Kings

Soccer coach's abbrasive tactics reach a new low

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Soccer coach's abbrasive tactics reach a new low

From Comcast SportsNet Thursday, August 18, 2011
BARCELONA, Spain (AP) -- Grabbing an opposing coach by the face and placing a finger near his eye, making inappropriate gestures to rival players and attacking ballboys for time-wasting -- Jose Mourinho has taken his abrasive tactics to a new level. The Real Madrid coach's antics during a mass brawl near the end of the Spanish Supercup against Barcelona on Wednesday are threatening to taint his club's image and detract from the thrilling football two of the world's best teams are capable of producing. Mourinho strolled through a cluster of fighting players and brusquely flicked a finger near Barcelona assistant coach Tito Vilanova's eye. Vilanova, who had his back to Mourinho, turned and reciprocated with a push. Players left both benches to join the fight at Camp Nou, resulting in three players being sent off to overshadow what had been an attractive game of football decided by Messi's 87th-minute winner which gave Barcelona a record 10th Supercup and third straight. Referee David Fernandez Borbalan's failure to include details of Mourinho's incident in his match report means he and Vilanova are likely to escape punishment when the disciplinary committee meets next week. Madrid pair Marcelo and Mesut Oezil and Barcelona striker David Villa could also avoid a ban despite being sent off, since the Supercup is considered a one-off competition and sanctions don't necessarily carry over to other domestic competitions. El Pais newspaper described the match, which Barcelona won 3-2 for a 5-4 aggregate victory, as "Football from Another Planet." But while El Mundo Deportivo echoed those sentiments, the Barcelona-based sports newspaper then took a stab at the Madrid coach by saying "Mourinho dirties football further; (Madrid) don't know how to lose nor win." Barcelona's players labeled Madrid's football a "disgrace" while Gerard Pique said "Mourinho is destroying Spanish football." The question is what are Mourinho's tactics doing to Madrid's reputation at a time when it can't find a way to beat its biggest rival. "The images speak for themselves," Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola said. "There are certain things that shouldn't be done. This will all end badly if it doesn't stop." Former Barcelona president Joan Gaspart said on Catalan radio that football had given Mourinho a "double personality." "This is not his way of being, he's a normal person. I don't ever remember one coach attacking another. I hope this all ends with Mourinho apologizing to Vilanova," said Gaspart, who headed the club when Mourinho worked there as an assistant, although fans continue to refer to him as "the translator." "Madrid adores him, but the truth is this isn't the Mourinho I know." Mourinho was also seen making an inappropriate gestures toward Lionel Messi and Daniel Alves. He later made a derogatory remark about Vilanova in the postgame news conference and accused Barcelona's ballboys of time wasting, saying the tactic was something a "small-time" club like Barcelona did. "I am very happy for my team after what happened in the end. What happened is somebody provoked the situation, and it certainly wasn't a player from Real Madrid," the Portuguese coach said. But even former Madrid general director Jorge Valdano was distressed by the end of the match. "Without a doubt that was the worst way to end the Spanish Supercup," he said. The two teams played four matches in 18 days in April which were characterized by fights, diving and accusations of feigned injuries. That eventually led to Mourinho being banned for five matches for alleging referees and UEFA favored Barcelona. While at Chelsea, Mourinho was banned from the touchline for two matches in 2005 by UEFA after he accused Barcelona coach Frank Rijkaard of visiting Swedish referee Anders Frisk at halftime of a Champions League match. He was also fined 40,000 (then 53,000) and banned from sitting on the bench for three games after he made a handcuff gesture when two of his then-Inter Milan players were sent off during a Serie A match against Sampdoria in 2010. On Wednesday, Mourinho was undone by Messi's brilliance. The Argentine set up Andres Iniesta for the opener before scoring the other goals to become the competition's all-time leading scorer by two from former Madrid striker Raul Gonzalez. While the Spanish league season remains under threat of delay due to a strike, for Madrid the message was clear: any success this season will have to be at Barcelona's expense. "We have won a Supercup against Real Madrid during a very intense game during which they've put us under a lot of pressure," Guardiola said. "And we have learned a lot from these two games that we will use when we meet them again the future."

After tough start to season, Kings make organizational shift towards youth

After tough start to season, Kings make organizational shift towards youth

The time has come. After losing five straight and 10 of their last 12 games, the Sacramento Kings sit at the bottom of the Western Conference standings at 13-30. With playoffs well out of reach, the team is making an organizational decision to go young.

You could say that the Kings made this decision last February when they dealt DeMarcus Cousins to the New Orleans Pelicans. You could also point to draft day 2017 when the team traded down and turned the 10th overall selection into picks 15 and 20, giving the team three first round selections, an early second rounder and rookie Bogdan Bogdanovic coming from overseas.

Sacramento walked into the 2017-18 campaign with ten players on rookie scale deals, including nine first round selections with two years of NBA experience or less.

After a rocky first half, the team is going to a complete youth movement. The plan is for the veteran core of George Hill, Garrett Temple, Kosta Koufos, Vince Carter and Zach Randolph to rotate in and out of the lineup over the final 40 games of the season. 

Both management and the coaching staff is on the same page with the decision, NBC Sports California has confirmed. Two or three players will sit each night as they team explores what they have in youngsters.

"Going forward, what I'm going to do is, we're going to play a rotation where two of our five veterans are going to be out every night. It might be some times there'll be three. It's an opportunity for some other guys to get some minutes as we go throughout the course of the season. I've got it laid out...I've got about five or six games laid out, and every week I'll go out again because you want to communicate with those guys when they're not going to play. Other guys, they've got to be ready. If you're in the first three years of your contract, you can expect to play a little, or a lot, or none, but you should be ready to play," Joerger told the media after the Kings' loss to the Thunder on Monday night.

Developing young players was the top priority coming into the season. With the team struggling, the franchise's decision to speed up the transition from veterans to inexperienced players comes as no surprise.

Prized first round selection De’Aaron Fox has already 22 of 35 appearances for the Kings and is settling into the starting point guard position. Since returning from injury, the 20-year-old out of Kentucky is posting 14.3 points and 6.7 assists over 32.5 minutes per game.

Despite early season struggles with consistency, the fifth overall selection in the 2017 NBA Draft is improving. With the ideological shift in direction by the franchise, it is now Fox’s show, but he’s not the only one expected to produce.

Willie Cauley-Stein has taken a huge leap forward in his third season with the team as well. After struggles in his first two years in the league, Cauley-Stein is averaging career-highs in points (12.0), rebounds (6.5), assists (2.2), steals (.9), blocks (.8) and minutes played (26.2).

With his confidence at an all-time high, Cauley-Stein is going to be asked to do even more with a reduction of minutes by Zach Randolph. The lanky 7-footer will have an opportunity to prove he is a go-to weapon in the final 40 games of the season.

The Kings have a pair of wings that appear ready to excel in Bogdanovic and Buddy Hield.

Bogdanovic has made tremendous strides through his first few months in the league and he’s clearly ready for a bigger role. The presence of Hill and Temple has forced Bogdanovic to play out of position at the small forward position.

The 25-year-old Serbian has already seen a surge in minutes and production during the month of January. Bogdanovic has scored in double-figures all six games this month and he’s averaging 15.3 points on 55 percent shooting from field and 50 percent from long range. He has a maturity to his game after spending years playing professionally in Europe and Joerger has relied heavily on him throughout the early season.

Hield has improved in year two, especially on the defensive end. He came out of Oklahoma as a pure scorer and hasn’t disappointed. The 6-foot-5 shooting guard is shooting over 44 percent from 3-point range this season and showing a good feel for the game as a volume scorer off the bench.

The front office and coaching staff have an outline of what Fox, Cauley-Stein, Bogdanovic and Hield project as players, but there are plenty of other youngsters on the roster that the club needs more time to assess.

Skal Labissiere has fought his way out of a rough patch and is showing signs of improvement. His rebounding numbers have steadily jumped up and he’s figuring out how to defend stretch fours on the perimeter.

Before his injury, Frank Mason III was making strides as the team’s backup point guard. The second round pick is solid, but struggled with his shot before going down with a plantar fascia injury. He’ll be back in early February and should slide right back into the rotation.

Justin Jackson and Malachi Richardson have taken turns bouncing between the Kings and  the Reno Bighorns. Jackson has a maturity about him on the floor, but he’s been inconsistent with his shot and needs to get stronger.

After earning his way into the rotation last season, Richardson has struggled when given the opportunity this year. He’s worked tirelessly on his body and he’s a great practice 3-point shooter. He’s learning to play the 2, 3 and even some stretch four this season, which shows versatility, but he passes up too many open looks.

Lastly, the Kings have a complete unknown in 7-foot-2 center Georgios Papagiannis. Like Richardson, the giant out of Greece has worked hard to reinvent his body. He’s clearly quicker and more agile than he was in his rookie season, but at 20-years-old, he’s still considered a project.

It might be 10-15 games earlier than expected, but at some point this season, the Kings were going to throw their young players to the wolves and see how they fair. Sitting out games is a tough pill to swallow for veterans, but with just 13 wins through the first three months of the season, the writing has been on the wall for a while.

What the Giants’ farm system lost in trade for Andrew McCutchen

What the Giants’ farm system lost in trade for Andrew McCutchen

San Francisco’s second splash of its offseason reloading plan came to life Monday with the acquisition of outfielder Andrew McCutchen in a trade with the Pirates.

In trading for the five-time All-Star, the Giants held on to top prospects Heliot Ramos, Chris Shaw and Tyler Beede. The win-now move bolstered the Giants’ outfield — one that needed the most help in all of baseball — while the Pirates again have a potential big piece in their outfield with Bryan Reynolds headed to Pittsburgh. 

While the farm system took a win in keeping its biggest names, let’s look at what the Giants’ future lost with the addition of McCutchen. 

Bryan Reynolds, 22, OF
The Giants clearly have their own prospect rankings. Baseball America (5) and MLB Pipeline (4) ranked Reynolds ahead of Steven Duggar, who is the Giants’ No. 8 prospect by Baseball America and No. 6 by MLB Pipeline, after the 2017 season. Duggar is expected to compete for the Giants’ starting job in center field unless they make another big move like signing Lorenzo Cain. 

There’s a reason Reynolds is ranked so high though. The Giants’ top pick in the 2016 MLB Draft, is a switch-hitter who is primarily a center fielder, but like Duggar, he played all three outfield positions in 2017. 

"I think it's too early to dictate if he'll be in a corner or center," Nestor Rojas, Reynolds’ manager for the San Jose Giants, said to me in July. "He's really good and he has the tools to play center field. He's got speed and he's got range. He can do really well in all three." 

Reynolds slashed .312/.364/.462 with 10 home runs at Advanced Single-A this past season. He was the Giants' lone representative at the Futures Game and named San Jose Giants MVP. Even if he never unlocks his power, Reynolds is expected to be a solid big leaguer one day with well-rounded overall tools. 

[READ: How Reynolds went from undrafted to Giants' top 2016 pick]

Kyle Crick, 25, RHP
Crick was expected to be a future ace when the Giants took him No. 49 overall as a high school pitcher back in 2011. Control issues hampered him mightily. 

Down in the minors, Crick flashed dominance on the hill at times with a fastball that reaches the upper 90s. Still, command won the battle and the Giants turned Crick into a reliever. The move may have saved his career. 

As the Sacramento River Cats’ closer in Triple-A last season, Crick recorded six saves with a 2.76 ERA and 39 strikeouts in 29.1 innings pitched. Crick earned his call-up to San Francisco and was solid for the Giants. He put together a 3.06 ERA in 30 games out of the bullpen, giving a glimpse of what he can be in the future. 

Crick has always been full of potential. Now as a reliever, he’s starting to turn it into results at the highest level. The Pirates may have a future shut-down arm in the ‘pen, but in the Giants’ reload, there are plenty of in-house options that can do the job he was expected to do in 2018.