Derek Piper and Jacob Southey doing the first ever Feel Da Paign radio show. Sorry it is on a video, the next one will be a podcast. It is a bit long but turn it on before you go to bed or whatever you gotta do. Hope you enjoy it.
Monthly Archives: March 2010
That’s the reaction I had when I saw that the News Gazette named Verdell Jones III the best basketball player of the decade in Central Illinois high school basketball. For those of you who keep up with Champaign area basketball, you should know what I’m talking about. The article and “award” was given out by the News Gazette’s Fred Kroner (see link above), but hey that doesn’t seem too surprising. ESPN has their east coast bias, and in case you don’t know, the News Gazette “loves them some Central.” Did they have to do this so that people didn’t forget “Champaign High School” even had a basketball team? Or are they really that ignorant? Okay enough bashing, let’s get down to some actual analysis.
As you can see, I would not take Verdell Jones as my player of the decade, so who am I taking? His name is Rayvonte Rice. You know, the guy that has helped lead his high school team, Centennial, to two straight state appearances and actually came away with a ring. Yeah, I’m talking about the player who broke the record for scoring in Champaign High School basketball history with 1,810 career points. Alright, now that the “should be” Mr. Basketball’s numbers are out there, let’s look at Verdell’s. The current Indiana guard finished his impressive high school career with 1,452 points and a third place finish in state. Now don’t get me wrong, Jones had a great career but the numbers don’t lie and neither does the jewelry. Rayvonte has a ring, Verdell does not. Verdell has good stats, Rayvonte has superior stats. Does anything else need to be said?
Well at least the article that was written provided reason for their selection right? Ehh, not so much. Sure they mentioned that he had over 600 assists in his career, but does anyone want to include how many rebounds Rice had? A 6’3 guard who grabbed close to 10 boards almost every night, I see your assists and raise you a rebounding machine. So what else do you got that puts Verdell over the top? “Well, he’s a two time All-Area first teamer.” Oh really, Rayvonte made it three times. Yet again proof that #24 for Centennial was a better player and a more deserving selection.
With all due respect to Verdell and the News Gazette, the wrong player was selected for this “award”, but don’t think it’s the only time Rayvonte will be passed up for an award by a less deserving player, just wait until Jereme Richmond is given Mr. Basketball. However, that’s an entirely different story but if you have had the privilege of living “down-state” and watching Rayvonte perform, you know there is no better player, not now in the state, and not in the past decade in Champaign, than Rayvonte Rice. There is no doubt about it.
What’s up everybody? Sorry we haven’t got a lot put up this week, just been enjoying Spring Break. The best tournament in the world is starting back up tonight with four very compelling games on the slate. As I have said before, there are probably many out there who have their brackets sitting out on the corner waiting for garbage pickup, but hey now you can just relax and enjoy great basketball. As for me, I will be half-heartedly rooting for Ohio State but won’t cry too much when/if they lose. Though it would be nice for a fellow Big Ten squad to show that the Midwest is in fact the best place for basketball in the country. On that note, the Big Ten does have the most teams in the Sweet Sixteen with three, but I guess the Pac 10 has one, so maybe that doesn’t mean too much. Now, let’s talk about the games coming up in the Sweet Sixteen…
Intriguing Game: Michigan State vs Northern Iowa. With Kalin Lucas sidelined with an injury to his Achilles, the Spartans will be hampered but as we saw against Maryland, they are far from crippled. Fellow starting guard Chris Allen, who has yet to play a tournament game due to injury, is making his way back and said he would be spending this past week around the clock in the training room in attempts to suit up on Friday. If Allen could get out there, Michigan State will be even stronger but they are very deep as it is and with Tom Izzo on the sideline, the Spartans will be a tough out without Lucas or Allen. As for Northern Iowa, they are coming from a whole different situation. While the Spartans are making their ninth Sweet Sixteen appearance in 13 years, Northern Iowa has not been there since 1964. The Panthers may not have experience up to this point, but they showed everyone around the country, they are not a team that people want to face right now. With Farokhanesh & Co stroking the threes, this team is very dangerous and I cannot wait to see how they matchup with a Lucas-less Spartan club.
Bold Prediction: Cornell will make John Calipari pull his hair out. Now, does this mean Cornell will beat the 2010 version of the Fab Five? Or maybe just take them down to the wire? Or maybe Big Red will be the ones to uncover the next recruiting violation on the coach who is more shady than a sleazy used-car salesman? I mean hey, with all the future lawyers on Cornell’s roster I’m sure they would be as likely as anyone to uncover such a mystery (sarcasm). However, I want to focus on the Big Red’s ability to win this game, which is very much alive. Cornell may not have tourney experience, but they do have basketball experience. With Ryan Wittman leading the way, Cornell starts four seniors who have a great deal of NCAA basketball under their belt. Also, remember that Kentucky doesn’t have much tourney experience either. John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins are freshman and have not been a part of March Madness before. Heck, if you go by the NCAA record books, Coach Calipari hasn’t done much in the tourney either in which his team was legal. With all this said, I really like Cornell in this one. I think their style of play will really bother Kentucky and if Cornell can come out fast like they did against Wisconsin, it will be nearly impossible for the Cats to come back with their woeful shooting behind the arc. Am I going to guarantee victory for Cornell? No, but I had Kentucky out to Wisconsin at this very spot, hopefully the Ivy Leaguers can do the job.
Side Note: If you haven’t heard already, Illinois lost to Dayton last night ending their season of disappointment. Though the Illini will not be playing in any more tourney action, why not look back at the times when they did. Here is a video from the magical 2004-2005 season. The video quality is not great but what is on the video is for sure. So in case you need an Illini fill when watching the rest of March Madness, just watch this and you will feel much better.
Is anyone still wondering why this is considered the best sporting weekend of the year? With all of the great performances, down to the wire finishes, unbelievable upsets, and insane buzzer beaters, there without question, is no better sporting event than March Madness and the first weekend is always the best part. How can you not love Cinderella teams like Northern Iowa and Cornell who literally put everybody’s bracket through the paper shredder? Okay, maybe if you actually had money on Kansas then maybe the NIU upset wasn’t so awesome, but for the rest of the nation, it is what it goes by: Madness.
This first weekend was amazing. It was everything any college basketball fan could have asked for, as great basketball came sprinting out of the gate. Heck, two of the first four games went into overtime, with the other two ending with one point margins, including Murray State’s buzzer beater to knock off Vanderbilt. Now that this great weekend has past, let’s look at the best of the best from these tremendous games.
Best Game: Northern Iowa 69, Kansas 67. This was a very hard decision to make as there were a great deal of very deserving games: MSU-Maryland, BYU-Florida, Murray St-Vandy, but this game was the one that had me glued from start to finish. Though it was not as back and forth like many of the best games have, this game was intense and had everyone asking themselves, “can Northern Iowa really do this?” I found myself asking that same question, wondering if this was Cinderella in a purple and yellow dress. Though I didn’t know that answer at the time, what I did know was whoever this Farokhmanesh guy is, he can shoot the rock. And though NIU’s big man Jordan Eglseder looked like a young Greg Ostertag, he was doing a darn good job of matching up against Cole Aldridge. As the game wound down, the Panthers saw their 11 point lead with 10 minutes to go, get cut all the way down to 1 point with 42 seconds on the clock. I remember thinking, “well here is where the road ends and Kansas gets away” but that’s when Ali Farokhmanesh reminded me of what March Madness is all about. With the ball easily beyond the NBA arc, Mr. Clutch let it fly and just as the ball kissed the net, Kansas had to kiss their title hopes good bye. What a great game.
Best Finish: Michigan State 85, Maryland 83. With the Murray St-Vandy game a close second, this game had the craziest 40 seconds of basketball I have seen. After Maryland managed to climb all the way back from a 15 point second half deficit, Greavis Vasquez put the Terrapins on top by 81-80 with a bank off the glass. After a timeout by the Spartans, Draymond Green responded with a mid-range jumper with 22 seconds. Would that be enough to finish the game off? Not even close. Vasquez came right back down the court with one of his signature miraculous shots as he floated the ball through the hoop with only 7 ticks remaining. Michigan State had one more chance, that was almost ruined when Green threw a pass that nearly hit teammate Delvon Roe in the head, but the ball squeaked by and made it to Korie Lucious with a chance to win. Lucious, who was replacing the injured Kalin Lucas, did his best to fill Lucas’ shoes, and did so with a game winning triple that sent the Green & White into a freenzy, along with myself who could use any game to help my bracket now. This was also a very good game, and you know that if it ends with a dog pile, it must have had an amazing finish.
Best Individual Performance: Jimmer Fredette against Florida. When a player scores 37 points, with 10 of them being in the second OT, in a game where he single handedly led his team to victory, how could he not have had the best performance? Fredette was absolutely on fire, and that is an understatement. The world’s best player named Jimmer, shot 50 percent from the field and nailed two clutch 3’s in the double OT to finally pull away.
|5||Mark Piper||40||152||West Virginia|
|8||Jacob Southey||39||143||West Virginia|
|10||Derek Piper||36||140||Ohio State|
Derek Piper and Jacob Southey breaking down the East and South regions. Hosted by Chris Piper. Hope you enjoy it. Have your brackets turned in before the games start tomorrow.