Monday, October 25, 2010

Big East 2010-2011 Breakdown

Media day was last week for the Big East women's basketball. I know I'm not surprised with who the coaches selected as the #1 team but I am a little surprised with the rest of the league. But, I know one thing is for certain, this is going to be one HECK of a season in the Big East. Top to bottom, I think every team will play a role in shaking up the league standings. Clear cut winner: UCONN. But will it be that easy for them as it may have been in the past (or I should say, they MADE it look easy)? Nope.

West Virginia was voted as the #2 team with their team leader Liz Repella back for some serious senior year playing and winning! However, the third place team will sneak past West Virgina and take second place in the league: Georgetown. You can not stress enough the importance of having a top point guard to run your team. That top point guard is Sugar Rodgers. They have great players inside and outside and that is what will lead them to a second place finish.

But can we forget about that team from Indiana? You know, Notre Dame? Heck no! I think they will be better this year because of Skylar Diggins. So could it be that Notre Dame could make a run for one of the top 3 spots? Absolutely! Look for Notre Dame to take Georgetown, West Virginia and UCONN to the limit. Since they play UCONN twice, I wouldn't be surprised if they win one of their contests.

As for the rest of the league, St. John's, DePaul Rutgers, Louisville and Syracuse could all move around in their area but I suspect they will all finish in the top 10, just maybe not in the order predicted. Marquette, South Florida, Providence, Pitt, Nova, Cincy and Seton Hall finish out 10-16 in the rankings. The two I recommend watching: Pitt and Hall. Anne Donovan is an amazing coach and her skills of connecting with players and getting the best out of them when it matters the most is a gift. Pitt is...well...Pitt and I don't think you can ever count them out. Look for Cincy to finish higher then 15....let us remember where their coach went to school.

So really I see a challenging season for all of the Big East schools. Will UCONN be the season winner? More then likely, even without Caroline Doty (who I hope recovers healthy and ready for next season).

My rankings:
2. G'town
3. ND
4. WVU
5. Rutgers
6. St. John's
7. DePaul
8. Marquette
9. Louisville
10. Syracuse
11. South Florida
12. Pitt
13. Cincy
14. Providence
15. Seton Hall
16. Nova

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Marion Jones

Why not...

Weigh in with your opinion!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

You Play to the End....

The final game at the RAC last night was quite a game, at least for Rutgers fans. All season long we have waited, some not so patiently, for a complete game. A complete game where they rebounded, had minimal turnovers, scored on the fast break, played solid defense and actually made good baskets. Well, we got that to the expense of the Louisville Cardinals. Going into the Big East Tournament the ladies should feel great. This is the best I have seen them play this season. Thank you Seniors (BRay, Myia and Rah)

That being said, you always play the game until the final buzzer. With Rutgers up by 20 points, there was some shoving, a few technicals thrown and in the end RU inbounded the ball because of the foul call and two technicals (rule is the ball goes back to the team that had possession when the double technical was called. In this case Rutgers). So that sets up 00:00.5 left on the clock. April Sykes inbounds the ball off of the Louisville defender and puts up a shot. She misses, game over, teams shake hands (sort of) and we move on (I think). Rutgers plays great, so proud of them for finally pulling it together in the final game at the RAC this season.

I start to read the message boards this morning, which I take with a grain of salt on most occasions. However, this time I'm really annoyed. Why is April getting crap for playing the game until the final horn? This isn't Recreation Basketball, this is Division I basketball. You play until the end, always. That is the only way you will actually know what to do if you are in a tight game at the end. Why do you think UCONN plays until the end every game? They win by 30, 40, 50 points this year but they play until the end. Does this show a lack of class? Not in Division I, II or III. They are playing until the end. This is the game, it's how it is played. If you are afraid your feelings will be hurt, then play another sport. This is how it is done. April played until the final buzzer, as she should have!

During the Olympics the women's Canadian hockey team won their first round game over Slovakia 18-0 and they got a lot of complaints about "running up the score". Okay, since when do women have to play "nice" and be considerate? I don't understand that! I'm not saying that they should go out there and beat each other up (no team should do that) but it's just a score. Everyone wants "Equality" but by saying that women aren't playing "with class" when they shoot the ball up 20, or keep scoring when up by 15 goals, is creating a divide. And bottom line, both teams (Rutgers and Team Canada) played the game how it should be played. If I were a coach of a Division I team or an Olympic team I would make sure my team played the game until the end. Period. Call it ruthless but since when do women have to "play nice" and be considerate of the score? Where in their DNA does it say that? They are athletes playing at the top level in their sport for where they are in their career. Play until the end, period. Let me ask you this: Do people say this about men's sports? Ummm, no. How many times did the NJ Nets get blown out of the arena this season? Did anyone say anything about that?

It's Division I basketball, if you can't handle the fact that teams play hard until the buzzer then go watch tennis. I have no bones about teams playing until the end, regardless of the score.

Oh, and side note to a previous post (entitled :14.4) nice of the fans to leave with :00.5 seconds left ON SENIOR NIGHT when the ladies played awesome. Again, show some love fans...they played their hearts out and the least we can do is show some love to them.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

I've been silent all season....

It has been a difficult season for Rutgers Women's Basketball, my team of choice. I have grown up going to Rutgers games, my first one was Wicks & Sticks era. Over the years I have watched good years and bad years. But every team over ever season had pride and passion while wearing the Rutgers uniform. This year is a little different....I just don't see the pride on their faces or in their play.

So many people have been asking for Coach Stringer's head on a platter. I have read the message boards that speculate that perhaps the coach has lost her touch. Who are we, Henry VIII? Do we just start chopping heads off if we become "tired" of someone? We'll let's try this take: it's not the kids, it's not the coaches. In my humble opinion, it's the adults who influenced the younger players on the team. This can be parents and/or coaches. Why do I say this? Simple: For all of their lives they have been told how wonderful they are and how they are the best players on the team. They are given the ball not only in clutch situations but all of the time, on every possession. When their teammates get the ball, they would pass to them and they would shoot. They did not have to play defense because there was no competition to what they could do offensively. Who can forget a recent transfer's mother's comments, "My daughter is trying to get the the WNBA and you can't go to the league sitting on the bench." Hmmmmmmm.

This type of "greatness bestowed on these athletes" did not translate to the Stringer Philosophy. The classic style of Coach Stringer is defense. Logically this makes sense, at least to this writer. If you don't stop your opponent from scoring, then it does not matter what you do on the offensive end. This is where the problem comes in: the younger players did not play defense to the level college requires to be a successful team. They do not know the fundamentals enough to let them flow naturally so they can learn the defensive sets. Certainly there has to be offense to win games and perhaps Coach should reevaluate some of the offensive sets but let's be honest, defense helps set you up to win a game. Look in the past at Rutgers successes, their big wins on their run to the 2007 National Championship game were won with their defense. In each game they held their opponent well under their season average. Duke was averaging nearly 90 points a game that season and they scored 52 points in that game. They held LSU to 35 points, in the entire game!

I think that this season has had a share of missed opportunities along with missed defensive assignments. I have not seen so many back door passes and easy layups scored against a Rutgers defense. And the "55" press? Forget about it! I think I've only seen it work once? And we were beaten deep several times on the press against Syracuse, that NEVER happens. What has happened is that the kids don't understand the value of solid defense. In other words: they have not bought into the Stringer Philosophy. Practices probably consist of constant defense because that is the philosophy. Then when they work on offense it is stressed as important but the players are so focused on defense that they can not think offensively. Who's fault? You can't blame the kids because they have been influenced by adults. The adults who were part of their lives are those that may not have instilled the value of teamwork, hard work and dedication. Personally I think that some of our younger athletes seem out of shape. Something I have not seen on a Rutgers team. It also seems that fundamentals are lost, and that makes it so hard when you are a college athlete. Who has time to learn many defensive and offensive sets as well as basic fast break techniques?

I do hope that the kids buy into the Stringer Philosophy because it has worked in the past. Defense leads to offense....steals lead to fast breaks which leads to points. Until the players get that and get the Stringer Philosophy then they will not have pride wearing the Rutgers uniform.

Thursday, February 25, 2010


55-52 with 28 seconds left, Brittnay Ray puts up a three pointer, it's short. St. John's gets the rebound and the player is fouled with :14.4. The clock stops and the fans put on their coats and leave. What? You are leaving? You have got to be kidding me! Do you know something about the fate of the two free throws that Nadirah McKenith is going to attempt? Really? You are leaving?!

What is it with "fans" that leave a close game with seconds left? And I do not mean 10 or 15 people, I mean 1/2 of the crowd getting up and leaving. Most of the people leaving are those who have the opportunity to sit in the lower lever seats where you have to donate your life to obtain tickets.

I've been seeing this scenario unfold for many, many years at Rutgers University. Frankly, I'm sick of it. Granted yes, it's been a difficult year for every RU fan and I might just let this slide if it wasn't for the fact that this happens at every game. It does not matter if we are winning, it's a nail bitter or we are getting blown out....the fans leave. Really, how difficult is it to leave the parking lot when there are 3,667 fans in attendance? It's not like going to Yankee Stadium on Opening Day and trying to leave with 54,000 other fans at 4:00 in the Bronx!

How do you think it looks to potential Rutgers players to see fans dropping support with 14 ticks left? If I were a recruit I might shake my head at them and think "wow, they can't even stay a few more seconds and show support?" If your team plays well or not, you owe it to the student athletes to show your support. Being a Division I student athlete on a top tier program is a feat in and of itself!

Come on people, support your student athletes. The least you can do is to wait until the end of the game and applaud them for their effort (which they showed quite a solid effort Wednesday night). Don't get me wrong, the fan support is great and the RAC can get quite loud when it needs to....just hang in there a few seconds and applaud their effort. They appreciate that we trek out to each home game and show support, so why can't you just wait and applaud their effort? Why stop at support during the big moments of the game? Why not wait the last :14.4 and applaud their effort?

I guess the only upside is that it sames me some time exiting the parking lot.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Husky Hurt

A brief hiatus.....but it's nearly March.

UCONN will win in San Antonio in the same fashion they did 8 years ago. Destroying anything in its path like Godzilla did to Tokyo. There is no question in my mind that UCONN will be Champions again. However, should Hawaii become the 50th state this winter to get snow, there is a chance they may stumble. Chances of either chance.

In research for this blog I decided to look at the stats for the team that I think could beat UCONN, the one that already has been beaten by them but played a good game against them, until the second half. That team is Duke.

We all know Duke is really good this year and we all know how good UCONN is this season. But then I looked at the stats and UCONN is in a class by itself, like the 2002 team. Here are some numbers I pulled:

Points Scored
2, 162-UCONN

Points Allowed

Points per game

Points Allowed per game

Field Goal %

3-Point FG %

Free Throw %

Score by Periods
852, 964-Duke
1200, 962-UCONN

Final Stat of interest....and just a side note...
All 5 starters (all 5!) are shooting over 40% in field goals (not 3-pointers) for UCONN. Let's break it down further: Maya Moore-52.8%, Tina Charles-62.6%, Kalana Green-59.1%, Tiffany Hayes-45.2%, Caroline Doty-41.8%. Most top caliber teams, including Duke would be lucky to have 2 hitting over 45% from the floor, UCONN has 4!

Bottom line, UCONN is a power and the National Championship will stay in Storrs for one more year. Player of the year will also stay in Storrs, but not a repeat for Moore as her teammate Tina Charles will walk away with POY and Wade trophy. If she doesn't, it's a travesty!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

A few things to discuss

Pre-Season All Americans
Is there anyone surprised by the pre-season All-American list?

Maya Moore-UCONN
Tina Charles-UCONN
Jayne Appel-Stanford
Jantel Lavender-Ohio State
Monica Wright-Virginia

Moore becomes only the 7th pre-season unanimous selection for the All-American squad. Let's see the company she is in:

Chamique Holdsclaw
Diana Taurasi
Alana Beard
Seimone Augustus
Candace Parker
Courtney Paris

I will take Moore over 50% of them.

Monica Wright puts UVA on the pre-season All American map, first nomination since Wendy Palmer was selected for the 1995-1996 season. Jantel Lavender is the only the second Buckeye on the roster, Jessica Davenport was the first.

On another note: Elena Delle Donne was an honorable mention for the pre-season All American squad...without playing a Division I game and with having taken a year off. Hmm, road trip to Newark? I think so....

Skylar Diggins is the real deal
So it was only an exhibition game, but it was an exhibition game against another college team (Indianapolis, to be exact). But what she did in her first game, in front of over 7,000 fans, was score 17 points. And she made an immediate impact when she came into the game by forcing a turnover and getting an assist, no jitters for her! Okay, so you say that it's the home court, she can't play on the road. See, that is where you are wrong...this kid is the real deal and Notre Dame will win the Big East...not this year since they barely have any inside height...but next year, and the year after, and the year after. Notre Dame NCAA champs in 2011.