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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, October 23, 2004

thin devils

Attempting to minimize the impact of a short bench, Duke's Mike Krzyzewski has put his Blue Devils on a very, very strenuous summer-conditioning program. As a result, J.J. Redick is down from 215 to 192 pounds and Daniel Ewing is rumored to have gained the quickness necessary to play any one of several positions.

But while an intense summer might enable Duke to camaflouge its woes for a half, it shouldn't allow the Blue Devils to completely negate their inherent depth disadvantage over the course of an entire game. Not when Coach K is considering playing 6'3" DeMarcus Nelson as a "second big man" alongside Shelden Williams or Shavlik Randolph.


The coming basketball season has happily led to a proliferation of new college basketball blogs, including Herman Veal Chops (Maryland), the aforementioned Phog Blog (Kansas) and the slick (new to me) Ducks Basketball Blog (Oregon).

Props to Zak at the Ducks Blog for attending Oregon's Media Day (and snapping a few good looking shots of Ernie Kent's players). But his best blogging is straight out of the rumor mill.

Aaron Brooks wanted to wear #1 this year. There was a problem, Ernie Kent told Malik that he could wear it. Aaron is going to wear #0 this year (he wore #00, in '03-04). Originally he wanted to wear #30 but that number was retired for Ron Lee.

Sucks to be Brooks, no? Losing out to a freshman.

on the other hand

Does Bob Huggins get a bad rap?

Bob Huggins speaks in almost a whisper when he talks about the work he does in the community. "I just thought that's what everybody was supposed to do," Huggins said. "I thought you were supposed to give back to the community. I grew up like that."

Huggins has been one of the most active of this area's athletic celebrities when it comes to donating his time and fund-raising ability to local charitable causes. He began his fund-raising efforts by hosting the Bob Huggins Celebrity Golf Classic to benefit the Arthritis Foundation. He has raised an estimated $400,000 for that organization, according to Bill Mulvihill, senior associate athletic director at UC and a trustee emeritus of the Arthritis Foundation.

It was Mulvihill who first enlisted Huggins' help in raising money for arthritis research, which in turn got him involved in other community projects." He not only raised money," Mulvihill said, "he raised awareness of arthritis as a disease…He's done a lot more than anybody would know."



Terrell Owens calls his days as a member of his college basketball team the happiest time of his life.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Fun "things"

about new Utah coach Ray Giacoletti, courtesy Gordon Monson and the Salt Lake Tribune. First 15 here. Second 15 here.

Ray has big sweaters to fill. These are among my favorite things:

4. Giacoletti, 42, learned harsh lessons in the realities of economic ebb and flow growing up in East Peoria, Ill., where almost everyone was employed by heavy equipment manufacturer Caterpillar. When the company struggled in the late '70s and early '80s, it affected everybody, including his father, Ray, who owned a small business. "The people there were hard-working," he says. "And I learned from that. But they were vulnerable. I remember a billboard in East Peoria that read: 'Will the last one out of town please shut off the lights?'”

7. Giacoletti vacations almost every year with a tight-knit group of friends -- along with their wives -- who also happen to be basketball coaches. Among them: Mark Few of Gonzaga and Minnesota's Dan Monson.

13. Unlike his predecessor at Utah, Giacoletti is not a big food and buffet guy. "Give me soup and salad," he says. "Give me leftovers."

15. Giacoletti can recruit. One source close to the Eastern Washington program puts it this way: "We're in Cheney. Cheney is a dump. If he can recruit kids here, he should have no trouble getting them to Salt Lake City."



I never liked Chris Duhon.

"They're not good anymore -- either one."

Lorenzo Perez penned a great first paragraph for his latest article.

N.C. State junior forward Ilian Evtimov chose a black knee brace as his accessory of choice for his basketball media day appearance Wednesday.

Reporters who had lost track of which injury the brace was serving -- the repaired anterior cruciate ligament that cost him the 2002-03 season or the cartilage damage he suffered last summer during a pickup game -- needed Evtimov's help clarifying which now qualifies as his "good" knee.

"They're not good anymore -- either one," Evtimov said and smiled.

For the record, Evtimov’s health could be the difference between a first and second weekend NCAA Tournament exit for the Wolfpack.

Under The

Knife. Here's wishing Villanova center Jason Fraser a successful operation. He's undergoing surgery today on his left knee.

Breaking New Ground


The Mid-American Conference's new director of basketball operations, Dan Hughes, said at Thursday's media day that while referees around the country have been told to crack down on rough post play and contact away from the ball, they may also call technical fouls on coaches who are too tough on their players.

If an official considers a coach to be cursing at or overly berating a player, that coach can be whistled for a technical foul. It will be administered as usual, meaning the opposing team will be awarded two free throws and the ball.

Referees should reprimand coaches like porcupines make love -- very, very carefully. Because if the rule Hughes cites is enforced frequently, I fear a severe backlash from the bench. And rightly so. Athletic directors, not officials, should be primarily responsible for managing and policing their staff's conduct.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

It took two weeks, but

Joe Lunardi finally commented on the NCAA's decision to weigh road games more than home games in an "adjusted RPI."

Immediately after Seth Davis went public with the tournament committee's intent to incorporate the home-road factor into the RPI, I called on bloggers and statisticians to crack the code and learn the exact formula the NCAA will employ on Selection Sunday.

In his latest column, ESPN's "Bracketologist" gives it a go.

How would this translate numerically into an RPI rating? Since we know that home teams win roughly two-thirds of the time in Division I, a road victory should be worth about twice as much as winning at home (because, by the numbers, it is twice as hard to achieve).

I'm guessing the new NCAA formula won't go that far (essentially saying that road wins are worth 1.50 victories and home wins are only 0.75), as this would be too dramatic a departure from the "known" without sufficient study of the unknown effects. But we can at least split the difference and reprogram Factor I (winning percentage) to, say, 1.2 "equivalent victories" for road wins and 0.8 equivalent victories for those at home. Similarly, road losses would count as only 0.8 while losing at home would count 1.2.

Sounds sensible enough. Though the devil is in the details. As Seth Davis had noted, both the home-road neutral RPI and the "adjusted RPI" will be made available to the tournament committee. The importance they assign of each -- along with the weights assigned to home and road games in the "adjusted RPI” -- will go a long way in determining which schools go dancing and which schools stay home.

Syracuse and Pittsburgh


The Business of America

Have eight bucks to spare? Lack self-esteem -- and hold Bill Self in high esteem?

Then purchase his autographed business card on Ebay.
Coach Self’s Business Card
Via the Phog Blog.



Purely and simply, Arizona's chances for another national championship are Salim and none.

Read on. Though the poem Simpson cites to start his article is a bit much.

Weeks turn into years and quickly pass
And all the stars that never were
Are parkin' cars and pumpin' gas.

- Burt Bacharach/Hal David

Players of Stoudamire’s caliber are given a second (and third) chance in the NBA. It’s now or never for Arizona, not now or never for Salim.

I was

wrong about Trevor Ariza. Though at least I foresaw my own undoing.

So far, Ariza, a high-flying 6-8 forward who left UCLA after just one season, has handled the leap from college to the NBA very well, meeting each new challenge in stride. He wowed the Knicks' staff when he averaged 14 points and 6.8 rebounds in four summer league games, then impressed head coach Lenny Wilkens when he showed no fear going to the rim in some very physical scrimmages early in training camp.

raising arizona

In Dick Vitale's latest update to his Preseason Top 30, Arizona is up eight spots, from 16 to eight. Not sure what transpired in the months of August, September and October that led Vitale to drastically adjust his forecast...

Strength of Schedule, 2004-2005

By Opponents’ Average 2003-2004 RPI.

TeamNon-ConferenceConferenceEntire Schedule
Wake Forest119.0053.4478.65
North Carolina146.9142.1384.81
Georgia Tech131.8156.3187.07
Connecticut159.46 59.13100.00
Oklahoma State138.60 93.50110.85
Kentucky147.09 48.4466.83
Michigan State168.40 99.50126.00
Mississippi State168.55 56.94102.41
Maryland156.40 52.1392.23
Texas149.40 93.00114.69
North Carolina State130.70 48.8180.31
Notre Dame220.0054.31121.81


back. The NCAA has granted Billy Edelin's academic waiver petition, making him immediately eligible to play for the 'Cuse.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

built Ford tough

Stud point guard C.J. Miles of Dallas Skyline High School recently announced his intent to matriculate at the University of Texas. Another big pick-up for Coach Barnes.

But the credit for Miles' decision should go to T.J. Ford. As you read the excerpt below, remember that C.J. played his high school basketball in Dallas.

Miles said the Texas program had made no impression on him until Ford arrived in 2001, leading the Longhorns to the NCAA tournament Sweet 16 in his first season and to the Final Four a year later. Ford, who left for the NBA after his sophomore season, would now be a senior had he remained in school.

"I didn't even know anything about (Texas) until T.J. went there," Miles said.

They Said It

"We can go 12 deep. Even our walk-ons are good."
-- Arizona associate head coach Jim Rosborough

“We are humble.”
-- Arizona center Channing Frye

doctor, doctor

If Chris Hernandez isn’t healthy – and I’m concerned about his recurring injuries – Stanford doesn’t deserve the Top 25 ranking they recently received from Street & Smith’s, ESPN and Basketball News/CBS Sportsline.

I hate Dick Vitale.

I hate his incessant and mostly irrelevant rants during ESPN telecasts. I hate his bias in favor of the ACC. I hate his cheerleading for all things Duke. I hate his uninformative offline and online “analysis.” I hate his commercials on behalf of DiGiorno pizza. And I hate his hand gestures.

I don’t love to hate him (as Red Sox Nation loves to hate the Yankees).

I hate to hate him. I wish I could like Vitale. I really do.

“Dickie V” has done wonders for college basketball. Perhaps more than any other individual, Vitale can be credited for raising the game’s profile and for March Madness’ ever-increasing popularity. Few sports have as visible a spokesman or as passionate an advocate. I’ll sure miss him when he’s gone.

But, try as I might, I’m unable to like him while he’s here. I hate Dick Vitale.


midnight madness, indeed

The Dukeblog does it up Miami style. What were they thinking?!?!

They Said It

"I was really ticked off. I told Rashad [McCants] there was a big difference in playing college basketball and being in jail. Like the game Monopoly, I told him I could just give him a 'Get out of jail free' card and he could leave."
-- University of North Carolina Coach Roy Williams

red fans & blue fans

A bitter divide.

At Louisville's annual Tip-Off luncheon, Rick Pitino delivered to his partisans the red meat they craved.

In discussing the Cardinals' Dec.18 game against the University of Kentucky in Freedom Hall, Pitino noted that the only red shirts in Rupp Arena when UofL plays there are the ones the Cards are wearing. Then he issued a plea to UofL fans.

"If you're a corporate sponsor, please do not give any of your tickets to Kentucky fans," he said to a large ovation. "One thing I remember from when I worked for the Dark Side was that we would come into Freedom Hall with 4,000 blue shirts in the stands, and I always wondered how we did that at that time.

"Now, with modern technology, we have video cameras everywhere. And if you give a seat to a Kentucky fan, your tickets will be pulled."

After a loud ovation, he looked over to athletic director Tom Jurich and smiled. "Tom, they think we're kidding," Pitino said. "But we're not."

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

College Basketball Preseason Rankings, Top 25

Pundit or MagazineAndy Katz Dick VitaleDime MagSlam Mag*PMI's ACCLindy's MagBlue RibbonStreet & Smith'sBasketball News**ESPNWeighted*** Composite
Wake Forest14134213111
North Carolina21527345343
Georgia Tech47241936434
Oklahoma State613107121129588
Kentucky12313101361116171310 (tie)
Duke109895211013151410 (tie)
Michigan State15514131981211161512
Mississippi State112212162018910101113
North Carolina StateNR20212411NR1812141718
Notre Dame16141821NR131721NR1920

*Slam Magazine ranked only the Top 20. Rather than exclude their rankings, I made selections 21-25 on their behalf.
**Basketball News rankings were produced in conjunction with CBS Sportsline.
***The composite weighs each of the ten rankings equally.

a groggy morning

Where's Steven Lavin when I need him? A French vanilla latte sounds wonderful right about now. From the Orange County Register:

From the beginning, Lavin was a reach, a clean-cut, well-mannered, ambitious, bottom-rung assistant whose biggest task had been to make coffee runs in the Jim Harrick Era.

Monday, October 18, 2004


on a job well done. Andy Katz's column about North Carolina senior forward Jawad Williams is an enjoyable and informative read. I learned Williams was last year limited by nose injuries and concussions that halfed his offensive output from 19 points per game in the season's first seven contests to 9.5 points per game in 13 subsequent outings. Look for Jawad to this year fulfill his potential and play a big part in North Carolina's offense.


Through 11 seasons, Skip Prosser's cumulative NCAA Tournament record is 5-7. If the CW is correct, then Prosser will be the least experienced coach to lead his team to a national championship in a long, long time.

Nuts and bolts

of the NCAA Tournament:

The real road to this year's Final Four was mapped out by Short's travel agency in Waterloo. Short's agents got teams to where they needed to be for the National Collegiate Athletic Association's men's and women's basketball tournaments. That's in spite of obstacles such as an untimely death on board an airliner, a bomb threat in the Caribbean, and a mix-up about the arrival time of $2.5 million from the NCAA to pay for air travel.

Short's Travel Management - a family-owned, 130-employee agency - won a multiyear contract with the NCAA last year to make travel arrangements for all of the NCAA's championship tournaments, including the legendary March Madness of college basketball.

Sixty-five men's teams and 64 women's teams compete in about 25 cities. Eighty to 90 percent of the travel is by air. Travel parties average about 90 people, including team members, coaches, cheerleaders, mascots and pep band members.

Total number of travelers: About 12,000. Total travel spending: About $10 million.

Fans Heart

Ken Pomeroy. Though he still has plenty of bugs to remove before complete schedules are available for every team.

Media Bias?

According to William LaRue, the "S" in ESPN might as well be for Syracuse.

Pick almost any office or studio at ESPN's sprawling headquarters in Bristol, Conn., and you will find at least one person who got a college degree from SU's School of Public Communications.

The number of ESPN producers, program directors, production assistants and publicists who are SU graduates has blossomed with the growth of the network. The list of on-air journalists with SU degrees who have worked for ESPN includes Mike Tirico, Dave Ryan, Beth Mowins, Vera Jones, Sean McDonough and Dave Pasch.

While no one at ESPN could offer a precise count of the number of SU alums among its 3,000 employees, executives agreed there are dozens and dozens at its various TV channels, as well as ESPN Radio Network, ESPN.com and ESPN The Magazine...

Few have worked at ESPN headquarters longer than Steve Vecchione, 46, a 1979 Newhouse graduate who has been at the sports channel since four months after it went on the air in September 1979.

Vecchione says SU's role in funneling graduates to the network has been an inside joke at ESPN almost since the time he arrived there. "It almost seems like there's the Syracuse grads and the non-Syracuse grads, because there are a lot of us."

Sunday, October 17, 2004



(A second trip down memory lane).

a first time for everything

Vermont (!) coach Tom Brennan has already made arrangements to allow seven NBA scouts to watch 6'9" forward Taylor Coppenrath play during Catamounts practice sessions. Good for Brennan. Better for Coppenrath. Though I remain skeptical about Taylor's pro potential.

youth is served

Question: Which incoming freshman appeared on Oprah and the Rosie O'Donnell Show as one of top young basketball players in the country and received letters from USC and Kansas when he was but 11 years old?

Answer: DePaul's Cliff Clinkscales.


exactly. North Carolina's Rashad McCants should know better than to publicly compare playing for the Tar Heels to serving time in prison (even if it is what he privately believes).

Wonder if Dickie V still thinks the Heels will win the NCAA Championship. Because I doubt it. Not with McCants’ attitude.

bring that beat back, beat back

Mike DiMauro digs into Jim Calhoun and the University of Connecticut administration for refusing to release details about A.J. Price's health to the members of the Huskies men's basketball beat. But kindly informing reporters covering the College Basketball Preseason Tip-Off Luncheon in Augusta, Georgia – roughly 1,000 miles away from Storrs – of Price’s condition.

DiMauro should have spared readers his elevated sense of self-importance.

Remember this one and write it down: It is the beat writers' daily diligence that keeps the people who buy the tickets and donate to the program informed.

But he is correct. Calhoun and the University of Connecticut should have toed a consistent line. The coaching staff and the administration should have either respected the Price family’s request for privacy (which I would have preferred) or honored the public’s interest in the health of a player on the state’s marquee team (which I would have accepted). They should not have adopted one policy with respect to in-state media and practiced another in front of the national press corps.

a trip down

memory lane.

You might say I called it, no?