No time to waste. Either that, or I cant think of something catchy to get into these quick points around our teams
By SAM MELLINGER
The Kansas City Star
Not bringing Branden Albert back has been the most likely scenario all along, and a fringe benefit of drafting Eric Fisher first overall last year and having Donald Stephenson around. Albert is the Chiefs best tackle, but the team knew going into the year he wasnt worth the $9.3 million he made under the franchise tag, and they also know he wont be worth the $11.1 million hed make next season under the tag. The Chiefs have a lot of bills that are about to come up, including their desire to sign Alex Smith long-term. Fisher and Stephenson are much cheaper, and if the Chiefs can use Alberts money in other spots (Justin Houston, if hes interested) its a move they have to make.
Of course, one of the consequences here is an even brighter light on Fisher. If his second half improvement was real and continues, the team should be fine. But if he struggles again like he did early (and if Stephenson has any relapses to the turnstile he was in the game at Tennessee) its going to be a long season.
Kansas City is getting an NHL team! Wait. Hold on. /reads Randys story/ Oh. Just an exhibition. Where starters probably wont play much. But at least theyre charging up to $153 for tickets.
Its been a while since weve been reminded about AEGs broken promises, so this is useful.
Dayton Moore still has a perfect record in avoiding arbitration with players, and no matter what he says publicly, this is part of a plan. Dayton will never say that, because theres nothing to gain in him doing so, but this has always been important to him. He values camaraderie, he values relationships, and a terrific way to undermine both of those things is to go into an arbitration hearing where your player sits and listens to you bash him in the name of saving some money.
The last case settled is Greg Hollands, and hes making $4.675 million, an enormous raise and hes earned every penny of it.
I have no reason to believe the Royals are thinking about this, but for all of Hollands successes, theyd be wise to avoid a long-term contract with him. The track record for closers not named Mariano Rivera is an abomination.
Kansas State beat Kansas in one of the more entertaining games youll see this season, just the fourth win for K-State in its last 52 tries against Kansas, and this truly is one of those moments that can define a season and impact tournament seeding and all sorts of things but well its just that
"For the rest of their life, they can remember this," K-State head coach Bruce Weber said after the game.
Weber said a lot of other things, like that he doesnt have to listen to when-are-you-going-to-beat-Kansas questions anymore, and its easy to understand the emotions. Self has been like a gorilla on Webers shoulders for years, even back to when Weber replaced Self at Illinois. He took over a wildly talented team, coached them all the way to the national championship game, and nobody ever gave him any credit because they were "Selfs players." Then he comes to K-State, and instantly, hes at the program looking up I-70 at Self.
So this is personal in a way for Weber that it wouldnt be for other coaches (and wasnt for Frank Martin, for instance).
But there was still a little bit too much Were going to Disney World! from Weber in the postgame.
If it ended Monday night (or, technically, early Tuesday morning), then no harm done. Sports are supposed to be fun, and if you cant enjoy the good times, then whats the point?
But this cant be it for K-State. And if theyre not ready to play at Baylor on Saturday, then the progress shown against KU on Monday will be cancelled out in some ways.
He really is a fascinating player, and only in part because of the hype. If we could create a make-believe world in which there was no hype, no expectations, then I think most people would see Wiggins as the guy averaging 16 points and 5.9 rebounds, the best defender on a top 10 basketball team as a freshman. But with the hype, I think a lot of people see a guy that, well, lets just be honest: hes not a combination of Michael Jordan, Wilt Chamberlain, LeBron James and a Cessna.
The fairest criticism of Wiggins, in my view, is that hes weak around the rim. He is 6-foot-8 with otherworldly athleticism. A terrific first step in a year where college basketball is giving players with good first steps an enormous advantage. But hes either not strong enough with the ball, or thinking too much about getting fouled when he gets close to the rim^.
^ I think teams are catching on to that, too. K-State fouled Wiggins approximately 83 times, and the gameplan worked.
But heres a startling statistic: Wiggins, with all of those gifts, is shooting 58.3 percent at the rim. The average for Division I players is 60.9 percent. Hes also taking just 37.3 percent of his shots at the rim, compared to 38.3 percent for all Division I players.
Which means, at least with these two metrics, the most athletically gifted player in college basketball is somehow slightly below average finishing around the rim.
Important game for Missouri tonight. The Tigers are the definition of a bubble team^, and play a bubble peer in Arkansas tonight at home.
^ ESPNs latest " Bracketology ," for whatever its worth, has Wichita State as a 1, Kansas as a 3 (in the same bracket) and K-State as a 7. It may just be too early for me with not enough coffee, because I dont see Missouri anywhere on the bracket but MU is listed under "last four in." So, whatever, its still mid-February. Bubble team.
Mizzou won at Arkansas a few weeks ago, of course, so this is a chance for a season sweep and put some separation between the two programs.
As it stands, Mizzou is 44th in Ken Pomeroys calculations, 48th in a reproduction of RPI, and 32nd in ESPNs BPI. You figure they need to get to at least 10-8 in the weak-sauce SEC to have a chance, and 12-6 to feel good about that chance.
Theyre 4-6 right now, which means not much room for error. The good thing is the hardest part of their schedule is in the past, but there are still three road games (including Georgia, which won in Columbia, and a season-ender at Tennessee).
These things are so hard to predict, especially a month out, but this is the kind of game that would be tough to make up for later.