Bubble Breakdown Pod

Today on the show, Brad and Kevin go through the bubble to try to sort through which teams deserve a chance to dance the most. With less than a week until March, it’s a perfect time to talk about some of the mid-majors with a chance to dance and what some floundering Power 5’s need to do to find their way into the field.

They take a list of 30 teams that are on the bubble right now and divide them up: 15 in, 15 out. The answers may surprise you!

Column: #FireMooneyMafia Goes Too Far With Billboard

By Kevin Sweeney

For better or for worse, the social media era in sports gives fans a voice they never had before. Look no further than the mob (let’s call it what it was) that stopped Tennessee’s football program from hiring Greg Schiano as head coach last winter.

Check Twitter after an embattled coach loses a big game, and you’ll see the replies to a beat writer’s tweet or the official team account saying that the coach needs to be fired (sometimes in far less kind terms than that). If you are active in the world of Atlantic Ten basketball Twitter, chances are you’ve seen the @FireMooneyMafia account spinning virtually any Tweet into something about Chris Mooney.

The account’s bio calls itself “a group of passionate of Richmond Spiders basketballĀ #realfansĀ who demand accountability for our program.” For the most part, the account is harmless, and like accounts made by many fanbases. Fans have the right to voice their opinion about the program they love and oftentimes invest in financially.

But today, the folks behind the account crossed the line, posting a billboard that says “Save Richmond Basketball. FireMooney”.

A story by Noah Goldberg on A10Talk.com reports the Fire Mooney Mafia account took credit for the billboard, saying it was funded by “followers and fans and acquaintances we know who have shared our frustrations”.

Does Mooney deserve to be fired? Perhaps. For a coach as handsomely compensated as Mooney is, his program has struggled mightily over the last two seasons to a 23-35 record. The Spiders have won 20 or more games just twice in the last eight seasons and haven’t made the NCAA Tournament since the program’s Sweet 16 run in 2011. The Richmond program is second fiddle to VCU in that city, but it’s a good job where you can win big, and Mooney hasn’t lived up to expectations of late.

To me, this billboard crosses the line. It is simply wrong to post a billboard saying a coach should should be fired. Yes, coaches sign up for scrutiny when they take cushy gigs like this. But this crosses the line from scrutiny to straight-up disrespect. Mooney has a wife and two kids. Should they have to drive around town and see giant sign saying their husband/father should be canned? Should the players who are still fighting every game despite a rough record have to see a sign that basically says they don’t care about this team?

The billboard can only hurt the situation. Athletic Director John Hardt is obviously aware of the program’s struggles, and no AD will simply concede to a billboard in making a hiring and firing decision. In addition, the billboard will do nothing other than hurt the program regardless of whether Mooney is retained. If Mooney is kept, every opposing coach will have plenty of negative recruiting material against the Spider program. If he’s fired, prospective coaches may be less interested in the job as a result of a public move like this.

It might even fire up the current Richmond roster and help them finish strong, which could ensure Mooney is retained. Goldberg reports that the players are “furious” about the billboard.

I’m all for fans using their voice to impact the program they love, and in many cases I believe athletic directors have to do a better job communicating with their fans about the decisions they make. But this billboard does far more harm than good, and the #FireMooneyMafia should take it down.

 

DePaul Rides Reed En Route to Big East Win Over Providence

By Kevin Sweeney

It had the feeling of a different type of DePaul team.

A team that had struggled with blowing leads throughout the season held on when they faced adversity.

A team that had been beaten up on the glass just last week by this same Providence team was the aggressor on the interior and dominated the rebounding margin.

“Their frontcourt just manhandled our frontcourt,” Providence head coach Ed Cooley said.

That dominance on the inside lifted the Blue Demons to a 67-55 win Saturday afternoon over Providence at Wintrust Arena in front of a crowd of just over 5,000. DePaul was led by sophomore big man Paul Reed, who continued his dominance in Big East play with 18 points and 15 rebounds, including a huge 3-point play with 1:24 to go that sealed the win.

With four NBA team representatives on hand, Reed showed why he has perhaps the most upside of any player in the conference.

“I think the operative word is ‘potential’,” DePaul head coach Dave Leitao said on Reed. “If you ask anyone deep within our program… he’s got a really, really, really high ceiling.”

Cooley was very complimentary of Reed’s game, comparing him to former Syracuse great Hakim Warrick and calling Reed “an emerging superstar”. Still, he was frustrated with how “soft” his team played, especially on the inside.

“A Providence College team is always going to be tough. We’re always going to be physical,” Cooley said. “I just didn’t think we had that mentality today.”

The Blue Demons got off to a strong start on the defensive end, holding the Friars without a field goal for the final 7:54 of the first half to extend their lead to 10 at intermission. But PC came out energized in the opening stages of the second half, riding an assertive Alpha Diallo (15 points) and a strong performance from freshman guard David Duke (17 points) to quickly make things interesting. Less than three minutes into the second half, it was already a one possession game.

“I thought our guys were very resilient,” Leitao said. “We bent, but we never broke.”

“We had a team talk a couple days ago, and we said ‘this is it, it’s go time’,” senior guard Max Strus said postgame. “We’ve lost too many games in the second half where we blow our lead or teams extend theirs.”

It certainly seemed that Strus was fed up with his team’s inability to close games, and he set the tone in the closing minutes. After the Blue Demon lead was cut to two with under 3 minutes to play, Strus used a strong drive to the rim to score with the shot clock running down. He also hit a pair of huge threes to quell the Friar momentum in the earlier stages of the second half. The Lewis University transfer finished with 13 points and 7 rebounds.

The Blue Demons were finally able to pull away in the final minutes on a pair of old-fashioned 3-point plays by Olujobi and Reed, a fitting way to close out a game that they controlled on the inside.

DePaul moves into a tie for fifth place in the Big East at 4-6 on the season, a huge win for a team coming off three straight losses in a league where 1.5 games separates third place from tenth.

Meanwhile, it’s back to the drawing board for a Providence team that has struggled to put together consistent performances this season. The Friars fall to 3-6 in the conference, with hopes of an at-large bid melting away. But despite his frustration with his team’s performance today, Cooley seemed to still believe in his team’s chances as the season rolls into February.

“There’s a lot of basketball left to be played, and I’m pretty sure Providence College is going to have a lot to say when it’s all said and done.”