Archive for the ‘College Basketball Insider’ Category

Hoops insider: Can Fox and Georgia fashion a fast finish?

For the record, Georgia is unbeaten since Mark Fox got ejected at Tennessee. (AP photo)

For the record, Georgia is unbeaten since Mark Fox got ejected at Tennessee. (AP photo)

Hoops Hysterics

1. Does Georgia have a chance to finish strong? Winning at Mississippi State on Saturday gave the Bulldogs their first victory of substance since they beat Notre Dame in November, and this week offers an opportunity to consolidate gains. They face South Carolina, which is awful, on the road, and then get Vanderbilt at Stegeman Coliseum on Sunday. Win both and it’s possible Mark Fox’s team could finish 7-9 or even 8-8 in SEC play.

2. Which is the nation’s most disappointing team? Aforementioned Vandy has shooters on the perimeter and size underneath and experience everywhere — its contributors are either seniors or juniors, which rarely happens in contemporary college hoops — and still it has lost eight games, five of them at Memorial Gym. Ranked seventh in the preseason ESPN/USA Today coaches’ poll, Vandy didn’t receive a single vote this week.

3. Which is the nation’s …

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Hoops insider: Does UGA have a shot versus No. 1 Wildcats?

Will it be a stress-free night for Coach Cal at the Stegasaurus? (AP photo)

A stressful night for Coach Cal at the Stegasaurus? (AP photo)

(Yet again, let me note that this feature is part — but only a small part — of our weekly college basketball package, which runs every Tuesday in the print AJC. I offer my contribution for your digital perusal.)

Hoops Hysterics

1. Does Georgia have a prayer against No. 1 Kentucky on Tuesday? Sure. As good as the Wildcats can be, they trailed in the second halves of both SEC road games, and neither of those — at Auburn, at Tennessee — was against top-shelf competition. At 1-4 in league play, the Bulldogs aren’t top-shelf, either. But they’re at home, which means something.

2. If you had to pick one team against the field to win the national championship, would it be Kentucky? North Carolina? Missouri? Syracuse? None of the above. I’d pick the same team I picked — incorrectly — last March. I’d pick Ohio State because I think Jared Sullinger, whose numbers are almost the same as a sophomore as they were as a …

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College hoops insider: Georgia State as an at-large team? Nah

If Georgia State doesn't win the CAA tournament, it won't be celebrating on Selection Sunday. (AJC photo by Hyosub Shin)

No CAA tournament title would mean no Selection Sunday glee. (AJC photo by Hyosub Shin)

(Again, let me note that these, er, nuggets are part of our weekly college basketball package, which runs every Tuesday in the print AJC. I offer them for your digital delight.)

Hoops Hysterics

1. What’s the best conference in the land? It’s not the ACC (too top-heavy) or the SEC (too Kentucky-heavy), and it’s not the Pac-12 (nary a team in the Top 25). That leaves the Big Ten (five teams in the Top 25), the Big East (also five in the Top 25) and the Big 12 (three in the top seven). For quality at the top, we’ll say the Big 12. For overall depth, we’ll say the Big Ten.

2. Who’s the best freshman in the land? Take your pick between Kentucky Wildcats. Center Anthony Davis — he of the unibrow so famous it’s already a feature on Bluegrass T-shirts — could be the first player drafted this summer, but forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist has been the Big Blue’s MVP to date, scoring 24 points against …

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College basketball insider: Georgia State, conference champ?

Georgia State's Ron Hunter: Setting his cap for a title? (AJC photo by Phil Skinner.)

Georgia State's Ron Hunter: Setting his cap for a title? (AJC photo by Phil Skinner.)

(A word of explanation: This feature was part of our first weekly college basketball package, which is scheduled to run every Tuesday in the print AJC. I offer it to you in the interest of full digital disclosure.)

Hoops hysterics

1. Who’s the third-best team (behind North Carolina and Duke) in the ACC? Right now it’s Virginia, but there’s some question as to how the deliberative Cavaliers have gotten to 14-1. Their only win over a ranked team came against Michigan, and their loss was to unranked TCU. Their next two games are on the road — at Duke and then at Georgia Tech. We’ll know more soon.

2. Who’s the second-best team (behind Kentucky) in the SEC? Florida lost its conference opener at Tennessee. Mississippi State lost its conference opener at Arkansas. The team to watch is Vanderbilt, which lost four times in pre-conference play (twice in overtime) but has won five in a row and …

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Kennesaw’s Tony Ingle: An overnight sensation after 36 years

Tony Ingle on the night KSU made nationwide noise. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

Tony Ingle on KSU's night of nights. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

Tony Ingle began coaching in 1974. (Or, as he says, “when Moby Dick was a minnow.”) He’s 58 and has five grandchildren. He awoke Tuesday to find himself an overnight sensation.

Kennesaw State beat Georgia Tech of the snooty ACC by 17 points Monday night, and on Tuesday ESPN’s “SportsCenter” kept asking/answering the question, “Who is Kennesaw State?” And KSU’s coach, the aforementioned Tony Ingle, heard from everyone he’d ever known via every means of modern communication — e-mail, text message and calls on his home, office and cell phones.

Not that sudden fame is always a blessing. Said Ingle: “I even heard from a bill collector. He thought I’d died.”

So now we’re asking: Who is Tony Ingle? And we start by saying, “Pull up a chair.”

He was born in Dalton with a facial deformity that has required five surgeries. His dad worked in a saw mill and a cotton mill. Ingle played guard at North Whitfield High and then …

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The Pitino affair: Sex in a restaurant, a job in jeopardy

He’s among the most successful and charismatic people in the Western World, but I’m not sure success and charisma will save Rick Pitino. This isn’t He Said/She Said. This is He Admitted To Police, which is an altogether different thing. And here, according to Andrew Wolfson of the Courier-Journal, is what the Louisville basketball coach has said he did:

• Met a woman in a restaurant and, after the establishment had closed its doors, had sex with the woman while an assistant was within earshot.

• Gave the woman $3,000 to have an abortion after she informed him she was pregnant.

• Met with the woman at the condominium of the team’s equipment manager, who would subsequently marry the woman.

Were he still an NBA coach, this would still be a seamy matter. Because Pitino works for a state-supported institution of higher learning, that makes it something more. The University of Louisville is in business not just to sell tickets to basketball games but to provide an education for the …

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Bradley’s Buzz: Michael Vick goes free, but to do what?

Is the Wildcat the wild card in Vick’s future?

As of today, Michael Vick will no longer be in federal custody. The obvious and much-debated question: What’s next? The non-answer: Nobody knows.

In Sporting News Today, Albert Breer breaks down the now-familiar issues and Vinny Iyer lists six NFL teams that might be willing to hire Vick. (San Francisco, Miami, Jacksonville, Washington, Oakland, Seattle.) Two weeks ago Sports Illustrated, in an article by L. Jon Wertheim and Jack McCallum, examined the bigger picture: Hasn’t Vick already paid a higher price than most erring athletes?

But a key question can only be answered by Vick: Is it more important for him to play quarterback as he once played quarterback or to play in the NFL? Because those aren’t necessarily the same things anymore.

Vick’s best chance to find quick NFL employment might be to agree to serve as a designated implementer of the Wildcat formation. (This assumes Roger Goodell clears Vick to play, which the guess …

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Bradley’s Buzz: Frenchy makes an impression in NY minute

The fallout on Francoeur, and there’s a lot of it

The nice thing — well, one of the nice things — about hanging around New York is you can buy four papers a day. Pretty soon, though, you realize most every sports story in all four papers contains the same quotes. (New York writers, of which there are many, tend to travel in packs.) So I won’t offer every link regarding Jeff Francoeur’s arrival, lest we be here all week. I’ll hit the highlights:

• How did the deal happen? According to Adam Rubin of the New York Daily News: “Mets GM Omar Minaya said assistant GM John Ricco suggested investigating the availability of the 25-year-old Francoeur during an afternoon brainstorming session on Thursday. The deal was completed within 24 hours.” (And you think the Braves weren’t thirsting to dump Frenchy?)

• The headline on Jay Greenberg’s post-trade column in the New York Post says it all: “Minaya’s swap is better than doin’ nothing.

• From David Lennon of Newsday comes this analysis: …

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Bradley’s Buzz: Draft grades for the Hawks (and Thrashers)

Hey, straight “B’s” put you in the Beta Club

A sentence seldom written: People really liked what the Hawks did in the draft! Chad Ford of ESPN.com gave them a B-plus, questioning whether Jeff Teague is truly a point guard but also saying this:

“On the other hand, he was ranked in our top five for much of the year, and had his team not crashed in the tournament or had he gone back to school for another year, he would have been a top-10 pick. So the Hawks got great value here.”

Writing for SI.com, Scott Howard-Cooper awarded a straight B and claimed taking big men B.J. Mullens or Taj Gibson “would have been a risk or a reach.” Adi Joseph of NBAdraft.net bestowed another B-plus, calling Teague “a great fit.”

And Joey Whelan of Slam Online handed down a B, saying “Teague has all the physical attributes you love to see in a floor general—athleticism, speed and quickness—but is he going to be a good distributor?” But Whelan also noted: “Eric Maynor, a more NBA-ready point guard, was …

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A big idea: Hawks should take Augusta’s Siler in Round 2

I stand before you a weary man. I’m tired of hearing that Al Horford isn’t a center (because he is) and that the Hawks won’t amount to anything until they find a center. But being my dogged self, I wasn’t willing to sit idly by as the conversation raged on the ol’ blog. I actually went out — at the prodding of reader JSS, who put a bug in my tin ear — and found the Hawks a center.

Actually, Rick Sund and his crew beat me to it. They had Garret Siler of Augusta (Ga.) State in for a workout last week. But I’m not just giving him a look. I’m saying: Take him in Round 2! Make him the draft’s 49th pick! And then hire Tree Rollins, who helped groom Shaquille O’Neal in Orlando, as a special assistant and let him spend two years tutoring the big man.

Garret Siler is, as we say in the trade, a great story. He attended a fine arts school — he was a singer and played in the band — until moving to Richmond Academy as a senior. That’s where Dip Metress, the coach of Augusta State, saw him, …

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