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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 22, 2005

Open Thread: Today's Games

Use this post to comment on today's great games. (Too many to count or list here).

Last Saturday's thread generated more than 75 comments. Something to shoot for.


-- Affirming Villanova's talent (and excusing Boston College's near-loss), the Wildcats' small but explosive lineup today crushed Kansas. Allan Ray and Curtis Sumpter had huge games for Jay Wright's club. Calling the 83-62 final score a surprise would be the understatement of the weekend.

-- Barton County Community College has taken deceit to a whole new level. Chris Green of the Hutchinson (KS) News has the lurid details, including news of additional and just-discovered violations. Among them payments made on behalf of current Gonzaga player J.P. Batista! If New Mexico's communications shop is among the best in college basketball, BCCC's is among the worst.

-- Remember Terry Dehere? The rare New Jersey stud who stayed in state for college? Jerry Carino of the Gannett News Service writes up the trouble Gary Waters and Louis Orr are having recruiting New Jersey. Pourquoi? Kids don't want to stay at home, often don't fit into Rutgers' or Seton Hall's "program," and other coaches have strong ties to the Garden State. Still, there have been occasional successes and their halo effect. Consider Marcus Toney-El getting Andre Barrett to join him at Seton Hall. For more on the "Turnpike Dream," read on.

-- Ned Barnett of the Greensboro (NC) News & Record finds North Carolina State skating on thin ice. Unless the Wolfpack learn to finish, Julius Hodge may find himself watching the NCAA Tournament from home. Reading between the lines, I find Barnett believes that unless State finishes the year strong, Herb Sendek is finished. I tend to agree.

What's happening with State - and what lies ahead - isn't about a roster. It's about a team and its coach.

Herb Sendek has shown himself a master of getting more from less by stressing defense and a ball-control offense. That approach worked so well last season that he was voted ACC coach of the year.

Now in his ninth season at State, he's getting less from more. Against Miami and Virginia Tech, Sendek called timeouts to set up final shots. One was blocked by the side of the backboard, the other by a Tech defender. Against Duke, State looked capable of winning but didn't seem to believe it could.

-- Lou Henson today retired a coaching legend. His 779-413 lifetime record pegs him as the sixth winningest coach in NCAA Division I history. We'll miss you, Lou.

black, white, cuban or asian

-- Luke DeCock of the Raleigh (NC) News & Observer retells Frank Haith's inspiring story. The nicest (topical) compliment given to Haith in the piece? From South Carolina's Dave Odom: "He was very, very adept at recruiting. But he never sacrificed coaching for recruiting. He was a coach who also could recruit." A harbinger of the success Haith is having at Miami, no doubt.

-- J.P. Giglio and Lorenzo Perez of the Raleigh (NC) News & Observer suggest that had it been North Carolina's Rashad McCants rather than Wake Forest's Taron Downey who made a throat-slashing gesture, media outcry would have been much more serve. They're right, of course. Though it wouldn't have been only "UNC beat writers, newspaper columnists, talk-radio hosts and message-board posters" who would have gone off, but bloggers too!

-- Scott Wolf of the Los Angeles Daily News considers the possibly that new coach Tim Floyd, expected to have only four plays returning next season (counting Lodrick Stewart, a perhaps NBA early entrant), will consider allowing Roy Smiley to play a fifth year for the Trojans. I would ask of Floyd, why not?

-- Backup center Darryl Watkins will be back soon for Syracuse. The Orange missed his inside presence against Georgetown.

snow day

-- ESPN's new "College GameDay" program will premiere under less than ideal conditions. With weather forecasters predicting a foot of snow in Storrs for the Connecticut-Pittsburgh game, only the Huskies' "second-best rivalry," UConn officials have taken "unprecedented measures" to guarantee the "worldwide leader" a packed house. Athletic director Jeff Hathaway is asking anyone with seats who decides to stay home to donate their tickets to UConn students. Folks unable to attend can give up their seats by emailing or calling (877-288-2666) the school's ticket office.

-- The City of Raleigh, North Carolina has made a bid to host the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference basketball championships beginning in 2006.

-- The University of Hawaii's four losses have been by a combined seven points, and all four have come in the final minute. In other words, the Rainbows are eight points away from an undefeated season.

-- Jay John has been cleared to today coach his Oregon State Beavers against Lute Olson's Wildcats. Let's hope Arizona's attack doesn't cause John stress and send him back to the hospital.

-- Burlington (IA) Hawk Eye reporter and AP voter John Bohnenkamp echoes a thought I had yesterday, "Even when struggling, Illini look like champs." As for the Jayhawks? Not so much.

Friday, January 21, 2005

edelder statesman

-- Stan Heath, gentleman. A tough break, however, for his Razorbacks at LSU. More than one pundit had previously termed the game a "must-win" for Arkansas.

-- Think the AP's story on Boston College is getting heavy play? Then you're right. Consider, for example, that it was picked up by the Anchorage (AK) Daily News.

-- A college basketball player is accused of robbing his teammates. Sigh.

-- (Possibly) Coming Saturday: The return of B.J. Elder and the retirement of Lou Henson. Both are past due.

-- Doug Carlson of the Tampa (FL) Tribune asks whether the 'Noles will succumb to a letdown following their upset of Wake Forest. I'd hope not, as few events would please me more than a Duke loss this weekend.

play some skinner

-- Salim Stoudamire, Channing Frye and the Arizona Wildcats notched an important road victory yesterday evening, taking it to the Oregon Ducks at McArthur Court. Stoudamire went for 27, yet, according to Greg Hansen of the Scripps-McClatchy Western Service, remains a less than sure shot for the NBA. The NCAA's leader in three-point shooting percentage (.562), Stoudamire hopes to follow in Steve Kerr's footsteps. But it won't be easy for the 6'1" Lute Olson protege.

A mere four of the NCAA's 25 season-leading three-point shooters - Arizona's Steve Kerr, Duke's Christian Laettner, East Tennessee State's Keith Jennings and Indiana's Jay Edwards - ever reached the NBA.

Edwards was out of the league after four games. Jennings played parts of four NBA seasons. As it turns out, Kerr has been the exception, a pure shooter who earned NBA employment for 15 seasons and earned more than $25 million.

-- Why is Al Skinner a college basketball coach? Because at age 29, he couldn't get a real job. Joe Gergen of Newsday pens today's must-read about the unassuming Boston College Eagle. Amazingly, Skinner has had a fair bit of success at BC without signing a single Top 50 recruit in the eight years he has led the program.

-- Gonzaga lost to San Francisco, suggesting Mark Few's club is only as good as the team against which it plays. Inconsistent perimeter defense again cost the 'Zags. But for my money, Morrison, Turiaf & Co. remain as potent a NCAA Tournament threat as before the uncharacteristic upset at hands of USF.

-- On Wednesday, Sports Illustrated's Luke "Pretty Boy" Winn wrote about coaches' private-school salaries. He finds nothing too surprising in available compensation data, but authors a solid piece nonetheless. The single salary that caught my eye? That of former Baylor coach Davis Bliss. You'd think that with $656,582 he could have done a better job covering up allegations against his old ballclub.

Georgia Tech is 0-3 against ranked foes

-- The newest Jayhawk, USC transfer and Gregg Doyel nemesis Rodrick Stewart, is itching to suit up for Kansas. Bill Self's take on Stewart at a recent practice? "He was good today. He played defense two straight hours." Something tells me Self knows Stewart has a long way to go before he gets on message.

-- Matt Trowbridge of the Rockford (IL) Register Star believes Iowa last night provided the blueprint on how a team could defeat Illinois.

* Intimidate Illinois' not-so-big big men.
* Don't give Illinois' three star guards room to shoot, drive or pass.
*And you have to do both. One doesn't work without the other, which explains why Illinois came in shooting 51 percent.

-- Barker Davis of the Washington Times rips into ESPN & the ACC. Dick Vitale's favorite league may have won the Big Ten-ACC Challenge, but conference teams aren't doing so hot against the Big East. This column is well worth the time of ACC fans and foes alike.

-- Meet Nick Williams, a big part of Bog Huggins' offense. Joe Kay of the AP has a kind profile of the former Kansas State Wildcat about which you (likely) know very little. Williams' progress must be encouraging for Bearcat nation, but I'm still of the opinion that as goes Jason Maxiell, so goes Cincinnati.

-- Is Notre Dame's Chris Thomas still an NBA prospect? If so, why? (If the answer has anything to do with Danny Ainge, Shoot. Me. Now).

they were only freshmen

-- Arizona State and Ike Diogu are fast falling out of national favor. The latest setback for the Sun Devils? An 88-66 loss to Oregon State. And to think, Rob Evans had a good thing going at Ole Miss.

-- Eastern Connecticut guard Antwoine Key died last night after collapsing during the opening minutes of a game at Worcester State. May he rest in peace.

-- Monte Hale Jr. of the Murfreesboro (TN) Daily News Journal writes that Middle Tennessee State University doesn't seem to be made of NCAA Tournament material. The Blue Raiders lack both energy and desire. A word to the wise.

-- Mike DeCourcy uses the Crawford affair as the lead in a piece on the weaknesses of this year's freshmen class. Importantly, he credits some of their struggles to the seniors who stayed. At Duke, Kansas, and North Carolina, elite former preps are stuck behind premier pros-to-be in the rotation.


-- Will Conroy's favorite player growing up was Pistol Pete Maravich. More evidence of America's slow (and not so steady) progress towards racial harmony.

-- Do the Hawkeyes fly in Peoria? Journal Star sports editor Bill Liesse believes so, suggesting last night's overtime thriller between Illinois and Iowa says more about Iowa's strengths than it does about Illinois' weaknesses. My thought? Anytime a teams shoots less than 35% from the field but still manages to defeat a Top 25 opponent, they're something special. A toast to B-Web (and to "Boy Wonder," who should be sitting pretty in a week or two after Iowa dispatches of several Big Ten's also-rans).

-- This year's Louisville Cardinals are shooting threes more accurately than any Rick Pitino team since his 1986-87 Providence Friars.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

The Inaugural

A big day for "43." I'm off to a Ball.

Use this thread to comment on Illinois-Iowa, DePaul-Marquette, Arizona-Oregon or the weekend game about which you are most excited.

in his pjs

-- Bud Withers of the Seattle Times saves face by questioning Oregon's eye-popping No. 11 ranking in the RPI. Just outside the Top 10, the 11-3 Ducks check in ahead of North Carolina, Syracuse and Kentucky, among others. Their best win? Vanderbilt (43). I too cannot explain Oregon's stratospheric ranking.

-- Outfoxed: Last week, Arizona's Lute Olson abruptly pulled Kirk Walters out of his redshirt year into second-semester eligibility. Big Isiah Fox, it seems, is not expected to be much of a contributor down the stretch. Another bad sign for the Wildcats. Ugh.

-- The NCAA today declared sophomore forward P.J. Tucker, Texas' leading scorer and rebounder, academically ineligible. Freshman center LeMarcus Aldridge is also out, having suffered a serious hip injury. Individually, either loss would be significant for the Longhorns. Together, they all but doom Texas' hopes for a Top four Tournament seed. Rick Barnes has just cause to be frustrated. For the first time in years, it seemed to this blogger that Texas had not only talent but also teamwork, not only hype but legitimate hope. They were among the teams I was to consider sending to the Elite Eight in my Tournament bracket.

-- If Northern Iowa is to pull off the first-round NCAA Tournament upset many of this blogs readers anticipate, team managers and film gurus P.J. Hogan, Tyler Struck and Justin Ruddy will be critical. Read about life in the fast lane here.

king george?

-- Former Auburn coach Sonny Smith yesterday echoed what I've been saying for weeks; the SEC is very, very weak this year.

Smith continues to follow the sport closely as the co-host of the popular, Birmingham-based Sonny and Wimp Show. Smith and former Alabama coach Wimp Sanderson also co-host at TV show aired during the basketball season on Charter Sports Southeast.

"The league (SEC) is the worst it's been in 15 years," Smith said. "It's just not good. I think in the end the conference will be ranked maybe the fourth or fifth best in the country. "Now, it's still worth watching and it's still great basketball. But I think you'll have fewer teams going to the NCAA Tournament this year than in other years."

-- The Chicago Daily Herald's Tim Sassone previews DePaul-Marquette as Quemont Greer-Travis Diener. A storyline few would have imagined before Milwaukee native Greer's breakout season. Quemont remains among college basketball's best-kept secrets.

-- "Who's 'The Man' among Muskies?" is the title of Paul Daugherty's must-read on Sean Miller's Xavier squad. A team without an identity is a team bound for the NIT. The Cincinnati Enquirer columnist does a good job -- as always -- considering the buffet of policy options available to the freshman coach.

-- Adam Pruiett of the Hardin County (KY) News-Enterprise -- a small-circulation paper with big-time college basketball coverage -- writes-up 6'8" Otis George's return to Louisville. Much-awaited and much-needed, George's size will enable an already-dangerous Cardinals squad to go further in March than their current record may suggest.

get out of jail free

-- Jared Dudley, Craig Smith and the Boston College Eagles earned an "I owe you one" from Big East referees after officials failed to call a shot clock violation against Villanova with less than a minute left. More importantly, Al Skinner's soon to be overrated club notched another victory to remain unbeaten. Now if only Skinner could capitalize on BC's newfound fame to recruit higher-level athletes rather than depending on his knack to identify hidden gems, the Eagles could sit pretty in the ACC for years.

-- Noting that not a single squad from the State of Colorado appears to be headed to the NCAA Tournament, Thomas George of the Denver Post suggests Colorado's hopefuls replicate Illinois' emphasis on fundamentals. He also writes that after last season's end (and after withdrawing from the NBA Draft) Fighting Illini guard Roger Powell Jr. became a licensed minister. Who knew?

-- Sports Illustrated's college basketball homepage has a snazzy new look. (About time). As might Danny Granger, questionable for New Mexico's game on Saturday. As I've noted before, UNM has done a tremendous job keeping Granger's status private. The Lobos' Communications shop wins my award for public relations staff of the week.

-- Gonzaga's RPI will this weekend take a hit, courtesy of road games against San Francisco (1-2, 10-6) and San Diego (1-2, 9-7).

naming rights

-- Joe Hawk of the Las-Vegas Review-Journal pleads with UNLV administrators to name the Thomas & Mack Center's floor after Jerry Tarkanian, the Runnin' Rebels ethically challenged ex-coach. Only Joe could write such a column without making so much as an attempt to address the basis for NCAA investigations. Count me as among those happy the T&M court remains nameless.

-- Lou Henson, 21 wins short of becoming only the fifth Division I coach with 800 career victories, will decide after the season whether to retire. Here's hoping he puts his health before his Hall of Fame legacy.

-- Dennis Mahoney of the Glencoe (IL) News profiles Wake Forest walk-on Brian Jessen. No Christian Moody, Jessen lives the high life without the stress of actual playing time.

-- Rick Alonzo of the St. Paul (MN) Pioneer Press suggests Minnesota's road victory against Ohio State moves the Gophers closer to a postseason berth. I agree and again advise readers to review Jeff Shelman's column on Minnesota's summer attitude adjustment. (Shelman, btw, also posted his weekly ESPN column yesterday. Why is Illinois so good? Because sharing is caring).

sick, tired & ugly

-- Long Beach State senior Cody Pearson is having trouble a sleeping. Two wins in 15 games will do that to you. Frank Burlison (who has yet to reply to an email from yours truly) wrote the Pearson piece as part of his day job with the Long Beach (CA) Press-Telegram.

-- Steve Sneddon of the Reno (NV) Gazette-Journal pens a column about Tulsa's current struggles without considering the Golden Hurricane coaching search. Too bad, as I am looking for hints of a Nolan Richardson, Matt Doherty, Josh Pastner or Mike Davis hiring.

-- Bud Withers of the Seattle Times makes his contribution to the "Larry Eustachy is back!" meme. I'm already sick of these types of pieces.

-- Indiana has won six of seven. A.J. Ratliff believes the hot streak will take the pressure off Mike Davis. Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette columnist Ben Smith disagrees, suggesting Indiana's style of play -- ugly -- will give the critics plenty about which to complain. Though they might eventually be quieted if Indiana keeps winning.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

john r.

-- Frank Burlison writes-up 12 players (Iowa State's Curtis Stinson should have been included as well to make a Baker's Dozen) worthy of consideration for the Wooden Award's mid-season Top 30 list. If Quemont Greer, Luther Head, Adam Morrison and Dijon Thompson aren't on the list, I'll leave Boston. Oh, wait, I already have.

-- Steve Mims of the Eugene (OR) Register-Guard learns Lute Olson's anti-aging solution: exercise every day. Three times a week, exercise twice a day.

-- More evidence ESPN's columnists and contributors also serve as event-promoters and used-car salesmen.

-- Jeremy Hunt is back at Memphis after slapping John Calipari around. At least he's not a criminal justice major. (Neither, it turns out, is O.J. Simpson's daughter).

-- Luke Walton's Forehead. Because there's good clever and bad clever. (And, yours truly, not clever).

meet the new boss

-- D.J., son of Darryl, Strawberry has torn his anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee and will be out the rest of the season. A tough break for Gary Williams, but one that is (hopefully) unrelated to this blogger's decision to yesterday relocate to the greater Washington, D.C. (and College Park) area.

-- As of Monday, every team among the NCAA's Top 50 field-goal percentage squads had a winning record. Reader favorite Northern Iowa checked in at 52% from the field.

-- Gregg Doyel plays on Joe Crawford's words. Kentucky's opponents will no doubt look to exploit the Crawford affair for recruiting purposes. Here's thinking they'll have little success.

-- Billy fought the (Acie) Law and the Law lost. Given Acie's play has been excellent of late, Gillispie's decision to bench him for an entire half in the Aggies' loss to Texas-Tech was as mysterious then as it is now. Gillispie isn't elaborating, saying only, "[Law] didn't do anything wrong. He just wasn't playing to the level I thought he could play." Fair enough. But coach just cost Texas A&M, a potential bubble team, a victory. Here's hoping that Billy -- as is usually the case -- is proven right about this gutsy call.

-- Pity Lorenzo Romar. He has to find minutes for Brandon Roy. In my eyes, Tre Simmons' development bodes very, very well for the Huskies come March. Now if only Washington could go to a four-guard lineup. Auburn or Villanova, here the Huskies come.

where are they now?

-- Duke's Coach K: Still against ACC expansion.

-- Mike Baldwin of the Oklahoman summarizes Oklahoma State's weaknesses following a surprisingly poor performance against the Texas Longhorns. My advice for future OSU opponents? Get Eddie Sutton's players into foul trouble.

The Cowboys lack quality depth. Zone defenses have caused trouble for one of the nation's best shooting teams. Coaches don't have confidence in any of the three big men in pressure situations. Team chemistry, a strength last season, must improve. And leadership, an expected positive, was absent against the Longhorns.

-- Ever wonder what happened to then-point guard Charles Williams, the would be final piece in Bob Huggins' 1996-1997 puzzle? Paul Daugherty of the Cincinnati (OH) Enquirer investigates, learning Williams continues to hold the Bearcats responsible for the ethical transgressions that led to his ineligibility. As well he should, for it takes two to tango. Few junior college transfers violate NCAA rules without help from a booster or assistant coach.

-- The Hardin County (KY) News-Enterprise praises Tubby Smith for giving Joe Crawford a second chance. The column starts and ends, however, very awkwardly. In the spirit of Crawford's more than awkward back and forth.

-- Scott Pitoniak of the Rochester (NY) Democrat & Chronicle suggests JT3's return to Georgetown is reigniting the Hoyas' rivalry with the Orange(men). I agree, even as a find Pitoniak's smile slimier than most.

on thin ice

-- Rusty Miller of the Associated Press gives Thad Matta some love and gets the Ohio State coach to go on record as a Patriots player who has adopted Bill Belichick's one game at a time coaching philosophy.

-- ESPN is drawing better ratings for college basketball and poker than it did for the NHL.

-- Florida State pulled off a big upset in Tallahassee? What else is new? Don't blame Chris Paul for the Deacs' loss, however, as the feisty and fun to watch point guard went for 29 against the Seminoles.

-- Not everyone is unhappy with Coach Cal. Star freshman Darius Washington is enjoying life with the Tigers. If Darius sticks around for a few more years, so too might Cal. But if Washington departs early for the NBA, his exit will signal the start of "Cal should go" rumors.


-- Coming soon to a Boys & Girls Club near you: "Nerfoop Basketball Clinics," courtesy of the Harlem Globetrotters' new promotional deal with Nerf.

-- A nice piece on UTEP's John Tofi and Giovanni St. Amant. Why? Because I can't get enough of the El Paso (TX) Times.

-- A crummy article on the Boston College Eagles. Why? Because all the Boston Globe has a few more subscribers than does the El Paso Times, few in the Globe's sports department have made the trip to Chestnut Hill. Boston is a pro sports town.

-- Lansing (MI) State Journal columnist Todd Schulz continues to rip into Michigan State's seniors, this time for not defending themselves. Enough is enough. Even if Kelvin Torbert & Co. haven't exactly lived up to the hype.

leaving on a jet plane?

-- Mark Tupper of the Decatur (IL) Herald-Review has a partial list of confirmed attendees for a weekend celebrating a century of Illinois basketball. Will Lou Henson be among those on campus? According to John Supinie of the Springfield (IL) State Journal-Register, the former Illini coach (who holds the school record with 423 wins), would very much like to attend the festivities. The Fighting Illini's athletic department has offered a private jet to transport Henson and his wife from Las Cruces, New Mexico to Champaign.

-- The Big Ten yesterday vindicated Mike Davis, admitting that Purdue's Carl Landry should have been awarded two free throw attempts rather than two points and a single free throw attempt for his heroic buzzer-beating maneuver. According to 2005 NCAA Basketball Rules and Interpretations (Rule 2-5.2.b, Rule 5-7.2.b, Rule 6-6.2), "continuation" does not apply once time runs out.

-- Very soon, the national pundits will start mentioning Charlotte (12-2 overall, 3-0 Conference USA) as a potential NCAA team. In large part due to the play of Brendan Plavich. Indiana fans are all too familiar with the sharp-shooter's antics; it was his half-court heave that brought down the Hoosiers earlier this year. Among the nation's best three-point shooters, Plavich routinely practices his jump shot from two steps inside halfcourt.

-- John Eligon of the Detroit Free Press advises Michigan to win on the road if the Wolverines are to make the NCAA Tournament while noting that history suggests Tommy Amaker's club will fair poorly in Bloomington.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Nominations Accepted: Toughest Out

for an elite squad in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

I'll suggest Vermont. Few low-major conference teams field two stars, either of whom could on any given night light up an opponent for 30+ points. Even fewer have a big man who frequently draws attention and praise from NBA scouts. T.J. Sorrentine and Taylor Coppenrath scared Kansas.

More than a few completed brackets should and will have them advancing to the second round.

Never again?

While Jay Bilas argues the ACC is only due four bids to the NCAA Tournament, I remind my readers that the conference is also guaranteed not a single trip to the Final Four. This post brought to you by the History Channel and John Feinstein's November column in the Washington Post.

In the winter of 1980, the Atlantic Coast Conference was loaded with talented basketball teams. Night after night the top six teams took turns beating each other and, as January became February, there was considerable concern that the ACC wouldn't get all the NCAA bids it thought it deserved. And so, the politicking began.

"The ACC is so strong," Duke star Gene Banks declared one day, "that if six teams get into the NCAAs, all of them will make the Final Four."

Okay, so Banks wasn't a math major. The ACC got five bids that year, and the sixth team -- Virginia -- won the National Invitation Tournament. It was, without question, the best league in the country that season. Banks, however, was just a little bit off in his calculations.

The ACC didn't send to the Final Four all five teams that got in, or even a more plausible four. Or three, two or one.

It sent none.

The sucking sound you just heard

was Missouri's hopes for an NCAA bid going down the drain. The result of the Tigers' 74-54 loss at Kansas State.

Bye, bye Quin! Sorry Melvin!

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Bank On It

For academic reasons, Sean Banks will be ineligible for the rest of the season. Several of his Memphis teammates have known as much for days.

"This is where he'll find out how big of a man he is," Memphis senior forward Arthur Barclay said. "I just hope he'll be all right."

This, I believe, is where we'll find out how long Banks waits before declaring for the NBA Draft. I just hope he gets selected.

Hard to imagine that Memphis will be better without a preseason Naismith Award candidate. But at 9-8 after being picked 24th to start the year, it is also hard to imagine the Tigers playing any worse.

His departure might, on the contrary, be a case of addition by subtraction. Perhaps without Sean and Jeremy Hunt, arrested this past week for assaulting his ex-girlfriend, Memphis can focus not on players' poor behavior but on winning basketball games. And John Calipari, a coach who needed little talent to win at Massachusetts, might finally lead the depth-less Tigers to over-performance rather than underachievement.

trips right?

Blogger Ed Cone suggested I break up my morning posts to enable topic-specific commentary and promote cross-linking from other blogs. Ed's an old pro with tremendous blogosphere cred and experience...Here goes nothing. A max of four to five thoughts per post.

-- Yesterday's open thread produced 53 comments (!) and counting. I'm speechless. But very glad folks are finding this blog a site for intelligent and passionate conversation about college basketball.

-- More important than Salim Stoudamire's game winning three-pointer against UCLA was the sharp-shooting guard's attitude. After nearly falling into one of his famous funks, Stoudamire dug himself out of a mental hole during the halftime break, re-emerging to go 9-of-11 from the field in the second half and scoring 24 of the Wildcats' final 29 points.

-- Oregon State coach Jay John left yesterday's game against Washington in an ambulance and was hospitalized overnight Saturday after complaining about chest pains. No word this morning on how the 46-year-old coach is recovering.

-- Owing to the Fighting Illini's own strengths rather than Northwestern's weaknesses, Illinois is 18-0 and off to the school's best start in history. The AP story on the subject was picked up by nearly every paper in America. I picked it up from the Chicago Tribune.

-- Villanova can't buy a break. First, forward Curtis Sumpter, the 'Cats leading scorer and rebounder, goes down with a knee injury that will keep him out three to six weeks. Second, center Jason Fraser breaks his hand and will need four to six to weeks to recover. Third, the team's charter flight home from Providence experiences an instrument problem and has to make an emergency landing. Is it any wonder that Nova's bad luck has become some sort of meme, picked up by papers throughout New England? Gavin Keefe adds that Villanova players have had eight surgical procedures in the last 22 months. Ouch.

on the grange

-- The Washington Post entertains the notion that the Atlantic 10 may be a one-bid league. Unless a capable Temple team dominates in conference play, I fear the Post's thought will bear fruition.

-- When even Steve Carp of the Las Vegas Review Journal is unable to learn Danny Granger's status following his arthroscopic surgery, you know New Mexico coach Ritchie McKay is doing a tremendous job respecting his star player's privacy request. Granger wisely figures that when it comes to NBA scouts, ignorance is bliss.

-- Indiana defeated Purdue in double-overtime. But one need not look much farther than the SportsCenter highlights to believe that Mike Davis knows he's as good as gone. After Marshall Strickland & Co. began to celebrate following their improbable victory, a frustrated Davis was seen -- with nary a smile -- walking to shake hands with coach Keady. There is no joy in Bloomington. (And why should there be)?

-- Louisville's gut-check victory over Cincinnati was a win-win for both squads. Louisville learned it remains talented enough to make a run at the Final Four. Cincinnati learned they are a much better team than the pundits expected in preseason and can hang with the country's elite. Come March, the Bearcats are as good a pick as any to upset a team or two en route to the Sweet Sixteen or -- you heard it here first -- Elite Eight.

32 straight

-- Blaine Newnham remains employed by the Seattle Times (unlike many others) and pens a puff piece about the Washington Huskies' Tre Simmons. More than a role player and less than a star, Simmons is Romar's go-to shooter.

-- Bill Hass of the Greensboro (NC) News & Record writes a column about North Carolina State's RPI rating, a cool 113. In other words, it would be wise for the Wolfpack to today defeat Georgia Tech. Previewed here.

-- Mark Simon works as a researcher for ESPN's college basketball coverage. Then why are his "College Hoops Extra" columns "specials" to ESPN? Come to think of it, why are Dick Vitale's columns also "specials" to ESPN? Anyone? Bueller? Reemer?

-- Via a comment on ACC Hoops, the probability Wake Forest, a squad that shoots about 65% from the line, would make 32 consecutive free throws against North Carolina was 0.000103%.

-- Connecticut is considering an offer from Arizona for the two teams to play a game in Phoenix during the 2005-2006 season. The game could be the teams' second next season, as both are already confirmed for the Maui Invitational.

please accept my apology

-- Billy Gillispie hasn't forgotten his roots or his old friends, or so says the Houston Chronicle's John Lopez. A few days ago, I suggested the "Wizard of Wellborn" is among college basketball's hottest young coaches and may soon fly the coop. A reader commented that Billy has strong ties in Texas -- relationships he might prefer not to leave behind, even for a prime coaching gig at Arizona or Indiana. More evidence to back up the reader's position.

-- I owe an apology to Tom Penders for calling him a "mediocre" coach. There is nothing mediocre about his Houston club's 8-0 home record and upset of Louisville.

-- Wake Forest yesterday defeated North Carolina. You saw the game. You formed an opinion. You need not learn mine.

-- Blogger Kyle has asked for input -- you have the power -- on where he should travel for his "Red State Basketball Goodwill Tour." Go! Vote!

-- Sean Sutton will someday coach the Oklahoma State Cowboys on an arena floor soon to be renamed in honor of his father. You know what they say about coaches who have big shoes to fill...

cheese or pepperoni?

-- Louisville Courier-Journal columnist Jerry Brewer observes Kentucky has become the clan that can shoot straight. With or without Joe Crawford, whose future, if you believe Jerry Tipton of the Lexington Herald Leader, remains in doubt ahead of his meeting with Tubby Smith. There's no guarantee coach will welcome the defector back into his ranks (though I'd find it hard to imagine otherwise).

-- Kentucky's mascot, graduate student Clay Duerson, has repeatedly violated NCAA rules by clapping university-supplied foam pads at times other than a timeout or during halftime.

-- Mike Imrem of the Daily Herald pens a column on the flip side of respect: a pizza missile coming Illinois' way. And this blogger thought Northwestern was the academic prince of the Big Ten.

-- College Sports Television continues to make progress in its effort to have Bresnan Communications add the sports station to its cable lineup. Bresnan provides cable service throughout Wyoming.