Posts tagged ‘College Basketball’
Trick question – there isn’t a dominant team in college hoops this season.
Texas’ loss last night to #9 Kansas State just proves the almighty Jay Bilas right, that this year’s Final Four is completely wide open. You can look at the nation’s top-five ranked teams and easily realize that not one team can gain 100% of one’s confidence. And I say top-five because any consideration for any team past the #5 Syracuse Orangemen, at this point, is simply a waste of time.
Texas – Obviously a great squad this year, but even more obvious that they don’t deserve the “dominance” label. The Longhorns can push it when they want to, their big men can hold their own, they have decent depth off the bench, and they have their own edition of the ‘freshman phenom’ (Avery Bradley). But as we all saw with the K-State game, Texas can be shut out of a game by a few bad calls and an exploding student section. The Horns still have to play at UConn this weekend and they have to defend homecourt when they take on the Kansas Jayhawks in February. But we also must not forget that this team has taken down a couple of respectable foes, including Pittsburgh and North Carolina.
Kentucky – Actually the only undefeated team remaining at 18-0, Coach Calipari has this squad runnin’ and gunnin’ this season. The Wildcats are touted with highly-recruited freshman and the team is certainly prospering. The play of John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, and Patrick Patterson really makes this team a threat come March. And the versatility of the entire team really scares opponents. Possibly one of the most, if not the most, athletic teams in the nation. With that being said, this team still has to face Tennessee twice, Vanderbilt, and Mississippi State at home. Can they remain undefeated? Possible, but doubtful.
Kansas – Although they have since fallen from their pre-season #1 spot, the Jayhawks are probably the closest thing to a legitimate number one team. The team is rich with talent, has their own freshman to brag about (Xavier Henry – 15 ppg), and their leadership is second to none. Sharon Collins comes up huge in big games and the big white semi-hope Cole Aldrich is a man down low. Their offense is explosive and they’re holding their opponents to just 60 ppg.
Villanova – I love the backcourt of the Villanova Wildcats that includes Redding, Reynolds, and Fisher. However, a loss at Temple cannot be in the genetic make-up of a dominant college basketball season. Yes, I understand that anything can happen in the wide world of sports but that’s literally the lone loss holding the Wildcats back. Their schedule thus far isn’t overly impressive by any means but their remaining schedule is where their name will be made. They just rolled past Georgetown last week but they still have to face WVU twice, Georgetown one more time, go on the road to Syracuse, face Harangody and the Irish, play UConn, and take their team over to Pittsburgh. And look out for Seton Hall, they have the potential to bust some Big East hopes this year.
Syracuse – They are my favorite to win the Big East this season but the Orange aren’t necessarily the dominant man in the conference. Syracuse obviously has the outstanding zone defense and their offensive ability is through the roof – as they can shoot the three, cut to the rim, and draw fouls. One specific reason why I don’t see the Orange running the table is because of how Luke Harangody and the Irish actually got behind the zone in their closer-than-appears game Monday night. I have a feeling that if the opponent can get momentum on the Orange, they begin to panic just a bit. This team does get ‘Nova late in the season and it is guaranteed to be one hell of a match-up. The Big East title will be between the Wildcats and the Orange.
And that’s about it. You’ll of course get some complaints, comments, and screeches from the typical Duke Blue Devil fan, claiming they are more than deserving of the label. However, Duke has yet to see the beef of their schedule. They still need to play at Georgetown, they have Georgia Tech at home, and they still have UNC and Maryland twice. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
Let the madness begin…
John Calipari brings his style and the recruits bring the talent. The only reason the Wildcats aren’t favorites to win the National Championship this year is because of experience, or lack thereof. But don’t be surprised as this Kentucky team can get up and down the floor quicker than any team in the nation. And if this year alone doesn’t place the fear in opposing coaches, it’s the potential years to come. Although it is likely that a majority of the starters enter the 2010 NBA Draft, Kentucky’s starting five has only ONE upperclassman (Patrick Patterson is a junior). Freshman John Wall (11), Eric Bledsoe (24), and DeMarcus Cousins (15) are absolute STUDS. Look out!
Lincoln High School’s (Brooklyn, N.Y.) Lance Stephenson was a highly regarded player ready to take the college game by storm. A 6’6 guard, Stephenson was ranked #12 in the country for the nation’s top recruits.
Many schools were in the mix, including Florida, Maryland, and Kansas, however the skilled scorer decided to attend Cincy.
What does this yell? That Stephenson didn’t necessarily have what it takes academically to succeed at UMD, Kansas, or Florida. Not to mention his pending sexual assault case back home and his amatuer status that is up for debate after he received a private tour of the Under Armour factory while on a visit to Maryland.
As much as I would have liked to have seen Stephenson as a Terp, Cincy becomes an immediate contender in the Big East for 2009. I’m not saying he’s the next Jordan, but keep your eye on this kid.
On Monday, I said John Calipari would take the Kentucky job by the end of the week, I was a few days off.
On Tuesday, John Calipari accepted the Kentucky head coaching job for an eight-year contract worth $31.65 million plus incentives. ESPN.com is also reporting that Calipari told a confidante that he was also receiving a $2.5 million signing bonus. Can you say, PAID?
And the best part about this whole deal for Coach Cal is that his top-notch recruits will most likely follow. Xavier Henry and DeMarcus Cousins will likely head to Lexington to join Coach Cal and suit up in one of the most-respected jersies in all of college basketball.
I know I have written about my support of Coach Cal’s move, but I want to make something perfectly clear…
I have heard many people say that Coach Cal should stay in Memphis because that job is also very intriguing, he can win a ton of games each year, he doesn’t have the pressure that he would have at Kentucky, Memphis can pay him top-dollar, and there is always a possibility that Memphis can move to a more competetive conference, blah, blah, blah.
Everyone who believes the above stated ideas, please remember that John Calipari has dreams and goals in his life. Coach Cal is human just like you and I. Put yourself in Calipari’s shoes. Not in the unrealistic scenario of a successful college coach, but in the scenario of your current job/career. Maybe you’re the Director of Marketing for a pretty successful local business. But one day, a nationally known company offers you the COO job. Do you really need to think about it? Maybe you think about your family and putting your children in a new school, but you obviously want to better yourself and increase your pay. It’s the American Dream!
Great, Coach Cal wins 30 games a year in Memphis. But what if he wins 30 games a year at Kentucky? Are people then changing their stories? Coach Calipari deserves this job, and without all the heckling from people in the media (Mike Greenberg!).
First of all, I absolutely support the move from Memphis to Kentucky by John Calipari. I think Coach Cal fits the bill as a prototypical Kentucky head coach. However, like everything else, there are pros and cons about making the large switch.
It’s always best to start with the bad news…
- C-USA to SEC – It doesn’t take a basketball wizard to realize that the SEC is a slight bit tougher conference than the C-USA. In other words, Coach Cal would face a tougher opponent than Tulsa in the conference championship game. With that being said, Calipari will face tougher competition in the SEC and that will obviously mean a tougher test for him. Better opponents is a tad bit scary.
- #1 Coaching Job – The head coaching job at Kentucky for basketball is very similar to the head coaching job at Notre Dame for football, it’s frickin’ HUGE. Is this a bad thing? Well, not really. Having the number one job just comes with a lot of pressure and extremely high expectations, things that are expected and accepted. However, tons of pressure is not easily handled with a flick of the finger.
- No Guarantees – Coach Cal is practically guaranteed 25+ wins every season for as long as he coaches at Memphis. He is such a great recruiter that he gets top-notch talent at a C-USA school and he wins TONS of games. Plus, he develops those freakish athletes into NBA players to boot. But, unfortunately, Calipari is not guaranteed a whole lot in the SEC. One 19-12 season could really hurt him. The way that I see this differently is that Calipari’s recruiting will never allow him to finish a season without 20 wins. But very simply put, promised 25+ win seasons in Memphis with no promises at Kentucky.
And now for the good news, all of which will be the reason why Coach Cal is telling his Memphis players that he is boarding the next flight to Kentucky…
- #1 Coaching Job – That’s right, this serves as a pro and a con. Although the number one coaching job comes with a lot of pressure, it also comes with a lot of respect. Calipari will never receive the respect he deserves as long as he continues coaching in the C-USA (we’ve all seen this). Plus, it’s a pride thing. Calipari is human, believe it or not, and he has his own aspirations and dreams.
- HUGE Paycheck – Reports have already said that Kentucky has a “megadeal” on the table for Caoch Cal, most likely meaning that he would be the highest-paid coach in the country. He currently makes somewhere around $2.3 million per year and Florida’s Billy Donovan makes $3.5 per. Therefore, we’re at least looking at a $1 million pay raise. Not too shabby if you ask me.
- Recruiting Ability – If Calipari can bring Derrick Rose, Tyreke Evans, and DeMarcus Cousins to Memphis, what makes you think he can’t bring those gentlemen plus more to the University of Kentucky? In just his first season at Kentucky, Calipari has an opportunity to bring his top-three recruits over to Lexington with a strong possibility of having Jodie Meeks and Patrick Patterson returning…WOW! Trust me, kids will WANT to come play ball for Coach Cal at Kentucky.
The “megadeal” is in the works as we speak. Coach Cal should be introduced by the end of the week. Good luck!
Although I’m a strong supporter of the March Madness obsession amongst millions of Americans across the country, I must say that it is a love-hate relationship. I love every part of college basketball in March. But I hate it when teams scare the crap out of me by flirting with a loss and potentially ruining my entire bracket. The ‘hate’ part happened to me twice today in March Madness’ Day One Scares…
(2) Memphis v. (15) Cal State Northridge : Memphis is a team that I have going to the Final Four and they pushed this game to the brink of people having a heart attack. They’ve been hyped throughout the past couple of weeks because analysts said that no one really knows how good they really are, blah, blah, blah. Stupid me, I listened to the hoopla and decided to put them in the Final Four on my bracket, upsetting UConn in the Elite 8. After watching Memphis play CS Northridge, I would say that Maryland has a serious shot at beating the Tigers in the second round. Memphis was a 19-point favorite and they simply could not get it going against CS Northridge. Although the final score was 81-70 in Memphis’ favor, the score did not show how close the game really was. In fact, the Memphis Tigers would have fallen victim to one of the biggest upsets in tournament history if it weren’t for a guy off the bench named Roburt Sallie. Sallie, who previously had a career-high 13 points, went off for 35 points including 10 three-pointers. Every member of the Memphis team, including Coach Calipari, should be thanking that guy.
(3) Villanova v. (14) American : I had to personally suffer through this game as American lit it up in the first half and was up by 14 at one point in the second half. Villanova looked “flat” and they were playing extremely stupid basketball. Oh, and by the way, they were playing in hometown Philadelphia, making it that much worse. Villanova rallied, finally, and ended up beating the Eagles 80-67. But again, the game was a lot closer than the score indicates. Villanova was a 17.5-point favorite and they should have pulverized American from the start, but instead they jogged around and made me extremely nervous about their second round draw (against either UCLA or VCU). If Villanova is going to be blessed with the opportunity to play AT HOME in the tournament, then they should really take advantage of it.
What’s my b*tching all about if both of the teams pulled out the win anyway? It’s the fact that these two teams are suppose to have experience and know how to play well in the tourney. I shouldn’t have to worry about Memphis or Villanova in the second round because of a weak performance in the first round against 14 and 15 seeds. Not to mention, if a team like Memphis goes down early, my bracket is g-g-g-gone. But I suppose that’s what makes the tourney, Madness! Hopefully these games were wake-up calls for both squads. Maybe they can realize that they were lucky to get out of the first round alive and tell themselves that they need to play A WHOLE LOT better next game. Keep my bracket alive!
The Maryland Terrapins defeated the North Carolina Tar Heels Saturday, improving their record to 17-9 (6-6).
Greivis Vasquez outperformed every other player on the court, finishing the game with only the third triple-double in Maryland school history. Vasquez scored 35 points on 13-24 from the field, he had 11 rebounds and dished out 10 assists. Vasquez had recently hit a slump but definitely had a comeback party against the Tar Heels at Comcast Center today.
Maryland continues to make some noise in bracket discussions but they have a good chance of falling short of the bubble. They have quality wins against Michigan State, Miami, and now UNC, but they also have losses to teams like Morgan State and Florida State. The Terps also have a tough four games remaining in order to make their way to the bracket: Duke, @ NCST, Wake, @ UVA.
I’d love to see my Terps in the tournament, it’s been too long. Gary Williams needs this, the players need this, and the fans need this. But in order for the Terps to win their last games and get past the first round in the tourney, everyone has to have Greivis-like effort in every game.