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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, January 01, 2005

the grind

-- Oregon's Aaron Brooks scored a career-high 34 in the Ducks' 90-83 victory over USC. The ninth-best team in America, according to the latest RPI ratings, Ernie Kent's club is slowly but surely working itself into NCAA Tournament consideration. Best wins: New Mexico, Vanderbilt and Fresno State. Only loss? In Chicago, to Illinois.

-- During today's must-see game between Kansas and Georgia Tech (previewed here), the Jayhawks will honor Darnell Valentine, the fifth-leading scorer, fifth-leading assist man and top free-throw shooter in men's basketball history.

-- D.J. White scored 23 points, 14 in the second half, and grabbed 11 rebounds in Indiana's 69-68 victory over Oral Roberts. The much-hyped freshman made the game-winning basket, hitting a 7-foot turnaround jumper with 14.7 seconds left. More importantly, Mike Davis begins 2005 as the Hoosiers' head coach. Will he remain in Bloomington through 2006?

-- Tom Noie writes-up Mike Brey's evolving lineup. The Notre Dame coach considers six of his players "starters," guards Chris Quinn and Chris Thomas, swingman Colin Falls, small forward Jordan Cornette and power forwards Torin Francis and Dennis Latimore.

-- Happy New Year! Chris Mitchell has announced his intent to transfer from East Tennessee State.

-- The Tucson Citizen's Corky Simpson believes Arizona is in for a rude awakening against Arizona State: "Swagger has replaced stagger at ASU." A victory against the 'Cats will go a long way towards saving Rob Evans' job and putting Ike Diogu and the Sun Devils into the NCAA Tournament mix.


Friday, December 31, 2004

2005

happy new year!


the morning grind

-- The Billy Packer-Sirius Satellite Radio deal that would have given Packer his own college basketball talk show is dead. CBS, "Fudge" Packer's primary employer, refused to bless the deal Billy had agreed to. I'm crushed and blame CBS execs for ruining New Year's. Your thoughts on possible replacements? My suggestion is for Sirius to ink Jon Sundvold in Packer's place.

-- Bruce Pascoe writes up Josh Pastner's revelation about Mohamed Tangara: the Mali native has been starving himself to save money. Each month, Tangara sends his African family a $150-$200 check. A must-read.

"I remember going to his dorm room, where he had cheese crackers and cheese nibs," Pastner said. "He had a thing of saltine crackers, and that was it. He kept saying it was the cheapest thing so he could save all his money. He was living on pretzels and crackers. It was amazing."

-- The University of Pittsburgh and the state have sued the architects and contractors who worked on the Petersen Events Center, Pit's new basketball arena, claiming a shoddy design and construction has left the two year-old building with more than 200 holes in its roof and subpar ventilation, sprinkler and communications systems.

-- St. John's upset North Carolina State, prompting the New York Daily News to suggest that "only things missing on this feel-good night were Chris Mullin-era throwback jerseys." A harbinger of the success that Norm Roberts will make common at the once-proud institution.

-- Don Vetter pens a piece on Nevada assistant David Carter and the challenges of recruiting for a WAC school. Losing Trent Johnson to Stanford can't help.

-- Suggesting that much to the delight of Kansas fans, Quin Snyder may hang on at Missouri for longer than we once thought, Mizzou stunned Gonzaga. And this intrepid blogger, who had all but written off Jason Conley and the Tigers after a series of early-season losses.

-- Francisco Garcia celebrates his birthday today. If only Rick Pitino would get out of his face, the Louisville star could enjoy the festivities in his honor.

-- Duke captains Daniel Ewing and J.J. Redick appeared on ESPN2's Cold Pizza this morning. Shav Randolph watched from his hospital bed in disgust.

-- Salim Stoudamire and Channing Frye are talking the talk in Tucson, suggesting the 'Cats may yet cash in on their enormous potential.

-- Meet Ronald Ramon. (You ought to).

-- Georgetown is 45-0 all time against the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (though during the 1942-43 season, the Hoyas lost 57-42 to Norfolk State, then a military academy).


Thursday, December 30, 2004

nirvana?

Will a rising tide lift all boats in the state of Washington? Is there room enough in the Seattle media market for both the Zags and the Huskies? The News-Tribune's Don Ruiz checks-in with an objective look at the yays and nays. As for the state's coaches, their thoughts are in line with my expectations.

Romar: C'mon fellas, there's space for me at the table.

"If we can continue to do well - and I anticipate Washington State's going to do well - it just makes the state a pretty good place where they play basketball. Along with the high school talent that's coming out every year, people around the country have to look at the state of Washington as a place for basketball. Gonzaga has a lot to do with that."

Few: I'm not so sure.

"I thought it's always been kind of tough for us. I don't know that (other rising programs in the state have) impacted us."

Washington State's Bennett: If he's invited, I'm out (sooner rather than later). Washington's rise has already undermined my turnaround effort.

"Recruiting is harder. A couple of kids from our side of the state that I was interested in when I came are at Gonzaga, and several of the kids that I really wanted to get involved with on the west side are going to UW. So, it does affect us in recruiting, and that's why with at least our first class we ended up going out of state more."



The All-Disappointment Team

PG: Anthony Roberson, Florida (<3 assists/game)
SG: Rashad Anderson, Connecticut (36 FG%)
SF: Sean Banks, Memphis (head-case)
PF: Charlie Villanueva, Connecticut (points?)
C: Paul Davis, Michigan State (dissapearing act)

Coach: John Calipari, Memphis (star search)
Assistant Coach: Larry Shyatt, Florida (defense?)
Second Assistant: Melvin Watkins, Missouri (sinking ship)


Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Lost Lobo Fans

Courtesy of Danny Granger, University of New Mexico basketball is experiencing quite a resurgence. But where, oh where, have the infamous "Pit" fans gone?

The announced attendance (for the Lobo Invitational) was 12,003. It is the third-smallest crowd since The Pit expanded to a capacity of 18,018 in 1975. All three lowest-attendance games were this season.



The Colonials are Coming!

You know George Washington has arrived when a visit by Pops Mensah-Bonsu & Co. to the Coliseum enables host West Virginia to sellout. Too bad the game isn't on TV. I'd love to watch GW take on the undefeated Mountaineers.


the morning grind

-- La Salle's Steve Smith timed his outburst well, taking over last night's game against American University in the final minutes -- much as an NBA scout in attendance had hoped he would. But my game ball goes to a seldom-used reserve who is the younger brother of a former co-worker. In the words of Explorers' coach John Giannini:

"Another key was Sean Neal. He made big plays, hit a big three, took a big charge. He's the kind of person every college coach hopes all kids are like. He's an outstanding person on and off the court."

-- Jose Ortiz previews the second-best conference in the country, the PAC-10. Unwisely, Ortiz believes USC will finish ahead of Oregon State.

-- The Everett (WA) Herald this morning published a letter by David Barhoum suggesting NBA teams assign designated free-throwers. David's rationale? Such a rule would enable professional clubs to replicate the "strategic, cerebral and artful" play of John Wooden's UCLA teams and the University of Kentucky squads of the mid-1950's.

-- Norm Frauenheim writes about the would-be PAC-10 boomlet, noting that the conference went 9-0 last week in non-conference play.

-- Ray Fittipaldo gets Dave Odom to compare Chris Taft to Tim Duncan on record. My favorite excerpt?

"If Chris continues to develop, he will be a lottery pick whenever he wants to come out. Now that being said, I'm not saying he should come out. As a matter of fact, Chris, if you're listening, do what Duncan did and stay on for four years. It didn't hurt Duncan by staying."

-- Lon Kruger remembers his time as coach of Texas-Pan American.


Rumors of Mike Davis' demise

have been greatly exaggerated?

Two hours before Davis' Hoosiers tipped off against Ball State, Indianapolis television station WISH-TV reported that Davis would probably be fired if Indiana lost to Ball State on Tuesday and that Hoosier boosters were organizing a buyout of Davis' contract.

Indiana University athletic department spokesperson Pete Rhoda said that WISH-TV report was bogus. Indiana athletic director Rick Greenspan used stronger language to deny the report of Davis' imminent firing. "I don't like dignifying B.S.," Greenspan said. "I'm not dodging anybody. I don't like to dignify crap."

Fair enough. I'm pleased to see the IU administration defend Davis (for a change). But given Indiana's six-game losing streak (snapped last night with a win against Ball State) and an increasingly frustrated fan base, it is only a matter of time before Mike Davis is shown the door. If the boosters haven't yet organized a buyout of his contract, they will soon.


Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Turning the Corner

Mark Few does not coach a "mid-major." Win or lose tonight, Gonzaga has turned the corner. Not because the 'Zags are a Top 10 squad. Or because they've had success in the NCAA Tournament for several years in a row.

But because the 'Zags no longer face the same scheduling difficulties as do "mid-majors." The proof was in the pudding this summer, before Few turned down Stanford.

Georgia Tech making a trip out West. Oklahoma State welcoming the 'Zags to Stillwater. Illinois agreeing to a game in Indianapolis. No longer do schools fear being upset by a Cinderella. Rather, a game against Gonzaga is seen as a significant test for the opponent, a loss part of the territory. Scheduling Gonzaga is akin to matching up against Arizona, Maryland, Illinois or Syracuse; a coach knows his team will get a workout against a Top 25 team -- and, win or lose, be better off for it.

The Few. The Proud. The 'Zags.

Gonzaga: The WCC's "Major" program.


Open Thread: Tonight's Games

I'm watching Gonzaga vs. Oklahoma State. Your comments?


from russia with love

A while back, I uncovered a video of North Carolina alum Ed Cota lighting it up in Lithuainia. Today's edition of "Where Are They Now?" finds Cota in Russia, playing for Dynamo St. Petersburg. On January 22, Cota's club hosts fellow Tar Heel Shammond Williams and UNICS Kazan.


Monday, December 27, 2004

not about luck

A warm welcome back for my advertiser, DimeBetting.com. Returning for a second month, the agency is kindly (special) offering college basketball bloggers an introductory $10 free play and a $60 bonus with a $200 deposit.

I'm not a betting man, but if I were I'd take advantage of favorable lines on Arizona State, Boston College and Princeton while betting against Charlotte and Virginia.

Interested in advertising on this blog? Click here. A second advertiser has already reserved ad space for the second week in January.


A Pilgrimage

What is it about stories concerning Mike Pilgrim that lead editors to make mistakes?

Case I (a): The (New Jersey) Record

HALL BRIEFS: Mike Pilgrim, a 6-8 forward who has announced his intention to transfer to Seton Hall from Cincinnati at the Pirates' practice Monday. Pilgrim is a Cincinnati native and a cousin of Orr, another Cincinnati native.

Case I (b): The (New Jersey) Record

CORRECTION

University of Cincinnati forward Mike Pilgrim did not announce his intention to transfer to Seton Hall, as was reported due to an editing error Wednesday in The Record. He has announced only his intention to leave Cincinnati.

Case II: The New York Daily News

Reports out of Bloomington suggest that 6-8 forward Mike Pilgrim of Indiana - Louis Orr's cousin - may transfer to Seton Hall, which would upgrade the Pirates' frontcourt.

As (correctly) noted above, however, Pilgrim is from Cincinnati, not Bloomington, and attends Cincinnati, not Indiana.


Sunday, December 26, 2004

I Couldn't Make This Stuff Up If I tried.

If I told you that for a Los Angeles Times article about Dick Vitale published in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune the automated Google Adbar produced an ad for tickets to a certain school's college basketball games, could you guess which one? (Scroll down to the bottom of the article).

Or do you need a clue?

"Anybody who thinks [Vitale's] putting on an act is crazy," [coach Mike] Krzyzewski said. "He does get that excited. He's speaking from his heart. He puts it out there. He's not afraid of saying something that might be controversial. He's usually right."

Well, there you have it. The Google Adbar objectively affirms Lute Olson's nickname, "Dukie V," for ESPN's most prominent analyst.


Resolve/Explain

Benson Taylor notes that the SEC has but one win against Top 25 competition. Yet the conference is also the fourth strongest in America, according to the latest RPI ratings.


be like ike, me like ike

Ike Diogu is emerging as a darkhorse candidate for national player of the year honors. Those in the know, including the Las Vegas Review-Journal's Steve Carp, peg Ike as the country's best big man. Here, here.


Out and About

John Phillips is out at Tulsa. Interestingly, athletic director Judy MacLeod has decided to name assistant coach Alvin "Pooh" Williamson interim head coach for the remainder of this season. I'd be interested to see if Pooh can keep the gig going into 2005-2006.

The Mountain West will soon be out of luck. Dissapointing losses (Air Force lost to Lamar, Colorado State to Indiana-Purdue-Indianapolis and San Diego State to Loyola Marymount) without shocking wins (Wake Forest beat New Mexico, Washington beat Utah, Oklahoma State beat UNLV and Georgia Tech beat Air Force) suggest the MWC be a single-bid league come March.