Posted on: December 21, 2010 9:30 am
Edited on: December 21, 2010 9:41 am

Pitino makes light of all the concussion talk

Posted by Matt Norlander

How about this: The comments Rick Pitino made about concussions is the dumbest thing he's been associated with in a long, long time.

Yes, dumber than the Karen Sypher mess.

Speaking about serious head injuries as if they were the in vogue medical ailment of the modern era — think ADD and ADHD's rise in the past decade — Pitino pontificated in a postgame presser about how we're all just a little too trigger-happy to diagnose our athletes with these silly concussions.

"It's the 17th concussion we've had this year," Pitino condescendingly told reporters a few days ago. (Was that supposed to be a shot at the team trainer?)

After Louisville defeated Gardner-Webb 78-49 Saturday afternoon, the Louisville coach was in good spirits and bantering with the press. (This just days after not being like that , at all, following the Cardinals' loss to Drexel.) Hey, maybe it was the comfort of landing the job coaching the Puerto Rico national team; maybe it was something else. Either way, Pitino got ignorant on us in a quick moment when he challenged old-school, incorrect thinking re: the potential dangers of concussions.

Fast-forward to the 2:45 mark to hear his comments — or the 2:35 mark, if you'd like to hear him make a Kenny Loggins joke. Yes, anything was fair game for Pitino on this night. He certainly did go into a ... danger zone ... on this topic.

"I've been coaching now 35 years. I've seen maybe five concussions in 35 years," he said. "The new thing is everybody has a concussion. If you walk out and slightly brush the door, you have a concussion. That's the way it is today. Everybody has a concussion today. [Elijah Justice] had concussion. [Pitino laughs, followed by inaudible question from reporter]. Yes, barring the fact if he doesn't walk into the door at Benardi Hall and get another concussion."

You can tell Pitino was just waiting for that question about Elijah Justice's head condition. To make light of it sends a terrible message, one that, if I was a parent, would be a huge turn-off if Pitino happened to be recruiting my son. In football, where the issue has reached the daily mainstream conversation, more and more people are becoming educated on the subject and embracing all precaution that must be taken following a thwack or thump to the dome.

But in basketball, it seems some have ways to go. The NCAA has a two-page check-off sheet of sorts to help coaches with identifying concussions, but this is clearly not enough. The sport could be more susceptible to negligence in this regard because coaches and players haven't had this issue (ironically) beaten into their heads enough yet.

They'll get there eventually, though. Comments like Pitino's only show the process as slower than we'd hope for it to be.

(H/T, ESPN CBB Nation )

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: December 21, 2010 8:35 am

The Layup Line Coach K ties Dean Smith's record

Coach K Posted by Matt Norlander

Your humble author is thrilled this morning. The Bears are back in the playoffs for just the fifth time since 1994. Really, really excited to have a chance to lose a home postseason game in the next few weeks. Now, on to the links.

• Of all the states that've benefited from AAU ball, is Rhode Island near the top of the list?

• Here's an incredibly offensive column on Geno Auriemma and women's basketball. Parrish should attack this guy just for the fun of it.

• The Big Ten is doing the right thing and taking submissions for its new logo. A massive mea culpa, the conference could come out looking rosy if the redesigns after the redesigns meet critical appeal.

• Want to know what was said about the weekend in hoops? Beyond the Arc is always on top of it.

• Were it not for this gig, I could've been in Montana right now.

Good column, but in no way to "UConn fans have a passion usually reserved for the fever swamps of SEC football."

• The Mikan Drill does a great job of breaking down the end of Jacksonville-Florida.

• After it was all but presumed to be done, Rick Bozich broke the news yesterday: Rick Pitino will coach the Puerto Rico national team. I can't say those words enough.

• You may have heard: Coach K and Dean Smith are currently deadlocked in all-time wins. The News & Observer has a great rundown of the two's careers.

• Hope this isn't too serious for Quincy Miller. Baylor's going to need him next season.

• Next year, look out: We're coming for you, Yahoo!

• The Layup Line isn't just for college hoops links, though it will always be dominated as such. Case in point: Brett McMurphy did some good numbers-digging for his investigative report on BCS schools, their drug policies and how punishments are(n't) handed out.

• Tennessee's athletic department is dealing with more trouble, this time in regard to football players getting the VIP treatment at a local bar.

•  Derrick Williams throws it down after taking a spin around. (H/T, BIAH )

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: December 20, 2010 10:22 pm

Two fans sink half-court shots at 'Nova contest

Posted by Matt Norlander

There are three easy ways to keep fans engaged during halftime of a basketball game: creative cheerleading poses, T-shirt guns and half-court shots for money.

Below, thanks to Deadspin, we've got video of two Villanova fans racing the clock and hitting four shots that earn them $1,000 in ... well, a Series EE Bond, according to tipsters. Still, it's remarkably exciting theater. The first guy is all smooth, sinking his 47-footer to a rousing ovation. Then the second guy completely shows him up and adds drama to the spectacle, as he doesn't technically get his last shot off before time runs out, yet still his prayer is answered. He was evidently rewarded, too, despite heaving the rock too late.

Hey, it's entirely more exciting than the Wildcats' win over Delaware, which came to a 78-59 final Saturday evening.

One small morsel of advice for the folks in charge of setting up these contests in the future: make the prizes worth the contestants' while. An oversized check is almost always a no-brainer, too.
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: December 20, 2010 4:10 pm
Edited on: December 20, 2010 4:13 pm

Florida continues its inconsistent streak

Posted by Matt Norlander

Sneaky game took place down in Gainesville this afternoon, as newly ranked No. 20 Florida took on the Dolphins from Jacksonville.

I couldn't blame you for forgetting about the game, or simply not caring that it was taking place. After all, it was a 1 p.m. tip on a Monday. (Scheduling conflicts with the women's team caused this to occur.)

But what's this? A 71-68 overtime loss for the Gators? Just the latest confusing result for Billy Donovan's program, which hasn't shown signs of being a legitimate, consistent group in the SEC or on a national scale since the Gators cut down the nets following their second straight national title in 2007. No reason why Florida won't recover rather quickly, but with the talent on this year's team, it really has no business losing games like this. Need I remind you this loss came at home, in the Stephen C. O'Connell Center, where UF was a 97 percent favorite to take down the Fins.

What we have here is the definition of a letdown game. A trap game. Whatever you'd like to call it, Florida fits the definition. After the Gators took seven minutes to score on Kansas State Saturday afternoon, they rallied and took the legs out from underneath the Wildcats, rolling to a 57-44 victory. It was a really, really nice win, even if K-State has questions of its own that linger.

But the good feelings couldn't last. I'm writing this post as the post-mortems on the game are still being scribbled down in Gainesville. We're waiting on response from Donovan, because explanations are needed after losing to a 7-3 Jacksonville team that doesn't have one win against a team rated in the KenPom top 200.

Wonder what practice and prep for 2-8 Radford will be like. That game is 51 hours away.

Florida falls to 8-3 with this loss, which will certainly hurt its power-rating numbers down the road. Could this cost UF a seed line come March? Absolutely. Florida's other two Ls have come to yet-to-lose clubs Ohio State and Central Florida.

Photo: Getty Images

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: December 20, 2010 1:50 pm
Edited on: December 20, 2010 3:00 pm

As always, Auriemma pulling the right strings

Posted by Matt Norlander

What better way to get people to talk about UConn basketball on such a historic night than to make it about him, his team, his game? After all, it has always been about him, in some regard. (That is not an across-the-board knock, for the record.) The 88-game winning streak isn't enough. Sorry, but it just isn't; too many people couldn't care less about women's basketball. So, to take the conversation to another level, some personal insult and frustration had to be injected. Some things needed to be removed from his chest.

I have to give credit to the crafty Geno Auriemma, who's coached the Huskies for the past quarter-century and become as much a face, if not more so, of women's college basketball than Pat Summitt, the Tennessee trailblazer that came before him. After top-ranked UConn breezed by No. 10 Ohio State Sunday afternoon, 81-50, in front of the largest women's basketball crowd in Madison Square Garden history, Auriemma went on a rant that will go down as one of his best.

What better time to deliver this than now, at the apex of attention, the streak now one game away from passing UCLA's 88 mark in the men's game? None better. Here's what Auriemma said to a room full of reporters at MSG yesterday.

"I know there would not be this many people in this [press] room if we were chasing a women's record," Auriemma said after the game. "The reason why everyone is having a heart attack the last four or five days is a bunch of women are threatening to break a men's record, and everyone is up in arms about it. All the women are happy as hell and can't wait to come in and ask questions. All the men who love women's basketball are excited, and all the miserable bastards who follow men's basketball and don't want us to break the record are all here because they are pissed. So that's the way it is.

"If we were breaking a women's record, everybody would go: 'Aren't those girls nice.' Just give them two paragraphs in USA Today or give them one line on the bottom of ESPN, and let's send them back where they belong in the kitchen. But because we are breaking a men's record, we have a lot of people paying attention."

As an aside: Who's up in arms about the UConn women breaking the record set by the UCLA men in 1974? If anything, most people are insisting we properly package each streak in its own, separate category. They are two different sports, entirely. Yes, comparisons are inevitable, and Auriemma needs to accept that, but I haven't seen much chagrining about this record falling. That's primarily the case because most are cognizant of the differences in the sport.

But I have to hand to Auriemma, who's an incredibly smart man. He touched on this during a Q&A with Time last week, then harped on it even more yesterday. He's on the money when he says this would be a little blurb in most national outlets if a women's 88-game streak was being broken. It's just our sports culture. American society, in comparison with the attention men's sports receives, doesn't have the desire in following women's sports. I'm pretty certain Auriemma is all too aware of and OK with that.

In order to maximize exposure, he was going to have to deliver a soundbite, and boy don't we know how he's capable of that. As he's gotten older, it seems we get at least one noteworthy clip per season. So in his diatribe, Auriemma opens up a greater, over-arcing conversation. In doing so, ironically, the comparisons between this team John Wooden's become more amplified.

But at the very least, it's more noise surrounding the women's game, which is always only good news for Auriemma and his Huskies. We're talking about it today, aren't we? If the coach doesn't lash out, how many blog posts or columns on the subject bubble up?

Photo: AP.

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: December 20, 2010 11:11 am
Edited on: December 20, 2010 4:27 pm

The story behind saving Kyrie Irving's toe

Posted by Matt Norlander

Nothing like a positive brigade to get the week going in the right direction.

The vision was simple, and it came immediately, according to Brandon Curl, one of the six people involved with launching — a support site for the most publicly cared for appendage in the country.

"Andrew Humphries and myself came up with the idea for Save Kyrie's (Toe) on Wednesday, Dec. 15, while chatting over the Internet," Curl said (Humphries attends Stanford; Curl is a grad student at Texas). "We wanted to do something in support of Kyrie in the style of the Product Red and the ONE campaigns that fellow Duke fans could get behind."

The Duke freshman phenom tweeted about it as soon as he saw the video below.

"We all sent the link out to a few friends, mainly Duke alumni, and within 30 minutes Kyrie had already seen the video and tweeted about it," Curl said. "We were all astounded by how quickly this movement spread."

Humphries, Samantha Carreon and Curl are all former Duke students. And while Curl wrote the script for the video above with Joshua Glick last Wednesday night, friend Erik Stark began putting code together for the website.

Are you thinking what I'm thinking? Can't you picture how it all went down: "The Social Network 2," baby! OK. Not exactly. But by the next morning, Carreon got the shirts made in time for the filming of the mock commercial, which was taped Thursday night. Curl, Stark, Carreon, Glick and friend Adrienne Edwards are featured in the video, which went live on YouTube Friday morning. The website was launched at 3 p.m. that afternoon, coinciding with the Twitter and Facebook pages, which are now mandatory Web customs.

"Social media, specifically Twitter was primarily how the movement spread, which is so apropos of this Duke team," Curl said. "The team has wholeheartedly embraced social media. Duke Blue Planet develops videos filmed by the players themselves and the players are frequent tweeters, especially Nolan and Kyrie. We couldn't imagine a Save Kyrie's (Toe) movement without Twitter being involved."

As for the shirts seen in the video tribute, the team of five is working on getting as many made as possible and sending them to Durham for home games in the near future. How cool would it be if the Crazies, by and large, started donning these dreads in droves?

"Most likely we'll have the shirts available online, and we've spoken with members of Duke University Improv (DUI) about distributing the shirts on campus when students return for the spring semester," Curl said.

What made this idea such a no-brainer for Curl and Humphries was the fact both were part of the Duke University Improv comedy troupe when they were undergrads. What's more, Humphries was actually the subject of several stories in the summer of 2004 after penning an e-mail to Mike Krzyzewski, pleading him to stay on at Duke in the midst of public contract negotiations with the L.A. Lakers.

"As members of DUI, we frequently worked with Duke basketball players to film funny videos shown on campus," Curl said. "In 2007, I made a video (that's Curl doing the voiceover) with DUI featuring Jon Scheyer that was featured by Luke Winn on his blog."

Since the two graduated, the comedy troupe has helped with "Countdown to Craziness" and filmed several videos with the team, according to Curl.

"We are intensely jealous of this partnership, as we are still, and have always been, huge Duke fans. So even though we are no longer students, we follow the team religiously and jumped at the chance to contribute in any way," Curl said.

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: December 20, 2010 9:00 am
Edited on: December 20, 2010 9:07 am

The Layup Line Your morning linkage post

Some New Zealand-hued holiday cheer to start the week. It's customary in the blog world to give and receive links. We like to share; it's healthy for all parties involved. So every Monday through Friday morning during the season, you can stop by here and expect direction and navigation all over the college hoops-flavored part of the Internet. If you've read College Hoops Journal , then you know what this is about. It's good to get out, stretch the legs and prep for the day by throwing in link after link. As for the photo ... well, why not? Love me some Conchords.

• How can we not have our first link be to somebody in house? Parrish's Top 25 (and one) for ya.
• In an effort to get his team fired up for a game against Monmouth, Mike Rice made references to ancient Greece .
• When you think of the six best leapers in the game, are these the names that pop to mind?
• A few days old, but how can I not link to a story wherein the head coach of a women's squad was driving the team bus — that got stuck on the highway overnight .
• You have to wonder if Geno Auriemma read this piece at some point over the weekend before making his headline-making comments at the Garden yesterday. (We'll have something on all that this afternoon.)
• Tom Brennan was fantastic at ESPN, is a radio vet, so Sirius's XM Radio's new college hoops show should be a success.
• The unveiling of the ACC vault brought much fanfare late last week. Did you know it came to because of a Denver-based company ?
• Matt Howard can be feast or famine for the Bulldogs.
• Iona played Syracuse close Saturday afternoon. The meeting between the two teams prompted Orange Fizz to reminisce about the certain kind of crazy that Deshuan Williams (who played for both schools) was.
• You quote Pearl Jam in your post title, the odds of getting linked in the Layup Line go up 423 percent. On Illinois' bad, bad, bad loss to Illinois-Chicago Saturday .
• You quote 'The Wire,' the odds of getting linked in the Layup Line go up 274 percent.
• Yep, here come the comparisons to that OSU team that reached the title game in 2007. It's perfectly fine to do so, by the wya.
• Jeff Goodman gets Renardo Sidney on the phone after his debut finally happens for Mississippi State.
• What's one reason why Boston College is having a sneaky-good start to the season? More reliability at 3 , according to BC Interruption.
• Why Rick Pitino working with the Puero Rico national team is such a good idea .

And finally, and nice little pass here by Kendall Marshall allows everyone to pick on Larry Drew II, who is clearly incapable of such magicianry.

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: December 20, 2010 1:05 am
Edited on: December 20, 2010 1:15 am

The blog is tipped ...

Posted by Matt Norlander

… and here we are.

This is the introductory post. The one you get out of the way. The one with the get-to-know-yous and formalities. It’s like being a 7-year-old and getting dragged to church on Christmas morning before getting back home and plopping in front of the presents.

I’m just the first one to the party, so thanks for stopping by now that the lights have been turned on. Don’t worry, we’ve developed a posse here at, and soon enough you’ll see the bylines of Matt Jones (of Kentucky Sports Radio fame), Eric Angevine (a founding father of the college hoops blogging genre at Storming the Floor ) and some man with quite the ‘do they call “Parrish.” You may have heard of him; he’s kind of a big deal ‘round these parts. Additionally, there’s a yet-to-be-named fifth member of the blogging stable still to be brought on payroll, but once he’s in tow, we’ll let you know.

This corner of the Internet is now CBS Sports’ national college basketball presence. Specifically, this is the blog sector. We know the name’s not great, but we’ve got a new one—and a new, shinier look—for the blog coming soon enough. In such a regard, consider this a soft cosmetic opening.

What’s the mission statement? Uh, how about we make college basketball as fun as humanly possible for you? That sound like a deal? We’ll lean on the players and coaches from time to time in order to deliver on that promise, but know we’ve now got the manpower to make good on our goals.

You can expect everything from on-site reporting to Gary Parrish’s critically acclaimed Poll Attacks to regularly scheduled features from all of us that will range in scope, topic, geography and length. We’ll not hesitate to give love to the mid-majors who earn our respect. There will be opinionated posts from each member of our team, and we’ll have stat-driven analysis for the numbers-hungry that stalk the Intertubes. There will be bubbles. And bracket projections, courtesy of Jerry Palm,’s resident RPI and bracket guru.

We’ll be driving and flying all over the country to give you scoops and stories on games from an at-the-venue perspective, offering genuine, behind-the-scenes video (should our Droids and iPhones comply). And when we’re not there, we’re everywhere, scouring the Internet to bring you links galore, serving up more reasons to keep your browser tabs open than any other hoops blog out there.

Basically: If it’s happening and of relevance in the world of college basketball, you’re going to see it discussed, addressed and argued on this blog. And as for the stories and trends that hover under the surface—we’ll bring them above ground and tell you about them.

We’ve got some fine, respectable, talented, established competition that’s already blazed some trails. The challenge and pleasure is all ours to forge new ones and make this is as fun as possible. Because it’s college basketball, and no sport is more fun than ours. I’m at the controls all this week, and then Angevine and Jones will join me next week as we prepare to head into the teeth of the season.

Glad to meet you. Now let’s get going.

Matt Norlander also runs and operates College Hoops Journal . You can follow him on Twitter: @CHJournal .

Category: NCAAB
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or