Late last night news broke that Arizona point guard Lamont “Momo” Jones had decided to transfer and was likely headed back to the New York City area. Although Jones has not issued a statement about his transfer, Arizona coach Sean Miller has confirmed the reports that was indeed transferring. There has been plenty of speculation about why he was transferring, but much of it has centered around either his desire to go home to be near a sick family relative (reportedly his grandmother) or the logjam in a Arizona backcourt that will be loaded even without Jones, who averaged 9.7 PPG and 2.4 APG as a sophomore. We will have more on this story throughout the day as it develops.
Later today Valparaiso is expected to name Bryce Drew as the successor to his father Homer Drew as the next coach of the program that he helped make famous. This is not the first time that Homer has stepped aside to let his son take over the program. In 2002, Homer stepped aside to let Scott Drew take over as coach at VU, but he stayed there just one year before leaving to take over at Baylor following the Dave Bliss era. Homer stepped back into his previous position where he has remained despite failing to make the NCAA Tournament for the past seven seasons. Bryce has served as an assistant at the school since 2005, but is best known for his miraculous shot against Mississippi in the 1st round of the 1998 NCAA Tournament and leading them to the school to its only Sweet 16 appearance.
Last summer UNLV had to deal with domestic violence charges against its top returning scorer (Tre’Von Willis) and it appears that this summer it will have to deal with DUI charges against its top returning scorer (Chace Stanback). Stanback was arrested early on Friday near the Thomas & Mack Center on suspicion of driving under the influence. He is out of custody and is expected to appear in court on August 11. It will be interesting to see how new coach Dave Rice deals with the arrest both before and after the court appearance. Rice comes from a strict program at BYU (remember Brandon Davies), but he was also on the Jerry Tarkanian teams of the early 90s that had a more laissez-faire approach to punishment.
One of the bigger stories in the college basketball world yesterday was Dana O’Neill’s story about former Villanova guard Will Sheridanpublicly announcing that he was a homosexual. While we understand that this will be a big story and undoubtedly generate a lot of page views for ESPN, we are looking forward to the day when this isn’t even a story. The column itself is pretty interesting and takes an in-depth look at Sheridan’s life after Villanova, but the most interesting thing to us is that his teammates knew about it and didn’t seem to care. In our mind, that seems to be the biggest obstacle for a player “coming out” while they are still active. The fear of being ostracized seems to be within the realm of possibility and we have to applaud the Villanova players who were aware of it for how they handled “the news” and never let it get out or seem to bother them as we have seen with the recent Kobe Bryant controversy that there are still many ingrained attitudes about homosexuality that may be difficult to break in the world of sports.
President Obama welcomed the national champion UConn Huskies to the White House. Unlike some recent championship ceremonies this one was without controversy although Kemba Walker apparently had a tough time getting there as he missed one flight and had another flight delayed before eventually finding his way to Washington, DC. The ceremony itself was fairly mundane except for a few jokes that Obama made about how UConn reminded him of his busted bracket (he picked Kansas to win) and his difficulty with the name of Adolph Rupp.
RTC asked its legion of correspondents, charlatans, sycophants, toadies and other hangers-on to send us their very favorite March Madness memory, something that had a visceral effect on who they are as a person and college basketball fan today. Not surprisingly, many of the submissions were excellent and if you’re not fired up reading them, then you need to head back over to PerezHilton for the rest of this month. We’ve chosen the sixteen best, and we’ll be counting them down over the next two weeks as we approach the 2009 NCAA Tournament.
If You’re Reading This, You Can Relate (submitted by Greg Miller of WPSD Local 6)
I turn 33 years old in less than a month and if there one’s constant in my life, it’s been sports. And if there’s one event each year that I look forward to more than any other, it’s the PBA Tour Finals. Okay, that’s a lie. It’s really the NCAA Tournament. My fondest sports memories as a kid, as a high school student, as a college student and as an “adult” are of the Big Dance. I have no one to thank for getting me hooked on the tournament but my father.
A 1959 Villanova graduate, my dad has rooted for the “Big V” as long as I can remember. In 1985, it finally paid off. Rollie and the ‘Cats miracle run to the title was the hook, line and sinker for me when it came to the NCAA Tournament. Unfortunately, my mom made me go to bed that Monday night and I didn’t know of the ‘Cats win until the next morning. I still, to this day, have newspaper clippings and such from that game. From that moment, I became a Villanova fan for life.
I can’t fill out a bracket without somehow convincing myself that Villanova can make the Final Four. Example, you ask?
1995. ‘Nova had one of their best regular seasons in a long, long time led by the one-sock-up-wonder, Kerry Kittles. The were finally back in the tournament for the first time in a few years and the ‘Cats are a 3-seed and get Old Dominion in the first round. I naturally pick Villanova in the Final Four. It’s my freshman year of college and I’m a videographer for the Ohio University women’s basketball team and we are flying to Seattle for the NCAA Tournament. While in the air, ‘Nova is playing ODU. I thought the flight attendant was going to throw me out of the plane. I had one of those old-school walkmans with an AM/FM radio. As we crossed over Minnesota and the great northwest of the United States, I kept tuning in broadcasts of the game. I would catch a few minutes here, a few minutes there. The flight attendant must have told me 15 times to turn off the walkman! I refused. I didn’t care that I was putting the flight in jeopardy. Villanova was playing and they were going to overtime with OD-Who? As you may have guessed (or remembered), the ‘Cats lost, all but ruining my trip to the Emerald City. Luckily I was not arrested upon exit from the plane.
That’s just one of many Villanova heartbreak stories I’ve had following the ‘Cats all these years. But if nothing else, it always gives my dad and I something we can talk, bond, argue, second-guess and complain about come March.
I remember on my 12th birthday, Villanova upset Rex Chapman and UK on their way to an Elite Eight loss to the great Stacey King/Mookie Blaylock-led Oklahoma Sooners.
After the ’95 disaster, I’m convinced they’ll bounce back in ’96 & 97 only to watch them get upset in the second round by Louisville and Cal (led by Tony Gonzalez)
Finally, after another lenghty lay-off from the Dance, ‘Nova gets back in with these youngsters (Randy Foye, Allen Ray, Mike Nardi and Curtis Sumpter, who tore his ACL and didn’t get to play) Once again, I think they’re Final Four bound (when will I learn?!?!) But this year they actually give me hope. A win over New Mexico. A win over Florida. For the first time since 1988, they’re back in the Sweet Sixteen! A showdown with Carolina in the Carrier Dome. Do I need to remind you all of the phantom walk on Allen Ray in the final seconds? (1:05 mark) Enough said. Another heartbreaking end to the season.
2006. This might finally be the year. A #1 seed. They get the play-in winner for crying out loud! Oops. Monmouth gave the ‘Cats a war and ‘Nova barely got out alive. Not one of their proudest moments. But they did regroup to make it to the Elite Eight thanks to a memorable comeback against Boston College in the Sweet Sixteen. The headline in the Philly Daily News read “Villa-Thrilla!” Will Sheridan’s goaltend bucket will live in Main Line infamy and it gave me a memorable 30th birthday. Unfortunately, what happened after that was something I wish I could forget. A poor-shooting night ended the ‘Cats run (and a pretty good Florida team. How did they finish?).
Then came last year’s improbable march to the round of 16 as a #12 seed. Just a great coaching job by Jay Wright and a gutty effort by guys like Scottie Reynolds. I never thought they had a chance against Kansas, but for once, just getting there was enough for me.
Don’t think I can say the same for this year. This team is capable of big things. And again, I will talk myself into putting Villanova in my Final Four. Only this time I hope I’m right. And this time I won’t have to go to bed early!