Posted on: December 29, 2011 8:55 am
Edited on: December 29, 2011 8:57 am
By Matt Norlander
You'll love Honest Logos. // Samoa quits Friday, leaves our side of the dateline. // The most illegally viewed movies of the year. // I often link to cool picture galleries. I've never seen a sports photo like this. // Dangerous package at the library turned out to be ...
★ Rest in peace, Voice of Cameron.
★ USA Today took the lead on writing about coaches and power and if it's too much and whether it can be curbed. Start here.
★ Why that Louisville loss was inevitable last night.
★ Some more end-of-2011 college hoops awards to vote on.
★ Uh, wow. Here's a suggestion of how distant Harvard is from everyone else in the Ivy this season.
★ Telling you, the Hurley stories will come weekly if Wagner starts resembling a respectable program in greater NYC.
★ I spent 2,100 words passive aggressively (and just plain aggressively) going after the Pac-12, so I guess the joke's on me.
★ Already looking like another Carrier Dome attendance record will be set later this season.
★ Even with NBA players the past few years, the Pac-12 has sucked, though.
★ Big, wanted changes are coming to the recruiting trail in April. Here's how things will be altered.
★ I know Ohio State's a juggernaut, but Northwestern getting pasted like this reaffirms my belief: Wildcats won't be dancing this year, either.
★ Pat Forde writes on Rick Majerus. Pat Forde writes very well on Rick Majerus.
★ Hand down, man transferring. Mark Jackson Jr. leaving Louisville.
★ By the way, if you'd like to get primed on all our conference resets, click on this. Info and jokes and not-taking-ourselves-too-seriously prose.
♬ Ween. Such an interesting band. I really, really love a lot of what they do (like this one, "Chocolate Town," one of my favorite early-morning songs) but hate a portion of their catalogue as well.
Photo: Getty Images
Posted on: December 29, 2011 12:28 am
Edited on: December 29, 2011 12:30 am
Here’s everything you need to know about Wednesday’s slate of college basketball games …
Game of the day: Baylor went into Tuesday 12-0 and Mississippi State had won 11 in a row. On Tuesday, a Pierre Jackson layup with 28 seconds left was the difference, as Baylor stayed undefeated, winning 54-52. Mississippi State had a chance to tie, but Rodney Hood’s attempt was knocked away when going up. The Bulldogs didn’t score in the last 1:35, when Renardo Sidney fouled out and then picked up a technical foul.
Win to brag about: People had varying opinions of Louisville heading into Tuesday, but the Cardinals were 12-0 nonetheless. Then Georgetown went into the KFC Yum! Center and handed Louisville its first loss of the season, 71-68. Freshman Otto Porter had 14 points and 14 boards for the Hoyas, which held off Louisville after the Cardinals went on an 11-0 run in the final three minutes.
Loss to hide from: It’s not exactly a bad loss, but Creighton’s 12-point home defeat to Missouri State to open MVC play was not what the Bluejays needed. They came into the game as the conference favorite, but gave up 45 points in the second half en route to a 77-65 loss. Kyle Weems had 31 points and seven rebounds for Missouri State.
Player who deserves improper benefits: Coming into the season, most questioned Michigan State’s lack of a true point guard. Keith Appling quieted some of the doubters on Tuesday night, when he led Michigan State to an 80-65 win over Indiana – the Hoosiers’ first loss of the season. Appling had 25 points, six rebounds and seven assists for the Spartans.
Player(s) who does not deserve improper benefits: Northwestern wasn’t expected to beat Ohio State on Tuesday, but a 33-point loss was certainly not in the Wildcats’ plans. Drew Crawford and John Shurna combined to shoot 9-for-30 from the field, and just 2-for-8 from 3-point range. On the other side, Ohio State’s William Buford had 28 points and nine rebounds.
Numbers don’t lie:
Three other notable results:
On tap: There’s a nice mix of conference and non-league matchups on Thursday. Vanderbilt looks to notch a marquee win at Marquette, while Florida travels to Rutgers as Mike Rosario visits his old stomping grounds. Cincinnati will try to keep its winning ways going against 9-1 Oklahoma, and Belmont plays Marshall in an underrated game. The top intra-conference battle is BYU visiting Saint Mary’s in a WCC tilt, while the Pac-12 docket is highlighted by Oregon State and Washington.
Photo: US Presswire
Posted on: December 28, 2011 2:10 pm
Since the brawl between Xavier and Cincinnati put a black eye on each team’s season, the two teams have gone different directions. Xavier is 1-3, with the lone victory coming against 3-8 Southern Illinois. On the other hand, Cincinnati has won four in a row, racking up its four highest point totals of the season.
The biggest change for the Bearcats? Head coach Mick Cronin has gone to a four-guard lineup with Yancy Gates suspended for six games.
It started against Wright State, when Cronin inserted junior JaQuon Parker into the lineup. Sean Kilpatrick, Dion Dixon and Cashmere Wright were already entrenched on the perimeter. Justin Jackson has been the lone frontcourt player in the starting five.
“It’s easy to get a shot in a four-guard offense,” Cronin told reporters at the time. “If you can get away with it on defense and get away with it rebounding, it’s a lot easier. You can just let these guys play.”
Cincinnati won that first game, 78-58, and has been rolling since. They topped 100 points in back-to-back games against Radford and Arkansas-Pine Bluff, then went for 95 against Chicago State last week. They are averaging 1.35 points per possession in those four contests, which would rank No. 1 in the country – by about 0.14 PPP – if the Bearcats had done it all season.
Cincinnati is shooting better, taking care of the ball, forcing more turnovers and even rebounding the ball better on the defensive end of floor.
Kilpatrick is averaging 17.3 points during this stretch, while Wright has also relished the new up-tempo style, averaging 17.8 points and 6.5 assists, with only four turnovers total. Parker has provided yet another dimension on the perimeter, using his strength to be a factor on the boards.
The Bearcats are taking better advantage of their athleticism along the perimeter, getting better spacing in the half-court offense and utilizing better ball movement to get open shots. Moreover, Cincinnati is averaging better than 70 possessions per game in the last three contests – the only three games Cincinnati has reached that level this season.
“It’s allowing us to play faster and that’s creating more scoring opportunities,” Cronin told Jon Rothstein recently.
Can Cincinnati continue to use this lineup in Big East play? That remains to be seen, as the Bearcats’ numbers have been inflated by terrible competition recently. Justin Jackson is suited for transition basketball, due to his ability to run the floor and bring energy on a consistent basis. His motor is terrific, but he’s not a legitimate option in a half-court offense. Once Gates returns, it is likely he will take Jackson’s spot in the lineup. Gates’ strength will be necessary against Big East foes, but he would also prefer a half-court system to the up-and-down style.
The Bearcats face Oklahoma on Thursday night, and then go against Pittsburgh to start Big East play on New Year’s Day. Gates returns against Notre Dame next Wednesday. It will be interesting to see what Cronin does going forward.
Either way, the brawl was clearly a turning point in Cincinnati’s season – in a good way.
Photo: US Presswire
Posted on: December 28, 2011 1:24 pm
Edited on: December 28, 2011 1:26 pm
By Gary Parrish
Looks like Mike Rosario will get to play against his former school after all.
Florida coach Billy Donovan said Wednesday that the reserve wing -- who spent his first two seasons at Rutgers -- participated in practice Monday and went full-contact on Tuesday, according to the Gators' official Twitter feed. Rosario had missed Florida's past two games with a back strain, and Donovan had previously listed him as "doubtful" for Thursday's game at Rutgers.
But that's changed now.
Which adds a storyline to the week.
Rosario averaged 16.2 points as a freshman and 16.7 points as a sophomore at Rutgers.
The 6-foot-3 New Jersey native transferred after his sophomore season.
He's averaging 9.4 points for the 10th-ranked Gators this season.
Posted on: December 28, 2011 8:53 am
By Matt Norlander
Happy to be back in the routine of the Wakeup Call after a few days off. We've got a worthy batch of links to share, so let's ...
Man inherits Pearl Jam-signed guitar from deceased brother. Guitar gets stolen. Pearl Jam sends man another guitar. // The future of Internet monitoring seems scary but inevitable. // My two youngest brothers live together. I bought them a ping pong table for Christmas and have forwarded them the best table tennis shots of the year. // MY HEART, IT'S IN A PUDDLE ON THE FLOOR ...
★ What was the college basketball play of 2011? A very tough vote.
★ I and others believe that teams don't play as well from about Dec. 20 to the 27 because of natural distraction. John Ezekowitz went to the facts and disproved that. Still, if I were a coach I wouldn't schedule in theat eight-day time frame because I wouldn't want to chance it.
★ The fellas behind the best non-mainstream sports blog are prepping for an epic road trip. You know their stuff -- toss a few quarters their way and help make a great college basketball project come true.
★ Georgetown has a significantly better chance at winning the Big East than UConn. Do you believe that?
★ The Christmas weekend lends itself to a good story or two falling through the cracks. I did my best to keep tabs on all of them. This is one of the best stories of the month.
★ Almost did a standalone post on this story yesterday. Jim O'Brien slinging it at the D-III level and loving life.
★ I slipped up as well by picking Georgia State to finish 11th in the CAA. Panthers are playing quite well and could be a factor in that league.
★ Dion Waiters will retweet almost anything you say about him. Andre Drummond at UConn is like this as well.
★ Again, this is the place for all your critical Big Sky information.
★ Few pieces will better inform you on the critical, essential differences between stats and eye test, why both are necessary and how both so easily muddy debate and conversation.
★ Darnell Dodson: fairing well in his new home.
★ How college basketball went all NBA last night.
★ More on the death of Mac Irvin, a power player and positively influential figure in prep basketball.
★ Which teams are getting what odds in Vegas right now?
► Kemba Walker's been lost to the NBA now, but I can't not show this video. Great stuff. Kemba remains a class act and genuine article.
♬ We're back on schedule with a band/artist recommendation daily. Let's go with Muse, an amazing live band with a few reliable/predictable tricks up its sleeve but is still kickass nonetheless. This is one outside the Muse formula in that it's early work (2002) and pretty hard compared to what the guys are composing these days. Warning: This will bump your speakers, so check that volume.
Photo: US PRESSWIRE
Posted on: December 27, 2011 1:25 pm
Edited on: December 27, 2011 4:13 pm
By Matt Norlander
If you told Louisville fans they get five and a half more seasons with Rick Pitino, they'd of course take it. And they'd savor every game of it, because coaches like Pitino are throwbacks, rarities. He's equal parts competent as a motivator and an X-and-O man. Respected by many, Pitino, it can be argued, is one of the 20 greatest coaches in college basketball history.
At his press conference today, prior to U of L's Big East opener against Georgetown, Pitino offered where he sees himself in just over five years -- retired.
Card Chronicle's Mike Rutherford tweeted out the Pitino quote this afternoon that simply says: "My contract runs until 2017 and I'm not coaching past that."
CBSSports.com Louisville Rapid Reporter Evan Hilbert followed with more context:
Coach Rick Pitino said earlier this season that he could coach until he was 90. He has since softened his stance. “When you're 59, you're realistic that you don't have a lot of years left,” Pitino said. “My contract runs out in 2017 – I'm not coaching anymore after that.”We've got a long way to go until then. There could very well be Final Fours and a national title awaiting Pitino from now until then. What I do know: I never trust what coaches say, 100 percent. At 64, Pitino could feel as good and as healthy as he did when he was 45. And if in January of 2016, he sees a top-five recruiting class coming in, who's to say he doesn't extend his contract another three years? Louisville would be more than willing if the Cards were in such a position.
So we'll see. After all, it's more than five years from now. Remember another recent, famous, aborted five-year promise? We know how that turned out.
It's nice that Pitino has some perspective, is thinking about his family and realizes his mortality. But just because he says he's done in 2017 doesn't mean that's the case. It wouldn't surprise me in the least to find Pitino coaching at 65 years old. No one knows who they'll be in five years, let alone how they'll feel. Walking away from the game is something coaches and players struggle with more than almost anything else. Pitino can be wrong about this. Louisville fans are already wishing for it.
Photo: US PRESSWIRE
Posted on: December 27, 2011 8:59 am
Edited on: January 6, 2012 3:35 pm
As well roll into January that can only mean one thing -- we're about to launch full swing into conference play.
For some teams, non-conference play was a wake-up call. Teams that many thought would easily stroll into the NCAA tournament come March will now have to pick up the pace in league play.
Through Jan. 5, the CBSSports.com college basketball crew will be putting the spotlight on every major league, letting you know what you may have missed and what do you need to watch out for going forward.
Posted on: December 26, 2011 11:46 am
Edited on: December 26, 2011 4:16 pm
There are a few guarantees in college basketball: Wisconsin will be a top-25 team; John Calipari will have a supremely talented roster; Duke will win 25-plus games; and Pittsburgh will lock down defensively.
This season, though, the last of those isn’t working out too well. Since Jamie Dixon took over Pitt in 2003-04, the Panthers have ranked in the top-50 nationally in defensive efficiency nearly every season. In the first 13 games of this year, Pittsburgh ranks No. 149 nationally in defensive efficiency, according to KenPom.com, giving up nearly one point per possession.
"Not defending as tough as they have in the past," one coach who faced Pitt earlier this season said. "Just not as tough minded."
The Panthers are allowing teams to shoot better than 48 percent against them from inside the arc, and are simply not giving teams any sort of pressure on the perimeter. They rank near the bottom nationally in turnover percentage, and teams are getting more than one point per possession on spot-up situations and catch-and-shoot situations, per Synergy Sports.
Last year, Brad Wanamaker was a physical defender who created problems for opposing guards, while Gilbert Brown’s size was also an issue. This season, the Panthers’ guards are getting beat off the dribble too often. Ashton Gibbs has improved his lateral quickness, but John Johnson, Cameron Wright and Lamar Patterson are all defending poorly on the perimeter.
Last season, the Panthers were tough when defending inside the arc. Gary McGhee was a very good rebounder and shot-blocker, and he was not afraid to throw his body around. There is no one like McGhee on the roster this year. Lamar Patterson is the team’s leading rebounder, and he’s 6-foot-5. Talib Zanna has been a solid rebounder in the minutes he gets, but he’s not consistent enough. The same goes for Dante Taylor. Freshman Khem Birch was Pitt’s best shot-blocker, but he left the team on December 16.
“I think losing Wanamaker, Brown and McGhee was significant,” one opposing coach said this season. “Especially on defense.”
When one pictures a Jamie Dixon defense, images of hard-working players who stifle perimeter shots and go after the glass at both ends of the floor come to mind. This team is rebounding as a team well – they actually rank No. 1 in offensive rebounding percentage – but they’re not the same rough-and-tumble team that people have seen in the Dixon era.
"It's a combination of experience, size and toughness," an opposing assistant coach said.
Last year, Pittsburgh allowed 70 points only five teams in the regular season. Already this season, the Panthers have given up at least 70 four separate times, including 78 points to Rider and 86 points to Long Beach State. Pittsburgh is very poor at defending transition, giving up 1.24 points per possession in those situations. Against teams that like to run, that’s a major problem.
I’ve been of the assumption that, after all, it’s Pittsburgh, they always defend well, and they’ll turn it around on that end of the floor. But as we enter conference play, the Panthers might be the worst defensive team in the league outside of DePaul.
While Dixon still has time to make adjustments, it’s certainly a cause for concern.
Photo: US Presswire