Office Hours: New Year's Eve Day Edition

By David Scott - December 31, 2007

Before we can ring in the new, The Professor has some ringing out of the old to tend to after another wild weekend in the classroom that is college hoops.

We wish you a very happy New Year and remind you that New Year's Eve is amateur night out there, so stay clear of the rookies and stay safe.

A: Atlantic 10 Conference (Dean's List for Dayton)
In the lame duck season of commissioner Linda Bruno, the A-10 continues to pile up impressive wins and solidify its standing as the "It" league of the 2007-08 campaign (see prior "It" leagues: the MVC, WCC and CAA). Through Saturday's games, four A-10 teams were ranked in the top 30 of the rankings with Dayton at No. 7, followed by Rhode Island (13), UMass (22) and Xavier (27). The league has record of 103-60 (.632) in non-conference action this season which, if maintained for the remainder of the season, would be the fourth-highest winning percentage since the formation of the league in 1976-77 and highest since 1993-94 (69-35 - .663). Below is a look at the league's top five non-conference records based on winning percentage since its inception in '76-'77:

Year Record Win %
1992-93 79-32 .712
1991-92 96-36 .679
1993-94 69-35 .663
2007-08 103-60 .632
1997-98 90-58 .608

A-10 teams were 104-85 (.550) in non-conference matchups a year ago.

For its part, Dayton had the most impressive win of the weekend with an 80-55 home victory over No. 6 Pittsburgh. Senior guard Brian Roberts (Toledo, Ohio/St. John's HS) scored 31 points on 10-of-17 shooting (5 of 8 from 3-point land) and had five assists in Dayton's 80-55 win over sixth-ranked Pittsburgh on Saturday. It was Roberts's second 30-point outing of the season and helped 11-1 Dayton to its best start to a season since the Flyers won their first 14 games in 1955-56.

The win was also the highest-ranked opponent the Flyers have knocked off since a 72-71 win over No. 3 DePaul in 1984 and the Flyers' largest margin of victory over a ranked team since UD downed No. 9 Duquesne, 71-48, in 1962.

[The Professor would like to, at this time, wish all the best to Pitt's Levance Fields, a spectacular talent who we hope can make it back for some March Madness with the Panthers. Fields, a junior, broke his left foot against Dayton, the second Panther in as many games to go down with a serious injury (Mike Cook was the other.)]

Oh, and the A-10's Duquesne squad is 9-3 (RPI of 40), UMass is 10-2 and Rhody is 13-1.

F: Kentucky
Billy Gillispie's Big Blue initiation season nightmare continued at home on Saturday when the Wildcats went down to San Diego 81-72 to fall to 5-6 (losers of five of their last six). Devin Ginty, a walk-on for the Toreros, was huge for well-travelled and 7-8 San Diego, hitting 4 of 4 from behind the arc. Guard Brandon Johnson led all scorers with 27 points.

Post-game, San Diego's first-year head coach (and ex-Gonzaga assistant) Bill Grier said, "Wow. I don't know if I have ever been more proud of our guys. I'm proud of the way we competed and battled. It's something we have been stressing to our kids all season. And today our kids came out with that look in their eye."

It's one thing to for Kentucky lose at home to Gardner-Webb, it's quite another to be scorched by a walk-on in that very same season in that very same building. The one encouraging thing for Gillispie is that is actually a site discouraging that very thing. It was registered and begun as a preemptive strike against the mean-spirited sites that pop up when a coach goes through the trials of a new situation, or an old one gone bad.

C-Minus: Eddie Sutton and the University of San Francisco
Even with a few days (and career loss No. 316) to let it sink in > this one makes no sense. If Eddie Sutton wanted to get back in, there had to be a better place than at what was 4-8 San Francisco and a better time than now. The Dons are 0-7 on the road, have NCAA issues and are the cellar dwellers of a league that will be owned this season by St. Mary's and Gonzaga.

Can Sutton get to 800? Yeah, of course. But what will those wins mean? And who's using who in this instance? USF ( a CSTV-partner) is getting some exposure at the same time Sutton is seeking to pad his record. This is dirty business being played out on a public stage complete with a fall guy (Jessie Evans), and a brave knight on sleek steed.

Put it this way: if this kind of stuff was being exposed with "student-athletes," the NCAA would be investigating or at the very least poking around. If anyone tries to tell you the Pump Brothers involvement isn't dubious at some level, they probably work for USF or are related to Eddie.

The grade can't be a flat out "F" simply because Sutton hasn't been given a chance to prove his commitment to the job. The AP photos from his Don Debut were embarrassingly awkward. Sutton was shown holding either game program or the team's media guide in more than one shot. The book appears to be open to the team picture page - never a good sign when the coach is learning the players during his pre-game speech.

Oh, and one last thing: Let's keep the name of Mike Montgomery in the conversation for what will likely be a an open position come March. He and the USF AD Debra Gore-Mann have ties back to their Stanford days.

F: The Providence Journal
This grade is actually overdue and a once-inexcusable situation has been remedied to some degree, but the ProJo has been woeful in its coverage of the nationally-ranked University of Rhode Island Rams all season long. Times are tough all over for newspapers and our understanding of that situation is crystal clear. But for the state's de facto official newspaper not to be covering the crap out of the State U's hoops team is beyond ludicrous.

Fortunately, we are told the ProJo will be staffing the remainder of the Rams games this season - both home and away.

A: Michael Flowers, Wisconsin
Forget the game-winning 3-pointer to give the Badgers an upset win over No. 9 Texas. How about the presence of mind to throw the ball he intercepted on the in-bounds high into the air to run out the game clock and ensure the victory? Flowers had just seven points on two treys and a free throw, but it's the hang time of his high heave that was his most important stat of the night.

(By the way, mad Professor Props to the Wisconsin Sports Information staff and Badger Blogger Brian Lucas for its implementation this season of live-blogging by an athletic department staffer. Definitely the wave of the future for savvy SIDs. Or media Relations folk. Or Communications Department employee. Or whatever they're calling the PR people these days.)

It takes a better man than The Professor explain the mid-season rule changes that will now effect neutral site games and thus, the RPI rankings of several teams. That better man is cohort Jerry Palm who wrote about the changes at his website this week. Here, as best we can tell, is what Palm has discovered, according to an entry at the subscription portion of his site from Dec. 26:

"The NCAA has materially changed the rules for deciding what is a home game and what is a neutral site game. These rules aren't published yet (the NCAA site still has the old ones listed with a July, 2007 date), but they have landed in my lap. In a sense, they are simpler, and in another sense, they are not.

"In short, game location no longer matters (for the most part). Now, game management rules. If a team plays on its home floor, it's a home game always. Other than that, if a team is game management (meaning in control of things like officials and tickets), then it is the home team, regardless of where the game is played.

"That means that, for example, the Illinois-Arizona game in Chicago on December 8th is now a home game. In the past, that would have been a neutral site game. That is one of 20 that I have changed. . .

Then, from Dec. 29, Palm further clarifies (as best as a human being can):

"After talking to the NCAA, it turns out that game management can even trump a home floor in deciding which is the home team in the RPI. Here is the example they gave me.

"If Wisconsin arranges to play a game at the Bradley Center in Milwaukee against Marquette, meaning it rents the facility, assigns officials, controls the tickets, etc., it is a home game for Wisconsin despite the fact that Marquette is playing on its home floor.

"Now, you are probably thinking something like that never happens. You would be wrong. It happens pretty much every year. The Palestra in Philadelphia is a home floor for both Penn and St. Joseph's. It's a secondary home floor for the Hawks, where they are playing four home games this year (Temple, Villanova, LaSalle and Penn St). However, they will also play road games there against Drexel and Penn.

"The new document with the rules for making these determinations actually has ten rules on it, but only the first two are independent situations. Rules 3-10 are really just more examples of how to apply rules 1 and 2.

"Also, a team does not necessarily have to perform all of the game management function listed in the document (rent the facility, assign the refs, control the tickets, perform game day operations) to be declared the home team. If there is any doubt, the NCAA will decide on a case-by-case basis."

Palm does his best to explain everything but the most basic question remains: Why and how are these changes only being divulged now? Shouldn't changes like this be made known to schools prior to scheduling commences so that everyone can be working under the same guidelines uniformly?

C: Washington State
I know, I know. The "Cougs" as everyone likes to call them - are Top 5 and undefeated. However, of the six remaining undefeateds in the country, Washington State has, by far, the worst RPI (33rd) and by far the worst Strength of Schedule (253). They have played no opponents currently ranked in the Top 25 and despite an impressive in-state win over Gonzaga (No. 19 at the time), the "Cougs" are still paper tigers in the Professor's eyes. Let's see how the Pac 10 schedule goes and then we can re-assess the Derrick Low Show. (Insert East Coast Bias comment here if you must. But know that we still love Gonzaga, USC and St. Mary's.)

D: The Majority of College Basketball Poll Voters
We won't even get into the John Feinstein fiasco. Instead we'll make the case for Memphis being No. 1 - a case that could have been made last week (and was in some small, quiet corners).

Not only has Memphis put together back-to-back wins over Top 20 teams, it is doing at a time when the No. 1 team, North Carolina is playing a non-conference slate that has zero Top 25 teams (as of now) on it.

It's a petty argument to have, I agree, but if the goal of the weekly polls are to represent the teams playing the best quality of ball in the country, then Memphis should most certainly be ahead of UNC this week. I'd even be able to make a case for Kansas before UNC.

Okay, and we can't resist a swipe at Feinstein: We're all for getting pub for smaller schools and recognizing a good mid or low major, but the AP Poll is NOT the place to do that. It's an even tougher sip to swallow because it involves the bombastic, self-important Feinstein, who last year had a slight temper tantrum when post-game interviews were delayed at the Final Four, thus altering the universe of one John Feinstein.

Puh-leeze. In a strange way, the AP Poll and Feinstein deserve each other - both are increasingly meaningless and irrelevant.

"Rook Look" will return next week.

Information and quotes from school/conference releases, official websites and wire stories were used in this notes column.

Posted by David Scott at 12:27 AM on December 31, 2007
Comments (3)


Hey pumpkinhead Scott I'm looking forward to revisiting "The Cougs" post PAC10 conference play.

I would say get your head out of your backside, but its to big too fit.

Don't forget WSU has also beaten Baylor (only loss) on the road and Boise State (just beat BYU) in preseason. Gonzaga, Cougs beat them at home. Pac 10 starts Thursday, give up on the East and watch the best.

Way to trash WSU, I highly doubt you have seen them play this season. Same exact group of kids as last year, I love the east coast bias. It is not our fault that no one will come to Pullman to play us, so we only played 4 home games out of 12. That is why we pulled out of the Great Alaska Shootout, would have been 2 home games. Did any other top 10 team in America have to do that? Not our fault that we had to bring in the Citadel, when at least 3 schools refused our invite(no wanted to play us). Also not our fault that no one can see us play since the Universtiy of Washington is the love child of the regional Fox Sports channel. They have had every one of their games televised, while we have had one.

Lets go also over the schedual and a few other things.

Idaho St. Played @ UCLA and lost by 40. We went to Idaho State, did not buy them out and honored the contract. WSU could have beaten them by 50 if the starters played past 4min in the 2nd.

Baylor is a good BB team, and a quality road win come tourney time in my mind.

NC A@T, played, Miami, Tennessee, Pitt(or did you forget that already). WSU held them to 37pts, while they averaged over 60pts a game against those teams. NC A@T was held to their lowest point total since the shot clock was implemented in 1986. Also add to that the starters did not more the 3 min after halftime, when it was 55-20.

I do not care who you play, if you lead the Nation in giving up points per game, your are legit. Just ask Gonzaga how much they liked being held to their lowest point total in a decade.

We are 12-0, so bring on the Pac-10.

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