BYU Basketball

BYU Basketball: Not Just Jimmer

Written by Ben Wagner on . Posted in Sports

If you listen to The PB&J Report podcast (and at this point, why aren’t you?), then you know I have a method of sorts when it comes to BYU sports — I am the eternal pessimist.

Don’t get me wrong, no one bleeds blood as Cougar blue as mine. But just because I love the team doesn’t mean I blindly believe they will win every game — that would just make me ignorant (or a Ute fan). Experience is knowledge, and I’ve experienced too many overtime losses, tournament no-shows and blown calls to believe in the Cougars as hard as I pull for them.

So when I picked San Diego State to beat our men’s basketball team at home last night, much of it was the eternal pessimism speaking. But more than that, I really didn’t think we had the team to beat them. San Diego State has size, athleticism, and is defensively minded. While I thought we had a great player in Jimmer Fredette, I also felt our team was too flawed to really compete with talent of that caliber. BYU is small, has trouble rebounding, and has absolutely no depth — or so I thought. In other words, I thought we had a great player, not a great team.

Jimmer Kawhi

Podcast: BYU-SDSU Preview, Super Bowl

Written by Ben Wagner on . Posted in Sports

For college basketball fans (and, particularly, BYU fans), it’s the Game Of The Year — nay, The Game Of The Century — and the PB&J Report boys are here to break down the impending BYU-San Diego State slugfest from every possible angle. Listen as the crew analyzes both teams’ strengths and weaknesses and makes their (extremely educated) picks for the big game. Also, they throw in a few thoughts on Sunday’s NFL playoff games and next week’s Super Bowl to boot. Now, who doesn’t want some of that? Enjoy!

What We Learned From Saturday's NFL Games

Written by Ben Wagner on . Posted in Sports

“Yo, I got this”

Historically the first two weekends of the NFL playoffs are two of my favorite weekends of the year (topped by wild card Saturday — is there a reason this isn’t a national holiday yet?). This year didn’t break that trend as last weekend saw the Jets, Seahawks, Packers and Ravens all win, arguably all upsets except maybe the Ravens. Part of what makes the NFL so exciting is the parity, and at no time is this more apparent than during the playoffs.

In a season that has been all about parity (even the Patriots, the league’s undisputed best team, got beat by the lowly Browns) most experts came into this week’s games with no clue as to what was going to happen. The Ravens and Steelers were meeting for the third time this season and the wild card Packers seemed to be suddenly gaining popularity against the number one-seeded Falcons. At the beginning of the day, NFL fans had lots of questions — and by the end of the day, we had answers. Here’s the top things we learned from today’s games:

The ghost of Matt Millen still haunts the GMs of the NFL

It’s astounding to me that NFL GMs have yet to figure out the wide receiver position. The Ravens came into the season with three top receivers — check that, three former top wide receivers. Derrick Mason, Anquan Boldin and T.J Houshmandzadeh were all number one receivers at some point in their careers — Mason with the Titans, Boldin with the Cardinals, and T.J. (no way I’m typing that name again) with the Bengals and later the Seahawks. All three were the top receivers on their teams, but for various reasons their former teams cut ties with them and they all landed in Baltimore.

When teams decide to go their separate ways with a wider receiver, it has historically been a bad sign. These same situations seem to happen every year, and yet GMs continue to throw money at these players. Look at Roy Williams in Dallas, Randy Moss in Minnesota or Terrell Owens on every team he’s ever been on (which at this points seems to be approximately half the teams in the NFL).

Today in their game against the Steelers, the Ravens’ receiving core repeatedly dropped passes, costing them scoring opportunities. This was typified by the Ravens’ last offensive play when, trying to drive and tie the game, Joe Flacco threw an almost perfect pass on 4th and 19 to Houshmandzadeh, who had run a deep curl route. Houshmandzadeh was past the first down line when the ball hit him right in the numbers, and then promptly fell through his hands and hit the ground.

Maybe now Ravens’ GM Ozzie Newsome can see why Seattle (who, by the way, isn’t exactly fielding the ’01 Rams receiving core out there) chose to cut him, knowing they would still have to pay him $7 million, rather then have him on their team. Think about that — they paid him 7 million dollars to go away. Sound like a guy you want on your team? Apparently Ozzie Newsome thought it sounded awesome, and for that reason he’ll be watching the AFC championship game on his couch.

Ben Roethlisberger is always a threat to score

Look, I know Big Ben has had his off-field issues — a motorcycle crash, repeated drunkenness, an appearance on Shaq Vs. and the fact that he’s a complete pervert have all greatly hurt his public image. In all that, we may have lost the fact the guy has won two Super Bowls, and is one of the most clutch quarterbacks we’ve seen — maybe ever.

The guy just wins. He’s got that last-minute greatness DNA that Peyton would kill the third Manning brother for. Today, with the game tied and just over two minutes remaining, the Steelers were looking at 3rd and 19 and, if they failed to convert, they would be giving the ball back to the Ravens with enough time remaining to put together a drive and win the game with a field goal.

In this situation most quarterbacks are looking for that pass that just gets them the first down, because the defense is trying to prevent a 20-yard play. Oftentimes quarterbacks will check down to someone on a short route, hoping they can break some tackles and fight for a first down. Not Big Ben. He set himself up in the shotgun, received the ball, took five steps back, calmly looked at his options, and then flung the ball 55 yards down the right sideline. The ball was perfectly on target to a streaking Antonio Brown who caught the ball and stepped out of bounds setting the Steelers up close to the goal for a game-winning touchdown.

If you go back and watch that play again, Roethlisberger throws the ball long before Brown is past the defense — in fact, to anyone else watching it doesn’t even seem clear that Brown will be open. The fact that Roethlisberger was able to anticipate where his receiver would be in that situation, and then throw the ball with such precision 55 yards downfield, is absolutely incredible.

If you haven’t seen the play again, go back and watch it from all the angles. In that situation, I’m not sure there’s another quarterback who makes that throw. The fact is, despite his obvious character flaws, Roethlisberger is a born winner — and if I was a coach I would want him on my team.

Aaron Rodgers has made Green Bay forget about the quarterbacks from the ’60s, ’70s, ’80s, ’90s and ’00s — or, in other words, Brett Favre

I’ve been on the Aaron Rodgers bandwagon for awhile. I had him on my fantasy team last year and was really impressed by the numbers he put up week in and week out. This year I’ve been impressed with his toughness, fighting back from two concussions.

What he did against the Falcons tonight was an absolute clinic. He diced up their secondary with amazing precision, he escaped their rushers with surprising speed and agility, and he led the Packers with all the intangibles you want to see from your starting quarterback. His mechanics, accuracy, arm strength, mobility, reads, leadership and guts were all of the highest caliber.

Let’s put it this way: Of all the NFL games I’ve seen this year, if I had to pick one game to show a young quarterback to say, “This is the way you play the position,” I think it would be this game against the Falcons.

In his post-season career, Rodgers now has a 10:1 touchdown-to-interception ratio. He beat the Eagles (many experts’ pick to win the NFC) on the road last week, and he beat the number one-seeded Falcons this week. After what we’ve seen the last two seasons and (in particular) this post-season, I think it’s time we officially move him into the “Top Three QBs In The League” discussion. Considering the truly lackluster efforts of Manning, Brees and Vick this post-season, can we say Aaron Rodgers might be the best quarterback not named Tom Brady or Ben Roethlisberger? Right now, if I had one game to win, I would pick Brady, then Rothelisberger, but after that I’m pretty sure I would take Aaron Rodgers. He’s that good, and a seemingly decent guy to boot.

Rodgers spent three years patiently waiting in the wings for Brett Favre to take his texting talents elsewhere, and then the next three years flying under the radar in Green Bay. Hey Aaron, you’re on everyone’s radar now — pretty soon you may even have Rachel Nichols camping out on your lawn.

Jimmer Fredette

SPORTS: Podcast: Jimmer Goes Off, Auburn Wins It All and the NFL Playoffs Heat Up

Written by Ben Wagner on . Posted in Sports

It’s that time of year again — the best time of year. College football is finishing strong, the NFL playoffs are heating up and basketball season is really starting to get interesting. Sports fans will think back on these times and salivate in July when all they have to watch is baseball, baseball and more baseball. As such, the PB&J Report crew gather to discuss the latest developments, including Jimmer Fredette’s 47-point explosion against Utah, Auburn’s national championship squeaker and the upcoming weekend slate of NFL games. Enjoy!

You can stream the podcast by simply clicking on the link below, or you can download it to your computer by right-clicking the link and selecting “Save Link As” from the menu.

Listen to: Rhombus Podcast 034 — The PB&J Report (2011.01.11)

Cam Newton

SPORTS: You Can’t Fool Me, Cameron Newton

Written by Jake Welch on . Posted in Sports

As we inch, ever so slowly, closer to the national championship football game between Auburn and Oregon, I can’t help but think of Auburn quarterback Cameron Newton. I can honestly say that he is one of the most talented athletes ever to play the game. I also have no problem saying he probably doesn’t deserve to be playing in this game.

I know people might think I’m too cynical for saying such a thing, but in a situation like this I would like to think I’m being very realistic. For all of those who question my thinking, let me take you though my personal history with professional and collegiate athletes.

You see I used to worship these guys, like I’m sure most of us did when we were eight years old. The walls of my room were literally covered with posters that I got out of issues of Sports Illustrated for Kids. I thought every single one of those guys I read about in that magazine walked on water — well, except for Kordell Stewart.

For the longest time I had this idea that athletes could do no wrong. I thought all of them were honest men that would never cheat on their wives, smoke marijuana or choke their coaches. Boy, did they dupe me.

I think the scandal that rocked my adolescence more than any other was the rampant steroid usage in baseball. I remember being perpetually glued to the TV in the summer of 1998, watching as Sammy Sosa and Mark McGuire chased the home run record. This was when my love for baseball truly blossomed.

So a few years later when Jose Canseco said a majority of MLB players were using steroids, I thought he was crazy. It was just his way of trying to make money on his new book. Nothing more than a publicity stunt. Slowly but surely, we all started to realize that Jose wasn’t bluffing and a good number of ball players were juicing. I didn’t want to admit it, but my heroes were starting to prove me wrong.

For the next few years, the sports world would start to experience many more scandals that would follow the same framework of their steroidal predecessor. An athlete would be accused of something, the general public would dismiss it as a rumor and then, in due time, the truth would come out. A few examples include Reggie Bush getting paid, Michael Vick killing dogs and Michael Jordan making Space Jam for the sole purpose of paying off his gambling debts. (That last one might be questionable, but not totally absurd.)

The most recent example would be Tiger Woods. When things started to unravel for the world’s greatest golfer, a lot of us defended Tiger, saying all these accusations of infidelity were just tabloid fodder. Sure enough, the original reports were closer to the truth than we thought.

So earlier this year when Cam Newton was accused of accepting money to play at Auburn, I didn’t even question it. In all reality, when asked about the situation he never actually denied any wrongdoing. He just glazed over the question with poorly worded sports cliches.

It’s sad that I’ve come to this point — where I assume that famous athletes are guilty until proven innocent — but that’s just the reality of the situation. I’ve been fooled many times before and I refuse to be fooled again.

LeBron James

SPORTS: Podcast: College Football Wrap-Up, NFL Playoffs, The Rise of the Heat

Written by Preston Johnson on . Posted in Sports

Back from their holiday hiatus, the PB&J Report crew return to the palatial Rhombus studios for a look ahead to the upcoming 2011 sports year — including the conclusion of the college football season, the impending NFL playoffs and the ominous rise of the hated Miami Heat. What does it all mean? We’ll find out in the next 12 months. Enjoy!

You can stream the podcast by simply clicking on the link below, or you can download it to your computer by right-clicking the link and selecting “Save Link As” from the menu.

Listen to: Rhombus Podcast 033 — The PB&J Report (2011.01.05)

BYU guard Jimmer Fredette drives against a Vermont defender in Glens Falls, N.Y.

SPORTS: Podcast: Year-End Wrap-Up, BYU Football Bowl Preview

Written by Ben Wagner on . Posted in Sports

And so it ends. Ben Wagner is back from England — just in time for Jake Welch and Preston Johnson to fill him in on all the sports action he missed in the last PB&J Report of the year. The guys talk about BYU football’s disappointing season (including a preview of this Saturday’s New Mexico Bowl match-up with UTEP), BYU basketball’s promising start, the NBA, MLB and just about every significant sporting event of the last four months. If you were in a coma (or out of the country) for this fall’s whirlwind sports season, this week’s episode should get you pretty much caught up in time for the start of 2011. Enjoy!

You can stream the podcast by simply clicking on the link below, or you can download it to your computer by right-clicking the link and selecting “Save Link As” from the menu.

Listen to: Rhombus Podcast 032 — The PB&J Report (2010.12.17)

Urban Meyer

SPORTS: Podcast: BYU Basketball Update, College Football Coaching Carousel, and More

Written by Jake Welch on . Posted in Sports

Another week, another couple impressive wins for the still undefeated BYU men’s basketball team. With an athletic Arizona team rolling into town and looking for revenge after the righteous beatdown Jimmer put on them last year, how long can the Cougars keep this winning streak going? Also, with college football coaching vacancies opening up seemingly every day, who’s going to end up where on the always turning carousel? Answers to these questions and many more on this week’s edition of The PB&J Report. Enjoy!

You can stream the podcast by simply clicking on the link below, or you can download it to your computer by right-clicking the link and selecting “Save Link As” from the menu.

Listen to: Rhombus Podcast 031 — The PB&J Report (2010.12.10)

Jake Heaps 2

SPORTS: Podcast: BYU-Utah Recap, BYU Basketball Update, Derek Anderson Freaks Out

Written by Jake Welch on . Posted in Sports

Harrowed by the memory of last Saturday’s Holy War loss, the PB&J Report crew reflect on the somewhat disappointing BYU football season that was 2010 — and look forward with hope to the impending era of “Big Game” Jake Heaps. Meanwhile, the BYU basketball team is winning ugly, but winning nonetheless. What does the future hold for Jimmer Fredette and the boys as they prepare to tackle some high-profile non-conference opponents? And why does it seem Arizona Cardinals quarterback Derek Anderson is always freaking out on ESPN? You can find all this and more on this week’s PB&J Report. Enjoy!

You can stream the podcast by simply clicking on the link below, or you can download it to your computer by right-clicking the link and selecting “Save Link As” from the menu.

Listen to: Rhombus Podcast 030 — The PB&J Report (2010.12.01)

What to Watch Tonight

Written by Preston Johnson on . Posted in Sports

Despite a very meaningful Thursday night NFL game between the Philadelphia Eagles and the Houston Texans, a college football rivalry game between Arizona St. and Arizona, and my intramural bowling league championship playoff that begins tonight on ESPN 8 (The Ocho), the game everyone will be watching in t-minus 45 minutes is going to be the NBA matchup between the Miami Heat and Cleveland Cavaliers.

The great return of Zydrunas Ilgauskas to Quicken Loans Arena.  A possible Eastern Conference Finals match-up teaser between an 11-8 Miami Heat team and the 7-10 Cleveland Cavaliers. A heated rivalry that dates back to, well, just this past summer. Or, all my kidding aside, the significant return of the all-time leading scorer in Cleveland franchise history, Lebron James. (This is including former Cavalier greats such as Craig Ehlo, Brad Daugherty, Mark Price, and even the legendary Shawn Kemp.) I think it’s safe to say LeBron James was a big deal in Cleveland.

Then “The Decision” happened, on national television, when we saw Lebron backstab his hometown and former team and take his talents to South Beach to play for the Miami Heat. It was following that announcement that we saw LeBron James jerseys being burned in the streets, bars full of men and women weeping their title hopes away, and GM Dan Gilbert writing a letter to LeBron, Cavalier fans and the rest of the world promising a championship title in the next 5 years. (Good luck with that.)

Needless to say, tonight’s game in Cleveland is said to possibly be the biggest and greatest booing performance by any one city in any sporting event, ever. On the headline of ESPN.com earlier this week we read that the Miami Heat would not release their travel plans, due to the fact that an ambush of the team plane or bus would probably be likely once they arrived in Cleveland. Quicken Loans Arena security is going overboard to ensure that the rowdy and ruthless crowd does not become a dangerous one.

I am personally interested, though, to see how LeBron responds. He has yet to step up in big time pressure situations in the past, and I do not see tonight being any different. I actually think the Cavaliers will win the game outright despite being significantly less talented and six-point underdogs at home. Each player for the Cavaliers will be playing the game of their lives and have every single voice in the crowd behind them.

I wanted to make sure everyone was aware of what was at stake tonight.  A game consisting of all these unique ramifications will probably not occur again in sports for a very long time.  Take the time this evening to grab a drink, pop some popcorn, sit back and enjoy the show.