Posted on: January 12, 2012 12:30 pm
By Matt Norlander
I alluded to this in the Wakeup Call, and now that we've got video, this must be shared.
The best kinds of taunts, cheers and jeers are the ones that transcend basketball. There's a clever, in bounds, next-level approach that fans can take; a sign or taunt or organized gesture doesn't have to be evil. The best ones aren't. Some of the worst, in fact, are.
Alabama fans offered up one of my favorite moments of the year Wednesday night with a cheer we've never seen before. Fresh off that national championship in football Monday night, LSU and Alabama had a rematch on the court. In the football game, Les Miles' Tigers had issues crossing the 50-yard line. In fact, they only did it once.
So, at the start of the game Wednesday night, what did Tide fans do?
It isn't as bombastic and Bronx-cheery as it could have been (that's because the joint wasn't even at capacity, a perennial issue with a few SEC hoop schools). But it's still pretty great. You know what Alabama fans should do? Until the Tide football team gets humbled again by LSU -- could be a year, could be five -- they should keep this tradition alive.
Alabama won the game, 69-53. It will be a tournament team. LSU, not so much. But at least the football rivalry has taken itself indoors and beside the court.
Posted on: January 12, 2012 10:52 am
St. John's coach Steve Lavin is cancer-free. He explains why he hasn't been coaching for the past two months and offers up the chances he'll coach again this season.
Posted on: January 5, 2012 11:22 pm
Edited on: January 6, 2012 4:12 pm
By Jeff Goodman
I wasn't a math major, but I sure can tell from the video below that Louisiana-Lafayette had six players on the court for the game-winning possession.
I was also taught that that's one more than is allowed.
Unfortunately, the officiating crew didn't catch it - and Western Kentucky was on the losing end of a game-winning shot because they had to guard six players for the final 21 seconds of overtime.
Hilltoppers coach Ken McDonald had no idea that Louisiana-Lafayette had six players on the court until after the final horn sounded.
The game was tied at 70-all as Lafayette inbounded the ball with 21 seconds remaining in overtime. The officiating crew had no idea that the Ragin' Cajuns had an extra player on the court.
The officials are supposed to count the number of players on each sides on the floor.
"It's a hard pill to swallow," said McDonald, who team nearly forced a turnover despite being a man down. "What really hurts is the kids. They really played hard."
"The refs made a mistake," he added.
McDonald said by the time everyone figured out what had transpired, the officiating crew was already off the court. He was told that he can't appeal.
"Once they leave the court, you can't review it," McDonald said. "From what I've been told, you can't appeal it, either."
McDonald was surprisingly calm for a coach whose young team (he starts four freshmen) could have used this victory.
"It's a tough way to lose," McDonald said. "But we can still take a lot of positives from this game."
Video via Tim Burke of Deadspin, who was on the ball with this shortly after it ended.
Posted on: December 13, 2011 12:32 am
Edited on: December 13, 2011 9:26 am
By Matt Norlander
Time to step your game up, Christian Watford.
The Golden Eagles of Oral Roberts won a game Monday night in a fashion that's unlikely to be repeated this year or even for years to come. Tramar Sutherland of Arkansas-Little Rock heaves the rock a few feet too far for his teammates on a game-winning set-up attempt for Little Rock. Oral Roberts' Damen Bell-Holter winds up with the ball and just snipes it back toward his rim.
Oral Roberts radio play-by-play man Geoff Haxton doesn't even think the game's ending then and there, and then ...
That thing just smacks violently off the backboard and scurries its way through. What a way to win for ORU, which needed a good W, because it gets Gonzaga and Xavier on the road in the next five days.
And No. 22? With the dancing? That's Steven Roundtree. Just get down with yourself, young man, and do no apologize.
Bell-Holter has done this before, by the way. The call here is almost as good as is how this game-tying play develops.
(H/T to Fran Fraschilla, who retweeted Oklahoma radio color guy Mike Houck's tweet to the video)
Posted on: December 12, 2011 11:18 am
By Matt Norlander
Everyone's posting this video, and we will too. Indiana beats Kentucky, Indiana bar goes wild.
Never gets old. Never. I particularly love the reinforced cheers upon the replays of Watford's shot falling true. By the way, check photo No. 2 in this gallery. That's just a sweet shot. Also, Eamonn Brennan posted a video from outside the bar, Nick's, which is featured in the video below. The streets were occupied heavily by ecstastic, drunk and delirious IU fans, who finally found themselves a reason to be outwardly proud of their basketball team.
It's a great Monday in Bloomington.
Posted on: December 10, 2011 7:43 pm
Edited on: December 10, 2011 8:31 pm
By Jeff Goodman
Tom Crean can celebrate however he wants after this one. He could be yelling and screaming buck naked in the lobby of Assembly Hall and it would be fine with me (OK, I take that one back).
I mocked the Indiana coach last season after he went bananas in the lobby of Assembly Hall following a home victory over Illinois. However, Saturday's victory against top-ranked Kentucky? Well, that's worthy of a full-pledged party well into the night for Crean and the Hoosiers.
This may wind up becoming a defining moment for the Indiana program in the Crean Era - one that had some fans and many around the country questioning whether the Hoosiers would be nationally relevant again.
Kentucky was more talented at every single position on the court, but Indiana took control of the game in the second half, and after blowing a 10-point lead, got a 3-pointer at the buzzer from Christian Watford for the 73-72 upset.
The Hoosiers showed mental resolve.
This Hoosiers team has officially turned the corner. They hadn't really beaten anyone of note until now (Butler and N.C State don't quite count), but should make their way into the Top 25 for the first time since Kelvin Sampson was running things and making illegal phone calls in Bloomington.
It was nice to see Assembly Hall rocking again because the fans in Bloomington are rabid - and are deserving of success. Indiana doesn't blow you away, but now Crean has enough talent and experience to compete with the big boys.
Let's not get ahead of ourselves, however, and start proclaiming the Hoosiers as a clear-cut NCAA tournament team. The Hoosiers aren't going to challenge Ohio State for the Big Ten title. They remain undefeated, but still need to fare well in Big Ten play to ensure themselves of dancing come March.
Watford doesn't always show up, but it was Kentucky's Terrence Jones who played the role of the magician on Saturday, doing his best disappearing act with just four points and a lone rebound in the contest. Watford went for 20 points in the victory while freshman Cody Zeller, Will Sheehey, Victor Oladipo and Jordan Hulls all played well.
Crean has had a rough go thus far in his tenure, finishing near the bottom of the league each of his three seasons. Recruiting has certainly picked up in the past year or so and Cream got over one hurdle when he took down Butler's Brad Stevens last month. But this one was far more important.
Crean knocked off the No. 1 team in the land. The almighty John Calipari and the Kentucky Wildcats.
If that's not worthy of a party, I'm not sure what is.
Photo: US PRESSWIRE
Posted on: December 10, 2011 12:00 am
Edited on: December 10, 2011 12:10 pm
By Matt Norlander
A tiny NAIA school in the middle of Indiana has a once-a-year tradition that's one-of-a-kind and among the best in college sports. Friday night, 2,265 people sardine-packed Odle Arena and got to celebrate “Silent Night,” the carefully orchestrated combustion of cacophony and joy that happens once the Trojans men’s basketball team scores its 10th point.
Why do this? It’s college, so: Why not do this? The tradition is the perfectly timed stress reliever. The annual game is always scheduled the Friday night before finals begin. The students assemble afterward at a university-sponsored Christmas party (“Habecker’s Holipalooza”) where, among other activities, the school president reads A Christmas Story to them.
The patient tradition isn’t even two decades old; it began in the early ‘90s when longtime Taylor coach Paul Patterson got the suggestion from an assistant on staff. It’s a blend of basketball and Christmas cheer, sort of an initiation into the holiday season that comes before cramming for the end-of-semester blitz.
“It’s so bizarre, that first 10 points. You can’t speak. You can encourage the guys, but you can’t do anything,” Patterson said Friday night, referring to typical coach gyrations and screams. “Then it (the 10th point) comes and the game gets to be a really high intensity.”
Here's early video of the shot/moment. Just scan the crowd quickly and see what you can pick out in terms of the characters dressed in outrageous outfits. (I see you, Waldo!)
The past three years have seen the unlikely happen: the 10th point coming via free throw — and all by the same player. Casey Coons has been sent to the stripe and connected each time, sending his fellow students into frenzy. Friday night, he was hoping to dodge having to go to the line again, only to be fouled while attempting a 3-pointer (no better way to do it than by dropping a trey). Coons is the team’s best player and leading scorer in the Mid-Central College Conference.
“We just want to get it over with quick,” Coons said by phone after the team’s oh-by-the-way 71-47 win over Ohio Mid-Western. “I’ve just been in the right place.”
Imagine that, though. The foul line, all three times, and sinking it when the 10th point was imminent. It’s an anxiety a few minutes into the game that’s usually reserved for free throws with less than a minute remaining.
“There’s definitely pressure, for sure, and it’s not like a late-game situation totally, but it’s a fun situation,” Coons said.
“He is that kind of a player, though,” Patterson added. “I think he’s an aggressive kid who goes out and leads us. He gets us off the mark, attacks the game and is as good a competitor as we have and is one of the smartest guys we’ve had here in a while. It’s ironic he got three shots tonight. It’s a great experience because it’s not the same as hitting a big shot at the end of the game, but it is a pressure situation.”
Coons has an opportunity to run the table during in this annual high point on the Trojans’ schedule — he’s just a junior.
The school is abuzz all week with the buildup to the game. It’s officially Silent Night Week. Players carry the anxiety and expectation with them from Monday morning all the way up until a few minutes after 6 p.m., when the game normally starts. Students line up early, many dressed in pajamas. In recent years, the costumes and oneupsmanship has gotten extreme. Costumes of so many sorts have been donned to give the event the wild-card aspect that’s made it as eclectic as it is rambunctious.
What's nearly as cool: the arm-in-arm, shoulder-against-shoulder swaying and singing of "Silent Night" at game's end.
Taylor’s never lost the Silent Night game. Teams in the past have tried to curb the chaos by calling a timeout when that bombastic 10th point comes. But that only encourages the crowd to get rowdier. Friday night, a new victim showed up on campus, as Ohio Mid-Western had never gotten the Silent Night experience.
“It’s definitely a unique experience,” Coons said. “You can’t really prepare for or get used to. It’s like practice, but there’s a couple thousand people staring and you and not saying a word. You want to hurry through and get that 10 point as quick as you can.”
There have been times before when Taylor hasn’t been the first to 10. That’s when the team really starts to tighten up. But in recent years, it’s won the race to double digits.
“The biggest thing is we try to have the older guys on the floor instead of the younger guys,” Patterson said. “It’s a lot of fun for a lot of people, but it’s not fun for us — in that it’s a great exercise in mental awareness. But it’s not an easy thing."
In addition to having such a cool tradition, the team is also pretty good. It’s currently ranked 21st in the NAIA D-II Top 25. And Patterson is a legendary coach in his own right; he recently accomplished something unprecedented in Indiana collegiate sports history when he became the first coach at a a four-year Indiana university to win 700 games with the same team. His first season with the school was 1979.
Patterson, 69, said the tradition is part of what keeps him going. He’s not thought about retirement yet. Team keeps winning, fans keep coming, the nights aren’t very silent these days when the basketball team hosts opponents.
“I like doing this, and as long as I feel like I’m making a difference for our guys, I’m going to keep on doing it,” he said.
Whenever Patterson steps away, he'll have brought and left that record-breaking wins mark and one of the terrific traditions in the sport to Taylor.
Posted on: December 7, 2011 6:20 pm
By Matt Norlander
If you gave me my pick for any head coach in college basketball to dress up as Santa Claus, Providence's Ed Cooley would definitely be No. 1. (Last on the list: Xavier's Chris Mack.)
So I'm now filled with holiday cheer thanks to the cheesy-but-fulfilling video of Cooley donned up in ruby. It practically looks like velour, which I can totally see Cooley rocking on a lazy Sunday (I know I do). The only downside to the video: the Providence mascot, which may be some sort of ghost of Christmas past that's come back in tangible form. Either way, stay out of my nightmares, thing.
This is why Cooley made so much sense to bring in as the new coach. He's a Rhode Island guy, is one of the most affable men in the game, and he's brought something better than gifts to Providence this year -- wins. Providence is 7-2.
If at all possible, can we get Cooley to dress like this Dec. 20 at home against New Hampshire, or the Dec. 23 game against hated rival Rhode Island?
Friar Blog also has something called "Elf Yourself," which features Cooley and his three star players. Yeah, I will be doing this for our foursome on the blog soon. Check back during one of the Wakeup Calls next week. Need to get it so Parrish and Borzello's elves are down to size.
Who wouldn't want this man in their living room during the wee hours of Dec. 25? OK, other Big East coaches not included.