David Ambrozejczyk’s American Sports Column: Volume 9
Cleveland end record-losing streak; Celtics big in the East
You can bet that Cavs fans were hiding their faces in shame after their owner wrote a certain off-season letter about a certain player bolting for warmer climbs. That very letter looks even more foolish than it did previously after the Cavaliers finally ended a 27-game losing streak, an NBA Record for consecutive losses, with a 126-119 OT victory against the Los Angeles Clippers. Meanwhile at the other end of the spectrum, he who should not be named in Cleveland’s team, (aka the Miami Heat) lost out in the big Eastern Conference battle with the Boston Celtics, Kevin Garnett putting up 19 points to top score and Rajon Rondo notching a triple double (11 points, 10 assists, 10 rebounds). The Celtics remain top of the East and San Antonio (45-9) remain top of the West after an 118-94 demolition over the Washington Wizards.
Munchak takes the reigns in Tennessee
Tennessee owner Bud Adams didn’t need to look far as Jeff Fisher’s Offensive Line Co-Ordinator Mike Munchak has succeeded him as Head Coach. Munchak, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2001, has never held a head coaching position and will probably be seen as the safe choice for a team that is full rebuilding mode; the Titans are set to release starting QB Vince Young and Munchak’s first task will be to find his replacement. Murmurings coming out of Nashville are suggesting that veteran Kerry Collins will be the stop-gap option next year as they search for their Quarterback of the future; the Titans hold the 8th overall pick in the upcoming draft, where they will give serious consideration to taking Missouri’s Blaine Gabbert, considered by many as the best Quarterback in this year’s draft class.
Clowney signs for Gamecocks
Jadeveon Clowney, the nation’s top High School prospect, has ended weeks of speculation about where he will play his college ball by staying close to home and signing with South Carolina. Clowney made his decision in front of Family and classmates in his High School auditorium in South Pointe, S.C and cited proximity to family as one of the biggest reasons for his decisions, his Mother flanking him close by his side during the announcement on ESPN’s Sport Center.
Clowney was courted by almost every big school program but whittled his choices down to Alabama and Clemson before sticking with his gut instinct. It is another coup for South Carolina, who secured the signature of five-star running back Marcus Lattimore (1,197yards and 17 TDs as a freshman) at the same stage last year before going onto their most successful season in years, losing to now National Champions Auburn in the SEC Championship game. Clowney is likely to be pencilled in to start immediately, where he is still a physical freak at 6-6, 240lbs with lightning speed. What is most frightening perhaps is that Clowney is likely to add another 30lbs or so to his frame by the end of his first full season, bringing him in line to the dimensions of an NFL Defensive end with at least two years of college ahead of him – he will be 19 at the close of the 2011 season.
Newton shines in media workout
Highly touted Auburn Quarterback Cam Newton put his dazzling array of skills on show in a media-only workout this past week as he prepares for the upcoming NFL Draft. Newton ran through a number of scripted drills including taking snaps from under centre, footwork and work on the play action; Newton is emerging from a basic version of the spread system which he operated in Auburn which pales in comparison to an NFL team’s playbook. While his physical skills and intangibles are unquestioned, Newton is clearly trying to convince observers that he can run a pro-style system, to read complex coverage and see whether he can make split-second adjustments to his action on the run – much of what he is doing now is similar to that of Tim Tebow, who faced the same questions coming into the NFL this time last year.
Newton is projected to anywhere from the third pick overall (held by the talent-needy Buffalo Bills) to somewhere in the middle of the second round, depending on how his draft stock is affected by his Pro Day and his performance at the Scouting Combine. For the record, Newton does not have nearly as many questions hanging over his throwing mechanics as Tebow did – Tebow was selected at the bottom of the first round – Newton is further along the process of being a legitimate NFL passer, so for that reason, it isn’t too far fetched to imagine Newton coming off the board in the middle of the first round where there is a glut of teams in search of a franchise Quarterback (Tennessee, Minnesota, Washington, Miami).