Well we begin another week and man was there some good stories that are popping out of the pages today....
The Hot List:
1. Spring Practice Report
2. Final Four Preview
1. Spring practice continues this week as the team continues to work hard at living up to Pelini's perfect standards that he is demanding in practice. A few interesting articles crossed by way over the weekend...one was on the youthful LB core we have this season and another at the impressive builds of Nebraska's 2 RB of Helu and Castille. Nebraska finds itself in an interesting situation this fall, having a LB core be all freshman's and sophmore's. Nebraska hasn't started a group that young since 1997 when a 2 freshman and a sophmore stared at LB. The coaches express great confidence that who ever they decide to play will have the knowledge and the tools to be a great LB on the field. The only thing holding up guys like Fisher and Compton from getting on the field quicker is that they are young and still learning the system. I expect these guys to push some of the veterans for playing time, and guys like Phillip Dillard (who's in Eckler's doghouse) need to step up their game or they'll be seeing a lot of bench next fall. No matter how you look at it, if these guys take huge strides in developing themselves as everyday starters, the position of LB will be pretty deep at Nebraska for years to come.
Another article that drew my interest was about the RB's. Roy Helu has become an animal both on and off the field by adding nearly 10 pounds of muscle to boost him to 222. Castille has gone the other way, using the december bowl practices to boost his confidence and lose weight...he reported in at 235. These guys have done the off season things to become better players in the fall. I'm giving some credit to Dobson the strength coach, he's knowledge of how to get players to gain good healthy weight, and for guys to lose weight is incredible. Nebraska no doubt has the best 1-2 punch at RB next season. I'm stoked to see Helu and Castille run, because with their new body frames, you can expect them to be running over many people next fall. Look out Misery...our guys can't wait to run you over.
2. The Final Four is set with UConn, Michigan State, Villanova, and North Carolina making it in. How many did you have right? I admit I was 50% this year which is a step up from year's past. I still have Carolina and UConn in the finals with UConn taking it all. The matchup's could be the best in years as I feel we have 4 really solid teams, playing hot at the right time in the tournament. It'll be interesting to see how Carolina can slow down Villanova's guards. Duke was torched by the wildcats as they cut to the basket and dropped 3's like it was a full court pick up game. I expect with Carolina's talent to come with a way to play good D to stop them...should be a great game to watch. Michigan State surprises many and makes it back to the Final Four but the draw of playing UConn will be State's biggest test of the season. UConn has done a masterful job getting younger inexperience players to step up since they lost Jerome Dyson. This team hasn't lost a stride and looks like a team that can't be stopped. I expect State to keep it close as their big men will do some work on Thabeet. I don't expect their guards to be able to stop UConn's A.J Price and Kemba Walker. The most noticable is Walker who's flashes of raw speed have made him a matchup nightmare for teams...it'd be interesting to see how me matches up with Lawson should they make the finals.
Picks: North Carolina, UConn
National Champion: UConn
3. Interesting headline pops out at me today as Memphis coach John Calipari is now weighing the idea of taking the Kentucky postion. It'll be interesting to see if he really decides to leave and move to Kentucky as he clearly has built a powerhouse program at Memphis. No matter how much talent he loses from one team to the next, they always seem to reload and be just as good as they were the previous year. Next year should be no exception as he returns a more experienced point guard in Evans, and can look at better things to come from Sallie. I think he'll stay put, but as we've seen many many times, when big money schools come calling with big bucks it becomes hard for some guys to simply say "no" to big dollars and the rep that comes from being the "guy" at a program like Kentucky. We'll just have to wait and see what happens...........