Texas Play-Em

Texas basketball has a freshman named Mike Williams who was rated among the top 20 recruits in the country last year. Unfortunately, he apparently took some illegal benefits from his AAU coach (who didn’t?) and is being held out by the NCAA. The Longhorns think the NCAA is taking too damn long to deliver a final ruling on the case. Williams claims that he already repaid his coach (in cash, so there’s no evidence one way or the other).
So Texas took the extremely unusual step of having >their own hearingcan’t be trusted.
If the UT faculty decide that Williams can play and he does and the NCAA later declares him inelligible, the Longhorns will probably have to forfeit those games. It’s quite a gamble.

The Gillen Trend

You wouldn’t think that UConn coach Jim Calhoun, he of the two national titles, would be learning coaching tips from Virginia’s Pete Gillen, he of the two postseason wins, but apparently he did. Calhoun called a timeout nine seconds into UConn’s win over Florida International. Nine seconds. Rumor has it Gillen was irate and plans to call a timeout during the opening tip of UVA’s next game.

7-2

Well, that was fun, wasn’t it? Other than one egregious example, that ACC kicked the crap out of the Big Ten yet again in the “Challenge.”
Other than the one-sidedness of the “challenge,” which really surprised no one (and that says it all), the big shocker was just how badly Wake Forest was beaten. Illinois looked every bit as good against Wake as Georgia Tech did against Michigan. The Illini were nearly perfect for about three quarters of that game. They are a great team, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they fail to match that effort and execution again this year. They just couldn’t play any better.
I think Wake learned two important lessons. First, defense really does matter. They’ve been paying lip service to that notion all fall, but getting busted in their chops might really convince them that they need to do more than talk about it. There are plenty of other games on their schedule where the same thing could happen to them if they don’t contest shots.
The other lesson is that it’s one thing to be ranked high and another to be #1. Duke and UNC learned long ago how to play as #1, when you’re the biggest game for every opponent and their fans. It ain’t easy to have the target on you. Fortunately for Wake, Illinois blew that sucker right off of them.
The other marquee game of the night was UNC at Indiana. Well, it was marquee from a standpoint of two huge programs, but many thought the Heels would blow out the Hoosiers and their crazy coach. Not quite. The game was fairly ugly, but Carolina showed they could win a slugfest too. They never really looked like they’d lose, but they just couldn’t put away the home team. I swear the last minute of that game took twenty minutes to play.
Clemson held off Ohio State in the Who Cares game of the night. Actually, I cared, because the win clinched the win for the ACC just after Wake had been treated like Najeh Davenport’s laundry hamper. I brief visions of a disastrous collapse, but of course, that wasn’t to be. Clemson looked decent last night, but it’s hard not to think that they are going to have a long season in the ACC.
The last game, and maybe the most boring, was Virginia going to Chicago and beating Northwestern. Man, that Princeton offense makes for some drool-inducing hoops. And I don’t mean salivating. I mean drooling on your pillow. Yeah, it’s pretty at times, but good lord, would you at least try to score? I have a hard time believing that they’ll be able to recruit good players to play that way. Maybe that’s why their team is like the UN; they probably don’t get too many Northwestern games on TV in Croatia and Morocco.
For the Cavs, it was actually a good win, although it was close. In previous years, Gillen’s teams couldn’t be bothered to pay attention on defense for more than, say 10 seconds. Playing D for 30-35 seconds at a time would have been impossible. It would have looked like a layup drill. Last night though, UVA held tough. They passed another test. I doubt they’ll win more than half of their conference games, but they are a pretty decent squad.
So, now that the ACC has spanked the Big 10 for the sixth straight time and 7-2 for the second time in a row, it’s time to put this baby to rest. The total record is now 34-19 for the ACC. Like I mentioned yesterday, it’s time for a new conference, someone who can actually make it a challenge. Bring on the Big East. guest agrees.

Hurricane Force

Lost in the hype of the then-impending ACC – Big Ten challenge, I forgot to post about a remarkable game down in south Florida. Or maybe it has something to do with the fact that Miami nearly lost to Wofford at home and then did lose at home to South Carolina State. Not really a team I want to play too close of attention to.
But still, this was pretty remarkable. Miami played and beat Florida Atlantic 84-68 on Monday night. That’s not a big deal, but check the performances of three of their players.
First, the Hurricanes got a career-high 27 points from star guard Guillermo Diaz. That’s a nice game for the sophomore who will need to keep playing at that level against the ACC guards.
But Diaz was on the second-leading scorer on the night. Robert Hite went for his career high of 38 points. 38! That could turn out to be the most points any ACC player scores all year. Pretty impressive to get 65 points out of your backcourt, huh?
But those two performance pale (somewhat) in comparison to their teammate. Big man Anthony King had a triple-double with 11 points, 10 rebounds and 13 blocked shots.
The triple double was the first in Miami history. According to Charlie Board’s ACC stats site, it was just the twentieth triple double in ACC history.
And this is the big one… I’m taking a deep breath here… The thirteen blocked shots are a new ACC record. The previous record of twelve was held by three different players, the shot-blocking Lewis brothers of Maryland (Cedric and Derrick) and Ralph Sampson. Yes, Anthony King, a guy I have to admit I’d never heard of, who plays for Miami, a bad team in its first year of the ACC, knocked Ralph Sampson from the record books.
Wow.
And I thought I couldn’t possibly like expansion less.

4-1

A very nice start by the ACC, no? Of course, it could have been better, but Wisconsin played by far their best game of the year in beating Maryland. The Badgers played some very tough defense (as they always do) and the Terps missed the front ends of two critical one-and-ones in the last couple of minutes.
But on to the more fun results. I watched most of the first half of the Georgia Tech – Michigan “game” and man, was that fun! The Jackets were running, pressing, dunking and shooting all over the Wolverines. Tech quickly jumped out to a festive 30-9 lead to make it clear who the Alpha Bee was. Welcome to the Thriller Dome, Michigan! GT middled around for a bit in the middle of the half and then started nailing threes late and ended with a 59-32 halftime lead. The second half was for statistical purposes only.
Michigan State came into Cameron with legitimate upset hopes. They wanted to avenge last year’s drubbing in East Lansing, but it wasn’t to be. The Spartans really couldn’t have played too much better and landed the first blows. They rolled to an early 19-9 and it looked like Duke was going to learn some lessons. Nope. JJ Redick and Daniel Ewing simply took over the rest of the game and Duke moved on to 6-0 in the ACC – Big Ten “Challenge.”
BTW, let me interject a little sumthin-sumthin here. Everyone loves to hate on Duke and talk about how they are overexposed. That may be true to a point, but last night’s game and Duke’s overall ACC – Big Ten record says why. In each of those six years, Duke played the best or second best Big Ten team. And each year, Duke beat them. They are damn good. They’ve dominated the ACC of late, and they would do the same in any other conference. When you are good, you get on TV.
The most surprising result of the night was Florida State winning on Minnesota’s elevated floor. It’s not so much the win that was shocking, I mean the Gophers are no Texas A&M – Corpus Christi, but that FSU came from 14 down with only seven minutes to play. That’s some pretty good composure for a team that has already lost three games this year. Maybe Leonard Hamilton’s club is starting to put it together. And maybe the Gopher really suck.
The final four games of the “Challenge” (remember, I’m using quotes in that name until the Big Ten puts up a challenge) are tonight. I’m guessing the ACC goes 3-1 or 2-2 tonight to wrap things up. Carolina will wax Indiana and Virginia will take care of Northwestern. I have no idea about Clemson vs. Ohio State, but I think Illinois will “upset” Wake Forest. It’s not really an upset, because Illinois is at home and ranked #3 in the country, but since Wake is #1, it’ll be called one anyway.
So, once the ACC finishes up a 7-2 or 6-3 drubbing of the Big Ten, we need to look to the future. This thing is played. We need a new opponent. I think what the ACC should do is challenge a different conference each year. The Big Ten needs some time to lick their wounds. Maybe take on the Big East next year (I’m assuming that the newer batch of coaches won’t chicken out like they did years ago) and then give the Pac 10 a little what-for the next year. After that, beat down the SEC and Big 12. That would be fun, wouldn’t it? Each year give some other conference a chance to unseat the king. Make it happen, John Swofford, if you aren’t too busy trying to find some more football schools to grab.

Blue Turf For The Cavs

I never meant to turn this into the Virginia Bowl Blog, but damn if this story doesn’t keep changing. I hate to post stuff that’s inaccurate, so since I said it looked like UVA was going to the Independence Bowl, I feel I need to correct it.
Last night, UVA announced that they had accepted a bid to the MPC Computers Bowl, formerly known as the Humanitarian Bowl, always known as The Bowl No Fans Want To Go To Because It’s Outside In Boise Freaking Idaho In Late December. Yes, that one.
It seems that the Big East didn’t want to send one of it’s teams out to the Potato State which is what the Cavs needed to be able to go to the Independence Bowl. Gee, I wonder why the Big East refused to help out the ACC?