Let’s play “who is Coach K bashing here,” shall we? In comments made to the Raleigh News & Observer this week, Coach K stated that he doesn’t want to see the ACC go to an 18-game conference schedule as the Big East, Big Ten and Pac-10 have done in recent years. If the primary objective is to increase the league’s overall strength of schedule for NCAA Tournament purposes, Krzyzewski wants the other schools in the league to “schedule stronger,” and he felt comfortable enough with the current group of ACC coaches to take a shot at some of the previous ones. He said that he felt some coaches were guilty of being “too territorial about individual programs” when it came to thinking about the league as a whole, which got us thinking about who he had in mind when he made that statement. So who among the following list was Coach K referring to? Paul Hewitt (Georgia Tech), Oliver Purnell (Clemson), Frank Haith (Miami), Dino Gaudio (Wake Forest), Gary Williams (Maryland), Al Skinner (BC), Sidney Lowe (NC State), Dave Leitao (Virginia). Our best guesses: Hewitt and Lowe.
We mentioned yesterday the story coming out of Syracuse about freshman center Fab Melo getting into some trouble for damaging a woman’s vehicle during a dispute of some sort. More details came out Thursday, and if any of the allegations in the police report are true, Melo is really going to have to check himself before he wrecks himself. Jealousy is a dangerous imp that has destroyed many men before him, so our hope here is that he gets his rage under control and releases it in more useful ways, like on the basketball court in the form of rebounding and blocking shots.
Tennessee fans are no doubt hopeful that new head coach Cuonzo Martin has as much initiative and creativity in his head as his wife, Roberta Martin, does. A few years back, Mrs. Martin developed a website called marriedtothegame.net, a niche social networking site that caters to spouses of coaches through all college sports. There are currently over 700 people signed up for the site, where spouses trade information on the endless moves that their families must endure throughout coaching careers, how to handle child-rearing in such environments, and many other issues specific to their often-volatile profession. As social networking moves into the next generation of sub-specialization, this sort of thing will become standard across all walks of life. Kudos to Martin for being ahead of the curve and providing a supportive platform for the forgotten side of sports — the families.
There’s a lot of sniping coming out of the friendly confines of the Beehive State recently. Last week, Utah Valley State, angling to become a basketball-only member of the WAC, accused Utah State of backroom politicking to keep the school from getting enough support to join the conference. This was met with a refrain of “B.S.” from the USU folks, and they weren’t talking about science degrees. Then on Thursday it was released that former Utah forward Josh Sharp is transferring to BYU after spending the last two years on an LDS mission in Texas. New Utes head coach Larry Krystkowiak is none too pleased with this development, stating that “there is an unwritten rule that players cannot be recruited by other schools while they are serving missions. To do so is not only inappropriate, but it creates an atmosphere of ill will.” Unwritten rule or not, there is a written NCAA rule that says players coming off of missions do not have to sit out a year as a transfer; he will therefore be eligible as a Cougar in BYU’s first year as a member of the WCC in 2011-12. Can’t wait till next year’s games between these schools.
UNC’s Harrison Barnes is already pretty good at a lot of things, but he’s not known as a playmaker for others yet. His assist-to-turnover ratio last season was a paltry 0.73 and even though his natural gifts are as a scorer, he will need to develop his ability to find open people as defenses focus on him. The answer? Well, naturally, point guard camp. According to Mike DeCourcy, Barnes is one of 17 collegians invited to the CP3 Elite Guard Camp in Winston-Salem, NC, beginning on June 10. The objective of the camp is to develop playmaking skills, and several other notable names including Jordan Taylor (Wisconsin), Peyton Siva (Louisville), Kendall Marshall (UNC), Will Barton (Memphis), and Kenny Boynton (Florida) will also be there. We can’t imagine that this sort of thing could hurt Barnes, but the cynical side of us wonder just how much Nike might have to do with this particular exception. Hmm…
The Sharpest Tool in the Shed!! For the second time this season, a player has cracked the 60-point barrier in a single game. First was Ben Woodside from North Dakota St. with 60 pts in December; tonight Ryan Toolson of Utah Valley St. blew up for 63 in a quadruple-overtime victory over Chicago St (who put two players at 40+). Toolson, a 6-4 senior, shot 18-31 from the field, 7-11 from three, 20-21 from the line, and he even found time to grab twelve boards and dish six assists while playing all sixty minutes. Toolson raised his scoring average +2.3 pts (from 22.3 ppg to 24.6 ppg) in one night, and talk about a comeback game – he had a season-low 5 pts on 1-10 shooting in his last outing, a win on Saturday against Savannah St. For those of you who aren’t mathemagicians, that’s an incredible 58 pt difference between games. No matter what else happened tonight, Toolson deserves top billing. Ice that arm, buddy.
Upset of the Night.Washington St. 65, Arizona St. 55. What a strange game. Wazzu hasn’t shown much of anything this season, especially against any team worth a damn. Then tonight a freshman guard by the name of Klay Thompson decided to drop eight of ten threes against one of the better three-point defensive teams in the nation on their home floor. WSU also got 22/9 from Aron Baynes, but only three other players even scored. ASU was even more sporadic, with James Harden struggling to get his 26/4 on 8-20 from the field. Amazingly, as bad as Washington St. has looked, and with this win, Wazzu has crawled back into the Pac-10 race at 4-4, only two games behind the leaders UCLA and Washington.
Patty Mills’ Injured Wrist Ended St. Mary’s Winning Streak.Gonzaga 69, St. Mary’s 62. This was far and away the most anticipated game of the night at the RTC compound. It’s just a shame that we didn’t get to see what would happen when both teams were at full strength. Well, we sorta did, at least for a half. In the first half, St. Mary’s came out firing on all cylinders behind all-everything guard Patty Mills. His six first-half threes led the Gaels to a six-pt halftime lead in front of the hostile Gonzaga crowd. But when he fell and injured his right wrist, the wheels came off for SMC, as they only scored 23 pts the rest of the way without their team leader on the floor. Let’s really hope that it’s only sprained, and not broken, because given the intensity and level of skill exhibited by both teams in the first half, we can’t wait for the rematch in late February in Moraga. Matt Bouldin led the way for the Zags in a balanced attack that saw four starters reach double figures.
VT Will Regret Losing This One.Clemson 86, Virginia Tech 82. With just under 17 minutes remaining, Va Tech looked totally in control of this game and on its way to its fifth conference win. An 18-0 run over the next six minutes by Clemson (on the road, mind you) totally changed the complexion of this game, and the Tigers were able to hold on to a slight lead down the stretch to get a huge road win in the ACC. KC Rivers had 27 on 7-10 shooting from three to counter Malcolm Delaney’s 37 on 6-10 from three (including the 60-footer below), but it was Trevor Booker’s 21/13 that made all the difference for Clemson, as it seemed he made big play after big play when they needed it most. Now, as it stands, both of these teams are tied with UNC in third place in the conference.
This is Why We Can’t Watch the Big 10.Minnesota 59, Illinois 36. Minnesota’s stifling defense held every Illinois player to single figures and 29% shooting from the field (13% from three) in a defensive exhibition that broke a 20-game losing streak to the Illini. Freshman center Ralph Sampson III has really been coming on of late for the Gophers, and he had another nice outing tonight, with 10/7. More importantly, Minnesota now sits at 6-3 in the Big 10 and is still well positioned to finish in the top half of the conference and nail down an NCAA bid. As for Illinois, they’ve now lost their last three road games, and not looked particularly good in any of them.
Pac-10 Thursday. We’re having trouble figuring out this conference. ASU laid an egg at home and Arizona finally showed up.
Arizona 106, Washington 97. Just days after taking over the lead in the conference, Washington gave it right back in a high-scoring affair in the desert. These two teams combined for an absurd 128 pts in the second half, but it was Arizona who seemed to find their confidence scoring seemingly at will, whether it was Nic Wise (29/8 assts), Chase Budinger (25/8/4 assts) or Jordan Hill (18/9). On the UW side of things, Jon Brockman had 27/16 and Justin Dentmon had 23 in the losing effort, but it was Arizona’s FT shooting (41-51) that made the difference in this game – the Wildcats made 21 more FTs than the Huskies even attempted (20). SEVEN Washington players had 4+ fouls in this game. The good news for Arizona fans was that Jamelle Horne was nowhere near the final play of this one, but the bad news is that the Cats are still a long way from becoming relevant again despite this impressive win.
UCLA 81, California 66. UCLA bullied the visiting Golden Bears tonight, holding Cal’s top two scorers (Patrick Christopher and Jerome Randle) to a combined 17 pts on 6-18 shooting. Darren Collison led the Bruin attack with 18/5 assts, as five UCLA players got to double figures. An early second-half run by UCLA finished off the Bears, who were playing catchup the rest of the way. This win, combined with the Washington loss, put UCLA into a tie for first place in the Pac-10, while Cal fell into a third-place tie with Arizona St. and USC one game behind the two.
USC 70, Stanford 69. In a game between two teams that we just don’t believe are all that good, USC withstood a Lawrence Hill shot at the buzzer that rimmed out to get the victory. USC now sits at 5-3 in the conference, with three of those wins coming by 2 pts or less. We suppose it’s a good thing to be able to win close games, but to us, it suggests more that USC isn’t elite – they’re just able to sneak by inferior competition.
Other Games While You Were Watching The Office/30 Rock.
Arkansas 89, Alabama 80. Arkansas got its first SEC win against new Alabama interim coach Philip Pearson.
Utah St. 72, Nevada 61. USU contines to roll in the WAC, now 8-0 and a full two games ahead of Nevada after tonight’s win.
Michigan St. 71, Iowa 56. MSU moved to 7-1 in the Big 10 behind Kalin Lucas’ 24 and Durrell Summers’ 21 tonight.
Evansville 65, Drake 62. Neither of these teams are going anywhere this year, but what a great finish!