SAN JOSE -- We were too busy putting the weekend's results into a semi-digestible package, as is Monday tradition, so we're hopelessly late on the latest big coaching news from the WCC. If you haven't heard already, Vance Walberg
"resigned" suddenly on Jan. 18. Since then, more of the story's come out. Insiders with licorice-flavored blogs like basketball buddy Jeff Goodman
reported that maybe
it wasn't really a resignation. Not surprising in the least, but athletic directors should realize by now that they look like idiots when the initial story is revealed as a total fabrication.
We caught up with Pepperdine a few weeks ago at Manhattan, an 80-79
loss for the Waves. Close and exciting game, sure, but there were a lot of things about Pepperdine's body language and general demeanor that was all sorts of wrong. At the time, I just chalked that up to 10 straight games away from home and the fact that they had a thumpin' at Memphis next on the slate.
After the game, I was asked if I wanted to talk to Walberg. Sure, I said, I wanted to ask him about all the talented freshmen he had. Just then, the only other journalist at the game, a female writer from a local paper, piped up. She needed to go talked to him too, saying that it was a "competitive issue." As I was there representing ESPN.com, I crossed my brow and asked her what she meant. "Well," she said, fumbling for a response. "You never know, he might quit or something."
It was a strange response, but once we talked to Walberg outside the visitors' locker room, he looked like a guy who was looking for a vacation. His voice hoarse, his eyes swollen and drooped from sleep deprivation, he talked about the worst year in his life, of deaths in the family, and the long road the team's been on. He perked up when he started to talk about his talented freshmen, players like Tyrone Shelley
and Malcolm Thomas.
Along with the 5-9 record at the time, pretty normal for a young team that had been out on the road all month, I wasn't ready to put him on career-suicide watch.
But I guess it'll come out sooner or later how he got those players, and with the whispers of recruiting violations, the answers likely won't be pretty.
I wonder about his son Jason
(probably best-known from this picture
), who's left the team now in the wake of his father's departure. I wonder about the WCC, a league presumably on the way up, a conference that's devolved into a Big Monday sideshow with 800-win quests and circus-style coaching changes. But at least we'll always have... Saint Mary's.
I apologize that I have to keep most of the material vested for the paid gig, but holy wow is this team impressive up close.
The Gaels are 16-2 (3-0 WCC) after a complete and total 87-55
dismantling of Loyola Marymount last night. We've discussed the impressive three-headed scoring monster this team has -- Patty Mills
, Diamon Simpson
(pictured, right) and big Omar Samhan
-- which is averaging 39.7 ppg. We've also talked about how young this team is: Simpson's the only upperclassmen in that bunch. We've also briefly touched upon the fact that this team is so loaded that they have redshirts stashed for little more reason than scarcity of playing time. This team is here to stay.
But expect more talk, from here and elsewhere, about this team's killer instinct. Last night, SMC raced out to a 15-2 lead and applied metaphorical foot to throat, with Mills disrupting the LMU offense four times early with steals and runbacks. There wasn't a single unslumped shoulder on the Marymount bench after 10 minutes, and fans were so bewildered by the overpowering dominance that they started leaving at the eight-minute media timeout, out of things to cheer about. Maybe they all went to go see a late showing of Cloverfield
to get a relative respite from all the ass-kicking. Teams on a mission!
I always think of BYU when folks say this, and it's one of those dumb things that sports-people like to work in, sure. Everyone's on a mission to win, some teams and players just aren't good at executing that. But there are some squads that are putting up big scores.
Like Davidson! We'll talk about the Wildcats a little later when we unroll this week's State ratings. But they're now 9-0 and in full control of the SoCon (again). Davidson's won seven in a row to go 11-6 overall (or, rather, 11-2 without the Duke, UNC, UCLA and N.C. State games included) and took its traveling roadshow to Western Carolina last night, where it thrashed the catamounts 82-67
. Stephen Curry
, a name you probably remember, poured in 29 points of liquidy basketball goodness and is now the nation's fifth-leading scorer at 24.1 ppg. On a mission!
And Siena! Now that the Saints have their roster intact, they're getting down to the important business of running the Metro Atlantic. Last night, they won their seventh MAAC game against a single loss by pulling away early from Canisius and winning convincingly 77-49
. On a... oh, you know.
And speaking of which...How 'Bout™
Niagara? Definitely not on a mission. Opponents are finding ways to keep the Purple Eagles away from the basket, like last night's 19-point Marist massacre
, in which the Red Foxes outrebounded the MAAC's best rebounding team by 13 and held them to 27 percent shooting. That's three losses in four games for the previously high-flying Eags, opening the door for Siena to walk away with the league. Marist won't get Siena until an action-packed home-and-home on Feb. 4 and 8.
And How 'Bout™
North Carolina A&T? A day after we busted on them for consistency and chemistry, the Aggies upended the MEAC's last undefeated by dumping Delaware State in the G!O!T!N! 63-61
. A crazy ending
indeed: after a seeming buzzer-beating 3 to force overtime, the Del-State players rushed on the court to mob Trevor Welcher. Phooot!
Technical foul. See, sometimes there's such thing as too much
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