Monthly Archives: March 2013

CSU Seniors Are A Special Group

V. Haro. Fort Collins Coloradoan

Colorado State’s classy group of five seniors will be missed by Ram fans. V. Haro. Fort Collins Coloradoan

One of the things I’ll remember most about the group of Colorado State seniors whose careers all ended Saturday was they way the carried themselves on the court.

When I watched Greg Smith and Wes Eikmeier and Colton Iverson and Dorian Green and Pierce Hornung, I got the feeling they were all there to win a basketball game. Nothing more. They were passionate and they would get jacked up in big moments, but it was always about the team. Never about themselves. Never talking crap. Never showing up an opponent. Never playing to the crowd.

Personal celebrations are rampant in college basketball and I’m not here to say any of that is wrong or foolish. It’s a fun part of the game. But it was really refreshing to watch a group of kids that just didn’t care about any of that. I’m sure much of the credit for this mentality should go to Tim Miles and Larry Eustachy, but it’s rare for college kids to conduct themselves with so much class at all times.

How many times can you remember one of these seniors doing the single three goggle, double three goggles, down-low-three-thing, six-shooter-pistol-thing, jersey popping, or chest pounding? None. I suppose I could be wrong but I can’t remember one of these guys doing something like that one time over the course of four (or three for Eikmeier, one for Iverson) years. That’s incredible to think about.

Instead we saw a lot of this stuff:

CSU celebrates as a team.AP Photo/Coloradoan, Dawn Madura

CSU parties on the court– as a team– after a win.
AP Photo/Coloradoan, Dawn Madura

Always about the team.

The ending was unceremonious and it didn’t feel right. Last week’s post pointed out that they earned a better fate than what they were stuck with.

Without getting on my soapbox again, I’ll simply say it was a shame to watch the kids that turned a program around go out in that manner. They deserved better. They could have played Florida Gulf Coast in the second round. Or Gonzaga. Or anybody else. You have to feel that any draw other than Louisville in Kentucky and things wouldn’t have been so upsetting and disappointing.

I’m not saying they were bound to win a national championship, but it’s no stretch to see them as a Sweet 16 team if the committee was a little more kind reasonable. They deserved better. I’ll get off my soap box now.

An interesting thought regarding this team:  Does it make sense to retire any numbers? I think there’s one guy you can make this argument for and that’s #22. Dorian Green has played in more CSU basketball games than anyone. Ever. He took over a team that had gone 4-12 in conference play the year before he arrived. They improved each of his four years. He led the program to back-to-back tournament appearances for the first time in 13 years. This year’s team won the most games in program history and is generally considered the best Colorado State team ever. Green scored 26 points in the program’s first NCAA tournament win in 24 years.

Those are some serious accomplishments.

The thing is, he was never really a superstar. Nobody on this team was. They were five very good players who played very well together. You can’t retire all five numbers. Or can you? No you can’t. Or do you just retire Smith’s 44 and Hornung’s 4 and Green’s 22 because they played all four years? No, that’s too excessive.

Colorado State has only retired five numbers in the history of their athletic department and they’re generally reserved for All-Americans. Only one of those honored is a men’s basketball player, Bill Green (no relation, but a very coincidental last name), in the early 1960s.

With that in mind it seems unlikely Dorian Green’s number will hang in the rafters at Moby, but his career certainly warrants a discussion on the matter. What do you all think?

I guess at some point we have to think about next year. For a team losing all five of it’s starters, the cupboard isn’t as bare as it might initially seem. The core will be sixth-year senior Jesse Carr, 4th-year junior Dwight Smith, 4th-year junior and current Mountain West sixth-man of the year Daniel Bajerano, junior Jon Octeus and senior Gerson Santo.

Three pretty solid recruits are coming in, but at this point it’s tough to predict how much playing time any of them will receive.

A drop-off is expected. At this point (and it is really early for all this talk) I see CSU as a middle of the pack Mountain West team that lands on the wrong side of the bubble.

Anyway, this year’s group deserves to be celebrated and will not be soon forgotten. They turned the program around. They laid the foundation. They were all close friends. They hang out together. They are mature off the court. They were mature on the court. And they were good.

We may never see a group like them again.

OTHER STUFF FROM THE TOURNAMENT’S OPENING WEEKEND

This category is pretty much dominated by Florida Gulf Coast University. This dunk from Friday is the moment of the tourney.

What we have here is a kid on a 15-seed lobbing it about 3 feet above the rim in a crucial moment. Then some white dude who probably didn’t really get recruited by anyone throws it down like JaVale McGee. Just an incredible moment.

That happened on Friday. By Saturday morning, they had they’re own music video popping around social media. Usually this stuff is pretty poor, but “Dunk City” has some serious production value:

They won again to make history on Sunday, which produced my favorite gif since Marshall Henderson trolling the Auburn kids. Equipment manager going hard:

FGCU Equipment Manager

What a thug. I love the mini-chicken dance halfway through. It’s also important to notice how goofy his buddy #15 is. Not quite as thug.

My other favorite moment from the opening weekend came when a friend sent me this video. The dude coming down the stairs in the background has had a long day of basketball, presumably enjoying an adult beverage or two along the way. Apparently watching someone fall down turns me into a second-grader giggling uncontrollably.

OTHER STUFF FROM AROUND THE WEB

Thursday night was all about college basketball, but if you missed the end of the Nuggets game against the 76ers, check out this wild finish that extended their winning streak to 14.

The Nuggets (sans Ty Lawson) lost to the Hornets last night. No really, that happened. Still, they are the best story in the NBA right now (assuming you don’t like or don’t care about or refuse to acknowledge the Miami Heat, who should be expected to win every game and not praised for it). Denver has a great chance of securing the number 3 seed in the Western Conference. Rob Mahoney of si.com had an interesting piece on Monday about the Nuggets true chances of playoff success. Personally, I think there’s a whole lot to hate about the NBA, but the deep and different dudes in Denver are, in a way, the opposite of all those disturbing and disgusting trends. So I watch. And I root. And I don’t even feel like a hypocrite.

And yes, I absolutely think this team is good enough to get past San Antonio and Oklahoma City to play Miami in the Finals, assuming David Stern is cool with it, which is unlikely. They travel to San Antonio tomorrow in what should be an interesting test.

The controversial ending to the Nuggets-Bulls game last week got a Bulls analyst fired. What a wild story.

This is a great story on a dad successfully grooming his son to become a professional athlete. Really good journalism.

This MMA’er has an unfortunate name. Or the announcer has an unfortunate pronunciation. Either way, this should make you laugh:

This has 6 million views in like 6 days. It’s not as good as this classic. Or even this one. But what a fun little genre we’ve developed here.

And finally, Opening Day is less than a week away. It might mean less in Colorado this year, but damn, I love baseball. It’s hard to not get excited for winter fading into spring and spring fading into summer. Nothing symbolizes that better than a bright green baseball diamond on a sunny day. I wrote this a year ago.

Happy Tuesday everybody.

Comment on any of this stuff below, or email me at mdhahn1@yahoo.com with post ideas, videos or other media I should know about. Subscribe at the top right of this page. Follow me on Twitter @MitchDHahn

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Did Colorado State Deserve a Better Seed and a Better Matchup?

Welcome to the initial posting of Tuesdays With Mitch. This will be a little different than the old blog. New name, new format and a new commitment with a post each Tuesday. Enough about that, we have a lot to get to. Let’s jump in.

Colorado State fans were pretty darn upset on Selection Sunday for a variety of reasons. Here’s why:

The Colorado State Rams have an understandably subdued reaction upon seeing themselves as an 8-seed. Aaron Ontiveroz, Denver Post

The Colorado State Rams have an understandably subdued reaction upon seeing themselves announced as an 8-seed. Aaron Ontiveroz, Denver Post

Let’s start at the beginning. Once the selection committee has determined who will be in the field, they rank each of the teams from 1-68. That list is here. We’ll leave it at that for now.

The Rams came in at number 30 on the committee’s list, giving them an 8-seed. Here’s a link to the bracket, which you’ll probably want to reference. That #30 means that the committee felt CSU was the second best of the four 8-seeds.

Should they have been ranked higher? Let’s take a look. Here’s the list of the teams that make up seeds 7-9:

Seeds 7-9

cbssports.com

I’ll quickly breakdown each of the 5 teams ranked ahead of CSU. Keep in mind the things the committee looks at most closely are good wins, bad losses and RPI. Feel free to skim over some of the specifics if you’re not particularly interested in the details. I’ll start with CSU’s numbers for reference:

Colorado State — RPI: 18. Versus RPI top 100 11-7. Sub-100 losses: 1.

Creighton  RPI: 25. Versus RPI top 100: 10-5. Sub-100 losses: 2.

They Jays have a couple top 50 neutral-court wins, something the Rams do not have. The RPI is pretty close. Their worst loss is to Drake (RPI 144). The Rams worst loss is to UIC (169). Overall, having Creighton ranked ahead of CSU is reasonable.

San Diego State — RPI: 32. Versus RPI top 100: 8-10. Sub-100 losses: 0.

This one is going to take up a bit more space, as it has CSU fans the most upset, mainly because the Aztecs went 9-7 in the Mountain West, where the Rams went 11-5. Indeed, this is the most egregious/puzzling/enraging of the seeding scenarios.

A quote from Andy Glockner, who does a bracket projection and just about everything else college basketball for si.com. From his Monday column:

“The good thing about the Mountain West is it played a double round-robin schedule, so it’s pretty easy to see who was better in league play. Colorado State finished 11-5, a game ahead of UNLV and two games ahead of San Diego State, yet the Rams ended up 30th on the seed curve, somehow four spots behind the Aztecs and a crazy 12 spots behind UNLV. I know nonconference play matters, too, but what did UNLV and San Diego State do that was so great to overcome the league performance by such a significant magnitude? That made no sense.”

Well put, Andy. When asked for some explanation by Fort Collins Coloradoan beat writer Matt Stephens, committee chair Mike Bobinski mentioned the nonconference play of the two teams. From that report:

“Our conversations at the end of the day about those two teams were that San Diego State had a nice neutral-court win over UCLA, beat Indiana State, which is a pretty good team and did just enough things for us to put them slightly ahead of Colorado State,” Bobinski said. “Colorado State’s non-conference wins didn’t really feature anything over teams in the tournament, where as San Diego State at least had that.”

In other words, “Ummm I really have no idea how that happened. Sometimes we just screw up and there’s no reasonable explanation for that at all.” I have so many issues with Bobinski’s stupid explanation I don’t know where to start. He apparently forgot that CSU did, in fact, have a nonconference win over Montana, a 13-seed in this year’s tourney. He gives credence to the Aztecs’ neutral court win over Indiana State (RPI 72). Apparently CSU’s nonconference road win over Denver (RPI 65) doesn’t count as much as that one. So a neutral court win over a decent-but-mostly-mediocre UCLA team (RPI 26) gets SDSU ranked four spots ahead of CSU, despite 3 fewer top 100 wins, a 14-spot differential in the teams’ own RPI rankings, and a 2-game difference in the conference standings with a perfectly balanced schedule? Just lunacy.

Notre Dame — RPI: 35. Versus RPI top 100: 9-9. Sub-100 losses: 0.

The Irish have two fewer top 100 wins, but they have two top 13 wins. CSU’s best is 22. ND’s worst loss is 94. Their RPI, however, is almost twice as high as the Rams’, so I’d call this one a coin flip, or a slight nudge in CSU’s favor. Crazy to think a brand name like Notre Dame would win a close call over a brand name like Colorado State.

Illinois — RPI: 40. Versus RPI top 100: 7-10. Sub-100 losses: 2.

Apparently the committee can just brush aside the supposedly important RPI factor when it feels like it. The Illini have a bit of a different profile. Good wins– 3 in top 10– clearly carried them to a 7-seed. There’s four fewer top 100 wins and one more bad loss. Oh, and that enormous RPI discrepancy. I’d call this one pretty much a coin flip again. The profile depends on what kind of criteria one puts the most stock into.

North Carolina — RPI: 17. Versus RPI top 100: 9-9. Sub-100 losses: 1.

These profiles are incredibly similar. Both teams’ best wins are home to UNLV. Both played 10 games vs. top 50 teams (CSU went 3-7; UNC went 2-8). Both played 8 games vs. 51-100 teams (CSU went 8-0; UNC went 7-1). The RPI is a virtual tie (.6185 to .6182). And both teams have one sub-100 loss. I would guess the committee gave the nod to UNC because they’re playing better in recent games. That is, of course, assuming that brand names and conference affiliations and traditions don’t come into play.

Pierce Hornung and the Rams received a tough draw in every regard in this year's NCAA Tournament. Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Pierce Hornung and the Rams received a tough draw in every regard in this year’s NCAA Tournament. Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

So of the five teams ranked immediately ahead of Colorado State, my scorecard reads one correct, one outrageously ridiculous and horrible, and three 50/50 calls, all three of which went against the Rams to tradition-rich programs with huge fan bases.

If I’m coming off sounding like a whiney fan, I apologize, but facts are facts. Another national writer, Jason Lisk, who does great work on The Big Lead gave me a little ammo Monday as well.

Discussing teams that were seeded lower than their RPI would have indicated he said, “Colorado State is probably the only one with a complaint if we view it from a ‘RPI, adjusted slightly for who you beat scenario’. They dropped below (UNLV) and were seeded four spots lower than (San Diego State).”

Hopefully I’ve made it clear that the boys from Fort Collins simply deserved a better seed than the one they received.

You still with me? Good, because I’m not done.

Now let’s look at the match up. Because this has me equally befuddled.

The Rams are heading across the country to play in Lexington. Should they get past a very good Missouri team, they face Louisville, the tournament’s number one overall seed. In theory, this should be designated for the fourth (or worst) 8-seed. Remember, the Rams are the second 8-seed. Since that was a tough draw, hopefully the committee made up for it by giving CSU a favorable location, right? Nope.

The other 8-9 locations are Dayton, Salt Lake City and Kansas City. Lexington and Dayton are about an 18 hour drive from Fort Collins (according to Google Maps). SLC is 7; KC is 9.

This is where things get complicated, and I’m no Joe Lunardi. But looking at the bracket, it would appear to make much more sense to simply swap out Colorado State and the team immediately behind them in the seed list, Pittsburgh. This would send the Panthers to play Missouri in Lexington and CSU to Salt Lake to play Wichita State. These games obviously make more sense because of location, but it also makes sense based on the seed list.

For some reason Colorado State plays the first 9-seed in Missouri (33 on the list) in the round of 64 even though they’re the second 8-seed. If you’re wondering, Columbia, Missouri is about a seven hour drive to Lexington, or 11 hours shorter than from Fort Collins. Oh yeah, if they get past that game they have the tourney’s number one overall seed waiting for them in a home game.

None of this makes any sense.

Unless I’m missing something, and I don’t see any conference or rematch conflicts, going to Salt Lake to play Wichita State with Gonzaga awaiting the winner makes infinitely more sense than what CSU is stuck with. And, based on the (incorrect) seed list, the Rams have earned as much.

So your Colorado State Rams got a tough draw based on the seeding, the location, the opponent, and the potential second round opponent. That’s all.

It’s really a shame, because these seniors have worked so hard for the past four (or five) years to get to this moment, and this year they’ve earned much better than this scenario. Hopefully all this puts a chip on the Rams’ shoulder, and I’m one guy thinking it would not be particularly wise to count this team out now.

Off the court, these dudes just can’t win. Here’s to hoping things are different on the court.

OTHER STUFF FROM AROUND THE WEB

Here’s JaVale McGee doing something ridiculous on a basketball court:

This could be a weekly installment. And no, I don’t know what to call that play either. And yes, the Nuggets are pretty darn good. So are the Heat though, so what’s the point?

What are your thoughts on Dick Vitale? The Wall Street Journal had an interesting profile of the polarizing broadcaster last week. It’s recommended reading. Personally, I love Dickie V. His passion for college basketball is unrivaled and I think his goofy mannerisms and dumb catch phrases have become as much a part of the sport as reviewing clock issues in the last minute of games. I literally laugh out loud every time he says, “How do you miss that? I ONLY GOT ONE EYE AND I COULD SEE IT!” Dick is a surprisingly good follow on twitter, but only if you– and I’m serious about this– read each tweet in your best Dickie V voice. And really, he’s just a great dude who absolutely loves people. That’s a quality characteristic. His passionate work in raising money for the Jimmy V foundation is also very important. What do you think? Are you hitting the mute button or laughing along with me?

March Madness kinda-sorta starts tonight, so why not?

Gus is the best. It’s a travesty he no longer calls the tournament.

This one doesn’t need much explanation: 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=Xo2MQtqD3zk

Throw it down big man! (Found that on Jimmy Traina’s twitter. @JimmyTraina)

Apparently there’s like 20 different versions of these commercials. After much deliberation I’ve decided they’re pretty funny.

Able. Bodied. Athleticism. They may or may not be attempting to appeal to rednecks with these.

I really enjoyed the latest 30 for 30, “Survive and Advance” about Jim Valvano and the unlikely tournament run of the 1983 North Carolina State team. It was a well done look at a truly incredible man and a truly incredible season. I’d probably rank it as one of the best three or four films in the documentary series. You feel something special when you watch a bunch of teammates sitting around a table reminiscing about such historic developments 30 years later. Search for it in your DVR and set aside a couple hours, you’ll thank me later. If you don’t tear-up you’re more of a man than me.

Here’s a fascinating non-sports feature from the New York Times Magazine. This dude’s a world renowned physicist, but he makes Manti Te’o look like a genius.

This is what Marshall Henderson looked like after winning the SEC Tournament Championship:

Marshall-Henderson1

[via @denzelnkemdiche]

If you know anything about Marshall Henderson, this picture isn’t much of a surprise.

And finally, only one bracket please. I could write a whole post about this, but if you fill out more than one bracket you’re doing it wrong. If you called that sweet 13 over 4 upset in “your other bracket” I do not want to hear about it. It doesn’t count. When you fill out a bracket, you should be making a confident attempt at perfection. There’s only one perfect bracket.

Comment below, or email me at mdhahn1@yahoo.com with post ideas, videos or other media I should know about. Follow me on Twitter @MitchDHahn

Happy Tuesday everybody.