Read Everything That Dunks Must Converge

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by Bryan Harvey

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by Bryan Harvey

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A world of child soldiers & cowboys
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To their own devices: Pablo Larrain's 'The Club'

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by Bryan Harvey

Breakfast with Berndon: Late Lunch Edition

February 22, 2010


It's Monday again, and you know what that means--it's time for Breakfast with Berndon. This week, he takes a deeper look at the mid-majors, waits for the Pac-10 to show him something-anything, and -quite possibly - gives Duke their due.
Around the “Power” 6
Mid-Majors

In honor of Bracket Buster weekend, we’re going to let the little guys lead off today. I put 8 of these teams into a mini-conference for comparison. Richmond and Temple both won their A-10 games to stay at the top of this league, while Butler and Northern Iowa won one conference game apiece and home games in the bracket buster tourney. New Mexico and BYU both went 2-0 in Mountain West match-ups, while Gonzaga lost to Loyola Marymount and then beat Pepperdine. Last and definitely least, Siena blew a golden opportunity in Indianapolis, losing by 17 to Butler.

Ascending: New hometown biases aside, Butler is playing really well right now. They essentially blew out Siena, and haven’t been touched in the Horizon league this season, with only one more conference game left. Look for the Bulldogs to win the conference tournament as well, setting themselves up for a 4 or 5 seed in the dance.

Descending: As I stated previously, Siena missed a great chance to lock up an at-large bid by losing and losing badly to Butler. Now, they’ll have to win the Metro Atlantic tournament to get in.

Player of the Week: Darington Hobson of New Mexico doesn’t get much publicity, but the 6’7” juco transfer does a nice little Evan Turner impression in terms of stuffing the stat sheet. Hobson averaged 18.5 points, 9 rebounds, and 5.5 assists for the Lobos in their two wins.

Game of the Week: New Mexico heads to BYU in more than likely the least publicized top 25 clash of the season. The Mountain West regular season title, along with seeding implications, makes this a game to watch. If the Lobos can stop Jimmer Fredette and the other long-range bombers, the Lobos can win the league.

ACC

Duke handled Miami on the road, then beat the Hokies in Durham to stay at the top with an 11-2 mark. Maryland still has an outside chance at winning the league, as they sit at 9-3 right now, with the Blue Devils still having to venture to College Park, which has never been easy for them.

Ascending: I absolutely hate to do it, but Duke finally gets some B.Brody love, as they seem to be the class of the conference this year. They’ll probably flame out as per usual in the tourney because they still lack any post scoring and rely too heavily on the three ball, but, with Brian Zoubek becoming a “monster” on the boards as of late, they’ve made some improvements. (I can’t believe I just typed a complimentary sentence about Brian Zoubek and it didn’t involve talking about him missing layups or being a waste of space).

(Photo courtesy of http://www.goduke.com/)
                                                        
Descending: UVA was a cute little story at the beginning of conference play, but Tony Bennett’s squad has lost 4 in a row since I started churning out this Pulitzer-quality analysis. They’ve now fallen to 5-7 in league play, and have pretty much blown any chance they have for dancing in March.

Player of the Week: Greivis Vazquez was dominant once again for Maryland, but we’re going to be fair here at Breakfast, since he already got a certificate I’m picking Kyle Singler. With Scheyer’s offensive production slowing down a bit, Singler has stepped it up. For the week, he went for 23.5 points, and 10.5 boards, providing inside and outside excellence for Satan’s favorite team.

Games of the Week: Clemson has a great chance to climb back into the top 25, with games at Maryland and Florida St. Maryland also has to travel to Blacksburg, with the winner looking to sew up 2nd place.

Big East

Syracuse beat a good Georgetown team on the road, taking a one game lead over Villanova. Pitt climbed into the top four and a potential two game bye in the conference tourney, as they are now 10-4 and tied with West Virginia for third.

Ascending: UCONN got their coach, and a small dose of their swagger back, as they went to Villanova and Rutgers, coming away with two big road wins. The Huskies may not be dead yet, and if they can win out, still have a tremendous chance to be in the tourney.

Descending: I’ve been high on Villanova all year. I think Jay Wright is one of the best young coaches in the country, and I saw a repeat Final Four trip in their future. That being said, they looked bad this week. I question whether they are too reliant on Scottie Reynolds, who has led the team in scoring in 19 of their 26 games. The Cats need Antonio Pena, Taylor King, or one of their freshmen to step up and ease Reynolds’ load if they want to go anywhere.

Player of the Week: Wesley Johnson started out the season as a potential All-America candidate, yet has been playing hurt and has fallen off some. The junior Iowa St. transfer came up huge against the Hoyas however, as he had 16 points, 8 rebounds, and 5 blocks.

Games of the Week: We’ll see if I jinx UCONN right away, as they tackle the Mountaineers on Monday night. Louisville gets tested twice, with a home contest against Georgetown, followed by a trip to Connecticut. The biggest game has to be Villanova-Syracuse, with the Orange expected to set attendance records at the Carrier Dome for this game that may decide the regular season champion.

Big 12

I feel like all I ever talk about with the Big 12 is how Kansas is really good, and Texas sucks. So keep an eye on Kansas St. The other recruits in the Michael Beasley class can play as well, with Jacob Pullen and Dominique Sutton leading the way for the 22-4 Wildcats.

Ascending: If Kansas ends up playing Kentucky in the National Championship, it’s going to be a hell of a game. Both these teams seem to be a notch or two above everyone else right now, and, with the Jayhawks getting more production out of Cole Aldrich and Xavier Henry, they’ve been on a roll.

Descending: Pat Knight has been imitating his father’s lack of success at Texas Tech to a tee as of late, as the Red Raiders have crashed and burned, going from a top 25 team earlier in the season, to a squad that right now sits in a tie for 8th in the league.

Player of the Week: I’m not necessarily sold on Cole Aldrich. While I don’t necessarily see him doing anything in the NBA, that doesn’t matter on the college circuit. Aldrich averaged 14.5 points, 10 boards, and 5 blocks for Rock Chalk as they went 2-0.

Games of the Week: Just like last week, there is a logjam in spots 2-7, with 6 teams only separated by two games. Oklahoma St. gets Texas on the road, than plays Kansas at home. If the Cowboys can split these, they’ll be close to cementing their place in the tourney. Texas A&M-Baylor, Missouri-Kansas St, and Texas-Texas A&M also are games that will impact some resumes.

Big 10

Purdue took a one-game lead over Michigan St and Ohio St, beating the Buckeyes in Columbus on Tuesday. They will probably be number 3 in today’s poll, and look like an elite 8 team at a minimum. Wisconsin and Illinois are still lurking as well.

Ascending: Purdue got a gigantic win on the road, and if they can beat Michigan St. at home on Sunday, the league championship is all but sewn up. With contributions off the bench from Keaton Grant (14 ppg in the last 2), they’ve found another option to ease the load that E’twaun Moore, Jajuan Johnson, and Robbie Hummel have been carrying.

(photo courtesy of Kulas Korner)

Descending: With apologies to both my father and the great Michael Wilbon, the Evanston Express has grinded to a halt. This will not be the first time Northwestern makes the tourney, as you cannot lose at home to Penn St. and drop to 6-8 in the conference. Sorry, pops, I know you’ve been cheering for the Wildcats this season with all of the Chicago-area talent on their roster, but it could be worse. You could like UNC.                                               

Player of the Week: Robbie Hummel probably shouldn’t get the nod here after only putting up 4 points at Ohio St, but he came back to put up a 22-12 against Illinois on Saturday, also adding 2 steals and 2 blocks.

Games of the Week: Purdue goes to Minnesota and have to fight off overlooking the Gophers before the showdown at home against Sparty. If they can get consistent efforts from their big three of Moore, Johnson, and Hummel look for the Boilers to claim the regular season crown.

SEC

The SEC East is loaded, as they have probably the top 4 teams in the whole conference with Kentucky, Vanderbilit, Tennessee, and Florida. Meanwhile, in the West, Mississippi St. is the only team that still holds onto their tournament aspirations, as Ole Miss has faltered.

Ascending: My creativity is waning at this point, as I’m again going to go with Kentucky here. Despite playing rather terribly in Nashville on Saturday, the Cats prevailed thanks to John Wall’s last-minute heroics. These are the types of games that will make Kentucky better in March, as they had to fight and claw to eek out the win. (Get it, fight and claw, and their nickname is the Wildcats. I’m a genius).

Descending: As I mentioned, much like Texas Tech, Ole Miss was in the top 25 for a good portion of the season, yet the Rebs now sit at 5-7 and 17-9 overall. I’ve seen them play, and they have a nice little squad that should be better than what they are.

Player of the Week: The likely first overall selection in the draft saved the game against Vandy, with a key block in the closing seconds. Wall also went off against Mississippi St, with 18 points, 10 rebounds, 8 assists, 3 steals and 2 blocks. For me, Wall is the anti-Cole Aldrich, as it’s pretty much a given he will be a great NBA player for years to come. We’ll see if he can pull a Carmelo and win a title what will probably be his only college season.

Games of the Week: Tennessee has a rough week ahead of them.  They go to Florida on Tuesday night and then get Kentucky at home on Saturday. Kentucky also gets a rematch against the one team that took them down, playing South Carolina in Lexington.

Pac 10

Dear Pac 10;

Please come see me when you aren’t a one-bid league. Then you will regain my trust and I will gladly write about your conference. As of right now, you’re dead to me.

Love Always,
Brendan

Game Recaps
Monday: 
Kansas 59, Texas A&M 54: Before I break this game down, I have to say that Brent Musberger is scared of Bobby Knight. Or at least I can hypothesize this (if hypothesize is even a word) from the difference between his announcing on Monday’s with Knight compared to Tuesday’s with Steve Lavin, where he sounds like he just smoked two blunts and got blown by three hookers. He’s almost giddy to not be in fear that Knight is a stupid comment or sentence away from berating him like he just missed a free throw against Purdue. On to the festivities, as Kansas was outplayed for 36 minutes, Sherron Collins did nothing, and yet, because they went 12-16 at the charity stripe in contrast to the Aggies going 4-9, they kept their number one ranking in tact. Greg Ostertag 2k10, aka Cole Aldrich, put up 12 points, 10 rebounds, and 5 blocks to lead the Jayhawks. Marcus Morris and his twin brother Markieff combined for 21, while David Loubeau had 17 for A&M.

Man of the Match: Cole Aldrich 12 pts, 10 rbs, 5 blks

Saturday
Purdue 75, Illinois 65: I have to soften my stance on the Big 10 a little bit, since I called it “the conference of no athleticism” a couple of weeks ago. Moving smack dab in the middle of Northwest Indiana, I’m not getting my usual diet of ACC and Big East contests, so I have to make due. Luckily, I haven’t seen any 41-38 games as of yet. Purdue doesn’t seem like it on first glance, but they definitely have some solid, athletic players, and they have to be considered a sleeper Final Four pick. They took care of the Illini at home today, as Robbie Hummel put up a 22-12, including 12-12 at the line. Purdue made 24-28 on the day, and won despite an anemic effort from one of their big three, as Jajuan Johnson went 1-10 and only scored 5. Illinois hung around mostly because of the efforts of Demetri McCamey and his school record 16 assists. Virginia native and TC Williams alum Mike Davis chipped in a 16-12 with 5 blocks.
Man of the Match: Robbie Hummel 22-12, 2 stls, 2 blks

Kentucky 58, Vanderbilt 56: If this one was a football game, it would have been Pittsburgh-Baltimore. The teams combined to shoot 34% from the field and 14% from distance. Vandy hung in even though they shot 2-20 from 3. With Kentucky up 1, John Wall made a gigantic defensive stop, blocking John Jenkins’ 3 that would have potentially put the Commodores ahead. Wall did not have a stellar effort statistically, but made that huge play and ended up with 13. DeMarcus Cousins had 19, and Patrick Patterson had 13 points and 13 boards. Two observations before I go: First, Jeffrey Taylor of Vandy is a stud in the making. He might be player of the year in the SEC next year, as he’s 6’9” with a diverse skill set that’s only going to improve with one more year. Secondly, I’m still picking Kentucky to win it all, but if I do this, it’s going to be a rollercoaster ride watching them play in March. All these freshmen seem to have combustible personalities, as today it was Eric Bledsoe, not Cousins who had a meltdown and picked up a technical for pushing Taylor off the ball. It seems like anything is in play with Kentucky, ranging from potential greatness to them getting beat in the first round because they can’t handle the pressure. I can definitely see one of them pulling a Chris Webber and calling a timeout at the wrong time.  Still, they keep winning, but I’m not sure they have it all together upstairs, or will by dance time. John Wall seems to be the Jalen Rose type leader who is the most talented and mature of the bunch, so he needs to take over more and get past his inconsistencies.
Man of the Match: DeMarcus Cousins 19-5 3 stls

Fun Fact 1: I have picked BYU to win their first-round game the last two years and they have lost. This fact, combined with how Mormon girls were always really hot yet you have zero chance of ever getting anywhere with them, makes me dislike and distrust them. Look for BYU to still lose in the first round.


(Photo courtesty of WikiTree)
                                                               
Fun Fact 2: As I channel my inner Harry Caray voice, did you know that E’twaun spelled backwards is Nuawte. (Harry used to do that every single time Andres Galarraga ever came up to bat when the Cubs played to Expos. As a little kid, I thought this was hilarious).

2 comments:

Langston said...

If you really want to know why there is such a big difference between the SEC East and West, take a look at the coaches. In the east you have Billy Donovan, Bruce Pearl, John Calipari, Kevin Stallings, Darrin Horn, and Mark Fox. In the West you have Jeff Lebo, Anthony Grant, John Pelphrey, Trent Johnson, Andy Kennedy, and Rick Stansbury. If that doesn't do it for you, take at the look at the salaries. The three highest paid coaches and six of the top nine are from the East. While big salaries don't always translate to success, they do show a commitment to winning. The salaries make it easier to get those big names, which in-turn, make it easier to bring in the top flight recruits.

February 22, 2010 at 5:03 PM
berndon4 said...

You're right. Although Trent Johnson has had some success at both Stanford and LSU, the bigger names and better coaches are in the East. Donovan, Calipari, and Bruce Pearl are all really good, and Kevin Stallings is under the radar, but Vandy is always decent at least every other year or so. Mark Fox has also improved Georgia a lot.

February 23, 2010 at 12:13 AM

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