Sunday, February 27, 2011

SEC Basketball Power Poll For Week Ending Feb 27

At this point I see 3 NCAA Tournament locks (UF, Vandy, UK), 2 Very Likely (UGA, Tennessee), 1 Bubble Falling In (Alabama), 0 Bubble Falling Out

1. Florida
Gators six game winning streak snapped at Kentucky but still hold my top spot.

2. Vanderbilt
Commodores take out Tennessee frustrations against LSU.

3. Kentucky
Kentucky still has not lost a home game this year and that is good because Vandy coming to town this week.

4. Georgia
Bulldogs fans soothe their frustrations of not being able to beat Florida by beating a different neighbor, South Carolina.

5. Alabama
Tide suffered a bubble placing loss at Ole Miss. Need at least one win this week against Florida or Georgia.

6. Tennessee
Did the Volunteers self imposed penalties include losing to Miss State at home?

7. Arkansas
Razorbacks win two squeakers to improve chances of landing a top NIT seed.

8. Miss State
Renardo Sidney is averaging 7.4 rebounds solely on Golden Corral meals.

9. Ole Miss
Where would Ole Miss be without Chris Warren?

10. South Carolina
South Carolina was the first state to secede the Union. Maybe they can secede the East and join the West Division?

11. LSU
Clash of the Titans March 5: LSU vs Auburn.

12. Auburn
How hard did Tony Barbee work on getting Cam Newton, Nick Flair to play basketball for him this season? Obviously not hard enough.

NFL Combine Stories: Why Players Should Be Required To Wear Shirts

"Alabama OT Andre Smith was regarded as one of the best linemen before the 2009 combine. But Smith raised doubts when he showed up weighing a staggering 332 pounds. His decision to run the 40-yard-dash shirtless was just as bad as his time of 5.28. To top it off, he decided to leave the combine early without informing the NFL. The Bengals still took a chance on Smith with the sixth overall pick but he has had a disappointing first two seasons."
Can't bang too much on Smith...still gettin' paid...alot

Rest of Combine stories slideshow here at SI.com including Tim Tebow (38.5" vertical), Darius Heyward-Bey (4.30 40), and Calvin Johnson (4.35 40 at 239 lbs) among others.

Alabama's Mark Ingram Still Has The Heisman Shine At The NFL Combine

Kinda looks like he is covered in glitter.

SEC, ACC Lead Invitees To NFL Combine

SEC tops list of all conferences with 53 invitees. Not too far behind is the ACC at 50, nine more than the next conference the Big 10 at 41.

The SEC's prowess on the football field is well documented, but the big question why hasn't the elite talent in the ACC translated to more team success? Dennis Dodd of CBSSports.com pondered this..

Since 2000, the SEC has sent 449 players to the NFL. The ACC is a surprising second with 393. The Big Ten is third with 385. The SEC has the added advantage of having 12 teams. The Big Ten has 11 members. Until 2004, the ACC was a nine-team league. 

From 2006-2009, the SEC beat the ACC by exactly one draft pick, 149-148. In that same span, the ACC led the country with 30 first-round choices. Among them: Boston College quarterback Matt Ryan (Atlanta, third overall, 2008); Virginia defensive lineman Chris Long (St. Louis, second overall, 2008); Georgia Tech receiver Calvin Johnson (Detroit, second overall, 2007) and North Carolina State defensive end Mario Williams (Houston, first overall, 2006).
Watch the NFL Combine Live here

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Georgia Tech Writer Matt Winklejohn Discusses Lack of Attendance at Georgia Tech Basketball Games

Georgia Sports Talk did an interview with former AJC writer and current contributor to Georgia Tech's Official Website Matt Winklejohn discussing the Yellow Jackets' Basketball Program.

Winklejohn discusses Paul Hewitt's contract and how important the date of March 16 is and how much the lack of attendance means (as I have been discussing since the UGA game)

He also discusses what happened to Georgia Tech's football team in 2010 and how the lack of chemistry may have contributed to the lack of success.  Winklejohn talks about the departure of Kyle Jackson and how many more Tech fans can expect to see leave before fall practice starts.
Click HERE if media player is not working

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

SEC Basketball Round Table Q&A

The SEC Basketball Power Poll has decided to do a round table as we wind down the regular season. Below are my answers. The results will be compiled and posted next week.

1. What teams are locks, probables and bubble teams for the NCAA tournament? Why?
Locks: Kentucky mostly because they are Kentucky; Florida because they will likely win the much tougher East Division; Alabama because they will have at least 20 wins; Vanderbilt because they will be above .500 in the better than given credit for East Division

Probables: Georgia because of their play against top competition like Notre Dame, Temple, and Xavier as well as wins against Kentucky and Tennessee; Tennessee simply because of the tough schedule they have played and a road win at Pitt

Bubble: None

2. What is your story of the year for the conference?
The story of the year is how bad the West Division is. Sorry to be negative, but the West has two very bad teams that could go down as two of the worst ever in LSU and Auburn. The West is symbol of the fall of college basketball - the teams are not good and nobody seems to really care.

3. Who is your player of the year? Why?
My player of the year is Vanderbilt's John Jenkins averaging nearly 20 points per game. Jenkins is second in the conference in free throw shooting and sixth in three point shooting at 41.5%. My runner up is Ole Miss' Chris Warren.

4. Who is the coach of the year? Why?
My coach of the year is Anthony Grant. He has taken care of business in the West and been very competitive against the East too in just his second season. He has made Alabama Basketball relevant again which makes Nick Saban happy too because it gives him another recruiting tool as we saw this past weekend.

5. What SEC team will go furthest in the NCAA tournament? In one of the other post season tourneys?
I think Florida will go the furthest because they are the best team and they have a coach with proven NCAA Tournament success. I don't see Kentucky going very far (i.e. past Sweet 16) considering how they only got to the Elite 8 last year and the talent is far less this season.

Miss State has a chance to go far in the NIT if they can get Renardo Sidney to start playing hard...nevermind, I don't see anybody else winning the NIT.

Bonus question: Does any team not currently in your NCAA tournament discussion have a team that could win the SEC tournament?
I could see Mississippi State winning the SEC Tournament because of the talent level they have and past success in the SEC Tournament.

Georgia Tech Basketball Attendance Watch: Yellow Jackets Lose 7th Straight ACC Game

Paul Hewitt's Georgia Tech team fell to 3-10 in the ACC after a 62-56 home loss to Virginia Wednesday night.

The announced attendance was 5,537 though the actual attendance was probably around 4,500 having actually attended the game myself (due to tickets being half price and a coworker who is an Illinois grad desperately wanted to see a college basketball game).

At two minutes before tip off the 9,191 Alexander Memorial Coliseum was maybe 1/4 full. By the second TV timeout it had filled to about half full.

With 3,654 empty seats at roughly $35 per ticket, Georgia Tech missed out on roughly $127,890 in ticket revenue alone. This number could easily be doubled when you count in parking, concessions, merchandise, and license fees.

This brings the season total in lost ticket revenue to $895,005.

Other sights at the game included AJC Mark Bradley leaving press row with five minutes to in the first half and never returning. I assume he was leaving to write his weekly "I hate Paul Hewitt" column (actually he left to write an article on the Atlanta Hawks trade). 

Former Atlanta Hawks GM Billy Knight was also present but seemed disinterested most of the time. And some guy seated next to Knight with no papers or computer in front room mostly texting on his blackberry all night.

On to the actual game that Georgia Tech led for the first 35 minutes until UVA coach Tony Bennett pulled a fast one by switching to a zone defense for the final five thoroughly befuddling the Tech offense who went ice cold for three minutes while the Cavaliers built a lead to nine points.

I am not sure why every coach does not play zone against the Yellow Jackets as Paul Hewitt's team: A) has no idea how to attack a zone defense B) has nobody who can consistently hit an outside shot. Maybe Bennett was planning to keep it close and spring the trap late. If so, he executed it perfectly.

Running total of lost ticket sales revenue:
UGA $86,310 lost without a full arena
Sav. St $24,195 lost without 75% full arena
Mercer $15,980 lost without 75% full arena
Charlotte $22,500 lost without 75% full arena
UNC $37,310 lost without a full arena
Wake Forest $109,515 lost without a full arena
Va Tech $118,895 lost without a full arena
Maryland $102,690 lost without a full arena
Clemson $104,020 lost without a full arena
Florida St $115,115 lost without a full arena
Chattanooga $30,585 lost without a 75% full arena
Virginia $127,890 lost without a full arena
TOTAL $895,005 in ticket sales alone

Friday, February 18, 2011

Alabama Recruiting Not Hurt By Recent Racial Incidents On Campus

The Alabama Crimson Tide just wrapped up a top five recruiting class in 2011 and are already on their way to another top class in 2012 with seven commitments.

Many of the most heralded members of the 2011 class are African-American by race and those signees seemed undeterred from signing to attend school in Tuscaloosa despite several racial incidents on the campus recently.

The Associated Press reports on several recent flaps raising tensions between black and white students:

"Months after the university unveiled a plaza and clock tower named for its earliest black students, the campus was swamped within the last two weeks with unwelcome attention after a white student was disciplined for yelling racial slurs at a black student. Days after that incident, more racial slurs were written on a campus sidewalk in chalk."
The Greek system has had its issues too..
"The most recent flare-up came in early February when a white student was accused of yelling a slur from his fraternity house at a black student. The school has refused to reveal the student's punishment, but the national president of the fraternity, Delta Tau Delta, apologized personally to the black student."

"Less than a week later, disparaging words were written about several ethnic and racial groups on three sidewalks near The Quad, a large campus green area. Administrators responded to each occurrence with campus-wide e-mails decrying intolerance, and an investigation continues into the written epithets."

Following the most recent flap over racial slurs, the president of the Black Faculty and Staff Association at Alabama, Joyce Stallworth, said the university needs to take strong disciplinary action against the offenders and pay increased attention to promoting diversity on campus.
"Unfortunately, this incident is not an isolated occurrence on this campus," she said in a statement.
Something tells me if Nick Saban said something about these incidents, the issues would be solved pretty quickly.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Georgia Tech Basketball Attendance Watch: Yellow Jackets Break 5 Game Losing Streak

Glen Rice had 27 of Tech's 62 total points in a nine point win over Chattanooga Wednesday night at Alexander Memorial Coliseum.

The out of conference game against the Mocs drew a listed crowd of 5,364 according to RamblinWreck.com or about 58% sold though reports say the arena was more like 1/3 full.

Using the same ratio for out of conference games as I have since the UGA game, a 75% full arena would have added 1,529 fans and at least $30,585 in revenue (tickets were $20) before you even count in parking, merchandise, concessions, and seat license fees. The Chattanooga game brings the season total to $767,115 in single game ticket revenue alone, again not counting the above revenue which could easily double this figure.

Running total of lost ticket sales revenue:
UGA $86,310 lost without a full arena
Sav. St $24,195 lost without 75% full arena
Mercer $15,980 lost without 75% full arena
Charlotte $22,500 lost without 75% full arena
UNC $37,310 lost without a full arena
Wake Forest $109,515 lost without a full arena
Va Tech $118,895 lost without a full arena
Maryland $102,690 lost without a full arena
Clemson $104,020 lost without a full arena
Florida St $115,115 lost without a full arena
Chattanooga $30,585 lost without a 75% full arena
TOTAL $767,115 in ticket sales alone

Audio of Alabama Fan Claiming He Poisoned Trees at Auburn's Toomers' Corner

Click HERE for partial audio of the call. Just when you thought this rivalry couldn't get any hotter.

Alabama has security guarding the statues of the national championship coaches in response.

Pledges at Auburn and Alabama fraternities just got put on high alert for shenanigans!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

UGA, Georgia Tech 2012 Recruiting Talk (Audio)

Rusty Mansell of Dawgs247.com spoke with MTM Radio about the 2012 class and how it might look for UGA and Georgia Tech.


Click HERE for audio if media player above is not working

Monday, February 14, 2011

SEC Basketball Power Poll: New Team Graces SEC Floor

The Florida Gators still top my SEC Power Rankings after winning both of their conference games this week, but a new team takes over the bottom spot in the rankings.  

1. Florida
Gators take care of two division foes and have firm grip on East Division.

2. Vanderbilt
Commodores sent ref Tim Higgins a Valentine Card for his gift against Alabama.

3. Kentucky
Wildcats are a very pedestrian 5-5 in SEC play but all of their losses are razor thin.

4. Alabama
I wondered who that guy was yelling from the Alabama bench on Thursday night. What has gotten into Anthony Grant? I don't know but I like it.

5. Tennessee
I was being half serious last week when I wondered if UT was better off with Tony Jones as head coach.

6. Georgia
Bulldogs possibly save their NCAA Tournament hopes by holding off South Carolina.

7. Arkansas
The Razorbacks haven't lost three in a row or just got beaten by Auburn so they get this spot by default.

8. South Carolina
Did anyone else notice Sam Muldrow looking at the camera behind the free throw line right before he would shoot yesterday? Never seen that before.

9. Ole Miss
Saw this tweet this week: Chris Warren is a great basketball player but a terrible partner in Spanish class.

10. Miss State
Miss State lucky I didn't drop them to the bottom but I guess they aren't the first team to lose to Auburn.

11. Auburn
Watch out! Tigers have won two of their last four.

12. LSU
The last time LSU won, Michigan was still considering Les Miles for their head coaching job.


Sunday, February 13, 2011

Georgia Tech Basketball Attendance Watch: Fan Apathy Continues With Yellow Jackets 4th Straight Loss

The Yellow Jackets dropped their fourth straight game in a 73-62 home loss to Florida State. The loss was also Tech's sixth straight to Leonard Hamilton and the Seminoles.

The listed attendance for the game was 5,902 though on site reports says that amount is being very generous.

With 3,289 empty seats at roughly $35 per ticket, Georgia Tech missed out on $115,115 in ticket sale revenue alone. That amount could easily be doubled when you account for missing seat license fees, parking, concessions, and merchandise.

The FSU game brings the season total to $736,530 in lost ticket revenue alone.

Running total of lost ticket sales revenue:
UGA $86,310 lost without a full arena
Sav. St $24,195 lost without 75% full arena
Mercer $15,980 lost without 75% full arena
Charlotte $22,500 lost without 75% full arena
UNC $37,310 lost without a full arena
Wake Forest $109,515 lost without a full arena
Va Tech $118,895 lost without a full arena
Maryland $102,690 lost without a full arena
Clemson $104,020 lost without a full arena
Florida St $115,115 lost without a full arena
TOTAL $736,530 in ticket sales alone

Tech's next home game is an out of conference game against Chattanooga (formerly UT-Chattanooga) Wednesday 7:30 PM ET.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Georgia Tech Basketball Attendance Watch: Half Price Tickets Still Means Empty Seats

In an unprecedented move (well I don't ever remember it), Georgia Tech made tickets for the game against rival Clemson half price.

Yet, $20 tickets did not improve attendance.

The announced attendance was 6,219 for the Saturday afternoon game about the same as previous ACC games.

With nearly 3,000 empty seats the lost revenue in tickets sales alone was at least $104k . This figure does not include seat licenses, concessions, parking, or merchandise which is sure to double the amount.

The Yellow Jackets lost to the Tigers setting them back to 3-6 in the ACC. Tech must now win five of their final eight games plus at least one game in the ACC Tournament to be eligible for any postseason tournament.

Running total of lost ticket sales revenue:
UGA $86,310 lost without a full arena
Sav. St $24,195 lost without 75% full arena
Mercer $15,980 lost without 75% full arena
Charlotte $22,500 lost without 75% full arena
UNC $37,310 lost without a full arena
Wake Forest $109,515 lost without a full arena
Va Tech $118,895 lost without a full arena
Maryland $102,690 lost without a full arena
Clemson $104,020 lost without a full arena
TOTAL $621,415 in ticket sales alone

Paul Hewitt quotes to the media after the Clemson loss

Paul Hewitt talks after the loss to Clemson



SEC Basketball Power Poll February 7

The second half of the season begins as does the stretch run to the NCAA Tournament. Will an SEC West team get a bid?

1. Florida
Gators with a nice win over my former number one Kentucky with ESPN Gameday in Gainesville.

2. Kentucky
Kentucky may be the best team to never win an SEC road game.

3. Alabama
Paul Finebaum is at a loss for words on Anthony Grant's performance.

4. Tennessee
Volunteers get Bruce Pearl back. Not as clear cut as originally thought if he improves their first half SEC results.

5. Georgia
Bulldogs almost suffered their most humiliating defeat since their bowl game but they pulled it out against Auburn.

6. Vanderbilt
Commodores have a very important home game against Alabama this week if they want to keep pace with the rest of the East.

7. Miss State
Something tells me Rick Stansbury would like to forget most of this season.

8. South Carolina
Gamecocks are off their one week loss to Auburn probation.

9. Ole Miss
Rebels don't suffer from Kentucky letdown and beat division foe Arkansas.

10. Arkansas
Hogs lose two home games this past week. You can't do that.

11. LSU
An idea to get more Tiger fans to the basketball games: Les Miles as the PA announcer

12. Auburn
Something tells me Auburn fans were much more interested in National Signing Day than their basketball program this week.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

ACC Basketball Is Down But Will It Result In Less NCAA Tournament Bids?

Looking at the various projections for the field of 68 (that still sounds weird) it looks the ACC will have a minimum of four teams and possibly up to six depending on how Boston College and Maryland finish.

That number would be right in line with how the conference has done over the last ten years.
ACC NCAA TOURNAMENT BIDS BY YEAR
2010: 6
2009: 7
2008: 4
2007: 7
2006: 4
2005: 5
2004: 6
2003: 4
2002: 4
2001: 6
Average: 5.3

The problem is that the ACC has only one national title contender (Duke) and the Blue Devils are also the only team likely to even make the Sweet 16 or beyond.

The top of your conference is always judged more so than the bottom and that is why the ACC is getting hammered this year (though the bottom ain't great either).

Interesting to note the conference has done about the same in bids before and and after expansion midway through the decade.

But what the ACC has lacked in quantity has been made up in quality with five of the last 10 national champions.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Your Semi-Daily Stephon Tuitt Recruiting Update (UPDATED W/ VIDEO)

Stephon Tuitt ended up signing with Notre Dame on Wednesday after committing back in September.

But the Monroe, Georgia product had some second thoughts along the way including a brief commitment to Georgia Tech followed by a recommitment to the Irish followed by some more second thoughts about the Yellow Jackets.

So what was it that swayed the five star product back to Notre Dame hours after meeting with Paul Johnson? Inside the Irish gives us the scoop...

When Tuitt pulled the panic switch and changed his commitment, the Irish didn’t stick their tail behind their legs and get insulted that their prized defensive lineman wanted to stay home, they stayed mobile and sent down Kelly, who obviously must be one helluva closer.
As Tuitt recounted to Pete Sampson of Irish Illustrated of that visit:
“What really shocked me was when he told me multiple times that if I was just some great player out there that everybody loved and everybody recruited, if I was just a good football player, that he never would have came,” Tuitt said. “He said the reason he came was that I’m a great football player, a great character person and to have both of those, to be able to handle myself in public and keep positive eyes on me, that was important. That’s like all the work I’ve been doing, not putting myself in the spotlight. I really appreciated that.”

Signed. Sealed. And Delivered by Brian Kelly (and Tuitt's mom who really liked Notre Dame too)

Update 8PM 4FEB: Tuitt talks to CBS College Sports about his Notre Dame choice over Georgia Tech to Tom Lemming and Rich Rodriguez.



Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Breaking Down The Top 50 in Georgia By School

Many UGA fans complained about Mark Richt's ability to "build a fence" around the state in recruiting. Well you can't complain about that this year as the Bulldogs have a chance to snag 15 of the top 50 recruits in the state according to the AJC.

Meanwhile in Atlanta, Georgia has signed just 4 of the states top 50, a disappointing haul for the Jackets to say the least. Tech signed 14 players total from in state last year in its 18 member class, but has just 10 pledges this year amongst 21.

Here is a breakdown by school.
AJC's Top 50 By School Breakdown
Georgia 14 (still in hunt for Isaiah Crowell)
Tennessee 5 (still in hunt for Gabe Wright)
Georgia Tech 4
Auburn 4 (still in hunt for Gabe Wright)
Kentucky 4
South Carolina 4
Alabama 2
Florida St. 2
Stanford 1
Notre Dame 1
California 1
Cincinnati 1
Michigan State 1
Syracuse 1
Virginia Tech 1
Miami 1
Illinois 1

Three Reasons Why Paul Hewitt Will Return To Georgia Tech Next Season

Since the loss to UGA, I have been tracking Georgia Tech's home attendance and estimating the amount of revenue leaving the building due to a dissatisfied fan base.  

The Atlanta media is finally catching on to the idea, six weeks after I first presented it.

With the idea catching on, most are calling for Paul Hewitt's exit after this season due to the lack of attendance.  I orginally thought that would be the case too, but after reviewing the situation I highly doubt a business savvy guy like Atheltic Director Dan Radakovich will make that call this year.

Here are three reasons why Hewitt will return as head coach next season

1. Tech will have a renovated coliseum for the 2012-2013 season that has to be filled with paying customers. That means Alexander Memorial Coliseum will be closed next year and Tech will be playing most of its home games at Philips Arena downtown with the remainder at Gwinnett Arena in the northeast suburbs. Crowds are going to be below what they should be for next year anway because the team will be playing off campus in a new venue. This makes it very hard to attract a new coach if his first season is a dead home schedule. The first season for a new coach is largely an exercise in exciting the fan base which will be very hard to do if they don't have an arena to cheer in.

2. IF Iman Shumpert returns next season, this team has a chance to be pretty good. At the beginning of the season when I watched Tech scrimmage I said the Jackets will go as far as Shumpert takes them.  Look at how he has played in Tech's losses versus their wins. 

The only key loss after this season is Mo Miller (20 pg, 5.6ppg) at guard.  The Jackets will add a top 150 player in Julian Royal out of Milton HS who brings more inside depth. Tech could possibly sign two more players.  If one of those is a consistent outside threat this team could be dangerous.

However, Radakovich will likely not know Shumpert's decision on the NBA before he has to make the call on Hewitt when the contract rolls over again sometime around March 16.

3. If the 2011-2012 team cannot make the Tournament and win at least 1 game then Hewitt is gone.  The fans will not want to pay what is likely to be higher ticket prices to pay for the state of the art arena after what would be another disappointing season. 

I see it highly unlikely Hewitt is removed this year unless the rest of the ACC season is a complete disaster (i.e. only 1 or 2 more wins)

Part I: Atlanta Media Finally Catches With Georgia Tech Basketball Attendance

Tracking Georgia Tech's Attendance