This was one of the best I have read …. LOVED IT!!!! Trey should be writing for Sports Illustrated and ESPN. Randy
From the Stands
By Trey McLean
Some thoughts on hoops over the weekend, in no real order:
- Can you count to five? Of course you can. Now do it and move your hand out from your chest in a slashing motion and extend your arm every time you say a number. Can you do that? Of course you can.
- How hard is that? HOW HARD IS THAT? Pre-schoolers can do that. Dolphins and horses can do that. But a man paid to officiate basketball games cannot. Even I can count to five. I just did. How do you mess that up? You aren’t trying to figure out Pi or anything like that. It’s the number 5. 5. I could go to any Mother’s Day Out in America and find a 3-year that can count to five. And if I asked that 3-year old or pre-schooler or dolphin for a timeout, odds are better than even they aren’t going to NOT FINISH AND IGNORE ME. Because that is exactly what happened- the referee finished the count and ignored Cory Joseph.
- I mean, Cory Joseph is looking right at you and trying to call timeout, Mr. Referee. HE IS LOOKING RIGHT AT YOU AND YOU IGNORE HIS GESTURE FOR A TIMEOUT? WHY?
- The official tried to explain his actions after the game: “I had five seconds before the kid turned and signaled a timeout… I had to make a decision whether it was five seconds or a timeout, and I made the decision it was five seconds because I had counted five seconds before he called timeout.” That is just not true, Mr. Referee. It was clear you got to four seconds and that is when Cory Joseph turned to you to call timeout. As he is trying to call timeout, while you are counting off the fourth second, you ignore the timeout request and at that point you made your decision that was a five-second call. Let’s be clear- YOU DID NOT COUNT FIVE SECONDS BEFORE HE CALLED TIMEOUT. And if you did get to five seconds, what was the “decision” you had to make? If it was five seconds, there was no decision to make, was there? You messed this up, my man. Own it, Mr. Referee, and admit you made a mistake. Mistakes happen, but that explanation is nonsense. The cover up is always worse than the crime. Admit your crime. Admit the non-call on Derrick Williams on the play prior and the tirade in your ear about it from Arizona coach Sean Miller afterwards affected your decision.
- From Chip Brown at Orangebloods.com, I read that the general vibe around the locker room was that Texas was the victim of a makeup call for that non-call on Williams.
- I swear watching Sean Miller talk to Rick Barnes after the game you could almost see him say “what in the world was that?”
- And why isn’t that reviewable? Five seconds isn’t a judgment call. They review fouls, foot position and clock management, but not that? Why not take two minutes and check the review monitor. Not even two minutes, it would have taken five seconds. Or thereabouts.
- CBS tried to explain away the non-call by saying that you cannot call a timeout after four seconds. That is also not true. If that were the case, it would be the 4-second rule, wouldn’t it? That was a rule in the past, but not anymore. You have up until the five-second call to ask for a timeout. Come on, man. Know the rules.
- And then I heard another talking head say the count in his head was at five and while his arm gesture was not and the count in his head is the one that counts. How in the world is anyone supposed to know the clock in his head? And why would his hand gesture not match the count in his head? It would be because of one of three things his arm and his head are not on the same count: The referee is either 1.) Trying to deceive the player inbounding the ball, 2.) He doesn’t have the capacity to count and signal simultaneously or 3.) The media made it up and it is the most ridiculous excuse ever. If it is Nos.1 or 2, he should never be allowed to referee again. Actually if it’s No.2 he probably doesn’t even know he’s a referee now. If it is No.3, which I think it is, it was just a dumb thing to say and infuriating to an already infuriated fan base.
- As for the no call on the final play when J’Covan Brown was driving and Gary Johnson’s rebound shot missed, I don’t have a problem with it. It was a no-call on the other end when Tristan Thompson blocked Derrick Williams’ shot and it was a correct no-call on the other end. No problem with that all.
- The complaint I have is I wish Brown would have started his move to the basket a little earlier. It would have left a few seconds more for a second chance shot, but at the same time it would have left a few seconds for Arizona to get another shot off, too.
- The thing I don’t understand at all, though, is why Texas put themselves in a position for a 5-second call in the first place. Leading 67-65 with 12 seconds left why did Texas call timeout? I understand they had been going offense for defense at end, but come on. The second-best free throw shooter had the ball, Arizona had no timeouts left and all Jordan Hamilton had to do was get up court and Arizona would be forced to foul. Even if he missed them both, Texas would need all of those defensive players back on the court anyway, right? And with that being the last timeout how were they going to get back on the court for defense? They weren’t if the shot was missed. I just don’t understand how you call timeout and give them a chance to set their defense and get the turnover, which is exactly what happened.
- And what a ridiculous shot by Derrick Williams to tie the game and get the foul. Jordan Hamilton said he never felt any contact on that play, but him sliding in there and getting in front of Williams was going to produce something- either a charge or a block. I didn’t think it was much of a call, but that’s a situation where you force the referee’s hand. I think it would have been better if he just let him go. The game would be tied and Texas would be shooting to win the game with a timeout if needed. Still, he was trying to make a play on defense, so it is hard to criticize that. But the shot was sick. He was falling down, with someone in front of him, and he just threw it up and it went in. Insane. That was like a horse shot, but one that you never make. And, of course, in the crunch he hit his free throw. Derrick Williams is a lottery pick for a reason.
- The referees also botched the end of the UNC-Washington game. They missed a blatant goaltending at the buzzer and they did not review the clock on the terrible shot from Washington the play prior. UW should have had at least one second instead of the .6 or so they had, meaning that jump shot at the end that was goal tended would have been a three-point attempt rather than a foot on the line.
- And then there is the nonsense with Pitt vs. Butler. The first foul on Butler was silly enough, but I guess you could say he pushed the Pitt player out of bounds. With Butler up 70-69 and, what, two seconds to play? Pitt inbounded and tried a desperate, half court shot at the buzzer, with the Pitt player falling down out of bounds as he shot. They called a push on the defense and gave Pitt two free throws. I didn’t think it was a foul, but if it was, then why didn’t he get three free throws? He was shooting, right? He took a dribble and threw it up and there is no way Butler gets a foul on the floor before the shot. NO WAY. Not only was it a silly call but it was an incorrect call. Anyway, he got two. He made the first and missed the second and then our esteemed officiating crew called Pitt for a foul with no time left. Butler rebounded the ball on the missed free throw and a Pitt player had an arm across the Butler player’s chest as they came down. EAT YOUR WHISTLE, MAN. Unless he was bleeding, there is no way you call that. NO WAY. But you wanted to be a part of the game, so here we are. Butler got two free throws with .01 seconds left and made one and missing the second intentionally. And Pitt is done. If they call no fouls, like they should have, Butler wins 70-69, so the outcome was correct, but officials changed the game with those calls. Awful.
- And the feeling after that game was terrible, and I’m glad that the officials in the Texas/Arizona game let the players decide it. Except for that awful call.
- Learn how to count to five already.
- Have you ever seen the Oakland coach and Norm from Cheers in the same room? I don’t think that is a coincidence.
- I never realized how little I watch CBS. I’ve never seen even one second of 2 ½ Men and I don’t think I’ve even heard of half of the shows they are talking about.
- I heard Jon Madani on The Zone Monday morning say something awesome. “There are as many teams in the Sweet 16 from the city of Richmond (VCU, Richmond) as there are Big East teams in the Sweet 16.” Terrific and true.
- How is your bracket? I’m still alive, thanks to San Diego State.
- As for Pitt- don’t ever call me again. Ever. We are through. And this time, unlike the last five or six, I mean it.
- The teams I didn’t take seriously enough- Florida, Wisconsin, Marquette and Butler.
- Butler’s coach doesn’t look old enough to drive on the highway by himself, much less lead a basketball team. But, as Gus Johnson says, the guy is COLD BLOODED. Don’t be surprised if the big names make a run at him, despite him publicly saying he’s happy where he is.
- Florida State got their best player, Chris Singleton, back after injury, and Leonard Hamilton has the ‘Noles balling. Singleton was the ACC Defensive Player of the Year and his return was felt immediately. Watching them house Notre Dame you’d never know who the No.2 seed was and who the No.7 seed was. That’s my other team and has been all my life, if you didn’t know. F-L-O-R-I-D-A…S-T-A-T-E! FLORIDA STATE! FLORIDA STATE! FLORIDA STATE! WOOOOOOOO!
- I said last week I shouldn’t praise or criticize anyone because it always comes back to bite me. Remember when I said Texas A&M should have been higher seeded than K-State? No? Good. Me, neither.
- It looks like Kansas’ road got easier with Notre Dame getting ousted, but who knows? Richmond didn’t get to the Sweet 16 accidentally. The good news for Richmond is I have Kansas going at least one more round, and if my brackets are any indication, Richmond should win by double digits since I picked Kansas.
- Enough with the four play-in games being “Round One” of the NCAA Tournament. I kept seeing “Round Three” and it’s messed with my head. It’s a play-in game, not a Tournament game. They are not actually IN the Tournament yet, hence the phrase “play-in.” If they are already IN the Tournament then let’s call it, you know, THE TOURNAMENT instead of a play-in game. Stop it.
- Bruce Pearl will not be back at Tennessee. Cheating and then getting stomped in the opening round of the NCAA Tourney are not appealing to very many schools. It will, however, get you a $1 million settlement and a TV gig as a color analyst. But don’t you dare let those players sell their gold pants or trade their own property for tattoos or anything, because that is just wrong.
- The list of coaching potentials for ou varies depending on who you talk to, but one name that keeps coming up in all circles is Marquette’s Buzz Williams. He’s a Texan that went to college in Oklahoma City and got his graduate degree from Texas A&M Kingsville. If you’ve ever heard him talk you know very quickly that he is not from Milwaukee or anywhere else near his current team. I think, going to school a few miles away and growing up down here, he would be a great fit for them. He’s a heck of a coach as well, getting the Golden Eagles to the Sweet 16 this season and making the Dance all three years he has been there. He knows the area, the rivalries and whatnot and he is a proven coach at a program. While I detest them, the sooner basketball team has the potential to be a program as well. They were in the Final 4 in 2002, were always in the mix for the Big 12 crown and have the ability to be a national TV draw with the right guy at the top. While Jeff Capel is a very nice guy, it was clear that didn’t have whatever it was to compete with the other coaches in the Big 12. I don’t see ou going after another up and comer, but rather getting an established guy that has more experience than potential. That guy looks like Buzz Williams to me. Yuck, I need a shower.
- Billy Gillespie is the new basketball coach at Texas Tech. Whatever you may think of him, he’s a damn good basketball coach and a heck of a recruiter. He will get Tech relevant again very quickly. He is also going to wreck shop at some happy hours in Lubbock. Start your engines, greater Lubbock dining/entertainment establishments, BCG is on his way.
- How awesome will the Big 12 basketball schedule by next year? Everyone is going to play everyone twice, meaning two games with Kansas, Missouri and K-State. A home and home with the big names from the former North is sweet. The downside is two games with Iowa State, but what are you gonna do?
- If a tree falls in the woods and no one is around, will it care if Colorado gets to the NIT Final Four in Madison Square Garden? The answer is clearly no. I mean, it’s a tree, it doesn’t like basketball. Well, not NIT basketball.
Other, non-basketball notes:
- Texas baseball swept K-State over the weekend. Why is that so awesome? Because they owned us last year. They beat us in basketball, at home, on senior day. They beat us in football in what I think was the lowest point in an awful year, so this is nice. Scoreboard, Purple. In the face. IN THE FACE!
- Notre Dame must pay $77,500 for the death of Declan Sullivan, the student manager who was frantically tweeting about his situation minutes before the scissor-lift he was filming Notre Dame’s football practice crashed and killed him due to high winds. The OSHA board of Indiana said he should never have been up there in those conditions and fined the school $77,500 for six safety violations. The football staff told the OSHA investigators the winds were not that high, around 22 miles per hour. But according to the National Weather Service that day, the winds were gusting 25-35 miles per hour, so that was just a lie. Why is that important? Because scissor-lifts should not be used when winds are over 28 miles per hour, and it is written right there on them, and clearly “25-35 mph gusts” fall into that category of “do not use.” That day they had the lowest barometric pressure ever recorded in that area of Indiana and conditions were similar to a hurricane. Everyone knew the weather was bad that day and Declan protested, both to his boss and on his Twitter. In fact the video staff even held another member off the scissor-lift because they feared for her safety. The scissor-lift collapsed with Sullivan on it and head coach Brian Kelly still carried on with practice as others sorted out the crash. When he finally went over and saw what was happening, he sent his team inside. And now they it appears they were being less than completely honest with the OSHA investigators. Expect there to be a lot more zeros in the payout Notre Dame will issue to the Sullivan family in the wrongful death lawsuit that will soon follow.
- Brian Kelly gets to keep his job after that? What about the sexual assault allegations surrounding his team that have never been addressed? No reprimand at all? But you guys make sure Dez Bryant serves the entire season for his lunch with Deion Sanders and you sure better clamp down on those personal-property-for-tattoos problems in Columbus, Ohio.
- Stephen Garcia has been suspended for violating team rules at South Carolina. Wouldn’t it be a bigger story if Stephen Garcia had NOT been suspended? Doesn’t this happen all the time?
- It’s been an interesting off-season for our lovely friends in Norman. Three players have been arrested for possession, DUI and “interference with official process,” whatever that means. The school had to self-report NCAA violations on the staff after they found out a player refused to sign a log book documenting voluntary workouts. That alone is not a violation, but members of the coaching staff had “improperly questioned players” about their lack of attendance to those voluntary workouts. That is a violation. The University had the player that refused to sign that practice log provide ou’s “…compliance director with a recording of defensive backs coach Willie Martinez asking why he had missed a voluntary workout.” You know what the means? It means he wore a wire, or a tapped a phone. I think it was a wire. I have a vision of Martinez frisking him and saying something like “did you come alone?” and talking into his hands so the Feds can’t get pictures of him from their unmarked vans. And the ou compliance SWAT units talking into their sleeves saying “Swarm! Swarm!” and kicking in his office door. Because of these violations, as well the ou strength and conditioning staff knowingly and intentionally violating the eight-hour-per-week limit per athlete in the off-season, the sooners were forced to miss a week of the off-season. And because of “snow” Bob Stoops delayed spring practice so they could keep on running. What a peach.
Let’s wrap up the Texas basketball season and see what is on the horizon for the team.
As you all know, Texas lost to Arizona in the Second Round of the NCAA Tournament Sunday night, 70-69. And it sucked. The Horns committed too many turnovers, made too few baskets (at one point Texas had 10 field goals and 10 turnovers in the first half) and never found a way to unleash the beast that is Tristan Thompson all night. Early on Arizona couldn’t miss and they jumped out to a 13-point lead, but Texas rallied on the back of J’Covan Brown and took the lead with seconds to play. But a comedy of errors, both from Texas and Mr. 5-count, undid it and the Horns are going home after two games. Just like that, it’s over.
I know it’s disappointing and I’ve seen the vocal contingent that wants some radical changes, but let’s take a step back and look at what happened this season, shall we?
With all the losses Texas suffered going into the 2010/11 season, it is easy to see why the National Media didn’t pay them much attention. Damion James, the school leader in career starts and the Big 12 conference leader in double-doubles and rebounds, was in the NBA. Also in the NBA was center Dexter Pittman, the inside force for Texas, as well as freshman Avery Bradley, who played the most minutes on the team in the 2009/10 season. Guard Varez Ward, the best player on the court for Texas in the 2009 Tourney loss to Duke, transferred out to be closer to his ailing mother and Dogus Balbay was returning from a major knee surgery. Only a few players logged meaningful minutes the previous year and two incoming freshmen, from Canada by way Findlay Prep Academy, were going to be asked to step in and pick up the load immediately. Oh, yeah, and Coach Rick Barnes completely changed the offense in the off-season and spent the fall installing it. It is no wonder Texas didn’t crack the top 25 pre-season polls and were considered by many an afterthought in the Big 12.
The team with all the buzz was Kansas State, with their insane coach and Jacob Pullen returning. The Wildcats were picked to win the Big 12 and Kansas, being Kansas, was picked second. The Horns talent impressed enough coaches in the conference to get them a pre-season third place prediction, but the national magazines and websites were much more enamored with Baylor and Lace Dunn, who started the season ranked as high as 9th, and Missouri and their “40 minutes of hell” pace. The Horns were just another team with a bunch of new starters, a new offense and chemistry issues.
It was clear early on that the chemistry issues were no longer an issue. It seems the team had a “clear the air” meeting and they were all on the same page. The two freshmen many thought of as disgruntled in 2009/10 were now making plays and playing defense and settling into their roles- Jordan Hamilton as the starter on the wing and J’Covan Brown coming off the bench as the first option. Rick Barnes also changed his approach, allowing his team to be more creative in the offense and letting them take quicker shots without benching them, and you could see the joy was back on the court. The team liked each other, played hard for Barnes and trusted their teammates. They also played VERY, VERY well.
Those two true freshmen from Canada by way of Findlay Prep turned out to be very good. Guard Cory Joseph won the starting job opposite Dogus Balbay and Tristan Thompson took over in the middle for Dexter Pittman. Joseph hit a little rim-rattling jump shot at the buzzer to beat North Carolina on the road and Thompson was a 6-foot-8 monster that could run the court and finish inside like no other big man in Texas history. The team was clicking, the defense was smothering and the new guys were making plays. This team that was pretty much an afterthought was destroying people, smoking then No.3 Michigan State in East Lansing, annihilating Missouri and A&M and beating Kansas in Lawrence for the first time and were considered by many to be the top overall seed in the coming NCAA Tournament.
And then other coaches started to adjust and the fatigue and inexperience caught up. The Horns hit a skid late in the year and lost their Big 12 Regular Season Title to Kansas, and then caught a red hot KU team looking for payback in an almost-home game in the Big 12 Conference Title Game in Kansas City. Texas slid from a No.1 to a No.4 as they finished second to KU in the regular season and the Conference Tournament. And once the NCAA Tournament starts, anything can happen and usually does. In 2006 Kenton Paulino hit a buzzer-beater to send Texas to the Elite 8. In 2003, Brian Boddicker blocked UConn’s Denim Brown in the closing seconds to get Texas out of the Sweet 16 and into the Elite 8 in San Antonio. Last year Wake Forest hit a buzzer beater to knock Texas out. Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose and it didn’t go Texas’ way this year.
While Texas failed to live up to what we as fans wanted, I think a case could be made they actually overachieved from the pre-season. You don’t get any points for being-better-than-expected-but-not-as-good-as-you-could-have-been, so it is nice Texas finished No.2, but at the end of the day they are home and the season is over. But there is hope for the future.
For everything Dogus Balbay brings to the table, scoring is not part of it. He can dish, he can play outstanding defense, but he isn’t able to make defenses respect his offensive game. It is pretty phenomenal what the Horns did this year playing four on five many times at the offensive end. Next year Texas is going have a true point guard in Myck Kabongo. The 5-star point guard from Canada by way of Findlay Prep (yep, same route) is considered by many to be the “next TJ Ford.” That is quite a statement. He’s actually taller than TJ Ford (I’m taller than TJ Ford) but has the same presence and command on the court. He can get inside, dish to a big man or an open player outside, or take it to the hole and make a shot himself. He has the ability, like TJ, to get his own shot when necessary.
J’Covan Brown was the only player that seemed to be able to do that for Texas this year, but Brown does it with a scorer’s mentality. That isn’t a bad thing at all, but Kabongo has that point guard presence to find another open player as he is creating his own shot, meaning he could score or set someone else up just as easily, and that is terrific. Being from Findlay and from Canada, he knows Thompson and Joseph well and the coveted chemistry that makes every team successful will already be in place with three of the starters. Jordan Hamilton has already said he plans to return and the word on the street is Tristan Thompson will also be back, but that isn’t as much of a lock. I personally think he will be back so that he, Joseph and Kabongo can play a year of college ball together. I can’t wait to see what this Texas offense will look like with a true point guard, and elite point guard, like Kabongo running the show.
Expect Jordan Hamilton’s points-per-game to shoot up as defenses have no choice but to consistently collapse on Kabongo, which they just didn’t have to do this season. Expect more offense from Cory Joseph. He led the team in minutes played this season and it was clear to me that he ran out of gas. Now that he (and Thompson) knows the rigors of the college basketball season they will spend this off-season getting better prepared for what they know is coming. A year of conditioning, learning the offense and working with essentially the same cast from this year will only make this team better.
I think you’ll see Kabongo and Cory Joseph as the starting guards and J’Covan Brown coming off the bench, unless Texas decides to go small and starts all three. I think Brown will be the sub for both guards most of the time. Jordan Hamilton and Tristan Thompson are locks for the middle and wing, leaving one spot open at forward. Clint Chapman redshirted this year to create some space between he and Matt Hill and I think you’ll see him a lot. He has better ball skills that Hill and could be more of an interior force. Expect to see Alexis Wangmene, who played well in spots last year, compete for that job as well. He is terrific from the free throw line and is a phenomenal athlete; he just needs to play smarter at times. The other player to watch is Jonathan Holmes. The 6-foot-8, 232-pound freshman-to-be is a big enough to play now and with that size he gives Texas another big option inside to block shots, get rebounds and defend the bigs on the other team. I guess it doesn’t matter who starts, because all three will play.
This is going to be a dynamite team next year if Thompson comes back like I think he will. Kabongo is the key. He has the ability make everyone better offensively, and while he isn’t Balbay on the defensive end, his offense more than makes up for that. Will he hit that dreaded freshman wall? Maybe. It doesn’t seem to affect point guards as much, but it might. Texas has enough experience this year to overcome that, though, and I think you’ll see this team take the next step in 2011/12.
Back to football next week. Enjoy your brackets.
From the Stands