Friday, April 28, 2006

What is in the water in Paris?

Another off-season post.

So this is who the French watch on their nightly newscasts:

And here is their pop-teen version of Britney:

video 1

video 2

I'd like to propose a trade: Katie Couric and Britney for these two chicks.

Bulls Not Taking Any Bulls**t

'Da Bulls finally followed through last night on the promise of Games 1 and 2, winning decisively at home with Jordan cheering them on from the luxury box.

Unfortunately, it appears Miami's James Posey will not receive the suspension he deserves for tackling Hinrich at the end of the game, leading to the altercation pictured here. Even Pat Riley disapproved of the mugging, as quoted in the Tribune: "Maybe something happened at the other end of the court, but I don't like that. There has to be dignity in the game."

A quote from CNNSI that brought back fond memories of the Jayhawks circa 2002:

"At one point Miami's Walker tried to exhort his teammates by turning and clapping his hands vigorously. "Let's Go!" he yelled. By the time he turned back, Hinrich had blown past him en route to the basket."

As I'm pretty sure I've said all along: Bulls in seven.

Am I wasting my time on this NBA stuff? Anyone still with me?

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Bad Keegan Quote, Good Keegan Piece

"The NCAA prefers outsiders dig for dirt because the NCAA is suspicious about the size of the shovels insiders use to dig dirt on themselves."

Block that metaphor!

Still, give credit where it's due. That bad quote comes at the end of an excellent piece in today's LJW taking Chancellor Hemenway to task for our NCAA problems. Good reporting, Tom. Now if you could just hire a ghostwriter ...

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Losing With Dignity

It's been a great couple of days for individual performances by 'Hawks alumni. Keith Freeze scored 39 points in the D League championship game Saturday, Kirk had 29 and 7 assists against the Heat on Monday, and last night Drew Gooden (sporting the fashionable Muslim cleric look) shot 11 for 12, scoring 24 and clearing 16 boards against Washington.

Unfortunately, all three of them lost their respective games.

On the other side of the coin, ex-KU 3-point specialist Billy Thomas was on the winning side in the Washington-Cleveland game, but showed up in the highlights only as the victim of one of the greatest blocks I've ever seen. Billy put up what he thought was a wide-open layup, but Lebron James materialized from behind, blocked the shot and palmed it, all in the same motion and all using only one hand. If the Cavs had won the game, they'd be showing that play in highlight reels for decades.

Friday, April 21, 2006

April / May / June Madness!

It's time to begin the interminable NBA postseason, which is almost like a season in itself. But while the Pistons and my beloved hometown Spurs seem destined for a finals rematch (my beloved hometown Mavericks shouldn't be counted out either), almost every first-round matchup looks to be entertaining.

For instance, Kirk and the Bulls managed to avoid the certain doom of an 8th seed and will play the Heat instead of Detroit. No one is picking this upset, but Kirk has gotten the better of Dwyane Wade (pictured) before--remember the '03 Final Four--and the Bulls play with a lot more discipline and cohesion than Miami.

The Suns have the firepower to overcome the Lakers, but it should be a very entertaining series anyway; Kobe may break some scoring records against Phoenix's soft defense.

The Clippers/Nuggets series looks like a total toss-up. The same goes for Cleveland and my beloved hometown Washington Wizards. Cleveland has more talent but they've never been to the playoffs before, whereas the Wiz actually won a series last year.

Even though Pierce, Lafrentz, Collison and Ostertag (RIP) are done for the year, there is still plenty of KU representation in the playoffs. Aside from Hinrich, we have Drew Gooden (Cleveland), Jacque Vaughn (New Jersey), Scot Pollard (Indiana), Billy Thomas (Washington), and Wayne Simien (Miami).

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Lower Your Flags to Half-Mast ...

More alumni news and notes: my least favorite KU player ever, Greg Ostertag, announced last night that he would retire from the NBA at the age of 33.

He has, in true Bart Simpson fashion, proudly underacheived everywhere he's been--in Utah, at KU, even, according to some, during his prep days in Dallas. A college friend of mine from Texas who had seen him play in high school always referred to him as "Oster-sh*t."

If records were kept for getting dunked on, Greg might be the NBA career leader; hence my favorite nickname for him: "Poster-tag." I remember in the '94 tournament Purdue's Glenn Robinson dunked over Greg and then screamed in his face. Greg's reaction was to literally shake hands with Robinson and congragulate him on the play; Glenn could only laugh in response.

That incident sort of encapsulated Ostertag for me: a passive player, a flake, but apparently a nice guy. He did, after all, donate a kidney to his sister in 2002.

And on another positive note, I should mention that he remains KU's all-time leader in almost every blocks category; he had 258 career blocks, 15 more than Collison. (Amazingly, third on the list is the even-more-maligned Eric Chenoweth; the record has only been kept since the '70s, thus excluding Wilt, but still...)

Monday, April 17, 2006

Let's Go Flyers! and Bulls!

Some good news, of a sort, for KU alums: Miles and Langford's Ft Worth Flyers made the NBADL championship game. It'll be Saturday, against Albuquerque.
Here's some stand-out stats:
Keith Freeze: 11 points off 4-of-13 shooting.
Miles: 22 points off 7-of-15 shooting, 8-of-8 from the line, including "two free throws with 49 seconds left, his squad up by four. He followed that with a blocked shot," writes Gary Bedore for Not too bad at all.
Story here.

Let's hope some scouts are seeing this s**t.

In other news, the Bulls made the playoffs! Kirk had 17 points, 8 assists, and 6 rebounds. Story and highlights available here.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Will Rush Waver After Rush Waiver?

On April Fools Day, when some of us (OK, just me) were falling for Scott's fake news story about Brandon Rush being busted for possession (see earlier thread), we totally missed a real story that does not bode well for the Rush family: Kareem was waived by the Bobcats, a team not exactly loaded with talent to begin with.

Bobcats coach/GM Bernie Bickerstaff rubbed salt in the wound: "The Bobcats are about two things – hard work and maximum effort. With that in mind, we think that it is best to go in a different direction with Kareem."

As someone wrote in Kareem's Wikipedia entry, "This follows the unfortunate trend that bears with the Rush name, beginning with older brother JaRon Rush. Despite being hyped prior to the NBA draft for his athletic fluidity, JaRon's aspirations were cut short as a result of questionable work ethic."

Brandon was dogged by rumors that he had shown a similar lack of discipline (academically and athletically) as a prep player, but so far at KU he's been exemplary. Kareem's wiki entry also mentions Brandon: "He is reported to be the best Rush of the three, combining Kareem's shooting touch with JaRon's elite athleticism. With two older brothers to look up to and seek advice, he hopes to break this 'Rush jinx.'"

A more immediate concern is whether Kareem's sudden joblessness will give Brandon more incentive to enter the draft and replenish the family's revenue stream. But so far there are no signs of it; he reiterated his desire to stay at KU more than a week after Kareem's waiver.

DEA agent shoots himself in foot, sues federal government

Story link

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Movie Pick of the Week

Kurosawa's The Bad Sleep Well.

Introducing a new offseason feature while we take a break from college hoops ...

I'm on a Kurosawa kick now that I no longer have homework to worry about; I'm working my way through everything of his that I can find on DVD.

"The Bad Sleeps Well" is a new Criterion release: an obscure work, and not necessarily one of his best, but I still loved it. It features many of the same great actors from the "Seven Samurai" ensemble wearing suits and ties instead of robes and monk's tonsures. Toshiro Mifune looks especially uncomfortable in business attire, but his character is supposed to look uncomfortable, so it works.

The movie was an indictment of corporate and political corruption in Japan--quite apt in the age of Abramoff. It also has interesting echoes of "Hamlet": an accusing "ghost," a wedding cake that serves the same purpose as the "Mousetrap" play, and a philosophical exploration of the idea that "conscience doth make cowards of us all."

This leads up to the mother of all anti-climaxes, which may be disappointing to some, but it makes perfect thematic sense.

As I said, it's not his best work, but if Kurosawa ever made a bad movie I have yet to see it.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Capel to OU. Calipari to NC STATE? news services

Oklahoma will make Virginia Commonwealth coach Jeff Capel its next coach, reported on Monday night.

A news conference to announce the decision will reportedly be Tuesday or Wednesday.

Earlier Monday, Wichita State coach Mark Turgeon and Miami coach Frank Haith both announced they were withdrawing as candidates for the position, which left Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione with his "stealth" candidate" as ESPN reported.

Capel had been a target of Oklahoma since Kelvin Sampson announced he was taking over the head coaching position at Indiana two weeks ago.

Capel, 31, guided the Rams to the NCAA Tournament in 2004 and the NIT in 2005. VCU finished 19-10 overall and 11-7 in the Colonial Athletic Association last season.

Capel played at Duke from 1994-97 and is the son of Charlotte Bobcats assistant Jeff Capel, a former head coach at Old Dominion and North Carolina A&T. He was selected last summer to be an assistant coach with Manhattan's Bobby Gonzalez on the USA World University Games staff led by Villanova's Jay Wright. The United States won the gold medal in Turkey.

After the season, Capel agreed to a two-year contract extension that gave him six years on his VCU deal. His record at the school was was 79-41.

Memphis toils over salary in an effort to retain coach

Memphis men's basketball coach John Calipari remained N.C. State's focus Monday, but there was no definitive word on his plans from Memphis, N.C. State officials or his agent.

N.C. State athletics director Lee Fowler and Chancellor James Oblinger flew to Memphis on Sunday to meet with Calipari. There were conflicting reports Monday that Calipari and his staff would tour N.C. State's facilities on Monday or today; as of Monday evening, there was no evidence he had traveled to Raleigh.

A source close to Calipari told the Observer he expects Calipari to accept the N.C. State job if N.C. State and Memphis make similar offers.

Memphis spokesman Lamar Chance said school officials were working to increase Calipari's salary. The Memphis Commercial Appeal reported he would be offered a raise of $400,000 to $600,000, which would increase his total annual salary to $1.5 million to $1.7 million.

Memphis' deal includes a $2.5-million annuity Calipari can collect if he stays through his 10th season, the Commercial Appeal reported. Calipari just completed his sixth season at Memphis.

The Observer has been unable to confirm reports N.C. State offered Calipari close to $2 million a year. Craig Fenech, Calipari's New Jersey-based agent, declined to comment.

N.C. State is looking for a replacement for Herb Sendek, who decided April 1 to leave after 10 seasons for Arizona State. Calipari quickly expressed interest in the job through intermediaries, but the Wolfpack first targeted Texas coach Rick Barnes, who accepted a raise and is staying with the Longhorns.

Memphis is 148-59 under Calipari and reached the Oakland Regional final of the NCAA tournament last month before losing to UCLA. Calipari also coached briefly with the New Jersey Nets and spent eight seasons at Massachusetts, directing the Minutemen to the 1996 Final Four.

That Final Four trip later was vacated by the NCAA because center Marcus Camby accepted impermissible gifts from a sports agent.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Report: Aldridge leaving, Barnes staying

at news services

The Texas Longhorns will reportedly be without one of their leading scorers next season.

LaMarcus Aldridge, whose sophomore season ended with a disappointing performance in Texas' overtime loss to LSU in the NCAA Tournament's Elite Eight, has told teammates and the Longhorns coaching staff he will enter the NBA draft, three sources told The Dallas Morning News.

Aldridge is projected as a possible high first-round pick in the NBA draft -- and ranks at No. 3 on ESPN Insider Chad Ford's Top 100 -- but declined to discuss his future after Texas' loss.

Aldridge's 26-point, 13-rebound performance against West Virginia in the Sweet Sixteen had scouts buzzing that he had solidified his place as a potential No. 1 pick in the draft, according to Ford. But his 2-for-14 performance against LSU had scouts backing off a little bit.

The 6-10 forward averaged 15.0 points and 9.2 rebounds a game during the regular season.

In related news, Longhorns coach Rick Barnes will remain at Texas, despite reports the North Carolina State had targeted Barnes in its coaching search, the Morning News also reported.

Barnes' annual base salary will increase from $1.3 million to $1.8 million, and he will receive a $125,000 bonus if Texas reaches the NCAA Tournament, according to the newspaper.

In 2006, the Longhorns won a school-record 30 games, and earned a share of the Big 12 regular season title.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Moving On

The tournament is over and there are signs that the world is moving on. Tom DeLay has quit his job (word is he DeLayed his announcement to turn funds raised in his campaign into a legal defense fund) Katie Couric is the new Dan Rather, hundreds of orthodox jews are burning police cars in Brooklyn, and a DHS deputy press secretary has been arrested for soliciting a minor over the internet.

More importantly, most sports news sites have posted their preliminary preseason rankings and KU is in the top 5 of most lists.

The one list where we're not in the top 5 (we're 6) has some interesting conjecture:

6. Kansas: And the No. 6 team doesn't look bad, either. Holy cow, all those freshmen are going to become sophomores. Brandon Rush already has said he's coming back. We're guessing one of the following underclassmen will turn pro -- Mario Chalmers, C.J. Giles, Julian Wright or Sasha Kaun -- but if so ... so what? There's still plenty coming back, and Sherron Collins will be the country's best freshman PG.

Coaching rumors from CBSSPORTSLINE:

Oklahoma: North Carolina assistant Joe Holladay is not an A-list candidate, but he has discussed the vacancy with OU athletics director Joe Castiglione. Holladay is a 1969 Oklahoma graduate and a member of that state's high school coaches hall of fame.

There are also rumors that Mark Turgeon has been contacted about the job.

Also, Joe Lunardi has us as a one seed in the 2007 tournament.

We're # 1 (or possibly 6)!

The pundits have released their preseason rankings and all have KU at least in the top ten. (Thanks to the Journal-World's Gary Bedore for showing us where to look).

KU is ranked first here, second here, fifth here, and sixth here.

According to Bedore, we're also ranked first on, but I couldn't find that. I did, however, find a story titled, "Will this be the year of the Jayhawks?" (subscription required), which may be what he was referring to.

Bracketology projects us as the #1 seed in the San Antonio region. The other #1s are UNC, Florida and UCLA.

Goodman of Fox Sports, who had us first, was the only one who based his rankings on the assumption that Noah was going pro. Presumably if Noah stays Florida moves to #1 in his poll, but if he leaves we could move past them in the other polls.

Doyel of CBS Sportsline, who ranked us lowest at 6, speculates that either Chalmers, Giles, Julian or Sasha will turn pro, yet he also bets that everyone from Florida is coming back. (Wasn't he also the one who predicted every #1 seed would advance to the Final Four?)

ESPN's Katz warns that Rush still could leave; this seems much more plausible to me, if still unlikely. Self did say he was going to check Brandon's draft status.

SI's Winn presumes that everyone is coming back, and speculates that the addition of Sherron Collins might prompt Self to go with a four-guard lineup. I'm not so sure that's a good idea, but it would be fun.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Noah's Snark

Worst Final Four ever?

I'm going to have to say yes, at least in the modern era. You only occasionally see a blowout in a championship game. The only two I can think of were UConn over GTech in '04 and UNLV over Duke in '90. But in both of those cases, there was at least one entertaining semifinal game; not so this year.

Noah fully met my expectations, both by playing brilliantly and by preening like the diva he is. I now believe he is the biggest pr**k to lead his team to a title since Laettner. He was actually flirting with the UCLA cheerleaders on an inbounds play. (I have to admit, there WAS something kind of hot about the UCLA cheerleaders wearing team jerseys, as though each one had spent the night with a player).

More annoying than Noah, however, was the performance of UCLA. How could this team beat LSU and Memphis so convincingly and then not even show up against an equally talented but young Gator squad? I knew something was wrong early on when Mata, the guy wearing the Lecter facemask, made the single dumbest play of the entire tournament: he found himself wide open under the basket, botched the easy layup, then grabbed the rebound and despite being now closely guarded by two bigger Gators, didn't even look to kick it out but forced up another futile shot, then INTENTIONALLY gave a hard foul on the defensive rebound knowing full well it would be his THIRD with still five minutes left to play in the FIRST HALF!

I've never yelled at the TV so much during a non-KU game. Coach Wooden must have been rolling over in his hospital bed.

One consolation for long-suffering KU fans: at least we've never been as uncompetitive in a tournament game (in the Roy and Self years) as the Bruins were last night.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Our Editorial Endorsement: UCLA

Saturday's games were both huge disappointments. My beloved hometown Patriots suddenly couldn't hit a jump shot to save their lives. While I had no preference between UCLA and LSU (brackets already shot to hell) I at least expected a competitive game, but Big Baby's performance was positively infantile.

I anticipate a more competitive game tonight, and hope to see the Bruins finally wipe the smirk off Joakim Noah's face. Ben Howland seems to be a classy guy, and their defense in particular is formidable; I may never refer to the Pac-10 as "soft" again.

I don't know if my co-bloggers will back me up on this endorsement. If not, reply below ...

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Rush, Chalmers arrested for possession.

LAWRENCE, KS. (AP) -- University of Kansas freshmen basketball players Brandon Rush and Mario Chalmers are facing possession of marijuana complaints in Lawrence.

Police records show officers were called by security guards to a university dormitory shortly before midnight March 31st and contacted Rush and Chalmers.

The records say both players admitted smoking marijuana but said they didn't have any left. Police say they entered the apartment and saw a portion of a block of marijuana on top of a television.

Police confiscated the substance and issued Rush and Chalmers citations then released them. They are due in Douglas County District Court on April 19th at 4 pm.

University officials and Kansas Men's Basketball coaching staff were unavailable for comment.

Rush and Chalmers are freshmen and have three years of eligibility left at Kansas.


Lawrence Journal-World: April 1, 2006