Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Izzo and Oregon

Media reports say that Oregon wants Tom Izzo to become its new coach. And the Ducks are apparently willing to pay a boat load of money (Insert Nike founder Phil Knight here)to lure the Michigan State coach.

Why would Izzo ever consider going to Oregon? Would it be the money? Even if he would become the highest paid coach, how long would that last? Would it be for the challenge? Is Izzo getting tired of competing for national championships at Michigan State? Is he tired of the Big Ten Conference? He is already leader of the pack among Big Ten coaches. It would be a step down to be at the top of the PAC-10 Conference coaches. His recruiting lines are well established. Doesn't he want retire at Michigan State?

I wouldn't think Oregon poses as an attractive job for a coaching giant such as Izzo. Oregon has a media relations problem and its not the Ducks' fault. They live on the west coast--bad for publicity. People in the Midwest, East and South rarely watch their games (because of the late start) or know anything about the team. Case-in-point, who was Oregon's center or point guard this past season? I sure cannot tell you those answers. How about fellow PAC-10 Oregon's State's overall record? You get the point.

Working essentially for Knight could become good and bad. The good is that resources are plentiful. The bad is there could be a problem with intervention.

And think about the important things such as school colors. Michigan State offers a dark green. Oregon offers electric green and yellow. Couldn't you just see it the conservative Izzo wearing an electric yellow sport coat on the sidelines?

I will be very surprised if this marriage happens. But again, stranger things have happened.

Do you think Izzo leaves Michigan State?

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Northern Iowa's Basketball Future Appears Bright

The painful memories of Northern Iowa's loss to Michigan State in the Sweet 16 is fading. The Panthers accomplishing amazing feats this past season and established a new higher standard for Northern Iowa basketball. Maybe some year soon, the Panthers can win four games in the NCAA tourney and earn a trip to the Final Four.

Anything is truly possible for this team. The Panthers proved that this past season.

Northern Iowa should be competitive next year and challenge for another NCAA bid. Granted, the Panthers lose three starters off the 2009-10 squad (Ali Farokhmanesh, Adam Koch and Jordan Eglseder),but there are plenty of players back with game experience. Next year's leader will be Kwadfzo Ahelegbe. This point guard can play and look for him to have a big senior season. Sophomore-to-be-Jake Koch will also be solid. He has an opportunity to become a better player than his brother Adam. Adam was Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year in 2009-10. Plus, there are plenty of bench players who performed well in coach Ben Jacobson's 10-player rotation.

Northern Iowa is now on the nation's basketball radar. This is good and bad. The Panthers have the respect and honor due with a great season. The downside is other teams will now definitely bring their A-game when playing Northern Iowa. They are no longer this lowly, unknown mid-major from the middle of the country.

So, the Panthers will need to step it up more and move to a higher level. And I think they will accomplish the challenge.

Jacobson will continue to preach defense, shot selection and team unity. This will assure Northern Iowa is competitive next season and beyond.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Iowa Hires Another Mid-Major Hoops Coach

Iowa Athletic Director Gary Barta hopes lightening doesn't strike twice.

About four years ago, Barta hired Todd Lickliter from a successful mid-major in Butler University. We all know how that one turned out. It was a failure with a capital F.

Today, Barta announced his second new mid-major coach in Siena's Fran McCaffery.

McCaffery was quick to dismiss the similarities with the Lickliter hire. He said that he has turned around three programs. Lickliter did just one.

Well, like new coaching announcements, they were selling hope in Iowa City, Iowa. Hawkeye fans need lots of hope these days. The program is in terrible shape. I don't know what is worse: losing all those games for three years or fan apathy.

Iowa fans were crying out for a coach that runs an uptempo, entertaining style. It sounds like McCaffery will meet that wish.

If first impressions are correct, his demeanor is like the last coach. Maybe he does have fire in his belly, but it didn't show (if he does) at the press conference. Sounds like Mrs. McCaffery is the vocal one in the family. The best part of the press conference for me was when Barta mentioned that they have a seat belt on the Mrs. chair in the arena.

Mrs is probably the best player in the family. She played college ball at Notre Dame. Maybe they should play a game of h-o-r-s-e against each other in Hawkeye Carver Arena. That would probably draw a nice crowd.

Indeed, McCaffery has a solid track record. Now we will see if he can put people in the seats and successfully match up with other Big Ten coaches like Thad Motta, Tom Izzo and Bruce Weber.

What do you think of the new Iowa coach?

Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Slipper Falls Off

Northern Iowa's fun run through the NCAA tourney is over. And it feels like someone punched me in the gut.

When the reality of 59-52 Michigan State set in last night, it was sad.

The dream was over for the Panthers. There will be no Final Four appearance or national championship in 2010. The UNLV and Kansas victories were really longtime memories now.

Things looked promising in the first half as the Panthers took a 29-22 halftime lead.
But in the second half, the sky came down. Northern Iowa couldn't connect on shots including the three ball. Northern Iowa scored just 23 second-half points.

The Panthers finished the game 17-for-44 from the field for just 38.6 per cent. Usual sharp-shooter Ali Farokhmanesh was a mirror of Northern Iowa's problems. He went 2-9 and just 1-6 from the three-point ark. The Panthers normal excellent free throw shooting also left them. They were only 14-21 from the free area.

The Spartans put it into high gear in the second half. They were able to score points from the inside and outside. Plus, they connected on the free throw line. They also benefited from Northern Iowa's turnovers. The Spartan do possess great athletes and it showed in the second half.

So Michigan State goes on to its familiar push for the Final Four. Northern Iowa has memories of what it accomplished in this historic season.

What do you think of the Panther's year?

Friday, March 26, 2010

Butler Rocks

Butler dashed Syracuse's national title hopes last night. It was a wonderful sight to see another No. 1 seed fall in the NCAA tourney. It's the beauty of March Madness.

People call the Butler win an upset. But was it? These Bulldogs haven't last a game a game in a long, long time (undefeated this season). Plus, Butler has a history of success in the NCAA tourney.

This veteran club is like other mid-majors in the tournament. The Bulldogs are veteran team with a hard shell. They won't back down, they won't give in to the opposition.

Butler coach Brad Stevens looks calm on the sidelines. His team displays that calm. Even when the Orange look like they were going in win at the 5-7-minute mark, the Bulldogs didn't panic.

So now its on to the Elite Eight against Kansas State. Despite being a Big 12 Conference fan, here's my vote for Butler.

Wouldn't that be something if the Bulldogs could win Saturday and return to their hometown of Indianapolis for the Final Four?

Norfthern Iowa Returns 'Home'

Northern Iowa loves playing in St. Louis. And tonight's Sweet 16 match up against Michigan State just happens to be in the Gateway to the West city.

The Panthers have won the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament in St. Louis the last two years. It's really their home away from home. Even though this game is played in a different venue (the Edward Jones Dome), Northern Iowa will appreciate the familiarity of St. Louis

The fans enjoy it too because they are within driving distance. Look for a huge Panther gathering tonight.

I look for Northern Iowa to perform well. This veteran, no-nonsense club will be ready. The Panthers need to control the pace because Michigan State will want to run them out of the arena. The Spartans will also try to pressure them to submission. Northern Iowa needs to withstand that and get the basketball in their half-court offense.

The Panthers strength is their defense. But they must play outstanding offense too. They need sold three-point shooting and their usual success at the free throw line.

Northern Iowa wants to have a chance for the victory near the end of the game. This tilt promises to be a war against a tournament-tested Big Ten opponent.

And the Panthers need to seize the opportunity. With two victories already in the tourney, they hope to continue to surprise the expects. This Northern Iowa team is going where no other Panther squad has been before and there is no reason to interrupt the march now.

The whole state of Iowa is cheering for the Panthers. I sense most of America will support them too.

Can the Panthers really beat Michigan State?

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Northern Iowa Makes Wise Move

Northern Iowa yesterday announced that it has extended the contact of basketball coach Ben Jacobson to 10 years. The coach will also receive a bump in salary. Next year it will become $450,000, an increase from $161,000.

Northern Iowa did the right thing and at the right time. This will ward off potential suitors after the Panther's amazing season. It seems once a mid-major has success in the NCAA Tournament, the big schools come calling in full force.

Jacobson is a great fit for Northern Iowa. A North Dakota native, he seems comfortable in the little pond of Cedar Falls, Iowa. Knowing that Jacobson remains in the coaching chair, should bring the Panthers stability and continued success.

I'm not predicting that Jacobson will stay for his entire contract, but maybe he has learned from his good buddy Greg McDermott. McDermott left Cedar Falls for Iowa State and he has struggled.

Do you think Jacobson will leave Northern Iowa before his contact is up?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Beware of Michigan State

The Michigan State Spartans are entering Friday night's Sweet 16 match up against Northern Iowa with a wounded squad. They best player, Kalin Lucas, was injured in the second round Maryland win.

But don't feel too sorry for the Spartans because coach Tom Izzo is still the reason Michigan State wins games. And you know for that reason, the Spartans will be difficult to beat Friday.

Izzo has had plenty of success in the NCAA tourney and he's not just happy to make an appearance in the Sweet 16. Izzo has taken the Spartans to five Final Four appearances in 11 years. He garnered one national championship. Last season, the Spartans lost to North Carolina in the championship game.

When it's tournament time, Izzo's squads put it into high gear. They peak at the right time. The Spartans are not a fun team to play in March/April. They live for the NCAA tourney.

So it will become another day at the NCAA tournament office for Michigan State. The Spartans will be ready. Expect full-court pressure defense. Expect Michigan State to run, run, run and run more. Expect a full 40-minute game and maybe more. Expect a war.

The Spartans will not overlook Northern Iowa. They are on their usual mission: go to the Final Four.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

How Will Northern Iowa Handle Success?

This is unchartered territory.

Entering the NCAA basketball tournament last week, few outside of the mid section of the country had ever heard of the University of Northern Iowa Panthers.

But that all changed in just two hours. The Panthers two-point victory over No. 1 ranked Kansas removed their status from a lesser known Missouri Valley conference team to basketball rock stars. Now the whole college basketball world recognizes this Cedar Falls, Iowa squad.

ESPN is calling, Dan Patrick too. How about New York newspapers. TV outlets. Interviews, stories, publicity and more publicity. It's crazy.

The whole state of Iowa is taking about the Panthers too. This from a state that has two teams in two power conferences (Iowa and Iowa State). Everybody supports Northern Iowa these days. Purple and gold are the hot colors.

But this week comes the true test. Northern Iowa has changed roles from the hunters to the hunted ones. Numerous mid-majors in the past have advanced to the Sweet 16. Many have departed the next game.

If you listen to Panther players and their coach, Ben Jacobson, everyone is saying the proper things. They know Michigan State is a good team, the Panthers will be focused, blah, blah, blah.

Here is hoping the stars-in-the-eyes mentality will not appear Friday night. Northern Iowa needs to keep playing like a huge underdog. Bring that hard hat,lunch pail and go to work.

The stakes are higher, the pressure mounts, but the Panthers can keep winning. It's been a dream season so far. There is no sense waking up just yet.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Northern Iowa Rocks College Basketball World

Goodbye, Kansas. Hello, Northern Iowa.

The Panthers truly believed (as I suggested they should in a previous post)and ousted the No. 1 Jayhawks from the NCAA Tournament Saturday afternoon.

Wow, what a game. Northern Iowa played its style and put the foot on the gas when necessary. And when Kansas punched hard a couple times in the second half, the Panthers took the blows.

Ali Farokhmanesh three-point dagger near the end of the game was like, "why is he shooting that shot NOW (with ample time on the shot clock), oh, nice shot."

The Panthers were in control of the game from the beginning. Kansas only led one time at 2-0.

Northern Iowa offered its usual workmanship performance. And on this stage, the Panthers were two points better than mighty Kansas.

These Panthers are forcing their way into the hearts of college basketball fans across the land. They are Sweet 16 bound. Why stop now? St. Louis here they come.

Can Northern Iowa continue its magical ride. You bet it can. These players will continue to believe.

And for good reason. This bunch is truly believable.

Northern Iowa Faces Stern Test in Kansas

The good news is the University of Northern Iowa survived its first round NCAA game against UNLV. The bad news is that the Panther's reward is a Saturday date with No. 1ranked Kansas.

Well as they say, you must take the bad with the good.

But I see this as a great opportunity for the 13,000-student university from Cedar Falls. Maybe it's because I am drinking too much purple and gold liquid (Northern Iowa's school colors) lately, but I think the Panthers have an chance for the upset.

Kansas basically had a practice session with its win over Lehigh in the first round. Almost every huge NCAA favorite struggles in one game during the tournament. Why not today against Northern Iowa?

The Panther's strategy is simply. Hang around until the end of the game with an opportunity for the victory.

Northern Iowa must control tempo. Kansas wants a track meet, the Panthers want a turtle race.

Northern must limit its turnovers. That was a big problem against UNLV. Giving Kansas more possessions today is not an option if the Panthers want a win.

The Panther normally play outstanding defense. This is another must.

And Northern Iowa must make lots of shots. Offense is sometimes lacking with this group, but today the Panthers need to make an exception to that rule.

Consistent success from three-point range would be nice. Northern Iowa radio play-by-play guy Gary Rima shouts "Kaboom" whenever the Panthers score a three-point basket. Rima needs to utter many Kabooms during this game.

The Panthers need another business-like, blue-collar effort. Forget about Kansas. Play your game. Have fun.

And truly believe.

Friday, March 19, 2010

NCAA Mania in Iowa

The University of Northern Iowa lived to play another day in the NCAA Tournament. The game was wild and filled with excitement. The Panthers prevailed over UNLV 69-66 Thursday night.

In a previous post, I confessed that this tournament would cause me little uneasiness because none of my teams were in the field. Okay, I confess. I was wrong.

The Northern Iowa game was a little nerve racking because I wanted to see my home state team perform well and win. So I must admit, I moved around a bit in my chair during the tightly contested contest.

I was pretty calm when the Panther's Ali Farokhmanesh hit the game-winning three point shot in the waning seconds. I am just happy I don't need to type Ali's last name on a frequent basis. Now, that would create some anxiety, ha.

Northern Iowa (better known as UNI here in Iowa) captured its first NCAA tourney win in 20 years. No wonder the state is celebrating.

It's not difficult enjoying this team. Ben Jacobson's squad is a bunch of hard working, no ego types. They practice the meaning of the word team. There are no stars, but parts that work into a whole component. And it's a joy to watch a team that actually makes free throws. I haven't seen much good free throw shooting this season in the college game.

So UNI opposes mighty Kansas Saturday in the next round. Here's hoping the Panthers forget about their opening victory and give a huge effort against the No. 1 ranked Jayhawks.

And before anyone discounts UNI, remember hope is a beautiful word in the NCAA Tournament. Just ask Murray State and Ohio about hope.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Let the Games Begin

This is the "Most Wonderful Time of the Year." March Madness begins in earnest today with the opening round of the NCAA Tournament.

My favorite part of the tournament is the opening round. Two straight days of 64 teams playing 32 games. There are so many games you become dizzy trying to follow them all. Teams are in the field you have never heard of or cared about. Upsets occur. Some unknown team rises and the coach, team and fans go wild. One or more of the highly favored teams wonder what happened. It's what makes March Madness special.

I am still waiting for a No. 16 seed to defeat a No. 1 seed. It's never occurred in the tournament. I keep hoping every year. Maybe 2010 is the magical year. How about Lehigh over Kansas?

None of my teams made the tournament this year. It's been a while actually. So I don't need to worry about sweaty palms or an uneasiness in my chest.

I will do small cheers for the underdogs in the tournament. I will cheer for the team in my home state--the University of Northern Iowa.

What is your favorite part of March Madness? Who is your team in this year's tournament?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Winning Will Take Care of Northern Iowa's Seed

Many in the University of Northern Iowa basketball camp are upset over the Panthers ninth seed in the upcoming NCAA Tournament. Northern Iowa draws eighth seeded UNLV in the opening round with the winner probably playing mighty Kansas in round two.

Northern Iowa backers believe the Panthers were slighted despite winning the Missouri Valley Conference regular season title and the conference tournament title. They also wonder how the selection committee can treat a team this way with a 28-4 overall record.

Panther coach Ben Jacobson took the high road on the matter in public and I appreciated that. However, he might use that as motivation behind close doors and use the 'us against them' cry.

The bottom line is Northern Iowa must win one game at a time and it really doesn't matter about the opponent or the seed. In the NCAA tourney, the game is called survival. You can plan for tomorrow, but if you don't take care of today, the season is over.

Heading into the selection show, many in the Panther camp thought the team could make it to the Sweet 16.

Well, Northern Iowa can still do it. It appears much more challenging, but look at the bright side. Wins over UNLV AND Kansas would shock the basketball world. And isn't that what March Madness is all about?

What do you think of Northern Iowa's NCAA tournament chances?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Iowa Needs a Personable Basketball Coach

Todd Lickliter's firing as Iowa basketball coach became official Monday. The hammer did fall on his basketball head as rumored over the weekend.

Lickliter was a successful coach at Butler, but 38-58 at Iowa was unacceptable. Things just didn't click. He never seemed to bond with the Iowa fans either. Lickliter isn't your rah-rah slap you on the back kind of coach. His personality seemed reserved.

Lickliters' predecessor at Iowa, Steve Alford, also did not bond with the Iowa fans. But unlike Lickliter, Alford seemed to just irritate fans.

I think athletic director Gary Barta should hire a people's coach this time. How about a guy who mixes well with people and is a rah-rah personality? He needs to have a double major in public relations and coaching. He needs to get people excited about the Iowa program again and put people back in the seats.

Maybe Iowa should look at a Tom Davis clone. Davis took Hawkeye teams to the NCAA Tournament and won games there too before he was basically fired at the end of the 1998 season and allowed to coach until 1999. Davis preached an uptempo style and pressure defense. He also used many players.

Wins and loses make or break a coach, but as Iowa has discovered with its last two hires, public relations (or lack of it) is a critical equation as well.

What type of coach do you think Iowa should hire?

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Wolfpack a Surprise in ACC Tournament

I hope North Carolina State basketball coach Sidney Lowe slept in that bright red blazer last night. Lowe brings out the blazer for special games and it would be great if he could wear that thing two more times during the ACC Tournament.

North Carolina State seeded No. 11 in the tourney is on a roll. The Wolfpack upset Clemson Thursday night and sidelined Florida State Friday night. This from a team that frankly looked passive in the regular season.

Now it's on to the semifinals this afternoon (Saturday) and a battle with Georgia Tech.

This NC State tournament run could save Lowe's job and put some future hope in the hearts of Wolfpack fans.

Wolfpack fans could use some hope. NC State finished near the bottom of the ACC standings this season but didn't end dead last as predicted. Still, Wolfpack fans were wondering about what was happening with this team and questioned Lowe's leadership.

Even when the Wolfpack win games, it isn't pretty. Last night was a good example. They battled like a heavyweight fighter giving some shots and taking some others.
But NC State prevailed 58-52.

Tracy Smith is normally the Wolfpack star, but this is Scott Wood's tournament. Last night again the three ball was falling for the freshman from Marion, Indiana. Wood connected on 6-of-10 three-point shots. He never attempted a two-point shot.

So besides taking care of Lowe's blazer, I hope Wood iced that right arm and is good-and-ready to fire in those three-pointers this afternoon.

Wolfpack fans hope Lowe's blazer and Wood's shooting continues to form a winning combination.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Lickliter Under Fire at Iowa

You realize you have a problem in your athletic department when your football team wins more games than your basketball team. Such is the case at the University of Iowa.

The Hawkeye basketball team lost their opening round game at the Big Ten Tournament Thursday and finished the season 10-22. The Iowa football team won the Orange Bowl game earlier this year and concluded its season 11-2.

Speculation is running high regarding the future of Iowa basketball coach Todd Lickliter. Lickliter has recorded three losing seasons at the school and it doesn't look good for the former Coach of the Year (at Butler University).

This isn't what Iowa Athletic Director Gara Barta envisioned when he hired Lickliter to replace unpopular Steve Alford. Barta was hoping Lickliter could restore some glory to the program (re: Ralph Miller, Lute Olson, Tom Davis)

There are apparently deep cracks in play . Players are leaving and so are the fans. It seems like at the end of the season, one of the biggest questions is what players will leave the program (voluntarily or involuntarily). Fans are showing their displeasure by not attending games. Attendance is below 9,000 and may be as low as about 5,000. Ouch! Fans frequently complain about Lickliter's style of play.

With all this negativity, Lickliter probably will not return as coach. The odds are definitely not in his favor.

Apparently, he will receive a $2.4 million payout if it is the end. And Lickliter will probably resurface at another school. But Hawkeye fans would have preferred winning seasons and NCAA tournament appearances

What do you think about the Lickliter situation?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Watch Out for the Cowboys

The Big 12 Men's Basketball Tournament opens today in Kansas City and if you are looking for a sleeper, gaze your focus on the Oklahoma State Cowboys.

The Cowboys enter the tournament with a 21-9 overall mark. They finished with a so-so 9-7 Big 12 record and are seeded No. 7.

But Travis Ford's bunch is a dangerous team. Oklahoma State was the only squad to defeat Kansas in conference play and it upset Kansas State in Manhattan. The Cowboys are a young, athletic team that plays solid defense.

Guard James Anderson is their featured player. The 6-6 junior won the Big 12 Player of the Year Award and leads the league in scoring at 22.9. Another dangerous player is senior guard Obi Muonelo who can take it to the basket or toss in a three-point shot. Another weapon is guard Keiton Page. The sophomore can be deadly from three-point range. However, the Cowboys do lack height and muscle. Oklahoma State's main inside players are 6-8 junior Matt Pilgrim and 6-7 junior Marshall Moses.

If the Cowboys can run and score and limited the opponent's inside game, they could win games (I said games) in this tournament.

With a NCAA tournament bid probably already secured, the Cowboys could improve their seeding with an impression Big 12 tournament run.

Do you think the Cowboys will do well in the Big 12 tournament? Do you like any other sleepers?

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Pass the Antacids Please

College basketball bubble teams are on high anxiety alert this week.

With most of the conference tournaments being played in the next several days, bubble teams are about ready to learn their fate.

Bubble teams face a three-way anxiety attack.

First, they must play well in their own conference tournament to impress the selection committee. This is no time to leave your A-game back at the familar university gym. The teams could play tight because of the stakes, but they need to play loose. Oh, the anxiety.

Second, bubble teams desire a lack of conference upsets. They are cheering for the favorites not the underdogs. They want to avoid that 12-21 team that has a three-point shooter that goes wild in the tournament and carries it to victory. Oh, the anxiety. This one is out of the bubbles teams' control.

Then if the bubble teams pass their first two anxiety tests, the big one is still coming. It's called Selection Sunday. Bubble teams want to hear their name pop up on that selection board early. Waiting for that last group (or region) is extremely stressful.

So if you are a fan of a bubble team, I wish you well. Just be sure to keep those antacids near for the potential bumpy ride.

Do you have experience using antacids this time of the year?

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Are McDermott's Days as Iowa State Coach Numbered?

Greg McDermott was a successful coach at the University of Northern Iowa. He took teams to the NCAA tournament and was a coach on the rise.

McDermott left Northern Iowa after the 2005 season and headed south and west to Ames, Iowa and Iowa State. But the success McDermott had at Northern Iowa has not followed him to Iowa State. In fact, many Iowa State fans wonder about the direction and future of the program.

McDermott's overall record is 58-67 in his fourth season. The Cyclones play their final regular season game at Kansas State today and that looks like another loss. If Iowa State does lose, it will finish the Big 12 race at 3-13 and drop to 14-17 overall.

McDermott hasn't had a winning season in Ames. His best mark was in his first season when Iowa State went 15-16 (6-10 in the Big 12).

This was suppose to be McDermott's breakout year with preseason All-American Craig Brackins returning and a talented junior college player in Marquis Gilstap coming on aboard.

But it hasn't happened. Injuries, a player defection (Lucca Staiger left during the season to play professionally in Germany)and frankly poor play have doomed the Cyclones.

The question is can McDermott turn this around and compete in the Big 12 Conference.

One thing that definitely need changing in the program is player defections. This has been a big problem under McDermott for who really knows why.

It's hard to gauge the Iowa State athletic administration on McDermott. He has a contract through 2015.

I think he is safe in his job for another year. But next year, McDermott better show some positive results or his days at Iowa State could be in serious jeopardy.

What do you think about McDermott's status?

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Are Conference Tournaments Necessary?

The calendar says March and it's time for March Madness. But for me, it really isn't officially March Madness for about two weeks. That is when the NCAA Tournament begins.

First we must endure numerous conference tournaments dressed up as March Madness. Conference tournaments are beneficial for the conferences, member schools and TV. It's the cash cow philosophy. Yes, the tournaments help determine NCAA bids, but frankly they wouldn't need to declare qualifiers.

Oh, I grant you the smaller conferences might generate some excitement as the tournament winner generally becomes that conference's only NCAA Tournament participant. But frankly, I think the big conference schools go through the motions during league tournaments.

What's really the point of running a full conference regular season and then playing each other in a postseason tournament? As I said before, it's all about the money.

Why not return value to the conference season? Declare the regular season champion of all the conferences the NCAA automatic representative. Then let the rest of the teams fight it out based upon the total season resume.

It sounds too simple and too old fashion. But then truly deserving teams would offer us genuine March Madness.

What do you think about conference tournaments?

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Alford Still Hot Topic in Iowa

New Mexico Coach Steve Alford's recent exchange with a BYU player has caused a stir many miles away from the Mountain West Conference. It seems Alford is never far from the hearts of Iowa Hawkeye fans.

Most Iowa fans have a hard heart when it comes to Alford. Most developed a displeasure for Alford while he served as Hawkeye coach. Fans were generally glad when New Mexico hired the coach. Many had the attitude such as "Don't let the door hit you when you leave."

So it is not surprising that nearly four years removed from his Iowa days, Iowa fans are flocking to the Internet boards to talk about the Alford incident and again make known their anti-Alford feelings. They say in a real marriage, bad feelings often linger after a divorce. This divorce is still messy.

Maybe Iowa fans are jealous of Alford's current success at New Mexico. The Lobos are 27-3 and ranked eighth in the Associated Press poll. On the other hand, Iowa has really struggled with Todd Lickliter as coach.

What will help Hawkeye fans move on with their basketball lives? Will a great New Mexico run in the NCAA tournament do it? I sense that a quick exit in the tournament will cause Hawkeyes fans to say "I told you so,"and keep stroking the Alford pot.

Hopefully, Hawkeye fans will move on and sooner rather than later.

What do you think about Alford and the Hawkeye fans?