Interesting interpretation of "bench decorum" in Omaha

    
February 18th, 2007

Am I the only person watching the Drexel/Creighton game tonight that was confused about the emphasis on "bench decorum"? Each head coach, Bruiser Flint of Drexel and Dana Altman of Creighton, was T'd up in this BracketBusters game that the visiting Dragons eventually won 64-58. Altman's technical, in which he was called for being about six inches outside of the coaches box, brought back memories of Dean Smith getting a T for the same offense in the 1991 Final Four. Coach Altman said nothing to the official to warrant this call, just happened to do something that coaches throughout the nation have been doing for years. Drexel went on a run after this, and things seemed to be going well for the Dragons until Coach Flint found himself on the wrong side of the whistle when yelling at his player for a foolish reach-in foul. Jumping into the air and yelling at his guy wouldn't have been a problem (nor should it be) had an official not been right next ot Flint. Luckily for Drexel, they were able to hold on despite some horrific foul shooting (at one point they had missed five straight from the charity stripe).

The actual turning point? Anthony Tolliver picking up his fourth foul with the Blue Jays firmly in control halfway through the second half. From there Frank Elegar took over inside, and Dominic Mejia knocked down some shots from the outside. Can Drexel grab an at-large out of the Colonial? This result definitely helps, but I think they need to at least win out in the regular season then make a decent run in the CAA Tournament. But while the Dragons helped themselves out in terms of an at-large resume, conference bretheren VCU did some serious damage to their hopes by losing to Bradley at home. VCU doesn't have the non-conference resume that shots "at-large", so getting that win at home on Saturday would have been huge. But thanks to Jeremy Crouch (22 points) and Daniel Ruffin (19 points), a chance to add a solid non-conference win to their credentials escaped VCU.

Holy Cross and Hofstra got together on the Island and played an exciting game that was decided by Carlos Rivera in the end. The third memeber of the vaunted Hofstra attack (you don't hear his name as much as that of Loren Stokes and Antoine Agudio) knocked down two free throws with 1.7 seconds remaining, then blocked a Keith Simmons jump shot as time expired. Take nothing away from the Pride, but you have to wonder how this game would have gone had Holy Cross big man Tim Clifford not fouled out with nearly seven minutes left in the game. Both teams head back to conference play with hopes of winning an automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament. I like Holy Cross' chances in the Patriot League, especially if they can get the top seed, ensuring home court throughout the tournament.

While all this was going on with BracketBusters, two things happened in the NEC. 1. Fairleigh Dickinson knocked off Central Connecticut State 66-60, ending the Blue Devils' 12-game win streak. It was a tale of two half, with CCSU sprinting out to a 34-21 halftime lead. FDU, led by Cameron Tyler, outscored the Blue Devils 45-26 in the second half. Of course it's too late for anyone to catch CCSU atop the conference standings, but at least this game puts to rest the idea that CCSU would go unchallenged for the league's automatic bid. They'll have home court throughout, but FDU moved within one game of Quinnipiac for second place, and that position would guarantee two home games. Next week is the end of the regular season for that conference, so we'll see what happens there.

Happening #2 in the NEC: St. Francis (NY) 102, Robert Morris 97 in double overtime. After their disappointing effort at St. Francis (PA) on Thursday, you'd have a hard time convincing me that the Terriers would be able to knock off the Colonials, but behind Jamaal Womack's 31 points SFNY got it done. It's probably too late for the Terriers to get to eighth place in the NEC (only the top eight qualify for the conference tournament), but they look a lot better than they did last season. Look for SFNY to make a move in 2007-08.

Lastly, Dwight Howard was robbed. If height is going to be the determining factor in how the judges view a dunk then they should put a height limit in the rules. If I were a talented big man in the NBA like Howard, I'd most likely sit out the dunk contest at this point. Good night. And Charles Barkley has a little gas left in the tank, but I'm not so sure about Michael Cooper.