The Constant Gardner

Posted by rtmsf on November 8th, 2007

Some day-after reactions from around Blogadelphia to last night’s amazing upset of Gardner-Webb over Kentucky…

Michael David Smith over at AOL Fanhouse is on board with us in pointing out just how terrible of a loss this was for UK:

After Kentucky’s stunning loss to Gardner-Webb last night, a lot of comparisons have been made to Michigan’s stunning loss to Appalachian State at the start of the college football season.  But let’s get one thing clear: Gardner-Webb is no Appalachian State.  Appalachian State was the best football team in Division I-AA last year. The Sagarin ratings at the end of the season had Appalachian State as the No. 53 team in the country, ahead of Big Ten teams Purdue, Michigan State, Indiana, Northwestern and Illinois.  

The Love of Sports points out that wins like this are good for college basketball because it produces publicity it wouldn’t have otherwise gotten:

For this program, it’s by far the biggest win they’ve ever seen. And that goes back to the days of Artis Gilmore and John Drew, who eventually made it into the NBA.  Yes, both Artis Gilmore and John Drew went to Gardner Webb. Bet you didn’t know that one.  But this is bigger than anything they ever did there. This is Kentucky. And this is now one of the biggest upsets in the history of the sport.  Congrats go out to you, fellas. You slayed the dragon. And we love you for it.

Interesting point from Dan Shanoff on his daily roundup:

Be honest. If Tubby Smith had still been UK’s coach and lost to Garner Webb – Gardner Webb – he would have been fired this morning.  New coach Billy Gillispie gets a little more wiggle room in only his second game, but it can’t possibly be comfortable right now. This ain’t losing to Tennessee or Florida.

A Sea of Blue informs us that some Cat fans are blaming Tubby anyway!

I see an awful lot of people blaming this loss on Tubby Smith.  Folks, that is just silly.  Even if we were to accept the argument that Smith left the cupboard bare, blaming this loss on lack of talent is utterly non-sequitur.  We have two seniors who were highly ranked, one of them a high school all-American, several highly ranked sophomores, two freshmen high school all-Americans, and a hot new coach who has resurrected programs far worse off than us.  I wonder if Gardner-Webb had a 3-star among them? 

Kentucky Sports Radio had this to say:

Here, according to Joe Lunardi, are the Running Bulldogs’ best wins according to RPI Rating over the last five seasons:

• 2002-03: 4-24 (2-14 conference), Appalachian State, No. 162
• 2003-04: 7-20 (6-14 conference), Mercer, No. 208
• 2004-05: 16-12 (13-7 conference), at Central Florida, No. 108
• 2005-06: 17-12 (13-7 conference), at Minnesota, No. 83
• 2006-07: 8-21 (7-11 conference), Lipscomb, No. 179

Now we can add Kentucky to that list as well. What bothers me about the loss is not that it happened, although losing to the worst team that I can remember Kentucky falling to is bad enough. But what really bothers is me is just how bad a loss it was. Kentucky was never in the game. After the first few minutes, they were never closer than 7 and never, at any point, looked like the best team on the court. Also, this wasnt a case of a group of pesky guys getting hot and hitting ridiculous shots…..many, if not most, of the points came from layups…..often WIDE OPEN. The performance was pitiful and as a good friend of mine said at work today…..”I have never seen the Cats play worse.”

The pressure is on in Lexington.  How will Billy G. respond?

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10.28.07 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on October 28th, 2007

We’re counting down – just over one week until the first tipoffs…

  • Didn’t Coach K wait a couple of years after winning B2B titles before using the back excuse? Whatsup Billy D, we realize your team is young, but come on!
  • Georgia’s Dennis Felton is officially screwed – he just kicked leading scorer Takais Brown off the team. AOL Fanhouse wonders why UGa players are being charged $10 cashmoney for missing classes – we wonder the same thing.
  • One week later, Mizzou’s Darryl Butterfield is at it again.
  • Bill Self is in tight with half of the top 15 in the class of 09… will they beat Bucknell in 2011?
  • More brilliance from BBall Prospectus – how similar is one player to another?
  • Faustian bargains – why you should never marry a rival fan.
  • Plissken takes a sensible look at why student-athletes shouldn’t be paid for their services.
  • Will Kentucky build a new Rupp Arena?
  • Duke and Carolina have special water needs.
  • Speaking of special needs, Basketball Times chose Duke as the top program of the last decade.
  • We don’t even know what to make of this ridiculous thing.
  • Preseason Materials by Conference –
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10.07.07 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on October 7th, 2007

We’ve let the news accumulate for a while, so without any further delay…

  • Tom Izzo porked the media by putting them through a “typical” 2-hr MSU practice last week.
  • Ben Howland got a hefty raise and an extension through 2014 coaching his self-professed dream job.
  • If you haven’t heard, Jim Jones’ grandson Rob Jones will be playing for the University of San Diego this year. There have been multiple takes on this, but we like Extra P.’s at STF best.
  • Hoops Weiss has a scathing analysis of the Jim Calhoun / Holy Cross Coaches vs. Cancer situation.
  • Kyle Whelliston contributed a really insightful article on espn.com about high majors playing road games at mid-major schools this year.
  • Hard luck- former McD’s all-american Mike Williams ruptured his achilles tendon in a workout at Cincinnati last week and will the entire season (he sat out last year as a transfer from Texas). USC’s Daniel Hackett broke his jaw (on OJ Mayo’s elbow) last week and will miss up to six weeks. Vandy’s JeJuan Brown has withdrawn from school for personal reasons.
  • Speaking of OJ, this video of him playing in summer league is making the rounds.
  • AOL Fanhouse is continuing its analysis of all the Big East schedules.
  • NCAA Hoops Today continued its analysis of last spring’s HS all-star games with the Roundball Classic and the Jordan Classic.
  • The Big Ten Network’s twelve viewers will get to see several Midnight Madnesses next Friday, including Illini Madness, Hoosier Hysteria, Midnight Madness (MSU), Tubby’s Tipoff and Night of the Grateful Red.
  • Gary Parrish lists his top points and combo guards (Derrick RoseMemphis), top shooters and wings (Chris Lofton – Tennessee), and top bigs (Tyler Hansbrough – UNC) in the nation. He really likes freshmen.
  • DeCourcy lists his top players the more traditional way – centers (Hansbrough), power forwards (Darrell Arthur – Kansas), small forwards (Chase Budinger – Arizona), shooting guards (Lofton), and point guards (DJ Augustin – Texas).
  • And continuing our edification of various offensive and defensive schemes, here’s an explanation of Bo Ryan’s Wisconsin swing offense and a John Beilein-esque 1-3-1 trap.
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Tim Donaghy Scandal Fallout

Posted by rtmsf on July 21st, 2007

Much is going to be made over the next week over the disclosure broken Friday by the New York Post that Tim Donaghy, a veteran NBA referee, allegedly became heavily indebted through illegal gambling and was using his position as an official to manipulate point spreads by proxy of organized crime. In other words… pointshaving, quite possibly the dirtiest word in sports. The only good news for the NBA was that the news hit on a summer Friday afternoon after a week of wall-to-wall Michael Vick and Barry Bonds-related outrage coverage.

Tim Donaghy and Kobe

“Kobe, do you think you could help a fellow Philadelphian out here?”

The outcry already predictably ranges from the overtly dismissive from Nate Jones at AOL Fanhouse:

For some reason the ref story isn’t that big of a deal to me. Unless of course it comes out that the ref is 2006 Finals MVP Bennett Salvatore. I feel like there are bad apples in EVERY organization. So it’s not a surprise that one ref out of all of the refs in the history of basketball decided to go down the gambling route.

And Greg Anthony at espn.com:

While some who are critical of the NBA point to this being an organization’s problem, I see this more as probably one man’s human error.

To Bomani Jones of Page 2 accusing NBA brass of negligence for not sniffing this out sooner through its review process:

Should the reports be true, Donaghy worked for a league that couldn’t catch on to what he was doing. For all we know, the NBA couldn’t tell if Donaghy was blind as Jose Feliciano or as connected as Jack Molinas. In spite of having mountains of data on officiating, enough to produce a rebuttal to a scholarly paper about whether foul calls are affected by the race of the referee and the player whistled for the infraction, the NBA apparently couldn’t tell something was awry. That’s all bad for the NBA, and probably worse than it would be for any other league. After decades of cockamamie conspiracy theories and a season that will be remembered more for tanking than playing, the last thing the NBA needs is anything that could give credence to any allegations of shady business. Especially if the shade was brought on by negligence. Absolutely, corruption is worse than incompetence. But what’s worse than both of them? Hiring someone corrupt and not knowing any better.

To using this incident as a proactive agent of change, as Mark Cuban suggests in blog maverick:

Every company of any size has had a problem(s) that its CEO and stakeholders have lost sleep over. Its the law of big numbers. If enough things go on, something is going to go wrong. Products get recalled or are tampered with. There are workplace disasters. There is corruption. No industry is immune. Churches, consumer products, law enforcement, cars, planes, trains and plenty more. No profession is immune. From the CEO who misrepresents corporate numbers or events at the expense of shareholders, to the doorman who tips himself from the cover charge at the expense of the club owner, people of every profession make bad decisions. Shit happens. Bad Shit happens. When it does, there are two options. Cry over it and do nothing or recognize the problem and do the best you possibly can to not only fix it, but make the entire organization stronger.

To the downright apocalyptic from Jennifer Engel at the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram:

Whatever his previous failings, and his handling of that little Suns-Spurs brouhaha immediately jumps to mind, Stern obviously understands what is in danger of being lost. You. The fan. The guy who is left wondering what, if anything, you saw in the NBA was real. He understands this poses a far more insidious danger to his league than Vick does to the NFL or Bonds to Major League Baseball. They can make Vick go away. Bonds eventually will go away. Doubt is far tougher to suspend. Which is why the NBA has scoreboard on every other sport for the worst of the bad weeks.

To the Vegas reaction from NBA aficianado David Aldridge:

There was no detectable change in betting patterns in Las Vegas casinos on NBA games during the last couple of years, according to Jay Kornegay, who runs the sports book at the Las Vegas Hilton and spoke by telephone today. “We usually hear something if there’s some unusual movement or unusual betting patterns. . . . There’s usually some kind of discussions about them. We don’t remember anything like that,” Kornegay said. Kornegay said he wasn’t concerned about taking action on NBA games in the future. Sports book betting makes up only about 2 percent of all betting action, he said “We are a very well-regulated industry out here, and I have all the faith in the world in our system,” he said. “I’m more disappointed than concerned. It doesn’t just shake the NBA; it shakes the whole sports world.”

To the silly, from freedarko.com:

But in another way, this is really good for the league. Fine, some games–most likely regular season ones, which everyone agrees mean nothing–were competitively tainted. Yet this most ordinary of sports scandals might serve as a reality check on all the stupid shit people say about the NBA. This is how things are weird in a sport; the commish doesn’t write the script for the postseason in advance, the refs are programmed to give close calls to whoever garners the highest ratings, and China isn’t secretly controlling the whole thing from behind the muslin curtain.

To Marty Burns at cnnsi.com discussing the referees’ collective feelings:

We’re angry. We’re angry. That’s for sure,” he said. “It’s not fair that one guy, one bad apple, brings down the whole officiating [staff]. It’ll trickle down to the college game, too. Every controversial call at the end of a game, somebody will question it… “I am sick of having to defend ourselves. We just got over the IRS thing, and now we have to defend ourselves all over again.”

To the deserving self-aggrandizement of Unsilent at Deadspin for “calling it” (did he have money on which ref it was?):

Just as I predicted Donaghy was identified as the target of the FBI’s gambling investigation. [...] Of all the refs I heckled last year there were only two that could really piss me off. One was a dick (Steve Javie) and the other was either the most incompetent referee alive or a soulless shell of humanity with mob ties. I have no idea whether he had money riding on any of the seven Wizards games I watched him work this season, but it sure would clear things up a bit.

To Jack McCallum at cnnsi.com quoting pejorative attacks on the man’s character:

The league source close to Philly put it this way: “He’s the kind of guy who is always in fights. When he was a kid, you’d see him throwing rocks at cars. He’s just an asshole. No one likes the guy. He’s always in fights on the golf course, that kind of thing. He’s a very antagonistic guy. When you have too many enemies, one of them comes back to bite you.”

In other words, a little bit of everything. Already we’re seeing evidence of every local NBA paper taking a closer look at games in which Donaghy worked. Feel free to interpret “worked” in any way you choose there. We’ll be back tomorrow with a closer look at how we feel sports gambling potentially impacts sports at both the collegiate and professional levels. Our essential conclusion is that this sort of thing happens a lot more than we all think. Unfortunately.

Update:  Simmons puts his ten cents worth here while Henry Abbott at TrueHoop and Dan Shanoff call for transparency.

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Fast Breaks 07.16.07

Posted by rtmsf on July 16th, 2007

For some reason, we don’t recall summers growing up as this boring…

  • Mizzou players Kalen Grimes (accused of assault with a shotgun in, of all places, a Jack in the Box) and DeMarre Carroll (shot in the ankle outside a nightclub) were involved in separate incidents within five days of each other. Mike Anderson’s honeymoon is apparently over in Columbia.
  • Bad Luck in Durham: Duke’s Brian Zoubek broke his foot in a pickup game; and Demarcus Nelson broke his wrist at the Pan Am trials within the last week. No word on whether Greg Paulus’s mishap with autoerotic asphyxiation will affect his play next year.
  • The Big East moves to an 18-game conference schedule for 2007-08, so each team will play at least once next year. We like this trend.
  • SEC Commish Mike Slive will head the NCAA Selection Committee in 2009 – Ole Miss and Vandy are already making hotel reservations to reward their 18-10 records.
  • New Ohio St. President Gordon Gee says that he will not tolerate bad behavior on his watch within the Buckeye program… we’re still waiting on the punchline here.
  • The 2007 HOF Challenge on December 1 is set with two solid matchups: UConn vs. Gonzaga and BC vs. Providence.
  • Cal assistant Joe Pasternack takes the head coaching job at the University of New Orleans. Bears fans lament that Ben Braun didn’t take the job.
  • The Fanhouse put together its admittedly premature top 20 for the summer. Georgetown is too low on their list and Indiana is too high.
  • UCLA’s incoming frosh Kevin Love is the Gatorade POY. Still not sure how we feel about him – is he another Psycho T or Aaron Gray?
  • Wake got 2008 verbals from the #3 and #18 players last week (to go along with already committed #10), but is the Class of 2008 any good? Speaking of Wake, TrueHoop unearthed a fantastic introspective piece into the mind of the greatest Deac of all, Tim Duncan.
  • Seth Davis gives his takes from the road on the summer circuit.
  • Apparently Steve Lavin knows how to throw a party.
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