Office Hours: Semester #1 Winds Down

By David Scott - December 01, 2007


With the semester winding down, The Professor is often reminded of just how hectic things get in these days leading up to the first snow on our Northeast campus. We spent Saturday in The Vault (aka TD BankNorth Garden) and by the time we emerged after two entertaining and compelling college basketball games, the world of college athletics had once again gone kerfluey.

It sure was a lot quieter sitting mere feet away from the UConn and Providence pep bands than it was listening to the BCS BS late Saturday and early Sunday. There was more cacophonous spin on BCS Sunday -- and from fewer coaches -- than in an entire decade of Selection Sunday snubs. ESPN's "SportsCenter" became a call-in show as a parade of desperate coaches tried to argue for why their team was deserving of "title" game inclusion.

Thankfully we were too busy grading the 'hoops' to get overly entwined in the 'whoops' that is college football.

Remember, Finals start next week and classroom participation is 35 percent of your grade. Speak up, be heard and comment (below) like you mean it...

A+: Gonzaga and Jeremy Pargo
You start to sense the Zags are really all done with the cute and cuddly mid-major thing. Have been for sometime, we'd surmise.

"He didn't 'slip' through," rebuffed Mark Few upon The Professor's ignornat suggestion that "Fewey" really lucked out in landing Chicago point guard Jeremy Pargo back in 2005. "(Assistant coach) Tommy Lloyd did a great job of just hanging with it. Everybody told us we were crazy to think we'd get a guy out of Chicago. He's a great fit. He's a Gonzaga Guy. He's a warrior. He's a team guy. I mean he's got goals down the road, but he's a team guy first."

Is he ever. Pargo, a junior, scored a team-high 23 points - most of the hard-driving, fearless variety - dished out a team-best five assists and grabbed four rebounds on his way to game MVP honors in the Zags hard-earned 85-82 win over UConn.

Pargo attacked the hoop, sat back and drained jumpers (4 of 7 from beyond the arc) and one time, we swear, he floated underneath the backboard from the left block to the right and placed in a lay-up.

Oh, and he absorbed enough fouls to lead all players with 10 charity stripe visits in a physical contest that averaged a blown whistle every minute (42 combined fouls). Fearless doesn't begin to describe the 6-2, 219-pound Pargo.

"Knowing that you're going to get hit some time (when you drive to the hoop) you just have to take your medicine," said the colorful Pargo. "Knowing that some bigger guys are going to be there and you just play hard and tough, no matter what. I think I thrive in situations where guys are chipping at me the whole time. There was chipping going on back and forth and I think that kind of helped us as a team."

Chipping?

"Talking," explained Pargo. "All in friendly fun," said the junior, whose brother Jannero plays with the New Orleans in the NBA. "I have no clue who it was."

No matter. Pargo - who had dreamed of playing for North Carolina - will be chipping last and loudest if he keeps giving the Zags performances like Saturday's.

"A lot of guys in Chicago didn't want me to leave (and come) so far away," said Pargo, who also admitted to thinking the Spokane school was in California. "They came in kind of late but it worked out for the best, that's all I can say.

"And now, the people that told me it was a bad decision are all over me right now (saying) 'Great job, great decision,' blah, blah, blah," he said. "And all in the back of my head, I know exactly how they felt."

F: 2009 Final Four Logo
Why does a basketball tournament have a hockey puck in its logo? Oh, it's a tire? Okay.

[PAUSE]

Why does a basketball tournament have a tire in its logo? Because it's Detroit? Okay.

[PAUSE]

Thanks, now we're convinced that Detroit will be the worst Final Four site ever. Even worse than the Meadowlands experiment that resulted in lane closures and hotel crunches of ridiculous proportion in greater Manhattan. You have one chance to make a first impression and the Flaming Puck will be hard to erase. Where's the basketball? You might as well just throw all the automaker's logo on the thing and quit the charade.

B-Minus: Providence College
They had an "A" first 20 minutes; a "D" next 18 and then an "A-Plus" final seven with a 98-89 win over Boston College. Tim Welsh remained remarkably cool and collected as his team salvaged an important win for the intriguing Friars. Weyinmi Efejuku - alternately infuriating and invigorating - was 6 of 13 from the field, had a team-high three turnovers but sent the game into OT with a top -of-the-arc 3-pointer. He also had four assists and nine rebounds to secure game MVP honors from the corporate sponsor.

A: Rich Gotham, Celtics President and Providence College Alum
With The Hartford Hoop Hall Classic being held in his team's arena, Gotham was able to give his school a bit of an edge by granting the Friars the Celtics locker room for the afternoon. "Yeah, he did that for us," said PC head man, Tim Welsh. "He's a great guy. We appreciated that."

The other teams were given auxiliary locker rooms absent the comfy Celtics-logoed chairs and the aura that all of the sudden emanates form the home locker room of the NBA's best team.

C-Minus: UConn
In what was the first of potentially many Exasperated Jim Calhouns, the Husky head man couldn't even muster the words to explain his frustration for his team's sloppiness and its inability to execute. It was a familiar face of Calhoun, who had several frustrating games last season that both tried his patience and enraged his belly.

It was a sharp contrast from Calhoun in his team's only prior loss this season, against Memphis at Madison Square Garden. After that game, in which the Huskies fought back and played competitively for much of the contest, Calhoun seemed to appreciate the "good loss" his emerging team had experienced.

On Saturday, with his team installed as a slight favorite, the Huskies were careless, out of sync and unable to sustain an early outburst. Hasheem Thabeet continues to be a work-in-progress and a consistent, legit outside shooter hasn't emerged, although AJ Price and jerome Dyson continue to provide sparks.

Inc.: Bobby Knight
A week filled with more static than he probably deserved ended oddly on Saturday as Knight didn't return from halftime for his team's second half against Centenary in Boosier City, Louisiana. The Red Raiders lost, but mystery shrouded the Incomplete game for Knight and the school said Knight had returned to the team hotel after feeling ill. Pat Knight later described the reason his dad left early as "flu-like symptoms."

However, according the AP, "Before leaving, Knight had a brief confrontation with about two dozen Centenary fans who were baiting him. He stopped and walked back, pointing his finger.

'We came here to play Centenary. Just think about that,' Knight said, an apparent reference to Centenary being the nation's smallest Division I basketball school, with 910 students."

Knight is reportedly fine and won't miss any further time with his team.

B: Basketball Hall of Fame
The Hall put on quite a doubleheader at the new Garden and unlike a lot of the pre-season tournaments/doubleheaders, this one wasn't played in front of family and friends only. There were some logistical, behind-the-scenes issues that didn't affect the overall product and it wouldn't be a bad idea to keep the event in Boston for good, considering the proximity to the Hall and the need for an injection of major college hoops in the area.

"Obviously there's so much more media out here," said Mark few, in discussing the experience. "It can't do anythibut help. . . it mimics the NCAA tournament too. It's a big arena, a big time opponent on a quasi-neutral floor and that's what the NCAA tournament's all about."

F: College Basketball in Los Angeles
Sorry. visiting-LA-Professor Herwitt, but what could have been a marquee day for the city's elite hoops programs turned into Black Sunday as both USC (to Kansas) and UCLA (to Texas) could not hold homecourt in the Big 12/Pac 10 Hardwood.

The UCLA-Texas game, in particular, could very well be re-matched during March and if it is, it will be a classic for sure.

Posted by David Scott at 11:25 PM on December 01, 2007
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