April 25, 2006
John Madden:
Scored 3 goals for Devils, including record-tying 2 shorthanded (one was mistakenly knocked in on the goal line by NY's Sandis Ozolinsh). NJ up 2-0.
 
 
 
The Lead Item
Two Words For You:
DRAFT.  DODGING.

Reggie or Mario? It's emerging as the unexpected intrigue of the week leading up to the NFL draft.

The presumption was that Reggie Bush was a lock to go to Houston with the first pick, and all the drama would ramp up with the No. 2 pick.

But, suddenly, there's a buzz that Bush and top defensive prospect Mario Williams are a Texas toss-up.

Would the Texans really draft the relatively unknown Williams (as promising as he might be) over the uber-hyped Bush?

Maybe it's real, maybe it's draft-week subterfuge (aka "lying"). Let's break down three key decision-making factors:

SUCCESS: Which player makes the team better? For all of Bush's electricity, it remains to be seen if his freakish college skills will translate as an every-down RB. How would the Texans use him?

Meanwhile, Michael Smith offered an intriguingly compelling (and must-read!) case why Houston would be better off drafting Williams. There's no question how Williams will be used: To destroy people. (Edge: Williams)

SIZZLE: Who cares how they'll use Bush? Every time he touches the ball, he's a threat to do something spectacular. Williams might be a future sack king, but he'll only keep points off the board, not put them on it. (Edge: Bush)

SIGNABILITY: Houston has made offers to both players, if not to play "who'll sign first?" then to simply gauge how easy each player would be to deal with, if drafted. The expanded salary cap has agents seeing green. (Edge: Even)

Smith's analysis convinced me to give Williams a second thought. But even if Mario's pro potential is actually more obvious than Bush's, I agree with Texans fans:

Seventy-five percent of them think Bush is the best pick, undoubtedly won over by his sizzle and assuming a contract will eventually work out.

And for a struggling franchise, the draft mantra should be: "The customer is always right."

NBA Playoffs
The NHL has "playoff beard." The NBA has "playoff bald."

Dwyane Wade shaved his head, then clipped the Bulls for a stat-stuffing 21 pts, 7 ast, 5 reb and 4 stl in a 115-108 Heat win to take a 2-0 lead.

After having allowed more than 111 points only 4 times in the regular season, the Bulls have now done it twice in two games vs. Miami.

Speaking of "clipped," how can you not be rooting for the Clippers? L.A. continued to take advantage of home court and took a 2-0 lead on Denver.

It's hard to decide what's more impressive: That the Clippers shot nearly 48 percent and put 6 players in double figures ...

... Or that they held the Nuggets to under 35 percent FG shooting, the second time this series they held Denver to under 40 percent.

(Here's a handy fact: In the history of the NBA playoffs, teams that take a 2-0 lead go on to win nearly 95 percent of the time; granted, that is inflated by the old 5-game series format, but still.)

And tonight's schedule:

Cavs-Wiz, Game 2: If LeBron could put up a triple-double in his career playoff debut, what will he do with a game of experience?

CHECK OUT THE QUICKIE EVERY WEEKDAY MORNING!
WHO'S GOT THE MOMENTUM ...
Richard Hamilton: Extra days off means ankle will heal
Nomar Garciaparra: Hits grand slam for first Dodgers RBI
Mark Cuban: Getting his own weekly radio show on Sirius
... AND WHO'S GOT NO MO'
Hurricanes: Down 0-2 to Habs, despite taking G2 to 2OT
AJ Burnett: Jays SP out indefinitely with elbow "tweak"
Udonis Haslem: Susp. for Heat Game 2; didn't need him
 
Nets-Pacers, Game 2: If the Nets can't improve on 1-for-15 3-pt FG shooting (at home!), they're staring at a 0-2 hole and oblivion.

Spurs-Kings, Game 2: The biggest intrigue is whether Sacto, without Artest (See DQ'd), can eclipse Game 1's 34-point halftime gap.

MLB Wrap
Pujols hits HR No. 12: Perhaps the Pirates didn't get my memo. The guideline wasn't to avoid giving Pujols something to hit merely in the late innings; you're not supposed to give him anything to hit at all.

(Think about it: You wouldn't pitch to him in a close game in the 8th or 9th, so why would you pitch to him in a close game in the 1st, like Pittsburgh did?)

Bonds Watch: 3 BB (2 IBB): Fans may not respect Barry, but managers still do. Bonds took over the MLB lead in walks (23) and OBP (.541) last night, and he set the table for Moises Alou to knock in 5 runs.

Mench's other shoe drops: Kevin Mench has hit 4 HR in the last 4 games, which, if I'm counting right, is when he realized he had been wearing shoes a half-size too small and changed. Talk about a schneid buster.

Do D-Rays still own Yankees? Tampa Bay must be thrilled to start its 3-game series vs. the Yankees today. Remember: Last season, the D-Rays went 11-8 vs. N.Y. (11-5 until a Sept. sweep), including 6-3 in New York.

Bush Scandal?
Is it scandal or "scandal"? Here was Reggie Bush's response to the house thing with his parents that broke over the weekend:

"We have nothing to hide," Bush told ESPN. "When all is said and done ... everyone will see we have done absolutely nothing wrong."

Even if they technically did "nothing wrong," Bush's parents should have known better: In college sports, the mere appearance of impropriety is enough to trigger inquiries. Speaking of which ...

(Side note: Unsurprisingly -- and hilariously -- Texas fans have reportedly contacted the Heisman folks about revoking Bush's Trophy and giving it to runner-up Vince Young. And people say that I'm the Instant Hysteric?)

More NFL Draft Fun
Every year, I try to find an Ivy League player to track (and boost) in the lead-up to the NFL draft.

Last year, it was Harvard QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, who ended up being drafted in the 7th round by the Rams -- and putting up 310 yards and 3 TDs (117 QB rating!) in his NFL debut in Week 12.

And in 2006? Here you go:

Name: Nick Hartigan
(Position: RB/Fullback)

School: Brown
(Alma mater of: Chris Berman)

Size: 6-2, 235 lbs
("Poor man's": LenDale White)

Stats: 1,727 yds*, 20 TDs*
(* both led Division 1-AA)

Fun Fact: Would-be attorney
(Accepted to: Harvard Law)

Join me, and track Hartigan's draft status to help spice up your "Day 2 Draft Party!"

NFL Fan Draft
Latest from SportsNation's NFL Fan Draft:

24 (CIN): TE Leonard Pope
Huge target for Carson Palmer
25 (NYG): WR Sinorice Moss
Santana's bro runs 4.4 40
26 (CHI): TE Marcedes Lewis
Is it a run on tight ends?

Get a recap, and vote today for the Panthers (9 a.m. ET), Jags (noon ET) and Jets (3 p.m. ET).

Quickie Draft Challenge! Four days to go! Don't forget to sign up for the new "Daily Quickie Readers" group of ESPN.com's "Draft Forecast" game. (Open to everyone; no password needed). Sign up here!

Quickie Catch Phrase
"I'm Keith Hernandez": Previously, most memorable as a line from "The Boyfriend" episode of "Seinfeld" as Hernandez (playing himself) justified hitting on Elaine Benes.

Now, it's a faddish catchphrase intended to capture the piggish, sexist attitude like the one Hernandez put on display this weekend in mocking the presence of the Padres' female trainer in the dugout.

So when your co-worker turns to you and calls you a misogynist, just sit back, chuckle and say to yourself, "I'm Keith Hernandez."

(Update: Hernandez has been reprimanded by his TV network. His reputation, however, likely won't get off that easily, based on the volume of mocking commentary circulating over the last 24 hours.)

Ron Artest:
The Kings may complain about Ron-Ron's Game 2 suspension after elbowing Manu in Game 1, but Marc Stein points out the league was right to nail him.
 
 
Today on ESPN.com
Quickie: Live!
NFL Draft
Page 2 Index
 
Suggestions for Name of 5th BCS Bowl
Ultra Bowl
Because "Super" is taken
 
[Sponsor] Bowl
Why not just sell it?
 
Bigger Bowl
Love the alliteration
 
Champions Bowl
Obviousness works, too
 
BCS Bowl
Look for eponymity?
 

Congrats to Avery Johnson, who reportedly will be named NBA Coach of the Year. Deserves it for improving Mavs' D from awful to contending.

NBA Draft: Texas' P.J. Tucker is that weird CBB tweener who dominates in college (16.1 ppg, 9.5 rpg) but mystifies as to where he'll fit in the NBA.

More: Michigan State's Shannon Brown will test the draft, too. A high-flying scorer at MSU (17.5 ppg), he's still considered a bubble 1st-rounder.

Not surprisingly, the Panthers declined to match the Bears' offer sheet for DB Ricky Manning. He's Chicago's problem now, recent arrest and all (Manning was arrested Sunday on suspicion of assault).

BCS Watch: The new 5th BCS game serving as the new national title game needs a name, which could be announced today. How about Ultra Bowl?

Rick Monday will be honored today in Houston on the 30th anniversary of the moment he snatched the U.S. flag from would-be burners on the field.



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