Here's hoping those of you who decided to drive to work this morning aren't reading this on your phone at the body shop...or side of the road. Sounds like it was a pretty nasty communte this morning.
I can assure you the track from my bedroom to the living room office was treacherous as well due to some shoes left in the walkway, but I survived. Working from home definitely has its advantages on days like this.
--- Some honest talk about these slow starts occurred at Thursday's media availability. Mick Cronin sounded even closer to a lineup change than we've seen all season. Obviously, missed shots rest at the foundation of the conversation. He mentioned the playing time for Ibrahima Thomas -- "the biggest culprit," as Cronin said -- being cut back. That would open the door, especially against a smaller St. John's team, for a smaller lineup that moves Rashad Bishop to the 4 and starts smoking-hot Sean Kilpatrick at the 3.
That's more speculation as Cronin again didn't address any specific changes.
--- Containing St. John's this weekend will begin with containing Dwight Hardy, their electric point guard.
Bill Raftery gave the "Lingerie!" call because of the game-winning move he put on Georgetown and kid can flat out attack the tin.
With some of the on-the-ball inconsistencies we've seen from Cash Wright this year, you would think that could be an issue, but Cash really stepped up when challenged by Tu Holloway . The two have similiar games, though Holloway gets to the FT line more.
If Wright and the defense can bottle Hardy as they did Holloway it will be a huge step toward a huge win for UC.
--- For those of you who tried to wash this from your memories, Hardy gave UC fits last year. He matched his then career high of 19 points and hit the tying and winning free throws for an improbable 52-50 win against UC.
I still look back at the STJ game as one of the turning points of last year's season. It was one of the many games UC had won but couldn't close out in Big East play. But it seemed the most brutal because of the fashion in which the game unraveled in the final seconds.
A win in Queens this year could have the opposite rallying effect this season.
--- Justin Brownlee, the other key player for the Johnnies, has been as consistent as any player in the Big East his year. He's scored in double figures in nine consecutive games and all but two this season.
When Brownlee is at his best, the Red Storm are as well. He had 15 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists and only 1 turnover in the win against Georgetown.
--- Some KenPom fun. His winning percentage predictions for the rest of the season have some more likely than others for the Bearcats. For instance, his statistical analysis gives UC a 15 percent chance of winning at Pitt but an 88 percent chance of winning at DePaul.
Actually, all but two games have the winning percentage greater than a 60-40 split in either direction the rest of the way. Those two? Saturday at St. John's (50-50) and home against Louisville Feb. 16 (UC 53 percent).
These stats mean little more than fodder around the nerdery at the next binary code convention, but do serve as a complicated way of saying Saturday will be one of the two most up-for-grabs games on the schedule. When you are talking about the difference between making the tournament or not being as slight as 10-8/9-9, well, that pretty much sums up the importance of those two games.
--- Coaches love to play one game at a time. The media doesn't. I can't help but look at the possibilities of what a win against St. John's would mean for this team.
A win would move UC to 4-3 in the BE, then a home game against Rutgers should be a win before they host West Virginia. The Mountaineers own a nice win at Georgetown, but outside of that -- like most in the Big East -- have struggled away from home. They nearly lost at DePaul, 67-65, fell to Marquette and just lost on a neutral floor to Marshall. Plus, Mick Cronin has traditionally seen this team play Bob Huggins team's well since Huggs returned to the Big East.
In theory, that could leave UC at 6-3 through the first half of the Big East schedule. An accomplishment to be sure. These are not daunting tasks. This is not asking the Cats to win in the Carrier Dome. A few small wins and this team will be sitting in the driver's seat with only a few more exits till Tourneytown.
Of course, that all hinges on Saturday at St. John's.
--- How about some randomness...
--- I really wish stories about people saying the world is going to end in 2012 would stop popping up.
--- 2011: Year of the Homeless. Who knew?
For the rest of their life, these two will be like cats and dogs, living together, mass hysteria.
--- You know that scholarship we gave you and how you have dedicated so much of your valuable time to here, well, we are cutting the program. And if anybody from the media should want to talk to you about us ripping your livlihood away, we'd prefer you let our staff handle that.
--- I know it may not be for everyone, but I still say Community is the funniest show on TV right now. It returned from break last night as strong as ever.
--- Seventeen facts you didn't know about Seinfeld. "The second button is really the key button. It makes or breaks the shirt."