Saturday, March 14, 2009

A couple of things from this week

It is going to be a busy week on the show with the NCAA tournament starting next week. That is pretty much going to dominate the talk at the bar (as it should).

There are a few things that have happened this week that we may not get to that I wanted to comment on. One story that has not gotten much coverage is a situation that happened this week in the America East Conference.

Voting for all-conference can be tough. I have done it for seven years and there are always varying opinions on who should make first team and who is the player of the year. Most of the voters only see a player in action once or twice in a season and have to make a determination at the end of the year of who are the most deserving 15 players.

It can be a difficult process and there is always going to be someone left out. It is the nature of the beast. But what happened in the America East Conference this week is inexcusable. Binghamton won the regular season and guard D.J. Rivera led the league in scoring. He was also top 10 in rebounding, but when the all-conference list was announced, he was not player of the year.

The problem with this story is that he also was not named to the first team. Rivera, along with a teammate were both second team selections. Apparently, Rivera was denied the honor by a group of coaches in the league as a protest to an NCAA decision to allow Rivera to play after transferring from St. Joseph's without sitting the required season for moving from one Division I university to another. Rivera was granted a hardship waiver from the NCAA and was allowed to play this season.

The most unbelievable part of this story is the conference office is not only confirming the coaches voted with an agenda, but is also condoning it. Conference commissioner Patrick Nero said "It wasn’t a protest toward the kid at all. It was a protest toward the NCAA in allowing him to be eligible. It’s unfortunate, I don’t think it’s right. It’s unfair to the young man. He didn’t do anything wrong."

Nero should be ashamed of his comments. This should have never been made public. If Nero had any sense what-so-ever, he would have taken care of this internally. The coaches who left Rivera off should have had their ballots thrown out and never counted toward the final vote total. Rivera may still have not been the player of the year, but my guess is he would have been a first team selection where he belonged.

Binghamton and Rivera got their revenge, winning the America East Conference Tournament to grab a spot in next week's dance. Rivera fittingly was named tournament MVP.

I stayed up for all 6 OT's

When I got home from Katy on Thursday, I wasn't planning on watching much basketball. After seeing the Kats knocked out in the first round, I just wasn't up to it. But the Big East Tournament game between Syracuse and UConn was on and I have always been a Husky fan so I turned the game on to watch the second half. Little did I know that would turn out to be a three hour commitment.

I was texting a few people at the end of regulation after they declared Eric Devendorf's 3 to win the game had come as the final horn was sounding. Syracuse seemingly had a victory and it was taken from them. A few people wanted to see the game end that way, but I was glad it was going to OT. I am a sucker for drama and overtime always brings drama.

Midway through the second overtime I sent out a text saying they might as well play 5 OTs. And then the fourth OT came and went and I really couldn't believe I was watching a game go to the fifth. In the fifth OT I didn't think either team was going to score. Both teams were gassed. Syracuse resorted to playing a walk-on who had a total of 60 minutes all season.

After the fifth overtime ended, I didn't see any foreseeable way either team was going to win. It was a tournament, so someone was going to have to move one. Even though I was rooting for UConn to win, I wasn't upset when Syracuse sealed the deal in the sixth and final OT.

It was fun to watch those guys lay it on the line for 70 minutes of basketball. They were still diving on the floor and running and gunning even though you could see the guys who had been out there the whole time had nothing left.

I still think UConn is a No. 1 seed. Despite the loss in the first round, I think they showed enough in that game they deserve a spot on the top line of the bracket. Amazingly Syracuse knocked off West Virginia the next night in overtime once again, and then pushed Louisville to the brink. I always like Syracuse in the NCAA tournament. Jim Boeheim is one of the best coaches in college basketball and he always finds a way to win. I just have to wonder how much this run in the Big East Tournament will affect them in next week's Big Dance.

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