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Shorts Stacks 3.31.09

March 31, 2009 Comments off

While the Chicago Sun Times files for bankruptcy…and as you wait for Google’s yearly April Fools’ joke… remember that some man was arrested for drunk driving on a bar stool… and you HAVE to check out this modernized telling of the Passover story… in Facebook form.

short stack iconJonathan Vilma’s apartment on Long Island was raided in connection to some drug beef that looks like it came out of a TV show (the reverse of “ripped from the headlines”): a Liberian immigrant with a suitcase filled with stolen cocaine or fake money, a body dumped in Paerdegat Basin, a person shot execution-style… how that ties in to the former Jets middle linebacker is unknown, but they were supposedly killed in his condo.

short stack iconRay Floriani, writing for College Chalk Talk, writes on Richmond’s run in the CBI, where they lost to UTEP (Texas El-Paso) in the semifinal game. He notes the ridiculously bad (30% of their possessions) turnover rate for St. John’s being the difference in the game… along with the inability to stop Richmond from hitting threes. Floriani also expresses hope that playing in the game helps St. John’s coach Norm Roberts, “one of the good guys,” as he calls him.

short stack iconHaters to the front! with this Louisville Courier-Journal article about how some question John Calipari’s recruiting and temper. I touched on this in the coaching candidates post, about how his players have not been class acts, even if (by some metrics) they do well in school. I thought Kentucky fetishized clean cut players… maybe not as much as winning. If someone in Wildcat country has a problem with the look of the kids – and even the occasional problem with graduating – they should get over it. Kids have tattoos, kids have swagger, and these kids win games. They’re not all going to be crew cut Adolph Rupp kids, and I’m sure those guys weren’t saints by any means. Though memory does have a way of sanctifying folks.

short stack iconMemphis boosters are working hard on getting Calipari to stay. Of course they are. Can they touch the reported 8 year, 35 million dollar offer? If Cal goes, will Roburt Sallie, Wes Witherspoon, and Angel Garcia leave? Inquiring recruiters want to know… and if Calipari leaves, the Memphis Commercial Appeal has some candidates to replace him… though Cal wants Tony Barbee, his former assistant coach now at UTEP, to replace him. Unofficially, a Kentucky TV station says Calipari is taking the Kentucky job.

short stack iconThe University of Virginia has hired Washington State coach Tony Bennett to pilot the Cavaliers’ men’s basketball team. Kind of a surprise – no runs at Jeff Capel or other prominent candidates, and a pretty quick, no-muss no-fuss hire. Bennett has not been a head coach for long, but has brought some talent to the talent-barren Wash State Cougar team. They play very, very slow, but they are crisp and NEVER turn the ball over. Sylven Landesberg could be an ace in this system… Is Portland State’s Ken Bone the man to keep the Cougars growling? Roaring? Do Cougars roar?

short stack iconAnd interestingly, from ESPN’s Andy Katz:

Siena’s Fran McCaffery hasn’t heard from any of the high-profile jobs but did get an e-mail from a search firm on the Boston University job…. McCaffery has no issues if he stays put. He said he should have a really good team again next season after the Saints won consecutive first-round NCAA tournament games, beating Vanderbilt and Ohio State in back-to-back tournaments.

There has to be a job opening that has Fran McCaffery’s name on it. Then again, the coaches who have moved have either been assistants (like Shaka Smart to Virginia Commonwealth) or have been major conference-level head coaches. So it’s not time for the mid-major guys who move up, yet.

Ashley Biden, CitiField Sliding, Final Four Arriving, and Guitar Hero Metallica

March 30, 2009 1 comment

Ashley Biden

Oh man. Ashley Biden (Joe’s daughter) has a “friend” trying to sell photos of her doing cocaine. Cue the "they did it to Bristol Palin" Republican crowd, the kind of people who prove our whole nation is filled with effing stupidity…

Word is coming out that Ashley Biden’s "friend" planted the camera out of sight. Nice work, tool. And which Presidential kids (Patti Davis, Dubya) DIDN’T do cocaine…? Dear America: rich kids still do lines. Photo taken from NY Post

And Northern Cali had an earthquake… thanks, Facebook friends for letting me know. The master of the end times, Glenn Beck, gets an article in the lib’rul New York Times…. Phantom Alert is software that allows your GPS to find red light and speed traps/ cameras so you can avoid them… a musical version of the movie Heathers is going to the stage – Kristen Bell has been reading for Winona Ryder’s role.

Now for Sports. College basketball links at the end.

* Thanks to Uni Watch I know about Google’s hosting of Life Magazine images from the 1860s through the 1970s. I could look at old photos for days, but this one of Tom Seaver crying gets me every time. Type in mets source:life in your google browser.

* There was a deadly stampede in an Ivory Coast/ Côte d’Ivoire football/ soccer match. 19 people died. I link to the BBC coverage because at least there, the comments below the article aren’t a-hole savages who say things like "typical black people" and "animals" and "Barack Obama blah blah hate" such… same stampedes happen worldwide when soccer is involved.

* In happier news, the US Women’s Professional Soccer League started play yesterday, and it was a solid game, a victory for the Los Angeles Sol. The Brazilian footballer Marta was quick as hell. The Fox Sports production left a little to be desired, and I’d like to hear better, more analytical announcing vs. "gosh this is historic!" talk (though both Jenn Hildreth and Mark Rogondino have some soccer/ football in their background), but I enjoyed watching it.

* Fans came out for the first game at CitiField, but the hometown St. John’s baseball team couldn’t beat Georgetown. FYI, the bathrooms are clean (quotes near end of article). I would hope, no one’s been in the freaking place yet.

* Wait, Spencer Hawes doesn’t suck? Even Shaq, the "Shogun of big men" is learning Hawes’ name.

College Basketball Links

* Get your Final Four storylines here! More analysis on the Final Four matchups by team.

* Video and analysis on how Michigan State’s offense wore out Louisville. I turned down the chance to go to this game, and boy, I should have stayed in Indianapolis! A pic or two of the games at Lucas Oil later this evening on the blog.

* Seth Curry is transferring from Liberty to Duke. He deserved better than some cut-rate non-basketball school in a low-level league. The education is far, far better in Durham. I hear at Duke, the girls are allowed to have sex, as well. In all seriousness, Duke, though? With guard after guard always coming in? And no big men to take the pressure off? Interesting, Steh Curry, interesting.

* Your 2009 college basketball All-Americans.

* Is Anthony Grant worth $2 million? Well, he doesn’t have the body of work that other coaches have, but $2 million ensures that Alabama won’t have to restructure his contract in a year if he does well. How the new Crimson Tide coach does will be interesting to watch, I’m rooting for him.

* The North Dakota State Bison men’s basketball team (who I had beating Kansas in my bracket, by the way) are volunteering along the Red River in Fargo, trying to stem the flood tide of the rising river.

And if you didn’t see the commercial over the weekend… Guitar hero Metallica commercial with Coach Mike Krzyzewski, Coach Bobby Knight, Coach Rick Pitino, and Coach Roy Williams.

Why Wouldn’t Calipari Go to Kentucky

March 30, 2009 Comments off

When I wrote the profiles of hot coaching candidates, there is one thing I didn’t think of – the dislike of Coach Billy Clyde Gillispie in Kentucky. So once he was fired, if any school was going to make a play for the best in the business, it would be Kentucky. And now, Kentucky put the money and the deal on the table for John Calipari.

There’s little to quibble about with Coach Cal, except for the air of impropriety that follows Mr. Calipari. In fact, he can be even more selective with the characters he brings in to another school; Calipari has not coached at one of the storied programs yet in his career. And I am sure – and this is no real dig at Kentucky – that when it comes to providing perks or contacting the parents of recruits with boosters, Kentucky knows how to not get caught.

It’s a win-win. A man who loves a big platform, knows how to market and gladhand? It’s a perfect union, Calipari and Kentucky. And in terms of wins and losses, if the SEC is anything like it is this year, his team might go undefeated in the conference again. Just for fun, he’ll probably use his higher profile and actually bring in a college player from China.

If Cal does sign, the Kentucky fanbase can start worrying about topping UCLA in the number of NCAA championships (yes, I know Cal’s never won one, but he is very close).

I’ll be surprised if Calipari stays at Memphis. And Memphis, we’ll see what they do, if they turn the reins over to some up and coming young buck like assistant coach Josh Pastner or if they bring in a new staff.

College Basketball Hot Seat: Billy Clyde, from this distance

March 26, 2009 Comments off

Man, he must have really acted like a jackass to get the Kentucky fans to throw him off the lawn in the Bluegrass State. Billy Clyde Gillispie says his fate is out of his hands, ridiculous rumors are flitting around the interwebs, like this one about Billy Donovan on a plane

Tough place to coach, that Kentucky. A different hoops world. Some say Kentucky has no choice, and I agree that at a certain point, the well’s just poisoned. But even if the coach is a turd and a half, he deserves a few years to recruit his guys!

Some St. John’s fans would love that kind of decisiveness; but New York fans and media are almost the same kind of attack dogs. And a lack of patience gives the idea that NYC doesn’t wait for a winner, which gets non-rebuilding efforts like the Layden and Isiah Thomas NY Knicks eras. And it gets people calling for the St. John’s head coaches’ job from his first year (even if the hire was curious at the time). Then again, anyone going to Kentucky knows you have to deal with, as Rush the Court so aptly puts it, the political side of the job. That is something Norm Roberts is very good at, even if his x’s and o’s are underwhelming. The administration would go through a wall to protect the coach.

It would be interesting to see if former UK player Travis Ford gets a sniff this time; he understands the culture down there and could thrive.

edit: As for Donovan, as my friend Martha says, his team has played in the NIT for TWO straight years… maybe he’s not the excellence that Kentucky is looking for.

Anthony Grant meeting with Alabama officials

March 25, 2009 Comments off

The University of Alabama has targeted Virginia Commonwealth’s Anthony Grant as the viable candidate in their coaching search, and they are having a second round of meetings now.

Read a little more on Anthony Grant here; this is an interesting turn of events. It’s great that they are targeting a candidate quickly, and I assume this means that Grant must be their man, or else they would wait on Mike Anderson and the weekend games. And having a coach in place gives him more time to try and attain those last-minute spring recruits.

Head in the Game, Lions Logo, Alex-Rod: A Link List!

March 24, 2009 Comments off

Hey, where’s the AIG facade? They’re changing the company name… The Onion on the Morning After Burrito, the contraceptimelt… Open up borders to skilled immigrants – opinion pieces in the Wall Street Journal and from the NY Times’ Thomas Friedman… some completely bizarre “perks” in Josh Freeze’s "pay what you will" pricing, especially compared to Radiohead – including lunch, a day at Disneyland, his Volvo, and the opportunity to have a song written about you… China’s central bank is talking about a new reserve currency

And now… sports.

+ Eric Devendorf – punk or not? Read the take on Rumors and Rants, and the take on Ballin’ Is a Habit (which is sensible). And a defense here. Personally, I just think his mind thinks of plays his body can’t finish; he’s gotten better at matching his actual talent with his imagined talent, but watching some of his drives, truer words were never spoken than Sean McDonough’s "Devendorf’s the kind of player that keeps both teams in the game."

+ Jonny Flynn’s going to return for his junior year, supposedly.

+ Pitt Blather will be hosting a roundtable discussion on Big East domination of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.

+ Patty Mills gets the best of Stephen Curry and the Davidson Wildcats in their matchup at St. Mary’s, which was the best NIT game I have seen since St. John’s beat Georgetown in 2003. And that wasn’t actually a good game. Mills has a far better supporting cast, and doesn’t turn the ball over 6 times in a game with a questionable dribble and ill-fated passes.

+ Is Steph Curry going pro? Is that the last we see of him?

+ The Big Lead rips on Gonzaga’s Austin Daye and his disappearing act on the court.

+ Missouri’s Mike Anderson’s trying to stay focused on the upcoming game against Memphis, and not on the talk of him possibly going to Alabama to coach the basketball team. He’s high on my list of coaches who might be switching jobs. CBS Sports reminds us that it would be much worse if he lied, instead of saying that he doesn’t want to talk about the future.

+ Alex Rodriguez. More high-end blonde hookers. Making fun of him is just boring at this point. At least he went to one of Eliot Spitzer’s trim suppliers.

+ The new women’s soccer league is confident despite the recession. I’ll be checking it out; women’s soccer in the US has to be better than the men’s pro league, MLS.

+ The corny new Lions logo. Dammit, I meant to keep opinion out of it. From mlive and profootballtalk-

Lions logo

2009 College Basketball Hot Seat: The Candidates, Part 2

March 22, 2009 1 comment

A continuation of the first coaching candidates post.

Tubby Smith (personal site, with some booty bass soundtrack?! PG-13 language as well.)

For some reason, folks think that Tubby wants to come back south. Tubby SmithNow, it is cold in Minnesota, but the man is building a great team again; and his time in the SEC was… well, I don’t know who would want to go back into that cauldron. Kentucky fans may be insane, but are Alabama fans much nicer, more patient? Well, probably, but still a long shot.  He’s got a pretty good gig, and he’s nearly 60.

Why So Sexy: He’s won at a 70% clip overall at Tulsa, Georgia, Kentucky, and now Minnesota.  He’s sent a number of players into the NBA as draft picks, won a national championship, and has gone to the NCAA Tournament 14 times in 18 years.
Drawbacks: The winning is nice, but Kentucky was dissatisfied with the lack of championship banners in Tubby Smith’s 10 years.  I don’t find much to quibble with, but those NBA players – the best of the lot would likely be Tayshaun Prince and Rajon Rondo – were vilified in the Bluegrass state for their inability to match expectations, especially on offense.  Is that Tubby’s recruiting, his player development, or just overly high expectations?
Good for: A team who has a lot of money and a private plane to lure Tubby out of Minneapolis… personally, I don’t see why he would go to yet another school, but money does talk.

Mike Anderson

The former assistant under Nolan Richardson at ArkansasMike Anderson Missouri1994 NCAA champions with their “40 minutes of hell” style of play – has instituted the fastest 40 minutes in basketball (really, Virginia Military is faster, but not by much). Mike Anderson’s team has had some struggles, but he is in the NCAA Tournament with Missouri, who hadn’t “gone dancing” since 2003.

Why So Sexy: Anderson has Missouri playing some great ball and in an exciting uptempo style. He utilizes a number of players, young and old. Anderson recruits guys who can play his system. The team’s defensive field goal percentage is excellent, but their turnover rate is more spectacular. They handle the ball well. He rebuilt a Missouri program at a low point, and coming off of some scandal.
Drawbacks: If big success in the NCAA Tournament requires 2-3 NBA players, then Mike Anderson – who hasn’t sent anyone to the top American professional basketball association – isn’t yet primed for the big success. His style took 3 years to institute at Missouri, a period that also featured a few arrests and nightclub incidents that schools hate to be involved with. But he never said he wouldn’t be interested in a return to, say, Alabama, where he coached (Alabama-Birmingham).
Good for: A team who needs excitement, hustle, and has a little patience – it might take a year or two to get the proper mix of precision and pressure working for the team.

Frank Haith (personal site)

Former Tom Izzo assistant Frank Haith is on this list in part because of a rumor that he is looking to Frank Haith Miamileave Miami, and might be a candidate at Alabama from CBS Sports. Now, I have no doubt that there is some truth to the rumor that Alabama is interested but…. Haith has a single NCAA appearance under his belt; his teams look like St. John’s on offense with much better players – little flow and a lot of physical hitting. There’s also the lack of a point guard… and the point guard they had getting arrested. Haith says he will absolutely return. We will see.

Why So Sexy: Haith’s team made a NCAA run last year. He has developed a nice rotation of tough, physical defenders who make scoring hard and don’t foul the other teams’ players; he has recruited some solid talent to a school that hasn’t often attracted quality players. The Hurricanes tend to rebound very well.
Drawbacks: They don’t have much point guard play and have not in a while. Frank Haith’s teams, while defensively tough, don’t pressure the ball enough, keeping them out of the elite chaos-bringing level of defense. Haith has only won 55% of his games. And yes, the ACC is a tough conference, but at least one year with single-digit losses would inspire more confidence in Haith’s ability to make a team elite.
Good for: A school that wants a tough, physical squad.

Reggie Theus

You may remember Reggie Theus from the Saturday morning NBC show Hang Time. Reggie TheusLet’s just get that out of the way right now, shall we? Theus is a good team ambassador and former Rick Pitino assistant. He coached at New Mexico State for a pair of years, with transfers and holdover talent like Elijah Ingram (booted from St. John’s in that great Pitt incident). They got to the NCAA Tournament, but they lost in the first round… and then Theus coached the Sacramento Kings.

Why So Sexy: Theus managed a 10 win improvement in the New Mexico State Aggies. He attracted some solid recruits (Herb Pope being one) and was looked at as the next coach of Creighton before Dana Altman decided to stay a Blue Jay. He coached a season and a half with the Sacramento Kings.
Drawbacks: Theus has kind of a flimsy college resume, and is an unknown quantity. His New Mexico State teams turned the ball over quite a bit. The NBA is a different game, but he only won 41% of their games.
Good for: A west coast team who wants a coach with extensive playing and media experience.

Fran McCaffery

Fran McCaffery gets some great performances from his Siena team. Fran McCafferyThis is the second straight year they are in the NCAA Tournament, and this is the second year they have made the second round, even coming from the small MAAC conference. McCaffery gets his teams to play fast, force some turnovers, and not foul. The amount that Siena doesn’t foul is truly amazing, and has been impressive for the last 3 years. Also, Fran is a Wharton grad and has a wife who really cares about basketball (that’s a serious plus in my mind).

Why So Sexy: He’s done very well in conference everywhere he has been. McCaffery has developed solid players at Siena, and they have beaten two major conference foes (to date) with the group of Ubiles, Franklin, Hasbrouck, and Rossiter. He knows his way around the prep schools in the northeast. McCaffery’s team can win shooting from outside and inside, depending on his talent. The Saints force turnovers.
Drawbacks: McCaffery’s teams have not been elite, but that might be a question of the level/ conference they play in. There is some question as to why Fran has not gone for a higher profile job, coaching at Lehigh, taking assistant jobs for 10 years, and then coaching at UNC-Greensboro and then at Siena. Then again, his career winning percentage is 57%; his winning percentage at Siena is much better – 65% – while willingly taking on the nation’s best competition.
Good for: A team who needs a very good coach who develops players, and doesn’t want to break the bank for a coach who is already at a school with deep pockets. Fran McCaffery is close to Virginia Athletic Director Craig Littlepage… which means that if St. John’s should remove the current head coach, there will be competition for McCaffery’s services.

Brian Gregory

The former Tom Izzo assistant has been with the Dayton Flyers for 6 seasons in his first head coaching stint. Brian Gregory DaytonAnd he has been very, very good. Actually, he’s been excellent, and then his teams have had some injury issues in 2006 and last year, where the Flyers were a legitimate top-25 team before Chris Wright‘s injury. Under Gregory, the Flyers have been tough and defense-oriented, much like Tom Izzo’s teams, but with more pressure. They speed the other team up and don’t get the ball stolen (though they do have a number of non-steal turnovers) and rebound well.

Why So Sexy: Brian Gregory’s teams are getting better and better every year, and he gets his players to play against the best teams in the country. They play an exciting style (10+ deep) and with the pressure they bring, they’re always in the game. They play pressure but usually they don’t play a helter-skelter fast style – they actually are in the lower half of Division I in pace, and have been for years.
Drawbacks: I suppose one never knows how well a coach can recruit high-level players until he is at a high-level basketball school, and Gregory’s only real marquee recruit is Chris Wright. This year’s team is a poor-shooting squad, and the free throw shooting for Dayton hasn’t been very good in Gregory’s tenure. In fact, his teams have been so-so shooters, non-elite defenders, and force fewer turnovers than one would think with their defensive style. As well, he hasn’t developed a quality big man in his time at Dayton.
Good for: A team who needs an up-and-coming coach with an ability to adapt to his personnel and coach some players up. Though he did just sign a contract extension. It is not on paper yet.

Jim Calhoun out for Opening Round Game

March 19, 2009 Comments off

CBS Sports reported on the online/ March Madness on Demand feed that Jim Calhoun will not coach tonight’s game against Chattanooga due to illness.

2009 College Basketball Hot Seat: More Fire – Leitao, Lowe

March 16, 2009 Comments off

Virginia’s Dave Leitao has resigned as head coach of the University of Virginia Cavaliers basketball team. We know he was asked to resign. There’s a quote from ACC rookie of the year Sylven Landesberg’s dad expressing regret… St. John’s fans, of course, hope Syl will come home and play for St. John’s. We can always hope.

And I am sure that, though the administration of DePaul doesn’t want him back, the Blue Demon faithful would take him in a heartbeat over who they have now.

I see an axe hanging over North Carolina State’s Sidney Lowe, as well… Both schools are willing to spend, even in these times of belt tightening. Check out profiles of some of the hotter coaching candidates, and comment freely.

CBS Sports Bloggers’ Blogpoll, Week 6

March 16, 2009 Comments off

The honest truth is that I don’t value conference tournaments very much. The spectacle of the best teams playing a knockout tournament, NCAA bids on the line, the cream rising to the top and all, sounds nice. Great for television. But watching an SEC Tournament final with Tennessee and Mississippi State (MS State won to earn a 13 seed in the tournament)? A Temple vs. Duquesne final in the Atlantic 10 (Temple won, got an 11 seed in the NCAA Tournament)? Clemson, Kansas, Oklahoma, Pittsburgh losing early in their conference tournaments?

You can’t tell me that Kansas is any worse than they were all year. Or Oklahoma has serious flaws. I have no data on this, but I think top teams sometimes just tank their conference tournaments. Not entirely; I don’t think the coach stands in front of his team and says "lay an egg out there, fellas, stink up the joint like you just had that too-spicy burrito."

But I do think that the effort is not equal for all teams. Maryland had a lot to gain by making it to the final; Clemson, a bit less. They’ve done enough, they’re in the tournament. For Pittsburgh, the same. And they get a benefit. Those teams who stop their conference run early get a few more days rest, a little less wear and tear, some time to go to class, or practice, or meet some trim, whatever it is they do with their non-practice time.

Conference championships are nice. But the NCAA tournament, doesn’t it pay more, benefit more, increase the school’s and coaches’ rep? There is much more incentive to save the legs for the "most wonderful time of the year" than there is for the conference championship.

So, as stated, I don’t value conference tournaments very much. And as such I won’t value them heavily in my rankings. To loosely paraphrase Denny Green, most of these teams are who we thought they were. You won’t see too much movement below.

Asides:

  • But I will give a little love to Louisville and Missouri. Syracuse‘s performance gets some major love as well.
  • And Clemson losing to Georgia Tech is the turd of all turd performances.
  • Wanted to give some love to Maryland, but I like all those other teams better.
  • Oh, crap. Illinois on the 5 line in the NCAA tournament… duhDUM.
  • That’s better than being in the CBI like St. John’s. Who is playing on the road at Richmond. On the road.
Rank Team Delta
1 Louisville 3
2 Pittsburgh 1
3 North Carolina 1
4 Connecticut 1
5 Oklahoma
6 Michigan St.
7 Duke 1
8 Memphis 2
9 Kansas 2
10 Villanova 1
11 Missouri 3
12 Washington
13 Wake Forest 4
14 UCLA 1
15 Purdue 4
16 Gonzaga
17 Syracuse 6
18 Illinois 1
19 Clemson 4
20 Marquette
21 Xavier 3
22 Arizona St.
23 Florida St. 1
24 Louisiana St. 3
25 West Virginia
Last week’s ballot

Dropped Out: Brigham Young (#22), New Mexico (#25).
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