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Posted on: August 6, 2010 3:43 pm
 

Why Cody Zeller Can Put Butler On The Map...Again

Nationally recruited Senior Cody Zeller, from Washington High School in Washington, Indiana, has narrowed his school choices down to three; And what a top three they are.

Zeller, one of the Top 40 high school players in the country, has his mind locked on Indiana University, North Carolina, and Butler.(That's right I said Butler.) Not Purdue, not Notre Dame, not even Ball State. Butler, the school that most perceive as a school that can't land high profile recruits, are in a fight with the big dogs.

Sure, the Hoosiers have Tom Crean who is trying to turn the program around, and the Tar Heels have Roy Williams, (arguably one of the best coaches in the country,) and a winning tradition that is almost impossible to beat, but look at the Bulldogs!

Sure I'm a Butler fan,(sue me,) but with Zeller as an incoming freshman for the 2011-2012 season look at the roster the Bulldogs  would have.

Not only will star guards Ronald Nored and Shelvin Mack be seniors, but incoming freshman this season,(Kyle Marshall(Florida,) Eric Fromm(Indiana,) and Chrishawn Hopkins(Indiana,) will be built into the system and ready to make another post-season run.

Also Cody Zeller is a 6-11 center, guess who is going to be a junior during the 11'-12' season....Andrew Smith!

I know what your thinking...Who is Andrew Smith?

Nobody saw much of Smith this past season because the main sub, for when Matt Howard was in foul trouble, was Senior Avery Jukes.

At 6-11, and with Howard to mentor him this entire season, you would have two big men in the form of Zeller and Smith, dominating the board battles, and stopping any offense that tries to come inside.

Put into your mind the Butler Squad from last year, then take away Hayward and Howard, and Jukes, and add all the recruits,(plus Zeller,) and tell me what you get......

If your jaw has not hit the floor yet, let me give you an assist. Butler would have a power packed squad that can compete with big guys inside, like Brian Zoubek.

Zeller has a big decision and seems to be in no rush to make it.

He has told the Indianapolis Star,(Indiana's leading newspaper,) that a decision will not be made until he has visited all three schools this fall.

For those of you who still think Butler's run was a one time thing, and that players would never consider going there, I beg you; think again!

The 2011 recruiting class already consists of an AAU all-star from Chicago,(in Roosevelt Jones,) and 2 home grown recruits from Indiana, so it's not like Butler's recruting ways are not growing already.

Regardless, Butler Head Coach Brad Stevens knows how to recruit,and with the best record by a coach in his first three seasons (89-15) in NCAA History, he has something to back it up with.

The so called "little school that could" is back up against some of the top colleges, only this time Cody Zeller is the prize up for grabs, rather than an NCAA Championship.

So now we sit back and wait, watching how Zeller's senior year goes, and wondering how big of an impact his top three schools will make this season.

I am not sure about IU, or the Tar Heels, but if Butler can stay focused as only Coach Stevens knows, we could see yet another magical season from these Bulldogs.

That however is not the message you as readers should take from this article. The message that should be taken is simply this; the ball is in Cody Zeller's court.

If that ball lands in Butler's historic Hinkle Fieldhouse over IU's Assembly Hall or the Dean E. Smith Student Activities Center in North Carolina, the perception of the Bulldogs will change forever.

They will no longer be known as the Cinderella School that only gains players from suburban Indiana, or the school that receives a gifted player once every fifty years. Rather they will be known not only as the Mid-Major team to beat, but a Mid-Major squad that is not going anywhere...

But more on that later.

~James Cook Future Associated Press

Posted on: August 5, 2010 3:18 pm
 

Lance Armstrong: Indecent Or Icon?

 

A seven time Tour de France winner, a cancer survivor, and an advocate of fundraising towards cancer research. These are the titles synonymous with cyclist and world renowned philanthropist Lance Armstrong. Many people praise him for these accolades, however he is hated and discriminated against by others for one simple word; doping.

 

The issue of doping breached the cycling world in 2006, when Armstrong team member Floyd Landis was accused of using P.E.Ds(performance enhancing drugs) after winning the Tour de France that year. Landis eventually admitted to the allegations, and it seemed at though he would be the only one to fall. However, like all sports, there is never just one victim.

 

This past May, Landis again shocked the cycling world, only this time it was with his words rather than his bike. Landis accused head team member Lance Armstrong of  encouraging and using P.E.Ds and blood transfusions before races. Armstrong returned fire  immediately by denying the claims against him, and stating Landis lost all credibility after admitting to using P.E.Ds.

 

3 months later, and this time with federal prosecutors involved, Landis still stands by his allegations against Armstrong. Only this time, he is not alone. As reported on ESPN early Thursday morning, prosecutors now have two more sources with knowledge of the investigation, according to the Times.

 

With two more reported sources backing up the claims made by Landis, things are not looking to good for Armstrong right? Well not according to his attorneys; they claim that the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency is offering cyclists a "get out of jail free card" if they testify or provide evidence that Armstrong has cheated in the past.

 

While to some this may seem like an all out war against Armstrong, his defense team seems confident that everything will be fine. Attorney Bryan D. Daly, who is representing Armstrong, says cyclists who claim Armstrong cheated, are just lying to protect their own careers, and destroy his.

 

"They just want them to incriminate Lance Armstrong and that's my concern," Daly said, according to the report. "To the extent that there's anyone besides Floyd Landis saying things, the bottom line is, if you take away the soap opera and look at the scientific evidence, there is nothing."(quote taken from article written by espn news services on espn.com) 

 

Lance Armstrong finds himself in a race against the biggest challengers of his career; federal prosecutors, former team members, and jealous adversaries.

 

Only time will tell if Armstrong can once again come out on top, but even if he does, it could be too late to save his legacy.

 

 

 

(Information from ESPN and the Associated Press were used in this report.)

 

~James Cook Future Associated Press

 

Posted on: August 4, 2010 1:44 pm
Edited on: August 4, 2010 4:25 pm
 

Why Notre Dame WON'T Join a Conference

Since the days of greats like The Four Horsemen, The Gipper, and Knute Rockne, one thing has sperated Notre Dame from all others in NCAA Football; Tradition.

As many people know,(whether or not this be from knowledge or from playing NCAA Football's video game,) Notre Dame has a schedule consists mainly of rivalry game that date back many years.

During this coming season alone, 9 out of the 12 games on the Irish Schedule are these rivalry game.(7 of which are for a trophy.) If the Irish were in a conference, all of these rivalry games would be down the toilet and non-existent this season. Also many of these games still have extensions for years to come.

Current Head Coach Brian Kelly, is another reason why Notre Dame won't join a conference any time soon. Kelly understands the history and tradition that Irish Football is all about, so Notre Dame staying independent during his tenure shouldn't shock anyone.

If your persistent and still can't understand why Notre Dame won't join a conference, than here is my "Touchdown Jesus" pass attempt.

For those of you who do not know, Notre Dame has a partnership deal with television network NBC. This is a deal that for years has put the Irish ahead of schools in media coverage. Why? Because under this contract deal, Notre Dame is guaranteed a Nationally Televised Game Every Week! That's right, it doesn't matter if it's a game against USC or Tulsa, if Notre Dame is playing, it's on National Television.

Why would Notre Dame want to throw all that away just to be called a member of  the "Big 10 plus 1"? Simply put, They Won't.

Notre Dame is just fine right where they are, they got Tradition, National Exposure, and a Head Coach with Championship Demeanor.

Now Notre Dame, just put that all to good use, and Go Win a Championship......

If only it were that easy.

~James Cook Future Associated Press

Posted on: August 4, 2010 12:55 pm
 

Will Terrell Owens & the Whine Flu Infect Cincy?

Drama starter, virus, egotistical, selfish, these are a selection of names that Terrell Owens has been given during his 13 years in the NFL.

Starting off with the 49ers in 1996, and most recently the Buffalo Bills this past season, T.O. has been called the disease of the league. While some find this hard to believe, his haters everywhere have good evidence to back up their claims.

The two most common examples of this show up while T.O. played with the Philadelphia Eagles (2004-2005) and the Dallas Cowboys (2006-2008). During his time with both franchises, Owens had issues on and off the field with quarterbacks Donovan McNabb (now with the Redskins) and Tony Romo, respectively.

While with McNabb, Owens stated that if Brett Favre was the quarterback for the Eagles, they would be undefeated. These comments, which Eagles fans took to meaning that McNabb was not a warrior, led to the end of T.O.'s career in Philly.

After signing with Dallas in 2006, things were looking smooth in his life, until a problem arose between Owens and Romo.

T.O. felt frustrated with the lack of passes thrown to him and was jealous of the relationship Romo had with Cowboys tight end Jason Witten.

Not only did these complaints lead to Owens's release from the team, it also made him look like a crybaby and child.

After playing with the Buffalo Bills last season, T.O. decided to roll the dice and take his chances in the free agent market.

It looked like it would backfire, until two days ago, when the Bengals decided to take a chance and sign Owens to a one-year, $2 million deal.

Let's face it, the Bills were terrible, but T.O. was lucky to even be on a team last year.

Now he is back on a team in playoff contention, and finally with a receiver similar to him in Chad Ochocinco (even though that similarity is mainly touchdown celebrations).

At age 36, this could be T.O.'s last chance to play on a quality franchise during his NFL career, so hear me out before you decide the "disease" will destroy Cincy.

Do I think Owens has matured? Simply put, no. However, I do think he will mix well enough with Carson Palmer and Chad Johnson so his "destructive" alter ego will not make an appearance.

If I'm right, we could see some big achievements by this Bengals squad, and if not, then the epidemic known as "Whine Flu" might add Cincinnati to the victim list.

Regardless of the outcome, we must be patient and see what happens.

Just make sure you have your popcorn ready beforehand.

Posted on: August 4, 2010 12:52 pm
 

Why Strasburg Will Be A New York Yankee

Stephen Strasburg, the first overall pick in the 2009 MLB DRAFT, is currently a pitcher for the Washington Nationals.

I know what your thinking,"Tell me something I do not know," well bear with me for a moment and feast your mind on this proposition. Stephen Strasburg, pitching in a World Series, dressed in pinstripes, for the New York Yankees.

Now your interested in this idea, arguably the most talked about rookie pitcher in MLB history playing for the greatest franchise in all of baseball, because when this happens no one will be able to compete.

Just when will this deal happen you ask, well take a sigh of relief because it will not be for quite some time, four years to be exact.

Why, because the Yankees have the cash that any baseball player would kill for, and they don't take no for an answer. Just look at CC Sabathia, he said he'd never play for New York. Then a seven-year, $161 million contract is put on the table and he changes his mind in the blink of an eye.

Strasburg will be in his mid-twenties and reaching the peaking period of his baseball career, while Andy Pettitte,(current pitcher for New York,) will be 41 and possibly retired. The Yankees will be in need of a young, dominant pitcher, and Strasburg will fill that roll perfectly.

To some this may seem like a ridiculous fantasy, while others may keep it in the back of their mind as a reasonable idea. For those who think this impossible, the fact of the matter is we both know that New York has the money and Strasburg has the talent. As for those of you who are confident this will happen,(and when it does,) just remember who told you first.

~James Cook Future Associated Press

Posted on: August 4, 2010 12:50 pm
 

The Butler Way, Not Hayward Fuels Bulldogs

Here's the deal people: Butler is here to stay! I have been a Bulldogs fan my whole life with season tickets for the past seven years.

One thing needs to be known by the rest of the country: Hayward was not the savior of this squad. Sure, he had the big steal in the second round against Murray State, but he didn't "make this team."

What made this team was something that has been synonymous with Bulldogs basketball since the days of Coach Tony Hinkle. That is The Butler Way, meaning you don't need to have a McDonald's All-American recruiting class to make it to the NCAA Championship.

Butler had arguably the toughest road in the NCAA Tournament, and in fact, most people had them losing in the first round to UTEP. Not me! Sure, I didn't think they would make it back home, but the little fan inside me kept the hope alive. I sat 15 rows from the court and witnessed the nail-biting finish to the State game in the final four, the 70,000 strong that went crazy when Ronald Nored secured the game winning rebound.

And yes, I was there when two game winners turned into daggers in the heart of the Butler Faithful, and they came up just three inches short of Gold. Hayward didn't do all that alone, the Butler Way did all that. So he declared for the draft; So what?!?!?! 

They still have Matt Howard (who wasn't 100 percent in the National Championship) returning as a Senior, Zach Hahn and Shawn Vanzant returning as seniors, Shelvin Mack and Ronald Nored returning as Juniors, and Andrew Smith returning as a sophomore.

Plus two great local recruits, and one All-Star power forward from Florida. This Butler squad hasn't lost any heart and determination that they had last season, they are hungry for a championship.

So when filling out your brackets next year, make sure you check Butler's schedule, because if a winning streak is going, a run will be made. Make the preparations now people, this is no Cinderella Story or a George Mason fairy tale, The Butler Way is here to stay.

~James Cook Future Associated Press

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: August 4, 2010 12:32 pm
 

The Future of Butler Bulldogs Basketball

IndianapolisJames Cook July 15,2010A season where feelings were everywhere, a first time undefeated horizon league champion, an amazing run to the National Championship, a possible championship winner that was 3 inches to far to the right, and a star player in Gordon Hayward now leaving early and joining the NBA.   These are the pieces of the puzzle left in Butler Bulldogs Head Coach Brad Stevens three months removed from the heartbreaking NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship Game loss to the Duke Blue Devils.   So what’s next?"Tracy and I are thrilled and very thankful for the opportunity to continue to play a role for Butler University," Stevens, referring to his wife, said. "We are already looking forward to the 2010-11 season."(Stevens Response to a question in interview on espn after signing contract extension.)Stevens, who has produced the school's only two 30-win seasons and is 89-15 through three seasons at Butler doesn’t need to worry too much about the loss of Gordon Hayward. The starting roster for the Bulldogs this November includes returning Seniors Matt Howard(Center,) Shawn Vanzant(Guard,) and Zach Hahn(Guard,) returning Junior Guards Shelvin Mack and Ronald Nored, and returning Sophomore Andrew Smith(Center.) Coach Stevens is hopeful that this November’s Dogs Squad will be able to fix the early defeats Butler had last season and continue where they left off in April.“We were top 10 this past season, but in my opinion, we were 190th in November and December. We weren't very good then. So we want to have a great offseason, a great fall prep and then November and December,” said Stevens.(Stevens in an interview with espn.com after a contract extension with Butler.)~James Cook Future Associated Press

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Posted on: August 4, 2010 12:18 pm
 

Title Drought Intact For Cleveland Without James

Two days removed from Christmas on a cold day in December 1964, was another classic tale of David vs. Goliath. The Cleveland Browns entered into the 1964 NFL Championship as heavy underdogs to the Colts of Baltimore. Packed with a superstar lineup which consisted of names the likes of Johnny Unitas and Lenny Moore to name a few, and having their best season since 1954, some experts speculated it could be over for Cleveland early.

 

After a scoreless first half by both teams, the Browns exploded for 27 unanswered points, shocking the football world in the process by shutting-out the Colts 27-0 to win their fourth NFL Crown. Unfortunately for Cleveland, with great triumph ungodly hardships can arise, and arise they did. For little did they know it, but this would be the last taste of championship gold for the city of Cleveland.

Fast-Forward to June of 2003, Cleveland has the number one overall pick via NBA Draft Lottery Pick and are able to sign their beloved hometown hero LeBron James fresh out of high school.

 

While LeBron was expected to lead the Cavaliers to the Promise Land, Cleveland did not make the Playoffs until his third year in the NBA. The Cavs were able to defeat the Washington Wizards in six games despite sloppy play by James, who committed a six game series record 34 turnovers. The run was cut short in the second round for Cleveland, as they fell to division rival Detroit Pistons in seven games.

 

It was not until next season, and arguably the most memorable one for the Cavs faithful, that James led Cleveland to a Championship series. LeBron gave Cleveland their first post-season sweep in franchise history as they defeated the Washington Wizards to advance to the second round. The King,(LeBron,) then followed it up by defeating the New Jersey Nets in six games moving the Cavs into the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time in 15 years.

In the 2007 Eastern Conference Finals the Cavs were up against their arch rivals the Detroit Pistons, who had knocked Cleveland out of the Playoffs the previous year. As the Pistons took a 2-0 lead in the series, it looked as though the dream was over for Cleveland....but their hero THE KING would have none of it. After the knotting the series at two games apiece LeBron went on a scoring frenzy, cashing in 29 of Cleveland’s 30 final points, including a game winning lay-up in double overtime. The next game the Cavs continued to dominate with a 98–82 win at home in Game 6 sending them to their first Finals in Franchise history.

 

Sadly the Matchup of Cleveland versus the San Antonio Spurs proved too much for The King and his fellow knights to handle; The Cavs were swept in four games to Tim Duncan and the Spurs; it would be Cleveland’s only championship appearance with the king.

 

The closest they would come was in the 2009 Eastern Conference Finals against the Orlando Magic. After giving up Game 1 at home to Orlando, and a Hedo Türkoğlu jumper that put the Magic up by two, it looked as though hardship would continue for Cleveland. LeBron received the inbound pass while fading away, and with Türkoğlu in his face, James hit a buzzer beating three pointer to give the Cavs the win and tie the series at one game each. The win only prevented the inevitable, as Cleveland was defeated in six games on Orlando's home court.

 

The following season would be The King's last hoorah in Cleveland, as he lead the Cavs past Chicago 4-1. This was the last series the Cavs would win with LeBron James at the helm. Cleveland moved on the face the Boston Celtics, who would eventually win the conference, in the second round. This series is called by most as a series The King threw away, especially in game five in where he shot 3 for 14 from the field and scored only 15 points. The Celtics followed it up by sending James and the Cavs back home, by defeating them in game six in Boston.

 

Then on July 8 of this year, LeBron announced to the whole world on "The Decision,"(a one hour special on ESPN,) to where he would go play next season.

 

  “This fall I am taking my talents to South Beach and play with the Miami Heat. The major factor was the best opportunity for me to win, to win now and for the future also. Winning is the most important thing for me. I feel like this is going to be the best opportunity."(As said by LeBron during his announcement on ESPN's "The Decision.")

 

The Era of LeBron was over, people all over Cleveland were seen burning James Jerseys, many started throwing rocks and vandalizing his Nike Billboard downtown, and a city which had hoped The King would be the answer to their Championship drought felt betrayed and backstabbed.

 

Now that LeBron is in Miami, it seems highly unlikely that Cleveland will see a championship this decade. The Cavs won't bring it to them as most of their stars have moved to other teams. The Indians won't do it, at least not this season, a 34-54 record and 15 games back in last place in the AL Central division before the All-Star Break doesn't look to promising.  In my personal opinion the team that has the best chance to bring a championship to Cleveland is the Browns. 

 

I am not a Browns fan, but the AFC North is a division where anything is possible,(plus I really like the addition of Colt McCoy at QB he is underrated by most because of his injury in this past National Championship.) If the Browns put their best foot forward headed into training camp, we could see big things out of this squad, and spectacular excitement and joy from the city of Cleveland.

 

  It has been far too long since Cleveland won a championship, we as a nation must now join them, in a process they have had to handle for the past 46 years; waiting.

 

                                        ~James Cook Future Associated Press


(Originally written by James Cook on Bleacher Report)  http://bleacherreport.com/articles/
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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com