Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Just When You Think You Got The Answers...

I was a big fan of wrestling in the 80's.  One of my all time favorite wrestlers then was Rowdy Roddy Piper.   Piper has to be one of the funniest wrestlers ever and based on this recent internet skit, he still is.  His Piper Pit segments were downright hysterical.  And the above skit might have been the funniest one ever.   In this segment, Piper just verbally rips apart Frank Williams, who in wrestling terms, is a career "jobber", a guy who never won a match.  Piper finally decides to beat the jobber Williams up and throws him off the set.   And Piper finishes the segment with the classic line "Just when they think they got the answers, I change the questions!"

And that's a good lead-in to today's article.  There are times when you think you have a team figured out and then something happens that just leaves your head scratching.  And I will give you three teams today that fit that criteria.

I had been giving Old Dominion their props lately and deservedly so.  This is a team that so far this season had defeated Clemson, Xavier, Richmond and had Georgetown on the ropes for most of their game before losing by three points.   And I wrote my Ground and Pound article on the Monarchs before their terrific comeback against Richmond where Kent Bazemore put on a clinic over the span of six minutes in the second half.

So the Monarchs were 5-1 heading into their first CAA game at Delaware on Saturday. They were facing a Blue Hens team that finished at the bottom of the conference last season.   Now I know that in my CAA preview that I thought Delaware was much improved.   Little did I know that they would go out their home court at the Bob and defeat Old Dominion 75-67.   The Blue Hens dominated the Monarchs for the most of the game as ODU's last lead was 7-6 early in the first half.

Now there are just about always good reasons for why a good team loses to a lesser team.  Well first, usually the games are road games.  In this case, the game was at the Bob.  Check.  Another good reason is that the opponent's best player had a huge game.  Jawan Carter had 29 points on 6 of 12 shooting, all from beyond the arc and 11 of 15 from the line.  Check.   Another reason is ball possession.  The Monarchs only had 7 assists and 14 turnovers while the Blue Hens had only had 6 turnovers.  Finally, though ODU had 26 offensive rebounds, they couldn't convert the second chances as they shot 35 percent from the field.

Now one road loss to a supposedly lower half CAA team is certainly not a cause for concern, nor should it be a major factor if Old Dominion ends up having to fight for an at large NCAA bid.  However the Monarchs can't afford too many more losses like this.   But if any ODU fans had any concerns, the Monarchs alleviated them last night as they came from behind with a strong second half and came away with an impressive road win, 81-68 over East Carolina.   And by the way, Delaware knocked off a previously 7-1 Hampton team on their home court tonight.  So it looks like the Blue Hens are much improved.

Another team that suffered a head scratching loss was Texas on Sunday night to USC.  Now I saw Texas play quite impressively vs Illinois in the 2K Classic at MSG.  The Longhorns beat the Fightin Illini 90-84 in OT.  The Longhorns would barely lose to Pitt the next night in the championship game.   Texas was playing the Trojans on their home court.  But USC had struggled mightily so far.  The Trojans lost at home by TWENTY to Rider and had lost two straight to Nebraska and TCU.   Texas hadn't lost since losing to Pitt and were ranked #20 in the country.

So, what happens?  Of course, USC wins by 17 over Texas.  And you had factors similar to the ODU/Delaware game.  Road game at Galen Center.  Check.  Trojans best player has a huge night.  Nikola Vucevic scores a career high 24 points.  Check.    Team shoots poorly from the field.  The Longhorns shoot 32 percent on the night.  Check.

The Longhorns have games coming up against North Carolina next week and a few days after at Michigan State so they will need to right themselves quickly.  Judging by the way they played against Illinois and Pitt, I think they will be ok.

Then last night, St John's hosted St Bonaventure.   The Red Storm had been on a roll.  Since losing their first game on the road to a good Saint Mary's team, St John's had won five straight.  Grant you, their best win was the Great Alaska Shootout Championship win over Arizona State, but still 5-1 is a decent record.  So you would think that the Jonnies would beat the Bonnies last night at Carnesecca Arena.

Well, guess again.  An Andrew Nicholson shot with five seconds left gave St. Bonaventure a one point win, 67-66 over St John's.   How did the Bonnies beat the Jonnies?   Well, Michael Davenport and Nicholson combined for 41 points.   The Bonnies also outrebounded the Red Storm 35-24.  Finally,  throw in St Bonaventure shooting 18 of 22 from the line while St John's shot only 10 of 20 from the line.  Mix well and you have an upset for the A10 team.

Finally, I wanted to note an interesting article from "The Dagger", the Yahoo Sports National College Basketball blog.  The College of Charleston snagged a Top 30 prospect in Adjehi Baru, a six foot nine inch forward from the Ivory Coast.  Now apparently Baru was being courted by North Carolina, Kentucky and Maryland..  But apparently CofC coach Bobby Cremins, no stranger to recruiting players for an elite Power  6 team in Georgia Tech,  said Charleston had something for Baru that the other three schools didn't have.
"Once I went out and saw (Baru) play in July, I thought his recruitment would blow up but the family kept telling me that all he talks about is Charleston, Charleston, Charleston," Cremins said. "What a beautiful city it is, the beaches, the warm weather. They told me not to give up."
Now having been in Charleston myself for the inaugural 2008 Charleston Classic, I can tell you all of that is true.  Charleston is a fun city.  You are right on the water, the warm weather (we were there in November and it was in the 70's/80's), the great food and the nightlife.  And the school is in the heart of the city.  It's really a great place to go to school.

Now, what also probably helped get Baru is that Cremins offered a scholarship to Baru's friend, Patrick Branin, who is also the son of Baru's guardian, Tim.  Now even Cremins basically admits this was a two for one deal by describing Bramin as a practice player.  He goes further about Patrick Bramin saying "Can he ever start here? Right now, no. But he can definitely help us in practice and who knows he might get better".

But hey, at least Cremins is honest and if you don't think the Power 6 schools do similar things, well I have a lovely bridge in Manhattan for sale.  Remember, just when you think you got the answers...

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