Monday, March 31, 2008

Jay Bilas part two

I just got back lunch from this place that is no more than a 5 minute drive from where I work. During that short 5 minute drive back I heard no other than Jay Bilas (who I wrote about yesterday) on the Jim Rome show. What did Jay Bilas have to say to the Jungle? If you have been reading this blog then you probably guessed "Tyler Hansbrough is the hardest working player in college basketball history" and "His will exceeds his skill and his is skill is exceptional." You would be correct with those guesses as well as anyone who guessed that Bilas would have said something that implied that Tyler Hansbrough was one of the greatest college basketball players of all time.

Then I get back to my desk and read the following spoof on Tyler Hansbrough's morning routine. Here are some quick highlights from Pete McEntegart:
  • Dick: Getting out of bed wasn't always something that came naturally to Tyler. His parents tell me that for the first year or two of his life, it was a daily struggle. He even spent time in a crib. But he's worked on it every morning, even when the coach gives the rest of the team off.
  • Jay: If the American Dental Association was going to make a how-to video for brushing, it would star Tyler Hansbrough. Watch him attack the gumline. The 45-degree angle, the short back-and-forth strokes, it's all here. He's so fundamentally sound.

  • Dick: He's poured the milk and he's really digging in. There's a BIG mouthful, and now another. Tremendous! There's a trickle of milk heading down his chin, but Tyler just wipes it away with his left hand and continues to eat. Does nothing faze this young man?
    Jay: He's not concerned with how things look. And yes, there are players who are more graceful, or who make things look easier. But Tyler Hansbrough is all about results. His will is greater than his skill. And his skill is considerable.
  • Jay: Dick, I had the good fortune to play against Michael Jordan. And I'm not saying Tyler Hansbrough is Michael Jordan. I once saw Michael Jordan eat an entire Rooty-Tooty Fresh ‘N Fruity breakfast at IHOP with his left hand, and make it look like he was putting away a simple slice of white toast. But I will tell you this: Michael Jordan never attacked a breakfast food with any more effort and determination than Tyler Hansbrough. No way.

Anyway, I am expecting an article from the Onion about Tyler Hansbrough any day now.

Other quick hits:

  • Miami hockey lost yesterday to Boston College. I was looking forward to seeing Miami play North Dakota in the Frozen Four, but it looks like that will have to wait a year.
  • Do you know how hard it is to find updated scores on college hockey? The Gametracker on Miami's website didn't actually track the game because it never updated itself. Also, on they had the score, but no other information about what was happening or who scored. Also, the page didn't refresh automatically. I don't know how I am supposed to be getting into hockey when I feel like the available media for hockey is stuck back in 1995. Can someone help me out here?
  • Minnesota loses when I want them to win (almost every game I cheer for the underdog Twolves) and wins when I want them to lose (every home game against my favorite team the Jazz). Yesterday, unfortunately was no exception.
  • What a heartbreaking loss yesterday for Davidson. When that ball was in the air I knew with a 100% certainty that it was going in and Davidson was going to win the game. It was a tough shot, but a tough shot from Davidson's stud senior point guard Jason Richards. Can you imagine what Gus Johnson's call would be on what could have been the most memorable shot in NCAA history? From now on when I see that replay I will imagine that shot going in and setting up the perfect good (Davidson) vs. evil (UNC) Final Four matchup otherwise known as the Battle of Elisabeth part two.

  • Here is a good article on what it was like in the one bar in Davidson, NC.

  • I think the best thing about the tournament is the new celebration (replacing the pop the jersey and the closed fist pound from previous tournaments):

I am thinking about incorporating that into my every day life. If one of my coworkers runs a good meeting I will run up and jump into them. If M takes me on a date I will have to reward her with a little PDA (public displays of altitude). I think we need a name for the new celebration and until there is a better option I will call it the Air Bump.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

On his off day

Today if you go to downtown Charlotte you can see a dazed Jay Bilas (the announcer from last night's game) muttering to anyone who will listen:  "Do you know that Tyler Hansbrough never takes a play off?"   

Here are some great articles on the greatest basketball player since James Naismith introduced the world to a new winter sport:

National media if by chance you ever come across this blog let me be clear:  I get it.   I get how you think Tyler Hansbrough is more American than apple pie.   I get how without Tyler Hansbrough UNC would lucky to beat Tulsa in the College Basketball Invitational.  I get how Tyler Hansbrough is so focused that they are now calling the car the Ford Hansbrough.  I get it.

What I don't understand is why there aren't articles about Ty Lawson's suburb tournament performance so far?  Quentin Thomas looked lost last night and without Lawson breaking Louisville's press then UNC would have been in trouble.   Without Lawson's 9 assists and his huge 3 pointer to put UNC up 7 then it might have been a different game.  I know the easy story is Tyler Hansbrough scoring 28 points and making some ridiculous jumpers that he has never made before in his career, but I implore people to look deeper.   He played well, but again he isn't without his faults.  Tyler had 5 turnovers, only 1 assist (which is actually above his average), and of course 0 blocks.  His defense pretty much consisted of slapping in the general vicinity of the  ball whenever Padgett received a pass.  

The lazy story is the amazingly focused, determined, hard-working Hansbrough came through in the clutch.  The harder story is the story of a team that is peaking at the right time thanks to contributions from Ty Lawson, Danny Green, Wayne Ellington, and even Deon Thompson.  The harder story is trying to figure out if Louisville's 19 turnovers were more of a product of an improved UNC defense or a lack of "focus" by Louisville's offense.  The harder story is writing about how impressive UNC's secondary break has been in the tournament.   However, these stories are just too hard for the lazy national media.   If only the national media were as hard-working as Tyler Hansbrough?

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Stat of the Day

Davidson has played in two fewer games than UNC, which makes this stat a little more remarkable.  Stephen Curry has as many blocks this year (14) as Tyler Hansbrough.   Look it up:

Now for the basketball novices reading this blog there is usually a positive correlation between a player's height and their number of blocks.  Also, forwards and center's normally get more blocks than guards since forwards and centers play closer to the basket.   Hansbrough is 6 ft 9 inch post and Stephen Curry is 6 ft 3 inch guard.   That stat should be enough to make you question why Danny Green, Ty Lawson and Wayne Ellington (all complete players) aren't getting as much love as their one dimensional national player of the year teammate.

Friday, March 28, 2008


In my bracket I picked Stanford in the Championship game despite never seeing a full Stanford game. I put Drake in the Elite 8 even though I couldn't spell Adam Emmenecker or knew that one of the Korvers played there. I let my personal feelings cloud my judgement when picking against UNC (I picked Tennessee) and picking Duke to make it to the Final Four. Currently I am in the 44.3% percentile on's bracket challenge.

In terms of basketball knowledge why do I feel smart tonight?

I picked Davidson to go the Elite Eight. I picked them to beat Gonzaga, Georgetown, and Wisconsin. The thing is I didn't even think twice about picking them to go to the Elite Eight. Why?
  1. They had tournament experience from last year's close loss to Maryland.
  2. They played a tough non-conference schedule (tougher than their in-state public school neighbors 133 miles northeast of Davidson), which resulted in close loses to UNC, Duke, and UCLA.
  3. They had a ton of momentum going into the tournament stemming from winning 22 straight games coming into the tournament.

It is hard not to be happy when watching Davidson play in this tournament. I have thoroughly enjoyed the ability of their point guard Jason Richards who so far this tournament has 24 more assists (27 overall) than Greg Paulus had in the tournament. Also, it is hard for me not to love Andrew Lovedale's inside play. However, none of those are the main reason for the kid-like joy I get while watching this year's tournament run for Davidson. The reason is the man amongst boys in the 2008 tournament who just so happens to be the player who looks most like a 14 year old boy. That player of course is Stephen Curry and when it comes to him there is no hyperbole. When my friend called me after Curry hit one of his 6 threes, we both were almost at a lost for words to describe how great he had been playing in the game and in the tournament. Simply put he is the best player in the tournament. Now normally I get tired of reading national media fawning over and over the same player (example Tyler Hansbrough), but this time is different. This time the media is right. Read the below articles:

Davidson's Curry puts on Sweet 16 show fit for a King

Curry belongs in history books after stunning performance

Davidson's Curry scoring 40? It's out of his hands

Crazy first four days of NCAA tourney

Now we've got exciting games

Some quick highlights from those articles:

  • "Davidson's Stephen Curry is Wally Szczerbiak, circa 1999." Grant Wahl
  • "What did I write Friday about Davidson's Stephen Curry? Whatever it was, run it back. Print it again. The same thing happened Sunday." - Gregg Doyel
  • "Curry played with the confidence of someone who has already played the game and knows its result. It must come from being the son of an NBA player, from getting into shooting contests with one of the greatest shooters of the last quarter-century -- and winning" - Gregg Doyel
  • "The best player in the world was watching the best player in the NCAA tournament, and for a while, I forgot which of these guys was the best player in the world. I'm not sure LeBron James remembered, either" - Gregg Doyel

Congrats to my sister for her school's success. Congrats to everyone with a connection to Davidson. Congrats to the board of trustees for paying for the Davidson students to go the game for free. I couldn't be happier for a team not named Duke or Miami. Hopefully now national writers can write about something else besides free laundry when talking about Davidson.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

The end of Duke's season

I can't say the West Virginia game was that surprising.  Duke was barely favored and half of's Sportsnation pool expected Duke to lose.  That being said it is still disappointing.   Duke never got in a rhythm and once they got behind they never really stood a chance.   I would have liked to see a game that didn't closely resemble football (Does Bob Huggins teach grabbing and bumping during his defense drills?), but honestly I don't think it would have mattered.  I think West Virginia played well, hit more shots, and for some reason has been a better tournament team lately.

The loss this late in the season really helped make clear the differences from the beginning of the year to the end of the year.   In the early part of the season Duke beat Wisconsin (in the Sweet Sixteen) handily, beat Marquette (a shot away from the Sweet Sixteen), beat Davidson (alive in the 2nd round), and god's gift to college basketball the University of North Carolina Tar Heels. The Duke team from November through February would have beat the Duke team of the past 30 days by at least 25 .   

If Duke would have been lucky enough to win this game they almost certainly would have lost to Xavier.   That is besides the point though as Duke isn't a program that celebrates Sweet Sixteen appearances.   I didn't see any Sweet Sixteen banners when I went to Cameron.  The goal every year at Duke is to win the ACC championship, make it to the Final Four and win the national championship.   This Duke team had a good chance at the first, a slim but possible chance at the second, and a next to nothing chance at the third.   

In the end this year's team was a team that provided a building block for next year.   In a previous post I had compared this year's team to the 200o Duke team.  That team finished the year 29-5 compared to this year's team record of  28-6.   That team lost in the Sweet Sixteen, while this year's team lost in the 2nd round.   I am hoping that next year's team is able to duplicate what the 2001 team accomplished.   All the team needs is a post player (has to be a transfer or a recruit) and a stud slasher/scored (could be Gerald Henderson) in order to be at a national championship level. Scheyer, Paulus, King, Singler etc. would all be great complimentary players, but none of them have the athleticism or skill to take over a game in a way that Elton Brand, Grant Hill, or Shane Battier used to do and Gerald Henderson could possibly do.   As fans of most teams think at the end of the season there is always optimism and hope because there is always next year.

Woo Pig Sooie.   

Friday, March 21, 2008

Am I worried?


Duke did not play well last night and to say they could have lost doesn't give Belmont enough credit.  If you changed literally 5 plays in the last minute then Belmont would have won.  Now, the Blue Devils have to play a West Virginia team that has beat Marquette, Pittsburgh, Connecticut, and most recently Arizona.  I am curious to see if Duke can find the answer to West Virginia's 6'8" stud forward Joe Alexander.  Overall, the best thing about the game last night was that it significantly lowered my expectations for this year's team.  If Duke wins I will be happy, but I no longer will be surprised if they lose any of the remaining games.

Now, on the flip side should UNC be a little worried?  I have written before about their terrible schedule and how it might not prepare them well for the tournament.   Lets see how UNC's top 10 wins look right now after the first day:
  • Davidson: plays today against Gonzaga
  • BYU: Lost to Texas A&M
  • Ohio St.: Playing in the NIT
  • Kentucky: Lost to Marquette
  • Nevada: Lost in the NIT of the NIT (College Basketball Invitational).
  • Kent St: Lost to UNLV.  (Also, only scored 10 points in the 1st half)
  • Clemson (3 times): plays today against Villanova.
  • Miami (FL): plays today against St. Mary's.
  • Virginia Tech (2 times): Playing in the NIT.
  • Duke: nearly lost to Belmont last night.
Should UNC fans be worried?  They haven't played one team that has had any real success during the first day of the tournament.  Also, I am wondering  how Davidson, Clemson, and Miami (FL) do today.   If they all lose today then it might mean be another indicator of how terrible UNC's schedule was this year.   

UNC has the advantage of playing in Raleigh and Charlotte, but lets see how they do against good teams like Indiana, Arkansas, Washington St, or Notre Dame.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Basketball Mailbag

Here is my own person mailbag with things that have been interesting to me:

Why is Duke hated?

Read and then reread this great article from Devin Gordon: Why Everyone Hates Duke. After reading that listen to Gordon on the Dan Patrick show (hour 3 on Tuesday show’s) to talk about why everyone hates Duke. If you don’t want to put that much time into reading a two page article and/or listening to an hour long segment then I understand. Here is the summary. Duke wins, is on TV a lot, gets a lot of great college players (who aren’t good in the pros), is a private school, and has the media fawning over players like Redick, Laettner, Battier, and Paulus. Overall I think people hate Duke in college basketball for the same reason that they hate the Yankees in baseball. Both Duke and the Yankees win and for the most part America likes an underdog.

Is Duke like the Yankees?

No. They don’t buy the best players like the Yankees do. The Yankees can outspend most teams and get whoever they want (like Alex Rodriquez or Johnny Damon) without having to rely on scouting or developing players. Duke on the other hand has to recruit players that have no monetary incentive to pick Duke over UCLA, Kansas , UNC, etc. In fact if you are a star high school basketball player that is only concerned with going to the pros as quickly as possible then it might be better to go to a place other than Duke. You wouldn’t have to compete against as tough of competition in practice and you can be guaranteed ample playing time because no coach of a middle tier program is going to bench their star recruit. I think that it is a lot easier for Michael Beasley and OJ Mayo to go to Kansas St and USC because by going to those schools they get to literally and figurative call their own shots. It should be no surprise that both are projected top 10 picks in next year’s draft.

What about UNC?

UNC is for the most part not hated. They aren’t considered to be the Yankees. This makes absolutely no sense. From all metrics they are a winning program (2 titles compared to Duke’s 3 in the past 20 years), get top recruits (3 of rivals top 150 compared to Duke’s 2), and is on tv a lot.

What would be a good comparison for UNC?

If Duke were the Yankees then UNC would be the Red Sox.

Doesn't everyone like the Red Sox?



It seems like America hates the big corporate retailer (Wal-Mart), the top spending baseball team (the Yankees), etc without thinking about anyone else. In reality there isn’t much difference (who cares about wider aisles and better lighting) between Wal-Mart and Target or the Yankees and the Red Sox. For some reason it okay for the general public to pile it on Wal-Mart, Yankees, and Duke without giving any consideration to Target, the Red Sox, and UNC.

So basically, as long as you are not the worst offender (in whatever way offends the general public) than you are given a free pass?

It sure seems that way. People should like dislike UNC just as much as Duke. On the Dan Patrick show it was brought up that there were 10 miles that separated Tyler Hansbrough from being the most hated college basketball player in America. The implication was that Hansbrough would be hated if he went to Duke. Instead Hansbrough is the most loved athelte in America without getting the backlash that players like Redick received throughout their career.

Who is in your Final Four?

I have Tennessee, Kansas, Stanford, and Duke in the Final Four with Kansas beating Stanford for the championship.

What is the most amazing You Tube basketball shot you saw today?

A 90 foot shot in DII basketball.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Virginia Tech

Seth Greenberg is from all indications a really good coach. In his 4 years at Viginia Tech he has won two ACC coach of the year awards. He cleary motivated his team well enough today to nearly beat the 1 ranked Tar Heels today in the ACC semifinals. I like Seth Greenberg as a coach.

The one problem I have with him is his late game stategy at the end of the thrilling game against Carolina. The score is tied and Virginia Tech has the ball with about 48 seconds left. If you make a quick move and get a good shot quickly then you can utilize the 2 for 1 strategy. Instead they held the ball and missed a baseline jumper with less than 35 seconds. Carolina held for a last shot and won on a baseline jumper from the incomparable Tyler Hansbrough.

Why didn't Greenberg instruct his team to go for the 2 for 1? Give your team as many chances as possible to beat the 1 ranked.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Tyler Hansbrough

Due to my lenten promise, I can't and won't say anything bad about Tyler Hansbrough.  That doesn't mean I will be saying many nice things about the probably player of the year.   Anyway, I came across a great article by Mike Freeman.   He wrote about the media's obsession with Tyler Hansbrough in the below article:

The thing is he actually likes Tyler Hansbrough and is just criticizing the media.     However, the people that commented on the article must have missed the point.  Just read some of the comments if you want to see what some of the sport's public thinks about the article, Mike Freeman, or Tyler Hansbrough.   Personally, I think it is a great article and should be required reading for any diehard or casual college basketball fan.  Mike Freeman actually was on the Dan Patrick show today to discuss the article.  Click on the Dan Patrick show and go to Wednesday Hour 1 if you want to hear them discuss his article.

There will be more about the article after Easter.   

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Duke-Carolina round two

I just woke up about this morning with a bloody nose.   I have never woken up with a bloody nose and I can tell you that this is a kind of a weird way of waking up.   Nobody wants to see blood on their pillow as they awake from their 10 hour slumber.     The last time Duke-Carolina played in March Tyler Hansbrough got bloodied up by an accidental (depending on who you ask) hit from Gerald Henderson.  This time it was me.

Here are my thoughts from the game last night and if you don't care about Duke or UNC then just skip down to OTHER NEWS:
  • Did the refs realize that their whistles worked last night?  I guess they were going with the theory that no blood, no foul.  Also, they didn't know that traveling is illegal in college basketball.   A big deal was made by Dan Shuman and Dick Vitale that Hansbrough (who is leading everybody in free throw attempts) never went to the line.   While I agree he probably got fouled at least once, I also thought the refs not calling any travels or as many fouls was a bigger story line.  
  • The difference in the game were the blocks.  Duke had 7 and UNC had 15.  Both teams shot the ball 76 times with Duke making 25 and UNC making 31.  The reason Duke missed more shots than Carolina is because they had there shot blocked (or fouled) on what seemed to be most of Duke's drives.  
  • There were a few crucial moments and none was bigger than when Duke went up two (68-66) and had the ball with under 6 minutes to go.  Greg Paulus made a great crossover on Hansbrough, but missed a wide open 2 point jump shot.  The ball went right to Henderson standing about 5 feet away from the basket.   He was standing flat footed, so he was a little too far out (he needed one power dribble) for a dunk, but he misjudged the situation and tried the dunk anyway.  This resulted in a point blank miss.   After that position Duke had another chance when Paulus missed a wide open 3 off a great pass by Scheyer.  Either the 3 or the dunk would have put Duke up two possessions and completely changed the game.  
  • The layup by Hansbrough to put UNC up 70-68 featured two offensive fouls.  One by Green for pushing Scheyer (I think) out of the way.  The next was Hansbrough jumping over Singler for a no call on an over the back.
  • The next play Paulus missed another crucial three that would have put Duke up 1 with under 2 minutes to go.  To his credit Paulus kept Duke within reach in the first half by shooting well from the outside, but at the end of the game he couldn't make anything and finished the game shooting 5 for 14.
  • More ref complaints:  How did Paulus get called for a foul on Ty Lawson's drive to put UNC up 72-68, but Tyler didn't get called for fouling Scheyer on his 3 pointer when Duke was down 74-68 and their was 44 seconds left.  I am not saying that call would have changed the outcome of the game (since Duke couldn't make anything the last 6 minutes), but it would have been nice to see.
  • That 10-0 run in this year's game was reminiscent of the equally important 2005 Duke-UNC game at the Dean Dome.   Last night Duke lost the regular season title, a possible #1 seed in the Charlotte region, Senior night for DeMarcus Nelson (who obviously didn't handle the emotion well), and a possible chance of sweeping Carolina.   In 2005 Duke lost a possible sweep and the chance of hurting UNC's seed that eventually led to a national championship.
  • Can somebody please tell DeMarcus Nelson to take stop shooting 3s and Jon Scheyer to start shooting more 3s?   Nelson's strength is taking the ball to the basket and finding ways of scoring close to the goal.
  • I still think if Duke wins the ACC championship then they should get the #1 seed.  I know I am in the minority on this, but I don't think Duke should be punished for playing a difficult non-conference schedule that resulted in them winning 2 out of 3 tough games against Pitt, Marquette, and Wisconsin.   I think winning 2 out of those 3 games (with the one loss being because of an under 10 second 3 pointer) is more impressive than beating BYU, Ohio St., and Kent State.   
  • Duke missed an opportunity I didn't think they would get after how they played in the first half.  I almost would have rather had them play like they played in the first half for the entire game because if that would have happened there would have been no "what ifs" since they would have lost by 20.
Friday night was my own personal "Hockey night in Minnesota."   I went with a good friend (and huge hockey fan) to go see the University of Minnesota Gophers play the University of Minnesota-Duluth-Bulldogs.  After that I had a few beers and watched the high school hockey tournament game between Roseau and Hill Murray, in which Hill Murray (not Bill Murray) snapped a nearly year and a half long winning streak by Roseau.   It was Minnesota high school hockey's equivalent of the Patriots losing.  Here are my thoughts with pictures from that night:
  • Mariucci Arena is an amazing hockey arena.  The arena does a great job of highlighting the illustrious history of Gopher hockey and making the arena feel like it has been there for a 100 years despite only being 15 years old.

  • I am not even going to fault the Gophers for putting up National Runner Up banners because for someone who is a hockey novice like me I enjoyed seeing when the Gophers made it to the title game.  I even think this should be introduced into normal life.  You could have a "almost got promoted" party or hang up a banner saying that you son or daughter almost got into an Ivy League school.  The saying should now be "close only counts in horseshoes, hand grenades, and Gopher hockey."
  • Not only does the Gophers hockey team have cheerleaders, but they skate in between periods.  How great is it that the cheerleaders cheer and skate?  Is it required by law that you have to skate if you were born in Minnesota?  Check out this video of Minnesota Cheerleaders skating.
  • The Gopher cheerleaders mission statement is to "push the limits of hockey cheerleading" and "to be one of the Best Hockey Cheer Teams in the nation."  How can push the limits of hockey cheerleading?  How many Hockey Cheer Teams in the nation are there?   Why is Hockey Cheer Teams capitalized?  It seems like with the Gopher hockey cheerleaders there are more questions than answers.
  • Umm....Goldy (the mascot of the Gophers) writes on the same 2007-2008 mission statement page that he will "make it rain."   Seriously, go to the website (which is and scroll down to Goldy Gopher.    I didn't know Goldy had so much in common with Pacman Jones.   Below see the picture of Goldy amongst his fans:

  • I need to get better with my hockey talk since I accidentally called center ice "midcourt" and the periods "quarters."
  • Major props to the Gophers hockey band for playing Pinball Wizard, Sergeants Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band and With a Little Help from My Friends among others.
It is hard to believe a week from now is Selection Sunday.   After that is opening weekend, which thankfully I get that Friday off because of my company recognizing Good Friday as a holiday.