http://arthurjohnkyriazisgoogleblog.blogspot.com/2012/03/ncaa-bracketology-2012.html

NCAA BRACKETOLOGY FOR 2012.

Jeremy Lin doing his thing for Hahvahd Hoops 2006-2010

Jeremy Lin doing his thing for Hahvahd Hoops 2006-2010

Jeremy Lin is only the 3d player from Harvard to play in the NBA.

He was a terrific player not only at Harvard, but in the Ivies.  He established a line of records unmatched in Ivy League history, and along the way, the Harvard basketball team, which had never amounted to a bucket of warm spit until Lin and Coach Amaker arrived, found its way to the Ivy League title and the NCAA tournament.

My sons and I watched these guys, led by Lin, play a ferocious contest in the Palestra against their arch-rivals Penn in 2010, which was a double overtime contest, and as Harvard finally won, largely due to the intensity and refusal to lose of Lin, who kept penetrating, dishing off, shooting jumpers, and doing whatever it took to win, it seemed like a passing of the guard.

DP made pun of Lin's name back in 2009 at Penn

The Daily Pennsylvanian made pun of Lin's name back in 2009 at Penn, showing once again Philly was three years ahead of NYC media.

So it’s no secret why Lin is the 2d best player on the knicks in win shares per 48 minutes at .187 after Tyson Chandler’s .248; or why his PER approaching 25 leads the team.  Lin plays defense, doesn’t turnover the ball, and is efficient both on offense and defense.  Also, he hustles.  In the Ivy League, he led across a large number of categories, including points, steals, rebounds, assists, assist to turnover ration, etc. and established benchmarks for a guard across many such categories–in fact, all time records for a guard to have such all-around abilities.

What we saw, watching him two years ago, was a guy who refused to lose.  He could penetrate and score; penetrate and dish out to the three line; penetrate and dish to the man beside him after drawing the double-team;  penetrate and dish to the open man; had amazing peripheral vision; could drop the three or the jumper if left unattended; always could run the ball and locate the open man on the run; could play defense; could steal the ball; could rebound and start the break the other way; in short, he was a complete player.

And Lin never stopped to breath.  He was always in continuous motion.  Harvard had a lot of talented players, but they looked kind of confused unless Lin got them the ball and he was coordinating the offense.  He was, in short, a terrific and talented point guard who had game.

A lot of Penn players have played in the NBA, but not so much Harvard.  Hockey has always been the winter sport at Harvard, along with playing the stock market and inventing new financial instruments the SEC can’t regulate.

Three players including Lin played in the NBA:

http://www.basketball-reference.com/friv/colleges.cgi?college=harvard#stats::none

first was

Saul Mariaschin

http://www.basketball-reference.com/players/m/mariasa01.html

who was a 5 foot 11 inch player on the 1947-48 Boston Celtics.  The Celtics were in a predecessor league to the NBA, but who cares?

Here were Saul Mariaschin’s teammates on the Boston Celtics of 1947-48:

riebe_spector_sadowski_garfinkel_mariaschin_1948

riebe, spector, sadowski, garfinkel with Saul Mariaschin Harvard Grad on 1948 Boston Celtics

http://www.basketball-reference.com/teams/BOS/1948.html

Here’s another of his teammates from that legendary Celts team:

CHUCK CONNORS.  Yes, the guy who later played the RIFLEMAN on TV.  Lucas McCain himself.  And a 6’5″ grad of Seton Hall, which in 1947-48 would have made him a giant player.  And he was a CELTIC.  You can look it up.

http://www.basketball-reference.com/players/c/connoch01.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chuck_Connors

Chuck Connors was a Celtic and played with Harvard Grad Saul Mariaschin in 1947-48

Chuck Connors was a Celtic and played with Harvard Grad Saul Mariaschin in 1947-48

Chuck Connors also played baseball for the Brooklyn Dodgers!

And he was a TV Star!

Chuck Connors as Lucas McCain the Rifleman

Chuck Connors as Lucas McCain the Rifleman

Chuck Connors was a Boston Celtic and and Brooklyn Dodger

Chuck Connors was a Boston Celtic and and Brooklyn Dodger

The second player that went to Harvard and played in the NBA was

Ed Smith

Edward Bernard Smith (Ed)

Ed Smith was a New York Knick in 1953-54.  On that Knicks team, Ed played with Vince “Moose” Boryla, Nate “Sweetwater” Clifton, Al McGuire and Dick McGuire, and the famous Ernie Vandeweghe, and others well-noted.

That 1953-54 Knicks team finished 1st in the Eastern Division, going 44-28 under the helm of the legendary Joe Lapchick.  And they played in the old Madison Square Garden, which many hold in as high esteem as the old Boston Garden.

Nate "Nat" "Sweetwater" Clifton of the 1953-54 NY Knicks played with Harvard's Ed Smith

Nate "Nat" "Sweetwater" Clifton of the 1953-54 NY Knicks played with Harvard's Ed Smith

and here’s ernie vandewege v bob cousy:

Bob Cousy and Ernie Vandeweghe Reaching For Ball

Bob Cousy and Ernie Vandeweghe Reaching For Ball

Of course, Ernie has some bloodlines. Kiki Vanderweghe was a great NBA player, and now his granddaughter is a professional tennis player:

CoCo Vandeweghe professional tennis player and granddaugher of Ernie Vandeweghe who played on the NY Knicks with Ed Smith in 1953-54.  Ed was the last Harvard alum to play for the NY Knicks, nearly fifty years ago

CoCo Vandeweghe professional tennis player and granddaugher of Ernie Vandeweghe who played on the NY Knicks with Ed Smith in 1953-54. Ed was the last Harvard alum to play for the NY Knicks, nearly fifty years ago

Ok, we’re now into the Elite Eight, and I had the following picks and results so far;

1) East – originally, at round of 64, Kentucky v. West Va. This was also my pick before the Sweet Sixteen Round. This is looking pretty good. I really like Kentucky to win this. I thought Kentucky played an excellent game against Cornell, especially defensively. However, West Virginia is an excellent team with a tough, tough coach we used to see a lot here in the A-10 and later the Big East when he was coaching at Cincinnati. Two great teams and two great coaches. What a game. I will say, originally, I had W.Va. winning this game; i’m revising that pick in light of Kentucky looking so good in this tournament. But of course, that’s a conditional probability pick; if W.Va. does win, then it validates my original bracket pick.

DEMARCUS COUSINS DESTROYED CORNELL UNDERNEATH & INSIDE IN THE SWEET SIXTEEN ROUND MAKING ROOM FOR JOHN WALL ON THE PERIMETER

2) South – originally, at round of 64, i had picked Louisville v. Baylor to come out of the pack. Well, I got that half right, but not the half you would have expected. Before the Sweet Sixteen, knowing that Louisville was out (we call that conditional probability) I picked Duke to win, which of course they did. In light of what I know now, I would have Duke beating Baylor. Incidentally, Baylor put a hurting on St. Mary’s. How lame is Villanova for losing to St. Mary’s? And by the way, should new Baylor President get halfcourt seats or what for this team???

Final Four pick Duke/Baylor winner v. Ky/W.Va winner – this is sort of a no-brainer, and I had this on my original bracket before the tournament opened. I think both Ky and W.Va are both better than Duke, even though W. Va. got a #2 seed. So I see Ky going to the final four over Duke, or alternatively, W. Va going to the final four over Duke. I think Duke’s dance ends at the elite eight.

That’s not to underestimate coach K. Anyone brilliant with a complicated last name ending with K, hey, I have to like that guy, right?

By the way, speaking of the U.Cincinnati, think today’s players are good? check out U.Cincinnati great’s Oscar Robertson’s college stats:

Season School FG% FT% TRB AST PTS
1957-58 Cincinnati .571 .789 15.2 35.1
1958-59 Cincinnati .509 .794 16.3 6.9 32.6
1959-60 Cincinnati .526 .756 14.1 7.3 33.7
Career Cincinnati .535 .780 15.2 4.8 33.8

Yes, that’s right–the Big O averaged a double-double his entire college career–a double double that ran around 35 points and 15 rebounds a night. That was in college, and freshman weren’t allowed to play back then. Imagine what his FOUR year stats would have been.

You think that was pretty good by today’s standards? Today, we think it’s pretty good if a kid averaged barely 15 points and 10 rebounds. That earns him a first round NBA spot.

OSCAR ROBERTSON - THE GREATEST PLAYER IN U.CINCINNATI HISTORY KNOWN AS THE "BIG O" - WON AN NBA CHAMPIONSHIP WITH KAREEM ABDUL-JABBAR WITH MILWAUKEE BUCKS

Of course, Cincinnati is named for the Roman hero Cincinnatus. If you’ve studied Latin, you know who he is. The rest of you, Google him up. He was a famous hero of the early Roman Republic. Big O and Cincinnatus had a lot in common.

3) Midwest – Originally I had Kansas v. Georgetown in the Elite Eight of this bracket before the round of 64. That bracket was completely busted, of course. Before the round of sixteen, knowing what had happened in the first couple of rounds, I remade picks and picked Michigan State to win their game, and Ohio State to win their game. Well, I got that half right. Tennessee with their orange uniforms and orange sneakers just plain outshot and outhustled Ohio State, thus short-circuiting the Big Ten matchup we were forecasting. Instead, the Elite Eight matchup will be the improbable Mich State #5 seed vs. the Tenn #6 seed for the Midwest Regional Final. This is an interesting matchup.

My heart says to root for the Spartans and Tom Izzo, a veteran, wily coach. However, my head says that Tennessee beat Ohio State while Michigan State lost to Ohio State during the season; that Tennessee lost to Purdue by a point or two while Mich State lost by a lot to Purdue; and that Tennessee beat Kansas during the season. Also that Kalin Lucas is out for Michigan State, while Tennessee is deep and balanced in both scoring and rebounding.

I’m going to call this a flip, but the edge to Tennessee here. So Tennessee to the Final Four. But Mich State definitely has a shot.

4) West – Well, I had Syracuse and Pitt in my original pre-round of 64 bracket picks. That’s pretty busted. After the first two rounds, before the sweet sixteen, I repicked Syracuse and Kansas State. Syracuse was upended by Butler, while Kansas State barely survived a two overtime onslaught from a feisty Xavier team.

That leaves us with Kansas State v. Butler. Here, I like Kansas State over Butler. I believe Kansas State will defeat Butler and get to the Final Four.

Moreover, I believe Kansas State will also defeat the winner of Mich State/Tenn and get to the final round.

This then sets up a final round of Kentucky v. Kansas State.

Here, again, I still like Kentucky to win it all.

–art kyriazis, philly, cradle of college hoops

The Palestra, also known as the Cathedral of College Basketball, is a historic arena and the home gym of the University of Pennsylvania Quakers men's and women's basketball teams, volleyball teams, wrestling team, and Philadelphia Big 5 basketball. Located at 215 South 33rd St. in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania, near Franklin Field in the University City section of Philadelphia, it opened on January 1, 1927. The arena originally sat about 10,000, but now seats 8,722 for basketball. The Palestra is famed for its close-to-the-court seating with the bleachers ending at the floor with no barrier to separate the fans from the game. At the time of its construction, the Palestra was one of the largest arenas in the world. It was one of the first modern steel-and-concrete arenas in the United States and also one of the first to be constructed without interior pillars blocking the view.

source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palestra

Today, as we survey the wreckage of the first and second rounds of the NCAA basketball tournament, 2010 version, which has destroyed nearly everyone’s brackets, including mine, it is wise to remember the words of one of the seven sages of Ancient Greece, Heraclitus, who noted that “everything is in flux,” or more modernly, “everything changes constantly.”

HERACLITUS ONE OF SEVEN SAGES OF ANCIENT GREECE "ALL IS FLUX"

Since today is GREEK INDEPENDENCE DAY, everything I write today will really be about GREECE and the incredible influence GREECE and GREEK THOUGHT has had upon modern life. Specifically, I will show you how GREECE & GREEK THOUGHT have had a major influence on MARCH MADNESS AND THE NCAA BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT. You won’t even believe it, but it’s so.

BETTER ONE HOUR OF FREEDOM THAN FORTY YEARS OF SLAVERY & JAIL

Today marks the 189th anniversary of the birth of the modern Greek nation-state and the uprising against the Ottoman Empire by the ethnic Greeks and Greek-speaking majority of Roumeli against their Ottoman overlords on March 25, 1821. After nine long years, that struggle resulted in the creation of the modern Greek state. And of course, we who are Greek-American have to celebrate it, since the actual Greeks in Greece are temporarily on strike against government austerity measures. Hey, I wish I could retire at 41 with a full salary and benefits too, but as one of my Harvard economics professors once noted, TANSTAAFL “THERE AINT NO SUCH THING AS A FREE LUNCH.” (actually, that phrase was coined by sci fi giant Robert A Heinlein, 1907-1988, if you grok me). Frackin’ great line, though.

ROBERT A HEINLEIN & ISAAC ASIMOV AT PHILLY NAVAL SHIPYARD 1944

Many, many effects of that revolution can be seen here in America.

1) The very idea of athletic competitions and tournaments is Greek in origin. The Greeks invented the Olympics in 776 BC. They had them on a four year rotation, along with three other games, the Pythian, Nemean and Isthmian Games, the four being known as the “Pan-Hellenic Games.” The point is the Ancient Greeks had an athletic competition to determine a winner in each event every year. This is exactly what the modern NCAA does. The logos of the NCAA even use Olympic/ancient Greek style laurel wreaths on some of their publicity and trophies, and even up to the present day, the concept of AMATEURISM, the notion that an athlete should not be paid for participating in sports, is uniquely and completely ancient Greek in origin, as the Romans customarily paid their Olympic and other athletes, or compelled them to compete through slavery. It was the Ancient Greeks who prided themselves that competition should be amateur and free of payment, and participated in by free citizens of city-states only for the glory of the competition. This very concept is what animates the entire notion of the NCAA and of college sports; its entire spirit and animus are Ancient Greek in conception and thought. The Ancient Romans had no such distinction; to them, athletes were paid the same as anyone else. Moreover, the concept of colleges today relate closely to the concept of ancient Greek city-states. There are many more parallels, but you get the idea. Winning at sports was the sine qua non of excellence in Greek culture. Note that Christianity for many years discouraged athletic competition—it was a modern development with the rediscovery of humanist thought, and the rediscovery of Greek thought, that athletics made a comeback in modern society. The Greek notion of athletic competition heavily influenced the Romans, who made stadiums, chariot races and gladiatorial combat part of their culture. Consequently, it is very clear that the very notion of having an NCAA tournament every year is nothing if not Greek in origin.

ANCIENT OLYMPIA AT ELIS GREECE SITE OF THE ANCIENT OLYMPIC GAMES 776BC-495 AD

2) Many colleges and college nicknames are Greek in origin. For example, Michigan State is in the Sweet Sixteen. Their nickname is the “Spartans.” They were nicknamed, largely, in tribute to the Greeks of the Greek Revolution of the 1820s, largely due to Philhellenic (Greek-loving) feeling. Most Americans were sympathetic with the Greeks, 1) because the Greeks were struggling for democracy against autocracy 2) because the Founders were largely influenced by Ancient Greece in their models for what a democracy like America should look like and 3) because the Greeks were Christians struggling against the Turkish Infidels, which is what we used to call Muslims in the 19th Century before PC discourse deconstructed plain language and speech sometime in the past 20 years. In fact, Turks used to be called “the Terrible Turk” by people like no less than Prime Minister Gladstone, and the Ottoman Empire, after the Greeks won, used to be called the “Sick Man of Europe,” and the question of how to carve up the fading Ottoman Empire was called the “Eastern Question.” It wasn’t settled finally until World War I, and not really finally until 1923. But that’s another story. So I like Michigan State. Didn’t you watch “300”? “We are SPARTANS!!!”

KING LEONIDAS & 300 LEGENDARILY HEROIC SPARTANS OF THERMOPYLAE BRILLIANTLY DRAMATIZED IN MOVIE "300" (2006) STARRING GERARD BUTLER

3) U. Tennessee remains in the Sweet Sixteen. Vanderbilt is in Nashville, Tennessee, where they have an actual full-scale replica of the Parthenon built which you can go see today. It is complete and accurate to the last detail. In fact, throughout the South, there is more Greek Revival and neo-classical architecture than almost anywhere in the US, especially on college campuses. This is certainly true at Vanderbilt, at Duke, at Kentucky, at U. Tennessee, at U.Va certainly, and many of the other schools left in the Sweet Sixteen.

PARTHENON REPLICA WHICH STANDS IN NASHVILLE, TN TODAY EXACT DUPLICATE OF PARTHENON OF ANCIENT ATHENS, GREECE BUILT BY PERICLES IN 5TH CENTURY B.C.

About the Parthenon

The Parthenon stands proudly as the centerpiece of Centennial Park, Nashville’s premier urban park. The re-creation of the 42-foot statue Athena is the focus of the Parthenon just as it was in ancient Greece. The building and the Athena statue are both full-scale replicas of the Athenian originals.

Originally built for Tennessee’s 1897 Centennial Exposition, this replica of the original Parthenon in Athens serves as a monument to what is considered the pinnacle of classical architecture. The plaster replicas of the Parthenon Marbles found in the Naos are direct casts of the original sculptures which adorned the pediments of the Athenian Parthenon, dating back to 438 B.C. The originals of these powerful fragments are housed in the British Museum in London.

The Parthenon also serves as the city of Nashville’s art museum. The focus of the Parthenon’s permanent collection is a group of 63 paintings by 19th and 20th century American artists donated by James M. Cowan. Additional gallery spaces provide a venue for a variety of temporary shows and exhibits.

The Parthenon is open year round Tuesday – Saturday, 9:00 – 4:30. Additional hours during June, July & August: Sundays, 12:30 – 4:30 p.m. The Parthenon will be closed on July 4, Labor Day, the Thursday & Friday of Thanksgiving week, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. Admission: Members free; Adults – $6.00; Children 4-17 – $3.50 (under 4 free); Seniors 62+ – $3.50. Phone number 615-862-8431.

http://www.nashville.org/parthenon/

See? And you thought you had to travel to GREECE to see the Parthenon? Nope, you can go to NASHVILLE, TENNESEE AND SEE IT! AND THIS PARTHENON ISN’T IN RUINS!!! (No Turks or Venetians to blow it up in a meaningless war in the 17th century). Oh–and they have some pretty darn good music there, too–and hey, Vandy and U. Tennessee are pretty darn good schools.

4) Many of you have probably watched the show “GREEK” on TV, which details “GREEK” or fraternity/sorority life on campuses around the country. What you probably don’t know is that fraternities and sororities have their origins with the Greek War of Independence. So many college students were in sympathy with the Greeks and their War of Liberation from the Turks during the 1821-1830 period, that many of the campuses and universities founded societies named after Greek letters such as “Phi Beta Kappa” or “Alpha Chi Rho” to celebrate their “fraternity” and “solidarity” with the Greek cause of independence, liberty and freedom. So, if you’ve ever been a fraternity or sorority member, you actually have pledged fraternity, sorority, brotherhood and sisterhood, to the nation of Greece and its sacred causes for liberty, democracy, Christianity, and its ongoing fight against the Turks. Thus the “GREEK” show really is, in actually, about Greece. It even takes place at fictional “CYPRUS-RHODES UNIVERSITY.” Hey, I’ve been to Rhodes, that island rocks, every single hotel opens out to a private beach, and every bar is open all nite long. And Cyprus, even though only half of it is open (the other half is still occupied by a muslim country from the north starting with “T” and ending with “Y”) is the hottest tourist and banking destination in the Middle East. Plus, Garo Ypremian is from Cyprus, and he once kicked a touchdown! He told me so 18 holes in a row at a pro-am golf tournament. “where else but in america could a 5 foot 7 cypriot find work in the NFL as a professional kicker?” he said. To his credit, he was a great golfer.

The very origins of sorority and fraternity life are from the Greek Revolution and Greek War of Independence, and Philhellenism among American college students. In fact, many of those students went to Greece and fought for the Greek cause. In the NCAA tournament, it’s obvious that frat and sorority and Greeks are the main hoops fans. Thank you Greece and Greek culture, again. And here’s to our favorie fraternities, Kappa Tau Gamma (ΚΤΓ), Omega Chi Delta (ΩΧΔ), and our favorite sorority, Zeta Beta Zeta (ΖΒZ). May we all be Greeks forever!

EVERYONE'S IDEA OF COLLEGE FUN IS SUMMARIZED IN THE SHOW "GREEK"

5) Syracuse is a heavy favorite to get to the final four. Syracuse University and Syracuse, NY are named for the ancient Greek city-state of Syracuse. Syracuse was the richest and most famous Greek city-state of the ancient world. Situated on one of the three corners of Sicily, Syracuse was as powerful in its heyday as Rome, Carthage, Athens or Persia, and made a play for hegemony against Rome and Carthage during the 5th and 4th centuries BC. Unfortunately for Syracuse, despite being neutral in the 2d Punic War between Carthage and Rome, Rome decided to lay siege to Syracuse in order to plunder its enormous stores of gold. Rome simply needed the money. Archimedes, the most brilliant mathematician and scientist of ancient times, was a native of Syracuse. He famously designed siege defense machines which pulled Roman ships out of the water and crashed them against the rocks, other machines which focused the light of the sun on Roman ships and set them on fire, etc. You get the picture. The Romans were kept out of Syracuse for years by the high walls of Syracuse and Archimedes brilliance. When they finally breached the walls, the Romans were instructed to bring Archimedes alive to the Roman commander, but of course they got it wrong and killed Archimedes by mistake. The Romans plundered billions of dollars in gold, silver and other treasures from Syracuse. P.S. Italy owes that money back to Greece, today, with interest, under international law, in my view. Syracuse was neutral at the time. Also, indemnity for Archimedes’ death is independently owed by Italy to Greece. One supposes that would sort of cancel out any debts owed by Greece to the EU. In fact, one might suppose that Italy should just hand over the deed to, well, Italy, since the interest has been piling up for 2,400 years or so on that loan. Or have I just lost my Elgin Marbles? (many thanks to my good friend the brilliant Mike Reiss on that line).

ANCIENT SICILY WAS MAINLY GREEK CITY STATES WITH SYRACUSE THE LARGEST RICHEST AND MOST FAMOUS GREEK CITY STATE OF ANTIQUITY

THE WAR FOR SYRACUSE AND THE DEATH OF ARCHIMEDES

source: http://www.livius.org/sh-si/sicily/sicily_t17.html

The philosopher Plutarch of Chaeronea (46-c.122) is the author of a series of double biographies in which he compared Greeks and Romans, and tried to explore the nature of some type of man. They contain much historical information. The following text is taken from his Life of Marcellus, and describes how this Roman general captured Syracuse during the war between the Romans and the Carthaginian general Hannibal. During the siege the famous scientist Archimedes (287-212), was killed. The translation was made by Walter Charlton and appeared in the Dryden series.

Marcellus now was a third time created consul, and sailed to Sicily. For the success of Hannibal had excited the Carthaginians to lay claim to that whole island; chiefly because, after the murder of the tyrant Hieronymus, all things had been in tumult and confusion at Syracuse. Therefore, the Romans also had sent before to that city a force under the conduct of Appius, as praetor. […]

At this time Marcellus, first incensed by injuries done him by Hippocrates, commander of the Syracusans (who, to give proof of his good affection to the Carthaginians, and to acquire the tyranny to himself, had killed a number of Romans at Leontini), besieged and took by force the city of Leontini; yet violated none of the townsmen; only deserters, as many as he took, he subjected to the punishment of the rods and axe.

But Hippocrates, sending a report to Syracuse that Marcellus had put all the adult population to the sword, and then coming upon the Syracusans, who had risen in tumult upon that false report, made himself master of the city. Upon this Marcellus moved with his whole army to Syracuse, and encamping near the wall, sent ambassadors into the city to relate to the Syracusans the truth of what had been done in Leontini. When these could not prevail by treaty, the whole power being now in the hands of Hippocrates, he proceeded to attack the city both by land and by sea.

The land forces were conducted by Appius: Marcellus, with sixty galleys, each with five rows of oars, furnished with all sorts of arms and missiles, and a huge bridge of planks laid upon eight ships chained together, upon which was carried the engine to cast stones and darts, assaulted the walls, relying on the abundance and magnificence of his preparations, and on his own previous glory; all which, however, were, it would seem, but trifles for Archimedes and his machines.

These machines he had designed and contrived, not as matters of any importance, but as mere amusements in geometry; in compliance with King Hiero’s desire and request, some little time before, that he should reduce to practice some part of his admirable speculation in science, and by accommodating the theoretic truth to sensation and ordinary use, bring it more within the appreciation of the people in general.
Eudoxus and Archytas had been the first originators of this far-famed and highly-prized art of mechanics, which they employed as an elegant illustration of geometrical truths, and as means of sustaining experimentally, to the satisfaction of the senses, conclusions too intricate for proof by words and diagrams. As, for example, to solve the problem, so often required in constructing geometrical figures, given the two extremes, to find the two mean lines of a proportion, both these mathematicians had recourse to the aid of instruments, adapting to their purpose certain curves and sections of lines.

But what with Plato’s indignation at it, and his invectives against it as the mere corruption and annihilation of the one good of geometry, which was thus shamefully turning its back upon the unembodied objects of pure intelligence to recur to sensation, and to ask help (not to be obtained without base supervisions and depravation) from matter; so it was that mechanics came to be separated from geometry, and, repudiated and neglected by philosophers, took its place as a military art.

Archimedes, however, in writing to King Hiero, whose friend and near relation he was, had stated that given the force, any given weight might be moved, and even boasted, we are told, relying on the strength of demonstration, that if there were another earth, by going into it he could remove this. Hiero being struck with amazement at this, and entreating him to make good this problem by actual experiment, and show some great weight moved by a small engine, he fixed accordingly upon a ship of burden out of the king’s arsenal, which could not be drawn out of the dock without great labor and many men; and, loading her with many passengers and a full freight, sitting himself the while far off, with no great endeavor, but only holding the head of the pulley in his hand and drawing the cords by degrees, he drew the ship in a straight line, as smoothly and evenly as if she had been in the sea. The king, astonished at this, and convinced of the power of the art, prevailed upon Archimedes to make him engines accommodated to all the purposes, offensive and defensive, of a siege. These the king himself never made use of, because he spent almost all his life in a profound quiet and the highest affluence. But the apparatus was, in most opportune time, ready at hand for the Syracusans, and with it also the engineer himself.

When, therefore, the Romans assaulted the walls in two places at once, fear and consternation stupefied the Syracusans, believing that nothing was able to resist that violence and those forces. But when Archimedes began to ply his engines, he at once shot against the land forces all sorts of missile weapons, and immense masses of stone that came down with incredible noise and violence; against which no man could stand; for they knocked down those upon whom they fell in heaps, breaking all their ranks and files. In the meantime huge poles thrust out from the walls over the ships sunk some by the great weights which they let down from on high upon them; others they lifted up into the air by an iron hand or beak like a crane’s beak and, when they had drawn them up by the prow, and set them on end upon the poop, they plunged them to the bottom of the sea; or else the ships, drawn by engines within, and whirled about, were dashed against steep rocks that stood jutting out under the walls, with great destruction of the soldiers that were aboard them. A ship was frequently lifted up to a great height in the air (a dreadful thing to behold), and was rolled to and fro, and kept swinging, until the mariners were all thrown out, when at length it was dashed against the rocks, or let fall. At the engine that Marcellus brought upon the bridge of ships, which was called Sambuca, from some resemblance it had to an instrument of music, while it was as yet approaching the wall, there was discharged a piece of rock of ten talents weight, then a second and a third, which, striking upon it with immense force and a noise like thunder, broke all its foundation to pieces, shook out all its fastenings, and completely dislodged it from the bridge.

So Marcellus, doubtful what counsel to pursue, drew off his ships to a safer distance, and sounded a retreat to his forces on land. They then took a resolution of coming up under the walls, if it were possible, in the night; thinking that as Archimedes used ropes stretched at length in playing his engines, the soldiers would now be under the shot, and the darts would, for want of sufficient distance to throw them, fly over their heads without effect. But he, it appeared, had long before framed for such occasions engines accommodated to any distance, and shorter weapons; and had made numerous small openings in the walls, through which, with engines of a shorter range, unexpected blows were inflicted on the assailants. Thus, when they who thought to deceive the defenders came close up to the walls, instantly a shower of darts and other missile weapons was again cast upon them. And when stones came tumbling down perpendicularly upon their heads, and, as it were, the whole wall shot out arrows at them, they retired. And now, again, as they were going off, arrows and darts of a longer range inflicted a great slaughter among them, and their ships were driven one against another; while they themselves were not able to retaliate in any way. For Archimedes had provided and fixed most of his engines immediately under the wall; whence the Romans, seeing that indefinite mischief overwhelmed them from no visible means, began to think they were fighting with the gods.

Yet Marcellus escaped unhurt, and deriding his own artificers and engineers, “What,” said he, “must we give up fighting with this geometrical Briareus, who plays pitch-and-toss with our ships, and, with the multitude of darts which he showers at a single moment upon us, really outdoes the hundred-handed giants of mythology?”

And, doubtless, the rest of the Syracusans were but the body of Archimedes’ designs, one soul moving and governing all; for, laying aside all other arms, with this alone they infested the Romans and protected themselves. In fine, when such terror had seized upon the Romans that, if they did but see a little rope or a piece of wood from the wall, instantly crying out, that there it was again, Archimedes was about to let fly some engine at them, they turned their backs and fled, Marcellus desisted from conflicts and assaults, putting all his hope in a long siege.

Yet Archimedes possessed so high a spirit, so profound a soul, and such treasures of scientific knowledge, that though these inventions had now obtained him the renown of more than human sagacity, he yet would not deign to leave behind him any commentary or writing on such subjects; but, repudiating as sordid and ignoble the whole trade of engineering, and every sort of art that lends itself to mere use and profit, he placed his whole affection and ambition in those purer speculations where there can be no reference to the vulgar needs of life; studies, the superiority of which to all others is unquestioned, and in which the only doubt can be whether the beauty and grandeur of the subjects examined, of the precision and cogency of the methods and means of proof, most deserve our admiration. It is not possible to find in all geometry more difficult and intricate questions, or more simple and lucid explanations. Some ascribe this to his natural genius; while others think that incredible effort and toil produced these, to all appearances, easy and unlabored results. No amount of investigation of yours would succeed in attaining the proof, and yet, once seen, you immediately believe you would have discovered it; by so smooth and so rapid a path he leads you to the conclusion required. And thus it ceases to be incredible that (as is commonly told of him) the charm of his familiar and domestic Siren made him forget his food and neglect his person, to that degree that when he was occasionally carried by absolute violence to bathe or have his body anointed, he used to trace geometrical figures in the ashes of the fire, and diagrams in the oil on his body, being in a state of entire preoccupation, and, in the truest sense, divine possession with his love and delight in science. His discoveries were numerous and admirable; but he is said to have requested his friends and relations that, when he was dead, they would place over his tomb a sphere containing a cylinder, inscribing it with the ratio which the containing solid bears to the contained. Such was Archimedes, who now showed himself, and so far as lay in him the city also, invincible.

While the siege continued, Marcellus took Megara, one of the earliest founded of the Greek cities in Sicily, and capturing also the camp of Hippocrates at Acilae, killed above 8,000 men, having attacked them whilst they were engaged in forming their fortifications. He overran a great part of Sicily; gained over many towns from the Carthaginians, and overcame all that dared to encounter him.

As the siege went on, one Damippus, a Spartan, putting to sea in a ship from Syracuse, was taken. When the Syracusans much desired to redeem this man, and there were many meetings and treaties about the matter betwixt them and Marcellus, he had opportunity to notice a tower into which a body of men might be secretly introduced, as the wall near to it was not difficult to surmount, and it was itself carelessly guarded. Coming often thither, and entertaining conferences about the release of Damippus, he had pretty well calculated the height of the tower, and got ladders prepared.

The Syracusans celebrated a feast to Artemis; this juncture of time, when they were given up entirely to wine and sport, Marcellus laid hold of, and before the citizens perceived it, not only possessed himself of the tower, but, before the break of day, filled the wall around with soldiers, and made his way into the Hexapylum. The Syracusans now beginning to stir, and to be alarmed at the tumult, he ordered the trumpets everywhere to sound, and thus frightened them all into flight, as if all parts of the city were already won, though the most fortified, and the fairest, and most ample quarter was still ungained. It is called Achradina, and was divided by a wall from the outer city, one part of which they call Neapolis, the other Tycha.

Possessing himself of these, Marcellus, about break of day, entered through the Hexapylum, all his officers congratulating him. But looking down from the higher places upon the beautiful and spacious city below, he is said to have wept much, commiserating the calamity that hung over it, when his thoughts represented to him how dismal and foul the face of the city would be in a few hours, when plundered and sacked by the soldiers. For among the officers of his army there was not one man that durst deny the plunder of the city to the soldiers’ demands; nay, many were instant that it should be set on fire and laid level to the ground: but this Marcellus would not listen to.

Yet he granted, but with great unwillingness and reluctance, that the money and slaves should be made prey; giving orders, at the same time, that none should violate any free person, nor kill, misuse, or make a slave of any of the Syracusans. Though he had used this moderation, he still esteemed the condition of that city to be pitiable, and, even amidst the congratulations and joy, showed his strong feelings of sympathy and commiseration at seeing all the riches accumulated during a long felicity now dissipated in an hour. For it is related that no less prey and plunder was taken here than afterward in Carthage. For not long after they obtained also the plunder of the other parts of the city, which were taken by treachery; leaving nothing untouched but the king’s money, which was brought into the public treasury.

But nothing afflicted Marcellus so much as the death of Archimedes, who was then, as fate would have it, intent upon working out some problem by a diagram, and having fixed his mind alike and his eyes upon the subject of his speculation, he never noticed the incursion of the Romans, nor that the city was taken. In this transport of study and contemplation, a soldier, unexpectedly coming up to him, commanded him to follow to Marcellus; which he declining to do before he had worked out his problem to a demonstration, the soldier, enraged, drew his sword and ran him through. Others write that a Roman soldier, running upon him with a drawn sword, offered to kill him; and that Archimedes, looking back, earnestly besought him to hold his hand a little while, that he might not leave what he was then at work upon inconclusive and imperfect; but the soldier, nothing moved by his entreaty, instantly killed him. Others again relate that, as Archimedes was carrying to Marcellus mathematical instruments, dials, spheres, and angles, by which the magnitude of the sun might be measured to the sight, some soldiers seeing him, and thinking that he carried gold in a vessel, slew him. Certain it is that his death was very afflicting to Marcellus; and that Marcellus ever after regarded him that killed him as a murderer; and that he sought for his kindred and honored them with signal favors.

http://www.livius.org/sh-si/sicily/sicily_t17.html

Q.E.D. Archimedes was brilliant, the Romans stole all the Greeks’ money, and Syracuse was a neutral city whose neutrality was blatantly violated by the Romans in the 2d Punic War. And the Romans did it for the money. Plutarch is pretty much a reliable source.

PLUTARCH - ANCIENT GREEK HISTORIAN - A RELIABLE SOURCE ON THE FALL OF SYRACUSE AND THE DEATH OF ARCHIMEDES

ARCHIMEDES OF SYRACUSE - THE GREATEST MATHEMATICIAN OF ANCIENT TIMES AND DEFENDER OF SYRACUSE VS. THE ROMAN SIEGE

ARCHIMEDES – THE GREATEST MATHEMATICIAN OF ANCIENT TIMES AND DEFENDER OF SYRACUSE AGAINST THE ROMAN SIEGE

MY PICKS THEN AND NOW

Of 32 first-round picks, I only got 19 right, for barely a 59% percentage. That looks good until you realize by flipping a coin I’d get 50%, so basically that’s a 9% winning percentage. Not very impressive. The only two brackets I have reasonably correct are the East, where I have Kentucky meeting West Virginia in the Regional Final, which can still happen, and the South, where I had Duke meeting Baylor in the Regional Final. Of those, I had West Virginia upsetting Kentucky in my original bracket and going to the final four, and Duke beating Baylor to get to the Final Four. In the East bracket, I was totally busted as I had Kansas hitting Georgetown in the regional. Oops! Can you say University of Northern Iowa? In the West, I had Syracuse hitting Pitt. From there I had Kansas and Pitt in the final four, and Pitt v. West Va in the finals, with West Va winning. Well, that clearly was wrong. I did pick Villanova to lose in the second round, although it was to Richmond, and not to St. Mary’s, but I’ve never thought much of Jay Wright as a tournament coach, much less an NCAA coach. He had a good run last year, but usually ‘Nova has done poorly in both the Big East and the NCAA tournaments. Temple, by contrast, has usually done well in A-10 and NCAA tournaments, and Fran Dunphy has coached many fine teams not only at Temple, but at Penn and LaSalle before that.

In light of the first two rounds, I’d have to revise all that. In the East, I think Kentucky-West Virginia, first of all, is sort of the championship within the championship. Second, I believe Kentucky will win. I am also assuming that Kentucky will beat Cornell. West Virginia will beat Washington. In the South, Duke will handle Purdue, while St. Mary’s dance will end at the hands of Baylor, although that’s a bit more of a flip. It doesn’t really matter, since Duke will beat the winner of that game and advance to the final four. So it will be Duke v. Kentucky in that bracket. At this point, Kentucky will beat Duke in a good game, but John Wall is simply better. Also Calipari is a match for coach K.

The Midwest is tougher. Of course, I love the Spartans, and they will beat UNI. Ohio State is still a #2 seed, and they should handle Tennessee. That leaves an interesting Big Ten match up of Mich State v. Ohio State in the Regional Final, which I have to like Ohio State, but then again, Tom Izzo is a terrific coach, so really, it’s a flip. I have to favor Ohio State, but Michigan State has the coaching. Then again, the Spartans will be without one of their key players due to injury. Finally, in the West regional, I like Syracuse to beat Butler, although Butler is good and playing well. I also like Kansas State to beat Xavier, although again, Xavier is good and playing well. Neither will be easy games. That leaves Syracuse against Kansas State in the regional final. Here you have a #1 against a #2, and a real dogfight. I like Syracuse, but both teams are talented and well-coached. I like Syracuse to go to the final four. Out of that bracket, then, I like Ohio State v. Syracuse, and in that match up, I actually think Syracuse has an easier game against either Ohio State/Michigan State than they did against Kansas State, and Syracuse advanced to the final Round.

The final round therefore will be Syracuse against Kentucky, and this will be a terrific game. I like Kentucky here, but it will be a terrific game.

After notes: I was stunned to see Cornell beat an outstanding Temple team, but Cornell is legit—they have a 7-footer with hands who can pass, rebound and shoot, and they’ve surrounded him with a good point guard and several excellent three point shooters who can bomb it from way downtown. So you can play inside-outside all day long, and Temple was stuck double-teaming low or pressing on the perimeter, and getting burned on both ends. Cornell put up 78 points on Temple—and Temple allowed no more than 50 something in the A-10 against great teams like URI and Richmond, and shut down Xavier defensively in the regular season. And Cornell then went out and destroyed Wisconsin for good measure. No wonder Cornell has been on the front page of the WSJ for like a week straight.

Did I mention that Cornell is in ITHACA, NY? You remember Ithaca–that’s the place ODYSSEUS or as he’s known in latin, ULYSSES was from. He was a pretty famous king who went to TROY (another city in NY and also a famous kingdom in ASIA MINOR) to fight the TROJAN WAR, then got lost on the way back.

ULYSSES story of how he gets back to ITHACA is told in the screenplay and movie, “O WHERE ART THOU BROTHER?”, which of course is based upon the novel ULYSSES by James Joyce, which of course is based upon a famous old poem in decapentasyllabic metred Homeric Ancient Greek by an old blind goat named HOMER, called the ODYSSEY.

In ancient times, everyone was required to not only read this book but to memorize and recite it. ALEXANDER THE GREAT so loved the book, he kept a copy of it under his bed, along with the ILIAD.

So yes, even CORNELL has ties to ancient greece, in fact, their very town is the embodiment of all things greek–didn’t they read the poem by Cavafy about returning to Ithaca at Jackie O’s funeral???? Isn’t that in the last collection of poems by her daughter??? Everyone knows what HOME is–it’s ITHACA.

ITHACA LEGENDARY HOME OF ODYSSEUS AKA ULYSSES IN THE ODYSSEY GREEK ISLAND OFF THE IONIAN COAST OF SOUTHERN GREECE

And right across from Cornell is ITHACA COLLEGE–alma mater of my cousin–and of course, the setting for ROAD TRIP, one of the ten greatest films ever made about college life. And yes, everyone has been with a girl like Amy Smart once in their lives. Not. But if you’re Odysseus, you can spend five years with a hot siren, and chalk it up to mental defect or the effect of some goddess like nectar, and still plead the fifth to your wife, who remains faithful for yeah, 20 years.

Cornell is the best basketball team I’ve seen with four white guys on the floor since maybe the Boston Celtics of Bird-McHale-Ainge-Rick Robey-Parrish of the early 80s. Those Celtics had four white guys and they could flat out play. Of course, they got better, NBA championship better, when they got rid of Robey and got Dennis Johnson, who could flat out PLAY, plus he could shut down Andrew Toney, the Boston Strangler and ever-underrate Sixers sharpshooter, as Simmons points out in his recent fantastic book.

–art kyriazis, Philly hoops guy
March 25, 2010

LARRY BIRD OF FRENCH LICK, INDIANA & INDIANA STATE ON COVER OF SI 1977 WITH TWO CHEERLEADERS WHO ARE NOW YOUR MOTHERS OR GRANDMOTHERS

The Sixers have finally addressed the glaring issue of three point shooting, which this blogger-columnist has hammered them on repeatedly (see earlier posts regarding this issue), by trading defensive rebounder and shot blocker Reggie Evans to Toronto for three point shooter Jason Kapono.

Kapono has excellent three point shooting numbers. He’s a career 45.4% three point FG shooter in the NBA and his free throw percentage for career is 84.7%. In addition, he’s 6 foot 8, and averages about 2 rebounds, one assist and half a steal a game, and less than one turnover. He scores about 13 points per 36 minutes, and that’s been about his career norm. He’s 29 years old and he went to college at UCLA, not too shabby.

In the playoffs with Toronto in 2007-08, Kapono in five games averaged better than 15 points per game, illustrating that the half court game of the playoffs favors his three point shooting skills. This would be of considerable interest to the sixers should they reach again the playoffs. If they have a healthy elton brand (i know that sounds weird) they actually could alternate between brand and kapono, inside and outside, and have a half court game.

So, is Kapono better than Kyle Korver, the three point guy the Sixers unloaded last year for nothing to Utah in a dumb move that created a black hole at the three point shooting position? Well, oddly enough, the answer is yes, Kapono is a BETTER three point man than Korver. Korver is about a 38.9% three point FG % lifetime; while Korver scores 13 ppg per 36 minutes played, Korver is not as efficient as Kapono. Korver needs more shots and misses more shots to get the same number of points. Kapono is an inch taller and has played much better in the playoffs than Korver.

So, in a word, while it took Eddie Stefanski a year and a half, he finished by upgrading the Sixers roster at the three point shooting end with Kapono. If Stefanski could add another perimeter shooter like Kapono, that would be terrific. Someone like a Rashard Lewis type would be ideal.

Mareese Speights made Reggie Evans expendable–Evans played half the minutes this past season he did in 2007-08–however, the Sixers should beware. Reggie Evans and Theo Ratliff, together, earned 2.5 defensive win shares together–a not insignificant figure–and they played 1700 minutes overall during the season–minutes that some other two players or one player will have to play.

No one here is suggesting that Jason Kapono can play defense or block shots like Reggie Evans or Theo Ratliff, so presumably Elton Brand will actually have to play some defense alongside Dalembert and Speights or Young.

At any rate, this is an early Christmas present for new coach Eddie Jordan.

I haven’t commented on Eddie Jordan. He had a good record in Washington, so let’s give him a chance. The hire is a bit suspicious, since Washington is still paying his salary for the most part, so it looks as if Jordan was the CHEAPEST coach with actual skills available, important since the sixers are still paying mo cheeks to sit at home, but maybe it was a choice based on merit.

then again, maybe the moon is made of cheese, and bank executives will gladly welcome government limits on their bonuses and compensation, and maybe we can re-outlaw alcohol and re-impose prohibition after we’re done nationalizing health care and the automotive industry.

Seriously, this is a good first move by Stefanski after hiring Jordan.

–art kyriazis, philly/south jersey
home of the world champion phillies

The Sixers announced this week that Tony DiLeo will not return to coach the Seventy-Sixers next season. Let’s examine that for a moment. With the firings of Jim O’Brien, Maurice Cheeks, and now Tony DiLeo, the Sixers have now fired three coaches in the last five years who have taken the Sixers to a playoff spot, and a decent showing in the playoffs.

This past season, DiLeo inherited a losing record and a completely injured Elton Brand from his predecessor Maurice Cheeks, along with instructions to start and play Brand, even though Brand was completely hurt and ineffective.

After a month of losing games with Brand, Brand finally went on the disabled list and the Sixers went on a tear, finishing the season 32-27 overall under DiLeo.

It’s true they slumped at the end of the season, but they won two games in the playoffs against Orlando, and more importantly, Andre Iguodala established playoff highs in PPG at 21.5 and looked dominant for the first time EVER in a playoff series.

Also the team lacked any kind of three point game, general manager Ed Stefanski having traded away lock and load three point shooter Kyle Korver to Utah for nothing, and also lacked any tall defensive guards who could shoot and score, the prior GM having traded away John Salmons in the foolish Chris Webber trade (Webber was also injured and never played effectively).

Salmons only scored 35 points in Chicago’s key triple overtime playoff win over Boston, the most exciting game of the playoffs.

You think Salmons and Korver might have helped this year’s Sixers’ roster?

The Sixers, as a sidenote, seem obsessed with a big man, in a league and with league rules, that no longer value big men.

They traded away Alan Iverson, the best small man in the league, and instead have wasted valuable resources and money and players pursuing big men like Chris Webber, Elton Brand, to name but a few, in the mistaken believe that big men win in the NBA.

The fact is, if they currently had Allen Iverson, Kyle Korver and John Salmons to go with Andre Miller and Andre Iguodala, this would not only be a winning squad, it would be in the top tier of the NBA’s eastern division, and better than any other team other than Cleveland, assuming Garnett was injured for Boston.

Note that Garnett, by himself, won nothing in Minnesota–he had to be paired up with Pierce and Allen, fast, swift small men who could shoot and play the running game and shoot the three, before Garnett could win in the current NBA.

Look again at Boston—they’re playing with Ray Allen, a player similar to Iverson, and Paul Pierce, a player similar to Iguodala.

Obviously that’s a good combo. Pierce-Allen or Pierce-Allen-Garnett is a lot like Iguodala-Iverson or Iguodala-Iverson-Brand.

If we added Salmons and Korver to that mix, we’d have an ideal team—and Chicago picked up Salmons for a song in midseason.

My point is, it’s not bad luck or bad coaching dogging the sixers, its their bad management of talent.

Many other ex-sixers torch the league, and the sixers every night—I need not remind you of Larry Hughes, or the long career of Jerry Stackhouse, and so on and so forth. Tim Thomas, Keith Van Horn, Clarence Weatherspoon, Shawn Bradley, Larry Hughes, Kyle Korver, John Salmons, Jerry Stackhouse are all examples of players the Sixers drafted, or kept around for 2-4 years, and then let go once their salaries got bigger–and those players went on to very productive NBA careers.

Don’t fool yourselves–salary is driving force for the Sixers in getting rid of some of this talent. John Salmons was making about $750,000 as a third year player–he’s now making several millions as an experienced guard. Kyle Korver, the same. Larry Hughes commands much more on the open market these days. Bradley evolved into a very fine defensive center and was making as much as 8 million dollars a year during his peak years with the Mavs, compared to his rookie deal of 2.5 million and 3.5 million with the Sixers.

Jerry Stackhouse was making between seven and nine million dollars a year at his peak with the Pistons and Mavs–compare that to the one to two million dollars a year the Sixers paid him.

The point is, the Sixers have always had the TALENT, but never have been willing to pony up the MONEY to keep the TALENT HERE.

They make a lot of excuses, but in the end, they keep wasting money on useless immobile or injured big men like Elton Brand, Chris Webber and so on.

The sixers have a chance to get Iverson back this offseason, and the sixers should jump at it, because Iverson is a good fit if Andre Miller is the point guard.

Clearly, the guards other than Miller are a lot less efficient than Iverson and are much more streaky shooters than Iverson—Iverson is steady, can play 40 minutes a night, and can shoot the three.

With Iverson in the 2 guard, the remaining guards can play off the bench, in limited minutes, and they can actually go against bench players and guys like Lou Williams will actually play better against other bench players.

Let’s get back to coaches.

The Sixers fired Jimmy O’Brien after O’Brien went 43-39 and made the playoffs in 2004-05. Why? He won, he made the playoffs, and Iverson had a good year. That made no sense, no sense at all.

Then came Maurice Cheeks. The Sixers fired Cheeks after what was Cheeks’ arguably best year as Sixers coach—last year, 2007-08, Cheeks coached the Sixers to a 40-42 record (the same overall record as they had this year), the sixth seed, Cheeks did it without Iverson, got plenty out of Andre Miller and Andre Iguodala, did very well the second half, got the sixth seed, and won two games against Detroit, which got to the finals of the NBA East before submitting to Boston.

Cheeks was fired even though Elton Brand was forced on him, Brand was injured, and it was obvious to everyone that Brand didn’t fit with the other players on the team. And, as soon as Brand was off the court, the team started winning. It didn’t have much to do with Tony DiLeo, did it?

In fact, whey don’t they just bring back Maurice Cheeks? He can win with this squad, he’s proven he can.

What did Cheeks, O’Brien or DiLeo do wrong? They won, they got to the playoffs, and they even won in the playoffs.

Also, I would argue, all three played an uptempo, exciting brand of basketball that was worth watching—O’Brien stressed shooting the three, early and often, while Cheeks and DiLeo stressed defense and the running game and scoring off fast breaks.

Even though Cheeks and DiLeo lacked Iverson, the NBA’s most exciting player, they STILL won and got to the playoffs without Iverson, which is actually quite an accomplishment.

I don’t understand the revolving door on the Sixer’s coaching situation.

They had Larry Brown here for five years, and every year was exciting, and there was stability. I don’t think a Doug Collins, who is superannuated, or a retread like Eddie Jordan, is the answer here.

What is needed first and foremost is a commitment from the OWNER and the GM to get players, small players, who can play the running game, and second, a coach who can coach shooting the three ball, running the running game, and playing in the European style that has taken over the NBA game the last five years.

San Antonio and Tim Duncan aren’t winning like they used to because of the changes in the league and the rules.

The Sixers badly need to get a Two Guard, such as Allen Iverson, and a Three Shooter, such as Kyle Korver or Rasheed Wallace. Wallace would be good because he can rebound and play defense as well as shoot the three, and he’s from Philly.

Iverson would also probably want to come back to Philly.

With the existing nucleus, those two players would be good additions.

Getting back Korver and Salmons, along with obtaining Iverson and Wallace, would be ideal.

Then the Sixers could let go some of the less talented guards they’re holding onto and keep just one or two reserve guards, and play Korver, Salmons, Miller, Iverson and maybe one or two other guards as a rotation.

At power forward and center, assuming Brand ever comes back, you’d have Wallace, possibly Korver as swing man, Iguodala, Dalembert, Speights, Young and others. That’s a good front line, offensively and defensively.

Also, at that point, you could trade Brand for something you really needed. Like Josh Smith or Jim Bibby or John Salmons.

Now you have a team—then get a coach. Once you have a good team, finding a coach will be the easy part, and that team will win, by the way, it will win fifty games going away.

–Art Kyriazis, Philly/South Jersey
Home of the World Champion Philadelphia Phillies

Detroit was embarrassingly bad against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers, by far the worst performance of any playoff team.

Not only that, but the games were boring.

There was one player who might have at least made the games entertaining, and here I refer to ALLEN IVERSON who for some odd reason was sitting down by order of Detroit management.

AI has the second highest career playoff scoring average in NBA history—second only to Michael Jordan—and YOU SIT HIM DOWN FOR THE PLAYOFFS?

I should think that AI would have been a bit revved up to play LeBron James, only the best player in the league.

Even if Detroit went down in flames, I think we could have seen AI go off for 40 points in at least one of those playoff games.

He’s Allen Iverson, that’s what he does.

I’m not totally sure what narcotics or drugs Detroit is on, but sitting down your best scorer against the NBA’s best team in the playoffs is crazy.

I might note, Detroit had trouble scoring even 80 points most every game in the series—they had point totals like 78, 79, and so forth. Again, an Allen Iverson would have helped that tremendously.

Over and over, even hurt, Allen Iverson has always shown up for the playoffs and played big.

Commissioner David Stern should have stepped in here and required Detroit to produced Allen Iverson for the playoffs.

It’s embarrassing for the league and for the fans that we were denied the opportunity to see an Allen Iverson-LeBron James playoff series.

This is an insult to our intelligence and to us as fans.

No other matchup in the playoffs would have been as interesting or intriguing, except possibly watching Kobe Bryant against LeBron James in the finals.

Whenever AI went against LeBron James this winter in the regular season, he had an extraordinary game on a nationally televised Sunday afternoon game, he scored 30 or 40 points, I can’t recall how many.

But it’s easy enough to look up the game logs from the regular season:

November 19, 2008: Detroit 96, Cleveland 89. Iverson leading scorer for Detroit with 23 points, followed by Rasheed Wallace with 21 points. LeBron James and Mo Williams each with 25 points. Detroit outscores Cleveland 30-21 in the 4th quarter.

February 1, 2009: Cleveland 90, Detroit 80. Iverson leading scorer for Detroit with 22 points, followed by Rick Hamilton with 16 points. LeBron James goes off for 33 points in this game, Mo Williams scores 22. Detroit is winning after three quarters, but Cleveland takes Detroit down in the 4th quarter 32-14, coming from eight back to win by ten at the end. This was actually a great game where Iverson and James were dueling, and James just came up huge in the 4th quarter. This is what the playoffs might have been like between them.

February 22, 2009: Cleveland 99, Detroit 78. Iverson leading scorer for Detroit with 14 points, followed by Walter Hermann. It’s pretty clear AI is injured in this game. He only played about 26 minutes. Surprisingly, Delonte West (of St. Joe’s Philly fame) led Cleveland with 25 points, followed by LeBron James with 25. This game was a blowout. Cleveland broke out 31-17 in the first quarter and never looked back.

March 31, 2009: Cleveland 79, Detroit 73. Rick Hamilton leads Detroit with 13 points, playing almost 35 minutes, Iverson scores 11 points playing about 18 minutes. This is a weird game due to the low score. LeBron scores 25 for Cleveland, but no one else on the Cavs gets more than a dozen. A close game, but the Cavs win. Here, again, Iverson is hurt, plays limited minutes, but contributes offensively and keeps Detroit in the game.

SUMMARY: In four regular season games, Detroit won once, had two close games, and was only blown out once. Iverson was their leading scorer in three of those games, and was their second leading scorer in the fourth game, and in every game except perhaps the blowout game, made a huge impact on the game. It’s fair to infer, from the box scores, that if you took Iverson away from the Detroit Pistons, in a direct Cleveland-Detroit Playoff matchup, that Detroit would probably get blown out.

Actual results:

Game 1 April 18 Detroit Pistons 84 Cleveland Cavaliers 102
Game 2 April 21 Detroit Pistons 82 Cleveland Cavaliers 94
Game 3 April 24 Cleveland Cavaliers 79 Detroit Pistons 68
Game 4 April 26 Cleveland Cavaliers 99 Detroit Pistons 78

As you can see, Detroit not only lost four in a row, but they scored 84, 82, 68 and 78 points in those games, which is an average offensive output of only 78 points a game. That’s pretty horrible, especially when you’re giving up 102, 94, 79 and 99 points to the opposition.

Even though Detroit would have lost with AI, the playoffs would have been the LeBron-AI show instead of a pathetic rollover. Detroit should be ashamed of themselves.

Art Kyriazis
Philly/South Jersey
Home of the Philadelphia Phillies

Well, no matter that Boston won in 7 incredible games, this has turned into a pleasant surprise, and a rivalry at that.

I remember well the old Michael Jordan-Larry Bird Chicago-Boston series of the 1980s, which were insane, with Jordan scoring infinity points, but Boston having a better team and winning anyway, and these games have been a lot like that.

Without Garnett, Boston has come down to earth, and Chicago has great young players, especially DERRICK ROSE the SUPER ROOKIE who’s really come to play. He only dropped 36 on Boston his first playoff game—Iverson-like intensity in the playoff cauldron. Watching Rose square off against Paul Pierce and Ray Allen was really something.

Chicago has at least six championship banners from the Jordan years, and a lot of titles, and Boston has at least thirteen from the Russell year, another five from the Bird years, and one from last year, so between them these two franchises have about half of the all the NBA championships of the last fifty years. It’s a lot of history and pride on the line.

I know Philly-Boston used to be something, and Boston-LA is always something, but Chicago-Boston is surely something too, and this year’s playoff series between the two was SOMETHING.

Chicago was assisted by at least three ex-Sixers this year—Larry Hughes, Tim Thomas and John Salmons—for different portions of the year. Hughes helped Chicago in the first half of the season, before he was moved to the NY Knicks, while Salmons was a late season acquisition from the Sacramento Kings. Thomas was over the hill, but helped them all year, including during the playoffs.

Everyone will remember the awful trade of Salmons, Kenny Thomas and Corliss Williamson a couple of years back for an over the hill, injured and not so productive Chris Webber—well, to be fair, in 2005-06, Webber’s only full season with the Sixers, he did average 20 ppg, balancing scoring duties with Iverson, and the Sixers won 38 games—and missed the last playoff spot in the east by 2 games. Such is the difference between success and failure in the NBA. Everyone thought that pairing would last forever.

That is until the two of them missed fan appreciation day the next to last day of the season. All the old fat white guys on sports radio suddenly went nuts and demanded they both be traded. Are you kidding me?

By the very next season, Webber played only 18 games, Iverson was back to scoring 30 plus ppg, but the Sixers panicked and traded Iverson after only 15 games, regressed to 35 wins, again missing the playoffs by five wins. Webber’s contract was bought out and I’m not even sure he ever played again.

In the meantime, John Salmons by this past season had developed into a very fine player with Sacramento—at 6 foot seven he was a good defensive player, and he finally had learned the offensive game, pouring in twenty points a game for the lowly Kings.

Chicago, in need of a scoring guard, took notice and picked Salmons up for a song during midseason (where was Eddie Stefanski during all this?) and Salmons helped drive Chicago into the playoffs and the final seed during a late season run.

Watching a guy like Salmons who played his high school ball at Plymouth-Whitemarsh, and who spent his first four years in a Sixers uniform, help drive the Chicago Bulls to a playoff spot, was kind of annoying to me this year. It only got worse during the legendary Game Six of this years Chicago-Boston series, the triple-overtime game in which Salmons dropped 35 points on the Celtics. Now that was showing off.

Does anyone doubt that Salmons could have been helpful at the two guard position this year for the Sixers? I think the case is closed on that one. Salmons is tall, he plays good defense and he can score.

This past year Salmons earned 5.7 win shares, one of those defensive, and averaged close to 19 ppg. His field goal average was .473, very efficient, and his three point average was .415, also excellent, and he averaged 2 assists and only 1.7 turnovers a game. That goes along with 4.3 rebounds a game. Throw in a steal a game and a block a game, and you’ve got a really good player who can do a lot of good things. It’s true Salmons is now thirty years old, but so what? He might be a late bloomer, but if he’s learned to play the game, he’s learned to play the game. And he can play.

Ray Allen is what, a hundred? He was playing for Milwaukee back when the amphibians and the reptiles first walked on dry land. He’s so old that some of the cave paintings in France are attributed to him. I’m not saying Ray Allen is old, but he has grandchildren playing ball in college right now. It’s not that Ray Allen is old, but he’s the only NBA player I know who get’s Social Security checks delivered next to his NBA paychecks.

Seriously, though, Ray Allen is the ageless wonder, a beautiful player who can still play the game beautifully, and for those who think Allen Iverson is washed up or too old, I offer as exhibit one, Ray Allen. Small shooting guards who are pure shooters can play a long time in the NBA—I think here of the wondrous Hal Greer of the Sixers—a Hall of Famer—who played of course with Wilt on the 1967 team that won 68 teams and dethroned the Celtics for the title—and we should be mindful of this fact.

In short, Boston-Chicago was a wonderful, marvelous series, a beautiful thing to witness, pure basketball at its best, overtime game upon overtime game, each with its own storyline. Neither time yielded or gave quarter. It’s nice to see pro athletes play that hard and that long and give effort on that scale. Again, it’s reminiscent of the days of Jordan and Bird and when they first met in the late 1980s—those playoff series were wars between Chicago and Boston. This latest series was no less.

–art kyriazis, philly/south jersey
home of the world champion philadelphia phillies

1) Tom “Odysseus the Wise” Izzo is Italian, which means that he’s practically greek, which means he’s practically Spartan. On the way to the final four, in round two, the Spartans of Michigan State defeated the Trojans of USC. The Spartans defeated the Trojans. Funny how that battle always comes out the same, millennium after millennium. Michigan State baffled USC throughout with their famed “Trojan Horse” defense, with Raymar “Achilles” Morgan’s ally-oop, the Kalin “Ajax” Lucas’ give and go, the “Nestor” low post kickout and the “Odysseus” trick ball play. Magic “Homer Hercules Son of Zeus” Johnson sat on the coach’s side on the bench, singing their tale of triumph in fifteen syllable heroic poetic rap to all that would listen. Plus, their fans hectored the USC Trojans during the entire match, telling them to go back to Paris when they were from. Plus there was this blind guy Ty Reesias on the sideline predicting that USC would lose. Bottom Line: the Spartans could play the Trojans a thousand times, and the Spartans would always win. History is history. It’s not true that Brad Pitt was at the game doing research for his sequel to Troy, the movie. Besides which, Tom “Socrates Plato Aristotle” Izzo is one of the smartest and greatest coaches ever in NCAA history. Plus he probably has actual Spartan blood in him and he has the wisdom of a thousand greek philosophers, and can coach some ball.

2) East Lansing is a rocking college town. And Michigan State coeds are the most beautiful in all the land.

3) What in the world is a “Tar Heel”?

4) Most schools ban smoking in all buildings. At the University of North Carolina, smoking is required in all buildings. After all, tobacco pays for everything in North Carolina. In fact, babies are given their first cigarettes at age one in North Carolina per state custom. Also, cigarettes are given away at all UNC home games to undergrads.

5) “WE ARE SPARTANS!!!!”

6) Anyone who doesn’t believe the Spartans will win, is condemned to be thrown into the bottomless pit of King Leonidas.

7) Three hundred Spartans are worth two million Persians, and four millions UNC players.

8) Thermopylae save the Western World from Freedom, along with the Three Hundred Spartans, who obedient to their country’s laws, lie dead there. The Spartans of Michigan State will save the US from another Southern NCAA champion and give us a Big Ten Champion.

9) All Spartans are superior genetically, because the defective ones are thrown off the mountain at birth. This includes Michigan States hoops players.

10) The Spartans have a detailed conditioning program that starts from age four. You should see what the Michigan State Hoops players do.

11) The Spartans never lose a battle. This is well known. Michigan State hardly ever loses a ballgame that matters.

12) Michigan State is playing a home game. The Final Four and Championshiop Game are in Detroit.

13) Detroit has an immense Greek population, and many of them are Spartans. And they have a rocking Greektown. Spartans love to party after they kill their opponents.

14) East Lansing, Michigan is the coolest place on earth, and home of the Spartans of Michigan State.

15) Michigan is a sensible place full of sensible people.

16) Michigan gave us Bob Seger, Grand Funk Railroad, Kid Rock, Iggy Pop & the Stooges, and all of Motown.

17) North Carolina has given us nothing culturally, unless you want to count segregation as a cultural institution.

18) Izzo is very nearly Rizzo, Philly’s most beloved mayor ever. Frank Rizzo was cool. Tom Izzo is cool.

19) The Big Ten actually go to class and get degrees, unlike their brethren in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

20) Michigan State has beaten a series of excellent, higher ranked teams to get to the finals, including UConn, all of which are better than UNC.

21) Michigan State has a number of experienced seniors on its roster who have played together for a while. Again, this is a big advantage in this era of players leaving after a year or two for the pros.

22) This one is for King Leonidas, and also for the auto industry and the unemployed auto workers of Michigan.

23) Gov. Granholm of Michigan told the boys, come home victorious with your shields, or dead upon them.

24) The best reason the Spartans will win—they are unfraid to lose, unafraid of death, unafraid of anything, and totally playing with house money at this point.

25) Because this is America, and we root for the UNDERDOG. So what if the TAR HEELS have amassed an army of two million and the Spartans are but three hundred? What does this matter to the SPARTANS????? Did they not fight and win the moral battle at Thermopylae? Don’t they still make movies about those guys 3,000 years later?

My money’s on the SPARTANS!!!!!

P.S. What IS a Tar Heel?

–art kyriazis, philly/south jersey
home of the world champion phillies

PART ONE – VILLANOVA HAD A GREAT RUN – ANOTHER BIG FIVE WINNER FOR THE BOOKS

There is no denying Villanova had a great run in this year’s NCAA tournament, making it to the Final Four before losing to North Carolina last night. It was a hard loss to swallow, especially after watching the Spartans of Michigan State make such a statement game of upsetting UConn in the opening of the Final Four doubleheader, but Villanova shot very poorly from the three point line, and could not establish its inside game against UNC. Moreover, Villanova’s normally excellent defense failed them against UNC’s superb inside-outside attack of attacking at the low post but also kicking out to the three point line, and here, UNC shooting 50% or better from the three point arc sealed Villanova’s fate—if Villanova sagged to defense the low post, UNC simply killed them from the three point arc. When Villanova came out to play perimeter defense, UNC exploited the seams to get easy buckets inside. One final point is that UNC seemed to be taller overall than Villanova, and this seemed to make some difference on the defensive side of the ball; Villanova was not getting out in transition, and in the half-court offense, was having trouble shooting over, or matching up with, the taller UNC players.

Having said that, Villanova was by far the best Big East team in the tournament this year. They beat UCLA handily, they crushed a very good Duke team (with an RPI of one), they got past a Pitt team that had been ranked #1 at times this season, and got to the Final Four.

This year’s Villanova team was a team of seniors and juniors, experienced players who had played together a long time. I had them bracketed to get to the finals of the NCAA, not just the Final Four, because I felt that having three seniors who had played together as long as Villanova’s seniors had played together, was an incredible advantage in today’s college basketball.

In today’s college game, your best player usually leaves after one season to seek out pro contracts and a sneaker endorsement. It’s hard to find athletes who will commit to four years on campus.

But we all know why they stay at Villanova. Howie Long tells the story every week on that NFL pre-game show. It’s the nuns, the professors, the small campus atmosphere. Villanova feels like home. It’s the kind of place you don’t want to leave. For many of the kids who come to play basketball there, they will learn much more than basketball at Villanova, they will learn life skills and many other things.

Having said that, it should be pointed out that Villanova is now spending as much money on its basketball program, according to the Philly Daily News and other sources, as any other major Division I basketball program, around $5 million annually, which compares to $6 million annually spent by UConn or by UNC. And yet $5 million annually isn’t even close to the top in the Big East.

However, because Villanova does not have a Division I football program that earns a lot of money, Villanova’s sports programs run an annual deficit of around $16 million which have to be picked up by NCAA revenues, boosters, and the like. It’s hard to believe that Villanova has continued to stay committed at this level, given their size and endowment.

At the same time, we can now more easily see why Temple, St. Joes’s, LaSalle and Penn are not competing at the same level as they used to ten or twenty years ago vis-à-vis NCAA competition—it now takes $5 million annually to really ramp up a program to final four viability.

That St. Joe’s made the Final Four a few years back with Jameer Nelson and Delonte West for a fraction of that budget is a testament to the recruiting and coaching skills of Phil Martelli.

That Temple got to the elite eight so many times with John Chaney and almost to the Final Four for a fraction of that budget is likewise a testament to the recruiting and coaching skills of Chaney, a hall of fame coach.

A school that has a big time football program—like Penn State or Michigan State—should be able to afford to spend on their basketball program—and Michigan State has been successful in basketball, as has Penn State to a lesser degree (they’re doing well in the NIT this year after being a bubble team that didn’t get an at-large bid with the NCAA). Those schools don’t have to deficit spend on basketball, they can take plus side monies from football and invest them in basketball.

I think this explains why, for so many years, President Liacouras of Temple, who was instrumental in getting the Liacouras Center built in North Philadelphia where Temple Basketball now plays its home games, was so interested in putting together a Division I Temple Football program which would be a money maker. He wanted a football program that would make enough money that basketball would be able to share revenues from football, rather than having the university deficit spend on basketball.

Given today’s economics of big time NCAA basketball, this was a far-sighted view of the situation. Temple today remains in Division I football, though they’ve dropped down a conference, and can still be a profitable football team. That dream is still alive for them. Al Golden is doing a good job as football coach.

To summarize, Villanova had a magnificent run in the NCAA this year, capping off a four year run by these seniors that was nothing less than magical. Kudoes and cheers to Villanova and to coach Jay Wright. For a long time I was a Steve Lappas guy, and I always thought he got a bum deal from Villanova, and I was very slow to come around to Jay Wright, I will admit I have a bias there. At first I thought Wright was glib and not too bright, and that he couldn’t coach in tough games. He’s proven me completely wrong. He’s both a good recruiter and an excellent coach.

Art Kyriazis Philly/South Jersey
Home of the World Champion Philadelphia Phillies