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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

3/31/09- TWD's Agenda For The Day: He Inherited, Not Created, The Mess That We Are In

Image from the Washington Post/ABC News
You can find fault with the moves of the Obama Administration in their banking plan. And you can also be a little critical of yesterday's sledge hammer to failed former GM CEO Rick Wagoner in comparison to the President's tempered response to Wall Street CEO'S (though the stress tests of the banks in a few weeks will give a better indication.

But for anyone to even bring up or question whether Barack Obama is culpable for the financial crisis is about as ridiculous as thinking the return of Fast and the Furious will merit it an Oscar next year. The Washington Post/ABC Poll released last night, to the chagrin of those in the media pushing this bull, properly places the blame on who placed us into this mess.

But that won't stop those wonderful cable journalists from asking the question still. AHehehehe

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Elite 8 To Final Four what Regional Finals have in store Riebeil Durley-Petty

Riebeil Durley-Petty
Elite 8 To Final Four what Regional Finals have in store
The cream of the crop has risen and the field has been narrowed to the Elite 8. UConn and Missouri are vying for Regional supremacy. Now it’s time to see who can cement their admission to Ford Field and prove they truly are that deal at the Final Four.
West Regional Final #1UConn vs. #3 Missouri Saturday 4:40 PM
UConn keys to the game- Embattled head coach Jim Calhoun’s Huskies have bulldozed through the tourney thus far by an average of 31 points and UConn will look to continue their dominance against the relentless Tigers. UConn expectedly disposed of Purdue, 72-60 on the strength of All-America center Hasheem Thabeet’s 15 point, 15 rebound, 4 block performance. Obviously UConn will have to rely on their huge post advantage. Thabeet, aka Mutombo Jr. is a mobile big man and fared well against similar up tempo Big East team Marquette playing 36 minutes and finishing with 14 points, 15 boards and 5 swats in a 93-82 win February 25. Though Mizzou’s big men DeMarre Carrol and Leo Lyons are talented they are really small forwards impersonating inside players and can’t match up with Thabeet and Jeff Adrien. The brutalizing Adrien in particular should have an advantage over Lyons who has a tendency to provide the defensive stoutness of a piece of crumb cake. As great as Mizzou’s perimeter defense is Memphis proved they’re vulnerable inside scoring a ridiculous 60 points in the paint in Mizzou’s 102-91 triumph. UConn will need to pound the rock in the paint incessantly and look for the slashing athletic rim-wrecker Stanley Robinson to slash to the cup and feast on the Tigers flaccid interior defense.
Amityville, New York native A.J. Price is used to a fast-paced, streetball game but he’ll have to be vigilant of not getting swindled into Mizzou’s frenetic run and gun approach. Price, freshman guard Kemba Walker and Craig Austrie will have to be selective with their transition opportunities and not diverge too much from the bash and slash gameplan. UConn is a prolific scoring team, dropping 89 points a night in the tourney, but they can’t match Mizzou’s combustibility and can ill-afford to let the game spiral out of control. Walker will need to use his propensity to get to the cup, and Price and Austrie will have to drill some jumpers or the Tigers could run UConn out the building like Memphis, who shot abhorrently outside the paint.
Missouri keys to the game- Pressure, pressure and more pressure! Mizzou has absolutely no business being here. They were picked to finish 7th in the Big 12 and continue to drudge in the conference doldrums. Thankfully for Mizzou faithful, head coach Mike Anderson has proven to be the programs George Jefferson and move the Tigers up to a deluxe position in the Elite 8 after clocking Memphis in the West Regional Semifinals. Because of the Tigers improbable run they have absolutely no pressure on them and. They lampin back icin and have nothing to lose. That only amplifies their dangerousness. Mizzou will look to capitalize on UConn’s dearth of ballers, draining them with their full court anarchy and wave of 11 players. J.T. Tiller and Zaire Taylor will try to smother UConn’s guards like a plate of hashbrowns, and “Junkyard Dog” Carroll will look to burglarize the pill with his ravenous traps. Matt Lawrence scored 13 points against Memphis and supplied some timely run extinguishing trifectas. Lawrence, Kim English, Taylor and Marcus Denmon will need to be prepared to bust some triples because Tiller will have to kick the orange out occasionally because of Thabeet’s ability to alter shots.
Carrol and Lyons may be giving up size but they, along with the rest of the Tigers definitely aren’t lacking in the confidence. They’re the hardwood epitome of Bonecrusher’s I ain’t never scared hit. They’re a fearless, audacious crew that will keep coming. Carrol and Lyons will need to use their quickness advantage and capability to create off the bounce to attack Adrien and Thabeet in particular. It’s obligatory Lyons occupies Thabeet and lures him away from the lane to clear the pathway and enable the guards to get some clean looks and constrict Thabeet’s domineering presence. Lyons and Carrol will also have to be ready to bang and swang because Thabeet (13.7 ppg, 10.9 boards) and Adrien (13.7 ppg, 10 boards) both average double-doubles and will be hitting the glass fiercely. If Mizzo rebounds well collectively, not even having to win the board battle but is at least keeps a reasonable disparity it will go long way towards them pulling the huge upset.
Prediction- This is a ill classic dichotomy of styles. UConn’s Big East punishing power game versus Mizzou’s frenzied full court mania. For UConn gaining a decisive edge on the defensive window is crucial because if the Huskies own the boards they can handicap Mizzou’s ability to press because the Tigers need to score to set up their swarming helter-skelter defense. If UConn successfully negates the press the loss of Jerome Dyson won’t expose UConn’s suspect ball-handling as much. UConn can also get fast-break buckets because Mizzou’s devoid of shot-blocking and marginal transition defense. If Price gets single coverage in space and allowed to work in the open floor he’ll roast Mizzou guards like meatloaf because of his sewer creativity and triple range off the bounce. Mizzou’s grittiness and fortitude will keep them close, but Thabeet will be a meanacing deterrent beating their lay-up attempts like scrambled eggs. It wouldn’t be a monumental stunner if Mizzou pulls it out because they’re a very good team, but they must have no blasé’ mental lapses with buzzer to buzzer infallible ferocity which is a tall order. UConn is just a little too talented, athletic, disciplined and on an unyielding mission to realize their championship vision.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Sweet 16 To Final Four By Riebeil Durley-Petty

West Region #1 Louisville vs. #12 Arizona 7:07

How they got here- Beat #16 Morehead State 74-54, #9 Siena 79-72

Keys to the game- Louisville overcame a slow start and 7 point halftime deficit to beat a good, underrated Siena team to reach the Sweet 16. Rick Pitino’s squad is a supremely well conditioned crew that relies on smothering opponents like gravy on a biscuit with their intense full court pressure. They force over 16 turnovers a game and typically drain their opponents with their end to end harassment and stifling half-court trap. The Cardinals are also draining 43 percent of their triples in the tourney, up from their season average of 36.

First team All-Big East selection and catalyst Terrance William is more filling than a stuff crust pizza because he jams every category imaginable. The senior is the team leader in assists (5) and steals (2.4), and is second in points (12.7 ppg) and rebounds (8.7) Williams is a spectacularly eclectic player who merges trampoline bounce with hardwood intellect and does whatever his team needs to win. With Da Ville drudging against Siena Williams had a monstrous 24 point, 15 board game, so he can elevate his output based on the circumstance. Earl Clark tops the team in scoring and rebounds posting 13.9 and 8.8 respectively. At 6’10 his length and athleticism causes problems on the press for smaller ball handlers when he traps, which he’ll aim to do against Arizona’s point guard Nic Wise. 6’9, 260 pound Freshman Samardo Samuels gives the Cardinal a post true presence (12.1 ppg), but he’ll need to boost his paltry board totals against Zona’s Jordan Hill. Junior Edgar Sosa (7.2 ppg) is a talented, but streaky conundrum who can hit phat numbers driving to the rack when he’s on. Jerry Smith (7.6 ppg, 40.5 percent three’s) Preston Knowles (6.1 ppg, 43 percent treys) and Andre McGee (38 percent three’s) are solid complementary guards that supply good ball pressure and outside shooting. They’ll have to stay in front of Wise and limit his trips to the lane.

How Arizona got here- Beat #5 Utah 84-71, #13 Cleveland St. 71-57

Keys to the game- Who would have ever thought Arizona, one of the country’s most regal programs would be considered a Cinderella, but that’s exactly what the Wildcats are. Faced with immense scrutiny over their credentials, interim coach Russ Pennell has guided Arizona beyond the haterism in their 25 consecutive tourney appearance and possibly made the most unlikely Sweet 16 trip in school history. The Wildcats have clawed up their first two foes, shooting a flaming 53 percent from the floor and playing uncharacteristically stingy defense holding opponents to just under 40 percent.

For Zona everything starts with Jordan Hill. Leader in points (18.4) and boards (11) and blocks (1.8) the big fella literally is the Wildcats interior game. The All-Pac-10 first team member has eaten opposing bigs like ham sandwiches all year with his combination of finesse, agility and quickness and he’ll have to use those assets against Da Ville as well because he has a significant advantage over Louisville’s post players. Point guard Nic Wise has been blazing defenders like a Newport cigarette, dropping 25 points and 5 dimes a game on 57 percent shooting, up from his season averages of 15.6 points, 4.6 assists and 46 percent from the floor. He’ll have to be strong with the ball against Louisville’s press, penetrate the gaps to delegate the rock to Zona’s shooters in addition to equaling his triple proficiency (42.4 percent). Fellow All-Pac-10 first teamer Chase Budinger (18 ppg, 6 rebounds, 40 percent three’s) aka the college Dirk Nowitski jumper will have to be on point and he’ll have to attack Williams strongly utilizing his athleticism when he has driving opportunities. Kyle Fogg (6.2 ppg 38 percent treys) and Zane Johnson (4.6 ppg, 41 percent three’s) with have to be prepared to capitalize on open treys because looks will present themselves. Jamelle Horne (6.2 ppg, 5.1 rebounds) will also have to be play solid defense, help on the glass and score when open.

Prediction- Unless Hill completely dominates inside and Budinger busts fallaway treys like Nowitzki Zona will probably be flying back to cactus country. Zona has three future NBA players in the lineup but they only have a six player rotation. That lack of depth and Louisville’s perennial duress will lead to the Wildcats attrition and ultimate demise. Cards fly high and glide to Sunday night.

South #2 Oklahoma vs. # 3 Syracuse 7:27
How they got here- Beat #15 Morgan State 82-54, #10 Michigan 73-63

Keys to the game- The Sooners stammered down the stretch dropping 4 of their last 6 and losing seemingly smashed up #1 seed before then, but Jeff Capel’s squad has recuperated nicely in the big dance. Everyone knows the alpha and omega for the Boomer Sooners is the impregnable Blake Griffin. Leading the nation in boards at 14.4 a game along with 22.5 points on 56 percent shooting Griffin’s indisputably been the country’s most dominant force with his obscene consolidation of size, strength, athleticism and gracefulness. Griffin absorbs every errant shot within his vicinity and squashes the competition like a California raisin. The leading candidate for Player of the Year honors will attract maximum attention from Syracuse vaunted 2-3 zone, which will open up shots for Tony Crocker (9.2 ppg, 3.2 rebounds, 53 made three’s) and Austin Johnson (8.8 ppg, 3.9 assists, 43 made trifectas) and Cade Davis (4.9 ppg, 35.4 percent threes). Crocker has been off lately, connecting on only 2 of his last 21 three pointers, so Oklahoma will need him to remedy his waning stroke.

Johnson also has unenviable assignment checking Johnny Flynn. It’s important for Johnson to keep the speedy, explosive guard out the paint as much as possible so he doesn’t issue the rock to Syracuse shooters. Big 12 freshman first teamer Willie Warren (14.7 ppg, 3.1 assists, 38 percent treys) has disgusting triple range. He’ll need to employ that touch to space out Syracuse zone to give Griffin more room to operate and use his athletic advantage over Eric Devendorf to get buckets off the bounce. Blake’s big brother Taylor (9.6 ppg, 6.0 rebounds) is an improved mid-range shooter and a fiery enforcer who provides the Sooners with toughness and an inside tag team partner for Blake.

How Syracuse got here- Beat #14 Stephen F. Austin 59-44, #6 Arizona State 78-67

Keys to the game- Ever since their epic 6 overtime classic with UConn everyone has taken notice of Syracuse. That admirable defining moment and murderous test of physical stamina showed just how tough and resilient Jim Boeheim’s squad really is and garnered nationwide big ups from everyone.

No one’s more emblematic of the Cuse’s toughness than All-Big East first team selection Johnny Flynn (17.3 ppg, 6.7 assists). The diminutive point guard with immeasurable heart has a pugnacious, exuberant, gully braswado that spreads throughout the team. He’s a magnet to the paint and a serves more dishes to his teammates than a waiter at Applebee’s, and if you napping he’ll bang on you in New York minute. Expect Flynn to try to get into the teeth of Oklahoma defense and slice up their guards like a slab of bacon. Eric Devendorf (15.9 ppg, 3 assists, 39 percent three’s) may have a penchant for recklessly poppin off noise and get overly demonstrative with his post shot celebrations at times but he rack up points quickly, break his defender down to get to the cup and is one of the Orange’s most adept treyeball bombers. A first team All-Big East member last year, Paul Harris (12.2 ppg, 8.1 rebounds) accepted a reduced role this season but he’s physical, undersized power forward who’s a great finisher on the break and lockdown defensive irritant. Andy Rautins (10.4 ppg, 3 assists, 99 made treys) is a prototypical cord-ripping fire-starter with one of the purest strokes in the country. Syracuse will run him off a multitude of screens and Flynn and Devendorf will dish him the pill for triples off penetration. The real key defensively for the Cuse is Arinze Onuaku (10.4 ppg, 7.3 boards, 66.5 field goal, 29.5 percent free throws) and Rick Jackson (8.3 ppg, 5.1 rebounds). At 6’9, 275 lbs Onuaku is a mountainous player with the strength to combat Griffin, but can’t rival Blake Griffin’s agility. Onuaku and Jackson have the girth to keep Griffin from getting deep post position but are also prone to amassing random careless. It’s paramount they stay on the floor or
Griffin will fry Cuse interior like Popeye’s chicken.

Prediction- This is the toughest game to call because both teams are so evenly matched and excel in different areas. Cuse with their perimeter game and Oklahoma pounding the ball inside. Ultimately, I think the Cuse grittiness and resolute desire to win will carry them through in a very tight game.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Sweet 16 to the Final Four By Riebeil Durley-Petty

The opening weekend of the NCAA Tournament is done, and although there weren’t many shocking upsets or enchanting small Cinderella teams rising to the national forefront there was still an abundance of lunacy.

Wisconsin and Siena got crucial last second shots for wins in overtime, and double overtime games respectively. Jerel McNeal and Wesley Matthews spurred an undermanned Marquette crew in one of the most compelling displays of internal gulliness of recent tourney memory in an exhilarating 83-79 Missouri victory. And little used Demetri Goodson etched his place in tourney history with a length of the court buzzer-beating lay-up to push Gonzaga past a dangerous Western Kentucky team.

With the hardwood hors d'oeuvre having been enjoyed last week it’s now time for the main course to be served. Yes, chalk has permeated the brackets thus far with all three top seeds in each region advancing to the Sweet 16 for the first time in tourney history, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. People may stunt as though they don’t want to see the heavyweights, but everyone wants to see the best play the best, and with the top-grain teams in left in the field the dopeness of the battles should only be amplified. Let’s breakdown the match-ups to see who’s the favorites to reach the Elite 8 and possibly reserve a table at the Final Four banquet.

East #1 Pittsburgh vs. #4 Xavier Thursday 7:27
How Pitt got here: Xavier- Beat #13 Portland St. 77-59, #12 Wisconsin 60-49.

Keys to the game- Winning three consecutive Atlantic 10 championships the Musketeers have had the conference on smash and been the preeminent team in the conference this decade. Xavier easily dispatched Portland St. and locked up Wisconsin for a frigid 29 percent from the floor which they used to break open a defensive struggle in a 60-39 triumph.

Underestimated Head Coach Sean Miller team is blazin the nets from treyland, draining 7 per game on over 42 percent. Xavier will need to expose Pitt, whose defense has been uncharacteristically porous in their first two contests with good perimeter shooting, and in particular senior guard B.J. Raymond (14.2 ppg, 42 percent three’s) and All-Atlantic 10 small forward Derrick Brown (13.7 ppg, 6 boards, 44 percent three’s). Brown will have to aggressively take it to Sam Young to try to offset his output and it will take a collaborative effort for centers Jason Love and Kenny Frease to contain DeJuan Blair’s inside brutality and not give up a large rebounding disparity. Xavier success has always been based on stout defense and the defense will definitely have to show up if they have a chance of bouncing the Beasts of the East.

How Pitt got here- Beat #16 East Tennessee St 72-62, #8 Oklahoma St. 84-76

Keys to the game- Pitt narrowly survived a petrifying 72-62 win over East Tennessee State that was far closer than the score indicates.

But the most important thing is they did survive. Everyone knows Pitt’s main Achilles heel. If Blair (15.8 ppg, 12.1 boards, 59.6 field percentage) gets in foul trouble the interior is vulnerable and the Panthers can easily get got. If Blair abstains from the bench the powerful gorilla will devour the glass like a bear does a bottle of honey. Sam Young has been frying the opposition like a bologna sandwich. Young has balled like an All-American putting up 23 points, 10.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists, all up from his regular season averages of 18 points 6 boards and 1 assist per game. Levance Fields (10.6 ppg and 7.6 helpers) drops more dimes than a neighborhood informant with his exemplary auxiliary distribution skills and court vision. Pitt will need to avoid not getting so fixated with scoring they become impassive on the defensive end. If they do, Xavier’s tough senior laden crew will hang around and could sneak up and pull the upset.

Prediction- Pitt will just be too much for Xavier. The Musketeers are a rugged group but the Panthers are on a mission to get to Forbes Field and prove they’re a premier program by finally advancing beyond the Sweet 16. Xavier doesn’t have an answer for Blair’s power game, nor can they nullify Young’s torrid play and ultra athleticism.
East #2 Duke vs. #3 Villanova Thursday 9:57

How Duke got here- Beat #15 Binghamton 86-62, #7 Texas 74-69

Keys to the game- After smashing an overmatched Binghamton Duke blew a late lead but managed to hold on for a tight win over a good Texas team. The Sweet 16 used to be a birthright for college basketball’s preeminent program of the last 20 years. The Blue Devils made nine consecutive Sweet 16 appearances from 1998-2006, but this marks the first time Mike Krzyzewski’s team advanced this deep in three years.

In order to reach the Elite 8 Duke will have to have big games from their leading trio Kyle Singler Jon Scheyer (14.9 ppg, 3.7 rebounds, 39 percent three’s) and Gerald Henderson. Singler’s (16.5 ppg, 7.7 rebounds, 39 percent treys) versatility will have to be on full display, draining jumpers and grabbing boards in the paint. Scheyer, (14.9 ppg, 3.7 rebounds, 39 percent three’s) a natural shooting guard has adjusted well to running the point. Scheyer’s points are important but his defense will be even more valuable Thursday. Scheyer will have to limit Nova’s Scottie Reynolds penetration and pull-up jumpers and prevent him from dumping the rock to the Wildcats shooters to get in a rhythm. Leading scorer Henderson (16.8 ppg, 4.8 rebounds) has overcome his sporadic play and emerged out the woodworks as an elite player with his newfound assertiveness. Duke has shot 47 percent (16-34) from distance in their first two games. Henderson will need to utilize his ludicrous athleticism to attack the rack and space the floor in order for Duke to continue making it flood from long range. Since Nolan Smith’s (8.5 ppg, 36 percent triples) insertion in the line-up the former McDonald’s All-American has flourished and he figures to play a vital role well.

How Villanova got here- Beat #14 American 80-67, #6 UCLA 89-69

Keys to the game- Villanova used their home-court advantage, playing in their own backyard (which was absolutely ridiculous) to spark a late charge and surmount a 14 point second half deficit to avoid a premature ousting from an upset-minded American. There was no repeat cavalier performance in the second round as Nova thoroughly smacked UCLA.

For the Wildcats it all begins with their pg Scottie Reynolds (15.1 ppg and 3.5 assists). Although Reynolds has only averaged a substandard 9.5 points thus far, don’t get it tangled cause he’s a nylon arsonist capable of erupting for 40 any night. Reynolds will need to defrost the jumper and get some buckets for the Wildcats. Leading scorer and boardmen Daunte Cunningham (16.3 ppg and 7.3 bounds, 53 percent shooting) has transformed himself into a very good post player, and has elevated his game during the tourney busting 22.5 points and 8.5 boards. Cunningham’s inside play will be a vital role in Nova’s scheme. Corey Fisher (10.9 ppg) and Corey Stokes (9.7 ppg, 42.8 three’s) are good threeball shooters and Dwayne Anderson (8.8 ppg, 6.6 rebounds) isn’t spectacular but is Nova’s second-leading rebounder and provides senior leadership.

Prediction- This should be a very entertaining affair. Neither team has a true interior presence and both squads like up tempo games, but in this case Duke will probably be more selective with their transition game because the faster the tempo the more it favors Nova. If it gets to fast the game could spiral out of control because of Nova’s staunch defense. The Wildcats will are a physically and mentally tough, mature team and those attributes should be enough to get them a close, hard fought triumph over Duke.

West # Connecticut vs. #5 Purdue- Thursday 7:07
How Purdue got here- Beat #12 Univ of Northern Iowa 61-56, #4 Washington 76-74

Keys to the game- After disposing of a game UNI, Purdue was the last man standing following one of the fiercest, spine-tingling games in the tourney over Pac-10 champ Washington the Boilermakers have the dubious task of facing a dominant UConn team.

Championed by Robert Hummel (12.4 ppg, 7 boards, 39 percent treys) E’Twaun Moore (14 ppg, 4.7 rebounds, 3.1 assists) and JaJuan Johnson (13.4 ppg) all sophomores, Purdue has managed to avoid being handicapped by youth. This one comes down to two simple factors, can Hummel regain his form and will Johnson be able to neutralize UConn’s 7’3 behemoth Hasheem Thabeet.
At the start of the season Purdue was picked by many experts as potential Final Four team and Hummel was a pre-season All-American pick. Stricken by injuries all year, the 6’8 Hummel has struggled to establish a steady rhythm and elevate himself to superstar status. Johnson preserved the win over Washington with his two blocks as the Huskies tried to tie the game. Standing 6’10 and Purdue’s top shot blocker at 2.1 a game, Johnson must be prepared to bang with Thabeet and will definitely have to improve his anemic 5.6 rebounds a game if Purdue has any chance of pulling off the tournament’s biggest shocker. It’s imperative Johnson takes it to Thabeet’s chest to keep him occupied. Moore’s ability to create off the dribble and get to the cup could also draw fouls on Thabeet, who’s prone to collecting slapdash fouls.

How UConn got here- Beat #16 Tennessee Chattanooga 103-47, #9 Texas A&M

Keys to the game- UConn has been lambasting foes and has clearly been the tournament’s most dominant crew. They’re 41 point per game margin is one of the highest in NCAA history for an opening weekend. Coach Jim Calhoun’s team has sent a clear message that’s reverberated throughout the field. UConn is in the building and ready to get down for their crown.

Leading scorer and distributor A.J. Price (14.6 ppg, 4.8 assists, 41.7 trey percentage) had a somewhat skittish year, but the preseason All-American has lived up to the billing and more than supplemented the void of injured backcourt mate Jerome Dyson. For the tourney Price has dropped 23.5 points, 5.5 dimes and nailed 50 percent of his triples. Son has unequivocally been getting it in. Hasheem Thabeet (13.7 points, 10.7 boards, 4.4 blocks) is Dikembe Mutombo reincarnated on the college level and tosses more shots than a Caesar salad. Unsung Jeff Adrien (13.9 points, 10.2 boards) is the definition of consistency with his workman’s like nightly double-doubles, and freshman Kemba Walker is a speedy guard and magnet to the tin. However, the true key to the Huskies dominance has been the amelioration of small forward Stanley Roberts. The supremely athletic, yet spastic Roberts (8 ppg, 5.4 rebounds) has surprisingly got his game up in Dyson’s absence and become an essential contributor.

Prediction- Unless Hummel’s body is possessed by Larry Bird and he has an enormous, career defining night there’s no way Purdue can combat UConn’s talent, athleticism and desire to reach the Final Four. Hopefully it will be competitive, but it easily be a morose molly whopping.

West #2 Memphis vs. #3 Missouri- Thursday 9:37
How Memphis Got Here- Beat Cal State Northridge 81-70, #10 Maryland 89-70

Keys to the game- The Tigers squad endured a wake-up call, breaking free from Cal State in the latter minutes in the first round on the strength of Roburt Sallie’s school tourney record 35 point outburst. Memphis responded nicely in the next game capping Maryland and locking up Grevais Vasquez who’s recklessly popped off about the credence of Memphis conference.

After three early season losses Memphis has been unblemished since John Calipari slid freshman phenom and leading bucket supplier Tyreke Evans over to the point. Evans (16.6 ppg, 5.4 rebounds, 3.9 assists) has thrived in the role, fostering synergy and a smooth, flowing offense. At a chiseled 6’6, 220lb Evans size enables him to see over smaller guards and his passing acumen enables him to set up shooters Doneal Mack (8.9 ppg) and Roburt Sallie (5.7 ppg, 46.4 treys). Senior Antonio Anderson (10 ppg, 4.8 rebounds, 4.5 dimes) is a great passer, has a serene influence on the team with his leadership and is the squad’s hellacious defensive motor. He’ll be huge in helping Evans handle Missouri’s smothering full-court pressure. While he can still be maddening because he doesn’t always utilize his bountifully raw gifts, power forward Robert Dozier (12.7 ppg, 7.2 boards, 1.7 blocks) has had a solid year and even made 37.5 percent of his threeballs. Center Sean Taggert (10.6 ppg, 7.6) has manned the pivot nicely and despite his abysmal three point percentage (18 percent) is capable of knocking down triples.

How Missouri got here- Beat #14 Cornell 78-59, #6 Marquette 83-79

Keys to the game- After disposing of Cornell Mizzou was entrenched in a heated battle with a resilient Marquette squad and forced to show some resolve before finally clipping the Eagles. The Tigers will have to exhibit some heart and perseverance as well on Thursday night.

Head Coach Mike Anderson has done a phenomenal job refurbishing Mizzou. Anderson has incorporated his mentor former Arkansas head basketball coach Nolan Richardson’s 40 minutes of hell approach, with a slight name alteration to the “fastest 40 minutes in college basketball.” The chaotic, entertaining style has been every beneficial, causing opponents to regularly to cough up the pill like an asthmatic on average 22 times a game, which enables Mizzou to average 81.1 points an contest. The Tigers defensive catalyst and best player is DeMarre Carroll. Top in points and glasswork Carrol, (16.7 ppg 7.3 boards, 56 percent field goal, 1.6 steals) appropriately nicknamed “The Junkyard Dog” is a ball-hawking, diverse predator who fronts the Tigers vaunted press. At 6’8, Carrol’s length is a major deterrent and helps him deflect a lot of passes. His tenacity circulates throughout the rest of the team. Fellow senior Leo Lyons (14.6 ppg, 6 rebounds) is a mobile post player with a soft shooting touch and outstanding face up game. Point guard J.T. Tiller is adept at penetrating and kicking the ball out to flamethrowers Matt Lawrence (9 ppg, 40.7 three’s) and freshmen Kim English (6.7 ppg, 38.8 treys) who form is as flawlessly beautiful as Ray Allen.

Prediction- This may be the hardest one to call because the squads are so evenly matched. Memphis may have more NBA caliber players, but what Mizzou lacks in ability they more than make up for in diligence and hustle. Both teams go incredibly hard. It will undoubtedly be a frenetic track meet reminiscent of the old UNLV- Arkansas games of the early 1990s with non stop, exciting action. Ultimately whoever protects the ball the best should determine this game. Although Mizzou gets 22 takeaways a game they’re very judicious with the ball as well, averaging only 12 turnovers. However, if they don’t create turnovers they aren’t nearly as effective because they’re offense is predicated on the defense. While Memphis hasn’t faced a full-court assault like Mizzou’s the Tigers haven’t faced a defense the level Memphis will toss at them either. Memphis may have the nation’s best overall defense, blankets opponents with a swarming, unrelenting grill breaking attack. Memphis will handle the pressure well enough and Evans’ gross comprehensive skills will enable Coach Calipari’s crew to win the battle of the Tigers down the stretch in a heated thriller.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Come Sleeping and You’ll Leave the Court Weeping By Riebeil Durley-Petty

The brackets are finally set, the 64 most worthy participants in the country have been chosen and the Big Dance is about to get poppin. Unlike last year with North Carolina, UCLA, Kansas, Memphis there are no prohibitive favorites. Every team, including heavyweight top seeds Louisville, Connecticut, Pittsburgh and North Carolina each team has a vulnerability that if exposed can be fatal.

The madness already began this past week in huge way with Kansas, Oklahoma, North Carolina, Connecticut, Pitt, Wake Forest and Arizona State each suffering unexpected defeats in conference tourneys. Last week’s mayhem may a precursor to the insanity that awaits this year’s tourney edition. With parity and mediocrity at an all-time high this year’s dance is guaranteed to satisfy hopheads appetite for upsets. This year’s field includes a clatter of underdogs waiting to cause mayhem and derail title aspirations. Who’s going to be this year’s George Mason or Davidson? Here’s a list of unheralded squads looking to do damage and knock the big dawgs off. Unlike Natalie Cole, they don’t have love on their minds. Come listlessly slacking and these crews will give your jaw a crackin.

East (6) UCLA vs. VCU (11)
Coming off three consecutive Final Four appearances and finishing runner-up in 2006, Ben Howland has successfully resuscitated the cache of UCLA’s storied basketball tradition. Senior guards Darren Collison and Josh Shipp have been the Bruins anchors the past three seasons and each have enjoyed career years in their senior campaigns. One of the nation’s premier floor generals, Collison is averaging a career high tying 14.5 points per game and personal best 4.8 assists a night. Shipp puts up 14 points a game and guard’s the opposition’s best perimeter player. Both shoot over 50 percent from the field and 40 percent on three-pointers.

Unfortunately Ben Howland’s signature suffocating defense has uncharacteristically given opponents more air surrendering opponents nearly 45 percent from the floor and 36 percent from treyland. The backline defense is soft as apple sauce with inside players Kevin Love and Luc Mbah a Moute both collecting paychecks in the NBA. With a less resistant defense and lack of interior presence UCLA is prone to penetration.

Two years ago Eric Maynor captivated the nation as he barbecued Duke like a Chile’s baby back rib and made a last second game-winning turnaround over Greg Paulus to knock Coach Krzysewski’s Blue Devils in stunning fashion. Leading the Commodores in scoring, (22.4ppg) dimes (6.2) and second in steals (1.7) Maynor habitually gets to the paint and is as cold as any of the country’s more publicized point guards. Sophomore center Larry Sanders (11.3 ppg, 8.5 boards, 2.7 blocks) has the wingspan of a pterodactyl and is a shot-swatting terror who punches shots like a bottle of Hawaiian. Guards Joey Rodriguez (9.4ppg, 41 percent) and Randy Burgess (7.4ppg 42 percent) are dangerous three-point bombers.

This one simply comes down to the point guard showdown between Collison and Maynor. Whichever quarterback outdoes the other will give his team a distinct advantage. If Collison neutralizes Maynor, not necessarily statistically, but in overall effectiveness and makes him work to get points UCLA will win. If Maynor gets to the cup getting buckets for himself and sets up his teammates for easy scores VCU will bounce UCLA back to Cali. Having suffered the disappointment of missing last year’s dance, Maynor and VCU have sought redemption the entire year and the only acceptable conclusion is at least advancing to the second round. UCLA better not let Maynor have the rock in his hands at the end of the game cause if so like acclaimed actress Angela Lansbery it’s murder she wrote.

South #5 Illinois vs. #12 WKU
Illinois has enjoyed a surprisingly good season. Picked to finish at the bottom of the conference in preseason rankings, the Illini lived up to their name as a fighting, gritty team coming in third in the log jammed Big 10 and occupying a spot in the top 25 the majority of the year. If anyone questioned Bruce Weber’s strategic ability he silenced any skepticism with a remarkable coaching job that should earn him Big 10 Coach of the Year. With leading scorer Demetri McCamey averaging only 11.5 points a game, Illinois has racked up wins with a team-oriented philosophy and stout defense. Unfortunately senior point guard Chester Frasier suffered a season-ending broken left wrist. Although Frasier averages a modest 5.7 points, 4.8 rebounds and 5.3 assists his leadership and coordinating impact are immeasurable.

Western Kentucky made an unexpected run to the Sweet 16 last year, knocking off Drake in an opening round overtime thriller and San Diego before succumbing to UCLA. Dynamic backcourt mates Courtney Lee, currently playing for the Orlando Magic and Tyrone Brazelton are gone, but the Hilltoppers still boast dangerous perimeter players. A.J. Slaughter (15.8 ppg, 3.6 assists) and Orlando Mendez-Valdez (14 ppg, 4 rebounds, 4 assists) both increased their scoring average by over 9 points, ensuring no significant dropoff for WKU. Sensational sophomore Steffphon Pettigrew (12.7 points, 5.1 rebounds) is an emerging talent, and leading rebounder Sergio Kerush (11.2 ppg, 7.4 boards) is an athletic freak with more bounce then a Mexican jumping bean.

This game will be determined by who dictates the tempo. Illinois prefers a slower, more deliberate defensive tussle, the exact antithesis of WKU. The Hilltoppers want to make it a frenetic, uptempo affair. Pettigrew, Mezdez-Valdez and Kerush each connect on over 36 percent of their treyballs. If the Hilltoppers bade the Illini into a run and gun game and their vibrant trio makes it rain Illinois might get blown out the frame.

South #6Arizona State vs. #11 Temple
Arizona State head coach Herb Sendeck deserves major ups for resurrecting the Sun Devils like a phoenix from the Pac-10 abyss. Sendeck has transformed ASU into a prominent program in his second year of duty. After narrowly missing the 64 team field last year, the Sun Devils made sure they received an invitation to this year’s jumpoff. Sophomore guard and leading scorer James Harden (20 ppg, 5.5 boards, 4.2 dimes) and senior Jeff Pendergraph (14.5 ppg, 8.4 boards) give ASU a potent inside-outside combination and have spearheaded them all year. A multi-faceted sureshot All-American, Harden is a certified baller and a match-up nightmare for opposing defenses because of his penchant to get to the rack and consistent jumper. Sophomore Rihards Kuksiks (10 ppg, 44 percent three’s) provides the outside shooting with his cheddar jumper.

However, like their West Coast foes Temple has a dynamic swingman of their own in underappreciated senior Dionte Christmas. The Owls had to earn their way in the field winning the Atlantic 10 conference championship and Christmas was pivotal in achieving the feat. Christmas (19.2 ppg, 5.8 rebs) is a straight up combustible flamethrower that can go off at any time. He possesses an expansive offensive catalog, which includes his gross NBA caliber step back j which he can bust from the Cuba. Running mate Ryan Brooks (10.7 ppg, 41.7 threes) provides floor spacing with his threeball accuracy and leading glassman Lavoy Allen (10.9 ppg, 8.9 boards, 1.6 blocks) patrols the paint.

Temple’s befuddling match-up zone has always wreaked havoc for opposing offenses, and it shouldn’t be any different for Arizona State. The Sun Devils will have to have good ball movement to loosen the Owls zone and create driving lanes. If Harden is able to hit the gaps he can dispense the rock to his cohorts for open looks. But if Temple is able to minimize penetration and make it a methodical half-court game it will favor the Owls and they’ll have a chance to hoot their way to the second round.

East #5 Utah vs. #12 Arizona
Now I know what you’re probably saying to yourself. Like Avant I can read your mind, I know what you’re thinking. How in the world is Arizona beating Utah considered an upset? This man is really buggin. I know it sounds inconceivable I could make such an assertion, but be easy and let me explain my rationale.

Though not nearly as illustrious as their west coast counterpart Utah is a quality program. The Utes compiled wins over BYU, San Diego State, Gonzaga and bludgeoned LSU by 30 points this year. Don’t get it tangled, the Mountain West Tournament champion is a formidable opponent that legitimately gets it in. They are a mature team comprised of veterans who are undaunted by anyone. 26 year-old Luke Nevill (16.9 ppg, 9.1 rebounds, 2.7 blocks) maybe the Methuselah of college basketball, but the 7’2 265 pound Australian senior center (16.9 ppg, 9.1 rebounds, 2.7 blocks) is a lane clogging behemoth who can loves to bang and swang. Nevill can score and rebound with the best big men. Fellow classmen Lawrence Bortha (11.7 ppg, 41 percent three’s) and Shaun Green (10.4 ppg, 4.9 rebounds, 41 percent three’s) are solid players who provide the outside stroke.

Arizona has been a conundrum at times and sputtered down the stretch of the season dropping 5 of their last 6 games with center Jordan Hill hobbled by a sprained right ankle. They slipped, fallen but unlike DMX they have more than enough ability to get up. Many questioned the Wildcats inclusion in the field finishing with a 19-13 record. Bill Parcels made the infamous statement you are what your record says you are, but in this case Arizona’s pedestrian record isn’t emblematic of their ability. With victories over UCLA, Kansas and Gonzaga, as well as conference Pac-10 rival USC the Wildcats have strong credentials and are capable of beating anyone, anytime anywhere.

Juniors Chaser Budinger (17.9 ppg, 6.3 rebounds, 41 percent three’s) leading scorer, rebounder and shot blocker Hill (18.5 ppg, 11 boards, 1.8 blocks) and Nic Wise (15.1 ppg, 4.6 helpers, 42.4 percent three’s) form one of the nation’s supreme trios. Budinger is the college version of Dirk Nowitzki with his Aquafina like jumper and capacity to use his 6’8 frame to powerman and score over smaller defenders. Wise frequently zooms to the rack like a Lamborghini, and Hill is a paint patrolling beast who’s a certain lottery pick in this summer’s NBA draft.

This game will come down to which Arizona team shows up. Will it be the hungry, synchronized squad that beat some of the country’s heavyweights? Or will we see the temperamental team that faltered into the tourney. Utah is very disciplined, fundamental and doesn’t get rattled. It’s imperative the Wildcats don’t get frustrated and get ganked into reckless individual jousts trying to serve the Utes. If they maintain their composure and Hill wins the battle of the bigs Zona could move on and definitely wreck something.

3/19/09- TWD's Agenda For The Day: BRACKETOLOGY 505, 2009 MARCH SEMESTER

President Obama shows his Carolina love in the tournament, picking the Tar Heels to cut the nets over Louisville in the Final Two title game (Photo from ESPN)
From the man in the White House to facebook pool request after facebook pool request, the sports world in America is once again engulfed in the March Madness spirit. The tournament, although it has already started with Morehouse State dispatching Alabama State in the play-in, excuse me, opening round game, really starts today as always. As you can see at the site's apex at the moment, the site is highlighting the four number one seeds and their key perimeter players (and you can make an easy case for at least three of the four being the most valuable players for their teams, with Levance Fields of Pittsburgh playing a slight second fiddle to DeJuan Blair).

But with this being arguably the most parody filled year in college basketball ever as top teams continues to lose every week, you could easily make the case for the likes of say Wake Forest and even Gonzaga to actually win the whole damn thing (yes, I said Gonzaga, and I actually mean it this year). Far fetched and ridiculous as the Bulldogs being the main protagonist in One Shining Moment this year as that may sound, it is even more incongruous to write them off in a year where the capricious has been the norm, and the "status quo" has been constant change.

Nevertheless, I actually think all four number one seeds will be at Ford Field on the final weekend, duplicating last year's rare feat. It's a major force though, but later this morning, we'll preview all the games and the upsets of the day to follow closely. And when I mean we, I actually mean "we" this time, as a new writer to the site will show his dexterity and knowledge.

The Whole Delivery is back.................for the moment.

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