Posted on: March 20, 2010 12:34 am
Edited on: March 20, 2010 12:37 am

NCAA Tournament Cliche #452: The Overlooked Team


Before you say anything: yes, I'm aware that Cal was higher-seeded than Louisville (8 to Louisville's 9), and yes, I know that general knowledge is that the Golden Bears were no slouch. But let's all be brutally honest with one another -- there were a lot of people who had already begun trying to figure out what would happen when Coach K faced Rick Pitino in a Duke/Louisville second round matchup. Because a lot of people assumed this was Louisville's game, even though the Cards had the higher seed. Don't deny it. I have eyes. I have ears. And I heard a lot of chatter about it, as did you.

Unfortunately, though, the Cardinals were going to have to get past Cal yet. And Cal had a unique station this season, the role of secret agent. You see, the Pac-10, by and large, was not very good this year. In fact, it was only expected to net one Tourney bid, and that was expected to go to Cal, which had won the regular season handily and was expected to win the Pac-10 tournament just as handily. That didn't happen, and Washington edged Cal out in the Pac-10 tournament, grabbing themselves a bid and bringing the number of Pac-10 dancers to two. 

So no one east of the Mississippi had much reason to regard Cal as much of a threat. After all, they didn't win their conference and were rarely televised in the east this season. And perhaps that's why while most people had heard of Cal hero Jerome Randle, who became the school's all-time leading scorer this season, very few knew that Randle had a key backup man in Theo Robertson, who netted 21 points tonight in a stellar performance. Even Cal's center Max Zhang, who is from China and whom I assume to be approximately 5,000 feet tall, was swattin' tonight.

I'm not saying Pitino didn't know about these guys. I'm sure his scouts had him prepared. I'm just saying that on the whole, these guys weren't on the radar much of the season. And tonight they showed Louisville just how good they are. Did the Cards overlook them with an eye on the Blue Devils? We'll never know. Just as we'll never know the outcome of the hypothetical Duke/Louisville game. But Louisville never had the lead the entire game, was down as many as 18 in the first half and as many as 15 in the second half. They clearly didn't know what to do with the Bears. A frustrated Pitino even got himself slapped with a technical with about five minutes left to go. It would certainly seem that Louisville -- who has been top-notch lately -- wasn't prepared for something like this. 

Your result? Cal 77. Louisville 62 and the Golden Bears will try their luck against Duke on Sunday. Let's just hope Duke doesn't make the same mistake Louisville may have made tonight. You best do your homework against this Cal team, you hear?
Category: NCAAB
Tags: Cal, Louisville, South
Posted on: March 11, 2010 9:42 am
Edited on: March 11, 2010 1:38 pm

Big East Day 2 Recap



5) Marquette 57, 13) St. John's 55
11) Cincinnati 69, 6) Louisville 66
7) Notre Dame 68, 10) Seton Hall 56
8) Georgetown 69, 9) South Florida 49


We probably should just go ahead and hand this award to whichever game Marquette is playing in for the rest of the tournament. 

An amazing 12 of the Golden Eagles' 19 games against Big East opponents have been decided by three points or less. Twelve one-possession games out of 19. That's unreal. 

After suffering close defeat after close defeat in the early part of the season, Marquette has now won six of the last seven games decided by a possession, including yesterday's second round Big East Tournament triumph over de facto host St. John's. 

"We were 2-5, and since that time we've been in one- and two-possession games," Marquette coach Buzz Williams said. "... Everything has changed. The whole deal is this, our margin of error has never changed. The games that we lost, the lessons we learned, are just as important as the games we won by one or two possessions as well."

Spurred on by the New York crowd, the Red Storm, ahem, stormed back from a 14-point first half deficit to take a 53-52 lead with a little over two minutes to play. But David "Call Me Daveed" Cubillan's three-pointer with 1:11 to play gave Marquette a 55-53 lead they wouldn't relinquish. 

The Golden Eagles move on to face No. 4 Villanova, a squad that twice beat them by two points in early January. St. John's, conversely, moves into an offseason that will - at least early on - be dominated by talk of head coach Norm Roberts' future. 


In one performance Notre Dame silenced both those who feel they don't belong in the NCAA Tournament and those who feel they're better off without Luke Harangody. 

Behind 'Gody's 20 points and 10 rebounds, the Irish dominated a desperate Seton Hall team from start-to-finish. Though Notre Dame's teams in the Mike Brey era have been mostly defined by their offense, this squad has played its way into the field of 65 with its defense. The latest evidence of the shift in philosophy came last night as the Pirates, who had dropped 109 in their tournament opener, managed just 56 points.

"We prided ourselves on being one of the leading scoring teams - a real fun team to watch when we're running and firing," Brey said of his old Notre Dame teams. "Those days are over. We had to do something different. We couldn't run it up and down the floor anymore."

The Fighting Irish will play second-seeded Pitt at 7 p.m. on Thursday night. 


Louisville continued its quest to refuse any and all possible momentum by following its emotional victory over No. 1 Syracuse up with a lackluster loss to 11-seed Cincinnati.

From left, Jaquon Parker, Lance Stephenson and Ibrahima Thomas lead the Cincinnati Bearcats past the Louisville Cardinals.

The Cardinals led by nine at the half but were outhustled, out-scrapped and out-rebounded in the second 20 minutes and fell in their tournament opener for the third time in five years. U of L was outrebounded 28-9 on the offensive glass and 54-33 overall. 


--Luke Harangody (Notre Dame) - 20 points, 10 rebounds

--Edgar Sosa (Louisville) - 28 points

--Lazar Hawyward (Marquette) - 20 points, 9 rebounds

--Dominique Jones (South Florida) - 21 points


"We didn't rebound the ball, so we go home early and waste a lot of boosters' money." --Rick Pitino 


Ladies and gentlemen, your top seeds: 

#1 Syracuse vs. #8 Georgetown (Noon)
#4 Villanova vs. #5 Marquette (2pm)
#2 Pittsburgh vs. #7 Notre Dame (7pm)
#3 West Virginia vs. #11 Cincinnati (9pm)

Posted on: March 11, 2010 12:23 am
Edited on: March 11, 2010 12:33 am

Bearcats serve blow to Louisville's seed

Thomas Beisner

12:00 AM

Twenty-three of Rick Pitino’s former players and assistants have gone on to hold their own NCAA head coaching jobs. Some have won national titles and some have flamed out. Only Mick Cronin, though, has shown up in a pink shirt and tie and made his former teacher pay under the watchful eye of Nick Lachey.

The Cards came out firing early in this first round matchup and had the feel of a mid-90s Pitino team, forcing turnovers and riding the hot shooting of a Delk (this time it was Reginald). But, despite Louisville’s best efforts, the Bearcats proved to be more persistent than Karen Sypher and just would not go away, ultimately outscoring Pitino’s troops by 12 in the second half.

In that period, the Bearcats looked like an old Bob Huggins edition in kicking Louisville’s tail on the boards to the tune of a 46-29 advantage. Yancy Gates led the way with 16 points off the bench and Darnell Wilks and Lance “Born Ready For Another Year of School” Stephenson both added 12, but the Bearcats shot only 34% from the field and 22% from the three-point line. By comparison, Louisville shot 44% from the field and 10-18 (56%) from downtown. That’s not how things usually work.

After the game, in typical Rick Pitino fashion, the Cards’ head man went into meltdown mode when asked about his team’s performance and berated Murray Rubin of the Hackensack Daily News for asking that sort of question on the day Nene’s son was arrested. Things then got even uglier later when Pitino’s ego climbed the Empire State Building and had to be shot down by the National Guard, though Louisville AD Tom Jurich advised everything was under control because Vinny Tatum was laying on the ground keeping an eye on him.

For Pitino’s team, an NCAA berth still seems likely. Where they get seeded, however, will most likely not be where many Louisville fans hoped it would be after entering the tournament with the momentum of beating Syracuse. But, this headline will be on the New York Daily News and not the New York Post, so that’s a positive.

For Cincinnati, they’ll keep their faint NCAA hopes alive on Thursday against former coach Bob Huggins and Mick Cronin will hopefully make a wardrobe change that keeps him from looking like a fleshy earthworm for the second game in a row.

*It should be noted that Montana's Anthony Johnson just scored again

Posted on: March 6, 2010 4:46 pm

Today We Are All Chanticleers


4:45 PM

As I sit and enjoy the Big South Championship game that looks like it is being played in a local YMCA, some thoughts:

--- Whether you care about Championship Week or not, you cant help but enjoy stories like the one with Coastal Carolina today.  First of all, they play in a gym that holds less than 1,000 people.  My high school gym held more than that and we were terrible and in an economically depressed area.  Coastal Carolina has no such excuse but still insists on having a facility that holds primarily friends and familes.  Then, they are coached by Cliff Ellis, who used to be the coach at Clemson and Auburn and is seeking to take his 4th team to the NCAA Tournament, something only six other coaches have other done.  Then you have the fact that the team's nickname is the "Chanticleers", a reference to a character in Geoffrey Chaucer's "Canterbury Tales."  For real.  Small gym, vagabond coach and literary mascot...my kind of team.

---  Louisville beat Syracuse, thanks to the play of an unknown hotshot named "Kyle Kuric."  Before today, Kuric could have walked into a Kuric family reunion and gone unnoticed...now he will have the pick of the coeds of UL.  Life can change in a blink of an eye.  Big win for the Cards and proof that Syracuse can be beaten if you gameplan correctly.

---  West Virginia took a big one at Villanova in a game that gave Gus Johnson the practice he needed to go crazy in two weeks during his NCAA coverage.  For Villanova, the seeding keeps getting worse and any dream they had of a #1 seed is now over.

---  South Carolina won at Vanderbilt, proving that (a) Devan Downey isnt human and (b) the SEC is really down outside of Kentucky.  Vandy is the consensus second best team in the league, and if that is your role, you cant lose to a non-NCAA Tournament team at home on Senior Day.  That is just the rule.

---  Idaho suspended their second leading scorer for comments he made about the coach on Twitter.  The kid later went back on Twitter and wondered what all the fuss was about but when you claim that no team can win with your current coach at the helm...well you gotta think some kind of punishment is on your way.

---  ESPN has a redheaded announcer who looks like the guy from "The Incredibles."  If he werent calling the Big South Championship, this would be a major national story.

Back to the games...if you arent watching whatever is on CBS (which I am sure is wonderful), turn it over to ESPN2 for the three Championship games going on today and tonight.  And no matter what is going on in your life, take solace in one thing.  Ben Roethlisberger is not in your town.

Posted on: February 20, 2010 3:59 pm

Louisville-Depaul Notes and Musings


4:15 PM

Five Thoughts on Louisville- Depaul, a game I would have never imagined I would attend:

1.  Mark Aguirre is Not Walking Through that Door

I am not certain how it is that Depaul isnt a basketball power.  They play in a city that produces top high school talent like Rick Pitino produces Boos and hisses at a NOW convention.  Yet it has essentially been irrelevant on the national basketball scene for 20 years and has watched as fellow Big East schools in talent black holes like West Virginia and Syracuse have become Top Ten programs.  Four NCAA Tournament appearances in 20 years in a city in which basketball is THE local sports of passion.  There is simply no excuse.

2.  The Louisville Staff is Bizarre Looking in Person

Listen we could make Rick Pitino jokes all day (and we will).  And yes, he has somehow transformed from the most handsome and dapper coach in college basketball in the 90s into a slightly less creepy version of The Cryptkeeper .  But he isnt the only one that would turn heads.  Assistant Coach Ralph Willard is channeling Christopher Lloyd in "Back to the Future" and Ron Mercer/Steve Masiello both look like they ate the college versions of themselves that played at Kentucky.  If ever there were a staff that needed an Extreme Makeover, Louisville would fit the bill.

3.  Empty Arenas Make Your Eyes Explore

Our first two stops on this trip were in arenas with loud student sections and crowds doing some version of a "White-out" in order to get ready for a big game.  This arena is only about 65% full and half of the crowd may be Louisville fans.  Thus I am able to look around and seek diversions in other parts of the building.  My favorite part of the Depaul arena is the 50 year old woman holding up a sign behind me that says "Even Tiger Would be a Better Husband than you would Rick."  Success is indeed a choice.

4.  Louisville Travels Amazingly Well

I have been to a lot of big arenas and watched the largest fan bases do their thing.  No one is more passionate and travels better than the Big Blue Nation of Kentucky.  But in terms of sheer numbers relative to their size, Louisville might be #2 in America.  Yes teams like Kansas, North Carolina and Duke may have more fans, but when the game is somewhere else and presence needs to be found, the Card faithful represent their team better than any of those groups per capita. 

5.  Bob Valvano is Not Scared to Look at Your Funny

Lets say that you happened to be in Cedar Falls, Iowa last night for a Northern Iowa game.  And then lets say that you drove all night and ended up at a Depaul game on Saturday afternoon.  And then pretend that for both games, ESPN analyst Bob Valvano was doing tv work and he saw you and your fellow roadtrippers in both places, wearing the same clothes because you hadnt had time to take a shower.  In such a situation, he will look at you funny and stay at least five feet away...just so you know in case you are ever in the same situation. 

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com