Tuesday, November 6

You Play Ball Like A Girl: Mike Brown

'You Play Ball Like A Girl' is a weekly feature (I swear I'll try to make this a weekly feature) for HooPH wherein we look at a player/team/coach in the NBA who sucked the most in the week that was, that even a blindfolded Brittney Griner could easily beat in a one-on-one pick up ball. Okay, Griner is a beast and it may be possible that she is still *that* good blindfolded, but you get the idea.

No offense to girls. Or Brittney Griner.

Mitch Kupchak was unofficially awarded the title Greatest Magician That Ever Lived after securing two blockbuster trade deals that sent superstars Steve Nash and Dwight Howard to the land of Purple and Gold.

Soon, there was beer-passing on the LA freeway and hush talks about the possibility of hoisting a 17th championship banner (and Kobe Bryant's 6th ringgzzz) became loud discussions in the streets of Los Angeles and Lakers Nation online.

It was an off-season of rainbows and unicorns; an orgy of joy, if you will. Just like how quickly a magician amazingly pulls not one, but two rabbits from an old, worn hat, the Lakers were once again a force to reckon with.

But the God of Hardwood is one cruel master.

In a startling twist of fate, the star-studded Los Angeles Lakers started 0-3 for the first time since 1978. Counting their winless preason, they were at 0-11 before securing their first season win at the expense of the (obviously lesser talented) Detroit Pistons. (Some arguing that it wasn't a legit win since it was against the Pistons but whatevs.)

With a city and a fanbase that have become accustomed to glittering success, panic ensued in Lakerland. Twitter exploded with clamors of firing head coach Mike Brown (they also wanted, nay, demanded the Zen Master back) and abandoning the newly adopted Princeton offense.

So much have been said about the team's lack of chemistry, which becomes very evident in poor play executions, which, in turn, result to a high TO rate, or their perennial problem in defense. But what I would really want to highlight in this 'You Play Ball Like A Girl' feature is the stinky garbage na nagkakalat known as the Lakers' head coach, Mike Brown.

If it isn't obvious enough, this Lakers team is playing uninspired basketball. When people say 'something is wrong in that locker room', they meant to say it's that bald man with a smiling face. The most obvious of the team's problems boil down to bad coaching.

My biggest gripe against Mike Brown is about the Lakers rotation-- it's a mess. It has been since last season. To say that Brown puts out inconsistent player rotations is an understatement. He's worst than a middle aged woman who still manages to get her period when he changes his mind regarding who should back up whom.

Two players I want to put a spot here to drive my point: Antawn Jamison and Jodie Meeks. Their addition was supposed to plug a hole in the sinking bench boat, but they were placed in a conundrum instead.

Jamison (who was an all star PF, BTW) is playing back up to Metta World Peace (instead of Pau Gasol), when in fact he hasn't played as a SF since, what, 2001? Meeks was signed to be Kobe Bryant's back up, which he did on their first game against the Dallas Mavericks. But then Brown made Devin Ebanks play back up SG the next two games when he should be backing MWP instead. This resulted in Meeks playing a measly 5 minutes against Portland and didn't even get to suit up against the Clippers.

The thing about inconsistent rotations is that it makes your players confused. If he doesn't know at which position he should play, or if he is constantly thinking day to day if he will play or not, how can he practice a routine? How much more to find his place in a foreign offensive strategy?

It doesn't take an NBA analyst to figure out that the lack of set rotations greatly affect player production. So it doesn't surprise me that not one in the Lakers second unit has a positive +/- statistic. Not to mention it puts bigger pressure on the starting five, where they are forced to play longer minutes than they are supposed to. Like how Bryant went to play 43 minutes last Friday against the LA Clippers on an injured right foot, primarily because Brown wanted to snag a win. GOOD LORD.

Of course, it is too early to say that Mike Brown will be the death of the LA Lakers. There's too much talent on that team that could easily take them to the playoffs. But it takes more than raw talent to be able to parade down Figueroa again. The Lakers need a coach that doesn't play ball like a middle-aged blonde spinster.

Wednesday, July 25

The Girlfriend’s Guide to Surviving the PBA Governors’ Cup Finals

Last Sunday, the PBA Governor’s Cup finals between Rain or Shine Elasto Painters and B-MEG Llamados took off to an exciting start. There was a great deal of pushing and shoving between players, technical fouls were called one after another, there were plenty of not-so-nice words exchanged, and a monobloc chair was thrown onto the court.

You can’t be bothered to care, really, but this presents an impending predicament: no thanks to this rather titillating Game One, your boyfriend is now pumped up for Game Two, and it looks like your usual quiet Wednesday dinner date is going to take a raincheck. And it’s a bigger problem, when he says, “Hey, this should be an exciting series.” Then count out your Friday and Sunday soirees as well.

Let’s face it. Not all girlfriends are created equal. Some are more understanding of their boo’s obsession with watching grown men chase and shoot a ball, while others sit at the end of the sofa, arms crossed and an eyebrow raised, everytime their boyfriends have the telly tuned to basketball.

It’s not a crime not to love sports, ladies. But since you’re with someone who eats, breathes, and thrives with the excitement sports bring him, you might want to come to terms with it.

The Dwight Howard Saga Continues

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It all started with the running candidate for the world’s most awkward interview, and thus began the mighty, confusing, and for most part, annoying, Dwight Howard saga. Until before yesterday, it seemed like it was coming to an end. But like the Howard deals in the past, the potential four-team deal involving the Magic, Clippers, Cavaliers and Nets oddly fell apart.

Whether it was because Kris Humphries didn’t want to play for the Cavs (seriously, who would?), or because the persistent Mitch Kupchak came up with a better deal, the Magic has not been much farther than where they were at the start of the off season: coachless and stuck with a disgruntled superstar.

It’s a little bit embarrassing that as it stands right now, it seems like Dwight Howard is steering Magic’s future, instead of its new General Manager, Rob Hennigan. As we all remember, Howard played a crucial role in the unceremonious exits of then Magic head coach Stan Van Gundy and GM Otis Smith. That little antic left the franchise without a coach and with the youngest (not to mention the cutest! :p) GM in the league.

Instead of keeping his mouth shut and to just wait for his free agency out, Howard spent the better part of last season whining about not getting traded, opted in to his one year extension, and got his coach and GM fired. And now he’s demanding a trade ala Carmelo Anthony, by publicly wanting to be exchanged to the team of his choice, which in this situation, is the Nets. This, along with the fact that he refuses to sign an extension with any another team, has given Howard complete control of the whole Orlando Magic organization. (Don’t you wish you can do this at your job.)

Howard has given the Nets a lot of leverage for them to acquire him, even to the point of low balling the Magic, because the Nets know Magic will not keep a ticking time bomb like Howard. But that deal has since collapsed in a matter of hours. New talks of a possible trade scenario between the Lakers, Rockets and Magic have been unveiled today. In my opinion, and I’m not saying this just because I am a Lakers fan, if the teams involved are looking at rebuilding anyway, this might be slightly better than any other standing trade possibilities at hand. One thing is for sure: neither Howard nor the Magic management would want the superstar still hanging out in sunny Orlando.

If and when the indecision finally ends, Howard will easily pass LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony as the guy who handled his impending release completely and utterly wrong. Now that LBJ has finally secured a championship ring, most NBA hooligans are looking for a new person to hate. Sorry, Dwight. But it’s not too hard to hate on you after all the crap you pulled this season.

The Magic, on the other hand, will be known as the team that shamelessly gave away the keys of their franchise to a petulant superstar, only to have him drive the whole organization off of a proverbial cliff into the NBA wasteland.

After everything that have been said and done, the clear losers of this whole Dwight Howard fiasco, looking at it in all angles, are the Magic fans. I wouldn’t want to be caught in the middle of the ridiculousness of this situation as a loyal follower. I, too, hope that at the end of this week, a deal could be reached, so we can all let go of this useless anticipation and go back to living our normal, happy lives.

Because to tell you honestly, I’m so ready to wake up from this Dwightmare already.

*This post also appears on http://hoops.blink.ph/2012/07/11/the-dwight-howard-saga-continues/

Monday, July 9

Seventh Heaven

History met its match Sunday at Wimbledon. And he goes by the name of Roger Federer. The Fed is back at # 1 and all is right in the world again.

When Roger turned 30, most of his critics started writing him off, favoring the much younger legs of Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic. For a while, it seemed like the Federer Express was losing its steam. In 2011, he failed to win any of the four Grand Slam tournaments, the first time of such since 2003. Federer lost against Djokovic in straight sets in the Australian Open. The King of Clay Nadal showed him no mercy in the French Open. Most shockingly, even though he was already up two sets to none against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the quarterfinals of his favorite GS, the Wimbledon, Federer collapsed and squandered the win.

Then, in the 2012 US Open, he embarrassingly lost to Djokovic once again. This fueled the speculations that The Fed was on the decline, and a GS tournament win at the age of 30 is almost impossible. One day you're King, the next it seemed like the whole world was doubting you. The supposedly greatest tennis player of all time slipped to # 3 and was about to be done.

But Roger Federer is a champion of a different breed. While everyone was writing off his chances, he was busy preparinghimself.

He came back winning in Rotterdam, Dubai, Madrid, Indian Wells, and most especially, Wimbledon. A vintage Roger Federer showed up in England to dispatch Albert Ramos, Fabio Fognini, Julien Benneteau, Xavier Malisse, Mikhail Youzhny, and then current # 1 Novak Djokovic to secure his 8th finals appearance against Briton Andy Murray.

Murray was aggressive, but as they say, when you're playing Roger Federer at his best, you don't stand a chance. Federer's serve was back and he kept on hitting his corners. And in the 7th game, which turned out to be the crucial one, Fed sealed the 6th break point of the game to end the 26 point game to go up 4-2. And from then on, it was just Federer all over the court with his shots.

On July 8, 2012, amidst the swirl of the wind and the unforgiving London weather, Roger Federer won his 7th Wimbledon title-- his 17th GS title overall-- and reclaimed his rightful place as the best of the best, yet again.

It was the day that reminded us all that hard work and perseverance pays off-- and it pays off rather well. It also reminded us that no matter what the world thinks about you, if you stay focused, your will and your determination will carry you through.

I'm not sure who cried the hardest last night: him, me, or Andy Murray. Murray will not be disregarded. He fought well and my heart goes out to him. Someday, he will get his own GS trophy to lift. And rightfully, Andy, you're getting closer.

But for now, let the Swiss Maestro enjoy his date with history, in seventh heaven.

Friday, June 22

Good job, good effort!*

Look at that face. :)

It's about damn time.

After nine long and painful years, LeBron James can finally call himself a 'champion'. The coronation of the self-proclaimed King couldn't have been more theatrical. In 44 minutes, he had 26 points, 13 assists and 11 rebounds; a rare triple-double feat. It was a total team effort for Miami Heat, of course, as they drained 14 three-pointers (half of which came courtesy of Mike Miller) and just dominated the entire game in every way possible.

It is personally hard to write about the triumphs and jubilations of a man I have come to despise ever since publicly ditching the team that drafted him, in the worst way possible: a planned nationally televised special event. With The Decision, LeBron instantly became the most hated player and the Miami Heat the most detestable NBA team. The Decision was a terrible idea. I hated him even more with 'not 5.. not 6.. not 7..'. Although there is no denying of LeBron's talent, that move tarnished his image and left a sour taste in the mouth of many basketball fans, including me. I’m not even a Cleveland fan, either. God only knows how they felt. So it was especially entertaining to see Miami Heat lose the 2011 NBA championship to the Dallas Mavericks and LeBron James choking on top of it. It was like Christmas in June.

Arming themselves with the humiliation of last year's failed Finals run, the Miami Heat came blaring into the new (shortened) season with invigorated hearts and a whole new mindset. LeBron was dropping insane, jaw-dropping figures. However we may question his loyalty, there was one thing about LeBron James even the haters cannot doubt: his enormous talent. Dwayne Wade proved to be indispensable and played an optimal role. Chris Bosh, despite nagging injury, has stepped up as Heat's go-to big man, occasionally playing off-position. Shane Battier and Mario Chalmers also joined in the party to add additional offensive and defensive cover for the team. Despite James being the center of the hoopla, it became apparent that the Heat were playing team basketball. Hell, even Mike Miller showed up when it mattered the most! There is also the matter of guidance from coach Erik Spoelstra, who is quick to come up with crucial in-game adjustments in rotation, defense and offense.

Which brings me to the important lesson the last two NBA seasons has taught me: No matter how stacked your team is, if you don’t buck up and become a disciplined player, you don’t win. (I'm looking at you, Andrew Bynum!) Talent alone doesn’t win championships (Kobe Bryant), you have to have a competent supporting cast (MWP and the rest of the Lakers bench) and be totally focused on doing what it takes to win instead of being focused on not getting blamed for losses (Pau Gasol). James corrected his errors this year and his supporting cast stepped up way more than expected. Something the Lakers has extremely lacked for the last two seasons. (Just felt the need to throw some Lakers references in there.)

That being said, I congratulate LeBron James and the Miami Heat (plus all their fans) for winning this year's title. We can all say we were witnesses to another historical NBA and sports moment. LeBron had one of the best playoffs run ever by any player: 11 double doubles, multiple triple doubles, big games, clutch moments and he capped it all off with a championship victory. And although I would probably never like him, it is but proper to recognize LeBron's tremendous talent and ability as a basketball player (and I heard he's a nice fellow as well). I also particularly liked the LeBron James I heard on the post-game press conference today, saying how all the past issues and harsh scrutinies have humbled him as a person.

Congratulations are in order for the Oklahoma City Thunder, too. They are such a young team, but already showing great talents in their roster. Suffice to say that we are going to see more of them in the coming years. It's always exciting and entertaining when new rivalries are born in the league.

It has been yet again another exciting basketball season for the NBA. Forget that flopping was an all-time high this year or that referees were simply awful with their calls (and non-calls). In the end, they only add spice to the already colorful and beautiful world of the sport we all come to love.

(Meet the kid that inspired the title for this post HERE.)

Thursday, June 14

SATG's Guide: Smoking Hot Reasons to Watch Euro 2012 (Part 2)

Spending some sleepless nights myself catching Euro 2012 on TV. I blame these European men with their funny accents and hard-board abs! Ladies, can anybody tell me why European men are so hot?!?

Now, where were we? Oh, yes... Here comes the second part of the smoking hot reasons why I deprive myself of sleep. Aside from watching the beautiful sport, here are 7 more beautiful men to watch at Euro 2012. Ogle on, ladies!

(Part One HERE.)

Wednesday, June 13

Monday, June 11

SATG's Guide: Smoking Hot Reasons to Watch Euro 2012 (Part 1)

The Euro 2012 has started last week and millions of football fans around the world are sacrificing sleep (thanks to the time difference!), work and other essentials to be able to watch the games on their own little corner of the planet. And if your man is one of those, you may want to lend some solidarity by catching the occasional match too. 

Ladies, even if you're not a football fan, here's the lowdown of some of the smoking hot reasons you can enjoy the Euro 2012! :)

(Read Part Two HERE.)

Sunday, June 10

Hello Las Vegas Police? I'm calling to report a robbery...

Millions and millions of people care, because they derive a sense of hope and faith from watching the rise of champions and champions prove themselves. Champions bring out the champion in others. In a world obviously full of injustices, people gain great joy and satisfaction from watching a fight or match that is judged fairly. Manny Pacquiao is an inspiration and did not deserve this loss--and neither did the millions and millions of boxing fans.

Friday, June 8

French Open 2012: Men's Singles Semifinal Preview + Predictions

Out of the 128 competitors, we're now down to four for the semifinals at the French Open in Paris. Although the women's side has produced one upset after the other, the men's side has been consistent thus far and produced expected semifinal matches.

Here are my previews and predictions for the Men's Singles semifinals at the 2012 Roland Garros.

Rafael Nadal (2) versus David Ferrer (6)

Rafael Nadal is out for his 7th Roland Garros title and has showed absolutely no mercy along the way. The King of Clay has yet to lose a set so far in the tournament, and with the level of play and intensity he has exhibited so far, it looks likes David Ferrer is up to a Herculean task.

Rafa has cruised easily past Simone Bolelli, Denis Istomin, Eduardo Schwank, and Juan Monaco. The closest to a challenge the Spaniard has faced came via fellow countryman Nicolas Almagro in the first set during their QF match. But the clay court specialist rose to the occasion edged Almagro 7-4 to take the set. He eventually went to ruthlessly defeat Almagro 6-2, 6-3.

David Ferrer also impressively glided in the earlier rounds and was also unchallenged until the QF, where he dismissed world #4 Andy Murray in an intense, high quality hitting match. This proved that although he no longer belonged to the top 5 players in the world, he certainly belongs to the top 5 best clay court players.

The Spaniards have since met 19 times and Rafa holds a commanding 15-4 edge. On clay, Rafa leads 12-1 against Ferrer, with the latter's only win came in 2004 when Rafa was a budding tennis player. To say that Ferrer is in a major disadvantage is a major understatement. It will take Ferrer more than what he is currently doing and to dig deep if he wants to avenge his Rome Masters defeat earlier this year against Rafa.

Ferrer can possibly snatch a set from Rafa at best if he can keep up with the defending champion by hitting his corners, forcing Rafa on either side, and holding on his serve long enough to bring out frustration in Nadal. Otherwise, I cannot see anything stopping Rafa in reaching the Finals again. PREDICTION: Rafael Nadal in 4.

Roger Federer (3) versus Novak Djokovic (1)

The theme of this match is REVENGE. Novak Djokovic is out for revenge against Roger Federer for snapping his incredible 42-match winning streak last year at the same stage of the same tournament. Roger Federer is out for revenge against Novak Djokovic for defeating him five times in their last 6 matches, being the Rome Masters as the latest.

This match is tougher to call since both men have suffered greatly coming from their QF matches. The Serb was strongly contested by home-crowd favorite Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. He seemed to have lost focus and was out on many occasions in their QF match, but the world #1 has pulled through in the final set. He was also challenged hard in the earlier rounds (c/o Andres Seppi), but one thing that Novak should be happy for is that despite playing (cosiderably) bad tennis, he has survived to face Roger in the semis.

The Swiss Maestro also had his share of scare in the road to semifinals, notably against Juan Martin del Potro in the QF. Roger was down 2 sets to love before his epic comeback, winning in three straight sets in true Fed-Ex fashion, reminiscent of his slightly younger self. In the earlier rounds, Roger only won once in straight sets (first round) and the world saw how he has dropped one set in the subsequent rounds until dropping two against del Potro.

Both has struggled so far in the tournament, but Roger leads their all-time career head-to-head matches 14-11, including a 3-2 clay court advantage. However, Djokovic is a very different player now, a deserved World #1 and has won 26 Grand Slam matches in a row, and is a mere two matches from achieving something that Federer has never been able to do, win 4 major titles in a row (28 consecutive Grand Slam matches).

This match is going to the wire and I had a pretty difficult time predicting who will win it. Although it pains me to say, Roger is not playing as well this year as he played last year, but with his talent you never know when he can raise his game and take out anyone, anytime. One major key in a Federer win is for him to serve at about 60%. If not, he will have a major problem with one of the best returners in the game. When Federer plays the top guys, serving well is a must as he needs to be on the front foot in the rallies as soon as he possibly can - the longer the rally continues, the less likely he is to win it - and the serve is his best attribute to do this.

Another major point for Roger is his drop-shot technique. Djokovic must anticipate this technique, which Roger loves doing, two backhands away. Backhand rallies generally favor Djokovic but then again the aforementioned technique will bring the stop for him.

Winning the first set is very crucial to Roger, since the trend points to Djokovic blowing out his second sets in previous matches. If and when this happens, Roger will be quick to take advantage.

Depth is something Federer will have to improve in this matchup, otherwise he'll find himself on the back foot a lot of the time. He should also try to impose himself when returning Djokovic's second serve. Although there is more to ask of Federer to beat Djokovic, than there is for Djokovic to beat Federer, Roger is a big-stage player who plays well under pressure and gets deadlier as tension rises. This special quality will propel him to another Finals appearance at Roland Garros. PREDICTION: Roger Federer in 5.

Rafael Nadal def. David Ferrer (6-2, 6-2, 6-1)
Novak Djokovic def. Roger Federer (6-4, 7-5, 6-3)

Thursday, June 7

New home of SATG!

In between grieving for the second round exit of my beloved LA Lakers from the NBA 2012 Playoffs and real life, I finally had some little time to move from Wordpress to Blogger for my Sports According to Girl blog.

What do you think of the new place?

Tuesday, March 27

Laker forever, Derek Fisher

It’s been almost two weeks, but it’s still a little hard to write about Derek Fisher’s departure from LA Lakers.

As we all know, on March 15, responding to pressure and pleas for a trade that could offer a jolt in the diminishing power voltage to one of the greatest franchises in sports, Jim Buss and the rest of the Lakers management answered with a thundering surprise that left many of us, fans and haters alike, in shock to this very day.

They traded Derek Fisher.

To the many of us in Lakernation, this was the day that came to be known as the day the Los Angeles Lakers lost its soul.

The trade felt so horribly wrong and cheap. I personally felt offended.

For a typical, occasional sports fan, it is difficult to wrap your head around why a lot of us felt wronged about that obvious salary dump of a trade. It is ridiculous to grieve and hurt with a man most of us haven’t met or spoken to and be intensely involved in a life-altering moment that has completely nothing to do with our own. But whenever a class-act player gets a treatment like this, it always hits the heart.

I don’t care if Derek Fisher is 37 years old, aging, and his sprints dwindled down to jogs across the court. He is still Derek Fisher, capable of running last minute clutch plays and, as far as I know, the single player that holds the Lakers ‘culture’ together.

He was the constant glue between the Lakers’ new blood and the Championship Lakers of the past. When there were uncertainties surrounding the team, Fisher called, presided, and ended meetings to patch things up. Even when the 2011-2012 NBA season came to a threat, Fisher was the one who stood tall for all the players; negotiating with them big bad bullies.

In 2010, Fisher was instrumental in the NBA Finals Game 7 thriller against long-time rival Boston Celtics.

But what really cemented him in the many hearts of the Purple & Gold fans everywhere was the buzzer-beater game winning shot he took off an inbound pass with 0.4 seconds left in Game 5 of the Western Conference semifinals against then defending champions San Antonio Spurs.

I remember watching that game with my brothers back in 2004. Although that same year brought a collapse for the team (Finals upset vs Detroit, Shaq traded to Miami, Phil Jackson retired, and Fish transferred to Golden State for a higher salary), that 0.4 in ’04 was one of the few victorious moments fans relived again and again until the team got back on its feet to win a three-peat.

You don’t trade local legends just like that. Same way die-hard fans feel guilty for cheering on another team.

For everything it’s worth, Derek Fisher deserved to retire as a Laker. He would’ve welcomed the diminishing minutes, even if it meant sliding further at the end of the bench. He would accept it, like how many great players in their twilight careers will–knowing that there will always be someone younger than you, faster than you, shoots better than you. Fisher understood that. He said repetitively in interviews that he would accept the demotion, because he wanted to retire in the same team he started with as a rookie back in 1996.

It would’ve been the more gentlemanly gesture for someone who has brought the team 5 championship rings out of its 16 NBA titles, in his being a Laker for 13 seasons spanning 12 years.

But there’s very little room for gratitude in a cutthroat business like the NBA. Sadly, the management saw Fisher more of tradable liability than an asset.

But the fans will always remember Derek Fisher as a Laker… forever.

Monday, March 12

SATG’s Guide to NCAA: March Madness and Bracketology 101

Ladies, it’s that most unproductive month of the year yet again for many of our boys. While we can just click our knee-high boots and gladly walk away, you might be surprised to know that March Madness can be enjoyed by women as much as men. After all, it has our two innate attributes: women’s intuition and the chance to be right 63 times. This is a whole lot of fun! It ain’t called March ‘Madness’ for nothing!

Seriously, stay with me as I bestow a few little nuggets of bracketing wisdom I picked between ‘Oooh I like that team’s colors!’ and ‘That point guard is really cute!’ to ‘What does Joe Lunardi have to say about this?’

What is March Madness?

March Madness, or The Big Dance, is the name given by the powers that be referring to the madness that goes along with the NCAA Men’s Basketball Division I Championship Tournament–an annual single elimination tournament featuring 65 college basketball teams. They are divided into four regions namely South, East, West and Midwest Regions. Why there’s no North, I have absolutely no idea. The games are spread and played over three weeks in different ‘neutral’ areas across the USA.

On ‘Selection Sunday,’ the NCAA Selection Committee (yes, there is such a thing) announces the 68 teams that are qualified for the tournament and ‘seeds’ them according to their ranking and performance (1-16). I’m not going to insult your intelligence so it goes without saying that 1 is ‘better’ than 16.

What is bracketing?

Bracketing is the style adopted by the tournament in organizing what teams will go against each other. As discussed above, the 68 teams that are participating are seeded or ranked from 1-16 for each of the four regions. After which, the bracketing is arranged. The #1 seeded team is pitted against the #16 team, the #2 against #15, the #3 against #14, ETC. The winners of the first round will be pitted against each other and so on.

The third round is called ‘Sweet Sixteen‘, the fourth ‘Elite Eight‘ and the fifth ‘Final Four‘–all corresponding the number of teams left in the particular round.

Bracketology, on the other hand, is the process of picking or predicting which teams will move forward in the tournament before it even begins. This is typically done on Selection Sunday itself, although can be finished before the first game of the tournament is played. Below is the bracket for this year’s NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship Tournament.

(Click to enlarge)

But, SATG, I haven’t even heard half of the teams in this list! How do I pick the teams? Are there rules?

Ah, we have come to the most exciting part of this tutorial: filling out your brackets. As you can see in the image above, only the first round of the bracket is filled. These are the 65 teams that I have talked about earlier in this post. It is your job to predict the winners of the second round moving forward to the ultimate champion of the tournament as accurately as possible. If there’s one thing great about this tournament is that it packs a lot of drama in the short span of time it is on. The tournament is rife with upsets year after year. It basically puts the ‘madness‘ in March Madness. Since this is a single elimination competition, expect that each team will give it their best, there being no second chances.

Every once in a while, and in many dances that we go to, Cinderella shows up. In March Madness speak, Cinderella is the term used to call a team that’s not expected to win but advances through the tournament. Or in layman’s term, it is simply called an upset. But hey, we like to use Cinderella because this is, after all, the Big Dance.

So, before filling out your bracket sheet,  you may want to consider the following basics in Bracketology for Women 101 (also known as the course for women who can’t be bothered to look up those boring stats):

1. In the history of the tournament, never has a #16 team win over a #1 team in the first round. I repeat, NEVER HAS A #16 TEAM WIN OVER A #1 TEAM IN THE FIRST ROUND. Go ahead and advance all the #1 seeded teams through second round. However, it’s not entirely taboo to pick a Cinderella as early as the first round, especially with teams seeded from 9 through 12. Rarely pick a #13 seed or lower to win in the second round. Only 9% of teams advancing past second round are seeded that low.

2. Speaking of #9, some believe that such seed is luckier against #8. The former tend to do better that the latter. So if you have to choose between the two, odds are more in favor of #9.

3. Play safe, woman! Stick to the big names and take into consideration their ranking. It isn’t put there for decorations. But, if you have absolutely ZERO idea whether a team is ‘big’ or not or if you are stuck between two teams, feel free to pick the team based on who has the better looking uniforms. Or cuter mascot. Or cuter players. Or if you’re hardcore, the team with the cuter coach.

4. Trust your womanly intuition! Knowledge isn’t necessarily power. Most guys spend hours, nay days, in perfecting their brackets. They do tons of research, watch ESPN every chance they get, read sports blog and pay hefty sums of money just to get a glimpse of Joe Lunardi’s ‘Inside’ bracket guide. On the other hand, many girls randomly select their brackets largely based on their gut feelings. How awesome would it be to beat these guys who have devoted so much time and effort into winning and hold it over their heads?

5. Get into it and make it fun! This is a really fun way to engage with the man in your life. Stakes are a great way to make it more personal. Throw down some girly stakes, most likely he will bite.

Watch and enjoy the games; ogle at those muscles and cute point guards. Take part in a pool. Who knows, it can be the source of next month’s shopping money. So, stop being a party pooper and join the March Madness festivities. You won’t regret it. In the words of legendary college hoops analyst Dick Vitale “It’s awesome, baby!”

Saturday, March 3

Lamenting Ricky Rubio’s injury: Excuse me while I go cry in the corner.

Oh, poor baby!

By now, everybody has heard about the collision between Kobe Bryant and the Spanish rookie sensation Ricky Rubio, which abruptly ended the season of one of the league’s most exciting point guards. My first thought when the news broke out that Rubio was out for the rest of the season was they’d probably made a mistake. Looking back at the clip of the collision, it didn’t seem that it was that serious. But the Gods of the hardwood can be cruel masters. After the MRI, it was confirmed that NBA’s King of Baby Faces has suffered from the curse of the torn ACL and had to sit the rest of the season out, with the possibility of rehabbing into the next one.

I join the millions of sports fans around the world grieving the loss of this hardwood cutie, with those kind eyes and gumdrop smile, the tussled mop hair that minces a little bit with every physics-defying pass. This rook will be badly missed for sure.

Rubio, in a remarkably short space of time, had become a shining beacon of hope for Minneapolis, a fresh and lovable elixir for a franchise that has suffered more than its fair share of problems (many of them self-inflicted) in recent seasons. For Wolves fans his carefree brilliance represented a form of salvation, deliverance from the lower reaches of the Western Conference. For neutrals he had become the innocent, playful alternative to a league filled with a few too many self-obsessed stars and cynical executives. Rubio was the perfect distraction from the occasionally depressing realities of the professional game. With him running the offense it was possible to watch the Timberwolves and feel, despite all the murky stuff that has a nasty habit of surrounding the operations of the NBA, sort of wholesome. Basketball was fun again.

Get well soon, Ricardo! We’ll see your sexy Spanish ass next season.

Friday, March 2

Fat Girls’ Guide to Running: The Fat Runner’s Couch-to-5K training plan

When I first started running in late October of last year, I didn’t have any solid training plans, didn’t read any manual/advice on running with an overweight body, nor did I have any idea how I’m going to do it. I just remember waking up one morning and telling myself ‘This is it.’ Honestly, I didn’t think I’d last a full week doing the routine of waking up at 5AM and heading out to run. Trust me, I’m that lazy.

But I overcame the laziness (HA! Take that, Bruno Mars!) and after a month, ran my first ever 5K race. However, I had a little accident a week ago which left me unable to do my usual routine. Haven’t had a decent run in 7 days, so technically I am in one might call a ‘slump’. Just yesterday, the doctor gave me a go signal that I can carry on with running and tried to on that evening. Oh boy, it felt like I haven’t run in ages. The dreadful has happened: I am back to square one.

As the diligent and resourceful blogger that I am (wink), I have scoured the world wide web to look for a training regimen I could follow to get me back on track. I stumbled upon Cool Running’s Couch-to-5K Running Plan. Read through it and it’s a pretty good training plan. Decided to follow it and put a few tweaks to the plan.

Basically, I have shortened it to 7 weeks (instead of 9) and do the routine between 30-45 minutes 4-5 times a week (instead of 3). I have also incorporated short distance running on weekdays and long ones for weekends. If you are a first time runner, you can try this training plan with me, because if I can do it, so can you! :) ))

The first step to this plan is COMMITMENT. The start of everything is the hardest, but you have to decide that NOW is the best time. Saying YES to this training plan is already a fourth of the battle. Decide to commit to begin with it and stick through it and half of the battle is won.

For the next few weeks, this is the routine you and I need to follow:
**Do stretching each and every time you begin your training**
**Alternate run days with your rest days. (Eg. Mon-run, Tue-rest, Wed-run, Thu-rest, Fri-run, Sat-rest, Sun-run)

WEEK ONE: DAYS 1, 2, & 3: Start with a 5-minute brisk walk for warm-up, then alternate 60 seconds of running with 90 seconds of walking. Bring your total minutes to 30 minutes. (You do 15 rounds of walking and 10 rounds of jogging, ALTERNATELY.) DAY 4: Do the same routine for 45 minutes.

WEEK TWO: DAYS 1, 2, & 3: Start with a 5-minute brisk walk for warm-up, then alternate 90 seconds of running with 2 minutes of walking. Bring your total minutes to 30 minutes. DAY 4: Do the same routine for 45 minutes.

WEEK THREE: DAYS 1, 2, & 3: Start with a 5-minute brisk walk for warm-up, then alternate 2 minutes of running with 60 seconds of walking. Bring your total minutes to 30 minutes. DAY 4: Do the same routine for 45 minutes.

WEEK FOUR: (This is tricky, but you’ll get it) DAYS 1, 2, & 3: Start with a 5-minute brisk walk for warm-up, then alternate 2 minutes of running and 1 minute of walking with 3 minutes of running and 2 minutes of walking. (2 min run, 1 min walk, 3 min run, 2 min walk x 5) Bring your total minutes to 40 minutes. DAY 4: Run/walk freely with a 3K distance.

WEEK FIVE: DAYS 1, 2, & 3: Start with a 5-minute brisk walk for warm-up, then alternate 3 minutes of running and 1.5 minutes of walking with 5 minutes of running and 2.5 minutes of walking. (3 min run, 1.5 min walk, 5 min run, 2.5 min walk x 3) Bring your total minutes to 36 minutes. DAY 4: Run/walk freely with a 3K distance.

WEEK SIX: DAYS 1, & 2: Start with a 5-minute brisk walk for warm-up, then alternate 5 minutes of running and 2 minutes of walking with 8 minutes of running and 3 minutes of walking. (5 min run, 2 min walk, 8 min run, 3 min walk x 2) Bring your total minutes to 36 minutes. DAYS 3 & 4: Alternate running for 15 minutes with walking for 3 minutes x 2. Bring your total minutes to 36 minutes.

WEEK SEVEN: DAYS 1 & 2: Start with a 5-minute brisk walk for warm-up, then alternate 10 minutes of running and 2 minutes of walking with 15 minutes of running and 3 minutes of walking. Bring your total minutes to 35 minutes. DAYS 3 & 4: Alternate running for 20 minutes with walking for 3 minutes x 2. Bring your total minutes to 46 minutes.

In following this training plan, keep the following in mind:
  • Assess yourself. None of these weeks will be easy, but you have to keep trying and trying. If you fail a week, don’t hesitate to repeat it. It doesn’t matter if you fall off schedule, as long as you finish the whole plan.
  • Take it easy. You will feel terrible body aches especially at the beginning, so take two successive rest days if you must. You will also feel that you can run in successive days sometimes. If you are fit, then it might be okay. But if you are on the heavy side, take precaution and watch out for injuries.
  • Stretching is very important to prevent injuries. Don’t forget to do this before beginning any workout.
  • Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.
  • And most importantly… HAVE FUN! Load up your iPod with songs that can carry you through the long runs and have a friend do this program with you.
Let me know about your progress! :) )
Follow The Fat Runner on Tumblr @ http://thefatrunner.tumblr.com

(Originally posted at http://thefatrunner.tumblr.com/post/14208945032/couch25k)

Tuesday, February 21

SATG's Guide to Football: Player Positions (Defense)

There are 11 players for each team in a regular FIFA-sanctioned football (or soccer, whichever hemisphere you live on) game. Here’s a look at the players who are responsible for the keeping the defensive side alive and kicking.

  • Goalkeeper (GK)
Also: Keeper, Goalie
The guy with the funky colored gloves on who stands between the goal posts, and the only person on the pitch that can use his hands. He is responsible for blocking the shots heading on goal, using his hands, legs, face, or pretty much any other body part needed to deflect the ball, because in essence, he is the last line of defense. In football team pictures, he is the only person wearing a different colored kit. :)

Famous keepers:

Iker Casillas  (Real Madrid, Spain)
Carlo Cudicini (Tottenham Hotspur, Italy)

  • Full backs (FB, RB, LB)
Also: right-back, left-back
They are positioned near their own team’s goal and their main job is to defend the goal against the opposing team scoring against them. Football players in this position have the job of taking return balls from the goalie as well as getting the ball to their midfielders.
Famous full backs:

Philipp Lahm (Bayern Munich, Germany)
Maicon (Internazionale, Brazil)
Dani Alves (FC Barcelona, Brazil)
  • Centre backs (CB)
Also: central defenders, centre-halves
The players who guard the area directly in front of the goal. Since they stand right in front of the goalkeeper, they cannot afford to make any mistake; therefore they are often considered to be the the strongest defenders. They are also responsible for man-to-man marking (guard the attacking player directly) and zonal defense (guard a particular area of the pitch).
Famous centre backs:

Gerard Pique (FC Barcelona, Spain)
Nemanja Vidic (Manchester United, Serbia)
Carlos Bocanegra (Rangers, USA)
  • Defensive Midfielders (DM)
Also: Central Midfielder (CM)
The player positioned just in front of their team’s defense (or at the midfield) and often assigned to mark the opposition’s best offensive player.

Xabi Alonso (Real Madrid, Spain)
Nigel De Jong (Manchester City, Netherlands)
Sex–I mean–Cesc Fabregas (FC Barcelona, Spain)
Steven Gerrard (Liverpool, England)

If I May Interrupt: Should the Lakers management say they’re trading Gasol or not?

After the Lakers’ embarrassing and pathetic loss to the Phoenix Suns last night, Kobe Bryant stated in a post-game interview, “I wish management would come out and either trade (Pau Gasol) or not trade him.” Today, Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchack has released this statement in reponse to Bryant’s. As a longtime Laker fan, I honestly think that I have a say in this.

I have been a Laker fan my whole life and I understand Bryant’s frustrations with the team — they currently stand 5th in the Western Conference, but 8th ranked Denver is only 1.5 games behind.  Am I suggesting that it is a possibility that the Lakers will not make the playoffs this year?  I tell you I won’t be the one to give up. No. But how did a team go from 2nd ranked in the Western Conference last year to this: struggling to maintain the 5th spot this year?  I just don’t understand how the team has plummeted ever since last year’s 2nd round playoff series against the Mavericks.

Anyways, back to the subject at hand — should management openly declareits intentions to keep or trade Pau Gasol?I’m sorry Kobe, but I think absolutely not!  I think the team should certainly consider trading Gasol before the deadline, but to openly declaresuch would be detrimental to the team.  Gasol certainly isn’t as emotional as Lamar Odom, but if the Lakers organization tells him he’s certainly on the trade block, it would somehow impact his game. However, with the turnout of tonight’s win over Portland, it is safe to say that Gasol might even be inspired with what Bryant has said. But knowing how Gasol flipflops tremendously this season, it won’t be long until his frustrations get the better of him.

Gasol has declared his loyalty and desire to stay with the Lakers on numerous occasions, could you imagine what it would do to his spirits if the team he loves openly states they want him out?  I know what many are thinking — the Lakers already declared their desire to oust him during the CP3-Trade-That-Wasn’t, but I think, for the most part, Gasol has been able to move past that.

At the same time, I feel bad for Gasol.  Yeah, it’s pretty hard to feel bad for somebody making upwards of $18 million per year, but it must really suck not knowing where you’re going to be by the end of the season.  His loyalty to the Lakers, and the fact that he brought two championships to the team, makes me question if the Lakers should let him know (NOT THE PUBLIC) exactly where he stands with the organization.  The NBA is a business, and players are essentially tradeable assets (unless you’re KB24 or Joe Johnson with a no-trade clause), but something about leaving a player like Gasol in limbo just doesn’t sit well with me.

Girls, pardon the interruption.

Thursday, February 16

SATG's Guide to Basketball: The 2012 NBA All Star Weekend

The annual NBA All-Star Weekend is just around the corner. And being the good girlfriend that you are, why don’t you stay in and watch with your honey boy? Here are some NBA All Star essentials you need to know to survive this weekend.

What is the NBA All Star Weekend all about?

It is an annual two-day event held every February showcasing the best of the best NBA players from the Eastern and Western conferences. The usual highlights are the three-point shoot-out, slam dunk contest, skills challenge, and mainly the All Star exhibition game between the players from East and West. A celebrity game is also featured. (Last year, Justin Bieber played. Wonder who is up to the challenge this year?)
Think of it like a benefit concert where all of your favorite artists come together to play in one stage. That’s basically what the NBA All Star is about.

Who will be playing and how were they selected?

 East: (Starters, pictured L-R) Derrick Rose, Lebron James, Dwight Howard, Carmelo Anthony, and Dwayne Wade (Reserves, not pictured) Luol Deng, Joe Johnson, Deron Williams, Paul Pierce, Chris Bosh, Roy Hibbert, andAndre Iguodala.

 West: (Starters, pictured L-R) Kobe Bryant, Blake Griffin, Andrew Bynum, Kevin Durant, and Chris Paul (Reserves, not pictured) Russel Westbrook, Kevin Love, LaMarcus Aldridge, Dirk Nowitzki, Steve Nash, Tony Parker, and Marc Gasol.

The starters (the five-man team that plays at the start of the game) are chosen by fan voting, while the reserves (substitution players) are chosen by a vote of the coaches in each conference.

What’s the best thing to watch out for?

Everybody who have constantly been watching the All Stars will tell you that the best thing about it is the Slam Dunk Contest. You’ll surely have fun with that. Things go pretty crazy during slam dunk contests.
The players are graded, 10 being the highest, by 5 judges. Whoever gets the highest points (usually the craziest dunk) wins.

Things you could say while watching the All-Star Game aside from “Their uniforms look great”:

“Frankly, I’d rather see Chris Bosh start than Melo.”
“We could send the West’s line up to the Olympics and they’re sure to win gold.”
“Kevin Love was robbed. Again.”
“This just might be Steve Nash’s last All Star.”
“Mike Brown shouldn’t have allowed Bynum to start! That boy is one sprain away from retirement.”
“I wish the West had a decent center.”
“Deng! He’s good!”
“How Monta Ellis was not included is beyond travesty.”

Key Trivias:

- This will be Kobe Bryant’s 14th All-Star appearance, tying the record with Jerry West and Karl Malone. Also, the most among any of the other players in the All Star roster this year.
- Marc Gasol, Lakers’ Pau Gasol’s younger brother is making his first All-Star appearance.
- The Eastern Conference All-Stars lead the all-time series 36–24.

Things every girl should know about Jeremy Lin

He is all over Twitter. Your boyfriend can’t stop talking about him. Your brother is drowning your Facebook feed with the latest videos of this ‘Linsanity’. ‘What is this ‘Linsanity’ even??!’, you ask yourself. And before you think the men in your life has succumbed to the KPOP phenomenon, here is a crash course on the rising NBA star cutie that is Jeremy Lin.

1. He is a certified God-fearing, varsitarian nerd.

While many college players struggle to balance campus fame, studies and athletic practice, Jeremy Lin is a rare breed; brandishing a degree in Economics from world-renowned Harvard University sans a scholarship (Ivy Leagues do not generally offer athletic scholarships), with a 3.1 GPA (or roughly about 86%). Together with Coach Tommy Amaker, senior Lin led the Harvard Crimson to their winningest season since 1957. And if that is not enough to melt you , Lin is also a devout Christian, heading the Asian-American Christian Fellowship, a bible club, in the same institution. Get I get a collected ‘awwww’?  

2. From zero-to-hero story.

Everybody loves an underdog. And Jeremy Lin is without a doubt one. He is a Hollywood fairytale unfolding right in the middle of Madison Square Garden.

You may have heard that Lin was undrafted when he graduated from Harvard in 2010. Now, what does that mean? It basically means that Lin was eligible to play for the NBA, but nobody signed him up. He later revealed that if maybe he had a different ethnicity, he could’ve been easily drafted, but let’s not go there.

 Lin was eventually signed by his childhood favorite team, the Golden State Warriors. He was subsequently assigned to play in the D-League (a minor NBA league). They eventually waived him off to secure DeAndre Jordan and was claimed by the Houston Rockets. Yet again, the Rockets waived him off in favor of center Samuel Delambert. The Knicks claimed Lin and, again, assigned him to play in the D-League. He was recalled to the big league when injured Baron Davis couldn’t make his debut. He made his first NBA appearance donning the #17 jersey against the Celtics. Although the Knicks lost to the aging team, Coach D’Antoni saw a potential in Lin and gave him playing minutes the following day versus the New Jersey Nets. Lin exploded with 25 points. And the rest, as they say, is history.  

3. He can dunk.

Watch it here.

 4. He is single and can cook.

Yes! The basketball Gods continue to smile upon the female population as 23 year-old Lin is unmarried and seemingly girlfriend-less. Though I strongly believe that is about to be over soon. I mean, really. Who wouldn’t like to date NBA’s newest darling? Kim Kardashian has probably already set her eyes on him. He is cute, smart and funny. Plus, he’s got that really cute head-nod.

So what does it take to be a Mrs. Lin? Alek Blankenau, Lin’s former teammate revealed in a recent interview that Lin had a girlfriend back in their Harvard days who is a devout Christian just like Jeremy. But they mutually broke it off. Blankenau also mentioned about a time when Lin forgot to make reservations on Valentine’s Day once, so he had to keep peace with his lady by making a homemade chicken parmesan. Wasn’t that another ‘awww’ moment? Clearly, Jeremy Lin is exactly the kind of guy you can bring home to meet Mommy and Daddy.  

5. He knows how to dougie.

No. Really. Watch for cuteness overload:

Sunday, January 1

About Us

What Is SATG About?

Did you know that an average man spends at least 4 hours in front of the television watching some sort of athletic event?

Sports According To Girl is made for all the ladies out there, so you can spend that extra 4 hours cuddled with your husbands, fiances, or boyfriends… joining the action and have the same enthusiasm about what’s going on. (Plus sexy points for wowing your man’s friends because you totally called that offside before the referee did.)

SATG was born out of a girl's passion about sports and her devotion to educating other sisters about it. (She also had this crazy notion that she can write about sports just as well as the boys could.)

Our mission is to empower women about confidently talking about, watching, and analyzing sports. You also get free lessons on the beautiful art of sports heckling AKA trash talking. :) In the interest of fairness, as we don't really want you actually penetrate deep enough into the 'bro' territory to a point of no return, we occasionally post things about cute basketball players and even hotter footballers.

Trust me when we say, your estrogen is safe with us.

 Who Are We?

Erwilyn Lei Solito, or simply Lei, is a 20-something girly girl who, somewhere along the line, became more interested in NBA Trading Cards than Polly Pocket. She started SATG with hopes of getting her girl friends interested in sports because it really is sad not being able to talk with them about how cute Brian Scalabrine is on the court. And no, she doesn't mean physically.

When she was little, her father occasionally brought her to the Big Dome to watch Ginebra play. That's where she learned how to cuss in a pretty pink Sunday dress her mother insisted on letting her wear when going to basketball games. Follow her on Twitter.