First off, for day job-related reasons, I'm going to take a hiatus from ASoB until approximately early June.
Some of you may be thrilled. Others? Save the tears for when I die! Or email me.
Unfortunately, I have no rant for my short-term farewell post. I was working on a statistical comparison between John Calipari's UK teams and then discovered John Clay's work on the subject, from Wednesday, while searching for links yesterday. So...yeah, what John Clay said. I'll make it up to you with link commentary.
Also, Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers once saw a UFO.
UK HOOPS + NCAAWT SWEET SIXTEEN
*Matthew Mitchell's UK Hoops squad, the Lexington Region's #3 seed, takes on #7 Washington tonight at 7:00 p.m. EST on ESPN in the S16.
Here is Coach Mitchell's pregame press conference.
In her S16 Preview, ESPN's Mechelle Voepel focuses on Washington G Kelsey Plum and Makayla Epps' shoulder in the matchup.
Washington has played the giant killer once already in the Tournament, according to SI's Richard Deitsch, beating #2 Maryland earlier in the week by 9 in College Park. Maryland was apparently a presumptive Final Four favorite.
*Considering the number of upsets this NCAAT produced in the first two rounds, last night was fairly uneventful.
Every 1 and 2 seed in action won easily, by a margin of at least 14 points and Villanova blew Miami out by 23.
KU's Perry Ellis, Oregon's Dillon Brooks, Villanova's Kris Jenkins, and Oklahoma's Jordan Woodard were the stars of the night. Ellis poured in 27 points and the other three sunk at least 4 3s. Jenkins grabbed 9 rebounds, as well.
*Below is the schedule for tomorrow's Sweet Sixteen games. The links are to various game previews.
From a pure basketball matchup perspective, I'll be paying a lot more attention to these games than I did to last night's.
The crown jewel of the S16, for me at least, is the late tilt between UNC and IU.
No. 1 Virginia vs. No. 4 Iowa State (7:10 p.m. EST, CBS)
No. 6 Notre Dame vs. No. 7 Wisconsin (7:27 p.m., TBS)
No. 10 Syracuse vs. No. 11 Gonzaga (9:40 p.m., CBS)
No. 1 North Carolina vs. No. 5 Indiana (9:57 p.m., TBS)
*What was the number one movie and song the last time each S16 team made the Final Four? Andrew Doughty answers.
*Human beings are incapable of grasping the gargantuan odds of a perfect bracket, which is 1 in 9.2 quintillion.
How about this for context?
"If you had one cat for all the possible bracket combinations and piled them up, it would form a mass one-seventeenth the size of the largest thing in the asteroid belt, and something like 1.5 times the mass of a moon of Saturn that is rounded into a sphere shape by its own gravitation. However, some of the cats could get hurt! Don't try this!"
I hate cats. I only like baby cats.
*Eamonn Brennan's Wooden Award Watch has Buddy Hield at the top and does not even include Tyler Ulis.
With Denzel Valentine back in East Lansing after a terrible first round loss to MTSU, the award is Hield's to win. He strengthens his case with each NCAAT victory, as the Sooners are now headed to the Elite 8. And you have to believe that they'll be favored over Oregon tomorrow.
*Matt Giles at FiveThirtyEight examines how the NBA's Golden State Warriors' success with shorter lineups has catalyzed a big school small ball fervor among a number of NCAAB programs.
Also, you have to read anything that mentions Manhattan-era Heshimu Evans, who was a vital component of the 2008 UK Championship team's bench, as this piece does.
*Memphis is reviewing a potential conflict of interest involving coach John Pastner and AD Tom Bowen that centers on who the individuals' agent(s) was/were at the time that Pastner's 2013 contract extension was negotiated.
*Dayton has extended coach Archie Miller's contract through the '22-'23 season.
*Despite the 'Cats' early exit, Tyler Ulis' draft stock is trending upward due to his NCAAT performance, according to SI's Jeremy Woo.
*By now, you've read John Calipari's feather-ruffling tweets, announcing that all of UK's draft-eligible underclassmen will be taking advantage of the NCAA's new NBA Draft rules and "testing the NBA Draft waters."
Well, Calipari surely isn't the only coach who feels this way, but he's the only coach whose comments you're going to hear about.
For instance, Washington State coach Ernie Kent:
"I think every underclassman in the country should throw their name into the draft and I think it's going to be that way."
Though I don't think every underclassmen will take advantage of the rule, I think the "no agent" list below will almost certainly reach at least 125 prospects.
For a juxtaposition of the old and new rules, check out DraftExpress' Jonathan Givony's great writeup from yesterday. The piece also addresses what the new rules mean for the sport.
*Underclassmen Declarations Roundup
These are in addition to UK's underclassmen who are 19 years old (which leaves out Isaac Humphries and Tai Wynyard). None of the UK underclassmen have hired an agent.
The links are to stories on the prospect's declaration.
*By the way, below are notable national takes on Calipari's tweets, offered without comment, except that, surprise (!), they are mostly negative.
Kevin Draper at Deadspin offers a less harsh take than the site usually does on Calipari and "one-and-done" in general:
"John Calipari has a well-honed ability to combine the self-serving with speaking a limited form of truth to power, to pair his selfish interests with his players' (or potential players'). It's a big part of why he has been a successful basketball coach (and even more successful recruiter)."
Ryan Phillips at USA Today considers the tweets a self-serving swipe at the NCAA:
"This makes Calipari look really petty. He can't allow the spotlight to shine anywhere else for more than a few days, he constantly has to bring it back to himself. It's another example of him exploiting the one-and-done rule and more proof that the system needs to be reformed."
Jonathan Lehman at the New York Post says that, in trying to make a point, Cal is putting the walk-ons in an impossible position:
"Nothing like proving a point about new draft regulations to the NCAA overlords, at the expense of his most devoted scrubs, who have no chance of making the pros. And Calipari likes the rules!"
For what it's worth, I love the move.
*For all the advanced stat heads, Liberty Ballers commenter zigzagil ranked a number of 2016 prospects according to their respective abilities to get to the rim. Unassisted field goals at the rim, in other words. Tyler Ulis, Jamal Murray, and Isaiah Briscoe are included in the analysis.
Anticipating the inevitable "advanced stats are dumb (unless they say what I want them to say)" comment, I'm just reminding everyone that no stat (advanced or otherwise) is authoritative, but stats do tell us something, and they have value as long as you keep things in perspective. And these type of advanced numbers mean something to the NBA (see below).
As you can see, Briscoe is near the top of the group and Murray and Ulis find themselves at the bottom.
As zigzag observes:
"Ulis being unable to get to the rim effectively in the half court will separate him from the likes of Isaiah Thomas, while Murray appears not to have the athleticism to get clean separation in the half court."
This statistic tends to illuminate the one glaring hole that I see in Ulis' pro potential, and it has to do with his size, unfortunately, along with some athleticism-related limitations.
Ulis, a PG who will be entering a NBA landscape that requires its PGs to score, is very likely going to have trouble scoring over/around tall, long and athletic PGs like Russell Westbrook and John Wall, especially at the rim.
I'm also glad that zigzag reminds us that, of the few things that Ulis and Thomas share in common, paramount is their height. Which has nothing to do with athleticism, skill or ability. Let me just say...I'm 5'9'' too.
Murray's lack of athleticism has been discussed here and elsewhere before, so we do not need to revisit it, although I will say that I don't think a lower number in this stat diminishes Murray's stock.
Murray (41%, which was brought down by early season inconsistency that he overcame), unlike Ulis (34%), projects as a perimeter shooter who excels at getting separation in order to catch and shoot.
NBA defenders likely will not respect Ulis' long range shot, so he'll be forced to penetrate if he wants to score. That observation, paired with the above stat, does not bode well for Ulis' NBA prospects on the offensive end, at least with respect to scoring.
That said, as you'll see below, I hope that my Sixers draft him.
You may not like this stat, but NBA teams use numbers like this (definitely click that link), in combination with scouts' opinions, when making personnel decisions. It's just the reality of the contemporary NBA.
*If former 'Cat James Young is going to make it in the NBA, it probably won't be with Boston, according to Fansided's Eric Laboissonniere.
*Speaking of the Celtics, SI writer (and former Grantlander) Andrew Sharp spent three days with very intimate access to the team and wrote about it.
Here are the "outtakes" from that tremendous piece, which are just as entertaining and informative as anything in the original piece.
*The losing in Philadelphia is starting to wear on Nerlens Noel.
Not to worry, Nerls -- the Sixers definitely have three first rounders in the upcoming Draft (hello Brandon Ingram, Marquese Chriss and Tyler Ulis!), could have four if the Lakers stop tanking or the lottery ping pong balls fall advantageously, own a pick swap with the Kings if the lottery gods are unkind, Joel Embiid's foot is healing and 2014 first rounder, Euro sensation Dario Saric, is set to come stateside this summer.
*The fourth quarter radio broadcast of Wilt Chamberlain's 100 point game in 1962 has been added to the Library of Congress' National Recording Registry.
Also added was Metallica's Master of Puppets. If they were going to include a Metallica record, I'm glad they landed on a Cliff Burton-era one. To me, it's not Metallica without Cliff Burton. R.I.P. fourth-favorite favorite bass player ever.
*In D League news, Russ Smith broke the organization's single-game scoring record on Wednesday night, with 65 points (on a whopping 42 shots).
Perhaps most importantly for his NBA prospects, the dude, a career 32% shooter in the NBA, shot over 50%.
Even before this monster game, Smith was #1 in the most recent weekly D League Prospect Watch.
There are several other UK nemeses on the list, including Jarnell Stokes (Tennessee), Jabari Brown (Mizzou), Quinn Cook (Duke), Keith Appling (Michigan State), Terrico White (Ole Miss), Phil Pressey (Mizzou), and Andre Dawkins (Duke). Former Memphis standout (and Cal favorite) Chris Douglas-Roberts is also included.
*Alabama coach Nick Saban has been selected by Fortune Magazine as one of the world's 50 greatest leaders.
*South Carolina QB Lorenzo Nuñez, one of several guys vying for the Gamecocks' starting QB position in 2016, suffered a knee injury and will likely be sidelined for the remainder of spring.
Also, coach Will Muschamp scored a victory on the recruiting trail at the position yesterday, securing 4* QB Jake Bentley for the 2017 class. Bentley's father is on Muschamp's staff.
*Michigan's new AD is open to renewing the UM-Notre Dame rivalry.
*Colin Becht ranks the best Jim Harbaugh Twitter feuds of 2016 so far.
I still don't know what it means, but the "they said" tweet is tops in this bunch.
*Steve Spurrier will be honored at Tennessee's Spring Game and here is why.
*Two 2016 Auburn signees have been diagnosed with forms of cancer, but both have positive prognoses and Auburn is standing behind them during their respective battles with the despicable disease.
*Yesterday's sports bomb was dropped by the New York Times and revolved around the flawed concussion research the NFL has used, along with other troubling developments.
Here are the Cliff's Notes from Will Brinson at CBS Sports.
*According to the San Jose Mercury News, the NFL's political action committee, Gridiron, has contributed to the campaigns of 80%+ of the United States congressmen who are conducting hearings on concussion research.
*Former NFL Safety (now ESPN writer) Matt Bowen sat down with current free agent G Geoff Schwartz to discuss what it's like to be unsigned after most of the free agent money has been spent by NFL teams.
*In another piece addressing the business side of the league, Andrew Brandt examines the circumstances and context surrounding T Russell Okung's recent self-negotiated deal with the Denver Broncos which included zero guaranteed money at signing.
*Can you believe HBO's "Hard Knocks" has been around for a decade now? Here are its top moments and, if you didn't know, the upcoming season will feature the recently relocated Los Angeles Rams.
*Fabio Bertoni considers the possible effect on publishers if Hulk Hogan's multi-million dollar verdict over Gawker Media stands for The New Yorker. It's an intelligent rundown of the case itself, as well.
*In a variety of ways, urban parks are bringing people closer to nature, posits National Geographic Magazine's Ken Otterbourg.
*Forget Batman V Superman. How about Batman V Insane and Obnoxious Ohio State Fans? Funny stuff from SB Nation's EDSBS. Hat tip to Nick W. for sending this my way.
See you in a few months. In the meantime, keep it crunk, but keep it positive.