Morning Five: 08.24.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on August 24th, 2010

  1. College athletic departments are not immune to the economic downturn either, as the NCAA reported that only fourteen of the 120 FCS (I-AA) schools turned a profit in the 2008-09 fiscal year.  Specific names were not released, but some of the usual suspects were confirmed by Transylvania University accounting professor Dan Fulks, who performed the research – Texas, Ohio State, Alabama, Florida and Tennessee.   Slightly more than half of the I-AA schools made money in both football and basketball, but the range between the two was quite a bit larger at the big football powerhouses.  It goes to show just how important these two cash cows are for athletic departments, though, as so few are actually turning a profit due to subsidizing the other sports.
  2. LSU guard Bo Spencer did not meet the school’s academic requirements, so the two-year starter who averaged 15/3/3 APG last season was dismissed from Trent Johnson’s program and will transfer to Nebraska as a walk-on, eligible to play in the 2011-12 campaign.  Yes, you read that correctly — he was unable to make the grade at LSU.   Regardless, Nebraska head coach Doc Sadler said that Spencer is not guaranteed a scholarship even for the year that he plays.  As an interesting side note, Spencer will sit the bench watching his teammates play Big 12 teams next year, but he will be playing Big Ten teams in his senior season after Nebraska changes conference affiliation.
  3. Hey, we enjoy college football as much as the next guy — if you’re a fan of college sports, how can you not?  But this is also the time of year when all the holier-than-thous come out of the woodwork (when every team is 0-0 and therefore still eligible for the national title game, unless your name is Utah, Boise State or TCU…) to tell us about the beauty and sanctity of the CFB regular season.  To that we say: get over yourselves.  If the entire regular season is a ‘playoff,’ then when teams lose one (and most definitely, two) game(s), we don’t want to hear about said team any more this season.  Of course, the hype machine doesn’t work that way (how many Notre Dame games in the last decade have been relevant?  One?), which goes to show that the entire argument is built on a house of cards anyway.
  4. Texas guard Varez Ward is leaving the Longhorn program and his likely destination, according to the Dallas Morning News, is Auburn.  Ward is supposedly moving closer to his Montgomery, Alabama, home to be closer to his mother who suffers from a heart condition.  Ward, as you recall, blew out his knee early last season in a bizarre incident in the layup line at the CBE Classic.  He was expected to have been a significant contributor last year, so even with super-frosh Cory Joseph in the fold, this is a definite blow to Rick Barnes’ backcourt depth, as described in detail over at Burnt Orange Nation.  Ward received a medical redshirt for last season, so he’ll have three years of eligibility left when he joins Tony Barbee’s club next year.
  5. The long national nightmare is over in Minneapolis, as Trevor Mbakwe finally suited up as a Gopher after a year in limbo as a result of his felony assault charge in Miami.  As we mentioned ten days ago, Mbakwe entered a diversionary program that will allow him to work off the charge through community service.  He expects to have that completed prior to Minnesota’s first regular season game in early November.  The Gophers are practicing this week in preparation for a trip to Canada during Labor Day weekend, and Mbakwe’s size and strength inside — he hopes to lead the conference in rebounding — should help Tubby Smith’s team reach its goals for another trip to the NCAA Tournament and a finish in the top half of the Big Ten.  Below is an interview he did yesterday showing how excited he is to finally get to lace them up…

Share this story

Miss Chriqui, Stanford’s Andy Brown Deserves You

Posted by jstevrtc on August 23rd, 2010

If we read tomorrow that Stanford forward Andy Brown bought a winning lottery ticket, we wouldn’t be surprised.  Or maybe some other good fortune awaits him. Perhaps he’ll be discovered by Martin Scorcese during a drama class. Maybe he’ll bump into someone like Amy Adams or the girl who plays Sloan from Entourage at a Palo Alto coffee shop and they’ll find him irresistible.

You see, at some point soon, Andy Brown’s luck has to change. When it does, we hope we’re standing right next to him.

We read over the weekend that Brown will miss the 2010-11 basketball season because of a torn ACL in his left knee. Before you refresh the page, we’ll tell you that this is not a recycled story from last year. He tore that same ligament in that same knee on the first day of practice last season, forcing him to take a medical redshirt for 2009-10.  What’s more, he suffered the same injury back in January 2009 as a high school senior. That’s three left ACL tears in 20 months.

Someday, Andy...someday.

Setting aside for a moment the obvious physical toll this takes on a person, consider the mental aspect, and the pattern of these injuries. Brown injured his left knee as a senior in high school, ending his prep career early — not exactly something easy for an 18-year old kid to deal with. Then, after surgery, rehab, and getting himself over the mental hurdles inherent in resuming any physical activity — let alone that of a major Division I college basketball player — the moment he’s waited for arrives, the first day of practice as a member of the Cardinal. Boom, he re-tears the ACL, the whole season lost.  Another surgery. More rehab. Most people at that point would be afraid to move their entire leg at all, but Brown somehow found the guts to get back out on the court on a twice-repaired knee. And how is Brown rewarded for his courage? A third tear in the same knee during a pick-up game a few days ago.  Again, season lost. More surgery. More rehab.

Brown has to be wondering if his left anterior cruciate ligament was, in fact, the inspiration for the Elijah Price character in M. Night Shyamalan’s Unbreakable. If Brown recovers and eventually makes it out onto the floor for the Cardinal in 2011-2012, given what he’s had to endure, it would be nothing short of heroic. We hope it happens, Andy. We’re all rooting for you. In the meantime, we’d suggest playing the California Lottery and hanging out in coffee shops.

Share this story

Revisiting Mark Emmert’s Baseball Model Quote

Posted by rtmsf on August 23rd, 2010

Last week we wrote a piece outlining the reasons behind our opinion that NCAA President-Elect Mark Emmert had made a mistake in publicly supporting the MLB model of amateur player draft eligibility.  Emmert stated on a local radio show in Seattle that he believes that the NCAA should work with the NBA to enact a model mimicking baseball whereby high school players could choose to go pro immediately after their senior year, but those who went to college would have to remain there for three years.  As we clearly stated at the time, all of this discussion from the perspective of the NCAA is merely for the sake of argument because the NBA is going to do what the NBA thinks is best for itself, and if that means requiring one, two or fifteen years of “experience” out of high school before player entry, so be it.  The NCAA is virtually powerless in this regard.

Emmert's Top Job is to Protect This Brand

Nevertheless, taking the position that it is the mandate and duty of the NCAA President to act in the best interests of his organization, we outlined a number of reasons why Emmert is mistaken with the baseball solution.  Without delving into all of them again, the basic gist is that NCAA basketball needs marketable stars to support and enhance its product, recruiting will become even more difficult than it already is for coaches and schools, and players need the extra time to develop their games because so very few are actually ready to perform at a professional level immediately out of high school.   Response to this piece has been mixed.  Eamonn Brennan at ESPN.com seemed to understand the point we were making about Emmert and his role, but he expanded it to a more philosophical argument about whether forcing prospective NBAers into NCAA apprenticeships is “right.”   

Rush The Court is right to say that’s not in the best interest of college basketball fans, or coaches, or universities, all of whom benefit from the compulsory one-year apprenticeship currently being served by even the game’s most League-worthy talent. It’d be much better if all players had to stay for three years; we’d get John Wall for two more years! Awesome! Where do I sign? But that’s wrong. John Wall should be free to pursue his NBA career. He should have been free before he ever stepped foot on Kentucky’s campus. College, as they say, isn’t for everybody. In proposing a baseball-esque system for college hoops, Dr. Emmert did two things, both of them inadvertent: He made an argument against the well-being of college basketball, and for the professional freedom of college basketball’s prospective athletes. What it comes down to is: Which is more important?

We’ll answer.  From the perspective of Dr. Emmert as (soon-to-be) President of the NCAA and Supreme Chief Protector of the Game, the overall interests of the sport and its continued success trump the “right to work” component of a handful of high school basketball players each year.  His new job is to advocate for the NCAA as an entity, carefully weighing options to ultimately move the enterprise forward.  Since 96% of the NCAA’s operating budget comes from the NCAA Tournament (media rights + revenue), he needs to remember where his bread is buttered.  If he pushes for a baseball model that ultimately makes college basketball less interesting to casual fans and, therefore, the media, he’s not successfully performing his job.  This is a classic example of where academic arguments about what is right/wrong fail to properly mix with advocacy, and once again gives us pause about Emmert’s ivory tower worldview.

Webber Was Right: Elite College Athletes are Exploited

All that said, and as Kentucky blog A Sea of Blue expands upon, we certainly agree that the entire house of cards is exploitative from the player perspective.  Mitch Albom’s book Fab Five (People You Meet in Heaven) recounts a much-repeated incident where Michigan star Chris Webber found himself without enough money at the mall one day to purchase food.  As he walked by a sporting goods store and saw his own #4 UM jersey hanging in the window for sale, he became frustrated by the fact that seemingly everyone (Michigan, Steve Fisher, NCAA, Nike, etc.) other than himself was earning money as a result of his prodigious talents.  This anecdote seems humorous now in light of later findings that Webber took hundreds of thousands of dollars from agent Ed Martin during those years, but the story illustrates how one-sided the system remains, even nearly twenty years later.  Elite players are still generally no more than serfs for the one or two years they’re under the auspices of the NCAA (three years for football), contributing mightily to the billions of dollars of revenue they’re enabling while seeing very little in return.  This is unlikely to change. 

The larger point we’re trying to make here with respect to President-Elect Emmert is that it is not his job to suddenly make NCAA sports just, equitable and fair to the players whose talents are being exploited.  He will not be called upon to advocate for the Chris Webbers of the world because the Chris Webbers of the world didn’t put him in that position – rather, the college presidents did.  Therfore, his duty, much like the CEO of a major company, will be to protect the organization’s assets and push the enterprise forward so that in 2020, the NCAA can ask for two or three times as many billions of dollars in media licensing fees.  We’ve explained to him how he should go about getting there (hint: making things more like college baseball isn’t the answer); it’s up to him to decide whether to listen. 

Share this story

Recruiting Rumor Mill: 08.23.10 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on August 23rd, 2010

There were only a few commitments this week and none of the magnitude of Anthony Davis or Isaiah Austin, but many highly rated prospects are beginning to narrow down their lists, which means we should be getting even more news coming out about them in the next few weeks.

  • Arizona picked up a pair of commitments when it added Nick Johnson and Sidiki Johnson. Nick, a top 10 shooting guard, appears to be the star of the current Wildcat class, but Sean Miller is still out trying to fill up his class even after the sanctions the NCAA imposed upon the program.
  • One of Miller’s target recruits, Jahii Carson, a top 10 point guard, opted against joining the Johnsons in Tucson and instead joined Herb Sendek when he committed to Arizona State last week.
  • Staying in the southwestern part of the country, New Mexico State picked up a commitment from French-born Remi Barry who most recently went to high school in California. Barry will have to sit out a year as he didn’t qualify based on NCAA requirement, which is reportedly due to difficulty analyzing his academic transcript from two continents.
  • Heading back east, Ohio State picked up a commitment from LaQuinton Ross, a small forward who was rated very highly early in his high school career, but has slid down some ranking lists due to injury. If we were Ross, we would take it easy on the talk of trying to fill Evan Turner‘s shoes in Columbus.
  • Bernard Sullivan, a top 15 power forward, announced that he would be committing to Clemson after considering a variety of schools including Harvard, which technically cannot offer an athletic scholarship.
  • Myck Kabongo, the #2 rated point guard in this year’s class, has been hearing a lot of rumors that he was wavering on his prior commitment to Texas and decided he needed to put an end to that speculation by coming out and reaffirming his commitment to Rick Barnes and the Longhorns.

Still committed to the Longhorns

Share this story

Morning Five: 08.23.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on August 23rd, 2010

  1. Our correspondent Andrew Murawa put the Mountain West/WAC situation into understandable terms over the weekend, but we wanted to highlight one area of particular concern.  It certainly appears that BYU will now remain a member of the MWC, while the WAC’s Fresno State and Nevada will join up with its new league as soon as possible; but the real wildcard in all of this is Utah State.  If the Mountain West is able to recruit it’s twelfth school USU over to its side, that would leave the WAC with a mere five teams, less than the requisite six needed (for five consecutive years) to retain its automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.  The current mixture of automatic/at-large bids in the Big Dance exists at 31/37.  If the WAC implodes, another at-large team could be getting a bid as soon as the 2012 Tourney.  Somewhere in southwest Virginia Seth Greenberg just danced a jig.
  2. Jason King at Yahoo! Sports takes a look at one of the most unappreciated aspects of college basketball recruiting, the top assistant coaches who get the job done in the trenches so that the head coach can later take all the credit and glory of those hotshot players.  It should be no surprise to you that the names of assistants at Ohio State, Kentucky, Memphis, Texas, Kansas and Michigan State are all represented on this list.   What is odd is that nobody from Duke or UNC are here — perhaps Coach K and Roy Williams are simply all that is needed to get the job done at those schools.
  3. Chris Allen, the Michigan State guard who did not meet the standards required of him by head coach Tom Izzo, will re-surface at Iowa State in the 2011-12 season.  His decision to transfer to ISU over UTEP and St. John’s is a major boon for Fred Hoiberg’s rebuilding project in Ames.  Allen, a full-time starter on the 2009-10 Spartans, will bring a toughness and solid three-point stroke to the Cyclone program for his senior campaign.  Let’s hope, though, that whatever it was that put him in the doghouse in East Lansing will be left behind among the unused moving boxes.
  4. MaxPreps has released its post-summer top 100 recruits for the Class of 2011, and Michael Gilchrist (Elizabeth, NJ) remains at the top despite strong summers from several competitors.  Kentucky’s John Calipari has already received verbals from three of the top nine — Gilchrist, Anthony Davis (Chicago, IL), and Marquis Teague (Indianapolis, IN).  Interesting note: if you want to see great HS talent in person next season, the Commonwealth of Virginia, with nine players, is where you should be.
  5. This is a must-read every summer, as Luke Winn gives us his 2010-11 Breakout Five players.  He uses Pomeroy statistics to make educated determinations as to the players most likely to have impact sophomore campaigns, and his findings are worth the time.  The biggest surprise name on the list?  Miami (FL)’s Reggie Johnson.
Share this story

Making Sense of the Mountain West/WAC Debacle

Posted by rtmsf on August 21st, 2010

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

When last we left the BYU-instigated MWC/WAC soap opera, the Cougars’ plans to escape the MWC in favor of football independence and a WAC home for all other sports had been thwarted by Fresno State and Nevada’s decisions to leave the WAC for the MWC, leaving the six remaining WAC schools twisting in the wind and BYU, although still a desirable quanitity, undecided as to where it would wind up. In the days since, some of the details of the MWC-induced defections have surfaced, some new rumors have arisen and the futures of the WAC and BYU remain undecided. And so, a recap of the events and whispers of the last few days:

Our Money is on Thompson (left) In This One (Idaho Statesman)

  1. Thursday morning, WAC commissioner Karl Benson gave his first public comments on the Fresno State and Nevada decisions to leave the conference, and he promptly blasted them, saying that their decisions were “selfish acts” that left the conference’s future very much in doubt. He also clarified that Nevada president Milt Glick did not, in fact, sign the agreement that would have levied a $5 million penalty on the institution for leaving the conference, but did give a verbal agreement to the proposition, and Benson expects that the verbal agreement will be binding. Fresno State’s president John Welty, along with the presidents of the other six WAC institutions, signed the agreement. According to Benson, the two institutions will have to pay up within 60 days. Furthermore, because both schools missed the July 1 deadline for filing to leave the WAC, they will be expected to play the next two seasons in the conference before heading to the Mountain West.
  2. It also came out on Thursday that Utah State had also been invited to join the MWC, but had turned it down, partially due to the $5 million buyout and in part because they wanted to be in the same conference as BYU. Since then, it has been reported that Utah State is again in negotiations with the MWC about possible membership, and since Nevada and Fresno State have already left the WAC, the $5 million buyout penalty is no longer in effect. If Utah State winds up leaving the WAC, it will likely be the final nail in the coffin, as the WAC needs six members who have been together for five continuous years in order to retain its automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. If USU leaves, the WAC would be down to five teams, and it would be the next little domino that would push the remaining WAC schools to plan a different future.
  3. While Utah State looks to take care of itself, Hawai’i is contemplating its own future sans the WAC, and that future may include independence, football-wise. Given the difficult travel logistics in scheduling Hawai’i, they may be better off scheduling a combination of road guarantee-games, a handful of home-and-home series and several games at the ends of seasons welcoming BCS squads as sort of a pre-Bowl bowl game. For other sports, including basketball, Hawai’i is considering perhaps joining a conference like the WCC, although the attractiveness of adding such a geographic outlier to any smaller conference is very much in question.
  4. If, by some stroke of luck, the WAC is able to keep all six of its remaining institutions on board (and about the only reasonable selling point they have now is that they could split the $10 million that may be owed by Fresno State and Nevada among the remaining teams), the WAC is still looking at taking a huge step backwards. With very few desirable FBS football schools in the west as potential targets for the conference, among the schools being discussed as possible additions to the conference are names like Cal Poly, UC Davis, Sacramento State, Texas State and Texas-San Antonio, none of whom have been major factors in Division I men’s basketball.
  5. The biggest outstanding question in all of this mess is at BYU: after triggering this landslide, where exactly do they wind up? Commissioner Benson remains hopeful that BYU will still be coming to the WAC, but at this point that is little more than wishful thinking – there is absolutely no reason for BYU to take its non-football sports to that mess anymore. If football independence is still on the table, the only way that will happen is if BYU agrees to join the WCC for its non-football sports, however BYU has very little in common with the schools in that conference. While all of those WCC schools are religious schools, they are all also very small schools, but BYU has an enrollment of more than 30,000 students. In the end, while nothing is set in stone yet, MWC officials have become more and more confident over the past few days that BYU will wind up back in the MWC, at least until it comes up with a better plan a few years down the road.
  6. One interesting rumor that has been bandied about the past couple of days has been a potential MWC/Conference USA agreement to join forces in some as yet undetermined way. Among the possibilities discussed have been a full merger of the two leagues (23 teams), a combination of the most-desirable teams into something like a 20-team league, an alliance between the two leagues resulting in a championship game between the two conferences with the winner of that game earning a BCS bid, or simply a scheduling alliance between the two conferences. At this point, all of this is conjecture, but there was a “strategic” meeting between officials from both conferences on Thursday, although MWC commissioner Craig Thompson claimed that it was a previously planned meeting that had nothing to do with the events of the previous days.  This claim that should be taken with a grain of salt, given that Thompson also suggested this week that the invitations of Fresno State and Nevada to join the MWC had nothing to do with the rumors of BYU’s plans to leave for the WAC.

So, while there is plenty still to be sorted out here, we presently stand with a Mountain West Conference that looks like this (or at least will look like this in 2012): Air Force, Boise State, BYU, Colorado State, Fresno State, Nevada, New Mexico, San Diego State, TCU, UNLV and Wyoming, with the possibility that the addition of Utah State (bringing the conference to 12 teams) will create a very strong basketball conference of relatively like-minded institutions all reasonably well geographically suited to one another. The fact that the football side of the conference looks solid as well is just an ancillary bonus (at least to this basketball-minded blog). However, even if BYU slinks back to the MWC for a few additional years, they are still very much the squeaky wheel here, unsatisfied with their current crowd. While having their own dedicated cable network, The MTN, is a plus for the conference, there is still the feeling that relying solely on that channel, plus a handful of games on CBS College Sports Network and Versus, the conference is leaving money on the table. However, that television contract is going nowhere soon, as it runs through the 2015-16 season. At some point, BYU is going to find a more suitable partner for its plans, and when that happens, the MWC will be saying goodbye to BYU all over again, this time for good.

Share this story

Will Barton Declared Eligible

Posted by nvr1983 on August 20th, 2010

In a move that would make the SEC (the financial one) proud, the NCAA announced late this afternoon that Memphis recruit Will Barton had been cleared to play for the Tigers. This comes just two weeks after the same body declared Barton academically ineligible for the upcoming season after questioning his high school grades, a decision which Barton appealed. While we are happy for Barton, we can’t help but think that the person who had the second most at stake in this decision was second year Memphis coach Josh Pastner who had taken over for John Calipari following the latter’s decision to bolt for greener pastures at Kentucky. The latter left behind a mess of allegations involving Derrick Rose, resulting in the erasure of one of the greatest seasons ever (statistically); Pastner then had to deal with allegations against himself, as well, before being hit with the possibility that he might not have three of his players (Barton, Hippolyte Tsafack and Chris Crawford) eligible for this season.

The addition of Barton, a top 10 recruit in by almost any service (including our own Zach Hayes), will add a measure of scoring explosiveness that the Tigers have missed in the past two seasons following the departure of Rose and Chris Douglas-Roberts. Whether or not that scoring translates into more post-season success remains to be seen.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Morning Five: 08.20.10 Edition

Posted by jstevrtc on August 20th, 2010

  1. Looking for a kid to root for in two years (after a redshirt year)? Look no further than Jimmy McDonnell, now possessive of a spankin’ new basketball scholarship at Temple. Mike DeCourcy has a great summary of a young man who wasn’t even a college hoops prospect of any kind early in his high school hoops career, but became one through hard work and the help of a couple of coaches who saw something in him. He sounds like one of those first-to-arrive, last-to-leave kinds of players to us, and that’s something we can always get behind.
  2. It would be tough to root against Deandre Daniels, too, a top prospect in the 2011 class (ESPNU #28Rivals #10Scout #8 PF) who might reclassify into the 2010 class within the next 24 hours. Daniels missed a lot of school two years ago to help care for a grandfather stricken with cancer, got moved to the 2011 class, but has caught up with his original 2010 class through night classes and summer school. After decommitting from Texas for 2011, he’s got several scholly offers for this season, and Kentucky appears to have a head in front, which should surprise nobody anymore.
  3. Kansas lost a couple of players on Wednesday when C.J. Henry and Chase Buford both decided to put Lawrence in their rearview mirrors.  Buford averaged about two minutes a game over 11 appearances and decided that he wants his senior year of college to be that of a regular student. Henry, as you may recall, was a first-round draft pick of the Yankees back in 2005, received a $1.6 million bonus and had his tuition paid by the Yanks at Memphis. When brother Xavier committed to Kansas and John Calipari left for Kentucky, C.J. was released from his LOI and enrolled as a Jayhawk, redshirting his freshman year.  He’s out of baseball, and after averaging five minutes a game over 15 games last season for KU, he’s looking to continue his basketball career elsewhere.
  4. Jay Vincent, a former teammate of Magic’s on the ’79 Michigan State championship team and a nine-year NBA veteran, was indicted yesterday in an online employment scam. He and a partner were pinched for allegedly fronting a company that prepared people to inspect bank-foreclosed homes, asking applicants for money in advance for liability insurance and background checks. Turns out, no policies were bought, and no background checks were performed. The total take? Close to $2 million.
  5. After having jerseys retired in three sports in high school, Drew Shiller didn’t exactly see a college career filled with hip surgeries and long stretches on crutches and in physical therapy/rehab. After starting at San Francisco, he transferred to Stanford, but always felt limited because of his surgeries. He stuck with it, though, and in the process made two Pac-10 all-academic teams and just took his master’s degree from Stanford. Nice short profile by the San Jose Mercury News.
Share this story

2010-11 RTC Class Schedule: Baylor Bears

Posted by zhayes9 on August 19th, 2010

Zach Hayes is a editor, contributor and bracketologist at Rush the Court.  To see the entire group of 2010-11 Class Schedules, click here.

Continuing our Big 12 theme after a breakdown of Kansas and Texas, let’s dissect the Baylor Bears on their quest to accomplish what Butler did this April: play a Final Four in their home state.

Drew has led Baylor out of the Big 12 basement

Team Outlook: Baylor head coach Scott Drew lost two indispensable components to any successful college basketball team this summer with the graduation of senior point guard/assist machine Tweety Carter and interior defensive force Ekpe Udoh to the NBA Draft. Replacing the leadership and experience of Carter coupled with Udoh’s double-double tendencies in the post usually means a giant step back for a program that’s not considered a hoops powerhouse. Mass defections in the Big 12 help the cause, but expectations for 2010-11 are really not all that different from a season ago. It’s entirely possible blue chip freshman Perry Jones can equal or surpass the production of Udoh, and A.J. Walton showed enough glimpses of potential during his freshman year that the loss of Carter won’t sting so harshly. LaceDarius Dunn opting to return also helps plenty. Drew and this Baylor program have reached the point where reloading, rather than rebuilding, is the name of the game.

Non-Conference Schedule Rank (ranked 1 thru 10, 10 being the most difficult): 5.5. For a team trying to enter the upper echelon of the Big 12 on a consistent basis, it’s a tad surprising Drew didn’t opt to challenge Baylor more during the non-conference slate. Baylor’s schedule looks like a walk in the park relative to Kansas, Texas or Kansas State, but there are some frisky teams on the docket just prior to Big 12 competition. Baylor will participate in ESPN’s 24-Hour Hoops Marathon with a mid-afternoon tilt against a La Salle team not expected to contend in the Atlantic 10. Their assigned game in the Pac-10/Big 12 Hardwood Series is a home date with Arizona State, a squad projected to be near the bubble this season. In fact, the Bears don’t leave Texas until the Diamond Head Classic in Honolulu where they’ll face either Mississippi State or Washington State after likely dispatching of San Diego in the quarters. Either Butler or Florida State may wait for the final. The jewel of the non-conference schedule is a matchup with Gonzaga in Dallas on December 18.

Cupcake City: The frosting is a bit too heavy on Baylor’s cupcake for my liking. Drew loaded the slate with a plethora of teams the Bears should run over. These opponents include Grambling State, Jackson State, Lipscomb, Prairie View A&M and Bethune-Cookman prior to the Gonzaga meeting and Texas Southern and Morgan State just before Big 12 play, seven teams mired in the dregs of Division I. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the February 15 breather against Wayland Baptist. Was Texas Pan-American not available? NJIT? It’s one thing to throw in a handful of semi-talented mid-majors, but these are mostly teams in the MEAC and SWAC. I’m not sure how scheduling these games do Baylor, a team that returns a fair chunk of talent, any good. If anything, the committee will penalize the Bears come Selection Sunday with all of these wins against sub-300 RPI squads.

Toughest Early Season Test: The nationally televised clash with Gonzaga in Dallas (a doubleheader at the home of the Mavericks with Texas A&M taking on Arkansas in the undercard) is the prize of the early season portion of the schedule. Gonzaga returns four starters from a squad that won another WCC regular season title and is projected to finish in the top 20 this year. The Baylor frontline of Quincy Acy, Perry Jones and Anthony Jones should have a difficult time containing the Gonzaga attack of versatile threat Elias Harris and seven-footer Robert Sacre. The Zags also boast Steven Gray, a capable outside shooter that can stretch the Baylor defense and open space for Harris and Sacre to operate. Going up against Gonzaga in the non-conference is dangerous. They need these RPI-boosting victories playing in a conference that doesn’t provide many tests.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Morning Five: 08.19.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on August 19th, 2010

  1. A recent report by the AP determined that even though most states have laws on the books to prohibit unethical dealings between agents and athletes, enforcement in most places is almost nil.  Texas is the one state that seems serious about the problem, having taken disciplinary action against 31 agents in the last two years.  Twenty-four states, however, have yet to discipline a single agent in the decade since the Uniform Athletes Agent Act (UAAA) was passed in those jurisdictions.  We’d like to say that we’re surprised by this, but we’re not — local prosecutors are strapped enough in dealing with violent criminals and con artists to worry about the occasional dirty agent.  This is one reason why we’re pleasantly hopeful about the NCAA’s expansion of its basketball enforcement team.  It remains to be seen, though, if this will actually have an impact.
  2. Miami (FL) forward Adrian Thomas achieved the rarest of NCAA approvals yesterday, a sixth year of eligibility.  He suffered consecutive years of season-ending injuries in 2007 and 2008 after only four games each time, so the NCAA did the right thing here and will allow him to have a true senior campaign.  This is a pleasant occurrence for Frank Haith’s team, as Thomas is expected to be a key contributor again this season.  He averaged 7/3 and shot an ACC-best 42% from long range in 22 MPG last season.
  3. VCU head coach Shaka Smart received a two-year extension that will keep him at the school through the 2015-16 season.  Smart, one of the nation’s youngest head coaches (he’s 33), took the Rams to a 27-9 record and the championship of the CBI in his first season at the helm.  It helps to have had a first-rounder in Larry Sanders anchoring the post, but most everyone believes that Smart, an all-USA Today academic team award winner in 1999, will continue to live up to his name.
  4. UNC received some surprising recruiting news earlier this week when Jackson Simmons, a 6’7 forward from Sylva, NC, in the class of 2011, turned down scholarship offers from Davidson, Charlotte and Old Dominion to walk on at his dream school.  We have to give it up for the youngster in terms of his due diligence, as he cited as examples several previous Roy Williams walk-ons who worked their way up to scholarships at both UNC and Kansas (Jerod Haase, Wes Miller, CB McGrath).
  5. ESPN announced its Super Tuesday schedule for the 2010-11 season, and as always, with the release of more and more actual game matchups, our excitement meter ticks another notch upward.  Best ST of the season — we’re going with January 25.  A strong Florida team visits a surprising Georgia squad in Athens, followed by a top-five Purdue team going into Columbus to face an excellent Buckeye team.  Your schedule is below.

Share this story

Scorecard Found From Wooden’s Ace/Albatross Round

Posted by jstevrtc on August 19th, 2010

We’ve known about John Wooden’s famous golf round from 1939 for a long time, the one at Erskine Park Golf Course in South Bend, Indiana in which he nailed both a hole-in-one and a double-eagle (or albatross) on the way to shooting a 75 (+4).  Well, the scorecard from that day on the course has been found.

Wooden's Daughter Holds The Proof. As If We Needed It. (David Crane/LADN Staff)

According to an article from the online edition of the Los Angeles Daily News, Wooden’s daughter, Nan Muehlhausen, recently found the scorecard while cleaning out her father’s condominium in Encino.  As you can see, the card clearly shows Wooden’s name signed as “John W.” as the first player on the card along several others who would have had to vouch for the feat.

We understand that these things need to be vetted and proven, that witnesses of such accomplishments on a golf course are necessary. But we’re with Wooden’s son Jim.  When Jim was told that Golf Digest wanted to see the scorecard, he responded, “If daddy said he did it, he did it.”

Wooden was a keen golfer and even got down to a six handicap. When Corey Pavin (the captain of the USA’s Ryder Cup team this year, by the way) won the U.S. Open in 1995, Wooden called long time friend Eddie Merrins, Pavin’s golf coach at UCLA, and congratulated him on Pavin’s win — a respectful acknowledgment of the relationship between player and coach.

According to Golf Digest, the making of a hole-in-one and a double-eagle in the same round is something that’s been done just four times, one of them by Coach Wooden.  We ask you — is there anything the man couldn’t do?

Share this story

Did the Mountain West Just Cannibalize the WAC?

Posted by rtmsf on August 19th, 2010

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

Just a few hours ago, the Mountain West Conference was being left for dead. BYU was on its way to football independence and a WAC address for the rest of its sports, Boise State was potentially considering changing its mind about a move to the MWC, and we were contemplating a landscape in college athletics without the MWC, inarguably the most successful football non-BCS conference and also one of the most successful non-BCS basketball conferences. But MWC commissioner Craig Thompson was able to get quick agreements from Fresno State and Nevada to leave the WAC and join the MWC possibly beginning in 2011, although it could be pushed back to 2012 for financial considerations.

Thompson May Have Just Saved His League

The status of BYU is still somewhat in doubt as no official announcement regarding their future has been made. As of now, according to Thompson, “BYU is a member of the Mountain West Conference.” Given that the WAC is now comprised of just six teams, it is possible that BYU may reconsider and remain in the MWC as if nothing happened. Certainly the MWC would take them back without a second thought. Or, if BYU is still set on independence for its football program, it may look into the WCC as a potential home for it non-football teams.

Earlier in the day, it had been reported that all the schools in the WAC had last week signed a five-year agreement to remain in the WAC with a $5 million buyout penalty for leaving, and, as it turns out, it was BYU who instigated the buyout, hoping it was assuring a safe landing place for the Cougar non-football sports when they left the MWC. However, it turns out that Nevada never signed the agreement, although they did verbally agree to it, so they will have to pay some sort of exit fee, with the $5 million being the ceiling. However, if the WAC ceases to exist (a distinct possibility), it is possible that both Fresno State, who apparently signed the agreement, and Nevada will not have to pay the buyout penalty at all. If they wind up having to pay fees to the WAC for leaving, the MWC will aid those schools in paying their buyout penalties. According to Thompson, “We’re not going to bankrupt them to come into the Mountain West Conference.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story