Tag:Gary Parrish
Posted on: December 18, 2011 9:30 pm
Edited on: December 18, 2011 9:35 pm
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Night Court: Nate Wolters did Washington



By Gary Parrish


Here’s everything you need to know about Sunday's slate of college basketball games …

Game of the night:
Seton Hall hasn't played a tough schedule. But 9-1 is still 9-1, and 9-1 is the Pirates' record after an 80-77 overtime win over Mercer that featured Herb Pope scoring 24 points and grabbing 17 rebounds. Pope has recorded a double-double in eight of 10 games this season. He's averaging 22.1 points and 11.9 rebounds per game.

Win to brag about:
I had to referee an email-fight between my colleagues Jeff Goodman and Matt Norlander this preseason because Norlander suggested Nate Wolters might be one of the top 50 players in America and Goodman suggested Norlander might be one of the top 50 idiots in America. Back and forth they went. For hours. And it nowlooks like Norlander could get the last laugh because Wolters is having a heckuva year, and he got 34 points, seven assists and zero turnovers in South Dakota State's 92-73 victory at Washington. In other words, in a game featuring former heralded recruits like Abdul Gaddy, Tony Wroten and Terrence Ross, Wolters was the best player on the court. Good for him. Good for Norlander.

Loss to hide from:
Turns out, that fight against Cincinnati cost Xavier more than just negative publicity. The suspensions that were a result of last weekend's brawl meant the Musketeers had to play Oral Roberts without three starters -- Tu Holloway, Mark Lyons and Dez Wells -- and that didn't go too well. ORU won 64-42 at the Cintas Center. So now Xavier is 8-1.

Player who deserves improper benefits:
Nate. MF'ing. Wolters. The junior guard was 10-of-20 from the field and 13-of-16 from the free throw line in that win at Washington. He's now scored at least 32 points three different times this season.

Player who does not deserve improper benefits: E.J. Singler took 11 shots and missed nine of them in Oregon's 67-54 loss to Virginia. He's 6-of-22 from the field in Oregon's last two losses -- to BYU and Virginia.

Numbers don’t lie

  • 1.41: That's how many points per possession South Dakota State scored against Washington. It's the most anybody has scored per possession against a high-major team this season.
  • 20: That's how many years it had been since Missouri started a season 11-0 before a 94-56 win over William & Mary pushed the Tigers to 11-0 this season.
  • 39: That's how many consecutive home games against non-league opponents Connecticut had won before it played Holy Cross. Which means the streak moved to 40 after Andre Drummond scored 24 points in the Huskies' 77-40 victory over the Crusaders.

Three other notable results

  1. John Shurna hit nine 3-pointers and finished with 32 points in Northwestern's 87-72 win over Eastern Illinois. The Wildcats are 10-1.
  2. Rhode Island's 68-65 loss to Yale was the Rams' second loss to an Ivy League school this season. The other was to Brown. Rhode Island is 1-10.
  3. Iowa State was pushed but avoided a bad home upset. The Cyclones beat Central Michigan 59-52 thanks to 14 points and eight rebounds from Royce White. Iowa State is 8-3.

Notes

  • Florida State's 77-61 win over Loyola Marymount pushed the Seminoles to 7-0 at home this season. They've won nine straight home games dating back to last season.
  • Nate Wolters and John Shurna weren't the only players to go for 30 on Sunday. Missouri's Michael Dixon got 30 against William & Mary.
  • The Top 25 (and one) has already been updated. Vanderbilt and Alabama dropped out. Creighton and San Diego State moved in.
On tap: There are no games scheduled between ranked opponents, but Duke, North Carolina, Kansas, Baylor, Michigan State, Florida, Marquette, Illinois, Indiana and Creighton are all in action.

Graphic via Norlander, obviously
Posted on: December 17, 2011 9:05 pm
Edited on: December 17, 2011 9:44 pm
 

Memphis lost again (but will be fine)

By Gary Parrish

MEMPHIS -- The easiest thing to do is point to last season and insist this is exactly the same.

But it's not the same.

Despite Memphis' 5-4 record and lack of number beside its name, these Tigers aren't like those Tigers because those Tigers were awful. They were 8-1 at this point last season, and that looked OK on the surface. But they had been blasted by Kansas, struggled with Miami and LSU and taken to overtime by Arkansas State and Austin Peay. Memphis never really got better and went on to finish 10-6 in Conference USA. It was a bad season. But it won't happen again.

Because this team is not that team.

So while this city is in (basketball) panic-mode after Saturday's 95-87 loss at fourth-ranked Louisville that dealt the Tigers their fourth defeat in nine games, it's worth reminding people that context matters. Memphis hasn't been pushed by the likes of Arkansas State and Austin Peay. The four losses this season are to four ranked teams -- namely No. 4 Louisville, No. 16 Georgetown, No. 20 Michigan and No. 24 Murray State -- and the Tigers were in three of those four games until the final minute.

Is that good?

No.

They need to learn how to close and win.

A team ranked 11th in the preseason shouldn't have four losses already.

But a lot of the questions that plagued last season's team aren't issues with this season's team. They're much better offensively (top 30 in offensive efficiency), and they have an obvious star in Will Barton (28 points and 16 rebounds on Saturday). That's why Memphis will get rolling once league play begins and string wins in January like John Calipari's teams used to do.

Which reminds me of the 2008-09 Memphis team.

You remember that team?

That team started 6-3 with losses to Xavier, Georgetown and Syracuse, and that team didn't look good through nine games, either. But then Tyreke Evans turned into a star and the Tigers started overwhelming overmatched opponents in Conference USA, and my guess is that this season will evolve into something similar to that season. Does that mean I'm predicting a 27-game winning streak? No. But I do believe the Tigers will win 13 or 14 C-USA games, take the league title, win the C-USA tournament at FedExForum, make the NCAA tournament and be a scary outfit on their side of the bracket in March. All the advanced statistics suggest that's likely because all the advanced statistics suggest this team is closer to the 2008-09 team that overachieved than it is to the 2010-11 team that underachieved.

Bottom line, Memphis will be fine.

I really believe that.

The 5-4 record looks bad right now, obviously.

But I bet it's still something like 26-8 on Selection Sunday.

Photo: US PRESSWIRE
Posted on: December 16, 2011 11:39 am
Edited on: December 16, 2011 12:01 pm
 

Donovan signs extension with Florida



By Gary Parrish

Florida announced Friday that Billy Donovan has signed a three-year extension that places him under contract with the school through the 2015-16 season.

"Billy Donovan has built one of the elite programs in the country at the University of Florida, he and his family have given 16 incredible years to this institution and community," said Florida athletics director Jeremy Foley. "His accomplishments speak for themselves. ... We’re thrilled that he will continue to lead our program for years to come."

As is the case with all contracts in college sports, Donovan's extension doesn't necessarily mean he'll lead Florida's program "for years to come." I mean, he probably will and I have no reason to think he won't. But if Donovan wants out he can get out at any time just like every other coach in America. Simply put, these announcements never mean what a coach or school wants you to think they mean. They're usually announced just to offset opposing schools telling recruits that a coach is leaving for this job or that job "because he doesn't even have an extended contract." That's why Donovan being extended through the 2015-16 season makes sense. Now he can tell high school seniors that he has a contract that'll keep him in Gainesville "through their senior years of college."

Anyway, this is no time to pick apart coaching contracts.

I can do that whenever.

I'd rather spend the rest of this space reminding everybody just how unbelievable Donovan has been at Florida because sometimes I think that gets overlooked. When fans talk about the sport's best coaches I usually hear names like Mike Krzyzewski, Tom Izzo, John Calipari, Bill Self and Brad Stevens, and those names all make sense. But Donovan belongs on any short list. For proof, consider this: Florida had just five NCAA tournament appearances and one SEC championship in the program’s 77-year history before Donovan arrived in 1996. Since his arrival, the Gators have made 11 NCAA tournaments, three Finals Fours and won two national championships, and they've won four SEC regular-season titles and three SEC tournament titles.

Bottom line, I don't know if Donovan will really lead Florida "for years to come."

Again, that's not necessarily what the extension means.

But I do know this: He's been damn-good leading Florida since the moment he got to campus.

Photo: US PRESSWIRE
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: December 13, 2011 3:13 pm
Edited on: December 13, 2011 3:20 pm
 

UK-IU draws 3.5 million viewers



By Gary Parrish


John Calipari spent part of last week publicly discussing the possibility of ending one of his high-profile home-and-home series -- either with Louisville, North Carolina or Indiana.

The Kentucky coach has his reasons, of course. One of them is that the SEC will move from 16 to 18 league games next year. Another is Calipari's strong desire to play more made-for-TV neutral-site games. So I get it. Honestly, I do. But I still hope all three series remain, and college basketball fans in general seem to agree because 3.5 million people watched Saturday's tilt between the Wildcats and Indiana.

That's a low number for "Jersey Shore."

But it's a massive pull for college basketball.

What Kentucky-Indiana provided was a game between two undefeated teams from two tradition-rich schools at an on-campus arena, and the importance of that last little detail can't be overstated. Take the same game -- and the same Christian Watford buzzer-beating 3-pointer that gave Indiana a victory over the top-ranked Wildcats -- and put it at Madison Square Garden, and it loses something. Because the location mattered. It provided the type of atmosphere that makes college basketball special, and it created the postgame celebration that most of us will remember forever. I like that. And it's only possible with a home-and-home series between power programs.

Truth be told, we don't have enough of those these days.

That's why it would stink to lose one of the really, really good ones.

Photo: US PRESSWIRE
Posted on: December 12, 2011 2:31 pm
Edited on: December 12, 2011 3:54 pm
 

The Poll Attacks

By Gary Parrish

Did somebody really leave Xavier off a Top 25 ballot?

Yes.

And I just used the Poll Attacks to zip him up.

Associated Press poll: You can be disgusted by the scene from Xavier-Cincinnati the other day and turned off by Tu Holloway's post-brawl comments, but the Musketeers are still a damn-good basketball team. They are 8-0 with wins over Vanderbilt, Purdue and UC. They look the part of a top-10 team and should be ranked accordingly.

Which is why it's crazy for The State's Ron Morris to have Xavier unranked.

There are lots of ways to send messages as a sports writer. You can write a column. Or blog. Or Tweet. Or go on a radio station and rant and rave about college players inciting a fight and then, with irresponsible words, basically endorsing the fight after the fact. But the AP poll is supposed to be a ranking of basketball teams without bias. It shouldn't matter what you think of John Calipari's vacated Final Fours or Jim Calhoun's probation or Jim Boeheim's misguided attack on Bernie Fine's accusers or Xavier's role in a nasty brawl. You should just rank the basketball teams as basketball teams based on some combination of expectations and results, and if you don't think Xavier is one of the best 25 teams in the sport then you're not good at looking at box scores or evaluating with your own eyes.

Again, the Musketeers are really, really good.

They belong on everybody's ballot.

Sixty-four of the 65 AP voters understand this. Xavier is in the top 10 of 55 ballots and in the top 13 of 64. The only person to leave the Musketeers unranked was Ron Morris. He made a mistake.

But Ron's not alone in the mistake-making department.

How could he be?

Fletcher Mackel of WDSU-TV in New Orleans and Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury News both voted Ohio State ninth after the Buckeyes lost at Kansas. Do you think they know Jared Sullinger didn't play? And that he's coming back? OSU is 8-1 with wins over Duke and Florida. Even if the loss at Kansas would've happened with Sullinger playing, the Buckeyes would still have one of the top-five bodies of work in the country. And beyond that, just use your brain. Does anybody really think there are eight better teams than Ohio State? Because I assure you there are not. If I'm ultimately proved wrong, I'll change my name to Fletcher Wilner. Or something like that.

Coaches poll: If you're ranked 24th you better not lose a road game to the team ranked 10th or else you will punished and dropped from the rankings altogether. That's the lesson from this week's coaches poll. And things like this are stupid every time they happen. Even if I live to be as old as Greg Oden, I'll never understand why voters vote this way.

As I've pointed out before, a team ranked 24th is, by definition, supposed to lose on the road to a team ranked 10th. And when it happens it doesn't mean the losing team doesn't deserve its No. 24 ranking. That's why we kept Harvard at No. 18 in the Top 25 (and one) after its road loss to Connecticut, and also why we kept UNLV at No. 26 after its road loss to Wisconsin. Simply put, I refuse to punish schools for losing road games they're supposed to lose (unless the outcome is really lopsided). Again, it's stupid.

If you didn't think Harvard belonged in the Top 25 last week, fine.

It's debatable.

But a road loss to a higher-ranked team with multiple pros shouldn't have been what moved the Crimson off anybody's ballot. They lost a game a team ranked where they were ranked is supposed to lose. Nothing more. Nothing less. And that result should not have cost them their first national ranking in history.

Posted on: December 12, 2011 1:19 am
Edited on: December 12, 2011 11:23 am
 

Murray State could really go undefeated

By Gary Parrish

MEMPHIS -- Back before the season started, well before Murray State had won a single game or received any votes in a Top 25 poll, Steve Prohm sat down with each of his players individually for what amounted to a question-and-answer session. He asked them all sorts of things about themselves, their teammates and the team in general. And at one point the first-year coach wondered what senior Jewuan Long expected the Racers to accomplish this year.

"I told him if we execute in every game like we're supposed to and do what we're supposed to do, there's no team on that schedule we can't beat," Long said. "[I told him] I wouldn't be surprised at all [if we go undefeated in the regular season]."

And Prohm's response?

"He just went on to the next question," Long answered with a smile.

But there's no way for Prohm to avoid the undefeated conversation now, is there?

Murray State built a double-digit lead in the first half, squandered it, then built another and held off a late Memphis rally Sunday to beat the 21st-ranked Tigers 76-72 here at FedExForum. So the Racers are 10-0, ranked 24th in the CBSSports.com Top 25 (and one) and -- just as Long kinda predicted months ago -- well on their way to becoming the first Division I men's basketball team to enter the NCAA tournament undefeated since UNLV did it in 1991.

And that's not hyperbole.

It really could happen because the Racers are really good. And because they play in the Ohio Valley Conference. Which means their toughest games are in their rearview mirror. For proof, consider that -- barring injury, academic casualty or suspension -- Murray State figures to be favored in every game it plays the rest of this regular season. That doesn't mean the Racers will win every game, of course. Favorites lose all the time. (You saw Kentucky on Saturday, right?) But the fact remains that when Murray State takes the court the rest of the way -- both for home games and away games -- the Racers will be expected to win those 40-minutes of scheduled basketball, and there's not another team in the country that we can say that about.

Not bad for a rookie coach of a team picked third in the preseason OVC poll, huh?

"Life is good," Prohm replied when asked what he would've said in the preseason if somebody told him he'd be, on a Sunday night in December, 10-0 and coming off a win over a Memphis team that was ranked ninth in the preseason coaches poll.  Which means, right now, life is good for the man who was promoted to head coach last May when Billy Kennedy left for Texas A&M.

"It's a huge win but we've got to keep everything in perspective," Prohm said. "It's still just 10 games."

But, again, it's the toughest set of 10 the Racers will play. They already own wins over three Conference USA schools (Memphis, UAB and Southern Miss) in addition to a 17-point victory over the Dayton team that just beat 16th-ranked Alabama by 12 points. Yes, Murray State still has two games against preseason OVC favorite Austin Peay, which just won at Tennessee. But there's not a game left on the schedule that'll present anything close to the kind of challenge Memphis and its home crowd and all those athletes presented Sunday.

And Murray State handled that well.

The Racers almost led from start to finish.

They were up 11 with less than two minutes remaining.

It was a defining win for the school, the team and the coach.

"But this can't be the pinnacle," Prohm said. "We want a lot more."

21 more, to be exact.

That's how many more games Murray State will play before Selection Sunday.

And every one of them seems very winnable.
Posted on: December 11, 2011 10:04 pm
 

Updated Top 25 (and one)

By Gary Parrish and Jeff Goodman

The Top 25 (and one) will be updated on the college basketball page shortly.

Here's how it will look:
  1. Syracuse (10-0)
  2. Ohio State (8-1)
  3. Kentucky (8-1)
  4. North Carolina (8-2)
  5. Duke (9-1)
  6. Baylor (7-0)
  7. Louisville (9-0)
  8. Florida (7-2)
  9. Missouri (9-0)
  10. Xavier (8-0)
  11. Connecticut (8-1)
  12. Kansas (7-2)
  13. Marquette (9-0)
  14. Georgetown (8-1)
  15. Pittsburgh (9-1)
  16. Vanderbilt (6-3)
  17. Wisconsin (8-2)
  18. Harvard (9-1)
  19. Mississippi State (9-1)
  20. Illinois (10-0)
  21. Michigan (7-2)
  22. Michigan State (8-2)
  23. Indiana (9-0)
  24. Murray State (10-0)
  25. Alabama (8-2)
  26. UNLV (9-2)

IN: Indiana, Murray State

OUT: Creighton, Gonzaga

Posted on: December 10, 2011 7:07 pm
Edited on: December 10, 2011 7:18 pm
 

Nice win for KU ... but it needs context

By Gary Parrish

The weekend's marquee game became something less Saturday when college basketball fans learned the CBSSports.com Preseason National Player of the Year would not participate because of back spasms. You wanted to see Jared Sullinger vs. Thomas Robinson. I wanted to see Jared Sullinger vs. Thomas Robinson. Instead we got Evan Ravenel vs. Thomason Robinson. And, with all due respect to Ohio State's backup big, that's just not the same.

So 14th-ranked Kansas beat No. 2 Ohio State 78-67.

Consequently, the Buckeyes have been eliminated from the group of undefeated schools.

But what does it really mean?

Honestly, nothing.

It doesn't mean Ohio State isn't the team that beat No. 12 Florida early and routed No. 7 Duke two weeks ago, and it doesn't mean we should reconsider what we think we know about the Buckeyes. They're still awesome. They're still the best team in the Big Ten. They just need their dominant big to, you know, get healthy, and that will presumably happen in time. Then OSU will get back to pounding people. I promise.

As for Kansas, again, good win.

Seriously, it was nice.

But I do sort of feel bad for the Jayhawks because they were in a bit of a no-win situation once it was clear Sullinger wouldn't play. Win and who cares? Lose and it's a bad loss at Allen Fieldhouse. Knowing Bill Self, I'm confident he wanted Sullinger on the court, confident he wanted to see Thad Matta's team at its best. But it didn't happen. So it is what it is. And what it is is a double-digit victory for a KU team that entered the season with lots of question marks but is slowly erasing them one by one.

Photo: AP

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com