Plenty of good linkage today. Still no good name. New Year's resolution: Name the afternoon linkage post something better than "afternoon linkage." Anyway, right to it:
First things first: Linking this is probably silly, because if you're reading this blog post you've probably already read the story, but Dana O'Neil's feature on how Dexter Pittman's weight loss became an inspiration -- and the source of a friendship -- for a young boy named Silas Connolly is the sort of story you'll want to e-mail to your friends when you're finished reading it.
Oh, and in other ESPN-ness, Jay Bilas takes on the myth of coaching stress (Insider), arguing that college coaches (he's referring to Urban Meyer, but the dilemma is the same on the hoops side) don't have a monopoly on workaholism.
John Wall can jump. Over players, over chairs, over two rows of cheerleaders, over whatever. Truly, there's nothing the man can't do.
Yet Another Basketball Blog hammers home why college basketball has the best championship-deciding system in the whole wide world, forever and ever, nah nah, IN YOUR FACE OTHER SPORTS.
SI's Luke Winn does his annual pretenders and contenders list, with a little help from a fresh batch of tempo free statistics. Be forewarned: The numbers say bad things about Villanova, New Mexico, Texas Tech, and Northwestern, among others. Hey, don't blame the messenger.
Seton Hall coach Bobby Gonzalez denies cursing at fans who were supposedly heckling him on Dec. 22.
New York Times blog The Quad talks Ivy League with Kathy Orton, the author of a recent book about the 2005-06 Ivy League season.
Gary Parrish (sort of) justifies Butler's top 25 ranking in the most recent poll, which would seem to be at odds with Butler's disappointing nonconference performance. Here's another argument (which I'll make at length at some point, I'm sure) that, much as in college football, ranking college hoops teams before the season begins is ultimately corrosive. Teams get credit for rankings they didn't earn, even after they prove they didn't deserve them. Fortunately, the polls don't matter all that much in college basketball. College football fans have a much more dire gripe.
CAA Hoops gears up for the impending conference season, while Mid-Majority's Kyle Whelliston pens a typically poetic ode to what is arguably the most enjoyable portion of the basketball regular season.
The Georgetown fans at Casual Hoya are glad to see former player Othella Harrington keeping it casual in Iran. Or something.
Tubby Smith is none too pleased with the ongoing legal issues surrounding junior college transfer Trevor Mbakwe, whose case -- which stems from a felony battery charge in Miami -- has yet to be resolved.