Breaking down media mock; more notes (cont.)
By the way, the rumors that have Coach K going to the New Jersey Nets are patently ridiculous. His jones to coach professionals is being fully satiated by his role with USA Basketball. He can also win while doing that. Think that would be the case if he were coaching the Nets?
I am mystified by the disappearing act Michigan State's Raymar Morgan has pulled. Over his last five games, the Spartans' senior forward has averaged 5.2 points. It's no coincidence that Michigan State lost three of those games.
Whenever I see Saint Joseph's coach Phil Martelli, I am reminded of the phrase my SI colleague Michael Bamberger once used to describe him: He looks like the guy down the street who picks up the newspaper in his pajamas.
Texas Tech is a great example of why you can't just look at a team's RPI ranking to determine its tournament status. The Red Raiders are ranked 36th, and their overall strength of schedule checks in at 19th. Yet, they have just one win over a top 50 team, and that came at home against Oklahoma State. Their big win at home in overtime over Washington, which briefly vaulted them into the rankings, looks a lot less impressive now than it did then. That's why Texas Tech's loss at home against Texas A&M was such a missed opportunity. And it doesn't get easier from here: Next the Radiers face Baylor on the road, followed by Texas and Kansas State at home.
Likewise, Virginia Tech is a great example of why you can't just look at conference standings and records. If you'll recall, two years ago the Hokies went 10-6 in the ACC and got left out. Now they are 20-4 and tied for second in the ACC loss column with Wake Forest with a 7-3 conference record. That should make them a shoo-in, but they too only have one win against a team ranked in the RPI top 50, and that came against Clemson at home. More damning is their nonconference strength of schedule, which ranks 340th. Virginia Tech is in very good position, but it can't afford any bad losses the rest of the way, and it needs at least one more quality win. Beating Wake Forest at home Tuesday night would be an excellent start.
I'd love to see one of the stat geeks out there come up with a way to chart what players are doing in game-pressure situations -- say, in the last five minutes of the game with the scoring margin at six points or fewer. Can you get on that for me, Pomeroy and/or Gasaway?
I've picked on Butler's Matt Howard a lot this season, so let me give him his due. He has been playing much better the last few weeks and had his best game of the season in the Bulldogs' win at Cleveland State, the second-place team in the Horizon League. Howard registered 21 points and 13 rebounds. But best of all: only three fouls.
I disagree with the argument, which has been made often in the wake of the controversial timeout call at the end of the Syracuse-UConn game, that teams should no longer be allowed to call timeout unless there is a dead ball. This strikes me as an over correction. All we have to do is go back to the way it was before 1997, when coaches were given the ability to call timeout. If a coach wants a timeout, he should have to tell the player, and the player should then tell the ref. End of problem.
Penn State guard Talor Battle has to be first team All-Good-Player-Bad-Team.
It's a mystery sometimes why certain things work, but smart coaches don't mess with success. When BYU senior guard Jonathan Tavernari was struggling with his shooting earlier this season, he asked coach Dave Rose if he could come off the bench. Rose agreed, and since then Tavernari has played much better. Instead of reinstalling him in the starting lineup, Rose has continued to bring Tavernari off the bench, and to good effect. Tavernari had a team-high 19 points in the Cougars' win over Air Force last weekend.
I have been dismayed by the increasing trend of midseason firings, but I'd say Penn interim coach Jerome Allen has proven he deserves to be made permanent. The Quakers lost their first 10 games (Glen Miller was fired after the seventh), but have won three of their last five, including Friday's big upset of Cornell.
Speaking of Cornell, sometimes a guy comes out of nowhere to have a big game, and it's the start of something big. And other times ... it's not. Exhibit A is Cornell's senior forward Jon Jaques, who exploded for 20 points off the bench in the Big Red's biggest win of the season over St. John's back in December. Jacques has scored in double figures just twice since then, and he put up a bagel in Cornell's narrow escape at Princeton on Saturday.
Georgia Tech freshman forward Derrick Favors may be a great pro prospect, but he is not having a great season. Favors has limited offensive moves, and he is suffering from the Yellow Jackets' suspect point guard play. He has just one double-figure scoring game in his last five outings and completely disappeared against Wake Forest's tall front line Saturday, finishing with four points and two rebounds.
Interesting to see Temple's Michael Eric, a 6-foot-11 sophomore from Nigeria, put up a career-high 19 points in Saturday's win over Rhode Island. If Eric can give the Owls a more consistent post complement to Lavoy Allen, that will be a game changer for them.
I hope LSU coach Trent Johnson has some good players coming in next year. Not only is his team royally bad (0-11 in the SEC, 9-16 overall), but his best player, Tasmin Mitchell, is a senior.
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