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Bills' first two picks show faith in Fitzpatrick

The Buffalo Bills not selecting a quarterback with their first two picks in this year's NFL draft is "a clear endorsement of Ryan Fitzpatrick":

Live Chat With Sully

Sitting at One Bills Drive, ready to chat.Thanks for chatting. Go on to the Billboard site for our chat at 5 leading up to round two of the draft.

NFL Draft

Just a reminder that I'll be taking part in an NFL draft chat today on the Billboard site. Jay Skurski, who did such a bang-up job on our pre-game chats during the season, will be moderating. I fully expect some Dick Jauron photos. I will no doubt offer a gratuitous shot at Tom Donahoe at some point. Food has been served and I'm late to the table.

It's looking like Marcell Dareus to the Bills now at third overall. All the intelligence from Denver says the Broncos are taking Von Miller with the second pick. I would not be shocked if the Bills took Gabbert, but it's less likely if Dareus is on the board -- at least, that's the conventional thinking.

I'll grab some food and meet you at the Billboard.

Live Chat With Sully

Time to chat it up.Thanks for chatting. Talk to you Thursday night from One Bills Drive.

Chat at 1

A quick reminder that I'll be chatting at 1 p.m. today from the News. Plenty to talk about, obviously, from the Sabres to the NFL draft to baseball and the NBA playoffs. All you NBA haters can have an extended lunch as far as I'm concerned. And the way Tim Connolly played in Game Four, I'm giving serious thought to re-establishing the Doghouse.

Talk to you at 1. Allen Wilson and I will be taping an NFL draft chat in about 15 minutes. You can look for that later in the day.



Live Chat With Sully

Time to chat.Thanks for coming by the chat. Talk to you next week.

Chat at 1:15 p.m.

A reminder that I'll be chatting today around 1:15. I'm pushing it back a bit because we're doing an NBA playoff preview video at 12:30. Also, I've discovered that at least one of my regular chatters has wandered onto Andrew Galarneau's inaugural cooking chat. Anyway, talk to you soon.

Flyers In Seven

There's a temptation to pick the Sabres in this first-round Stanley Cup series. There's no hotter team in the NHL. They haven't lost two games in a row since Terry Pegula took ownership nearly two months ago. They have the better goaltender -- at least in reputation and playoff experience -- in Ryan Miller. And Chris Pronger, who wasn't on the ice at the game-day skate, won't play tonight.

Still, I can't do it. I'm still a skeptic. I need to be convinced that this group of Sabres can thrive in the playoffs, when the stakes are higher and the game is more physical. They've showed promising signs, but I can't get the memory of last year's Boston series out of my mind. They lost a lot of physical battles in that series. The Bruins were the tougher team. The core of that team remains the same. The key forwards on the Sabres still need to prove themselves as the primary players in a post-season series.

That doesn't mean the season is a failure if they lose to Philadelphia, which is the favorite. The Flyers are a very good team. They have more talent and better depth. Their defense is better, even without Pronger. If they get decent goaltending, they'll be tough to beat. It's amazing to think that a lot of experts are picking the Sabres. Who would have imagined in late December that anyone would pick this Buffalo team against a Philly team that was flying atop the NHL?

Pegula has created an exhilirating sense of promise among Sabres fans. That won't change based on a single playoff series. It would be great if they beat the Flyers and even made a run. Anything can happen in today's NHL. But the excitement in Buffalo is equally about what lies ahead. This season has created a momentum that could propel the Sabres toward much bigger things. They will be better and more suited for a Cup run when the young core gets more experienced.

If the Sabres fall flat on their faces against the Flyers, it will puncture some of the enthusiasm. I think fans need to see this team play well and compete against Philly the way they did in the last half of the season. If they do that and fall short, so be it. Better times are ahead. I do get the sense that many fans are taking that approach. They want to enjoy this playoff series as an extension of the regular season, but also as a bridge to a promising future when Pegula uses his deep pockets to enhance the roster.

So enjoy it. And keep in mind, I picked Butler to win the NCAA basketball championship. I picked the Tampa Bay Rays to make the baseball playoffs. This prediction might be reassuring to the Buffalo faithful:

Flyers in seven games.

 

 

Live Blogging From UConn-Butler

3:17 left in the second half: UConn, 46-35. What do you suppose all those other Big East teams are thinking right now? How could a Butler team that is shooting 3-for-28 have gotten to this point, perhaps? Matt Howard is 1-for-11. Butler is 3-for-28 on two-point shots. UConn has 10 blocked shots. 

5:49 left in the second half: I'm not saying it's over, but it sure looks over. Butler is trailing, 43-30. The Bulldogs are shooting 9-for-53 from the field. That's not a typo. They went at least 10 minutes between field goals in the second half. Matt Howard is 1-for-10 from the field, Andrew Smith 2-for-8, Shelvin Mack 2-for-13. You get the picture. It's bleak. Jim Calhoun is on the brink of his third NCAA title.

11:50 left in the second half: UConn, 33-28. Lamb hit a baseline jumper after rebounding his own miss. Then Shawn Vanzant hit a 15-footer off an inbounds pass -- Butler's second two-pointer. After Lamb missed, Roscoe Smith blocked Vanzant's drive at the other end. Smith has four blocks and has been a big factor down low. Kemba Walker has 10 points to lead all scorers.

13:31 left in the second half: UConn moves ahead, 31-26, on a steal and breakaway dunk by freshman Jeremy Lamb, who has come alive after a curious, scoreless first half. Butler hasn't scored since Chase Stigall's three early in the half. The Bulldogs still have just one two-point goal in the game, which is almost two-thirds done. Amazing. How can a team win a national title doing that? Butler finds ways to win, but it's hard when virtually every shot attempt in the paint gets blocked.

15:54 left in the second half: UConn rides an 8-0 run to take a 27-25 lead.  Butler went up six early in the half on a three-pointer by Chase Stigall, but the Huskies used their stifling defense to storm right back. Jeremy Lamb, who had gone scoreless in the first half, hit a three-pointer to make it 26-25. Then, after a flurry of missed shots, blocks and turnovers (ah, memories of that first half!), Kemba Walker was fouled after driving the length of the floor with a long rebound and made one free throw.

Halftime: Butler leads, 22-19, after a 28-foot three-pointer by Shelvin Mack at the halftime buzzer. It was, without a doubt, the worst half I've ever seen in a national title game. Mack scored the last six points of the half on two threes and leads Butler with seven points. The Bulldogs are shooting 6-for-27 and have made just one basket inside the three-point arc.

Kemba Walker has seven to lead UConn.  But the Huskies' star guard is 3-for-11 and picked up his second foul late in the half on a charge. UConn has 10 team fouls, Butler six. The Huskies are leading the rebounding battle, 27-18.

3:49 left in the first half: Sorry, I was so mesmerized by the brick-laying, I forgot to update at the last timeout. All you missed was more regrettable offensive play.  It's 19-19, which is fitting because neither team has shot worth a damn. Butler has ONE two-point basket and it 5-for-21 shooting. UConn is 9-for-28 and hasn't made a three-pointer. Butler is in it because they've made four from long range. Shelvin Mack, who was miserable early, just made a long three to tie it and might be heating up. Let's hope someone does.  Kemba Walker is 3 of 10 for the Huskies, who have 10 offensive rebounds and are outrebounding Butler by nine.

11:58 left in the first half: It  hasn't gotten any better for Butler. UConn leads, 13-9, and has held the Bulldogs to 2-for-14 shooting. The Huskies quickness and long arms have made it difficult for Butler to get open shots in the halfcourt set. They have two three-pointers, one by Chase Stigall and the other by Matt Howard. They haven't made a two-point shot. UConn is 6 of 17, but Kemba Walker has come on, hitting a pullup jumper and a three-point play on a fastbreak.

15:58 left in the first half: UConn leads, 4-3, after a ragged first four minutes. It became clear from the start that Butler was going to struggle for good shots against UConn's defense. Chase Stigall, who had just two field goals in the first five games of the tournament, took four shots early and made a three-pointer. The Bulldogs missed their other eight shots, and badly. Matt Howard had his first post-up blocked by Roscoe Smith and bricked a three-pointer from the top of the key. Shelvin Mack missed a couple of drives to the hoop.

UConn wasn't much better. The Huskies got layups from Tyler Oleander and Alex Oriakhi, but they're 2-for-9. Kemba Walker, their star junior,  is 0-for-4 and just had his drive swatted away by 7-foot Andrew Smith.

Kentucky-UConn

End of game: UConn wins it, 56-55. Shabazz Napier, whose turnover game Kentucky one last chance to tie, hit two  free throws with two seconds left for the four-point lead. Brandon Knight made a meaningless three at the buzzer. UConn faces Butler for the national title Monday night, with coach Jim Calhoun going for a third NCAA championship. John Calipari leaves as one of two coaches to take three different programs to the Final  Four (Rick Pitino is the other). He still hasn't won one, and might wear the tag of best coach never to win the national championship. 

1.7 seconds to go in the second half: Knight dribbled off about 10 seconds, then kicked to DeAndre Liggins for a long three that missed off the iron. UConn's Napier grabbed the rebound and Kentucky quickly fouled. The officials are reviewing the tape to make certain about the remaining time.

16.6 seconds to go in the second half: Does anyone want this game? UConn leads, 54-52, but Kentucky has the ball after Shabazz Napier lost the ball on the dribble with 20 seconds left and the Wildcats covered the loose ball and got timeout from the officials. Who gets the shot here? Brandon Knight has made two game-winners for Kentucky in the tournament, but he's been awful tonight.  

56.5 to go in the second half: UConn leads, 54-51. Kemba Walker left his feet on a drive and threw the ball away with the Huskies up six. DeAndre Liggins hit a three-pointer in transition to cut it to three. Kentucky rebounded a miss, came down and -- shocker -- Brandon Knight barely got iron with a three-point attempt. Knight's performance might be the worst I've seen in a Final Four game. He is 5-for-22 from the field. But he won't stop shooting.  Knight does have eight rebounds and five assists, but  his shot selection has been a horror.

2:49 left in the second half: No scoring since the last timeout.  Bricks were heaved. Why bother with the specifics. Did someone say this was going to be the "real final?" I've got news for you: If anything, the VCU-Butler game was the real final. I'm convinced now that if they had played on opposite sides of this Final Four, it would be an all non-BCS final on Monday night.

4:07 left in the second half: I can't express how unimpressed I am with Kentucky. This is one of the worst performances I can remember in a Final Four. UConn isn't all the much better. They're up 52-48. Brandon Knight is 5-for-20 from the floor, and it's been as bad as it sounds.

8:30 left in the second half: More abysmal play by Kentucky. They're down, 46-42, and have missed their last four shots. Alex Oriakhi slammed home an offensive rebound and Jeremy Lamb scored to put UConn up four and prompt a timeout by John Calipari. One of Cal's assistants was reaming out freshman forward Terrence Jones when he got to the bench for the timeout.

11:56 left in the second half: UConn is on top, 40-39, after a pretty ragged stretch by both teams. Kentucky went on a  16-4 run to begin the half and take a 37-35 lead. Kemba Walker hit three free throws after being knocked to the floor shooting a three-pointer. Brandon Knight made two foul shots to put Kentucky back in the lead. Then the Wildcats had a string of brutal possessions. Knight, who is erratic as a freshman can be, lost the ball out of bounds. He shot an airball. Then Doron Lamb threw the ball away. Jeremy Lamb's two free throws put UConn back in the lead.

15:53 left in the second half. UConn leads, 33-29. Josh Harrellson scored on a putback to get Kentucky within a basket, 31-29. Then Roscoe Smith hit a 15-foot jumper from the right baseline, giving the Huskies their first points more than three minutes into the half. Terrence Jones just picked up his third steal of the night for Kentucky. Jones has nine points and rebounds.

18:22 left in the second half: Kentucky hit a couple of three-pointers to start the half and pulled within four points, 31-27. Brandon Knight, who made only 1-for-5 threes in the opening half, hit one. Then Darius Miller, who missed all four of his shots in the opening 20 minutes, made one a few seconds later. Miller, by the way, was a boyhood pal and AAU teammate of Butler's Shelvin Mack. They grew up in Lexington, Ky.  The Wildcats recruited Miller early and weren't in on Mack until it was too late.

HOUSTON -- OK, so I'm 20 minutes away from missing on both my national semifinal predictions. UConn is leading Kentucky at halftime, 31-21. The way the Wildcats are shooting the basketball, they're fortunate to be within 10.

Kentucky shot 28.1 percent in the first half (9-for-32). They made only 2 of 12 three-pointers. They had just four assists and turned it over six times. Kemba Walker, UConn's all-American guard, had nine points and six assists for the Huskies, who shot 51.9 percent in the opening 20 minutes.

 

 

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