A night of revelation

February 5, 2009
We love Dejected photos of the Dorks from Durham

One of us loves dejected photos of the Dorks from Durham, the other weeps

Monday, March 16th, 2009 will not be any normal Monday.  On that particular morning, after you tap into that free coffee that tastes like muddy water, you will collect your 5 brackets from the printer.  Instead of analyzing financial reports, government projects, or whatever garbage occupies the morning hours of your day, there will be brackets to browse.  This year we recommend taking a different approach, by just freakin’ guessing.

There’s been talk about a pattern of incongruities (can you say that?) throughout this season, with team’s not being able to “find” themselves.  Last night’s slate of games pretty much sold us on that school of thought. Syracuse started all the action with a response victory that had Syracuse fan’s thinking of Eric Devendorf as a Catholic Alter Boy.  Jeff Diveronica of the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle referred to the ‘Cuse as a “boxer on the ropes.” Syracuse’s beat down of the Mountaineers helped Jim Boeheim and the Orange out of the corner they were backed into, losing three of their last four.

Wake Forest, everyone’s favorite big game team got waxed on the road by the ‘Canes, 79 -52.  The end result: The ‘Canes snap a three game losing streak and sending Wake to their second straight loss, both to an unranked club.  Manny Navarro of the Miami Herald called the ‘Canes victory, “the perfect remedy.” That’s now three ACC road losses for the Demon Deacons.  Will Wake’s fate be a loss to a 14 seed?

Halftime Score: Michigan State 42, Minnesota 16…Game Recap done.  The #19 Golden Gophers came into The House that Izzo Built after building a 18-3 record on the year.  However, the Spartans defended Sparta from warm ups on, jumping out to an impressive halftime lead.  Durrell Summers dropped in 21 on only 10 shots compared to the entire Minnesota starting lineup’s 19 on 27 shots.  Myron Medcalf of the Minneapolis Star called the Gophers debacle “an identity crisis.” He’s probably right, but let’s not forget the Spartans lost both games to Penn State this year.

Two weeks ago Clemson was downed by the very same Wake Forest team that was previously mentioned.  One week ago Wake eeked out a squeaker over the then #1 Duke Blue Devils.  We saw a completely different Tigers team when Duke rolled in last night.   The swarming press of the Tigers made Greg Paulus, Brian Soubek and the rest of the Dookies cough it up more than a pediatrician conducting back to school physical exams.  Clemson was able to pour it on, handing the Blue Devils their worst loss since 1990, a 27 point mauling 74-47.  Clemson did not let the lead drop below 20 points over the final 9 minutes.  Ron Green Jr. of the Charlotte Observer reports that even Clemson Coach, Oliver Perry was surprised by margin of their victory. Clemson might be a National Contender after all.

Notre Dame came into the season as one of the Big East favorites and a Top 10 ranking.  How the mighty have fallen, losing to Cincinnati on Monday night.  Notre Dame drops its SIXTH straight loss and Mike Brey still think “The beat goes on baby,” reports Joe Kay of the Chicago Tribune. Notre Dame is now on the outside of the bubble looking in at teams like Providence, Cincinnati and WVU.

The one certainty from tonight: Heather Cox should not be in HD.


UCONN takes a Husky on the Cards

February 2, 2009
We miss when he used to look like Jar Jar Binks with those corn rows

We miss when he used to look like Jar Jar Binks with those corn rows

UCONN took over as the top dawg in the NC2A on Monday.  Coincidently HUSKY NATION! was slated to test that #1 spot right away.  Now the test sounded daunting… on the road, versus arguably the hottest team in the nation, the #7 Louisville Cardinals.   The game brewed with anticipation and hype.  Would the #1 team only relish in the ironic glory of the top spot for less than 24 hours?

No.  That did not happen.  However, Jim Calhoun did get his own version of “Seven Minutes in Heaven,” at Rick Pitino’s expense.  Louisville jumped out to a 14-9 lead in the first 5 minutes but then went scoreless for seven minutes.  That allowed the Huskies to climb back into it, taking a 28-26 lead.  Then came the under 4 minutes-TV Timeout.  This is where it got interesting.

 “Round, round, round…I get around!”  What the hell target audience is ESPN going after?  Louisville could have used some of that freedom and mobility, as the Cards did not score for the final 5:12 of the first half.  HAHA, over 12 minutes of scoreless basketball.  That is not the only astonishingly awful statistic for the Louisville Cardinals…2…two free throw attempts, two free throw makes (100%, yes, go ahead and celebrate that).   With a 38-26 lead at halftime, the UConn Huskies would extend and keep the lead at a comfortable 10 to 15 points before closing it out for the 68-51 victory. Mike Anthony of the Hartford Courant tells us, “Louisville fans began leaving with a just under four minutes remaining.”  UConn was led by Jeff Adrien’s 18 points.

If we were Louisville, we would blame the Hoveround and their  “free in-home-test-drive.”  Sadly, that was the most entertaining 2 minutes of the broadcast.


Don’t (go to) sleep on the WCC

January 30, 2009
Zags fly high late night

Zags fly high late night

On Thursday at 11pm many peeps on the East Coast were either hopping into bed to prepare for another dress-down Friday, or were partaking in Thirsty Thursday because Jager bombs are generally six bucks.  Either way,  St. Mary’s – Gonzaga did not receive the exposure it deserved.

Do you come from a land down under?  St. Mary’s came into Spokane with the nation’s longest winning streak, 15, and they’ve done it with a handful of Aussies. Patty Mayonnaise Mills leads the unit and might be the best point guard in the country, a title he proved worthy of in the first half with six threes that gave him his scoring average in just the first 20 minutes of play…but that would be it for Mr. Mills.  

The all-world guard broke his hand early in the second half, and will be out for the next month according to Andy Katz. The ‘Zags came out salivating and took advantage of a Gaels team lacking a legit ball-handler and scoring threat. Mark Few’s teami initiated the attack with a 12-0 run and never looked back, picking up an important 69-62 victory.

The Zags got their points in “score by committee form,” with 4 players going for double digits, led by Matt Bouldin’s 17 (Dan Dickau wanna-be).  Bud Wither’s of the Seattle Times reports that Zags Coach Mark Few called it a “Morrison-like effort.”  We thought we would be rid of that guy, but he still haunts us.


Next time, face guard!

January 28, 2009

James Johnson gives hope to young men looking to make it out of Cheyenne, Wyoming

James Johnson gives hope to young men looking to make it out of Cheyenne

It always blows our mind when we see a player or team disregard fundamentals, emit a brain-fart, then subsequently lose based on that breakdown.

Tonight Gerald Henderson–after hitting very Kobe-like mid range jumper that tied the game in the final seconds–forgot about the Cardinal rule of defense: stay BETWEEN your man and the ball.  This forgetfulness allowed Demon Deacons forward James Johnson to slip to the basket for an easy lay-in, giving Wake Forest a 70-68 win with just 0.8 seconds remaining.

After the game the Blue Devils seemed to play the “well…what ha..what happened was…” card and said they are taught to switch on all-screens, and weren’t sure what went wrong. That’s probably the right approach, and it will be interesting to see how Coach K covers up this mishap.  Bottom line, they lost because they effed up.

What’s overlooked in all this is that Wake Forest looked like the better team tonight, frankly, playing great defense that resulted in 10 steals and nine blocks. They may have let a 13 point lead slip away, but they were clearly superior down low, and hindered the Blue Devils from behind the arc (where they were 4 of 22), something we know they are highly reliant on.

So Duke’s view from the top will last just as long as the team able to dethrone them, and have now lost in five of their last six visits to Winston-Salem.

Let’s welcome UCONN to the top spot…for now.


Let’s not protect our house

January 22, 2009
Chest bumps are free, VT can party like a Rockstar

Chest bumps are free, VT can party like a Rockstar

Not a good night to be wearing the home threads. Wednesday night we saw two top 10 teams go down in their own gym, including current top dawg Wake Forest.  The Demon Deacons appeared disinterested in actually maintaining their #1 ranking, and were pounded by Virginia Tech.  Jeff Teague, who we tagged as ACC POY earlier this week, pitched a tent and posted up camp beyond the 3 point line when his team was down in the final minutes.  This kid could be the salesman for those knives that cut through phonebooks with the way he can slash through defenses off the dribble, but his nonchalant attitude towards the end made us question his determination.  Dan Collins of the Winston Salem Journal reports that even Wake’s own James Johnson questions the Demon Deacon’s desire.  Combine the POY statue with the four bulldozer charges in the final minutes and Wake pretty much handed the game to the Hokies.  An ugly win, but a win it was and Seth Greenberg walked off the court as fast as he could, like he stole something. 

Despite missing four consecutive free throws with just under two minutes to play (Big Ten Punchline), Northwestern got their first win in East Lansing since the Reagan administration.  Led by a spastic 6’8″ Kevin Coble and his 31 points, the Wildcats put together their second straight conference win 70-67.  The loss by the Spartans was their first loss at home in 28 games, third longest streak running in NCAA Basketball.  According to Shannon Shelton at the Detroit Free Press, Tom Izzo knew that this day was a foregone conclusion.


All is well in the Steel City

January 20, 2009
Sam Young looks old

Sam Young looks old

We don’t have any desire to live in Pittsburgh, but it’s certainly not a bad time for residents there to “rep yo’ city.”

With Big Ben Roethlisberger and Santonio Holmes in attendance, the Panthers recovered from Saturday’s loss to Louisville, getting a good looking win over Syracuse.  Sam Young scored 19 of his 22 points in the second half, as Pitt employed brute strength and ran away with this one, writes Bud Poliquin of the Syracuse Post-Standard.

Bill Raftery, Jay Bilas and Sean McDonough exchanged friendly jabs throughout, and were briefly joined by Steve Andress, a ‘Cuse broadcasting student (probably part of the quasi-elitist “Newhouse School”) as part of their Campus Connection week.

The match-up we were following during the game:  Levance Fields vs. Jonny Flynn.  Two top guards with different styles of play.  Fields wins the battle and the war here– as he was much more effective from the field (7-11 for 15 points) than his counterpart (Flynn was a dismal 3-14, getting  6 of his 12 points at the free throw line).

Elsewhere in the Big East, Providence holds firm over Cincinnati.  For what it’s worth, the Friars are solidifying themselves as the ninth best team in the conference and appear on track to receive an at-large bid.


And then there was one

January 17, 2009
National POY

In ink: ACC POY; Pencil in: National POY

Prior to Saturday afternoon, there were three undefeated teams left in all of Division I basketball, Wake Forest, Clemson and Pittsburgh and by Saturday night it would only be possible for two teams to remain unblemished.  In a battle of the unbeatens, Wake traveled down to Death Valley to take on Clemson.  The game did not live up to the hype as Clemson was not able to stick with the Demon Deacons.  Dan Collins of the Winston Salem Journal says the key to the Saturday’s 78-68 victory was the team’s ability to stick together and grind it out for the road W.  Once again Jeff Teague placed himself at the top of the list for Player of the Year candidates with his 24 points and 5 dimes.

The most entertaining moment of the night came at the disposal of Wake Forest goon Chas McFarland:

 

 


ACC tops the Big East

January 17, 2009
Yeah, their togetherness pisses us off too

Yeah, their togetherness pisses us off too

And so it begins…the debate for best conference.  All along the east coast the debate for strongest conference has been fairly hostile among ACC supporters and Big East supporters.  Before the season almost 100% of college basketball fans believed the Big East was the beast of the east but with team’s like Wake Forest, Clemson, Duke and UNC posting up in the Top 10 at the mid season mark, the argument gets a little hazy. 

Saturday afternoon a lot of arguments got a little more heated when Georgetown, coming off an impressive home victory over Syracuse earlier that week, traveled into the Cameron Crazy Kingdom to take on the Dukies.  Earlier in the week, even Coach K got into the mix, proclaiming that the ACC is better than the Big East.  Well, his team responded, defeating the G’town Hoyas 76-67.  The game remained tight until Duke went on an 11-0 run to finish the final 4:38 of the first half.  Duke seemed to have it in cruise control for the remainder of the game.  The debate will finally be settled in March when the dust settles and one by one teams are eliminated.


‘Cuse goes Run and Gun on ND

January 17, 2009
Looking much more comfortable in the Dome

Looking much more comfortable in the Dome


Over 40 of Syracuse’s 93 points came on the fast break to get a much needed rebound win over Notre Dame, 93-74.  ‘Cuse didn’t only score on the fast break but they also exposed Luke Harangody’s sub-par defensive abilities as Syracuse’s front line scored 48 points on 21-31 from the floor.  Six players scored in double figures for the Orange, who may give the #1 Pittsburgh Panthers a scare on Monday in Pitt.  Johnny Flynn hit big shots and dished out 9 assists.   David Lefko draws attention to the debate on Johnny Flynn, but we know Johnny Flynn is clearly the engine on this team and they will go as far as Flynn can carry them.


Quickie Recap 1/15: Purdue prevails, X edges Rams, Tubby remains atop the Big 10

January 16, 2009
A game that should not have resulted in this picture

A game that should not have resulted in this picture

How about a round of Boilermakers? some applause for the Boilermakers?  Down by eleven with just under eight minutes to go, Purdue rallied to prevent a potential upset by Big 10 dormat Northwestern.  JaJuan Johnson was the hero by hitting two free throws with two ticks left on the clock, but he got it twisted.  He meant to miss the second of the two to force a long distance heave, the result: an intentionally unintentional bank in, which gave the Wildcats a decent shot at a desperation three ball.  Rick Gano of the Indianapolis Star believes the defense of the Boilermakers is what helped them overcome their 22 turnovers. Purdue will now be tested on the road, facing Wisconsin and Minnesota in upcoming games.  Mike Greenberg’s school drops to 0-4 in the conference.

Moving over to the A-10, the X was able to squeak by Rhody the Ram 67-65.  This game was ugly on both ends, with multiple series of turnover…fast-break…turnover…fast-break.  A vicious cycle. Dante Jackson gave X the lead for good with 1:30 left , moving them to 14-2 on the year.  Paul Kenyon of the Providence Journal says the Rams are living a real life version of the movie “Groundhog Day.” Xavier should walk all over La Salle and St. Bonaventure before making their trip to the Bayou to take on LSU, who is undefeated at home this year.

Over in Madison, it took extra time for the Tubby Smith’s Golden Gophers to put away Da Badgers of Wisconsin.  After forcing OT with a long range bomb with two seconds left, Lawrence Westbrook reeled off 9 of the Gophers 16 points in OT to secure the win.  Mark Stewart of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel quotes Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan saying “the Badgers wilted under the pressure.” Yep, Bo knows wilting. The Golden Gophers are quietly making some noise at 16-1 and walking into The Barn is no easy task.


Quickie Recap 1/14: Georgetown defends turf, Spartans survive scare

January 15, 2009

Syracuse Georgetown Basketball

Georgetown led from start to finish, and connected on 12 of 21 three pointers, to hand Syracuse their first conference loss. The Washington Post’s Mike Wise writes that the Hoyas “dissected Jim Boeheim’s signature zone in an 88-74 win.” The Hoyas held a 20 point lead late in the first half, and kept the margin no smaller than eight until the end of the game. Just another day in the Big East.

Here in Boston, it was kind of a like a one-round “We Beat UNC” invitational.  Wake Forest showed they’re a real contender, while Boston College showed their unexpected win in Chapel Hill was a complete aberration. The Globe’s Bob Ryan is wondering if the that win really happened. The Demon Deacons outscored the Eagles by 20 in the first half, and never looked back. Jeff Teague had 29.

Also in the ACC, Duke overcame some rough first half shooting to cruise past Georgia Tech. Depending on how you look at it, both teams still get a win today — as front and center on the Atlanta Journal Constitution sports page is heralded recruit Derrick Favors sporting a fresh GT hat, as he’s officially committed to play for Paul Hewins. Favors has already said he’s most likely a one-and-done, and during the game Jay Bilas touched on the lack of a foundation for Tech, as Favors joins a list (Stephon Marbury, Chris Bosh, Thaddeus Young) of blue chippers with no real intentions of building a legacy at the school.

Illinois is quietly putting together a nice season in Champaign.  They’re 3-1 in the Big 10 and offset their one loss to Meeeeghican with a win last night over the Wolverines.  Now they turn their attention to Michigan St. A victory Saturday would be their fourth over a ranked opponent.

Speaking of the Spartans, Penn State chipped a 17 point deficit all the down to one with a minute-thirty remaining, but lost the free throw game– losing 78-73.  A moral victory at best. Nonetheless, it was a great point guard match-up between Kalin Lucas and Taylor Battle, writes Mark Viera of the Detroit Free Press.  The sophomore Battle is a tough guard averaging 19 a game. And along with senior scorers Stanley Pringle and Jamelle Cornley,  the Nittany Lions could be on the bubble come March.


Quickie Recap 1.12: Big Monday Premieres

January 13, 2009
Forgetting the object of OT, score to win

Forgetting the object of OT, score to win

The premiere of ESPN’s Big Monday brought us a Big East match up that was intense for all 40 minutes…of regulation.  Someone forgot to tell Mike Brey’s Notre Dame team that an OT loss, still counts as a loss.  Louisville defeated Notre Dame 87-73, Notre Dame only scored 2 points in 5 minutes of overtime. 

Both teams did look sharp in regulation, combining for 19 three pointers.  The game was a back and forth battle all throughout regulation, but with 3:23 to go both teams remained locked at 71.  And then Louisville went off.  Terrence Williams fell two assists shy of a triple-double, tallying 24 points, 16 rebounds and 8 dimes.  Frosh, Samardo Samuels looked like he is starting to get the Big East style of play, being able to post 18 points, 6 boards and 4 “return to sender” blocks.  Notre Dame did get 28 points and 13 rebounds out of Luke Harangody, however it all came in the first 34 minutes of play.  Saturday Louisville will host #1 Pittsburgh and Notre Dame will travel to “The Dome” to take on #8 Syracuse.

The Red River Shootout was the nightcap from Norman, Oklahoma.  The Oklahoma Sooners took control early in the Big 12 rivalry and never looked back at the Longhorns of Texas.  The closest the game ever was, was during the first 19 seconds of the game before Oklahoma made it 2-0.  There were no lead changes and no ties throughout the game.  Oklahoma was led by none other than Blake Griffin, who got his 14th double-double, racking up 20 points and 10 rebounds.  Frosh PG Willie Warren added 17 points.  Had Texas standout AJ Abrams not gone 3-15 from beyond the arc, the story of the game could have drastically changed, but we will have to wait until February 21st when Oklahoma travels to Austin.