Posted on: November 19, 2009 12:50 pm
Edited on: November 19, 2009 12:53 pm

Dear Gary (on my sh-t being together)

Here's Thursday's Dear Gary ...

Dear Gary: Dude, No. 13 California needs to beat Syracuse before they can meet North Carolina or Ohio State on Friday, and that ain't happening! Get your sh-t together if you want to be a college basketball columnist.

-- Stephen Leahy

Oh, Stephen, my sh-t is together. You see, the Coaches vs. Cancer has a championship game and a consolation game. So regardless of whether California beats Syracuse or loses to Syracuse on Thursday night, California will play North Carolina or Ohio State on Friday night. Just like I said. And California is a slight favorite in the game. So you're stupid on multiple levels, genius.
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: November 9, 2009 1:56 am
Edited on: November 9, 2009 1:59 am

Welcome to Opening Day

It's disappointing that college basketball's Opening Day isn't more eventful, or even an event of some kind. There's no Chick-Fil-A Kickoff Game, no Black Eyed Peas concert, no nothing. Just four games that are, on paper, mismatches with Florida International's Isiah Thomas coaching against North Carolina serving as the only notable storyline.

That'll be fun until tipoff.

Then we'll have a blowout on our hands.

So, no, the nation is not buzzing about college hoops today.

Why would it?

But college basketball is here, regardless.

And for that, I'm thankful (even if I'm convinced there's got to be a better way to open the season).

Anyway, here's Monday's schedule:
  • Florida International at No. 6 North Carolina (at 7 p.m. ET)
  • Alcorn State at No. 16 Ohio State (7 p.m. ET)
  • Albany at Syracuse (9 p.m. ET)
  • Murray State at California (11 p.m. ET)
Posted on: November 4, 2009 3:34 pm
Edited on: November 4, 2009 3:34 pm

Speaking of Le Moyne ...

The Division II school that beat Syracuse has a new home page.

Click this link to check it out.

The Le Moyne Dolphins are celebrating this appropriately.

Good for them.
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: November 4, 2009 3:26 pm

Dear Gary (on the Syracuse loss)

Here's Wednesday's Dear Gary (courtesy of a distraught Syracuse fan who emailed late Tuesday) ...

Dear Gary:  
After taking my anger out at the bar and trying as hard as possible to make this email legible, I am coming to you for advice. I am a Jet, Met and Knick fan. Clearly, sports have failed me my whole life. I am also a die hard Syracuse college basketball fan, (notice I didn't include college football even though I've been to every football game this season), and tonight my college basketball season just ended before it ever began. I am writing to now to ask: What the hell is left in my life to possibly look forward to?


Probably nothing.

That's the harsh reality.

But I would like to remind you that it can't possibly get worse than losing to a Division II school from across town, if only because Syracuse isn't playing any more Division II schools from across town. So in that sense, things are looking up. But in all seriousness, this isn't going to be as bad as you think or as bad as it was Tuesday night.

I can't find proof right now (I've been looking for 15 minutes), but I believe UMass lost an exhibition in the 1995-96 season, then went on to make the Final Four. Grand Valley State famously beat Michigan State in an exhibition two years ago, and the Spartans still made the Sweet 16. So losing a game like this isn't necessarily a prediction of what's coming, but it does suggest the Orange will miss Eric Devendorf and Paul Harris more than some wanted to acknowledge.

Anyway, I guess my advice is to take a deep breath and relax.

Or get another drink.

And just know that Syracuse is still going to be a team capable of making the NCAA tournament.

As for the Mets, man, I don't know what to tell you.

Hang in there.

And it's too bad you weren't alive to enjoy the Doc/Darryl years.

Those were good times.
Category: BBD
Posted on: October 26, 2009 10:33 am
Edited on: October 26, 2009 10:33 am

Admitting mistakes with the player rankings

You're bound to have mistakes when you start ranking players 25, 30 or 40 deep at different positions.

It even happens to me.

So in an attempt to be a stand-up guy, I'm here to acknowledge three mistakes in the player rankings, all of which were oversights and nothing more. To be clear, I'm not interested in arguing about whether somebody ranked 21st should really be 16th, because things get pretty subjective when you get past the top three or four at any position. Plus, those debates are so last week. But I did leave off three guys who absolutely should've been included, and I'd like to set the record straight right now.

Mistake No. 1: Jordan Crawford (Xavier)

Crawford averaged 9.7 points two years ago as a freshman at Indiana, and there's reason to believe he'll improve on those numbers this season at Xavier. In fact, he could challenge Dayton's Chris Wright for Atlantic 10 Player of the Year honors.

So why did Crawford not make the shooting guards and wings list?

Because I'm stupid, that's why.

Mistake No. 2: Arnett Moultrie (UTEP)

Moultrie averaged 8.8 points and 8.2 rebounds last season and was the best freshman in Conference USA not named Tyreke Evans. He's a 6-foot-11 forward who used that body of work to earn an invitation to play for Team USA this past summer in the FIBA under-19 World Championships.

So why did Moultrie not make the big forwards and centers list?

Because I'm stupid, that's why.

Mistake No. 3: Arinze Onuaku (Syracuse)

Leaving Onuaku out was the most frustrating of all because I love this dude. He's a big-bodied post player who shot 29.8 percent from the free throw line last season, which is hilarious. But he also averaged 10.3 points and 7.3 rebounds, and those are nice numbers for a guy who isn't the focal point of anything.

So why did Onuaku not make the big forwards and centers list?

Because I'm stupid, that's why.
Posted on: October 18, 2009 4:42 pm
Edited on: October 19, 2009 12:11 am

Thoughts on Madness events across the nation

I'm back home after a quick trip to Kansas , doing some reading and trying to catch up on what happened at some other Midnight Madness festivities. Seems a lot of places had record nights -- among them Michigan State.

The Breslin Center was filled to capacity with 14,759 fans.

That's the first sellout at MSU in Midnight Madness history.

Tom Izzo entered in an Indy car because the 2010 Final Four is in Indianapolis.

"I know what it's like to drive an Indy car," Izzo told the crowd. "I hope I know what it's like to play in Indianapolis."

Meantime, Clemson's Oliver Purnell rapelled from the top of Littlejohn Coliseum, Syracuse's Jim Boeheim drove a police car into the Carrier Dome (Was he looking for Eric Devendorf?), and Kentucky's John Calipari gave a 10-minute speech to 24,000 fans at Rupp Arena, and he delivered the following line: "Our history is rooted in our coaches: Rupp and Hall and Smith."

That's Adolph Rupp, Joe B. Hall and Tubby Smith.

Notably missing: Former UK coach Rick Pitino.

I'm certain it was not an oversight.

Anyway, a scan of the country showed there were many great events. But the neatest of all Madness ceremonies might've been at Memphis, where more than 18,000 fans filled FedExForum to celebrate a 32-year-old head coach and his eight healthy scholarship players who are unranked and enduring a period of NCAA probation. Understand, it is not normal for the Tigers to fill FedExForum for Memphis Madness. Even when Calipari was the coach, Derrick Rose and Chris Douglas-Roberts were the stars, and the team was ranked No. 1 in CBSSports.com's preseason Top 25 (and one) , the building was not full for this event. But on Friday night the doors had to be closed and people were turned away, and I was enjoying a conversation with former Missouri State coach Barry Hinson -- now the director of external relations at Kansas -- when I got a text about the scene and shared the news.

"I'm so happy for Josh," Hinson said. "The fans were making a statement, weren't they?"

Absolutely, it was a statement.

It was a statement to Calipari and the nation, a statement from a city determined to convince itself (and the prospects in attendance) that it will move along fine despite a rough few months. Since the end of last season, the Tigers have lost their coach, recruiting class and 2008 Final Four banner. They also watched one recruit (Latavious Williams) not enroll to pursue a professional career overseas, and one player (Shawn Taggart) not return to pursue a professional career, well, who knows where?

Additionally, Angel Garcia tore his ACL in an offseason workout.

Memphis is not picked to win C-USA.

And yet more than 18,000 people still made the trip downtown to celebrate the past and the future, and it's worth noting that a five-minute montage shown on the video board featured pictures and clips of every relevant former player and coach ... except Calipari, who was omitted completely.

"It  was a great statement by the city," Pastner said by phone. "I was blown away. It was unreal. And that's what's great about Memphis Basketball, and it's what I've tried to tell people. Memphis Basketball was good way before I was even born, and it's going to be good long after I'm gone. Memphis basketball is not about one individual or two individuals. It has a rich tradition, and the fans are really proud of the program, and they showed it [Friday] night."
Posted on: September 28, 2009 9:07 am
Edited on: September 28, 2009 9:12 am

Recruiting notes from the weekend

There were some significant recruiting developments this weekend.

Here are some of them:

Irving visits Duke: Kyrie Irving, ranked fifth in the Class of 2010 by Scout.com, visited Duke, then Tweeted about it. "Duke official was great! I enjoyed every single second," he wrote. "Everything there fits me and is right for me...you never know what will happen ." Duke has long been considered the favorite to land Irving, a 6-foot-1 point guard from New Jersey. Still, Texas A&M is among the schools hanging around, primarily because Aggie assistant Scott Spinelli was college roommates with Irving's father, Drederick Irving.

Selby narrows list: Josh Selby, famous for decommitting from Tennessee in July, has narrowed his list of potential schools to six, and UT is not one of them. The final six are Kansas, Kentucky, Indiana, Baylor, Miami and Syracuse. All indications are that Selby -- a combo guard ranked 14th in the Class of 2010 by MaxPreps.com -- will make a final decision in the Spring.

Jones narrows list: Class of 2010 standout Terrence Jones trimmed his list of potential schools to seven -- specifically Kansas, Kentucky, UCLA, Arizona, Oklahoma, Washington and Oregon. MaxPreps.com ranks Jones as the No. 12 prospect in the Class of 2010.

USC gains fifth Class of 2010 pledge: Kevin O'Neill accepted a commitment from Maurice Jones, according to Scout.com's Evan Daniels. Jones is a 5-7 point guard who reportedly averaged 28 points and 13 assists last season in high school. He's the fifth Class of 2010 prospect to commit to USC despite an ongoing NCAA investigation.
Posted on: September 5, 2009 4:34 pm
Edited on: September 5, 2009 4:36 pm

It can't be easy being Greg Paulus

I spent four years watching Greg Paulus fall down on the basketball court.

It's called a flop .

There was at least one every game.

So you can imagine my surprise when I saw Paulus refuse to flop (or even get tackled) on Syracuse's opening possession of Saturday's overtime, and it was that decision to scramble and scramble and finally throw the ball into coverage that ultimately ruined his debut as a Syracuse football player after four seasons as a Duke basketball player. Had Paulus simply taken a sack, Syracuse would've kicked a field goal and probably gone to a second overtime. As it was, Paulus tossed an interception, at which point Minnesota took the ball, kicked a field goal and escaped the Carrier Dome with a 23-20 victory.

Honestly, it was tough to watch.

No college player has been ridiculed more in recent years than Paulus -- partly because he played at Duke, mostly because he always seemed to get dunked on . People just love to laugh at him. And so thousands (if not millions) of sports fans who wouldn't otherwise care about a Minnesota-Syracuse game paid special attention to this Minnesota-Syracuse game, and through four quarters Paulus gave them nothing to mock. In fact, he was quite impressive -- completing 19 of 31 passes for 167 yards and a touchdown. But the way it ended is all anybody will remember, and that's too bad because it would've been nice for Paulus to earn praise for leading his hometown school to a win over a Big Ten program.

Instead, he threw the pick that lost the game.

And now I'm making flop jokes.

And don't you feel kind of badly for the guy?
Category: NCAAB
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com