Five Easy Pieces

December 31, 2007

Happy New Year…

Filed under: Family,Movies,Sports,TV — danletscher @ 2:40 pm

What started out this year as a fast and furious blogging experience has definitely become a trickle.  Here’s some bits of what’s been happnin’:

(1) Watched Eastern Promises a few nights ago.  Definitely worth a look.  brutal, savage, bloody – all good Cronenbergian adjectives fit this one.  Except “surreal”.  The Ukranian accents can be a bit thick to penetrate at times but the story moves along at a nice pace and the steam room brawl is (literally) balls out intense. 

(2) Ratatouille is a great flick as well.  The adults watched it Christmas night after the kids were all tucked in (they watched it earlier that day).  Good laughs and incredible animation again from Pixar.  Our family snuggled up last night in the king-size bed for a repeat viewing.  We’ll be watching plenty more I suppose.

(3) Waitress was a delightfully simple film.  Simple premise, simple characters and you have a simple smile on your face the whole time.  I just got another film from writer/director Adrien Shelly, “I’ll Take You There”, looking forward to it.  The tragedy of Shelly’s death is not one to ignore – her talent was apparent to all in the industry and Waitress would have propelled her to national identity.

(4) I wasted my time with Live Free or Die Hard.  The first hour was somewhat worthy of the concept but the latter half turned into complete crap.  After the movie ended (at 11pm) I immediately got out the original Die Hard DVD and watched it.  Nothing better to get that acrid taste of the previous film out of my system.

(5) Talk to Me is worth a watch.  Don Cheadle does a great job as the jive-talking 70’s era Washington DC DJ, Dewey Peters.  I knew nothing of this man and was impressed with the impact he had on the city and the races.  The movie is funny as hell and Cheadle owns the whole thing.

(6) I only watched The Office on TV this year until the writer’s strike over.  My favorite from last year, Heroes, was unwatchable crap for the first four weeks so I gave up on it.  I’m going to watch the first season again on DVD with my wife (she missed it) to make me feel better.

(7) Haven’t been reading too many books lately – although I just picked up Clive Barker’s new one (about time!).

(8) Xavier Bball is in full force with their toughest non-conference sked ever.  Good wins vs. Indiana, Kent State, Creighton, UC.  Tough losses vs. Miami, Tennessee and ASU.  Next three games will tell a lot about our January – KSU, Virginia, Auburn.  Three BCS schools in one week.  Then the conference starts and the A-10 is loaded after a lot of down years.  Dayton and Rhode Island are ranked, UMASS is knockin’ on the door.  Brutal year ahead.

(9) We have been non-stop since Halloween.  Kids turned 6 and 3 in November, I turned 37(!) in December, Christmas parties, holiday travels and now New Year’s Eve tonight.  2008 can’t come soon enough.

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March 15, 2007

My Bracket (*and where to print the best one)

Filed under: Sports — danletscher @ 8:31 am

My Bracket

I found a great fillable bracket on Kansas University’s site – register your email for free and they send you a confirmation. Click their link, create user id and password and go the men’s basketball page and look on the right hand column for “bracket: generator”. It’s nice because you click on the team, you want and they advance them for you. Keep clicking and your complete bracket is filled in and then downloadable as a pdf (adobe) file. Very clean, until you start scratching off the missed picks!

Apparently blood is not thicker than the bracket

Filed under: Sports — danletscher @ 8:08 am

** Both of my brothers are cursing my name right now.  I have their alma maters losing in the first round of the tourney.  My oldest brother Scott is a Marquette graduate and my older brother Tim is a Notre Dame grad.  I pick MSU to beat MU – I just can’t go against Izzo, the man is magic in March.  I think Marquette has the better talent overall but the coaching mentor will take down the protege.  I have Winthrop beating ND, much to the chagrin of my brother and my father.  My dad is a fan as well but also thinks Winthrop is a creation of the media, doing their best to pick the “George Mason” of this tournament.   The three brothers will get through this turbulent time; I mean, do we look like we don’t stick together?The Letscher Boys

** I really wanted Syracuse to lose in the NIT last night, but they didn’t thanks to South Alabama’s self-destruction. They were on their way to humiliation losing 59-50 with 11+ minutes to go.  Then S.A. went to sleep, didn’t score for 7+ minutes and Syracuse scored 18 unanswered pts.  Damn.

** Granted the Xavier/BYU game isn’t getting as much hype as the other #8/#9 games – except that the winner gets to face OSU – but it’s understandably impossible to take the spotlight from the other three games.  Serious marquee names and major conglomerate, er…I mean conference  representation.  Marquette vs. Michigan State;  Arizona vs. Purdue; Kentucky vs. Villanova.  The 8 teams in the #8/9 match-ups have too many national titles, final fours, elite 8s, sweet 16s, overall NCAA appearances, conference tourney titles and regular season titles to compute.  The numbers are through the roof.  For the record I have XU, Nova, MSU and Arizona advancing.

** I’m really glad that XU plays late tonight (est. 9:40pm tip).  No work, no kids – just me and the game and a few St. Pauli Girls.  Of course, I will have the phone next to me keeping in touch with my fellow XU gurus in Connecticut, Michigan and Ohio.

What a shot!

Filed under: Sports — danletscher @ 7:29 am

Check this one out…Oregon H.S state playoffs…halftime buzzer beater…360, over the shoulder halfcourt shot…????

March 14, 2007

NCAA…finally

Filed under: Sports — danletscher @ 11:04 am

It’s here.  Niagara kicked off the tourney last night in low fashion with the “play-in” victory and now get the privilege of playing Kansas…

** My worst fear for Xavier came true last Friday night as they lost to Rhode Island in the A-10 semis and cost themselves a higher seed in the NCAA bracket.  The silver lining is that GW won the tourney and made the NCAA for the 3rd straight year, getting the conference more exposure and tourney revenue.  I watched the XU game, thanks to my friend Dan’s satellite dish, and was nervous the whole way.  It was a close blow-for-blow game and unfortunately XU fell into the December/January habit of heaving threes and playing desperate in the final three minutes.  They looked lost and Sean Miller was outcoached by A-10 coach of the year Jim Barron.  Once again, Drew Lavender was outstanding.  But URI was nailing a lot of shots and was very aggressive to the boards.

** That set up XU for an 8/9 matchup with BYU.  I am not familiar with them but have read that they have two big guys that may be a matchup problem.  And Danny Ainge’s kid is the point guard – I hate Danny Ainge.  XU will have to play some lockdown D and work it inside to get their guys in foul trouble.  The outside shots of Lavender and Burrell need to fall because Doellman, Cage and Duncan may get roughed up inside and could get into foul trouble themselves.  It’s too bad Brandon Cole has become invisible after his impressive contributions following Duncan’s ankle sprain.  He has been horrible the past few games and could be a liability on Thursday night.  After solid play, he’s back to his “hands of stone” mode and the turnovers are costly.

Of course, I have Xavier beating BYU and then overcoming the Buckeyes in round 2 to advance to the Sweet 16.  OSU is damn good but our guys are very experienced and will not give a shit if they have the phenomenal freshmen.  Regardless of their Big Ten tourney weekend, they are not unstoppable.  Hell, if Penn State and Michigan can play them to the wire, XU can certainly pull this one off.  XU will then beat Virginia, setting up a good grudge match with them when X goes to Cavalier-land next season (UVA comes to Cincy in ’08).  But I see X’s road ending in the Elite 8 again (as in 2004).  Texas A&M and Acie Law is my pick for the Final Four.  The other three are Georgetown, Florida and Pitt.  Florida wins it all over A&M.  I wanted to pick someone else but they have easiest path through the regional and may be unstoppable after that momentum.

** Upsets are usually dictated as lesser teams beating better (i.e. major conference) teams.  That’s B.S. in the tourney thanks to seeding and the intangible of being there in the moment.  As I said in an earlier post, my paper tiger is #3 Washington State.  I have #14 Oral Roberts taking them out in the 1st round.  In the same regional bracket I have #11 George Washington beating #6 Vanderbilt.  GW will run their asses off and may be sloppy but if they can overcome the erratic shooting lapses they fall prey to, they’ll win.  #12 Old Dominion beats #5 Butler.  I wish I could pick Davidson over Maryland but Gary Williams always brings a solid team to the tourney, regardless of their season – much like Izzo at MSU, barring last year’s stunner to George Mason.  Another #12 over #5 is Illinois beating Va. Tech.  *If only one lower seed wins in the 1st round (besides XU, since they are the 9 in the 8/9 equation!), please let it be #11 Virginia Commonwealth beating (unjustified) #6 Duke.

** I  don’t get the backlash against Xavier by ESPN.  They are on ESPN, ESPN2 & ESPNU 10 times this year (going 9-1), getting constant praise by the announcers and studio guys all year, and then get dumped on by Jay Bilas, Andy Katz, et al for getting an at-large over the likes of Syracuse and Florida St.  Smells like Billy Packer in here.  XU received only one of 6 at-large bids granted to teams outside of the Big 6 conferences.  Their resume has been lauded all season long and were anticipated as locks by Joe Lunardi, Jerry Palm and other “bracketologists” well before Sunday night.  And enough about losing to Duquesne!!  We lost to them at Duquesne during their winningest point of the season.  Boston College lost to them in the non-conference schedule AT Boston College!!  No one mentions that one.  There is some love for Xavier out there though.  Thanks to my father for forwarding this one vote of confidence to me.  I’m done, I have to breathe now.

March 8, 2007

Championship Week is rolling along

Filed under: Sports — danletscher @ 10:53 pm

God, I love this! Xavier rolled over Dayton for the third time this season with dominating play from the core of 2 seniors and 3 juniors. They all scored double digits – in fact they were the only players to score for X. Smothering defense forced Dayton into 8+ minutes of scoreless basketball. Xavier PG Drew Lavender continued his hot streak – 13 pts, 3 steals, 9 assists and only 1 turnover. They take on Rhode Island tomorrow night; they beat URI by 26 two weeks ago.

St. Louis beat UMass in OT, so that pretty much crushes their chance at a NCAA bid. Xavier is a lock according to all the gurus, so the only chance for the A-10 to get a second team in is for someone other than XU winning the tournament final on Saturday. I’d like to see the conference get two teams in but don’t want to see XU take it on the chin to accomplish that. I want to be riding an 11 game winning streak going into the Dance.

I just finished watching the endings of the Louisville/West Virginia double OT game and the NC State/Duke OT game. The Cards and the Wolfpack prevailed. I am like so many sports fans; Duke doesn’t have to do anything other than be Duke to inspire scorn for their success and giddiness for the failure. Actually, I do have a damn good reason to piss on them – they stopped Xavier’s miraculous 2004 run in the NCAA, beating X by three to advance to the Final Four.

I’m now watching Marquette/Pitt in another great game. The refs are letting them bang and it’s a tie game with 7 minutes to go in the first half. The first two games for these teams were awesome (I watched both) and this is the same. I say just let them wear boxing gloves and beat the shit out of each other.

It’s going to be another late night. I was up last night watching the ASU/Washington game til after 1:00 am. I’ll be doing the same for Wash/Wash St. I saw Wash St. play once and they did not look like a top 15 team to me, but their success in the PAC-10 is tough to argue with. I want to see them at least one more time so I can be comfortable in picking them to lose in the 1st round of the NCAA tourney. I just can’t help seeing them as a perfect paper tiger to take an early fall.

March 6, 2007

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…

Filed under: Sports — danletscher @ 11:39 am

Not Christmas. Championship Week. It has close games, the chance to see small schools before they hit the NCAA – and it means the tourney starts in a week! My team, Xavier, finished the regular season with a win on Saturday and clinched the Atlantic 10 season title. Their #1 seed for the conference tourney means they are in a bracket with five teams they have beaten this season, a few by some large margins. XU looks like a lock for the NCAA tourney but a stronger finish this week could get as high as a 6 or 7 seed. My fear is they let down and lose their conference tourney, leading to a #8/9 seed. I’d rather have a #10-12 than face a #1 seed in the second round (assuming, of course, X wins game 1).

I watched the end of the VCU/George Mason game – good win for VCU, and it helps Xavier since we beat them in November. The game of the night was Siena/Niagara, at least until the last 25 seconds. It was a typically fast-paced and close game for Championship Week, however Siena lost their cool and rushed a bad running shot with no rebounders in position to help. They were only down 1 with the ball and no shot clock. I liked the fact that the coach let them bring the ball up, get into their offense and didn’t try to micromanage by calling the timeout. But the PG showed impatience and I think he made a big mistake forcing the layup attempt through some good D. Niagara got the ball and then made their foul shots the rest of the way.

I care that Gonzaga won their conference tourney only because it means Santa Clara didn’t. While it is nice to see some “Cinderellas” I want as many favored conference champs to win so that firms up XU’s easier shot at an at-large selection if they don’t win their conference tourney. That’s why I like to see VCU, Gonzaga, Winthrop, Davidson all win. If they lose those games to four teams that wouldn’t get in without that crown, the bubble teams all start sweating because it just got a lot more crowded on the edge of uncertainty. I want Butler to win tonight for the same reason; Wright State has been a great story this year but Butler gets in either way. WSU only gets in with a win – if they do, then Butler squeezes out an at-large bid otherwise available to a deserving team.

I am also selfish in that I want to see the Atlantic 10 get two picks. XU has already shown they can do damage in the tourney in the past, and their momentum and skill level is riding very high right now. I would like to see UMass get in as well as an at-large bid (I still want to kick their ass in the conference tourney championship). Their frontcourt duo of Rashaun Freeman and Stephane Lasme (A-10 Player of the Year and Defensive POY) are studs. They combine for 29 pts and 18 rebounds a game, and Lasme blocks 5 shots a game. They’re both seniors and I would pick them to win their first-round game in the NCAA. I’m glad they won’t be around next season.

March 2, 2007

Quite a February…

Filed under: Sports — danletscher @ 12:22 pm

Xavier finishes the month of February 22-7 overall PLUS: (1) unbeaten for the month, riding a 7 game streak (2) tied with UMass for the conference lead at 12-3, having beaten UMass in their only match-up as well (3) averaging a margin of victory during this stretch of 21 ppg (4) PG Drew Lavender is playing out of his mind – for the month (7 games) he had 40 assists and 6 turnovers (6 to 1 ratio!), 16 ppg, 59% from 3-ptrs (20-34), 90 FT % (36-40).  Phenomenal stats!!  A win tomorrow @LaSalle insures at least a tie for the season title and 1st seed in A-10 tourney.  If X wins and St. Joe’s beats Umass, then the conference crown is theirs outright.

March 1, 2007

Texas/Texas A&M

Filed under: Sports — danletscher @ 2:20 pm

In the words of Fran Fraschilla, “Thanks to the magic of ESPN” I was able to watch Texas A&M last night in a knock-down, drag-out fight with the Longhorns.  I caught most of the 1st half but didn’t check back until the end with Texas up 3, only to sit through over 10 minutes of timeouts to watch the final 9 seconds of regulation.  I was this close to turning it off a couple times.  YOU DON”T HAVE TO USE EVERY TIMEOUT ALLOTTED TO YOU!!

I was glad I stayed tuned in though.  Acie Law IV did it again, nailed a 3-ptr to send it to overtime.  Then he did it AGAIN in OT to send it to double overtime.  Then he didn’t do it and Texas won.  Great intensity and helluva finish.  Reminiscent of the best game of the year, Texas losing in 3OT to Oklahoma State.

February 28, 2007

More college hoops

Filed under: Sports — danletscher @ 3:41 pm

Three things to point out in ESPN.com’s Weekly Watch:

(1) I normally like Fran Fraschilla, he is definitely one of the better color commentators during games.  However, the first sentence of his blurb on Texas A&M starts out “Thanks to the magic of ESPN…”  Seriously?  That’s a little overdone there, Fran- I think I just threw up in my mouth.

(2) I actually agree with Doug Gottlieb!  He’s normally a doofus in my books (the picture doesn’t help), but I agree wholeheartedly with his take on questioning Ohio State’s #1 ranking.  I felt the same way about their football team last season.  [Yes, that was even before they had their ass handed to them by Florida]

(3) I love to see any mention of Xavier (see previous post on Forde, as well) in a positive light.  It’s tough to be acknowledged in a league perceived to be as mediocre as the Atlantic 10.  Drew Lavender is finally putting up the numbers and running the team from the point, fulfilling the expectations of pre-season hype in the media and by the fans.

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