Why Lakers’ fans shouldn’t be upset with Dwight?

So, Dwight Howard took his talents to Houston. No… it’s not the glamor franchises of the LA Lakers, New York Knicks, or even the Miami Heat, but it’s a fresh start for Howard to be with new teammates and a new coach that give him the best chance to win. It’s not just the Lakers’ fans that are upset with Dwight for leaving the celebrity hounding franchise, but even the general NBA fans of America are coming out with frustration.

Fans shouldn’t be upset with Dwight Howard one stinkin’ bit because it’s not his fault he decided to leave Hollywood for Texas! Dwight Howard chose the opportunity to go to Houston because he knew that the Rockets would give him the best chance to win. Dwight experienced the worst season by far this year in his career. We knew… when the season ended, that it was going to be a failing project and evidently, we all had the suspicion and the logic to realize that Dwight was not going to stay in LA.

Why would Dwight Howard not want to stay with the Los Angeles Lakers Richie?

Well let me break it down for you…

The LA Lakers are in a state of dysfunction right now because they have a current owner, who has been unable to follow in his father’s successful footsteps. Jim Buss has made some questionable decisions in his first year as head man of that organization. Jim has also been reluctant to listen to players or personnel, who have given him suggestions and choices to make in order for his storied franchise to clearly be ten times better. A reluctant owner is already a turn off to any player!

It started with Mike Brown, who had coached the Lakers to a 1-4 start this last season. Well… for some reason in those 5 games, Jim Buss decided to fire Mike Brown, which caused a slight uproar with the media and the rest of the NBA. Many people believed Mike Brown did not get a fair shot this last season and so naturally everyone was slightly upset… UNTIL a notable name came out of the shadows and placed his name among the candidates to coach Dwight Howard, Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, and Steve Nash.

That name is Phil Jackson! 11-time NBA championship winning coach! Just that alone should guarantee Phil Jackson’s hiring! Am I right or am I right? So with that… please welcome the new head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers… Mike D’Antoni! Mike D’Antoni??? Who’s the genius that hired Mike D’Antoni over Phil Jackson? Oh that’s right… Jim Buss hired him. Both Dwight Howard and Kobe Bryant told Jim Buss specifically to hire Phil Jackson over Mike D’Antoni. Jim Buss ignored their requests and went with his gut instead of his instincts. Recently, Dwight was asked by ESPN anchor Stephen A. Smith “if Phil Jackson was the head coach, would you be leaving?” Dwight responded with the obvious “NO!” This was clearly another problem directed towards Jim Buss.

By the end of the season, Mike D’Antoni and Dwight Howard were clearly not on the same page what so ever. The offense that Mike runs, doesn’t fit Howard’s style of play. The other issue and problem that Dwight has is the fact that Kobe Bryant is on the roster. Kobe is Kobe and he is the best player on that roster with no questions being asked, but Howard clearly doesn’t want that selfish, cocky kind of player playing along side him. Pau Gasol is another problem because the two had trouble spacing the floor, which is was Dwight Howard likes to have. Spacing the floor opens up Dwight to many different options.

The Houston Rockets supplies Dwight with an incredible owner in Leslie Alexander, who realizes and understands what it takes to get to the top. Also, they supply a healthy, young, and star-studded roster that can be developed for years to come, plus the addition of Hall of Famer Hakeem Olajuwon, who was arguably one of the best centers to ever to touch the NBA court. Can’t forget current Rockets head coach and Hall of Fame player Kevin McHale, who practically had hundreds of post moves down in the paint while playing with the Celtics. Olajuwon and McHale will be a huge plus to Dwight’s potential success in Houston. They know exactly what Dwight Howard is going through and they know exactly what he needs. Having that relationship and same identity I think will prove to be wonders for this Hall of Fame mentor-player combination. Mike D’Antoni does not have that Hall of Fame status and it’s weird, but not surprising that this guy alone was really the reason Dwight Howard left LA.

So what are the reasons why fans should not be upset with Dwight Howard?

1. The hiring of Mike D’Antoni

2. An unstable chemistry that D’Antoni could not fix

3. A player neglecting owner in Jim Buss

4. The big and final reason is… Jim Buss himself. His questionable decision making and none feeling for his own personnel will prove to be a huge failure if he doesn’t change.

The franchise is currently lingering under a dark cloud and things need to change starting with Jim Buss. His attitude, decisions, and feelings need to change in order for this franchise to get back to domination. So if the fans should be mad at anybody… it should be the owner Jim Buss for not listening to his own personnel and players.

– Richie Boswell

Dwight Howard unlikely to re-sign with Lakers

Could this be another Dwightmare of a summer? It’s quite possible. Dwight Howard is currently not interested in re-signing with the Lakers, however Dwight has the audacity sometimes to change his mind. So, what do we know as of this second?

-Dwight is not interested in re-signing with LA
-Dwight has the Dallas Mavericks, and Houston Rockets as his top 2 teams
-The Atlanta Hawks are a long shot, but are on the table as well

What if Dwight signs with the Mavericks?

The Mavs are an older club and are simply fading away, but still have the talent to get in the playoffs. Dwight Howard has made it known he wants to be “the guy” in terms of the entire team, which if he goes to Dallas, that’s exactly what he’s going to be. Dwight would be the headline of that entire team even if the Mavs are kind of fading away. If he decides to sign with Dallas, the Mavs would have to trade Shaun Marian away to clear up cap space, which should be no problem. The one problem with Dallas is, will they have the pieces to win? Unfortunately for this upcoming season, Dallas would not have the cap space nor surrounding pieces other than an aging Dirk Nowitzki essentially to help on the scoring front for Howard. However, the next season, the Mavericks will have the cap room to start building around Dwight, but just because Dwight is there doesn’t mean other people want to join. If Dwight is willing to be patient and wanting to be the “go to guy”, then Dallas is the place for him. Also, he must be flexible on possibly not winning a championship this upcoming year because I do not believe Dallas will have the supporting cast to win it all and quite possibly might never have it while Howard is there.

What if Dwight signs with Houston?

Houston has to be the most appealing out of all the teams due to their youth and scoring talent. Howard would be a massive upgrade on the defensive end, in which Houston was the 2nd worst team in. Despite the terrible defense, the Rockets were efficient and effective on the offensive side of the ball as they ranked 2nd best in that category. It’s clear if Howard signs, the defense would improve dramatically. Omer Asik was the only true defender on this team and that’s why Howard would upgrade it. Now, I like Omer Asik and honestly for the Rockets sake, I think they should continue with Omer as their starting center. Although Howard is clearly better than Asik, you start to wonder if he can handle a Houston style of offense, which is very similar to the Lakers. This clearly was Dwight’s worst season and so that’s why alarms might set off if Howard comes to Houston because LA and Houston run very similar offenses, which secludes the center position a little bit. The “Run N Gun” is the offense that Houston runs, which is very fast-paced and a very 3-point happy style of offense. Dwight loves having the ball, but in Houston he might expect the same as what he was getting in LA, but Kevin McHale, who was a former big man would be very compensating to try to work something out to induce Howard into this offense. McHale is a much better coach and mentor for Howard then D’Antoni, Carlisle, or Budenholzer because McHale knows what it’s like to be a big man. Houston definitely shows the greenest pastures for Howard.

For Atlanta to sign Howard, Chris Paul would have needed to leave the LA Clippers, which by now as everybody knows, Doc Rivers has been hired as their new head coach. This move should make everybody assume that Chris Paul will remain a Clipper. Atlanta is Howard’s hometown, but Howard is interested in winning titles and unfortunately for the “ATL”, the Hawks do not have the role players nor do they have the established head coach to convince Howard to go there without Paul joining him. It’s possible, but a definite long shot.

For the Lakers, if they cant re-sign Howard, they have to seriously consider doing the sign-and-trade because it would give them the necessary pieces in return for the compensation of Howard. In this particular case, the Lakers would be better off making an agreement with the Rockets over the Mavericks due to the fact that Houston has some pieces that are expendable and young. Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik would be two logical options to be traded to the Lakers for Howard. I think Houston needs to move on from Lin anyway. Asik would be a disappointing option for Houston to let go, but to compensate for Howard, Asik would need to go. Honestly, Asik would be just fine in the D’Antoni system because its all about scoring, scoring, scoring. Asik will be centered around the defensive side of that ball. Scoring for Asik will come in knick knacks in that system, which is okay for him because he is not going to demand the ball like Dwight, and will make for a much better chemistry amongst the team.

If Dwight re-signs with Lakers will offer 5-years/118 million dollars
Every other team can only max out at 4-years/88 million dollars

Unlike California, Texas does not have any state tax nor does it have a millionaires tax. This is something Dwight has to consider even though Dwight is not about the money. After doing the math, the taxes that Howard would be receiving from California would essentially wipe out a bit of his contract and essentially would make it very similar to what Howard would get in Texas on a yearly basis. LA is Hollywood though and the celebrities and size of the market, which is only smaller than New York, would help Dwight’s brand get bigger and bigger and bigger, but it’s clear Dwight does not want to be part of a team that is run by Mike D’Antoni and so I’m going to predict right here that Dwight isn’t returning.

Watch Dwight change his mind and re-sign with the Lakers, just watch! I’m hoping he lives up to what he says on a daily basis, but we can’t really believe that from Dwight. We are in for a wild NBA free agency!

– Richie Boswell

What can the Astros do to get back to the promise land?

The Houston Astros have not had a lot to cheer about these last couple of years and have not had a winning record since 2008. Now, the Astros decided last season to cut their losses and essentially rebuild by trading some of their best talent to other clubs and some Astro fans might of felt let down, but I surely didn’t because this shows the Astros could possibly pull a Houston Rocket style approach. The Rockets cut most of their losses before this past season and basically did an entire rebuilding of their team, which included James Harden. Even after signing Harden, Asik, and Lin they still have 18+ million dollars to potentially use in this years off season. How does that connect to the Astros?

Well, the Astros total payroll is around 25 million dollars, which as we already know is less than what the New York Yankee third-baseman Alex Rodriguez gets paid currently by sitting on the disabled list. The Astros have got to take advantage of this low payroll this upcoming free agency and really consider pigging out on some of the big names or consider trading some younger prospects for some immediate impact bats or pitching. They have expendable players like the 29 year-old back-up catcher Carlos Corporan, who is batting .290 with 5 homers and 11 RBIs. Even though Corporan is a good bat and supplies some ammo when the Astros need it, I don’t feel like Corporan is something you want to keep when you are in the middle of the rebuilding process. Brandon Barnes and either Ronny Cedeno or Marwin Gonzalez are logical options to trade away as well for someone big. Of course those three players would be one package to get one big name, but that’s why I would lean and take a chance maybe more on the farm system and then add possibly a name like Carlos Corporan or Brandon Barnes and etc.

2014 free agents include Robinson Cano, Shin-Soo Choo, Jacoby Ellsbury, Brian McCann, Matt Garza, Nelson Cruz, Curtis Granderson, and Corey Hart are just some of many free agents that are up there that the Astros can pull a move on. Of course, Houston would have to convince a needed free agent that what Houston is doing is the direction of improvement and not failure and lets not forget the selling of their own city. New York, Los Angeles, or even a team that doesn’t have the best city, but is having success are much more glamorous destinations for free agents then Houston and thats why they have to sell their city with the greatest of authority and have the money in the end to convince a free agent to come into Houston. Big name free agents try to avoid rebuilding projects at all costs because its like stepping into a crap shoot and its either gonna work or its gonna fail.

The Houston Astros have a lot of work ahead of them, but i suspect if they follow this approach they can get back to the promise land.

Lake Travis Rugby wins Texas State Championship

Just one year removed of the Cavaliers losing to Stony Point in the state championship, Lake Travis brought out the lumber on the Kingwood Mustangs 40-5 on Sunday for their first rugby state championship. We wondered if Lake Travis could come back after losing some hard-hitting key seniors like Stephen Wilkes and Kody Brabson and make another run at State, however, I don’t think we were really prepared for what LT rugby had in store for us. Not only did they win the state championship, they went 10-0, finished number 1 in the state of Texas, number 18 in the nation, and outscored opponents 401-24.

Led by head coach Rick Medina, the Cavaliers shocked perennial powerhouses’ Westlake, 6-5 and St.Thomas, 19-14. The chemistry that shaped this team has was a huge plus. Senior studs such as Weston Mollo, Nic Medina, Ben Savrick, Cole David, and Andrew Bennett built a chemistry that was like no other. I mean lets be honest, beating Westlake and St. Thomas in the same season was something that never crossed anybody’s mind. Lake Travis became the perennial powerhouse this season by not only beating Westlake and St. Thomas, but by bringing out the freight train against inferior opponents.

Lake Travis had great overall attributes this year. From speed to the kicking game, you cannot really point out a flaw that this team had as a whole. Zach Joiner defined speed and agility beyond logic. Once Zach was in the open field, his Lamborghini wheels would take over and fire could be seen out of his shoes as he ran. One second you would see him with a group of players surrounding him ready to tackle him, the next you would see him breaking away and leaving everybody in the dust!

In terms of strength, everybody had it, but the one person that really stuck out to me was Weston Mollo. Mollo wasn’t afraid to back down from a challenge and threw fear in opponent’s eyes with his true strength by bulldozing and tackling people with aggressive force. His creativity was always on display, but it really came out in the championship game when he caught an impossible behind the back catch, which in rugby can be very dangerous because your entire body is essentially exposed. A brave and courageous move that shows me he is strong and willing to take a hit at any point, no matter the price.

Kevin Marcotte was an accuracy king when it came to the kicking game. Marcotte, who was an All-State kicker in football, was barely ousted in the running to make Team USA football. He was an incredible factor when it came down to adding points when LT needed them most. He was also a very effective player when he was in the open field; that’s when he would break out with his speed! So far, he’s the greatest LT Rugby kicker to live.

Nic Medina showed a leadership role while practicing, and while in a game. He made sure everybody was clicking. He was also a motor to help motivate this team. Nic was the most experienced among all players. He had the ability to pass the ball at great lengths and was a very unselfish, yet, he had a winning attitude. Also another attribute that stuck out, was the use of his long stride as it was an advantage to gain distance from opposing players.

You could not be a team without defensive plays being made. Stefan Vidovic, Ryan Gilbert, and Blaze Stewart created great defensive plays when needed. I can tell you, right now, these guys were really good in lineout situations just from watching games. These 3 used their incredibly long arms to swat opposing team’s throw ins and managed to use those arms on the offensive of the lineout as well. Their lengthy arms were also an advantage when it came to making hustle plays. Stefan was an immediate factor in all pegs of the game, despite joining the team a little later in the season. Blaze and Ryan were swat artists and tried to make sure the opposing team didn’t win any lineouts.

Lake Travis will now have to rebuild and try to replace a team that was herded with seniors. It will be now up to returning players like Chris Robison, Justin Brauer, and Patrick Medina to go out and recruit potential prospects to join. It’s going to be interesting to see how Lake Travis blends next year when new faces show up. Even though the Cavs still have a lot of talent and experience going into next year, they are going to have to reteach a whole new team and it might take some time to blend that chemistry back together. Not to say that it can’t be done in a year because it can be done, especially when you have coaches that have played rugby at the international and national levels.

Everybody had their traits and personalities that made this team perfect. Again, you can never single anybody out for the efforts they showed during this season. With excellent chemistry, this team achieved something most teams can only dream of. 2013 TEXAS STATE RUGBY STATE CHAMPIONS!!! Nobody could ever replace it!!! Now the fight begins for number 2…

Seniors:
Ben Savrick
Zac Dillon
Cole David
Stefan Vidovic
Andrew Bennett
Nic Medina
Ryan Gilbert
Zach Joiner
Connor Shannon
Travis Williams
Chris Penna
Vince Villagomez
Kevin Marcotte
Dave Zinsmeyer
Travis Henry
Logan Schugart
Lance Schugart
Mark Schoenike
Nick Van Buren
Ryan Tinney
Alex Song
Jarrell Kliefoth
Reid Jones
Blaze Stewart
Alex Pustelnyk

Sophomores:
Tiagh Ryan
Dash Duran
Josh Bermudez
Justin Brauer
Chris Robison
Donte Gryder
Jake Reeves
Chris Morrison
David Magana

Freshmen:
Patrick Medina
Dylan Brauer

Head coach: Rick Medina
Assistant Head Coaches: Stephen Ryan., Kevin Cotton, Ron Nicks, Tane Jericevich

Can the Texas Rangers be good with new team?

The Texas Rangers are just beginning the season and some new faces are now in the dugout. 36 year-old A.J Pierzynski comes in from the Chicago White Sox to replace Mike Napoli as the new catcher, as well as the 37 year-old Lance Berkman, who is now the new DH. The Texas Rangers lost Mike Napoli to the Boston Red Sox, but their biggest hit was Josh Hamilton, who bolted to the AL West divisional rival Los Angeles Angels. So with these losses can Texas be good and win the division over a stout, and powerful hitting LA club?

My answer is yes because they still have big time hitters in tact, even with losing Josh Hamilton and Mike Napoli. Nelson Cruz, A.J Pierzynski, David Murphy, Mitch Moreland, Adrian Beltre, and Ian Kinsler are great hitters and can be just as dangerous or more then the home run hitting LA Angels. Lets not forget the young speedsters of Elvis Andrus and Craig Gentry. The one thing that might worry fans about this team is that they’re an older roster than last year, so injuries can be a huge possibility. Of course Josh Hamilton was very injury-prone while playing with the Rangers averaging around 123 games a season. That’s 40 games of non Hamilton service that might of been needed by the Rangers.

Hamilton signed a deal that was worth 25 million dollars a year with the Angels. While I believe the Rangers made the right call by not going that high of price with Hamilton due to his injuries and slumps he would show up with, he still is one of those moon shot home run hitters that you can’t live without. With that being said, the Rangers I think will be just fine because their entire lineup is still infested with hitting talent, despite the slight age spike.

The Rangers are 2-1 now and currently the pitching staff has accounted for 43 strikeouts and 2 shut outs just through the first 3 games of the season. Hopefully the pitching keeps up through out the season along side a very powerful hitting lineup. The Rangers in the first 3 games against the Astros have started slow in the offensive category as they haven’t been able to get going till around the 5th or 6th inning of the game to get that offense going and that simply just can’t happen when they play these better teams like LA. In the end, I think Texas will be a dominant offensive team and the pitching rotation will be better than last year by huge margins.

AL West Division prediction:

1. Rangers
2. Angels
3. Athletics
4. Astros
5. Mariners

Why chemistry will be Lakers’ downfall?

By: Richie Boswell

The Los Angeles Lakers got romped by Oklahoma City last night 122-105. The Lakers are now back under .500 at 30-31 with an upcoming match up against the New Orleans Hornets. This should be an easy win for LA, however this entire season has been centered around if Kobe could coexist with Dwight Howard and Mike D’Antoni’s fast-paced “Run N’ Gun” offense.

The Lakers are improving their record, but that does not mean the chemistry is going smoothly. Dwight Howard and Kobe Bryant are two of the biggest ball hogs in the league, so there is no question both of them want the ball. Both Kobe and Steve Nash have already made it known that they’re frustrated with Dwight. Dwight clearly is the best center in the league with great athleticism and the ability to score down in the post. However, Dwight sometimes takes bad shots and has one of the worst free throw percentages in the league. This has gotten some of the Lakers’ players to really speak out their frustrations about him.

Kobe is a serious a player, who just wants to win and nobody can deny that. Dwight jokes around a lot, which doesn’t bold well for him in that particular locker room. Although, since the all star break it has gotten better in Tinseltown, but not good enough. Ball hogs and jokers don’t get teams anywhere, especially last night when Dwight only managed to make 1 shot going into halftime. I feel like Dwight is still trying to adapt to the fact that he is not the No. 1 option anymore and that this is Kobe’s team, but again its getting a little better as the season has progressed. However, if the Lakers do manage to make the playoffs, the chemistry won’t be there to help them win anything.

Personally, I don’t feel that Dwight is the major problem. I think Mike D’Antoni is their problem, who runs a “Run N’ Gun”, which is a fast-paced offense with having the ability to score quickly. This offense doesn’t bold well for an aging team such as the Lakers. This offense evolves around the point guard position, which is Steve Nash. Steve is really good, but he is 39 almost 40. An older point guard does not go well in this particular offense. The “Run N’ Gun” is designed for a younger offense like the Houston Rockets.

Although the Lakers rank 6th in offense, it’s their horrid defense that gets everybody going. Bad transition, bad shot blocking, and sometimes just flat out laziness kill this team on defense. They currently are ranked at 24th. I really hope the Lakers consider letting go of D’Antoni for the reason that his system doesn’t work entirely well. The Lakers’ fans have huge expectations every year and this year, they have not met any goals what so ever. I think another coach would be more beneficial for the Lakers, but that’s up to the Buss family if they want to make that move or not. Whatever they’re thinking, they have to think what is going to make the most sense for their aging roster.

Danica Patrick finishes 8th at Daytona 500

By: Richie Boswell -Daytona Beach, FL

Danica Patrick came in with a lot of hype and a lot of new NASCAR fans and let me tell you, she delivered on all cylinders. Regardless if she finished 8th, she still finished in the top 10 at Daytona, which is the best finish by any women to race the 500. Danica is something to watch this entire NASCAR season as she tries to show the sports world that she can dominate a firmly male dominated sport.

Danica impressed me in Daytona today as she never got rattled even when she fell behind. She always picked herself back up and got herself in contention. Danica was the 2nd women to lead a green flagged lap at any NASCAR event in history as well as the best finish at Daytona by any women and of course was the first women to take the pole position at any race. Despite struggling a little bit out of the pit, she really held her own and had a very solid race.

Now, Danica can be a bigger threat if she took some more risks by trying to pass and really getting herself out there, but eventually with time and a little bit more experience this issue will be resolved. Lets be honest, Danica had so many positives in this race that I, who really didn’t watch NASCAR in the past, got on pins and needles during the race and eventually gained a fan in NASCAR. Danica has to be so proud of herself and take this momentum into Phoenix next week, which by the way is her hometown.

Danica’s keys for next week in Phoenix:
1. Keep that steady pace, like she did today

As long as she manages herself and her car with ease and just keeps control under pressure, I guarantee she will keep the contention in Phoenix and a possible checkered flag.

2. Be more assertive and aggressive

She needs to get comfortable, breathe, and take those chances when feel needed. She needs to come out of the pit with aggression and the thought process of victory running through the mind. She has the ability and most definitely has the car to get the job done.

3. She is a winner

Danica is a winner! Just by watching her today at Daytona, she has all the tools to pull out a victory. She has to want it and as I said in the 2nd key, she just needs to solidify her presence by being more aggressive.

All these keys to winning are obvious and all I can really top this headline off with is, I hope she wins eventually and I will be pulling for her in the future in every race along with the many new fans she has attracted to NASCAR. Not only does NASCAR and the media need Danica, but I need you as fan, along with all the other fans that praise you now. I hope this is the start for a great year and career for Danica and most importantly, a women in a male dominated sport.
Go Danica!