Monday, January 10, 2011

Week in Review - 01.10.11

A loss by just three, on the road against one of the best team's in the country, is definitely nothing to be ashamed of.  If you look at the Gophers three Big Ten losses, all three to road teams and all three competitive games, you really don't have anything to worry about because they should be fine.  I'm still a bit nervous because I don't think they've looked good and they should/could be playing better, but I can see why people could be optimistic.  I don't really think we can evaluate this team until after Thursday's game, when they play Purdue at home.  It will be their first time playing a Big Ten contender at home, and if they win we can all smile and say everything is going to be alright.

Of course, what is not alright is the play Tubby drew up at the end of that game against the Buckeyes.  Gophers down three with 15 seconds to play and the ball, and a huge opportunity.  So they run a play that consists of a single screen for Hoffarber, who, don't forget, is the only person on the team who can shoot and who everybody, including one of the best defensive teams in the country, knows is going to be the the guy they're going to run the play for.  When Ohio State jumped the screen and Hoff wasn't open, nobody knew what to do because nobody was doing anything else.  There was no other option on the play.  It was a silly, ridiculous, and stupid play with no options other than the obvious, and no back-up plan after the Buckeyes predictably focused all their efforts on stopping Blake.  Is everybody still sure that losing Devoe (heading to Oregon, BTW) isn't such a big deal?

Good final result, terrible final play.  Moving on.....


1.  Cincinnati Bearcats.  Every year, the Cincinnati vs. Xavier game is one of the most hotly contested games of the year.  The "Crosstown Shootout" isn't as well known as some other rivalries, but that doesn't make it any less intense (including a double-OT thriller with multiple technicals and benches clearing last year).  And lately, it's been dominated by Xavier, who had won the last three.  Not this year, because the suddenly relevant Bearcats have done the old "addition by subtraction" routine, and are now 15-1 on the season after blowing out X by 20 (and losing to Nova on Sunday), despite the loss of super star Lance Stephenson to the NBA after last season.  I guess he can't really have been that much of a star, if you really think about it.

2.  Jeff Brooks.  I've talked on here before about how Penn State missed every chance to get a signature - or even quality - win in their non-conference schedule and how that made their margin of error razor thin if they wanted to get Talor Battle into an NCAA Tournament before he graduated.   An early road loss to Michigan made it look like they could forget it, but they picked up a very big win over the weekend against Michigan State that means they are still alive, and it's mainly thanks to Brooks, who had 17 points and 12 boards against Sparty, following up another double-double earlier in the week against Purdue.  Brooks first three seasons at PSU were pretty nondescript, but he's taken this break-out senior thing to another level, averaging 14 points and 8 rebounds per game on the year and giving Battle a legitimate threat to take some pressure off of him.  I mean, there's still pretty much no way they're going to make the NCAA Tournament, but at least they're trying.

3.  Colorado Buffaloes.  Colorado had been pegged as a bit of a sleeper coming into the year due to their two NBA-type players, Alec Burks and Cory Higgins, but they struggled a bit out of the gate with early losses to Georgia, San Francisco, and Harvard and it was starting to look like those two weren't going to be able to do enough to push Colorado to a bid.  This weekend, however, they picked up a huge win, beating #8 Missouri 89-76 behind a combined 54 points and 18 rebounds from their two stars (who are both guards, by the way).  The Big 12 should be good enough this year where if Colorado can beat everybody but Kansas at home - and Missouri was the next biggest obstacle - and beat the bad teams on the road they should be able to grab the program's first NCAA bid since Chauncey Billups was running around Boulder.

4.  Georgia Bulldogs.  Similar to Colorado, Georgia was another borderline tournament sleeper type team.  And similarly to the Buffaloes, the Bulldogs didn't really get off to a great start.  They didn't have any bad losses, but they took part in the Old Spice Classic and walked away with nothing more than a win over Manhattan after losing in OT to Notre Dame and getting dropped by Temple.  Since then they've won nine straight, but there were no real good wins, and a few struggles against bad teams (1 pt win over Georgia Tech, 3 pt win over Mercer, 7 pt win over Eastern Kentucky) and were generally unimpressive.  Well, they finally picked up their signature win on Saturday, knocking off the 11th ranked (though overrated) Kentucky Wildcats.  And I'm going to tell you something:  if you get a chance to watch Georgia, take it.  Their small forward, Travis Leslie, is the kind of guy whose athleticism rivals and may surpass Rodney Williams.  Plus he averages 14 points and 8 rebounds per game, and probably never gets pulled in crunch-time on the road against a nationally ranked team for a freshman.

5.  Missouri State Bears.  The Bears (coached by Cuonzo Martin, FYI) won a huge statement game last night, beating Wichita State in Wichita to move to 5-0 in the conference, now a game ahead of the Shockers and the Creighton Blue Jays - another team they've already beat on the road.  In fact, the Bears also won at Northern Iowa, which means they've already traveled to, and beaten, three of the top 5-6 teams in the conference, so they are definitely in the driver's seat to win the Missouri Valley.  Of course, it's starting to look more and more like the MVC is going to be a one-bid conference this year, so none of this really matters at all and the only thing that matters is who gets hot in March.  Kind of anti-climactic and waste of time-y, if you ask me.


1.  Florida State Seminoles.  Here is a list of team's Auburn has lost to this year:  UNC-Asheville, Samford, Campbell, Jacksonville, Rutgers, South Florida, and Presbyterian.  Only the South Florida game was on the road, which is why it is so shocking that Florida State, an NCAA Tournament caliber team, went to Auburn and lost to the Tigers this week, and then followed that up with an understandable but unfortunate loss at Virginia Tech.  And all this coming on the heels of a fabulous upset win over Baylor.  I think it's fairly safe to say nobody really knows what is going on with this team, other than that they play great defense and are putrid offensively.  A real recipe for success.

2.  Georgetown Hoyas.  Losing to West Virginia isn't exactly the most embarrassing thing in the world, even if it is at home, but I'm putting the Hoyas here this week because doesn't it seem like they do this every single year?   They start out hot and get themselves ranked inside or near the top 10, drop a bunch of games they should win in conference play but win enough to keep a relatively high ranking, and then get housed in the NCAA tournament.  It really feels like they do this all the time to me, so I never really buy into the Hoyas.  I will say that this year, rather than relying on a big, plodding center they have three very, very good guards, which is a much better recipe for success, but I think I've put G-Town in the same category as Kansas and Duke - other than an exception once in a while, they nearly always fail to perform to expectations in March.

3.  David Akers.  Excellent work, Akers.  Way to have the worst game of your career in a the playoffs, in a game where your two missed kicks (from 41 and 34, distances that are almost automatic for him) absolutely made a massive difference in this game.  It's very likely the Eagles win this game if he makes those two kicks.  Instead we have to put up with the stupid Packers for another week, at least.  Thanks Akers.  You may now consider yourself an enemy of this blog.  Make your time.

4.  Butler Bulldogs.  There are certain things that just can't happen when you're a mid-major trying to get a bid.  One of the biggest is that you can't lose by over 20 to a conference foe who is not a contender for the league crown.  So guess what Butler did?  Yep, they got their clocks cleaned by Milwaukee, a team sitting at 8-9 overall with several ugly losses.  So let's look at Butler.  Right now the are 12-5, with an RPI of 23 and Strength of Schedule of 16.  Wins over Florida State and Washington State are good, while the loss to Milwaukee and an earlier loss to Evansville are bad.  Knowing that the SoS and RPI will go down as conference play continues, and knowing that Butler really doesn't have another chance at a big-time win (I don't think they're in bracket busters this year), they are very, very close to having to win out to grab at at-large.  I wouldn't say they're quite there yet, but they'd do well to avoid more than 1 or 2 more losses.

5.  Kansas City Chiefs.  I don't even know who to blame here the most.  Dwayne Bowe for not being a part of the offense (zero catches)?  Matt Cassell for not even throwing to him (zero targets) and throwing three picks?  Or Todd Haley for being unable to design a game plan which would find ways to get Bowe the ball, and, at the same time, when the passing game wasn't working he still managed to only give the ball to Jamaal Charles nine times.  And don't forget the defense for surrendering 30 points to team known more for defense than offense.  In any case, just a complete implosion by a team playing their first playoff game in like 80 years.  Well done.

Honorable mention for awesomeness goes to the Seattle Seahawks.  After getting down early it would have been easy to roll-over and die, but they fought back and ended up kicking the crap out of New Orleans.  Although in retrospect we should have seen this coming - home team, massive underdog, not only did they get no respect, they got no respect in a "we need to change the rules because this team is too shitty to be in the playoffs" kind of no respect, and that's the worst kind.  Very good win, and this run here by Marshawn Lynch is like whoa:


Aar Man said...

If you haven't already heard: are we cursed or something?

KC Royals Guy said...

You can blame that fat ass Charlie (I plan to eat myself to death) Weiss for the KC loss. Maybe Fat Ass should have held off on interviewing for jobs until the NFL season was over. That game plan stunk of a guy who mailed things in. I hope Charlie chokes on the next triple bacon cheese burger he stuffs down his gullet. I don't want him to die from choking, just turn real blue so he knows how I felt on sunday.

Also, I hope they lock Mbakwe up for life. Not because what he did is all that bad. Because he is just sooooooooo stupid. Part of his problem could be the lack of skull over his brain, but come on. There are thousands of stupid girls who would try and tackle his enormous member and he has to stalk some girl on the internet? MN Sports are the laughing stock of the country and his blog is the laughing stock of blogs.

P.S. Losing by three is a good final result for a bunch of 10 year olds who play hard and hustle. Its a terrible result for a supposed top 20 basketball team. Pollyanna!

T.Helton said...

KC guy, the game plan really changed around when Toddy Haley started calling plays there in the 2nd half didn't it? It's not Charlie's fault that Cassell throws like WWWW lefthanded, he is an average qb playing in a terrible AFC west and was exposed, deal with that.

Also when you have the chance for a better job, why would you hold off on that interview? That is an awesome life lesson, don't try to better yourself because you might make some fans upset, toughen up, you sound like D.Vermeil. This also might clue you in to what T.Haley's staff really thinks of him too.

Also, KC has not really been a beacon of sports achievements the last 20 or so years.

Aar Man said...

I guess it might not matter:
but this is still stupid

Anonymous said...

KC, no....but Missouri yes!