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Saturday, April 10, 2004
(Long-term) Trouble in Tuscon?
Kelvin Sampson has long been rumored to be the likely successor to Lute Olsen at the University of Arizona -- the Oklahoma coach is a friend of Arizona's athletic director.
Two years ago, Sampson made the case that he was a rising star in the profession. But after Oklahoma failed to make the NCAA Tournament this year, is Kelvin damaged goods?
ESPN is reporting that Texas associate head coach Frank Haith (about which I've expressed my concerns
) has emerged as the front-runner
for the University of Miami gig.
What gives? A week ago, Manhattan's Bobby Gonzalez was rumored to be a sure bet.
Haith must have impressed at his interview.
Whoppers of the Week
Gregg Doyel of CBS/Sportsline has gone up with next season's Top 25
-- idiot style.
Michigan State at Number 5
? Drew Neitzel is for real
, but the Spartans were several players away from the Top 20. Izzo's a great coach, but will only be able to do so much with next year's squad.
Michigan at Number 9
? Is Doyel from Michigan? What gives? Yes, the Wolverines impressed at the end of the season. Yes, Amaker's club played with gutsy determination in winning the NIT. Yes, the folks from Ann Arbor are NCAA-bound and should hover between 15 and 25 most of the season. But no, reasonable people don't rank Michigan as next year's ninth best team.
Arizona at Number 10
? I'm a huge 'Cats fan, but this year's version was the most selfish bunch of Arizona ballplayers I have seen in years. With Salim's "leadership" and this year's "defense," the Wildcats are looking at another disappointing finish in the NCAA Tournament. Losing Iguodala drops them out of the Top 15.
Kansas at Number 12
? ESPN's Andy Katz has the Jayhawks at Number 1
. A pretty significant difference of opinion. Given that I pay attention to Andy year-round and read Gregg's pieced from roughly March to May (until I get bored with CBS/Sportsline's lack of content), I'm inclined to believe Bill Self's club is Top 10 worthy.
Memphis at Number 13
? I expected Memphis to win their first round game. I acknowledge Sean Banks had a great year and that Darius Washington will be a sensational college point guard. But Calipari hasn't won big since leaving the University of Massachusetts. Count me as a skeptic.
UCLA at Number 24
? I'm sure the Pac-10 appreciates the respect, but UCLA? Jamie Dixon was the best thing that ever happened to Ben Howland. Before Dixon, nobody had ever heard of the guy. Again, I'm skeptical. A better choice - if you want to stick with the West Coast theme - is Washington. Lorenzo Romar is building a program.
Illinois assistant Chris Lowery was today introduced as the new head coach
at Southern Illinois.
Lowery will be the Salukis' third coach in three years, prompting SIU athletic director Paul Kowalczyk to jokingly refer to his school as "the cradle of men's basketball coaches for the Big Ten."
(Sad, but) True.
They Said It
"If Emeka ends up being a senator from Texas, I'm not going to be surprised. If he ends up having his own company, if he's a CEO or CFO, it won't surprise me. If he ends up being an All-Star, it's not going to surprise me."
-- Connecticut's Jim Calhoun
Friday, April 09, 2004
Dumb and Dumber
Southern Illinois head coach Matt Painter resigned Thursday
to take an assistant coaching position at Purdue. He is expected to succeed Keady for the 2005-06 season.
No, coaches haven't had much luck when selecting their successors
. Yes, the Salukis had a great year and Painter is a rising star. No, Purdue is not a program for which it is worth wasting a year.
Why was Keady intent on choosing Purdue's next coach? He has a legacy. Why taint it with a potentially unsuccessful coaching succession? Why did Painter jump the gun? Why not wait until next year to move up in the ranks?
A Heated Debate
Ryan Wilson over at Heels, Sox & Steelers
has quite an argument going with Dan Lewis of ArmchairGM.com
. The subject of discussion is the "intentional foul (intentional' in the plain-English, non-NBA rules sense) in the last minute, used by the trailing team to stop the clock."
My first impression is to side with Ryan; fouling in the last minute is a strategic decision, not a rule-breaking action. But my second thought, upon further analysis, is that Ryan and Dan are "like two ships passing in the night." They're talking about the same subject, but they're coming at it from different perspectives.
Ryan considers whether or not intentional fouls in a game's closing minutes violate the spirit
of a rule, whereas Dan argues Georgia Tech purposefully fouling Connecticut at the end of the NCAA Championship game would not violate the letter
of the law.
Consider Dan's orientation
In a recent post to his weblog, he [Mark Cuban] asks a prescient question: "if [a player] is dribbling up court and a defender just steps in front of him, all for the sole point of taking a charge?" Cuban uses the question as a jumping-off point to make his case for a change to the NBA rules, in essence, by pointing out that players should not be able to intend to take a charge.
But Cuban didn't identify the disease, merely a symptom. Charges occur when the offensive player violates the rules; therefore, we compensate the victim. Cuban rightly points out that by giving defenders incentive to step into a shot, we're therefore not making the charge worthy of compensation, and, it'd be better to punish the defenders (who is truly causing the problem).
It's the contrapositive of this postulate that is the real issue. Fouls are violations of the rules, and therefore, should offer no strategic benefit. But often, they do.
The most obvious example is the intentional foul in the last minute, used by the trailing team to stop the clock. The leading team needs to have good free throw shooters in the game in order to effectively counter this strategy, but that outcome is beyond silly. Here you have the trailing team breaking the rules, and instead of the leading team getting some benefit from this violation, the leading team in many cases is at a stark disadvantage.
Ryan adopts a different view, taking issue with this notion of advantage and disadvantage and suggesting Dan's assumptions about a club's priorities are off-target.
What Dan overlooks is that when trailing teams foul in the waning minutes of a game they do so primarily to stop the clock and secondarily in the hopes that the fouled team misses the free throws. If the fouled team converts their free throws it's not a net gain for the trailing team. They foul in the last few minutes because they have to. Their primary goal is to stop the clock and then make up the points their next time down the court.
With their different perspectives in mind, it is no surprise that the two have come to disagree about the example in question
. Dan sees Connecticut's potential decision to remove poor-shooting point guard Taliek Brown from the game in the closing minutes as a symptom of philosophical rule-breaking, whereas Ryan understands and supports the move as a practical and strategic decision within an existing set (of perhaps conceptually unsound) rules.
Agent of Change
Arizona's Andre Iguodala has made himself available for the NBA draft
and will soon sign an agent -- ruling out any possibility of returning to the Wildcats.
Iguodala, the first player in UA history to lead the team in rebounds (253), assists (147) and steals (48) in the same season, will be sorely missed. His departure all but eliminates the 'Cats as national championship contenders next year.
Missing in Action
Back in January, ESPN's Page 3 ran down the "Top 100 Sports Moments in Simpsons History
A great segment. But, sadly, it appears one of my favorite shows has yet to poke fun at college basketball. Grmph.
Players to Watch Next Year
Four potential stars, courtesy Kyle Veltrop
No comment yet, but an interesting link I thought I'd pass along.
Thursday, April 08, 2004
With all due respect to Stewart Mandel, Duke is not losing a "key player
" in Nick Horvath.
Chris Duhon will be gone, but he wasn't very good anyway. The real question is whether either Luol Deng or high school phenom Shaun Livingston will join the horde of high schoolers and collegiate underclassman declaring early for the NBA Draft.
of my rumors
have been greatly exagerrated.
Turns out I was right
. Bobby Gonzalez will most likely find himself at Miami
, not St. John's, and Matt Doherty is on the short list at the once-proud Big East institution.
They Said It
"In the NBA, it used to be the Knicks vs. the Bullets; the Bucks vs. the Celtics. Now it's Shaq vs. Yao Ming. What's that? That's not basketball, that's tennis...We're an old-fashioned team. We share the ball. We don't have one guy that we live and die with."
-- Georgia Tech's Paul Hewitt
Hewitt is fast becoming one of my favorite coaches. Here's hoping Jack returns for another magical year.
Trouble in Paradise?
Two prized recruits, gone
From Billy Donovan's program at Florida. Sophomore guard Rashid Al-Kaleem and freshman point guard Ryan Appleby have decided to transfer.
The loss of Appleby very much hurts the Gators, because he was the only other point guard on the roster beside Anthony Roberson, who is still mulling a decision of whether to return for his junior season or declare for the NBA Draft. (Though for those of who saw his selfish play in the NCAA Tournament, it is a no brainer. Return to high school). The Gators cannot sign any players to replace Appleby and Al-Kaleem, because of an NCAA rule which caps the maximum number of players a school can sign in a two-year period at eight. UF signed four players in 2002 and signed four more this past November.
: Appleby is transferring to the University of Washington
. This makes sense. He played at Stanwood High School. On a slightly different note, but of importance, 6'11" Miami recruit C.J. Giles of Seattle's Rainier Beach High School wants out of his letter of intent. If his wish is granted, he'll be a Husky in the fall. Seems like Lorenzo Romar is already cashing in on his team's success this year.
Open Thread: Kentucky
The Wildcats lose much of their senior leadership. But this being a Tubby Smith-coached club, they are sure to re-load before next fall.
Thoughts on Kentucky's chances next year? The floor is yours.
In Storrs Now
The Geno Auriemma and Jim Calhoun Show
: How to transform a sleepy New England college town into the mecca of college basketball.
ESPN's Greg Garber breaks Connecticut's success down
Storrs, CT: 41.80 degrees north of the equator and 72.25 degrees west of the prime meridian.
Who's Advising These Guys, Anyway?
Nate Robinson, the University of Washington's leading scorer, plans to declare himself eligible for the NBA Draft
Nate is 5'8" and started only 21 of the Huskies 31 games this year.
Who in the world would draft this guy? Danny Ainge?
Schmooze or Lose
The Los Angeles Times has a great piece on the action you don't see
at the final four. Turns out coaches have their own networking get-togethers. And the shoe compaines, of course, organize a party or two.
A coach's standing can be discerned by what he wears — the best-dressed guys often are out of work.
Seriously, a great read. Worth your time.
Pitt Sports Blather
A Panther fan blathers about next year's Big East
. "Chas" gets it right:
Villanova -- All the talent in the world (as they showed at the Big East Tournament) and young, but will they finally put it together?
Boston College -- A team in its last year in the Big East, but totally built for the Big East. Another year older and stronger. They will be a sleeper team to win it in the Big East.
Wednesday, April 07, 2004
Edelin's Dad: "This stuff is crazy. It can't be further from the truth."
The cleverly named Orange Juice
blog has the latest on the Billy Edelin saga at Syracuse.
The quick and dirty
: Billy wants to play for the 'Cuse. He's taking a medical leave for the rest of the semester, will take classes in the summer, and expects to be eligible to play in fall.
Why 'Bama Won't Be Back
In the Elite Eight.
I don't care what Kyle Veltrop says
, Alabama isn't posed for a breakout season.
Sure, Kennedy Winston (or is his name Winston Kennedy?) can do it all. But the 'Tide will be led by a freshman point guard, have a history of losing close games on the road, expect to lack depth and points off the bench and are coached by the overrated Mark Gottfried.
The pundits are high on 'Bama
because of the Tide's performance in this year's tournament. But Gottfried's club needed a last-minute runner by Antoine Pettway to win the first-round game and barely hung on to beat a Stanford squad that turned in another lackluster performance in the second round. Syracuse provided for weak Sweat 16 competition -- the Orangemen had overachieved and lacked the offensive weaponry to go much further. When it came time to play Connecticut, the Tide lost without so much as a whimper. Ben Gordon went for 36 as the Huskies crushed Alabama.
North Carolina fans...
Shouldn't be too bummed about Marvin Williams' poor shooting at last week's McDonald's All-American Game. The prized 6-foot-9 banger went 1 for 6 from the field, damaging his NBA Draft stock and increasing the likelihood that he will be seen in Chapel Hill next fall.
Bits and Pieces...
Left over from this season
It seems when North Carolina came in to play, the Cameron Crazies had a special greeting for Tar Heels Coach Roy Williams. They sang the theme song to Wizard of Ozand left him a present in his chair - a pair of glittery red shoes. Williams, of course, ditched Kansas last April for North Carolina.
Nothing like a little sense of humor to keep a rivalry fun.
A Picture is Worth
The Chosen Ones
A great piece on how little success college coaches have when choosing their successors
I have another example for author Gregg Doyel: John Calipari to Brusier Flint.
Do you have a suggestion? Any other terrible coaching successions come to mind?
Recruit Jameson Curry
, from North Carolina.
The result of his guilty plea on two felony counts of marijuana possession with intent to sell.
Roy Williams better hope J.R. Smith doesn't enter the NBA Draft. Otherwise the Heels will have a short bench next fall...
Back to School
Dijon Thompson's flirtation with the NBA
is, in a word, ludicrous.
The UCLA junior led the Bruins to an 11-17 record.
They Said It
"They pretty much outplayed us in every phase of the game."
-- Georgia Tech's Jarrett Jack
"If you play a series, I think we're a little bit better than Georgia Tech, if we played a series. But we weren't in the game when it counted."
-- Oklahoma State's Eddie Sutton
"We wanted it all, and we took it."
-- Connecticut's Emeka Okafor
The Next Hewitt
Andy Katz's daily word
alerts us to the possibility of "the next Hewitt," a soon to be accomplished black basketball coach with a keen eye for the game and a statesmanlike demeanor.
Katz suggests Texas associate head coach Frank Haith and Kansas assistant coach Norm Roberts are next in line, noting that both have been asked to interview for several of this summer's elite openings.
Great. I wish both Frank and Norm the best of luck.
But I'm a little skeptical about the Longhorns' Haith. The coaching staff at the University of Texas, led by Rick Barnes, always has more talent than tournament success.
I've never been a fan of Connecticut's Taliek Brown. Thought he was undersized, overrated and played without the discipline I had come to expect of a Husky point guard.
I've always thought Chris Duhon was highly overrated. Never impressed by the Dukie, I quickly tired of Dickie V's rants and raves.
But along case Stewart Mandel's latest: "Point taken. UConn's much-maligned PG sets the record straight in title game
." A nice tribute to Taliek's persona and accomplishments over a four year period.
The following paragraph caught my eye.
He [Taliek] and Duhon also had nearly identical statistics this season. Duhon garnered ACC player of the year honors; Brown received Big East honorable mention. Brown wound up setting UConn's all-time career assists record (428), averaging a school-record 6.5 his senior season, and won nearly three-fourths of the games he started.
Food for thought, eh? Either Taliek deserved less criticism than we sent his way, Duhon merited more, or both.
Run for cover
Yesterday, I thought Kirk Snyder's decision to declare for the NBA draft made sense. Best to capitalize on this season's momentum (see my earlier post
making the same argument for Delonte West).
Now I've changed my mind. Turns out Snyder made up his mind after noting Danny Ainge's presence
in the stands at Nevada's final home game.
Ainge serves as the Boston Celtics' executive director of basketball operations. During his short tenure, he's traded away Antoine Walker, chased away Coach Jim O'Brien and pissed away Boston's playoff chances. If Ainge thinks Snyder should go, then by all means, the Nevada junior better stay.
Back when he played for the University of Massachusetts, the Minutemen won (a lot) more often than they lost.
Reason #214 to fire Steve Lappas
: His winning percentage makes Steve Lavin sound like a good alternative.
They Said It
"I think Coach [Calhoun] could talk himself out of being hijacked or robbed."
-- Connecticut's Rashad Anderson
Happy Computers Don't Decide
College Basketball's champion.
Otherwise, Duke would be crowned the nation's best. Final RPI ratings here
--Utah State, the "last team out" of the NCAA Tournament, finished up at 47.
--Michigan, winner of the NIT, wound up at 40.
To the NBA
Stanford junior Josh Childress, Mississippi State junior Lawrence Roberts and Nevada junior Kirk Snyder.
All three will be sorely missed.
Tuesday, April 06, 2004
Ouch. Will CBS & the NCAA learn?
According to the AP
, the men's basketball championship game drew the lowest rating since CBS began broadcasting the NCAA Tournament in 1982. Despite the championship game low, the overall ratings for the tournament were up 24 percent this year.
Next time, don't schedule the final during Passover. Grmph.
How Not to Celebrate
Courtesy the Armchair GM
and the AP
Let's hope folks are a little less rowdy tonight. I know the police are out in full force...
High School -> NBA?
Next year's final four may very well be decided next month.
A slew of talented high school seniors (as many as 10-12, by some estimates) will soon decide whether or not to skip college altogether. Those that do will seriously undermine championship prospects.
For example, North Carolina recruit and McDonald's All-American J.R. Smith is considering a jump to the NBA -- if an agent guarantees him a first-round spot. News and analysis at the "Hells, Sox & Steelers" Blog
. The quick and dirty
: If Smith matriculates, UNC is as good a bet as any for the Final Four. If he doesn't, the Heels short bench will make Roy Williams' club vulnerable in March.
Next Year's Top 25...
Andy Katz starts speculating
- Of Andy's top eight, one is from the SEC (Kansas), two are from the Big 10 (Illinois and Wisconsin) and five (!) are from the ACC (Duke, Georgia Tech, North Carolina, Wake Forest and Maryland). Wow.
- Andy has Notre Dame at 15. Yes, Chris Thomas is returning. Yes, Arizona transfer Dennis Latimore will be available. But after this season's poor showing, no, the Fighting Irish don't deserve a top 20 ranking.
- Andy puts a lot of faith in Rick Barnes' coaching abilities. Texas loses four senior starters at year's end. The Longhorns' ranking, at 21, is then a pure vote of confidence in the Texas coaching staff and the school's incoming recruits. A real stretch, in my eyes.
Worth a laugh
Via Chris Chase's Sports Blog
I hope Emeka Okafor enjoyed himself tonight. Because in about six months he’ll either be on the Hawks or the Bullets, playing to crowds of 6,000 people while getting assists from the likes of Chris Whitney.
The Sports Guy
Kept a running diary of the NCAA Championship Game
. So good!
The Top Three
6:28 -- You know, I think I'd pay $2,000 to hear Mike Tyson try to say the name "Luke Schenscher."
7:13 -- Tech clangs two free throws, then allows a long two at the buzzer. UConn heads into the half leading by 15. They're running the floor, hitting threes and forcing G-Tech to take bad shots. There's absolutely nothing else you need to know about this game. Nothing.
8:02 -- Nantz tells us that Ben Gordon was born on the same day N.C. State beat Houston in 1983. We're officially on Page 9 of CBS's "Garbage Time Notes" pamphlet.
If only Bill Simmons would start a blog...
Stay in School?
Mike DeCourcy doles out the advice
. He suggests N.C. State's Julius Hodge, St. Joe's Delonte West, Kansas' Wayne Simien, and Gonzaga's Ronny Turiaf return to school for their senior year.
I agree -- save West. DeCourcy is right, Delonte's size (6-4, 180) will probably make him a point guard in the NBA. But West is now a hot commodity. He played for a (temporary) national powerhouse, with a sure-fire NBA prospect, and impressed scouts with his creativity, passing, athleticism and outside shooting. If he goes today, he'll capitalize on this season's momentum. If he waits a year, he'll get lost in the shuffle.
Remember Miles Simon? After Arizona won the championship, he was rumored to be a lottery pick. Multiple mock drafts had him going at 10 or 11. But Simon returned for his senior year -- a not too shabby campaign where he put up solid numbers and led Arizona to a 1 seed and an Elite Eight appearance. Yet his star had faded, his fifteen minutes had come and gone, and Simon soon found himself a second round pick.
He has yet to contribute significant minutes to a single NBA franchise and today finds himself an basketball journeyman, playing in countries around the world.
With Jameer gone, Delonte may indeed get more opportunities to handle the ball, developing his point guard skills in the process. He may be a better NBA prospect after playing another year of college ball. But chances are, so was Simon.
Delonte should declare.
. Interested to know what kind of a spike Trey will see in the site's traffic.
Best of luck to the lady huskies! History in the making? Read on at the Women's Hoops Blog
Jim Calhoun -> Hall of Fame
Still in doubt? Rewind the tape.
A heavy pessimist? Pop in the tape of the '99 championship game against Duke.
Both national semifinal games were back-and-forth affairs. Close, competitive games whose winner wasn't decided until the closing moments.
The national final was neither close nor competitive.
We began the season believing Connecticut was bigger, deeper, stronger and more experienced than any other team in college basketball.
We ended the season knowing so -- the Huskies were more than Georgia Tech could handle. By halftime, the game was all but over.
Sorry for two slow days of blogging -- particularly so because the site has busier the last couple days.
Went to a wonderful Passover Seder tonight with family and friends. A good time. Great stories.
But terrible scheduling.
Congrats to the University of Connecticut. Thoughts and analysis to come.
Monday, April 05, 2004
St. John's Folly
Driving back from a little playground 'ball, I heard folks on my local sports radio station talking about Manhattan's Bobby Gonzalez.
Turns out Gonzalez is likely to wind up at the University of Miami rather than St. John's, as was initially expected. Why?
1) Several members of the New York press corps have taken to disliking Gonzalez -- and are making sure the president of St. John's hears their thoughts on the matter.
2) A New York brokerage firm with strong ties to St. John's and even stronger ties to the university's president has suggested Matt Doherty (!?!?!) be named the Red Storm's next head coach.
Neither of these developments bode well for St. John's. Importantly, they reflect poorly on the basketball program and the university. Neither the media nor the city's brokerage firms should be making decisions about the school's sports program.
As for Gonzalez, he can't go wrong. St. John's has a great recruiting base, a huge fan base and plays in a quality conference. Miami has a great recruiting sell, a potentially large fan base and plays in a great conference.
: Andy Katz is reporting
that a source close to Gonzalez said he isn't going to hold off Miami if the Hurricanes want to offer him the job. If Miami offers him the job before he interviews with St. John's, he would accept.
Sunday, April 04, 2004
The junior guard caught my eye last night long before his game winning basket.
Bynum played stifling defense against John Lucas. The Oklahoma State guard couldn't get by him, couldn't get around him and couldn't get away from him.
During his time at Arizona, Bynum rarely played defense.
Credit goes to Paul Hewitt (again).
They Said It
"Everyone calls me 'The Big Fundamental.' I work on my fundamentals, I don't have too much athleticism, natural athleticism anyway. But that's how I get more points and get people open."
--Georgia Tech's Luke Schenscher
"We will be back here next year. Write that down -- we will be back in the Final Four."
--Duke's J.J. Redick
"If you're building a program the right way, there's going to be steps. You don't go from zero to 60 in sports. It takes time."
--Georgia Tech's Paul Hewitt
"I'm just hurt right now. I was supposed to lock up, and I didn't. That's basically all you can say. Doesn't matter if I hit the shot, I didn't do my part on the other end."
--Oklahoma State's John Lucas
Did Calhoun outcoach Kryzewski?
seems to think so. His argument is that Connecticut's coach adjusted to the refs calling a tight game, whereas Duke's coach did not.
Coach K blamed this time on the refs, lambasting them at the end of the game: "You killed us. You killed us. You killed us. You killed us." Duke's coach stood by his call to keep his big men in the game despite the risk of picking up more fouls.
But while Coach K complained, Calhoun adjusted. He resisted temptation, kept his big man on the bench and ended up the game being able to exploit that Titanic mismatch. After losing for the seventh time in a Final Four, Coach K snapped at a media member, "Obviously you didn't see the game," after the reporter referred to Duke's loss as a "collapse." Calhoun did see the game. He saw there were 44 total fouls called, 22 in each half. He saw a game being called tight and stashed his best player on the bench.
In the end, he saw Okafor vs. Horvath. He saw a Player of the Year candidate do what he should, abuse a stiff reserve who hadn't scored in Duke's past two games. And now, Calhoun will see Monday night.
That being said, I would not look forward to playing the Dukies next season. Deng will a year wiser, as will his supporting cast. Losing Duhon won't have much of an impact...
On a night when the HuskyBlog
really ought to have better things to talk about, Trey chooses to remind us that Connecticut alum Kevin Ollie played 2 minutes
and had 0 rebounds, 0 assists and 0 points for the Cavaliers in a 103-100 loss to Golden State.
The Evil Empire
Amen. Thank you, Jim Calhoun.