I AM CONFUSED.
But first comes the praise. I don't really know Geno Auriemma. I only know what he has done. And it is simply astonishing in whatever context one might want to place it.
His Connecticut women's basketball team now has won 89 consecutive games. The true mark of sporting greatness is domination. Auriemma's teams are so efficient, so well-coached, so locked in that each possession is treated as gold.
I only remember talking to Geno twice, once outside the Saint Joseph's locker room at Fordham after the 2003-04 Hawks had won Game 23 on the way to 27-0. We talked about his great friend, Phil Martelli, and the St. Joe's team. Geno offered some great insights and told me some things I had not considered.
I was in a group setting talking to Auriemma in Springfield, Mass., 4 years ago, the day the coach was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. I found him fascinating, willing to share stories about his teams and himself, respectful of the game and his place in it.
In a politically correct era, Geno is a truth teller. I have never understood media types who criticize athletes or coaches for telling you what they think even if it's not what you think or expect. If it weren't for them, what do we have, exactly?
I think Auriemma is one of the great coaches in basketball history. I don't care that he has never coached men at the college level. Coaching is coaching.
Anybody who doesn't think he could win coaching men is clueless. In fact, he was offered a chance to coach a men's college team a few years ago. I heard that it was at a serious school, not a midmajor. Geno passed on the chance.
Somebody might think he has something to prove. I don't.
All that being said, I do not understand why people are writing and saying that UConn matched and then, last night, beat UCLA's 88-game winning streak from the 1970s.
What exactly does one have to do with the other?
I may be wrong about this, but I never hear comparisons about women and men, except in college basketball. And I am not sure why.
The ball is different. A few rules are different. The games are not the same.
Yet, when a woman scores more points than a school's all-time men's scorer, she is said by some to be her school's all-time leading scorer. Same thing with conferences. At the risk of being politically incorrect, I don't get it.
One man who has consistently said not to compare UCLA then to UConn now is Auriemma himself. I had no issue with his rant after No. 88, saying few would be paying attention if a women's record were being threatened. He was right.
Still, like the coach, I simply do not understand the comparisons. What UCLA did is legendary. What UConn is doing is legendary.
Why not just revel in both? Why the need to compare. I guess that's what we do anymore. But I just don't get it.
NOT THE COACH'S FAULT
Speaking of things I do not understand, I could not figure out why Holy Cross gave Philly guy Sean Kearney just one season as head coach. A coaching lifer who spent time at his alma mater, Cardinal O'Hara, under Bud Gardler and worked with Herb Magee at Philadelphia University, Kearney finally got his chance after serving as Mike Brey's top assistant for years at Notre Dame.
And whatever could go wrong did go wrong. Holy Cross lost eight games by three points or less and another in overtime. The Crusaders finished 9-22 and Kearney, a good man in a sometimes brutal profession, was gone.
Seriously, Holy Cross? The Patriot League? Firing coaches for not winning?
The Crusaders began this season by losing their first eight games.
Kearney is back in South Bend, considering his options. He will be back in the business sooner rather than later. Meanwhile, his is a cautionary tale. Expectations are unrealistic, even at places that have no real business taking winning and losing so seriously.
"That's the cold reality of our business,'' Brey said. "I thought it was truly kind of an unfair deal, but we all know what we sign up for in this profession. He's done a good job of kind of reconnecting in the basketball world. It's been good having him around.
"It's pretty ruthless that way. It's a cold reminder - the highs are amazingly high, the lows are really low.
"He's not naive, but you just felt it was fair to let a guy teach. We were really disappointed with that decision, but I think we've all moved on, but most importantly Sean is back in South Bend and around people at Notre Dame who love him."
What was up with the one-game NCAA suspension for Michigan State coach Tom Izzo Saturday? And what exactly was the precedent for the suspension?
The rule that Izzo "violated" is actually a good one. Instituted before last season, it prohibits coaches from employing counselors "associated with a prospect" at a summer camp.
Too many schools were paying these "counselors" money to curry favor with a prospect the school was recruiting, essentially buying influence.
The details are a bit sketchy, but it is pretty clear that Michigan State was not doing that in this case. A counselor was paid $475 for 5 days of work with middle-school players at a June camp. The counselor apparently is associated with a prospect, but it is not clear if Michigan State is recruiting the player. The player did not attend the camp.
This is your classic intent vs. interpretation. And since the NCAA rarely reveals specifics, we are left to guess about too much.
Here is what I know: There are some real charlatans in this business. Izzo is not one of them.
THIS AND THAT
* North Carolina has lost eight of its last nine to ranked teams. Which is what happens these days when you have teams so good that you can't keep them together very long.
The amazing thing is that UNC lost all the key players from the 2005 national championship team and won another just 4 years later. It also lost almost all the key players from the 2008-09 team and is still paying the price for it.
* Can Cam Newton play basketball? His school needs help. Auburn might be the worst major college team of the modern era.
The Tigers have lost home games to Samford, Campbell, Jacksonville, UNC-Asheville and Presbyterian. Presumably, they paid all these schools to come to their new arena.
Maybe agents need to do what they did when Charles Barkley was there - pay some players.
First-year coach Tony Barbee, the former UMass player who did so well at UTEP, has a massive rebuild on his hands. He really might want to call Newton. He looks like he could play some hoops. And no recruiting pitch of any kind will be necessary to get him to Auburn.
* The leading active career scorer in college hoops will be at Drexel on Jan. 3. Hofstra's Charles Jenkins (2,016 points) is averaging 24.9 points this season, fourth nationally.
* Villanova's Corey Stokes leads the nation in free throw percentage. He is 30-for-31 (96.8 percent).
* The best team in Florida? Could it be Central Florida?