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yoco :: College Basketball
(a sports weblog) news and commentary on men's college basketball and the ncaa tournament

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Saturday, September 11, 2004

Smart kids

play basketball too.

The SportsProf previews Princeton's season here. Joe Scott is in while Harrison Schaen is out (the later only for this year).

Probably the off-season's best blog post on Ivy League basketball.


lovely

Dave affirms DBR's judgement on the impact of Reggie Love's rejoining the Duke basketball team.

I concur. There's a big difference between playing with eight and playing with nine. Size, experience and versatility matter, as does having another quality player for team practices.

DBR suggests Love "could be the difference between a Sweet Sixteen team and a Final Four candidate." Emphasizing candidate, a darn fair assessment.


like a rock

The News & Record's Todd Graff captures Roy Williams taking his Olympic experience in stride. I was struck by Roy's common-sense reaction to Olympic competition and USA Basketball.


Friday, September 10, 2004

channel surfing

At long last, Gregg Doyel is up with 25 games he can't wait to see. Surprisingly, there is little overlap between his selections and my 90 games of must-see TV. Pourquoi?

Parce que Doyel focuses not on games between elite programs, but on duels between premier, rival or associated coaches, players or recruits. For example:

Ohio State at Clemson, Dec. 1: As a freshman and sophomore at Clemson, Tony Stockman was an out-of-control guard. Now a senior at Ohio State, Stockman is an out-of-control guard. Play nice, Clemson fans.

Notre Dame at Michigan, Dec. 4: Mike Brey vs. Tommy Amaker. Winner gets dibs on the Duke job.

Houston at Texas A&M, Dec. 29: Houston wanted Billy Gillispie. Texas A&M got him. Tom Penders and Dave Maggard, discuss.

Tennessee at Auburn, Jan. 29: The first SEC meeting between two of Dean Smith's boys, Buzz Peterson and Jeff Lebo. As an aside, when Peterson got the Vols job a few years back, the runner-up was Lebo.

As evident from my excerpt, Doyel has a knack for wit and sarcasm (though he rarely employed either to such an extensive degree in previous columns). His commentary on the games above and several others is right on target, successfully highlighting several of this season's most interesting single-game storylines.

But a storyline does not a quality game make. VCU at UAB? I could care less about Jeff Capel and Mike Anderson's conversation. USC at UNC? I foresee a twenty or thirty point blowout in Chapel Hill. Minnesota at Purdue? I've seen enough of Gene Keady at Mackey Arena. Come February, I hope to avoid watching teams bound for neither the NIT nor the NCAA Tournament. Viewing two mediocre clubs play one another? Please.

That being said, several of Gregg's suggestions warrant an update to my list. I'll also use this opportunity to add a key Husky road game.

Must See TV (6 more), By Date
11/26Memphisvs.Maryland12/05Manhattan@N.C. State
11/27Floridavs.Providence12/11Indianavs.Kentucky
12/04Notre Dame@Michigan01/10Connecticut@Oklahoma



busted?

Despite its name, ESPN's signature event for mid-majors has yet to help the case of even a handful of lesser-known teams on Selection Sunday.

"Bracket Buster" games, however, remain a must-see for March Madness enthusiasts. For many, Saturday's event is their first opportunity to see the squads most likely to pull off the inevitable but unpredictable 4-13, 5-12 or 6-11 tournament upsets.

February 19th. Save the date.


Thursday, September 09, 2004

harold minor!

Dick Vitale just took me on a pleasant trip down memory lane. Remember USC's "Baby Jordan," Harold Minor? How about UNLV's "Ice," Stacey Augmon? Or Providence's "Man of Steal," Eric Murdock?

Bonus points to the reader who can identify a player not on Vitale's list, the "Gaza Stripper." The geographical reference should help...


They Said It

"ESPN is more than a channel to a lot of people. It's a lifestyle. It's like chocolate or heroin to some people."
-- Syracuse University professor Robert Thompson, an expert in TV culture


Great national coverage

of a local turn-around effort. If Jeff succeeds at Auburn, will Andy Katz call him the Lebovitch?


he doesn't call himself

the SportsProf for nothing. R.D. has a very good post on the Bob Knight sitcom. He is, however, much too skeptical. The highlight:

Why is Coach Knight doing this? Let's give a Jim Harrick, Jr.-like multiple choice question:

a) for the money;
b) because it's fun;
c) because he can;
d) because he shouldn't, but no one can tell him what to do; or
e) because the naughty little man dancing around on his left shoulder just threw a chair at the good little man on his right shoulder and knocked him out; or
f) because he has converted to the dark side and actually desires to become a part of some media?



Wednesday, September 08, 2004

he takes his chances

every chance he gets? Not exactly. But Tubby's Smith's decision to make forward Korvotney Barber his No. 1 recruiting target without ever having seen him play is quite a risk. Had Kentucky signed either Tyler Hansbrough (UNC) or Tasmin Mitchell (LSU), the Wildcats might not find themselves in such an unfortunate position.

In Tubby you trust?


happy, happy,

joy, joy.

ESPN will launch a new multimedia college sports initiative in March 2005 that includes a new 24-hour television network and content from ESPN.com and ESPN The Magazine...ESPNU television network will carry approximately 300 games live -- primarily Division I football and men's and women's basketball -- in the first year.



wise woman

Time to give DePaul AD Jean Lenti Ponsetto a pat on the back. Well done.


pressure cooker

Mike DeCourcy just wrote-up Florida's late-season collapse and off-season adjustments.

[Billy] Donovan believes his most important mission is establishing a defensive identity for the Gators. His defensive identity. Which means they're planning a return to the pressing style abandoned during the past three years because of a lack of depth and personnel that didn't seem to fit that approach.

Playing zone and halfcourt man defense wasn't working. SEC opponents shot 44.8 percent and outrebounded the Gators by 2.9 per game. Florida's work in the pre-tour practices was mostly on defense -- introducing players, including key freshmen Corey Brewer and Taurean Green, to the mechanics of pressing.

Sounds great, no? The Gators' two most significant problems last spring, however, were selfishness and laziness. Both qualities that make a pressure defense counterproductive.

Donovan is betting the farm. He's hoping running the press will force his players to play up to their potential. Perhaps. But if he's wrong, watch for either (a) Billy to abandom his new quick fix or (b) several clubs to post unexpectedly large victories against the Gators.


Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Hello. Sorry to wake you, but

this is Bob Huggins calling with the University of Cincinnati. My coaching staff and I have been really impressed...

Huggins is back from his "paid suspension." Read about his return here, here and here. The most interesting tidbit?

The 50-year-old coach said he telephoned recruits just after midnight upon being restored to his job.

Better a workaholic than an alcoholic.


Monday, September 06, 2004

What's the Matta

with Bowling Green?

Nothing. Ron Lewis, the Falcons' leading scorer last year, just announced his intent to transfer to Ohio State. A coup for new coach Thad Matta and, according to the Bowling Green News, a matter of admirable "conviction and character" for Lewis, an NBA hopeful, and coach Dan Dakich. The local paper also praised Dakich for sticking to his guns rather than acquiesce to Lewis' request to play point guard. (Though the Toledo Blade's John Harris criticized Dan for his rigidity, suggesting coaches at mid-major programs ought to adjust to star players' demands).

Which leaves me more than a bit surprised. It's not often a team's best player leaves on amicable terms with his coach.


Sunday, September 05, 2004

tommy!

I must admit I was a skeptic.

After all, four years at Seton Hall had yielded little more than a 68-55 record. Including a disastrous final season of potential gone wasted and team chemistry gone awry. Coaching Andre Barrett, Eddie Griffin, and Marcus Toney-El, Tommy Amaker could do no better than a first-round NIT exit. When Amaker went (mid-)west, I figured he was abandoning one rebuilding failure to commence another.

But after three years at Michigan, the Amaker project can be (prematurely) termed a success. Although he has amassed only a 52-41 record in Ann Arbor, Tommy has successfully built for the future and repaired the school's image. Of the nine Wolverines who played significant minutes for the NIT Champs this past season, eight are back for this year's campaign. Led by Daniel Horton, the Wolverines have the size and skills to compete with the country's best and should early on establish themselves in the Top 25. Further, according to Mike DeCourcy, Michigan's 2005 recruiting class is in "great shape" and Amaker is primed for a "huge" 2006 class.

Among the 2005 signees is Jerret Smith. Asked why he chose Michigan, Smith responded, "There were a couple other schools that recruited me, but [I chose Michigan] basically because of [Amaker] and the relationship he has with the kids." Sound familiar? Michigan freshman Ron Coleman echoes a similar theme, "When coach [Tommy] Amaker came here and started turning around the program, I knew this was the place for me. He's a great coach, and I really think he'll help me take that next step."

Fair enough. But will the Wolverines take the next step? The Detroit News' Jim Spadafore believes Amaker's club will learn from and capitalize on its late-season success. Drawing parallels between two NIT Champs, Michigan's 1983-1984 squad and the school's 2003-2004 edition, Spadafore suggests the Wolverines are ready for a run in the NCAA Tournament. I agree. Along with Horton, Lester Abram, Chris Hunter, Dion Harris, Courtney Sims, Graham Brown and Brent Petway give Amaker a corps of offensive weapons. Solid team play (lacking at Seton Hall, but in abundance at Michigan) on defense will put the club over the top, enabling a selection committee invitation to go dancing in March.

Then is Tommy Amaker's success in Ann Arbor a done deal? In his own words:

"There's an old saying, and I've said it before, I think we might be on the right track, but if you stand still you'll get run over. I think we have the nucleus of some really good things to come for our program. We really like the players we have, the kind of kids that they are. But we still have to continue to get better."

Amen.


fyi, 2004-2005, part III


Must See TV (another random 18), By Date
12/07 Pittsburgh vs. Memphis 02/08 Boston College @ Notre Dame
12/07 Syracuse vs. Oklahoma State 02/12 Notre Dame @ Pittsburgh
12/11 Oregon vs. Illinois 02/19 Syracuse @ Boston College
01/05 Boston College @ Connecticut 02/22 Texas @ Texas Tech
01/20 Syracuse @ Notre Dame 02/02 Connecticut @ Pittsburgh
01/22 Pittsburgh @ Connecticut 02/26 Stanford @ Oregon
01/27 Michigan @ Michigan State 02/28 Pittsburgh @ Boston College
01/29 Syracuse @ Pittsburgh 03/05 Syracuse @ Connecticut
02/07 Connecticut @ Syracuse 03/05 Washington @ Stanford

This makes 90. (My first 42 games to watch. My second 30). More to come.