Welcome back kiddies! It’s a new semester and all of our Around the Dorm contestants are getting a fresh start. This week, the contestants will debate the Giants’ best defensive plan of action, the right moves for the Nets’ GM to make and Roger Clemens’ future in the Hall of Fame. Staff writer Duncan Slobodzian, staff writer Brandon Lee and senior editor Lauren Kohout will compete for those precious points. Staff writer Steve Cohen is the ref.
1) The Giants beat the odds as a wild-card team in the playoffs and won three games in a row to win the NFC Championship and make it to the Super Bowl. What do the G-Men need to do defensively to shut down arguably the best offense in NFL history?
DS: It’s certainly a tall task for the Giants’ defense. The Patriots set all kinds of records this season and Brady has an array of top-level targets to choose from. Maybe the most impressive statistic is that they set an NFL record for points scored, yet they had the fewest possessions of any team this year. The Giants’ strength all season has been in their defensive line’s ability to pressure the quarterback. This game should be no different – if the front four can overpower the immensely talented New England offensive line and get Brady to make some rushed decisions, that will give the linebackers and secondary a chance to make plays. Against this prolific offense, you can’t expect to match up and have success against the receivers without pressuring the quarterback.
BL: The Giants’ defense needs to execute perfectly in order to stop the Patriots’ offense. For the Giants, it always starts and ends with the line. If they can hit Brady and plug up holes so running back Lawrence Maroney won’t run wild, they have a chance. They need to hit Brady so he rushes his throws and feels uncomfortable in the pocket. If you stop Brady, then you have to watch out for Maroney (see: Chargers). The linebackers have to do their best in coverage and stop all the underneath passes to Wes Welker. The secondary needs to find some way to stop wide receiver Randy Moss deep and keep an eye out for tight end Ben Watson over the middle. Most importantly in the secondary, cornerback Sam Madison needs to play like he’s not Sam Madison. The same thing goes for cornerback Cory Webster. Madison and Webster make too many stupid mistakes and against the Patriots, you need to be perfect.
LK: They need to break down the O-line and get to Brady. If you take Brady out of the picture, the Patriots just aren’t the same caliber team because there’s no one else who can hit his wide receivers like he can. So if the Giants can force some hurries, get some sacks and cut down the passing lanes to create some turnovers, they’ll have a much easier time breaking down this dynasty. However, the team isn’t going to win unless they’re perfect on both sides of the ball. Basically, everyone needs to have a career game.
SC: All three of you see the importance of getting pressure on Brady and make valid points, but Brandon is wrong when it comes to Webster. Webster has been one of the biggest players for the Giants in the playoffs. Duncan focused a bit too much on the Patriots’ success; we all know how good they are. Kohout gets 3, Duncan gets 2 and Brandon gets 1.
2) If you were the New Jersey Nets’ GM and you had an opportunity to either trade Richard Jefferson for forward Andrei Kirilenko of the Utah Jazz or Vince Carter for forward Zach Randolph of the New York Knicks, which trade would you make?
DS: Those are interesting proposals, but I just don’t know how much the roster would be improved by following through on either of them. It’s difficult to pinpoint the source of the Nets’ problems this season – they have plenty of talent on paper and play in a somewhat diluted division (save Boston, of course). Jason Kidd is having a career year and infuses excitement into the team every time he’s out there. He might see the floor better than any player in the league right now; often he makes perfect passes his teammates don’t expect. To me, the Nets’ biggest struggle is identifying the roles of the supporting cast. As a GM, I’d be more interested establishing Jefferson and Carter as distinctly different position players than trading them for either Kirilenko or Randolph. Or, barring the success of that, make a move later on with the talent-rich free agent class this off-season.
BL: Never make trades for Knicks players unless you plan on cutting them or buying them out. Randolph is a good offensive player if he’s the focal point. Randolph is not good at passing out of the double team and holds on to the ball too much. He will kill ball movement and is a huge liability on the defensive end. Randolph also would not be able to throw down alley-oops from Jason Kidd. Although I would rather keep Jefferson than Carter, I would rather have Kirilenko than Randolph. Kirilenko can do a little bit of everything and would be a good fit to run with Kidd on offense. Defensively, Kirilenko can guard players from the one to the four. Kirilenko is also a sensitive player, so he might benefit from Lawrence Frank’s “player’s coach” style.
LK: Neither of these trades is going to help the Nets because they involve losing their top scorers, but if I absolutely had to choose one of them I’d go with Carter for Randolph. With Kirilenko you’re losing your highest-scoring player in Jefferson and downgrading to a player who scores less than half as much. Randolph is at least averaging a double-double and the Nets could probably use the extra offense his 10.4 rebounds per game is creating. Randolph also has about 40 pounds on Kirilenko, so I’d go with Randolph.
SC: Kohout gets 3 again for her short, to-the-point answer. The Nets are no longer a defensive team, so Kirilenko does not have enough value. While Brandon is right about the type of player he is, you can’t forget that Kidd makes everyone a better player. The Nets have proven that they can’t win with the team that they have so something has to change, Duncan. Brandon gets 2 and Duncan gets 1.
3) Roger Clemens is the most recent big name out of Major League Baseball to be thrown into the mix of accused players who took either steroids or HGH. While he denied any involvement, his former trainer said he injected Clemens as well as other players who have come forward and admitted their use of the performance-enhancing drugs. If it were ever found to be true should Clemens be banned from the Hall of Fame?
DS: The Clemens/McNamee saga has evolved into a he-said/he-said war of words that is going nowhere fast. If they maintain their respective stories in front of Congress, someone will be guilty of lying under oath. The way I see it, it’s an impossible task to quantify the so-called steroids era: there’s no way to know when it started, how many players are guilty and how rampant it was in the minors. I’m with the school of thought that the best possible thing for MLB to do is try to move on and educate the younger generations about the dangers of steroid abuse. The benefits of generating a list of players that used is far outweighed by the costs, financially and otherwise. To answer your question, I would contend the Hall of Fame should be consistent with that sentiment and let players from this era into Cooperstown. The last 20 years shouldn’t be removed from baseball history, just placed into their proper context.
BL: Clemens should not be banned from the Hall of Fame. Even before he was accused of using performance-enhancing drugs, he was on the path to the Hall of Fame. Senator Mitchell also said before the list of players was released that players should not be reprimanded for past uses and that MLB should move forward. If you take Clemens out of the Hall of Fame, then you should also take away all his awards, Jose Canseco’s awards and other player’s awards who have benefited from performance-enhancing drugs. The list can go on and on, including Barry Bonds, Jason Giambi and Chuck Knoblauch. If you punish Clemens then you must punish everyone else, and I don’t see that happening.
LK: Unfortunately, yes. The Hall needs to be consistent. If a player breaks a big rule then he shouldn’t be in the Hall. Otherwise, Pete Rose would be there. If they let Clemens in, then they have to let everyone who has broken one of the major rules in. If that were the case, Bonds, Mark McGuire and Canseco would be first-year-eligible Hall of Famers and it appears that no one wants that. When it comes down to it, if a player has physically-enhanced himself using illegal substances after they were banned from baseball then he shouldn’t be allowed in. Otherwise, where do we draw the line?
SC: Duncan and Brandon’s answers are right on target. Since I have nothing that makes them wrong, I give Duncan 3 and Brandon 2 just because Duncan referenced Chuck Knoblauch. With everything Clemens accomplished earlier in his career, you just can’t keep him out of the Hall of Fame. Kohout finishes last this question and gets 1.
In a tight 7-6-6 battle, Kohout takes the first title of the semester.