The big news out of Baton Rouge today was the news that LSU pitching coach Terry Rooney will be leaving the Tigers following the College World Series to accept the head coaching position at Central Florida. I do not know much about Central Florida, but I do know the loss of Rooney will be a bitter pill to swallow for LSU.

Rooney oversaw a renaissance of LSU pitching this season as the team improved its 2008 ERA more than a run from its 2007 stat.

Rooney also was coach Paul Mainieri’s top recruiter and he was responsible for the Tigers hauling in back-to-back solid recruiting classes, including the nation’s best class a year ago.

But LSU is still LSU and Mainieri is a well-known man in the college game, so I suspect he will find another big fish and bring him to Baton Rouge.

__________________

So far this week, we have broken down for you all of North Carolina’s position players.

Today, we will begin to tackle the North Carolina pitching staff. As a team, the Heels sport a ridiculous 2.83 team ERA, which is unheard of in a sport where aluminum bats turn pop outs into home runs.

The Tar Heels bullpen does not contain a true “closer,” but depending on the situation, North Carolina has 4-5 guys they will turn to for the final three frames. We’ll take an in-depth look at their top three bullpen pitchers while giving a brief overview of their fourth and fifth arms.

Rob Wooten:

6’1 208 Senior RHP
6-2 1.80 ERA 4 saves in 55.0 innings pitched

Wooten is as close to a “closer” as the Heels have. He is beyond filthy with opponents having just a .179 average against him. The North Carolina senior is a strikeout pitcher having recorded 67 punch outs in 55 innings. LSU does not want to see Wooten in a situation where the team has to put together a multi-run rally.

Brian Moran:

6’3 188 sophomore LHP
1-1 1.99 ERA 2 saves in 45.1 innings pitched

Left-handed strikeout pitcher. Throws strikes with good velocity and has a 4.5-1 strikeout to BB ratio. He records roughly a strikeout and a half an inning on average, so opponents have a tough time putting the bat to the ball on the Tar Heels young left-hander.

Colin Bates:

6’1 179 red shirt freshman RHP
6-1 2.98 ERA in 51.1 innings pitched

Bates is a 6th and 7th inning guy for the Tar Heels and has been very efficient in his red shirt freshman season. Like seemingly all of North Carolina’s pitchers, he has a 3-1 K/BB ratio, so he forces hitters to bring the action to him and in more than 50 innings of work, he has only allowed one long ball.

Wooten, Moran and Bates are the Heels three most used relievers. Here are some other guys they may turn to for outs throughout the CWS in either spot-start or long relief situations.

Rob Catapano 5’10 172 sophomore LHP
4-0 3.11 ERA in 37.2 innings pitched

Patrick Johnson 5’10 170 freshman RHP
4-1 4.14 ERA in 41.1 innings pitched

Mike Faccinei 6’2 195 senior RHP
2-0 4.32 ERA in 25.0 innings pitched
_________________

The big story around the world of sports the past few days have been the allegations from former NBA Tim Donaghy that the league told officials to officiate games differently in certain playoff series in order to create a longer series and thus highest Nielsen ratings.

The two series’ in question are the 2002 Western Conference Finals between the victorious Lakers and the Sacramento Kings and the 2005 Western Conference Quarterfinals series between the Dallas Mavericks and the Houston Rockets.

Anyone who recollects either or these two series’ knows that something did not add up, and hell, something still does not add up.

In the 2005 series, Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy was fined 6 figures for saying that someone inside the league offices told him that the NBA instructed officials to officiate games differently when Yao Ming was playing.

At the time, it seemed like sour grapes from a coach getting his butt kicked, but now those claims may seem a little more accurate.

In 2002, the Lakers and Kings series was considered the NBA Finals by most as both teams were clearly the two best in the NBA. With the Kings holding a 3-2 series lead and holding a small fourth quarter advantage, the Lakers rallied thanks to 27 fourth quarter free throws, including 18 in the final six minutes of the game. The Lakers then proceeded to win Game 7 and then the NBA Championship.

I don’t know what happened and I don’t know the parties involved, but if it smells like a rat and it looks like a rat, then it must be a rat. The NBA has an officiating problem. A major officiating problem. It did in the 2002 playoffs and it still does now.

The root of the problem to me is not corruption or cheating or rigging games, but more so weak-minded officials who are influenced by home crowds and momentum.

In the Western Conference Semifinals, Western Conference Finals and then the NBA Finals, home teams have shot 589 free throws compared to just 440 for visiting teams. I understand the NBA purists point that home teams play more freely and more aggressively, so thus get calls, but give me a break. In the Finals alone, the gap is 107-60 in favor of the home team. It’s a slap in the league’s face to think that a home floor and 20,000 yelling fans has THAT much influence over a Finals that has such stars as Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce. I don’t buy it. And you shouldn’t either.
_______________

Golf’s second major championship kicked off yesterday and the best golfer of all-time (in my opinion), Tiger Woods, teed off for the first time in several weeks following left knee surgery.

Tiger started horribly double-bogeying the first hole thanks to a wild drive and arrant pitch shots. But the world’s Number 1 turned it around and got into red numbers before giving back another double bogey on 14 en route to a one over par 72 score.

Woods looked sharp on holes 3-13 or so, but scuffled a little bit down the stretch and that may have a little bit to do with his injury as he had not played a full 18 holes until yesterday.

Phil Mickelson also scuffled early and recorded three consecutive front-nine bogeys, but rebounded on the back and fired a level-par 71.

Justin Hicks and Kevin Streelman lead the tournament currently at -3, but that number is expected to keep falling and falling as the course hardens up as the week goes on. I expect the winning score to be level par or +1, and no, I don’t expect Hicks or Streelman to stick around.

I picked 5 favorites and gave 8 sleepers. Here is how my picks fared after 18 holes of play.

Five favorites:
1. Tiger Woods: +1 (T19)
2. Justin Leonard: +4 (T64)
3. Phil Mickelson: E (T12)
4. Sergio Garcia: +5 (T84)
5. Retief Goosen: +5 (T84)

Eight Sleepers:
1. Boo Weekley: +2 (T32)
2. Bubba Watson: +6 (T96)
3. KJ Choi: +3 (T50)

4. Miguel Angel Jimenez: +4 (T64)

5. Ian Poulter: +7 (T106)
6. David Toms: +5 (T84)
7. Rory Sabbatini: +2 (T32)
8. Colin Montgomerie: +8 (T117)

It was not a great day to be on my short-list. 🙂
Much more on this championship as the weekend goes by.

_______

For all intents and purposes, the NBA Finals came to a close tonight thanks to a whopping 57-33 second half in a 97-91 win to take a 3-1 lead.

The Lakers stormed out of the gates early taking a 20-point first quarter lead, but looked flat the remainder of the night thanks to a suffocating Celtics defense.

The Celtics Big 3 of Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett scored 20, 19 and 16 respectively, but the Celtics won the game with its defense on Bryant, limiting him to just 6-19 from the field and 17 points.

Lamar Odom had a 14 point first quarter, but the well quickly ran dry on the Lakers’ big-man as he finished with just 19 on the game.

With the Celtics battling double-digit deficits in the second half, Doc Rivers pulled Rajon Rondo and Kendrick Perkins (injury) out of the lineup and inserted the smaller Eddie House and James Posey and the Lakers could not matchup with the Big Green’s small lineup, sparking the big-time surge.

One can bet the Lakers will see a whole lot more of that lineup Sunday when the Celtics try to close out the series.

Gisclair’s Gamer of the Night:

James Posey:
18 points (4-8 from 3pt line)

Posey was huge in the Celtics’ run, hitting big shot after big shot to will the road team to its third win of the series.

Gisclair’s Goat of the Night:

The Lakers’ bench:

15 points, 6-21 shooting (outscored 35-15 by Celtics’ bench)

The Celtics dominated the end of the third quarter and took control of the game in the early fourth quarter thanks to its bench. Eddie House and James Posey sliced and diced the Lakers while Sasha Vujacic, Luke Walton, Jordan Farmar and Ronny Turiaf were unable to match their energy.

Advertisements