- Eamonn Brennan, ESPN Staff Writer
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Afternoon Links are pretty self-explanatory. (They would have been up earlier but I locked myself out of the house in December in Chicago for over an hour. My hands needed some time to warm up. I am not smart.) Want to share? Email or tweet me @eamonnbrennan.
Jim Boeheim addressed the topic of gun control on the podcast earlier Tuesday, but his most stirring words came during his Monday night news conference, when he used the occasion of his 900th win to hold court on the importance of increased gun control in the United States following the tragic shooting of children and teachers in Newtown, Conn. Friday: "This will probably offend some people," Boeheim said, prefacing his remarks. “If we in this country as Americans cannot get the people that represent us to do something about firearms, we are a sad, sad society. I’m a hunter. I’ve hunted. I’m not talking about rifles. That’s fine. If one person in this world; the NRA president, anybody, can tell me why we need assault weapons with 30 shots in the thing. This is our fault. This is my fault and your fault. All of your faults if we don’t get out and do something about this. … I saw one guy, a representative I was very proud of, somebody in his state had just come out and said ‘We need more guns. We don’t need less. We need to give teachers gun so they can shoot people.’ Yeah, that’s really good thinking to do that. … If we can’t get this thing done, I’m with the mayor of New York City, if we can’t get this thing done, I don’t know what kind of country we have,’’ he continued. “This is about us. This isn’t about the President or those other people down there (in Washington D.C.). We have to make them understand somehow that this needs to get figured out. Real quick. Not six months from now."
Maryland isn't stressing its lack of inclusion in the top 25, freshman forward Shaquille Cleare told the Washington Post: “We don’t try to go with the hype,” Cleare said. “We just try to do whatever [Coach Mark] Turgeon needs us to do. Right now, I think we’re an okay team with a chance to be really good. If you count the number of turnovers and see how much we beat teams by, then look at the free throws missed and still see how many points we beat teams by, if we can calm down on defense and make our free throws, we’d be beating teams by 50, 60 points." (That might be a bit of an overstatement, but even so — good perspective!)
Michigan coach John Beilein thinks if you think he is just a system coach with a quirk 1-3-1, you haven't been paying attention: "I never tried the 1-3-1 defense for the first 20 years (of my career), but changed because we had a need (at West Virginia)," Beilein said Monday on his weekly radio show. "(We) changed to using as much man-to-man as we do now (at Michigan), changing because the game is changing. We never used the ball screen as much as I do now. That's what I pride myself on, being a student of the game, and being able to adapt."
Now that the election madness has calmed down, Nate Silver can get back to the most important facets of his job: discussing conference realignment. This weekend, Silver argued that the Big East Catholic schools' decision to leave the league was indeed the right decision: "A conference composed of these seven teams, along with select others that do not sponsor Division I football programs, could offer a men’s basketball league that was roughly as competitive as that of major conferences like the Pacific-12 and the Southeastern Conference. The alternative, to remain attached to the other members of the Big East, would put these schools at risk of being associated with a conference that would come to be regarded as second-tier." And yes, there are numbers.
John Templon not only understands the pain of being locked out of the house, he is also compiling a weekly look at which teams move the most within Ken Pomeroy's adjusted efficiency rankings. This week? Southern, Auburn, LIU Brooklyn, USC, and Florida International -- all of whom jumped at least 40 spots. Illinois-Chicago and, believe it or not, Utah, are among the highest risers over the whole season. Interesting stuff.
ICYMI: Jason King's feature on basketball "coach, father figure, psychologist, counselor, and friend" John Lucas is must-read stuff. Every offseason you hear someone is training under Lucas, and that usually means that player is going to come back more focused and in better shape than ever before. (The one exception I can remember is Renardo Sidney. I think we can all forgive Lucas for that one.)