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Archive for the ‘NCAA Basketball’ Category

Get Your Tin Foil Hats Out Because…

Posted by Matt on March 30, 2009


It must be admitted that I have very few links to support any of my quotes (I’ll add video clips/links as soon as possible) or any of my theories…get your scorecards ready, folks…

11:45AM UPDATE: Here is an ESPN link with an Andy Katz-on-Mike and Mike in the Morning video along with a Jay Bilas-on-Mike and Mike audio link supporting some of the statements below:

-The ESPN Machine

ESPN’s Colin Cowherd mentioned on his radio show that Memphis isn’t with the likes of UK, UNC, UCLA, and that the job in Lexington is a “top five” position. Colin mentioned John Calipari “has to take the Kentucky job” and that Lexington is a “beautiful city,” among other things.  Andy Katz has added that he thinks Coach Cal is coming to Kentucky, that this move “changes the face of SEC basketball,” and that the hire would automatically make the Wildcats a team to play for again among the other top programs.  I have also heard Jay Bilas (“I would go there in a heartbeat if I were John Calipari”) and Doug Gottlieb (“Kentucky is KENTUCKY”) being on the Cal-to-Kentucky bandwagon.  So what am I getting at?

ESPN has a gozillion dollar SEC basketball television contract starting next season and for a network that the Cat fanatics normally decry as being overwhelmingly “against” Kentucky, all of the talking heads have quickly started playing a new tune despite most saying just days ago that Kentucky didn’t give Billy Clyde Gillispie a fair shake at life in Lexington.  This after claiming the Kentucky crazies “ran” Tubby” out of town two years ago.  A change of tune indeed. (2:15PM Update: ESPN’s home page now has this article –front and center — to go along with the Coach Cal speculation,  Maybe the tune at ESPN hasn’t completely changed, at least on the hit-or-miss “Page 2”.)

Could the ESPN machine be thinking ratings if they can continue to hype John Calipari as the new head honcho of Kentucky basketball?  Is ESPN trying to get back in to the good graces of Big Blue Nation with the SEC deal on the horizon?  Just keep in mind that ESPN is, ultimately, a business…that’s all I’m asking.

-Coach Calipari Is Playing His Cards

I’ve heard a small buzz about John Calipari’s historical use of the tease to get more money out of his current employer.  Many Cats fans lurking around the message boards are overlooking this minor detail and some are eving saying Calipari heading north is a “done deal.”  What I somewhat suspect and eternally fear is that Coach Cal is flirting with Kentucky to receive a hefty pay raise from Memphis.

It wouldn’t be unprecedented and should be less than unexpected if it does, in fact, go down.

-Benedict Arnold Is Mettling In Kentucky Affairs

Kentucky lurkers thought it was a forgone conclusion that Billy Donovan was heading to Lexington back then and some “sources” even reported an Eddie Munster resignation just last Friday.   However, it was rumored that Rick Pitino advised Billy Donovan to pass on the Kentucky job two years ago and head for higher ground — ground that ended up being Orlando and then Gainseville again.   Most of the The Faithful think Pitino feared Donovan heading to Kentucky and one-upping his former boss (Donovan was an assistant under Ricky P. during the Kentucky glory days), some suspect that’s why Pitino “advised” his former underling to turn down the nation’s winningest program, and even a few even suggest it has happened yet again.

Coach Pitino also suggested that Arkansas’ John Pelphrey and Oklahoma State’s Travis Ford, both of who were players at Kentucky under Pitino, would be sure-fire hires in his (not-so-) humble opinion (  While I like Coach Ford and feel he’s done well at Campbellsville, Eastern Kentucky, Massachusetts, and Oklahoma State, some also feel he doesn’t have the experience necessary to right the Big Blue Ship despite having the Kentucky ties and having the familiarity with the fanatical Cats fans.  Ditto that for Coach Pelphrey with an even less-impressive track record (no offense intended, but he missed postseason play in a “down” SEC this year with a losing conference record and a losing overall record).

Is Pitino trying to flex his muscle just enough to remain King of the Bluegrass?  Could he fear a head-to-head and in-state rivalry with the likes of John Calipari (one which may already exist, if only in some people’s eyes)?

Only the man in the white suit has those answers.


It should be noted that I enjoyed seeing Louisville lose yesterday and have now said for more than one year that Rick Pitino is looking increasingly sickly on the sidelines. I am having more and more people confirm my observations as he looked utterly exhausted after yesterday’s loss.

I would also like to add that on this very site (in a comments thread) I had this to say about the nation’s number one #1 seed:

“Lewisveele only beat Kensucky by 3 on a luck last second shot by Edgar ‘Don’t Call Me Sammy’ Sosa.

They’re overrated and they’ll under perform in the tourney according to ‘expert’ expectations like they have every year except their lone Final Four year under Benedict Arnold. They didn’t even play one of the upper half of the hardest Big East schedules.”


Posted in Kentucky Wildcats, NCAA Basketball | Comments Off on Get Your Tin Foil Hats Out Because…

With Billy Gillispie Out… Big Blue Nation Wonders “Who’s Next?”

Posted by Condo on March 28, 2009

Billy Gillespie is gone, what next?

After two turbulent seasons, Billy Gillispie is gone from the Big Blue Nation. What's next for the 'Cats?

By now (unless you are living under a rock) you’ve heard the news that Billy Gillispie was fired as the head coach at the University of Kentucky yesterday afternoon.

Kentucky Athletic Director Mitch Barnhart said that it really had little to do with wins and losses (although Kentucky did tie for the second most losses this season in school history) and had more to do with the fact that he was not the ‘ambassador to the university that they would like the head coach at the University of Kentucky to be.’

Having said that, Kentucky is now in the market for a new head coach and as a member of “The Nasty Boys” that has been absent for more than a year at this point… I figured this was as good of a time as any to bring myself back to the blogging world with a Top 5 list of candidates that I think the “Big Blue Nation” should consider.

One other thing I’d like to add before jumping into my list is that regardless of who Kentucky hires as their next basketball coach.. so long as Patrick Patterson & Jodie Meeks come back next season and the new coach can keep Daniel Orton committed to Kentucky, they “should” be at least a Sweet 16 team in my opinion next year if not better.

Having said that, lets be honest here, I don’t think  Billy Donovan nor John Calipari, or even Tom Izzo, are going leaving their posts to come to Kentucky, so they will not be on my Top 5 list.  But let’s start with number one on my list…

1.   Jay Wright (Villanova Head Coach, Bucknell ’83)

Most people don’t believe he would leave Villanova for Kentucky after many believe he privately rebuffed UK two seasons ago, but now may be as good of a time as ever for him to leave.  He’s on the verge of a Final 4 at Villanova this season and is still relatively young in the coaching ranks (48 years old this year).  But he’s probably going to lose a lot of his core to this seasons’ team (Scottie Reynolds, Dante Cunningham) and if he is not going to leave for an NBA job, UK is about as close to NBA type pressure as it will get.

Wright’s been to 4 Sweet 16’s in the last 5 seasons at Nova and has recruited to Philadelphia awfully well, which many UK fans want to hear.  He is also probably one of the most personable coaches in America and is very charasmatic, which I believe Kentucky needs more than anything with their next hire.

The only thing tying him to Nova’ right now is the fact that he was an assistant there under Villanova great Rollie Massimino, but the opportunity to leave the rugged Big East for the SEC may be another thing that lures him in.

All and all, I think Wright would be a fantastic hire for the Cats.  But if he turns them down, lets move on to #2 on my list…

2. Rick Barnes (Texas Head Coach, Lenoir-Ryhne ’77)

Another name that most don’t believe would leave his place at Texas for UK after he was also believed to have privately rebuffed UK, but obviously the situations are a bit different now.  Barnes was coming off of a second round NCAA loss to USC and had a strong core in place at the time to make a Final 4 (not including Kevin Durant).  The next year with D.J. Augustin the Horns’ made the Elite 8 before bowing out to Memphis and this season lost in Round 2 to Duke.

Again, like Wright, he’s likely going to lose some key players to graduation or the NBA in Damian James, AJ Abrams, and company and if he’s going to leave, now is as good a time as any from that standpoint.  Again, like Wright, he has a wonderful personality and would be a great ‘ambassador’ that Barnhart says he is looking for, so I’m sure he will get another call.

The sticking point with Barnes is that his teams tend to lack the ‘killer instinct’ for one thing and I personally don’t believe his recruiting has been as strong lately as it has been in the past.  A second thing that stands out is that he’s been around the block a bit having been at George Mason, Providence, and Clemson before settling at Texas in 1998.  So he may see Texas the place he plans to spend the rest of his career.  So we will move on to #3 on the list…

3. Thad Matta (Ohio State Head Coach, Butler ’90)

From Hoopeston, IL, this man has basketball in his blood and is very young at age 41.  He’s a relentless recruiter as evident by the talent he’s been bringing into Ohio State over the past few seasons with Greg Oden, Mike Conley, Evan Turner, and others.  And he’s also seems to be a pretty likeable and personable guy who would represent the university well.

He’s shown that he has been known to be a bit of a ‘job jumper’ as his first job was at his alma-mater, Butler, where he spent only 1 season before moving on to Xavier for 3 seasons, and then to Ohio State for where he has been the past 5 seasons.

One thing that worries me with Matta is whether he is a great coach and great recruiter?  Or is he just a great recruiter and an ‘ok’ coach?  I tend to lean towards the second answer myself, but his last 2 seasons he has had very young teams in Columbus, so maybe it’s just the growing pains of starting freshmen & sophomores.

Either way, given the talent that UK ‘should’ be able to get on a yearly basis if he were to be coach, he would be a good fit.  The question is does he want to leave a place where football is king for a place where basketball rules the landscape?  On to #4 on the list…

4. Mike Anderson (Missouri Head Coach, Tulsa ’82)

Anderson is a bit of a wild card name getting toseed around thanks to the run he is experiencing with Mizzou in his third season on the job.  The team is on to the Elite 8 and will face UConn in a chance to take Mizzou to their first Final 4.  A lot of UK fans will remember Mike from his time at UAB where he took down #1 overall seed Kentucky in the second round of the NCAAs in 2004.

Anderson was a long time assistant to Nolan Richardson at Arkansas and I believe would love to get back to the SEC if he could seeing as how he grew up in SEC Country (Birmingham, AL).  His style of play is very similar to Pitino ball with what many has dubbed “Controlled Chaos” where they press for 40 minutes and try to lure you into a track meet.

The question with Anderson is really a matter of if he can recruit well enough for UK?  At Missouri and UAB, he’s never landed any ‘major’ recruits and he reminds me an awful lot of Tubby Smith.  I’m not so sure Barnhart is going to want to hire a guy similar to that which many people wanted out when he left for Minnesota.

This leads me to #5 on my list and the man I ultimately believe will end up with the job…

5. Travis Ford (Oklahoma Sate Head Coach, Kentucky ’94)

He’s young (39), he’s entergetic, he understands Kentucky basketball probably better than anyone else Kentucky is looking at for the job seeing as how he played under Pitino in the early 90s, and this is his dream job.  I am not so sure that any of the above names on my list can say that Kentucky is truly their ‘dream job’.  I believe Travis can say that.

He brings a style of play that is very similar to Pitino’s and would be welcomed by the UK fan base, not to mention that he is very charismatic and would certainly represent the university well.

The downside is that he doesn’t have much NCAA Tournament experience as he’s only been to the tournament twice (once with Eastern Kentucky, and then again this season with Oklahoma State), and he’s certainly not Kentucky’s #1 choice.

Then again, when UK hired Pitino after the whole ordeal with Eddie Sutton, I don’t think he was the #1 choice either, so maybe this would work.

Regardless of the fact that he’s not been a head coach at a major program but for just one season at Oklahoma State, he did a helluva job with the situation he was put in and almost led them to the Sweet 16 without a real legitimate post player.

I believe that if he was offered this job, he would jump at the opporunity without hesitation.

Other Names Who Missed The Cut But You May Hear About:

Sean Miller (Xavier)
Bruce Pearl (Tennessee)
Bob Knight (Ex-Texas Tech & Indiana Coach)
Avery Johnson (Ex-Dallas Mavericks Coach)

Please keep in mind that this is just my personal opinion of who I feel UK should take a look at and in no way do I have any inside sources that are telling me these are the guys who will be looked at.

Please feel free to leave any comments or questions you have in regards to the list, or heck, send us your own list.  Would love to hear others thoughts on the situation at hand for the Wildcats.

Posted in Kentucky Wildcats, NCAA Basketball | 4 Comments »

March Madness Baby

Posted by Charlie Hustle on March 16, 2009


The Nasty Boys are lighting up the midnight oil to provide one of the first March Madness primers….assuming Pat Forde’s 10,000 word column was mainly written before the brackets came out…


Big East – Hard to believe when ESPN has Big East Monday and covers the Big East conference tournament, that it could possibly result in 3 #1 seeds. ESPN dictates sports fans viewpoints with the vigor of a Soviet propaganda minister.

Memphis – Not a #1 seed? Who cares. After Cincinnati, Louisville, Marquette, etcetera left in 2005, Memphis seems to go pretty much defeated in the Washington Senator-esque Conference USA every year. They lost 3 games after losing their 3 best players to the NBA draft. Soak it up Calipari… you’ve come a long way baby

Just 15 years ago Cliff Huxtable was ready to whip your ass.

Big Ten – 7 tournament bids from the most horrendous offensive teams in recent history. But hey, they followed a simple formula… make one team so indefensibly bad they improve everyone’s conference record (Indiana) + make typical losers slightly better (NW, PSU, UofMich, Minny) + make your middle of the road teams (OSU, Purdue) as good as your best teams (Mich St, Illinois)

Arizona – Consistently underwhelm every year and do less with more? Check. Lose basically every game for 3 weeks leading up the tourney? Check. Sneak in as the last at-large bid? Check.

Atlantic 10 – If anyone would have told me before the season that the conference championship would include a luke warm Duquesne/Temple showdown and that there would be 3 bids coming for the tourney, well… ya know…


Missouri Valley Conference – Your best team (Creighton) doesn’t get in and your best showing is a 12 seed (Northern Iowa)? Ouch.

Akron – Win a surprisingly tough MAC tournament? Good for you. Now go play Gonzaga in Portland.

Kentucky – Misses the tourney for the first time since 1991 even in a weak year for the SEC. Only a 4th seed in the NIT? Yikes. Maybe the extra time will help Billy G. find more than one player who can shoot a jumper.

… and now…


Gus Johnson – Anyone with a pulse will be excited to hear Johnson calling upset-last-second-shot victories.

Bill Raftery – Saying “mantoman” and “onions” in a weird voice does not a good playcaller make.

Ian Eagle/Jim Sparnakel – I wish there was an announcer website like that kept track of most consecutive boring, unimportant games called record holder – Ian Eagle. Whether it’s calling late season Chiefs/Bengals matchups or the enticing UNC/Radford showdown, Ian Eagle has it covered. That’s “eye-an” for those keeping score.

Lesley Visser/Tracy Wolfson/Sam Ryan – Hey, woman sideline reporter, NO ONE CARES WHAT YOU HAVE TO SAY. Where’s my mute button….

Jay Bilas/Dick Vitale/Seth Davis – Just tattoo a Duke logo on your forehead and get it over with. We get it already….


Kansas – Great home team. Won last year. But no one is forgetting their streak of early round upsets especially since this team lost almost all of its main components from the Championship squad. They’re a year away.

Prediction: North Dakota St. wins. Gus Johnson strokes out.

Wake Forest – Talented team that just simply has not lived up to expectations after their #1 ranking in the middle of the season. Demon Deacs are just not up to it.

Prediction: Cleveland St. or Utah knocks them out.

Michigan State – Great coaching can make up for a lot of issues and Tom Izzo seems to have MSU competing every year for a Big 10 title. But this Spartans team can’t hang with anyone who can score more than 65 points. They just don’t have the shooters.

Prediction: Sent packing before the weekend is over.

Marquette – Dominique James couldn’t shoot for his life but for whatever reason, this team just cannot make up for his loss. They’ve been cold for a month and can’t recover.

Prediction: Utah State’s middle aged team (their best guy is 26 years old, due to school rules of 2 years doing church work) wears down Marquette and sends them home.

Tennessee – Bill Raftery on Wayne Chism’s long shorts-high socks look… “It looks like he’s wearing pajamas out there.” When your best player wears his head band on the crown of his head and your coach has a 365-day tan… you are making a quick exit.

Prediction: OK State by 10-20

Butler – No team has had more highly touted nonathletic white guys come through their doors than possibly save Gonzaga. I watched them lose to Cleveland St. and they don’t have the horses.

Prediction: UNC wins by 30 in 2nd round.

Syracuse – Coach? Check. Point guard? Check. Shooters? Check. But there’s a long list of teams that sell all the way out for the conference tournament and lay an egg in the NCAAs, and we’ll be adding this Syracuse team to the list. They were good enough to hang with the big boys in the Big East but every game seemed to fall apart at the end…

Prediction: Either James Harden (ASU) or Dionte Christmas (Temple) will send ‘Cuse home.

The Players:

Louisville – Seem to make up for their lack of shooters with a stifling press defense and lots of depth on the front line. They are a second-half team, and second-half teams that play great defense seem to win a lot of games (See Celtics, Cavs)

Prediction: Final Four

USC – Sometimes talented teams take a while to mesh, and if the Pac10 tournament is any indication, USC has just started to touch on their potential.

Prediction: Sweet 16+

Washington – Usually the Pac 10 is chock full of wimps who make early round exits but this Huskies team has quietly had its best team in years. They have 4 double-digits scorers (Thomas, Dentmon, Brockman, Pondexter), including their best scorer named Isaiah Thomas. Perhaps he too will become a Hall of Fame player then the worst GM ever.

Prediction: Elite 8 (after beating UConn in OT)

Memphis – A hot team with a fairly easy draw, Memphis will be making a Final Four appearance no matter how bad their conference is.

Prediction: Final Four

Pitt – Many people’s favorite to win, Pitt has played consistently well all year and has depth and talent. However, they simply cannot survive DeJuan Blair getting in foul trouble (see Louisville loss) and Jamie Dixon isn’t what I would call a “big game coach”.

Prediction: Elite 8

Portland State – My knowledge of this sleeper is due to degenerate gambling but they have a great shot at making a run. They can run, shoot lights out, and their best player is like 5’5″. Xavier usually saves its best for Dayton then sucks against other good teams.

Prediction: Sweet 16

VCU – Should come as no surprise, this team is well-coached, has good depth, and a killer prime time scorer in Eric Maynor. C-ya, UCLA.

Prediction: 101-98 loss to Nova.

Villanova – Out of all the big Big East names, this team is quietly hanging under the radar. But they have good scoring depth, two stars in Cunningham and Reynolds, and a coach that could fill in as Don Draper’s double on Mad Men.

73428540MH014_Big_East_Cham don-draper

Prediction: Final Four.

Duke – Great run in the ACC tournament but obvious front court weakness will eventually send the Dukies home and leave the Vitale/Bilas/Davis combination crying into their Van Heusen ties. Nova will be smart enough to guard the 3 point line and let the likes of Jason Zoubak beat them.

Prediction: Sweet 16

UNC – The deepest and most talented team in the field. A loss in the ACC tournament is going to make this team hungry and their hopes will ride on their floor general Ty Lawson’s foot. A full week of rest should do him wonders.

Prediction: Final Four

Gonzaga – Probably one of their best tournament teams in years. They are deep, talented, and Josh Heytvelt seems to be off the ‘shrooms. They go down to UNC in a high-scoring affair.

Prediction: Elite 8

Arizona State – A great player can carry a team far in the NCAAs and the Sun Devil’s James Harden is as good as there is. If they can put the clamps on Dionte Christmas, the Sun Devils will be in the sweet 16.

Prediction: Sweet 16

Oklahoma – Interesting team with plenty of talent (Griffin brothers, Willie Warren) but they just seem to have lost some momentum after Blake’s concussion. Playing a streaky Clemson team in the 2nd round, they could be sent home very early. Having the best player in the country doesn’t always mean winning in the tourney (See: Kevin Durant).

Prediction: Sweet 16

Final Four: Memphis vs. Louisville and UNC vs. Villanova

Louisville’s defense is too much for freshman PG Tyreke Evans and they roll 65-58.

UNC keeps Nova in it with less than stellar D but Hansborough tends to get big men like Cunningham in foul trouble and UNC scores 50 in the 2nd half to win 87-83 in a nail-biter.

Championship: UNC vs. Louisville

Offense vs. Defense. Pitino vs. Williams. At the end of the day, there aren’t many teams I would trust to break the Louisville press more than Lawson and Company. Louisville keeps it close with some strong runs in both halves but can’t make enough shots down the stretch to keep up.

UNC wins 85-76

Good luck and as always, when your bracket falls apart, burn it in the fireplace.

— Charlie Hustle

Posted in NCAA Basketball | 8 Comments »

What Does Kentucky Need To Do?

Posted by Ryne E. Hancock on March 10, 2009

With Saturday’s loss to Florida the Wildcats in Billy G.’s second season are on the outside looking in concerning the Big Dance.

In fact, according to our “friends” at, the Wildcats wouldn’t even crack the last four in or even worse, the last four out.

If the tournament started today, South Carolina, Tennessee, and LSU would be the only  representatives from the SEC, a far cry from last year’s SEC representatives of Kentucky, Georgia, Mississippi State, Arkansas, Vanderbilt, and Tennessee, with Tennessee making the Sweet 16 for the 2nd year in a row (where they would lose to Louisville).

On the other hand, Kentucky would miss the tournament for the first time since 1991, back when MC Hammer was king of the music world and Will Smith was the “Fresh Prince”.

But despite the fear of what could happen to the Wildcats’ season and, more importantly, the future of Billy G, the Wildcats could do the same thing that Arkansas did back in 2000, win four games in four days to make the field of 64 thanks to this week’s SEC Tournament in Tampa. The Wildcats will open up against Ole Miss Thursday afternoon.

So what does this lead us to assume? From what was said in the Lexington Herald-Leader about Jodie Meeks being ordered to retain his shooting, this after scoring 45 points against Arkansas and dropping a Kentucky-record 54 against Tennessee, Meeks is going to have to block out what was allegedly said by Gillispie during the 2nd half against the Gators and shoot the ball more (and make it).

Posted in Kentucky Wildcats, NCAA Basketball | Comments Off on What Does Kentucky Need To Do?

Can The Streak Continue?

Posted by Ryne E. Hancock on January 14, 2009

The last time Memphis lost to a Conference USA opponent, I was in community college and working at a children’s agency in downtown Memphis.

It was March of 2006, a year after Darius Washington missed two free throws when the Tigers lost to UAB in Birmingham en route to the first of three consecutive Conference USA championships.

That team had players like Chris Douglas-Roberts, Rodney Carney, Jeremy Hunt, Joey Dorsey, and the aforementioned Darius Washington, just to name a few.

For nearly three years, no Conference USA member has said that they slayed the giant that is the Memphis basketball program.

As a fan, I can remember very well four games in which the Tigers’ streak almost came to a sudden halt.

A year after that night in Birmingham, the Tigers, playing for a #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, traveled to Dallas to face SMU to close out the regular season and clinch the first undefeated conference slate in school history.

Now for most that don’t know, Southern Methodist’s last NCAA appearance was in 1993 and for the most part, the Mustangs aren’t too high on the fear factor of those who walk into Moody Coliseum.

But on that March night, the Mustangs almost did the unthinkable until Memphis, true to its custom, closed the window of opportunity on the Mustangs and clinched its second straight C-USA title.

Almost a year later, the Tigers were in trouble again in Birmingham as they faced the Blazers before another packed house in Bartow Arena and by the grace of God defeated the Blazers as well as the hillbillies who decided to throw things on the court.

The third close call that I have recollections of was shared this past Saturday at my mother’s house when the Tigers faced Central Florida in Orlando.

Given the fact that when I did the 25 greatest basketball programs in the South, I made a note that in the 21 years my mother has been at the University of Memphis, the Tigers have had only three losing seasons and 18 postseason appearances.

The problem was that despite the success the Tigers had in basketball, my mother pulled for the opponent whenever I watched a game with her.

“They’re going to lose,” my mother said Saturday when it seemed like Central Florida was going to put an end to the streak.

“It’s 8 minutes left in the game,” I said, as Central Florida continued to hold serve with the Tigers.

“They can’t pull it off,” my mother said.

“Yes they can,” I said.

True to form, the Tigers, playing before another raucous crowd in UCF Arena, extended “The Streak” to 44 games by pulling away in the last part of the game, winning 73-66.

Close call number four came Tuesday night in Tulsa when the Golden Hurricane, which features guard Ben Uzoh and center Jerome Jordan, nearly put an end to “The Streak.”

The 5,950 fans at the Reynolds Center were set to rush the floor when Uzoh hit a free throw with 4.5 seconds left to give the Golden Hurricane a 54-53 lead, something that caught my attention while writing this column last night.

“Let’s go Tulsa,” New Orleans native Jonah Leavell said as we watched the final seconds of the game.

Mind you, New Orleans is the home of Tulane University, a school that has never been known for basketball tradition and the same school in which a gambling scandal rocked the program during the days of “Hot Rod” Williams, so I could understand the confusion Leavell has when it comes to basketball in Memphis.

“Tulsa’s pretty good though,” I said, “they won 20-plus games last season, but the Tigers always find some way to pull it out.”

With 4.1 seconds left in “The Streak” and a legion of fans waiting to rush the court at the Reynolds Center, Antonio Anderson would receive the grace of God in the form of a basketball and make a leaning layup at the buzzer to extend the streak to 45 wins and counting in Conference USA.

A play that was from the textbook of former Maryland coach Lefty Driesell, who used it in the 1982 Great Alaska Shootout  where it proved to be the deciding factor in the Tigers’ victory over the Golden Hurricane.

After the game ended, I sent a text to former Crichton basketball player Michael Sapp.

“We Memphis boys know how to hoop,” the text message read.

All but maybe one.

Posted in NCAA Basketball | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

It Doesn’t Get Any Better Than That

Posted by Matt on January 14, 2009


54 points IN Knoxville against the hated Vols. A Kentucky record. The lead story on the 11:00PM edition of SportsCenter. And now I arrive to work to find the ESPN homepage splashed with the dominating performance had by one Jodie Meeks right in the face of the that orange-blazer-wearing, too-much-fake-tanned Bruce Pearl. Chris Lofton WHO?

Posted in Kentucky Wildcats, NCAA Basketball | Tagged: | 3 Comments »

Yes, Ms. Key, The Tigers Still Can’t Shoot Free Throws

Posted by Ryne E. Hancock on November 25, 2008


After Memphis’ loss to Xavier in the championship game of the Puerto Rico Classic, yours truly went on Facebook and came across one of his friends’ statuses concerning the game against the Musketeers.

“FREE THROWS PEOPLE!!!!” the status read, as if it was screaming out the same thing everyone from Collierville to Millington had been saying since April when the Tigers clanked the iron in the title game against Kansas.

And given the fact that I saw the last of the game at my job, I couldn’t agree more with what she and my fellow Tiger fans were saying.

According to my knowledge of basketball, you win games by making free throws and playing defense.

“Free throws can be the difference in games,” Crichton basketball coach Jeff Walker says during practices during free throw drills.

But that’s different for the north side of Highland Avenue.

On the south side of Highland Avenue, the Tigers’ free throw woes have continued from last season, and it showed Sunday night.

While Xavier’s Terrell Holloway made 10 straight free throws (think that sweet-shooting Butler guard during the 2003 NCAA Tournament) and finished with 13 points, the Tigers remained helpless at the free throw line.

A prime example of this was Doneal Mack’s 1-for-5 shooting from the charity stripe, good for 20 percent and a first-class ticket to the bench sitting next to John Calipari.

Big man Robert Dozier didn’t fare better, going 2-of-6 and giving hope to Memphis youth who someday want to be excellent free throw shooters.

This coming after he went 4-for-4 from the charity stripe in the semis against Seton Hall while the Tigers collectively shot 65 percent from the free throw line in the win.

Their free throw percentage last night?

50 percent (15-for-30) compared to Xavier’s 68 percent, including Holloway’s 10 straight makes.

If the Tigers want to learn how to shoot free throws, the best thing they can do for this situation is get one of my old friends from my days writing for the North Shelby Times (pictured below) and have her wear a cheerleading outfit during one of their free throw drills.


But then again, that too might be trouble at the free throw line.

It’s better than someone trying to moon you, though.

Posted in NCAA Basketball | Tagged: | Comments Off on Yes, Ms. Key, The Tigers Still Can’t Shoot Free Throws

At Least I Still Have The Bengals…Right?

Posted by Matt on November 19, 2008

Last night’s Kentucky at North Carolina basketball game:



“The Debacle in the Dean Dome.” That’s what they’re calling it.

And by they I mean me.

Kentucky narrowly escaped a mere single-digit loss thanks to 28 turnovers to start the 2008-2009 campaign 0-2 for only the third time in the program’s storied history. North Carolina now sits just 14 wins shy of Kentucky’s all-time mark — the one record Wildcat fans have grabbed at straws with as the glory has faded from this once-dominant regime. A 19-point Tar Heel victory kicked off ESPN’s college basketball coverage with the #1 team in the Nation’s two best players idly watching from the bench as if to say, “the team doesn’t need us for these has-beens.”

I woke up this morning — much like ZRO did post-VMI embarrassment — hoping it was all a bad dream. That the visions of that rat Roy Williams applauding gleefully from the sidelines and Dickie V.’s 18 Duke/Coach K. references were all merely nightmares within the depths of my slumber.

A nightmare it may have been but oh-so-real it was.

I immediately headed for the showers, hoping to wash away the stank of losing and searching for a single glimmer of hope in the coming weeks — and unfortunately it’s not Longwood (that’s what she said) at home next Monday.

In fact, as I stepped out of the shower it dawned on me: at least I still have the Bengals…right?

My much maligned band of nobodies is on a three week non-losing streak. Something that cannot be said about the basketball OR football Wildcats.

Cincy completely bamboozled the Eagles on Sunday, snatching a tie from the jaws of victory after tricking Donovan McNabb in to believing that there were no ties in the NFL, that the next step would be penalty kicks.

Only the Bengals could provide such heart-warming tales like the acquisition of lineman Digger Bujnoch, literally signed out of the West Side of Cincinnati after no other NFL team would have him. A man who once earned a paycheck delivering Salisbury steaks to Mike Brown while working for his parents’ catering company, Booj’s, is now suiting up for the orange and black attack (I can’t make this stuff up).

And it is fitting this holiday season that the Bengals are now staffed primarily by players left behind by teams that lack the foresight of Cincy’s front office as Mike Brown’s heart has grown three sizes this season. The Digger Bujnochs, the Chris Crockers (surprisingly not this Chris Crocker), and even the Cedric Bensons are our very own Island of Misfit Toys a la the Christmas classic Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer.

While I agonize in the state of my basketball Wildcats I still have these Bengals…my Bengals.

No other team could provide the emotional roller coaster ride or the laughs as the Bengals can. No other team could tug at the spirit with stories of sacrifice and redemption…for the 3rd, 4th, and 5th times. And no other team’s best player has gradually grown to resemble Little Richard since his arrival:


So when you’re gathered around the dinner table next week with your families for Thanksgiving, remember what you DO have (Chris Henry and Mike Brown) instead of what you DON’T have (a winning record after two games, ball security, a viable option at point guard, or a sober head coach) because, hey, at least we’re not Louisville fans:



Posted in Cincinnati Bengals, Kentucky Wildcats, NCAA Basketball, NFL | Tagged: , | 2 Comments »

That Was Depressing

Posted by Matt on November 18, 2008

If you had 23rd Turnover in the “When would MJ turn off the Kentucky game to do laundry for tomorrow?” Pool, please step forward to claim your prize.

Winner receives a coupon redeemable for one date-night with Charlie Hustle to the Spearmint Rhino…which is certainly more exciting than watching Kentucky basketball…

Posted in Kentucky Wildcats, NCAA Basketball | Tagged: | 1 Comment »

UK-VMI- The View From Section 217

Posted by Agent Z-Ro on November 18, 2008

Whether you have heard about it, saw it, or lived through it, Friday night’s loss to VMI was definitely a turd brown stain on the checked blue and white Kentucky jersey. I’m not going to wax poetic about the intricacies of coaching college basketball, because I am not an expert on the subject, nor am I going to lament about the final score. There are many other sports blogs that will ponder over that for this week and I want to be original, so this is all about the things that did not translate to TV. My friend obtained 2 tickets for the game and we went along, talking about SEC sports of all types. These are just random observations in no particular order of importance:

– Downtown Lexington will always be one of the greatest areas in all of college basketball to be at before a game. The waves of blue clad people are endless and always expanding as you walk along.

-Point of discussion and my opinion on it: There is no way that the SEC could ever serve alcohol at games. People get crazy enough at them already. Did you see a Bama fan killed two LSU fans? And that wasn’t even at a game. AND they had won!

– Going in as alumni rather than students is clearly better. You get to walk into a nice, decorated lobby and feel the heaters. Student entrance looks and feels more like prisoner transfer.

– I don’t care how many times I’ve done it, as soon as I turn a corner and see Rupp arena, it takes my breath away. The place is a goddamn cathedral of basketball.

– Patrick Patterson is a spectacle to see. You can read all the hype in the papers and internet but seeing that guy in person is impressive. He is jacked,and he is huge. With the ultra tight jersey, clown parachute pants, and the ‘fro, he looks like he just stepped out of Thunderdome. He should have a bandanna and ultimate warrior arm bands. We should work on a nickname with that.

– Pre-game warmups filled me with apprehension about this game. VMI was energetic, precise, and most importantly, relaxed. They looked ready, and that was my first tip-off of the coming storm.

– After the first couple three’s dropped in without so much as a clank of the rim, no one has really reacted, just sitting back and analyzing play. UK fans are interesting in this respect; they are rabid, undoubtedly, but only because they have researched the line-up like panty lines in a Victoria’s Secret catalog. We know the in and outs of the players, and a redneck behind me lets me know how “them boys looked in open practices”. It’s creepy how a 43 year old man is completely comfortable sharing his intimate knowledge of 15 18-23 year old men.

– More three’s are falling. It’s so quiet the shoe squeaks echo.

– Something I learned from the game: Man press will make you shit your pants, if I can glean anything from our guard play.

-Kentucky is now losing big. I can really appreciate VMI’s coach for playing the time-out game well. Anytime the crowd really started getting into it there would be a quick time out. Sometimes the Mo’ carried through but it was a good way to protect his players. The guy is out of control, acting out (rather emphatically) what he wanted his players to do, but he is controlled and aware at all times. It’s like he almost brings a military-like precision to the game. Hmm…

– Post about Patterson again: Seeing him beside the 4 guys on the court under 6’3″ makes him look even more like a giant. Unfortunately, it is a giant that has to guard a shooting forward. He is fast for a big guy, but he isn’t fast for a small guy. He’s been game-planned and the low post double teams are rendering him useless.

-I swear to God the Cats are stoned. Anytime we score a basket, we run down the court and start talking or looking off somewhere, while an Army-trained basketball player stabs the knife of the three into the kidneys of our scoreboard.

-I black out. I have terrible nightmares about turnover-laden basketball and being outrebounded by midgets in camoflage. I wake up several hours later in my bed screaming but Auntie Em and Uncle Henry are there to assure me it was just a dream with a cup of cocoa and a pre-warmed crack pipe. Then I have to build a go-cart with a ocelot. I realize I’m still dreaming and wake up just in time to see the final score.

If someone could let me know what happened that would be great, I missed the second half.

Posted in Kentucky Wildcats, NCAA Basketball | Tagged: | 5 Comments »

Turn The Page

Posted by Ryne E. Hancock on October 22, 2008

As the old adage goes, when one door closes, another door opens.

For the Memphis Tigers and their fans, Friday night’s Memphis Madness meant the celebration of one of the greatest seasons in college basketball history and the prospect for another run at success.

Sitting among one of the 15,000 or so fans in the FedEx Forum, I wondered how many people, young and old, felt about a team of guys from all over the map that did something special like the Tigers in 2007-08.

During the video tribute to the 2007-08 team, a lady who probably would have been mistaken for my late grandmother, had tears in her eyes as they showed the Kansas-Memphis highlights.

“We had that game,” she said to me, echoing the same sentiment that I had during my drunken tirade after that game in April.

With tears welling up in my eyes as well (yes, I do have a soft side), I said to the lady that very few people, including the people in Lawrence, Kansas, get a chance to experience what was experienced in Memphis last season.

Five minutes prior to the banner raising, a familar face that was here during this glorious era of Tiger basketball came onto the FedEx Forum floor, current New Jersey Net Chris Douglas-Roberts.

And much like the days when he provided one electrifying moment after another on the hardwood, the fans around the building chanted “C-D-R!!!!”.

The highlights of the pre-raising was the video messages from Derrick Rose and Joey Dorsey, both of whom had games on Friday night, and Douglas-Roberts breezing through the FedEx Forum crowd like he was the mayor of Memphis.

And then, after all was said and done, the current Tiger team, along with Douglas-Roberts, raised the banner to the rafters of the FedEx Forum, setting off a sea of blue and white streamers from the ceiling.

“Well,” I said to the same lady sitting next to me, “it’s time to turn the page and see can these guys do it again in 2008-09.”

While, for the most part, I didn’t stay for much of the scrimmage, I was impressed by the 3-point marksmanship of Willie Kemp and Robert Sallie, who if not for the mess the Big 12 had put him through while trying to play at Nebraska for Doc Sadler, he would be playing for a mediocre team instead of a top 25 team like the Tigers.

My thoughts on Tyreke Evans?

Good as advertised. If the Tigers have another runaway season in Conference USA, he’s going to win Freshman of the Year.

And maybe, just maybe, a Championship ring.

Posted in NCAA Basketball | Tagged: , | 3 Comments »

The Right Man At The Right Time

Posted by Ryne E. Hancock on September 8, 2008

Being an African-American that just so happens to write a sports column every week, I know all too well about the various stories of courage in sports.

In school, we learned about Branch Rickey’s signing of Jackie Robinson and Jesse Owens literally spitting in the face of Hitler during the 1936 Olympics, as well as the work of Martin Luther King and Malcolm X.

But what many of us didn’t learn, including yours truly, was the story of Don Haskins and the 1966 NCAA Championship, when he put five black guys on the floor against the big bad Kentucky Wildcats led by a certain guy named Pat Riley (yes, the Pat Riley that had the Armani suits in the 80’s) and their coach, Adolph Rupp.

And much like the stuff that’s seen in movies, the five black guys from the tiny school in El Paso beat the bluebloods from Lexington, giving the state of Texas its first national basketball championship and a footnote in history.

But it was beyond that game that made Haskins a legend.

For 38 years, the guy from Oklahoma was the face of UTEP basketball and the city of El Paso.

He helped many kids from the ghettos and rural sections of Texas, molded them into men of character, and did the next important thing on the agenda:


And win he did, accumulating 719 wins, 14 NCAA Tournaments, a National Championship, and most importantly, a big enough shadow to cast over the mountains in El Paso.

Away from the court, Haskins was a man who believed in the benefits of hard work and dedication, something that made him good enough to be voted the greatest coach in college basketball history by Dan Wetzel — whose book “Glory Road” would be later turned into an incredible movie documenting the story of the 1966 team.

It was good enough for him to have the Special Events Center, home to some of UTEP’s great teams, renamed in his honor for all the achievements that he brought to the city of El Paso.

To quote Richard Rodgers, who said, “Love is not love unless you give it and a bell is not a bell unless you ring it.” Haskins gave his heart and soul to the city of El Paso.

And it in turn loved him back.

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The Greatest Basketball Program In The South: Kentucky Wildcats

Posted by Ryne E. Hancock on June 25, 2008

Kentucky Wildcats

Location: Lexington, Kentucky

Nickname: Wildcats

Reason For Nickname: In 1909 after a football game against the University of Illinois, Commandant Carbusier mentioned that the football team fought like wildcats, giving birth to the nickname.

Colors: Blue and White

Conference: Southeastern

Arena: Rupp Arena (built 1976, capacity 23,000)

Postseason Appearances:

NCAA Appearences: 48 Appearances, 13 Final Fours, 7 National Championships

NIT Appearances: 7 Appearances, 1 Championship

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Posted in NCAA Basketball | Tagged: , | 5 Comments »

2008 NBA Draft… Derrick Rose Or Michael Beasley?

Posted by Condo on June 24, 2008

The on-going debate for the Chicago Bulls, the team holding the #1 pick in Thursday’s 2008 NBA Draft is, “Do we take Derrick Rose or do we take Michael Beasley?”

Multiple sources — from what I have read — have said that while the Bulls state they are still “deciding” on who to take, they believe Derrick Rose will be the #1 pick in the draft. After this, apparently the Miami Heat, who hold the #2 pick in the draft, are attempting to trade out of the pick (thus assuming Rose is not on the board) with either Seattle or Memphis.

According to various articles and sources I have found on the internet, Seattle is proposing a swap of their #4 pick plus power forward Chris Wilcox for power forward Mark Blount and the #2 pick. The reason for this deal being intriguing to Miami would be the fact that Blount still has 2 years and 16 million dollars on his contract whereas Wilcox is, what they call in the NBA, an ‘expiring contract’. Simply meaning, his contract runs out after this year is up.

Another rumor involves the Memphis Grizzlies offering point guard Kyle Lowery, shooting guard Mike Miller and their #5 pick for the #2 pick. Miami, however, wants Memphis to sweeten the deal by having Memphis give up last year’s top pick, point guard Mike Conley, instead of Lowery while the Heat would then add in shooting guard Daequan Cook.

Either way, it appears that the Heat have zero interest in Michael Beasley on their team. My question is: WHY???

Beasley is, in fact, the same kid who took a Kansas State team who really wasn’t very good, put them on his back, and led them to the 2nd round of the NCAA Tournament, which is no worse than what Kevin Durant did at Texas last year with DJ Augustin, among others, on his team.

Beasley is the same kid who averaged over 26 points a game, led the Nation in rebounding with over 12 per game, was Big 12 Freshman of the Year, Big 12 Player of the Year, a concensus First Team All-American, and probably would’ve been the National Player of the Year if people were not in love with Tyler Hansbrough. If you compare Beasley’s stats to that of last year’s freshman phenom, Kevin Durant, they are actually better.

So someone explain to me why Beasley is most likely going to be passed over by the Bulls for Derrick Rose and why the Heat are trying to trade the pick away?!? Don’t get me wrong, Derrick Rose is a fantastic point guard, but he is not on the same talent level of Michael Beasley. Rose can’t score the way Beasley can, he can’t play in the post, command double teams, rebound, and well, you get the idea.

And please don’t give me the “oh, well Rose has no character issues and Beasley does.” Sure, Beasley seemed to have character issues in high school that probably came from moving from school to school and having a lack of maturity. But, Amare Stoudemire did the same thing, moving from school to school and while he wasn’t a #1 pick because of it, based on his production, you think teams in that draft would LOVE to have a do-over? I think so. Not to mention, you saw zero issues from Beasley of ‘immaturity’ in college, and from what I can tell, all 19-20 year old kids like to have fun and joke around, so it is not just limited to Beasley.

Simply put, while Derrick Rose is a very good player, I just don’t understand why there is even a comparision between he and Michael Beasley. Especially with the Bulls need for an offensive presence in the post. But apparently, actually having ‘fun’ is going to hurt Mr. Beasley in the end if the Bulls do indeed draft Rose.

For Bulls fans sake, if they do infact draft Derrick Rose, they better hope this ‘Mike’ doesn’t turn out to be like the last ‘Mike’ we saw in Chicago, or the team will never live it down.


Posted in NCAA Basketball | Tagged: , | 6 Comments »

The 2nd Greatest Basketball Program In The South: Duke Blue Devils

Posted by Ryne E. Hancock on June 10, 2008

Duke Blue Devils

Location: Durham, North Carolina

Nickname: Blue Devils

Reason For Nickname: World War I French flying unit, the “Les Diables Bleus”

Colors: Blue and White

Conference: Atlantic Coast Conference

Arena: Cameron Indoor Stadium (built 1940, capacity 9,314)

Postseason Appearances:

NCAA Appearances: 32 Appearances, 14 Final Fours, 3 National Championships

NIT Appearances: 5 Appearances

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The 3rd Greatest Basketball Program In The South: North Carolina Tar Heels

Posted by Ryne E. Hancock on May 23, 2008

North Carolina Tar Heels

Location: Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Nickname: Tar Heels

Reason For Nickname: North Carolina’s nickname is the “The Tar Heel State”. That should explain everything.

Colors: Carolina Blue and White

Conference: Atlantic Coast Conference

Arena: Dean E. Smith Center (built 1986, capacity 21,750)

Postseason Appearances:

NCAA Appearances: 40 Appearances, 17 Final Fours, four National Championships

NIT Appearances: 5 Appearances, one championship

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The 4th Greatest Basketball Program In The South: Georgetown Hoyas

Posted by Ryne E. Hancock on May 22, 2008

Georgetown Hoyas

Location: Washington, D.C.

Nickname: Hoyas

Reason For Nickname: It comes from some Latin chant that makes no sense to the causal sports fan.

Colors: Blue and Gray

Conference: Big East

Arena: Verizon Center (built 1998, capacity 20,173)

Postseason Appearances:

NCAA Appearances: 25, including one National Championship and five Final Fours

NIT Appearances: 10 Appearances

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The 5th Greatest Basketball Program In The South: Louisville Cardinals

Posted by Ryne E. Hancock on May 14, 2008

Louisville Cardinals

Location: Louisville, Kentucky

Nickname: Cardinals

Reason For Nickname: The Cardinal is Kentucky’s official state bird.

Colors: Red, White, and Black

Conference: Big East

Arena: Freedom Hall (built 1956, capacity 18,865)

Postseason Appearances:

NCAA Appearances: 34 Appearances, 8 Final Fours, 2 National Championships

NIT Appearances: 14 Appearances, one Championship

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The 6th Greatest Basketball Program In The South: Maryland Terrapins

Posted by Ryne E. Hancock on May 7, 2008

Maryland Terrapins

Location: College Park, Maryland

Nickname: Terrapins

Reason For Nickname: In 1932, then-president Curley Byrd suggested that their athletic programs be known as the Terrapins. The name has stuck ever since.

Colors: Officially – red, white, black, and gold

Conference: Atlantic Coast Conference

Arena: Comcast Center (built 2002, capacity 17,950)

Postseason Appearances:

NCAA Appearances: 22 Appearances, two Final Fours, one National Championship

NIT Appearances: 7 Appearances, one Championship

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The 7th Greatest Basketball Program In The South: Western Kentucky Hilltoppers

Posted by Ryne E. Hancock on April 25, 2008

Western Kentucky Hilltoppers

Location: Bowling Green, Kentucky

Nickname: Hilltoppers

Reason For Nickname: The location of Western Kentucky University, which is located on a hill in Bowling Green.

Colors: Red and White

Conference: Sun Belt

Arena: E.A. Diddle Arena (built 1963, capacity 14,277)

Postseason Appearances:

NCAA Tournament Appearances: 20 Appearances, one Final Four.

NIT Appearances:13 Appearances, three Final Fours

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The 8th Greatest Basketball Program In The South: North Carolina State Wolfpack

Posted by Ryne E. Hancock on April 23, 2008

North Carolina State Wolfpack

Location: Raleigh, North Carolina

Nickname: Wolfpack

Reason For Nickname: In 1922, a disgruntled fan said that the student section behaved like a “wolfpack”, therefore giving the nickname to the NC State program.

Colors: Red and White

Conference: Atlantic Coast Conference

Arena: RBC Center (built 1999, capacity 19, 722)

Postseason Appearances:

NCAA Tournament Appearances: 22 Appearances, three Final Fours, two National Championships

NIT Appearances: 11 Appearances

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The 9th Greatest Basketball Program In The South: Arkansas Razorbacks

Posted by Ryne E. Hancock on April 14, 2008

Arkansas Razorbacks

Location: Fayetteville, Arkansas

Nickname: Razorbacks

Reason For Nickname: The Arkansas athletic teams has been called the Razorbacks since 1910 after a student pep rally led by then-football coach Hugo Bezdek, who said that the football team played like a band of “Razorback Hogs”.

Colors: Cardinal and White

Conference: Southeastern

Arena: Bud Walton Arena (built 1993, capacity 19,200)

The Pride of Arkansas: One of the south’s greatest basketball programs, the Arkansas Razorbacks have a long storied tradition of excellence. In its history the Razorbacks have gone to 28 NCAA Tournaments and five Final Fours, including a National Championship over Duke in 1994. Along with that, the Razorbacks have won 22 Southwest Conference titles in 76 years of competiton and two SEC Championships since joining in 1992.

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Blast From The Past

Posted by Matt on April 9, 2008

As most of you know by now, Pat Summitt and the Lady Vols won the tournament…AGAIN. And they got to cut down the nets…AGAIN. Making the 8th time Coach Summitt and Tennessee has accomplished this feat and the second time in as many years.

Below is a post from this very site dated April 4, 2007 — one year and five days ago. It was the 9th overall post ever and the 7th by me, of which only six had any real value — assuming ANY actually have real value to begin with.

Now granted I am lazy and slightly hungover (see: excessively), but the simple fact that I can conveniently recycle a post a year later — and probably could have used it for Tennessee’s other six Championships as well — combined with the shear absence of parity is why I refuse to follow women’s basketball. Oh yeah…and also because it sucks.

Summitt’s Seventh As Unexciting As First

Posted by Matt on April 4, 2007


Let me preface this article by saying that I am by NO MEANS taking anything away from Pat Summitt, she is a wonderful coach, the type that only comes around once in a lifetime. She deserves all the credit for all of the success that she has had. That being said, even though she has as many National Championships as a coach as the University of Kentucky has as a school, I still don’t care. It is women’s basketball, and it doesn’t excite me. I cannot name one player outside of Diana Taurasi or “Shamika Holdslaw” (quotes because this is what Charlie Hustle called her and I found it funny…plus, I don’t want to get anymore hate mail) and I don’t think they play college basketball anymore.

Furthermore, there are a few teams that are good year in and year out and the rest of the competition pales in comparison. These teams mainly being Tennessee and Connecticut, with another random BCS Conference school thrown in here or there. It may be seem like an amazing feat, for Summitt to win seven, but it really isn’t. There isn’t enough talent or parity to go around and the same teams will always win, and the more they win the more these teams will draw all of the talent and continue to win. It is like NCAA Men’s Lacrosse, does anybody care about men’s collegiate lacrosse outside of a few prostitutes in the Duke University area? I didn’t think so.

Just like none of us can name any female basketball players, we can’t name any men’s lacrosse players either. Why did I bring up men’s lacrosse, you ask? Well, one of Virginia, John Hopkins, Syracuse, Princeton, or North Carolina has won the NCAA Men’s Lacrosse National Championship for the past 29 seasons dating back to 1978. Just as either Tennessee or Connecticut has won the NCAA Women’s Basketball National Championship 9 of the last 12 times. It just isn’t impressive if it comes down to the same two teams every season. It makes me wonder why we even have seasons for these sports. Why not cut to the chase and let Tennessee play Connecticut, best of three, and whoever wins is the National Champion for the next calendar year and we can all get back to something more important, such as Cheers reruns on TV Land.

Posted in NCAA Basketball | Tagged: | 9 Comments »

Destiny Or Fate, It’s All The Same

Posted by Ryne E. Hancock on April 7, 2008

Editor’s Note: Discuss this article NOW over at ACC vs. SEC! – Destiny Or Fate, It’s All The Same

Thursday night, hours before the Tigers were set to play the UCLA Bruins in the Final Four, I sat in my Christian Theology class hearing one of my professors, who also doubles as Crichton’s soccer coach, talk about general revelation and why sometimes we as people wind up in the right place at the right time.

Listening to what Coach Jeremy Iwaszkoweic was saying about general revelation and why certain people are picked for certain things, it made me as well as what most Tiger fans around the Mid-South think about one word.


Fate could be added as well because for whatever reason, the dream ride that the Tigers have been on throughout the season, which continued with a convincing win over UCLA Saturday night in San Antonio behind the outstanding play of Derrick Rose and Chris Douglas-Roberts, who gave another clip to be added to the great NCAA Tournament highlights of all time by dunking on superfreshman Kevin Love. It has given my hometown something to be identified with in a positive manner.

When the Tigers chalked up win number 38, which is now the new single-season record in NCAA history, it was not only a win for the critics (that means you, Dick Vitale) but also a win for the city of Memphis — a town that always got confused with being a backwater town on the banks of the Mississippi River.

That has constantly remained in the shadow of Nashville with its country music and beautiful skyline on the Cumberland River for many years.

Well, from the last time I checked, wasn’t Vanderbilt upended by little Siena in the first round?

Uh, yeah.

And wasn’t it a while back that Tennessee, coming off its best regular season in school history, punked again in the Sweet 16, this time losing to Louisville convincingly?

Uh, yeah.

While it has been a banner year for basketball in the state, where five teams made the NCAA Tournament, two made the Sweet 16, and one sits 40 minutes away from the first ever men’s basketball NCAA championship in Tennessee’s history (sorry, NIT titles don’t matter), you can honestly say that this magical season of basketball wasn’t because of an accident of epic proportions.

It was in the cards for a long time.

And destiny, real or imagined, played a role in it.

Posted in NCAA Basketball | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

Twenty Years And Worth The Wait

Posted by Ryne E. Hancock on April 2, 2008


Twenty years ago, my mother began her tenure as supervisor in the Physical Plant and Planning at what was then known as Memphis State University.

Back then, the Tigers were coached by hometown hero Larry Finch, who led the Tigers to their greatest basketball moment back in 1973 when they faced UCLA and Bill Walton at old St. Louis Arena — an arena which I had the opportunity to witness the demise of nine years ago on a chilly late-winter afternoon while recovering from a broken ankle.

At the time, the Tigers were practicing in what was then an old and dark Fieldhouse, once home to players like Forrest Arnold and Win Wilfong in the 1950’s, and playing their games at the Mid-South Coliseum, located near where I grew up.

Many times during my formative years, I sat in some of the basketball practices, even sometime shooting baskets with Elliott Perry, Russell Young, Penny Hardaway, and David Vaughan, something that none of the people that knew my mother seemed to care about.

It was there that I learned to hate the University of Louisville, the University of Cincinnati, and later on, the University of Alabama at Bumpkinham-which employed Gene Bartow, the guy who took the Tigers some two decades ago to the Final Four.

By the time I entered fifth grade, I had watched the Tigers make a pair of Sweet 16s, an Elite Eight appearance against Cincinnati in 1992, and a Great Midwest Conference title in 1995 with Lorenzen Wright.

Once I reached middle school, the same Tigers program I grew up watching became a mere shadow of its former self. Larry Finch was gone, the Tigers moved into Conference USA with Cincinnati and Louisville and a guy by the name of Tic Price was now in charge of the program.

By the midpoint of Price’s first season, my grandmother, who would sit and watch Tiger basketball with me on cold winter nights during much of my childhood, was in a battle that Larry Finch or Tic Price could not coach her out of.


She lived long enough to see the Tigers lose in the first round of the 1998 NIT against Fresno State, which would be the last Tiger basketball game she would see in her lifetime.

By November she was dead at the age of 64.

And the Tigers would have one of its worst seasons in my lifetime, bowing out in the first round of the Conference USA Tournament to South Florida, which I’m pretty sure was a watershed moment in my time as a Tiger fan.

Towards the end of my 9th grade year, and 12th as a Tiger fan, the city of Memphis and Tiger basketball would change forever as John Calipari came to Memphis, rolled up his sleeves, and began to pump energy into a once-proud basketball program.

Given the fact that in my 14th year as a fan that Memphis would win the NIT against South Carolina, it was not something that Calipari was going to settle for.

And when C-USA disintergrated, it gave the Tigers a chance to do something that hadn’t been done in two decades.

Dominate the conference.

And dominate they have, winning three straight Conference Championships, with three straight 30-win seasons, and undefeated in league play this season for the first time in school history.

Sunday as I, along with several hundred Tiger fans sat, in the Roane Fieldhouse, no longer the dank that it was when I was a kid, I thought about all those times of seeing the Tigers come up short.

And when the clock struck zero, I knew that those days of waiting until next year was over.

Over and out.

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