A Nonsensical Winter Classic Matchup in 2015

This morning, news broke that the Washington Capitals and the Chicago Blackhawks were going to play each other in the Bridgestone Winter Classic on January 1st, 2015 in Washington D.C. (Sad Trombone) For good reason, a lot of people on twitter didn’t like it. It’s not often I agree with people on twitter but they are all right. This is a bad matchup.

Here’s some reactions to the news:

Who cares?

The Blackhawks and the Capitals aren’t rivals, they aren’t perennial powerhouses (well, Chicago is). It’s not like these two teams have even been matched up in the Stanley Cup Playoffs before (which would be the Stanley Cup Finals). They haven’t played a game against each other where it has gotten heated between the two, probably because they aren’t in the same division let alone conference. Who cares? Probably no one, because when these two teams play each other, the games mean practically nothing.

What about the Rangers, Flyers, Bruins or Penguins?

The Capitals vs the Rangers would have made a lot of sense. The Rangers and the Capitals have been matched up in the Stanley Cup Playoffs four out of the last six playoffs. 18 of the 26 playoff match ups between the now rivals have been decided by one goal. Washington won the first two series’ in 2009 and 2011 while New York won the last two in 2012 and 2013. Regular season games have become important wins for both sides and their fan bases. The Rangers and the Capitals are currently in the Metropolitan division so a Winter Classic matchup would have division implications. The two cities are merely 226 miles apart and both fan bases have the backing to afford the tickets.

After Braden Holtby got senselessly attacked by Ray Emery last season in a 7-0 Capitals route in Philadelphia, who knows what this matchup would have brought between the two teams and their fans. Historically speaking, the Flyers and the Caps have seen their fair share of on ice antics in the past. The Flyers and the Capitals have also seen each other in recent playoffs history and they are in the Metropolitan division. Again, division implications would be on the line. 139 miles are between D.C. and Philadelphia.

The Bruins aren’t in the Metropolitan division so there wouldn’t be division implications in a Winter Classic matchup, but, the Capitals game 7 overtime winner from Joel Ward in 2012 has ignited some things between the two teams and their fans. You can relive the moment here (sorry Bruins fans). The racist comments that were made to Joel Ward from Bruins fans might also have something to do with it.

I understand not having the Capitals play the Penguins as they played in the Winter Classic four years ago in Pittsburgh. Regardless, a Capitals vs Penguins Winter Classic in Washington D.C. would have gained a much better reaction and fan interest then Caps vs Hawks.

Washington really wanted a Winter Classic and they got screwed.

In 2011, when the Capitals and the Penguins played in the Winter Classic at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Gary Bettman made a commitment to Capitals owner Ted Leonsis to get a Winter Classic in Washington D.C. Little did Capitals fans know it was going to be a snore of a matchup between two teams that have no relation to each other.

Baseball Stadiums DO NOT make good venues for ice rinks and here is why:

The rink will go from right field to left field. The outfield seats will allow fans to have an ice level view of the rink up close. However, those tickets will be more than you will want to pay. First row seats behind home plate are amazing seats for a baseball game but the same can’t be said for the Winter Classic. You’ll be at ice level and thus won’t be able to see above the boards. Not to mention, the rink will be too far away to see anything. You’ll pay lots of money for those seats, but you’ll probably be freezing you ass off and watching the game on the jumbotron. Save your money and watch the game at home with lovable Pierre McGuire and learn everything possible about players family members and their junior careers.

Seriously Gary Bettman, why you do dis?

Big Eyes

Follow me on twitter @whirschsports.

Comment below to tell me what you think!

West Virginia crushes 11th ranked Iowa State at home

A first half 12-0 West Virginia run allowed the Mountaineers to jump out to an early lead and never look back.

West Virginia (15-10, 7-5) trailed No. 11 Iowa State (18-5, 6-5) 14-13 5:03 into the game. Then, over the next 5:02 West Virginia took an 11 point lead on the Cyclones with 9:55 remaining in the first half, and the Mountaineers took it to the Cyclones from there on out.

The Mountaineers bench outscored Iowa State’s bench 27-15 but at one point late in the 2nd half was outscoring the Cyclones bench 19-0. West Virginia also outscored Iowa State 19-12 in points off turnovers.

Four different Mountaineers players scored double digit point totals on the night. Most notably, Remi Dibo added 20 points for West Virginia which was a career high for the first year Junior. Dibo also added another career high tonight hitting  six three pointers, going 6-8 from three point range.

“I felt comfortable. I felt like I wasn’t going to miss anything,” said Remi Dibo.

“He’s always been able to shoot the ball since day one. Great shooters have great nights,” said Juwan Staten about Remi Dibo.

Juwan Staten added 19 points, 9 assists, and 7 rebounds narrowly getting a double-double and triple-double.

The Mountaineers finished the night shooting 53.8% overall and 59.1%  from beyond the arc which helped to allow West Virginia to score a season high 102 points.

“You tell me, we just beat two out of three ranked teams and we have the fans behind us again,” said Staten.

Bob Huggins also had a lot of very positive things to say about his team after their performance tonight.

“They are good guys. That’s what this state is. It is a whole bunch of people that get up everyday and go to work. Their leg hurts, their arm hurts, whatever. They go to work. That’s what these guys have done.” said Bob Huggins.

West Virginia finally beats a ranked opponent

In the midst of a 16 game losing streak to ranked opponents, West Virginia was narrowly able to grab a 91-86 win at home versus the 21st ranked Oklahoma Sooners.

Eron Harris hit the game tying three pointer with 24 seconds remaining in the game to tie the game at 81.

“I put the ball up in the air and in went in for me. Whether I thought it was going to go in or not,” said Harris.

“I shot it because I had to shoot it. The play was for me and we needed a shot. I was hitting and I shot the ball,” Harris continued.

Eron Harris nailed two of three from beyond the arc in overtime and finished the game 6-13 from three point range. Harris scored just two points in the first half but scored 26 in the second half and overtime to end the game with 28 points.

“Tonight Eron got hot and we rolled with it,” said Juwan Staten.

Staten lead the Mountaineers in the first half finishing with 13 points. Staten, West Virginia’s go-to scorer, started out 0-6 in the second half and was held to just four points.

“I knew that they would come out and make some changes in the second half because I had a good first half. I just had to come out and play smart. I tried not to come out and force anything but looked for the shots that were open and tried to look for my teammates to get them more involved. I knew if they were going to factor in on me so much they had to give something up,” said Staten.

After leading by as much as 14 points and ending up in overtime and defeating a ranked opponent for the first time, Sophomore Terry Henderson called tonight’s win, “a dream come true.”

“I think we are playing great basketball,” said Henderson.

West Virginia is riding a three game winning streak which has improved the teams record to 14-9 overall and 6-4 in Big 12 play. The Mountaineers will hit the road and take on the 8th ranked Kansas Jayhawks at Allen Fieldhouse this Saturday.

“We are going to go in there with high enthusiasm and punch them in the mouth early,” said Henderson.

Juwan Staten; a star in the making

The second largest crowd of the season at the Coliseum was treated to quite a show from junior guard Juwan Staten. A career high in points and some ankle breaking moves wowed everyone.

Staten’s 35 points today versus Kansas State is a career high for one of the Big 12’s statistical leaders in almost all offensive categories. Staten shot 8-13 including 1-1 from three point range. 18 of Juwan Staten’s 35 points came at the free throw line as he went 18-21 from the free throw line. Staten also provided a great assist on a Terry Henderson fast break alley-oop at the 10:09 mark in the first half.

“It felt great to give them a taste of their own medicine,” said Staten after the game.

“They embarrassed us down there at Kansas Sate. They did a lot of laughing, joking and celebrating. It got to us,” Staten continued.

Staten’s career high 35 points, five assists, and four rebounds lead West Virginia past Kansas State 81-71 at home. West Virginia improved to 13-9 overall and 5-4 in the Big 12 behind Juwan Staten’s performance.

“He wants to win,” said head coach Bob Huggins about Juwan Staten. “The kid cares, he works, he puts time in. He studies film. He wants to be a really good player.”

The complements from his head coach didn’t stop there either.

“He has turned into what a lot of the other guys that I have had that turned into really good players. He’s in early, he stays late. He’s the kind of guy that you hope has success because he has earned it,” said Huggins.

“I don’t know that I have ever had anyone else like him,” said Huggins.

Before today’s game, Juwan Staten averaged 17.2 points per game and was shooting 52% on the year. Staten leads the Big 12 in assists per game (6.0), assists-to-turnover ratio (2.98) and minutes played as he averages 37 minutes played per game. He played 38 minutes today.

This won’t be the last time people talk about how good Juwan Staten is. Staten, a junior, will be leading a much more experienced West Virginia basketball team for another full season. That alone has to frighten Big 12 coaches and put a big smile on Bob Huggins’ face.

Marcus Smart; college basketball’s Lebron James

When Marcus Smart decided to return to Oklahoma State after a phenomenal Freshman season on April 17th, 2013, many thought it would be a good thing for him and college basketball. Now, more than halfway through the 2013-2014 campaign, his childish antics are hurting his reputation.

Smart lead the Oklahoma State Cowboys to a 24-8 record in 2012-2013. He averaged 15.4 points , 5.8 rebounds and 4.2 assists per game during his Freshman campaign. He helped lead the Pokes to 3rd place in the Big 12 behind Kansas and Kansas State. Behind Smart’s great play, Oklahoma State received a 5th seed in the NCAA Tournaments Midwest region. They were promptly eliminated by the 12th seeded Oregon Ducks in the first round.

Marcus Smart wasn’t just praised for his offensive skills in 2012-2013, he also recorded a Big 12 leading 99 steals averaging 3 per game. The 6″4 220 pound Smart also ended the season with 22 blocks.

Smart started off the 2013-2014 season by being named to the Pre-season All Big 12 Squad as voted by Big 12 coaches.

So far in 2013-2014, most people are talking about Smart’s flopping and childish antics on and off the court:

That “Marcus Smart Flop Counter” was brought to you by twitter user Matthew Gaylor:

He also tweeted out this adding to the notion that Marcus Smart’s antics extend deep into his family:

Even Fox Sports Southwest’s columnist and TV analyst David Ubben isn’t too fond of Marcus Smart’s new reputation.

Marcus Smart flop versus Oklahoma on 1/27/14

Marcus Smart is still a tremendous player and probably will always be. He will still be drafted very high in the 2014 NBA draft. However, his new reputation isn’t about how good of a player he is, it’s about how he has become a notorious flopper. His impressive stats are now being overlooked and his draft stock may very well be falling because of it. Oddly enough, ESPN has removed the clip of Marcus Smart taking his frustration out on a chair on the Oklahoma State bench versus West Virginia on January 25th, 2014. I suspect he was “advised” to send out this tweet after the Pokes game versus West Virginia and it wasn’t by his own intuition:

and this:

As if things couldn’t get worse for Marcus Smart and his new found reputation, his Wikipedia page has a whole section about his flopping.

West Virginia Sweeps Texas Tech

With a 87-81 win over Texas Tech, West Virginia completed its season sweep of the Red Raiders.  Much of that is impart to Terry Henderson‘s new career high of 28 points. Henderson lead the Mountaineers shooting 5-6 from three and 10-13 on the night.

“I played with confidence. I think I came ready to play. I knew we needed this win and I did everything I could to help our team,” said Henderson.

However, West Virginia’s Terry Henderson wasn’t the only hot shooter tonight.

Dusty Hannahs of Texas Tech shot 7-7 from three and 8-9 overall on the night but could not get help from his teammates. Hannahs, a career 37 percent three point shooter upped his career average tonight with an impressive perfect performance from beyond the arc.

However, it wasn’t good enough to lead his team past the Mountaineers.

“He made shots. He made some shots that you would normally say, ‘let him shoot that.’ He had a heck of a game,” Huggins said.

“I like that he had six assists and no turnovers,” said Texas Tech head coach Tubby Smith. “I liked the way he played tonight. He’s a great three point shooter,” Smith added.

With tonights win, the Mountaineers improved to 5-1 all time versus the Red Raiders. West Virginia’s only loss coming in last years Big 12 tournament’s first round. The last time these two teams saw action versus each other West Virginia won 89-86 in overtime on January 6th.

The last two times West Virginia faced the Red Raiders, the Mountaineers were hit with a technical foul. In fact, two were called against West Virginia’s Matt Humphrey and Aaric Murray in the 2013 Big 12 Tournament first round loss to the Red Raiders. Juwan Staten received a technical in Lubbock, Texas earlier this year. The Mountaineers were able to end that trend tonight.

West Virginia started off the game on an 8-0 run in the first 2:37. Eron Harris and Terry Henderson each added three pointers in that start. West Virginia started the game 6-6 from beyond the arc. The first Mountaineers missed three pointer came 9:10 into the game.

Texas Tech countered with a 16-0 run over a 4:59 span from 12:54 to 7:55  left in the first half giving Texas Tech a 26-20 lead. The Red Raiders only missed three pointer of the first half came at 14:56 left.

Helped out by Terry Henderson’s 2-2 start from three in the 2nd half, West Virginia again started out hot with a 7-0 start in the first 2:01 of the 2nd half. Unlike other games where the Mountaineers saw an early second half lead, this time around they were able to hold on to get the win.

“They won. That’s all that matters,” Said a very blunt and disappointed Hannahs after the game.

Oklahoma State Hangover

Coming off a disappointing late game loss to No. 11 Oklahoma at home, West Virginia couldn’t find a way to put the disappointment past them. Following tonights 80-69 loss, the Mountaineers have dropped two straight games at home dropping their record to 10-7 overall and 2-2 in Big 12 play. The frustration continued to show.

“I didn’t think coming into the game that the Oklahoma State game would wear on us as much as it did but that tends to happen where you play a game like that, that is so emotional,” said West Virginia Guard Juwan Staten. “We just couldn’t do anything right tonight,” he added.

Even with his teams struggles, Staten continues to produce. Staten was 9-14 from the field and finished the game with 23 points, 5 assists and 2 steals while playing all 40 minutes. While still playing well, the Junior also continues to prove he’s the leader of this West Virginia squad on and off the court.

“There is no doubt that it’s frustrating. I’m not going to get down on my teammates though. I’m the leader of the team and I’m going to take a lot of responsibility for that…I’m not going to throw my team under the bus,” Staten said.

Tonight the Mountaineers struggled from beyond the arc. In the first half West Virginia shot 1-7 (14.3%) from three point range and 3-18 (16.7%) in the 2nd half, going 4-25 (16%) for the game. Most notably, Eron Harris went 0-7 from three. Not too far behind, Terry Henderson went 1-6, Nathan Adrian went 1-4 and Remi Dibo went 2-7.

“When the three point shot is going well for us we can ride with it. When its not we have to find something else to do. We rely on three’s to bring us back and we kind of dig ourselves into holes. I think we need to get shots closer to the rim,” Staten said.

Head Coach Bob Huggins said all his players intend to play in the NBA in the future but added, “As we know they play 82 games in the NBA and if you play in the playoffs its 100 games. When those guys are done they go run on the treadmill to make sure they are in shape after they play 40 some minutes and they fly from city to city. Its not like they play at home, have a day off and then play at home again. They all want to do that but by god, this is hard? When our season’s over they haven’t reached the all-star break. We are talking about 30 some year old guys in some instances. If they can’t do this I don’t think they will play in the NBA.”

Strong words from Head Coach Bob Huggins is not out of the ordinary in tough losses. However, those words prove the frustration that has built up for this young West Virginia squad. Things don’t get any easier for West Virginia either.

The Mountaineers take to the road to face Kansas State who previously upset Oklahoma State to start off the Wildcats Big 12 play. After two devastating losses to Oklahoma State and Texas at home, the Mountaineers could very well fall to 10-8 on the year and 2-3 in the Big 12 if they don’t find a way to fix their shooting and defensive woes before Saturday’s game.