Things that a Jersey guy took note of this week: The calendar says mid-February, but the intensity feels like early March in the college basketball season.
It would be hard to top Notre Dame’s 5 overtime victory over Louisville on Saturday night in which the Irish wiped out a 7 point Louisville lead in the final minute of regulation time and then turned the contest into the longest regular season game in Big East history.
The next night at Conte Form at Boston College, the Eagles and No. 4 Duke staged their own drama as the lowly Eagles (2-8 ACC, 10-13) gave mighty No. 4 Duke (21-2, 8-2) all it wanted and then some before missing a buzzer attempt in a 62-61 loss.
It was a good vs. good battle, with Duke’s Coach K and BC’s Steve Donahue matching coaching moves all night. Good stuff.
“They (BC)played well enough to win,” said Krzyzewski after the game, thankful that the Blue Devils. “But so did we.”
Let me say this quickly. Winter sucks. Having to deal with 30 inches of snow, a tree falling 10 feet from my house, no power and no electricity (back on Tuesday maybe) turned the inside of my home into a winter wonderland where you could see your breath. That plus no cable has made it a tough few days.
But we digress.
Recruiting season is over–at least for the time being–and the usual suspects had great years. A consensus Top 10 loaded with SEC schools such as Alabama, LSU, Florida, Mississippi and Georgia, as well as Ohio State Notre Dame and Michigan lead the way.
The of the ACC appeared to have a good season with schools such as Florida State, Clemson and Virginia Tech all in most Top 25 rankings.
Good recruiting is not so much quantity, but quality. Take USC, which has been hampered by NCAA scholarship restrictions the last few years. The Trojans only had 12 scholarships to offer, but Coach Lane Kiffin and his staff landed 5- 5-star recruits–the most of any school and 7 four star recruits. If even half that total develop into reasonable players, the Trojans will be back among the elite.
The problem, of course, is depth. What happens if a starter or starters are knocked out with injuries and you don’t have quality to replace them? That was part of the USC problem last season as the Trojans went from a Pre-season No. 1 team to a .500 also ran.
And then we have Boston College. The Eagles were ranked last in the ACC in recruiting. Even more frightening was that BC was ranked the worst BCS conference team in the country in recruiting.
New BC coach Steve Addazio was hired in December, which means that he was already behind the pack in recruiting which has become a two and sometime three season process. But of the 15 players that BC signed, none were ranked as five or four star prospects. Again, we don’t take those rankings all that seriously because just as many stars develop in college who weren’t highly ranked as the “can’t miss” prospects.
But one of the Addazio’s strengths is reportedly his ability to recruit. Addazio didn’t appear to steal any prospects with this class and he can talk all he wants about character and competitiveness, but there comes a time when talent prevails.
Lord knows, being ranked last in the ACC and last among the BCS schools means there is more than enough room to improve.
How bizarre is recruiting. Take the case of Florida high school running back Alex Collins, who committed to Arkansas, but had to wait a day because his mother wouldn’t sign the letter of intent, which requires a parent’s signature. Collins got his father to sign the LOI the next day.
Want a sleeper team in the NCAA tournament? Try UCLA. As our buddy Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times pointed out this week, watch for what the Bruins do in February as an indicator of how they will do in March. According to Plaschke, in UCLA’s three trips under Ben Howland to the Final, the Bruins were 18-4 in February. During the last two non-NCCA tournament seasons, the Bruins were a mediocre 8-8 in February. Which is why UCLA’s 59-57 win over Washington on Thursday drew extra attention…Just when the Celtics were being written off as old and crumbling, they put together a 6th straight game against the Los Angeles Lakers, a team that IS old and crumbling.. “We’re playing selfless and free, that’s how we have to be,” said Celtic coach Doc Rivers… BC radio announcer for college football and basketball Jon Meter Parel is still in the mix to become the voice of the Patriots to replace Gil Santos. Decision expected by early April. Who’s No. 1 battle continues. Less than a week after No. 3 Indian “upset” (Indiana was favored) No.1 Michigan, the Hoosiers travel to Champagne an lose a buzzer-beater basket to unranked Illinois….Magic continues for Bryant University and Coach Tim O’Shea, who have rebounded from two-game losing streak last week to re-establish themselves as team to beat in the Northeast Conference…Former Secretary of State, Condolzea Rice, one of the first two women to ever be extended an invitation to Augusta National is playing in the AT &T tournament at Pebble Beach this week. Rice has a 17 handicap.
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