Archive for June, 2015

Texas Longhorns Hoops receives commitment from 2016 combo guard Jacob Young

Posted by    |    June 30th, 2015 at 7:30 pm

Shaka be crootin’.

Jacob Young, a 2016 combo guard from Houston Yates, committed to the Texas Longhorns this evening. Young becomes the Longhorns’ first commitment in the 2016 class, and the first start-to-finish recruit landed by Shaka Smart, Texas’ new head coach. Smart previously received a commitment from former VCU signee Tevin Mack in the 2015 class.

Glad to announce that I will be attending the University of Texas to play for head coach Shaka Smart #HookEm ⚪️ ⚪️ ⚪️ ⚪️ !

— JY (@YEAHLILJ) June 30, 2015

Young is the younger brother of former Houston Cougars and Oregon Ducks star Joseph Young, who was recently drafted and will suit up for the Indianapolis Pacers this year. The Youngs’ basketball bloodline runs deep. Their father, Michael Young, was a member of Phi Slama Jamma, and the brothers apparently have some sort of new found relation to Paul George as well.

As for Young the younger, Jacob is an “I just get buckets” microwave scorer currently ranked 70th in the 247 Composite Rankings. He is ranked 13th in Greater Houston by Jim Hicks, local recruiting guru for RCS Sports. Measuring just 6′ 0″, 165 lbs, his body type is ideally suited to play the 1. But like his brother, Jacob is a score-first ballhandler and a trigger-gunner from deep. If he doesn’t get any bigger, we’re talking Javan Felix or A.J. Abrams, but with a couple inches and a few pounds, an Eric Davis or Sterling Gibbs comp sounds about right.

With Texas graduating two guards (Felix and Demarcus Holland) this year and likely losing Isaiah Taylor to the pros as well, Shaka Smart is looking to restock his backcourt. Young becomes the first piece, with fellow Houstonians De’Aaron Fox (Katy Cypress Lakes) and Kameron McGusty (Katy Seven Lakes) also top targets of Texas. As a native Houstonian, I’m personally excited that Young is on board (I’m a huge fan of his older brother) with the potential for more Texans on the way. Welcome to the 40, Jacob.

Bad Blood within the Big 12: Oklahoma President Wants Expansion and What it Means for the Big Ten

Posted by    |    June 25th, 2015 at 11:55 am

I know that is has been a looooooooong time since my last post. Between coaching basketball and baseball teams for both of my kids and work, it’s been tough to write lately. The patience of the readers and commenters here is sincerely appreciated.

Not much has gone on in the conference realignment world over the past couple of months between a few smaller moves on the margins, such as the Big Ten adding the Johns Hopkins women’s lacrosse team as an affiliate member. (They didn’t join the B1G at the same time as the men’s team.) However, University of Oklahoma President David Boren had some interesting direct comments yesterday about Big 12 expansion. Some quotes from NewsOK about his desire for the Big 12 to add teams:

University of Oklahoma President David Boren on Wednesday reiterated his stance that the Big 12 should expand to 12 teams.

“I think it’s something we should strive for while we have the time, stability, all of that to look and be choosy,” Boren said. “(We) can be very selective about who we want to add. It would have to add value to the conference. I think we should.”

Boren said he worried about not only the perception of the league as other major conferences have expanded but there long-term health of such a setup.

“How many years can this go on?” Boren said. “Finally, it just gets to be really debilitating. I worry about that. That’s something I just worry about long-term about the conference, not short term.”

Boren also threw some shade on the Longhorn Network and the notion that the Big 12 TV revenue distributions would be reduced by expansion:

Boren also said without explicitly naming it that the Longhorn Network—which keeps the Big 12 from having a conference network like the SEC, Big 10 and Pac 12—is a big problem for the conference.

“The elephant in the room remains the network south of us that has struggled and has in a way as long as it’s there,” Boren said. “And we have done quite well with our network and if anything ever changed, it has value to it which we see. But someday, maybe we’ll get past that other problem as well. It’s a problem.”

Boren said the problem of reduced revenue per school with expansion wasn’t as big of a hurdle as it had been made out to be.

“The contract says that our main television contract … if we grow from 10 to 11 or 11 to 12, their payments to us grow proportionally,” Boren said. “So everybody’s share stays the same. If it’s ‘X’ dollars, it stays ‘X’ dollars.

“Our main media contract says it’s not the same pie now cut 12 ways instead of 10.”

Boren did say that that only includes the primary television contract, not other revenue that is split between the schools.

“It’s not total because there’s some smaller—much smaller—amounts of money around the edges but if you can find the right people, it should be additive even though it’s split 12 ways instead of 10.”

Boren provides an important confirmation that the Big 12’s first tier TV contracts would increase proportionally in the event of expansion. Essentially, the notion that each Big 12 member’s revenue slice would be reduced in the event of expansion is largely a non-factor. As a result, any potential Big 12 expansion school doesn’t need to show that they would directly increase the value of the league by $20 million (as some Big 12 expansion opponents have suggested) – that increase is already baked into the conference’s TV contracts.

West Virginia Athletic Director Shane Lyons also indicated support for Big 12 expansion earlier this month (albeit athletic directors generally do not drive conference realignment talks in the way that university presidents have done, notwithstanding the efforts of special exceptions such as Tom Jurich of Louisville and

Does this mean that the Big 12 will take my advice and invite BYU and Cincinnati (or Memphis or other potential candidates)? I’ll reiterate my belief that the Big 12 has been focusing on short-term revenue dollars at the expense of long-term stability… and Boren indicates that there isn’t even much of a short-term revenue upside to avoiding further expansion. The worst thing that happened to the Big 12 leadership (and in turn, many of their fans) is that they deluded themselves into believing schools from the ACC (notably Florida State) could possibly be interested in joining the Texas-centric league. Ever since that occurred, the Big 12 has been paralyzed on the expansion front with an overrating of their position in the conference realignment marketplace (which is #5 out of the 5 power conferences). The Big Ten might have initially wanted Texas and Notre Dame (and to be sure, I wanted them as a fan), but the league moved on with adding a national brand in Nebraska and two mega-markets with Rutgers (New York City) and Maryland (Washington/Baltimore). The Pac-12 had a Pac-16 proposal to create a superconference that would have completely upended the college sports world by adding Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Colorado, but when that fell through, the league quickly shifted gears to solidify the Rocky Mountain region with a smaller expansion with Colorado and Utah. The SEC surely would have wanted Texas and Oklahoma, too, but they went out and nabbed Texas A&M and Missouri. The ACC will always dream of getting Notre Dame as a full member while harboring their own delusions of thinking that they could ever raid the Big Ten, but that league still got the Irish to commit to being a non-football member with 5 football games per season against ACC opponents and pilfered much of the value of the old Big East.

The point is that the other 4 power conferences gained more power and adjusted even when they didn’t get their #1 and/or #2 expansion options, whereas the Big 12 simply survived. Now, the Big 12 will always survive as long as Texas stays there. The MAC could add Texas and it would be automatically deemed to be a power league. However, if the Big 12 ever wants to get past mere survival and continuing to be the primary target for raiding by the other power conferences, it needs a more cohesive long-term strategy that doesn’t involve pie-in-the-sky hopes and dreams. The only realistic pool of expansion candidates for the Big 12 exists in the non-power “Group of Five” conferences plus independent BYU. The Big 12 can’t just sit back and wait for much longer – it needs to proactively find a way to extract value from 2 (or even 4) expansion candidates from that group in order to be more than a very regionalized (with a West Virginia appendage) conference.

Otherwise, the words of David Boren should be cautionary to the Big 12: this doesn’t sound like a guy that would turn down an invite from the Big Ten, Pac-12 or SEC. Indeed, once you get past the expansion targets that multiple conferences lust after because of their combination of athletic value and academic prestige (i.e. Texas, Notre Dame, North Carolina), Oklahoma is probably the single most valuable school that you could plausibly envision actually moving conferences in the nearish-term (defined as the next 10 years). I’ve stated here previously that if you take away any Texas/Notre Dame/Florida State expansion scenarios, the Big Ten adding Oklahoma and Kansas is probably the most valuable expansion that the league could realistically obtain. Their respective direct markets might not be the largest, but the national brand values of Oklahoma football and Kansas basketball are massive. With the NYC and DC markets already in the fold, the Big Ten Network is not necessarily going to be swayed by market size unless it’s the size of California, Texas or Florida (all of which might be unrealistic). Instead, expansion is about taking the last step of turning the BTN into a true national network, which is something that OU football and KU basketball can do. (Think about how much more attractive the Big Ten West looks as a division with Oklahoma in the fold, too.) On paper, Oklahoma may have some academic issues with the Big Ten since it is not an AAU member, but I believe the conference would look at form over substance in this instance with such an elite national football brand. Oklahoma has long been in the same academic tier as its neighbors of Nebraska, Kansas and Missouri, so this would not be a completely outside-the-box expansion. To be sure, it would be a much easier case for OU if it did have AAU membership, but they’re such a valuable potential addition (like non-AAU member Notre Dame) that I think that it would tip the balance.

The massive mountain-sized caveat, though, is that Oklahoma and Kansas aren’t schools that have complete autonomy over their conference decisions. Oklahoma State and Kansas State need to be taken care of if those schools move, which means either (a) the Big 12 can’t collapse (AKA Texas can’t move anywhere else) as a result of OU and KU ditching the league or (b) OSU and KSU have to come along with them as a package. This is big difference from the decisions of Colorado, Nebraska and Missouri leaving the Big 12 and even Texas A&M was able to avoid outside political pressure (which had occurred during the collapse of the Southwest Conference in connection with the formation of the Big 12 and the potential leaving behind of Baylor in the Pac-16 proposal) since Texas had (and still has) such huge financial incentives with the Longhorn Network that provide it with golden handcuffs to the Big 12.

Indeed, the Big Ten, SEC and Pac-12 would all take Oklahoma in a heartbeat, but the existence of Oklahoma State could limit the options of the Sooners. Note that the Pac-12 turned down an expansion proposal from Oklahoma and Oklahoma State in the chaotic days following Texas A&M’s announcement that it was leaving the Big 12 for the SEC, which means that the Pac-12 did NOT reject Oklahoma as an individual expansion candidate. If Oklahoma and Kansas were making that expansion proposal instead, then they would almost assuredly be Pac-12 members today.

Regardless, David Boren is pretty directly stating that Oklahoma isn’t that happy with where the Big 12 is today. Whether OU has any leverage to do anything about it depends upon whether it can act alone (in which case it has all of the options in the world with the Big Ten, SEC and Pac-12) or needs to do everything in tandem with Oklahoma State (where the only option might be to grit their teeth and stay in the Big 12).

Follow @frankthetank111

(Image from Wikipedia)

Filed under: Big Ten, College Basketball, College Football, Sports Tagged: Big 12 Expansion, Big Ten Expansion, BYU to the Big 12, Cincinnati to the Big 12, Conference Realignment, Kansas Jayhawks, Kansas to the Big Ten, Memphis to the Big 12, Oklahoma Sooners, Oklahoma to the Big Ten

OU President David Boren Thinks The Big 12 Should Be Mathematically Correct

Posted by    |    June 24th, 2015 at 6:39 pm

So OU would like to add two teams to the Big 12, but guess what they consider the “Elephant in the Room”

Those who thought that everyone in the Big 12 felt just fine about being at 10 members, think again. Oklahoma President David Boren spoke out Wednesday on his wish to add two more members sometime in the near future.

Boren believes that the long-term life of the league depends on expanding.

“How many years can this go on?” Boren said. “Finally, it just gets to be really debilitating. I worry about that. That’s something I just worry about long-term about the conference, not short term.”

Boren didn’t exactly say what he sees as the main stumbling block, but, well, you can figure it out for yourselves.

“The elephant in the room remains the network south of us that has struggled and has in a way as long as it’s there,” Boren said. “And we have done quite well with our network and if anything ever changed, it has value to it which we see. But someday, maybe we’ll get past that other problem as well. It’s a problem.”

What he really means is that Oklahoma has watched it’s hated rival pick up an extra 10-15 million a year for its own network, its former Big 8 mates reap the rewards of conference network networks elsewhere. Watching Nebraska (Big 10 Network), Missouri (SEC Network), and even lowly Colorado (Pac-12 Network) pick up millions for their third tier rights has to put a burr under the Sooners saddle, and with the conference meetings being held this summer this is as good a time as any to bring the subject up again.

Talking Fitness: Cycling Edition

Posted by    |    June 24th, 2015 at 12:47 pm

A guide on how to ride for more than a mile at a time

Now that you have a handle on swimming, let’s talk about cycling. Cycling can be daunting to some for entirely different reasons than swimming; whereas people tend to be afraid of getting in the water, in cycling it’s usually more of a financial concern as people see the Tour de France bikes and think it’s going to cost up to $10,000 to get a proper bike setup. While cycling isn’t a cheap hobby, there are ways to mitigate the costs that we’ll address in the course of the column.

A few notes before we begin:

  1. Much like the swimming piece, this is focused on the beginner cyclist. If you’ve been riding for many years or done a number of triathlons, this will probably be a refresher course at most.
  2. While this does focus on cycling in triathlons, many of the ideas work just as well if you’re simply looking to become a cyclist better able to add distance to your long rides. Maybe you want to finish a longer route on a local bike rally, perhaps some of this can help you get better on the bike(or prevent you from dealing with certain injuries).
  3. Unless I say otherwise, assume that I’m talking about road bikes. There are a ton of bike options out there – road, triathlon, cyclocross, mountain, hybrid, cruiser, etc. – and they all have their uses, but most of my experience is with road bikes so I’m sticking to what I know. If you have relevant information that pertains to some of the other bike types, by all means please add them into the comments below.

Finding Your Bike

TIP #1: Get the right size frame for your body. Many people think they can go on Craigslist, dig around for a road bike, and buy an older road bike for cheap..which is true. However, if you’re just starting out, you probably have no idea what size frame you should buy, and it makes a difference. I think shopping for a bike frame is a lot like what women go through when they shop for clothes; frame sizes vary not only within a manufacturer, but between manufacturers because they each use a slightly different geometry when building their frames. For example: on a Felt road bike I use a 54cm frame, but on a Specialized bike I use a 56cm frame. Pop quiz: what does the cm measurement refer to? If you’re reading this you probably don’t know – which is perfectly OK – it’s just a case in point of why you can’t go searching on Craigslist to find your first bike right off the bat. The easiest way to find out your frame size is to go to your local bike shop(LBS) and have them find you bikes that fit your dimensions. In fact, while we’re on the subject of bike shops…

TIP #2: Learn to love your LBS. Most cities have a handful of local shops that are staffed with salespeople, mechanics, and admins who are almost all cyclists of some variety. They’re passionate about the sport, have an amazing depth of knowledge, and are almost always very welcoming of a new cycling acolyte. You know that cycling friend you have who won’t shut up about cycling? Your LBS is packed to the gills with those guys, and this is when it’s the most helpful. They will walk you through every step of the buying experience, work within your budget, and get you ready to go. Trying to do this on the cheap? Many LBSs have a consignment section where you can pick up a used bike instead of buying a new one. You could go one step further and have them help you on the sizing, then head back to Craigslist to snag a bike for even cheaper, but I’d recommend at least going back & having some service done on your bike at the LBS – trust me, it will need it – so they at least get some money back for lending you their expertise. In the DFW area, I’ve had good experiences with Richardson Bike Mart & Tri Shop, but they’re far from the only places in town. Jack & Adam’s was nice to me when I was in town for a race once & seem to be well-liked amongst Austinites I know, but look around and find a place that works for you.

TIP #3: Get a bike fitting. You’ve snagged yourself a sweet ride on a frame that fits you, which is great. You could (literally) ride off into the sunset at this point, but chances are in a couple of weeks you’ll be back because something doesn’t feel right. Instead of firing out the front door with your bike, sign up for a basic fitting. The LBS will put you on a trainer and watch you ride, occasionally stopping you to take a handful of measurements on your knees & shoulders. Much in the same way your bike frame has a specific geometry, so too does your body when it’s on a bike. The measurements they’re taking are to make sure your knees, arms, and back are within an acceptable range, which helps prevent problems down the road. It’s not uncommon for people on the wrong size (or incorrectly fit) bike to develop neck, back, or knee issues as they increase their mileage. In a world of expensive – and sometimes unnecessary – options, a proper bike fit is pound for pound the best money you can spend when buying a road bike.

TIP #4: Learn how to change a tire. When you buy a bike, they will usually suggest buying a tire changing kit as well. This generally takes the form of a bag that hangs off the back of your bike seat & contains – assuming you’re buying a bike with clincher tires, not tubular – a spare tube, some tire levers, and a CO2 canister & trigger mechanism. I’d highly suggest taking them up on this kit as well as buying a couple extra tubes and a bike pump while you’re there. There’s a good chance they’ll have a free class on how to change a tire, sign up for that class. The last thing you want to do is be out on the side of the road trying to figure this all out. It’s not a terribly difficult process, but it gets easier with practice. The first time you try to change a tube, it’s probably going to take you 30 minutes and involve a number of 4-letter words; by the 10th time you’ll be able to do it in much more quickly and without offending a bus full of children. It’s a very handy skill to learn, and if this guy can do it, so can you.

TIP #5: Don’t buy tubular wheels. Once upon a time, tubular wheels were the only real option, and some people still swear by them. They have certain benefits to riders of a certain caliber – meaning none of you and definitely not me either – but for the weekend cyclist there’s not an appreciable benefit over clinchers. A small segment of cyclists can change out a tubular as quickly as a clincher, but for the rest of us mortals it’s a pretty easy choice.

So Many Accessories

TIP #6: Wear a helmet. About a month after I bought my first road bike, I was near the end of a 2 hour ride on White Rock Trail when I rounded a blind curve and saw another cyclist headed towards me. I swung out wide to miss him and managed to wedge my front wheel into the side of the path, sending me over the handlebars and into the side of a metal bridge at about 25mph. After (slowly) regaining an understanding of the world around me and (slowly) walking myself to my car, I (slowly) drove myself to a hospital that was down the street. I crimped my bike frame (which the LBS said they’d never seen before, so…hooray?), cracked my helmet, separated my shoulder, and ended up with a couple road rash scars. The only reason I don’t currently eat apple sauce through a straw is because I was wearing a helmet. And I’m out of straws. WEAR A HELMET.

TIP #7: Buy the funny shorts. I know cycling shorts look dumb & they don’t seem like they have much purpose when you see people riding by, but that’s because the important part is hidden. Ladies & gentlemen, I’d like to introduce you to your new best friend: the chamois. (It’s generally pronounced ‘shammy’.) The chamois gives you some extra padding – which is nice – from the bike seat, but that’s not really the main purpose. While there are a lot of potential hazards for anyone putting in miles on the road – stray dogs, potholes, soccer moms texting while driving their brood to the game – the hazard that doesn’t get as much press is the one you will reckon with if you don’t wear cycling shorts: friction. Friction is the silent assassin, the quiet pain that you won’t notice until you strip off your 1990s Russell brand gym shorts, hop into the shower, and the water hits your most sensitive of areas. When you’re having to soap down a part of your body that feels like somebody handed Guy Fieri an 8-ball & a cheese grater and told him your taint held the secret recipe to a new form of deep-fried butter sticks, you’ll be a convert to the Spandex Church.

Lesson learned.

Lesson learned.

TIP #8: Body Glide is your friend. Because sometimes the chamois isn’t enough to fend off The Force That Shall Not Be Named, especially if you’re one of our more hirsute readers. The more body hair you have, the more sources of friction you’re going to encounter on a ride. There are alternatives to Body Glide, such as Chamois Butter; feel free to try them all out & see if one works better for you than the others.

TIP #9: Buy shoes & clipless pedals. You don’t have to do this off the bat – especially if you’re trying to keep the budget low – but if you ride enough you should get to a point where switching the baskets & tennis shoes for clipless pedals & cycling shoes makes sense. The main advantage of these shoes & pedals is that you’re able to more efficiently transfer power from your legs to the bike than if you’re not clipped in, and as you progress as a cyclist this will become more important. It also allows you to more effectively ‘spin’ (we’ll get into this soon) which helps you as you start to ride longer distances.

TIP #10: Pay attention to your junk. Look, there’s no two ways around it, cycling is painful on your butt at first. In your daily life, your sit bones don’t get a lot of action – or maybe they do, I’m not here to judge – so they don’t react well to sitting on a bike saddle for a couple of hours. Much in the same way learning to play guitar can be painful on your fingers, cycling can be painful on your ass. Much in the same way you build callouses on your fingers learning to play guitar, your sit bones will get used to cycling if you ride regularly. (If you only ride once in a blue moon, you’ll never stop dealing with this. Half the reason I ride on a trainer in the winter is to not go through the, uh, ‘reacclimation process’ in the spring.) That’s one kind of pain, but it’s not the kind I’m talking about. There’s another kind of pain that can happen to both men & women but is significantly more prevalent (and painful) in men, it’s called Cyclist’s Syndrome. The Cliff’s Notes version: you can sit on a nerve that causes numbness in your dick, which is a uniquely nerve-wracking experience. If you let it happen repeatedly, the effects can be long-term. There are two ways to fix this problem: the aforementioned bike fit or getting a different saddle. I had this issue early on and switched to a line of Adamo saddles that alleviate the issue by adopting a design that looks like they wrapped an Excelsior Class star ship in leather.

Phasers sold separately.

Phasers sold separately.

Before we move onto the actual riding, let’s take a moment to talk about prices because I’m sure the cash register in your head is ringing loudly. It is true that this hobby can consume entire paychecks without the slightest hint of remorse, rampaging through your budget like Scipio running through a Ninja Warrior course on the tail end of a 3-day fish oil bender. There really is no limit to the high end of the budget, but there is a low end limiter in the bike itself. A decent entry-level road bike is likely going to be at least $500 if you buy it new, and after you add in the bike fit, shoes, pedals, a couple of pair of bike shorts, etc., you’re going to be approaching the $1k mark pretty quickly. There are ways around this, namely skipping the shoes/clipless pedals & buying a used bike which can cut this bill nearly in half if you’re diligent in your efforts. Alternatively, mountain bikes tend to start at a lower price point, so if you’re not married to the idea of a road bike you could try your hand at mountain bikes at a lower initial cost than a new road bike. (Mountain bike owners please correct me if I’m wrong about this.)

Get to the Riding, Already

TIP #11: NO HEADPHONES. I love music as much as anyone, but seriously, don’t do it. If you’re out on an open road, you need to be aware of your surroundings. Screw that, you need to be hyper-aware of your surroundings. In the state of Texas, bicycles are legally considered the same as motor vehicles. This means you have to be on the street unless there’s an explicitly-designated bike path. This means you’re sharing the road with every one else, and it pays to be able to hear everything from another cyclist announcing their presence to the F350 preparing to coal roll you when you’re in a 2-lane road.

This f'ng guy.

This f’ng guy.

You need to pay attention, particularly in a state like Texas that at best is unaware cyclists exist and at worst treats cyclists like target practice. Leave the iPod at home if you’re getting on public streets, it could literally save your life. On the same note, take your whole lane, and I mean plant yourself dead in the middle of it. You’re legally entitled to it(unless it’s a 2-lane road) and it discourages drivers from buzzing you using half of your lane. You need to own your piece of the road.

(Personal note to drivers: I get it, we’re in the way. I do my best to stay off the main roads, to stay out of rush hour, and to otherwise reduce my impact on traffic as much as is legally possible. I realize me being on the road is a burden & largely the product of a half-assed solution from our legislators so I try to minimize my presence in your world. All I ask is you realize that you can kill me with your impatience. The chamois stops chafing, not a side mirror. I like living, you like low insurance rates and a commute free of police interrogation; let’s be pragmatic in our asphalt entanglement.)

TIP #12: Watch the road. I’m not talking about cars – though obviously you need to keep an eye for them – so much as I am about the condition of the road you’re on. Road bikes have skinny tires that don’t handle cracks or railroad tracks (always cross railroad tracks as close to perpendicular as possible, trust me on this) so you need to keep an eye on what’s in front of you. Also, running over branches or similar road debris is a quick way to ensure you’re practicing that tube change on the side of the road sooner than you expected. Or worse.

Hey what's tha-

Hey what’s tha-

TIP #13: Find some group rides in your area. If the idea of braving city streets is intimidating, consider finding a group ride in the area. A large portion of them start at a LBS and have a standard route you can find online. They have speeds & distances in all varieties, usually including a couple of no-drop(meaning there’s somebody on the back riding as slowly as the slowest rider) rides you can try out. Riding in a group is generally safer than riding by yourself because drivers are more apt to notice 20-30 riders than a single cyclist. You can also use the rides as a way to test your limits and potentially move up to faster groups over time. It’s a great way to figure out what you’re good at and what needs work. If nothing else, maybe you make some cycling friends you can ride with outside of the groups.

TIP #14: Learn how to spin. I’m not talking about the hell caves in your gym where an over-caffeinated 24 year old scream-cries motivational poster sayings as you try not to stare at the lycra-clad ass of the 35 year old soccer mom in front of you; I’m talking about spinning. Most beginners mash the pedals, stomping on them because it feels productive. It makes sense, you want to feel like you’re working, but it’s detrimental to your goal. Instead of sitting in a big gear turning over at 70-80 rpm, try dropping down a gear or two and spin faster at 90-100 rpm. It’s going to be a bit uncomfortable at first but if you can get used to it, you’ll be more efficient in applying power to the wheels which results in using less energy to get where you’re going. Similar to some of the swimming tips, the more efficiently you allocate power, the easier it is to increase distance.

TIP #15: Don’t try to beat the hill, try to survive it. We all like to think we’re stronger than we actually are and in the middle of a ride a hill can stoke your competitive desire to make that hill submit to you, but believe me when I say this: hills are undefeated for a reason. None of us are training for Le Tour, we don’t have money riding on our performance. You might be able to take the first one out by hammering up the incline at 500 watts, but each time you do that you’re lighting a match and you only have so many matches in your matchbook. The better plan is to drop down a few gears & try to spin up the incline. You may end up in your smallest gear cranking along at 60 rpm, which is still better for your long-term ride than trying to take out a 4% incline in the big ring. You’ll end up on the other side of the hill with more energy, and you’ll probably finish the entire ride faster than if you were hammering up the inclines. Oh, and don’t stop pedaling when you hit the top of the hill, keep pedaling lightly as you go down the other side. It helps flush out some of that lactic acid you built up climbing the hill in the first place.

Shut up, legs!

Shut up, legs!

TIP #16: Use the front brake sparingly. If you clamp down on the rear brake, you leave a skinny tire track on the road & maybe fishtail a bit. If you clamp down on the front brake..

He's not getting her number.

He’s not getting her number.

TIP #17: Gadgets are your friend. Different electronics have different uses and can give you different levels of information, and as with everything else in this sport, depending on your budget you can go far down the statistical rabbit hole. A simple cadence/speed sensor is an inexpensive place to start and from there you can progress to heart monitors and power meters if you feel like dropping a good chunk of cash(though they’re steadily getting cheaper). It all depends on your wallet & your interest level. If you’re starting out, the cadence/speed sensors are a good bet and you can get heart rate monitors for under $100 depending on what capabilities you want. As you increase your fitness & distance, they can become more vital in helping you dole out your energy at a sustainable pace for longer periods of time. I have a Garmin Edge on my bike that I pair with a Mio wristband(for HR) and Quarq power meter, so I’ve got a ton of information coming out of every ride, but I’m also an incurable data nerd so I like digging into this stuff. Start with a simple wired cadence/speed sensor system and add more later if you like.

TIP #18: Learn how to take in nutrition on the bike. With a little practice, it’s not hard to eat a Gu or Uncrustable while riding. And while nutrition is important, it’s worth mentioning that you’re not going to need that much of it on an average ride. If you’ve eaten properly during the day, you shouldn’t need to take any food on a ride that’s shorter than 90 minutes or so. Ditch the Gatorade & ‘sports’ drinks for the hour ride & drink water instead. If you cramp up during an hour ride it’s not because you sweat out electrolytes, it’s because you’re not in the shape you may think. Which is perfectly OK, by the way, that’s why you’re riding in the first place. You’ll get better with practice, and you won’t need as many calories as you think(because you’re not burning as many calories as you think).

TIP #19: Don’t ride a tandem bike with your significant other unless you’re looking to jump start a divorce. If you want to see the unvarnished truth of how strong your relationship is, a tandem bike is a quick way to find out. If you and your partner can work well together on a tandem bike, you’ll last forever.

TIP #20: Have fun. This probably sounds hacky & simplistic, but it’s true. I try to make sure I have fun on my rides; whether it’s trying to catch somebody ahead of me or blowing past a radar gun as fast as I can, it’s important to remember that riding a bike is actually really fun. Even if I’m out doing power intervals and turning myself inside out for 20 minutes at a time, I still keep an eye on the speedometer and grin a little when it climbs. If you make it a priority to enjoy your workout, it stops being a workout and becomes a fun activity. The more fun you have, the more likely you are to continue riding, so go out and have a good time on the bike.

Myles Turner and Jonathan Holmes

Posted by    |    June 24th, 2015 at 10:05 am

Where will the last two of Rick Barnes prodigal sons end up going in the NBA draft?

As is usually the case in the days before the NBA draft, there are rumors flying everywhere. There’s just too much incentive for reporters to publish speculation from team sources and there’s no great reason for executives to divulge what they are actually thinking. The Knicks must have been linked to every player in the lottery at some point over the last two months. The mock drafts are useful in the sense that they give a general range of where every player is projected to go but all it takes is for one trade or one team with a high pick to make an unexpected selection and the whole dynamic of the draft changes.

For Myles Turner and Jonathan Holmes, there’s no point in worrying too much about where you could do because just about every team in the league is in play once you are in their range. Turner is projected to go somewhere in the late lottery, which is a prime area for teams to trade up into if they fall in love with a particular guy. Holmes has been given the catch-all late first-round to early second-round tag, which can mean anywhere from 20 to 40, depending on individual team needs and the strength of their position in the draft.

What makes it difficult is so much of their initial success at the next level is going to depend on the team that drafts them, how they fit with the players around them and whether that team is dedicated to maximizing their value or is just grabbing draft picks to accumulate assets without any real concern for what role they will have. Neither guy has the type of game that’s going to allow them to thrive in any situation in the NBA.

Myles Turner

In the right spot, I think Turner can be one of the best values in the draft. What I think it will come down to is that he’s going to have to play as a C. While he has the shooting ability to theoretically step out and stretch out the defense as a PF, given the way the league is going, I don’t think he needs to be chasing guards 25+ feet away from the basket on the pick-and-roll. It would also be difficult for him to take advantage of his size edge as a PF if he was playing next to another big man at C who occupies a lot of space around the basket. In other words, you want to put him in the exact opposite of the role he had at Texas.

The idea with Turner is you want to have him in the Andrew Bogut role at Golden State, playing next to a smaller combo forward who can play out on the perimeter on offense and extend out on defense. The extra space would allow him to operate out of the low post in the half-court and give him a ton of space on the pick-and-pop. If he has a bunch of smaller, faster defenders playing in front of him, he can QB the second line of the defense and protect the rim by annihilating every shot within 10+ feet of the basket. That’s really where he separates himself from a lot of the other guys in his range – he has the physical tools and the college production to where he could be a dominant interior defender in the NBA.

If you have a C with that type of defensive ability and he can give you anything consistent on the offensive end of the floor, you could have one of the best players in the NBA. The Warriors had to take Bogut off the floor in the playoffs because he can’t score. If Turner is playing with a PG who can create open looks for him, that shouldn’t be an issue.

When you look at teams in the latter stages of the lottery, what jumps out is there aren’t a lot of natural fits for Turner. A lot of teams in that range already have a young C and Turner probably isn’t going to make as much sense in a Twin Towers format as someone like Karl Towns or Kristaps Porzingis, who are more fluid and capable of playing out on the floor.

6. Sacramento – Boogie Cousins. Even if they pull the trigger and move Cousins on draft night, this is pretty much the last situation a developing young big man needs to be in. A lot of guys are refusing to work out in Sacramento for that very reason.

7. Denver – Jusuf Nurkic

8. Detroit – Andre Drummond

9. Charlotte – Al Jefferson + Cody Zeller + Noah Vonleh: The Hornets are built around a low-post C and they have taken 6’10+ big men in the lottery in each of the last two drafts.

10. Miami – Hassan Whiteside

11. Indiana – Roy Hibbert. The Pacers might be the ideal scenario. They have been making a lot of rumblings that they don’t want Hibbert to stay long term and they are interested in playing a faster style of basketball. Turner’s best case scenario is somewhere around a faster version of Hibbert whose more capable of creating his own offense and finishing around the rim. He can take a year behind Hibbert and he can be eased into a role that would really fit his strengths – hanging back around the basket and playing traffic cop on any penetration that leaks through.

Maybe more important that that, though, is that Indiana is a small-market team with a proven commitment to building through the draft that has shown the ability to develop guys who left college early into fairly polished pros. Turner would be in a stable situation with a strong locker room and a winning culture already in place and he wouldn’t be asked to do too much too soon. He would provide a ton of upside for a No. 11 pick (and they’ve had a lot more success trying to swing for the fences with guys like Paul George and Lance Stephenson than trying to play it safe with picks like Tyler Hansbrough) and give them a young big man that could complement George as he continues to take a bigger role with the franchise, as Hibbert and David West seem to be aging out of their prime.

12. Utah – There have been a lot of rumblings about Turner at No. 12 and while he would fit the Jazz ethos of drafting super-sized players for their position, they already have two of the best interior defenders in the NBA in Rudy Gobert and Derrick Favors. Turner would stretch the floor for both of those guys but not using him in a role as a primary rim protector would be a gross misuse of his skill-set.

13. Phoenix – Alex Len. Len has never gotten a ton of publicity but he’s a young C whose 3 years older than Turner and whom the Suns invested a No. 5 overall pick in. He has two-way potential, he’s already earned a spot as a starter as a 22-year old and he’s a better fit with the uptempo style that Jeff Hornacek likes to play. I could see the Suns taking Turner as a value pick in that spot but I don’t know if they would be making that pick with the idea of him staying there long-term.

14. Oklahoma City – They already have Enes Kanter and Steven Adams in the role of burly big man who operates around the paint and their best line-ups are probably with Serge Ibaka at the 5.

15. Atlanta – Drafting Turner would allow them to play Horford as more of a PF but they are a team ready to win now that desperately needs more size and athleticism on the wings. They have already shown with Adreian Payne – whom they took at No. 15 in last year’s draft and then traded to Minnesota – that they aren’t really trying to wait on a young big man.

16. Boston – This is probably closer to the floor of where Turner could go. He makes a lot of sense for Boston in that they are a young team with a lot of one-way big men who don’t have much of an identity in the front-court and Turner would give them the type of piece they could build around. I’d love to see an All-DFW pick-and-roll with Myles Turner and Marcus Smart and Isaiah Thomas could be killer coming off the massive screens Turner can set. The Celtics have been linked to Turner and they have been making a lot of noises about moving up in the first round. Danny Ainge likes to play things close to the vest but this seems like something that would make sense for both sides.

If Turner falls below 16, which seems unlikely to me barring any last minute medical scare, I’d expect someone to move up and take him because at that point he would represent almost unbelievable value in terms of his upside vs. where he would be going.

Jonathan Holmes

With Holmes currently projected to go at No. 28 by DraftExpress, it’s not so much the teams that will be picking in that range, since a lot of those picks could end up being moved, but the types of guys he will be competing against. If a team is looking for a stretch PF late in the first round, what other guys besides Holmes will they be looking at? The interesting thing about this draft is there are a ton of conventional PF’s at the same time that the league is moving towards going smaller and playing SF’s as PF’s. If guys like Sam Dekker are being looked at as 4’s, that’s going to remove roster spots for guys like Holmes. Given the way Holmes played as a senior out on the wing, I don’t think the idea of him as a SF in the NBA makes a ton of sense.

Once you get past Porzingis, Frank Kaminsky, Trey Lyles, Bobby Portis and Kevon Looney, that leaves Holmes among a group of 7-8 PF’s fighting for one of those guaranteed contracts at the end of the first round.

Montrezl Harrell: The most well-known of the group. The concern with him is that he tried adding a perimeter jumper as a junior at Louisville and playing that far away from the basket just isn’t the ideal spot for him to affect the game. Montrezl makes his damage around the rim and he’s going to go from being the biggest guy on the floor in the NCAA to almost a medium-sized guy in the NBA. He has the raw athleticism and the physicality to carve out a spot for himself but NBA teams are probably going to draft him to play as an undersized 5 more than a stretch 4 like Holmes.

– Jarrell Martin: He’s shut down his workouts after reportedly getting a promise from someone late in the first round and I have a hard time seeing Holmes go ahead of him since they are basically the same player except Martin is younger, more athletic and was more productive in college. As long as he’s out there, Holmes probably isn’t coming off the board.

Chris McCullough: He’s a freshman who only played 16 games before tearing his ACL so he’s much more of a long-term pick than Holmes. At a certain point at the end of the first round, though, the risk to reward ratio flips and it starts to make more sense to gamble on a guy with more upside than to take the sure thing. He hasn’t shown a lot of range on his jumper but he is much leaner than Holmes and he’s a much more fluid player on the perimeter. McCullough is an easy guy to fall in love with from a scouting perspective and it seems unlikely that he would declare given his injury situation unless someone had made him some type of assurance or at least strongly hinted at the possibility.

Cliff Alexander: Alexander is another upside pick, as he’s a freshman who was once seen as a potential Top 5 pick before plummeting out of the first round after a disastrous season at Kansas. The concern with him is that he might end up having to play as a small-ball 5, as he doesn’t have a lot of polish or perimeter skill in his game at this point.

Rakeem Christmas: He could be competing with Holmes to fill the role of four-year senior who can step in right away and compete immediately. The difference is that he was a much more productive NCAA player and he’s probably slated for a role as a small-ball 5, given that he has a 7’5+ wingspan and didn’t attempt a single 3PA as a senior.

Jordan MickeyI just wrote a thing about Mickey over at RealGM. He’s a Dallas guy (a product of Prime Prep who actually managed to be eligible) and I think he has a chance to be a real steal as a 2nd-rounder. He has more of a perimeter game than guys like Montrez, Cliff and Christmas but I think he’s still going to end up as small-ball 5 in the modern NBA more than a stretch 4.

Christian Wood: A lot of the shine has come off the rose with Wood recently but he profiles as a stretch 4 ala Holmes while putting up better numbers with more physical tools. Wood has a ton of talent – it’s just a matter of whether he’s going to have his head on straight and play within himself to the point where he can show that at the NBA level. He’s kind of like the exact opposite of Holmes in terms of risk/reward – a much higher ceiling and a much lower floor.

The point is that there is just a ton of guys who play Holmes position in his range of the draft. What Holmes has in his corner is that he’s a proven veteran 4 that you know is going to be a professional and get the most out of his game. The concern is that he just doesn’t represent the same type of upside. The key for him is showing that he can be a consistent 3-point shooter – the easiest way for him to carve out a spot for himself is to be able to stick 3’s but he has never shot better than 33% from 3 in a season at Texas. There are definitely some mitigating circumstances in terms of how he was used but I’m not sure he’s going to be athletic enough to survive around the rim so he has to be a fairly efficient scorer from the perimeter. If he becomes a volume shooter ala Mike Scott there should always be a place for him somewhere in the NBA.

The worry with Holmes is that he doesn’t have great statistics or great measurables so it could be easy for him to fall through the cracks on draft night. It’s going to be hard for a front office to fall in love with a guy who tops out as a 7th-8th man off the bench. If he can go somewhere that’s going to run a lot of pick-and-pops and utilize him as a small-ball 4, he should have a chance. If he ends up slipping out of the first round, not getting a guaranteed contract and falling victim to a roster crunch, he could end up in Europe.

The one thing he has going for him is that he’s a Rick Barnes guy so he’s going to compete, buy in on defense and fight for his spot in the league. He’s a senior whose dealt with a lot of adversity in his career so he’s not going to get too flustered with anything that goes on at the next level. Given how he stuck with the program after everyone else in his recruiting class scattered like rats off a sinking ship, I hope he winds up somewhere in the NBA that can use him.

Turner’s got such rare skills that he will get a ton of 2nd chances and eventually find a place in the league no matter what happens on draft night. Holmes is a guy who could go either way.