published Wednesday, March 20th, 2013

5-at-10: NCAA lessons, UT pro day, and more

Robert Morris guard David Appolon (4) tips the ball away from Kentucky guard Jarrod Polson (5) during the first half of an NIT college basketball game on Tuesday, March 19, 2013, in Coraopolis, Pa.
Robert Morris guard David Appolon (4) tips the ball away from Kentucky guard Jarrod Polson (5) during the first half of an NIT college basketball game on Tuesday, March 19, 2013, in Coraopolis, Pa.
Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Gang, remember our college basketball contest — First 1 out, last dog in. Pick the first No. 1 seed to lose and the double-digit seed that sticks around the longest. We need your entry by noon on Thursday. Easy, peasy, lemon-squeezey. It don't cost nothing and you could win stuff. If you picked MTSU, well, more on that in a moment.

From the "Talks too much" studios,

NCAA lessons

The tournaments have started, the tournaments have started. While not quite the same ring as Navin R. Johnson screaming "The new phone books are here, the new phone books are here," it does generate some excitement. (Side note: Wow, when was the last time you used a phone book?)

Here is a Rushmore of things we learned about college basketball last night during some better than expected college basketball:

• Every big-boy college basketball power should go on the road to a small-school and play for the energy, and in some ways to give back to the sport of basketball in general and the state of college basketball in particular. Watching Robert Morris host Kentucky in a gym about the size of a big high school venue was awesome for the casual fan. The energy, the pace and the intensity — it was the most meaningful NIT game we've ever seen (well, not so much to the Wildcats, but still). Good times.

• If you wanted a microcosm of Kentucky's season, last night's two-point loss to Ol' Bobby Morris was it. There were times that UK looked great, but those times were sandwiched with turnovers and tuned out moments of either disinterest or distraction. (Side question for UK fans — especially you 9er: While being physically similar, is Alex Poythress the exact opposite of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist in the intangible categories? Wow. The last supposed superstar to vanish that much was David Copperfield.)

• Wow, MTSU, what was that? The committee invited you, a smaller conference at-large team with a suspect resume, to the Dance and you showed up unshowered and and half-asleep.

• Can we please, Please, PLEASE stop calling the play-in games the first round? The first round starts Thursday. This is the first four. It's confusing for the casual fans and their brackets, and if you think college basketball does not need casual fans and the brackets, well, you're mistaken.

One more thing: How many times do you think Cuonzo "The Conz" Martin will mention's Kentucky's listlessness before the Vols' game tonight against the Mighty Bears of Mercer (enrollment 2,800 ... — Hoosiers).

————

UT pro day

And we're here. We're at the point where Tyler Bray makes his final meaningful football flings on the UT campus. It's the Vols pro day, a combine event that features a slew of NFL front office types and several Vols and other area college football standouts trying to catch someone's eye and land on someone's draft board.

There will be a ton of folks there, considering the presence of the supremely talented receivers who have recently resided in the 865. (Side note: We'd be surprised if Justin Hunter or Cordarrelle Patterson did much other than run patters for Bray considering the numbers each clocked at the official combine in Indy. Most draft boards have Patterson and Hunter somewhere in round one.)

For Bray, though, being there and being good are paramount because arguably the biggest moment of his professional life starts about the time this is posted to the interwebs.

We wonder what breakfast was like for him, knowing that this is lottery-ticket chance.

That said, the physical stuff is the given with Bray, the tall and lanky kid from California that troubled Tennessee fans and coaches with his array of physical gifts and an assortment of mental mistakes.

The extremes for Bray on each side of the coin are the things that make scouts and NFL executives stay awake into the wee morning hours before the draft. Physically, at worst he is similar to a Ryan Mallett, the former Arkansas star who has been Tom Brady's back-up and is drawing interest from other NFL teams. Emotionally, the act that ultimately wore out it's welcome in Knoxville and was as noteworthy as his talents, simply would not be tolerated in the NFL.

So today, Bray gets to show off his arm. And hope teams are willing to take a chance that he has righted his ship.

————

Happy spring

Today is the first day of spring. Yay.

Today is the perfect day to look at the spring training numbers for your Atlanta Braves. And for the most part, that's a yay too, well, unless you are Dan Uggla. E-GADS. If we were in Rocky II and needed a slew of catchy nicknames for Uggla, well, can you imagine Michael Buffer unloading, "Now, your second basebman.... The King of Swing and miss... Sir Whiffs-A-Lot... the grand dragon of a completely different K-K-K, Dan "The Fan" Uggla." (And yes, that's over the top, and yes, we know Uggla starts slow, but sweet bowls of golden flakes, in 19 spring games, Uggla has 10 hits and 19 Ks. Ouch-standing. And that strikeout pace is amazingly true to his time in Atlanta. Uggla has played 315 games in a Braves uniform and has struck out 324 times.)

Other than Uggla, let's examine some numbers and if they mean anything:

The good: Tyler Pastornicky is slap raking. He's hitting like we thought he would last year — .396 with five extra base hits in 48 at-bats and 11 RBIs. B.J. Upton is hitting .396, too. Freddie Freeman and Justin Upton look like the core of a strong middle of the lineup. The third-base lawfirm of Johnson and Francisco has eight home runs, 20 RBIs and is hitting .350 in 100 at-bats. Granted, all of that

The bad: Jason Heyward is under .230. Uggla has been the Uggla Johnny Braves Fans have become used to.

The Uggla: Catcher Gerald Laird is struggling so bad (with a 2-for-20 spring, he's making Uggla look like Wade Boggs) Evan Gattis and his .378 spring average is battling for a roster spot. And if that was any where close to the original plan, then Gattis would not be wearing No. 68.

We'll check the pitching numbers tomorrow, and while spring numbers are to be taken with the ultimate truckload of salt, there is a lot to like about the offensive firepower on this roster. And there's a lot of strikeouts on their horizon.

———

This and that

  • photo
    Lee University's Hollie German drives against Westmont of California Tuesday during the NAIA Division I tournament championship game in Frankfort, Ky. Contributed photo by Marvin Young

— The Lee University women made a run to the NAIA basketball title game before losing last night to Westmont 71-65. Lee is moving to Div. II athletics next school year.

— As our college sports ace David Paschall sent this morning, UK could be the first preseason No. 1 coming off a season-ending loss to Bob Morris.

— Got to say that President Obama's Final Four was quite similar to our bracket. (We gotta change it now, right?)

————

Today's question

We're looking for everyone's entry picks — we've got about two dozen or so and we'll post what we have after lunch.

If you got something to say, well, say it. If you need a talking point, here's a spin on an interesting question Stewwie tossed out on Tuesday (Side note: Stewwie's would be a nice name for a beer joint. We'd hang out and watch a game and knock back a couple of Co-Colas at Stewwie's.).

Stewwis asked who got more ESPN love LeBron and Tiger? That's tough, but we went with Tiger because of the career numbers. That said, that's two of the world's biggest sports stars, so it's somewhat understandable that the Worldwide Leader followed their every move.

What's the Rushmore of overplayed ESPN storylines/athletes? We're going to think about this one for a while, but we're pretty sure Manti Te'o's success/failures as an interweb Romeo is on there as is BountyGate.

Discuss.

about Jay Greeson...

Jay was named the Sports Editor of the Times Free Press in 2003 and started with the newspaper in May 2002 as the Deputy Sports Editor. He was born and raised in Smyrna, Ga., and graduated from Auburn University before starting his newspaper career in 1997 with the Newnan (Ga.) Times Herald. Stops in Clayton and Henry counties in Georgia and two years as the Sports Editor of the Marietta (Ga.) Daily Journal preceded Jay’s ...

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biff_loman said...

congrats to MTSU for proving the committee doesn't know what they are doing

now let's hope UT doesn't lay an egg like UK did last night

March 20, 2013 at 10:26 a.m.
ordinaryguy said...

JG...well played on the Navin Johnson reference...in these times of uber political correctness another example of classic comedy that would cause a furor if it were released now.

Am I the only one but are Coach Martin and the Knonxville fans going a bit overboard in their whining about being left out of the big dance? Vol calls was nothing more than a sad country song this week, whine whine whine get me a beer more whining to come. Hey clorox orange, as the greatest american band once sang GET OVER IT or you will face the same outcome that happened to weed's beloved caliparricats.

The Rushmore of the worldwide leader's rumpkiss fest has to be topped by the celebration of MJ's 50th birthday, but the slobbering love affair over Lebron is quickly approaching and will pass their one time darling Tiger, and you were spot on with the Manti, however every media outlet was quick to jump on that one and became nothing more than the national enquirer, but hide and watch he will become a fine LB in the NFL.

March 20, 2013 at 10:37 a.m.
JonathanMCook said...

Ten Ring:

(Side note: Wow, when was the last time you used a phone book?)

Two weeks ago when my Internet signal appeared to be weak to a point that I had no connection. We get a small phone book for the greater Dallas area that covers the basic numbers which I keep in a small drawer. In this case, I needed to call Time-Warner (The Comcast here in Dallas) to see what was going on. Turns out my specific neighborhood was simply off-line due to massive thunderstorm rolling through the west Dallas neighborhoods (rarely does a thunderstorm knock out the Internet connection so that was weird).

Before anyone asks, no, I do not own an "i" anything. Period. If the PC goes down, I'm off the gird.

Regarding Kentucky vs. Robert Morris: Truth

Not to beat a dead horse but unfortunately, this is not my first go-around on this topic. My last "discussion" on this was with Quake on the air during a trip home for Christmas. Nutshell: The days of a UTC regularly hosting a Michigan, Ohio State, Kentucky etc. are now once in a blue moon. There's no financial insentive from the big boy schools to go play a Kennasaw State or Mercer on their home turf. Then there's the debate regarding the fact there is more stuff to see and do than there was 5-10 years ago. It's a nice dream Jay, but it is a dream.

March 20, 2013 at 10:49 a.m.
biff_loman said...

[Hey clorox orange, as the greatest american band once sang GET OVER IT or you will face the same outcome that happened to weed's beloved caliparricats.]

i guess it's a good thing the fans don't play the games

March 20, 2013 at 10:53 a.m.
chas9 said...

Play-in games are not the first round. In fact, I wish they'd go away. As Dane Bradshaw observed on Sport Talk yesterday, nobody who missed an invite is deserving.

Spy and I even remember when there were only 32 in the dance. OG is correct. Real men don't whine.

Rupp arena had a previous commitment, so the supposed-to-be home team had to leave its world and play not just an away game, but a Moon game. Bugs and MJ couldn't make it, superhero Nerlens was hurt, and the rest of the UK team was disinterested.

Without the leadership of the energetic Noel, the point guard's role is paramount, so when starter Harrow earns only 9 minutes of PT, it's a bad night. Former walk-on PG Polson (31 minutes) played with heart and hustle, but it's apparent that this season's chemistry experiment just fizzled.

RM's Lucky Jones was tossed for a flagrant foul, but the lucky Colonials held on. Hitting 14 of 14 charity tosses and scrapping bested the Wildcat's 52.5% field goal shooting and rebounding edge.

It's all about BIG MO. In this case Bobby Mo had it, UK couldn't spell it. It's arguably the most humbling loss for the winningest program ever since Gardner-Webb, but we fans had already stopped caring.

We do care about Julius Randle's press conference at 1:30 this afternoon. If JR dons a cap that says UK (not KU), next year's starting team could be all freshmen. Goodwin, Poythress and Cauley-Stein all say they're coming back, but they could be next year's subs, leading candidates for next year's SEC sixth man award.

Chuck Hayes may be a better contrast for Poythress' lassitude than MKG, but you're right. Unless he grows some testicles, AP may just fade away. Or he could develop slowly into a solid performer as a senior.

No, MTSU's loss should not be used as an argument that UT is more deserving (though the Vols may be). St. Mary's is tough and may upset Memphis.

I regularly use a phone book, but I'm old.

March 20, 2013 at 11:06 a.m.
jomo11 said...

I loved what Charles Barkley said last night. After North Carolina A&T beat Liberty, they now have to play Louisville Barkley said " What comes after Liberty ? . . . Death "

March 20, 2013 at 11:33 a.m.
Todd962 said...

"I'm picking out a Thermos for you. Not an ordinary Thermos for you...."

The last time I used a phone book was following the episode of Mythbusters that they taught you how to rip one in half. I tried. I failed. Hand it to my friend. He shreds it. I stand by my "I loosened the jar top" theory and he wouldn't have been able to accomplish the feat if I hadn't helped. The moment still haunts my manhood though.

Despite the available material for Conz to motivate his team, it is difficult for a team to get up for the Kiss Your Sister Dance. When you thought you were having steak for dinner, hamburgers don't taste as scrumptious.

March 20, 2013 at 11:34 a.m.
compspeed said...

The play-ins are lame to begin with, but can someone explain why there were two 11 seeds in a play-in game? Makes no sense. If they are good enough to be an 11 seed let them in. I'm guessing that was a predetermined criteria for these two conferences. Stupid is as stupid does as Mama always said...

March 20, 2013 at 11:45 a.m.
chas9 said...

Not just ESPN, but all sports media may have overdone Michael Phipps and his mother.

And John Rocker got more attention than he deserved.

But it's impossible to run the scalded pig Bobby P. photo too often.

Ten days ago I could've gone with BO's picks, but Florida has been exposed. I'd go with Kansas (even though I've sworn off them a thousand times before), The Ohio State, Louisville and Indiana. No double digit seed will make the elite eight.

March 20, 2013 at 11:53 a.m.
jgreeson said...

From friend of the show StuckinKent —

Comp: It's because the last four teams in the field as at-larges play in two play-in games. The last four teams in as automatic qualifiers also are in the play-in games.

Personally, I rather see all eight of the teams in play in games as the last at larges in, and then it would all be 11, 12, or 13 seeds. It just makes sense....They didn't earn their way in by winning an automatic bid. Sorry about your luck....

March 20, 2013 at 12:32 p.m.
Stewwie said...

Agreed with Chas that the play-in games should be eliminated entirely. If that option is not on table, I agree with Stuck that each play-in game should only feature at-large teams.

[What's the Rushmore of overplayed ESPN storylines/athletes? We're going to think about this one for a while, but we're pretty sure Manti Te'o's success/failures as an interweb Romeo is on there as is BountyGate.]

Definitely Te'o and BountyGate as nominees. Maybe Spygate? And how about The Decision and the Summer of LeBron? ESPN was talking about that for about 2 whole years.

[(Side note: Stewwie's would be a nice name for a beer joint. We'd hang out and watch a game and knock back a couple of Co-Colas at Stewwie's.).]

Lol.

March 20, 2013 at 1:28 p.m.
mcpell3 said...

"What's the Rushmore of overplayed ESPN storylines/athletes?" - I would add Farve to the list. The whole retire/unretired got real old real fast.

If the NCAA keeps adding play-in games, we might as well go to 128 teams, but alas Auburn still wouldn't make it in.

March 20, 2013 at 3:18 p.m.
jgreeson said...

Gang,

Sorry, work got in the way of the 5-at-10 back-and-forth.

As for the play-in games, if they are going to keep them then they should be the 8-9 games — power programs who have had bad years by their standards like a UNC or a Nova or and NC State-Temple. They get to the Dance enough that a play-in game is not that bad.

For teams that make it once a decade or so, let them experience the big arenas and the trips.

Quickly...

9er —

You're Four and my Four match. Does that mean we need to start over.

Stewwie —

Spygate is a good call, and The Decision is made even more gross because ESPN had a hand in that ordeal.

We'll be back.

March 20, 2013 at 3:34 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

Most over played ESPN storyline? Anything to do with a New York Jets backup QB. Or the Lakers struggles.

Sorry the delay - had to play the Savannah Harbor club today. Swung em for the first time in a year - since I played there last year. I looked like somebody who hadn't played in a year.

I guess you'll be busy for the next while this evening, 5, if the headline on the tfponline.com home page is accurate.

March 20, 2013 at 3:38 p.m.
Stewwie said...

Wow...so Shulman's gone already. I figured he was done at UTC, but I didn't think it'd happen this quickly. Win-win for both sides...Shulman gets 100% of next year's salary which gives him plenty of time to search for his next job (and/or take a nice long relaxing vacation). UTC can now focus on finding the next guy and there's no rush in that, especially since the new AD won't be hired for a while. Might Wes Moore be interested in coaching the guys?

March 20, 2013 at 4:04 p.m.
chas9 said...

Spy is correct about Jets backup QBs or any kind of Tebowing for that matter.

Are there any examples of a women's coach switching sides and succeeding?

March 20, 2013 at 5:16 p.m.
chas9 said...

Randle will be a Wildcat, meaning the incoming class is the GOAT. I can't wait til next year. Meanwhile, UT is glad to have Maymon back and thrilled to have ONE incoming five star guy.

March 20, 2013 at 5:22 p.m.
JonathanMCook said...

Stewwie,

I just now read that. Seriously? An extension? That's like me asking for an early release after I spent a year on a liquor store robbery spree.

Remind me never to go big game hunting with John Shulman. He couldn't find a pink elephant in a room if it was wearing a sign.

March 20, 2013 at 5:28 p.m.
bigguy said...

Mocs lost a good man. Maybe they can get a Kiffin or Dooley and win that huge conference the are in.

March 20, 2013 at 8:36 p.m.
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