Monday, November 10, 2008

Monday's Starting Five

1. Jamal Crawford. Yes, he is still a turnstile on the defensive end. But Crawford more than makes up for his flat-out offensive defensive deficiencies when he's shooting the ball. Crawford dropped 32 points on an undefeated Utah side yesterday afternoon as the Knicks outpointed the Jazz, 107-99, at the Garden. Before yesterday's tilt with the Knicks, 50 NBA players had taken the hardwood against the Utah Jazz so far this season, and just 3 of them had managed more than 20 points against Jerry Sloan's Mormon-backed boys. None of those 3 players had scored more than 24 points. And, then yesterday along came a Crawford and he rained down more points than any of them on the Jazz. He hit 5 three-pointers and even attacked the basket, like we all wish he would. In a game that quickly distinguished itself as a race to 100 points, Crawford made sure the Knicks reached the century mark first. Even though Zach Randolph's improved play and Stephon Marbury's lack of play garner the headlines these Knicks go as Crawford does. He's turned in clunkers (14 points/1 point) in the Knicks' two losses and averaged 25 points in the team's four wins.

2. Thomas Jones. His was the wrath smiting the Rams yesterday in the swamps at the Meadowlands of East Rutherford, NJ as the New York Jetropolitans put a 47-3 beatdown on the team from St. Lousy. The Jets running back from Big Stone Gap, Va. blazed his way through big gaps opened up by the Jets refurbished offensive line. Bowling over foes and beating would-be tacklers to the edge, Jones was looked like Jim Brown as he recorded 149 yards on the ground to go with his three TDs. After last year's season-to-forget, Jones is leading the AFC in rushing yards. Meaning, Jones has covered more ground for his team than any other back in the conference, including All-Pro pitchman and No. 1 Fantasy Football pick Ladanian Tomlinson. TJ has run for 750 yards and is breaking off chunks of the field at 4.7 yards-per-carry clip. He's also got 8 touchdowns, which is good for fourth among AFC backs. One stat (found over at the Worldwide Leader's .com) that the Mangenius should note is that Jones's teams have won the last 14 games when the RB has found paydirt. So, let's get this guy into the endzone on Thursday night up at Foxborough. Ok? Ok.

3. Matt Ryan & the Atlanta Falcons. Less than 24 hours after his alma mater dickstomped Notre Dame on ESPN, Matty Ice announced the arrival of the Atlanta Falcons as contenders in the NFC South by knocking off the in-fighting New Orleans Saints. The rookie signal caller has exceeded expectations and defied those who doubted him. He's 6-3 in his first nine games in the League. He's on the cusp of passing for more yards in a single-season than Michael Vick ever did and could potentially win more games in a single-season as well. His poise has helped turned the most woebegone NFL team into an example that should be followed by likes of Oakland and Detroit. Of course, for all Ryan's early success he does trail far behind Vick in rushing yards and animal cruelty.

4. Samir Nasri. Sometimes, when the wheels are off the tracks, when you're sleeping in a bed with a week's worth of your dirty laundry, only eating foods that are spoonable (soup and cereal) and you can't even muster the enthusiasm for shampoo there are ways in which sports can help. This is part of the reason that so many people cling to their sports teams. Because of the ways in which they can make a loser feel like a winner. It was one of those weekends over at WWOD? HQ and Mr. Nasri and Arsenal (who along with the Knicks, the Jets and Boston College football did their part) came through before breakfast on Saturday morning with a brace (that means "two goals") against bitter rival Manchester United. The young frenchman's first goal was an opportunistic long strike that took a wicked deflection as it bounded into the back of the net. And the second was the finishing move of a 16-Pass Build-Up by the Gunners. The play epitomized all that can be breathtaking about the way that Arsenal plays and provided the matchwinner as the North London club hopped Man U in the standings.

5. The Texas Tech offense. Aside from Oakley, I don't think anyone can defense this squad. They have scored 56, 39, 63, 43, 37, 58, 56, 43, 35 and 49 points in the games that they have played this season. From quarterback Graham Harrell's cadence to the center's snap of the football and all the way through to the seemingly inevitable Michael Crabtree touchdown this offense is indomitable. Harrell is almost never even moved a single step in a direction that he didn't choose or that the play doesn't dictate. The kid threw 50 passes and completed 40 of them on Saturday night against Oklahoma State. His team scored two touchdowns, like clockwork, in each quarter of the game. They've got a gargantuan test on the schedule, having to play away at No. 5 Oklahoma on Saturday, but right now Texas Tech gets the WWOD? nod as the top team in college football. I know that BCS/AP No. 1 Alabama won a SEC game against the Tigers of Louisiana State this weekend but I just can't reckon how TT isn't No. 1 in the polls. We all saw LSU almost beat Alabama while we saw Texas Tech continue to run roughshod over top-flight competition. Which means that we can all imagine a plausible way in which Nick Saban's Alabamans lose a game. After all, LSU's quarterback played like he took the under and laid money on 'Bama and his team still almost pulled it out. Conversely, I don't know how you outscore the Red Raiders out of Lubuck. With some use of the Konami Code, perhaps?