Monday, March 30, 2009

Carson and the Ocho No Show

Like a bird that keeps flying into the same window and knocking itself silly, the Bengals are knocking themselves silly with another season of Chad Ocho Cinco. Those made available by the Bengals at Monday's news conference cannot be held completely accountable on this issue. This, like the Chris Henry decision last year, must be coming from above the head of Marvin Lewis. Forget must, of course it comes from above the head of Marvin Lewis. It comes from Mike Brown. Brown's inability to connect the dots between off-field distractions and on-field success is maddening. But that might be one of the least maddening things about Brown. I digress. As the "voluntary" program begins Chad Ocho Cinco is expected to be thousands of miles away, working out in California with his junior college coach. Apparently Chad has some eligibility left at Santa Monica College. Apparently Chad accomplished all he needed to accomplish in Cincinnati last season. Apparently there is no need to work things out with a franchise quarterback who missed the last 11 games in 2008. Carson didn't appear to be in much of a mood on Monday to talk about the missing wide receiver.
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Carson said something very similar last year when Chad missed all of the voluntary programs. Of course nothing happened. Carson doesn't get to call the shots on personnel. I implore Carson, I mean I really, really, really want him to go into Mike Brown's office, pound his fist on that overpriced, underused, taxpayer funded desk, and tell Mike that "the problem" needs to go and go now. Then I want him to tell Mike to take Ocho Cinco with him.

Here is Mick Cronin on Sports Rock.

If you didn't see it, why not? What else do you have to do on a Sunday night at 11:35? The U.C. head coach was our guest along with former player Alex Meacham. If you saw the show you'll see Mick is a lot like the rest of us local sports nuts. He's well versed in all of the Cincinnati sports happenings. After Mick and Alex hit the hot topics with me and Ken, we concentrated on U.C. basketball in the third and final segment. Towards the end of the segment is where Mick talks about his situation and if he feels he's under the gun to make it to the tournament next year. I may be biased, (okay, I am) but I think it is pretty good stuff.

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Sports Rock, Every Sunday Night at 11:35 on WLWT

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Mick Cronin To Appear On Sports Rock. Alex Will Be Here Too.



U.C. head basketball coach Mick Cronin will appear on Sports Rock Sunday night. Joining Mick will be current basketball guru and former U.C. player Alex Mecham. Ken and I will hit them up on the hot basketball topics including the ousting of Billy Clyde Gillispie at Kentucky. Our third segment will focus completely on the status of the U.C. basketball program. Friday U.C. announced Alvin Mitchell is off the team and Mike Williams will not be applying for a sixth season. Mick has been living on the recruiting trail lately so this is a nice chance to catch up with him. It should be a good time.

SPORTS ROCK, SUNDAY NIGHT AT 11:35!!!

I think Billy G. is going to get his money.

There seems to be confusion over the reported $6 million buyout clause for ousted U.K. basketball coach Billy Gillispie. At the news conference Friday, Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart said a settlement with Gillispie will be less than $6 million. U.K. President Lee Todd Jr. said that as far as the University is concerned, Billy's deal was on a year to year basis. I bet all of that is a serious piece of news to Gillispie and his legal representation. I also think Barnhart and Todd are full of something you'll find in a barn at Keeneland. The now ultra-famous "Memorandum of Understanding" contradicts the U.K. administration in plain black and white text. A link to the full document will follow this post, but here's the crux of the matter:
"The employment contract will be for a period of 7 years with an option for a 2 year extension after a 24 month review at the University's discretion. " I'm not a legal-eagle or a university president, but that doesn't say year-to-year in my book.
Also, "A termination without cause by the University provision that will require payment of $1,500,000 per year for the remainder of the term of the contract, provided the payment for termination without cause shall not exceed 48 months."
So Billy had 5 years left on the deal, but the termination payment caps at 4 years. (48 months)
I do know some math, and I do know 4 multiplied by $1,500,000 equals $6 million. Also consider that when Barnhart had to defend the "Memorandum" in the past and explain why there was no signed formal contract, he claimed the "Memorandum" has the parameters that would define a contract.
Even the opening paragraph of the memorandum states that it presents "the material terms of our offer..."
Of course there will be legal wrangling and posturing and maybe Billy settles for something less, but that piece of paper Barnhart signed with Gillispie at Barnhart's home less than 2 years ago could end up costing Kentucky a nice sized ranch.

http://media.kentucky.com/smedia/2007/11/15/15/Gillispie-Memo_of_Understanding_4-6-07.source.prod_affiliate.79.pdf

Friday, March 27, 2009

NCAA Tournament Viewing Pleasure?

Why is the NCAA still in the stone ages when it comes to televising it's showcase tournament? Let's say I have cable television, its any Saturday in January, do you know how many regular season games I can watch? 12? 15? Maybe more? That's without buying the Full Court package. So why in the world when the NCAA gets down to the most important games of the year we get our choice of watching one? I'm told with a dish I could be seeing both Regional games played at the same time, or I could stream the other game on the computer. But when Wofford is playing Davidson in January while U.C. is playing Georgetown and Kentucky is playing Arkansas I can flip between all three games on my nice, high resolution television. This makes no sense and it needs to be fixed in the next contract. More channels, more games, the sooner the better. I know I'm spoiled but it makes no sense that I can see a bajillion regular season games but don't have access to all of the tournament games. Those dastardly TV people sure can mess things up!

Billy Clyde Gone, Now What?

Not only does the health of Mitch Barnhart's career rest on his next big decision, so does the health of Kentucky basketball. The current spunk of Big Blue basketball would fit in a Rupp Arena restroom right now. The fans aren't gone, the support and passion haven't left, but all that remains of the mystique is hanging in the rafters. Kentucky can't take another two years like the two just completed. On the surface, it wouldn't be fair to pull the plug on a coach after just two seasons. But there was the Kentucky way and the Billy G way, and the Kentucky way always wins in Lexington. It should. It has worked for a long time. So yes, it was fair to deep-six Billy after two seasons that seemed to become more dysfunctional by the day. It wasn't fair to hire him in the first place. Hindsight is 20-20, but Kentucky should have known if their man would relish life in a fishbowl. Pitino took to Lexington like a Calumet Farms' yearling to the race track. Same for Tubby. Maybe Billy G fooled U.K. during their mating dance. Kentucky can't afford to be fooled again. Same with Athletics Director Barnhart.

Who is really twisting in the wind at Kentucky?

Rumors, reports, and speculation have been sweeping across the Commonwealth of Kentucky, creating a windstorm that has Billy Clyde Gillispie twisting and turning with no apparent control of his own fate. Thursday evening television station WHAS in Louisville reported several sources saying Gillispie will not be returning as the head coach at Kentucky next season. Notice the report doesn't say he had been fired. U.K. responds with a release that says “UK men’s basketball coach Billy Gillispie has not been fired. There have been no meetings between Gillispie and UK officials today and there is no scheduled press conference for tomorrow”. Notice the statement doesn't say Gillispie is coming back to coach next season. So what the heck is going on? What makes the most sense to me is this: Kentucky wants Billy gone, but only if they have the right coach to replace him. It will cost Kentucky $6 million to send him packing. A steep price in this economy, and very tough to explain amid rising tuition prices and cuts elsewhere around the university. Sure, Kentucky has high rolling donors to cover the cost. But would Bobby Joe Bigbucks and company want to cover the cost unless they know their money is good enough to bring in Billy Donovan, John Calipari, or another coach who has been there-done that? Hey, Gillispie is going to get his either way, 6 million smackers or another season to coach the Wildcats. After next season, he is still owed $6 million if he's forced out. Meanwhile U.K. Director of Athletics Mitch Barnhart knows he has to get this one right. Not only right, but he has to get a coach with instant credibility. Those don't come easy and they don't come cheap. It could happen, and maybe Barnhart has it under control and a new coach is ready to roll as soon as possible. Or maybe it's Barnhart who is twisting in the wind.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Fields Dream Is Nightmare For X

Tell me Levance Fields was awake when he hit that big 3 for Pitt. If I'm Pitt coach Jamie Dixon and I see Fields jacking that long 3 with 52 seconds left, I'm throwing up. But Dixon wasn't throwing up, because he had seen it before. His trusty senior point guard once again comes up with an improbable play to steal a win from another stunned opponent. Fields connected to give Pitt the lead, and the Panthers took it to the wire, winning 60-55. Fields was 1-4 from 3-point range before the fateful shot and had struggled with most aspects of his game. But every player was struggling in this one. And Fields has made big plays for Pitt time after time, and this time was in the final minute of a close game against Xavier. He made another big play 20 seconds later with a steal and a layup.

Sean Miller will be lying awake all night after this one. If the Musketeers had not booted several bunnies, they would be heading to the Elite Eight for the second year in a row. Xavier played a terrific first half, but not scoring the first 6-plus minutes of the second half caught up to X. Give Pitt credit. The Panthers smartly got big DeJuan Blair involved in the offensive game plan early in the second half. Blair seemed to spring to life, finishing with 17 rebounds, 8 on the offensive end. But Xavier has to feel like this one got away.


Note to acknowledge the betting public- The line on this game was Pitt-6, or -7. Pitt won by 5. Pitt bettors have to be steamed that Xavier scored one of its buckets after the shot clock expired. Oops.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Almost Game Time: What Will The Blair Project Be?

Xavier hit the floor this afternoon for an open practice at the TD Banknorth Garden in Boston. This East region semifinal between Xavier and Pitt should be a good one, and a bruising one. Xavier will have to bang with 6-7, 265 lb. DeJuan Blair. The Panthers big man averages a double-double (15.8 ppg, 12.3 rpg). He is tops in the nation in offensive rebounding, average 5.5. an outing. Overall, Blair has ripped down 187 offensive rebounds this season. By contract, Jason Love leads Xavier with 80. On top of that Blair seems to get them at critical junctures of the game. But as we said earlier this week, Xavier has a couple of big bodies to run at him, Love and freshman Kenny Frease. So there exists the possibility Xavier can work like heck to get Blair in foul trouble. Sean admits that is part of the plan, but he's not going to sell the soul of his team to make it happen.

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This part of the game is big. In Pitt's four losses this season, Blair fouled out in three of them and was dealing with 4 fouls in the other.

You should have seen him then.

Xavier players have been reminded plenty of times this week about the collegiate career of their head coach, Sean Miller. Miller has an outstanding career playing for Thursday night's opponent, the Pitt Panthers. He left the school as the Panther's all-time assists leader and scored over 12-hundred points. It's something he doesn't take about a lot with his players, unless he needs to prove a point to the players running the point. C.J. Anderson talked about that earlier in the week.

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Here's a link about Sean in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:
http://pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/s_617476.html

Sean Miller (1987-92) 6-1, Guard, Beaver Falls, PA
  • Named the 1987-88 Big East Freshman of the Year
  • Named Big East Rookie of the Week four times in 1987-88
  • Ranks tied for 16th on Pitt's all-time career scoring list (1,282 points)
  • Selected to the Big East All-Rookie Team in 1987-88
  • Ranks 10th all-time among NCAA Division I career free throw percentage leaders (.885)
  • Led the Big East two times in season free throw percentage (1990-91 and 1991-92)
  • Earned a Gold Medal on the United States' 1991 World University Games team in 1991
  • Currently serves as head basketball coach at Xavier University
  • YearGPFGFGAPctFGFGAPctFTFTAPctAstBlkStlPtsAvg
    87-883186186.46258133.4365767.8511800312879.3
    88-893080199.40256143.3927481.9141811272909.7
    90-9133100225.44468156.4367684.90515921734410.4
    91-923497235.41357142.401110126.87322442736110.6
    TOTAL128363845.430239574.416317358.8857447102128210.0
    Courtesy:University of Pittsburgh/PittsburghPanthers.cstv.com

    The Old Cliche: Guard Play is Big in March

    You know the drill, a lot cliches become cliches because they are true. In the first two games of the tournament Xavier's guards have done a good job running the show from the point. Dante Jackson and Terrell Holloway combined for an assist to turnover ratio of just under 2 to 1,, which is better than their regular season average. Factor in their pressure defense and so far, so good for Dante and Terrell.

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    Fields has been off the charts for Pitt this season. His assist to turnover ratio is a little under four. Anything above 2 to 1 is considered good, 3 to 1 is superb, so you get the picture as far as Pitt's senior point man is concerned.

    Dante says Pitt is tough, but so is X.

    You know the story. The Big East has big players, strong players, bruising players, and yes, tough players. After all, it was the Big East that turned basketball into basketbrawl. Muscle became more standard equipment than jump shots. The Georgetown Hoyas with Michael Graham ready to bash his bald head into anything that got in the way of a victory. Jerome Lane ripping rims from backboards. They put the Big in the Big East. Certainly Pitt's DeJuan Blair does that now. But any long time observer (at my age I qualify) has noticed the transformation of the Xavier program. Muscle is in at Xavier these days, just check out B.J. Raymond. He's huge, almost to the point of needing tethered like a balloon in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade. Jason Love has muscled up in his days at X, and C.J. Anderson is rough and ready near the bucket. Dante Jackson is ready for a war in Boston against Pitt, and I think he's right.
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    A physical struggle indeed. Look at the match ups in the Sweet 16. There are some good ones. But there is not one match on the board that will involve more ice bags, ace bandages, and perhaps stitches than the Xavier-Pittsburgh match up. Have fun fellas. Glad I'm watching this scrum.

    Monday, March 23, 2009

    Does Pitt play like Xavier? Or....

    ...does Xavier play like Pitt? In an earlier post I pointed out how similar I felt the styles of the two teams seem to be. I feel both of these team are defensive stoppers, but if they have to create points in a hurry and go on the run, they will. That's a huge difference between Wisconsin and Pitt. I had a chance to ask Sean Miller at his Monday news conference if he felt the teams were similar. I think he would have told me I was crazy if I happened to be way off base. For once, I must not have been way off.

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    It's interesting Sean would concede that the stats could be skewed a little because of the differences in competition, and I'm sure he's dead-on right. The Big East was ridiculous this year. But Pitt's plus 9 rebounding margin in Big East play was identical to the Panthers' plus 9 overall. Like Xavier, Pitt played a fair non-conference schedule with games against Siena, Washington State, Florida State, Texas Tech, and the Miami Redhawks. Pitt's only losses came in Big East play against Louisville, Villanova, Providence, and then West Virginia in the Big East tournament.

    Holmes Big Victory Celebration

    The Bulldogs celebrated their Kentucky Boys State Basketball title in style with the student body and faculty Monday morning. Former Holmes greats like Dicky Beal and Doug Schloemer made appearances. Coach Doug Henley introduced the team and some of the team members trotted out the big championship trophy. Henley even received a stylish haircut since his wings were getting a little long and he promised he would get them trimmed if the 'Dawgs won him a big piece of hardware. What a ride for Holmes. After beating crowd favorite Elliott County Saturday morning, the Bulldogs came back with a wild double overtime win in the championship game Saturday night over Central. Holmes senior JaMel Riley shares his feelings about the whole championship experience. (Something I've never had to attempt, unless softball counts)

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    Sean Miller's most famous assist at Pitt

    With Miller and the Musketeers facing Pitt in the sweet 16, it's time to roll this golden oldie out. January 25, 1988, at Fitzgerald Field House against Providence, Miller makes a nice pass, and the rest is history. In case you didn't remember, it's Jerome Lane with the dunk.

    Xavier vs Pitt should be another grinder.

    Sean Miller offers further proof that a coach knows his team better than he knows himself. The way Xavier played Wisconsin Sunday is the exact blueprint Miller laid out. It worked darn near to perfection. But what will the blueprint be against Pitt? Like Wisconsin, Pitt loves the grind it out, defensive type of affair. The rub is this: Pitt has an offense, and a very good one, averaging 78 points per game. Does Wisconsin even have an offense? In a word, no. Also, Pitt rebounds the ball on both ends of the floor. The Panthers are just a shade behind Michigan State for tops in rebounding margin. Xavier is right there, ranked 5th heading into the tournament. From a style and statistical standpoint, I see these teams as very similar. Except for DeJuan Blair. The 6'7", 265 lb. Sherman tank had 27 points and 16 rebounds in the win over Oklahoma State Sunday. Heck, he averaged about 16 ppg and 12 rpg during the season. But Pitt has no one behind him if he gets in foul trouble. Xavier has two big men (Love and Frease) to run at Blair. That's 9-10 fouls to get 5 on Blair. I look for Xavier to go at him early and see what happens.

    Other notes of interest: Pitt has never made it past the sweet 16 since the field expanded to 64 teams.
    The Panthers made it to the Elite Eight in 1974, but the field was 32 teams and it took just 2 wins to make it. Two wins is the best Pitt has ever managed in an NCAA tournament. The Panther did go to the Final Four in 1941, but the NCAA tournament consisted of just 8 teams. Pitt's lone win in that tournament put the Panthers in the Final Four where they lost to eventual 1941 champ Wisconsin, 36-30.
    Sean Miller shares the Pitt record for most minutes played in an NCAA tournament game, playing all 45 in an overtime game against Vandy in 1988. Sean is second in career tournament assists, and second on Pitt's all-time assists list. Sean is second only to current Pitt point guard Levance Fields in assists to turnover ratio.
    Sean doing his thing at Pitt:

    Sunday, March 22, 2009

    Connor The Barbarian Visits The Rock

    Conner Barwin made his way to the Sports Rock set. He's had quite a nice career at U.C., helping the basketball program when the roster was lean, then blossoming as a football player. He transformed himself from a tight end to a defensive end, and is now a possible first round pick in next month's NFL draft. At U.C.'s pro day last Thursday, Barwin put on a display that wowed the scouts on hand. That was part of the conversation.

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    Connor has spoken to current U.C. player Demetrius Jones about making a position switch. Jones will go from quarterback to linebacker, and Connor thinks it will be a terrific move. Certainly the U.C. defense will have to replace a lot, 10 starters to be exact, including the NFL bound Barwin. More Sports Rock coming up next Sunday night at 11:35 on Channel 5.

    Friday, March 20, 2009

    It's that simple. Defense wins.

    At least that's what Sean Miller says. After seeing his Xavier Musketeers against Portland State, I don't think the Vikings would stand much chance against Xavier on their best day. But they were having a pretty good day, shooting 56% in the first half. That's when Miller said enough is enough, play some defense and win the darn game. After allowing 35 points in the first half, X clamped down and allowed just 24 in the second. That's how you cruise to a win. Portland still shot almost 48% for the game, but Xavier was deadly efficient on offense, shooting 54% for the game while committing just 7 turnovers. Nice start by the Muskies.

    Who will be first to fall? Homer to 'pen sounds good.

    There were no big upsets on day one. The only thing close was Western Ky. over Illinois and we could see that one coming a mile away. Another 12 seed over a 5 could be coming today when Arizona takes on Utah. If a big one doesn't fall today, could it happen Saturday when Maryland meets Memphis?

    I'm really starting to like the idea of Homer Bailey starting the season in the bullpen. Preferably in a long to middle relief role. There will be little pressure, he gets a chance to immerse himself in the major league experience, and most importantly, perhaps gets some much needed success at the big-time level.
    Bailey was a lost pup last season when he went through the worst stretch of his baseball career. This would be a good way to build him back up.

    Thursday, March 19, 2009

    Almost Kaboom! Memphis survives a scare.

    And what a story Cal State Northridge would have been. This is a team that saw the son of the coach get arrested along with the team's leading scorer. Then lose its' stating point guard to an auto accident. It's amazing the Matadors made it this far. Here's a link to a story about what the team overcame to make the NCAA tournament.
    http://www.latimes.com/sports/la-sp-northridge12-2009mar12,0,6127032.story

    Game story with more about the Matadors' season.
    http://scores.espn.go.com/ncb/preview?gameId=294000012

    Wednesday, March 18, 2009

    Four-peat? I don't know what else you call it.

    That's what the Mt. Notre Dame girls are going for this weekend in Columbus. The Cougars have won the last 3 consecutive Division 1 state titles. We went out the MND the other day, and I wanted to male sure to post something before everything gets lost in March Madness. I told coach Dante Harlan he must be doing something right, and he said...

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    It doesn't hurt to have the reigning Ohio Ms. Basketball on the squad. Senior forward Kendall Hackney learned this evening she won the prestigious award. Kendall sensed the focus of this team start to sharpen as the tournament time drew near.

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    Kendall will be taking her talent to USC next season. She is part of a group of 7 seniors on the team. What a ride it has been for this group. They have seen 99 varsity wins during their time in high school, and possibly 4 state titles. Senior Guard Ashley Fowler talks about the 4-peat.

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    This one could be the best for the seniors since they are the leaders, and it will be their last hurrah. The come into the State semifinals with a 25-1 record. The only loss came to University High School from Newark, New Jersey. Senior Guard Gabrielle "Gabby" Smith reflects on the success these senior have seen and hope to finish off with another state title.

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    Mt. Notre Dame plays Canton McKinley Friday night at 6:30 p.m. in Columbus. Lakota West takes on Toledo Start in the other semifinal. Educated observers are figuring the Cougars and Firebirds will both advance, setting up a rematch of last year's state championship game. Wouldn't that be something? MND beat Lakota West 49-38 back in January. That game was played on MND's home floor. The only other loss suffered by Lakota West this season was to Dublin Coffman. Among the wins for West this season, a 62-59 victory over the same University High School that hung the loss on MND, It should be fun.


    Tuesday, March 17, 2009

    Let The Madness and Juicy Upsets Begin!

    Tonight in Dayton is the play-in game between Alabama State and Morehead State. It's good to see Morehead get in the show, since a lot of my buds form Georgetown went to school there. Other alums from Morehead include Phil Simms and Wayne "Box" Miller. The winner of this game earns the right to get bludgeoned by Louisville Friday night. But some of the lesser seeds have a chance to advance. 11th seeded Utah State in the west takes on Marquette. Marquette lost 5 of its last 6 games and is playing without Dominic James. Utah St. won 30 games this season. That game is already on my upset alert. Also on the radar, 12th seeded Western Kentucky over 5th seeded and offensively challenged Illinois. Arizona is a 12 seed and will meet 5th seeded Utah. Arizona(19-13) sneaks into the field with an ugly overall record. The Wildcats lost 5 of their last 6, but 4 of those were on the road. And this team has talent, so watch out. Xavier's B.J. Raymond knows all about the pitfalls and upsets associated with the NCAA.

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    Xavier has the best seeding in the 4-team pod, but they still get shipped out to Boise instead of a trip up I-75 to U.D. Arena. But like Sean Miller says, the only thing that matters is that they are in.

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    Here's a link to the USA Today scouting report on Xavier's opponent, Portland State.
    http://content.usatoday.net/dist/custom/gci/InsidePage.aspx?cId=app&sParam=33640860.story

    Monday, March 16, 2009

    Xavier Double Dipping in NCAA

    The Xavier women's basketball team once again will be joining the men in the NCAA Tournament. Monday night Xavier learned it nailed down a 5th seed in the women's bracket and will play 12th seeded Gonzaga Saturday night in Seattle. Xavier has played all season without star player Amber Harris. Head Coach Kevin McGuff says Amber is close to returning and he'll make a decision in the next few days. McGuff also says he's noticed a difference in his team since a loss to Dayton in the Atlantic 10 tournament.
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    (5) Xavier (25-6, 13-1 A-10) vs (12) Gonzaga (25-6, 12-2 West Coast Conference)

    Game Time Saturday-10:30 EDT Bank of America Arena-Seattle

    Sunday, March 15, 2009

    Thud! The season ends for U.C. Good thing or bad thing?

    There's plenty of talk out there about the merits of U.C. trudging off to Auburn, or Kansas State, or Penn State to play an N.I.T. game. There are some close to the U.C. program who feel it's best to let this season go and let the head coach get some recruiting in. If it's my team, I want to keep playing. How bad must things be if you'd rather knock off for the year instead of getting more games in? If your program is suffering to the point you would turn down the N.I.T., then you may as well blow the program up and start over. Again, U.C. wasn't promoting the idea of refusing an N.I.T. bid, but I've heard plenty of talk that U.C. is better off without the bid. Honestly, I don't get it. If players, coaches, or whoever need a break from each other that badly, then in my book it's a lost cause. I'm told it hasn't reached that point at U.C., so I guess that's a start.

    Xavier in NCAA Tournament with 4 Seed

    Xavier University will meet Portland State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. The game will be played on Friday in Boise, Idaho. The game will tip off 7:25 p.m. Eastern, so the Musketeers get a little prime-time love. The fourth seeded Musketeers and thirteenth seeded Portland State are part of the East Region of the brackets.
    Xavier (25-7) is making its fourth consecutive NCAA appearance. Last year the Musketeers were one win away from making it to the Final Four. They lost in the Elite Eight to U.C.L.A. This is Xavier's 20th NCAA bid, the 10th time the Musketeers have been included as an at-large bid.
    Should Xavier win its' first round game, the Musketeers would play the winner of the Florida State-Wisconsin game.
    Louisville claimed the overall number one seed. The Cardinals will play Friday in Dayton against the winner of the play-in game, Morehead State and Alabama State. Ohio State will also play Friday in Dayton. The Buckeyes claimed an 8 seed and will play Sienna. This sets up a potential match up of Louisville and Ohio State in round two.
    The University of Dayton made the field as an at-large team. The 11th seeded Flyers will meet the 6th seeded West Virginia Mountaineers Friday in Minneapolis.

    Next Round Pairings for Division 1 Boys and Girls

    This is what it looks like for the D-1 Boys Regionals and the Girls State Final Four.

    Boys D-1 Cincinnati Region
    All Games at Cintas Center
    Wednesday March 18
    6:15 p.m. Aiken vs Princeton
    8:00 p.m. La Salle vs Centerville
    Winners Meet Saturday, March 21, at 11:00 a.m.

    Boys D-1 Columbus Region
    All Games at Columbus Fairgrounds
    Wednesday March 18
    7:00 p.m. St. Xavier vs Dublin Scioto
    Thursday March 19
    7:00 p.m. Northland vs Grove City
    Winners Meet Saturday, March 21, at 7:30 p.m.
    =========================

    Ohio Girls Division 1 State Final Four
    All Games at The Schottenstein Center, Columbus
    Friday March 20
    6 p.m. - Mt. Notre Dame (25-1) vs Canton McKinley (22-3)
    8 p.m. - Lakota West (24-2) vs Toledo Start (21-3)

    Winners Meet Saturday, March 21, at 8:30 p.m. for State Championship

    Saturday, March 14, 2009

    High School Hoopla: St. Xavier Bombers Move On, La Salle Wins, Aiken beats Moeller, Princeton Rolls

    St. Xavier takes another step in the tournament, beating Fairmont 57-42. La Salle is a winner over Wayne 68-64. Aiken defeated Moeller 63-59 and Princeton won its game with Mason 63-40. St. X advanced to its D-1 district finals at U.D. Arena with a big upset over Middletown last Saturday. This after finishing just 11-9 in the regular season. With only 3 seniors on the roster, head coach Scott Martin saw his Bombers go through some growing pains.
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    The Bombers have made it to Ohio's Division 1 State Final Four three times in the last four years. So a lot is expected of X once tournament time is here. Erik Stenger is one of the 3 seniors on the team. The win over Middletown and the chance to win a district title is not lost on this guy.
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    Ohio Division 1 District Finals

    Princeton 63 Mason 40 Final

    Aiken 63 Moeller 59 Final

    La Salle 68 Wayne 64 Final

    St. Xavier 57 Fairmont 42 Final

    Division 3: North Adams 56 Zane Trace 50

    Indiana: Winchester 79 Lawrenceburg 72 Final/Overtime

    Friday, March 13, 2009

    Christmas plays Grinch, steals tourney from "X"

    Temple's Dionte Christmas made every big shot his team needed down the stretch. The Owls upset top seeded Xavier 55-53 in the semifinals of the Atlantic 10 tournament in Atlantic City.
    Christmas scored 10 of his game high 20 in the final 6:16 of the game, including two late 3-pointers and a free throw with 7 seconds left to give temple a 4 point lead and put the game out of reach.
    Xavier went through a 5 minute stretch late in the game without scoring. Derrick Brown's jumper gave the Musketeers a 3 point lead with 7:24 to play. By the time the Muskies scored again, Temple had built a 4 point lead.
    The win keeps Temple perfect against the Musketeers in A-10 tournament play. Temple has won all 5 tournament meetings. Xavier (25-7) will now enter the NCAA tournament with an at-large berth instead of the automatic bid that comes from winning the A-10 tournament. Temple (21-11) moves on to play in tomorrow evening's championship game.

    That's the nuts and bolts of Xavier's evening. Now what happens to the Musketeers when it comes to an NCAA seeding? The overall record is impressive, but in the final 10 games of the season "X" finished with a (5-5) record. Will this keep Xavier from grabbing a 4 seed? The difference between a 4 and a 5 is big for the fans because of the location of the pods. With a 4 Xavier would have the best seed in its pod and perhaps a chance to go to Dayton. Before Friday's loss the experts had Xavier with a 4 seed but heading out to Boise. They had top seeds Louisville and Michigan State hogging the comforts of U.D. Arena. With a 5, Xavier is totally at the mercy of the 4th seed in its bracket. That could be anywhere.

    Bearcats record game still stands....... barely.



















    It felt like forever for the Syracuse Orange and the Connecticut Huskies, but their 6 overtime game last night is one overtime shy of the NCAA record. The 7 overtime marathon played by the U.C. Bearcats is still the longest game in history. It was December 21, 1981, with the Bearcats in Peoria, Illinois, facing the Bradley Braves. The long night was worth it for the Bearcats as they came out with a 75 to 73 win. It's hard to believe 7 overtimes and just 148 total points scored, but remember, there was no shot clock. Teams were able to hold the basketball, and they did just that in the overtime periods. Last night Syracuse and UConn combined for 244 points, with the Orange winning 127-117. In U.C.'s record-setter there were no points scored in the third overtime period. The only points scored in the 7th and deciding overtime came from Covington Holmes grad Doug Schloemer. Bradley center Donald Reese played 73 of the 75 minutes played that night. It was crazy, and that game was on my mind from the time Syracuse and UConn went to their fourth overtime. It's kind of cool Cincinnati still has the record.

    Thursday, March 12, 2009

    Xavier Cruises to A-10 Semifinals, Temple Next

    Honestly, it's tough to judge Xavier's performance since St. Louis is simply brutal. But X smoked the Billikens on the boards, limited baskets in the paint, and allowed 0 fast break points. Earlier this week coach Sean Miller said the formula is very simple for "X". Tough defense and killer rebounding.

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    Sean said this team isn't built to win run and gun type games, even though that's been a big part of Xavier's past.

    In the A-10 semifinals X will meet Temple Friday at 6:30 p.m. The Owls were impressive in a quarterfinal win Thursday afternoon, drilling St. Joseph's 79-65. X defeated Temple in the only meeting between the teams this season, 83-74, back on February 5, at Xavier's Cintas Center.

    Tuesday, March 10, 2009

    High X-pectations

    Xavier lost 6 games this season, but the way the road games went in February made it seem like maybe the Musketeers are not who we thought they were. But 24 wins against 6 losses is stout. Junior forward Derrick Brown thinks some of the uneasiness about the February losses stems from all of the recent success of the Xavier program.

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    Xavier had just 2 non-conference losses, to Duke and Butler. But the non-conference schedule was tougher than the conference schedule, so how do you account for those 4 losses in the A-10? Here's senior forward C.J. Anderson taking that head on.

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    Xavier plays at Noon on Thursday against the winner of Wednesday's game between St. Louis and La Salle. Thursday's game can be seen on FOX Sports Ohio.

    A Bitter Bearcat Pill

    U.C. fans are ready to march on the Lindner Center with torches and pitchforks. The pitchforks appear to be aimed for the backside of the head basketball coach and the torches set to burn anything remotely resembling an invitation to the B.C.I. Bearcat backers should be upset. When a team goes from the NCAA bubble to the N.I.T. bubble in the course of 3 games, something is wrong. After the loss to Seton Hall coach Cronin cited rebounding and defensive statistics as evidence his team had not quit. He could not point to those statistics after the DePaul loss. DePaul is 15th in the Big East in rebounding margin, yet the Blue Demons had more boards than the Bearcats. After the South Florida loss Mick commented how the players seemed to bounce back in a hurry and were having a great time at practice the next day. That didn't sound too good to me. When you add it all up it points to a team that lacks the inner fire to grind out wins late in the season, even against struggling teams like DePaul. Mick needs to get that fixed, and I'm guessing he has at least another year before the pitchforks start hitting their target.

    Monday, March 9, 2009

    Sean Gone Wild!

    Okay, he didn't rip his shirt off or whatever else they do in those degrading DVDs I would never watch, but Xavier coach Sean Miller had some biting words for the Atlantic10 schedule gurus. Here's the situation: Xavier played Dayton at home 9 p.m. Thursday night. Then travelled to Richmond Friday for a Saturday evening game. Richmond had a game earlier in the week, at Charlotte on Tuesday. So the Spiders we home lying-in-wait from Wednesday night until game-time Saturday. Sean takes it from there...

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    I'm sure the Atlantic 10 will say coaches get paid a lot of money, and those Thursday night games generate cash and in turn feeds the giant known as NCAA Division 1 basketball. But it is worth taking a look at ways to avoid the turnarounds.

    On a lighter note, B.J. Raymond was named 1st team all-conference. Derick Brown made second team and C.J. Anderson is honorable mention.

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    Here's a link to the Atlantic 10 all-conference selections: http://atlantic10.cstv.com/sports/m-baskbl/spec-rel/030909aaa.html

    Xavier's first conference tournament game will be Thursday at noon. The Muskies will play the winner of the St. Louis- La Salle game. I'll have more on Xavier's tournament time thoughts coming up in the next couple days.

    Saturday, March 7, 2009

    Bearcats Brutal Finish

    After fighting to get on the NCAA bubble, the 'Cats took out a "slap chop" and whacked that bubble into pieces. It was more annoying than watching the real "slap chop" commercial. They lost 5 of their last 6 games. I'm not even going to play the old "if they make it to the championship game" thing. They have to beat DePaul first. I still believe Cronin is the man for the job. Here's Mick after Saturday's devastating 67-63 loss to Seton Hall in overtime.

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    Big East Tournamet

    First Round: U.C. vs DePaul, Noon, Tuesday. Still waiting word for TV. I think it's only available through live streaming at the big east website.

    Should U.C. win, the 'Cats get a third crack at Providence.

    Here's a link to the Big East lineup and information on the streaming video for round one: http://www.bigeast.org/ViewArticle.dbml?SPSID=92555&SPID=11228&DB_OEM_ID=19400&ATCLID=3666348

    Friday, March 6, 2009

    What is this????

    U.C. opens the football season with a conference game on the road at Rutgers? How does the happen and how is that good for anyone? No whining, but as a conference you should want your teams to knock a little rust off, develop a rhythm, and hit their stride before playing conference games. This just seems dumb.
    Here's a link to the schedule: http://gobearcats.cstv.com/sports/m-footbl/sched/cinn-m-footbl-sched.html

    3 seniors honored by U.C., will one return next year?

    Senior Day is Saturday for U.C. Three players will be honored before the Seton Hall game, Mike Williams, Branden Miller, and Conn seniors players, this counts Conner Barwin. Future NFL player Barwin helped bail the 'Cats out when injuries and defections depleted the roster in the 2005-06, and 2006-07 seasons. Coach Mick Cronin sounds grateful for the contributions by Barwin during Mick's first season. Mick also sounds like a guy ready to fight for a return by Mike Williams. After sitting out a transfer year, Williams lost another season with an injury. So the plan is to go for a sixth season.

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    Williams says whatever happens, he will not regret his decision to leave Texas and transfer to U.C.

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    Branden Miller says his days at U.C. have been beyond anything he could dream. He could have gone to a smaller school and played more, but he sounds like a guy who enjoyed the division 1 experience even though he was a walk on, which means zero scholarship money. Mick says any time one of his players complained, he would point to Branden and tell them if they thought they had problems, they should see the student loans Branden is racking up. Miller talked Friday about the transformation of the program from his early days. He remembers when Mick was hired, there were five players at a meeting. Two of them were Miller and Barwin. Miller says things at U.C. are little more settled now. Well, maybe a lot more settled.

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    U.C. Senior Day

    Tip off Noon, Saturday Fifth Third Arena

    Seton Hall vs U.C.