Friday, February 27, 2009

RIP Johnny "Red" Kerr, Norm Van Lier

Tragedy hit the Chicago Bulls organization on Thursday when Johnny "Red" Kerr and Norm Van Lier both passed away. After serving as the Bulls first head coach, Kerr enjoyed a long career as a color commentator on Bulls television broadcasts. Van Lier was a tough point guard for the Bulls in the 1970's. After his playing career, Van Lier had a long career doing sports talk radio and in-studio pre and post game analysis for the Bulls.

Drive and Dish has been traveling on the East Coast and learned of the news belatedly. Therefore, we refer readers to Top Ten Chicago Sports, which has a nice tribute to the Bulls' long-time ambassadors.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Upset Saturday

On Saturday, the second and third ranked teams in America ventured into the arenas of conference rivals and staggered out with upset losses on their records. Texas upset No. 2 Oklahoma 73-68, and unheralded Maryland stunned No. 3 North Carolina 88-85 in overtime.

Texas' A.J. Abrams scored 18 of the Longhorns' final 20 points, including 16 straight points in the last eight minutes of the game. But Texas (18-8, 7-5 Big 12), no doubt, benefited tremendously from the absence of Oklahoma's Blake Griffin, the leading scorer and rebounder in the Big 12 Conference. Griffin left the game after sustaining a concussion first half. He did not return in the second half and only played for a total of 11 minutes (netting 2 points and 3 rebounds).

With the loss, Oklahoma falls to 25-2, 11-1.

Maryland Upsets No. 3 North Carolina 88-85 (OT)

Maryland overcame a 16 point deficit en route to their upset of No. 3 North Carolina, thanks largely to a Herculean effort by Greivis Vasquez. Vasquez finished with a career-high 35 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists. His performance marked Maryland's first triple-double in 22 years (Derrick Lewis had two triple-doubles for the Terrapins in 1987).

With the win, Maryland (17-9, 6-6 Atlantic Coast Conference) likely put itself within striking distance of an NCAA Tournament bid.

North Carolina fell to 24-3, 10-3. Ty Lawson led the visiting Tar Heels with 24 points.

(Photos: Baltimore Sun).

Saturday, February 21, 2009

73 Year Old College Basketball Player Ruled Ineligible

Roane State Junior College's Ken Mink, who at 73 is the oldest man to ever play college basketball, has been ruled ineligible by the NJCAA.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Guest Post: Wake Forest Basketball Through a Student's Eyes

Drive and Dish has been paying close attention to Wake Forest all season long. The reasons for our are new-found Wake Forest interest are obvious: the Demon Deacons have undergone a basketball renaissance in 2008/09 which resulted in their ascension to the No. 1 ranking in the AP Top 25 Poll (although it was a brief stay at No. 1), they've bounced back from the sudden death (in 2007) of head coach Skip Prosser to rally around new head coach Dino Gaudio, and -- for some reason -- Drive and Dish gets a lot of traffic from Wake Forest fans.

However, despite our renewed interest in Wake Forest and the apparent popularity of a few Wake Forest-related Drive and Dish posts, this blog has never had a tangible connection to Wake Forest University. To be sure, we've got no shortage of friends who either currently attend, or alumni of, Big Ten schools. And we've spent plenty of time on Big Ten campuses. The same goes for most of the Big 12 and many of the Big East and Pac-10 schools. What's more, we've got several relatives and friends who are alums of ACC schools. And we're well acquainted with Chapel Hill, Raleigh, Durham, Clemson, Charlottesville, Tallahassee and Miami. But to date, we've never set foot on the Wake Forest campus (or even in Winston-Salem, North Carolina).

So we're pleased to welcome guest blogger Izzy to Drive and Dish. Izzy is a Wake Forest student -- class of 2009 -- from Los Angeles, CA, and he maintains the fine NBA blog Dishing Dimes (he's also appeared on ESPN to discuss Wake Forest football and to represent Wake Forest in a debate with students from Duke). Izzy brings to Drive and Dish his insider's view of life at Wake Forest in the year of Wake's basketball rebirth:

What is it like to be a Student at Wake Forest?

Since my time at Wake Forest we have been a football school. Crazy, I know. Wake Forest has traditionally been thought of as a basketball school. In reality, that is what I cling to hailing from the Southern California. People ask, “Where is Wake Forest?” I explain that it is a school in North Carolina, and drop the names Tim Duncan and Chris Paul, sometimes to no avail. Aside from the academics, I don’t tell those people that Wake Forest is the 2nd smallest Division 1 School (behind Rice University) with only a bit over 4,000 undergraduates. I don’t tell those people that Wake Forest has beaten the mighty Duke Blue Devils two years in a row. I don’t tell them that we have been to the NCAA tournament 20 times in our school history and had 16 straight postseason appearances (the most in ACC history). No. I don’t tell them any of that because frankly, I don’t care. I’ve gotten used to the underdog label that Wake Forest is commonly ascribed. I’ve gotten used to being the forgotten nationally ranked university. We are the forgotten North Carolina school after Duke, Carolina, and NC State.

We like to think that Duke is our rival, but they have Carolina. That is how bad it has gotten over here. We have no defined rival. We play who we play. No one has any strong opinion about Wake Forest. We are the black sheep of the ACC. Seldom does anyone think of Wake Forest when they think of the ACC. In all honesty, if I didn’t go to Wake, I wouldn’t either. The two biggest programs in the country are in ACC country. Their shadows are seen in Terapin country all the way down to the University of Miami campus lake.

How do we get noticed? We rise to #1 in the country for the first time since Chris Paul’s tenure here in 2005. We beat North Carolina. We beat Duke. We beat Clemson. We go 16-0. We have one of the most underrated student sections in the country. A student section that prides itself on wearing the most obnoxious tie-die shirts, coming up with new chants, and harassing every away team that comes into Joel Coliseum. Simply put, Wake Forest sports are a way of life around here. We are the forgotten middle child of the ACC. We need to be heard every time we play.

With all that said, hopes are high around campus. We have been taken, once again, on the roller coaster ride of Wake Forest basketball. With three NBA caliber players in Jeff Teague, James Johnson and Al-Farouq Aminu, and with the tallest front line in the country, we scratch our heads when we lose. We haven’t lost to a ranked opponent yet this season. Every loss we have had has been in the conference. Yeah, you could say that it is just the instability of the ACC, but we truly believe that we can play with anyone in the country.

In all honesty, I think the student body is scared. We are scared that the team won’t get the benefit of the doubt when it comes tournament time. We know that Duke can lose to an unranked team and probably move up in the rankings. We know that when we lose to an unranked team it is death. We play with a chip on our shoulder. As of me writing this, we dismantled Georgia Tech, a team that we lost to earlier this season. We know what we need to do to be successful.

We have a couple of x-factors on our team, Chas MacFarlane and LD Williams. LD Williams is a good perimeter defender, but he is inconsistent on the offensive end. Chas MacFarlane obviously gives us good height down low, but he is an emotional player. That is not necessarily a bad thing. I think that if he channeled his emotions in the right way, we can be a successful team. I know that authors on this site have criticized Wake’s lack of maturity, and in all honesty, that is true. We are an immature team, but a Final Four appearance is not out of the question if we are able to find our identity, and work out the kinks in our game. Ish Smith is developing as a player. I have publicly questioned both Smith and Teague’s decision making, and they have both improved their decision making. The team has a lot of work to do in order to get to the Final Four level. March is a crazy month. So many factors play into the tournament. Sitting here and trying to dissect every bit of that is not going to give us a better picture. It is just my opinion. All we know is that college basketball has seen every single #1 team fall this season. It will make for a great tournament. Until then, all I can say and hope for it, Go Deacs!


Guest Writer

Author of

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

An Early Look at the NCAA Tournament Bubble

With just one month to go before the NCAA Tournament's "Selection Sunday," Bracketography (one of Drive and Dish's favorite websites) breaks down the teams on the proverbial NCAA "bubble."

Monday, February 16, 2009

UConn's No. 1 Streak Reaches Three Weeks

For the third straight week, Connecticut is the No. 1 ranked team in America. Thus far, the Huskies are the only team to keep the No. 1 ranking in the AP Top 25 for more than one week in calendar year 2009. Oklahoma remains at No. 2 and North Carolina remains at No. 3.

Pittsburgh and Memphis round out the top 5.

AP Top 25 (Feb. 16, 2009):

1 Connecticut (66) 24-2 1794
2 Oklahoma (4) 25-1 1709
3 North Carolina (2) 23-2 1676
4 Pittsburgh 24-2 1589
5 Memphis 22-3 1465
6 Michigan State 20-4 1443
7 Louisville 19-5 1280
8 Wake Forest 19-4 1217
9 Duke 20-5 1048
10 Marquette 21-4 1045
11 Missouri 22-4 1041
12 Villanova 20-5 983
13 Clemson 20-4 939
14 Arizona State 20-5 830
15 Kansas 20-5 651
16 Xavier 21-4 646
17 Gonzaga 19-5 599
18 Illinois 21-5 589
19 Purdue 19-6 582
20 UCLA 19-6 473
21 Butler 22-3 373
22 Washington 19-6 334
23 LSU 21-4 294
24 Syracuse 19-7 207
25 Dayton 23-3 194

Others Receiving Votes:
Texas 83, Utah State 72, Ohio State 45, Arizona 38, California 34, Utah 34, West Virginia 26, Florida State 18, Davidson 15, South Carolina 10, Minnesota 6, Boston College 5, Kentucky 5, Miami (FL) 2, Tennessee 2, Wisconsin 2, Brigham Young 1, Robert Morris 1

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Tidbits: UNC vs. Duke Edition

Tonight is the first of two nights that ESPN has been waiting for all year long: it's the first run of the annual North Carolina vs. Duke rivalry (a.k.a. the most hyped up sporting event this side of the Super Bowl).

In honor of tonight's big game, Drive and Dish is rolling out another installment of our ever-popular "Tidbits" feature. For those readers who are sick of the UNC vs. Duke hype, rest assured: not all of our "Tidbits" items pertain to the Duke vs. North Carolina game. However, we're not getting paid to write about the Mercer vs. the Citadel rivalry, so forgive us if we're a little UNC vs. Duke heavy today.

On second thought, we're not really getting paid to write about the North Carolina vs. Duke rivalry either. Our high six-figure blogging salaries were casualties of the recent economic downturn, so the Drive and Dish writers are now blogging pro bono (although thanks to the largess of the U.S. Senate, the "sports blog bailout" allocation in the stimulus bill will allow the twelve member Drive and Dish Editorial Board, the Drive and Dish Board of Directors, and the 21 year old Long Island Iced Tea- drinking, table-dancing, Pussycat Doll lookalike Drive and Dish interns to retain their usual high levels of compensation).

So before we start having second thoughts about the whole "pro bono blogging" thing (and before we start to resent the Editorial Board's high level of compensation and begin to demand salary caps for Editorial Board members ... damn those "suits!" ... workers of the world unite! ... viva la revolucion!), we present the "UNC vs. Duke 2009" edition of "Tidbits":

1. Ken Tysiac (a noted North Carolina hater, at least according to many Tar Heels fans) of the Charlotte Observer says that North Carolina is starting separate itself from Duke as a basketball power because of Roy Williams' superior recruiting:

“Not that Duke has recruited badly, but North Carolina has sort of exceeded them in recruiting,” said (Bob) Gibbons, the All-Star Sports recruiting analyst. “And the end result is the differential in the game performance.”

Just a few short years ago, Duke was widely considered the preeminent program in college basketball, and Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski was said to be able to get just about any recruit that he wanted. But Duke has gone just 2-5 against North Carolina recently, despite having won 15 of the the previous 17 games against the Tar Heels. And Raycom Sports analyst (and former Duke center) Mike Gminski thinks that North Carolina's recent dominance in the heated series is likely to further the Heels' recruiting advantage over Duke:

“Kids can't identify with history. They're too young.”

2., powered by Fox Sports and MSN previews tonight's North Carolina vs. Duke game. (Hey, wait a minute ... aren't Fox News and MSNBC supposed to be bitter, archenemies? Don't Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow make their livings by "speaking truth to power" to the nefarious "right wing fascist Nazis" at "Fixed News"? And don't Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity lampoon the "crazy liberals" at MSNBC and in the "mainstream media?" Isn't the Fox vs. MSNBC rivalry more heated and intense than the Duke vs. North Carolina rivalry? Don't tell me that the parent companies of the two cable news rivals are actually partners in some kind of cynical, capitalist, synergistic media alliance! Could the respective politics of the cable news enemies be little more than the result of programming decisions that had their roots in corporate media attempts to establish strong "brands" for their cable news entities? Oh, the horror!)

3. The ACC & SEC Blog also previews tonight's game and predicts a 1-5 point North Carolina win.

4. North Carolina's Tyler Hansbrough looks to go 4-0 vs. Duke at Duke's Cameron Indoor Stadium.

5. Drive and Dish gets frequent requests from readers to step up our coverage of mid-major college basketball. Many of those requests come from fans of a Horizion League programs (one or two programs in particular).

Ask and ye shall receive: coverage of Tuesday night's Wright State (OH) win over Loyola (Chicago) courtesy of the fine blog, Chicago College Basketball.

6. Michigan turned some heads earlier in the season when they upset then-No. 4 UCLA and then-No. 4 Duke in the space of two weeks. Hopes were high that Wolverines head coach John Beilein was in the process of reestablishing Michigan as an elite college basketball program. But the Wolverines trailed off somewhat after their hot start. However, all is not lost in Ann Arbor: after last week's nice win over Penn State and respective showing at No. 1 UConn, Michigan is still very much in the mix for a post-season berth. And considering the depths to which the once proud UM program had fallen to, John Beilein has done a nice job turning what was a moribund program around. Hoopraker looks at Michigan's climb back up to college basketball prominence.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Two Weeks and Counting: UConn Still No. 1 in AP Top 25

For the second straight week, the University of Connecticut Huskies are the No. 1 men's college basketball team in the nation. Until now, no team has held the No. 1 spot in the AP Top 25 for more than one week since the start of calendar year 2009.

What's more, Oklahoma has held on to its No. 2 ranking for the second week in a row. And although most of the elite teams have gone through ups and downs thus far in 2009, the newfound stability at the top of the AP Top 25 may be an indicator of things to come. With North Carolina ranked No. 3, Pittsburgh ranked No. 4 and Louisville ranked No. 5, it's beginning to look like the cream of college basketball is rising to the top.

AP Top 25 (Feb. 09, 2009):

Team Ranking Votes
1. Connecticut (67) 22-1 1,795
2. Oklahoma (3) 23-1 1,710
3. North Carolina (2) 21-2 1,672
4. Pittsburgh 21-2 1,583
5. Louisville 18-4 1,423
6. Duke 20-3 1,350
7. Wake Forest 18-3 1,242
8. Memphis 20-3 1,237
9. Michigan State 19-4 1,214
10. Marquette 20-3 1,137
11. UCLA 19-4 1,131
12. Clemson 19-3 1,097
13. Villanova 19-4 989
14. Xavier 20-3 893
15. Butler 21-2 762
16. Kansas 19-4 751
17. Missouri 20-4 395
18. Arizona State 18-5 389
19. Gonzaga 17-5 361
20. Purdue 17-6 353
21. Utah State 23-1 317
22. Illinois 19-5 303
23. Syracuse 18-6 280
24. Ohio State 17-5 216
25. Florida State 18-5 182

Others Receiving Votes
LSU 167, Washington 135, Texas 106, Florida 66, Minnesota 43, Dayton 31, California 16, Kansas State 8, West Virginia 8, South Carolina 7, Davidson 7, Miami (FL) 7, Utah 4, Arizona 4, San Diego State 2, Siena 2, Northeastern 2, Robert Morris 1, Boston College 1, Green Bay 1.

Dropped From Rankings
Texas 16, Minnesota 19, Washington 22.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

EA Sports: "Toughest Places to Play" in College Basketball

EA Sports has released the finalists of its "Toughest Places to Play" in men's college basketball poll. The fifteen finalists were chosen based on the voting of 100,000 fans. According to the EA Sports press release, "(c)ollege basketball fans can now vote at to create the official 'fans ballot' that will determine the final ranking of the 15 finalists."

EA Sports "Toughest Places to Play" in college basketball:

Clemson University (ACC)
Duke University (ACC)
Syracuse University (Big East)
UCLA (Pac-10)
University of Arkansas (SEC)
University of Florida (SEC)
University of Illinois (Big 10)
University of Kansas (Big 12)
University of Louisville (Big East)
University of Maryland (ACC)
University of North Carolina (ACC)
University of Pittsburgh (Big East)
University of Tennessee (SEC)
University of Texas (Big 12)
Xavier University (A10)

Clemson Hammers No. 4 Duke

Wednesday night, No. 10 Clemson beat No. 4 Duke 74-47. Trevor Booker had 21 points and Terrence Oglesby hit 5 three pointers to finish with 17 points for the Tigers (19-2, 5-2 Atlantic Coast Conference). K.C. Rivers tied a Clemson record by amassing seven steals.

Clemson fans stormed the court in Littlejohn Coliseum to celebrate the Tigers' first home win over Duke since 1997.

Duke's 47 points marked its lowest point total for the season. Gerald Henderson led Duke (19-3, 6-2) with 16 points.

BracketBuster Games Announced

The BracketBuster matchups have been for 2009. Kyle Whelliston has the rundown at " The Mid Majority."

Televised Games: (Times and ESPN network assignments will be announced Feb. 9)

Northern Iowa (Missouri Valley) at Siena (Metro Atlantic)
Butler (Horizon League) at Davidson (Southern)
Utah State (Western Athletic) at Saint Mary`s (West Coast)
Miami (Oh.) (Mid-American) at Evansville (Missouri Valley)
Illinois State (Missouri Valley) at Niagara (Metro Atlantic)
George Mason (Colonial) at Creighton (Missouri Valley)
Virginia Commonwealth (Colonial) at Nevada (Western Athletic)
Northeastern (Colonial) at Wright State (Horizon League)
Boise State (Western Athletic) at Portland State (Big Sky)
Buffalo (Mid-American) at Vermont (America East)
Wisconsin-Green Bay (Horizon League) at Long Beach State (Big West)
Hofstra (Colonial) at Fairfield (Metro Atlantic)
Liberty (Big South) at Old Dominion (Colonial)

Monday, February 2, 2009

Connecticut = No. 1 (Feb. 2)

Connecticut is the new No. 1 team in America. The Huskies replace Duke as the highest ranked team in the AP Top 25.

Last week, Duke replaced Wake Forest as the No. 1 ranked team in the AP poll. But Wake Forest beat Duke 70-68 on Wednesday, before falling to Georgia Tech on Saturday.

Oklahoma takes over the No. 2 position in this week's poll, and North Carolina moves up to No. 3. Duke and Louisville round out the top 5.

Drive and Dish has been skeptical of the claim that Wake Forest is a legitimate Final Four contender. After the Demon Deacons beat Duke, we adopted the position that Wake Forest has the requisite talent and the size needed to contend for a Final Four, but that they may not have enough maturity/experience to get them there this year. And we've also stated that North Carolina is likely to make a return trip to the Final Four, but that they're unlikely to win the National Championship. But make no mistake, the UConn Huskies are a legitimate Final Four and National Championship contender.

AP Top 25
1. Connecticut (64) 20-1 1,792
2. Oklahoma (5) 21-1 1,691
3. North Carolina (3) 19-2 1,639
4. Duke 19-2 1,563
5. Louisville 17-3 1,464
6. Pittsburgh 19-2 1,427
7. Wake Forest 17-2 1,409
8. Marquette 19-2 1,358
9. Xavier 19-2 1,176
10. Clemson 18-2 1,077
11. Butler 19-1 1,051
12. Purdue 17-4 961
13. Michigan State 17-4 876
14. Memphis 18-3 798
15. UCLA 17-4 787
16. Texas 15-5 724
17. Villanova 17-4 698
18. Gonzaga 16-4 632
19. Minnesota 18-3 426
20. Syracuse 17-5 415
21. Kansas 17-4 316
22. Washington 16-5 216
23. Illinois 18-4 198
24. Arizona State 16-5 146
25. Utah State 21-1 99

Others Receiving Votes
Dayton 95, Davidson 85, Missouri 39, Penn State 37, LSU 36, West Virginia 33, South Carolina 33, UNLV 29, Florida 24, Providence 14, USC 8, Notre Dame 7, Siena 4, Kansas State 4, Northeastern 3, Ohio State 3, Kentucky 2, Arizona 2, Florida State 1, Northern Iowa 1, Virginia Military 1.