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Tuesday Morning Point Guard 7

December 30, 2003 Columns No Comments

Tuesday Morning Point Guard

by Dean Austin

It was a fairly relaxed festive season with only a few games of significance of tap. The second week of January looks like it might provide some significant fireworks with all kinds of interesting early conference match ups.

Ten College Basketball Thoughts

1. The Sports Illustrated Cover Jinx is apparently nothing compared to the TMPG Kiss of Death. Having in quick succession seriously impacted the chances of Michigan State, California and Purdue, last week I turned my attention to Missouri freshman Linas Kleiza. The talented forward proceeded to have his worst two games of the young season. Don’t give up on him, this kid is awfully good.

2. Mark your calendars for January 11th, Oklahoma vs. Connecticut. From my, admittedly skewed perspective, the Sooners seem underrated and the Huskies overrated. Given item #1 above I therefore anticipate that all evidence to the contrary Connecticut will win!

3. No surprise really that Louisville beat Kentucky, I’m just trying to figure out how the Cardinals lost to Iowa in their first game. Without that reversal Rick Pitino might have the #1 ranked team in the country.

4. Speaking of which… Look I understand that polls are subjective, that in the grand scheme of things beating a team does not make you “better” than another team; that only counts in March. But how does anyone rank Connecticut at 9-1 and a loss to Georgia Tech over those same Yellow Jackets? Georgia Tech is 12-0, beat the Huskies by 16 points, Texas Tech and Ohio State each by 20 and has a closest margin of victory of 13 points. I could understand if the Ramblin’ Wreck was squeaking by against marginal opponents, but they are not. In the twelve games Coach Paul Hewitt has his team winning by an average of 24 points. I’d mention that the margin was 947-666 but then that might explain why the Duke (Blue) Devils are also ranked higher in some polls …

5. Unless Cal finishes third or higher in the Pac 10 this year I can’t see them going to the NCAA Tournament. A quite hideous pre conference schedule saw the Bears end up at 4-5 after a loss to Air Force. Leon Powe scored 25 points; no-one else had more than 7 for Cal in their 49-44 defeat. The fabulous freshman went 7-11 from the field (11-15 from the line); the rest of the team went 7-25.

6. LSU’s season at 8-0 is starting to look interesting. If you buy the argument, and I’m not sure that I do, that Kentucky and Florida are really below par this year it is possible that the Tigers will not play a top flight (i.e. Top 5) opponent all year. LSU has played Southern, McNeese State, Troy State, Louisiana Monroe, Utah, Southern Miss, Tulane and UAB to get to 8-0. Not an action packed schedule although Utah is not chopped liver. Houston and Centenary are next up before Coach John Brady’s squad hits the SEC.

7. Meanwhile SEC West rival Mississippi State is off to a 10-0 start against the likes of Tennessee Martin, Western Kentucky, South Alabama and the aforementioned McNeese State and Louisiana Monroe. The Bulldogs opponents are a combined 49-51 while LSU’s are 42-36.

8. I’d love to know who has Saint Joseph’s #1 in the ESPN/USA Today poll. Bueller… Bueller….?

9. The next two Coaches to make my Top 10 list are probably the easiest on the list. Bob Knight and Lute Olson joining Rick Pitino and Paul Hewitt. Say what you will about Knight, he’s shown year after year that he can coach. Olsen might be the least respected of the top coaches in the country. The man has 500+ wins and more amazingly manages to persuade kids that going to Tucson is a good idea.

10. Game I’d pay to see this week. While it would be easy to pick Kentucky vs. North Carolina or Michigan State vs. Syracuse I’m going with Texas vs. Providence. Texas has looked appalling in their two losses to Arizona and Duke. Meanwhile Providence has quietly put together a nice season with wins over Alabama and Illinois. The Friars only setback was to an improving Rhode Island squad, although how the Rams lost to NAIA Lubbock Christian is beyond me. Regardless this is a crossroads game; can Texas beat a half decent team or can Providence take a step up in quality.

Five Non-College Basketball Sports thoughts

1. Most dangerous team in the playoffs – Green Bay

2. Most in need of redemption but quick – Indianapolis Colts, who have to play a Denver team that thumped them just a couple of weeks ago.

3. Most likely to send Steve Mariucci a Super Bowl victors share – Philadelphia Eagles, after the Lions improbable victory over the Rams to give the Eagles home field advantage. With nemesis Tampa Bay not in the field this year it’s now or never for the Coach Andy Reid.

4. Most likely to get upset – Kansas City. Yeah I know it’s the “in” pick but there’s a reason. Take a look at their schedule which includes Oakland and San Diego twice each, Houston, Detroit and Chicago. The Chiefs split with the Broncos and lost to Minnesota and Cincinnati, neither of whom is going to the playoffs. Close wins over Green Bay in OT and Baltimore by 7 points, both teams are #4 seeds, is more indicative of the level of quality of the Chiefs.

5. Most likely to make the next round – Green Bay, Dallas, Tennessee and Indianapolis. See item #1 at the top of the column concerning the TMPG Kiss of Death for those of you thinking of betting the mortgage on this.

And a couple of Non-Sporting Thoughts

1. Is there anything that is cooler than James Bond? Spike TV’s 007 days of Christmas is a wonderful excuse to watch the greatest movie franchise of all time. I’m fortunate, I maintain a small TV next to my desk in the office. When taking a break from hammering the keys or watching Eastern South West Louisiana A&M State Tech on video, it’s relaxing to grab 20 minutes of Sean Connery, Roger Moore, George Lazenby, Timothy Dalton and Pierce Brosnan.

1a: Luciana Paluzzi, the villainess Fiona Volpe in Thunderball, remains the most gorgeous creature ever to grace a Bond movie or any other.

1b: Since you asked… Goldfinger, Octopussy, The Spy Who Loved Me, Thunderball, Tomorrow Never Dies and Goldeneye, in that order.

2. And speaking of soundtracks and Sean Connery. Two oldies but goodies added to the collection this past week. The Hunt for Red October and The Rock. Hummel Gets The Rockets from the latter is Hans Zimmer at his stirring best, even if the piece takes 90 seconds to really warm up. Basil Pouledouris’ main title, Hymn to Red October sets the stage for that movie better than any other movie I can think of.

2a: There are music services popping up left right and center these past months. Has anyone out there found one that has a decent selection of soundtracks?

3. The latest novelist to catch my attention is Kyle Mills. Not yet in the league of Land, Ludlum, Morrell and Silva, but starting to show some excellent promise.

After a one week hiatus for Christmas, the Power Poll will return on New Year’s Day.


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