Welcome to Wally and Coco

The Celtics dropped their first game of the Wally Szczerbiak era yesterday in a contest no in the Boston area was able to watch, thanks to ABC blackout restrictions. The 83-79 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks was one in which Shira Springer says that the Celtics spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to best use their new toy, Szczerbiak. Steve Bulpett also reports on the Celtics still trying to get to know their new teammate and incorporate him into the game plan. You can also get a game story from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The game was a sloppy one, and as Bulpett notes, it’s probably just as well there weren’t any TV cameras there. It did however, give WRKO broadcasters Sean Grande and Cedric Maxwell an exclusive broadcast which they hope brings some return listeners.

Michael Muldoon talks to a college teammate of Szczerbiak, Anthony Taylor, who spends a lot of his time in Haverhill, and gets his thoughts on what Wally will bring to the Celtics. Tim Weisberg says that the deal can help the Celtics both now and in the future. Kevin Henkin says we shouldn’t be lamenting the loss of Ricky Davis’ defense. He lists out several players who had red hot nights against Davis. The Celtics and Timberwolves will play tonight, just a few days after making that huge trade. The Minneapolis Star Tribune and St Paul Pioneer Press are both already looking forward to the game, and the former paper has a feature on Ricky Davis. Springer’s notebook and Bulpett’s notebook each also preview tonight’s reunion between the ex-teammates.

Jerome Solomon looks at the Seahawks as they attempt to make themselves known the nation this week. John Altavilla and John Tomase each look at Seahawks fullback Mack Strong, the longest tenure member of the Seattle roster. Altavilla’s notebook has more on Seattle relying on veterans to lead the way this week.

Ron Borges has a look at former UMass head coach Mark Whipple, whose work with Ben Roethlisberger as his quarterback coach has drawn raves due to the performance of the second year QB. Michael Felger says that Patriots fans have plenty of reasons to hate the Steelers, which should be enough to make this game worth watching for them. For some reason, I thought a small saving grace to not having the Patriots in the Super Bowl this year would be not having to listen to local media people complain about the city of Detroit. I was wrong. Jim Donaldson leads off the whining…and he’s not even going.

There’s plenty more Super Bowl coverage in the New York Sports Pages and Bay Area Sports Pages.

Michael Parente looks at some of the off-season issues facing the Patriots.

Boston Sports Review published their sports media special this month, and there are some whopper quotes in there, from Globe sports editor Joe Sullivan gushing over how Dan Shaughnessy is the “bravest” columnist he’s ever seen and Larry Johnson lauding the “genius” of Glenn Ordway for keeping moronic callers on the air instead of blowing them up.

Note to Captain Courageous, when your employer starts giving away their product free to all those “unlucky” people who make less than $50,000 a year, then perhaps your premise yesterday might have some merit.

Rob Bradford talks to Johnny Damon, now that the Red Sox have acquired Coco Crisp and word has come out that they were looking at him last season as a possible replacement for Damon. Michael Silverman and Art Davidson each have articles on Crisp, with the latter talking to his former teammate, Lou Merloni. Steve Buckley says that the Red Sox should hang on to David Wells. Alex Speier looks at the 2006 Red Sox as presently constituted, and believes that they could be an upgrade over the team that was swept by the White Sox in the playoffs last October.

Steve Conroy and Nancy Marrapese-Burrell report on Andrew Raycroft making a rehab start in goal for the Providence Bruins. Mick Colageo says that Raycroft could make good bait before the trade deadline. Conroy’s notebook looks at the Bruins prepping for the 20-4-1 Ottawa Senators.

Michael Vega and Jeff Goodman report on Boston Colleges’ 66-64 win over Georgia Tech yesterday. Lenny Megliola says Bring on Duke.

FSN has Celtics/Timberwolves at 8:00. NESN has Bruins/Senators at 7:30. ESPN has Louisville/Villanova at 7:00. ESPN2 has Texas Tech/Kansas at 9:00. OLN has Flyers/Rangers at 7:00.

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A weekend without football of any kind?

Well, sort of. No NFL games. (There’s the Senior Bowl and Arena Football) I think this two week break before the Super Bowl is specifically designed to help wean viewers off the game. You’ve been watching games probably every week since August…now they skip a week, and give you one final game next week. And if you’re really desperate, you can watch the Pro Bowl the week after.

There’s plenty of college basketball on Saturday, and Sunday sees an NBA tripleheader between ABC and ESPN.

Update: Check out Boston Sports Review’s Sports Media Special

On The Air This Week:

The Red Sox dominated the airwaves this week (Until Friday, that is, after the Celtics traded Ricky Davis.) after their announcement last week that Theo Epstein would be returning to the organization. Last weekend, as well as Monday and Tuesday were filled with speculation of what Epstein’s role with the club would be. There was some talk of the potential acquisition of outfielder Coco Crisp, but the majority of time revolved around Epstein whether his return meant he had won a power struggle with Larry Lucchino.

Late on Tuesday afternoon the Red Sox issued a lengthy release outlining that Epstein would be returning to his role as General Manager. Wednesday was filled with reaction to the move. With the Patriots not in the Super Bowl and the Celtics and Bruins struggling through the winter, the Red Sox rule the airwaves.

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The team spread themselves over the airwaves nicely on Wednesday, with Epstein and Larry Lucchino appearing on Dennis & Callahan, Jed Hoyer on Dale & Holley and John Henry on The Big Show. On the latter appearance, Henry said that he was shocked that Hoyer and Cherington were not introduced at “interim” Co-GM’s at that infamous press conference. Steve Burton said that an early draft of the press release that day had the word “interim” in it, but the official release contained no reference to the word. Epstein and Lucchino appeared on Mike Barnicle’s show on 96.9 WTKK FM, (A wiseguy wondered if Barnicle was just going to replay the Dennis & Callahan interview) and there was an appearance on ESPN 890 as well as on NESN and FSN. Michael Silverman in Thursday’s Herald put the totals at “19 publications, 11 television stations

Welcome To Wally World

Boston fans were awaiting news of a trade all day yesterday. But when the trigger was pulled on a blockbuster deal last night, it was Danny Ainge, not Theo Epstein, who was making the trade. The Celtics shipped out Ricky Davis, Mark Blount, Marcus Banks, Justin Reed and two second round draft picks and received back Michael Olowokandi, Wally Szczerbiak, Dwayne Jones and a conditional first round pick. Shira Springer looks at the deal, talking to the agents for a few of the players involved. It is possible that Olowokandi may never play for the Celtics. Steve Bulpett says that the object of this trade, in addition to creating better cap flexibility, was to provide a better compliment to their best player, Paul Pierce. The Celtics feel that Wally Szczerbiak can provide better support to Pierce with his outside shooting. Shalise Manza Young also looks at the Celtics shaking things up. Peter May weighs in on the deal, but isn’t sure what the point of it is. In the middle of May’s column is this curious passage.

But, having said that, the team Ainge blew up to get Davis was a .500 team with a coach who preached defense and whose players played defense. The team Ainge tweaked to get Szczerbiak is, two years later, well below .500 and has a coach who preaches defense. It's not all on Ricky, that's for sure. This team is younger, more accident prone, and doesn't defend as well.

Ah yes. A reference to “The Day the Music Died”. Never has the breaking up of a bad team been more lamented. I’m guessing that May might think the whole Ricky Davis era was a waste. Perhaps Ainge should’ve hung on to Eric Williams, Tony Battie and Kedrick Brown? May admits he’s never been a Ricky fan and hints that there must be a deeper, darker reason why the Celtics are trading him. Mary Murphy looks at Davis moving on this fifth NBA team. Ricky handled the news with class, as the Celtics PR guy tells us that the statement he released about loving Boston really came from Davis, and wasn’t one of those manufactured marketing quotes. Bulpett looks at how crazy Wally’s world is going to be for the next few days. His wife is due to give birth on Monday, which is the same day the Celtics play the Timberwolves in Minnesota. You can get reaction to trade from the twin cities in the Minneapolis Star Tribune and the St. Paul Pioneer Press. In the latter paper, Tom Powers has a column entitled “No one got the better of this dismal deal”, and he says:

If nothing else, this trade is going to cost me a few dollars. I had a friendly wager with a buddy that no NBA general manager would be dumb enough to accept Michael Olowokandi in a trade.

I forgot about Danny Ainge.

Guess we know how highly he “Kandi Man” is thought of out in Minnesota. Thought…if Olowokandi never plays for the Celtics, does Powers still have to pay up? The BSMW Full Court Press has reaction to the trade, and after initially being furious with the deal, they see some sense in the move. Springer’s notebook and Bulpett’s notebook look ahead to Ron Artest’s debut with the Sacramento Kings tonight at the Garden against the Celtics. You can get more on Artest from the Bay Area Sports Pages, which includes the Sacramento Bee.

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The Bruins won their third in a row last night, 3-2 over the Washington Capitals. Nancy Marrapese-Burrell, Steve Conroy and Joe McDonald have the accounts of the game. Douglas Flynn says that Tim Thomas just might be saving the season for the Boston Bruins. Steve Buckley (subscription only) also has a look at Thomas, who is just happy to be in the NHL instead of toiling in the minors. Nick Tavares looks at how the Bruins appear to have turned things around.

Kevin Paul Dupont gushes over 20 year old Washington star Alexander Ovechkin. Mick Colageo has more on the Russian superstar. Conroy examines how the fit thrown by Anaheim goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere may have been out of the same frustrations felt by a lot of goaltenders this season. Burrell’s notebook has more on Thomas being a factor in the Bruins’ recent turnaround. McDonald’s notebook looks at the Bruins starting to get healthier, but Conroy’s notebook looks at Brad Isbister injuring his leg last night.

Michael Silverman runs down all the things that happened while Theo Epstein was “away”. Jim Donaldson says that Theo needs to get to work now. Larry is off the hook and Theo is on the hot seat. Silverman’s notebook says that things aren’t looking good as far as Coco Crisp coming to Boston. The Cleveland Plain Dealer has coverage as well.

Jackie MacMullan looks at former NFL player Roy Simmons, who might be the poster boy for “Super Bowl casualties sucked in by the excitement and the nightlife and the adulation.” Nick Cafardo has a look at the Seahawks defense.

Scott’s Shots has a look at the media coverage of the Celtics trade last night, a look at Bill Simmons’ email interview with Curt Schilling and a plethora of other ideas.

Check back later for this week’s version of BSMW SporTView.