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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, February 12, 2005

Open Thread: Today's Games

(Sorry about the delay).

A Saturday tradition. Your comments on today's games? I'm working on my "morning" roundup while watching Illinois-Wisconsin.


by the numbers

-- Lute Olson goes after Dick Vitale in Steve Rivera's latest piece for the Tucson Citizen. "How can someone continue to go on TV and say that Redick is the greatest shooter in the country?" Citing numbers provided to him by Arizona's sports information department, Olson noted Redick would have to hit 71 consecutive shots to equal Stoudamire's 53 percent shooting and make 53 consecutive three-pointers to equal Stoudamire's three-point percentage of 55.3. Woah.

-- The Melee in Motown, Arkansas style. Methinks the NCAA will soon suspend University of Arkansas-Little Rock coach Steve Shields for more than a couple games for hitting a fan in the eye with a water bottle.

-- Are you a college basketball beat writer or columnist who would like to see your latest article or editorial linked to from my blog? Email me. Hey, if it works for ESPN's Mark Simon, it will for you. (In Simon's latest edition of "College Hoops Extra," by the way, he praises Salim Stoudamire's play following a one-game suspension, notes Pacific's secret is its ability to defend without fouling -- a very interesting observation and the real reason I linked to Mark's column -- and hops on the St. John Fisher Cardinals' bandwagon. At 22-0, the Division III Cardinals are looking to schedule a game against Illinois.).

-- Pierre Pierce's attorney yesterday filed a motion (offense) seeking the dismissal of the burglary charge against the former Iowa star. Our criminal justice system is, by the way, more than a little screwed up.

Pierce, 21, of Westmont, Ill., was arraigned this week on charges of burglary, domestic abuse assault, assault with intent to commit sexual abuse, false imprisonment and criminal mischief...

The most serious charge is first-degree burglary, a felony that carries a maximum penalty of up to 25 years upon conviction.

An individual is accused of domestic abuse and assault with intent to commit sexual abuse and the most serious crime against him under law is first-degree burglary? Go figure.

-- Miami of Ohio's game-winning shot against Ball State came after the final buzzer and should not have counted, or so ruled the Mid-American Conference yesterday. Why were officials unable to review the play at the scorer's table? Because the game was not televised. Which (again) strikes me as a strange. College basketball has two sets of rules, one for games that are televised and another for games that are not. Think this arrangement would fly in professional football? Think again. (Fortunately, the AP also gets MAC commissioner Rick Chryst on record as supporting the addition of courtside monitor and video replay in every league game).


jj's digits

-- Given the number of articles written about Illinois, it is rare to find a piece with unique news or analysis. But oh so precious. Writing for the New York Times, Pete Thamel informs us Bruce Weber had his polyps removed as a preteen, wore a body cast for an entire summer as a teen, worked as a fifth-grade teacher as a young adult, made $2,000 a year as a 22-year old graduate assistant to Gene Keady at Western Kentucky, eats only one meal a day as an adult, and, as the coach of the premier squad in America, regularly munches on generic pretzels that he buys for 99 cents a box at Smitty's grocery store in West Lafayette. A very enjoyable read.

-- How 'bout dem apples? Mark Schlabach of the Washington Post reports the most protected numbers on the Duke University campus are those of J.J. Redick's new cell phone number. Redick's little brother -- and some of his teammates and closest friends -- don't even know his digits. Why the tight lips?

Redick said he took the cautionary measures after a Maryland basketball fan obtained the number to his cell phone last year and started passing it among friends at parties and bars. Redick estimates he received 50 to 75 calls a night from Terrapins fans before he changed it. He had to change the number again a couple of weeks ago, after some North Carolina fans found out what the number was.

Schlabach also devotes several hundred words to an inquiry of why Redick is so hated by opposing fans. The two competing schools of thought are that Redick is hated because he's (1) white or (2) a Dukie. I would argue it has more to do with the second.

-- Sports Illustrated's Seth Davis is up with his weekend picks. He argues North Carolina needs to notch a significant road victory -- and, without Rashad Anderson, Connecticut is ripe for the picking. He also picks Illinois over Wisconsin, Duke over Maryland, Villanova over Syracuse, Notre Dame over Pitt, Oklahoma over Missouri, DePaul over Cincy, Georgetown over West Virginia, Utah State over Pacific, and Southern Illinois over Creighton. My picks? North Carolina, Illinois, Duke, 'Nova, Pitt, Oklahoma, DePaul, Georgetown, Pacific and Southern Illinois.

-- Dave Johnson of the Hampton Roads (VA) Daily Press writes up the grassroots movement to fire Herb Sendek. Now on the web at http://fireherbsendek.com/. Fun with photoshop, eh?


top dollar?

-- Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch suggests St. Louis University bring in Anthony Bonner to coach the Billikens' big men. Here's thinking Brad Soderberg could use all the help he could get. Particularly after SLU's top scorer (a contradiction in terms), senior guard Reggie Bryant, decided to leave the team to take care of a family emergency.

-- Another nomination for professor of the year: Duke's Stephen Nowicki. Several degrees don't stop Nowicki from playing in the Blue Devils' band and charging the Cameron Indoor floor after home victories.

-- The AP's Tim Dahlberg writes that Andrew Bogut is the year's best kept secret. But Bogut is more the "Awesome Aussie" that the "Big Aussie." Come on, Tim. Get with the program.

-- Ted Miller of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports an assistant to Lorenzo Romar at Washington -- maybe former UCLA star Cameron Dollar -- will soon be offered a head coaching gig. Methinks it is a little too early for Dollar to cash in (pun intended) on Romar's success. But Miller makes a persuasive case.


fun with google. nothing to do with...Britney Spears

-- The Washington Post suggests Utah is hot, historically black colleges (of which few have winning records and many are found in the RPI's bottom 20) are cold, Penn is NCAA Tournament-bound after a rough start and argues North Carolina must beat Connecticut in Storrs if the Tar Heels are to earn a significant road victory and secure a No. 1 seed. In a separate piece, the Post also argues the RPI is flawed if in suggesting Saint Mary's (CA) is having a more impressive season than George Washington.

Is beating Gonzaga once more impressive than beating Michigan State and Maryland on consecutive days? Is beating teams such as Dayton, Temple and La Salle less impressive than beating Sacramento State, Portland and Loyola Marymount? Are road losses at Wake Forest and West Virginia worse than losses at Rutgers and Hawaii?"

-- Think Illinois can't run the regular-season table? Today's game against Wisconsin is your best bet. The Illini's trip to Masion is the last time Bruce Weber's club will face a ranked opponent before the Big Ten Tournament.

-- Southeastern Conference commissioner Mike Slive publicly reprimanded Georgia coach Dennis Felton on Friday for his comments about University of South Carolina senior forward Carlos Powell. Speaking on his radio call-in show a day after the Gamecocks won in Athens, Felton called Powell the "biggest faker and flopper" whose antics bordered on cheating.

-- Greg Auman of the St. Petersburg Times profiles Louisville's Taquan Dean, noting it was years before Dean had a stable family or future. A very good read.

-- Berry Tramel of the Olkahoman argues Kelvin Sampson's time in Stillwater is every bit as good as was Billy Tubbs. My initial reaction to his Tramel's thesis? Heck no! But he makes a Berry good case (pun intended).


spreading democracy

-- Voting has begun in MSNBC's interactive Wooden Award Watch. Love the easy on the eyes and easy to use technology.

-- Duke-Maryland pregame quotes here.

-- Want to win a date with Northwestern's Tim Doyle or Michael Jenkins? Click here for details.

-- Carlton Dotson's murder trial will begin on June 13. But will anyone live-blog the proceedings? (Would that be a first?)


Saved By The Bell

-- Steve Walentik of the Columbia (MO) Daily Tribune suggests Oklahoma's Taj Gray has lived up to preseason expectations. Funny. I didn't know there were any!

-- More love for Ray Giacoletti. This time from Gordon Monson of the Scripps-McClatchy Western Service. Crediting Giacoletti with all that is good in the world isn't quite a meme, but may become one in NCAA Tournament previews.

-- Isn't it a little early for the Fort Worth (TX) Star-Telegram's Mike Jones to be asking Sean Sutton how he'd like to be remembered?

-- Dustin "Diamond" Dow of the Cincinnati Enquirer suggests Minnesota, Texas Tech and Georgetown are currently on the bubble. If the Hoyas win at least four of their remaining six games (which would mean defeating at least one of Notre Dame, Connecticut and Villanova) and pick-up a win in the Big East Tournament, I say they're in.


meme alert

-- Victoria Sun of the Cincinnati Post argues Kentucky's (relatively) weak schedule has been a boon to Tubby's Wildcats. Not sure if it is the schedule, but something is working in Lexington. As usual.

-- Meme alert! Mike Puma of the Connecticut Post hops on the bandwagon, making the case that the Big East is the best conference in America. Billy "Fudge" Packer and Jay "I Come in Peace" Bilas are quoted in Puma's article.

-- (Reader) Rob Demovsky of the Green Bay Press Gazette takes a look at the measures University of Wisconsin-Green Bay coach Tod Kowalczyk is taking so that his Phoenix don't repeat last year's end of season collapse. I look forward to seeing UWGB play against Illinois State in ESPN's "Bracket Buster."

-- Skip Prosser notes Taron Downey is "no ham-and-egger" in Rob Daniels' latest piece for the Greensboro (NC) News & Record. I have no idea what Prosser means by that.


Who's Tommy?

-- The Associated Press' Jim Vertuno reminds us that only a month ago, the Texas Longhorns were ranked in the Top 10 and were the Final Four flavor of the week. But after the loss of P.J. Tucker and LaMarcus Aldridge, the Longhorns may not make the NCAA Tournament. (And why should they? Who of any quality have they beaten lately?)

-- The AP preview of the best game you're sure to miss, Pacific at Utah State. How can you root against an ocean?

-- Detroit (MI) Free Press columnist Michael Rosenberg suggests Michigan's Tommy Amaker is a tough read, on and off the court. A private man, Amaker is difficult (for beat writers and pundits) to befriend. A public coach whose team has suffered several unexpected setbacks in this, their would-be breakout season, Tommy is likewise difficult (for beat writers and pundits) to judge.

-- Tickets for the Pac 10 Tournament are on sale now. As I've noted before, I believe this year's tournament will enable an additional conference team or two to play its way into the NCAA Tournament.


honesty is the best policy

-- John Delong of the Winston-Salem (NC) Journal depends the Duke Blue Devils from their preseason critics. Not a bad column, but terribly timed. Few folks currently hold the same opinion of Coach K's club they held before ACC conference play began.

-- Bob Lipper of the Richmond (VA) Times-Dispatch pens one of those ho-hum columns about Illinois to which I had earlier alluded.

-- Jim Paul of the AP suggests that while some coaches win 'em over with kindness, Bruce Weber is doing it with honesty. Just call him Bruce "no-nonsense" Weber.

-- Gary Bedore of the Lawrence (KS) Journal-World suggests Kansas' elders are unlikely to experience seniorities. Not with only four home games left. While his colleague, contributing editor Bill Mayer, goes back in time and suggests "NCAA champions often have mix of experience, youth."


Friday, February 11, 2005

no news is good news

Frequent readers may have this week noted an uncharacteristic lack of afternoon posts (and an unfortunate delay in responding to emails).

What gives?

You'll know soon enough.

It's big.

Really big.

Hint: Some might say I'm building an army. (But no, even Kyle doesn't know what's coming).


crazy, I'm so (not) into you...

-- Jerry Brown of the East Valley (AZ) Tribune pens the lead of the day. How very true.

Forget about RPI ratings, conference projections and all other NCAA tournamentrelated trigonometry. If Arizona State plays basketball games like this down the stretch -- allowing teams to score at will and getting beat like a drum down the court --- there is no fuzzy math available to save them.

-- Jack Wilkinson of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution has today's must-read. Previewing March Madness and reviewing the college basketball season to date, Wilkinson finds five reasons why the ACC may not be nation's best league, nominates players of the year from each conference, suggests both Arizona (!) and Boston College may be worthy of No. 1 seeds, and argues Buzz Peterson (Tennessee) and Rod Barnes (Mississippi) are on the hot seat.

-- The Boston Globe's Mark Blaudschun heralds (no pun intended) Boston University men's basketball first game at the all-new Agganis Arena. Think facilities don't matter? Think again. The arena has Blaudschun and Terriers coach Dennis Wolff pondering a BU move to the Atlantic 10.

-- The Washington Times' Rick Snider gets J.J. Redick on record as preferring road games to home matches at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Is he...crazy? More importantly, Snider interviews Blogger Jeremy Gold of Turtle Soup.


what's in a name?

-- The Detroit News' John Niyo and Jim Spadafore write up Michigan athletic director Bill Martin's confidence in Tommy Amaker. Even as the Wolverines (12-12, 3-7 in the Big Ten) struggle mightily and Daniel Horton's girlfriend tells police the Michigan ballplayer abused her several times before the incident that led her to file domestic violence charge against him.

-- Billy Packer believes a weak Big Ten has failed to prepare the Fighting Illini for the NCAA Tournament. Earth to Billy: Even if so, Illinois' non-conference scheduling -- including games against Cincinnati, Georgetown, Gonzaga, Oregon and Wake Forest -- should do the trick.

-- Camille Powell of the Washington Post takes up the latest meme, running with the notion that the Big East is the "best and deepest" conference in the land. Ahead of Sunday's Connecticut-North Carolina game, you will no doubt hear (several times) that the Big East is 6-1 in games against the ACC. (Though 0-0 against Duke and Wake Forest).

-- WCNC-TV sports director Chuck Howard argues in the Charlotte (NC) Observer that the Tar Heels don't own "Carolina." Semantics, my friend. Semantics. (Or as the Dukies would say, go to hell.)

-- Reader kcjc suggests I link to Tom Kensler's column on the plethora of Seattle-area prep talent. He of the Denver Post, Kensler is clever enough to suggest (pun intended?) that no longer can "New York, Chicago or Houston claim to be the No. 1 hotbed for high school blue-chippers. Right now, Seattle's best."


stung?

-- Via the AP: "The University of Oregon has agreed to pay $22 million for a bakery that could be the site of a new basketball arena." For a bakery that could be the site? The Ducks have been looking to build a new arena for years. But now they're paying $22 million for a bakery that could -- or could not -- be the site? Doesn't strike me as a move that would impress "The Donald."

-- Gordon Monson of the Salt Lake Tribune heaps praise upon first-year Utah coach Giacoletti. My response, in three words or less? Not. His. Player(s).

-- Richard Stevens of Albuquerque (NM) Tribune pulls no punches in bursting Ritchie McKay so-called bubble. Unless the Lobos win Mountain West Conference Tournament, don't expect them to go dancing.

-- Sebastian Telfair has changed his story. A day after denying reports he had been offered money to play at Georgia Tech, he and his agent released a statement acknowledging the former higher school star had been "approached by a man who claimed to be associated with the Georgia Tech program and he offered me money." Though he also suggests the offer may have been a joke. Does this story have legs? See Scott's Georgia Tech Sports Blog for all the gory details. (Can you guess, by the way, where Scott got the idea for his scoreboard or template?)


easy as pie

-- Andrew Marchand of the New York Post spent probably three minutes interviewing ESPN's Jay Bilas and, ta-da, he's done his work for the day.

-- Salim Stoudamire scored 26 points against USC as the Arizona Wildcats handed Lute Olson his 300th Pac-10 win. Give him a hand. (A USC fan didn't.)

-- Paul Klee of the Southern Illinoisan pens a tribute to career nights by Salukis Matt Shaw and Tony Young. See 'em Saturday on ESPN2 vs. Creighton.

-- Remember us? (Actually, no). Ronny Turiaf scored 20 points and Adam Morrison added 19 as Gonzaga defeated Pepperdine Thursday night. I can't wait until March Madness and the 'Zags return to national relevance.

-- The feel-good story of the day. Thanks Fred!


Thursday, February 10, 2005

old school

-- Who is or was your favorite college professor? Mine is Barry Lawing, a history instructor at North Carolina's Forsyth Technical Community College. Why? For the second straight winter, Professor Lawing is teaching a class on ACC History, "featuring everything from old game footage to guest lecturers, some better known for scoring than speechmaking." Barry has himself attended about 400 games and is a huge Wake Forest fan. More on the class you wish you could have taken from Aaron Beard of the Associated Press.

-- Jeff Eisenberg of the Daily Bruin previews UCLA's game against Arizona State. Perhaps more than any other game this week, the Sun Devils' trip to Pauley Pavilion is a must-watch match for the NCAA selection committee. For my part, I can't decide if Diogu or Dijon will have a bigger night.

-- Eight teams remain undefeated in conference play. But will Vermont (RPI: 17) be invited to go dancing if they fail to win the America East Tournament? I would hope so. TJ Sorrentine and Taylor Coppenrath are as talented as most major-conference starters. And a team that nearly defeated Kansas in Lawrence deserves the opportunity to pull off a March upset. Before Tom Brennan retires and is replaced by...Maryland's Mike Lonergan? Eric Prisbell of the Washington Post reports that Lonergan, Catholic University's coach during their Division III title run in 2001, will interview this weekend for the Catamounts' head coaching job.

-- Nate Robinson goes on record to defend the Oregon students who will tonight chant "Gary Coleman" in his honor while holding photos of the former child star. Props to Nate-Dogg for understanding college basketball's unique appeal to fans. The Washington star correctly notes that heckling by an opposing school's students is "part of basketball. Without fans, it wouldn't be the same. It wouldn't be any fun." He also requests a meeting with California's former gubernatorial candidate: "I'd like to meet [Gary Coleman] and give him a Nate Robinson jersey."


bling bling

-- USA Today and Westchester (NY) Journal News basketball columnist Ian O'Connor will soon release the already controversial book "Jump." In the book, an anonymous source says an unnamed booster claiming to represent Georgia Tech offered Sebastian Telfair $250,000 to play for Paul Hewitt. Telfair is also quoted by O'Connor, confirming that he was offered money by a "middle-aged and white" individual at a "major school in the East." Since the book's allegations became public, both Telfair and Hewitt have denied O'Connor's claims. Yet as Rana Cash of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution notes, Georgia Tech athletics director Dave Braine has decided to investigate the matter. Developing...

-- Kansas State's 14-2 run late in the second half wasn't enough to overcome Kansas' large lead as Jeremiah Massey and the Wildcats fell to the Jayhawks. Bill Self could not have been happy to see his team become complacent against their in-state rival.

-- Kansas City Star columnist Jason Whitlock makes a persuasive case that Kansas State ought to bring back fifth-year coach Jim Wooldridge. He also suggests that even without Jeremiah Massey, Fred Peete, Lance Harris, Clent Stewart, Cartier Martin and the Wildcats might be able to upset the Jayhawks next year.

-- The Merrillville (IN) Post-Tribune's Mike Hutton argues Notre Dame's victory over Boston College was no fluke. His rationale? Save DePaul, the Irish have played every game close. Losses to Georgetown and Syracuse could easily have gone the other way. He also gets Mike Brey to go on record defending himself against Ken Pomeroy's attacks. In October, Brey suggested that had the NCAA last year weighed road wins more heavily, his Irish would have gone dancing as a seven seed. (That turned out not to be true, as the adjustment dropped Notre Dame's RPI from 49 to 66). This year Brey adds, "Even though I'm not good at math, I can do the RPI stuff."

-- Stat of the Day: In defeating USC on Saturday, Washington State had no offensive rebounds.


"Bloggers are hitting nothing but net"

-- The one and only Janet Paskin wisely leads her special to the Philadelphia Inquirer with several paragraphs on Kyle Whelliston's must-read Mid-Majority blog. Who knew Kyle put together his blog as an "afterthought?" (If you haven't, by the way, read the letter he received from Constantino, I strongly suggest you do so. It turns out Murray State (!) has fans on the island of Malta!)

In her must-read piece on the college basketball blogosphere, Janet quotes Kyle, Ken Pomeroy, John Gasaway and myself. At length. Enjoy!

Ken Pomeroy, the blogosphere's resident statistician, tells Janet he'd like to see more folks start college basketball blogs. As would I. Interested in joining the "cabal of 100?"

Start a blog, email me, and I'll add a permanent link to your site.


Duke's best defense in 19 years!

-- The State of Indiana has had at least one team in every NCAA Tournament dating back to 1973. Anybody else believe all great streaks must come to an end?

-- Where are they now? Connecticut legend Cornelius "Corny" Thompson manages municipal lots and garages for LAZ Parking of Norwalk.

-- Dave Campbell of the Associated Press writes-up Minnesota's late-game collapse. If the Gophers fail to make the NCAA Tournament, players and pundits will (in part) fault the home loss to Northwestern.

-- Duke yesterday defeated North Carolina. The Hampton Roads (VA) Daily Press' David Teel suggests the rivalry is well worth the hype. I last night observed Daniel Ewing's development into one of the nation's best guards, the few seconds it took Duke to huddle around Coach K in the game's final timeout (compared to the longer period of time taken by North Carolina players before they too listened to their coach), and the Tar Heels' (ill-fated) discipline in running the play Roy Williams designed for the game's last possession. I thought Raymond Felton, having gotten around Daniel Ewing, should have taken another two steps and fired a mid-range jumper (or dished to Sean May or Marvin Williams once a Duke forward had helped on defense).

-- Sports Illustrated's Stewart Mandel writes up Duke's defense, noting it is, statistically, the Blue Devils' best in 19 years. Coach K's club is holding opponents to 63.8 points per game and 38.7 percent shooting.


I want my baby back, baby back, baby back...

-- Joe Bendel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review writes up Carl Krauser's inspirational story. Here's hoping Krauser makes an NBA Roster. The year after next. An unnamed NBA scout suggested to Bendel that Krauser declare early at season's end, compete in pre-draft camps, and return to school. The Pittsburgh guard is not among most mock drafts' first (or even second) rounds.

-- Maryland center Ekene Ibekwe has been experiencing pain from a cracked rib for almost two months. If Ibekwe's health continues to falter, don't expect much from the Terps come March.

-- Without Pierre Pierce -- who now has six criminal charges to go along with his six-pack -- Randy Petersen of the Des Moines (IA) Register finds Steve Alford's Hawkeyes fading fast. Had Pierce last night suited up for Iowa, the Hawkeyes would likely have turned back Wisconsin's rally. As it was, Jeff Horner & Co. lost to the Badgers, missing an opportunity to notch a huge road win.

-- Michael Vega of the Boston Globe finds the Boston College Eagles trying (without much success) to keep a positive attitude.


forget the miracle on ice

-- More problems at Michigan State. Despite a sellout against Ohio State, more than a few "Izzone" seats went empty. (Need context? You'll find it here).

-- Victoria Sun of the Cincinnati (OH) Post credits Kentucky's success to the Wildcats' knowing their roles. And to Randolph Morris' newfound gametime intensity. I credit Tubby Smith.

-- Following Louisville's loss to Memphis, Rick Pitino told the media he didn't think his players were "worthy of speaking to you." Lacking material, Adam Pruiett of the Hardin County (KY) News-Enterprise still writes a relevant column about the game.

-- Ahead of Cincinnati-Xavier, Bill Koch of the Cincinnati (OH) Enquirer asks if you believe in miracles. He then retells the story of 1980's miracle on hardwood.


Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Open Thread: Duke-North Carolina

I'll be watching the game with a few Duke alumni (!) at a local bar. But I'd love to read your thoughts upon my return.

In the meantime, use this open thread to talk amongst yourselves about the Tar Heels' trip to Durham.


titleist

-- Ahead of Duke-North Carolina, I thought to give a shout-out to Raleigh, North Carolina radio producer Joe Ovies of WRBZ AM 850. Himself a blogger, Joe expects "SheWill" to stay out of foul trouble in Cameron Indoor Stadium. Nonetheless, he calls the game for North Carolina, 87-82.

-- Sometimes headlines speak for themselves. Consider Forest Miller's latest for the South Bend (IN) Tribune, "Providence is just plain bad," Damien Pierce's piece for the Fort Worth (TX) Star-Telegram, "Horned Frogs prove free doesn't mean easy," Maureen Wallenfang's article for the Appleton (WI) Post-Crescent, "Hoops, insurance merge in Neenah State Farm office," Jerry Brewer's column for the Louisville (KY) Courier-Journal, "Cats are still Cats; Gators are still Gators," Gary Bedore's contribution to the Lawrence (KS) Journal-World, "Solid in the Little Apple," Howie Stalwick's notes for the Kitsap (WA) Sun, "Gonzaga's Wild Thing," and Jeremy Rutherford's game recap for the St. Louis (MO) Post-Dispatch, "The 1 and only."

-- Katie Perry of the (Notre Dame) Observer interviews several of the fourteen students who slept outside the Joyce Center Monday night to secure the best seats to the Boston College game. The parents of freshman Michael Cimino might be disappointed to learn he missed two Tuesday classes while in line for tickets. But his comment about the matter, "I consider them excused absences," should leave them laughing.

-- Clark Kellogg of Yahoo Sports (online) also expects North Carolina to beat Duke. His rationale? The Blue Devils aren't as good a rebounding team as the Tar Heels, and they don't have as many impact players.


grounded?

-- As usual, Dick Jerardi's column in the Philadelphia Inquirer is Wednesday's must-read.

-- A new name for the Indiana rumor mill: Timberwolves assistant Randy Wittman...Will ESPN hire Mike Davis if Indiana lets him go at season's end?

-- Michael Rand of the Minneapolis Star Tribune writes up the NCAA's decision to create a subcommittee on female athletics that will consider whether women's college basketball teams can continue to use male players in practice. My sense is to support the status quo, if only to (continue to) improve the quality of women's basketball.

-- CBS SportsLine's Gregg Doyel expects pollsters to "drop Boston College like a broken elevator." But just as the mainstream media had come to overrate Al Skinner's club, so too will they soon underappreciate their 20 (and counting) accomplishments. For my part, I'll be keeping an eye on Jeff Shelman's ballot. Here's guessing the Minneapolis Star Tribune beat writer and ESPN columnist keeps the Eagles in his Top 10.

-- John Calipari and Rick Pitino are at it again. Advantage Pitino. His Cardinals have 20 wins to the Tigers' 13.


Would you like Friars with that?

-- John Delong of the Winston Salem-Journal runs with the meme of the week, titling his latest column "Second-tier ACC teams need to establish NCAA credentials." Both Maryland and Georgia Tech took care of business (Virginia Tech and Clemson respectively) last night.

-- Minnesota assistant Jim Molinari, a former head coach at Bradley and Northern Illinois, is expected to receive strong consideration for head-coaching openings at the end of the season. Especially if the Northern Illinois job opens.

-- To mark West Virginia coach John Beilein's 52nd birthday, his Mountaineers on Saturday defeated Pittsburgh. Don Clegg of the Wheeling (WV) News-Register now asks "Would Beilein like Friars with that?"

-- Ira Berkow of the New York Times writes-up Jim Calhoun's career at the Connecticut under the headline "Calhoun Makes Developing Talent a Specialty."

-- The North Carolina Tar Heels don't see themselves as the favorite as they travel to Durham for this week's must-see game.


Tuesday, February 08, 2005

mea culpa

Yesterday I predicted New Mexico would defeat Wyoming "without too much effort." The result? Wyoming 81, New Mexico 71.

Today I foretold a Boston College victory over Notre Dame, suggesting the game would be "Not. Even. Close." The result? Notre Dame 68, Boston College 65.

In other words, never trust a blogger to do a Digger's job. Sigh.

[Reader RS, however, was wrong to comment that my "Boston Love clouded [my] judgment." In the case of Skinner v. Brey, I ruled in favor of the plaintiff (read: the road team) based upon the "Chris Thomas non-establishment clause." (In layman's terms, Thomas' failure to establish himself as the player pundits believed he would be). Nine assists and nineteen points later, the yoco district court, now located in Arlington, Virginia, has granted the defendant's appeal.]


we are the world

-- Rusty Miller of the Associated Press has this evening's must-read after interviewing several Ohio State players who are upset at the Buckeye administration for self-imposing an NCAA Tournament ban in December. At 16-7 and having won four Big Ten games in a row, Ohio State (RPI: 50) would be a bubble team were it not for the school's preemptive action. Coach Thad Matta is wisely avoiding this hot potato.

-- Say you were Sports Illustrated's Stewart Mandel and you had just written a solid column detailing, one team a time, the Big Ten's decline. Would you then end your column on this self-contradictory note?

Big Ten followers should savor Illinois' current run, because there may not be another one like it for a while.

If, save Wisconsin and Illinois, every Big Ten team is indeed down, why shouldn't the Fighting Illini dominate the conference for the next couple years? Notwithstanding Illinois' extreme success in non-conference games this season, Mandel's conclusion fails to jive with his main argument.

-- The Panama-born guard with a Muslim first name and a Jewish last name who plays at a Baptist university in North Carolina was today selected to Seth Davis' All-Glue Team. Here's to religious tolerance.

-- Former Georgia guard Tony Cole is back in jail after violating his probation on a felony bad-check charge. Where's Jim Harrick now?


40 feet of hell

-- Ladies beware. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram's Wendell Barnhouse has a way with words.

Sunrises and sunsets are automatic.

J.J. Redick isn't a force of nature. But, when he's standing at a free-throw line, he is to college basketball shooters what Pavarotti is to tenors.

-- Our good friend Rob Demovsky of the Green Bay (WI) Press-Gazette has the latest news from the Horizon League. Following a loss to first-place University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, University of Illinois-Chicago coach Jimmy Collins told a reporter he didn't believe any conference team, including the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, could catch UWM and win the conference title. The statement elicited a not so favorable response from UWGB coach Tod Kowalczyk. More on the controversy -- and a history lesson on the less than friendly relationship between Collins and UWM coach Bruce Pearl -- here.

-- Leads made easy, courtesy of Alabama's recent drubbing at the hands of Florida.

-- Did he or didn't he? Seeking to end the confusion, Missouri Athletic Director Mike Alden confirmed that he did not consult with school President Elson Floyd or the UM Board of Curators before announcing that embattled basketball Coach Quin Snyder would return next season.

-- Jeff Wirick of the Freedom "isn't free" News Service reminds us it has been more than 10 years since Duke's Jeff Capel nailed a 40-foot buzzer-beater to send the Blue Devils' game against North Carolina into a second overtime. Who else is looking forward to tomorrow's game?


pulling my leg?

Earlier this morning, Fred Mitchell's column for the Chicago Tribune included the following information.

Former Mt. Carmel High School and current Atlanta Hawks player Antoine Walker has been quietly paying the $4,200-a-year tuition for current Hales Franciscan forward Nate Minnoy, who is bound for Purdue on a basketball scholarship. Sources say Walker also has been paying the $6,200-a-year tuition for Minnoy's sister at Mother McCauley.

But by noon, the above paragraph had been deleted. There is no mention of 'Toine's tuition payments in the version of the column currently posted online. What gives?


Fighting (Irish) Words

-- Frank Isola of the New York Daily News goes to print with a rumor. Rick Majerus may succeed Mike Davis at Indiana (though I wouldn't count on it). Particularly after CBS SportsLine's Gregg Doyel dribbled about Utah's ethical transgressions during Rick's tenure.

-- Todd Burlage of the Fort Wayne (IN) Journal Gazette has a few choice words for ACC fans. His argument? The Big East is the better conference. His evidence? More persuasive than you might think.

Wake Forest, North Carolina and Duke are all fine teams and deserving of the hype and credit they receive. But to anoint Georgia Tech and Maryland as sure-fire tournament teams based on preseason predictions and exaggerated claims of league superiority is ludicrous.

Georgia Tech is 13-7 overall, 4-5 in the league and has lost five of its last seven. Maryland is also 13-7 overall, 4-5 in the league and has lost its last two...to Clemson and Miami...

The Big East, not the ACC, has the last two national champions.

The Big East has seven Sweet 16 teams the past two years. The ACC has three.

The ACC sent two teams (Duke and Georgia Tech) to the Final Four last year. Big East beast Connecticut beat them both on its way to the national title.

If recent tournament history isn't convincing enough, maybe the best argument for Big East supremacy comes from the epicenter of the ACC, where Big East defectors Virginia Tech and Miami are more than holding their own.

In their own arrogance and ignorance, the ACC coaches picked Virginia Tech and Miami to fight for last place in the league...But these two Big East busts already have combined for 11 ACC wins this season.

-- Digger Phelps dug himself into a hole last night when he suggested Notre Dame would tonight beat Boston College. The Boston Globe's normally astute Michael Vega, however, secured only a handful of awkward quotes from Al Skinner for his article about the controversy. Notre Dame, by the way, is not going to beat Boston College. Not. Even. Close.


dirty magazine day

-- Wendell "put a" Barnhouse "in your soul" of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram takes a look at the Australian re-recruiting trip undertaken by Utah coach Ray Giacoletti (pronounced jack-oh-LET-ee) in April. The 20-hour plane flight down under enabled Ray to persuade Andrew Bogut to play for the Utes this season. The result? Bogut, last year's Mountain West Conference Freshman of the Year under Rick Majerus, has thrived, taking advantage of Giacoletti's open offensive schemes to create opportunities for himself and his teammates.

-- The Sporting News' Mike DeCourcy argues the NCAA Tournament selection committee ought not give additional weight to a team's final 10 games. Some clubs, he argues, have tough end of season schedules while others do not. But strengths of schedules differ for an entire season as well. If anything, DeCourcy should have advised the committee to not only consider results over the final 10 games, but also evaluate strengths of schedules over the final 10 games.

-- Rick Bozich of the Louisville (KY) Courier-Journal considers Western Kentucky's success and makes a convincing case that "preseason magazines belong in the fiction section of every bookstore." Here, here.

-- Remember when I wrote that Mississippi State was a disappointment? A few readers emailed to inquire why. My response? Look no further than the Bulldogs Saturday loss to Auburn. Tigers freshman guard Frank Tolbert torched MSU for 29 points in the win.


dave odom, you so fine, you so fine you blow

-- Jay (son of Charlie) Spoonhour gets the Steve Carp treatment in the Las Vegas Review-Journal. An informative read. Though I think a coach with Jay's experience and pedigree could and should have done better than a gig as a student manager for Quin Snyder!

-- The (SC) State's Ron Morris pens a column complimenting South Carolina's Dave Odom for employing a unique bench-seating arrangement wherein assistant coaches Barry Sanderson, Rick Duckett and Ricky Stokes sit in the middle of the players during games. USC's forwards and centers sit between Odom and Sanderson on one end, and the Gamecocks' guards sit between Stokes and the far end. Duckett sits between Sanderson and Stokes and monitors USC's play on defense. Makes sense, except I imagine Odom would be interested in occasionally talking to his guards as well.

-- Sign me up.

-- On "Big Monday," Connecticut defeated Syracuse and Oklahoma State beat Oklahoma. You saw both games and so I'll spare you the commentary.

-- Jeff Zrebic of the Baltimore Sun argues Maryland (RPI: 23) is all but a lock for the NCAA Tournament. As long as the Terps go 4-3 in their final seven games, they should go dancing.


oh antoine

-- More bad news for Purdue. Former Boston Celtic and current Atlanta Hawk Antoine Walker has been paying Nate Minnoy's way at Hales Franciscan. Minnoy had been expected to suit up for the Boilermakers this fall.

-- Randy Petersen of the Des Moines (IA) Register writes a piece on Adam Haluska's potential to pick-up where Pierre Pierce left off. Best of luck to Adam. He may yet save St"Eve" Alford's job.

-- The Associated Press' Aaron Beard writes up North Carolina's seniors...How good would the Tar Heels be if JamesOn Curry was still in Roy Williams' camp?

-- I'm good enough, I'm tough enough and, gosh darn it, people like me. Or so says Cincinnati's Nick Williams as he attempts to move beyond the errant pass that cost the Bearcats last year's cross-town shootout against Xavier. While Lonnie Wheeler, a columnist for the Cincinnati (OH) Post, commends the Bearcats for perpetuating the event. The Musketeers, he writes, are typically the team with the most to benefit from beating their higher-ranked, better-stocked, more-televised rival. And yet despite a few high-profile defeats, Bob Huggins continues to schedule games against Xavier. To his credit.


the dude

-- CBS SportsLine's Gregg Doyel echoes the Southern Illinoisan's Paul Klee. I'm glad the NCAA's decision to weigh road games more heavily in the RPI is helping mid-majors. And can't wait to hear the outcry from the power conferences come March.

-- B.J. Elder may suit up tonight for Georgia Tech. And not a moment too soon for the struggling Yellow Jackets. Here's hoping Elder makes a productive T.O.-like return for Paul Hewitt and the gang.

-- Eric Prisbell of the Washington Post finds Seth Greenberg rolling on Shabbas as his Virginia Tech Hokies rock (and roll in) the ACC. Every dog has its day.

-- The University Daily Kansan's Bill Cross admits Kansas' freshmen were overhyped. True...but the Jayhawks aren't exactly struggling.


pity rick barnes

-- Kevin Brockway of the Ocala (FL) Star-Banner previews Florida-Kentucky. The Gators have been quietly successful in 2004-2005. A Sweet Sixteen team in the making?

-- The Tucson Citizen's Corky Simpson argues that Arizona's 1987-1988 squad was the best team Lute Olson ever coached. Perhaps. But the 1996-1997 edition won a national championship...

-- Only six scholarship players are both eligible and healthy for Texas. And three are freshmen. Pity Rick Barnes.

-- The Pittsburgh's Post-Gazette's Ray Fittipaldo suggests Pitt's record in close games will go a long way towards determining the outcome of the Panthers' season. In other words, Jamie Dixon should pick up the phone and call Patriots coach Bill Belichick.


Monday, February 07, 2005

Oklahoma-Oklahoma State

Joey! JamesOn! McKenzie! Gray!

Looking forward to an exciting second half.


Connecticut-Syracuse

Hakim Warrick has a solid first half, but he and his Orange teammates aren't doing enough on the boards. Connecticut, the nation's best rebounding team, continues to amass second chance opportunities and points. Other thoughts:

-- Is it just me, or is Jim Calhoun getting meaner with each passing year?
-- Mike Jarvis should be transferred to ESPN Deportes. He'll make more sense in Spanish
-- Marcus Williams has become a fun player to watch.
-- The officials should have given Billy Edelin the timeout he tried to call while jumping into the Huskies' bench.
-- No halftime prediction was more outlandish than Digger Phelps' suggestion that Notre Dame will beat Boston College tomorrow night behind a big game from Chris "2 for 12" Thomas.

Update: Several months into his gig at ESPN, Mike Jarvis finally made an intelligent statement, or at least asked a perceptive question. During halftime, he inquired why Connecticut rose six spots in the latest ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll. The Huskies haven't beaten anybody (except Villanova).


Coach (o)K

-- Winning solves all problems. Losing? It creates them. The latest from Michigan State? Too many members of "Izzone," the Spartans' student section, are missing games. The club has responded by threatening to transfer tickets to students who will take full advantage of the cheap but centrally located seats. Current members, however, aren't too keen on the idea.

-- Writing in the New York Post, Peter Vecsey makes the case for Coach K to direct the United States' Olympic Basketball team. An intriguing proposition -- and one that, if acted upon, will get the rumor mills going.

-- College Hoops Extra researcher Mark Simon of the WWLIS is up with his weekly column. In which he argues Patrick Sparks is the key to Kentucky's success, takes a look at Stanford's recent victories against Arizona, and gives Coastal Carolina guard Pele Paelay some love. Paelay is "one of only eight players (all in mid-majors) to be ranked in the top 10 in their conference in points, rebounds, assists and steals." Perhaps more significantly, he has this season increased his offensive production from 5.5 to 18.3 points per game.

But Simon's most important contribution to college basketball commentary comes from his spotlight on four of the nation's highest-scoring clubs. Take a look at the table below. Note that while Louisville is the team most reliant on threes, Washington is the least. And while North Carolina is the club most dependent on free throws, Washington is, again, the least. In other words, the Huskies are masters of their own March destiny. Difficult referees and long-range shooting troubles are less likely to do Washington in than they are to undermine other elite teams. Live by neither the free (throws) nor the three, die by neither the free (throws) nor the three.

Point-scoring distribution

PPG% from 2% from 3% on FT
North Carolina92.751.1%26.4%22.5%
Washington87.457.6%23.0%19.4%
Wake Forest86.150.6%27.5%21.9%
Louisville85.242.7%35.1%22.3%

-- Coach K is ok after collapsing onto the court before Duke's game against Georgia Tech.


big monday

-- Arizona will play five of its last seven regular season games on the road. The stretch will either prepare the Wildcats for a surprising and long-lasting March run or expose Channing, Salim and Hassan as unworthy of anything higher than a 6 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

-- Israeli point guard Niv Berkowitz has left Marquette and will return home to play professional basketball. Less than two months into his stay in Milwaukee, Niv's departure puts Tom Crean & Co. in quite a bind. Ideas on Travis Diener's replacement welcome.

-- Billl Liesse of the Peoria (IL) Journal Star argues that James Augustine is the Big Ten's best big man. But while acknowledging his progress this season, I disagree, believing Augustine's weaknesses are camouflaged by the Illini's guards (who, despite a quiet game against Indiana, remain exceptionally talented offensive threats).

-- Neil Ostrout of the Connecticut Post previews the Huskies' big week, beginning with tonight's game against Syracuse. On Sunday, Connecticut welcomes North Carolina to Storrs. (The Tar Heels, for their part, will be coming off a Wednesday night game against Duke). Beating Villanova took the pressure off Jim Calhoun's club. Losing both of this week's games, however, would bring it back.

-- Following the Orange's 60-57 win over Notre Dame, the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle's Jeff DiVeronica previews Connecticut-Syracuse. The angle he takes has Jim Boeheim concerned about the Orange's most significant weakness, their unbalanced attack. For Syracuse to make a Final Four run, Hakim Warrick and Gerry McNamara can't be the only two players producing on the offensive end.


darcy!

-- The Cincinnati Enquirer's Dustin Dow suggests more is at stake for Xavier than for Cincinnati in Thursday's cross-town shootout. But I disagree. Bob Huggins' team is 0-4 against Top 25 competition. Following the Bearcats' loss to Charlotte, a defeat at the hands of Xavier would seriously damage Cincinnati's NCAA Tournament seed, emphasizing the Bearcats' bad rather than good losses. Win or lose, however, the Musketeers are an unlikely NCAA Tournament bet.

-- Charley Walters of the St. Paul (MN) Pioneer Press has a nice chat with Darcy Monson, wife of Golden Gophers coach Dan Monson. She sounds like she knows her stuff.

-- The Casper (WY) Star Tribune's Jack Daly writes up the Cowboys' surprising success. A win tonight against New Mexico would catapult Wyoming into a tie for second place in the Mountain West Conference. But with Danny Granger back in action, I expect the Lobos to defeat the Cowboys without too much effort.

-- Bryan Mullen of the Tennessean profiles walk-on and fan favorite Aubrey Hammond, an "everyman for every fan."


Sunday, February 06, 2005

pigskin

Excuse the light posting today.

Preoccupied with football. My Pats are in the game of their lives. The Super Bowl is 7-7 at the half.


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