Sunday Hoops Roundup: New Moody Blues & More

b-ballWe now know the soundtrack for the nascent American Athletic Conference.

It’s the New Moody Blues.

And #7 Cincinnati, like #17 UConn and #22 Memphis State before them, now has ’em.

SMU is THE most pleasantly surprising team in the country, most certainly, in the AAC. The Mustangs stand 19-5 on the year, and a solid 8-3 in the league.

More important, unlike most of their league rivals, the Mustangs are holding serve at home. Where they are an unblemished 14-0 for the campaign.

Which brings us to the maestro of this symphony of a season: dapper, Methuselahian Hall of Famer Larry Brown.

The guy can coach. Period. Exclamation point.

Even when they fell by 8 at the Yum! several weeks back, it was obvious by SMU’s play that Brown was working his wonders.

It’s the simple things that astonish. How they’re always looking for the back cut, not only on set plays, but even when they break down in the ebb and flow of the game. On their version of the Sosa end of the half play, they actually made a couple of passes and a couple of screens for a wide open trey.

Against the Bearcats’ legitimately vaunted D, SMU hit 54% from the field. Because a lot were point blank shots under the hoop. SMU made its FTs, 22 of 25 of them.

The nomadic, 73 year old Brown did a smart thing when he surprisingly took the SMU job. He hired some assistants who can recruit. And he convinced the players they’d be good if they did it his way. Second season in and the results are palpable.

As for Cincy, the game revealed how fragile the Bearcats are. Good? Absolutely. But, all the parts need to be in place. Justin Jackson is almost as important as Sean Kirpatrick. He was in foul trouble most of the night. Even though he logged 26 minutes and 9 rebounds, it effected his game and the Bearcats’ delicate symmetry.

Even Mick Cronin’s fusillade of F Bombs (and MF Bombs), drawing a T early on didn’t ignite his squad.

Smacked with a case of the New Moody Blues, he and they knew it was time to “Go Now,” way before the final buzzer. They certainly were not singing it as they headed to the team bus. But, of course, I’ll use the mention as an excuse for this musical interlude.

By the by, Louisville still has to visit Dallas and the New Moody in its last road game of the year.

* * * * *

You know who else is turning into a good coach.

Richard, Pitino the Younger.

His Gooooooooooooophers came back in funky Williams Arena last night to hand Tom Crean’s Hoosiers another road defeat.

Minnesota ran a nifty high/low play early on, that was really a low/low. One of the Golden Gopher bigs flashed in the paint below the foul line, took the pass, turned and, instead of driving to the hoop, flipped it to a fellow big for an easy lay up. Nifty play, that one.

* * * * *

I really like how Rock Chalk Jayhawk plays.

This is a really good team.

But like another school whose name begins with a “K,” Kansas is really young, relying a whole lot on freshmen and sophomores.

I’m just not sure Bill Self’s novices, like those of John Calipari, can stay focused six games in a row to win the title.

* * * * *

Very early in the season I was chatting up a pro scout, who had just spent a couple of days observing the Florida Gators.

Apparently Billy Donovan did a great job going Lou Holtz woe is me. The scout mentioned how the Gators were missing players, had no inside offensive presence and generally seemed like they were going to have trouble getting in sync.

Which, I suppose, is why the fellow is scouting for one of the NBA’s bottom feeders.

The Gators, who haven’t lost since we were all still eating dressing left over from Turkey Day, are 21-2 and undefeated in the SEC.

An underachiever the last couple of NCAA tournaments, sure to be dancing with a chip on their shoulder, Florida is a team I wouldn’t want to see in my team’s bracket come March.

* * * * *

Ole Miss, which has a pretty fair club, more than just you know who, did its best to blow a fifteen point halftime lead, but held on to best Mizzou in Oxford town.

When Henderson is lighting it up — yesterday he scorched the Tigers with 8 threeballs in 15 attempts — and playing a modicum of D, his Johnny Rebs are feisty.

Because of their efforts to give the game away, they faced a situation where Missouri had the ball out of bounds under their own hoop with 0.09 on the clock. Enough time to catch and fire up a three that would send the tilt to extra innings.

I must admit I was a bit flummoxed when Andy Kennedy had four guys lined up in the paint on the inbounds, because a long ball was all the Tigers would try. And, because of that odd defensive configuration, Missouri did get a clean shot, which simply was slightly off the mark.

Some guys can coach. Some guys, not so much.

* * * * *

Oregon was down a deuce with just less that 0.05 ticks left after a made Arizona State FT.

They didn’t call a timeout. And the Ducks didn’t convert, thanks to a great block by the Sun Devils’ Jordan Bachynski. But what a marvelous play they ran in those four plus seconds.

The Quack scurried the ball to within shooting range, but instead of launching a trey, niftily got the ball to James Young, cutting back door along the baseline to the bucket. Only Bachynski’s heads up play prevented Young’s point blank reverse lay up from netting.

* * * * *

Okie State is melting down.

The Cowboys have dropped 5 of their last 6.

Everybody’s darling Marcus Smart is melting down.

With six seconds to play in yesterday’s loss to Texas Tech, Smart got in a shouting match with a middle aged Red Raider fan, then shoved him.

Wow. So much for the Oklahoma State star’s mature, uh, smart presence.

* * * * *

Iowa State’s Melvin Ejim, whom I touted last season, went off yesterday.

48 points on 20/24 shooting from the field. At one point in the contest, he tallied 20 straight Cyclone points.

* * * * *

The capper of the evening: No Dick Vitale hyperventilating during Memphis big W over Gonzaga.

— Seedy K

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