With Pieces In Place To Repeat Calhoun Returns

Posted by nvr1983 on August 31st, 2011

It was one of the worst kept secrets in all of sports, but earlier today Connecticut announced that Hall of Fame coach Jim Calhoun would be returning for his 26th season as head coach at the school. While there were some questions late last season as to whether Calhoun would return and serve his suspension (missing the first three games of Big East play this season) as the Huskies progressed through the NCAA Tournament those thoughts diminished although there was a sizable minority that felt that he still might retire at the top of college basketball following the Huskies’ improbable run to the NCAA title.

Calhoun Made It Official Today: He Will Return to Defend His Title (Credit: Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

As the summer wore on it became increasingly clear that Calhoun was coming back based on what UConn recruits were saying and when Calhoun reportedly won an well-publicized albeit behind-the-scenes power struggle that led to Jeff Hathaway’s dismissal as athletic director at the school nearly every college basketball pundit assumed that Calhoun was coming back. Friday’s night surprise announcement by Andre Drummond that he would be going to UConn this year was viewed as icing on the cake. As we said the night that Drummond committed the Huskies are far from prohibitive favorites to repeat as they will have to learn to adapt to playing without Kemba Walker, but rising sophomore Jeremy Lamb has shown flashes of star potential last year as a freshman and over the summer playing for the US National Team and they will have one of the best interior defenses the country to go along with a handful of talented supporting players.

While Calhoun has a few more obstacles to overcome (like his suspension for the first three games of the Big East season–against South Florida, St. John’s, and Seton Hall) he has the Huskies in position to contend for another national title although UNC, Kentucky, and a handful of other teams all appear to be legitimate contenders. If Calhoun is able to get this new team to mesh and integrate a dominant big man to replace a dominant perimeter player, we may find ourselves in a similar situation next April as to whether or not Calhoun will return to defend another championship.

Share this story

A&M’s SEC-ession Plan: Hoops Stands to Prosper

Posted by rtmsf on August 31st, 2011

It’s now official.  After over a month of hinting, positioning and closed-door legal wrangling, Texas A&M officials have received approval from the Big 12 Conference that its stated intention to “explore its options” with respect to conference realignment will not be met with resistance (of the litigious kind, at least).  Earlier this week, commissioner Dan Beebe sent A&M a letter outlining the school’s options for withdrawal from the Big 12, and today the TAMU president, R. Bowen Loftin, wrote Beebe with the school’s next steps:

A&M: We're Not Saying Where We're Headed, But We're SEC-eding.

I have determined it is in the best interest of Texas A&M to make application to join another athletic conference.  We appreciate the Big 12’s willingness to engage in a dialogue to end our relationship through a mutually agreeable settlement. We, too, desire that this process be as amicable and prompt as possible and result in a resolution of all outstanding issues, including mutual waivers by Texas A&M and the conference on behalf of all the remaining members.

The essential phrase in Loftin’s statement of intent to the Big 12 is ‘mutual waivers.’  This language implies that there is a tentative agreement in place between the other Big 12 institutions and the conference itself to waive any future legal redress so long as A&M pays its due and propers at the door on its way out.  How much dough that will be is anyone’s guess, but by comparison, Nebraska’s skip to the Big Ten last year cost it a one-time fee of $9.25 million dollars, while Colorado’s venture west to the Pac-12 cost it $6.9 million dollars.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Around The Blogosphere: August 31, 2011

Posted by nvr1983 on August 31st, 2011

If you are interested in participating in our ATB2 feature, send in your submissions to rushthecourt@gmail.com. We will add to this post throughout the day as the submissions come in so keep on sending them.

General News

  • McDonald’s Rehab Expected To Take 7-8 Months: Leslie McDonald is expected to miss the entire season recovering from his ACL injury. (Tar Heel Fan)
  • Bruce Pearl hired by grocery company: “The wait is over, Bruce Pearl has a job. Pearl accepted a position with H.T. Hackney Co., a Knoxville-based wholesale grocery company that provides products to stores. The company does not have a basketball team; Pearl will be the vice president of marketing.” (Kentucky Sports Radio)
  • Memphis Still Bitter About Calipari?: “According to Dan Wolken (former Memphis Tigers beat writer) ‘word is that the new Penny Hardaway Athletic Hall of Fame, which opened today on Memphis’ campus, includes no photos of John Calipari.'” (Kentucky Sports Radio)
Share this story

Morning Five: 08.31.11 Edition

Posted by jstevrtc on August 31st, 2011

  1. We weighed in yesterday on the product-of-a-slow-news-day controversy involving the media relations department at Kentucky and the school’s student-run newspaper, the Kentucky Kernel. We won’t rehash the whole thing here, but now the AP Managing Editors Association has responded to UK, calling the behavior of the school’s Sports Information Department “reprehensible” and “abhorrent at a taxpayer-owned institution.” Seriously? Without mentioning the actions of the involved student reporter, they also “urge” UK to restore the media access of both the paper and the reporter, even though their access was denied for less than 24 hours and was probably restored in full before the APME even wrote that letter. Did they read anything about this before sending it? It comes off like a formality.
  2. “2012 NCAA Tournament Champions Michigan Wolverines.” Sound good, Ann Arbor? Your boy Jordan Dumars thinks so. Not only does he think it sounds good, he thinks it should happen, and confirms that that’s what his team says — “national championship” — at the end of every workout. Dumars, a transfer who will become eligible by the holidays, is not predicting nor guaranteeing such an achievement, just saying that’s where the squad is aiming. We wholeheartedly support players taking this tack when asked to give prognostications on how they think their upcoming season will go. If a kid says something like, “Well, I think we’ll go 20-14 and hopefully do well in the Tournament,” as far as we’re concerned, he just lost 14 games and got bounced in the second (former first) round. Strong work, Jordan.
  3. In yesterday’s M5 we slipped in a link about how Texas A&M’s president had, according to a report in the New York Times, sent a later containing his school’s kiss-off to the Big 12. The school denies this ever happened. A&M, however, confirms receiving a letter from the office of Big 12 commish Dan Beebe detailing the withdrawal procedures for leaving the conference. And by “detailing the withdrawal procedures,” we pretty much mean “explaining how much it will cost you” and “things we need to sign saying we won’t sue each other.” The linked article above notes that while A&M would like to have this done by the beginning of the season, it may take until week two or three. In other words, folks, get on board with this if you aren’t already.
  4. Recruiting insider and (from what we hear) legendary ladies’ man Evan Daniels and the crew at Scout.com have released their rankings of schools’ recruiting classes for 2012, and we wonder how loud the alarm bells will sound within a few fan bases: North Carolina’s class is 9th? Duke 11th? Kentuckynot listed in the top 20 or the honorable mention?!? Relax, you various shades of blue. It’s hard to ascend the rankings when you don’t sign anyone. Duke’s ranking is based on one player, UNC’s on two. Kentucky hasn’t signed a single player from the 2012 class. There’s a reason Daniels entitled this list the “Early 2012 Class Rankings.” Just over half of Scout’s top 100 recruits for 2012 are unsigned, so unfortunately for a certain blueblood school that’s been rebuilding for a few years that sits atop the current Scout list, it’s not a matter of if but how far they’ll fall once prospects start making their selections.
  5. Every one of the RTC compounds is lousy with recycling bins and solar panels, so we’re all about recycling and reusing and sustainability and all that stuff, and letting people know you’re proud of the measures you’ve taken to reduce your impact on the environment. To that end, Kansas State has unleashed — fanfare, please — EcoKat, their mascot for the whole green-going movement. Whoa. For the sake of the KSU senior in the costume (whose pluck we admire), here’s hoping that EcoKat is never unmasked and her true identity never revealed. Ladies and gentlemen, we ask you…how hot is this?
Share this story

Bruce Pearl, VP Of Marketing — For Now

Posted by jstevrtc on August 30th, 2011

The ink on Bruce Pearl’s three-year show-cause sanction from the NCAA is barely dry, and he’s already found his next job. Pearl has agreed to the position of VP of Marketing for the Knoxville-based H.T. Hackney company, one of the biggest wholesale grocers in the country. We haven’t been able to confirm this yet, but RTC is going on record as saying that Hackney’s CEO, William Sansom, will not have to go before the NCAA to justify why it wants to hire the former Tennessee boss.

Pearl: From Volunteer to VP to...We'll See

OK, we’re ribbing Pearl a little, there, but frankly, we like the move. A lot of guys who have achieved Pearl’s level of success would shun opportunities like this, knowing how they’d be made fun of for going from the heights of men’s Division I hoops to a wholesale grocer (though it is a $4 billion a year outfit). Pearl doesn’t care about this, and we think that’s something to admire. What’s more is…it’s a VP job in marketing. Not an easy day’s work, usually, but we also know a lot of marketing VPs who do absolutely no work at all. We predict that Pearl — a marketing and economics major in college, according to the linked article — will have a workload that falls somewhere in-between there but closer to the latter.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

On Kentucky Basketball, Media Credentials, and the First Amendment

Posted by nvr1983 on August 30th, 2011

Late last night an article from The Kentucky Kernel and a series of tweets ignited a media firestorm about how media credentials are handled. The article, which was written by the UK student newspaper’s managing editor Becca Clemons, told the story of how the daily newspaper had its credentials revoked for today’s special media session where each journalist was allowed to speak with every player on the team as part of a series of one-on-one interviews. According to Clemons, the story began when Kentucky‘s star freshman Anthony Davis sent out a pair of tweets welcoming Sam Malone and Brian Long as new members of this year’s basketball team. Prior to these two tweets there was no public knowledge that the two had been invited to be walk-on members of the team.

Kentucky Has Found Itself In Another Controversy

Soon after this, Kernel reporter Aaron Smith contacted Malone and Long by cell phone after obtaining their numbers through Kentucky’s public student directory. When asked whether or not they were on the team, both players acknowledged that they were even though it had not been formally announced by the athletic department, but declined interview requests from Smith. Upon hearing of Smith’s contact with the two players, DeWayne Peevy, Kentucky’s associate athletic director of media relations, revoked the credentials he had granted Smith and the newspaper to the event, which was to be attended by only 14 media outlets including a marketing firm. In her editorial, Clemons asserted that this decision violated Smith’s First Amendment rights and cited a Louisville lawyer who represents the Kentucky Press Association who stated, “the very fact that they don’t like the way you’re exercising your First Amendment rights does not give them the right to deprive you of an opportunity you would otherwise have” and that the decision was “clearly a violation of First Amendment rights.” What followed was a late-night Twitter debate by many prominent college basketball journalists which was joined this morning by a variety of sites with a vast majority of the non-Kentucky sites supporting the newspaper.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

The RTC 2011 College Football All-Americans (with a Hoops Twist)

Posted by rtmsf on August 30th, 2011

Andrew Murawa is the RTC Pac-12 and Mountain West correspondent and a frequent columnist. 

It’s that time of year again. Off in the distance, it could be a mirage, or it could be the start of college basketball season. It’s probably a mirage, but the Great Sports Desert (you know, that time of year between the end of the NBA Finals and the start of college football when normal American males actually have time to get stuff done) ends Thursday, as college football kicks off its 142nd season. And given the offseason that college football has had, it couldn’t come any sooner. Unfortunately, given all the scandals and arrests and the like, according to my source at the NCAA, it appears that literally every college football player will be ineligible for the coming year (at least I assume that is true – it’s not a very good source). As a result, football programs across this great nation have been scrambling for some last minute replacements. And, since we here at RTC are nothing if not diligent, we’ve spent the last few weeks scouring college football camps across the country while other lesser outlets have been reporting on things like a little scuffle in Baton Rouge and something-or-other about Miami (I’ll admit, I never got through that whole article, but I think I got the gist of it – Miami is a nice place to go to school, right?). Anyway, since we’re the only ones who seem to be on top of this sea change in college football, we’ll let you all in on some of our wisdom as we preview college basketball’s richer, more-spoiled sibling, with RTC’s official 2011 College Football All-American team.

Offense

High School Star Aaron Craft Will Fill In Nicely for Terrelle Pryor at OSU

  • QB: Aaron Craft (6’2″, 190 lbs), Ohio State: In light of the Buckeye football program’s recent troubles, new head coach Luke Stickell turns the reins over to the sophomore Craft. He’s not the quickest or fleetest of foot, but he is accurate, he’s tough and he’s a leader. There has been plenty of talk about the Heisman Trophy campaign of North Carolina’s Kendall Marshall, but until he takes better care of the ball (last year, he turned the ball over on almost 30% of all possessions), we’ll give the nod to Craft, who at least has the advantage of having played QB for three years in high school.
  • RB: Jordan Taylor (6’1″, 195 lbs), Wisconsin: The newest Badger tailback may not have the size of former greats like Ron Dayne and John Clay, but Taylor is a tough and smart runner who excels at finding a crease and finishing through contact.
  • Read the rest of this entry »
Share this story

Around The Blogosphere: August 30, 2011

Posted by nvr1983 on August 30th, 2011

If you are interested in participating in our ATB2 feature, send in your submissions to rushthecourt@gmail.com. We will add to this post throughout the day as the submissions come in so keep on sending them.

General News

  • Maryland Adds 7-2 Ukrainian Olexiy Len to 2011 Roster: “Remember those rumblings about Maryland and Mark Turgeon adding a Ukrainian big man to their 2011 roster? Well, they weren’t as wrong as they appeared; they just had the wrong big man. Per InsideMDSports, the Terrapins are adding 7-foot-2 Olexiy “Alex” Len to this season’s roster:” (Testudo Times: News and Analysis)
  • Kentucky adds two walk-ons: “Coach Cal has added two new walk-ons, Sam Malone and Brian Long. Malone is a point guard from Scituate, Massachusettes. He is not the owner and bartender on Cheers. Long is from New Jersey.” (Kentucky Sports Radio: News and Analysis)
Share this story

Morning Five: 08.30.11 Edition

Posted by jstevrtc on August 30th, 2011

  1. We’ve been on record for a while with our belief that the summer trips abroad that teams take to play exhibitions against foreign squads pay off in currencies that have little to do with the on-court aspects of basketball and more to do with overall esprit-de-corps and the broadening of minds of 18-22 year-olds. We like that Northern Iowa head coach Ben Jacobson seems to agree. The Des Moines Register‘s Mark Emmert (not that one, we assume) noted that a few schools in the state of Iowa got to go to some pretty amazing places this summer — Australia, Italy, and Brazil, anyone? — with Jacobson quoted as saying, “The time away from (strictly basketball activities) becomes beneficial, just building that team chemistry and the trust and the things that have to be there if you’re going to put together a good season.”
  2. Mark Turgeon has Gary Williams to thank for the recent inking of 7’1”, 225-pound Ukranian Olexiy Len to the Terps’ roster for the upcoming season — the program had been recruiting Len before Turgeon arrived and finalized the deal — and already Len has vaulted himself into the upper reaches of our favorite players for 2011-12. He said that the first time he ever saw Maryland play was against Duke at Comcast in 2010, a game that ended in a big ol’ RTC. Len’s impression: “I could not believe the atmosphere…it was unbelievable.” Around here, we don’t necessarily advocate every RTC, but when used properly…well, don’t tell us it doesn’t mean anything. It certainly did last year to a kid in the Ukraine who now finds himself en route to the College Park Campus.
  3. After seven years of the previous version, there is a new floor at Kansas State’s Bramlage Coliseum. We like the balance struck, here. There are some progressive tones but still a traditional feel. Put better, they didn’t go overboard but still made it cool. The purple octagon outline? Nice. The darker “intra-arc” wood? We’re on board. The PowerCat in the center? Perfect size. Well done all around. We imagine it will bring a smile even to Frank Martin’s face (we kid, we kid). Take note, Northwestern.
  4. Speaking of K-State, are they really, as the Kansas City Star’s Sam Mellinger puts it, “one step above hosed” when it comes to likely shake-outs of the next phase of conference realignment? Some experts believe that Kansas would do better to disregard pressure from in-state influences and do whatever Missouri does. A KU-Mizzou bond pretty much cements a solid rivalry around Kansas City, one of the country’s most college-sports-crazy markets. Kansas State, says Mr. Mellinger’s expert, has the most to lose in the end, and in this swirling magma that represents the early evolution of eventual superconferences, has a profile that doesn’t fit the SEC as much as it does the MAC. My, the deals, alliances and secret handshakes that must quietly be happening in that proverbial Big 12 backroom. By the way, has anyone seen Texas A&M?
  5. Morgan State’s Todd Bozeman knows all about that big ice cube on which Bruce Pearl is about to sit. Bozeman was a 32 year-old hot shot at California when he got slapped with a show-cause from the NCAA for paying Jelani Gardner’s parents $30,000 and then lying about it. His show-cause penalty was for eight years, though, which ended up keeping him out of coaching for ten. Pearl will be 55 years old when his three-year show-cause ends in 2014. Could any coach hit with such a penalty ever come back to a level anywhere near that which they once achieved? It seems darn near impossible once you’ve been stigmatized with the show-cause, and that’s obviously the point. Nooga.com’s Brendan Quinn recounts the story of Bozeman and ponders the fate of Pearl in an interesting piece.

 

Share this story

Around The Blogosphere: August 29, 2011

Posted by nvr1983 on August 29th, 2011

If you are interested in participating in our ATB2 feature, send in your submissions to rushthecourt@gmail.com. We will add to this post throughout the day as the submissions come in so keep on sending them.

General News

  • Andre Drummond Commits to UConn: In a surprise Friday night announcement, Drummond elected to not enroll for a post-graduate year and instead will be heading to Storrs. (The UConn Blog and A Sea of Blue)
  • Bradley to give up scholarship to pave way for Drummond: Redshirt freshman Michael Bradley will reportedly give up his scholarship to create room for Drummond. (The UConn Blog)
Share this story

Morning Five: 08.29.11 Edition

Posted by jstevrtc on August 29th, 2011

  1. Jimmer Fredette will be moving up to the next level soon, and what we’re talking about there has nothing to do with basketball. The Jimmer announced his engagement to his girlfriend (and BYU cheerleader) Whitney via Twitter over the weekend with a photo and statement summarizing his excitement. Subsequently, jokes — most of them well-meaning, it seemed — began to fly throughout the tweetosphere regarding how Whitney is a senior at BYU and therefore still under the school’s honor code, so she’d have to play, er, a sort of defense a little longer, a subject on which she could educate him. Ah, those clever Twitter kids. In all seriousness, we extend our congratulations to the pair.
  2. What do you have when you take a Marquette guy who loves advanced statistics and wants to apply them to college basketball, a possible brand new and downright compelling new statistic developed by that fellow that could help determine the most valuable players in college hoops (and finds that Jordan Taylor of his rival Wisconsin is atop the list!), a college basketball blog we love, and combine all that into a Luke Winn article? You have what we call a good time, friends. Ever heard of Ken Horton from Central Connecticut State? Familiarize yourself. Is Taylor more valuable than Jared Sullinger or Tu Holloway? Hmmm. See for yourself. All we can say is God bless you, John Pudner.
  3. What’s Oklahoma State boss Travis Ford got up his sleeve? Via Twitter last week he made a cryptic reference to some “exciting non-conference schedule information” as well as “a possible roster addition early next week.” Well, now that’s this week, and there’s some speculation that the surprise may come in the rather large form of 7’0”, 235-pound Marek Soucek from the Czech Republic, a highly sought-after recruit whose name happens to now appear in the OSU student directory. Actually, Soucek hasn’t left the Czech Republic yet. What’s going on here? John Helsley of The Oklahoman wonders, too.
  4. Everyone obviously knows about the Georgetown vs Bayi fight during the Hoyas’ trip to China from a couple of weeks ago. While the fiasco itself is likely ever to be pointed to by historians as a high-impact moment in the arc of Sino-American relations, it is interesting to examine reasons that might have led to such an event. Tom Gold is a sociology professor from UC Berkeley and is something of an expert on events in the (so-called) Far East; in a recent interview with Asian American Press, Dr. Gold discussed the thinking that may have been behind this from the Chinese viewpoint. A short piece, but it contains some interesting takes.
  5. Retirement, schmetirement, let’s play ball. That’s evidently the mindset of San Diego State’s Steve Fisher, who just signed a four-year extension with the Aztecs, according to a late-night report from ESPN’s Andy Katz. As Katz points out, leading the school to its first-ever Sweet 16 could have served as an appropriate exiting point for Fisher, and then you throw in that the coach was treated for prostate cancer just over three years ago and his star from last season is gone…well, such an extension might come to some as a surprise. We doubt anyone in San Diego’s complaining, though, and if we’re talking about good health and normal blood tests (look at Katz, dropping some PSA knowledge!), we’re glad to see this happen.
Share this story

Mitch McGary Channels Darryl Dawkins at the Boost Mobile Elite 24

Posted by nvr1983 on August 27th, 2011

Typically all-star games are only worthy of highlights from a dunk contest or a couple fast breaks, but in the case of today’s Boost Mobile Elite 24 the biggest moment came during the warm-ups. As Dave Telep reported from the scene, class of 2012 prospect Mitch McGary, who is in the top 5 on every recruiting site, shattered the backboard during warm-ups while dunking in the “layup line” (obviously Mitch doesn’t believe in the old fashion layup).

The pictures from the scene (courtesy of @DaveTelep) give you a sense of the aftermath. We imagine that there are quite a few coaches at big-time programs who are imagining McGary doing this in their uniform at an opposing arena in the coming years.

Fortunately they had another backboard available (Credit: Dave Telep via Twitter)

Share this story