Monday, January 24, 2005

Wall-to-wall sports

What a packed weekend in sports, imagine how much more I'd have to write about if hockey was playing.

Colorado in hot water. Again.

This fell under the radar, but I'm leading off with this story because it needs to be out there. The Denver Post reported Sunday that Colorado head basketball coach
Ricardo Patton is not happy that cuts in the athletic department travel budget are undermining his players' academic performance. This from a school still reeling from football scandals involving sex as a recruiting tool and sexual harrassment of a former female player. You would think they would do anything to avoid a potential academic scandal in the basketball program given the circumstances. You would be wrong, of course, but you'd think it.
Before you get cynical and tell me "Of course something like this would happen in Colorado/college sports", know this: Patton is the anti-Gary Barnett. He generally considered one of the best all-around people coaching in the Big XII, a coach who is unwilling to take shortcuts to win a few extra games, and someone who cares about his players. And while most coaches would prefer to cover up academic woes, Patton has done the right thing and made it known to administration and fans.
That said, Patton's good deed may not go unpunished. ADs usually break off the coach whenever academic trouble comes to light, whether it's the coaches' fault or not. It may be more likely in this situation since administration was criticized for not letting Barnett go after the all the football scandals. And it would send the wrong message.

Another one bites the Dust

The number of undefeated teams was reduced to three as
Villanova beat Kansas 83-62 at the Wachovia Center Saturday, a victory only 'Nova fans and ESPN's Digger Phelps saw coming. Curtis Sumpter made the most of his national TV showcase, scoring 25 points, 15 of which came from beyond the arc, and Allen Ray did his best Ray Allen impression, scoring 27. What makes this even more interesting is that Kansas never threatened after 14:30 in the first half. Blogger "RS" made the following observation in the comments secton of Yoni Cohen's College Basketball Blog (an observation I happen to agree with):

A lot of what happened has to do with Nova..Kansas was sloppy on offense but Allen Ray and [Curtis] Sumpter didnt miss and once that started happening Kansas slumped their shoulders..i will repeat that this Kansas version will not be final four bound..those close games against average to below average teams at home are not an some point it becomes the truth.

More College Basketball Notes

  • Three potential bracket busters in the Missouri Valley go down: Southern Illinois (to Wichita State), Northern Iowa (to Bradley), and Creighton (to Illinois State).
  • The P.J. Tucker-less Texas Longhorns lost to Oklahoma and face the serious prospect of losing 2 in a row against Bobby Knight's Red Raiders Tuesday.
  • Speaking of Knight, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that he made a grand gesture to a 93-year old St. Louis college basketball fan, inviting him to Tech's game with Missouri, and posing for pictures with the man afterwards and signing autographs. (Also seen at the same game: St. Louis Cardinals' slugger Albert Pujols, who sat behind the Tech bench.)
  • Charlotte beat #25 Marquette at home. The 49ers are making a serious pitch for the NCAA tournament and could be a bracket buster.
  • Wake Forest also won a tough road game at Cincinnati. Hmm... North Carolina and Cincinnati in the same week. Nice trophies for the Deacs to hang on the wall.
  • Georgia Tech is fading fast without B. J. Elder. They dropped one to ACC newcomer Virginia Tech.
  • College Gameday's basketball debut Saturday at UConn was excellent. They managed to maintain the high-energy atmosphere of the show's football incarnation, and provide very good analysis. Even better: No guest appearances from Lee Corso. Sadly, the Huskies couldn't capitalize on the pre-game ESPN vibe, choking away a game to Pitt.

Conference Championships

  • Patriots 41, Steelers 20 - The Pats continue to impress with brilliant game planning. They knew Roethlisberger was struggling, and they went for the kill, choking off the one dimension of the Steelers' offense that was working. They continue to show signs of being on a mission to make history.
  • Eagles 27, Falcons 10 - How defensive coordinator Jim Johnson continues to roll out game plans that stop Michael Vick is anyone's guess, but he did it again Saturday. Not only that, he held the Falcons other rushing threat, Warrick Dunn, to 59 yards. As expected, the Falcons had no answer for former Villanova Wildcat(Been a pretty good weekend for 'Nova) Brian Westbrook, who had an excellent game with 135 combined yards.

So let the Super Bowl hype begin. Next week, I'll give my pick. (Keep watching!)

Take care, God bless, and R.I.P. Johnny Carson

Tomorrow: Okahoma-Oklahoma State on Big Monday

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