Thursday, June 28, 2007

Durant Deserves to go FIrst

By: Ryan Killian

I'm going to turn my back on the congregation real quick and deliver a short sermon to you, the choir.

Kevin Durant should be the first pick in tomorrow's NBA draft.

You've seen what I've seen, haven't you? That glorious jump shot he'll drain from anywhere on the court, that majestic one-handed dunk. He's the best talent to come out of the college ranks in years, and his place atop the NBA draft is only in doubt because taking a seven-footer with a real inside presence first is just common sense.

Durant defies this prevalent theory, though. From a young age, he learned how to play the game by not playing much at all. He engaged in monotonous drill after monotonous drill and became one of the most well-rounded, skillful 18-year-olds the game has ever seen.

We all know how good Greg Oden can be. The question is, how good can Durant be? No one's really sure. He still hasn't filled out that 6-foot-10-inch frame. Oden might be the safe pick, but have some faith. Durant will be very good, and he just might be one of the best ever.

The pro-Durant position seems to be picking up steam at this late juncture - I think I've even heard some mumbled affirmations from the pew-sitters behind me - and new analysis by stat guru John Hollinger further strengthens this position. I'll spare you the details, but according to him, not only is the former Texas star heads and shoulders above Oden - in a strictly figurative sense, of course - he's far above any collegiate product of the last five years.

He hits threes. He makes blocks. He snares rebounds. Anyone can look up the stats and see that.

I sat almost under the basket, on the floor as Durant scored 25 points in the first half against the Kansas Jayhawks. When he scored 37 more against KU during the Big 12 Tournament, I was there.

If Portland's front office saw what I saw, they'd have a hard time passing over the teenager who made history in NCAA Basketball by winning just about every outstanding player award possible - as a freshman.

If there's anything he lacks in talent - and I'm not sure there is - he makes up for it with desire. Who's ever said that about Oden? Who wouldn't want to say it about a guy on their team?

I get the feeling he hates losing more than he likes winning, and a player like that demands respect.

God help the Trail Blazers if they slight this ultimate competitor. For he will strike down with great vengeance and furious anger those who attempt to underestimate him.


Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Durant graces EA Sports cover

By Ryan Killian

Good news, Texas fans. You haven't seen the last of Kevin Durant playing basketball in a Longhorns jersey. In fact, he could be here for another four seasons, if you so choose.

You think I'm lying?

Run out and buy the "NCAA March Madness '08" video game when it's released, and there he'll be, right on the cover. Play the game - and your dreams can come true except this time, maybe Durant can get the Longhorns into the Sweet 16 and beyond.

While it seems the Portland Trailblazers will pass over Durant and select Ohio State's Greg Oden with the first pick of Thursday's NBA draft, Electronic Arts Inc. made no such mistake.

The company announced yesterday that Durant has been selected for the cover, meaning that Texas will be the first university to grace two EA Sports game covers at the same time: Vince Young is the "Madden NFL 08" cover athlete.

"A lot of great players have been chosen to be on the cover of EA Sports video games, and it is an honor to be in that company," Durant said. "When I see it on store shelves, it is really going to hit home that it's me on the cover of 'March Madness 08.' I'm going to be first in line to buy all the copies to hand out to all my friends."

At 18 years old, Durant is the second-youngest athlete selected by EA Sports to represent a game, behind then-16-year-old soccer phenom Freddy Adu. So it's safe to say that plenty of his friends will be eager to get a copy of the company's latest title.

The 6-foot-10-inch forward joins a group of UT alumni with mixed subsequent success.

Durant is the fourth Texas alum on an EA Sports cover. Young was the third, while Texas third baseman David Maroul was selected for "MVP 06 NCAA Baseball" after being named the 2005 College World Series Most Outstanding Player, and Ricky Williams earned the nod for the "NCAA Football 2000" game after winning the Heisman Trophy in 1998.

While great things are expected of Durant and Young, Williams has remained in the news only because of his struggles with the NFL and a marijuana habit he refuses to kick. Meanwhile, Maroul is hitting at a .205 clip and striking out too much for the San Francisco Giants' A club in San Jose.

I don't think Durant will get caught up with weed or struggle in the NBA's D-League. Instead, I expect him to follow in the footsteps Young is making right in front of him.

His "NBA Live" cover appearance could be right around the corner.

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Thursday, June 14, 2007

Rash of Arrests Plague Texas

Another week, another arrest for Texas football.

Robert Joseph's arrest Saturday marked the second run-in with the law this month for Longhorn football players. Defensive end Henry Melton was arrested on June 1 and charged with driving while intoxicated.

Joseph's charges? Burglary of a vehicle.

He's no longer with the team, at least. Shortly after being suspended, he announced that he'll transfer.

Something's not getting through to these guys. They know they have a bull's-eye on them every time they get on the playing field. What they don't realize is that the same bull's-eye is there when they show up on a police blotter.

They represent the University of Texas just as visibly as the school's highest officials, and yet time and again, they end up in jail.

Cornerback Tarell Brown was arrested twice while at Texas, with the first incident coming just days before the team's game against Ohio State. Backup Tyrell Gatewood was arrested with him, and the pair was held out of the game, which the Longhorns lost 7-24.

Remember Ramonce Taylor?

Of course you do. After scoring 15 touchdowns during Texas' national championship season, the all-purpose back was arrested for felony marijuana possession and eventually pleaded guilty. Like Joseph, he transferred, effectively ending what had once been a very promising football career.

While the regularity of arrests seems to be picking up, it's been a problem for a few years.

Last year's starter at running back, Selvin Young, was arrested in 2003 along with linebacker Aaron Harris - who was later arrested with Brown and Gatewood - defensive tackle Larry Dibbles and cornerback Edorian McCullough for marijuana possession. Those charges were dropped due to inadmissible evidence.

Even the almost-legendary Cedric Benson was arrested twice. First it was for drug charges in 2002, then for criminal trespassing in 2003.

They may not always be guilty, but they're putting themselves in a position to get arrested way too often. I really don't get it. It's possible to have fun and stay out of jail. I've been doing it since I got here.

Confrontations with the police occur, but cursing and insulting the cops is not the way to go, Henry.

And I respect anyone with an appreciation for guns, but falling asleep with a loaded 9 mm on your lap? That's just a bad idea, Tarell.

Last but not least, know if there's pot in your ride (or backpack), Ramonce, Selvin, Aaron, Larry and Edorian.

Whether or not the charges stuck every time - they usually didn't - they cast a damaging shadow on the program. Comparisons are already being drawn to the U, and that's just embarrassing.

The school's football team is supposed to make students proud, not make them raise a legal defense every time sports are discussed.

But for now, anytime someone asks me what's going on with Texas football, I'll have to plead the fifth.

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Monday, June 11, 2007

Notes and News

Eight teams will be in Omaha, Neb., this weekend for the College World Series, and not only will Texas be absent for the second consecutive year, but the Big 12 conference isn't sending a single representative.
Texas A&M lost in their Super Regional to Rice, and Oklahoma State was beaten 20-2 by Louisville.
UC Irvine, who eliminated Texas by beating them twice, extended their season for another weekend by sweeping Wichita State.

The Houston Chronicle's Joseph Duarte reports that Texas sophomore safety Robert Joseph will be transferring shortly after being arrested and charged with burglary of a vehicle.
It's hard to say why this keeps happening at Texas, but it's easy to see why they're trying harder and harder to recruit guys that will stay out of trouble. This rash of arrests and incidents should pass soon. If not, Texas will be the new U.

A total of 11 Texas players and six recruits were taken in the draft.
Quick rundown:
RF Kyle Russell — 4th Round (Cardinals)
3B Bradley Suttle — 4th Round (Yankees)
P Randy Boone — 7th Round (Blue Jays)
P Adrian Alaniz — 8th Round (Nationals)
P James Russell — 14th Round (Cubs)
P Joseph Krebs — 14th Round (Reds)
1B Chance Wheeless — 17th Round (Diamondbacks)
CF Nick Peoples — 19th Round (Cardinals)
C Preston Clark — 33rd Round (Cubs)
P Kenn Kasparek — 34th Round (Nationals)
IF Clay Van Hook — 45th Round (Mariners)

The six recruits:
P Brandon Workman — 3rd Round (Phillies)
OF Taylor Grote — 8th Round (Yankees)
OF Runey Davis — 11th Round (Pirates)
OF Kevin Keyes — 26th Round (Rangers)
P Garrett Clyde — 43rd Round (Cubs)
C Cameron Rupp — 43rd Round (Pirates)

It seems odd that the Rangers and Astros combined to draft only of them, Keyes by the Rangers. I think there's something to be said for nabbing the talent in your own backyard, but what do I know.

Oh, if you haven't noticed, Daniel Gibson is the man.

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Friday, June 08, 2007

Bodine Takes Sam's Town 400

On fresh tires, Todd Bodine spun out frontrunner Travis Kvapil with four laps to go, putting himself in first and setting up a green-white-checkered finish.
Bodine held on for the win, but many in the crowd were less than enthusiastic, booing him lustily.
While the veteran driver overcame early fuel trouble impressively, his victory was tainted for fans who felt he punted Kvapil out of the way. The incident was preceeded by a late caution during which every car on the lead lap except Kvapil pitted. Kvapil then, seemed to be a sitting duck on the restart and was tapped as he tried to block high, then low.
“I was going to give him the bottom and I was taking the top," Bodine said." All he had to do was stay down and take it, and he came up and blocked me so I went low and he came up and blocked me again and I hit him. I hate the circumstances, and I hate that it happened. But you've got to pick one lane. You can’t block them both. When a guy’s got a run on you, you’ve got to pick a lane and he didn’t."
Kvapil didn't blame Bodine for the accident. Instead, he was upset to see such a good truck wreck. After spinning, his Ford ended up coming back down the track and slamming into the inside wall.
"That's kind of what bums me out the most," he said. Our K&N Ford is tore up."
Despite the accident, he stayed on the lead lap and finished sixth.
Mike Skinner, who appeared to be reeling Bodine in, wound up second, while Rick Crawford, Ron Hornaday Jr., and David Starr made up the rest of the top five.
Hornaday Jr.'s fourth-place finish was probably just as disappointing as Kvapil's sixth place.
After dominating all night,— leading most of the races laps — Hornaday Jr. ran out of fuel in in the front stretch of Texas Motor Speedway's 1.4 mile track and had to coast to his pit stop.
"We just misjudged the fuel mileage," he said.

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Sunday, June 03, 2007

Rain Delay in Round Rock

Round Rock — The Texas Longhorns couldn’t UC Irvine’s seemingly inexorable march toward a Super Regional berth, but with flashes of lightning filling the sky and sheets of rain falling from it, the weather sure did.

The brief respite granted Texas could prove to be a lasting reprieve. Texas has exhausted its options on the mound, especially Joseph Krebs. Krebs has been brilliant, appearing in every game and leading the tournament in innings pitched with 9.2.

After working five innings and throwing 77 pitches earlier in the day against Wake Forest, the senior got back into action tonight, allowing only an inherited runner to score before getting the Longhorns out of a jam in the bottom of the sixth inning.

That run though, put the Anteaters ahead, and if Texas can’t come back, their season will end in the NCAA Regional once more.

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Texas Survives Wake

Round Rock — It took 12 innings and just about every available pitcher on Texas' staff, but the Longhorns beat Wake Forest 7-4 in the Round Rock Regional at Dell Diamond today.

The 7-4 victory lets Texas play again, but the cost may be unsurmountable. Centerfielder Nick Peoples is done for the year after breaking his collarbone making a spectacular diving catch in the first inning.

On the hill, Augie Garrido utilized James Russell, Joseph Krebs, Randy Boone and tonights project starter Austin Wood, meaning that he'll be severely limited against UC Irvine.

Boone and Krebs have both seen action in each of the first three games and it's doubtful they'll be available, while Russell has made a pair of starts. Wood, who only pitched one inning and earned his first save of the year, is still expected to pitch tonight.

While Texas led most of the game, a 3-run homer to tie the score at 4-4 with two out in the bottom of the ninth made it appear the Longhorns might not even be playing tonight.

"When something dramatic happens to you like happened to us, you usually lose that game," Garrido said.

Texas never lost their composure though, and after Jordan Danks singled to lead off the top of the twelfth, the nation's leader in home runs, Kyle Russell, laid down a sacrifice bunt to put him in scoring position. Chance Wheeless hit an infielder singer putting runners on the corners, and Bradley Suttle followed with a two-run double to the gap in right-centerfield. Another double, this one from Russell Moldenhauer gave the Longhorns a 3-run advantage, which Wood preserved in his only inning of work.

"Anything less than a real strong mentality and this game is lost," Garrido said.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Texas Falls, 3-1

Round Rock — Texas' starting pitcher Adrian Alaniz started slow, but got on a roll Saturday night at Dell Diamond, but he was overshadowed by UC Irvine's Scott Gorgen, who pitched a complete game and kept the Anteaters in the winner's bracket with a 3-1 victory at the Round Rock Regional.

Gorgen gave up a homer to Bradley Suttle in the third inning, but never lost his confidence and spun a gem. Despite pitching in front of the biggest crowd of his life and facing, what he termed as "the loudest roar."

The Longhorns were down by a run fter two batters and never caught up. Lead off hitter Taylor Holiday hit a triple and Ben Orloff followed with a single. But Alaniz bore down and only allowed one more earned run while pitching into the seventh inning.

Texas head coach Augie Garrido identified defense as the difference in the game, and he pointed out Anteater centerfielder Ollie Linton in particular. Linton robbed designated hitter Russell Moldenhauer twice, on liners into the gaps on either side of him. Both catches came with runners on.

Meanwhile, Texas had three errors including one which allowed a run. UCI finished the game without any gaffes of their own.

"They did not give us an extra base or an extra out the entire game," Garrido said.

Despite the loss, he is pleased with the team's attitude. Last year, the Longhorns failed to make it out of their regional, but he sees something different in this team.

"The difference is in attitude," he said. "This team has a different attitude and make up than last year's team."

Regardless of their mindset, winning the next three games and advancing to Super Regionals won't be easy.

Texas plays Wake Forest tomorrow at noon, and if they win, they'll be facing the Anteaters again — and ICU isn't lacking in confidence.

"We all believe, and we all know that we're going to be in the World Series," catcher Aaron Lowenstein said.

Garrido's been around a long time though, and he hasn't given up yet.

"We played the cards that we had, that were our best cards to play, and we lost the pot," he said. "But we didn't lose all our chips. There will be another day."

Devils' Rooting Interests Tonight Split

With yesterday's winners UC-Irvine and Texas squaring off at 6 p.m., Wake Forest players won't know until tonight who they'll play in tomorrow's elimination game.

But they have their preferences.

Aake Forest got into the loser's bracket on day one by losing 13-0, but right fielder Evan Ocheltree thinks Texas would be the bigger challenge, so he's hoping that the Anteaters keep to their winning ways.

"Personally, I'd like to take Texas," Ocheltree said. "I'd like Texas to lose tonight just because of the fact that we'd only have to shock the world once. After facing UC Irvine, I think we can take them. I know we didn't show it yesterday but now we've got a gameplan coming in to tomorrow, and I want to see Texas."

Starting pitcher Ben Hunter most likely won't get into tomorrow's game after pitching an 8-inning gem today, but he wants another chance at Big West conference's regular season runner-ups.

"I'd like to see Irvine again," he said. "Then again I also think we can beat Texas if we play our game."

Head coach Rick Rembielak made his position on the matter just as clear as his players.

"I don't care," he said.

Wake Forest eliminates Brown

Round Rock — I'm at Dell Diamond where the Demon Deacons just bounced the Bears 4-2 from postseason play. The game was a pitcher's duel with both starters going at least 8 innings. Brown's James Cramphin went 8.2 before things got interesting. With his team already trailing and a runner on first, head coach Marek Drabinski elected to bring in closer Will Weidig.

After Weidig's first pitch struck Ben Terry. Terry, who has been warned for standing too locse too first base by an umpire earlier this season, was awarded first. Drabinski, thinking the pitch was a strike, went out and made his case to plate umpire John Johnston. On his way back to the dugout, he stepped across the third base line and into fair territory to "fix a divot." Despite not saying a word to Weidig, crossing the line counted as a mound visit — his fourth of the game — and the closer had to be pulled.

"That's baseball, and that's the way life goes," Drabinski said.

Things got even stranger when the next pitcher, Peter Moskal, also hit a batter with his first offering. Drabinski then pulled Moskal in favor of Anthony Vita. Vita then walked in a run and was replaced by Alex Silverman who also walked in a run before striking out Tyler Smith to end the top of the ninth.

Wake Forest's insurance runs came in handy as Jeff Dietz homered in the ninth off Josh Ellis to give the Bears their second and final run of the game.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Henry Melton Arrested

Texas defensive end Henry Melton got arrested last night. Of course, you probably still think of him as the running back that was supposed to be the next BIG thing, but that didn't work out so they switched him to the other side of the ball.

Melton was around 6th Street last night at 2:30 when an officer pulled him over after noting that his truck was driving in an unsafe manner, according to the AP

After being charged with DWI, he was taken to Travis County Jail, from which he was released after posting a $1,500 personal recognizance bond early this morning.

I was on sixth last night, just from about 2:10 a.m. to 2:40 a.m. because I was DDing for my roommates, and with the biker rally going on in Austin right now, there was just a weird, aggressive vibe that you could feel. Motorcyclists were busy reminding everyone why they're so annoying, and three cars drove in a tight circle around my truck parked at a gas station with the accelerators on the floor. I was hoping that at least one of them would have their back end whip around, and that they'd slide into the station's building, but I wasn't so lucky.

Anyway, all that to say that yes, Melton seems to have screwed up. But last night, any number of Austinites could have been arrested and in his shoes. Everyone was driving like they were three sheets to the wind.