09.14.08 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on September 14th, 2008

Still trying to get caught up on newsworthy items from the last few weeks…

  • Coach K, fresh off his gold medal coaching victory with Team USA, says that from now on, he’s going to enjoy wins at Duke more.
  • Kansas’ best returning player, Sherron Collins, apparently showed up for KU’s Labor Day trip to Canada fat and out of shape.  Bill Self was not pleased, benching the point guard for the trip.  The good news for Self and KU is that their highly-regarded twin recruits, Marcus and Markieff Morris, were declared eligible to play this season.
  • Smart, fellas.  KU national champions  Mario Chalmers and Darrell Arthur got some greenery and some females up in their rooms at the NBA Rookie Transition Program (where the dangers of such issues as greenery and females are ostensibly discussed), leading to a $20k fine for each of them.
  • Oklahoma freshman Willie Warren has already made an impression with his mouth, apparently.
  • New Mexico State’s itinerant forward, Herb Pope, will transfer to Seton Hall.  He is asking for a medical waiver (the “Tyler Smith Rule”) so that he can play this season.  Mizzou’s Keon Lawrence is also transferring to Seton Hall. 
  • Well, that’s disappointing.  UNC-Asheville’s 7’7 behemoth Kenny George will likely miss the season after another foot surgery.
  • Jeff Goodman checks in on Pat Knight as he begins his first full season as the head man at Texas Tech.
  • Gary Parrish has a nice insight piece on how mid-major programs strategize recruiting against the big boys on the summer circuit. 
  • Not quite the SEC deal, but get ready to see more WAC basketball on ESPN beginning next year
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Oh Lord… No!!!!!

Posted by rtmsf on September 11th, 2008

This bit of news came across our wire earlier this week, and we’re still shaking off the shivers it initially gave us. 

Mike Broghammer, a 6-foot-8, 220 pound senior forward from Minnetonka (MN) Hopkins, has committed to Notre Dame during his official visit this weekend. Broghammer is the nephew through marriage of Christian Laettner. Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey had recruited Laettner when he was an assistant at Duke.

WHEW.  Nephew through marriage.  THANK.  GOD.  That means there’s no shared plasma between them, so maybe we have a fighting chance that this kid won’t be another arrogant prick of a bastard like his uncle (although the above smirk has us a little concerned).  In fact, if we had to endure that bozo through fifteen years of Thanksgivings and family get-togethers, he might hate the SOB as much as the rest of us does.

And, no, we’re not letting it go.     

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09.11.08 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on September 11th, 2008

It’s been a while since we’ve done one of these, and we’re trying to get back into gear here…

  • Reason #73 to love college basketball – apparently, us.  Sweet. 
  • How about reason #70 – Duke is All Things Evil and Sweaty.  We thought that was Sarah Palin, no?  Politically speaking, Washington insider and Terp fan Robert Novak says he will no longer inveigh against Duke after he had his successful cancer treatment at their medical center.
  • Kentucky is using an NCAA rulebook loophole to get a leg up on Midnight Madness this year.  Apparently you can use 2 hrs/week for instruction prior to the traditional mid-October practice starting date, and UK will use their 2 hrs on Oct. 10 to get going early
  • Dickie V. is in the Hall of Fame!  Supposedly his bust will be enshrined perilously close to the Coach K wax figure anus. 
  • Patty Mills is back at St. Mary’s enjoying his lavish praise from the Olympic experience, unless you ask this writer.  Editing, people!
  • All the BracketBuster information you could ever want…  including 102 teams and nine conferences sending their entire rosters this season (MAC, MVC, OVC, CAA, Horizon, Big West, WAC, MAAC). 
  • Kevin Love is the cover boy of 2009 NCAA Basketball (formerly March Madness) for all you gamers out there.

Some older stuff you might have missed…

  • American’s Jeff Jones parlayed the school’s first ever NCAA appearance into a nice contract extension through 2014. 
  • Tom Crean can’t catch a break (other than his new bitchin paycheck).  His only returning scholarship player, Kyle Taber, injured his knee and will be out of action for 10 weeks.   
  • Ty Lawson confirmed that he “probably” would be in the NBA right now had it not been for his “drinking while driving” arrest in June.  If Lawson had left, would Danny Green and/or Wayne Ellington have stayed too?  UNC fans should be thanking their lucky stars for Lawson’s (mis)fortune this season. 
  • Wow, do you think the NCAA micromanages much?  Arkansas recently self-reported six violations, and some of them just seem silly.
  • Oklahoma’s Mr. Dub-Dub, Blake Griffin, was ticketed for outraging public decency, also known as the piss-and-walk
  • Thanks to the SEC’s new comprehensive tv package deal ($2B!!!) with ESPN, there will be two more nights of SEC coverage (in addition to Super Tuesday) on the network starting in 2009-10.  In related news, Time Warner Cable has picked up the Big Ten Network (whew!  glad we’ve got Comcast at the RTC abode!!). 
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RIP to The Bear, Don Haskins

Posted by rtmsf on September 10th, 2008

Over the weekend, we too heard the disheartening news that one of the game’s most historically important figures had died.  Don Haskins, longtime coach of UTEP (nee’ Texas Western), passed away on Sunday at the age of 78. 

(photo credit: UTEP)

Most of Haskins’ career was before our time, and it’s not like UTEP games were burning up the airwaves anyway, but the 1997 Hall of Fame coach (719 wins) consistently put quality teams into the NCAA Tournament (14 trips) throughout his 39 seasons in El Paso.  Of course, Haskins will forever be historically notorious for his 1966 Texas Western squad, who won the national title with an all-black starting lineup against the all-white Kentucky Wildcats.   While the real-time impact of that game on a nation embroiled in the civil rights movement can be extensively argued (no major media outlet mentioned this artifact at the time of the game), there can be little question that Haskins’ national championship team represents a significant tipping point in collegiate athletics, particularly in the South.  No longer could it be argued that predominantly-black teams didn’t have the necessary discipline (and coachability) to compete at the highest levels of the game.  Soon thereafter, the floodgate of black athletes at SEC, SWC and ACC schools opened.

With that said, we don’t presume to know much about Don Haskins other than his role in that game, so we’ll leave it to those who did know him and his stories to fill out the remainder of the post.  RIP Coach Haskins.

From CBS Sportsline:

We’ve spent a large part of the past few months hearing about how one politician is breaking barriers and another is putting cracks in ceilings. These are historic times, for sure. But 42 years ago Haskins accomplished similar things in his own little way, only he wasn’t similarly celebrated like Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton or Sarah Palin. Instead, he was ridiculed and threatened and, well, I’ll just turn things back over to Wetzel.

“His friends asked him ‘Don, are you crazy? Are you f—ing nuts?’” Wetzel said. “They said ‘If you play five blacks they’re going to call you the black coach. Even if you win you’ll never get another job. And if you lose and get fired, nobody will ever hire you. And if one of those kids f—s up, then you’re done. Your entire career is done and you’ve got kids to feed. Don’t do this. It’s stupid.’”

Haskins’ response?  “He said ‘F— that,’” Wetzel said. “He said ‘Seven of my best eight players are black, and I’m playing them. I don’t care what the repercussions are.’”  So he played them, started five of them, and you know the story by now.

From the El Paso Times:

So many people in this city have treasured memories of the man … a friendship, a chance encounter, a vision of the fiercest of them all prowling the sidelines. He touched all in this city, one way or another.

We can never forget the fierce man who stalked the sideline, barking at officials, growling at players. He was, quite simply, the ultimate competitor. He had the quickest basketball mind you ever saw. Practice would be going full steam, 10 guys on the court going 110 mph. Nothing else would do. One of those 10 would be out of place, make some wrong move, and that big voice would instantly come booming through the arena and he would charge out into the middle of the action. The man never used a whistle. Didn’t need one. He had that voice.

From the Washington Post:

Recalling the ’66 team 25 years later, Mr. Haskins told The Washington Post: “That wasn’t the first time I’d started five blacks, and I really didn’t think it was all that unusual. What made it so is that Rupp had an all-white team and didn’t make a secret of how he felt about it.”

Mr. Haskins got his nickname, “the Bear,” not only because he growled and grumped a lot but also because of his burly physique. The fact that he threw a player out of practice one day for trying a behind-the-back pass and once kicked a chair so hard he broke a toe only added to his ornery ursine image.

“Lord knows, I hated that man when I first started playing for him,” said Nevil “the Shadow” Shed, a native of the South Bronx who played on the national championship team. “He really got after us, but he never killed our spirit.”

From Nolan Richardson (ESPN):

“Everyone should remember and never forget that he broke a line that should have been broken years and years before,” said former Arkansas coach Nolan Richardson, who played for Haskins as a junior and senior at Texas Western in the early 1960s.

“Coach Haskins wanted to win and to do what he did at a young age, that’s the kind of man he was,” Richardson said of Haskins’ starting an all-African-American starting five. “It didn’t matter how tall you were, but can you play? Can you take coaching? He was that kind of guy. It’s going to be a big loss for his immediate family and all the guys that played for him and learned their coaching techniques from him. There’s no question that he had a tremendous influence on my life, as a person and as a coach. He will truly be missed by all of us.”

From Bob Knight (Dallas Morning News):

“There is no one who has ever coached that I respected and admired more than Don Haskins. He got more out of his teams and players than any coach who has ever coached college basketball.”

“I have had no friend that I enjoyed more than Don Haskins. There was never anyone like him before and there never will be anyone like him again.”

“Don Haskins was absolutely a pure golden original. He took a school that had no reason to be a basketball giant and made it in to one.”

Haskins’ memorial services will be Thursday in El Paso.  Billy Gillispie, Nolan Richardson and Tim Floyd are expected to speak.

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Nebraska the New Indiana?

Posted by rtmsf on September 10th, 2008

Patrick Marshall of Bluejay Basketball is the RTC Big 12 correspondent and an occasional contributor. 

In the storied not so storied history of Nebraska basketball established in 1897, the program has never won an NCAA Tournament game.  However, Nebraska coach Doc Sadler is doing almost anything he can to get players that might get them the opportunity, and it appears his tactics might be pushing closer and closer to a recruiting violation.

 

What’s Up, Doc?

The latest case is Jorge Diaz, a 7 foot prospect that played most recently on the Puerto Rico Junior National team.  Diaz is still an oral commitment to Nebraska, but he has not been enrolled in school and did not sign a letter of intent.  Apparently he has been cleared by the NCAA Clearinghouse, but has not been able to enroll at Nebraska because he hasn’t met their enrollment standards.  The thing holding things up is a checkmark in his application to Nebraska about English not being his first language and he didn’t take a required test to verify he was proficient in English.  But as this gets more and more involved and school officials have started commenting on things, it gets about as close as it can to a recruiting violation. Check this timeline: 

August 29 – the Omaha World Herald Newspaper has been aggressively printing stories on the recruitment of this player.  They start out by mentioning that Diaz’s enrollment was held up because of his English proficiency and point out that “Husker coaches can’t comment on Diaz until he is enrolled.”  He had until Tuesday, 9/2 to enroll at Nebraska

September 3 – The next day after the deadline, the Omaha World Herald published another article updating the Diaz situation, stating that he is still not enrolled at Nebraska yet but printed that AD Tom Osborne and Coach Doc Sadler said that they are “still actively recruiting Diaz.” 

September 4 – the paper published even another article on the Diaz situation saying that Nebraska is re-recruiting Diaz since he was not able to enroll for this semester and the earliest he could enroll now at Nebraska would be after the first semester.  However, the paper quotes Coach Sadler that he is “aggressively” trying to re-recruit the center and is also quoted, ”Hopefully, Jorge will get what he has to get done to be admitted to school.”  Tom Shatel from the OWH also wrote an editorial published that day on the Diaz situation.   

The Lincoln Journal Star at the time had very few updates and articles on the Diaz situation, but it was mostly because they had their 360 degree football helmet on.  However the articles in the LJS didn’t have the same quotes that were published by the Omaha World Herald.  Couldn’t all of these public quotes about a recruit not yet enrolled in school potentially be a recruiting violation?

The status on Diaz—still an oral commit and might be able to enroll at Nebraska in December.  However, Kentucky, Arkansas and other schools are knocking on his door.  

This is the latest fiasco in Nebraska basketball recruiting, but let’s look at the rest of the situations that have occurred just in this year’s recruiting:

  • Roburt Sallie—Roburt was originally recruited in 2006, but could not academically qualify to play for Nebraska, so instead went to juco and this year was re-recruited and committed to Nebraska.  However, little did anyone know that in 2006, Roburt enrolled at Nebraska and was in class for a week.  Unfortunately, Big 12 rule 6.2, which says that any student-athlete who enrolls at a conference institution, part or full time, must meet initial NCAA eligibility requirements. Sallie had not met those requirements when he was enrolled as a part-time student in August 2006.  Whoops.  Looks like someone dropped the ball there and Roburt was deemed ineligible to play for the Huskers.  Roburt is now with Memphis.  What a reward for John Calipari.  He seems to get all the luck
  • Christopher Niemann–Niemann, a 6-11 center and the other original from the 2-man recruiting class with Roburt Sallie is scheduled to arrive from Germany. He has been declared ineligible by the NCAA for his freshman season but can participate in practices. He’ll have three years of eligibility remaining beginning in 2009-10.  Christopher participated on a German club team that had some professionals on its roster, even though he accepted no pay. The same thing happened last season to players from Iowa State and Washington State who were former teammates of Niemann.  Slingblade for some reason thought he was going to get to play right away this season, but the history of Niemann’s teammates from last year should have said something. 
  • Teeng Akol—Teeng was supposed to make a visit to Nebraska and said, “I think I can help them.  I’m not familiar with everything, but I know they’re in the Big 12.”  He originally signed with South Florida over West Virginia, Oklahoma, Xavier, Southern Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky.  Akol signed scholarship papers in June with South Florida. However, USF officials suddenly asked Akol to leave the school because of academic reasons, despite the fact he’d already been admitted and was taking summer classes.  So it sounded like the Huskers were going to get a steal.  However, Teeng visited Oklahoma State first and  never looked back.  He didn’t even make his visit to Nebraska.
  • Eshaunte Jones—Eshaunte actually did get signed and sealed by Doc Sadler for this season.  However he comes with baggage as well.  He originally committed to Indiana in the fall of 2006. He instead went to Hargrave Military Academy in Virginia, where he played last season. He then signed with Oregon State but was released from his letter of intent when the school changed coaches.  Boy the paperwork that must have been done on that one.
  • Brandon Ubel—Brandon, from Overland Park, KS seems like the only normal one in the bunch accepting a scholarship offer for 2009-10, but of course it is still an oral commitment until later this fall when early signing occurs.   

The loser in this whole situation—Paul Velander.  The walk-on that has played significant minutes for Nebraska the past two seasons was originally slated to get the scholarship vacated when Roburt Sallie found out he couldn’t come to Nebraska, but even as the Diaz fiasco continues, poor Paul still doesn’t get a scholarship. 

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ESPN Gameday: 2009 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on September 9th, 2008

Yeah, we’re way behind on this story and everything else, but we finally extracted ourselves from under a wet blanket of indentured misery-tude and we can once again focus on what’s really important… like whether Jay Bilas will finally turn around and punch The Redundancy known as Digger Phelps in the schnozz…  or whether Hubert Davis’ high-pitched guffaw will cause rabid bats nesting in the arena rafters to attack the GameDay crew…  or whether Rece Davis’ hair will ever move… 

Still, in the three years that ESPN has been doing College Gameday, the on-air chemistry has steadily improved to the point where it has become must-watch tv for knowledgeable hoops fans throughout its Jan/Feb/March run.  We still can’t figure out why ESPN locks itself into games before the season even begins (unlike its CFB counterpart, whose venue changes on a week-to-week basis), but the majority of the time they pick a nationally relevant game (14 of the 31 games have involved two ranked teams, but last year involved a notable exception: last year’s S. Illinois – Creighton 48-44 stinker on Jan. 26 is one of a handful of games involving two unranked teams in the four-year history of GameDay), and some of the humorous bits are LOL-worthy (see Tebow clip below). 

Irrespective of all that jazz, ESPN released its schedule of 2009 sites recently, and it’s apparent that ESPN is looking to party in college towns aplenty this year – missing are some of the lamer venues such as Syracuse and Durham in favor of more traditionally collegiate beer and babes locales. 

January 17- Chapel Hill, NC (Miami-North Carolina)
January 24- South Bend, IN (UConn-Notre Dame)
January 31- Knoxville, TN. (Florida-Tennessee)
February 7- Spokane, WA (Memphis-Gonzaga)
February 14- Madison, WI (Ohio State-Wisconsin)
February 21- Austin, TX (Oklahoma-Texas)
February 28- Berkeley, CA (UCLA-California)
March 7- Morgantown, WV (Louisville-West Virginia)

Some quick thoughts -

Best Game.  We love the UConn-Notre Dame matchup in South Bend.  UConn should be close to all the way “back” this season, and Mike Brey will have a top 10 team possibly riding a near-50 game homecourt winning streak in South Bend on that night.  Plus we get to see Digger in his ridiculous green tie and marker ensemble.  This night has fun written all over it.  Our runner-up game to watch would be Memphis-Gonzaga in Spokane, a rematch of a fairly entertaining game from last January

Likely Stinker.  Nobody wants to watch Ohio St. and Wisconsin play bruiserball in Madison on Valentine’s Day, that goes without saying (coincidence?  we think not).  But the Miami-UNC game on Jan. 17 also has us shaking our heads a little.  If you’re going to show us the prohibitive favorites on GameDay, at least give us the courtesy of matching the Heels up with someone who can challenge them…  Miami?  Hmph – this has 30 point blowout written all over it, and Miami is a Top 25 team!

Who Knows Game.  The Feb. 28 game between UCLA and Mike Montgomery’s newly acquired California team would have been a blockbuster had Ryan Anderson stuck around for his junior season in Berkeley.  But we’re still intrigued to see what Cal can do in a “big” game like this one, exactly the kind of game that Monty built his rep on down at the Farm in the 90s. 

Missing Powers.  No Duke this year, which we really can’t believe since the Devils will be a top 5 team.  There’s also no sign of Bill Self’s national champion Kansas Jayhawks - instead we get a Big 12 matchup in Austin between Oklahoma and Texas.  For the first year in GameDay history, Kentucky will also not be involved in a game this season.   

Cult of Personalities.  GameDay loves to show certain coaches nearly every year.  We mentioned Roy Williams’ UNC squad, who will be making its fifth appearance.  Rick Pitino’s Louisville Cardinals will also be making their fifth appearance, as will Rick Barnes’ Texas Longhorns.  As a brief sidenote speaking of personalities, the Mar. 7 game between Pitino and Bob Huggins could be exceptional.  Louisville should be absolutely loaded next season, and we only have doubts about WVU from their loss of the acrobatic Joe Alexander, but Huggins will have his team sky high for this one anyway.

The Tim Tebow GameDay Clip:

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Need More RTC Correspondents…

Posted by rtmsf on September 9th, 2008

Ok, so we’ve gotten some really good responses the past few weeks from our initial outreach for correspondents from each of the 31 conferences.  We’re still a solid month out from Midnight Madness, though, and we have multiple tasty slots still available.  So come on people, help us take America back as an RTC correspondent! 

Here is a list of the conferences still available.  Hit us up at rushthecourtATyahooDOTcom if you’re interested (and we understand if nobody in America wants to write about the Big 10 – really, we do).

  • America East
  • Big South
  • Big 10
  • Big West
  • Conference USA
  • Horizon
  • Ivy
  • MAC
  • MEAC
  • Mountain West
  • OVC
  • Patriot
  • Southland
  • Summit
  • Sun Belt
  • SWAC
  • WCC

Become an RTC correspondent – we’ll pay you in timely, well-intentioned platitudes!

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