Tag:Big East
Posted on: February 22, 2012 12:22 pm
 

Pod: Flat tires, court storms, Calhoun's future

Whenever Calhoun does leave, what is next for UConn basketball? (Getty Images)

By Matt Norlander


I have to admit, sometimes, I'd love to make these podcasts just storytelling with Goodman and Parrish and leaving most of the basketball talk out of it. When Nickelback bashing, goalpost hanging, drunk tire-changing and late-night driving is part of the court-holding, why get into the hoops?

Well, we do. All of that described above is on today's pod, plus an assortment of basketball team topics.

In order:
  • From the beginning: It's the worst possible way to start a podcast. Goodman's a Nickelback fan. Let the excuses rain down from the heavens.
  • 2:25: On Kentucky and expectation and why it's logical to believe this team is as good as we want them to be. Final Four seems inevitable. National champs? .
  • 8:06: Kentucky needs a loss? What?
  • 11:00: UConn and Jim Calhoun. Will he coach this Saturday? What's the future of this program whenever Jimbo leaves? And if this team beats Syracuse Saturday, it sort of feels like the 8/9 game is in its future.
  • 17:36: New Mexico's a fine example of seed and expectation and team talent. What have the Lobos proven and what seed do they deserve? Parrish takes up the case that seeds four through eight stand to be fairly similar, no matter who lands on what line this season.
  • 20:55: Storming the court. We bring it up here, but Goodman actually cops to hanging from the goal post after Arizona beat Washington. Just picture that.
  • 24:36: The college basketball player who is shorter than Parrish. Goodman's now obsessed with this.
  • 26:44: And it's time for Parrish to steal the show again by sharing a story of something stupid he did. In this case, it was changing a tire with a drunk Mississippian college kid at 2 in the morning. Oh happy day!

Again, I thank you for taking the time to listen to the podcast -- whenever you can. I ask that you, if you like what we're doing here, encourage like-minded hoopheads to subscribe in Tunes as well. Guests like Jay Bilas, Seth Davis, they're the guys who make me sound better and make the podcast worthwhile. The other guys? Gary Parrish and Jeff Goodman, they really make it entertaining, and of course you can count on our trio show each Wednesday. The RSS feed is another way to keep the podcasts coming to you ASAP. We've got a Zune download link as well.


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Posted on: February 21, 2012 11:52 am
 

Cincy-Xavier likely to continue rivalry

Cooler, smarter heads have prevailed and it appears Xavier-Cincy will continue their rivalry. (US PRESSWIRE)

By Matt Norlander


The brouhaha that briefly marred college basketball's reputation in December won't prevent one of the most intense rivalries from continuing as (to be) scheduled.

The Cincinnati Enquirer is reporting perspective has prevailed: the Cincinnati-Xavier basketball rivalry will most likely keep on keeping on in the coming years. The fight was of course unacceptable, and people beyond the players (namely the officials who let things get past the point of civility) were at fault for the transgressions. Animosity has always been the most pungent ingredient to X vs. Cincy, but so long as 2011's Crosstown Shootout fiasco was an aberration, there's no reason to stop this once-a-year appointment.

“Every indication is that we are going to play next year,” University of Cincinnati president Greg Williams said Monday. “We’re looking at it. (Xavier University president) Father Graham and I have talked about it a number of times.”

Williams, who emphasized that a final decision has not been made, said a group of advisors is looking at “what the game should look like going forward” and that the group will make recommendations to him. Asked if any possible changes might include moving the game to a neutral site, Williams said, “There’s been a lot of issues that need to be considered. I don’t want to pre-empt any recommendations that a committee might make.”

Xavier has always been in favor of continuing the rivalry, said XU athletic director Mike Bobinski.

“I haven’t changed my thoughts, nor do I believe Xavier has changed our thoughts at all,” Bobinski said. “Absolutely, we would like to see the game continue for the good of both institutions, college basketball, the city, all of the above. We all agree we’ve got work to do to put a different feel and flavor to the thing, but it’s worth doing so. Those conversations are yet to come.”

Bobinski said he would be opposed to playing the game at a neutral site.

Those quotes are pretty relieving. You've got men at the head of the table for each school speaking matter-of-fact-like about the rivalry, its importance and the perspective of what it means to each program, its fans and the community. Williams and Bobinski are in touch with it all, and that's relieving to see.

Expect the final decision/formal word on the rivalry's continuation in March. There's still debate over whether the game should be played on a neutral court. I think keeping it in home arenas is fine, you're just going to have to up the security very noticeably in the next few years. Fans will be fans and I'm sure a few who don't even know it yet are already destined to get themselves thrown out.

But as long as the players stay in the game and basketball is basketball, one of the sports top-five rivalries deserves to continue.

Posted on: February 21, 2012 9:04 am
Edited on: February 21, 2012 9:40 am
 

South Florida: The truth and lies of the Bulls

The big stretch comes next for USF. (AP)

By Jeff Goodman

What we know: South Florida has already secured double-digit victories in the Big East with four regular-season games remaining. 

What we also know: The Bulls don't have a ton of big-time resume wins, but opportunities remain: The last four games are at Syracuse, Cincinnati, at Louisville and West Virginia. 

What most don't know: Stan Heath was without his most important player, freshman point guard Anthony Collins, for the first five games due to a hip flexor - which included those two bad losses against Old Dominion and Penn State.

That leading scorer Gus Gilchrist was out of the lineup for three games - including the loss to VCU. 

That Jawanza Poland missed the first 11 games of the year due to a suspension (two games) and a back injury (nine games). 

"I know we need to win a game or two the rest of the way," Heath said. "But I don't understand why we're so far on the outside." 

He's right. If the name on the front of the jersey was, say, UConn or Syracuse or even Pittsburgh, the Bulls would be squarely on the right side of The Bubble. Instead, South Florida is looked at as pretenders because they haven't knocked off any of the big boys yet. It's not Stan Heath's fault that the league gave him Pittsburgh and Villanova twice in a year that both programs have taken a major hit. 

"When I first heard that we were given Pittsburgh and Villanova, I thought that someone obviously doesn't like us," Heath said. "Those are perennially two of the best teams in our league." 

"Now, in a way, it's hurt us," he added. "And I don't think it should." 

With Collins in the lineup, the Bulls are 14-8 overall and 10-4 in Big East play. The last time they lost to an unranked team was back in 2011 -- Dec. 28 against UConn. The last three losses are at Notre Dame, at Marquette and at Georgetown. 

"He's been the difference for us," Heath said of Collins. "He plays so hard and is so tough." 

And he can play. Heath said that Baylor recruited him out of Houston, but the Bears opted to take junior college point guard Pierre Jackson instead. Collins went for a career-high 22 points and dished out six assists last night in a road win at Pittsburgh. Now it's off to Syracuse. Then back home to face Cincinnati, to Louisville and the regular-season finale at home against West Virginia.

"I'm not saying we should definitely be in right now," Heath said. "But I think we should be in the conversation." 


Posted on: February 20, 2012 11:51 pm
Edited on: February 20, 2012 11:54 pm
 

Night Court: Napier saves UConn's season

By Jeff Borzello

Here’s everything you need to know about Monday’s slate of college basketball games …

Game of the day: Shabazz Napier saved Connecticut’s season. After it looked like the sophomore guard wouldn’t play at all, Napier contributed key minutes and then hit a pull-up 30-footer with 0.8 seconds left in overtime to give the Huskies a 73-70 win at Villanova. Connecticut got behind by 18 points in the first half, but fought back to tie it at halftime. Jeremy Lamb went for 32 points, constantly bailing out the Huskies down the stretch. If Connecticut makes the NCAA tournament, it might look at Napier’s shot as the one that put them there.

Win to brag about: Mississippi Valley State clinched the SWAC regular-season championship in the best way possible – on a 3-pointer with under a second left by 6-foot-8 big Paul Crosby. The shot gave the Delta Devils a 56-53 win over Texas Southern, and also improved them to 15-0 in conference play. Remember, this is a team that was 1-11 in the non-league. Quite the turnaround for Sean Woods’ club.

Loss to hide from: Texas needed this one. The Longhorns, coming off a loss to Oklahoma State over the weekend, had a chance to solidify their resume with a home win over a reeling Baylor club. After getting off to a double-digit lead, they let the Bears come back on the glass – and on the scoreboard. Baylor pulled it out late, 77-72, after J’Covan Brown turned it over in the final minute. Texas’ NCAA hopes are now in trouble, while Baylor is back on the right track. Quincy Acy had 22 points and 16 rebounds for the Bears.

Player who deserves improper benefits: North Florida’s Parker Smith is gunning lately. He’s knocked down at least five 3-pointers in four of his last six games – but nothing topped his performance on Monday. The Ospreys’ guard went 11-for-17 from behind the arc – and also knocked down 9-for-9 from the free-throw line – en route to 46 points in a 75-66 win over Mercer. The loss for the Bears is their second in a row, dropping them two games behind first-place Belmont.

Player(s) who does not deserve improper benefits: There weren't too many disappointing performances tonight, although a couple caught my eye. DePaul's Jamee Crocket had taken 82 3-pointers the entire season heading into Monday night; that's slightly over three attempts per game. For some reason, he took 11 shots from behind the arc against St. John's, only making one in the loss. Meanwhile, even though Baylor won, Perry Jones struggled once again. He shot 3-for-11 from the field -- he still needs to step up in big games.

Numbers don’t lie:

  • 0: The number of Atlantic Sun wins Kennesaw State has this season, after falling just short, 73-71.
  • 0: The number of MEAC wins South Carolina State has this season, after the Bulldogs lost by one to Florida A&M.
  • 5: Delaware State has now had five games in a row decided by either one possession or in overtime. The Hornets won Monday in double overtime over Hampton.

Three other notable results:

  1. St. John’s is now in 11th place in the Big East after beating DePaul by seven. Given what the Red Storm have been through, that’s an accomplishment.
  2. It looks like Belmont will win the Atlantic Sun, after defeating USC Upstate, 88-79. The Bruins are now up by two games on Mercer with just two games left.
  3. Savannah State took a full game lead in the MEAC standings by demolishing Bethune-Cookman, who entered Monday only one game back of first.

Notes:

  • Look out for Fairfield in the MAAC tournament. The Stags won their seventh straight league game by beating Marist on the road.
  • Kyle O’Quinn struggled offensively, but still grabbed 16 rebounds as Norfolk State picked up an easy win over Longwood.
  • Southern looks likely to finish second in the SWAC after improving to 11-4 on Monday, but the Jaguars are ineligible for the conference tournament and won’t thus be able to take down MVSU.
  • There was a false report claiming that Connecticut head coach Jim Calhoun would return for Saturday’s game against Syracuse. It was denied by school officials. 
More College Basketball coverage
Posted on: February 20, 2012 3:12 pm
 

Marquette proves it has Final Four potential

Jae Crowder's ability to create matchup problems means Marquette will be a difficult opponent come March. (US Presswire)

By Jeff Borzello

No more life on the bubble for Marquette.

The Golden Eagles have lived on or around the bubble for each of the last few seasons, needing to either make a late run in the regular season or overcome a late-season collapse to make the Big Dance.

That won’t be the case this season, as Buzz Williams’ club has won 10 of its last 11 games and is likely to finish either second or third in the Big East standings.

Moreover, it’s looking like the Golden Eagles could be a legitimate threat to reach the Final Four. They don’t have as much size and inside production as some other teams; they don’t have a ton of depth; and they get off to slow starts far too often. With all that said, there are several teams with the chops to make a run to New Orleans this season, and Marquette is one of them.

It starts with the duo of guard Darius Johnson-Odom and forward Jae Crowder. Johnson-Odom is a strong guard who is capable of scoring in multiple ways, while Crowder is one of the most difficult individual matchups in the country. Crowder is the biggest player in the lineup and he’s often undersized, but he makes up for it with his inside-outside ability at the other end.

Marquette has plenty of playmakers on the perimeter. Junior Cadougan is capable of running the offense and getting his teammates open shots, and Todd Mayo creates his own looks and gets to the rim. Vander Blue has really come on strong lately. The key lately has been Jamil Wilson, who stepped up when Davante Gardner was injured. Wilson has averaged 11.6 points and 5.3 rebounds in his last eight games.

Without Gardner – and Chris Otule, who was injured earlier in the season – Marquette has had to play undersized during its recent stretch. The Golden Eagles’ defensive rebounding has been about the same, though, and that’s the team’s biggest weakness.

They more than make up for it at the other end of the floor. With at least four guys who can hit the 3-point shot on the court at once, Marquette creates an enormous number of matchup problems. The Golden Eagles love to force turnovers and push the ball, and there aren’t many teams that can keep up with them. In a halfcourt setting, they know how to get into the lane and either finish at the rim or draw fouls.

Only Kentucky and Syracuse have shown enough consistency to be considered favorites to reach the Final Four, and there are a dozen teams capable of making a run to New Orleans. With the way Marquette is playing lately, the Golden Eagles are now part of that group.

It’s certainly better than the bubble.

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: February 18, 2012 10:41 pm
Edited on: February 18, 2012 11:59 pm
 

Georgetown's young kids what makes Hoyas tick

By Jeff Goodman

PROVIDENCE - John Thompson III enjoys going under the radar. 

"You don't need to write anything," JT3 said after his Georgetown Hoyas won their 20th game of the season, a 63-53 victory at Providence on Saturday night. 

But this is a team worthy of more ink than it has received throughout a campaign that has taken it from 10th in the Big East preseason poll to one that has risen all the way to 10th in the nation. There's the veteran, Jason Clark. The breakout player, Henry Sims. The scorer, Hollis Thompson. But the freshmen have been as critical to this team's success as anything else. 

"They've been as refreshing as hell," JT3 said. "They're just about winning. They aren't worried about their minutes or how many shots they get. Just how they can help the team win." 

Clark admitted this isn't a team that will blow you away in terms of pure talent. There may not be a first-round draft pick on the entire roster, but they do it in a similar way as Syracuse: Power in numbers. 

The veterans carry the load and the young kids don't just accept their roles. They thrive in them. 

JT3 has had the identical starting lineup in 24 of the 25 games this season and the lone time he altered it was when starting point guard Markel Starks wasn't available. 

There's Otto Porter, the kid from Missouri who didn't play AAU ball. He leads the team in rebounding. Then there's the versatile 6-foot-8 forward Greg Whittington from nearby Columbia, Md.,, 6-foot-5 guard Jabril Trawick out of Philly and ex-DeMatha big man Mikael Hopkins. 

"They don't play like freshmen," Hoyas sophomore Nate Lubick said. "Or act like freshmen." 

"It's not forced or fake," JT3 added. "And it's contagious." 

This is a Georgetown team that has bowed out in the first round each of the last two seasons, but that was with Chris Wright and Austin Freeman as the vets. Freeman was too quiet to lead and while Wright had made progress, his focus was still too much on himself and his numbers. 

Now Clark is the leader -- and he's always been a guy who has accepted being in the shadows. 

"We don't care about who's going to score points," Clark said. "The chemistry is much better than it has been the last few years." 

The Hoyas won their 10th Big East contest on Saturday night. They have won at Louisville, against Marquette and UConn -- and beaten Memphis twice and also knocked off Alabama in Tuscaloosa back when the Crimson Tide had a complete team. 

Georgetown shares the basketball. The Hoyas rebound -- and they guard. 

Providence made just 4-of-28 shots from the field in the first 20 minutes and wound up shooting below 26 percent in the loss. Teams are shooting 38.8 percent from the field against the Hoyas this season and 28 percent from beyond the arc. 

This was supposed to be a rebuilding year in the eyes of many. Instead, Georgetown sits just a game out of second place in the Big East. 

"It's still too early to start worrying about getting pub or attention," JT3 said. 

Too early? That may have been the case in early-January after a 3-0 league start, but not now with just four regular-season contests left in the season. 


Category: NCAAB
Posted on: February 18, 2012 5:41 pm
Edited on: February 19, 2012 12:39 am
 

Night Court: Bubbles, upsets & BracketBusters



By Jeff Borzello and Matt Norlander

We broke down every bubble game as the day went on, over at the Poppin' Bubbles page. For all the analysis and ramifications of the bubble's winners and losers, check it there. We'll recap all the non-bubble things here. 

Game of the Night: Everyone knew that Long Beach State vs. Creighton would be filled with plenty of offense and two teams that really wanted to prove themselves on national television. It certainly didn't disappoint -- what a game. LBSU was in control for most of the game, leading by as many as 10 points in the second half. However, Doug McDermott and Creighton kept coming and kept coming. A missed layup by Casper Ware and a turnover allowed Creighton to get the last shot. Antoine Young took advantage, and -- well, I'll let the video above tell the rest of the story. 

Game of the Night, Vol. 2:
Dayton. Xavier. City rivals. Both desperate for a bubble win. The game lived up to the drama, with the two teams going back and forth for 40 minutes -- and then an extra five after Dayton's Kevin Dillard made a layup with 1.2 seconds left to tie the game. Tu Holloway controlled the overtime, reverting to the clutch form he showed during Xavier's 8-0 start to the season. If he continues to play like that, might the Musketeers regain their magic? 

Game of the Day: 
Kansas State, perhaps you’ll no longer be underrated. That was the case at the mock selection meetings this week in Indianapolis. The Wildcats were placed into the 8/9 game, and now they’re certainly on the seven line at worst after beating Baylor 57-56 in Waco.

New Mexico, best of the West?: New Mexico, I’ve praised you in recent Power Pyramids, and now I’m fully in love with what the Lobos are capable of. They didn't mess around against UNLV, winning at home 65-45 and taking full control of the Mountain West chase. I've seen a lot of people mention the fact they liked New Mexico at the start of the season. I actually didn't. I came around on them soon, but didn't think they'd be this good. UNLV's a really nice team; the Lobos made them look like Air Force this afternoon at The Pit. 

Michigan, darkhorse Big Ten contender?: With Michigan beating Ohio State at home on Saturday night, the Wolverines could be a potential sleeper in the Big Ten title race. They are only a half-game back of Michigan State in the standings, and are now tied with Ohio State for second place. They also don't play any of the contenders the rest of the way. 

Murray State shows out: Saint Mary's has now lost three of its last four, but Murray State dominated the Gaels from the opening tip and showed that it's still a threat to win at least a game or two in the NCAA tournament. The Racers played tremendous defense all night, and got timely baskets from Isaiah Canaan and Donte Poole. 

Rough day for Conference-USAUTEP gets its first road win of the season. Where does it come? FedEx Forum. Memphis sticks a hot dagger right into its foot with a 60-58 loss to the .500 Miners. Conference USA can be a two-bid league, but only if Memphis takes the auto bid and Southern Miss keeps winning until the semis or finals of the conference championship game. No time for duds for Josh Pastner’s team, especially at home against middling foes. That wasn't the only problem for the league. Southern Miss went into Houston and dropped one to the Cougars. Now there's very little separation at the top of the standings -- and that could limit the number of bids from the league.

No soup for you, personally: Perry Jones III. Had four points, four rebounds and fouled out. I’ve recently talked to a few former players who think PJ3 is the real deal. He isn’t showing it, and I’ve never actually seen it. This isn’t just Scott Drew, either (plenty want to criticize his coaching of this talented team). Jones lacks semblance of urgency, anger and pride on the floor. He seems likely to be a big factor in costing Baylor a game in March.

Saturday all-stars

  1. Wichita State is the truth and Joe Ragland is among the best “mid-major” players in the country. The guard who’s shorter than half the guys in your social circle is one of the most efficient shooters in the nation. He put up 30 and seven rebounds in a 91-74 road win against a more-than-decent Davidson team. Shockers were a four seed in the mock selection process. They can easily get that if they win the Valley tournament.
  2. Drew Gordon had 27 points and 20 rebounds, officially. (One UNLV beat writer is shooting down that 20-boards stat). For as much as I’ve been pushing UNM this season, I’ve said they won’t go next level until Gordon plays to his talent. He did that today. UNLV was playing in mud and Gordon did what he wanted. Can be a difference-maker in the tournament, certainly.
  3. Nate Wolters led South Dakota State to a BracketBusters beatdown on Buffalo, taking out the Bulls 86-65. Wolters had 22 points, eight assists and six rebounds. #NatersGonnaNate
  4. Jae Crowder with 29 points and 12 rebounds for Marquette in its 79-64 road win at UConn. It’s always been Crowder, not Darius Johnson-Odom, who’s been the most critical piece for the Golden Eagles the past two years.
  5. Keiton Page dropped 40 points in Oklahoma State's win over Texas.
  6. St. Bonaventure's Andrew Nicholson went for 32 points and 13 boards, continuing his dominance outside the nation's watchful eye.
  7. South Dakota's Louie Krogman lost, but 37 points and six assists? Not too bad.

Other action worth your attention

  1. San Diego State lost its second in a row, stumbling on the road at Air Force. Xavier Thames' 3-pointer hit the front rim at the buzzer, and now the Aztecs are out of the Mountain West title hunt.
  2. It was almost pretty bad, and certainly a seed line sacrifice for Louisville in Chicago this afternoon. The Cardinals needed overtime — and were sort of luck to get there — to take out DePaul, 90-82. my attention, which isn’t the case with 90 percent of tilts involving ACC teams this year.  
  3. I think one of the two most important wins of the day came in Seattle. Washington earned a season sweep of Arizona, definitively putting UW over U of A when it comes to whether or not either deserves an at-large. (And as of now, I’d say neither.) However, the 79-70 win for the Puppies was one of the best for Lorenzo Romar, as he had 25 come from Terrence Ross and 22 come from Tony Wroten, Jr. Washington can be fun to watch—but they’ve been like this for years, now. Fun, inconsistent. Loves to run, stumbles over itself.
  4. Tennessee’s not that good, but boy was that a big win for Alabama to just stop the bleeding and beat the Vols in Tuscaloosa.
  5. Mercer lost its share of the Atlantic Sun title, Bucknell lost its second straight game in the Patriot, and Harvard grabbed control of the Ivy League. Mississippi Valley State also improved to 14-0 in the SWAC, while Middle Tennessee continued to cruise.
  6. Texas-Arlington ended its 16-game winning streak with a loss at Damian Lillard and Weber State.
  7. What a comeback by Notre Dame. Down by 20 points, the Fighting Irish stormed back against Villanova and won in overtime. Pat Connaughton had 21 points, and Jack Cooley continued his surprising dominance with 18 points and 13 boards.
  8. Iona simply outran Nevada in the second half. The Gaels forced the Wolf Pack to play too fast and made them turn the ball over left and right.
  9. Gonzaga lost to San Francisco for the third consecutive season, as Rashad Green hit a runner with less than three seconds left. Saint Mary's still has control of the WCC standings.
  10. Georgetown beat Providence. Goodman has his reaction to the game.
Delightful (and not-so delightful) thoughts
  • If you think we missed any of the bubble talk, just go to Poppin' Bubbles. Everything is over there.
  • If you want UConn thoughts, we touched on that earlier today.
  • Iowa State is going to coast through the backdoor into the tournament, FYI. The Cylcones won 80-69 over Oklahoma today. The resume keeps getting more cushion. Mildly concerning was Royce White only scoring four points. A lot of variance in his game.
  • Drexel starting to feel like a CAA team on a huge come, but the 69-49 win at Cleveland State was also about the Vikings having the floor fall through their season yet again.
  • Tiny thought. One seeds don’t lose in conference on the road against bad teams. Missouri 71, Texas A&M 62. Kansas kept pace, by steamrolling Texas Tech on the road.
Oh, and the video below is maybe the best buzzer-beater of the day: Pacific's Trevin Harris knocking down a 3 to beat Idaho State. (h/t @bigskybball

Posted on: February 18, 2012 2:19 pm
Edited on: February 18, 2012 2:55 pm
 

Ready to throw in the towel with UConn Huskies

Connecticut missed out on a chance to get a marquee win today against Marquette. (US Presswire)

By Jeff Goodman

OK, I'm finally ready to give up on the UConn Huskies. It took me longer than most after watching the program rise from the dead a year ago and reel off 11 consecutive games to win the Big East tourney and national title. 

The Huskies' proverbial backs were against the wall on Saturday afternoon. Their 69-year-old coach, Jim Calhoun, remained on a medical leave of absence with a serious back injury.  

If there was ever a time to come out with a sense of urgency, this was it. Yet UConn came out flat, looked disinterested in the first half -- and it cost the Huskies yet again. 

This is a team that was picked in everyone's Preseason Top 10 -- even without Kemba Walker. The Huskies won it all and returned Jeremy Lamb, Alex Oriakhi, Shabazz Napier, Roscoe Smith and Tyler Olander from last year's improbable national championship team. 

Then Calboun added one of the nation's top recruiting classes in Andre Drummond, DeAndre Daniels and Ryan Boatright. 

All the talk revolves around the lack of leadership -- and much of it is valid. Lamb and Drummond are too quiet, Oriakhi didn't play enough to be a viable candidate  and Napier just isn't ready to assume that role. But there are plenty of far less talented teams without great leaders who enjoy more success than this year's UConn team, one that has now fallen to 16-10 overall and 6-8 in Big East play. 

This team doesn't play smart. This team doesn't play together. They don't play with heart or intensity. 

They were outrebounded by a Marquette team that was without its top two post plays on Saturday on their own court. 

Now, with just four games remaining in the regular-season, the Huskies will have to reel off three of four to finish at .500 in conference play. The slate starts at Villanova, home against Syracuse, at Providence and concludes with a home contest against Pittsburgh. 

They all appear, on paper, to be winnable games. They also appear, on paper, to be losable ones for this group. 

I'd be more shocked if they went 4-0 than 0-4. 

No one knows when -- or even if -- Calhoun will return. I'm not sure it matters with this group. Lamb and Drummond -- two likely lottery picks -- look as though they are out for a walk in the park at times rather than playing Big East basketball. Boatright may be talented, but he appears more interested in getting his own numbers than winning ballgames. Oriakhi's confidence is like a see-saw after Calhoun tossed him in the doghouse early this year. Smith and Daniels have no understanding of their roles and we're nearing the end of the season. 

There's no shame in losing to a Marquette team that is in second place and within striking distance of Syracuse in the Big East standings -- even in Hartford. 

But what was shameful was the effort this UConn team displayed for much of the contest, the lack of fight and intensity. 

The Huskies miss Kemba and Calhoun, but more than anyone thing they miss a sense of toughness, intensity and pride. 

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