Tag:Jeff Goodman
Posted on: February 14, 2012 9:41 am
 

My favorite irrational UK fan returns tonight

By Jeff Goodman

He may be the most level-headed Kentucky fan out there. I know, that's the ultimate oxymoron. 

In all seriousness, if Ashley Judd is UK's No. 1 fan, then No. 2 could be a dead heat between Josh Hopkins or maybe World Wide Wes. 

Hopkins is a Lexington native who co-stars with Courtney Cox in the show Cougar Town, which makes its Season 3 debut tonight (the show changed from Wednesday's to Tuesday's) at 8:30 p.m. on ABC. I'm not shy in admitting I was a huge fan of the sarcastic comedy filled with one-liners well before I first spoke to him shortly after Kentucky's win over North Carolina earlier this season. 

"It's a really poorly named show," Hopkins said from New York City on Monday night. "There are no cougars in it. People think it's about some 40-year-old looking for young man when it's actually about a bunch of friends who drink wine and make fun of each other." 

The 41-year-old Hopkins went to Auburn, but has been a diehard Kentucky fan since he can remember. He's taken in a handful of games this season in-between shooting the 15 episodes they recently completed for the season, plans to go to the SEC tournament in New Orleans and also the Final Four -- as long as his top-ranked 'Cats made it. 

"If 10 is completely irrational on a scale of 1 to 10," Hopkins said. "I'd say I'm a 11." 

"I don't just think about this team all the time," he added. "I'm thinking about next year and even the year after with possibly the Harrison Twins." 

Hopkins talks about the length of this team led by freshman Anthony Davis, the remarkable job John Calipari has done and that Kentucky's coach should receive more consideration for National Coach of the Year honors and how Marquis Teague has made strides as a young point guard after a rough start. However, the most impressive and overlooked aspect to this team is something I've been saying since the summer. 

"I don't know how much the average fan realizes that these are really great kids," Hopkins said. "Not once have we seen Davis block someone's shot and stare them down, get in their face or yell and scream. These are great kids and it makes it so much more fun." 

Hopkins ducked the question when I asked him earlier this year about being linked romantically to Cox, Erin Andrews and Jennifer Aniston. That's yet another reason I'm a big fan: That's not a bad trio. 

"It's a real funny season," Hopkins said. "Tell everyone to watch -- or else I'll be looking for a new job." 

Then he'll have even more time on his hands to obsess about his 'Cats. 

Posted on: February 12, 2012 7:38 pm
 

Updated Top 25 (and one)

By Gary Parrish and Jeff Goodman

The Top 25 (and one) will be updated on the college basketball page shortly.

Here's how it will look ...
  1. Kentucky (25-1)
  2. Syracuse (25-1)
  3. Missouri (23-2)
  4. Duke (21-4)
  5. Michigan State (20-5)
  6. Ohio State (21-4)
  7. North Carolina (21-4)
  8. Kansas (20-5)
  9. Baylor (21-4)
  10. Georgetown (19-5)
  11. Wisconsin (19-6)
  12. UNLV (22-4)
  13. Michigan (19-7)
  14. Marquette (21-5)
  15. Indiana (19-6)
  16. Virginia (19-5)
  17. San Diego State (20-4)
  18. Notre Dame (17-8)
  19. Louisville (20-5)
  20. Florida (19-6)
  21. Murray State (24-1)
  22. Florida State (17-7)
  23. Saint Mary's (23-3)
  24. Gonzaga (20-4)
  25. Wichita State (22-4)
  26. Temple (19-5)

In: Louisville, Gonzaga, Wichita State, Temple

Out: Creighton, Mississippi State, Iowa State, Southern Miss

Posted on: February 10, 2012 2:55 pm
Edited on: February 10, 2012 3:02 pm
 

UConn's waiver to play in '13 NCAA tourney denied

By Jeff Goodman

UConn's waiver request to play in the NCAA tournament next season was denied by the NCAA. 

The school released a statement on Friday, and also said it will appeal the decision to the NCAA Division I Committee on Academic Performance Subcommittee on Appeals.

The waiver was submitted to the NCAA as a result of the UConn men’s basketball team’s poor performance in the Academic Progress Rate (APR). The school also said it would schedule fewer games - a total of 26 - in an effort to focus more on academics. That's four fewer than what is allowed by the NCAA. 

 “We are deeply disappointed that our request for a waiver was denied, but we look forward to continuing in the process,” UConn President Susan Herbst said in the statement. “We continue to believe that we have made a very compelling case in our waiver to the NCAA and we are pleased with the recent outstanding academic success of our men’s basketball student-athletes."


Category: NCAAB
Posted on: February 10, 2012 12:55 pm
Edited on: February 10, 2012 1:04 pm
 

Mark Few isn't going anywhere -- ever

By Jeff Goodman

SPOKANE, Wash. - Now I get it. 

Mark Few's name is seemingly always out there circulating in late-March and throughout April. When Arizona was looking for a coach a couple years ago, Few's name was near the top of the list. Same for Indiana and, of course, Oregon. 

Few isn't going anywhere. Ever. 

Trust me on this one. 

I never quite understood it, but after taking my first trip to Spokane for the Zags' win over Saint Mary's last night, I'll no longer question why Few spurns just everyone. 

Life is good for Few in Spokane. 

No, life is great

He's an outdoors man, a family man, one of the few in this industry who seem to walk the walk and truly put the balance of work and family from words into action. 

"He sees things in a different light than most people," said Gonzaga assistant Ray Giacoletti. "And he has the balance to make it work." 

There's multiple fishing spots an hour away in just about every direction. He wakes up, steps outside his log cabin and looks out into a picturesque view of the valley. 

"The worst day of the year for me is the first day of school," Few said to me a few hours prior to Thursday night's win over the Gaels. "And the best day is the last day of school." 

That's because the 48-year-old Few has a chance to spend more time with his four young children (ages 3 to 12). On Wednesday night, just 24 hours or so before the Zags biggest game of the season, he could be found at his oldest son A.J's trumpet recital. He heads to his favorite lunch spot and no one bothers him as he blends in with all the natives. 

He'll never be confused with Tom Izzo for his unrelenting work ethic, but that doesn't bother him. He's at peace with himself and what he does to keep the program as one of the elite and most consistent in the country. He doesn't have to go out and speak to alumni on a nightly basis like some coaches, but he has helped organize an annual Coaches vs. Cancer event that has raised more than $5 million -- second only to Syracuse. 

Few understands what he has and is more than just content with it. The Zags have one of the elite student sections in the nation, Few is able to take private plans just about everywhere he needs to go out recruiting -- and his team charters just about everywhere as well. 

Few's an icon in these parts, having taken this program to an unparalleled level for a non-BCS outfit. There is the 334-87 overall record. There's been an NCAA appearance every single season he's been at the helm and also that 11-year streak of winning a league title that's in jeopardy with the Zags currently trailing Saint Mary's by one game. 

Those will criticize him for his inability to get to a Final Four, but Few isn't consumed by it. Instead, he beckons back to the consistency for this program, one that has become a fixture in the Top 25 over the past decade or so. 

Few could have gone to Indiana and had an opportunity to play in the Big Ten. He could have gone to Arizona and had a chance to regularly compete for Final Fours. He could have gone back home to Oregon, where he went to school. It's a stone's throw from where his parents reside. 

But he opted to remain in Spokane -- and he's never leaving.

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: February 10, 2012 1:06 am
Edited on: February 10, 2012 1:17 am
 

Gonzaga keeps The Streak alive

By Jeff Goodman

SPOKANE, Wash. - Gonzaga's streak isn't over yet. 

A year ago, the Zags made a late run after trailing Saint Mary's by three games to claim a share of the WCC title. It was the 11th consecutive season that Mark Few's team had sat at the top of the WCC, just two shy of UCLA's record of 13. 

Few and his team got blasted by 21 at Saint Mary's last month and then dropped one a couple weeks ago in Provo to BYU while the Gaels rolled through the league slate, winning their first 11 games. 

A two-game edge with five to play. 

But the 'Zags kept their hopes alive on Thursday night in front of a sold-out crowd at the McCarthey Athletic Center -- and one of the most rabid and entertaining student sections I've ever seen. 

It was freshman point guard Kevin Pangos, who has fallen off the national radar since his nine-trifecta performance against Washington State on Nov. 15, who led the 'Zags to a 73-59 win over Saint Mary's. 

Few was upset that his team didn't play tough against BYU -- and they were manhandled on the road in Moraga. But they came out with plenty of intensity in what was the most important game of the season -- and knocked off a Saint Mary's team that came in with a No. 13 ranking and a 12-game winning streak.

That streak is now history. 

But The Streak remains alive.

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: February 9, 2012 1:54 pm
 

Pitino: Talented frosh Blackshear cleared to play

By Jeff Goodman

Louisville will finally get talented freshman Wayne Blackshear back. 

Cardinals coach Rick Pitino said on SiriusXM's Inside College Basketball that the Chicago native, who has been out all season with various injuries and ailments, could make his college basketball debut on Feb. 18 at DePaul. 

"He's been cleared to play in games," Pitino said. "We're shooting for another week at Depaul, but I don't want to rush him." 

"He's obviously going to be very good down the road and we think he'll make an impact this year, but he won't start for us," Pitino added. "He'll be a factor, though." 

The 6-foot-5 wing was the highest-rated player -- and was the McDonald's All-American Game -- in Pitino's incoming freshman class, one that also included Chane Behanan. 

Blackshear has missed the entire season after suffering a torn labrum in practice prior to the start of the year. 

Posted on: February 8, 2012 4:36 pm
 

Woodall's pain in the butt extends to opposition

By Jeff Goodman

Each game, just about 45 minutes prior to tip-off, Travon Woodall makes certain not to move as the needle is jabbed into his, well, buttocks. It'll happen around 6:15 p.m. tonight before Pittsburgh's junior point guard takes the floor against South Florida. 

"If I move," Pittsburgh's junior point guard laughs. "I have to do it again." 

Woodall isn't 100 percent recovered from the abdominal/groin injury he suffered way back on Nov. 30 and likely won't be full-strength for the remainder of the season. However, his return and presence as the Panthers floor leader has keyed the team's turnaround. 

"I'm nowhere near 100 percent," he said. "But with the needle, I don't feel any pain. The most pain is after the game when it wears off." 

Since he's come back, Jamie Dixon's team has reeled off four of its past five -- including a road win against West Virginia and a home victory over a ranked Georgetown club - to move from 0-7 in Big East play to 4-7. 

"One game at a time," said Woodall, who is honestly one of the best interviews I've done in a long time.

Woodall may not be completely healthy, but he couldn't take sitting and watching his teammates falter any longer. He tried it once, against Notre Dame in late-December, but he was completely ineffective and shut it down again for the next five games. 

With Woodall in the lineup, the Panthers are 10-3. Without him, they are 5-6. And in two of those games - losses against Notre Dame and Louisville, he wasn't even close to 100 percent. 

"Anyone who knows the game of basketball understands how important the point guard is to our team," Woodall said. "If you took Brad Wanamaker off our team last year, it wasn't have been nearly as good. Ashton (Gibbs) is a huge part of our team, but he isn't a true point guard. We needed a true point guard." 

"The point guard is like the quarterback," he added. "I know the Giants wouldn't have won the Super Bowl without Eli (Manning)." 

You've got to love a kid who compares himself (and he wasn't really comparing himself) to the Super Bowl MVP. 

This was supposed to be The Year for Woodall. He has waited his turn for the past three years to take the starting point guard role. He worked out relentlessly with former Pittsburgh floor leader Lavance Fields in the offseason, often three times a day, so he'd be prepared for this opportunity. This is the same guy who accepted his role coming off the bench as a senior for Bob Hurley Sr. at St. Anthony's in favor of Tyshawn Taylor, Mike Rosario, Jio Fontain and Dominic Cheek. 

"I've tried to play my role since I got here," Woodall said. "But this was finally my time." 

However, then came the defensive slide against Duquesne in which he suffered the lower abdominal and groin injury. Woodall sat out the next six games and then tried to come back following a shocking home loss against Wagner. 

"That was just me being frustrated," Woodall said. "I wasn't ready, but I just couldn't sit there and watch any more." 

But the loss to Wagner was just the start of the team's troubles. Pittsburgh dropped its first seven league games and was written off by just about everyone for an NCAA tourney berth. 

Then Woodall came back and everything changed. Next up is tonight's road contest against South Florida -- and a victory would inch the Panthers back into the hunt, especially if those on the NCAA Selection Committee understand the importance Woodall makes to this team. 

"One at a time," Woodall repeated.

Posted on: February 7, 2012 11:19 pm
 

Night Court: KY dominates, Ohio State sneaks by

By Jeff Goodman

(NOTE: We will file a Night Court almost every night this season. Follow @GaryParrishCBS, @GoodmanCBS, @MattNorlander, @JeffBorzello and @EyeOnCBB on Twitter to make sure it gets sent to you as soon as it's posted.)

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

Game of the day: Ohio State and Purdue were tied at 73-all late in the game, but it was Buckeyes senior William Buford who stepped up and made certain his team avoided the upset. Buford had a career-high and also had seven straight points as the Buckeyes pulled away, 81-73. 

Win to brag about: Kentucky came into the game as the No. 1 team in the land, but the Wildcats were still somewhat of a mystery -- especially in SEC play. Well, the Wildcats pummeled No. 7 Florida at Rupp. Anthony Davis was a game-changer on the defensive end, Doron Lamb had 18 and Michael Gilchrist had another double-double. Despite a quiet night from Terrence Jones, the 'Cats blew out the Gators by 20. 

Loss to hide from: Creighton losing its second straight, this time on the road against an Evansville team that entered the game below the .500 mark in Missouri Valley league play. The Bluejays were just 4-of-22 from beyond the arc and fell a half-game behind Wichita State and into second place in the Valley. 

Player who deserves improper benefits: Le'Bryan Nash entered Stillwater as a big-time recruit, but has been erratic throughout his freshman season. However, the Oklahoma State forward knocked down the game-winner against Iowa State with 4.6 seconds left on a step-back 12-footer and then swatted Chris Allen's shot at the buzzer that could have sent it to overtime. The Cowboys aren't headed to the NCAA tournament, but the win got Travis Ford & Co. to 12-12 overall and 5-6 in Big 12 play. 

Player who does not deserve improper benefits: Florida senior point guard Erving Walker was 0-for-7 from the field, missed all four of his shots from beyond the arc and finished with the goose-egg in the Gators 20-point loss in Lexington against top-ranked Kentucky. 

Numbers don’t lie:

6-27: Florida had made more trifectas than any team in the country, but the Gators were off the mark against Kentucky, making just 6-of-27 from deep. 

49: That's Kentucky's home winning streak after the rout over Florida. John Calipari has never tasted defeat at Rupp. 

17: Providence led by that many points at Villanova with less than 13 minutes remaining in the game, but JayVaughn Pinkston went nuts (28 points, 14 boards) for Jay Wright's team -- which came back and pulled out the 74-72 win. 

Other notable results:

Maryland knocked off Clemson, 64-62, behind Terrell Stoglin's 27 points. The Terps improved to 14-9 and 4-5 in ACC play. 

Kansas State pummeled Texas Tech and sent Billy Clyde Gillispie and the Red Raiders to 0-11 in Big 12 play in the process. 

Alabama knocked off Auburn in a key road win for the Crimson Tide -- which improved to 15-7 overall and 5-4 in SEC action. 

Notes:

Memphis appears to be headed to the Big East. That's what our very own Brett McMurphy broke earlier today. 

Former Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl (my co-host on SiriusXM's Inside College Basketball) was courtside for the Florida-Kentucky game. 

Jack Sikma's son, Nate, had 20 points, seven boards and five assists to lead Hartford to a win over UMBC. Sikma is a 6-foot-6 freshman from Washington. 

Villanova star guard Maalik Wayns suffered a left knee injury in the win over Providence and will have an MRI on Wednesday. 

On tap: 

1) Duke at North Carolina, 9 p.m. - If it's not the best rivalry in college hoops, it's No. 2 behind UK-Louisville. The Blue Devils are in danger of losing two straight. 

2) Kansas at Baylor, 7 p.m. - The loser will fall to third place in the Big 12. 

3) Georgetown at Syracuse, 7 p.m. - The Hoyas have been a major surprise in the Big East, but it'll be tough to go into the Carrier Dome and pull out a win -- especially with Fab Melo back for the Orange. 

4) Marshall at Central Florida, 7 p.m. - I hope Tom Herrion is well-protected in this one after what happened the first meeting -- which resulted in a one-point win for the Thundering Herd in Huntington. 

5) Notre Dame at West Virginia, 9 p.m. - Two teams heading in opposite directions The Irish are red-hot while Bob Huggins' team has lost three of its last four. 

6) Pittsburgh at South Florida, 7 p.m. - If the Panthers are to get back into the NCAA tournament picture, they have to win this one. Since Tray Woodall has really been back, they have reeled off four straight. 

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