Tag:Big Ten
Posted on: December 13, 2011 3:24 pm
Edited on: December 13, 2011 3:29 pm

Craft no longer nervous about Sullinger

By Jeff Goodman

Last week, Aaron Craft was worried about Jared Sullinger.

"Just the way he was moving around," Ohio State's sophomore point guard said about his teammate. "I was nervous."

But Sullinger is making progress and is getting close to returning to the court.

"This week he's gotten a lot better," Craft said. "He's been happier, he's acting more like Jared."

Sullinger and his teammates got the day off Sunday following the team's loss at Kansas, one in which the big man sat out due to back spasms. He also sat out Monday and Craft said he was uncertain if -- and how much -- Sullinger would practice on Tuesday.

"We don't know yet," Craft said. "But he looks good running around."

Craft said he honestly didn't feel as though having Sullinger would have made the difference in the loss to Kansas. "Not with the way we played," Craft said. "We didn't have good focus defensively and didn't execute well."

That's all true. However, Sullinger helps in both areas. Boston College transfer Evan Ravenel and freshman Amir Williams combined to play 40 minutes against the Jayhawks and finished with a total of 11 points and eight rebounds.

Craft said he is still getting adjusted to being more of a focal point on this team, which is nine games into the season. He's averaging 9.9 points, 5.6 assists, 3.3 rebounds and 2.8 steals -- and has started to shoot the ball with more consistency from the perimeter over the last few games.

"My shot was really bad early," he admitted. "But it's coming around now."

-- Craft said that Kansas was the best opposing venue he's played in thus far in his career. That honor went to Purdue a year ago, when E'Twaun Moore lit up the Buckeyes.

-- Craft is also back on track in the classroom. After receiving his first B a year ago, he earned straight A's in his four classes this past quarter.

Photo: Getty Images
Posted on: December 13, 2011 3:13 pm
Edited on: December 13, 2011 3:20 pm

UK-IU draws 3.5 million viewers

By Gary Parrish

John Calipari spent part of last week publicly discussing the possibility of ending one of his high-profile home-and-home series -- either with Louisville, North Carolina or Indiana.

The Kentucky coach has his reasons, of course. One of them is that the SEC will move from 16 to 18 league games next year. Another is Calipari's strong desire to play more made-for-TV neutral-site games. So I get it. Honestly, I do. But I still hope all three series remain, and college basketball fans in general seem to agree because 3.5 million people watched Saturday's tilt between the Wildcats and Indiana.

That's a low number for "Jersey Shore."

But it's a massive pull for college basketball.

What Kentucky-Indiana provided was a game between two undefeated teams from two tradition-rich schools at an on-campus arena, and the importance of that last little detail can't be overstated. Take the same game -- and the same Christian Watford buzzer-beating 3-pointer that gave Indiana a victory over the top-ranked Wildcats -- and put it at Madison Square Garden, and it loses something. Because the location mattered. It provided the type of atmosphere that makes college basketball special, and it created the postgame celebration that most of us will remember forever. I like that. And it's only possible with a home-and-home series between power programs.

Truth be told, we don't have enough of those these days.

That's why it would stink to lose one of the really, really good ones.

Posted on: December 12, 2011 1:05 pm
Edited on: December 12, 2011 1:14 pm

All that's wrong with the Cincy/X fight/fallout

By Matt Norlander

There was a national writer at the Cincinnati-Xavier brawl Saturday, and we've brought him on the podcast to discuss every angle of this story. Mike DeCourcy of Sporting News lives in the Cincinnati area and knows the two programs as well as anyone.

Did he see this coming? Why were star players on the court in the closing seconds a blowout? DeCourcy and I disagree on the severity of the suspensions. I think they're too soft on both sides, while DeCourcy doesn't really care what sportswriters think about suspension lengths. (I also disagree with him in principle here -- it's writers' job to comment and react to these things, even if DeCourcy isn't particularly interested in what his fellow scribes think).

One quick note: The call was a computer-to-phone connection, which means it makes me sound like I have a lisp. This is not the case, but you'll be amused all the same.

The discussion breaks down like this:
  • From the beginning: DeCourcy was right there. Did he see the fight coming?
  • 7:40: Why were Tu Holloway, Yancy Gates, Mark Lyons and other players of note on the floor with less than a minute to go in the blowout?
  • 9:55: The suspensions discussion. I'll simply tease it and say I don't agree with where Mike is coming from here.
  • 13:40: DeCourcy's case for why so many of us misinterpreted Cronin's words from his press conference, and more of his case for why Gates shouldn't necessarily be off the team or serving a longer suspension.
  • 20:53: It clear the coaches weren't the ones calling the shots with the player suspensions, right?
  • 23:03: We also squeeze in room for the biggest basketball only-related topic from the weekend: Indiana's buzzer-beating win against Kentucky. This doesn't mean Indiana's all the way back, but the Hoosiers still provided a top-10 moment for this season with that W. And Calipari, in some ways, will take this loss because he can use it for a good humbling with his team.

You can listen to the CBSSports.com College Basketball Podcast every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. The podcasts are posted here and simultaneously through iTunes (link below). Each Wednesday CBSSports.com national writers Jeff Goodman and Gary Parrish hop on to banter and bicker. Mondays and Fridays are reserved for the most prominent voices in and around the game. Here's the iTunes subcription link. We also have an RSS feed for you to track. I don't believe they are making Zunes anymore, but nonetheless, I've been instructed to link you on how to listen via that device, too.

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Posted on: December 12, 2011 11:18 am

Kaboom goes the bar: Fan reaction of IU's win

By Matt Norlander

Everyone's posting this video, and we will too. Indiana beats Kentucky, Indiana bar goes wild.

Never gets old. Never. I particularly love the reinforced cheers upon the replays of Watford's shot falling true. By the way, check photo No. 2 in this gallery. That's just a sweet shot. Also, Eamonn Brennan posted a video from outside the bar, Nick's, which is featured in the video below. The streets were occupied heavily by ecstastic, drunk and delirious IU fans, who finally found themselves a reason to be outwardly proud of their basketball team.

It's a great Monday in Bloomington.

IU Upsets KY - Celebration at Nick's English Hut from Tarun Gangwani on Vimeo.

Posted on: December 12, 2011 8:36 am

Wakeup Call: Wait, who coaches Memphis?

By Matt Norlander

It seems a 17-year-old has come up with a big breakthrough in curing cancer. She's 17. You did what over the weekend? // Old Loves Tumblr is inspiring, bittersweet. // I've not run into an autocorrect issue yet, but are the funniest Damn You Autocorrects from 2011. // People who spend thousands on decorating their houses for Christmas ...

★ Great buzzer-beater from Saturday that you missed, the one that wasn't Indiana over Kentucky.

The story behind that photo.

★ There have been a few really good pieces written about the Xavier-Cincinnati brawl. This is one of them.

★ This is another.

★ And so's this.

★ One more. Props to Brennan for getting tough, something he should do more often.

★ Hey, this is great reporting that we wish would never have been done. After it fell off the newswires, Kevin Armstrong went to Arkansas to report on the plane crash that killed the Oklahoma State women's coach and assistant last month.

★ Georgetown player out indefinitely because of heart problems. Scary, but thankful it was caught now.

★ How/why Kansas State almost lost to North Florida Sunday night.

★ That's a depressing scene.

★ This remains true.

★ We've all pretty much moved on from UCLA at this point, but these stats about Ben Howland's commitments are worth seeing.

★ Yes, yes, yes. Loved this from Ryan Greene. Michigan State got one of its patented great, tough, under-the-radar wins Saturday. Going into Spokane? Respect that.
★ The best dunk I saw from the weekend.

★ You can see below this blog post that Parrish wrote about Murray State going undefeated. Here's another take on it and the chances of that happening.

► This KILLED me. How do you make this mistake? It's been more than two years! Such bombast, such unawareness.

♬ I'm deviating from my normal band/artist recommendation of the day and spending the next two weeks counting down (in no real order, I guess) my favorite Christmas tunes. I debated also posting a MISERABLE Christmas song to counter it, but why be a downer? We start with Andy Williams. If you can't get with this, you can't show up to my part in your best December sweater.

Photo: AP
Posted on: December 10, 2011 7:43 pm
Edited on: December 10, 2011 8:31 pm

Indiana's win worthy of Crean celebration

By Jeff Goodman

Tom Crean can celebrate however he wants after this one. He could be yelling and screaming buck naked in the lobby of Assembly Hall and it would be fine with me (OK, I take that one back).

I mocked the Indiana coach last season after he went bananas in the lobby of Assembly Hall following a home victory over Illinois. However, Saturday's victory against top-ranked Kentucky? Well, that's worthy of a full-pledged party well into the night for Crean and the Hoosiers.

This may wind up becoming a defining moment for the Indiana program in the Crean Era - one that had some fans and many around the country questioning whether the Hoosiers would be nationally relevant again.

Kentucky was more talented at every single position on the court, but Indiana took control of the game in the second half, and after blowing a 10-point lead, got a 3-pointer at the buzzer from Christian Watford for the 73-72 upset.

The Hoosiers showed mental resolve.

This Hoosiers team has officially turned the corner. They hadn't really beaten anyone of note until now (Butler and N.C State don't quite count), but should make their way into the Top 25 for the first time since Kelvin Sampson was running things and making illegal phone calls in Bloomington.

It was nice to see Assembly Hall rocking again because the fans in Bloomington are rabid - and are deserving of success. Indiana doesn't blow you away, but now Crean has enough talent and experience to compete with the big boys.

Let's not get ahead of ourselves, however, and start proclaiming the Hoosiers as a clear-cut NCAA tournament team. The Hoosiers aren't going to challenge Ohio State for the Big Ten title. They remain undefeated, but still need to fare well in Big Ten play to ensure themselves of dancing come March.

Watford doesn't always show up, but it was Kentucky's Terrence Jones who played the role of the magician on Saturday, doing his best disappearing act with just four points and a lone rebound in the contest. Watford went for 20 points in the victory while freshman Cody Zeller, Will Sheehey, Victor Oladipo and Jordan Hulls all played well.

Crean has had a rough go thus far in his tenure, finishing near the bottom of the league each of his three seasons. Recruiting has certainly picked up in the past year or so and Cream got over one hurdle when he took down Butler's Brad Stevens last month. But this one was far more important.

Crean knocked off the No. 1 team in the land. The almighty John Calipari and the Kentucky Wildcats.

If that's not worthy of a party, I'm not sure what is.

Posted on: December 10, 2011 7:07 pm
Edited on: December 10, 2011 7:18 pm

Nice win for KU ... but it needs context

By Gary Parrish

The weekend's marquee game became something less Saturday when college basketball fans learned the CBSSports.com Preseason National Player of the Year would not participate because of back spasms. You wanted to see Jared Sullinger vs. Thomas Robinson. I wanted to see Jared Sullinger vs. Thomas Robinson. Instead we got Evan Ravenel vs. Thomason Robinson. And, with all due respect to Ohio State's backup big, that's just not the same.

So 14th-ranked Kansas beat No. 2 Ohio State 78-67.

Consequently, the Buckeyes have been eliminated from the group of undefeated schools.

But what does it really mean?

Honestly, nothing.

It doesn't mean Ohio State isn't the team that beat No. 12 Florida early and routed No. 7 Duke two weeks ago, and it doesn't mean we should reconsider what we think we know about the Buckeyes. They're still awesome. They're still the best team in the Big Ten. They just need their dominant big to, you know, get healthy, and that will presumably happen in time. Then OSU will get back to pounding people. I promise.

As for Kansas, again, good win.

Seriously, it was nice.

But I do sort of feel bad for the Jayhawks because they were in a bit of a no-win situation once it was clear Sullinger wouldn't play. Win and who cares? Lose and it's a bad loss at Allen Fieldhouse. Knowing Bill Self, I'm confident he wanted Sullinger on the court, confident he wanted to see Thad Matta's team at its best. But it didn't happen. So it is what it is. And what it is is a double-digit victory for a KU team that entered the season with lots of question marks but is slowly erasing them one by one.

Photo: AP

Posted on: December 9, 2011 8:55 am

Wakeup Call: Officially, the draft rule stays

By Matt Norlander

This is stupid. I thought the original really came into its own -- commercially and artistically. // The best music of 2011. Yes, I've got issues with some selections, but a lot of that is up my alley. // Investment banker writes condescending email to girl who realized immediately what she got herself into; writes how you’d imagine an entitled investment banker would. // Impressive. Don't let anyone tell you how you can't do something. // The best books of 2011. I've actually read two! // If it's at all possible to be let down by a Kate Upton photo gallery ...

★ Yeah, minor detail and all, but as expected: NBA draft rule remains as is.

★ We debuted our Player of the Year feature yesterday. We'll be coming back to this throughout the season.

★ Mountain Goats looped over Frank Martin's anger? MY HEART IS YOURS.

★ Got some UConn-over-Harvard reaction for you. That game played out pretty much like I thought it would. Crimson still capable of stealing one in March.

★ More thoughts on Harvard, via College Hoops Journal, a site you should totally follow on Twitter.

★ Good catch by Eamonn Brennan, who saw the report that the NBA will play on championship Monday this year due to the 66-game schedule.

★ What college basketball doesn't need: another team in Division I.

★ Small story out in Hawaii, but whoa.

★ This was a great sportswriter's re-telling of what it's like to be a writer and amid the NBA lockout.

★ Looks like Sullinger's playing against Kansas, which is great.

★ Still wonder what BYU becomes in conference play this year, but Davies is so important to that team regardless.

★ I'll try not to link Winn's Power Rankings every Friday morning, the morning after they get published, but I can't make any promises.

★ Deregulation at the college level? How that's possible.

► Don't know, don't care. Have watched 30 times.

♬ Yeah, I've got that soft emo side to me, OK? Jeez, lay off or I just might cry about it. Let's listen to some Death Cab for Cutie, a perfect way to head into the weekend. This is one of the "harder" DCfC songs Ben Gibbard's written. It's off Transatlanticism, the band's best album.

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