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Tuesday Morning Point Guard 9

January 13, 2004 Columns No Comments


Tuesday Morning Point Guard

by Dean Austin

Some rather juicy match ups this week. Wake Forest in particular will play Texas, Duke and Georgia Tech in an eight day span which should define the program this season.

Ten College Basketball Thoughts

1. Finally a performance from Connecticut that was worthy of their lofty status in the polls. The demolishing of Oklahoma 86-59, in a game that was nowhere near as close as the lopsided score, was everything that Coach Jim Calhoun could have wished for. If the Huskies play that way for six rounds they can win the national championship. If they play the way they did against Yale, Rice and Rutgers they have a chance to be the first #1 seed ever to be upset by a #16.

2. Texas beat Baylor 79-57 on Saturday and yet they were out rebounded 32-33. That’s beyond comprehensible. What has happened to last year’s Final Four team? Certainly T. J. Ford leaving is a factor but where is the heart and commitment?

3. Strange column from the very talented Andy Katz over on espn.com where essentially he goes off on the Big Ten and Pac-10 for having too many bids in the NCAA Tournament. Here’s a quote, “But there seems to be times when the selection committee uses historical references when deciding on the number of teams from the Pac-10 and Big Ten selected to the tournament,” and also “the days of at least four Big Ten and Pac-10 teams being grandfathered into the field appear over.” Say what? Year in and year out the Pac-10 has sent multiple teams to the Tournament and then had them perform admirably. I don’t believe the Pac-10 has ever been “grandfathered” in, but rather has had superior talent. This year, unless Cal, Oregon or Arizona State plays very well during conference play you could certainly see only Stanford and Arizona go to the big dance. Very strange, Katz is usually so good.

4. I had thought Mike Davis at Indiana was the most high profile coach on shaky ground after the huge defeats the Hoosiers have suffered. But if Quin Snyder doesn’t turn around Missouri quickly there are going to be a lot of whispers coming out of Columbia. An 82-68 loss to Syracuse Monday night and with Oklahoma and Texas in the next eight days you can make a compelling argument for the Tigers to finish the season under .500 at 13-14.

5. Take a look at the AP Today Top 25. Yeah I know, look at Hoopville’s Top 25 first but I’m illustrating a point. Stanford is #3, Wake Forest #4, Kentucky #5 and Saint Joseph’s #6. Gonzaga has lost to both Stanford and Saint Joseph’s and beaten at the time highly ranked Missouri. North Carolina has lost to Wake Forest and Kentucky and beaten at the time highly ranked Georgia Tech. North Carolina is ranked #9, Gonzaga is ranked #16. That is why people complain of an “east coast bias.”

6. To put the Michigan State season in perspective so far the Spartans’ opponents are 98-49 and 21 of those losses belong to two schools, Bucknell and Coppin State.

7. I like the synergy of Jim Boeheim of Syracuse going for his 666th victory against a religious school such as Notre Dame.

8. Skimming under the radar has been Bob Knight’s Texas Tech. It was easy to dismiss them after early season loses to SMU and Georgia Tech. However as the Yellow Jackets gained strength in the national polls that result doesn’t see so bad. The Mustangs? Well everyone gets to have one bad loss, see Louisville, Syracuse and LSU.

9. Interesting first six for my Top 10 coaching list. Two from the Pac 10, Mike Montgomery and Lute Olsen; two from the ACC, Mike Krzyzewski and Paul Hewitt; one from the Big-12, Bob Knight and one from Conference USA, Rick Pitino. This week we add our first from the SEC, Tubby Smith and second from the Big-12, Kelvin Sampson. Will the Big East and Big-10 be shut out? All will be revealed next week.

10. Game I’d pay to see this week is Wake Forest vs. Texas. If Texas play to their potential this gets very interesting, if the Demon Deacons play to their own potential it could get ugly.

Five Non-College Basketball Sports thoughts

1. Is anyone surprised that Roger Clemens is pitching again this year? Didn’t think so.

1a: I have the sneaking suspicion that Clemens wasn’t planning to come back to the Major Leagues but was planning to pitch for the Olympic team. When the Olympic team failed to qualify for the games, that was the chance for Houston to step in.

2. The movement of players in baseball this off season has really been interesting. Each major move seems to tighten up a race, the latest being Vladimir Guerrero finding a home in Anaheim. Now all of a sudden this makes the AL West a three team race.

3. No more questions about whether Manning or Dungy can win in the playoffs after the last couple of weeks. It will be bitterly cold in New England again this weekend. I’ve heard commentators say that this evens up the teams but I’ve got to think that New England has the advantage. Same with Philadelphia.

4. The hiring of Dan Marino in Miami smacks of a publicity stunt.

5. I’m surprised to see Joe Gibbs return to the NFL. The league has changed so much since he was successful especially the salary cap rules that I’ll be impressed if he makes an impact.

And a couple of Non-Sporting Thoughts

1. As much as I like the improvements in The West Wing this season it’s not the same. Take the time to watch the first couple of seasons on the Bravo Channel. Writing at its very best and performances that were the writing’s equal.

2. If you liked Waking the Dead, a previous recommendation, you might also check out Wire in the Blood, another mystery series on BBC America. Robson Green is superb in the lead role.

3. Finally did get to see the last installment of Lord of the Rings. Wasn’t overwhelmed to be honest and thought it rather dragged at the end. Still it would be a shame if Peter Jackson isn’t rewarded with an Oscar for his work over the three films at this year’s ceremony.

See you all later in the week.

     

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