Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Muscle Milk Deploys Virtual Shaq Using Bottles and Your Webcam

Posted By on Wed, Jan 13, 2010 at 8:44 AM


Want to see a cyber Shaq pop up on your computer screen with a guitar, singing and dancing about Ohio landmarks? Well, pick up a bottle of Muscle Milk and get your webcam ready, because Muscle Milk has gotten involved in augmented reality marketing using the Big Shaqtus. Techcrunch explains:

Now Muscle Milk is getting in on the AR action with a campaign targeted to consumers in Ohio. On each bottle of the high-energy drink, there is a square with the number “33.” When you show that to your Webcam, Shaquille O’Neal will pop out of the bottle like a genie on-screen and give a little song and dance about some Ohio landmarks like the Rock’n Roll Hall of Fame.

Here's the link (Flash required) to the Muscle Millk campaign's website, where, unfortunately, you can not see the Shaq song and dance. However, you can print out the special "33" marker there to hold up to your webcam, thus avoiding having to go out and purchase an actual bottle of Muscle Milk.

If anyone can put this on YouTube, please do so pronto. A grateful world awaits.

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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Josh Cribbs Media Tour Continues!

Posted By on Tue, Jan 12, 2010 at 1:43 PM


After his agents blitzed every media outlet known to man last week in their attempt to get their side of the story out, and after Cribbs unleashed his thoughts on his Twitter account regarding the Browns' insulting contract offer, and after spending an entire day in Bristol, Connecticut, on just about every show ESPN has to offer, except maybe NASCAR Live, talking about his contract, the Josh Cribbs media tour will continue.

Check out this unofficial schedule for an upcoming weekday:

6:30 a.m. — Ice statue carving with Kenny Crumpton for a 2-minute Fox 8 bit on their morning show.

6:45 a.m. — Providing traffic update for the I-480 and I-77 intersection for WDOK.

7:00 a.m. — Live webcast with the student newspaper at St. Ed's.

7:30 a.m. — Morning announcements at St. Ed's. What's for lunch? Listen in and find out!

8:00 a.m. — Interviewed by the Plain Dealer in St. Ed's cafeteria while making lunch.

9:00 a.m. — Taping for That's Life with Robin Swoboda. Segment will include Cribbs and Swoboda knitting blankets and talking about tea kettles.

10:00 a.m. — Tweet about how he doesn't like talking about his contract all the time.

11:00 a.m. — Install the "Pay Josh Cribbs" billboard organized by Dawg Pound Mike.

2:00 p.m. — Press conference over tea with little Susie from down the street and her stuffed animals and dolls.

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Friday, January 8, 2010

Talking With Chris Jent About LeBron James

Posted By on Fri, Jan 8, 2010 at 3:48 PM


Most of you know by now that Cavs assistant coach Chris Jent is LeBron's personal shot tutor, of sorts. There's a great story from the Dispatch that goes over how the relationship began — LeBron basically saying, "I trust you, Chris," and Chris going, "Me? Really? Ok." — and how it's helped LeBron and what it's meant to Chris. Here, we mainly talk about where LeBron is now shooting-wise, where he might go, and how Chris is still helping him get there.

VG: So what is with LeBron's off balance jump shot lately? It's not all the time, but sometimes he looks like he's falling and throwing his right leg out, and I've started noticing it a lot more lately.

Chris Jent: I don't know. I think anytime you take shots, you work on things and try to do it a certain way each time. To shoot the ball the same way each time is harder for some than others. He does lean, and I think he's had a tendency to do that — I think ever since he started shooting. But overall, I think he's done a great job of consistently shooting the same shot.

VG: When you're watching, if you start to notice something hinky in his shot, do you give him some time to see if he's going to self correct, or do you say something immediately? Do you wait for off days? What's the procedure?

CJ: I say to him immediately when time presents itself during game or practice, because of where we are now. Before, I would wait. Now, with his recognition and muscle memory, now he can apply it right away. He can identify mentally right away what I'm talking about.

VG: Is it like fixing a hitch in a golf swing or a baseball swing? Is it harder for jump shooting?

CJ: I think what people don't consider a lot of times, someone like LeBron has to take different shots because he typically shoots of the dribble. When you shoot off the dribble with a contest, because people are always aware of where he is, he's going to have a repertoire of different shots. Now, some you don't like, some you don't want to see him use, but we're not out there with people 7'1" coming over to contest shots with someone on your hip.

VG: So, it's different than Parker or Boobie, who are usually spotted up in the same spot?

CJ: I think so. Those guys are jump shooters, and they have been since they picked up a ball, and they're between 170-185 pounds.

VG: Right, not 270 pounds.

CJ: So, there's a lot of different things that go into LeBron's shooting. Obviously, you're always searching to shoot the same shot every time. That's what makes you a good jump shooter. That, and forgetting about the misses and trying to replicate the makes.

VG: Something I've wondered about, and I think fans have to, is how coachable LeBron is. Whether it's deciding not to run a certain play, or doing something that you suggest, even if he does trust you with his shot and did handpick you to help him. Does he immediately listen to you, or is it a process?

CJ: That's a good question. I think that itd' have to make sense to him, or any person as talented as he is. It'd have to click, for him to say, 'I see what you're saying.' If you typically are dealing with professionals, you better have something to back it up. So, if I'm going to come to him with something, I'll have tape or know well enough that he'll know in his mind what I'm talking about, and that makes him more open to what I'm saying.

VG: You probably don't do it the same way as the "Hoops Whisperer" does. There was an excerpt from Chris Ballard's book about LeBron's trip to see Idan Ravin and one part is still stuck in my head. Ballard quotes Ravin as saying, ""You are far and away the most talented player in the league, way more talented than Kobe. But you don't even have a go-to move in isolation, you can't handle the ball that well, and you can't shoot, really. Think about that." I'm assuming there's more diplomacy involved in your relationship?

CJ: Um, yeah. I don't know anything about that, but yeah.

VG: I've been wondering about LeBron's post moves. We know that was his big offseason push — to further develop his game in the post and add some moves to his repertoire. But it seems like we haven't seen much of that this year so far, save for a few plays. Is there more that he's holding back? Is it a matter of just playing in the post more? Is he saving it?

CJ: I think he has more to his game down there. I think that typically people aren't going to allow him to sit down there and go to work. A lot of times they will double team right away or show double team or we'll anticipate double team, so finding a rhythm posting up is more difficult for him than other guys.

VG: Plus he's looking to pass first.

CJ: Right. He's pass first in the post. No doubt about that. He's thinking pass, and to be honest with you, for him to be a better post player he's got to think score first. For him to expand his post game, whether it's quick spins or face and go, whatever avenue he decides to go, you'll see him be a better post player when he thinks to score first. Right now, where he is, he's thinking pass first.

VG: Do you think more of that will come out if he spends more time playing the 4?

CJ: I think it'll all just come with the repetition of posting. If you look at the sheer numbers, you're looking at 5-6 times a game it happens now — not isolation on the wing, but actual posting up, and I think that it's going take more repetition and being in that position of the floor. But i hope that when he knows he's going be one on one that he'll be more aggressive and looking to score and take better advantage of those opportunities.

VG: Are you guys finding a high success rate for plays that involve LeBron in the post?

CJ: We've been pretty efficient because of the way he approaches posting up. Becahse he's a passer. But a lot of that depends on us making shots, because he's going to allow guys to double team. We have a system of spacing on the floor when there's help, and he knows where his outlets are, and he reads the defense and tries to find the open guy, whether it's someone knocking down a 3 or Andy or Shaq making a move to the rim to finish. We do get good things, though, out of him posting up.

VG: What about the quality of his shot selection. How has that changed over the years? Has it gotten obviously better?

CJ: I think so, because i think he's a better shooter. Now, he's gong to have the ball in his hands, as much as he does, and if you look at where he shoots the balls, the areas, and how many times he gets to the line, and how many times he's shooting a jump shot compared to other players in his situation, of which there's only a few — he's the best, if not up with the best. Now does he lean from 16-feet? Then you have to determine things by looking at the tape. But if you go by sheer numbers, as a guy that we expect to help us win ballgames, he's doing the right thing with the basketball.

VG: I guess 'ceiling" is an odd word to be using with LeBron, but what are your thoughts on his ceiling as a shooter, both in terms of just jump shots and in total field goal percentage. I mean, he's improved every year for the past four years — going from 47% to 49% last year, on a lot fewer shots, to over 50% this year with a TS % of over 60%. Can he keep getting better?

CJ: We do talk percentages a bit. His goal is to always get better. I think he'll get better. I think the challenge for LeBron is playing off the ball. He's been better this year off the ball — playing pick and roll, maybe off Shaq posting up — and if he accepts and grows with playing off the ball then I think you'll see his percentages go even higher. He'll have an edge on his chances then. But anytime he does something, everyone knows where he is, especially with the ball in his hands, and that's something that we're going to continue to ask him to do for us and it's he wants to do that. But as he grows without the ball, his percentages will go higher.

VG: You've been working with LeBron for awhile now over the summers.

CJ: This was the third summer.

VG: How much of the summer worldwide tour did you go on?

CJ: We actually sat down before the summer. He kind of clued me in, saying, 'This summer is going to be crazy. This summer is going to be insane. I can't even tell you all the places we're going to go.' This was right at the end of the year. And he said, 'I understand you've got family.' He knows where I'm coming from. If we're not working, then I'm going to be home. If I'm going to travel, we need to work. He told me he wanted to work this summer and I want to make sure you have a schedule for this.' So I got a preliminary schedule and I sat down with his guys and we went through the entire summer. There were only a couple of segments that I couldn't do, whether it was a family vacation I couldn't miss, or whatever it was. Like, I coach the summer team, so obviously I couldn't miss that. Other than that, though, I was there for everything.

VG: Very hard, I would imagine, with a family and a wife and kids to be gone that extensively over the summer after being gone so much through the season.

CJ: Yeah, it's really hard. I love working in basketball, and I certainly enjoy working with LeBron, but on my list of priorities, my family is number one. My job, our job in this league, you know that no matter what you're doing, the time is tough and the schedule is tough. But then to do it during the summer, you absolutely have to have a very special family, and my wife being very close to me, to — honestly — even tolerate it. I'd be lying if I didn't say it causes friction and stress. I mean, listen, I'm a dad, and I want to be a father to my kids most of all. You can't lose sight of that.

VG: So what was the breakdown for the summer — home vs. being on the road?

CJ: I don't know exact percentages, but I would say somewhere around 65-35 or 70-30, with the majority on the road. It was an arduous summer.

VG: Hopefully it all pays off.

CJ: Definitely.

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Derf Reflects on the Mangini and Holmgren Bromance

Posted By on Fri, Jan 8, 2010 at 2:02 PM


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Herb Score a Finalist for Frick Award

Posted By on Fri, Jan 8, 2010 at 11:12 AM


Longtime Tribe broadcaster and Cleveland legend Herb Score is up for the 2010 Frick Award, an honor bestowed by the Hall of Fame upon a broadcaster for major contributions to baseball. Other finalists include Billy Berroa, Skip Caray, Tom Cheek, Jacques Doucet, Lanny Frattare, Graham McNamee, Jon Miller, Joe Nuxhall, and Dave Van Horne. That's some pretty stiff competition, although Score is heads and tails better than Miller. If he wins and Score doesn't, I might drive to Cooperstown and raise scratch their names off the plaque with my keys.

Anyway, the winner will be announced on February 1st. In the meantime, amid a seemingly never-ending supply of snow on the North Coast, and with the start of baseball feeling like eons away, perhaps it's a good time to revisit some retrospectives on Scores' broadcast career. The estimable Joe Posnaski's always a good place to start. Either this piece or this one (though I recommend reading both) should tide you over. Because while Herb obviously had his faults, we loved him, and no one put it better than Joe:

Herb Score was, of course, the Indians radio voice when I was young. I know I’ve written before (I know!) that people around town called him Herb “No” Score for the obvious reasons, but I firmly believe that with the weather, your mother’s spaghetti and meatballs and baseball announcers, quality is beside the point. It doesn’t really matter if someone else has 72 and sunny every day or someone else’s mother is Lidia Bastianich or some other kid’s listening to Vin Scully.

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The Akron Hammer

Posted By on Fri, Jan 8, 2010 at 10:05 AM

Never heard of that nickname for LeBron before? Well, then you're not watching Sportsnation. Michelle Beadle created the nickname for The King and it was their self-proclaimed biggest story of 2009. Personally, it's pretty freaking lame, but with a Facebook group of over 6,000 members, 23,400 Google search results, and endless banter on Twitter, I might be in the minority (but I don't think so).

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Remembering... the Cleveland Pipers

Posted By on Fri, Jan 8, 2010 at 9:34 AM


After nearly two months, countless starts and stops, and endless admiration and frustration, I finally finished the Sports Guy's The Book of Basketball. Tons of great nuggets in there, and, on the whole, a fun read. There's plenty of reviews and criticisms out there if you're into that stuff (just read the book instead, then discuss it if you want), so I'm not going to go into that here.

Instead, I wanted to relay one nugget of Clevo basketball info that I previously didn't know.

Ever hear of the Cleveland Pipers? Did you know George Steinbrenner actually owned a pro franchise in Cleveland? Did you know the Forest City has one more championship than you were aware of?

Check out the glorious, if brief, history of the Cleveland Pipers thanks to Cool History of Cleveland:


The team won the league title in its only year in the ABL which was the 1961-62 season. The team was coached by the legendary John McLendon, the first African-American head coach of a professional team and who started a massive lineage of other African-American coaches. The very humble, but visionary, Coach McLendon and Mr. Steinbrenner never saw eye to eye (although this is not surprising from Steinbrenner). The team was one of the first racially integrated professional teams and employed a fast-break offense well before those famous Laker’s teams of the early 1980’s.

In 1962, the Cleveland Pipers petitioned to be a part of the National Basketball Association (“NBA”) and the move was approved by the owners of the NBA who wanted the $400,000 expansion fee Cleveland and the Steinbrenner’s would pay. But the ABL sued to keep Cleveland and won and Steinbrenner in his typical fit of rage simply closed the team. But it is important to note the key role the Cleveland Pipers played in integrating professional basketball and that the team was, in fact, the first professional basketball team in Cleveland.

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