Talk hoops all year long in Luke Winn's blog, a journal of commentary, news and reader-driven discussions about the college game.
2/17/2008 02:34:00 PM
The Weekend That Was: Four Parting Thoughts
Memphis is still unbeaten -- but only after Robert Vaden's last-second shot missed the mark for UAB.
(Consider this a warmup for all the tourney blogging that awaits next month ... and beware, there's a minuscule Wire spoiler in part 2.)
1. If ESPN were to begin hyping up Tennessee-Memphis six days early, as if it were college hoops' Super Bowl, I wouldn't have any problem with it. Given what's on the line, the battle for Volunteer State supremacy feels about 10 times more important than the Nos. 2-vs.-3 Duke-Carolina game on Feb. 6. And yet I can't escape the feeling that if the Tigers were going to actually lose during the regular season, it would've happened in an out-of-the-spotlight, on-the-road situation like Saturday night's game in Birmingham.
Memphis-UAB was only televised regionally by CSS, and therefore most of the country only caught the Tigers' amazing comeback (and the ugly postgame melee, with classless Blazers fans throwing debris, and Joey Dorsey being restrained from attacking them) via highlight reels. Down 77-70 with 1:23 to go, the Tigers went on an 9-1 run -- with six of the points coming from All-America lock Chris Douglas-Roberts -- to close the game and save their undefeated season. Whereas Memphis has been prone to cold streaks from the field and the free-throw line in less-hyped Conference USA games, it has looked unbeatable in its marquee matchups at FedEx Forum. Just ask Georgetown, Arizona and Gonzaga how difficult it is to pull off an upset in that building.
(Update: Thanks to this photo posted on the Memphis Commercial Appeal's Web site Sunday, there's evidence of a player identified as Tigers forward Pierre Nilesslapping a fan in the UAB student section. So it appears -- beyond what was presented in the highlights -- that there was a lack of class on both sides. Conference USA said on Sunday night that it was investigating the matter.)
2. Damn, Indiana. Did you really go from treating Kelvin Sampson like persona non grata when he walked onto Assembly Hall's court on Saturday night, to chanting his name with less than two minutes left in that 80-61 win over Michigan State? Sampson's entry was met with a mix of boos and groans and uncomfortable silence. Somehow he managed to walk off the court like Sen. Clay Davis emerged from this week's grand jury hearing in The Wire: gleefully victorious. I'm happy there will be no postseason ban for the Hoosiers. None of the players had anything to do with Sampson's deceptions and disregard for NCAA rules, after all. But letting Sampson continue to coach while IU sharpens the guillotine -- and athletic director Rick Greenspan figures out ways to suggest he wasn't solely to blame for Sampson's hiring -- just makes for sad theater.
3. Brook and Robin Lopez put on quite the show for Stanford on Saturday at Arizona, with Brook (23 points, 10 boards) hitting the game-winning free throws, and Robin (14 points, eight rebounds) swatting Chase Budinger's last-second layup attempt. Brook, who seems to get at least one touch on every Cardinal offensive possession, is already listed as the fourth pick in DraftExpress' 2008 mock, but you have to wonder: If there were just one Lopez, rather than twins, and he had Brook's offensive skills and Robin's defensive skills, would he be regarded as a better NBA prospect than Greg Oden was last year?
4. I just watched Notre Dame barely survive against Rutgers at the RAC, and was reminded of something that Irish guard Kyle McAlarney had pointed out after Wednesday's loss to UConn: That meeting with the Huskies -- which took place on Feb. 13, mind you -- was Notre Dame's first road game in an on-campus arena all season. How in the name of Kelly Tripucka could that happen? To start, the Irish didn't play a single true road game outside of the Big East: they played only neutral-site affairs in St. Thomas (the Paradise Jam) and New York (the Jimmy V). And then their first four Big East road games were all at off-campus, NBA-style arenas used by Marquette (Bradley Center), Georgetown (Verizon Center), Villanova (Wachovia Center) and Seton Hall (Prudential Center). The Irish are a high-quality team with a legit All-America candidate in Luke Harangody, but they haven't exactly been battle-tested away from South Bend.
Love your Wire shout-outs, best show on television. As for Memphis looking vulnerable, their game against UAB was probably their worst defensive game of the season and besides CDR and Anderson, the rest of the team was pretty lousy. Yet they still won. For a team that goes 10 deep into the bench, having 8 of those guys play their worst game won't happen very often. Come tournament time, they'll be sharp, and they'll go all the way.
Ah, Luke -- you have to give us Indiana fans a little more credit than that. Sampson remains (as you put it) a persona non grata at IU, even in the minds of many of the fans who were chanting his name at the end of Saturday night's game. But that doesn't prevent us from appreciating the tremendous coaching job he did to get the Indiana kids ready to play against a good team in the midst of a media circus. As much as Sampson deserves to be fired, it is not easy to fire one of the nation's elite college basketball coaches. Indiana fans know this, because Indiana has done it before -- in September 2000.
Sampson's name chant at the end of the IU/MSU game was a bit much (I was there) but the crowd was giddy and crazy over the blow-out win AND the team was well coached.
However, I strongly disagree that Sampson is an elite coach. If anything, he's an elite lying fool whose sociopathic behavior cost him one of the great coaching positions in the NCAA. Sampson never realized he didn't need to cheat to create his own legacy at IU. Instead, he'll go down as a tragic example of the win at all cost mentality. We IU fans, grads and students are embarassed our university nabobs would have considered Sampson in the first place.
Mr. Winn... Have you ever been too around 17,000 fans, or people for that matter that all agreed on the same thing? Not at all. While most of the people who want Sampson out now were happy to boo and give comments when times called for it, the fans who wish he would stay also met their chance to chant his name in an impressive win. In no way does a split crowd each taking their chance to voice an opinion translate in to a unified wishy-washy fan base.
How is it Notre Dame's fault all those other teams choose to schedule off site? At most ND should have played one road game out of conference and to be honest isn't the Big East tournament and the NCAA all on neutral sites. I think taking a team picked in the bottom half of the Big East and getting them a bye in the tourney is more then enough for one coach and team to accomplish. There was almost no one outside of those boys and a few true loyal fans who ever saw this coming, for the second year in a row. Maybe next year ND won't have to come from the depths of the unranked to prove there is some pretty good basketball being played in South Bend.
Ah, Indiana! What a desperate, pathetic school, with their 'elite' coach. You got what you deserved, a cheating, pathetic liar. And Gordon will be gone after this year. Good luck with recruiting for the next few years.
Too bad Luke failed to mention that Brook was the beneficiary of a phatom call that allowed him to put Stanford up by one at the foul line. Then Robin is not called for putting a body on Budinger at the other end. Both are something that the non-bias announcers pointed out. If the refs hadn't handed the Cardinal the game, we would all be talking about the amazing show Bayless has been putting on.
As far at the Memphis/UAB photo goes...looks like I count at least two pom-poms in the air already. One thing for sure, the UAB fans knew the Tigers are number one at the end of the game...they even raised their hands and gave Memphis a #1 finger (just with the middle finger instead).
Whatever. There's a green and white pom-pom in midflight in the picture, and another dude reared back to throw. The UAB fans were completely out of control and it's all over that shot. Yes, that's Niles's hand, and yes, he's gone all whoop-that-trick on the classy guy in the prison jumpsuit with cut off arms in the far right. And I'll be the first to say that was wrong no matter how much Niles was provoked, and I hope he's disciplined and learns a Valuable Lesson about going all whoop-that-trick on people in the future, especially when representing Memphis out of town. Great if it makes people feel better to say "But-but-but, they did it TOOO!" The fact remains that if the UAB fans had acted right in the first place, that altercation would not have happened. And that's a shame after how well their team played.
The picture: I love that the security guard lady is in between Niles and the UAB fan and is looking the other way. Oops. Just kidding though, the security did a great job from making sure another pistons vs. pacers didn't break out. It was classless by the fans and to be honest, if the security and the coaches didn't physically restrain the Memphis players, it would have gotten a whole lot uglier.
I was at the UAB game. There were actions on both sides after the game. You can clearly see the Memphis players taunting the UAB fans and vica versa. But what is completely uncalled for is UAB fans not being able to spell Memphis. WTF college students?
/Mike McKenzie, cornerback for the Saints, was leading the ruckus afterwards..fyi
The Memphis players got a few of the fans mixed up with their girlfriends...and that prompted the smacking. Oh, the pain of getting hit with a pom pom...it is sort of like getting hit with bubble wrap.
in regards to your notre dame comment, marquette does play in the bradley center which is 'off campus' however, students have a 5 minute walk to the stadium, and the student section is always full and loud. its not 20 miles away from campus like some other big east schools 'home' arena. no suprise then, that notre dame lost by almost 30 points in the game.
IU is not just sharpening the guillotine, we are trying to avoid a Jim O'Brien situation and having three coaches on the payroll, Mike Davis, Kelvin Sampson, and future IU coach with morals (hopefully).
I wish people would stop publicizing the Kel-vin Samp-son chant like the entire crowd was behind it. Perhaps 1/3 of the crowd participated,(it wasn't nearly as loud as the DJ White or Kyle Taber chant) and most of the people who did chant are just idiots who don't understand the ramifications of sampson's actions.
That looks a lot more like a stiff-arm than a slap. To me,at least. Dude's lucky Pop'n Fresh Niles didn't just eat him. He's a big boy. And if any of you have been keeping track of Doziergate-that girlfriend of his is a violent, repeat stalker-you'd agree that Dozier's was probably more of a stiff-arm, too. Go Mempis!
No excuses for Tiger players losing their cool after the UAB game, but...did you see the sign being held up in the student section in the Commercial Appeal's picture you referenced? "We beat Mempis, not our girls;" an obvious, very personal attack on Robert Dozier, not to mention the misspelling of our city. Anyway, it was a terrific win. Every game the Tigers play is like a tournament game. How many other teams to you think the UAB students will have custom made T-shirts for? "Beat Memphis" shirts filled the student section. The Tigers proved themselves once again, against a nearly 60% shooting Blazer team, a high energy packed house, and the eye of the college basketball world on them, and they still prevailed. Looking forward to another great game on Saturday! Go Tigers!