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Friday, March 16, 2012

Why We Watch the Tournament, Part II

#15 Lehigh 75 #2 Duke 70.

One of the biggest upsets in college basketball history.

Someone forgot to tell Lehigh coach Brett Reed and star C.J. McCollum that they were supposed to make a good show of it and then lose the game.

What a performance! Just awesome.

Congratulations to Lehigh and Norfolk State for jobs very well done tonight.


Blogger George Clark said...

Bucknell's road win at Arizona deserves mention as another mid-major triumph over a "Big Time" program. If anything, Lehigh's Patriot League championship suggests that a second bid should have been awarded to the Bison. I must ask, SportsProf, if you have the story on Zeno Edosomwan? Evidently Scalese could not bend the AI rules that far, since the much-sought-after big man will spend another year in prep school.

6:53 PM  
Blogger SportsProf said...


Thanks for your post. Good point about Bucknell. And wasn't the Lehigh game fun to watch?

It's a shame that the Tigers couldn't have coalesced better early in the Ivy season. When I saw them play -- at home against Cornell and against Penn -- they looked very tough to beat. Oh well. . .

As for Harvard, I don't have much information on that. I also wonder how much longer Amaker will stay there, the same way I wonder how much longer Shaka Smart will stay at VCU. Look, people thought Steve Donahue might have stayed at Cornell forever, but he didn't, so I think that it's only a matter of time before Amaker goes to greener pastures where recruiting is (much) easier. As for Smart (my digression), he seems so terrific (his top assistant interviewed for the Princeton job last year) that Illinois would be nuts not to try to get him.

7:39 AM  
Blogger George Clark said...

USA Today broke down Smart's contract; he's "obligated" to VCU through 2019 at $1.15+M per year.Lots of hurdles for potential poachers. On the whole, Henderson's shake-down cruise has been a great success. He's beaten everybody in the League, played 19 of 31 (so far)away from home, and he's got a great returning group. Bilsky's getting the boosters to spring for at least two CBI home games is AD'ing at its best (are you listening, Gary W?). Perhaps we'll see you on Wednesday. Butler minus 1 at The Palestra. Pitt minus 8 at home against the Tigers. It's a long drive from Scranton to the Iron City.

9:26 AM  
Blogger SportsProf said...


I saw the same article regarding Penn's boosters, but, as a long-time Princeton fan, don't care as much about the difference as you do. It's not the NCAA tournament and not the NIT, and very few follow it -- ESPN doesn't, the newspapers don't cover it much (unless it's a local team), and I am not sure who else does, either. I once watched college football bowls when the best teams went and everyone else stayed home. Now I watch very few for the precise reason that too many go. I know that Gary Walters has his detractors, but I wouldn't get down on him for this.

5:53 PM  
Blogger George Clark said...

The issue that concerns me is not Gary Walters as AD. He personifies Princeton basketball and all of its positive aspects. What bothers me is that our kids earned a post-season opportunity (regardless of how many people are watching) and no one on our side thought to do what Bilsky did not hesitate to do. The "reward" for a very good season was an inconvenient journey to somewhere in Indiana during mid-terms while the Quakers remain snug in their own beds. The Republicans talk about "punishing success." Beating Evansville has earned us ANOTHER trip...this time to play the Pitt Panthers!!! An opportunity to showcase the "program" at home has been lost or at the very least overlooked. Bilsky raised whatever he needed in an hour. This tells Jerome Allen "We appreciate what you have done and we are behind you." If it occurred to Gary W, or anyone else, to try it has not been disclosed. And, it tells the boosters that they are very much an important part of the effort. This has nothing to do with the stature of the CBI, but everything to do with supporting the basketball program.

8:52 PM  
Blogger SportsProf said...

This is where I part company with you on "support for the basketball program." Enough is enough. This is not a real serious tournament, per se, so much so that ESPN doesn't publish the scores in their banner at the bottom of the screen. The b-ball program gets plenty of support, even more so than the women's program which right now is far better. I have no problem with Princeton's not doing anything more, and I have no compulsion to keep up with Penn. They can do what they want to do, and I'm fine with that. As it turned out, it didn't do them all that much good.

And now something that we can agree upon -- Princeton had better get quicker, play better defense and not yield 49 points in a half again.

10:21 PM  
Blogger George Clark said...

The point is not the seriousness of the tournament "per se". It's not about keeping up with Penn, either. What I applaud at Penn is the environment they have created and are trying to sustain around their team and program. The invitation to play in this "unserious" tournament was embraced at the basketball places, the Evansvilles, the Butlers and the Penns. Their players got to play at home. Ours were sent on two very uncomfortable road trips. If I was recruiting against Princeton on behalf of, say, Penn, I might point out the differences in "environment." Zack Rosen played his last game in the Cathedral, which is the way it should be. Doug Davis, in his last game, became the second career scorer in front of a group of 21 Tiger fans, which included the other players, the coaches and me. This is clearly not about the men's program vs. the women's. Support for these teams is not, and should not, be a zero sum game.
It was a three point game last night inside of ten minutes in the first half. Things turned around very quickly, but, incredibly, our guys had a great second half. Pitt is something like 162-19 in their building. We might beat them twice in ten tries but not there. I guess you can see where I am going with this. (Your point about quickness and defense is valid. In the second half we yielded a more manageable 33.)

11:06 PM  
Blogger SportsProf said...

Okay, I see your point. You are a bigger fan of Princeton basketball than I am and drill down more deeply. To me, basketball gets plenty of emphasis at Harvard, Princeton and Penn, and perhaps too much at that (given that it's the Ivy League and that a Sweet 16 appearance is perhaps the most an Ivy team can hope for in an absolutely "great" year). My view is that the Ivies are hypocritical on the sports front and emphasize them way out of proportion to the overall mission of the universities. As a result, the details regarding support for the team in the CBI -- or not -- get lost on me rather quickly.

I wonder if a smart kid really would go to a Penn over Princeton because of the point you raise. If you want an urban school with a great basketball tradition and Wharton, Penn is a great choice. Likewise, there are many compelling reasons to go to Princeton. Personally, I would hope that something like Steve Bilsky's being able to garner two home games in the CBI won't tip the balance in favor of Penn over Princeton. Perhaps if it were to, that wouldn't be the type of kid either school would want, anyway.

1:01 PM  

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