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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 29, 2005

Open Thread: Today's Games

Chat away.


Friday, January 28, 2005

More Love from Sports Ilustrated (and SportsLine)

Seth Davis & I go head-to-head in picking 10 weekend games.

Columnist vs. Blogger. CBS (TV) Analyst vs. Citizen Journalist.

Whose side are you on?

Update: Reader Eric notes CBS SportsLine Senior Writer Gregg Doyel is in the challenger's corner (read: mine).


unforgivable whitness?

-- If by "Danny Graham" Fox Sports' Frank Burlison means "Danny Granger," then yes, Utah is poised to sweep the Mountain West unless the 6'8" forward returns to action sooner rather than later.

-- Don Ruiz of the Tacoma (WA) News-Tribune notes that Washington actually appreciated the "o-ver-ra-ted" chants sung by University of Arizona fans. Why? Because the attention bestowed upon the Huskies speaks to their having arrived on the national scene.

-- This weekend, enjoy your free preview of ESPN360.

--Controvery has erupted over a soon to be released movie on Texas Western's 1966 run to the NCAA Championship. Rob Miech of the Las Vegas Sun seems to agree with veteran college basketball writer Billy Reed that Adolph Rupp was not (quite) the racist he is made out to be.


Free at Last, Free at Last,

-- Thank God, Almighty, I'm Free at Last! Phillip Wilson of the Indianapolis Star reports that every single NCAA Tournament game will be available online for my viewing pleasure.

Through a multiyear agreement with CBS SportsLine.com and the NCAA, College Sports Television has secured exclusive video streaming rights for out-of-market games. "NCAA March Madness On Demand" will cost $19.95. A 50 percent discount is available through February 8th.

-- Brendan Lowe of the University of Maryland Student Newspaper explains how a Maryland fan tricked the Cameron Crazies into chanting about a Duke scandal involving a former crack cocaine dealer rather than criticizing Terrapin forward Nik Caner-Medley. Today's must-read.

-- Following last night's Arizona-Washington game, a duel the Wildcats won in large part by shooting 38 of 40 from the free throw line, Lute Olson suggested that "Despite what people might say in the Atlantic Coast Conference, you couldn't possibly see a better game than this one." SportsCenter producers begged to differ, using Georgia Tech's overtime victory over Wake Forest as the lead for the popular show. East Coast Sports Network: 1 Silver-Haired Fox: 0.

-- Jeff Shelman of ESPN.com and the Minneapolis Star Tribune, himself a blogger, has today's other must-read, a profile of Wichita State. The Shockers are one of four teams likely to play Nevada during "Bracket Buster" Saturday. The other three, according to ESPN's Andy Katz, are Bradley, Vermont, and Western Michigan. UTEP is set to play at Pacific.

-- Horizon League commissioner Jon LeCrone, one of three folks who'll determine "Braket Buster" matchups, may help both the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay and UW-Milwaukee secure a TV gig, or so writes Rob Demovsky of the Green Bay Press Gazette.


not in kansas anymore

-- Will Boston College basketball follow the lead of Boston College football? After much mid-season hype, the football Eagles faltered when it counted most.

-- Former Duke star Bobby Hurley is giving sportscasting a try.

-- The Sporting News' Mike DeCourcy is right to praise Kansas State's Jim Wooldridge. Any coach who directs Kansas State to a 10-4 record vs. Division I foes deserves praise, not criticism. Particularly since among the 10 wins are victories over Iowa State, Missouri, Washington State, and Wyoming.

-- The USC affair won't keep Rick Majerus out of the headlines.


marky mark

-- Steve Kelley of the Seattle Times does up Krzyzewskiville. A fun read.

-- Best of luck to Lynn Parman. But I wouldn't give up my ticket. Even in the name of developing downtown Lawrence.

-- Arizona St. won a "must-win" game against Washington State. Oregon, however, lost to California, casting a shadow over the Ducks NCAA Tournament hopes.

-- When the Boston Globe's Mark Blaudschun bothers to cover college basketball, he does a good job. See, for example, today's column. Mark correctly notes that the two favorites for Big East Coach of the Year are Boston College's Al Skinner and Georgetown's John Thompson III.

-- Dan Raley of the Seattle P-I recaps Arizona-Washington. The Arizona Daily Star's Greg Hansen couldn't be happier.


joe knows...

-- Michael Dirocco of the Florida Times-Union notes LSU's Glen Davis is giving new meaning to the term "Big Baby," Joe Crawford and Tubby Smith are still not on the same page and Eddie Fogler will never work a Fox Sports Net broadcast of a South Carolina game. The bit about Crawford showing up in street clothes for a game in which Tubby had cleared him to play is a keeper.

-- Tom Housenick of the Sunbury (PA) Daily Item gives a little love to Bucknell, winners of 11 straight. Are they worthy of an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament? Perhaps. But don't expect the Patriot League squad to get it.

-- Chuck Hayes has been cleared to play on Saturday.

-- It is only a matter of time (I hope) until college basketball follows football's lead and embraces Friday-night games.

-- Dan Monson ain't going nowhere, or so says University of Minnesota athletics director Joel Maturi. More from Jeff Shelman.


preps

-- Remember Louisville's loss to Houston? The upset started the Cardinals' current hot streak, or so suggests the Hardin County (KY) Enterprise's Nathaniel Bryan. Louisville Courier-Journal staff writer Eric Crawford has a different take, finding the return of Denny Crum's 2-2-1 full court press the key to recent success.

-- The Chicago Tribune's Rick Morrissey suggests the Fighting Illini and their fans embrace an undefeated season. In Rick's eyes, there is no such thing as a "good loss."

-- Neil Milbert and Marlen Garcia, also of the Trib, praise the once again Golden Gophers ahead of the Minnesota-Illinois game. Wouldn't it be grand if the "unheralded assortment of walk-ons, junior-college transfers, former role players and freshmen, tied for third in the conference," took it to Bruce Weber's club? David vs. Goliath, indeed.

-- Adam Van Brimmer of the Morris News Service writes-up Georgia Tech's face-saving win over Wake Forest. But while the rest of the chattering class heaps praise upon Bynum, Jack and the Yellow Jackets, I last night found more about which to be concerned. Namely, Georgia Tech's inabilty to hold a big first-half lead.

-- Neither Tom Izzo nor Detroit Free Press columnist Michael Rosenberg are happy following Michigan State's win over Michigan. Such is the life when the Spartans fail to produce at the offensive end.


jerry! jerry!

-- Mike Finger of the San Antonio Express-News finds Jack Ingram happy to be at Illinois. Love local profiles of high school stars who made good.

-- Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang was spotted at the Stanford-Oregon state game.

-- Quad City (IA) Times columnist Don Doxsie blames Steve Alford.

-- "Zero down at" Ira (Berkow of the New York Times) speaks with Phil Martelli. Even Joe Lunardi can't get the Hawks into the NCAA Tournament this year.


Thursday, January 27, 2005

footballs to the head

Sports Illustrated's Grant Wahl yesterday wrote that in suggesting the ACC's move away from a double round-robin format was a small price to pay for Miami and Virginia Tech to join the conference and improve ACC basketball, Stewart Mandel proved he had "taken a few too many footballs to the head."

Fair enough. But to confirm Grant's diagnosis, I put the chimps to work. And learned Mandel often gets basketball and football confused.

Previewing the 2003-2004 college basketball season, Mandel predicted Notre Dame would play its way into the Final Four on the back of First Team All-American Chris Thomas.

That turned out not to be true. Yet Stewart's faith was unshaken.

The following year, Mandel predicted in his 2004-2005 college basketball preview that Notre Dame would this year make the Final Four, courtesy of Player of the Year Chris Thomas.

Losers of two straight, Notre Dame is presently an unlikely bet to make the semifinals of the Big East Tournament, much less the NCAA Tournament.


cover me

-- Ahead of tonight's Arizona-Washington throw-down, Tim Korte of the AP profiles Lorenzo Romar. From St. Louis to stardom. Corky Simpson takes a different route, tracing the evolution of Arizona's McKale Center. His second paragraph is a gem.

Once upon a time students carried books into McKale Center because it was so quiet - during games - they could concentrate on their studies.

Game previewed here. Greg Hansen of the Arizona Daily Star also goes back in time here.

-- Maryland beat Duke. And there was (too) much rejoicing. Even at Duke, where students were arrested for paying homage to the Will Ferrell movie "Old School." Police found more than 200 Blue Devils in a fraternity house basement with an inflatable pool, a bounty of baby oil and bikini-clad collegiates.

-- The Boston Herald gets letters! Affirming the lack of Beantown interest in the undefeated Boston College Eagles.

I just wanted to thank you for your continued support of BC basketball.

It's a fine sports section that doesn't overlook college athletics, despite spectacular pro sports. I had hoped that NESN would feel the same way, especially considering the season that BC's having, however they've decided not to air the upcoming BC vs. PC game.

Like you always do, could you please write a detailed story about the game as I won't be able to see it?

Jake Yost

-- The Western Athletic Conference has all but signed a contract with ESPN for next season. Expect to see your less than favorite west coast conference teams (pun intended) as part of ESPN's "Big Monday."

-- Raising Oklahoma: The Sooners' success has led ESPN2 to pick up two more of their games for national broadcast.


a Head above the rest

-- The Sporting News' Mike DeCourcy considers the likelihood for four, five or six ACC bids for the NCAA Tournament. His argument is persuasive and the facts (read: RPI Ratings) back him up. Still, it is hard for me to justify a bid for any team other than Duke, Maryland, North Carolina and Wake Forest following North Carolina State's home loss to Florida State. Von Wafer remains hot.

-- Bad News: WYIN Channel 56 out of Merrillville, Indiana was unable to broadcast last night's game between Indiana and Minnesota. Good News (sort of): The Hoosiers lost and the failed telecast might thus save Mike Davis a (little) bit of grief. See no evil...Minneapolis Star-Tribune staff writer and ESPN Columnist Jeff Shelman, himself a blogger, recaps the game.

-- Temple last night lost to Fordham. So much for the NCAA Tournament.

-- Decatur (IL) Daily Herald trend-setter Mark Tupper, himself a blogger, pens a "special" for the Quad-City (IA) Times in which he argues Luther Head is the Big Ten MVP. Here, here.

-- Joe White of the Associated Press writes that George Washington has fallen from grace faster than you can say Pops Mensah-Bonsu. The Colonials have hit a rough stretch. But I wouldn't hold it against Karl Hobbs. In my book, he remains one of college basketball's rising stars.


stays in vegas

-- The State of Pennsylvania's Department of General Services is focusing on cost overruns and a leaky roof in it's suit against the architects responsible for designing the Petersen Events Center. Conceived years ago as a $35 million project, the arena ballooned into a $119 million affair. About a year old, Petersen's roof already has more than 200 holes.

-- The Albuquerque (NM) Tribune's Jeff Carlton, himself a blogger, finds a few less than happy Lobos fans on Internet message boards. What a difference Danny Granger's absence made.

-- Sin City, indeed. Lois Tarkanian, the wife of former UNLV basketball coach Jerry Tarkanian, won a Las Vegas City Council seat in a special election. Councilors better bring a few extra towels to council meetings. Munchie, munchie.

-- Wendell Barnhouse of the Forth Worth (TX) Star-Telegram profiles North Carolina's Jawad Williams, for my money the most under-appreciated player on a Top 25 squad.

-- Jerry Brown of the East Valley (AZ) Tribune states the obvious: the Arizona State Sun Devils badly need to win tonight's game against Washington State.


Sports Illustrated!

-- "Tar Heel Moments" donated two framed prints to North Carolina basketball. Ok...

-- The Wisconsin State Journal's Tom Oates is less than happy with ESPN's college basketball gang after "worldwide leader" pundits criticized the play of Badger Brian Butch. Never thought I'd defend Digger Phelps and Dick Vitale, but they were right. Butch has failed to live up to expectations.

-- Steve Alford is less than happy with Jeff Horner after the Iowa Hawkeye failed to cover his man on the final possession of last night's game against Northwestern. The result? "Iowa turns victory into defeat."

-- Grant Wahl of Sports Illustrated suggests Tulsa administrators and boosters interview Arizona's Josh Pastner for the school's head-coaching gig. Well-connected in Houston and experienced beyond his years, Pastner will make a great head coach. More from (rather than about, hint, hint) Pastner soon.

-- Wahl also gave a shout-out to a few of our favorite friends.

Got some nice responses to last week's query seeking the best national college basketball blogs. Here are the ones I'd suggest checking out:

Yoni Cohen's College Basketball Blog: Easily the most complete national blog out there, updated regularly and not full of venomous snipes at teams or mainstream media types like some blogs. (Most compelling nomination came from Sandra of Anchorage, Alaska.)

Ken Pomeroy's Blog: Ken's one of the best and most thought-provoking number-crunchers out there.

The Mid-Majority: Excellent blog by Kyle Whelliston keeps tabs on the world outside of the major conferences.

And here are three solid conference blogs to check out as well:

Big Ten Wonk
ACC Basketblog
ACC Hoops Blog



Wednesday, January 26, 2005

matchmaker

My favorite adjustment to the 2005 "Bracket Buster?" Games which are scheduled for this February serve as the front end of a home-and-home series to be completed as a non-conference (and non "Bracket Buster") game next season.

Of the 32 total "Bracket Buster" games, 11 will be nationally televised on the ESPN networks. Given the 64 teams for the 2005 event, which 22 would the NCAA selection committee most like to see on national television? Against whom should each team play?

Consider the highest-rated squads, by RPI, and ESPN's pre-determined home and away designations.

"Bracket Buster" Squads
AwayRPI HomeRPI
Southern Illinois 14Pacific 29
Vermont18Kent State34
Wichita State19Nevada 37
Western Michigan 32 Rice41
Bradley 45 Ball State55
UTEP49Northern Iowa66
Arkansas Little-Rock54 Miami of Ohio71
Buffalo60Bowling Green81
Drexel70 Hawaii 82
Wisconsin-Milwaukee80Western Kentucky 83
Murray State 95 Illinois-Chicago87

Then consider conference affiliation, geography and storylines. The result?


Suggested Games
Southern Illinois@Pacific
Vermont@ Kent State
Wichita State@Nevada
Western Michigan@Rice
Bradley@Ball State
UTEP@Northern Iowa
Arkansas Little-Rock@Miami of Ohio
Buffalo@Illinois-Chicago
Drexel @ Bowling Green
Wisconsin-Milwaukee@Western Kentucky
Murray State@ Hawaii

Oh, what a day of basketball it would be.

For more "Bracket Buster" analysis, see Blogger Ken Pomeroy. He too reviewed RPIs and suggested a series of games. Our lone overlap? UTEP at Northern Iowa. Also, ESPN's Andy Katz reveals a few of the cards held by the "worldwide leader." Pairings will be announced January 30th.


Austin Powers

Reader Martin investigates, learning Neshoba Democrat sportswriter Austin Bishop cast the lone No. 1 vote for Duke in this week's AP poll. "Tabbed to vote in the poll for the first time after 27 years in the business," Bishop made a terrible mistake. More here.

Including mention of Austin's third-place Heisman Trophy vote for former Georgia kicker (!) Kevin Butler.


don't hate me because I'm beautiful

-- More from the John Chaney for DNC Chair Communications Shop:

"I hate everything out here. It's not the people I hate, it's what they did that I hate."

John Chaney, Temple head coach and John Kerry supporter on the voters in Cincinnati supporting President Bush in the November election.

-- Street Ball: The Champaign, Illinois City Council will soon vote to rename a section of First Street running near Assembly Hall after Lou Henson. A well-deserved honor for the former Fighting Illini coach.

-- The Tucson Citizen's Corky Simpson praises Salim Stoudamire's stroke, noting the Arizona guard appears to be a "new man" after his one-game suspension. The stats back Simpson up. In Salim's last 10 games, he is averaging 19.1 points, while shooting 64.8 percent (34 of 54) from the arc and 93 percent from the line (40 of 43).

-- Jim Gordon of the Sante Fe New Mexican notes John Calipari is backing a losing horse. To say the least.

There are people -- you know the type -- who want junior guard Jeremy Hunt suspended just because his former girlfriend says a drunken Hunt punched her in the eye, knocked her down, hit her five or six times, then chased her into her house, where he continued to assault her.

Sure, there was a witness who saw Hunt pinning Tamika Rogers to a bed and heard her calling for help.

Sure, Rogers showed signs of a beating, with one eye black and blue, the other swollen, cuts to her face and a bruise on her neck.

Sure, Hunt was charged with assault.

Sure, there is a tape recording of a threatening phone call a man who sounds like Hunt made to Rogers, saying "I'm gonna whup your (expletive) ass for real. I'm dead serious. I might just beat the (expletive) out of you just because you're ... disrespecting me."

But thank God for the bravery of Hunt's coach. At least, I think it's his bravery.

I mean, shortly after the incident -- I'm sorry, the alleged incident -- university President Shirley Raines reminded us all that people accused of crimes are presumed innocent and said no action would be taken by the university until the school conducted a complete investigation. Any discipline for violating team rules, she said, would be Calipari's prerogative.

Then after the school's probe -- which I'm confident was very thorough and fair -- resulted in Hunt being allowed to play, Calipari told reporters the decision was made by the university.

At least the City of Memphis has an independent judiciary. A court order yesterday prohibited Hunt from having any contact with Rogers for one year. Now if only Calipari would come to his senses...

-- Holy Cross 80, American 56. Go view Kyle's artistic recap. A must-see.


Mike Gilleran!

-- Meme Watch (TM): Because College Hoops Media Matters for America. The latest talking points? Tommy Amaker is a good guy and a great coach in a tough situation. Who among the Gang of 500 is today on message? None other than the Associated Press' Larry Lage.

-- The Baltimore Sun's Jeff Zrebiec considers how far the mighty Terps have fallen. Why, says I? Because John Gilchrist is to Team as John Calipari is to Ethics.

-- Ray Ratto of the San Francisco Chronicle goes "behind the basketball" to consider the likelihood the West Coast Conference will get three NCAA Tournament bids. Mike Gilleran's fifteen minutes of fame.

-- Illinois defeated Wisconsin. See here, here, here, here, and here. Among thousands of other articles.


one vote

-- Greg Johns of the Olympia (WA) Olympian previews Arizona-Washington, Thursday Night's marquee matchup. Whoever negotiated the Pac-10's television contract with Fox Sports rather than ESPN should be drug out into the street and shot. (Or at least beaten by Jeremy Hunt).

-- Baylor was stunned -- stunned Chuck "I read you every day" Woodling tells you! -- by Kansas' shooting prowess. Last night's barrage, 16 three pointers in all, was a bit much. But the Jayhawks are rarely slouches from behind the arc. A silly article.

-- Another daily read, Rick Alonzo of the St. Paul (MN) Pioneer Press, gets it right, previewing tonight's all-too significant Indiana-Minnesota game. The winner becomes a good bet to go dancing. The loser is likely NIT-bound.

-- Rumors, rumors everywhere.

Vitale denied he was the lone voter in the Associated Press top 25 poll to give Duke a first-place vote this week.

"No, I voted for Illinois,'' Vitale said.

-- Lou Henson will likely attend the University of Illinois' Centennial Celebration this weekend.


ticketmaster

-- Mock brackets are up, courtesy of ESPN's Joe Lunardi and FSN's Michael (who?) Lazarus. Lunardi has Alabama as a 5, Lazarus has them as a 3. Lunardi has Boston College as a 2, Lazurus has them as 1. In other words, the who is not nearly as skilled as the St. Joseph's University "Bracketologist."

-- Notre Dame's Mike Brey is a scary, scary man. (Hi Tish!)

-- Maryland hopes to go back to the future. The Terps' chances of defeating Duke? About as good as the chances I'll land two tickets at a price I can afford to a Maryland-Duke game. My "Tickets Wanted" post on Craigslist yielded only an offer for a single ticket to the VaTech game. Sigh.

-- Arizona State assistant Tony Benford is interested in the New Mexico State job. Since when is working for embattled Arizona State coach Rob Evans qualification enough for a mid-major head coaching gig?


keep your friends close

-- Dick Jerardi of the Philadelphia Daily News issues a mea culpa about the Duke Blue Devils, learns Kansas has lost by 30 points or more at least seven times in the school's history, wonders how the struggling Pittsburgh Panthers went from among the ten worst three-point shooting teams in 2003-2004 to one of the ten best in 2004-2005 and commends Ike Diogu for scoring double figures in 78 consecutive games.

-- Following Dick Bennett's inflammatory gesture, Pac-10 conference athletic directors will consider a proposal that forbids schools from seating students directly behind an opposing team's bench. Oregon's Ernie Kent is a proponent of the proposed reform, suggesting the practice is "an embarrassment for the Pac-10 waiting to happen." Another melee in Motown, here we come?

-- Neither the Sporting News' Mike DeCourcy nor ESPN's Andy Katz is up with their respective "Daily Dishes." Game ball therefore goes to CBS SportsLine's Gregg Doyel, who in this morning's "Daily Dribbles" takes Bob Knight to task for scolding Texas' Rick Barnes. Why? Because Texas fans within earshot of the General were verbally abusive during last night's game. Maybe ol' Ernie Kent was onto something...

-- Former Iona assistant coach Craig Holcomb has sued the college, alleging he was fired in May because the school felt his interracial marriage hurt fund-raising. All press is not good press. Serious charges, if they stick.


Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Open Thread: Illinois-Wisconsin

Thought to live-blog the game, but decided instead to head to the bar with friends.

Use this thread to discuss the game, or give your thoughts on Daniel Horton pulling a Jeremy Hunt, Chris Walton's throat-slashing gesture in last night's Colorado State-San Diego State game, the later is better than never Associated press piece on Shelden Williams (coming soon to a major metropolitan newspaper near you), Dick Bennett's middle finger, Stan Heath's loud mouth, or the Illinois columnist who just suggested Missouri is a basketball program on the decline.


zoning laws

-- More from the "I can't believe Mike Krzyzewski is having success with a lineup of five All-Americans" meme. Had he not been accused of rape senior year, Shelden Williams would also have been honored by Mcdonalds. Giving the Blue Devils six All-Americans, one less than the rest of the ACC combined.

-- The key to slowing John Lucas? Zone Oklahoma State. Or so says a good friend of mine after examining Lucas's game-by-game performance. Baylor, Oklahoma, Syracuse and Texas all but shut down OSU's point guard while playing zone defense.

-- Andy Katz, Pat Forde and Fran Fraschilla are up with their five favorite places to watch a game. I'm shocked Assembly Hall made only Forde's list.

-- Sports Illustrated's Seth Davis gives some love to St. John's Daryll Hill. A big part of Norm's success at SJU to date. More significantly, the man who this year predicted Steve Alford would next season coach Indiana has identified Marquette's weakness. Tom Crean's club gave up 19 offensive rebounds to DePaul and 18 to Charlotte. And lost both games. More from Seth here, including the latest on Nolan Richardson's campaign for a head coaching gig.

-- Mark Schlabach of the Washington Post does some investigative reporting and learns Mike Davis is feeling the heat at Indiana. Sadly, fan heckling has gotten so bad that Davis is considering telling his wife, Tamilya, and son to stay away from Assembly Hall. But not for long, if Rick Alonzo has it right. The Minnesota beat writer and St. Paul (MN) Pioneer Press staff writer argues the Hoosiers have hit their stride after winning seven of their last eight. Will it be enough to vault Davis' club into the NCAA Tournament? Only if Bracey Wright and D.J. White continue to shine.


timing is not everything

-- Oklahoma soundly defeated Oklahoma State last night, affirming Kelvin Sampson's status as among college basketball's elite coaches -- despite a down year or two -- and (more or less) introducing Drew Lavender to the nation. Kevin Bookout and Taj Gray both played well, whereas OSU's John "garbage time" Lucas did not. With five minutes left in the first half, OSU was in danger of pulling a Washington State.

-- Stanford's Dan Grunfeld the nation's most improved player? He's scoring 18.6 a game after contributing only 3.9 last year.

-- Dirk Chatelain of the Omaha (NE) World-Press wonders how good is the Big 12? His answer? Not very good. But only because Chatelain puts too much stock in Kansas' loss to 'Nova, not enough hope in Oklahoma's return to glory, and demonstrates precious little respect for either Oklahoma State's or Texas A&M's March potential.

-- Great! Now, instead of not watching Mountain West Conference basketball games at midnight on ESPN, I can not watch them at 10 PM on CSTV.

-- Now that I reside in the greater Washington, D.C. metropolitan area rather than the greater Boston metropolitan area, what can you expect? More from the Post (e.g. here and here) and less from the Globe (e.g. here). Ivan Carter of the Washington Post fails to give his home-town squad a little respect, arguing the Colonials are unlikely to receive an NCAA Tournament bid without winning the Atlantic 10. After Saturday's loss to Richmond, I tend to agree. Still, a good article about George Washington's lack of consistency.


bo knows illinois?

-- More good news for Charlotte. Big-time high-school signee is likely to play at least a year of college basketball.

-- B.J. Elder will be out two more weeks. The struggling Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets can't get him back soon enough...Think Luke Schenscher and Jarrett Jack would have been better off declaring early for the NBA after last season? You're right. The classic Miles Simon Draft scenario.

-- Tom Oates of the Wisconsin State-Journal isn't buying the "Illinois as underdog" theme promoted by Bruce Weber. Michael Hunt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel says the Badgers' success is a function not of where they play, but how they play. Ok. But Wisconsin always plays better (and other teams worse) at the Kohl Center. More on tonight's big game from AP voter and NPR contributor John Feinstein, as well as Bloggers Illini Wonk and Big Ten Wonk. The Illini Wonk, for his part, will live-blog the game.

-- Lute Olson and family are giving one million dollars to fight against ovarian cancer. Good for the Silver Haired Fox. (And it is what Bobbi would have wanted).


election 2004/2005

-- Ladies and gentlemen, we have a new candidate for Democratic National Committee Chair. In addition to former college basketball star and Denver Mayor Wellington Webb, Temple's John Chaney wants in. Or so suggests CBS SportsLine's Gregg Doyel.

-- Josh Boone and Charlie Villanueva, bloggers? Close (enough), but not exactly.

-- Now without P.J. Tucker and LaMarcus Aldridge, Texas will attempt to camouflage its short bench by playing zone defense. Not a bad call by Rick Barnes. But one that won't save the Longhorns in this weekend's game against the Jayhawks.

-- Some fool forgot to vote Illinois the best team in America. Shame on him.


it's been real, pete

-- Steve Rivera of the Tucson Citizen struggles to understand Salim Stoudamire. He and Lute Olson both.

-- The latest on Virginia's new arena here. I've been following the story over at the ACC Hoops blog. Pete Gillen is gone, gone, gone. And he won't. go. on...He's lost that love and feeling, yeah that love and feeling...

-- The new University of North Texas logo is winning few fans and drawing numerous detractors.

-- Reid Hanley of the Chicago Tribune excuses Michigan's troubles as health-related. Daniel Horton is the latest question mark for Tommy Amaker's tough-luck bunch.

-- All in the family: The Boston Globe does up Tony Barros, cousin of former Boston College guard Dana Barros and the Associates Press writes up Rodney Billups, the younger brother of former Colorado star Chauncey Billups.


bloggers?

-- Paola Boivin of the Arizona Republic suggests Arizona State could earn an NCAA Tournament big with a .500 conference record. Why? Because the Pac-10 remains the nation's second-best conference, at least according to the RPI.

-- Quick, name the new St. Bonaventure coach. No idea? Then read on.

-- Josh Boone and Charlie Villanueva, bloggers? Close (enough), but not exactly.

-- Ken Stocks of the Galveston County (TX) Daily News hearts Tom Penders.

-- Call it a comeback. Florida's Matt Walsh is back in action tonight. Now if only the Gators could get rid of Billy Donovan...


in living color

Watching the San Diego State game (though my buddy keeps changing the channel to Maria Sharapova's tennis match).

If Bill Walton is at the game, why isn't he doing color commentary for the "worldwide leader?" I loved hearing the elder Walton work games in which his son Luke was playing.


Monday, January 24, 2005

booked out

Watching the Oklahoma game. Joey Graham missed his first three-pointer.

Oklahoma leads 19-2. DREW LAVENDER.

Color commentary:

"Gray has been absolutely terrific. He's done everything but sell tickets tonight."

My thought:

"Sean Sutton needs to scowl more if he is to effectively succeed Eddie at Oklahoma State."

Update: 48-31. Oklahoma had something like 43 points on 19 assists. Amazing.

Final Update: Sooners win, 67-57. Oklahoma rising, indeed.


juiced

Watching the Rutgers game. More than surprised to see the Orange losing to the Scarlet Knights (7-8 Overall, 1-4 Big East). Credit Gary Waters' club for solid three-point shooting.

My friend's thoughts:

"Josh Pace shoots like 60% from the field despite being unable to connect from beyond eight feet. He never misses those floaters."

"I've resigned to the fact that if Rutgers gets the ball past the half-court line, they'll knock down a three. Syracuse needs to keep them from getting down the floor."

ESPN's color commentary:

"Jim Boeheim watches a lot of ping pong. He's an avid ping pong fan, which makes a very diverse individual."

Update: Syracuse wins, despite leaving Douby open for a potential game-winner.


the big easy

-- Tom Luici of the Newark (NJ) Star-Ledger asks two very good questions in his latest column.

Why is it that the Big East only grudgingly gets the national respect it deserves year after year? A case in point: Boston College had to win its first 16 games before finally cracking the top 10. That doesn't happen if the Eagles are playing in the ACC (which they will do next season). Take a 16-0 ACC team -- any 16-0 ACC team -- and it gets rubber-stamped as a top 10 team. Maybe No. 2-ranked Kansas' loss Saturday to Villanova -- a mid-pack Big East team -- will change some attitudes about the league this year. But probably not.

Would someone please explain why it is that so many college basketball "experts" are enamored with Providence's Ryan Gomes? He was a consensus first-team All-American last year, yet you could have compiled a All-Big East first team without him on it. He was voted the league's preseason Player of the Year this season -- but the Friars are the league's only winless team. So let's review: Gomes gets nice numbers, but can't carry a team, doesn't put the ball on the floor well, isn't a good 3-point shooter and faces a questionable future in the NBA because he's 6-7 and doesn't have a true position. He couldn't stop Providence from losing four straight to close out last year and he hasn't been a factor in the Friars' past two losses in a disappointing 9-8 season. But he wins lots of awards.

-- Roy Williams is working with North Carolina athletics director Dick Baddour to make the Smith Center as hostile as Carmichael. Some of the changes since Dean's time? More pregame music, new "ribbon" message boards and, next season, new giant video screens.

-- Illinois-Wisconsin previews here, here, and here.

-- Steve Kelley of the Seattle Times finds Nate Robinson maturing with every game. The explosive Huskies star isn't forcing shots, trying to put up dazzling numbers or playing for himself. Rather, he's been the consummate team player this season, helping his teammates develop and Washington win. All the more reason to expect a great March run from Lorenzo Romar's squad.


today's MoVal "bracket buster"

-- Stan Heath thinks it is about time to notch a Big Win. I agree. Fortunately, Kentucky comes calling on Saturday.

-- Bill Koch of the Cincinnati Enquirer examines the effect last week's benching has had on Armein Kirkland's play. I think Bob Huggins went a little too far in comparing the would-be Bearcat star to Chris Paul, Steve Logan, Nick Van Exel and Kenyon Martin.

-- Bob Thomas of the Florida Times-Union writes-up criticisms of the ACC's now unbalanced schedules. Nothing new here.

-- Pittsburgh's Dante Milligan, a 6'8" redshirt freshman, has decided to transfer. Not a big loss for the Panthers.

-- Andrew Logue of the Des Moines (IA) Register previews Northern Iowa-Wichita State and asks if both squads, along with Southern Illinois, could receive NCAA Tournament bids. The answer is yes, but only if each wins nearly the rest of their games.


Week in Review: Now We Know

(See also Gregg Doyel's Week in Review and Pat Forde's 40 Minutes)

1. To look forward to Oklahoma-Oklahoma State (Monday) and Illinois-Wisconsin (Tuesday).

2. Syracuse is guilty of ballot-stuffing Planters' "nuttiest fans" contest. (Cast your vote here).

3. Numerous newspaper editors dislike Dick Vitale. Or at least find him controversial.

4. Wichita State is for real. The Shockers should shock us no more.

5. (Georgetown's) JT3 will have a more successful career than (Home Improvement's) JTT. And Craig Esherick was a really, really, really bad head coach.

6. To trust Bruce Weber. Over the summer, he brought in (former) NBA personnel to speak to his studs about what lay in their future -- and keep the Fighting Illini focused on the present.

7. Sean Banks is not only a "head-case" bit also an "airhead."

8. Paul Hewitt and the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets have lost their MoJo.

9. Budget cuts are undermining Colorado Buffs' academic performance. And somebody in Boulder actually cares! (Good for RP).

10. To keep an eye on Indiana. Might the Hoosiers' recent hot streak enable Mike Davis to keep his job? Or Bracey Wright to silence his critics?

11. Why Duke rarely plays quality road games early in conference play.

12. Arizona's Salim Stoudamire is more mature than he was last season. Bench me once, shame on me. Bench me twice, shame on me. Bench me thrice, shame on...me.

13. The MVC & WCC are worthy of our undivided attention.

14. To expect to see John Chaney at the NCAA Tournament.

15. Regis Koundjia could be the next big thing at George Washington.

16. ACC expansion was a bad idea. For everyone but instant celebrity Fred Barakat.

17. Pittsburgh still has some juice.

18. Villanova has the Wright Stuff for a March bid.

19. Joe Bendel is the only AP voter whose primary email address is courtesy of AOL.

20. Northwestern alum Luke Winn is even prettier than we thought.

21. (Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god). Coach K can lead five McDonalds All-Americans to a 14-0 record. He must be the best coach ever. (Hat tip: Dave).

22. To never doubt Craig Smith, Jared Dudley or Al Skinner.

23. Jews can coach. Witness Seth Greenberg at VaTech.

24. Ben Howland has yet to turn around UCLA.

25. To back Quemont Greer for Conference USA Player of the Year.

26. Never to bet for or against North Carolina State. Just when the gang of 500 (read: msm) and the cabal of 100 (read: bloggers) were about to write off the Wolfpack entirely, Herb Sendek's club beats Maryland. At Maryland.

27. Shelden Williams is, at minimum, a third-team All-American. (I fought the law and the law won).

28. DimeBetting.com is a loyal supporter of this site. My first advertiser is back for their third consecutive month!

29. Oklahoma is a Top 15 team.

30. Kelenna Azubuike may be unable to declare for the NBA Draft at season's end. Sorry pops.

31. Washington is worth staying up late to watch. Especially now that Brandon Roy is back.

32. Ike Diogu has yet to fall from national grace.

33. To support Luther Head for Big Ten Player of the Year.

34. Precious little about Tulsa's head coaching search.

35. A Memphis media personality is less than happy with Coach Cal.

36. ESPN is drawing better ratings for replacement college basketball (and poker) than it drew for the NHL.

37. Joe Crawford is dazed, confused and back where he belongs.

38. Illinois can be beaten. (Or so the pundits claim).

39. Saturday's Open Thread generated 56 comments (and counting).

40. March Madness will be better than ever.


Sunday, January 23, 2005

soft and sloppy

-- Without mincing words, the Lawrence (KS) Journal-World's Chuck Woodling suggests the start of yesterday's second half against Villanova was "the worst 12 1/2-minute stretch in Kansas University's storied men's basketball history." For Woodling's behind the stat sheet analysis, read on. The number I found most interesting? Of Kansas' 22 turnovers, 15 were a result of Wildcat steals. In other words, Kansas may have been sloppy with the ball, but it was Villanova's aggressive defense that enabled Jay Wright's club to seize the day and rout the Jayhawks.

-- Last week's costliest loss? George Washington's defeat at the hands of the Massachusetts Minutemen. On January 11th, the Colonials were number 18 in the RPI. On January 22nd, number 53. Ouch.

-- Is Bob Knight going soft? According to St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist Bernie Miklasz, the General invited Dan Graville, a 93-year-old basketball fan, to watch Texas Tech's walk-through before a recent game against Missouri. After the pregame practice, coach signed autographs and posed for photos with Graville.

-- There are leads and then there are leads. The Washington Post's Mike Wise begins a piece on Maryland's coach with the intro of the day: "The great thing about a seemingly miserable guy like Gary Williams is, at his core, he craves the hardship. Given the choice between prosperity and a cigarette and blindfold, he might ask for a match..."



dwarfs!

-- Via Blogger Nestor, a (temporarily broken link to a) piece on Ben Howland and Steve Lavin breaking bread while flying thousands of miles above Pauley Pavilion.

-- The Mountain West Conference is 11-32 against the Atlantic Coast, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pacific-10, Southeastern and West Coast conferences, leading Las Vegas Review-Journal columnist Joe Hawk to suggest only Utah is due a NCAA Tournament bid. Enjoy (I did) Hawk's well-developed metaphor about "Utah and the Seven Dwarfs" here.

-- Tickets for the Nov. 21-23 Maui Invitational are now on sale. Next year's event should be the best ever, with six of eight participants having recently won national championships. The Maui field will include Arizona (1997), Arkansas (1994), Connecticut (1999, 2004), Kansas (1952, 1988), Maryland (2002), Michigan State (1979, 2000), Gonzaga and host Chaminade.

-- Upon Joe Crawford's entry into the LSU game, the Kentucky student section immediately began chanting, "Let's go Crawford." Good for them. And for Crawford. Maturity 1, Immaturity 0.



are you ready for some football?

-- Why wasn't Southern Illinois University-Wichita State televised? Because the Missouri Valley Conference in October decided Evansville-Indiana State would be the featured matchup for broadcast on January 22nd. A wise decision? No. But an understandable (if unfortunate) one? Yes.

-- Raising Oklahoma. After last night defeating Texas, the Sooners are poised for a return to the Top 15. Kevin Bookout, Taj Gray and Drew Lavender are once again raising Kelvin Sampson's profile after a couple tough years at OU. I'm already looking forward to the Sooners' "Big Monday" game against Oklahoma State.

-- Ken Tysiac of the Charlotte (NC) Observer suggests Coach K is doing more with less at Duke. I must admit to being more than amazed at the Blue Devils' success in 2004-2005. But continue to believe a lack of depth will cost them dearly in the NCAA Tournament.

-- Don't look now, but Old Dominion (16-2, 6-0) has won five in a row and taken a two-game lead in the Colonial Athletic Association. How has former Montana coach Blaine Taylor built ODU into a CAA power? By recruiting internationally.

-- Good News: Rashad Anderson still has confidence in his shot. Bad News: I don't. Where have Anderson and Denham Brown gone this season?



speaking too soon

-- The National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association has named Steve Carp, the excellent and oft cited Las Vegas Review-Journal basketball reporter, the Nevada Sportswriter of the Year. Having read Carp's pieces for several months now, I can attest to the high quality of his work. Congrats to Carp on a much-deserved honor! Read Steve's latest here.

-- Ben Howland and the UCLA Bruins are back to their old ways, losing three in a row after a fast Pac-10 start. The Daily Breeze's Jim Thomas suggests the recent loss to the struggling Cal Bears marks "the low point of Coach Ben Howland's two years at UCLA" while the Pasadena (CA) Star-News' Kevin Modesti begins work on a new book about Howland, "Half-Season on the Brink." And to think, I -- and several other pundits and bloggers -- had two weeks ago applauded Howland’s success and heralded a new era of Bruin basketball.

-- Vermont has won 10 in a row. Yeaaaargh!

-- Xavier's Sean Miller believes Temple point guard Mardy Collins deserves consideration for All-American honors. If Collins leads the Owls back into the NCAA Tournament, he'll get a good, long look from this blogger.

-- As goes Vince Grier, so go the Minnesota Gophers. Or so writes Rick Alonzo of the St. Paul (MN) Pioneer Press.


Water Boy!

-- Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim is five wins away from 700.

-- Following the Iowa game, every pundit has ideas for Illinois' opponents. Beat writer's Lindsey Willhite's primary suggestions?

* Focus your defense almost exclusively on guards Luther Head, Deron Williams and Dee Brown.
* Play your shot-blockers.

-- Jeff Hagen, trooper.

-- Nik Caner-Medley is Maryland's Maine attraction. Affirming the "Vacation State" exports more than just lobsters, America's second-best whitey (after Travis Diener) gets a nice write-up in the Baltimore Sun. Turns out Nik and Adam Sandler have more than you might have expected in common.