Coach: Pick Ryan and there’s no cryin’

MATT RYAN is entering the list of elite quarterbacks in the NFL (Seatacolor photo).

MATT RYAN is entering the list of elite quarterbacks in the NFL (Seatacolor photo).

There are some pretty wild ways to predict the outcome of a sports contest, and I’ve got mine. In our family fantasy football league, I drafted sixth (in an eight-team league) and therefore had to miss all the real marquee quarterbacks – Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Ben Roethlisberger, etc – and got “stuck” with somebody from the Atlanta Falcons named Matt Ryan.

mm-coach-logoAs you saw on Sunday, it was the best “stuck” which could have happened to me. In my little world, my team – the Flying Coyotes – finished with the league’s best regular season record and came within a point of making into the playoff title game.

In the real world, the 6-foot, 4-inch Boston College grad moved into the elite range with an epic performance in the NFL Conference final.

He threw for 392 yards and four touchdowns and no interceptions. His performance totally overshadowed that of Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers, who has recently been called “one of the three best quarterbacks in NFL history.” It’s a little early to expand the trio into quartet, but Ryan is red-hot and it remains to be seen if even Tom Brady and the New England Patriots can cool him off at the Super Bowl in two weeks.

On the other hand, Rodgers was the hottest QB in the league coming into the Georgia Dome before the Packers got smacked 44-21. On the other other hand, do you really want to bet against the guy who’s proved himself with not only the Falcons, but also the legendary Flying Coyotes? I should say not.

soccer-ballI’M A LITTLE LATE pointing this out, but one of the great prep rivalries around is not on the gridiron, but on the soccer pitch. Garden Grove and Santiago have a combined 27-1-3 record in boys’ soccer so far this season. They recently played to a 2-2 tie, and collided in a CIF championship game last season that had to be settled by penalty kicks. Through last week, the Argonauts were ranked first in CIF-SS Division 4 and the Cavaliers second in Division 2. The two teams will meet again on Tuesday, Jan. 30 at GGHS. Ought to be a kick to watch.

DON’T WANT to be one of those grumpy old guys who always preferred the way things used to be, but please, doesn’t anybody know how to play good, fundamental basketball? Watching UCLA melt down against Arizona on Saturday, and Lakers on almost any night makes one shake his head and sigh.

Heard a joke the other night about one football team has as much defense as “the fourth quarter of the NBA All-Star game.” How much that applies to the sport in general.

Certainly, today’s hoopsters are hugely talented and athletic, but much of that prowess is wasted on spectacular slams for the ESPN Sports Center audience. It’s fun to watch, but back on the hardwood, (most) players can’t shoot well, defend little and rebound like they’re in line to grab a broccoli sandwich.

COACH JOHN WOODEN (Wikipedia/UCLA photo).

COACH JOHN WOODEN (Wikipedia/UCLA photo).

UCLA was an historic power in part because of the great talent it attracted, but also because of the guidance of John Wooden. His teams played a taut zone defense that emphasized unity and cooperation. They blocked out on rebounds. They used the backboard to bank in shots. It was old school even back then, but it worked and worked and worked.

Michael Jordan’s acrobatics helped elevate pro basketball from a mere sport into a global entertainment. But his fame shone such a bright light on his spectacular swoops to the hoop that much of the rest of the game has been thrown into shadow.

The Golden State Warriors and San Antonio Spurs haven’t forgotten, and it’s worked for them. But much of the rest of the basketball nation would rather see smashed glass than classy play.

Monday Morning Coach is written by Pete Zarustica.









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