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
Posted on: December 8, 2011 9:15 am

Wakeup Call: Sign up for our new newsletter

By Matt Norlander

Is there something fundamentally wrong with how we assemble standardized tests in this country? // This worst-Christmas-songs bracket is fine, but at least six of those songs do not suck. If you can't bop to "The Most Wonderful Time of the Year," then you can't wear that sweater to my party. Also, McCartney penned the worst still-widely-played Christmas song ever. // Suicide by piranha? // Is Guns N' Roses the Gale Sayers of HOF rock and roll bands? Rush continues to be victimized. // That's one heck of a cake to thank your surgeon with. //

★ Palm's second edition of Bracketology is up. Go look and see if where/if your team would be in the tournament, should it start today.

★ I haven't been incessant about this on the blog at all, so here it goes: We're on Facebook. A Like would be appreciated, absolutely. We do things a little different over on that side of the Internet.

★ We've also now got a newsletter which, again, is enough of a change-up from what you see on the blog that it's worth subscribing to. We're trying to give you as much access, information and variance in coverage/tone that you're satisfied no matter what.

★ The Syracuse DA has his doubts about the third accuser in the Bernie Fine case.

★ Non-Fine news related to Syracuse: The AD says it won't leave the Big East early. Hmmmmm. It's expected Zach Tomaselli will file a civil suit against Fine today.

Missed this. Love it.

★ You think San Diego State going to the Big West won't hurt recruiting?

★ The once-sour relationship with Tim Hardaway, Jr. and his famous father.

★ The Legends Classic had a bad showing in Atlantic City in 2010. This year, further north at the Izod Center, it wasn't much better. But in 2012, it's off to Brooklyn.

★ Another problem surfaces at UCLA, but this has nothing to do with character issues or suspensions.

★ I enjoy Mrs. O'Neil when she finds that soapbox and pulls it out of the storage bin.

★ This really does look like a Butler team that could not make the tournament this season. We best get used to that.

Beasties got voted into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame yesterday, as linked above. Of all their singles, this is my favorite. Also the first one I memorized. The Boys still have it after three decades; I really liked a lot of Hot Sauce Committee Part Two. Well I'm as cool as a cucumber in a bowl of hot sauce ...

Posted on: December 7, 2011 11:50 pm
Edited on: December 7, 2011 11:57 pm

Night Court: Florida knocks off Arizona in OT

Jeff Borzello

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

Game of the day: Without Josiah Turner, Arizona went into Florida with its back against the wall. The Wildcats, though, led by seven with seven minutes left before Florida rallied to win in overtime, 78-72. Nick Johnson was solid in Turner’s place, while Patric Young dominated down low for Florida, going for 25 points and 10 rebounds.

Win to brag about: Dayton had struggled since winning the Old Spice Classic, losing to Buffalo and Murray State by a combined 46 points the past two games. However, the Flyers led by as many as 16 points en route to a 74-62 win over Alabama. Kevin Dillard had 14 points, eight rebounds and six assists, while Chris Johnson racked up 20 points.

Loss to hide from: There were a couple of embarrassing losses, but Utah takes the cake yet again. The Utes played host to a Cal State Fullerton team that is expected to be a middle-of-the-pack team in the Big West – and lost by 31. Utah was outrebounded by 28, and also allowed the Titans to shoot nearly 57 percent from the field. It’s almost at the point where, if Utah doesn’t beat Idaho State next weekend, the Utes might not beat a Division-I team this season.

Player who deserves improper benefits: In Festus Ezeli’s first game back for Vanderbilt, it was another Commodore that stole the show. Jeffery Taylor went for 30 points and four rebounds, shooting 12-for-17 from the field, in an 87-83 win over Davidson. As for Ezeli, the big man had 15 points and six assists.

Player who does not deserve improper benefits: Penn State's Tim Frazier came into Wednesday averaging 19 points per game. Against Lafayette at home, Frazier went 0-for-12 from the field with five turnovers in a 61-57 loss. Frazier finished with just three points, although he did dish out nine assists.

Numbers don’t lie:

  • After its win over Alabama on Wednesday, Dayton has now won nine of its last 10 games against BCS opponents.
  • Louisville’s Chris Smith scored 19 points against IUPUI on Wednesday, surpassing 1,000 career points.
  • Meanwhile, Alex Young was held to just nine points for the Jaguars. That’s only the fourth time in the past two seasons he’s been held to single-digits.
  • Georgia Tech beat Georgia on the road for the first time in 35 years.
  • Colorado State came into Wednesday leading the nation in 3-point percentage at 46 percent. The Rams went 4-for-11 from behind the arc.

Three other notable results:

  1. Illinois rallied late to beat St. Bonaventure, 48-43. Brandon Paul scored 12 points in the last four minutes.
  2. Wisconsin beat Wisconsin-Green Bay by 28, but the Kohl Center didn’t sell out for the first time in 144 games.
  3. Xavier handled Butler in a battle of two of the best non-BCS programs, 73-61. The Musketeers jumped out to a 27-9 lead and never looked back.


  • Nevada beat Arizona State, but Malik Story was held to nine points, below his season average of 15 points per game. That shouldn’t come as a surprise, as ASU assistant Scott Pera was Story’s high school coach.
  • Princeton beat Rutgers for the second straight season, as Ian Hummer hit a game-winner with three seconds left.
  • High Point’s Nick Barbour went for 35 points Wednesday night, but Wake Forest picked up a road win.
  • Weber State’s Damian Lillard, the nation’s leading scorer, was held to 15 points on 5-for-12 shooting as BYU beat the Wildcats, 94-66.
  • Iona rallied from a 13-point halftime deficit to beat Denver in overtime, 80-78. Randy Dezouvre hit a long 2-pointer with 1.6 seconds left in overtime.

On tap: There’s a top-25 matchup on the docket, as Harvard visits Connecticut in a game many are pointing to as a potential upset. Two of the most intense coaches in the country – Frank Martin and Bob Huggins – will tangle when West Virginia takes on Kansas State. The best non-BCS game of the day will involve Cleveland State and Robert Morris.

Photo: US Presswire

Posted on: December 7, 2011 4:36 pm
Edited on: December 7, 2011 4:37 pm

Podcast: This one is lacking in holiday cheer

By Matt Norlander

It's Wednesday, so that means Goodman and Parrish are back on the podcast. Parrish saw Jay-Z and Kanye Saturday night, so we have to lead our show with how the show everyone's talking about. Playing the same song eight times in a row? That apparently happened.

After the music gabbing, its on to the hoops, of course. Ben Howland refusing to kick Reeves Nelson off the team, Marquette's ability, Missouri as an elite team, Goodman and I yelling at each other about Marcus Denmon. Oh, this is a good one, indeed. Then there's the Big Ten/Big East debate, which is increasing (we're totally responsible for this).

Sorry this one was late -- had to get our ducks in a row in order to get the three of us on at the same time. We think it's worth it, though.

While we watch the throne:
  • From the beginning: A full review of the Watch the Throne show Parrish was at.
  • 5:20: So, about that whole Reeves-Nelson-still-on-UCLA thing ...
  • 8:54: Goodman was at MSG for the Jimmy V Classic. He's got a hotel story first before we get to the hoops.
  • 11:37: Phil Pressey and Missouri. And Goodman gets angry at me! CONFLICT!
  • 16:10: Goodman writes about Marquette's lack of talent. I disagree. And so we fight a little more. We're both on about a combined seven hours of sleep, so it got a little ornery.
  • 20:50: It's December, in case you hadn't heard. This is the slowest time, the next three weeks, of college basketball. Storylines come in smaller supply, the meaningful matchups aren't as much there due to finals, the holidays and the lead up to conference play.
  • 24:29: The most under-the-radar team in a major conference right now: Kansas State? Goodman talked with Frank Martin this week.
  • 26:25: Big Ten/Big East/Big 12 talk. Oh, and Goodman chirps at Parrish about Thomas Robinson. This was just an awesome podcast for bickering.
  • 31:47: Wrap-up chat and miscellaneous talk. Goodman and I make nice again, which is good, because I'm kind of terrified of the guy when he gets angry.

You can listen to the CBSSports.com College Basketball Podcast every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. The podcasts go up here and on iTunes. The Wednesday show is dedicated to keeping the egos of CBSSports.com national writers Jeff Goodman and Gary Parrish inflated. Mondays and Fridays are for the real people to come on. Here's the iTunes link. We also have an RSS feed for you to track. If you're still going strong and hanging on to a Zune, then, yes, you can listen on that as well.

Posted on: December 7, 2011 9:20 am
Edited on: December 7, 2011 9:32 am

Wakeup Call: Pac-12 suspensions becoming a trend

By Matt Norlander

Music today is horrible, etc. // My God I'm horrified and yet can't look away. // I love eight of the top 10 worst cereals for you. // This was a terrific read ...

Very tragic news out of Ohio State.

★ They turn around that SI Sportsman of the Year dinner pretty quick, huh? When do you think Summitt and K got the news? I'm saying about 10 days ago.

★ Josiah Turner will not play tonight against Florida. Gators should win by 10 or 14.

★ Did you catch it? Jay Bilas infused his Twitter persona on the air last night.

★ Been awhile since I've agreed this much with a Mike DeCourcy column.

★ Goodman could just as easily blog all this great information, but it's much prettier in one big column.

★ Why the sophomore-year improvement for one point guard hasn't translated to similar results for his team.

★ One program, a program with one of the greatest nicknames in the history of sports, played its 2,000 game last night.

★ John Gasaway, I know you read the Wakeup Call, and so I want to thank you directly for a very convincing argument against those who believe players receiving endorsements will create chaos for competing schools.
★ We're big proponents of non-D-I dunks here in the Wakeup Call. The latest. The play-by-play is just as good. Feel free to send yours if you're from an NAIA, D-II or D-III school.

Talking Twitter and hoops, Borzello and I are.

★ I wrote about Florida yesterday, but that's not what I'm hear to talk about. I'm hear to link you to a better piece, written by Andy Glockner.

Howland does deserve criticism for having the guts to suspend Reeves Nelson twice, but not kick him off the team. One explusion comes before two suspensions in three weeks, IMO.

★ On that Missouri win, that unbeaten start and my man, Marcus Denmon, playing even better than his biggest proponents thought he cold.

► This was relayed to me on Twitter yesterday after I bashed  the Big East for taking SMU. I'm now ready to fully retract that claim.

♬ I normally use this space to plug a band I think is worth your time/worth discovering. Today, I'm passing along an artist I'm not familiar with. It's a pretty disgusting blues track -- from a blind guy. This is so great. His name is Jeff Healey, and I don't know much of his music but that should change soon. Sad as hell: Healey's already left the coil, having died from cancer in 2008. We've been cheated again.

Photo: Getty Images

Posted on: December 7, 2011 1:09 am
Edited on: December 7, 2011 1:14 am

Washington faces must-win Saturday vs. Duke

By Jeff Borzello

NEW YORK – If one looked at Washington’s schedule at the beginning of the year, Saturday’s game at Duke wouldn’t be classified as a “must-win.”

After all, it’s Duke, in December, at the Garden. A game the Huskies would like to win, sure, but not a victory they probably needed to have.

Following the Washington’s loss on Tuesday to Marquette in the final seconds, though, this weekend’s tilt against the Blue Devils became much more important.

“It’s a big opportunity for us,” forward Darnell Gant said.

In reality, it’s more than that.

Washington is now 4-3, with losses to Saint Louis, Nevada and Marquette. The Huskies’ best win is over Georgia State at home. If Washington doesn’t beat Duke on Saturday, its only chance left for a remotely good non-conference win is against UC-Santa Barbara.

Yes, Washington’s best non-league win could be over UC-Santa Barbara – not a guaranteed victory – if it doesn’t knock off the Blue Devils this weekend.

“We’re aware of that,” head coach Lorenzo Romar said. “We have to concentrate on playing our best. We don’t tack on, ‘Oh by the way, we have to win this – extra.’”

With the Pac-12 in the midst of an extremely down year, the chances of Washington getting a marquee victory for its March resume are getting slimmer by the day. Right now, there’s not a top-25 team in the conference, with Stanford possibly looking like the best club.

Come Selection Sunday, which league victory is going to stand out to the committee? Oregon State? A reeling UCLA team? California has looked good, but even the Golden Bears haven’t beaten anyone of note yet. Arizona will get better as the season goes on, but when will the Wildcats become a highlight win?

It’s almost at the point where, if Washington doesn’t beat Duke on Saturday, the Huskies might need to win the Pac-12 title.

“I feel like we have to win every game now,” sophomore guard Terrence Ross said. “If we come out with a victory [over Duke], it could really help us in the future.”

For his part, Romar isn’t putting any extra pressure on his troops heading into Saturday.

“Tonight we didn’t finish, but we played pretty well. If we do that, we’ll win our fair share,” he said. “We won’t put it on them, like, if we don’t get it, this is it. We’ll play our best and see where the chips fall.”

Right now the chips aren’t falling in an overly optimistic fashion for the Huskies. With that said, last year didn’t feature an overwhelming non-conference season from Washington – and the Huskies still made the tournament. Of course, that team won the Pac-10 tournament and might not have made the Field of 68 as an at-large team had they lost to Arizona in the title game.

Moreover, that Pac-10 had Arizona as a No. 5 seed and UCLA as a No. 7 seed. At this point, there’s no team in the league that’s even a definite at-large candidate.

It’s tough to brand any mid-December game as a “must-win,” but would Saturday’s contest fall into that category?

As Ross answered: “Definitely.”

Photo: US Presswire

Posted on: December 6, 2011 12:54 pm
Edited on: December 9, 2011 1:55 pm

UCLA's Nelson suspended again

By Gary Parrish

UCLA's Reeves Nelson was suspended from the men's basketball team on Tuesday for the second time this season, Bruins coach Ben Howland told CBSSports.com via text message. This development contradicts an earlier erroneous report from BruinReportOnline.com that indicated Nelson had been dismissed.

Asked if Nelson was dismissed as reported, Howland responded, "He's been suspended indefinitely."

Nelson was the leading returning scorer and rebounder for the Bruins, but his junior season has been just as disastrous as UCLA's in general. The 6-foot-8 forward was suspended after a season-opening loss to Loyola-Marymount because of what basically amounted to an attitude problem that's been an issue for years. He missed UCLA's loss to Middle Tennessee State, then missed the team's flight to the Maui Invitational and played just 11 minutes against Chaminade. Nelson was benched for the second half of Saturday's game with Texas and was reportedly "laughing it up" on the sideline while his teammates lost 69-59.

"[Nelson's] behavior is totally uncharacteristic of what we want from a UCLA basketball player representing this history and tradition," UCLA coach Ben Howland said in Tuesday's Los Angeles Times. "It's something that is going to be dealt with when we get together again. It's been an ongoing problem the past two years which has gotten worse."

Nelson averaged 13.9 points and 9.1 rebounds in 31.3 minutes per game last season. He is only averaging 5.7 points and 4.5 rebounds in 19.3 minutes per game this season. UCLA -- the preseason pick to win the Pac-12 -- is 2-5 with its lone wins coming against Chaminade and Pepperdine. The Bruins play Penn on Saturday.

Photo: Getty Images
Posted on: December 6, 2011 9:09 am

Basketball Wakeup Call: Vitale gets court honors

By Matt Norlander

This got a lot of run on the 'Net Monday: the 45 Most Powerful Images of 2011. Just some absolute all-timers in there. // Yesterday had to be the biggest day in space news in ever. First, there was the planet with possible life on it. // We've got NASA Voyager up and out of this piece we call our Solar System. // The really happy news: astronomers have found black holes the size of 10 billion suns. There's only one way for this party to end, folks. // I hate that lists start so early in December (can't we wait until the 20th or so?), but here are/were the top stories on Twitter, Yahoo and Bing ...

★ How great was it that Dickie V got the floor named in his honor at Detroit last night? Good for him.

★ Utah's dumpster fire of a season continues.

★ The third accuser in the Bernie Fine case has fessed up to molesting a young himself.

The 10 sophomores a certain high-profile CBS TV analyst thinks you need to be watching for from here through March.

★ If you missed us linking to it yesterday, the gallery of every Sports Illustrated Sportsman or Sportswoman of the Year.

★ Looking at UNC-UK from a scout's perspective. Jonathon Givony does good work here.

★ I absolutely refuse to click on the video linked in this blog post, but I do wonder if Weber State's in for a lot of trouble in the next few weeks.

★ Love the hoops doubleheader. It's really no big deal for those kids -- they played three games in one day on the regular during AAU tournaments.

★ It's already starting to feel like a lost year for Utah State, yes?

★ The details of Chauncey Hardy's death overseas just seem like such a waste. A trial is now pending, since the investigation has been completed.

★ A different kind of Christmas tree.

★ Valpo has certainly become one of the good-not-great surprises of the season.

Now Ben Howland is seeing the light?

► This will get is annual airtime on ESPN tonight. Watch, as usual. Be moved, like you always are. One of the best things about ESPN's programming, undoubtedly.

♬ I could only hold out for a month before giving Jimi a bump. If you're just a casual Hendrix fan, then I just don't get it, but here's a tune you may not have heard before. It's in my top five.

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