Sports 56 WHBlog Q

March 31, 2009

Calipari to Kentucky: The Fallout

Filed under: Uncategorized — Peter Edmiston @ 11:15 pm

I am writing this at the end of an incredibly hectic day – it was crazy enough for those of us following from the outside; I can only imagine what it must have been like at the center of the storm.  At the end of the day, though (literally), John Calipari decided to say goodbye to Memphis and hello to Lexington.  He is the new head coach of the Kentucky Wildcats.

He had said all along that should a job like Kentucky come along, it would be very difficult to pass up.  Kentucky overlooked him two years ago (AD Mitch Barnhart has reportedly told Cal tonight “I listened to the wrong people.”), but they weren’t going to overlook him again.  He fits every characteristic Kentucky would want in a basketball coach: he’s an incredible recruiter, he loves the spotlight, is a great PR guy for a program, and he wins..a lot.  Kentucky would have been foolish to look anywhere else.

I hope Memphis fans will understand – I would hate to see a wonderful relationship end with bitterness and acrimony all around.  What John Calipari did for the Memphis program cannot be overstated.  Despite losing so many players and recruits, the Memphis program itself is in a far better position now than it was nine years ago.  Funding has increased, attendance is way up, facilities are improved, FedExForum is an amazing home arena…all of these things have happened in the past nine years.  They won’t disappear overnight.  Memphis succeeded before Cal, and they will succeed after Cal.  It will take time.  But it will happen.

It is hard to begrudge John Calipari his shot at Kentucky.  There are only a handful of programs in college sports that can rival Kentucky’s tradition and success.  There’s not a brighter spotlight in the sport.  It was getting to the point in Cal’s career where if he was going to make a move, now was the time.  In the copious hours of programming on radio and TV about this situation, I have already heard fans expressing anger and betrayal at Calipari.  I hope that’s not indicative of the attitude generally.  He had an incredibly difficult decision, and it showed.  Clearly he was torn beyond belief about what he should do.  That he chose Kentucky does not diminish what he did for Memphis.  I hope fans will bear that in mind.

Adding John Calipari to Kentucky adds an incalculable amount of fuel to the UK/Louisville rivalry, and enlivens the already feisty UK/UT matchup.  It raises the SEC’s profile, something badly needed after such a terrible conference season.  It will give John Calipari the chance to prove he can do it in a major conference, something he still has to prove.  It makes sense.  It makes too much sense not to happen.

As for Memphis, word is their first choice, Mike Anderson, has negotiated an improved deal at Missouri and will stay there.  Who is the next choice?  Tim Floyd?  Sean Miller?  Tony Barbee?  We may find some answers tomorrow when R.C. Johnson meets the media, though I doubt it.  This is a critical decision, because the next coach will have a huge rebuilding job on his hands; he will need time and patience to see it through.

We’ll have more coverage all day on Sports 56 WHBQ.

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March 30, 2009

Tournament Thoughts-Regional Recap

Filed under: Uncategorized — Eli Savoie @ 11:18 pm

The Regional rounds of the NCAA Tournament didn’t produce the drama that we like to see, but it did include some great individual and team performances and some surprises. My bracket fell apart over the weekend and I only ended up with one of my Final Four teams actually making it to Detroit. The only good part of it is that it is North Carolina which I picked to win it all.

Best/Worst of the Regionals
Best Team Performance: Missouri over Memphis-The Tigers put up 102 points against a Memphis defense that was one of the best in the country. Mizzou did almost everything right offensively in this game including making a 65-foot shot at the end of the first half. It was simply a terrific performance by Missouri.

Worst Team Performance: Louisville losing to Michigan State-The Cardinals put up 103 points in their semifinal win against Arizona, but come back with half that in a loss to the Spartans. The most shocking thing about this wasn’t that Louisville flopped because I’ve said all year that they have this capability despite their great talent, but what surprised me was that the one guy I thought could always be counted on, Terrence Williams, was awful(5 pts, 1-7 FG). This was a very disappointing performance by the tournament’s overall #1 seed.

Best Individual Performance: His team didn’t advance to the Final Four, but Oklahoma’s Blake Griffin showed why he is going to be the #1 pick in the NBA Draft and why he is considered the best player in the country. Griffin went for 30 pts and 14 rebs in the semifinal win over Syracuse and then followed that up with a 23 pt, 16 reb performance in his much hyped battle with Tyler Hansbrough in the regional final won by North Carolina. Having sat courtside for both of the performances I can tell you just how dominant Griffin was. I knew he was a great player, but after seeing him in person, I can say he’s much better than I thought. I would love to see him in a Grizzlies uniform next year. He is big, strong, athletic, smooth, smart and has some of the best footwork I’ve ever seen on a big man. He should be a great player at the NBA level.
I do want to add an honorable mention to Ty Lawson of North Carolina who was also unbelievable here in Memphis and deserves the recognition.

Best Game: Villanova 78 Pitt 76-No question on this one. It was the game of the tournament so far and one of the best I’ve seen in a while. The two teams went back and forth over and over in the second half and then it was won with a great drive by Scottie Reynolds with 0.5 seconds left. A terrific game and a terrific performance by Villanova.

Worst Game: Louisville 103 Arizona 64-This one is easy, a total dismantling that you don’t expect to see in the Sweet 16 round.

Tracking the major conferences: Big East 17-5, Big 12 11-6, Big 10 8-6, ACC 7-6, Pac 10 6-6, SEC 1-3

The Vegas Perspective:
Favorites are 32-28 so far in the tournament with 15 straight up wins by underdogs.

The over is 34-26

The linesmakers continue to be right on in the tournament with 42 of the 60 games finishing within 10 points of the line while the over/under lines have not been nearly as good.

Breakdown of line vs actual outcome
0-5 points: 28
6-10: 14
11-15: 8
16+: 10

Over/under line vs actual total
0-5 points: 16
6-10: 13
11-15: 12
16+:19

Other nuggets on the tournament and college hoops:
In the North Carolina-Oklahoma game on Sunday, the Sooners did not make one shot outside of the paint until 5 minutes remained in the game. 35 minutes without a single field goal outside the paint? I don’t think I’ve ever seen that before. They finished with two field goals outside of the paint.

If Michigan State and North Carolina win their Final Four games, we will get a rematch of an early season game that was actually played at Ford Field and was dominated by North Carolina in a 98-63 win. Let’s hope if they do matchup again, the Spartans keep it a little closer the second time around.

I learned this weekend that Ole Miss Freshman guard Terrico White is gathering information on his NBA Draft stock. White is concerned that with all of the injured players the Rebels have returning, his touches will go down and his stock could go down. It looks as if he will at the very least throw his name in to test the waters and if he thinks he’ll be a first round pick, he will go.

Finally, it looks as if John Calipari is leaving Memphis for Kentucky. This has been talked about all day today, and looks like it is just about a done deal at this time. I think this is a huge loss for the Tiger program and I’m not sure if anyone they can hire can come in and keep this program on the level Calipari has it, but if I was R.C. Johnson, my first call to find a replacement would be to Andy Kennedy at Ole Miss. Kennedy is a hell of a coach and the legal issue from this year is blown way out of proportion. I also think Kennedy would be willing to take the job and he already recruits heavily in this area with Ole Miss.

March 28, 2009

Arizona Loves Calipari

Filed under: Uncategorized — Greg Gaston @ 12:43 am

Greetings from the Valley of the Sun, Phoenix Arizona. We are wrapping up our coverage of the Tigers in the NCAA Tournament and are heading back to M-Town Saturday Morning. I know there’s plenty of talk about Coach Cal and the possibility of some interest from the Kentucky Wildcats after Friday’s dismissal of Coach Billy Gillispie. As I have always said Cal is going staying put. R.C. Johnson is working on finding more money and an extended contract for the Tigers Coach. It’s not that he needs the moola, but raises are ways of showing coaches they are appreciated.

As I ate dinner Friday night I spoke with several Arizona fans. Yes, technically Phoenix is Arizona State country, but let’s be honest, with Tucson two hours away, this is Zona country as well. In fact, the Wildcats have a broader fan base and a much better history. Anyway, these fans went goo-goo over Calipari. In fact they were giddy whenever they said his name. They tell me that Cal is high on the Arizona wish list and they want Assistant Josh Pastner back as well.

To be honest this is a great area of the country, but it’s not for John. He’s not that much into Golf, and the only Italians out here are buried somewhere in the desert. (Just kidding, I’m Italian too). Arizona will land a top tier coach, and sooner than later they will be back in an NCAA Title game. It just won’t be Cal. It’s nice to be wanted and John Calipari is more wanted than Bonnie and Clyde were some 80 years ago. Only this type of wanted is the good one.

Thank you Arizona for your hospitality, your weather, your cactus and that giant UFO called University of Phoenix Stadium. Unfortunately Tigers fans won’t let you have their coach, but there’s always Slick Rick to fall back on.

March 27, 2009

Glendale, Day 2 (Missouri 102 Memphis 91)

Filed under: Uncategorized — Peter Edmiston @ 1:20 am

Look at that score.  Incredible performance from Missouri – their energy level was constant and really extraordinary.  It was the kind of showing that epitomizes what Mike Anderson teams are supposed to look like.  The 65-footer from Marcus Denmon summed it all up…it was just Missouri’s night.  It’s not often you see an impeccably-defended 65 foot shot go in without touching rim.  Missouri wanted it so badly and they played like warriors tonight.  Memphis simply could not match their intensity for 40 minutes.  J. T. Tiller was unstoppable – as good as Tyreke Evans was on offense, he (nor anyone else) could not keep Tiller from getting to the basket and scoring.  Before dissecting what went wrong for Memphis, fans should take a cue from the Tiger players and coaches and tip their hats to Missouri for a fine effort.

Now, for the breakdown.  The fact is that, by his own admission, Shawn Taggart was a “no-show” for the first half.  He told me that in the locker room after the game.  I applaud his honesty and I cannot disagree with his assessment of his performance.  Had he played in the first half like he did in the second, the Tigers might have pulled this one out.  He didn’t.  And that’s why you saw him with tears in his eyes on the bench after he fouled out.  He said that this loss was actually harder for him to take than last year’s national championship game.  He said they had played their hearts out last year, but this year was a bit different.

Antonio Anderson, in his final game as a Tiger, did not play particularly well until the end of the game; it was not unlike the Northridge game except for the outcome.  Robert Dozier lacked a bit of intensity to start, but rebounded to give a tremendous effort, particularly on the glass.  The seniors can be proud of the way the ended their careers.

The less said about Doneal Mack, the better.  Mack said that he got taken out of the game mentally.  It’s not the first time, unfortunately.  Mack is a great guy, but I just don’t know if you can ever truly count on him in the clutch.

Tyreke Evans was phenomenal.  He got to the basket at will – anytime he wanted to score, he could and did.  He finished with 33 points and was perfect from the free throw line.  He will be missed – he got better and better as the season progressed, and he was truly a leader on the court.  He had to move into an unfamiliar role and he eventually made it his own – but in this game, he needed more help from his teammates.

We can try to be philosophical about it, and wonder whether or not a tougher conference schedule would have better prepared this team for the incredible challenge they faced in Missouri.  We can wonder why this team had so much trouble playing with full intensity for 40 minutes.  We can question how deep this team truly was, considering how shallow the rotation was in this game. We can talk about the officials and how much of an impact they played.

But the fact is that Missouri was simply better.  They were the better team for 40 minutes.  They took a Memphis team ranked in the top 10 in virtually every defensive statistic and shredded them.  They scored 40 points more than the average team has scored against Memphis.  Memphis gave up 100+ points for the first time since 2000, when another Mike Anderson team (UAB) did it in John Calipari’s first season.  Missouri earned it.  They were great.

Now, the questions come.  We’ll talk about them soon enough.

Thanks to our great sponsors Ark Roofing, Acura of Memphis, and Central BBQ for all their support throughout the Tiger tournament coverage.

March 25, 2009

Glendale, Day 1

Filed under: Uncategorized — Peter Edmiston @ 7:03 pm

Writing this from beautiful Glendale, Arizona…not too bad at all.

I just got back to my hotel after the practice and interview sessions over at the University of Phoenix Stadium.  Impressions follow:

University of Phoenix Stadium:

Awesome.  Really, really awesome.  As big as Reliant Stadium last year (and bigger than the Alamodome), but an entirely different feel.  It feels a bit more intimate and smaller on the inside – perhaps that’s because the normal capacity for football is only 63,000 as opposed to 70,000+ in Reliant.  Regardless, it’s bright and open…hard for a stadium as big as it is to feel somewhat intimate, but it does.

In case you’re curious, the court is NOT on an elevated stage the way it was last year in Houston.  It’s much more like the setup in San Antonio, with the court on one end of the field and bleachers sitting in the middle of the field.  The capacity is around 35-40,000 for basketball, but there’s no way they’re getting that many tomorrow night.  More on that later.  Judging by the shooting I saw from all the teams I watched, it’s not a bad court to shoot on – certainly better than Houston was last year.  Last year, Houston’s setup was a tough one for teams to get adjusted to.  This is better.

The fans:

Nonexistent.  Well, that’s an exaggeration, but not much of one.  It’s a tough economic time for everyone, and it has clearly affected the average fan’s ability to go to these games.  All four of these teams are a long, long way from Glendale, and plane tickets and hotels are not cheap.  My understanding is that Memphis will have around 1100 or so fans here by game time tomorrow, UConn has actually returned some of their 1250-seat allotment, and the other two teams will have roughly their allotment here.  Locally, they’ve sold around 18,000 to Arizonians (is that the right way to say it?), so I think we’re looking at no more than 25,000 tomorrow night.  That will look sparse in such a big arena.  It sucks for the local organizers that the NCAA couldn’t throw them a bone with the teams in the West Region, but they’re just going to have to deal with it.

Missouri:

Now, to the basketball.  Mike Anderson talked about his team’s growth from the beginning of this season until now, and was amazed at what they’ve done.  Consider that they were picked to finish 7th in the Big 12 this season, and they won the thing.  Consider they were a team full of guys who had never won a tournament game, and now they’re in the Sweet 16.  Consider that Mike Anderson was on the hot seat in November, and now Missouri fans are nervous about whether or not they can keep him.  Quite a difference.

The Missouri players appeared rather loose and excited to be a part of things, as you would expect.  They’ve come a lot farther than anyone would have expected, and they feel like they’re playing with house money.  Missouri has a tremendous bench, and they’re not afraid to go 10 deep if the need arises.  To me, the X-factor is how the players respond to the increased pressure of playing in such a huge game.  Memphis is full of players who have enormous tournament experience, while Missouri has virtually none apart from Mike Anderson.  If Missouri shrinks in the spotlight, they will not win – but no one truly expects that to happen.  They are a hard-working, blue-collar team who feels disrespected and is playing with the proverbial chip on their shoulder.  They will be a tough out for Memphis.

Memphis:

Exactly as you would expect.  The Tigers were loose as could be.  I watched the open practice session intently; normally, these things are more or less just a loose shootaround that doesn’t matter, but in this case, I wanted to see how the players, particularly the shooters, would adjust to the University of Phoenix Stadium.  The results were a mixed bag – Roburt Sallie looked very sharp; he looked very much like he was picking up right where he left off in Kansas City.  Tyreke Evans hit a lot of outside shots, and he looked and sounded very comfortable with the whole experience.  Doneal Mack, though, was a little hit or miss – and some of the misses were a bit rough.  That being said, I recall that the shootaround last year in Houston looked like a brick factory, and the Tigers hammered both their opponents.  So you never know exactly how things are going to play out.

With their experience, the Tigers will always be unfazed by this kind of event.  The looser they are, the better they play.  They are expecting a physical battle from Missouri – a lot of bumping, a lot of banging, and a lot of running.  If anyone gives less than 100% effort on defense, John Calipari will take them out so fast it will blow their mind.

Jim Calhoun:

While we are focused on Memphis/Missouri, there’s no question the national focus is squarely on Jim Calhoun.  You can hear the full audio of his press conference on the front page of sports56whbq.com – listen for how much rambling he does.  He sounded truly shaken by what has happened over the last 24 hours.  Not that I can blame him – the Yahoo! Sports report by Dan Wetzel and Adrian Wojnarowski is well-sourced and potentially a hammer blow to his program.  He addressed the controversy with an opening statement that went on for over two and a half minutes, then answered a number of questions.  To his credit, he was not condescending or argumentative, but neither was he particularly revealing.  He was seated (as all press conference attendees are) at a table on a stage.  The table has a blue skirt that is somewhat transparent at the sides, and from where I was sitting, I could see Calhoun’s left leg franctically moving up and down throughout the press conference.  He was clearly troubled by the situation.

Predictions:

Memphis and Missouri will play an exciting, fun game that could well be the best of the Sweet 16.  A lot of tempo, a lot of energy, and a lot of defense.  If Memphis can stick with an aggressive gameplan – break the press at pace, look to penetrate into the gaps in Missouri’s halfcourt defense the way Marquette did, and keep their composure against Missouri’s pressure, they will win.  Memphis is the more talented team.  But Missouri will not be easy to beat…if Carroll and Lyons can dominate inside and get the Tigers into some frontcourt foul trouble, that will be a problem.  How the referees call the game will be crucial.  Hopefully, it will not be a tightly called game, but if it is, whichever team is slowest to respond will be in trouble; remember how the Tigers struggled to adjust against Northridge.  Regardless, as good as Missouri is and as great a season as they have had, they will not beat Memphis tomorrow.

In the other matchup, I truly think UConn is much more talented than Purdue.  Purdue is going to be a tough team to beat because of their determined defense and shooting ability, but UConn is on such a roll, they will win the game.

Special Thanks:

I want to thank our incredible sponsors who help make this coverage happen – Ark Roofing, the most trusted name in Mid-South roofing, has come on board and I thank them for that. Amazing people, easy to deal with, and they’ve been around for a long, long time.  Central BBQ is THE place for Tiger fans who aren’t here to congregate – Craig, his beautiful wife, their awesome staff…they put together a great atmosphere at both the Central and the Summer location.  Go there tomorrow night to watch the game.  Just do it.  Finally, Acura of Memphis – although I couldn’t drive the TL out here the way I did to Kansas City, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t hop over to 385 & Ridgeway to see Greg Hapke and the guys over there – March Madness savings in effect!  Check it out!  Thanks to those great sponsors – if you appreciate our extensive coverage, please consider supporting them.

March 23, 2009

Tournament Thoughts-Round 2 Recap

Filed under: Uncategorized — Eli Savoie @ 3:33 pm

Round two of the tournament was fantastic as the higher seeded teams showed their dominance with only Arizona advancing to the Sweet 16 as worse than a five seed. There were some great finishes and some great performances all over the place.

Best/Worst of Round 2
Best Team Performance: Memphis-The Tigers came out and completely dominated Maryland. They could have won this game by 30 if they wanted, but they took it easy in the second half. When the Tigers shoot well from the perimeter they are very tough to beat and Saturday they were red hot from all over and Maryland paid the price. Greivis Vasquez may want to rethink what he had to say about the Tigers.

Worst Team Performance: Texas A&M-The Aggies at no point were even close to competitive with Connecticut. A & M looked good in round one, but did absolutely nothing in round two.

Best Individual Performance: Cole Aldrich, Kansas-No question whatsoever on this one as Aldrich posted the first NCAA Tournament triple-double since 2003 with 13 points, 20 rebounds and 10 blocks against Dayton. Aldrich is playing exceptional basketball and, along with Sherron Collins, has Kansas looking good.

Worst Game: Villanova 89 UCLA 69-Had some high hopes for this one because I thought it would be a competitive game, but it was never close. Villanova, playing in Philadelphia, jumped on the Bruins early and never looked back.

Tracking the major conferences: Big East (11-2) Big 12 (9-3) Pac 1o (6-5) Big 10 (6-5) ACC (5-5) SEC (1-3). No question as to which conference is the best as the Big East gets a record five teams into the Sweet 16.

How it’s playing out in Vegas
Favorites 25-23, 11 underdogs have won outright

The over is 28-20

The lines makers have been very good on the games so far with 36 of the 48 games finishing within 10 points of the line.

Here is the breakdown.Line vs actual outcome
0-5 points: 22
6-10 points: 14
11-15 points: 5
16+ points: 7

Meanwhile, on the totals they are not quite as good but still pretty solid with just over half the games finishing within 10 points of the line.

Over/under line vs actual total
0-5 points: 14
6-10 points: 11
11-15 points: 10
16+ points: 13

That’s a wrap on round two. I’m really excited about this Sweet 16 with all the power programs we have left. The regional here in Memphis should be great with great teams and NBA talent on every roster. I can’t wait to go to those games Friday and Sunday. Enjoy the games and don’t forget you can watch the games online by clicking on the March Madness on Demand link to the right.

March 21, 2009

Kansas City, Day 4 (Tigers 89 Terrapins 70)

Filed under: Uncategorized — Peter Edmiston @ 6:31 pm

What a difference two days can make.  What an amazing turnaround in level of performance.

The Tigers utterly dismantled Maryland here in Kansas City this afternoon with an extraordinary display of offense, particularly in the first half.  They shot over 70% in the first half, and shot better from behind the arc than inside it.  Maryland was completely powerless to stop the onslaught from outside – the Terrapins played exceptionally poor defense throughout the game, which helped the Tigers get open looks and easy baskets.

It is very difficult to put in words how much better Doneal Mack was today than Thursday.  He was absolutely sensational shooting the basketball, and he played energetic and tough perimeter defense.  Mack missed a layup, then missed a three early in the game, and you could be forgiven for thinking that this was a case of same ol’ Mack.  But he didn’t drop his head, didn’t lose confidence, and proceeded to make 5 of his next 7 threes.  He was rightly proud of what he had done – remember back to the summer when Mack almost transferred to New Orleans?  He thought he should have been playing more – I asked him and John Calipari about that time, and Calipari’s comments were telling: “You should have been getting playing time in front of who?  Derrick Rose?  Chris Douglas? Antonio Anderson?” Mack came to his senses and came back, and instead of being a star at New Orleans and watching the NCAA Tournament from his dorm room, he’s a starter for a team in the Sweet 16.  Good decision.

Greivis Vasquez is probably wishing he hadn’t said what he said.  Vasquez didn’t have a terrible game, but he was largely inconsequential.  For the heart and soul of the Maryland team to be inconsequential shows you what a nice job Antonio Anderson and the rest of the Tigers did defensively.  Without an electric Vasquez, Maryland is little better than average.  They were below average today.  I was shocked that Gary Williams tried to show some man-to-man at the beginning of the game, but when Tyreke Evans was abusing Vasquez and threatening to get him in foul trouble, Williams went to the zone.  It didn’t matter.  The Tigers weren’t going to be stopped regardless of the defense.

The really encouraging thing you can take from this game is that the Tigers handled the press very well.  That’s been a concern for some time – how would they handle the press in a big game situation? – but they acquitted themselves well today.  Should Missouri advance to Phoenix, the Tigers will have not only seen an aggressive press in the tournament, but will know they can handle it.  They got several easy layups (and one alley-oop) off the Maryland press.  Good sign for the rest of the tournament.

Another good sign is that it appears Tyreke Evans is ready to play at the top of his game for the rest of the tournament.  He looked a bit nervous and tentative against Northridge, but stepped it up in a big way against Maryland.  He played with speed and without fear, and when he’s in that mode, he is tough to stop.  He ran the offense well, distributed it where it needed to go, and kept the standing still to a minimum.  He needs to play at a high rate of speed all the time; he’s much better when he does.

There was a funny moment at the end of the game when the Tiger fans started chanting “A-C-C” as time was winding down, which led to the Maryland fans (and the many Kansas fans who were in attendance) starting the “Rock, Chalk, Jayhawk” chant.  I guess the best Maryland fans can do is take a shot at a team that lost in the National Championship game.  You lash out in times of stress.

Tiger fans should know that tickets will be distributed on the normal basis – platinum and gold donors get 4 tickets each, the rest get 2 apiece.  The allocation is 1,250 and tickets are $167 each (they are good for both sessions).  Get them online at www.gotigersgo.com/tickets as soon as you can; they will go fast.

I’ll be flying out to Phoenix on Tuesday – I’ll have all the interviews and coverage you have come to expect as the Tigers prepare for another Sweet 16 appearance.

Continued thanks to Acura of Memphis and Central BBQ for their support – we could not do this without them.  A reminder – Acura of Memphis is celebrating March Madness with a special sale – check out their site and you could save a huge amount of money on a fabulous car.

Ive been driving this beauty in KC - get yours soon!

I've been driving this beauty in KC - get yours soon!

March 20, 2009

Kansas City, Day 3

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — Peter Edmiston @ 4:02 pm

Just back from the Sprint Center…

It’s Memphis and Maryland tomorrow for the ticket to Phoenix.  I had a chance to talk with a lot of players and coaches, and you will be able to listen to those interviews on the front page of sports56whbq.com very soon.  It’s certainly a huge step up in opposition, both from a quality standpoint and from an awareness standpoint.  A lot of people know a lot more about Maryland than CSUN.  It’s going to be completely different tomorrow.

From the Tiger locker room…

It’s easy to say, but I think the players have truly put yesterday’s poor performance behind them.  Kind of a gut feeling on my part, but I think it’s fair to say.  Antonio Anderson seemed ready to take the mantle of dealing with Greivis Vasquez – he gave Vasquez a ton of credit, as did John Calipari, but said that he would be up to the task of handling him.  Vasquez is the kind of player the Tigers don’t see much; honestly, no one sees that type of player much.  There can’t be too many guys in college basketball who lead their teams in points, rebounds, assists, and steals per game.  Robert Dozier was in good spirits as well, noting that the first and second rounds are always tougher than people think.  He would know.  I also talked extensively with Doneal Mack, and I think you’ll enjoy the conversation.  Mack is one of my favorite Tigers to talk with because he always gives thoughtful answers and seems to enjoy talking about his team.  While he was concerned about his performance yesterday, he said he was still confident and ready to play.

Mack will start tomorrow, as normal, despite Roburt Sallie’s career day yesterday.

From the Maryland locker room…

Greivis Vasquez is a confident dude.  He is energetic, charismatic, and above all else, confident.  And he’s not afraid to say it out loud.  He took a shot at Conference USA, saying that he wasn’t sure about the Tigers because they play in a “questionable” conference.  He doesn’t know much about Memphis other than the fact that he respects Tyreke Evans and he thinks Antonio Anderson is a “good driver”.  That was pretty much it.  He confirmed what we all know – Maryland will zone Memphis up quite a bit.  I would encourage you to listen to his interview session on the website to get a full feel for this unique star.

Prediction…

At the end of the day, I think Memphis is going to play a hell of a lot better tomorrow.  Memphis ought to be able to attack the Maryland zone through aggressive driving and slashing, and that’s something John Calipari worked on with his team quite a bit today at practice.  They will have an edge in size and length on the inside, and they should be able to get a lot of offensive boards against the Terps.   Clearly stopping Vasquez is priority number one on defense, and that task will fall primarily to Antonio Anderson, but Doneal Mack and Tyreke Evans will help out on him too.  Vasquez is a little hot-headed at times, and can pick up fouls.  The Tigers need to attack him and try to get him in fould trouble as soon as they can – Maryland is much less dangerous without him.  It will be competitive, but Memphis is going to survive and advance.

Thanks again to our great sponsors Acura of Memphis and Central BBQ – we could not do it without them.

Tournament Thoughts-Day 1 recap

Filed under: Uncategorized — Eli Savoie @ 10:28 am

Day one of the tournament is always a great day regardless of the games, but as far as day one goes, yesterday was a very bland day. There were only a few upsets(four lower seeds won, a #9, two #10s and a #12) and none of them were shockers, and we only had one really good finish, as UCLA and VCU went to the buzzer. Not sure if that means that we’ll see more of the status quo today or if that means that today will be an absolutely crazy day. I’m just hoping for some closer games and a little more drama.

The nickname trends from early in the day yesterday did not hold up last night as after going 0-2 early, Bulldogs finally got a win with Gonzaga and after going 2-0 early, Tigers took their first loss with Clemson.

Speaking of Gonzaga, does anyone else think their center, Josh Heytvelt, looks a lot like Dustin Diamond, who played Screech on “Saved by the Bell”?

Best/worst of day 1:
Best Team Performance: Washington-Really looked good in handling a Mississippi State team that came in hot and many people thought the Bullies would pull the upset. Washington was having none of that.

Worst Team Performance: Clemson-Yeah I know they rallied late and had a chance to tie the game at the end, but in the end it’s another quick exit by a Clemson team that always seems to win a bunch of games early in the season to create high expectations and then loses a lot down the strech before crashing and burning in the tournament. The Tigers have to prove they can actually perform on the big stage before I ever pick them to win a tournament game again.

Best Individual Performance: Roburt Sallie, Memphis-Sallie bailed the Tigers out against upset minded Northridge with an unbelievable performance. With Tyreke Evans in foul trouble and the Tigers sleep walking through much of the game, Sallie came off the bench to hit 10 three-pointers and score 35 points(2 more than he had scored in his last nine games combined and 22 more than his previous career high). Sallie went 10 of 15 from three-point range while his teammates combined to go 1 of 13 and his 35 points were the most points ever scored by a Tiger in an NCAA Tournament game, who woulda thunk it?

Best Game: UCLA 65 VCU 64-The only game of the day to come down to a last second shot as VCU missed an opportunity for the upset at the buzzer. had to wait till the very end of the day to finally get some good drama.

Worst Game: UConn 103 Chattanooga 47-There were other blowouts and bad games, but not only was this game a blowout from the start as often happens in the 1-16 matchups, it also served as a reminder that instead of seeing Stephen Curry and Davidson in the tourney again, the Southern Conference gave us the Mocs.

Tracking the power conferences after one day: Big 12 (3-0) Big East (2-0) ACC (3-1) Pac 10 (2-1) Big 10 (2-2) SEC (1-1)

Every year I like to track betting trends and lines to see how things play out in Vegas during the tournament. Here are some notes from yesterday:

Favorites went 7-9 on the day and of the nine dogs that covered, four won the game straight up.

The over went 10-6 on the day.

How good were the linesmakers yesterday?
Here’s how the games broke down as for actual outcome compared to the betting line on the game. For example, if the line is Team A -8 and they win by 4, that is four point difference.

Betting Line vs Actual Outcome
Within 0-5 points: 5
6-10 points: 6
11-15 points: 2
16+ points 3

So that’s a pretty good performance by the linesmakers with 11 of the 16 games having lines within 10 points of the actual outcome.

As for the over/under totals, the linesmakers were not quite as good when you compare the line to the actual total.

Game over/under line vs Actual Total
Within 0-5 points: 4
6-10 points: 3
11-15 points: 3
16+ points: 6

So on the total, the majority of games were more than 10 points off and the biggest category was the over 16 points.

March 19, 2009

Tournament did you know

Filed under: Uncategorized — Eli Savoie @ 7:45 pm

Most popular nicknames in this year’s field:
Tigers-4 (Memphis, Missouri, Clemson, LSU)

Eagles-4 (Boston College, Marquette, American, Morehead State)

Bulldogs-3 (Butler, Gonzaga, Mississippi State)

Wildcats-2 (Arizona, Villanova)

Huskies-2 (Connecticut, Washington)

Aggies-2 (Texas A&M, Utah State)

Vikings-2 (Portland State, Cleveland State)

Panthers-2 (Pitt, Northern Iowa)

Most represented states in the field:
Ohio-5 (Akron, Xavier, Ohio St, Dayton, Cleveland St)

Pennsylvania-4 (Pitt, Villanova, Temple, Robert Morris)

Tennessee-4 (Memphis, Tennessee, Chattanooga, East Tennessee St)

California-4 (UCLA, USC, Cal, Northridge)

New York-4 (Binghampton, Sienna, Syracuse, Cornell)

Kentucky-3 (Louisville, Western Kentucky, Morehead St)

Utah-3 (Utah, Utah St, BYU)

North Carolina-3 (UNC, Duke, Wake Forest)

Texas-3 (Texas, Stephen F Austin, Texas A&M)

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