Saturday, December 30, 2006

Field of 65--version 2

(12 days have passed since last version)
UCLA (12-0); North Carolina (11-1); Florida (11-2); Ohio State (10-2)
*After watching the Florida-Ohio State game, it almost seems impossible to deny that Florida will win when they put forth the effort. However, I’m not convinced the effort is always going to be there.
Kansas (11-2); Arizona (10-1); Wisconsin (13-1); Oklahoma State (12-1)
*Even after the Tennessee loss (which they bounced back from with a victory over Pittsburgh), I’m very impressed with Oklahoma State.
Butler (12-1); Tennessee (11-2); Connecticut (11-0); Duke (11-1)
*Tennessee is making me a believer. Bruce Pearl’s club may have as good a tourney resume as anyone in the country—their 2 losses are to UNC and Butler, and they have wins against Memphis, Oklahoma State, Texas, and Western Kentucky. UCONN falls only because they haven’t beaten anyone. Even though I hate to admit it, Coach K has done quite a job with this Duke squad.
Marquette (12-2); Notre Dame (11-1); Oregon (12-0); Alabama (12-1)
*I’m not really sure how Notre Dame is winning. Oregon hasn’t beaten anyone. Alabama is a big climber, improving from an 8 seed to a 4 seed (not so much because they beat anyone but because the Notre Dame loss is beginning to look like no big deal and no one else is doing anything).
Gonzaga (9-4); LSU (10-3); Pittsburgh (11-2); Clemson (13-0)
*I don’t buy Clemson’s undefeated start, but they have beaten Mississippi State, Minnesota, South Carolina, and Georgia (the last 3 by at least 15).
Wichita State (9-2); Washington (10-2); Memphis (10-3); Maryland (12-2)
*Wichita State falls after losses to New Mexico and USC. With SMU falling out of the field, Memphis is the only C-USA representative. This development makes me very sad (seriously).
Texas A&M (11-2); Michigan State (12-2); Texas (9-3); Kentucky (9-3)
*Texas A&M is one of the most overrated teams in college basketball—only win of note against an uninspiring Auburn team (although they did play UCLA close).
Villanova (9-2); West Virginia (10-1); Syracuse (10-3); Washington State (11-2)
*You have to love Curtis Sumpter averaging 19.5ppg for the Wildcats after what happened to him last season. I’m not convinced this Syracuse team will be going to the Big Dance when all is said and done. Washington State may be for real—they lost to UCLA by only 3 and have wins over Gonzaga, UAB, and San Diego State.
Illinois (12-3); Nevada (11-1); Florida State (12-2); Georgetown (9-3)
*Georgetown needs to beat someone. Plus, they need to establish a scorer—not a single Hoya is averaging 12ppg.
Purdue (10-3); Missouri State (10-2); UNLV (12-2); Missouri (9-2)
*UNLV gets the nod over San Diego State with wins over Nevada, Minnesota, and Texas Tech. I believe in this Missouri team, but their only big win was against Arkansas. The Tigers have since lost to Purdue and Illinois.
USC (11-3); Oklahoma (8-3); Boston College (7-4); Michigan (12-2)
*USC may deserve to be ranked even higher after wins against Wichita State and Washington. However, they’ve also lost to South Carolina and Kansas State. Boston College is as unpredictable as any team in the nation. While they’ve beaten Michigan State and Maryland, they’ve lost to Vermont, Providence, and Duquesne. The Wolverines are lucky to even be on this list after the 92-55 beating they took from UCLA.
Air Force (12-1); Southern Illinois (10-2); Drexel (9-2); Dayton (10-2)
*Drexel has wins over St. Joseph’s, Villanova, Syracuse, and Temple.
Western Kentucky (10-4); Cal State Fullerton (10-2); Winthrop (10-3); Akron (8-3)
*Seems like the MAC used to be tough.
Davidson (11-3); Princeton (7-4); Eastern Kentucky (8-3); Oral Roberts (6-7)
*Wow, not much to say here.
Albany (7-4); Holy Cross (7-6); Belmont (8-5); Marist (9-3)
*Holy Cross takes the place of American after giving Duke a scare.
Portland State (9-5); Sam Houston State (7-5); Farleigh Dickinson (6-5); Florida A&M (6-6); Jackson State (6-7)
*Jackson State’s Trey Johnson, the nation’s 2nd leading scorer at 29.7ppg, would make the play-in game watchable.

IN: Air Force; Albany; Cal State Fullerton; Drexel; Holy Cross; Jackson State; Oklahoma; UNLV; USC
OUT: Alabama A&M; American; Arkansas; Old Dominion; San Diego State; SMU; UC Santa Barbara; Vermont; Xavier

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Wow, Natty Bumpo Really Does Love Djimon Hounsou

While I sat to Natty's right throughout the movie "Blood Diamon" I realized one thing - Natty really does love Djimon Hounsou.

Naturally, when Natty called and suggested we see the movie with our friend Leonard Peltier, I thought to myself that he of course wanted to see the latest Hounsou movie. I was right. As Djimon ran through the Sierra Leone wilderness with his shirt off, I looked over to see Natty smiling like a young school girl watching her first crush. If Natty were my sister, Djimon would be Justin Timerlake during the N'sync days (the Britney Spears v-card taking Justin). I was also amazed at Djimon throughout the entire movie, but found myself completely distracted by Jennifer Connolly. Jennifer Connolly is an AwesomeUSA favorite, her husband is most definitaly not. AwesomeUSA would like to offer $200 dollars for his head.

Leonardo Dicaprio and Djimon Hounsou but heads continually throughout the movie and in one scene get into an all-out brawl. The scene ends with Leonardo prevailing and threatening to blow Djimon's "fucking head off". Yes, an unlikely outcome in real life, but we all suck it up for the sake of the plot (where Leo plays a South African diamond smuggler who was once a member of the South African army). Natty's response, however: "That's bullshit. That would never happen in real life."

I always knew Natty Bumpo loved Djimon Hounsou and he has had no problem sharing his love with all of us, but I'll tell you this - I'm never watching Four Feathers with Natty, that's for sure.

We all have loves that drive away logic and cause us to act irrationally. I, Thelonious, have a hard time watching boxing video games where Muhammad Ali gets beat. I get upset when I look on the back of a boxing video game cover and there is a picture of a digital Ali getting punched. Runs with Two Horses once stormed out of a family christmas party when a distant cousin walked in with a Duke jersey on. He later forcibly threw up on the jersey and burned it while he laughed over the flames. Leonard Peltier still thinks Michael Jordan could make the White Sox. He even started a petition to get Jordan a World Series ring, because Jordan would have been on the team if he hadn't returned to basketball.

We AwesomeUSA'ers are proud of our ridiculous loves and the extreme loyalty we have towards them. This blogger salutes Natty's love for Djimon and truly hopes they will end up together one day.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Happy Birthday Jesus!!!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Dear Jamal, I Love You

Editor’s Note – This is a long overdue response to Natty throwing down the thunder and asking for me to publicly declare my love for Jamal Mashburn and his flawless, sinewy frame (that’s Mashburn’s frame, not Natty’s). Stay tuned for Natty’s manifesto. It will be a triumph for all people who enjoy thinking about topics that other people never think about.

Jamal Mashburn is simply one of the most underrated college basketball players I’ve ever seen. Shaq and Jay Williams are the two most dominant players I can remember at the college level, but Mashburn is completely slighted and deserves being mentioned in the same category.

Mashburn was the prototypical “new” forward, he really was a player who changed the way the game was played. Mash could bring the ball up the court, knock down threes, and use his 240 pound frame to pull down double figure rebounds on any given night. A guy like Mashburn would have normally been relegated to the role of garbage man, making a living off put backs, and set plays in the half-court. Pitino turned Mashburn into an all-out force that was a threat in every facet of the game. Thanks to the changes in the game, guys built with a 6’8” 240 lb. frame have flourished on the perimeter (not saying the obsession with bigs on the perimeter is always a good thing, but before point forwards like Mashburn came into vogue, LeBron would have been an extremely athletic 4).

Stats don’t capture everything, but Mashburn boasts a few numbers that stand out. During his last two years, he averaged 21.3 and 21.0 points per game. Over the last 30 years, only one UK player has averaged more points than that in any given season (Kenny Walker’s 22.9 in 1985). Since Mashburn left after his junior season, Ron Mercer’s sophomore season in 1997 is Mashburn’s closest competition (18.1 ppg). UK had a run of 3-5 years in which it was the most dominant college basketball program in the country. It was producing NBA players faster than my devoutly Catholic Aunt Elizabeth could make children (14 babies in 22 years…bravo Aunt Elizabeth). Nobody can argue that there was a player that brought what Mashburn did. He was the only guy in Wildcat Lodge with his own parking space, but he didn’t use it for a car. He parked a gigantic fire-breathing dragon there. Compare UK to the other elite programs. UNC has enjoyed more star power over the last fifteen years than UK (Stackhouse, Wallace, Carter, Jamison, etc.). Duke enjoyed a bevy of first round picks (Brand, Laettner, Hill, Maggette), as has Kansas over the same span (Pierce, LaFrentz, Manning). UK has been right on par with those other schools in wins, tournament wins, and draft picks, but the conversation for best UK player in that span starts and ends with Mashburn.

In Mashburn’s last two seasons, UK made heartbreaking exits in the tournament against the Duke juggernaut and Michigan’s Fab Five. Both of these losses required overtime and in each overtime, we saw Mashburn foul out. It really is no exaggeration to say that the only way to beat UK in the tournament those two seasons was to keep playing until Mashburn fouled out. There is no way that UK competes against Duke in 1992 without Mashburn. Only one other UK player on that roster even got a sniff from the NBA (Sean Woods went undrafted, but the Pistons gave him a tryout). His work in 1993 gets undercut because everyone thinks back to UK’s outstanding recruiting class. You have to remember that McCarty was ineligible his freshman season, and Tony Delk didn’t move ahead of Junior Braddy to become the second 2-guard on the depth chart until a week before the SEC tournament. During that tournament run, everyone assumed that Rodrick Rhodes and Jared Prickett would be noteworthy NBA players down the road…turns out it was just them benefiting from more of Mashburn’s giant sexy game.

A lot of people have suggested Patrick Patterson would be the most important recruit for UK since Rex Chapman. I’ve already made out with most of those people’s girlfriends to teach them a lesson. King Rex was outstanding, and you can’t take anything away from him, but Mashburn took UK from “Kentucky Shame” to the Final Four. He set the stage for annual runs at the championship, and no sane person could expect Patterson to come in and lift UK the way Mashburn did. There have been a few players in the last fifteen years that have really lifted programs like Mashburn. Marcus Camby comes to mind (sorry Lou Roe, but I don’t think UMass becomes a national player without Camby). Donyell Marshall really gave UConn the national credibility they needed, and Lawrence Funderburke changed Ohio State basketball forever. There have only been a handful of players over the last fifteen years that have left an indelible mark on the game, and Mashburn deserves mentioning in this category. Corliss Williamson is probably the closest equivalent, having restored Arkansas from mediocrity to contender status. Mashburn just did what he did without a goofy "Nasty Streak" haircut, ridiculously long shorts, and that asshole Cory Beck. Now that my Jamal Mashburn slurpfest is coming to a close, I’d like to remind each and every one of you to stop by Toyota on Nicholasville in Lexington for MONSTER savings!!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Roving Afterthoughts

1. The brawl in Madison Square Garden would not be nearly as big of a deal if the "Palace Brawl" had never happened. Mardy Collins should have fouled the shit out of J.R. Smith. Smith should have gotten in his face afterwards. Isiah Thomas should not like George Karl and George Karl should not like Isiah Thomas. There is bad blood between people who compete on a regular basis. A lot of the criticism is coming from the same people who claim NBA players do not play with any passion or desire for their team. Yes, it escalated to a point that it should not have. But these are 21-24 year olds competing at the highest level possible. Confrontations will happen. These guys are still kids. David Stern should only be thanking God Marcus Camby has matured and only tried to stop the fight, or this could have been a lot worse.

2. I am officially on the Greg Oden bandwagon. How could you ever feel you have a chance of losing a game when he is on your team? It will be a bigger adjustment to the NBA, but he is the most dominant center in college since Shaq. Already.

3. I hate Sebastian Telfair. I'm still working on all the reasons, but there are plenty of them. It really pisses me off that he wears the number 30 because I think it is one of the coolest numbers for a point guard. This is an attempt to find the coolest things about Sebastian Telfair. Here are the top ten coolest things about him:
1. He wears the number 30

4. There need to be more clips of Bobby Orr on If you ever have the chance to watch footage of Bobby Orr playing hockey, take it. He is amazing, and I don't even enjoy hockey.

5. It's a damn shame Gilbert Arenas had to drop 60 on the Lakers in the Wizards gold uniforms. These may be some of the ugliest uniforms that have ever existed. Also, apparently Kobe Bryant told Phil Jackson to let him guard Arenas towards the end of the fourth quarter and the full overtime. Gilbert responded by dropping more points in an overtime than anyone before. It looked like Kobe just quit trying to guard him.

6. I vote a country merge with Canada so Steve Nash can play on our Olympic team.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Field of 65--Version 1

This is my field of 65 thus far. I hope to update this every week or so.
UCLA; North Carolina; Ohio State; Florida
*Florida hasn’t earned a 1 seed yet, but they’ve been more impressive than Kansas (even though Kansas beat them).
Kansas; Arizona; Oklahoma State; Connecticut
*UCONN might end up being special in a Big East with a lot of good teams but no great teams.
Wisconsin; Wichita State; Butler; Gonzaga
*I know I’ve got these mid-majors pretty high, but they’ve played tougher schedules thus far than the traditional powers. By the end of the season, these teams will probably drop because of their weak conference schedules.
Marquette; Duke; Pittsburgh; Tennessee
*After Pitt, there’s a real drop-off. Tennessee is not a 4 seed.
Memphis; Notre Dame; Oregon; LSU
*I can’t buy into Notre Dame.
Boston College; Missouri; Washington; Maryland
*Maryland basketball is gross basketball.
Texas A&M; Syracuse; Texas; Villanova
*What separates the 7 seeds from the 8 seeds (with the exception of Alabama): a go-to guy that can fill it up when needed.
Alabama; Illinois; Michigan State; Kentucky
*Should all probably be higher than 8.
Clemson; West Virginia; Southern Illinois; Washington State
*I don’t think Clemson or West Virginia will make the tournament.
Georgetown; Purdue; Nevada; Missouri State
*Georgetown has been playing like crap so far. Missouri State should probably be higher than a 10 seed.
Michigan; Xavier; Arkansas; Florida State
*I don’t think the Big 10 gets 6 teams in when it’s all said and done. And I don’t think the Wolverines are as good as Purdue or Indiana. When is Michigan going to realize that Tommy Amaker is never going to win at Michigan?
San Diego State; Dayton; Old Dominion; SMU
*How far has C-USA fallen? SMU is the second of only 2 that get in right now.
Western Kentucky; UC Santa Barbara; Akron; Winthrop
*Western Kentucky could be a spoiler come March.
Vermont; Davidson; American; Oral Roberts
*How did Oral Roberts beat Kansas?
Eastern Kentucky; Portland State; Princeton; Belmont
*Seems like Princeton and Penn are the only Ivy League teams that ever make the tournament.
Marist; Farleigh Dickinson; Sam Houston State; Alabama A&M; Florida A&M
*A battle of A&M’s in the play-in game.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Ah f-it, i'm doin another finals post

Well kids it's almost over, and for some of us it already is. But the fact that it's still finals week has really slowed things down here at awesomeUSA! I'm guessin after this week you'll see more of the usual, ya know, stuff about boobs and farts and college basketball. For now though, I just don't got the energy. So, I completely ripped this video off of deadspin. But damn is it funny.
Oh yeah, finals. I guess this....nope this doesn't have anything to do with finals, but you'll like me a lot more after you watch it.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Drew Gooden's Fashion Explosion

With the new year approaching, awesomeUSA can only think about one thing: The June NBA Draft. The NBA draft is one of the most exciting times in sports, because it serves as a launch pad for players onto the national and even international scene. Unfortunately, it has lost some of its glory, with the new age rule imposed to keep high school kids from entering the draft. This requires the Traiblazers to make somewhat decent selections. Absolutely nothing will top the 2005 draft, where teams acted like they had to scoop up all the highschool kids because this would be there last chance. I am still convinced if the Blazers would have had every pick in the draft, not one college player would have been drafted. The Blazers, of course, drafted Martel Webster over Charlie Villanueva, Sean May, Danny Granger, Hakim Warrick, Luther Head, and David Lee.

The other great thing that the NBA draft produces are the ugliest/greatest suits known to man. The draft, as mentioned earlier, is a time for many kids who have limited exposure outside of college basketball and absolutely no fashion sense to have their day in the sun and enjoy themselves. AwesomeUSA loves this more than anything. Here are some of the greatest suits worn in past drafts:

Drew Gooden in his "no button" suit. Gooden said, "It's a lot easier to get on and off without the buttons. I can just pull it over my head, like a t-shirt. Don't worry, I'm gonna wear a whole lot uglier fucking stuff when I'm playing."

Bonzi Wells said, "I wore three suits, each one on top of the other, just in case. Right before I went on stage I took the bottom two off and just wore the biggest one. Oh yeah,I had also smoked a lot of weed."

"MVP? MVP? No I didn't think about winning MVP back then," Steve Nash said, "Honestly I was just hoping to get through the night without getting my ass kicked."

"Do you get it," Jalen Rose asked, "Rose-colored suit ... last name is Rose. Anybody? Eeeks, what are you gonna do?"

"I was honestly just trying to keep a low profile, Samaki Walker said, "So people wouldn't remember me from that night and remember I was getting drafted ahead of Kobe Bryant. I guess the all white with the top hat wasn't the way to go. Ah well, C'est la vie."

Sunday, December 10, 2006


Vince Young's 39 yard overtime touchdown scamper led the Titans to victory over the Texans today. Young's late-game heroics, which have become common-place in the last month, caused the entire Houston crowd to throw up in their mouths. I'm sure that soon enough, the Texans will forget when Young openly campaigned to be the first pick in the draft and stay in the state of Texas, and they elected to go with the Mario Williams as a long-term project at defensive end. The real loser in this is Williams. Since being drafted first, Williams has had his toe nails removed off his big toes, played injured since week 8, been constantly compared to Reggie Bush and Vince Young, and, oh yeah, he's actually had to play for the Texans. If it's any consolation, the Texans will probably do their best to make an even worse draft pick to make people forget about Mario. I'm smelling the dawn of the Chris Leak era coming to Houston.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Congratulations Mr. Smith

AwesomeUSA is proud to be one of the first blogs to congratulate Mr. Troy Smith on his runaway Heisman Trophy win tonite. You won by the biggets landslide in Heisman history. And you beat that extra good looking son of a bitch Brady Quinn. The more I read about that guy the more I like him and, in turn, the more I hate myself. You've turned into a legitimate pocket passer after entering Ohio State labeled as an "athlete". You've become the leader of the nation's number one team after a suspension for "accepting benefits." Hey, I didn't know a blumpkin from a booster's daughter was illegal either. You've done it all. Well, almost all. There is only one thing left for you to do and this heisman season will be complete - Throw a pass to yourself in the endzone, strike the heisman pose, and then kick Tim Tebow's ass at midfield. I know you can do it, and AwesomeUSA is rooting for you.

Friday, December 08, 2006

For You, My Dearest Haystacks. For You.

After a conversation last week, Haystacks suggested I do a daily log entry. In essence, a return to my days as a codpieces contributor. It has taken a full week, but finally there has been a day worth logging. I present it to you, our seven faithful readers. And I call it: Thelonious Monk’s Greatest Fucking Day Ever. There are five main characters, each with a nickname for easier use. (1) Overweight Man who Gels His Hair Way Too Fucking Much (also known as Gelly), (2) Dorky Man who Cares Way Too Much About His Positive Feedback on Amazon (also known as Stevie the Amazon Nerd), (3) Girl Who Looks Like She Has Metal Pole Up Her Ass (also known as Metal Pole), (4) Pregnant Girl Who Cries (also known as Preggy), and (5) Thelonious.

6:35 - Wake up.

6:37 - Take a shower

6:50 - Water freezes to body due to temperature of apartment

7:00 - Leave for school

7:03 - Realize I’ve made huge fucking mistake by deciding to walk to school.

7:05 - Don’t see any crazy people, they aren’t out when it’s this cold.

7:30 - Sit in lounge, study for Contracts final (Instead read about Troy Smith’s troubled childhood and wonder why my mom didn’t do a lot of drugs)

8:15 - Go to room 306 and set computer up in preparation for Contracts final.

This is the conversation that followed (no exaggeration):

Gelly: I had a good night last night ...
Metal Pole: What do you mean?
Gelly: ... and a good morning.
Stevie the Amazon Nerd: Oh, with that girl you went out with last week?
Gelly: Yeah, baby.
Metal Pole: I’m a girl. I don’t know whether to give you a high five or be disgusted.
All: (laughs all around, minus Thelonious)
Thelonious: Hey, do you guys know if we can sell our books back today?
Gelly: Yeah, but you can only get 10 dollars for your Torts book. You might as well just sell it on Amazon.
Thelonious: Really?
Stevie the Amazon Nerd: But they’ve got so much writing in them you probably can’t even sell it.
Thelonious: Well I’ll just say mine is in perfect condition, and they will get a surprise when they get it.
Stevie the Amazon Nerd (really concerned, and on the verge of upset): BUT YOU’LL GET NEGATIVE FEEDBACK!

Silence until the test begins

8:50 - Go outside to use the bathroom.

8:51 - Pass Preggy crying for the second time I have seen during Finals Week

8:52 - A teacher is consoling her. I thank God teacher is there so I don’t have to stop.

8:53 - She sees me again as I leave the bathroom. She’s still crying. We make eye contact for three seconds. I look away to make it seem like I don’t notice, but we both know that I do. I feel awkward.

8:55 - Final begins

12:25 - Final Ends

1:00 - Eat lunch

1:12 - Look in mirror and notice odd discoloration on my nose

1:13 - Look closer, see strong discoloration

1:15 - Realize blood vessels have burst in my nose creating odd purple color. Debate going out in public

1:30 - Decide to say fuck it, going out with blood vessels burst in my nose will show everyone I don’t really care about physical appearance.

1:44 - Arrive at law school steps. See a chunky boy of 12 years drinking hot chocolate out of a styrofoam cup with a spoon. He has the hot chocolate all over his face. There are big spots of it everywhere.

1:45 - Arrive at law school

1:46 - Begin scratching nose to try and cover the discoloration on my nose (It doesn’t work)

1:47 - Realize I am still a very vain and shallow man.

1:50 - Sit down to study in student lounge

1:52 - Hear dog barking. Realize there is a dog in a girl’s purse not three feet from me. The dog is staring at me. I think it is possessed.

1:55 - Hear the dog’s name. It is Halo. Wish it was named after the video game, but realize it is probably the halo that angels wear.

2:15 - The dog gets out of the purse. It is wearing a shirt. The shirt is neon green with pink trim. I throw up in my mouth.

2:30 - 12 year old boy with hot chocolate all over his face comes into student lounge. He must be a professor’s son. He still has the hot chocolate on his face.

2:34 - I wonder why he was drinking it with a spoon. Think to myself how weird kids are.

2:35 - 2:39 - Moment of enlightenment as I think to myself how the 12 year old boy and I both share the same unpleasant discoloration on our faces. He is oblivious. I try to hide my scars. In many ways we are all the same and he has taught me that pity physical deformations are frivolous and matter not to the greater cause that exists on our earth. We are all connected. Gelly, Stevie the Amazon Nerd, Metal Pole, Preggy, Hot Chocolate Boy, and Me. Wow, these people aren’t so different from me. I am them and they are me. I must develop this.

2:40 - Ah fuck it. I go to I check the Iverson trade rumors and forget what I was thining.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

What's More Fun Than Studying?

This is more fun than studying.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Matt Painter and the Return of the Boilermakers

These are my top 10 college basketball coaches. In compiling this list, I took into consideration a number of factors:
-success: wins and losses and consistency
-recruiting: ability to attract top flight talent and, for those coaches not
fortunate enough to coach at UNC or UCLA, ability to find talent in unusual places
-X’s and O’s
-player development
-Tom Crean factor: if you’re name is Tom Crean, you get bonus points
It should be noted that this is a ranking of the top 10 college basketball coaches right now. In other words, I’m looking at where these programs are headed, mindful of where these coaches have been. Obviously, if I was ranking the Top 10 greatest active coaches based on their entire careers, Ben Howland wouldn’t be number 1, Rick Pitino would have cracked the top 10, and Thad Matta wouldn’t even be on this list.
Here we go.

1) Ben Howland—UCLA
The guy built Pittsburgh’s program and rebuilt UCLA’s. He may not have any championships, but it’s just a matter of time. The most amazing thing about the turnaround at UCLA is the change in culture around that program. Watching the Bruins during the Lavin era was pathetic: five NBA-level athletes jacking up fade-away jumpers, posturing for the media, and playing matador defense. I don’t know of a single player that actually got better under that idiot. Under Howland: five NBA-level athletes playing as a unit. I can promise you that placing Howland at #1 has nothing to do with UCLA’s current ascendance in the polls. Rather, it has to do with a combination of things. His teams are always prepared. They play hard-nosed basketball, a rarity for a team with so much talent. At Pitt, he had a point guard, three two-guards, and an overweight tweener scrapping against more talented opponents. At UCLA, he’s got four thoroughbreds and that Lorenzo Mata guy. Also favoring Howland, UCLA is, well, UCLA. And it’s in L.A., so the players are going to keep coming. Combine these factors with the fact that his players seem to actually enjoy playing for him and Ben Howland is Jim Calhoun with a likable personality.

2) Roy Williams—North Carolina
Runs a classy program. This is truly becoming his program, which is weird for me because I really liked Roy at Kansas. Honestly, this is one of only a handful of guys that could possibly coach in the Dean Dome. His players genuinely seem to enjoy playing for him, and there seems to be no shortage of talent eyeing a career in Chapel Hill. Plus, the NBA is dotted with his former players.

3) Thad Matta—Ohio State
The man can recruit, but the most impressive thing about Thad Matta is the way his teams performed in his first two seasons in Columbus. He came into a pretty average program and won the Big 10 championship in his second season. And he’s won everywhere he’s coached. The recent successes of the Butler and Xavier programs, two teams off to great starts this year, have a lot to do with Thad Matta. Now Matta has talent, and the sky’s the limit. Despite how great he is as a recruiter, the guy might be just as good with the X’s and O’s.

4) Jim Calhoun—UCONN
It takes a lot for me to put Calhoun this high on the list. Despite my general dislike of the man, he obviously deserves the ranking. He recruits top-flight talent, AND he finds unheardofs and turns them into NBA lottery picks. Plus, with the exception of one Rudy Gay, the man knows how to develop a ball player. My only gripe: there never seems to be much joy in it. Not for him. And not for his players. You’d think his players were laboring away in the gulags the way they carry themselves on the floor. And I’m taking points off for constantly catering to players of questionable character. Marcus Williams comes to mind.

5) Mike Krzyzewski—Duke
How can Coach K be rated this low? I used to defend Coach K against his detractors that called him a whiner and a son of a bitch. I can’t anymore, since I’m pretty convinced he’s an asshole. Basically, I am sick of the whining. I’m sick of his holier than thou demeanor. I do respect the fact that he seems to run a clean program and seems to take academics relatively seriously. (Although at this point it seems silly to even make mention of academics in the same context as college basketball.) And though I think he’ll continue to win games and probably another championship, Coach K is on his way down. With Roy Williams right across the road, Duke’s going to lose recruits to the Tar Heels. And if I was a high school prospect, I’d watch the way Coach K gets in his players’ faces. How he hasn’t gotten his ass kicked I don’t know. Oh wait, I do know. He recruits people like Cherokee Parks and Josh McRoberts. Honestly, Coach K is looking more like Bobby Knight all the time, and at Awesome USA, that’s not a good thing.

6) Mark Few—Gonzaga
How can Mark Few be rated this high? Well, he’s built a basketball powerhouse in Spokane. They routinely beat up on the Goliaths of college basketball. So often, in fact, that it’s become more than a little ridiculous to refer to the Zags as Cinderellas every March. I’m not convinced Few would be as successful at a Michigan State or even a Wake Forest, but that doesn’t matter. He’s been extremely successful in Spokane, and college basketball is better for it. He’s an X’s and O’s guy, a player’s coach, and an incredible spotter of basketball talent that too often gets overlooked by the Coach Ks of the world.

7) Lorenzo Romar—Washington
Ten years ago, who would have thought that the Washington Huskies would be relevant in the world of college basketball? Romar has made Washington a Pac-10 power and a legitimate national title contender. His players work their asses off and seem to have fun doing it. Romar is an excellent recruiter. This much has been acknowledged. But there’s something else. For at least a decade now we’ve heard about the importance of having black coaches on staff to recruit black athletes. In fact, there were those who actually said that it would be difficult for white coaches to land the top-notch black recruit. While this prediction hasn’t proven particularly accurate, we are seeing the inability (or possibly, the unwillingness) of black coaches to recruit white athletes. Not so for Romar. After landing Jon Brockman and Spencer Hawes, two of the most coveted white prospects in the nation in the past two recruiting classes, Romar has shown he is more than willing to “integrate” his recruiting strategy. Finally, Romar also seems to be adept at developing his talent. Brandon Roy entered the NBA draft last year as perhaps its most polished prospect.

8) Tom Crean—Marquette
I admit that I love Tom Crean. He should be coaching the Hoosiers right now. That being said, please allow me to defend this pick. Crean is a premier X’s and O’s guy. Marquette basketball is smart basketball. While by no means as formulaic as Bobby Knight’s offense or as free-wheeling as Jim Boeheim’s “every man for himself” scheme, Crean’s players pick their spots, alternately attacking and looking for the open man. The result: an offense as balanced (disciplined yet spontaneous) as any in the nation. Moreover, his teams win with or without talent. His Golden Eagles were picked to finish 12th in the Big East last season. They finished 4th and made the NCAA tournament. Anybody that watched any Marquette basketball last year knew that this was a feat in itself. He also does an excellent job of finding talent where others fail to look. However, the days of beating the bushes for talent may be coming to an end. The 2006-07 Golden Eagles may just bring Crean the national attention he deserves. (By the way, Dominic James is the second coming of Jameer Nelson.)

9) John Calipari—Memphis
I don’t like John Calipari. I’m pretty sure Calipari is crooked. However, talented young men across the nation like to play for him. And when he doesn’t attract enough of these talented young men, he sends his ace recruiters out, and they uncover rock and stone to find guys who can jump out of the gym and dribble penetrate a 2-3 zone with little to no effort. Additionally, his teams are consistent. To be fair, it’s not hard to be consistent in the watered-down C-USA. To Calipari’s credit, he coaches to his players’ strengths. Anyway, Calipari is a cross between Bob Huggins and Rick Pitino, and he deserves to be on this list much to my chagrin.

10) Bruce Weber—Illinois
I don’t mean this in a sexist way at all. However, if you watch an Illinois basketball game with a female, I guarantee that that female will point out that Bruce Weber seems like a nice man. By the end of the game, said female will have fallen for Coach Weber and will keep talking about how sweet he seems. The reason why this isn’t a sexist observation: because we’re all thinking the same things. We’re just far too insecure to say it. If I was a college basketball player, this is the man I would want to play for. I think he does things the right way. He is proof that you don’t have to physically or verbally abuse your players to get them to play hard. His teams play an exciting brand of basketball, and they win games.

3 coaches on the rise:

1) Billy Donovan—Florida
Before people criticize me for not putting Donovan in the Top 10, remember a few things:
a) how soft his Florida Gators have been over the past four or five years (with the exception of last year)
b) how little his players have developed under his tutelage (David Lee comes to mind)
c) how little defense the Gators have played under Donovan (if you can even call what has been going on in Gainesville defense)
That being said, things have obviously changed in Gainesville. Another year similar to the last and I’ll begrudgingly give Billy a spot in the Top 10.

2) Mike Anderson—Missouri
Nolan Richardson without all of the crazy. His 40 minutes of hell defense is simply amazing to watch. At Missouri, he basically gets to run the same defense he ran down at UAB with the same caliber athletes. Only now some of his players can actually hit an open jump shot. And with the decline of the Big 12 (which I am predicting will begin this year), Anderson and his Tigers just may get some well-deserved national attention.

3) John Thompson III—Georgetown
Why does JT3 seem so much smaller than his dad? It’s almost like Jumping Bull and his moose of a father. Anyway, watching Allen Iverson University run the Princeton offense is like seeing Karl Malone driving down the highway in a semi-truck on his way to deliver thirty head of cattle to man named Tex who lives in Reno. And by the way, Karl is wearing a cowboy hat and a Big Johnson shirt. And Karl Malone is a millionaire, but he likes to do menial tasks because it makes him feel like he is alive. Oh wait, nevermind, Karl Malone is really weird and actually does stuff like that.

3 coaches on the decline:

1) Tubby Smith—Kentucky
Still a Top 20 coach…I think. I’m just not really sure what’s going on when I watch UK anymore. If you watch Tubby, it’s like he blacks out for minutes at a time. Really bizarre. A few years ago, Tubby was a Top 5 coach. That was before he found that special something in Sheray Thomas that no one else has found.

2) Tom Izzo—Michigan State
I almost put him in the Top 10. It’s just that I feel like he’s become really bitter and kind of weird. When he’s coaching, it’s almost like he’s thinking, “God, I’m not fooling anyone anymore. Not even myself. I better schedule one of those crazy basketball practices in football pads. That always works.” Seriously though, that may not have made a lot of sense, but I think this guy is headed toward a breakdown.

3) Rick Pitino—Louisville
This one hurts. I’m a Louisville fan, and I really don’t think anyone on the Top 10 would do any better at Louisville, but Pitino was an icon at UK. Even during his first few years at UofL, Pitino was larger than life. He’s not anymore. He’s still a great coach. In fact, he’s probably my #11, but he’s fallen from where he was. That being said, Pitino can still recruit and, if he could just stop trying to top Tubby Smith for the most random substitution patterns award, he’ll be just fine.

Alright, please feel free to attack me, but leave Tom Crean out of this.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Pipe Dreams Dad, I'm a Barber's Son

It's finally over. Well, not really over, but my first law school final is out of the way. This leaves only three more grueling, self-depracating tests left before Christmas Break. As many of the law students celebrated today and are eagerly awaiting next Thursday, when they finally can say they are done, I've come to one conclusion: These are pipe dreams Dad, I'm a barber's son.

Our Torts final this morning was a three hour exam that should have started at 9am. Rather, it started at 9:30 due to the insanely retarded questions everyone had to ask. These questions were so unbelievably retarded that I can't even explain them in words, but trust me. If these questions went to my highschool they would have spent most their day chucking basketballs at the ceiling of the gym and lighting themselves on fire.

The Torts final was a bruiser. A 3rd down running back. Not flashy, won't win you style points. It doesn't have the Heisman highlight clip or make the ESPN top ten. It beats you up for three hours and at the end you just let it run you over. That's the only way I can explain it right now. I have a headache, a toothache, an earache and blood streaming from my eyes. In other words, law school finals are the equivolent of a handjob from Jumping Bull. So the contest seems sort of meaningless to me right now.

But at least I'm not Tony Romo. That guy has it rough. Signed by the Dallas Cowboys as an undrafted free agent from a jackass university then move into the starting spot where you go 5-1 and start dating Jessica Simpson. Wow, this guy leads a pretty shitty life. He even has Michael Irvin alleging that Romo's ancestors must have mated with African-Americans for him to be this athletic. From everything I understand this is the greatest compliment to a third generation Mexican-American.

In fact, thinking about Tony Romo makes me want to stick it out in law school. Some people just aren't as lucky as others. I get to spend hours in a cramped law library and he has to throw touchdown passes, pass for a black guy, and have sex with Jessica Simpson. I feel for ya, Romo. I can only hope that somehow someway Antonio Romo will get to experience law school in the next life, because he's really missing out. Poor Antonio, having to listen to Jessica Simpson occasionally speak in between hours and hours of sex.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Why The South Will Never Rise Again...Thank God

Not to run hog wild with the whole YouTube thing, but last night I was prepared to make this post in case Florida didn't get the Championship Game bid. I was going to make some comment like: "This is why the SEC gets screwed over every year." Anyway, this guy dances at Arkansas Razorback sporting events. Enjoy. He's an idiot.

Law school finals are kinda like....

Since each of our esteemed contributors are in some stage of their law school career, I felt that this would be an opportune time for each of us to express our feelings on finals. I invite all of our readers to share their feelings on finals during this glorious time of year.

If you couldn't guess by watching this video, for me at least, taking law school finals are kinda like falling asleep at the wheel without my seat belt on, getting in a horrible crash, and ending up in the backseat as a fat guy with a bad haircut.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Psycho T v. Randy Morris

In a battle between one of the best centers in college basketball and one of the most underachieving centers in college basketball, many UK players were quick to point out Psycho T's seven point production versus Randy Morris' 23 point performance. Bobby Perry: "He showed who is the best big man in that matchup." But I have a bit of advice for Bobby and the rest of the UK team: Shut the fuck up, we still lost.

Some key points in yesterday's game:

1. Psycho T was double-teamed, and on occasion triple-teamed, every time he touched the ball. Randy Morris might have been double-teamed once.

2. Randy only took three or four shots within the designed offense in the 2nd half. This was after shooting 6 for 6 in the first half. There were at least five times I jumped out of my chair and shouted, "Throw him the fucking ball!" It's not often Randy works for good position inside. I'm not even sure if he was working for it yesterday, or North Carolina just realized we weren't going to throw him the ball.

3. Randy did show an impressive range of offensive moves. Joe and Ramel displayed an overall retardation for understanding the game of basketball. When I was 10 years old I knew if I threw the ball in the post to Wes Overton or Justin "Wiggins" Brown consistently, eventually things would open up for me to bank in awkward looking threes that made my Dad bury his face in his hands.

4. Bobby Perry's comment genuinely seemed as if no one really cared that we lost by 12. I pictured Kentucky's players almost celebrating with Randy in the locker room about how he dominated Psycho T, while Psycho T laughed with his teammates, saying, "Man, those fucking idiots concentrated on me so much you guys got to shoot open threes all day long. That was fucking awesome."

5. Ramel Bradley cannot play in big games

6. Was this even a big game? North Carolina's fans acted like they were at Dean Smith's funeral.

7. The only highlight I saw for UK was the small scuffle at half court when Bobby Perry got tangled up with some long, athletic shooter from North Carolina. By the way, I think this is one of the worst rules in college basketball. Apparently, if you aren't on your feet anywhere on the court, any player from the opposing team can jump on you and wrestle you for the ball. You still have possession of the ball, because you can still travel when you are sitting on the floor. This makes for sloppy plays and limits the Magic Johnsonesq plays of sitting on the floor and bouncing the ball between a person's legs to Kurt Rambis for a dunk.

All in all, I do think this team is better than last year's. But as Runs said last night we are getting outcoached on and off the court. Tubby's players aren't prepared going into a game and lose focus throughout the game. We had some success with the press late in the game, but the players weren't prepared at all to play from behind with 5 minutes left in the game. Ramel still walked the ball up the court, and we looked completely disfunctional in our half court offense. We should have drawn up simple plays to make one or two passes into Randy and let him go. Instead, we made eight or nine passes and let someone go one on one from the outside. Ramel and Joe started their penetration ten feet behind the arc allowing Brandon Wright to casually walk over to block Ramel's shot and Frazor to size up the student section and choose which girl he was going to sleep with that night while in position for a charge.

If there was a Wonderlic test for basketball, our team average would be an 11. And that's with Tubby taking Joe and Ramel's test for them.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Ron Mexico is not a passing quarterback

I have been in an extensive meeting with Leonard Peltier regarding the gag order recently placed on Thelonius Monk. Before Thelonius came to Awesome USA, this blog was relatively restrained in its lewdness and sexual references. Thelonius came and changed all of that. Our first response was to criticize this brash young contributor. Just as Isiah Thomas tried to freeze Michael Jordan out of the All-Star game so many years ago, so Awesome USA tried to restrain Thelonius. But, it's time to rectify the situation. Last night Leonard and I reviewed Thelonius' old posts on Codpieces. The result: we laughed our asses off and realized that trying to make Thelonius' posts like those of the other Awesome USA contributors is akin to trying to make Michael Vick a passing quarterback. Michael Vick is not a passing quarterback. In fact, what keeps Michael Vick from being a passing quarterback is exactly what makes him special. We realize that now. So, the gag order is off. Be lewd. Be crude. Let the man juice rain come down and cover us in all of its glory. The guantlet has been thrown. We eagerly await your next offensive, cringe-inducing post.
Our apologies,

Jim Brown will whip your ass

Of all of the athletes in the history of American sports, few confuse me more than Jim Brown. (Others that confuse me: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Larry Bird, and Steve Young) In fact, he may be to sports what Marlon Brando was to acting. And for those of you who know me, that means I love Jim Brown, not in spite of, but because of his quirks.
Brown competed in both football and lacrosse at Syracuse. And while he is mainly known for his career as a Cleveland Browns running back, some have argued that he was even more talented at lacrosse. (He is in the lacrosse, pro football, and college football halls of fame.) He retired prematurely from the NFL after just 9 seasons. After his playing days ended, he acted in a number of horrible movies but continued to consider himself a serious and remarkably talented actor. That's one thing he has in common with Brando: Neither ever recognized the ridiculousness of their actions. They both took themselves seriously at all times. Apparently, in the early 1980s, Pittsburgh Steelers running back Franco Harris was threatening to break Jim Brown's career rushing record, and Brown actually contemplated returning to the NFL to defend his record because he did not like Harris' tendency to run out of bounds to avoid hits. (Eventually, Walter Payton broke his record, and Brown did not come out of retirement.)

So, why this post right now? Well, I was watching Stephen A. Smith's Quite Frankly at about 5 in the morning a couple of nights ago. (A note about Stephen A. Smith: I actually argued with the other contributors about Stephen A. Smith when he first hit the scene a few years ago. Most of the Awesome USA staff members told me that Stephen A was an absolute moron and that his arguments consist of nothing more than him yelling at his opponents. Being the contrarian that I am, I defended Stephen A. as a passionate defender of the modern athlete. Today, I can admit that I was wrong. Stephen A. Smith is horrible. No one likes him. His arguments are barely intelligible, and he would rather devour his own children than admit he's wrong.)

Anyway, Stephen A. was doing a show on some controversial new book on the legacy of Muhammad Ali. (I'm sure Thelonius Monk will reply to this post in defense of Mr. Clay.) Anyway, the book apparently disputes the heroic image we all have of Ali. The author argues that Ali was manipulated by the Nation of Islam and its leader, Elijah Muhammad. He also points out Ali's unfair treatment of Joe Frazier and his failed relationships with his numerous wives.

Back to Jim Brown. Stephen A. had like 4 or 5 panelists discussing the book, one of which was Jim Brown. All of them, except for maybe one guy, seemed more than willing to acknowledge that this supposedly controversial book had some worth and that, like all humans, Ali had flaws. While the panelists were more than capable of having a civil discussion on the topic, Stephen A. was gettting frustrated by the panelists' refusals to attack the author. At one point in the program, Stephen A. launched into an assault on the author's view that Ali was a racist and makes a comment about "White America vs. Black America" during the civil rights era. He goes to Jim Brown for support, but Brown snaps at Stephen A., saying that a number of white college students risked their careers during the civil rights era for equality and an end to discrimination. Stephen A. presses the matter, as if he can't believe Jim Brown won't say that every white American hated blacks during the 60s. Brown then proceeds to lecture Stephen A. on the realities of the civil rights movement. At one point, he says something to the effect of, "Bobby Kennedy was a friend of the black man!" The way he said it, it was almost like in the scene from Ricky Bobby where Michael Clarke Duncan's character says to Ricky Bobby, "Don't you put that evil on me, Ricky Bobby!"

I'm starting to think that this post was a mistake. I just wish everyone could have seen Quite Frankly just this once. After Brown's civil rights lecture, Stephen A. seemed more than a little gun shy for the rest of the program, which is saying something in and of itself.

Jim Brown also briefly talked about his relationship with both Ali and Martin Luther King, Jr. Everytime I see Brown on a talk show, I always think, "Man, this guy wearing that little African-themed beanie has some pretty good ideas." Still, I can't take him seriously. Kind of like Marlon Brando. I think it's because he's so full of himself. The following is an interview that I think will happen someday.

Interviewer: Who do you think had a bigger impact on the American civil rights movement, Martin Luther King, Jr. or Malcom X?

Jim Brown: Jim Brown

I: Who is the greatest actor of all time?

JB: Jim Brown

I: Who is the greatest athlete of all time?

JB: Jim Brown

I: Who has been the most influential person of the last 1,000 years.

JB: Jim Brown, damnit.

One last thing: In this controversial new book, the author apparently adopts the notion that the Nation of Islam was behind the murder of Malcom X. At the beginning of the show, Stephen A. listed this as one of the more controversial claims made by the author, but the panelists pretty much ignored this part of the book during their discussion. When Jim Brown was finally brought into the conversation via satellite, one of the first things he says, pretty much out of nowhere, is something like, "If you think the Nation of Islam had Malcom X killed, then you need to do some more research." And he had this look on his face as if to say, "I know who killed Malcom X, but nobody else is ever going to know who done it." It's not that this was a funny moment or anything, I just thought it was really weird and kind of creepy.

So, what I'm trying to say is this: There are only a few people in this world that I want to like me. One of them is Jim Brown. In fact, I often think of how great it would be if Jim Brown was from my hometown. Because if he was and if I was a little boy, he would put me on his shoulders at the high school football game and walk me around. It would be packed and hard to move, and he would shove people out of the way and say things like, "Get the hell out of my way. The king is coming through. The king and his little prince."