February is living up to its reputation here in the northeast. Single digit temperatures combined with forty mile per hour gusts have denizens shivering. Mix today’s weather conditions with Saturday’s air in the forty degree range, and my yard has become a sheet of glass – anyone for a little back yard hockey?
Also living up to its reputation is college hoops. With March around the corner and teams vying for an invite to the dance, college basketball is its usual maddening self.
UNC needed two overtimes, a chair, and a whip to fend off the Tigers of Clemson. The Huskies of Washington disposed of #4 UCLA. Louisville impounded the #6 Hoyas of Georgetown. Purdue trapped the #8 Badgers of Wisconsin.
Meanwhile other top teams barely survived. #2 Duke shrugged off its Tar Heel hangover to overcome Boston College. #20 Vandy outlasted SEC foe, South Carolina. #21 Notre Dame brought down #16 Marquette, and #7 Tennessee squeaked by LSU.
All of this past weekend’s thrilling action was foreshadowed earlier. Both #25 Pittsburgh and #14 Xavier needed last second shots to win on Thursday night.
Tyler Hansbrough and Danny Green led the Tar Heels back from a fifteen-point second-half deficit to continue their home dominance of Clemson. The last time the Tigers won in Chapel Hill, Dwight Eisenhower was President. Clemson has taken the Heels to overtime twice this season.
Anyone needing to understand the value of a point guard needs to look no further than North Carolina. With Ty Lawson sitting on the bench for the second game in a row, the Heels barely avoided back-to-back home losses. Wednesday night Duke pulled away from Carolina, 89-78. Without Lawson the Heels which average over twenty points per game running transition, managed only four points against the Blue Devils from running the floor. To make things worse the Blue Devil half-court defense, not having to worry about Lawson’s dribble penetration, was able to step up and deny entry passes.
The Heels weren’t the only top-five team to fall to a conference rival. Three days after being booed off their home court, the Washington Huskies rebounded and knocked off the number four Bruins 71-61. Junior Jon Brockman grabbed seventeen boards and scored twelve while Justin Dentmon chipped in twenty off the bench. Check out Husky Tim Morris using Alfred Aboya’s face to avoid a five-second violation.[youtube=http://youtube.com/watch?v=7ZXPAl4-8f8]
Saturday night Rick Pitino overcame a half-time wardrobe malfunction, and the Louisville Cardinals upset #6 Georgetown 59-51. With his Cardinals trailing by eight in the first half, Pitino’s all-white suit started to show signs of perspiration. Pitino looked like a cross between Mark Twain and John Travolta. When the teams returned for the second half, Pitino had changed into his traditional black suit, and the Cardinals outscored the Hoyas by sixteen.
Freshman Robbie Hummel scored twenty-one as the Boilermakers jumped out to a ten-point half-time lead and held on to beat Wisconsin 72-67.
Duke shrugged off a one-point deficit at half to beat BC, 90-80. Vandy needed a last second fade-away jumper by Jermaine Beal to down South Carolina, 66-65. Notre Dame and Marquette were like two champion fighters trading punches with the Irish getting in the last and winning 86-83. The Volunteers may have been looking ahead to a date with #1 Memphis as they barely got by LSU, 47-45.
Also #11 Butler and #12 Texas trailed at half before coming back to win – Butler knocking off Wisconsin-Green Bay, 62-57, and Texas beat Iowa State, 71-65.
The weekend’s madness started Thursday when Derrick Brown’s put-back led Xavier over St. Louis, 70-68. The Billikens had overcome a thirteen-point deficit in the game. Also Ronald Ramon nailed a three-pointer as time expired to lead the Pitt Panthers over West Virginia, 55-54. The Mountaineers have to feel a little snake-bitten. Earlier this season West Virginia was denied a victory over Georgetown when a last-second shot block appeared to be goaltending.
Rebounds & Put-backs:
Who is more valuable: Tony Parker or Kevin Garnett? With the two stars sidelined by injuries, the Celts topped the Spurs, 98-90. Whose absence was more missed?
Pundits have suggested that point guard play will doom the Celtics’ playoff chances. Rajon Rondo is taking these criticisms to heart. The second-year player dished out twelve assists and grabbed ten rebounds in the Boston victory.
Can Shaq make a difference in Phoenix? The one thing standing in the Suns’ way of making it to the finals seems to be defense and in particular slowing down Tim Duncan. I don’t see the acquisition of Shaq working to that end.
Charlie Weis has relinquished his play-calling responsibilities. How will this impact the Irish?
Scary incident in Buffalo last night: Richard Zednik took a skate to the neck. Thank God he is resting comfortably in a Buffalo hospital.
The Sabres went on to win the game. Buffalo is undefeated in their last eight.
I would be remiss if I avoided the weekend’s top story: Brian McNamee and Mrs. Clemens. Is there anyone out there, who upon hearing this story and recovering from its silliness, didn’t at least envision McNamee injecting the wife. Was she wearing her bikini?
Anyone ever heard of Dior Lowhorn? He has the distinction of being the only college hoopster to play for two coaches that have won 800 games. After transferring from Texas Tech where he was coached by Bobby Knight, Diow now plays for Eddie Sutton at the University of San Francisco.
First time ever I cheered for Chelsea, and the Blues played Liverpool to a stalemate. Everton is that much closer to controlling their destiny for qualification in the Champions League.
The Sox signed Kevin Youkilis to a one-year contract. Yipppeeee!!!!
Where will Randy Moss play next year?
I just saw a replay of Tyree’s helmet catch.