Saturday, March 28, 2015

Notre Dame's Only Hope

Desperate times call for desperate measures and even before the game tips off Notre Dame is in desperation mode.
When you're playing any opponent, the best strategy is to neutralize their strength. Kentucky's biggest strength: interior defense.
How do you neutralize that? You don't go inside. And Notre Dame is equipped to do that because they have so many good 3-point shooters.
Pat Connaughton (43%), Demitius Jackson (43%), VJ Beachem (42%), Steve Vasturia (41%) and Jerian Grant (32%) can all makes shots from outside.
So I would put Zach Auguste and the middle and station 4 other players around the arc and bomb nothing but 3-pointers. Try to get hot early, try to get some long offense rebounds, try to get Towns, Cauley-Stein and Lyles out of their comfort zone. It might sound crazy but I think it's their best chance to win.

Tournament Thoughts: Sweet 16 Friday

Every time I've seen them play I've really liked Gonzaga.

I love everything about Pangos except for his hair.

Przemek Karnowski is the Polish Jake Voskuhl. With the conditioning of Matt Stainbrook.

Love Donatos Sabonis. He looks like he could be a star. A shame we'll never know what his father could have been if he had been allowed to play in the NBA in his prime.

How many times do you think he's heard the Not Your-Vidas, Not My-Vidas, he's Ar-Vidas?

After Louisville kicked Chris Jones off the team he is accused of raping one girl, in the ass, and with two other guys, forcing a second girl into unwanted oral and vaginal sex. Nice guy.

Valiant effort by NC State they just couldn't make the plays at the end.

Last time I ever listen to Mike Francesa. I thought Louisville wasn't very good and when he said he thought they would go out early, he just sounded so sure. So I picked them to lose in the first round. You see how well that worked out.

I normally don't buy that crap that teams have to adjust to shooting in domes and big stadia, because I have a lifetime of evidence of Syracuse home games to disprove that, but Duke and Utah certainly took long enough to make a field goal.

We've mentioned this before this tournament but you can definitely see that Duke has more athleticism this year than they have had in the recent past. I'd even put this team above the 2010 title team in terms of ability to run the floor.

I'm a little concerned about Okafor's defense on the NBA level. I saw a couple times Utah's big guys put the moves on him.

Delon Wright did not live up to his billing this game.

I hate these arena setups where the floor is elevated and you have to step down to get o the bench. I realize it's necessary in these huge arenas, but it's still silly.

Michigan State was 3 of 10 from the line, but Valentine and Trice nailed 4 down the stretch when they needed to.

Love Tom Izzo. The guy just wins in the tournament. But this does not mean they were underseeded. Michigan State lost 10 games this season, including 0-6 against top 40 teams until the Big Ten tournament, when they beat Maryland. They were 23 in the RPI which favors them for playing such a tough schedule. So 6 or 7 was a fair seeding, 5 or 8 would be a stretch. You can seed a team based on how awesome their coach is in the tournament.

Although this bracket didn't turn out as we planned, a Louisville-Michigan State matchup is pretty interesting.

And even though tonight's games weren't that great, I think we have 2 great matchups to look forward to on Sunday.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Nicest Thing Ever

Even Damino will have to leave a nice comment on this post.
In his will Dean Smith left $200 to every varsity letterman, whom he coached, 180 in all. The executor of Coach Smith's will sent a check and a letter explaining the Coach's wishes.
The one below was sent to one of Billy's all-time favorite Tar Heels, Dante Calabria.

The letter reads, in part:

"Each player was important and special to Coach Smith and when he prepared his estate plan, Coach wanted to reach out to each of his lettermen. Accordingly, Coach directed that following his passing each letterman be sent a two hundred dollar ($200.00) check with the message "enjoy a dinner out compliments of Coach Dean Smith." Enclosed is a check in the amount of two hundred dollars ($200.00) with the notation "Dinner out".

180 lettermen, $200 each, equals $36,000. Pretty generous and very classy of the Coach who must have planned this long ago because his health and mental acuity declined rapidly in his final years.

I hope the UNC players receiving this benefit will follow the lead of the coach and do something better with the money than enjoy a dinner out. Maybe Michael Jordan could invite all the players to a dinner to remember their coach and donate $36,000 to charity in his name.

Tournament Thoughts - Sweet 16 Thursday

For all the talk about how bad the play in college basketball has become, Wichita State and Notre Dame play a good game with passing and shooting.

Fred Vanvleet is a fun player with a fun name. Though if he were my friend I would call him Derf.

Zach Auguste got himself a fresh new haircut during the days off.

I am totally against the kill the ball with a lead strategy (I called it the Jim Boeheim Memorial No Points Offense because it kills him all the time) but with a 14 point lead and 3 minutes to go, it seems the prudent approach.

Tokoto sounds like an Indian tribe.

I know I said this last year but Traevon Jackson is the son of Jimmy Jackson and looks just like him.

Wisconsin won this game during that brief stretch when they were down 7, then came back with 6 quick. Not allowing the game to get out of hand makes a huge strategical difference in how the game is played.

Great try by Marcus Paige. Almost single-handedly kept them in the game late.

That noise you hear is a bunch of Daminos cheering. Not only are Damino's and Big Kev's alma maters still in it, North Carolina is not.

Also, I really didn't think Big Kev was old enough to go to college yet.

I love L.A. Aaron Rodgers and Olivia Munn in the crowd rooting on Wisconsin.

Fresh pair of kicks worn by an unnamed North Carolina player. They're brand Jordan so it isn't a big surprise but the Ram on the side is pretty cool.

Kentucky vs. West Virginia is one of the biggest dominations in the history of the tournament. You expect to see a 16 seed get beaten like this in the first round. Not a 5 seed from a major conference in the Sweet 16.

West Virginia scored 18 points in the first half, and 1 for the first 8 minutes of the second.

Just an absolute slaughter.

Billy wants to add Billy Dee Williams to his all-name team.

I make fun of Matt Stainbrook's appearance, but he actually is a pretty good player. But I think his lack of conditioning slows Xavier down at times.

He also did the funniest flop when he got whacked in the face.

Good game between Arizona and Xavier, Arizona just made a couple more plays down the stretch.

I hate to see plays like the one that really ended this game, Davis drives into the lane with no intention to do anything other than draw a foul. He just tried to run into Hollis-Jefferson and hope for the best, when he backed off Davis was in no position to even put up a shot. Draw a play, run something, set some screens, don't count on the refs to bail you out.

Some good games tonight, nothing spectacular and all four favorites (by seeding not spread) won their games. We may see some more upheaval tomorrow night. I hope so because I have Michigan State beating Oklahoma.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

I'd Hate to Be the Person Who Made This Mistake

I often criticize the Associated Press for occasional dumb shit, but for the most part they do an incredibly hard job, very well.
Not this time.
Here is the write through for the arrest of Robert Durst:

NEW ORLEANS (AP) – A Louisiana State Police trooper says millionaire Robert Durst has been booked on weapons charges in that state – on top of a first-degree murder charge lodged by Los Angeles authorities. Trooper Melissa Matey told the Associated Press that an arrest warrant was issued for the former Limp Bizkit frontman and he was rebooked in the Orleans Parish Jail on Monday under two new charges.

Here is the subsequent correction:

In the second item of the California 10th NewsMinute sent March 16 to users of the state broadcast wire, The Associated Press reported erroneously that Robert Durst is a member of a band. He is a real estate heir; Fred Durst is the former frontman of Limp Bizkit.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Farewell to the GOAT of Crooked Fingers

Philadelphia Eagles legend Chuck Bednarik died this week at the age of 89.
He is known for three things:
1) he was the last player to play both offense and defense regularly in the NFL
2) he knocked out Frank Gifford, causing Gifford to miss a year and a half, and then stood over his stiff body

3) he was generally a tough son of a bitch. He is Godfather of the mangled finger. Anthony Munoz, Charles Mann, Alan Page and our own beloved Billy have Bednarik to thank for the glory he brought to hideously unaligned fingers.

Song of the Week

"Grazing in the Grass" - Friends of Distinction
Mrs. Poop was incredulous that there was a song about grazing in the grass but it's true and there's good reason for it. The song was first an instrumental by Jazz great Hugh Masekela (who also plays the flugelhorn, making him a flugelhornist according to his Wikipedia), and the father of Sal Masekela whom you may have seen on ESPN over the years, and whose Wikipedia says he lived in Staten Island for part of his youth.
But back to the song, a year after Masekela released it, the Friends of Distinction got a hold of it added some lyrics, trying to keep with the theme, similar to what the Sugar Hill Gang did with "Apache" (SOTW, 8/22/2007).

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

A Man After My Own Heart

If you've ever covered a sporting event (very few of you have) you would know that reporters are furnished with a sheet of quotes from the postgame press conference. So who compiles those quotes? A courtroom style stenographer.
Wisconsin's Nigel Hayes decided to have some fun with her.
In response to the first question he said “Before I answer that question, I would like to say a few words: cattywampus, onomatopoeia and antidisestablishmentarianism. Now, back to your question.”
When asked why he did that Hayes responded “She [the stenographer] does an amazing job of typing words, sometimes if words are not in her dictionary, maybe if I say soliloquy right now, she may have to work a little bit harder to type that word, or quandary, zephyr, xylophone, things like that, that make her job really interesting.”
Apparently Hayes, Frank Kaminsky and Sam Dekker were fascinated with the stenographer and her machine from the previous day.

Funny thing is, none of this would have gotten out, if not for the stenographer.

Story suggested by Billy

Monday, March 23, 2015

What an Embarrassment

Syracuse's run in the NCAA tournament ended in bitter defeat against the Gamecocks of South Carolina, on the Cocks home floor.
They were just bigger, faster and better.
But the Orange gave a valiant effort, especially Alexis Peterson who followed up her 24 points against Nebraska in the first round with 23 more, most of them coming on reckless drives to the basket against South Carolina's bigger front line.
The Orange have played their hearts out and ended a great season with a loss to a great team, a serious title contender.
And they conduct themselves like true student-athletes, no failed drug tests, no fabricated grades, no booster at the YWCA (to my knowledge) while constantly showing great effort and emotion.
The women's program (unlike the men's) is improving every year and given the prominence of the ACC, they will get opportunities to draw top recruits and consistently compete against the best teams in the country.
And a lot of this has to do with Coach Quentin Hillsman who is a good coach, and you can tell he cares deeply about his players.
So what is embarrassing about that?
Nothing, except this shirt:

Ok, so it doesn't look that bad with the jacket on, but trust me, once he took the jacket off, it was terrible.

Tournament Thoughts: Second Round Sunday

Sometimes it's hard to tell the difference between good defense and horrible shooting. I actually think we've had equal helpings of both from Virginia and Michigan State.

Also the referees have done a poor job. The game has been very physical, at some points they allowed a lot of it, then at other times they whistled everything.

Someone needs to school these guys about the 18-foot jump shot. It is the worst shot in basketball. So inefficient. You don't make it with the consistency of dunks and layups, and you don't get as many points as you would if you moved back 2 feet.

Both teams going huge stretches without a field goal. Not only bad offense, but the fact that every time someone goes to shoot, they refs call a foul, some of which really were fouls.

Trice got carried away with himself. Made a huge 3, then took a long 2 with his feet on the line (worst shot) and 20 seconds left on the shot clock. There's no need for it.

And that is why I always pick Michigan State. They have a great tournament history. They're the anti-Villanova.

Also historically I have a tremendous record in selecting the correct #2 seed to lose in the second round. It happens almost every year and very often I'm right on it, but too often I have the wrong team beating them.

Dominant performance by Duke. I really think they're a different team this year. They have athletes and big men, and they were fast-breaking whenever possible.

Ron Baker is not making Mrs. Poop's All-Hair team but she concedes is current style is a big improvement over what he was rocking in high school.

If you're going to pull off a big upset you need to shoot the ball well. Wichita St. hit so many 3s I thought they were playing Syracuse.

Kansas was just driving recklessly and hoping for fouls/rebounds/lucky rolls, while the Shockers were passing the ball around and shooting the lights out.

As you know I hate storylines that have nothing to do with the game. So you can bet I am already sick of the narrative that says Wichita St. beat Kansas fueled by the disrespect of the Jayhawks refusing to play them.

The Kansas cheerleaders got into this Sunflower State showdown, rocking sunflowers in their hair.

I understand this was the biggest game in the history of the state of Kansas. But really, was there much competition for that title.

Speaking of storylines I'm sick of, Dayton, home court advantage, and even Archie Miller. I think his wife rubbed me the wrong way last year when they beat Syracuse. To repeat, I don't think the home state advantage had too much impact on the game (more so against Boise State than against Providence) but I think the NCAA should have avoided it just for the sake of appearances.

I really like Buddy Hield aka Buddy Love. Good player and fun guy.

I wonder if Archie will go watch Arizona. I know their dad will.

I wonder where Kevin Pangos ranks on Billy's list of favorite Gonaga players. Probably behind Richie Frahm and ahead of Blake Stepp. ANd way ahead of Adam Morrison, who is in last.

Doug Gottlieb said some unpleasant things about the city of Syracuse, but I can't really disagree with him.

Notice how Oregon's program has gotten so much better since Ernie Kent got fired.

Bo Ryan always looks so angry. He should cheer up. He was a good team. They could really be on collision course for 3 tough games in a row if they can win the first two, UNC, Arizona and then Kentucky. If they win those they might actually catch a softer opponent in the National Final.

If Louisville is shooting 50% against you, you aren't playing good enough defense.

Maryland vs. West Virginia an old fashioned ACC-Big East matchup. A new fangled Big Ten-Big XII matchup.

Maryland's Richaud Pack dyed his hair blonde last week. His aunt died, and she was a lifelong blonde, so to honor her Pack and other family members went blonde. A local sportscaster joined the Pack family.

A real shame that Melo Trimble got rocked two times in the second half. Hard to put a kid back in there after two possibly concussive incidents. But its hard to beat a team like West Virginia without your point guard.

So I picked 4 upsets in the first round, Buffalo over West Virginia, Wofford over Arkansas, Texas over Butler and UC-Irvine over Louisville. Not only did I get all 4 of those wrong, 3 of those teams won their second game and went to the Sweet 16 completely screwing me.

Louisville looked much better than I had seen them all season. Maybe Pitino is like Tom Izzo, knows how to get his teams to win in the tournament.

Disappointing ending to a fun first weekend.

Here's what I'm looking forward to next week: some real challenges for Kentucky. A Wisconsin-Arizona matchup, as well as Duke-Gonzaga, hope they both happen. I would also love to see NC State and Michigan State in the regional. No matter who gets there, it should be fun.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Tournament Thoughts: Second Round Saturday

To repeat: this is the second round. Those first four games are not the first round, I do not care what the committee tries to sell me.

Billie must not have been watching UCLA very much recently or he surely would have remarked on the awesome uniform patches commemorating Wooden and his Pyramid of Success. But he died 5 years ago, how long are they going to honor him?

Now we get to hear about how UCLA proved their critics wrong, which is bullshit because 1) people weren't saying they weren't good enough to win, just that they didn't deserve a bid based on their regular season performance 2) they got a lucky call against SMU 3) they got a favorable draw against UAB and 4) the tournament is a total crapshoot.

If there were momentum that ferocious dunk by Willie Cauley-Stein could have shifted it. He just demolished the poor dude that got in his way.

Fresh off of being ejected in the last game, Octavius Ellis didn't let that curtail his instigating ways. He actually drew a technical from one of the Harrisons who gave him a bump and a shove.

But Kentucky is just too good. Their defense is good but Cincinnati also kept their own score down by holding the ball.

I really think they have a better than 75% chance of going 40-0 and becoming an all-time great team.

I didn't watch any of Arizona's first game versus Texas Southern because it was such a blowout, but you can see why people are picking them to upset Kentucky. They certainly have the talent.

Xavier has Miles Davis. I bet he's cool. And if he has to play ball in Europe after graduation, I wonder if they will call him Kilometers Davis.

Coach Hunter is certainly taking advantage of his moment in the sun. Upset victory, unusual injury, son on the team. He is not turning down any interviews.

But RJ Hunter can play.

Matt Stainbrook looks like the fat kid at summer camp who has to play just cuz he's the biggest kid. He's got the doughy physique, the t-shirt under his uniform, the glasses, just looks dorky and unathletic. But he has a really cool story. He graduated in four years, so this year he is taking classes towards his MBA. His brother is also on the team and somehow Matt gave up his scholarship so Tim could have it. Apparently graduate school only costs 1/3 what Tim would have to pay for undergrad.

And since he's not on scholarship, Matt can get a job. So he drives for Uber. He said at some point he was doing 20 to 25 hours a week.

But he's reportedly down about 30 pounds (and some hair) from when he arrived at Xavier.

Speaking of hair, Mrs. Poop put TJ Shipes on her real All-Hair team.

So long Ron Hunter's stool/knee scooter. We hardly knew ye.

Villanova has a horrible recent history in the tournament. They have made the tournament 5 of the past 6 years and haven't made the Sweet 16. After going to the Final Four in 2010, they lost as a 2 seed in the second round twice, and a one seed in the second round now. Plus two times in the first round 8/9 game. That is just putrid.

Cat Barbour is really good. So skinny and quick, but wiry and strong.

What a great game by Malik Abu. Thank you come again. (I know it's really Apu, but it's funny.)

Who can watch Utah play and not think of My Cousin Vinny?

I loved the pace of the Arkansas-North Carolina game. Apparently the refs got too tired after the first half so they decided to slow the game down in the second. They called a foul on anything that event looked like contact. Ruined a potentially great game.

Marcus Paige played awesome. He's a true point guard. Sets everyone else up but when it comes to winning time he takes the shots for himself.

Bobby Portis looks like a poor man's Chris Bosh.

There were 5 teams from Indiana in this tournament. All of them ended up in the same bracket. Indiana, Valpo and Purdue all lost, so it's Butler and Notre Dame for bragging rights.

Chase picked Butler because he likes Bertram the Butler from "Jessie." Julian picked Butler because they have the "butt" sound in their name.

Pat Conaughton's father is sitting right behind Jerome Bettis. And a couple row in front of Harvey Grant. Where Jerami at? (I know he's with the 76ers and actually playing pretty well.

I know it's a tough call to make at the end of a game, but Auguste absolutely double dribbled that ball. It was so blatantly obvious it had ot be called.

How do you leave two shooters wide open in the corner? You know that's their safety valve. I'd sooner leave a guy open at the top of the key. Terrible late game defense by Butler, but great execution by Notre Dame. You still gotta make the shots. Add the driving layup by Jerian Grant and they got 8 points in 3 possessions while simultaneously using a lot of time.

Great way to end the night with an overtime thriller.