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November 2006 Archives

Wednesday, 11/29/06

The Woodshed

When I was a junior and senior at the University of Connecticut I was privileged enough to be one of the voices of the men’s and women’s basketball team on the student radio station WHUS. The first or second game I ever attended was the opening of the 1994-1995 season in which the women’s team-who would finish undefeated and win their first national title that year-hosted Morgan State in an out of conference tilt. The final score was 107-27, a blood letting the likes of which I had not seen before and have not witnessed since. A couple of years later they would hold Loyola (MD) to 22 points and have even held conference opponents to under 30 at various times.

This used to be much more common then it is now in women’s basketball. Over the years, as the sport has become more popular the talent gap has closed between the top flight teams and the bottom feeders.

Though getting torched by 80 points or more must be absolutely demoralizing for the loser it’s kind of fun as a fan. Last night in men’s hoops there were two eye-popping games not unlike the Huskies trouncing of Morgan State all those years ago. Florida held Southern University to 27 points without Corey Brewer holding the Jaguars to the lowest point total by an opponent since the inception of the shot clock Farther west the team that beat the Gators just the other day, Kansas had a similar experience with Ivy League foe Dartmouth who did manage to break 30 in losing 83-32.

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Posted by at 01:01 PM |

Monday, 11/27/06

We Are a Party of Five

I just received a media advisory for a conference call featuring Matthew McConaughey and Matthew Fox to promote the movie "We Are Marshall" which tells of the events surrounding the 1970 plane crash that claimed the lives of 75 members of the Marshall football team. The movie is getting a lot of publicity but I'm not sure I could be on a conference call with Matthew Fox and not ask about, well, other things. and I'm not talking about Lost a show that I have never watched not because I don't think it's good but because my current schedule precludes me from watching a lot of primetime television. No, to me Matthew Fox will always be Charlie Salinger the earnest and dutiful older brother in the highly acclaimed Party of Five (1994-2000).

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Posted by at 04:45 PM | Comments (1)

Tuesday, 11/21/06

Being All They Can Be

Duke beat up Air Force last night in the semifinals of the CBE Classic in Kansas City but the Falcons are a team worth taking a look at anyway.

For Jeff Bzdelik's team success begins and ends with how well they shoot the three-pointer. Against the Dukies they hit just 5 of 21 from beyond the arc, hence the 71-56 loss but take a look at their two previous games and you get an idea of how tough they can be when the shots are falling. The Falcons went to Stanford and to Colorado and won by a combined 74 points on the strength of 47 percent shooting from beyond the arc. They blew the Cardinal out by 40 points at Maples Pavilion, hitting 13 three-pointers just days after barely slipping past Long Beach State on a sub par shooting night.

With Nick Welch back from the foot injury that kept him out last season and Jacob Burtschi also returning for his senior year this is a team that could put a scare in somebody come NCAA Tournament time. In the past they have struggled to get at-large bids because they play a weak out of conference schedule but this year they have Stanford, Colorado, Duke, Texas Tech, Wake Forest and George Washington on their slate to go along with the Norfolk State, Texas Pan American and Arkansas-Pine Bluff games.

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Posted by at 11:02 AM |

Friday, 11/17/06

I give a hoot

At the beginning of this football season I pitched an idea for a feature. We should do a piece on Major Applewhite I said, explaining that the former quarterback at Texas had become the offensive coordinator at Rice where he and head coach Todd Graham would attempt to resurrect a program that won just a single game last season. When the piece was cut and ready to go I warned producer that they had better run it soon because after the Owls first four games the fun would be over for Applewhite.

Rice faced Houston, UCLA, Texas and Florida State in their first four games. I'll be honest with you; I thought they were going to set a record of some sort for points given up. I believe my exact words were if the combined score of those games is anything less then 200-14 in favor of the Owls opponents it would have to be considered a moral victory for the Houston school. Well they did lose all four games by a combined score of 164-60 which would make it, in my book at least, a moral victory. What I didn't know was that being outscored by 104 points was the start of something really good.

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Posted by at 05:38 PM |

Friday, 11/17/06

What would you do for a million dollars?

Every once in a while you come across a story that exposes college sports for the big-money grab that it is. I remember writing a column a few years ago about the new arena that had been built for the Missouri basketball team. At the time it was called the Paige Sports Arena after a Wal-Mart heiress named Paige Laurie whose parents gave the school millions in donations to build it. There was something that felt dirty to me about the whole thing right from the start. I couldn't think of Missouri or watch a game in their arena and not conjure an image of some spoiled billionaire in those oversized Gucci sunglasses that every girl ever to appear on Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County wears, smacking her gum and relating some vapid story about her fauxhawked boyfriend talking to another girl at a party.

"My dad got me a BMW for graduation and a trip to Cabo, do you know what you’re getting?" asks Kyndra checking her blackberry and picking through her watercress salad.

"An arena, it seats 15,000 and they're all chair back!"

Eventually the school changed the name when young Paige was accused of cheating her way through college, paying a woman $20,000 over three years to write papers and complete assignments for her.

Several years on we have another naming controversy with a slightly more entertaining twist.

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Posted by at 11:20 AM |

Thursday, 11/16/06

Hoops thoughts

I was asked while getting some coffee the other day who my surprise college basketball team is this season and I responded with Baylor who I've written about before in this space. Well last night I got to actual see them play, against Gonzaga, and came away thinking they may be a little young to challenge the top teams in the country but they are perfectly capable of a top half finish in a mediocre Big 12.

All of the Bears acclaimed young players looked like they could play at least as often as they looked confused and out of place against a team like Gonzaga. Henry Dugat dropped in 16 and Kevin Rogers had 12 points and seven rebounds, even McDonalds All-American "Tweety" Carter hit a pair of three pointers. The most disappointing thing to watch was the offensive ineffectiveness of Aaron Bruce the team’s oldest and most experienced player. Bruce did total 11 assists but he didn't score a single point. This is a guy who averaged 18.2 ppg as a freshman and just over 13 as a sophomore. He needs to be a consistent presence for that team if they are to live up to expectations.

Another problem was the defense; the Zags shot 53 percent from the floor.

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Posted by at 03:42 PM |

Wednesday, 11/15/06

Knight Club

I am no fan of Bob Knight but let's get one thing clear. The only reason anyone cares about this newest incident is because ESPN is telling us to care. Sports fans have very few choices when it comes to these things and as a result what the boys in Bristol say tends to go.

Bob Knight is not a good guy. He's mean, he hates the media, he yells at officials and he throws chairs across floors but what he did the other night was no worse then what other coaches have done in piques of rage. Someday soon Bob Knight will pass Dean Smith as college basketball's all-time winningest coach, then he'll retire and then-FINALLY!-we won't have to talk about him anymore.

Posted by at 03:40 PM |

Wednesday, 11/15/06

Hokies Pokies

I don't even know what that title means; I can't come up with good ones every time. What am I the NY Post?

Anywho I was scrolling through the college hoops scoreboard from last night and noticed that Virginia Tech moved to 2-0 with a win over Western Florida. Okay so it's Western Florida and the first win was over Coppin State but the general consensus seems to be that Seth Greenberg's team could be pretty good this year and when you look at what happened on and off the court last season it's hard to argue.

The Hokies return three legit scorers in Zabian Dowdell, Jamon Gordon and Coleman Collins but none of them lead the team in scoring after two games. That honor belongs to Sophomore A.D. Vassallo who dropped 26 on the mighty Argonauts last night. Vassallo was twice ACC rookie of the week last year and showed flashed of being a special player including a 29 point, 10 rebound performance against Wake Forest. If he emerges as another option for Va Tech they will be tough for anyone in the ACC to stop.

Somewhere Bimbo Coles is smiling.

Posted by at 02:28 PM |

Tuesday, 11/14/06

For Your Consideration

I have a very distinct memory in the fall of my sophomore year in college of looking forward to the Saturday edition of the campus newspaper. You see my sophomore year was Steve McNair's senior year at Alcorn State and because of the ridiculous numbers he put up the box scores of the games were frequently included on the sports page and they were entertaining. It was like a big jumble of misprints, numbers that could not possibly be right. 587 yards? 8 touchdowns? Are you kidding me?

I don't get the campus newspaper anymore, though I do get an email version every morning, but I have to imagine that if they have a sports editor with similar tastes to the one that was there when I was on campus students have been enjoying the exploits of Hawaii's Colt Brennan.

The Warriors are quietly 8-2 and as usual have elected to stay close to home and play in the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl because, when you live in Hawaii, why would you possibly leave.

"Hello Coach Jones, this is Bill Smith from the GMAC Bo--CLICK--Hello coach?"

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Posted by at 11:05 AM |

Thursday, 11/09/06

Big East all around

Headed to New Brunswick tonight for the Rutgers-Louisville game and still trying to figure out where my rooting interests lie. I went to UConn so I should hate both teams equally but Louisville hasn't been in the league that long and Rutgers has so rarely been on the radar it's tough to build up much enmity for them. A co-worker who hails from Louisville gave me a hat and I promised I would wear it so I guess I'm going with the Cards.

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Posted by at 11:57 AM |

Tuesday, 11/07/06

Go Out and Vote!

It's really important so do it!

Okay enough of that. College basketball season is just hours from getting underway and my hometown team the Vermont Catamounts get things kicked off tonight in a game against New Orleans as part of the 2K Sports College Hoops Classic being played in College Park, Maryland. There was a time when it would have been unfathomable to consider UVM to be a power in their conference but that seems to be what has happened. Of course until recently they shared the conference with the likes of Northeastern, Drexel and Delaware programs they just could not compete with given their non-existent recruiting base. But in the last few years those schools have gone to bigger conferences and the Catamounts have flourished. Most people thought they would start to struggle again once Tom Brennan retired but Mike Lonergan has done an admirable job with what was left over from the team that famously ousted Syracuse in the 2005 NCAA tournament. They start this season picked to finish thirds in the America East. It begins tonight with New Orleans and the unenviable task of guarding Bo McCalebb who averaged nearly 23 points per contest two years ago and was headed for similar numbers last year before a wrist injury sidelined him for the season.

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Posted by at 12:10 PM |

Wednesday, 11/01/06

Bears in the Big 12

When you talk about Big 12 men’s basketball this season the conversation begins and ends with three teams.

Kansas, Texas and Texas A&M are without question the class of this league. After that it’s more or less wide open and that could mean good things if you’re wearing green and gold. It’s been a long couple of years for Baylor basketball but with some solid returnees and a few precocious youngsters they could be ready to make an appearance in the Top half of the conference.

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Posted by at 07:31 PM |
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