Submitted by Jim Hurley on Monday, February 24, 2014 at 9:03 AM
THE COLLEGE BASKETBALL REPORT: NOW THAT ‘CUSE COACH BOEHEIM HAS “CALMED DOWN” AND “CHILLED OUT” IT’S TIME TO SEE IF THE ORANGE CAN PUT AN END TO ITS LITTLE MINI-SLIDE …
PLUS WE SALUTE SUNDAY’S BIG WINNERS INCLUDING MIGHTY MICHIGAN AND RISING STAR SMU … AND WE PREVIEW TUESDAY’S TOP TILT AS NEW #1 FLORIDA HEADS TO VANDY
By Jim Hurley
Hey, you can count us among the many hoop fans ‘round America that’s simply sick-and-tired of all the analyses and examinations regarding the famed “block vs. charge” call that’s been so much at the heart of not only did 2013-14 College Basketball Season but was “the story” in last Saturday’s epic battle between Syracuse at Duke:
Obviously, you’ve all by now either watched the game in full or at least viewed the key highlights and – while maybe it never does get old watching Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim go bananas at the game officials for the charge call against Orange superstar C.J. Fair with 10.4 seconds left – here’s our little take on the subject
College b-ball coaches have been teaching their players to slide their feet here or their bodies there in order to draw charge calls and we’ve always thought that was a pretty chintzy way to get an edge and so it’s tough to be overly sympathetic here to Boeheim’s guys who have taken plenty of phony charges and flopped often in order to gain a favorable whistle and we will go on record to state that under-siege referee Tony Greene reacted decisively in calling Fair for the charging foul and even slow-motion replays couldn’t convince you that he made a mistake.
No doubt the real key here was the timing – we actually liked Fair’s post-game comments that stated, “I didn’t think there was that much contact (either way).”
Also, if you read between the proverbial lines with Fair’s other comments they seem to suggest that Boeheim should have cooled his heels – after all, the result of the foul was that Duke had the ball up two points with 10.4 seconds left but once Boeheim went bonkers it wound up being two technical fouls called on the Hall of Fame head coach and Duke’s Quinn Cook drained three of the four foul shots and so the game was history with the Blue Devils snagging the eventual 66-60 win as 6-point home betting favorites.
Too bad such a terrific game was marred by all the late-game shenanigans but – again – we say don’t blame the ref who appeared to make the proper call even though we heard TV know-it-alls such as CBS’ Seth Davis and ESPN game analyst Dino Gaudio weigh in on Sunday afternoon and claim they believe the wrong call was made.
What was that someone once said about not being able to please everyone all of the time?
One team that’s not very pleased these days – of course – is Syracuse (25-2, 12-2 in the Atlantic Coast Conference) and so now on this final Monday in February here’s Boeheim’s bunch looking to apply the brakes on a two-game losing skid that started with last Wednesday’s sloppy 62-59 overtime home loss against 13 ½-point underdog Boston College.
The challenge this evening comes for the ‘Cuse in College Park where Maryland (15-12, 7-7 ACC) hopes to keep the Orange attack in check – or didn’t you notice amidst all the hub-bub that Duke held Syracuse to just 24-of-62 shooting from the floor for a 38.7 accuracy rate and no question that the likes of guard Trevor Cooney (4 points on 1-of-5 FG shooting) and frosh G Tyler Ennis (2-of-13 FG shooting for 9 points while playing all 40 minutes) must get their collective acts in gear here or this mini-losing streak could leak into March – the Orange don’t play again after this tilt versus the Terrapins until Saturday’s big game at Virginia, so things could be getting a little sticky for the once-upon-a-time No. 1 team in the land.
So, it’s sliding Syracuse at gotta-have-it Maryland on this Monday night at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN and the nightcap on the “mother ship” is Oklahoma (20-7, 9-5 in the Big 12) at Kansas (21-6, 12-2 Big 12) and remember the Jayhawks won “Round I” with a 90-83 triumph in Norman back in early January when G Wayne Selden, Jr. pumped in 24 points and F Perry Ellis chipped in 22 points and 11 rebounds.
The Boomer Sooners have been coming on – but when is it gonna happen that someone stands up to Kansas after all these years in Big 12 play?Just wonderin’!
Now hear this …
Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers keep rockin’-n-rollin’ through this College Basketball and NBA season with loads of winners right here online at www.vegassportsmasters.com or at our exclusive toll-free telephone # of 1-888-777-4155 – so go ahead and join the fun and profits today with all the hardwood action and remember the conference tournaments or so-called mini-tournies heat up next week with day-time action all throughout the month of March! We will keep you posted (of course).
In other College Basketball News & Notes …
Hey, the Syracuse-Duke tete-a-tete wasn’t the only newsmaker game on the hardwood this past weekend in the world of college hoops – how about we salute two of Sunday’s biggest winners here in this Jim Sez column space as Michigan and SMU snared key conference wins:
MICHIGAN 79, MICHIGAN STATE 70 – Getting the feeling that “maize rage” as in this Michigan Wolverines club just may be hitting its proverbial stride as we close out the month of February.
In Sunday’s comeback win – note the Spartans sported a 36-34 halftime lead that indeed should have been a lot larger – John Beilein’s Wolverines surged out in front to stay thanks to a 13-0 second-half surge and hope you’re not sleeping on either Nik Stauskas or fellow G Caris LeVert as this energetic duo combined for 48 points on a lusty shooting line of 16-of-28 from the floor plus LeVert’s active hands really bothered State all game long and Staukas’ back-breaking perimeter shots went through the nets even though M-State often had a hand or two in his grill.
Gotta say that Michigan (19-7, 11-3) could be forgiven if thinking ahead to a #1 or #2 seed in next month’s NCAA Tournament – if the maize-and-blue guys stay the course and win the Big 10 regular-season title and then somehow win the Big 10 Tournament title in Indianapolis then you could make a major case for Beilein’s bunch to have one of those major elite seedings … agree?
SMU 64, CONNECTICUT 55 – Now here’s something that you probably thought four or five years ago you would never hear again … watch out for a Larry Brown-coached team in this year’s “Big Dance”.
Brown’s magical touch has been evident whether we’re talking NBA or college round-ball but how about the fact that his SMU team just completed a season sweep over the Connecticut Huskies in American Athletic Conference action and this latest “W” was pretty much tucked away midway through the second half when the Mustangs extended a 27-25 halftime lead as the likes of Nick Russell and Nic Moore – hardly household names, we know – scored 15 points apiece and the Huskies wound up shooting a dismal 16-of-54 from the field for less than 30 percent.
SMU – in case you didn’t know – is “for real” with other impressive wins this year against Memphis and Cincinnati and so soon enough the Ponies will be headed to its first NCAA Tournament berth since 1993.
P.S., Brown was coaching the NBA’s Los Angeles Clippers back in the spring of 1993 (his only year with that team).
Think anyone really wants to deal with a Larry Brown-coached team come Round I of this year’s tourney?
If you wish to peek ahead (as we always love to do at this delicious time of the year) then we could conservatively call SMU a team right in the mix in one of those famed #8 vs. #9 games … maybe the NCAA Tournament Committee folks will have a sense of humor about things and put Brown in the same bracket with UCLA or maybe Kansas. Now, that would be fun!
Hey, about a Round of 64 game pitting SMU against Oklahoma so Brown could coach against the school he beat for that Kansas crown back in 1988 – the possibilities here are truly endless!
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Here’s what we’ll be watching in NCAA Basketball action on Tuesday night …
FLORIDA (25-2, 14-0 SEC) at VANDERBILT (15-11, 7-7 SEC) – 7 p.m. ET, ESPN
Just for the record, the one-and-only college team from a so-called power conference that’s still without a league loss is Florida.
Yes, the mighty Gators banged out a 75-71 non-cover win at 7-point underdog Ole Miss this past Saturday afternoon as they finally got a grip on Rebels’ scoring wacko Marshall Henderson who poured in 22 points in the first half and scored zippo after the break.
Now, Florida takes its ultra-impressive 19-game winning streak into Music City here for this “Super Tuesday” tilt and head coach Billy Donovan’s again looking for a spirited defensive effort (note Ole Miss wound up attempting 25 triples and made 8 of them) in a fool’s gold type of approach – now let’s see if Vandy expends more energy trying to get some in-the-paint point here against the country’s eighth-ranked defense (allowing just 58.7 ppg).
Florida G Scottie Wilbekin (team-high 19 points against Ole Miss) continues to be a true leader for the Gators who never seem to sag for too long in a ball game – Vandy’s only real shot here is getting Dai-Jon Parker “off” as he had a career-high 21 points in Saturday’s 67-59 win at 4 ½-point fav Auburn – and hope that the aforementioned Wilbekin slows down some while shadowing the Vandy guards here.
NOTE: Catch our Jim Sez Mid-Week Update in the next column and be reminded that we’ll have more NFL Draft coverage too later this week.