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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 25, 2004


Ladies and gentlemen of the Cincinnati Post, is this really the best photo you have on file for new Xavier coach Sean Miller?

College Basketball Preseason Rankings

Pundit or MagazineAndy KatzGregg DoyelYoni CohenAndy KatzDick VitaleDime MagSlam MagPMI's ACCBlue RibbonLindy's MagWeighted** Composite
Wake Forest76314134121
Georgia Tech32247241393
North Carolina614421527434
Oklahoma State191817613107122119
Michigan StateNR5715514131912812
Mississippi State122018112212162091814
Notre Dame15162116141821*NR171318
N.C. State142212NR202124*1118NR21

*Slam Magazine ranked only the Top 20. Rather than exclude their rankings, I made selections 21-25 on their behalf.
**The "Weighted" composite gives each of the three pre-NBA Draft rankings half as much weight as each of the seven post-NBA Draft rankings.

Street & Smith's hits newsstands on Tuesday. I’ll have their rankings on Monday and will produce and post an updated table. But since a large number of folks have begun querying Google for “College Basketball Preseason Rankings,” “College Hoops Preseason Rankings,” and “College Basketball Polls,” I figured I should today post what I had.

Midnight Madness: Do folks mistake you

for Gary Williams? Then I suggest you enter the look-alike contest by emailing a picture of yourself to Maryland's athletic department.

Deadline is October 10th. Finalists will be invited to the Comcast Center for a competition prior to the Terrapins' first practice.

Link via the Georgia Tech Sports Blog. Thanks Scott!

Friday, September 24, 2004

deep throat

Woah. Andy Katz writes that the word from Arizona has Mohamed Tangara giving Isiah Fox a run for his money as the two compete for the final spot in the 'Cats starting lineup. Tangara is playing very well in practice.

Former Wildcat forward Pete Williams was on hand and loved what he saw in Tangara. “I’ve always loved the tag ‘best rebounder in the Olson era’, but he could take it away from me,” Williams confessed.

Mohamed was a highly regarded recruit but, at the time of his signing, wasn't expected to be an impact player in his freshman year. I'm surprised to learn he's already neck and neck with an experienced, energetic and well-respected fifth-year senior. A win-win decision for silver-haired Lute. (To whom I wish a belated happy birthday).

A couple years back, the pundits routinely wrote of an Arizona squad that had two Top 25 starting fives. This year's club is too young to merit a similar assessment, but with Tangara as the fifth starter, the Wildcats' bench would field Chris Rodgers, Jawan McClellan, Jesus Verdejo, a much-improved Ivan Radenovic and Isiah Fox. Taking in-season development into account, a borderline NCAA Tournament team.

Go Buy

Lindy's 2004-2005 College Basketball preview.

Why the love? Unlike Athlon Sports and Street & Smith's, Lindy's was kind enough to respond to my request that they email me their preseason rankings.


1. Illinois
2. Wake Forest
3. North Carolina
4. Kansas
5. Connecticut
6. Kentucky
7. Syracuse
8. Michigan State
9. Georgia Tech
10. Arizona
11. Oklahoma State
12. Texas
13. Notre Dame
14. Alabama
15. Washington
16. Maryland
17. Gonzaga
18. Mississippi State
19. Pittsburgh
20. Louisville
21. Duke
22. Utah
23. Wisconsin
24. Michigan
25. UAB
26. Boston College
27. Cincinnati
28. Florida
29. Stanford
30. Xavier
31. Princeton
32. N.C. State
33. DePaul
34. Oklahoma
35. Memphis
36. Texas Tech
37. UTEP
38. Oregon
39. Nevada
40. Marquette

lefty’s legacy

Among his many contributions, Lefty Driesell left us with Midnight Madness. Since Maryland basketball players first gathered for an early-morning practice in 1970, America’s Division I colleges and universities have dreamed up several attention-getting ploys for their fun-loving fan base.

The most famous is Cincinatti’s “Tuition Shot." In 1994, Cory Clouse made a half-court shot at the Bearcats’ Midnight Madness, earning himself a year's tuition, room and board and sending Dick Vitale into a frenzy.

I. Can’t. Wait. For October 15th and Midnight Madness.

Hopefully, however, all of this year’s participants will be able to avoid the unfortunate fate that befell Idaho State’s David Schroeder last fall.

POCATELLO - It took less than 30 minutes for Idaho State's basketball season to go from promising to in doubt.

David Schroeder, arguably the Big Sky's most explosive athlete, ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament just a few minutes into the Midnight Madness basketball practice. An athletic perimeter defender and a deadly 3-point shooter, Schroeder was lost for the season.

The Bengals never really recovered from that loss as a lack of depth prevented ISU from playing the aggressive style of defense needed to survive a season in the Big Sky.

Add the lack of post depth to a brutal non-conference schedule and Idaho State's chances for success were limited.


is the sincerest form of flattery. Scroll down to the end of this News & Observer piece about N.C. State signee Brandon Costner for Dave Telep's thoughts.

breathe out

MSG is good for St. John's. No need to worry.

Should I be counting

the number of days CNN/SI has gone without updating its frontpage for college basketball? (Stories off the AP Wire don't count).

Take a guess how long their "Who is your favorite college hoops analyst?" poll has been up?

59 days. And counting.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

They Said It

"If there are perks to my job, I presume that the president gets guaranteed tickets to the basketball games."
--Richard Brodhead, former dean of Yale College, at the press conference announcing his appointment last December to serve as Duke University's next president


The last two coaches to win the national championship had prostate cancer. Including Jim Boeheim.

They Said It

"Doug Wojcik has an impressive resume that puts him in position to possibly be the next head coach to come out of Michigan State. With his experience, it was good to expand his duties. He has shown outstanding ability in recruiting, game preparation and strategy and organizational skills. These skills make him an attractive coach for an athletic director looking for a coach to lead a basketball program."
-- Spartans' coach Tom Izzo, after Wojcik was promoted to associate head coach

neither here nor there

Lindy's is due to hit the news stands this week with its annual College Basketball Preview issue. It is past time the annual mags go online…Rutgers University men's basketball coach Gary Waters has signed a two-year contract extension through 2010. A wise move by the school's administration. Waters is as good a coach as Rutgers will have in today’s NCAA…Mike DeCourcy asks us to keep an eye on Western Kentucky freshman Courtney Lee. Will do. But Lee will be no Chris Marcus…Quin Snyder has a lot of skills, but contrary to Jason Whitlock’s column, providing “thoughtful and insightful analysis” is not one of them...Desmond Mason's high-flying antics were the highlight of the Oklahoma State men’s basketball alumni game. The reunion was wisely timed to allow prospective players to observe the program's past as they are invited to become its future.


A bic pen can't pick this lock to coach future USA Basketball squads. Here's why:

[Bracey] Wright's coach this summer, Kelvin Sampson of Oklahoma, wanted to forge the best U.S. team even if that meant not grabbing the 12 most talented players at his disposal.

To get his point across, Sampson's final test during tryouts came not on the court, but in a hotel room. Late at night, one by one, players were called into a room occupied by Sampson and his assistant coaches. The room was dark except for one lamp at a desk. Like each player before him, Wright was directed to sit at the table. Sampson was sitting on the other side. This was not a Hallmark moment. This was an interrogation.

"It was pretty spooky," Wright said. "The coaches start asking you all these questions." Bracey, you've been the star on every team you've ever played for. How will you react if you don't get a lot of playing time? What will you do on the bench? Will you support the players on the court?

"I guess the players were some of the best players in the country, but not everybody is going to play all those minutes," Wright said. "The coaches wanted to see how we'd react."

Doesn't sound like Kelvin is a "players' coach" to me. Seems he is one smart cookie. Were he and Billy Donovan to trade places, Florida would be a Final Four regular and Oklahoma a Big 12 doormat.

Get Acquainted

with Jon Brockman. If the Seattle-area power forward, one of the most dominating high school big men in the country, selects Washington over Duke, he'll send a loud and clear message to the Pac-10. Lorenzo Romar and Washington have arrived.

The Huskes will be more than Nate-Rob. More than a late-season hot streak. More than a 75-62 victory over No. 1 and previously undefeated Stanford in last year's final regular-season game. More than an NCAA Tournament appearance. A budding March Madness regular.

Too bad I missed "Lorenzo Romar, Before the Bigs." Pun and prediction intended (see this post’s opening sentence).

the price is right

Three days ago I wrote about the success Steve Fisher is having at San Diego State. I ended the post by linking to an article chronicling the roadblocks he had encountered while trying to sign a quality big man for a mid-major program. That was then.

This is now:

What should ultimately prove one of the top recruiting classes in San Diego State basketball history added another name yesterday when Fullerton High standout Brett Hoerner chose the Aztecs over two Pac-10 schools.

Hoerner, a 6-foot-11 forward rated the nation's No. 51 prep player by Hoop Alliance scouting service, canceled official visits to Arizona State and Washington.

When it rains

it pours on St. John's basketball.

St. John's and the Garden have hit significant snags in negotiations over a future contract. The contract expired after last season, and the parties have been unable to reach agreement on a new deal. The parties have been working under a goodwill understanding, and the games for the upcoming season are not in jeopardy.

But if a new deal can't be reached, it would be a lose-lose for both down the road, with St. John's being the biggest loser. The Red Storm's single greatest recruiting tool is playing in the World's Most Famous Arena. St. John's plays the majority of its Big East home games there, and it's usually the first reason given by players who sign with St. John's.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

They Said It

"We're going and we're not there to collect autographs. We will play for 40 minutes and give it everything."
-- University of Illinois Chicago's Martell Bailey on the Flames appearance in the NCAA tournament


to Richmond's scheduler. S/he put together a near-perfect schedule for a likely bubble team from the A-10.

One gimme (Elon), three opportunities for a big-time upset (Pittsburgh, Wake Forest and a likely game against Arizona), three quality opponents who may also find themselves on the bubble (Butler, VCU, and UAB) and three very beatable clubs from elite conferences (Seton Hall, Virginia, and Colorado). Further, the schedule ebbs and flows nicely, allowing Richmond to adequately prepare for and recuperate from big games.

Point Taken?

Via the HuskyBlog, an article on Marcus Williams. (Via the Seattle Times, an article about a different Marcus Williams).

Last season Marcus was declared academically ineligible. As a result, he missed the Huskies' run through the NCAA Tournament. Despite his teammates' success, Marcus won't receive a championship ring.

If Williams is bitter about this, it does not show.

The sophomore guard responded with a solid spring semester academically and has emerged as the man most likely to take the ball when the Huskies begin defense of their national championship.

He seems determined to seize the opportunity.

But will he? Matt Eagan's report is favorable, but I find plenty of cause for concern. First, Marcus struggled last year when trying to run the offense in slow-tempo games. Second, his academic troubles cost him valuable experience in big-time tournament games. Third, the challenge to his starting spot posed by Freshmen A.J. Price and Antonio Kellogg will be a constant distraction. If he falters early and is replaced by either freshman for even a half, I'm not confident Marcus has the maturity to respond appropriately.


At Texas, Rick Barnes' club gets second billing. Ouch.

Nine months before his first game for the University of Texas, Cedric Benson already was as popular as any Longhorn football player.

More than 32,000 fans showed up at Royal-Memorial Stadium to see the superstar running back play his final high school game on a December afternoon four years ago — far outnumbering the 4,000 who watched a Longhorn basketball game in the nearby Erwin Center that day, much to the public annoyance of basketball Coach Rick Barnes.


Ken Pomeroy's analysis is always interesting (and usually right) because he reaches his conclusions based upon hard data. But in his latest post he seems to reach hard data from his conclusions.

Maybe Vytas Danelius won't live up to expectations and return from an injury-riddled junior season to make a significant contribution for Wake Forest. But Ken's observation that last year the Deamon Deacons went 2-3 in the games where Danelius played the most and 4-1 when he played the least doesn't really cut against the reasons Skip Prosser is eager for Vytas' return. Namely (a) that Danelius was a workhorse this summer, improving his post play and conditioning, and (b) that Danelius has fully recovered from the injuries that slowed him throughout last season (including the games cited by Pomeroy).


How can Gary Williams fail to mention John Gilchrist in his latest interview with Maryland's student newspaper? He did, however, answer a question about the big fella.

The Diamondback: I hear the Italians were quite impressed with [6'10", 288 lb.] Hassan Fofana?

Williams: It was amazing. You were walking this way and then you went by a group of people, and you'd have to turn back, and they'd all be staring at Hassan. It's not just his height. It's that he's so wide. He's just big. He's just a big person. For me, being around the guys, you just forget how big they are sometimes until you get out into the real world.

athletic success & alumni donations

yes positive relationship.

no positive relationship.

And the beat goes on. As will the "arms race" between athletic departments.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004


tournament chatter

Regional games throughout America, then semifinals and a championship game at Madison Square Garden. The new Coaches vs. Cancer tournament format is eerily similar to the pre-season NIT format.

The only structural difference? Coaches vs. Cancer has the same four teams host both first and second round games (or, alternatively, "host a four-team regional") while the pre-season NIT has eight teams host first round games and four teams host second round games.

My bibliography

for an upcoming post.

Doyel, Gregg. "H-Town, we have a candidate for you." CBS Sportline. Mar. 9, 2004.

O'Keefe, John. "Whiz-kid Coach; At age 25, hoops-obsessed Arizona assistant Josh Pastner is on the fast track to a top job." Sports Illusrated. Feb. 3, 2003.

Wojciechowski, Gene. "Pastner Games." ESPN (The Magazine). Apr. 1, 2001.

A preview quote:

"I blame my parents if I don't get this job. They had me in 1977 instead of 1967."
-- Arizona assistant Josh Pastner, after he interviewed for the head coaching vacancy at the University of Houston

Putting the Student back into Student-Athlete

I would hope. Chip's piece focuses on football, but the "arms race" applies to basketball as well.

For years, coaches impressed recruits with the number of seats in the stadium or the square footage of the weight room. But there's a new element in that game of one-upmanship. More schools are beginning to tout the number of computer workstations, study rooms and tutorial assistants in their academic support units...

MSU's Clara Bell Smith Student Athlete Academic Support Center, financed by former Spartans basketball star Steve Smith to honor his mother, was one of the nation's first such facilities, opening in 1998. "When [former MSU football coach] Nick Saban got to LSU, the first thing he asked for was an academic support center," Marlowe said. "And he got it."

Oh No They Didn't

Oh Yes They Did.

I Know What You Did

Last Summer.

Reading Mike DeCourcy's column about the summer workouts of Travis Garrison, Chris Quinn, and Curtis Stinson is fundamental. Not a slam dunk, but fundamental.


Ken Pomeroy earlier cautioned mid- and low-major schools to stop whining about how hard it is to schedule quality teams. Fair enough.

But now Butler Coach Todd Lickliter is waiting for Ken's apology.

Butler was close to contracting games this season against North Carolina, Michigan and Stanford. All pulled out of tentative agreements. Instead, Butler's recently released schedule includes opponents such as South Dakota State (new to Division I) and Greenville College (Division III).

They Said It

"Gary [Williams] is the most popular person in the state. Gary can get his phone calls returned from anybody at any time."
-- John Brophy, chairman of the University of Maryland College Park Foundation

Monday, September 20, 2004

Blogging Well Means Knowing When

To Say You're Sorry. For not earlier commenting on De'Angelo Alexander's departure for Charlotte.

After undergoing offseason shoulder reconstruction with Oklahoma's medical staff in early April, Alexander announced his decision to transfer to Charlotte in early June.

He will be sorely missed. Last year, Alexander averaged nearly 10 points and 5 rebounds for the Sooners. This year, the sophomore was expected to star for Kelvin Sampson's club. His departure will likely cost Oklahoma an invitation to a certain March dance.

Strangely, De'Angelo's rationale made little sense.

Alexander said future playing time was partly responsible for his decision. He did not elaborate.

Alexander played in all 31 of the Sooners games last season and started 17. He spent much of the season coping after dislocating his right shoulder in the Sooners' first practice last fall, but still played more minutes than every Sooner except leading scorers Drew Lavender and Jason Detrick.


Shalom Mr. Berkowitz. Welcome to Marquette. Meet Mustafa Shakur, Salim Stoudamire and Hassan Adams.

Niv Berkowitz, son of Israeli hoops legend Mickey Berkowitz, plans to suit up for the Marquette Golden Eagles this year after notifying the school of his intentions Monday. The 18-year-old, who has already received a deferral from the IDF for his military service, still must pass either the ACT or SAT college entrance exam and would not be eligible to study or play before the school's second semester. His first game would be Marquette's 10th of the season on December 18 against Arizona.

Berkowitz will back up Travis Diener in the Golden Eagles' game against the 'Cats. A pleasant trial by fire.

Where Are They Now? Must See (Lithuanian) TV

Ed Cota, ladies and gentlemen. The Lithuanian highlights.

Click. On. This. Link.

Fisher Price

In 1999, when former Michigan coach Steve Fisher was hired to lead San Diego State, the Aztecs' last postseason appearance was in 1985. Five years ago, drawing a mere 3,000 fans a game, SDSU basketball was unable to fill Cox Arena, the school’s gym (capacity 12,414).

Several years later, the Aztecs draw an average of nearly 10,000 a game, selling out occasionally. Under Fisher’s direction, San Diego State went to the NCAA tournament in 2002 and the NIT in 2003 -- the first time in school history the Aztecs have played in the postseason in consecutive years.

Capitalizing on the school’s success, Fisher recently signed small forward Kyle Spain, a Bay Area high schooler ranked among the nation’s Top 100 players. Coach also brought in two highly touted recruits for official visits. Point guard Byron Eaton, a Texan rated among the nation's Top 25 players, and wing Kashif Watson, a Las Vegas high schooler seen as among the West’s best, both toured SDSU in early September.

Each might soon find themselves playing in the “San Diego Slam,” the Fisher-envisioned marquee regular season tournament that just became a reality. A couple of years in the making, the first Slam will take place this December 11th and feature USD against USC in the opener and SDSU against Cal in the nightcap.

Fisher’s reward for engineering a successful turn-around? A new contract. Now if only he could erase last year's 14-16 campaign or sign a premier big man...

Happy belated birthday

to Louisville coach Rick Pitino (September 18). A young 52.


Mine. Earned.

He's OK and willing to talk about the injuries now, but back during the 2003-04 season Gerry McNamara kept everything under wraps.

The injured shoulder. The pulled groin. The stress fracture in his pelvic bone.

McNamara sealed his lips and tightly wrapped his aching body, never missing a game as Syracuse advanced to the NCAA Tournament's Sweet 16. "I didn't let out that I hurt really bad," McNamara said recently. "Once you get out there, there's no excuses. You have to fight through it."

So McNamara gritted his teeth. He stretched his tender left groin before every practice and every game. He ignored the pain that shot through his left leg every time he landed after taking a jump shot. He applied ice to his right shoulder after every game, looking like a pitcher who had just thrown 120 pitches.

I never knew. But I find G-Mac's toughness quite admirable. Maybe I ought to be more positive in my assessment of Syracuse basketball?

Sunday, September 19, 2004

I See You See

Tubby finally saw No. 1 recruiting target Korvotney Barber play in person.

Barber's signing is a matter of when, not if.

Barber admitted that he thought about offering Smith a commitment on the spot, but he has decided to continue with his visits. He already has toured Georgia and plans trips to Auburn and Florida State. Tennessee also could get a visit.

"Coach Smith said I should take my visits and make sure I find the right place for me," Barber said. "Right now Kentucky is looking like a great school for me — a great situation for me."

Timing is Everything

Last year, Fox Sports online merged with the Sporting News online.
This year, the two merged with MSN Sports online.

Yet today, the online poll on the MSN/Fox Sports/TSN website for college basketball is "Did Coach K make the right decision?" Ugh.

Hot Seat?

Not long ago, Iowa’s Steve Alford was a rising star in the coaching profession. After guiding Southwest Missouri State to the Sweet Sixteen, the two-time All-American was hired to replace Iowa's winningest coach, Tom Davis. Within two years, his Hawkeyes had won a big Ten Tournament title.

Iowa's Steve Alford, on the hot seat?But then his fortunes turned sour. Expected to contend for the conference title the following year, Iowa went 5-11 in conference. The year after, Alford's crew went 7-9, their fourth consecutive sub-.500 regular season of Big 10 play. Then this past year, despite a winning record and a fourth place finish in conference, the Hawkeyes again failed to make the NCAA Tournament.

Asked in March whether Alford, under contract until 2009, was at risk, Iowa athletics director Bob Bowlsby responded, "If I saw signs that led me to believe we weren't making progress, and we weren't going to make progress, then that's a time when I would have to take action...I see progress." Do you?

Alford's Record at Iowa

Pool o' Experts

Via an old associate (of sorts), Salon's King Kaufman.

Inspired by the "irritating hubris" of Sports Illustrated's magazine bracket, King last spring assembled an all-star cast for his second annual Pool o' Experts.

The winner? Broadcaster Tim Brando.

Review the results below. Food for thought as you read and listen to the punditry of each of the below-mentioned commentators.

The final standings, with point totals, based on 10 points for each correct pick in the first round, then 20, 40, 80, 120 and 160 in subsequent rounds:

1. Tim Brando, Sporting News/CBS: 1,190
2. Tony Mejia, CBS.SportsLine.com: 970
3. Sports Illustrated: 940
4. Grant Wahl, Sports Illustrated: 930
4. John Salley, Fox Sports Net: 930
6. King Kaufman, Salon: 850
7. Mike DeCourcy, Sporting News: 740
8. Alexander Wolff, Sports Illustrated: 720
8. Seth Davis, Sports Illustrated/CBS: 720
10. NCAA Selection Committee: 700
11. Stewart Mandel, Sports Illustrated: 690
12. Buster, Coinflip Weekly: 520

the fixins?

or not.