Posted on: December 21, 2010 4:03 pm
Edited on: December 21, 2010 4:23 pm
Posted by Matt Norlander
4:09 p.m: Mississippi State has now suspended Renardo Sidney in the wake of an incident at a practice yesterday. Funny how these things take shape, isn't it? Will link to the school's official response once it becomes available.
The following was the post that ran shortly before the school announced the suspension.
It's important in most cases not get too caught up with the Twitter page of a collegiate athlete, but because we're dealing with Mississippi State's Renardo Sidney, I think his tweets from this afternoon are worth bringing to your attention. Here's a smattering from within the past few hours:
"It's 6 over here and I can't sleep got alot of stuff on my mind and that's not good :/ wondering if this what I really want to do????"
"@ The_Kip_Wilson aye dude u going to far with ya tweets if u go say sum say positive things I dnt want to go off on u real talk"
"@ GaustinG aye f*** u dude u dnt kno what u talking about get the f*** off my page"
"If u go to Mississippi state and I dnt kno u dnt hit my page up and u dnt kno what u talking about cuz it can get real ugly in Starkville..."
"For your info I didn't quit no team it's just a rumor!!"
"All smiles right now :)!"
Well, I'd say he covered the emotional gamut, wouldn't you? This snowballed a bit because the first quoted tweet was clearly a mystery wrapped in a riddle, one many a Bulldog fan wouldn't be faulted for interpreting as Sidney openly pondering his future with the program.
He's saying that's not the case, so let's believe and leave that at face value for now. Still, although a lot of what we write about and cover are young men (with emotional swings; all part of the growing process), it's always a little unsettling to see players lash out at pesky, trouble-making followers as they make vague references to violence, should the parties ever meet. (See: the fourth tweet above.)
By the way, this is all a sensitive topic due to Sidney's history of, you know, not playing.
In case you need a reset on Sidney, in a nutshell: The NCAA didn't let him play for Mississippi State last season after it was deemed his family received improper benefits (this took nearly the entire season to determine). It was believed by some he'd never attend school after the verdict, instead opting to enter the NBA Draft. However, questions existed about his work ethic and weight, so back to Starkville he went, soon tweeting about his plans for the 2011 Draft. His punishment from the NCAA extended through this season's first nine games, and the power forward finally played his first game in an MSU uniform Saturday, scoring 12 points, grabbing three rebounds, committing four turnovers and fouling out in 25 minutes of play in an 88-57 MSU loss to Virginia Tech.
There's a ways to go for Sidney, who will need some time to become the feared factor on the court many expect him to be. Off of it, it's better if he keeps as low a profile as possible and take the fingers off the phone keypad, lest he bring more drama to his and his team's situation.
You can follow Norlander on Twitter: @CHJournal
Posted on: December 21, 2010 1:47 pm
Edited on: December 21, 2010 1:49 pm
Posted by Matt Norlander
Few are talking about these sets of dogs, the ones who howl from the Pacific Northwest. While UConn's Huskies have streaked to an 8-0 start to their season, Washington's canines are somehow listed a full 30 slots better in the latest KenPom.com rankings.
Interesting, certainly. After all, UConn defeated Michigan State and Kentucky: two teams Washington failed to beat in this very same 2010-11 season. (All the teams were part of the Maui Invitational in mid-November.) So what can we make of Lorenzo Romar's club, which returns most players from last year, when the Huskies made the Sweet 16?
First off, it's perhaps with good reason that UW has skated along and not been part of much conversation, as the Pac-10 remains impressively mediocre, while Mountain West resident San Diego State is rightfully receiving a lot of attention so far. But even Gonzaga, which is just 6-5 and probably going to need to win the West Coast Conference to earn an NCAA bid, has gotten plenty of chatter on its behalf; the Zags' ambitious-as-always schedule plays into that, of course. BYU has also been on the map plenty, not losing a game until UCLA knocked it off Saturday.
Yet Washington, 7-3, is unranked in both sets of polls and largely anonymous this year. That's likely to continue if the Pac-10 doesn't enable at least three teams to have legitimate resumes. By season's end, which system will be proven correct, Ken Pomeroy's or the polls? The rankings now are a snapshot of the season to date; there is little-to-no foresight taken into account in either system. But let's try to see how good, bad or just plain average Washington will be.
What is clear to see: Washington hasn't beaten any of the quality teams it's played. The Huskies have the 43rd-ranked non-conference schedule, and their three losses came against UK, MSU and Texas A&M — all teams ranked in the AP Top 25. But those three Ls did come by an average margin of 4.3 points. Washington was in every game and had a chance to knock off each team. Only it didn't. Those three games really help elevate UW's strength-of-schedule and RPI numbers.
Witness: The Dawgs' best win is against Virginia, which needed a last-second layup to fend off 1-8 Norfolk State last night. The combined record of the opponents UW's beaten is 41-37, with an average KenPom.com ranking of 169, which falls in the bottom half of teams in D-I. The tempo-free power numbers look great — UW is top-21 in the country in effective field goal percentage, not turning the ball over and grabbing offensive rebounds at a high rate — but are they a bit inflated right now because of that competition, which Washington primarily faced at home (A&M is the only true road game to date)? I think so. Washington has turned over bad ball-handling teams at a high rate — that has not been a calling card of Romar's teams, largely.
All injuries considered, and UW is enduring another one, and the fact this team has played this well is a good sign. Guard Isaiah Thomas is a little too erratic and brash for my taste, but he has a knack for hitting big shots from time to time. But beyond Thomas' hopefully clutch play and Matthew Bryan-Amaning's (pictured above) presence on the glass, look to sophomores Justin Holliday and Abdul Gaddy moving forward. The guards have been very efficient against lower-level players. If their play continues to be fruitful, UW will likely be convincing poll voters in short time it is for real.
The double dip on the road New Year's Eve weekend will be a temperature gauge of sorts, too. Washington travels south to play the L.A. schools. If the Huskies really are a top-10 team in the country, as the ratings suggest, they should win both of those games. The Trojans and Bruins have more combined flaws than your sister-in-law has New Year's resolutions.
Posted on: December 21, 2010 9:30 am
Edited on: December 21, 2010 9:41 am
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 )
Posted on: December 21, 2010 8:35 am
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 )
Posted on: December 20, 2010 10:22 pm
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.
Posted on: December 20, 2010 4:10 pm
Edited on: December 20, 2010 4:13 pm
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
Posted on: December 20, 2010 1:50 pm
Edited on: December 20, 2010 3:00 pm
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.
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?
Posted on: December 20, 2010 11:11 am
Edited on: December 20, 2010 4:27 pm
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 savekyriestoe.com — 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.