Monday, April 20, 2009

Games of the year: Cleveland State at Syracuse (Monday)

ESPN Classic has started a new series where they are showing some of the best games of the 2008-2009 season at the 9pm eastern (6pm pacific) time slot on Monday nights. Last week they showed Davidson at Oklahoma in the pre-season NIT semi-finals. This Monday they will be showing Cleveland State's dramatic game at the Carrier Dome against Syracuse. So be sure to set your timers, alarms, calendars, VCRs and DVRs since this game was not (as far as I recall) broadcast on ESPN or ESPN2 when it originally aired.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Early Top 25 for 2009-2010 by Andy Katz

It's amazing how time flies. It's already time for 2009-2010 pre-season Top 25s! With just 11 days before the deadline for NBA Draft entries, Andy Katz takes a stab at an early 2009-2010 Top 25, and the team at #1 may (or may not) surprise you.

You will also find (as it is usually the case), the two National Championship teams high in the rankings, but Andy has a couple of surprises up his sleeve further down the list.

Probably another list would be due on April 27, at least when we know who is NOT entering the NBA draft, and of course when the dust settles recruiting-wise for the next season, after all the dominos fall, both coaching-wise and commitment-wise.

Isiah Thomas press conference tomorrow on ESPN-News

ESPN News will be carrying live the Florida International press conference tomorrow (Wednesday April 15, tax day) that introduces the former Indiana and Pistons great as their next men's college basketball coach.

After a failed career as an NBA head coach and executive, Isiah wants to get a fresh start at a program where there is potential, but there is no pressure, bright lights or expectations. In other words, just like Mike Jarvis and Rollie, he is going where coaches go to relax, or retire or escape the "microscope".

Monday, April 13, 2009

Tape-delayed tidbits from the Final Four

These are some things that we forgot to mention during the Final Four :-)

Tom Izzo
Izzo's game plan to tire out the Tar Heels back-fired because of the way the TarHeels jumped to a 20-point lead. From there on, the slugfest was actually in favor of UNC, and that took the legs off the Michigan State players who needed them a lot more than the TarHeels because they had to score 20 points more than UNC in the second half.

And yes, Izzo should have called at least two time-outs earlier on in the first half to stem the tide. Even a high-school coach knows that! Ben Howland and Pete Gillan would have used up all of their timeouts before the first TV timeout :)

North Carolina
It is really amazing, that after soooo many years of college hoops only thirteen coaches have won multiple national championships. Only 13! And one of them is "dum' ol'roy". This is amazing, just thirteen! Of course Wooden ate up a whole decade on his own :)

Soft this, soft that, but this UNC wine-and-cheese team managed to do something historic: Win the most crowded road game in the history of college hoops, facing a hostile crowd of over 60,000. I do not believe anyone played in front of a bigger hostile-road crowd?

So while they were "wine and cheese" during the regular season, they got an injection of toughness from the Felton/McCants/May team of 2005 and may have actually played a little bit better on average. With the exception of the Lawson-toe-v*g*na-LSU game issues, when Lawson was warmed up and ready to go, it was Tar Heels all the way!

What did Draymond Green say?
In one of the interviews Izzo mentioned that Green said something to the team, that was so good and mature and profound that it surprised him. We forgot to google it, and by now it may be too late.

What was it?

Star vs Role player
I'm glad Bob "Guitar Hero" Knight brought this up a couple of times. It is extremely frustrating to see analyst after analyst use the stupid and divisive categorization of players into "stars" and "role players". This is just stupid.

Pigeon-holing players like that is for small minds and idiots who can't seem to understand anything that is not binary.

It's one thing to get this gibberish from play-by-play guys and TV anchors who are usually clueless anyway, but TV analysts, most of whom are former coaches and players, should know better!

So, Bob, please, the next time someone says something stupid like that, please stop them and yell at them live on TV!

Tell them, Bob! Tell them!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Wooden recites poetry in Gatorade commercial

You have to hand it to John Wooden. Almost 100 years old and he is reciting poetry in the latest Gatorade "G" TV commercial. It is amazing that a man close to 100 years ago has the mental clarity that most people never had even in their prime.

If you want to live long, read every single book and word he wrote and follow it! Because it worked!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Best of 2008-2009 on ESPN Classic every Monday

ESPN Classic is launching a nice new series, they will be showing some of the best games of the 2008-2009 college basketball season every Monday at 9pm eastern (6pm pacific). Each game will be edited accordingly to fit into a 2-hour slot. Some of the games planned include the Cleveland State at Syracuse (April 20), and things like that. Check local listings or for more details.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

It's always funny to watch clueless reporters debate college hoops

It's really fun to watch clueless reporters and sports generalists debate "college hoops" topics on TV and radio. People with barely basic knowledge of college hoops making big statements, and usually being off-center by a lot.

I'm talking about shows like Around the Horn, Cold Pizza, Sportscenter anchors, and people like that.

The first coaches show of the 2009-2010 season

Yes, basketball fans, it didn't take John Calipari long to fire the first shot in the 2009-2010 season. The first coaches show has aired and you can watch it on Fox College Sports nationally. It is an introductory episode, "Meet Coach Cal", with Rob Bromley of the Big Blue Sports Network.

I was shocked that Calipari did not appear in every segment of the show, and his answers were relatively short (perhaps edited for time?).

He did address some further issues, like what type of practices he is going to run, getting a house near campus to build a "family atmosphere" with the team, and things like that.

With Josh Pastner (the child-prodigy-player-coach) gone, it will be interesting to see how the dynamics may change for the Memphis "in-play recruits", and also Calipari's own recruiting strategy. Although, we should point out Pastner was only at Memphis for one year, a Lute Olson era refugee from Arizona.

A historic run?

The noon eastern Sportscenter had a very revealing statistic as to where this year's North Carolina team ranks among other March Madness greats. They calculated the point differential in the six games of the tourney, and the top three teams are:

1. Kentucky of 1996, the Pitino Camelot team, the team that "ruined" the Kentucky job for all other coaches, +129
2. North Carolina of 2009, +121
3. UNLV of 1990, Tark the Shark, +112


Collectors:: North Carolina championship basketball

eBay power-seller Champions-on-Display has just started offering a collector's edition of the 2009 North Carolina TarHeels championship basketball, brand new in a retail display box. This is a great gift or collector's item or something to showcase in your home, office, dorm room, car, or anywhere else you have enough space to put a basketball in a box :)

The price is $30 and this includes free standard UPS Ground shipping and handling. The ball is made by Rawlings. You can order as many as you like at this price.

north carolina championship ball


Take that Coach K! Since "dumb Ol'Roy" returned to UNC, he has had TWO national championships, one Final Four and one Elite 8, and if the ball went their way, they could have easily have had FOUR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS.

So it is now CLEAR that Roy Williams and North Carolina are the UNDISPUTED #1 program in college basketball right now. Bar NONE! No one is even remotely close. Their record the last three years was 101-14. That is an amazing record. Some of the greatest NBA teams in history have had more losses than that!

"The Gary" beat them both!

Take that Gary Williams haters! "The Gary" managed to beat both teams playing for the national championship this year. Now if only "The Gary" could figure out how to beat Morgan State and Virginia ;-) Actually, if you look Maryland's losses, they do have some "quality" losses.

Viva the Gary! Here's to two victories over Duke every year :-)

MLB Extra Innings free preview at Comcast

Comcast is offering a free preview of the MLB Extra Innings package from April 6 to April 12. The preview is totally free, but you need to have a cable box that is capable of receiving those channels. These depends on how the cable system is setup in your area. In many areas, these channels are available on digital cable only, so you would need a digital cable box in order to watch the free preview on TV.

We have not checked other cable providers, although usually the free previews are initiated by the sports package across the board, instead of the cable provider.

This free preview is no coincidence, it marks the start of the baseball season and tries to get fans hooked back into baseball, and once they get a full week of games from around the country, they hope that fans are going to want even more and subscribe for the annual package deal.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Sean Miller joins Herb Sendek in the Pac-10

Arizona has been a magnet for coaches who change their minds in the last few years. But this time, it looks like (at least for now) they have a new head coach (again). Sean Miller slept-over it and finally decided to join his former boss, Herb Sendek, in the Pac-10. Not only that, but he is going to become Herb's bitter rival, at Arizona.

It will certainly test their relationship, but both seem to be even-keeled type of guys, so I highly doubt they are going to really turn into Ratzilla vs Roy Williams.

All things considered, this is a great hire for the Arizona program. Three years ago, this would not have been a great hire, because Arizona was at the top. But after three years of confusion and uncertainty, Arizona lost its top-tier program. It almost became "yet another Pac-10 team".

However, Sean Miller is a good hire in that he will slowly but steadily build this program, he is going to load up with a 10-man rotation, and probably run and gun a little bit more than his Xavier team.

NCAA final prediction: Michigan State wins

It is rare that we have a win-win NCAA tournament final, but this is one of them. If Michigan State wins, then it is a story-book ending for the team and the city of Detroit. If North Carolina wins, it is a story-book ending for the four UNC players who came back for another year and tried to atone for their epic meltdown against Kansas.

It is no secret that we are not big fans of the way Big Eleven teams play and ruin the game of basketball by turning it into an ugly football-like fullback-style slugfest. Sure, Izzo tried hard to spin it during the Final Four, but let's face it, they play UGLY and they uglify the game.

Izzo tried to atone by running against UConn, but he didn't run for the sake of running, he ran because it was their best chance to win the game. And certainly Izzo deserves a lot of credit for his mastermind game planning, but as a high-profile coach at a big university, he is also responsible as a "Guardian of the Game" to play the game the right way. Not to uglify and slugfest it like a desperate Missouri Valley Conference coach whose only chance to win is a 39-33 game.

The Prediction
So why are we predicting that Michigan State wins? Because they have 11 players to run and wear down North Carolina. Yes, wear down North Carolina. UNC only has a nine-man rotation, but their perimeter, as we have seen against Nova were worn down by the crazy Nova guards. With Ginyard and Graves gone, there is a lot of pressure on Lawson, Ellington and Green to deliver. Izzo is likely to try to take away their legs by running at them and on them.

UNC however has some options up-front, and if they win, perhaps this may be the game where Tyler Zeller makes his presence felt. He was clearly like a fish out of water against Nova, but against the bigger Michigan State bigs, he may have a better chance of being more productive. Heck, we may even see some Mike Copeland checking his Spartan-equivalent chubby, Draymond Green ;-)

At the same time however, let us not forget ...

Everyone focuses on the blow out at Ford Field in December 2008 at the ACC-BigTen challenge, but that's not all.

Ole Roy has also beaten Michigan State in the NCAA tournament in 2007 and 2005. Yes, every two years. What year is this? 2009!

But the same thing did not work for UConn: 1999, check! 2004, check! 2009, no championship!

We prefer North Carolina to win the game, partly to "reward" the players who returned to college (which was the right decision in this case), and partly because Carolina plays the game the way it should be played (unlike Izzo State and most Big10 teams).

And while the return may have not boosted the NBA Draft stock for Tyler Hansbrough, this season has been very beneficial for Ty Lawson and Wayne Ellington. Lawson has shown his outside shot and game-changer capabilities, and Wayne Ellington went from a wine-and-cheese shooter to an all-around two-guard with shooting but also rebounding and defense. It's like he grew ...onions in the summer ;-)

Myles Brand indirectly takes shot at Vitale's Hooters

During his interview with Seth Davis of "CBS Illustrated", NCAA president Myles Brand took an indirect shot at Dick Vitale's "Hooters" promotion, when talking about the limits of commercialism in collegiate sports. He mentioned "certain restaurants", and it's no secret that he was talking about "Hooters". Why "Hooters"? Because the way they objectify women is not exactly something that the NCAA and the college presidents want to be associated with since they are institutions of higher education, not neanderthal tribal meetings ;-)

Sunday, April 05, 2009

"It didn't bother me a bit"

The "Salute" to the Final Four, an event that took place at the Fox theater in Detroit is an event worth watching (online, or reruns on CSTV). It is a basketball-festive type of an event, and Jim Nantz seems to do a pretty good job hosting it (which is a bit of a surprise). Maybe he pretends its golf ;-)

During that event, there was a gem of a moment. When interviewing Jay Wright, Jim Nantz mentioned how Villanova beat up UCLA and Duke by more than 20. At which point, Roy Williams said "it didn't bother me a bit", and then everyone LOL'ed because they realized this was a Duke-vs-North Carolina rivalry comment.

And it has indeed turned out great for UNC vs Duke. You may recall a few years ago, at the end of a Final Four game, Coach Ratzilla told "Dumb Ole Roy", "if you come to UNC, I'm gonna beat your ass". Well, well, well, Coach Ratzilla, it looks like you only got half of what you wanted! Because since Roy came to Carolina he has gone to three Final Fours, won one national title, may win another on Monday, and had an Elite 8 which should have been a Final Four if they didn't have the typical Carolina "losing interest" meltdown.

And recruiting-wise, UNC can get just about any player they want, while Coach K-zilla is loading up his roster with players that would make Adolph Rupp proud but can't get you to a Final Four ;-)

They needed Jerome Dyson after all

Izzo earned a lot more "Hall of Fame" bonus points tonight, after developing a completely different game plan on how to dismantle UConn. He ran against them and slugfested against Louisville. He managed to beat two Hall of Fame coaches and two #1 seeds back to back. These two wins earned him more respect among people who think the Big10 is a slugfest league (me included) :)

UConn badly needed Jerome Dyson in this game. Not having enough perimeter players who can score threes will eventually catch up with you when you play against a game-plan mastermind like Tom Izzo.

And Izzo's team versatility, which was praised heavily in the pre-season, but due to injuries and other issues was not heavily showcased in the regular season has finally come through. They are quite possibly the deepest team in America.

And this was a great outcome, we wanted the Spartans to get to the Final to give Detroit a nice psychological boost. We also wanted the winner of Nova/UNC to win it all because of Izzo's slugfest. But if Izzo is willing to play fast and not slugfest it out, then we'll be happy if he wins playing basketball the way it should be played. Basketball, not football-basketball :)

Friday, April 03, 2009

Ray Allen reveals Calhoun scandal

This is not an April Fool's day joke! During an interview yesterday with Mike and Mike on ESPN2/ESPN-Radio, Ray Allen, the former UConn great, revealed that during his college career, when visiting Kentucky, Calhoun took his team to a farm and showed them two horses mating. This is not a joke! Look it up in the ESPN archives!

Ray Allen said Calhoun did this to show them what a "real stud" is. Calhoun showing his team live horse p*rn? Oh my! That is SHOCKING ;-)

Final Four edition of OTL today

Don't miss today's Outside the Lines (3pm eastern), they will have an NCAA tourney doulbe-feature, evaluating the chances of UConn for winning both the men's and the women's national championship, and then taking a look at the wine-and-cheese program of UNC (North Carolina).

Check a preview and more at the OTL page at

Thursday, April 02, 2009

(NOT!) Arizona gets a reality check, hires Tim Floyd

Updated on Friday March 3rd 2009: Well it turned out to be NOT so. Tim Floyd rejected the Arizona job he was offered and he is staying at USC. Did he simply "play" Arizona for a bump in his USC salaries and standing? If so, he will get "showered" with all sorts of pleasantries next year when USC visits McKale.

So much for preserving the run and gun legacy of Lute Olson. Apparently the brass at Arizona was delusional in thinking that they could just bring in just about any coach they wanted. They seem to have forgotten that Arizona basketball IS Lute Olson, and without Lute, it's just another college in the Pac-10 and nothing more.

And certainly, the last three years of drama and revolving head coaching door did not help at all.

So, instead, they were forced to face reality, and pick someone, anyone they could get to sign. I'm glad they didn't pick the ugly Dookie.

Tim Floyd has his advantages, he is already familiar with the Pac-10, he has NBA and NCAA experience, he has ties to the South, which can help with Arizona recruiting.

From Floyd's perspective, this has its advantages too. He goes from being an afterthought in a city of thousands of stars, to a place where he is the only game in town. Much like his Iowa State job. And oh yes, Lute Olson was the head coach at Iowa before he arrived at Arizona. Coincidence? :)

Highest paid college basketball coaches

ESPN News featured a Wall Street Journal list of the top-paid college basketball coaches as of right now. Their salaries are annualized based on the length of their contract:

1. John Calipari at Kentucky, $3.96m per year (8 years, $31.6)
2. Billy Donovan at Florida , $3.3m per year
3. Bill Self at Kansas, $3m per year
4. Thad Matta at Ohio State, $2.5m per year
5. Tom Crean at Indiana, $2.36m per year
6. Rick Pitino at Louisville, $2.25m per year

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Calipari filibusters press conference, ESPN News

Words coming out of Billy Gillespie's mouth were just like his offense. Slow, awkward and choppy. But today, Kentucky fans got their anti-Gillepsie and their anti-Pitino, all in one person, the new Blue Messiah, John Calipari, and they couldn't get him to stop talking and talking and talking.

This was a classic Calipari performance, the guy is a natural with crowds and people, BS or no BS. He managed to praise dozens of past Kentucky greats, commit his 12-year old son to the program, parade his family to appease the "family values" crowd, mention the medical program and his daughter at graduate school to appease the academia, signed the frakking contract to appease everyone with a common sense, and he even had time to go back to Memphis and give "farewell interviews", complete with an emotional bolting out of the interview and then returning for more.

Before the 2008 Election, there was a saying, "don't get between a camera and Joe Biden". The same can be said for Calipari. He will NOT stop talking. And that's cool :-)

We still haven't finished our opinion blog post on how the Calipari-at-Kentucky move will change the world of college hoops. Coming later this week/month/year :-)

Yikes! Ugly Dookie leading candidate for Arizona

As we said, Mark Few would not leave Gonzaga for Arizona, especially after the last three years derailed the program into yet another Pac-10 college, and Pitino would obviously not leave a great recruiting class and a shiny new arena, unless he wanted to "retire" in the dessert.

However, we do not like Jeff Capel as a coach in the Pac-10. Enough already with the Dookies. Already Dawkins is at Stanford. One is too many already. Arizona should honor their run and gun tradition and go for someone like Mike Anderson or maybe bring in Nolan Richardson for instant impact. Although Richardson may be a better match for Memphis, he would bring them a continuity in big coaching names there.

Calipari and big contracts on OTL

We still need to find some time to write about the Kentucky hire of Calipari, but for now, be sure to check Outside the Lines, today's edition will have a segment talking about big contracts. This segment of course inspired by the Calipari hire.

And don't forget the McDonald's All-American all-star game tonight on ESPN and ESPN-HD (8pm eastern, 5pm pacific).

Shocker! Tyler Hansbrough gains a fifth year of eligibility

North Carolina managed to shock the world of college hoops today by taking advantage of a very obscure and archaic rule that allows a four-year player to gain a fifth-year of eligibility. This is a controversial rule, similar to the Senate using an archaic procedural mechanism to bypass a filibuster.

The lawyers at UNC quickly moved in and filed all the necessary paperwork, giving the NCAA no option but to declare Tyler Hansbrough eligible for a fifth year!

This is official and legal and Tyler Hansbrough will be eligible to play UNC Hoops in 2009-2010 at UNC! Oh my!

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