Archive for March, 2011

Solid Start

Posted in Yankees on March 31, 2011 by EAST SIDE RYNO

Isn't it Too Early for Teixeira?

Couldn’t ask for a better start to the season. Of course this game means nothing when you look at the big picture, but it’s always nice to begin the season on the right foot. Could this be the season that Teixeira hits over the Mendoza line in April? That ball he hit in the third was smoked. The Yanks will be definitely need that kind of power in the three hole in order to keep pace for the division. And how bout my man Granderson! If he hits lefties like that all year, this lineup will be lethal. Overall, that’s a great performance by the offense. I’ll take six runs on Opening Day anytime.

Sabathia wasn’t as sharp as I’ve seen in the past, but he pitched well. CC isn’t a first half pitcher, so whenever Girardi can get him to go six strong with three earned or less, that will be fantastic. We won’t expect CC to give us his eight innings with one earned until August. Even though Joba looks like he’s gained about 25 pounds this offseason, his stuff looked good. His slider was down and he was locating his fastball very well. Rafael Soriano also looked lights out. If he dominates the 8th inning, the Yanks will be in a good spot by the end of the season. And of course, Mo was Mo.

Today’s Player of the Game has to go to Curtis Granderson. With two amazing catches in center field and a nice solo shot, he deserves to be our first Player of the Game of the 2011 season. Yanks take on the Tigers Saturday at 4:10pm.

Granderson Had a Phenomenal Game in the Field and at the Plate

Here are some photos courtesy of Bellarmine, who attended today’s game:

2011 MLB Preview and Predictions by sammywestside

Posted in Yankees on March 31, 2011 by sammywestside


For the rest of Baseball's sake, we can only hope they aren't as good as advertised

Wow, I can not believe it’s opening day!

I’d love to do a more comprehensive breakdown of the upcoming season, but time is not on my side.

I’m going to quickly discuss each division and then give my predictions for order of finish and the playoffs.

NL West-

The Giants are clearly the favorites here, but there are plenty of other intriguing teams. The Padres can flat out pitch, but probably won’t be nearly as good as last year. Their lineup is even more awful now not Adrian Gonzalez is gone. The Dodgers look to have problems too, and their lineup isn’t scaring anyone either, while their pitching is certainly a strength as well. The Rockies are looking pretty good as they’ve locked up many of their young stars, but they need to pitch well to succeed this year. The Diamondbacks are still in rough shape and will likely be far below the other four teams.

Overall, I think the Giants are the best team in the division still because they can pitch so well. Pitching wins championships, fact. The Dodgers, Rockies and Padres are all decent and might very well finish at or above 500.

1. Giants 88-74

2. Dodgers 84-78

3. Rockies 83-79

4. Padres 79-83

5. Diamondbacks 64-98

NL Central-

The NL central is pretty wide open these days and a clear favorite is tough to pin down. The Cubs added Matt Garza and I really liked that move, but the rotation still has alot to prove with young arms and wildcards like Zambrano. The lineup is alright, but not much better than average. They have some big bats but just power, not average guys. The pen should be very good though. Its hard to imagine the Reds can be as good as last year. They’ll still be solid with a decent lineup and some good arms, but the rotation depth isn’t where it needs to be right now. The Astros have been pretty mediocre for a few years now and it doesn’t look good for a big rebound this year. The lineup and pitching staff look to be average at best, and that’s all the Astros can expect this year. The Brewers got Greinke and that was big, to add to a lineup that is pretty good, and the Brewers are looking pretty good this year. The Pirates, well they’re the Pirates. Young, unproven and overall just not very good. The Cardinals chances took a big blow with Wainwright going down, but they still have a solid lineup and a staff that can get it done. The Cards need some help, but they should contend.

Overall, it’s hard to not like the Brewers if Greinke and Gallardo pitch to their capabilities. They have a good lineup and have a chance to pitch well. The Reds should be around and contend, while the Cardinals too. The Cubs seem to be alright but not good enough.

1. Brewers 87-75

2. Cardinals 86-76

3. Reds 84-78

4. Cubs 82-80

5. Astros 70-92

6. Pirates 60-102

NL East-

The Phillies obviously have the rotation to die for. If they live up to the hype its hard to imagine anyone else keeping up with them. The Braves should be solid again and added a nice bat in Dan Uggla. The Marlins quietly got better, but still have some holes. The Mets are tough to pin down, they improved a bit, but need Johan Santana, and the old Johan. I really liked the Chris Young signing, and the lineup has potential to be decent. The Nationals got a bit of help with the bats but their prize and attraction Strasburg isn’t going to out there so no one cares for now.

The Phillies have to favorites with the staff, but they need to hit too and have those guys stay healthy. The Braves look pretty decent and their pitching could be surprisingly good. The Mets have the components to get better and the Marlins are quietly better too. The Nationals don’t look terrible but need to pray their pitching is better than it looks.

1. Phillies 96-66

2. Braves 88-74

3. Mets 83-79

4. Marlins 80-82

5. Nationals 70-92

AL West-

The Rangers came alive last year and look to be headed in the right direction again as favorites in the West. They can suddenly pitch, but need those guys to be as good as last year and not make it look like fluke. The lineup is good, so their fate rests in getting good pitching again. The A’s are underrated and actually look to be solid in pitching as well. The Angels have potential in their rotation, but the lineup isn’t great and the pen too. The Mariners lineup is terrible but their pitching has some potential, especially if Bedard can be great again.

Overall it’s easy to see the Rangers winning the division again, though they might not win as many games as last year. The A’s and Angels could be alright, while the Mariners could be terrible, or just ok.

1. Rangers 89-73

2. Angels 82-80

3. A’s 80-82

4. Mariners 72-90

AL Central-

You can’t help but like the rotation for the White Sox. The lineup is improved too with some big bats and the Sox look to be the front runner in the Central. The Twins look to be decent again, but they need some improvement from the rotation which has been a bunch of mediocre guys for a while now. The Tigers lineup looks very good again, but they need the pitching to back it up. The Indians and Royals look to be pretty bad this year, as both their rotations are suspect.

Overall, I like the Sox alot and the Twins and Tigers you can’t sleep on here.

1. White Sox 90-72

2. Tigers 86-76

3. Twins 84-78

4. Indians 72-90

5. Royals 66-96

AL East-

The AL East is the best division in baseball. Last year there were 4 teams that won 85 games, and its possible the division is better this year. The Red Sox might have picked up Crawford and Gonzalez, but its their pitching that might be the difference this year. The rotation has the potential to be great, and perform much better than last year when they fell the injury and struggled at times. The Yankees lineup and bullpen are the best in baseball, but they have alot of questions in the rotation. If the rotation does well, the Yankees could be great, but that’s a big if. The Rays lost some of their young pitching talent when they traded away Garza and I think that’s more important then people think. Their lineup is ok, but guys like Manny and Damon won’t be like they were in their prime. The Blue Jays still have a pretty good lineup, but they might have overachieved last year. The rotation is ok, but I expect the Jays be a bit worse then last year. The Orioles actually did the most to improve this offseason. The lineup might be old in some spots, but it has the potential to be a bit scary. If they can find some pitching, they could surprise us a bit.

1. Red Sox 94-68

2. Yankees 90-72

3. Rays 83-79

4. Blue Jays 78-84

5. Orioles 76-86

Ok, so now the playoffs…

Division Series-

Phillies over Brewers in 4

Giants over Braves in 4

Red Sox over Rangers in 4

White Sox over Yankees in 5

Championship Series-

Red Sox over White Sox in 6

Phillies over Giants in 7

World Series-

Phillies over Red Sox in 7

Looking Back at the First Year Coaches of College Basketball

Posted in College Basketball on March 30, 2011 by sammywestside

Today I’m going to review some of the first year coaching hires around college hoops. I’ll give my top ten for the year and also discuss some guys who didn’t make that list. My rankings will be based off of this season’s performances and how the future looks for the coaches.

Here’s some guys who didn’t make the list, but are noteworthy:

Fran McCaffery (Iowa)- McCaffery experienced a pretty good amount of success at Siena and took his cause west to Iowa City. The first season under McCaffery wasn’t terrible. The Hawkeyes were competitive and ended the season with a nice upset of Purdue. McCaffery can clearly coach, but he needs better players for Iowa to succeed. The future under Fran doesn’t look bad, but I don’t see any jump to the NCAA tournament in the immeadiate future.

Now that is a Blue Demon...and Oliver Purnell

Oliver Purnell (DePaul)- Oliver left Clemson for another rebuilding project in Chicago. Purnell plays a style that is perfect for taking a team from the dungeon and bringing them up to a reasonable level. Purnell is not going to take a team over the hump and he proved that at Clemson. His teams can never win in March because of the style. Its good  for teams with less talent, but it can’t win against fast athletes, even with great athletes. Purnell’s first season wasn’t good, but I do believe he’ll be alright down the line. He’s got a nice recruiting class coming in and I expect Depaul to get out of the cellar in a few years.

Tom Pecora (Fordham)- Pecora took over a struggling Fordham program and had an expected tough first year, with a few positives signs. I do think this hire could work out for the Rams down the line. Pecora built Hofstra into a viable program that is in the middle of the pack in the colonial. With some work Pecora can get Fordham out of the cellar and into atleast that pack in the A10. Fordham is a program that is better than Hofstra and in better position to succeed but Pecora will need to convince everyone of that again.

Oregon's Dana Altman

Dana Altman (Oregon)- Dana’s season isn’t over yet as the Ducks are playing Creighton in the finals of the CBI this week. Altman returned to Omaha last night against his former team of 16 years and got a nice reception despite leaving for the green in Eugene. The first season has been up and down, but overall I’d say fairly positive. The Ducks showed some improvement and will finish above 500, and could still win the CBI with two wins this week. Dana just missed out on the top ten for me.

Tony Barbee (Auburn)- What a tough year for the Tigers. Barbee is only partially to blame because the Tigers were so young and inexperienced. Barbee experienced success at UTEP and I didn’t think it was a bad hire when Auburn made it. I still believe that he can succeed but it might take a while. They need to recruit well to get things rolling, so lets see if they can make some strides next year.

Kevin Willard (Seton Hall)- It was a tough year for Seton Hall. They lost Hazell for a good portion of the year and that hurt their momentum. Despite that they had a bunch to like because they did pick up some random exciting wins. In the Big East this year we’re not sure what to think of Seton Hall, but it wasn’t awful. We’d like to see Seton Hall start to pick up some more depth and prove they can get out of that bottom part of the Big East before proclaiming Willard a winner. The Pirates have already tried a New York coach recently and it failed, but maybe that was just unlucky.

Mike Rice

Mike Rice (Rutgers)- Mike Rice I liked a bit more than Willard this year despite a slightly worse record and result. Rice’s team showed a little more consistency and improvement throughout the year. Rice was successful over a bit longer time at Robert Morris, but he still has a lot to prove on the big stage. I think Rice has a little more room to grow over Willard, but by now means am I sure he will be highly successful at Rutgers.

Jeff Bzdelik (Wake Forest)- What happened at Wake this year? Well obviously personnel was a problem, but I did not think they would be that bad. Bzdelik did nothing to give Wake fans hope, but what happened in Colorado is interesting. He did build that program back up and those guys almost made the tournament. Jeff has had success at Air Force and now kind of Colorado, so what gives with this? Overall I think Bzdelik will turn it around a bit, but I’m not sure I have the faith he can make the Wake program what it can and should be on a yearly basis. Wake is a job that should be able to lure people from some pretty good jobs, but it seems like the AD might have had an ultimatum here, being that Bzdelik and him were friends. Let’s look for Wake to improve next year as the young players get older, but Jeff has to prove to us that he can coach them up too, because it appeared neither happened this year.

Ok, so those are some important guys to mention, in no particular order. Now I move on to the ten coaches I liked the most over their first year.

10. Billy Donlon (Wright State)- Brad Brownell left for Clemson this past April and Donlon, his top assistant, took over a team that needed some help to keep up what they had done under Brownell. In his first year Donlon did well, keeping Wright State in every game and coming out with 18 wins in his rookie campaign. Donlon comes from the coaching lines of Brownell and that is something to be excited about. Wright State was quick to hire him after Brad left and there was a reason for it. I think he has a bright future ahead of him, but he needs some help on the recruiting trail.

9. Tom Herrion (Marshall)- Herrion is no stranger to success on the court. After a fairly successful four year string at the College of Charleston, he worked under Jaime Dixon at Pitt. Marshall’s successful season was overlooked this year because it wasn’t quite good enough to receive any legitimate NCAA consideration. The Thundering Hurd were good enough for a 22-12 record and might have a bright future under Herrion. If Herrion can keep up the success, then he might get calls soon.

8. Tim Cluess (Iona)- A unique hire by the Gaels paid off in the first season. Cluess spent the previous 4 years at CW Post, a division 2 school, and was extremely successful. The Gaels play tonight for the CIT title against Santa Clara and already sport a 25-11 record on the year. More impressive might be their 59 ranking in the kenpom rankings. A school that didn’t get atlarge consideration and fell barely to St. Peter’s for an automatic bid, the

Iona's Tim Cluess

Gaels are actually pretty decent. Earlier this year they went to Syracuse and almost came away with an upset before falling by six. Additionally they beat Richmond. Cluess clearly can coach and I expect him to be moving up in the world of coaching in the next few years if he can keep it up at Iona.

7. Greg Lansing (Indiana State)- Lansing took over an Indiana State program this past June after serving as an assistant for many years. The Sycamores were a 500 team last year, but made a trip to the big dance in his first year. After struggling early on in the season they turned it around in conference play and then upset Missouri State for the title in St. Louis. With a good portion of the team returning for next year, expect the Sycamores to be even better in a competitive MVC next season.

Creighton's Greg McDermott

6. Greg McDermott (Creighton)- The first season for McDermott was almost really good. The Jays were the victims of a lot of close losses, especially on the road and at the buzzer. McDermott’s son joined the team as a freshman this year and has been one of the top freshman in the country. Add in sophomore transfer Greg Echenique and the future looks bright. Next season should be be pretty good if the Jays can improve on defense a bit. McDermott has been successful at the mid major level before and looks to be on his way to a bright future at Creighton. Expect the Jays to be back on top of the Valley in the coming years.

5. Tad Boyle (C0lorado)- Boyle is connected with one of the most puzzling coaching carousels this past year. When Jeff Bzdelik left for Wake Forest Colorado was expected to be improved this year, but Boyle exceeded expectations for the Buffs. Clearly the Buffs could have been in the tournament and ended up losing in the final four of the NIT. Boyle is an interesting guy to me because is he successful from the players who were there this year, or was he a much better coach then Bzdelik who looked bad in Winston Salem this year? Tough call, but for now Boyle looks like he did a good job and will need to go get players now.

4. Donnie Jones (UCF)- Jones came from a successful run at Marshall and began his campaign in Orlando red hot. When UCF jumped out to that terrific start many had them as a top 25 team, but after dropping fast in conference USA things really went downhill. A late season surge though has once again raised optimism. Led by Sophomore Marcus Jordan, the Knights look to be headed in the right direction. With alot of resources at an up and coming athletic school, Jones and the Knights should be contenders in CUSA for years to come, unless they move up in conference affiliation of course.

3. Steve Donahue (Boston College)- The Eagles were one of the biggest surprises in the ACC this year. Expected to be bottom feeders with many players leaving last year, the Eagles ended up almost making the tournament. You can’t say anything negative about Donahue, who looked to continue his terrific coaching this year. With the right players in his system he could be giving teams fits for years to come in the ACC. One of the best hires of the year, and was clearly one of the top three hires of last year. Donahue plays a style difficult for many teams and capable of pulling many upsets, the only problem is they’ve lost to teams like Maine and Yale recently. If Donahue can figure how to avoid this ugly early losses, then the Eagles will have no problem dancing under Donahue.

Clemson's Brad Brownell

2. Brad Brownell (Clemson)- Like BC, the departure of players like NBA first round draft pick Trevor Booker, had the Tigers looking like they would struggle under Brownell in year one. After a 5-4 start nothing looked to be going right for the Tigers, but Brownell just hadn’t gotten his system in place yet. From then on the Tigers were one of the best ACC teams and ended working their way into the tournament. Enough can’t be said about how good of a coach Brownell looked to be this year, as he got the most out of his players. He needs to prove he can recruit at a high level still, but player development is one of his biggest assets. Next season might be a slight step back, as the Tigers will be very young for the next few years, but expect them to be making noise soon if Brownell isn’t scooped up by a big name school.

1. Steve Lavin (St. John’s)- Lavin might not be the x and o’s coach that Brownell is, but good can he recruit. Lavin did show us he has improved his coaching ability since his days at UCLA and he shocked us by making the Red Storm into Big East contenders in year one. With a team of almost all seniors, the Red Storm had reason to be good, and a reason to take a step back next year. The good news is he has one of, if not the best recruiting class in the Nation coming in. With almost all freshman next year we can’t expect the storm to be back in the tournament, but they won’t be terrible because of the

Steve Lavin

talent on the floor. Lavin is clearly on his way to making the Johnnies a

nationally relevent team again and if he can continue to build recruiting momentum, then they will be a staple in the tournament and at the top of the Big East once again.

Check back soon for our analysis of this years coaching changes which are happening everyday…

Ready to Go

Posted in Yankees on March 30, 2011 by EAST SIDE RYNO

You Know Swish is Ready

As Spring Training ends, let’s discuss some of the final moves the Yankees have made. Now I’m not going to talk about the obvious. I can’t tell you how many “Yankee Previews” I’ve read that discusses the Yanks’ starting lineup (no shit A-Rod is starting at third). If you’re reading this and you don’t know the starting nine for Opening Day, you probably don’t belong here:


C.C. Sabathia (21-7  3.18)

A.J. Burnett (10-15  5.26)

Phil Hughes (18-8  4.19)

Ivan Nova (1-2  4.50)

Freddy Garcia (12-6  4.64) w/ CWS

As we all know, Freddy Garcia won the job as the 5th starter. Personally, I would’ve liked to see Bartolo Colon get a shot at the 5th spot, but I’ll trust Girardi on this one. One of the guys I’m most excited about is my man Ivan Nova. If he throws like he did this spring, this rotation will be in phenomenal shape.


The Yankees head into the 2011 season with a deadly bullpen. First, the Yanks signed all-star Rafael Soriano to set up Mariano. Soriano had a fantastic season last year in Tampa Bay and should be an anchor for the pen.  David Robertson and Joba Chamberlain (big question mark this season) will have quality innings as well. Don’t forget Bartolo Colon will start off in the long-relief role while Boone Logan will be the left-handed specialist (Pedro Feliciano will start the season on the DL).

Soriano Will Anchor a Strong Bullpen


Two days ago, Jesus Montero was sent down to Tripe-A where he will begin the 2011 season. Don’t be surprised if we see him in the Majors by mid-May. Russell Martin will begin the season as the Opening Day starter while newly-acquired Gustavo Molina will start the season as the back-up (Francisco Cervelli will be out for at least a month with a broken foot). Girardi has already told to the public that Posada will not catch at all this season.

Martin will be the Opening Day Catcher


One of my favorite guys this spring was Eric Chavez. Having been injured for most of the last four years, Chavez is proving that he’s one hell of a ballplayer when he’s healthy. Eric hit .395 this spring in 43 at bats. He will back up A-Rod at 3rd base and will start occasionally at 1st.

Newly-acquired Andruw Jones will also see time in the outfield, especially against left-handers. Even though Granderson improved his numbers against lefties last season, Jones will see more action against southpaws.

Chavez Will Look to Stay Healthy and Revive His Career

If you’re a Yankees fan, you should be excited about this year. Everyone during the off-season has been critical of our team because Cashman didn’t acquire any big names. As far as I know, the Yankees still have the best lineup in baseball. We have a group of hitters who know how to succeed in New York. Are there some major questions about the starting rotation? Of course. But who doesn’t? (Yes, you too Boston).  There’s a good nucleus with this roster and we should be pumped for tomorrow. Opening Day begins tomorrow at 1pm in Detroit.

The Greatest Hit of All-Time

Posted in Not in New York on March 30, 2011 by EAST SIDE RYNO

Jesse Enns has nothing on this dude.

Click here for the Jesse Enns hit.

Here We Go Again…

Posted in College Football, Not in New York on March 29, 2011 by sammywestside

Players get PAID…and SEX!

Not bad for a 7th Round pick…are we surprised to hear Auburn, LSU and Ohio State in this story? And Michigan State, well that was a bit out of left field…

The fact is this is happening everywhere, and we don’t know how to stop it.

This is an issue that isn’t connected to some of the problems we’ve been discussing here lately. When a coach does something its a issue left to them, and their fault. It’s not necessarily the fault of coaches and administrators when someone does a money exchange like this. Sometimes they are connected, and sometimes they are not.

This is so tough to deal with and there is nothing we can do at this point.

I’m open to anyone telling me how to stop it…it happens all over, and its a huge deal.

Read the story below…

The Story


The Knicks Won?

Posted in Knicks on March 29, 2011 by EAST SIDE RYNO

For the first time in seven games, the Knicks actually won a game. With a 39 point performance by Carmelo Anthony and 20 points from Amare, the Knicks defeated the Magic in overtime by the score of 113-106. Of course the Knicks still decided not to play any defense. But Tony Douglass felt like playing some basketball scoring 16 points. The past two weeks have been so frustrating because no one, with the exception of Carmelo and Amare, wanted to play hard. Finally, Douglass gave our superstars some help offensively. Even though the Knicks beat an impressive Magic team, I still have no faith in them. It looks like the Knicks are going to be a 7-seed come the playoffs. That means they would either play the Celtics or Heat, two teams that play phenomenal defense (you think it is a coincidence that the two best defensive teams in the East are going to be the #1 and #2 seed?). With D’Antoni as the head coach, I believe this team will never find success in the playoffs.

The 2011 Knicks Could Only Wish They Were As Tough as the 1994 Squad

Like we’ve said before, defense is the key to have a championship-caliber team. With the Knicks back in the mid-90’s, defense was their priority. With Anthony Mason, Patrick Ewing, and Charles Oakley, no one came out of the paint alive. I can’t say the same about Ronnie Turiaf, Amare Stoudemire, and Shawne Williams. The 1994 Knicks also had guards that were very aggressive defenders. John Starks would stir up fights every game because he was in his man’s grill throughout the entire game. Do I see Toney Douglas in anyone’s grill? Absolutely not. So as D’Antoni continues not to make the adjustments for the defense, the Knicks will continue to lose to teams with less talent.

So for the 2010-2011 season, we have made a full circle. In the beginning, the Knickerbockers were awful starting the season off 3-8. I was calling for D’Antoni’s head by mid-November. But then Amare had his 30+ points per game streak. They climbed all the way up to seven games over .500 by mid-January. But with an awful March, the Knicks are now at a mediocre 36-38. Think about it – with all the excitement the Knicks have had throughout the year (Carmelo drama, Amare’s PPG streak, etc.), they will finish the season with an unimpressive record. Not acceptable. If the Knicks don’t improve by the end of year and play awful in the postseason, D’Antoni must go. I know that it sounds harsh given the team chemisty, but I seriously believe that he is not the coach for this team. I will never agree with his no defense philosophy. The Knicks have eight games left in the season. Tomorrow night, they take on the Nets at 7:30pm on ESPN.

NCAA Final Four: Good vs. Evil

Posted in College Basketball on March 28, 2011 by sammywestside

This year’s final four is getting alot of attention because of VCU and Butler’s inclusion, but the other side of the bracket should get attention too…for all the wrong reasons.

Kentucky and UConn have something in common besides using a shade of blue, both of their coaches are cheaters.

John Calipari and Jim Calhoun are everything that is wrong with College Basketball, and college sports in general.

The National Championship game sets up perfectly, it will be one of these two cheaters facing off against an unlikely Cinderella story.

Good vs. Evil

Cheating vs. Great Coaching

NBA Talent vs. Mid Major Talent

If you aren’t a fan of Kentucky or UConn, then you should be rooting for the winner of the Butler/VCU game next Monday, its simple. Unless you’re a cheater…

Maybe one day the NCAA will cleanup programs run by guys like Calhoun and Calipari, but for now we must knockout teams that get it done the right way, and wait for the violations to come later. Calipari has never made a final four and not had it taken away, while Calhoun is a sleazeball who finally got caught this past year, but didn’t pay nearly enough for it.

Even if VCU or Butler lose in the National Championship, they could still win it all. Think about that.

I ask one question, what is the over/under on how long it takes for the NCAA to take away this final four from Calipari?

I’d start the line at +/- 1.5 Years…

Good Job ESPN…

Posted in College Basketball on March 28, 2011 by EAST SIDE RYNO

You’re right. VCU doesn’t belong in the tournament. HA!

So Who Had VCU and Butler in the Final Four?

Posted in College Basketball on March 27, 2011 by sammywestside

Shaka Smart says we're in the final four, not Duke, not Kansas, not Ohio State, VCU is, and Butler too!

This weekend has been historic. College Basketball has changed. The ways of the past are over.

VCU and Butler are in the final four, and its not luck this time.

As each Butler and VCU have advanced through the tournament, each team played at a disadvantage the entire time. This disadvantage was in talent. While luck has its place in sport, and certainly more has been on the side of those two lately, it is not why they will play in Houston next week.

It must be coaching that is making the difference. And yes that’s very much part of it. Brad Stevens and Shaka Smart might be the two best coaches in the country, or they might not be. The fact is, they are very good.

Personally I don’t believe they are the two best, but they are in line with a growing trend in college basketball, good coaching=winning.

In the past, good coaching would only get you so far sometimes. Today, that is still the case at some schools that place in weak leagues. You can make Brad Stevens and Shaka Smart the coaches of probably 200 different schools in the country, and they won’t be able to win a game in the tournament. They’ll do better than most, but they won’t be able to overcome the lack of talent, even given the opportunity to develop it.

That is not the point though, the point is there are over 100 different teams that they could coach and succeed with.

The landscape of college hoops has changed. If you want to see what it used to look like, take a peak at Women’s College Basketball. The difference in talent between a top 5 team and one that ranks 25th in the country is enough that no level of coaching can make up for it.

In Men’s hoops that is not the case anymore. VCU and Butler will not have five first round draft picks, or maybe even anyone ever step on the floor in an NBA arena, but that doesn’t mean their players aren’t good. The personnel on those teams, and so many others around the BCS conferences and the mid majors is now leveled out so much that they can compete with the big boys.

Kansas is one of the most talented teams in America year in, year out. They spit out stars, first round draft picks all the time, but they were soundly beaten today. If VCU played Kansas 100 times, maybe Kansas would win more games, but instead of a 1 in 100 chance for VCU, they now have maybe a 35 in 100 chance or even better.

There are so many coaches out there that can recruit the best players in the country. At places like Kansas, North Carolina, Duke, Kentucky, and Syracuse you are going to have the cream of the crop every year, but that doesn’t mean that they will win.

A special blend of a team with enough talent, coaching, leadership and experience has what it takes to make it to the final four. That special blend is possible at places like Butler and VCU now because the talent level at many mid major schools is growing.

Is the Mountain West, or the Atlantic Ten, or the Horizon, or Colonial, as good of a conference as the Big East or ACC or Big Ten? No, but that doesn’t mean that someone isn’t capable of being good in one of those conferences. Each year we see controversial teams get respect playing teams all year long that they should easily beat. BYU and San Diego State this year were considered top five teams by many, but were both ousted in the sweet 16, after a fairly easy path there. Why do I mention them, because they were fakers. VCU and Butler were different, and perhaps better suited in the underdog role.

Is Butler as good as they were last year? Probably not, but they still made it back to the final four. Butler and VCU had something unique, a blend of talent found in less obvious places, great coaching, and also seniority and experience. It is no coincidence that both teams have many seniors, and also no coincidence that they challenged themselves much more than San Diego State and BYU in the non-conference schedule early on.

What does it all mean for the future?

There will still be gripes about Mid Majors vs. High Majors.

There will still be arguements about who should have gotten in.

And there will definitely be more VCU’s and Butler’s.

Was the selection committee validated now that VCU made the final four? No, they still did a bad job, but what was validated was the need to have 3 more teams in the tournament.

Maybe we could actually use a few more. Not 96, but maybe 72. The scary thing is, there are many teams in the NIT this year that probably could have won a few games in the tournament. Everyone said the bubble was so weak, but was it really because the playing field is just more even.

The bubble is not going to get better, this wasn’t a fluke. Teams are going to lose to supposed “bad” teams more and more. Teams like Kansas and Ohio State will probably not fall to them throughout the season, but they are capable.

The days of dominant teams is over, and the days of wild and crazy tournaments is upon us. 1 seeds will make the final four again one day, but its unlikely we’ll see all four of them.

The new college basketball is better, no matter what you say.

We need more and more games of David vs. Goliath. I don’t want to see the ACC-Big Ten challenge, or the Big East-SEC, I want to see the Missouri Valley-Big Ten Challenge, the Pac-Ten-Colonial, the A-10-ACC. I want to see more mid majors playing big guys. I want to see a school who wants to prove themselves (like BYU) schedule everyone they can from coast to coast. I want to see teams like Duke or Kansas go on the road out of conference to places Butler and VCU.

I want to see chaos from November to April when the buzzer sounds in the National Championship.