AAC M5: 10.21.13 Edition

Posted by Mike Lemaire on October 21st, 2013

AAC_morning5_header

  1. Somewhat surprisingly, news that Louisville forward Chane Behanan is suspended indefinitely was met with a lot of shoulder-shrugs from analysts who have heard this song and dance from coach Rick Pitino before. It’s true that Pitino has developed an “all talk” reputation when it comes to suspending players, but as yesterday’s column from the Courier-Journal‘s Tim Sullivan points out, this suspension may be different. The column notes that Behanan hasn’t just been suspended from the basketball team, he has also been evicted from his residence hall, a move that’s so rare that school spokesman Kenny Klein couldn’t recall it happening before. The article also hints that the decision may not have been Pitino and Athletic Director Tom Jurich’s decision and makes the good point that “[coaches] wouldn’t normally kick a player out of the athletic dorm if your goal was to get him back in time for a specific game. You would do so to be consistent with how U of L handles similar cases.” So while it’s entirely possible that Behanan will still return some time around Christmas, assuming Pitino is going to bring him back the first chance he gets may be underestimating how serious the offense and subsequent suspension are.
  2. Although this year’s version of Memphis Madness didn’t have the same kind of star power that last year’s version did, the atmosphere helped the Tigers land two commitments over the weekend. Top-30 JuCo forwards Trahson Burrell and Chris Hawkins both pledged to the Tigers, and they will add valuable depth and experience to a team that will be young again next season. Burrell initially committed to Rhode Island all the way back in 2010 (not a typo), but after bouncing around several prep schools, the New York native ended up at Lee College in Texas where his athleticism caught the eye of the Memphis coaching staff. Hawkins is a more peculiar commitment because while the 6’5″, 250-pounder has talent and size, he doesn’t seem like a great fit for Memphis’ fast-paced style of play. Still, head coach Josh Pastner and his staff rarely hand out offers to guys who can’t help the team in a big way, so it will be interesting to watch Hawkins fit in once he gets to school.
  3. One of the main reasons folks are so bullish about Connecticut‘s return to the NCAA Tournament this season is because of the breakout year that Huskies’ forward DeAndre Daniels had last season. Daniels came to UConn as a five-star recruit, but he failed to live up to the hype during a trying freshman campaign in which he hardly saw the floor and seemed totally unsure of himself when he was there. As a sophomore, then-first-year coach Kevin Ollie needed to lean on him heavily due to a lack of depth and Daniels responded to the challenge by averaging 12.1 PPG and 5.5 RPG on the season (including 21.3 PPG, 9.0 RPG, and 3.3 BPG in the final four games of the season). Now everyone is well aware of just how much ability Daniels has but it is his consistency that needs improvement if the Huskies are going to be a threat in their new conference. Everyone knows about how talented the team’s backcourt is, but it is the mercurial Daniels who may be the team’s most important player. UConn is very thin and inexperienced in the frontcourt and although he hardly qualifies as a traditional big man despite his size and length, his rebounding and rim protection will be crucial components of the Huskies’ defense.
  4. Since we are on the topic of teams without much of a frontcourt, the only AAC team with realistic NCAA Tournament expectations and less frontcourt depth than UConn may be Cincinnati, which makes the development of center David Nyarsuk all the more important. Tragedy struck the Sudanese big man during the offseason when he was informed his father had passed away, but he is coping with the help and support of his teammates and coaching staff, while UC fans are hoping that Nyarsuk’s determination to honor his late father translates on the court. Nyarsuk  dealt with knee injuries and the acclimation to Division I basketball last season as he averaged 2.6 points and 2.5 rebounds in 11.3 minutes per game. But the Bearcats have lost nearly every legitimate post player from their roster and Nyarsuk will need to make a much larger impact in an increased role if Cincinnati is to have any hope of holding its own up front. The team has the leadership and ability to make a run at the NCAA Tournament, but it’s Nyarsuk’s development that will help determine how real that shot is.
  5. We have been saying it all offseason but let’s get it out there one more time — never doubt SMU coach Larry Brown. The elder statesman among AAC coaches still knows how to recruit and he also knows just how to leverage his connections to do it. Two weeks ago, David Robinson stopped by the Mustangs’ practice in Dallas, and on Friday, it was Allen Iverson‘s turn to show his face. You would have to be the most naive person in the world to think that Iverson’s visit at the same time that recruits William Lee,  D.J. Hogg and Chris Giles were visiting was a coincidence, and if you still needed convincing about his purpose for being on campus, the former NBA superstar also attended Prime Prep’s Midnight Madness, where SMU commitment Emmanuel Mudiay just so happens to go to school. No recruit is going to choose a school just because some famous former NBA players shows up at practice, but in a world where half the battle is generating buzz, few folks can create more of a buzz with a visit to practice (practice?) than “The Answer.”
Share this story

AAC M5: 10.17.13 Edition

Posted by Will Tucker on October 17th, 2013

AAC_morning5_header

  1. AAC media day came and went yesterday without any notable drama in the FedEx Forum, as coaches identified Louisville as the unanimous favorite to win the conference and Russ Smith as the preseason AAC player of the year. Praising his “little psycho all-American,” coach Rick Pitino called Smith “the closest thing at the collegiate level to Allen Iverson that I’ve seen,” adding, “I don’t think you’re ever out of a game because of his abilities.” Second-year SMU coach Larry Brown, who coached Iverson in the NBA, was hesitant to draw the analogy to A.I., whom he said was truly unique, but did praise Smith for returning for his senior year. “I think it’s pretty neat that he came back to school,” said Brown, “That’s not an easy decision. It speaks volumes for the kid and the relationship that he has and the respect he has for the program.”
  2. UConn coach Kevin Ollie seemed neither flattered nor complacent after his team improved from ninth place in last year’s preseason Big East rankings to second in yesterday’s AAC coaches’ poll. “That’s respect,” he acknowledged, “but it doesn’t mean anything because everybody starts the season zero and zero. I want to be first at the end of the American Conference tournament. It’s just a number right now.” Nonetheless, respect was flowing liberally in the Huskies’ direction yesterday, as guards Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright were first- and second-team all-AAC selections, respectively, and Rick Pitino and Larry Brown heaped praise on their former player Ollie. Napier, for his part, took issue with the absence of teammate DeAndre Daniels from either all-AAC list, remarking boldly that the junior forward “should have been preseason player of the year.”
  3. The Orlando Sentinel’s Paul Tenorio observes that whereas UCF senior Isaiah Sykes would have been the center of attention at the Conference USA media day, yesterday in Memphis he was overshadowed by the presence of Russ Smith, Shabazz Napier and the AAC’s other elite guards. Despite averaging 16 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 4.5 APG and 2.3 SPG for the Knights, while earning the distinction of being the only player to register multiple triple-doubles last season, the 6’6” guard remains a relative unknown in his new environment. Memphis coach Josh Pastner, who encountered Sykes twice in conference play last year, said, “I know how good he is. I don’t know if the other schools and the national media know how good he is, but I think they’ll see it this year.” Memphis guard Geron Johnson added, “We know he belongs… He’s going to be alright in this league.”
  4. Although Rutgers placed last in the preseason poll at AAC media day, several coaches insisted that the ranking spoke to the strength and depth of the conference rather than the limitations of Eddie Jordan’s team. Memphis coach Josh Pastner asserted that the AAC and ACC would be the nation’s best conferences this season, and said “there’s no question in my mind that six teams will come out of this league to play in the NCAA Tournament.” Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin speculated that this Rutgers squad would not have been picked last in the former Big East, and cautioned, “If Rutgers is picked 10th — with  Myles Mack and Wally Judge and Kadeem Jack and Jerome Seagears –– if they’re picked 10th, that tells me this league is going to be a problem.”
  5. On the heels of its list of the top-100 college basketball players, CBS Sports released the first part in a series of position rankings yesterday, in which six AAC guards were listed among the nation’s 30 best ball-handlers. Louisville’s Russ Smith (#2) and Chris Jones (#20), Memphis players Joe Jackson (#11) and Michael Dixon (#13), and UConn tandem Shabazz Napier (#7) and Ryan Boatright (#27) all made the cut. The fact that each pair is likely to log most of their minutes on the court together simply underscores how entertaining it will be to watch the top three backcourts compete in the AAC this year. It’s also interesting to note that a third of the league’s elite ball handlers are transfers, as Jones spent 2012-13 in junior college while Dixon went on hiatus after leaving Missouri last fall.
Share this story

Big East M5: 04.02.13 Edition

Posted by Will Tucker on April 2nd, 2013

bigeast_morning5(2)

  1. Georgetown fans received some measure of consolation after a disappointing Second Round upset when the AP named Otto Porter a first-team All-American yesterday. Tying Trey Burke for the most first-team votes received, Porter became the first Hoya to claim the honor since Allen Iverson did so in 1996, and was the sixth first-team All-American in program history. (Patrick Ewing earned the distinction in three difference seasons, so Porter’s appearance is actually the eighthin Georgetown history.) Joining the Big East’s Player of the Year with AP team honors was Louisville’s Russ Smith (third team), while teammates Gorgui Dieng, Peyton Siva, Syracuse’s Michael Carter-Williams and Notre Dame’s Jack Cooley captured honorable mentions.
  2. Shortly before going into surgery to repair the compound leg fracture he’d suffered against Duke on Sunday, Louisville guard Kevin Ware borrowed a nurse’s cell phone to contact his mother, knowing “she’d be freaking out.” Six hundred miles away in suburban Atlanta, Lisa Junior was just as much in the dark regarding her son’s status as anyone watching the CBS broadcast: “He didn’t even say hello. He just said, ‘Mom, I need you to calm down.’ He knew I’d be a mess. Once I heard his voice, I was better.” Ware was walking with the aid of crutches yesterday after surgeons successfully stabilized his broken tibia with a metal rod and closed the ghastly wound where it had broken skin. He will reportedly travel to Atlanta with the Cardinals this week and sit on the bench for the Final Four match-up with Wichita State.
  3. USF has inked a home-and-home deal with Detroit, to begin in Tampa in 2013-14. Detroit’s visit to the Sun Dome will feature three returning rising senior starters, including star Ray McCallum Jr. (18.8 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 4.5 APG this season). But the return trip to Detroit in 2014-15 will be a homecoming for native sons head coach Stan Heath and incoming guard Byron Ziegler, while freshman JaVontae Hawkins will be playing an hour down the road from his hometown of Flint. It will also probably be a rebuilding year for the Titans, giving Heath a golden opportunity to recruit the area and sell the idea of a non-conference series close to home to Detroit prospects.
  4. Tulsa is slated to announce in a late-morning press conference that it will join the New Old Zombie Big East in all sports. The impending additions of Tulsa and ECU reflect an emphasis on football stature in Mike Aresco’s new lineup, but Rob Dauster points out that Golden Hurricane basketball isn’t a complete disaster, and says “[coach Danny] Manning has the team going in the right direction, despite a depleted roster from transfers.” After winning 17 games in 2011-12, Manning held serve at around .500 in his first year as head coach, going 17-16 before losing to Wright State in the CBI.
  5. Just to salt the wounds from last weekend’s loss, Carmelo Anthony subjected Marquette fans to further indignity yesterday when he shamed Golden Eagles alum and fellow Knick Steve Novak on Instagram yesterday. Novak was apparently on the losing end of a bet on the Elite Eight game between their alma maters, and well, he made good on his wager in this shot:
steve novak carmelo

Carmelo’s Orange got the best of Steve’s Golden Eagles

Share this story

Appraising the 75th Anniversary NCAA Tournament Lists From a Big East Perspective

Posted by Will Tucker on January 17th, 2013

We’ve been meaning to devote the proper attention to the lists of top players, teams and moments in NCAA Tournament history released by the NCAA last month to commemorate 75 years of March Madness. Reader Sean Revell sent us a very compelling infographic of his creation (pictured below), which distills the unceremoniously dry, sterile data tables of the NCAA press release into an engaging visual timeline.

The NCAA's lists, in more visual terms, courtesy of Sean Revell

The NCAA’s lists, in more visual terms, courtesy of Sean Revell

The image serves as a good springboard for some analysis of the lists from a Big East perspective. The league’s current members acquitted themselves well in the list of individual performances, accounting for more players (14) in the Top 75 than any other league save the ACC, which placed 16 former stars on the list. But only three Big East teams were deemed worthy of the list of Top 25 tournament teams, placing the league in the middle of the pack below the Pac-12 and ACC, with six teams apiece. Obviously, it’s impossible to please everyone with a list like this, and revisionism and presentism are unavoidable in an era where March Madness is more culturally visible and digitally accessible than ever before. But it’s worth some attempt at measured scrutiny, so here are a few thoughts on which Big East players and teams should have made the cut:

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Big East M5: 01.03.13 Edition

Posted by Dan Lyons on January 3rd, 2013

bigeast_morning5(2)

  1. With Syracuse’s 78-53 takedown of Rutgers at the Carrier Dome last night, Jim Boeheim took sole ownership of second place on the Division I all-time wins list with 903 victories, passing Bob Knight. These first few months of the season have been eventful for Boeheim, whose ascent up this list has been the focus of tremendous media attention and occasional scrutiny this season. In weighing in on Boeheim’s ranking among the greatest coaches of all-time, Rob Dauster notes the affect that a single Keith Smart jumper has had on Boeheim’s perception. If that shot doesn’t fall, Boeheim is two wins ahead of Knight, has the same number of national titles (two) as the man who many consider the greatest game coach of all-time, and many writers have a lot less material come March.
  2. USF and UCF have played twice this season, splitting two contests that foreshadow what may develop into a nice rivalry for whatever the future of the Big East holds. Tampa Bay Online‘s Joey Johnston argues that the rivalry between the two schools could become a staple for the new look Big East, or whichever conference the two schools find themselves attached to in the future. Johnston believes that the natural rivalry and the high number of television sets in the I-4 corridor makes the two schools very attractive. Let the lobbying begin.
  3. Buzz Williams48-hour suspension from the Marquette basketball team has now ended, and the fiery coach will rejoin the team in preparation for Georgetown. Williams’ suspension stemmed from assistant coach Scott Monarch giving apparel and rides to a Golden Eagles recruit. Monarch, a close friend of Williams, was summarily fired. Williams was not found to have had any knowledge of the violations, but he took the school-sanctioned leave as the program is ultimately his responsibility. Marquette defeated UConn in overtime during Williams’ absence from the team.
  4. Pittsburgh‘s two losses to Michigan and Cincinnati had a very similar feel to them, and Pittsburgh Post-Gazette‘s Ray Fittipaldo outlines three major factors that hurt the Panthers in both games: a lack of rebounding in the second half, especially from the center position; struggles against talented, aggressive guards on the perimeter; and, opposing teams limiting the Panthers’ transition game.  If Pitt can’t solve these issues soon, the team will have major struggles in league play. Syracuse has a strong interior presence, Louisville has excellent high-energy guard play, and Georgetown will absolutely look to control the game’s tempo, just to name three teams who will look to take advantage of these weaknesses.
  5. Syracuse.com‘s Mike Waters was asked about his all-time Big East team in his weekly mailbag. This is a fun exercise that I’m sure will come up on many sites and blogs this year, especially around Big East Tournament time. Waters weighs in on a number of Big East greats before settling on a strong starting five consisting of Sherman Douglas, Ray Allen, Chris Mullin, Derrick Coleman, and Patrick Ewing.  When a conference could have a second team of Allen Iverson, Kerry Kittles, Carmelo Anthony, Donyell Marshall, and Alonzo Mourning, you know that they’ve been doing something right for a very long time.
Share this story

Georgetown Has Lost Its Street Cred, But Does it Matter?

Posted by Patrick Prendergast on February 17th, 2012

Once upon a time the Georgetown Hoyas struck fear in the hearts of any opposing player or fan who dared step into their path. With all due respect to Kid Rock, the Hoyas were the original American bad asses, exuding their bad-assness one rejection at a time.

For a generation, with centers and centerpieces like Patrick Ewing, Alonzo Mourning, Dikembe Mutombo, and Othella Harrington, Georgetown protected the rim with ferocious tenacity. The thing that resonated most about Georgetown then was that their thirst for physical domination appeared to be personal and satisfying. Whether at home or on the road, they took pleasure in the pain they delivered, playing the game with a collective scowl and a knowing smirk.

Polarizing.

People either loved Georgetown or hated them.

Then there was the group that repped the Hoyas because it was the cool thing to do. At the same time Georgetown basketball was a phenomenon. Beyond tangible. Even the word, “Hoya”, seemed to illicit some force of nature that had the power to overwhelm. They played with attitude and with a frenzied rage but seemed to be having fun at the same time. Michael Jordan probably pioneered the crossover appeal between sports and entertainment, but that was more due to his exploits and innovation on the court than his personality or background off of it. The Hoyas fused the relationship between college basketball and hip-hop culture. They had swagger. They had Allen Iverson.  Everyone else had uniforms and sweats, Georgetown had gear.

Players like Iverson had Game and Gave the Hoyas Cred

The fact that Georgetown could care less about image made it all work. They left that to the media, fans, and rap videos. Just kept bruising and winning. Yesterday’s Hoyas were molded in the image of their head coach, John Thompson. Stern and stoic, Thompson got more accomplished with a look than most could with an instruction manual. Like his players on the court, Thompson’s presence on the sideline was palpable. He knew he had the intimidation factor working. Like a savvy catcher handling a fireballer, Thompson did not discourage a hard one up-and-in every once and awhile. He had just enough control to be dangerous and Georgetown was Goliath to everyone else’s David. Except, in true form, the Hoyas wrote their own script and David got swatted out of the gym on most occasions.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Voices of the Big East: Volume V

Posted by Patrick Prendergast on January 20th, 2012

Voices of the Big East is an ongoing feature intended to capture the essence of the conference through the words of those involved and those impacted. This will come in the form of quotes, tweets, videos and anything else we feel like sticking in here. It’s perfect for you multitasking short attention-spanners. If you find something you think is a candidate for this feature send it to us and we might even give you credit!

Coaches Calling

The Big East holds a weekly conference call that typically includes a handful of coaches at different intervals.  The Big East has long been a coaches league and this year is no slouch, providing a great variety of personalities in addition to typical depth in coaching acumen.

“I don’t think we have an identity since we’ve had so many lineups. We just have to survive and win.”

 “We don’t have eight or nine Allen Iversons. We need the practice.”

-Louisville Coach Rick Pitino (Who conjured up a reference from Monday’s RTC Big East Morning Five which we shamelessly appreciate….man).

Had to do it…

“We have to rest and get back on the plane, but the plane’s been good to us lately.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Villanova’s Fisher Price Toys With Some Fools

Posted by rtmsf on August 10th, 2010

Villanova rising senior Corey Fisher put on a summer league shooting exhibition in the Bronx over the weekend that will result in a bright red bullseye on his back among Big East scouting reports this coming season.  The 6’1 guard from the Boogie Down must have eaten his Wheaties on Saturday, because reports from the Watson Gleason playground league are that Fisher blew up for a ridiculous 105 points on that warm summer evening.  Read that again.  One hundred and five points.  His team scored 138 total, and Fisher responded to double- and triple-teams in the second stanza by simply dropping a 72-point bomb on his summer league opponents.  A player who knocked down a grand total of 38 three-pointers last season nailed 23 (of 28) in this game, begging the question of whether RTC’s very own John Stevens got loose from the chains in his crypt and found himself standing opposite Fisher in NYC last weekend.  (ed. note: his primary defender was actually someone named Jose Calderon Not the NBA player, undoubtedly someone who can no longer show his face above 155th Street)

Corey Fisher Briefly in the Act of Not Scoring (Hoop Doctors)

When we first heard of this story, we immediately thought back to some of the other legendary summer playground tales that we’d heard over the years.  A 160-lb soaking wet Allen Iverson dunking over the entire front line at the ABCD camp back in 1993…  a 15- year old Skip 2 My Lou dancing his way through defenders at Harlem’s Rucker Park…  a random dude in jeans named Stuart Tanner clowning Devin Harris through the legs…  an unknown Indiana transfer named Jordan Crawford dunking over near LeBron and the subsequent cover-up…  hey, we love this stuff.

Someone else who is probably loving this story is VU’s head coach Jay Wright.  Needing someone to fill in for the enormous void that the graduation of team leader Scottie Reynolds presents, Fisher and backcourt mate Corey Stokes will be expected to pick up the slack on the perimeter.  Fisher has the chops to become a big-time scorer at the guard position (he averaged 13.3 PPG last year), and it’s clear that performances such as these — even in the relatively small-time of NYC streetball summer league — will only help his confidence when winter arrives.  Now, if we could just figure out where Calderon is playing next week… we might just call “next” if he’s still in.

(h/t VBTN)

Share this story

Time to Bet Heavily Against FIU

Posted by nvr1983 on April 14th, 2009

According to Jeff Goodman at Fox Sports, Isiah Thomas has accepted an offer from Florida International University to become their head coach. We briefly discussed the situation yesterday, but now that it’s all but official it is probably a good time to review Isiah’s prior experience. As a basketball player, there is no question that he was an all-time great. As a basketball executive/coach? Not so much.

isiahthomas

Here is a quick recap of his prior stints in a managerial role:

  • Toronto Raptors (1994-1998): Serving as the GM and part-owner, he started by taking B.J. Armstrong with the #1 pick in the 1995 expansion draft. While Armstrong isn’t what you would consider #1 pick material, when you look at the other luminaries that were available it was probably a pretty good pick (at the very least he could show the young guys all the three championship rings Michael Jordan won for him that he won). Unfortunately, Armstrong refused to report to the team and was promptly traded. Even though the team was 67-179, Isiah did exhibit some draft acumen by taking Damon Stoudamire (turning the #7 pick into the Rookie of the Year), Marcus Camby (the #2 pick who might have won Rookie of the Year that year if it wasn’t for some guy named Allen Iverson), and Tracy McGrady (with #9 pick out of high school just 2 years after Isiah’s hilarious plan for Kevin Garnett). Sadly, this was probably the high point of Isiah’s managerial career.
  • NBC (1998): Briefly worked with Bob Costas and Doug Collins. Not particularly memorable, but it worked out better than his last appearance on NBC (see below).

  • CBA (1999-2000): Purchased the league for $10 million on October 7, 1999 and turned down an offer from the NBA to purchase it for $11 million and a percentage of the profits, which according to some sources would have been a $2 million profit (or a 20% ROI) in March 2000. Isiah then promptly proceeded to show everyone what a shrewd businessman he was for turning down the 20% ROI in 5 months by running the league into bankruptcy. [Ed. Note: The fact that the CBA Museum has a page for Isiah Thomas is amazing. Isn’t that kind of like a Jewish charity museum starting an exhibit on Bernie Madoff?] Sadly, this was not the low point of Isiah’s managerial career.
  • Indiana Pacers (2000-2003): Took over a team that Larry Bird had coached to the Eastern Conference finals and decided to change directions with a youth movement by playing Jermaine O’Neal, Jamaal Tinsley, and Al Harrington more minutes. Even though he had a respectable 131-115 regular season record, his stint is largely considered a failure as his team’s lost in the first round in each of his 3 seasons as a coach. Heading into Isiah’s 4th year, Larry Bird came back as President of Basketball Operations. At his press conference, Bird assured the media that he would work with Isiah. He promptly fired Thomas and replaced him with Rick Carlisle. [Lesson: Don’t mess with the Basketball Jesus.]
  • New York Knicks (2003-2008): I don’t know what can be said that hasn’t already been said. I’ll just refer you to Jeff Coplon’s article that says everything in its title “Absolutely, Positively the Worst Team in the History of Professional Sports”. Quick Cliff Notes style summary: Threw away two 1st round picks for Eddy Curry. Fired Larry Brown (his best move) and made himself coach (his worst move–on the court). Ordered his team to commit a hard foul against the Denver Nuggets resulting in a brawl. Despite having the highest paid team in the league and the pipe dream of landing LeBron James he continued to blow money/cap space on over-priced/under-performing players. “Reassigned” and forbidden to have any contact with the Knicks’ players. Charged in a sexual harassment lawsuit that led Madison Square Garden to pay $11.6 million to his accuser and offended multiple sponsors. Reportedly overdosed on Lunesta and was taken to the hospital, but afterwards tried to throw the entire thing on his 17 year-old daughter.

So, um yeah, good luck with that FIU.

Share this story

Adios, Billy Packer!

Posted by nvr1983 on July 14th, 2008

In a move that we are certain will generate a ton of praise around the college basketball world (and the blogosphere), CBS has decided to not renew everyone’s least favorite curmudgeon Billy Packer (h/t to The Big Lead for pointing this out). After 27 years at CBS and having called the national championship game every year since 1977, CBS has “decided to move into another direction” (a phrase I’m sure many of our readers have heard before).

Like most college basketball fans, I’m excited to see Packer and his bitterness leave the airwaves (although I’m sure that rtmsf is sad to see a Wake Forest alum lose his job). While Packer has certainly become an institution (of hatred) in college basketball, it seems like in recent years, Packer has been more controversial than normal although that may just be a recency effect.

Among Packer’s “memorable” moments:
-1996: During a Georgetown-Villanova game, he calls Allen Iverson a “tough monkey”. He apologizes and John Thompson (the original, not JT3) says it’s a non-issue because he says Packer is not a racist.
-2000: When two Duke female (yeah, I know an oxymoron) students ask to see his press pass, Packer reportedly responds “Since when do we let women control who gets into a men’s basketball game? Why don’t you go find a women’s game to let people into?” Once again Packer apologizes.
-2004: Criticizes the NCAA selection committee for giving 1-loss Saint Joseph’s a #1 seed in the East Regional. This leads to a small disagreement between Packer and the CBS guest–St. Joseph’s coach Phil Martelli. The Hawks go onto reach the Elite 8 (beating Packer’s alma mater Wake Forest in the Sweet 16) before losing to Oklahoma State in a tight game.
-2006: Packer rips into the selection committee for taking mid-majors over BCSconference schools. The mid-majors responded by having Bradley and Wichita State make it to the Sweet 16 and George Mason make it to the Final 4.
-2008: With 27:30 left in the national semifinal, Packer tells viewers that the game is over. Surprisingly it isn’t. I’m sure the CBS bigwigs weren’t too thrilled that Packer essentially told viewers they could stop watching with 27:30 left in the game.

I’m sure there are others dating back to the beginning of his time on TV, but frankly I’m too young to remember the more distant controversies.

In an attempt to remain “fair & balanced”, we should note that Packer is most likely the 2nd person casual college basketball fans think of when they think of announcers–a distant 2nd to Dick Vitale. We’ll leave you with this YouTube clip from last year with Packer and Jim Nantz discussing his potential legacy (disclosure: I haven’t listened to this because I’m at work and I forgot my headphones–it’s a Monday):

Share this story

And the Angels Shall Sing…

Posted by rtmsf on April 22nd, 2008

Several commentators are already all over this story, but we cannot simply sit by without giving our view on the NY Daily News blurb that Mr. Cash and Purveyor of All Things Hoops and Holy, Mr. William “Billy” Packer, might be on thin ice at CBS for his insistence that the national semifinal game between Kansas and UNC was “over” at the 7:32 mark in the first half.

Bill Raissman writes:

CBS is paying $6 billion for the right to air the tourney over the life of its contract with the NCAA. From a business perspective, telling viewers to turn off the TV is not a great idea, especially in a soft advertising market. Naming a “winner” with plenty of time left in a game does not sit well with corporations paying top dollar to advertise their products during the tournament. Some of these same companies will be asked to purchase time on next year’s tourney.

Photo Credit – Where’s He Get the Mask?

You might recall that we wrote last week that, from a purely statistical standpoint (h/t Bill James), Packer was egregiously wrong (the magic number of insurmountability was 44 at that point in the game); but from our own sensory perspective and the ultimate result of the game, he was absolutely correct.

Still, we find it beyond hilarious that a man who has based his entire career on unabashed vitriol, criticism, vituperation and downright nastiness could end up getting canned (or at least censured) for something like this. Should that happen, there will undoubtedly be a national day of celebration not unlike what we saw when Neil Armstrong walked on the moon – angels will sing, the dealers will bust and even the strippers will taste a little sweeter.

In summation, remember kiddies – all you young Packers out there with your mics and your viscous hatred – you cannot call a game over in the first half, but you can do this:

  • Call Allen Iverson a “tough monkey” on the air of the Georgetown-Villanova game in 1996.
  • Publicly disparage two Duke women checking press passes at Cameron Indoor Stadium in 2000 by stating, “Since when do we let women control who gets into a men’s basketball game? Why don’t you go find a women’s game to let people into?” When asked if he was joking, Packer reported said, “No, that’s just the kind of guy I am.”
  • Tell Charlie Rose in an interview in 2007 that he always “fag[s] out,” as in promising to help but not following through.

All we can say is best of luck to Billy in his dealings with CBS brass, as we’d hate for him to have to revert to his Mr. Cash persona full-time. For poking fun at such a sinister figure, we’d normally be a little nervous that Packer might read this and hunt us down with his henchmen, but remember, the man famously doesn’t even own a computer. Whew.

Share this story