Sunday, February 24, 2008

Bruce Pearl Would Like to Run the Spread Offense With Erin Andrews

March is right around the corner and this is usually the time of year that serious contenders for the NCAA championship start playing their best basketball in preparation for the tournament. However more than anything, this past week has exposed flaws in all of this year's favorites to win the title. Fortunately for these teams, recent history- as illustrated by Florida the last two seasons- has shown that losses in late February can be overcome. Nonetheless, if these hopeful champions want to realize their dreams, they all have something to work on over the next few weeks.

A few observations from the day in hoops:

I've never seen a John Calipari practice, but I can only assume he runs it like one long pickup game. That's the only way I can explain that Memphis' entire offensive scheme seems to be "whoever has the ball- try to take your guy off the dribble." Granted, their guards are quick enough that it's not the worst strategy; but once they encounter a team that plays good interior help defense, they're in trouble. The other problem with playing like it's a pickup game is that there aren't any free throws on the playground, and it looks like the Tigers don't want to shoot any in regular games either. Memphis is still in line to get a #1 seed, but if I were a fan of any of the teams ranked #5-8 right now, I'd really be hoping my team was given the #2 seed in the Tigers bracket.

UCLA managed to rally to win today, but they have some red flags of their own on offense. Namely, their outside shooting has completely abandoned them. Josh Shipp is now in an 0 for 20 slump from beyond the arc and looks very hesitant with the ball in his hands. Combine that with what have been some very stagnant offensive sets (From the first team, at least. Lorenzo Mata-Real has actually provided a lot of energy and motion for the team recently) and you've got a team that struggles to score in the halfcourt game. Fortunately for the Bruins, they force a lot of turnovers to get points in transition and Kevin Love is able to sell contact to get to the free throw line. Still, if they want to return to the Final Four, somebody (ideally Shipp, but otherwise Westbrook) is going to have to become a viable threat from outside.

Speaking of Love, he looked very lethargic throughout the game today. Actually, he looked downright sleepy. I don't know if he was out at a karaoke bar with Maarty Leunen all night or what, but he certainly wasn't in any condition to be on a basketball court. At one point in the first half, he took a hit under the basket and stayed on the floor for an extended period of time. I don't think he was hurt either. I'm pretty sure he was taking a nap.

The Pac-10 has been spending the last month trumpeting themselves as the best conference in the country, but I want to dispel that myth right now. For one, Washington State, Arizona State, and Oregon are all playing a worse brand of basketball now than they were a month ago. But more importantly, you can't be the best conference in basketball if you have the worst officiating in basketball; and this season, the zebras have established a new low. Trying to figure out how a Pac-10 official is going to call any given play is like trying to guess where the Plinko chip is going to land in Price is Right.

With all of the coaches, players, and fans yelling at you for every perceived mistake, I never understood why anyone would want to be a referee- unless maybe you hated basketball players growing up and this was your way to get revenge. It seems like such a thankless job. But then I learned today about one of the fringe benefits of being an official- reach arounds with nubile, young cheerleaders:

Combine that with the fact that you can be utterly incompetent and still never get fired, and maybe it's not that bad of a gig afterall...

Wendy Nix was working the sidelines for ESPN during the Indiana mutiny at Northwestern, which I think is a good assignment for her, as she is "Midwestern hot." I can't really figure her look out. She's either a former big girl who lost a lot of weight or she's a former skinny girl who's now on the precipice of getting big- kind of like a one-time beauty pageant contestant when she becomes a housewife...

As for the Hoosiers, it looks like it is not only his players but also his coaches who are distraught about Kelvin Sampson's dismissal. At this point, it's hard to imagine Indiana being able to put it together and make a deep run into the tournament. I think their only hope might be if Kelvin Sampson puts on a disguise and coaches from the stands, a la Bobby Valentine for the Mets back in the day.

I didn't see the Kansas/Oklahoma State game, but just judging by the box score, it looks like the only reason Kansas lost is because they let a 5'11" guard go to the line 18 times. I'm not sure how that happens, but in a season that features guards such as Derrick Rose, Eric Gordon, Darren Collison, Jerryd Bayless, Russell Westbrook, and DJ Augustin, there are plenty of reasons for Jayhawks fans to be nervous about another early exit in March.

So now Tennessee is the new number one team in the land. It's a ranking they've certainly earned by winning at Memphis, and their victory today was even more impressive when you consider that Volunteers coach Bruce Pearl was more focused on penetrating Erin Andrews' defense than that of Memphis. I know Tennessee is known for their hound dogs, but let's take it down a notch, ok Bruce? You're coming off greasier than that bronzing cream you rub on your body before each game. Here's a snippet from one of their encounters today. Check out the Berman eyes he gives her:

I do kind of like the role reversal tho. Usually it's the ESPN personalities who are drooling over the coaches. Maybe it's time for coaches to return the favor.

Just don't pull that stunt with Erin Andrews while Brent Musburger is calling the game or he'll whoop your ass.

(photo from The Big Lead)

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At Tue Feb 26, 06:11:00 AM PST , Anonymous Anonymous said...

insomniac you've got to be kidding me. how many other coaches would have the balls to mac on a sports reporter during halftime of one of the biggest games in UT history. talking about confidence. i bet you 10 dollars that he slipped a room key or phone# in her pants suit pocket. Bruce Pearl is the man and one heck of a coach. you've got to give him some credit for that.

At Tue Feb 26, 11:19:00 AM PST , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Agreed, Im glad to finally see a coach with some life........who wouldn't want to charm attach that fine woman. I bet a heck of a lot of other top 10 B Ball coaches see that half time clip and rip Bruce for his behavior, but I say let the man be, they just hate that he is so free spirited. Go Vols, beat Vandy!

At Tue Feb 26, 01:43:00 PM PST , Blogger insomniac said...

Yes, anonymous #1: I am kidding you. Pretty much everything I write on the site I could follow w/ "j/k lolz :P"

And yeah, if I had to see Pat Summitt just about every day, I'd probably be groping Erin Andrews at every opportunity as well.

Also, I love it when coaches have personality. As a Bruins fan, I just went having the dullest coach possible, Karl Dorrell, to Rick Neuheisel and I couldn't be happier with having a coach who seems to be enjoying life. But if a coach says/does something that I find amusing, I'm still going to joke about it. My only regret is that I didn't go with an English Leather/Old Spice joke instead of the bronzing cream. .

At Tue Feb 26, 02:33:00 PM PST , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous #2 here again.

LOL insomniac..........I did get a good laugh about the Pat Summitt comment.

I’m a Vols fan living out here in Thousand Oaks, CA, so I'll give you a GO BRIUNS shout out.

My good friend out here is as big a Bruins’ fan as you can get, so we now prostitute our cheering/drinking skills to each others teams. Looking forward to the TN/UCLA football game this fall. My friends going to dress up like the Bruins bear and I’m going incognito as Davy Crockett.

Anyways, cheers to your web site.....real good stuff.

At Wed Feb 27, 04:47:00 AM PST , Anonymous Anonymous said...

hey insomniac, anonymous #1. i wasn't being serious about my prior comment. i thought it was great about what you said. as for seeing Pat Summit, when Bruce gets tired of seeing Pat. he can just take a stroll around campus and that should ease any eye strain. but yeah, i know what your saying about Bruce and it's great.

my friend anonymous #2 was my roommate at UT and we're huge vol fans. you need to come out to see a UT game, you'll have the best time of your life.

At Wed Feb 27, 11:18:00 PM PST , Blogger insomniac said...

I haven't been to Tennessee since I was just a kid. I'd love to join the party at Neyland Stadium someday. Do you think if I went to a UT game and asked the band director real nicely that he might play "Rocky Top" a couple times while I was there

At Tue Mar 04, 09:44:00 AM PST , Anonymous Anonymous said...

insomniac it will be a miracle if we made it inside the stadium without getting tossed for public intoxication.


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