Posted on: November 21, 2011 8:00 pm
Edited on: November 21, 2011 8:07 pm
By Gary Parrish
Can Washington lose at Saint Louis and move up five spots on a ballot?
But it's a stupid ballot.
Let's do some Poll Attacks.
Associated Press poll: Did you watch any of the Coaches vs. Cancer event last week?
But guess who didn't?
Answer: Future Poll Attacks Hall of Famer Scott Wolf of the Los Angeles Daily News.
How else to explain his ballot?
Mississippi State beat Texas A&M by nine points and Arizona by 10 on consecutive nights to win the CVC. The Bulldogs looked good in the event; Arizona and A&M didn't. But you wouldn't know that from Scott's ballot. He's got Arizona ranked higher than any other AP voter, all the way up at No. 11. And he's got Texas A&M ranked 25th.
The Mississippi State Bulldogs?
They remain unranked on his ballot.
But there's always next week, I guess.
Another interesting ballot -- actually, this one is much more interesting -- belongs to Kevin Dunleavy of the Washington Examiner. He's got Washington ranked 14th even though the Huskies were considered nothing more than a fringe Top 25 team last week -- back before they lost by 13 points at Saint Louis on Sunday. And that's not even the craziest part. The craziest part is that Kevin had Washington ranked 19th last week, which means he moved the Huskies up five spots after a double-digit loss to Saint Louis. Seriously. That really happened. Swear to God.
(Kevin has SLU unranked, by the way. So he moved Washington up five spots to No. 14 after losing to Saint Louis but kept Saint Louis unranked. If anybody wants to try to explain this, I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Coaches poll: My biggest pet peeve when it comes to rankings is when teams drop in polls following close road losses to higher-ranked teams. I mean, how does that make any sense? If you're ranked eighth you are, by definition, supposed to lose a road game to a school ranked third. And if you lose that road game in competitive fashion, it doesn't mean you shouldn't be ranked eighth. In fact, in some cases, it might mean you should be ranked higher. But under no circumstances should you be punished for losing a close game on the road to a higher-ranked team.
And yet that's exactly what happened to Florida.
The Gators were ranked eighth last week.
They lost 81-74 at No. 3 Ohio State.
And now they're ranked ninth.
Again, the Gators were dropped for losing a close game to a higher-ranked team on the road.
Dumb. Dumb. Dumb.
Also dumb: Texas getting 31 points. The Longhorns are 2-1 with a loss to Oregon State. They might be good when all those freshmen grow up, but they're not Top-25 worthy right now.
Also also dumb: Jackson State coach Tevester Anderson voted Ohio State No. 1 last week. He then lost to the Buckeyes by 44 points on Friday. He then dropped them from the top spot on his ballot on Monday. Would a 50-point win have been enough to keep OSU No. 1 on Anderson's ballot? What about 60? Or 90?
Posted on: November 18, 2011 8:28 pm
Edited on: November 18, 2011 8:39 pm
By Jeff Goodman
Nurideen Lindsey was at the line, in the waning seconds, with his team down one point. One to tie and likely force overtime -- and a pair would almost certainly give St. John's a victory.
Then Anna Cate Kennedy did her thing.
The 7-year daughter of Texas A&M coach Billy Kennedy, sitting in the stands about 30 feet from Lindsey, was the difference-maker.
She left out a pair of shrieks prior to Lindsey's free throws -- both of which failed to drop through the net.
"Yes, sir," Anna Cate responded after the game when asked if she felt as though she was the reason why Lindsey misfired.
Anna Cate has been doing it for a year or so - but Kennedy has told her to done it down a bit on the road.
"People say it works," Anna Cate said.
If I was Kennedy, I'd be handing the game ball to Anna Cate.
Posted on: November 17, 2011 10:59 pm
By Jeff Goodman
Texas A&M, ranked 18th in one poll and 19th in the other, hardly looked the part of a Top 20 team on Thursday night.
There are multiple reasons.
The Aggies have been without their new head coach, Billy Kennedy, up until a week ago - and are also playing without their top player, Khris Middleton.
Is it unfair to judge this team right now?
"Yes and no," Texas A&M's Elston Turner said after the 69-60 loss to Mississippi State on Thursday night.
Turner said that with or without Middleton, who will likely miss the next couple of weeks after knee surgery, the defense must be upgraded.
"We miss him," Turner said. "And we can't wait until he comes back."
"When he does come back, you'll see a different team," he added.
Maybe one that can challenge Baylor, Kansas and Missouri for the the Big 12 title.
Realistically, freshman Jamal Branch may be the Aggies top option at the point. Starter and veteran Dash Harris struggled and was just 1-of-8 from the field with three assists and two turnovers. David Loubeau is a solid inside guy and Turner, a Washington transfer, gives the team a quality perimeter threat. There is no shortage of role guys.
But Middleton gives the Aggies a go-to guy, someone capable of going for 20 on any given night.
It's not just the absence of Middleton, who led the team in scoring last season. It's also the players trying to adapt to a new system - under a head coach that hasn't been around all that much after being diagnosed with early onset of Parkinson's Disease.
"It's going to take time," Kennedy said.
Posted on: November 16, 2011 4:21 pm
So these are the Big 12 favorites, eh? Kansas and Baylor?
If so, the conference might be worse shape than thought heading into the season.
Kansas competed with Kentucky admirably for a half, but the talent gap between the two teams was just eye opening. It’s one of the main reasons the Jayhawks were overrated in the preseason, but the disparity between the two rosters was even bigger than originally thought. Jeff Withey played fairly well, and Bill Self had his guys playing with energy. However, outside of Tyshawn Taylor and Thomas Robinson, the Jayhawks really couldn’t compete in the second half. Robinson went up against double- and triple-teams the entire game, and simply didn’t have anyone to take the pressure off of him besides Taylor. The Jayhawks will get better as the season goes on, but they’re certainly not a Sweet 16-caliber team right now.
Baylor beat San Diego State by 10 on Tuesday, but I’m still not sold on the Bears’ point guard play and ability to make smart decisions when it counts. They turned the ball over 21 times. Pierre Jackson gives them a better chance to win than A.J. Walton, but is he the answer? California transfer Gary Franklin becomes eligible at the semester break, but he’s not a pure point guard. Right now, chemistry isn’t an issue. Anthony Jones, Quincy Acy and Quincy Miller are all getting starter’s minutes, but what will happen once Perry Jones III returns from suspension and J’Mison Morgan gets back from injury. Baylor is supremely talented and could hang with anyone if it gets consistent point guard play and plays within itself. That remains to be seen, though.
Texas A&M could be a candidate to win the league, especially once Khris Middleton returns. But are the Aggies an Elite Eight or Final Four threat? Unlikely. They’re a really solid team. But I’m not sure they’re explosive enough.
Missouri looks OK so far, but the Tigers have no inside depth and far too inconsistent away from home.
Texas can clearly put up points, as evidenced by the 100 it dropped on Rhode Island on Tuesday. Defense is a huge concern, however, as is consistent frontcourt production.
There might not be an Elite Eight-caliber team in this group. As Mike Miller of NBCSports.com pointed out, a 12-6 conference record might win the Big 12. It will make for good theater during February, but that won’t mean the winner will be a threat to make a deep run in March.
The best hope for a title contender from the conference is Baylor. It’s hard to trust the Bears, though.
We could be headed for a (very) down year in the Big 12.
Posted on: November 14, 2011 12:26 pm
The personnel shakeups in college basketball over the past few weeks have been alarming. There have been freshmen declared ineligible, players suspended for rules violations or NCAA issues and now injuries are beginning to hit a few contenders as well. Several players missed games over the weekend due to injury; are they replaceable?
Khris Middleton, Texas A&M
On Friday, Texas A&M announced that leading returning scorer Khris Middleton (right) had a partially torn meniscus in his right knee and would miss 3-4 weeks. Middleton, a 6-foot-7 forward, averaged 14.4 points and 5.2 rebounds last season, and already had six points in the opener before suffering his injury. In his place, Ray Turner has stepped up his offensive production. Turner isn’t as athletic or the inside-outside option that Middleton is, but he scored 20 points in each of the first two games and also grabbed 14 rebounds.
Jordan Green took Middleton’s place in the lineup, providing a little bit of everything at the guard position. Fortunately for Billy Kennedy, the Aggies have plenty of depth to replace Middleton for the near future. A&M does head to Florida on Dec. 17; Middleton would certainly help the Aggies’ chances in Gainesville.
Mike Marra, Louisville
Louisville continues to get hit with the injury bug. Rakeem Buckles was already out until at least mid-December while freshman Wayne Blackshear will also miss the next couple of weeks. Stephan Van Treese is also still out with an injury. The news got worse on Sunday, as Mike Marra tore his ACL and will sit out the rest of the season. Marra was a good weapon off the bench who could come in and knock down jump shots.
Heading into the season, the Cardinals were overflowing with wings. Now, sophomore Russ Smith and freshman Angel Nunez might need to play more minutes than expected, while Jared Swopshire could see some time at the three. When Blackshear does return, he will have a chance to make an impact immediately off the bench.
Festus Ezeli, Vanderbilt
With Festus Ezeli, it’s a matter of suspension and injury. He was suspended for the first six games of the season, but then sprained his MCL and PCL and will miss six-to-eight weeks. Vanderbilt clearly misses its best inside player, as the Commodores looked stagnant offensively and lost to Cleveland State on Sunday, 71-58. The 6-foot-11 Ezeli averaged 12.8 points and 6.2 boards last season, and the Commodores are having a tough time replacing him.
Steve Tchiengang took Ezeli’s place in the lineup, and he has totaled nine points and 12 rebounds in two games. He’s a physical presence on the glass, but he lacks offensive ability. Jeffery Taylor is more of a perimeter threat, while Lance Goulbourne is not one to do much with his back to the basket. The only other frontcourt option is Rod Odom, another face-up player. Vandy needs to bide its time until Ezeli returns, relying on the perimeter group more than ever.
Erick Green, Virginia Tech: With freshman Marquis Rankin already out, Green was expected to take on more of a point guard role. However, he missed the opener against East Tennessee State with an Achilles injury. He is a game-time decision for Monday night’s game against Monmouth. Without Rankin and Green, the Hokies struggled to control the ball, racking up more turnovers than assists. Sophomore Tyrone Garland better be ready. Tech is also without forward J.T. Thompson, who will miss the entire season with an ACL tear in his right knee.
Renardo Sidney, Mississippi State: Who really knows with Sidney at this point? He missed Saturday’s game with a groin injury, but head coach Rick Stansbury also said he was “sick” at one point. Arnett Moultrie stepped up in his absence, going for 28 points and 13 rebounds. Center Wendell Lewis saw an increase in minutes, but he is more of a factor on the boards and on the defensive end. Sidney should be back soon, but his attitude and conditioning is more of a concern than his injury.
Sammy Zeglinski, Virginia: The Cavaliers kicked off their campaign with a 37-point victory over South Carolina State on Sunday. Zeglinski, who played nearly 26 minute per game last season, missed the game with a sprained ankle. In his place, Jontel Evans handled the position effectively. The two split time last season, and Evans puts on more pressure at both ends. Zeglinski can play off the ball as well, and his injury isn’t expected to keep him out.
Photo: US Presswire
Posted on: November 11, 2011 8:03 pm
Edited on: November 11, 2011 8:15 pm
By Jeff Goodman
Texas A&M has been without its coach - and now the Aggies will also be without their top player.
Texas A&M star Khris Middleton will be out for the next few weeks after surgery on a partially torn meniscus in his right knee.
Middleton suffered the injury - which was initially diagnosed as a hamstring injury - in the first half of the Aggies win over Liberty on Wednesday.
Middleton averaged 14.4 points and 5.2 rebounds last season.
No. 19 Texas A&M will play Southern on Sunday, and will also be without Middleton next week when the Aggies play at Madison Square Garden in the 2K Sports Classic.
The team is also without coach Billy Kennedy - who is away from the team after being diagnosed with the early stages of Parkinson's disease. It's unclear when Kennedy will return to coach the Aggies.
Posted on: October 27, 2011 8:18 pm
Edited on: October 27, 2011 8:24 pm
By Gary Parrish
Texas A&M basketball coach Billy Kennedy announced on Thursday that he is "dealing with" an early stage of Parkinson's, the disease most closely associated with Muhammad Ali and Michael J. Fox.
"I have been experiencing neck and shoulder pain for several months," Kennedy said. "While not debilitating, the pain has affected my ability to sleep with any duration or regularity. As a result of this and my schedule, I had reached a state of exhaustion and was advised by my attending physician to take some time to restore my strength and to further explore the underlying cause of my discomfort. Through testing, it has been discovered that I am dealing with an early stage of Parkinson’s disease. At this time, I am heeding the advice of my doctors and addressing the disease and its symptoms. We have begun a long-term treatment plan and recovery. My doctors are encouraged and are telling me I will be able to come back soon."
Kennedy, 47, is in his first year at Texas A&M.
The former Murray State coach took over after Mark Turgeon left for Maryland.
"I am very grateful for the outpouring of support and the prayers from friends, family and the Aggie Network," Kennedy said. "We have a good prognosis, be encouraged, and join with me in eager anticipation for the success that awaits us. My intention is to return to the court as soon as it is prudent. Until my return, I have great confidence in Coach [Glynn] Cyprien and the staff I have assembled to lead this great group of young men and this basketball program."
Kennedy's diagnosis was a surprise because Parkinson's doesn't usually affect people until after the age of 50. It's difficult to predict how Parkinson's will affect any specific individual, but when identified early and treated studies show a man may go more than 15 years before he reaches a stage of high dependency from caregivers.
"Our foremost concern is for Coach Kennedy and his family," said Texas A&M athletic director Bill Byrne. "Billy knows he can count on us and the Aggie Network for support. I fully expect Billy to have a long and illustrious coaching career here in Aggieland when he is cleared to return to the court. Meanwhile, I have confidence in the staff Billy has hired and in our basketball team. I’m anxious to get the season started and to get Billy back on the basketball court."
Posted on: October 17, 2011 1:02 pm
By Matt Norlander
I have no idea what new Texas A&M coach Billy Kennedy is going through right now. We do know it's been pretty much mandated by his doctor that he take an indefinite leave of absence from coaching the team.
If this is happening now, at the start of Kennedy's biggest coaching gig in his life, I'm assuming it's as serious as it is precautionary. And I wish him the best of luck in recovery. His "don't worry, I'll be back soon" quote via a statement was pretty comforting, though. Anything with that much brevity and casual language should be a good sign.
Kennedy was hired in May after Mark Turgeon took the Maryland job in the aftermath of Gary Williams' surprising retirement.
From a basketball standpoint, A&M can probably afford to not have Kennedy around in the early going, and I say that with the utmost respect to his ability to coach. The reason I bring it up: A&M's schedule is very weak.
Let me line it up for you:
Nov. 9 Liberty
Nov. 13 Southern U.
Nov. 17 Mississippi St.
Nov. 26 Texas A&M-CC
Nov. 30 Alcorn St.
Dec. 3 Stephen F. Austin
Dec. 7 Sam Houston
Dec. 10 Louisiana-Monroe
Dec. 17 Florida
Dec. 22 Rice
Dec. 29 Arkansas Tech
What's the theme of all of those? No road games. A&M was picked atop the Big 12 preseason poll by league coaches. We won't get a sense of A&M true potential until well into January.
Here's to hoping Kennedy is on the comeback as soon as possible. But in all likelihood, A&M will be just fine without him for the next few days or weeks, as it's got the talent to handle the early parts of its schedule without much trouble.