Friday, February 29, 2008

The MTAC Power 16

Let us start off by saying we have never been more confused about what to do at the top. Memphis loses to Tennessee. Tennessee loses to Vanderbilt. UCLA struggles at home before finishing off Oregon. North Carolina pounds Wake Forest, but is still without Ty Lawson. Texas garners two more big time wins. Who is #1 right now? Not even the experts know. ESPN's Power Rankings has 16 voters. Five different teams received #1 votes with UNC leading with five, followed by UCLA with three. Yet, they rank UCLA #4. So what do we do? Right now we are going with our gut and who we think will have the best success in March.

#1 UCLA (25-3, last week #4) - After their thrashing of Arizona State on the road and with the experience they have going going to back to back Final Fours, we think you'd have to say that right now, UCLA is in the best position to win it all. Yes, they struggled with Oregon for a half, but their veteran presence of Darren Collison and Josh Shipp on the perimeter and the power of double-double machine Kevin Love in the post and they are never out of any game. Plus, these Bruins no how to finish. This Week: Arizona, Stanford

#2 Tennessee (25-3, #2) - So they were only #1 for 36 hours. So what. You can't take the win at Memphis away from them. Going into a hostile Fed Ex Forum and controlling the game with their pressure defense was extremely impressive. Bruce Pearl showed why he is one of the game's most underrated X's and O's men when he ran sets down the stretch to get Tyler Smith touches in the post, and when up three under 10 seconds left, he chose to foul instead of play defense, which worked magically. You knew they were going to let down in Nashville three days later. It's not as if they lost to a bad team. Vandy is undefeated at home and beat the Vols by just three. Remember who told you last week the Vols would lose one of these two games. This Week: Kentucky, at Florida

#3 Memphis (27-1, #1) - Free throw shooting and rebounding did them in against Tennessee. The good news is, they have gotten their loss out of the way and the enormous pressure that came with being undefeated is now gone. They can concentrate on getting better. The bad news is this free throw shooting problem isn't going away. It must be repeated: the Tigers are ranked 326th out of 328th nationally in free throw percentage. This Week: at Southern Mississippi, at SMU

#4 North Carolina (26-2, #5) - Give Roy Williams credit. He has been without the man that drives the bus, Ty Lawson, for six games and after the first game loss to Duke, they won five straight. PG Quinton Thomas has improved steadily and Tyler Hansbrough has taken his game to another level offensively. There is little to no seperation between UNC and the three teams listed ahead of them. We have UNC 4th because we still think they don't have the defensive goods to win it all. This Week: at Boston College, Florida State

#5 Texas (24-4, #6) - With all that said about the four teams above, the hottest team is Texas. Coming off a great week where they spanked a good Oklahoma team by 17 and went into Manhattan and controlled Michael Beasley and company, they are the most dangerous team out there. Why? Because unlike Tennessee and Memphis who like to shoot a lot of threes, Texas actually makes theirs. Plus, nobody has a Center that can bang at hit three's the way Connor Atchley does. This Week: at Texas Tech, Nebraska

#6 Kansas (25-3, #3) - Wow did the Jayhawks blow their chance to win the Big 12 title. With the inexplicable loss at Oklahoma State, Texas now can coast to the conference title since they hold the tie-breaker over KU and lead by one game with four to play. When Darrell Arthur figures out how to stay out of foul trouble, the Jayhawks will be much better. But this season looks like it may end like a lot of others have recently unless they wake up. This Week: Kansas State, Texas Tech

#7 Duke (24-3, #7) - Spent the week taking out their anger on St. John's and Georgia Tech after losing two straight on the road in conference. The bad news is that their three point shot is starting to come back down to earth. While they beat Tech by 13, they shot just 2-15 from deep after poor performances last week. Coach K has also decided to dust off injured Center Brian Zoubek to see if he can get anything going in the post. It isn't working. This Week: at NC State, at Virginia

#8 Stanford (23-4, #7) - We said this before, but since they are on the West Coast and play the majority of their games by the time most of us go to sleep in the East, they are flying way under the radar. If they can go into Pauley and knock off UCLA next Thursday, do we start talking about the Cardinal as a #1 seed? 12-3 in the best conference in America is extremely impressive. That's another reason why we have UCLA #1 right now. This Week: Washington State, at UCLA

#9 Xavier (24-4, #9) - The Musketeers continue to impress us with another solid week, beating Duquesne by 27 and winning at Dayton, something Louisville couldn't do. This team has all of the makings of a sleeper Final Four pick; they are deep, veteran, and are a great deep shooting team. How long until Sean Miller gets run for the Indiana job? This Week: GW, at St. Joseph's

#10 Connecticut (22-6, #10) - Some may scoff at this seeing as though th Huskies 10 game winning streak came to an end at Villanova, but in our eyes, this is still the best team in the Big East. Jerome Dyson came back Tuesday after his 30 day suspension, allowing Jim Calhoun to play more than seven guys. Getting him re-acclimated is essential for entering the Big East Tournament. This Week: West Virginia, at Providence

#11 Indiana (24-4, #11) - Ok, so there two wins this week were squeekers against Northwestern (road) and Ohio State (home), but don't they deserve a pass for all of the b.s. they have had to deal with on account of the coaching situation? Has this team responded to Dan Dakich or are they still bitter? We don't know, but we do know that D.J. White and Eric Gordon are monsters, but its what they get out of Armon Bassett and Jordan Crawford that is going to make all of the difference. This Week: at Michigan State, Minnesota

#12 Louisville (23-6, #15) - Why did we jump them ahead of Georgetown, Wisconsin, and Purdue? Simple, these teams are all pretty much equal and the Cardinals impressed us big time with wins over Syracuse and at Pittsburgh. The final five games of their schedule is brutal, but they are off to a good start at 3-0, after last night's win over Notre Dame. When asked if he thinks his team will make a deep tournament run, Rick Pitino said "I do. I think we have depth and we execute well, and that's the key." This Week: Villanova

#13 Georgetown (23-4, #12) - Another ho-hum week with two more wins. Struggling with St. John's after Duke just throttled them by 30 is a concern. This team just doesn't seem to have the killer instinct needed to win the four straight to get to the Final Four. We don't know what they can do to make us change our minds either. This Week: at Marquette

#14 Purdue (22-6, #13) - Let the Gophers hang around way too long on their home floor, but teams play bad games from time to time. Nothing to worry about. The end of the Big Ten regular season should be fun and should tell us more about this team. They close with three winnable games and could end 16-2 playing nothing but Sophomores and Freshman. Pretty Impressive. This Week: Northwestern, at Ohio State

#15 Wisconsin (24-4, #14) - Might as well list them as tied with Purdue. A very impressive spanking of Michigan State last night has them in a half game agead of Indiana and Purdue at 14-2 with two bottom feeders left on their schedule. Bo Ryan is a genius. This Week: Penn State

#16 Vanderbilt (24-2, NR) - Mad props to Kevin Stallings for righting this ship. They are on a high after knocking off #1 Tennessee and have won seven straight. They also haven't lost at home and have a huge advantage with the baseline benches. Shan Foster is coming strong to make his bid for an All-American candidacy. They went through a rough patch in early January, but are peaking at the right time. This Week: at Arkansas, Mississippi State

On the Outside...Looking in

Notre Dame - On the cusp, but lose out after the beat down at the hands of Louisville. Luke Harangody locked in Big East Player of the Year with this 40 point outing.

Drake - Won the battle of the best mid-majors going into Hinkle Fieldhouse and beating Butler. The bad news was stubbing their toes against Missouri State three days later.

BYU - Nobody is talking about them, but the Cougars are back on the radar after winning 10 of 11 and leading the tough Mountain West at 11-2.

Butler - Hanging on by a thread here after the loss to Drake, but still dominating the Horizon League and will host the conference tournament.

Kent State - That's right, we said it. The Golden Flashes are amongst the hottest teams in America and are ranked for the first time since Antonio Gates wore basketball shoes. the Bracket Buster win at St. Mary's most likely locks them in an at-large bid, regardless of what happens in the MAC tournament.

Marquette - We've been on their case most of the year, but they remain near the top of the Big East at 11-5 and have win five straight.

Falling....Can they get up?

Kansas State - Dropping like a stone and in-fighting while doing so. Michael Beasley is still the best talent in America, but nobody seems to be helping him like they were earlier in the season. Either that, or the zone they now see every game has neutralized the rest of the team.

Mississippi - Wow, the Rebels are falling off the map. Remember when they were 15-1 and ranked as high as #10? They are now 18-9 and won't make the Tournament.

Miami-FL - Just a week ago, they were the toast of the ACC after beating Duke and Maryland. Then Clemson taught them a lesson and they sit 6-7 in the mediocre ACC which will be lucky to get a 4th bid.

Oklahoma - The Sooners were a lock two weeks ago, but losses at Texas and at Nebraska and scoring just 45 points in both games won't endear you to the committee. Remember this fact - the Big 12 has never had a Tournament team that finished 8-8 in the league.


According to ESPN.COM and AP, Derek Anderson has agreed to a multi-year contract to remain with the Browns. We haven't been able to find this on or the Browns website, but it is on More details to follow as they come available.

EDIT: It's now up on

Derek Anderson Signs -

Quarterback Derek Anderson has agreed to a multi-year contract with the Browns, the Associated Press reported Friday morning, citing sources.

Terms of the deals were not immediately available and the Browns have not confirmed the report.

Anderson became a restricted free agent at 12:01 Friday morning after failing to reach an agreement by that time. But he was only available to other teams for a matter of hours before reportedly agreeing to terms with the Browns.

General Manager Phil Savage said during a press conference on Thursday that if Anderson had received an offer from another team, the Browns probably wouldn't have been able to match it. If he did sign with another team, the Browns would have received a first- and third-round pick as compensation.

The Browns offer as of Thursday afternoon was worth $20 million over three years, including about $10 million guaranteed. But the Browns may have increased their offer to get the deal consummated.

The re-signing of Anderson sets up a training camp battle between Anderson and Brady Quinn for the starting quarterback job. A source close to Quinn said he has every intention of winning the job in camp.

Savage said Thursday that the Browns could win with either Quinn or Anderson.

The signing does not preclude the Browns from trading Anderson before the draft. They are still without a No. 1 pick because they used it last season to move up to select Quinn.

DA - As Good as Gone?

According to several media sources, Derek Anderson and his agents have rejected the Browns three year, $20 million deal, which could all but signal the end of the DA era as QB of the Browns. They tendered him the one year offer, which means any team that signs him must give the Browns a first and third round pick. Dig deeper and you can see why Anderson seemingly is out the door and the Brady Quinn era is about to begin.

Anderson was a sixth round pick making next to nothing. The Browns drafted their QB of the future last year and traded a first round pick to get him. Anderson wants to maximize the amount of money he can get, especially since this is a QB starved league and his lackluster second half doesn't seem to faze other teams. Anderson's agents must know they can get more than the three for $20 million from the Browns, otherwise why would he reject $10 million guaranteed?

GM Phil Savage on what he is thinking: "I think that if another team were to get involved, they'd try to make it extremely difficult for us to match it," said Savage, adding that he doubted Anderson would play out the one-year tender.

Savage also made it clear that the Browns would accept nothing less than the first- and third-round picks. Last year, the Houston Texans traded two second-rounders for quarterback Matt Schaub, despite the fact he originally received the first- and third-round tender.

"We've told them we wouldn't do it," said Savage. "We value the player."

We think what the Browns are doing is smart. You have no first-round pick this year. The Browns would love to jump back in to the first round to get an impact defensive player. Plus, something to consider: The Browns have apparently traded this year's second round pick to the Packers for their franchised player, D-Lineman Corey Williams. That would leave the Browns without a first day pick if they were keeping Anderson.

See, it's all coming together isn't it? The Browns could get back a first and third round pick if a team signs Anderson, and they have their QB of the future, Brady Quinn, with one year under his belt learning the Rob Chudzinski system, ready to go.

This is a win/win situation for the Browns in our opinion.

Coast to Tyus Edney against Mizzou

MTAC is off to Lawrence for our annual pilgrammage to the greatest place to see a College Basketball game in the country, Allen Fieldhouse. Ah the aura. The alma mater, the Rock Chalk Chant, the confetti, the new york - NEW YORK. All of it. I cannot wait to soak it all in. You can find MTAC 100% at some point this weekend throwing down Vodka/soda's at Quinton's, burying a Pocket Za at Rudy's (the best piece of food in Lawrence), and a Penny Club at Mr. Goodcents. We are eagerly anticpating the whole weekend (The Outhouse included!)

Here's one we knew was coming: Bob Knight will join ESPN as a studio analyst for championship week and the NCAA Tournament. We'll say this, seeing Bob Knight talking about other teams, players, and coaches will be must see television. Although, putting him next to one of his suck-boys, Digger Phelps, could turn into a love fest. Awful Announcing

We are big fans of ESPN's Doug Gottlieb. In fact, Mrs. MTAC grew up with him. USA Today wrote a great piece profiling the ESPN College Hoops analyst that is a good read. USA Today

Always looking for solid blogs out there. We were emailed this one from the great Mark P himself. The name says is all: Stuff White People Like. It's topical. Such beauties as "Bottles of Water," "Gentrification," "Standing Still at Concerts," and "Expensive Sandwiches." Stuff White People Like

Did Seton Hall coach Bobby Gonzalez and an unnamed assistant coach get into a fist fight on the way to the locker room during a game two weeks ago? The Big Lead

Can this story possibly be true? A newborn baby girl fell through the toilet in a moving train and onto the tracks moments after her mother prematurely gave birth. AP

The Browns make their final deadline offer to QB Derek Anderson. Anderson rejected the deal, and now the Browns may turn to Brady Quinn. Phil Savage has already said he won't match any long term offer DA may get on the open market.

Jay Mariotti is calling all Cub fans to rally against Sam Zell and the selling of the Wrigley Field name. Chicago Sun-Times

Just because we can't get enough of the site, here is an off-shoot: The Top 10 Rap Songs White People Love. Cats and Beer

Hugh Hefner wants Lindsay Lohan in Playboy. So do we! That would be the highest selling issue of all time. Show Biz Spy

Jerry Jones and Steve Urkel, gettin down. The photo needs to be seen to be believed. With Leather

#18 Louisville 90 #17 Notre Dame 85 - We guess it's time to jump on the Cardinals bandwagon. Their brutal five game finish has started 3-0 and they are nipping at the heels of Georgetown after this big win. David "Wilt Chamberlain" Padgett scored a season-high 26 points in 28 minutes to lead five Cardinals in double figures. Jerry Smith and Andre McGee completely outplayed Kyle McAlarney and Tory Jackson. The starting Irish backcourt combined to shoot 4-21 and the team turned the ball over 16 teams, negating their 12 threes. Got to give love to ND Center Luke Harangody, who will get our vote for Big East Player of the Year after his career-high 40 and 12 boards almost single-handedly brought the Irish back after being down by as many as 19.

#9 Wisconsin 57 #15 Michigan State 42 - Once again, Bo Ryan's team is more physical than their opponent and win a game they are supposed to win. Once again, Tom Izzo's team, fails to show up for a big road game. Drew Neitzel continued his miserable Senior season going 1-10 from the field, socring just three points. The lack of MSU's aggressiveness can be illustrated in the fact they only shot five free throws the entire game. Brian Butch led the Badgers with 16.

#13 Butler 66 Wright State 61 - The Bulldogs won yet another Horizon League title with their hard fought win over second place Wright State. Again, they didn't shoot it well from deep (9-28), but they showed great balance as four starters scored in double figures. Julian Betko led the way with a career-high 17. "They adjusted a little bit. They put their best defender on me and I didn't get that many looks" in the second half, Betko said. "But it doesn't matter, because it made other guys open."

#8 Stanford 82 Washington 79 - The Cardinal led from start to finish and knocked off a game Washington squad. Brook Lopez led all scorers with 21 and grabbed seven boards. G Anthony Goods chipped in 16. Jon Brockman had 20 and 14 for the losers. Next Thursday's showdown with UCLA looks like it could be for the Pac-10 title.

#4 UCLA 70 Arizona State 49 - This one wasn't even this close. The Bruins outdid the Sun Devils in every aspect of the game. They killed them on the glass 33-19, hit 50% of their threes (10-20), and forced 13 turnovers. Darren Collison had a huge night, hitting five of six from deep on his way to 17 points. Kevin Love had another double-double, 18 and 12. Wing Josh Shipp had 17 and eight assists.

#22 Washington State 70 Cal 49 - The big time perfomance the Cougars desperatley needed came in this one. Taylor Rochestie had 18, Kyle Weaver 17, and Derrick Low 15 and Wazzu put the hammer down on the bubbling Cal Bears. Star Wing Ryan Anderson was the only Bear in double figuers, but was held to just 5-17 shooting. "We really played their pace of game. They really controlled the tempo the whole way and kind of took us out of our game plan," Anderson said. "We're normally a good shooting team. Everybody has their off nights. We struggled from the 3-point line, which is something that we don't normally do."

Other Scores of Note:

USC 70 Arizona 58 - Talk about a big time road win. USC completely shut down Arizona's Jerryd Bayless and Chase Budinger. After averaging over 30 points in his last five games, Bayless was able to squeeze off just six shots, scoring eight points. Budinger, who scores 17 a games, was held to just seven. O.J. Mayo led USC with 20.

St. Louis 64 St. Joseph's 55 - An A-10 stunner. The Red Hawks were looking good for an NCAA bid just a few short weeks ago, but when are on the bubble, its not advisable to lose home games to 15-12 teams.

Maryland 74 Wake Forest 70 - A much needed road win for the Terps and a potential bubble bursting loss for Wake.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Back on Track?

The Recap: Darrell Arthur wanted the ball and coach Bill Self was determined to get it to him early and often. KU's best offensive threat came out firing. Shady scored 18 points and took 18 shots, hitting nine. He also grabbed 10 rebounds for his fourth double-double of the season. The three point game was working as well for the Jayhawks; they hit 7-11, including three each from Brandon Rush and Mario Chalmers. Rush and Chalmers each had 15 points, Chalmers starring in the first half, while Rush did his work in the second stanza. KU shot 46% from the field, 14-18 from the line, and outrebounded the Cyclones 41-28, led by Arthur and PG Russell Robinson with 10 a piece. Wesley Johnson led ISU with 20. He hit five of the Cyclones eight three-point shots.

The Whup

Feed The Beast - If the Jayhawk guards didn't see last night that the offense must run through Arthur, than they never will. He took a career-high 18 shots and scored in a variety of ways. At first glance, 18 shots seems like plenty, but actually it the amount of shots he should be taking every game. It also means Shady has spent the night on the floor rather than on the bench in foul trouble. “Coach told me to get more shots. I had the opportunity to score,” said Arthur, who indicated it was “real fun” roaming inside without a team trapping him on the post for “the first time I can remember in a long time (courtesy of His 15 foot jump shot was money again all night long. The bottom line is that KU must run everything through Shady first.

Mario's First Half - As good as Shady was early, Chalmers may have been even better. He scored 10 points in seemingly the blink of an eye, including two triples that helped to take the Ames crowd out of the game. He looked more aggressive in the first 20 minutes and defensively he was again working his magic off the ball, getting in passing lanes and wreaking havoc on the ISU guards. “Coach says to knock down the open shots,” Chalmers said. “People had been hesitant lately. The coaches said, ‘Let it fly,’ and I think we did that. I think it was a team effort. We had the mind-set to getting back to playing Kansas basketball today.”

Brandon's Second Half - The Brandon Rush we all want to see was on display in the final 20 minutes. He nailed two threes, scored 12, and played solid defense on Wesley Johnson. Now if there was just some way we could bottle that up and turn it into a full 40 minutes, KU would be in great shape.

The Seven Man Rotation - With Rodrick Stewart missing due to the death of his brother and Cole Aldrich not needed because Arthur actually stayed out of foul trouble, Coach Self stuck with his "seven-starters" all night and did a nice job rotating them. He got eight points and three blocked shots out of Sasha Kaun (who played another solid game by the way) in 16 minutes and seven from Sherron Collins in 18 minutes. Rush and Chalmers played the most minutes (37 and 36), but nobody seemed tired. We expected to see Tyrel Reed or Jeremy Case, but that never materialized.

The Weak Beav

Sherron's Not The Same - You could see it again last night and ESPN's Stephen Bardo pointed it out: "Collins is a shell of himself out there." He just doesn't have the lift on his jumper and his explosive speed off the dribble isn't there. Give him a ton of credit for gutting it out, but I think we need to realize he will not be close to 100% at any time this season, and that's a shame. During the middle of last year when Collins was crossing over everybody and knocking down open threes, we all expected that this woul dbe his break-out year. Injuries have ruined that. You saw it last night when he turned the ball over four times and seemed unsure of himself at times.

Rush's First Half - As much as we praise him for his second half play, this trend of one good half, one bad half that Rush is currently caught in is getting annoying. Why can't he play a full 40 minutes of inspired, aggressive ball? He hit a three-pointer two minutes into the game, then didn't score again the rest of the half. Not only did he not score, but you wouldn't even have noticed he was on the floor. If the Jayhawks are going to go deep in the tournament, they need the good Brandon Rush to show up, especially since Collins is going half speed.

Mario's Second Half - Chalmers scored 10 in the first 10 minutes of 4-5 shooting. I thought this would be the game Mario decided that he was going to be the lead perimeter player. But in the second half, he took just three shots and seemed more intent on getting his teammates involved. Mario has so much ability as a scorer and why he is taking only eight shots, three in the second half, baffles me. He has the most pure three-point stroke on the team (sorry, Brandon) and as stated in yesterday's preview, we would like to see him shoot it more.

Cole's J - Memo to Cole Aldrich. You have a fine future in front of you at Kansas. You have done a lot of things the right way this year and said all of the right things. But we beg you - never take a jump shot from 15 feet again the rest of the season.

Letting Them Back In - Continuing a disturbing trend, the Jayhawks take a big lead, 21 points, the decided to coast for a few minutes and before you knew it, Iowa State had cut it to 10. To start the second half, they allowed the Cyclones to score the first seven points to cut the lead to six. The whole team seems to fade in and out each game for some period of time. That isn't going to fly in the Tournament.

The Ames Crowd - Every year it's the same. Any call that doesn't go their teams way, they freak out and boo. Last night was no different. There is no bigger bunch of whiners that the Hilton Coliseum crowd.

Analysis: It was good to get back on the winning track no doubt. While the 'Hawks played much better and shot the ball well, they still didn't overly impress. It's amazing when you are at a school where the expectations are so high that 25-3 doesn't seem quite good enough at this point. It's not that the record isn't impressive, it's the way they've been playing of late. The good news was that the offense ran inside/out through Arthur and it opened up the perimeter for Rush and Chalmers. KU again dominated the glass and unlike some of their last few performances, were the aggressor. Kaun gave big minutes in the post off the bench and the Seven-man rotation worked for us. Now comes the fun part, the rematch with those kitties from Manhattan.

Bill Self on whether the ship needed to be righted Wednesday: “I think when you’re 24-3, you shouldn’t be able to say that the ship needs righting, but our players all know that it did. We felt it did, too. I don’t know if we did or not, only time will tell, but we were a better team tonight than we were the last 2-3 weeks...I do think this is big, but I don’t think that we’re back where we were. I don’t think you go from playing poor to playing great consistently. I think it’s still a process, and it was a great start.”

Bill Self on Darrell Arthur’s play and his influence on the game’s outcome: “We don’t talk about it being a calming force, but certainly the team has more confidence when you have your best players in the game the majority of the minutes...I think we’ve got really good players, but our players are a lot better if things come to them rather than go force the issue. And playing through Shady on the post is great for our team. Also, running and trying to get easy baskets is great for our team, but also getting the ball to the third side a lot is great for our team. We have been impatient of late because I think individuals are saying ‘I need to go make a play’ as opposed to thinking ‘We need to go have a great possession.’

Bill Self on Sherron Collins: “Oh, he was better than Saturday. He’s still a shadow of himself, but that’s by far the best he’s moved since he’s been with us, playing the last three weeks. He’s not close to being himself, hopefully that bruise will continue to get better, the doctors say it’s just time away, so hopefully that’s the case. He says he’s feeling better.”

Bill Self on getting ready for Saturday’s game with K-State: “The thing about it is Saturday night, I think our guys will be as excited to play as they have all year - I hope not too excited. I think K-State guys will be excited to play. I think Gameday adds to the excitement probably for both teams, because it’s gonna be a hyped up game and all that stuff. But the bottom line is they handled us the first time. And that, right there, in itself, our players know they handled us, there’s no other way to sugarcoat it, that will be great motivation...I would be totally disappointed if - we may not play great, who knows, but I’d be totally disappointed if it wasn’t an unbelievable effort game for us...a great effort game for us.”

Bill Self on preparing for Kansas State: “If you go back and watch the tape, (Jacob Pullen) made eight free throws in the last two minutes. Even though he got 20, he played well, he was the best guard in the game, without question. He was the best guard in the game. And I think we have better players than that and hopefully we’ll do a better job trying to contain him, but it’s kind of a unique situation, watching tape for the next two days. Teams have struggled playing them one way, they’ve had success playing them the same way. Teams have had success guarding them one way, then if you guard Beasley and Walker one-on-one, they can go for 75. But Baylor won. We double-teamed Beasley a lot, they kicked our butt. There’s gonna be some thinking going on on how’s the best way to defend them.”

Sherron Collins on the health of his knee: “It’s getting better. I didn’t like (the brace) either, but the first couple of times I wore it it was for support and help. But now, that’s turned around here a little bit, so I don’t have to wear it...I just couldn’t open it up and turn it into that second gear. It’s coming back, it won’t be too long. I won’t know how long it will be, but at the rate it’s getting better at now, it won’t be too long...I think I’m healthy enough to be the spark off the bench. Because of the injury, stuff doesn’t go well and I’m not at full speed and I can’t really do what I want to do, but I think I’m able to be that spark.”

Darrell Arthur on working the offense through the post: “Yeah, we got to the post a lot, we had a lot of mismatches down there. They had Wesley (Johnson) playing the four, so we just attacked him down low. He usually plays the two or the three, so we just saw the opportunity to attack...We were going inside and out, so if they trapped the posts we were going to kick it out, but if we had one-on-one situations, they wanted us to take them, so that’s basically what we did the whole game...That was the first time (I’ve played one-on-one) in awhile. I don’t even remember (the last time). They never trapped the posts or anything.”

Mario Chalmers on the three-point shooting: “I think it was just having the confidence to take the open shot when you have it. I think a lot of people have been hesitating a little bit lately, and today the coaches were just like ‘let it fly,’ so we did that.”

Up Next: Kansas State, Saturday Night, 9 PM ESPN

Coast to Tyus Edney against Mizzou

We don't think it has stopped snowing here for three days. We've gotten two feet here. our obsession with shoveling my walk way is getting harder and harder, but we soldier on and continue. Today is my son's first birthday. Time flies. He is the best and continues to amaze us every single day. He is a walking machine and is all over the place these days. A year ago today was the single greatest moment of my life. It needed to be acknowledged. Happy Birthday Little Man! So on with the link roll.

One of the greatest and kookiest sports announcers of our time has no passed away. Myron Cope, the creator of the Terrible Towel, and the phrase "Yoi and Double Yoi," died at the age of 79. Mondesi's House

Our favorite Mayor, Kwame Kilpatrick, is a lock for jail. Detroit Free Press

Get a DUI, get cut by the Cardinals. Sounds just a tad hypocritical to us, seeing as though Tony Larussa just a year ago got a DUI during Spring Training. St. Louis Post Dispatch

Billy Wagner, Red-ass. Newsday

Nothing like going on national TV and admitting to cheating on her husband while he is sitting right in front of her. Some people will do anything for fame.

A man stabbed his brother in law because he supports Barack Obama, not his choice Hillary Clinton. Quite a country we live in these days. The Smoking Gun

William F. Buckley, the founder of the conservative movement past away at 82.

Maybe Roger Clemens can share a jail cell with Kwame Kilpatrick. Gene Wojciechowski says Clemens has given the Feds a lot to work with.

New Cubs owner Sam Zell is not exactly endearing himself to Cubs fans with the news that he will sell the naming rights of Wrigley Field. Chicago Tribune

What a difference three weeks make. The Kansas State Basketball program is surrounded by negativity, from their fans to the players, says Jason Whitlock. Kansas City Star

Natalie Portman wants to get it on with Scarlet Johansson. Yeah, so do we. Digital Spy

#7 Kansas 75 Iowa State 64 - It was a nice bounce back to get the W for Kansas, but they seemed in and out of this one. They led by as many as 21 1in the second half, but allowed two different runs to cut the lead into single digits. The difference for the Jayhawks was having Darrell Arthur on the floor most of the game. He was a beast with 18 and 10 rebounds and got whatever he wanted in the post. Mario Chalmers had a great First half, Brandon Rush had a great Second half. Both scored 15. KU shot 7-11 from the deep and outrebounded the Cyclones 41-28. Much more on this game later.

#3 Memphis 82 Tulsa 67 - This game wasn't anywhere close to the final score. You had to feel sorry for Tulsa who caught an angry Tigers team coming off the loss to Tennessee. Chris Douglas-Roberts and Derrick Rose combined for just 18, but the bench came up huge. Willie Kemp had 14, Doneal Mack 12, and Sean Taggert 12 to lead Memphis to the easy win. The Tigers led by as many as 28 and hit 13-25 threes, by far their best night of the season.

#6 Duke 71 Georgia Tech 58 -The Devils let the Yellow Jackets hang around most of the night, but was never in any real danger. For the third straight game, they didn't shoot it well, just 42% from the field and 2-15 from three. Demarcus Nelson and Gerald Henderson each had 15. It looks as though Duke and UNC, both 11-2, are headed for a showdown for the ACC title in the final game of the regular season.

#10 Georgetown 64 St. John's 52 - Dejuan Summers hit five three-pointers on his way to 21 points and Roy Hibbert chipped in 17 points and yet another boring, low scoring, Hoyas win. Letting St. John's hang for 35 minutes on your home floor doesn't do much for us. They did hit 10 threes and cause 15 turnovers.

#19 Purdue 65 Minnesota 53 - E'Twan Moore hit scored 22 as the Boilers pulled away late to finish off the Gophers. They did nothing spectacular; they shot just 40%, hit 13-20 free throws, and were outrebounded by 12. They did cause 20 Minnesota turnovers. Purdue now sits in a three way tie atop the Big Ten at 13-2.

Other Scores of Note:

Pittsburgh 73 Cincinnati 67 - The Panthers were in dire need of a W and got it. Dejuan Blair had 18 and 10 to go with Sam Young's 20. Both teams now sit at 8-7 in the Big East.

Texas A&M 98 Texas Tech 54 - Mark Turgeon must be thrilled with his team's performance last night during this much needed win. The Aggies nailed 12 threes and cruised to victory.

Nebraska 63 Oklahoma 45 - Not a good sign when you are a bubble team and you put up 12 points in the first half. 12.

Kentucky 58 Mississippi 54 - Who knew UK would be 10-3 in the SEC at this point? Ole Miss has collapsed like no other team in the country has.

Florida 77 Georgia 64 - Big time road win for the young Gators who are fighting for an at large bid. Nick Calathas led the way with 22.

Mississippi State 89 Auburn 78 - The Bulldogs are the closest thing the SEC has to a third NCAA lock. Charles Rhodes had 30 and Jamont Gordon had 20 as the MSU starters combined for 86 of their 80 points.

Clemson 79 Miami 69 - It seems like every bubble team played last night. As good as Miami was last week, this was a tough one for them to win on the road at Littlejohn.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Which Jayhawk Team Shows Up Tonight?

They call it "Hilton Magic." The place that made legends of such beauts as "The Mayor" Fred Hoiberg, Dedric Willoughby (MTAC's favorite ex-KU opponent player), Jake Sullivan, Kelvin Cato, and Julius Michalik. Iowa State's Hilton Coliseum is a tough place to play, regardless of how poorly the Cyclones are playing. A far superior Texas team was taken to OT there a short two weeks ago. The crowd is boisterous and knowledgeable, maybe a little angry sometimes (then again, you would be too if you were stuck in Ames, Iowa).

Yes, Iowa State is just 14-13, 4-8 in the Big 12. Yes, they have four conference losses at home. Yes, their leading scorer is the great Jiri Hubalek at 13.2 PPG. Yes, KU beat them by 24 in Lawrence a month ago. You know what that all means to us right now? Nothing. The way the Jayhawks have played of late, especially on the road, anything is possible.

It's time for this team to wake up collectively. Darrell Arthur needs to stay out of foul trouble. Mario Chalmers needs to take more shots, especillay from deep. Russell Robinson needs to concentrate on keeping his man in front of him and less on taking bad threes and turning the ball over. Brandon Rush needs to concentrate, period.

With Rodrick Stewart back in Seattle for the funeral of his brother and Sherron Collins still banged up with a bruised knee, you can expect to see more of Tyrel Reed and (gasp!) Jeremy Case. Coach Bill Self has said Collins is "probable," but wouldn't it be wise to let him sit tonight and let him rest for the big showdown with K-State Saturday (which MTAC will be in attendance for?) Reed has shown flashes of brilliance on the offensive end, but still needs to prove he can defend at this level. Earlier this season, guys were blowing by him left and right.

Here's what we'd like to see tonight:

1. Establish the post - pound the ball to Darnell Jackson and Arthur all night long. Work Hubalik into foul trouble as the one thing Iowa State clearly doesn't have is depth in the frontcourt.

2. Apply Full Court Pressure - this is one area where the Jayhawks usually excel, creating turnovers with their quickness on defense, yet we don't see this nearly enough. Stewart's presence will be missed with on the ball pressure, but there is no reason not to give this a shot.

3. Knocking Down Some Open Threes - This part of the KU attack has seemingly disappeared lately. Rush loves camping out there, but it's Chalmers who is the team's best deep shooter. Running some screens to get him open looks from deep would work for me. If Case and Reed are out there, let them fly and see if you can catch lightning in a bottle.

4. Rush Returning to his Lock Down Defender Ways On Wesley Johnson - You can bet the Cyclones 6-7 Wing will be guarded by Brandon Rush all night. Last year, especially late in the season, we saw what Rush can do defensively on anyone from a Point Guard to a Power Forward. Maybe a big game on the defensive end will get the maddeningly inconsistent Rush going.

5. The Sitting of Sherron Collins...For this Game - If you can't beat Iowa State without a 65% Collins, you probably aren't worthy of being amongst the nation's elite. Play Tyrel Reed his minutes. Play some zone to protect you other Guards from foul trouble and you will find yourself in the winner's circle. The bottom line is Collins needs to be as close to 100% in late March as possible. Give him some rest.

The Prediction:

We think we will see an imspired and angry Kansas club tonight that will be firing on all Cylinders. Chalmers, Arthur, and Rush will have big games, and Reed will provide an unexpected spark. This game should be a 20 point blowout, but the way KU lets teams creep back in, we will go with 15.

Kansas 75 Iowa State 60

Does DA Deserve a Long Term Deal?

The end of the restricted period of free agency ends tomorrow and the Browns are sitting in an interesting position with QB Derek Anderson. His people want a Tony Romo-type contract in the neighborhood of six years. The Browns have reportedly countered with three. Reports are that the final offer on the table is three years, $20 million with $10 million guaranteed.

This is a smart move on the Browns part to hedge their bets. Let's be honest, as good as Anderson was the first half of the season, he regressed during the second half and became turnover prone at the wrong times (i.e. Week 16 at Cincinnati and the second half in Pittsburgh). You need two QB's in this league and so many teams don't even have one. If Anderson is good with the three year deal, he gets the opportunity to increase his value once he hits free agency again in three years, when he will only be 28. If he doesn't work out, the Browns will at least have an experienced backup to Brady Quinn.

Terry Pluto wrote an excellent piece in today's PD saying this is a win win situation for the Browns. He says: The Browns have two quarterbacks under the age of 25 -- and they believe both are capable of starting in the NFL. Quinn should be ready to start after a year as a backup. Anderson proved himself in 2007, making the Pro Bowl as an alternate after throwing 29 touchdown passes and having a 10-5 record as a starter. While his 19 interceptions were near the league lead, he also took the fewest sacks of any starting quarterback.

His strong arm blends well with Rob Chudzinski's offense, which highlights the ability to throw long to Braylon Edwards and Kellen Winslow. In the short term, there probably is no better team for Anderson because the Browns have a strong line, a 1,300-yard rusher in Jamal Lewis and those excellent receivers. The Browns believe Anderson and his family are leaning to staying with the Browns. It's also believed the market for Anderson among other teams is not as promising as his agents hoped.

That's because the price is steep.
With three years and $10 million guaranteed, the Browns have made sure that a team wanting Anderson will have to pay dearly -- a huge, salary-cap-eating contract. Assuming Anderson passes on the Browns' offer, the team can designate him a restricted free agent at $2.562 million for 2008. Then any team must surrender its first- and third-round draft picks to pry him away.

Whoever the QB ends up being, they will face a difficult schedule and high expectations. We all know this is a Browns Town first and foremost, no matter what the Tribe and Lebron are currently doing. With all of this talk about the QB position, March 1st is first day of free agency where the Browns defense must be upgraded.

Good Thing We Got Larry Hughes instead of Michael Redd!

Does this mean the honeymoon is over? It's only one loss folks. Don't flip. Nothing like Lebron shooting 16-24 and still losing. Michael Redd's fadeaway buzzer beating three did in the Cavs on the road. Since Mrs MTAC is still sick and nobody is here to watch MTAC Jr, we are trying to watch him and work at the same time. Not easy. So here is a little recap on the game and opinions from the local beat writers and bloggers.

Asleep on the Red-Eye - Branson "Wrong," Cleveland Plain Dealer

Szczerbiak did everything he could, but Redd still nailed a 27-footer.

“I looked up at the clock, saw they had some time left, ran back on defense and picked him up,” Szczerbiak said of Redd and the frantic finish. “I wanted to keep him in front of me. He pump-faked, and he gets his feet set well. I wanted to stay down and make him make the shot over me.
“That’s all I could do. He made a 30-footer. I give the guy a [heck] of a lot of credit. That was a big shot.”

Szczerbiak has made plenty of them, but not on Tuesday. He made just 5 of 18 shots, just 2 of 9 from 3-point range.

Bucks Kill Buzz For New Cavs - Brian Windhorst, Akron Beacon-Journal

It was a shocking end, but one that fit the way the proceedings had gone.

The Cavs experienced perhaps the first growing pains of their new look, tripping up down the stretch and giving Redd the chance.

While the old incarnation of the Cavs had flaws, the one thing they did know how to do was close.

It was a combination of usually having the best player on the floor in James and having chemistry born from battling through numerous close games.

For now, the second half ofthat formula is in development and this was an example. The Cavs, who are usually rock solid in the fourth quarter, let a seven-point lead slip away in this one as they often seemed out of control.

Even James, usually a model of dominance in winning time, seemed unsure of where he was going and where he was supposed to be. There were unforced turnovers, missed assignments on defense and lots of foggy looks from James and his teammates new and old.

Redd Light - Waiting For Next Year

By now, you already know the results of the game, and have likely read the stellar breakdown by Rick. The free throws easily made the difference in this one, but I have two questions:

1) With Zydrunas Ilgauskas out, the combination of Ben Wallace and Anderson Varejao provided very little offense. But where was the defense? The sole block for the Cavaliers was converted by LeBron James, and the two big men combined for one steal. In fact, Delonte West (8) outrebounded Varejao (6). Not good.

2) Given the 5.9 seconds remaining after LeBron’s layup, who decided to put Wally Szczerbiak on Michael Redd defensively? Not that it would have likely made a difference, but someone with a bit more speed and length would have been my choice in that situation.

But enough of the bad. On to the good…

Damon Jones draining all four three-point attempts for 12 points in 21 minutes is great to see. Sad to see it wasted, honestly. Wally getting 18 shots is nice considering that he also had four assists and a steal. He earned ‘em. Joe Smith’s 12 and eight in under 30 minutes is very Drew-ish. Lonestar!!

The Good, The Bad, The Summary - John Hnat, The Cleveland Fan

Last night's game ... was a less-than-stellar future date with the same girl. Sure, she still looks great ... but she drones on and on about herself ... and she laughs like a hyena ... and what is the story with that weird clicking sound she makes when she chews her food?

We're now seeing that Larry Hughes, Drew Gooden, Donyell Marshall, Ira Newble, and a couple of busted picks from the 2006 draft are not going to fetch four perfect players in return. The new guys have their warts too. Just as Chicago fans are discovering that Hughes will take questionable jumpers with reckless abandon ... or that Gooden will drive you to pull every last hair from your head in frustration at his airheadedness ... so too do Ben Wallace, Wally ("My Last Name Gets You 140 Points In Scrabble") Szczerbiak, Joe Smith, and Delonte West have their shortcomings.

Take some of those negatives, add an unconscious night for Milwaukee guard Mo Williams, and throw in a dash of last-second heroics by Michael Redd, and you get a 105-102 loss to the Bucks. Williams led everybody (even that #23 fella who plays for the Cavs; you may have heard of him) with 37 points. That figure set a new season high for Williams, and was just one point away from tying his career best. Redd chipped in with 25 points, including a last-second, high-arcing three pointer from thirty feet. LeBron James paced the Cavs with 35 points; no other Cavalier scored more than 13 (that coming from Wally Alphabet).

The game was also notable for the return of Anderson Varejao (back in action after missing four weeks with a sprained ankle) and the absence of Zydrunas Ilgauskas (who was described as having an "upper respiratory infection"; that sounds like a "cold" to me, something that should be treated with "chicken soup").

Coast to Tyus Edney against Mizzou

Let's talk about the debate. We expected a lot of fireworks here in C-town. Hillary Clinton needed to make a big statement to help stop the Barack Obama momentum, but really we got more of the same. Here are a few different views on last night: Clinton Gets Tough on Obama from MSNBC. Clinton, Obama, Trade Blame in Final Face-off from Fox News. Democrats Clash on Trade, Health, and Rival Tactics from the New York Times. In Ohio, Democrats Hold a Contentious Debate from the Washington Post.

Big ESPN news: Sean Salisbury is out. We are a fan of his work. He is knowledgeable and his fights with John Clayton are always entertaining. Not to mention the man once took cellphone pics of his piece and showed them to female staffers.

Mad props to Michigan State Coach Tom Izzo for going public with what we all know: the Big Ten Network is a nightmare. He said "It has hurt all of us."

A good national read by SI's Ian Thomsen lauding the Cavaliers big trade.

NOOOOOO! Rachel Bilson cut her hair and now has bangs. Sorry, it's a bad look, even for her.

No wonder Hulk Hogan left his wife. Linda still thinks she can walk around in a bikini. At her age and weight, that ain't right!

More bad news. Oil prices hit an all time high. Analysts expect the $4 gallon at some point this Spring.

From the great guy department, the Detroit Red Wings are bringing back troubled Darren McCarty. Too bad McCarty bolted on his wife via letter and left her credit card debt, not that he cares. This is a story you have to read.

We don't have a link, but received this story in an email from this week's Sports Illustrated. Grant Wahl wrote a column about the abuse college basketball players are receiving on the road. Check this: On Jan. 23, the day before the ­Bruins-Ducks showdown in Eugene, Kevin Love found more than 30 voice-mail messages on his cellphone when UCLA stopped for a layover in San Francisco. He listened to the first one: If you guys win, we’ll come to your house and kill your family. He played another: We’ll find your hotel room and blow your f------ head off with a shotgun. He ­didn’t bother to check the rest. “I mean, these were death threats,” Love says. Shaken, he called his mother, Karen, and had her cancel his cellphone service.

The best boxer on the planet, Floyd Mayweather Jr, has accepted a $20 million payday to meet "The Big Show" in Wrestlemania XXIV. “I run Vegas and I run L.A. and I will run the WWE,” he said.

#12 Indiana 72 Ohio State 69 - One player who seemingly has taken to the Dan Dakich era is Armon Bassett. The sharpshooting guard followed up his 24 point, four triple game at Northwestern with a 23 point, four triple performance at home last night to lead the Hoosiers to victory. They need Bassett's perimeter skills as the rest of the team was 1-17 from deep. Star Freshman Eric Gordon scored 17 on just 4-16 shooting, but knows how to get to the line. D.J. White again was stellar with 16 and eight boards. IU now sits tied with Wisconsin at 13-2 atop the Big Ten with 12-3 Purdue nipping at their heels.

More coaching talk from IU came from loser ex-player Kent Benson. Why does his find it necessary to bash Kelvin Sampson at this point? It's over and done with. After the game he told a reporter "They made the right decision getting rid of Sampson. He should have never been here in the first place and now we can move ahead with the integrity and character that Indiana basketball is all about." Memo to you Kent - Get off your high horse - NOBODY CARES WHAT YOU THINK.

#14 Vanderbilt 72 #1 Tennessee 69 - Well that took long. Two whole days went by at #1 and The Vols go down. As we stated in in this space Saturday, if Tennessee beat Memphis, they would lost at Vandy. Shan Foster was sensational, the Senior Guard hit six threes on his way to 32 points. The 'Dores inside force, AJ Ogilvy, spent the entire night in foul trouble and played only 12 minutes. Foster and the rest of the perimeter players stepped up big time. Jermaine Beal added 17. It's special," Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings said. "We needed a win. It was a home game. It's a big game for them. You want to win any game, but you certainly want to win big games. This was a big game." Chris Lofton led Tennessee with 25, taking 15 triples and hitting six of them. Tyler Smith was the only other Vol in double figures with 11 and grabbed 17 boards. "I want to be ranked No. 1 at the end of the year," senior guard Chris Lofton said.

#16 Connecticut 79 Rutgers 61 - If it's not Hasheem Thabeet, it's Jeff Adrien. The stud PF Adrien was unstoppable in the post, scoring a career-high 27 points and 11 boards. Thabeet struggled to score, but grabbed 10 boards and blocked six shots. Stanley Robinson had a double-double of his own, 18 and 13. The starting Huskies frontcourt outrebounded the entire Rutgers team 34-18. Also in this game, UConn welcomed back suspended leading scorer Jerome Dyson. He plsyed 15 minutes off the bench, scoring thre points. Craig Austrie added 18.

Missouri State 86 #20 Drake 83 - Drake is now coming back down to earth on the close road games. It's mever easy to win on the road in the Valley and they may have had a letdown after the big win in the Bracket Buster at Butler Saturday. The Bulldogs took a crazy amount of threes - 38, but they came up one short. Devin Mitchell's 20 led the Bears in the big upset. Interestingly, all five Drake starters scored in double figures and they had their best balance in any game this season.

#25 BYU 70 New Mexico 69 OT - We were on the BYU bus early this season and we remain there. Nobody knows it, but they are now 22-6 and with this big time road win at New Mexico, the team nipping at their heels in the Mountain West. Trent Plaisted led the Cougars with 23. Lobos Guard J.R. Giddens has finally had a season they he expected to have early in his troubled career. He led all scorers with 30 and did it all without hitting a single three point basket and getting to the line 13 times. Those who watched his first two years at Kansas won't believe that stat when they see it.

Other Scores of Note:

Southern Illinois 71 Bradley 60 - The Salukis are at the top of their game, lurking behind Drake in the MVC. Don't be shocked when they win the MVC Tournament.

Virginia Tech 67 Boston College 48 - Since Maryland is fading and Clemson is treading water, are the Hokies the third best team in the ACC this week?

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Slow Blog Day

Seriously, there is not much going on worth discussing today. The Cavs play Boston tomorrow night. KU plays Iowa State tomorrow night. As of right now, the Indians have just two roster spots open (last reliever, 5th spot in the rotation), and games haven't started yet.

Perusing the Cleveland Sports Blogs, I came across a great piece from The DiaTribe discussing what a waste it is to have OF Jason Michaels around. Pauly Cousineau nailed this one:

So, with the knowledge that we are bound by reality and that C.C.’s agents have no interest in continuing discussions, the one move I would like to see the Tribe make would be to trade Jason Michaels. The move is not due to the fact that Michaels is worthless to the Indians, but 2007 reinforced the idea that he is simply not an everyday player, by posting extreme platoon splits yet again and lending more credence to the idea that Michaels projects merely as a platoon OF/4th outfielder and little else. Keeping him doesn’t seem to be (on the surface) too much of an issue, especially since the Indians employ a platoon in LF. That is, until you consider the players (with perhaps a higher ceiling) that Michaels is essentially blocking from getting regular plate appearances – namely OF Ben Francisco and 3B Andy Marte.

The Ben Francisco Treat, with his success in AAA last year as he won the International League batting title, deserves the chance to fill the role of at least the 4th OF coming out of the Spring and not be subjected to another year of “The Buffalo Shuffle”, but is blocked by the fact that he and Michaels are simply redundancies on the roster and don’t figure to co-exist on the 25-man roster.

Now that, you say, would mean that Francisco would take up the RH portion of the LF platoon? Not so fast, my friend. As faithful readers know I think that the arrangement in LF (if we’re assuming that Michaels is gone) is to create batting opportunities for Andy Marte, who is out of options this year, before he walks out of the organization if only for a slowness to adapt quickly to MLB. Forgive me if you’ve seen this before, but it is simply reiterated to prove the logic behind parting with Michaels:

Against LHP, Blake in LF and Marte at 3B.
Against RHP, Dellucci in LF and Blake at 3B.

Waiting for Next Year pegged this boring day in Cleveland Sports to a T:

You know it is a slow day in Cleveland sports when two of the top stories regard “reunions.” Apparently, Tribe players Ryan Garko and Ben Francisco attended the same high school, while Delonte West is rejoined with a former college teammate in Dwayne Jones. Apparently, West and Jones were quite the pranksters…

It's over for our friends at Hey Larry Hughes Please Stop Taking So Many Bad They have decided their work is done since Larry has been shipped out of C-Town.

Billy Thomas deserves some run Mike Brown!

Finally, some actual good news out of Lawrence, the #3 JUCO player in the country, Tyrone Appleton, has committed to KU and will battle for the PG spot next year. Appleton joins fellow JUCO SG/SF Mario Little (the #1 JUCO player in the country), SG Travis Releford, PF Quintrell Thomas, SF Marcus Morris, and his twin brother PF Markieff Morris in Bill Self's most important recruiting class to date.

Interestingly, in this KU Hoops notes column, Coach Self has called out his veterans for a lack of vocal leadership: “It’s not going to happen this year. We’ve been talking about this four years. It’s not going to happen,” he said, noting his last vocal leaders were Aaron Miles and Wayne Simien. It needs to come from me. I need to do a better job providing leadership. I can’t talk on the court. From an on-court standpoint, I’d hope the guards would take the team under control.”

Coast to Tyus Edney against Mizzou

Finally, people are starting to follow suit about the most annoying man in College Basketball, Dick Vitale. This time it was our friends at The Big Lead piling on. Per the blog: Down the stretch was vintage Vitale - chock full of generalized, surface observations, offered up with his usual heaping of verve and gusto. You could have muted the game and done your own effective commentary. There is much more in the link, plus another great photo of Erin Andrews.

C-Town gets ready for the big Democratic Debate tonight at 9 PM EST at the Wolstein Center on the campus of Cleveland State.

Alycia Lane is free! Beware Suzy Shuster Eisen.

Don't miss the uber-creepy Amy Winehouse and her classy tats.

Anyone who doesn't know who Keeley Hazell is, click here.

According to a New York Times/CNN poll, Barack Obama is seen as the Democratic candidate best able to defeat John McCain.

Melissa, the American Gladiators Champ was once a Portland Trail Blazers dancer. These are the kinds of important info you find on blogs these days.

Valerie Bertanelli is releasing an autobiography. Who in the hell would buy that piece of crap?

Stern fans take a look. Kendra and Eric the Midget's photos together!

Former steroid user...errr....all star second basemen Bret Boone has copped to an alcohol problem and that is why he hasn't been in the majors for two years. Eother that or he is washed up.

Barry Bonds, a Tampa Bay Ray? We guess losers attract losers.

Jimmy Kimmel gets his revenge on girlfriend Sarah Silverman. Don;t miss the bevy of cameos. Very impressive.

#5 Texas 74 Kansas State 65 - Watching this game gave me even more reason to worry about my Kansas Jayhawks. The Texas three point shooting and Guard play are far superior to that of KU. D.J. Augustin was once again sensational, scoring 24 points and abusing Clent Stewart and Jacob Pullen all night. K-State led by as many as five early in the second half, but the Longhorns fought back with a 9-0 run thanks to three triples, two from Connor Atchley, who was 6-6 for with 14 and seven boards in just 14 minutes. He was saddled with foul trouble all night.

As we said yesterday, good teams finish games when they make a comeback and that is what Texas did. A tie game at the half, UT outscored K-State 44-35 in the final stanza. They hit 10-22 threes for the night. The difference was Rick Barnes going zone in the second half to stop Michael Beasley (Bill Self - take a note). Beasley did finish with 30 and 15, but other than Jacob Pullen's 19, nobody else did a thing. Second-leading scorer Bill Walker went 0-14 in 32 minutes. The Wildcats looked nothing the team that knocked off KU three weeks ago. They shot 32% for the game and forced up 27 threes, making just seven. It would take a monumental collapse for Texas to not win the Big 12 title.

#21 Marquette 85 Villanova 75 - Trailing by seven at the half, Marquette PG Dominic James decided enough was enough. He took over hitting five threes on his way to 25 points, leading the way for the Golden Eagles. "Dominic James was great," Villanova coach Jay Wright said. "He played with great toughness. He hit big-time shots. His 3s in the second half were just killers." James received help in the post (for once) as Lazar Hayward chipped in with 15 and nine boards. Marquette is now 21-6 and 11-5 in the Big East. They sit fifth, just one game behind UConn for one of the coveted four bye's in the Big East tournament.

#23 St. Mary's 61 San Diego 54 - It wasn't pretty, but the Gaels bounced back after their loss to Kent State to gut out a win and stay tied for the WCC lead with Gonzaga. Star G Patty Mills was inexplicably silent all night, taking just three shots in 32 minutes, but Todd Golden and Tron Smith stepped up with 10 and 15 respectively. Diamon Simpson had 15 and 10 in the post. Normally a three point shooting club, the Gaels had to find different ways to win, as they couldn't get good shots off. They were just 2-9. "Teams have really started sitting on [Mills] and making it tough for him to get shots," Saint Mary's coach Randy Bennett said. "We didn't shoot it great, yet we were still able to score and separate down the stretch. Our depth wore on them a little bit, and that's been a strength of our team all year."

Gonzaga 73 Portland 51 - Yet another team on this night started slow before exploding in the second half. The Zags trailed 8-20 Portland at the half 29-27, but in the last eight minutes, they finished on a 26-11 to finish off the Pilots. David Pendergraft and Jeremy Pargo both had 13 and Micah Downs added 12 off the bench to pace Gonzaga. Up next is the game that will decide the WCC regular season title St. Mary's comes to Spokane with an 11-1 league record.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Heading in the Wrong Direction

What is happening to my Jayhawks? At this time of the season, you should be on your way to reaching your peak. Your offense should be crisp, your defense should be in full form, and you should have an identity. Kansas right now has none of these things figured out.

Bill Self's veteran club is 4-3 in their last seven games, including the pathetic effort Saturday in the one point loss to a far inferior Oklahoma State team. I know, it sounds like I am ready to jump off the ledge here, but consider the following:

1. PG Russell Robinson, supposedly the teams best perimeter defender, has been consistantly torched by the guy he is guarding of late. Saturday was no different when Byron Eaton blew by him all game long for 26 points. Baylor's Curtis Jerrells dropped 30 on him two weeks earlier. K-State's Jacob Pullen had a career high 20 on him in the loss in Manhattan. It's a disturbing trend seeing as though his turnovers are up and assists are down this year while he continues to jack up threes as a 31% shooter from deep.

2. Not having a full strength Sherron Collins is killing this team. As the LJW's Tom Keegan put it, there is nobody on this team that can break his man off the dribble and get to the hole better than Collins. The bevy of injuries to his foot and knee have robbed him of his Sophomore campaign and it's hurting not only himself, but the team. His legs aren't there for his three and his quickness, which is where his whole game comes from, is half speed.

3. Darrell Arthur cannot stay out of foul trouble. This is beating a dead horse, but Shady is the best offensive player KU has. When he is on the floor and the ball is being pounded to him in the post, the Hawks can be unstoppable. The problem is, that seems like a rarity these days. In losses to both K-State and Oklahoma State, he has played 17 minutes each. Against Baylor when he played 33 minutes, he scored 23 points. In 28 minutes against Texas, he had 22. The offense must run inside out to be successful.

4. Brandon Rush needs to play for a full 40 minutes. How many more times can one guy dip in and out of a ballgame and a season for that matter? In the first half of the Oklahoma State game, Rush was completely invisible during his 12 minutes of play, scoring zero points. He was passive and lazy. For a Junior who is supposed to be uber-talented, these lapses in are just inexcusable at this point. Self had to light a fire under him earlier in the season by ripping him in the press. It worked for a good four-five games, but now he is back to his old self. He thinks he is going pro? Please. I wouldn't draft this guy in the first round if you paid me right now. If he can't get motivated with all of this pressure, what makes you think he'll be motivated when he has millions in his pockets?

5. It's time for Bill Self to step up his in game coaching. It's been suggested that he is too stubborn sometimes when it comes to playing zone. Well Bill, sometimes when your guys are in foul trouble (i.e. Shady every night it seems), you have to protect them. Sometimes your guards are getting beaten off the dribble badly allowing shooters to be wide open on the perimeter. Wouldn't a zone help you there a little? I'm not saying they should zone all the time, but when your dribble penetration is killing your guys, like it was with Byron Eaton on Saturday, try a zone! It wouldn't kill you. I won't even get into the fact that Self called a time out up one with a minute to play to seemingly run a set to get a key bucket, yet ended up being a Robinson wild drive and turnover whcih on the other end led to a Marcus Dove three that gave OSU the lead.

6. Good teams finish out their close games. We all know KU didn't have it mentally in Stillwater Saturday. Whether it was a lack of focus due to the deaths of Darnell Jackson's cousin and Rodrick Stewart's brother or just a collective bad day, the Hawks were playing like garbage for a good 32 minutes. Somehow, they managed a comeback behind Rush, Darnell Jackson, and Mario Chalmers to take a four point lead with less than three minutes left. At this point, the good teams finish the deal. The Hawks far too many times have squandered lead late only to be bailed out in the end by the clock. This time, poor defense and turnovers killed them down the stretch. You cannot let a one man team, and that is what Ok State was that day, beat you after you have clawed your way back; especially with the Big 12 title and a possible #1 seed in the tournament at stake.

We will look back on Saturday's loss as the one that ruined what could have been a magical season if things don't change soon. For KU to now win the Big 12, they must win out (4 games) and hope Texas loses twice. The Longhorns go to K-State tonight and to Texas Tech Saturday before finishing at home with Nebraska and Oklahoma State. We just don't see it happening.

It's not too late to turn it around. Remember, last February, Florida lost two straight and everyone thought the sky was falling. Well that team rounded into shape and won it all again. Can Kansas do the same? On this date, February 25th, we just don't see it happening.

The Reviews are In

Looks like the Cavaliers first night with "the new family" was a smashing success. Lebron and his new crew jumped all over the Memphis Grizzlies early and often, and won going away 109-89. Though my man Billy Thomas got just one minute of play, the other four contributed in their own way. Take a look at the numbers:

*Ben Wallace: 34 Minutes, 5-6 from the field, 12 points, 10 rebounds
*Joe Smith: 25 Minutes, 6-8 from the field, 14 points, 6 rebounds
*Delonte West: 31 Minutes, 2-12 from the field, 5 points, 6 assists
*Wally Szczerbiak: 32 Minutes, 4-10, 2-4 from three, 10 points

For those who were there, you saw it with your own eyes live. This looked like a team full of energy on both ends of the floor. Here are some articles from the beat writers with what they saw.

Cavaliers Defeat Grizzlies With New Lineup - Branson "Wrong" - Cleveland Plain Dealer

It only took one practice for James to find out that Wallace is not the player whose numbers dipped in Chicago.

Instead, James found Wallace closer to the defensive player who helped lead the Detroit Pistons to a title in 2004.

"He showed [he has something left]," James said. "His ability to get up and rebound and his ability to throw down some dunks, and he made two free throws. He's rejuvenated."
Wallace's rejuvenation was on display when he forced a five-second call late in the fourth quarter on the Grizzlies. Memphis couldn't get the ball inbounds as Wallace was draped over guard Kyle Lowry.

Wallace was proud of his defensive moment.

"It felt good," he said. "I was out there working. I thought it might have been eight seconds, but I got [the call] and it felt good."

New James Gang Rocking With Sytlish New Look - Bill Livingston, Cleveland Plain Dealer

It is to be expected that the new players would report with eyes a-light at the chance to play on a contender with James. Still, Cleveland fans watched for most of three seasons as Larry Hughes wrestled with the indignity of trying -- and failing -- to be the Cavs' second banana. Before that, Carlos Boozer left town as a free agent after swearing he never would. Seeing new guys who were deliriously happy to be here made the fans feel better.

It also put a bounce in James' step. This is big. No matter how fully James has tried to invoke such Churchillian qualities as resolution in battle and defiance in defeat, it had to be getting old as a lone voice, raised in a filibuster. Now there is a chorus of voices.

Full cry for the new era came early, with the fans screaming and the roar for Wallace as the next-to-last starter to be introduced almost rivaling that for James. After taking a 19-point lead in the first quarter, the Cavs coasted, allowing the new players to play over half the game.

Wallace wound up with 12 points and 10 rebounds in a 109-89 victory over a Memphis team that is playing out the string. He had made 101 field goals in 50 games in Chicago and was shooting 37.3 percent. He was 5-for-6 Sunday. But the plays that showed why he was acquired came without the ball.

Good First Impression - Brian Windhorst, Akron Beacon-Journal

The fresh four of Ben Wallace, Wally Szczerbiak, Joe Smith and Delonte West all made significant contributions, which fed the frenzy. LeBron James and Zydrunas Ilgauskas had good games as well, leading to the blowout.

''This might have been the first time in a long time I got chills when I took the court,'' said Smith, who had 14 points on 6-of-8 shooting and six rebounds off the bench.

''When we ran out on the court for warm-ups, the crowd reaction and how they accepted us, I kind of got goose bumps.''

No one, though, was treated better than Wallace. The crowd was dotted with homemade signs with some connotation of ''Big Ben'' in them. He responded with a series of energy plays, from getting a steal on the Cavs' firstdefensive possession to forcing a five-second call with pressure defense in the fourth quarter.

He also showed some hints of how he might fit into the Cavs' (32-24) offense, taking advantage of double-teams on James and Ilgauskas to get five dunks. Wallace finished with 12 points, which tied his season high, 10 rebounds and two steals.

Owner Says Money Not #1 Concern When Making Deal - Windhorst

Gilbert doesn't speak with the media often, but he did before Sunday's game to explain his thinking about giving the green light to expand his payroll and luxury tax bill to bring aboard the four new players, including Wally Szczerbiak and Ben Wallace, who make a combined $27 million this season.

''I thought it was pretty important to do something,'' Gilbert said. ''We got to the Finals with this team, but the competition got harder and it was going to be a bigger challenge than last year.''
Gilbert said that he's not spending as much as people think. Because the Cavs are just responsible for paying the new players for the final 27 games of the season, he's only actually paying about $1.2 million more in the prorated salaries than he would have before the trade.

However, the Cavs will have to pay luxury tax on the entire additional $4.7 million added to their total payroll and that is a dollar-for-dollar penalty. The Cavs payroll is currently about $80.85 million — third in the NBA. The NBA's ''soft'' salary cap is $57.63 million and the luxury tax threshold is $67.865 million. That puts the current tax bill, the first-ever in franchise history, at a shade under $13 million.

''We are trying to build something here,'' Gilbert said. ''You pay $375 million for a franchise and then break even for a couple years. You can't start getting cheap now. It's a big commitment, but before we even look at money, we look at what is right basketball-wise first. If you do it money first, you may start getting (the front office) gun-shy even thinking of ideas.''

Daily Dime -

There were also signs of the possibly tough adjustment Wallace is going to be asked to make. Spending time guarding Hakim Warrick on the perimeter instead of Kwame Brown or Darko Milicic inside, Wallace was often pulled far from the hoop. It caused him to be out of position when it came to defending the basket on help defense at times. Though he got 10 rebounds, he missed some that came his way, too, as he got late position.

But that is nitpicking to some degree. Wallace's effort helped the Cavs dominate as that aforementioned frontline combined for 59 points and 30 rebounds.

And that doesn't count Joe Smith, who came off the bench and kept getting open shots off feeds from James, scoring 14 points with six rebounds.

Meanwhile Anderson Varejao, sidelined a month with a sprained ankle, is due back this week as the front line gains even more depth.

"Our interior is stronger than ever right now," James said. "Rebounding has always been our strength, but now it is even better."

Szczberiak hit a pair of 3-pointers on his way to 10 points. West had the roughest start of the newbies, making just 2-of-12 shots but he had six assists and three steals. Those six assists represented previous point guard Larry Hughes' season high as West is showing signs he may be a better fit at point than Hughes playing out of position.

Jay Z's Relationship With Lebron Should Worry Cavs - Adrian Wojnarowski, Yahoo Sports

What’s unnerving to Cleveland is that Jay-Z happens to be a part owner of the New Jersey Nets with unlimited access to James’ heart, mind and ambitions. Of course, the Nets are plotting a move to a sparkling new arena in Brooklyn, perhaps as soon as the 2011-2012 season. They’re clearing cap space and planning a pursuit of James when he can opt out of his contract in the summer of 2010.

Cleveland officials won’t talk about James and Jay-Z, but if you were wondering about the franchise’s fear of losing him to the brighter lights and bigger city, understand that the trade owner Dan Gilbert and general manager Danny Ferry made had everything to do with winning now and crushing James’ concerns that Cleveland is unable to surround him with a championship cast.

LeBron doesn’t want to just win titles. His stated wants include becoming sport’s first billionaire athlete. Among his advisors, he counts Warren Buffet. Jay-Z has helped James focus his mind on chasing something bigger than basketball. The question will be this: For the kid out of Akron, will his hometown &ndash will even winning – be enough to hold onto LeBron James?

Coast to Tyus Edney against Mizzou

We should give you a quick background on the weekend here. MTAC JR's first birthday party was set for Saturday. The entire family comes to town and my house was overrun with visitors. My mother in law comes in with walking pneumonia, which she has had for three months, but has been on anti-biotics for. Because of the cold weather (they live out West), she has been coughing excessively. SERENITY NOW. On top of it, Thursday night, Mrs. MTAC tells me she isn't feeling well. By Friday night, she is has a terrible sore throat. We wake up Saturday morning and she says "I think I have strep." Since it's 7 am and Jr's B-day party is in four and a half hours, we go to the emergency room to get a throat culture. Sure enough, she caught the strep I have two weeks ago. So we now have to cancel his first birthday party. We end up moving it to my Aunt's house at the last minute, but Mrs. MTAC couldn't be there. It was still a good time, but clearly not the same. The other issue was my the fact that my house was a germ farm for the last week. Just what we needed.

Oh did we mention how Saturday night was spent sleeping on the basement couch and between 2:30-3:45 the smoke alarm, which I couldn't locate, was chirping because of a low battery and Jr woke up at 6:15? SERENITY NOW. This is the reason there was no recap of the College Hoops games from Saturday. Instead, below the daily links, you'll get the weekend roundup.

What is Ralph Nader doing? He announced Sunday that yet again he is going to run for President and probably will throw a monkey wrench into the election one way or another. He does this, yet has no chance of winning. Why waste your time and money?

See it's not just us. Can't Stop the Bleeding says Duke Vitale is annoying people to death.

Rusty Hardin is the worst. Now that a photo has surfaced of Roger Clemens at the infamous Jose Canseco party, he has said now that maybe Clemens was indeed there. The Clemens perjury charge cannot come soon enough.

Mad love for our favorite coach in college basketball, Bruce Pearl.

Gary Freaking Busey, that's all we have to say. Watch and enjoy.

If anyone still cares about Saturday Night Live - we don't and haven't since the Farley era - Here's a recap of their return to the air and the political aspect of the show.

Bruce "Wooden" Weber is such a loser. He is downright giddy about the Sampson firing.

The Chicago Tribune's Mike Downey says The Bulls ripped the Cavs off because they dumped Ben Wallace them.

Bob Kravitz continues his rip job of departed IU coach Kelvin Sampson in Sunday's Indy Star.

Out Like Kelvin Sampson - You know the details by now; Indiana Coach Kelvin Sampson, already under the microscope with the NCAA, has been found to have broken the same rules again, making excessive phone calls to recruits.

Many called for his head at this time a week ago, but he spent a week doing everything he could to change his critics minds without even saying a word. His Hoosiers won two games in spectacular fashion against Michigan State and hated-rival Purdue, which has put them in first place in the Big Ten. While he was booed walking out onto the court last Saturday, he was having his name chanted by the crowd late in the second half thanks to his team’s domination of the Spartans. There was more of the same Tuesday night against the Boilers. It’s amazing what winning will do for you.

But it looks as though all of that good will seems to be all for naught, as it came to an end with Sampson resigning early Friday night, with a $750,000 settlement where he would not sue the school for wrongful termination. Rumors were flying that the players threatened to boycott the Northwestern game if Sampson was fired; that a meeting was held with the players and A.D. Rick Greenspan where Forward Jamarcus Ellis walked out and others said they wouldn’t play for newly named interim coach Dan Dakich because he wasn’t involved in recruiting any of them. Six players, including star PF D.J. White, didn’t show up for Friday’s practice in protest.

The bottom line is that Sampson is now gone, and the talented Hoosiers must play the rest of the way without the coach they have come to love over the last two years. But who will be IU’s next coach? We can assure you it won’t be Dakich. No way another Mike Davis situation arises in Bloomington. Here is a name to watch for: Wright State's Brad Brownell. Xavier's Sean Miller and Washington State's Tony Bennett will get the most run, but Brownell is rising fast and must be considered.

The Hoosiers clearly looked ill-prepared for Northwestern's Princeton offense, but they managed to leave Evanston with an 85-82 win. Armon Bassett and Jordan Crawford combined for 45 points and 8-12 threes. Hoosiers star Eric Gordon said after the game about his ex-coach "He wasn't just like a coach. He was more like a father to us. We just miss him."

#2 is #1 - You know by now that Memphis' undefeated season is no longer thanks to Bruce Pearl's Tennessee Volunteers. A few things popped out as us during this game. Memphis will not win a National Title - you can book that - because they can't shoot three's, they can't shoot free throws, and when it comes down to a close finish in a half court set, they look lost. It's one on one with Derrick Rose or Chris Douglas-Roberts and that is it. Another grave concern for the Tigers has to be the fact that in a game of this magnitude against a perimeter oriented team, they were killed on the glass 46-31.

You could see the difference in these two teams at the end when the Vols half court sets worked, putting Tyler Smith in position to score in the post. Tennessee went on the road and won this game with Chris Lofton being a complete non-factor (2-11, seven points). ESPN's Andy Katz says Tennessee needs to watch out for their next game at Vandy.

KU Headed South - The 61-60 loss to Oklahoma State is disturbing on many levels. While the team was dealing with two tragic murders of family members in the past week (Darnell Jackson's cousin and Rodrick Stewart's brother), this team's lack of focus and execution was flat out awful. "We stunk" said coach Bill Self. Sherron Collins' knee is the latest in a string of injuries that has ruined his Sophomore season, Darrell Arthur cannot saty out of foul trouble (17 minutes, six points, five fouls), and Brandon Rush continues to fade in and out. Good teams close out games when they make a late comeback to take the lead after trailing most of the game. KU let Oklahoma State off the hook with lazy defense. The Big 12 and a #1 seed, once there's for the taking, seems like a long-shot.

Pac-10's Deep Middle - It should come as no shock that Arizona won at Washington State by 10 while playing essentially six guys. Oregon has UCLA for 32 minutes before the Bruins (unlike Kansas) overcame the deficit and won by by 10 (Russell Westbrook had another poster jam). Arizona State goes to Seattle and beats Washington by 14. The same Washington team that a week ago beat UCLA on the same floor. We'll say it now - this league deserves eight NCAA bids.

The King of the Mid-Majors - Sorry Butler, but Drake is the one. Going into Hinkle Fieldhouse, a place that the Bulldogs rarely lose, and controlling the game throughout is impressive. The teams play similar styles and both depend so much on the three, but Drake's athletic tandem of Josh Young and Leonard Houston were to much. Talking mid-major, you must not sleep on Kent State. Talk about impressive, they are now 23-5 after going into McKeon Pavilion and beating #20 St. Mary's.

Beasley the Beast - K-State's hopes for a Big 12 title is slipping away thanks to the fact that they cannot win road games, but this isn't stopping Michael Beasley. The best player in the country set a Big 12 record with 44 points, but his team lost at Baylor 92-86. In the crazy stat of the weekend, his teammate Bill Walker had 31 of his own, meaning the rest of the 'Cats scored a combined 15 points.