Villanova, Arizona State, and TCU Suffer First Losses Of Season

SONG SELECTION:

HAIM, “Little of Your Love”, from the album Something To Tell You

Released July 7, 2017 via Columbia/Sony Music

Streak to reach 43 years since last undefeated national champion

In a span of seven hours, the last of the nation’s unbeaten went down.

TCU led by 13 points starting the second half, but it all slipped away thanks to emerging freshman and possible National Player of the Year Candidate in Trae Young of the Oklahoma Sooners.  He scored 39 points on the afternoon, in spite of having a poor afternoon shooting only 9 of 23 attempts from the floor.  Of his 9 made field goals, six were from three-point range in 14 attempts.  But the key to this game was him getting to the line early and often.  He hit on 15 of 18 attempts and nailed the game winning point in a 90-89 close shave victory for Oklahoma over TCU.  This was the first matchup at Schollamaier Arena featuring two top ranked teams since 1997.

Arizona gets leg up in Cactus State series

Arizona may be ranked 17th, but they dealt in-state rival Arizona State a crushing reminder of who is best in that part of the country.  Led by Allozon Trier scoring 23 points, the Wildcats had enough effort to pull out a 84-78 win at home over the Sun Devils.  Tra Holder led all scorers with 31 in a losing effort.

Venerable Hinkle Fieldhouse again plays host to another upset

1954 was the year of Bobby Plump’s last second shot to lift tiny Milan High School to the Indiana High School basketball title over powerhouse Muncie Central.  That team eventually became the storyline to Angelo Pizzo’s famed 1986 movie Hoosiers and Indiana’s true love affair with a round orange ball called the basketball.

On Saturday afternoon, CBS Sports closed out their first tripleheader of the season as Plump’s alma mater of the Butler Bulldogs used 15 three point shots to take down top ranked Villanova 101-93.  Just like on January 4, 2017–Butler beat Villanova for the third straight meeting.  Butler built a 22 point lead in front of a sellout crowd of 9,244 before the Wildcats clawed their way back in the final minute thanks to a 14-0 run with Butler committing several sloppy plays and too many unforced turnovers where it would have been better to eat some clock and force Villanova to foul.

Kelan Martin led the charge with 24 points, while Paul Jorgensen had himself a nice game as well tabbing 23–with 16 of those points coming in the first half.

For Butler alum LaVall Jordan, this was exactly the kind of win that should vault the Bulldogs to their fourth consecutive NCAA Tournament.  I know I normally don’t give out what Mike Greenberg used to say for years on ESPN Radio as a “Stone Cold Lead Pipe Lock”, but the way Butler executed their offense and scouted Villanova so well–they can play with anybody in the Big East let alone any top team in the nation.

36 of 60 shooting was a key stat in this upset, along with out-rebounding Villanova 34 to 26.  Villanova ended up shooting 38 of 71 for the game (12 of 35 from three-point land).  Jalen Brunson led all scorers with 31 points on 12 of 21 shooting in the loss.

Elsewhere on the final Saturday of 2017, several more close games took place

Duke got some key rebounding from Wendell Carter, Jr. and Marvin Bagley in holding off a scoring threat from Florida State 100-93.  The Blue Devils scored the final 7 points in the last three minutes of action in the ACC opener for both teams.

Also, Wichita State got a huge road win at one of the toughest places to win on the road in Hartford’s XL Center and once formerly dominant UConn 72-62.  Even with the team having mechanical problems with their charter flight, they did not get to Hartford until late on Friday night.  Thanks to holding a sizable rebounding edge 47-34, the Shockers grabbed 17 of 25 potential offensive rebounds.

Landry Shamet scored 16 points, while Austin Reaves, Connor Frankamp and Rashard Kelly each had 11 points in the school’s first ever game competing in the American Athletic Conference.

Marquette held off Georgetown in Milwaukee 74-65, since Patrick Ewing’s bunch mostly fought uphill for the entire 40 minutes.

In the Missouri Valley opener, Loyola of Chicago had a nice 66-59 home win over the Evansville Purple Aces coming from behind after trailing 28-20 at the half.

In the West Coast Conference, St. Mary’s surprised Brigham Young in Provo, Utah in a great back-and-forth affair before pulling away in overtime 74-64.

Finally, in South Bend–Mike Brey made history with his 393rd win as Fighting Irish Head Coach, as Bonzie Colson’s 24 points and a career tying 17 rebounds helped the Irish edge out Georgia Tech 68-59.  More balance was found on the Purcell Pavilion score sheet as Martinas Geben finished the afternoon with 12 points. Rex Pflueger chipped in with 11, and Matt Farrell and T.J. Gibbs each finished with 10 points.

While both teams ended up shooting 23 of 60 from the field while playing zone, Notre Dame shutout the Yellow Jackets 16-0 in second chance points and almost doubled up the Wramblin’ Wreck hitting with a 30-18 advantage regarding points in the paint.

Come Wednesday night against North Carolina State, Mike Brey looks to pass legendary former coach Digger Phelps for most wins in the storied history of Notre Dame basketball.  Counting his career at Delaware, he is nearing the halfway point towards catching Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski for the NCAA all-time record.

Happy New Year, and I will see you all again on Tuesday with my first installment as I put three schools “Under The Microscope”.  Please don’t drink too much when partying.

 

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Famous Announcer Dick Enberg Dead at 82

One-time local game show host went on to broadcast several Wimbledon tournaments, Rose Bowls, 8 Super Bowls, and even a few NCAA Tournaments

Late Thursday night, the San Diego Union-Tribune was the first outlet to break the sad news that longtime former NBC and CBS Sports play-by-play announcer Dick Enberg passed away at the age of 82.  The paper said he died of a heart attack.

One of the soundtracks of my youth, this proud Indiana University graduate developed quite a knack for storytelling.  Whether it was building up the 1968 “multi million dollar performance” of Elvin Hayes almost single handedly halting UCLA’s then record 47 game winning streak in 1968 for Houston for little known TVS, and later for NBC during the 1979 NCAA Championship game.  The specter of the first time matchup of Earvin “Magic” Johnson and Michigan State matching up against Larry Bird and Indiana State in Salt Lake City would lead to bigger things covering eight Super Bowls (including doing the 46 point ambush by the Shufflin’ Bears of 1986)–and in recent times chronicling the run of West Virginia to an unlikely Final Four berth for CBS in 2010.  During the last few years, Enberg worked on local broadcasts for his longtime home team in the San Diego Padres.

The last time we heard him was that he joined the world of podcasting covering 19 episodes (and no, it was not named after his famous call of “Oh My”) but simply called the “Sound of Success”.

His final interviews were with the likes of Tennis Hall of Famer Billie Jean King, Golden State Warriors NBA Champion Head Coach Steve Kerr, ESPN announcer Beth Mowins, Kentucky Head Coach John Calipari, and CBS Sports Chairman Sean McManus.

You can download the interviews at the Podcast One app, or search his name whenever you go to find your Podcasts, or go to this link below:

https://www.podcastone.com/program?action=viewProgram&programID=1177&showAllEpisodes=true

In late January 1993 prior to Super Bowl XXVII, Enberg gave a lengthy phone interview to the Chicago Tribune.  Lucky for me, my grandparents had a subscription to the paper and clipped out the article.  Here it is in virtual form:

http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1993-01-31/sports/9303174323_1_dick-enberg-jimmy-carter-moment

One of the great interviews Enberg did later that same year was during the famed Later program on NBC when Bob Costas interviewed scores of different celebrities from different walks of life.  Whether it was in the worlds of television, movies, comedy, whenever a big name was there–Bob usually got the chance to sit down for a friendly and candid chat each and every weeknight for over five years.

On this program, he was joined also by then ABC Monday Night Football lead announcer Al Michaels for a fun and rather interesting three person interview (all apologies for why the picture is a bit on the average side since this show aired several years before HDTV’s became common).

Follow the below link to access the full interview on YouTube:

 

What a great storyteller Dick Enberg was.  Even during UCLA’s heyday in the 1960’s–he brought true excitement to every sport he covered.  He will forever be missed.

 

 

 

Wofford Wins at North Carolina, and San Diego State Shocks Gonzaga

SONG SELECTION:

“(I Wish I Were Giving You A Gift) This Christmas”

by Girl Ray, Released December 8, 2017 via Bandcamp and Soundcloud

Field Goal Shooting and Free Throws Were The Difference

On Wednesday night at the Dean Smith Center in Chapel Hill, Wofford got a huge performance from Fletcher Magee scoring 27 points in a 79-75 upset of the defending national champions.

Joel Berry II led the Tar Heels in a losing cause with 23, while Luke Maye had 17.

Even though the Terriers were outrebounded 38-34, Wofford shot 28 of 64 for 43.8 percent.  North Carolina was far worse, shooting only 20 out of 55 for the game (at a meager 36.4 percent clip).

Both teams shot the same number of three-pointers at 7 a piece, but even though Wofford committed 25 fouls in the game–they forced 14 North Carolina turnovers while the Terriers only coughed up the ball seven times all night.

The other telling stat from this game was the free throws:

Wofford could not miss, hitting only 16 of 18 attempts from the charity stripe while North Carolina shot themselves in the virtual foot, going to the line 38 times and converting on only 28 shots.  Those missed points were the difference in the game.

North Carolina drops to 10-2, while Wofford improved to 8-4 on the season and gained a really huge boost to their chances of reaching the NCAA Tournament.

UPDATE:

Late Thursday night, San Diego State upended Gonzaga 72-70.

The upsets just keep on coming.

Notre Dame Tripped Up In OT, While Rutgers Comes Up Huge

SONG SELECTIONS:

“Christmas Can’t Be Far Away” and “The North Pole Express”

by Nick Lowe, found on the Quality Street holiday album

Released in 2013 by Yep Roc Records

Notre Dame Gives One Away Like A 20th Century Department Store Santa Claus

At the Crossroads Classic in Indianapolis on Saturday, Fox TV viewers were treated to an interesting game.  Following Purdue’s impressive 82-67 win against home standing Butler, Notre Dame appeared to have victory well in hand against Archie Miller’s tough luck Indiana Hoosiers.

Notre Dame blew a 14 point lead and failed to score in the last two minutes of regulation time.  As Indiana built on an 8-0 scoring run, Austin Torres had only been to the free throw line twice during the season and with .8 of a second to play, he missed badly on becoming a hero for the Irish–but missed.

In the extra period, Juwan Morgan of the Hooisers missed a free throw with 11 seconds left but the Irish failed to box out on the rebound and Zach McRoberts (a transfer from Vermont) grabbed the rebound and fed Morgan for an easy dunk to give Indiana a 78-77 lead.  Devonte Green later made two free throws of his own after being fouled following a Notre Dame rushed shot at the basket.

Bonzie Colson then fired off a 55 footer which rimmed out as the buzzer sounded.  He shared team high scoring honors with T.J. Gibbs.  Both men finished with 17 points on the afternoon.  Indiana was led by Robert Johnson’s 20 points.

Northwestern escapes trap at DePaul, while Rutgers upsets Seton Hall

Even with Vic Law ill and injured limiting his playing time, a choppy game turned into a fine comeback for Northwestern.  We often use the term “trap game” in terms of the NFL and sometimes in key series involving contending baseball teams.  Add the Wildcats to that list avoiding the trap as they survived in DePaul’s new home of the Wintrust Arena 62-60.

A few miles to the west, it was Lou Henson Night at Illinois.  Sadly, Coach Henson could not attend due to suffering an illness on Thursday.  The two teams he coached had only 6,000 fans attending their annual date at the United Center in Chicago.  New Mexico State survived a 10-0 run to hold off a furious Illinois comeback to win 76-69.

Elsewhere over the weekend…

Rutgers closed on a 17-2 run to upend Seton Hall 71-65, their first ranked win in 15 years since NBC News meteorologist Dylan Dreyer was herself a student at the home of the Scarlet Knights.

Oklahoma used hot shooting from freshman Trae Young who scored 29 points as the Sooners lit it up from outside in Wichita State depositing 54 points in the first half en route to a nice 91-83 road win.

Kansas barely escaped at Nebraska 73-72, while Kentucky needed a few key threes from Kevin Knox as Virginia Tech got as close as one point with 1:10 to play before the Wildcats won going away 93-86.  Finally, UW Milwaukee made sure Loyola did not forget why they left the Horizon League with a 73-56 win for the Panthers.

On Sunday–
Houston, Penn State, Evansville, Stanford, and North Carolina all posted impressive wins before Final Exam week begins for most schools.

Season’s Greetings To One And All, Plus A Special Dedication

Since this will be my final blog for 2017, I hope that everyone has a very nice and safe holiday season, especially after UCLA’s loss to Cincinnati on Saturday afternoon.  At least, the ticket stubs showing LiAngelo Ball show that the locals have something good to look back at besides the persistent wildfires.

I decided to dedicate this podcast to the great bands and talented individuals from a true rock mecca of the Midwest–that is Chicago.  For 26 years on Sunday nights, Richard Milne guided listeners from the Loop to all of the suburbs and everywhere else in between what was really rocking and kicking up a storm or two on 93.1 FM, WXRT.  The station affectionately labeled themselves on station breaks simply as “Chicago’s Finest Rock.”
On Sunday night, shortly before 11 p.m. Central Standard Time–the Local Anesthetic era sadly came to an end.

I do not wish for this to sound like a virtual eulogy of sorts, but what memories flooded many radios and in recent times on the CBS Local and similar radio apps on smartphones:

From Shoes in 1991 and Umphrey’s McGee in 2003, to acts that burst onto the scene in 2016 from The Right Now and The Flat Five, and especially with me taking some time out of most of my weekends during 2017–there has been some simply great music for everyday, both at home and on the road.

Thanks to most of the acts posting their songs sometime on Facebook and/or Spotify, plus especially on Bandcamp, of which I will forever remember this list below as “The Magnificent Virtual Seven”:

  • The Thin Cherries
  • Ratboys
  • Jenny Beinemann
  • Chrissy Johnson
  • The Safes
  • Panda Riot
  • Lucille Furs

Thank you for all that you do in making our lives at least a little brighter, and I hope to see you all online in 2018 and beyond.  My next goal is to enjoy different artists every weekend when I get the time to listen–albeit trying to squeeze in an EP may be slightly difficult during the entire month of March.

The next time I do a blog and podcast, it will be hopefully sometime before or during the weekend of January 6 and 7 as I proudly bring back my “Under The Microscope” series–which schools that are on the razor’s edge may be one of the last teams to be called by Greg Gumbel and the rest of the crew at CBS Sports on Selection Sunday, which is only 83 days away.

Hope Santa is good to you, he will be good for me in more ways than one (especially for those of you have seen my other blog highlighting all things Brazilian jazz).

Take care, everybody and please stay healthy.  My best tip–eat and drink what you like in moderation, there is no point in getting sick during the holidays.  I have seen others in my family briefly fall ill during the most joyous time of the year, and I want to make sure that everyone continues to preach safety first–now and always.

 

And You Thought You Had A Rough Day

SONG SELECTION:

“Blood Under My Belt”, by The Drums

Found on the Abysmal Thoughts album

Released June 16, 2017 via Anti- Records

Northwestern played Chicago State in a rather sparse Allstate Arena tonight.

No, there wasn’t any snow to speak of near the world’s busiest airport that is O’Hare International Airport.

Just your typical Chicago winter day–blustery, windy, and very cold outside.

Northwestern hit almost every shot they took, while Chicago State missed almost every shot they took.  The result is a 55 to 8 halftime lead, thanks in large part to a 32-3 run to end the half.  For the record, the final score was 96-31.

Northwestern moves to 6-4, while Chicago State slides down to 2-11 on the season.

Please have a good night, and hopefully the DePaul game will be a lot closer.

Major Shakeups In Latest AP Poll

What a difference a week makes.

Villanova vaulted three spots to claim the Number 1 position with 1,598 points.  Michigan State is second with 1,561.  Third place belongs to Wichita State, their highest ranking ever…the Shockers gained 1,402 points.

With Duke’s loss on Saturday to Boston College, they dropped three slots to 4.  The biggest leaper was Arizona State, with their impressive double digit win at Kansas on Sunday afternoon–as they gained a whopping 11 slots moving on up from 16 to 5.

The rest of the Top Ten include…Miami, North Carolina (both ACC teams slid up four positions each), Kentucky, Texas A&M, followed by Xavier.

A trio of schools stumbled big time after disappointing losses:

Kansas, losing twice to Pac-12 schools in unranked Washington and then 16th ranked Arizona State finds themselves down at 13, down 11 slots.

Notre Dame, after their last second loss to Ball State at home slid double digits from 9 down to 18.

Finally, the biggest loser was Florida after losing three straight including a shocking home loss to Loyola (Chicago) out of the Missouri Valley.  The Gators bit badly from being pegged at 5 and are now down at 22.

Florida State, Arizona, and Texas Tech somehow meandered their way back into the Top 25.  And finally…replacing Northwestern in getting honorable mention votes for the city of Chicago is Loyola, gaining a nice number of five votes from pollsters across the country.

For more details on individual writers and bloggers, check out this site:

http://collegepolltracker.com/basketball/pollsters/2017

Very light schedule tonight–11 games overall.  However, Fox Sports 1 is featuring a doubleheader from “The Windy City” that is Chicago:

Chicago State at Northwestern in suburban Rosemont, 7 p.m. Eastern time followed by winless Alabama A&M at Wintrust Arena to take on DePaul.  That game tips off around 9 p.m.

Another Upset Alert: Boston College Shoots Lights Out To Topple Duke

SONG SELECTION:

“I Wish It Was Christmas Today”, done by several artists

Also can be found on Cheap Trick’s first Christmas album

Released October 20, 2017 via Big Machine Label Group

It had been nearly four years since the Boston College Eagles toppled the nation’s top ranked team.  On Saturday afternoon, they survived a furious comeback by Duke who actually led by one point with 77 seconds left to play.

However, a controversial call of an intentional foul in the final minute sealed Duke’s fate.  Senior Grayson Allen did all he could to keep the Blue Devils undefeated streak alive, but to no avail.  Boston College scored the season’s first major upset toppling Duke by a final score of 89-84 at Chestnut Hill.

The man of the game was Ky Bowman, who dazzled by scoring career highs with 30 points to go along with 10 rebounds and dishing out 9 assists.  Also coming up huge for the Eagles was Jerome Robinson with 24 and Jordan Chatman had 22.

What proved to be Duke’s undoing was their lack of three-point shooting.  In the first half alone, BC was a hot 11 for 16 from behind the arc.  Meanwhile, Duke was as cold as the weather in most of the country hitting only 3 of their first 12 attempts.  Marvin Bagley had 10 points and 7 rebounds at the half with BC holding a slight lead of 48-41.  But Bagley would be held in check by only tabulating 5 points and 5 rebounds the rest of the way.

For the game, BC shot 15 for 26 from deep, while Duke was a paltry 8 of 30.  The final stats showed BC hitting on 31 shots out of 61 attempts (nearly 50 percent), while Duke was 32 of 69.

Another surprise happened at Ball State, as the Cardinals upended Valparaiso by the slimmest of margins 71-70.  The Crusaders have lost two in a row.

Wichita State won in a place they had not win since 1957

Gallagher-Iba Arena on the campus of Oklahoma State is perennially one of the toughest places to win on the road.  But thanks to the superhuman efforts of Landry Shamet coming up with a career high 30 points (23 of them in the second half), Wichita State came up with a huge road win 78-66 over the slumping Cowboys.  For the Shockers, this win should vault themselves towards the Top 3 or 4 in the rankings when they are released on Monday morning.  Expect Kansas and Michigan State to occupy the top 2 slots.

Mike Brey wins in return to Delaware

During Mike Grey’s first coaching tenure with the Fightin’ Blue Hens, his teams reached the NCAA Tournament twice in 1998 and 1999.  On Saturday night, 5,000 fans jammed the Bob Carpenter Center when it was snowing outside to welcome back a prominent member of the UD Athletics Hall of Fame.

Delaware actually made things interesting in front of a CBS Sports Network television audience.  Kevin Anderson made a three to break an 11 all tie, while Ryan Daly rallied them from a small deficit with a trey of his own.  Anderson would later give the Blue Hens a short lived lead on a jumper and when a Notre Dame bounce pass bounced out of bounds, the crowd simply went bananas.

But once T.J. Gibbs hit a pair of triples of his own after the final media time out of the first half, the Irish were off and running.  The lead ballooned to 21 and the 4,990 fans realized it was not going to be a happy ending.

Matt Farrell led all scorers with 24 points, while Bonzie Colson had 19 points and 12 rebounds, and TJ Gibbs had a nice game with 21.  Delaware was led by Anderson with 23 points.

Kentucky puts on passing clinic at MSG

The stars usually come out to New York, and the latest one to join the long list of celebs was newly minted Yankees Manager Aaron Boone, who was joined by New York Yankees President Brian Cashman.

Kentucky made so many creative passes, Monmouth did not know what hit them.  The final score was 93-76 and the final score was not really indicative of how the game really was.

UCLA blows out late lead, Michigan dominates in overtime

The final big result from Saturday involved Michigan getting the better of UCLA.  With the Ball brothers mess firmly behind the school, the players and staff hopefully got the chance to breathe some very nice chilly air at Ann Arbor, Michigan.  This was the first game for the Bruins since Wednesday night’s scheduled tilt with Montana was cancelled due to the raging wildfires that are still going on in Southern California.

UCLA seemed to be in control in the waning moments of regulation, but their last second attempt to win at the buzzer was wide left and Michigan simply took charge in the extra stanza.  Michigan outscored UCLA 13-4 to win going away 78-69.  Aaron Holiday came up huge with 27 hard earned points in a much needed bounce back win after losing a tough one at Ohio State earlier in the week.

Things won’t get easier for the Wolverines, as they travel to take on Shaka Smart and Texas on Tuesday night.

Due to the very late posting of this blog, I hope to do a short podcast sometime this coming week.  Hope everyone has an enjoyable Sunday and please continue to pray for the millions of people forced to leave their homes and their belongings due to the persistent wildfires that are continuing to take over most of Southern California.