Morning Five: 05.27.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on May 27th, 2010

  1. A group in the Kansas athletic department has allegedly been bilking the university by an estimated $1-$3 million dollars in tickets to KU basketball and football games over the past half-decade as a result of a “blind spot” in the school’s auditing processes.  Over 17,000 basketball tickets and 2,000 football tickets were used in ways that included selling choice seats to brokers and offering freebies to neighbors.  This LA Times article about the two prominent SoCal ticket brokers who may have been involved in the scheme said other schools (unnamed) were also involved. Athletic Director Lew Perkins was not named in any of the allegations, but he is accepting responsibility for what transpired for happening on his watch.  It really hasn’t been a very good academic year in Lawrence, has it?
  2. The best part of this Gary Parrish article about loyalty (or lack thereof) among players and coaches?  John Brady and the word “coach” in the same sentence (three times).
  3. Big East consultant and former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue said yesterday that the conference is trying to be proactive with respect to dealing with expansion, if or when it comes to pass in the Big Ten.  He believes that the future success of the league ultimately will begin with the Big East’s long-standing relationship with ESPN.  We certainly don’t have the talent or experience to call his strategy into question, but at what point does ESPN reach saturation point with its multiple contracts with various leagues?
  4. We haven’t discussed the Ed O’Bannon ‘likeness’ case against the NCAA in a while, but it is moving forward in Oakland and some prognosticators say that several more big names will be joining the lawsuit soon.  Fanhouse asks if this case could end up becoming the NCAA’s Erin Brockovich, and they paint a compelling picture as to how it might come to pass.
  5. You know we love Vegas odds around here, so here are the very early lines you can get at as of now.  K-State, Georgetown, Missouri and Washington all look like good values.
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Ten Instant Impact Freshmen in 2010-11

Posted by zhayes9 on May 26th, 2010

Zach Hayes is a regular RTC writer and resident bracketologist.

Last week on, esteemed analyst Doug Gottlieb highlighted ten (ended up being 11) freshmen for the 2010-11 season that will make a definable impact on college basketball. These players have been hyped on the AAU circuit, involved in serious recruiting battles and now finally have the opportunity to make their mark on the college game starting in November. Gottlieb broke down the skills of Harrison Barnes (North Carolina), Cameron Clark (Oklahoma), Allen Crabbe (California), Tobias Harris (Tennessee), Kyrie Irving (Duke), Perry Jones (Baylor), Brandon Knight (Kentucky), Renardo Sidney (Mississippi State), Jared Sullinger (Ohio State), Tristan Thompson (Texas) and Dion Waiters (Syracuse). Still, there are plenty of other talented incoming rookies that will drastically alter the course of the upcoming campaign. Here’s ten more highly touted freshmen to look out for next season:

Enes Kanter/ KK Cedevita

Enes Kanter (Kentucky)- Kanter won’t be as productive a player per 40 minutes as his post predecessor DeMarcus Cousins, but he does have the skill level to develop into a formidable replacement. Should Kanter be deemed eligible to play immediately, the 6’9 Turkish center will start immediately alongside Terrence Jones on John Calipari’s frontline. Kanter has a tremendous feel for the game and an array of advanced post moves. Kanter can also face up and opposing defenders must respect his capable mid-range jumper to about 17-19 feet. While no Kentucky center will be matching the rebounding production of Cousins any time soon, Kanter can absolutely hold his own on the glass.

Josh Selby (Kansas)- Selby and Kentucky commit Brandon Knight will distribute to an array of talented teammates next season, but the two phenoms are also gifted scorers who can post 30 points on any given night. Selby is a physical guard that invites contact and often beats defenders with a variety of advanced moves for his age. Expect to see Selby penetrate often with the idea of kicking to an open Tyrell Reed or Brady Morningstar on more than one occasion in 2010-11. Selby has outstanding shooting range himself and loves to pull up in transition. You won’t find a tougher guard in this year’s class.

C.J. Leslie (NC State)- There are few players in this year’s freshman class that have the ceiling of C.J. Leslie. NC State head coach Sidney Lowe capped off a wildly impressive recruiting campaign when the ultra-athletic Leslie opted to stay home rather than play in the bluegrass of Kentucky. Leslie reminds scouts of Amare Stoudemire because of his ability to face up and hit a mid-range jumper, yet also possesses the capability to overpower defenders for a finish at the rim. His rebounding and shot-blocking skills are off the charts, but the consistent effort in those areas have come into question.

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Morning Five: 05.26.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on May 26th, 2010

  1. Vegas Watch aggregates seven pre-preseason top 25s, including yours truly’s.  Duke is a clear #1, but Michigan State at #2 and a lot of teams with serious question marks (K-State, Villanova, Pitt, Gonzaga) populate the rest of the top ten.  We had Butler (#8) and Georgetown (#10) in our top ten, but few others did.  Thanks for doing this, VW.
  2. More transfer news — a while back we suggested that the Wear Twins (David and Travis) would end up at UCLA, and that was confirmed yesterday with the announcement that the SoCal-raised pair will be heading to Westwood.  They’ll have three years of eligibility remaining, beginning in the 2011-12 season.  All we want to know is where was Stanford on this one (remember the Collins and Lopez twins)?  Meanwhile, UNC filled one of their open inside positions with Alabama transfer Justin Knox, who has already graduated and will be eligible to play next season for Roy Williams.  This is a substantial coup for UNC in that they were facing a season with few experienced bigs (only the rail-thin John Henson and Tyler Zeller return inside), and this addition will help bridge the gap until Williams can bring in some help.
  3. Finishing in the top four spots of the Big East regular season will not hold as much meaning as it did the last two years, as conference officials yesterday voted to do away with the double-bye system in the Big East Tournament.  In the new format, MSG’s Tuesday and Wednesday sessions will feature first round games using a traditional 1/16, 2/15, etc., format.  For some reason, we’re less excited about this change.
  4. Gregg Doyel thinks that Oklahoma basketball might deserve the death penalty, but taking his typically grumpy stance (we love it, btw), he doesn’t think that much of anything will come to pass.
  5. Duke’s national championship team has plans to visit the White House tomorrow.  No word on whether Coach K will give President Obama some beef over picking against his Devils in the regionals.
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Crazy Talk: The ACC Should Focus Expansion on Basketball, Not Football

Posted by rtmsf on May 25th, 2010

Gerry Floyd is a longtime ACC fan and guest poster who feels strongly that the conference needs to get back to its roots in the next wave of expansion mania. 

With the seemingly constant banter about the Big 10’s imminent conference expansion, Atlantic Coast Conference commissioner John Swofford has said that he will not be `the aggressor’ during a summer in which potential moves will forever change the landscape of college athletics.  This is a big mistake.  Swofford needs to step up and take expansion by the horns.  With the potential of conference realignment looming from coast to coast, it only makes sense for the ACC to be proactive with these changes.  But instead of letting football dollars guide the decision-making, Swofford has a golden opportunity to come at the inevitable from a different perspective and instead alter the college basketball landscape for the better.

Commissioner Swofford Should Be Proactive Here

It is understandable that the driving force behind every conference expansion is football, and rightfully so.  College football brings in huge amounts of revenue that are not only used for athletic purposes but also for academic research opportunities at those universities.  This is very important for every ACC member institution and it makes sense that they should try to harness as much revenue as they can so their institutions can flourish.  But instead of focusing on expanding (or not expanding) for college football why not take a different approach to the usual football expansion?  To do this, the ACC must step back and take a look at the ACC’s overall product.  The conference’s primary business advantage over every other conference in America is its rich basketball tradition that includes a high level of competitiveness, passionate basketball fanbases and a strong presence in the national media regarding the sport.  Ask anyone in California or Michigan the first thing they think of when hearing “ACC,” and the immediate response will be “basketball.”   Therefore, instead of scouring for leftover football revenue in an oversaturated football market, the ACC should stay true to its roots and take a stranglehold on the college basketball market.

Every conference wants to be considered foremost a ‘football conference’ because of the amount of money that the sport brings in, and the expansion of the ACC in 2003 to include Boston College, Virginia Tech and Miami (FL) was a brilliant maneuver that brought the ACC a football conference championship and all the revenue that goes with it.  But the truth is the ACC is in its best year the fourth or fifth strongest BCS football conference in America and expansion isn’t likely to change that fact (the Big Ten, SEC and Big 12/Pac-10 hybrids would likely get stronger).  Since 2003, the league has only won one of its BCS bowls (Virginia Tech over Cincinnati in 2008), and the last four BCS bowls with the lowest television ratings all featured an ACC team.   On the other hand, in the seven years since expansion the ACC has had three national basketball championships and six Final Four appearances.  Business as usual on the hardwood.

The ACC has long represented the essence of college basketball; it is the conference filled with thoroughbred athletes and teams that every other league still measures itself by annually.  But since the latest football expansion the league has lost some of that advantage.  The ACC Tournament was once the “hottest ticket” in the country, but now the tournament is just another ticket before the NCAA Tournament begins a week later.  This could be due to Duke’s tournament dominance over the past decade, or (more likely) the front office in Greensboro turning its back on the one sport that makes the ACC marketable.  The goal of the ACC should not be to pressure football into a basketball-rich conference but to expand on its quality attributes in college basketball.  Any expansion should be done to enhance the ACC’s overall television market, seeking to improve its college basketball image and competitiveness without losing any revenue or market share in college football.

See, There's a Divison Right There

Please understand that the next proposal is not suggesting that the ACC should expand before the Big 10, but the league should be open to expansion ideas and proactive in considering conference realignments.  By sitting back and waiting, the ACC as we know it runs the risk of either become irrelevant or extinct.  Assuming the Big Ten doesn’t, the ACC should therefore extend invitations to West Virginia, Syracuse, Connecticut and Pittsburgh (Louisville would also be another viable candidate).  By adding these four teams the ACC will finally gain much of the New England television market that Boston College was unsuccessful in delivering.  With a sixteen-team league that stretches up and down the entire eastern seaboard (and the tens of millions of people living in that footprint), an opportunity would arise for the ACC to pursue a television network much like the Big Ten Network.  Most importantly from a brand perspective, this type of expansion would provide growth in the level of basketball competition while suffering little to no decline in football competition.

After expansion the sixteen institutions should be separated into two divisions (North & South) and four subdivisions (for example:  North Atlantic, North Coastal, South Atlantic, and South Coastal):

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Morning Five: 05.25.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on May 25th, 2010

  1. Some transfer news from the weekend…  Two of the bigger names in college basketball from a celebrity perspective are leaving their respective schools.  Guard Jeff Jordan (MJ’s son, in case you hadn’t heard) is leaving Illinois for his senior season a mere year after he quit the team and returned the first time.  We’re not sure what exactly the deal is with the somewhat indecisive Jordan, but the word is that he’s looking for more PT than the fourteen minutes per game he received last year for the Illini.  The other big transfer name belongs to Percy Miller, aka Lil Romeo, the hip-hop star who presumably sold a lot more albums than he scored points (5) in his two-year USC Trojan career.  The subject of one of RTC’s first-ever posts (#3 actually), it’s not clear whether he will try to continue playing college basketball elsewhere or give it up completely.
  2. Moving to players that actually matter at this level, former Washington guard Elston Turner will re-surface at Texas A&M beginning in 2011-12 and LSU star guard Bo Spencer will be ineligible for the fall semester next season as a result of academic problems.  Turner will have two years of eligibility in College Station, while Spencer will have an opportunity to return to his team next winter if he can get his books in order.
  3. The final notable piece of news with players leaving is that Florida’s Nimrod Tishman is leaving the Gator program after only one year in Gainesville.  He is returning to Israel to play professionally, causing mass lamentations throughout the SEC fanbases from Fayetteville to Columbia.
  4. Is the one-year renewable scholarship a bigger problem than we, or anyone, knows?  If you buy USA Today’s report that over 20% of athletes on the 65 NCAA teams leave the program in a given year, it just might be.  We’d never really given it much thought other than when a new coach comes into town and runs everyone off (see: Calipari, John), but maybe we should start paying attention to this a little more.
  5. We always thought something didn’t smell quite right with the universally-liked and respected Tyler Smith being caught with a firearm in a rental car on New Year’s Day.  Smith finally came out and said that he purchased the gun based on death threats that he was receiving about his three-year old son.  He didn’t go into details as to whom was making the threats or why they would be making them, but he’s now back in Tennessee after playing professionally in Turkey for a few months and waiting to see if his name is called next month in the NBA Draft.
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Holloway Heads Home To South Carolina And Rihanna

Posted by jstevrtc on May 21st, 2010

While he did indeed have a fine year for Mississippi last season, averaging 10.1 points and 7.6 boards a game, sophomore Murphy Holloway’s heart was elsewhere.

Having apparently contemplated a transfer as long ago as the beginning of last season, Holloway announced on Wednesday that he will transfer to South Carolina in order to be closer to his family — specifically, to a mother who has been ill, and his own 5-month-old daughter, Rihanna.

Holloway -- a happy man. (A. Hayworth/

Here’s the rub: Holloway will be paying his own way for at least one year at USC because Mississippi did not officially release him.  UM did approve some other, smaller schools as possible transfer destinations, but they denied his requests that he be able to transfer to either Clemson or South Carolina.  For a year, then, he’ll be paying his own way, or at least accumulating all the grant money and financial aid that he can, to that end.  He’ll also be living at home, which is not even a half-hour away from the campus in Columbia — which was pretty much the point of transferring.  He plans on applying to the NCAA for hardship consideration so he can be immediately eligible, but it looks like he’ll almost certainly have to sit out the 2010-11 season.

We know the Rebels are taking an APR hit because of the transfer, but the UM athletics department doesn’t exactly come away from this looking too good.  If they had “approved” of a transfer to USC, Holloway would have been eligible for a scholarship and wouldn’t have to pay to go to college during his sit-out season, and his hardship request would have a slightly better chance of being approved by the NCAA.  Since he’s leaving the Ole Miss campus anyway, why punish the guy?

Further expanding on his motives — not that he needs to do so — Holloway told Charleston’s Post and Courier, “You really don’t know what love is until you have a child, especially a little girl…you’ve got someone to care about besides just yourself.”

Interestingly, because he would not have been allowed to have contact with any USC coaches while he was playing for Mississippi, Holloway in theory doesn’t know what kind of interest the Gamecock program even has for him.  USC did not offer him a scholarship out of high school. Speaking about that, he told the Post and Courier that he wants “to be a beast on the boards,” and added, “I hope I’m welcome.”  Those 7.6 rebounds per game were good enough to be fifth in the SEC, so we’re pretty sure the Gamecocks will show him some love.

But we’re betting that the biggest and most meaningful welcome will come from a little 5-month-old girl named after a pop star.

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Morning Five: 05.21.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on May 21st, 2010

  1. The NCAA is discussing the highly-anticipated question as to how to structure the new 68-team NCAA Tournament, and specifically, the four play-in games.  We’ve written extensively about the options on the table (and preferences), but in reading yesterday that there are three possibilities — slotting the last eight auto-bids, the last eight at-larges, or a hybrid of the two (interesting…) — we’re happy that they’re considering the right questions.  In reading the tea leaves, it’s apparent that they are concerned about the same low-RPI leagues ending up in the four PiGs every year, but a proposed “rotation system” seems very contrived.  Does a SWAC team get a bye into the first round as a #15 seed regardless of resume if they’re in the PiG three straight years?  And what of this hybrid option — how would that look?
  2. Was the Class of 2007 one of the greatest high school classes of all-time?  It’s difficult to make that statement just three years out, but so far, as this Basketball Prospectus piece shows, the star power of that class (Love, Mayo, Beasley, Gordon, Griffin, etc.) leaves most other classes in the dust.
  3. Alabama’s Justin Knox will transfer to either Georgia Tech or UNC after the Tide program refused to grant him a waiver so that he could go to UAB, his top choice.  Knox states that he believes the transfer will help his goal of reaching the NBA, but if that’s true, we’re not really sure what he would have been able to get in Birmingham that he couldn’t get in Tuscaloosa.  Or what he thinks he can get in the ACC that he couldn’t get in the SEC.  The whole thing is just very strange, and Alabama fans are convinced that UAB was recruiting him while he was still a member of the Tide program.
  4. With the signing deadline passed this week, here’s your top 25 recruiting classes for 2010.  Kentucky is obviously #1 and Memphis #2 with loads of talent coming in at every position, but the ACC (four of the top ten) and Big Ten (four of the top fifteen) appear to be the leagues with the strongest influx of talent arriving.  In a related piece, Luke Winn lists his top ten developments of the spring recruiting period this year.
  5. Speaking of Memphis, guard Roburt Sallie is leaving the program to transfer to a school closer to his hometown of Sacramento, California, or to pursue professional opportunities overseas.  He is due to receive his degree in August, and if he does so, he will not have to sit out the transfer year and will therefore be eligible to play college basketball in 2010-11.  Mike Montgomery on line two.
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Kentucky’s Recruiting Bonanza Continues With Terrence Jones

Posted by jstevrtc on May 19th, 2010

Our long national nightmare is over.

Moments ago, Terrence Jones committed to Kentucky.  This gives John Calipari the following clowder of freshman for 2010-11, with ESPN-U 100 and rankings, respectively:

  • Brandon Knight (4/6)
  • Terrence Jones (8/9)
  • Enes Kanter (3/25)
  • Doron Lamb (28/29)
  • Stacey Poole (51/67)

Former Florida big man Eloy Vargas — who was ranked with four stars at #33 on Scout’s 2008 list of top recruits — will also be joining the group, giving Calipari even more depth in the paint.  Vargas played at Miami Dade College last season, averaging 21.1 PPG and 14.1 RPG as well as swatting three blocks per game.  The addition of Jones tonight means it’s the second straight year Kentucky has had the best recruiting class in the nation.

Jones screams it out loud -- he's a Cat. (F.D. Joe/The Oregonian)

There will be a lot of people continuing to take jabs at Jones over the next week or so because he waited until the last day of the signing period to make his decision.  True, this whole process could have been handled a little better by the young man.  But as we’ve said before, it was more important that Jones make a college choice about which he was confident rather than stick with a hasty decision made just because it was announcement-party day.  Also, if the deadline for signing a letter of intent is May 19th, what’s wrong with a kid waiting until…May 19th?

The only perplexing aspect of this is that Jones signed financial aid papers, not a letter of intent.  We understand not signing the LOI, but if he didn’t plan to sign one, why make the 19th your decision day?  Jones could have taken longer if he’d wanted.  Not signing the LOI renders the May 19th deadline moot.  We speculate that if Terrence had decided to stick with Washington, he probably would have signed a LOI, since there’s no chance of Lorenzo Romar up and leaving for the NBA.  It doesn’t look like there’s cause for concern about Calipari heading back to the NBA before next season, but with all the talk still hovering about that possibility, Jones is smart to play it safe by eschewing the LOI.

At any rate, it’s over.  The Kentucky coaching staff can rest well knowing that this is where Jones wants to be, because he took the extra time to consider his decision.  If he’d have chosen Washington, we’d be saying the same thing.  Of course, this certainly makes next season’s Maui Invitational that much more interesting.  Both Kentucky and Washington will be there.  Jones isn’t the only presumptive Wildcat to put a pump-fake on UW — the aforementioned Enes Kanter pulled a similar move earlier this year.  If the bracket-makers can engineer a matchup between those two schools, you better believe they will.  And more importantly, given the man’s recruiting prowess, we wonder if Coach Cal would have time to be our wingman for an hour or so in a couple of those Maui hotel lobbies…

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Dominos Falling Into Place: ACC Signs Television Deal With ESPN

Posted by rtmsf on May 19th, 2010

Andrew Murawa is the RTC correspondent for the Mountain West and Pac-10 conferences and an occasional contributor.

Although not official yet, it has been reported that ESPN and the ACC have come to an agreement on a new TV deal, with ESPN reportedly outbidding FoxSportsNet to the tune of $1.86 billion over twelve years for exclusive rights to ACC football and basketball. The new deal for the ACC will more than double their previous television revenues from their contracts with Raycom and ESPN; the previous ACC deal was for about $67 million per season, while the new deal will bring the ACC about $155 million per season.

The size of the new contract is seen as a major victory for the ACC, and is rumored to be the result of a bidding war between ESPN and Fox. However, Fox did not get a chance to match ESPN’s final offer because the ACC found ESPN’s brand to be too attractive to lose out on should ESPN drop out of the bidding. As for Raycom, they are expected to continue broadcasting some ACC games, which they will buy from ESPN (much like ESPN bought the rights to individual games from Raycom in the past), but the ACC Tournament will likely be exclusive to ESPN in the future.  An interesting side note of the new TV deal: Jim Young of reports that there will be a new name for the league’s syndication package with Raycom: the ACC Network. However, for now this will not be a business venture similar to the remarkably successful Big Ten Network, rather just the regional syndication of games shown on Raycom.

As no official announcement has been made by either party, there are likely continuing negotiations on the fine print, and plenty of questions remain. With rumors swirling about ACC teams perhaps jumping to one conference or another (Maryland and Virginia are among the most recently rumored schools that the Big Ten is interested in, while schools like Clemson, Florida State, Georgia Tech and Miami have been mentioned in conjuction with possible SEC expansion), there will potentially be binding clauses in the contract allowing ESPN buyout options should the makeup of the conference change during the lifetime of the deal. There are also questions as to when and where ESPN will televise games and the fate of things like FSN’s ACC Sunday Night Hoops feature. It is possible that Fox will continue to purchase games from ESPN for broadcast on their networks. Once a final announcement is delivered, hopefully we’ll get answers to these things.

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Morning Five: 05.19.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on May 19th, 2010

  1. Providence has booted its star forward, Jamine “Greedy” Peterson, off the team for undisclosed violations of team rules that involved underage AAU players visiting the campus in April.  Whatever he did, PC officials mince no words in stating that kicking him out was the only option (“it wasn’t working here” and “no” was  the answer as to whether the decision was a tough call).  Peterson blew up last season, going from averages of 5/3 in ten minutes per game his freshman season to 20/10 in thirty minutes per game last year.  The all-Big East honorable mention forward was poised to become one of the top players in the conference next year, but will likely look into foreign opportunities rather than sitting out as a transfer in 2010-11.
  2. From the looks of these photos, the UNC freshman class of 2009-10 seemed to generally be ok with their NIT season.  Maybe all the sun and fun inspired the Wear twins to move back to the west coast (h/t Deadspin)?
  3. Your Big Ten expansion news of the day shows that Commisioner Jim Delany hasn’t changed his timeline for a decision no matter how much we pundits would like for him to do so, and appears to be carefully choosing his words when discussing options.  The only real criteria he regularly refers to is membership in the AAU, which is not the same organization that is currently destroying amateur basketball in the US.  Rather, the AAU Delany refers to stands for Association of American Universities, and there are 63 leading research universities in both the US and Canada as members.  While we don’t think Brandeis and Cal Tech are on the short list despite being AAU member institutions, several of the names we’ve heard bandied about are — Missouri, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, Nebraska and Syracuse.
  4. Will the Terrence Jones saga finally end today?  Washington or Kentucky — Kentucky or Washington?  His high school coach believes that Jones will follow through on his verbal commitment from three weeks ago by signing with the Huskies today.
  5. Despite merely a 10% chance at winning the top pick in last night’s NBA Draft lottery, the Washington Wizards won the (presumably) John Wall sweepstakes.  With Agent Zero set to return from suspension next season, GM Ernie Grunfeld would not commit to the choice yet, but regardless of the decision, DC-area fans have to be feeling very good this morning, especially since there’s no Kwame Brown available.  Wall, to his credit, seemed very excited at the prospect of moving to the District next year.
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