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Kelly’s A Hero

March 7, 2013

Duke followers have spent the last six weeks or so waiting for Ryan Kelly to return to action. While they were waiting, college basketball pundits repeated over and over that Duke is not the same team without the 6-foot-11 forward. The experts pointed to his inside presence on defense along with his perimeter shooting that opens up opposing defenses.

Kelly returned from his foot injury on Saturday for the Blue Devils’ biggest game of the season to date. You would think he would be eased into action. And Coach K likely had the same thoughts. But Kelly could not miss while not displaying any signs of a man ailing from a foot injury that had kept him off the floor for 13 games.

Ryan Kelly is BACK!

By end of the first half, Kelly had 20 points. He kept it going in the second half and Duke needed virtually every one of Kelly’s 36 points as the third-ranked Blue Devils held on for a 79-76 victory over the fifth-ranked Hurricanes of Miami. Kelly’s previous career high point total was 23 points.
Remember, Kelly was not dressed on January 23rd when Miami whipped up on Duke by 27 points. It took 40 minutes for Duke to prove it may be the best college basketball team in America when it’s healthy. It did not take Kelly that long to prove he’s back and ready to help the Blue Devils make a run to The Final Four.

Tar Heels Going Small

North Carolina has been playing better basketball of late and the improved play coincides with a new smaller starting lineup. P.J. Hairston, instead of coming off the bench as a reserve guard, is now a 6-5 power forward. And that puts James McAdoo as a 6-9 center.

The changes propelled the Heels into a current five-game winning streak. UNC now has double-digit ACC wins and 20 victories overall and, barring a major collapse, a place in the NCAA tournament. Head coach Roy Williams spoke of the change being made to produce more offense. He basically decided to put his five best scorers on the floor no matter how tall they are.

Tar Heels’ Roy Williams

Williams, after watching his team lose by 24 to Indiana, by 18 to Texas who is down this year, before starting 0-2 in ACC play without reaching 60 points, did not have much to lose by going with the small lineup. The move has led to more open space on the court and that has freed up Reggie Bullock who is playing better then ever right now.

March is here and there is renewed hope centering around the Tar Heel program again. Could be a Cinderella Story.

Who Would Have Thunk It?

A self-proclaimed ambassador, former Bad Boy of the Detroit Pistons, Dennis Rodman, is the highest profile American to meet North Korea’s new leader Kim Jong Un. Not President Barack Obama. Dennis Rodman. After Rodman spent two days visiting Kim, he brought home a message to President Obama. He stated that Kim does not want war with the US and that Kim just wants Obama to call him. I am not sure what surprises me more here. Rodman as an unofficial ambassador or news that our president has not yet spoken with Kim.

Small Cash Trout

Mike Trout of the Anaheim Angels had one of the best rookie major league seasons in baseball history. He finished second in the American League MVP race. You would think Trout would be in line for a multi-million dollar contract. Not so fast.

You have to read the small print within the players agreement with baseball.

Trout just completed his rookie season for the Angels. MLB players with 0-3 years of service time are paid what the team chooses as long as it is over the minimum salary of $490,000. Players are arbitration eligible from years 4-6, and they become free agents after six years of service time.

Because he only has one year of service time, the Angels had the right to pay Trout whatever they chose. They opted to renew his contract for $510,000, which is just $20,000 more than the minimum salary. Instead of rewarding Trout, they are making sure they have the best bargain in baseball.

Mike Trout undervalued?

His agent has gone public with the news while pointing out recent precedents. Tim Lincecum won the Cy Young Award in his second season and was paid $650,000 by the San Francisco Giants the following season (the minimum salary was $400,000). Ryan Howard won Rookie of the Year in 2006 and was paid $355,000 the next season by the Philadelphia Phillies (minimum salary was $327,000). He won MVP in his second season and was renewed for a record $900,000 the following year.

The Angels better hope neither factor adversely affects their best player. It does seem absurd that Trout is making so little money. But, these are part of the rules the players union agreed to during collective bargaining.

In a perfect world, as long as he remains productive, Trout will be pulling in millions by the time he enters arbitration, and he’ll be in line for at least a $200 million contract when free agency comes. He and his agent should be patient. But you would think the Angels could have tossed another million Trout’s way. I mean, this is the same franchise that just spent $240 million on Albert Pujols and $125 million for Josh Hamilton.

Trout, in 2013, is a much better player then both Pujols and Hamilton. Maybe the older vets will pick up the tab a few times for him.


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