Thursday, February 25, 2010

"It's Indiana" vs. "Grrr, I'm A Mean BADGER!", Part the Second.

In the post-St. John's haze, we've neglected to mention that tonight comes the remix of UW-Madison vs. IU, or, as I like to call it, "Count Orlok from Nosferatu vs. the Snakeoil Salesman." Of course, you already know who you should be rooting for*, but, because I get so much shit for being wrong, I'd like to take this chance to remind y'all of two things I wrote almost two years ago:

First, after Tan Tommy's presser at IU, pre-Buffet:

Crean said: "This is a challenging situation; I hope you realize that." Rubie interprets: Please don’t fire me in two years when we finish 8th in the Big 11.

Current standings in the Big 11:

Purdue 12-3 24-3
Ohio State 12-4 22-7
Michigan State 11-4 21-7
Illinois 10-5 18-10
Wisconsin 10-5 20-7
Minnesota 7-8 16-11
Northwestern 6-9 17-10
Michigan 6-9 13-14
Iowa 3-11 9-18
Indiana 3-11 9-17
Penn State 2-13 10-17

Tied for ninth place! Damn, off by one.

And then I said this back in May '08, when the Buffet was still in her infancy (and I was still putting a bit of effort into my posts, instead of mailing them in by linking to stuff I've already written):

... in two years, when IU is still looking up at Northwestern in the Big 11 standings, it won't matter how long the fucker's contract is.

Fist pump! High five! Ninja kick!

Try to keep it within 30 tonight, TT. Your job might depend on it.

* A slow carbon monoxide leak. Let's go CO!

JIMMMMAAAAAYYYYY BUTLAHHHHHH!

I'm still basking in the glory of last night's victory and was wondering which game winning shot by Butler was more impressive. Thanks to the National City Highlight of the Week for the following clips:





I'd give a slight edge to the SJU shot just because of the lose ball aspect of the play.

But as I watched the SJU post game interview with Jimmy on the plane I couldn't help but pick up the song that appeared to be playing on his headphones. It sounds to me like another Miley Cyrus' song and it reminded me of this clip from the team's trip to Disney in November (watch the last 30 seconds).



So my question to the blog is: Do we need to be worried about one of our best basketball players if he has an unhealthy obsession with Miley Cyrus or should we just leave it be and let himself get psyched up for games with whatever music he prefers?

This One's For SBTG.

Hey, remember Marquette's first two Big East games this season -- the one against West Virginia, where Jimmy Butler* clanked the front end of a one-and-one with MU leading by one, and the home game against 'Nova, where Jimmy short-armed a one-footer that would've given Marquette the lead?

Yeah, I don't remember those either.

* This is normally the point where I'd advocate calling someone who goes by "Timmy" or "Ricky" or "Bobby," "Tim" or "Rick" (or "Dick") or "Bob." Sadly, I can't do the same with Jimmy Butler, because I have an uncle named Jim Butler. And that'd just be weird.

If the Late Game Jitters Demon that haunted Jimmy in those early BEast games survived Jimmy's game-winner against UCONN, Jimmy punched that bastard in the cock with his cold-blooded dagger in OT against St. John's. "FUCK YOU," said Jimmy to the Demon, the laughing, barking Demon.**

** I apologize for the awkward demon metaphor, and the bizarre cock-punch reference, and the cursing. I have to get these things out of my system now.

As the Demon lay cradling his achin' ballsack***, Marquette clinched a .500 record in conference play and added to the evidence that yours truly should never, ever, ever make predictions about anything.

*** Sorry.

In fact, I'm going to stop there, and I'm not even going to mention the fact that Buzz ran the same play at the end of regulation and at the end of OT (and that it was the same play he called at end of the UCONN game).****

**** Please ignore the fact that I just mentioned this.

We'll end with something new:

Game MVP: 'Zar was big with 22, but the ball too often stops moving as soon as he touches it, and he put up a few headscratchers from three-point range. But there's no other choice here -- it's Jimmy, who earned himself a new nickname last night: I'm partial to Jimmy Clutch, but I'll entertain arguments for Jimmy Closer.

The Brian Barone Unsung Hero Award: Dwight Buycks was big in the first half, keeping St. John's lead in single digits with a couple tasty fall-away jumpers. I think we split this award and give it to Joe Fulce (I'm as shocked as you) and Junior Cadougan, who busted his ass and kept the ship afloat while Acker and Cubillan sat out with foul trouble in the first half.

The Trojan-ENZ Boner of the Week Call: Add to the calls that officials routinely miss: goaltending. JC had a great drive and clearly laid the ball off the backboard, only to have it swatted away by a St. John's player. There was an official less than five feet away. No call. Brain aneurysm.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

That's Spectacular!!!

According to JSOnline all 136 Milwaukee Brewers games in 2010 on FSN Wisconsin will be broadcast in HD. I'm glad to see Wisconsin is finally catching up with the rest of the world. Now if we could only get WMLW games (MU or Brewers) to be broadcast in something that resembles standard definition we'd be in business.

Who Ya Got? - St. John's Edition

I'm extremely nervous for this game. Tiny arena, SJU comes in hot, we may be underestimating them. I hate to pick against MU, but I think we drop this one. 62-59.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Master Reid's Bubble Breakdown

Well folks it’s late February, and that buzz in the air you’re feeling is the looming presence of Selection Sunday. It’s a mere 3 weeks before the field is selected for the most entertaining of American sporting events. Over the past 4 years, as we’ve been bitching about seeding and 1st round match-ups etc., we have always added the caveat of: “Well, it’s better than being on the bubble.” But this year Marquette finds itself in that unfamiliar position: on the bubble. It’s been a while since MU was a legit bubble team. The 04-05 season was the last time Marquette missed the tourney, and I’m not even sure that team even qualified as a bubble team. So, it’s understandable if MU Nation is having a little trouble remembering the rules of the bubble. I hear it all the time, “Master Reid, it’s all so confusing. Who do I root for? Who do I root against?” Well fear not kiddies, thanks to a 7+ hour drive and the miracle of wireless internet, D3, VJJ and I were able to hash out exactly who we need to be keeping an eye on as we come down the home stretch of the college hoops season.

Root Against

-The second tier of the Atlantic 10
Let me begin by declaring that I think the A-10 is bullshit. But people who make tourney fields don’t give a damn what I think. As of Monday, Lunardi has 5 teams in his bracket from the A-10. It appears that Temple, Xavier, and Richmond (Yes, Richmond) are pretty much locks barring any unforeseen bed-shitting down the stretch. But the next 3-4 teams are all kinds of bubblicious. As of today, Rhode Island and Dayton are amongst the last 4 teams in the tournament, and Charlotte is one of the first teams out of the tournament. Even SLU is sneaking into the discussion. Any fan of a bubble team needs to be rooting against these 4 teams. A run by any of these teams could propel them to darling status and get them in ahead of a potentially more deserving high-major team.

-Oklahoma State
Okie State is starting to get rolling at the best possible time, for them. Not the best possible time if you’re a team that will be competing for an at-large tournament berth, however. They have won 3 in a row, and just beat No. 22 Baylor in Stillwater, to improve to 7-5 in the Big 12. In their next 3 games they have @Texas, Kansas, and @Texas A&M. Wins in one or more of those games would nudge OK St. closer to “lock” status. Unless of course D3’s Huskers can beat ‘em and totally fuck up the works. I'll be keeping my fingers crossed for that one.

-Teams in your own conference with better non-conference wins than you
Read: UCONN. As I write this UConn is putting the finishing touches on a victory over No. 7 West Virginia. That should put them on the right side of the bubble now. And with only Louisville, Notre Dame and South Florida left on the schedule, winning out to finish 10-8 in the Big East is looking pretty likely. And since they are also one of the biggest names on the college hoops landscape, you probably do not want the selection committee to be debating you vs. UConn for the 65th spot in the tourney; even if you’ve beaten them head to head.

-The SEC West
This is conceding that the 4 big teams from the SEC East (Kentucky, Vandy, Tennessee and Florida) will get in. However, if you still want to root against Florida, be my guest. And sure, the SEC West is fucking atrocious this year. But that’s been the case for the past few years and they always seem to get an extra team into the tournament. Whether it was Mississippi State stealing the conference tourney last year, or Arkansas inexplicably sneaking in the side door in 2007, the SEC West always seems to nab an undeserved bid. Mississippi St. is the only team that is even in the discussion this year. They mostly play the dregs of the SEC (Bama, South Carolina, Auburn), before finishing with Tennessee. But they damn near got beat by 0-12 LSU Saturday, and have already been taken to OT by Auburn this year, so there’s always the possibility of the disastrous misstep in Starkville.

-Illinois
As a Wisconsin native, and hater of the Big 11, this is just something I do anyways. But this year it has the added benefit of perhaps pushing the FIBs out of the tournament and clearing one more spot for my team. The Illini have some good wins, but they also have some horrendous non-conference losses. And their good wins have holes in them too; beating Michigan St. w/o Lucas, Ohio St. w/o Turner and Wisconsin w/o Leuer. I was surprised to realize that they already have 10 losses! A late season loss against the likes of Minnesota or Michigan (especially Michigan), would add another bad loss to their resume. Add in a game at tOSU and one more loss in the conference tournament and all of a sudden you’ve got a 12-13 loss team. That might make it awfully difficult for the committee to put Illinois in over a team with a better record from…oh I don’t know… the Big East say.

Root For

-Old Dominion
The Monarchs are currently in line for a potential at-large berth according to the latest Lunardi bracket. They are tied for the lead in the CAA, but Northeastern (18-10) holds the tie breaker over them. If you’re a fan of a power conference team on the bubble, you want ODU to win out, and we’ll only have to waste one tournament bid on those mid-major bastards.

-The rest of the favored mid-majors in the conference tournaments
This is true every year. Bubble teams will all be rooting for the Gonzagas and the Butlers of the world to hold serve, and not spit the bit in their conference tournaments. You can probably even throw Cal (or whoever is leading the dreadful Pac-10) in there too. If they do, they’re still getting in and that increases the chance that those living on the bubble will be heading to the consolation bracket.

-Most importantly, root for your team to keep winning.
For us MU fans, it’s good to know that, after Sunday, we pretty much control our own tournament destiny. Keep winning and we’re in. But, as has been stated many times, the margin for error is very slim. Joey Brackets gives us a 55% chance of remaining in his tourney. One bobble down the stretch and get the antacids ready, it’s could be a long, ulcer inducing Selection Sunday. Step one: bitch smack the Johnnies Wednesday night.

All It Needs is Boom Goes the Dynamite

Hat tip to The Dagger blog on Yahoo.

Monday, February 22, 2010

We're Kind Of A Big Deal Now.

Well, not now now, but maybe someday soon now. Know what I mean? Of course you don't.

Here's the poop: we're working on a new venture masterminded by Brew Crew Ball head maestro (and occasional Buffeter) KL Snow. When it'll be up and going, I'm not exactly sure, but it'll hopefully be before the NCAA tourney.

Until it is rollin', we've started a Twitter-type thing: @anonymouseagle. I'm still learning this Twitter thing, so the odds are good that (1) it won't be funny; and (2) you'll get a bunch of broken links; and (3) the links that aren't broken will take you to old MikeHunt columns. I apologize in advance.

MU-UC

A couple of quick hitters from yesterday's game.
  • I am still giddy over the win. Huge road win for MU. The RPI got a nice boost. Now, they need to take care of business at St John's & Seton Hall
  • Senior leadership really prevailed. Lazar, Mo and Cooby all stepped up big. That being said, the player of the game was Jimmy Butler. Another gutsy performance from the Texan.
  • MU's undersized guards continue to struggle defensively. They were getting beat off the dribble repeatedly in the first half, which lead to dump-offs to UC's bigs or wide open treys.
  • UC is a mess up and down the bench. Yancey Gates didn't play the last 12 minutes of the game. Lance Stephenson only played 11 minutes and Cronin brought Deonta Vaughn off the bench. There is no doubt that UC has substantially more talent than MU, but they don't play together and don't give maximum effort. Gates needs to lay off the Skyline and get on a fitness program.
  • Cincinnati is a football school, gentlemen. They only had 10k at the game yesterday. This was probably their biggest game in 4 years and they couldn't fill the joint on a non-NFL Sunday.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Jamil Wilson to Marquette

Now, I will start off by saying that I have this info from a source that is possibly reliable, but who cares.

The rumors are starting that Jamil Wilson will transfer to Marquette. I don't know where the scholaship is or anything like that. This could be and probably is all just a rumor. But if it isn't, you heard it here first and what are blogs for anyway?

If I hear more I'll keep you updated.

Admiral Ackbar & Bill Faulkner - Together at Last?




Check out the link from EDSBS for some comedic gold, at least in my book. In a move that is eerily familiar for MU fans, Ole Miss students are voting on a new mascot. Not a new name, they are a keeping the Rebels, but a new mascot since Colonel Reb is just a bit, well, hideously racist. Some students have started up a Facebook page to elect Admiral Ackbar as their new mascot.


Fuck Dick Bennett Ball.

Apparently, no one else is going to address the zebra in the room, so I'm going to:

Those of you who love to mock Marquette's lack of a football team should watch a replay of the game against PITT -- the only things missing were facemasks and cleats. Because PITT isn't a gifted team athletically and struggles to create offense, they're reduced to playing Dick Bennett Ball on the defensive side, clutching, grabbing, hip-checking, and kidney-punching. Unfortunately, when you get a crew like last night's limpdick triumvirate of Bob Donato, John Gaffney, and Tony Greene, the game resembles Australian rules football more than it does American basketball.

You see, Mssrs. Limpdicks quickly decided that, because PITT fouls on every possession, they weren't going to call every clothesline, leg whip, and power bomb, lest the game turn into a four-hour free throw shooting contest. PITT saw that and took full advantage

Good for them, I guess. I know it'll be chalked up as sour grapes, and it probably is (to some extent), but I really wouldn't want to watch that kind of basketball 30 times a year. As Reid said after the game: if that's the way PITT is going to play basketball going forward, then the Big 11 can fucking have them.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Who Ya Got?

Huge game tonight, predictions from the drooling masses?

I'm confident that MU will come out and take care of business. Pitt doesn't have a great inside presence to exploit MU's biggest weakness. MU wins a squeaker, 65-61.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Sympathy For The Devil?

Walsh sends over this link to an ESPN.com "all access" piece featuring your favorite morbidly obese leprechaun, Tim Higgins. Being the masochist that I am, I read the whole fuckin' thing.

Friends, my feelings on officials are well known. If you're new to the site (and, if you are, you must be
really bored at work, 'cuz this site shouldn't be any higher than 130 on your bookmarks bar), here's a post that serves as a primer. If you don't have time to read it, I'll sum up: I think officiating in college basketball is a joke, and Tim Higgins is at the top of my list of jokesters.

So when Dana O'Neil attempts to paint Tiny Tim in a positive light, I'm compelled to respond:

The brokenhearted Syracuse fan needed a place to vent his rage, and the man in zebra stripes provided the perfect target. ... [T]hey will remember one call: the intentional foul Higgins whistled on Kris Joseph with 18 seconds left and Syracuse down two.

In the minds of the 31,053, that play decided the game.


Let's be fair: that call
did decide the game, in the minds of everyone but Tim Higgins. Yes, 'Cuse missed a ton of shots, and, yes, they blew an 11-point lead at home, and, yes, their best player couldn't hit water from a boat, but none of that absolves the referee from doing his fucking job, especially on a play that happened right in front of him. But we'll get back to that in a minute.

The man at the center of the storm verbally shrugged.

"It's one call in a game, that's all," Higgins said.

You, sir, are a fucking twit. There is no other way to describe you -- besides "impressively gunted," of course.

Each official is an independent contractor, hired by various leagues to work games. Top-tier officials are well-compensated -- based on ability, they're paid anywhere from $700 to $1000 per game, plus travel and expenses. But for Higgins and many others, college officiating isn't a full-time gig.

Really? Not a full-time gig? Then why is it that every time I turn on ESPN, or CBS, or ESPN2, or ESPNU, or the Big 11 Network, or fucking Nat Geo, that ruddy-nosed shit-for-brains is on the TV? If this is merely a hobby, what, pray tell, does Mr. Higgins list on his resume as his
actual employment?

Higgins' real job is vice president of sales for Kamco Supply Co., a Brooklyn-based building materials company.

Take heart, kids! The economy is a bitch right now, and hard-workin' folk are getting laid off left and right, and it's likely that you'll have to move back in with your folks after graduation, but
still -- STILL -- there are jobs in this country where you barely have to show up for work and you still draw a salary and get a nice title like "vice president of sales." Note: it's likely that this "job" is merely a front for the Irish Mafia -- V.P. of sales for a building materials company? -- but it ain't all bad out there.

Seriously -- THE MAN OFFICIATES FOUR OR FIVE GAMES A WEEK. How can you possibly hold down a job when you are gone for
five months during the year?

(As an aside: I'd love to follow Tim Higgins for a day at his 'real job,' just to see if he's as grossly inept as a "vice president of sales" as he is as an official. Does he absentmindedly shred work orders? Does he come to work without pants on? Does he accidentally light his employees on fire during lunch hour? The world needs to know.)

And lest you think I'm making up the part where Higgins is working four or five games a week:

The latest criticism facing college referees is that they work too much, do too many games in too few nights and can't possibly be sharp. Had he not been snowed out of Chicago, Higgins would have officiated four games in five nights in two leagues in four states. On average, he says he'll do about 60 regular-season games.

Some other stats:
in terms of gross tonnage, during the course of a typical season, he will eat two full-grown steers; he will drink his weight in Jameson; his liver will double in size; and he will murder 361 dreams in cold blood.

Higgins has one word for the notion that officials' performance slips because they're overworked -- hooey.

"Hooey"? Well, fiddlesticks, Mr. Higgins, I guess you've got us there. That's a devastating argument.

Except:

I've seen you when you're working your third game in four nights. I've seen you struggling to drag your ass upcourt in the last two minutes of the game. I've seen your beet-red face gasping for air during a 20-second timeout. I've seen you trying to hoist your pants over your foop as you trudge across half court. (OK, that one has nothing to do with being tired. I just felt like taking a cheap shot.) I've seen you waddling behind a fast-break, hopelessly out of position and unable to catch up, and, most importantly, unable to see whether the defender got in position for a charge -- not that something like being out of position would stop you from making the call, of course. Mine eyes have seen the horror, Mr. Higgins, and they can't un-see it.

Point is: you can't argue against this. When you're working so many games in so short a time frame, at 63 years of age, YOU ARE TIRED. And when you're tired, you make mistakes. Mistakes like this one:

And then Higgins calls Joseph for the intentional foul with the game hanging in the balance. The Carrier Dome, Boeheim and Joseph erupt.

And with good reason. Walsh found me a link to the call -- zip to the 45 second mark and take in the carnage.

I ask you: what part of that foul is even arguably intentional? What distinguishes that play from the other fouls that occur in the last minute of every close game -- fouls that don't, of course, result in an intentional foul call? Most of all: how in the hell can you miss that call when you're standing three feet away from the action? What did you think you saw?

More than anything, that's what really roils Higgins and his colleagues: that people think they don't care and that they intentionally make calls to affect the game.

No, that's not what worries me. What worries me is the spectacular, undeniable incompetence that's on display every night. It's like saying: the malfunctions in the Toyota Camry don't bother me, it's the fact that Toyota executives don't care about me. Fuck that -- as I'm careening off the road, I care that my brakes don't work, not that some dude in Tokyo doesn't give a shit about me or my car.

OK, I've said enough. Tim, if you're reading: die in a fire. My love to the missus.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Canada in tight with Superman.




Apparently Superman was out of town and decided to let Canada use the Fortress of Solitude for the opening ceremony. Actually, I'm sure the Fortress of Solitude wouldn't have had all of the problems that the opening ceremony had. I also wish I had found the picture I saw from the first night because it looked way more like the Fortress of Solitude than this one does, but I hope you get my point.

I'm not sure how many of you have actually been watching these games (my guess is not many), but the coverage has been kind of awful... okay it has been downright bad. Too many commercial breaks and the whole not showing the good stuff live, has really hurt these games. The good guys are leading the medal count and I just watched a couple snowboard chicks wipeout, so it's not too bad. I also showed my students the event where they ski and then shoot a gun (I know it's called the Biathlon, but it's funnier to say it the other way). They loved it.

I do love the Winter Olympics. Something about those curling chicks.

Basketball Prospectus Hearts MU.

Via the estimable Paul Noonan, Esq. of Brewed Sports comes this link to Basketball Prospectus' "Tuesday Truths" -- and let's cut to the quick:
So, yeah, with each passing week I come a little closer to a bold and iconoclastic "Marquette is the Best Team in the Big East" feature.
The tongue is firmly in the cheek on that one, but BP has Marquette ranked fourth in the BEast with a +0.10 Efficiency Margin (behind only WVU, 'Cuse and 'Nova).

Note: None of this is to be construed as a Rubie Endorsement of BP's views. Pursuant to the Buffet Charter, I will uphold my Nattering Nabob of Negativity duties and declare that there's no way in hell that Marquette is the fourth-best team in the Big East.

You Can't Spell "DePaul" Without "Clusterfuck."

Hey, remember Mr. Sparkle's post about DePaul interim orca whale head coach Tracy Webster getting a verbal commitment from a Chicago eighth-grader, who's 6'8" and growing? You're not going to believe this, but ...

DePaul even managed to screw that up. I know, I'm shocked, too.

The quick and dirty: until a recruit signs a national letter of intent, you're not allowed to comment publicly on the recruit. Everyone associated with recruiting knows this -- everyone, it seems, but DePaul A.D. Jean Lenti Ponsetto*, who waxed eloquent about young Jahlil Okafor to ESPN Chicago. Whoops!

* OK, it's not just Ms. Ponsetto. Lane Kiffin had problems with this black-and-white rule, too, but he's a con artist and a dipshit, so he's partially absolved of blame.

When it rains, it pours, I guess.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Here's How I Feel About Tomorrow's Game

I know it's not a bachelor party, but I can't think of a better way to describe the debauchery that will ensue. Find a sitter for the kid and dog, set the proper expectations with the piece, withdraw plenty of cash BEFORE you get to Poto and/or Silk and wear your drinking pants.

DePaul Working On Five Year Plan

No 'Big Daddy' fans, Tracy Webster is not going to become a fry-cook at Hooters (or is he?).

Someone in the DePaul Basketball office must have read my comments regarding their lack of local recruiting. Apparently, Tracy Webster has offered 8th grader Jahlil Okafor of Rosemont a scholarship.

I give Tracy props for making the move on some local talent but I don't think offering an 8th grader a scholarship is a surefire way to go from interim to permanent head coach. How does this help the team short-term beyond some crazy free PR (which isn't a bad thing)?

Some quick hits on what made Jahlil attractive to Tracy:
1) He's really tall... 6-foot-8 in 8th grade and projected to be 7-foot-3.
2) He's distantly related to Emeka Okafor who had an impressive Big East tenure with UConn.
3) He was the #2 rated player in the 13-u category for AAU nationals last summer.

The kid has a lot of upside but this is clearly a PR ploy. I wouldn't object to Buzz scouting him as a potential big man.

Big Tree Fall Hard

News out of South Bend is putting doubt on Luke Harangody's ability play on Sunday against St. John's after coming down too hard with a rebound last night. While I generally don't wish serious injury on anyone (except Bo Ryan), the thought of Harangody suffering a light sprain and losing half a step is kind of encouraging. I'd prefer that Marquette not have to try and match up against him come March 6.

On another note, while most people think Harangody looks like the love child of Shrek and Sloth from "The Goonies", I notice an uncanny resemblance to Gary Busey. Frightening!

Hart Wins Arbys; BEEF 'N CHEDDARS FOR EVERYBODY.

In the eyes of a three-person arbitration panel, Jon Hart deserves $4.8 million this season (h/t Brew Crew Ball and KL). Yep, $4.8 million to half-ass it in right field, chase breaking balls in the dirt, and attempt to divine the ancient mystery of how can I take a walk every fourth game and STILL hit for power?

But seriously, crew, dynamite decision there, rewarding a guy who's had one-and-a-half good seasons. Maybe Jon can afford his own International Harvester now ... or some laser surgery to remove those ridiculous tattoos. (For real, man: that tattoo of a face on your forearm makes you look like fucking Pete from the old Pete and Pete show on Nickelodeon.)

Happy Friday.

Don't Look Now....

HEY! In case you haven't noticed, and judging by the attendance you haven't, the Marquette Golden Eagles have quietly moved into a tie for 6th place in the Big East standings after last night's upsets of St. John's over Louisville and Seton Hall over Notre Dame. Thankyou Red Storm and Pirates! MU sits in prime position to separate itself from the conference log jam as it squares off with the South Florida Bulls (1 game behind MU in the standings) this Saturday at what looks to be a rockin' Saturday night Bradley Center. A victory for the Golden Eagles on Saturday night would not only put them at the top of the 8 team log jam (8 teams within 2 wins of each other), it also has the potential to vault them into a tie for 5th place with the Pittsburgh Panthers as Pitt has a tough matchup with West Virginia in Pittsburgh this evening. If Pitt manages to get a W tonight and Marquette wins on Saturday, MU would remain only 1/2 game behind Pitt going into their head to head matchup at the Bradley Center next Thursday. After looking at Marquette's favorable remaining schedule, and comparing it to the other 4th-10th place contenders, it's clear that MU controls their own destiny at this point. Approximately 1 week ago, the very accurate predictor Mr. Pomeroy had MU favored in all of the remaining games, and due to other team's tough schedules, had MU eventually going 11-7........good for 4th place in the Big East. I'm not quite as optimistic as Mr.P, but I suspect that the next 2 games at the B.C. are going to be very telling as to how this team is going to finish down the stretch. I hope the MU faithful bring their A game to the Bradley Center the next couple of games because these games are absolutely crucial in making the NCAA tournament.....something that we all thought was a pipe dream in as little as 6 weeks ago.

All that being said, I continue to praise Buzz Williams for the job he has done this season. For any doubters out there, I suggest you look at how the North Carolina Tar Heels and Connecticut Huskies are doing this year. Two of the premiere programs in all of college basketball, both having FAR AND AWAY more talent than the Marquette squad, yet neither likely to make the tournament.....oh and MU won the head to head AT UConn. There is a lot of basketball yet to play, but if MU manages to squeak into 4th place as Pomeroy predicts, I am on the Buzz Williams for Coach of the Year in the Big East bandwagon.

I look forward to the Saturday night atmosphere at the Bradley Center. Hope to see ya'all there. Ring Out Ahoya bitches!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Oversimplified Much?

I don't do the Fire Joe Morgan bit nearly as well as Rubie does, but today's column in the JS about Prince Fielder is worth taking a crack at. Gary Howard* opined that the Brewers have no choice but to sign Prince Fielder to a long-term deal ASAP. Writes Mr. Howard:

Prince Fielder.

Even the name has a cool ring.

And Mr. Fielder will be able to buy all the decorative rings he wants when he signs his next contract. We're talking silver rings, gold rings, platinum rings, gaudy rings, earrings, ugly rings, toe rings, nose rings, ring dings and ring tones.

Ok, I'll give you the name thing. I wish I was cool enough to name my kid Prince. I'll just end up naming him Reid Jr. or something boring like that.


What the Milwaukee Brewers need to ask, in the meantime, is this:

Will the franchise be able to get its first World Series ring sans The Baddest Man in Miller Park History?

Not in their wildest dreams.

Hmm, I don't know. What do we get back for him in a trade? Teams have built contenders from the ransoms they get back from trading their stars. The '03 Marlins were almost entirely built on guys they got from trading off the stars of their '97 team.

So, this morning we have just two words for multimillionaire boy wonder Mark Attanasio: Sign him.

Oh, and one more: Now.

And in return, I offer more than 3 million reasons why you should find the money in the vault at the bottom of that spacious Southern California palace you and Debbie and the A-Kids call home, and then back that up with another 3 million reasons to be followed by another 3 million yet to come in the 2010 major-league baseball season.

Wait, "multimillionaire boy wonder"? That's what you're going with to describe the owner of the Brewers? That's not condescending at all. Why not just say, "Hey rich muther fucker pay for this." And I'm sure the Attanasios don't have a giant vault in the basement of their "palace". I bet it's probably more like a silo, outside of the mansion, where Mark likes to hang out and take swims in his cash like he's Scrooge McDuck. When it comes time to pay the players each week he just heads over there with a wheelbarrow and loads up the cash for 'em.

Your fans deserve the right to believe that small market doesn't mean broke; that breaking up the dynamic duo of Fielder's Batman and Ryan Braun's Robin is just the wrong move to make, even if it will cost you at least a third of your entire payroll for just two players.

It's true, the fans have been phenomenal the past few years. But list for me the franchises that have won a World Series with 1/3 of their payroll committed to just 2 players. Go ahead, hit up the interwebs and see what you can find. I'm not going to bother because I'm that damn certain the answer is ZERO. And it's going to be tough to keep drawing 3 million fans each year with Braun and Fielder and a bunch of nobodies scuffling through a season. Especially after Fielder realizes that he's not going to win a ring here, loses his drive, and becomes an overweight malcontent.

"The No. 1 goal is to keep the team on the path to the postseason every year," Attanasio said Wednesday evening. "This is a very important decision for us."

And if the future roster is to include the likes of ... Randy Wolf, Rickie Weeks, Carlos Villanueva, Claudio Vargas, David Riske, Manny Parra, Casey McGehee, Trevor Hoffman, LaTroy Hawkins, Corey Hart, Jody Gerut, Mat Gamel, Yovani Gallardo, Alcides Escobar, Doug Davis, Todd Coffey and, let's just say, Craig Counsell (best bargain in baseball), then that will just be fine with most of your constituents, as long as the Brew Crew remains playoff worthy.

Right, that's an ok roster. A decent roster that still costs around $60MM, even with 4 players that aren't yet arbitration eligible. I exclude David Riske from my "decent roster" claim, of course. I question the sanity of anyone that is going to include David Riske and his $4MM, injury riddled ass as part of their "playoff worthy" roster.

Of course, you will have to increase your current payroll of about $80 million by at least $15 million per, but your steadfast fans have proven they will pay you right back (as will MLB, through revenue sharing) by continuing to roll through the turnstiles and hot dog lines in record numbers as they have since that wonderful stadium was built with, yes, the tax off of said working man's back.

Do they deserve to be treated to the yearly postseason hope that a Braun-Fielder one-two punch will bring over the next, say, five seasons if you make a deal?

See above. Fans are fickle, and they will turn on him in a heartbeat in that scenario.

You know the answer to that. As a die-hard baseball junkie from the South Bronx, just like me, you want to see it, too, Mark.

"A player like Prince comes along every 10 years or every 15 years," admitted Attanasio. "So you have to take advantage of it. It's a great problem to have."

So I figure a sweet, five-year, $100 million offer (even you can't afford seven, like his agent, Scott "Pay Me!" Boras, would prefer) with incentives might, just might, get 'er done. He's not the "I" in team, no; he's just the T, the E, the A and the M.

A) "Bronx Guy", you'll probably be tickled pink to see him in pinstripes in 2 year. Either that or you're terrified he'll end up in Boston (his most likely suitor IMO)

B) Where the hell did you get that 5 year, $100 million offer from? You just pulled that out of your ass because it sounds good to you. It sounds great to me too, but I'm not an exceptional pro athlete. If I were, then I'd say it sounds like a low-ball, small market, desperation offer. The Yankees gave Mark Teixeira 8 years, $180 million and he's 4 years older than Prince. You think Scott Boras is going to let his client leave $80 million on the table? Fuck no. And if you were Prince why would you even consider staying with a team that would be financially crippled by a deal half that size. (Which brings up one of my biggest gripes, when people say "What's the difference between $100 million and $150 million?" like it doesn't matter. The difference is FIFTY MILLION FUCKING DOLLARS!!!)


Mr. Fielder, in case you forgot, Mr. Attanasio, is a grounded, confident soul who shunned an early call to sign long-term for the chance at a more lucrative payday.

He did his part in 2009, ranking first in the NL in RBI (141), second in slugging (.602), Ding Dongs (46) and OPS (1.014), fourth in walks (110) and sixth in runs (103), all for a measly (by today's standards) $7 million.

And now it's time to get paid. And he will.

Um yeah, lucrative indeed. Not some imaginary number that you just came up with because it sounds good. Teixeira was coming off just as impressive a season, and he was the top free agent available. If Prince does anything close to what he did last year he will be one of, if not THE, top free agent on the market. And he's going to be paid like it. Which means this quixotic notion of home town discounts, is a pipe dream dude.

It's just that - without any inside dope on his intentions - I feel he would take a five-year deal at $20 million per to see what he could do with the Brewers. Every great baseball player wants to be the straw. And by anyone's standards, Prince is just that for this Crew but maybe not for another club, incentive enough to re-sign with Milwaukee.

BAHAHAHAHAAA!!!!!!!! Right. I don't have any "insider dope" either. But here's my feeling: Prince Fielder hired Scott Boras as his agent, that means his main concern is getting paid. And he may love Milwaukee, and he may have had a blast playing here, but he's going after the cash where ever it comes from. And he's not going to shed a single tear over bolting Brew City, so don't be stunned when it happens.

"We hope we can work something out with Prince," added the Brewers' owner. "I think he made a number of comments during our fan weekend that he loved it here in Milwaukee, so we'll go from there."

Or not.

Remember, without Fielder, Braun will be walked to sleep and Attanasio will be wearing out Doug Melvin's phone in search of a body to fill out Prince's baggy baseball pants, and you know that is one monumental task.

Listen dude, I like Prince too. I wish there was a way that we would be able to keep him. But it ain't happening, and we've know this since day one. But there will be other players. We will still have Ryan Braun. Hopefully the money we don't spend on Fielder (or the players we get from trading him) can be spent on providing other pieces to put around him, the system will continue to produce capable major leaguers and Milwaukee can continue the success they've enjoyed the past few seasons. And I hope sharing your little dream-world theory with everyone today has been therapeutic for you, and maybe tomorrow you can come back and join the rest of us on Earth.

So do yourself and your constituents a huge service, Mark, and get your ashcan in the Fielder Sweepstakes.

This, like your initial investment of $220 million for the team, will pay premium dividends, my friend.

WHAT?!?!? I'm not even sure what that means. It's tough to write a ridicule piece when I'm too dumbfounded for words. Where'd you get your finance degree from again?

And you know this, Man.

And nothing says "I really know my stuff" like ending a column with a quote from Friday. Dude, 1995 called and Chris Tucker wants his bong back.








*It should be noted that I have no clue who Gary Howard is. He might be the most famous name in Milwaukee sports journalism for all I know. Or some paper pusher that just got a burr under his saddle about Prince Fielder. No idea.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Something Funny For Those That Hate Louisville Cardinals


John Hollinger wrote a "Biggest NBA Disappointments" article on espn.com today. And I found this one tidbit particularly amusing.


He's a lottery pick, he played three seasons in college and he plays for a team with a limited bench. Yet, he still can't get on the floor. Ladies and gentleman, I bring you Earl Clark, the early leader in the race of the biggest draft bust of 2009. Clark sports a PER of 6.99 on 37.1 percent shooting in 36 appearances, and increasingly seems to be falling out of favor, playing a total of seven minutes in Phoenix's past three games.


Hahaha!!! I will forever be able to hear the high pitched, southern drawl squeals of the the portly Joe Bob looking fellow that sat behind me at last year's MU game in Louisville. "DON'T GIVE IT TO EARL!!!" "AWWW, EARL!!! WHAT THE...." "JUST TAKE 'IM OUT ALREADY!!!!" Absolute priceless comedy gold. After hearing a Earl's game broken down so eloquently, by someone that probably watched a lot of him in college, I can't say that I'm terribly surprised at his NBA production being a disappointment. I bet Phoenix is looking forward to someday having a team centered around Clark and Robin Lopez. Hell, New Jersey has the good Lopez brother and they're 4-47.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Pick a Pose Bud...

So the Brewers have decided to erect a statue of current MLB Commissioner and former Brewers owner Allan H. "Bud" Selig outside of Miller Park. The ceremony will take place August 24th before the Brewers take on the LA Dodgers. I guess I don't have a problem with this since he's the reason the Brewers are in Milwaukee, but I'm curious as to which pose they are going to put the commish in. It has to be one of the following 4:








Saturday, February 6, 2010

MU escapes with 82-79 Victory


The Marquette Golden Eagles returned to the scene of the crime this morning to face the Providence Friars at the Dunkin' Dohnuts Center in an important Big East matchup. In what has become a painful trend for this squad, the game once again was decided by one possession. MU put itself in a bit of a hole early due to sloppy ball control and it's inability to keep Providence's talented front court off the offensive glass. After fighting uphill for most of the game, MU was able to take the lead near the midway point in the second half and eventually building as much as an 8 point lead with roughly 3 to play. Whew, MU eventually coasted to victory, right? Of couse not. With a 7 pt lead and 1:15 to play, the shit absolutely hit the fan. After Providence knocked down the first of two ft's, they miss the second, but eventually Sharaud Curry grabs hold of the ball in the corner and unconsciously drains a 3 pointer with a defender in his grill.....quickly making it a 4 point possession and cutting the deficit to 3. With the crowd going bananas, DJO tries to inbound the ball but hesitates and eventually tries to force a bounce pass to Cubillan which gets picked off and laid in to make it a 1 pt game with 53 seconds to play........forcing Coach Williams to call a timeout. After the timeout, MU again struggles to get the ball inbounds and is eventually called for a 5 second violation. S.O.B.! Here we go again! Well thankfully, MU has Lazar Hayward. After finally preventing Providence from scoring, Cubillan bricks a long with the shot clock winding down, but Lazar is able to come down with the offensive board with 13 seconds to play forcing Providence to foul and put Lazar on the line. In spite of previous free throw line horrors, Lazar calmly knocks down both to make it a 3 point game with 13 seconds left. With a hot Sharaud Curry on the court, I frankly was scared of another desperation make, but to my surprise Providence allowed a freshman to slowly bring the ball up the court, dribble into a double team, and force up a contested 3 as time ticked closer to zero. Clank! Thank God!
Marquette escapes Providence with another come from behind victory and improves their overall record to 5-1 against Providence since joining the biggest. More importantly, MU also improves their Big East record to 6-5 and adds a quality road W to their NCAA resume.
A couple of quick notes:
1. Provided MU doesn't play Providence in the Big East tournament, they no longer have to try and contain Sharaud Curry. It seems like he has been around forever! I recall watching him play at the Bradley Center as a freshman and saying to myself and others, "He is going to be a pain in our ass for years to come". While MU has had plenty of success against Providence, Curry darn near spoiled our game today.
2. We didn't get to see Jamine Peterson much in the first matchup at the B.C. in January, and I'm glad that we didn't because he is an absolute MONSTER! While only a sophomore, the 6'6" forward looked like a man amongst boys today, scoring 28 pts on a number of alley oop dunks, drop off dunks, putbacks, and even knocking down 1 of 3 3-pt attempts. Oh and he had 11 rebounds, 5 on the offensive end. Like the comment I made about Curry, I'm not looking forward to playing this guy over the next couple of seasons.
3. With MU getting the W to go to 6-5 in Big East play, 7 games remain, 4 of which will be played at the B.C. (USF, Pitt, Notre Dame, and Louisville) and the remaining 3 will be played at very winnable venues (Cincinnati, Seton Hall, St. Johns). Looking at that schedule, going 9-9 looks likely.....going 10-8 looks reasonable......and according to Pomeroy's prediction as of this week, 11-7 looks possible. That being said, achieving any one of those 3 records, I absolutely claim this season as a success! Further, I'd give a ton of that credit to Coach Williams. What a majority thought would be a rebuilding season for Marquette, MU has actually been more than competitive while playing some of the best teams in the country. While I have been impressed with Williams' ability to get the most out of a makeshift team full of role players and junior-college transfers, I am more impressed with how this team has responded since their heartbreaking start to the season. MU has endured a number of gut wrenching losses this season, and the fact that this team has been able to bounce back get to a 6-5 record after a 1-3 start in Big East play is an accomplishment in itself. I continue to be impressed with Coach Williams and am happy with what he has been able to do with this program after Crean's unexpected departure. Keep it up MU and Ring Out Ahoya!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Ladies and Gentleman......Please Remain Seated


At 12:00 pm EST tomorrow, the Marquette Golden Eagles return to the Dunkin' Donuts Center in Providence, Rhode Island to face the Providence Friars........and possibly their fans. During MU's come from behind victory in Providence last year, an unwelcomed guest (that being Providence forward Jeff Xavier's brother, see picture) decided to invite himself onto the court after what he thought was an overly aggressive foul on his brother Jeff go uncalled. Nothing ever transpired from the unexpected appearance of Mr. Xavier, but Coach Williams was not pleased to say the least. You can bet that the arena's security will be extra tight for tomorrow's matchup. We all know the saying, "fool me once shame on you.......", that being said, Providence does not want to be embarassed like that again.
On to the matchup - Marquette recently climbed to 0.500 in Big East play after beating Depaul on Wednesday, while Providence is sitting one game behind MU at 4-6. As of right now, half of the Big East is sitting somewhere between 4-6 and 6-4, so this game will loom large in the final 4 week push. In their previous matchup, MU throttled Providence 93-63 behind Mo Acker's 6-6 performance from behind the arc. What may have alleviated the W for MU was the ejection of Jamine Peterson, Providence's best all around player, just before the end of the first half. You can bet Providence has this fresh in their minds (or at least was reminded of it on tape this week) and will be fired up for this game. Like MU, Providence likes to shoot the 3 and can hit it at a good clip, so these 2 teams mirror each other well.
Keys to the Game:
1. Turnovers - MU is typically good at taking care of the ball, but was uncharacteristically sloppy versus Depaul on Wednesday. In order to come away with a nice road win, MU has to win the turnover battle. (Yes, I'm looking at you Buycks and DJO)
2. Aggressiveness - Like one of my keys to the Depaul game, MU needs to attack the paint. Providence does not have an intimidating post presence and shot blocker, so I would like to see our guards continue what they did on Wednesday and go hard to the glass. They will be rewarded with layups, free throws, and weak side putbacks if they are dedicated to this.
3. Ball movement - When this team moves the ball alot and quickly, their shot selection is superb! Further, they knock down their shots more consistently. They need to maintain this kind of focus for an ENTIRE 40 minutes. We all know what happens when they only do this for 37 minutes.
Prediction: MU 81
Providence 78
Now that DJO is consistently being our most productive player on the offensive end, MU has three reliable options in Lazar Hayward, Jimmy Butler, and Darius Johnson-Odom. So essentially, MU can handle a cold shooting night from one of the three. That being said, I think that MU's advantage in firepower will be the edge in this high scoring matchup. Provided MU takes care of the ball, I think that they walk away victorious with Providence making a few late garbage baskets to make it look closer than it was (similar to the Depaul game).
Ring Out Ahoya!

MikeHunt Thinks This Leopard Can Change His Spots.

In the midst of taking Jon Hart to task for asking for a raise of $1.5 million after a .260/.335/.418 season in which he only started 105 games, MikeHunt pauses to consider the other side of the coin. Kind of:

Besides, it's altogether possible that Hart will rediscover whatever he lost right around the NLDS against the Phillies.

Jon Hart's second-half split for 2008: .239/.263/.396, with 5 homers and 33 driven in.

To get more precise:

Jon Hart, in the last 40 games of the 2008 season: .208/.226/.333, with 2 homers, 17 driven in, 4 walks, and 29 strikeouts. Oh, and 7 GIDP, just for good measure.

So, if by "right around the NLDS" you mean "back in August and September," then, yes, Jon Hart went Clusterfuck Supernova right around the NLDS.

Suddenly he had no plate patience, hacking at all manner of junk in the dirt.

In the 2008 season, in over 650 plate appearances, Jon Hart drew 27 walks. (I'll do the math for you: that's 4%.) Here are his on-base percentages for June, July, August and September/October 2008 (in order): .292, .301, .310, .192.

Jon Hart is many things (oddly-tattooed, dense, goatboy-ish, but I digress), but something he has never, ever, EVAH been is patient at the plate.

If someone could get through to him, he has the raw skills to approach .300.

Someone did get through to him last year, and convinced him that he needed to start talking a walk every now and again. The end result? A much better OBP, at the sacrifice of his power.

Jon Hart is many things (fast but prone to idiotic baserunning mistakes, a person with terrible taste in music, tall, but I digress) but something he has never, ever, EVAH been able to do adapt his game. If you asked him to start chewing bubble gum while he jogs out to right field, he'd probably choke to death.

He's still one of the fastest players on the team with acceptable power.

... which comes in really handy when we have the 40-yard-dash competition against the other team ...

He's not a good defensive player, but he's young enough to get it.


He's actually a really bad defensive player -- maybe not Braun-level bad, but he ain't far off: Hart was (-9.1) UZR/150 last year and (-5.3) UZR/150 in 2008. As for being "young enough to get it," I have no quarrel with the first word in that phrase. My problem is the last two; see "Jon Hart is many things," Second Take.

But, sure, maybe Jon Hart can turn around this death spiral and make good on the promise he showed in the first half of '08. And maybe he'll learn that you can hit doubles and homers and take a walk every once in a while. And maybe Evangeline Lilly will move into Casa de Rubie and be my maid, and wear this outfit.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

This Guy - I Think He Going to Work Out

From the Omaha World Herald's website - here's Bo Pelini's reaction to the football signing day monkey business. I love his reaction to the question and approach to recruiting.

And if Rivals.com said the NU class ranked No. 23 or Scout.com pegged it at No. 30, well, it actually seemed to tickle Pelini when asked what he thought about the whole business of how recruiting is covered. “We could spend a few hours on that,” Pelini said. “I mean, really, honestly it makes me really laugh. It’s amusing to me. It provides me with a lot of enjoyment reading the analysis and the rankings and the stars and all the other stuff that goes into recruiting. Honestly, I don’t pay much attention to it, other than when I’m down and I really want to get a good laugh.”
Asked where he would rate his own class, Pelini said talk to him in a few years. “After we’ve had a chance to work with them and get ’em developed,” he said.

Thursday's Big East Game

Cincinnati @ Notre Dame

Hype:
This will be a big matchup for separating some of the teams in the big gooey middle of the Big East. Cincinnati (5-4) is another Big East team on the bubble, while Notre Dame (4-5) wishes they were on the bubble. Cincinnati has only one road win on the year and it’s tough to get excited about a win at Rutgers.

Matchup:
It will be fun to watch Luke Harangody muscle up against Yancy Gates down low. Harangody seems to get frustrated when opponents get really physical with him and Gates brings the physical. If Gates can force him into settling for jumpers beyond mid range, the Bearcats could be in business. Defensively, ND is a wreck, but the Bearcats don’t have the efficient scorers to take proper advantage – Lance Stephenson shoots 19% from 3 and Deonta Vaughn (did he play with Steve Logan?) is only shooting 41% from the field. Look for Harangody to get Gates in foul trouble allowing ND to win this game rather easily.

Prediction:
Notre Dame – 83
Cincinnati - 73

Bring on the Friars!!

Big win last night. It was ugly as hell and I never thought I would pine for a Tim Higgins officiating crew, but we still got the W and are back to .500 in conference.

Great quote from Buzz in the Journal Sentinel today:
"We beat Providence without their best player; they'll be excited to play us," said Williams. "How it'll all play out, I don't know. I know if we're not very good tomorrow in practice, it trends toward us not being very good on Saturday."

I was thinking the exact same thing and I love how he positioning that game as an absolute fluke. We'll have our hands full on Saturday.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Brewers Pick Up Estrada


The Brewers have claimed Marco Estrada off waivers from the Nationals and designated Tim Dillard for assignment.


My initial thought was that D3 was going to have to scrub the sausage and mustard stains off of his Johnny Estrada jersey but it turns out that Marco will wear #74. Unless, of course, public outcry over not being able to recycle Estrada jerseys forces a change to good old 33.

Another New Commitment

According to Mark Miller on the Scout site.

Jae Crowder. 6'6" JUCO forward. He will have 2 years of eligibility for MU.

http://www.njcaa.org/colleges_college_player.cfm?sid=4&collegeid=1310&category=Roster&slid=2&teamid=92405&athleteid=284980

Wednesday's Big East Action

Pitt @ West Virginia

Hype:

Not much of a need to hype this one – it’s the hardwood version of the Backyard Brawl in Morgantown. Pitt has been slipping of late after their torrid conference start, but West Virginia hasn’t exactly been blowing teams out of the WVU Coliseum.

Matchup:

Expect a slugfest all over the court. A couple key stats to watch 1) WVU’s offensive rebounding, they are #3 in KenPom’s ratings there, which will be crucial because is very strong in effective FG % defense 2) WVU’s turnovers, Pitt is one of the worst teams in the nation at forcing turnovers defensively.

Prediction:

West Virginia: 70

Pittsburgh: 68

South Florida @ Georgetown

Hype:

South Florida rides into the District with a stunning 3 game winning streak. Considering the Bulls had never won consecutive games in the Big East, this is a huge deal. Georgetown needs to be on upset alert after Saturday’s big win over Duke in front of the Commander in Chief.

Matchup:

Can Georgetown stop Dominique Jones? He’s averaged 37 points in their 3 game winning streak? Can USF stop Austin Freeman? He’s shot over 50% from the field in all Big East game except one. Another interesting matchup will be 6’11” Jarrid Famous against Greg Monroe. USF will stick around for a while, but tired USF legs will lead to some discipline breakdowns on defense and easy Hoya layups.

Prediction:

Georgetown – 78

USF - 69

DePaul @ Marquette

Hype:

Can Marquette exact revenge on DePaul after their embarrassing upset loss to the Blue Demons on January 20th? DePaul has been playing harder, particularly on defense since Tracy Webster replaced Jerry Wainright as head coach.

Matchup:

DePaul’s length and athleticism gave Marquette fits in their last matchup. DePaul engaged MU’s guards the second they crossed the half court line, which slowed down MU’s offense considerably. Offensively, DePaul struggles to score and basically takes the air out of the ball to give themselves the best chance to win. One concern for MU fans has to be Mac Koshwal, DePaul’s inside force. He was hurt for the last game and could have a huge game against MU’s non-existant front line.

Prediction:

Marquette 64

DePaul 58

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Tuesday's Big East Preview

Seton Hall @ Villanova
Hype:
Seton Hall is another Big East team firmly on the bubble. A win over the Wildcats would be huge for their at-large chances. Villanova looks to continue their school-best 8-0 Big East conference start.

Matchup:
Herb Pope is one of the better rebounders in the league, but still struggles to score. Villanova is more stout up front than in previous years, but he could still be a handful for Antonio Pena (who is only a junior – give him the Terry Dehere When Is He Gonna Graduate Award right now). Jeremy Hazell and Scottie Reynolds will both shoot a lot, but Reynolds will make his shots, providing the major difference. One ray of hope for Seton Hall, they are #2 in the nation in Turnover Percentage. I highly doubt that will hold up in the raucous Pavilion with the withering Nova pressure defense bearing down on them.

Prediction:
Villanova – 79
Seton Hall - 71

Providence @ Syracuse
Hype:
Syracuse is vying for a #1 seed come March and Providence is trying to fight their way back onto the bubble. Providence has shown they can play with talented teams, smoking UConn last week.

Matchup:
Providence can score with almost anyone in the country but PC can’t guard Steven Hawking. The Friars are ranked #204 in Ken Pomeroy’s defensive efficiency rankings, which is worst in the conference save Notre Dame [insert Charlie Weis joke here]. Syracuse is 13th in the nation in offensive efficiency and leads the nation in FG%, a stat that has been beaten to death by every commentator in the land. As usual, the question with Syracuse is motivation. After Saturday’s dreadful effort at DePaul, the Orange should be fired up to immolate the Friars.

Prediction:
Syracuse – 88
Providence - 74

St. John’s @ Rutgers
Hype:
St. John’s is playing improved ball this year and Anthony Mason, Jr has recently rejoined the squad. They started the year 10-2 with those two losses coming to Cornell and Duke and victories over Georgia, Siena and Temple. The Big East has not been kind, though, as SJU has gone 2-6 with a 15 point loss at home to Providence. Rutgers is coming off their first Big East win of the year, a shocker over Notre Dame on Saturday.

Matchup:
Look for Mike Rosario to shoot often, early, late and maybe even during some timeouts for Rutgers. If his shot is falling, Rutgers could pull off the mild upset. If not, SJU will roll to victory at the RAC.

Prediction:
St. John’s – 69
Rutgers - 60

And we didn't like Junior taking off his red-shirt...

Per Rosiak's blog:

The recovery of Chris Otule. I'm not saying the sophomore center will be back, or even suit up. But he's getting much closer to a possible return, and he could very well wind up taking off his redshirt like Cadougan did. If you're there early, watch him as he goes through pre-game workouts. He's moving around pretty well, and hasn't appeared to have any setbacks. He could be a valuable asset as a backup for Butler and Hayward down the stretch.

Monday, February 1, 2010

If Pitt Leaves – What Happens to Marquette?

Following up from yesterday’s manifesto, what does all of this Big 11 expansion talk mean for MU? Let’s run through a couple of the scenarios:

Scenario #1: Pitt Stays in the Big East

What happens to the Big East: Nothing, the behemoth stays together

What happens to MU: Business as usual and us MU fans go back to wringing our hands over our lack of frontcourt size

Long term forecast: The forecast is partly sunny. MU has benefitted greatly from joining the Big East, but the specter of a breakup still looms. Remaining in the Big East is our best bet to one day win a national title (hey, I can dream)

Scenario #2a: Big 11 steals Pitt, and only Pitt. Big East remains a BCS football automatic qualifier

What happens to the Big East: Big East replaces Pittsburgh with a moderately acceptable candidate – likely Memphis, less likely East Carolina or Central Florida

What happens to MU immediately: After some nervous moments, it’s mostly business as usual as a Big East member in the near term

Long term forecast after the shift: Late afternoon, extremely humid with some clouds developing over the western horizon. In other words for you non-Plains dwellers, some big storms could be coming. Steve Cottingham has several contingency plans available as the Big East is considerably less stable

Scenario #2b: Big 11 steals Pitt, and only Pitt. Big East loses its automatic BCS football bid after a couple of years

What happens to the Big East: The Big East football playing schools have to accept the new reality of college sports – they are firmly in the have-not category for football. There are many people predicting a catastrophic domino effect, but they are missing one big consideration. Where would they go? The Big 11, ACC, SEC and Big XII would all have 12 members. There is little reason for these conferences to expand to 13 or 14 members because all remaining Big East football teams have major warts, be it academics, athletic competitiveness, location or tiny fan base. West Virginia and Syracuse would be best positioned to make a move, but where would they go?

What happens to MU immediately: See #2a but with infinitely more hand wringing

Long term forecast after the shift: Tornado Watch – total destruction of the Big East is unlikely but within the realm of possibility. MU’s ceiling of achievement will be lowered considerably – think maxing out in the Sweet 16 or Elite 8

Scenario #3: Big 11 steals Pitt, and then either or both of Rutgers and Syracuse

What happens to the Big East: More than likely dissolves for football. The remaining football schools would have several unsavory choices:

1) Beg and/or bribe another major conference to take them

2) Remain in a 6 team Big East w/o a BCS bid for football

3) Go independent

4) Join mid-major conference for football only (MAC, C-USA, Sun Belt)

5) Leave the Big East completely for a mid-major conference

6) Do what Virginia Tech did and find a political ally in the Senate to force you into another major conference

7) Beg Villanova and/or Georgetown to bump football up to Division 1 – highly unlikely considering the cost and time needed to accomplish

8) Drop football – could seriously happen after a few years

What happens to MU immediately:

Ideal – MU joins a Catholic basketball conference. This has been discussed often, but it could consist of any combination of MU, DePaul, Notre Dame, SLU, Creighton, Xavier, Dayton, Georgetown, Villanova, St. Joe’s, St. John’s, Seton Hall and Providence.

Worst Case – Big East stays together in a mangled form. This would be reminiscent of C-USA circa 2006 (hell, C-USA now). Everyone would be waiting for the other shoe to drop

Long term forecast after the shift:

Ideal – This conference would likely be very stable without any football concerns. The conference would still have enough cache to garner attention on ESPN, though at a reduced rate than we currently experience. It would be the A-10 on steroids and it would be possible, though more difficult, for MU to compete for a national title

Worst Case – Recruiting suffers as the competition plays off MU’s “dead man walking” conference. It will become much more difficult to retain quality coaches. This scenario probably wouldn’t last long, but it would set MU back several years


Final Summary

Who knows what will come of this, the first domino hasn't even fallen yet, if it will even fall. Regardless, MU has experienced it best run of success since the Al years as a result of its Big East affiliation. Any threat to that affiliation must be taken seriously because our success is fragile - we have no football, a tiny alumni base and no natural recruiting base.

NCAA to Expand Tournament??

Lots of chatter that the NCAA is planning to expand the men's tournament to 96 teams. This will make for some interesting debates. I think it dilutes the tournament too much and puts Joe Lunardi out of a cushy "Bracketologist" job at ESPN.

http://www.sportsbusinessjournal.com/article/64712

Big East Week Preview – Abbreviated Edition

Monday
Connecticut @ Louisville
Hype:
Once again, Louisville gets the nod for ESPN’s Big Monday tilt, this time at home against UConn. Instead of jockeying for Big East supremacy, both teams are scratching and clawing for an at-large berth. Joe Lunardi currently has UConn as the last team in and Louisville as the last team out of the tournament.

Matchup:
UConn struggles with their half court offense, but U of L likes to get out and run as well. Kemba Walker and Jerome Dyson are seasoned guards that should handle the pressure well. Ultimately, UConn’s inability to stretch the floor with a dangerous shooter will come back to haunt them. Samuels will shut down UConn’s bigs and provide help if Walker and Dyson can penetrate past U of L’s sagging guards. Where have you gone Doron Sheffer?

Prediction:
Louisville 75
UConn 71

The week’s remaining games will come later tonight.

Brewers On Deck

The first rumbling of baseball season in Milwaukee took place this weekend. Brewers Fan Fest, or whatever the hell it's called, went down over at the Midwest Airlines Center. By all accounts it was a pretty big hit, drawing over 10,000 fans. Every player except the snowed in Todd Coffey and the flu stricken Carlos Gomez was in attendance.


Big stories out of the event:


-Prince Fielder's contract. Get ready for a long year of talking about this. Hopefully Prince doesn't let it get him down, or make him press to try and prove his worth. Prince you're gonna be here for one more year(ish) after this one. Regardless of what happens, you're going to get a healthy raise next year. After that he'll undoubtedly get an even healthier one, probably from Boston or some other deep pocketed AL team.


-Corey Hart's impending arbitration hearing. Hart apparently requested a raise from his $3.25 million last year, to $4.8 million. And apparently he is prepared to go to a hearing to argue that that is what he deserves. What I want to know is how in the blue hell does he plan to make this case? In case you forgot Jon put together a .260/.335/.418 season last year, with 12 homers and 11 steals (in 17 attempts). He also compiled a tidy little K/BB ratio of 2.13/1. Which would've been awesome if he were a starting pitcher*, but he was doing that with the stick. And I know he missed some time with the appendix and all, but he still played in 115 games. How much would he really have improved those numbers if he had played an extra 35-40 games? If anything they may have gone down, since his hottest part of the year was the very beginning. I can't blame the Brewers for taking a hard line with him. Hey Corey, if it wasn't for the arbitration system you wouldn't be getting a raise at all this year. I don't know that this is the proper time to draw your line in the sand. But good luck with that dude.

*For the sake of comparison Gallardo 2.17 K/BB, Parra 1.76, Suppan 1.08

-And last but not least the team is still open to the Mark Mulder idea, but in apparently in no hurry. From Tom Haudricourt:

"Pitching coach Rick Peterson said the team was in a "wait-and-see" mode on a possible signing of left-hander Mark Mulder, who is mulling a comeback after missing most of the last three seasons with injuries. "It's going to be Mark's decision as to whether he wants to come back," said Peterson."

I've taken the liberty of highlighting one little tidbit in there that I thought would particularly interest those amongst you who insisted to me that Mulder was not left handed. Who's the man now dawg!?!?

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