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March 3, 2003 Conference Notes No Comments

The Morning Dish – Monday, March 3rd, 2003

by Andrew Flynn

Good Monday morning folks. It seems that, with the NCAA Tournament selection day a mere thirteen days away, that somebody — anybody, really, would be interested in moving up the polls to potentially stake a claim on a No. 1 seed in a region. But you would be hard-pressed to find that squad in Durham, North Carolina, after yesterday’s letdown.

Let’s reset. Each year, due primarily to the 9-team composition of the Atlantic Coast Conference, each of the ACC squads schedule a non-conference game smack dab in the middle of the ACC conference season. Some schools take this opportunity to pad their victory total and get an “easy” win, such as Maryland’s scheduling of smaller neighbor Loyola-Maryland. Sometimes, a regional rivalry is restored, such as Clemson’s matchup with neighboring South Carolina of the SEC back on February 12th. Most notably, it provides the opportunity for a marquee matchup, such as Wake Forest’s loss to a ranked Marquette team that dropped them in the rankings, but likely helped their strength of schedule and RPI.

But let’s look at the trend:

January 18th – North Carolina defeats Connecticut in Chapel Hill 68-65
January 22nd – Georgia Tech defeats Elon in Atlanta 66-47
February 2nd – Maryland defeats Loyola-MD in College Park 85-58

February 9th – Wake Forest loses at Marquette 68-61
February 12th – Clemson loses at South Carolina 76-59
February 15th – NC State loses at Temple 76-54
February 26th – Virginia loses at Ohio 78-72
Note: Florida State didn’t even bother

So, just a glance at the information above should tell any ACC squad that if they’re scheduling a non-conference game,

1. Do it at home
2. Don’t do it in your last ten games (with the selection committee paying close attention).

So where does this leave us for yesterday’s matchup between No. 6 Duke at St. John’s? Do you even need to ask? It’s all right in front of you — the numbers never lie. Okay, I’ll stop channeling Nick Bakaly.

What happened is that Duke lost 72-71, after allowing a 12-0 run by the St. John’s Red Storm, capped by Marcus Hatten’s free throw with zeros on the clock. Hatten, who had stolen the ball from Duke’s Daniel Ewing only to be fouled by Ewing on a lay-up attempt as the clock ran down, didn’t even bother with the second free throw, as his teammates swarmed him in celebration. Hatten ended up with 29 points, including 16 of the last 22 for the Red Storm, who held Duke scoreless over the final 4:05.

“They had run the same play the last 10 minutes of the game and I had done a terrible job against it,” Hatten said. “This time I just anticipated . . . the ball was just there, and I stuck my hand in there and came out with a pot of gold.”

Duke’s Dahntay Jones led the Blue Devils with 23, and guard Chris Duhon added 15 points. The loss was the first non-conference loss suffered by the Devils since losing to Stanford in December of 2000 – a streak of 26 games. Duke finishes the regular season this week with games against Florida State and at North Carolina. Meanwhile, the Red Storm face Rutgers (who toppled Notre Dame this weekend) and finish at Miami (Fla.)

Side Dishes

Bring Back my Bonnie: Sometime today we will know the fate of St. Bonavnture basketball for the season. At issue is the eligibility of junior center Jamil Terrell, who transferred from Coastal Georgia Junior College. School officials have been mum since declaring Terrell ineligible for failing to meet NCAA JuCo transfer guidelines last week, prior to the Bonnie’s 94-89 OT win over George Washington. The status of Terrell, who is averaging 6.9 ppg, may result in the Bonnies forfeiting some or all of their 13 wins this season. The Bonnies have two games remaining on the season prior to the A-10 Tournament in Dayton.

Kentucky Rolls: No. 2 Kentucky overcame a late deficit to win their 18th-consecutive game, 74-66 over No. 22 Georgia. The Wildcats overcame an early 10-0 Bulldog run in the second half with Marquis Estill forcing five straight turnovers. Estill had 16 points for the Wildcats, while Chuck Hayes added 15 points and 12 rebounds. Ezra Williams had 17 for Georgia, which had won four straight, and Steve Thomas had 12/11 split. With the win, Kentucky clinched a share of the SEC East title, with a showdown with Florida next weekend.

A Mess in Georgia: In addition to the loss to Kentucky, the Bulldog nation is recoiling from news reports that a former player has accused the Georgia coaching staff of covering expenses and academic fraud. Yesterday’s game against the Wildcats was the first game without assistant coach Jim Harrick Jr., who was suspended Friday. The former player, Tony Cole, also told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution he used the personal credit card of the head coach Jim Harrick, Sr. to buy a TV while he was enrolled in school.

Cole played only 16 games last season, and was then kicked off the team following charges (later dismissed) of aggravated assault with intent to rape. Lastly (for today, anyway), Cole indicated that current players were receiving monies from booster Mike Young, and he had received $900 from Young last season. The trend isn’t good for Harrick, who was fired from UCLA in 1996 after a National Championship for lying about an expense report. And last season, Harrick Jr. admitted that there were significant inaccuracies in his biography.

Tonight’s Menu

• Utah, which saw its unbeaten streak snapped last week in the Pit at New Mexico Saturday, travels to Colorado Springs to face the Air Force Academy, losers of four straight. However, AF is 8-3 at home this season, so that’s something. But trends (a theme of today’s Morning Dish) indicate otherwise, as the Utes are 38-7 all time against the Falcons, and have won 13 of the last 14 matchups. Meanwhile BYU heads to the Pit in Albuquerque tonight.

• Bobby Knight and his Texas Tech Red Raiders try to reinforce their bubble by hosting Kansas in Lubbock. While the Jayhawks lead the all-time series 13-1, the Raiders are desperate for a victory, as they are currently 6-8 in Big 12 play, and require a .500 or better record for the Big Dance. The Raiders need to win tonight and this weekend against Baylor to have a chance.

That’s it for this Monday – Enjoy!

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