In case you were busy soothing your aching joints with an old-fashioned Epsom salt soak, here's what you missed in sports last weekend.
The NCAA tournament Sweet 16 is set, and the biggest story thus far has been the run of Florida Gulf Coast University, who find themselves among college basketball's elite after an 81-71 win over San Diego State. Based on all my knowledge of the school from before the tournament started, "FGCU," which has probably been around for over a decade, has amassed a number of victories on their way to becoming a true school where NCAA basketball is played. The team features players, of which five play on the court at the same time, barring truly unusual circumstances, who shoot basketballs toward baskets, which is a thing those players do to get basketball points. They employ strategies regarding where they should run so that they can shoot basketballs from preferable positions, implemented by a coach with a unique backstory that I remember hearing about once but mostly forget. He might have been a baron of some sort? So mark it down in your personalized line drawing of college names: Florida Gulf Coast University is a school from Florida, probably located along the gulf coast, that plays basketball and is eligible for advancement in the NCAA basketball tournament. Up next for Florida Gulf Coast University is the University of Florida, a school that is also run by the state of Florida. Expect basketball shots, two strategic men telling basketball players what to do, and collusion.
Louisville, the tournament's no. 1 seed, advanced to the Round of 16 after dismantling Colorado State, 82-56, at the University of Kentucky's home court, Rupp Arena. Louisville head coach Rick Pitino said after the game, "Man, it's nice to be back at the old stomping ground, playing out of the home locker room. Hey, has anyone heard how the Wildcats are doing? No? Yeah, no, me neither. That's really unusual. But hey, tell John, old friend of mine, 'Thanks for the hospitality.' Also, we used all of the condiments that were in the fridge here. Hope that's not a problem."
I'm having a hard time believing it's already February, gang. I know it's a bad weekend to complain, since the football fans of the world are just hours from hearing the last Super Bowl whistle and confronting the awful offseason, but I can feel March approaching, and it's happening too fast. Once it arrives, we'll all be too deep in the Madness to get nostalgic or fixate on the end, but the start of February is a dirty little reminder by whoever invented the calendar (Ben Franklin, probably) that college basketball is streaking past like UCLA on the break, even while winter plods on like the UVA offense. It's also a reminder that we've already failed to uphold our New Year's resolutions, and our lives are spiraling into failure and poverty. But as long as there's a game on, I can live with that.
Luckily, the shortest and supposedly most depressing month of the year is stocked with college basketball, and the first weekend kicks off with what might be the best regular season game of the season. Let's count it down.
In case you were out living a life of leisure, here's what you missed in sports on Thursday.
Mason Plumlee had 21 points and 15 boards to lead no. 1 Duke to a 76-54 win over Elon on the same day that the nation's no. 2 high school recruit, Jabari Parker, committed to the Blue Devils. Parker is a Mormon, and sources report that his choice has given Mitt Romney a sliver of hope that someone else might take over the "Mormon Devil" nickname. Unfortunately, because Parker is a 6-foot-8 post player, it has already been confirmed that his nickname will be "The Hook of Mormon."
In case you were out living a life of leisure, here's what you missed in sports on Monday.
Cam Newton threw for 302 yards and accounted for four touchdowns as the Panthers topped the Eagles 30-22 in Monday Night Football. After the game, fired Auburn coach Gene Chizik greeted Newton in the parking lot with a sarcastic slow clap. "Well, look at Mr. BigShot," he said with a sneer, before toppling to the ground and bruising his ribs on an empty vodka bottle.
Local radio stations are playing Christmas music, the Chiefs are mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, and Dick Vitale went into an on-air rant that ended with him talking about Barbra Streisand’s high school classmates. This can only mean one thing: College basketball is officially back!
In case you missed the opening weekend of the greatest sport in the world, and even if you didn’t, here were the three takeaways that stood out to me.
In case you were out living a life of leisure, here's what you missed in sports over the weekend.
The L.A. Lakers hired former Phoenix Suns and New York Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni to replace Mike Brown. In his basement, Dwight Howard took down the complex pyramid of surveillance photos and connection lines and case notes from his bulletin board, stored them in a cardboard box marked "The Brown Investigation," and replaced them with a sheet of paper on which he'd written a single word: "D'Antoni?"
Yesterday we looked at the Third Team and the All-Stoppers squad, and now it's time for the best of the best. Tomorrow is opening day in college hoops, and I'll be previewing the top 10 games. For now, here are my 10 top players for 2012-13. All stats come from ESPN and Ken Pomeroy.
All this week, we'll be running college basketball team previews for the 20 (or so) Most Interesting Teams, starting today with the Dangerous Outsiders and working our way up to the Big Guns.
Kurosawa's film Yojimbo begins with a nameless samurai entering a town ravaged by two rival gangs. Both sides try to hire the strange warrior after he slaughters three men without breaking a sweat, but instead of committing his loyalty to either one, he decides to go rogue and take them both down. Murder and intrigue ensue, and by the end of the movie, only the samurai remains.* When the last gangster falls, the Man With No Name leaves town, never to be seen again. Incidentally, Sergio Leone's A Fistful of Dollars (starring Clint Eastwood) was a Yojimbo remake, as was Last Man Standing with Bruce Willis and Christopher Walken. Films directly inspired by Yojimbo include Django, The Warrior and the Princess,Lucky Number Slevin, and Sukayaki Western Django (which doubles as the weirdest movie of all time).
*Sorry, but there's a 50-year statute of limitations on having to write "SPOILER ALERT!," and Yojimbo was made in 1961.
Clearly, there is something compelling about the dangerous outsider figure, and it seems as good a place as any to begin this year's college basketball preview. For a Tuesday appetizer, I've used real science and precise intuition to identify four teams, ranked near the bottom of the top 25 or not ranked at all, who could become 2012's Man With No Name. They're unheralded, unexpected, and capable of surviving amid general destruction.
Florida State: The Grinders
The Gist: Playing Florida State is like trying to break a piece of steel. You'll probably give up after a while, and even if you succeed, the result won't be worth the effort. The Seminoles, last year's ACC tournament champions, lost four starters to graduation, and are ranked no. 24 in the USA Today Coaches' Poll. But considering they'll be led by 6-foot-5 guard Michael Snaer — the conference's top defender, a lethal shooter, and the best senior leader any team could hope for — that no. 24 is almost criminally low. Here are a couple of quotes about Snaer from last season:
Good for you, NC State! I am thrilled that you are thrilled to be in the NCAA tournament. It's not always easy being a part of the Wolfpack, after all, what with all those Dukies and Heels around. Shane Ryan, a Duke fan himself, wrote on the plight of the Wolfpack earlier this season.
A quick Google search tells me that you're commissioner of the Mountain West Conference, which means you’re the guy I need to talk to. Now, typically, when I write angry letters, I like to introduce myself before I air my grievances. That way it’s more personal and the recipient of the letter knows he or she is letting down a real human being with a real job, a real family, real hobbies, and a real nonexistent girlfriend. But this time around, I want to cut to the chase, so here’s all you really need to know about me: I’m a guy who had to call my cable provider and sit on hold for 30 minutes while Michael Bolton music was blasted into my ear, only to find out that if I wanted to watch the CBS Sports Network broadcast of San Diego State playing at New Mexico, my monthly bill would increase by five bucks.
Before we get started, I'd like to tip my cap to the slam-dunk craze that's sweeping the country. I called it a "passing fad" on my blog The Old Fashioned Chest Pass back in 1964, but it looks like it's here to stay.
So if you're into the jam culture, it's worth checking out this one from Georgetown's Henry Sims on Wednesday night. It's rare to see a dunk that definitive at the college level, and if intimidating displays of power are your thing, you'll want to take a trip to Sims City. (Came up with it on my own, don't steal it.)
And unlike Blake Griffin's jam from the other day, this one wasn't a glorified layup. (Did you just spit out your drink because things got too edgy? Well, then, I'm sorry ... not.)
So. No. 14 Georgetown took down UConn 58-44 in one of the Huskies' worst shooting performances ever. The visitors finished 18-of-60 from the field, and an abysmal 2-of-20 from 3. Their offensive efficiency, which is a measure of how many points they'd score in 100 possessions, was 68.6. For comparison's sake, the Division I average is 100.3, and UConn's usual average is 110.1. Ken Pomeroy's single-game numbers go back to 2003, and in that time UConn hasn't even approached a number as low as 68.6. In other words, they made a little bit of the wrong kind of history Wednesday.
This blog post was supposed to be about Indiana-Michigan, but when I got down to the business of researching, things veered a little off track. So before things get out of hand, here's what I gathered from Thursday night's game:
In case you were out living a life of leisure, here's what you missed in sports on Wednesday.
Harrison Barnes scored 20 points as the no. 5 UNC Tar Heels bounced back from their loss against UNLV with a 60-57 win over no. 7 Wisconsin. I promised UNC coach Roy Williams that I'd let him write the joke if his team won, so here he is, folks, Roy Williams: "Em dadgern Badger fellers play 'at baskertballin ' so dang slow I 'uz fixin' to tie a randy mule to one dem sass-frass hitchin' posts and watch 'at sumbitch walk round 'til he got Gypsy tied and circle silly!" (Jesus, Roy, that's not even really a joke. Thanks for making me look like an idiot.)
In case you were out living a life of leisure, here's what you missed in sports over the weekend.
Usain Bolt, Olympic gold medalist and the heavy favorite in the 100m finals at the World Championships, was disqualified at the event on Sunday, after a false start. But you have to wonder: did Bolt really move early, or did he just hear the gun faster than everyone else?