Sports Outside the Beltway

Bronx Cheer- Fordham fires Basketball Coach Dereck Whittenburg

The Rams were 1-4 so far this year. From AP-

The signs were pointing to another losing basketball season at Fordham so coach Dereck Whittenburg was fired just five games into his seventh season.

The player known for taking one of the most famous shots in NCAA tournament history wasn’t able to match that type of success at Fordham. Whittenburg compiled a 69-112 record, including 1-4 this season.

“There was a lot of people who thought we should make a change last spring and they rode me pretty hard,” athletic director Frank McLaughlin said Thursday. “I felt that with the strong recruiting class we had coming in, and with the right support, things could turn around. We had a favorable schedule. … We should be better than 1-4 and we felt a change had to be made.”

McLaughlin said Jared Grasso, an assistant on Whittenburg’s staff the last four seasons, will take over for the remainder of the season.

Fordham went 3-25 last year. McLaughlin said “From a purely basketball standpoint it was not a difficult decision. The record speaks for itself.” I agree, a change was justified.


Easiest College Football Schedules

The easiest path to a mythical college football national championship is to go undefeated. The easiest way to do that? Not play anybody Mark Schlabach gives his take on the teams that have the weakest opponents:

1. KANSAS: The Jayhawks’ nonconference schedule includes more cream puffs than your favorite bakery: Central Michigan, Division I-AA Southeastern Louisiana, Toledo and Florida International (all at home). Kansas doesn’t play Texas or Oklahoma in Big 12 Conference play, and the Jayhawks will face Nebraska in Lawrence, Kan., and Missouri in Kansas City.

Nonconference opponents: Central Michigan (home), Southeastern Louisiana (home), Toledo (home), Florida International (home)
Toughest game: at Texas A&M, Oct. 27
Easiest game: vs. Southeastern Louisiana, Sept. 8

Hawaii 2. HAWAII: Warriors quarterback Colt Brennan won’t have many problems putting up Heisman Trophy-like numbers against Hawaii’s schedule. The Warriors play two nonconference games against Division I-AA teams Northern Colorado and Charleston Southern, along with a road game at UNLV and home game against Washington. The Warriors’ WAC schedule includes home games against Fresno State and Boise State and road games at San Jose State and Nevada.

Nonconference opponents: Northern Colorado (home), UNLV (road), Charleston Southern (home), Washington (home)
Toughest game: vs. Boise State, Nov. 23
Easiest game: vs. Charleston Southern, Sept. 23

Arkansas 3. ARKANSAS: The Razorbacks’ slate is a perfect example of why SEC teams have a poor reputation when it comes to out-of-conference scheduling. The Hogs will get fat on a nonconference schedule that includes home games against Troy, North Texas, Division I-AA Tennessee-Chattanooga and Florida International. SEC road games at Alabama, Tennessee and LSU prevented this from being the country’s easiest schedule.

Nonconference opponents: Troy (home), North Texas (home), Chattanooga (home), Florida International (home)
Toughest game: at LSU, Nov. 23
Easiest game: vs. Tennessee-Chattanooga, Oct. 6

Indiana 4. INDIANA: In a season in which the Hoosiers don’t play Big 10 heavyweights Michigan and Ohio State, they beefed up their nonconference schedule with the likes of Division I-AA Indiana State, Western Michigan, Akron and Ball State. Indiana plays rival Purdue and Penn State at home, but travels to Iowa and Wisconsin. Thanks to the soft schedule, look for the Hoosiers to play in a bowl game for the first time since 1993.

Nonconference opponents: Indiana State (home), Western Michigan (road), Akron (home), Ball State (home)
Toughest game: at Wisconsin, Oct. 27
Easiest game: vs. Indiana State, Sept. 1

Connecticut 5. CONNECTICUT: The Huskies might have put together a tougher schedule by returning to the Atlantic 10. Their nonconference schedule includes games against Division I-AA Maine and two of the worst I-A teams — Duke and Temple. The Huskies play seven of their 12 games at home, including key Big East dates against Louisville and Syracuse.

Nonconference opponents: Duke (road), Maine (home), Temple (home), Akron (home), Virginia (road)
Toughest game: at West Virginia, Nov. 24
Easiest game: vs. Maine, Sept. 8

Navy 6. NAVY: The Midshipmen play only four Division I-A teams that finished with winning records last season: Rutgers, Wake Forest, Notre Dame and Northern Illinois. Five of Navy’s 2007 opponents won four games or fewer last season, including Duke (0-12), Temple (1-11), North Texas (3-9), Army (3-9) and Air Force (3-8).

Toughest game: at Rutgers, Sept. 7
Easiest game: vs. Duke, Sept. 22

Northwestern 7. NORTHWESTERN: The Wildcats could see a big turnaround in coach Pat Fitzgerald’s second season, thanks to a not-so-daunting schedule. Nonconference games against Division I-AA Northeastern, Nevada, Duke and Eastern Michigan (at Detroit) are potential victories. Home games against Minnesota and Indiana could bring the victory total to six, making Northwestern eligible for a bowl game.

Nonconference opponents: Northeastern (home), Nevada (home), Duke (home), Eastern Michigan (neutral)
Toughest game: at Ohio State, Sept. 22
Easiest game: vs. Northeastern, Sept. 1

Texas Tech 8. TEXAS TECH: Give the Red Raiders some credit for scheduling a pair of nonconference road games … at SMU and Rice. A home game against UTEP might be challenging, but a Sept. 29 game against Division I-AA Northwestern State will be a rout. Texas Tech plays home games against two of the Big 12 conference’s most talented teams, Texas A&M and Oklahoma.

Nonconference opponents: SMU (road), UTEP (home), Rice (road), Northwestern State (home)
Toughest game: at Texas, Nov. 10
Easiest game: vs. Northwestern State, Sept. 29

Ohio State 9. OHIO STATE: The Buckeyes won’t miss Heisman Trophy winner Troy Smith and the rest of their departed stars during the nonconference schedule. Not against Division I-AA Youngstown State, Akron and Kent State, anyway. At least a Sept. 15 game at Washington will be played outside the state of Ohio. The Buckeyes play two of their most difficult Big 10 games on the road, at Penn State on Oct. 27 and at Michigan on Nov. 17.

Nonconference opponents: Youngstown State (home), Akron (home), Washington (road), Kent State (home)
Toughest game: at Michigan, Nov. 17
Easiest game: vs. Youngstown State, Sept. 1

Texas 10. TEXAS: The Longhorns get kudos for scheduling a home game against TCU, a possible BCS sleeper. But the rest of the schedule sets up very well for coach Mack Brown. The other three nonconference games should be routs, against Arkansas State, Central Florida and Rice. The Longhorns play top Big 12 foes Nebraska and Texas Tech at home, along with the Red River Shootout against Oklahoma in Dallas.

Nonconference opponents: Arkansas State (home), TCU (home), Central Florida (road), Rice (home)
Toughest game: vs. Oklahoma (Dallas), Oct. 6
Easiest game: vs. Arkansas State, Sept. 1

You can’t blame the athletic directors. It’s to each school’s benefit to play weak teams — so long as they don’t lose.


George Washington Wins Overtime Thriller

George Washington Wins Overtime Thriller (AP)

The shots kept falling, from contested 3-pointers to tough baskets in the lane. And each one appeared destined to send George Washington home in an abrupt end to the winningest season in school history. Instead of panicking, the Colonials steadied themselves and found a wild way to stay in the NCAA tournament.

Maureece Rice scored 20 points and had a key defensive play in overtime to help the Colonials erase an 18-point deficit and beat North Carolina-Wilmington 88-85 Thursday night in the first round of the Atlanta Regional, giving GW its first NCAA win in a dozen years. “The resiliency and will to win is just incredible,” George Washington coach Karl Hobbs said. “This team is very focused and very hungry, and they’re trying to fulfill their dreams.”

Omar Williams had 16 points and hit the go-ahead basket for the eighth-seeded Colonials (27-2), who will meet Duke in Saturday’s second round. Carl Elliott added 15 points and hit two free throws with 11.6 seconds left to send it to OT, while Danilo Pinnock had all 11 of his points after halftime. GW’s Pops Mensah-Bonsu had 10 points in his return after missing four games due to a knee injury.

This was March basketball at its maddest, with 18 lead changes and 10 ties. And the last wild momentum swing in a game full of them went to the Colonials, who scored the game’s final seven points to earn their first NCAA win since beating UAB in the first round in 1994.

Impressive. I suspect this will be the end of GW’s run, though.


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