Sunday, January 31, 2010

Pitt to the Big 11?

The rumor mill is working overtime this weekend as news has leaked out of the proud home of Beano Cook that Pittsburgh will announce their move to the Big 11 on February 4. Everyone has an opinion, or half-baked theory, on what will happen next and why it will happen. Here’s my overview, trying to be as factual as possible.

Why does the Big 11 want to expand?

The answer is simple: money. It all comes back to cold, hard cash. Expanding, whether to 12, 14 or 16 teams would open up multiple revenue streams or improve current competitiveness.

Expand TV Markets

The Big Ten Network has been a boon to the conference, raking in a reported $9-10MM annually per school. As it stands, the BTN is a regional cable power. To ensure continued growth, the BTN needs to expand into other markets to get coveted standard tier cable inclusion and, as a result, more eyeballs. Forcing their way into virgin cable packages increases their revenue from both cable companies and advertisers.

Title Game

Adding a 12th member would allow the Big 11 to stage a conference title game in football. Not only is a title game a revenue generator, but it helps the Big 11 to keep pace with the other major conferences, the SEC, Big XII, and to a lesser extent, ACC. The SEC netted “only” $15MM last year from their wildly successful title game, so it’s safe to say the title game is a secondary concern to the TV markets.

Marketing & Mindshare

As it stands, the Big 11 football season ends the weekend before Thanksgiving. The other conferences have two more weeks of football after that to generate money and interest. The Big 11 is completely off the national radar during that timeframe, which has a negative effect on recruiting and further diminishes the Big 11’s brand.


This feeds out of a couple points above, but merits a separate mention. Expanding into new, key areas could open up heretofore, uncharted recruiting territory for the Big 11. NYC would be a huge get for basketball and adding Missouri would open a closer, though indirect, link to the talent rich football areas of Oklahoma and Texas. This is a particularly timely mention because many of the Rust Belt’s best football prospects are fleeing south this year. Is that the start of a trend?

On-Field Disadvantage?

Many have hypothesized that the Big 11 season’s early conclusion creates a disadvantage to its teams by lengthening the layoff before the bowl games. This is hard to prove and likely just a flimsy excuse for the conference’s recent struggles, particularly in BCS games.

Other Considerations

Much will be made of the academic implications that need to be considered. Those associated with the Big 11 have mentioned that any new member must also be a member of the Association of American Universities, which is a group of the top 62 research universities. Some select quotes from a New York Times story really paint the picture the Big 11 would like the public to believe.

“It’s significant that we have institutions that meet the academic standing and reputation of institutions now in the Big Ten,” Gee said. “I don’t want to coin a phrase here, but we are sort of the public equivalent of the Ivy League in our quality.”

Pittsburgh, Rutgers and Syracuse would probably give serious consideration to joining the Big Ten to enhance their academic reputations, said Kyle V. Sweitzer, a data resource analyst at Michigan State who wrote about university ambitions and conference affiliations in the most recent issue of New Directions for Higher Education.

Still, Rutgers and others would be “foolish not to explore” a move to the Big Ten, Sweitzer said. “No question the Big Ten has the academic reputation to go along with athletics,” he said. “I’m not sure the Big East does as a whole.”

Ah, nothing likes the typical Big 11 academic elitist tripe. Regardless of what the talking heads may say, this decision is not about academics. Anyone that the Big 11 would consider on an athletic and market basis is already on the list of 62 schools, rendering their posturing a moot point.

Why does Pitt want to leave?

Again, this is all about the money plus one nod to history and emotion.

TV Contract

Pitt would stand to gain their share of the $9-10MM annual BTN pie if they became a member. Splitting the goodies amongst another member may dilute the share per school, but it’s still a better haul than the Big East can offer.


The Big East is a football wasteland. The Big East is on thin ice with the BCS and may even lose their automatic bid. Meanwhile, the Big 11 consistently gets 2 teams into BCS bowls and is firmly entrenched in the college football subconscious. Additionally, Pitt plays in Heinz Field and struggles to regularly fill the place. Home games against the likes of Ohio St, Michigan and Penn State would guarantee sellouts when compared to Cincinnati, South Florida and UConn. Joining the Big 11 would also strengthen recruiting ties to the talent rich Ohio and Pennsylvania high schools.


The Big 11 may have its warts, but it is more stable than any conference, outside the Ivy League. Pitt will have no worries about their conference’s BCS viability or if other members are jumping ship for greener pastures. The Big 11’s money is also very stable with the BTN guaranteed for the next 20 years.

Rivalry Renewed

Joining the Big 11 would renew Pitt’s contentious rivalry with Penn State in all sports. It would also permanently fracture their underrated, but heated, rivalry with West Virginia.

What’s next for the Big East?

Three baseline questions and one big whopper of a question.

#1 How many teams does the Big 11 expand to? 12? 14? 16?

There’s been plenty of talk from the Big 11 folk that they may reach for 14 or 16 members. If they settle for 12, the response could be fairly simple – add another member. If they expand to 14 or 16, it could spell the end of the Big East as Rutgers and/or Syracuse would be a likely target. That would drop football playing members to a total of 5 or 6, and, as you will see below, the pickings are slim for viable football schools.

#2 Who will be the newest Big East member?

There are a couple logical contenders, but any addition must bring enough football credibility to keep the BCS football berth.

Boston College – I don’t know how logical this is, but its the Big East’s best option. I don’t know why BC would leave the football money and stability of the ACC, but they are obviously not a natural fit there.

Memphis – the most likely addition. They add a ton in basketball, but don’t bring much football, geographic or cultural continuity

East Carolina – they open up the Carolinas market and are a decent football program. Unfortunately, the Pirates have a terrible basketball program and their football coach just left for USF, so continued success there is tenuous.

Central Florida – UCF opens up the Florida market a bit more, but brings nothing to the table in terms of prestige or reputation

Temple – Temple fits nicely into the geographic footprint and brings instant hoops credibility. Temple was a former football-only member but were kicked out of the league for noncompetitive play. The Owls have turned the football program around under Al Golden and look dramatically more appealing than they did just 12 months ago

#3 Will the Big East keep its automatic BCS football berth?

It’s way to early to tell, but this looming question will be the main factor in determining the Big East’s Pittsburgh replacement strategy. Get #2 right and #3 becomes a non-issue and all is right with the world. Get #2 wrong and the answer to #3 is "No" and we begin discussing #4…

#4 Will the Big East break up?

This is the doomsday scenario put forth by many Marquette fans. I’ll explore it more tomorrow.

Friday, January 29, 2010

And They Say Marquette Is A School For Dumb Kids?

Via our BADger-backer comrade* KL comes this post from Brian Butch's Polar Blog; apparently, Overgrown Dewey is playing ball on the West Coast and struggling to figure out how the time zone shift alters the start times of his favorite television programs:
We've had a few arguments in my apartment over what time shows like "American Idol" and "Survivor" come on. My one roommate said that they have to come on at one time all across the US. I had to disagree because how would the people on the West Coast be able to watch these shows. If they work past five 5 o'clock and the show starts at 8 ET, there would be no way to watch it.
Most impressive, Brian. For your next trick, maybe you can figure out how to TiVO one show while watching another AT THE SAME TIME. I know, it's mind-blowing stuff.

* All Soviet-related references are intentional, by the way.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Tired of the Hawk

It's been slow around here and I'm tired of looking at the "Soul Glo" everytime i come back so I thought I would give a few updates on MU hoops in hopes on relighting our fire.

1. According to the USC scout board, USC and MU are planning on having a home and home series beginning next season ('10-'11), with the first game being played in LA next year. With Kevin O'neill taken over the helm in southern Cal, it only makes sense that he takes an opportunity to play a quality school in the non-conference portion of the schedule due to his relatinship with that school. I like it. It's not very often that we get to play a Pac10 school (screw you Lopez twins), and the fact that we get to play them in consecutive seasons and likely strengthen a typically weak non-conferene schedule makes this a great deal in my opinion.

2. While reading Todd Rosiak's QandA from today, I couldn't help but be a bit surprised at his response to one of the questions. One of the questions discussed (surprise surprise) was the transfer of Maymon and whether or not Buzz was to blame for the situation or made any promises to Jeronne that weren't kept. Here's Rosiak's response:

"I specifically asked Williams when Maymon left if he'd ever promised the kid or his father anything with regard to playing time, and he said he didn't. There is always enough blame to be spread around, but in this case I can't see what Williams could have done differently to appease Maymon's father short of playing him 30 minutes a game at the 2 or 3. And he just wasn't good enough or that type of player to warrant that. Water under the bridge, and MU gets a redo on the scholarship. Move on, and land someone better. "

Being that TR is quite a reliable source for insider information, I find it interesting, although not surprising, that he admits that it truly was the demands of Tim in this case. I'm not surprised with this as much as the "not good enough" and "LAND SOMEONE BETTER" comments. It seems as if TR holds some emotional stock with this and is a little bitter about it. It's understandable Todd.

3. Marquette at UConn this Saturday - so what does everyone think here? We haven't fared well against the bigger and more athletic teams this season (see Florida St, NC State, West Virginia, Syracuse), which is understandable, but considering we have held our own against all of these teams (aside from Cuse), can we finally steal one on the road in Stoors? It's going to be a tall task of course. However, if we can continue to stroke the 3 at a good clip and rebound well in spite of being out manned, we should have a shot. Further, a Providence team that we recently destroyed just beat the Huskies, so that bodes well right......although that could make for a very pissed off Stanley Robinson......I smell 17 dunks from him. If we are serious about making the NCAA, this would go a long way in reaching that goal.

4. In recruiting news, while we don't have any further committments at this point, we are fastly approaching the spring signing period and there are actually a large number of talented players that are yet to be committed. After doing some research, it appears that Buzz is continuing to hit the recruiting trail hard mid-Big East season which has put MU on the radar for a number of solid prospects. Kudos to that! While we all want that big man savior to join the program, I don't know if Buzz is concentrating 100% of his time on that. While he is putting some effort into recruiting some post players, it appears that overall he is still trying to simply get the best/most athletic guys he can, so he is continuing to go hard after "wing" players. It should be interesting to see what pans out considering DJO didn't sign until May, and it appears as if DJO could be the team's best player already next season. I'm confident we will like what transpires and I will continue to update the QB as news breaks.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Hawk To Hall As Expo

In news that Va Jay Jay should appreciate, Andre Dawson will enter the Hall of Fame as an Expo rather than as a Cub.

This should create some interesting fodder among the FIB media and Cubs fans over the next few days.

Monday, January 25, 2010

In Non-Brett Favre News ...

It's a sad day in the Wisconsin blogosphere this morning, as our boy Dan Walsh has announced that the Sportsbubbler site and his Daily Drink page are going night-night, effective February 4.

We've had our differences with the 'Bubbler -- or, more accurately, because of Toddles and his all-out assault on the English language and common sense, we had our difference (singular) with the 'Bubbler. Dan's column, though, was usually my first click of the morning, especially when he put up pictures like the one that's gracing the Drink today. (In a word: YUM.) More importantly, Dan's a good shit, and I'm sorry to see him hang up his bloggin' spurs.

Big Hat Tip to Dan today. See you on the dark side of the moon, buddy.

Instant Karma, Delayed.

For a while there, it looked like whatever demon Brett Favre sold his soul to was going to triumph over the Vikings' history of post-season futility, over all the bad karma the 'Queens have engendered this season, and even over Brett's Gunslinger tendencies.

And then: oh, sweet vengeance. The Brett Favre who haunted my nightmares as a Packer fan for 15+ years showed up and made the one throw that you cannot make in the waning seconds of the game, with your team on the outskirts of field goal position: across his body, into traffic, over the middle. (Could Ryan Longwell have made a 55-yard field goal? Fuck if I know, but if there's one thing I've learned about football, it's that it's much easier to attempt a field goal when your team actually has the ball.)

In a way, it was kind of like all the Ghosts of Favre Past showed up for the NFC Championship Game. The end-of-game pick evoked memories of a game I'm still not ready to talk about, as well as the beach ball Brett threw in overtime of the Divisional play-off game against Philly. The six Viking fumbles called to mind Brett's six-pick stinkbomb against the Rams. It was beautiful and painful and glorious and gut-wrenching all at the same time.

Favre Watch 8: It's the Vikings Problem Now! starts in earnest this morning ...

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Fat Tye-Dyed Cuse Tantrum

Somebody besides Jim Boeheim was unhappy with Syracuse's turnover laden start to the MU-Syracuse game on Saturday.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Moving On...

It's been awfully quiet around here. Are we all still recovering from the DePaul debacle?

Any thoughts on the Syracuse game? I for one have decided to watch it at a local pub so I can get my drink on if/when things get ugly.

In news that D3 will appreciate, I have nominated Mr. Sparkle for celebrity sausage of the week at Hot Doug's. Nominations run through tomorrow morning so feel free to partake in the sausage-fest, so to speak, if you get bored and have something amusing to post.

Oh By the Way

Lost in the shuffle of the GOD AWFUL performance of your Marquette Golden Eagles this week, was the breaking Brewers' news: They signed Doug Davis! Yay!!! No real surprise there. We all pretty much expected this. Just like we all now pretty much expect Doug to infuriate the populace with outings that are filled with walks, high pitch counts, and pretty much fraught with danger at every turn. Let's just hope that Doug's wriggling off the hook skills haven't deteriorated too much with age.

In an effort to bring us out of our Blue Demon induced blogging coma, I ask what do we think of this? I know Doug Davis isn't a whole lot to get excited about, especially for Brewer fans who already know what they're getting. Another team's fans might be looking at his numbers from the past few years and be more excited about getting a new free agent pitcher. But in Milwaukee, he's just Doug Davis. Be that what it may, Davis is still an upgrade to the Brewers' rotation. He's better than Braden Looper, and we're getting him for $1.75 million less than we paid Looper last year. I don't put too much faith in the whole "he's an innings guy" thing. I'm not sure that pitching crappily, but often is that big of an asset. But the Brewers' rotation last year was pretty damn pitiful, and I think Davis will help.
Also, props to Doug Melvin for getting his guy. Melvin and Co. said they were determined to find pitching help this offseason and they've done that. They've signed 2 of the top 5 or 6 starters on the market. Which doesn't say much for the market, but at least the effort is there. If the pitching could've even been mediocre last year the Brewers would have been legit contenders for the post season. I would have to say that they have made great strides toward achieving that mediocrity in 2010.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Junior Cadougan Revisited

After last night's debacle, I rescind my suggestion of playing Junior Cadougan this season. Losing to Depaul put the final nail in the coffin of MU's NCAA dreams. Just too many bad losses. That being said, regardless of how ready he is, I don't foresee him making enough of a difference to make this team go 9-3 or 8-4 from here on out.
Regarding Erik Williams however, I hope that this has the reverse effect. I don't see every game being as critical any more, so I would like to see Erik play a bigger role regardless of how lost he gets out there sometimes.
Next season is going to be rough without Lazar......I think worse than this season. So any additional experience that EWill can get this year should help out next season.
Did anybody else really expect Depaul not to make a shot at the end there? Somebody put a mad voodoo hex on our asses!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

This Was Entirely My Fault

And, I am sorry. I was over-confident... talked too much smack... posted too many times. I welcome our lone DePaul commenter, Brian, to come back to make me eat crow.

When the sad but faithful few representing in the DePaul student section finally figured out how to make the "hey, you suck!" chant point towards the MU fans with less than 5 minutes left, I foolishly commented "What are they gonna do next, storm the court if they win?!"... fuck me, they tried. And, I got my fucking glow-stick after it bounced off the random chick next to me.

Nothing like acting like you've been there before guys.
Despite the poor form in throwing glow sticks, I commend the few student who showed up for displaying some spirit and give props to the Blue Demons for breaking their Big East losing streak. Hopefully this win will enable the team to draw a new coach and some talent.

Lazar Hayward, Underrated Leader

Back to my knocking on the DePaul basketball program, the Chicago Tribune had a nice piece on Lazar Hayward today.

The story about Lazar was what the Tribune print edition chose to lead with for their information about the DePaul game at the Allstate Arena tonight. A nice little box in the corner noted tipoff time, location, tv/radio, records, and this little snippet from Brian Hamilton, "The Blue Demons, losers of six straight, can't locate any consistent offense, dead last in the Big East at 59.9 ppg. Not promising against an Eagles squad allowing just 62.6 ppg, tied for fourth in the league, and outscoring opponents by 14.4 ppg."

Like Reid indicated, unless we're sleeping, there is no reason for us not blow out DePaul comfortably.

On a Lazar note, that was pretty shitty of his mom.

Don't Sleep On DePaul!

I know we've spent the better part of 3 days here at the Buffet berating and ridiculing the debacle that is the DePaul basketball program. Everything we've said is 100% accurate*. That being said, I hope the team hasn't been reading this week. I know that the boys are Buffet regulars and all, but I hope they haven't found the time to log on this week. While it is true that DePaul is currently an abject disaster, it is also true that this is the biggest game for their fan base this year. Just because what qualifies as the year's biggest game at DePaul looks more like a UWGB-UWM game at the Cellular Arena in a blizzard, doesn't mean the increase in juice isn't there. There will be more fans there, they will be fired up (ish), and the team will notice. This year's team isn't good enough to go down there and sleepwalk through the game the way last year's team did. If we half-ass it this year, and Will Walker or some other chump decides to blow up and score 30, we will get beat. Last year that's exactly what happened and we still won by 15. If you're expecting DePaul to lie down and accept their whooping, you are in for a rough evening.

The only way this nightmare scenario comes to pass is if Marquette goes all Trevon Hughes and takes them as a joke. If the treat them like any other Big East opponent that needs to be crushed with maximum effort, then the ride back to MKE tonight will be quite pleasant. Hell, I might even let D3 eat White Castle in my car.

*100% Accuracy guarantee is not backed by any corroborating evidence or research aside from the "sniff test".

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Can Junior Play Center?

Via Walshy (Yosty-ed!) comes news that Yous Mbao is out for six weeks with a knee sprain.

What else can be said at this point? We're fucking snakebit. Snakebitten? Snakebat? Oh, who fucking cares -- we're now down to eight healthy bodies and one guy coming off a major leg injury who's never played a minute of college basketball.

On the bright side: at least we'll scrap that stupid 1-3-1 zone that had Yous at the point.

DePaul Really Does Suck

It has been quite some time since I posted as the artist formerly known as FPMKE so I thought I better get back on the crazy train here before Rubie & SBTG banish me to the land of wind and dust.

Seeing as I disappointed my family by refusing to be a legacy at DePaul (Grandfather, Dad, Sister, and Brother-in-law are all alums), I thought it would be appropriate for me to write some sort of scathing post about DePaul basketball. I was hoping to find a nice DePaul basketball blog to reference and hyperlink so we could all take turns poking fun at their losing ways. Sadly, the glory days of Ray Meyer are long gone and after several coaching changes, a bout of talented players leaving early for the NBA, a logo change, and most recently putting Jerry Wainwright out to pasture and an injury to Mac Koshwal, the program is left in shambles and the fans have no energy at all. Aside from some poorly populated blogs that are affiliated with major sites (Scout, Rivals, etc.), there are no clear cut blogs dedicated to loving/hating DePaul.

DePaul Basketball does have 2 (yes two!) Facebook fan pages... one with 48 fans and with 107 fans. The DePaul LaCrosse team had one fan page with 112 fans. The DePaul Blue Crew (which appears to be some sort of official athletics forum) has 167 fans. For you non-Facebook users, Marquette Golden Eagles athletics had 10,094 fans as of this morning. Someone in the DePaul Athletics Marketing Office just is not doing a good job of making use of a free marketing tool. That, and the team sucks.

I did find this post about student tickets for the "Rivalry Night" game against Marquette. DePaul is actually offering students free tickets, credit towards their Blue Demon Reward Points for attending (that can be traded in for great prizes), free transportation, a free t-shirt (apparently an unlimited supply), and a free glow stick (that will likely be thrown at Marquette fans or on the court in disgust). Now if that doesn't draw fans, I don't know what will (besides putting a competitive product on the floor)... this could really screw D3s attendance projection.

I feel like I'm kicking a dead horse with this post but the point is that there is no spirit for DePaul Basketball. The school makes its fan-base travel all the way to Rosemont to see a crappy team play in a half-empty (and I'm being generous here) arena. This program is a shadow of what it once was and has a lot of work to do if it truly wants to be competitive in the BEast.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Who's In for DePaul?

So, who's planning to head to the Rosemont Horizon to view the steaming crater that Old Gill/Jerry Wainright/Paul Gleason left for the Blue Demons on Wednesday? I'm trying to round up a car pool crew. I know that Reid is in, and I believe that SBTG is in as well. We all know that Sheets' Va Jay Jay has sand in his va jay jay and can't go, but are there any other takers?
Also, what's the over/under on announced attendance? I'd say 8,500, with about 3k in the stands. 250 students, max.

Dear Saints Defense,

Please for the love of God shut this old fart up...

Flipping through sports talk radio yesterday morning (Sunday) on my way home from the office, the 620 WTMJ sports talk show was all ready fielding calls from Ted Thompson haters and this was BEFORE the Vikings game. It had me yelling at the radio. One idiot...Kyle from Greenfield who stated he was 29 and a true "Packers fan" actually said that because TT showed Favre the door it was a bad business decision and the Packers lost half of their fan base because everybody he knows is rooting for the Vikings and Brett Favre. I don't even know where to begin and the hosts of the show couldn't believe what they were hearing and I agreed with everything they said. Basically they said if you are a true Packers fan you can't cheer for the can root for Favre to do well but you can't cheer for the Vikings. Secondly, Ted Thompson has the franchise in a perfect spot for the future because he was able to replace a franchise QB with another franchise QB that is now signed through the 2013 season. Additionally, the team is the youngest team in the NFL again and is well under the salary cap which means if we sign some of our young guys who are coming up due for a new contract we could have the nucleus of this team together for several years to make some nice runs in the future so the Packers seem to be doing all right from a business standpoint. And they dismissed the idea that half of the fan base is no longer Packers fans and stated that if anything this is a prime example of how one person, even Brett Favre, isn't bigger than the team. Amen to that!

How Much Bad Juju Can One Team Have?

Apparently unsatisfied with the bad karma they created with the Brett Favre fiasco*, the Vikings decided to give the Football Gods the finger once again yesterday afternoon: up 27-3 with less than two minutes to go, the 'Queens eschewed a field goal opportunity on fourth down and had Ol' Man Favre throw his fourth touchdown pass of the game -- and, ohbytheway, the fucker never threw that many touchdowns in a playoff game for the Packers -- to towel-hating dong-flaunter Visanthe Shiancoe.

* As Reid astutely pointed out yesterday, based on BreFarrr's performance this year, one comes to the inescapable conclusion that No. 4 was mailing it in during his last years in Green Bay. If he's capable of a 30+ TD, single-digit interception season when he's 40, he was certainly capable of doing the same thing when he was 36 or 37. For those of you scoring at home (TWSS), this is Reason No. 15,438 to hate Brett Favre.

After the game, The Chill claimed -- preposterously, as is his nature -- that the "Fuck You" touchdown "wasn't rubbing it in. It's just taking care of business and being aggressive at the end of the game."

Dude: fuck you with a rusty coat hanger. If you're gonna run up the score in a playoff game, at least have the stones to own up to it.

How much longer can these dickstrokes keep this up before karma comes back to bite them in the ass? If Brett Favre and his telemarketer-on-the-sidelines coach win the Super Bowl, there is no God.

Please Don't Burn Junior's Redshirt.

First things first: hell of an effort yesterday, and an excellent job by Buzz on two fronts: (1) having the team ready to go after an eight-day layoff; and (2) the game plan on offense. We had no trouble whatsoever with Providence's press and played with tremendous composure all game long. All the three-point attempts but one (DJO's prayer at the end of the first half) came within the flow of the offense, and we made the extra pass to get the wide-open look.

Onto more important things: there was a fresh face in the lay-up line yesterday, as Junior Cadougan and his heretofore bum wheel suited up and took part in the pregame warm-ups. Buzz made more headlines in the post-game presser, when he revealed that Cadougan "could have played today" and that he might consider putting Junior in a game at some point this season.

Please, Buzz: don't. Here's my plea:

(1) The Big East regular season is not the time to work in a freshman who has no game experience. See Mbakwe, Trevor. Hell, EWill is just starting to find his sea legs, and he had the benefit of the cream puff portion of the schedule.

(2) We've got enough guards as it is, especially when Li'l Mo and David have shown that they're capable of putting up the occasional 20-point game.

(3) We have enough new faces who are still learning how to play with each other. DJO and Buycks are settling into their roles, EWill is getting a bit of run, Jimmy Legs is adapting to being Option No. 2 on offense, and David and Li'l Mo are rounding into form. Why introduce another element to the mix?

(4) I seriously wonder if Cadougan is healthy, less than six months after blowing out his Achilles tendon. I'm not a doctor, and I didn't stay at a shitty hotel last night, but doesn't that sound like a pretty quick recovery from a very serious injury?

In sum: leave 'em be, Buzz. Let's see what this crew, as currently constituted, can do and get our Junior on next year.

Friday, January 15, 2010

MU Update

I'd like to think that this is the last time that we discuss Jeronne Maymon, but something is telling me that that won't necessarily be the case. That being said, Jeronne finally figured out that his shortcut to the NBA goes directly through Knoxville, Tennessee with Bruce Pearl and the Volunteers. It makes sense really......or does it? Due to the most recent misdemeanors and felonies that occurred with some of the UT basketball players, there should be plenty of opportunity for playing time next season. That's what one would think anyways.

Problem #1, scholarship: Tennessee does not currently have a scholarship available for Jeronne, so in order for him to be eligible by SEC play next season, he needs to enroll for this semester's classes and pay for them out of pocket. I'm not sure what tuition for non-resident students at UT is, but I'm guessing it's not cheap. Further, I don't know how the fallout with these felons is going to work out, but I believe UT will need to drop a scholarship from someone next year in order for one to be available for JMay. So as of right now, Jeronne doesn't have a guaranteed scholarship next season either. I'm thinking that the Maymon's didn't really think this through before they decided to leave MU.

Problem #2, "Just give me the damn ball!": Something else that JMay and Timmay may have overlooked is that Tennessee has signed a very deep and talented class for next season (2 5-star and 2 4-star prospects). Combine that with their 5-star sophomore SG Scotty Hopson = 6-8 guys that all want to shoot the rock. Due to this, and the fact that he wasn't at all impressive in his 9 games at MU, I don't foresee him being the go to guy in the near future. If this all plays out like I see in my head, Timmay isn't going to be happy. I smell reality show!

Ok, enough with the Maymon's. Last evening, I decided to warm up next to the fireplace with a nice glass of Woodford Reserve (rocks of course) while enjoying some Big East basketball on the four lettered network. Unfortunately what transpired was some of the most god awful basketball that I have witnessed since, well, the Big10 tournament last season. How or why ESPN decided to feature the Providence vs Depaul matchup is beyond me, but considering MU was going to face both of these teams in the near future, I thought I would partake in this grudge match and do a little scouting. It wasn't pretty to say the least. However, this game did lead me to 2 conclusions.

1. Unless MU plays horrendously, they should have no problem taking care of business against either of these teams. I don't know if it's talent, coaching, a combination of the 2, or playing in that god awful arena, but both Providence and Depaul looked unprepared, sloppy, and just not talented. Makes me feel a little more confident on my preseason prediction of 11-7 and not bad for what we have all termed a rebuilding season (but I suppose we'll have to start winning some of these games first before we hail this season a success).

2. For those of you that are ready to crucify Buzz, I suggest watching the likes of Providence, Rutgers, St.Johns, Seton Hall, etc. and then reevaluate your scrutiny of him. Over the past 3-5 years, a number of these teams went out and hired, who were at the time, hot coaches (see Keno Davis/Bobby Gonzalez/Fred Hill). Since their hiring, they have had time to recruit their own players and incorporate their own systems/styles of play. Compare that to Buzz who was handed the keys to a car that was going to drop it's transmission and need new tires and brakes after 1 season of to speak. The current MU roster is comprised of 1 4 star prospect, 4 junior college transfers (3 of whom start), 2 role players that receive significant minutes, and 2 freshman that really aren't ready to play yet. With this, Buzz has a 10-6 record with wins against an always good Xavier team, a preseason ranked Michigan team with first round NBA talent Manny Harris, and #11 ranked Georgetown. In addition to this, of MU's 6 losses, 4 are to teams that are currently ranked in the top 15, with an avg. loss by 4 pts. I know some of us aren't "the glass is half full" kind of person, but after watching some of these other Big East teams that haven't gone through nearly what MU has since Coach Williams was hired (graduations, transfers, injuries), I can't help but think that things could be a whole hell of a lot worse.

As much as we all love reading about VaJayJay's man love for the Hawk...

An exciting weekend of NFL games is fast approaching with some intriguing match-ups. Here are my picks and cliff notes analysis:

-New Orleans (-7 1/2) vs Arizona: Even though the Saints finished the season with 3 straight losses, I fully expect to see pre-Week 12 Saints that dismantled the Patriots to show up in the post-season. Plus, the Saints defense can't possibly play as bad as the Packers defense did. But old man Warner is one crafty bastard so I think they'll hang in there. I think the Saints will win, but 7 1/2 is a lot of points, so I'm going with the Saints to win but the Cards cover. Take the over too which at last look was a playoff record 57 1/2!

-Indy (-6 1/2) vs. Baltimore: Battle of new vs. old Colts. Similar to the Saints, the Colts didn't exactly play well over the last few games of the regular season, but in their defense they didn't have much to play for. Despite the fact that Indy doesn't have much of a running game, Peyton Manning directs one hell of an offense that will pick apart the Ravens defense. Joe Flacco is injured so the focus of the Indy defense should be to try and contain the rushing attack of the Ravens. I'll take Indy to win by at least a touchdown.

-Minnesota (-3) vs. Dallas: Talk about picking between the lesser of 2 evils. I think this game will be very entertaining and assuming neither of the QB's have a total meltdown, which very well might happen to one of them, I think AP is the difference and the Brett Favre train heads into the NFC Championship game.

-San Diego (-7 1/2) vs. NY Jets: Hottest team in the NFL full of veteran players with an 11 game winning streak versus a team lead by a cocky rookie QB that backed into the playoffs by beating 2 teams (Indy and Cincy) that practically laid down for them. I've got to go with the team that I think is going to win it all so I'll take the Chargers and lay the 7 1/2. Plus I'm really hoping Darrelle Revis gets torched so Rex Ryan will shut his big fat ass about being screwed in the Defensive Player of the Year award.

For Marquette, now that the scheduling gauntlet is behind us, we have a very important stretch of games coming up that will give us a good idea of what kind of year its going to be. There are a bunch of winnable games (vs. Providence, @ DePaul, vs. Rutgers, vs. DePaul, vs. South Florida) and 3 tough road games (@Cuse, @UConn, @ Providence). If we can take are of the 5 games we are supposed to win and pick up at least one win out of the 3 tough road games, our record will be 7-5 heading into the last 6 games of the year.

Oh and for the Lost fans out there...the countdown to the season premier is on. T-minus 18 days.

Jeronne's Got About 15,000 Problems, And His Dad Is One.

I know we're not supposed to be talking about this anymore, but it's pretty dead around here, so whatever: word is that Jeronne Maymon and his bat-shit crazy Pops are headed to Tenn'see -- even though Tenn'see doesn't have any available scholarships* and Jeronne will have to pay his own way for this semester.

* I should clarify: I'm speaking in terms of basketball scholarships. I'm sure Tenn'see could loan Jeronne one of the football scholarships for next year since everyone and his brother is refusing to even interview with the Volunteers re: the head ball coach position.

That might not seem like a big deal, but I've got two thoughts: (1) tuition at Tenn'see, for an out-of-state student, is about $20,000 a year, before room and board and personal expenses and books and all that shit. So, if J-May and TimMay are footing the bill this semester, that's about $15G -- which is a hell of a lot of coin for a State employee like Tim; (2) since J-May is essentially agreeing to walk on for Bruce Pearl, it stands to reason that the interest in Young Mr. Maymon's services was not all that great. I mean, there are a lot of schools with a lot of available schollies -- why not transfer to one of those schools, unless, of course, they weren't that interested in the first place?

Anyway, this will be the last time I'll write about J-May and Nutbag, at least until TimMay announces that J-May is transferring again in March '11. I can't wait.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

My Odd Affinity For Andre Dawson

Last week Wednesday was a banner day in sports for VJJ. The day started off with my favorite baseball player of all time, Andre Dawson, being elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame. As if the day couldn’t get any better, Marquette then beats #12 Georgetown, Wisconsin loses to Michigan State, and Tom Crean’s “It’s Indiana, It’s Indiana” team gets their doors blown off. Just really a great day. The “Hawk” being elected was enough to make it a great day and it really got me thinking about my time as a youth with the game of baseball.

Most sensible people would probably say, “VJJ, you are a Brewers fan and during most of your formative baseball fandom years, Dawson played for the hated Chicago Cubs. What’s up?” That is a legitimate and good question. Dawson did play for the Cubs during that time and I was actually a Cubs fan for quite a long time. It was a dark and terrible time of my life. 1989 was pretty bitching, but otherwise, it sucked balls. I recently tried to figure out why I was a Cubs fan and it boils down to one person. My Aunt (in order to protect her identity and Alzheimer’s) Mulva. She was a huge Cubs fan. She was also pretty influential on me as a kid, so I shaped some of my sport’s allegiances based on hers (We won’t get into my love of the Dolphins here. That is an oddball one).

So, for most of the 80’s and 90’s, I was a very sad little boy cheering for a doomed franchise. I loved players like Ryne Sandberg, Mark Grace, Shawon Dunston, and of course Andre Dawson. Dawson was by far my favorite player. I would like to think that part of it comes from the fact that he played for the Expos for so many years and we all know that I have a love for Canadians. I also liked the Expos to a certain extent. Not sure if it was the hours that I spent trying to figure why the had an “elb” on their hats, (yeah, I know it was an “M”) or the fact that Olympic Stadium and all it’s crappiness amused me. Anyway, back to the story, I watched every Cubs game I could on WGN. I even remember begging my mom to let me stay up late and watch games. She should have slapped some sense into me then. Now don’t get me wrong, I also liked the Brewers. It seemed kosher at the time since they were in the AL and the Cubs were in the NL. I had my AL team and my NL team. I completely changed my thoughts once the Brewers went NL and I now hate the Cubs more than any other team (outside of the Badgers) in sports. I think I make an excellent hater since I am very familiar with the franchise and was a fan for so long.

Back to my love for Dawson. I’m not sure why the free-swinging Dawson really stuck out to me, but he did. I imitated his batting stance, I collected his baseball cards, I bought t-shirts with his image on it. I tried to learn everything I could about this player. His batting stance was actually pretty successful for me as a lad. I credit my little league homers to that batting stance. I will also try and attribute it to my less than perfect knees(I know it was the turf ). I really wish I could have imitated his jheri curl, but as a white kid from northeastern Wisconsin, I barely knew what that was let alone have the kind of hair to do it. I did think that Soul Glo had something to do with it.

When Dawson came up on the ballot for the first time, I was excited. I had never thought of him as being someone that would make the hall, but he does have some impressive numbers. There are his 8 All-Star game appearances and Gold Glove awards. Ranking 25th all time in total bases, 36th in home runs, and 24th in extra base hits. Sure he did make a lot of outs and ranks 22nd all time in that category, but that will happen when you go up there looking to hit the ball. He was also the Rookie of the Year in 1977 and the NL MVP in 1987 where the Hawk crushed 49 homers and drove in 137 for a horrible Cubs team. An impressive number that several point to is his membership in the 400 – 300 club. With 438 career homers and 314 career stolen bases, he joins Barry Bonds and Willie Mays as the only players to accomplish such a feat. Take Bonds for what it is worth, but you can’t go wrong when being compared or mentioned with Mays. With baseball being such a numbers driven game, he does have some impressive digits. Compare his OBP, OPS, BA and whatever else you want to Geoff Jenkins, Bill Hall, Wes Helms or whoever else you want to throw in there, but I will always argue that he should be in the Hall.

It’s funny how things seem skewed when you are a kid. When you try to put something into perspective as an adult that you believed as a kid, you often realize just how ridiculous you were as a child. For me, my love of American Gladiators (seriously watch that show now and forget how much you loved it as a kid and tell me it isn’t bad), the music of C & C Music Factory (although Gonna Make You Sweat does still bring a smile to my face), and chocolate just seem like a ridiculous thing I was enjoying as a child. When I measure Dawson up to those things from my childhood, he is still one of the truly great things from my days as a kid. Is he a sentimental favorite and a borderline Hall of Famer? Possibly. I don’t care. Say what you want to say.

I would like to end this ridiculously long post (is anyone still reading?) with a quote from Dawson. He said this after being asked about being a role model. “I wan’ all dem kids to do what I do, to look up to me. I wan’ all the kids to copulate me.”

OK, Enough Wallowing.

Taking our Packer hangover into Day 2 would probably qualify as overkill, and I have no more superlatives to hand out for Aaron Rodgers (OK, one more: Rodgers needs a better nickname than "A-Rodg"; I'm thinking "Brass Balls," if only because I'd love to hear Wayne Larivee say: "Oh, what a throw by Brass Balls!"), so I'm going to change the topic of discussion.

On Saturday, Marquette lost its third gut-punch game to a top 10 team. Though there were some more curious coaching decisions by Buzz in the waning moments of the game, I think I've sufficiently beaten that steed in previous posts.

Here's my question: at this point, with another close-but-not-quite-enough effort, it seems entirely likely that we're going to be this year's "Team That No One Wants to Play": we don't have height, we don't have depth, but, with our three-point shooting, we're never going to be completely out of a game. We'll scrap and we'll claw and, though we might not get over the hump, you're gonna fuckin' earn that victory when you play MU.

So: are you OK with being the TTNOWTP for this year?

Monday, January 11, 2010

"This fellow doth not cast out devils ...

but by Beelzebub the prince of the devils."

Matthew 12:24 (King James version)

(Hat tip to Walsh for the original picture.)

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Congratulations, Arizona.

All you needed to advance in the NFC Playoffs was a bogus fumble on a play where the defender grabbed our quarterback's facemask -- right after a play where the ref missed an even-more-obvious helmet-to-helmet blow on the quarterback and instead called a horseshit holding penalty when the defensive lineman went to the ground on his own.

Oh, and did I mention the two missed offensive pass interference penalties -- both of which resulted in touchdowns -- when Larry Fitzgerald ran over Charles Woodson? I know those were easy to overlook, seeing as Fitzgerald is only the most important player on Arizona's offense.

Enjoy your offseason, Scott Green and crew. With that abortion of a performance, I think it's safe to say that you won't be working any more games in the playoffs.

And finally: I hope the Cardinals lose by 50 next week, and I hope Kurt Warner breaks both his legs in hideous fashion and turns his eyes to the heavens and says, "Why, Lord, why?" And I hope the heavens part, and God looks down and says: "Fuck you, Kurt. Choke on a bag of cocks."

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Answer: Now.

Question: When, Lawd? When's gonna be our time?

And thank God for that, Marquette faithful. If we found a way to spit the bit last night, I don't think there's any way we could have avoided a 2008 Notre Dame-esque death spiral for the rest of the year.

Some quick hitters:

(1) As I said to Reid last night, David Cubillan hitting six threes (on six attempts, no less) is the equivalent of Jason Kendall hitting two homers and driving in six in a single game: it's never going to happen again, so you better fucking win the game.

(2) The end-of-game coaching was marginally better. We finally got the ball to 'Zar in the last two minutes, although "dump it to 32 on the block and let him get triple-teamed" wasn't exactly what I had in mind when I said we needed to run some plays for him. How 'bout setting a screen for the big man?

Also: it was a good call to put Acker in the game after Georgetown cut it to a one-point deficit with thirty seconds left. (The defense on that GU possession left something to be desired, though; we were so worried about the three that we basically laid out a red carpet to the hoop.) But don't run an inbounds play where 'Zar gets the inbounds pass in the backcourt. 'Zar needs to get the second pass, and preferably at midcourt. If you get him the ball in the backcourt, he's going to be trapped and have to give the ball up.

(3) It was good to see EWill get some run, though I'm still baffled that he gets bypassed in favor of Mbao in the second half. Let's be honest: Yous has no fucking clue what he's doing out there. We were in that silly 1-3-1 zone with Mbao at the point, Georgetown swung the ball to the corner, and Yous abandoned his post to double team the guy with the ball. As Reid said: I'm not sure that's how we drew up the defense.

(4) DJO is really, really bad on defense. And he can't be put into the game when Fulce and Acker are on the floor, because it turns into a backdoor-cut, uncontested-layup exhibition. Also: anytime DJO wants to stop biting on the pump fake, that's fine by me.

Now, to an extent, defense can be taught. We saw that with Dom James last year, when he went from a serviceable defender to a lock-down pest. But there's some parts of playing defense that can't be taught, and the most important of those is that you have to want to play defense. The prime example last night: a Georgetown player beat his man off the dribble at the top of the key and was barreling down the lane. DJO was in perfect position to take a charge. Instead, he opted for a Roger Dorn "ole!" move and let the guy hit the layup with zero resistance (and promptly earned himself a seat on the bench next to coach). That's not good.

(5) In the end: it's a win. And it's important, because John Thompson III is right: in the Big East this season, there is little difference between the top 5 teams and the teams that will finish in the 7-12 range. I watched Cincy and Pitt the another night, and I didn't see a whole lot of difference between both of those teams and Georgetown.

There aren't any gimmes for this MU squad. Take the wins however you can get 'em.

Hail To The Victors!

(Wait....wrong fight song) Anyways, MU finally got the Big East monkey off their back by beating the #11 ranked Georgetown Hoyas in the friendly confines of the Bradley Center last night. Big thanks to senior David Cubillan for torching the nets last night in going 6-6 from beyond the arc, and Jimmy B for finally hitting some free throws in the clutch! Whew!

2 things of note here:

1. PT - Erik Williams was first off the bench and played 7 minutes in his first Big East performance; Yous Mbao saw 10 minutes and actually showed some confidence after corralling his 1st rebound.

2. Not only did MU come back from a slight deficit late in the 2nd half, they also were able to hold onto the lead in the final minute and earn a much needed victory

That being said, Rubie, does this now make Buzz Williams a great coach? Afterall, you seemed to pin the last 2 losses squarely on him for not coaching his team up in the final minutes of the game. Just curious.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Congrats to The Hawk

Somewhere VJJ is getting a tingly feeling is his jeans. His boyhood hero, Andre Dawson, is this year's only inductee to the baseball Hall of Fame. So it's gonna be a party in the VJJ house tonight! Bust out the Expos jersey baby!

Those that didn't make it include Bert Blyleven and Roberto Alomar. My only question on those is "why the fuck not?" Alomar is one of the top second basemen to ever play the game by whatever number you want to look at. My guess is that this is backlash for the ugly spitting incident, involving umpire John Hirschbeck, back in 1996. If you don't recall just how ugly that scene was, here's a little refresher:

Add that in with the ridiculous sanctity that some writers place on being a "First Ballot" hall of famer, and you have a completely plausible (if mildly insane) explanation for Alomar's omission. If he's not in next year you writers are going to have a lot of 'splaining to do.

As for Blyleven, who does this guy have to blow to finally get into the GD Hall of Fame? I guess he'll just have take the Jim Rice approach and keeping going 'til he finds the right one. I have to believe he'll be in eventually, right? If Blyleven had 13 more wins (He finished with 287) he would have been one of those precious "First Ballot" guys 13 year ago. As it is he's just a guy with 3,701 strikeouts (5th all-time), a K:BB ratio of nearly 3 to 1, 60 career shutouts, and just two more shots at enshrinement. He got 400 votes this year, he needed 405. One has to wonder if this is as close as Bert gets.

A Josh Sitton Post?

I've been thinking for a while about writing something about Packers' guard Josh Sitton: The only guy on the offensive line that no one knows about. (Don't laugh, I'm serious.) No one knows about him because you never hear his name called. And as our friend Baffoon will tell you, for an offensive lineman that isn't a bad thing. Everyone knew who Allen Barbre was after the first game of the year. That's largely because he was getting beat like a rented mule every 3rd or 4th snap. Also, Sitton is a Thompson draft pick that's playing well, and nobody likes to talk about those.... Except me of course. But before I could get all the interviews with teammates and coaches lined up, that bitch Lori Nickel went and beat me to the punch. So if you're bored today, it's worth a read:

Monday, January 4, 2010

I can fix the Pro Bowl.

Last week, we passed an important milestone in the NFL season: The Pro Bowl rosters were announced. This is an important moment because it's the last time anyone will give a shit about the Pro Bowl.

The Pro Bowl is an utter joke. It's slightly more physical than flag football, with dumbed-down versions of professional football's actual rules. No blitzing, no attempting to block kicks, and no veteran players, who are busy stubbing their toes and getting doctor's notes to use as an excuse for declining an invitation to professional sports' most worthless event. They've changed the date and location this year, but no one will care anyway. Professional cycling* gets higher ratings.

* - I'm not even talking about the Tour de France, which deserves its own category. I'm talking about off-brand, no-name cycling competitions. Hell, we could create one: The 2010 Tour de Rubie will take place in Milwaukee, on a meandering, made-at-the-last-minute course marked with discarded Bold Party Chex Mix Bags and ribbon made from a shredded Jeronne Maymon jersey. We'll televise it (tape-delayed, of course) on that channel where Time Warner shows awful local sports programming. The ratings will still crush the Pro Bowl.

There's nothing worth watching about the Pro Bowl. There's nothing on the line, no one playing all out and no one even pretending NFL caliber football is being played. But I can fix it. I'd like to propose a new game to replace the Pro Bowl. And I promise, it'll be must-see TV.

We'll call it the Bench Bowl. It'll still be NFC v. AFC, but the rosters will be selected by a committee of executives and assistant coaches based on the following premise: Any player that started less than four games for his team over the course of the season is eligible.

The Pro Bowl sucks because the players have next to nothing on the line and no one cares enough to go all out or hit someone. The Bench Bowl would be awesome for exactly the opposite reason: It'd be two rosters made up of 60 guys who have something to prove. They didn't get a shot to demonstrate their ability during the season, so they're going to go out and play their asses off to show they deserve a shot next season. You won't see a wide receiver jogging out a route or a linebacker settling for stopping forward progress in this game. It might be the most all-out, hard-hitting game you watch all season.

Screw the Pro Bowl and its elite players playing half-assed football. Lets replace it with a game with guys who want to prove they belong, in what might be their only shot to perform on a national stage. I'd watch it. I bet you would too.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Heartbreak City Part II

I don't want to get in a big debate again about moral victories etc. but I'm still proud as hell of this team and think these last 2 games have shown that we can go toe-to-toe with anyone in this conference and I think we'll win our fair share of games this Big East season. I don't think there is anyone who thought we'd win either of these 2 games so I'm not going to panic until we start dropping games against teams we are "supposed to beat". Sure our offensive execution late in the second half was not very good and our defense was atrocious as we continued to just let people drive by us to the hoop, but hopefully we can build on these 2 close games and be fine the rest of the year after we get out of the schedule gauntlet.

Remember we were projected to be 12th in the conference and that was before J-May quit and Junior and Chris went down to injuries.

PS-I just forced myself to watch the end of the game again. Our possession with 1.5 minutes left accomplished one of its goals of using some clock but the Mo 3 isn't what we were looking for at all and Lazar never touched the ball. Secondly, our possession with 49 seconds left. DJO created for himself and had a decent look heading down the lane. Lazar was there for the o-board and was fouled. Watching the replay it very easily could have been a jump ball in which case we would have had the ball with the shot clock turned off and the game tied 71-71. I guess in hindsight I would have much preferred that. Even when we got a call yesterday we got screwed. I'm so glad Scottie Reynolds is graduating because he is such a pain in the ass, the behind back dribble between 2 defenders and the Sam Cassell and one was just sick. And Jimmy, go up and dunk the hell out of the ball. I think he was expecting to get killed and when no hard contact was made he just missed the point blanker! Oh well! That is all from the glass is half full contingent tonight...I look forward to being verbally abused again tomorrow!