Big Ten Wonk
Wednesday, November 24, 2004
Wonk's streak of consecutive posts without a pun on Paige Laurie's name continues!
Yesterday the University of Missouri announced that the Laurie family has relinquished the naming rights to the $75 million Paige Sports Arena, which was named after their 22-year-old daughter and Wal-Mart heiress, Paige Laurie. The decision comes less than a week after the ABC News program "20/20" broadcast a story alleging that Paige Laurie paid a roommate in excess of $20,000 over a period of three years to write term papers for her at the University of Southern California.

The university's board of curators will now meet to decide on a new name for the arena. In an EXCLUSIVE interview with Big Ten Wonk, Tom Atkins, president-elect of the board of curators, outlined the criteria the board will employ in making their selection.

"Well, obviously we're looking for someone who is at once shallow, callow, and utterly unaccomplished, yet with a maddening presumption of privilege," Atkins said.

"But I think the most important single factor, and I emphasized this to the board, is that the person we select should, like Paige Laurie, have no connection whatsoever to the University of Missouri."

Atkins dismissed as "premature" widespread speculation that the facility will now be named the "Paris Hilton Sports Arena."

"Actually, we were thinking about calling it the 'Brad Pitt Sports Arena' but then someone did some checking and found that he actually attended the University of Missouri."

Other possible candidates were similarly ruled out by Atkins, including the "Ashlee Simpson Sports Arena" ("She just has too much gravitas"), the "George W. Bush circa 1972 Sports Arena" ("Hey, the guy went on to have a life--with Paige at least we knew she wasn't going to be president"), and the "Quin Snyder Sports Arena" ("Malfeasance assumes a kind of forethought for which our kind of candidate is simply not equipped").

Brushing aside suggestions from extraneous parties such as University of Missouri alumni and students, Atkins instead left the decision to the readers of a blog about basketball in a different conference.
Send in those suggestions today!

Bad decision, good result--how Hegelian!
In non-Paige-Laurie news, the Iowa Hawkeyes, continuing their dogged one-team project to reverse the damage already done to the conference's RPI by Penn State, defeated Texas last night 82-80 in the semifinals of the Maui Invitational. The Hawkeyes will face North Carolina tonight in the tournament's championship game. (Outstanding post on the game over at the Hawkeye Hoops blog. Other links here and here.)

With 44 seconds left in the game and Iowa trailing 78-76,
Wonk All-Head-Case first-teamer Pierre Pierce found himself with the ball some 25 feet from the rim, so far from the tin he was practically in Steve Alford's lap.

You could see it. You could feel it. He wanted to shoot it soooooo bad. But Pierce hesitated. Wonk thought to himself, "Man, last year he would have shot that. Maybe he is maturing."

Pierce was understanding, it seemed, that any other option was a better choice. After all, teammate Jeff Horner was having an absolutely unconscious 6-of-10-on-his-three's kind of night on his way to 27 points. And Pierce himself has made something of a specialty out of driving to the rim. True, he often turns the ball over on such drives but here was a situation that plainly called for taking the ball to the tin. Yes, Wonk thought, Pierce has finally become a true leader, one who....

Oops. Never mind. He shot it. If the Longhorns rebound the miss, the free-throw contest begins now and the Hawkeyes have been clanging their FT's all night. Terrible decision.

Except it went in. Pierce is the hero, rightly so. Such is the genius of happenstance. Yet, verily, your intrepid blogger waggles a finger and intones this Wonk warning: the iron law of statistics decrees that this decision will harm you about three times for every one time it helps you.

(In non-finger-waggling news, Pierce twisted his ankle on the game's final play and his status for tonight is in doubt.)

A correction and a reiteration
Yesterday Wonk posted an item on Indiana's brutal schedule and neglected to note that the Hoosiers will play Western Illinois this Saturday. Wonk regrets any inconvenience this omission has caused and assures his readers that the hard-working staff on Wonk's Schedule Desk (Jayson Blair, Mary Mapes, Dan Rather, et. al.) have been severely reprimanded and sent home without their usual Thanksgiving "For Those about to Wonk" oven mitts.

Properly pentitent, Wonk now wishes to gloat and direct attention to a still earlier
item suggesting that it may be a long year for the Hoosiers. Nothing Wonk saw last night in the last ten minutes of Indiana's 56-52 victory at home against Indiana State swayed my opinion. (Links here and here.)

This was an ugly game. Both teams put up air balls in the final four minutes. Even on a good shooting night (8-for-13),
Wonk All-Head-Case first-teamer Bracey Wright jacked up some notably ill-conceived shots. The rest of the team looks young and scared spitless because they are. And the Hoosier defense was vaporous, 52 points for the opposing team notwithstanding. No wonder coach Mike Davis has done his best to define success down for this year's team, saying, "We might be one of the elite programs in the state."

Pastry shelf
Michigan State will host Nicholls State this Saturday in the Spartans' latest attempt to get as far away as possible from last season's masochistic approach to scheduling. Located in Thibodaux, Louisiana, NSU
"serves a diverse base of traditional and non-traditional students, as well as professional, social and cultural populations."

No doubt NSU's diverse base of traditional and non-traditional students (as well as professional, social and cultural populations) were all wondering what the Thibodaux was going on when their basketball coach pulled a Ricky Williams and
resigned suddenly last month, coming off a 6-21 season.

On the plus side, Nicholls State claims one of the coolest names Wonk has ever seen bestowed upon
a student services entity: "La Maison du Bayou." Unimaginative and coldly bureaucratic northerners like Wonk, by notable contrast, tend to call this function something strikingly more dweeby like, say, "Student Housing." Lyrical and Faulknerian romantics of NSU Student Services, Wonk salutes you!

In today's less Wonk-ish venues....
Ohio State defeated Houston 78-61 last night in Kansas City in the semifinals of the Guardians Classic. Links here and here. The Buckeyes face Creighton tonight in the finals.

Purdue defeated Detroit Mercy 66-56 in West Lafayette last night. Links
here, here, and here.

Wisconsin defeated UC-Santa Barbara by the notably nonlopsided score of 72-61 in Madison last night. Links
here, here, and here.

Michigan State defeated Wisconsin-Green Bay by the notably lopsided score of 104-46 in East Lansing last night. Links
here, here, and here.
More from what is rapidly becoming the most intensively reported beat in the Big Ten, the Neitzel beat, here.

Michigan plays Arizona tonight in New York in the semifinals of the Preseason NIT.
All-Wonk Team selection Lester Abram is suffering from a sore shoulder and his status is questionable. Game previews here, here, and here.

Illinois hosts Oakland University tonight, a game
Wonk believes could be more interesting than the garden-variety November rout. Game previews here, here, and here.

Wonk back!
Don't just mutter ineffectually; email me!

Yesterday Wonk posted this
link to an article in the Bloomington (IL) Pantagraph on the father of new Ohio State coach Thad Matta. Since noting last week that Matta is a native of Hoopeston, IL (where the sports teams are indelibly known as the Cornjerkers), Wonk has watched with paternal and no doubt wholly misplaced pride as this bit of trivia has subsequently appeared in other blogs and in even in the MSM (Mainstream Media). Still, even Wonk must draw the line on new Matta information somewhere.

WARNING: Shocking confession ahead. Which is to say Wonk may not have read all the way to the bottom of an article he's linked to on Thad Matta's father (apologies to the Dad of Thad). But Wonk's readers do! In detailing the Thad mania and alleging the sudden prevalence of Cornjerker paraphernalia in Ohio, the article's author, it seems, may have embellished the truth. At least according to this email from Ohio....

Quickly becoming a daily read. Really, you're good at this and I enjoy the read.

But Big Ten Wonk Fan (BTWF) is confused. See, we read the
report on Matta's dad and we're stunned to learn that not only is there a market for Jerker apparel, but such fine quality clothing items exist outside of the greater Hoopeston-East Lynn metropolitan area. Don't get me wrong, I trust the Graph (fine paper, the sports desk once wooed BTWF's father to no avail), but this knowledge begs for cosmic realignment.
--Jason H.

Wonk's readers are so well-informed they number among themselves enough Illinois natives now living in Ohio to catch the MSM in their nefarious deceptions! Thanks, Jason!

MSM, you are on notice! Wonk's readers form a veritable army of fact-checkers! Monitors of truth! Tribunes of accuracy! Over-users of exclamation points!

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