Sunday, January 31, 2010

POSTERIZED: Wes Johnson is a bad, bad man

Wes Johnson is a specimen. He's 6'7", he's got long arms, and he's an athletic freak. Essentially, he was designed to be a basketball player.

Apparently, Mike Stovall didn't get the memo.


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Obama joins the CBS Broadcast booth

In case you missed it on Saturday afternoon, Barack Obama spent some time on CBS's broadcast of the Duke-Georgetown game in DC Saturday.

Like his politics, hate his politics, or care less about politics, you have to admit Obama is a pretty impressive personality when a mic is in front him.

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Saturday, January 30, 2010

Rick Pitino should probably be expecting a fine in the mail

UPDATE II: This blurb is from Andy Katz:

The Big East will investigate how the officials handled the West Virginia-Louisville game, especially in going to the monitor to (ahem) look at the shot clock when they may have actually been looking at who should have possession on an out-of-bounds play. Official Mike Kitts didn’t make a call and when no call is made on the floor, the possession goes to the team with the alternating possession arrow, which was Louisville. The ball actually did go off Louisville and West Virginia got the ball. So while the call was right it was not handled correctly. Louisville coach Rick Pitino criticized the officials by saying he was “tired of the officiating.” The Big East says it will investigate.

UPDATE: Card Chronicle has a frame by frame replay of second out of bounds call, and for the life of me I have no clue who the ball was off of. The angle sucks, and I have no idea which arm belongs to which player.


One thing I wish I had mentioned in the original post is that while the refs clearly had an off day, all of the blame shouldn't be put on their shoulders. They weren't the ones that allowed West Virginia to go on a 13-2 run. They weren't the ones that couldn't figure out the 1-3-1 zone that Huggy Bear threw at them. So while it is a tough loss for the Cardinals, and while Rick Pitino has every right to be mad, he should remember that his team did, in fact, blow this game as well.

West Virginia pulled out a nail-biter against Louisville today. The Mountaineers jumped out to a 13-0 lead on the Cardinals, but gave it all away as the Cardinals would use a 28-11 run to take a 44-37 lead near the end of the first half. With just six minutes remaining in the game, the Cardinals were still up 70-60, but West Virginia would go on a run capped by a Devin Ebanks and-one bucket to give WVU their first lead since early in the first half at 73-72.

And, believe it or not, that's when it got interesting.

After two Jerry Smith free throws gave the Cardinals the lead with under a minute left, it was West Virginia ball. Joe Mazzulla drove left and had the ball knocked out of bounds off of his head right in front of the ref.

He missed the call.

West Virginia ball. On the ensuing inbounds, Da'Sean Butler nailed a 15 footer to give WVU the lead with 15 seconds left. At the other end, after a Reginald Delk missed three (where he looked as if he was fouled), the rebound went out of bounds. But referee Mike Kitts ducked to avoid getting hit with the ball. As a result, he didn't see who knocked the ball out of bounds. After some discussion, the ball was given to West Virginia. (I still have yet to see an explanation as to why the ball was given to WVU. If you come across anything, drop us a line.)

ESPN didn't give a good angle on the replays, but it appears as if it, too, went off a West Virginia player.

Take a look at the two plays:

Needless to say, Rick Pitino was incensed. He only spoke to the media for 32 seconds after the game. Rick Bozich of the Louisville Courier-Journal was able to get the entirety of the interaction on video:

Yea, he was pretty upset. (Ed. Note: I think the call that Pitino is referring to wasn't against Pitt, it was against Seton Hall. See the video here. If it wasn't, then Louisville has gotten hosed in three games this season. Yeesh.)

So what is the answer?

I don't know.

But what I will say is this: I wouldn't be surprised if Pitino got fined for his comments or fined for skipping the press conference after the game (although, I bet he skipped the press conference to avoid criticizing the officials and getting a fine). I don't blame him. If I was in his shoes, I would be just as angry as he is. Beating West Virginia on the road isn't just a win, it was the resume win that Louisville needed. It may end up being the difference between an NCAA and an NIT berth for Louisville.

If Pitino is going to get fined for speaking out against what is so obviously a horrendous call, then shouldn't the officials be punished for making the call? A fine? A suspension?

Its ridiculous for the officiating to be that terrible down the stretch. Blowing those calls changed the outcome of a game, and possibly a season. That should be unacceptable.

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What 71.7% really means

It was the perfect storm for Georgetown today: President Obama was in attendance, JTIII was gunning for his 200th career , the Verizon Center was sold out as 20,000 fans wore "We Are Georgetown" t-shirts in a school-sponsored "gray out", the most-hated program in college hoops was in town, and the school announced an initiative to help better the schools in Darfur.

For Duke, the opposite was true. They had to travel up to DC in the middle of a snow storm to play an out-of-conference game with a team that had, well, all of that going for them.

So what happened?

"Georgetown was great today," Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said after the game. "We just never matched their energy. Their place was electric, their team was electric, and they played that way for 40 minutes."

Georgetown played their best 40 minutes of basketball on the season Saturday afternoon. They executed offensively; they gave the Dukies fits on the defensive end; they got to every loose ball; they rebounded well; they had their three stars go crazy.

This happened quite a bit Saturday afternoon.
(photo credit: The Devil's Den)

But that isn't what everyone is going to see when they look at the box score.

No, the first stat people are going to notice is that Georgetown shot a ridiculous 71.7% from the floor.

71.7%. Think about that for a second. The Hoyas haven't shot that well in a game in 30 years, and rightfully so. Because 71.7% just doesn't happen for an entire game.

Especially when you play against Duke.

And while most people are going to immediately think that this was a fantastic display of shooting by the Hoyas, it really wasn't.

Its not all that difficult to shoot that well when all you are shooting are layups and dunks.

What you should take out of this performance, instead, is that the Hoyas played absolutely flawless basketball offensively. Every cut they made got them open. Every pass they threw was on the money. Every screen they set got an open look from a good shooter. They ran their sets to perfection, and it yielded the results that John Thompson III could only dream about.

It wasn't just their half court offense either. The Hoyas played excellent defense, as usual. But what was clicking today was their transition game. They racked up nine steals against the Blue Devils, and seemingly every single one led to a layup. They forced Duke into 37.1% shooting from the field, turning missed shots into fast break layups. The notion that Georgetown is a half court team is incorrect. The Hoyas like to run to offense, beating their opponents down the floor and gathering easy bucket after easy bucket. When the break isn't there, they run patiently run their sets, but that doesn't mean that they are averse to the fast break.

To get an idea about just how dominant Georgetown was on the offensive end, think about this. The Hoyas scored 48 points in the paint. 48 points. While that would be an impressive number for a team with a number of quality post players, it becomes all the more remarkable when you consider that Georgetown has one player that can score with his back to the basket. And that isn't even Greg Monroe's strength.

But it wasn't all about Georgetown.

Much of the blame has to fall on the shoulders of the Blue Devils, who just did not show up ready to play. As good as the Hoyas were offensively, Duke was that bad defensively. There was one stretch in the second half when Georgetown got a layup on nine straight possessions, all of which came early in the shot clock. It got so ugly that Coach K even reverted to a zone, which the Hoyas promptly dissected as well.

I could go on and on, but you get the point - Georgetown thoroughly outplayed Duke.

So what does it mean?

Well, a lot of people are going to throw around some hyperbole. "Duke's horrible", "Georgetown is going to the Final Four", "The ACC is a joke".

Keep in mind, however, this is just one game. Sometimes team's play great. Sometimes team's play terrible (or mortifyingly horrific, as was the case for Duke). And sometimes, one team will play great while the other team plays terrible, which is exactly what happened tonight.

So before you jump to any conclusion, keep this in mind. On Monday, Georgetown jumped out to a 14-0 lead against Syracuse, and was promptly run out of the gym as the Orange did to Georgetown what the Hoyas did to Duke. Last Saturday, Duke's defense (which failed them in embarrassing fashion today) completely shut down a good Clemson team.

So while this is a nice win for Georgetown and a tough loss for Duke, keep in mind that it is just one game.
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Duke's loss to Georgetown begs a bigger question: Does the ACC suck?

After Duke laid an egg in DC, dropping a non-conference contest to Georgetown 89-77, head coach Mike Krzyzewski was asked if he thought that the Hoyas were a national title contender.

"I think anybody that's playing in the Big East or the ACC has a chance to do that," Coach K said after the game.

Clearly, that was a bit of an exaggeration, but you should understand his point. Generally speaking, the ACC and the Big East both have a number of teams with a punchers chance at winning six games in March.

That's what happens when you count teams like Duke, UNC, UConn, and Syracuse as members of your league.

While there are currently six teams ranked in the Big East, three in the top ten and two that look destined to be a #1 seed come Selection Sunday, the ACC has, frankly, a lot of question marks.

The biggest question?

Who is the dominant team in the league.

It sure isn't North Carolina, who won at NC State on Wednesday to snap a three game losing streak. Its not Clemson or Georgia Tech, who have looked great at times when playing at home but haven't been able to perform on the road. And it sure didn't look like Duke today, who, for the second time in four games, decided it was unnecessary to play any defense.

Does that mean that its Maryland? Or Virginia Tech? Or Wake Forest? Florida State?

The point is that no team in the ACC is going to run through the league. Its kind of like back in 2007, when five teams finished with 10 or 11 wins in ACC play. Its very balanced. Hell, Miami is in last place in the conference, and they went 14-0 before in non-conference play, including a win over Minnesota. Any given night, anyone in this league could lose, especially when playing on the road.

While that will make for an entertaining conference race and exciting games, it doesn't exactly make it easy for a large number of teams to earn themselves a bid to the dance.

The problem gets magnified when you look at how the ACC did out of conference. On the whole, the league did not notch many impressive wins:

  • 11/19 UNC 77, Ohio State 73
  • 11/19 Clemson 70, Butler 69
  • 11/27 Duke 68, UConn 59
  • 12/1 UNC 89, Michigan State 82
  • 12/2 Miami 63, Minnesota 58
  • 12/2 Georgia Tech 74, Siena 61
  • 12/5 Wake Forest 77, Gonzaga 75
  • 12/19 Duke 76, Gonzaga 41
  • 12/30 Virginia 72, UAB 63
While some of those wins are pretty impressive, that is all of the out-of-conference wins the ACC has over tournament opponents, and some of them (UConn, Minnesota) are far from guaranteed to be dancing. Hell, Virginia, who is currently tied for third in the league, has lost to South Florida, Penn State, Stanford, and Auburn.

That's not exactly a murderer's row.

The problem is that now the ACC teams in the middle of the pack (which is pretty much the entire conference, right?) are trying to build their tournament resume against each other, which isn't an easy thing to do when you consider that Duke may be the only ranked team in the ACC come Monday.

Think about it like this. The reason that we can say so many teams in the Big East that have struggled this season are still alive is because they are going to have a ton of chances to win games against top 10 or top 15 teams. Take Cincinnati. They are 13-8 overall, and 4-4 in the Big East, but they still play Syracuse, West Virginia, Villanova, and Georgetown. If they can put together a strong finish to the season and pick up a couple wins against the cream of the Big East crop, all of a sudden their tournament chances look much more promising.

But what about a team like Clemson? The Tigers are 3-4 in the ACC and 15-6 overall, but they have already lost to Duke twice, and won't play another team that is currently in the top 25.

All things being equal, whose shoes would you rather be in?

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BIAH on the radio!!

Here's a quick MP3 of my appearance on 1290am the Ticket in Delaware.

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Saturday Hoops Schedule

We're headed to the Duke-Georgetown game with Obama in DC today, and thus will not be around the computer until later this after noon.

Until then, here's your Saturday viewing schedule, as well as some news and notes you need to be aware of.

Today's Games

12:00 pm: La Salle @ Temple
12:00 pm: Louisville @ West Virginia
12:00 pm: Marquette @ UConn
1:00 pm: Duke @ Georgetown
1:00 pm: GW @ URI
1:30 pm: LSU @ Mississippi State
2:00 pm: Oklahoma State @ Missouri
2:00 pm: St. Louis @ Richmond
2:00 pm: Syracuse @ DePaul
3:00 pm: Florida State @ Boston College
3:00 pm: Memphis @ SMU
3:05 pm: Northern Iowa @ Missouri State
4:00 pm: Vanderbilt @ Kentucky
4:00 pm: Old Dominion @ Northeastern
4:00 pm: Baylor @ Texas
5:00 pm: Tulsa @ UCF
6:00 pm: SDSU @ Colorado State
6:00 pm: Charlotte @ UMass
6:00 pm: Marshall @ Houston
6:00 pm: New Mexico @ TCU
7:00 pm: Northwestern @ Michigan State
7:00 pm: Harvard @ Cornell
7:00 pm: Kansas @ Kansas State
8:00 pm: UTEP @ UAB
9:00 pm: Texas Tech @ Texas A&M
9:00 pm: Utah @ BYU
9:30 pm: Gonzaga @ San Francisco

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Friday, January 29, 2010

Siena, the hottest team in the country

Kentucky lost on Tuesday. BYU lost on Wednesday. Siena won on Thursday.

And I care, why?

Let me jump back two years. In the '07-'08 season, the Davidson Wildcats had a talented roster headlined by Stephen Curry, Jason Richards, and Andrew Lovedale. Knowing this, head coach Dave McKillop scheduled a tough non-conference slate, including games against Duke, UNC, and UCLA, among others.

Well, that Davidson team, who many predicted to be a sleeper that year, promptly lost every notable non-conference game that season, kicking off the year with a 4-6 start.

They wouldn't lose again until March 30th, when Richards' three drifted left and the eventual national champion Kansas Jayhawks hung on for a two point win to earn their trip to the Final Four.

Why do I bring this up?

Because the Siena Saints are now the proud owners of the nation's longest winning streak at 12 games.

The same Siena Saints that started the season 6-4 with losses at Temple, at Northern Iowa, at Georgia Tech, and against St. John's in Philly.

Ronald Moore doesn't score much, but he's probably Siena's MVP.
(photo credit: AllOverAlbany)

Like Davidson two years ago, a lot of people turned a blind eye to the Saints after their slow start. The thought process was that if they couldn't beat a team like Temple or Northern Iowa, they weren't going to earn an at-large bid or run through the MAAC. Even if they won the auto-bid, this wasn't a team that would make noise in the dance.

But all of a sudden those losses on the road to UNI and Temple don't look so bad, and neither do the Saints.

Siena is a team built for success. Their front line of 6'9" Ryan Rossiter (13.7 ppg, 10.5 rpg), 6'5" Alex Franklin (15.6 ppg, 8.0 rpg), and 6'6" Edwin Ubiles (15.7 ppg, 4.1 rpg), when he's healthy, can match-up with just about any high-major program. Clarence Jackson has proven to be a more-than-capable replacement for the graduated Kenny Hasbrouck, averaging 13.7 ppg.

But the key to this team's success is going to be Ronald Moore. Moore, like Richards for Davidson, is the point guard that makes this team go. He leads the nation in assists with 8.1 apg (and its not even close, John Wall is second at 6.6) while turning the ball over less than three times per game. And while he is the only starter that hasn't led the Saints in scoring, he is their most valuable player, or so says Niagara coach Joe Mihalich.

"Who makes their team win?" Mihalich told the American Chronicle. "That's what I'm talking about. Not the leading scorer, the leading rebounder, but who's the most critical guy for a team? And Ronald Moore makes his team win more than anybody."

The Saints have balanced scoring. They have size. They have athletes. They have a quality point guard with a proven ability to hit big shots.

Oh, and they have one a game in each of the last two NCAA tournaments.

So why should you care about the Saints?

Because more likely than not, this is a team you are going to want to know about come March Madness.

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Friday's Shootaround: Purdue wins and clinches the Big Ten title for Michigan State, and you're now officially invited to the Courtney Fortson show

Purdue 60, Wisconsin 57: This one was the slow-paced defensefest we've come to expect from big time Big Ten matchups. But that doesn't mean it wasn't a great game, and in fact it was much more aesthetically pleasing than usual. Both teams struggled in the first half finding a rhythm before Wisconsin opened with a run to start the second half, opening a 38-31 lead before Purdue responded. The Boilermakers would outscore the Badgers 17-2 over the next six minutes, taking a seemingly commanding 48-40 lead with seven minutes left.

But Wisconsin wasn't out of it, Keaon Nankivil did his best to shoot the Badgers back in it. He was 7-8 from three, 4-4 in the second half, and finished with 25 points. Three of those threes came in the last five minutes, as Wisconsin went on a 15-6 spurt to take a 57-56 lead with just 43 seconds left. A Nankivil three gave Wisconsin the lead. But at the other end, E'Twaun Moore, who finished with 20 points, hit a tough runner in the lane. Wisconsin was not able to score again, and two Purdue free throws gave us our final score.

E'Twuan Moore, after scoring the game-winner last night.
(photo credit: TSN)

Trevon Hughes struggled throughout most of this game. He was just 3-11 from the floor, finishing with 9 points. Back court mate Jordan Taylor did finish with 13 points, but he was only 4-12 from the floor and took a number of rush shots. In fact, outside of Nankivil, its tough to say anyone on the Wisconsin roster really played all that well. Wisconsin shot 40% from the floor, but Nankivil was 9-14, while the rest of his team went 11-36.

The Boilermakers, on the other hand, looked very good defensively (except for, you know, defending Nankivil on pick-and-pops). They closed down penetration and gave Wisconsin's back court fits. If Nankivil hadn't gone crazy, this would have been a sterling defensive performance. One other interesting note: JaJuan Johnson didn't start this game because he was late. Keaton Grant hasn't started since the Illinois game, allowing freshman Kelsey Barlow to start. Chris Kramer didn't start against Illinois, but has since earned his spot back. With all that turmoil, guess who was on the floor at the end of this game - Johnson, Grant, and Kramer.

Robbie Hummel finished with 12 points, 13 boards, and 5 assists, while JaJuan Johnson chipped in with 14 points.

Arkansas 67, Mississippi State 62: There may not be a player in the country more difficult to stay in front of than Courtney Fortson. The little lefty for Arkansas rolled his ankle pretty good in the first half last night, but absolutely dominated the second half. He scored 33 of his 35 points after the break, tying Mississippi State's team total, as he sliced his way to the rim over and over again. (The most memorable play for me was when he somehow wound up with a rebound in the paint, threw a couple pump fakes, and finished with Jarvis Varnado lurking right next to him.) Mississippi State struggled all night long to find the range from deep, and got a horrendous performance from point guard Dee Bost down the stretch. I've been telling you guys all along - Arkansas is going to give people problems in this league.

Georgia Tech 79, Wake Forest 58: The Yellow Jackets took a while to get going, but once they did, they really showed how good of a team they can be. They went on a 43-18 run spanning 22 minutes and two halves, and got impressive performances out of Derrick Favors, Gani Lawal, Iman Shumpert, and a team high 16 points from DeAndre Bell. Ishmael Smith and Al-Farouq Aminu both played decent games, but their role players did nothing. The lesson to learn? You can't beat a good team on the road in conference and shoot 32% from the floor and 13-25 from the line.

Other notables scores
  • Gonzaga 71, Santa Clara 64: The Zags overcame a 14 point deficit to beat Santa Clara on the strength of 19 points each from Steven Gray and Matt Bouldin and a 16 and 14 night from Elias Harris.
  • Pitt 73, St. John's 63: The Panthers got 16 points from Brad Wanamaker and 14 points from Ashton Gibbs as they used a late 9-1 run to pull away from the pesky Johnnies.
  • Ole Miss 84, Auburn 74: The Rebels got 20 points from Chris Warren, 19 from Terrico White, and two layups from Murphy Holloway that sparked a 16-4 run that blew this game open.
  • Cal 78, Arizona State 70: Jamal Boykin scored 25 points and added 10 boards, while Jerome Randle and Patrick Christopher added 25 and 21, respectively, as the Bears held on against a tough Sun Devils team. Up 16 points with 15 minutes left, ASU chipped away, cutting the lead to 67-66, but a Jorge Gutierrez three, a Christopher lay-up, and six straight Christopher free throws sealed the win.
  • Virginia Tech 76, UVa 71 OT: Someone needs to start the Malcolm-Delaney-for-ACC-player-of-the-year campaign. He had 27 points as the Hokies won despite a 25 foot fadeaway that forced overtime by Sammy Zeglinski.
  • South Florida 76, Seton Hall 74 OT: For the first time since they've been in the Big East, USF has won back-to-back Big East games. Dominique Jones, who had 46, 10, and 8 his last time out, finished with 28 points in this one.
  • Siena 66, St. Peter's 58: The Saints improved their winning streak to a nation's best 12 games on the strength of 21 points and 9 boards from Ryan Rossiter and 15 from Clarence Jackson.
  • St. Mary's 88, Pepperdine 71: Omar Samhan continued his stellar play, posting 23 points and 19 boards, while Mickey McConnell had a career-high 26 in the win. The Gaels remain one game behind Gonzaga for the WCC lead.
  • Old Dominion 56, Georgia State 40: The Monarchs shut down Georgia State defensively, and Gerald Lee chipped in with 16 points to keep ODU atop the CAA standings.
  • Xavier 86, Duquesne 50: Jason Love and Jordan Crawford both scored 17 points while Kenny Frease added 13 and 12 boards as Xavier moved into sole possession of first place in the A-10.
Thursday's Best
  • Courtney Fortson scored 33 of his 35 points in the second half in a win over Mississippi State. He also added 7 boards and 5 assists.
  • Kenneth Faried scored 23 points and added 21 assists as Morehead State knocked off Tennessee State.
  • Adrian Oliver had 33 points in a win for San Jose State.
  • St. Mary's Omar Samhan went for 23 points and 19 boards in a win over Pepperdine.
  • Malcolm Delaney had 27 points and 6 boards as Va Tech picked up a much needed win over UVa in OT.

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Mountain West Conference bubble breakdown

Last night, Charlotte beat A-10 leader Temple at home, New Mexico knocked off MWC leader BYU at the Pit, and Memphis hung on against Marshall a night after UAB slayed Tulsa in a battle of C-USA unbeatens.

What does that mean?

Simply put, the three best conferences outside the big six are as unpredictable as ever. Unpredictability in sports means excitement, and when you are dealing with conferences where 40% of the league has a real shot at winning the regular season title and/or earning a trip to the dance, you will rarely come across a more unpredictable situation.

Haven't had a chance to watch much A-10 hoops this season? Don't get the Mountain West's channel? Stopped caring about C-USA when Coach Cal left?

Don't worry. We're here to help you parse through it all. Be sure to check back in the next few days as we help you sort out the best leagues outside of the Big Six.


Standings (strictly teams that are still within reach of the bubble)

  • 1. BYU 20-2, 5-1
  • 2. New Mexico 19-3, 5-2
  • 3. UNLV 17-4, 5-2
  • 4. San Diego State 14-6, 3-3
Favorite: BYU

Led by the best player in the MWC, the Cougars have rolled to a 20-2 mark, having a 15 game winning streak snapped Wednesday night at New Mexico, a place where road losses have become perfectly acceptable. If you haven't seen Jimmer Fredette play, you're really missing out. Reminiscent of Steve Nash, Fredette isn't overly quick or athletic, but his has a great handle, is shifty with the ball, has a knack for the crafty finish around the rim, and has the stones to knock down a big shot. He's got a few scorers around him on the perimeter (Tyler Haws, Jackson Emery, Jonathon Tavernari) and capable big men on the interior (Chris Miles, Noah Hartsock, Brandon Davies). As good as Jimmer Fredette is, and as good as the MWC as a whole is, the talent surrounding BYU's all-american is what sets them apart from the rest of the pack.

How good is BYU?
(photo credit: Future of Fantasy Sports)

Having said that, its tough to judge the Cougars on a national scale as they don't exactly have a treasure trove of tournament caliber wins. Their 30 point win at Arizona isn't as impressive as it would have been five years ago. Beating Arizona State and UNLV at home are nice wins, but they are at home against teams that aren't guaranteed to be in the tournament. BYU is supposed to win those games.

I know the facts: the Cougars are rated 4th by Kenpom and 19th in the RPI; they've gone 9-1 in true road games and have played more games away from the Marriott Center (12) than they have at home; they won at UTEP and snapped SDSU's 14 game home court winning streak; their two losses are at two of the toughest places to play in the country (Utah State and New Mexico). There's no denying that this is a good team. But when having played the 101st toughest schedule and have beaten just two teams in the RPI top 50, I'm left wondering whether BYU is one of the best in the country, or just simply the best of the country's second tier teams.

And if they lose: New Mexico

The Lobos are lead by the uber-versatile Darington Hobson. Hobson, a 6'7" lefty combo forward, took an interesting path to New Mexico, but after landing there its become obvious he is a player. 22 games into the season, he's averaging 14.8 ppg, 8.4 rpg, and 4.1 apg, and while he has struggled a bit of late (he's shooting just 35% over his last 10 games), one thing that is clear about Hobson is that he is a match-up nightmare. He's got an excellent handle, can create his own shot, is a solid three-point shooter with his feet set, and while he has a tendency to make a few head-scratching decisions, his 4.1 apg proves he is a capable playmaker.

New Mexico beat BYU on Wednesday despite just five points from Darington Hobson.
(photo credit: ESPN)

Like the Cougars, the Lobos have a solid supporting cast surrounding Hobson. Roman Martinez, another 6'6" lefty forward, can score and is a knock-down shooter, Dairese Gray is one of the more underrated point guards in the country (anyone that saw him put 25 on BYU Wednesday will agree), Phil McDonald is a capable scorer, and the Lobos have a couple of big bodies to throw in the mix as well.

New Mexico probably has the best non-conference resume, as they have gathered wins over Cal, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, and Dayton. The Lobos still have to play five of their nine league games on the road, including trips to BYU and UNLV (who beat them at the Pit), but if they can beat the teams they are supposed to beat, and pull out a win against the Cougars or the Rebels, New Mexico has a shot to win the regular season title.

Who's Dancing?:
  • BYU: 20-2, 5-1, RPI: 19, Kenpom: 4, SOS: 101, vs. RPI top-50: 2-1, vs. RPI top-100: 7-2, Best wins: UNLV, @ SDSU, Bad losses: none

    Barring a collapse, the Cougars should be in. The question will be where they get seeded. Their computer numbers are great, and they don't have any bad losses (like I said, there is no shame in losing at Utah State). Assuming they go 9-1 down the stretch (they still have five road games, including UNLV, and get New Mexico and SDSU at home), I think the Cougars are destined for a spot in the 4-5 range. So long as they avoid Texas A&M, BYU should get a win this year.

  • New Mexico: 19-3, 5-2, RPI: 12; Kenpom: 41; SOS: 37; vs. RPI top-50: 5-2; vs. RPI top-100: 6-2; Best wins: Cal, BYU, Texas A&M, Texas Tech; Bad losses: @ Oral Roberts

    Like BYU, the Lobos are all but a lock to get a bid. They've got quite a few impressive wins over power conference schools, and even picked off Louisiana Tech and Dayton earlier in the season. The Lobos have a good shot at winning the league, and if they do, don't be surprised to see them in the 4-5 range.

  • UNLV: 17-4, 5-2; RPI: 35; Kenpom: 53; SOS: 77; vs. RPI top-50: 3-2; vs. RPI top-100: 6-3; Best wins: Louisville, @ New Mexico, SDSU; Bad losses: Utah

    If today was Selection Sunday, UNLV would probably be in the tournament. They wouldn't be one of the last few teams in, but they certainly would be in the group right before that. If I'm a Rebels fan, now is when I start getting worried. UNLV is good, but they don't quite have the talent level of New Mexico or BYU, especially now that Derrick Jasper is out with an MCL sprain. UNLV plays BYU, New Mexico, and at San Diego State in the span of a week in early February. If they can get a win against either BYU or UNM at home and take care of business against the five teams towards the bottom of the league, UNLV will almost assuredly get a bid with a 14-4 record in conference.

  • San Diego State: 14-6, 3-3, RPI: 43, Kenpom: 65; SOS: 55; vs. RPI top-50: 1-3; vs. RPI top-100: 2-5; Best wins: New Mexico; Bad losses: @ Wyoming, @ Pacific

    SDSU is in dire straits, and may almost be at the point that they need to win out to get a bid. They're 5-5 on the road this season, including losses to Wyoming and Pacific. Their best road win: Utah, who is 158th in the RPI. They do own a win over New Mexico, which is good, but their only other top-RPI win came against Arizona. The good news is that the Aztecs get another chance to knock off New Mexico and BYU to help their resume. The bad news is they have to do it on the road. Barring a miraculous turnaround, the Aztecs are probably out.

Continue reading...

Syracuse vs. Villanova: Who's the best of the Big East?

With Georgetown, Pitt, West Virginia, and UConn all coming down to earth in the last few weeks, Syracuse and Villanova have established themselves unequivocally as the favorites in the Big East.

But who is better?

It depends on how you look at them.

Going strictly by the numbers, its Syracuse. They are first in the country in the RPI, and third according to Kenpom. They've done so playing the fourth-most difficult schedule in the country. They won at West Virginia and handily beat Georgetown at home despite digging a 14-0 hole. They are 4-0 on the road, beat Cal and UNC in MSG early in the season, and also beat Florida in Tampa. Their sole loss on the season was to Pitt.

Their length has made their zone almost impenetrable. They deflect passes and force turnovers, and are able to convert those turnovers into points as well as anyone in the country. Offensively, they play an incredibly smart brand of basketball, rarely taking a bad or forced shot. What proof? They shoot, as a team, 53.4% from the floor, and have an effective field goal percentage of 59.3, second best in the country.

It makes sense that Syracuse's name is being thrown around when talking about the Final Four and the national title. They've had a fantastic season.

But Villanova has been great this year as well.

In fact, they have a better record than Syracuse, as they are 8-0 in the league. They have five wins against the RPI top-50, and nine against the top-100. Their only loss is to Temple, which doesn't look nearly as bad as it did when they were beaten. They've played more games (11) away from home than they have at home (10), and are 10-1 in those games. While their efficiency numbers are lower than you would expect from a team in the top five (Kenpom has them at 13th), a big reason for that is their poor defensive efficiency, which is 71st in the country. But that number has been steadily climbing (they were 95th a month ago), and is made up for by a potent offensive attack.

Those numbers will only get better as Villanova continues to play at full strength. Reggie Redding, the Wildcats best perimeter defender, wasn't eligible until after the Temple loss. Mouph Yarou is back from a bout of Hepatitis, giving Villanova some depth in the paint.

Head-to-head, this game would be a toss-up. Villanova has shooters and penetrators in their back court that thrive against a zone. Syracuse has the size inside and the discipline offensively to pick apart the Wildcat's defense. I don't think I'm the only one that would say the winner of this game would be a toss-up, depending on who got hot and where the game was played.

Having said that, if I had to bet on one of these two teams to win the Big East, I would put everything I own on the Orange.

In a heartbeat.

You see, Villanova has yet to really play the meat of the Big East. In February, not only will Villanova have to play Georgetown, Syracuse, Pitt, West Virginia, and Cincinnati, they will have to play all five of them on the road.

Going 3-2 in that stretch would be quite an accomplishment.

And that's not it. The Wildcats also have to UConn and West Virginia again at home. You would be hard-pressed to find anyone with a tougher schedule down the stretch than Villanova.

Syracuse doesn't exactly play cupcakes the rest of the season. They get Louisville twice, UConn and Villanova at home, and travel to Georgetown and Cincinnati. But that is a far cry from what the Wildcats finish the season with. Its not crazy to predict the Orange to go 9-1 over their last 10 games, putting them at 16-2 in the conference.

Can Villanova match that?

The most intriguing part in all of this is that Villanova and Syracuse only play once this season, on Feb. 27th. Seeing as the winner will hold the tie-breaker if the two teams should finish the season with identical records, in all probability that game will be the de-facto Big East championship game.

Think the Carrier Dome will be packed for that one?
Continue reading...

Friday Morning Dump

- Mike DeCourcy explains the formula to winning a national championship

- Purdue's Lewis Jackson was back in the lineup against Wisconsin

- An interesting read on the state of Harvard basketball, which spawned a war of tweets between Pablo Torre, the articles author, and Pete Thamel.

- Jay Bilas on ways to clean up the dirty play

- Jeff Goodman explains how Clemson can get out of their 3-game-funk

- Patrick Patterson is getting sick of social networking

- Former Blue Demon interested in DePaul job

- Agree with each and every name on this list, but I think Scott Drew of Baylor also deserves a mention. There you go, Scott. You got a mention

- South Carolina trustees want court-storming fine donated to Haiti

- 5-on-2?

- Ahh yes, the ever-elusive eight-point-play

- Luke Winn has Syracuse atop his new power rankings

- If this is true, there may be some fights on Gameday

- Is John Wall better than Carmelo Anthony?

- Sports Illustrated updated PoY nominees

- Mark Titus writes about his chaotic week visiting the World Wide Leader

- Gameday crew headed to Carrier Dome on Feb. 27th for 'Nova/'Cuse

- Rush The Court provides an in-depth look at the over-abundance of what else? Rushing the Court

- Ernie Kent, hot seat?

- UNC-Wilmington head coach becomes the fifth coach to lose their job this season

This kid's a freshman at Santa Clara now.

Someone get this kid a scholarship!!!

Gary Parrish, Mike DeCourcy, and Seth Davis on Davis's new hoops show.

Continue reading...

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Thursday's Pregame Beat

7:00 pm: Wisconsin @ Purdue: I think we can all agree that Michigan State is the best team in the Big Ten. But after that, it gets a bit murky. Ohio State has the best player and Purdue was the favorite in the preseason, but Wisconsin may be the best of the three when healthy. The problem is, the Badgers are not healthy, as John Leuer is out with a broken wrist. Without Leuer, the Badgers have had to rely more on the back court for points. Trevon Hughes has averaged 20.0 ppg over the last four games, in which Wisconsin has gone 3-1 (the only loss came at Ohio State). Perhaps the x-factor tonight is sophomore Jordan Taylor. Taylor scored 23 points in Wisconsin's win over Purdue a few weeks back, and saved the Badgers at home against Penn State, scoring 18 of his 20 points after the two minute mark in regulation.

Purdue, on the other hand, has played better of late, winning their last two games after dropping three straight. The issue with the Boilermakers right now is on the offensive end. They have struggled of late to consistently create good looks at the rim. Part of the reason is their lack of a point with Lewis Jackson out, part of the reason has been a lock of focus and leadership from some of their upperclassmen, and part of it is that Purdue just isn't an overly talented team on the offensive end.

Like most Big Ten battles, this will likely be a low-scoring, physical affair. While those games are usually far from aesthetically pleasing, fundamentals aficionados can take solace in the fact that these are two of the most well-coached teams in the country.

7:00 pm: Wake Forest @ Georgia Tech: This game will be the anti-Big Ten. Long, athletic front courts. Dynamic, talented back courts. Scorers on the wing. Pressuring defenses. Coaches that like to get out and run. It may not be pretty, but I can guarantee that Wake-Ga Tech will be entertaining.

7:00 pm: Virginia Tech @ Virginia: I am withholding judgement on both of these teams, for now, as I try to determine whether these two teams are good, or if they are only as good as their stars (Malcolm Delaney for Tech and Sylvan Landesberg for the 'Hoos). Tech has a better supporting cast, but UVa is getting better coaching right now. If the Hokies are serious about making a run at a tournament spot, they need to pull this one out. Like wise, if UVa drops this one at home, people may hop off their bandwagon.

8:30 pm: Cal @ Arizona State: Right now, it looks like these are probably the two best teams in the Pac-10. Arizona State made a surge after recently switching from a Princeton-style offense to more of a motion offense. It has been working much better, mainly because ASU doesn't have a necessary component for successfully running a Princeton offense - a big man that can pass well from the high post - and is loaded with talented perimeter players. Ty Abbot and Rihard Kuksiks, specifically, have been thriving in the new system. But Cal has been cruising along since getting Theo Robertson back. An ASU win could create a five-way tie at the top of the Pac-10.

9:00 pm: Mississippi State @ Arkansas: A 31 point waxing at Kentucky aside, I'm not yet ready to give up on the Razorbacks. True, they have lost six of seven, but four of those six losses have been competitive losses to UAB, Texas, Florida, and this Mississippi State team in Starkville. Arkansas has talent in their starting line-up, and if this team can gel and put it all together, they will give teams some issues this season. That's a big "if", however.

Other notable games

  • 7:00 pm: Georgia State @ Old Dominion
  • 7:00 pm: Duquesne @ Xavier
  • 7:00 pm: Seton Hall @ South Florida
  • 7:00 pm: St. John's @ Pitt
  • 7:00 pm: Siena @ St. Peter's
  • Pac-10:
    • 8:00 pm: Stanford @ Arizona
    • 8:30 pm: USC @ Oregon State
    • 10:30 pm: UCLA @ Oregon
  • 10:00 pm: St. Mary's @ Pepperdine
  • 11:00 pm: Gonzaga @ Santa Clara

Continue reading...

The BIAH Quotables

This a new feature we are trying out here at BIAH this season. Throughout the week, we are going to post some notable quotes or excerpts that show up in our google reader. Stupid people say stupid things 24 hours a day, and being somehow associated with the college hoops landscape does not preclude that fact. That said, we will not limit our quotables to the simple and idiotic, as the insightful and intelligent will also be highlighted. Feel free to pass along any quotables you stumble across to or hit us up on twitter.

Chris Chase at The Dagger wrote an insightful piece on the habits of AP poll voters, John Feinstein in particular. Feinstein apparently holds the #25 spot for particular schools:

I use the 25th spot every week to try to give some recognition to a smaller school ... You'd be amazed how much it means to schools like that to get the one vote--so why not?
But Chase explains why a voter can do this, and have it not matter that much:
I agree. It's a bit contrived but it doesn't hurt anyone and gives a thrill to the small legions of fans who root for Army and William & Mary and Coastal Carolina. College basketball polls are inherently meaningless as it is. One vote in said college basketball poll is even more so. The one point Feinstein's No. 25 vote is worth wouldn't have made a difference in any in-season poll this year. The gap between the No. 24, No. 25 and "No. 26" team averages around 35 points. One point is a drop in the bucket.
The Normally-stoic Jim Boeheim decided to cut lose during the press conference after his team's dismantling of Big East rival Georgetown. Jimmy-B was dropping bombs left and right.

I tried transcribing it for you, but it was too arduous of a task for me to complete. So here is the video instead. The hilarity ensues shortly after the 4:45 Mark:

Mark "the shark" Titus, the mastermind behind Club Trillion, had a great quotable about other notable walk-ons around the country:
Jarvis Varnado of Mississippi State is his team’s best player, but is technically a walk-on after he gave up his scholarship because the team had more players who were promised scholarships than there were scholarships available.

Justin Thomas of Syracuse was thrown into the fire last year in that classic six overtime thriller against UConn because most of the guys in the regular rotation had fouled out.

Skylar McBee of Tennessee (that’s fun to say out loud) is a walk-on who made a game-clinching three as the shot clock ran out against top-ranked Kansas on January 10th and could probably run for mayor of Knoxville because of it (let’s hope he doesn’t run against Lane Kiffin, though, cause I heard he’s pretty popular in Knoxville these days).
Indiana coach Tom Crean is one of the most active twitterers in the country. This week, he put on his best "Siskell & Ebert" hat and critiqued what he was watching (other than game film):
On a personal note, i came out of my office at home last night and sat down to watch tv with my wife. She had the Bachelor on.
The acting is so bad in that show and the guy is such a clown I had to go back and watch something not as bad, our turnover tape.
I am going to miss Patty, the millionaire matchmaker and a repeat of of the Housewives of Orange County. Now that's a sacrifice because thats quality television!
Thanks coach for that insightful analysis.

In the Thursday edition of Mike DeCourcy's 3-Pointers column, he notes that Kentucky might benefit from being the last team to lose:
What does it mean that Kentucky was the final unbeaten team to fall? Historically, it means there's a better than 50-percent chance the Wildcats will be playing in this season's Final Four.

Veteran sportswriter Wendell Barnhouse of has been keeping a list of the final unbeaten teams to fall that begins the year after Indiana managed to stay perfect in 1976. UK's loss on Jan. 26 makes this a below-average season in terms of perfection; in 18 of 34 seasons, a team made it unbeaten into February.

Unbeknownst to BIAH, Michigan State altered their traditional spartan logo with help from Nike. Students, fans, bloggers, and alumni are not happy. Coach Tom Izzo played the role of riot control:
Somebody out here tell me, what is our tradition? Which one of those different things is our tradition? We’re going to have the same color, the same uniforms, the same logo, and we’re going to be moving into that new century here in the proper way, and I’m excited about it. So for all of you out there who are complaining, shame on you, because we’ve got a leader, our president, I’ve been involved in this thing, we’re trying to do what’s best for Michigan State University, our athletic department, and the great people that we associate with, and Nike’s done a heck of a job.
Oh God, Izzo just said "shame on you". Things can't be looking good in East Lansing. Then again, do things ever look good in East Lansing?
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Wednesday Shootaround: Vandy, New Mexico, and Charlotte all pick up big wins

Vanderbilt 85, Tennessee 76: Is it safe to say Vanderbilt is for real now? The Commodores extended their winning streak to 10 games and remained in sole possession of first place in the SEC by going into Knoxville and knocking off the Vols. After a Skylar McBee steal and lay-in gave Tennessee a 51-45 lead, Vanderbilt too this on over. They went on an extended run, outscoring the Vols 29-9 over the next eight minutes. Jermaine Beal, who scored 25 big points, had 13 of Vandy's 29 points in the run, including eight points in under a minute that capped the run and pushed the lead to 14.

I really like this Vandy team. They have size, depth, athleticism, shooting, and a closer in Beal. Last night, they had four other players reach double figures, and Andre Walker had 9 points, 7 boards, and 5 assists. They travel to Rupp on Saturday, and if they can somehow pull out a win there, the 'Dores will be two games up in first place.

New Mexico 76, BYU 72: The Lobos lost three of five earlier this season, but have bounced back very nicely, knocking off BYU at home for their fifth straight win. The Lobos jumped out to an early lead, and were in control for much of the game. BYU made a few runs - tying the game at 46 and taking a 64-62 lead - but in both instances, New Mexico immediately responded. The Lobos looked comfortable and confident throughout, despite getting just five points from leading scorer Darington Hobson. Lobo point guard Dairese Gray played the best game of his young career, as he went for 25 points, hitting a number of clutch shots and big time free throws down the stretch. Jimmer Fredette had 27 points and 7 assists to lead the Cougars.

The most important part of this win is that it kept UNM in the hunt for the MWC title. BYU had taken a two-game led on the rest of the pack, and if New Mexico had lost, their hopes for a title were all but gone. Now? New Mexico, and UNLV, sit just a half-game back.

Charlotte 74, Temple 64: Charlotte has officially made the top of the A-10 an unsightly mess. Temple had a chance to create some separation between themselves and the rest of the conference, but the Owls blew a ten point lead as they were never quite able to figure out Charlotte's zone. Derrio Green scored 26 points and added 5 assists for the 49ers, but just as important was the contribution Bobby Lutz got from his three big men - Shamari Spears, Chris Braswell, and Phil Jones. The three combined for 34 points and 20 boards.

I really like this Charlotte team. They have a major conference front line (Spears went to BC for a year, Braswell was a Georgetown recruit), Green is a guy that can go for 25 on a given night, and they have a couple of talented role players (AnJuan Wilderness, DiJuan Harris). The issue for this team is going to be shot selection. They have a tendency to take quick shots and forget about Spears in the paint.

Texas 95, Texas Tech 83: After back-to-back losses, the Longhorns bounced back nicely in a win over the Red Raiders. Damion James continued his player of the year season, going for 28 points and 13 boards (including a vicious tip-dunk) which set the Big XII career record for double-doubles, but it was the play of Justin Mason and Dogus Balbay that was the difference. The two combined for 31 points and 12 assists on 13-20 shooting. Neither Balbay or Mason is lauded for their scoring ability, which means that team will sag off of them and help down on the inside with Pittman and James.

One thing to note in this game was that Rick Barnes reduced his bench. Jai Lucas and Alexis Wangmene barely saw the floor, while Clint Chapman never got off the bench. A lot of people had been critical of Barnes for having too deep of a rotation, limiting the minutes of some of his players.

Other notables scores

  • Providence 81, UConn 66: The Huskies looked lost without Jim Calhoun in this one. They jumped out to an early seven point lead, but PC kept hanging around before the Friars eventually took control in the second half. Providence went on a 14-0 run to take a 69-58 lead, and the Huskies had no answers. Greedy Peterson led the way with 23 points and 14 boards.
  • Ohio State 65, Iowa 57: Iowa is pesky this season. They held a late seven point lead, but 18 second half points from David Lighty and 10 points, 5 boards, and 3 steals from Evan Turner in the final seven minutes sealed the win.
  • Villanova 90, Notre Dame 72: Scottie Reynolds and Corey Fisher both scored 17 points as Villanova used a late 11-0 run to seal this one. Luke Harangody had 21 points and 9 boards, but it wasn't enough to keep Villanova from their 10th straight win or their 8th straight to start Big East play.
  • Duke 70, Florida State 56: The Blue Devils go 22 points from Jon Scheyer and 20 from Kyle Singler, as they used a late 15-4 run to knock off a feisty FSU team.
  • Illinois 77, Penn State 67: The Illini picked up a much needed win over Penn State as they got 20 points from DJ Richardson. It was their defense, however, that won this one down the stretch, as they made their run during a five minute scoreless stretch by the Nittany Lions.
  • Florida 87, Georgia 71: Alex Tyus scored 23 points and Erving Walker and Kenny Boynton poured in 21 a piece as the Gators won in easy fashion. Florida is now 4-2 and setting themselves up nicely for a run at the tournament.
  • Memphis 75, Marshall 72: Elliot Williams scored an and-one layup with a minute left to give the Tigers a 73-72 lead, and Marshall missed three field goals and two free throws over the next 34 seconds as the Tigers remained a game out of first in the C-USA. Hassan Whiteside had 22 points, 8 boards, and 7 blocks for Marshall.
  • Oklahoma State 76, Texas A&M 69: The Cowboys solidified their tournament status with a nice win over the Aggies on the ninth anniversary of a place crash that killed 10 people associated with the team. Obi Muonelo had 24 points, while James Anderson added 19.
  • Oklahoma 89, Iowa State 84: Tommy Mason-Griffin scored 38 points and added 6 assists as the Sooners won despite playing without Willie Warren and Tony Crocker.
  • Northern Iowa 67, Drake 51: Adam Koch scored 14 points to lead UNI to the win and a 9-1 record and two game lead in the Valley.
  • Drexel 61, Northeastern 48: The Dragons snapped the 11 game winning streak that Northeastern had going, dropping the Huskies into third in the CAA.
  • George Mason 77, Delaware 66: Cam Long scored 18 points as the Patriots officially moved into first place in the CAA.
  • James Madison 65, William & Mary 63: That's it. We're officially no longer allowed to talk about W&M.
  • VCU 112, Towson 53: Towson isn't very good, but they lost by 59 points in a conference game? To VCU? Wow.
Wednesday's Best
  • Hofstra's Charles Jenkins only had 24 points in a blowout win, but he scored 8 on one possession. He finished a fast break lay-up, and was fouled. The foul was called an intentional, and that player picked up a tech arguing. Jenkins hit all four free throws, and the Pride got the ball back. Jenkins scored, giving him eight points on one possession.
  • Tommy Mason-Griffin of Oklahoma may end up being pretty good. He had 38 points and 6 assists in the Sooners win as Tony Crocker and Willie Warren sat out.
  • UTEP's Julyan Stone had just four points, but he checked in with 13 boards, 9 assists, 2 blocks, and 2 steals in the Miners win.
  • Wyoming's Adam Waddell had 13 points and 22 boards in win over Utah.
  • Hassan Whiteside, who may be the season's biggest surprise, had 22 points, 8 boards, and 7 blocks in a loss to Memphis.
  • Emmanuel Bidias a Moute, Luc Richard's twin brother, had 7 points, 15 boards, 8 assists, and 4 blocks in a win for Texas State.
  • Vlad Moldoveaneu had 37 points and 9 assists for American in their win over Navy.

Continue reading...

Thursday Morning Dump

- Gary Parrish tries to determine who will be #1 next

- Jeff Goodman on the biggest surprise team of the year, and it's not Syracuse or Pittsburgh

- Game of the year comes from the Ivy League?

- Seth Davis tells us who the best non-BCS conference players are

- Kalin Lucas vs. Mateen Cleaves

- Oklahoma State will honor plane crash victems

- Mike DeCourcy answers five tough questions

- John Calipari chatted with Rick Barnes about being No. 1, and probably, not being No. 1 as well

- Mike Davis is doing a heck of a job in Birmingham

- With the loss to lowly Providence, UConn returns to mediocrity

- Does the Kentucky loss change that much in the rankings?

- Well will you look at that: a Memphis vs. the NCAA update

- Evan "The Villian" Turner's quick recovery saved the Buckeyes from falling apart

- So the guy that hit the blindfolded halfcourt shot ended up getting Final Four tickets

- Is the UConn/'Cuse rivalry bigger than G'Town/'Cuse rivalry? I don't think so

- Syracuse fans have made their way to Idaho. We're doomed.

- Should Eric Bledsoe go pro?

Continue reading...

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

More Renardo Sidney drama

Hey everyone! More Renardo Sidney news updates craziness!

This afternoon, Sidney's attorney Don Jackson sent out this blast email to alert the national media that the NCAA's Amateurism Fact-Finding Committee met on Monday:

1. There was no evidence to establish that a family loan was based upon the student-athlete's athletic ability or "payback" potential as the Eligibility Center staff alleged.

2. The committee made NO findings relative to the family's living expenses during the term of their stay in California. Notably. The ACP Staff did not include any reference to the allegedly inappropriate living arrangement in their proposed Statement of Facts. Despite a nearly yearlong investigation, no factual findings were made or proposed regarding the Los Angeles residence.
More than adequate documentation was provided to document the family's payment of living expenses.

3. The ACP Staff alleged and the committee agreed that the student-athlete received excess Reebok gear and that a family friend assisted with the costs of unofficial visits to two schools. The family friend was repaid; no factual finding was made on the repayment of the loan.

4. No factual finding was made and the ACP Staff did not propose any specific facts relative to the propriety of the student-athlete's father's employment with Reebok. The reality of the matter is that his employment with Reebok does not (in any way) point toward a violation of any type.

Other "factual issues" were either determined to have been beyond the scope of the committee's authority or no findings were issued. In an interesting and unprecedented twist, the ACP Staff attempted to impose an unethical conduct charge upon the family of the student-athlete maintaining that 10.1 applied to their interview testimony. This represents an extraordinary stretch as 10.1 has always been interpreted to apply to athletic department staff and student-athletes ... never family members. This was a clear effort to manufacture a violation.

Currently, the student-athlete has missed nineteen (19) regular-season games and two (2) exhibition games.
The NCAA has released their own statement in response.
Mr. Jackson is wrong in his description of Renardo Sidney, Jr's.,initial-eligibility status, and he continues to demonstrate a lack of understanding of the Amateurism Certification Process. The NCAA Division I Amateurism Fact-Finding Committee has only determined what facts will now be analyzed to decide if violations of NCAA legislation have occurred, and if so, what penalties should be assessed. This matter will not be concluded until such final determinations have been made. At this point, it is premature to speculate on a timeframe and an ultimate outcome. However, it is correct to say had Mr. Jackson promptly and accurately replied in full to the NCAA’s repeated requests for specific information beginning in April 2009 the process would be much further along.
Yeah, I don't know anymore.

I'm just sick of hearing about Sidney.

Someone let me know when a decision has been made.

Continue reading...

Wednesday's Pregame Beat

7:00 pm: Vanderbilt @ Tennessee: Big game in the SEC East as Vanderbilt, who is all of a sudden the only undefeated team in the SEC, takes on Tennessee, who lost by 15 at Georgia last week.

7:00 pm: Temple @ Charlotte: If Temple beats Charlotte, they may have all but locked up the A-10 title. Their only difficult road trip the rest of the way is to Richmond, they already beat URI on the road and Xavier at home, and play Dayton at home later in the season.

9:00 pm: Florida State @ Duke: The Seminoles could really use a marquee win, and winning in Cameron would be just that. While they definitely have the size, I'm not sure they have the guard play to hang with Scheyer and Smith.

10:00 pm: BYU @ New Mexico: Game of the night. BYU is looking more and more like a team that can make a run through the tournament. That said, the Pit is a very tough place to play, especially when the Lobos are good. And they are good this year. Darington Hobson and Roman Martinez form one of the most underrated front courts in the country, but if you haven't seen Jimmer Fredette play, he's a lot of fun to watch.

Other notable games

  • 7:00 pm: Notre Dame @ Villanova
  • 7:00 pm: UConn @ Providence
  • 7:05 pm: Wichita State @ Illinois State
  • 7:30 pm: Texas A&M @ Oklahoma State
  • 8:05 pm: Drake @ UNI
  • 8:30 pm: Ohio State @ Iowa
  • 9:00 pm: Texas Tech @ Texas

Continue reading...

Hilarious moments in bad timing

So I saw this on the UK website today.

Click to enlarge.

The funniest part? It says "Due in stock Jan. 27th", also known as the day after Kentucky lost to South Carolina. I wonder how many of these shirts UK is selling...

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Did DeMarcus Cousins punch a fan last night?

One of the rumors that has been flying around the intrawebs today is that DeMarcus Cousins, as the crowd was rushing the floor at the Colonial Like Arena last night, punched a fan twice before being removed by a member of the Kentucky staff.

Well, a radio host in South Carolina witnessed it, and this morning on his radio show, that student called in. His account of the incident:

As the students were getting ready to rush the court, I had my head down just plowing through the crowd, because you want to try and get past the girls in the yellow coats. So as I'm doing that, my head's down and all of a sudden I bump into this big body. Of course, I look up and its none other than Cousins. I'm like, great, its the biggest guy in the whole coliseum and I bump into him. Well, first he gives me a little chicken wing and then I get a cold cock in my right cheek, and it knocked me for a loop. I just looked up at him and smiled and kept going. But he gave me at least two good licks.

South Carolina fans stormed the court in style last night.
(photo credit: The State)

The host goes on to talk about how, after the incident, he saw the student that was hit and asked him if he was OK, to which the student replied "Yeah, man. It was worth it."

I don't know if this story is true. There is no video of the incident. There are no pictures. Any truth to this story rests entirely on the shoulders of a radio host and a kid that called into his show.

Not exactly the Lord's word.

That said, this isn't the first time that Cousins' temper has been an issue. If you remember, against Louisville earlier this month, he dropped an elbow on the head of Jared Swopshire just 45 seconds into the game. Some started questioning whether or not Cousins would be able to handle an entire season without snapping again.

If this is, in fact, true, I know that Cousins was wrong. You can't hit someone, especially when you are a 6'11", 260 lb behemoth that doubles as a star athlete for arguably the most popular sports team in the country.

Still, I would find it really difficult to put a lot of blame on Cousins.

There is a reason you aren't supposed to rush the court. There is a reason that the South Carolina security staff surrounded the court. There is a reason the SEC has instituted a system of fines, reaching as much as $50,000*, when students descend on to the court, or the football field, after a big win.

It is precisely to avoid incidents like this.

Remember, despite his size, Cousins is still just a 19 year old kid. 19 year old kids, when put in stressful situations (like losing the first game of your college career despite playing your best game in front of a raucous road crowd), sometimes make bad decisions. Sometimes, 19 year old kids throw punches. I know I threw a couple punches in my younger days, and I don't consider myself a bad person.

The student admitted that he ran into Cousins.

Cousins reacted.

That reaction?

To defend himself.

I'm not trying to take any of the blame away from Cousins. If he threw a punch, he should probably face some sort of disciplinary action, whether it is a suspension, a benching, or simply some extra conditioning drills after practice. He'll deserve whatever he gets.

Just like that student deserves what he got.

I enjoy a good court-storming as much as anyone, and last night's was one of the best I've seen in a long time. That said, anyone that runs on the floor, especially when your path to get there involves getting "past the girls in the yellow coats", should know that they are someplace they don't belong. And if they do something dumb in this place the don't belong - say, run into the biggest player on a basketball court - then should be prepared to pay the price.

In this case, it was a couple of shots to the face from a future lottery pick. If there was a riot and you happened to be running around in the streets, you may get tear-gassed. You may get arrested.

And you may get away unscathed with a great story.

But one thing's for sure. If you do get gassed or thrown in cuffs, you won't get any sympathy from me.

Neither will this kid.

(*South Carolina was fined $25,000 last night for allowing the students to storm the floor. It was their second violation, as they were fined $5,000 for a court-storming five years ago against, who else, Kentucky. People are already pushing for the fine to be given to Haitian relief efforts.

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Devan Downey's gunning a necessity

By now, everyone has seen them.

An and-one, 15 footer off of an inbounds play with two seconds left on the shot clock as someone was taking out his legs. A tough, lefty drive, beating two help defenders before hitting a runner off the glass. Spinning away from a ball-screen, driving right before coming back left, splitting two defenders with a little hop-step to find space in the paint for an eight-foot floater.

Given the time (three straight possessions in the final four minutes), score (South Carolina clinging to a slim lead), and opponent (No. 1 and then-undefeated Kentucky), those three buckets from Devan Downey are as tough, as gutty, and as clutch as any that you will see this season.

In fact, if you look back at Downey's night, just about all of the nine shots that he hit could have made Sportscenter.

The issue that a lot of people are going to have isn't with the shots he made.

It will be with the 20 shots he missed on the night.

Its true that Downey hit three of the biggest shots of his life down the stretch last night. Its also true that those three shots were instrumental in the Gamecock's win.

But the question that a lot of people have asked is whether or not South Carolina would have been in a position to need those three shots if Downey had been more selective earlier in the game.

The answer too that question?

No, they wouldn't have.

Because Kentucky would have been blowing out South Carolina.

For those that haven't followed the Gamecocks very closely this season, they have lost two starters, both double digit scorers. 6'7" small forward Dominique Archie was an NBA prospect and the best defender on South Carolina, in not in the SEC, before suffering a season-ending knee injury. 6'7" power forward Mike Holmes was averaging 11 points and 5 boards before being dismissed from the team.

What's left?

Some good role players. Some athletic bigs. A lot of young guys with potential. But not much scoring.

That's why Downey shoots so much. Because if he doesn't, where are the points going to come from? Brandis Raley-Ross is a good spot-up shooter, but that's about it. Sam Muldrow is an active, athletic big man, but his offense consists of dunks and putbacks. Lakeem Jackson has some potential as a slasher, but he's a freshman. Johndre Jefferson and Austin Steed are both capable big men, but are far from what one would call a scoring threat.

The bottom line?

Devan Downey is good enough that a tough, low-percentage shot going 1-on-2 or 1-on-3 is a better shot than asking the Gamecocks role players to create their own looks.

So while that 9-29 is an eyesore, and 30 points on 29 shots is not going to put you on Gasaway's or Pomeroy's all-efficiency teams, keep in mind that without Downey playing this way, South Carolina would not have beaten Kentucky.

Sometimes efficiency takes a backseat to winning.

I'm sure Gasaway and Pomeroy would both agree.

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Reactions to South Carolina's win from around the web

I don't know if you've heard, but Kentucky lost last night to South Carolina, meaning that for the second time in an many weeks, the No. 1 team in the country dropped their first game as the No. 1 team in the country.

As you might expect, quite a few people had something to say about this game. We will update this as the day goes on and more columns are posted, but here is what some of the college hoops media thinks about this upset.

Jeff Goodman of FOXSports: "No one is ready to handle the bull's-eye. A year ago, it was North Carolina and everyone else. Two years ago, there were four elite teams in a class of their own to begin the season — and the same quartet made the Final Four. In 2007, it was the defending champion Florida Gators who were considered a lock to repeat with everyone back in the fold. This year, it's wide open. All you had to do was watch the nation's final unbeaten, Kentucky, go down Tuesday night to a mediocre South Carolina team that lost to Wofford earlier this season. A South Carolina team that entered the game 11-8 overall, 2-3 in SEC play and without its second-best player, Dominique Archie. Or see Texas, which held the No. 1 ranking for one week — or more accurately, one day — get swept on the road by Kansas State and UConn. That's a Huskies team that was riding a three-game losing streak and was without its coach. Or watch Kansas, the consensus No. 1 team entering the season, go into Knoxville earlier this month and return with a loss against a Tennessee team that had just six scholarship players. It was the same Vols group that was blasted by 22 out in Los Angeles to USC."

Andy Katz of "South Carolina was still dealing with Saturday's buzzer-beating loss at Florida when the Gamecocks were hit with another zinger late that night. The players and staff, albeit separately, took note of the media's breakdown of when 19-0 Kentucky would lose its first game. They knew Texas had gone down again, this time to Connecticut. They knew Kentucky had throttled Arkansas, opening up the No. 1 spot. They knew they were next for the Wildcats on Tuesday night at home. Yet, they felt like that trip to Columbia was omitted from any on-air discussion -- mostly at this network -- about when the Wildcats would lose next, with games against Vanderbilt, Tennessee and Mississippi State seen as the biggest threats."

Dana O'Neil of "Of course this is as much about Kentucky as it is South Carolina. The Wildcats, who had survived by a whisper five times this season, did not play well from the opening tip. They were disjointed and sloppy. Wall finished with 19, but as the game got close and you kept expecting him to take over, it never happened. Perhaps more telling, this team of overachieving freshmen were left on an island by their upperclassmen and drowned. The Kentucky newcomers, which includes JUCO transfer Darnell Dodson, scored 57 of Kentucky's 62 points. Patrick Patterson represented the older generation with the other five. The guys with experience, the ones presumably more equipped to handle hostile gyms and the newly minted No. 1 ranking, were absentee parents, leaving the kids to figure out everything on their own."

Pat Forde of "Cousins is like Downey, only in reverse. Both do things that defy their size. Downey’s ability to drive and score against players more than a foot taller is amazing. Cousins’ ability to spin, float and score at 6-foot-11, 260 pounds is similarly amazing."

Gary Parrish of "As you probably heard, President Obama called the Kentucky basketball team Tuesday to thank them for organizing a telethon that raised more than $1 million for Haiti. He referred to John Wall as "all-star" and told the team that "the way [they] were going" indicated they might end up at the White House accepting congratulations for winning a national title. President Obama then asked who Kentucky played next. John Calipari told him South Carolina, at South Carolina. "I think you should be alright," President Obama said. "But there is that tendency once you get to be No. 1 to start letting down a little bit. So you guys stay focused." Roughly nine hours later, Darnell Dodson missed an open layup in a one-possession game with a little more than five minutes to play. No focus. It seemed to foreshadow the conclusion, which was Kentucky's first loss -- a loss to a team that entered with an 11-8 record, a loss to a team that lost its second-best player (Dominique Archie) to a knee injury five games into the season."

C. Aluka Berry of "If he had not done so already, Downey forever stamped his name in USC's basketball annals. He may some day see his jersey No. 2 hanging in the rafters, and he may go down as the most explosive package of All-American playmaker the school has ever seen. Even if none of that happens, though, he forever will be remembered for scheming, directing and orchestrating USC's first victory in its 102-year history against a top-ranked team."

John Clay of " It can be a whole different view from the mountaintop. When you're No. 1, and you're getting pats on the back and calls from the president, the air can get a little thinner up there. Legs grow a little shaky. Head gets a little fuzzy. You can lose your focus. Example: Not quite three minutes into the second half Tuesday night of top-ranked Kentucky's 68-62 loss to South Carolina, Patrick Patterson didn't get to a 50-50 ball, and Cats Coach John Calipari pogoed off the bench and yelled for Perry Stevenson to get in the game. Stevenson stared straight ahead. Calipari screamed, "Now!!!!!!" Stevenson fumbled with the zipper of his warm-up on his way to the scorer's table. Exasperated, Calipari yelled for Daniel Orton to replace Stevenson, who had not even yet replaced Patterson. It was that kind of night."

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The key to winning at DePaul? Keeping Chicagoans in Chicago

Jerry Wainwright was fired by DePaul two weeks ago after four and a half disappointing seasons, with Tracy Webster taking over as the interim head coach.

Wainwright had a lot of success at UNC-Wilmington and Richmond, reaching the NCAA Tournament in three out of five seasons. But he never found that success at DePaul. While some questioned whether or not anyone can win at DePaul, the biggest issue for Wainwright, an Illinois native, was his inability tap into the talent available coming out of Chicago.

And yes, there is quite a bit of talent coming out of Chicago: Derrick Rose, Evan Turner, E'Twaun Moore, Demetri McCamey, Michael Dunigan, Iman Shumpert, DJ Richardson, and Brandon Paul are just some of the names Wainwright missed out on.

It isn't hard to figure out that DePaul, if they want to compete in the Big East, is going to need to keep some of those Chicagoans at home.

How do they do that?

Jeff Goodman has a suggestion: hire Southern Illinois's Chris Lowery.

Not only is Lowery a proven coach – he led the Salukis to the NCAA tournament each of his first three seasons – but he is tied in as well as anyone to the top two summer programs in the area.

1. Lowery's associate head coach is Lance Irvin, who is the son of Mac Irvin of the Mac Irvin Fire – which churns out more talent than any other program in the state. My guess is he'd get a few players out of a program that constantly has high-major players.

2. Lowery coached Bryan Mullins for four years at Southern Illinois. Mullins is the son of Mike Mullins, who runs the Illinois Wolves program – the same one that has produced guys like Evan Turner, John Shurna and Bobby Frasor.
And let's not forget that the last two hires from Southern Illinois were Matt Painter and Bruce Weber, who are two of the best coaches in the country.

In theory, that would be a great hire for the Blue Demons.

But there is a catch.

Some of the talent currently in the Chicago high schools ranks is already committed to a school. As Rick Bozich points out, this means that there are a couple fan bases that may want to keep a very close eye on what happens with the DePaul opening.

Who are they?
  • Louisville: The Cardinals got a verbal commitment from Wayne Blackshear, a 6'5" junior two-guard from Chicago's Morgan Park High School that Rivals has listed as a top 20 recruit in the class of 2011, on Christmas Day. But Blackshear plays for the Mac Irvin Fire, and his high school coach is Nick Irvin, Lance's brother and Mac's son.

  • Illinois: Bruce Weber has something of a pipeline coming from Chicago, as he well should. Coming in the class of 2010, which is a consensus top 10 recruiting class, is Jereme Richmond, a 6'8" small forward rated as a top 20 national recruit out of Waukegan, IL; Crandall Head (Luther's little brother), a 6'4" off-guard form just out side of Chicago rated as a consensus top 75 players; and Meyers Leonard, a legit seven-footer out of Robinson, IL, who has drawn comparisons to Jon Leuer. All three players play for the Mac Irvin Fire.

    But that's not it. Weber has also landed a commitment from Nnanna Edwu, a 6'10" junior rated in the top 50 in the class of 2011, who happens to play for the Illinois Wolves.
Now, there is no guarantee that any, or even one, of those players will renege on their commitment. I mean, Crandall Head is the younger brother of Luther Head, who starred for the Illini when they reached the title game of the 2005 NCAA Tournament before heading to the league. I doubt that anyone would be able to convince Crandall to go anywhere else.

That said, there are still a number of high major prospects in the class of 2011, the first class that Lowery would be able to really recruit for at DePaul, that are uncommitted, and more than a few are associated with the aformentioned AAU teams: Chasson Randle, Jacob Williams, and Bobo Drummond with the Illinois Wolves; Dre Henley, Sam Thompson, and Mike Shaw with the Mac Irvin Fire.

And that's just scratching the surface of the wealth of players in Chicago.

The talent is there in Chicago. The challenge for Lowery, or any other coach that gets the DePaul job, is keeping it there.
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