Tag:Big East
Posted on: December 29, 2011 8:55 am
Edited on: December 29, 2011 8:57 am

Wakeup Call: Making time, breaking ground ...

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

Night Court: Two unbeatens fall, Baylor escapes

Jeff Borzello

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:

  • UNLV scored 124 against Central Arkansas – the most points the Runnin’ Rebels have scored since 1990-91.
  • UNLV’s bench scored 82 points.
  • More from UNLV: the Rebels had 40 assists – and 36 rebounds.
  • Saint Joseph’s sophomore Halil Kanacevic had eight rebounds, 12 assists, seven blocks – and 0 points.
  • UAB’s Cameron Moore outrebounded the entire George Washington team, 24-22. 

Three other notable results:

  1. Fab Melo racked up his first career double-double, going for 12 points, 10 blocks and seven rebounds to lead Syracuse to a 75-49 win over Seton Hall.
  2. In Connecticut’s first game without head coach Jim Calhoun, the Huskies needed a big second-half run to hold off South Florida, 60-57.
  3. Darryl Bryant scored 34 points to lead West Virginia to an 83-69 win over Villanova.


  • Terrence Jones returned after missing two games with a dislocated pinky on his left hand. He came off the bench and played 27 minutes.
  • Maryland’s Alex Len made his season debut against Albany, scored 14 points in the 83-72 win.
  • Anthony Lee scored a putback with 0.3 seconds left in overtime to give Temple a two-point win over Buffalo.
  • Drake opened Missouri Valley play with a 15-point win over Indiana State.
  • Drew Gordon had 23 points and 19 rebounds to lead New Mexico to an 89-69 win over New Mexico State.
  • Purdue escaped in its Big Ten opener against Iowa, 79-76.

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

Cincinnati's four-guard lineup has saved season

Jeff Borzello

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

Rosario likely to play against old team Thursday

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

Wakeup Call: Christmas break basketball myths

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.

Posted on: December 27, 2011 1:25 pm
Edited on: December 27, 2011 4:13 pm

Pitino gives an end date for his coaching career

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.

Posted on: December 27, 2011 8:59 am
Edited on: January 6, 2012 3:35 pm

Conference Reset

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.

  • ACC
    The ACC is going to be great soon with the additions of Syracuse and Pittsburgh. But is it great right now? Not really. North Carolina remains a national title contender, Duke is Duke (despite Wednesday's loss at Temple) and Virginia is a surprise. But the league's other nine teams are either unproven or proven to be average or bad, and that's not a good look for a conference that prides itself on playing a high level of basketball. Read More >>
  • Atlantic 10
    For a while, it appeared the Atlantic 10 might finish without a conference champ. Xavier got off to a sizzling start with nine straight victories. Then came The Brawl -- followed by the Fall. Xavier suspended Tu Holloway, Mark Lyons and Dez Wells after the fight with cross-town rival Cincinnati -- and it all fell apart. Chris Mack's team lost three of its next four, including setbacks to Oral Roberts and Hawaii, which gave hope to everyone else in the league. Now Rick Majerus' Saint Louis team, which has only one loss thus far, may have a shot. Temple has struggled at times, but the Owls could challenge. And Saint Joseph's finally appears back in contention after two brutal campaigns. Read More >>
  • Big 12
    The Big 12 title is up for grabs. Kansas has been king of the league for most of the past decade, but this season the Jayhawks look vulnerable. No one can match the talent and length of Scott Drew's Baylor squad, but the Bears haven't been the most impressive team in the conference thus far -- that honor belongs to Missouri and new coach Frank Haith. But don't count out Kansas State as long as Frank Martin has this group of somewhat anonymous Wildcats buying into his brand of basketball -- which means playing hard. Read More >>
  • Big East
    When compared to last season, the Big East might look down this year. It's not going to be in the mix for 10 or 11 NCAA tournament bids, and the bottom of the league is not very strong. With that said, don't underestimate the conference too much; it has at least three legitimate top 10 teams and six teams who should receive top-four seeds in the NCAA tournament. Read More >>
  • Big Ten
    How many teams can enter league play these days and legitimately say they have eight teams in the equation for an NCAA tournament bid? Probably just one, and that's the Big Ten. After Ohio State, there's plenty of depth in this conference, which has established itself as the premiere league in the country this season. Read More >>
  • Conference USA
    Though Memphis is a disappointment, it's still the best team in Conference USA by a wide margin. But don't take my word for it. Take Ken Pomeroy's. His invaluable site (KenPom.com) still has Memphis ranked 31st and projected to be favored in every game it plays the rest of the way. So that 8-5 record is likely to turn into something like 26-8 on Selection Sunday (barring serious injuries or notable suspensions, the latter of which is always a possibility at Memphis). So Memphis will win C-USA. The real question is whether C-USA can put two teams in the NCAA tournament. Read More >>
  • Horizon League
    It doesn't seem likely that the Horizon will produce a national finalist for the third year in a row, but that doesn't mean the conference has taken a huge fall. Cleveland State and Wisconsin-Milwaukee have played well during non-conference play, and the league has had a few marquee clips against BCS-league teams. And what about Butler, the aforementioned two-time national finalist? The Bulldogs are turning things around as we enter conference play. But the rest of the league won't let Brad Stevens' troops waltz to a yet another Horizon title. Read More >>
  • Missouri Valley
    It's been a few years since the Valley was this good, even though the bottom part of this one (like most leagues) has a few bad teams. The race to win the league should be among four teams. For whatever reason, MVC clubs capture the hope of many in the tournament. Creighton, Northern Iowa, Bradley, Southern Illinois are all schools that have had big March moments. Two of the aforementioned can and should get into the Big Dance this year. Read More >>
  • Mountain West
    It's better than the Pac-12, and the case could be made it's the fourth-best collection of teams in college hoops. There isn't one group that's even flirting with .500. For a non-BCS conference, that's pretty unexpected and really good. And its success so far goes much deeper than Vegas' defeat of UNC back in November and Steve Fisher's insistence on looking like he teaches grad-level lit classes. Read More >>
  • Pac-12
    The Pac-12 has become the rebellious teenager that gets in its own way and is hurtling toward a life with no future. Here we are again having the same discussion we’ve been having the past few years. Nothing seems to be changing. This league is putrid yet again, and where’s the hope? Not an overstatement: Three Pac-12 teams making the NCAA tournament will be a genuine achievement. Read More >>
  • SEC
    Some fans take joy in the fact that John Calipari has never won a national title. If you're one of those, you might be in trouble. Kentucky really might do it this year. The Wildcats are big and strong and long and talented. They have shooters. They have shot-blockers. They've got everything you need to win a national championship, and they are, right now, the favorites out in Las Vegas. Read More >>
  • West Coast
    Outside of the six BCS-affiliated conferences, the No. 7 spot in league rankings is up for grabs. Why not the West Coast Conference? With three legitimate threats to win a game in the NCAA tournament, the WCC has as good of an argument as anyone. Moreover, with some of the non-conference wins the bottom half of the league picked up in November, the quality victories are there as well. Read More >>

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Posted on: December 26, 2011 11:46 am
Edited on: December 26, 2011 4:16 pm

Where did Pittsburgh's defense go?

Jeff Borzello

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

Category: NCAAB
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com