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February 28th Jump Off

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mood music.

As ever check out the facebook page and follow me on twitter for my profanity laced in game tirades

UConn Post Game

Bearcats fall at home: Cincinnati.com

"We felt like, OK, we won on the road, now we’re going to come home and it’s just going to happen instead of going out there and playing to make it happen," said Gates, who led UC with 14 points and eight rebounds. "You just hope that reality sets back in that we’re still not a guaranteed lock in the NCAA Tournament. If we lose these next two games, we definitely won’t be in."

A very intelligent comment right there from young Yancy Gates.

UConn Freshman come up big: UC Huskies

The Freshman trio of Lamb, Smith and Napier brought their A games combining for 39 pts and carried the team for a stretch when Kemba was in a funk. Of course it would be great to Walker consistently back to Maui form for the post season but UConn is a better, more dangerous team with some balance.  When  Shabazz is getting 20 plus minutes and doing his thing on the defensive end UConn is a much better team. When he ads in double digit scoring nights (first one since January) the Huskies are dangerous.

His guards let UC down: Paul Daughtery

A few minutes earlier, UConn coach Jim Calhoun offered that the Bearcats’ decision on defense to focus on Huskies’ point machine Kemba Walker had opened things up for other players, who took advantage. Freshmen guards Jeremy Lamb and Shabazz Napier combined to make five of eight 3-pointers; UConn as a team made 10 of 19, a whole lot better than its season average of 33.5 percent. It happens.

Hard to argue with the internal logic of trying to make things as difficult as possible for Kemba Walker, UC did that. But playing the man to man made things to easy for those young guys.

Kemba Walker steps up after halftime in UConn victory: AP

"I missed a shot and he said, 'Chris Paul wouldn't miss that shot," Walker said, referring to the New Orleans guard. "That's all right. I came down and made the next one. It was fun."

A simple rule for fandom. Don't piss off the opposing teams best player. It almost never works out for the better.

Other Bearcat News

Jason Kelce impresses at Combine: CBS sports

Cincinnati's Jason Kelce is getting headlines because of his lineman-best 40 (4.93), three-cone (7.22) and short shuttle (4.14) times, but scouts knew he would run fast and move quickly at just 280 pounds. Those numbers simply emulate what he shows on film, as he earned second-team All-Big East accolades this year in part due to his mobility to take out linebackers at the second level.

But the real reason teams like the former defensive lineman is his tenacity. The three-year starter played defensive line for a year before moving to left guard for two years, and then to center in 2010. He's too small to play guard in most NFL systems, but given time in a pro strength and conditioning program he should able to move toward 300 pounds and excel in a zone-blocking scheme.

Kelce is one of my favorite Bearcats. He was a very good lineman here and is just generally a really cool dude. Plus he has a wicked Terry Tate impression.


 

Nationally Regarded

Five observations from the week. ESPN College Basketball nation

3. The Big East is more likely than ever to get 11 teams in the tournament. This started as a lark. It is now an eminent reality. How do you know the Big East has had a great season? On Feb. 20, eight teams -- as many as any conference has ever sent to the NCAA tournament, and yes that conference was the Big East -- were locks or near-locks in basically everyone’s bracket. The only stragglers remaining at the start of the week were West Virginia, Cincinnati and Marquette, three teams with variously strong bubble résumés, all of whom needed another win -- whether to hold serve or make a statement -- to ensure inclusion in the tourney field on March 13. All of them did so. West Virginia beat Notre Dame last Saturday. Cincinnati won three games in a row, including a win over Louisville and a road win at Georgetown. And Marquette went into Connecticut and escaped with a signature overtime victory in front of a stunned XL Center crowd. Barring something unexpected, all three will be dancing this season. As a result, the Big East will get 11 teams in the 2011 NCAA tournament. And deservedly so.

Cheap Shot of 2010: The Wizard of Odds

finally an award that is imminently worthy of your time.

Reading This Will Make You Smarter

Geeks helping jocks make the call. Boston.com

There’s a lot to talk about. It used to be that player evaluation and play calling relied heavily on subjective analysis – what a scout saw, who a general manager thought would fit with other players, what a coach felt was the right play. Instinct, experience, and very basic statistics like the box scores tracking a baseball player’s hits, strikeouts, and runs batted in per game drove decision making.

Now scores of new data points are available, letting team officials know the odds that one strategy will be more successful than another. Is it better to walk a particular player or pitch to him? To sign an aging all-star point guard to a single- or a multiyear contract? To punt, attempt a field goal, or try a running or passing play on a fourth down from the 50-yard line in a certain game situation?

This field isn't exactly new, applying rigorous statistical analysis has been a staple of baseball front offices for quite a while. But there has been an explosion of new techniques for measuring performance on the Football field and Basketball court in recent years. There is a boat load of money out there for any mathematician who can find a way to evaluate basketball players with a single statistical metric that encompasses not only offensive but defensive performance as well.