Sunday, February 27, 2005

 

Practicing Punditry

Today's question is How do you maximize your chances at getting into the NCAA tournament as an at-large? Well there's only one way to find out. If you're a fan of a bubble team you've come to the right place. Here's how to give your team the best chance. I also did this to find out how in the world people still had Virginia Tech in the tournament. I may be missing a team here or there or I may have a team in a spot you dont think they should be in, but this is for research purposes more than who gets in per say.

Background
There are 65 spots in the Tournament field. 31 Automatic bids and 34 at-large selections. This year there are 15 definite one bid conferences. These conferences wont get more than one team in the tournament no matter what. They are the Atlantic Sun, Big Sky, Big South, Horizon, Ivy, MAAC, MCC, MEAC, NEC, OVC, Patriot, Southern, Southland, SWAC, and Sun Belt conferences. That leaves 16 automatics available to go with the 34 at-larges. Some conferences could possibly get two teams if their conference leader loses in the tournament, but is strong enough for consideration as an at-large. Those conferences are the Atlantic 10 (George Washington), Big West (Pacific), America East (Vermont), CAA (Old Dominion),and MAC (Miami,OH). Notable omissions are the MVC, WCC, WAC and MWC. The reason is that those conferences will DEFINITELY get two teams in the tournament if their leader loses in the conference tourney and may get two anyway. So if we take those 9 conferences and say their current leader wins the conference tournament, that will leave 7 automatic bids with the 34 at- larges. A point to consider is that this is maximizing the at-large pool. It is very concievable that Gonzaga or Southern Illinois could get knocked off and take away 2 at-large bids. But lets have fun and maximize the pool. So that leaves 7 definite multi bid conferences. They are the ACC, Big East, Big 12, SEC, Pac-10, Big Ten, and Conference USA.

What does it all mean?
Well if you're a bubble team and they know who they are; they are rooting for every conference leader from a possible two bid conference. Every bubble team will be pulling for the 5 teams that lead those conferences. So here is who the bubble teams need to win in this order and a reason for each.
1. George Washington (beat Maryland and Michigan State- good resume)
2. Pacific (Nations's second longest winning streak and getting national attention)
3. Vermont (high RPI ranking)
4. Miami, OH (favorable RPI and beat Wichita State)
5. Old Dominion (25 wins,good RPI, but may not have enough qualty wins)
and here's the list of the other teams they will be pulling for out of the other conferences.
ACC- Duke, UNC, Wake Forest
Big East- Syracuse, UConn, BC, Villanova
Big 12- Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Kansas
Big 10- Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan State
Conference USA- Cincinatti, Louisville, Charlotte
Pac 10- Arizona, Washington
SEC- Kentucky, Alabama
WAC- Nevada
MWC- Utah
WCC- Gonzaga
MVC- Southern Illinois

So lets say that the winner of all those conference tournaments comes from each respective group. So that leaves us 34 bids to fill. The following is a list of the teams I believe are in, very close to being in, on the bubble, or trying to play onto the bubble. (in no particular order, I promise). After the list we'll break it down further.

Stone Cold Locks (teams that are in even if they lose their remaining games)
1. Duke
2. BC*
3. Syracuse
4. UConn
5. Nova
6. UNC*
7. Wake Forest
8. Arizona*
9. Washington
10. Illinois*
11. Wisconsin
12. Michigan State
13. Kentucky*
14. Alabama
15. Gonzaga*
16. Oklahoma State
17. Kansas*
18. Oklahoma
19. Louisville*
20. Charlotte
21. Cincy
22. Utah*
23. Nevada*

Oh So Close (one or two wins and becomes a lock)
24. Notre Dame
25. Pitt
26. Georgia Tech
27. Maryland
28. Pacific*
29. Depaul
30. Southern Illinois*
31. UCLA
32. LSU
33. George Washington*
34. Mississippi State
35. Florida
36. St. Mary’s
37. Texas Tech
38. Texas
39. Stanford

Bubble bouncing (can make the tourney but cant become a lock)
40. New Mexico
41. Miami
42. Iowa State
43. Georgetown
44. West Virginia
45. Minnesota
46. Northern Iowa
47. Wichita State
48. Miami, OH*
49. Vermont*
50. Old Dominion*

Let me in, please? (needs a win or two to just get on the bubble)
51. Virginia Tech
52. Indiana
53. North Carolina State
54. Texas A&M
55. Memphis
56. Houston
(* depicts conference leader)

Breakdown
Ok so thats leaves 56 teams for 34 spots. Thats a problem. But it doesnt have to be 56 teams. Out of the 23 "locked" teams 10 lead their conference and could get an automatic spot. So lets say those ten teams do win their tournament. So take those 10 teams out plus the other six conference leaders, (ODU, Vermont, GW, Southern Illinois, Miami (OH) and Pacific) and lets say that they also win their conference tournaments. So that leaves 40 teams (56 minus 16)for 34 spots. But its not really 34 spots because I have 13 teams, that don't lead their conference, locked into the Tourney. So now we have 27 teams (40 minus 13) for 21 spots (34 minus 13). This is the reason why so called "bracketologists" have sub par teams in the tournament. Look at the list. The last 6 teams are all teams I say aren't even on the bubble yet. Those are also the only 6 teams I even found worthy of putting there. So that means the 21 teams in front of them that aren't conference leaders all get in!!

Bottom Line
People who call themselves "bracketologists" or whatever they are called fall into this trap. They are saying that every conference leader will win their tournament. We know the liklehood of that happening is not very good. What happens if Gonzaga or Utah lose in their tourney? Or a bottom feeder from a "power" conference wins their tourney? Well then an at-large spot is gone and one more team gets bumped. Dont listen to a "pundit" today, wait to see what they say at the end of conference tournament time. So if you think you're team isnt in the tournament at this point, think again. You're team is probably in right now, it's when the conference tournaments start that your team may be out.
 

Senior Rule

A tradition started by Dean Smith was performed again yesterday at the Carrier Dome and what a Senior Day it was. A huge 91-66 romp by SU over Providence yesterday on a day when the Dome bid goodbye to maybe the most accomplished class in SU history. Craig Forth, Josh Pace, and Hakim Warrick took their final bows yesterday and did it in style. Instead of recapping the game I’ll just take a look at these 3 seniors. I was a senior at Syracuse when these players were freshmen.

Josh Pace
First opinion- I remember seeing him on the floor and saying “Why did Boeheim get this kid?” He can’t shoot, He’s not big and He’s not that quick.

Now- My favorite SU player ever. He gives the hope to many kids that you don’t have to have the best jump shot, you don’t have to be the quickest player, and you don’t have to be the tallest player to be successful in college basketball. He has a left handed push shot that will go down in Syracuse lore. He does everything well and plays hard every night. He gets lost in SU’s title run in 2003, but he had a huge second half in the title game and was intrical in the comeback against Oklahoma State.

Craig Forth
First Opinion- I saw Forth start and said “Finally, Syracuse had a player that is big and will score in the paint” He’s going to dominate like Etan Thomas.

Now- It didn’t quite turn out that way. For a player that has been maligned by the fans as much as Forth, he has started every game of his SU career. SU has gone 100-31 in games he starts. One of the unsung heroes of this team the past 4 years. He gets none of the credit and all of the blame. One of the truly unappreciated players in Syracuse history. He never complains when Boeheim takes him out after only playing for a minute. He sets great screens and plays tough. It felt good to see Craig Forth smile after his alley-oop yesterday. He deserved it. Two plays epitomized Forth. After getting thrown to the ground and no foul called Forth sprinted back on defense. He didn’t moan about no foul he just got up and got back in the play. The other one was when SU was up 18, Tukka Kotti had a breakaway lay-up and Forth hustled back and committed a foul. He could have let Kotti go, the two points would have meant nothing, but this kid gave it everything he had for 4 years.

Hakim Warrick
First opinion- I actually said these words “I think this kid has enough talent to become as good as Damone Brown”

Now- I think he was a little bit better than Damone. What can you say? The most electrifying player Syracuse has ever had. Top 5 scorer and Top 5 rebounder in Syracuse history. So instead of just praising Warrick even more, here is a list of my top 5 favorite Warrick dunks.
5. His array of dunks against Villanova this year. Every which way he dunked it and then gave a body builder pose to top it off.
4. The one over Randall Hanke yesterday where he hung on the rim and looked like he was sitting on Hanke’s shoulders. Welcome to the Big East, Hanke
3. His sky walker slam over Chris Quinn at the Dome this season. A steal and the high flying dunk catapulted SU to a comeback win over Notre Dame
2. The dunk from the block over Dennis Lattimore in Notre Dame. Also provided my two favorite quotes of the season. “Bring a Lunch!!” fro Bill Raftery. And “That’s where you are supposed to push him out to!!” From Jay Bilas talking about how coaches teach you to push a post player to the block
1. The dunk over Royal Ivey in the National Semifinal game. Ivey is standing there waiting for a charge and Warrick almost jumps over him. The referees call a ridiculous charge but are so awed by the dunk that they allow the basket.

Friday, February 25, 2005

 

Pulling the seniors' pants down

Great Article in the Post Standard about the three seniors playing their last home game at the Dome. Warrick says some funny stuff while Pace and Forth are much more reserved.

Red Storm Quelled
Syracuse jumped out to a big lead, held off a St Johns run and finished the game strong without Gerry McNamara. There were a lot of positives coming out of Wednesday's game.

Positives
The Sophomores played well- For the first time in two yuears the Sophomores as a group played very well. I'll leave McCroskey out of it because he was playng well before the St Johns game, but Roberts, Watkins and the forgotten man, Demetris Nichols all contributed. All of them are still very raw, but there are flashes of why this was a heralded recruiting class. Watkins and Roberts can crash the glass and Nichols is long and if he can find some confidence, has a good outside stroke. If Watkins and Roberts can clamp down defensively and learn to play the zone this team could make a deep run this season in the Tourney.
Josh Wright- Well Boehim dusted off Josh Wright and gave him some Playing time in the first half and then Wright got the bulk of Gmac's minutes in the second half. Wright is very fast and very quick, but he needs to learn how to harness it. On one play he blew by Daryl Hill at half-court and had a layup and missed it. With some more game playing experience he'll slow down at the rim and lay it in. The Big Question is whether Wright will get minutes in the Big East tournament. You have to like how he looked for a guy that hasnt played a meaningful minute in 2 months.
Warrick explodes - You had to see a performance like Warrick's coming. He totally dominated a thin Red Storm front line. Lets see if those performances can carry over to the more physical teams in the tourney.
GMac down, SU blows out- After McNamara went down, SU could have gone in the tank. The break the Orange got was that Wright had gotten some minutes so he was in the flow of the geame already. I loved what I saw from the Orange when McNamara went down. Everyone stepped up. Nichols hit two FTs and a foul line jumpshot. Roberts was more tenacious and Wrigh did a good job bringing the ball up the floor. Very encouraging.

The Negatives
Where for art thou Billy?- The Edelin saga continues. No minutes. This time Boeheim said that Billy hasnt taken care of his personal issues yet. What does that mean? Will we ever find out? Speculation is rampant that Edelin isnt going to counseling sessions. No one knows if thats true of not. We'll see how it plays out, but dont expect Edelin to be a factor the rest of the year.
GMac Down, Please get up- Another reason of why one play can ruin your season. If McNamara or Warrick gets hurt SU has no chance to win. It's so brittle. Ask Cincinnati when Kenyon Martin broke his leg., Its impossible to replace players like that. X-rays were negative on the ankle so GMac is just sore. After the Providence game the Orange has a week off and then could get another 3 days after if they secure a bye in the BE tourney. GMac shold have plenty of time to rest. We know he's gonna need it.
Boeheim unhappy- Boeheim said he doesnt want to play a big lineup with Roberts at the 3 spot and I agree. Roberts is already foul prone enough and if he starts playing a wing spot in the zone he'll foul out even quicker. If Nichols can get back into it he would be prime for the 3 spot because of his shooting ability and length. I wouold like to see Nichols ply more against Providence and their zone to see if he's capable.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

 

Microphone Fiends

I've seen a lot of College Basketball this year and so I've decided to give out some Announcing awards...

Best play by play man

Ron Franklin
A lot of people dont see Franklin but he is a solid play by play guy. No shtick from Franklin and he calls the game as it is. He lets his analyst (Fran Fraschilla) speak and he also provides strong analysis himself.
Honorable Mention- Dan Schulman, I was going to give this to Schulman until he contacted Len Elmore disease, which is making excuses for a player, by saying Carl Krasuer's mouth was hurting him a week after it happened..I guess they didnt see the SU-Pitt game.

Worst play by play man
Brent Musburger
Its time for Brent to give it up. He barely knows the players names and he has totally lost contact with the college game. His calls are late and he talks more about the coaches than the game going on. Brent wins this in a runaway.

Best Color Analyst
(tie) Jay Bilas and Bill Raftery
The best thing ESPN has done for college basketball is put these two guys together. They are both knowledgeable and very unbiased. Bilas provides the player point of view and Raftery provides the coach angle. It is a joy to listen to these two call a game. Raftery on his own is very good also.

Worst Color Analyst
Rick Majerus
I like Majerus' one liners but he is atrocious. The points he makes take way to long to get out and he ends up describing a play that happened 2 plays ago. Also he sounds muffled. Very Bad. I guess ESPN must have run out of announcers this year.

Best Studio host
Dave Revsine, ESPN
Rece Davis does a great job, but no one knows college sports like Dave Revsine. He is so in tune with the college game that he understands the nuances of the college athlete. He provides very good highlight description and sets up his analysts nicely. The best show for college basketball is the one he hosts with Doug Gottleib and Andy Katz. They get along and Revsine makes sure to punctuate points.

Worst Studio Host
Terry Gannon, ABC
Man he is awful. I never liked Gannon on anything, but he knows nothing about college basketball. I dont even know why he's in there. He doesnt know half the players names and I'm not sure he understands basketball.

Best Studio Analyst
Doug Gottleib
I know, I know. I killed Gottleib earlier in the year for his ridiculous comments on the Big East, but he has grown on me this year. He's not afraid to make the controversial point or take his fellow analysts to task. When Andy Katz said Virginia Tech could be in the tournament after beating Duke, he looked shocked and argued with Katz right there. I like how Gottleib has gotten better during the year. Right now he makes his points and has facts to back them up.

Worst Studio Analyst
Mike Jarvis
This just goes to show me that former players make better analysts than former coaches. Jarvis makes bland arguments and never goes out on a ledge. He's very safe and just usually agrees with the studio host. For example..."Don't you think Syracuse has a chance to win the tournament?" Jarvis- "Of Course..blah blah blah"

Best Unknown Announcer
Jim Spanarkel
Many people outside of the Big East have never heard of Spanarkel but he is a solid analyst. He makes great concise points and backs them up. He understands the way the teams playa and does not go crazy on the hyperbole. He's gotten lost in the shuffle on CBS but hopefully he does some tourney games this year.

Most Disappointing Announcer
Len Elmore
I saw Elmore at the Baltimore ESPN Zone before the season and was going to compliment him on his great work with ESPN, but I'm glad I didnt. Elmore has been very bad this year. He takes one angle on the game and runs with it. In the Va Tech/Duke game he ran with Duke's guards. In the SU/BC game he ran with BC getting jobbed by the officials. In the Pitt/Nova game he made excuses for Carl Krauser, saying his mouth was hurting him a week after he had teeth knocked loose. I thought Elmore was on the way up, but he took a step back this season.

Monday, February 21, 2005

 

Around the Country

Selection Sunday is around the ocrner and there is some momentum turning , let's go around the country after a huge basketball week and see whos in, whos out and whos bubble hopping in the major conferences.

ACC
Overview- Duke lose to Virginia Tech and then at one point has a 20 point lead on Wake. North Carolina rolls on and Georgia Tech better not slip up or their out of the tourney.
Big question- Could Virginia Tech score an NCAA tourney bid? I say no chance. They sit at 100 in the RPI and they lost to VMI and St Johns. They may get to 9-7 in conference but that low an RPI should not gain any merit for the Tourney.
Hottest Team- North Carolina
Games of the Week - Duke/Georgia Tech, NC State/ North Carolina, Maryland/UNC
Whos In- North Carolina, Duke, Wake Forest, Maryland
Bubblicious- NC State, Georgia Tech
Final Tally- 5 teams..NC State is out

SEC
Overview- Kentucky got knocked off by South Carolina and then destroys Mississippi State. Winsome Frazier is back for Miss state and now Lawrence Roberts is out. Here comes LSU with big wins over Florida and MSU. Alabama keeps on a Roll Tide.
Big Question- How good is the SEC? I say they're not as people say. Kentucky will be a top seed or a 2 seed and we saw what Alabama did last year in the tourney. LSU is coming around here late in the year and Billy donovan is actually coaching this year at Florida. Possible 3 sweet 16 teams out of that bunch.
Hottest Team- tie-LSU/Alabama
Games of the Week- LSU/Alabama, Alabama/Kentucky
In- 'Bama, Kentucky,
Bubblicious- LSU, Florida, MSU
Final Tally- 4, sorry MSU no Roberts, No NCAA tourney.

Pac 10
Overview- Arizona continues to follow the unbelievable shooting of Salim Stoudamire. Washington gets knocked off by Oregon. UCLA continues alternating wins ald losses, Stanford wins two games without Grunfeld. Arizona state is making a late push.
Big Question- Is Salim Souamire having the best shooting season EVER? Courtesy of Lute Olson who made a huge deal out of this. Stoudamire has been unconcious from 3 point range inlcuding yesterdays 9/13 display. JJ Reddick couldnt even hold Stoudamire's jock this season. Stoudamire needs a couple more huge games to break Steve Kerr's record for 3 point shooting percentage in a season. Here's hoping he does it.
Hottest Team- Arizona
Games of the Week- ASU/Washington, Washington/Arizona
In- Washington, Arizona
Bubblicious- Stanford, UCLA, ASU
Final Tally- I'll say 4 because Stanford's last few games are very winnable and I think either UCLA or ASU sneaks in, right now I'll go with UCLA.

Big Ten
Overview- Illinois notches two more wins. Michigan State quietly is rolling along. The wheels of the Iowa Bandwagon have fallen off. Ho hum Wisconsin is 17-6. Minnesota trying as they might to make the tourney
Big Question- Can Illinois do it? The Illini finish with Northwestern and Purdue at home and at Ohio State. With the Buckeyes on probation, that will be their national title game. I say Illinois gets tripped up in the Big Ten tourney a la St Joes.
Hottest Team- Illinois
Games of the Week- Minnesota/Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan State
In- Michigan State, Wisconsin, Illinois
Bubblicious- Minnesota,Iowa
Final Tally- 3. I dont see Minnesota or Iowa finshing hard enough to make it and some people want to put Indiana on the bubble, please.

Big 12
Overview- Kansas loses twice and socres 61 points in an overtime game at home. Oklahoma State is on a roll. Iowa state is playing their way into the Tourney. Bob Knight finally beats Kansas. Oklahoma gets a miracle against Kansas state and Texas is holding on for dear life to a tourney bid.
Big Question- Is Kansas overrated? I say yes. Ive been saying all year, lets wait for Kansas to play close games against quality teams and then we'll see how they do. I dont think this team is prepared to make a final four run. Oklahoma state, to me, is the best team in that conference.
Hottest Team- OK State
Games of the week- Texas Tech/Texas, Ok State/Kansas
In- Kansas, OKstate, Oklahoma,
Bubblicious- Iowa State, Texas Tech, Texas
Final Tally- 6. I think they are all getting in. TT is almost in anyway, Iowa State picked up a huge road win and I think Texas will win enought down the stretch to make it.

Big East
Overview- Syracuse loses twice. 'Nova beats Pitt. One win Providence takes UConn to double OT. St Johns beats Georgetown. West Virginia destroys Seton Hall. BC keeps with their roll.
Big Question- Will the BE get 7 bids? How about 8?. Some people may think I'm crazy but look out for the Mountaineers. They improve to 16-7 and 6-7 in the conference if both they and Georgetown win out and West Virginia notches a win in the BE tourney how could you deny either one of them. It's a long shot but not impossible. Georgetown better watch out because if they are not careful WVU will take their spot.
Hottest Team- West Virginia
Games of the week- BC/Nova, Pitt/UConn
In- BC, UConn, Pitt, Nova, Syracuse, ND
Bubblicious- Georgetown, WVU
Final Tally- 7. I dont think WVU will have enough to get in at the end, but I think Georgetown gets two wins and gets into the Dance.
 

SU Slipping away

Another physical team, Another loss for the Orange. This time it was Boston College smacking the Orange around on the glass. Craig Smith had his way on the boards and no one on the Orange did anything about it. McNamara was totally "gassed" at the end of the game. BC was getting wide open looks on his side of the zone and he had no legs at the end of the game. Pace, Warrick and GMac all played 40 minutes. Boeheim contends this team is built for the NCAA tourney, but I'm not so sure anymore.

My Take
Well there were some interesting things going on in BC on Saturday, here are a few.

Warrick gets no touches in the 2nd half- I was watching the game and waiting for Warrick to touch the ball in the post and he never got it. Between the 15 minute mark and the 2 minute mark, Warrick touched the ball once in the post. That is unacceptable. These guys have to let the offense go through Hakim. If he gets doubled, let him find the open man.

No rebounding- Yet Again , a bigger team exposes SU. There's obviously no way to fix this at this point. It's a huge problem and its not getting better down the stretch. So we'll see if SU can overcome that deficiency to win some ball games.

McNamara's defense- I love Gerry and he is a gutty player but he was killing the team defense on Saturday. I know Boeheim cant afford to take him out, but BC was getting wide open 3 pointers on his side of the floor. It was obvious something had to be done. For the first time in his career McNamara was a liability on the floor late in that game.

Edelin pulls another Houdini- If Edelin is going to start games he better be ready to play out of the gate. He looked horrible to start the game and McCroskey put together another solid outing. All the SU fans that want Edelin out there should realize that when McCroskey plays better he should play, he's earned at least that much.

Friday, February 18, 2005

 

Back with a vengeance

Sorry for the lack of blogging, I’ve been fighting this internet connection. The updates will be coming more fast and furious. There are some things in college basketball that irk me, so here’s another list.

My Top Ten Pet Peeves in College Basketball
10. Announcers using the word “great” on every good play. A pass inside is not “great” every time. A drive to the basket and finish is not a “great” drive every time. Mike Patrick is the master of the hyperbole. Please just call the game.
9. Coaches make good analysts. Mike Jarvis and Rick Majerus are good coaches and make good points, but they take way too long to get their point across. This is television, not a clinic. The points have to be quick and concise. Watching the Marquette- Louisville game, Majerus would constantly make good points but they would lead into the next 3 plays and the play by play man would have to cut him off.
8. “Experts” saying it’s bad to storm the court. Have any of these people been a student at one of these schools? A top ten win when your team is unranked deserves a stormin’. A win over a rival you haven’t beaten in 10 years deserves a stormin’. A win against a top 3 team deserves a stormin’, no matter where you’re ranked.
7. The notion that Gerry McNamara is a better player than JJ Reddick. Come on. I love the ‘Cuse but Reddick has developed such a great game off the dribble that he’s surpassed GMac. The one argument for McNamara is that he handles the ball much more than Reddick so he has more responsibility. But Reddick does everything better than McNamara at this point.
6. Coaches calling timeouts with under 15 seconds on the shot clock. Why would you do this? The only reason I can think of is that your team is in disarray offensively, but rarely does a team get a good shot off in this situation. Let the players play it out.
5. One good win gets you “on the bubble". I hate this one. Va. Tech just beat Duke and is now on the bubble? Are you serious? They are 13-10. South Carolina beat Kentucky and now they are on the bubble? Indiana plays a hard schedule, wins a couple Big 10 games and is on the bubble? They are 11-11. Just because you play in a major conference and beat a ranked team doesn’t put you in tournament consideration. How about winning some other games?
4. The conference that gets the most teams to the Sweet 16 is the best conference. This is ridiculous. A lot of what happens in the tournament is determined on Selection Sunday. In a one and done tournament the draw is critical. Last year Pitt had to play Wisconsin in the state of Wisconsin and BC played Georgia Tech. Upsets happen and can open up the bracket. The best conference in America is the one that gets the most bids, period.
3. So called “experts” being shocked when a ranked team loses to an unranked team on the road. This is ridiculous. This is college basketball. I just watched Duke lose at Va. Tech. This is not shocking. College teams always play better at home. And College students are rabid fans and do make a difference. (Quick sidebar- This is not the same Va. Tech team that played in the Big East last year. Seth Greenburg has done a great job.
2. The media is East Coast Biased. Another one I can’t stand. The media is so biased against the West Coast that Ike Diogu of Arizona State is being touted for player of the Year on a team that might not qualify for its conference tournament. It’s so biased that Gonzaga is still in the top 15 even thought they’ve struggled in the WCC. It’s so biased that people think Washington can make the final four. Some bias.
1. All Hail the RPI. The RPI is a joke this year. With the tweaking they’ve done they’ve made mid majors have a shot at at-large bids with no quality wins. I’m all for the mid-majors and this year not only will they crash the party, they’ll be the life of the party, but some of the RPI’s are insane. Southern Illinois is 13? Vermont is 14? Come on. I know that mid majors get squeezed out of high ranked games because of their conference, but they shouldn’t get rewarded for going to North Carolina and losing by 40. So now if these big conference teams invite mid majors to play it’s a lose-lose situation. Not only could they lose the game but the mid-major could hop them in the RPI. By the way Illinois is ranked 5 in the RPI. Don’t get me started on that one.

Monday, February 14, 2005

 

Pitt and Roll Volume 2

And Finally Pittsburgh has come back to Syracuse!!..Ok maybe not finally, but the Orange get their chance at redemption tonight on another Big Monday matchup. You may recall the first time these two teams played, Pitt played a zone and forced other players outside of GMac and Warrick to beat them. But they couldnt. We'll see what the Orange has tonight. This is the 5th game of a brutal six game stretch. Right now the Orange is 2-2 during the stretch. The Post Standard says its about revenge. The PPG says Chris Taft is the key. While Chas from the Panthers blog says
he's a little worried.

My Take
We already know what we're going to see from Pitt tonight. They'll start in a man defense and switch to zone. The question is will SU play against the zone like they did against Providence or like they horribly played against it at Pitt. This SU team has steadily gotten better the last two weeks even with the loss to UConn. Pace seems unstoppable at getting in the lane and Warrick is just flat out dominating. For a second time Taft is the key for Pitt. If Taft comes to play he'll make it very difficult on SU in the paint. Will SU's 3 headed center monster be enough to keep Pitt off the glass? Troutman finds a way to get it done in the paint. SU should be hungry to start this game tonight. And here's one prediction for the game. If SU jumps out to a 17 point lead tonight, they wont blow it.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

 

No Mo' Nova

SU beats Villanova today 90-75 in the most complete game the Orange has played this season. Warrick had 32 points and 12 rebounds, Pace had 21 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists and GMac had 18 points 7 assists and 5 rebounds..Forth had 8 points and 10 rebounds. It was an team performance today at the Wachovia Center. Coming Tomorrow are recaps from both sides and a take from yours truly

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

 

Big East Buffoonery

After what happened at the end of the Rutgers-Seton Hall game yesterday, I think now is a good time to look at the officiating of the Big East. I've been following Big East basketball for the better part of 11 years and I have never seen as many bad officiated games as I've seen this year. I've seen bad officiated halves, but never bad officiated games like this. In most instances the officiating plays no outcome, but it does ruin the flow of a game. A reason for the bad calls lately? How about the officials are being overworked and its by their own discretion. Jim Burr works a game one night in syracuse and then works the next night in Ann Arbor. Fatigue has to take a toll sometimes. So here's a recap whats happened in the last week in the BE conference.

Feb 5th Pitt at WVU
Pitt's Carl Krauser drives to the basket in overtime with his team down 2 and gets shoved with two hands and no call is made. WVU comes down makes a 3 and goes on to win 83-78 to complete the comeback.

Feb 5th BC at Seton Hall
BC doubles up Seton Hall on FTs 24-12 and Kelly Whitney of Seton Hall picks up 2 of the quickest fouls I've ever seen. One second it was being called close the next they were letting them play..no consistency

Feb 5th ND at SU
The last game of the day in the BE was the worst. The first half of the game the officials called nothing including one exchange where an official was looking at Boeheim and having a conversation with him while PLAY WAS GOING ON!! Absolsutely ridiculous. The second half was called tight and Mike Brey picks up a horrible technical foul with his team up 2 and under 4 minutes.

Feb 7th Uconn at SU
A very uneven game saw the Huskies shoot 32 FTs while SU shot only 14. Warrick, Pace, and Watkins all finished with 4 fouls and Roberts fouled out. Total fouls Uconn 15 SU 24. Calhoun walks onto the floor during play and gets no technical.

Feb 8th St Johns at Pitt
Straight from the New York Post. "What's gotten into umpire Curtis Shaw? He opened the night by calling a three-second violation on Chevy Troutman. Then he called a palming violation on Pittsburgh's Antonio Graves and one on Lawrence.
He slapped Carl Krauser with a technical foul when The Bronx native protested an offensive foul call by shouting, "Come on!" He ejected a fan that didn't like the technical. Then Shaw stared down Daryll Hill and Phil Missere after they objected to calls". Wow.

Feb 8th SHU at Rutgers
Down one at the end of regulation Rutgers' Juel Wiggan is fouled by SHU's John Allen, or so says Tim Higgins with 6 seconds left and RU down by one..Wiggans makes one and the game goes to overtime. In OT Quincy Douby of RU is fouled by Donald Copeland. The foul, called by Les Jones, is in a word, dubious. Douby makes the second and RU wins. What did Douby say about the call? "If that call was made against me I wouldn't be talking to you because I would be too upset..I was surprised" What did Tim Higgins say about the call? "We dont comment on judgement calls." What did John Allen of SHU say about that response? ""A judgment call? Come on. You protect yourself (by saying) it's a judgment call? Come on. You don't make a judgment call at that stage of the game. You make an obvious call, not a judgment call. Nobody wants to see the game decided on your judgment. We want to see the players decide the game. At the end of the game, nobody cares about the referee's judgment. People pay to see the players play. They don't pay to see the referees make a judgment call. Get out of here with that."



Its time for the Big East to be held responsible. Whether they are going to is another question.









 

Bandwagon Jumpin'

Sorry about no recap post yesterday..internet service was down. Anyway SU lost to UCONN on Monday night because of two reasons. Charlie Villanueva showed up and Gerry McNamara didnt. SU actually held its own on the boards only getting outrebounded by 6 and even having more offensive rebounds than the Huskies. Down the stretch SU committed two crucial mistakes when trying to get the ball into Warrick in the post. Two bad entry passes by Pace and Edelin helpe UConn stretch the lead and ward off the Orange. GMac was majorly disappointing. He was outplayed by a freshamn in Marcus Williams and couldnt even get good looks at the basket. Villanueva made a few circus shots and the Huskies came out with a win.

Points on the game
Officiating- As I've perused the messageboards I notice some speak about how poor the officiating was in the game. I agree that SU didnt get the majority of the calls when they had the ball, but for the most part out of the Huskies 32 FT's I would say most of them were warranted. Watkins was hacking around the basket, Roberts always leaves his feet so naturally those are going to be called. Should SU have shot more FTs? Probably. But with this team there's no guarantee they'll make them. I agree the officiating was less than stellar, but in no way was it the reason the game was lost.
Top Ten worthiness- I still believe this is a top ten team. Anytime you have 2 finalists for the Wooden award on the same team, you have to be considered a top ten team. For some people to think that this team isnt that good, think again. They have two legitimate 20 point scorers and a 10 point scorer. Anytime you get 50 points from 3 guys you are a worthy team. Is this a top 5 team? Probably not because they're a little small with Pace at the small forward and the outside shooting is poor and thats an understatement. Its only two losses in the last 3 games. Before I declare this team a disaster let me see them trip up a couple more times, but by reading some of the message boards you would have thought this team stinks. Quick trivia- Only 4 teams have been in the top ten in both polls every week this season..Kansas, Wake Forest, Illinois..oh and Syracuse.
Edelin Watch- It continues..I think he played a solid overall game. He did make two bad passes down the stretch, but overall I thought he did a good job handling the ball and distributing. He remains the X factor. If Edelin can somehow regain the form of 2003 , this team will go far. Does he have it in him? Time is running out.

Monday, February 07, 2005

 

Rant and Rave

Here are some of my thoughts but first SU stays at #8 in the AP poll. ESPN has 3 separate articles on the Orange, Andy Katz has an article on High Flying Hakim and on Billy Edelin. Jay Bilas throws in his two cents on Edelin.

Joe Lunardi puts out his Bracketology and drops SU to a 3 seed

Thoughts while wondering if its ok to like "Cheap Seats"
-I like Stewart Mandel as a FOOTBALL writer, but he needs to give up the basketball thing. How can you say no Big Ten team can make a deep tourney run outside of Illinois and then follow it up with lets leave Wisconin out because they are on top of their game?

-Did Scott McCorkle play the whole game chewing the same piece of gum?

-Want to see a lame crowd? Watch the 1991 SU-UCONN game at the Dome. Exciting game, too bad the crowd sat on their hands for most of it.

-Chris Thomas.. all- time against Syracuse...1-7 record..27 percent from the field..27 percent from 3..12 points a game...ouch. This is a guy Stewart Mandel picked for player of the year.

-Welcome to the Top 25, Pacific. Its been a long time coming.

-Remember when the ACC had 7 teams in the top 25? Good, because now they have three.

-Illinois is undefeated and beat Wake Forest and Gonzaga at home, Cincinnati on a neutral court, Wisconsin, Michigan State, and Georgetown on the road. Their RPI? 4. What a joke the RPI is. I cant take it seriously.

-Top 3 overrated teams in the country? Kentucky, Alabama and Michigan State.

-Top 3 underrated teams? Utah, Minnesota, UNC-Charlotte

-I think I would pay to see a 3 point contest between Gerry McNamara, JJ Reddick, Salim Stoudamire, and Brendan Plavich. Those guys can stroke the 3.

- If Hakim Warrick isnt the most electrifying dunker in college basketball then I've never seen a game. Close second- Ismail Muhammad.

- If you've never heard of Andrew Bogut, do yourself a favor and catch one of the Awesome Aussie's games when his Utah Utes play, you'll wonder where this guy came from.

-I like Ike Diogu

-Meaningless Stat of the day. Last year after the Patriots won the Super Bowl.. the day after SU lost to UCONN 84-56. I think it will be a little closer tonight.
 

Champions Reunited

The last two National Champions meets at the House that Leo Rautins built tonight. What to expect? Here's my best guess.

Overall Preview
The Huskies have one of the deepest and tallest frontlines in the country. They go 6'10" across the board with Josh Boone, Charlie Villanueva, and Hilton Armstrong off the bench and Rudy Gay at 6'9". Connecticut is the top rebounding team in the Big East by almost 10 rebounds a game and number one in the entire country in rebounding. Syracuse by comparison is tied for 5th in the BE (with that rebounding power St. Johns) and 74th in the country. One of the reasons the Huskies have that many rebounds is that they only shoot 44 percent from the floor, but they will crash the glass. UCONN outrebounds their opponents by 13 rebounds a game. So combine that with Syracuse's struggles on the glass will be an interesting thing to watch. Both Teams are 1-2 in the BE in scoring, but SU scored 60 last game and Connecticut only had 68. So why is UCONN only 6-3 in the BE? Well thats easy. There are 3 reasons. They are dead last in turnover margin in the BE. Actually committing more turnovers than they are forcing. That is going to kill you down the stretch in some games. The second reason in the disappearance of Charlie Villaneuva. This is a guy who thought about going straight into the draft and skip college. He's only averaging 11 points a game and against Villanova and St John's last week he went 2-9 from the field and scored 9 points COMBINED!! Just atrocious. The third reason is the guard play. Rashad Anderson is only shooting 38 percent from the field and 32 from 3. Marcus Williams has struggled at the point. In an era of college basketball where guards are dominating the Husky guards have struggled mightily. Anderson has got it back on track this week as he was named Co-Big East player of the week with GMac. So will the Husky big men offset their guard play at the Dome tonight or will their guard play hurt them again? We'll see tonight in a game SU needs to have before going to 'Nova on Saturday.
 

You Can't? Uconn comes to the Dome

First some game previews. The Post Standard, The New London Day, The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, and the Hartford Courant all have previews for tonight's game.

Later today I'll be back with my preview and some other treats...

Sunday, February 06, 2005

 

Recaps

First the recaps, The Post Standard talks about the huge crowd and electricity in the Dome. The South Bend Tribune says Notre Dame let one get away.

Yesterday we did the Positives for SU so right now we do the negatives

The Negatives

My Kingdom for a Jumpshot- I usually dont go crazy after one game about not everyone scoring but after two games in a row of no one hitting an open jumper this is becoming a serious problem for this team. McCroskey threw up 2 horrible looking 3 point shots and no one else, outside of GMAC, took a shot outside of 10 feet. Its only going to be a matter of time before teams take away Warrick nd McNamara and make someone else beat them. Get ready for a repeat of the ending stretch last year unless something changes.
Defensive Rebounding- ND picks up 14 offensive rebounds, Pitt had 16 offensive rebounds. I know the zone does not allow for rebounding asignments, but Forth for the second game found himself beat numerous times by quicker players. Francis, Lattimore and Rick Cornnete constantly were beating SU to loose rebounds. Pace needs to be on the floor, so unless the combo oF Roberts, Watkins, and Forth occupy 2 of the 3 spots on the floor, unfortunately the onus falls on Warrick. He does so much for the Orange already, but he may be the only one that can help stop this crashing of the glass by the opposition.
Offensive Execution- It seems as if at time SU forgets what to do on the offensive end of the floor. They become so dependent on GMAC and Warrick that if they dont get the ball to them, they get lost. Warrick needs to touch the ball in the post on every possesion but a lot of the time they dont give it to him.
Billy Edelin- Everyone around the team says he is crucial to the team's success but he is having a rough time on the offensive end. A couple of times he couldnt get the ball to Warrick on the block and he seemed to force the action when he did get the ball. Edelin needs to get back to backing his man down in the lane and making his acrobatic shots. Last night was a perfect night for him to play big and he didnt.
Arguing with the Refs - I will agree the officiating in the game was horrible last night, but leave the arguing to Boeheim. At times the team outide of Pace and Forth seem more worried about the officials than the team their playing. Terrence Roberts especially. The second half was better than the 1st half in terms of officating but it was poor last night. One stretch showed me how bad. Towards the end of the 1st half an offical was more interested in talking to Boeheim on the bench than watching the action on the court. What is he doing? If there was an attempt by SU to make a steal he wouldnt have seen it because he was looking and talking to Boeheim. I would like to see the BE do something about that, but they wont.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

 

Deja Vu thanks to two

Notre Dame has seen this ending before. Down 11 with 6 minutes left, Syracuse ends the game with a 21-7 run to pull out a 60-57 win over the Irish in front of an NCAA record 33,199 at the Carrier Dome. In their last meeting SU ended the game on a 19-4 run to win at South Bend. This time the run was due to the Orange's two National Player of the Year Candidates, Gerry McNamara and Hakim Warrick. They combined for 20 of the final 21 points and 42 of the 60 total points. SU scored 20 points in the first half in one of their worst offensive performances in recent history. The second half wasnt much better until the end of the game. The Orange only had 19 points in the second half before going on their run. Adding Pace into the scoring, SU got 52 of 60 points from 3 guys. SU improves to 21-2 and 8-1 in the Big East and Notre Dame falls to 13-6 and 5-4 in the Big East.

My Take
While the game is still fresh lets go over what happened. First of all the first half looked like a team out there that has never played organized offensive basketball. GMac was throwing behind the back passes in traffic, they were giving the ball to Warrick out by the 3 point line, Demetris Nichols couldnt dribble (although this shouldnt shock anyone). It was atrocious. It was so bad that Boeheim at one point was playing a unit of Warrick, GMAC, Edelin, Watkins, and Roberts. Wow. JB was trying anything and it wasnt working. Pace kept them in the game in the 1st half with 8 points. The defense was good except for some open 3s, but every time SU got within 4 or 5, Notre Dame would hit a 3 or hit a couple of baskets. The start of the second half wasnt much better. SU would get within 5, Falls hit a 3. SU would get within 6, Francis hit 2 FTs. SU would get within 4, Chris Quinn would knock down another 3. GMAC picked up his 4th foul, SU was down 11 with 6 minutes left and then Hakim Warrick happened. A dunk, two fts and then another higlight reel dunk, Warrick got so high on that dunk it seemed as if Quinn actually walked under Warrick. All of this happened with SU pressing. So a 6-0 Warrick run, a ho hum big GMAC 3 off an ND turnover and a great defensive job by McCroskey. What is going to get lost in this game is the job McCroskey did in the press and in the man defense. He is relentless. We can sit here and rip McCroskey for his offensive play and he desverves it, but his defense in the press and man defense is exceptional. Mike Brey argued that McCroskey was using his hands too much and promptly got a technical and GMAC tied it at the line. So in 2 and half minutes SU scored 11 straight points to tie. Then it became a FT shooting contest. SU scored their last 12 points at the line with GMAC making 9 of those. And SU survived Terrence Roberts shooting FT's like Shaq.

The Positives
GMAC and Warrick- Again carry the team. I remember seeing this happen last year and now its happening again. They get it done down the stretch. They are the epitome of winners.
FT shooting- Won the game for the Orange tonight. Throwing out Roberts four chucks at the basket at the end of the game SU was 21-26. Now some may say thats a great number, but a closer look. GMAC was 11-11 and Warrick was 6-11, so see the first positive.
Press Defense- The Defensive presure forced ND's experienced guards into mistakes. This is a different SU press than in years past. Warrick is very good on the inbounds pass and McCroskey is brilliamt at hawking the ball.
Never Give Up Attitude- On a day where College coaches around the country wore sneakers to promote the fight against cancer, SU used the late Jim Valvano's attitude to come back. This SU team believes they can win any game, which is great to have, but you cant fall behind good teams and expect to do that all the time.
Mike Brey - Thats right the ND coach is an SU positive. Brey did some curious things in the second half and all of them were in the last 5 minutes. McNamara hits the 3 to cut the lead to 2, the crowd is going bonkers, no timeout for Brey. Immediately after the 3, McCroskey forces the 5 second call and Brey gets a technical. Warrick makes two FTs to tie the game at 52 and SU goes back to zone and Brey waits until 7 seconds on the shot clock to call a timeout. You're never going to get a good shot in 7 seconds against a zone and they didnt, Quinn barely grazed iron. Then this was the worst. GMAC fouls out so he cant shoot FTs, ND down 4 with 5 seconds left, Quinn at the line. Quinn makes the first and Brey tells him to miss the second. Why?. The odds of tapping the ball back out for 3 arent good. I was thinking the whole time this could be bad if Quinn makes both because even if SU makes one ND could tie. Horrible decision. The odds of SU making two FTs with GMAC sitting on the bench are not good. Make the second FT, foul right away and you almost guarantee yourself a shot at tying because most likely the SU players on the floor arent going to make 2. Brey got lucky because Roberts missed both anyway , but its a curious coaching decision which ended his horrid last 5 minutes coaching.

Coming Later..The negatives and boy there are a lot and recaps from both sides..




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