Steve and I talk about the final “meaningless” rankings: How in the heck is Florida State No. 4? Which teams are still alive for a playoff spot? How will championship week play out? The podcast is packed with everything you’ll want to know before this weekend’s games. If you mention the show on Twitter or Facebook, or send me a question or comment via email, you’ll get a special shoutout on the next podcast.
I also want to share a couple of college basketball stories I’ve written. One is a feature on Manhattan coach Steve Masiello, which was published in the latest issue of Basketball Times. You probably remember his name from the résumé scandal last spring. I spoke to Masiello, his current and former players, several of the school’s administrators, and others outside of the program who are familiar with the situation to get an idea of how Manhattan went about taking him back and what it means for the school. The other story is much shorter, though it deals with tall players: Kentucky’s basketball team, which may be the tallest in college hoops history and can match up with any NBA team. It appeared in TheWall Street Journal last week.
Why is the Heisman Trophy essentially reserved for quarterbacks and running backs? My latest college football column attempts to answer that. I attended the press conference for the 2013 College Football Hall of Fame class, which included 1996 Heisman winner Danny Wuerffel, Orlando Pace, and Tedy Bruschi (pictured above), among others, and I spoke to them about the Heisman’s skill position bias.
I’ve been doing a lot of college basketball reporting as well, covering several games at Madison Square Garden for Newsday. I’ve also started a weekly column for CBS Local in which I profile a “Rising Star” in the sport (I’ve written the two from this season). Remember, this blog is home to most all of my freelance work. If you have any suggestions for my next “Rising Star,” or any other story ideas, send them my way. Even if it’s a local story that received little attention, I’d love to give it a bigger audience. Thanks for reading. Happy holidays.
In a battle between schools separated by the length of approximately 500 basketball courts, the Iona Gaels beat Manhattan last night to win the MAAC Tournament and earn the league’s automatic bid to the Big Dance. Iona coach Tim Cluess said after the game he would enjoy Selection Sunday a lot more this year—last season the Gaels got an at-large bid, but Cluess was a nervous wreck until Iona’s name was called.
You might think the Gaels are eager to redeem themselves on the sport’s biggest stage after their record-setting collapse in the play-in round against BYU last year, but they’re playing for something much more important: the memory of a fallen teammate. Mike Haynes, a Chicago recruit headed for Iona last fall, was shot dead in July. Iona’s players dedicated this season to his memory and have worn patches on their jerseys to honor him.
SPRINGFIELD, MA—Tony Bozzella and Brian Giorgis have shaken hands with each other 26 times after a basketball game. The two coaches arrived in the MAAC at the same time, in 2002; Bozzella at Iona and Giorgis at Marist. In the 26 post-game handshakes, four of which came after a MAAC Tournament game, Bozzella has always been the one doing the congratulating, Giorgis the consoling. Marist has won seven consecutive MAAC titles and 28 straight against Iona, with Giorgis owning a personal 26-game win streak against Bozzella. The two—who are, surprisingly, very good friends—will meet again in today’s women’s championship (noon, ESPNU).
You’d think Bozzella would want nothing to do with a guy who has dominated him over his 11-year Iona career, but that couldn’t be less true. Bozzella says Giorgis has been a great friend to him and his family. He considers him a mentor and says Giorgis, who owns an impressive collection of sports memorabilia, has been generous in giving some of his items to Bozzella’s kids. Continue reading MAAC Womens Final: Can Iona Upset Marist?→
Every year, in practically every conference, you’ll hear the phrase “wide open” in reference to the league tournament. Coaches say it out of respect to other teams; the media uses it as a hedge against their predictions; P.R. folks spit it out to generate hype. So bear with me when I tell you that this weekend’s Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference men’s basketball tournament is wide open.
But if it’s not true this season in this conference, it never will be. “The charm of our team is that we know we can lose to any team,” Joe Mihalich said during Monday’s conference call with the media. Mihalich is the coach of Niagara, the league’s No. 1 seed. Held at the MassMutualCenter, a neutral site in Springfield, Mass., nearly every team has a reasonable shot at the title. Continue reading 2013 MAAC Basketball Tournament Preview→
Stanley Hill looked around the Hynes Athletics Center and smiled. On the visitor’s bench was Fairfield University’s men’s basketball coach Sydney Johnson. At the scorer’s table was Iona College athletics director Eugene Marshall, Jr. Both men are black. The Iona and Fairfield rosters, like so many others, are filled with black student-athletes. Hill, more so than most, notices. A lot has changed since he played college basketball.
Springfield, MA—Iona led Fairfield by six midway through the second half of Sunday’s MAAC Tournament semifinal when the Gaels’ Scott Machado attempted a three-pointer. Iona had just forced a turnover and Machado was open on the wing. He missed, just barely, and Fairfield’s three-pointer on the ensuing possession started a 16-1 run that propelled the Stags to an 85-75 victory. A basketball game—and a chance at the NCAA Tournament—can change that quickly.
By losing in its conference tournament and therefore failing to secure an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, this is Iona’s predicament. But it’s also Drexel’s. It’s Middle Tennessee’s. It could be Long Beach State’s. If college football is split between the Haves and Have-Nots, college basketball gives us the Haves and the Have They Done Enough? Continue reading Will Iona Get an NCAA Tournament Bid?→