Office Hours: Professor on Beale Street Edition

By David Scott - January 27, 2008

MEMPHIS -- You can still call us a "Visiting Professor" as we remain on Beale Street for a couple of days following the No. 1 Memphis Tigers 19th win of the season on Saturday against Gonzaga. We continue to digest some of the numbers from that one, chiefly the lines of each team's point guards.

Check this out:

Jeremy Pargo, Gonzaga: 25 points, 9 of 16 from the field, seven assists, two turnovers, two rebounds and two steals in 40 minutes

Derrick Rose, Memphis: 19 points, 6 of 12, nine assists, eight rebounds, four turnovers, one block and two steals.

I'd take either guy for The Professor's Touring Team and it's certainly about time that Big Game Pargo gets some of the credit he deserves as one of the most exciting point guards in the country. In games against UConn, Oklahoma and now Memphis, Pargo has had 23 points, 28 and 25 and has had at least five assists in each game. "My guy has got a lot of heart," said Pargo's coach, Mark Few. "He's as tough as they come. Usually the bigger the game, the better he is. He's got a lot of pride and he's not going to back down from anybody."

On to the grades:

A: Chicago Point Guards
See above. Both Rose, the freshman, and Pargo, the junior, are from Chicago. Rose starred at Simeon and Pargo at Robeson and both represented the Windy City quite well on Saturday.

A: Matt Causey, Georgia Tech
Quite a week for the former Tech walk-on and former Georgetown Hoya. Last Saturday he dropped 30 on Virginia Tech. In Wednesday's win over North Carolina State, the senior had 18 points (7 of 10 from the field) in 22 minutes. Then, in Sunday's overtime win at Virginia, Causey scored all 18 of his points in the second half and OT, including 12 of the Yellow Jackets' 16 in the extra session. (A solid profile of Causey was written by Matt Winkeljohn a couple of weeks ago.)

C: Dayton
The Flyers were soaring to start the season but have lost three in a row and will fall out of the Top 25 this week because of it. In fairness, Brian Gregory's team is playing without injured players Chris Wirght and Charles Little but to his credit, Gregory won't make excuses - especially after losing to Richmond.

"We can talk all we want about our situation, but it's what we are in and it's not going to change," Gregory said. "We cannot have difficulties in one aspect affect everything we do. No matter who is out there, we must defend and rebound. It's about how we choose to respond to adversity."

C: The Big East Conference
We're going to have to split this grade into a few different categories, sort of like the Verbal and Math portions of the SAT:

A: UConn, Louisville, Notre Dame and Georgetown
Four of the Top 5 teams in the league, the Huskies, Cardinals, Irish and the Hoyas are - for the most part - doing what they're supposed to do in conference play (and out). UConn's impressive win at Indiana on Saturday without the suspended duo of Jerome Dyson and Doug Wiggins (see below) brought the Huskies RPI to its highest position since November (now 24th through Saturday's games). Rick Pitino's Cardinals have won six of seven and face UConn on Monday night in a BIG Big Monday match-up. The Irish of Mike Brey have been up in down in their past four, but Saturday's win at Villanova helped elevate the Notre Dame RPI to 38 and Georgetown continues to be the class of the league.

F: Villanova, Pittsburgh and Providence
The Wildcats are falling apart before our very eyes, sitting at 3-4 in league play and losers of two straight (at Rutgers and home to Notre Dame). Likewise, the Panthers - who host 'Nova on Wednesday - are becoming more and more of an enigma, especially with their home loss to Rutgers. Meanwhile, Providence lost a tough one at Syracuse on Sunday to fall to 3-4 in league and combined with the week's earlier loss to Seton Hall, the Friars are now entering the territory of must-win conference contests at Notre Dame and home against West Virginia.

B: Jim Calhoun's Gushing
All that was missing from Calhoun's post-game presser at Indiana was a box of Kleenex and a trail of tears to lead him back to Storrs. Calhoun suspended his two players (Wiggins and Dyson) before the game and then verbally (and physically) hugged his remaining players after the game. The only thing Calhoun neglected to do was explain why he suspended his two players and that has already led to some ugly rumors. Still, the pure emotion from the ever-emotional Calhoun in his postgame is worth a look-see:

"This sweat that you see isn't from the game. It is from me hugging every single one of those kids. And quite frankly, they deserve more than a hug from me. They deserve one from the state of Connecticut. They deserve a hug from the university. They deserve a hug from our fans. And if you are a basketball enthusiast and you see a team that is limited, self-imposed certainly, in the players that are brought here against a terrific team. To do what we did is certainly the greatest win I've had and it's going to get up there since the national championship team beat Georgia Tech. It could even beat the Duke game where we came back from down seven.

"From the aspect of basketball and leaving and why I do this thing, when people respond that way. I'm not saying we don't have players, we do have players. Hasheem Thabeet made two blocks and 20 detour signs. They went in and left without the ball and him not blocking the shot. Jeff (Adrien) started off rough but came on like a soldier. Donnell Beverly did something that you can't ask a kid to do, having never played in a big game, to come in and give significant minutes. Sticks (Stanley Robinson) put Curtis (Kelly) at the three-position this morning at breakfast and he is normally our four-man. And what our kids did is one of those special things. The pride that I feel with them and the hugs that I gave to them are why athletic competition that brings out the things in people that are very, very special.

"Again, I think back to the national championship game and being down seven to Duke, it's on that plateau. My respect for Indiana, this building and all it represents...this is basketball heaven and I love every bit of it. To come in here when they have a 17-1 team with some terrific players and have our kids give everything they had. I was just hoping the clock would malfunction and go quicker. We were running out of gas, but we found enough inside of us. I know this a soliloquy and not a question and answer but this is how I feel right now. I feel so much pride in my kids and how they responded and did everything we asked them to do. I'll remember this for an awful, awful, awful long time."

Shawn James, Duquesne
The junior big man became just the 18th player in NCAA Division I history to post 400 career blocked shots as he recorded five blocks in the Dukes’ 92-67 win over George Washington on Saturday. James has 403 rejections in 72 career games (5.6 bpg).

A: Eric Bridgeland, Pepperdine
The interim Waves coach got his first win since taking over for Vance Walberg as Pepperdine beat Loyola Marymount, 87-64. It was Pepperdine's first WCC league win of the year and snapped a four-game losing streak for the Waves.

A-Plus: Run Hunter, IUPUI
The Jaguars' head coach received a ton of publicity and love for his efforts to amass shoes this past week and we'd be remiss not to praise Hunter's social conscience. He was aiming to get 40,000 pairs of shoes and at last count he had nearly tripled that number. Well done, Coach.

F: Crank Yankers on Conference Media Calls
A bunch of bozos infiltrated at least two leagues' weekly coaches' teleconference calls and then got widespread credit across the Internet for their alleged humor. Having sat through my share of teleconferences, I'd usually welcome a brief bit of comedy, but this was all done in poor taste, supposedly by a publicity-seeking radio station in Philadelphia. As UConn's Calhoun said, "I wish some people would get a life."

Don't we all?

Rook Look: Carl Landry, Houston.

A weekly check-in with a professional player who was toiling on a college campus last year at this time:

Landry, the 31st pick overall in last June's NBA Draft out of Purdue, has appeared in ten games for the Rockets and is averaging ten points per game in his last three contests where he has played 23, 15 and 14 minutes. Landry's been getting valuable minutes and making the most of them.

All of which will certainly make our guy, Jerry "Boilermaker" Palm quite happy.

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

Posted by David Scott at 08:28 PM on January 27, 2008

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