Short Nerd Chief

Posts Tagged ‘NCAA’

Self to stay at KU – Hooray!

Posted by Fred on April 11, 2008

Good news – Bill Self has turned down Oklahoma State to sign a “lucrative” contract extension with the Jayhawks:

Three days after winning the NCAA championship, Kansas coach Bill Self said no thanks to Oklahoma State, his alma mater, and agreed to a lucrative contract extension that could keep him at Kansas for the rest of his career.

“Home called,” Self said. “And we love home. But this is home now.”

Apparently, OSU never put an actual offer on the table, so the only ones talking about money were the media.  Better news – he plans to stick around for a while:

Self said he now has no thoughts of ever leaving Kansas.

“The way I feel today and the way my family feels today, absolutely,” he said. “I don’t know how long my career’s going to last. I don’t see the finish line at all, but I see the finishing line being here.”

He said the fact that Kansas will probably lose many key players off this championship team to graduation and the NBA draft did not factor into his decision one way or another….

“I couldn’t see leaving this place,” Self said. “This is where we want to be.”

The best news is that Self seems determined to put his political capital to use in improving the basketball facilities, similar to the $31 million the university is putting into facilities for Mangino’s football squad:

Self’s new deal is likely to make him one of college basketball’s highest-paid coaches. Florida coach Billy Donovan is believed to be the highest among coaches at public universities, after he signed a six-year contract worth $3.5 million per year in 2007. Texas’ Rick Barnes is the highest-paid coach in the Big 12 at $2 million a year.

But Self had made it clear all along that he wanted to upgrade the facilities to keep up with what he called “the arms race” in big-time collegiate athletics. The Jayhawks are completing a $31 million project renovating and modernizing their football facilities.

“We need a practice facility, improved locker rooms, videos and cardio rooms,” Self said. “We need a place to eat meals. We need a place for [the media] to do your job, a work room. We need extra locker rooms. We need the Hall of Fame to extend. That’s just all part of it. We’re working on housing.”

If there is one area in which KU faces a sizable deficit, it is in facilities.  KU certainly has tradition, with James Naismith, Phog Allen, Dean Smith and Adolph Rupp.  It has success, with 1,943 wins over 110 seasons.  Only Kentucky (1,966) and North Carolina (1,950) have more wins.  Since 1990, KU has the best overall record at 541-121.  KU has “only” three championships, but only UCLA (11), Kentucky (7), North Carolina (5) and Indiana (5) have more.  In the last 20 years, KU has two titles – only Duke (3) has more.  So if you’re going to list the top five programs in all of college basketball, you probably end up with Kansas, North Carolina, Kentucky, UCLA and Duke.  What KU doesn’t have is first-class facilities, other than Allen Fieldhouse itself.  If Self can improve that situation, he’ll have done more for the legacy of KU basketball than a handful of new banners in the Fieldhouse would do.


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Final Thoughts on KU-Memphis: On The Shot and The Steal

Posted by Fred on April 9, 2008

ESPN Classic reran the 2008 NCAA Championship Game again last night as one of their Instant Classics (one that actually fit the moniker this time), and watching the last 2:12 over and over on the DVR, I became even more convinced that the key sequence isn’t at 0:10.8, although Super Mario’s three-pointer will live on in KU lore forever as The Shot.  It was the sequence from 2:12 to 1:54 that made The Shot possible.

2:12 — KU implements the Whack-A-Tiger strategy by fouling CDR out near half court.  Douglas-Roberts sinks both free throws, making the game 60-51.

2:12-1:54 — On the ensuing possession, Memphis extends the defense aggressively, and KU has clear trouble finding a shot.  Sherron Collins, Brandon Rush and Mario Chalmers all get touches and Self’s offense runs a series of ball screens, to no avail.  Finally, Darrell Arthur hits a jumper just inside the arc to make it 60-53.  Arthur was, to little fanfare outside Lawrence, the Hawks’ second-leading scorer at 12.8 PPG.  Billy Packer called the shot the worst shot in basketball at that moment, given that it was a foot away from a three-pointer.  Packer’s wrong, as usual – Arthur only tried 12 three-pointers all year and made but 2.  At that point, you need a hoop, not necessarily a 3.  A busted KU possession, and it may have been 62-51, moving the game essentially out of reach.

1:54 — in what I still maintain was the cornerstone of the entire comeback, Sherron Collins steals the inbound pass and, three passes later, drains a 3 from the deep corner, making the game 60-56.  The steal and J completely changed the complexion of the game, putting significantly more pressure on the Tigers.  With that 3, the game was suddenly a two-possession game even without three-pointers.

The rest of the game has been told and retold incessantly. Collins and CDR both missed layups following a block and foul, respectively.  Memphis made the next two free throws, but then CDR and Rose combined to go 1-for-5 from the line.  Meanwhile, Arthur made another basket, Joey Dorsey committed a stupid foul, leading to his disqualification and two points for KU, all setting up Collins and Chalmers for their 8 seconds of fame.

So Chalmers has The Shot, but I’m going to make it my personal mission to get people to refer to The Steal.

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Super Mario!

Posted by Fred on April 8, 2008

I’m not sure I’ve recovered yet from Mario Chalmers and the boys storming back from 9 points down with two minutes to go, in what was the best national championship game I’ve ever seen.  So, given that, here’s some stream of consciousness thoughts a day later:

  • The story lines are, as expected, the Chalmers three-pointer and CDR/Rose’s inability to make free throws. But don’t overlook the major role played by Sherron Collins. If Collins doesn’t steal an an-bounds pass and sink a three-pointer of his own, the ball game is over.  If Collins doesn’t hand the ball off to Chalmers, if he doesn’t avoid the foul Calipari desperately wanted his team to give, the ball game is over.  If Collins doesn’t shut down Rose for the first 28 minutes, Memphis wins in a romp.
  • KU’s depth was equally important. CDR played virtually the entire game. Rose actually did play the entire game. Neither had much gas in the tank in OT. Joey Dorsey’s fifth foul was the inevitable result of a tired big man playing against fresher legs.  So when Chalmers made the shot to send it to OT, the game was over, as Memphis looked lost playing without Dorsey.
  • I can’t believe we are doing it again, talking about the possible departure of a coach when the debris on Mass Ave hasn’t even been swept up yet.  In 2003, it was Roy Williams.  In 2008, it’s Bill Self, rumored to be on his way to Stillwater.  A lot of people got mad at Williams, but at least UNC is of equal caliber to KU.  OSU isn’t, even if it does have two championship banners from the 1940s.
  • When did we get to a place that big-time college coaches are expected to return to their alma mater at the first opportunity? Dean Smith and Adolph Rupp never returned to KU. Bob Knight never coached at Ohio State, nor Lefty Driesell at Duke.  Those are four of the five all-time winningest coaches.  Only Eddie Sutton ever coached at his alma mater.  Of the top 10 active coaches, only Bob Huggins can be said to have gone home again (Krzyzewski’s first job was at Army, and Jim Boeheim and Gary Williams’ sole coaching experience has been at their alma maters). But now we’re expected to “understand” if Roy Williams goes to UNC or Bill Self goes to OSU.  No. Be a man and build a program; don’t go running home to Mommy.
  • If Self does go, I won’t hate him, however.  He did win a championship.  For that matter, I never hated Williams for going to UNC.  For waiting until he left KU to finally win something, yes, but not for leaving.  If Self does go, maybe KU should protect against this in the future, by hiring an alum of their own.  Danny Manning is already on the staff, but is probably not ready.  Manning’s colleague Mark Turgeon turned the Wichita State program around, taking them to the Sweet Sixteen. His Texas A&M squad very nearly beat UCLA in this year’s tourney.
  • But in the end, this isn’t about coaches, even if they are the rock stars of the new one-and-done NCAA.  It’s about Mario Chalmers and the greatest jump shot in the history of KU basketball.  It’s about Brandon Rush coming back from a torn ACL to be the defensive force his brothers never were.  It’s about Darrell Arthur and Sasha Kaun throwing down dunks on lob passes. It’s about little Sherron Collins standing stealing the game away, about Cole Aldridge throttling Psycho-T, about Russell Robinson and all the rest.

As Dickie V would say, Rock Chalk Jayhawk, Baby.

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Rock Chalk Jayhawk

Posted by Fred on April 7, 2008

To get the blood flowing before tonight’s National Championship game, here’s a song, courtesy of the Kansas City Star and BicMedia:

And here’s the real thing, including the KU Alma Mater and Rock Chalk chant:

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KU Blasts UNC, Anti-Roy Closure Follows

Posted by Fred on April 7, 2008

I’ll be the first to admit it.  As satisfying as it was to watch the Jayhawks run out to a 42-10 lead over UNC, as relieving as it was to watch them withstand the inevitable UNC comeback, as thrilling as it was to watch the late-game run to turn the national semifinal back into a blowout, at least a part of me was happy to see Roy Williams on the other sideline, looking dejected (does any coach look more dejected when losing than Williams?):

This KU fan has more-or-less gotten over Roy’s abrupt departure following the 2003 title game loss.  I don’t hate him for leaving; that’s what big-time college coaches do.  I don’t even hate him for being disingenuous about his intentions. That’s also what big-time college coaches do.  I do wish he had learned to coach in big games before leaving town – that’s what burned about the 2005 UNC title.  So it was particularly satisfying for the road to KU’s first title in twenty years ran right through Ol’ Roy.  Not only that, but Bill Self totally schooled Roy Williams.  KU was better prepared and better coached. When UNC was mounting its comeback, Self used timeouts in a way Williams always refused to.  UNC never had an answer for Cole Aldrich, of all people, who scored on Tyler Hansborough and kept him off the glass when it counted.

I said Friday that the KU family needed some closure so it could move on.  Saturday’s beat-down provided it.  Maybe KU will beat Memphis tonight, maybe not.  I suspect Memphis has a distinct advantage, given the speed of their backcourt and the presence of Dorsey inside. But even if KU doesn’t win, Bill Self got a monkey off his back in making it this far (he clearly was tight in the Davidson game and loose in the Final Four game), and KU fans can now move on from hating Roy Williams and get back to hating Mizzou and K-State and UT, the way things were meant to be.

For what it’s worth, here’s a prediction: Memphis 84, Kansas 76. I certainly hope I’m wrong.

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Jayhawk Nation, like a (dysfunctional) family

Posted by Fred on April 4, 2008

In a previous post, I referred to Roy Williams as Benedict Williams, mostly in jest. many non-Jayhawks, however, wonder why the KU faithful won’t Let It Go. One of the Mikes (the short, skinny one, I think) made that point on ESPN Radio this morning.  ESPN’s Pat Forde is bemused by the whole thing:

But not this time. And there are plenty of Kansas fans who stopped cheering for Ol’ Roy five years ago.

In 2003, when he left the job he said three years earlier he’d never leave, the flak flew. Kansas fans have a rather lofty image of themselves — except where Carolina is involved. Dean Smith was a Kansas native and graduate who went to Carolina, became a legend and never went back. Roy was supposed to be their Dean, in reverse.

And then he dumped them.

The Times-Dispatch’s Bob Lipper manages to both chastise Kansans for not Letting It Go and condescendingly call the whole state a bunch of clueless hicks, all in the course of a single paragraph:

Got all that? Think it’s the stuff of recrimination and melodrama? Because there are folks in the land of Dorothy and Toto who somehow feel forever jilted because their guy became another school’s guy. Said folks choose to make a dust storm out of a prairie wind. And there’s usually someone with a note pad or minicam to keep fanning it.

I don’t bear Coach Williams any particular animus, but there is a bit of (perverted) logic to the way KU faithful feel toward the man.  Jayhawk Nation functions in a way like a really big, not particularly well-behaved, family.  There are a whole lot of reasons for this, some of which even make sense. Lawrence is a liberal island in a conservative sea, a place that steadfastly resists change in its own particularly uniform view of non-conformity.  That’s true of a lot of college towns, particularly ones in red states, and Kansas’ governor notwithstanding, it is a red state.

In addition, KU basketball fans feel a bit beleaguered. Despite having played basketball for over a century, despite having employed the inventor of basketball as its first coach, the team has but two NCAA titles to show for it, and one of those was the sixth-seeded Danny and the Miracles team of 1988.  This feeling is compounded by the historic pitifulness of the football team, although that may be changing under the current regime (or 2007 may just have been a quirk of Big 12 scheduling). For whatever reason, the team and its supporters have a family-like dynamic.

As everyone knows, being a part of a family can be good (warm hugs and turkey dinners) or bad (think the flying food scene in American Beauty). When Larry Brown hightailed it out of town just ahead of the NCAA sheriff, it was bad times.  Roy came in and acted like a good dad, making it good times.  Then he skipped town with the floozy in the Carolina Blue dress from the bar, and it was bad times again.

There are really two dysfunctional family dynamics going on here, depending on which of Roy’s sins offends you more:

1. The Jilted Lover

For some, it was Roy’s lying and skipping town that offend.  Williams and UNC flirted in 2000, but he expressed a commitment to the program and his players in telling Dean Smith no.  He said he wanted to stay at KU until he retired.  He said he felt an obligation to the kids.  Jayhawk Nation understood the draw UNC had for him, and respected his decision.  Had he left then, most would have been disappointed but supportive.  After all, he built a nice program and certainly stayed longer than Coach Brown did.

But only three years later, he ran out of town anyway.  He did so weeks after expressing his devotion to the program yet again. He did so days after cussing out a reporter for asking him about it, even though he had almost certainly accepted the offer at that point.  For some fans, this was his mortal sin — not that he went to UNC, but that he was dishonest about his plans.  This is what all coaches do, of course, but this is a family, not a basketball team, remember?  These fans are like lovers who had begun to think Roy was different, only do discover he was just like every other cheating cad.  And like jilted lovers, they won’t forgive him until they find another.  they’re working on their trust issues with Bill Self, but they’re not there yet.

2. The Bitter First Wife

For other fans, it’s not the lying or the leaving. It’s that in fifteen years, Williams built a great regular season basketball team that underachieved in March.  He could get the Jayhawks to the promised land, but couldn’t open the pearly gates. They were the first wives, supporting the husband while he went to college, waiting tables at night while he got his MBA, watching the kids while he ran a series of almost successful businesses.  Then the cheating cad dumped the first wife for his bottled blonde trophy wife from Chapel Hill and…

Almost immediately won a title at UNC in 2005.  Now he’s in prime position to win another one in 2008.  He underachieved in Lawrence for a decade and a half, dumped the first wife for an airhead with a boob job, then won two titles in five years.  The bitter ex-wife has two choices — revenge or acceptance.  Beating the Heels tomorrow night would take care of the former.  Moving on with Coach Self is harder, but would fit the latter.

Once a family starts down the spiral of dysfunction, most emerge one of three ways — counseling, closure or a material change in circumstances.  Family therapy seems unlikely.  Beating UNC or watching Roy fall on his face would provide closure. A successful program under Bill Self that doesn’t underachieve would provide a change in circumstances.  It makes KU fans sound crazy, but there it is – dysfunctional families very rarely just get over it.

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Is the Mid-Major Era Over Already?

Posted by Fred on March 21, 2008

Yesterday’s sixteen first round March Madness games suggest that we may be in for a repeat of last year’s chalk run, which gave us two #1 seeds and two #2s in the Final Four.  In 2007, there were but five upsets in the first two days, with three nine seeds (Purdue, Michigan State and Xavier) and two eleven seeds (VCU and Winthrop) coming out on top.  Once Winthrop decided not to play defense on Duke’s final possession yesterday, the biggest surprise was Kansas State over USC (which, given that K-State was near the top of the Big 12 all year wasn’t much of an upset).  All the talk over the last few years has been the Rise of the Mid-Majors, with debate over whether to exclude second-tier ACC teams to let in a second or third team from the WCC or Missouri Valley. So what happened? Have the smaller conferences gotten worse, or was it all a charade in the first place?

I looked at all of the first weekend games over the last 10 tourneys, and it appears that the sense that the smaller conferences are on the rise may be more myth than reality:

Conference W-L Pct
Big 6* 365-197 0.649
Big 6 + A-10 and C-USA 399-240 0.624
Everyone Else 81-240 0.252

* Big 6 includes the ACC, Big 10, Big 12, Big East, Pac 10 and SEC. Teams are assigned to the conference they are in currently (i.e. Louisville’s record goes in the Big East for all years).

There have been 480 winners over those 10 years (32 in the first round and 16 in the second each year). 83% have come from the eight power conferences, and 76% from the six BCS conferences.  Ah, but certainly the big upsets have come from the little guys, right?  Not really.  Since the NCAA began seeding all teams, there have been 299 victories by teams seeded 9 or higher (299-841 in all games, for a winning percentage of 26%).  The eight largest conferences are 151-269, while the remaining 24 are but 148-572.

The number of non-major conference victories in the first two rounds hasn’t changed all that much over the years, either:


There have always been a few victories, usually from the WCC, Colonial, Horizon or MVC.  But even in 2006, a year that eventually saw George Mason go all the way to the Final Four, 75% of the victories came from the big boys.  The question isn’t who will be this year’s Cinderella.  It’s whether the basketball version of the glass slipper wearer is any more real than the Disney one (with all that said, watch out for the #10 seeds today).

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Blogger Bracket 2008

Posted by Fred on March 18, 2008

I’ve decided to move ahead with a blogger-only NCAA tournament pool.  Details are on the Blogger Bracket page.

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Hey Bloggers – Win Prizes in the Blogger Bracket NCAA Pool!

Posted by Fred on March 7, 2008


March Madness is almost upon us, with conference tournaments starting today in the Colonial, Missouri Valley, Southern, Horizon, Atlantic Sun, Ohio Valley, America East, Metro Atlantic and West Coast Conferences.  The big boys wrap their regular seasons this weekend, culminating with conference championships and Selection Sunday on March 16.  The NCAA tournament thus really gets underway in 13 days.  Lots of people have blogs, and lots of bloggers like basketball, so I propose the first annual Bloggers Bracket, a tournament pool for bloggers.

The eligibility rules are simple.  To play, you must:

  1. Have a blog.  It is of course trivially easy to start a blog, so you must have at least ten posts prior to Selection Sunday.  Sploggers will be disqualified and humiliated to the extent possible.
  2. Provide a valid e-mail address on the entry, in case you win.
  3. Promote the contest in at least one post.  I’m not looking for a Page Rank boost, just more players, so write it out as a text link instead of a hyperlink if you have ethical concerns.
  4. There is no 4.

There will be prizes.  If you want to donate prizes, feel free to send an email.  If we get entries from at least 10 individuals, the grand prize will include at least the following:

  1. A $50 gift card from your choice of Amazon, Barnes & Noble or iTunes.
  2. Your choice of one of the following: 50 credits from, a two-year Flickr Pro upgrade or a one-year SmugMug membership.
  3. Eternal Glory.

If there are at least 25 entries, there will be an additional prize for the best picker of upsets.  If this is something you’re interested in, leave a comment here or check back for more updates (Blogger Bracket archive, feed) …

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NCAA Football 09 Is Coming For Wii!

Posted by Fred on February 15, 2008

ncaafb09 EA has announced their first NCAA football game for the Wii. We’ve been playing a lot of Madden NFL 08 on the Wii (strangely enough, the Browns offense with Charlie Frye at QB is really good, 2007 Patriots-before-the-Super Bowl good), so a college game would be welcome.  The NCAAA games have always been a bit of a mixed bag; EA gets the atmosphere of a college game to the T, but since they can’t license player names for college athlete, you get a lot of “TD; QB #10 pass to WR #9 for 13yds” instead of Taylor Tharp to Jeremy Childs.  Also, the time I played NCAA Football (which was, granted, more than 10 years ago), the triple option offenses were essentially unstoppable.  One presumes EA has addressed that.  Hopefully they’ve also addressed Madden 08’s propensity for face mask offenses.  They say they’ve kept the Family Play mode, which is good, and Madden’s Wiimote control scheme, which is more good than bad.


mascots Unlike NCAA Football 08, which featured a cover image of Boise State QB Jared Zabransky, NCAA Football 09 will feature a college mascot, and EA is having a contest to decide which one.  The last time someone did this, the Capital One Mascot Challenge, the winner was Akron’s Zippy the Kangaroo (did you know that Zippy is a she and has been around since 1953?).  I vote for Zippy this time, too, because (a) Akron needs some glory for a program most notable for Gerry Faust and Charlie Frye and (b) who doesn’t love kangaroos?

[via CrunchGear]

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