SportsNet - November 2012
Manchester City, trailing United by a point in the title race head to the DW Stadium to take on Wigan Athletic. It was a surreal day for Mancini on Sunday, much of the focus was on Rafa Benitez taking the helm at Chelsea and the hostile reception he faced. It was a dull affair at Stamford Bridge, Mancini believed his side had done enough to win it. But on the balance of play, it could have went either way.
When we talk about championship teams, we often talk about the best players on that given team. For example, the San Antonio dynasty in the first decade of the new millenium has kept its nucleus of Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, and Tim Duncan together for what, 10 years now? Guess what? They're still topping the standings at the end of each season. So what separates a team like the Spurs, Celtics, Lakers, or even the newly formed Thunder powerhouse? Let's consider the Kings roster, an equally talented team that certainly has the potential to make deep playoff runs, if not capture the championship in its entirety.
Tottenham Hotspur can maintain the pressure on rivals Arsenal and Chelsea in Wednesday's English Premier League clash with Liverpool. Andre Villas-Boas' men are seventh on the table after snapping a three-match losing streak with a 3-1 win over West Ham United on Sunday. Tottenham are equal on 20 points with north London rivals Arsenal and four points behind fourth-placed Chelsea, who occupy the final Champions League berth.
The Liverpool fixture is Tottenham's second of three Premier League games in the space of seven days, with a London derby at Fulham to follow on Saturday. Villas-Boas is likely to continue with Jermain Defoe up front after the England striker netted a superb brace against West Ham. "He's enjoying his football," Villas-Boas said. "When we see strikers of this nature, their anger for goals is exactly what you want and request from a striker. I couldn't ask for any more. "His desire and hunger are immense. He works hard and lives off scoring. He's having a great season."
One down. Three to go. And it's just getting started.
Kentucky, Arkansas, Tennessee and Auburn all relieved their head coaches of their duties. Following not-up-to-par years, each program methodically and quite expectedly made a change at the top of their respective football programs.
Kentucky was the first to announce that Joker Phillips would not return next year and they have been the first to announce a replacement. Florida State Defensive Coordinator, Mark Stoops (yes, that Stoops - brother of successful Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops and not so successful at Arizona Mike Stoops) will take over a program that has not been competitive since Rich Brooks brought them to back respectability, they were 2-10 this year and 0-8 in SEC play. Stoops is unproven as a head coach and it is yet to be seen if he can turn the program around. But if Vanderbilt can win eight games, there is no reason to believe that the right person couldn't turn Kentucky into a perennial winner.
Now that Coach D’Antoni is on the Lakers’ bench, he better be ready for the challenge. The Lakers’ experienced a few rough patches with D’Antoni including losses to the Sacramento Kings and Memphis Grizzlies. On Saturday, the Lakers unleashed their frustrations on the Dallas Mavericks, defeating them in a blow-out game from start to finish 115-89. The pace of the Mavericks game, the method and the balanced scoring is more to Coach D’Antoni’s liking but they are not where he wants them yet.
Despite D’Antoni’s knee rehabilitation and recovery he is already pacing the Los Angeles Lakers coaches box trying to activate his system while encouraging and challenging a team that is championship or bust, championship or nothing. This is a strong challenge for only the brave at heart or a coach who knows what it takes to win it all.
When NBA coaches are evaluated earnestly, there will be positives, negatives based on wins, losses, the evaluator’s perceptions and the truth. For really successful NBA coaches their wins outweigh their losses, which generally results in them receiving good perceptions marks from management and others with some truth mixed in.