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Ring Ring... It's the Future!

Ring Ring... It's the Future!

Many of us quit painting rocks in 4th grade art class.  For inhabitants of Knoxville, TN it defines their collective collegiate existence.  Take the above picture of super-recruit Tobias Harris in front of the painted likeness of his back (apparently Eastern Tennesseeans cannot artistically render human hands), for example.  Having a cartoonish image of your rear side painted on a large boulder in Appalachian Tennessee has to be the highlight of one’s autumn (which, coincidentally is the best season).

Only one problem: that shirt I see Tobias sporting bears a rather large non-Adidas symbol.  Better hope the Under Armour equivalent of World Wide Wes doesn’t get involved in this one… 

But never fear.  Any amount of persuasion attempted towards Sir Harris will be curtailed by the lasting image of himself  emblazened on a ginormous piece of quartzite, neckless and sporting the trademark Volunteer headband-yarmulke.  Afterall…  nothing shows you care more, like a Rock!  Cue Bob Seger.

Vols, bitch!

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pitino_daveBy now, most people are aware of the developing scandal regarding David Letterman, his alleged affair with Stephanie Birkitt and the attempted extortion plot concocted by former Birkitt beau (and CBS producer), Robert “Joe” Halderman. However, you may not know about the titilating and complex relationship that has been formed between Letterman and one Rick Pitino, based on their shared position as über-famous extortionees.

Before I talk about the actual case, I’d like to address Mr. Halderman’s alias. First of all, why not Bobby?  If you’re gonna go informal and you have the chance to be “Jimmy” or “Dick” or “Bobby,” you jump at it.  Secondly, why Joe? Sure I understand that his middle name is “Joel,” but when have you ever known a Joel to abbreviate their name as Joe? Well, aside from Billy Joel.  But that was his surname.

What?  Billy Joel didn’t resurrect his career as lead singer of Green Day?  You just seriously destroyed my Greatest Hits Catalog.

After talking to someone close to the situation, I have been informed that David Letterman contacted Rick Pitino several times seeking advice of a legal nature. Pitino was quite adamant in advising Letterman that he should attempt to “record the broad” that is attempting to extort him.  “That’s what I did,” Pitino said.  “When Sypher (the alleged extortionist in Pitino’s case) wanted to blackmail me.  I got her on tape.”

After Letterman repeatedly asserted that it was not in fact a woman attempting to extort him, Pitino responded, “I don’t care which side you swing for, Dave. My advice remains the same.”

(more…)

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[Editor’s note:  This is the first in a series of posts from some of the nation’s leading basketball minds.]

Hello friends, and good to have you with us.  The 2009-2010 college basketball season is just around the corner, and it should be a fun ride.

There should be some interesting storylines this season, including the start of the John Calipari Era at Kentucky.  Will he be able to bring the Wildcats back to national title contention as the UK fanbase expects?  Time well tell.  He’s certainly got a great recruiting class, including point guard John Wall and big man Demarcus Cousins.

Speaking of basketball players named Demarcus, I can’t help but be reminded what a great kid Duke’s Demarcus Nelson was.  What a special kid.  Just so special.  He was the ultimate team player, and I really thought he deserved to be the ACC’s Player of the Year in 2008.  However, others felt that Tyler Hansbrough was more deserving, and I suppose they are entitled to that opinion.

Speaking of Duke, I think Mike Krzyzewski will bring national title number four home to Durham this season.  The Blue Devils are clearly coming into this season with about as much momentum as I can remember a team ever having.  In 2009, Coach K was able to take a talent-depleted lineup all the way to the Sweet Sixteen, where they were only narrowly edged by eventual national semifinalist Villanova.

You know the ACC Tournament champion Blue Devils will be coming into this season with a great deal of confidence and experience, and I think this year will be a culmination of Mike Krzyzewski’s system and personnel meshing perfectly.  Plus, Coach K adds one of the strongest recruiting classes in recent memory, with standout Ryan Kelly poised to make a huge impact from day one.

Now, you might say “Mike, are you kidding me?!  Duke lost Greg Paulus, Gerald Henderson, and Elliot Williams.  That’s a lot of talent.”  And you’re right.  Rebuilding after losing a gritty, determined winner like Greg Paulus will be the biggest challenge Coach K faces this season.  You simply don’t find someone as special as Paulus very often.  He’s a once-in-a-generation player.  Having said that, I think Coach K will be able to find success with Scheyer and Smith splitting time at the point guard spot.  Paulus will certainly be missed – and can never fully replaced, but Mike Krzyzewski is nothing short of a coaching genius.  It won’t be a problem.  And let’s not forget Kyle Singler, who is my preseason pick for National Player of the Year.  When it’s all said and done, Duke will be your national champions.

Also, Kansas should have a solid team, too.  And I really hope Tim Tebow is feeling better.  He’s just so, so special.  By the way, does anyone know what Britney is doing with her life?

I look forward to another great year of college basketball, and I hope you enjoy it as much I as I know I will.  -MP

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2009 National Champions North Carolina Tar Heels

2009 National Champions North Carolina Tar Heels

Big news this week in college basketball recruiting. As everyone who follows the drama of recruiting knows, the last day for in-home visits (where a coach visits a prospective student athlete at his house), was this past Monday, October 5th.

No surprise, the most sought after recruit is the top player in his class, Harrison Bryce Jordan Barnes. Barnes wants to be a small forward or shooting guard in college to best prepare him for the NBA. He’s narrowed his list down to 5 schools. Oklahoma, Iowa State, Kansas, UNC, and Duke – pretty much in the exact opposite of that order. Many of us who are following his recruitment are baffled why he expects to play anything other than center for Duke.

Duke was one of the first schools to make contact with Barnes and were long thought to lead for his services. The Blue Devils have made him priority #1 even though he’ll only be in college for a year before he moves on to the NBA.

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ESPN College Basketball EncyclopediaESPN is evidently planning to release an exhaustive Men’s College Basketball Encyclopedia, and, as part of the festivities, they hired Jeff Sagarin (of Sagarin Ratings fame) to use his computation model to create an unbiased all-time ranking of the programs. Here’s the top 10, according to his results:

  1. Kentucky
  2. UCLA
  3. Kansas
  4. North Carolina
  5. Indiana
  6. Illinois
  7. Duke
  8. Purdue
  9. Ohio State
  10. Iowa

Now before you break out your WTF stick and hunt down Jeff Sagarin, let him explain himself.

“We know what you’re thinking: How in the world did UCLA not come out on top? Well, as dominant as the Bruins were under John Wooden, they didn’t even rank as a top-40 program in the 1940s. Meanwhile, Kentucky hasn’t finished lower than 10th in any decade. We’re guessing you’re nearly as shocked by Northwestern’s No. 77 ranking—pretty remarkable for a team that’s never made the NCAA Tournament. But with eight Big Ten programs in the Top 20, the Wildcats have faced some of college basketball’s toughest conference slates for more than seven decades. Just goes to show how much
strength of schedule matters.”

Basically, these were the most consistently successful programs over this time period (72 years), based on assigning numerical values to subjective variables like strength of schedule and top ten rankings by decade and combining that with concrete variables like wins and tournament wins.

Still have the itch to bitch? You’re not alone.

Pat Forde has this to say:

…the rankings are flat crazy.

Hey, I like the Sagarin Ratings as much as anyone. Look at them regularly during college football and basketball. And I respect a man who will even save some mainframe space for Indiana high school rankings, as well.

But, Jeff, we’ve got to talk about your all-time hierarchy. There appears to be way too much respect given to accomplishments during the segregated, set-shot, eight-team-NCAA-tournament era and not nearly enough to programs that have thrived since the sport exploded behind Bird-Magic in 1979.

So… Put Pat Forde down as a fan of subjectivity and shades of gray over computers and algorithms.

What do you guys think? Do these rankings have any validity at all? Does Jeff Sagarin need to be lit on fire and dropped from an airplane full of mother @#$%in’ snakes? Let us know your opinion in the comments section.

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With October comes the first month of college basketball season. Sure, Midnight Madness won’t occur across the country until midnight on October 16th, but we can look ahead. And what do we have to look forward to?

2009 National Champions North Carolina Tar Heels

2009 National Champions North Carolina Tar Heels

Honestly, not much. 2010 is going to be the worst year of college basketball since the NCAA started holding championships. Think about it. Which teams are being tossed around as top 5 teams? There are some obvious ones: Kansas, Michigan State, Villanova. But after that, who gets mentioned? Texas? Oklahoma? UNC? Duke? Kentucky? Purdue?

Those are teams being considered for the 4th best team in America in the 2010 season. Things really couldn’t be any worse for college basketball fans. Consider this, a team coached by Rick Barnes has a legitimate chance to win the National Championship. Kentucky, a team that went to the NIT last year, lost their leading scorer and added a great recruiting class and is widely considered a top 5 team. UNC won the title, then lost their top 4 players to the NBA and are still considered a top 10 team. Duke lost their best player and now has only 3 scholarship guards on their team and yet, you guessed it, top 10. Oklahoma loses the National Player of the Year. Still top 10. Purdue? What a joke.

So, brace yourself college basketball fans. It’ll be competitive, but it’ll be difficult to watch. Almost like watching old people have sex.

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Patrick Patterson wakes a thankless tent hobo with a piping hot McMuffin.

Patrick Patterson wakes a thankless tent hobo with a piping hot McMuffin.

Showing that college basketball stars have hearts after all, the University of Kentucky Wildcats basketball team banded together to take breakfast to a small community of homeless people camped outside Memorial Coliseum.

“It was a great opportunity for us to give back to the community,” Patrick Patterson explained. “These people may be homeless, they may be crazy, but they’re still people. Everyone deserves a McMuffin now and then.”

Officials estimate that the hastily assembled tent commune has recently ballooned to more than a thousand occupants.

One campus police officer, who wished to remain anonymous, shed some light on the situation. “At first there were just a couple of tents, but now it’s starting to get a little out of hand. We’ve tried everything to get them to pack up and leave, but they are a stubborn lot.”

“One hobo rambled something about a basketball practice, before shouting ‘C’ at the top of his lungs. It’s disturbing stuff.”

“Hopefully these people can use this predicament as a wake up call and get their lives together.”

“Our home is here,” said one disheveled bag lady. “As long as our Cats are here, we’ll be here too.”

She then flashed us, shouted “LOOK! IT’S JOHN WALL!”, and ran behind a bush.

This reporter can only hope that she found what she was looking for.

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