Thoughts On The Sporting News’ Top 50 Coaches List…

Posted by jstevrtc on July 31st, 2009

By now you’ve probably seen the list published earlier this week by The Sporting News naming their Fifty Greatest Coaches of All Time, across all sports.  And most likely you’ve at least seen that the legendary John Wooden tops that list, a selection about which this blogger has not heard one single detractor, not even one with a bad argument.  What’s interesting to me is the names from the college basketball world that follow Wooden on that list.  Here they are; I added two coaches at the end who did not make the TSN list (though one would think they might) just for the discussion:

TSN all-time coaches

The first thing that strikes me is where John Wooden ranks on the all-time Division 1 wins list.  21st??!?  It’s always been obvious that in these lofty heights number of wins has never been a great indicator of coaching ability, since teams just didn’t play as many games until the 80s when that number really took off.  That would seem to make winning percentage a more important statistic.  But not on this list, it appears.  If that statistic mattered here, you wouldn’t expect Dean Smith to be quite as high, and you’d expect Adolph Rupp to be higher; you would certainly expect Roy Williams to at least make the list.  Final fours?  Nope.  Dean Smith would be appropriately stationed, but Mike Krzyzewski would be higher along with Rupp, and again you’d think Williams would get on.   And so on.  No single major statistic appears to have guided the thinking, here.

The question is, does this reduce the validity or credibility of the list?  According to TSN, their panel consisted of “seven World Series-winning managers, four Super Bowl champion coaches, and the winningest coaches in the NBA, NHL, and college basketball.”  I’m not saying they necessarily got anything wrong — who better to ask about coaches than players and other coaches?  It is at least obvious that there’s only one thing the panel considered, at least in terms of how the best coaches in college basketball fell on the list — reputation.

No contest.   (credit: scout.com)

No contest. (credit: scout.com)

The selection of Wooden at the top cannot be argued because he’s got the reputation, the aura, and too much of the overall look of the statistics on his side.  After that it’s a crapshoot depending on what you think is the most important determiner of coaching greatness.  To the TSN panel, it’s something akin to curb appeal that influenced them.  Would Bob Knight not have been higher than 16th on an all-time coaches list were it not for his acerbic nature?  Would Adolph Rupp and Dean Smith have been closer together were it not for Rupp’s reputation (whether you think he deserves it or not) as a bigot, and/or Smith having an image bordering on — dare I say it — holy?  Is Roy Williams still being punished for his inability to win the big one while at Kansas?  And what of Pat Summitt?  She’s the only one who could even challenge Wooden in terms of college basketball coaches; her numbers are barely conceivable, and then you throw in her 1oo% graduation rate (yes, that’s right, every Tennessee player on her watch who has completed their eligibility there has also graduated).  Should she be higher than 11th on the whole thing?  And if you want to talk about the effect of reputation on this list, there probably isn’t a better example than the appearance of the late great Pete Newell.  Only 357 games coached, a single title, only two Final Fours, and the lowest winning percentage on the coaches on the above list.  But he goes and forms the Big Man Camp — and eventually what he would call the Tall Women’s Basketball Camp (I guess “Big Woman’s Camp” wasn’t an appealing name for such a place) — and finds a way to coach players in a way that didn’t directly show up as wins and losses, and here he is, on the overall list ahead of people like Joe Torre, Tom Osborne, Toe Blake, and Chuck Daly.  In addition, if you ask any coach, they’ll tell you that, before he died, you’d have been hard-pressed to find a better coach and man than Mr. Newell.  Does he belong on the list?

I don’t know the answers to these questions, but I do know one thing — the list generates great discussion (especially in the summer lull), so come on…let’s hear from the Duke fans who think Coach K got screwed, let’s hear from the UNC fans who think Smith-Williams should be 1-2.  Let’s hear from the UK fans who think Rupp is too great to be even considered on such a list.  Knowing the passion of college hoop fans and the readers of this site, it should be good.

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07.29.09 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on July 29th, 2009

Things were VERY quiet over the weekend, but as always, RTC brings you the hostess with the mostess…

  • Summer Hypocrisy Trail.  We spend a lot of time around here criticizing the NCAA, its administrators, coaches and enablers for their acute sense of self-serving righteousness mixed with hypocrisy as it relates to their various policies of doing business.  A couple of stories caught our eye to this effect over the past few days.  The first was Pete Thamel’s NYT piece exposing how summer camp organizers are charging exorbitant fees to coaches for the privilege of watching its players in the stands (along with a fancy-schmancy binder of player names and hometowns, whoop-de-damn-do).  Prices range from $175-$350, depending on the locale, but coaches are uniformly annoyed with such a major additional expense to their recruiting budgets.  Vandy’s Kevin Stallings has taken the lead on criticizing the practice (he refused to pay the fee at a Memphis camp, turning around and driving back home), but predictably, those coaches who get their bread buttered by virtue of cozy relationships with the camp organizers (K, Howland, Matta, etc.) will not speak out publicly about this trend.  And as Dana O’Neil showed in her article about a coach’s banquet in Las Vegas put on by camp organizers, there’s often very little accountability with respect to where all these fee dollars are flowing.  Organizers make claims about funding AAU trips, tournaments and “feeding their families,” but as we’ve seen with allegations involving Renardo Sidney and others, the paper trail on where money ends up is often ambiguous and fraught with obfuscation.  Of course, none of this should surprise you or us – the system is so completely dirty at the AAU level that we truly wonder if the NCAA will ever succeed in rooting it out.  The genie is already out of the bottle, and for every World Wide Wes out there, a hundred others are gunning to take his place.  Mike DeCourcy, for what it’s worth, thinks that the coaches should just STFU, and he’s probably right.  Still it doesn’t change the fact that, without regulation of these camps, nobody except the organizers really know what these dollars are being used for.  
  • Summer of Lawsuits.  An odd lawsuit has arisen over a clause in a head coach’s former contract that unequivocally states that he may not continue to recruit players he was recruiting at his old school if he leaves for a new school.  Matt Brady, the second-year head coach at James Madison and formerly at Marist, was sued by Marist for violating what many people suggest is an unenforceable clause that they’ve never seen employed elsewhere.  Creative contract negotiations or willful ignorance of the law?  Regardless, four players whom Brady was recruiting at Marist – Julius Wells, Devon Moore, Andrey Semenov and Trevon Flores – ended up at JMU instead last season, although only Wells had signed a national letter of intent (which Marist released him from).  Of course, the key issue that the NY state court will consider is whether there is an obligation on the part of the coach over third parties (the recruits); we can’t imagine that the long arm of any contract would suggest such a thing, but we’re not lawyers, we just play them on tv. 
  • UNC Title Tilt.  If you’re of the opinion that the 2005 NCAA Champion UNC squad would mop the floor with the 2009 NCAA Champion NCAA squad, as we are, then you’ll have an opportunity to see players from those two teams settle the debate at the UNC Pro Alumni Game on September 4 at the Dean Dome.  Nine players from the ’05 team – Raymond Felton, Sean May, Rashad McCants, Byron Sanders, Reyshawn Terry, Jackie Manuel, Quentin Thomas, Marvin Williams and Jawad Williams – are scheduled to appear, along with six players from last year’s champs – Tyler Hansbrough, Wayne Ellington, Ty Lawson, Danny Green, Bobby Frasor and Michael Copeland.  The scrimmage will allow for ad hoc division of rosters, and we’d expect to see several possessions where the starting lineups for each team are on the floor facing off against each other.  For the record, if the two teams actually were to play at full strength, the frontline of May and M. Williams would dominate the Hansbrough/D. Thompson side, especially with the superior playmaker Felton (over Lawson) distributing the ball.  The 2005 Heels weren’t as dominant in the NCAAs as the 2009 version, in part due to a lack of experience, but the talent on that team was far better. 
  • Quick Hits2012 Olympic team: projecting a rosterBen Howland: on noticeBob Knight: teacher, leader, comedianKatz: stock watch for 2010 prospectsLebron Tape: what was it worthFlorida St.: fine, you pay our legal fees thenBig Monday: Big 12 ScheduleCanadian Elite Hoops: doing great, until thisFather/Son Recruiting: play for dad or UCLAIsiah: checking in on him at FIU.
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Delaware to NCAA: FU and the Horse You Rode In On…

Posted by rtmsf on July 28th, 2009

In case you missed it late last Friday afternoon, the NCAA, along with the NFL, MLB, NBA and NHL, sued the state of Delaware and the issue had nothing to do with the state’s personal extortionists known as credit card companies.  See, those crafty First Staters hidden along the east coast near Pennsylmaryginia have gotten all uppity and are planning on implementing legal sports gambling in time for this year’s NFL and college football seasons.  Unlike its previous foray into sports betting during the 1970s (an ill-advised sports ‘lottery’ of sorts), this time around the state has plans to offer single-game wagers using point spreads the same as one would make at the Bellagio or Wynn in Vegas.  Revenue would help Delaware close its projected half-billion dollar budget deficit next year and in subsequent years.  The professional leagues and the NCAA don’t like this development (what about the children???), so they’re suing the state to block the plan, stating that sports gambling in Delaware “would irreparably harm professional and amateur sports by fostering suspicion and skepticism that individual plays and final scores of games may have been influenced by factors other than honest athletic competition.”

delaware25

Is the NCAA serious with this nonsense? We already know that illegal gambling is far worse than these leagues will ever let on, but does the NCAA truly believe that by eliminating legal, regulated gaming that there will be a greater chance for its games to become tainted?  Are we expected to believe that Delaware athletes, or those of nearby surrounding states, will suddenly become more compelled to make a trip to Dover Downs to lay some bones on themselves?  It’s complete hogwash, the NCAA knows it, and their hypocrisy by doing business with companies such as CBS who promote gambling on their web properties and allowing UNLV and Nevada (yeah, gambling happens there too) to compete at the highest level of NCAA sports is appalling.  Luckily, we’re not the only ones who feel that way.

Peter Schwartzkopf, the Delaware House majority leader, fired back today with a letter addressed to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell but cc’d to each of the other parties of the lawsuit.  It is fair to say that he holds no punches:

What I do not respect is the blatant hypocrisy of the professional sports leagues like the NFL that have now brought a lawsuit against Delaware. The lawsuit complains that legalized sports betting in Delaware will somehow undermine the integrity of their leagues. But the stance taken in these legal filings is belied by the close nexus between gambling and the leagues themselves. […]  We also learned that the NCAA, while threatening our Delaware universities with taking away home playoff games if sports betting moves forward, sponsored the Las Vegas Bowl last year, housing its players in hotel casinos where bets are taken on games.

Ouch.  He continues:

It is hard to imagine why moving forward with sports betting in Delaware will undermine the integrity of professional or college sports. Las Vegas has promoted sports betting for many years, so Delaware is not covering new ground here. When it comes to expanding state sponsored gaming, legitimate debate and discussion should continue among Delaware’s elected representatives and its citizens. But the self-serving, hypocritical pronouncements and legal threats by these for-profit sports leagues that have sued Delaware should be rejected.

The Supreme Court of Delaware already issued an advisory opinion on this issue in May, and it determined that so long as there is an element of chance involved in the system (i.e., it’s not 100% skill), then it is a legal mechanism.  To get around this, the plaintiffs filed their case in federal court in the hopes that they could get a different interpretation.  We wish nothing but the worst of luck to the NCAA and their cohorts on this one.

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RTC Blogpoll – Summer 2009 Edition

Posted by zhayes9 on July 28th, 2009

I’m proud to re-introduce a feature here at Rush the Court – the RTC Blogpoll.

From November through March during the college hoops season, check back here every Monday for the rankings of our four main scribes- myself, rtmsf, nvr1983 and jstevrtc- combined into one, fantastic Top 25 ranking. Take that, AP and coaches!  The aggegrate of our own internal poll will constitute what we submit to the larger national Blogpoll each week. 

To get our loyal readers into hoops mode even for a few minutes during the long offseason, here’s a summer edition of the rankings with commentary provided by yours truly regarding each ranked team. Look for this feature on a weekly basis during the 2009-10 campaign (which, as I concluded while compiling this poll, cannot come soon enough).

rtc summer blogpoll 2009

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Majerus So Desperate He’s Now Recruiting Bank Robbers…

Posted by rtmsf on July 27th, 2009

Two years ago former Utah coach Rick Majerus came out of retirement to take over the reins at St. Louis University.  We wrote at the time of his hiring that one of the key attributes of his teams throughout his career was that they tend to overachieve.  His teams at Utah were locks to win 20+ games and make the NCAA Tournament despite a relative paucity of elite talent (Keith Van Horn excepted).  We expected a quick turnaround at SLU, but it’s been a little slower going than expected – the Billikens have posted back-to-back mediocre seasons (16-15 and 18-14) and the only newsworthy event in Majerus’ two years there was from this particular 20-point abomination.  So he needs some recruits, right?  His first class was strong with several three-star players (including top 150 player Brett Thompson), but his second class fell off considerably (only one three-star), so Majerus might be feeling more pressure to sign players by any means necessary.

DiLoreto and Accomplice in Disguise

DiLoreto and Accomplice in Disguise

Gary Parrish today reported that 6’11 prep center Anthony DiLoreto has been offered a scholarship by Majerus and SLU, which wouldn’t otherwise register a blip on the national radar except for the fact that DiLoreto is facing two felonies for taking part in a bank robbery last year in Wisconsin.  Yeah, a bank robbery – as in, he drove the getaway car and provided the sawed-off shotgun that his 16-year old associate used to enter the Bremer Bank and steal the money.  Not only that, but DiLoreto broke longstanding ‘villain code’ by leaving his companion behind when the po-po rolled up for a nearby unrelated accident.  Showing Darwin-Award brilliance, DiLoreto then drove home and waited there until he was arrested several hours later.  He had originally committed to Cal Poly, but the school dropped his recruitment in light of these allegations.  (ed. note: this story would be much better if DiLoreto was from New Jersey)

Not Majerus and St. Louis, though.  And according to Parrish, not several other coaches either (from the Big 10, Big 12, Pac-10, A10, WAC, MWC and WCC), all of whom now consider DiLoreto a mid- to high-major prospect.  DiLoreto hasn’t yet overcome his legal problems, but he’s been working toward a plea bargain settlement that would presumably allow him to play ball again soon.  With an opportunity to grab an improving seven-footer, coaches are lining up to take a chance on him, proving once again that unless a player is actually in prison, someone will give him a schollie if he can occasionally throw a ball through a hoop.

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The Hypocrisy of ESPN

Posted by nvr1983 on July 23rd, 2009

Before I get started, I want to reiterate our stance against the scumbags who surreptitiously videotaped Erin Andrews in the clips that apparently came out almost 4 months ago and somehow remained unknown before exploding on the Internet one week ago. . .

As you may know by now the past week has been a particularly trying one for the sports media overlords in Bristol as they have been hit by the aforementioned peephole video scandal, which their own sister network claims might have been an inside job [Ed. Note: Can ESPN sue its parent company?],  and the Ben Roethlisberger fiasco where they waited several days to announce the news that one of the most recognizable athletes in America had a sexual assault charge filed against him. Perhaps the most interesting story out of Bristol this week was that ESPN had decided to blacklist all New York Post staff members from appearing on any ESPN or any of their outlets after the Post ran screencaps of the infamous videos that left little to the imagination. On a basic visceral level, most people would agree to ESPN’s decision as they would  be disgusted by the decision of the Post brain trust to run the screencaps.

hypocrisy meter

The situation becomes a little more dicey when 2 other major media outlets (CBS and FOX News) decided to show the actual clips on their news broadcasts. If the front office people at ESPN actually had a policy or stance regarding the use of these illegally filmed clips, they should have taken a similar stance against CBS and FOX staff members. This raises an interesting question: Why did ESPN single out the New York Post? While some may argue that it was the way the Post utilized the images, we find that rather hard to believe. Although CBS and FOX were not as sensational in their presentation of the clips as the Post was they are in fact doing the same thing–using the illegal footage to try and further their story. For our money, there is a simple answer as to why ESPN singled out the Post staff members for their blacklist–because they can.

Read the rest of this entry »

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07.23.09 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on July 23rd, 2009

It’s actually been a fairly busy week in the world of college hoops despite the mid-summer lull, so let’s take a look at some of the other key stories coming down the pike…

  • Hoop Dreams, 15 Years Later.  This week in his Hoops Thoughts column, Seth Davis pushed us down memory lane to the grungy days of 1994, a year of Cobain, Madonna’s undies and OJ’s white Bronco, but also of a bedraggled jewel of a documentary called “Hoop Dreams.”  We have a fair amount of younger readers on this site, so if you’ve never seen this movie, stop what you’re doing RIGHT NOW, and rent it on Netflix or your local movie shop.  It is without question the best basketball film ever made.  Davis’ summary of the movie is good so we won’t belabor that here, but even fifteen years later, the movie holds its color, bouquet and taste much better than most items from that era.  We slightly quibble with Davis on his contention that HD was the first reality tv (The Real World says hello) or that the two players featured in the film, William Gates and Arthur Agee, were ordinary people (their extraordinary skills at basketball at a young age is what made them not ordinary), but we completely agree with his fundamental assessment that the authenticity behind these two players’ struggles still resonates today.  The early 90s, when Gates and Agee were documented in the film, was an era at the edge of a precipice in two key cultural shifts that are still impacting the game: 1) the worldwide online revolution of 1995, which has impacted scouting and recruiting in an exponential fashion now that players can be commodified based on Youtube clips and independent assessments from anywhere on the globe; and 2) Kevin Garnett’s decision to go to the NBA straight out of HS in 1995 led to a sea change in how high school players were viewed, pushing scouting (and dreams of riches) earlier and earlier into a player’s development.  From a re-viewing of the movie in 2009, it’s easy to see the seeds of World Wide Wes and his ilk as assembly-line talent evaluator-cum-agents strategically dropping their whispers of fame and fortune into player family’s ears at a young age.  What was once limited to the bigger cities and at a much smaller scale is now ubiquitous; where elite players were once counseled by their coach (as in, their HS coach, not their AAU coach), they now listen to runners and quasi-representatives from shoe companies.  All of the dirty elements that are plaguing today’s amateur player development and the college game are there on display, in a rawer, more transparent form, in Hoop Dreams.  The authenticity of how the system uses these players, only to spit them out when they’re no longer useful, is front and center – how have things changed?  Thanks to Seth for re-awakening everyone to this movie – it’s a must-see.     
  • SEC-TV.  Starting this fall, the SEC announced that it will broadcast an all-SEC sports network as part of its new $2.25B deal with ESPN.  The SEC Network (through ESPN Regional) will syndicate its college football and basketball games to 73 (and counting) markets, but what makes this announcement particularly compelling is how the SEC has strategically decided to move outside its traditional nine-state southeastern footprint for this deal.  Local affiliates in the major markets of New York, Los Angeles and Chicago, as well as the three major Texas cities, are included in this deal, which unequivocally shows that the SEC isn’t playing games in terms of its foray to dominate college sports through national recruiting.  Where this could really pay dividends is not with the Kentuckys and Floridas, but with the Mississippi States and the Georgias of the SEC.  If games involving those teams are on tv in major media markets showing recruits a fun, winning style, they might be more inclined to consider going there over local state U.  How will the other leagues react?
  • F the Gazelle Group.  They’re back again this season with another faux-tournament in the form of the Legends Classic.  Remember our piece shredding them on this last year?  If you don’t, here’s a refresher.  The Gazelle Group got upset when little Gardner-Webb upset Kentucky in Rupp two years ago during a preliminary round game, meaning that the legions of UK fans they expected to buy tickets the next week weren’t showing.  So what’d they do the next year – they fixed the tournament!  Yep, all four of the ‘host’ teams get automatic entry to the Championship Rounds (final four teams) despite what happens in the prelims.  Total asinine garbage.  This year’s four faux-champs?  Michigan St., Rutgers, Florida and UMass.  MSU-Florida could be interesting, and definitely keep an eye on summer hotshot Mike Rosario from Joisey (playing in AC). 
  • Quick Hits.  Anthony Mason, Jr.: back in a Johnnies uni for 09-10.  Jim Calhoun: still going full boreJosh Selby/World Wide Wes: that’s just messed upWooden Classic: Georgetown v. Washington; UCLA v. Mississippi St.  Coach K: are Duke fans mad atchaMurray Bartow: 2-year extension at ETSU.  Dickie V: Summer Rolls-RoycersTop 25 Recruits: broken downGary Parrish: on the summer circuitSix OTs: enjoyAntonio Burks: recovering after robbery where he was shot.  Centenary: downgrading to D3WCC Tourney: in Vegas through 2012 (at least).  2010 Vegas Odds: sell Louisville
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Summer Bracketology: 07.23.09

Posted by zhayes9 on July 22nd, 2009

Did you all miss Bracketology as much as I did? While the intense days of February and March seem like eons away, here’s a dose of bracket madness to keep you college basketball diehards happy in the heart of Summer 2009. Some brief notes regarding the bracket:

- The preseason #1 seeds are (in order) Kansas, Kentucky, Texas and Michigan State. As the number one overall seed, Kansas plays the closest to home in St. Louis, Kentucky is placed in Houston as higher priority over Texas, and so on. The only #2 seed that was considered for a top seed was Purdue, but I gave the slight Big Ten edge to last year’s national runner-up from East Lansing.

- They lost Tyler Hansbrough, Wayne Ellington, Ty Lawson, Danny Green…and North Carolina is still a #2 seed? It’s true. Due to an outstanding recruiting class, an overall decrease in talent across the board in college basketball (especially from upperclassmen) and returnees like Ed Davis, Larry Drew and Deon Thompson expected to make a significant leap in production, North Carolina will most likely be at the top with Duke as preseason ACC favorites.

- The other difficult call was in the Pac-10 between Washington and California. While the Golden Bears return all of their talent from an overachieving season, I’m in love with the Huskies backcourt of Isaiah Thomas and Abdul Gaddy. As the returning champions, I gave them the slight nod as the #3 seed in the Salt Lake region, with Cal sliding to a #4 seed.

- This might be painful to swallow for all the Big Ten haters out there (I’m definitely not one of them), but it’s going to be the best conference in the land this season. Michigan State and Purdue are both potential number ones, Ohio State returns nearly everyone besides the disappointing B.J. Mullens, Illinois returns a talented group (losing Frazier and Meachem could hurt initially), and both Minnesota and Michigan have plenty returning. You can never discount Wisconsin either.

- The last team in? Vanderbilt from the SEC. The last team out? Pittsburgh from the Big East. Really, I wanted to put the Panthers in, but they lost DeJuan Blair, Levance Fields, Sam Young, Jermaine Dixon and Tyrell Biggs. That’s just too much to overcome, even if Jamie Dixon is their head coach and the Petersen Events Center is one of the most difficult places to play.

- The Pac-10 has only three teams in at this point. I expect them to receive more bids when it’s all said and done, but right now I just can’t put anyone else in the field besides Washington, Cal and UCLA. Both Arizona and USC are total messes. Washington State, Arizona State and Oregon State appear to be NIT clubs at this point.

07.22.09 bracketology

Last Four In: Wisconsin, Vanderbilt, Syracuse, LSU

Last Four Out: Pittsburgh, Seton Hall, Mississippi, Miami (FL)

Next Four Out: Marquette, Creighton, Florida State, Arizona

Bids per conference: Big East (8), ACC (7), Big 12 (7), Big Ten (7), SEC (7), Pac-10 (3), Atlantic 10 (2).

Automatic bids: Binghamton, Dayton, North Carolina, Jacksonville, Kansas, Villanova, Montana, Radford, Michigan State, Long Beach State, Old Dominion, Tulsa, Butler, Cornell, Siena, Akron, Morgan State, Northern Iowa, BYU, Mount St. Mary’s, Murray State, Washington, Holy Cross, Kentucky, College of Charleston, Sam Houston State, Prairie View A&M, Oakland, Western Kentucky, Gonzaga, Utah State.

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Memphis Recruit Latavious Williams Bolts Overseas

Posted by zhayes9 on July 22nd, 2009

First it was Brandon Jennings, then heralded class of 2011 recruit Jeremy Tyler, and now the Rivals.com #17 overall player from the class of 2009 – Latavious Williams.  Therein completes the list of talented individuals that have opted to play overseas in the last year rather than pursue a playing career in college. While Jennings cannot necessarily be blamed for his decision to play in Italy due to a failure to be cleared academically to play for Arizona this past season, the decisions by Tyler (a high school junior at the time of his decision) and Williams leave us scratching our heads.

Sure, Tyler has the potential to be an impact basketball player. He’s 6’11, loaded with upside and will make plenty of money before he would have even received his diploma. But playing overseas, just as Jennings discovered, is much more difficult than anticipated by a confident 17-year old who has never faced such competition in his life.  The odds are that we never hear from Jeremy Tyler again.  As for Williams, the Memphis recruit was reportedly 50/50 to be cleared to play this season for new coach Josh Pastner and the Tigers. This is a different situation than Jennings, a player who entered the final year of high school as the top-ranked player in the nation, who struggled mightily in Italy. Williams is certainly talented, but nowhere near as talented as Jennings, yet reportedly Williams had Jennings in mind when he made his decision.

“It was a difficult decision,” Williams said in his press release. “But after consulting with a number of people, and taking my family situation into consideration, playing overseas is the best move for me.”  According to Williams’ consultant Trey Godfrey, Williams made his decision with money in mind: “He made the decision when taking into account his family situation,” said Godfrey, “He wants to put himself in a situation where he can help out and he saw this as a good opportunity.”  He had been considering the move overseas even during the recruiting process with Memphis and other schools.  China, of all places, is one possible destination for Williams.

The impact on Memphis is glaring. Williams was rumored to be a potential starter for the Tigers due to the departure of both Robert Dozier and Shawn Taggart from the frontcourt. Otherwise, Angel Garcia, Pierre Henderson-Niles and Miami JC transfer Will Coleman will need to lead the way inside. The strength of the Tigers should remain in the backcourt with Duke transfer Elliot Williams, three-point threat Doneal Mack, point guard Willie Kemp and the emerging Roburt Sallie and Wesley Witherspoon.

Josh Pastner Better Get Back on the Phones (photo credit: Arizona Star)

Josh Pastner Better Get Back on the Phones (photo credit: Arizona Star)

As for the impact on Williams, it could be tragic. While he could certainly prove us wrong, it’s hard to see Williams succeeding overseas playing in that type of competition. He’s not a supreme talent like Jennings who can struggle and still maintain his status as a NBA lottery pick due to upside and potential. He could be severely exposed overseas and barely end up a second-round pick in the league, if he’s fortunate.  Due to the complicated eligibility process imposed by the NCAA and the allure of bringing in early cash outside of school, look for this troubling trend to continue as long as only one year of college is required prior to the NBA.

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Watch The Umbrella on the Grassy Knoll!!!

Posted by rtmsf on July 22nd, 2009

Leave it to the venerable journalistic institution known as TMZ to come up with this, but the long national waiting period to see grainy footage of Lebron getting dunked on by Jordan Crawford (from about 250 feet away) is about to go viral.  The reason?  TMZ will be releasing the video at 6:45pm EDT tonight.  You”ll recall that Nike confiscated two videotapes of the incident during the scrimmage in question, leading to vociferous clowning of Lebron and his shoe company after the fact.

Call us paranoid, but we have to believe Nike has its hands on this release somehow.

0722_lebron_dunk_tmz

Wonder how JC feels about being called “The Dunker?”  Could be worse, we suppose.

Check back later today for the video…

Update: EbaumNation just stole TMZ’s thunder by releasing its version on the same end of the court here.  Pretty nasty flush although Lebron got there late.  After seeing the number of people in the stands, our question is… how did Nike expect this to not leak out?

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Why Ed O’Bannon is Our New Favorite Likeness

Posted by rtmsf on July 22nd, 2009

It takes some doing to keep your name in the news some 14 years after winning a national title and some 12 years after ‘retiring’ from the NBA, but former NPOY and UCLA national champion Ed O’Bannon is doing his best this summer.  First came the Washington Post article in June that showed how, instead of cashing mega-checks like his contemporaries KG, Stack and Sheed from the 1995 draft, Eddie O. is now selling cars in the hot Vegas desert; that was followed by media exposure of the Lil Wayne song “Cannon,” where the lyric “listen close I got duct tape and rope, I’ll leave you missin’ like the (expletive) O’Bannons” was roundly ridiculed in the blogosphere.  Perhaps striking while the iron is hot, O’Bannon today sued the NCAA and its brand manager, Collegiate Licensing Company, in a federal class action suit claiming that the two entities illegally use player likenesses and images to reap millions of dollars in profit while former players see nothing in return.  Pete Thamel from the NYT writes:

ed o'bannon ucla

A lawsuit that [O’Bannon’s] lawyers filed on Tuesday could change that answer and affect other issues surrounding the use of the likenesses and images of former college football and basketball players.  The lawsuit is for an undisclosed amount of money, but will bring into greater focus the N.C.A.A.’s $4 billion licensing industry. The lawsuit says that former athletes should be compensated by the N.C.A.A. for the use of their images and likenesses in such things as television advertisements, video games and apparel.

According to O’Bannon, he got the idea for this suit when a co-worker saw a UCLA game of his on ESPN Classic the night before.  When the colleague asked whether he received residuals for the showing of that game, he said no.  Whether or not this half-baked vignette is truly the reason behind the suit (it’s not), the general feeling is that this could be a major, major problem for the NCAA.  The fundamental question that a court will have to decide comes down to whether the existing NCAA policy that requires its student-athletes to sign away their rights to their likenesses in exchange as a condition for playing collegiate sports is legal.  O’Bannon’s argument is that such a policy is exploitative at its core, and Michael McCann from Sports Law Blog believes there could be merit to his argument.

The stakes of O’Bannon v. NCAA are enormous. If O’Bannon and former student-athletes prevail or receive a favorable settlement, the NCAA, along with its member conferences and schools, could be required to pay tens of millions, if not hundreds of millions, of dollars in damages — particularly since damages are trebled under federal antitrust law.

Frankly, it’s about effin’ time.  As Dan Wetzel poignantly notes in his article breaking the story today, the players are painted into a (legally unrepresented) corner at 17 or 18 years old when all they’re really worried about is getting their eligibility to play college sports.  We understand why the NCAA doesn’t want its current players profiting off of their likenesses while an amateur, but why does the NCAA retain 100% of those rights for the rest of those players’ lives?  Why does Texas Western profit off of 1966 jerseys of #14 Bobby Joe Hill, but not the player (or the estate in Hill’s case) some 40+ years later?  Same thing with Jerry Rice’s MVSU #88 jersey?  Or, as O’Bannon stated in his complaint, why doesn’t he see a dime for an EA Sports video game licensed by the NCAA that clearly shows his silky smooth left-handed collegiate “self” running around making shots and ripping down rebounds as a 1995 UCLA Bruin?  It’s absolutely ludicrous, and we’d really like to see the NCAA take it on the chin this time around.

Epilogue: guess who is making this happen as an ‘unpaid consultant’… none other than the top NCAA gadfly himself, Sonny Vaccaro.  Call him the Highlander Folk School and Ed O’Bannon the Rosa Parks of NCAA reform…

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Coach K to Coach Team USA in the 2012 Olympics

Posted by nvr1983 on July 21st, 2009

We have already laid out our thoughts on the possibility of this occurring earlier, but it’s worth bringing up again because USA Basketball made it official today that Mike Krzyzewski was returning to lead Team USA in the 2012 Olympics in London. For as much hate as he gets as the coach of Duke, we have to say that he has done a great job of rebuilding USA Basketball with Jerry Colangelo although that it can be argued that his best attribute was that he didn’t bench his best player (see George Karl in 2002) or select a squad that was horribly put together/too young and act like an insufferable jerk while coach that team (see Larry Brown in 2004). Perhaps the biggest impact Coach K’s return will have is convincing the team’s stars (LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, and Dwayne Wade) to return for another run at the gold medal. Team USA version 2012 could potentially field a team that is legitimately as dominant as The Dream Team (none of this ridiculous “Redeem Team” junk from this year) as the  2008 team’s core players will be entering their primes with the exception of Kobe. Here’s a quick look at a potential roster for London:

PG = Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Rajon Rondo, and Derrick Rose

SG =  Kobe Bryant, Dwayne Wade, and Brandon Roy

SF = LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, and Kevin Durant

PF/C = Dwight Howard, Blake Griffin, Al Jefferson, and Chris Bosh

Obviously that’s more people than could suit up, but they would probably lose at least one guy to age/injuries (candidates: Kobe, Wade, and Jefferson) or might drop one of the potential PGs (likely Rondo or Williams). Griffin is also the other wild-card here since we’re forecasting his success in the NBA, but Team USA’s weakness is inside and it seems like he would be perfect in the international setting with the up-tempo pace that Team USA would likely employ even if Malcolm Gladwell thinks that style of play is a recipe for an upset. In any case, this team would be enormous favorites in London and would highlight a talent–recruiting–that was once considered Coach K’s greatest asset back when he used to simply coach Duke.

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