Huggins Takes the Fall

Posted by rtmsf on May 8th, 2008

If you haven’t heard yet, West Virginia coach and new twenty-millionaire Bob Huggins tripped over a cone (ice cream?  bustier?  oh, traffic, right) at the Charlotte airport today, banging his head against the pavement.  He was taken to a local Charlotte hospital for observation, but he apparently will be fine. 

Must.  Resist.  Urge.  To.  Make.  Tasteless.  Alcohol.  Joke.   

So instead


There must be a video of this incident somewhere – let us know if you can find it. 

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05.07.08 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on May 7th, 2008

Today’s rantings of a wild man…

  • Duke promoted former Devil (96-01) Nate James to assistant coach in Johnny Dawkins’ old spot, ensuring that K’s bench is now filled with former underachievers feisty players.
  • Lots of bad things happening at Arizona these days.
  • South Carolina’s Devan Downey apparently decked someone on campus last week (he has been suspended). 
  • Transfers – Jeremiah Rivers (Doc’s son) is leaving Georgetown, and Indiana’s Eli Holman (of potted plant fame) is following an assistant coach (Ray McCallum) to Detroit Mercy. 
  • Bob Huggins’ new contract with WVU stipulates he can be fired for habitual intoxication.  Habitual intoxication…  is that three or four times a week?
  • Billy Gillispie has his eye on a few more middle schoolers besides Michael Avery for the class of 2012.
  • There were 69 early entries this year, many of whom are only “testing the waters.”  Goodman says this puts coaches in a bind. 
  • The Jewish Jordan (Zach Feinstein) seeks to top the NBA Draft this year…
  • Alabama St. (mostly football) and Florida International show that not only the big boys are cheating these days. 
  • We missed this a week or so ago, but Dan Hanner at YABB has some great data (regressions are fun, kids!) on coaches and how well they recruit and perform in the regular season and NCAA Tournament. 
  • M2M is counting down the top 10 most embarrassing moments in college basketball history.  Some good stuff on there. 
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What’s Your APR?

Posted by rtmsf on May 6th, 2008

No, not Annual Percentage Rate for all you creditworthy folks.  We’re talking about the Academic Progress Report (APR) for men’s basketball (who is regularly the lowest rated sport in D1).  Today the NCAA released the numbers that track athletes’ success (2003-07) in the classroom through retention, eligibility and graduation, and it appears that things are going to get a little dicey for some name-brand programs over the next twelve months. 

The APR has two classes of penalty – immediate and historic.  Immediate penalties are levied when a program is below the cutoff score of 925 (approximating a 60% graduation rate), and one of their players withdraws from the institution, does not return the following fall term and would not have otherwise been eligible to compete during the regular academic term following his departure.   This year, Kansas St., Purdue, Seton Hall, South Carolina, Tennessee and USC were the BCS programs subject to a one-scholarship loss due to this penalty (see Table A below).  K-State, Purdue, UT and USC are particularly on notice, as each of these programs could lose as many as two scholarships next year should their APRs not improve. 

Historic penalties are levied upon programs that have trouble consistently reaching a threshold of 900 on the APR metric.  The sanctions associated with these penalties are far more severe, and can ultimately result in reduced practice time, banishment from postseason play and restricted membership in Division 1 athletics.  This year among the BCS programs, only Colorado and USC were placed on public notice that their historical profile is lagging.  Should their poor APR scores (<900) continue another year, then the Buffs and Trojans could face a scholarship and/or practice time reduction in the 2009-10 season.  As an example of what not to do, the basketball programs at New Mexico St., Centenary and East Carolina are already one year away from facing a postseason ban based on three consecutive years of failing scores on the APR.  While Colorado doesn’t seem to care much about hoops, USC, with its high-profile coach and the sparking new Galen Center, certainly wants to avoid this fate if it can (note: OJ Mayo and Davon Jefferson’s early exits will not help the Trojans’ APR in 2008-09). 

Table B below shows some of the other notable non-BCS basketball programs and how they fared on this year’s APR.  Memphis, who is already on the cusp of the threshold, could end up getting slammed by this season’s exodus.

We also thought it might be somewhat informative to see how the BCS conferences do individually.  See Table C below.  The ACC is clearly doing the best of the big six conferences, with only Clemson and Maryland under the 925 cutoff (neither are below the 900 threshold).  The SEC, while managing to avoid last place, has seven teams under the 925 mark this year (58.3% of its teams).  The Big East has five, but that only represents 31.3% of its members.  As far as we can tell, there isn’t much of  a correlation with our 2007 Athlademic Ratings from last summer.   

The NCAA appears to be holding fast on its promise to hold schools accountable for keeping its athletes eligible.  AAZone’s Josh Centor, for one, thinks that the APR is working.

For the skeptics who believe the penalties are soft, look at the 26 teams that have entered the historical phase of the structure this year. Those programs have failed to change their behavior and will face restricted scholarships, recruiting and practice time. If the academic performance of those teams doesn’t get better, the penalties will become more severe. Next year, postseason bans will be in the mix and along with the scholarship reductions, those penalties are as strong as the ones doled out for major infractions cases.

It’s going to be interesting to see how these programs that are already on the cusp of sanctions respond to these challenges.   

Update:  Seth Emerson reports that critics of the APR system are wondering if there’s any teeth to it at all, citing the fact that 69.3% of institutions that were eligible to be penalized were given waivers this year.  Our favorite exception – let’s call it the South Carolina St. Rule – allows a waiver if a team’s APR is above that of the general student body.  Yeah, we’d agree that if a team is outperforming the rest of the students, then either the whole school needs to be shuttered; or, the APR is rendered rather meaningless. 

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Eli Holman Channels Bob Knight

Posted by rtmsf on May 5th, 2008

We’re late on this story from Bloomington last week, but it’s so darned amusing that we decided that it needs its own post.  As you’re well aware, last Thursday was May Day, celebrated in the United States for the triumph of the labor class over management in the Haymarket Riots of 1886, but one of Tom Crean’s new charges might have taken the doctrinal calling of the working class a tad too seriously when he met with his coach that day. 

Happy May Day, Coach Crean!  (photo credit:  Harpers Weekly)

Eli Holman, a 6’9, 210-lb freshman center who hardly played at all under Kelvin Sampson (6 games), called a meeting with Crean to discuss his future and ostensibly inform the coach of his intentions to transfer out of the program.  From Tom Crean’s statement to the media (h/t Inside the Hall):

We met with Eli Holman this afternoon. He had a good meeting with our assistant coaches earlier in the day. I felt like he still was not sure whether or not he wanted to be here which surprised me because everything we have seen from him had been very positive in terms of staying at Indiana and moving forward. I have no idea what made him change his mind and arrive at this point. He indicated that he would like to leave Indiana, although I was hopeful that we could work through this situation to come to an arrangement we both were comfortable with and to take some time to make a decision.

And then things got weird.  Apparently Crean must have said something to inspire a Knight-like response from Holman, because this is what happened next:

IU Police Department officers were dispatched to Assembly Hall on Thursday afternoon after freshman basketball player Eli Holman threw a potted plant and created a disturbance in the men’s basketball office, IUPD Capt. Jerry Minger said, reading from a police report. At 3:40 p.m. Thursday, police were dispatched to Assembly Hall “as a precaution,” Crean said.  “We saw him as a danger to himself,” he said.  IU Director of Athletics Rick Greenspan arrived and helped calm Holman down, Minger said.  Holman was still agitated when police arrived, Minger said, adding no one told police they believed they were threatened by Holman. He was just “loud and angry,” Minger said.  Holman was not arrested, and no charges were filed.

Hmmm…  So if we take Crean at his word that things were cordial at the beginning of the conversation, what could cause such an explosive reaction in Holman?  Guys don’t just go around throwing potted plants unless they’re genuinely pissed, right?


Crean’s Brand of Ethnic Cleansing

Our best guess – Crean, facing a potential further loss of scholarships through the APR, tried to play games with Holman by suggesting that IU wouldn’t release him from his scholarship if he tried to transfer.  Holman, a man who has been grazed by a bullet growing up on the rough-and-tumble streets of Richmond, CA, and who was permanently suspended in high school for shoving an official during a game, responded in the only way he knew how – by throwing things. 

While Crean loses another body and possibly faces further scholarship restrictions thanks to the expected APR hit, many IU fans see this as a necessary cleansing of the program and therefore don’t seem to be holding it against him.  One thing is certain – with three scholarship returners and four incoming freshmen remaining for 08-09, this rebuilding process will supplant any challenge Crean has had to encounter before.  Where’s that next Dwyane Wade, anyway? 

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05.04.08 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on May 4th, 2008

Weekend kibbles n’ bits…

  • Bruce Pearl booted UT guard Ramar Smith and forward Duke Crews off the team, reportedly for failing drug tests.
  • New Hoosier head man Tom Crean refused to allow Armon Bassett and Jamarcus Ellis back onto the team, while kicking DeAndre Thomas off the squad as well. This all occurred one day after the bizarre transfer of Eli Holman, leaving Indiana with only seven scholarship players for 2008-09.
  • Missisippi State’s Ben Hansbrough (little bro of Psycho-T) will transfer to Notre Dame next year, ostensibly because he didn’t like the MSU offense.
  • Speaking of impact transfers, Georgetown’s Vernon Macklin will end up at Florida.
  • Ohio State’s Kosta Koufos is one-and-done – he signed with an agent.
  • Coaching News – Bob Huggins got a raise ($1.5M) and an 11-year extension at WVU – guess he impressed them this year, eh? Their former coach, John Beilein, made the first payment on the $1.5M he owes WVU for breaking his contract last year when he left for Michigan. In a similar vein, former Ohio St. coach Jim O’Brien was paid $2.74M in back pay for being fired by the university even though he admitted to cheating. And Wazzu’s Tony Bennett got an extension through 2015 and a $200K raise, totaling his annual compensation to $1M per year (but no increase in his buyout clause).
  • Next year’s Thanksgiving-week Old Spice Classic will include Tennessee, Michigan St., Gonzaga, Maryland, Georgetown, Oklahoma St., Siena and Wichita St. In other words, loaded.
  • Here are some early entry analyses from Andy Katz and Jeff Goodman.
  • Dana O’Neil writes a compelling article on the uncertainty that programs must endure during the next six weeks of “testing the waters.
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Testicular Fortitude, Literally

Posted by rtmsf on May 1st, 2008

We sorta wondered what the deal was with Tennessee’s Chris Lofton this year. After a superb junior all-american campaign where he averaged 21/3/2 on 48% shooting (41% from three), his numbers dipped considerably during his senior season (16/3/2 on 40% shooting (38% from three)), culminating in a putrid 7-34 performance in UT’s three games of the NCAA Tournament.

Part of us wondered if he was feeling the pressure to perform for NBA scouts; part of us thought maybe the ascent of teammates such as Tyler Smith and JaJuan Smith may have something to do with it. Turns out we were wrong in a BIG way – Chris Lofton had cancer.

Former University of Tennessee guard Chris Lofton revealed today that he underwent four weeks of radiation treatment for testicular cancer last May. Lofton said in an interview with the News Sentinel that the treatment made him feel sluggish and affected his training. He added it may have affected his performance in his senior season. Lofton said, however, he’s made a full recovery and is healthy. The former Vol American did not disclose his condition to his teammates because “he wanted them to focus on the season.”


Yeah, getting cancer as a 22-year old might make you lose focus on your senior season a little bit. We’ve always liked Lofton, now we think the guy’s a farkin’ stud. Here’s hoping he destroys the NBA draft camps next month.

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