Thou Shalt Not Facial King James

Posted by rtmsf on July 8th, 2009

Jeff Goodman first reported this yesterday afternoon, and it’s taken off like wildfire across the web so we felt obligated to show some love to Xavier sophomore Jordan Crawford for throwing down a TWO-hander over King James during Monday night’s games at the Lebron James Skills Academy.  Nike, the camp sponsor and LBJ overlord, immediately confiscated tapes from the two videographers in the building who, coincidentally, were the only people in the building who could have shown the outside world what happened there.   Like Elie Wiesel in “Night,” (oh yes, we went there) Ryan Miller and his yet-unnamed companion are left to tale the tale through the fading lenses of eyewitness accounts.  Shouldn’t Nike, the progenitor of the all things buzzworthy and masters at managing viral marketing, have understood that confiscating these tapes would end up causing more of an outcry and commotion than simply allowing them to surface on Youtube?  We’re not sure that Phil Knight would be very proud of Nike senior director Lynn Merritt these days (she of the tape stealing).  For what it’s worth, Goodman kept pressing on this so-called policy that Nike has allowing them to steal the tapes, but surprise, they were unable to produce anything written to support said policy.

Goodman didn’t see it, but he did interview Crawford afterwards, who had this to say:

“I was on the right wing and went down the middle. I got past Danny Green and LeBron was waiting under the basket,” Crawford said. “I don’t think he thought I was going to dunk it, so he jumped late. It was two-handed.”  Crawford said he didn’t even fully realize what he had done until afterward.  “Not during the game, but I was geeked afterwards about it,” Crawford said. “Everyone was talking about it.”

Luckily, Gary Parrish has unearthed a photo that Nike is allegedly focus grouping for its next campaign:


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Myles Brand’s Solution to 1-and-Dones: 2-and-Dones

Posted by rtmsf on July 7th, 2009

We stumbled across an article recently while reading about the latest Sarah Palin tragicomedy, and we were immediately surprised about a couple of things.  First, why is the Huffington Post writing about one-and-done basketball players?  And second, why is the author of the piece, NCAA head honcho Myles Brand, blogging for the HuffPo and not ESPN, CBS Sports, NCAA News or some other sports-related website?  Further investigation revealed that Brand has been writing on this platform since last August – 13 total entries – ranging in topics from the myth of the ‘dumb jock’ to diversity hiring in athletics to pay-for-play.  It made for some interesting browsing, and if you have an extra fifteen or twenty minutes, well worth the time to delve deeper into the mind of someone who has spent countless hours in contemplative thought about the major issues affecting collegiate athletics today.

myles brand painting

Of course, the post that caught our eye initially was written this week and called “Maybe Two is More Than Twice As Good As One,” and the central thesis to Brand’s argument is that there is a media-driven hysteria that significantly overblows the negative impact that one-and-dones have on college basketball.  Brand writes:

Other than all the articles written, it [one-and-dones] has little impact on the college game.  “But wait,” shout the naysayers, “What about the fact that the rule guarantees there will be basketball players — student-athletes — who have no intention of being students and even stop going to classes their second semester? And what about the fact that some may cheat to become eligible for their required one year?”  The problem with the majority of the media reports is that they focus on the same two or three examples and fail to point out that the number of one-and-doners is no more than a handful in any one year.

Brand, in aggregate terms, is right about this part.  We showed in our analysis of one-and-dones last week that there have been 24 total such players in the three year history of the rule, or, roughly eight per year, which accounts for <0.1% of D1 players in a given season.  Of the 24, only two players – USC’s OJ Mayo and Memphis’ Derrick Rose – have been involved in ex post facto allegations of impropriety (roughly 8% of those).  (Note: the class of 2009 with John Wall, Lance Stephenson, Renardo Sidney and others could significantly increase these numbers).  Eight percent of a sample of 0.1% of D1 players is a very small number indeed, and from Brand’s perspective as president of the entire shebang, seemingly insignificant.

The problem is that, from a casual college basketball fan’s perspective, those 24 players are significant.  And for a fan of a particular school that has lost multiple star players in three seasons to the one-and-done rule – schools such as Ohio St. (3), UCLA (2), Georgia Tech (2), Memphis (2), or USC (2) – those players are very significant.   Not to mention fans who are fatigued from watching star players pass through campus for one unfulfilling season before shuffling off to the NBA – keep in mind that of the nineteen one-and-dones, only Rose, Kevin Love and the OSU trio of Greg Oden, Mike Conley and Daequan Cook have played in a Final Four and none has won a championship (Melo, of course, came to Syracuse prior to the NBA rule).  As a result of this rule, college basketball is robbed of its top young players every single year, often before they can make a national splash, and that fact alone makes it increasingly difficult for casual fans to stay tuned in on a year-to-year basis.

Teaming Up Basketball

While we generally take issue with the relative impact of the one-and-done rule according to Brand (it’s a big deal!), we completely agree with his suggested solution: just add another year to the NBA requirement.  We’re as much a right-to-work person as anybody, and by no means do we want to suggest that this is the ‘right’ thing from the perspective of the athletes; however, if the NBA is going to continue to insist on a rule for its own selfish reasons of improved scouting, minimizing competitive risk, and providing players a less stressful opportunity to grow, then a two-year requirement is the proper compromise.  By staying in college for two seasons, Brand mentions that the marketability of stars would increase substantially and it certainly would get more players further along the path toward graduation (4+ semesters vs. 1+), and we completely agree with his assessment.

The word we’ve heard for some time now is that NBA Commish David Stern wanted a two-year requirement during the last collective bargaining negotiations, but he backed off in order to get some other things on his wish list.  With a rough economy taking a bite of the entertainment dollar in NBA cities across the land, Stern may be in good position to push through the two-year rule when the next bargaining session begins in 2011.  And who knows, with Myles Brand lobbying/blogging into his ear, college hoops may just end up better for this in the long run.

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07.06.09 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on July 6th, 2009

Hope everyone had a brilliant ID4…

  • Class of 2009. Evan Daniels of wrote an interesting piece on how wishy-washy the high school class of 2009 was before finally settling on a school. Six of the top ten players – John Wall, Xavier Henry, Lance Stephenson, Renardo Sidney, DeMarcus Cousins, Derrick Favors – had what Daniels terms an ‘interesting’ recruitment. Interesting in the sense that the propect took forever to decide on a destination, had eligibility concerns, switched up commitments, or all of the above. From our view, this is a predictable byproduct of the NBA’s 1-and-done rule, which is now impacting its fourth class of high school seniors. All of these above players are viewing one year in college as just another somewhat annoying hoop to jump through – an unavoidable pit stop on their way to riches in the League. When seen through that prism, there’s little emotional investment in the process of choosing a college (in fact, choosing a coach is infinitely more important) and the concomitant worries about staying eligible for that one season become mitigated by all the shady characters and hangers-on offering nickels now for promises later. There’s no easy fix for this problem and as we showed last week, 1-and-dones generally help programs more than they hurt, but the NBA requiring two years after high school could help players take more ownership over this process simply because they’d be forced to care more.
  • 2009-10 Scheduling.  The Big East announced its completely unbalanced schedule last week, and Andy Katz believes that Villanova and UConn have the toughest two slates, with each having all three ‘home-and-homes’ with other contenders (at least, on paper).  What’s interesting in going down this list is just how far off the talent level has fallen in this conference since last season – it’s phenomenal, really.  Moving on…  the Jimmy V Classic is going for slow and methodical this year, with its recent announcement that Butler v. Georgetown and Pitt v. Indiana will be the schools represented.  Pitt should easily desecrate IU, but we’d look for Butler-Gtown to be a very good game.  And if you browse to the bottom of this blog post by Katz, you’ll see a good analysis of the various preseason tournaments as they currently stand.  We’d have to agree that the Maui Invitational seems very weak compared to its norm, but the 76 Classic for the second year in a row is strong. 
  • Top Rivalries.  Pat Forde took an old-fashioned beating for his article last week outlining what he thinks are the ten hottest hoops rivalries heading into next season.  To recap, Kentucky-Louisville was #1, Michigan St.-Purdue was #2 (???), Kentucky-Tennessee was #3, and UNC-Duke was #4.  Something seems amiss here.  We think we understand his premise that these are the projected top rivalries for the upcoming season, but maybe what he should have said was ‘games.’  For a rivalry to exist, there needs to be historical gravitas behind it – countless incidents, slights, fights, etc., that give each school a bitter taste in its mouth for the other.  Do Michigan St. fans have such negative feelings about Purdue?  Villanova and Pitt?  Instead, Forde seems to rely considerably on coaching rivalries in making this list – Calipari vs. Pitino; Calipari vs. Pearl; Ford vs. Capel; Montgomery vs. his old school.  This is an interesting way to categorize school rivalries, but he probably should have been a little clearer about that; otherwise, it’s difficult to swallow some of his inclusions without question.  Syracuse-UConn? Maryland-Duke?  And many more…  
  • Some Quick Hits.  Duke: playing zone next season?  Jay Wright: loving life at VillanovaClass of 2009 (again): mapping the top 25Dave Rose: a harrowing month of JuneClass of 2010: time for the July scouting period.  AAU Ball: shocking lack of fundamentals (um, thanks for the investigative journalism, WSJ). July Recruiting Period: Gary Parrish’s FAQ.
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Budding Star in New Zealand: Rutgers’ Mike Rosario

Posted by rtmsf on July 6th, 2009

We’ve been keeping a lazy eye on Team USA’s performance at the Under-19 World Championships in Auckland, New Zealand, this week, and so far, so good.  It’s a nice opportunity to see how some of our better young collegians perform at the international level, in addition to allowing us to evaluate some names to keep an eye on next season.  Several of Team USA’s players – Howard Thompkins from Georgia, Ashton Gibbs from Pitt, Gordon Hayward and Shelvin Mack from Butler, Seth Curry from Duke, Tyshawn Taylor from Kansas – are known commodities for the average RTC reader, but they haven’t yet gotten the national recognition they’ll receive as they take greater roles on their teams next season (except Curry, of course, who will sit out his transfer year at Duke). 
Learn These Names and Faces for 2009-10

Learn These Names and Faces for 2009-10

As it stands, the Under-19 lads are 4-0 with blowout wins over Iran, France, Egypt and Greece thus far.  Georgia’s 6’9 Howard Thompkins has been a beast on the blocks, averaging 13/5 on 64% shooting in just under 15 mpg, including a 22-pt outburst against the Greeks.  Butler’s Hayward has also been impressive, contributing 10/5 with a well-rounded number of assists, steals and blocks while he’s been on the floor.  In the backcourt, Gibbs, Curry and Mack have logged the most minutes, each adding timely scoring and floor leadership to the team despite not shooting the ball all that well (Gibbs excluded).  The Americans have yet to be tested, and will likely have to wait until its Wednesday game against Lithuania to face some serious competition. 

mike rosario 2

Tuesday, however, presents an interesting storyline in that Team USA will face Puerto Rico and the hottest player in the tournament, Rutgers guard and rising sophomore Mike Rosario.  Rosario, a gifted scorer who averaged 16 ppg in college last season, exploded for 54 points in his most recent game against France, scoring 17 in the final quarter as he led his team to a come-from-behind victory, 90-89.  He’s leading the tournament with a 31.8 ppg scoring average, and is shooting a lights-0ut 51% from the field.  It will be interesting to see how Team USA defends him, and whether Rosario will be able to get the same looks he’s gotten throughout this tournament.  His success in New Zealand comes on the heels of a successful trip to France where Puerto Rico finished second in the World Juniors Tournament there and Rosario was named to the all-tournament team.  At Rutgers, Rosario tended to have a gunner’s mentality last season, often shooting his team out of Big East games as quickly as into them, but if his summer shooting percentages are any indication of improved shot selection, head coach Fred Hill has a budding star on his hands in Piscataway. 

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Buzz: Sean Kearney to Take Over at Holy Cross

Posted by rtmsf on July 2nd, 2009

Holy Cross is set to announce its replacement for Ralph Willard today, naming Sean Kearney, a current assistant coach on Mike Brey’s Notre Dame staff, as the new head coach at the school.  Willard left his highly successful post there in June to become an assistant for Rick Pitino’s Louisville squad, and he’ll be replaced by, in an odd coincidence, another former Pitino assistant (Providence ’87).  Kearney will find that the cupboard at the premier job in the Patriot League is far from bare, as four starters return for a team expected to compete for a conference title next season.  Seems like a good hire, as Mike Brey said, for Kearney to go from a private, academically-oriented Catholic school like ND to another like HC makes sense and is a “good fit.”

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07.01.09 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on July 1st, 2009

Already halfway through the calendar, which means that we’re almost equally distant from Midnight Madness as we are from last Selection Sunday…

  • Rumors Be Damned.  In case you missed it, the rumor mill has been flaring up considerably this week.  Lance Stephenson to CincinnaticonfirmedXavier Henry and brother CJ to KentuckydeniedCoach K to the Lakers – not a chance.  RTC to Vansterdam – pending.  The rumor that had us vexed was the Henrys leaving KU story.  When your father is going on talk radio shows and spouting off about his kids’ unhappiness and unwillingness to stay in a particular place (Kansas), that’s usually pretty convincing evidence that something is afoot.  Turns out, though, that Carl Henry is just a smidge on the aft side of crazy athlete-dads, and he came off as a real sh*t-stirrer in follow-up radio interviews he gave earlier this week.  If Bill Self can manage to get the Henrys to sacrifice self for team, that’ll be a really impressive accomplishment, it appears.
  • All Games Are Presumed Equal.  Even though some are more equal than others.  Um, ok.  The NCAA revised its Tournament criteria to remove the “last 12” record analysis (which used to be “last 10”) because the selection committee found it confusing to give more value to games played later in the season over games earlier in the season.  In other words, every game is now supposed to count equally in their analysis.  The conventional wisdom is that this is a good thing, but we’re uncertain.  Think about it: all else being equal, would you want a team that started 15-1 but finished 4-8 getting into the Dance over a team that started 9-7, but finished 10-2?  We think that there needs to be some reward for finishing strong.  Basketball is a tournament sport, and teams are built to be working on all cylinders by the time tournament season rolls around, not in November and December.  Our general feeling is that committee members will still reward strong closers over strong starters, but it just won’t be officially sanctioned.  Let’s hope they do, at least.   
  • Bruins Pony Up.  In what’s becoming a national trend in both football and basketball, schools are holding their long-time season ticket holders hostage by requiring enormous donations to reserve the best seats at their venues.  We recently read about this occurring as Cal upgrades its football stadium, and now UCLA is requiring up to a half-million dollars worth of largesse to get the choicest seats courtside at the new and improved Pauley Pavilion (set to re-open in 2012).  Schools can obviously do whatever they want with the seats in their stadiums, but it seems absurd that a family that has held on to seats for generations but may not have hundreds of thousands of dollars lying around won’t be able to keep them.   
  • 2010 Mock Drafts.  Here’s a version from Jeff Goodman,, DraftExpress, and Draft Depot.  Everybody and their brother has Kentucky PG John Wall as the #1 guy right now. 
  • More Quick Hits.  Cameron Dollar: high hopes for fledgling Seattle U.  SEC Coaches: we don’t suckCraig Brackins: two national articles on the Iowa St. big man in the same week!  Ohio St. AD Gene Smith: will chair the 2010 and 2011 NCAA Tournament CmtesRenardo Sidney: NCAA eligibility meetings postponed to next weekGreivis Vasquez: sweeping the ACC titles next season.  UNC: University of Nike Carolina.  Coach K: of course he doesn’t like the one-and-done rule.  Of course he doesn’t.  Tom Brennan: first Whelliston, now Brennan.  ESPN is shedding all of its best CBB studio people, and that’s sad.
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