Posted on: January 2, 2009 1:28 pm

Dear Gary (on Louisville's non-ranking)

Here's Friday's Dear Gary ...

Dear Gary: Congrats are in store (because) you are the only one who doesn't have Louisville in the Top 25. Congrats on a job well done. Now do you think there is room for UNLV in the next Top 25 (and one)?

(Hint: Take Gonzaga out)

-- AW

First things first: Yes, I look wise to have removed Louisville from the Top 25 (and one) two weeks ago, but in fairness there were a handful of AP voters who followed my lead that same week (or at least did what I did, even if they weren't necessarily following me). They were: Dan Wolken, Dave Jones, Kevin McNamara, Mark Berman, Matt Vautour, Patrick Stevens, Paul Klee, Rusty Simmons and Tom Keegan. So congratulate those wise men, too.

Moving on: Can UNLV make the next Top 25 (and one)?


I'll let you know Sunday night.

But either way, yes, it appears Gonzaga must be taken out.

Posted on: November 14, 2008 3:16 pm
Edited on: November 14, 2008 3:48 pm

Dear Gary (on Big East coaches)

Here's Friday's Dear Gary ...

Dear Gary: We all know the Big East is full of great programs and players. In your opinion, who is the best coach?

-- Lorne

A nice, simple question.

I like it, Lorne.

Anyway, by my count there are three coaches with national titles in the Big East, namely Jim Calhoun (UConn), Rick Pitino (Louisville) and Jim Boeheim (Syracuse). So while I think Bob Huggins (West Virginia) is a Hall of Famer and Jay Wright (Villanova), Jamie Dixon (Pittsburgh), John Thompson III (Georgetown) and Mike Brey (Notre Dame) are all established winners, it's probably right to stick to the group of men with rings when trying to establish the best of the Big East.

That means I'm down to Calhoun, Pitino and Boeheim.

All three are Hall of Famers.

But with a gun to my head I'd probably go with Pitino, because he's won at a high-level at three very different schools and there's no telling how many national titles the guy might have if he had never done two stints in the NBA. As it is, he's still got one national title (at Kentucky), and he's been to five Final Fours with three different schools (Providence, Kentucky and Louisville). That's pretty remarkable. And when you consider he's got another team this season that could challenge for a sixth Final Four and second national title, well, I don't think you can go wrong putting Pitino at the top of the list.

Agree or disagree?
Posted on: October 11, 2008 8:03 pm

Louisville lands elite prospect from California

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- As proof that recruiting news can come at anytime, a source has confirmed to CBSSports.com that Louisville earned a commitment from Class of 2010 star Jeremy Tyler on Saturday.

The 6-foot-9 center from San Diego is rated as one of the nation's top 10 juniors by both Scout.com and Rivals.com. What his commitment means is that the Cardinals should be set up front for the foreseeable future provided freshman Samardo Samuels stays at least through his sophomore season. That's possible, I guess. But it will ultimately depend on how Louisville's season progresses and what kind of contribution is provided by Samuels, who is the best incoming freshman in the country, according to Scout.com.

Posted on: August 27, 2008 10:29 am

Dear Gary (on Derrick Caracter)

Here's Wednesday's Dear Gary ...

Dear Gary: I find the Derrick Caracter story very sad. I think it is good that he is still going to be going to a university, but sad that he did not have great success at the (high-major) level. I want the best for him, but at this point the odds of him making a comeback are slim. ... If I one day hear that he is playing professional basketball in the Euroleague or something, that would be great.

-- Sev

You know, that's what he should be trying to do now.

In fact, Rick Pitino told me he tried to push Caracter that way.

Pitino helped get Caracter into the NBA PreDraft Camp, you see. But Caracter (for reasons that remain unclear) declined the invitation and pleaded with Pitino to let him rejoin the Louisville program. Problem is, by that time Caracter had already lost his eligibility because of academics. And even though he said he wanted to sit out this season and play for the Cardinals in 2009-10, it was always unrealistic to believe he'd be capable of meeting the requirements to make that happen set forth by Pitino. That's what led to Caracter presumably transferring to an NAIA school.

For the record, I think it's a mistake.

If there's one thing Caracter has proved over the years it's that he's not a fan of school. Thus, I find it confusing that he'd want to enroll in another school instead of just taking a shot at signing with a professional team, acting straight and trying to trick an NBA franchise into offering a contract over the next two or three years. At this point, that's a much more sensible approach. But Caracter hasn't always done the sensible thing, which is why I'm not surprised by this or any other move he ever makes.

That said, I honestly hope it works out.

For his sake.

Posted on: July 16, 2008 1:46 pm
Edited on: August 26, 2008 4:20 am

Dear Gary (on Caracter)

Here's Wednesday's Dear Gary ...

Dear Gary: I have to say that you made a huge error in your blog on Derrick Caracter. Has he been a lazy student? Yes. Lazy teammate/player? Yes. A bad person?  Absolutely not! He still has the heart of a child, both the good and bad aspects. Your implication that Rick Pitino is giving some low-class thug a 10th chance is irresponsible.

-- Louis

Man, Louis, you had me worried.

When you wrote I made a 'huge error' I thought that meant I must've called Josh Hamilton Josh Beckett or misspelled Winehouse or something. Turns out, my huge error, according to you, was that I wrote Derrick Caracter has never been a "good student, good teammate or good dude in general." Thank goodnees that's the only "error" you found. Now I can relax. But I guess this does mean we're in a disagreement, Louis, and you being on the side of Caracter doesn't bode well for you.

I say he's never been a good dude.

You say that's an error.

That means you believe Caracter has in fact been a good dude. So now I'm inviting you to write back and explain in detail what it is exactly that Caracter has done to make anybody -- specifically you -- think he's a good dude. I'll be waiting.

As for your thug reference?

I never used that word and will never use that word to describe anybody. I hate that word, hate what it implies and how easily it's tossed around and used by white people to describe black players with tattoos from the inner-city. I'll never use that word to disparage Caracter or anybody else. But I think it's safe to say good dudes don't basically spend two years of college suspended and/or in a fight with their head coach over a variety of subjects, which means I think it's safe to say Caracter has never been a "good dude in general."

Either way, prove me wrong.

Tell me how good of a dude Caracter has been.

And good luck trying to defend someone who is indefensible.

Posted on: July 16, 2008 12:43 am
Edited on: July 16, 2008 1:03 am

I'll take 'No chance in hell' for $1,000, Alex

The war on terror.

Amy Winehouse's life.

Those are two things I think might end worse than Derrick Caracter's 5,348th chance at Louisville, but those are the only two things I can come up with off the top of my head. I mean, I don't want to be a skeptic because I love a good comeback story as much as the next guy (did you see Josh Hamilton hit all those home runs!?!). But it's difficult to imagine any scenario under which this actually works out regardless of what Caracter has claimed he's willing to do while begging Rick Pitino to let him return to the program.

So what is it that Caracter has claimed he's willing to do, you ask?

According to Rick Pitino (per the Louisville Courier-Journal), Caracter has agreed to:

  • Pay his own way to school while missing the 2008-09 season (both practices and games).
  • Get a job approved by Pitino.
  • Secure his own living arrangements.
  • Get into shape.
  • Become academically eligible.
  • Stay out of trouble.

Pitino said Caracter will be allowed to rejoin the Cardinals for the 2009-2010 season if he does all those things.

My initial reaction: Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahah

Seriously, is there any way this is possible?

Caracter has been a problem at every level -- never been a good student, good teammate or good dude in general. The stories I could tell you about this guy are classic, and if you ever see me in a bar buy me a pint of Stella Artois and I'll be sure to share one of them. We'll have a good laugh. I'm looking forward to it. But in the meantime, just trust me when I tell you the odds of Caracter meeting the above-stated requirements and not doing something stupid over the 16 months between now and the time he'll supposedly play his next college game are about as good as Brett Favre ever permanently retiring.

Simply put, I just don't see it happening.

But I'll sure have fun watching it develop or unravel, whichever the case may be.

Posted on: May 22, 2008 5:44 pm
Edited on: May 22, 2008 6:43 pm

Lots of people go to Kentucky basketball games

The final figures are in: Kentucky led the nation in attendance this season. Again. It marks the 12th time in 13 years that the Wildcats have led in attendance, a statistic that demonstrates how UK has the most committed fans in the country ... and a really big home arena.

Kentucky averaged 22,554 fans to top the list by more than 2,000 people per game.

Interestingly, three of the top eight schools are from the SEC.

The entire Top 10 is below:

1. Kentucky (22,554)

2. North Carolina (20,497)

3. Syracuse (20,345)

4. Tennessee (20,267)

5. Louisville (19,481)

6. Maryland (17,950)

7. Wisconsin (17,190)

8. Arkansas (17,148)

9. Indiana (16,876)

10. Memphis (16,748)
Posted on: March 24, 2008 4:57 pm
Edited on: March 24, 2008 4:59 pm

Gamblers are falling in love with Louisville

The first weekend seems to have changed what the oddsmakers are thinking.

According to Bodog, UCLA and North Carolina are now co-favorites to win the national title. Both are currently at 3-to-1, followed by Kansas (7-to-2), Louisville (4-to-1), Memphis (6-to-1) and Texas (10-to-1). What stands out from that list is that the oddsmakers saw the same thing I saw this past weekend in Birmingham, which is that Louisville is playing at a high level -- so high that the Cards are now considered the fourth most-likely team to win this NCAA Tournament despite being the No. 3 seed in the East Region. If you're wondering, they also opened as a 2.5-point favorite over Tennessee in Thursday's Sweet 16 matchup in Charlotte.

The biggest Sweet 16 spread?

That's UCLA minus-13 over Western Kentucky.

The smallest Sweet 16 spread?

That's West Virginia minus-1 over Xavier.

And how many points will Stephen Curry have Friday against Wisconsin?

The over-under is 27.5.

And my instincts tell me I should tell you to take the under, particularly because Wisconsin just held Michael Beasley to 23 points. But my instincts have been totally wrong about all things related to Davidson. So if you're betting against Curry, you're doing so at your own risk.
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