Talkin' Ball - Taking your questions!

Talkin' Ball - Taking your questions!

We're on LIVE now with the Talkin' Ball crew over on Comcast SportsNet. Got questions? NBA? Ducks? Beavers? NFL? Post them in the comments!

Oregon's continuing QB competition could be good or bad for the Ducks

Oregon's continuing QB competition could be good or bad for the Ducks

If we are to believe Oregon coach Mark Helfrich, and there's evidence to go either way on that, the Ducks' quarterback competition remains wide open between senior transfer Dakota Prukop, redshirt freshman Travis Jonsen and true freshmann Terry Wilson.

To be fair, there's zero reason for Helfrich to tip his hand either way at this point. It's not as if a Marcus Mariota or Darron Thomas is returning as an unchallenged starter. 

Sources say that it's anywhere from a 75 percent to a 90 percent chance Prukop opens the season as the starter Sept. 3 against U.C. Davis at Autzen Stadium. 

Helfrich's words at Pac-12 Media Days, however, indicate otherwise.   

"I think it's a three-man race coming out of spring," Helfrich said. "And I think all three of those guys will be drastically different when they show up in the fall."

Helfrich said he expects a summer of throwing with receivers and further absorbing the playbook to result in a dramatic leap in consistency for all three quarterback contenders. But is there really a true competiton in play, or is that understandable coach-speak? Probably a bit of both. Let's look at the pros and cons involved in the possible scenarios surrounding this position heading into fall camp, which begins Aug. 8:

1. Dakota Prukop is the unchallenged starter. 

Pro: If Prukup demonstrated during spring that he can deliver a Pac-12 title then internally naming him the unchallenged starter is all good, even if the formal public statements are to the contrary. 

It is unlikely, however, that Prukop made such an impression during the spring. At least, no such word has leaked out that Prukop lit it up during closed practices, and he certainly didn't put forth a dominant effort during the spring game.

We've heard positives about his progress, but he has not yet seized the job like Vernon Adams Jr. did within a few days of showing up to fall camp last year. Then again, Adams faced less competitoin. 

Con: If Prukop becomes the guy by default, Oregon would have a problem. The last thing the Ducks want to see is Jonsen and Wilson not demonstrate at least the ability to produce as a starter. In this scenario, Prukop being the unchallenged starter because nobody is capable of challenging him and not because he is playing great football would certainly lead to trouble on the field with no Plan B in place. 

2. Jonsen truly pushes Prukop. 

Pro: The positve here would be that the Ducks could see the end to recruiting Big Sky quarterbacks to rescue the program. If Prokop appears to be a strong candidate to start but is facing a tough battle from the former No. 3-rated dual-threat quarterback in the nation, the Ducks are in business behind center for years to come. 

Plus, Oregon would know that if Prukop went down the team wouldn't skip a beat with Jonsen in the lineup. A Pac-12 title would be within reach. 

Con: If Jonsen is pushing Prukop because the latter is proving to be less than expected, the Ducks are headed toward a 7-5 record.

Should Jonsen win the job it must be because he is amazing in the same way Marcus Mariota took the job as a redshirt freshman away from redshirt sophomore Bryan Bennett prior to the 2012 season. Bennett, who ended up in an NFL camp after transferring and starting at Southeastern Louisiana, certainly had the goods to be a successful starter at Oregon. He simply lost out to a future Heisman Trophy winner. If Prukop loses out to a struggling redshirt freshman simply because he doesn't offer more than Jonsen does, the Ducks are in trouble. Remember, Oregon went after Prukop because the coaching staff wasn't confident Jonsen, who missed most of the available practice reps during his redshirt season because of a toe injury, would be ready to carry the load this season. If neither is capable, the Las Vegas Bowl awaits. 

3. Wilson truly has a shot to become the starter.  

Pro: He would have to be phenomenal. As in, the next Robert Griffin III (check the dreads). This scenario would require a special player to have arrived for spring as a three-star recruit and steal the job away from Prukop and Jonsen. For that to happen, the coaching staff would have to believe that Wilson is a future Heisman candidate that must get on the field right now. 

Con: If the above isn't the case, then that means Jonsen and Prukop lost out to a promising freshman who clearly is too inexperienced to win it. This would likely mean Prukop is a disgruntled backup second-guessing his decision to transfer to Oregon while Jonsen would be plotting a transfer in the winter while the coaching staff begins searching for another transfer. 

All bad. 

---

The best-cased scenario for Oregon is as follows: Prukop wins the job over a very competent Jonsen whom coaches believe the Ducks could win with if needed.  Jonsen receives meaningful time in blowout victories, and maybe a spot start due to injury (never ideal to have the starter go down but at least it would mean more game time for Jonsen). Jonsen continues to grow as a player and enters next season as an impact first-year starter with Wilson, who redshirts this season, as the backup. 

If the quarterback competition plays out in this fashion the Ducks will have a strong chance to prove doubters wrong by claiming the Pac-12 North Division and maybe the conference championship.

If not, the Ducks will fall short of achieving a 10-win season for the second consecutive year. 

CJ McCollum, Blazers react to extension news

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CJ McCollum, Blazers react to extension news

The Trail Blazers locked up their backcourt for the next five years Monday with CJ McCollum reportedly set to sign a four-year, $106 million extension. 

And it didn't take long for McCollum and his teammates to weigh in following the news.

 

Nat Borchers to undergo surgery for Achilles tendon injury

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Nat Borchers to undergo surgery for Achilles tendon injury

The Portland Timbers announced today that defender Nat Borchers will undergo surgery to repair a ruptured left Achilles tendon. The procedure will be scheduled following further evaluation. 

Borchers, who sustained the injury late in the first half of Saturday’s game against the LA Galaxy at Providence Park, will miss the remainder of the 2016 season. Borchers will conduct rehabilitation at the Providence Sports Care Center at Providence Park and with Timbers medical personnel.

Trail Blazers sign Tim Quarterman to partially-guaranteed training camp contract

Trail Blazers sign Tim Quarterman to partially-guaranteed training camp contract

The Portland Trail Blazers have signed free agent guard Tim Quarterman to a partially-guaranteed training camp contract, it was announced today by president of basketball operations Neil Olshey.

Undrafted out of LSU, Quarterman (6-6, 187) posted averages of 11.2 points (41.5% FG, 34.3% 3PT, 63.2% FT), 4.6 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 0.97 steals in 33 games (27 starts) his junior 2015-16 season.

Quarterman, 21, played three seasons for the Tigers, averaging 8.4 points (39.7% FG, 31.0% 3PT, 66.0% FT), 3.9 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1.04 steals in 98 games (43 starts).

 

Why the Tennessee Titans suck

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Why the Tennessee Titans suck

Every year, Deadspin publishes the vulgar and deadly honest "Why Your Team Sucks" feature series.  

The Tennessee Titans went 3-13 in quarterback Marcus Mariota's rookie season, and oh man, did Deadspin have something to say about the lackluster season. 

Caution, Duck fans, the following excerpts from Why Your Team Sucks 2016: Tennessee Titans, may upset you about the 2014 Heisman Trophy winner. 

Your 2015 record: 3-13. Ugh. Just an awful year, especially the part where they busted out the Color Rush uniforms. The Titans were such a mess that they shitcanned Ken Whisenhunt at midseason and had to play out the string with Mike Mularkey as interim head coach. Imagine how bad your season is going that you’re compelled to inflate the Mularkey lifeboat. 

Your quarterback: Marcus Mariota, seen here discovering the consequences of being too polite to say anything bossy to the equipment manager:

Remember when Marcus went head-to-head with Jameis Winston in Week 1 and blew him out, and everyone was happy because the alleged rapist wasn’t going to be the better rookie QB? Oops. Turns out that game will probably be the apex of Hula Boy’s career.

You Titans fans don’t need me to tell you that Marcus is dead. Deep in your bones, beneath all the hot chicken grease, you already know his career is over. There is nothing the Titans love more than getting their own quarterbacks hurt. I’m actually glad for Mariota. He may have been drafted by the NFL’s equivalent of a Ross Dress For Less, but at least he’ll be comfortably retired by age 27. He’ll be fit and happy and relatively devoid of traumatic head injuries, and he’ll settle into his new life as an investment services brand ambassador with grace and humility. He might even run for state tenate one day. He’s gonna have a GREAT life…as soon as he gets the hell out of that shithole.

CONTINUE READING

CJ McCollum signs four-year, $106 million extension with Trail Blazers

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CJ McCollum signs four-year, $106 million extension with Trail Blazers

The Portland Trail Blazers offseason signings still aren't over as CJ McCollum and the Trail Blazers have agreed to a four-year, $106 million extension, according to a report from The Vertical's Adrian Wojnarowksi.


The deal includes no player option, and no trade kicker, according to Wojnarowksi.

McCollum still has one year remaining on his current rookie contract where he is set to make $3.2 million and would have entered next offseason as a restricted free agent. 

Now, president of basketball operations Neil Olshey has locked up the Trail Blazers backcourt for five years. 

McCollum, the 2015-16 NBA Most Improved Player, posted career-highs in points at 20.7, assists at 4.3, rebounds at 3.2, and steals at 1.2 per game.

McCollum also shot 44.8% from the floor and 41.7% from three, both career highs.

There is no official news yet from the Trail Blazers. 

Do you share Chris Sale's opinion of throwback jerseys?

Do you share Chris Sale's opinion of throwback jerseys?

Chicago White Sox pitcher Chris Sale, frustrated about a throwback jersey he was going to have to wear for his scheduled start over the weekend, reportedly took a knife to his team's uniforms -- making them unusable for the game that night.

For his tantrum, he was suspended for five days and fined.

And while I don't condone what Sale did -- it reminds me of a five-year-old breaking a toy so nobody else can play with it -- I understand his frustration. The White Sox were to wear those hideous 1976 uniforms, the ones that feature a wide collar reminiscent of a leisure suit. The only redeeming feature of those uniforms was that the shirt was designed and approved to be worn untucked -- the only such uniform I can recall in baseball.

Sale is one of the best pitchers in baseball but I don't think that gives him a right to cut up his team's uniforms like a fugitive from a cheap slasher movie. But at the same time, it must be understood that player uniforms in any sport are work clothes. And in an athletic endeavor, they must be comfortable and inspire peak performance. ANY change in the uniform could cause a change in performance. Remember all the fuss over the NBA jerseys with the sleeves?

I think the idea of having players compelled to switch into something foreign for a game or two during the season is not a big deal -- players in all sports get a share in merchandising revenue and, bottom line, this is all about selling fans more replica uniforms. But if you're an elite-level athlete, having to walk out on a baseball diamond in a jersey with a collar might be as uncomfortable as it is embarrassing. Those things must be an inferno on a humid Chicago night.

The whole topic of throwback uniforms is a controversial one. Some players like them, others don't. Some fans like them, others don't. It usually comes down to a personal viewpoint about how good the uniforms look. For instance, you can't do much better than the San Diego Chargers' lightning bolts. And you can't do much worse than the 1982 San Diego Padres' full-diaper look. But that's just my opinion.

What's yours?

 

 

Kevin Durant leads USA to second exhibition rout, 106-57 over China

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Kevin Durant leads USA to second exhibition rout, 106-57 over China

Kevin Durant scored 19 points, Klay Thompson added 17 and the U.S. basketball team rolled to a second straight blowout exhibition victory, 106-57 over China on Sunday night.

DeMar DeRozan scored 13 points in his hometown, and DeMarcus Cousins had 12 points and seven rebounds in another impressive performance to open the Americans’ pre-Olympic tour. While they’re still learning their teammates’ tendencies and solidifying player rotations, the newly assembled U.S. team looked remarkably cohesive for long stretches against an overmatched opponent with no current NBA players.

Los Angeles Clippers center DeAndre Jordan scored 12 points and led a strong defensive effort with three blocks for the Americans, who held the Chinese to 30.9 percent shooting.

After opening their showcase tour by trouncing Argentina in Las Vegas on Friday night, the U.S. team posted another rout at a packed Staples Center.

CONTINUE READING

Ken Griffey Jr. to be inducted into the Hall of Fame on Sunday

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Ken Griffey Jr. to be inducted into the Hall of Fame on Sunday

This Sunday two of the greatest players of the 1990s and 2000s will honored in Cooperstown as Ken Griffey Jr. and Mike Piazza become the 311th and 312th members inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Some years there are borderline inductees. There is nothing borderline about either Griffey or Piazza. Not in the voting — Griffey received an all-time high 99.3% of the vote in his first time on the ballot — and certainly not on the merits. Indeed, these two were two of the greatest players to ever step on a baseball field.

Griffey was, for a good time in the 1990s, considered the best player in the game by the public at large. And he had a good argument for it. He was a perennial Gold Glove winner and the MVP in 1997, though any of his seasons between, say, 1993 and 1999 wouldn’t have caused anyone to bat an eye if you told them that the man who posted them won the award. He had an even 1.000 OPS in those seven seasons and averaged 44 homers a year. That’s not just a Hall of Fame peak, that’s an inner-circle Hall of Fame peak.

CONTINUE READING

PORTLAND TIMBERS FALL 2-1 AGAINST LA GALAXY AT PROVIDENCE PARK

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PORTLAND TIMBERS FALL 2-1 AGAINST LA GALAXY AT PROVIDENCE PARK

The Portland Timbers surrendered a pair of goals in the first half and were unable to overcome the deficit, falling 2-1 to the LA Galaxy before 21,144 fans at Providence Park on Saturday afternoon.

The result marked the Timbers (7-7-8, 29pts) first loss in league play since May 15 as it snapped a nine-game unbeaten run, which is the second-longest unbeaten streak in a single season during the club’s MLS era. Additionally, Saturday’s game marked only the second time the Timbers lost to the Galaxy at home in eight games played since 2011, with Portland producing a 2-1-2 record dating back to the 2013 campaign.

Trailing after a pair of goals during a four-minute span early in the first half from LA Galaxy (9-3-8, 35pts) forwards Robbie Keane and Gyasi Zardes, the Timbers responded strongly, recording 59 percent possession and an 18-9 advantage in shots throughout the match, including defender Zarek Valentin’s finish in the 41st minute of play. Valentin found space for the finish, his first since joining the Timbers, after midfielder Darlington Nagbe weaved his way past two defenders inside the box before playing the ball into space for Valentin, who blasted a low, driven effort from just inside the 18-yard box into the back of the net.

Producing 10 shots in the second half, the Timbers remained on the strong foot by continuing to create several goal-scoring opportunities, including midfielder Ben Zemanski’s effort that skipped just wide of the far post in the 59th minute, while forward Fanendo Adi’s chance from deep inside the box two minutes later forced the Galaxy defense to deflect it wide.

In the 73rd minute, Valeri broke free on the right wing after being released by forward Jack McInerney, leading the counter attack for the Timbers. With his final delivery, Valeri found Adi in space in behind the Galaxy defense, but Galaxy goalkeeper Brian Rowe came charging off his line to break up the play with a sliding save. Continuing to press forward, the Timbers produced another threatening chance in the 85th minute when defender Alvas Powell’s cross into the box landed to Nagbe at the penalty spot. Pouncing onto Powell’s cross, Nagbe struck a first-time effort that sailed just high of the crossbar.

In the final moments of the game, the Timbers earned a dangerous free kick on the edge of the right side of the box deep into stoppage time, with Valeri whipping in a dangerous cross that found Adi on the edge of the six-yard box. Connecting with Valeri’s cross, Adi produced a strong header that narrowly missed the near post.

Next up, the Timbers will travel to face Sporting Kansas City at Children’s Mercy Park on Sunday, July 31; kickoff is set for 11 a.m. (Pacific). The match will feature a national broadcast on FOX with local radio broadcasts on 750 AM/102.9 FM The Game (English) and La GranD 1150 AM/93.5 FM (Spanish).

Notes:

  • Saturday’s game marked the 97th consecutive regular-season sellout for the Timbers at Providence Park.
  • Defender Zarek Valentin scored his first goal for the Timbers, marking his second goal in MLS and his first since July 8, 2012.
  • Valentin is the 11th different player to score for the Timbers this season. Only three MLS teams have had more players score in 2016 (Colorado Rapids, New York City FC, and Philadelphia Union).
  • With Valentin's goal, 40 different players have scored for the Portland Timbers since 2011.
  • Midfielder Darlington Nagbe notched his fourth assist of the season, becoming the third Timbers player this season with at least four assists, as Lucas Melano and Diego Valeri have recorded five assists apiece. Portland is one of five MLS teams to have three players with four or more assists this season.  
  • Nagbe became the first MLS player since Opta began recording statistics in 2011 to record a perfect passing accuracy in the final third of the field with at least 30 passes attempted. 
  • Since 2011, the Timbers and Galaxy have scored 54 goals in their matchups, marking the highest goal output for any matchup in MLS since 2011.
  • Neither team received cards during the match, marking the first time since Oct. 26, 2013, that neither team received a yellow or red card during a Timbers game.