Posted on: February 12, 2009 10:19 pm
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Posted on: February 11, 2009 3:12 pm
Edited on: February 11, 2009 4:15 pm
Here's Wednesday's Dear Gary ...
Dear Gary: Although I agree that the Big East is a good conference, to constantly hear about how it eclipses every other conference is a crock of Notre Dame. UCLA beat Notre Dame by 29 points, and -- since I just checked the record -- NO BIG EAST SCHOOL BEAT NOTRE DAME BY A LARGER MARGIN OR EVEN CAME CLOSE. ... I am neither a Pac 10 fan or a Big East fan, but numbers are numbers. ... The situation with the Big East reminds me of last year's ACC hoopla. Everyone said the ACC couldn't be touched, but by the Sweet 16, the chaff had blown away, which left only the TOP of most of the conferences. Doesn't that lead us to believe that in fact to continually tout one conference as "Supreme" is not only unfair but absolutely untrue. Parity is parity. With respect, (I continually read your column).
I think you make a lot of sense here, Lindsay.
But let me say this: When people talk about how "tough" the Big East is, or whatever, I don't sense anybody is pretending the league has teams that cannot be touched. Rather, I think the point is simply that the Big East -- and this is debatable now, I know --has more good teams than the other leagues, and that's it. I'm sure everybody still understands the best teams in the other leagues -- UCLA in the Pac-10, Oklahoma in the Big 12, North Carolina in the ACC, etc. -- are every bit as good as the best teams in the Big East. And using that theory as a guide, what should happen in any NCAA tournament is that the fourth, fifth and sixth teams from the Big East should start to disappear as we move forward, leaving only the best one or two (or maybe even three) along with representatives from the Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-10, SEC, ACC and a few non-BCS leagues, too.
That's the nature of the tournament.
That's usually how it goes.
But, to me, that doesn't mean that playing a tough Big East schedule isn't the scariest thing in college basketball, because I believe the Big East schedule is primarily responsible for destroying what were at one time good seasons for Georgetown and Notre Dame, and that if Georgetown and Notre Dame played in the SEC West they'd both be in the Top 25 and by extension safely in the NCAA tournament. But they don't play in the SEC West; they play in the Big East, and that's a tough thing to do these days, even for what should on paper be very good teams.
Posted on: February 7, 2009 5:05 pm
Edited on: February 7, 2009 5:35 pm
Notre Dame endured yet another loss -- a blowout at UCLA -- early Saturday.
Then its day actually got worse.
Because Texas subsequently lost at Nebraska, meaning the Irish's best win in a season that features few hardly qualifies as a good win anymore. Meantime, the only other NCAA tournament-caliber school Notre Dame has topped (Georgetown) also lost Saturday (to Cincinnati). And when you combine all these developments and sort through the mess the only reasonable conclusion to reach is that Luke Harangody isn't going to play in the NCAA tournament.
From preseason Top 10 to midseason WTF.
The Irish have now lost seven consecutive games to fall to 12-10, and that they didn't even show up at UCLA might be the biggest concern of all. Faced with a must-win scenario (or at least something close to it), Notre Dame fell behind big early, let UCLA shoot 55.7 percent from the field and eventually lost 89-63. If it sounds bad, that's because it was bad. And with Louisville next on the schedule there's no reason to think the Irish won't be 12-11 heading into next weekend's game against South Florida.
Bottom line, this is almost certainly done.
Even if the Irish win every remaining home game (including the one against Louisville) and split at West Virginia and Providence before losing at Connecticut, they're going to have 13 losses on Selection Sunday unless they somehow win the Big East tournament. Put another way, even the best-case scenario (within reason) has them with 13 losses, and because they won't have the quality wins to offset such a number, this Notre Dame team is set to go down as the biggest disappointment of the season, which is awful because there sure were high hopes back in August.
I remember talking to Mike Brey by phone on a Sunday afternoon last Fall.
It was the weekend before he took his team to Ireland for a preseason tour of exhibitions, and at the time he almost laughed about how ridiculous his schedule would be, though he seemed confident he had a team of veterans capable of handling it. I agreed. But as it turns out, we were both wrong, way more wrong than either of us could've imagined, because now the Irish are sitting here with a 12-10 record, and nobody is laughing anymore.
Posted on: January 19, 2009 3:59 pm
Edited on: January 19, 2009 7:43 pm
Here's Monday's Dear Gary ...
Dear Gary: How can five-loss Notre Dame be ranked in the top 15? There are lots of teams that don't have five losses that should be ahead of the Irish!
That Notre Dame has five losses compared to somebody else having one, two, three or four means nothing, because teams don't play the same schedules. Put another way, Utah State -- to pull a school completely out of the air -- is 17-1, but it wouldn't be if it had played Notre Dame's schedule.
And have you seen Notre Dame's schedule?
The Irish have played ...
(Rankings are from the latest AP poll)
Three of those games were on neutral courts (UNC, Texas and Ohio State), two were on the road (Syracuse and Louisville) and only one was at home (Georgetown). So yeah, the Irish are 12-5 overall. But their body of work, when placed in context, boils down to two great wins (over Texas and Georgetown), three expected losses (to UNC, at Syracuse and at Louisville), one reasonable loss (to Ohio State) and one bad loss (at St. John's). So I'm not sure there are 14 or 15 teams with better bodies of work, because, I ask, how many teams would be better than 12-5 against that schedule?
Beyond that, I'll say this: I didn't hear a bunch of complaints last week when I had Notre Dame ranked 14th with a 12-3 record, and the only thing that changed in the past seven days was that the Irish lost at Louisville (in overtime) and at Syracuse. Should I really penalize a team ranked 14th for doing that? Or is it reasonable for me to expect the 14th-ranked team in the country to lose at those two places?
I think the latter is true.
And that's why Notre Dame is still 14th in the Top 25 (and one).
Posted on: November 30, 2008 3:05 am
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- First Tyler Hansbrough missed games with a stress reaction, and now Luke Harangody will miss games with pneumonia. So that means 40 percent of the CBSSports.com First Team All-Americans have been sidelined less than a month into the season, and is there any doubt that Blake Griffin will scratch a retina at some point next week?
I say no.
And Darren Collison and Stephen Curry had better be careful, too.
Appendicitis is always a possibility.
Anyway, I just got back from Tallahassee, where I watched Florida beat the you-know-what out of Florida State in football. Now I'll take in the final day of the Old Spice Classic here at the Disney Wide World of Sports Complex, and if you're wondering, here's the schedule:
(All times ET)
10:30 am -- Oklahoma State vs. Siena
12:30 pm -- Michigan State vs. Wichita State
5:30 pm -- Georgetown vs. Maryland
7:30 pm -- Tennessee vs. Gonzaga
Posted on: November 27, 2008 2:32 am
Edited on: November 27, 2008 12:56 pm
I know it didn't look that way, not with all the fastbreaks and dunks, but that team North Carolina beat to pieces Wednesday was a legitimate top 10 team, which doesn't say as much about the nation as it says about the Tar Heels.
Holy hell, are they good or what?
I mean, we all assumed North Carolina would be the nation's dominant outfit, but that the Tar Heels would meet the hype in this fashion seemed improbable, particularly with injuries throughout the roster. And then the showdown with eighth-ranked Notre Dame tipped-off. And then UNC jumped to a double-digit lead 14 minutes in. And then Tyler Hansbrough started dominating. And then the Tar Heels pushed their advantage to 23 points before cruising to a 102-87 victory over an Irish squad that had a day earlier beaten another top 10 team, namely sixth-ranked Texas.
So if you're keeping track, the vitals look like this: UNC is 6-0 with a 19-point win over an SEC team (Kentucky), 29-point win over a Pac-10 team (Oregon) and 15-point win over a Big East team (Notre Dame). Overall, the Tar Heels have won by an average of 23.3 points, this despite Hansbrough only playing in half the contests, Marcus Ginyard playing in none and Tyler Zeller missing the past four with a broken wrist that will sideline him the rest of the season.
In other words, UNC is awesome. And though the Tar Heels probably will lose at some point just because teams usually do, it's pretty clear that whenever it happens it'll be a huge upset, because though we're only two weeks into the season it's already obvious nobody -- outside of perhaps UConn and Louisville -- compares on paper or on the court.
Posted on: November 26, 2008 4:22 pm
Edited on: November 26, 2008 4:24 pm
If you don't think Luke Harangody is looking forward to tonight's match-up with Tyler Hansbrough, well, you must not have read my column from a couple of months ago, the one where Harangody openly discussed being overshadowed by Hansbrough despite having similar numbers.
"People say maybe I don't get as much respect as he does, that he's the player everyone is talking about," Harangody told me when I visited Notre Dame in September. "But that's just another thing that motivates me to do more."
Honestly, I can't wait for tonight.
Again, tip-off is scheduled for 10 p.m. ET.
It's as close to must-see TV as you can get for November basketball.
Posted on: November 3, 2008 1:01 pm
But that doesn't mean there shouldn't be some debate.
The reality is that when I put together my team the only must-have-players were Tyler Hansbrough, Stephen Curry and Luke Harangody. I can't understand why any ballot wouldn't include those three names, but I can't understand a lot of what happens on AP ballots. So whatever. As for Blake Griffin and Darren Collison, yes, I also featured both. But I considered teams without those names and actually almost went one of the following:
G: Darren Collison (UCLA)
G: Stephen Curry (Davidson)
To be clear, I love Griffin and Collison. But Collison's dreadful Final Four appearance is something I nearly couldn't get out of my head, and though Griffin was dominant as a freshman his numbers weren't quite as good as Hansbrough's or Harangody's. So that's why I considered dropping one or both for Harden and/or Smith. But in the end, I think I got it right. And I think the AP voters got it right, too.
So good for me.
And good for them.
And we'll just have to argue some other day.