Over the next couple of weeks conferences around the country will be having their annual basketball media days, over-hyped events where coaches prattle on in coachspeak, players try not to say anything too controversial, and the assembled media spends most of its time angling for the free doughnuts, coffee and sandwiches. On the eve of the Big East’s event at Madison Square Garden in NYC, the Syracuse Post-Standardhas released its annual survey of 16 writers from each of the conference’s 16 markets, resulting in the closest race for the preseason top spot in the poll’s 20-year history. Your winner: Syracuse, by a single point. Even though defending national champion Connecticut received 8 first-place votes (vs. 6 for SU), the Orange showed up on more second and third-place ballots to slightly edge out the Huskies at this point. The writers picked Pittsburgh guard Ashton Gibbs as its conference POY (7 votes), with UConn’s Jeremy Lamb second (4 votes), and his teammate Andre Drummond (12 votes) the overwhelming choice for conference ROY.
While we’re on the subject of Jim Calhoun’s team, freshman forward Michael Bradley — the player who gave up his scholarship so that Drummond could join the team — proved that karma bears no conscience when he received news that his right ankle was broken and will require surgery. The former foster child who mentioned sacrifice for the team in recent weeks as the reason for choosing to walk on this year is looking at a best case scenario where he can return to the team in December. Missing the first two months of the season is no way to get his legs and timing back, though — you’d have to figure that it will take him until January or February to completely recover from this unfortunate break.
We promise that this M5 isn’t only going to only be about the Big East Conference, but an interesting piece by Gary Parrish on the status of Louisville basketball going into this season brings up several good questions. Even when Rick Pitino’s Cardinals played team basketball all the way to a surprising third place finish in the conference last season, there was a faint sense among some that Louisville was an overrated team getting it done primarily with smoke and mirrors. That illusion was shattered in the NCAA Tournament’s Second Round when Morehead State parlayed an injury to Preston Knowles into an upset victory, but few actually had the Cards doing much damage last year despite its #4 seed. Parrish appears to buy into the concept of a team without stars (he ranks the Cards #8 nationally), but unless Peyton Siva has plans to turn into a 2012 version of Shelvin Mack, we’re going to remain unconvinced about the long-term viability of this squad.
California head coach Mike Montgomerywill have a minor surgical procedure today that will force him to take a short leave of absence away from his team. Given that we’re in the first few days of the very first week of practice, it’s safe to presume that this medical problem came on rather quickly for the 64-year old Bears coach. We trust the Cal athletic department when they inform us that the procedure is minor, but no surgery is completely risk-free, so we’re crossing our fingers for a totally successful intervention for Montgomery today and his subsequent recovery.
No matter your political persuasion and accompanying feelings about the ‘Occupy Wall Street’ protests going on around the country, one enterprising Kansas fan and his son decided to have some fun with a camera at one of the recent events in Denver, Colorado. Mr. Greenhaw (the dad), perhaps ironically a banker himself, started ranting and raving about KU basketball to the delight of his son’s camera, even finding the wherewithal to get a shot in at “Missourah” while he was parading around with his KU #1 sign (although don’t get us started on his claim of “5 natl. championships.” Grrrrrrr…) in tow. Check out the video below, which is rather hilarious:
The MAAC conference tournament gave us another buzzer-beater last night. Saint Peter’s guard Desi Washington rushed down the court and nailed a trey to eliminate Fairfield 65-62 on Washington’s THIRD game-winning buzzer-beater against the Stags this season.
Clown, thy name is UCSB fan. Although players and coaches alike are expected to behave professionally, fans also have a responsibility to contain themselves. Incidents like last night’s approach by a rabid UCSB fan are dangerous for everyone involved.