Wednesday, December 28, 2005

ACC Bowl Previews, Part 2

Here is the anxiously (?) awaited second half of my ACC bowl preview for Clemson may not have wiped out Colorado yesterday like I predicted, but at least they won.

Friday, December 23, 2005

ACC Bowl Previews, Part 1

I'm doing a two-part series previewing all eight of the bowl games featuring ACC teams. Part 1 is up now on Southern Pigskin. Along with picking the winners, I rate the appeal of the game. In true CourtMaster fashion, I give each a rating between 1-5 gavels.

Enjoy and have a Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Multi-Talented Football Players

I'm going to try and post stories talking about some of the many GOOD things going on in college sports, and I found a good one to start with, published in the October 2005 issue of "Sharing the Victory," the publication of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

Proving that all college football players are not not roaming the streets at all hours looking for trouble, a group from the North Carolina A&T squad decided to spend their time doing something different-singing.

These guys are good! They are directed by Alonzo Lee, who also serves as the Aggies' assistant head coach/defensive coordinator. The group, started in 2004, sings gospel music and has performed in front of crowds as large as 5,000 in the Greensboro area. As many as 30 players have participated in the group at one time.

Since they drew the attention of a Greensboro News-Record reporter, they have had more invitations than they were able to schedule. Their most difficult performance was at the memorial service for murdered teammate Herbert Dixon III in March, 2004. Scheduled to do only two songs, their music filled the church with such spirit that the mourners emplored them to keep singing and balance the sadness with the joy of God's love.

The Aggies struggled on the field this year, finishing with a 3-8 record, but a core group of the team scored victories in other areas.

Monday, December 19, 2005

DePaul's Dual Personalities

It must have been a strange week to be a DePaul Blue Demon fan.

The week started out quite well for the boys from Chicago. They visited #16 Wake Forest and left with an 84-81 upset victory. True, they caught the Demon Deacons at a good time. This was Wake's first game after exams, always a tough game for a team to get ready for. DePaul also benefitted from a bad game by Wake Forest's leading scorer, Justin Gray, who made only 3 of 11 shots and scored 12 points. Still, though, a road win against a ranked team was a big statement from Coach Jerry Wainwright's program.

Looking to build on that momentum, DePaul traveled to Norfok, Virginia to take on the Old Dominion Monarchs. They would have been better off if the bus driver had not found the arena.

Old Dominion, leading by only four points three minutes into the second half, kicked things into another gear and handed DePaul an 87-43 loss, the worst in school history.

The second half was mind-blowingly one-sided. The Monarchs shot 66.7% from the field while DePaul made only 21.4% of their shots. The Blue Demons shooting percentage for the game was 21.4%, which makes their missing percentage 78.6%-very impressive. That was also the worst shooting effort ever by an Old Dominion opponent making it a day of records.

For the Monarchs, this was an important bounce back game for them following a 61-42 loss at Drexel where they went scoreless for 13:09 in the first half and trailed 31-10 at the break, setting a school record for fewest points in a half.

Coaches hate having their teams' character tested in December, but it happens. Old Dominion aced its test, and we'll see how DePaul handes this humiliating loss when they travel to Oakland to face Cal in the Pete Newell Challenge.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

The CourtMaster 2005 ACC Football Awards

The moment has arrived for the first annual CourtMaster Football Awards. Not all the recipients will be happy, though--not all of the Courtys are for positive activements. Click below to see if any of your favorite teams or players are cited.

The "Princeton" Offense

So what is the "Princeton" offense in college hoops? Taken literally this season, the answer is horrendous. To be clear, it's not the answer that is horrendous, it is the Princeton Tigers' 2005-06 "offense" that is, dare I say, offensive.

The Tigers made national news last week in their game with Monmouth, a 42-21 win by the low-flying Hawks. The total points in that contest was the lowest combined score since the three-point shot was instituted in 1986-87. Princeton tied the single team low during that era.

Unfortunately for Princeton fans, that abysmal effort was not as much an abberation as one would hope. The Tigers, now 2-6 after a 61-42 loss at Wake Forest, have failed to break the 50-point mark six times in their eight games so far this season. They have topped 60 points only once, in a 64-54 win at Lehigh and are barely averaging 45 per game.

Only one Princeton player, forward Noah Savage, is averaging over double-figures in scoring. Savage's average dropped to 11.6 per game after a 1-12 shooting game vs. Wake Forest.

The Princeton program shows all the signs of a program being in free-fall. Last season they finished with a 6-8 league record, their first losing season in Ivy League play ever. They currently have a four game losing streak at home, another first in school history.

It's ironic that coach Joe Scott, in his second year at his alma mater, had more success with the "Princeton" offense at Air Force than he has at its birthplace. Scott surprised everyone when his Falcons won the Mountain West Conference regular season championship in 2003-04. This earned Air Force its first NCAA Tournament bid since 1962 and Scott the MWC Coach of the Year Award.

Scott then clearly brought a lot of momentum into the program when he replaced John Thompson III shortly after the 2003-04 season. The only momentum in the program right now, however, resembles a train running out of control and getting ready to jump the tracks. That is called a train wreck, and is an apt description of Princeton basketball 2005-06.

Where are Bill Bradley or Pete Carril when you need them?

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Too Much Hype Too Soon

An Internet sports site recently had the following lead in one of its stories:

"The buildup was amazing, the drama was riveting and the decision was talked about all over the Southeast and beyond."

Sounds like major news, doesn't it. The story continued:

Where was St. Augustine (Fla.) Nease quarterback Tim Tebow going to play his college football?"

Are you kidding me? This story was on the front page, written by recruiting analyst Mike Farrell. In the world of college football, Tebow's decision about what college to attend was a major news item, but does it have to be hyped like this? I don't think so.

Of course, sites like Rivals need to make their information seem important enough that people are going to plunk down money to pay for it. They sold me, I am a subscriber. Being a college sports fan and writer, I was curious about where Tebow, the top-rated dual threat QB in the nation in Rivals' own rankings, would go, but I hardly found it riveting drama.

Let's let the kid at least enroll in school and preferably do something on the field before we find ourselves riveted by anything he does. Do you ever wonder why so many of these kids (and yes, 17 and 18-year olds are still that when it comes to making major decisions and handling public attention) turn out to be self-absorbed prima-donnas?

Just think of yourself as a teenager and how you would have acted if coaches and fans had told you for years how great you were, how vital you were to the future of their particular school. You would probably think you were the next great thing unless you were incredibly well grounded. A lot of these kids aren't and turn out to be more like Terrell Owens than Tim Duncan.

Let's tone down the hype until these high school players have actually done something worthy of it. When they show they can contribute to the success of a major college program, let me know. Until then, I'll let them enjoy high school and get ready to make the jump to the next level in private.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

No Package Deal at Arkansas.....Yet

Stories like this amuse me as long as they don't happen at my school. Back in August, highly touted high school quarterback Mich Mustain made a verbal committment to attend the University of Arkansas. He lives in Springdale, Arkansas, so the local boy stays close to home. Nice story.

Last week, things seemed to get even more cozy for Mustain when Razorback head coach Houston Nutt hired Mustain's high school coach, Gus Malzahn, as the Arkansas offensive coordinator. Nutt had never had an OC during his tenure at Arkansas and had come under fire because the offense looked like it badly needed one. This seemed like a nice way to kill the proverbial two birds with one stone--fill that need on his coaching staff and make the new star quarterback feel even more comfortable.

Mustain must not have read this script, played out over and over again in college football and basketball over the decades, because he backed away from his verbal committment and reopened his recruitment. Mustain had every right to do this, but you've got to admit the timing was rather odd. I'm not saying Malzahn is not qualified on his own merits to be a major college offensive coordinator; I don't really know much about him. He'd better be if his quarterback doesn't follow him to Fayetteville.

The seasons of discontent continue in Arkansas football.

Monday, December 12, 2005

The CourtMaster Speaks

In my latest ACC hoops column for the Duke Basketball Report, I analyze the Duke-Texas game, including the CBS broadcast coverage. I also take a swing around the rest of the ACC.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Looking Back and Looking Ahead at ACC football

In my latest column, I give my views on a disappointing ACC football championship game, look at the upcoming bowl matchups, and run through a growing list of openings for offensive and defensive coordinators in the ACC.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Quoting the CourtMaster on the ACC and the BCS

Writer Chris Graham, who is also a co-host of the ACC Nation radio program I have appeared on this season, is also a writer for the Augusta (VA) Free Press. He recently wrote about the ACC again receiving only one BCS bid and asked yours truly for some analysis of why. I guess everyone else was busy that week. You can read his piece, including my quotes, here.$38409

I'm also avaliable for bachelor parties and Bar Mitzvahs.

Monday, December 05, 2005

The CourtMaster Thinks

Yes, those are scary words indeed. I had some random thoughts about the ACC basketball I watched last week and included them in my latest Duke Basketball Report column.