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With football season quickly approaching, let's get one last mailbag in before the summer doldrums officially end


At first blush this seemed easy to me, but the more I thought about it the more and more nuanced it got. First off, I should note that I am probably more bearish about Shaka than anyone in the national media. True he made a Final Four at a young age, but it was with a team that probably wasn't good enough to be in the NCAA tournament in the first place, and they rode an incredible string of three point luck - both by themselves and their opponents - to make the Final Four. Yes HAVOC is great and all that, but they won the Elite 8 game over Kansas because they shot 12-25 from three, about 15% over their season average, and Kansas shot 2-21 from three, about 30% under their season average. So one generous heaping of luck isn't enough for me to elevate him to legendary status.

As for HAVOC, Shaka Smart's pressing tactic taking the nation by storm, it's all well and good to say that it works, and it does against some people, but as a whole VCU's defense was pretty bad last year. They allowed teams to shoot over 50% from two and gave up over a point per possession on possessions where they did not create a turnover.

The other thing to note is that while I won't say Havoc doesn't work against major conference opponents, it is certainly most effective against CAA or Atlantic 10 competition where the point guards aren't as athletic. I'm pretty confident in saying that having a team unleash a press in a BCS conference 90+% of the time wouldn't work well for that team.

But, to play Devil's Advocate a bit, if Smart were the coach at Kansas, he would no doubt get better players - and better athletes - than at VCU. This goes without saying obviously, but elite recruits would probably welcome the opportunity to run around and press and dunk for a year. With better athletes a system like Havoc would have a lot better chance of working, and it would certainly work against offenses who thrive on not turning the ball over, but I still think that good point guards would tear it apart and in the long run I don't see Kansas winning a championship with it. While it's true Louisville had a great pressing defense this year, they also played really good defense in the half court. Furthermore, I'd rather not rely on the refs not calling any bumping or grabbing as a prerequisite for my defense being effective.

All of this is a long way of saying that while it is intriguing, and I think he'd be able to recruit enough to get good enough players to run it well, there would be a few coaches ahead of him on my wish list. Fortunately (hopefully), we don't have to worry about that for awhile.

I'm sure this will come off as over optimistic bluster, but I really think the goal should be to go to a bowl game every year. It only takes six wins to go, and with three being pretty much freely available depending on scheduling, I really think Kansas should be able to win 3 league games per year. Granted that hasn't been the case lately, but I think it's impossible to overstate the damage the end of the Mangino era and the Gill era did to the program. When looked at objectively though, Kansas has good facilities, enough money to pay good coaches, and a great town from which to recruit.

I think the program is moving in the right direction. Jake Heaps wouldn't be here without Charlie Weis, and the program currently offers recruits the unique combo of being able to play right away and play for coaches who know what it takes to get to the next level. It seems like that is something they have been leveraging fairly well; I think the next step is to build some depth as well as prove that the coaches can either find diamond in the rough type guys or show the ability to coach guys up and make them improve.

I answered 50/50 on twitter, but the more I think about it, the more it's closer to 100% that he's gone after this year. Embiid, like Withey, played volleyball growing up, and he's already showing the ability to block shots. More than that, though, he has the physical package NBA guys drool over. He stands 7 foot tall, has a 7'5" wingspan, can run the floor and has already flashed the ability to shoot a jumper, handle the ball, and already has an array of post moves, despite only playing organized basketball for three years.

I haven't been able to find anything one way or the other on how well off or otherwise his family is, but he does have a brother and a sister and whether you're from the United States or Cameroon there can be some pressure to go make millions to support your family.

In the end it probably comes down to a numbers game: if he stays a year he'll likely enter the 2014-15 season as a potential #1 overall pick if he shows any modicum of improvement, versus the loaded 2014 draft where he would be competing with god knows how many talented players for the #2 spot behind Andrew Wiggins. Obviously the gap between 1 and 2 isn't huge, but with so many potentially great players coming out next year, it's possible that Embiid could be pushed towards the back half of the top 10, and maybe waiting a year to come out would be better for him.

As it is, however, I am pretty high on his potential to the point that I think he'll be a top 5 pick in 2014. Obviously he hasn't gotten a lot of attention because of Wiggins (and Selden) and because he started the year unranked in the recruiting rankings, but if you watch video of him (and yes it's just Adidas Nations) you can get a glimpse of the vast potential he is blessed with:

We had a little Seinfeld talk on here a few days ago and with me being the world's foremost Seinfeld expert (it's true) who better than me to answer this question. And there's no way I am going to be able to talk about just one episode, so I am making the executive decision to expand it to 5. Fair warning though, I change around my rankings about every other month or so because all of the episodes (or most anyways) are just that great:

1. The Opposite (Season 5, Episode 22)

The gold standard. George begins doing the opposite of every instinct he's ever had, and immediately turns his life around. He introduces himself to a beautiful woman by saying that he's unemployed and lives with his parents and boom, she is immediately taken to him. Perhaps even moreso when he refuses her offer to come upstairs after a date. This also leads to George getting his job as assistant to the traveling secretary for the Yankees, forever altering the course of Major League Baseball history.

Meanwhile, Elaine has fallen on hard times thanks to her being kicked out of her apartment and Pendant Publishing losing the merger because her mouth was too full of jujyfruit (who hasn't been there) to tell her boss he forgot his handkerchief.

This episode really has it all. Jerry being Mr. Even Steven, Kramer's coffee book tour taking him to Regis and Kathy Lee where we get to see him kiss and then spit coffee all over her, Elaine buying jujyfruits before rushing to the hospital after hearing her boyfriend got into a car accident (again, can't blame her).

But more than anything, this episode has the best sitcom character of all time doing what he does best. A true masterclass in evening television the world may never see again.

2. The Soup Nazi (Season 7, Episode 6)

One of the more famous episodes, of course best known for its "no soup for you" tagline. But it offers a lot more. Jerry and his girlfriend are overly affectionate and it bothers George to the point where he can't hang out with Jerry and eventually says something to him, which leads Jerry into tricking George into being affectionate with Susan. It's great.

Elaine gets denied soup and then finally gets the best of the Soup Nazi when she finds old recipes in his armoire.

Obviously it is most famous for the no soup for you line, but underneath there is a wealth of good storylines.

3. The Hamptons (Season 5, Episode 21)

The gang goes to visit friends in the Hamptons, and hijinks ensue. First Kramer, Jerry and Elaine see George's girlfriend topless before he does when he goes to buy tomatoes, then Kramer illegally poaches lobster traps.

Jerry's girlfriend Rachel catches George undressing and his, uh, shrinkage, leading her to tell George's girlfriend about it. George's girlfriend humiliates him by driving back to New York in the middle of the night.

With everyone enjoying the lobster, Rachel reveals she can't have any due to her keeping kosher (sidenote: I had no idea shellfish was a part of keeping kosher until I saw this episode.) and while she really wanted a taste, she decided she would have regretted it for the rest of her life.

What makes this episode so great is the payoff. George finally gets the best of someone, an occurrence far too rare in Seinfeld. George makes fantastic scrambled eggs in the morning, and then after Rachel tells him how much she likes them, he reveals they were made with lobster. Awesome.

4. The Deal (Season 2, Episode 9)

Anyone who has had an attraction to another person has probably been in this situation. Jerry and Elaine decide to be friends with benefits, and lay out some certain groundrules:

a. No calling the day after

b. Spending the night is optional

c. No kiss goodnight

George, somehow, is the voice of reason and predicts they'll get in trouble. And in trouble they get when Jerry decides to leave one night because he is having surgery the next day.

Things come to a boil when for Elaine's birthday Jerry gets her $182 cash while Kramer gets her a bench she's wanted. They decide to break up and for awhile it looks like they won't be friends anymore.

Fortunately they decide that they would not only be friends but they would keep dating. Elaine, however, stays mad at George a bit because Jerry told him he had to get her half as good a present as he did, so George gets her $91.

5. The Comeback (Season 8, Episode 13)

Kramer gets terrified of being in a coma, Jerry gets a new tennis racquet from a tennis shop worker who ends up being terrible (and then offers Jerry his wife as payment for him not saying anything) and Elaine has a phone relationship with Vincent of Vincent's Picks at the video store. Of course, Vincent ends up being a high schooler.

The main story centers around George, who gets gotten by a colleague in a meeting after George eats a lot of shrimp. The colleague, Reilly, tells George "the ocean called. They're running out of shrimp." To which George thinks up the comeback "Well the jerk store called, they're running out of you." The problem is that he doesn't come up with this comeback until after the meeting.

George schedules another meeting, but Reilly has taken a job in Akron, Ohio. George does the only sensible thing and schedules a meeting with Firestone (where Reilly works) in Ohio. He finally gets to try out the line, and Reilly rebuts him with a "what's the difference? You're their all time best seller!" George borrows a suggested line from Kramer and tells Reilly that he had sex with his wife. Then, tying into Kramer's story line, Reilly's boss reveals that Reilly's wife is in a coma.

The episode ends with George thinking up another great rebuttal on his way home "yeah, well the life support machine called...." and wheeling around to go back to the airport to tell Reilly.