In this week’s special championship edition of Around the Dorm, the “Ref,” Otto Gomez, asks our panel of experts — seeded by their number of wins this semester — three questions: What can stop the Golden State Warriors? What do the off-the-field issues mean for the Patriots legacy and what caused Rhonda Rousey’s first loss?
1. The Golden State Warriors seem unstoppable right now. What matchup strategy could another team use to even be competitive with them come playoff time?
Matthew: On both sides of the ball, the Golden State Warriors outmatch their opponents with superior hustle, sheer ability and height advantage at nearly every position. What keeps the Warriors clicking, however, is their scheme. Their rapidly-run offense relies on quick possessions with perimeter passing to set up the right man for the shot, and the “right” man is every man as they can pretty much all shoot the three. Trying to outrun the cheetah, teams continue to fall prey to the relentless Golden State attack because they play the predator’s game: fast-paced basketball. It is impossible to stop the Warriors, but they can certainly be slowed. Opponents must prioritize playing at their own pace as the Warriors become uncomfortable when forced to accept a sluggish pace. Patient play is the Warriors sole weakness — slow the game down and victory is possible.
Matt: There may not be a solution to stopping the Warriors’ small ball. To stop it, a team needs to have an elite post-up center with solid shooters. Golden State was able to run the table in the playoffs last year with ease because no team could stop it. They also did not play the Spurs, maybe the only team in the conference that could stop them. In the wise words of the unwise coach Chip Kelly, “big people beat up little people.” When the Warriors go small and athletic, the Spurs should go big. The ageless wonder, Tim Duncan, and highly-touted newcomer LaMarcus Aldridge can score at ease against the small Warriors. The problem for them is stopping the Warriors’ shooting on the outside, which may be impossible. I’m not saying the Spurs can beat the Warriors, but there’s a chance.
Michael: If anything is going to stop Golden State, I think the best bet is time. Yes, they are hot now, but the real test will be if they still are after the mid-point of the season. This team is good, and right now, I think only a handful of teams (the Thunder, the Pacers or the Spurs) can give them a challenge. They have hustle, giving them advantages when it comes to breaking through defenses easily or going for three-pointers. But what happens if Steph Curry or Klay Thompson goes down injured? Can the team still play without their big dogs? Right now, at this moment, I believe the only thing that could stop them is solid defense that can handle Curry, be quick enough to stay with him but also avoid double covering him and leaving an opening somewhere else. Other than that, the long NBA season will need to take a toll on the Champs if any team wants to find a chink in this armor.
Matthew gets 2 points for noting every player as a threat. Matt gets 1 point because outside shooting isn’t an issue and Michael also gets 1 point for not mentioning the other players.
2. What does the off-the-field issues and repeated success of the Patriots say about the team and the roles of the team leaders?
Matthew: Winning trumps all. The New England Patriots have remained the best organization in football throughout the current millennium due to their unparalleled ability to win games. Robert Kraft has been selling out the stadium since becoming owner in 1994, and since he hired head coach Bill Belichick, the Pats have gone on to take the division title 80 percent of the time. Tom Brady has four Super Bowl rings and a couple of MVPs to show for his past 15 years of service. Controversy cannot supersede the sheer dominance of the 2000s Patriots, made possible by the minds of these three men. Only the San Francisco 49ers teams of the 1980s can match modern Patriots’ accolades, and many a debate can be had between the superiority of their respective owner, coach and quarterback.
Matt: There is no doubt that when it’s all said and done, Brady and Belichick will be the best to have ever done it at their respective posts. Kraft is just along for the ride, with Belichick largely in control of the organization. Sure, there has been plenty of controversy, but winning cures all, and the Patriots win a lot. Deflategate was blown way out of proportion and didn’t really even affect the outcome of the game. It was a witch-hunt by Goodell to repair his image after his mishandling of the Ray Rice scandal. Nice try, Roger. Spygate was a clear-cut example of cheating and one that should have been handled severely. But, as usual, Goodell mishandled the punishment. Hate them for cheating, but hate Goodell more for not putting an end to their cheating.
Michael: They are the best, and they have the rings to prove it (well except Belichick, he’s missing one thanks to Vladimir Putin). The Patriots are not Pete Rose — the things they have done (or not done) don’t over shadow the feats they have accomplished. Belichick is the George Patton of the grid iron, he’s calm and knows how to strategies under pressure. Tom Brady is America’s golden boy, and his play has always been great. Even if he has a bad game, he shoulders the blame. Kraft is… OK. Honestly, he has never been the main focus of the franchise and that isn’t really an issue since he gives the team the reigns it needs to succeed. The organization will be seen as a high point of the NFL in the 2000s. Vince Lombardi’s Packers, the Steelers’ Steel Curtain, the Super Bowl Shuffle Bears and Belichick’s Patriots can go down on the NFL’s mount Rushmore.
Matt gets 3 points for hating Goodell. Matthew gets 2 points for noting winning’s importance and Michael gets 1 point for forgetting about Joe Montana.
3. Explain what caused one of the biggest sports upsets ever this last Saturday when Ronda Rousey lost to Holly Holm.
Matthew: I don’t know anything about professional fighting. However, this lack of education on the matter is precisely the cause of Americans’ shock waves of surprise following Ronda Rousey’s defeat. When she came onto the scene and exuded such dominance within her sport, the public fully embraced her. All we had ever seen was this highly vocal, personable figure crush her opponents within seconds. Rousey was the embodiment of women’s fighting. Thus, when we saw her fall to that mighty kick by Holly Holm, it was like seeing The Road Runner get caught by Wile E. Coyote — we were in disbelief. At some point, we forgot she was human, consequently causing our brains to blow up upon learning that Ronda Rousey could, indeed, fail. Nonetheless, Holm’s victory proves the sport is much more than a one-woman sport.
Matt: I’m not going to pretend like I know anything about women’s mixed martial arts. Does anyone? Everyone knows Ronda Rousey, though. She’s that fighter that goes on all of the talk shows. She was in “Entourage!” The point is, she’s a celebrity. Maybe that played into her defeat. Maybe she overlooked her opponent and focused too much on the celebrity life. Probably not, though. She seems to have worked hard to become the top in her sport. Even the best teams and athletes have an off night. That’s what happened to Rousey. She ran into a motivated opponent and for one night she wasn’t the best in her sport.
Michael: A brutal kick to the skull. That’s what caused it. Ronda was off her game that entire match and I’m not actually sure why. Holm dominated the distance game, not allowing Rousey to get close and pin/submit her. Nine of Rousey’s 12 wins were by submission, so keeping her back was key. What caused this was honestly one battle strategy beating another. I can’t speak on Holm’s past fights, but Rousey’s formula was always get close and attack the arm, or KO. This upset may have been huge, but it’s great for the sport, as the pay-per-view with “Rousey-Holm II” will be massive. If Rousey loses again she either has Hollywood or WWE and Holm has a career in front of her that I think can go places.
Michael gets 3 points for analysis of both fighters. Matthew gets 2 points for noting reactions and Matt gets 1 point because she’s not a celebrity, she’s a fighter first.
Matthew wins the Around the Dorm Championship 6-5-5.