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The Dagger: College Basketball Blog

Breakfast Buffet: Rick Majerus’ death inspires a flood of poignant tributes

Jeff Eisenberg
The Dagger

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Saint Louis honored Rick Majerus with a moment of silence Sunday (AP)

1. It's a testament to the man Rick Majerus was that his death inspired so many incredible pieces of writing over the weekend. I'll link three of my favorites here: ESPN.com's Gene Wojciechowski on the complexities and generosity of Majerus, CBS analyst Doug Gottlieb on Majerus' efforts to recruit him and CBSSports.com's Gary Parrish on how Majerus' final press conference captured him so well.

2. Before Saint Louis hosted Valparaiso on Sunday in its first game since Majerus' death the previous day, the school observed a moment of silence for its former coach, which eventually melted into a prolonged standing ovation. The student section dressed in black to honor Majerus and his former players delivered a performance he'd have been proud of under tough circumstances. The Billikens shook off their grief and defeated the Crusaders 62-49.

3. Is there a college basketball team more capable of either springing stunning upsets or falling victim to them than Florida State? The Seminoles managed just five points in the final six minutes at home against Mercer on Sunday and fell 61-56. They've now lost home games against South Alabama, Minnesota and Mercer this season, which means given their Jekyll-and-Hyde history, they're obviously due to upset undefeated Florida on Wednesday night.

4. For all Cal coach Mike Montgomery's success in college basketball, his teams have seldom fared well on the road in big non-conference games. The latest setback was an 81-56 rout at Wisconsin on Sunday that followed what Montgomery described as a poor week of practice. The Bears defended poorly, lacked poise after Wisconsin jumped on them early and committed 23 turnovers to suffer their first loss after a 6-0 start.

5. Twice Cal State Fullerton sank the game-tying shot in the final 32 seconds Sunday night at Washington. Twice the Titans committed ill-advised fouls in the frontcourt on the ensuing possession to enable the Huskies to regain the lead. Cal State Fullerton's holiday generosity allowed Washington to eke out a 74-72 home win in a game the Huskies trailed by 14 at halftime. It wasn't exactly a confidence-inspiring result against a 3-4 Big West opponent, but it was better than the alternative.  

It was touching last March when senior forward Brian Conklin broke down in tears at the microphone after Saint Louis' season-ending NCAA tournament loss to Michigan State when asked about coach Rick Majerus. The video is even more poignant with Majerus' passing on Saturday.

"I think we needed this, personally. We won a national championship last year, and we came in here thinking we were that team. We are not that team." -- John Calipari on losing two games in a row to Baylor and Notre Dame to fall to 4-3 this season. Kentucky lost only two games all of last season en route to the national title.  (ESPN.com)

• College hoops clearly wanted no part of competing with Monday Night Football. The best of Monday's light slate is USC at Nebraska and Eastern Michigan at Syracuse.

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