Archive for November, 2013

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Posted: November 29, 2013 by ebernsen2014 in Uncategorized

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It wouldn’t be right to let Thanksgiving go by without a preview of today’s NFL football games. As we all stuff our face of turkey today and have football on in the background, let’s take a look at today’s match-ups and what to expect. Even if you start to fall asleep from the food coma, at least you’ll have some idea of what’s going on!

Green Bay Packers at Detroit Lions (-6, 50)

The Packers have struggled greatly since losing star QB Aaron Rodgers to a broken collarbone injury earlier in the season. Green Bay needs a win to keep pace in the NFC North and are currently one win behind the Bears and the Lions. Matt Flynn will get the call for Green Bay today in Rodgers absence and the Lions definitely haven’t forgotten when he torched them for 6 TD passes in the 2011 regular season finale. While the Packers are win-less in the past 4 games, rookie RB Eddie Lacy has been a workhorse doing his best to carry the team without their star QB. The Detroit Lions have not been playing their best football lately as they have committed 8 turnovers in back-to-back losses. The offense looks great otherwise and the defense has been keeping opponents running game in check, but this team is prone to making stupid mistakes at any given time. Lean towards the Lions in this one as Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson give the fans a show.

Oakland Raiders at Dallas Cowboys (-10, 46.5)

The Cowboys are tied atop the weak NFC East and are off the momentum of a 24-21 road win against the NY Giants. They can keep the pressure on with a win today and Dallas has been a solid team at home with a 4-1 record. QB Tony Romo is a big reason why Dallas has been better at home and he has thrown 17 TD’s in six Thanksgiving Day games. While the offense is still inconsistent, having RB DeMarco Murray back to full strength will help in giving it some balance. The Raiders are 4-7 and undrafted rookie QB Matt McGloin will get another start as he has passed for 457 yards and thrown 4 TD’s in the past two games. With the injuries this team is facing, McGloin will have to be at his best today to go into Dallas and get a win. Lean toward the Cowboys getting another home victory, but the score may be closer than people expect depending on how McGloin handles the Thanksgiving Day national scene.

Pittsburgh Steelers at Baltimore Ravens (-2.5, 40)

Both of these teams started off very slow this season but they have regained their focus and have moved forward to be in playoff contention. The Steelers have won 3 games in a row as they travel to Baltimore in a game that could have major implications come playoff time. Pittsburgh defeated Baltimore earlier this year in a nail biter as the Steelers won with a field goal as time expired. The Steelers started 0-4 and no one had much faith in them after their awful 55-31 loss to the Patriots a couple weeks ago, but head coach Mike Tomlin has righted the ship and his team has come alive especially on the offensive side of the ball. QB Ben Roethlisberger has limited his interceptions and WR Antonio Brown is having a career year. Meanwhile, the Ravens are hoping to get to a .500 W/L record tonight in a game that will be played in below freezing conditions. QB Joe Flacco became the league’s highest paid player after the Ravens Super Bowl win, but he certainly hasn’t been playing like someone worthy of that contract, already throwing a career-high 14 interceptions. RB Ray Rice has also had a down-year and is no where near as dominant as we’ve seen in the past. Lean toward the Steelers in this match-up as I like the way they are playing recently…Baltimore will need to show some heart and play mistake-free football in order to get this win.

Here is a link to a tragic, yet very well written story by Eli Rosenberg of The Fader Magazine. The story centers around Pro Era rapper Capital STEEZ, who passed away around this time last year by jumping off a building in NYC. STEEZ was only 19 years old and arguably had the most talent out of everyone in the Pro Era group, even though the Cinematic label put their focus into Joey Badass. The details behind his death remained rather vague early on, but more and more is being revealed about the life and death of Capital STEEZ. This detailed account explains STEEZ’s background as well as the unfortunate events leading up to his death. Even though his suicide did not make the national news, hip-hop suffered a devastating loss when STEEZ took his life and will forever be remembered as another rapper who never got the chance to live up to his full potential. Click the link below, the story is well worth the lengthy read.

Capital STEEZ: King Capital.

Final Consensus: Happy Thanksgiving…be thankful for everything you have and don’t take life for granted.

It has certainly been a rough start to the season in Brooklyn as the Nets have lost 11 of the first 15 games. In the off-season, Brooklyn welcomed veterans Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to New York after their time had come to an end in Boston where they excelled for a number of years. Combining them with point guard Deron Williams and big man Brook Lopez, this was a team that had NBA Finals aspirations going into the 2013-2014 campaign. However, they have been far from championship contenders so far as they have struggled even in an Eastern Conference that overall has had a slow start. The Nets rank 22nd in overall offensive efficiency and have done nothing on the defensive side of the ball to make up for it.

Overall, there seems to be a ton of confusion with this new group and a lack of chemistry. The Nets are mostly scoring on isolation plays and are not sharing the ball effectively as a collective team. And although they have been plagued by injuries early on, it really isn’t an excuse for Brooklyn to be playing this badly. It seems that first year head coach Jason Kidd has not been able to rally his troops in order to correct these issues and, understandably, Pierce and Garnett are frustrated. But the two of them have not helped the cause as both are having a difficult time adjusting to their new home. KG isn’t hitting his mid-range jumpers and Pierce’s age is showing as he is nowhere near the athlete he once was. It is tough to predict whether the team can regroup and get back in playoff discussions, but we do know that they have a lot of work to do in order to get back in contention.

Final Consensus: Simply put, nothing is going right in Brooklyn. Pierce and Garnett don’t seem to have faith in Jason Kidd as a head coach yet. The injury bug has hit the team early on and the individual talent of these players has not translated into any kind of chemistry. The hype was at an all-time high in Brooklyn going into the season, but the come down has happened very quickly. Pierce and KG aren’t getting younger, so Kidd will have to grow up fast as a head coach and get the rest of his team to make up for their lack of productivity. In this Eastern Conference the Nets can certainly come back and be a playoff team come 2014, but it is hard to have faith in them to do so currently.

Fresh off the release of the Marshall Mathers LP 2, Eminem has unveiled the music video of “Rap God” which was one of Eminem’s successful singles. With other tracks like “Berzerk” and “The Monster” dominating the iTunes charts, MMLP2 officially went platinum last week and is the year’s second biggest release (in terms of albums sold) behind Justin Timberlake’s The 20/20 Experience.

The video itself is very well done in the fact that it does a great job of complementing the song. As Eminem shows off his technical and clever wordplay for over 6 minutes, the visuals keep up with him and his multiple references within the dense and jam-packed lyrics. There is an obvious Max Headroom influence throughout the entirety of the video, a famous 1980’s British character who was described as “the world’s first computer-generated TV host.” The scenes that recreated the rap battles in 8 Mile also provided some nostalgia and overall, the video was as fact-paced as the track itself and is definitely worth a watch.

Final Consensus: As mediocre as I thought MMLP2 was, I have always been a fan of this song. Eminem has and always will be a greatly skilled technical rapper…the man can bend words that aren’t supposed to rhyme and with the variety of flows he has it looks effortless. This is why I thought Rap God was a solid track as it was showing the world once again how talented Eminem is as a pure lyricist and emcee. The beat gets repetitive pretty quickly but for a song with only verses and no hook, I think it serves its purpose. The video was pretty impressive and will probably be the best one we get from the MMLP2 era.

Busta Rhymes and Q-Tip are two legends in the game and have been frequent collaborators ever since the early days of A Tribe Called Quest on standout cuts like “Scenario” and “Oh My God”. To be honest, I haven’t really been interested in anything Busta Rhymes has done musically in quite some time, but I was very pleased when he released “Thank You” a few weeks back. This track “features” Kanye West and Lil Wayne introducing their label mates (Q-Tip and Busta Rhymes) respectively, but no verses from the two which may have been a blessing in disguise. Their presence in the video was attributed to Busta Rhymes trying to put bed the rumor that G.O.O.D Music and YMCMB have “beef” according to an interview he did with MTV.

Busta Rhymes and Q-Tip match each other going back and forth in their rapid fire flows with a soulful sample from Alica Myers featured in the hook. The visuals are also appealing with random appearances from artists such as A$AP Ferg and Fashawn. The track is set to be on Busta Rhymes upcoming album E.L.E.2 (Extinction Level Event 2) and was produced by Busta himself. With the release also came an announcement that Busta Rhymes and Q-Tip are releasing a joint mixtape named ‘The Abstract and The Dragon” on December 12th.

Me & The Abstract aka @QtipTheAbstract in the lab finalizing #THEABSTRACTANDTHEDRAGON 12.12.13 #Staytunedpic.twitter.com/GicOUMrfyu

— Busta Rhymes (@BustaRhymes) November 27, 2013

Final Consensus: As I said previously, Busta Rhymes has released a lot of sub-par music in my opinion the last few years, so this song was a great surprise for me. Busta and Tip have always had great chemistry together so the upcoming mixtape should definitely be worth a listen. Was happy to see this released as a single and getting the exposure it deserves. Because as Busta raps in the song, when him and Abstract are together they deliver.

The past few days in the hip-hop world have been dominated by what I have called, “Yeezus Media Day.” Kanye West took advantage of his tour dates in NYC at Madison Square Garden and the Barclay’s Center to stop by powerhouse hip-hop radio stations Hot 97 and Power 105.1 for interviews. From the more light-heard conversation with long-time radio personality Angie Martinez to the more heated discussion with the legendary Sway Calloway, Kanye has always made his voice heard loud and clear. I will be doing individual recaps of Kanye’s Breakfast Club interview, his interview with Sway, as well as his appearance on the Juan Epstein podcast with Peter Rosenberg and Cipha Sounds later in the year because they are all “top 10” worthy (stay tuned). But since I have just started this blog, I am taking the opportunity to voice my thoughts on the message Kanye West has been trying to send to the people and to corporations in the Yeezus era. (more…)

It has been an exciting start to the College Basketball season as there have already been plenty of top-tier match-ups for us to watch. In one night alone there were at least 5 or 6 potential NBA lottery picks playing when Kansas took on Duke and Kentucky played Michigan St. However, one area that has been somewhat of a surprise is the Northeast, a region not usually known for its college basketball powerhouses. Let’s take a look at the teams that have been playing great basketball in the first couple of weeks, some who are still under the radar and others who are beginning to get acknowledged on the national scene.

UConn: No. 13 ranked UConn is an exception to the above having been an elite program for quite some time now. The Huskies are 6-0 to start the year and have some solid wins against Maryland, BC and Indiana in the beginning stages of this season. The most exciting of those was the victory over Indiana to win the 2K Sports Classic in Madison Square Garden. Guard Shabazz Napier had a huge game against the Hoosier scoring 27 points and impressing everyone in the building with his clutch shot making ability. Napier is one of those guys who is a game changer and has the ability to lead UConn to a potential Final Four this year. The Huskies have an experienced squad and head coach Kevin Ollie is coming into his own after being the successor to the legendary Jim Calhoun.

UMass: UMass has come out of the gates strong this year with a 6-0 record and have earned Top 25 National ranking (24th) after defeating Clemson and winning the Charleston Classic. Along with beating Clemson, the Minutemen have wins against a number of solid programs such as New Mexico, BC, LSU, and Nebraska. UMass has a veteran team that starts 3 seniors and 1 junior who play at a fast and pressuring pace which is tough for some opponents to handle. Senior guard Chaz Williams has been a standout along with Cady Lalanne who was named the tournament MVP this past weekend in Charleston. This team led by head coach Derek Kellogg is definitely for real and should be considered a serious Top 25 member.

Providence: The Friars are another team has is undefeated so far this season with a 6-0 record. The Friars are currently participating in the Paradise Jam tournament in Puerto Rico where they have already beaten Vanderbilt and LaSalle. They will take on Maryland tonight to see if they can advance to the tournament championship, which will be another big test. The team defeated BC earlier this season as head coach Ed Cooley has taken great strides with this program the past couple of years. Senior guard Bryce Cotton has been key man for Providence so far averaging 17.5 points. Keep an eye out for the Friars as they are primed to make some noise this year and may surprise some people come March.

Northeastern: Although the Huskies are only 2-4, they made some national news when they upset Georgetown in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off Classic after erasing an 11-point halftime deficit. Northeastern also just narrowly lost to Florida St. by a score of 62-60 in a game that came down to the last seconds. Scott Eatherton was named to the Tip-Off Classic all-tournament team and was the only player in the tournament to average a double-double. We will see how the rest of the season plays out, but head coach Bill Coen has to be proud of his team’s effort so far.

Harvard: Although Harvard has not faced the strongest of schedules this year, the Crimson are off to a 4-1 start this year as they hope to represent the Ivy League in March Madness. Harvard now has a reputation of being a “sleeper” team, so it will be interesting to see how they fare in the rest of their non-conference schedule.

Last night in Foxboro was a historic and frigid one, as the New England Patriots came back from 24 point deficit at halftime and defeated the Denver Broncos 34-31 in OT. The hype behind another classic Tom Brady vs. Peyton Manning match-up was fulfilled, but not in the way most people expected. The first half of the game was painful for Pats fans to endure as running backs Stevan Ridley and LeGarrette Blount couldn’t hold onto the ball while the defense had no answer for Knowshon Moreno. Peyton Manning was held in check due to the severe wind conditions at Gillette Stadium, but that did not stop Denver from gaining a commanding 24-0 lead at halftime.

Despite the embarrassing performance early in the game, there was no panic in the Patriots locker room and the momentum completely changed in the second half of the contest. The Pats scored 31 unanswered as Brady got in a groove with WR Julian Edelman who had a great night as all of the pregame chatter consisted of Broncos receiver Wes Welker and his return to Foxboro. The defining moment of the game came late in overtime as Welker chose not to fair catch a punt and the ball ended bouncing off teammate Tony Carter with the Patriots recovering with prime field position for kicker Stephen Gostkowski’s game-winning field goal. While some may have questioned Coach Bill Belichick’s decision to defer the coin toss and give Manning the ball first in overtime due to the wind conditions, it proved to be the right choice in what was the largest comeback in Patriots franchise history.

The dramatic victory had important playoff implications as New England maintains its one-game lead over the Cincinnati Bengals and Indianapolis Colts for a first-round bye. Tom Brady came through with his 39th career-game winning performance when down in the 4th quarter and improved to 25-5 when the temperature is 32 degrees or lower at game-time. Once again, Brady got the best of Manning in an insta-classic regular season game and we can look forward to a potential rematch in the playoffs.

Final Consensus: Wow. This had to be one of the best regular-season football games I have ever seen and one of the more improbable victories in Patriots history. Usually fans who leave early deserve to be ridiculed, but I don’t blame anyone who escaped from the misery that was the first half of that game. Before this game, teams that had trailed by 24 points or more at halftime were 5-485….think about that for a second. Everyone was wondering how the weather would impact the offensive attack of each team and it certainly made a difference. Although Manning is a Hall of Fame quarterback and one of the best ever, the guy does just not do well in the cold especially with a hurt ankle. It is not very often that you can turn the ball over the way the Patriots did and still come out with a win, especially against one of the best teams in the league. But New England is a team that never gives up and preserves one play at a time. Their schedule softens up for the rest of the year and the team should be in a solid position come playoff time. The Patriots are far from perfect and still have concerns they need to address…but they do enough to win and that is all that matters.

Derrick Rose Out Indefinitely, Tears Meniscus

Posted: November 24, 2013 by ericbernsen in NBA, Sports
Tags: , ,

Chicago Bulls star point guard Derrick Rose just cannot catch a break. Rose has been diagnosed with a torn medial meniscus in his right knee and will be out indefinitely after undergoing surgery on Saturday. Rose did not play for the entirety of the 2012-13 season due to a torn ACL in his left knee and this injury will be another setback for the guard and the Bulls. With the Indiana Pacers and the Miami Heat being the toughest competition in the Eastern Conference so far, Chicago had just been gearing up to put themselves among the elite as Rose was getting back in the swing of things. Although the Bulls are still in position to have some postseason success this year, the team has to be wondering about Rose and his long-term future. Rose is a game changer and a potential future Hall of Fame player, but there certainly will be some concern as to if he can return to form after suffering another serious injury. People from all over the NBA reacted today to the news, and as fans of the game we all wish him a speedy recovery.

Final Consensus: Although it could be easy to say this news will ruin the Bulls season, I am not so quick to arrive at that conclusion. The Bulls have played without Rose before and since the Eastern Conference seems to be extremely weak this season, Chicago will still be one of the most talented teams around come playoff time. The team is well-coached, experienced, and outstanding on the defensive side of the ball. These reasons alone should keep the Bulls in contention come spring. How Rose recovers from this setback is a different story, but we know he will give it his all to get back on the floor and play to the caliber we are used to seeing him at.