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Tag:Big East
Posted on: February 8, 2012 4:36 pm
 

Woodall's pain in the butt extends to opposition

By Jeff Goodman

Each game, just about 45 minutes prior to tip-off, Travon Woodall makes certain not to move as the needle is jabbed into his, well, buttocks. It'll happen around 6:15 p.m. tonight before Pittsburgh's junior point guard takes the floor against South Florida. 

"If I move," Pittsburgh's junior point guard laughs. "I have to do it again." 

Woodall isn't 100 percent recovered from the abdominal/groin injury he suffered way back on Nov. 30 and likely won't be full-strength for the remainder of the season. However, his return and presence as the Panthers floor leader has keyed the team's turnaround. 

"I'm nowhere near 100 percent," he said. "But with the needle, I don't feel any pain. The most pain is after the game when it wears off." 

Since he's come back, Jamie Dixon's team has reeled off four of its past five -- including a road win against West Virginia and a home victory over a ranked Georgetown club - to move from 0-7 in Big East play to 4-7. 

"One game at a time," said Woodall, who is honestly one of the best interviews I've done in a long time.

Woodall may not be completely healthy, but he couldn't take sitting and watching his teammates falter any longer. He tried it once, against Notre Dame in late-December, but he was completely ineffective and shut it down again for the next five games. 

With Woodall in the lineup, the Panthers are 10-3. Without him, they are 5-6. And in two of those games - losses against Notre Dame and Louisville, he wasn't even close to 100 percent. 

"Anyone who knows the game of basketball understands how important the point guard is to our team," Woodall said. "If you took Brad Wanamaker off our team last year, it wasn't have been nearly as good. Ashton (Gibbs) is a huge part of our team, but he isn't a true point guard. We needed a true point guard." 

"The point guard is like the quarterback," he added. "I know the Giants wouldn't have won the Super Bowl without Eli (Manning)." 

You've got to love a kid who compares himself (and he wasn't really comparing himself) to the Super Bowl MVP. 

This was supposed to be The Year for Woodall. He has waited his turn for the past three years to take the starting point guard role. He worked out relentlessly with former Pittsburgh floor leader Lavance Fields in the offseason, often three times a day, so he'd be prepared for this opportunity. This is the same guy who accepted his role coming off the bench as a senior for Bob Hurley Sr. at St. Anthony's in favor of Tyshawn Taylor, Mike Rosario, Jio Fontain and Dominic Cheek. 

"I've tried to play my role since I got here," Woodall said. "But this was finally my time." 

However, then came the defensive slide against Duquesne in which he suffered the lower abdominal and groin injury. Woodall sat out the next six games and then tried to come back following a shocking home loss against Wagner. 

"That was just me being frustrated," Woodall said. "I wasn't ready, but I just couldn't sit there and watch any more." 

But the loss to Wagner was just the start of the team's troubles. Pittsburgh dropped its first seven league games and was written off by just about everyone for an NCAA tourney berth. 

Then Woodall came back and everything changed. Next up is tonight's road contest against South Florida -- and a victory would inch the Panthers back into the hunt, especially if those on the NCAA Selection Committee understand the importance Woodall makes to this team. 

"One at a time," Woodall repeated.

Posted on: February 7, 2012 3:15 pm
Edited on: February 8, 2012 7:59 am
 

Pastner's job just got a lot harder at Memphis

Memphis basketball will see its profile raised -- and that could be a good and bad thing for its head coach. (AP)

By Gary Parrish


News that Memphis is expected to join the Big East is great for the city of Memphis. And the University of Memphis. And the athletic department. And the football program. And the fans. And pretty much everybody ... except Josh Pastner.

This is not a great development for the Memphis basketball coach.

Granted, it doesn't necessarily have to be a bad thing. But there's a reason John Calipari went from a coach who won just one NCAA tournament game in his first five seasons at Memphis to a coach who went to a Final Four, two Elite Eights and a Sweet 16 in his last four years, and it's not solely because somebody (allegedly) took Derrick Rose's SAT. The rise to prominence coincided with Louisville, Cincinnati and Marquette getting the hell out of Conference USA and leaving Memphis as the only school in the league that funded its basketball program like a national power. Suddenly, nobody else in C-USA could recruit like Memphis or travel like Memphis or pay its coach like Memphis, and the Tigers started overwhelming the league in the exact same way -- and for exactly the same reasons -- that Gonzaga had been overwhelming the West Cost Conference.

Those advantages disappear the day Memphis moves to the Big East.

And what's to be gained for the basketball coach?

The Tigers already routinely sell out FedExForum and recruit almost nothing but Top 100 prospects, so the usual bumps that come with an advancement in conference affiliation won't matter much to Pastner. The only thing that'll change is that he'll no longer be able to out-recruit his league because Louisville, Connecticut, Villanova, Marquette and Georgetown (just to name a few) all recruit at the highest levels, too. So now Pastner will find himself fighting with the likes of Rick Pitino, Jay Wright, John Thompson III and Mike Brey to get to the top of the Big East, and he'll be scrapping like crazy in some years to avoid falling into the bottom half. It's much easier to consistently beat UAB, UTEP and Southern Miss than it is to consistently beat at least 10 Big East programs. That's the reality of the situation. The Memphis job just got a lot tougher.

Which is not to suggest this isn't a day for Memphians to celebrate.

Because it is.

A jump to the Big East has been in the works for nearly a decade.

Now it's happening.

It really is happening.

The move will bring more exposure to the school, more money to the athletic department and more compelling games to the fans, and it might just turn that mess of a football program into something relevant, too. Those are all positives. But the move will also undeniably make Josh Pastner's job much more difficult. Twenty-five wins a season won't be practically guaranteed anymore. That's the downside of moving up in the world.


Posted on: February 7, 2012 12:57 pm
Edited on: February 7, 2012 2:21 pm
 

Tuesday poll, here we go

By Matt Norlander

You know what to do. Here we are again, voting on the outcomes of games. The results will air on "Courtside with Seth Davis" Wednesday night at 7 p.m. ET, as well as "Inside College Basketball," which goes live at 11 p.m. ET later that night. Both shows, of course, are on the CBS Sports Network.



Want more of us? Or more interaction with hoops fans? We suggest you like the Eye On College Basketball Facebook page. And if that's not enough, CBSSports.com has your roundball fix tended to thanks to our daily newsletter.
Posted on: February 7, 2012 10:10 am
Edited on: February 7, 2012 10:26 am
 

UConn may look it, but Huskies not dead yet

It's hard to figure that UConn could be this flat and uninspiring. (US PRESSWIRE)

By Jeff Goodman

UConn looks like a dead team -- and I know dead teams when I see them. 

I swear I saw one last March 5. That was Senior Night in Storrs, when Kemba Walker went through the festivities despite being a junior, when the Huskies couldn't beat a Notre Dame team without its best player on the floor for the final 8 minutes, 29 seconds. 

The Irish led, 60-52, when Big East Player of the Year Ben Hansbrough went to the sidelines with his fifth foul. UConn regained the lead less than three minutes later, but the Huskies couldn't hold on for the win. The loss dropped Jim Calhoun's team to 9-9 in Big East play. 

That sure looked like a dead team. Dead and buried. At least that's what everyone thought. 

It was like a morgue in that locker room after the game. That was UConn's fourth loss in the past five games and every head on that team was down. No one had any answers, least of all Walker. 

"No clue," Walker said as he shook his head on that day when I asked him what was wrong. "I have no idea." 

Then came the magical, the unlikeliest of runs that started with five wins in five consecutive days to win the Big East tournament and concluded with six more to claim the national title. 

Do I think it will happen again with this team, which was obliterated in the Yum! Center last night by Louisville?  No. But I've also learned never to count anyone out after what happened a year ago. 

My colleague Gary Parrish made plenty of valid points in his column last night. This team doesn't have Kemba Walker. Right now, it also doesn't even have its Hall of Fame coach -- who is out with what appears to be a serious back injury. 

But many of these guys have dug out of the deepest possible hole. 

The Huskies are now 15-8 overall and 5-6 in Big East play with a road game against 23-1 Syracuse in the Carrier Dome up next. Freshman Andre Drummond was abysmal last night, Jeremy Lamb hasn't lived up to expectations some put on him prior to the season and Shabazz Napier has been an enigma. Alex Oriakhi was relegated to bench duty for much of the season, a move I still feel has hurt this team in a variety of ways.  

It certainly doesn't appear promising for this group of Huskies, but if there's one thing I learned last year is that some teams can come back from the dead. 


Posted on: February 6, 2012 11:23 pm
Edited on: February 6, 2012 11:57 pm
 

Night Court: Missouri survives another close game

Oklahoma's Steven Pledger reacts after his game-tying 3-pointer rimmed out at the buzzer against Missouri. (AP)

By Jeff Borzello

Here’s everything you need to know about Monday’s slate of college basketball games …

Game of the day: Oklahoma has had several close games recently, and Monday night against Missouri was no different, with the Sooners falling, 71-68. Both teams came out of the gate knocking down shots, especially Marcus Denmon, who finished with 25 points. Missouri had the lead for the entire second half, but Oklahoma kept it within one possession for the final minutes. The Sooners had a chance to tie the game, but Romero Osby missed two free throws and Steven Pledger’s 3-pointer at the buzzer rimmed out.

Win to brag about: Beating Texas A&M this season isn’t the same as it was the past couple of years, but Texas couldn’t afford another close loss (or a loss in general). The Longhorns were 0-7 in games decided by six points or fewer heading into Monday, but they held off Texas A&M down the stretch for a 70-68 win. J’Covan Brown had 20 points and seven assists to lead the Longhorns.

Loss to hide from: Remember when we thought Connecticut might turn things around after its win over Seton Hall on Saturday? Yeah, that didn’t happen. The Huskies were outhustled, outmuscled and outworked by Louisville en route to an 80-59 loss. And it didn’t even feel that close. Louisville shot 44 percent from 3-point range, and held Andre Drummond, Shabazz Napier and Jeremy Lamb to 16 points on 6-for-26 shooting.

Player who deserves improper benefits: Marquette’s Jamil Wilson has only reached double-figures in scoring four times this season, and has not grabbed more than seven rebounds in a game. On Monday night, Wilson led Marquette to a 89-76 comeback win over DePaul, totaling 18 points, 10 rebounds, three assists, two steals and two blocks – on 8-for-12 shooting.

Player(s) who does not deserve improper benefits: Connecticut’s debacle of an offensive performance deserves more than just one mention. Andre Drummond was dominated by Gorgui Dieng all night, as the Louisville big man finished with 15 points, six rebounds and six steals. Even worse, Drummond went 0-for-6 from the field and didn’t score a single point. Drummond has all the talent in the world, but the desire is lacking.

Numbers don’t lie:

  • 4: Four of Missouri’s last five wins have been by three points or fewer.
  • 3:45: Vermont has trailed for just 3:45 in its last 133:02 played. The Catamounts have won seven in a row after beating Maine.
  • 0: Kennesaw State remains winless in the Atlantic Sun after losing at home to USC-Upstate. The Owls are 0-13 in the league, 2-22 vs. D-I competition.
  • 93: Southern beat Jackson State, 49-44. In overtime. That’s 93 combined points in 45 minutes of basketball.
  • 16: South Carolina State had lost 16 games in a row before beating beating Longwood on Monday.

Three other notable results:

  1. Mississippi Valley State is 11-0 in the SWAC after beating Alabama A&M. MVSU was just 1-11 in non-conference play.
  2. Davidson has now won three in a row since dropping its first league game last weekend, beating Wofford by 22.
  3. Stony Brook stayed atop the America East at 11-1 with a 57-48 victory over New Hampshire.

Notes:

  • Belmont steamrolled Austin Peay, 94-55, in a non-conference tilt.
  • Mercer took a half-game lead in the Atlantic Sun, beating East Tennessee State, 54-46.
  • Idaho State played Montana close for a half, but the Grizzlies dominated the second half in a 76-40 victory to move to 10-1 in the Big Sky.
More College Basketball coverage
Posted on: February 5, 2012 12:27 am
Edited on: February 5, 2012 12:42 am
 

Night Court: Kansas-Mizzou delivers the goods

That is a 'Breaking Bad' reference for those who don't get it. (Getty Images)
By Matt Norlander

Here’s everything you need to know about Saturday night’s light slate of games …

Game of the Night:  It was Kansas-Missouri, of course. It couldn't be anything else. Parrish was there, and he'll have reaction/column on the experience shortly. As for my thoughts on the Tigers' 74-71 win, I thought the game was marred by officiating, but rarely does that bother me. The refs blow calls in every game, and at this point, unless it's particularly brutal -- like, among the five worst calls in a season -- I just consider it another turnover. I think it's a damn shame that could've been the last time Kansas takes the bus to Columbia for a game, though. Missouri wanted nothing to do with the Big 12, and now the rivalry is set to die after the season. Too bad.

Win to brag about: The Northern Iowa buzzer-beating win at home against the Valley's best team was bodacious. UNI is fighting to be an NIT bubble team, but it mucked up the MVC race by getting such a sizzling victory.

Loss to hide from: A lot of teams don't have wiggle room. Nevada was 19-3 entering the day, but it was a soft 19-3. It lost to 12-11 Idaho at home. The Wolf Pack now can most likely only afford to lose in the WAC finals if they want an at-large.

Player who deserves improper benefits: Thomas Robinson one-upped Jared Sullinger, scoring 25 and getting 13 rebounds after Sullinger had 24 and 10 earlier in the day. What's particularly egregious: Robinson didn't get a touch on the final three Kansas possessions. I checked the tape. The Jayhawks could have made it happen.

Another player who deserves improper benefits: The man who blocks. Anthony Davis, who set the SEC freshman record for blocks in a season, passing Shaq's record for more than two decades ago. Davis' eight swats today put him at 116 for the year. Davis will likely put this record beyond orbit by the end of February.

Player who does not deserve improper benefits: Chace Stanback's two points in 20 minutes in UNLV's loss at Wyoming was pretty glaring. I still am very high on Vegas, but I'd like to not see Stanback disappear like this again. He's the wrinkle that makes UNLV hard to contain.

Numbers don’t lie

  • 12. The MAC East beat the MAC West 12-0 this week. On the year, the East leads the battle 21-3.
  • 25.1. That's Damian Lillard's points per game average, tops in the nation, and stays that way thanks to 35 tonight against Northern Colorado.
  • 40 and 40. The Summit League's two best players, Nate Wolters and Dominique Morrison, both played 40 minutes and led their team to wins tonight. DoMo had 36 and Wolters had 31.

Other notable results

  1. Dayton is now 4-5 in the A10 and 14-9 overall. I'm embarrassed to have ever put this team in the Power Pyramid.
  2. For the first time since being coach of Indiana, Tom Crean got a road win in the Big Ten against the team that wasn't named Penn State. 78-61 over Purdue is just what the doctor ordered for IU. Purdue seems destined to play in Dayton in the First Four.
  3. The game will be a bit of an afterthought on this day, but UNC struggled on the way to an 83-74 win at Maryland. Tyler Zeller was again spectacular, putting up 22 points and seven rebounds.
  4. Important game in the CAA saw George Mason beat Old Dominion 54-50. Mason (19-6) remains in a tie atop the league at 11-2 thanks to the win. Playing its way to an at-large if it can win most of the rest from here on out.
  5. Iowa State 77, Oklahoma 70. Iowa State now 7-3 in the conference and, yeah, this is a tournament team.
  6. Boy, oh, boy did Alabama need to avoid losing at home to Ole Miss -- and it did. But it took two overtimes. A 69-67 Tide win. If it can win at home and just get by in the SEC Alabama will sneak in to the field of 68.

Notes

  • Mentioned that Creighton loss above. Wichita State won at home over Indiana State, which means WSU and Creighton are tied atop the Valley. The two play each other next Saturday.
  • Middle Tennessee State was another unbeaten-in-conference team entering the day. No more. Fell at Denver 75-60. If it was a five-point and not a 15-point loss, that'd have been much better. Blue Raiders are a bubble team, but barely now, and they have no BracketBuster opportunity.
  • I've never seen a basketball stanchion just go to sleep like this after a dunk. 
  • Crazy to know that Texas A&M was picked by league coaches to win the Big 12. Aggies fell 64-53 at K-State and are now 3-7 in conference.
  • Apparently it's rumored UNC and Kentucky will not play each other in the non-con next year. Would be dumb for both teams to opt out of that.
Posted on: February 4, 2012 5:05 pm
Edited on: February 4, 2012 5:28 pm
 

Afternoon Delight: Daytime games don't disappoint

I can't even bite into pudding after seeing Ronald Nored's chipped Chiclet. Butler fell 65-61 to Detroit. (Mocksession.com)

By Matt Norlander

On busier Saturdays and Sundays this season, we’re not going to make you wait until the end of the slate of games to catch up with all that’s happened. Afternoon Delight (3-pointers in flight!) recaps the first five-or-so hours’ worth of action, the perfecta appetizer right before dinnertime.

The best we’ve seen so far:  The Buckeyes got their first win at Kohl since 2000. Thad Matta won in Madison for the first time. It was close. It was quintessential Big Ten basketball, which means I took fadeaway shots with balled-up socks at my living room garbage can to pass the time and make up for lost entertainment. Jared Sullinger’s performance is addressed below. As for Wisconsin, my adoration’s worn off. I still may pick it to win a game in March, but at this point, I’d be happier getting burned and being wrong if they managed to make the second weekend. Team is limited, Jordan Taylor will never get back the level of play he was at last season and UW is all too frustrating to be invested in anymore.

Deserving of a free dinner at the restaurant of their choice: It was the inter-conference game that had the most intrigue. Xavier at Memphis. X led most of the way, bloating its lead in the second half to 10 with six minutes remaining. It looked good and in control. Then, a Memphis run. The Tigers finished the game on a 21-6 run. Memphis looks good now. It needs to avoid getting stupid in C-USA and it will saunter into the tournament. Xavier gets to ride the carousel in the A10 and hope it plays better than 90 percent of the league. No guarantee.  

No soup for youI’d like to go out and thank Georgetown for exposing South Florida. The Hoyas won at home today over USF, 75-45. Few bought into the Bulls, but losing like this will convince everyone that Stan Heath’s team isn’t, and never was, tournament-worthy.  

Afternoon all-stars

  1. Sully went for 24 and 10 and had three steals to boot. Eagerly awaiting what Thomas Robinson does to respond in the marquee game tonight in Columbia.
  2. Who is Pat Connaughton? Seriously. I have no idea. Somebody whip up a profile piece. This freshman had 23 and 11 in Notre Dame’s big win over Marquette.
  3. Jamelle Hagins, who plays for Borzello’s Delaware Blue Hens, had 18 rebounds in a UD W over James Madison.
  4. Vandy might’ve lost, but Jeff Taylor had 25 points, six boards and four steals. He was on his game today. He plays like that going forward, Vandy’s a Sweet 16 team. I swear!
  5. Props to VMI’s Keith Gabriel who, as of this post, has a day-high 32. VMI beat Winthrop 86-79.
  6. Andre Drummond had seven blocks and a filthy alley-oop which is not yet available on the Web.

Other daytime action worth your attention

  1. Florida State is a 7-1 ACC team after defeating Virginia at home, 58-55. Want to emphasize just how good this is for FSU, which is halfway home in conference play and will remain atop the ACC standings with Duke and North Carolina. Virginia falls further behind the pack. The Cavs and Seminoles traded turnovers with each other, but at least the game kept my attention, which isn’t the case with 90 percent of tilts involving ACC teams this year.  
  2. Anyone who tries to make Notre Dame’s 76-59 defeat of Marquette more about the Golden Eagles isn’t giving the right due to Mike Brey, who I’m fairly certain came thisclose to having to start a Gatorade cooler earlier this season. The Fighting Irish are now a 7-3 Big East team with DePaul, Villanova and Rutgers aligned in three of their next four games. My God, the Irish stand a good chance of cracking the field! Anything to keep mock turtlenecks relevant: I’m for it.
  3. Goodman will have more on Vanderbilt falling 73-65 at Florida. I’m guessing he’ll be writing Florida, so let me say something quickly on Vandy: I’M STILL NOT GIVING UP ON YOU. LOOK AT ME. WE CAN MAKE THIS WORK.
  4. UConn’s 69-46, Calhoun coached-less win at home over Seton Hall came as dominantly as the Huskies and their fans could have asked for. But we can’t overreact. Seton Hall didn’t have Herb Pope. And Seton Hall has white guys who can’t shoot. Road tests ahead for the Huskies, and it’s then we’ll find out if the team’s got gumption or not. Beating hobbling roadkill like SHU isn’t going to capture the committee’s attention.

Delightful (and not-so delightful) thoughts

  • Difference between home and road. Jan. 14, Baylor plays Okie State at home, wins 106-65. Saturday, Baylor plays Okie State on road, wins 64-60. And if you’ve got a problem with “Okie State,” just know I’ll never stop writing it that way.
  • Fab Melo scored a career-high 14 points after missing three games due to academic troubles. As a people, we cannot let Melo’s haircut to continue, however.
  • Arizona went into Palo Alto and cleaned up the Cardinal, winning 56-43. It basically means nothing, though.
  • I’ll have something on the A10 tonight or tomorrow—depending on how crazy the evening games get—in how it’s a beautiful disaster of sorts. That was reinforced this afternoon once top-ranked La Salle fell to St. Joe’s, 70-66.
  • I’m thrilled to report I’ll continue to not pay attention to Arkansas, as I was alerted to the fact the Hogs fell on the road again today, losing at lousy LSU, 71-65.
Posted on: February 3, 2012 3:10 pm
Edited on: February 3, 2012 4:55 pm
 

Chart: Calhoun's pattern of missing games

By Matt Norlander

If it seems to you like Jim Calhoun's been missing more and more games in recent years, you're right. The UConn coach has completely missed 21 games (23 if you count the upcoming two against Seton Hall and Louisville) during his time with the Huskies. Fifteen of those 23 games have come since 2008. To read that another way, 65 percent of the games Calhoun has been forced to sit out of have happened in the past four and a half seasons of his career (less than one-fifth of his tenure at the school).

Calhoun's even had instances where he's left in the middle of games due to illness and had George Blaney man the controls for the remainder of the night. His health remains a concern on many fronts at the school, and talk of his replacement has been speculated about for the past few years. This most recent health battle will only intensify the conversation of when/if/should Calhoun, nearly 70, should retire from coaching.

Here's a canonical list of every Connecticut game Calhoun didn't coach in, the reason why, the opponent and whether the Huskies won or lost. Overall, UConn is 11-10 when their chieftain watches them on television.




Source: UConn athletic department.
 
 
 
 
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