WNBA Championship Preview 2017

By Steve Samek

Seems like it was just yesterday that we were previewing the WNBA semi-finals.

The matchups offered a bit of intrigue, as a couple of unlikely contenders went head to head with the top two teams in the league.

Both series ended in three game sweeps. So, to battle it out we have the reigning champion LA Sparks and the top -seed Minnesota Lynx. This is a rematch of last season’s championship series.

Last season I picked the Lynx to win. I was wrong as the Sparks took home the title.

LA Sparks

LA is a strong contender and deserves their chance to defend the title. They finished with the second-best record at 26-8, just a game behind Minnesota. They won their last seven games in a row and went 16-1 at home, best home record in the WNBA. A 10-7 away mark was pretty decent as well.

The duo averaged about 36 points per game during the regular season. Parker averaged 20 points a game during the one playoff series the Sparks played in and combined it with 8.7 rebounds and 6.7 assists per game. Ogwumike averaged 10 rebounds during the playoff matchup with Phoenix.

While LA is without Kristi Toliver a major contributor to last season’s run. They do have Chelsea Gray. Gray is averaging 6.7 assists per game, tops for the playoffs along with Parker.

Odyssey Sims came up big with 22 points in the game three win over Phoenix. She adds another scoring option for LA.

Minnesota Lynx

Yet Minnesota has dominated this season. Number one seed at 27-7. They put up the runner up home mark at 15-2 and 12-5 on the road. The concluded the season on a three-game winning streak. Heck they went on a 37-0 run against Indiana in a 59-point blowout win, both WNBA records this season. How’s that for dominating.

They have Maya Moore and Seimone Augustus, both average 19 points per game in the playoffs.

That’s not to forget they also have Sylvia Fowles and Lindsay Whalen. Fowles is the 2017 WNBA MVP, this for a season averaging 18.9 points per game 10.4 rebounds, both in the top five league wide. She also tied for the league-led in double doubles with 20.

This high level of play is being kept in the playoffs, where Fowles is average 20 points per game and 10 boards per game.

Whalen is among the playoff leaders in assists with just under five per game with Moore and Augustus behind per at just under four and a half per game.

The Lynx have a lot of talent to contend with. They seem to be the favorite again this year as well.

During the season series LA took two of the three match ups. This including the most recent matchup on August 27,2017 in LA. LA won last year despite being the underdog and is more than capable of during it again.

Either way this should be a treat of a series. I think it goes down to the fifth game once again. This time with the home team winning. I take the Lynx 3-2, just like last season.

 

 

 

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Top Five Football Movies

By Steve Samek

With football season starting I think it is time for a top five list related to it. Like the top five baseball movies I did before it, I’m taking a look at my top five football movies.

5. The Little Giants. Probably one of the first football movies I ever saw. I view this one a good bit, because it’s so fun. Good movie to just go back and watch the kids play for the love of the game that often gets lost in this win now mentality of the sport.

4. Remember the Titans. This one is simply a classic and worth watching every time it’s on TV. It’s a great drama with a lot of good football action.

3. Gridiron Gang. This one is a good blend of drama and humor. Not to mention inspiring. I mean who wouldn’t want to join up on a football team coached by the Rock.

2. The Water Boy. This one is just really funny. Its quotable as heck too. I mean who hasn’t compared water to Gatorade, or wondered why alligators are super aggressive. I like this one a bit more than the Longest Yard, though it earns an honorable mention. It’s just a good movie to show the fun side of football.

1. Friday Night Lights. I love this story of a football obsessed Texas town. It had some humor, heart break and sports drama. It’s simply the whole ten yards in one movie. Ranked Number ten in the list of best football movies by Fandango.

 

Top Seven Bowling Balls

By Steve Samek

Before I became a writer, I did play some sports. I played to multiple degrees of success and for different lengths of time. Though the sport that I played the most was bowling. I stuck with it for four years bowling competitively. I do some day hope to rejoin the sport, as my passion for it hasn’t really died down much, despite not hitting the lanes for at least three years.
While I was bowling I used a good bit of equipment. Some of it good and some not. Each piece does have memories attached to it. So, for fun I’m going to rank the top seven, that’s all of them by the way bowling balls I threw.

7. Brunswick Tzone. This was my first actually bowling ball. I won it in a raffle basket. I threw it during my first full season league and during my first high school team tryouts and matches. They look lie this today, but mine was purple, gold and silver.

6. Hammer Axe. This ball is another basic plastic ball. It came into the bag last actually as I felt I needed a spare ball. It’s a pretty cool ball nice and shiny. Sadly, it doesn’t really have a memory attached with it. Though it was pretty handy though for those spares.

5. Brunswick Avalanche Blue/Silver Perl. This was my first reactive bowling ball. It was a Christmas gift my freshman year of high school. The first game I used it I had a chance at my first ever 200 game. I put the ball in the gutter and ended up with 198. It was still my highest game to that point. A couple weeks later I went 225 with it for my high game. It also helped me place in the top 10 during one of the first tournaments I ever entered. It was then retired after winning a league championship for something heavier. Though the color scheme would come back soon.

4. Ebonite Magic Action. My least favorite reactive ball. I got it to replace the number two offering on this list. It didn’t really do very well for me and my average didn’t seem to rise. I just wasn’t a good fit for this ball. However, I did throw a Dutch 200 game with it during a match my junior year. The color swirl looks really cool too.

O and it come through for me in the tenth frame of game three for another league title, when I was able to catch a double with it and we just edged out the win.

3. Hammer Blue/Silver Taboo Pearl. The ball that replaced the magic was better than it. I mostly remember getting it drilled and then throwing six strikes on six shots with it. It was a decent ball, but not my favorite. Though it was a major tool in winning a summer challenge league doubles title and overall match play points title.

2. Storm 2nd Dimension. This ball made things interesting. I got it the last day of my first ever full season league in time to use it in the third game. It was an unimpressive 92 game, but we still took home the title. Yet, I think that would be the lowest game I threw with it. This ball had to have raised my average 30-40 pins. In fact, I was named most improved bowler during my sophomore season throwing this ball. Did o mention it smells like apple pie too. How could you not love that?

1. Hammer Onyx Vibe. My final ball maybe the most boring, but really does have a special place in my heart. This ball was drilled to be less aggressive for dry oil conditions. That would be a lie. It could almost out hook the taboo for like 50-100 bucks less. Good deal aside I used this ball a good bit. With it I was able to record my high series of 602 during a high school practice. It also helped me go 100 pins over average for a 254 game, my highest game ever. I spared in the first before the next eight strikes in a row and then a split, but I was still happy with the result. That’s why it’s my all-time favorite ball that I own.

 

 

Fling Golf

By Steve Samek

Found an intriguing new sport. If you could call it that, more like a variation of two sports. The new game is called Fling golf and it looks like it’s part golf and part lacrosse. In fact, it was from the MLL Twitter page that I found out about it. It looks to be a popular training tool from player from the pros to those just learning.

Played on a traditional golf course, but with a stick looking more like a lacrosse stick. Players score like golf, but use a flicking motion to throw the ball, rather than hit it. Apparently, the scores are pretty close to what you would score in actually golf too.

The MLL is embracing the sport. During the all-star game, they had a Fling Golf event as part of the festivities. Jeremy Sieverts won the over-all tournament and is part of a contingent of eight players that enjoy the sport aside from their careers in MLL. It must work as training too, as last season’s Championship game MVP Eric Law is one of those players on the course.

I think it would be worth a shot to try. Though I never golfed before, I did buy a lacrosse stick and fool around a good bit with it, before deciding to bowl instead. It would be a lot easier to throw the ball I think than try and hit it. If nothing else it’s another sport to try. I also like that it can be used as a non-contact training method for lacrosse. Good for all the concussion concerns of contact sports.

If you’re interested in learning more about the game go to this website. 

There you can get links to rules and a map of courses that let you play. You can also buy equipment  and find coaches to get you game to the next level.

 

 

Pick Them Week 2

Steve Samek

Went 9-4 last week ,which is a good start. Let’s see how well this week goes.

Texans @ Bengals
Bills @ Panthers
Bears @ Buccaneers
Vikings @ Steelers
Cardinals @ Colts
Patriots @ Saints
Eagles @ Chiefs
Jets @ Raiders
Cowboys @ Broncos
Redskins @ Rams
Lions @ Giants
Browns @ Ravens
Titans @ Jaguars
Dolphins @ Chargers
49ers @ Seahawks
Packers @ Falcons

 

WNBA Semi-finals Predictions 2017

By Steve Samek

Play off dust is starting to settle after the chase for spots.

Actually, they have played two rounds and the semifinals sit before us.

Battle number one is between the off-season winner’s Washington and the favorites from Minnesota. Washington got to this point with victories over Dallas and fourth seeded New York. Minnesota dominated this season earning the number one seed and a double bye into the semi-finals.

In the season series, the Lynx took all three meetings. Most recently the two played on September third, an 86-72 Lynx victory.
Taking a look at the matchup that features a lot of star power. Minnesota will go with Mya Moore, Sylvia Fowles and Lindsey Whalen. The Mystics counter with Elena Delle Donne, Kristi Toliver and Emma Messman.

Delle Donne scores at will averaging 19.7 points per game. Moore does too with 17.3 points per game. Though she does seem to elevate her game against Washington averaging 21.6 points and 5.3 rebounds. All of Moore’s other stats also improve vs. the Mystics as well.

Delle Donne missed a good bit of time this season with an injury, but has come to life in the playoffs, averaging 21.5 points and 10.5 boards.
Toliver adds three point shooting ability, including nine as part of a 32-point night against NY. Plus, she was a part of last season title winning LA Sparks, who beat the Lynx.
Fowles should be able to offer a 1-2 punch with Moore in scoring. She scores at a 18.9 points per game pace and controls the glass with 10.4 rebounds. Minnesota should be tough to stop offensively if both of them click.

I think the Lynx are favorites for a reason. They win games and titles like it’s their job. This experience should help against a Washington team that has never played for a title and has a 6-18 playoff record coming into this season.

Prediction is Lynx in four.

Second Semi-final

The second semi-final is the two seeded LA Sparks and the Phoenix Mercury. The Mercury beat Seattle and Then upset Conneticut to advance to this round as the five seed. The defending champions come in at the number two position and earned a double-bye.
The season series was swept by LA. Though Phoenix kept in close in the first game of the series, losing by just a basket.

Though the last time these two met in the playoffs in 2014 it was the Mercury who survived.

LA is looking to Candace Parker and Nneka Ogwumike to led the way. Parker averaged 16.9 points per game and Ogwumike 18.8.

Phoenix will look to Britney Griner to led the way. Griner is the playoff scoring leader, averaging 24.5 points per game. This is over her 21.9 points per game regular season average, also tops in the league.

Diana Taurasi will complement Griner. Taurasi averaged 17.9 points per game during the regular season. She is also the WNBA all-time leader in three pointers made.

Phoenix can score a lot, but will it be enough to beat LA.
LA should lean on the experience of last year’s win. They are a formidable  team, having beaten a possible dynasty in Minnesota last season. They aren’t going to bow out early if they can help it. Phoenix may keep it close, but ultimately should falter. Sparks 3-1 is my prediction.