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Respect For The Conn-glomerate

So my bracket or brackets in the Men's field were an abject failure. (Sans the one where I went Devil's Advocate and picked Duke.) This may have been one year where going to the Women's side of things, may have been a safer bet. Why? Because The Conn-glomerate reigned supreme and sans last night's national title game, not one game was close past the ten minute mark of the first half. I know the majority of the nation thinks anything sports related pertaining to women should have some type of hot oil, wax or bikini involved. But I guess I'm chivalrous and beyond such chauvinistic things. As of last night, UConn's women are sitting on top of the college basketball world with 78 straight wins. Including a less than impressive win last night over the team which handed them their last loss some two years ago in the National Semifinal, Stanford.

Bracketed Ranting

Alright, I knew there was something I meant to harp on and the "expansion of the NCAA Tournament" is/near the top of the list. Isn't it ironic how college football with the most meaningful regular season in all of sports is trying to be college basketball and now college basketball with the best postseason in all of sports is trying to be college football? Wow.

The Greatest Youth League Basketball Shot Ever

MY MIND JUST LOST ITSELF! Off the top of the backboard, off the heating duct, down the suspension line, and right into the basket! From 3/4 court, no less! I don't even think I could get the ball within a mile of the basket from there! Exclamation points! Shame the ref waves it off. I guess that counts as interference or something.

(I have to tag this post with something, so I'll tag it NCAA basketball. Right after making this shot, Billie Gillispie offered the kid a glass of whiskey and a scholarship to his next school.)

H/T: Deadspin

The Search Is On

Well, that's another coach run out of town. We took too long to fire Tubby, and I have to say I think they fired Billy Clyde Gillispie a little too quickly. Yeah, I've heard all the rumors that his drinking was heavier than anyone realized, and that he liked to chase the co-eds a little too much, but I think everyone knew that about him at Texas A&M, too. The problem with Billy is that A) he was too stubborn to adapt his system to fit the personnel he had, B) he played Michael Porter 30 minutes a game when Michael Porter is completely awful instead of taking his lumps with DeAndre Liggins, C) he never signed his contract, and D) he was too prickly with the media.

Alan Cutler, the guy chasing poor Billy Clyde around in the video above, is a complete ass-hat. That goes without saying. However, Billy's treatment of Jeannine Edwards on national TV was also complete ass-hattery, and totally beyond the pale for a college basketball coach. Not just as Kentucky; wherever you coach, you need to represent your school with class and that's not exactly classy behavior.

That's kind of the whole problem with the situation. Billy's personality isn't cut out for Lexington. It's okay to be a prickly borderline alcoholic asshole when you win and stay off probation (Hi, Eddie Sutton, are you dead yet?), but when you're losing and having public pissing contests with the girl from ESPN, throwing your players under the bus like your name is Greyhound, and not actually under contract? Whole other scenario.

Like when Tubby left, I've got no hard feelings towards Billy. I hope the kids he recruited come to UK and I really hope the next coach (John Calipari?) can get the team back on the right track. This is a fan base that, admittedly, has been spoiled by the years of success we had under Rick Pitino and all our other coaches. But when ESPN calls North Carolina the greatest college basketball program EVER, I take serious offense. Kentucky has the most wins all time (or had, UNC might have caught up this year) and second most national titles of all time. When you're talking greatest college hoops programs it's Kentucky, UCLA, and then UNC.

UK is a basketball school in a basketball state. If you can't win with class, you don't belong here. Bring on Pitino Jr.

Bracketology - Day 1

March Madness is in full swing here at Sports Bastards World Headquarters, and I've watched so much basketball over the past two weeks that I'm now seeing Dick Vitale in my nightmares. While that's pretty bad, at least I'm no longer having sex dreams about Lesley Visser, so all in all I'd call it a win. Anyway, nightmare fuel aside, how was your first day?

Because of general laziness on Jaime's part (I blame her for this because she's the one who usually puts together all the SB fantasy sports competitions), we don't have a March Madness contest this year. I know our reader is very disappointed, but in lieu of gloating updates about how awesome I am and predicting the bounce patterns of a brown rubber ball versus the other writers here, I'll just share my bracket directly with you.

Here's my bracket, cleverly titled Death to the Big 10. I don't actually hate the Big 10 (well, not the basketball Big 10). I can appreciate a hoops league where a 60-54 win is a Phoenix Suns-style barn burner just as much as the next insomniac who needs something to put him to bed. When Tubby Smith is your breath of fresh air, your league is boring as hell. But this isn't about Tubby; this is about me going 13/16 on my first day and how I overthink the opening rounds of this tournament.

If I hadn't changed the ones I did, I would've gone 16/16. ESPN overrates the major conference powers, and I overrate the mid-majors. Guess I love upsets too much.

Kay Yow, 1942-2009

The world of sports has lost a true warrior today.

Kay Yow, longtime coach of the NC State women's basketball team, passed away this morning at the age of 66 after a 12-year battle with breast cancer.

Despite her illness, she earned over 700 victories, coached the U.S. Olympic women's basketball team to a gold medal in 1988; won four Atlantic Coast Conference tournament championships; earned 20 NCAA tournament bids; and reached the Final Four in 1998. In 2002, she was elected to the Naismith Hall of Fame in 2002, and in 2007, NC State dedicated "Kay Yow Court" at Reynolds Coliseum. Along the way, she fought to raise awareness of the disease and raise funds for cancer research, which earned her the inaugural Jimmy V ESPY Award for Perseverance in 2007. In all that time, cancer only kept her from coaching twice: a 16-game leave during the 2006-2007 season, and earlier this month, when after missing four games, she announced she would not be returning for the rest of the season. She was always the epitome of class and grace, and her drive and determination to succeed despite increasing odds against her make her an inspiration far beyond the world of sports.

R.I.P., Kay--and thank you.

Stand Up For Your Brother?

It is a pretty wicked elbow to the schnoz, but my question is this... in the aftermath of the Malice at the Palace, how did Jeff Xavier's brother even make it onto the court? Seriously, couldn't security have jumped on this guy the moment he got onto the court? He made it all the way across the court to the official! He could've stabbed the guy or something! Look at what happened to Monica Seles, for crying out loud!

If this was at Podunk University's 300-seat arena, I could understand such lax security, but this is in a big-time Division I basketball game between Providence and Marquette. That's the vaunted Big East conference right there! That's like if I was able to run out onto the court during the Louisville/Pittsburgh game the other night and tackle Edgar Sosa.

Throw the book at this guy. Then pick up the thrown book and continue hitting him with it until EVERYONE gets the message that going out onto the field of play is a bad idea.

Am I Funny? Does This Basketball Game Amuse You?

Is it just me, or is John Calipari slowly aging into Ray Liotta? Or maybe it's vice versa, depending on which one is older, but the resemblance is getting stronger and stronger as the years go on.

Tonight, as part of ESPN's Orgy Of College Basketball (not their title), he's coaching against his old team of UMass and he's just in full on Goodfellas mode. Or maybe I'm completely insane and just need more sleep. I haven't figured it out yet.

Do you guys see it too, or do I need to invest in some glasses and/or therapy?

Gardner-Webb 2.0

If I were some sort of hack PR rep, I'd say something like, "Late rally not enough as Cats fall to VMI 111-103." Fortunately for me, I'm not, so I can just toss out a reference to the worst Kentucky loss of my lifetime, their manhandling by Gardner-Webb last year. At least this time the Wildcats were competitive, even if they came up short.

At one point in this game, I turned it off. VMI was up by 26 at one point, draining three pointers and pressing the ball like they were a Rick Pitino-coached team from the mid-1990s. They're not, but their impression was good enough to bomb the superior, taller athletes of Coach Billy Gillispie. I guess they out Billy-balled Billy Clyde with the shooting.

I can only imagine how badly the local sports talk radio station is going to jump on Gillispie's case for this loss, but VMI was the best offensive team in the nation last year, and they remain year in and year out one of the best scoring teams in the nation. It SHOULD be easier to slow a team down than speed a team up, but Billy's Boys like to run too, and his prized recruits decided that they could run with the Keydets (Keydets? Really? That's quite possibly the lamest team name since the Gaels.) Given that Patrick Patterson got into foul trouble early (I forsee this happening A LOT this year), there wasn't much option to run the game in the half court, as Perry Stevenson is a shot-blocking broomstick and VMI shot the lights out.

Once again, the Wildcats have a team that can't really shoot the 3, and this year, at least thus far, they can't play defense either. At least DeAndre Liggins looked good, and Stevenson had a decent little double double against a team that wasn't big enough to push his skinny ass around. They just didn't look prepared, and that's Billy Clyde's fault.

I won't be calling for his head (yet), but Fire Gillispie might just join Fire Tubby and Fire Coughlin as the great rallying cries of the Sports Bastards.

Best Wishes, Billy Packer. You Don't Have To Go Home, But You Can't Stay On CBS

billy packer sucks

I hate to be that guy, but I absolutely cannot stand Billy Packer so I won't be terribly sad to see him not cluttering up my screen during March Madness. With his ACC suck-off tendencies, his dismissal of legitimate mid-major teams like George Mason, and his blatant old-fartism, his knowledge of the game was second only to his ability to piss me off and take the fun out of sports. That said, it is going to be weird watching CBS hoops without Billly Packer.

It'll be like watching an ESPN game and not having Dick Vitale screaming at me. Interesting how Billy and Dick are two of the most polarizing figures in basketball broadcasting today. One, because he plainly loves the game just a little too much to be completely sane, and the other because he used to love the game, but now seems to take extreme joy in being a stick in the mud with no sense of fun.

Now we're all safe to go back to talking about that other Packer who can't stop unretiring.

Nice image grab courtesy of Rush the Court.

One Shining Moment

Time to announce the results of the SB Yahoo Sports NCAA March Madness Tourney Pick 'Em 2008:

!. Team Jademyst (Jade): 97 pts.

2. Manhattan Project (Jaime): 81 pts.

3. Down here in da ATL bitches (Jesse): 75 pts.

4. The Kentubby Mildcats (Ron): 72 pts.

5. The Jersey Supremacy (Len): 71 pts.

Much as I would love to credit my win to superior college hoops savvy, the main reason I won is because almost everyone else picked UNC and UCLA to be in the finals. I had my train hitched to Memphis and ex-UMass coach John Calipari, who almost went the complete distance, but then remembered that Dickie V said they can't shoot free throws.

Fucking Kansas--who knew?

When it a whiteout not a whiteout?


For the record, Mr. Irrelevant, a whiteout is only a whiteout when all five white players on the floor at one time are worth a damn. Five guard-sized walk-ons and JV players is NOT and NEVER will be a whiteout. That's just clearing the bench and getting the non-scholarship players involved.

(as it turns out, it wasn't Mr. I who called it a whiteout, but I'll be damned if I can remember who. But I got the image from over there, so... fuck it. I'll fix it when I can undumb myself enough to remember where I saw it called a whiteout.)

Good Knight and Good Luck

Robert Montgomery Knight, better known as The General, has announced his abrupt retirement from Texas Tech today. Effective immediately, he's resigning his post as men's basketball coach and handing the reigns over to his son, below average point guard Pat Knight. Love him or hate him, it's the end of an era.

There are four things you can say about Coach Knight: he won basketball games (900+ wins), he made the most of the players he had (3 NCAA championships, an NIT championship, an Olympic gold medal, and he even took Texas Tech to the NCAA Sweet Sixteen in 2004-05), he hated dealing with the media, and he ran the cleanest programs in NCAA Division I athletics, bar none. He was also a hell of a coach, as evidenced by him winning the very first Naismith Men's College Coach of the Year Award in 1987.

At every stop along the way, Bobby Knight made chicken salad out of chicken shit. If his players didn't hustle, he tore them up. If they didn't crack their books, he tore them up. If they were boys when they stepped foot on Bob Knight's basketball cour, he turned them into men by any means necessary, and those that could weather the brunt of Knight turned out better for it. They might have hated him between the ages of 18 and 22, but afterwards they usually grew to respect, even love, their coach, and it was obvious that he cared for each and every one of them. He did things his way, and if you don't like it, I have no doubt the man would tell you to your face to kiss his ass.

The last of his kind, Coach Knight will definitely be missed. After all, college basketball has always needed a villain, and Bob Knight has had absoultely no problems being the object of hate and controversy. College basketball is a poorer place without him.

Here's a great quote about the man from his Wikipedia entry: When the three-point line was instituted in 1986-87, Knight indicated "There are only three players in the Big Ten who can hit it, and I have two of them." (This may have been part of Knight's well-known "mind-games" on opposing teams and players. He is later reported to have chortled that for the rest of the season every guard in the Big Ten tried to prove he was the third, resulting in a much higher missed shot percentage for those teams.)

Enjoy your fishing and hunting trips, Coach. You've earned more than your fair share of relaxation in retirement.

Ten Fun Facts: UConn's Hasheem Thabeet

I watched a University of Louisville basketball game last night for one reason and one reason only. That reason is a 7’3 center from Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania named Hasheem Thabeet. Now, he’s only played organized basketball for a few years, but already he’s making a name for himself with his shot-blocking skills, quick feet, and extreme tallness,

To help you, the viewer, know what you’re talking about when the subject of Hasheem Thabeet comes up, I’ve compiled 10 interesting factoids that you can bust out at your next pick-up game, cocktail party, or court hearing. Enjoy, won't you?

“Hasheem Thabeet” is Tanzanian for “Dikembe Mutombo.”

Hasheem Thabeet is the current Prime Minister of Monster Island and routinely meets with Godzilla, King Kong, and King Gidorah for poker nights at Mothra’s house.

Hasheem Thabeet’s preternatural shot-blocking skills come not from years of basketball training, but from years of batting aside low-hanging lights, ceiling fans, Piper Cubs, and the sun.

Hasheem is expected to train with NBA great Shawn Bradley in order how to look properly ashamed when dunked on by people like Nate Robinson. The key to looking good on a poster is to look as awkward and confused as possible as to why Allen Iverson’s testicles are draped along your shoulders.

Hasheem Thabeet can eat his own weight in Count Chocula cereal. Every morning he consumes 125lbs of sugary goodness.

It takes an army of Asian children sewing around the clock for four days to make just one of Hasheem Thabeet’s specialized Nikes. They are specialized not because they’re so large, but because each one is constructed out of live spotted owls.

Hasheem Thabeet can dunk without leaving his feet. From the foul line. (warning: may be actually true).

In his family, Hasheem is widely mocked as being “the short one.” His father currently works as the Space Needle, and his mother fills in for the Statue of Liberty on weekends.

Once in a pick-up game, Hasheem Thabeet blocked one of God’s jump shots. The resulting collision between the immovable object and irresistible force caused the Big Bang that lead to the creation of the universe. The basketball became the planet we know today as “Jupiter.”

Hasheem was slated to star in a remake of Eddie Murphy’s classic comedy, “Coming to America.” The resulting film was renamed “Cloverfield” after Hasheem accidentally destroyed Manhattan.

Hi, I'm Billy Donovan, I'll be your coach...Well see ya I'm out

Billy Donovan is the ‘Jay Mariotti of the Month’ for May and June. As you may or may not have heard, Billy Donovan became the coach of the Magic officially last week, leaving his post at Florida where he won back to back national championships. Now he wants to go back to Florida. This comes after him being intrigued by the NBA for several years, and being giggity-giggity-giggity during the introduction conference on Friday.

In related news, Ron hopes that all of the Florida recruits end up going to Kentucky. Wouldn’t you love to be one of them right now? You think you are about to get back to back guy, you sob quietly, and now you are scratching your head while trying to avoid a Miami player hitting you with their helmet during a drive by.

In conclusion, this is my interpretation of the Billy Donovan situation: He got real fucking tanked ever since winning back to back titles, turned down Kentucky because the drive was too long and he was a flight risk for that long in the air, but when he saw the Magic he thought that bitch looked attractive. He plowed it, woke up on Sunday and saw that she was UUUUUUUUUUUUGLY, so he bailed back to his wife.

I will now leave and go back to the Irrelevance Apartment complex. If OD pelts another tomato at my window I’m going to get my shotgun, or call Vincent Vega, whichever is cheaper in the long run.