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Last Fredo Standing and Other Stuff

And then there was Fredo. Midway through the Sweet Sixteen round of the NCAA tournament, the ACC is down to one team left. Interestingly enough, that sole survivor is conference new guy Boston College . As the Eagles prepare to attempt to uphold ACC honor and advance against old foe Villanova of the Biggie East, it really must be said: Thank goodness for ACC expansion, eh, Tudor?

Fredo becomes the last ACC team left alive after the unceremonious dumping from the tournament of Duke. The Devils were bounced by LSU, as Duke’s lack of athleticism finally was exposed by somebody able to exploit it. This had been predicted back in December. I really should have paid more attention to what I had written when I filled out my brackets.

For all of the hype and expectations that surrounded this Duke team, it was hardly a vintage one. That they spent most of the season at #1 in the polls and were considered the team to beat in this year’s tournament until they were beaten says much about how NBA bling has watered down college basketball. There are no longer any great teams at the collegiate level. There aren’t any at the professional level, either, as that same exodus from campuses to Lincoln-Mercury dealerships and jewelry stores has created an NBA full of guys who have neglected to learn the basic basketball skills taught in college.

The 06 Devils were a pale imitation of the ones that collected back-to-back NCAA titles in 91-92. Shelden Williams was no Christian Laettner and Josh McRoberts won’t be around Methodist Flats long enough to become one. JJ Redick, for all of the Great White Hype, would not have been able to dislodge Thomas Hill or Bryan Davis from the starting 91-92 lineups; both had much more well-rounded games than the Roanoke Rifle. There was no Grant Hill or even Shane Battier, who literally willed Duke’s 01 championship. That role might have fallen to Luol Deng, but he was spending his second year in the NBA instead of his third at Duke.

That Fredo is left to carry ACC hopes is very much a function of NBA early-entry. Deng, Shaun Livingstone, Carolina ’s quartet of May, Felton, McCants and Williams and even Chris Paul and Jarrett Jack would have made for a much different ACC season and NCAA Tournament. That Carolina got bounced by George Mason, of all people and Coach K was fielding a team revolving around a slow white guy is indicative of the way of the current college world. CBS is no doubt thrilled.

The Eye now gets to showcase not Carolina steam-rolling towards another Final Four but George Mason and Wichita State . Well, showcase might not be exactly the right way to describe a game sent to only 13% of the nation. That guarantees pretty good ratings for non-Cinderella’s Fredo and Nova. The folks writing the checks to the NCAA seem to be taking a dim view of this year’s Mid-Major Madness.

Being among the not-so-silent minority that will get the Shocking Patriots game, I plan on spending the time not glued to the television but instead carrying the Teacher out to dinner. Considering the trouble she is having getting around, I will be doing just that. I suspect we will not be the only people in the heart of ACC Country doing something other than watching non-ACC teams playing.

Of course, even if WDBJ were presenting me with Fredo, I would likely still be heading out. It just ain’t the same as the Heels. Conference pride trumps that for the state and, in any event, the denizens of NOVA often act like they are in a different one from we south-landers. I will return the favor.

With Tudor’s pre-expansion ‘real’ ACC having been wiped off the Tournament board, causing interest from at least one of his despised ‘new’ ACC fans to wane considerably, it might be time to get in some early Dead Zone activities, such as taking a look around. The state of Kansas is an interesting place to start.

Bob Huggins has been hired as the new coach at Kansas State . No matter what the guys such as Thuggy Bear have done before or what kind of reputation precedes them there is always somebody else around who will hire them again. Even Jerry Tarkanian found work after Vegas.

I confess to not being quite as up on what goes on in Sunflower sports circles as I might be, but do wonder if there might be some parallels between this and what we see one state south of mine. I’m guessing there might be some wealthy alums of K-State who have grown quite weary of losing to Kansas in Basketball. Weary enough to overlook the considerable baggage train that will accompany Huggins to Manhattan .

Or, given the promises that he no doubt made about beating the hated Jayhawks, they don’t care. So what if their players will no longer graduate, spend time not in class but terrorizing real students around campus, often with guns as they rob them and an extended NCAA probation will be right around the corner? Beating Kansas is, after all, what counts. Are you paying attention, NC State?

Kansas State AD Tim Weiser looks to be a real prize. First he hires somebody off of algroh’s staff to finish the job of wrecking Bill Snyder’s once-proud program and now he resurrects Bob Huggins. When Weiser moves on in what I guess will be very soon, he should leave great things behind.

The next glance is taken at the south end of the ACC. Down in Miami , Larry Coker is using Spring Practice to introduce some new assistants. Frank Beamer is doing the same at Tech, but the circumstances are a little different in Canes-land. While Frank replaced guys who moved on in search of opportunity, the new guys at Miami are there because Coker cleaned house. Three losses each of the last two seasons is deemed unacceptable in Coral Gables . Coker responded to the noose tightening around his neck by blaming his staff and firing them. The new hires should prove to be a perfect fit.

Let’s see, there is new OC Rick Olson, who has been bouncing on and off the Canes staff for years under several coaches. Olson is known for running a one-back offense that emphasizes the passing game. He should no doubt work well with new QB coach Todd Berry, who spent many years running a wishbone spread offense at Army that never passed, or won much. They should combine for some interesting game plans. They will be enjoyed greatly by Butch Davis while he is biding his time in the football purgatory known as Idaho .

The NCAA Tournament is heading to the Final Four, which, along with the upcoming Spring games, means the Dead Zone is fast approaching. The dreary Dead Zone is brightened as various alumni groups hold activities. Such will be the case in Richmond .

I am reliably informed that the Richmond Chapter of the Virginia Tech Alumni Association will be holding their annual Spring Fling and Wine Festival on Saturday, June 10 at the Columbian Center on Pump Road in Henrico County . At first glance, it would seem that the Richmond Hokies holding a wine festival would indicate they have succumbed to the heavy Hoo presence in Richmond or they are using the $20 admission fee to grab some scholarship money for Tech freshmen from Hoo buddies.

Personal experience has taught me that the Richmond Hokies are terrific folks. I greatly enjoy their company and you will too. I recommend attending. After all, the Clubhouse Tailgate, not noted for heavy wine consumption, will be in attendance. Come join the fun.

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