It seems as if you can’t be a key player for the St. John’s Red Storm unless head coach Steve Lavin has suspended you for at least one game for mysteriously violating team rules. Last year guard D’Angelo Harrison missed the last few games of …
“The ooooonly reason that I decided to come to Brooklyn was to win an NBA championship!” future Hall of Fame forward Kevin Garnett declared to the press at Nets media day on Sept. 30. He was speaking as well for his fellow ex-Celtics, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry, who came to Brooklyn in the big trade that occurred last June.
But based on what we’ve seen in the first three weeks, the Nets look to be far from a lock to make the NBA playoffs, let alone win a championship. Garnett seems to be a shell of himself as he has had trouble putting the ball in the basket while rookie head coach Jason Kidd has gingerly limited his playing minutes. The same can be said of Pierce and Terry. While it is understandable that Kidd wants to be careful how he utilizes his older players to avoid injury, they will not shake off the rust unless they start playing more minutes.
Don’t look now, but the Giants, who started the season by losing their first six games, have now won three straight after beating the Oakland Raiders 24-20 at MetLife Stadium last Sunday.
The game was not as close as the score indicated. While Giants QB Eli Manning had an average day for him in terms of passing statistics, he did not have to do much as running back Andre Brown came off the injured reserve list to rush for over 100 yards.
The Jets enter their bye week, which is just a shade over the halfway mark of their NFL season, with a 5-4 record. They are certainly not an elite NFL team, as their 49-9 defeat at the hands of the Cincinnati Bengals two weeks ago proved, but they have also shown resiliency by beating the NFL perennial powerhouse New Orleans Saints 26-20 last week. And that score did not even reflect how dominant the Jets were in that game.
If you had told most Jets fans during the preseason that their team would be 5-4 in early November they probably would have hugged you while crying tears of joy. The conventional wisdom was that Jets head coach Rex Ryan was sure to be fired by new general manager John Idzik at the end of the season. As much as Jets fans had come to loathe QB Mark Sanchez over the last two years, the feeling was that the team would be lucky to win two games once it was learned that he would miss the entire 2013 season with a shoulder injury. It was asking a lot to expect rookie quarterback Geno Smith to win NFL games right out of the starting gate.
It took three years and over a billion dollars but the top-to-bottom renovations of Madison Square Garden have finally been completed. The Garden truly has the feel of a brand-new arena, not one that was built in 1968 and had some modifications made to it.
A lot has been written about the pair of pathways known as “The Chase Bridges” located near the Garden’s ceiling, which allow patrons to walk from the 31st Street side to the 33rd Street side and back without missing any of the action. They are an architectural wonder as they are virtually undetectable looking up from the courtside seats. You have to climb up a few stairs from the Garden’s ninth floor, known affectionately as the “blue seats” since back in the day, to get to these bridges. Amazingly, the bridges don’t block the vision of anyone sitting on the upper level.
The Big East conference has undergone some seismic shifts in the past few years as it has seen many members, such as Syracuse University, Boston College, the University of Miami and the University of Pittsburgh, bolt for the greener TV and licensing grass of the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Last year, the Big East, which has been home to St. John’s University since the league’s formation in 1979, underwent its biggest reorganization as the seven Catholic universities without football teams — St. John’s, Seton Hall, Georgetown, Marquette, Villanova, Providence, and DePaul — broke away from the nonsectarian schools that do, such as Louisville, Rutgers, and the University of Connecticut. The football schools are now in a conference called simply The American, while the basketball-only colleges retain the Big East name. The new Big East added Xavier, Creighton and Butler to make it a 10-team league.
The Jets entered last Sunday’s game with the then 0-4 Pittsburgh Steelers with a surprising 3-2 record although in fairness all three of the wins weren’t decided until the final minutes of the game and the results could easily have swung against Gang Green.
Rookie quarterback Geno Smith, who was pressed into the starting role when Mark Sanchez was lost for the season after injuring his shoulder — when the Jets third-string offensive line could not protect him in the fourth quarter of a meaningless preseason game with the Giants — and was forced to have surgery on it, is not ready for a high-profile NFL starting spot. But the Jets have no choice but to hope he can learn quickly on the job. He has shown flashes of brilliance, but on Sunday he reminded Jets fans of his predecessor when he threw a pair of interceptions when the Jets appeared to be driving for touchdowns in the their 19-6 loss Sunday.
Although it was a foregone conclusion that Mets ace pitcher Matt Harvey would need Tommy John surgery to repair damage on his pitching elbow and miss the entire 2014 season, many Mets fans on social media, along with a good number of sportswriters, reacted as if they had just learned that the sky was falling. You would have thought these folks were expecting a parade down the Canyon of Heroes next November if Harvey were part of the Mets rotation in 2014.
The success rate for Tommy John surgery is reportedly over 90 percent. Given Harvey’s competitive nature, which probably breeds the arrogance that I wrote about a couple of weeks ago, I fully expect him to be as good, if not better, when he returns to the mound in 2015.