The Daily Word: Feb. 21-Feb. 25


More Daily Words: Feb. 14-Feb. 18

One game not enough for Chaney
Friday, February 25
The message from Saint Joseph's assistant athletic director Marie Wozniak was that head coach Phil Martelli was too upset to return a phone call.

His senior forward, John Bryant, was possibly out for the season with a fractured arm, a direct result of a premeditated foul by Temple's Nehemiah Ingram on Tuesday night.

Bryant's senior season, his career and possibly Saint Joseph's NCAA Tournament hopes could be over.

Temple coach John Chaney, the Hall of Fame coach and Philadelphia institution, ordered Ingram to be a "goon" in the game because he was upset about illegal screens by the Hawks in their previous meeting this season.

Ingram fouled out in four minutes. Chaney apologized Wednesday for his actions and suspended himself for Saturday's game against Massachusetts.

Temple and the Atlantic 10 should take it a step further. They should suspend Chaney for the rest of the season and possibly ask for his resignation. This was an egregious act. It was ugly on tape when Bryant was thrown to the court. It's even worse knowing that a player's season and career and a team's postseason plight are directly affected by a premeditated act.

Ingram should be gone, too. According to Temple, Ingram was going to be allowed to play the rest of the season. If Atlantic 10 commissioner Linda Bruno had any power, she would suspend Ingram and lean hard on Temple athletic director Bill Bradshaw to take more action against Chaney.

Bradshaw told ESPN.com that Chaney was genuinely apologetic Wednesday. Fine. But the situation got worse Thursday after Bryant's MRI results. Chaney is one of the game's great coaches, worthy of his Hall of Fame induction, but his actions Tuesday night were deplorable. Ingram just followed orders.

Suspending Chaney won't be a popular decision, but something more has to be done now that Bryant's career is over. He was the innocent victim here. The stain of this incident unfortunately will cast a shadow over Chaney's illustrious career.

Vermont to name a coach by this weekend?
Lost amid the good vibes flowing Thursday night in Burlington was that assistant coach Jesse Agel was told this week that he won't be replacing Tom Brennan after 17 years as his assistant.

Agel kept a low profile throughout Thursday, trying to celebrate with the rest of the squad and staff, but understandably ruffled by the ongoing events.

Sources say the Catamounts could name Maryland assistant and former Catholic University coach Mike Lonergan their new head coach by the end of the weekend.

Committee talks RPI
Thursday, February 24
In November, we were told the RPI doesn't mean much and were discouraged from even using it in any of our on-air discussions or in the written form.

Yet, the RPI dominated three-fourths of the first conference call with NCAA Tournament selection committee chair Bob Bowlsby of Iowa.

Bowlsby said the RPI hasn't outgrown its usefulness yet and did discuss the new weighted system that gives more emphasis to road wins.

But remember, this isn't supposed to mean much.

"We use it as a point of reference," Bowlsby said during a Wednesday teleconference. "It's a tool and it's filling its role nicely."

These news conferences are so redundant. You can replace the name of the selection committee chair and the answers are always the same. Media members will toss out certain situations with schools, offering up scenarios with various bubble teams, and the committee chair will take the party line that he can't discuss individual cases.

But Bowlsby did say that, at some level, they would actually look at a team (whether it's for selection or seeding) and see whether that team passes the eye test.

"A team might not have as good a number as another team but we'll ask if you'd want to draw this team in the tournament," Bowlsby said. "That's where the subjectivity comes in to play. We draw upon the former coaches and staff. When it gets tight, sometimes someone will look at three teams and say this is the one that I don't want to play."

And that's the one that would get picked.

This is the kind of stuff that really determines whether or not an ACC team with an average record (Maryland) gets in over a mid-major with a gaudy record that doesn't win its conference tournament.

This is also a way in which the committee could push a team to a top line (say North Carolina) even if the numbers don't necessarily add up in the RPI.

Debut for Leibovitz
Temple assistant coach Dan Leibovitz, a Penn grad from '96, will make his coaching debut when he replaces Hall of Fame coach John Chaney for Saturday's game against UMass.

Chaney suspended himself for sending out a "goon" in the form of Nehemiah Ingram, who fouled out in four minutes Tuesday night against Saint Joseph's. One of his fouls sent the Hawks' John Bryant to the floor, landing on his hip and elbow.

Leibovitz has been the unsung member of the Owls' staff for years, doing the majority of the grunt work behind the scenes from scouting to individual workouts to personal appearances for the school.

Leibovitz isn't sure if Chaney will be at Saturday's game or in the locker room. Ingram will be allowed to play, according to Leibovitz.

Temple athletic director Bill Bradshaw said Temple's players still had to apologize to Saint Joseph's team after the incident.

"We still need to do more and mend our relationship with Saint Joe's," Bradshaw said.

Meanwhile, Saint Joseph's coach Phil Martelli said Bryant is doubtful for Saturday's game at Rhode Island, with an MRI on the right elbow pending.

Lost amid the controversy over Chaney's remarks and tactics was the Hawks' A-10 East title, their fifth straight. That's quite an accomplishment for a team that looked like it was a non-factor during the nonconference season, with a 3-8 record outside of the A-10.

But the Hawks have cruised through the conference with a 12-1 mark and are at least in the conversation for an at-large bid if they don't win the tournament.

"The story all day has been about (Temple) and not about what this team accomplished," Martelli said. "What this team accomplished needs to be the story."

Don't count out Holland
Terry Holland could still name himself to replace Bill Herrion at East Carolina. The ECU athletic director wanted coaching jobs in the last seven years, notably at Minnesota, so looking at taking his own gig isn't out of the question.

No pressure in Iowa City
Steve Alford and the Iowa coaching staff aren't feeling any heat from within the administration, according to a source close to the program.

Iowa felt great about a recruiting pickup by getting a commitment from Canadian guard Nathan Skinner. The Hawkeyes are likely headed to the NIT again, but return the core of their team next season.

Kentucky back to the early-morning hour
Kentucky coach Tubby Smith didn't think he would resort to 6 a.m. February practices with this team.

That was until the Wildcats lost to South Carolina on Tuesday night.

Thursday morning at 6 a.m., the 'Cats were going through shooting drills. They were scheduled for a practice later in the day, too.

The initial intent of previous February early-morning practice sessions was to get a handle on any nighttime activities as the postseason drew closer, according to spokesperson Scott Stricklin. But with this young team, that didn't seem to be an issue.
Now, it appears the early shooting is a bit more punitive for the substandard play Tuesday night.

POY candidates
Wednesday, February 23
ESPN.com will announce its player of the year and all-American teams next week, but the Wooden Award needs our ballot Wednesday.

The Wooden Award, which is one of the three major player of the year awards with the USBWA Oscar Robertson and Naismith Award, seems to get the most national play because of its television deal with CBS.

As a member of the national advisory board, here is my ballot that will be forwarded to the committee.

1. Andrew Bogut, So., Utah -- Averaging 20.4 points, 11.9 rebounds a game. Without him, the Utes wouldn't be 23-4, 11-1 in the Mountain West -- they would be somewhere near the bottom of the league. That's from Utah coach Ray Giacoletti. No player has been as dominant as Bogut nor meant as much.

2. J.J. Redick, Jr., Duke -- Few players have changed their game as much as Redick. He's averaging 23 points a game and shooting 42.4 percent on 3s.

3. Salim Stoudamire, Sr., Arizona -- Coach Lute Olson keeps talking about how proficient a shooter Stoudamire has become for the Wildcats. Stoudamire leads the team in scoring (18.6 ppg) and 3-point shooting (56 percent). There is no more need to politic.

4. Jared Dudley, So., Boston College -- Could end up being the Big East player of the year. He's the most versatile player in the league, averaging 16.5 points, 7.7 rebounds and 3.2 assists.

5. Chris Paul, So., Wake Forest -- Paul is the best playmaking guard in the country and the one who most coaches would pick to have the ball on the last possession. He's averaging 15.1 points, 6.8 assists and 2.4 steals a game.

6. Sean May, Jr., North Carolina -- May has been the most consistent player for the Tar Heels. He's averaging 15.5 points, 10.3 rebounds and gives the Tar Heels the necessary balance they need to compete for a national title. Raymond Felton, Rashad McCants have all had solid seasons but no one seems to be as important as May.

7. Dee Brown, Jr., Illinois -- Brown is the catalyst for this team, the one player who seems to make the big plays when their needed most. Brown is averaging 13.6 points, 4.8 assists and 2 steals a game.

8. Deron Williams, Jr., Illinois -- Williams has been the constant presence, keeping this team grounded in the backcourt with his 12.5 points and team-leading 6.8 assists a game.

9. Luther Head, Sr., Illinois -- Head gets his shots because of Brown and Williams and it's hard to leave out the team's leading scorer (16.5 points) on the country's only undefeated team.

10. Ike Diogu, Jr., Arizona State -- Few players have been as dominant at their position than Diogu, who is averaging 22.2 points and 9.7 rebounds. The problem is his team has been wildly inconsistent.

11. Craig Smith, Jr., Boston College -- BC coach Al Skinner is getting behind Smith's candidacy for player of the year and it's hard to argue with his 17.9 points and 8.7 rebounds a game. But opposing coaches may give the nod to Dudley.

12. Hakim Warrick, Sr., Syracuse -- Warrick had an off night against BC but otherwise he's been a rock with 20 points and 8.3 rebounds a game. The Orange still think he's the best player in the country.

13. Wayne Simien, Sr., Kansas -- The Jayhawks are in the midst of a three-game slide but Simien has still been their most stable performer with 18.6 points and 10.8 rebounds a game.

14. Francisco Garcia, Jr., Louisville -- Garcia makes big shots every time the Cardinals need one (see: recent Marquette game). He's been a solid contributor in every facet of the game with 16 points, 4 assists and 2 steals a game.

15. Joey Graham, Oklahoma State -- If the Cowboys beat Kansas and win the Big 12 then Graham will likely be the Big 12 player of the year. Graham is averaging 17.8 points, 6.7 rebounds and shooting 51.3 percent on 3s.

Coaching carousel
East Carolina started it off early with the announced firing of Bill Herrion.

San Jose State hasn't confirmed a Bay Area newspaper report but it has long since been expected that Phil Johnson will be out at the end of the season.

Siena could still send Rob Lanier packing and Virginia's Pete Gillen knows he could be gone, too.

The timing of the ECU firing was odd. Herrion has had a rough go in Conference USA, notably on the road, but the Pirates will be more competitive once the big boys in Conference USA like Cincinnati, Louisville, Marquette and DePaul exit for the Big East.

According to a source close to Herrion, he will finish the season. Ironically, Herrion could easily win his last three games against Southern Miss, Houston and at Tulane and finish on a high note. The Pirates won at UAB last week.

Don't be surprised if former Virginia coach and current athletic director Terry Holland goes back to his Virginia family tree and at least interviews former Virginia Tech and current South Carolina assistant Ricky Stokes.

If Siena does cut Lanier loose then the three assistants on a short list are expected to be Georgia Tech's Cliff Warren, Boston College's Bill Coen and Syracuse's Mike Hopkins.

Tulsa is actively searching for a head coach and the list keeps getting longer with former North Carolina coach Matt Doherty, Fresno State coach Ray Lopes, ESPN analyst Fran Fraschilla, Texas assistant Rodney Terry, Oral Roberts coach Scott Sutton, Oklahoma State assistant James Dickey and Oklahoma assistant Bob Hoffman.

Add interim USC coach Jim Saia's name to the New Mexico State coaching list that also includes Arizona State assistant Tony Benford, Dickey, current interim coach Tony Stubblefield, former Georgetown coach Craig Esherick, former SMU coach Mike Dement, former USC coach Henry Bibby, among others who are pursuing the job.

UConn's Anderson survives ordeal
Tuesday, February 22
Connecticut junior guard Rashad Anderson and coach Jim Calhoun told ESPN.com Monday night that Anderson should be back on the court for the season finale against Syracuse on March 5. If he's not ready then, he should return for the Big East tournament.

"Once I get my stitches out, then I should be fine," Anderson said. "I'd say I'm two weeks away. When I feel comfortable I'll be out there. I can run a bit now. I was on the treadmill at the hospital."

Anderson was released from Hartford Hospital on Monday and went straight to the Huskies' shootaround prior to Monday's game against Notre Dame.

"The best-case scenario is for the Syracuse game," Calhoun said. "Otherwise it will be for the Big East tournament."

Anderson said he's lucky to be alive. The wound on his right groin started as an infected hair that looked like a pimple. Anderson said he picked at it and didn't treat it properly, allowing the infection to spread.

Anderson, who spent nearly two weeks in the hospital after being admitted on Feb. 8, suffered kidney and breathing problems.

"When they cut my leg open, all the tissue in my groin was dead, black, and they had to cut it out," Anderson said. "I'm grateful to be alive. If I'd waited another day, I could be dead. I probably shouldn't have played against Syracuse [Feb. 7], because I irritated it and it grew to the size of a grapefruit.

"I've got to see the kidney doctors to make sure everything is fine before I can play," Anderson said.

Velma Anderson, Rashad's mother, said at one point her son asked for a tracheotomy.

"But he made the turn and I just told him to keep breathing," she said.

"That Friday [Feb. 11] was the worst day of my life," Anderson said. "My kidneys shut down, my lungs filled up with fluid and I was in and out of consciousness. All I was thinking about was my daughter and my family. I didn't care if I could ever play basketball again."

Anderson looked good but noticeably more slender Monday night.

Big East POY Should Be ...
The Big East player of the year should be ... Boston College sophomore Jared Dudley, according to Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun.

That's right, Dudley. Not his teammate, junior forward Craig Smith, or Syracuse forward Hakim Warrick. Coaches can't vote for their own players, but BC coach Al Skinner has already anointed Craig Smith as the candidate he's pushing.

That's the politically correct thing to do, since Smith is one class ahead of Dudley.

But Calhoun makes a strong case for Dudley. In 12 Big East conference games, Dudley is fourth in scoring (18.9 ppg in league games), third in rebounding (8.4 rpg), sixth in field-goal percentage (48.4), eighth in steals (1.67), 12th in free-throw percentage (75.6) and seventh in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.81).

"It's Dudley," Calhoun said after the Huskies' 88-74 win over Notre Dame on Monday night in Hartford. "Dudley is fourth in our league in scoring and third in rebounding. He's the Most Valuable Player on that team. If they win the Big East, then he should be the player of the year. If we win it, then I'll say who it should be."

Williams Thriving After Receiving Calhoun's Wrath
In Connecticut's win over Notre Dame, sophomore point guard Marcus Williams was one rebound shy of a triple-double: 17 points, 12 assists and nine rebounds.

Williams has been on a tear lately. He notched 26 points, 22 assists and only four turnovers in his previous two games (at Providence and at Rutgers) before Monday night's performance.

Williams, who leads the Big East in conference games with 8.1 assists, attributes his resurgence to Calhoun.

"He's been on me since the first day of practice," Williams said. "December was the low point after we lost to UMass. He was tough, always on my back about the turnovers, trying to make the home-run pass and the alley-oops."

"I was killing him," Calhoun said. "He was getting 51 percent of the criticism in practice, the rest of the team was getting the other 49. I knew he's as good a passer as I've had here. I pushed and pushed him. Whatever he did wasn't good enough. I've been unmerciful on him."

Williams didn't play in the second semester last season because he was academically ineligible. Yet Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said Williams plays with such familiarity with this year's team that it seems like he was on the championship squad.

"It's difficult to be a point guard for Jim because there is so much pressure on the point guard here," Connecticut assistant George Blaney said. "When he came here, he was a typical AAU player and [then he] missed all of those games."

Williams said he has become much more assertive.

"I've been on our players, on Charlie since day one to stay aggressive," Williams said. "What happened last year made me tougher and humbled me. I'm at the bottom trying to get to the top."

Notre Dame As The Hunted
The Irish are used to being the team that needs a big-time win to impress the NCAA selection committee. But that won't be the case when they host UCLA on Sunday.

The Irish seem to be secure this season, although coach Mike Brey isn't ready to declare his club an NCAA team just yet for fear of complacency. Notre Dame has wins over Boston College, Connecticut, Villanova, Georgetown and at Indiana.

But the Bruins — with an RPI of 38, a 14-9 overall record (8-7 in the Pac-10) and a 1-5 mark against the RPI Top 25 — desperately need a signature win.

"I'm going to turn it around for our guys and say we still need it," Brey said of his approach. "This would be a huge one to get. I hope it snows. It will be refreshing to see someone out of the league with a different style of play. I know this would be another good one for our resumé."

And even more so for the Bruins, who could use a marquee nonconference road win.

Big East Scheduling
The Big East expects to let the 16 teams for the 2005-06 season know who they will be playing in June after CBS and ESPN make their selections.

Dates and times wouldn't be set until over the summer, but the matchups will be dictated by television. So if CBS requests Louisville-Connecticut, you can expect ESPN will want the same game. That means those two teams would be matched up in a home-and-home series.

A number of these scenarios will occur. If both television partners want certain games, then those would likely be the home-and-home matchups. The Big East won't lock in primary-rival partners like the 12-team ACC does.

The Big East will play 16 games in 2005-06 and go through a two-year cycle with the schedule. Teams will play 10 teams once, three teams twice and two teams not at all.

Expect some games to happen naturally, like Louisville-Cincinnati and Marquette-DePaul.

The ACC sent out its schedule for the next three seasons but then abruptly withdrew it after it was released. The league needs to address equity issues before agreeing to the schedule.

Iowa State surging
Monday, February 21

Iowa State's season turned on a team meeting and a decision to emphasize defensive pressure and trapping.

The Cyclones, winners of seven straight after losing six straight, are one of the hottest teams in the country. Iowa State (15-8, 7-5 in the Big 12) knocked off Kansas and Texas on the road and beat Texas Tech and Oklahoma at home for its four signature wins during this streak.

How did this happen?

"We had a team meeting after we lost to Colorado at home," Iowa State guard Curtis Stinson said of loss No. 5 in the six-game losing skid. "We looked at each other and said we all had to practice harder."

There were a few other things, like ensuring that Jared Homan passed it more out of the post. But the main emphasis was on defense.

Look what has occurred in the past four wins:

  • Kansas scored 61 points, turned the ball over 18 times and Iowa State had 10 steals.

  • Kansas State committed 19 turnovers and scored only 42 points. Iowa State had nine steals.

  • Texas Tech scored 68 points, had 18 turnovers and Iowa State had 13 steals.

  • Nebraska scored 60 points, had 18 turnovers and Iowa State had 16 steals.

    "We're hungry and didn't want to keep on losing," Stinson said. "We know we have to play defense better."

    Iowa State assistant coach Damon Archibald said, "A lot of people wrote us off after our start, but our record was deceptive to how good we were."

    Oklahoma coach Kelvin Sampson wasn't one of them.

    "People don't understand how good those guards are," Sampson said.

    Iowa State could win out with two road games (at Texas A&M and Colorado) and two home games (Nebraska and Missouri).

    Why mess with a good thing?
    Oklahoma coach Kelvin Sampson said Sunday he didn't plan on putting point guard Drew Lavender back in the starting lineup.

    Lavender scored 29 points in 32 minutes off the bench, including the game-winner to beat Kansas State in Manhattan on Saturday.

    "Why mess with a good thing," Sampson said on ESPN's College Hoops Today Sunday afternoon.

    "It takes the pressure off of him," Sampson said. "He's more of a combo guard instead of a point guard, and this is better for him."

    We'll see if Sampson is true to his word and keeps Lavender coming off the bench Monday night against Kansas.

    Marquette's bubble status
    Marquette's chances to reach the NCAA Tournament depend on Travis Diener's shooting.

    If Diener shoots like he did against Louisville – 2-for-16 overall, 1-for-10 on 3s, for nine points in a 64-61 loss – the Eagles will be headed back to the NIT. If he shoots like he did against DePaul – 5-of-9 overall, 1-of-5 on 3s for 15 points – they have a chance. It would be nice for the Eagles if he could shoot like he did against East Carolina. He was off on 3s (3-of-12) but at least he got to the line for 10-of-12 free throws to help get to 31 points in a 71-69 road win.

    "I was extremely disappointed in myself after the Louisville game," Diener said. "I was missing layups."

    Diener is a realist when it comes to making the NCAA Tournament. He knows the Eagles can't let another game slip away like they did against Louisville. Francisco Garcia buried a 3-pointer in the final seconds to beat the Eagles in a game that Diener said they should have won.

    "We're still in good shape with an 18-8 record, and wins over DePaul and Wisconsin," Diener said.

    Both of those wins were at home, though, and the Eagles must improve on their 6-7 conference record. The game at Cincinnati on Thursday looms large, as do the final games against Houston and Saint Louis.

    Nevada not feeling too comfortable yet
    Nevada coach Mark Fox said he's not acting like he's in the field of 65 just because the Wolf Pack beat Vermont and are atop the WAC at 20-5 overall, 12-2 in league – two full games ahead of UTEP.

    Nevada has chances to slip up down the stretch. Following a home game against Tulsa on Monday, the Wolf Pack end the season with three straight on the road – at Fresno State, Hawaii and San Jose State – before the WAC tournament.

    Fox said his players were impressed by Vermont, hinting his team maybe didn't realize before tipoff how talented a few of the Catamounts were.

    Izzo wouldn't be surprised to see Illinois go down in the Big Ten tourney
    Michigan State coach Tom Izzo knows the stress of being the top team in the Big Ten and one of the best in the country. That's why he wouldn't be surprised if Illinois "were to wear down a bit," in Chicago at the Big Ten tournament.

    "Three games in three days can be tough on any team, and those guards play a lot of minutes," Izzo said of Dee Brown, Deron Williams and Luther Head.

    Izzo did agree, though, that the pressure could be off the Illini in Chicago since a No. 1 seed would be wrapped up by the tournament.

    Had to see it to believe it
    Ohio freshman Jeremy Fears hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer in the Bobcats' 66-65 win over Detroit Mercy on Saturday during Bracket Buster.

    Fears then apparently did a cartwheel and back flip.

    "The game wasn't televised, so you're going to have to believe me," Ohio coach Tim O'Shea said. "This would have been a SportsCenter top play. He was a gymnast when he was 14. It was a great show of youthful exuberance."

    "I've really never seen anything like it," O'Shea said.

    O'Shea said the team's tape of the game ends right after the shot, before the celebratory antics.

    ESPN.com senior writer Andy Katz brings the Daily Word five days a week to

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