Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Bits and Bytes: Bucs, basketball & Binghamton

Raheem Morris and Josh Johnson probably don't have to worry about joining the 1976 Buccaneers and Steve Spurrier in NFL infamy.

His days as a Division I-AA star and assistant coach are long in the rearview mirror, but ex-Flying Dutchman Raheem Morris—the head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, known worldwide as the Official NFL Team of Defiantly Dutch—proved he hasn’t forgotten his roots Monday by naming former University of San Diego star Josh Johnson the Bucs’ new starting quarterback.

Oh sure, Morris had plenty of reason to make a change after the Bucs and former no. 1 signal-caller Byron Leftwich set the NFL back several decades Sunday in a 24-0 loss to the Giants in which they gained just 86 yards and didn’t record a first down until more than nine minutes into the third quarter. But I prefer to believe that the tiebreaker went in favor of Johnson because he played his entire career at a I-AA school while Leftwich went to Marshall after it upgraded to I-A.

That box score, by the way, is amazing. The Giants shut the Bucs out despite recording no sacks and forcing just one turnover. That’s got to be the most remarkable do-it-yourself shutout in league history.

The beloved Bucs are 0-3, but unlike the truly wretched Cleveland Browns, who look like they might make a legitimate run at the 1976-77 Bucs’ record of 26 straight losses, the countdown to a winless season shouldn’t gain much steam. The pitiful Washington Redskins, who on Sunday “snapped” the Detroit Lions’ 19-game losing streak (the second longest in league history), are on the docket this week and the similarly winless Carolina Panthers await Oct. 18. I’m fairly confident the Bucs will be a perfectly harmless 2-5 by the time Morris returns to Hofstra and grants me an exclusive interview during the Bucs’ bye week Oct. 26 through Nov. 1.

Some other bits and bytes unrelated to the Bucs:

—Brian Mull, who provides excellent beat reportage of the UNC-Wilmington men’s basketball team for the Wilmington Star-News, is just the latest person to disrespect the Dutchmen and risk earning the wraith of all of Dutch Nation (snort) by picking Hofstra to finish below first in the CAA. When will these people LEARN?!

Anyway, Mull picks the Dutchmen sixth, just like noted Hofstra Hater Litos. Mull also pegs Charles Jenkins as his preseason player of the year and, in writing how the post-2006 talent surge has made the league better and deeper than ever, also does a pretty good job of indirectly explaining how the best player in the league could play for a middle-of-the-pack team.

Of course, as Litos points out, that balance makes predicting the CAA tougher than ever. It’s not just pro-Hofstra spin to declare that no fewer than six teams could make a legitimate run at the championship. Of course, when the Dutchmen emerge as the champion, I will not recall this reasoned, rational take and will instead bellow about the Dutchmen shocked the world and the non-believers.

—I probably shouldn’t give anyone a hard time about predictions, even in jest, because I’m a couple weeks away from looking pretty foolish in print (as opposed to, you know, how I usually look). Thanks in large part to a kind recommendation from Litos, I was fortunate enough to write the America East previews for the Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook (which you can order by calling 877-807-4857 or by visiting the Blue Ribbon home page here).

Once I was told I couldn’t pick Hofstra to win it all, the preseason favorite seemed obvious: Defending champion Binghamton, which returned four starters.

Not anymore. One day after star guard Tiki Mayben was dismissed from the team following his arraignment on cocaine possession charges, Binghamton coach Kevin Broadus booted five other players, including two starters—one of whom, D.J. Rivera, led the Bearcats and finished second in the America East in scoring last year—and the team captain.

Broadus has long come under pretty heavy criticism for recruiting players with checkered backgrounds, but Binghamton didn’t mind the bad publicity when the Bearcats were (mostly) limiting their court appearances to the basketball variety. Broadus signed a contract extension through 2013-14, but to the surprise of no one, the administration is in C.YA. mode now and tsk-tsking Broadus for bringing such bad apples to campus.’s Gary Parrish properly skewers Binghamton for its hypocrisy here. If Broadus gets the boot, here’s hoping the president and athletic director are following him out the door.

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