Morning Five: 08.16.11 EditionPosted by rtmsf on August 16th, 2011
- Texas A&M‘s rather public flirtation with the SEC continued on Monday with the news that school president R. Bowen Loftin had received authority from the school’s board of regents to take whatever action he deems necessary to act in the long-term best interests of the university. Whether this ultimately means that the school will make a formal overture to join the SEC remains to be seen, but it’s notable that the Texas House committee that had scheduled a meeting today to discuss this matter has postponed it indefinitely. Right now it seems as if things are in a state of flux, but you’d better believe that whatever backroom political deals that need to resolved before A&M can move forward are in the process of being resolved.
- We’ve been rather vocal in our opinion that the NCAA had better get out in front of these conference realignment issues driven by football dollars before they lose control of the whole enchilada. To that point, we were encouraged to read that the NCAA president, Mark Emmert, has started making calls at the behest of some of the conference commissioners in an attempt to smooth over some rankled egos and facilitate any conference realignment in a collegial way. Regardless of what happens with Texas A&M in coming days or weeks, this is an important move for Emmert. He is still in his first year on the job, and even though his authority only reaches so far on issues such as these, his reputation as a fair-minded and collaborative leader could be established (or ruined) based on how he handles this situation.
- We hope to have more on this up later today, but along with the imminent end of summer comes Scout’s new post-camp player ratings for the Class of 2012. Wing player Shabazz Mohammed remains the top overall player in the class, followed by beefy centers Andre Drummond and Mitch McGary. In fact, nine of the top 12 players in this class are big men (PFs or Cs), an amazing development considering the vanishing of the American big man over the last two decades. Only five of the top 25 players are currently committed, which as always will make for an exciting fall on the recruiting trail as players head into their senior seasons.
- There’s never been a formal announcement one way or another, but does anyone on the planet actually believe that Connecticut head coach Jim Calhoun won’t be back stalking the sidelines again in Storrs next season? Former Husky great Ray Allen doesn’t believe it either, as he told a throng of assembled media at his charity golf tournament in Cromwell, Connecticut, on Monday. He didn’t go so far as to say he believes his former coach will be back, but he did say that he feels Calhoun is “rejuvenated” and has two players in Shabazz Napier and Jeremy Lamb who have “experience” well beyond their years. Unless Calhoun has plans to pull a Dean Smith and retire just before the start of the practice so that his longtime assistant, George Blaney, would get an opportunity to steer the ship, we expect that his relative silence this offseason only means that he’ll be back stronger than ever in the 2011-12 season.
- Basketball in August? Our SEC correspondent, Gerald Smith, attended Monday night’s Kentucky Pros vs. John Calipari’s Dominican Republic team, featuring John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Tayshaun Prince, et al, going up against a Gator-chomping Al Horford and former Louisville stars Francisco Garcia and Edgar Sosa, among others. Here’s his brief report. On Monday a seminar on economics was held inside Rupp Arena. An exhibition brought to life by Dominican Republic/Kentucky Coach John Calipari was a logistical scramble that yielded widespread success: Over 23,000 spent an August evening watching Calipari’s Dominicans defeat (mostly) Calipari’s Pros sponsored by Calipari’s corporate partners, 106-88. T-shirt vendors and other Lexington businesses can thank Calipari for a bonus game day full of sales. Incredible ticket demand prompted a second Pros vs. DR game which will be held in Louisville’s Yum! Center tonight. Even minor setbacks in exhibition planning were rewarded with national press exposure for the Kentucky basketball program and the exhibition. Calipari’s incredible talent for synergy separates him from nearly every other NCAA coach. (It helps that Big Blue Nation will invest heavily into most any product associated with the coach.) Instead of an NBA team owner knocking down the coach’s door, perhaps Kentucky fans should be worried that none other than Ben Bernanke will steal Calipari away from the Bluegrass State.