ATB: UCLA Struck Down by a Phog Phantom (in a striped shirt with a whistle)

Posted by rtmsf on December 3rd, 2010

The Lede. It was billed as a probable blowout, but when you place two of the game’s regal programs on the same floor with two of the best coaches in the business standing opposite one another, we all knew better. Kansas and UCLA represent about a million wins, a couple hundred conference titles and several dozen national championships (Helms titles included!) — well, at least it feels that way. The point is that no matter the present rankings, so long as Bill Self and Ben Howland are patrolling the sidelines at these two schools, they’ll always be competitive. Tonight’s game personified that word, competitive. Too bad it got ruined by an egregious whistle made by an official who needs to remember to let the kids decide the game.

KU Got the Call It Wanted At This Moment (LJW/N. Krug)

Your Watercooler Moment. Foul or not a foul? Should a referee make the same call with 19:01 on the clock as he does with 00:01 on the clock? These questions were the biggest story in the Big 12/Pac-10 Hardwood Series game between Kansas and UCLA this evening. After 39 minutes and 59 seconds of back-and-forth basketball between two of the sport’s bluest of bloods, the game balanced on a loose ball situation where a UCLA player bumped a Kansas player as both pursued the rock. Kansas guard Mario Little arrived at the ball a split-second prior to UCLA’s Malcolm Lee, and the referee on the near-side thought the ensuing bump with 0.7 seconds remaining on the clock was sufficient to justify blowing the whistle. From our view (and most of America’s, if Twitter is any indication), that’s a bit of contact that you don’t call at any point of the basketball game, but ESPECIALLY not in a tie game such as this one with under a second to play. Although ours appears to be the majority viewpoint, there are alternate ones: ESPN’s Fran Fraschilla, for instance, stated that he believed the bump was a foul at any point of the game, and it was in fact the correct call. Gary Parrish says that there’s something for everyone in that play — KU fans, UCLA fans, and the fence-sitters. UCLA head coach Ben Howland, however, only saw it one way, throwing down a water bottle in disgust before later saying that it was a poor way to end the game. Star of the night Tyler Honeycutt said afterward, “as refs, you’re supposed to just let that go.” If this were the NBA, both UCLA player and coach would be facing hefty fines from the league, but we think that the Pac-10 will cut them some slack here, because, well, they’re right. But don’t take our word for it, check it out for yourself.

We were also lucky enough to have our correspondent Brian Goodman at the game in Allen Fieldhouse tonight. He filed this report after the exciting 77-76 finish.

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Morning Five: 09.21.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on September 21st, 2010

  1. In documents obtained as a result of a FOIA request by’s Dana O’Neil, Tennessee self-reported several NCAA violations including over a hundred illegal phone calls to recruits over a period of two years.  Again with the phone calls?  Bruce Pearl stated at a coaching clinic on Sunday that he hopes that the violations do not “rise to the level of termination,” and it’s true that his number of calls are nowhere near the telephonic orgy promulgated by Kelvin Sampson and friends, but that’s not his biggest problem.  His biggest problem will be how the NCAA chooses to handle the outright lie Pearl hurled into their faces when queried as to a photo taken in his home of recruit Aaron Craft and himself.  We’re not sure how this will turn out, although fundamentally we think Pearl will keep his job; but these coaches need to reach for something other than the damn phone when they get a hankering to reach out to one of their prized recruits — sheesh.
  2. It was a very tough freshman year for Duke sophomore Andre Dawkins, but after leaving high school a year early to matriculate at Duke and subsequently losing his sister to a fatal car accident in early December 2009, you can understand why.  The understated 19-year old who averaged 4.4 PPG in spot minutes in the backcourt faces even more competition for minutes this season with Kyrie Irving and Seth Curry both on board, but somehow we figure he’ll work his way into the rotation in much the same way that he did last year when it counted against Baylor (two threes in the first half to help keep Duke in contact with the Bears).  We certainly wish him the best.
  3. We’re not gamers around here at the RTC headquarters, but sometimes we kinda wish we were.  That is, until we learned that there actually isn’t a college basketball game that you can buy these days, a lamentable situation if ever we’ve heard one.  Seriously — you can purchase a game called Nintendogs where you take care of your virtual puppy along with the rest of the humanoids (23.3M sold), but you can’t buy a single college basketball game even though there were once two offered (EA’s NCAA Basketball & 2kSports’ College Hoops).  How is this possible?
  4. Gary Parrish recently wrote a story about UNC’s Tyler Zeller and his injury proneness (or lack thereof), but the part of the article that really caught our eye was this statement: …Zeller would later tell me as we sat in an empty Dean Smith Center, those six national championship banners hanging above us. While technically true (there are six national championship banners hanging in the Smith Center), it’s also quite misleading.  We’ve harped for years that Helms Titles (ex post facto national titles given by the Helms Foundation to schools prior to the origin of the NCAA Tournament in 1939 — they still awarded titles after 1939, but they’re redundant and virtually ignored after that point) are nice additions to the historical tapestry of college basketball at places like UNC (1924), Penn (1920, 1921) and even Montana State (1929), but they’re in no way legitimate and have absolutely no place hanging as banners alongside hard-earned championship teams like those at UNC in 1957, 1982, 1993, 2005 and 2009.  To do so is simply marketing — an effort to persuade journos and others to repeat more impressively, “six national titles,” instead of the actual five — and we’re surprised to have seen the usually-reliable Parrish fall into that well-placed trap here.
  5. Blue Ribbon has released its preseason top 25 for the 2010-11 season.  There is simply no better print edition yearbook in existence out there, and it’s great to see our friends over at CCT pairing up with B/R — two class acts, there.  We love the Ohio State pick at #3, by the way.  A lot of folks will shy away from the Buckeyes this year without Evan Turner, but with the addition of Jared Sullinger and a ton of talent returning, the Bucks could end up better.
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Morning Five: 12.28.09 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on December 28th, 2009

  1. Yep, Kentucky fans are like elephants.  Big, smelly, fat and with long trunks.  Oh, and the memory thing too.  As for this weekend’s tilt against Pitino’s Louisville, we expect the signs to be off the charts funny.  RTC will send $25 (hey, we’re cheap) to the most clever sign-holder we see this weekend (standard liability disclaimers apply).
  2. Mark Titus – if you didn’t already know him, you should now.
  3. Celebrating Helms Titles – apparently UNC and Kansas are the only two major programs who do so.  Where do you stand on this issue?
  4. Looks like K-State’s Frank Martin is proving all the naysayers wrong after all.
  5. Wichita State — a mid-major we should all be watching this season.
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Columbia has as many titles as Duke??

Posted by rtmsf on May 22nd, 2007

One thing that a casual fan of college basketball may never hear about unless he makes a practice of sifting through the detritus of message boards is the curious case of Helms Foundation titles. Everyone knows about NCAA titles – UCLA has 11, Kentucky 7, Indiana 5, UNC 4, and so on down the list. But not everybody is aware of these Helms championships, and with good reason.

Helms National Champ

National Champions?

In 1936, Bill Schroeder and Paul Helms created the Helms Athletic Foundation (now defunct) in Los Angeles, a panel of experts in college basketball and football who were tasked with designating retroactive “champions” and all-america teams for each year since the inception of the sport (football in 1883; basketball in 1901). Keeping in mind that this group formed in the mid-1930s, they had very little in the way of substantive evidence on which to make their decisions, other than personal recollections and (perhaps) newspaper clippings of the games. This is a surely a long way removed from the modern analysis involving strength of schedules, efficiency ratings and RPIs – analytical tools that results in an invitation for a chance to win the national championship!

We won’t even get into the ridiculousness of the modern BCS rankings in college football, but suffice it to say that given the evidentiary limitations of the times, a Helms title that was given retroactively is at best a loosely educated guess of who may have been the best team during a particular year. Who can honestly say that the Helms Champion 1906 Dartmouth (16-2) squad was better than every other team that season (irrespective, it’s always Drinking Time at Dartmouth)? It’s difficult enough to make such an assessment in today’s environment, even with bountiful video and statistical data on every team available in seconds – imagine doing it without ever seeing a team or their opponents play a single game! Which is, of course, essentially what the Helms Foundation did when making its selections.

Keggy the Keg

Is Keggy the Keg aware of Dartmouth’s National Championship?

So why is this relevant to today’s game, and by proxy, this blog? Ten years ago it wouldn’t have been. But nowadays, this has become a fairly contentious issue amongst some of the game’s bluebloods. Most notably, UNC has inarguably been touting its retroactive 1924 Helms title as a championship on equal footing with its four NCAA titles in its media guides and other media outlets (ESPN, CBS, etc.). It also has a banner celebrating this championship hanging next to its NCAA championship banners in the Dean Dome (see the 1:00 minute mark). And Heel fans can also purchase replica banners, including one honoring the 1924 champions, at a store on Franklin St. in Chapel Hill. In a sport that has always crowned its champions at every level in a tournament format, this does not sit well with members of other traditional powers, especially at Kentucky and Kansas, where the message boards enjoy periodic states of delirium over this issue.

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