It may feel like it was only yesterday when college basketball fans were excited about the prospect of playing a game on an aircraft carrier, but the most important time of the season is here. Championship "Week" ("Fortnight" sounds more appropriate) begins on Monday, February 27th and won't end until Selection Sunday on March 11th.
In the latest installment in his "Coaching Greats" interview series CHN writer spoke with two players of late Drake head coach Maury John, Dolph Pulliam and Dan Callahan. During his time at Drake, John won 211 games and led the Bulldogs to four conference titles, three NCAA appearances and a Final Four as well.
Jon Teitel: Coach John was known for his "belly-button" defense (man-to-man defense with an emphasis on total ball denial and weak-side help). How did he come up with that?
In the latest installment of his "Coaching Greats" series CHN writer Jon Teitel spent some time with Jay Spoonhour, the son of the late Charlie Spoonhour. Spoonhour is widely regarded as the greatest coach in the history of Missouri State basketball, where he led the Bears to four conference titles and five NCAA tournament appearances. Spoonhour moved on to Saint Louis and UNLV, and he was an outstanding coach at the junior college level as well. Spoonhour passed away on February 1st at the age of 72.
With the final month of the regular season on our door step, this is a good time to put together some all-conference teams. Enter CHN writer Jon Teitel, who not only picked his all-conference teams for each league but also provided a conference Player of the Year as well. Without further ado here are the all-conference teams, with the league POY in italics.
G Gerardo Suero (Albany)
G Darryl Partin (Boston University)
G Gerald McLemore (Maine)
F Chase Plummer (UMBC)
F Alasdair Fraser (Maine)
It looks as if the schedule-makers in the Mountain West wanted to spark some serious national conversation about the conference from the beginning of league play because the first full week of play will feature all three expected contenders facing each other. Wednesday's slate features #16 San Diego State (15-2, 1-0), fresh off of their two-point win over UNLV, visiting The Pit to take on a New Mexico (15-2, 1-0) squad that's quietly won thirteen in a row.
The matchup between Ohio State and Illinois was anticipated by many for the individual matchup between the Buckeyes' Jared Sullinger and Illinois' Meyers Leonard. Then there was the ceremony honoring Lou Henson, the all-time winningest coach in Illinois history. But few people expected Brandon Paul to end up being the center of attention, which is exactly what happened in the Fighting Illini's 79-74 win at Assembly Hall.
The game between Top 5 teams and in-state rivals Louisville and Kentucky was expected to be a high-intensity affair played at a good pace. Well thanks to the "third team" we got the intensity but not the pace, but by the end of the afternoon at Rupp Arena it was clear that Kentucky's 69-62 victory would be long remembered for the play of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. Kidd-Gilchrist, who has emerged as the leader of John Calipari's talented squad, stole the show with 24 point and 19 rebounds in leading Kentucky to their 44th straight home victory.
A lot of talk surrounding this week of games for the Louisville Cardinals centered on the importance of their game with in-state rival Kentucky on Saturday afternoon. And while that game is extremely important the Cardinals still had to attend to the business of their Big East opener. Thanks to career nights from both Markel Starks and Otto Porter however it was Georgetown that took care of business, handing the Cardinals their first loss of the season by the final score of 71-68.