Saturday, January 31, 2009

Grambling State Game Cancelled Due To Missing Referees

Last week's game between tiny Talladega College and Division I Grambling State was canceled because there was no officiating crew to call the game.

"When we get to the gym they notify us that the referees were running late," Talladega head coach and athletic director Matt Cross told The Anniston (AL) Star. Cross said the team was told the game would be delayed for a half hour.

Twenty minutes later, the game was canceled, with Grambling officials saying the Southwestern Athletic Conference had failed to assign officials "and have a safe trip back and we'll mail you the guaranteed money," Cross said.

"I offered to try to make sense of the situation and they were just blaming everything on the SWAC," Cross said. "Then I even offered to stay another night and play the game on Wednesday, but they were adamant about not playing the game."

Talladega College has knocked off four Division I college teams this season. And that makes the case of the missing referees at Grambling all the more interesting.

Duane Lewis, assistant commissioner for the SWAC, said that lining up officials is the home team's responsibility, not the league's. He said Grambling athletic director J. Lin Dawson is looking into the situation.

Talladega coach Matt Cross talked about how disappointed his team was by the forfeit:

"They were so disappointed, I'd never seen them that distraught. They really wanted to play the game. They get excited to play bigger schools."

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Wake Forest Beats No. 1 Duke

Wednesday night, No. 6 Wake Forest beat No. 1 Duke 70-68. Last week, Wake Forest earned its first No. 1 in the ranking AP Top 25 since November, 2004. But Virginia Tech upset Wake Forest on January 21, just two days after the Demon Deacons took over the No. 1 position.

On Monday, Duke (18-2, 5-1) replaced Wake Forest (17-1, 4-1) as the No. 1 men's college basketball team in America (the AP Top 25 is released each Monday during college basketball season). But just as Wake Forest did last week, Duke lost a game two mere days after garnering their first No. 1 ranking of the 2008/09 season. Thus, the Blue Devils' stint at No. 1 will likely be as short-lived as Wake Forest's one week No. 1 run.

No. 3 Pittsburgh Falls

Also on Wednesday night, Villanova beat No. 3 Pittsburgh 67-57.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Duke Claims No. 1 (January 26, 2009)

Duke is the new No. 1 team in America. The Blue Devils sit atop the AP Men's College Basketball Top 25 for the first time since the 2005/06 season. Duke's climb to No. 1 comes as no surprise: last week's No. 1 team, Wake Forest, lost its first game of the season to unranked Virginia Tech on Wednesday. Duke beat North Carolina State and Maryland convincingly during the week, which practically guaranteed them a promotion from last week's No. 2 ranking.

Wake Forest's stay atop the polls was short-lived: last week, the Demon Deacons captured the No. 1 ranking in the AP Top 25 for the first time since 2004. But thee days after taking over the top position in the AP poll, Wake fell at home to the unheralded Virginia Tech Hokies.

The Big East leads all conferences with four teams in the top 10: Connecticut is No. 2, Pittsburgh is No. 3 , Louisville is No. 7 and Marquette is No. 8. The Atlantic Coast Conference has three teams in the top ten, with the aforementioned No. 1 Duke, No. 5 North Carolina and No. 6 Wake Forest.

Only three non Big East or ACC teams appear in the top ten (No. 4 Oklahoma, No. 9 Michigan State and No. 10 Xavier).

AP Top 25:

1. Duke (62) 18-1 1,789
2. Connecticut (6) 18-1 1,694
3. Pittsburgh (3) 18-1 1,647
4. Oklahoma (1) 19-1 1,539
5. North Carolina 17-2 1,529
6. Wake Forest 16-1 1,509
7. Louisville 15-3 1,351
8. Marquette 17-2 1,209
9. Michigan State 16-3 1,136
10. Xavier 17-2 1,084
11. Texas 14-4 1,017
12. Clemson 17-2 929
13. Butler 18-1 916
14. Arizona State 16-3 834
15. Syracuse 17-4 808
16. Purdue 15-4 724
17. UCLA 15-4 544
18. Memphis 16-3 530
19. Illinois 17-3 401
20. Gonzaga 14-4 381
21. Villanova 15-4 276
22. Saint Mary's 18-1 247
23. Washington 15-4 218
24. Kentucky 16-4 217
25. Georgetown 12-6 189

Others Receiving Votes

Notre Dame 154, Minnesota 138, Kansas 84, Florida 65, Missouri 52, Virginia Tech 37, Baylor 34, West Virginia 32, Davidson 27, Utah State 23, Dayton 14, California 13, UNLV 4, Florida State 3, Ohio State 1, Virginia Commonwealth 1.

Dropped From Rankings

Notre Dame 19, Minnesota 21, Florida 24.

Friday, January 23, 2009

High School Team Apologizes for 100-0 Win

A high school girls basketball team from Dallas, TX, has apologized for -- and is seeking forfeiture of -- their 100-0 blowout win over a rival from a school for learning-disabled students.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Virginia Tech Deals Undefeated No. 1 Wake Forest First Loss; Northwestern Upsets No. 7 Michigan State

Over the last several days, Drive and Dish has devoted a lot of time to talking about Wake Forest and Northwestern (more here, here, here, here, and here). How fitting then, that Wake Forest and Northwestern were participants in Wednesday night's two shocking upset games.

Virginia Tech traveled to Winston Salem, NC, and stunned No. 1 Wake Forest 78-71, handing the previously unbeaten Demon Deacons their first loss of the season.

And Northwestern ventured into Michigan State's intimidating Breslin Center and upset the No. 7 Spartans 70-63 (more here). With the stunning win, the Wildcats ended Michigan State's 28-game home winning streak and earned their first road win over a top ten team since the early 1950's.

What's more, the Wildcats' newfound winning ways have prompted some Northwestern fans to start looking down the schedule and speculating about the broader implications of the 'Cats' two recent upset wins (and it's prompted Drive and Dish to link to the fine Northwestern blog Lake the Posts for the third time this week):

Before you go into "coulda, shoulda, woulda" mode with the Purdue and Penn State games, just be thankful we grabbed this one thanks to a combination of stellar defense and poor Michigan State shooting. Northwestern moves to 10-6 (2-4) with several winnable games in the near future (Iowa, Chicago State and Indiana). However, after winning AT Michigan State, it makes you wonder what game isn't winnable? To the Carmody-must-go-ists, including myself, it makes you also wonder if he secured another year with tonight's win (along with at least four or five more to be .500-ish).

As alluded to above, Wake Forest and Northwestern have taken to making college basketball headlines, and have, thus, been the subjects of several recent Drive and Dish posts. If the Demon Deacons and Wildcats stay at the forefront of college hoops, Drive and Dish will be forced to continue talking/writing about them. Sure, we're well aware that with all our recent WFU/NU talk, we run the risk of looking like WFU and NU fanboys (fanboy pictures: here, here, here, here and here). But what's a basketball blogger to do? If the aforementioned teams keep making waves, we'll have to keep writing about them ... although we might be well advised to stop wearing the Demon Deacon underoos (more here) and to stop sleeping in the purple and white Wildcat sheets.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Tidbits, '09 Part 2

On Friday, Drive and Dish published the maiden 2009 edition of our ever-popular Tidbits series. As it happens, our Friday Tidbits edition was so well received that the Drive and Dish editors have ordered a special impromptu Tuesday edition of Tidbits.

So with out any further ado, we present the second edition of Tidbits for 2009:

1. -- Hoopraker provides pre-game analysis of tonight's marquee Big Ten games: Michigan at Penn State and Ohio State at No. 25 Illinois.

-- Fresh off of Sudnay's Northwestern upset of then No. 18 (now No. 21) Minnesota, Lake the Posts discusses the lack of student support for the Northwestern basketball program, ponders what it will take for the Wildcats to fill the traditionally empty seats of NU's Welsh-Ryan Arena and calls for the firing of Northwestern head coach Bill Carmody.

(Photo: Lake the Posts)

Drive and Dish has long held the position that Northwestern basketball has the potential to rise from its decades-long stay in college basketball's wilderness and become a respectable, competitive program -- much like Northwestern football has done. Welsh-Ryan Arena is an old school, band box-style gym that could provide the Wildcats with an intimidating home court advantage, were it ever to fill up with boisterous Northwestern students/fans. But as long as alumni and fans of Northwestern's opponents continue to outnumber Wildcats supporters in Welsh-Ryan's stands, Northwestern basketball will likely continue to flounder.

If Northwestern could ever establish a consistent home court advantage, the 'Cats would almost certainly pull a few more of their close games out. Bill Carmody's system allows Northwestern to slow their opponents down and keep games close. A hostile Welsh-Ryan arena could spell the difference between Northwestern losing even more nail-biters, or finally starting to win a few (as they did against Minnesota) -- which would allow them to build some momentum. And that could be the difference between finishing with a winning record, or finishing with yet another losing record.


On a personal note, when yours truly, Trashtalk Superstar, was forced to leave the grind of life as a Division III college basketball walkon in order to return home to Chicagoland for surgery in February 1996, I made my first visit to Welsh-Ryan Arena to watch then-first year head coach Tom Izzo lead his Michigan State team into battle against Northwestern. I had been in downtown Chicago that afternoon/evening and made a last minute decision to attempt to check out the MSU Northwestern game (despite the fact that I was by myself ). Due to the hasty nature of my decision, I didn't walk through the Welsh-Ryan turnstiles until a little past the halfway point of the first half. To my surprise, the kind folks at Welsh-Ryan Arena granted me admission free of charge, and I hurried into the gym where I took a courtside seat amidst a sea of Michigan State alumni and fans. After that night, I would go on to make several last minute decisions to shoot up to Evanston in order to check out Northwestern games. And since I almost usually arrived late, I almost never paid to get into the games.

Over the years, the promise of being able to breeze into cheap (possibly free) first rate seats to watch Northwestern take on the Big Ten's best teams afforded me many opportunities to convince family and friends to make the trek to E-Town to take in NU basketball games (often at the last minute).

So Northwestern students' apathy for their basketball team has worked out well for yours truly, as it's allowed me to waltz into several NU games on little more than a whim (and often for free). And the perpetually half-full stands at Welsh-Ryan have allowed me to enjoy the spoils of reliably available prime seating.

But I'd love to see Northwestern become a winning basketball program that plays in front of a consistently full (or close to full) Welsh-Ryan Arena. Sure, I wouldn't be able to stroll into Welsh-Ryan Arena at the last minute any longer, but it would be a vast improvement for Northwestern basketball.

-- Butler tops The's Mid Major Top 25. St. Mary's, Gonzaga, Davidson and Illinois State round out the top 5.

-- Allen Vaughan of the Springfield, MO, News-Leader catches Kansas head coach Bill Self skirting an NCAA rule:

"That's what was so curious when Kansas coach Bill Self came rolling
through. I was puzzled because it's an evaluation period in the NCAA's eyes, meaning coaches and recruits can have no contact, except for an exchange of greetings.

Of course, (John) Wall is the top uncommitted recruit. Self had to know I was a reporter and even said hello to me.

I just thought he'd stand there, maybe even wave to Wall to let him know he was there. Instead, when the Holy Rams poured out of the locker room, Self was excited:

Self: "Johnny, great win man. You really played well."

Wall: "Thanks."

More about past questionable recruiting practices by Kansas assistant coach Kurtis Townsend via the Seattle Post-Intelligencer here (a liquored-up Drive and Dish writer/editor commented on the questionable writing on display in the linked Post-Intelligencer article here).

-- Boston University's John Holland played all 60 minutes of Monday's four overtime BU win over Stony Brook (the final score was Boston U 99, Stony Brook 97). Holland's teammate, Jake O'Brien played 56 minutes. Stony Brook's Bryan Dougher played 57 minutes.

-- Caulton Tudor of the Raleigh News & Observer discusses what it means for Wake Forest to be ranked No. 1, and states that it means a lot more to be ranked No. 1 in April than it does in January (obviously).

-- Finally, since every man, woman and child in America is apparently caught up in the rapture of Inauguration Day fever, Drive and Dish has decided to stand out from the crowd by turning our attention across the Atlantic, and to the workout habits of the President of France. Apparently, French President Nicolas Sarkozy works out his lower abdominal and pelvic muscles to help him prevent embarrassing pre-mature *********** when engaged in amorous activity with his wife, supermodel/singer Carla Bruni. The Mail-Online profiles Julie Imperiali, "the female personal trainer who helps (French) President Sarkozy improve his sex life with his supermodel wife."

Drive and Dish's editors eschew the kind of worship of, and lavishing of attention on, attractive females which seems to prevail at websites that appeal to heavily male audiences (including sports websites and blogs). Drive and Dish is a basketball blog, and as such, we focus on basketball, with the occasional foray into subject matter outside our usual reach. We realize that blogs can increase their traffic by posting pictures of hot girls -- Drive and Dish was even the accidental beneficiary of such traffic after we included a picture of the UCLA cheerleaders/dance team in a post that chronicled UCLA's march to the Final Four -- but we remain committed to our original vision of carving out an online niche by dishing straightforward, non-snarky/catty/sardonic, basketball-intense commentary with a slightly whimsical -- but not derisive, or haterade guzzling -- tone (actually, that part of the vision evolved over time, as we started out by blogging with a healthy amount of sarcasm, derision and ... well, trash talk [more here, here, here, and here], but eventually matured and grew wary of the snarkiness and playa-hating that infests many sports-oriented websites and blogs, as well as the shtick-before sports ethos of ESPN).

Additionally, Drive and Dish editors tend to be worldly, sophisticated, young men of learning and action. In that regard, we're not entirely unlike James Bond. Or Rhett Butler. Or Han Solo. What's more, we're young enough to be in our primes, yet old/experienced enough to have learned a few things along the way. Thus, we naturally avoid the common male pitfall of putting "hot" females (or any females, for that matter) on pedestals.

And most of us have had our share of hot girls over the years, which has helped us learn several essential truths about "the ladies" which have generally evaded and bedeviled males for eons. Not that we're unique in that regard, of course. But to appropriate a common saying, once you know how sausage is made, well ... you may (or may not) still have a taste for sausage, but sausage definitely loses some of its luster. As such, Drive and Dish recognizes that attractive females may be the centerpiece around which our sex-obsessed society seemingly revolves, but we remain mindful of an essential secret: there's really nothing all that special about "hot chicks." Sure, they know how to carry themselves, they know how to get attention and they know how to create a mystique. But deep inside, they're just like all other females (although they're probably more likely to have princess mentalities). What's more, they're just as full of insecurities, jealousies and neuroses as anyone else.

So Drive and Dish never treats "hot" females with awe, lustfulness or worship.

Besides, the incessant ogling of attractive females on the internet -- especially on sports-based websites and blogs -- is really geeky.

All that said, the Drive and Dish editors have taken the official position that President Sarkozy's trainer, Julie Imperiali, is infinitely hotter than his supermodel/singer/coke-whore looking wife, Carla Bruni.

One has to wonder about those training sessions.

Wake Forest Captures No. 1

Unbeaten Wake Forest has taken over the No. 1 ranking in the AP college basketball Top 25. The Demon Deacons (16-0) have replaced previously unbeaten Pittsburgh, which fell to Louisville on Saturday.

Three Atlantic Coast Conference Teams appear in the top 5, with Duke ranked No. 2 and North Carolina ranked No. 5. Big East rivals Connecticut and the aforementioned Pittsburgh occupy the No. 3 and No. 4 positions.

Wake Forest last owned the top spot in the polls in November 2004. The 2004/05 Demon Deacons held the No. 1 ranking for two weeks, but lost their place atop the polls to Illinois after the Illini dismantled them in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.

How fitting then, that on the very day that Wake Forest makes its return to the top of the AP Top 25, Illinois returns to the AP Top 25 for the first time since 2006. With Illinois now ranked No. 25, The Demon Deacons and the Illini bookend the Top 25.

Both Wake Forest and Illinois suffered through two down years in 2007 and 2008, so it's especially sweet both for Wake to sit atop the polls, and for Illinois to be back on the college basketball map. Drive and Dish friends Toki Wartooth (Joe) of Paint the Town Orange and Izzy of Dishing Dimes celebrated their schools' rankings in this week's Top 25 by publishing new blog posts (Toki Wartooth [Joe] and Izzy are members of the class of 2009 at Illinois and Wake Forest, respectively).

Also, after having picked Clemson to beat Wake Forest, Drive and Dish friend The ACC & SEC Blog makes amends by rating each ACC team and opining that the ACC is probably as good as it has been in ten years.

AP Top 25 (1-19-09)

1. Wake Forest (68) 16-0 1,793
2. Duke (4) 16-1 1,721
3. Connecticut 16-1 1,590
4. Pittsburgh 16-1 1,569
5. North Carolina 16-2 1,510
6. Oklahoma 17-1 1,498
7. Michigan State 15-2 1,394
8. Syracuse 17-2 1,146
9. Louisville 13-3 1,090
10. Clemson 16-1 1,043
11. Marquette 16-2 1,003
12. Georgetown 12-4 979
13. UCLA 14-3 897
14. Texas 13-4 858
15. Xavier 15-2 848
16. Butler 16-1 726
17. Arizona State 15-3 671
18. Purdue 14-4 553
19. Notre Dame 12-5 469
20. Villanova 14-3 353
21. Minnesota 16-2 298
22. Memphis 14-3 208
23. Gonzaga 12-4 201
24. Florida 16-2 175
25. Illinois 15-3 159

Others Receiving Votes

Baylor 148, Saint Mary's 137, Kentucky 105, California 82, Florida State 34, Kansas 23, Ohio State 20, Missouri 14, Davidson 14, Tennessee 14, Utah State 12, Washington 12, West Virginia 8, Miami (FL) 8, Arkansas 6, Michigan 5, Dayton 4, George Mason 1, LSU 1.

Dropped From Rankings

Baylor 21, California 22, Tennessee 24, Michigan 25.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Northwestern Upsets No. 18 Minnesota

Just three days after squandering a game-long lead and suffering a heart breaking home court loss to No. 19 Purdue, Northwestern returned to the upset-friendly confines of their Welsh-Ryan Arena home court and knocked off No. 18 Minnesota 74-65. More here.

Sunday's win was Northwestern's first in Big Ten play. Northwestern is now 9-6, 1-4 Big Ten. With the loss, Minnesota falls to 16-2, 4-2 Big Ten.

Craig Moore hit six three pointers and finished with 22 points for Northwestern. Kevin Coble had 20 for the Wildcats.

Lawrence Westbrook led Minnesota with 18 points.

Drive and Dish has had high praise for Minnesota head coach Tubby Smith and his Golden Gophers as of late, especially after they pulled out an impressive come-from-behind overtime road win over Wisconsin at the hostile Kohl Center on Thursday night. But while Minnesota was flying high after Thursday's dramatic win, they fell utterly flat today in what they should have understood to be a potential trap game. Northwestern's deliberate, Princeton-inspired offense and its 1-3-1 zone defense took the Gophers totally out of their game. By the end of the contest, the upstart squad from the land of 10,000 lakes had all but fallen apart. Every time Minnesota would threaten to make a run, Northwestern would answer with a quick three, an easy layup off of a backdoor cut, or a basket off of a fast break -- yes, you read that correctly: Northwestern scored several points by converting fast breaks.

Minnesota's Westbrook described the Gophers' plight to CBS Sports:

"Northwestern is a hard team to come back from because of their (Princeton) offense," Westbrook said. "They slow down the tempo and they use the game clock. If you get down big against them, it's virtually impossible to come back."

Drive and Dish discussed the state of Northwestern basketball, and the Wildcats' heartbreaking loss to Purdue here.

After Thursday's Purdue loss, we contended that Northwestern is, indeed, a good team, and that they've demonstrated that they're capable of knocking off highly regarded opponents. But we also noted that repeatedly falling just short of beating those opponents would likely be toxic to the Wildcats' confidence and, ultimately, spell doom for their season.

Today, Northwestern held on and finally pulled off an upset against a ranked opponent. It was a long time coming for the Wildcats. And although today's victory was only their first of the year in Big Ten conference play, it should help the 'Cats build some momentum, gain some confidence and earn some respect from the rest of the Big Ten. As Tubby Smith commented,

"They're going to win a lot of games, Northwestern."

Northwestern head coach Bill Carmody might want to cut that quote out of the paper and put it on the bulletin board.


Lake the Posts, the fine Northwestern football blog, has more.

Two Undefeated Teams Fall: Louisville Upsets No. 1 Pittsburgh, Wake Forest Beats Clemson

On Saturday, two of college basketball's undefeated teams were handed their first loss of the season. And in one of those games, the top ranked team in America get upset by a bitter -- albeit relatively new -- conference rival.

Saturday night saw No. 20 Louisville end No. 1 Pittsburgh's dreams of an undefeated season. More here, and here. The Cardinals beat the visiting Pitt Panthers 69-63 in front of 20,000 observers in Freedom Hall.

Terrence Williams paced Louisville (13-3, 4-0 Big East) with 20 points. Jermaine Dixon finished with a career-high 19 to lead Pitt (16-1, 4-1 Big East).

Head coach Rick Pitino has Louisville surging. Earlier in the week, his Cardinals beat No. 13 Notre Dame 87-73 in overtime.

Saturday's Louisville upset marked another milestone in the emerging Louisville vs. Pittsburgh rivalry. The Cardinals and the Panthers are not traditional rivals. But since Louisville joined the Big East in 2006, the Louisville vs. Pitt rivalry has become one of the most heated rivalries in college basketball.

Wake Forest Hands Clemson First Loss

Also on Saturday, No. 2 Wake Forest put it's unblemished record on the line in Clemson's Littlejohn Coliseum against its similarly unbeaten Atlantic Coast Conference rival, the No. 10 Clemson Tigers. Wake Forest emerged with its perfect record intact, as the Demon Deacons beat the Tigers 78-68.

With its 16-0 record, Wake Forest is off to the best start in school history. Jeff Teague led the Demon Deacons (16-0, 3-0 ACC) with 24 points. Clemson fell to 16-1, 3-1 ACC.

It's been quite a week for Wake Forest. Last Sunday, the Demon Deacons knocked off No. 3 North Carolina. Wake Forest will, undoubtedly, move to No. 1 in the nation when the new AP Top 25 is released on Monday.

The last four years have been a whirlwind for Wake Forest basketball. In December 2004, a Wake Forest team led by point guard and current NBA star Chris Paul took its No. 1 ranking to Champaign, IL, to face Illinois in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. But the Illini blew Wake away in the hostile Assembly Hall and wrestled the No. 1 ranking from the Demon Deacons. Illinois held on to the No. 1 slot until they fell to North Carolina in the 2004/05 NCAA National Championship game. And what had been a much heralded Wake Forest team fell to West Virginia on the first weekend of the 2005 NCAA Tournament.

Wake Forest then went relatively dormant for two seasons, but landed a stellar recruiting class in 2007. Tragically, Wake Forest's head coach, Skip Prosser died of a heart attack before the 2007 Fall Semester began. But assistant coach Dino Gaudio took over the shaken program and continued Prosser's system.

Now, one year later, Gaudio has Wake Forest out to the best start in the history of the program and atop the college basketball world.

Like his counterpart Dino Gaudio at Wake Forest, Clemson head coach Oliver Purnell also has his team out to the best start in school history. But although Clemson's dreams of an undefeated season have been squelched, there's no doubt that the Clemson basketball program is earning respect and making people stand up and take notice at what has traditionally been a football-crazy, but basketball-apathetic, school.

(Image of Louisville vs. Pittsburgh: Breitbart, Image of Wake Forest vs. Clemson, Washington Post).

Friday, January 16, 2009

Tidbits, '09 Edition

2009 is a little over two weeks old, the temperature here in Chicago is somewhere south of ten below zero (once it hits ten below, I stop counting), college basketball teams are nearing the end of the second week of conference play and the Drive and Dish editorial board has decided to press its writers to spend Friday night working on the year's first edition of our ever popular Tidbits feature.

It's worth mentioning that Drive and Dish has been forced to downsize its writing staff; Mark Buckets and the content generating/research conducting/image searching/blog post writing interns have moved on. Trashtalk Superstar remains as the lone writer on the Drive and Dish payroll. All twelve members of the editorial board remain on the payroll, as do all the members of the corporate board. But as for writers and copy editors, Trashtalk Superstar is left to hold down the fort by himself (although the 21 year old, Long Island Iced Tea guzzling, table dancing, Pussycat Doll impersonating interns remain on staff, of course).

Unfortunately, the period of time encompassing the holidays, the end of the year and the start of the new year presented Trashtalk Superstar with several major challenges to his time management skills. Simply, Trashtalk Superstar has been extremely busy, and hasn't had much time to watch, think about, or write about basketball. Thus, as the college basketball season has heated up, Drive and Dish has been unusually quiet.

But although the challenges to Trashtalk Superstar's time management skills are likely to continue for several more days, the Drive and Dish editorial board is demanding new content.


So without further ado, Drive and Dish and the time pressed Trashtalk Superstar present the maiden edition of Tidbits for 2009:

1.- Thursday night, #18 Minnesota beat Wisconsin 78-74 in overtime at the Kohl Center in Madison, WI. It was a huge win for second year head coach Tubby Smith's upstart Minnesota basketball program. Remember, it's really tough to win a road game at Wisconsin. With the win, Minnesota becomes only the third team to beat the Badgers on their home court in Bo Ryan's eight seasons as Wisconsin's head coach.

Minnesota was down by 14 points midway through the second half, and trailed by six points with just over 40 seconds to play. But the Gophers mounted a furious comeback to tie the game and send it to overtime.

Minnesota continues to demonstrate that they're for real. They're still not getting much shine nationally, but they're getting it done on the court night after night.

Minnesota may not be on the national media's radar, but Drive and Dish has nothing but love for the Gophers. More here.

2.- Thursday night, North Carolina avoided its first 0-3 start in ACC play since the 1996/97 season by hammering Virginia 83-61 on Virginia's home court in Charlottesville, VA (1996/97 was Dean Smith's last season as head coach at North Carolina). North Carolina started ACC play by losing at home to Boston College and losing at Wake Forest. Drive and Dish discussed the Wake Forest vs. North Carolina game here.

Prior to their loss to Boston College, the Tar Heels had been undefeated and ranked #1 in the nation.

North Carolina may have stumbled out of the blocks at the start of conference play, but they remain a legitimate Final Four (and potential national championship) contender. The Heels have an outstanding point guard in Ty Lawson, a pair of deft wing scorers in Wayne Ellison and Danny Green, and a strong inside game courtesy of 2008 Wooden Award winner Tyler Hansbrough. North Carolina may not be blessed with the kind of depth that their 2005 National Championship team had (particularly in the paint), but they have a balanced offense and four starters who will likely play in the NBA.

Drive and Dish does not expect North Carolina to play in the National Championship game, but we wouldn't be surprised if the Tar Heels make another trip to the Final Four.

3.- Also on Thursday night, Purdue survived a scare at Northwestern by coming from behind to beat the Wildcats 63-61.

Purdue committed 22 turnovers and only took their first lead of the game with 1:09 remaining before the final buzzer. Clearly, it wasn't their best night. But make no mistake: Northwestern had a big hand in Purdue's struggles. The Wildcats played nearly flawless for 35 minutes. Unfortunately for the 'Cats, they couldn't keep it up in the game's last five minutes.

With the loss, Northwestern fell to 0-4 in the Big Ten, and 8-6 overall. Northwestern had looked like a much improved basketball team at the beginning of the season. And they even pulled off a convincing upset of Florida State -- a likely NCAA Tournament participant -- in last month's ACC/Big Ten Challenge. But the start of conference play has been unkind to the Wildcats. Thursday night's game provided Northwestern with a golden opportunity to regain momentum and potentially stave off another year of finishing with a disappointing Big Ten record. But they dropped the ball at the end of the game.

Beating Purdue would have served as a statement game to the other teams in the Big Ten and as a confidence builder for the Wildcats players. Northwestern is clearly good enough to knock off good teams. But when teams play their hearts out, yet fall just short of winning big games -- as Northwestern did against Purdue -- the players risk losing confidence and losing hope ... which Northwestern seems to do at some point each season.

Northwestern has never played in the NCAA Tournament. Drive and Dish has been waiting for years to see the Wildcats get to the Big Dance. It looks like we'll be waiting indefinitely.

- Since we're talking about the Big Ten, it's worth mentioning that the league is much improved this year. When Tubby Smith and John Beilein took over at Minnesota and Michigan, respectively, Drive and Dish knew that it wouldn't be long before the Gophers and Wolverines were back in the business of winning basketball games and playing in NCAA Tournaments. And when Indiana ditched Kelvin Sampson and welcomed Tom Crean to Bloomington, we knew that, although IU would be in store for some dark days, the Hoosiers would not be down for long (unfortunately for IU, Kelvin Sampson left Crean with quite a mess to clean up; it will take the Crean at least a year or two to get that program back on track).

But what we didn't expect was Illinois' quick resurgence and Penn State's sudden discovery of the game of basketball. Sure, we knew that Bruce Weber was a very good coach, and we expected that he would eventually get the Illini back to prominence. But we figured that the rebirth of Illinois basketball would hinge on the development of big men Mike Tisdale and Mike Davis, as well as the development of point guard Demetri McCamey. And we expected those players to continue to experience some growing pains in 2008/09. The rapid development of Mike Davis and Mike Tisdale has caught us by surprise, as it has the rest of the Big Ten and the national media.

The Big Ten is back. And with Tom Izzo at Michigan State, Bo Ryan at Wisconsin, Bruce Weber at Illinois, recruiting wizard Thad Matta at Ohio State, and now Tubby Smith at Minnesota, John Beilein at Michigan and Tom Crean at Indiana, the Big Ten has some really top rate coaches helming most of its programs (Northwestern's Bill Carmody is a very good coach as well; the Wildcats' struggles don't stem from coaching ineptitude ... Penn State's Ed DeChellis and Purdue's Matt Painter may well be outstanding coaches too, but they will have to produce more of a body of work before Drive and Dish includes them in the same league with the aformentioned coaches).

-- Speaking of Illinois, Sports Illustrated has a feature on Mike Davis and the resurgent Illini.

-- Former Chicago Bulls radio studio host Carmen DeFalco will apparently join the afternoon drive show at Chicago's ESPN AM radio 1000, after the controversial and temperamental Dan McNeil has been shown the door and will no longer be part of the "Mac, Jurko and Harry" show.

McNeil has never liked basketball, and even used to refuse to talk about basketball on the air. He used to drop out of the conversation, and sometimes leave the room, when his radio partners John Jurkovic and Harry Teinowitz would talk about hoops.

DeFalco, the former ESPN 1000 Bulls broadcast studio host, is very basketball friendly, although his basketball acumen remains in question. I used to listen to many a Bulls game on the radio, but I was always put off by DeFalco's homerism and cheerleading for what was a moribund basketball franchise. Eddy Curry, Tyson Chandler, Jalen Rose, Jamal Crawford, Eddie Robinson, Dalibor Bagaric, Chris Antsey and the rest of the Bulls' former cast of wash-outs, vagabonds, and malcontents would go through the motions and get blown out game after game, but Carmen DeFalco would always tell Bulls fans that the Bulls were just about to break out and take the league by storm.

Game after game. Year after year.

I'm not hating on Carmen DeFalco, I'm just saying that he used to be, more or less, in the business of selling dog excrement sandwiches to Bulls fans. I will admit, though, that I've heard him make some quite intelligent basketball comments in recent years.

On a personal note, I started listening to sports talk radio in the summers when I worked in my family business' factory. The sports talk made the hours of monotonous drill press and assembly line work fly by. I got hooked on Chicago's "The Score" and continued listening to sports talk radio through college and for several years beyond. I eventually migrated from the all-local sports talk "Score" to the national sports focused ESPN radio because of ESPN's outstanding coverage of college football and basketball (even though I had originally disliked ESPN radio -- national sports radio in general). However, over the last couple of years, I've more or less stopped listening to sports talk radio. I still occasionally flip on ESPN radio on weekends, but I'm not very connected to the world of the sports talkers anymore.

But Dan McNeil's departure from the "Mac, Jurko, and Harry" show -- a show which he helped start, and which bears his name -- is worth mentioning, if only because McNeil has been so temperamental and difficult over the years. I don't know how many times Dan McNeil got suspended from the air for disciplinary reasons, but it seemed like he was suspended at least once a month for the entire 9 years he was on the air at ESPN 1000. At least one (but possibly more) of those suspensions was for punching or otherwise physically assaulting his radio partner, uber-nebbish Harry Teinowitz. Prior to McNeil's arrival at AM 1000 (McNeil joined the station after getting fired from "The Score 670"), he had served countless suspensions at the Score.

-- Finally, the NCAA has determined that 7th graders can officially be classified as college basketball prospects. Somewhere, Kentucky head coach Billy Gillispie must be smiling (although Gillispie's smile could be alcohol-related).

(Dis)Honorable Mention:

Since it has nothing to do with basketball, the following story about Consuelo Guenther, a half naked, drunken Wisconsin woman who pulled her pants down and ran through an IHOP, didn't make the cut for Tidbits. It is, however, worth posting.

"Half naked woman runs through IHOP with pants pulled down, wrecks car."

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Alabama High School Player Hits 82 Foot Buzzer Beater to Win Game

Since the recent advent of easily accessible internet video, low quality, homemade videos of crazy circus shots from high school basketball games have become commonplace. It seems like every week, there's a new viral video of some kid making an improbable prayer shot. Here's this week's entry:

Alabama high school basketball player sinks 82 foot game winner.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Wake Forest Beats North Carolina

Sunday night, # 4 Wake Forest defeated # 3 North Carolina 92-89 (more here) in Winston-Salem, NC. It was the second losing effort of the week for visiting North Carolina -- the Tar Heels had been undefeated ranked #1 in the nation before being upset by #17 Boston College last Sunday (Boston College celebrated their win over North Carolina by going on to lose to lose to both Harvard -- yes, Harvard! -- and Miami).

Jeff Teague scored a career high 34 points to lead Wake Forest. Danny Green led North Carolina with 22 points. North Carolina's Tyler Hansbrough, the reigning National Player of the Year in men's college basketball, finished with 17 points, but was held to only 4 points in the second half.

North Carolina fell to 14-2, and 0-2 in the ACC.

(Photo: Winston-Salem Journal).

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year!

Last week, Drive and Dish wished our readers a Merry Christmas by publishing a Christmas around the world post. This week, we'd like to wish our readers a Happy New Year, but we've decided to let you follow this Sky News link if you'd like to see how the rest of the world rang in the New Year.

2008 may have started off well enough, but in the face of a global economic meltdown and a U.S. recession, it ended on a bit of a rough note. Unfortunately, Drive and Dish hasn't entirely escaped the tough economic times. As such, we've had to make some difficult decisions. Among those has been the decision to reduce the number of content/image research internships Drive and Dish will offer in 2009. Look, Drive and Dish's budget is tightening, so we had to choose between retaining our content/image research interns or our Long Island Iced Tea drinking, table dancing, 21 year old, Pussycat Doll impersonating interns. We spent many hours debating the merits of the respective positions, but at the end of the day*, we decided that the tipsy Pussycat Doll impersonators were too vital to our day to day operations to do without (don't worry: they don't actually have to sing, they just have to dress like the PCDs and be ready to pop, lock and drop it on demand).

So since we no longer have content/image interns to write our blog posts, we're letting you, the Drive and Dish reader, follow this link to see images of New Year's Celebrations from around the world.

And we're handing the baton off to our friend Toki Wartooth (Joe) at Paint the Town Orange for New Year's commentary on the upstart 2008-'09 Illinois basketball team, and to our friends at Top Ten Chicago Sports for some fine Chicago sports related New Year's resolutions.

Happy New Year.

* Disclaimer: Drive and Dish's editors fervently dislike the cliche "at the end of the day," and only use it when attempting to project a sarcastic tone.

Although it's become practically ubiquitous throughout all segments of society, "at the end of the day" is often used as a business cliche. Frequently, in an attempt to seem erudite and sufficiently business jargon literate, a white-collar worker will utilize the cliche "at the end of the day" in a statement such as the following:

"Going forward, at the end of the day, we're at a tipping point where we're starting to see a paradigm shift. It is what it is, so, you know, we need to think outside the box in order to grow our business and optimize our position for (name of product or industry) 2.0."

Drive and Dish's editors have always bristled at the use of such cliche-ridden speech, business or otherwise. However, through the years, we've been subjected to it frequently.

(Image of Taipei 101 Tower: Sky News).