ATB: New Year’s Weekend Edition

Posted by rtmsf on January 3rd, 2011

The Lede.  Here’s hoping everyone had a very safe and happy New Year’s 2011.  Just typing those numbers makes it hard for us to believe that there are ten-year olds who never experienced the awesomeness of the 1990s.  Speaking of irrelevant references to timing, with the calendar change we’re now heading into the heart of the season.  Frankly, the first two months in some ways seemed interminable, with far too many mismatches merely acting as a prelude for the conference season where the contenders and pretenders will be inevitably ferreted out.  As a case in point, take a look at last year’s AP Top 10 from one year ago today.  Texas, a first-round NCAA loser, was #2; Kansas and Villanova, both second round losers, were #1 and #6, respectively; the #9 team, North Carolina, ended up in the NIT.  The lesson here is that there are no finished products yet — many teams have barely tested themselves, and it wouldn’t be the first time that a school with a lofty pre-conference record collapses after seeing its own blood on the road.  Who will those teams be?  We have some ideas but it’ll have to wait until later this week.

Your Watercooler MomentMemphis Fan Ejected From Game.  This is a no-brainer.  There weren’t all that many great games this weekend, but an incident that took place near the end of Memphis’ 91-86 win over Tennessee State on Sunday is what will be talked about on Monday morning.  After an on-court scrum where a prominent donor’s wife (is she really the spouse of the Lenny’s Sub Shop guy? — someone please confirm) got agitated from the front row and allegedly yelled at one of the TSU players to “choke on” his mouthpiece, the nearby referee Mark Whitehead threw her out of the game.  Yes, you read that correctly, a fan!  And not just any fan, but a middle-aged female fan who quite obviously presented a clear and present danger to the players on the floor, especially considering the way that she was pumping and waving around those blue pom-pons.  (h/t Chris Littman for the video)

Your Watercooler Moment, Vol. II. Dear Ron: Don’t Eff With Jeannine Edwards — Signed, Billy Gillispie.  This has absolutely nothing to do with college basketball per se, but it involves two media personalities who regularly cover the game and it’s hilarious nevertheless.  SportsByBrooks reported over the weekend that ESPN commentator Ron Franklin (he of the Big Twelve games, mostly) condescendingly called reporter Jeannine Edwards “sweetcakes” and “a-hole” during a production meeting prior to the Chick-Fil-A Bowl on New Year’s Eve.  Franklin was allowed to work that game but he was then pulled from the Fiesta Bowl radio broadcast on Saturday night.  We’re not sure if this is a much more common occurrence with female reporters or what, but people seem to enjoy talking down to Jeannine Edwards.  Former Kentucky coach Billy Gillispie of course was widely ridiculed for his treatment of the sideline reporter during an Ole Miss game in 2009, and many people in Wildcat country believe strongly that particular embarrassment was the straw that broke his back as the UK coach.  It’s undetermined what will happen to Franklin as a result of his latest comments, but it should be noted that he had a similar incident five years ago with Holly Rowe and he still remained with the company.  Will Jeannine go two-for-two in her latest battle of the sexes?  Let’s hope so.

This Weekend’s Quick Hits

  • Kansas: Best Team in America. So says Miami (OH) forward Antonio Ballard, whose team has had the privilege to play the top three teams in the polls so far this season.  The Red Hawks lost to Duke by 34, Ohio State by 21, and Kansas by 27, but it was the athleticism of the Morris twins who combined for 38/15 coming off the bench that seemed to make the biggest impression.
  • Illinois Starts off Big Ten 2-0.  The Illini got a key home win on Sunday with its victory over Wisconsin in Champaign.  Combined with a win at Iowa last week, and Bruce Weber’s team crystallizes just how important scheduling is in conference races.  A winnable road game followed by a home game against a team they’ll likely battle all year in the second tier of the conference race.  Contrast this with Minnesota who currently sits at 0-2 as a result of road games to Wisconsin and Michigan State.
  • Syracuse, Cincinnati & St. John’s Do Likewise.  With respect to SU and UC, again, scheduling.  Syracuse feasted on two more home meals with Seton Hall and Notre Dame visiting the Carrier Dome, while Cincy got DePaul and the Hall to visit the Queen City.  The anomaly of this group is Steve Lavin’s Johnnies.  Somehow the same team that lost to Fordham and St. Bonnie managed to get Big East road wins at WVU and Providence last week.  If his team is turning a corner, we’ll find out on Big Monday as they host Georgetown at MSG.
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Morning Five: 02.26.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on February 26th, 2010

  1. Robbie Hummel aftermath.  Obviously, Purdue losing Hummel to a season-ending ACL injury will get a lot of attention.  Here’s what some of the big names are writing about it – Gary Parrish, Jeff Goodman, Mike DeCourcy, Andy Glockner.  Everyone agrees that this is a situation that Purdue will not be able to overcome.  One thing’s for sure, though — America may have found its team to root for in the postseason this year.
  2. You gotta give it up for ESPN’s Jeannine Edwards going on John Calipari’s show and getting into a friendly banter about last year’s odd situation with former UK coach Billy Gillispie, well-chronicled on this very site.
  3. Expect this to enable a lot of snarky dialogue today in the blogosphere: FIU head coach Isiah Thomas was ejected from his team’s game against Middle Tennessee State last night (a loss, 74-71).   Thomas ran onto the court to protest a call and was thrown out for his behavior.  FIU is now 7-23 on the season and 4-13 in the Sun Belt Conference, in case you were wondering (and we know you were).
  4. Missouri’s Justin Safford joined Robbie Hummel with torn ACL injuries this week, but oddly, MU officials are leaving open the possibility of Safford returning to the team this season.  The junior starting forward tore the ligament in the Tigers’ blowout win over Colorado on Wednesday night, and he was averaging 9/4 in twenty minutes per game this year.
  5. Syracuse is expecting to set a new on-campus record for attendance at the Carrier Dome on Saturday night for their battle with Villanova.  34,616 tickets have been sold, nearly a thousand more than the previous record crowd in 2006 for Gerry McNamara’s last home game.
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Sources: Gillispie Era is Over at Kentucky

Posted by rtmsf on March 25th, 2009

If what we’re hearing from sources in Lexington is true (and apparently, Jeff Goodman is hearing the same things), Anthony Grant may want to tell Alabama that he kindly appreciates their offer but he’ll need a couple more days to think about things.   As always, the coaching carousel is getting into swing (with Dave Leitao at Virginia merely the first major casualty), but this year’s avalanche stands to once again begin at the very top of college hoops royalty known as Kentucky.   Should the Cats lose their quarterfinal NIT game tonight against Notre Dame, will that be the end of the BCG Era at UK?  Many people in Lexington think so. 


It’s no secret that the loyal followers of Big Blue are not exactly pleased with the way things have gone on the basketball court under the Gillispie regime.  Head-scratching substitution patterns, players refusing to enter games and/or leaving the team only to return later, the first NCAA whiff in an eligible year in twenty seasons…  but it’s been off-court issues that have also plagued Gillispie since his arrival in the Bluegrass that have amplified what goodwill he might otherwise have been afforded. 

His first year was filled with rumors of bar scenes where an inebriated Gillispie would make a fool of himself, getting to the point where UK was alleged to have hired a driver to keep him off the roads (even if unsubstantiated, the public perception was already enabled).  This led to speculation as to why Gillispie wouldn’t sign his contract with UK – instead working under a two-page Memorandum of Understanding – and subsequent allegations that his do-nothingness belied a motivation to avoid inclusion of a “morality clause” into the document.  Then there were the mystifyingly chilly interviews with ESPN’s Jeannine Edwards during the middle of this season, where “Billy Clyde” came off as a condescending putz unable to maintain decorum (with a lady, no less) in a public setting.  Sadly for Kentucky fans, a traditional bunch, these acts of show-your-arse by Gillispie fit the already-established narrative that their coach was a tough guy to deal with. 


As we all know, there are two parts to any job – the outcomes side and the political side.  If you’re really good at outcomes and miserable at politicking, you can still skate by for a good while before the pitchforks catch up to you.  However, if you’re patently unexceptional when it comes to outcomes and still miserable at the political side, good luck finding people who will support you when the barbarians are ultimately at the gate.  And at a program like Kentucky, the barbarians are never too far from the gate.  That’s where Gillispie is right now.  Had he come in two years ago and lit a fire under the UK program to the point where the Cats were still playing in the NCAAs, much of his general surliness and extracurricular activities, whatever they are, would be brushed aside.  But there’s a pervading sense around UK that the much-maligned previous coach, Tubby Smith, could have taken a team with two all-americans to a (severely diluted) SEC title and/or the first round of the NCAAs.  Gillispie couldn’t even do that.  

So for Gillispie the equation looks like this – outcomes: mediocre + politics: miserable =  join the rest of us in the unemployment line.   

The question will now become… who?  where?  when?  One would think Billy Donovan (yes, him again), Travis Ford, Darrin Horn and even John Pelphrey would be on the short list of hopefuls.  Even John Calipari is purportedly intrigued.   It should definitely make for an interesting next couple of weeks as the shakedowns begin in earnest. 

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ATB: Kevin Stallings Doesn’t Think Jeannine Edwards Asks Bad Questions

Posted by rtmsf on February 18th, 2009


ESPN Ruins Gillispie-Edwards Part III. If you read our post on this today, you know that we sorta saw this coming.  As much as ESPN tried to officially act that the blogosphere doesn’t exist, they undoubtedly knew that the biggest attraction of tonight’s games was the potential for another icy conversation between Jeannine Edwards and Billy Gillispie.   So short of a major blowup by Gillispie, the game producers weren’t about to let that happen.  Instead they gave us the amiable  Vandy coach, Kevin Stallings, who wasn’t about to berate Jeannine Edwards for her questions.  Thanks, WWL.

Update: The Nashville Tennessean reported today that Edwards made the decision to “cut her losses” by interviewing Stallings instead of Gillispie.  Avoidance – the classic, tried-and-true female strategy. 

Vanderbilt 77, Kentucky 64.  As for this game, Kentucky is now in serious trouble of missing the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1991.  With Patrick Patterson on the shelf because of a sore ankle, UK only had one offensive weapon, and Jodie Meeks’ 26 wasn’t enough as UK dropped to 18-8 and 7-4 in the SEC.  In a normal year for the SEC, they’d be in good shape, but this league is shaping up as a 3- or 4-bid conference, and UK’s RPI is hovering in the 60s with games still looming at South Carolina and Florida.   We figure UK needs to go 4-1 the rest of the way to remain squarely in the conversation.  Anything less and it’s SEC Tournament run or bust.

Purdue 72, Michigan St. 54.  Purdue got Robbie Hummel back for this game, and Purdue is a much better team when he is on the floor.  The Boilermakers held MSU to 33% shooting from the field, and it was clear early in the second half that Tom Izzo’s squad wasn’t going to make a comeback in this one.  MSU is really capable of laying gigantic eggs on occasion, even now that they have all their pieces back, and we’re not sure what that means for the Spartans come March, but it’s probably not a good thing.

Some Other Games on a Quiet Tuesday Night.

  • Clemson 93, Maryland 64. Clemson dropped 59 on the Terps in the second half behind Trevor Booker’s 11/14, including at least one jaw-dropping follow slam.  The Tigers moved into a five-way tie for second in the ACC (all with 4 losses).
  • Marquette 79, Seton Hall 67.  Wesley Matthews had 24/4/4 assts in a game where Marquette only woke up in the mid-second half to put Seton Hall away.
  • Creighton 89, Evansville 84.  Creighton has gotten itself in position to become the second MVC team into the Tourney (the bracket matrix has CU on the brink) with their seventh straight win.
  • BYU 73, New Mexico 62.  Jonathan Tavernari had 22/7 as BYU kept the pace with San Diego St. at 8-3 in the Mountain West.

On Tap Wednesday (all times EST).

  • Miami (FL) @ Florida St. (ESPNU) – 7pm.  Key bubble game in the ACC race.
  • Alabama @ Florida – 7pm.  Must-win for the Gators at home.
  • Georgetown @ South Florida (ESPN360) – 7pm.  Speaking of must-wins, Georgetown can’t afford a Marquette showing here.
  • Notre Dame @ West Virginia (ESPN360) – 7pm.   Who wants to make the NCAA Tournament, third edition.
  • Penn St. @ Illinois – 7pm.  PSU’s dwindling NCAA chances could really use an upset here.
  • Citadel @ Davidson – 7pm.  If Curry doesn’t play, Citadel could give DC a game here.
  • Drexel @ George Mason – 7pm.  A key game in the CAA for two teams trying to catch VCU and Northeastern (one game ahead).
  • Providence @ Louisville (ESPN2) – 7:30pm.  Despite being 8-5 in the Big East, PC’s RPI is not impressive (#69), so they need this game desperately.
  • Georgia Tech @ Wake Forest – 7:30pm.  Can Georgia Tech win its second game of the ACC season against the only team it’s beaten so far?
  • Tennessee @ Ole Miss (ESPN360) – 8pm.  UT can’t afford another bad loss.
  • NC State @ UNC (ESPN360) – 8pm.  NC State is playing better, but don’t expect an upset here.
  • Virginia Tech @ Virginia (ESPN360) – 8pm.  Can UVa pull another upset at home?
  • South Carolina @ Mississippi St. – 8pm.  Key bubble game in the SEC between two surprise teams.
  • LSU @ Arkansas – 8pm.  Can the Hawgs pull another home upset against a ranked team?
  • Ohio St. @ Northwestern – 9pm.  NW has proven tough at home, OSU had better bring its best game.
  • Oklahoma St. @ Texas Tech (ESPN2) – 9pm.  What a terrible nationally-televised game.
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Game Night: Billy Gillispie vs. Jeannine Edwards

Posted by rtmsf on February 17th, 2009

Other than Michigan St. @ Purdue tonight (and really, who wants to watch that?), the games tonight are quite pedestrian.  So piggybacking a report from SportsbyBROOKS yesterday (via Deadspin) that the root of the frosty relations between Kentucky capo Billy Gillispie and ESPN sideline reporter Jeannine Edwards goes back to her refusal to enjoy consensual carnal relations with go out with him, we feel compelled to comment on such a weighty matter.

(photo credit: sportsbyBrooks)

(photo credit: sportsbyBrooks)

You may recall our first inkling of their tiff on January 27 when UK played at Ole Miss.  Gillispie was unhappy with his team and thought Edwards’ question was particularly bad, so he told her so. 

Then last week during the UK-Florida game at Rupp, Gillispie seemingly mocked Edwards as he pretended to not hear her question before telling her that she “would know better than” him when it came to, you know, basketball…  stuff.  We even wrote at the time that maybe there was more to his condescension than met the eye. 

So what’s the story here?  The easy answer is that, yeah, Gillispie is peeved that Edwards denied his amorous advances, but as any female aged 18-50 who lives in the Lexington area knows, Billy Clyde isn’t exactly the kind of chap who takes the word “no” to heart.  And that of course assumes he can even remember it.  No, Gillispie has beef with Edwards, but that’s probably because he’s a chauvanist men’s basketball coach who doesn’t respect her position rather than any particular incident involving dating her.  Come on, ladies of Lexington… you gals who frequent Harry’s after games and have fallen into the Gillispie Fly Trap – feel free to chime in here. 

Nevertheless, sideshows sell and so we come to tonight’s UK @ Vanderbilt Jodie Meeks game, and guess who is scheduled to once again be the sideline reporter?  Yep, Ms. Jeannine Edwards.   Is there any question that ESPN’s halftime interview split ratings will be the highest of any game all season long? 

Of course, if Vandy somehow does something interesting for the first time in the history of that school, maybe ESPN will avoid this whole sordid mess by interviewing Kevin Stallings instead.  Wouldn’t that be rich?

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ATB: Define “Game Face,” Mr. Calathes

Posted by rtmsf on February 11th, 2009


First, Some News & Notes.

  • UCLA’s Drew Gordon may be slowed down by back spams in the Bruins’ next game at Arizona St. on Thursday night.
  • Pat Forde shows which schools are basketball-philic through an interesting analysis of attendance and success this season.
  • We give approximately a 1% chance that this girl is actually Duke forward Miles Plumlee’s girlfriend, and approximately 0.01% chance that she goes to school at Duke.  Everybody knows all the Dookies do their chasing of tails over at Carolina (with good reason).
No Way She’s From Duke (photo credit: Uncoached)

Getting Down To Business With Rivalry Week.

  • Kentucky 68, Florida 65. This was the game of the night, by far.  For a while it appeared that Nick Calathes’ “game face” (according to Jimmy Dykes) was going to carry the Gators to their eighth victory in nine tries against UK, but Jodie Meeks’ (23/5) ridiculous nearly-falling-down-then-recovering three from the left elbow, followed by Calathes’ (33/7/3 assts) “choke face” missing all three of his FTs (the last intentionally) that would have tied the game, ensured that wouldn’t happen.  UK staved off what would have been another devastating home loss, and kept their NCAA hopes alive for a couple more weeks, whereas Florida is probably still ok unless they go on a severe drought (not impossible with this mentally fragile group).  But several other interesting things happened in this game.  First, Patrick Patterson was carried off the court midway through the second half with what appeared to be a sprained right ankle, and there’s no word on his status yet, but if he’s out for any significant amount of time, UK could be in serious trouble in the short term.  Second, the call where Walter Hodge was ejected for stepping on Perry Stevenson’s arm in what was clearly (to us) an accidental mis-step was a clear example of the Aubrey Coleman Effect – a month ago he would not have been thrown out of the game for that “offense.”  Finally, does any coach in American despise a sideline reporter as much as Billy Gillispie does Jeannine Edwards?  Seriously, the contempt is palpable.  In recent weeks, he’s spot-analyzed her question (conclusion: bad), pretended not to hear her and made a snide reference to she “would know better than him.”  What’s wrong, Billy G – did Ms. Edwards turn you down for a date at Harry’s?  (to be fair, Edwards is painful to listen to, but it just seems as if Gillispie has an elevated distate for her questions)

  • Michigan St. 54, Michigan 42. MSU gave one of its strongest defensive efforts of the year, holding its rival Michigan to 35% shooting and 17% from three on its home floor tonight.  This was especially true because UM, who had lost six of its last eight, really needed a signature late-season win to showcase along with its early season victories over Duke and UCLA for the NCAA Tourney Committee.  MSU’s Delvon Roe had 14/10 as he continues to make his way back from multiple offseason knee surgeries – if he, along with Goran Suton, Raymar Morgan and an assorted cast of Spartans, are completely healthy come March, this is a different team than the one we saw UNC emasculate at Ford Field back in early December.
  • Villanova 102, Marquette 84. Seems like a long time ago when Marquette was undefeated in the Big East, doesn’t it?  Props to whomever we read today that predicted Villanova (not Marquette) would end up in the top 4 of the Big East Tourney (Katz?  Goodman?).  In a statistical oddity, Villanova hit between 54-59% of every shooting category, which is largely a good thing (except FTs, of course).  The Cats hit 13 threes en route to 59% overall to score 100+ pts for the second consecutive game.   Scottie Reynolds (27/4) and Corey Fisher (21/4) did the most damage, but this game was an offensive player’s paradise – nine players hit double figures.  Marquette was led by (who else?) Jerel McNeal’s 23/4/7 assts, but the Golden Eagles suddenly look like a team with severe limitations defensively.  They get a two-game breather before the crucible hits.

Other Games That Caught Your Fancy.

  • Florida St. 68, Virginia 57.  Is there a Dave Leitao watch yet?  If not, when will there be?  Does 60-55 (24-33 ACC) over four years cut it?  Regardless, UVa lost its eighth consecutive game, and FSU solidified its standing in third place in the conference (tied at 6-3 with Clemson).
  • Providence 77, South Florida 62. PC avoided the fate that befell Marquette at USF, and in so doing, continues to gum up the works in the second tier of the Big East for schools like Syracuse and Georgetown.
  • Texas 99, Oklahoma St. 74. UT easily avoided its first four-game losing streak in a long time by putting four players in double figures, led by AJ Abrams’ 20,and holding everyone except James Anderson (35 pts) down for OSU.
  • Clemson 87, Boston College 77. In a game that would potentially define the relative directions of both of these teams, Clemson played a strong second half behind Terrence Oglesby’s 21 pts (6 threes) and came away with a road win to go to 6-3 in the ACC.  RTC Live was there.
  • Minnesota 62, Indiana 54. The Gophers avoided a letdown loss they couldn’t well afford behind reserve forward Paul Carter’s 22/6 off the bench.  No other Gopher hit double figures.
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