LittyHoops Scoop: Weekly Hoops Roundup

Michigan makes Big Ten waves to strengthen case for NCAA bid.

Michigan senior Bernard Robinson Jr. looks to lead the Wolverines to their first NCAA tournament appearance in seven years.

Michigan senior Bernard Robinson Jr. looks to lead the Wolverines to their first NCAA tournament appearance in seven years.

  • LittyHoops Archive

    Feb. 23, 2004

    By Brian Litvack

    Team Of The Week
    Michigan Michigan

    Def Penn State, 76-53
    Def No. 12 Wisconsin, 71-59

    The Wolverines may have helped themselves more than any other bubble team last week by taking care of business against Penn State and then knocking off conference leader Wisconsin. With the victories, the Wolverines even up their conference record (15-8, 6-6) as well as boost their RPI into the low 50s.

    Sophomore shooting guard Lester Abram and freshman Courtney Simms have picked up the scoring load for the Wolverines. If point guard Daniel Horton, who has slumped all season, can return to his freshman form, Michigan may turn some heads come March for the first time this century.

    Player Of The Week
    Emeka Okafor, UConn

    Okafor receives as much hype as a Paris Hilton home video tape. He proved why last week with monster games against Miami and Notre Dame in which he totaled 37 rebounds and 13 blocks. Okafor's defensive presence is so imposing that he wages his own personal war on college basketball by deterring opponents from even thinking about entering the lane.

    Okafor is a superstar because he has the rare ability to change the flow of a game on the defensive end. He also can run the court and his ever-expanding offensive repertoire has him finally drawing double teams in the post. It is disappointing that UConn has struggled to find its identity at times this season. A talented team with such a dominating force should be able to ride its star to the Final Four.

    Lines Of The Week
    Arizona's Salim Stoudamire and Oregon's Luke Jackson both lit up the scoreboard as they led their teams in an up-tempo shootout last Thursday. Jackson's 42 might have trumped Stoudamire's 37, but in the end Arizona pulled out the win, 100-87.

    S. StoudamireW19-14 6-8 13-15 2 1 0 2 0 37
    L. JacksonL114-21 6-9 8-8 10 4 0 2 3 42

    Games To Watch

    Michigan State @ Michigan, Tuesday
    Great Lakes, great times, and a great matchup in Ann Arbor as two bubble teams fight it out in a must win game for both. The Spartans have finally righted ship after a brutal non-conference slate. Michigan's victory over Izzo's crew was the highlight of its surprise season last year. Another Wolverine win, and State might have to start worrying about its rivals.

    No. 6 Oklahoma State @ Missouri, Tuesday
    The Tigers (13-10, 7-5) have won four in a row and are desperately trying to rise above mediocrity. Quin Snyder has finally settled on an eight-man rotation and seniors Arthur Johnson and Ricky Paulding have stepped up their play of late. A victory over the Big 12 leaders will give Mizzou hope that this season can still be salvaged after such high expectations.

    Before fans in Columbia start jumping for joy, the Tigers will first have to jump through a few obstacles themselves. Oklahoma State has proven to be worthy of its lofty ranking by winning its last 11 Big 12 games. Furthermore, the NCAA investigation of the Tigers has just about wrapped up and rumors are circulating that judgment will not be kind.

    No. 2 St. Joseph's @ Rhode Island, Saturday
    Rhode Island (16-11, 5-8) is the only team with a winning record remaining on the Hawks schedule and this one should be a doozy. Jameer and Delonte had their way with the Rams at Hawk Hill and should have little trouble venturing north to URI. But any game featuring the dynamic play of the two backcourt mates is a game worth watching.

    No. 22 Memphis @ No. 21 Louisville, Saturday
    The Tigers have reeled off 10 straight C-USA victories and are the most underrated team in an underrated conference. Louisville, which only a month ago was looking at a top-five ranking has lost five of six and is sitting in tie for sixth in the conference. The Cardinals are finally back to full strength after injuries to their starting backcourt.

    Memphis freshman Sean Banks has been phenomenal over the past few weeks and is almost as versatile as Louisville guard Francisco Garcia, who runs the Cardinal offense despite playing small forward.

    Was That Conrad Birdie?
    It seems as though North Carolina coach Roy Williams is prone to mild fainting spells while patrolling the sidelines. After nearly fainting during the Heels' win over Florida State, Williams discussed his spells explaining that they have occurred since he was in Little League.

    "It's a blood rush," he said. "It takes about five seconds then things are fine. I've had great assistant coaches who have usually caught me if I start slipping a little bit. I've never fallen completely. I can always see. It's no big deal, it really isn't."

    To Rush Or Not To Rush?
    Lately, the age-old tradition of college kids storming the court after their school has a special upset or victory has come under scrutiny. There have always been the objectors who believe that rushing the court lacks class or the "been there before" humility of a successful program. Recently, though, a spate of incidents have intensified the debate over this issue.

    In Arizona, a high school player was seriously injured after being crushed by fans that mobbed him in celebration after he threw down a slam at the buzzer. Florida and Duke have both been on the wrong end of a court storming in the past week and have felt that the situation can be dangerous. In college football, fans have been leveled by assistant coaches (Miami) and players (Nebraska) over the last two seasons.

    There have been plenty of suggestions on how to prevent fans from rushing the court, with the extremists proposing long-term jail sentences and home team forfeiting the game. All this is quite ridiculous. As I remember, college kids are in school for one reason - to party. Isn't their right to rush their court after a big win part of the ticket price, or perhaps their tuition payment? Sure, it would be nice if all this can be done in a safe way. No matter what, kids will always be running around the court in a euphoric state, high on knowledge, pointing their index fingers in the air all because they just beat Rival U.

    Hasta La Vista
    Florida forward Christian Drejer bailed on his teammates and the University when he skipped town last week to play professionally in Spain. Apparently, Drejer was made an offer that he couldn't refuse and realized that his NBA stock was plummeting like your favorite dot com a few years back. The NCAA has cried fouled and is appalled that a player would leave after making a commitment to a program.

    Luckily, there is an easy solution. Don't recruit foreign players. Most foreigners in college basketball play college basketball for one reason and it's not the college part. Last season, Erazam Lorbek bailed out of East Lansing and Drejer is now doing the same. It is unfortunate that their teammates must suffer but colleges and the NCAA have no justification to complain.

    Get Well Soon Coach

    Double The Inspiration?
    Marquette assistant basketball coach Trey Schwab continues to recover from a double-lung transplant that he received earlier in the week. Schwab has been suffering from an incurable, rare lung disease and desperately needed a transplant. Schwab has been a source of inspiration for the Golden Eagles over the last few years as he often used a portable oxygen tank from the bench.

    Time To Collect Social Security
    This season has seen two coaches resign from their positions because of personal health concerns. First, Utah Coach Rick Majerus had to step down after his bathroom scale capsized.

    Now, UNLV Coach Charlie Spoonhour, 64, has hung up the turtleneck as he explains, "I am physically unable to do this right now." Spoonhour was in his third season with UNLV and in his 19th year as a head coach.

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