Posted on: March 6, 2010 8:56 pm
Edited on: March 9, 2010 7:36 pm
The NCAA approved beverage was still flowing and the East Tennesse State Buccaneers were still celebrating their second straight Atlantic Sun championship when the NCAA’s interim president, Jim Isch, issued a statement condemning the possible expansion to 96 tournament teams and, shockingly, endorsing a retraction.
According to the statement, released only to CBS, the powerful minds at the NCAA saw the back-and-forth tussle between fifth-seeded ETSU and sixth-seeded Mercer for exactly what it was - an example how the college game can drastically differ from the NBA. And, to them, they couldn’t be more appalled.
“You know, I was sitting at home watching this game,” Irsch wrote, “and somewhere between Mercer’s bow-tied student manager stomping his feet and ETSU rushing the court in celebration, I said ‘Jim, this isn’t what college athletics is supposed to be like’. It was just too amateur.”
Under Irsch’s plan, devised during the Atlantic Sun tournament that pitted two teams with a combined 17 conference losses, the NCAA will now aim to make March Madness mirror the BCS bowl system. The top 10 teams in the country will earn a trip to the yet to be named five-game finale, with the last being a matchup between two teams determined to be the best by a group of guys who play March Madness on Xbox Live. According to Irsch, this is a fan-friendly plan that gives college basketball nuts what they want - the stars of tomorrow on their TV today.
“Every year, we sludge through this lengthy tournament full of teams that don’t have draft picks and that can‘t move jersey sales. Why? It’s just crazy. I mean, under this wacky system, East Tennessee State actually has a chance to win the national title,” Irsch said. “Are you kidding me? Those guys couldn’t cut it in the NBDL. It‘s really absurd.”
For now, though, the system remains the same, meaning East Tennessee State and coach Murray Bartow have a chance at the national title for the second straight year after winning the Atlantic Sun title. And, as they proved in Macon, anything is possible.
Posted on: February 24, 2010 4:06 pm
Edited on: March 9, 2010 7:55 pm
By Thomas Beisner
As we continue to fight Mother Nature's wrath (and potentially brace for the worst yet this weekend), anticipation continues to grow as the road trip crew gets set to visit the Dean Dome tonight. Coming off of trips to Kansas and Kentucky, history is the word on everyone's minds and Chapel Hill shouldn't disappoint.
The powers that be at UNC were also so moved that they've declared tonight a Michael Jordan appreciation night of sorts and will sport special white and silver Jordan brand jersies for their shakedown with Florida State....according to John Henson's Twitter account. You can see the uniforms (and, conveniently enough, buy them) here. I don't see mysel running out to get one but, in rivalry fairness, they're not as hideous as Duke's subtle graphic uniforms that have been putting the "Jersey" in jersey for a few years now.
UNC, we see your generous move of pomp and circumstance and it is appreciated. Much like you'll see us. Hiding in a laundry hamper after the game trying to steal one. Though, that probably won't be as appreciated.
Chapel Hill, let's do this.
Posted on: February 23, 2010 10:51 am
Edited on: March 9, 2010 8:42 pm
By Thomas Beisner
Outside of Heidi Montag’s body, there was no more absurdly rapid transformation in the past 11 months than what transpired in Lexington, Ky. When John Calipari accepted the Kentucky job on March 31, 2009, he kissed the babies and smiled with UK legends and called it his “dream job”.
The reality was, though, the Kentucky program was in shambles, coming off their first NIT appearance in 30 years and sporting a roster nearly void of talent and morale after two years of The Billy Gillispie Experiment. In only two years, Gillispie not only tarnished the basketball reputation of the Wildcats with losses to schools like Gardner-Webb and San Diego, he alienated an entire fanbase with his tough-guy routine and mental warfare. Even the most optimistic Wildcat fan knew that Kentucky was not Kentucky anymore. On the court and off the court, Kentucky needed a miracle.
For the Cats, that miracle was John Calipari.
Though the wins have come at a clip that likely surprises even the most blue-blooded Kentucky homer, that's only part of the story of Calipari's success in Lexington. What Kentucky fans really needed was a renewed bond with their team and Calipari had to be the guy to deliver that. Calipari's daunting task was as much about basketball as it was community development. It's also one that he's tackled flawlessly in his short time heading the Wildcat program.
From hiring former Kentucky heroes Scott Padgett and Tony Delk as assistants to traveling from border to border to meet with fans in every town, burg and holler, Calipari has welcomed Kentucky fans to again feel close with their basketball team.
And that’s why people in Kentucky are calling this team “special” – a word that carries heavy reverence in the Bluegrass.
Sure, people are like Patrick Patterson for what he’s done the past two and a half seasons on the court. But UK fans love him for things like giving a stranded woman a ride home for no other reason than it was the right thing to do.
It’s not just that John Wall is a late-game superhero as a freshman, it’s that he sports the highest GPA on the team and an “aw, shucks” humility fitting of a walk-on, calling everyone “sir” or “ma’am”. Also, it doesn't hurt that an impromptu dance inspired celebrity imitations, Photoshopped pictures (Part 1 and Part 2) and had 80-year olds in Pikeville humming "Ice Cream Paint Job".
And, yes, UK fans are ecstatic that DeMarcus Cousins has developed into, arguably, the best big man in the country in only five months. But, they love him for things like campaigning online to change his nickname from “Carl” to “Boogie” and for responding to message boards saying he always looked angry by sporting a giant cheesy grin in fan pictures.
Kentucky fans were going to wait for days for their Big Blue Madness tickets no matter what. It just made the experience richer when Josh Harrellson, Mark Krebs and Darius Miller played cornhole with them.
You see, this team is as talented as any Kentucky team has ever been, but that’s only half the story in Lexington.
And that brings us to Calipari.
It’s no secret – even in Lexington – that everywhere Cal goes, he’s followed by the “v” word. He’s been blasted in print and he’s been ripped on television for his vacated Final Fours and it’s not going to stop anytime soon. There is a stigma attached to Calipari now and, right or wrong, it’s only going to get amplified with each Wildcat win. If John Wall and Co. cut down the nets in Indianapolis this spring, you can bet that the “v” word will find itself again all over your television and sports page.
But, you know what? Kentucky fans don’t care. Not even the teeny tiniest bit.
And it’s not because they’re the crazed win-at-all-costs fans that some think they are. It’s not because Calipari is delivering wins at a pace not seen since Pitino. It’s not because he landed one of the best recruiting classes of all-time in just a couple of months. It’s not even because he beat North Carolina and UConn in the same week or because he successfully defended Rupp Arena against the hated Louisville Cardinals.
It’s because the John Calipari that Lexington sees is not the 12-foot tall, rules-breaking monster that he’s often depicted to be, snatching up every top recruit and leaving a wake of NCAA destruction behind him.
In Lexington, John Calipari is a family man. He’s the guy who lives on a busy street, just outside of downtown and very much in public. He’s a father who openly brags about his two college-aged daughters and his 13-year old son’s basketball games on Twitter. He’s the fan-friendly coach who handed out McDonald’s breakfast to the masses of people camped outside Memorial Coliseum for tickets to his first Big Blue Madness. He’s a guy who helped put together a fund raiser for Haiti in less than 48 hours, which would eventually net nearly $1.5 million for relief efforts. He’s the guy that left his team after a road win in Alabama to fly to Indianapolis and meet privately with a teenager who had suddenly fallen ill – and who had simply requested an autographed picture.
As they like to say on Kentucky message boards, “he gets it”.
So, you’ll get no apologies from Kentucky fans for not caring about the “v” word. To Kentuckians, John Calipari isn’t a monster. Like his players, he’s just one of them.
And that’s really all they’ve ever wanted.
Posted on: February 22, 2010 1:59 pm
Edited on: February 22, 2010 2:01 pm
Posted on: February 22, 2010 1:03 pm
Edited on: March 9, 2010 8:43 pm
By Thomas Beisner
Each morning, the CBS College Basketball Road Trip team will stop spooning each other in their Motel Six beds, grab a couple of bagels and hit the road in pursuit of their next college basketball destination. Their dossier and agenda are to remain top secret. However, I went to high school with one of the writers from Viva Laughlin and CBS forgot to take back his keys. Here is what he found…
Location: The sixth-largest city in Kansas, Lawrence proudly declares itself a college town. And, like any college town, it lends itself to being easily abbreviated and tagged with “Vegas”. Unfortunately for Lawrence, Kansas, Larry Vegas has been claimed about 250 times already, according to Google. And I’m pretty sure someone named Larry Vegas sent my wife a Facebook message asking if she wanted to pose for photos. On second thought, Lawrence is just fine.
Traveling Distance: The trip from East Lansing to Lawrence is a daunting one, but not one that our weary road warriors will back down from. Now nearly halfway through their trip, they’ll pack up the Kia Rondo, watch Kid Rock wave farewell in the rearview mirror and travel 750 miles to where our fair game came was birthed from the athletic Canadian loins of Dr. James Naismith. In the process, they’ll bid farewell to C.M. Tomlin, who will return home to make room for Matt’s ego, which has grown considerably since having two columns on the CBS Sports college basketball page yesterday.
Song Birds: College basketball is rich with tradition and each school has their calling card. However, there is, perhaps, no more famous signature chant than KU’s “Rock….Chalk….Jayhawk….KU” ditty. The chant is usually recited after singing the alma mater and is followed by the fight song. According to the Kansas site, it was originally “Rah, Rah, Jayhawk, KU” when created in 1886 and later took on “Rock Chalk” as a tribute to Lawrence’s limestone. It also says Kansas fans eagerly await Lady Gaga’s “Rock chalk, rock chalk chalk, rock chalk, rock chalk chalk” remix.
Acronym Confusion: The University of Oklahoma is referred to as OU. The University of Kansas is referred to as KU. As the kids say, I’m HMS (for the rest of you old guys, that’s “shaking my head”).
Toto, I don’t think we’re on probation anymore: Over the past two seasons, Kansas went 64-11 and won a national title. During that time, Kansas was also on (minor) probation. Does that mean that Kansas was the first school to win a national title while on probation? I don’t know. CBS wouldn’t fund an intern for the trip. It should be noted, though, that the probation had nothing to do with the academic records of Darrell Arthur, who was found to have not technically graduated high school after beating a guy who supposedly didn’t take his SAT in the NCAA title game. You do know neither of the A’s in NCAA stand for academics, right?
Serious Statistical Breakdown: Mark Mangino ate this part. But only after he subjected it to unfair mental torture.
Carry on my Wayward Son: Since this past summer, Tyshawn Taylor has been the leading scorer on Team USA, broken his finger fighting the football team, inspired a hot new video game, had his Facebook taken away for posting transfer threats and earned a starting spot. That’s more ups and downs than Danny Bonaduce on a pogo stick. But, if his 17 points against Colorado is any indication, Taylor is gassed up, aight? Point plankn.
Celebrity Fan Power: Kentucky has Ashley Judd, Southern Cal has Snoop Dogg, Texas has Matthew McConaughey and Temple has Bill Cosby. Kansas? They have former Kentucky coach Billy Gillispie, who has been popping up at Jayhawk games lately to root for his buddy Bill Self. Should he be in attendance tonight, it’s a win-win for the road trip crew as Drew can finally get the name of the rehab program that encourages traveling from college town to college town and Tomlin’s replacement in the back seat could end up being a former Big 12 and SEC Coach of the Year. You in, Clyde? Pit stop in Lexington tomorrow…
On a personal note: As a Kentucky alum, I found this part of Bill Self’s Wikipedia bio unnecessarily harsh: “Self joined Larry Brown's coaching staff at the University of Kansas, replacing the position vacated by John Calipari”. Vacated? Low blow.
Agenda: Just like a night at the Playboy Mansion in the 70’s, the guys will look to get inside and get their senses wrapped around what Wilt Chamberlain left behind. There will be rocking, there will be chalking and there will be Jayhawking, whatever that may mean. But, most importantly, they will pay heed and they will beware of the Phog….or at least all the Phog puns, of which there are thousands.
KU, the expectations are high for this trip. You’re 26-1, you’re #1 in the nation, your program is dripping in history and your center is missing one of his front teeth. Anything thing short of an epic 24 hours will be a major letdown.
Lawrence, Kansas, let’s do this.
Posted on: February 20, 2010 3:59 pm
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.
Posted on: February 20, 2010 3:18 am
Edited on: February 20, 2010 3:28 am
Posted on: February 19, 2010 1:04 pm
Edited on: March 9, 2010 8:46 pm
By: Thomas Beisner
Each morning, the CBS College Basketball Road Trip team will stop spooning each other in their Motel Six beds at the crack of noon, grab a couple of NCAA approved bagels and hit the road in pursuit of their next college basketball destination. Though their dossier and agenda are to supposed to remain top secret, I went to high school with one of the writers from "Viva Laughlin" and CBS forgot to take back his keys. Here is what he found…
Location: According to Wikipedia, Cedar Falls, the home of Northern Iowa University, was originally named Sturgis Falls after William Sturgis, a sea-faring American hero from the 18th century. It was renamed Cedar Falls later due to its close proximity to the Cedar River. If these standards applied today, tonight’s game would be in Cracker Barrel Falls, Iowa. (Confession: Research shows there is not a Cracker Barrel within 100 miles of UNI…how is that possible?)
Traveling Distance: Today our road warriors embark on a leg of the trip that is so short, Lorenzo Romar might recruit it to play point guard. Traveling an estimated 271 miles in about 4 and half hours, the fiercest foe will not be the road, but the lingering Milwaukee hangover and Matt’s Jason Mraz playlist.
Mascot: The Panther. When I originally typed this, I accidentally wrote “Panter”, which of course is not the mascot. That’s a contact in Rick Pitino’s black book.
Forecast: Despite the local weatherman's best efforts to heat things up with a little innuendo, it’s going to be cold. Like sleeping with your best friend’s girl on the day his dog died and his parents split cold. The temperature calls for a high of 29 degrees and, with two of the nation’s top-3 scoring defenses battling inside, the shooting might be just as icy. Both teams allow only 55 points per game (UNI: 55.1, ODU: 55.8) and aren’t too shy about shooting the three (UNI: 18 per game, ODU: 15). However, rain is not expected in the forecast. At least not from Old Dominion, who shoots 30% from downtown. (That paragraph is dripping in more cheese than Milwaukee was, sorry.)
Notable Alumni: Northern Iowa’s alumni list is littered with former football players including former NFL MVPs Kurt Warner and Bryce Paup, making them one of only two schools to have both a defensive and offensive MVP as an alum. On the Old Dominion side, things are a little more eclectic as the Monarchs boast headband pioneer Chris Gatling, a Watergate burglar and the host of Cash Cab. If we were awarding points for flat tops, UNI would be the runaway winner. This is purely based on cultural impact, though, and the non-conference bragging rights go to Old Dominion.
Agenda: Besides not freezing to death, the agenda is simple. Soak up everything that is Northern Iowa University and get a first-hand look at two of the best mid-major (is that a dirty word in Cedar Falls?) teams in the country. If seeing these teams up close helps us earn a couple extra bucks in the office pool in March, then so be it. And if Drew tracks down this fellow CBSer and former UNI student, we'll apologize later. Just don't blame it on the Viva Laughlin guy. He's been through enough.
Cedar Falls, Iowa, let’s do this.