Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Poll Dancing: How the Rankings Should Look (Jan. 9 Edition)

It's part and parcel of college sports that subjective human polls help shape a large part of a team or conference's perceptions nationwide. No one who's ever read a Top 25 ranking would dare claim that any of said polls are infallible, and that would include this one. Poll Dancing will examine the polls in each week of the season, try to find reason, and suggest alternatives. And occasionally quote random lyrics.

First, the TBI Top 25 after the jump.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Western Kentucky Gives Ken McDonald a Bad 24 Hours

Western Kentucky lost a game last night where Louisiana-Lafayette snuck an extra player onto the court. That's a bad night.

Then, head coach Ken McDonald got ambushed with this Friday morning. I'd be off somewhere having a stiff drink, 10 AM be damned.

McDonald's firing has prompted a great deal of hand-wringing on Twitter, and from people who should know better: Jon Rothstein, Matt Norlander, and Jeff Goodman, all writers that I love and respect. In fairness, most of the pity for McDonald has been over the timing of his firing. Mid-season, the night after losing on a "power-play goal," yada yada yada.

But, at first, some of it seemed to give me the impression that some kind of coaching genius was getting a raw deal. And I'm not sure where that impression would come from.

McDonald made the second round of the NCAA Tournament with his first team in 2008-09, sure. And Jon Gruden won a Super Bowl in his first year coaching the Tampa Bay Bucs. Just like Gruden inherited Tony Dungy's team, McDonald inherited a big chunk of Darrin Horn's team.

Since that 25-9 season, the Hilltoppers have gone 42-40, 21-16 in the Sun Belt. They're 5-11 this season, and have been exposed as being unable to count to six.

Sure, it's a team with seven freshmen, but it's also a team that ranks 334th in America in FG% (out of 344, so yeah, that's bad). Their average three-point shooting performance is 5-19, indicative of a coach who's not sure how to get his players to select better shots.

Eighteen turnovers per game ranks them 335th in the nation. Last night's ULL game was their first single-digit turnover performance all season. This is a bad team right now. If you think he should have gotten a full season to show what the team could do in league play, that's fine. But let's try to avoid spinning it into a good coach being unjustly forced to walk the plank. Because there's not a lot of evidence to that.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Morning Wood: January 5 (Temple of Doom Edition)

Some notes on last night's college hoop action:

  • Perhaps this is why Duke doesn't play true non-conference road games. The No. 3 Devils traveled to Philly and got the No. 2 surprised out of them with a 78-73 loss to Temple. Whether Duke deserved their lofty ranking or not, this is a huge signature win for the Owls, and barring a clunker of a conference campaign, mark them down for an at-large spot if they don't claim the Atlantic 10 title. More on that later today. Duke, for their part, still doesn't have a point guard, and that will cost them in March. From Bobby Hurley to Jay Williams to Jon Scheyer, Duke's title teams have all had a steady hand on the rudder, and Austin Rivers' hand (1-8 from 2-point range, 2 assists and 3 TOs against Temple) is far from steady.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Conference Calling: ACC

In one of the first posts here on TBI, I discussed why the ACC was still one of college basketball's biggest dogs. As the season wears on, however, the conference's description is taking on a more negative tone, less "big dog" and more "dogging it."

Until Conference Realignment Roulette drags North Carolina off to the SEC or Duke to the Big 12 or something just as ludicrous, the ACC can never be completely written off. At least, UNC and Duke can never be written off. With the way the rest of the league is operating, it may very well be safe to ignore the other 10 teams.

  • Real Time RPI currently has the ACC ranked below the Mountain West, of all things, in league RPI. The MWC has shown no fear of the Atlantic Coast, with not only UNLV's big win over the Tar Heels, but also TCU supplying the only blemish on the Virginia Cavaliers' season so far.