Every-Thing Sports

Jermaine Every: A few things on my brain this week

Jose Altuve will be around for a long time. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

This was one of those weeks in which my ADD wouldn’t allow me to write about one thing. It’s also a week in which the diarrhea of words coming from my keyboard had to be kept at a respectable number because I don’t want to overdo it or bore you guys either. With that said, read on…

This Astros regime gets it

Gone are the days of Drayton McLane and Ed Wade putting Band Aids on gushing gashes. We are now living in the Jim Crane/Jeff Luhnow era. There’s already a title in hand, and they’re built to win over the next two to four years and maybe more. Jose Altuve’s contract extension is further evidence that the Astros’ new regime truly gets it. He’s proof that hard work pays off.  Doesn’t hurt that he’s extremely humble and seems embarrassed about the attention he gets. Keeping the greatest Astro ever around for the foreseeable future shows commitment to keeping this team competitive. Remaining competitive is a tricky deal. It can often backfire with disastrous results. With that said, they also know they can’t keep everyone. Dallas Keuchel is more than likely in his last season as an Astro, but they’ve acquired Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole, and have some nice pitching prospects to fill the void. George Springer wasn’t happy about his arbitration case was going to go, or when he was brought up to the main roster. He and the team settled on a two year deal worth $24 million dollars to avoid arbitration, so I imagine he’ll be testing the free agent waters as soon as he’s eligible. They’ve also brought guys up when they’re ready (not past their prime), and have traded prospects for proven MLB talent. If those aren’t signs they “get it,” I don’t know what else to tell you to convince you.

Who’s house?!?

The University of Houston Cougars men’s basketball team came within a couple made free throws and a Christian Laettner-type 3-pointer from making it to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament. My heart goes out to Devin Davis. Many will point to his missed free throws that could have iced the game as the reason why they lost, but there were several other reasons why they didn’t win (like the inconsistent at best refs). They’re going to lose their best player in senior guard Rob Gray, but Coach Kelvin Sampson has two of the ESPN Top 100 recruits coming in next season, as well as a couple JUCO transfers. After notching the school’s first NCAA Tournament victory in over 30 years, I can see the Coogs making it back next season. I really hope this propels them back to prominence. Houston is a fertile recruiting ground for basketball. Here’s to the Coach Sampson bringing that program back to the national spotlight.

David beat Goliath

The 1980 U.S. Men’s Hockey team beating the Russians, University of Houston stopping U.C.L.A.’s streak, Buster Douglas knocking out Mike Tyson…now we can add 16 seed University of Maryland-Baltimore County mollywhopping 1 seed University of Virginia in the men’s NCA basketball tournament to the list of improbable upsets. No. 16 seeds were 0-135 before Friday’s stunning upset. Not only did they pull off the impossible, they did it in grand fashion. The final score of 74-54 showed how the Retrievers were able to beat the Cavaliers’ pressure defense, cause turnovers themselves, and score at will. The beatdown was so convincing, they spent the last three to four minutes celebrating while the game was still going on. They lost in the next round to Kansas State 50-43 in a game theycamethisclose to winning. A play here, a play there, and we’d be talking about a 16 seed in the Sweet 16! Let that sink in for a minute! I don’t want to become a prisoner of the moment, so I’ll leave you with this thought: Wait a couple years and look back on this game. If it still holds itself in that high a regard, which I believe it will, then we have the greatest upset in the history of sports.

There’s so much more I could go on and on about, but I’m told I only have so much bandwith here. However, fear not! I’m always available on Twitter, and recently partnered with Craig Koshkin on The Sideline podcast as well (episode 39 was our maiden voyage). So if you have any questions, comments, concerns or criticisms, get at me. I’d love to hear from everyone. Even the haters because I love y'all too.

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Rockets get another much-needed win. Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images.

The Houston Rockets went on a redemption tour by beating the Detroit Pistons and Dallas Mavericks. But the most pivotal win was against the Mavericks as the Rockets finally showed their true potential. John Wall finally made his return from his injury hiatus and played with a lot of energy. DeMarcus Cousins and Eric Gordon combined for 61 points. It was great to see Stephan Silas crack a smile as he was able to beat his former team.

The Rockets clearly missed Wall during his eight-game absense. This season, the Rockets are a .500 team with Wall on the court. Wall is the Rockets' floor general that leads, constructs, and also pushes his teammates to become better.

Wall only played 21 minutes in the 133-108 win over the Mavericks but still had eight assists. Even though Wall only had 7 points, his presence was still felt by finding his teammates for open looks beyond the perimeter. Wall made sure Cousins and Gordon got a plethora of touches. He called multiple actions, so they got open looks from three, which was mainly Gordon. Gordon and Cousins' struggles have been similar but with Wall on the court, they were successful against the Mavericks. According to NBA Stats, Wall posted a 111 offensive rating with the starters versus the Mavericks, which included Gordon and Cousins.

"He's the engine to this team. He gets everybody going. He makes the game easy," Cousins told a reporter after the game. "The pressure that he constantly puts on the defense is a tough thing to deal with."

Gordon has struggled all season long with three-point shooting and relied on his slashing abilities. Saturday night, Gordon made six three pointers against the Mavericks, which was 66 percent from beyond the perimeter. Gordon increased his three-point percentage from 31 percent to 34.5 percent after Saturday night's game. Gordon's 33 points came from being able to attack the entire Mavericks' defense. Willy Cauley-Stein didn't stand a chance against Gordon as he was burned multiple times. Gordon's been a lifesaver for the Rockets in the last two games, and hopefully he maintains his play.

Cousins played fantastic against the Mavericks scoring 28 points and grabbing 17 rebounds. This is Cousins' first double-double with the Rockets this season. Cousins became the vintage player from the New Orleans Pelicans and Sacramento Kings. It was extremely fun watching Cousins push the ball up the court and aggressively snatch rebounds. Boogie shot 50 percent from behind the arc by making four three-pointers. He was dominant inside the paint as Cousins went 7/8 from the restricted area versus the Mavericks. This was the game Cousins needed after having a poor performance against the Pistons Friday night.

"It was really, really good. He did it all. He's a physical presence on both ends of the floor," as Silas said on Cousins' performance.

David Nwaba and Mason Jones were big factors off the Rockets' bench by having a combined total of 34 points together. Nwaba has been great in transition for the Rockets the entire season. Keep in mind that Nwaba is returning from an Achilles injury he suffered with his former team, the Brooklyn Nets. Nwaba has became a great defender, slasher, and is averaging a career-high nine points per game with the Rockets. He finished with 18 points on Saturday night versus the Mavericks.

Mason Jones has become a fan favorite of the Rockets because of his confidence. Silas is loving the usage of Jones off the bench but wants to find more minutes for him. Jones had a breakout performance versus the San Antonio Spurs with 24 points off 66 percent shooting from the field. He continues to get better with his reads from the point guard position. Jones' knowledge of running the offense has helped his efficiency on the court. He is never afraid to take clutch shots in pivotal moments of the game.

"To have a young kid who can come in and not be afraid of the moment, that's big. That's a tough position to be in as an undrafted rookie. I trust him. It's a good problem to have," Silas mentioned after the game. "He's showing me he's ready. He's a confident kid, and he should be. That's why he's good. He's not afraid of the moment, at all. He can get us organized, run plays, and score the basketball."

Hopefully, the Rockets can sustain their level of play when Victor Oladipo returns against the Washington Wizards, Tuesday. It will be interesting to watch Oladipo and Wall play in the same backcourt.

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