THE PALLILOG

Charlie Pallilo: Texans-Steelers, Harden's numbers, Herman's first season at UT and more

Le’Veon Bell will be making an appearance at NRG. Steelers.com

What a massive lump of coal for the stocking to have the Texans playing on Christmas Day. Then again, it frees up three hours for more eating, playing with new toys, family time, or anything else besides watching the trash that is the home team playing out the season. Hey, if Jadeveon Clowney can refer to a quarterback who just ripped apart the Texans’ efense (not a typo, there was no d in Clowney’s unit last Sunday) as trash, no way can he reasonably refuse the same categorization for his team. Refuse, get it? Ha ha ha. Actually this time of year, ho ho ho. Amusing that Jaguar fans sent Clowney garbage cans and pails this week via NRG Stadium. Well, perhaps not to Clowney and those who receive the mail at the stadium. Maybe some of the receptacles can be put to use for removal of Bill O’Brien’s clock management binders and Rick Smith’s third round draft preparation manifesto.

It’s a big game for the Steelers Monday as they try to hold off the Jaguars (!) for the No. 2 seed in the AFC. Even without an injured Antonio Brown it would be shocking if the Steelers fail to win. They still have a likely Hall of Fame quarterback in Ben Roethlisberger, the best all-around running back in the game in Le’Veon Bell, and an excellent offensive line with three Pro Bowlers. The Texans have DeAndre Hopkins. He is the only Texans’ offensive starter who could get on the field for Pittsburgh. Think about that.

The Patriots are the platinum standard in the NFL, but the black and gold standard is pretty darn impressive. The Steelers’ last losing season was 2003. This is their fourth straight season with at least 10 wins. It’s their 12th double digit win season in the last 17, with two Super Bowl wins along the way.  It’s a level of sustained quality that is unreasonable to expect a team to match, and fantasy to think the current Texans’ regime could ever achieve.

On the court

It’s just one game out of 82 but the Rockets at Oklahoma City Monday is roughly a billion times more interesting than the Texans flailing versus the Steelers. The Texans kick at 4:30, the Rockets tip at about 7:00. Should make for an easy remote control choice.

James Harden this week broke Moses Malone’s Rocket franchise record for consecutive games scoring at least 20 points. Moses did it 29 games in a row, Harden hit 30 by pouring in 51 points in a rare Rocket loss, to the Lakers Monday night. If you are wondering if Harden might be in range of the NBA record, he’s nowhere close. In 1961-62 Wilt Chamberlain played every game of what was then an 80 game regular season. The Big Dipper’s smallest output all season was 26 points. Second smallest, 28. The other 78 out of 80 games, 30 points minimum. Overall in ’61-’62 Chamberlain averaged 50.4 points per game. And 25.7 rebounds. Beyond absurd numbers that no one else has approached or will ever approach. That was the season in which Chamberlain put up his 100 point game.

Hall passes

Six players are first-timers as Basketball Hall of Fame candidates: Ray Allen, Chauncey Billups, Richard Hamilton, Grant Hill, Jason Kidd, Steve Nash. This seems easy: yes, no, no, yes, yes, yes. Hill’s NBA career is not Hall-worthy, but it’s not the NBA Hall of Fame. So in conjunction with his spectacular collegiate career at Duke, Hill’s resume passes.

Injury prone

His adductor strain is Chris Paul’s second left leg injury this season. It doesn’t make his breaking down in the playoffs inevitable, but doesn’t help the mood any.

Horns of a dilemma?

I still like Tom Herman’s chances to have major success as head coach at UT, but his first season has clearly been majorly disappointing. The Longhorns are somehow underdogs vs. mediocre Missouri in the Texas Bowl. If the Horns lose, Herman will match the seven losses that Charlie Strong put up in each of his three seasons in Austin. Meanwhile, UT’s arguable four best players are skipping their senior seasons to enter the NFL Draft. They include punter Michael Dickson. A punter going pro early! The Australian-born Dickson was consensus first team All-America, but only a draft fool would use a selection on a punter before the 4th or 5th round. The returns of the first early signing period for college football have Herman and the Horns reeling in a class ranked top five nationally, a dominant performance over late-starting Jimbo Fisher at Texas A&M whose class doesn’t rate in the top five of the SEC.

Buzzer Beaters

1. With good weather I wonder if the roof is open for the Texas Bowl   2. Eggnog is good. Fresh ground nutmeg on top, NOT cinnamon. Though if no nutmeg available, cinnamon will do  3. Santa’s best reindeer:  Bronze-Blitzen   Silver-Comet   Gold-Dasher

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The Legacy Project has a long history in the city of Houston. Courtesy image.

Each year, the NCAA is committed to leaving a legacy in the Men’s and Women’s Final Four host cities to foster goodwill and sportsmanship. The Men’s Final Four Legacy Project presented by Unilever will select a community facility in Harris County and provide renovations in 2023. This will be the first time a Local Organizing Committee offers an open call for applications in order to select a project. Unilever, the Official Personal Care Partner of the NCAA, is in its twelfth year as an NCAA Corporate Partner and has been the presenting partner of the Legacy Project since 2018.

“One of the key roles that the Houston Local Organizing Committee plays is working with the NCAA to ensure that the impact of having an event like the Men’s Final Four in our city is felt long beyond the tournament’s conclusion. The Men’s Final Four Legacy Project presented by Unilever is one example of a community-focused project that will make a difference in our community for years to come,” says Rachel Quan, HLOC vice president of external operations.

The Legacy Project has a long history in the city of Houston. In 2011, the NCAA and HLOC worked to restore the basketball court and facilities at the MD Anderson Family YMCA. The renovation helped see a drastic increase in membership and enhanced the center’s ability to continue to reach neighborhood youth. In 2016, the Morefield Boys and Girls Club in the Sunnyside neighborhood of Houston received a refurbished basketball court thanks to the NCAA’s Legacy Project.

Working alongside the HLOC, the NCAA and corporate partner, Unilever, we will once again leave behind a legacy in the city by choosing and renovating another community facility in 2023.Applications are open to the public online through midnight on Monday, May 20, 2022.

To qualify, applicants must be located in Harris County. Applications awarded the highest score by community relations evaluators will earn the chance for the HLOC and NCAA to do a site visit to consider the project. A winner will be announced in the summer/fall of 2022 and unveiled in spring 2023, prior to the Men’s Final Four in April.

About the 2023 NCAA Men’s Final Four®

Houston will host the 2023 Men’s Final Four® from March 31 through April 3, 2023. Houston Baptist University, Rice University, Texas Southern University and the University of Houston will make history as the first quartet of institutions to host the Final Four. Games will be played on April 1 and 3 at NRG Stadium. The city of Houston is hosting the event for the fourth time, having previously crowned national champions in 1971, 2011 and 2016. For more information, visit https://www.ncaa.com/mens-final-four/.

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