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Posted on: January 6, 2011 12:16 am
Edited on: January 6, 2011 12:17 am

George Jones' Night in Review


Posted by MATT JONES

Back in the olden days, when all blogs were local and Seth Davis was simply a "handsome CBS television personality" and not a "handsome CBS television personality with his own shown on the CBS College Sports Network", I used to do a nightly post in which I would attempt to wrap up all the important news in college basketball in one quick roundup.  The point of course, was to make sure that those of you who are too busy to come home, sit by the television with your significant other and scan the cable networks for the latest news from the WAC, would have a way to understand what happened in the world of college basketball in one ridiculous summary.  I have decided to move this concept over to the bright lights and big city atmosphere of, and thus we have the first edition of the "Night in Review." 

Every evening we will begin the Night in Review by giving a quick tip of the hat to someone in the news who is not focused solely on college basketball.  Tonight we give a big "HOWDY!" to George Jones, aka "the Possum," who apparently had a heart scare in Nashville on Wednesday.  Jones is best known for the country classic "He Stopped Loving Her Today", producing # 1 hits in four different decades and looking damn smooth in a white leisure suit.  Thankfully for his fans, the heart scare turned out to be temporary and he is expected back home on Thursday.  But in the mean time, check out some of the Possum's work if you aren't familiar.  I know some of you sophisticated types with your highfalutin dinner parties, NPR tote bags and New Yorker cartoon book compilations might not be familiar with George's catalogue, so let me give you a few starters: "She Thinks I Still Care", "What a Good Year for the Roses" and "Choices." You folks can thank me later.

To the Wednesday notes worth knowing:

1.  Its Jimmer Time in Vegas --- The Game of the Night in college basketball turned out to be a dud all because of the force of Jimmer.  After falling behind 23-15 early, UNLV fell faster than the political stock of Sharron Angle in the second half as Jimmer Fredette took over, powering BYU to a 89-77 victory.  The man whose name my girlfriend hates with the same passion she had previously reserved for the girl with fangs on "The Bachelor" (I actually like it...both the names and the fangs), Fredette put on an offensive show, scoring 39 points and hitting seven three-pointers to bring out the boo birds in the Thomas & Mack Center.  With the win, BYU strikes the first blow in the battle with San Diego State for Mountain West Conference supremacy, while UNLV proves that the hints of problems suggested by the UC-Santa Barbara and Louisville losses should have been taken seriously.

2.  Bruce Pearl gets a sendoff ---  The only person who may have had a worse December that Bruce Pearl is Brett Favre, likely only because I refuse to open any text pictures I receive from Knoxville.  Wednesday's Memphis game saw Pearl's Tennessee team having lost four of its last five and about to begin an eight-game SEC stretch where the coach would not be allowed on the sideline due to an SEC suspension.  So the Vols responded as any group of kids about to watch Daddy head off to the NCAA gulag would, by absolutely annihilating its in-state rival, Memphis.  The Vols dominated in a 104-84 shellacking that was not as close as the score indicated.  What seemed to be a team reeling, instead found its groove and begin the SEC season with some positive momentum.  

3.  Boston College hates the Ivy League ---  As anyone who has ever had a friend go to Boston College can attest, the school does have a serious case of Ivy League envy.  Every BC student will try to convince you that "I could have gone to an Ivy League school but BC's academics are just as good as those Ivy schools and you know what, I wouldn't want to go to school with all those nerds anyway.  Plus, we have great sports here, so take that you little Harvard/Yale/Dartmouth/Brown dork."  While that self-rationalization is always fun to listen to, now it is even more incorrect than usual as Harvard beat Boston College 78-69 for its third straight win over the Eagles.  Piled on top of the earlier loss to Yale, and it becomes clear that BC should be thankful ACC play is beginning and the nerds are going to go back to beating up on each other.

4.  Fear Missouri ---  Yeah I know Missouri's 98-58 victory tonight was only over North Alabama and no, I am not Gary Parrish so I couldn't tell you (a) what conference North Alabama is in or (b) if it is an actual university or just a set in a DJ Qualls movie.  However, I am impressed with a team that has seven scorers in double figures against any team and goes into Big 12 play with just one loss and having played as well as anyone outside of the top five in the non-conference season.  Plus Mike Anderson just seems like a guy you would want to hang out with...and his hair is not nearly as creepy as Quinn Snyder's.  They have my attention.

5.  Duke's Schedule is Putrid ---  Have you noticed that for the #1 team in America, you don't hear a lot about Duke?  Want to know why? Because Coach K somehow lost his manliness on the way to Bobby Knight's record and has stopped scheduling anyone of note in the non-conference.  This year's slate saw only two Top 25 teams, one of which was mandated by the ACC-Big Ten Challenge, multiple games against bottom feeders and only one true road game...and it was at UNC-Greensboro of all places.  Tonight they beat Mike Davis and UAB, which is sweet, but when will Duke go play games that matter?  You are Duke!  You matter in college basketball.  Act like it.

6.  Wake Forest won ---  With fellow "worst teams in the BCS", Auburn and Oregon State, getting big wins this week over Florida State and Oregon State, Wake Forest had to do something to keep up.  Beating High Point 79-63 might not seem like much, but lets remember that this is a school that got beat by Presbyterian and went into a road game at Richmond as a 16 point underdog...and DIDN'T COVER.  So yeah it is High Point...but it is also Wake Forest.

7.  Central Florida Keeps Rolling ---  If you were on today, you read about fifteen stories on Central Florida and so you know that they are a Conference USA team ready to make a national splash.  Tonight they beat Marshall 65-58 and Marcus Jordan had his team come fly with him for 26 points.  If you haven't paid attention yet to Central Florida, you really should, because if I am reading George O'Leary's resume correctly, his ability to coach both the football and basketball teams to such good seasons at the same time is quite impressive.

8.  Rick Pitino Likes Kevin Willard --- The Louisville Cardinals got back on track tonight, beginning Big East play with a 73-54 victory over Seton Hall.  The Hall has been part of what I like to call the "forgotten neighbors" of the Big East, often forgotten by commentators who trumpet the power at the top but ignore the train wrecks at the bottom of the 16 team league.  After the game, Rick Pitino said that Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard would turn the program around and that he would be the "next Billy Donovan" in college basketball.  High praise indeed, although to be fair, Rick's track record of prediction has never been the best, including comparing former Kentucky Wildcat Jared Prickett to Larry Bird and calling current Cardinal Mike Marra "the greatest high school shooter I have ever seen."   
So there you have it, your night in review.  Tomorrow is highlighted by the Xavier-Cincy battle, a decision by 2011 five-star recruit Deandre Daniels as to his college destination and more decimation of whatever comedy soul is left in "The Office."  Stay tuned....
Posted on: December 30, 2010 12:00 pm
Edited on: December 30, 2010 12:11 pm

Tall task for K to pass Knight in Ws this season

Posted by Matt Norlander

Author's note on the photo: It sure is nice to see Jon Scheyer took the time to buy a ticket and support his former coach last night, isn't it?

Hey, Coach K moving into the No. 2 spot on the all-time wins list in college basketball is something monumental and pretty great, but it’s nothing compared to the fact he’s got a good shot at breaking Bobby Knight’s record of 902 Ws come March.

And in the NCAA Tournament.

How special is that? Pretty special. Cause-people-to-hate-ESPN-like-they
-do-with-Favre-coverage special. It will be the subject of countdown clocks and specialized graphics. Think you agonize over Duke love in the media now? Get ready for the Next Level.

But … hold on, here. Let's tap the breaks and accept reality: winning lots and lots and lots of games is hard. It’s no guarantee Krzyzewski gets his magical moment in March. Let’s also consider the possibility win No. 903 comes on the darker stage of college basketball’s first or second week of the 2011-12 season. How dare the gods postpone such an occasion, I know.

It’s fun to speculate and guess where and when K will break the record this year. Let’s also pontificate on how likely it’s not to happen.

So, with 880 wins on the ledger, K’s 23 Ws away from eclipsing his mentor, Knight, who coached Krzyzewski at West Point some scores ago. There are a possible 28 games remaining when you throw in the ACC and NCAA tournaments. You could be thinking, 23-5? That’s no problem for Duke, especially for this team, which hasn’t lost its grip on the No. 1 ranking this season.

But 28 games assumes Duke wins two or three in the ACC tournament (depending on a bye), then wins all six in the NCAA tournament. To be fair, let’s chop that number down from 28 games remaining to 25, meaning the Blue Devils would have to go 23-2 from now until their season ends to give their coach the record. Can Duke go 23-2 the rest of the year? Without Kyrie Irving? Even in a watered-down ACC, that remains a tall, tough task.

Then you factor in the ACC tournament, which is always wild and has an upset or two. Plus, there's the likelihood Duke will have already wrapped up a No. 1 seed, so there could be some natural human instinct to take it easy before The Big Dance. The rest-your-starters mindset in football, translated to the hardcourt, if you will. And winning The Tournament is, you know, incredibly difficult . anticipates Duke’s going to go 15-1 in the ACC this season. But the projection doesn’t take into account Irving’s injury’s impact. Duke’s still one of the best teams in the country without its star freshman point guard, but his speed and savvy could have a way of costing the team one or two road games in the conference.

In the past eight years, Duke's only had one season (2006) with just two losses in conference. It hasn't made it through with a better mark than 14-2 (pity it). The program is averaging 4.25 Ls in the ACC since 2002. History and odds, figuring in Irving's injury, indicate this team is bound to drop at least two games by the start of the ACC tournament.

It would be a great story if K was going for the record on the Saturday or Monday night of the Final Four weekend (odds say that's when it's most likely to happen, should Duke get through its first four Tournament games). If Krzyzewski manages to reach that crescendo this season, it would be the appropriate microcosm of his career.

But asking or expecting the record to fall in the next three months could be too much. Nothing in sports is as unpredictable as college basketball in March.

Photo: Getty Images

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: December 20, 2010 11:11 am
Edited on: December 20, 2010 4:27 pm

The story behind saving Kyrie Irving's toe

Posted by Matt Norlander

Nothing like a positive brigade to get the week going in the right direction.

The vision was simple, and it came immediately, according to Brandon Curl, one of the six people involved with launching — a support site for the most publicly cared for appendage in the country.

"Andrew Humphries and myself came up with the idea for Save Kyrie's (Toe) on Wednesday, Dec. 15, while chatting over the Internet," Curl said (Humphries attends Stanford; Curl is a grad student at Texas). "We wanted to do something in support of Kyrie in the style of the Product Red and the ONE campaigns that fellow Duke fans could get behind."

The Duke freshman phenom tweeted about it as soon as he saw the video below.

"We all sent the link out to a few friends, mainly Duke alumni, and within 30 minutes Kyrie had already seen the video and tweeted about it," Curl said. "We were all astounded by how quickly this movement spread."

Humphries, Samantha Carreon and Curl are all former Duke students. And while Curl wrote the script for the video above with Joshua Glick last Wednesday night, friend Erik Stark began putting code together for the website.

Are you thinking what I'm thinking? Can't you picture how it all went down: "The Social Network 2," baby! OK. Not exactly. But by the next morning, Carreon got the shirts made in time for the filming of the mock commercial, which was taped Thursday night. Curl, Stark, Carreon, Glick and friend Adrienne Edwards are featured in the video, which went live on YouTube Friday morning. The website was launched at 3 p.m. that afternoon, coinciding with the Twitter and Facebook pages, which are now mandatory Web customs.

"Social media, specifically Twitter was primarily how the movement spread, which is so apropos of this Duke team," Curl said. "The team has wholeheartedly embraced social media. Duke Blue Planet develops videos filmed by the players themselves and the players are frequent tweeters, especially Nolan and Kyrie. We couldn't imagine a Save Kyrie's (Toe) movement without Twitter being involved."

As for the shirts seen in the video tribute, the team of five is working on getting as many made as possible and sending them to Durham for home games in the near future. How cool would it be if the Crazies, by and large, started donning these dreads in droves?

"Most likely we'll have the shirts available online, and we've spoken with members of Duke University Improv (DUI) about distributing the shirts on campus when students return for the spring semester," Curl said.

What made this idea such a no-brainer for Curl and Humphries was the fact both were part of the Duke University Improv comedy troupe when they were undergrads. What's more, Humphries was actually the subject of several stories in the summer of 2004 after penning an e-mail to Mike Krzyzewski, pleading him to stay on at Duke in the midst of public contract negotiations with the L.A. Lakers.

"As members of DUI, we frequently worked with Duke basketball players to film funny videos shown on campus," Curl said. "In 2007, I made a video (that's Curl doing the voiceover) with DUI featuring Jon Scheyer that was featured by Luke Winn on his blog."

Since the two graduated, the comedy troupe has helped with "Countdown to Craziness" and filmed several videos with the team, according to Curl.

"We are intensely jealous of this partnership, as we are still, and have always been, huge Duke fans. So even though we are no longer students, we follow the team religiously and jumped at the chance to contribute in any way," Curl said.

Category: NCAAB
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