There are certain things in life that never go out of style. In Michigan, no matter how bad both teams may be, it still generates a huge buzz as well as a level of excitement when the Michigan State Spartans step onto the hardwood to challenge the Michigan Wolverines.

Although the rivalry hasn’t meant much over the past few years, the rivalry is now renewed. The pots are sweetened with Kalin Lucas and Draymond Green representing East Lansing in that Spartan green and white and Manny Harris and DeShawn Sims trying to revitalize Wolverine basketball in Ann Arbor sporting the maize and blue.

Both teams have produced some of the all-time great teams in college basketball from the Flintstones to the Fab Five. Both teams have lifted championship banners in their home gyms. Both teams are representations of the Great Lakes State.

While Michigan leads the all-time series over Michigan State, 91-72, as well as a 56-28 advantage in all the games played on their home floor in Ann Arbor, MSU has dominated as of late. The Spartans have won 16 of the last 19 games including the last 6 of 9 in the Chrisler Arena. In the last meeting on Feb. 10, 2009, the Spartans won 54-42, so the Wolverines were looking for revenge.

In just the second sellout at the Chrisler Arena this season, the Michigan Wolverines hosted the Michigan State Spartans on ESPN on January 26th, 2010…

Pre Game

Walking into the arena, I could barely feel my arms as I carried in a huge television camera, a bag, and a tripod. This would mark the first time that I would attend a national game from a photographer’s perspective on my own since taking my intern this semester at the WMMT 3 television station out of Kalamazoo, MI. Despite the nervousness to produce good content, I was determined to excel and when I walked into the gym and seen the sell-out crowd all in the middle of the national anthem all of my emotions turned to excitement. It seems as though everybody had on yellow, with a touch a green in certain areas for the fans who made the drive from East Lansing. The arena reminded me of a big mustard bottle seriously.

Following the national anthem, the starters were introduced and ironically Manny Harris didn’t start for the Wolverines which left everyone a bit confused. Whether or not it was because of his suspension from last game, which UM head coach John Beilein insisted it was not after the game, was unclear initially.

The introduction of Tom Izzo generated lots of boos while Beilien’s name rung bells. From then, the ball was tipped and the excitement of Big Ten basketball began…

First Half

When Manny Harris entered the game after missing the first 3:12 in the half, 13,751 fans went crazy. As the skinny, Detroit native kneeled in front of the scorer’s table and finally stepped onto the court, you would have thought Michael Jackson walked into the gym it got that loud.

From that point on, the game really started as both teams played their best players. For the Spartans, Raymar Morgan did damage to anyone that was in his path. He connected on five of six shots for 13 points and pulled down 5 boards.

Despite Morgan’s domination, the Spartans entered the locker room at halftime down 27-25 in a typical Big Ten basketball game in which both teams shot well under 45% from the field, with defense being the main focus.

Halftime

After sitting courtside, being stuck with a huge camera in my palms, my legs began  to cramp up so I entered the tunnel to get some circulation in my legs. To my surprise I ran into two Detroit Pistons (Rodney Stuckey and Jonas Jerebko) who were taking a break from their busy season to come watch the action.

On sight, Stuckey noticed me from covering some of the games and we engaged in conversation. “This is a new experience for me, my school was nowhere near this big,” Stuckey said.

I also ran into one of the most famous Wolverines of all-time, Jalen Rose. Sporting a red corduroy suit, with a pair of gray, red, and white Air Force 1’s wrapped around his feet, I got a very quick word with him as everyone seemed to attempt to do the same.

SLAM: Has it been anything that Michigan has done to impress you in the first half so far?

Jalen Rose: They’re playing hard.  We’ve got to knock down a couple of more shot because we gave up a couple of uncontested lay-ups but for the most part we’re going up against the No. 5 ranked team so we’re in good shape so far.

SLAM: So you’ve gotta be pretty proud of their effort…

JR:  Oh yeah, I’m real proud of their effort. They’re playing real well, the crowd’s into the game. I don’t know how having two officials is gonna affect us in the second half because we’re going up against a physical State team but we’ll see.

SLAM: Obviously you’re from the D (aka Detroit), are you so are you going back after the game?

JR: Yeah, yeah, I still stay between Detroit and California

Second Half

As expected, the game heated up in the second half. Neither team could maintain a lead, as there were 17 lead changes in the period. The game would come down to two final possessions.

With 7.2 seconds remaining on the shot clock, Kalin Lucas stepped up to right side of the top of the key to receive a pass  from teammate Durrell Summers. Without hesitation, Lucas blew by Michigan’s Zack Novac with a quick left-handed dribble into the lane and pulled up for a mid-range jumper that slapped into the net for his twelfth point on the night. Leaving only 3.5 seconds remaining, MSU took the lead, 57-56.

After a foul from Draymond Green to stop the clock, only 1.5 seconds remained on the shot clock. Being pressured on the inbounds, Stu Douglass threw a picture perfect alley-oop to DeShawn Sims who couldn’t connect on the lay-up, partly because of his angle and the Spartans stampeded on the floor in victory yet again.

MSU is now 8-0 in conference play.

Post-Game

Wearing a black suit, white shirt, and a MSU green tie, Spartans head coach Tom Izzo took the podium for the press conference, happy that his team escaped yet another close game and proud of his point guard’s latest clutch heroics.

“In general, I thought we had big defensive stops down the stretch and that’s what you’ve gotta do to win big games and we had them and then we went to our go-to guy and if anybody ever wonders why I expect a lot out of him, it shouldnt take you long to figure out why,” Izzo said. “Because he can do it with the pass (and) he asked me to go into the middle of that zone and I just fall in love with guys that want to coach the team in a positive way and he came to me and made a couple of adjustments.”

*Stats

Raymar Morgan scored a game-high 20 points, connecting on 8 of his 9 field goals. Durrell Summers also chipped in 10 points and 10 boards as well as 5 assists for just his second career double-double.

DeShawn Sims led the Wolverines with 19 points and 5 rebounds while Manny Harris chipped in 16 points, 4 rebounds, and 5 assists.

*Next Game

MSU’s next game will be played against Northwestern on their home court on January 30th.

UM’s next game will be played once again in the Chrisler Arena, when they take on Iowa on January 30th as well.

*You can also check these notes out at SLAMonline.com!

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With a solid week of practice after two disappointing losses, the Western Michigan University hockey team entered Ohio to take on Bowling Green University on Friday and Saturday with a new attitude.

On Friday night, the Broncos battled back from being down two goals to force overtime and eventually a 4-4 tie by the night’s end in front of 2,121 rowdy fans at the Green Ice Arena. On Saturday evening, WMU wasn’t as lucky as they fell, 3-2, to Bowling Green in front of 2,195 of their loyal fans.

Although the Broncos did have to overcome a two-goal deficit at one point in the game on Friday night, they struck first in the contest as they wasted no time taking a 1-0 lead at just the 1:26 mark in the first period.

WMU forward J.J. Crew passed the puck to Max Campbell as the Brown and Gold bombarded the BGSU zone. Campbell fired a shot from the right circle with BGSU goalie Nick Eno making the initial save. The puck bounced out to the fold, which led Dane Walters to fire in just his second goal of the season while Campbell picked up his sixth assist on the season.

From then on, the Bowling Green Falcons began to take advantage as their first goal came from a penalty shot by Brennan Vargas with 2:41 remaining in the first period. This was the first penalty shot given up against WMU since a shot by Ferris State’s Mike Kinnie on Nov. 16, 2002.

In the second period, the Falcons took a 3-1 lead as captain Kyle Page scored early in the period from the point on BGSU’s third power play of the game. Cameron Sinclair also scored just 21 seconds later on an unassisted goal at the 3:51 mark.

WMU finally began to march back when Tyler Ludwig scored his second goal on the season which was assisted by Greg Squires and Max Campbell as WMU cut the lead to 3-2. BGSU responded by taking a 4-2 lead after a power play goal by David Solway 6:54 into the third period.

WMU’s Matt Tennyson brought the Broncos within one goal on a delayed-penalty goal with 4:09 remaining in the third period.

Down 4-3 as time was beginning to expire, the Broncos could feel the momentum in their favor with less than one minute remaining in regulation. The Broncos then pulled goalie Riley Gill from the net to get an extra attacker. Campbell controlled the puck as they once again charged deep in the Bowling Green zone and dished it to Crew, and Crew fired it from the left circle.

BGSU goalie Nick Eno made the initial save but the puck bounced to his left and Greg Squires was there to pop in the rebound for his third of the season.

In overtime, no team was able to take advantage as the score remained knotted at 4-4 when the final buzzer sounded.

Spirits were high when the Western Michigan University hockey team stepped back onto the ice Saturday evening to pick back up the action against the Bowling Green Falcons once again on their home turf.

After knotting the previous night at 4-4 apiece, the Broncos felt good about their chances of being able to defeat them.

The Falcons wasted no time getting on the scoreboard as BGSU scored on a power play at the 9:32 mark in the first period. James Perkin managed to squeeze the puck past WMU goalie Riley Gill which bounced back off the boards and on to the stick of James McIntosh. McIntosh nailed the puck past Gill for his first goal in his college tenure.

WMU retaliated fairly quickly as they tied the game just minutes later at 1-1 after a goal by Kyle O’Kane following a BGSU turnover. The Falcons took the lead once again in the second period at the 5:51 mark when Ian Ruel shot the puck from the left point which was stopped in front by McIntosh. McIntosh then tried to spin and make the save, but it only ended up floating to his teammate, Josh Boyd, who connected on the goal to push BGSU back ahead, 2-1.

The Broncos quickly responded yet again as they tied the game at 2-2. Senior assistant captain Chris Clackson scored his sixth goal of the season after being assisted by Ian Slater on a shot that went between the legs of BGSU goalie Nick Eno. The assist marked Slater’s fourth of the season.

Despite the Broncos’ efforts that night, the Falcons would deliver the final blow when Jordan Samuels-Thomas netted the game-winning goal with 5:08 remaining in the third period. The goal pushed the Falcons ahead 3-2 and the Broncos would never recover as their overall record has fallen to 6-12-4.

The schedule will not be much easier for Western Michigan as they pick back up next weekend when they face Miami. The games will be televised with Friday’s on Comcast and Saturday’s on Fox Sports Detroit.

*This post can also be viewed at WesternHerald.com!

Before I begin, I would like to state this: There’s no two teams in all of sports that I love more than the Los Angeles Lakers and the Michigan State Spartans!

Now that you know that, it should be no big surprise that I have cheered on Lakers guard, Shannon Brown ever since I found out that he committed to play in East Lansing with Tom Izzo and the MSU Spartans back in 2003. Brown has the heart, intensity, and motivation that is quickly winning over basketball fans across the nation. The man even has his own campaign (LetShannonDunk.com) going in order to help draw attention his dunks for this year’s competition. The promotion from the site must have paid off as Brown was informed yesterday that he has been selected to take part in the 2010 Sprite Slam Dunk Contest along with Nate Robinson, Gerald Wallace and the winner of the new “dunk-in” competition between DeMar DeRozen and Eric Gordon.

How did he respond? He dropped a career-high 22 points on 8-12 shooting in a 98-92 victory over the Orlando Magic last night, ironically without any dunks.

With that being said, I am placing all of my bets on Brown to become the decade’s first Slam Dunk champion at this year’s All Star Weekend in Dallas, Texas on February 13th in the American Airlines Center. Although he is not a native of Michigan (he’s from Maywood, Illinois to be exact), the state has adopted him after his tenure with one of our favorite college teams and I am confident that his creativity as well as his 44.5-inch vertical jumping will be more than enough to win the crown.

What the world is just now taking notice of is what us Michigan fans have witnessed since his days in a Spartans uni which lasted from 2003-2006. Back when he rocked the No. 3 with the french braids tucked neatly under his headband. He been doing this thing they call dunking since way back in the day. Like the time he jumped over Penn State’s Ben Luber or the time he posterized Stanford’s Matt Haryasz back in 04. He’s been doing this! Since the summer of going from middle schooler to high schooler.

“It was going into my freshman year at Tim Hardaway basketball camp,” Brown said in a Q&A on LetShannonDunk.com. “I actually got a steal, was on the break by myself and I went up and I dunked it. It wasn’t a clean flush, but it was good enough to where I knew I could do it. I’d been trying it in gym class my eighth grade year before that summer camp, and it wasn’t working for me. Then I finally got my chance.”

He’s been doing this! Since the ’03 High School Slam Dunk Contest went he went up against LeBron James on his home turf of Akron Ohio. Not only will Brown win the contest, he deserves to win it after all he’s been through. In one year he has morphed from an unpopular NBA journeyman who had been on 4 teams in 3 years to a fan favorite who is appreciated all over the National Basketball Association averaging 7.6 points as the Lakers’ second-leading scorer off the pine.

Through it all, he still remains humble as indicated in his latest interview with the USA Today where he was quoted as saying: “I used to be a big stat guy, and I still am, but winning is the biggest stat of all, and I’m an NBA champion,” Brown said. “There’s a lot of guys with bigger stats than me that can’t say that. I’m trying to get better every day, as a basketball player and as a man. I have a great foundation that’s helping me do it.”

In the words of Jay-Z, if you can’t respect that you’re whole perspective is wack.

On that note, here is a dunk montage of Shannon Brown. Enjoy!

*this post can also be viewed on mlive.com at It’s Just Sports!

Wilson Chandler Interview

January 19, 2010

In 2005, Benton Harbor’s own Wilson Chandler left the state of Michigan with the Mr. Basketball trophy in his hand.

In his four years of prep basketball, Chandler dominated at Benton Harbor High School and capped his senior season off with not only the Mr. Basketball trophy, but with All-State honors as well. Although his team was beaten in the Regionals by Holt High School, he still finished the season with averages of 24 points, 12 rebounds, five assists, and four blocks per game.

From there, Chandler took his skills to DePaul University where the 6-4, 225 pound forward blossomed into an all-around threat. He completed two years before entering the NBA Draft. In his sophomore season, he was even named to the Big-East all second team, and recorded eight double-doubles, while leading the team to a 20-win season.

On June 28, 2007, Chandler was selected by the New York Knicks with the 23rd overall pick. He is currently in his second season with the franchise and having an impressive year. He is chipping in 14.0 points per game and 5.1 rebounds (as of press time).

During a visit back to Michigan on December 29, 2009, to take on the Detoit Pistons, I caught up with the 22-year-old in the locker room after he contributed 23 points (10-of-20 FG), nine rebounds, three steals, and a block in the Knicks’ 104-87 win over Detroit.

Eric Woodyard: I know you’re coming back to Michigan, do you feel like you had a little extra to prove tonight?

Wilson Chandler: Nah, I just was playing calmly and we was moving the ball and it was just easy. It came to me.

EW: I seen you had your own little section, how did it feel to have your own little section out there?

WC: I mean I’m all over. When I be here in Michigan, I’ma be all over the state. Flint, Saginaw, Kalamazoo, and Detroit so I got a lot of friends everywhere so out of everybody I had like 30 people come to this.

EW: I see that you were rocking the Nike’s tonight…What happened to the Pony’s? (side note: Chandler has his own line of sneakers with the Pony sneaker brand)

WC: They making me a new shoe actually. I’m waiting for them to send them to me so I’m just waiting on them to send me the shoe.

EW: Can you talk about your run to the state championship back at Benton Harbor in high school a little bit? Coming up in high school, how was that?

WC: It was fun to be from a smaller town like that and then make a lot of noise in the states so it definitely was fun. We was going against teams from like Flint, Saginaw and Detroit so they was all good teams and it definitely helped me to be where I’m at now.

EW: Who do you feel like was your toughest opponent?

WC: In high school?

EW: Yeah in high school…

WC: Man, my tenth grade year when Olu (Famutimi) was in high school. Olu was tough in high school. Olu was tough. (Anthony) Roberson, Chris Douglas-Roberts, and the list goes on and on. It was a lot of guards. Logan from (Kalamazoo) Loy Norrix, (Eric) Devendorf and the list goes on and on.

EW: Did you used to come to a lot of Pistons games when you were younger?

WC: Nah, I was more of a Chicago Bulls fan.

EW: So is it still somewhat sort of unreal that you’re now in a locker room playing professionally, even though you’ve been in the league a couple of years now?

WC: Yeah definitely because I’m still in the same spots and in the same places all the time and it just seems crazy sometimes.

*This post can also be viewed on mlive.com at It’s Just Sports!

Dream On

January 19, 2010

*In honor of Martin Luther King Jr Day, Adrian Dantley reflects on seeing the “I Have a Dream” speech in person

Originally Published in SLAM 135:

by Adrian Dantley (as told to Eric Woodyard)

I grew up in the Washington, DC area and I remember when I was 7 years old in 1963, my mama took me to The March on  Washington rally, where Dr. King gave his “I Have A Dream” speech. I don’t remember much, but I remember going down there and there were a lot of people. I was too young to really understand what was going on, but I do remember going there.

I didn’t really brag to my friends about that because most of the guys already knew who Martin Luther King was; I’ve never said that I went to his speech. He was definitely very influential with civil rights. He was a great man, and he left us way too early.

There was a lot of electricity in the air because Martin Luther King was coming to speak. But if it’s anything I remember about Martin Luther King that had an effect on me, it was that he always preached non-violence and that no one was better than someone and that’s the way he treated himself. He always felt that he wasn’t any better than someone and no one was better than him. Also, one thing that I never forgot about him is how he stood up for civil rights, when Rosa Parks was on that bus and when she wouldn’t give up her seat for that white guy. That’s what got him started with civil rights and the Jim Crow laws. That had a big effect on me, and he laid the groundwork for getting the Jim Crow laws abolished. But the main thing was that he always taught non-violence.

I don’t think I ever experienced any incident or anything like that at all or any racial tones when I played basketball at Notre Dame. Things were bad but it wasn’t that bad where I noticed it in high school or college. But I remember a long time ago when Afro-Americans couldn’t even drink water in the same spot as white people. So a lot of things have changed over the years, and we still have somewhere to go.

The NBA does a lot on the Martin Luther King holiday, and if you watch the games on that day, you will see people at halftime talk about it. I don’t know how much more they can do, but overall I don’t do anything special just because it’s Martin Luther King Day. Usually we have a game or we have a game the next day, so it’s not like a holiday where you’re not doing anything at all.

I have a boy and two girls. I teach them certain things and I don’t necessarily say, This is what Martin Luther King said. But we talked about how Martin Luther King was when they were young. You know? Believe in non-violence. Believe in yourself, stand up for yourself, and don’t let anyone take advantage of you.

 **This post can also be viewed on slamonline.com!

Eric Woodyard going through drills at the University of Michigan's Media Day.

After years of following the game of basketball and playing as well, I have come to the realization that some players are just born to play the sport! Despite my opinion on the issue, this doesn’t mean that a player can’t work his or herself into becoming great at the sport.

Take Philadelphia 76ers guard, Allen Iverson for an example, the guy doesn’t dedicate long hours to the sport but instead he just goes out and plays and has become one of the greatest players to ever touch the rock. On the other hand, a player like Los Angeles Lakers guard, Kobe Bryant constantly hones his skills up to 8 hours a day and has willed himself into becoming “arguably” the greatest shooting guard of all-time.

What I am going to share with you are a list of tips that can help you improve your chances at becoming the next Kobe Bryant or LeBron James (…not seriously!) of whatever league or pick-up games that you decide to participate in in the near future.

1.       PRACTICE YOUR SKILLS

This should be the most basic tip that you will ever learn but most players fail to practice in their own free time and the results always show in the end. In order to be good or great at anything, you have to practice the fundamentals of the craft. In this case for basketball, you have to work on your dribbling, both left and right-handed, your shooting, passing and defense.  There are several drills that you can do ALONE that can help you improve at your skills.

2.       STAY IN SHAPE

No matter how hard you work on your skills, if you are not in the proper shape than you will not be able to execute those skills when you finally face your competition because you will be too tired. Some great ways to stay in shape and keep your cardio good are to run and swim. Typically, running a mile at least 3-4 times a week will be more than enough but swimming is also a great tool because it doesn’t put as much tension on your legs and you get the same results.

3.       EAT RIGHT

You cant eat burgers and fries everyday and expect to go out and perform up to your full potential. It may not affect you right now but in the long run it will take it’s affect as it will slow you down. Try to take at least one multi-vitamin each day to get all the nutrients you need and lay off the fast-food and try baked foods sometimes.

4.       GET REST

Try to get at least 5 or more hours of sleep each night so that your body will be well rested and you wont feel sluggish when you’re are ready to compete. There’s nothing worse than being tired even before you get ready to compete.

5.       STUDY THE GAME

There’s no way that you can be good at something if you have no clue of what made other people successful at the sport. When watching a basketball game, pick apart what the good players do and use them yourself and even go back and research what the great players like Michael Jordan, Earvin “Magic” Johnson, and Larry Bird all did in order to be successful and incorporate them into your own game.

I’m not guaranteeing that these tips will help you immediately, but with hard work and dedication to the sport, they will definitely benefit you in the long run. Remember this: “HARD WORK BEATS TALENT WHEN TALENT WON’T WORK HARD!”

*This post can also be viewed in the Western Herald or on westernherald.com! 

When the Western Michigan University men’s basketball team is placed in a pressure situation, head coach Steve Hawkins can feel comfortable knowing that he has a true floor general with the ball in his hands! With all of the hard work that he has put in over the years, dribbling now comes naturally to starting point guard, Mike Douglas. After mastering the skill, Douglas is now ready to share a few tips to help others improve at the skill as well…

Eric Woodyard: What are some basic tips for somebody who may not know how to dribble?

Mike Douglas: A basic tip is to keep your head up and to try to stay low. The lower you get, the easier it is for the ball to come back. You just have to stay low.

EW: Who taught you how to dribble when you were younger?

MD: My momma…

EW: So what types of things did she used to tell you?

MD: She had me do a lot of little dribbling things like dribbling around a trail and just dribble! The more you dribble the better you’re gonna get. It’s just like practice because then you get used to where the ball is going and stuff.

EW: Did you used to watch a lot of NBA players or anybody in particular to help you pick up tips?

MD: Yeah, watching people helps too like when you see somebody do a crossover, I used to go outside and try to do their crossover and just practice. It’s really just practice that makes your handles better.

EW: Was it one person in particular though?

MD:  Um…Jason Kidd, because he was a point guard and he loves to pass like me and Chris Paul and pretty much all the point guards.

EW: Do you think dribbling is the key to being a good point guard?

MD: You’re gonna have to handle pressure because 9 times out of 10. They’re gonna try to pressure you but I think your IQ is the main thing because a lot of point guards can’t really dribble but they know how to get to where they gotta go so that’s the main key.

EW: Has there been any teams in particular, since you’ve been in college that has really made you pull out of all of your dribbling skills that have played good defense on you?

MD: I mean it’s always a guard on one team that’s gonna pressure you and you just gotta try not to dribble so much because when you dribble so much you aint really going nowhere. So you should try to like separate from you to the other person and create space, that’s the main key.

EW: Is there anything else you want to add that I haven’t asked you about like one drill in particular or anything…

MD: The main thing is to get a ball and just wherever you go just dribble. (Dribble with your) left hand, I used to walk down the street like Magic Johnson, and just walk down the street with the left hand and switch hands and go (with my) right hand and try the little crossovers and watch TV too. When you see somebody crossover and you like it, than try to take their little crossover too and add and put it to your game. If you can’t do it than just keep trying and do another move and just keep going.

Another thing is don’t think when you’re dribbling because most of the time when people try to think about what they are trying to do than that’s when they get messed up but if you let a move come to you than it’ll work out better.

*This post can also be viewed in the Western Herald or at westernherald.com!

He came, he saw, he conquered!

Despite the recent Houston linebacker, Brian Cushing, almost unanimously running away the Defensive Rookie of the Year trophy with 39 votes, Detroit’s Louis Delmas deserved it more.

How did the voters on the panel repay him for his outstanding efforts? Zero votes! Nada…Zip. He didn’t even receive a consideration. Not even a nod or a pound.

The runner-up was Buffalo’s safety Jairus Byrd who was second with six votes. Green Bay linebacker Clay Matthews received three votes and Washington linebacker Brian Orakpo got two votes.

Delmas also didn’t make the Pro-Bowl as an alternate. Even after becoming the first rookie in league history and second player ever to score on an interception return, fumble return and a safety in one season. He also registered 79 tackles (54 solo) and scored more defensive points than any rookie in the NFL in 2009. Yet still, his only individual accolade would come early in the season when he won September’s rookie defensive player of the month award.

What more did he have to do? Suit up on offense too and play the whole game? Him not even receiving just ONE vote is unfair.

Although the whole world knows that the Detroit Lions are nothing to brag about as they finished the season with another pathetic overall record, 2-14, Louis Delmas gave fans something to rave about. After being selected with the first pick of the second round by the Lions in the latest NFL Draft out of  Western Michigan University (Go Broncos!!), Delmas hit players harder than a 80’s Tyson blow!

Like the time when he laid out the loud-mouthed Chad Ochocinco. Or the time he went helmet-to-helmet with the great Adrian Peterson. And I almost forgot about the tried to knock the lights out of  the Green Bay Packers’ tight end Jermichael Finley on Turkey Day (which he was later fined for).

The dreaded up 5-11, 202 pound, Florida native let his presence be felt from day one. He didn’t even take it easy on teammates even in training camp as he sparked a light brawl after leveling running back Aveion Cason in a drill when he tried to step into his office (aka the goal line).

Bobby Boucher is what I like to call him…

His toughness and leadership drove him into frenzy this season. At times, I think his quest for winning and wanting to be the best at his position sometimes pushes him over the edge and sometimes paints him in a bad light. Like when Detroit News reporter, Tim Twentyman, described him after the 31-24 loss to Arizona.

Twentyman said: “Rookie safety Louis Delmas couldn’t hold back his following Detroit’s 31-24 loss to Arizona, the team’s 12th loss this season. Delmas tossed his chair aside and was visibly upset when reporters approached him in the locker room after the game. He asked reporters why they were coming over to talk to him after another (expletive) loss.

Veteran tackle Jon Jansen, whose locker is a few down from Delmas’, quickly came over and wrapped his arm around the rookie. Jansen whispered something in his ear, as did a Lions official who was nearby.

Delmas paused for a moment, turned to reporters, apologized, then granted an interview.”

But what fans don’t understand is that Delmas may be looking at the situation as ‘Hey, this losing is only weakening my chances for being considered the best.’ He wants to be placed in the same sentence as Troy Polamalu (Pittsburgh), Ed Reed (Baltimore), Brian Dawkins (Denver) and Bob Sanders (Indianapolis) and he has no problem saying it!

“I look at Polamalu and that’s where I get my hairstyle from. I look at Ed Reed for ballhawk purposes — he’s a beast out there. To be put in the same category, I’d be excited,” Delmas told the Detroit News after the Lions loss to the Cardinals. He had just returned an interception after gaining 101 yards for a touchdown.

Since his days as a Bronco, I have personally witnessed Delmas progress into this devastating athlete that he has become today. I can remember one game in particular in his sophomore year, my freshman year, in which the Broncos played the Eastern Michigan Eagles. Despite being down for almost the entire game, Delmas took over in the final quarter which propelled his team to a victory.  He also  recorded fourth interception and returned it for 28 yards in that game.

Since that game, I have been convinced that he would be a star. Never have I personally saw a safety dominate in the fashion that I have seen him dominate and to be able to do the same in professional football as he did in college is unreal.

At times, I think professional sports are too fixated on wins and losses when it comes to awarding individual accolades. When a player is on a winning team and has decent stats, than he is billed as “Mr. Everything” but the second that team starts to lose than they are placed in the same category as any average Joe.

While this is unfair, this is what I think happened to Louis Delmas this season. Playing on a losing team has rewarded him with losing results but in my opinion, No. 26 for the Detroit Lions is still the REAL Defensive Rookie of the Year!

*This column can also be viewed in the Western Herald on Thursday, January 14, 2010!

When Manny Pacquiao picked up the pen to sign his name on the dotted line to face Joshua Clottey on March 13, I’m sure he felt better about himself.

No worries. No blood testing. No REAL challenge!

It seems as though that’s the way that Pacquiao and his promoter Bob Arum likes it. On the other hand, Floyd Mayweather is begging for the fight to prove that he is still the greatest in the sport and arguably the best to ever do it. He even recently released a statement to fans saying that “First and foremost, not only do I want to fight Manny Pacquiao, I want to whip his punk ass.”

 At 40-0 (25 Knockouts) and coming from one of his best performances against one of Pacquiao’s toughest in Juan Manuel Marquez, could you blame Pacquiao?

I wouldn’t put myself in that danger of stepping into the ring with the Grand Rapids, Michigan native either. It’s seems as though Pacquiao is shaking like booty meat everytime he hears the name Floyd Mayweather! It’s obvious that he doesn’t really want the fight even in his earlier post-fight interview after his showdown with Miguel Cotto when he stated that: “My job is to fight in the ring and it depends on my promoter Arum to negotiate that fight and I’m just gonna take a vacation first and spend time with my family and have fun.”

When asked did he have any preference on who he would like to fight, he stated: “For now I don’t know, like I said for now I’m gonna take a vacation and spend time with my family because this was not an easy fight.” This doesn’t sound like the words of a man who would like to take part in what could be the biggest grossing fight of all time to me.

What Pacquiao has done by taking the fight against Clottey is play with history. The sport of boxing hasn’t saw two superstar boxers collide in their primes since earlier in the last decade. People may want to argue Floyd Mayweather/Oscar De La Hoya or Lennox Lewis/Mike Tyson but the truth is that one fighter was always on the decline of his career. This fight could break records and bring a buzz around the sport bigger than Dr. Dre’s Detox album (which has been pushed back another year by the way).

All the Mayweather camp is asking for is an agreement from the Pacquiao camp to Olympic style drug testing, which includes random urine and blood testing. Mayweather has even decided to give him a 14-day blood testing window but Pacquiao still couldn’t reach an agreement.

Honestly, I am beginning to think that Pacquiao is using steroids because this sounds very fishy. Why would a man run away from $40 million just because of a blood test? The only counter he could come up with was a lawsuit for defamation against Mayweather which is more than lame!

I continue to stand by Floyd Mayweather 100% on this issue and the fight against Pacquio honestly will not make or break his career. To Pacquiao, grow some cajones and give Money Mayweather the fight. If not, do us all the pleasure of retiring from the sport because no other fighter matters at this point of your career.

*this post can also be viewed on mlive.com on my “Swag” column!