Posted on: January 4, 2012 9:15 am
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Posted on: January 3, 2012 9:15 am
By Matt Norlander
Have you ever done anything like this for someone before? // Brilliant idea, but I couldn't make it past Jan. 4 without ruining my year. // "What May Happen in the Next 100 Years" -- from 1900. // I'd absolutely embed this amazingly snarky, tongue-in-cheek Iowa video if not for the NSFW language. Click and laugh. // Football recruits can be just as high-maintenance as hoops ones ...
★ Last night was the first SEC road win for Virginia in program history.
★ Ken Pomeroy predictably gave a follow-up to my bad-offense piece and went so beyond what I was getting at. It's embarrassing how heartily I agree with his solutions.
★ UConn goes to Seton Hall tonight. Better game than most expected a month ago. The Drummond-doesn't-know-Herb-Pope is a non-issue, though.
★ Seth Davis' annual stock report is such a dense read. I can't recommend it enough, though.
★ Dayton losing Josh Benson is problematic for the Flyers.
★ I don't know if the Valley can get four bids, but it's getting three. I'm extraordinarily confident this will happen.
★ Ivan Aska, a valuable senior forward for Murray State, has a fractured fourth-metacarpal. Undefeated run coming to an end this week?
★ Tony Wroten has already done nice things. Later this year, he will do big things.
★ Doug Gottlieb has reached the point in the season where he's angering fan bases. I genuinely love when this happens. Please tell me Syracuse is on the hit list again this year.
★ That's just wrong!
★ One of the most underrated wins you'll see this week came in Athens, Ohio, last night. And they won despite 31 turnovers. Amazing.
★ Looking for another type of team ranking? Got one for you.
★ I've got a funky feeling this one will be close tonight.
► Some dude on Twitter was tweeting this video out to every person associated with college basketball media. So here you go, man. Elijah Johnson does something done on practice courts every day.
♬ If you don't know Umphrey's McGee, you don't know the best "improg" group out there. "Cemetary Walk" gets very Floydish at the 28-second mark, then bumps out of that about 15 seconds later. One of their better tunes. And just a supremely competent live band. If you like Widespread Panic, Phish, Disco Biscuits and moe., you either know of or are already into these guys, who hail from South Bend, Ind.
Posted on: January 2, 2012 4:41 pm
Edited on: January 2, 2012 5:16 pm
It wasn’t too difficult not to be a believer in Michigan State before the season.
The Spartans didn’t have a proven point guard, a go-to wing scorer, multiple consistent options offensively and also had little Big Ten experience outside of Draymond Green and maybe Derrick Nix. The concerns weren’t exactly alleviated after Michigan State’s first two games, a 12-point defeat to North Carolina in the Carrier Classic and a loss to Duke in Mike Krzyzewski’s record-breaking win.
Count me among those that weren’t sold on the Spartans; I wasn’t even sure they were a lock for the NCAA tournament. Then Michigan State started playing like, well, Michigan State.
The Spartans have won 13 straight games since the opening two losses. They have allowed more than 69 points just once, a nine-point win over Lehigh. Michigan State defeated Florida State by 16, won at Gonzaga and also showed plenty of toughness by beating Indiana last week by 15.
“I’m definitely happy where we’re at,” Draymond Green told our RapidReporter Dana Gauruder in December. “One thing we said is we want to improve every night.”
That is certainly the case with this year’s version of Michigan State. In what looks to be a wide-open Big Ten – while I still think Ohio State is the favorite, is that even a guarantee anymore? – the Spartans have as good of a chance as anyone to make a run in the conference.
The lesson, as always: don’t doubt Tom Izzo.
Izzo has done a tremendous job with this roster.
First, he’s helped turn Keith Appling, a big-time scorer in high school, into one of the most improved point guards in the conference. Appling is averaging 19.3 points and 5.0 assists in his last three games, including a 25-point, six-rebound, seven-assist performance against Indiana last week.
Michigan State doesn’t have a lot of shooters; only backup point guard Travis Trice shoots better than 36.5 percent from 3-point range. Yet the Spartans average nearly 77 points a game and rank No. 19 in the country in offensive efficiency.
The Spartans received no consistency from the big men on their roster last year. This year, Derrick Nix and Adreian Payne are combining to average 15.1 points and 8.9 rebounds on the inside. Michigan State is one of the best rebounding teams in the country and are also among the nation’s leaders in block percentage.
And Michigan State is still playing defense. It ranks No. 8 in the country in defensive efficiency and No. 16 in the country in field-goal percentage defense, holding teams to below 38 percent from the field.
Green has developed into one of the best players in the country, while Valparaiso transfer Brandon Wood has transitioned well from the Horizon to the Big Ten. Branden Dawson is playing very well as a freshman, and Trice has provided a spark at key times. Even walk-on Austin Thornton has been a rotation regular.
Do we know exactly how good Michigan State is right now? Probably not, but we’ll know more after Tuesday’s road game at Wisconsin.
One thing is certain, though: Michigan State is a lot better than anyone thought as few as six weeks ago.
Photo: US Presswire
Posted on: January 2, 2012 1:30 pm
Edited on: January 2, 2012 4:38 pm
By Matt Norlander
Here they are, some of the best stories captured through picture in the final month of 2011.
Carmelo Anthony attends Florida-Syracuse and reminds most in attendance that he is their God. (US PRESSWIRE)
Well, well ... who's that misunderstood rapscallion with the tan jacket and laptop cracked open? Looks like an earnest, eager young fella just dying to ask Jim Boeheim if he's sorry. (AP/Kevin Rivoli)
Jim Boeheim is sorry: confirmed. (US PRESSWIRE)
Anthony Davis blocks John Henson to give UK a win over UNC. Davis' home planet has still not been disclosed by Kentucky sports infromation. (AP/The News & Observer, Robert Willett)
Jae Crowder, right, and Vander Blue celebrate defeating the Washington Huskies during the Jimmy V Men's Basketball Classic on Dec. 6. It was a great game. (Nick Laham/Getty Images)
Kevin Dillard implores grumpy man at scorer's table for massage. (Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Kansas players high five the crowd after the Jayhawks defeated Ohio State on Dec. 10. (Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Just an unbelievable photo. I've heard the Jayhawk can be hired to creep out exes who can't let go. (Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Kansas Jayhawk fans cheer at Allen Fieldhouse. (Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Elon's Kevin Blake gets perpendicular. (Elon athletics)
Billy Donovan's face really tells the story of pride that comes with winning the Orange Bowl Basketball Classic. (Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)
Indiana's Victor Oladipo goes in for a dunk against Stetson. Love the arm jolting into the frame. (AP/Darron Cummings)
Dick Vitale thanks the heavens Digger Phelps left him alone on Dec. 5, when he was honored at the University of Detroit. (AP/Carlos Osorio)
Vitale is shown with some of his players during an unveiling of a basketball court in his honor at Calihan Hall. (AP/Carlos Osorio)
Cincinnati forward Yancy Gates, right, punches Xavier guard Landen Amos. What shot. (AP/Al Behrman)
Kenny Frease gets out of the scrum while Cincy and Xavier players continue to disgrace the sport. (US PRESSWIRE)
Frease is unexplainably triumphant. Xavier coach Chris Mack looks unapprovingly in the background. (Frank Victores/US PRESSWIRE)
The split second after Christian Watford's shot fell through at the buzzer, giving IU what was then thought to be an incredible upset. We've since learned Indiana will be winning the 2012 national title. (US PRESSWIRE)
If I were an Indiana fan, I get thee to Kinko's and blow this up to three feet by six feet. Then I frame it. (Brian Spurlock/US PRESSWIRE)
Watford (2) celebrates with teammates, from left, Will Sheehey, Verdell Jones III and Victor Oladipo. (AP/Darron Cummings)
How can I not take advantage of a good fish-eye shot? (US PRESSWIRE)
Baylor quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III stands by his niece, Jania Hope Moten-Griffin during a ceremony honoring Griffin at halftime of the Bethune-Cookman game. I hope the Bears draft RG3. (AP/Tony Gutierrez)
Missouri's Phil Pressey gets his fingers above a coral of others, saving the ball in the process. Meanwhile, Bill Simmons doppelganger continues to call game on radio. (AP/L.G. Patterson)
OH MY GOD JEFF WITHEY WILL KILL A M-----------. (Nick Krug/Lawrence Journal-World)
Thomas Robinson puts one up for two; Long Beach State's Edis Dervisevic simultaneously remembers he locked his keys in his car. (Nick Krug/Lawrence Journal-World)
Now we know how Mike Hopkins (left), Baye Keita (middle) and Jim Boeheim would react when placed in front of a Dallas Cowboys game on television. (US PRESSWIRE)
Kevin Stallings reacts to hearing that Gary Parrish thinks highly of his team. (US PRESSWIRE)
Like last March, Kentucky beats North Carolina. (US PRESSWIRE)
Ryan Boatright spots the pep band member who just won't stop staring him down. (US PRESSWIRE)
Tu Holloway: tortured soul, gangsta. (US PRESSWIRE)
Xavier's Mark Lyons and Purdue's Lewis Jackson fight like toy soldiers while going after the orange. (Getty Images)
Somebody help out Sean Miller here. This is getting awkward. (US PRESSWIRE)
How can you love this? (US PRESSWIRE)
How can you not love THIS! (US PRESSWIRE)
You can spend five minutes analyzing the reaction shots from Oral Roberts' win after the most unlikely buzzer-beater of the season. (US PRESSWIRE)
Deft. (US PRESSWIRE)
"Seriously, man? We're trying to watch a game here." The guy in the brown jacket, to the right, wins this photo. In second is everyone else pictured completely ignoring the 200-pound body entering their lives. In last place is Phil Martelli, not pictured, who still hasn't released Todd O'Brien to play at UAB. (US PRESSWIRE)
Without photogs, we miss out on things like this. (US PRESSWIRE)
I'm a huge sucker for photos that look like paintings. I'd love this one framed. (US PRESSWIRE)
Jeffery Taylor, no one will ever take a better picture of you playing basketball. (US PRESSWIRE)
Ryan Willen can't will the ball from going out of bounds. (US PRESSWIRE)
John Calipari is caught in mid-thought, presumably remembering how DeMarcus Cousins aged him four years. (US PRESSWIRE)
I now know more about Jeremy Lamb than I ever wanted. (Kim Klement/US PRESSWIRE)
No snark here. Enjoy it while you can, kid. (US PRESSWIRE)
Rick Barnes will resemble RoboCop by Selection Sunday. (US PRESSWIRE)
That's levitation, Holmes. Sam Thompson dunks against Indiana on New Year's Eve. (Brian Spurlock/US PRESSWIRE)
Posted on: January 2, 2012 9:29 am
One final look-back at 2011: the 10 most powerful front pages. // We are putting iPads in the hands of monkeys. // Did you miss this? Sneaky and scary that this bill was passed. If only the public could actually have it repealed. // Nobody panic, but a bunch of birds died from the sky again ...
★ Rutgers, that's a bad look, losing to South Florida after getting over on Florida last week. Consistency, etc.
★ Top 25 and One is up. See how we can tick you off.
★ Leftover stats to consider from Kentucky's win Saturday.
★ North Dakota is now without a nickname. The whole thing is dumb, NCAA. Just dumb. And I guess UND is without a moniker until 2015? If it's slow, post on this could be coming today.
★ The pay-the-players argument continues to fascinate me. I know a lot of folks get tired of it, but I don't -- and I don't think it's going away or quieting down.
★ When headline writers get obvious and lazy. The Towson story intrigues me -- most grand losing streaks and bad teams do.
★ Stupid-nice dunk from the Ohio State-Indiana game.
★ Now this is a diamond-in-the-rough stat. I'd love to investigate further.
★ Where will Khem Birch be visiting this week?
★ Billy Donovan says his team's home game against Yale was the first time Mike Rosario didn't scare him, defensively.
★ Very sad: 37-year-old high school coach in Jersey died after collapsing during a game last week.
★ It's not often Duke goes dark, but the Devils have been quiet for almost a month now.
★ From the best X/O source you could ask for, part of why Indiana's been so good this year.
► All my thanks to Tim Ryan for passing this along on Twitter. Not hoops-related, but how can I not share? It's just ... so ... not of this world? Are we sure this isn't a parallel universe?
♬ The first music rec of 2012: I wish we'd gotten more memorable material out of the D. Perhaps Tenacious D has something epic still up their sleeve, but its eponymous album, now more than a decade old, waits to be topped. Wonderboyyyyy ...
Posted on: January 1, 2012 10:14 am
By Jeff Goodman
First it was Kentucky. Now Ohio State.
It's about time we start taking Indiana seriously.
When I made a stop in Bloomington back in October, I knew this was a team that was set to improve upon the last struggles of the past few years. Will Sheehey had made a serious jump from his freshman season and Tom Crean added the most significant recruit in his tenure - talented freshman big man Cody Zeller.
But I didn't see this coming.
No one did.
Hoosier Hysteria is officially back. I was still cautious, even after the win over Kentucky three weeks ago, not quite ready to declare the Hoosiers a lock to make the NCAA tournament. Could a program that had won just eight league games over Crean's first three seasons in Bloomington turn it around so quickly in Big Ten play?
There was the opener at the Breslin Center in East Lansing against Michigan State. Although the Hoosiers lost, they did it in impressive fashion. They took an early punch from the Spartans before delivering one of their own. Yes, they wound up leaving 0-1 in conference play, but this group showed it was mentally resilient.
There are those who still want to see if this group can sustain this throughout Big Ten play, especially on the road, but as long as Crean & Co. win six more games in the league, Indiana is a lock to make the NCAA tourney.
It sure looks as though I was wrong in my prediction this team would be headed to an NIT berth.
Fans aren't the only ones that can relax that this program is headed in the right direction, either. Crean can finally relax. His future as IU's coach is secure. They'll be no more Brad Stevens-to-Bloomington thoughts around these parts.
I questioned the backcourt of Jordan Hulls and Verdell Jones. I questioned whether Christian Watford was consistent enough. I questioned the depth after the Hoosiers lost Mo Creek. Well, Indiana is 13-1 with wins over two of the elite teams in America.
Sure, there will be excuses from some. The two wins were in front of raucous crowds in Bloomington. Terrence Jones didn't show up in the UK game and Ohio State was plagued by foul trouble on Saturday. Well, Indiana was without Sheehey against the Buckeyes.
The bottom line here is that Indiana has earned a spot in the top half of the Top 25 - and it's only going to get better in Bloomington.
Posted on: December 31, 2011 3:31 pm
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Posted on: December 31, 2011 3:30 pm
Kentucky vs. Louisville occupied most of the college basketball world’s attention during the early part of Saturday afternoon, but it was another result that caught everyone’s eyes.
Wisconsin lost. At home. To Iowa.
You read that right. For the first time since Bo Ryan took over at Wisconsin, the Badgers lost a home conference opener. The Badgers are normally unbeatable at home, but they fell 72-65 to a 9-6 Iowa team that lost by 16 at home to Campbell earlier this season.
Wisconsin shot just 35 percent from the field, including 3-for-28 from 3-point range. Jordan Taylor was 7-for-19 shooting the ball. The most surprising part about the game was Wisconsin’s defense, or lack thereof. Iowa shot 49.2 percent from the field and outrebounded the Badgers.
Heading into Saturday, Wisconsin had the nation’s best defensive efficiency and ranked No. 13 in defensive rebounding percentage, only allowing second chances on 25.7 percent of possessions. Yet Iowa grabbed 37 percent of its misses and scored 1.09 points per possessions. The Badgers were allowing fewer than 0.79 PPP going into the game.
It’s not time to write Wisconsin off or anything like that. After all, it’s still 2011 and no one ever wants to see a Bo Ryan-coached team line up across the court from them. However, when the Badgers’ defense isn’t extremely effective, they really struggle to win. All three of Wisconsin’s losses came in its three worst defensive games of the season, and the Badgers simply don’t have the firepower offensively to make up for it.
Jordan Taylor has received more defensive attention this season, and he has struggled to adapt at times. He also isn’t getting consistent help. Tonight, Ben Brust and Jared Berggren combined to shoot 10-for-30 from the field, including 1-for-14 from 3-point range.
As for Iowa, it goes without saying that this is a huge win. The Hawkeyes came close to knocking off Purdue during the week, but they got over the hump on Saturday. Melsahn Basabe had 14 points and nine rebounds, while Bryce Cartwright and Aaron White combined for 35 points off the bench. Roy Devyn Marble came up big down the stretch, hitting a couple of important jumpers.
This game further muddles the Big Ten pecking order. Who is the second-best team in the league, after Ohio State?
After Saturday, it’s tough to say Wisconsin.
Photo: US Presswire