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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

BIG EAST rolls into Judgement Time





TUESDAY OBSERVATIONS @ C.C.


-High School District action begins


-The BIG EAST prospective


-Watson weighs in on DePaul


-Jackson was a sign of the times.


It's here...girls (and boys) high school district basketball time. The next several weeks will be a cornucopia of dribbling, rebounding and yelling coaches as high school basketball shifts into high gear and races to the Sweet Sixteen. Things in Jefferson County began last night with several district openers.


-Mercy had no trouble advancing to the next round...submarining Male 81-39.

-Manual took a step forward, eliminating Collegiate 60-18


Louisville signee Sara Hammond led her Rockcastle County squad to an opening night win over Pulaski County 57-24.


We'll keep an eye on these three squads..as well as Marion County...as they advance and hope ultimately to be one of the sixteen teams that will vie for the Kentucky Girls High School Basketball championship title. Manual and Mercy square off tonight...regardless of the outcome...both will advance to regional play.


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As the BIG EAST rolls into the final couple of weeks of regular season action, things are getting very tight for the battle for 4th place in conference standings. UConn, DePaul and Notre Dame have pretty much clinched the top three spots in the regular season and will get the first two days off at the BIG EAST Tournament in Hartford. Technically, if the Irish were to lose their final three games...they could slip into fourth...but we don't see them falling to Cincinnati. They may struggle against DePaul and West Virginia, but we're giving them the benefit of the doubt here. The fourth slot for double exemption remains quite a battle though. No less than seven teams are still in the hunt...Georgetown, Louisville, Marquette, Rutgers, Syracuse, West Virginia and St. John's control their fate and destiny to breath the rare and purified air of not having to play until the quarterfinals.


Of the contenders for 4th, we think Rutgers(8-5) has the best chance of sweeping the final three. They get USF and WVU in the RAC...and play Seton Hall on the road in their final. St. John's (7-6) closes out pretty easily also at Villanova and hosting Pittsburgh but at West Virginia to end the season won't be easy. There might be an argument that Louisville (8-5) could take two...Seton Hall and Providence should be Cardinal wins...but DePaul visits the KFC YUM Center Wednesday...a very tough test for the Cards. Marquette (8-5) could grab two wins also...at Providence and Cincinnati...but they have DePaul left to face also. Georgetown (8-5) is another candidate for two out of the final three..Pittsburgh and USF in the win column but hosting UConn won't go so well for them. Syracuse (7-6) is in position to notch a couple of victories against Cincinnati and Providence but ending the regular season at Connecticut looks like a loss. West Virginia (7-6) has the toughest task ahead...with Notre Dame, Rutgers and St. John's to end the year. A week of hoops to go before regular season end. Should be very interesting...
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Kayla Alexander was named BIG EAST Player of the Week and her performances against St. John's and Louisville were worthy of the honor. The Orange were 2-0 last week and Alexander averaged 19 points per game. Bria Hartley got freshman of the week honors as the Huskies keep rolling along. The BIG EAST Honor Roll names...Maya Moore, Taneisha Harrison (Pitt) Lindsay Kimmel (Nova) and Madina Ali (WVU).
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Six of the seven games on Saturday were won by visiting teams. Only UConn could hold home court safe. Also, six BIG EAST teams now have 20 wins or more on the season...Marquette joining the club by winning at Seton Hall Saturday. UConn, DePaul, Notre Dame, WVU, and Georgetown have reached the 20 win plateau also. Syracuse has 19 going into at Cincinnati tonight.
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We have no doubt that Syracuse is the best rebounding team in the BIG EAST but did you know they also lead the nation with a 15.2 rebounding margin over opponents? Advice to their remaining three opponents...don't miss many shots...
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We're going out on a limb here (what else is new?) and boldly predict that LOUISVILLE uses the incredible home court advantage that the KFC YUM Center provides and beats DePaul tomorrow night. Take no prisioners and play like champions, LADY CARDS!!
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DAVID WATSON chimes in from time to time with his unique perspectives on BIG EAST women's hoops. WE got this from him late last night...
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So who is ready for the Rumble in the YUM Wednesday Night? Jeff Walz probably hasn't had a lot of sleep over the last couple nights because the demolishing DePaul Blue Demons are headed to town and they're not stopping by just to visit the Ali Center.
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At 25-3, Doug Bruno's Windy City tornados have schooled the BIG EAST opposition with the ease of my youngest son straightening out my internet problems. Only UConn has blemished the DePaul BIG EAST slate with a 23 point pasting in Hartford. UConn does that to everyone, though, so we'll give Bruno's brawlers the benefit of the beat down.
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They do have an impressive 20 point win over Stanford this year. A Stanford team missing a key starter, mind you, but still a quality W. They attack you with a multitude of options. Cardinal fans will hear the names Quigley, Hampton, Naughton, Martin, Chester, Pikes and Harry out of Sean Moth's lips with frequency Wednesday night. I'm hoping they hear a lot of mention of Reid, Schimmel, Burke and Gibbs also.
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What does Louisville have to do to exorcise these Demons? We'll start with defense. The Cardinal effort has to be on par with the WVU effort a few days back. It cannot mirror the Syracuse nor the Georgetown blunders. They also must have a big inside game from Reid, some clutch shooting from Burke and Gibbs and, most importantly, a Shoni Schimmel who gets more points than turnovers.
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I won't be in the stands for this one. I hope I can somehow pick up the WAZOO broadcast. As much as I pay for digital, worldwide, more channels than I can name satellite coverage each month, I hope this one is floating out there in the stratosphere somewhere I can find it. I encourage you, the readers, to go. Get loud and rowdy. Clap your hands and stomp your feet. I hope you have plenty of reasons to do so.
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(David Watson can be contacted at mrwatsonipresume@insightbb.com . ) Do so at your own risk...he rambles on about stuff for hours and often loses his train of thought.
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Our sympathies go out to the family and friends of former Cardinal basketball player Troy Jackson..who died unexpectedly Sunday. Jackson, 35, may have been the biggest Cardinal to ever take the floor at Freedom Hall. He arrived on campus back in 1996 weighing in at over 500 lbs. He gave Denny Crum and Cardinal fans two years of solid and sometimes unexpected showmanship on the court in 1997 and 1998 before heading off to become a Harlem Globetrotter and play AND1 hoops. The called him 'Escalade', after the Cadillac pickup, and he had a heart as big and giving as the engine of the vehicle.
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He was the sign of the times of Louisville basketball back then...Denny Crum trying to find the spark and catalysts out there to return him to the glory days of the eighties. BJ Flynn and the famous flops. DeJuan Wheat, the unflappable guard. Alvin Sims and Beau Zach Smith...
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Jackson moved on the court with skill and precision belying his enormous size...but around young children seeking his autograph...he was a gentle and lovable family pet. Rest easy, T.J. You will be missed...
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