Tuesday, April 29, 2003

Larry Eustachy, who up til now was best known as the college basketball coach who bore an uncanny resemblance to David Duchovny, is in some hot water over his behavior three months ago at a post-game party in Columbia, Missouri. The Iowa State head coach is being publicly eviscerated by the local media for his antics following the Cyclones' loss to Missouri, in which he attended a party with a Missouri player, became belligerent with a student who objected to his presence at the apartment, and proceeded to publicly berate his players. The previous year, he reportedly showed up at a frathouse in Manhattan, Kansas after a loss to K-State, and made what may have been some off-color remarks to a co-ed. Somehow, it seems that if the Cyclones were coming off back-to-back tournament appearances, rather than a pair of losing seasons, all would have been forgiven, especially since the event in question occurred back in January.

Friday, April 18, 2003

Players leaving college early to turn pro hardly raise an eyebrow anymore. I have to admit, though, that I've never heard of a player dropping out of high school to turn "collegiate" until this week. John Booty, who was thought to be the top prep football prospect in the Class of 2004, decided to bypass his senior season and enroll early at USC, where he intends to play quarterback. The Trojans have an immediate hole at the position, thanks to the departure of Heisman winner Carson Palmer, so Booty may well be in the line-up by mid-season. Apparently the kid is an academic phenom as well, but I always assumed that a student couldn't just arbitrarily skip a year of high school, simply to play semi-pro college football.

Still, there are plenty of good reasons for an eighteen year old to wish to matriculate at USC, and it is his life. Fight on....

Saturday, April 12, 2003

For all my love of college basketball, it rarely avails me anything when it comes to winning a bracket pool. This year I finished toward the back of the pack, and had no team in the Final Four. So this is too late to do me any good this year, but it's interesting to study: a game theory model for picking brackets. It's for people who enjoyed A Beautiful Mind for the math, not Jennifer Connally.

Tuesday, April 08, 2003

Syracuse 81, Kansas 78: If the Jayhawks, as a team, had shot free throws last night as well as Shaquille O'Neal has in his career, Kansas would be the 2003 national champion.

Sunday, April 06, 2003

It's safe to say that Kansas is going to be an overwhelming favorite tomorrow night. Humiliating a talented Marquette team, right after a pair of clutch wins over Duke and Arizona, leads one to the conclusion that Syracuse is going to have a lot of problems just staying competitive. On top of that, the Orangemen will be attempting to come out of nowhere to win the NCAA tournament, something that almost never happens. The last time a school won the championship without appearing in the Sweet Sixteen the year before was UCLA in 1995; Syracuse didn't even appear in last year's dance, and no team since Louisville in 1986 has done that.

FWIW, I'll be pulling for Jim Boeheim, a coach who made the cover of The National sportspaper in 1991 as "the worst coach in college basketball", then proceeded to lose the following night to No.15 seed Richmond; The National went defunct soon afterward, but Jim Boeheim is still here, and is now viewed as one of the best tacticians in the game. Clearly, the line of demarkation in his career came in 1995, when a mediocre Syracuse team took defending national champion Arkansas to overtime before losing, a game I will always remember as having been played at the same time as the UCLA-Missouri second round game (the "Tyus Edney Game"). Before then, the Orangemen always had a team of budding superstars, but no chemistry, and were predictable underachievers. Battling the way they did against the Razorbacks, losing only after they pulled a C-Web late and called a time-out they didn't have, presaged their run the following year, when John Wallace and a collection of nobodies stormed to the finals. Boeheim's teams play smart, aggressive basketball, with one of the most famous zones in the sport, and are fun to watch.

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