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A little give and take

Posted by Bob Ryan, Globe Staff  January 17, 2008 03:29 PM

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I read an interview the other day with Tom Coughlin in which he claimed that the team committing the fewest turnovers wins 86 percent of all NFL playoff games. I can't verify that, but that is a chilling number.

So here we have the Chargers, with 48 takeaways, against the Pats, with a league-low 15 giveaways. Do you realize that no Patriots wide receiver or running back lost a fumble this year? Losing or not losing after the ball gets loose is pretty random and circumstantial, we all know that. But none, zip, zilch? That's truly amazing.

I anticipate yet another opponent playing its best football against the Pats. But I can't see it making any difference, can you? The one thing I'm anticipating is the Chargers bringing the house on many occasions against Brady. Surely they won't allow him to set up shop back there for the entire game, the way Jacksonville did after that opening sack. They've got to risk getting burned every once in a while in the hopes of putting him on the ground, or, at least, making him throw something he doesn't really want to throw. The alternative is madness.

You do realize that the Moss flap has riled up the vast anti-Patriots movement even more. He is, after all, one third of what could be construed as a three-pronged Patriots Axis of Evil, along with, I would presume, the coach and, I would guess, Rodney Harrison, who lived up to his image with those two not-needed 15-yarders last week. Not that it matters to the Pats, of course. They have taken rather well to this national Us vs. Them scenario. It may make for a messy offseason for number 81, but his mates will rally around their beleaguered wide-out. It will be of no consequence on Sunday.

Don't forget to pack your sunglasses for the Arizona trip.

MARKET CORRECTION?

The giddiness of November and December will not return. The Celtics remain on target to win 60-something, but the final tally doesn't matter. The goal will be to prepare for the playoffs, and there is no doubt there are vulnerabilities, and it's nothing people don't already know.

Danny MUST address the point guard situation. They really need Rajon Rondo to initiate both their offense and their defense, and that doesn't mean he's anywhere close to being a complete player or a star. It's just that he's the only point guard they have --- although Doc did take a look at Gabe Pruitt on Wednesday --- and they're not the same team without him.

Apparently, it's far easier said than done. And, no they don't want Gary Payton.

Secondly, they could use a 6-9, 6-10 guy who is better than Scot Pollard, better then Big Baby and better than Brian Scalabrine. I realize Pollard will have his moments banging around people and I like Big Baby's enthusiasm, as well as the breadth of his game (this kid can pass), but refs aren't going to respect him, and he will be out of his element in some games. One more useful big man would be nice.

Now I am not a betting man, but if you are, and there is such a thing as a futures wager, put a wad down on the Trail Blazers to win it all in 2010-2011. In that season, Greg Oden will be in his second year, Brandon Roy will be in his fourth, Steve Blake will be in his sixth, Martell Webster will be in his sixth, LaMarcus Aldridge will be in his fourth, Jarrett Jack will be in his fourth, Channing Frye will be in his fifth, James Jones will be in his sixth, Travis Outlaw will be in his sixth, Sergio Rodriguez will be in his fourth and Joel Przybilla will be in his ninth. And he will be the only one of this bunch over 30.

They won't all be there, of course. Moves will be made. But based on his early track record, GM Kevin Pritchard will make the right moves. This is a fabulous nucleus. Brandon Roy is downright Kobe-esque. I loooooove the Trail Blazers.

FASTEN YOUR SEAT BELT

How does Boston College lose to Robert Morris, at home, and then run up 112 five nights later against Wake Forest? Is that your question?

Because that's their nature; that's why. That's what happens when three of your first seven players are freshmen, when your 6-11 center doesn't seem to realize how good he is and your best player is an electrifying 6-foot guard. Oh, and your so-called power forward is a cheating' 6-3.

BC is an interesting team. I figured they'd be good for 17 W’s, max, and an NIT berth. But they already have 12 wins, and that's with losing the aforementioned home game to a Northeast Conference foe, which should not happen. They're talented enough to beat any ACC foe at home, with the obvious exception of North Carolina (Duke doesn't come here). They're also erratic enough to lose to anyone, anywhere, at any time.

The freshmen are 6-5ish Rakim Sanders, 6-6ish Corey Raji and 6-2ish Biko Paris. These kids can all play. But they will be all over the spectrum as the season unfolds.

The 6-11 center is Tyrell Blair, a legit big-time shot blocker who has the ability to score 15 points-per-game but who, on some nights, is offensively invisible. He is a relatively late-bloomer whose best basketball is ahead of him. I'm not saying there is an NBA in his future, but I will tell you that there is indeed a country for him somewhere. He will get paid to play basketball next season.

The 6-3ish power forward is Shamari Spears. Against foes of limited athleticism and skill, he can operate very effectively. Against a typical ACC player, he is overmatched physically, especially since he is a wide body with limited lift. Think of him as an A-league Craig Smith or Danya Abrams.

The best player on the team is, of course, Tyrese Rice, the latest in a long line of outstanding BC guards that goes as least as far as Tom O'Brien in the late forties and which, frankly, stacks up with just about any big-time basketball power you can name. In fact, if you want to start the Mother Of All BC Basketball Arguments, tell someone he must give you an All-Time BC backcourt. Trust me, it's not easy.

Anyway, Rice is a tremendous scorer. If you haven't seen this kid play in person, you should.

HE MADE 'NEXT YEAR' HAPPEN

Johnny Podres died last Sunday. He was 75.

Long before it was chic to wallow in Red Sox misery, there were the Brooklyn Dodgers, who were an enormously popular team that had never won a World Series. They lost World Series in 1920, 1941, 1947, 1949, 1952, and 1953, not to mention being beaten out for the National League pennant in a 1946 playoff with the Cardinals, as well as being victimized on the last days of both the 1950 and 1951 seasons. The perennial fan cry was "Wait 'Till Next Year."

But they finally broke through in 1955, and the primary reason was the left arm of the 23-year old Podres, who, with his team down, 0-2, beat the Yanks on his 23d birthday and then won Game 7 with a 2-0 shutout.

You young'uns have no idea how huge this was. "I guarantee, there was more celebrating in Brooklyn that day than there was for the end of World War II," said Dodgers general manager Buzzy Bavasi.

Podres is even a footnote in Celtics history. For when the Lakers beat the Celtics in Game 6 of the 1985 NBA Finals here in Boston, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, a Manhattan native and knowledgeable baseball fan, said, "I feel like Johnny Podres."

Podres had a fine career, finishing a 15-year career with a 148-116 record. He pitched in three subsequent World Series and he appeared in three All-Star games. His best year was in 1961, when he went 18-5, with a league-leading 2.66 ERA and six shutouts.

But he only needed that one victory in 1955 to be remembered in Brooklyn forever.

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About bob ryan's blog Opinions, observations and anecdotes from Boston Globe columnist Bob Ryan.
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Bob is an award-winning columnist for the Globe and the host of "Globe 10.0" on Boston.com.

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