Bobby Hurley…a Coaching Legend

Twenty six state championships; multiple national championships; over 1,000 career
victories; one of three high school coaches in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. All
of these incredible accomplishments pale in comparison to the numerous lives (Jersey City, N.J.) St. Anthony’s head basketball coach, Bobby Hurley, has changed.

Disregard the fact that the sports world is marred by scandal and misdeed. It is
inevitable that young children, especially athletes, will look to sports to find their role
models. The pool of eligible role models within sports seems to be shrinking as each day
goes by. I was lucky enough to sit down and talk to Coach Hurley, a role model on and
off the court. Read More »

Championship Week Notebook, Friday, March 9th

CHAMPIONSHIP WEEK NOTEBOOK

107 Teams remain. They break down as follows. BYU is now listed as under consideration, even though they are in our mock field as an at-large. I have a feeling that after today, they’re coming out of our field and being placed back under consideration.

-ACC – 8 quarterfinalists
-America East – 2 – Vermont @ Stony Brook
-Atlantic Ten – 8 quarterfinalists
-Atlantic Sun – Belmont (champ)
-Big Twelve – 6 – Texas (semis, under consideration), Kansas (at-large), Missouri (at-large), Baylor (at-large), Kansas State (at-large), Iowa State (at large)
-Big East – 10 – (4 semi teams), Marquette (at-large), Georgetown (at-large), UConn (at-large), West Virginia (at-large), South Florida (under consideration), Seton Hall (under consideration)
-Big Sky – Montana (champ)
-Big South – UNC Asheville (champ)
-Big Ten – 9 – (8 quarterfinalists), Northwestern (under consideration)
-Big West – 4
-Colonial – 2 – VCU (champ), Drexel (under consideration)
-Conference USA – 4 semifinalists
-Horizon – Detroit (champ)
-Ivy – Harvard (champ)
-Metro Atlantic – 2 – Loyola MD (champ), Iona (under consideration)
-MAC – 4 – semifinalists
-MEAC – 4 semifinalists
-Missouri Valley – 2 – Creighton (champ), Wichita State (under consideration)
-Mountain West – 4 semifinalists
-NEC – Long Island (champ)
-OVC – Murray State (champ)
-Pac Twelve – 6 – 4 semifinalists, Washington (under consideration), Oregon (under consideration)
-Patriot – Lehigh (champ)
-SEC – 9 – 8 quarterfinalists, Mississippi State (under consideration)
-SoCon – Davidson (champ)
-Southland – 2 – Lamar v McNeese State
-Summit – 2 – South Dakota State (champ), Oral Roberts (under consideration)
-Sun Belt – Western Kentucky (champ)
-SWAC – 4 semifinalists
-WAC – 4 semifinalists
-WCC – 3 – Saint Mary’s (champ), Gonzaga (at-large), BYU (under consideration)

-Some very exciting games yesterday.

-The two afternoon games in Conference USA went into overtime. Southern Miss would have really hurt their chances (which had been slipping away as it was) had they not pulled out the quarterfinal win against East Carolina, and it took overtime to do it. The other game between Marshall and Tulsa, who were also playing for their tournament lives, went into three overtimes before Marshall finally pulled off a 105-100 thriller. Memphis and UCF won the night session games easily, and will face each other today.

-The Big East saw a game come down to the wire in UConn v Syracuse, a double overtime game between Cincinnati and Georgetown, and another overtime game between South Florida and Notre Dame. Had South Florida managed to beat the Irish, I think they’d be inside the bubble. It is still likely the will make the field (and definite that they will make our mock field), but htey will really be sweating now.

UConn could have gotten very far inside the bubble with a win against Syracuse, but they seem reasonably safe as it is.

Louisville and Notre Dame are both safely in the field, and are playing each other in a resume game later today.

-All four Pac Twelve quarterfinal games were exciting. Oregon State knocked off top seeded Washington in a one point game. Washington’s profile is very weak, but the real selection committee is likely to take them anyway simply because it is very rare that an outright first place finisher in a top ten conference is left out of the field. As for Oregon State, they are in the semis for the first time ever and looking to make the NCAAs for the first time since 1990. They’ll face Arizona tonight, and Cal will face off against Colorado.

-Xavier, Dayton and Saint Louis are among the teams under consideration that are playing for their tournament lives today in the Atlantic Ten. The loser of Dayton v Xavier is likely out. The only team that’s a first ballot team in this conference is Temple. I think Saint Louis is reasonably safe, but they’ll be sweating a little bit if they lose to La Salle in the quarters.

-Mississippi State lost in the opening round of the SEC Tournament to Georgia. Mississippi State needed good things to happen. That was a bad thing.

-Other than that, pretty much chalk in the Big Ten and ACC opening rounds. Same with the Big Twelve quarters, other than Texas getting a massive win against Iowa State. The Longhorn profile is looking much better now, and I think a win tonight against Missouri puts them in for sure.

-Top seeded Texas Arlington just had one Southland Conference loss all year. Unfortunately, it was in the Southland semis, and the are most likely out.

-Long Beach State is a team that is causing much disagreement, but they had no trouble in the quarters. If they can win the Big West Championship, it saves the committee a big headache.

-Louisville did something that they hadn’t done since February in their game against Marquette, and that’s shoot the ball well. When I say since February, I mean February of 2011.

Enjoy the games!!!!

Championship Week Notebook: Thursday, March 8th

CHAMPIONSHIP WEEK NOTEBOOK

-148 teams remain. Here is the breakdown

-ACC – all 12
-America East – 2 – Stony Brook v Vermont
-Atlantic Ten – 8
-Atlantic Sun – Belmont (champ)
-Big Twelve – 8
-Big East – 10 – 8 remain in conf. tourney, West Virginia (at-large), Seton Hall (under consideration)
-Big South – UNC Asheville (champ)
-Big Ten – all 12
-Big West – 8
-Colonial – 3 – VCU (champ), Drexel (under consideration), George Mason (under consideration)
-Conference USA – 8
-Horizon – Detroit (champ)
-Ivy – Harvard (champ)
-MAAC – 2 – Loyola MD (champ), Iona (under consideration)
-MAC – 6
-MEAC – 6
-Missouri Valley – Creighton (champ), Wichita State (at-large)
-Mountain West – 8
-NEC – Long Island (champ)
-OVC – Murray State (champ)
-Pac Twelve – 8
-Patriot – 2 – Lehigh (champ), Bucknell (under consideration)
-SEC – all 12
-SoCon – Davidson (champ)
-Southland – 4
-Summit – 2 – South Dakota State (champ), Oral Roberts (under consideration)
-Sun Belt – Western Kentucky (champ)
-SWAC – 6
-WAC – 8
-WCC – 3 – Saint Mary’s (champ), Gonzaga (at-large), BYU (at large)

-The opening rounds of the Pac Twelve, Big Twelve and Conference USA Tournaments got underway yesterday, and although all three leagues feature teams that will be under consideration (or flat out in) without the automatic bid, none played yesterday other than Marshall, who beat SMU easily in the CUSA opening round. Dozens of people attended all three tournaments to witness the action.

-In the Pac Twelve, we saw a sight that would have seemed impossible just a few years ago. UCLA and USC played each other, in the Pac Twelve Tournament, in Los Angeles, and there were so few people there it looked as though the forgot to unlock the doors. I’m not an NBA fan, but I imagine it looked the way most Clipper games used to look.

-Long Island had little trouble with Robert Morris as they won their second straight NEC championship and are headed back to the dance.

-Bucknell trailed the whole game against Lehigh in the Patriot League championship, but it was close the entire way. Down seven with a minute to go, Bucknell managed to score six points in four seconds and appeared to make winning their destiny. They couldn’t quite get over the hump as Lehigh held on. Bucknell is still on the board (as noted above), but I have a feeling they’ll be coming off as soon as our committee meets and votes again.

-Montana pulled away from Weber State about midway through the Big Sky Championship, and the Grizz are back in the dance. I don’t know how dangerous they can be, but they do have a win over Long Beach, so their first round opponent won’t want to sleep on them. .

-Today is the day that all tournaments (well, the ones that aren’t over yet) are underway. There are hugely high stakes games in the Big West, Mountain West, WAC, Pac Twelve, Big Twelve, Big Ten, ACC, SEC (sort of), Conference USA, Big East, and a few others that I’m sure I’m missing that involve teams that are under consideration.

It’s here everyone. It’s the Thursday of Championship Week!!!! Basketball fans circle the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Basketball JUNKIES circle the Thursday of Championship Week.

Enjoy the games!!

Championship Week Notebook, Wednesday, March 7th

CHAMPIONSHIP WEEK NOTEBOOK

175 Teams remain. It breaks down as follows –

-ACC – all 12
-America East – Stony Brook v Vermont
-Atlantic Ten – 8
-Atlantic Sun – Belmont (champ)
-Big Twelve – All 10 (sounds funny)
-Big Ten – All 12 (sounds funny)
-Big East – 12
-Big Sky – Montana v Weber State
-Big South – UNC Asheville (champ)
-Big West – 8
-Colonial – 3 – VCU (champ), Drexel and George Mason (under consideration)
-Conference USA – all 12
-Horizon – Detroit (champ)
-Ivy – Harvard (champ)
-MAAC – 2 – Loyola MD (champ), Iona (under consideration)
-MAC – 8
-MEAC – 8
-Missouri Valley – 2 – Creighton (champ), Wichita State (at-large)
-Mountain West – all 8
-Northeast – 2 – LIU Brooklyn v Robert Morris
-Ohio Valley – Murray State (champ)
-Pac Twelve – all 12
-Patriot – 2 – Bucknell v Lehigh
-SEC – all 12
-SoCon – Davidson (champ)
-Southland – 8
-Summit – 2 – South Dakota State (champ), Oral Roberts (under consideration)
-Sun Belt – Western Kentucky (champ)
-SWAC – 10
-WAC – 8
-West Coast – 3 – Saint Mary’s (champ), Gonzaga (at-large), BYU (under consideration)

When it gets down to about 100 or so, I’ll begin including all remaining teams on my S curve, but there really isn’t any point until then.

-I was kidding yesterday when I said that Tuesday’s games had a lot to live up to after Monday’s games, but it was pretty close.

-There have been teams that were less accomplished than this year’s Western Kentucky team that made the NCAA Tournament. Every now and then there was a midlevel or low level SWAC or MEAC team that won the conference tournament, and a few years ago Oakland finished 7th and won what was then the Mid-Continent tournament. There haven’t been many, though. Nevertheless, whether they’re the most deserving team or not, they are the Sun Belt Champions. It’s up to each individual conference to decide how to determine their champion. the Sun Belt has a tournamnet on a neutral floor, and WKU won it. They’re dancing all the way to Dayton, where they will likely be joined by the MEAC, SWAC and America East champions.

The game itself was exciting. WKU played really hard, as did North Texas, and despite some boneheaded plays and fouls in the final minute, the Toppers held on to win.

-Western Illinois played smothering defense all throughout the Summit League tournament, and almost won it. It took some come-from-behind and overtime heroics by South Dakota State, who finished in second place and beat Western Illinois twice during the regular season. It is the first ever NCAA Tournament for the Jackrabbits.

-Had Detroit played the way they did yesterday all season long, the Horizon League championship game would have been on their floor. For that matter, they not have even needed the automatic bid. I mean…in that second half….WOW!!! What a performance. Valpo had a good year, but really had no answer. This will sound insulting, but I really don’t mean for it to. Valpo didn’t play badly. They just weren’t good enough.

-Two very exciting semifinals in the Big Sky as it looked like both Weber State and Montana were about to go down. Both trailed for a good portion of the game, but came back to get control and win in the end. The two will face each other tonight for the Big Sky Championship tonight with the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament on the line.

-The Patriot League Champion will also punch their ticket tonight as Bucknell hosts Lehigh. Both teams won on each other’s home court during the regular season, and both games were close, so hopefully we’ll get another exciting game in the winner-take-all rubber match.

-I’m not neglecting the Big East to make any sort of political statement. It’s just as exciting as the other games were, I saw about five minutes of the Big East Tournament yesterday. The second round is today, and multiple teams under consideration are playing.

-CUSA gets underway today, but none of the opening round teams are under consideration. It should be a good tournament once it gets down to the quarterfinals, though.

-Dayton and Saint Joseph’s one their Atlantic Ten opening round games yesterday without too much trouble. The A10 is down to the quarters now, and should be very exciting from here on out. Dayton will face Xavier in a rivarly match-up that looks to feature two teams that are on the bubble, but on the wrong side of it. Saint Joseph’s is on the bubble as well, and can’t afford a loss in the quarters.

-It seems like I’m forgetting something. What could I be forgetting??…..Oh yeah. The Pac Twelve opening round is tonight. In all seriousness, I think this will be an exciting tournament given the parity and rivalry of the league. The teams have weak profiles, but it should provide us with some excitement. The weaker profiles mean more is on the line in the conference tournament.

-The Southland, SWAC and MEAC quarterfinals also get underway today.

Last and, well, maybe it is least… The Big Twelve opening round is today. We’re all thinking it. We want to see Kansas and Mizzou in the championship with bragging rights for all eternity on the line. A championship game such as that will garner ever slightly more interest than the opening round games today.

Enjoy the games!!!

Championship Week Notebook (Tuesday, March 6th)

CHAMPIONSHIP WEEK NOTEBOOK

197 Teams remain….I think. That includes BYU, Gonzaga, Oral Roberts, Wichita State, Iona, Dexel, and George Mason who all lost in their conference tournaments, but remain on the board. It also includes Penn, who can tie Harvard for first place in the Ivy League tonight.

-For those of you who missed the action last night, I’ve got two words for you. I’m sorry.

I’ll start with this….

-Everyone loves a good upset. To me, though, a good upset is when a good team that isn’t getting much credit because of conference affiliation, or lack of history, or whatever, gets a chance to prove themselves, and does it. The kind of upsets I don’t necessarily like are what we’ve seen in some of these conference tournaments. Good teams like Oral Roberts, Iona, Middle Tennessee, and now Denver have a bad game, and/or run into a lesser deserving team that has a good game, and suddenly that wipes out the entire season. This makes for less deserving teams in the NCAA Tournament, and consequently less intriguing match-ups.

-Oral Roberts remains under consideration, but one has to think they are a long shot after their semifinal loss to Western Illinois in the Summit Tournament. ORU did not play with energy out of the gate, but appeared to have the game in control in the second half when they turned a six point deficit into a nine point lead. However, in the final four minutes of play, ORU had one bad possession after another, and didn’t take a single good shot. All they had to do was convert one. This enabled Western Illinois to get the lead, and even when ORU had a chance to win at the end, they still failed to get off a good shot. Western Illinois advances to the championship game to face South Dakota State, who won their semifinal game easily. South Dakota State may not be as dangerous as Oral Roberts, but they are still capable of making someone sweat in the round of 64.

-The Sun Belt was also exciting. Western Kentucky has risen from the dead and had themselves quite a week. They ended the regular season with a win over rival Middle Tennessee, and have since knocked off Florida International, UALR and now Denver to reach the conference championship game. It’s their fifth straight win, and a classic case of a team having a bad year, but getting red hot down the stretch. They will face North Texas tonight, who also failed to finish the regular season with a div1 winning record, but has strung together back-to-back close wins in the conference tournament. The winner will be on their way to Dayton, and as much as I hate the opening round, it seems appropriate for the winner of this game.

-Davidson is by far the most deserving and most dangerous team out of the SoCon. They wrapped up the automatic bid, but it wasn’t easy. Western Carolina had a blah season, but looked like worldbeaters in this game against Davidson. Every time you thought they were dead, they would get up off the mat, hit a big shot, and be back in the game. It went into double overtime, and Western Carolina had chances to pull off the upset. As much as you hate to see a valiant effort go unrewarded, you do like to see a team like Davidson rewarded for playing well all season long. This is a team that already has a win against Kansas, and will not be an easy match-up in the round of 64.

-While that was going on, Saint Mary’s and Gonzaga were also playing in a thriller. Both teams appeared to be safely in the field, so the game had more to do with the rivalry and with the conference championship than anything else. SMC appeared to have the game wrapped up in regulation, but Gonzaga came back to force overtime. In the end, SMC prevailed, and for the first time finished in first place and won the conference tournament. One has to think they’ll be ahead of Gonzaga on the S curve.

-Earlier in the evening, VCU had an unbelievable first half, and Drexel countered with an unbelievable second half, but just couldn’t get over the hump. VCU wrapped up the Colonial Championship and is going back to the NCAA Tournament. Unlike last year, they will not have to play in the opening round. Drexel is a good team, and I think they belong in, but the real committee doesn’t care what I think. I’m lucky if our mock committee cares what I think. They’re squarely on the bubble and at the mercy of the committee. A lack of quality wins will work against them.

-Loyola MD is dancing for the first time since 1994 with their win over Fairfield in the MAAC Championship. Iona is still on the bubble, but one has to think their chances are far from good.

-Valparaiso is all sold out for the Horizon League Championship tonight. It would be their first conference championship, and first trip back to the dance since joining the league. They beat Butler handily over the weekend, and one would think they would be favored to beat Detroit tonight.

-The Big Sky semis are also tonight, and the stage is set for the top two seeds, Weber State and Montana to meet for the championship if both can win tonight. Montana is hosting, and they have just two home losses all year ,neither of which were conference games. That includes a rather decisive win over Weber State to end the regular season.

-Big finish to the Ivy Leage as Penn faces Princeton. If Penn wins, they’ll face Harvard on Saturday in a one game, winner take all playoff. A Penn loss will give Harvard the automatic bid due to an outright first place finish.

-The Big East Opening round gets underway today, and it involves Seton Hall and UConn, who are under consideration. They will be considered more favorably if they avoid a loss today.

-The Atlantic Ten opening round tips off at campus sites tonight. Dayton is hosting George Washington, and Saint Joseph’s is hosting Charlotte. Both are under consideration, and Saint Joe’s is actually my pick to win the tournament, but both will likely be out of the field if they can’t manage wins tonight.

-The Road to Dayton that is the MEAC Tournament also tips off today as their opening round gets underway.

Enjoy the games!!!

Championship Week Notebook, Monday, March 5th

CHAMPIONSHIP WEEK NOTEBOOK

-205 Teams Remain. That includes Wichita State, BYU, Iona and George Mason, who were eliminated from their conference tournaments, but still on the board, and Penn, who can still mathematically win the Ivy League. Technically, Middle Tennessee and Utah Valley are still on the real committee’s board, but they have been removed from this countdown since they are no longer on the board of the mock committee.

-Some heartbreak where the most deserving teams in a conference who hadn’t done quite enough for an at-large lost in their conference tournaments. Middle Tennessee had a great season, but ended it with a horrible Sun Belt Tournament game against Arkansas State. Middle missed their last five freethrows in their 64-61 loss. An at-large bid is not very likely given their complete lack of quality wins.

-Iona’s chances for an at-large are slightly better, but still not very good. They went down in the semis of the MAAC to Fairfield, after a first place finish during the regular season.

-It’s been all chalk in the Colonial, as the top two teams have advanced to hte championship game. Drexel will face VCU tonight. Both teams are on the bubble, but neither is a lock. The winner goes automatically, but the loser will get a serious look. Drexel won the league outright, but VCU appears to have the slightly better profile. We shall see.

-Exciting games in the America East semis and Summit Quarters. All games were close, and fortunately all the top seeds are still alive. Stony Brook will host Vermont on Saturday for the America East Championship, with the winner likely headed to the opening round. Oral Roberts and South Dakota State, the two best teams in the Summit, will play in the semis tonight.

-The Sun Belt is the opposite of chalk. The top two seeds are out, and one would think Denver, who had a great start to the season, but faded down the stretch, would have a clear shot at winning it. The semis are tonight.

-The SoCon championship is also tonight. Davidson is the best team, and hasn’t been challenged in their first two conference tourney games. If they can get past Western Carolina, they could be a dangerous first round matchup for whoever they face in the NCAAs.

-Gonzaga faces Saint Mary’s in the WCC Championship game. Bragging rights and seeding are all that’s at stake. Both teams are safely inside the bubble.