Taking stock of Pitt and Vanderbilt, 'Cuse's legitimacy and more mail
Have I told you lately that I love you?
Seriously, you had me at hello.
It is always interesting to see which fan base objects the most to being left out of the HTSR. This year's prize goes to Pittsburgh fans, who had the most to say through e-mail. Believe it or not, the most frequent complaint I got via Twitter was my omission of Vanderbilt. Who knew?
Equally surprising was the base from which I heard nary a peep: Illinois. There was no particular reason I left Illinois out; I simply had to draw the line at some point. Yet, while I think of the Illini Nation as one of the most passionate and rabid fan bases in the nation, their silence was deafening. Could it be that fatigue and apathy is settling in after several unremarkable years on the hardwood? Or maybe you all just have better things to do than fret over my column?
Anyway, here is one of several e-mails I got about my exclusion of Pitt:
As for Vandy, here are two of the tweets that were sent to my account at
From @VSLNation: why doesn't a 10-3 Vanderbilt team get any attention?
From @anchorofgold: @SethDavisHoops obviously isn't vetting his selections through KenPom. Vandy #23. Florida #47. Vandy dangerously below radar.
I am happy to rectify this situation by rating those two teams. I warn you, though, to be careful what you wish (and e-mail and tweet) for:
The Panthers have shot their way onto the national radar with road wins at Syracuse and Cincinnati. So now what? Well, it's hard to say, considering they have only been at full strength for four games. Senior guard
Tennessee's woes present the Commodores with an opening in the SEC East, but even if they do a little better than expected in the conference, I still don't see this as a team that can make hay in the tournament.
As for the rest of my ratings, I got lots of varying opinions. Some of you wrote to say you agreed with me -- shocking, I know -- but what fun would it be to answer those? Instead, allow me to address some of the more notable dissenters:
I'm going to let Thomas in on a little secret: I didn't mean to rate Villanova a SELL. I meant to rate them a HOLD. It sounds like that still won't be enough to satisfy him, but when I originally wrote up my assessment of Villanova,
That still does not answer my concerns about this team's defense, and given how young Yarou is and how much time he missed, he won't have nearly the same impact he would have had he played from Day 1. I was as bullish as anyone about Villanova in the preseason, but given that they're 12-1 and ranked No. 6 in the AP poll, it is still very hard for me to rate them a BUY.
And thanks for the Duke hate, Thomas. Really makes me feel like the season is kicking in.
First of all, be glad I don't listen to those voices in my head. We're all better off.
Second, what's with using actual facts to undermine my arguments? No fair, bro. I have no idea where you found my AP ballot (I know it's available online somewhere, I just don't know where), but I double-checked it on my computer and you're right -- I didn't rank Wisconsin, and I don't know why. I guess it was just an oversight. I'd like to promise you that I'll rank them next week, but considering they've got Michigan State and Purdue coming up, I'll have to reserve judgment.
Either way, I agree Bo knows hoops, and this team is a great bet to make the NCAA tournament. There are a lot of other teams in the Big Ten that wish they could say that right now.
I give Don credit for making a bold prediction, and he makes a good point about Florida and North Carolina (though I'm not sure I'd describe the Tar Heels as an "average" team). I would also submit that Don is underrating the Orange's win at Seton Hall. A road win is never a given in college hoops -- just ask Carolina. Obviously we'll have a better sense of how good 'Cuse is in a few weeks, but I still think they're a good pick to get to Indy. The one thing that the Orange have done exceptionally well the last few years is defend the three-pointer, yet in their loss to Pittsburgh they allowed the Panthers to make 10 of their 24 attempts from behind the arc. I call that a bad night, not a deficiency. Plus,
Finally, here are two more e-mails not related to the stock report:
It was only a matter of time before this narrative began anew. While I would disagree that the Terps began the year with "lofty" expectations (they have never been ranked in the AP's Top 25, though they were first in "others receiving votes" in the preseason poll), I don't disagree that they have been a disappointment. There was some optimism that freshmen forwards
As for Terrence Ross, my understanding is that the Maryland coaching staff did an excellent job evaluating and recruiting him, but once Ross figured out just how good he was, he decided he wanted to test the waters. Now he is getting recruited by big boys like Duke, Kansas and Kentucky. This, I'm sure, is a distressing development for Terps fans, because it feeds their suspicion that no matter how hard the Terps huff, no matter how hard they puff, they will never be considered a truly elite program.
As for Williams, while he and athletic director
It's a reflection of today's saturated media environment that this topic already seems tired, even though
First, let's understand the rule that was in play. Because it was a dead ball situation, the only way Cousins could have been ejected would have been for the officials to determine his forearm to be a "combative act," which would have warranted not just an ejection but also an automatic one-game suspension. If Cousins had made the same or even lesser contact with his elbow during a basketball play -- say, while grabbing a rebound and pivoting -- he would have automatically been called for a flagrant foul, which means an ejection but no suspension.
My understanding is that when the officials went to the monitor (as they are required to do), they did not see the same replays that the viewers at home saw. From the angle of the replay they looked at, the refs determined that Cousins' forearm deserved an unsporting technical but did not rise to the level of a combative act. My hunch is that given the high-profile nature of the game, the zebras were reluctant to administer such a harsh penalty against a critical player in the opening minutes.
Now reasonable minds (and even unreasonable minds) can differ, but when I see that replay, it is quite obvious to me that Cousins intentionally and overtly thrust his elbow into Swopshire's face -- as close as you can get to punching a guy without making a fist. That is a combative act any way you cut it. I stand by my initial assessment that he should have gotten tossed, and frankly I don't even think it was close.
For a point of reference, I'll direct you to the elbow that Gonzaga freshman forward
As for the oft-cited contact made between Swopshire's knee and Cousins' head, Aaron's argument does not hold up for two reasons. In the first place, the contact took place during a scramble for the ball, and to my eyes it looked inadvertent. But -- and this is the important part -- if Aaron thinks it was an intentional act, then he is arguing that both Swopshire
I'm sure it will not surprise you all to hear that I got lots of angry e-mail and tweets from Kentucky fans who took exception to what
Keep those e-mails and tweets coming, Hoopheads, and I'll dip into the Mailbag again next week.