SELF PLEASURE: A preview of the 2010/2011 Big 12 men’s basketball season

SELF PLEASURE
A preview of the 2010/2011 Big 12 men’s basketball season
Part I (teams 7-12)

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The more things change, the more they stay the same…

In what will be the final year of play for the Big 12 as we know it, Kansas will once again be the team to beat. It has become a familiar refrain: they lose several key contributors from the previous year’s team, but through excellent recruiting and the continued development of guys who were once just role players, they come back and just keep winning.

Most years, they absolutely dominate this conference. But this year, there are a few teams that could actually challenge the Jayhawks’ league supremacy, beginning with one just down the road. But until one actually knocks them down, they remain the favorites to win the league.

How it’s going to look:

Wrong finger, Doc.

(12): Nebraska Cornhuskers
Clearly, Big 10 Conference commissioner Jim Delany was not made aware of the fact that in order to get the football team, they had to take the basketball team. Otherwise, I’m pretty sure he would have called the deal off.

Fact: Nebraska hasn’t won a conference title since sharing the Big 8 title in 1950. In case you don’t possess basic math skills (which if you’re a Nebraskan, you probably don’t), that was 60 years ago.

Fact: Nebraska is one of only 3 BCS programs (Northwestern and South Florida being the others) to have never won a single NCAA tournament game. Not ever. Not once. Never. Not even by accident. Doc Sadler does return 3 starters from last year’s team, but considering last year’s team won only 2 league games, I don’t know how this is a good thing. Expect more of the same in their final year in this conference.

(11): Colorado Buffaloes
Also a lame duck team, the Buffs are off to the glamour of the Pac-12 Conference (nee Pac-10). A jovial Larry Scott acted as if he had pulled off a major coup by accepting Colorado into his conference, when in fact he did the Big 12 a great favor. In case nobody has noticed, Colorado has pretty much sucked at everything they’ve done for several years, with the exception of dragging down the strengths of schedule for their fellow conference teams. I’ll give them credit, they are the best at that.

For their last season in the Big 12, there is some hope in Boulder, as they do return 2 fairly good players in Cory Higgins and Alec Burks. They won’t be nearly enough and, like Nebraska, Colorado will go out on a low note. And I’m not entirely sure how, but SOMEhow, Cody Hawkins will enter a few of the basketball games this season and immediately throw a couple of interceptions. His dad will say, “That’s my boy!”, and then return to the unemployment line.

"Do you smell something?"

(10): Iowa State Cyclones
I remember vividly when noted Iowa State basketball fan Mother Teresa (she once dated Johnny Orr in college) came to Ames to speak. She was introduced to an enthusiastic crowd of thousands, and as she stepped to the podium amid wild cheers, she said, “Thank you so much. Thank you. God Bless you. Thank you. What a wonderful university you have here. By the way, why are the chicks in this town so fat and why does the entire state smell like shit?!” She had a point.

As for the basketball team this year, Fred Hoiberg returns to his alma mater and will attempt to restore the Hilton Magic of old. Eventually, Hoiberg wants to implement a fast paced, high scoring, exciting style of play. With the current roster of players he inherited, however, about the only thing they’ll do quickly this year is exit the conference race.

(9): Oklahoma Sooners
There is a rumor floating around that there are actually other things to do in Norman besides sleep with your sister and watch football, but I have not been able to confirm that. One thing is certain: Jeff Capel’s basketball team has more new faces than the Beverly Hills Ladies Auxiliary weekly luncheons. The good news is that these new players will almost assuredly have more chemistry than the highly disappointing team of last year, which went 13-18 for their first losing season since 1981. The bad news is that none of these new players are named Blake Griffin. Capel should get this team back on track, but it isn’t happening this year.

Quitter.

(8): Texas Tech Red Raiders
As part of my crackerjack investigatory research, I sometimes am forced to employ questionable tactics. Such is the case a few years ago when the rumors were swirling that Bob Knight was about to resign. I knew that if I was going to get the story, I would have to use the old hidden camera/microphone trick. I just needed a safe place to keep it. Somewhere that it would never be noticed, somewhere that it would be safe from inspection, somewhere that not a single person would ever be tempted to look. So I put it on the inside of a Tech cheerleader’s skirt. What I got was Coach Knight telling his son, Pat, that indeed he was abruptly retiring; Pat saying, “But you always tell the kids never to quit”; Bob punching Pat in the Adam’s apple; Pat crying and screaming; Bob saying, “SHUT UP! It didn’t hurt that bad!”; Pat saying, “That’s not why I’m crying. I’m crying because you’re leaving me in charge of THIS team!”. And it’s been downhill ever since.

The good news is that Pat Knight apparently didn’t inherit the dickhead gene from his father – by all accounts he’s a nice guy. The bad news is that he also didn’t seem to inherit any of the coaching genes, either. One thing this team has going for it is that they will have 4 senior starters this year, including F Mike Singletary, the league’s most underrated player. This team can score. The problem is that they gave up an average of 213 points per game last year, which was probably a record.

(7): Oklahoma State Cowboys
The loss of Big 12 player of the year James Anderson is really going to hurt Travis Ford’s team this season. One of the things Ford has going for him is that this team is deep. So while no single player will be able to make up for Anderson’s departure, a continuing rotation will ensure that players will remain fresh as the committee approach will be utilized. As always, another thing in Oklahoma State’s favor is their building, Gallagher-Iba Arena. Named after legendary coach Henry ‘Hank’ Iba and his former assistent, a comedian who smashes watermelons with a giant hammer, this is one of the best venues in the country in which to see a college basketball game. But perhaps the most exciting thing for Cowboys fans this year is the ‘Eddie Sutton Experience’, a very unique program. For only $500, one lucky fan per home game will get the chance to be Eddie Sutton for an evening. Approximately 2 hours before game time, this fan will be escorted to a hospitality suite where they can enjoy appetizers that Sutton enjoyed, such as hot wings, onion rings, and Vicadin sandwiches. This lucky fan will also get a chance to look through Sutton’s favorite drink menu, which is considerably thicker than the Oklahoma State media guide. And finally, this fan will get to sit in Eddie Sutton Seat on Eddie Sutton Court – the exact same seat where he spent so many seasons dozing off during games. Exciting times in Stillwater.

So there you have it, Part I of the Big 12 preview. I do realize that some people don’t take me seriously and I know I have my share of detractors. Many of these naysayers have even started clubs (I believe they are called ‘not-for-Prophet organizations’). But remember, I correctly predicted the outcome of every single NCAA tournament game last year. I mean, maybe not EVERY game, but most of them. Although I didn’t have any of the Final Four teams, I came close. Other than the team I predicted would win it all didn’t get out of the first weekend. Actually, come to think of it, I pretty much suck at this. At any rate, Part II shall follow later in the week…

Recent Sports Developments from a Curmudgeon’s Point of View

Al puts on her curmudgeon's cap for this round of commentary

For those of us who love college football and basketball above all other sports, this is a tough time of year. Yes, the NBA playoffs are on but since they go from now until Wimbledon starts (or it so it seems), I can’t get excited about them yet. I’ll be more interested in them around Memorial Day. And, yes, baseball season has started, but I’m a Braves fan who has been denied round-the-clock Braves coverage since I moved away from Atlanta, so I’m not seeing a lot of their games. I do know about that Colorado no-hitter against the Braves (unfortunately), but that’s about it and it’s enough to make me flashback to being a Braves fan in the 1970s.

I don’t know why, but I seem to be suffering from the post-CBB doldrums more than usual. Maybe it’s because, for me, a season in which UNC sucked and Duke won the National Championship is best spent in denial. So, in my mind, there hasn’t been any college basketball since April 2009. However, thanks to a significant other’s love of SportsCenter in both Spanish and English and the continuous ESPN broadcasts at my gym, I’ve been forced to take notice of some recent developments. And that has prompted me to share my curmudgeonly views on them.

68-team NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament expansion

Whew, we really dodged a bullet on that one? Right? Um, wrong. If I had the power to give awards, the NCAA would get one for “Sneakiest Way to Handle Tournament Expansion.” This was brilliant from a spin and public opinion perspective. Have a couple of NCAA officials and former officials hint that “expansion is possible” and let ESPN and other sports outlets run with a 96-team tournament scenario, getting college basketball fans all riled up and arguing the pros and cons. Then, after letting us rant and wail for awhile, they say, “We’re only adding three more games.” This completely deflated most complainers while fans like me were relieved and happy that we don’t have to worry about a bracket with 96 teams–yet. Continue reading

The Best of the non-BCS Bowl Games

Although college football desperately needs a playoff, the bowl system still provides a unique series of games that I find pretty entertaining. Inter-conference games are much more interesting in college football as opposed to college basketball because you only get a few big time (non rivalry) games a season. The Bowl season solves this problem, forcing teams like Florida and Penn State to actually play a half respectable team outside of their respective conferences and states.

Obviously the biggest games are those of the BCS, but I think there are some great games going down in the “lesser bowls.” I’ll be ranking the top 5 most enticing non-BCS contests.

ON_CAMPUS_Pitt_Preview_Dion_Lewis5) Pittsburgh/UNC, Meineke Car Care Bowl: Both teams are looking to rebound after huge disappointments to end the regular season. Pittsburgh found itself within a hair of winning the Big East’s automatic BCS bid, while North Carolina took yet an other one on the chin from Tom O’Brien as Butch Davis dropped to 0-3 against the Wolf Pack. Pitt Freshman Dion Lewis put up some extremely impressive numbers, but his number of carries (297) stands out the most. Does he have enough left in the tank to produce against one of the stoutest run defenses in the country? Carolina has really been a tale of two halves this season. With an 0-3 start to their ACC season, the Heels looked like they were stumbling their way to a disappointing season in which they started just inside the AP top 25. However, Carolina bounced back and won their next 4 conference games, including @ Virginia Tech and vs. Miami. Veteran QB T.J. Yates regressed from last season, although much of that could be blamed on the loss of now NFLers Hakeem Nicks and Brandon Tate. With a running game lacking a true horse, the Heels relied on their stout defense to come up with big stops and timely turnovers. It will have to do its best to bottle up Pitt’s dynamic offense (23 passing TD’s, 24 rushing TD’s) to give UNC a chance to win.

Eric Berry anchors a defense headed by guru Monte Kiffin

Eric Berry anchors a defense headed by guru Monte Kiffin

4) Virginia Tech/Tennessee, Chick-fil-A Bowl: Lane Kiffin doing anything is entertaining to me. Bottom line is he’s turning things around at Tennessee. The Vols took advantage of a weak SEC East this season going 4-0 vs. teams not named Florida. While much Kiffin’s talent is extremely young, Safety Eric Berry may be the best player in the country. I’m also interested to see what happens when Monte Kiffin gets a month to scheme for a single offense. On the other hand, the Hokies are probably disappointed to not be in a BCS game this year. VT running back Ryan Williams put up one of the best freshman seasons in recent memory with 20 total touchdowns and over 1500 rushing yards. Tyrod Taylor is as dynamic a player as you will see and has really come into his own this season. Throw in the possibility of Beamer Ball producing some highlight reel special teams plays, and this game a must see. Continue reading

Harrison Barnes Announcement Surprises?

Harrison Barnes, a 6-7 wing forward from Ames, IA, will be announcing his college destination at 3:20 PM, Central time. (That’s 4:20 PM in the only time zone that matters.)  Barnes, an exceptional student, musician, athlete and human being, is expected to sign a letter of intent to one of his six final schools: Oklahoma, Iowa State, UCLA, Duke, Kansas, or North Carolina.

The Barnes recruitment has been nothing short of a soap opera cross-bred with a media circus. Roy Williams and Mike Krzyzewski have battled the hardest for Barnes’ services, crisscrossing the country on private jets in an almost comedic frenzy. As only one example of how insane the recruitment has been, an eavesdropping restaurant waiter was allegedly fired for possibly overhearing and/or repeating information from one of Coach K’s cell phone conversations with Barnes.

During most recruiting battles, insiders get info from various school or family sources and that information gets leaked around quickly, especially in the internet age. But even if leaks don’t occur, informed observers can usually “read the tea leaves” and see where a recruit is heading. Not so with the Barnes recruitment. We are approximately three hours from the announcement and no one can tell where he’s going. A seventeen year old kid is more media savvy than anyone in the U.S. government. It’s impressive, if also frustrating for the fans.

So with the wildest recruitment in history drawing to a close, the EJSIC would like to speculate on what Barnes might have up his sleeve for this afternoon’s announcement:

1. Barnes reveals that he still cannot reach a decision, and would like to wait until the Spring signing period. Three of the six coaches instantly commit suicide.

2. At the now-traditional “choose your school’s hat” part of the announcement, Barnes goes off-menu, donning a paper Steak and Shake cap. He confesses that the recruitment has jaded him on college in general, and basketball in particular, then says “Gotta go. My shift starts in twenty. Thanks for coming.”

3. Barnes commits to all six schools, promising 5 games per season to each coach. Iowa State calls dibs on the March games, and everyone laughs.

4. Barnes is Batman.

5. Barnes holds up a calendar showing the date as Friday the 13th. He then murders everyone in attendance with a hatchet, most especially the gratuitously nude attendees. Afterward, he commits to Kansas, where as forward Cole Aldrich puts it, he will “keep those football meanies from picking on us.”

6. As he gets ready to announce his decision, the real Barnes suddenly storms in with his pet dog and rips off the imposter’s mask, revealing Old Man Wrigley, who lives near the old abandoned sawmill but secretly always wanted to play college basketball. And he would have gotten away with it too, if it hadn’t been for those meddling kids!

Feel free to add your own!

2009-10 Top 10 with Midnight Madness updates

It’s on!

The 2009-10 season is officially underway. What does that mean for you? Lots of idiotic sportswriters telling you things that you know aren’t true. The great news for you is… we’re better than them.

With that, I’ve updated the official pre-season top 10 with links to stories about their Midnight Madness event.

Live look in at Oklahoma's Midnight Madness, still in progress!

Live look in at Oklahoma's Midnight Madness, still in progress!

In some cases, there are even some links to the recruits they had in attendance and what those recruits thought of the visit.

You’ll notice I did no special, first-hand reporting. I wanted to, but apparently no program in the US is going to let this humble blog writer near their Midnight Madness event unless I buy a ticket. And even then, they aren’t going to let me interview their recruits.

So, you’re stuck with the biased crap that always appears following a visit. You know, like when Duke fans start telling everyone that so and so is a lock (see: Brandan Wright, Greg Monroe, Patrick Patterson, Brandon Knight) and then go so far as to write them into their future lineups using pen (see: Kyrie Irving and Harrison Barnes). I guess what I’m getting at is that none of the links below are trustworthy and you should only trust EJSIC for your sports information.

You can see how this is a horrible circle of events where nobody wins.

The 2009-10 Top Ten:
1. Villanova
Recruits
2. Kansas
Recruits, off-court problems, but more problems keep popping up (here’s a hint, try running a clean program) , and top pick in less informed polls
3. Michigan State
Recruits and likely upcoming commitment
4. UNC
Recruiting photos, Recruiting targets , National Champion Evaluation, and Jeff Martin of FoxSports makes an ass of himself (he should have listened to us)
5. Kentucky
Pictures, Recruits and 7 recruits in attendance
6. Oklahoma
Recruits
7. Texas
Recruits
8. By God, West Virginia
Recruits
9. Connecticut
Recruits, big verbal by beating out Drake, and they get the lesser of two Lambs
10. Purdue
Recruits

Media Day notes and updates

2009 National Champions North Carolina Tar Heels

2009 National Champions North Carolina Tar Heels

It’s media day and there are some big time teams that we need to know about. EJSIC has gone to the great trouble of compiling all of this information so you have a one stop shop for your 2009-10 college basketball information. I’m smarter than the other experts so I’ll go ahead and give you the top 10 as it will be at the end of the year.

I’ve also gone ahead and linked to their media day information and when that wasn’t provided by anyone affiliated with their program, I stuck links to porn in there – so good luck with your surfing. Seriously, it’s all basketball, but some schools inexplicably aren’t excited enough to post info on their media day so I had to link to their scout page. Pretty lame. And now we know who’s the lamest.

1. Villanova
2. Kansas
3. Michigan State
4. UNC
5. Terd Town
6. Oklahoma
7. Texas
8. West Virginia
9. Uconn
10. Purdue

Don’t agree with my #1? Tell us who you would pick in the poll below. You can also give us your Top 10 in the comments section.

Two dog race and one dog has a bad hip.

2009 National Champions North Carolina Tar Heels

2009 National Champions North Carolina Tar Heels

Big news this week in college basketball recruiting. As everyone who follows the drama of recruiting knows, the last day for in-home visits (where a coach visits a prospective student athlete at his house), was this past Monday, October 5th.

No surprise, the most sought after recruit is the top player in his class, Harrison Bryce Jordan Barnes. Barnes wants to be a small forward or shooting guard in college to best prepare him for the NBA. He’s narrowed his list down to 5 schools. Oklahoma, Iowa State, Kansas, UNC, and Duke – pretty much in the exact opposite of that order. Many of us who are following his recruitment are baffled why he expects to play anything other than center for Duke.

Duke was one of the first schools to make contact with Barnes and were long thought to lead for his services. The Blue Devils have made him priority #1 even though he’ll only be in college for a year before he moves on to the NBA.

Continue reading

College Basketball Season Is Around the Corner

With October comes the first month of college basketball season. Sure, Midnight Madness won’t occur across the country until midnight on October 16th, but we can look ahead. And what do we have to look forward to?

2009 National Champions North Carolina Tar Heels

2009 National Champions North Carolina Tar Heels

Honestly, not much. 2010 is going to be the worst year of college basketball since the NCAA started holding championships. Think about it. Which teams are being tossed around as top 5 teams? There are some obvious ones: Kansas, Michigan State, Villanova. But after that, who gets mentioned? Texas? Oklahoma? UNC? Duke? Kentucky? Purdue?

Those are teams being considered for the 4th best team in America in the 2010 season. Things really couldn’t be any worse for college basketball fans. Consider this, a team coached by Rick Barnes has a legitimate chance to win the National Championship. Kentucky, a team that went to the NIT last year, lost their leading scorer and added a great recruiting class and is widely considered a top 5 team. UNC won the title, then lost their top 4 players to the NBA and are still considered a top 10 team. Duke lost their best player and now has only 3 scholarship guards on their team and yet, you guessed it, top 10. Oklahoma loses the National Player of the Year. Still top 10. Purdue? What a joke.

So, brace yourself college basketball fans. It’ll be competitive, but it’ll be difficult to watch. Almost like watching old people have sex.