UNC vs UK Media Credentials Gone, Seven Months In Advance

Posted by jstevrtc on May 23rd, 2011

If you’re a member of the sporting media, and you planned on waiting until next season drew a little closer before ringing up Kentucky to ask if they could set you up with a media credential for that little North Carolina vs Kentucky affair in Rupp Arena next year, well…you’re screwed.

Both of These Gents Will Be In Rupp Arena This December, But If You Haven't Applied For Your Media Credential, You Won't Be

Kentucky Sports Radio reported yesterday that the folks from UK Media Relations are already out of media credentials for UK vs UNC. This is a matchup that has traditionally happened in December. It’s May. That’s seven months. The game doesn’t even have an official date set for it. The build-up of this thing is already like that which used to come with big-time prize fights in the 70s and 80s. Heck, we’re wondering if formal attire should possibly be required for fans in attendance. You may recall, Verne Lundquist and Bill Raftery showed up in tuxedos for their call of the UNC vs UK Elite Eight game in 1995 (UNC won, 74-61). Considering the momentum of anticipation this game is already gathering, maybe the fans should follow suit come December.

Having covered that, let’s see…Kentucky vs North Carolina “sold out” of media credentials seven months early. There’s an aircraft carrier game between UNC and Michigan State. Jared Sullinger, Harrison Barnes, and Terrence Jones all came back to college. The Final Four is in New Orelans, for cryin’ out loud. And we bet that right now, unconcerned with big-program issues like seven-month game hype and aircraft carriers, somewhere Brad Stevens is quietly watching game film or at least scanning his roster, possibly enjoying a drop of port as he figures out what elegant miracles he can conjure next year.

We like summer as much as anyone, but next season’s going to be a blast.

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Checking in on… The Ivy League

Posted by rtmsf on February 26th, 2010

Dave Zeitlin is the RTC correspondent for the Ivy League.

The Not Ready For Prime Time Players

It probably started with the nationally acclaimed recruiting class. It picked up momentum in early December when Jeremy Lin and his 30 points nearly singlehandedly upset then-Big East powerhouse UConn.

It gathered steam with a victory against Boston College, followed soon by a seven-game winning streak. And it came to a boiling point with stories in Sports Illustrated and The Wall Street Journal prior to a showdown with Cornell.

We are talking about expectations…specifically those for the Harvard Crimson. The trouble with expectations is that they rarely turn out as you would hopefully…expect. And in this case, they exploded on Jan. 30 when Cornell administered an 86-50 dose of reality. In retrospect, perhaps we were all guilty of anointing Harvard as a serious Ivy threat too soon. After all, its roster is composed of – amazingly — seven sophomores and seven freshmen. And its schedule, aside from a brutal three-game stretch against UConn, B.C. and Georgetown in December, was ultra-soft. The combined records of the schools Harvard has beaten (not counting Division III neighbor MIT and considering vanquished Ivy foes only once) stands at 152-224, and that figure is somewhat softened by William & Mary at 19-8.

In fact, Harvard has beaten only THREE teams with a winning record – the aforementioned Tribe (thrashed in their BracketBuster game by Iona), BU, and GW. None of those inspire fear. Harvard has lost to the other five teams on their schedule with winning records – Army, UConn, Georgetown, Cornell (twice), and Princeton. The latter three games represent the defining moments of Harvard’s season. Given his coaching history, Tommy Amaker is an easy target. But with a youthful roster, a resurgent and rebuilt Princeton team, and a powerhouse up in Ithaca, it is clear that all those expectations were, indeed, unrealistic.

The true measure of this team will come in succeeding seasons. Will all those recruits stay happy and keep coming — knowing that, while they will receive a superb education, they will play in relative obscurity? Cornell loses much of its strength via graduation but Princeton is back to where Princeton expects (there’s that word again) to be and Penn may be on that road as well. Harvard may likely be the sexy Ivy pick for the 2010-11 season and with it will come more … expectations.

A Non-Ivy Footnote (or, Six Degrees of Separation from Craig Robinson)

It has been a month since President Barack Obama sat down with Verne Lundquist and Clark Kellogg at halftime of the Georgetown-Duke game. And it got me thinking. Now, nothing against Special K, who we remember as a dominant forward for THE Ohio State University and who we regard as one of the finest nuts-and-bolts analysts of the college game. But we lament the fact that CBS decided to break up the Lundquist/Bill Raftery team. Their rapport and repartee was delightful, sometimes irreverent, and always spontaneous and unrehearsed. It was definitely good for a few laughs, especially during the most one-sided games. Imagine if they were still together for Barack Banter at halftime. We would have found out if he had suggested to his campaign contributors to “send it in”; if he addressed Congress as a group or “mantaman”; or if he tucked his daughters in at night with a “kiiisss” and if he left Michelle with some of her “lingerie on the deck”; and most importantly, could he deal with some of the problems in the Middle East with “onions!”

And now on to the power rankings. With two weekends of Ivy play remaining, the top spots, while technically still up for grabs, are sorting themselves out. The middle is a muddle. And at the bottom, even Dartmouth broke into the win column. Here’s how we see it:

  1. Cornell (9-1, 23-4): The Big Red recovered from the Score Heard ‘Round the World (a 79-64 loss to Penn for those of you more interested in triple salchows) with three straight workmanlike victories. They took over undisputed possession of first place by beating Princeton at their own game – holding them to 45 points and 36% shooting. Then they shot the lights out versus Harvard (50% FG, 52% from three) and Dartmouth (57% FG, 60% from three) to finish their four-game road trip. A third straight trip to the Dance should be coming soon.
  2. Princeton (7-2, 16-7): The loss to Cornell at home was understandable. The loss to Brown at home was inexcusable — especially for a team that was still in contention for Ivy crown. They allowed the Bears to shoot 58% and score 57 points, five more than their NCAA-leading defensive scoring average. An opportunity for atonement arrives tonight when the Tigers travel to Ithaca – a game which represents the last chance for some down-to-the-wire Ivy excitement.
  3. Harvard (7-3, 18-6): Only a possible shot at second place (and perhaps some post-season-play in a tourney not named NCAA) likely awaits the Crimson thanks to that Feb. 19 loss to Cornell. That shot at the runner-up spot will come on March 6 when they close the season at Princeton. It is hard to imagine a likely 20-win season being disappointing (see above) for any Ivy team, but the goals were higher in Cambridge. The good news is that while Harvard will lose Jeremy Lin, they will return 15 out of the 18 players on their roster.
  4. Brown (4-6,10-17): OK, so, why the Bears to round out the top half of the conference and not Penn? Here’s the logic:  they have split games so head-to-head doesn’t apply. Brown has a better overall record, albeit against a weaker schedule. And while they both have games vs. Harvard and Cornell still remaining, Penn visits Princeton to end the season. So this ranking is a projection. Besides we applaud Brown’s rare (for any Ivy team over the past 30 years) southern double weekend-road wins vs. Penn and Princeton.
  5. Penn (4-5, 5-18): This could have been a resurgence, redemption, replacement (as in coaching) and an all-is right-with-the-world paragraph. Instead, the postgame euphoria that was evident after the Doug Gottllieb hyperbole win versus Cornell was followed by three straight home losses. With road contests against Cornell and Princeton sandwiched around a home date with Harvard, the hopes for a .500 conference record look bleak — but with almost everyone returning next season, more Palestra magic will be back again soon.
  6. Yale (4-6, 10-17): The Elis have exactly the same record as Brown and a better overall record than Penn. But they are kind of like 2009 football Giants — they get their wins against the teams they are supposed to beat. Their only wins in their last seven games have come at the expense of bottom-feeders Columbia and Dartmouth. And their lost loss to Penn definitively relegated them the sixth spot in the power rankings.
  7. Columbia (3-7, 9-15): The disappointing Lions appear to have a firm grasp of seventh place. A road win at the Palestra (thanks to Niko Scott’s 29 points and an amazing seven 3-pointers) is the only thing that has kept Columbia from a five-game losing streak. They would need to win their last four games (unlikely) to keep Coach Joe Jones’ string of .500 conference seasons intact.
  8. Dartmouth (1-9, 5-19): A victory on Feb. 19 vs. Columbia averted a winless conference season for the Big Green. The good news is that they have actually had at least two players in double figures in their last three games – led by junior guard Ronnie Dixon with 46 points during that span. The glass half full approach in Hanover (for a team that ranks 326 out of 347 in RPI) has to be that five out of the top six scorers return. Come to think of it, that may be the glass half empty approach as well.
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The Hypocrisy of ESPN

Posted by nvr1983 on July 23rd, 2009

Before I get started, I want to reiterate our stance against the scumbags who surreptitiously videotaped Erin Andrews in the clips that apparently came out almost 4 months ago and somehow remained unknown before exploding on the Internet one week ago. . .

As you may know by now the past week has been a particularly trying one for the sports media overlords in Bristol as they have been hit by the aforementioned peephole video scandal, which their own sister network claims might have been an inside job [Ed. Note: Can ESPN sue its parent company?],  and the Ben Roethlisberger fiasco where they waited several days to announce the news that one of the most recognizable athletes in America had a sexual assault charge filed against him. Perhaps the most interesting story out of Bristol this week was that ESPN had decided to blacklist all New York Post staff members from appearing on any ESPN or any of their outlets after the Post ran screencaps of the infamous videos that left little to the imagination. On a basic visceral level, most people would agree to ESPN’s decision as they would  be disgusted by the decision of the Post brain trust to run the screencaps.

hypocrisy meter

The situation becomes a little more dicey when 2 other major media outlets (CBS and FOX News) decided to show the actual clips on their news broadcasts. If the front office people at ESPN actually had a policy or stance regarding the use of these illegally filmed clips, they should have taken a similar stance against CBS and FOX staff members. This raises an interesting question: Why did ESPN single out the New York Post? While some may argue that it was the way the Post utilized the images, we find that rather hard to believe. Although CBS and FOX were not as sensational in their presentation of the clips as the Post was they are in fact doing the same thing–using the illegal footage to try and further their story. For our money, there is a simple answer as to why ESPN singled out the Post staff members for their blacklist–because they can.

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Rating the Sweet Sixteen Announcers

Posted by jstevrtc on March 26th, 2009

John Stevens is a featured writer for Rush The Court.

It looks like CBS has made its selections and placements for the Sweet 16 announcing crews.  I think this is important for a couple of reasons; first, because we got us some heavyweights going at it this weekend and these matchups deserve top-drawer announcers; and second, because when you consider some of the tournament’s great moments, the announcing calls are just as much a part of the history as the actual visual images.  It’s good to have the big boys behind the mics in case a legendary event happens.  That said, let’s take a look at, and rate, the pairings.

The New #1 Crew
The New #1 Crew (image credit: daylife.com)

SOUTHJim Nantz (pbp) and Clark Kellogg (color)
Games:  North Carolina v. Gonzaga and Syracuse v. Oklahoma (Friday)
Grade:  C+

This is the premiere crew, as CBS would have you believe.  I give this pairing a C+ because I think these two gentlemen are still working on their rhythm with Kellogg having taken over the seat previously occupied by Billy Packer.  Jim Nantz, despite being one of the consensus nice guys in television and a man who has more than put in his time as far as being a basketball announcer, has just never done it for me as a play-by-play man.  He’s always struck me as a big-picture, in-the-studio guy, the captain of the whole ship.  I have nothing against Kellogg or Nantz as individuals, but because they’re still feeling each other out this late in the year, I don’t think it’s the “premiere,” automatic, Final Four crew any more.  Plus, Syracuse v. Oklahoma is going to be an absolute war, and I think it’s a game that’s just tailor-made for Gus Johnson at the play-by-play mic, or Raftery doing color, or — God help us all — both.

Lundquist and Raf. (image credit: ning.com)

EAST Verne Lundquist (pbp) and Bill Raftery (color)
Games:  Pittsburgh v. Xavier and Villanova v. Duke (Thursday)
Grade:  B

I’ll admit, there’s really no reason to give this pairing anything other than an ‘A’ except for my own sour grapes.  I always loved the pairing of Lundquist with Len Elmore.  Plus, if CBS reunited them, it could slide Raftery over to the seat next to Gus Johnson and blow the speakers out of your television.  Both Lundquist and Raftery still give me the impression that they’re still amazed to be getting paid for doing this for a living, and when that comes through, it always enhances my enjoyment of a game they’re calling.  Especially Raf.  Those tag-lines that we all know — “The Kiss!” or “A little lingerie, Mr. Lundquist!” or “Onions!!” — just never get old to me.  Also, if a legendary moment presents itself, you know neither of these guys is going to drop the ball.

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Notes from the East Region Open Practice

Posted by nvr1983 on March 25th, 2009

Because of the NCAA’s refusal to give us a media credential (or discuss the issue and our side of the case), we were forced to go to today’s open practice to get an up-close look at the teams. As an aside, if anybody has extra tickets for the games in Boston for the Sweet 16 or the Elite 8 (in case your team gets cheated by the refs), send me an e-mail at rushthecourt@gmail.com and I might be able to take them off your hands.

The guys who don't want me covering the game

The guys who don't want me covering the game

Let’s get one thing out of the way. The East Region open practice might have been the most boring 5 hours of my life (not counting lectures). There’s a reason the NCAA makes this event free (outside of the fact that they more than make up for it through the $8 programs, $5 Cokes, and $23 baseball caps). The crowd was 95% white males in their mid-30s or above along with a handful of kids chasing autographs from players who they were looking up during the practices checking to see which ones had the best stats. My favorites were the old guys sitting behind me who kept on commenting on how good Gary McGhee and Brian Zoubek were (the tallest guys on the court) and what outstanding pros they were going to be. Anyways, here are my thoughts and pictures (some pictures are from my iPhone because I forgot to charge my digital camera) from each team’s “practice”.

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