Offseason amusements

Football:

GhostofBigRoy has another strong wrap-up this time of Mack thoughts about spring practice. There is a lot to digest from it including:

Aaron Williams handling punt returns. Given his lateral quickness and top-end speed I think this is a good move and it gives Aaron Williams a chance to surpass Aaron Ross as "greatest all around athlete" in the pantheon of Texas defensive backs.

John Chiles' move inside to slot receiver and continued slimming down back to freshman shape is encouraging. There was a time when Chiles looked like one of Texas' most explosive weapons and the coaches were always trying to find ways to get him on the field. That passed into a period of Chiles becoming one of the least explosive players on the field and the coaches still trying to use him to where we are today. I think he might have some Henry Melton in him...I'm climbing on his bandwagon...there's plenty of room here folks.

The coaches comments about Vaccaro and Scott don't lead me to believe that seeing them as a starting tandem is altogether the most likely scenario. They seem to still be growing into players that can handle the system. I'm still rooting for at least a Brewster-Scott secondary because I'd rather not see Gideon on the field in a big game again. He's an obvious target and is limited in what he can do effectively. Paired with Earl Thomas he was effective but brought back closer to the action with Scott I'm not expecting to see 6 interceptions but more shoddy run support and a lack of intimidating presence.

Basketball:

Damion James showed up on the All-American 3rd team, a small consolation prize for the early exit and the talk he generated in the 17-0 beginning as a national player of the year. Of course, I'm not up for making a case for him over anyone on the 1st or 2nd teams and his presence on the list as one of 4 Big 12 players is a nice accomplishment. Best of luck to him in the draft.

There could be an entire blog devoted to ridiculing the stupidity of Dan Shaughnessy. For all I know there is such a blog, but I'll join bloggers everywhere in describing his recent ranking of Tim Duncan as being roughly just inside the greatest 20 players of all time as being the work of a barely sentient being.

He lists "off the top of his head" 10 players he thinks are better. Namely:

Wilt Chamberlain: fair enough, but the fact that he listed Wilt first isn't a good sign, Bill Russel, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Shaquille O'Neal (questionable), Michael Jordan (barely on the top of Shaughnessy's head), Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Oscar Robertson, Jerry West and Bob Cousy.

I'm hard pressed to find a reason why Bob Cousy would be listed above Tim Duncan, I don't think it's outlandish to consider Duncan amongst the likes of O'Neal, Robertson, West and Cousy, the exclusion of Duncan from this list can't be based on actual skill on the court, only legend. Then Shaughnessy continues with a few others he thinks of before Duncan:

Kobe Bryant, Julius Erving, Lebron James, Elgin Baylor, Hakeem Olajuwon, Charles Barkley, Karl Malone, Kevin McHale, Bob Petit, Moses Malone, John Stockton, Isaiah Thomas.

I'm less convinced that this is Dan's list of players better than Duncan so much as being a list of players he's heard of. I've never seen a ranking of power forwards that included Barkley, Malone or McHale above Tim Duncan. It's simply ridiculous, he anchored better teams than Stockton and Malone combined.

There are those in this world who think Kobe Bryant is one of the greater basketball players in the league's history and those of us that don't enjoy Nickelback. If you are in the first group I'm not inclined to convince you to join the rest of us. Shaughnessy makes his argument by listing all the famous players he's heard of, making a case that Duncan is better than he had previously been aware, and then pointing to Duncan's own humility on the subject...case closed. Well done Shaughnessy.

Geekdom:

For all the history geeks and buffs out there "The Deadliest Warrior" is on it's way back with several new matchups. There are a few that particularly interest me.

Commanche vs. Mongol: Two of history's most menacing horsed archers. The Mongols feasted on a Europe/Middle East that hadn't yet realized the benefits of infantry equipped with missile weapons while the Commanches practiced horsed archery at a level that was beyond what early muskets could compete with and the Mongols destroyed everything with the recurve bow. They probably represent the 2 best warriors of that class. I'm betting on Mongol metal technology carrying the day here but Apache overcame that edge against Gladiator last season.

Persian Immortal vs. Celt: You saw the immortals in "300" however in real life, as you may have guessed, they were not orkish monsters but a division of 10,000 that would be recruited to remain at that number. Celt is a broad term that could encompass several different tribes over a few hundred years. If they give the Celts the long sword that some tribes used I give them the nod. The east never produced a lot of elite heavy infantry and the Immortals weren't armoured much more heavily than your average Gaul. The Spartans went through them like Tiny Gallon through a Pluckers all you can eat tenders night.

Attila vs. Alexander/Vlad the Impaler vs. Sun Tzu: I'm not sure if this means individually or in tactics. Alexander is known for his Macedonian Phalanx but he was a cavalryman when he rode into battle. In tactics it's a pretty exciting new scope for the show that could provide another season's worth of matchups. I like Vlad over Sun Tzu and Attila over Alexander (how does the phalanx and inferior Greek Cavalry deal with horsed archers?).

Without football games to dissect it's an amusing past-time to turn to the more violent contests of the all-time greats. It would be interesting if the show took on the task of actually determining which warrior, for his time at least, was actually the most dominant.

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