ATB: Coaches vs. Cancer Edition

Posted by rtmsf on November 19th, 2010

We’re going to make this one fairly quick as it’s a travel day here at the RTC west coast compound.  Gotta get to Maui…

Tonight’s Quick Hits…

  • Talib Zanna.  The Pitt freshman is making the most of his opportunity to start, going for 14/12 in the first double-double of his young career.  He’s now averaging 10/9 in four games and proves once again that Jamie Dixon really knows how to find recruiting diamonds in the rough.  This guy wasn’t even a top 150 player on Rivals (although he was listed as the #10 center on Scout).
  • Coming Out Party of Harrison Barnes.  In a mere half of action, Barnes showed everyone watching why he is considered the top amateur talent in the world right now.  He hit all four of his trey attempts en route to a 19/7 first half that allowed UNC for at least a game to look like the dominant force they usually are under Roy Williams.  If the Heels destroy Minnesota as easily as they did “Hoftra,” then we may want to re-assess our preseason ranking of them.
  • Dogus Balbay & Tristan Thompson.  Balbay’s late game defense on Illinois’ Demetri McCamey allowed his Longhorns to seize control of the semifinal game of the CvC, while Thompson did just about everything else — 20/7/4 assts/3 stls/5 blks for the budding superstar.  It’s never too early for UT to tank, but so far this team seems to like playing together a lot more than last year’s team did.
  • Georgetown Guards.  The Hoya trio of Austin Freeman, Chris Wright and Jason Clark scored 54 points and dropped 17 assists in an easy win over Coastal Carolina at the Charleston Classic.  This is all fine and well until the guards go cold from outside — they hit 14 threes tonight, but we seriously doubt that’ll be the norm.

…and Misses.

  • K-State Looking Ahead.  Here’s how you know that you’re a top-shelf program.  You don’t look past teams like Presbyterian because you’re playing Gonzaga and Duke next.  If you feel that you’re on par with those programs, there’s no reason to look ahead.  KSU was only up 69-65 against the Blue Hose with 2:30 remaining.  That level of effort won’t work in the CBE Classic on Monday/Tuesday.
  • Madison Square Garden.  It’s difficult for us to believe that MSG is the self-described Mecca of College Basketball when New Yorkers don’t fill the seats for four quality teams such as Texas, Pitt, Illinois and Maryland.  We’ve been there a few times ourselves and even when local favorites Syracuse and UConn were playing, there were still seats available.  Give us a college arena with people packed in like sardines to the rafters any day.
  • Missouri’s Late Start.  As the last team in the country to play its season opener, Mizzou looked terrible.  How bad was it against Western Illinois?  For the first time in 59 years, the Tigers won a game without a single double-figure scorer.  Ugh.

Tweet of the Night.  This one didn’t have to do with any of tonight’s games, but it’s an 8.8 on the unintentional comedy scale.  Have at it, UNC fans…

RTC Live. We were back at the 2kSports Coaches vs. Cancer for the second year in a row, and we got to see two pretty good games.

#5 Pittsburgh 79, Maryland 70.  Maryland hung tough with a very good Pitt team on Thursday night. The Panthers’ focus coming in was slowing down Maryland’s Jordan Williams, and they did a pretty good job of it for the first 35 minutes of the game. With Brad Wanamaker and Ashton Gibbs both playing subpar basketball, Talib Zanna stepped up to the tune of 14 points and 12 boards. In a closely contested first half, Jordan Williams picked up two fouls early on. After he would come out of the game, Pitt hit the Terps with 22-8 run. And while Maryland’s back court — Cliff Tucker, Terrell Stoglin, Adrian Bowie — led the charge back, Pitt threw a counter-punch with Nasir Robinson’s three point play. Maryland never threatened again.

Texas 90, #16 Illinois 84 (OT). Texas got a dominating performance out of Tristan Thompson. The talented big fella went for 20 points, seven boards and four assists. Jordan Hamilton, the Longhorns’ best player, went for 21 points.  After watching Illinois suffer a disappointing, 90-84 overtime loss to Texas in the nightcap of the Coaches vs. Cancer semifinals at Madison Square Garden, I can’t help but ask those same questions of Illinois. The Illini are a talented team. There is no questioning that. Demetri McCamey is a scoring guard that became the nation’s leader in assists last season. Brandon Paul and DJ Richardson, known last year as a promising but inconsistent freshmen duo, are back for their sophomore seasons as McCamey’s sidekicks. Mike Tisdale, Mike Davis, and Meyers Leonard provide a long and versatile front court, while Bill Cole and Jereme Richmond are combo-forwards that give Bruce Weber the option of playing really big or really small. On paper, this is a team that is good enough to contend for the Final Four. But projected success on paper is far from a sure thing once the teams take the court.

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Morning Five: 08.17.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on August 17th, 2010

  1. Let us introduce you to the Crossroads Classic, a new four-team event beginning in 2011 that will feature the major college basketball programs in the state of Indiana in a made-for-TV doubleheader — Purdue, Butler, Indiana and Notre Dame.  The 2011 and 2012 events will take place at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, with IU playing Notre Dame and Purdue taking on Butler in the first edition.  Indiana and Purdue will switch opponents in 2012, presumably leading to a back-and-forth matchup cycle for the life of this event.  We’re not old enough to remember the original Hoosier Classic that featured these four teams from 1948-60, but we do recall the “Big Four Classic” event in Indy from the late 80s/early 90s that matched IU and Notre Dame against Kentucky and Louisville in alternating years, and that was pretty cool.  Let’s hope this becomes a new annual holiday tradition with some staying power as well.
  2. Former Purdue head coach Gene Keady has been chosen as one of the 2010 recipients of the Joe Lapchick Character Award, annually given to coaches who have shown character traits over their career mimicking that of the former St. John’s legend.  At Purdue, Keady won six Big Ten championships and was invited to seventeen NCAA Tournaments, but he was never able to push through to the promised land of the Final Four, twice reaching the Elite Eight and losing in that round.  Still, he is widely regarded as a man of great integrity, pushing his players to a 90% graduation rate throughout his career, assisting USA Basketball and acting as president for the NABC at one point.  Bob Hurley, Sr., head coach at Jersey City St. Anthony’s, and Jody Conradt, women’s coach at Texas, will join Keady in accepting the award at the semifinals of the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic in New York on November 18.
  3. In a cost-savings measure, the NCAA announced yesterday that it would be cutting some of its drug-testing program to more effectively target the higher-risk sports and athletes for testing.  In other words, profiling.  Translation: if you play football, baseball, run track or lift weights, expect to see more of those nerdy-looking people in the white coats asking for urine samples.
  4. We hope to have more up on the ESPN 24 Hours of Hoops spectacuganza soon, but what if Transformers/The Rock/Armageddon director Michael Bay got his hands on the direction of this event?  Andrew Sharp of SBNation takes a look, and if nothing else, the photoshops are kinda funny.  Especially the one involving Bruce Pearl (paging Tyler Smith…).
  5. St. John’s head coach Steve Lavin is already thinking outside the box, in that he actually wants his team to have a nice locker room at its home arena, Madison Square Garden.  Imagine that!  Apparently the Red Storm have traditionally used an auxiliary locker room at MSG, but officials are exploring the possibility of allowing Lavin’s team to use the Knicks’ locker room for their home games.  And how long has it been since the Red Storm has been relevant?  We probably shouldn’t be amazed by this news, but we kinda are.
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March Moment: The Garden in ’71

Posted by jstevrtc on March 24th, 2010

Few college basketball fans are born with their love for the game. For most aficionados, at some point on the way from infancy to college hoops fan, there is a moment. A single play, shot, player, game, or event at which point they say to themselves, “I will always have this in my life.” Because it is the time of the season that carries the most gravitas, these things often happen in March. We asked some of our friends and correspondents: what was the thing that turned you into a lifelong college basketball fan? What was your…March Moment? We’ll be posting some of their answers for the rest of the month.

In this edition, RTC correspondent Ray Floriani remembers a New York City night in 1971 that altered his perception of winning and losing, how he was affected by both, and how it all cemented his love for our game:

NEW YORK CITY – The intensity, excitement and general myraid of emotions packed into that March evening will probably never be duplicated. It was the ultimate heartbreaker. At the same time, this was the one. The game and experience that certifiably had yours truly hooked on basketball, notably college basketball, as the favorite sport. One that transformed a casual observer into a devout follower.

Mention “the Georgia Tech game in the NIT” and any St. Bonaventure fan who can remember gas being under a buck a gallon will recall the year (1971) , the date (March 25), the circumstance and how it played out.  A little background…

The 1970-71 season was my freshman year at St. Bonaventure. The previous March the Bonnies made it to the Final Four and if Bob Lanier hadn’t been injured late in the East Regional final against Villanova, who knows? UCLA’s national championship run might have been interrupted.

Larry Weise, St. Bonaventure coach from 1961-73

The team lost Lanier and a top notch lead guard in Billy Kalbaugh. There was optimism though as the returnees had experienced winning and approached the season with a positive mindset. Among the veterans returning for coach Larry Weise were Greg Gary, Matt Gantt, Dale Tepas, and Paul Hoffman. Gantt, at 6-5, was the big man.  An incredible leaper, Gantt was the prototype “frequent flyer” who could make life miserable for opponents five (or more) inches taller. Sophomore Carl Jackson was up from the freshman team (they had them back then). Overall, there was talent.

I had the good fortune to get into the program as one of the team managers.  It was a job I did four years in high school and would do four years at Bonaventure. The season went extremely well with the Bonnies, ranked high as 11th at one point, finishing 18-5.  Back then 25 teams made the NCAA tournament and with the East basically a group of independents, as Bonaventure was, you needed a great record to get in.  The Bonnies accepted an NIT bid. Again, in that day it was a 16 team field with all games contested at Madison Square Garden.

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Floriani Finds Husky Spirit In The Garden

Posted by jstevrtc on December 9th, 2009

Ray Floriani of College Chalktalk is the RTC correspondent for the MAAC and NEC conferences, covers all levels of basketball in the New York City area, and is at Madison Square Garden for the Jimmy V Classic.

NEW YORK CITY – Think of the University of Connecticut and the images of excellence, outstanding coaching and regular post-season appearances come to mind.  For the men, women and cheerleaders.  The UConn Spirit program website proclaims the program purpose and mission statement with the headline “University Spirit, Pride, Tradition.”

The program is under the auspices of new coach Sarah Mickels.  A 2006 graduate of the University of Tennessee, Sarah was on the dance team and has 20 years of experience in dance.  In addition, she is an accomplished veteran in coaching, with experience at the youth, high school and collegiate levels.  And, as she indicates with a smile, any possible UT-UConn matchup in women’s basketball would be quite interesting from an emotional allegiance standpoint.

Even the loss to Duke doesn't dampen their enthusiasm.

Even the loss to Duke doesn't dampen their enthusiasm.

One of the major changes in the program was combining the cheer group.  In the past there were two groups.  One cheered the men’s team, the other cheered the women.  Now the squad is one 24-person unit.  “I think it’s great (the change),” said senior co-captain Heather Heimann.  “I love it.  It gives us a chance to work with everyone, meet new people and teach the younger cheerleaders in the program.”  A native of New Rochelle, New York, Heather is a marketing major who cheered four years in high school. She has an extensive background in gymnastics which is vital to make it on the college level.  You don’t simply go out on the floor during time-outs and automatically do back flips the length of three quarters of the court.

At UConn, besides the mandatory two-to-three-hour practices several days per week, cheerleaders have specific academic requirements.  “We must maintain a 2.5 GPA,” Heather said.  “We have grade sheets filled by our professors and submitted (to the coach).”  In preparation for travel to New York for Wednesday’s Big East-SEC matchup with Kentucky, Samantha Strumbolo, another senior co-captain, echoed the academic emphasis noting,  “I’m glad we have the late class because we won’t miss class before heading to New York.”

Overall, the squad change was for the better.  Last year Heather cheered for the women but attended the men’s game as more of a fan.  Now she has the opportunity to be on the floor and cheer both programs.  Football is also part of the cheerleading experience.  For Heather a major highlight was the recent Husky win at Notre dame in overtime.  “Cheering in front of 80,000 fans at Notre Dame Stadium was great,” she said.  “Winning in overtime was unbelievable.”  It’s just a few weeks between the storied Notre Dame Stadium to “the world’s most famous arena,” at Madison Square Garden  — an exciting agenda on the cheer schedule.

For their part, the UConn cheerleaders and the Husky provide their own excitement and keep the crowd involved.  “One of the big changes this year allows us to go into the stands and get the fans really involved.  It is a whole new tradition.”

In the UConn cheer program, a tradition that has not been altered is one of representing the school in a classy and entertaining manner.  Excellence —  the expectation, not just an objective.  The same as it is for the programs for which they cheer.

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RTC Live: Coaches vs. Cancer Semifinals (Cal vs. Syracuse; UNC vs. Ohio State)

Posted by rtmsf on November 19th, 2009

RTCLive

Welcome back to RTC Live, and tonight is arguably the best night of the new season thus far.  Tuesday was pretty good with Michigan State – Gonzaga and Kansas – Memphis, but tonight we’ll be privileged to bring you four top 25 teams, all of whom have serious Final Four aspirations this season.  Plus, it’s the Garden!  The self-proclaimed “Mecca of College Basketball,” site of countless amazing games over the years.  In the first tilt, California will travel the 3000 miles to face Syracuse in an interesting contrast of strengths and weaknesses for each team.  If Jerome Randle and Patrick Christopher dial in from long range, it could be a long night for the Orange; alternatively, if the Cuse defense is harassing them into rushed shots, then Cal could quickly get exposed as a one-dimensional team again.  In the nightcap, we’ll have Evan Turner’s multi-dimensional skill set taking on North Carolina, a team that hasn’t looked great so far this season, but we know has talent at every position across the lineup.  How will OSU counter all of the Heels’ size and what does Roy Williams plan on doing to slow Turner (19/17/7 assts) down?  It should be a great night in New York City and we hope to see you around over the course of the evening.

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Six OTs in New York, Revisited

Posted by rtmsf on March 14th, 2009

Ray Floriani of College Chalktalk is the RTC correspondent for the MAAC and NEC Conferences, but he found himself in MSG on Thursday night for the Big East classic between Syracuse and UConn.

uconn-syracuse-final

NEW YORK CITY – It has been billed a classic. Some are calling it the greatest college basketball game ever. What ever the opinion, the 6 OT UConn-Syracuse marathon was discussed quite frequently on Friday.  The game was almost missed by yours truly. In the spring I officiate girls’ lacrosse and had a mandatory state meeting in Millburn, New Jersey. The meeting was set for 6:30 and expected to end at 8 or so. That would allow plenty of time to drive the 24 miles to MSG in non-rush hour traffic. The last game of the night starts around 9:30 so I thought getting to one quarterfinal is better than none.

Our meeting went a little over (I should have known this was an omen), but route 78 and the Lincoln Tunnel cooperated and I was settled in for the roughly 9:35 tip.  The nuances and momentum changes, missed free throws and great shots (even the one by Eric Devendorf at the regulation buzzer that didn’t count) are well documented. Some of the behind the scenes stories are worthy of telling.

As the overtimes went on three, four , five, you had an almost surreal feeling that this was normal and would continue. No one went for the exit. The fans with their presence were expending energy and involved in a classic experience of their own. Have work in the a.m.? Hit Starbucks first in full force.  The Garden PA system operator had a sense of humor. After each overtime and following the pep band, a song would be played. Selections included After Midnight (Eric Clapton), Wait Till the Midnight Hour (Wilson Pickett), Oh What a Night (Four Seasons) and Late in the Evening (Paul Simon). One more OT we might have heard ‘Tossing and Turning.’

After about 3 OTs a media member gave a thumbs up to official Bob Donato who just smiled as if to say ‘we’re all in this for the duration.’ Good writing friend Jeff Bernstein high fived yours truly after two of the occasions. A former college assistant at NYU, Jeff is a really loving this. Turns out he won’t leave MSG until 3 am, after filing a story.

Before leaving MSG sometime after two I stop by the Syracuse locker room to congratulate good friend and long time Syracuse assistant Bernie Fine. “I don’t know if I should say good game last night or this morning,” I noted.  Bernie says, “thanks, you can say both and did you see (West Virginia coach Bob) Huggins?  He was by you and left after three overtimes. I bet he was hoping for more,” Fine jokingly added.  Friday evening Syracuse beat  writer Mike Waters said he didn’t exit the Garden until 3:30. “I still wound up getting up about 9,” Waters said.  Bob Trainor, a radio man, left about 4:45 a.m. and there were roughly 7 people left. A number of the Garden press support personnel did not leave until 4.  In the post game press conference on Friday Boeheim and Andy Rautins were asked if they were looking for a place to eat, McDonald’s, anywhere. “We looked,” Boeheim said, “but in Syracuse you have places open at 2:30 in the morning. In New York it’s hard to find something open,” he added in jest.

Lou Monaco, who writes for ESPN and the Star-Ledger, covered the early games and had to leave near the end of regulation for his train. Monaco’s train had a 55 minute delay at Secaucus Junction. His cell phone needed to be charged but he could follow the game from passengers on blackberrys. He got to his Summit destination and it was so late the bars were closed. “I could see through the windows of the one bar that the game was going on,” he said. Monaco got in his car drove a few miles to his Springfield home and could still see most of OT number 6.

Good writing friend Jack Stycznski has a blog for the New York Times. Jack was seated next to me the whole game and we broke down the contest the full three and three quarter hours. The next day he sent an email, “I’m so tired I can’t think straight.”  Jack said due to travel schedules and logistics he got a full 90 minutes, yes one and one half hours, sleep and hit the office.  “Every time we meet each other,” he said, “we can say ‘six’ and remember a great night.”

A great night. The greatest game I’ve covered? Maybe. Definitely top three. The other two? I’m not sure at this moment. I might need overtime to decide.

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03.10.09 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on March 10th, 2009

Another day full of teams punching their tickets for the dance, and another morning after with tons of analysis, opinions, and great links…enjoy!

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A Lazy Sunday at MSG

Posted by rtmsf on December 22nd, 2008

Ray Floriani of College Chalktalk is the RTC correspondent for the NEC and MAAC Conferences.  He attended the Aeropostale Holiday Festival on Sunday this past weekend.

NEW YORK CITY – The games on the ‘big stage’ are an event. The crowds, the media crush, the atmosphere which hints of March. Example as are the Jimmy V, Coaches vs.Cancer, Xavier-Duke at Izod Center. Granted the latter was a blowout but the stage was set.

Basketball Mecca
Basketball Mecca

Sunday gave a different scenario but a special one just the same. Noon, a snowy day in New York, two mid majors tipping it off at Madison Square Garden. Columbia and Marist met in the Aeropostale Holiday Festival consolation game. The crowd was sparse but enthusiastic. The play, not always the greatest but competitive and entertainingly enjoyable. “These games are always special,” said veteran AP college basketball writer Jim O’Connell. “Especially when two teams like this get a chance to play at a venue as this.”

The Garden, even a sparsely attended one, is still a big thing. Marist brought, count them, 23 cheerleaders. And a band as good as there is around. Columbia brought their entire cheer and dance squad.

We'll Be Nice and Make No Further Comment
We’ll Be Nice and Make No Further Comment

The game saw Columbia battle back from a 10 point second half deficit largely on the play of K.J. Matsui. The 6-2 senior drained two treys and took a charge, “he didn’t take charges prior to senior year,” joked coach Joe Jones, to ignite the run. The contest went down to the final seconds with the Lions prevailing 63-58.

A consolation game on a Sunday morning following a loss on Saturday, no problem per Columbia senior forward Jason Miller. “In our (Ivy) league we play a lot of conference games back to back,” Miller said. “I’m a senior, to get to play in the best arena ever is great. To play in Madison Square Garden is exciting. To win here even better.”

Marist coach Chucky Martin echoed the sentiment. “I’m a Bronx guy,” Martin said. “It’s great to coach and compete here. The only unfortunate part is not leaving the building with a win.”

The second game saw Virginia Tech defeat St. John’s 81-67 for the championship. Tech coach Seth Greenburg spoke about growing upon Long Island and coming to the city to watch Joe Lapchick coached  St. John’s teams compete in the Garden. “When you play here,” Greenburg said,  “you play in a way you respect the game.”

Greenburg knows. He’s in the ACC now but his roots are mid-major,  as a player at Fairleigh Dickinson University and later a head coach at Long Beach State. And he knows and appreciates how special is to get the privilege to play in Madison Square Garden.

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Which One is Jamie, and Is She Single?*

Posted by rtmsf on November 25th, 2008

Ray Floriani (pictured, center) of College Chalktalk is the RTC correspondent for the MAAC and NEC Conferences.  A dilettante of the highest order, he attended the Coaches vs. Cancer final rounds in New York last week.

ucla-dancers

*(ed. note: Ray wrote in to say that Jamie is the redhead on the far left – no, not the Bruin)

NEW YORK CITY – Part of the excitement and ambience of college basketball involves the fans. As in fanatic, passionate and devoted. Largely associated with them is the spirit groups, cheerleaders, dance teams, etc.

Coaches vs. Cancer last week in New York afforded the opportunity to meet with the UCLA Dance Team, the only team in town. “We appear at weddings, civic events and charity events,” coach Molly Vehling said. “But our most important job is cheering for our teams. We cheer at  football and basketball games and it makes me proud that we traveled the farthest and have the only (spirit) group here.”

Those chosen for teams as UCLA dancers go through tryouts. After being selected comes weekly practices punctuated by conditioning. The ladies on the dance teams, at UCLA and other schools, are athletes in their own right.

To a member, this was the first trip to Madison Square Garden for the team. They took in the obligatory sights from Central Park, Fifth Avenue to Ground Zero. Getting on the Garden floor brought added meaning to their performance.

“This (MSG) is a great place to cheer,” said Jamie, a senior. “I’ve cheered in the Staples Center which is similar but here there is so much history.” Jamie used the trip as a test. She’s a microbiology major hoping to go to law school. She’s looking at NYU Law so her first trip to the Big Apple had added significance. Her impression? “New York is a great city, just a little chilly.” Understandable since the region was hit with unseasonably cold temperatures in the low thirties.

Her teammate Michelle summed up the experience, ”this (Madison Square Garden and New York) is just an awesome place.”

After finishing the trip on a high note as the Bruins defeated Southern Illinois in the consolation game, the dance team was off to Broadway.  What show, I asked? ‘The Rockettes,” they answered in unison.  Makes sense one talented dance group seeing another.

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Quite Possibly the Most Ridiculous Thing We’ve Ever Seen

Posted by rtmsf on October 2nd, 2008

Today we were doing some background work on some of the preseason tournaments – you know, the Maui, the PNIT, the Coaches v. Cancer, the CBE (formerly Guardians) Classic, etc. – and we came across some information that absolutely floored us.  Seriously – like a-George-Mason-administrator-who-also-happens-to-be-a-college-football-referee-selling-his-F4-rings-on-Ebay (h/t GMB) floored us.

Photo Credit: LA Times

When we started researching the CBE Classic and the Legends Classic, both tournaments put on by The Gazelle Group organization, we discovered very quickly that we couldn’t find a complete bracket for these tournaments.  Instead, all we located was a weird one-page listing of matchups on the CBE site, and a similar listing in addition to a four-team “Championship Bracket” on the Legends site.  As we floundered wondering what the hell was going on with these tournaments, we noticed an interesting little phrase tucked into the middle of the page of the CBE site (emphasis added). 

This year, the O’Reilly Auto Parts CBE Classic will be played under a new format…

- Regional hosts automatically advance to the Championship Rounds in Kansas City regardless of the regional results.

- All other participants will advance to play a round-robin series at one of two other sites. Thus, every participating team will be guaranteed four games.

Ummmmm…. whaaaaaaattt??? 

Is this some kind of a joke?  Does The Gazelle Group think that we, the college hoops public, are complete effing morons?  How can they get away with this???  One of the ironclad bastions of basketball at every level from peewee league up to the pros is the idea of tournament play – you win, you advance.  You lose, you go home.  And here we have the first instance we’ve ever seen where that rule of basketball law is being fixed supplanted so that the money teams get to keep playing irrespective of their on-court performance.

Oh, but RTC, Kansas, Florida, Washington and Syracuse are going to win those CBE Classic games against a couple of nobodies anyway.  Same for Wazzu, Mississippi St, Pitt and Texas Tech in the Legends Classic.  No harm, no foul, right? 

Where’s My Shotgun?

Well, here’s a reminder for those of you with that clouded mentality – Gardner-Webb.   Does that name ring a bell from last year’s CvC Classic?  In the subregional round, the little school from outside of Charlotte shocked the basketball world by defeating mighty Kentucky in its worst home loss in almost two decades.  In the middle of football season, that loss earned far more attention in the national media (PTI, Sportscenter, etc.) than whoever won that tournament actually got.  But the problem, apparently, was that the Kentucky loss resulted in G-W and its dozens of fans going to NYC to play in Madison Square Garden rather than the Big Blue and its legions of fans (and dollars).  So this year the Gazelle Group has managed to rig the system in two of its sponsored tournaments so that the marquee names have a 100% chance (as opposed to the 99% chance they previously had) of getting to the semifinal round. 

Sorry Fairleigh Dickinson, Eastern Kentucky, North Alabama and Akron (among others), The Gazelle Group doesn’t have room for you on its dance card this year.  But hey!  At least you’re guaranteed four games, right?  That’s just as good as playing in a big-time arena on ESPN, right?

Memo to TGG for next season – why don’t we just take a vote of 12 random teams and declare it the champion of the tournament?  That way we can simply do away with the tedium of getting teams to the various locations, televising the games, and actually worrying about who will advance to the next round!  You can run ads on ESPN for a month given all the money you’ll save!  As for your judges, we hear that there’s a former French Olympic judge available to serve on your panel, and Katherine Harris is always around for this sort of thing…

What a stinking, heaping, vomit-inducing pile of abomination. 

Please tell The Gazelle Group how much they suck at: gazelle@gazellegroup.com.

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06.09.08 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on June 9th, 2008

Coming out of another slow weekend on the news front…

  • This NY Times story about Bol Kong, a Sudanese expatriate and college basketball player in British Columbia who has lived in Canada since age 7, shows once again the ridiculous of some of our leaders’ anti-terror measures.
  • Following up on the Orlando Predraft Camp, DraftExpress gives their wrap-up takes here and also takes a really interesting look at some historical tidbits of the predraft measurements (yes, Shaq was always a beast).
  • Chad Ford has his updated draft list – OJ Mayo is movin’ on up (maybe because of Lebron’s agent?)…
  • Gary Parrish writes something about buying a BMW at the NBA Draft… whereas Luke Winn breaks down the top eight fence-sitters as the early entry deadline to return to school approaches on June 16.
  • Echoing what we were wondering about the media’s culpability on the OJ Mayo situation, BruinsNation takes the LA Times to task for completely dropping the ball on what is going on over at USC. Keep up the pressure, fellas.
  • From the what-else-is-new category, South Carolina’s Devan Downey’s assault charges were dropped. Curtis Lowery, the assaulted, must have gotten got to.
  • Longtime Big East commish Mike Tranghese, who wiht Dave Gavitt shepherded the league into the ESPN era in basketball, created a football conference where there previously was none, and is responsible for the current 16-team abomination in hoops, is retiring at the end of the 08-09 school year. The lesser-known but very effective Pac-10 commish, Tom Hansen, will also be retiring next summer.
  • Speaking of the Big East, the World’s Most Famous Arena, Madison Square Garden, wants to once again host NCAA Tournament games beginning in 2012.
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South Regional Analysis

Posted by nvr1983 on March 19th, 2008

This is our final regional analysis and we’re running short on time to get them in before your brackets are due. Consequently, our analysis of the lower seeds will be very brief.

Teams
#1 Memphis:We can’t remember a #1 seed that has gotten less hype as a potential nation champ or more criticism. We know the Tigers aren’t going to remind anybody of a J.J. Redick shooting video. We know that they play in a relatively weak conference. We also know that they are 33-1 and were a short jumper away from being undefeated. We also know they may be the most talented team in the country. What does this all mean? We have no idea if the Tigers will win the title, but we do know that nobody wants to face Derrick Rose and Chris Douglas-Roberts. They have an easy path to the Sweet 16 where they could face a very difficult challenge in Pitt. Schedule/Roster.

#2 Texas:In their first year AD (After Durant), Rick Barnes brings the Longhorns back to the tournament with a much better team even if certain LA residents who like to claim allegiance to Boston sports teams without suffering through the winter don’t care about them (or college basketball) any more. These Longhorns are led by All-American candidate D.J. Augustin (19.8 PPG and 5.7 APG) who brings a strong supporting cast with him to the NCAA tournament. Although they are the #2 seed, some might argue they are the favorites in the region thanks to the committee’s ridiculous decision to give them homecourt in the regional finals. That and the fact that they already have been UCLA and Tennessee this season. If they meet Memphis in Houston, the NBA scouts will definitely be watching for the great PG matchup (Rose vs. Augustin). Schedule/Roster

#3 Stanford: We actually have quite seen quite a few Cardinal games this year thanks to FSN. With Brook Lopez clearing that little issue of going to class, Stanford has become a very good team. Despite playing West #1 seed UCLA close two times in the past 2 weeks, we don’t think Lopez has the support to get Stanford by either the Longhorns (in Houston) or Memphis (anywhere other than Palo Alto) to make it to the Final 4. Schedule/Roster

#4 Pittsburgh:Jamie Dixon’s Panthers have done a great job overcoming injuries since their early-season win over Duke in Madison Square Garden. The Panthers tend to dominate inside with Sam Young and DeJuan Blair, but are yet another good team that struggles at the FT lines (22/44 in the Big East final). While we normally would look at their Big East title as a sign they are ready to make a deep run in the tournament, Pitt has a history of doing well in their conference tourney and failing to reach the Final 4. When we combine that with the fact that their physical style is subject to the tight NCAA tournament officiating (h/t to Jay Bilas), we are unsure about their chances to make it to San Antonio. However, we look forward to seeing Levance Fields against Derrick Rose (and possibly D.J. Augustin) in Houston. Schedule/Roster

#5 Michigan State:It seems like Drew Neitzel has been a Spartan forever. He has grown from a talented if inconsistent player into Tom Izzo’s go-to guy. While he will have difficulty creating against more physical guards, Neitzel finds a way to get it done. If MSU can get there, it should be a very interesting matchup with Pitt in the Sweet 16. If they are to get past the Sweet 16, Neitzel will need a lot of help from Raymar Morgan. Schedule/Roster

#6 Marquette:The Golden Eagles are led by Jerel McNeal, who has overtaken his more hyped teammate Dominic James as the team’s most vital player. While Marquette is not as good as advertised early in the season, but they should be good enough to get by Kentucky, which is a rematch of the 2003 Elite 8 matchup where Dwayne Wade’s triple-double knocked out the last great Wildcat team. Schedule/Roster

#7 Miami (FL): After a torrid 12-0 start (helped by a cupcake schedule), the Hurricanes cooled off in the middle of the season before getting into the Big Dance with some big late season wins most notably over Duke. Miami will be challenged right off the bat by St. Mary’s. To be honest, their potential 2nd round matchup may be easier than playing St. Mary’s despite what the seeds say. Schedule/Roster

#8 Mississippi State: The Bulldogs were able to survive the falling Georgia Dome, but they were unable to withstand their buzzsaw namesakes from Athens, Georgia. MSU is led offensively by Jamont Gordon and Charles Rhodes and defensively by the human eraser known as Jarvis Varnado. We think they should be able to get by Oregon before meeting a tougher challenge in the 2nd round. Schedule/Roster

#9 Oregon: Perhaps no team has received more criticism for their seed than the Ducks. They made the tournament by winning their last 3 regular season conference games, but we question their ability to make a serious run as they lost every game down the stretch to the top Pac-10 teams including the ones at the vaunted McArthur Court. Schedule/Roster

#10 Saint Mary’s: The Gaels, led by Patrick Mills and Diamon Simpson, are a quick, athletic team that sports wins over Oregon and Gonzaga. However, they struggle with more physical teams that slow the tempo down. This may not matter as they probably won’t play a slow-paced team before they are knocked out. Schedule/Roster

#11 Kentucky: Billy Gillispie has done an outstanding job salvaging this season, which started out so poorly with a loss at home to Gardner-Webb in the 2nd game of the Wildcat season. This is a pretty mediocre Kentucky team especially with the loss of their best player Patrick Paterson to injury. However, Gillispie has molded the team’s style (slow the game down and limit possessions) to maximize what he has. Kentucky isn’t nearly good enough to make a run in the tournament, but they might be able to pull of an upset or two. Schedule/Roster

#12 Temple: The Owls come in having won the Atlantic 10 tournament title, which sends a pretty strong signal that they are playing well late in the season. When you watch, Temple you will realize these aren’t Don Chaney’s Owls. Instead of relying on their physicality, these Owls are very explosive led by Dionte Christmas (20.2 PPG and 6.0 RPG) and Mark Tyndale (15.9 PPG, 7.2 RPG and 4.3 APG). They should provide the Spartans with a stiff challenge in the first round. Schedule/Roster

#13 Oral Roberts: While Oral Roberts is led by 5’9″ guard Robert Jarvis, their hallmark is their relentless defense. Unfortunately for them, they will be facing what is potentially the most physical team in the tournament in the first round. Schedule/Roster

#14 Cornell: The Ivy League champs usually can at least taunt opposing fans that they will usually be the boss of the fans of the team that is kicking their ass. Unforunately for Cornell and their fans, they play Stanford so they don’t even have that to hang their hat on this year. Schedule/Roster

#15 Austin Peay: They have absolutely no shot against a talented and tough Longhorn team. Schedule/Roster

#16 Texas-Arlington: We give them 5 minutes before their game against Memphis gets out of hand. Just way too much athleticism on Memphis’s side. Texans may get some form of revenge in the regional finals. Schedule/Roster

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