Sports Addict

A Wordpress.com weblog by Denton Ramsey

Houston Rockets Need Healthy Aaron Brooks to Truly Compete in NBA’s West

From injury-plagued players to defensive flaws, the Houston Rockets have received a bitter dose of all the negative what-ifs NBA managers can nightmarishly imagine.

And then some.

Yet amazingly, those same Rockets are 16-20 overall—despite dropping three straight games—with a legitimate chance of making postseason play.

Trust me when I say that no top seeded team in the Western Conference will want to face the Rockets in an opening round best-of-seven series.

I’m smelling upset already, and it’s only early January.

However, I digress.

We’re here to talk about Houston’s present predicament and what the future holds for this team.

After a 110-95 drubbing at Orlando on Friday night, one major piece of the Rockets’ puzzle remains courtside, nursing a re-injured ankle.

That missing and mandatory piece to Houston’s 2011 hopes and dreams?

Aaron Brooks.

Sure, losing Yao Ming for the season was a shot in the foot (no pun intended); but an NBA team lives and dies based on it’s point guard.

Without Brooks, the team appears nearly lifeless.

But thanks to guys such as Shane Battier, Kevin Martin, and Luis Scola (just to name a few), the scrappy Rockets have managed to remain afloat in a highly-competitive Western Conference.

Houston has an extremely tough road ahead, as the Rockets’ January slate has got to be one of the toughest in the league—with battles against teams such as the Utah Jazz, Boston Celtics, Oklahoma City Thunder, Dallas Mavericks, and San Antonio Spurs.

Regardless of the dangerous stretch of games that loom, Houston has plenty of time to make some major noise in the West before the playoffs begin.

First and foremost, though, the Rockets need a healthy and rejuvenated Brooks returning to the NBA hardwood…

Denton Ramsey may be reached via email at denton.ramsey@gmail.com

Andrew Luck: The Next Big Thing in Houston, Texas Behind Roger Clemens?

My best friend made a profound, yet true, statement when we were talking about college football the other day.

Andrew Luck, the star-studded quarterback who led Stanford to a remarkable 12-1 bowl-winning season this year, could be the next big thing in Houston, Texas behind only—say, for example—Roger Clemens in the very near future.

Luck, who spent his pre-collegiate gridiron days at Stratford High School in Houston, has announced that he will return to Stanford for another season—but he absolutely has the NFL in his future.

Which could and will very likely put him in the ranks of Clemens in terms of Houston’s Lone Star State pride and popularity.

But the question remains: Will Luck’s return to Stanford bring the Cardinal another winning season, and possibly a chance at the BCS National Championship?

And when Luck does make that jump to the NFL, will he truly become Houston’s next “big thing?”

Denton Ramsey may be reached via email at denton.ramsey@gmail.com

Goodbye LA, Hello World: Green River Ordinance Right on Track with “Out of My Hands”

Goodbye LA, Hello World: Green River Ordinance Right on Track with “Out of My Hands”

By Denton Ramsey

Hailing from the Lone Star State and playing all around the globe, Green River Ordinance has got to be the best band you’ve never heard of.

With absolutely amazing acoustics and an overall Collective Soul sound, these Texas musicians rock the waves from their first track to their final note in “Out of My Hands.”

From Outside to Endlessly, these guys are the next big thing in music. Think Sister Hazel with a twist of Matchbox 20.

Speaking of Sister Hazel, GRO (as the band is known by their fans) recently played on the Rock Boat.

“It’s a boat full of real music lovers,” GRO lead singer Josh Jenkins told The Dallas Morning News. “We’ve experienced, since the boat, a lot of people coming to shows that had been [on the cruise]. These people tell their friends about you and offer up their homes. It’s just a different level of fans.”

A different level of fans for a different kind of band; and what a great band GRO is.

So what does Jenkins consider to be GRO’s genre?

“We’re definitely a pop-rock band,” Jenkins said. “The 90’s were a huge influence on us.”

And what a great time period to be influenced (by some of the best musicians ever, at least in my opinion).

A question many ask the band, and one I have seen in both reviews as well as radio interviews, is “Why the name Green River Ordinance?”

To put it simply, the band really just thought the name was cool.

“That was just something that Jamey [Ice] and Geoff [Ice] had before I joined the band,” Jenkins said. “It was on a sign in their garage that said ‘Green River Ordinance Enforced.’ It was just peculiar and odd, so it kinda stuck.”

Green River Ordinance is actually a reference to a law that prohibits door-to-doors sales, but regardless of the name’s history, these guys are truly Southern comfort.

“I think it’s inevitable for us to have a Southern twist, being from Texas,” Jenkins said. “We believe our personality comes out in the songs we wrote for the record. Since we were 16, we’ve gone through so much as people. These songs are like babies you give birth to.”

If that’s the case, GRO has some oh-so-sweet offspring, and I personally love every song on the album.

To quickly introduce the band to the general public, the fivesome includes Jenkins (lead vocals, guitar, piano), Jamey Ice (lead guitar), Geoff Ice (bass), Joshua Wilkerson (guitar) and Denton Hunker (drums).

“My dad was a Deadhead,” Jamey Ice told Texas Music. “He’s the one who bought us guitars and took us to lessons.”

The parents of GRO’s members have every reason to be proud of their boys; and with a truly sweet album on their hands, it’s only a matter of time before Green River Ordinance becomes a household name.

“We want to write music that’s real, for sure,” Jamey Ice said. “But we also want to write music that’s hopeful.”

“Out of My Hands” is all that and then some, with a bit of real and a dose of hope mixed together in a guitar-induced sound that will have you hooked in no time…

Denton Ramsey may be reached via email at denton.ramsey@gmail.com

Houston Aeros Remain Hot, Pick Up Back-To-Back Wins Over Rampage

Houston Aeros Remain Hot, Pick Up Back-To-Back Wins Over Rampage

By Denton Ramsey, Houston Aeros Writer/Columnist

Despite skating on cold ice, the Houston Aeros are on fire.

The Aeros picked up back-to-back wins this past weekend in San Antonio, first in a come-from-behind overtime W on Friday night before taking a 2-0 win over the Rampage on Sunday afternoon.

With their latest pair of wins, the Aeros are now 5-4-0 on the young AHL season and have now won three games in a row on the road.

Houston’s penalty-kill was once again remarkable, as the Aeros prevented the Rampage from gaining any momentum when San Antonio had an extra attacker on the ice.

In net, Anton Khudobin played a phenomenal game in garnering a big shutout over the Aeros intra-state rival Rampage.

With the wins, the Aeros also now lead in points in the 2009-10 Lone Star Faceoff.

Houston returns to the ice on Tuesday, Oct. 27, at Toyota Center with the Aeros hosting the Hamilton Bulldogs at 7:05 p.m.

As usual, Tuesday’s game will be broadcast live on 1070 AM KNTH in Houston with Joe O’Donnell calling all the action; the Aeros-Bulldogs game may also be viewed online through ahllive.com.

Denton Ramsey may be reached via email at denton.ramsey@gmail.com

Houston Aeros Hockey: At 3-3, Look For H-Town’s AHL Team To Begin To Shine

Houston Aeros Hockey: At 3-3, Look For H-Town’s AHL Team To Begin To Shine

By Denton Ramsey, Houston Aeros Writer/Columnist

Forget Saturday night’s 5-1 loss to the intra-state rival Texas Stars.

These Houston Aeros are much better than what Saturday’s score shows.

Houston was also playing without their key-defensive threat (as well as currently being tied for second on the team in goals) in Clayton Stoner, who was a healthy scratch from Saturday’s showdown with the Stars.

Let us also not forget that we played a remarkable game the evening before, taking down our other intra-state rival in the San Antonio Rampage.

The 2009-10 AHL season is still young, but thus far the Houston Aeros (3-3-0) are looking pretty good out there on the ice.

And this very well may be the year the Aeros return to AHL greatness.

Houston has a solid squad with good goalies and a great coach in Kevin Constantine.

I definitely believe that Constantine is guiding the team in the right direction, and it’s only a matter of time before we see Houston’s hockey club begin to shine.

We appear to be a step or two quicker than last year also; now, we just need to get the mental aspect of the game in-check and I believe the Aeros will be soaring in no time.

Taking a closer looking at the Aeros newest Lone Star rival in the mix, Houston took care of business their last time out on the ice against Texas — defeating the Stars 2-1 in a shootout at Toyota Center for their second victory of the season.

As mentioned earlier, the Aeros garnered win number three of the year in a 5-2 victory over the Rampage on Friday night at Toyota Center.

And Friday night’s victory was oh-so-sweet.

After giving up two goals in a matter of just 11 seconds, the Aeros were able to regroup and reenergize as Houston battled back and took control of the hockey game.

Power play opportunities and crisp passing helped propel the Aeros to a 4-2 lead with 10:43 remaining in the third period.

On the other side of the puck, Houston’s penalty-kill was remarkable against San Antonio as the Aeros were able to kill any last-second momentum by the Rampage with an empty-net goal by Duncan Milroy at the 18:56 mark for a 5-2 home-team victory.

“[We take] great pride in having a good penalty kill,” J.P. Testwuide told Houston Aeros announcer Joe O’Donnell in the booth during the third period of Friday’s broadcast.

If the Aeros can continue to dominate defensively as well as learn to handle the mental aspects of the game (especially in the second period of play), Houston will no doubt have a very successful season.

Based on what I have heard and seen thus far this season, we’re on the road to redemption in Houston Aeros hockey.

With a split of the Texas match-ups this past weekend in H-town, I do believe the Aeros have begun to assert themselves as one of AHL’s elite teams this season.

But there’s still a lot of work to be done, and we still have a lot to prove.

And Houston’s AHL hockey team needs all the support they can get from their fans.

The Aeros return to the ice on Wednesday, Oct. 21, against the Lake Erie Monsters.

Wednesday’s puck drop is slated for 7:05 p.m. at Toyota Center, and the game can be heard live on 1070 AM KNTH in Houston or online at aeros.com. For those wishing to view a live feed of the game, visit ahllive.com.

Get ready Aeros fans; when Wednesday evening rolls around, grab a cold one and turn on the radio — it’s time for some Houston Aeros hockey…

STATISTICALLY SPEAKING THROUGH THE FIRST SIX MEETINGS…

Through the first six games of the AHL season, Houston’s Pete Zingoni leads the team in goals with three, while Clayton Stoner and Duncan Milroy are currently tied for second with two goals apiece.

In the helpers department, Michael Daoust and Maxim Noreau lead the Aeros with three assists each, while four Aeros have two assists thus far — Jon DiSalvatore, Petr Kalus, Andy Hilbert, and Nathan Smith (both Hilbert and Smith are not currently on Houston’s roster due to being called-up, with both appearing in the Aeros first four games).

In net, Anton Khudobin has started four games for Houston (picking up three wins and a loss in 220 minutes of action with a 2.45 GAA), while Wade Dubielewicz has started just twice this season and was in net for the third period of play against the Stars on Saturday evening (taking a pair of Aeros losses in 136 minutes of action with a 3.09 GAA).

LOOKING AHEAD TO THE WEEKEND AND BEYOND…

After Wednesday’s game against Lake Erie, the Aeros hit the road for San Antonio this weekend with a pair of match-ups against the Rampage.

Houston will face San Antonio on Saturday, Oct. 24, at 7:05 p.m. and will return to the ice on Sunday, Oct. 25, for an afternoon game with puck drop slated for 3:05 p.m.

The Aeros return home on Wednesday, Oct. 27, as Houston hosts Hamilton at 7:05 p.m. before hitting the road once again for a pair of games against Grand Rapids on Thursday, Oct. 29, and Friday, Oct. 30 (with puck drop slated for 7:05 p.m. in both).

Following a day off on Halloween, Houston returns to action on Sunday, Nov. 1, for an evening match-up with the intra-state rival Texas Stars on the road at 5:05 p.m.

All games can be heard live online through aeros.com or on 1070 AM KNTH in Houston, with Joe O’Donnell calling all the Aeros action.

Denton Ramsey may be reached via email at denton.ramsey@gmail.com

BAYLOR VS. KENT STATE RECAP: Freshman Florence Near Flawless, Bears Beat Golden Flashes 31-15

BAYLOR VS. KENT STATE RECAP: Freshman Florence Near Flawless, Bears Beat Golden Flashes 31-15

By Denton Ramsey, Bleacher Report Featured Columnist

WACO, Texas — Baylor true freshman Nick Florence, along with an unbreakable defense and special teams, helped lead the Bears (3-1) to a 31-15 victory over the Kent State Golden Flashes (2-3) on Saturday evening at Floyd Casey Stadium.

Despite the downpours and an early 7-0 deficit, Florence — the Bears third-string quarterback — went 20-of-27 in the passing department for 216 yards while also compiling 60 yards on the ground with two rushing touchdowns in his first career start.

“He’s very confident, intelligent, poised, and aware and those are all qualities of a good quarterback,” Baylor Head Coach Art Briles said. “He’s not afraid to get dirty, dive around and create something. He did exactly what we thought he’d do. He was very efficient and intelligent and that’s exactly what he did.

“The way he handled himself the last two days, you could tell he was really grasping everything and understanding and was delivering the ball well. I felt if it was drier a little earlier we could have done a few more things because Nick is very accurate with the football, but we were still able to make a couple of runs and we got the win so that’s all we were concerned with tonight.”

For Florence, sophomore receiver Kendall Wright was again a key target for the Bears offense — racking up 125 yards on nine catches.

“It [getting the win] is awesome,” Florence said. “It is a great feeling. It is what we needed to do. There was no question in my mind whether we were going to win that game. We were going to do whatever it takes. It was sloppy at times and a lot of that is my inexperience and making mistakes. Our defense made plays and our offensive line made plays and our running backs and receivers made plays. That is what you do to get a win.”

Defensively, Baylor picked up two key interceptions and caused three Kent State fumbles (recovering one) in a strong secondary; while special teams played a large part as well with two blocked field goals (both by senior defensive lineman Jason Lamb) and a blocked extra point (junior defensive tackle Phil Taylor).

“We [the defense] could have done a lot better,” Lamb said. “I don’t know the final stats at all, but I know we gave up too many yards. The good thing from that is when it really came time to buckle down and prevent them from scoring, we were able to do that. We really gave up more yards than we wanted to and that is something we are going to have to work on this week.”

Sophomore running back Jared Salubi also has a solid outing for the Bears, garnering 64 yards on 17 carries with a touchdown en route to a 16-point Baylor win on a stormy Saturday in Waco.

“We know how to keep people there through the game,” Briles said. “We weren’t going to let them go home early. It was a good, tough win. I was really proud of our guys, I thought they showed a whole lot of character and were very resilient and really tough minded. I thought they battled, relieved and overcame. From that standpoint it was a big win and I learned many years ago that there is no such thing as a bad win, they’re all great.

“It’s a big win for Baylor; I thought they did a good job making a statement about our program and our effort and our attitude, and we have to continue to get better as a team. We have a long way to go but we are taking steps forward, not backward and that’s the encouraging part.”

Briles’ Bears return to the gridiron for Big 12 play on Saturday, Oct. 10, in Norman, Oklahoma — as Baylor faces the Sooners (2-2) in a televised game (locally on ABC) slated to kickoff at 2:30 p.m.

“Like I said last week, it’s hard to define confidence,” Briles said. “I’m not worried about confidence quite honestly, I’m worried about production. What we’ve got to do is give them a good plan and go out and perform and produce and with that maybe some confidence will come. But if you don’t believe in yourself, no one else will. As soon as you step on the field you should be confident and if you don’t, you shouldn’t be out there.”

Denton Ramsey may be reached via email at denton.ramsey@gmail.com

BAYLOR VS. KENT STATE PREVIEW: Bears aim to bounce back after key injuries, host Golden Flashes Saturday on FSN

BAYLOR VS. KENT STATE PREVIEW: Bears aim to bounce back after key injuries, host Golden Flashes Saturday on FSN

By Denton Ramsey, Big 12 Fans Baylor Correspondent

WACO, Texas — The Baylor Bears (2-1) return to action on Saturday, Oct. 3, at Floyd Casey Stadium to host the Kent State Golden Flashes (2-2) in a game slated to kickoff at 6 p.m.; the match-up is also scheduled to be televised regionally on FSN-Southwest.

With a wave of injuries occurring last weekend against Northwestern State (quarterback Robert Griffin, defensive back Mikail Baker, and former-backup QB Blake Szymanski — who has been named the starter in Griffin’s absence), Coach Art Briles and the Bears must now battle back.

“First and foremost, our concerns go to them and their families,” Briles said. “Then you break it down from a football standpoint and the good thing about Robert and Mikail is that they’ll get an extra year back because their injuries were early enough in the season.”

For Griffin and Baker, that means one more year of eligibility.

“In Mikail’s case, he’ll have a sixth year and Robert, this will be his redshirt and he’ll have three more after this,” Briles said. “You look at the picture and figure out if you want to look at it good or bad and that’s the good side of it. Syzmanski hurt his shoulder trying to score in the third quarter and he’s day-to-day. He’s better today than he was yesterday and he was better yesterday than he was Sunday. If he gets in a little bit of work this week, he’ll be ready to go Saturday.”

One thing remains certain — these Bears are not about to give up and will fight until the very end.

“The way we look at it is that we’ve had a couple of family members that have been side-tracked for a little bit but what we’ll do is we’ll rally up, we’ll fight and we’ll compete — because that’s what you do as a player, it’s what you do as a coach and it’s what you do as a program,“ Briles said. “And we’ve got a job to do and we’re going to do our job.

“Our guys, they’ll adjust. And they’ll fight. We’re going to dial it up, we’re going to fight hard, for Robert, for Mikail, for A.B. [Antareis Bryan, who is out with broken foot] and then for the rest of these guys on this football team and for this University — that’s what we’re going to do.”

For the Baylor Nation, the quest to be bowl-bound still remains — and the Bears will get a chance to showcase their talent to the nation this Saturday against Kent State on FSN.

“We’re not going to come walking out of the dressing room Saturday, we’re going to come charging out,” Briles said. “We’ll be coming out with an intent to make a statement.”

With Griffin looking on from the press box [a precaution to prevent the injured QB from getting hit] and Briles taking care of business on the sidelines, look for the Bears to do just that — as Baylor aims to bounce back with a big win before Big 12 play begins next weekend in Norman, Oklahoma.

Denton Ramsey may be reached via email at denton.ramsey@gmail.com