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.
2. -- 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.
3. -- Butler tops The CollegeInsider.com's Mid Major Top 25. St. Mary's, Gonzaga, Davidson and Illinois State round out the top 5.
4. -- 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."
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).
5. -- 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.
6. -- 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).
7. -- 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.