Tag Archives: basketball

3 Things We Learned: 2013 March Madness

The Madness is over folks!

March Madness has come to an end and Louisville has proven to be the best team in the country by defeating Michigan 82 – 76 in the Championship Game of the 2013 Final Four at the Georgia Dome in HotLanta.

Here are three things we learned from the 2013 NCAA Tournament.

Andy Lyons/Getty Images
Louisville’s Rick Pitino becomes the only coach to win a title with two different schools.

1)    Rick Pitino is the Man!

Louisville head coach Rick Pitino has just solidified his place amongst the all-time great coaches in Division 1 history.  His postseason resume is staggering. He became the first coach to win the whole thing at two different schools (Kentucky ’96).  He is one of two coaches to lead three different teams to the Final Four (Calipari is the other but the Memphis years are vacated). He is also one of a pair of coaches to lead two teams to three Final Fours (Roy Williams). Pitino has coached a team to the Final Four in four different decades. His teams have made 18 tournament appearances, seven Finals Fours, and have won 11 conference tournaments over his 27 year career.

What do all these accomplishments mean? They mean Rick Pitino gets the job done when it counts the most. His up-tempo offensive attack combined with stifling, full court defensive pressure has led to 662 careers wins. That’s good for 22nd all-time, just two behind John Wooden!  It’s only fitting that a coach with as much style as Coach Pitino be named to the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame on the same day that he makes coaching history…and the scary part is…he ain’t done yet!!

Photo by John Lariviere
A high school basketball players misses a dunk as today’s youth lack fundamentals.

2)    The quality of play is down compared to years past.

The tournament is always exciting. It doesn’t really matter what teams are in it, or if there are any major “stars” showcasing their talents, because the NCAA has built the brand of March Madness to a point where it has become self sustaining.  Brackets, office pools, and Vegas lines are a driving force behind what has become a multi-billion dollar business.  The tournament will always be good.

It’s the quality of play that stinks…

Young athletes are fundamentally flawed because we live in a society that values entertainment over hard work.  Youngsters are taught, by their peers and by the media, that it’s cooler to have swag and style than it is to be fundamentally sound.  24/7 sports coverage on television shows nothing but dunks and flashy plays. This becomes engrained in the minds of young athletes who, instead of practicing bounce passes and foul shots, are practicing lob passes and dunks.

Frank Ordonez/The Post-Standard Jim Boeheim has dealt with bad refs at the University of Syracuse since 1962 when he a walk-on guard for the basketball team.

3)    The Refs STINK!!!

Can it get any worse?

I sure hope not because it’s really, really bad right now for these NCAA officials. There were a multitude of terrible calls throughout this NCAA tournament that affected the outcomes of games. Trey Burke had a clean block on Peyton Siva but was called for a foul because the referee anticipated contact.  There was a charge call on Syracuse guard Brandon Triche at the end of the Michigan game in the semifinal that could have changed the game.

My point is that the poor officiating has contributed to the lack of quality play from the student athletes.  When the officiating is inconsistent (and it sure has been in not only this tournament but in the conference tournaments as well) the players don’t know what to expect when it comes to what is going to be called on a game to game basis.  This uncertainty and confusion leads to poor execution because more split-second decisions have to be made by the athletes instead of allowing their natural instincts to prevail.  The combination of uncertainty and inexperience leads to poor basketball, which doesn’t help when the refs can’t even get it right!

March Madness did exactly what it was supposed to do, entertain and excite while providing unforgettable storylines that we will remember forever.  Kevin Ware’s injury, Rick Patino’s glory week, the Big East goes out with a bang, the Fab-5 reunites at the Final Four…yeah, I would say it was Madness…but at least you learned three things!!!

Pernetti Fired as Rutgers AD

AP via sportsillustrated.com

AP via sportsillustrated.com

As Ken Harrelson would say, “He gone”.

This morning I woke up to news that yet another Rutgers official would get the axe. This time it was their now infamous Athletic Director, Tim Pernetti. All of this comes after the release of countless hours of video portraying now fired basketball coach Mike Rice abusing and degrading his student-athletes. But you already knew that.

As my alma-mater flails in the public relations shit storm that seems to somehow make its way back to the New Brunswick campus every couple of years, I can’t help but feel sorry for Pernetti. As Athletic Director, Pernetti has done many great things for Rutgers University. Unfortunately, however, he fell victim to a viral video mixed with a hint of overreaction and a dash of  irresponsibility.

I’m not defending Rice here, or saying that Pernetti was unjustly fired. My feelings are that the media caught wind of this story and forced Rutgers into a decision that would please the nation and the professors who have been up in arms for years on the finances of the athletic department. As policy makers and journalist weighed in with their opinion, the snowball continued to roll downhill.

There is no denying that Pernetti acknowledged the situation back when he was first made aware of it. Although the punishment wasn’t as severe as every talking head would have hoped, there is no precedent for Pernetti to go off of here. He did what he thought was the right move with a suspension, a fine, and getting Mike Rice some counseling. Label me biased, but that seems like a responsible move that Pernetti and others on his staff agreed upon.

Sure, in retrospect, Pernetti could have reacted more harshly and fired Rice on the spot back in November. But does he deserve to be caught up in this “scandal” because his effort was not strong enough? If this is 10 years earlier, I think Pernetti keeps his job and this video stays on the hush hush.

Pernetti has been a great AD for Rutgers, getting them out of sinking ship that is the Big East and into the Big 10, handling the departure of Greg Schiano and finding a suitable replacement in Kyle Flood, and improving the program as a whole. I hope that Rutgers can soon find an athletic director and basketball coach who will push this dark cloud out to sea.

Weigh in on the matter here or on Twitter @theorangewedge.

Lakers Botch Shaq’s Retired Jersey

nba_u_shaqraft_cr_600

Jayne Kamin-Oncea/USA TODAY Sports

Notice Something a bit off?

It is obvious the Lakers have advanced their uniform design up in the rafters, but that is not the issue.

Can’t put your finger on what’s wrong? Well, either Shaq was so narcissistic that he wore “O’Neal” on the front where the “Lakers” logo should be, or he flaunted a v-back (a v-neck shirt in the back).

The Lakers acknowledged the mistake and have plans to fix the uniform.

Conspiracy theory: Kobe was actually responsible for this  in effort to one-up Shaq, again. Even if he didn’t do it, you can guarantee Kobe is having a good chuckle knowing that his jersey will receive finer attention to detail when his time comes. Oh yeah,  Kobe also had a triple-double on the day Shaq’s jersey was retired. Coincidence? Don’t be so naive!

LNS: Andy Enfield Leaves #DunkCity for USC

andy-enfield-fgcu-coach

Dunk City is heading back, back, to Cali, Cali.

Coach Andy Enfield, the mastermind behind the NCAA tournament’s most successful 15 seed, has been hired as the new head man at USC. Early reports indicate it is a six-year deal, and could earn Enfield as much as $1 million annually. Enfield’s salary at FGCU was $157,000.

Enfield is a fresh face that has burst into the national spotlight, and that plays very well in talent-rich southern California. But the task won’t be easy, as USC has been one of the Pac-12’s worst schools in recent years. Tim Floyd’s ugly exit left the program with instability and a handful of sanctions to go along with it.

But can he turn it all around? It’s not impossible. There are a few qualities that make Andy Enfield a quality coach. First, he is a skilled shooting coach. A big part of FGCU’s sudden success was attributed to Enfield and his staff working with players improving their shooting. Yes, they also practice dunking, but there’s no denying that these kids played far better than expected under Enfield’s tutelage, and that speaks towards hard work in practice.

But Andy Enfield can make the biggest difference on the recruiting trail. The top players on FGCU were the only three Enfield was able to lure there, and it probably wasn’t easy. After their win over Georgetown, Enfield told a story during the press conference where he was on the phone with potential recruit Brett Comer while his wife was giving birth. Definition of dedication, people. The guy is super competitive, has the ability to charm recruits, and has a smoking hot wife. Did you really think he was going to stay in Fort Meyers?

Is FGCU going to get over it? Probably not. But this is what college basketball has become. Heck, an even bigger heist took place a few days ago when Steve Alford dashed to UCLA. Programs that have money will spend it. We all talked about how crazy it was that FGCU’s program had X dollars and Florida had Y dollars and yet they were competing. But the same comparison that inspired the Eagles last week is today’s downfall. It’s not fair, but neither is business. And colleges are business, make no mistake about it.

Breakfast: Whoops.

Chicago's Jimmy Butler celebrates during a timeout. His 17 points helped Chicago to a 101-97 victory (Rob Grabowski/USATodaySports)

Chicago’s Jimmy Butler celebrates during a timeout. His 17 points helped Chicago to a 101-97 victory (Rob Grabowski/USATodaySports)

Wow, my bad.

I don’t usually put a curse on these type of things, that is, unless I’m making a monetary wager. BUT I DIDN’T. Actually, TheOrangeWedge has a guy for sports betting, but we’ll get to that another time.

The record still stands. Did Jerry West pop a bottle of champagne? I’d love to say yes, but we’ll never know for sure.

The Bull’s physical brand of basketball was enough to hold off the Heat as the Bulls ended the streak last night with a 101-97 victory.

The Heat didn’t win 27 games in dominating fashion. In fact, eleven of those wins needed fourth quarter comebacks to keep the streak going. Tight games in Sacramento, then Orlando, then Boston will have LeBron and Co. battle-tested come June.

But do they even need it? The way they’ve been playing, it would be lucrative to think that anyone could beat the Heat once, let alone four times in seven games.

In the late game, my Brooklyn Nets looked in fine form without “Iso” Joe Johnson for a second game. Johnson is suffering from a quad bruise, and his absence allows for two developments. First, Deron Williams, on what look like his healthiest metatarsals in years, was allowed to be more aggressive to the basket. The second is that without Johnson, the Nets are bigger, tougher, and more active in the post. Last night was all about the latter, as the Nets looked great on the road, winning 111-97 in Portland.

The difference maker for Brookyln was Reggie Evans, who finished with a career high 26 rebounds to match a career-high 22 points. Evans was a monster, working all his post moves and getting putbacks all night long.

The Nets are now just 2.5 games back of both Indiana and the Knicks for the 2nd best record in the Eastern Conference. Last night’s win has to provide some motivation as they move to 4-1 on their current 8 game road trip.

As for the Blazers, last night may have effectively ended their season. Rip City has been fighting for the 8th seed in the West, but now trails 10th place Dallas by two full games. Late in the fourth quarter, Blazers coach Terry Stotts emptied his bench, a sign that fans may want to watch the Sweet 16 for potential lottery picks.

Breakfast: Knicks Struggling Out West

Tyson Chandler has started all 62 games for the Knicks this season (Aaron Ontiveroz/Denver Post via Getty Images)

Tyson Chandler has started all 62 games for the Knicks this season (Aaron Ontiveroz/Denver Post via Getty Images)

In a month nothing but the Heat will matter in the Easter Conference, so for now let’s talk a little Knicks. Boy, November feels like ages ago; when Rasheed Wallace was backing down fools in the Garden and teams were still lazy on defense. But as they begin their annual slide down the East standings, the Knicks are hurting right now in more ways than one.

It’s more than watching Tyson Chandler crumpled on the floor before the half of last night’s 23 point loss in Denver. It’s more than Carmelo, in his first game back in Denver, was awful from the field, clearly hindered by swelling in his right knee. It’s way more than Amare Stoudemire, who, despite playing somewhat effective basketball for the past three weeks, is back in a suit and will never be a consistently healthy athlete ever again.

The Knicks, in the midst of a brutal five game road trip, are being exposed as mentally weak as well as physically unstable. This is the second consecutive game that was over in the 3rd quarter, and they still have to travel to Portland and Utah, who are combined 43-19 at home.

Between those games is a matinee with Lob City, maybe the worst matchup for the Knicks right now. The athleticism and youth of the Clippers might make Kenyon Martin pass out.

Kenyon Martin. We need to talk about the Knicks rotation right now. This roster is filled with jump shooters, but now that the Knicks are running out of big men, there’s no way this team can compete. James White is getting more minutes, but from what I’ve seen thus far is best skill is without a doubt fouling. Iman Shumpert looks to be getting back to full strength, but his offensive game is so limited right now he can’t be the primary weapon on the floor. And that leaves me with J.R Smith, the man I’d never want to play a game of pick-up hoops with.

Smith is one of the NBA’s most frustrating scorers. The definition of streaky, Smith will occasionally make an improbable highlight-reel worthy shot, giving him liberty to jack up 20 more. But now with all the injuries, Smith has gone from a spark off the bench to depending on his shooting to generate offense. And it just isn’t working.

Have the Knicks been quitting? That’s not fair to say. But this team desperately needs rest, and they aren’t going to get it right now. The Knicks have one of the oldest rosters in the NBA, and right now it is a glaring flaw. Because not only to the best teams in the league right now have youth, most of them like to run. A lot. And from what I’ve learned, old guys don’t run like young guys.

I’m not saying the Knicks won’t make the playoffs. Hey, if they end up paired with the Hawks or Bulls, they might even grab a win or two. But this is a fighter on wobbly legs. And whether they realize it or not, they just can’t seem to punch back as strong as before. We’ll update this situation as we learn more about the knees of Melo and Chandler. Stay tuned.

Food for Thought: New Adidas Jersey’s are…?

The Big East Tournament has me captivated today. The Cincinnati Bearcats took on the Providence Friars in a second round match up that had no hype and no real reason for me to watch. Frankly, I couldn’t care less about the outcome and I really didn’t want to watch either of these bubble teams.

But I did. And it was all because of the uniforms.

(AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

(AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

Adidas recently released 6 new jerseys for its flagship schools: Cincinnati, Baylor, Kansas, Louisville, UCLA, and Notre Dame. Now I know am a little late to the game, but after getting my first glimpse of in game action, I still don’t know what to think about seeing these fashion forward uniforms. Are they cool? Obnoxious?

(AP Photo/Adidas)

(AP Photo/Adidas)

At first, Cincinnati appears to be the sharpest with nice contrast and a good color combination. Overall, not that bad. But after watching them in game, I found the others. If it was just Cinci rocking these uniforms, I could get over. Heck, I’d probably even endorse it. But as for the others…I am fairly certain my eyes will bleed before the buzzer sounds.

I don’t exactly know what Adidas is going for, but if High School Lax bro was their goal, they nailed it. The shorts are right off the practice field, flaunting an obnoxious pattern with bright color highlights. Throw some shoulder pads under that pinnie and you have a full on laxer rocking a fitted cap and some sweet “flow”. The Notre Dame team most likely reacted like this when seeing their new attire.

As for the other teams, I don’t know if they were psyched or horrified.

Are these jerseys the nice? I for one am still trying to figure out if that is zebra print or some sort of camouflage. Either way, I’ll be watching all six teams, who at this point, appear to be tournament bound.

Weigh in with your thoughts here or hit us up on Twitter @TheOrangeWedge.