ATB: Ow, My Eyes!Posted by jstevrtc on January 14th, 2011
The Lede. Thursday night was angry because it had to follow Wednesday night’s ridiculous bounty of hoops and the Florida State upset of Duke. Still, there were some compelling storylines to follow on tonight’s slate, including a streak on the line at Minnesota, some serious glare coming off the Jackson Pollock painting that is Oregon’s new floor, and whether or not Seth Greenberg and Virginia Tech would have enough players to finish their game at North Carolina.
Your Watercooler Moment. For those in the East who stayed up long enough to see it, here’s a look at what people saw on the broadcast of the debut of Oregon’s Matthew Knight Arena:
The glare you see is not a product of taking a picture of a television with a camera. In reality, it looked even worse than this. The central part (the “non-tree” portion) of the floor is comprised of very light-colored wood, and as you can see, the light from the long strip of lights along the ceiling bounces right off of that wood, through the camera, and onto your screaming retinas. In high-def it was atrocious, and if the game was shown on HDTVs in sports bars around the country, it could aptly be described as a civic danger. During the game, everybody from Sports Illustrated writers to ESPN personalities were commenting on it through Twitter; one friend even said he had to wear sunglasses while watching the game. The hot shots who came up with the design for this court should be able to figure out some lighting scheme that will provide sufficient illumination for basketball while also letting home viewers enjoy the floor in all its, er…glory. Let’s hope so.
Tonight’s Quick Hits…
Time to Hoff On the Bandwagon. Can we now get a little love for Minnesota’s Blake Hoffarber? Purdue had won ten straight coming into Williams Arena on Thursday and, even without Robbie Hummel, had started conference play with four wins and a 15-1 record while playing a schedule whose strength ranks in the top 50. Hoffarber (26 pts on 10-15) is excellent at moving without the ball to open spots on the floor where teammates easily find him. The experience and cool demeanor of the senior showed late in the game and helped deny Purdue a precious road win. Mind you, it would be a mistake to write off the Boilermakers this early.
Suspensions? What Suspensions? The hoops version of the Egg Bowl saw Mississippi State steal a win in Oxford. Renardo Sidney (24/5 on 9-12 shooting and 2-2 from three?!?) and Dee Bost (25/6/8) showed tonight that they were worth the wait. Like it or not, Sidney is here to stay — presumably, at least, for the rest of this season — and he’s shown he can use his 277-pound girth in a similar fashion as DeMarcus Cousins threw his size around for Kentucky last year. In the soporific SEC West, the Bulldogs are just as good a candidate as anyone to emerge on top (except Auburn).
Don’t Sleep On Portland. They’re now 13-4 with losses coming to Kentucky, at Washington State, at Gonzaga, and at Washington. We know it’s still a tad early to start throwing around these kinds of numbers, but they’re sporting a strength of schedule of 35 and RPI of 43. They shoot well from the floor (48%, 30th nationally) and when Jared Stohl gets hot from three, he can keep you in any game. Luke Sikma averages a double-double. And we haven’t even mentioned leading scorer Nemanja Mitrovic. Tonight they had a little more trouble with Loyola Marymount than we thought they would (a 79-78 2OT win), and St. Mary’s and Gonzaga won’t be caught easily in the WCC. But hey, we’re not saying you can pencil in the Pilots for Houston in April — just that, should they sneak into The Dance, you don’t want to brazenly skip over them in the first round.
Providence Criers. There was a lot of talk about Providence making some noise in the Big East this season. That’s happening, except the noise is a collective groan from Friar supporters. Tonight they let West Virginia jump on them hard and early and trailed WVU by 26 at the half, 46-20. They lost by 30. That’s what shooting 31.2% and distributing only five assists on 24 field goals will do for you. PU is now 0-5 in the Big East…and Rutgers was one of the losses.
ACCeptable, But Not The Same. Sure, Tyler Zeller (16/9) and John Henson (17/8) were fantastic for the Heels, and Harrison Barnes (12/5 on 5-11) hit three late threes to propel UNC past the Hokies, but these two teams combined for 35 turnovers, 39% from the field, and each side barely got over 60 points. Despite the close score, in no way did this have the crackle of an important conference game. These are supposedly two of the better teams in the ACC (a sentiment also pondered by several tweeters)? It served as further proof that this year we are gazing at that Halley’s Comet of NCAA Basketball — a “down” Atlantic Coast Conference. By the way, just so you’ll know…Larry Drew II: three points, three assists, a turnover, no steals. Kendall Marshall: nine points, nine assists, three steals, no turnovers.
Malcolm Not in the Middle. To Malcolm Delaney: you’re one heck of a baller. Love watching you. We know you were hot from three, and you blew up for 28/5 assists. But when your team’s down by one with seven seconds left and you’ve got a shot for a road win in the ACC, a step-back well-guarded three might not be the way to go. And you can’t then check the ol’ Twitter account and get mad when some followers say some things you don’t like. We see the point you’re making, but you’re the leader. We love the fact that you want to take the shot in that situation. You’d have taken the glory if you’d have drained it. It’s your team. Take the heat when you miss. Keep ballin’, young man.
Tweet of the Night. We had a lot of good options here, mostly revolving around the issue of Oregon’s floor. We even asked for some Raftery-isms that could be used for Ducks’ games on that court (we got a lot of tweets advocating for PINE CONES!), and we thank everyone for their help. There were many excellent responses. But earlier in the day, Memphis coach Josh Pastner indefinitely suspended Wesley Witherspoon for mocking an assistant coach. When asked about Witherspoon’s transgression, Gary Parrish — who knows a little something about Memphis basketball and the game at large — offered his take: