears at State Farm Complex?

“There is no going back”

Prominent and historic stadiums being blemished with the ugly sight logos and advertisements is not the direction that sports should be going in.

Taco Bell, Dr. Pepper, Allstate, Capital One, State Farm, U.S. Cellular, Pizza Hut, Sony, Toyota, Ford,

If we don't do something about this now, then these logos will become the new face of sports.

Wendy’s, and Tostitos. What do all of these have in common?

They are the future of sports.

By Sam Brief