Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Sour grapes?

Pitino left KY, went to the NBA, sat out and then got a new job at Louisville. And in 2005 he got to the Final Four with an over-achieving team. Meanwhile Tubby Smith has been at KY since Pitino left. He won the Big One the year after Pitino left but hasn't made the Final Four since. How do KY fans feel about that?

15 years at Kansas and plenty of wins, talent and Final Fours but did not win the Big One there. Then on Year 2 at NC "Ole Roy" wins it all! How do Kansas fans feel about that?

They recruited almost all the players in the NCAA Final game but they were not there to coach them! How do Bill Self and Matt Doherty feel about that?

And now onto the 2005-06 season!

Both ESPN and CBS Sportsline are running stories on the next season (2005-06). I haven't checked other sites - there may be more. ESPN's story is quite detailed - they present a preseason Top 25!

ESPN's Top 25 for the 2005-06 Season
CBS Sportsline: 10 teams to watch in 05-06

Speculation: Lavin to Fresno State?

Just hours before the tip-off of the NCAA Championship Game Steve Lavin flew OUT of St Louis. He appered live on ESPN News just minutes before tip-off, from a Cable TV Trade Show in San Francisco (perhaps promoting ESPN-U as they desperately try to get more cable providers to pick it up).

Lavin mentioned during the interview that during the flight he sat next to Tark (Jerry Tarkanian, former Fresno State coach and I believe Fresno resident). SF is just 2-3 hours away from Fresno by car, a lot closer by air.

Why is this fishy?
* Sitting next to Tark during the flight
* Near Fresno
* Leaving St Louis the day of the Finals game tip-off where former associate Bruce Webber was in?


Ole Roy ain't that good?

The only team to win the NCAA championship four years after a losing season - and a bad one at that at 8-20 with Matt Doherty.

Illinois jacked up too many threes (most than any other team in a championship week). Ironically perhaps, the teams with the most 3PT FG attempts in the championship game, all LOST! But it was the first half that hurt Illinois: NC's defense took the Illini out of their rhythm/motion. They looked rushed. They had very few possessions running their crisp patented motion o(a)ffense. The Illini won the second half, and made a furious comeback (So now Arizona doesn't feel as bad) to tie the game after being 13 down at the half. They only needed 2 of the 26 3-pointers they missed to go in for a W. It was -THAT- close. But NC wore them down, May was unstoppable inside, and Felton made plays when it mattered. The zebras were unfair to Augustine essentially taking him out of the game with five "nickle-dimers".

Celebrations: May turned over the ball after the buzzer rushing to hug Coach. McCants went "soccer player" (removing shirt), perhaps in a symbolic move that this was his last game as a Tar Heel.

Feeling a Draft: ESPN News reported that McCants may be NBA-bound, Sean May returning (unless a top 10 pick). Marvin Williams may have played himself out of the Top 3 with his jittery play in the Final Four.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Memo to Everyone: Please stop using Binary Labels!

Please stop using "binary labels" on players. Analysts, writers and even fans sometimes like to divide players into "stars" and "role players". This is just silly. This is by no means a binary distinction. It may make things easier for the writer/analyst, but it's far from reality. Dick Vitale does this a lot but then again he is an average [at best, and I'm being nice here] analyst.

In fact someone [I think a coach] on TV [during March Madness] mentioned this and explained that a role player is someone who comes in and does one thing [eg a walk-on comes in and gives away 3 fouls or shoots a three]. This does not describe the majority of starters on most teams, because they can do more than one thing well! They are not role playes you silly analysts :-)

In reality it's more a continuum, with terms such as "program player" making more sense.

Move back the 3-Point Line!

I think it's about time the 3-Point Line gets moved back - at least to the international level. Too many marginal shooters are jacking up threes and too many good shooters are making them like lay-ups! Some people are even shooting 50%+ from the three (eg Salim Stoudamire). That's the equivalent of 75% from the field, or 150% from the free throw line :-)

Pushing back the three also gives coaches more leverage to pull back the reigns on marginal shooters shooting the three. It also opens up the lane, and makes the mid-range shot more fashionable and meaningful.

Field of 96? Wow!

A recent "Outside the Lines" on ESPN examined the possibility of NCAA Tournament expansion. They presented a field of 96 (!), where the top 32 seeds get a bye for the opening round, while the remaining 64 teams play in the opening round. This is a bold plan and would put a lot more teams in the field. Basically 2/3rds of the teams that qualify for the NIT would be in the Field of 96. About half of those "NIT teams in the field of 96" would probably play in the opening round against the mid/low majors. This could also allow the regular-season conference champions to earn an automatic bid.. This argument alone will get a lot of proponents from the mid/low-major schools. One potential disadvantage is it would make it harder to get a cinderella like Bucknell over Kansas or Vermont over Syracuse. Although in a field of 96, Vermont would have been seeded a lot higher.

Another suggestion by an ESPN VP (and former CBS Sports exec) was to expand the opening round to 4 games instead of 1.

Other brilliant ideas thrown in the past: Have the bubble teams play each other in the opening round.for a spot in the NCAA tournament. This would preserve all the mid/low majors in the field of 64, while the bubble teams would have to earn/lose their bid by playing other bubble teams. [put-up or shut-up for those whining that they have been left out]. These games could even be played at MSG appeasing the NIT whiners. The last time I heard this argument was from Digger Phelps during Championship week.

The Final 2 Show!

Partially thanks to the Selection's Committee quasi-screw-up in 2003 where they potentially matched-up the top 2 teams (Kentucky and Arizona) in the Semifinals instead of the Final, we now the #1 and #2 meeting in the Final! [Quasi-screw-up because both KY and UA lost in the Elite 8 to Dwayne Wade (now that Wade is an NBA superstar that loss does not look as bad), and to "Ole Roy" Kansas team.]

This is huge for college basketball. The top two teams that were running opponents out of the gym are now going head-to-head in the Final! It promises to be a great game. Either team can win. The game and match-up have been disected like a frog by the various online, offline [newspapers] and TV analysts. Illinois is the sentimental favorite as a story/team/team-of-destiny, "Ole Roy" is the sentimental favorite as a coach because he is 0/4 in Final Fours. My prediction: Illinois unless NC brings it for 40 minutes. (or 45 or 50 or 55) :-)

Exactly the opposite thing happened in the Women's Semifinals. The two SEC powerhouses (Tenneesse and LSU) lost to Baylor and Michigan State following [you guessed it] 15 point comebacks! This is great for Baylor following the DaveBliss-era tragedy/debacle.

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