Posted on: March 25, 2011 12:02 pm
Edited on: March 25, 2011 5:39 pm
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Gene Smith is supposed to be here in Anaheim on Saturday. As chairman of the men's basketball committee, it is his duty to make the rounds during the NCAA tournament.
Arizona and UConn play Saturday for the right to go to the Final Four. Don't keep a seat warm for Smith. He is also Ohio State's athletic director, which makes him a bit preoccupied these days.
Friday's revelation that Jim Tressel forwarded emails to a mentor of quarterback Terrelle Pryor might be the deal-breaker for the Buckeyes coach. Remember, these are the emails that he wouldn't share with his superiors because Tressel was worried about "privacy" issues.
Apparently the emails weren't sensitive enough to keep from a 67-year-old owner of a Jeanette, Pa., glass company. It's hard to envision Tressel lasting any longer as this coverup builds. It's only a matter of time and definition -- when the coach will leave and what it will be called. Firing? Resignation? It doesn't really matter at this point.
Here's why Friday's news is so damning: If you remember at the March 8 press conference, Tressel was asked by Yahoo! Sports' Dan Wetzel if the coach had shared the emails with anyone else. As Tressel started to say yes, Smith intervened saying that couldn't be discussed, that there was an ongoing investigation.
Reminds us once again that the cover up is always worse than the crime.
This particular situation doesn't necessarily reflect badly on Pryor or Ted Sarniak, who was well known during the quarterback's recruiting process as a mentor. It was to the point, according to a source, that recruiters were dealing with Sarniak more than his high school coach. I was in Jeanette during that recruiting process and went to interview Sarniak at his Jeanette Glass Company offices. It was unannounced because I couldn't track him down on the phone. I was never able to find him.
The school vetted the relationship between Pryor and Sarniak, according to the Columbus Dispatch .
"He's [Sarniak] not a bad guy and he's got money," a person close to Pryor told me. "I don't think he did it [mentored Pryor] for the money."
This is more about Tressel. On the surface, he not only withheld information regarding -- let's not forget -- a federal investigation from his superiors. He also went off the reservation in sharing the emails with a person outside the university. Not even a parent -- a "mentor." Let's be clear: A glass company owner in western Pennsylvania apparently knew Pryor's name had popped up during a federal investigation before Ohio State's president or athletic director.
Poor Gene Smith. His basketball team is driving for the Final Four. That Final Four is a week away and Smith is in charge of it, the NCAA's top moneymaker. But those issues probably aren't in the top five in his mental Rolodex at the moment. We'll know for sure if there is an empty seat at courtside Saturday at the Honda Center.
Posted on: March 10, 2011 4:31 pm
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- It wasn't the No. 1 seed being at risk.
It wasn't the foul trouble.
It wasn't the flat start.
It was the near embarrassment for No. 2 Kansas of being punked in the quarterfinals of the Big 12 tournament by a five-foot nothing shooting guard with an overbite.
Too harsh a description for Oklahoma State's Keiton Page? Maybe not. Jayhawks guard Tyrel Reed was asked if the (actually, 5-foot-9) Cowboys guard would be considered a Big 12-caliber player at first glance.
"I don't think anyone would [think that]," Reed said. "He probably doesn't look the part, but definitely plays the part."
Page, the Cowboys' second-leading scorer, is one of those gnat-like guards who can seemingly dribble between your legs. But let up or back off and that embarrassment potential is high. He's that little guy who can stick a three in your face and shoots 90 percent from the line. That Page didn't touch the ball in the game's final possession was probably the difference in Kansas' 63-62 win. Up until that point, he had been the Cowboys statistical and spiritual leader with 23 points.
"When you talk about the eye test, there's a lot of guys out there who don't exactly pass the eye test," KU coach Bill Self said, "for what the prototypical two-guard in the Big 12 should look like. But that kid can play. He's a bad boy."
Not bad enough, it turned out. With his team trailing by that point, Oklahoma State's Jean-Paul Olukemi missed a closely-guarded three as time expired. The spiritual and statistical leader never touched the ball. Self had wisely placed long-armed 6-4 Elijah Johnson on Page to deny him the ball,
That the Jayhawks held Page to "only" 23 was the difference in Kansas moving on to Friday's semifinals. A loss would have raised even more questions about KU's focus this time of year. Hey, when you're 30-2 there isn't much more to analyze. That's 10 30-win seasons in school history, four under Self.
The Jayhawks have won seven consecutive regular-season Big 12 titles and, even with a loss, may have been able to keep a No. 1 seed. The last time they won a conference tournament game this close was five years to the day -- by the same score, against the same team.
"Obviously the last five minutes of a game is far more important than the first five, because the mistakes are magnified and you don't have time to recover," Self said. "In our season, we know we're going to get to go on, and their [Oklahoma State's] goal is to go to the NCAA Tournament. So they're in the last five and we played like were in the first five."
Leading rebounder Markieff Morris fouled out. KU shot only five-of-25 from the arc. Ho-hum, bring on the tournament. Kansas is among the handful of teams that have to span that mental abyss from a regular season of accomplishment to the "real" season in March. Seventeen days ago Page scored only eight points in a 27-point blowout in Lawrence. It was easy to figure that Oklahoma State -- likely headed for a three-letter postseason -- would have more energy, more desperation this time. Kansas' effort was explainable, even tolerable, this time of year. It wasn't explainable last year when Northern Iowa upset the Jayhawks in the second round with a similar desperation.
"I don't think we were looking forward to next week by any means," Reed said. "It was a tough game. Oklahoma State came out with a lot of energy ... There are going to be games when you're not making shots and things aren't going your way and it's going to be a half-court game. That was definitely a tourney type game [on Friday]. We've got a taste for it now."
Posted on: March 7, 2011 11:13 am
Edited on: March 7, 2011 11:28 am
Pat Knight has been fired as coach at Texas Tech, the school just confirmed. Knight will coach through the Big 12 tournament this week.
The son of Bobby could not survive his second losing season in the last three years in Lubbock. Pat took over in 2007-08. His teams never made the NCAA tournament. His 2009-10 team went to the NIT quarterfinals. This season's team is 13-18 heading into Wednesday's first-round Big 12 tournament game against Missouri.
Pat succeeded his father in 2008. Bobby had gone 138-82 in six-plus seasons. He took the Red Raiders to four NCAA tournaments, the last in 2007.
Pat was almost the antithesis of his bullying father. He was humble, articulate and went out of his way to be expansive with reporters. Obviously, one of the names that will come up to replace him is former Texas A&M and Kentucky coach Billy Gillispie.
Pat's firing comes only a few days after Kirby Hocutt was hired as Texas Tech's new athletic director.
Posted on: December 30, 2010 11:46 am
Edited on: December 30, 2010 4:15 pm
Jan. 8 -- I'll never forget a crushed Mack Brown in the Rose Bowl hallway leading to the Texas lockerroom after losing to Alabama. I ask him, "Would Colt [McCoy] have made a difference?" Mack: "It wouldn't have been close."
Feb. 1 -- What's so special about Cretin-Derham Hall High in St. Paul, Minn. No. 1 recruit Seantrel Henderson? A lot. But the kid's nationally televised commitment to USC turns out to be a mockery of the system.
March 17 -- Before Butler bounces a ball in the NCAA Tournament I was there to chronicle what was then a stepping-stone job.
Also in May -- Haley Dodd graduates from high school, commits to the University of Missouri.
June 1 -- Big 12 spring meetings begin in Kansas City with all hell breaking loose.
June 3 -- Big 12 schools are so spooked by impending conference realignment that an ultimatum is issued: Declare loyalty or else. Nebraska won't commit, having been in talks with Big Ten since January.
June 9 -- Colorado announces it is joining the Pac-10.
June 11 -- Nebraska trashes Texas on the way to announcing its departure for the Big Ten in 2011. The Longhorns take their worst beating in seven years.
A portion of the remaining Big 12 have nots (Missouri, Iowa State, etc.) agree that Texas should get an increased share of conference revenue just because it's Texas. There is no Big 12 with it. The Horns spend the rest of the year establishing its own network, reportedly with ESPN for $15 million per year.
June 16 -- Troy is burned to the ground.
July 21 -- Nick Saban goes there with the p-word.
August 15 -- Haley moves into her University of Missouri dorm 30 years after her dad moved out of Columbia. Yes, a few sentimental tears were shed.
August 27 -- It's the Year of the Comeback.
September 7 -- Boise State launches itself into a season-long national conversation with a 33-30 win over Virginia Tech.
October 9 -- It's officially a national race again as defending national champ Alabama loses to South Carolina.
October 12 -- Turns out, South Carolina's win was a bigger deal than we thought. The Gamecocks become only the 45th team ever (in wire service era) to a beat a No. 1 team.
November 4 -- Story breaks of Cam Newton's dad soliciting $180,000 from Mississippi State.
November 6 -- Matt Hayes of the Sporting News and I get trapped in the LSU postgame celebration after an amazing win over Alabama. We get a behind-the-scenes look at the LSU's coach's "Lesticles."
Non-BCS story of the year: While covering that Boise-Nevada game on a bitterly cold night in Reno, a window in the press box has to be cracked so the clock crew "can hear the whistle." We're not exactly in Columbus, folks. Haven't heard a line like that since the Class 4-A state title game in 1984.
November 27 -- Miami's Randy Shannon is fired after an uninspired loss to South Florida. Jon Gruden gets his name in the search, as he always does, but in the first major hire of his career, AD Kirby Hocutt eventually picks Temple's Al Golden.
December 1 -- The best guy to talk about Kyle Brotzman's disappointment happens to be Boise resident and fan Bill Buckner.
December 5 -- Told you it was the Year of the Comeback.
December 19 -- Jack and dad enjoy the Chiefs and Rams in St. Louis during Christmas break. It's nice watching a game without a deadline to meet or a petulant coach to question. It's even better doing it with my wingman.
It was a great year. May 2011 be even better.
Tags: Alabama, Ascension Catholic School, Auburn, Baylor, BCS, Big Ten, Big Ten, Boise State, Butler, Cardinals, Chiefs, Colorado, Cretin-Derham Hall High, CYO football, ESPN, Final Four, Frozen Four, Haley Dodd, Heisman, Iowa State, Jack Dodd, Janet Dodd, Kappa Kappa Gamma, Magic Johnson, Mexico, Miami, Mississippi State, Missouri, NCAA Tournament, Nebraska, Newport Beach, North Carolina, Northern Iowa, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oregon, Oregon State, Pac-10, Padres, Rams, South Carolina, Texas, Texas, USC, Virginia Tech, Wisconsin, World Cup
Posted on: March 26, 2008 5:31 pm
The NCAA informs me (through a detailed excel sheet) that the average fouls per team in this year's tournament are not substantially different from the regular season. The excel sheet, though, only goes back to the 2003 tournament.
I'm reproducing the numbers here:
2003 regular season: 19.1 fouls per team. Tournament: 18.2
2004 regular: 19.0 fouls. Tournament: 18.3
2005 regular: 18.6 fouls. Tournament: 18.3
2006 regular: 18.4 fouls. Tournament: 17.5
2007 regular: 18.7 fouls. Tournament: 18.6
2008 regular: 18.6 fouls. Tournament to date: 18.3
There are lies, damned lies and statistics. Another way of reading those numbers is that fouls are up 4.6 percent from two years ago, and that the current average (18.3) ties for second-most since 2003.
I think the interesting thing is that tournament fouls are down compared to regular-season fouls each season. That's how I grew up watching the tournament, seeing the players express themselves instead of the officials. It just seems more constrictive this year.
Anyway, unless the zebras muck up the action here in Phoenix (West Regional) consider the case closed.