Friday, January 20, 2006

Great Read from Mark Bradley

Like Bill Simmons on the NBA, Mark Bradley is firmly within his wheelhouse when discussing college basketball (as one would expect from a Kentucky grad.) I wish that Bradley would have come of age during the blog era or would embrace the concept more, because his college hoops thoughts would be a lot more interesting if they weren't confined to the 900-word format that newspaper columns require. There's nothing to really disagree with in there, although I think he overrates Louisville a little (their best win is over Miami; what does that say?) and thereby overrates the Big East. I also get the sense that Duke is going to win the national title this year, but I always fear that my least favorite teams are going to win titles. (Look for the Yankees to win in baseball, Notre Dame in college football, and France in the World Cup. Also, look for King Kong to win the Academy Award for Best Picture. [I am NOT a Peter Jackson fan. He is in desperate need of an editor to cut down on his repetitive action sequences. Where was I, anyway?])

I fully agree on J.J. Redick (his offensive game has really matured) and Shelden Williams (Duke big men invariably have many of the characteristics of female genitalia.) I also agree on the SEC being down again. Florida is good, but not as good as their record. LSU and Tennessee are intriguing. Kentucky will play better at some stage this year, mainly because of my indefatigable faith in Tubby. The rest of the league vacillates between average and crappy.

I'm in agreement on his Final Four picks of Duke and UConn, but that doesn't exactly put me out on a limb. I'll take Villanova and Indiana as my other two, but picking a Final Four before the brackets is a less than useless endeavor.

And since I mentioned Bill Simmons earlier, I should mention that I almost linked to his ESPN the Magazine article that ran on Tuesday to say how pleasantly surprised I was that he was admitting that the Patriots played poorly and deserved to be knocked out of the playoffs, but my initial expectations that he would whine and complain like a typical Boston fan and externalize all of his team's maladies onto external forces were borne out in Wednesday's column, in which he devoted 1,171 words to bitching about two calls that went against New England. Bill, you can't spend one quarter of your column kvetching about bad calls against New England (while barely saying anything else about the New England-Denver game) and then say that you aren't blaming the loss on the officials.


Anonymous said...

What is your take on the Georgia team? I have been following the Georgia Tech team since I moved into the area over two years ago but have not had (or taken) much of a chance to watch many of UGA's games. They appear to have a lot of good young players and their coach sounds great based on some of the articles I have read about his no-nonsense approach.

Caelus said...

I made the above comment but was not allowed to identify myself in the first attempt.

peacedog said...

Some good young guards, for one. Humphrey got off to a good start but has hit a bump since SEC play started and hasn't produced as much. He appears to be a terrific shooter.

Mike Mercer was the most heralded recruit in the class (since Williams went pro). He is. . .young. He forces to much, and he doesn't get his teammates involved enough from what I have seen. He's a terrific athelete though and he can get to the whole.

He's not a great shooter, and early in the year I'd have classified his jump shot as "embarrasing" (very, veyr high arcing rainbow shots; produced alot of ugly kicks on misses which were frequent). However, he's been working on it, and apparently last game out his jumper looked alot better. And he had a good game, showing a deft touch on mid range pull ups. He;s got serious potential.

Unfortunately, the big men have a long way to go. Freshman Rashad Singleton has showed some defensive prowess but I think it's more the statsheet variety (see: Shelden Williams). Terrance Woodbery has been hurt but decent when healthy, providing some nice athleticism and rebounding though he's technically a 3 (he's 6'6" or so, though). Younes Idrissi is solid at times.

But the last game out against UK was telling. The entire front court had some sort of ridiculous stat line. Paul Westerdawg noted this in his blog:

" Woodbury, Bliss, Idrissi, Newman and Singleton combined for 70 minutes, 0-7 field goal shooting, 0-1 free throw shooting, 4 turnovers, 2 assists and only 3 rebounds."

That's horrific. I mean, that's so bad I don't know if I could quantify it to someone who wasn't a basketball fan. It would be like a RB getting the ball 30 times in a game where his team rolls up 550 yards of offense, and gaining all of 63 yards. Black hole doesn't do it justice.

I think some of this group willt run out to be solid. Some guys, like Bliss and Newman, are guys we wouldn't have on the team if things were going better (or who wouldn't play). It's not a knock on them personally.

I like Felton, but the prorgram has a long ways to go. When I've watched, I felt like we've settled for far too many 3s, and we're not that good of a shooting team. Stukes is streaky at best. Toney is decent. Humphrey good. That's it, really. I'd like to see the basket attacked more, and people make more passes.

Defensively they get after it. However, we do seem prone to breakdowns & blown assignments (not totally shocking given how young the team is), and the interior defense isn't really that good. I think it will all get better with time.

Anonymous said...

OSU in the Final Four? MSU mentioned in the same breath as Duke and UConn? Are you sure Bradley knows his stuff?

OSU is strictly a middle-of-the-pack Big Ten team. Because of the conference's unbalanced schedule (which gave them a great draw), they'll have a good record, but they'll be lucky to make the Sweet 16. (As I type this, OSU is losing to a horrible PSU team.)

As for MSU, in the last five years they have one Final Four appearance and...?

Caelus said...

Thank you Peacedog. This gives me something to work with. Let's hope that the Dawgs can continue to develop.

Michael said...

OSU basically got screwed at Indiana or they would have beaten the Hoosiers on the road. They lost in about 16 overtimes to Michigan State. They came from behind to beat LSU, a team that gave UConn fits. They're pretty good.

And nice selective time period to dismiss Michigan State. Using the five-year period conveniently cuts off their national title. They have three Final Fours in the last six years. I'd say that they come in right behind Duke and UConn for the best programs in America right now, although I suspect that Roy will have Carolina past them on a regular basis in the next five years. In fact, if you use my arbitrary six-year time period, MSU has two more Final Four appearances and the same number of national titles as UConn. Izzo has been to twice as many Final Fours as Calhoun (4-2), so the argument could be made that MSU is ahead of UConn, although I wouldn't go that far because UConn has more national titles and they seem to own Duke, the #1 program in recent history.

peacedog said...

Just signing Greg Oden, one of the top ten centers evar, makes OSU better this year. He's that good.

My only comment on MSU is that they've been terrific for awhile.

Ryno said...

Thank you for calling out that asshat Bill Simmons. I can't believe he would have the nerve to bitch and moan about the calls that went against New England when the entire reason his team has a Dynasty is because of a blown call.

Anonymous said...

The entire reason for the Patriot dynasty is a blown call? What did that call have to do with their second and third Super Bowl titles?

Michael said...

Probably because winning two Super Bowls seems less like a dynasty than winning three out of four and the 2001 team, as just about everyone (Simmons included) would admit, was not a great team.