ALBANY, N.Y. -- Yes indeed, the regular season is over. Everybody's into their conference tournaments now, and four are over already. And since The Boubacar is a regular-season thing, we'll be winding down this particular portion of the entertainment this week.
But first and foremost, I wanted to let you know that I'm hosting a Four-Hour MegaChat over at the Worldwide Leader today
. We're not going for The Record like last time
, this is just a jog around the park, not a marathon. It all starts at noon ET (I hope you remembered to set your clocks ahead). Bring lots of questions, we're going to talk about Championship Week, Drake, the VCU and Saint Mary's double connumdrums, it's going to be more fun than those four-hour Indian musicals.
But yes, housekeeping. These are the last five Boubacars before we switch to Tournament mode a week from now. Tomorrow we'll take a long look back at our weekend of four conference tournaments (A-Sun, OVC, America East and MAAC) in two days, and on Wednesday we'll celebrate some team seasons that may not have ended in NCAA glory, but are worthy of special mention. Thursday, we'll give out our first annual Mid-Majority Player and Coach of the Year awards, and crown the Mid-Majority Baller of the Year from our weekly honorees.
And then, on Friday, the Boubacar finale for the 2007-08 season; it promises to be the most popular post in the four-year history of this site. We're basically just going to just post a whole bunch of hot mid-major cheerleader pictures and be done with it. Barry Hinson.
Missouri State's 17-16 record (8-10 in the Missouri Valley) had few special moments (a late regular-season win over Drake was one, though). It was a team that didn't shoot particularly well, had inconsistent defensive performances and was one of the worst turnover teams in the country. Yesterday, in the wake of Mo-State's quarterfinal loss in St. Louis, an event that seemed inevitable all year finally occurred -- the Bears' head coach was fired after nine seasons
We know that Hinson will pop up somewhere, and soon. He may not have made the NCAA Tournament during his Springfield stay, but he only had one losing season at (ex-Southwest) Missouri State, he went to the NIT four times, and his teams were nearly always in the Valley chase. Most importantly, he led his program with class and integrity. He was always forthright with us wags in the press, whether the Bears won or lost, and he'd never give you a canned quote or fabricated reaction. He was always honest and forthright about everything he did at Mo-State, and that's a big reason why he'll get another chance. Long Beach State.
Late last week, the NCAA handed down (from on high) a laundry-list of violations by Big West school LBSU
, stemming from the recently expired Larry Reynolds administration. Because the school used ineligible players and former coaches paid for students' registration, here's the cost: three years' double-secret probation, 18 forfeited victories from the 2005-06 season
, and fewer scholarships. While it's unlikely to happen any time soon, the actual coaches involved remain free to get jobs in Division I basketball.
Now, "recruiting violations" is a broad brush term that we use to paint a wide spectrum of naughty behavior. There's what Long Beach State did, which involves money and benefits and sleaze, which breaks the code of amateurism that college athletics needs to maintain. Then there's "improper contact," done purely for a face-time advantage over other schools, which is what the Kelvin Sampson thing hung on and what Harvard is currently being accused of. I've been a college basketball fan for many years now, and can't figure out how these two groups of activities can be called the same anything. One is actually illegal, the other is a victimless competitive crime. It's like lumping in human growth hormones with "steroids" -- anyone who's taken a college-level health class knows the difference.
Our position on this issue is twofold. First, vacating results is ridiculous. (I saw some of those LBSU games that year, and I can attest that they actually happened.) Secondly, punishing schools for the activities of their coaches (unless the AD's and other officials are found to be complicit) is important from an institutional-control standpoint, but you can't rely on pure shame to have any impact on the open coaching market. Penalize the coaches with show-cause
orders, punish the actual violators. Op-ed... over!
And while you try to put your own percentage figure on the Rams' and Gaels' chances of getting at-large bids...How 'Bout™
Al Fisher and the Kent State Golden Flashes? We couldn't have picked a better final Game! Of! The! Night! for the season, and it ended with a beautiful last shot. Fisher drained a 3 with three seconds left to ice a 61-58 win
on crosstown rival Akron's floor. After a first half in which Akron shot just 16 percent, the Zips jumped out of a 32-15 halftime hole and made it a game before Fisher's dagger. If you still don't think that Kent has a chance at an at-large bid should they lose late in the MAC tourney this week, keep in mind that the Flashes have nine wins over the RPI's top 100.How 'Bout™
that Atlantic 14 race? Actually, reader Chet wrote in to say that we're propagating misnomers just as misleading as the conference's official name. "How can a conference be Atlantic Anything when it has teams in Saint Louis and Charlotte?" said he. "It should be the Eastern, Southern and Midwestern 14." Point well taken, Chet. The ESM-14 regular season came to a close over the weekend, and we know less about it than we did when it started. We may have also blown out some brain cells trying to keep up.
Saint Joseph's, a team we've been raving about all season and seemed to reach its potential with a home win over Xavier last Thursday, dropped its regular season finale at Dayton by 12 points
and will go into this week's tourney with a No. 5 seed. SJU was part of a three-team sourth-place clump at 9-7 that had to be separated by tiebreakers, and will have to play on opening round day against No. 12 Fordham. Other weird seeds are No. 11 Rhode Island (an NCAA candidate just two months ago) and No. 8 Dayton (beaters of Pitt and Louisville). Sure
, those two are getting at-large bids. On your X-Box.
The top four are Xavier, Temple, UMass and Richmond (RPI: 114). It promises to be the nuttiest tourney going, and we're headed down there to A.C. tomorrow. We can't wait.