KEVIN KOLB AT BEST: A BRIDGE TO THE FUTURE
WOLVERINES 2-POINT FAVORITE OVER ORANGE
MICHIGAN ‘S OFFENSE VS. SYRACUSE’S ZONE A CLASSIC MATCHUP
HICKOK BELT WINNER BOB TURLEY DEAD AT 82
I don’t believe Kevin Kolb is going to lead the Buffalo Bills to a playoff berth this season…or ever!
Kolb probably is just another in the long line of below-average journeymen quarterbacks the Bills have employed since Jim Kelly retired in what seems like about 50 years ago.
Kolb was selected No. 36 overall by Philadelphia in the 2007 NFL draft. He was the third QB chosen – behind JaMarcus Russell (No. 1 overall by Oakland) and Brady Quinn (No. 22 by Cleveland). Not much cause for optimism there.
Is Kolb better than Ryan Fitzpatrick? Maybe, but probably not.
Is he better than Tarvaris Jackson or Tyler Thigpen or Aaron Corp? We can only hope so.
Kolb has been inconsistent and injury prone in his six NFL seasons with Philadelphia and Arizona.
His career stats: 34 games…9-12 record as a starter…449x755 passing (.595) for 5,206 yards…28 TD passes…25 INTs… 78.9 passer rating…69x229 rushing (3.3-yard average) with 2 TDs and 20 first downs.
Kolb lost his starting job to Michael Vick in Philadelphia and former Arizona coach Ken Whisenhunt’s confidence in Kolb cost him his job.
In fairness, Kolb didn’t have a lot of help in Arizona. The offensive line made Buffalo’s OL look like the Great Wall of China. No QB in the league faced nearly as much pressure the last two seasons. He also had no top-notch running back , no elite tight end and only one stellar wide receiver (Larry Fitzgerald).
The Bills reportedly signed Kolb to a two-year deal worth a maximum for $13 million. That means he’ll likely have a big advantage in the “competition” with Jackson for starting QB, who signed a one-year, $2.2 million deal in February.
The main reason I like the addition of Kolb is that it probably means the Bills aren’t going to use the No. 8 overall pick in this month’s NFL draft to reach for a quarterback in a weak crop. I also think Buffalo views Kolb as a bridge to the “franchise” QB the team has been waiting for. He’s not the projected long-term solution to Buffalo’s major long-term deficiency.
I believe the Bills should use the No. 8 pick on the best available linebacker, their second-round pick on the best remaining wide receiver and one or two of the rest of the picks on quarterbacks. Buffalo might get lucky for a change.
NCAA MEN’S BASKETBALL FINAL FOUR ODDS
The odds to win the NCAA tournament (courtesy of LVH Superbook) – Louisvillw 10x13 (bet $13 to win $10)…Michigan 3x1…Syracuse 4x1…Wichita State 12x1.
Odds on Saturday’s semifinal games in Atlanta – Louisville favored by 10 1/2 points over Wichita State (6:09 p.m. start time)…Michigan favored by 2 points over Syracuse (8:49 p.m. start time).
MICHIGAN HASN’T SEEN ANYTHING LIKE SU’S 2-3 ZONE
The offensive-minded Michigan Wolverines will be a huge test for Syracuse’s 2-3 zone in Saturday’s Final Four showdown.
Ask the disappointed players from Montana, California, Indiana and Marquette if the Orange have a chance.
Here are some of SU’s impressive defensive stats through four NCAA tournament games:
Holding four opponents to 183 points – 45.75 points per game. Montana (34), Indiana (50) and Marquette (39) all had their lowest-scoring games all this season against SU in this tournament.
Holding opponents to a 28.9 field-goal percentage (61x211) and a 15.4 percent 3-point field-goal percentage (14x91).
The best way to beat any zone is quick ball movement to find wide-open hot shooters. SU has been doing a great job pressuring opposing perimeter shooters and forcing them out of their comfort zones.
SU coach Jim Boeheim has been lauding his players for playing stingy defense all season. The numbers back him up.
Here is how SU measures up against the best defenses in Division I (up-to-date stats):
Scoring defense – Stephen F. Austin 1st (allowed 51.2 points per game)…Syracuse 21st (58.6 points allowed per game).
Field-goal defense – Kansas (36.1 percent)…Syracuse 3rd (37.1 percent).
3-point field-goal defense – New Hampshire 1st (28.1 percent)…Syracuse 4th (28.2 percent).
Other reasons to like SU’s chances entering the Final Four:
The Orange are on a 7-1 role and have a strut in their step with renewed confidence,
They’ve been outscrapping and outhustling their opponents. That wasn’t the case when they were in a 5-7 slump (to drop to a 23-8 record) and often appeared listless and sometimes disinterested.
Boeheim kept his cool and his players have responded when it matters the most. SU now is 30-9 and this season is a success. One or two more victories would be gravy.
Sophomore guard Michael Carter-Williams is playing like an All-American and the lottery pick he figures to be in the June NBA draft. The growing pains appear to be over. He’s keeping his cool and playing under control. He hasn’t been reckless with the ball and his shot selection has improved. He’s working hard at the top of the zone. He was the NCAA East Region Most Outstanding Player and no one else was close.
Through four tournament games, opponents have 67 turnovers (SU has 43) and only 19 steals (SU has 44). Carter-Williams deserves much of the credit.
Brandon Triche appears to have his mojo back. He’s playing with a sore back and has to be an inspiration to his teammates.
James Southerland continues to be a steady 3-poiint threat (9x22 in the NCAA tournament) and helping on the boards.
C.J. Fair continues to be one of the most underrated players in college basketball.
Baye Keita is giving Boeheim quality time at the back end of the zone.
He’s earning himself big minutes for next season. A summer in the weight room and double portions at the chow line would help.
Jeremy Grant (40 minutes), Trevor Cooney (31 minutes) and DeJuan Coleman (15 minutes; 3 DNPs) haven’t seen much action. Another advantage of the zone is helping to keep players out of foul trouble. So far, so good.
YANKEES HERO BOB TURLEY DIES AT AGE 82: WON HICKOK BELT
Bob Turley, baseball’s best pitcher in 1968, died Saturday at a hospice in Atlanta. He was 82.
Turley was 21-6 with a 2.97 ERA for the New York Yankees that season. He had 19 complete games (honest), including 6 shutouts, in 31 starts.
“Bullet Bob” won the American League Cy Young Award and probably won the Rochester-based, $10,000 diamond-studded Hickok Belt over Jim Brown, Archie Moore and Johnny Unitas on the strength of his World Series heroics:
Game 2 – He started and lasted one-third of an inning as the defending World Series champion scored seven runs en route to a 13-5 victory and a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.
Game 5 – The Braves led the series 3-1 and the Yankees were on the brink of elimination. Turley responded with a five-hit , 10-strikerout, 7-0 shutout victory.
Game 6 – Turley came out of the bullpen with Milwaukee runners on first and third to record the final out in a 4-3 10-inning victory.
Game 7 -- One day later, Turley worked 6 1/3 shutout innings in relief and got the decision in a 6-2 Yankees victory for the championship.
Turley’s record in six seasons with the Yankees was 82-52 with a 3.64 ERA. His career record in the majors was 101-85 with a 3.64 ERA.
He was in Rochester’s for Tony Liccione’s Hickok Belt banquet last fall.
Pittsburgh Penguins star Sydney Crosby figures to miss the rest of the NFL regular season after jaw surgery Saturday night. Has he already clinched the Hart Trophy as the NHL’s Most Valuable Player? He has player in all 36 of Pittsburgh’s games this season and the Penguins (28-8-0) have the league’s best record and will enter Tuesday night’s home game against Buffalo on a 15-game winning streak. He leads the NHL in scoring by 10 points (56-46 over Steve Stamkos of Tampa Bay) and has a +26 plus-minus rating. Crosby has won the Hart Trophy only once (for the 2006-07 season).
The Buffalo Sabres had played 36 games – and 23 of them were decided by one goal…The Sabres were 9-14 in those games. The 9 wins included 4 in shootouts and 1 in overtime. The 14 losses included 4 in shootouts and 2 in OT.
I hope AHL Most Valuable Player voters will give Rochester Americans iron-man goalie David Leggio the consideration he deserves. He leads the league in wins and saves (by a huge margin)…Since the Les Cunningham Award (AHL MVP) began in 1948, only 7 goalies have won (a total of 10 times): Johnny Bower 1956, 1956, 1957; Denis DeJordy 1963; Gilles Villemure 1969 and 1970; Pelle Lindbergh 1981; Jean-–Francois Labbe 1997; Martin Brochu 2000; and Jason LaBarbera 2004).
The Amerks rank 10th in the 30-team AHL average home attendance (6,317( and are leading the New York State attendance derby:
Syracuse 5,388 (16th); Adirondack 25th (4,097); Albany 3,897 (26th); Binghamton 3,542 (29th). The AHL average is 5,649.
The Rochester Knighthawks are 21x42 (.500) on the power play and a National Lacrosse League-best 31x49 (.632) in penalty killing…For the second straight season, the K-hawks are getting crushed on faceoffs (63.1 percent to 36.9 percent).
Major League Baseball spring training leaders: Bryan Harper (Washington) .478 batting average…Michael Morse (Seattle) 9 HRs…Brandon Belt (San Francisco), Billy Butler (Kansas City) and Justin Upton (Atlanta) 19 RBI.
Miguel Tejada, 38, made the Opening Day roster of the Kansas City Royals as a utility infielder. He last played in the majors in 2011 and played two months last season with the International League Norfolk Tides, including a series in Rochester…Tejada was the American League MVP for Oakland in 2002. The A’s were the subject of the movie “Moneyball” . Amazingly, Tejada barely was mentioned in the flick.
Cheers to Newark’s Doug Kent for being inducted into the PBA Hall of Fame at a banquet in Indianapolis last Saturday night. Kent, 46, won 10 Professional Bowlers Association tour titles, including four major titles. He joined the PBA Tour in 1988 and earned more than $1.5 million. In 2009 voting for the 50 all-time greatest PBA bowlers, he was 43rd.
Tim McCarver will retire as a broadcaster after this season, ending a 55-year in baseball. His first pro season as a player was 1959, when he was a 17-year-old catcher. After hitting .359 at Class D Keokuk, he had a 17-game stint with the Rochester Red Wings. He hit .357 (25x73) with 1 double, and triple and one stolen base.
NCAA men’s tournament update (entering the Final Four) : Higher-seeded teams are 41-19 straight-up and 31-28-1 against the Las Vegas point spread…Las Vegas favorites are 39-21 straight-up and 30-29-1 against the spread…13 games were decided by 4-or-fewer points…Big East teams are 11-6 (including 4-0 Louisville, 4-0 Syracuse and 3-1 Marquette),
Two Rochester sports giants passed away last week. Don Murray was a long-time basketball coach at Charlotte and athletic director at East High. He was a prime mover in the development of the City-Catholic League and was a member of the Frontier Field Walk of Fame…Don Smith was a prominent long-time golf, baseball and assistant football coach at the University of Rochester.