The Week That Was: December 18-27

Posted by rtmsf on December 28th, 2010

David Ely is an RTC Contributor

It’s that time of year again: Conference season. UConn and Pittsburgh opened up the Big East slate Monday night with the first of what will be many highly-anticipated conference matchups over the next couple of months. It won’t be much longer until we get Pitt-Georgetown, DukeMaryland, WashingtonWashington State, Ohio StatePurdue and plenty over other mouth-watering games. It’s definitely a more appealing prospect than watching Kentucky pummel Winthrop or Texas beat down North Florida.

What We Learned

Taylor & Pitt Easily Ripped UConn

  • It might have been wise for Jim Calhoun to schedule some true road games for his young UConn squad before its Big East opener at Pittsburgh. The Huskies certainly played as though they weren’t prepared for what was waiting for them in the amped up Peterson Events Center. But honestly, there was little reason to think that this game was going to be anything other than a wakeup call for UConn. The Huskies boast seven freshmen, and only three players in its rotation that had ever played at that venue. No surprises here that the Panthers jumped out to an early double-digit lead and cruised to a 78-63 win. At least the Huskies can take solace in the fact that they don’t have to face Pittsburgh again until possibly the Big East Tournament. The Panthers’ length along the perimeter makes them a tough matchup for Kemba Walker, who needed 27 shots and 11 free throws to score 31 points against the likes of Ashton Gibbs and Brad Wanamaker.
  • After a less-than-stellar start to its season, in which Butler got smoked by Louisville and lost in overtime to Evansville en route to a 4-4 record through its first eight games, it now looks like Brad Stevens’ squad has righted the ship. The Bulldogs have won five in a row and just beat Washington State on Christmas Day to win the Diamond Head Classic. Key to the Bulldogs recent surge has been their improved play on the defensive end. Butler has not allowed more than 68 points since Mississippi Valley St. put up 71 on Dec. 11, and in their last four wins, the Bulldogs have allowed their opponents to shoot the following percentages: Stanford, 31.4%; Utah, 39.6%; Florida State, 38%; and Washington State, 40.7%. The Bulldogs’ defensive numbers still aren’t great, they rank 48th in KenPom’s adjusted defensive efficiency rankings and they’re #272 in turnover %, but they’re on their way back to being a squad that can win games on the defensive end. As the schedule shifts to Horizon League play, the Bulldogs again are a safe bet to claim another conference championship.
  • When we last checked in with Tennessee, the Vols just had erased most of the momentum gained from a win over Pittsburgh with a home loss to Oakland (nothing to be embarrassed about, but not what we like to see from one of our top-10 teams). As it turns out, that loss to the Golden Grizzlies was a harbinger for what turned out to be a very unhappy holiday season for Bruce Pearl. The Vols lost their next two games, both to unranked opponents. Tennessee lost 49-48 to a Charlotte squad without leading scored Shamari Spears, who was kicked off the team a few days earlier. Then the Vols lost again by one point, this time to USC. To make matters worse, their win to halt the three-game skid did little to make people believe the Vols aren’t in the middle of a tailspin. Tennessee blew a 13-point lead to Belmont and needed a layup from Scotty Hopson with 5.7 left to escape with a 66-65 win. Despite his last-second bucket, Hopson’s recent play has been a major reason for the Vols’ struggles. Hopson scored a combined 28 points his losses to Oakland, Charlotte and USC on 8-31 shooting. He rebounded to score 19 points against Belmont, but he’s still suffering from a shooting slump. Hopson is 2-14 from three in his last four games.
  • TWTW isn’t a huge fan of making sweeping proclamations before conference play begins, nor do we like to divulge its national championship favorite until the most opportune moment. (Personally, TWTW prefers to wait until about 10 seconds left in the title game to announce who we think will win it all). But if TWTW was forced to name a team it would be Ohio State. UConn, Duke, Syracuse and Kansas are all fine choices, but there’s something about the Buckeyes that separates them from the pack. Everything starts with Jared Sullinger, who is first on the team in points (17.5) and rebounds (10.1) and is the clubhouse leader for national freshman of the year. Sullinger has owned the paint from Day 1 and has shown a knack for dominating games like few other big men this year (see his 40/13 against IUPUI and his 30/19 against South Carolina). What’s remarkable about Sullinger, though, has been his ability to avoid foul trouble. Sullinger hasn’t fouled out of one game this season and only has one game (his first) in which he had four infractions. But OSU isn’t just limited to Sullinger. The Buckeyes boast five players who average at least 10 points a game. They can beat you just as easily outside as they can inside with shooters like David Lighty and Jon Diebler, who shoot 45.5% and 47.4% from three, respectively. And freshman Deshaun Thomas is the kind of athletic wing that can score in bunches off the bench. Could Ohio State be better without Evan Turner? TWTW thinks so.
  • People wondered how Kansas would be able to integrate freshman phenom Josh Selby into its rotation once he returned from his NCAA-imposed nine-game suspension, the question being whether Selby’s presence would disrupt the Jayhawks’ chemistry from their 9-0 start. After two games, two wins and two electric performances by Selby, it’s obvious there was never a need to worry whether his addition would be anything but welcome. In his debut against USC, Selby scored 21 points and drilled a go-ahead three with 26 seconds ago to lead the Jayhawks to 70-68 win. There was no need for any late heroics in his second game, but Selby still made his presence felt, to the tune of 18 points and a 3-4 shooting night from beyond the arc. Selby’s already established himself as one of Kansas’ go-to scorers, and the fact that Bill Self had Selby not only on the court in the waning seconds against USC but shows how important Selby will be to any title run for KU.

Media Blackout

The three pieces of news to know if you’ve been living in complete isolation all week.

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Morning Five: 12.20.10 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on December 20th, 2010

  1. It is still a few days before Christmas, but quite a few coaches got early Christmas presents in the form of players making long-awaited debuts. The most notable of these debuts was that of Josh Selby, who more than lived up to the hype as he was the best player on the court in Lawrence on Saturday and hit the go-ahead 3-pointer with 26 seconds left to propel Kansas to a hard-fought victory over USC. While Selby justifiably received the majority of the hype he wasn’t the only notable player making a debut as Jio Fontan was making his debut for the Trojans. Unfortunately for the Trojans Fontan did not has as auspicious of a debut as he stepped on the sideline after catching an inbounds pass following Selby’s 3, which eventually led to the Jayhawks hanging on for a victory. The other notable debut over the weekend was that of Renardo Sidney, who managed to score 12 points in a losing effort for Mississippi State against Virginia Tech.
  2. Tonight Duke will play Elon in a game that probably doesn’t mean much to the average college basketball fan, but it will hold a special meaning for Coach K as he will going for win #879, which would tie Dean Smith for 2nd all-time win list. Everyone can appreciate the meaning as how it relates to the Duke-UNC rivalry, but it will also mean something for Krzyzewski on a more personal level after he spent more than a decade trying to emulate Smith to make Duke into a program comparable to UNC.
  3. While we are on the topic of Coach K, The Fayetteville Observer has an excellent 3-part series on him analyzing him from all points of view. It is definitely worth your time even if we will all be getting bombarded with about a million pieces on him as he approaches Bob Knight‘s all-time wins record.
  4. Earlier this season Len Elmore chimed in saying that he thought that Bruce Pearl should be fired and now Jay Bilas has voiced his opinion and he agrees with the Elmore’s take (Insider only, sorry). So now we know where ESPN’s basketball/legal department stands on Bruce Pearl. We can only hope that someone brings this up when Pearl is being interviewed by Elmore and/or Bilas, but we doubt that the executives at ESPN will let that happen. One more thing about the Bilas column: This is the first time we have ever seen the term “Chillax” on a major website.
  5. We are a men’s college basketball site, but we would be remiss if we did not congratulate the UConn women for their 88th consecutive victory tying the record set by John Wooden‘s UCLA team. The Huskies will be going for #89 on Tuesday night at home against FSU.
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ATB: Coach K Climbs to Third All-Time in Wins

Posted by nvr1983 on December 9th, 2010

The Lede. A Leader Who Happens To Coach Basketball. If you can’t stand Duke and/or Coach K you might want to stay off the Internet for a while because you are going to be hearing about them a lot over the next few months. While the Blue Devils picked up their 19th straight win and 27th in 28 games, this game will be remembered (particularly by those in The Bluegrass State) as the game where Coach K surpassed Adolph Rupp on the all-time Division I wins list. In Duke’s first game without Kyrie Irving, who could be out indefinitely with a toe injury, the Blue Devils relied on their superior athleticism, depth, and execution to crush a respectable Bradley team, 83-48. The Braves’ four losses this season coming in were by a combined 22 points, but they weren’t that fortunate tonight as the Blue Devils blew them out by 35 points. Playing in place of Irving, Andre Dawkins was more than adequate as he scored 28 points including 8 of 14 from beyond the arc. Duke may not be the same dynamic team without Irving, but they are still really, really good. As for Coach K, now that he has passed Rupp for third he only has two more coaches ahead of him (Dean Smith at 879 and Bobby Knight at 902). We don’t think we need to tell you about the type of hysteria that you will see when he approaches those two living legends in the coming weeks and months.

Coach K has his sights set on The General

Your Watercooler Moment. Playing with a women’s ball in Illinois. Coach K might have dominated the mainstream college basketball media’s attention tonight, but the Twitter-verse was dominated by the strange situation in Illinois where the Fighting Illini and Oakland Golden Grizzlies played the first seven minutes of their game with a women’s basketball before Mike Tisdale noticed that something felt wrong and pointed it out to the official who switched the ball. Having dealt with that the Fighting Illini rallied from down nine early to defeat a tough Golden Grizzlies team by a score of 74-63. Although we would like to be able to attribute the Golden Grizzlies early success to playing with a women’s ball (they outscored Illinois 15-6 while playing with the women’s ball and were outscored 68-48 with the men’s basketball) that would be selling their effort short as they led the #16 team in the country until there were 15 minutes left in the game.  Demetri McCamey scored nine points in 62 seconds to give Bruce Weber’s squad a quick seven-point lead, which they never relinquished after that point.

Tonight’s Quick Hits...

  • Steve Fisher’s Quips.  His team is now 9-0 after defeating California tonight, but the longtime coach of the San Diego State Aztecs thinks that his home folks might be going a little overboard with their support and faith of the team.  As he put it, “they think we can play the Celtics… and if Kevin Garnett didn’t play, they think we’d have a chance.”  In this clip, he also talks about how big of a deal it is for his squad to defeat a Pac-10 opponent on their own floor, as it hasn’t happened for a very long time (the answer: SDSU last did it in 1982 vs. Oregon in Eugene, well before Fisher could even spell Fab Five).
  • Glens Falls, New York.  Seemingly an entire town came out to watch its prodigal son, Jimmer Fredette, return to play basketball.  The star guard scored 26 points in variety of ways to thrill the beyond-capacity home crowd at the Glens Falls Civic Center tonight.  Take a read through Tae Andrews’ RTC Live at the arena tonight — people were sitting or standing in every available space in this building.  We love to see support like that — more teams should do this sort of thing for the local HS heroes that move on.

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The Spectrum: There Is No Pain, You Are Receding

Posted by jstevrtc on November 23rd, 2010

The sports world gave up another one of its landmark venues to the way of progress today as The Philadelphia Spectrum felt the crash of the wrecking ball while several of the men who filled it with memories, including Julius Erving and Bernie Parent, watched the destruction from a safe distance. This 47-year old warhorse ends a distinguished career as one of the most versatile sports and music arenas ever built.

Living up to its name, The Spectrum was home to numerous Philadelphia sports franchises including the 76ers and Flyers. The Flyers won their first Stanley Cup in 1974 on the Spectrum’s ice, playing in the Stanley Cup Finals a total of six time while tenants of the place. The 76ers brought the NBA Finals there four times and won it in 1983.

Not Even Rocky Balboa Could Save The Spectrum Today

The Spectrum’s contributions to college basketball were enormous. The Spectrum served as the site for countless games between Philly’s Big Five teams, hosted several conference tournaments (usually the Atlantic 10), NCAA regionals, and even a couple of Final Fours. Indiana backers should feel especially mournful today, since the two F4’s that were held there were won by Hoosier squads coached by Bobby Knight. Kent Benson led the 1976 IU squad to a defeat of conference rivals Michigan in the national title game in the arena, cementing that Hoosier team’s place as the last college hoops team to finish a season unbeaten. Isiah Thomas was the MOP of the 1981 Indiana side that locked up the school’s fourth championship by beating North Carolina.

But if you’re talking about college basketball at the Spectrum, the conversation begins and ends with the game that requires no introduction. Kentucky fans, look away. Duke supporters, start caressing that 1992 championship trophy…

While we have no documentation of it, we would not be surprised to hear later that a small group of Kentucky fans who didn’t go to Maui this week were seen partying in a nearby cordoned area, toasting with champagne and bourbon and even bidding for the right to hit the switch that dropped the wrecking ball.

There’s one final note about the building that our fellow album rock fans will find interesting. On June 29th, 1977, Pink Floyd played a show there in which lead singer and bassist Roger Waters was suffering from terrible stomach cramps and had to have a injection of medicine — “just a little pin prick,” if you will — to keep him going through the show (it didn’t work, by the way). Waters eventually told Rolling Stone it was “the longest two hours of my life.” Later, he would use the memory of performing while sick and with the injected medicine on board to inspire a popular little tune called “Comfortably Numb.”

In that spirit, we hope the demolishers looked inside and asked “Is there anybody in there? Is there anyone home?” before they fired up the wrecking ball today. To The Spectrum, thank you for all you did for us — we’ll never forget you.

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24 Great Things About Watching ESPN’s 24 Hour Hoops Marathon

Posted by jstevrtc on August 18th, 2010

One of the first things I did on this website upon debuting two years ago was live blog ESPN’s first 24-hour college hoops marathon from start to finish.  You know how it is. You’re the new guy, you want to impress your co-bloggers, and all that.  I volunteered for the job, thinking I’d earn the respect of my RTC-mates and perhaps bring a few new visitors to the site. I assumed the novelty of it (it wasn’t that novel) would, in the same way that circus-goers stroll by the exhibition of freaks, bring a few people by to check in on the weirdo who was staying up and live blogging the whole thing.  I thought it turned out great, especially for a guy’s first time.  I had been awake for 16 hours before it started, too, so there were a few palpitations and many hallucinations by the time it was over, but I was proud. And as I was doing it, I was convinced that the combination of my astute basketball observations with my razor-sharp pop culture references would make this site a household name and propel us into the very heart of the American consciousness. Which, as we all now know, is precisely what happened.

Last year I did it again, despite the wagging fingers of my internist and a couple of specialists. We had some technical difficulties when the internet connection at the RTC Southern Compound tendered its resignation, but with some help of friends who subbed for me while I changed location, we got it done and I was able to finish strong.

Oh sweet, delicious caffeine -- the Marathon blogger's best friend.

We’re still in secret discussions as to what we’re going to do this year to celebrate the national holiday that is the 24-hour hoops marathon. I might insult my cardiovascular and central nervous systems for a third year in a row, or we might have something better in store this year. But because I’ve done it twice and not yet needed a trip to the ER, I — erroneously, in all likelihood — consider myself the authority on the subject.  To celebrate the release of this season’s Marathon schedule and the fact that it’s — *sigh* — only three short months away, here are my 24 favorite things about watching ESPN’s 24 Hour Hoops Marathon from beginning to end.

24. The fact that it’s actually about 26 hours of basketball, not 24. The last game starts at 11:30 PM ET, if it’s on time. Not only is it an “extra” game, but it’s a good time to summarize what you’ve seen during the day and pat yourself on the back.  Bonus hoops?  I’m not complaining, not even after 24 hours.

23. Seeing whether or not ESPNU’s Lowell Galindo will continue to go with the full Windsor knot in his tie.  Others in the sports media have worn it. Only one man has perfected it.  He’s made some appearances without it during the off-season, and stock markets all over the world plummeted each time.

22. The constant string of games is an instant reminder of those sweet days of Championship Week and the NCAA Tournament.

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Morning Five: 06.01.10 Edition

Posted by jstevrtc on June 1st, 2010

  1. Just ahead of the release of findings from the NCAA’s investigation of the USC basketball (and football) program, Tim Floyd says that he’s not too worried.  Of course, he has no reason to be, since he’s at UTEP now.
  2. If this whole Eric Bledsoe story regarding alleged rent payments and the question of “impermissible benefits” sounds a tad familiar, you may be remembering a story from from a few days ago about Oklahoma’s Tiny Gallon and a similar situation.  The problem for Sooner supporters is…this happened while OU was already on probation.
  3. Speaking of Mr. Zagoria…a few days ago he provided further news about Herb Pope, who’s said to be on the road to a full recovery (from what, exactly, we’ve not been told) and more hoops at Seton Hall after that terrifying collapse back in late April, when it was said that his heart actually stopped during a workout.  A relative is supposedly going to hold a press conference soon to discuss exactly what happened. While we admit we’re intrigued by the diagnosis, when it’s revealed, we hope it will show this to be a one-time event and that the guy’s got nothing to worry about in the future.
  4. Mike Miller from invites the Washington Wizards to consider using that top draft pick on DeMarcus Cousins ahead of John Wall or Evan Turner.
  5. We’ve ridden Bobby Knight pretty hard around these parts in the past, so it’s only fair that we mention the free clinic he held over the weekend for about 80 kids — and their parents — in Duncanville, TX at the new Bob Knight’s Fieldhouse, a project that The General truly cares about and to which he’s deservedly happy to have his name attached.


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Feinstein’s Thursday Lunch: Shaheen-Kebabs

Posted by jstevrtc on April 2nd, 2010

Now that spring is here and the weather has improved over much of the country, we’d like to announce that grilling season officially kicked off today in Indianapolis, but probably not in the way you’re thinking.

The president of the NCAA and/or some other high-ups has always made it a point to take some time on the Thursday or Friday preceding the Final Four to have a press conference to talk about the NCAA Tournament in general and the tournament specific to that year.  This little get-together happened today in Indy.  The media got the chance to hear from Dan Guerrero, chair of the Division I Men’s Basketball Committee; Kevin Lennon, VP for academic and membership affairs; and one Greg Shaheen, the NCAA’s senior VP for basketball and business strategies.

Shaheen Isn't Speechless Here

RIGHT HERE is the transcript of this press conference.

IMPORTANT:  Listen, we post a lot of links on this site.  We want you to click every one of them.  We wouldn’t put them up there if we didn’t think it would enhance your enjoyment or understanding of a story or article.  But YOU MUST CLICK ON THAT LINK if you want to get a glimpse into the minds of the people who are trying to change the greatest sporting event in the world, the people who want to increase the number of teams in the NCAA Tournament from 65 to 96.

Before you do that, we need to make sure you understand something — this thing is happening.  The 96-team tournament isn’t something that’s just being discussed, anymore.  This press conference wasn’t an official announcement, but it was everything but that.  We don’t like it any more than you do, but we might as well get used to it. We know why they’re doing it.  Like Joe Pesci said in Casino:

“Always the dollars.  Always the f***in’ dollars…”

You see, the NCAA has to make a decision this summer.  Their current college basketball contract with CBS runs through 2013, but states that the NCAA can opt out of the deal by the end of this July to go searching for a better deal, meaning more money.  The current contract with CBS was finalized in 1999 and is worth about $6 billion.  It also applies to a 65-team tournament.  If they opt out, the NCAA can do whatever it wants to the tournament and market the new version (like, say, one with 96 teams) as their new product as they negotiate for even bigger bucks.  They could even renegotiate with CBS (we wonder if CBS also sees possible bigger profits and actually wants the NCAA to opt out of this thing).

Back to this press conference.  Here’s a little rundown of what happened.  First, Mr. Guerrero took the mic, and to be honest you really don’t have to read his short introduction.  He said very little and then introduced Mr. Lennon.  Lennon’s portion is quite interesting, because he used his time to tell everyone about the improved graduation and retention rates among student-athletes, specifically men’s basketball players.  He noted that student-athletes in ALL sports, and “certainly men’s basketball, are continuing to outperform the student body” as a whole.  Sounds good.

Then came Mr. Shaheen’s turn.  That’s when it got interesting.

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Philadelphia University’s Magee Tries For #903 Tonight

Posted by jstevrtc on February 23rd, 2010

Herb Magee goes for his 903rd win as a college basketball coach tonight as he and his Philadelphia University Rams host Goldey-Beacom College.  A win this evening, if it happens, will put Magee at the top of the all-time NCAA wins list for a men’s basketball coach.  Magee tied Bobby Knight on that list this past Saturday by achieving his 902nd win in a buzzer-beater against Post University.

It’s easy to tilt our heads, offer a short patronizing applause, and then forget about men like Magee, or like Don Meyer, the all-time wins leader for a men’s college coach (many of his wins came at Lipscomb when they were a member of the NAIA) who announced that he’d be retiring at the end of this season, because they don’t coach at the so-called “elite” level.  But these men don’t need our patronization.  They don’t coach basketball because it’s cute, because it’s easy — yeah, you try it — or because they want attention.  Magee (and certainly Meyer) could have had all the attention he wanted, given the number of offers he’s had for higher profile jobs.  These are men who coach basketball and stay at the Division II level or lower because this is where they feel they can best be both coaches and educators.  It’s where they feel they can do the most good for their student/athletes when teaching them about existence both on and off the basketball floor, and/or because they know that the brighter spotlight inherent in the higher-profile jobs also comes with innumerable extra headaches that might compromise what they’re really out to achieve.

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Morning Five: 02.22.10 Edition

Posted by jstevrtc on February 22nd, 2010

  1. Appropriately, we begin with D2 Philadelphia University’s head coach Herb Magee winning his 902nd game on Saturday, which ties Bobby Knight for first place on the all-time NCAA victories list for a men’s basketball coach.  Magee, to whom the guys from our Backdoor Cuts feature devoted their column last week, has been at Philadelphia for 50 years — as a player from 1959-63, an assistant coach from 1963-67, and head coach since then — but his record-tying win wasn’t secured until the game’s very last second, when Philadelphia U.’s Jim Connolly hit a three-pointer to win it over Post University, 70-67.  Magee will go for win #903 at home against Goldey-Beacom College on Tuesday.
  2. Great stuff here from The Big Lead.  If you’re a college basketball player, it’s always important to listen to your coach, right?  Especially in a very important late-February game between a conference’s two best teams.  That can be tough, depending on what distractors are in the area.  In Saturday’s intense Kentucky vs. Vanderbilt game, while John Calipari was drawing up a play during a time out, the Wildcats’ DeMarcus Cousins was busted eyeballing an undeniably strong distractor in the form of a certain ESPN sideline reporter, not that we’re castin’ any stones…
  3. New York Times college sports reporter (and excellent tweeter) Pete Thamel had the privilege of spending his Saturday in Tempe, Arizona, the site of the secret little talks going on between USC and the NCAA’s infractions committee.  He logs an excellent summary here, with the reactions of two USC coaches (one current, one former) catching our eye:  1) we were moved to downright guffaws by the moral ascendancy Tim Floyd appears to be claming, as he opined that appearing before the committee was “the right thing to do,” and 2) we loved Lane Kiffin’s admission after the three-day hearings, proclaiming “I’ve never moved less in a 72-hour period,” which was only slightly shorter than his tenure in Knoxville.
  4. We also give Mr. Thamel an assist on this one, which we started checking out because of a tweet of his (seriously, he’s really good)…but it just keeps getting worse for Binghamton.  They’re now down to two coaches, now that assistant Marc Hsu has been placed on leave following a report by the school alleging that Hsu gave money to a player and did coursework for several members of the team.  Hsu hasn’t been on the bench for the last three games, and this suspension is indefinite.
  5. Oklahoma’s Willie Warren missed Saturday’s loss to Kansas State due to mononucleosis, a diagnosis that also caused him to sit out the Sooners’ loss to Oklahoma State two games ago.  Warren played in the loss at Colorado this past Wednesday, which struck us as odd, given the debilitating nature of mono and the fact that the older you are when you get it, the worse you usually feel.  If you’ve never had it, it causes flu-like symptoms but it absolutely drains you of energy.  What’s worse, in some cases it can cause enlargement of the spleen, an organ you don’t want to bust open, which is why kids and adolescents with mono are told to stay away from contact sports/ballet/wrestling with siblings/etc until further notice — usually at least a month.  You can also still spread it (through saliva) anywhere from six to 18 months after having it, and even though most people recover to full strength, the only treatments are the tinctures of time and rest.  The Sooners aren’t going dancing this year, and Warren’s health comes first, so we couldn’t blame the OU program if official word soon came down that Warren was going to miss the rest of the year.  Mononucleosis is no picnic, despite the fact that it gets glossed over quite frequently, so we hope Warren is back to his old self soon.
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The Knight/Self Matter: Your Move, General

Posted by jstevrtc on February 18th, 2010

Sherron Collins‘ line after logging 16 minutes in the first half of Kansas’ eventual win at Texas A&M on Monday night:  three points, 0-3 shooting from the floor, 3-4 from the free throw line, three turnovers, no assists.

Not exactly his best half, of course.  Is it worth a benching?

Bob Knight thought so on Monday.  Providing color commentary for ESPN’s broadcast, Knight proclaimed that he would have benched Collins to start the second half, presumably to send a message.  What would that message be, exactly?  We’re guessing something along the lines of, “Hey, Sherron.  Play better.  And if you don’t, someone else  (like Brady Morningstar) will, so you’re expendable.”

Knight benching tactic: shrewd or outdated?

Keep in mind…this is Sherron Collins.  Leading returning scorer for KU over the last two seasons.  Pre-season All-American.  This is the guy who came off the bench for 11 points, six assists, and three steals in the 2008 title game as s sophomore.  That Mario Chalmers three-pointer to tie it with 2.1 seconds left in that championship game?  Collins had the assist.  Just three weeks ago, this was the kid who cringed through back spasms that had his muscles knotting up as if they were in vise grips during the Kansas State game…and still, in overtime, in one of the most raucous road environments of recent memory, when it came time to drive to the basket and take contact with less than ten seconds left, said to his coach and his team (as he has in many similar situations), “I want the ball.”

So…expendable?  We know Knight was just talking about not starting Collins; he wasn’t proposing sitting him for the game.  That would have been ludicrous.  But aren’t you taking a chance with that tactic?  If you’re going to use it, you’d better be sure that your star player will hear the message you’re trying to send, as opposed to another one that would do more damage.

Knight has taken a few hits in the media about his pro-benching comment.  And now, Bill Self has responded.

On the weekly Kansas coaches’ Hawk Talk radio show, Self was asked about Knight’s statement.  His response:  “Well, I think Coach Knight is very very wise, obviously with winning games and having a great mind…to be honest, we’re not just trying to win the game.  We’re trying to win over time.  I don’t believe in showing guys that you don’t have faith in them when things are not going well, when they’ve delivered over and over for you.  I’d never do that.”

Bill Self stuck up for his point guard and sent a message to his players -- current and future.

On a few levels, that’s great stuff from Bill Self.  From my view, that really seems to represent how he feels and isn’t just lip service.  And if you’re a recruit, isn’t that what you love to hear?  I’d feel much better knowing that the coach I could end up playing for isn’t going to sit me down or possibly give up on me when I make a mistake, or even when I’ve had a bad half.  It would be good to know that, if I’ve come through for my team on several occasions, a single bad half isn’t going to trump all of that in my coach’s eyes.  The current Jayhawks have now also witnessed another example of how he’ll stick up for them, even in this case where it’s the winningest D1 college coach of all-time offering his opinions about them.   While simultaneously complimenting Knight — though Self probably didn’t mean to put this spin on it — Self’s response makes Knight look like a stodgy, outdated disciplinarian who advocates a mind-game approach to dealing with players.  I don’t mean to put words in Coach Self’s mouth, there.  But can you think of any big-time college basketball player these days who would respond well to such a tactic without losing a little faith in his coach?  Knight’s move may have worked on his players back in his earlier days at Indiana, but this is a different time.

What will be interesting, now, is whether or not someone from ESPN asks Knight on the air about Self’s response.  I doubt that will happen, so the matter is probably concluded.  You have to admit, though — it’d be great to hear, and you know The General would love to offer his opinion.  Maybe somebody on the ESPN GameDay crew will step up for us this weekend if Knight makes the trip to Seattle.

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