Tag:UConn Huskies
Posted on: February 22, 2011 11:46 pm

How Calhoun, UConn Got Off "Easy"

I’m not really a fan of all this talk about Jim Calhoun and the University of Connecticut Men’s Basketball program getting off with a lenient sentence from the NCAA today. And no, I’m not being a homer, I’m dead serious, I don’t get it. For the record, this is not about the players the NCAA regularly screws (see K-State’s Jacob Pullen), this is strictly about a coach, a program and a school. And I don’t see what’s wrong with the punishments handed out today.

Why? Because, I’m actually going to try and figure out exactly what Jim Calhoun and UConn did during this whole disaster involving Nate Miles.

First, there’s this former student manager turned agent Josh Nochimson, who is being sued former Husky Richard Hamilton for allegedly stealing $1 million from him when he was his personal assistant. Why is he talking to a HS recruit in the first place? Anyway, he is talking to Miles and apparently giving him a bunch of free stuff, huge NCAA no-no. In return for free stuff, Miles looks at UConn, where an asst. coach and basketball staffer have been in regular contact with Nochimson (another huge no-no). Why is anyone talking to this agent guy anyway? And why is AD Jeff Hathaway and the UConn Compliance Department fallen asleep at the wheel? And why hasn’t Calhoun just ditched this kid and his baggage?

Okay, so Miles gets dismissed from the school, the two UConn basketball staffers/coaches resign because they apparently misled/lied to the NCAA and all while Calhoun isn’t “promoting an atmosphere of compliance?” Let’s read off the list of things gone wrong during Calhoun’s tenure as UConn basketball coach.

1996 – NCAA Tournament appearance forfeited after two players accepted plane tickets from an agent.

That’s it. That’s the list. And let’s run down Connecticut’s history of major NCAA violations:

2010 – Nate Miles Recruitment

This is UConn’s first major violation. EVER. For all sports. Somehow I think an “atmosphere of compliance” is generally associated with UConn and its athletic programs. And perhaps I’m wrong about this and there’s some obscure violation that Google can’t find. Please post it below, I’d love to read about it.

There are reports that Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl is about to get slammed by the NCAA. Why? Because he had a recruit over at his house during a barbecue, which honestly doesn’t sound all that bad since he ended up playing somewhere else. Oh, wait, Pearl lied about it to the NCAA. Yikes…um…that’s not good. And a quick Google of “Tennessee Vols NCAA Violations” turns up not only Pearl’s story but multiple stories about their football program, especially during Lane Kiffin’s brief tenure.

You see, it’s not just Pearl on trial with the NCAA but Tennessee as well. The NCAA sees Jim Calhoun, a coach with nary a violation on his resume, certainly not a major one, and a school with a history of doing things the right way. That’s why I think Calhoun and UConn got off “easy” because first time offenders usually do.

At the end of the day, the UConn Men’s Basketball program screwed up. And Calhoun might be the captain of that ship, but there is plenty of blame to go around here to people at UConn, formerly associated with UConn and outside the program as well. Is this a learning experience for Calhoun and UConn, absolutely. And if that experience doesn’t keep the UConn Huskies out of the NCAA proverbial doghouse, then you’ll see the punishments start flying.

Look, I understand the NCAA has a very difficult job. I’m sure that the NCAA and its member schools (for the most part) are not trying to commit violations, but understandably they will happen. But it is how schools and the people associated with them handle the situation is just as important as what the violation is. Do I think Calhoun and UConn handled it perfectly? Probably not.

But how many more sanctions do you want for a recruiting violation against a school where the recruit never played a game for the school? Had Miles not gotten kicked off campus and played for the Huskies, I’d be crushing Calhoun and Jeff Hathaway right now and probably writing about a multiple year post-season ban for the UConn Huskies. Right now, I hope that Hathaway, Calhoun and the rest of the UConn Athletic Dept. are working tirelessly to make sure this doesn’t happen again. Especially in the next three years.

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: December 28, 2010 4:46 pm

UConn Not A Top 5 Team (This Year)

I've been saying this for awhile now. How the heck are my homestate Huskies ranked No. 5 in the country? It doesn't make sense. I've seen them play. Kemba Walker is amazing. Alex Oriakhi is coming into his own. UConn has a lot of talented youngsters that are contributing. But are they a top-5 team? No, not this year anyway.

The game against Pitt proves this. Walker had a slow start and UConn fell behind and never recovered. This is what is going to happen to the Huskies this year. People who expected greatness from them after Maui will be disappointed. They had a good stretch of games with no pressure on them. Now heading into the Big East, the most dreaded gauntlet in college basketball, they aren't going to suprise anyone. They will still win games, but everyone knows who they're playing. This won't be another down year for UConn.

The Connecticut Huskies might have a Top-5 resume after their Maui Invitational victory last month, and definitely would have had a top resume with a win at Pitt yesterday, but really that game only proved what I already knew. UConn is good, but they aren't at an elite team level yet.

Duke is there, when are they not. Pitt surely can be there at the end of the season as can a number of Big East teams. Ohio State and Kansas won't be any fun to play come March. My Huskies? I wouldn't want to play them in March. I'd want to be as far away from Kemba Walker as possible. But an early conference game in late December at home? Bring it on.

What the Huskies accomplished in Maui last month was really quite spectacular. Kemba Walker took control of those games and owned the moment. He certainly can do that in March. But in the regular season against a Big East schedule? UConn isn't going to dominate every game. It's impossible. Walker can't sustain his level of play all year like he did for three games in Maui. The rest of the young UConn Huskies will have to do something.

And give those young Huskies a year of seasoning (there are 7 freshman on the UConn roster, including Spring 2011 semester add Enosch Wolf from Germany) with Jim Calhoun and Kemba Walker for his senior season (assuming he doesn't go to the NBA), and look out in 2011 because the Huskies will be a force. And the Huskies will have prized recruit Ryan Boatright, a PG from Illinois to add to the mix as well.

But for 2010? The Huskies are good. Top 25 good. Perhaps 5-seed good come Big East and NCAA tournament time. But they are not Top 5 good. Not yet. But give it time.
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: February 17, 2010 11:57 am

Mid-Week Mini-Rants - A Tale of Two UConn's

Here in the state of Connecticut, sports fans value our UConn Huskies over everything else. Yes, even our new UFL team that will play in Hartford next year. So how many people were suprised that the UConn Men, a very enigmatic team, won a decisive game at No. 3 Villanova? Probably a few, but that win still put the Connecticut Huskies back onto the bubble with a host of other Big East schools. The men now have two wins over Top 5 teams, a true road win and again, the number one schedule in the country. What it has going against it is it's conference record in the Big East, where it has lost to several of those bubble teams. Are the men in? No, but winning 4 out of thier last 5 and a good Big East tournament wouldn't hurt.

The normally dominant UConn Women found themselves in a rare position against Oklahoma on Monday: losing in the 2nd half. Okay, so it was for like maybe 30 seconds and they won by 16 increasing their winning streak to 65 games (all by double-digits). I don't know who is capable of beating the UConn women, but they do play at Notre Dame later in the season. I think in order for Geno Auriemma's team to lose, they're going to have to beat themselves, and for a team that strives for perfection on every possesion, that's going to be tough. Strange Monday night though, the UConn Men had one of their best games and the Women well, didn't. Was there a full moon Monday night? Where's my almanac...

Two quick things from that UConn-Oklahoma game. One, when Rebecca Lobo (former UConn player, Nat. Champ in '95) asked Geno a standard post-game interview question, Geno looked at Lobo sideways before answering. I turned to my Dad and said, "How long is it going to take Lobo to change up her questions, Geno knows them all." My Dad's answer, "What else is there to ask?" Sigh, good point. It's a shame Geno knows it too. Two, Oklahoma, UConn and scores of other women's teams across the country breaking out pink jerseys in memory of NC State's Kay Yow. For those oblivious to the situation, Coach Yow is a former Wolfpack coach who lost her battle with cancer recently, and much like another Wolfpack coach, Jim Valvano, both coaches have left a legacy both on and off the court and it's always nice to see the rest of the country salute these two coaching greats.

Memo to NBC: Not everyone in the country wants to watch figure skating in primetime. Please find one of your secondary networks and put something else on for the rest of us. And it's more people than you think. I'm not knocking figure skating or pairs dancing or whatever it is, I just don't care for it. Where's the curling or hockey replays? Anything for the love of my sanity please.

Memo to Gary Parrish: I am a big fan of yours. I love your Poll Attacks entries where you rip AP writers for being idiots. Can you find out who wrote the Rider-St. Peter's recap on Monday and rip their ballot (or their newspaper's ballot) for not knowing which Thompson scored 21 points to lead the Broncs to victory. Would it be the senior Ryan Thompson (who is now 5th all-time at Rider in scoring) or the freshman Jonathan Thompson (might be related but didn't score in the St. Peter's game)? Also find out why no one from CBS bothered to care about the MAAC and correct it. I would be forever grateful and could count you as the second professional sports person to read and react to my blog. The first, Eagles Head Coach Andy Reid (unconfirmed but I'm counting it anyway) read my letter/entry to him and then ran the ball to victory over the Bears.
Posted on: January 18, 2010 2:12 pm

Road Trip - Gampel Pavilion, Storrs, CT

Going to a UConn game for any sport is an amazing event anytime you go. At least if you're a Connecticut resident, student, etc. We care so much about our basketball, that our women's games are broadcast on public television. At least the one's not televised nationally, like the ND-UConn game last Saturday. I was going to spend my Saturday night flipping between NFL Playoffs and the UConn Women. So when one of my Dad's old HS friends came up with tickets, we didn't hesitate to say yes and make the 90-minute drive north to Storrs. And my cousin (UConn student) was very disappointed that we did not get up and drive for the GameDay preview at Gampel at like 11 AM. Highlights of that included the student's booing a story on Tennessee and Pat Summit, an interview with coach Auriemma and booing Digger Phelps' ND pick.

For the first time in its history, ESPN's College GameDay played host to a women's basketball game. And for the second time, they chose to start at the University of Connecticut. The first Men's GameDay was also at UConn for a Jan. 22, 2005 game between Pitt and UConn.
The first women's contest featured the most dominating program in recent basketball memory, the UConn Huskies (ranked #1) and Geno Auriemma vs. the #3 ranked Norte Dame Fighting Irish. It was supposed to be another test for the vaunted Huskies on their quest for a perfect season and national title. ND was supposed to put up a fight much like the current #2 team Stanford did. Unfortunately, the Irish didn't get the memo early enough.

This game turned into a rout amlost immeadiately. The Huskies could do nothing wrong on defense, and did not allow the Irish to break double-digit points until the 7:45 mark in the 1st half. The Irish never led in this game and were down 24-4 at the 12:31 mark after UConn free throws. The Irish shot under 27% for the game and only 58% from the FT line in a 70-46 national TV beatdown.

So far, many teams have taken their shots at the Huskies. ND will get another chance late in the regular season and probably in the Big East tournament. Stanford led the Huskies at the half, but lost by 12. Rutgers, Duke and other women's powerhouses will have their chance.

But if UConn is playing anywhere near the level of defense as they did against ND, no one will beat them this year. But that doesn't mean that the Huskies aren't without flaws. They struggled in the 2nd half offensively, scoring only 28 points but holding the Irish to 27. Maya Moore and Christine Doty shot a combined 2-14 from 3-PT range and the Huskies were 2-18 as a team. ND had 14 offensive rebounds and both teams combined for 37 turnovers. UConn's bench scored only 7 points and starter Tiffany Hayes was held scoreless.
Coach Auriemma always strives for perfection and there was a lot to find, even in a win by moer than 20 points.

But there is a reason GameDay chose once again to start a college basketball tradition at Storrs. The entire building is loaded with Connecticut's basketball history. And while everyone knows the programs that Auriemma and Jim Calhoun have built, Gampel is loaded with Big East banners, NCAA Tournament appearances and Player of the Year winners. And for a state that worships college basketball (and UConn) and has the only WNBA team in a non-NBA city (the Connecticut Sun), maybe we appreciate it more than most. Aside from the Sun, it's not like we have another top-flight pro team in the state. That is, until the Whalers come back, which is happening. I can feel it. So the state and its fans will continue to support its Huskies. And they likely will continue to be dominant for the forseeable future.

And ESPN will continue to televise their games and bring it's GameDay crew with them. Also, I was able to speak briefly with Digger Phelps, who is actually a Rider Bronc. That's right, he was a former player at Rider and he and I are alumni, although he visits ND more than Rider I'm sure. I did not get to ask him how he liked his ND pick (the Irish were down by 20 when I talked to him) but I'm sure his counterparts reminded him. Yes, ESPN has it's own ND Basketball homer in Phelps, a former Irish coach, is the basketball version of Lou Holtz. Always picks the Irish. At least he was committed to it. And by the way, there were multiple signs that reminded the Irish of their 2OT defeat to the UConn football team last season. Just wanted to rub it in.

So after a very entertaining game (for UConn fans anyway), and visiting Gampel for the first time (I've been to the Hartford Civic Center/XL Center 6 times) and shaking hands with the greatest GameDay analyst of all-time (if you're from Rider), I have to say it was a pretty good night. 

Now if we could only get the UConn Men to beat someone...
Posted on: November 24, 2009 3:51 pm
Edited on: November 24, 2009 3:53 pm

UConn "Upsets" Notre Dame

There are a lot of upsets every season in sports. Pro, College it doesn't matter. But most of these so called upsets probably shouldn't be called "upsets." Upsets are FCS teams beating FBS teams (or Div. 1-A over 1-AA for those of you who remember). Upsets are ranked home teams losing non-conference games to unranked teams. Everything else, should really just be another game.

But in the cases of big, historical programs like Notre Dame, or Southern Cal, or Florida, every loss is an upset.

And I say that's garbage. Who determine's the favorite and underdogs? Vegas setting the lines? The talking heads on ESPN and CBS? Can a professional team of football players be "upset" by another group of professionals?

Do all big schools automatically gain "favorite" status because they have resources far greater than that FCS cupcake on their schedule?

And most importantly, did UConn really upset Notre Dame on Saturday? History, Vegas and the talking heads will all say yes. I'm saying no. Randy Edsall didn't think it was an upset either. He's a pretty smart guy.

What UConn has done in the last few years since joining Division 1 or the FBS or whatever it's called, they've probably accomplished more than Notre Dame has. In fact Notre Dame has probably regressed and is stuck in the big program's worst nightmare: mediocrity.

UConn should not be the school that "got Charlie Weis fired." What the UConn program and Randy Edsall have been through this season transends football, both emotionally and physically. Yet in every game this season, this young team that lost so much talent last year, has competed to the last minute. In five losses this season, UConn's margin of defeat is three. Five losses by a combined 15 points, most of them late in the 4th quarter.

But on top of everything they've gone through this year, they are one win away from bowl eligibility.

Anyone remember that Cincinnati game this year? They were a two-point conversion away from sending the No. 5 team in the country into overtime. Whould that have been an upset? According to the rankings, sure. UConn handed Cincy it's only Big East lost last season in 2008. They wouldn't have called it an upset. UConn lost so many close games, including three after the death of Jasper Howard, that if left many fans wondering if it would ever come.

But it did, and on National TV to a reeling Notre Dame team on Senior Day. In fact, I don't know if the Irish could finish in the top half of the Big East if it joined today with Navy. The Irish have lost to Pitt, Navy (twice), Syracuse and UConn in the last 3 years, and that's only off the top of my head.

If you want to talk talent, look at last year's NFL Draft. On Day 1 (Rounds 1 and 2), UConn had four players selected. Only two schools had that many, Southern Cal and Ohio State, one of which had five. Little UConn put up as many NFL players as two of the game's giants. And Randy Edsall has been doing this for years, turning average recruited talent (according to the talent talking heads) and winning with it. UConn has 3 bowl appearances, two wins and a Big East title (co-champs with WVU in '07) in their first five years of Big East play.

And now Notre Dame is probably looking for a new coach. Brian Kelly of Cincinnati has been mentioned, but he's only a football playoff away from playing for a national title. The Bearcats are very close to having back-to-back Big East titles and are opening a new practice facility.

And what does ND have to offer: Tons of pressure, a smaller recruiting base due to academics and an angry fan base.

Good luck with that. I'll stick to my PapaJohn's Bowl and be thankful for it.

Posted on: April 6, 2009 1:22 pm

Long Weekend Recovery - UConn Men/Sunday Sports

Saturday night was a depressing evening. The dream of an all-Big East championship was crushed. I watched the UConn Huskies struggle to do anything against a scrappy group of Spartans from Michigan State. Then I watched Villanova get demolished by UNC, ending the Big East's run in the Men's NCAA Tourament. Not only that, I lost my dorm bracket pool to my roommate, who has Michigan State winning it all. How do you recover from such a bitter night? Watch more sports of course!

Sunday was a fantastic day of sports for me. After a night of rejection and heartbreak, I was treated to an entire day of victory.

Jeff Gordon snaps losing streak at Texas

NASCAR?!?!?! Who watches NASCAR? FYI, it's better than F1 or Indy Cart. Why? Because you've actually heard of everyone in the race. Anyway, I jumped into the race with about 50 laps to go. This gave me enough time to see Carl Edwards lose the lead on a poor pit stop and Jeff Gordon to hold off a charging Jimmie Johnson to win his first race at Texas and end a 47-race winless streak. The best part of all this? Gordon is leading the points standings early in the season and is looking for his 5th NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship.

Derek Lowe, Braves shutout Phillies on Opening Day

For the record, I think Derek Lowe's contract is reprehensible. It's terrible. I hate it. But he continues to pitch like he did last night, I'm going to have to change my mind on that in a hurry. Lowe went 8 shutout innings and was supported with a barrage of homers from Brian McCann, Jeff Francoeur and rookie Jordan Schafer. Schafer also became the 99th player in MLB history to hit a homer in his first career at-bat. Mike Gonlazez had a shaky 9th inning to close the game, but a win is a win. The Phillies also celebrated their 2008 World Series Championship complete with video highlights, raising a championship flag and a first pitch by former GM Pat Gillick. And who ruined it? Larry "Chipper" Jones and the HOTlanta Braves. Good times.

UConn Women Rout Stanford, Reach Title Game

A friend of mine adamantly told me that Stanford would crush the Huskies last night. Needless to say, he was wrong. I was hoping for an all-Big East title game, but I figured it was more likely to come from the Men's side. But thanks to Louisville's upset over Courtney Paris and Oklahoma, the Women's side will be an Big East affair. One problem with both title games though? Both favorites have blowout wins over the underdogs (UNC 98-63 @ Ford Field; UConn 93-65 @ Storrs, CT/UConn 75-36 @ Hartford, CT - Big East Tournament Final). So I'm hoping that the two finals won't be a repeat of the earlier contests, because I know CBS and ESPN hate the UConn Men and Oklahoma Women, respectfully, for potentially producing two snoozers. Imagine the hype for a UConn-UNC and a UConn-Oklahoma title game. Might make my previous blog entry relevent.

Anyway, numerous friends of mine asked me if I was okay with the UConn men losing. Aside from losing a small bracket pool to my roommate, I was fine with it. This loss was nothing compared to the George Mason upset from a few years ago (and that was no where near the worst loss of my life - Bucs over the Eagles - 2002 NFC Championship). Had UConn played better or "well enough to win the game" (an arbitrary standard that analysts use. I think it's dumb), I might have been a little more disappointed. But honestly, the UConn Men's team might have overachieved this season. After losing Jerome Dyson for the season, they struggled down the stretch losing to Syracuse in that epic 6 OT thriller and Pittsburgh twice. They weren't the same team and didn't have the same depth. Yes, Stanley "Sticks" Robinson, A.J. Price and freshman Kemba Walker were phenomenal this season, especially after Dyson went down with the injury. But UConn just wasn't as deep with out Dyson. UConn really only used a 7-man rotation for the last half of the year with Thabeet, Adrien, Robinson, Austrie and Price as the starting 5 and Walker and Gavin Edwards coming off the bench. Having Dyson allows UConn to go smaller more often with three guards and giving the big guys some more rest.

Overall, fans might remember this UConn season more for the failures, Dyson's injury, the recruiting scandal and the Final Four loss, than the great achievements. Getting to the Final Four is no easy task and making it to the Elite 8 is still a fantastic accomplishment. Navigating through the toughest conference in college basketball should grant every player in the league some sort of combat achievement from each branch of the US Military. I hope Jim Calhoun doesn't retire. He (and Geno Auriemma) are the face of Connecticut basketball. And I still think that both coaches will win another National Championship. And I'm not counting Tuesday's game in that calculation. If the UConn Women beat Louisville for thier 6ht National title and 3rd undefeated season, Geno has to win one more on top of that.

And I know both coaches would say that they should win at least two more. Possibly three. They're just such great competitors.

But we do know one thing. If Jim Calhoun retires, he's not giving a dime back. And he shouldn't have to.

- Eagle


Posted on: April 1, 2009 12:56 pm

A Look Back at the '04 Final Four

I understand that the UConn women just beat Arizona St. last night, so maybe I'm being a little harsh (or a little homerish) when I say this but. I'm going to say it anyway.

Why is no one talking about another potential UConn Men's/Women's Tournament sweep?

The two teams first accomplished the feat in 2004, the first time that one school had swept both basketball titles.

They could do it again this year, but I haven't heard anyone talk about it. The worldwide leader, ESPN, is located in Bristol, CT. That's a hop, skip and a jump away from UConn's stomping grounds in Storrs and Harford, CT. The entire state of Connecticut (more or less) loves watching UConn and college basketball. I just put 2 and 2 together. I got 4 and ESPN got something else. There's no explanation for this in my opinion. It's a terrible job by them, again, in my opinion. Don't think your off the hook either, CBS. I haven't seen anyone write an article about this yet either, but I hear Gary Parrish is bored following UNC's run to the title.

Speaking of which, I have heard/read numerous stories about the UNC Men's team and how everyone assumed they would walk to the National Championship. I've heard/read stories about who can stop the UConn women before the walk to the National Championship. I've heard enough stories on John Calipari and Kentucky to last a lifetime. I've had enough of Jay Culter and the Broncos as well. What I can't get enough of is Bob Knight playing Rock Band (everyone should watch the behind the scenes clip of that commercial on ESPN, classic Knight), but I ask this again:

Why is no one talking about another potential UConn Men's/Women's Tournament sweep?

The UConn Men, led by Emeka Okafor and Ben Gordon defeated Georgia Tech in San Antonio, TX, 82-73 a night before the UConn Women, led by Diana Taurasi, dispatched rivals Tennessee in New Orleans, 70-61. That was 2004. This is 2009.

The UConn Men will have to go through Tom Izzo's Michigan St. squad, at home, in Detroit (which is perfectly fine in my book. This doesn't qualify in my earlier rant/entry about lower seeds getting home games. Final Four sites are pre-determined. See Ohio St-Siena for the men and Rutgers-Auburn on the women's side), before taking on the winner of UNC-Nova. The Women's team will have to dispatch the Stanford Cardinal, who beat them in last year's Final Four (the Women's team last loss as well), before taking on the winner of Oklahoma-Louisville.

This is far from a guaranteed thing however. The Men will have to defeat at least one (possibly two) NCAA Championship winning coaches in Izzo and Williams and potentially a Big East rival in Villanova. The Women will have to dispatch their new nemesis in Stanford and then try to defend Courtney Paris and Oklahoma or Big East rival Louisville. And if you want more proof that the Big East is the best basketball conference in the country, how about an all Big East final in both the Men's (UConn-Nova) and Women's (UConn-Louisville) Tournaments.

Let me throw a little history at you. There is only one time that one school has swept the Men's and Women's basketball titles, UConn in '04. There have been 6 undefeated women's teams to make the Final Four. The UConn Women have done it 3 of those times, 1995, 2002 and 2009. They won the title in the two other years as well. I do not remember Jim Calhoun losing in a game when he's been a top seed (1/2) in the West Regional. The UConn Men won their previous two titles as top seeds in the West/Phoenix, AZ regionals. This year, they were the #1 seed in the Glendale, AZ regional.

I understand that neither UConn team has even gotten to the championship game yet, but that doesn't mean the national media can't explore all their options. There are very few states in the U.S. that care more about college sports that pro sports, and I dare say that Connecticut is one of them (your dead to me Karmanos, DEAD!). But this could be another history making weekend in the NCAA tournament. And no one seems to care.

So, if no one's going to care, I demand that Bob Knight's commercial and his behind the scenes footage, be played on a continuous loop until some writes about UConn. Or I get tired of see Knight in his boxers. Odds are, I'll get tired of Knight first, and that's a shame.

- Eagle

P.S. - Bonus points to anyone who know the "Karmanos" reference. You have to live outside of Connecticut (because everyone in CT should know) and not use Google also (because that would be cheating, but feel free to Google it for reference).

Posted on: March 28, 2009 10:46 am
Edited on: March 28, 2009 8:13 pm

Thoughts on the Madness

Author's Note (3/28 - 7:40pm) - This entry was featured on the CBS Homepage under the Featured Blogs and Groups section on March 28th. After I noticed this I fixed a few grammatical errors and added a point on Oklahoma that I wanted to add.

I realized that with Dantheman's amazing blog (which everyone should read) on the NCAA Tourney, that well, there was already a market for previews and whatnot, so I abstained from posting a few entries the past few weeks. So instead, here's a few rambling thoughts that I havae scribbled down in my head for the week or so.

Bubble Team Who got Shafted: St. Mary's. Come on people, there were a total of 4 (FOUR!!!) at-large bids to mid-majors this year. That is shameful, but as a HUGE mid-major fan, I am biased. How do we solve this problem, easy. Which "BCS" conference had to many teams make the field: the Big Ten. No disrespect to the Big Ten, but you got 7 teams into the NCAA tourney, the same as the Big East and the ACC. I will give you 6 teams and replace Minnesota with St. Mary's as a 10 seed against Texas. Don't even have to change the bracket. But Eagle, wasn't Wisconsin the last team in from the Big Ten? And what about Arizona? Yes, but I liked Wisconsin more then Minnesota AND Arizona has the talent to compete in the NCAAs as we saw during their run to the Sweet 16. So there.

Team Who Got NO Respect Before the Tourney Started: UConn. And, no I'm not being a homer, it's true. Forget the Yahoo! Sports recruiting story for a moment. The Huskies shouldn't have been a 1 seed. They should have. The Huskies played their first round game without their Hall of Fame head coach. George Blaney's a pretty good coach too. The Huskies are playing without their best shooter, Jerome Dyson. His replacement Craig Austrie had 17 against Purdue, and there's still Thabeet, Adrien, Robinson and Price on your starting 5. You don't think they're playing with a chip on their shoulder? You don't think they didn't hear all the TV talking heads saying they were the weakest 1 seed? Think again. They heard, and they answered back, by demolishing their first two opponents and dispatching a pesky Purdue team. Their game vs. Mizzou today should be a good one.

Team That I Didn't Respect Enough: Oklahoma. I like Blake and Taylor Griffin. I like them a lot. But I saw Oklahoma struggle down the stretch without Blake and figured they would do the same in the tournament. Good players win NCAA Tourney games, good TEAMS, however, win titles. I didn't respect Oklahoma as a team enough, and picked Syracuse to win. Naturally, I was wrong, which happens quite often. They demolished Syarcuse. Don't let that scoreboard fool you, that game wasn't all that close. Now we get the epic battle between Blake Griffin and Tyler Hansbrough.

Team Who Shot My Bracket on Day One: West Virginia. I had the Mountaineers in the Elite 8 against Louisville. It's not an NCAA Tourney unless I lose one of my Elite 8 teams on Day one. Still having a decent year picking games though.

I'm Gonna be Kicking Myself for this one... So one of the pools that I'm entered in wanted you to pick two bonus scorers, one for the highest single game and the other for the tournament's highest scorer. I picked D. Blair from Pitt as the Tourney scorer and Siena's Kenny Hausbrouck (I'm a MAAC homer, sorry) for the single game. This basically jinxed Hasbrouck but props to Siena for beating Ohio State on the road and taking Louisville to the wire. Sidenote: I mentioned to my Dad that there was a player who scored a rather high amount of points in a game this year, but we chose to stick with Hasbrouck anyway. That player: Ben Woodside, North Dakota St. He only dropped a tourney high 37 against Kansas. My bad Ben, I should have chosen you instead of a mortal enemy...I'm bitter.

You Know It's March When... Bill Raftery turns to his broadcasting parter and says "inthamantaman" or gets confused when someone starts out in a zone. High comedy, and it never gets old. For the record, a lot of people disliked CBS' Billy Packer because he's not as entertaining as Raftery or Gus Johnson, but I think Packer grew up in a different age of sports announcing, where the average fan wanted to know about the X's and O's of the game. Now, the average fan isn't as educated on the game (in my opinion. for example: see that random chick who always wins your office pool/NFL pool/etc.) and really wants announcers who sound excited to be there. I might miss Packer calling the Final Four, I might not. I will definately miss Raftery and Johnson when they retire however, they're two of the greats. And here's a little tribute to The Coach, Bill Raftery.

Biggest "Onions" Award : A triple order for Levance Fields 3-pointer with 50 seconds left against Xavier. Xavier had Pitt against the ropes and was winning for most of that game. But one 27-foot (or so) jumper changed everything and got Pitt into it's first regional final.

And here's a Closing Rant to bring it all home...

So I was watching the Women's selection show with my dad while we were at a local bar. Yes, in Connecticut you watch the Women's selection show, stop laughing. Anyway, I noticed a few quirks in the pod system and how several lower seeds were playing "home" games. Rutgers played at home against 2nd seeded Auburn and Michigan State played at home against top seeded Duke. On the Men's side, Ohio State as an 8 seed could have played two home games if it defeated Siena and then played Louisville in the 2nd Round. I understand that the pods sites are chosen beforehand and it's much harder on the women's side to get sites, which is why the first rounds are usually played on campus sites like in Storrs, CT or Durham, NC. But you can't give Rutgers or Michigan St. "home" games for being a middle seed. You just can't, it's not fair. I understand that money drives this tourney, but it shouldn't be the only factor. I love to see upsets in the women's game, I love to see upsets in general, but not by defending your home court. I understand that Duke and UNC will always play in Greensboro, NC because they will sellout that building, but as long as they are at least 4 seeds and deserve it, I don't care. I have no problem with Villanova playing in Philly, because they're a 3 seed and I loved them playing American (send them an order of onions too for their game, fantastic team) as a 14 seed because it's a bus ride for them from DC. Sending Portland St. to Boise, ID and giving the Portland fans a better chance to travel is a great idea and I'd like to see that happen more often. Do we need to send Cornell to Boise? Why not send them to Miami as a 14 or 13 seed in the South and Midwest regionals respectfully, keep them in the same timezone at least and let those Ivy Leaguers loose in Florida for spring break.

So get your act in gear NCAA, and fix this pod system so your not two years behind the teams playing in it because that's not fair to the teams that earned the right to play a defacto home game in the 1st and 2nd round by being a 1, 2, 3 or 4 seed.



Category: NCAAB
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