Friday, March 31, 2006

Learning From Duke

I have no desire to further editorialize on the horrid problems at Duke. I do think it has some lessons for those at yogwf and who are constantly bleating at Tulane to finesse standards for athletes.

Calling for Tulane to lower standards for athletes- a kind of code for allowing people with an arrest or two, people who need academic massaging to qualify, or jucos (an exciting brand of athelete category that features both academic or criminal problems)- then you have an obligation to further explain how this gets policed.

On paper for example, Tulane baseball and Duke lacrosse are sort of analogous: powerhouse second tier college sports, popular on a regional basis, with a little television juice come tournament time. But Duke plays in a power league and has made an institutional decision to bend those conduct & academic rules substantially concerning athletes. Something like a quarter of the lacrosse players have an arrest record?

Accordingly, Duke has an outstanding basketball program and a money-making BCS football team and probably a bunch of racist rapists populating their lacrosse team. I am not sure that is the greatest trade going. If you know northeast prep and college sports, the athlete entitlement mentality for these lacrosse athletes coming from these Long Island style prep schools is unreal. You like the excesses of the NBA’s hip-hop culture? Then you’ll love the entitlement expectations of college lacrosse players from Wellesley.

And that is why when I read all these cryptograms on yogwf and the nola forums- get some help, some jucos in here, etc.- I get nervous. Candidly, no one ever talks about what exact percentage of felony arrests versus misdeamenor arrests versus semi-non-qualifiers is optimal.

For a place like LSU, it doesn’t really matter. No one seriously thinks LSU is running a real college in its revenue sports departments. I have no proof- but undoubtedly a quarter of current Tiger football players are familiar with the interior of squad cars. (20,400 hits!) And yes, the institution is comfortable with that. It doesn’t pretend to be otherwise.

But Tulane does. And I bet folks are seething to tell me Tulane can control it. I wager Duke thought they could too. And LaSalle last year. And Minnesota and Michigan State- two universities that aspire to schooling and big-time athletics- a few years ago. And Boston College with the gambling. And Bowden with Converse.

Yet, one day you wake up and realize 25% of your student athletes have been arrested in the past few years. Or have an outstanding, top-notch bookie operation. And that is just the ones you know about- not the ones who get a pass because they are who they are. And your university president has to have a press conference explaining why a broomstick is not a common sex toy on your campus.

Honestly, the only appropriate response to this sort of disaster at Duke is an immediate review of all athletic programs- at least at the level of Tulane's review for financial relevance, right? But while "appropriate", it is also near impossible. Duke can't stop this sports thing easily anymore.

Despite my Prince of Darkness reputation, I don’t think Tulane is that far from some sort of success level that is okay for a school that is small, hamstrung financially and doesn’t aspire to having Duke’s student-athlete on its campus. For example,

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Back From Bristol

Maybe it was the freezing cold or maybe it was the intermitant snow, but this year’s crash-and-bang show at the Bristol Motor Speedway seemed to carry a lot more rancor than usual. As I sat in the post-race traffic, I could see the temptation to cease with the endless patience required to navigate Volunteer Parkway, as 160,000 people try to get on I-81 (all seemingly north), by smacking a few cars around. But that, that would be wrong. Miss Food City would be angered.

Nevertheless, I don’t get the fuss myself. I find myself sort of agreeing with Marty Smith. "Moving guys" at places like Atlanta is dumb and scary. But bump and run is what you do at Bristol. You can’t pass anyone- it is a one groove racetrack- so you got to move them out of the way. Kurt Busch put a perfect slide on Matt Kenseth for the win. And Jeff Gordon has moved a lot of people in his time in Nextel Cup- so he can't complain too much about ending up in the wall on the last lap.

The bump and run is one of those odd things in sports- where the rule on paper doesn’t mean all that much, but the potential for participant retaliation keeps folks in line. Whether it is pitching inside in baseball, carrying your stick carelessly in hockey or using a stock car to move another stock car out of the way- the formal rules seem to have to less to do with the resulting etiquette than the fear of informal “outside-the-rules” retaliation does. Everyone knows the code for pitching inside. Hit a guy once- no problem; it happens. Make a habit of it… and its your teammates that pay the price.

Ultimately, NASCAR is sort of faced with the same happy dilemma- which is why Jeff Gordon is only faced with a modest fine for punching the man who spun him trying to smack and pass on the last lap. Wink & nod: best let them sort it out themselves. These drivers have to face each other week after week, in positions where they’ll be vulnerable to a firm tap. They know where you can bump aggressively (Martinsville, Bristol) and where you can’t. Outside of real craziness and token displeasure, let them police themselves. Each and every driver has the ability to wreak havoc on another competitor any Sunday- and the history of the sport has shown they aren’t shy to use that power on those the community finds irredeemably stupid.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

For once, someone agrees with me....

Last month, I wrote I thought the Eagles, despite Brian Westbrook, really had to take a long look at taking a running back with their first pick. My brother ripped me for this- and from my e-mail, I know some of you think I'm wrong. But this Fox guy just came out with this prediction- and forecasts the Eagles selecting LenDale White at fourteen.

I am probably the only person in Philadelphia that is not enamored with Westbrook. He does many good things- and can torment defenses. But he also forces you- because he realistically can't handle 20+ touches week after week- to have a quality second back who can expect to play a lot- which the Eagles catagorically do not have.

The Eagles' second back is an important player- and they probably have to commit more talent to that spot than a lot of teams need to. They need to get it cheap- because the guy isn't going to play as much as his talent would indicate. And the only place you can get talent and not pay market-value for it is early in the draft.

Ergo, with the first pick the Eagles select LenDale White. I absolutely think it would be the right move to take him- if he is there.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Eight by '08!

Five in '06! Bradley, George Mason, Gonzaga, Memphis (C-USA #1 seed!) and Wichita State! Mid-majors advancing and winning- despite shoddy seedings and a lot of home court advantages for the big schools. The BCS cannot be happy. They better get cracking- and start policing up 99.5% of the monies- rather than the 98% they currently suckle.

Eight by 2008!

John Smallwood knows!

Now, I am closing the Blog- as I am off to the Bristol Motor Speedway for the Food City 500 this weekend. I'll be back Tuesday or so.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Four Points

The Flyers played two good, rather intelligent and determined, games the past two nights- and emerged with four points against division rivals who can play. That is four wins in five games- vaulting them back into a tie in points for first place in their division.

Neither win- over New Jersey at home or the Rangers in New York- was shocking. But the Flyers struggled for a good portion of 2006, so it is heartening to see that they seem to be righting themselves in time for the play-offs and, more importantly, getting a potential division title that means definitely avoiding being tormented by Buffalo for two weeks in the conference quarterfinals.

The Flyers should beat New Jersey in their own building. Yes, the Flyers are slow and oh-so-languid defensively. But more than any other decent team in the East, the Devils lack the team speed and offensive grace to torture the Flyers in their own end. The teams almost seem to like to play each other- both have a good portion of the roster devoted to the old NHL-style players who seem to relish one more chance to slug it out along the dashers. Both teams managed a bare twenty or so shots, few scoring opportunites. Both referees- Martell and Watson- seemed overjoyed to be able to call penalties other than vague “obstruction” offenses. Martell almost chirped “Boarding” pointing at a luckless Carter. Other guys went off for holding! And high sticking! Good clean decent fouls- the kind of unlazy penalties you absolutely do not have to apologize to the coach for.

The Flyers then whipped the Rangers 6-3 in New York. I was not as comforted by this win as one might think. The Rangers took a real bad major penalty in the first period. New York had just gone ahead 2-1; Jagr had immediately answered a Flyers’ goal that had brought even. This five minute power play gave the Flyers to score two quick ones before the first period ended- and they played from in front the rest of the way.

So, okay.... the Flyers proved that they can go on the road, overcome a hat trick by Jagr, and beat the Rangers- if they can score not only six goals but also three on the power-play, the Rangers do some stupid things and Lundqvist is terrible. Well, I can’t see a series with the Rangers where the Flyers score lots of goals- let alone on special teams- and Lundqvist is as bad as he was last night. Conversely, watching Desjardins (he’s what passes for a match-up defenseman on crafty talent these days in Philadelphia) get humiliated by Jagr last night, I don’t know how the Flyers keep that guy from a big series.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Devils! Ranger! Who cares?

We are going to have a short week on the blog this week- as Friday I depart New York to head down to Bristol for the Food City 500. Miss Food City is ready! Are you?

Now, the Philadelphia Flyers kick off their stretch drive to the play-offs with a pair of games that ought to get the juices flowing: home tonight with the New Jersey Devils, then a quick turnaround up the turnpike to visit those New York Rangers.

As I say- ought to get the juices flowing. Because I just don’t seem to care.

I used to complain last year that the Phllies were a boring team to follow because they simply did not defy analysis. They were exactly what they were. There was no sense or hope of dramatic improvement. Conversely, there was no feeling of dread or effortless collapse. They just kinda went out there- day after day- hanging close enough to the Astros that the fan had to check the box scores- but never close enough that I thought the Phillies seriously were getting in. They finished one game back- but all the same- it felt like five.

The Flyers feel the same way. No matter what happens this weekend- Philadelphia just doesn’t seem as good, recent New York slump aside, as the Rangers. The Flyers are certainly going to make the play-offs, almost certainly going to play Buffalo when they get there, and then just as certainly will get dismissed in six orderly games. They aren’t terrible- Philly is actually pretty good- but there is no greatness in them- and each day the calendar changes brings less hope the Flyers will find their way a couple rounds into the play-offs.

Veteran teams- like the Flyers, and the Phillies last year- sometimes at this point of the season- simply have a good sense of themselves. They have too much pride and too much future income at stake to tank it. But at the same level they know- looking at the slow, aging, injury-ridden defense corps and the gradually more okay goaltending for instance- that they cannot hang for two weeks with the better clubs. And a certain ennui can fall over even the Devils and Rangers.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Pipe Down Big East

Boy, I don’t know who had tougher day yesterday, the whinging second tier of Big East teams or this guy. (No, not Coach B- click the link.)

If you are a Big East partisan- you can certainly strongly argue that a .500 or so league team ought to go ahead of the mid-major Air Forces or Creightons or Bradleys of the world. But you also have to understand how simply delicious it is to watch your pretty mediocre mid-level conference teams take the 0-for-3 collar. That shutout is a pretty compelling- if not outright convincing- statement that maybe the proto-typical 8-8, 9-7 Big East team isn't all the Boston Globe, Philadelphia Daily News and Washington Post overwhelming promises.

Seriously, there is no way Seton Hall belonged in this tournament- no way. They are not one of the best 35 teams in the country. And the Witchita State team I watched yesterday, in the Big East, would have protected its home court more often than not and won games

So pipe down- and pray that Pitt can stagger past Kent without requiring overtime- or Georgetown doesn’t spit the bit against Northern Iowa.

Special Note: As of 1:12 PM today, C-USA is still undefeated.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Get To Work America!

Like everyone in America, I love the NCAA Tournament. It distracts me from my issues. Currently, I have a small problems with “mouses”. (I prefer “mouses” as opposed to mice.) I sometimes wonder how it is that I have been reduced to this. I have a good education, a job that requires lots of thought & consideration. People solicit my opinion. Yet the focus- the climax if you will- of my daily existence right now is how I’m doing in this pitched battle I am fighting with the stupid mice that live behind my stupid oven that I cannot move because of the stupid gas line.

I’m like the Pol Pot of Mouseland. I dispense no justice, only death on a sort of whimsical, arbitrary basis. Do I set the trap by the refrigerator or the glass pasta bowl? To me it doesn’t matter- but to the mouses.....

My neighbors have pets- and they leave pet food out all day. They are two typically New York gay men- always out, owning the sort of pointless yappy dog that must be penned lest she chew up everything in the house. I’m sure that is what attracts the mouses- the never ending free meal, eaten while staring at the actual pet, that is caged up all day. Every so often, the dog spazzes- and I’m sure it is because she can see mice eating her food- and she can’t get at them.

This year, I am pulling for Bucknell. I love the Bison because they have stolen the Buffalo Bills logo- which candidly, isn’t really even a good one:

Like a high school team! You know… every high school conference in the country has a "Patriots"- or in my case a "Colonials"- that rips off an NFL logo.

Anyway, the guys at the Wheelhouse do a better job than I ever will be providing in-game commentary- so check out “the comments’ section” there.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

I Am Available To Coach Temple

Gosh- John Chaney...

Look, he’s deservedly a no doubt about it, first ballot, pass go right now, Hall of Fame basketball coach. Chaney took over a program that was the weakest of the Big Five, played in a so-so league, featured a bland 4000 seat arena (yo!- listen up- Tulane fans), recruited to a horrid campus (until lately- Temple’s really spruced itself up physically)- and yet won a bunch of games.

Be honest- would you ever want to play your ball at a place like Temple? No one does- but he managed to convince enough 18 year old public high school kids, or rather their mothers, from Philly every year to forego the glamour programs, stay home, go to school, and wake up at 5AM to practice. He sold “I’ll keep your kid out of trouble” to a lot of parents- and largely delivered.

The Temple Owls won gritty and literally played everyone. To be fair, Saturday November basketball in this country on ESPN ought to be retitled “Temple’s game of the week”. His kids were citizens (did any ever get in off-court trouble?)- and he personally did every charity event in Philadelphia he could get his hands on. Oh, and he coached his first game Division I game at 50- so he got a late start toward that multiple of records and wins and five Elite Eights.

And, agree or disagree with him, he was the most articulate public defender of the anti-Prop 48 movement. He took a pounding- but pointed out he took Prop 48 kids all the time and graduated them. And if Temple could do it- shame on the LSU’s and Cincinnati’s who couldn’t or didn't care too. He had little use for the Dale Brown's as people of the world- but a lot for the Speedy Morris'- and that is to his credit. Race and sports are touchy subjects in America- and Chaney made intelligent, rational and fair contributions again and again: on players, on coaching, on this particular issue of “who is ‘smart’ enough to go to college?” And eventually, he largely won- there are no more Prop 48s- and mortified a lot of programs and the NCAA into real reforms. Clearly the system now is better than the one that existed- and Chaney led that. Sometimes the best proof of something being stupid is to demonstrate it- and Chaney crushed his opponents here by taking Philly kids who couldn't make a test score and turning them into legit Temple grads.

But, you know, he had the temper and a tremendous sense of self-righteousness- which coupled with, shall we say, a certain latitude the Temple administration gave him- led to trouble. Just like Bobby Knight. The “Goongate” incident is the most serious of these- the rest are pretty inconsequential really. But ordering one of your kids to hurt another is disgusting- and Chaney is no longer hugely popular in Philly. Certainly among the St. Joe's contingent. After floundering for a bit, ultimately Temple came up with the right solution: some immediate suspensions- and a probable understanding he would leave "on his own accord" after the next season. But Chaney will always be the great coach who had a baaad fink moment. If I had a vote, and we were voting today, I would still vote for him to the Hall- but you could justifiably use that incident to keep him out.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

El Stinko

I never thought I’d say this, but given a choice between the Sixers and the Flyers, and forced to pick the team more likely to win a play-off series this spring, I would have to go with the Sixers.

Gosh, wasn’t that an absolutely cringing loss to Buffalo last night? Even the Capitals don’t let teams go for six in their building, blowing multiple leads.

The Flyers are a mess in their own end. How is this for a bold statement? Right now, they have one defensemen who is probably a plus in a series with a skating team like Buffalo or the Rangers: Pitkanen. Joni Pitkanen. Heaven help the faithful.

Hatcher and Rathje don’t bring much to a game that isn’t a physical battle down low. Heck, Rathje can’t even move right now. He’s still tough on the puck- but he simply can’t get to it. As I wrote last week, signing these two guys was a gamble- Clarke's bet that, come play-off time, the NHL would revert to the “old” clutch-and-grab, present your x-rays style of play. Hitchcock better hope so- because Hatcher and Rathje are a problem playing regularly against a club like Ottawa. I honestly think the only first round draw that the Flyers could win today is the New Jersey Devils- a team trapped in the same slug it out mode.

Johnnson and Pitkanen help- but Johnnson cannot get on the ice and Pitkanen is merely a nice player who can move the puck some- not a guy you can hang your defensive effort on thirty minutes a night. Ultimately, it is hard to imagine any Flyers’ success this season without both Johnnson ceasing to have magic visions and Pitkanen having the best four-six weeks of his life.

Therein is a non-factor, hurt and slow. Desjardins is now just an okay player- probably asked to do too much. Freddie Meyer probably would be okay on the third pairing- if the first two pairs were healthy. And Randy Jones would be a fine addition to the Phantoms or filling out any "healthy scratch" list.

Mix this in with really turgid special teams play (seriously, watch the Flyers kill penalties when the team throws it behind their net, they never get to it first) and pedestrian goaltending- and you have a team that really isn’t much better than .500.

Friday, March 10, 2006

El Hadj Umar Tall

On today's date in 1861, El Hadj Umar Tall captured the city of Segou. Sadly, this morning fans of Tulane know how the Bambara Empire felt- like we were out of our league.

Yesterday, I knew nothing really about Marshall. But I had seen Memphis a few times on tv- so I was a little bemused by any talk that if Tulane did this or tried that, they could hang in this. No way. We aren't in the Tigers orbit. Not even close.

To me, all of these trials and travails simply add to the luster of what Perry Clark achieved here. Doesn't the picture I've selected make the blog seem arty and smart? Now, Clarke never had a team as good as this Memphis one. But he had multiple teams, pretty consistently, that could play with that group.

I wonder how all those people feel now- the ones that rejoiced at his departure? Mind you, I am agreeable to the idea that Clarke's time had run its course here. And that some later teams underachieved (but some early ones overachieved). And that he wanted to escape as badly as Tulane wanted to push him out the door.

But I was never sold Coach Clarke's departure was a good thing for Tulane basketball; I always thought it was more like a divorce: no winners, only losers on both sides. Do not denigrate what that guy achieved- the body of work was very solid. And as the Wave struggles to approach even relevance again & again, Clarke looks better and better.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Flyers get....

... Denis Gauthier from Phoenix for a minor leaguer and two second round picks.

Instant analysis:

1. Well, despite their languid and disheartening play lately against just about any team above decent, the Flyers are probably going to the play-offs with a serious chance to advance- so you can't probably go wrong adding a guy who'll play to your roster for guys who won't/don't exist.

2. He's a banger- a proto-typical Eastern defensemen. Clarke is making a real gamble that the play-offs are going to revert back a good way to "old hockey": clutch & grab. The GM has to add some real NHL depth- since Kim Johnsson can't shake his concussion. By electing to not add Johnsson-style defensemen, Clarke is making a statement on the nature of play-off hockey in the East. Rathje and Hatcher are the first two chips in that bet- this is another. He might be right- if you saw the Flyers-Devils 1-1 regulation tie last week- you realize that these teams are itching to slug it out like men.

3. In a capped league, you hate to give up picks, particularly two, for a rental. However, in a capped league, you don't want to have to take bad contracts in return for renting talent. Gauthier is a free agent at the year's end- so the Flyers are not yoked to him if this doesn't work out- but paid for that option with options on the future.

In conclusion, a seemingly fair trade in that both teams get what they want today.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

We Seem To Play The Herd A Lot

For a lot of college basketball programs, conference tournament time is a period of excitement and hope. It is a chance to validate in-season success- or fix your season with three-four days of good play.

But at Tulane, basketball tournaments never bring real joy. They're like negotiating with Iran; it is almost certainly going to end badly no matter what, yet the rules insist you gotta show up. One more chance to grind away toward a result other than a bad one.

Tulane can’t win this tournament. Even if the guys win a game, it merely gains them the right to get absolutely smoked by a fresh Memphis squad, in front of a cheery mob in Memphis, tomorrow. And anything short of total victory brings the Wave no closer to even an NIT bid. So it is a slog- and to complete the proof- today’s first round match-up features a thoroughly anonymous Marshall (seeded ninth) sporting a -1.5 over the Green Wave (eighth).

Tulane bombed the Herd by like a thousand earlier this year (look at the mug on Ron Jirsa)- but regardless, this line is not really an outrage. Obviously the "smart guys" who compute these things are not convinced the recent nice stretch of play by the Wave have fundamentally altered the nature of Tulane basketball: diffident talent incapable of consistently generating an A-effort away from Fogelman Arena.

I know zero about Marshall- but I must admit I sort of lean toward taking the Wave here. These are both kinda bad mid-major teams (think LaSalle 1995-2005)- but you get two pluses on the Tulane side. The Wave has played to their capabilites lately- and ought to again. They're probably a little better now than their overall record indicates. And they did handle this Marshall team pretty handily- so you know they can defend them.

So, to me- you get a Tulane team that ought to give their best effort, playing a team they can probably hold under sixty points? I'm okay with that. I'll take those points- and plan to watch Tulane tomorrow.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Shaun King Makes Our Day

The Tulane Green Wave wrapped up its regular season with a not-as-close-as-it-looks loss at Tulsa. Tulsa is not great shakes by any stretch- but they let the Wave have it, running ahead by 21 points with eight or so minutes to play, marooning Quincy Davis on the bench in foul trouble. Tulane did rally back- but never had the ball with a chance to win.

You can’t call it a disappointing loss- as Tulane categorically is not good enough to throw its jock out there and beat anyone on the road. But it was a shame to see them leave their best effort in New Orleans in this spot. They had a chance to get to .500 in League play. They have to play Marshall in the tournament- a game they could lose- rather then one against the horrendous bottom feeders C-USA puts out there.

But going into the season, I think I would have called a .500 mark in C-USA(okay, they’re close), a winnable first round game, followed by a second round game against any team other than Memphis pretty darn okay after the wreckage Finney and Katrina left here. It is a shame they had all those road games prior to Christmas; they might have gotten to .500 for real.

In better news, Shaun King is back in the NFL with the Detriot Lions. Now I realize I might be a little jaded, having watched “quarterbacks” Mike McMahon and Koy Detmer for half-a-season- but I could never figure out why King couldn’t get a job in Our League.

By no means should he be “the guy” anywhere. But Shaun King has singularly proved that he can step in, rally a team, and win a few games- even a play-off game, ask the Redskins about that. In 2000, he threw for almost 3000 yards, eighteen scores, only thirteen picks- and I could never figure out what was so bad about that for a third year pro?

Clearly, a lot of his great college game doesn’t translate to the pros. At Tulane, King was first and foremost a lethal perimeter player operating Tommy Bowden’s spread offense with utter ruthless efficiency. Of course, a pro quarterback isn’t getting many designed roll outs, let alone straight runs outside. King takes a lot of sacks- and he will fumble.

But he’s a pretty accurate passer with decent arm strength- for one thing, he's on the plus side career TDs/interceptions. He’s always healthy, always ready. He was an outstanding back-up in 1999- coming off the bench to go 5-1. He wasn’t that bad in Arizona a few years later- yes, four picks in three games (two starts)- but come-on, its Arizona!

He’s a guy with 700+ career throws and a winning record off the bench. The Lions were right to give him a chance.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

The Sixers Won't Stay Kinda Bad!

Every time you want to throw dirt on the Sixers, the team packages together a few good games Iverson, coupled with their usual good effort, to sort of stay afloat and be relevant. True- until Philadelphia figures out how to play some defense and rebound a little, they are still a .500 team. But they have come roaring out of the break. Since mid-February, good wins abound: San Antonio (!!!), Cleveland, Milwaukee, Chicago- and last night in Houston. The only losses were in Dallas and the second night of a back-to-back in Chicago. They’ve been pretty good lately- no way around it.

The East is an odd conference. Outside of Detroit and Miami, everyone else is playing for third or fourth- a chance to win a first round play-off series and win a game or two against the Heat or Pistons. You know, feel good about themselves- talk about how they “exceeded expectations”.

As a result of their recent play, the Sixers are back in that secondary mix. They have poked their heads over break-even. They probably are going to make the play-offs at the very least. And they are only two games behind the Nets for the division- and solidly in the mix to finish anywhere from third to, well, ninth- behind the big two. So they have a chance to exceed expectations- unless you thought pre-season the Sixers culd win a division title and play-off round.

The game last night in Houston is a good example of why the Sixers, despite having glaring defensive, bench and size issues, have as good a chance as anyone to get a home court advantage round and win a first round series. Houston probably is good enough to protect its court most nights against decent eastern representatives. The Rockets were cruising along, with a ten-point lead in the second half, against a team that cannot normally force enough stops to forge late comebacks.

But the Sixers offer AI and effort most nights- and that normally is enough a handful of times a year to produce minor upsets of games I turn off after three quarters. They got another one last night- and still seem on target to get the 44 wins I thought they should get.