I don't know about you, but I can't wait for the next countdown clock as to how much longer until the next Michigan-Ohio State game. I know we don't get a #1 vs. #2 match-up in the regular season every year, but good grief, Charlie Brown. ESPN even dusted off that wretched commercial of the guy with the Ohio State shirt making out with the woman with the Michigan shirt.
ESPN is not the only perpetrator of this phenomenon, but the countdown clock is everywhere. We count down to the NBA and NFL Drafts, the Super Bowl, the start of the Indianapolis 500 – whatever. It got me to thinking about what sorts of countdown clocks I would like to see:
- Countdown to next Isiah Thomas questionable personnel move
- Countdown to next Dennis Green meltdown
- Countdown to next Brian Urlacher story that he's (inaccurately) overrated
- Countdown to next Michael Irvin comment that sucks up to Ray Lewis, Steve Smith or Terrell Owens
- Countdown to next Mark Prior simulated game
- Countdown to the next time "Hawk" Harrelson is convinced there are two different strike zones
- Countdown to next Blackhawks sellout (timed in years)
Television commercial commentary of the week: I really don't have an opinion on the Miller Lite "Man Law" commercials. To me, they're slightly creative and slightly annoying, and you know Miller Lite is already thinking about doing the counterpoint commercials called "Woman Law". Here's the one pervasive thought I have when I watch them, though: who ARE these people? Four or five of them are pretty recognizable to the target demographic: Burt Reynolds, Jerome Bettis, Jimmy Johnson, the wrestler Triple H, maybe Eddie Griffin. But then why are they meshed in with ten others that nobody knows? And why aren't the same people sitting around the table each time? And where exactly is this table located, in the middle of the video game movie "Tron"? And why are these the designated spokesmen for me as a man? I'm disgusted with this whole thing the more I write about it.
As Billy posted earlier in the week, according to a lawsuit filed by a Norfolk, Virginia lawyer, former Memphis basketball player Shawne Williams received approximately $50,000 in cash and other items while at school. (I tried to post the link, but it looks like the link has died since Billy posted the story last Thursday. Luckily, I got the quotes before it did.)
Two things stand out about this story to me:
1) Williams' agent's name is "Happy" Walters. If you're in need of someone to give you rock-solid representation against some serious allegations, do you really want someone named "Happy" to be your biggest defender? In fact, from the story: "When asked whether his client received anything from La Mondue, Walters replied: ‘He did not, as far as I know. Unequivocally, he did not.'" So which is it, "Happy"? Did he not receive anything at all, or just as far as you know?
2) "An official of the University of Memphis, where Shawne Williams played one season before jumping to the NBA, said the university would investigate the allegations." Let me take a shot in the dark at how this university "investigation" is going to go…
Representative #1: "Coach, did you see Shawne Williams with $50,000 worth of cash and other stuff around campus?"
Representative #1: "Sweet."
Representative #2: "Coach, did you see Shawne Williams with $50,000 worth of cash and other stuff around campus?"
Representative #2: "I knew it. Let's go get some barbecue and celebrate."
The next day, Memphis calls a news conference and releases this statement: "Based on independent reviews from the Athletics and Compliance Departments, we have found no evidence of wrongdoing…"
According to this cnn.com story, the U. S. government says about one percent of Web sites indexed by Google and Microsoft are sexually explicit. And with hard work, dedication, and good old American know-how, we can all do our part to get that number even higher in the future!
In a related story, in a recent study, 99% of men stated that the single greatest invention in world history was the Internet. The light bulb came in second.
On to this week's games…
Bradley: The Braves move to 2-0 against Division I this week with an 81-72 home win over UIC. This week, Bradley plays Florida A&M, then to Chicago for a neutral site game against Rutgers.
Northwestern: After the Wildcats won the taffy pull in Evanston over the Demons, they went to the West Coast and lost to the Stanford Cardinal 58-53. Northwestern is now 1-2, with home games against Brown and North Florida upcoming.
Eastern Illinois: With the loss at DePaul, the Panthers have now fallen to 0-4. They try to get in the win column for the first time hosting Wisconsin-Green Bay, then actually play their first conference game against perennial Ohio Valley Conference power Murray State.
Kentucky: The Wildcats started their season with two home victories over Miami (OH) and Mississippi Valley State. Their trip to Maui will occupy the rest of their week.
Kansas: Well, everyone knows what happened to the Jayhawks this week, a stunning loss at home to Oral Roberts 78-71. Luckily, Pat Kennedy's Towson squad came calling, and they are generally the cure for what ails you. Kansas won easily, 87-61. This week, Kansas hosts Tennessee State, then goes to Las Vegas to play Ball State and Florida in a neutral-site tournament.
Chicago State: The Cougars hung in at a very tough venue but eventually lost to Wichita State, then dropped their third consecutive road game of the season at Indiana. Chicago State has just one game this week, their home opener against Wright State. (Did you notice that I just mentioned three teams in one paragraph with "State" in their name, yet none of them are states? No wonder kids don't know geography.)
UAB: The Blazers fell to .500 with a loss at the hand of Steve Buscemi-coached Wyoming 93-87. (Take a look at these headshots of Buscemi and Wyoming Head Coach Steve McClain and see what you think. Buscemi:
UAB only has one game this week…again these same Wyoming Cowboys. Not sure what the deal is here why they're playing back to back, but I'm sure there's a good reason.
Wake Forest: The Demon Deacons are off to a 3-0 start. They went to Bucknell at beat them in overtime (in a win that may really help come NCAA Tournament time), then clobbered Elon at home. This week, Wake hosts Vanderbilt and Appalachian State.
Rhode Island: The Rams are off to an awful start. After dropping a wild 102-99 game in overtime to Houston, URI went to the Top of the World Classic and lost to Troy. That put them in the consolation bracket against non-Division I Alaska-Fairbanks, against whom they eked out a win. Finally, they salvaged a D-I win over Centenary in their finale. Rhode Island returns to the contiguous United States for just one game this week, at Boston College.
UC-Irvine: It was an odd week for the Anteaters. First, they defeated South Carolina at home 67-52, then went up to Eugene and got completely waxed by Oregon 85-42. This week, UC-Irvine has a tough away game at Nevada, then hosts Pepperdine.
California: Ooh, this one could hurt later in the season. Although the Bears slipped by Utah Valley State at home, they stumbled at San Diego State 86-79. The Bears get one more tune-up at home against Santa Clara, then head up to Alaska for the Great Alaskan Shootout (not to be confused with the Top of the World Classic). First game there: Marshall. No word on whether Matthew McConaughey will be in attendance.
Northwestern State: The Demons had two tough road games this week and dropped them both. First, they fought tooth and nail but finally fell at Oklahoma State 79-76. Then Louisville took them to task 100-87. Only one game this week, an away game at New Orleans.
This Week in the Big East
Cincinnati: After an exhaustive effort in defeating Howard, Tennessee Martin and High Point (which sounds like a team from "White Men Can't Jump"), Cincinnati relaxed without a game. They get rolling again with Wofford and Central Michigan in this upcoming week.
Connecticut: The Huskies were victorious three times on Friday, Saturday and Sunday in the Hispanic College Fund Classic, defeating Central Arkansas, Fairfield and Mississippi in succession. UConn has only one game on the schedule, but it's against a familiar foe, the Albany Great Danes. Remember them? They had a double-digit lead on Connecticut in the second half of their first-round NCAA Tournament game last season before finally falling.
Georgetown: Georgetown had a nice victory this week at Vanderbilt, but then got stunned at home yesterday by Old Dominion. Only one game this week for the Hoyas, at Fairfield.
Louisville: As mentioned, the Cardinals won their only game this week over Northwestern State. This week, they're playing Dayton in what's being considered a neutral site game in Cincinnati.
Marquette: The collective sigh you heard from up north was either an adverse reaction to some bratwurst or the reaction to a near upset at the hands of Idaho State. Nevertheless, the Golden Gold came out victorious, then crunched Detroit and Eastern Michigan to move to 3-0. Marquette gets the week off this week.
Notre Dame: In the "hope this doesn't come back to bite us" category, the Fighting Irish started the week with a loss to Butler. However, they rebounded with victories over Lafayette and The Citadel. ND has this week off, presumably to let the fan base mentally prepare for the football team's battle with USC on Saturday.
Pittsburgh: The Wannstedts coasted to four home victories this week over Delaware State, Northeastern, Massachusetts and Oakland (MI). Yippee. This upcoming week marks the sixth consecutive home game to start the season against the perpetual sleeper/underachiever of the ACC, Florida State.
Rutgers: So much for all those James Gandolfini shots, as the Rutgers football team lost at Cincinnati and blew any shot at a national title. The basketball team blew its chance at an undefeated season right out of the gate, losing at home to Kansas State 55-41. This week, the Scarlet Knights have a home game against Jackson State, then travel to Chicago to play Bradley.
Now let's take a second and answer some mail. Polite e-mails will always be addressed in this column. Impolite e-mails will receive responses in private, as I will just assume they came from my family.
Last week I made a snide comment (I know, shocking) about Kansas State referring to them as a "traveling team from the Kansas Penal System". Here is an e-mail Billy received from a Kansas State fan that he forwarded to me (I didn't get your name, or else I would have printed it):
"We have had no instances of bad behavior since the Bob Huggins took over. There have been quotes about extra work for players who miss a class. I don't think we at Kansas State should get this type of reputation until we earn it. Take a look at the University of Kansas if you want. They are the only team in the state that has had a player in court this season. Print the facts."
I'm not going to get in the middle of a Kansas-Kansas State argument, but the point is taken. So far, K-State hasn't done anything under Huggins to warrant a renegade reputation. Of course, my opinion is that the key words there are "so far". He's only been on the job eight months there. According to the University of Cincinnati, 21 players under his 16-year tenure had "significant encounters with law enforcement" (quoting a collegehoopsnet.com article). I tried to find a timeline of the players and when their run-ins with the law occurred, but I couldn't. I would hazard a guess that none of them occurred during Huggins' first eight months on the job at Cincinnati. The storm of legal trouble is coming to Manhattan, too. If I'm wrong, I'm wrong, and I will freely admit it. I have no axe to grind with Huggy Bear, especially now that he's no longer in the same conference as DePaul. It's just hard to overlook historical precedent in this case at the moment.
Providence: It was a split decision this week for the Friars, who started by defeating Fairleigh Dickinson, then took an awful home loss against Brown. Two more games at home this week for Providence, although against slightly more difficult competition: Boston College and George Washington.
St. John's: The Red Storm got to play in their home arena for the semi-finals and the consolation games of the "2K Sports College Hoops Classic". They dropped the semi-final game in unimpressive fashion, 92-60 to Maryland, then missed a shot at the buzzer which would have given them an upset over Texas. St. John's only has one game this week, against Illinois State.
Seton Hall: You wonder how much the fan base there is stewing after the Bobby Gonzalez era starts with a five-point home loss to Fairleigh Dickinson. The Pirates have the rest of the week to figure out what went wrong, as they don't play until Saturday, at Morgan State.
South Florida: No truth to the rumor that South Florida is petitioning the NCAA to end the season today and make NCAA selections based on current records and RPI. The Bulls are 2-0 after victories over Buffalo and South Carolina State. This week holds only one game, a home tilt against Florida International. You can (and probably should) throw out the records when these two titans tangle.
Syracuse: Another week, another home win for the Orange, who move to 4-0 with a win over Northeastern. This week, their only home game is against Charlotte. For those who may have questioned DePaul's move to the Big East, I would like to point to Charlotte as Exhibit A for why this move made sense for DePaul, even if they're overmatched. Charlotte was a regular NCAA Tournament team as part of Conference USA. Now in the Atlantic 10, they've been relegated to irrelevance. Without looking it up, can you tell me how they did last year? And this year already, the 49ers have an 18-point home loss to North Texas. You can only be the best if you constantly challenge yourself against the best, and the non-BCS conferences rarely allow you to do that outside of extremely aggressive non-conference scheduling. I probably should have devoted more space to Syracuse here, but they're boring right now.
Villanova: The Wildcats started their party in the Virgin Islands by defeating the College of Charleston 81-68, then fell to Xavier. They have one more game down there against Iowa. Once they return to the mainland, Villanova has Navy on Saturday.
West Virginia: The Pittsnogles moved their record 2-0 against Division I on the young season, although it came at the expense of a not-so-challenging Canisius squad at Morgantown. This week, they're playing in the "Old Spice Classic", with their first game against Montana. Should they take it personally that they were invited to play in a tournament sponsored by a deodorant?
Let's go, Demons.