Posted on: January 10, 2012 1:39 pm
Edited on: January 10, 2012 2:12 pm
By Matt Norlander
Today is quite the big day for you to cast your vote. No, I'm not talking about the New Hampshire primary (though the political geek in me is anxious to steal some viewing of that tonight while navigating a very nice Super Tuesday lineup). If you missed the debut last week, through the end of the season, we'll be letting you have your voice represented on TV. We've got this weekly poll with a spread of games.
So get to clicking and sharing the word.
You can see the results of this week's voting on "Courtside with Seth Davis" (Wednesday, 6 p.m. ET, CBS Sports Network). This is the second installment. We thank you again for making the time to swing by our abode every day. Let's hear it.
Want more of us? Or more interaction with hoops fans? We suggest you like the Eye On College Basketball Facebook page. And if that's not enough, CBSSports.com has your roundball fix tended to thanks to our daily newsletter.
Posted on: December 26, 2011 3:22 pm
By Gary Parrish
Only one voter isn't ranking UNLV. And only one voter isn't ranking Michigan State. Turns out, it's the same silly voter. He's about to get Poll Attacked.
Associated Press poll: I explained last week why it was wrong to leave UNLV off a ballot.
And this week it's even more wrong.
But one voter still did it.
His name is Roger Clarkson.
And I'll bet you the $100 gift card to Macy's I got for Christmas that he couldn't intelligently defend his ballot. He's the only one of the 65 AP voters who isn't ranking UNLV or Michigan State. But guess who Roger is ranking? Illinois and Gonzaga. And I'm about to explain why that's sillier than fighting stupid crowds to return unwanted gifts on Dec. 26.
UNLV, Michigan State, Illinois and Gonzaga are all two-loss teams, so I can see why somebody in a rush might look at the records and think they're the same. But they're not the same. The bodies of work that belong to UNLV and Michigan State are undeniably superior to those belonging to Illinois and Gonzaga ... at least in part because UNLV has a win over Illinois in Illinois and Michigan State has a win over Gonzaga at Gonzaga. Of the four teams, nobody has better wins than UNLV and nobody has better losses than Michigan State. The Rebels own wins over North Carolina, California and Illinois, and the Spartans' only two losses are to North Carolina and Duke on neutral courts.
And did I mention UNLV beat Illinois in Illinois?
And that Michigan State beat Gonzaga at Gonzaga?
And that UNLV and MSU are both inside the Top 20 at KenPom.com.
And that Gonzaga and Illinois are both outside the Top 25 and KenPom.com.
Bottom line, rank UNLV, Michigan State, Illinois and Gonzaga if you like. We actually have UNLV, Michigan State and Illinois all ranked in the Top 25 (and one), and I am, in theory, OK with Gonzaga, too. But what I'm not OK with is ranking Illinois and Gonzaga without ranking UNLV and Michigan State. Why? Because it's makes no sense. I've looked at it every way imaginable, and it makes no sense. But if you can explain it, feel free to email me at email@example.com and give it a shot. In the meantime, I'll be not returning presents, mostly just laying around.
Coaches poll: I've highlighted this nonsensical voting habit before. But it keeps happening, so I'm going to keep writing about it in hopes that one day the nation -- or, at the very least, the coaches who vote in the coaches poll -- will realize that a team losing to a higher-ranked team does not not necessarily mean the lower-ranked team doesn't deserve its ranking.
Yes, I'm talking about Illinois.
The Illini were ranked 24th last week.
They lost by four points on a neutral court to Missouri, which was ranked eighth.
And somehow that convinced voters that Illinois didn't need to be ranked 24th anymore. Or even 25th. Again, it's crazy because a school ranked 24th is supposed to lose on a neutral court to a team ranked eighth. And when it happens, the team ranked 24th shouldn't be penalized for it, especially when the loss only comes by four points.
Just so we're clear, let me say this: If you don't think Illinois is a top 25 team, that's fine. It's debatable. But if you thought the Illini were a Top 25 team last week, why would you think they're not a Top 25 team this week? Because of a four-point loss to a team ranked eighth? Surely you see how stupid that is.
Posted on: December 21, 2011 12:31 am
Edited on: December 21, 2011 12:32 am
Here’s everything you need to know about Tuesday’s slate of college basketball games …
Game of the day: Kenpom.com anointed North Carolina State vs. St. Bonaventure as the game of the day prior to Tuesday – and he certainly wasn’t wrong. It was a back and forth game throughout, but it looked like it was heading to overtime once Eric Mosley tied it up at 65 with 3.1 seconds left. Then C.J. Williams launched a full-length pass to C.J. Leslie, who somehow got a shot off to win the game for the Wolfpack. Check the really high-quality video above.
Win to brag about: Northern Iowa was 6-0 on its homecourt heading into Tuesday, but Ohio went into Cedar Falls and came out with a 17-point win. The Bobcats shot 52 percent from the field, 52 percent from 3-point range and stifled Northern Iowa on the defensive end. Ivo Baltic went for 22 points in the win for Ohio, which is now 10-1.
Loss to hide from: There weren’t any truly bad losses on Tuesday, but Stephen F. Austin dropping one to Prairie View A&M tops the list. Prairie View didn’t have a Division-I win all season and had won just two games away from home in the last season and a half. Stephen F. Austin expected to contend in the Southland this season, but going 0-for-8 from 3-point range en route to a 53-50 loss isn’t going to do it.
Player who deserves improper benefits: Richmond’s Darien Brothers scored 38 points to lead the Spiders to a 90-82 overtime win against Old Dominion. Brothers jumpstarted the extra period with a four-point play to give Richmond a lead it would never relinquish. Overall, he had 19 points in the last 11 minutes of regulation and overtime.
Player(s) who does not deserve improper benefits: Coming off Butler’s win against Purdue over the weekend, we expected the Bulldogs to show better against Gonzaga. Instead, they got behind early and fell, 71-55. Three of Butler’s top four scorers – Andrew Smith, Chase Stigall and Chrishawn Hopkins – combined to shoot 3-for-21 for a grand total of seven points.
Numbers don’t lie:
Three other notable results:
On tap: There are several good games to check out on Wednesday. The best game of the night should be Texas taking on North Carolina, with Myck Kabongo going head-to-head with Kendall Marshall. Seton Hall also faces Dayton, and Alabama looks to bounce back against Oklahoma State. A couple of teams with gaudy records battle in DePaul and Cal Poly, and Parrish will be at Mississippi vs. Middle Tennessee State.
Photo: US Presswire
Posted on: December 5, 2011 12:24 pm
For most of the past decade, Gonzaga has overcome mediocre defensive play to win the West Coast Conference and reach the NCAA tournament. While that will likely happen again this season, the Bulldogs won’t get out of the first weekend if they don’t shore up that side of the ball.
Offense is not going to be a problem. Mark Few has plenty of weapons at his disposal, from Robert Sacre and Elias Harris on the inside to Kevin Pangos knocking down 3-pointers to Marquise Carter and Gary Bell providing a little bit of everything. David Stockton and Sam Dower are also options.
Against most teams, the offensive talent of Gonzaga will be enough. Unfortunately, against top-notch competition, they will have to get tough on the defensive end – looking to outscore them just won’t work.
Take Saturday’s game against Illinois, for example. The Bulldogs allowed 82 points to the Fighting Illini, only the second time this season Illinois has scored more than 80 points – the other came against Chicago State. The Fighting Illini shot 53.3 percent from the field, a number that dropped from 70 percent late in the first half. Illinois had far too many open shots, and also was able to get into the lane at will and finish.
More troubling, though, were the rebounding numbers. Sacre grabbed just two rebounds all game, and both came within a 15-second span midway through the second half. Someone as talented as Sacre, a 7-foot NBA prospect, shouldn’t grab just two rebounds in 29 minutes.
It’s not as if he was going against all-stars, either. Meyers Leonard, Nnanna Egwu and Tyler Griffey all picked up two early fouls for Illinois, but Sacre didn’t take advantage when going against 6-foot-8 freshman Ibby Djimde, who has played five minutes or fewer in six games this year. Going against a lineup featuring three freshmen and no one taller than Djimde, Illinois was only outrebounded by one and actually went on an 8-0 run to go into halftime with a lead.
That stretch just exemplified Gonzaga’s lack of defensive toughness. The Bulldogs rank No. 193 in defensive rebounding percentage; teams rebound a shocking 33.3 percent of their misses. When a team has Sacre and Harris down low, that simply should never happen. Moreover, they don’t block shots and allow open finishes at the rim. On several plays against Illinois, Sacre didn’t hurry back on defense, which could be why teams score better than 1.10 points per possession in transition opportunities.
That’s not all, though. The perimeter defense has to do a better job of guarding outside shots. Per Synergy, Gonzaga has had to defend catch-and-shoot jumpers nearly 26 percent of the time – and it allows 1.17 points per possession in those situations. Even more eye-opening, though, is that 47 of those 89 catch-and-shoot possessions have been unguarded. Not surprisingly, teams are shooting 38 percent from behind the arc against Gonzaga.
Pangos and Stockton provide a different dimension offensively, and they need the two on the floor – but they both have limited lateral quickness. The two simply can’t be on the court at the same time; it’s too much of a liability on the defensive end.
Given Gonzaga’s offensive talent up and down the roster, the Bulldogs should still be the WCC favorite. They have the experience and the inside-outside options to pose a threat to any team.
With all this talent, though, Gonzaga’s ceiling should be higher than it is. But it won’t move higher until it toughens up defensively.
Photos: US Presswire
Posted on: December 5, 2011 10:55 am
Edited on: December 5, 2011 12:02 pm
Every Monday, we’re going to be giving you readers and fans and coaches more and more reason to hate us. How can we do this outside of just being our natural, irritating selves? By ranking as many teams in as many ways as possible, of course. And we won’t reserve our judgment for your scorn in big-boy country. No, we’d like to alienate ourselves to the fan bases around the nation, mid-major schools included.
This feature serves as a complement to the weekly Top 25 and One, which you can read right here.
No more ado — here’s how we see it, the 15 best non-BCS teams in college basketball as of Monday, Dec. 5, at 11 a.m ET.
1. Xavier (6-0). A Sentence: There’s a considerable difference between X and everyone else, when you take into account the Muskies’ wins over Vandy on the road and the comeback W against Purdue last week. A Statistic: The only major flaw with Chris Mack’s team right now is the free-throw shooting. X is under 60 percent as a team. Will get them eventually. The Schedule: at Butler Wednesday; vs. Cincinnati Saturday.
2. Iona (6-1). A Sentence: Saw this team in person a week ago, and no joke, they look incredibly dangerous for pretty much any team outside of the top five right now. A Statistic: The Gaels are scoring 1.14 points per possession, which is definitely good, but a little less than I expected from the highest-scoring and highest assisting team in the country. The Schedule: at Denver Wednesday; at Marshall Sunday.
3. Harvard (8-0). A Sentence: I’d love for Harvard to justify me putting them this high with a win Thursday, but they merely need to keep it compelling. A Statistic: The Crimson have been helped by a “defensive” stat they have such little control over: free throw defense. Opponents are shooting an NCAA-worst 54 percent from the line against them. The Schedule: at Connecticut Thursday; at Boston University Saturday.
Ron Swanson Approves
4. UNLV (8-1): A Sentence: Beating North Carolina, then losing on the road at a Power Pyramid Wichita State team equates to a UNLV team smelling the Pyramid’s ceiling. A Statistic: 52.2 was the percentage from 3-point range the Shockers put up against UNLV over the weekend. It was the first time this season Vegas has had a team shoot better than 50 percent against them from downtown. The Schedule: vs. NAIA Cal State San Marcos Wednesday; at Wisconsin Saturday.
5. Creighton (7-0). A Sentence: Greg McDermott’s team is playing so well because his son is on his way to an Adam Morrison-like year in terms of offense. A Statistic: Remarkably, the Jay’s effective field goal percentage has rise, up to a still-tops-in-the-U.S. 60.9 clip. The Schedule: at St. Joseph’s Saturday.
6. Gonzaga (5-1). A Sentence: I’m not quite sure what Gonzaga will become, but I do know they’ve got plenty of chances, plenty of talent, and believe they’d beat everyone below them here on a neutral floor more times than not (as of today). A Statistic: The game, and loss, to Illinois was the first road game of Gonzaga’s season. Last year, the team was 7-5 on the road, and didn’t get above .500 in that category until the end of the year. More road woes coming this year?. The Schedule: vs. Michigan State Saturday.
7. Saint Louis (7-1). A Sentence: Have been impressed with Saint Louis so far, but for reasons I won’t expound upon here and now, I still remain wary. A Statistic: Saint Louis is in the shorter half of D-I teams, and they’re rebounding like it. The 24.2 offensive rebounding percentage will eventually need to come up, unless the team’s able to keep the eFG% above 58 (which it is now). The Schedule: vs. Vermont Wednesday; vs. D-II Illinois Springfield Saturday.
8. San Diego State (8-2). A Sentence: Interesting about this team right now: the numbers don’t love it, but boy have I and so many others been impressed. A Statistic: Despite the strong start, Aztecs are 58 in KenPom. Where’s the love? BYU is 21! The Schedule: at San Diego Wednesday.
9. Memphis (4-2). A Sentence: Tigers had a couple of patsies last weeks, so they fall slightly be default. A Statistic: Just take notice of the team above and the team right here. One’s played 10 games, the other six. There is a lot of room to flex between groups right now; we’ll have a better sense of the Pyramid’s hierarchy in about three weeks. The Schedule: at Miami Tuesday; vs. Murray State Sunday.
10. Belmont (5-2). A Sentence: I’ll take this moment this week to say: Unless Belmont starts ripping up opponents by 20-plus on the regular, they’re just going to be a really good, nondescript team off most non-Pyramid radars until late February. A Statistic: Last year, Belmont was one of the best teams in the country at turning you over. This year, it’s the opposite. The 14.1 offensive turnover rate is third-best nationally. The Schedule: vs. Tennessee State Tuesday.
11. Northern Iowa (7-1). A Sentence: The Valley is going to be a multi-bid league this year, and UNI will be making the NCAAs — yes, I’m saying that on Dec. 5. A Statistic: The Panthers’ D, giving up .93 points per possession, hasn’t been given enough love so far. Let’s see if this team can become as good on the D end as the 2009-10 group. The Schedule: vs. Iowa Tuesday; vs. Wisconsin-Milwaukee Saturday.
12. Temple (4-2). A Sentence: Pretty sure Owls are in a tough spot this week; they’ll most definitely need to go 2-0 to remain inside the Pyramid’s walls on Dec. 12. A Statistic: Owls senior Michael Eric is currently taking more of your misses than anyone else. He possess a 34.6 success rate at grabbing defensive boards. The Schedule: at Toledo Wednesday; vs. Villanova Saturday.
13. New Mexico (6-2). A Sentence: Sophomore guard Kendall Williams has turned into a better player than I’d expected and is the reason UNM keeps a logo on this graphic. A Statistic: 23-4. That was the opening run to start Saturday’s game against Missouri State, which was in the Power Pyramid last Monday. The Schedule: at USC Saturday.
14. Wichita State (5-2). A Sentence: Valley swaps one team for another, as the Shockers replace Missouri State this week, keeping three teams in the rankings. A Statistic: In the out-of-nowhere performance to date this season, senior Joe Ragland scored 31 in the 89-70 WSU W over UNLV, thanks to eight 3s. Ragland boosted his PPG average to 11.9. The Schedule: at Tulsa Wednesday; vs. Utah State Saturday.
15. Murray State (9-0). A Sentence: Small surprise of the season: Billy Kennedy’s former team has started out terrifically without him. A Statistic: Three of the nine wins have been against foes outside of D-I, so that’s a big caveat. Wins over So. Miss and Dayton were convincing, though, so I’ve got the heart to put them in, just ahead of Tulane and College of Charleston. The Schedule: at Memphis Sunday.
Roaming outside the Pyramid:
♦ Out this week: Missouri State, Marshall. In: Murray State, Wichita State.
Posted on: November 17, 2011 4:49 pm
Edited on: November 17, 2011 5:00 pm
By Jeff Goodman
Mark Few knew Kevin Pangos could shoot.
"What impressed me most was his poise," Gonzaga's coach said on Thursday afternoon. "He was rock solid."
Pangos erupted for 33 points and was 9-of-13 from deep on Tuesday. The freshman from Canada even became a trending topic on Twitter.
Few that there aren't any plans to build a statue of Pangos in Spokane. Not yet, anyway.
"He's a freshman. He'll have great games and he'll have games when he gets a donut."
"He was just OK against Eastern Washington," Few added. "And if you talk to the Texas coaches (Gonzaga played Texas in a scrimmage), they probably don't even remember him."
That's not to say Few doesn't like Pangos.
"The coolest thing is that it wasn't an out-of-body experience for him shooting the ball," Few said. "Every time he shoots it, we think it's going in."
Few raved about the chemistry of this group - and also the ability of the young kids (including Pangos) to pick things up.
He also said that athletic junior college wing Guy Landry should help when he becomes eligible after eight games. The NCAA suspended him for the start of the season for playing on a club team in France.
"He's big, strong and athletic," Few said. "He's physical."
Posted on: November 8, 2011 3:31 pm
Edited on: November 8, 2011 4:20 pm
By Gary Parrish
Gonzaga's Elias Harris enters this season 11 pounds lighter than he was last season.
How'd he do it?
“Just eliminate my American eating habits, stay away from bread and burgers, hot dogs and especially the pop, all the sugary stuff," Harris, a native of Germany, told the Spokesman Review newspaper. "I drank a lot of water.”
This is funny to me because I hosted an exchange student from Germany last year. Her name is Dajana. She's a sweetheart -- one who gained 10 pounds within one month of moving to the United States based on nothing more than the way we eat in this country. I remember the first time we ever went out for lunch. She was blown away by the portions, grossed out by the quantity of food available, and she never could understand why the waitress kept filling everybody's glasses with Coke or Pepsi or whatever without anybody asking.
"They don't do that in Germany," she said. "You have to pay for refills there. They don't just bring you drinks."
Anyway, I Skyped with Dajana this past Sunday.
She looked noticeably thinner.
"I lost 10 pounds the first week I got back without doing anything," she told me. "I lost it by just not being in America."
In other words, Dajana knows exactly what Elias Harris is talking about. She experienced it first-hand. So I guess it's just tough being a German and living in the United States. What can I say? We like unhealthy food here ... and the culture is to eat lots and lots of it.
Posted on: September 6, 2011 11:15 am
By Matt Norlander
Really, the headline could replace "Gonzaga" with "college basketball" and be a fair and timely blog post. But as Gonzaga heads into another season as the likely favorite in the West Coast Conference, there seems to be a disturbing trend within the program. Too many players aren't staying four years, and this isn't an NBA-tinged issue. There are defects -- transfers -- who have perhaps undone a bit of the rosiness that so many saw Gonzaga for in the past 12 years.
Mark Few has done an incredible job in making the Bulldogs a national brand, becoming, really, the first non-BCS program from a true mid-major conference to have a somewhat-feared reputation. Yet he's still able to schedue ambitiously and successfully outside the conference. He blazed a trail that was followed by Memphis and Xavier and Butler and even a few other wannabes. But Gonzaga's had two patterns trail in its wake of prominence in the past decade: the program hasn't made a Final Four, and there's turnover on the roster that's become worrisome in recent years.
The Seattle Times' Bud Withers highlighted the latter issue in a story Monday.
Few makes indisputable points when it comes to the fleeting nature of AAU teams and the overall problem with transfers in college basketball. This was also illustrated in a terrific piece by Sports Illustrated's Luke Winn last month.
But unlike a lot of other programs that have dealt with players renting a room for a year or two and then leaving, Gonzaga hasn't had instability within the higher ranks of its program -- or its athletic department. There has been no coaching turnover, not even with assistants, really. Mark Few is Gonzaga. He's passed up dozens of job opportunities in the past 10 years to stay in Spokane and build something few thought could be built there.
So why can't he hold on to guys? Most of the good players stay, sure, but the underbelly of the roster has been turbulent in recent years. Few is also considered by many to be one of, if not the nicest coach in college basketball. Withers researched and found that Gonzaga's transfers rates are higher than in many BCS leagues, where misguided recruits can often find themselves struggling for playing time two years into their careers. The reality sets in, and they want to bolt.
Again, to be fair, this issue plagues college basketball as a whole.
But is the recent trend at Gonzaga an an unintended compliment to the program? Players go there with the idea that it's on par with most BCS teams, and when playing time isn't abundant, they want out? I think so. Those who've left Gonzaga have wound up at inferior programs -- a bizarre positive commentary on the state of Bulldogs hoops, even with the high transfer rate.
There's also the issue of playing the Gonzaga Way. Gonzaga's been good, real good, at winning with Few's style. But as the program's become more and more mainstream, it's had the ability -- and the want -- to recruit different types of players. NBA-body players. Players with a lot more athleticism than Gonzaga could recruit in the previous century.
And a lot of those players don't fit in Few's scheme. They don't know that until they experience it. Few and his coaches may not realize it, either. In the WCC, Gonzaga has the flexibility to experiment with different types of players and take chances on guys, even with the risk of transfer, because they still run game on the rest of the conference. Gonzaga's won the WCC regular-season title every since since 1998 except once (2000).
When Demetri Goodson, who transferred last year to play football at Baylor, was asked by the Seattle Times if he and Few got along, he responded, "Nah, not really. He treated it like a business. He's an excellent coach. It's just the way he coaches wasn't for me, I don't think."
And this may be the mindset/state of Gonzaga basketball for a good while. Few and his assistants will chase and take chances on guys who have NBA potential, or guys outside their direct recruiting base. They can afford to ... for now. But the scale could tilt back against Gonzaga soon, as Saint Mary's, which just signed Randy Bennett to a long extension, has been creeping closer on stealing the crown in the WCC. And now BYU is joining the party, too.