No fun at DisneyWorld: I'm willing to bet that when Northeastern coach Bill Coen signed up for the Central Florida Christmas tournament, he never projected the field would be as tough as it was. The Huskies come home with two losses to two much-improved teams, Central Florida and Furman. .
Meanwhile in the final: The Jordanaires won their own tournament by beating Princeton 68-62 behind Marcus Jordan's 26 points. They're 13-0 and there will be some bumps along the way on the road in Conference USA but they are shaping up as a tournament team.
Flexing muscles: Cleveland State hammered Loyola of Chicago 73-55 to give further notice it's going to be tough to handle in the Horizon League. CleveSt-Butler is Jan. 7.
Another trip East: BYU played its second game in New York State and it was another successful trip as they beat Buffalo 90-82. Our man JImmer Fredette started 1 for 8 but then heated up to score 34 points.
Getting even: Oakland got a nice win over Oral Roberts 85-77 in Tulsa so you'd have to say its ultra-tough out-of-conference schedule will help the Grizz in the Summit League.
Surprising scores, amazing margins:
Columbia 74, Maine 71: The Black Bears are tough to figure; win at Penn State, lose to an Ivy League team. They can't be trusted. Columbia has won four straight.
LIU 96, Navy 86: The Blackbirds continue to put together a solid season and are 9-4 after this win in Annapolis.
Iowa State 60, Virginia 47: A pretty easy win on the road for the Cyclones, who are now 12-2.
Fullerton State 54, Pacific 51: A Big West upset; Pacific overcame a 19-point, second-half deficit then lost on a three-pointer at the buzzer.
Oregon State 80, Arizona State 58:The Sun Devils were missing leading scorer Trent Lockett, out with an injury, but this is still an upset in Corvallis. It was the first time Oregon State won its Pac 10 opener since the 2004-05 season.
Arizona 76, Oregon 57: Must be karma as the Ducks get crushed in the final days of McArthur Court.
Davidson 108, St. Joe's of Maine 39: I didn't think Davidson liked picking on little guys. There had to be a way to get a better game ... for both teams.
Oklahoma 76, Central Arkansas 73: This would have been a monumental upset; the Sooners were lucky to escape. It's going to be a tough Big 12 season for them.
Belmont 83, Miami of Ohio 72: Belmont is now 10-3 and has to be considered the favorite in the Atlantic Sun.
San Francisco 69, Hampton 57: Hampton had won 10 of its last 11 before this upset.
Morgan State 67, Robert Morris 66: The Bears have run a gauntlet of tough games this season, nice to get a solid non-conference win.
UMBC 68, Niagara 67: Calvin Murphy can't believe how bad this season has been for the Purple Eagles. An inexcusable loss.This was UMBC's first win after 12 losses.
My viewing habits: It was a Missouri Valley night, for the most part. Missouri State-Northern Iowa was a great half-court game played by two teams that are well-coached and play great defense. It was a taut, intense game for all 48 minutes and then it had a ridiculous ending. With Missouri State leading by one, Johnny Moran put up a 30-footer that swished to give Northern Iowa a two-point lead. Missouri State came right down and their star player Kyle Weems put up a 25-footer that also swished at the buzzer to win the game. Northern Iowa had won 21 straight at home. College basketball needs more face-paced offense but that doesn't mean half-court basketball played this well isn't interesting. I also caught some of the Creighton's victory at Illinois State. Creighton is going to be an interesting team mostly because of 6-9 center Gregory Echenigue, a transfer from Rutgers who's only been eligible for four games. He looked like a beast last night.
BC: Hey, Rhody is tough at home, and as well as the Eagles have been playing, they're still have to play their best to win games like this.
Harvard: The Crimson beat Monmouth 74-69, a closer than expected result but another victory just the same. It's pretty clear now they can win the Ivy League this season.
BU: The Terriers lost to Quinnipiac 82-81 on a tip-in with three seconds left and failed to build any momentum from their victory over Saint Joseph's last week.
Deep depth: Kansas coach Bill Self benched leading scorer Marcus Morris because he was ejected from the previous game for throwing an elbow. His replacement Thomas Robinson went for 20 points and 10 rebounds as the Jayhawks beat Texas Arlington 82-57. Morris did play and scored 13 points.
Rivalry update: Canisius beat Northwestern State 85-52 in Buffalo to gain a split in this unusual matchup. Northwestern State won 86-74 in Natchitoches, La. on Dec. 19.
Surprising scores, amazing margins:
Notre Dame 69, Georgetown 55: I saw a few minutes of this. I was definitely wrong about the Irish, they're now 12-1 and looking like a tournament team although they've only played on road game. They're at Syracuse Saturday.
St. John's 81, West Virginia 71: Steve Lavin's got something going, I never would have expected he could win this one in Morgantown. The Redmen are 8-3.
Tennessee 68, Tennessee Martin 62: Martin lost to Ohio State by 60 on Monday.
Saint Mary's 94, Mississippi State 72: This was no contest as the Bulldogs played without two suspended starters.
Marist 66, Penn 57: Bad loss for the Quakers. At one point this season, I thought Marist could be the worst team in the nation. The Red Foxes keep fighting, however, and they've got three wins.
Towson 93, LaSalle 90: The Explorers continue to sink, losing this one in overtime. Towson coach Pat Kennedy called it the biggest victory in his seven years as coach.
Rice 74, LSU 68: This one was in Houston but honestly, don't you think LSU should win this?
Central Florida 71, Furman 53: No letdown for the Jordanaires even with Marcus Jordan only playing a half again.
Overcoming the injury: Purdue is 10-1 after beating Michigan, 80-57, in a strangely scheduled afternoon game in Ann Arbor Tuesday. The Boilers were a Final Four contender until Robbie Hummel blew out his knee in the preseason. Without their best player, the Boilers are still winning by playing their usual tough defense and getting great offense from center JaJuan Johnson and guard E'Twaun Moore. The schedule has been favorable with mostly home games, but they do have a nice road win over Virginia Tech.
My soap opera: Herb Pope sort of woke up with 12 points and 13 rebounds but Seton Hall fans were celebrating that he made four free throws (he shoots under 40 percent) in the final minute to help Seton Hall beat South Florida, 64-55. It was a good day for the Hall: a win, no injuries, no defections, no arrests, not even a technical foul.
A meaningful loss: Providence lost to Syracuse, 81-74, at the Orangedome, but the Friars played tough. That bodes well.
Surprising scores, amazing margins:
Cincinnati 76, DePaul 60: The Bearcats are 13-0 and getting very little respect. "People can continue to think we're not very good, so that can keep us hungry," coach Mick Cronin said.
Long Beach 71, UC Santa Barbara 55: UCSB can't lose many home games like this and still win the Big West.
Stanford 60, Yale 44: Wouldn't you want to compare the teams' SAT scores?
Drexel 84, Niagara 39: Bruiser's boys play great defense. Niagara is a disaster. The Purple Eagles missed 17 straight shots.
Morehead State 76, Kent State 59: Nice out-of-conference win for the Eagles, who got 24 points and 10 rebounds from their outstanding center, Kenneth Faried. They've won 20 straight at home.
IPFW 76, Oral Roberts 73: A nice road win for the Mastodons, who are 3-0 in the Summit League.
Away from home: UConn got a dose of reality Monday night in Pittsburgh as the Huskies played their first true road game of the season and were beaten 78-63. UConn suffered for offense especially from its big guys in this physical game but few teams on the schedule are going to be as physical as Pitt. Pitt is deep, plays great defense, and is unselfish. Kemba Walker (31 points) was the best player on the floor but it's hard to make comparisons with Pitt's personnel because everything is so team-oriented. All I know is Jamie Dixon has a bunch of tough, talented, unselfish players. I will say this, it was the best game I saw Nasir Robinson play for Pitt, just another reason to fear the Panthers. He had 11 points, 10 rebounds, and four assists.
Crean's pain: In his third season at Indiana, life is still difficult for Tom Crean especially when you lose at home to Penn State like the Hoosiers did Monday night.
It was a night of blowouts:
Ohio State 100, Tennessee Martin 40: Only the ninth biggest point differential in Buckeyes' history.
Missouri 97, Northern Illinois 61: Mike Anderson's 100th win at Missouri, no Mizzou coach has gotten there faster. Marcus Denmon continued his All-Sully play with 24 points.
Clemson 76, Delaware State 41: Jerai Grant producing more by coming off the bench. Strange how that works sometimes.
Louisville 104, Morgan State 74: Kentucky is next on New Year's Eve.
UAB 79, George Washington 44: A complete beatdown and now the Blazers are a sneaky 10-2. Haven't seen them yet.
LSU 62, Southern 41: LSU wins the city title and coach Trent Johnson can breath a sigh of relief that he doesn't have to answer questions about another upset.
My soap opera: Problems persist at Seton Hall. Star guard Jeremy Hazell, who's out with a broken wrist, was shot during a robbery in Harlem, where he lives, Christmas night. The wound was described as minor and he was discharged from the hospital. Not sure how this affects his return. The next day, Sunday, the Hall lost at home to Richmond, the third Atlantic 10 team to defeat the Pirates.
Butler: The Bulldogs seemed over their heads in losing at Louisville; and then looked like they lost their heads when they lost at home to Evansville. They're getting it back together and proved it by winning the Diamond Head Classic, beating Utah, Florida State, and Washington State. Cleveland State is the threat in Horizon League play.
Furman: It's been a long time since the Paladins were good, they haven't been to the tournament since 1980, but suddenly they're 9-3 with their first victory over South Carolina in 30 years.
Gonzaga: I was tough on the Zags, feeling they were overrated. I'm still not totally convinced but when you beat Baylor and Xavier back-to-back, I'm going to pay attention.
Northern Iowa: The Panthers figured to fade rapidly this season after advancing to the Elite Eight last night. Maybe not, they're 9-3 after beating Indiana and New Mexico in the Las Vegas Classic.
Texas: The Longhorns pushed themselves back into the national picture by beating North Carolina in Greensboro and Michigan State in East Lansing. An impressive feat any year.
Illinois: I still really like the Illini but they weren't paying attention when they were ambushed by Illinois Chicago and then failed in the clutch in a rivalry game against Missouri.
Kansas State: First the Wildcats couldn't have played any worse in losing to Florida, then starters Jacob Pullen and Curtis Kelly were suspended for accepting improper benefits; and finally they couldn't keep up with UNLV without those two playing. This could still be a special season in Manhattan but Pullen and Kelly are needed to get back and then behave.
LaSalle: The Explorers are 6-6 after losing consecutive home games to Bucknell and Rider. Coach John Giannini questioned his team's effort.
Mississippi State: When is coach Rick Stansbury going to draw the line; where's his moral fiber? First, he waits 45 games for Renardo Sidney to get eligible because he accepted improper benefits as a high school player, then after he only plays one game he has to suspend him for conduct detrimental to the team. Then he got into a fight with a teammate in the stands at the Diamond Head Classic. Surprisingly, he sent him home from Hawaii. What he should do is throw him off the team and get on with the season. Of course, that will never happen.
Saint Joseph's: Phil Martelli is starting from scratch with three freshmen starters and the results reflect that, 3-8 with six straight losses including blowing a 12-point, second-half lead at BU.
This week's Butler (best mid-major): Cleveland State, now 13-1, plays at Butler Jan. 7.
This week's Final Four: Duke, Pitt, Ohio State, Missouri. The Tigers are a new addition, feeling better about them each week, love the aggressive play.
This week's national champion: Duke
Aloha Coogs: An emphatic win Thursday night for Washington State when the Cougars beat Baylor 77-71 in the semifinals of the Diamond Head Classic (which should still be called the Rainbow Classic and played after Christmas) in Honolulu. Another tremendous under-the-radar player is Washington State guard Klay Thompson, son of former NBA star Mychal Thompson. He's a 6-6 guard who's averaging 21.5 ppg while hitting nearly 50 percent of his outside shots. He's dangerous from behind the arc and will also put the ball on the floor and take it all the way to the hoop for a dunk. WashState is now 10-1 and will play Butler in the tournament final Christmas Day.
Let's face it, he's nothing but trouble: Renardo Sidney, Mississippi State's 6-10 center, is in more trouble. Sidney got in a fight in a teammate in the stands at the Diamond Head Classic. Check out the video. Sydney had to sit out nearly a season and half because of accepting improper benefits; then after finally getting to play one game, he was suspended for conduct detrimental to the team. He played another game and then this. Why would the coach keep him?
Surprising scores, amazing margins:
Colorado State 68, Mississippi 61: The surprising Rams are now 7-3 with a three-game winning streak and this loss ended a five-game winning streak for Ole Miss.
BYU 89, UTEP 68: Our man Jimmer had a big game, 25 points nine assists and eight rebounds. UTEP had won six in a row.
Northern Iowa 69, New Mexico 60: I thought Northern Iowa would drop significantly from last season's Elite Eight appearance. Maybe there's a dip but this victory in the Las Vegas Classic shows the Panthers are still really tough.
Saint Mary's 73, New Mexico State 53: Not a great opponent but a good one and the Gaels prove their worth again with a big win.
UCLA 74, UC Irvine 73: These days, the Bruins are happy even with wins like this.
Georgia 56, Mercer 53: OK, first off, not many BCS schools would go to Macon, Ga. but Georgia did. The Dawgs survived and maybe that will make them tougher down the line.
Tennessee 66, Belmont 65: A three-game losing streak is over but this can't feel satisfying.
He's an All-American: Missouri's Marcus Denmon probably won't make first-team All-American but he's at the top of the list of best guards in the nation as far as Sully's Court is concerned. What a series of plays he made Wednesday night in the final minute to help Missouri beat Ilinois 75-64. First, he banked home a shot off the dribble to give Mizzou a four-point lead but Illinois answered with a three-pointer to cut it to one. The ball was inbounded to Denmon and these days the obvious strategy is to hold onto the ball and wait to get foul. Not Denmon, not Missouri, not a Mike Anderson-coached team. He found teammate Laurence Bowers behind the defense and whipped the ball upcourt to him. Bowers scored and was fouled. It was ruled intentional and he made both free throws. Given possession, Missouri inbounded and got it to a cutting Denmon for an uncontested layup to give Mizzou a seven-point lead. Game, set, match.
Out of the coffin: Gonzaga has asserted itself, beating Xavier 64-54 Wednesday night coming off a victory over Baylor. I've already buried the Zags but maybe they have some zombie in them.
My soap opera: Talented sophomore forward Ferrakohn Hall announced he was leaving the Seton Hall program, proving once again it's always something in South Orange. Then the Hall lost to Dayton 69-65 after leading by 14 at halftime. I really expect Herb Pope to dominate in games like this but he didn't, ending with seven points, 11 rebounds, and four fouls.
BC: The Don kept the Eagles moving forward with a win over Bucknell. I don't think it's a big deal that they fell behind early and the final score was close (84-80). People who were there tell me Bucknell's decent.
UMass: A decent effort vs. Central Florida but the Minutemen had their chance to pull off the upset with Marcus Jordan only playing a half. Jordan returned to play 15 minutes and inspire the Jordanaires to victory.
Back in the groove: Cleveland State, after losing at West Virginia, bounced back strong with a home win over South Florida 69-62. The Vikings are now 13-1. Point guard Norris Cole had 27 points. He's a player.
Long strange trip: Canisius won at Lamar Wednesday night after coming off a loss at Northwestern State in Louisiana. I hope the Griffs ate well, some BBQ, some Tex-Mex. I find it strange that Loyola of Chicago played at Texas Pan Amerian Wednesday night too (and won 84-76).
Surprising scores, amazing margins:
UConn 81, Harvard 52: Another powerful performance by the Huskies. Harvard can't get down over this.
Syracuse 93, Drexel 65: Do you think Jim Boeheim pointed out to his team that Drexel won at Louisville? Given how tough Drexel is defensively and how well the Dragons rebound, this is a real stunning margin.
Texas 67, Michigan State 55: This loss snaps a 52-game non-conference homecourt winning streak.
Clemson 66, College of Charleston 59: A nice win for the sometimes underachieving Tigers, beating a good team on its homecourt.
Furman 91, South Carolina 75: The Paladins beat South Carolina for the first time since 1980 and are now 10-2.
N.C. State 72, Delaware State 70: The Wolfpack needed a last-second putback to pull this one out. Del State is only 4-6 but they'll pick up some wins in the MEAC.
Siena 62, Georgia Tech 57: Tech coach Paul Hewitt used to coach Siena, I bet he's sorry he scheduled this one which was played in Albany.
North Texas 75, LSU 55: Another bad loss for the Bayou Tigers. What does Shaq think of this?
Seattle 59, Virginia 53: The WallyWonderWalkers looked like they were on a roll until this big thud in Charlottesville.
San Diego State 56, IUPUI 54: Under coach Ron Hunter, IUPUI always gives a great effort, they had Ohio State on the ropes earlier this season, but they fell short in this game played in Las Vegas. Not a great night for the Aztecs but they were able to survive.
Oregon State 74, Illinois Chicago 54: How do you predict this when UIC was coming off a victory over Illinois and Oregon State had lost consecutive games to Montana and George Washington?
Rider 77, LaSalle 68: Rider's a decent unit but LaSalle needs to win games like this.
Albany 63, Colgate 61: The Red Raiders almost got their first victory. Maybe they can beat Longwood on Jan. 2.
Quinnipiac 66, Niagara 63: A real beating. Bobcats look ready for conference play.
South Dakota 82, Loyola Marymount 70: The Coyotes, who play in the Great West with teams like Southern Utah and Utah Valley, are 6-7 but it's been a decent season with a win like this and others over Louisiana Monroe and Wyoming.
Rude awakening: Northwestern came to New York City with a chance to prove its legitimacy. Instead, it left with its reputation as the Mildcats intact, losing to St. John's 85-69 in the finals of the Holiday Festival. (How dare they call it that anymore). This is the same St. John's team that lost to St. Bonaventure and Fordham.
The Terriers: BU coach Pat Chambers got a nice win over Saint Joseph's Tuesday night. It's been a rough start (4-7), but Darryl Partin, the transfer from La Salle, had 29 points and is coming on quickly to give BU more scoring punch. This team has a chance to be an America East contender.
The Bearcats: Cincinnati beat Miami of Ohio, 64-48, on the road for its 11th straight win. Miami has also lost to Duke, Ohio State, and San Diego State. Miami coach Charlie Coles said the Bearcats fit with those teams.
Wait, he just got there: Renardo Sidney waited nearly a season and a half to be declared eligible at Mississippi State. He played one game and now is suspended one game for conduct detrimental to the team. OK, what's the over-under on his leaving Mississippi State before the season ends?
My team: The Kazakhstan jacker Anatoly Bose scored 25 and has scored over 20 points in 37 straight games as Nicholls State beat Jarvis Christian 89-67. Now 6-4, the Colonels are over .500 through 10 games for only the second time in the last 16 years.
Surprising scores, amazing margins
UNLV 63, Kansas State 59: K-State coach Frank Martin was really grumpy after this one, refusing to answer questions about the suspensions of his star point guard Jacob Pullen and forward Curtis Kelly. Which just leaves everyone guessing and thinking the worst. It did have to do with improper benefits, perhaps free clothes. Pullen will sit out three games; Kelly's suspension length hasn't been determined. The Wildcats have plenty of time to regroup but it's going the other way right now. This isn't a good loss because the game was played in Manhattan but the opponent, UNLV, was a good one.
Valparaiso 103, Oakland 102: What an interesting season it's been for Oakland: a win over Tennessee, a tough loss to Michigan State, then a crazy loss like this.
Maine 74, Penn State 64: The Bears were disappointing earlier in the season but they look like they're turning it around. They've won four straight to get to 6-5 including this road win. Penn State basketball fans -- and there aren't many -- must feel sick.
Georgia 85, High Point 38: The Dawgs have won five straight, are 8-2, and gave the type of dominating performance they should in a game like this.
Presbyterian 66, Wake Forest 64: The Deacons have now lost to Stetson, Virginia Commonwealth (by 19), Winthrop, and UNC Wilmington. The Blue Hose, meanwhile, are 6-6 with wins over Wake and Auburn.
Southern Cal 65, Tennessee 64: The Vols have now lost three straight after beating Pitt.
Dartmouth 67, Drake 59: A nice non-conference road win for the Big Green who split their two-game road trip to Iowa (losing to Iowa State Sunday).
Idaho 69, Oregon 65: The Ducks' tremendous homecourt, McArthur Court, will no longer be used when they move into some multi-million dollar, sterile building (because Nike wants a new arena) in two weeks. Two bad the last days of McArthur have to be like this. McArthur Court is melting in the rain.... Sing it, just change the words.
A new nickname: I slipped up yesterday, using the wrong nickname for Central Florida. UCF is just the Knights now, officially. As far as Sully's Court is concerned, however, UCF will be the Jordanaires from now on. You can hear them clearly on this just-right-for-season recording. Meanwhile, the Jordanaires, nationally ranked at No. 24, are on Amherst Wednesday night to play reeling UMass.
Coach K: Genetics can be undeniable at times and if you allow me some license, I would say Mike Krzyzewski is a direct descendant of Bobby Knight since he played for him at West Point. After Duke's 98-72 victory over Elon Monday night, Coach K now has 879 victories, tied for second with Dean Smith behind the all-time leader Knight at 902.
Surprising scores, amazing margins
Jacksonville 71, Florida 68: For the Gators, this comes on the heels of upsetting Kansas State Saturday. Tough team to read.
Northwestern 92, St. Francis of New York 61: The Wildcats put down the hammer at MSG, just like they should, for their ninth straight without a loss. They play St. John's tonight in the watered-down Holiday Festival final.
Fairfield 67, Vermont 59: Seven in a row for the Stags and their coach, ex-BC assistant Ed Cooley.
Virginia 50 Norfolk State 49: This is five in a row for the WallyWonderWalkers, but it took a tip-in of a missed free throw 4.8 seconds left against a 1-8 team.
Syracuse 97, Morgan State 55: Didn't think the Bears would win, but didn't think they'd lose by 42 either.
Coastal Carolina 125, Thomas More 70: Who's next? Catherine of Aragon? Cliff Ellis can do better than this. This Thomas More College is located in Ohio and it's the third Division 3 opponent this season for Coastal.
Central Florida: The Knights rallied to beat Miami, 84-78, in a wild and wacky game Saturday that included a 25-minute delay because of a power failure. It's their 10th straight win. Marcus Jordan, son of Michael, was terrific, scoring 23 points in a relentless and inspiring offensive effort. He hurt his ankle at the end of the game so his status for the next game – at UMass Wednesday – is uncertain.
Drexel: The Dragons won at Louisville then struggled on the road to beat St. Francis of Pennsylvania, 61-57, Saturday. Hey, it’s never going to be pretty for Bruiser’s team. The Dragons are now 8-1 with the only loss coming at Rhode Island.
Kansas: Not only are the Jayhawks 10-0 but now they’ve added ballyhooed freshman Josh Selby, who had an immediate impact.
Rutgers: The Scarlet Knights haven’t played the most challenging schedule but first-year coach Mike Rice has his team moving in the right direction. After beating Monmouth, 79-56, Saturday, Rutgers has won eight of its last nine.
Texas A&M: The Aggies are 10-1 (with their only loss to Boston College) after beating Arkansas, 71-62 ,in overtime Saturday.
Toledo: The Rockets, one of the worst teams in the country recently, have won two in a row after opening with nine straight losses.
Cornell: Steve Donahue left Ithaca just in time. The Big Red blew a 16-point lead and lost to Binghamton, 69-68, for their sixth straight loss.
LSU: The Bayou Tigers lost to Coastal Carolina and Wichita State. In between they squeaked out an overtime win over McNeese State.
Loyola of Chicago: After winning their first seven, the Ramblers have lost four of five, including a rivalry loss to DePaul Saturday.
South Florida: The Bulls have been a disappointment at 6-6 and have lost three of their last four, including one to James Madison Saturday.
Texas Tech: The Raiders suffered two disheartening in-state losses to TCU and UTEP and have lost five of six.
This week’s Butler (best mid-major):
Cleveland State. After opening 12-0, the Vikings lost their first game at West Virginia, 74-63, Saturday but I was impressed. The game was closer than the final score and it turned when Cleveland State star point guard Nathan Cole was out of the game for just a few minutes. West Virginia took advantage, extending a lead and Cleveland State couldn’t recover. Cole is the quickest player I’ve seen with the ball this season.
Some frosh talk: There are a lot of good freshmen out there and the nation got a look at another one in Josh Selby, who scored 21 points in his debut for Kansas Saturday. He had to sit out nine games for accepting gifts from Carmelo Anthony’s agent. However, who’s been better than Ohio State’s Jared Sullinger who had 30 points Saturday as the Buckeyes beat South Carolina 79-57? Physically mature beyond his years and highly skilled (he’s obviously been well coached in high school); he’s become one of the premiere inside threats in college basketball.
Hard to believe: UCLA’s 86-79 victory over No. 18 BYU was the Bruins’ first victory after five straight losses to ranked teams. Not a great game for our man Jimmer Fredette. He scored 30 but had seven turnovers for BYU.
No help: For a lot of different reasons, Mississippi State has waited a season and a half for the NCAA to declare Renardo Sydney eligible. He finally played and scored 10 points but the Bulldogs were routed by Virginia Tech, 88-57, Saturday.
Izzo’s suspension: Michigan State coach Tom Izzo had to miss the Spartans’ 90-51 victory over Prairie View because he employed a person who was associated with a recruit at his summer camp. Sounds innocent, right? It’s illegal because some schools were paying exorbitant amounts to people associated with recruits under the guise that the person was working the camp. Lots of NCAA rules seem silly but most of them exist in reaction to the original cheating. It’s a necessary rule because the cheating schools will abuse the situation.
Scheduling oddity: Canisius traveled to Natchitoches, La. to play Northwestern State on Sunday and lost 86-74. The Griffins have a chance to get even when the teams meet again Dec. 29 in Buffalo. Northwestern State players Will Pratt and Devon Baker are from New York City and Demons coach Mike McConathy wanted to play a game “near’’ their home so he setup this quickie home-and-home.
Surprising scores, amazing margins:
San Diego State 90, UC Santa Barbara 64: UCSB will most likely in the NCAAs. The Gauchos are no pushover but SD State coach Steve Fisher said his team played its best half since he’s been at San Diego in streaking to a 57-29 lead.
Illinois Chicago 57, Illinois 54: The Flames only improved to 5-7 but came up big in this game at the United Center. Surprising, big-time letdown by Illinois.
Missouri 116, Central Arkansas 63: Central is coached by Corliss
Williamson, the former Arkansas All-American who played for Nolan Richardson. Mizzou coach Mike Anderson played for Richardson at Tulsa. Williamson obviously didn't back down and tried to play this Forty Minutes of Hell style. This was the result.
Saint Bonaventure 112, Ohio 107: It took four overtimes and the Bonnies’ Andrew Nicholson, one of the best players you’ve never seen, had 44 points and 12 rebounds.
This week’s Final Four: Duke, Pitt, Michigan State and Ohio State.
This week’s national champion: Duke
Only four women's coaches have amassed 800 career victories in college basketball history: Pat Summit (Tennessee), Jody Conradt (Texas), C. Vivian Stringer (Rutgers), and Sylvia Hatchell (North Carolina).
Two more can join the exclusive club this afternoon: Barbara Stevens and Tara VanDerveer.
In her 25th season at Bentley, and 34th overall as a head coach (including stints at Clark and UMass-Amherst), Stevens is 799-236 overall entering this afternoon's non-conference matchup against C.W. Post at the Dana Center (2 p.m.) in Waltham.
Her Falcons (6-1, 6-0 Northeast-10)), ranked 24th in Division 2, have been idle since Dec. 8 because of exams. C.W. Post (5-3, 3-1 East Coast Conference) has suffered two of its losses to NE-10 foes, AIC and New Haven.
Bentley features four players averaging double figures in scoring: senior forward Elise Caira (13.0 ppg.), freshmen forwards Lauren Battista (11.7) and Jacqui Brugliera (10.9, and senior guard Kim Brennan (10.6)
VanDerveer will also go for her 800th win this afternoon when Stanford takes on Tennessee and Summit in Knoxville.
Mizzou digs deep: Missouri coach Mike Anderson suspended his point guard Michael Dixon indefinitely for the proverbial violation of team rules. His replacement was freshman Phil Pressey. Pressey, the son of former NBA guard Paul Pressey, played high school ball in Massachusetts at Cushing Academy for a time when his dad was an assistant with the Celtics. His dad now works in Cleveland while Phil and his older brother Matt play for Anderson at Mizzou. The older Pressey and Anderson were teammates at Tulsa under Nolan Richardson. With the younger Pressey scored eight points and added seven assists as Missouri hammered Oral Roberts 81-62. By the way, I've mentioned this before but the biography of the remarkable Richardson by Rus Bradburd is a great read.
My team: Nicholls State took advantage of a lower division opponent, beating Dillard 94-52. The Colonials' leading scorer Anatoly Bose scored 30 points and hit seven consecutive three-pointers. He now had scored at least 20 points in 36 straight games. Bose has an interesting background. He's a 6-6 junior swingman who played in Australia before he came to Louisiana. However, he was born in Kazakhstan, moved to Russia, then New York, and finally Australia. He has played for the Aussie's under-19 national team. I haven't read it but there's got to be an amazing backstory with him. I'll continue to research.
Carmody's Carma: Northwestern is now 7-0 after beating American 78-62. The Mildcats' top-notch big-man John Shurna scored 28 points and is averaging 23.7 ppg. Next stop: New York City.
LSU 78, McNeese State 66: Some relief for the Bayou Tigers but just barely, this was in overtime.
Non-coach speak: Memphis had to rally from a 15-point deficit to beat Austin Peay 70-68 in overtime. Here's what Memphis coach Josh Pastner told reporters:
"There is no such thing as a bad win. We found a way to win. We were down 15. We were just not playing well. We grinded it out, and found a way to win. Games like that, I'm 33, but my body feels like 88. It just wears on you, but we found a way to win."
Gonzaga 103, Lewis-Clark State 61: What's next? Daniel Boone-Jim Bowie State? This ended a three-game losing streak for the Zags.
Acting the part: Baylor has become one of the top programs in the country and the Bears' schedule this season shows coach Scott Drew has been taking lessons from Jim Boeheim, Jim Calhoun and others big-time coaches who are homebodies. The Bears are 6-0 but have yet to play a road game. Unless they meet Hawaii in the finals of the Rainbow Classic, they won't play a true road game until Jan. 8 at Texas Tech. In fact, they will have scheduled ZERO non-conference road games. The Bears play Gonzaga next in Dallas before heading to Honolulu. Baylor obliterated Bethune-Cookman 83-39 Wednesday night for victory No. 6. I'm still not sure I can ever feel good about LaceDarius Dunn again but setting that aside, he scored 24 last night for his fourth consecutive 20-plus-point game. Sensational freshman Perry Jones had another good game with 15 points and nine rebounds. Baylor used to be one of Sully's Court favorite teams. I can't say that's true anymore. Maybe I need to write to Love Letters.
Upset on the strip: UC Santa Barbara beat UNLV 68-62 as the Rebels suffered their second loss after getting ranked. UCSB is obviously favored in the Big West.
Apathy: This could be the worst Wake Forest team in memory and it was a dreary sight last night to see the Deacons' arena pretty much empty, devoid of atmosphere as they struggled to be winless UNC Greensboro 69-67. They could have easily have lost.
Say what?: John Calipari has been nominated for the inaugural United Nations Nongovernment Organization Positive Peace Awards in the coach category. It's for his work with the charity Samaritan's Feet that provides shoes to those in need. I'll resist a recruiting joke and just say this proves there's some good in everybody.
There ought to be a law: That Rick Pitino can't play Bruiser Flint. I've often wrote about how Pitino's style of coaching, his team basically chucks up threes then presses full court and fouls a lot, can be difficult to watch for me. Too many whistles, too many free throws and games that drag on too long. Pitino's coaching cousin is Bruiser, whose teams play karate-chop man-to-man defense and less-than-smooth halfcourt offense. Lots of whistles, lots of fouls. Not as many as Pitino's team but still Bruiser's teams are also never pleasant to watch. So we have Louisville and Pitino hosting Drexel and Bruiser Tuesday night. It was ugly. No surprise to Sully's Court. The surprise, however, was Drexel's 52-46 victory. Bruiser and Drexel forced Pitino and Louisville to play their way, a rugged half-court game and Louisville failed to adapt. Sully's Court loves upsets especially ones like this where the BCS team loses so it was an interesting game. But UGLY. Drexel is now 7-1 and would have to be the co-favorite in the CAA with Old Dominion. Louisville is 8-1 but has only played home games. This loss makes them suspect. Quick aside, game analyst Bob Valvano, a Sully's Court favorite, made a quick reference to Louisville just finishing exams Tuesday and lamenting that the team could only practice once on Monday because of NCAA regulations. Remember, the 20-hours of practice regulation is in effect largely because of Pitino's practices at Providence where he drove the team relentlessly. Allegedly, this players are supposed to go to school. However, now that exams are over, there are no limits on practice.
Another BCS upset: Oakland played Michigan State to a one-point game, and has also lost to West Virginia, Purdue, and Illinois this season but the Grizzilies finally got a win over a Top 25 team by beating No. 7 Tennessee 89-82 Tuesday night. Michigan and Ohio are also on the schedule before the Grizzlies move into Summit League play where they're the favorite to get the league's NCAA bid. The Grizz are a team to avoid in the bracket come March. Oakland coach Greg Kampe is a brave man to play this schedule. "We're not scared of anybody," he told reporters. "We weren't intimidated by the No. 7 team in the country because we had just played Michigan State, and we should have won that game. We had just played Illinois, and we could have won that game. I think those are big and can help us."
Still undefeated: Cincinnati won its ninth straight by beating Georgia Southern 99-54. The Bearcats have only played one road game, at Toledo, a team that ranks near the bottom nationally.
Mile-high disappointment: I thought Denver could win the Sun Belt. The Pioneers are now 2-9 after losing at Wyoming 61-48 Tuesday night. Wyoming is only 4-6.
Bill Samko still has a passion to coach football. "I'm not burned out yet," he cracked.
And he loves Tufts University. But after 17 seasons as head coach, and the yearly tussles with Amherst, Trinity, Wiliams, and the rest of the NESCAC, he has decided to step away.
"You know, 17 years is a pretty long time, and sometimes I feel that [the players] need to hear another voice, it is time," said the 59-year-old Samko from his office Tuesday afternoon.
In his final season, Tufts finished 1-7, dropping its final seven games after kicking off the season with a 21-10 win over Hamilton. The Jumbos finished fourth in the nation in passing with Winthrop's Anthony Fucillo at the trigger, but struggled defensively with just two returning starters.
"We did a lot of good things [this year], we competed well," added Samko, noting that the Jumbos were ahead at the half in six games. Competing with perennial titans Williams (8-0 this year), Trinity (7-1), and Amherst (6-2) is one thing. Beating them is another.
"It does get frustrating," said Samko, who produced four winning seasons (1998, 2001, 2003, 2007) in his tenure and finished 57-79 overall.
"I wish that we had won a few more games than we did, but it's still about the [players], and the relationships."
And he will treasure those relationships forever.
The 'Inbox' in his email is full. "I stopped counting at 100," he said. And the phone never stopped ringing with well wishes from former players. "This has been a pretty gratifying day."
A University of Connecticut grad who prepped at Worcester Academy under the legendary Dee Rowe, Samko first arrived at Tufts as a 22-year-old assistant under Paul Pawlick to coach the offensive line. He stayed five years (also serving as the head baseball coach) before a five-year stint on Carm Cozza's staff at Yale. After a successful seven-run run as head coach at the University of the South, he was lured back to the Tufts campus by former AD Rocky Carzo. It's been home ever since.
"It's not all about the wins and the losses, it's about the relationships, and I'm really lucky," he said.
Samko and his wife Mary Kay, the longtime men's and women's swim coach at Bentley, have made their home in Arlington. Three of their four children, Tracey, Kristin, and Peter, are Tufts graduates. Their fourth child, 15-year-old Michael, attends Buckingham, Browne & Nichols.
Now, he'll take a step back, and analyze his next move.
"Dee Rowe, who has been a great influence in my life, told me yesterday, 'you need to have a plan, keep coaching,' " said Samko. "And I'd like think that my reputation is pretty good. It's been a good ride, but stuff happens."
Offensive coordinator Jay Civetti will coordinate recruiting efforts and off-season activities at Tufts on an interim basis while the university conducts a national search for a successor.
With that streak, Kuechly, the Eagles' sophomore middle linebacker, started picking up individual honors. First-team All-Atlantic Coast Conference . . . runner-up for the Butkus Award as the nation's best linebacker . . . first-team All-America selection by the Football Writers . . . Coaches All America . . . and Walter Camp All-American.
Finally, with the announcement which was made this afternoon, Kuechly completed the sweep, being named first team on the Associated Press's All-American team. He is the 10th consensus All-American selection in Boston College history and the first Eagle chosen since defensive back Jamie Silva in 2007.
In addition to Kuechly and Silva, BC’s previous consensus first-team All-America selections include Luke Urban (1920), Gene Goodreault (1940), Mike Holovak (1942), Doug Flutie and Tony Thurman (1984), Mike Ruth (1985), Pete Mitchell (1994), and Mike Cloud (1998).
Kuechly's climb as been as steady as it has been spectacular. He started as an outside linebacker as a true freshman last season, but with the graduation of Mike McLaughlin and the injuries and illnesses suffered by Mark Herzlich, Kuechly was moved to middle linebacker in training camp.
BC coach Frank Spaziani compared it to crossing the expressway at rush hour, but Kuechly never seemed to miss a step, extending his string of games with double-digit tackles to 21, including twice when he was credited with more than 20 tackles. The nation's leading tackler, he also broke the BC single-season record of tackles with 171. His 102 solo tackles also leads the nation.
"He is as good at his position as (former BC quarterback and current Atlanta Falcon QB) Matt Ryan was at his position,'' said Spaziani, who was recruiting in Ohio today. "In all aspects, leadership and obviously production.'''
Kuechly, who came to BC from St. Xavier High School in Cincinnati, was not highly recruited by major programs such as Ohio State or Notre Dame because he was regarded as too small to play linebacker and not fast enough to play defensive back at the next level. He did both at St. Xavier, but he attracted BC (as well as Virginia and Stanford) because he fit the mold that Eagles coaches look for a player, student and person.
"A typical BC kid,'' said Spaziani, who would have liked to have the luxury of redshirting Kuechly as a freshman, but had little choice when Kuechly began dominating the defensive side of the line of scrimmage from almost the first day that he arrived at BC.
Also, BC senior offensive tackle Anthony Castonzo was a third-team AP All-American selection.
The dead zone: Exam week for the "student-athletes" so games are hard to come by but there are a few tidbits.
LSU: The Tigers were upset by Coastal Carolina in overtime 78-69 Monday night. They're 6-3 but two of the losses have been to Nicholls State and Coastal. Might take a while for people to get angry about basketball in Baton Rouge but if this keeps up, Trent Johnson will come under fire. The last time Coastal beat a BCS team it was 1993 (South Carolina). I will say this, the Chanticleers are 8-2. We might see them in the bracket in March.
UCLA: The Bruins beat Cal Davis 74-67. Just seems like the score should have been bigger.
San Diego State: The Aztecs struggled to get past Cal Poly 51-45. See above but the Aztecs had an excuse, leading scorer Kawhi Leonard was too sick to play as was another starter, Chase Tapley. Plus they were zero for 18 on three-pointers.
Under the radar: Northwestern beat LIU 81-65 for its sixth victory without a loss. The Mildcats could win their first 10 before they play at Purdue on New Year's Eve. They do come to New York City next week to play in the Holiday Festival at Madison Square Garden. They'll beat St. Francis of New York, then play the winner of St. John's-Davidson in the final.
Old complaint: The Holiday Festival is a tournament I attended many times over the years. It's where I saw Bob Lanier score 50 points, where I saw Kareem Abdul-Jabbar play for UCLA, Rick Mount for Purdue, and Wes Unseld for Louisville. Hard to believe how insignificant it's become.
TV joke: San Diego beat LaVerne 82-57. Shirley next up on the schedule.
Radio joke: Florida A&M beat Allen 69-36. Burns next up on the schedule.
My team: The Nicholls State Colonials hung tough before falling to Mississippi State 67-58 in Starksville Monday night. That's two road losses in the road. Things will improve when league play starts.
My soap opera: No suspensions, no benchings and Seton Hall pulverizes poor Longwood 78-51. Herb Pope was put back in the starting lineup but only played 14 minutes. Hmm. Maybe there are still some problems. The big story of the night was the Seton Hall student section. Good story here by the astute Brendan Prunty of the Newark Star-Ledger.
How deep is you valley?: Poor Mississippi Valley State. The Delta Devils lost at Mississippi 101-69 Monday. As Charles P. Pierce pointed out to me (Bill Simmons would never have noticed), they've already lost road games to Georgia, Indiana, Saint Mary's, BYU, and Butler. Next up are road games vs. Arkansas, Kentucky, and Marquette.
Some updates: Clemson lost guard Demontez Stitt for a few weeks after knee surgery ... Josh Selby has finally paid his debt to society, sitting out nine games for accepting improper benefits from Carmelo Anthony's agent, and will play this Saturday for Kansas. He's supposed to be a sensation. For Jayhawks' fans, I hope he's better than North Carolina's freshman Harrison Barnes.
Less than 24 hours later, Scott Caldwell was still trying to fully appreciate the moment.
His goal in the 78th minute of Sunday's Division 1 men's soccer final lifted the University of Akron to a 1-0 victory over previously unbeaten Louisville in Santa Barbara, Calif., the first NCAA championship for the school in any sport.
``It's definitely something I dreamed about as a youngster, playing on a national champion, but I didn't think it would be me scoring the goal,'' said Caldwell, a sophomore midfielder from Braintree in a phone interview from California this afternoon.
The game winner, a 15-yard shot after his initial bid was blocked from the top of the penalty box, capped a remarkable scoring spree for the 5-foot-8, 145-pound Caldwell. He netted five goals in seven postseason games after not scoring a single marker in the first 37 games of his college career.
"The ball bounced back to me and the rest was just instinct," he said. "I was able to get the rebound over the goalie's shoulder from the center of thebox. There wasn't a lot of time to think about it or celebrate because we still had time left in regulation."
After connecting for his first career goal against Buffalo in the Mid-American Conference tournament, he added goals against Western Michigan (MAC), West Virginia (NCAA) and California (NCAA). He was named the outstanding player of the final four.
"Once I got my first one, it gave me the confidence going forward," said Caldwell, who attended the Edison Academic Center in Bradenton, Fla. while suiting up for national youth teams. His sister, Amy, was a senior forward on the Boston College women's team that advanced to the national semifinals earlier this month. Their father, Larry, played for the Hartford Bicentennials in the NASL.
``I'm feeling pretty ecstatic because it's our first national championship in any sport at Akron. I feel like I've done something for the entire school.''
The Zips (22-1-2) won the title a year falling in the College Cup final to Virginia in a shootout.
Sports correspondent Marvin Pave also contrbuted to this report.
UMass: The Minutemen have fallen considerably and couldn’t compete with The Days of Our Lives guys from Seton Hall Saturday night. Still plenty of time for Derek Kellogg to get things going again but it sure would be nice if Terrell Vinson would start showing up.
BC: Should there be a rule that other local teams shouldn’t play at the same time as the Patriots? Saw the last four minutes during Patriots halftime. The Eagles showed a lot of guts in getting a four-point win on the road over Maryland.
Under the radar: Providence’s Marshon Brooks has scored at least 25 points in six straight games.
My team: Rude awakening for my Nicholls State Colonels as they were routed on the road at Wichita State 68-50.
Jimmer: Sully’s Court’s favorite guard Jimmer Fredette finally had a special game, scoring 33 points in BYU’s victory over Arizona. In two games vs. Arizona he has 82 points.
It’s tough: to be a St. Bonaventure fan. The Bonnies pull off a great victory at St. John’s then return home and lose to archrival Niagara.
Surprising scores, amazing margins:
UNC Wilmington 81, Wake Forest 69: The Deacons are the worst team in the ACC. This was only Wilmington’s second victory over an ACC team in 33 games. Wake has lost to Stetson, Virginia Commonwealth, and Winthrop too.
Texas College 77, Louisiana Lafayette 74: Bo Lamar, where are you when we need you? The school we used to know as Southwestern Louisiana is 1-7 after this loss to an NAIA schools.
Michigan State 77, Oakland 76: Hey, Oakland’s not bad and is well coached. Michigan State has had some tough matchups. Just winning is enough in this case.
Quinnipiac 73, Rhode Island 66: The Bobcats are now 7-2 and have to be rated the favorites in the Northeast Conference after pulling off this upset in their beautiful facility. Rhody is still a team capable of beating anyone but then the Rams occasionally submit efforts like this.
Florida Atlantic 63, Hofstra 59: Nice road win for Mike Jarvis.
East Tennessee 63, Mississippi State 62: This one was in Starkville where State was playing without Dee Bost and Renaldo Sydney who are still serving NCAA suspensions.
Fairfield: The Stags, coached by former Al Skinner assistant Ed Cooley, were preseason favorites in the MAAC but started slowly. Now they’ve won their last five including a win over Siena in Albany.
IUPUFW: That's Indiana University Purdue University Fort Wayne. The Mastodons, coached by former Indiana guard Dane Fife was 7-2 after winning six straight.
Iona: The Gaels, under first-year coach Tim Cluess have won seven in a row
St. Francis of New York: Holy Lou Rossini and Bobby Valvano! The Terriers have won four in a row including an unexpected W at Canisius Friday night. Looking back, maybe BC’s easy win over the Terriers should have signaled that the Eagles were going to better than we thought. Since then, St. Francis has won five of seven and the two losses (to Brown and South Florida) were by three points each.
Tennessee: The Vols could be Big East champions after beating Villanova and Pitt. They beat Pitt Saturday at the new Penguins arena and the loss broke a 58-game winning streak for Pitt in non-conference games played in Pittsburgh.
BU: The Terriers couldn’t compete with Harvard Saturday, losing 87-71, and have lost four in a row.
Colgate: The Red Raiders lost to Syracuse 100-43 Saturday night, their 10th straight loss to start the season. They’re officially the worst team in America. Earlier this season, Colgate lost to Duke 100-58.
Gonzaga: The Zags lost road games to Washington State and Notre Dame and are now 4-5. And looking up to Saint Mary’s in the WCC.
Manhattan: Elevator going down as the Jaspers, once one a top-notch low major, have lost seven straight.
St. John’s: Bad week for first-year coach Steve Lavin as the Redmen lost to St. Bonaventure are home then blew a 21-point lead and fell to Fordham 84-81 Saturday.
The week’s Butler (best mid-major): Cleveland State, the Vikings journeyed to Huntsville, Tex.. and beat Sam Houston State 74-62 for their 12th straight victory.
This week’s Final Four: Duke, Pitt, Michigan State, Kansas State
This week’s national champion: Duke
My viewing habits: Jumped around a lot Thursday night. Caught the end of the IUPUI-Ohio State game. IUPUI was playing way over its head and an upset loomed but as soon as Ohio State decided to assert itself, it was over. Jon Diebler has some big baskets and wide-body freshman Jared Sullinger dominated inside for 40 points. I couldn't settle on Georgetown-Temple or Xavier-Butler. Both games ended up as tight contests. Temple looked like the nationally ranked team they were supposed to be and ended up with a 68-65 victory that will bode well in March. The Owls get solid inside play from Lavoy Allen and sometimes spectacular guard play from Juan Fernandez (he had the equivalent of a soccer back-tap pass for a layup Thursday night) but the key is guard Ramone Moore, who scored a career-high 30. When he's scoring, the Owls are a much better team. Xavier-Butler was a rock fight. X played outstanding defense but never put the Bulldogs away completely yet managed to prevail 51-49.. Butler point guard Ronald Nored is not having the best of seasons, he missed two free throws with the score tied with 32.2 seconds left then fouled Xavier's Mark Lyons, who made the two free throws for the winning points. Butler (4-4) went over 13 minutes without a field goal in the first half. X is still finding its way offensive and had their own problems. That's why it was close at the end.
My viewing habits: Nothing, my dish is down. It will be fixed before Thursday night's games. As I type this, a guy is on my roof.
Oops: Illinois and Oakland played about seven minutes with a smaller women's basketball before the mistake was detected and the ball replaced. "After my first shot I thought, 'This can't be right,' '' Illinois guard Demetri McCamey said. The officials didn't believe him at first.
My favorite soap opera: Seton Hall lost to Arkansas 71-62 in a netural site at Louisville. The Pirates are 1-3 since leading scorer Jeremy Hazell broke his wrist. Herb Pope was benched for the first half for violating team rules, the Pirates fell behind by 17, rallied but didn't have enough to finish. The drama never ends in South Orange.
My adopted team: My Nicholls State Colonials pounded Loyola of New Orleans 75-41 to improve to 4-2. They forced 28 turnovers.
BC: The Don, Steve Donahue, continues to have BC play entertaining and winning basketball as evidenced by Wednesday night's 88-86 win over Providence. The fans, few that they are, are excited.
UMass: Horrible loss to Maine for the Minutemen. Derek Kellogg has an improved team but he's got to get the program to a level where it doesn't lose games like this.
Not UNLV's first rodeo: The Rebels have lost their homecourt to the National Rodeo Finals but did just fine at the Orleans Casino Arena, winning their ninth without loss by beating Boise State 75-72.
.500 feels good: Fordham beat Manhattan 73-59 and is 4-4, the first time they've been .500 since Jan. 19, 2008.
Not missed: Duke didn't need star freshman guard Kyrie Irving to beat Bradley 83-48. Irving is out with an foot injury and Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski went to the Bill Belichick playbook and revealed little about it. He did say it was serious so the worry is that he's out indefinitely. Andre Dawkins, who's really upped his game this season, had 28 points vs. Bradley.
Sorry I missed it (2):
1. Missouri 85, Vanderbilt 82: In overtime. Missouri is mystical in a way that its game just have some sort of added excitement or weird quality. Marcus Denmon, who's quickly emerging as one of the top guards in America, got a steal and converted a three-point play with five seconds left in the OT to win the game. Mizzou has won 51 straight at home.
2. BYU 86, Vermont 58: The game was played in Glens Falls, N.Y. as a homecoming game for BYU guard and Sully's Court favorite Jimmer Fredette. Jimmer pleased the hometown fans with 26 points but he's still not shooting as well as he can as he missed 10 of 19 shots.
Surprising scores, amazing margins:
Saint Mary's 77, Denver 47: What a crush job. The Gaels are the best team in the West Coast Conference.
Washington State 81, Gonzaga 59: This just helps prove the above point but the Coogs are a tough outfit. The Zags are 4-4, the worst start ever for coach Mark Few.
Kentucky 72, Notre Dame 58: A reality check for the Irish who are definitely overachievers.
Louisville 61, San Francisco 35: The Cardinals are only playing home games but they're definitely better than projected. They will play their first road game at Western Kentucky Dec. 22, the only non-conference road game they play. John Wooden would be proud.
Buffalo 82, Niagara 64: The Purple Eagles are in a barrel heading over the fall.
San Diego State 77, Cal 55: This one was played in Berkeley so the margin is stunning. Undefeated in nine games, the Aztecs are off to the best start in school history. Coach Steve Fisher refused to get too excited, as he told reporters, "That means we've not fallen on our face, which sometimes happens. You get rated and then you don't live up to what expectations are held by others. Our town, they are a bit unrealistic in terms of what they think we are. They think we could probably play the Celtics and if Kevin Garnett would not play we'd have a chance."
TCU 81, Texas Tech 77: A game you'd expect a Big East team to win.
LOWELL -- The play, designated as Lowell 2, is not a favorite of Shannon Hlebichuk. The University of Massachusetts Lowell field hockey coach designed the simple scheme, but rarely puts it into play when her squad is awarded a penalty corner.
Sitting in her office earlier this week, fielding phone calls and e-mails from well-wishers, the nine-year coach laughed at the irony that Lowell 2 put the River Hawks over the top, and sealed the best season in program history.
On Saturday in Kentucky, at the University of Louisville, Hlebichukís squad culminated a perfect 24-0 season with a 1-0 win over Shippensburg University for the NCAA Division 2 national championship. The lone goal, a corner off the stick of Liz Day in the 22d minute, was converted off Lowell 2.
"It's so funny, coach hates that play," said Sammy Macy, a senior forward from Tewksbury. "She calls it a lazy play because it's just where I get the ball and dish it to the right."
"Shannon said never run that corner because it's too simple. We were set to run another play, but when I looked to my left, I knew it wouldn't work so I converted it to Lowell 2 and dished it to Liz on my right."
Macy found Day, a senior midfielder from North Andover, open to the right of the goal, and Day's shot dribbled up the field, bounced off of the pads of the Shippensburg goalie, and trickled into the back of the cage.
"I got a good stick on it and it rolled up the grass, hit her pads, and snuck in there," said Day. "Sammy saw me open and improvised; she just flicked the ball over to me and I tried to connect. At the time we didn't think anything of it because it was so early in the game and no one expected it to be such a tight game. Even after, it never hit me that I scored the game-winner in the national championship."
And for Day, Macy, and the other five River Hawk seniors (including Amesburyís Katie Enaire and Chelmsford's Jaime Hadley), the victory helped erase a bit of the sour taste from their three previous trips to the national championship game, each of which ended in defeat. And this year they celebrated their title as part of a championship festival in Louisville, in which the NCAA crowned Division 2 champions in cross-country and women's volleyball in addition to field hockey.
"It was an entire weekend, with glitz and glamour. We played our game on a Division 1 field. We went to Churchill Downs, to the Muhammad Ali Center, and just took it all in," said Hlebichuk. "The seniors were really able to pour their hearts out during some really great meetings that weekend and they were very much focused on winning the national title this year."
The youngest of four sisters, Day is the only one to play field hockey in college; her older sisters, Christine, Pam, and Kim, respectively, each played at North Andover (Pam and Kim were on the varsity when Liz was a freshman).
"I grew up playing field hockey with them, but it wasn't until I was on an actual team [freshman year in high school] that I really fell in love with the sport," said Day. "I also played softball and basketball, but immediately knew field hockey would be my favorite. To play so close to home and then have the career weíve had and end things this way ... it still hasnít sunk in that weíre national champions."
The River Hawks will be honored at a rally tomorrow at 3 p.m. at the Tsongas Arena.
Sapna Pathak can be reached at email@example.com.
My viewing habits
OK, Jim Boeheim has said his team is overrated, and maybe they were at one time. But after last night's performance in a 72-58 victory over Michigan State, that's no longer true. The Orange were simply awesome, scoring in a variety of ways, both inside and out, running, playing half-court offense, sharing the basketball, then confusing Michigan State with its 2-3 zone. This is the first time I've seen Syracuse, but what is clear is that point guard Scoop Jardine and center Rich Jackson have really improved. The two were high school teammates at Neumann-Goretti in South Philly and they have a symbiotic relationship of the highest order. The higher level of play of these two is the biggest reason Syracuse is playing so well.
Surprising scores, amazing margins
St. Bonaventure 67, St. John's 66: I saw the last minute and it was insane, with lots of back-and-forth. The Bonnies tried to give it away twice (the possession arrow bailed them out once), but Andrew Nicholson, the Bonnies' 6-foot-9-inch junior center and one of the best unknown players in the country, banged in a clutch jumper from the top of key for a foot-on-the-line two with five seconds left that provided the winning points. There will be lots of days like this for Steve Lavin in his first year at St. John's.
Virginia 54, Radford 44: How's this for winning ugly? Virginia shot only 27 percent and missed 15 straight shots at one point. Radford, of course, was worse, going nearly 15 minutes without scoring at one point.
Georgia 73, Georgia Tech 72: Mark Fox might have something brewing in Athens. The Bulldogs are 6-2, and winning this rivalry game in Atlanta counts for a lot more than one win.
Dayton 63, Central Connecticut 61: Something's not right in Dayton. I'll check it out and get back to you.
Cleveland State 94, West Virginia Tech 62: That's 11-0 for the Vikings but, honestly, I would hope they could find a better opponent than this.
Iowa 51, Northern Iowa 39: This must have been ugly. Iowa needs to win its next two against Iowa State and Drake to win the state championship.
Utah State 81, Long Beach 53: The Aggies are extra tough at home in Logan but I thought the Beach was capable of better effort than this. Beach coach Don Monson didn't stick around to watch; he was ejected just four minutes into the game. I guess he didn't like the home court advantage.
No official word yet, but it looks like the BC linebacker Luke Kuechly will not win the Butkus Award. With the announcement due tonight, BC officials had not yet had any word from Butkus officials about Kuechly, who was one of the five finalists.
Significantly, Butkus officials did contact Texas A&M officials and asked what their plans were for this evening, which would seem to make A&M linebacker Von Miller the likely choice.
We will see.
Miami coaching search will heat up. If we had a say we would take a hard look at UConn's Randy Edsall, Temple's Al Golden and Houston's Kevin Sumlin.
Edsall would be home run for Canes. He's media friendly,has won in the Big East, has NFL and ACC ties, knows how to recruit Florida, can build a program.
If Miami doesn't do it, Michigan should if it decides to make a change.
Nothing against UConn, which deserved its spot in the BCS because it played by the rules and won the Big East's automatic BCS bid with its win over South Florida, but how do you take a bowl system seriously which leaves out an 8-4 Temple team, which beat UConn, and allow a bunch of 6-6 mediocre teams such as UTEP, BYU, and Army, which Temple also beat, into the mix.
BCS computers made a mistake and had LSU 10th and Boise 11th instead of the other way around. No big deal right? Not really. Computer rankings had Stanford ahead of Wisconsin (which guaranteed Stanford a BCS slot).
What is Michigan doing with Rich Rodriguez? By leaving Rich Rod's fate hanging until after the bowl game, Michigan will get killed in recruiting which has already begun. And that's just plain dumb and unfair to Michigan. Fire him or say he will be back next season.
BC's in a bowl game on January 9th. Come on. That's next season. You can't expect quality when a team has a 43 day break between games. There is no way the Eagles can be as sharp as they were at the end of the regular season. But ESPN rules the world in college football and they wanted some programming on January 9th, which is NFL wild-card Sunday, so we have BC-Nevada. We hear Valentine's Day is open.
Big East needs to move and add Central Florida which will put it at 10 teams and make an 18 team basketball conference. Big East basketball will then break down into two 9 team divisions (basketball, football) all under the Big East umbrella and almost everyone will be happy,
BC linebacker Luke Kuechly is the best linebacker in college football this season and should win the .Butkus Award. Whether he does or not remains to be seen.
Boston College: A lot of people are excited about Steve Donahue and the Eagles after consecutive victories over Indiana and UMass.
Central Florida: The Knights are 7-0 including a victory over Florida.
Duke: The Blue Devils emphatically showed they’re No. 1 by beating Michigan State and Butler back-to-back.
Providence: The Friars are 8-1 after beating Rhode Island 87-74 Saturday.
Virginia: The Cavs are just 5-3 but beat Minnesota and Virginia Tech in back-to-back games.
George Washington: The Colonials have lost four in a row to Hampton. UNC Wilmington, George Mason and Navy. Not exactly an RPI boosting stretch.
Maine: The Black Bears lost consecutive games to Quinnipiac and Brown (at home). They’ve been disappointing.
New Mexico State: The Aggies have lost six straight including a heartbreaker in overtime to New Mexico Saturdayl.
Niagara: The Purple Eagles have had a long run of success but now they’re 2-5 and lost to Marist Friday night, the first victory of the season for the Red Foxes.
Oregon State: I feel like I’m picking on the Beavers but a loss to Utah Valley State followed by a loss to Colorado puts them in five falling.
This week’s Butler (best mid-major): Undefeated Cleveland State
This week’s Final Four: Duke, Pitt, Kansas State, Michigan State
This week’s national champion: Duke
Preserving the streak: Kansas was able to hold off UCLA 77-76 at Allen Fieldhouse where the Jayhawks have now won 64 straight games. A little luck was involved as a unusual foul was called against UCLA with :00.7 left. Here's the video if you haven't see it. Judge yourself. I think the ref should have swallowed the whistle. Kansas is still without freshman guard Josh Selby, who's serving a nine-game suspension for receiving improper benefits from Robert Frazier who is the business manager for Carmelo Anthony. I guess Selby will staying a few years (sarcasm alert).
Conflicted feelings: Baylor's LaceDarius Dunn is a favorite player of mine but it's hard to reconcile the charges of domestic abuse. He was suspended for three games but is quickly rounding into form. He hit six three-pointers Thursday night as Baylor beat Arizona State 68-54. Baylor's freshman Perry Jones is a 6-11 sensation. He's already 6-11 but his arms seem extra long and he's a quick jumper. When he got the ball down low it didn't seem like Arizona State had time to even foul him he dunked so quickly. One was a great baseline drive and reverse dunk. Look out for him. He could quickly become a Sully's Court favorite.
Rebounding machine: Kenneth Faried has 20 rebounds for Morehead State Thursday night (he also scored 15 points) as Morehead beat Tennessee Martin 70-49. You don't see it too often. Faried is a 6-8 forward and one of the most underrated players in America.
Still undefeated: Cleveland State beat Wisconsin Green Bay 83-75 on the road and is now 9-0.
Fairfield 41, Savannah State 39: This is a win but the Stags have underachieved. They made 13 of 47 shots in this one and 13 of 25 from the line. How'd they win?
College of Charleston 82, Davidson 73: A little early message concerning the Southern Conference race. Andrew Goudelock, C of C's star guard, is another underrated player. He had 33 in this game.
St. Francis (N.Y.) 57, St. Francis (Pa.) 44: This was played in Brooklyn but we can feel pretty confident we know who the best St. Francis is this season.
My viewing habits: I get an incomplete but I saw a lot of the Michigan State-Duke game. The conversation about Duke now seems to be about how this season's team might be better than last season's national champion. It could be true starting with freshman point guard Kyrie Irving, who had 31 last night and plays like he's been the starting Duke point guard for years. Plus the Plumlee twins have really improved as sophomores. Meanwhile, there's still Kyle Singler and Nolan Smith. That being said, Michigan State has its chances but didn't take care of the ball well enough.
New and improved: Many people are telling me that the atmosphere around BC basketball has changed dramatically for the better. Many of those same people are not Al Skinner bashers. Sometimes change is good especially if it leads to nights like Wednesday when BC beat Indiana 88-76 in a game that entertained everyone. The students aren't on board yet, however.
Flexing muscles: San Diego State has another impressive victory, beating down Saint Mary's 69-55. The Aztecs are 7-0.
Forgettable night: Things could not have been worse for the Atlantic 10 Wednesday night. The scores: East Tennessee 73, Dayton 68; Miami of Ohio 75, Xavier 64; East Carolina 62, Charlotte 61; Old Dominion 77, Richmond 70; Drexel 62, Saint Joe's 50; Harvard 80, Fordham 57; Pitt 80, Duquesne 66. UMass saved the league from total disaster by winning 66-65 at Quinnipiac. Some people may count that as a loss as well.
Winning at Keno: Providence is 7-1 under coach Keno Davis after beating Northeastern 77-72 Wednesday night. No one was expecting this. I haven't seen the Friars yet but I will soon.
Surprising scores, amazing margins:
Central Florida 57, Florida 54: Marcus Jordan, son of Michael, led the way with 18 points in a game played at the new Orlando Magic's arena. Central is 6-0. It seemed odd when coach Donnie Jones left Marshall for Central Florida, seemed like a parallel move in Conference USA. I guess not. Jones was used to be an assistant to Florida coach Billy Donovan.
Maryland 62, Penn State 39: OK, Penn State missed 54 shots. Maryland only took 47.
South Florida 60, VCU 59: This was in OT and VCU was coming off a victory over UCLA. Disappointing stepback for VCU fans like Julian Benbow. South Florida has been inconsistent but is capable of beating anyone.
Cal Poly 54, Hawaii 53: Obviously, the Rainbows were on the mainland.
Butler 65, Loyola of Chicago 63: The Ramblers missed their chance to make a big move. It was their first loss after seven victories.
Northern Iowa 60, Iowa State 54: The first loss for Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg. Northern Iowa isn't the same team as last season but obviously there's still some life in Cedar Falls.
Wisconsin 87, NC State 48: Finally, the Badgers outscored their football team.
Utah Valley State 70, Oregon State 68: Not sure how the Beavers can explain this home loss.
The one person who likes it (or in another school of thought, we could blame him for everything): Pitt coach Jamie Dixon tells the Associated Press about how he was instrumental in getting TCU and the Big East together. Here's the AP story:
PITTSBURGH (AP) -- Pitt basketball coach Jamie Dixon lobbied for TCU, his alma mater, to join the Big East in September with athletic director Chris Del Conte, a meeting that may have accelerated the school's interest in the conference.
On Monday, TCU's board of trustees unanimously approved an invitation to join the Big East in football and all other sports. And Dixon is in line to get some of the credit for the move from the Mountain West Conference Dixon, a former all-Southwest Conference guard at TCU, pitched the Big East to Del Conte during the Baylor-TCU football game on Sept 18. Dixon was in the Dallas area recruiting and visiting with a booster. Del Conte was initially skeptical, Dixon said, but the coach kept telling him the conference was a good fit. The Big East and TCU opened talks shortly after that.
"I think it's a great thing," Dixon said. "I'm a little biased, obviously, but it's a great institution with great academics. They have a complete, total commitment to athletics with what they do and what they put in their programs. I think it's a great area. We're going into one of the biggest TV markets in the country. That's a good thing for TV, recruiting, for the university's enrollment, applications, admissions."
While moving to the Big East allows TCU to gain access to an automatic BCS bowl berth if it wins the conference football championship, Dixon also said TCU's admission aids all sports, including basketball.
"If our football gets stronger, the rest of our sports get stronger. There had been so much talk about adding another football team," Dixon said. "I think if you're going to add one, you might as well add the best. They were the best available football team. Once you look at all the positives, you can see why we made this decision. The timing was right and the university is the perfect fit and the conference gives them the ideal fit."
While the Big East will have 17 basketball-playing schools, TCU's addition will cause only a minor alteration in the schedule, Dixon said. Rather than playing three home-and-away games against selected opponents, Dixon speculates each school will play two. In football, Big East teams no longer have to schedule five non-conference games a season.
"Everyone said it was too big when it went to 16 and when it was 13 and 12," Dixon said. "Sixteen worked fine and 17 doesn't bring too many changes. ... It's going to be fine. It's not going to change too many things. Talking to some people the last couple of days, I think with the conference tournament, there's a possibility of keeping everybody playing. There will be five games the first day. The 18-game schedule stays the same with the slight adjustment there will be two crossover games instead of three. TV will be able to still get the games they want."
The ACC bowl picture is still fuzzy, including Boston College's destination. The Eagles bowl fate hinges on whether the Champs Bowl decides to invite Notre Dame instead of a Big East team (which it can do once in the next three years) and whether the Champs Bowl then selects Miami as the ACC opponent for the Irish.
Here are the likely possibilities for the ACC and BC in descending order.
Orange Bowl-Virginia Tech-FSU winner
Chick Fil-A-Bowl--V Tech-FSU loser
Champs Bowl--NC State
Meineke Car Care Bowl--Clemson
Music City Bowl--North Carolina
Independence Bowl--Georgia Tech
Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl--Boston College
Orange Bowl--Virginia Tech-FSU winner
Chick-Fil-A Bowl VTech-FSU loser
Sun Bowl--Boston College
Meineke Car Care Bowl--NC State
Music City Bowl--North Carolina
Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl--Georgia Tech
Orange Bowl--FSU-Virginia Tech winner
Chick-Fil-A Bowl--FSU-Virginia Tech loser
Meineke Car Care Bowl--NC State
Music City Bowl--North Carolina
Military Bowl--Boston College
Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl-Georgia Tech
My viewing habits: Highly entertaining and, for these days, an unusual style of basketball as Georgetown beat Missouri 111-102 in overtime. Georgetown led by 18 in the first half but you could just feel that Missouri was going to get back into the game with its relentless, full-court defensive pressure and uptempo offense. For the most part, Georgetown did well against the pressure, making the most of the opportunities they got by beating it. The Hoyas were unconscious from behind the arc, hitting 15 and they also made all 18 of their free throws. Still, Missouri should have won in regulation except for missing three of four free throws in the final 19 seconds and not getting one defensive rebound that bounced off several people before landing in the hands of Georgetown's Chris Wright who nailed a three to send the game into overtime. In the OT, the Hoyas just couldn't miss. It was tremendous to see uptempo basketball being played; there's not enough of it in college basketball. If this had been an NCAA tournament game, it would have been an instant classic.
Surprising scores, amazing margins:
Illinois 79, North Carolina 67: Is it surprising that North Carolina loses anymore? No. The Heels couldn't handle Illinois guard Demetri McCamey.
Northwestern 91, Georgia Tech 71: The Wildcats are definitely an NCAA contender.
Florida Atlantic 61, Mississippi State 59: Big upset for Mike Jarvis, who's been under the radar, and is now in his third season in Boca Raton.
Miami 86, Mississippi 73: Miami had a bad loss to Rutgers so I guess this evens things out. The Hurricanes led by 30 at the half.
Western Carolina 66, Bradley 65: Bradley has lost consecutive games to Eastern Illinois and Western Carolina. No, Southeast Missouri is not next on the schedule.
Auburn 78, Georgia Southwestern 50: Auburn finally found an opponent they can beat.
Washington State 84, Sacramento State 36: The Cougars scored the first 27 points of the game.
Washington 102, Long Beach 75: The Huskies have scored more than 100 points three times already. I'd like to see them play Missouri.
South Dakota State 82, Nevada 65: The Jackrabbits are 6-0. Nevada has fallen on hard times at 1-5.
- Michael Vega
- Mark Blaudschun
- Nancy Marrapese-Burrell