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UC IRVINE ANTEATERS

LSU’s Regional win is in the books and it’s now time to turn attention to the Tigers’ very worthy Super Regional opponent, the California-Irvine Anteaters.

Like I said in yesterday’s post, UC-Irvine is not top-to-bottom as talented as LSU, but in a three game series, they can pose major problems to LSU because of a very solid pitching staff.

As a team, the Anteaters have a 2.88 ERA. And if you’re one of those who likes to play the “They didn’t play anybody” game, the Anteaters made it to the College World Series this past season with many of these same guys throwing the balls and strikes.

As a team, eight UC-Irvine pitchers have ERA’s below 3.25, a mark that I am sure is close to leading the nation.

This team is also no strangers to Louisiana, having played a three-game series in New Orleans against Tulane in March, winning two of three ballgames, while limiting the Green Wave to just six runs combined in the three-game set.

As a staff, the Anteaters have held their opponents to three or less runs in 30 of the team’s 57 games.

The horse of the Anteaters’ staff is junior right-hander Scott Gorgen, who is 11-3 with a 2.31 ERA in more than 100 innings pitched.

Sophomore Eric Pettis has anchored the UC-Irvine bullpen throughout the season, recording 17 saves with a 1.65 ERA in 43.2 innings.

The weekend rotation is not set in stone and a lot of things can change, but I suspect UC-Irvine will throw these three guys this weekend in Baton Rouge (I’m sure the order will probably be wrong)

Friday: Jr. RHP Scott Gorgen (11-3 2.31 ERA)

Saturday: Soph. RHP Bryce Stowell (8-2 2.77 ERA)

Sunday: Soph. LHP Daniel Bibona (9-3 3.03 ERA)

So as you can see, there is not a lot of breathing room and the Tigers bats will need to be crackin’ if the team wants a shot to win this series, but as we have seen the past few weeks, this LSU team can defeat anyone in the nation.

NBA FINALS PREVIEW:

So far, we have broken down the PG’s and SG’s in the Finals, so today, I will take a peek at the SF’s.

Lakers: Lamar Odom

14.2 pts, 10.6 rebs and 3.5 assists per game

Celtics: Paul Pierce

19.6 pts, 5.1 rebs and 4.5 assists per game

Lamar Odom is a legit third option and has weaved the Lakers through several tough spots throughout the season, but the Celtics get their first “win” in this matchup. Paul Pierce has had a “mini-Kobe” season, in that he did not know if he would be a Celtic 12 months ago, but despite the off-the-court issues, Pierce has thrived in his 10th season in Boston, especially in the playoffs where he took everything LeBron James dished his way and delivered a 12th round knockout blow to King James.

Odom will cause problems to the Celtics, because Boston may not have a defender other than Kevin Garnett who can match his wirey frame, but at the same time, the Lakers may not have anyone other than Bryant who will be able to defend Pierce’s slashing ability.

For the Lakers to win the series, they will need 15 pts and 8 rebounds a game from Odom, but for the Celtics to win, they will need superstar numbers from their captain.

Big Advantage: Celtics

Tomorrow, I will break down the Power forward matchup in this series, while breaking down the UC-Irvine hitters, while taking a look at some of the Super Regional matchups.

Happy Monday,

Casey

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With a 6-11-1 record some 6 weeks ago, all of the experts predicted LSU would be at home for this coming weekend’s Super Regionals.

While the experts predicted the Tigers would be spectators, they will rather be participants, following an 11-4 win over Southern Miss, moving LSU into next weekend’s round of 16 play.

LSU will now take on UC-Irvine, who won the Lincoln Regional this weekend.

Over the course of a season and up and down a roster, LSU is a much more talented club than Irvine is, but in a three game set, the Anteaters are a tough out, because they have very solid and steady pitching.

Leading the way for LSU again was their one-two punch of Blake Dean and Matt Clark who each had big extra-base hits to spark LSU’s 11 run output. Michael Hollander added four hits for the Tigers and Leon Landry poked an opposite field home run for his fifth of the season.

The most impressive thing about Sunday’s win was that it (like the entire winning streak), came against superior competition. LSU raked many of its insurance runs off the Golden Eagles All-American closer Tyler Conn to put the game away.

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The Finals tip-off on Thursday and it is now time for part II of my Finals preview. Let’s take a look at the shooting guards in the series.

Lakers: Kobe Bryant

28.3 pts, 6.3 rebs and 5.4 assists per game

Celtics: Ray Allen

17.4 pts, 3.7 rebs, and 3.1 assists per game

On paper, this looks a lot closer than it actually is. I know people in Louisiana are maybe a little Anti-Kobe, because of his battle with Chris Paul for MVP, but please… Stop It. Kobe is not one the current Most Valuable Player, he is one of the Most Valuable Players of all-time. In the Lakers recent series with the Spurs, Kobe was the team’s anchor on offense, picking and choosing his way to five stellar games against possibly the league’s best defender in Bruce Bowen. The Lakers are the only team in the playoffs to be undefeated at home and are also the only team to win a road game in each of its three series’ and that is directly due to Bryant.

Allen, on the other hand, has been on-and-off throughout the playoffs. The UConn standout has just three 20 point playoff games, but has a whopping five games in which he was held in single digits.

Bryant also trumps Allen on the defensive side of the floor where he is an All-NBA First Team Defender.

Kobe is the game’s best player; Allen is just an average shooting guard who has worn down as the season has gone on because of his old-age

Big Advantage: Lakers

What to watch tomm: Keep an eye on baseball Regionals as they will all be wrapping up tomorrow. At writing time, Tulane is trailing Florida State in Seminole land, so if that score holds up, the Wave will be fighting for their season tomorrow afternoon. SEC regular season champion Georgia will also play a winner-take-all game against Georgia Tech.

In other news, 21-year-old Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt broke the world record for the 100 m dash this weekend, sprinting the race in 9.72, breaking the previous record of 9.74 by fellow Jamaican Asafa Powell. I think Bolt’s feat comes at a great time for the sport and can hopefully bring people’s eyes away from the recent Marion Jones and Tim Montgomery scandals with the Olympics on the horizon.

Hope you all have a great Monday. I will be breaking down UC-Irvine pitching tomm, as well as Part III of the Finals preview.

-Casey

P.S. Get well soon, Skip.

The dream keeps on…

Thanks to sharp hitting from sluggers Matt Clark and Blake Dean, as well as dominant relief pitching from Louis Coleman, LSU was able to extend its win streak with a blowout win over Southern Miss on Saturday night. The Tigers will return to the field tomm night to take on the winner of a 1 p.m. game between the Eagles and UNO who defeated Texas Southern today to advance to that game.

LSU will have to be beaten twice to be denied a spot in the Super Regional, and I just don’t see it happening folks. With a fresh bullpen, consistent starting and dominant slugging, this LSU team will be poised to make a return trip to Omaha (in my eyes).

The biggest dilemma for LSU is whether or not to use Jared Bradford in tomorrow’s close-out game. The Cox Sports television announcers said it was a “no-brainer” to use Bradford, but I disagree. I would prefer to start a lesser-known in Sunday’s game with the option to use Bradford in relief, so the Tigers can also have him available for Monday’s game if necessary.

If LSU used Bradford as a starter on Sunday and loses, then they are left with a true freshman as their closer in an elimination game on Monday and that is potentially bad news.

In other news, Skip Bertman was hospitalized with an apparent heart attack Saturday afternoon. I do not know the details, so I will not even begin to speculate on what is or isn’t going on, but I can say that the Skipper is in the prayers of many LSU fans and in the minds of all baseball fans across the globe. I would like to wish him a full recovery.

Street fighting mogul, turned MMA hustler, Kimbo Slice fought on national TV tonight and well…. he did exactly what I expected him to do: Win and be unimpressive in doing so. Slice is someone who belongs in a circus tent and not in an organized fighting scene and once he accelerates in his development and fights more folks who are big and strong like he is, they will do like his opponent did tonight and take him down and wear him out.

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The NBA Finals are 5 days away, but yet, this Lakers/Celtics matchup appears to be a dousy on paper. In the coming days, I will break down the matchups at point guard, shooting guard, small forward, power forward and center, before making a prediction on the series.

Point guard:

Lakers– Derek Fisher:

11.7 pts, 2.1 rebs, 2.9 assists per game

Celtics– Rajon Rondo:

10.6 pts, 4.2 rebs, 5.1 assists per game

The Fisher/Rondo matchup will be a tough one and will be tough to call. Fisher is a more efficient offensive player and is a far better shooter, but Rondo is a very steady defender and is a more “true” point guard. But when push comes to shove, Fisher has 3 championships and Rondo is just a mere 22 years young with just two years NBA experience.

Advantage: Lakers

Stay tuned tomm for the shooting guard preview.

Happy weekend folks. The weather is gorgeous here. Hope the same can be said for your neck of the woods.

Feel free to comment with questions/suggestions or to email any questions/suggestions to me at cgisclair@yahoo.com. I will make it a point to answer all of them in the blog. I want my readers to have equal say as to what goes on here as I do. )

-Casey

P.S. Congrats to a friend of mine, Erica White, who scored a career-high 13 points Friday for the Houston Comets. Keep on keeping on, Erica!