Inside My Head

(insert witty tagline here so people will think I’m cool)

Three Up; Three To Go

Posted by Kevin on February 28, 2008

Mississippi State’s win over Auburn last night, coupled with Arkansas losing to Alabama clinches at least a share of the SEC Western Division championship for the second straight season for the Bulldogs. MSU trails Tennessee by one game for the overall SEC regular season championship.

Senior Charles Rhodes scored a career high 30 points to pace MSU. Stuck at his previous career high of 27 points as the game wound under a minute to play, Rhodes got the ball. He later said he was well aware of his previous career high and how many points he had at the time. Nothing was going to stop him from scoring just one more basket. Of course, I doubt anyone in the building would have expected that basket to be a 3. Rhodes got the ball out on the elbow, turned and dribbled to the top of the key and promptly drained a three pointer to close out his scoring with a new career high 30 points.

State travels this week to play at Florida and at Vanderbilt before closing out the season at home against LSU. Arkansas hosts Vanderbilt, travels to Ole Miss, then hosts Auburn to close out the season. Even with our tough week coming up, I like our chances of clinching the Western Division title outright.

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I’m F@cking Ben Affleck

Posted by Kevin on February 27, 2008

I’m sure many of you have seen these two videos, but I just gotta post them anyway.

I don’t watch a lot of late night television, so I didn’t see this a few weeks ago. Sarah Silverman and Jimmy Kimmel have been dating for years and she makes frequent appearances on his show. During one visit she said she had a surprise for Jimmy…

Absolutely priceless!! But not to be outdone, Jimmy responded…

Thanks, you two, for renewing my interest in late night TV. Jimmy Kimmel Live has been added to my TiVo Season Pass Manager.

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AI:7

Posted by Kevin on February 27, 2008

My name is Kevin, and I watch American Idol.  Laugh all you want.  It’s my guilty pleasure.  I like watching live music and I like watching completely delusional people who do not have an ounce of talent have their dreams crushed with no mercy.  I’m also a bit cynical about it all.  Idol is far more than just a singing contest; it’s Fox’s cash cow.  During the audition period, show producers are not only looking for people they think could win the whole thing, they’re also looking for absolute freaks to put on camera to fulfill our sick fascination with the show.

But enough of all that…  Let’s talk about season 7 now that the cast has been whittled down to 24 – ok 20… I’m a week late blogging.

This season the show is allowing the contestants to use musical instruments if they choose.  I really like this move simply because it gives us something we haven’t seen on the show before.  I don’t buy into the judges’ nonsense that Idol is a singing competition.  If it was, then Taylor Hicks would not have won last season.  Singing is a major part, but it’s not all of the puzzle.  You have to be able to perform as well.

I do buy at least partly into the conspiracy theory that the show’s producers protect certain contestants during the voting.  Why?  Easy.  The winner of the show gets a record deal.  Nobody is going to let some no talent hack win the show if they know all of the music production equipment in the world won’t help them sell records.  I’m not suggesting that the folks behind the scenes already know who they want to win, but if by some fluke someone like David Archuleta actually receives the lowest votes this week (it won’t happen – I’m just using him as an example) there is no way in hell the show would let him go.  This kid is what the show is all about.  Someone else would have to take the fall and viewers at home would never know it.   I’ll stop before I get on a soapbox…

Speaking of David Archuleta, this kid is my pick to win the whole show.  He’s young.  He’s already immensely popular; even the other contestants love him.  He’s got the boyish good looks that would make him easy to promote.  He’s got an outstanding attitude.  And oh yeah… the kid can flat out [url=http://www.americanidol.com/videos/?vid=966&pcs=499]sing[/url].   In my mind, David’s performance last night has everyone else fighting for second place.  I’m sure he’ll have his struggles.  Everyone does.  But don’t be surprised if he’s the one being showered in glitter in May.

As for the other guys, I just don’t see much there.  I do like David Cook, Chikezie, and Jason Castro.  Cook doesn’t have enough attitude to carry the rocker image.  He can sing and play like a rocker, but unless we just haven’t seen all there is to him, he’s too boring of a rocker to last long.  I love Chikezie’s R&B vibe and attitude, but I have a feeling he’ll never be able to step outside of his comfort zone and pull it off.  Castro is just fun to watch but I don’t see him having a great deal of range.

I’ll blog about the girls after their top 20 performances tonight.

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MSU Softball Team Ranked

Posted by Kevin on February 26, 2008

I’m a fan of collegiate fast pitch softball, but I must admit I don’t see/read much of the sport until regional play starts. Having said that, Mississippi State’s softball squad gives Bulldog Nation something to be proud of and root for. The Lady Bulldogs are ranked 18th nationally and are 13-2 on the season. Last week State reached its highest ever ranking at #15 before having their school second-best 11-game win streak broken. Way to go, ladies!

Baseball:
Freshman Forrest Moore made his first collegiate start for the MSU baseball team this afternoon and pitched pretty well in a 9-2 Bulldog win over UAB this afternoon. Moore gave up two runs on five hits in five innings of work against the Blazers. He gave up three walks and struck out five batters. A good midweek start by my count. Freshman reliever Michael Busby and closer Aaron Weatherford did not allow a single hit in their combined four innings of relief pitching.

Redshirt freshman Jason Nappi provided the fireworks for the Bulldog offense with a fifth inning grand slam to put MSU ahead to stay. Nappi and sophomore Russ Sneed have hit safely in all four ballgames thus far.

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Huge Basketball Win; Disappointing Baseball Losses

Posted by Kevin on February 26, 2008

Mississippi State rebounded this weekend after last week’s loss at Ole Miss by beating South Carolina 61-56 in overtime. In the closing moments of a back-and-forth second half, neither team could cash in on free throws that could have potentially ended the game in regulation. Down 49-47 with 17.6 seconds remaining, MSU’s Jamont Gordon drove the floor and launched a 3-pointer that – of all things – got stuck between the rim and the backboard off of Charles Rhodes‘ tip. The Gamecocks gained possession and the Bulldogs fouled Evaldus Baniulis with 6.1 seconds remaining. Baniulis, who had not attempted a free throw all season long, missed his first attempt but made his second to put Carolina ahead 50-47.

On the inbounds pass, Gordon streaked down the floor and looked to take what was to be the final shot of regulation, but instead passed to a wide open Ben Hansbrough. Hansbrough took the open three as time expired. How the shot did not fall is a mystery to me. The ball was in the basket nearly below the rim before it ricocheted out. Gamecocks win, right? But wait… there was a foul on the play. Baniulis, who failed to seal the game with his free throws, fouled Hansbrough. After much discussion, 1.1 seconds were put back on the clock and Hansbrough was sent to the line three free throws and State trailing 50-47.

As cool as the other side of the pillow, Hansbrough stepped to the line and calmly sank all three free throws. Carolina narrowly missed a desperation shot at the buzzer as the game went into overtime. In the OT period, State gutted out a much needed win to push their SEC West lead back to two games after Arkansas lost to Kentucky earlier in the day.

Baseball:
After a dominating win by the Bulldogs in Friday night’s opener, State looked poised to sweep the season-opening series against the North Florida Ospreys; however, UNF had other plans. UNF had an answer for everything State did offensively in the early goings on Saturday and exploded for 11 runs in the 6th and 7th innings to take Saturday’s game 17-9.

On Sunday, State never even got started, dropping a 5 spot to the Ospreys in the bottom of the first inning. State never recovered, losing 11-6.

A disappointing opening series by all counts. Of course, it’s just one series. It’s hard to measure what this means for the season, but I didn’t one glaring pitching trend that seemed to carry over from last season. State pitchers were pitching from behind in the count far too often all weekend long. When you give a batter a 2-0, 3-1, or 3-0 count you’re just asking for trouble.

MSU hosts the UAB Blazers this Tuesday in a mid-week game to kick off a 14-game home stand. Coach Ron Polk will send freshman Forrest Moore to the mound. This weekend, the Bulldogs will host first-time opponent Air Force.

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Well That Sucked

Posted by Kevin on February 21, 2008

Mississippi State strolled into Oxford last night with a two game lead in the SEC West and faced an Ole Miss squad that had been stumbling all over itself for the better part of three weeks. SEC road games are rarely easy; rivalry games like this one on the road are even tougher. The 74-63 beatdown the Rebels put on the Bulldogs last night proved that point loud and clear.

With six games remaining in the regular season – four of them being road games – State cannot afford to lose if they are to remain atop the Western division. Arkansas won last night to pull within one game.

It gets interesting for both Arkansas and MSU down this final stretch. Arkansas has tough games remaining at Kentucky and at Ole Miss and hosts Vanderbilt. State travels to South Carolina, Florida and Vanderbilt.

Baseball:
Head coach Ron Polk has announced his pitching starters for the opening weekend at North Florida. Justin Pigott will start Friday night’s opener. Chad Crosswhite will start Saturday. Ricky Bowen will make his first career start for State in Sunday’s series finale.

In taking a quick peek around the University of North Florida athletics website to check out their team, I noticed a web poll asking what UNF fans thought their record would be against MSU in this weekend’s series. The choice receiving the most votes as UNF going 0-for-3.

North Florida played in Division II through the 2005 season before making the jump to Division I in 2006. In 2005, the Ospreys fought their way all the way to the DII national title game before falling 12-9 to Florida Southern. In 2007 they were ineligible for the Atlantic Sun Conference tournament due to an NCAA reclassification rule. These guys aren’t afraid to play the big boys either. They’ve had success against Florida and Miami already, and will play the likes of North Carolina, Florida, Miami, and Florida State in 2008.

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It’s Baseball Time Again!

Posted by Kevin on February 19, 2008

No, not MLB.  I could care less about the pros, their steroids, and their multi-million dollar contacts not being enough to support their illegitimate kids and baby-mammas.

I’m talking about baseball that matters.  Baseball that has passion.

College baseball.   Baseball at Mississippi State is something special.  If you are a college baseball fan, do yourself a favor and plan a trip to Starkville for an SEC baseball weekend and spend some time in Left Field Lounge.  There are plenty of imitators around the country, but nobody does it like MSU.

Last year’s team overachieved a little bit, got hot at the right time, and rode their hot streak into Omaha where they went ice cold in going 0-2.  What will the Bulldogs do this  year?  Hard to say.  Coach Ron Polk hasn’t settled on his starting lineup for the season opener just three days away.  That in itself is not a big deal.  Lineups will change a little throughout the season.  But in this case, Polk doesn’t have a lot of experience returning in the field.  Gone from last season’s College World Series team are guys like Mitch Moreland, Jeffrey Rea, Joseph McCaskill, Brian LaNinfa, and Ed Easley.  Those are monster shoes to fill.

The pitching staff, however,  may finally be the strength of the Bulldogs.  All three of the team captains are pitchers (Justin Pigott, John Lalor, Chad Crosswhite).  Polk has not officially announced the weekend starters, but it figures to be Pigott, Crosswhite, and Ricky Bowen.  Pigott and Crosswhite were weekend pitchers last season, while Bowen was a key contributor out of the bullpen.  The bullpen also returns experience in guys like Greg Houston, Tyler Whitney, and Jesse CarverAaron Weatherford should be the closer.

The 2008 Diamond Dogs will rely heavily on the pitching staff to shut down opponents, as we surely will not have the offense we did last year to score enough runs to make up for pitching mistakes.  I’ll go out on a limb early and predict State does just enough to get into regional play as a traveling  3-seed and put a scare into whomever the home standing #1 seed is before bowing out.

State opens the season this weekend at North Florida.

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SEC West

Posted by Kevin on February 17, 2008

Mississippi State served up a helping of revenge on the Arkansas Razorbacks yesterday, defeating the Hogs 80-74 to take a two game lead in the SEC West with six games left to play.  In the overall SEC, State is one game behind Tennessee.

As much as Arkansas usually has State’s number, Saturday’s win marked the 8th straight home win over the Hogs.

The Bulldogs have now won 10 or more home games in each of Rick Stansbury‘s 10 years as head coach.

Sophomore Jarvis Varnado turned in his fourth double-double of the season with 10 points and 10 rebounds.  Varnado also added three more blocks to raise his single-season school record for blocks to 114.  Jarvis is now just two blocks shy of 3rd place on MSU’s all-time shot block list.

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Records Are Meant To Be Broken

Posted by Kevin on February 8, 2008

With eight games remaining in the regular season, Jarvis Varnado is just one block shy of tying Erick Dampier‘s single-season record of 106 blocked shots.  Oh yeah…. he’s also the nation’s number one shot blocker.  As a sophomore.  He’s still got some growing to do, and he’ll only get better.  Simply amazing.

Dampier also holds the career blocked shots record at State with 249 (1994-96).  I’m not sure how many blocks Varnado may have had as a freshman, but expect him to shatter the career blocks record before he’s done in Starkville.

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Down The Stretch

Posted by Kevin on February 7, 2008

After getting thoroughly whipped at Arkansas and coming up just short of a miracle comeback against Tennessee, Mississippi State finally got back into the win column last night against Alabama.  For MSU’s post-season hopes, it was a must-win game.  State cannot afford losses if they want to make it to the big dance without having to win the SEC tournament.

The Bulldogs are back on top by one game over Arkansas who was off for the midweek.  This weekend will be big for the SEC West standings as Arkansas hosts Ole Miss and State travels to Auburn.  Hopefully Ole Miss can steal one from the Razorbacks.  State should be able to knock off an Auburn team who is good at home but they aren’t deep on the bench.

MSU head coach Rick Stansbury won his 200th game last night making him the 20th coach in SEC history to reach the 200 win mark.

The win over Alabama marks the first time since 1998-99 that the Bulldogs have swept the regular season series against the Tide.   Including last seasons regular season-ending win over Bama, Mississippi State has now beaten Alabama three straight times for the first time since 1983-85.

Entering the game second in the nation behind Georgetown in field-goal percentage defense (36.3%), State limited Bama to 36.2% shooting on the night marking the 14th time this season the Bulldogs have held an opponent under 40% on field-goal attempts.

Jamont Gordon‘s 10 assists moves him into 4th place all-time (416) on MSU’s assist list ahead of Doug Hartsfield.

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