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For over 25 years, Bob Matthews has held the title of Rochester's most popular sports writer/commentator. For over 20 years, Bob has hosted WHAM's nightly sports talk program...consistently ranked at the top of his time slot!
From 1978 to 2012, Bob Matthews was a sports columnist for the Times-Union and Democrat and Chronicle and a regular "As the Sports World Turns" contributor to the Gannett News Service. He is the only person to be selected Press-Radio Club Sportswriter of the Year (five times) and Sportscaster of the Year, and was a pioneer inductee into the Frontier Field Walk of Fame.
A Rochester native, Bob graduated from Brighton High School where he played varsity baseball, basketball and served as student council V-P. Bob is also a veteran, serving his country in Vietnam.
Always opinionated and outspoken, Bob's proudest accomplishment is advocating for Frontier Field. His all-time favorite athlete...former Red Wing Luke Easter. One of his sports regrets……not being around for the glory year of the Rochester Royals.
NOTRE DAME’S MANTI TE’O WILL BE NO. 1 ON THIS HEISMAN BALLOT
ANOTHER SAD SUNDAY FOR THE BUFFALO BILLS. HO-HUM
SHOULD RALPH OR SOMEONE ELSE CAN CHAN?
NFL MONDAY MORNING QUARTERBACK: HOME TEAMS 7-9
KNIGHTHAWKS NOT STANDING PAT
SU HOOPS PREPARES FOR RARE PRE-BIG EAST TEST
Heisman Trophy history will be made on Saturday night, Dec. 8.
The winner of the most prestigious individual award in American sports will – for the very first time – will either be a freshman (Texas A&M redshirt freshman Johnny Manziel) or a purely defensive player (Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’0).
Manziel is an incredibly athletic, versatile and charismatic player. His “Heisman moment” was leading his team to a road upset over the then undefeated and top-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide.
Texas A&M finished the regular season 10-2. The only losses were at home, 20-17 to Florida Sept. 8 and 24-19 at LSU Oct. 20. Manziel passed for 3,419 yards and 24 TDs, with only 8 interceptions. He also had 184 carries for 1,181 net yards (6.42-yard average) and 19 TDs.
I won’t deduct points from Manziel because he is a freshman and will have several more chances to win the Heisman. But I can’t completely dismiss his team’s two home losses (albeit to quality opponents).
He’ll be No. 2 when I submit my ballot Monday, Dec. 3.
The main reason Notre Dame finished 12-0 is a hard-nosed defense that answered every challenge. The Irish rank 48th in total offense among the nation’s 120 FBS (top-tier major colleges) and 75th in scoring offense (26.75 points per game). Their winning margins included 3, 3, 3, 7, 7 and 9 points.
Manti Te’o is the inspirational team leader and the best player on a hard-nosed unit that ranks 6th in the nation in total defense (allowed 287.25 yards per game) and 2nd in scoring defense (10.33 yards per game).
Te’o’s “Heisman moment” was being in the middle of Notre Dame’s concrete wall that sealed the win over USC by stonewalling the Trojans late in the game on four straight plays from the 1-yard line – and eating up precious minutes in the process. It was one of the epic stands in college football history.
Te’o will be No. 1 on my ballot – but I believe Manziel will win by a narrow margin.
ANOTHER DEMORALIZING LOSS BY THE BILLS – CHAN GAILEY SIMPLY HAS TO GO
Sunday’s game was one the Buffalo Bills had to have to preserve even faint hopes of making the playoffs. They were on the road against the Indianapolis Colts – a 2-14 team last season that required only one season to rebuild. A future Hall of Fame quarterback (Andrew Luck) surely has helped a lot – but is he THAT much better than Ryan Fitzpatrick? C’mon now. Let’s be honest. Of course he is – and always will be.
The Bills aren’t going to make the playoffs for an amazing 13th straight season. We all know that is almost impossible to do in this age of free agency and a draft designed to reward failure.
The two most glaring deficiencies for the Bills are – well, only the head coach (Chan Gailey) and the quarterback (Ryan Fitzpatrick).
We all know the best offensive threat on the team is running back C.J. Spiller – who is by far the most underused player in the NFL. He had 14 carries (seriously) for 107 yards in Sunday’s brutal 20-13 loss to Indianapolis. He had 1 catch for -4 yards. He disappeared in the fourth quarter. And Gailey is an offensive genius?
When your star running back averages 7.6 yards on 14 carries and your QB averages 5.5 yards on 33 pass attempts in a loss to an inferior opponent, something is seriously wrong.
The worst move by Gailey and GM Buddy Nix was choosing Fitzpatrick the team’s ”franchise QB” after last season’s shocking 5-2 start. The Bills are 5-15 since. Fitz’s career record as an NFL starting QB dropped to 22-40-1. And you wonder why Buffalo is the NFL’s Loserville NFL?
Buffalo is 14-29 under Gailey, who is proving week-after-week that he is not a strong coach on the sidelines. You can’t even use the old “no headphones” excuse for Gailey. He wears them. I just wonder what he’s listening to.
Week-after-week, the opposing coaches do a better job making halftime adjustments than Chan and his clan of coaches.
Sunday’s beauties included not having Rian Lindell try a 52-yard field goal – indoors. NFL kickers are above .600 from 50-plus yards in 2011-12. His leg clearly lacks the strength to be an above-average NFL kicker. So why was the popular punter the one released?
Lindell has company. Stevie Johnson proved again Sunday that he lacks the big-play speed to be a legitimate No. 1 WR on a good NFL team.
Fitzpatrick’s lack of arm strength and inconsistency continues to frustrate nearly everyone in western New York except Nix and Gailey.
Another Gailey gaffe Sunday was somehow believing Fitzpatrick could move the ball from his own 10 to within field-goal range (presumably from 35 yards or closer) in 58 seconds to close the first half. Short incompletion. Short incompletion. Short give-up run up the middle. Timeout Indianapolis. An early Christmas gift to the Colts from Santa Chan. Field goal. 13-6 halftime lead.
To bring back an overmatched head coach simply because he has time left on his contract is one of the most glaring and sad examples of why the Bills are running up a non-playoff streak that might last for a very long time.
P.S. – I honestly believe the Bills have the overall player personnel to be an above-average team. The organization needs upgrades at head coach, GM and QB. That’s all. Owner Ralph Wilson might be too demoralized to care.
NFL MONDAY MORNING QUARTERBACK
There could be the fewest new teams in the NFL playoffs since 1995 – when only 4 of the 12 playoff teams repeated from the year before. There were 8 new teams.
Six teams repeated in the 2011 playoffs. The average number of new playoff teams since 1991 – the year after the playoff field increased to 12 teams – is 6.4 per season.
The 2011 playoff teams were Atlanta, Baltimore, Cincinnati, Denver, Detroit, Green Bay, Houston, New England, New Orleans, New York Giants, Pittsburgh and San Francisco.
Eight of those teams appear to be locks to return to the playoffs this season: Atlanta (10-1 record), Houston (10-1), Baltimore (9-2), San Francisco (8-2-1), Denver (8-3), New England (8-3), Green Bay (7-4) and the New York Giants (7-4)…Cincinnati (6-5) and Pittsburgh (6-5) appear to have very good chances to return (assuming Ben Roethlisberger returns soon to the Steelers)…New Orleans (5-6) has a slim chance and Detroit (4-7) is dead.
New York Giants QB Eli Manning -- He ended his slump in Sunday night’s 38-10 home romp over Green Bay. He was 16x30 for 249 yards with 3 TD passes and 0 INTs.
Carolina QB Cam Newton – There was no sophomore slump Monday night for the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL draft. He passed for 306 yards and 2 TDs and rushed for 52 yards and 2 TDs in a 30-28 road win over Philadelphia. It looked like he belonged in another league (a higher one). Of course, so did the Eagles (a lower one).
Baltimore RB Ray Rice – The Ravens had 4th-and-29 at their own 37 with 1:37 left in regulation and trailing host San Diego 13-10. Rice caught a dump pass and zipped and zigzagged 29 yards to set up a field goal to tie the game. Baltimore won in OT 16-13.
Jacksonville QB Chad Henne – In his first NFL start since 2010, he passed for 261 yards and 2 TDs in a 24-19 home win over Tennessee. Maybe the Bills are no cinch Sunday over the Jaguars after all.
Cincinnati RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis – He had 19 carries for 129 yards and 1 TD, and set up two more scores with runs of 39 and 48 yards, in a 34-10 home win over Oakland.
Atlanta QB Matt Ryan – He was 26x32 for 353 yards in a 24-23 home win over Tampa Bay. Julio Jones had 6 catches for 147 yards and 1 TD.
St. Louis CB Janoris Jenkins – In a 31-17 road win over Arizona, he became the first NFL rookis to return 2 INTs for touchdowns in the same game.
Miami QB Ryan Tannehill – He helped the Dolphins score 17 points in the final 8:05 of a 24-21 home win over Seattle. He was 18x26 for 253 yards with 1 TD and 1 INT.
Washington QB Robert Griffin III – He passed for 311 yards and 4 TDs in a 38-31 Thanksgiving Day road win over Dallas.
New England RB Shane Vereen – The team’s latest hero-from-nowhere had 133 yards on 12 touches in a 49-19 home romp over the New York Jets.
Pittsburgh QB Charlie Batch – He had 0 TD passes and 3 INTs in a 20-14 loss in Cleveland. He had company. Each of Pittsburgh’s four running backs lost a fumble.
New Orleans QB Drew Brees – He had two INTs returned for touchdowns in a costly 31-21 home loss to San Francisco.
Arizona QB Ryan Lindley – He threw 4 INTs in a 31-17 home loss to St. Louis.
Dallas’ running game – The Cowboys had 35 yards on 11 carries (outrushed 142-35) in a 38-31 home loss to Washington on Thanksgiving Day.
Minnesota QB Christian Ponder – He had a season-low 10.3 total QBR in a 28-10 loss to Chicago and has posted a QBR under 20.0 in four of his last five games.
NOTES, STATS AND FACTS
Baltimore is 17-5 in November under John Harbaugh…Arizona is 0-7 since starting 4-0…San Diego has 2 wins against teams other than Kansas City…Eli Manning (New York Giants) is 14-19 in November after Sunday night’s 38-10 romp over Green Bay and 62-35 vs. the rest of the league…Cleveland was glad Pittsburgh played without injured QB Ben Roethlisberger Sunday. Roethlisberger is 14-1 lifetime vs. the Browns….Cleveland is 4-17 in its last 21 games after the 20-14 win over the Steelers…Chicago is 13-2 in their last 15 games when QB Jay Cutler plays and 1-6 in the last 7 games he missed.
Matt Schaub (Houston) is 17-4 in 2011-12…Tony Romo (Dallas) is 21-4 in November despite last week’s 38-31 home loss to Washington…New England is 19-0 in the second half of the season since 2010…Cincinnati is 6-25 under Marvin Lewis when his QBs pass for 300+yards and 32-7 when a RB rushes for 100+ yards….Indianapolis has followed every loss with a victory this season…Kansas City is 0-6 at home (outscored 157-81)…Jacksonville was 0-5 (outscored 153-44) at home before Sunday’s 24-19 win over Tennessee…Seattle is 5-0 at home and 1-5 on the road….Miami overcame a 7-point deficit in the final period for a victory for the first time since 2005.
Atlanta has 7 wins this season by 7-or-fewer points, tying an NFL record for teams starting 11-0 or 10-1…Cincinnati has three straight wins by a combined 93-29…Oakland has lost four straight games by a combined 169-79…There were two overtime games Week 12 and 16 OT games this season (home teams 8-7-1 in those games)…. Carolina is 5-4 on Monday Night Football and last played in MNF in 2007…Philadelphia held opposing QBs to a 76.8 passer rating in its first six games and has allowed a 143.5 average passer rating in the last six games.
Bob’s Power Rankings Entering Week 13 (not including Monday night’s Carolina at Philadelphia game): 1-Houston…2-Atlanta…3-San Francisco…4-Baltimore…5-New England…6-Denver…7-Chicago…8 New York Giants…9—Green Bay…10-Tampa Bay…11-Cincinnati…12-Indianapolis…13-Pittsburgh…14-Seattle…15—New Orleans…16-Minnesota…17-Washington…18-Dallas…19—Miami…20-St. Louis…21-Detroit…22-San Diego…23-New York Jets…24-Buffalo…25-Tennessee…26-Carolina…27-Cleveland…28-Philadelphia…29-Arizona…30-Jacksonville…31-Oakland…32-Kansas City.
Week 12 Stat Pack
Home teams were 7-9 straight (100-75-1 this season)
Home teams were 8-6-2 against the Las Vegas point spread (76-96-4 this season)
Las Vegas favorites were 11-6 10-5 straight up (113-62-1 this season)
Las Vegas favorites were 8-6-2 against the spread (77-95-4 this season)
Teams scoring first were 8-8 (103-72-1 this season)
Teams leading after the first quarter were 6-6 (93-47-1 this season)
Teams leading at halftime were 8-5 (123-39-1)
Teams leading after three quarters were 12-2 (135-28)
Teams with the most rushing yards were 11-4 (119-56-1 this season)
Teams with the most passing yards were 10-5 (100-74-1 this season)
Teams winning the turnover battle were 9-3 (109-28-1 this season)
Teams with the fewest penalty yards were 7-8 (94-76-1 this season)
Teams leading in time of possession are 9-6 (104-70-1 this season)
Teams entering the game with the better record were 12-3 (76-45-1 this season)
The AFC won both games against the NFC Week 12 but the NFC leads this season’s interconference series 27-19 (+8)
There were 741 in 16 games (46.1-point average)…There have been 8,106 points scored in 176 games this season (46.1-point average).
Week 12 Top Performers:
300-yard passers (10) – Matthew Stafford (Detroit) 441 yards (lost)…Tony Romo (Dallas) 441 (lost)…Joe Flacco (Baltimore) 355 (won)…Matt Ryan (Atlanta) 353 (won)…Tom Brady (New England) 323 (won)…Matt Schaub (Houston) 315 (won)…Ryan Lindley (Arizona) 312 (lost)…Robert Griffin III (Washington) 311 (won)…Cam Newton (Carolina) 306 (won)…Mark Sanchez (New York Jets) 301
100-yard rushers (8) – Bryce Brown (Philadelphia) 178 yards (lost),,,Steven Jackson (St. Louis) 139 (won)…BenJarvus Green-Ellis (Cincinnati) 129 (won)…Alfred Morris (Washington) 113 (won)…Adrian Peterson (Minnesota) 108 (lost)…C.J. Spiller (Buffalo) 107 (lost)…Jamaal Charles (Kansas City) 107 (lost)…Arian Foster (Houston) 102 (won)
100-yard receivers (12) – Andre Johnson (Houston) 188 yards (won)…Julio Jones (Atlanta) 147 (won)…Dez Bryant (Dallas) 145 (lost)…Torrey Smith (Baltimore) 144 (won)…Calvin Johnson (Detroit) 140 (lost)…Davone Bess (Miami) 129 (won)…Ryan Broyles (Detroit) 126 (lost)…Chris Givens (St. Louis) 115…A.J. Green (Cincinnati) 111 (won)…Stevie Johnson (Buffalo) 106 (lost)…Cecil Shorts (Jacksonville) 105 (won)…Reggie Wayne (Indianapolis) 102 (won).
Week 13’s Key Games
New Orleans at Atlanta (Thursday) – Time is running out for the Saints
Seattle at Chicago – Both teams are in the playoff hunt
Indianapolis at Detroit – Can the spunky Colts continue to surprise?
Minnesota at Green Bay – Packers need to bounce back
Tampa Bay at Denver – Tough spot for the improved Buccaneers
Pittsburgh at Baltimore – Big Ben to the rescue?
Philadelphia at Dallas – Can the Cowboys wake up? Eagles a good alarm clock
New York Giants at Washington – RG3 always is a worthy prime-timer.
Week 13 early betting line: Atlanta -4 at New Orleans (Thursday)…Buffalo – 5 ½ at home against Jacksonville…Chicago -5 at home over Seattle…Green Bay -7 ½ at home against Minnesota…New York Jets -4 at home against Arizona…San Francisco -7 at St. Louis…New England -6 at Miami…Detroit -5 at home against Indianapolis…Houston -6 at Tennessee…Houston -6 at Tennessee…Baltimore -6 ½ at home against Pittsburgh…Denver -7 at home against Tampa Bay…Oakland -2 at home against Cleveland…San Diego -2 at home against Cincinnati…Dallas -7 at home against Philadelphia…New York Giants -6 at Washington (Monday).
DEFENDING CHAMPION KNIGHTHAWKS NOT STANDING PAT
The Rochester Knighthawks are the defending champions of the National Lacrosse League but – let’s face it – last season’s title was a bit of a fluke.
The K-hawks had a 7-9 record in the regular season and their best lacrosse when it counted the most. They defeated the Edmonton Rush (6-10 regular-season record) in the Champion’s Cup Final, rallying from a 5-1 halftime deficit.
Training camp over the weekend at Total Sports Experience had around 40 players competing for the 26 roster spots.
Said coach Mike Hasen: “One of the messages that we sent out to the guys now is that we really weren’t all that good last year. We got good at the right time. It’s going to be a harder process this year. It’s going to be a much tougher road to stay where we are right now.”
Owner-general manager Curt Styres and Hasen – two of the organization’s greatest assets – wisely decided not to stand pat.
The high-quality additions could include former Syracuse University superstar and NLL Most Valuable Player Casey Powell, versatile playmaker Jordan Hall (returning from knee surgery), long-time Buffalo Bandits transition player Tom Montour, and defensive stalwarts Sid Smith and Pat McCready.
Other assets include All-Pro goaltender Matt Vinc. Rochester native and emerging transition force Joe Walters, and a high-potential attack featuring Powell, Cody Jamieson, Johnny Powless, Mike Accursi, Cory Vitarelli, Stephen Keogh and Craig Point.
The 2013 season opener is Jan. 5 at the Washington Stealth. The home opener is Jan. 19 against the Buffalo Bandits at Blue Cross Arena at the Community War Memorial.
CAN BOEHEIM BECOME FIRST MAJOR-COLLEGE B-BALL COACH TO WIN 1,000?
Syracuse University basketball coach Jim Boeheim turned 68 last week. How much longer will be work and does he have a realistic chance to become the first coach to win 1,000 major college games?
Boeheim is in good health, has a young family and obviously loves his job.
SU’s talent stream has never been better and the Orange should be good for 20-plus wins for many more years.
I won’t be surprised if Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski, who’ll turn 66 in February, retires – to write a few books and become a TV college hoops analyst – before Boeheim. Coach K already has said he has coached in his final Olympic.
Here are the top six all-time coaches in terms of major-college victories:
1-Mike Krzyzewski 931 wins and 291 losses (.762)
2-Bob Knight (retired) 902-371 (.709)
3-Jim Boeheim 894-304 (.746)
4-Dean Smith (retired) 879-254 (.776)
5—Adolph Rupp (retired and deceased) 876-190 (.822)
6-Jim Calhoun 873-369 (.703).
Are the New England Patriots underrated? Sure, their defense is average at best. But their defense is the best in the league by so far that they just might be the NFL’s best team. New England’s record is 8-3 but the Pats are 4 points removed from being 11-0. Their only losses were 20-18 to Arizona (in hindsight a complete fluke), 31-30 at Baltimore and 24-23 at Seattle.
I wonder what San Francisco 49ers QB Alex Smith feels. He was sidelined with a concussion and second-year QB Colin Kaepernick has replaced him – maybe permanently. Smith ranks fifth in the NFL in passer rating (behind only Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Robert Griffin III) and 1st in completion percentage (70.0).
The Toronto Argonauts, 9-9 in the Canadian Football League regular season, beat the visiting Calgary Stampeders, 35-22 Sunday night, in the 100th Grey Cup. Ricky Ray was 18x30 for 231 yards, with 2 TD passes and 1 INT for the Argos at Rogers Centre in Toronto. It was the 16th championship for the CFL’s oldest franchise.
The NFL players sending nasty tweets regarding the NHL owners and commissioner Gary Bettman have shown no class and are doing nothing positive to end the lockout.
If I were running the Buffalo Bills, and the New York Jets called to offer quarterback Mark Sanchez in trade, I’d listen but wouldn’t give up better than a third-round draft pick. He needs a change of scenery and the Bills could use his arm. I’d also give up a third-round pick to the 49ers for the unfortunate Alex Smith.
All due respect to the late and great boxer Hector Camacho, but he was not more “Macho” than Carmen Basilio.
The Boston Red Sox are very interested in free-agent right-handed slugger Mike Napoli. I don’t blame them. He’d play first base and would have fun taking advantage of the Green Monster in left field.
Crazy NBA trade rumor: Lakers forward Pau Gasol for New York Knicks forward Amar’e Stoudemire. New Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni must have fond memories of the Stoudemire-Steve Nash pick-and-roll with his Phoenix Suns. It would be a good trade for the Knicks. Of course, Stoudemire would need to pass a physical.
The Red Wings should play all home games from April through mid-May in the early afternoon to avoid bone-chilling night temperatures and make the games relatively comfortable for the players and fans. I’d start the games at 12:30 p.m., so fans could take advantage of the fabulous concessions menu at Frontier Field.
STATS AND FACTS
The Oklahoma City Thunder entered Tuesday night with the NBA’s best point differential (+8.1 average), followed by Memphis (+7.5), the Knicks (+6.8), San Antonio (+6.6), Miami (+4.5), Brooklyn (+4.3), the Lakers (+4.1) and the Clippers (+3.9). The 0-12 Washington Wizards were 30th at (-8.2).
Gail Harris died Nov. 14 at age 81 in Gainesville, Va. His main claim to fame was being the last New York Giants player to hit a home run before the team moved to San Francisco. On Sept. 21, 1957, in the best game of his career, he hit 2 HRs and had 7 RBI in a 9-5 victory over the host Pittsburgh Pirates. He was traded to Detroit Jan. 28, 1958. His best big-league season was with the 1968 Tigers: .273, 20 HRs, 83 RBI….His big-league career stats: 437 games; .240 (320x1331); 51 HRs; 190 RBI.
The Rochester Americans have a healthy lead in the AHL New York State Average Home Attendance Derby: 1-Rochester 7,265 (6th in the 30-team AHL)…2-Syracuse 5,367 (14th)…3-Adirondack 3,728 (25th)…4-Albany 3,691 (25th)…5-Binghamton 3,6427th)…The AHL average is 5,363.
Odds on upcoming UFC and boxing events: UFC On Fox Dec. 8 from Seattle: heavyweight championship: Ben Henderson bet $155 to win $100; Nate Diaz bet $100 to win $125…welterweight boxing Dec. 12 from MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas: Manny Pacquiao bet $350 to win $100; Juan Manuel Marquez bet $100 to win $275…WBA light middleweight title fight Dec. 12 from Madison Square Garden: Miguel Angel Cotto bet $289 to win $100; Austin Trout bet $100 to win $200…UFC 155 heavyweight championship from MGM Resorts, Las Vegas: Junior Dos Santos bet $150 ton win $100; Cain Velasquez bet $100 to win $120.
Entering Monday, with only 10 live racing days left this season at Finger Lakes Casino and Racetrack, Wilfredo Rohena continues to lead John Davila Jr., in the jockey standings: Rohena 129 wins, Davila 122 wins, Jaime Rodriguez 116…Davila has won 11 riding titles at the track, including the past 9 years in a row.
Syracuse University is well-represented in the NBA Development League: Kris Joseph and Fab Melo with the Maine Red Claws; Arinze Onuaku with the Canton Charge; Andy Rautins with the Tulsa 66ers.
The Rochester Red Wings Web site asked. “What is your preferred time for day games during the week?” The results: 1:05 p.m., 39 percent…3:05 p.m., 24 percent…11:05 a.m., 20 percent…12:05 a.m., 12:05 p.m. , 16 percent.
SU HOOPS LOOKING GOOD
Syracuse University’s awesome basketball team is 4-0 after brushing off Colgate (for the 47th straight time) 87-51 on Sunday. The Orange are outscroring opponents by 25 points per game (77.5 to 52.5). SU has a .471 field-goal percentage (opponents are .335).
SU even leads in free-throw percentage – that old bugaboo -- .704 to .569.
One poor stat is 3-point field-goal percentage (.266). One big reason is sharpshooter Trevor Cooney’s slow start: 4x19 from 2-point range and 2x15 from 3-point range. He’s much better than that.
Leading scorers are Brandon Triche (15.3-point average), James Southerland (15.3), C.J. Fair (11.0), Michael Carter-Williams (10.3 plus 9.3 assists per game), Rakeem Christmas (7.8) and DaJuan Coleman (6.0).
The next game is a rare pre-Big East legitimate threat: at ArkansasFriday, 8:30 p.m., on ESPN (part of the SEC/Big East Challenge).