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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, December 25, 2004

Cardinal Sin

Among a blogger's few responsibilities is keeping up with the times. For a site to establish itself as credible source for the latest news and/or the commentary, a writer must avoid leaving an outdated post up for too long without either a correction or an update.

Gregg Doyel, however, has failed to amend or post-date his December 23rd "dribble" about the Los Angeles Daily News' piece suggesting that Tim Floyd has all but signed on the dotted line to coach USC. Nevermind that Floyd remains a very likely bet to coach the Trojans. Following the Daily News' article, Floyd and his agent denied the merits of the report. The former Iowa State coach has yet to agree to lead USC. According to the school's athletic director, Mike Garrett, talks remain in progress with several candidates.


Today's Must Read

about the biz.

Sports Illustrated writer Seth Davis is the kind of guy who gets his 5 o'clock shadow long before 5 o'clock. When he started in television, on a show about Duke men's basketball while he was a student at the university, he noted that the effect came off something like Richard Nixon in his 1960 debate against John F. Kennedy — not good.

So he took to carrying a makeup compact, like the ones women in black-and-white movies used when they talked about powdering their noses. You can imagine how this played among Davis' college buddies, but he endured their sophisticated humor.

"The only thing worse than the Cover Girl thing in your pocket is going on without makeup on," Davis said.

And blogs' potential?

"It really is a growth industry," Davis said. "There are channels sprouting up all around us. It's a great time to be a content provider."



Friday, December 24, 2004

"I used to fly separately from the players

so I could drink."

Larry Eustachy's feel-good turnaround story. Just in time for the holiday season.

Eustachy's parents, who now live in San Clemente, Calif., are grateful for the transformation. "He's a completely changed guy," his father, George, said. "So different, it's unbelievable. He spends more time with the family. He's a poster boy for the 12-step program. Before, he always seemed to have a lot of anxiety."

Eustachy's Golden Eagles are slowly but surely affirming their coach's promise on and off the court. Sooner than you might expect "Leisure Suit" Larry will lead a team back to the NCAA Tournament.


throwbacks: more than jerseys

If "throwback" graphics aren't enough to inspire you, tune in to see Rollie Massimino as an ESPN guest analyst for the West Virginia at Villanova Classic.

If you miss the days when players' shorts really were short and television screens weren't filled with scoreboards and running scores, ESPN Classic is turning back the clock for you.

On Jan. 5, the network will broadcast the first of nine live college basketball games, each featuring "throwback" graphics and production values to make the telecasts appear as they would have years ago. Jim Simpson, an original ESPN personality, will do the play-by-play with various guest commentators including retired coaches.

The first game -- West Virginia at Villanova -- will have a late '70s feel to turn the clock back to when ESPN was launched. Other eras may be featured in the other telecasts and there could be games with teams in retro uniforms and fans in period-specific dress. The last of the nine telecasts will be Rutgers at Notre Dame on March 2.



Thursday, December 23, 2004

A Pulitizer? A Booker? Or a National Book Award?

Luke "Pretty Boy" Winn just posted a Power 16 that puts ESPN's rankings -- a composite of expert polls from the likes of Andy Katz, Dick Vitale, Joe Lunardi, Jay Bilas, Doug Gottlieb, and the one and only Andy Glockner (who?) -- to shame.

Among Luke's must-consider tidbits:

**Sweet Valley High: The New Year's Eve game between top-ranked Illinois and unranked Cincinnati will take place at Valley High School in Las Vegas, Nevada.
**Trojan Man: In his very first appearance on ESPN, Rick Majerus said the following to Jay Bilas (who had opted for a polo rather than the traditional Hawaiian shirt at the Maui Invitational): "Jay, only a guy who gets out of the shower to take a piss would wear a shirt like that."
**Most Valuable Hyphenated Player: No longer Nik Caner-Medley. Now Pops Mensah-Bonsu.
**U.S.S. RPI: Boston College. Unranked in the AP and ESPN/USA Today coaches polls, the Eagles are first in the RPI.


Pink Floyd?

Former Iowa State and New Orleans Hornets coach Tim Floyd has denied rumors, recently published in the Los Angeles Daily News, that he has agreed to become USC's next basketball coach, provided he can work out a financial settlement with the Hornets.

Suffice to say that after the Rick Majerus fiasco, the USC administration could have done without another go, no-go, set of articles in the local and national media.


fuzzy math

Teams are allowed to have 13 players on scholarship. Washington currently has 12, having gained one back with center Anthony Washington's departure.

Of the 12, three, Will Conroy, Tre Simmons and Hakeem Rollins, are seniors. Yet Lorenzo Romar has inked seven (!) high schoolers to letters of intent, guaranteeing them scholarships.

Huh?

Nate Robinson is as good as gone to the NBA. Brandon Roy may join him. As might high school phenom Martell Webster.

If all three flee, Washington is in the clear. But if even one returns and each of the preps qualifies academically, how will the Huskies fulfill their obligations? Nobody knows.


Boy Wonder

continues to suck up to Bobby Knight.

Iowa coach Steve Alford, meanwhile, seemed genuinely embarrassed to beat his former coach for the first time in four tries. The relationship between teacher and pupil has taken some strange turns in recent years, and the last thing the pride of New Castle, Ind., wants - or needs - is for the General to start turning a cold shoulder again...

Alford definitely made sure to give attribution where due. Since their fence-mending a few years back, the prodigy has frequently (and wisely) turned to his mentor for guidance. Reviews of game film. Chalk-talks on strategy. Whatever you think of Knight as a person, the man knows his way around a basketball court the way Rembrandt knew his way around an easel.

"It's not like they're coming to Iowa," Alford said with a chuckle. "I go to Lubbock, trying to learn to get better at what we do.



Wednesday, December 22, 2004

100 Days

Until the Final Four. Interested in volunteering in St. Louis? Apply here.


Eject! Eject!

Mike Davis should leave Indiana before he is unceremoniously shown the door. (Last summer would have been ideal. This summer will have to do). Bolting from Bloomington before the bottom falls out (read: a loss to Charlotte tonight, previewing the Hoosiers' inevitable finish outside the Big Ten's upper half) would save Davis face and, if well coordinated, enable him to smoothly transition into another job.

At various points in the last couple years, Davis' name was linked to head coaching vacancies across the country (e.g. Auburn). Why he didn't bite is beyond me; less pressure, an opportunity to cultivate a loyal fan base (one need not look further than the faithful's reaction to Davis' contract negotiations several years ago to realize just how short fans' tempers were going to be), and an offer competitive with his existing salary.

Having made $900,000 a year since he and Jared Jeffries led Indiana to the championship game, Davis is financially secure. Sure, he could play chicken with Indiana administrators. Best case, he turns Indiana around (unlikely). Worst case, he continues to make a boat load of money while counting down his days.

But why not go long on class -- and personal happiness? Keep your name out of the papers and your head in the game?

Davis should begin pursuing other opportunities and make it known he'd like out of Indiana. In so doing, he'd 1) shut the fans up, 2) preempt the administration (given Davis' contract and the athletic department's financial troubles, they won't fire him if they can reasonably expect he won't be around for more than next season, at the absolute max), and 3) work himself into a new job.


timing is everything

In his latest (Insider) column, Jay Bilas criticized the RPI.

The key beef I have with the RPI is that the importance of a win or loss can change as the season goes along. How many times have you heard already that a win "will look really good at the end of the season?" What does that mean? It means that the win was not impressive right now, but will be later in the year after the loser picks it up and has a good year. That is silly.

With all of the smart people in the process, and all of the time invested in it, there has to be a way to assign a value to a game at the time it is played -- one that would not change. For example, if you play a team in October that is playing great basketball, but later has injuries and falls out of the Top 50, you should get credit for beating a good team at the time. On the NCAA Nitty Gritty report, it only shows the final ranking of the team in the RPI, not the value of the game at the time it was played. That could make a difference.

A valid argument. A team that beat Washington, for example, early last season received an RPI boost equivalent to a team that beat Washington late last season. But the Huskies were a much, much better club in their final 10 games than in their first 10 matches.

Might it be possible to adjust for a team's relative strength during a given game? Perhaps. One could revise the RPI formula to include a weighting of both end-of-year winning percentages AND game-time winning percentages.

To mitigate the impact of a particularly tough week of scheduling, "game-time" winning percentages might reflect a team's winning percentage for games played to date -- and three future games (e.g. if an opponent went 5-1 in six games, then lost the game in question and subsequently suffered three additional defeats, the RPI would compute the team's "game-time" winning percentage as .50). Your thoughts?

Bilas' opinion? He advocates discriminating against lower-conference clubs.

The way I like to evaluate teams in predicting what the Committee may do is to take a team's overall record, subtract out the wins against teams ranked outside of the RPI Top 100, and count the losses against anyone. That is, in my opinion, a team's "real record."

No team will play anyone in the NCAA Tournament that is ranked outside of the Top 100, unless that foe is an automatic qualifier. From that adjusted record, you can determine a lot about a team. You can see how many times it was challenged, and how it responded to those challenges.

A sensible enough proposition for major-conference teams. But one that would be extremely difficult to apply to mid-major and low-major conferences. Plenty of clubs -- including several West Coast Conference and Missouri Valley Conference teams -- don't play enough games against Top 100 competition to provide a large enough statistical sample for accurate analysis.


A blessing in disguise

To date, Kansas' most glaring weakness has been the Jayhawks' lack of a legitimate fifth starter. Christian Moody, Darnell Jackson, C.J. Giles and Sasha Kaun have all been game-tested, but unlike the cereal Kix, not a single one has been Bill Self-approved. Coach has opted to start Moody but, save the formality, play a fifth-starter-by-committee.

But with Wayne Simien out for four to six weeks and from six to 10 games, Kansas will need significant minutes -- and production -- from the unimpressive frontline quartet. While the Jayhawks should lose at least a game or two during Simien's absence (most likely to Georgia Tech and/or Kentucky), that which does not kill Kansas will make it stronger. Moody, Jackson, Giles and Kaun will benefit from the playing time and at least one -- my money's on Giles -- will emerge as a bona-fide fifth or sixth man for Bill Self.


USC Cattle Call

1. Tim Floyd -- Word on the street is that USC senior associate athletic director Daryl Gross reached out to Floyd over the weekend. Floyd is attractive to USC because he's available immediately. Oh, and he also won a few games at Iowa State.

2. Jamie Dixon -- Where there's smoke, there's fire. Though I didn't consider him a flight risk, the Pittsburgh coach, a North Hollywood native, is a confirmed candidate for the USC gig.

3. George Karl -- How many ESPN analysts can USC pursue? (Up next: A return by Dick Vitale to the coaching ranks?) Karl is interested in USC. If Gross and athletic director Mike Garrett can't ink one of the two above and know of a skeleton in Paul Westphal's closet, they'll look to history and go with an NBA vet. Why? Pete Carroll's success.

4. Bob Knight -- And I thought Lubbock was another name for paradise! I can't imagine Knight's high-wire act flying in low-key Southern California. But if the school is looking for a big-name, they'll look no further than the General. Unlike Floyd and Dixon, Robert Montgomery sought out the USC administration. (Though he did so via intermediaries. Which begs the question: If an inquiry with another school is sure to become public knowledge, why go through private associates? Propriety? Or, in Knight's case, more likely ego).

5. Paul Westphal -- Again, where there's smoke, there's fire. USC passed over Westphal in the first go-round. After Majerus' resignation, the Pepperdine coach was the natural choice. But Southern Cal's delay suggests that despite his pedigree and the support of several ex-Trojans, something about Westphal is keeping USC from pulling the trigger. At this point, hiring Paul will be understood -- and rightly so -- as little more than a failure to recruit a coach the administration actually desired.

6. Steve Fisher? Mark Few? Steve Lavin? How about Gene Keady, a candidate in USC's 1996 search? The Purdue mainstay thinks he has a few more good years left.


Tuesday, December 21, 2004

What a Day!

While cleaning, I came across a letter from and signed basketball card of Arkansas alum Todd Day.

Which reminded me how nice it would be to have Nolan Richardson replace Steve Lappas at the University of Massachusetts.


The Big Ten just

announced a contract extension with CBS.

On a related note, I'd like to know whether the hockey lockout has led to an increase in television coverage of men's college basketball. You would think so, no?


Holiday Tickets

Winter break sends students home, leaving arenas empty and tickets aplenty.

Sample tickets on the cheap: Northern Iowa, Southern Miss, and Washington.


Monday, December 20, 2004

Do you never miss an opportunity

to miss an opportunity?

Bob McDonald, former sports editor of Cleveland State's student newspaper, the Cauldron, and kind creator of FireRollie.com, is giving up his baby. The site, however, continues to be ranked quite highly on several search engines.

Interested in owning a piece of history? First come, first serve.


between a rock and a hard place

Since Bob Knight was fired, Indiana has paid or is obligated to pay as much as $2.4 million in salary or severance to coaches and sports administrators no longer working for the school. In the post-General era, IU's athletic department has lost more than $5 million.

Mike Davis is slated to make $900,000 a season for each of the final three years of his contract, 2005-2006, 2006-2007 and 2007-2008.


NYT: They Get Letters

Digging into Digger and ESPN. Merrill's sentiment is a little over the top, but essentially accurate.

As a longtime college basketball fan, I've experienced many enjoyable doubleheaders at Madison Square Garden. When they are televised by ESPN, however, they are pure torture for a fan in attendance.

A prime example was the recent Jimmy V Classic. The first game started at 7:10 p.m., and the second one mercifully concluded at 11:50. Eighty minutes of basketball should not take 4 hours 40 minutes.

As the games dragged on because of the many commercial breaks, I was forced to listen to hideous blaring music. At the same time, I was continually "entertained" by ridiculous contests: out-of-shape men shooting for airline tickets, youngsters in oversize sneakers and shorts attempting to win gift certificates, etc.

Adding to my misery was a 30-minute break between games. This allowed ESPN to return to its studio so that the likes of Dick Vitale, Digger Phelps and Mike Jarvis could drone on and on and on. They make it sound as if the fate of the free world depends on which college basketball team is No. 1. Oh, how I yearn for the old days at the Garden. Not only did I return home before dawn, but my ticket price didn't have an added facility surcharge of $4.50.

Merrill Smith
Hawthorne, N.J.



Yeah,

what Tom said.

ESPN long ago blurred the line between reporting the news and making it, and there was no better example of that than Rick Majerus' abrupt "retirement" after three days as USC's head coach. Majerus, it was reported, had decided to return to ESPN as a college basketball analyst. Guess which media outlet broke the story? Surprise -- ESPN. Make the news, break the news, report the news, affect the news. It seems to make no difference to the folks in Bristol, who continue to have little use for credibility.

Commenting on an earlier post, reader Milbarge asked why ESPN failed to report Majerus' return on Friday night. A very good question. On Saturday, the "worldwide leader" reported that a day earlier Rick had called the network and asked if his old gig was still available. Which raises a question (similar to the one) I earlier asked as a comment.

Imagine if Majerus had been an analyst for Fox Sports. Then left FSN to coach USC. If ESPN learned on Friday that Majerus had called Fox Sports and asked for his old job, would the "worldwide leader" have waited until Saturday to report that Majerus was likely to have a short stay at USC?

Fat chance. ESPN would have broken the story shortly after learning of Rick's return to the booth.


usc rumor: tim floyd

"Now Tim Floyd may be going where he belongs. You know, where 20 wins is a good season."

usc thought: rodrick stewart

Less than a week before Henry Bibby is let go, Stewart announces his intent to transfer from USC. Coincidence? Most likely. But you never know.


Just in time

for the holidays, a new RPI formula. The revision's effects? To be determined.

Ken Pomeroy has run the numbers and learned that a critical question remains unanswered. Will the selection committee apply the adjustments to all three parts of the RPI (helping teams at the top of mid-major conferences and hurting teams in the middle of power conferences)? Or just the first part (generally helping power conferences and mid-majors)?


ready for primetime?

Without Duke transfer and former McDonald's All-American Mike Thompson, Northwestern went 2-4, including losses to Virginia, Colorado, New Mexico State and Utah State.

With him, Bill Carmody's club beat DePaul and Seton Hall. Tonight the Wildcats travel to Tempe. The honeymoon is over.

Mike Thompson, meet Ike Diogu. Mark Armijo of the Arizona Republic previews the big matchup here.


Sunday, December 19, 2004

Washington's

defeat of North Carolina State was impressive, largely because the Huskies triumphed without a good game from Nate Robinson.

"Romarville," however, is a bit of a stretch. Couldn't Washington fans be any more creative?


They Said It

"We won't do things like Notre Dame. We always have a plan."
-- University of Southern California athletic director Mike Garrett, speaking to reporters after firing Henry Bibby and before hiring Rick Majerus


maybe next year

Matt Doherty thinks Texas A&M-Corpus Christi could be dancing come March. But given the Islanders' late-season schedule, I wouldn't bet on the independent club. To get an at-large bid, Ronnie Arrow's squad would have to beat Alabama this Wednesday, defeat Oklahoma State on January 3rd, win at Drake on January 10th and lose at most one game the rest of the way. Even against the likes of Savannah State and Utah Valley State, an unlikely bet. More likely, a loss to Alabama, Oklahoma State or Drake will sink the Islanders.


Guess who

Fox Sports college basketball analyst Marques Johnson is describing (in the print edition of the Sporting News)?

This is the reality of big-time college athletics. Ask Tyrone Willingham. The idea that the primary purpose of a coach these days is to build character, instill discipline and graduate players has gone by the wayside. Yeah, it's great if those goals can be reached, as long as you meet the bottom-line requirement of winning a sufficient amount of games to keep everybody happy.

Henry Bibby. Point taken about Willingham. (His Fighting Irish were one of only four of 56 bowl-bound schools with a graduation rate 65 percent or higher and a racial gap of less than 15 percentage points). But Henry Bibby? The only character he ever built was his son Mike's. After Henry left his wife, the younger Bibby grew up strong and independent.

(Stanford, btw, hired Walt Harris away from Pittsburgh after he led the Panthers to the single lowest graduation rate, 31 percent, of all 56 bowl-bound institutions of higher education.)


danny!

According to the Basketball Times, Kansas' Danny Manning holds the all-time record for minutes played (4,968). It's an unofficial statistic because the NCAA does not track minutes played.

Notre Dame's Chris Thomas, however, is on track to break Danny's "record" this season.


They Said It (The Rick Majerus Edtion)

"I often say I'm the result of swimming pool sperm."

"Some guys smoke. Some guys drink. Some guys chase women. I'm a big barbecue-sauce guy. I'm like that guy on the 'Odd Couple,' and it's not the neat guy. I go into my room and find pieces of pizza under the laundry."

"Nobody thought I'd be a great coach. I'm the kind of guy you'd expect to be driving an 18-wheeler through town."

"I think I was such a pathetic figure in '98, [Ashley Judd] felt sorry for me. She hugged me. That was my sex life for the next two or three years."

"(At hotels), There's clean towels, my bed is turned down every night and there's a mint on my pillow, no matter what psychological or emotional crisis the maid is going though."

"I microwave nachos. If it can't be done on a grill or in a microwave, I won't do it."

"Like I always told Bobby Knight, nothing good happens around a salad bar."

"You watch this guy Jerry Springer on TV. What a show that is! It's got to be like WWF. It cannot be real. There's not enough trailer parks in the country - and I'm dating a girl from a trailer park."

"If we're getting in a sumo ring, [Rick Pitino] and I, then he's the underdog. I'll crush him. But on the court, we're in trouble."

"I've had seven bypasses - one for every major food group and two for the barbecue division."

Al McGuire: "Never marry a beautiful woman, because a beautiful woman might leave you."
Rick Majerus: "An ugly woman might leave me too."
Al McGuire: "Yeah, but it won't matter."

"There's three [UCLA] cheerleaders out there I'd like to take home tonight. All three would tell me no. They won't go."

"We get a call from a white guy with a bad haircut who says he's the next Keith Van Horn. And the only thing he ends up having in common with Keith Van Horn is that he's white -- and has a bad haircut."

"I could beat Lance Armstrong because if he got behind me, he couldn't get past me."

"I stayed there for 15 years. I damn near became a Mormon, which is an expensive proposition. You think taxes are high in California? Those [Utah] boys are tied in for 10 percent right from the start."

"They laughed at me when I did my first game (as a commentator) for ESPN and I came in with 32 pages of notes. They said, 'You don't have to win the game for both teams. You just have to talk about it.'"

"I've often said they should send Dick Vitale into hostage negotiations. Everyone would come out with their hands up."

"I wouldn't know a suit from Sears from a Versace."


Ranking Gonzaga

Prior to tonight's victory over Georgia Tech, Gonzaga placed 18th in the RPI. Having now beaten both Washington and Georgia Tech, the 'Zags deserve a Top 15 ranking.

Look forward to Gonzaga's December 28th game at Oklahoma State.


good coaching

southern miss beats lsu (eustachy)

ucla beats michigan (howland)