Office Hours: Undefeated No More Edition

By David Scott - February 25, 2008

MEMPHIS -- As has become The Professor's custom during our frequent trips to Elvistown this season, we are lingering for a few Sunday hours on Beale Street.

There's a noticeable sense of deflation around the city after the homestanding Tigers 66-62 loss to Tennessee on Saturday night. It's probably a combination of the literal and figurative hangover that comes after the state's biggest sporting event ever finally winds down after what seemed like a season-full of anticipation and hype. (Some of the residual results of the loss are being played out, as you'd expect, through anonymous commenters.)

But there's been more to this final full week of February hoops than Orange vs. Blue and Pearl vs. Cal (or Pearl Draping Erin Andrews in what could have been considered a Joe Namath moment if not for Pearl's adrenaline taking the place of Broadway's alcohol). Having just formally met Andrews at Memphis's Friday practice, The Professor can attest to an urge to D-Up the talented sideline reporter. . . in a friendly way, much like Sharon Mass.'s own Coach Pearl appeared to do.

Without further ado - and probably without three-quarters of our audience which is re-watching the Andrews hug - The Grade Book is now open. . .

A: J.P. Prince, Tennessee
The sophomore from Memphis came home on Saturday night and more than any player in Orange, he contributed to the end of Memphis's 47-game homecourt win streak. His second half especially - including a string of six straight points five minutes into the second stanza - helped propel the Vols to what will be the school's first-ever No. 1 ranking when the polls are released on Monday. With zero points, three rebounds and three turnovers in the first 20 minutes, Prince's homecoming was looking dismal until he turned it around with 13 second half points to go with five rebounds, a block, two steals and just one more turnover in 11 minutes (21 ffor the game).

D-Minus: The Atlantic 10 Conference
All of the league's stellar work in the non-conference schedule and all the talk of a possible five-bid season are long gone now, as the supposed top teams continue to falter down the stretch. URI and Dayton are on life-support for the NCAAs, UMass still has work to do as does St. Joe's. Xavier is the elite of the league and maybe the only truly deserving team at this point. Everyone else has a lot of work to do and a short time to do it.

F: Indiana Univeristy
There's little doubt that Kelvin Sampson had to be relieved of his coaching duties but the drawn out process, highlighted by a never-ending Friday of delayed announcements and rumors, has to leave doubt in everyone's mind as to the effectiveness of athletic director Rick Greenspan. The NCAA is big on "institutional control" and that control has to be seriously questioned in the wake of the Sampson fiasco.

A-Plus: The Mad Hoops Dudes Capturing the Vols Memphis Magic . . . From Both Perspectives

A: Jim Casciano, NJIT
The Highlanders completed their winless season at 0-29 on Saturday, but before they could Casciano resigned from his post earlier in the week with a 66-118 record in seven seasons at NJIT. He coached the final loss of the season to Utah Valley State. We give Casciano's his high mark because he was able to resign. How on earth does a coach go winless in 29 games and then get to quit? Casciano is either a genius or was nudged out the door, but regardless he went out on his own terms which is not something most winless coaches are ever able to do.

Well played, Coach.

C: Kansas State
Michael Beasley made his strongest claim yet to National Player of the Year honors with a Big 12 record 44 points on Saturday at Baylor. He and fellow freshman Bill Walker combined for 75 points and Beasley also had 13 rebounds, his 23rd double-double of the season, to break Carmelo Anthony's NCAA freshman record.

Beasley has three 40-point games, 10 contests with 30 points or more and 18 outings with at least 20 points and 10 rebounds. All three totals are more than any player in the nation.

Still, the Wildcats lost the game and fell to 18-8 (8-4 in the league) as they dropped their fourth straight road game. The end result is eye-popping numbers for two of the country's best freshmen but lingering concerns about their supporting cast.

A-Plus: Sun Studio, Memphis
There will be very few people that appreciate this, but just prior to our tour of this fantastic Memphis landmark, we ran into one of the legends of college basketball story-telling, Curry Kirkpatrick, in the gift shop. Dapper as always, Curry had a sweater draped over his shoulders and looked as tan and fit as ever. Curry's a unique talent, to say the least. And the Sun Studio tour is 40 minutes well-spent.

A: Kent State
The Golden Flashes got a buster of a Bracket Buster game, having to travel to St. Mary's. But they won it, moved to 23-5 and solidified their at-large resume.

"For us it was a great opportunity to play a ranked team in their building," said Kent coach Jim Christian. "St. Mary's is an excellent basketball team that I think will get to the postseason and do damage. For us it was a great opportunity to step up and solidify our season a little bit. But our whole goal is to win the MAC conference.

A: Kevin Frazier, Entertainment Tonight
The ex-ESPN talent and Morgan State assistant coach was on hand for the Saturday night game on assignment for ET and when we caught up with him pre-game (after he had sat down for an interview with Priscilla Presley) he was near-giddy in excitement over his good fortune of being in the house for the No. 1 vs. No. 2 match-up. "They gave me the assignment and said Priscilla will be at some game and that we'd be able to get her beforehand," said Frazier, who joined AT in 2004 after two years at ESPN. "I look down at the bottom of the interview information sheet and see that it's Memphis and Tennessee. I was like 'some game?' That's THE game."

Presley, if you need to know, is very petite in person and we tend to think she has some Nip/Tuck stories to tell in addition to some Jungle Room tales. Presley is scheduled for the next edition of "Dancing with the Stars."

A: Jimmy Kimmel
The "answer song" ditty paled in comparison to the original from Silverman/Damon, but the star power and spots of hilarity within the Kimmel/Affleck rebuttal are impressive.

The Professor skews more toward Letterman, but Kimmel has made some headway into our run-through of the Big Four of late night (along with Conan).

SYLLABUS ADDENDUM: Stretch run here folks - six weeks left of the 2007-08 season. Time to get serious with your studies and be the best-prepared College Hoops major in the department. Like your dribbling counterparts, you too are judged heavily by the final third of your season.

Material from wire stories and school and conference websites was used in the compilation of this column.

Posted by David Scott at 01:34 AM on February 25, 2008

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