Friday, March 26, 2010

Sweet 16: Friday Thoughts

Tennessee's victory over Ohio State basically means no one will get all the Final Four teams right. Maybe someone had Michigan State but I doubt it. No matter what we'll get the lowest seed in the Final Four since George Mason in 2006.

Evan Turner played a great game, he even invoked the rare "smell the onions" from Raf.

Very impressed with Tennessee. They really don't have a lot of great players, but they win the games.

I'm so happy Wayne Chism got rid of that headband, so long as he refused to wear it properly.

I still want Bruce Pearl to do something outrageous or funny though.

Baylor completely laid the smack down on St. Mary's. Kind of embarrassing. And once again proof that upsets are nice but sometimes they lead to mismatches down the road.

At one point Baylor led 54-19, a 35 point lead, and almost triple SMU's score, shocking considering it happened in the second half.

I know Baylor can play great aggressive defense, but they don't normally shoot that well. Tweety and LaceDarius shot 7-13 from downtown.

Omar Samhan had a decent game with 15 and 9 but it just didn't matter, Baylor was too good on this night.

Sweet 16: Thursday Thoughts

Another great game in what has become a legendary tournament. Kansas State over Xavier in double overtime. A great back and forth between 2 great backcourts. Kansas State’s Denis Clemente and Jacob Pullen combined for 53 points and Xavier’s Terrell Hollway and Jordan Crawford combining for 58.

Crawford (whose name will soon be changed to “Jordan Crawford the guy who dunked on LeBron) had the onions moment of the night when he nailed a 3-pointer from waaaaaaay downtown (bang!) to tie it up with four seconds left in the first overtime.

But it never would have gotten that far if not for a lucky break for Xavier at the end of regulation. There’s always a big debate about fouling when you’re up three to put your opponent on the line instead of giving up a prayer of a three. Clemente tried to grab Holloway but the refs didn’t call it. By the time Chris Merriwether got to him he was in his shooting motion and drew the shooting foul. Holloway made all three which takes some onions in a the final seconds of 3-point game.

We finally got the Gus Johnson we’ve been waiting for all tournament. He was in peak form during this game.

I think I may start a Facebook group called “Onions! Ha HA! Get Bill Raftery and Gus Johnson on the same announce team.” I would watch the 5-3 game from Smist’s high school if those two guys were doing the broadcasting.

Cornell doesn't see too many players like John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins in the Ivy League.

They took a 10-2 lead with about 15 left in the first half. With 12 minutes left in the second they were down 38-21. That's 23 minutes and 11 points.

Everyone talked about how Cornell was for real because they can shoot it, especially from the outside. Well they didn't make those shots (5-21 from 3) against Kentucky. And I think a lot of that has to do with Kentucky's defense.

Great run for Cornell but they just can't compete with a team with that much athleticism.

Cornell lost 5 games this season to Kansas, Kentucky, Syracuse and Penn. Regular season RPI numbers 1, 2, 5 and 299. The other loss was Seton Hall, #60.

I didn't see much of the West Virginia-Washington game but I think without Truck Bryant the Mountaineers will not be able to beat Kentucky.

The Dome didn't seem as empty as I thought it would be. It didn't become a national story like I thought it would but it definitely filled up with disappointed people after the Syracuse game ended.

Cornell was up 10-2, then down 38-21, a 36-11 run over a 23 minute span

Bad End to a Good Year

Turnovers, turnovers, turnovers. 18 of them, 12 in the first half.

Rick Jackson was only credited (blamed?) with three of them but it sure seemed like more. It felt like every time he got the ball he got nervous and would lose it, telegraph his pass or chuck it into a crowd. It almost would have been better had he fouled out because at least they wouldn't have tried to get the ball inside if DeShonte Riley had been in there.

Wes Johnson played another good game but he may lack the killer instint, the necessary selfishness to be an absolute take-over "give me the ball and go to hell" type of player in the NBA. We needed him to go be the inside in the inside-outside games with Rautins but he didn't really get himself into the low post.

But all those first half troubles aside SU came back and took the lead at 40-39 and then again at 54-50. It was at that time I started to believe. We were hitting every shot and suffocating Butler and I thought we were close to breaking their spirit.

But then the ghost of Jim Boeheim reared its ugly head, up 4 with the ball Scoop killed 25 seconds of clock the chucked up a three without a pass or an attempted drive. Too early to waste a trip.

The next three possessions were a jacked 3 by Rautins, a drive into the defense by Scoop and the drive where Rautins got stripped and instead of going after the ball he went after the foul call. He got neither.

Over that span Butler hit a 3 when Scoop didn't get out on the shooter, Howard spun around Jackson and then another 3 from the corner off the backboard. That's the way the ball bounces sometimes.

it's a shame to see Andy Rautins go out like this. He was a great player and a fan favorite, and as much as I love Wes Johnson and Carmelo Anthony for the one year we had them there's something special about seeing a scrawny 18-year-old boy and watching him grow into a man over five years to become a pretty awesome player.

It seems like scouts think Rautins is a late second round pick at best with a marginal NBA career but I think he could turn into a decent pro. He can shoot, he can pass, he has decent size for a 2 guard and his quickness might be questionable I think he's gotten strong enough to play NBA caliber defense.

This loss was also a shame for Arinze Onuaku who also blossomed into a pretty good player (if you don't count that he shoots free throws like a 3rd grade girl) during his time at SU. I'm still a little puzzled why he wasn't able to go if it was just a muscle strain. We definitely could have used him to at least post up and kick out for the shooters.

I love Scoop Jardine. Yes he makes some bad plays at times but he has a decent outside shot but he can also get to the basket and for the most part he knows when to do what.

Scoop will lead next year's team along with his NBA Jam partner Kris Joseph and his high school sweetheart Rick Jackson. Brandon Triche will probably play point but I really don't see a lot of potential. They'll be joined by a couple good recruits including 7-foot Fab Melo.

I bet DeShonte Riley ends up transferring this summer or next. I just don't see how Boeheim is going to find playing time for 2 7-footers and Rick Jackson.

To sum up the year, the 2009-2010 season was sort of like "Full Metal Jacket." You weren't expecting anything, it started off great and had a puzzling and incredibly disappointing ending. But when we talk about them we remember the good lines/good times and realize we may have to wait a very long time to see another movie/team as good as this one again.

A Bit of an Overreaction

As I was walking to work I saw a guy in a nice suit running after a cab. It got stopped at a red light so he was able to catch it and he starts pounding on the window.
He's yelling "you better watch it, you almost ran me over, I'll fuckin kill you."
Then he walks in front of the cab and writes down its license and medallion number.
The light turns green but the cab can't go because this guy is standing right in front of it.
He finally steps out of the way, and the cab drives off. As it passes the guy, he spits on the window.
I bet he is a Syracuse alum.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

What Should I Wear Tonight?

As I was picking out my tournament wardrobe I noticed I had quite a lot of selections to choose from. This partial assemblage shows 9 t-shirts and 2 jerseys. I know there are more somewhere.

Syacuse Needs a Fan Like This

During Kansas's big game earlier this month against Kansas State, among those spotted in the stands was porn star Samantha Ryan.
Kansas assistant coach Kurtis Townsend gave her the tickets, and she tweeted a promising thank you along with a picture of her posing with the Kansas Jayhawk mascot.

Such spirit is admirable. But, really, could you expect anything less from an award-winning actress -- Adult Video News' selection for best group sex scene -- in the immortal Butt Pirates of the Caribbean.

What do we know about Samantha Ryan's college fandom? Well, she wanted to spend her 32nd birthday in Lawrence, Kan., and she's still upset at Roy Williams for leaving, "Roy was center of our world when I was @ KU but he left @ a time that broke our hearts. Poor timing was like a stab n back," Ryan tweeted. Later, she tweeted Bill Self was a modern-day Superman, "Plus, Self has carried on the tradition even better than Williams did so in the end, it's all about BILL SELF! Woot!"

Almost as woot-worthy as Ms. Ryan's turn as director in 2007. Her film debut Sorority Sluts: Iota Eta Pi proved that college and porn go together like milk and cookies.

Townsend has caught a little heat over this, probably from Mrs. Townsend but Ryan said "Samantha" wasn't the one who got the tickets. She was on a plane as a regular person, not her porn star alter ego, and struck up a conversation with him.

Luckily the athletic department is backing him up:

"He was trying to be a good guy to a KU alum, and he was," Associate Athletics Director Jim Marchiony said. "That kind of thing happens to all of us in athletics. Many times your reaction is, 'Hey, yeah. Give me a call and if there are tickets available they are available."

Samantha Ryan could be a better and more willing recruiting tool than Ashley Judd

Last Year on the Poop

Last year on the Poop I posted this classic video of Al Maguire dancing with the Syracuse Orangemen after they beat Kansas to advance to the Final Four in 1996. Watch it once for Al Maguire, then go back to look for Donovan McNabb. And let's hope we get a similarly memorable postgame interview on Saturday.

Global Warming Smackdown

I think I have made my opinion of global warming somewhat clear on this blog.
I truly believe the earth is getting warmer or has gotten warmer, that part engenders little debate.
Where the debate comes in is how fast its happening, if its reversing, if it can reverse and most important who and what is causing it.
Personally, I think very little is caused manmade, and recent evidence is making that seem more likely.
But as a responsible citizen of the world, and as a nod to Pascal's Wager I'm a diligent recycler and light-turner off-er.
If everyone took the small steps I have taken that have zero impact on their lives, we'd be better off.
But then again I think everyone should be like me in regards to just about everything.

Which brings me to my next point, I've often made fun of Al Gore, because I like making fun of fat people and because I normally reject hysteria of any kind.

It's seems like Gore (and the rest of the world) has M√ľnchausen syndrome. They want the world to be sick so they can fix it. And if they have to falsify some documents and some science to do it, they will because to them the ends justify the means. Similar to the fake story that got Dan Rather fired from CBS News.

This all brings me to a great debate on the O'Reilly Factor between Bill Nye the Science Guy and the Muscle-Bound Meteorologist Joe Bastardi, the best thing to come out of Penn State since Peachy Paterno ice cream.

Watch and learn, watch-and-learners:

Some really interesting points here, but here's my favorite. If the earth was really cold in the 70s, so cold in fact that scientists predicted a coming ice age, all our recent measurements are based on comparisons to the coldest time on record, distorting just how warm the earth really is now.

The other big thing, which I'm still not sure about is the effect of CO2 on temperature.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Brilliant Opportunity the Knicks Missed

Note: I got this idea from a letter to Bill Simmons but since The Concierge says its possible to get a patent for an existing product, I'm running with it.

Earlier this season, on November 6th, while the Knicks still had Jerome James they hosted LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The Knicks should have paid Jerome James during the offseason to change his uniform number from #31 to #23.

On that date they should have held Jerome James replica jersey night.

Imagine it, 19,763 fans in #23 Knicks jerseys with James on the back.

That would have been the greatest recruiting tool possible and there isn't a damn thing the NBA could do about it, though I'm sure the Cavs would have filed a tampering complaint.

The fact that the Knicks spent three years preparing for this and didn't think of that really upsets me.

I'm Always Looking on the Bright Side and the Backside

I've written about the breast implant indicator before, which says that cosmetic surgeries like breast implants decrease during bad economic times.

2009 was a rough year for boob jobs, but breast augmentation beat out liposuction as the most popular surgical procedure for the second year in a row. Breast augmentations numbered 311,957 last year, down 12% from 2008; liposuctions numbered 283,735, down 17%.

fewer women are spending the money to get huge knockers

Two surgeries are surging in popularity. Buttock lifts, which involve reshaping of the bottom, increased 25% to 3,024 procedures, and buttock augmentations increased 37%, to 4,996.

but more women want to have giant

Song of the Week

"Too Close" - Next
Not sure how I made it through nearly 200 songs without selecting this one, one of my favorites of all-time but I heard it the other day on the radio in the car and decided to rectify that as soon as possible.
I love that the video starts off with a few bars of "Butta Love" which is one of a million songs/artists I told JLeary I hated only to later fall in love with.

Leave My Madness Alone!

Most times when faced with a big decision it’s best to do so without emotion. But in this case, I recommend making up your mind right now. We just watched perhaps the greatest first weekend in NCAA Tournament history. And yet, for some reason there is big push to make a major change to the tournament.

Here’s why it’s stupid:

1) The tournament is perfect the way it is. I know that sounds like when your parents told you “because I said so,” but it’s an important point. We’ve finally found something that everyone agrees is great and we want to change it, for what?

a) For the deserving teams that get left out. Partially true, but that’s the beauty of it. Good teams should get left out. That’s what makes it worth fighting for. If only bad teams were left out, it wouldn’t be as special. Looking very carefully at the bubble this year, every single team that missed the tournament had at least a couple losses that makes me not feel sorry for their exclusion.

b) For the money. I haven’t heard anyone official say this, but people assume this is the reason. I cannot see anyway an extra round will make more money. You would have more teams traveling to more places and no one (you hear me, no one) will go to these games. Did you see the crowds at the first round games? Empty. Who would go see the 96th best team in the country? And CBS likely won’t pay one red cent more to broadcast games no one wants to see. And ESPN? That’s possible but if the contract went to ESPN it would likely be for a lot less, and it might come at the expense of the women’s tournament. I just don’t see a big financial reward from this, it could even be a loss (though it would kill the existing money-losing tournaments the NIT and CBI).

c) For the keeeeeds. College presidents will say another 300 or so young people will get the chance to get the experience to play in the NCAA Tournament. You can’t really argue with that one the most you can say is the NC-Double-Assholes are being disingenuous.

d) For the mid-majors. Yes, 31 extra teams would definitely add a lot more teams from the mid-majors, and even a few of those smaller conferences whose regular season winners lose in their conference tournaments will get two bids. But mostly those bids will continue to fatten up the power conferences. Every .500 team from a power conference gets into the NIT, that will continue to happen if 96 teams make it.

e) For the coaches. This could be the real reason. A lower bar for getting into the tournament means more bids and coaches keeping their jobs longer.

f) For history. I've actually heard people argue that because there have been several expansions to the tournament all of which were harshly criticized then roundly accepted as positive. Someone needs to read about the law of diminishing returns. Adding more teams at this point (at least 31 of them, I could live with 3) would not only make the new games meaningless it would hurt interest and excitement for once we got down to 64. And would it mean that in 2040 or thereabouts we'd have to expand to 128 and 30 years after that to 256?

2) The games wouldn’t be any good. I know they don’t consider the fans but look at it this way, the 64-65 matchup that nobody pays attention to now would be the featured matchup under this new format. Though as mentioned above, those teams would be bumped to 95 and 96 and two mediocre big conference teams like Cincinnati and Arizona State would get those spots.

3) It’s a logistical nightmare. Would these 31 new games all take place on Tuesday and Wednesday? Where? 32 games at 4 sites would have to be four per day. A logistical nightmare unless they extend the tournament an entire week, which they will never do, so they could start it earlier and get rid of conference tournaments, which is unlikely because those do make money, because they're meaningful. At least they were meaningful until everyone got in.

4) Brackets will be ruined. Forget the prurient gambling, the NCAA shouldn't worry about that. But they should be interested in keeping this great tradition alive because it builds interest in the tournament. And there's nothing wrong with that. And there's no way pools will be as good with 96 teams, one day to fill them out and how will that even fit on one piece of paper?

5) The regular season will be meaningless. The conference tournaments have done a great job of this but this would finish the job. Teams would have absolutely no reason to schedule anyone difficult out-of-conference. Look at it this way, you can play 10 cupcakes, 2 decent teams, finish 10-2 then enter conference play and go 6-10 (7-11 in Big East) and not even have to sweat it out on Selection Sunday.

But the most important reason is number 1: it's perfect the way it is.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

NCAA Tournament Thoughts: Sunday

See separate post for Syracuse's domination of Gonzaga.

I slept through most of these games and had to fast forward to catch up on the action so basically all I saw was the two down-to-the wire games, Michigan State over Maryland and Purdue over Texas ATM.

Michigan State blew a big lead then held off hard charging Maryland. In the final 40 seconds there were four made baskets and 4 lead changes. First Greivis Vazquez, who is fuckin incredible hit a jumper, then he answered Draymond Green's basket with another one on a series of incredible dribbles. But his efforts were wiped out as the crosscourt pass that almost hit his teammate in the head found the hands of Korie Luscious who nailed a huge 3 for the victory.

But the injury to Kalin Lucas (achilles) that allowed Maryland back in the game (they smothered the Spartans with the press) will likely cost them against Northern Iowa or perhaps Ohio State down the road. They just aren't a very good team without him and he is out 4 to 6 months.

The other great game was an overtime thriller in which Purdue taught Michigan State a thing or two about winning without your best player. Chris Kramer stepped up to knock of Texas ATM. Only thing is, his basket came with 4 seconds left, making it nowhere near as exciting as the Michigan State game.

When is someone going to point out that Pittsburgh underperforms in the tournament every single year? Is it Jamie Dixon's fault? Is the style of play to blame? Or are they just an undertalented team that works hard and overachieves during the regular season?

Those white kids from Cornell sure can shoot. But I have a feeling they are going to get a rude awakening from Kentucky. The spread is 10, but I'd take the Wildcats by 20. Cornell isn't going to get those open shots against a much more athletic team.

But with Syracuse and Cornell in the Sweet 16, and Kentucky and West Virginia playing in the Dome, Central New York is the college basketball capital of the world. Too bad Siena couldn't make it an NY trio.

Duke was written off at the beginning of this tournament as people tried to avoid going all chalk by picking someone else from that region. But this Duke team is different than previous underachieving versions in that they have a lot of size and don't get pushed around as easily. I still expect them to falter against Baylor.

Conferences are getting a lot of attention and people are killing the Big East. Yes, 6 of the conferences 8 teams lost 5 of them in upsets. But that doesn't detract from what the conference did all year. Was Kansas not the best team all season just because they lost? I know one team losing is more of a fluke, and less telling than 6 teams losing but still, the Big East is very strong, just had a bad weekend.

Three potential Cinderellas are still around. I don't count Washington because an underachieving team with a lot of talent from a big conference just doesn't have that cuddly feel to it. So I look #9 Northern Iowa, #10 St. Mary's and #12 Cornell. As I said earlier I don't think Cornell has a prayer against Kentucky. I don't think St. Mary's will beat Baylor because they will guard Samhan a little more aggressively and probably shut down the open looks for SMU's shooters as well. But I will say I think Northern Iowa will beat a Lucas-less Michigan State team and face Ohio State for the chance to become the next George Mason.

Seems Like He's Ready

This weekend we began potty-training Chase.
Our pediatrician told us to wait until he showed signs of being ready for it and we think these three things he did recently are the hints we needed:
1) Mid-poop he looked at me and said "Poopies coming out of my butt daddy"
2) He actually told us he had to Poop and made it to the potty in time for a successful poop and received his M&M reward
3) He was too late with the next poop but before we knew was happened he had removed his pants, and his diaper, got on his stool and dumped the poop in the toilet. He even wiped his ass (with his shirt). And he expected M&Ms for this.

So the potty training started Saturday. It's a three-day method that requires Mrs. Poop to basically be looking at him every second for signs he has to go. He's been doing pretty well, but he's not quite there yet, only a few accidents each day and no gross poop stories, so we think he's doing all right. It was supposed to have clicked by now and we can't say for sure if it has, but he is definitely on the right track.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Syracuse vs. Gonzaga: Second Round

Another dominating performance by the Syracuse Orange absolutely eviscerating the Gonzaga Bulldogs from the opening tip.

We completely took Gus Johnson out of both of our games this weekend. We didn’t even get one “haHA!” out him I don’t think. He did have one dynamite drop-in calling Rick Jackson “The Ruler.” But I don’t think anyone but Bill and I noticed. Though Juice might be chuckling now. Gus will get another chance as he is broadcasting the West Regional.

There were a few tense moments early in the game when Rick Jackson picked up his second foul. Stupidly Boeheim left him in the game and after failing to block out and allowing an offensive rebound Jackson committed his third foul with 9 minutes left in the first half.

Luckily DeShonte Riley came in and filled the void on defense. His offense though was another matter entirely. On his first three touches he airballed a 3, traveled and got the ball stripped. It was funny because as soon as he came in Billy lamented the fact that SU had no interior presence on offense. Riley did eventually pull his head out of his ass and made a sweet pass to set up a Brandon Triche layup.

But we didn’t need Riley because we were shooting so well from the outside. Wes Johnson’s hand obviously isn’t hurting anymore he hit 11 of 16 overall and 4 of 6 from 3-point range. It seems quite likely his hand injury and his shooting slump were related.

Rautins added 24 points on 5 of 9 from downtown. I love that little white guy.

I hope we get Onuaku back but if the rest of the team plays that way we may not need him.

There will be tougher opponents, there will be teams with better big men, there will be teams with better perimeter D and there will be nights when the team doesn’t shoot that well, but when Syracuse plays the way they did against Gonzaga, no one, except maybe Kentucky.

It also helped that Gonzaga made only 3 for 21 3-pointers. After the game Boeheim basically said you can’t beat the zone shooting that poorly and if you do you will lose.

Up next, another set of Bulldogs, the Butler Bulldogs. That game starts at 7:07 pm on Thursday night which works out well for me since I'll be able to watch the entire thing before going to work.

But it doesn't work out quite as well for some people in Syracuse. Anyone who bought tickets to the Sweet 16 in Syracuse has either two choices: miss the Syracuse game, or don't go to the Dome until it's over. A few years ago the NCAA abolished the rule preventing host teams from playing at the same time as the games they are hosting. This is not just a screw-the-fans thing. I have a feeling the first game Thursday night (West Virginia vs. Washington) will be mostly empty until the crowd files in for Kentucky-Cornell. Unless SU students can sell their tickets to Cornell students.

One more note from Skypeing with Billy: The hardest part is getting our TVs lined up so we are reacting to the same things at the same time. I paused my TV and got it right in line with Billy's and told him we were in sync. Like always. Two seconds later the ubiquitous commercial promoting the 60 Minutes story on the Bryan Brothers came on and said "they're always in sync." Billy and I cracked up, Al got a little nervous.

What Do You Give Me For? John Thain and Clark Kent

What do you give me for CIT CEO John Thain and Clark Kent?

Rate This Joke

This is Michelle "Bombshell" McGee. She's the woman Jesse James was banging while Sandra Bullock was away filming "The Blind Side."
I bet McGee isn't a very good poker player because you can read her face.