Morning Five: 09.30.11 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on September 30th, 2011

  1. When Delvon Roe came out of high school he so highly sought after that his decision to spurn North Carolina for Michigan State led Roy Williams to reportedly call Roe out for having “lied” to him in Williams’ autobiography. Unfortunately, Roe never lived up to expectations in East Lansing as he battled to overcome a series of knee injuries. Yesterday, Roe announced that he was retiring due to ongoing knee injuries and his desire to pursue other interests. We wish Roe the best in his future endeavors, which appear to be geared towards acting at this time.
  2. Two weeks after the ACC held a series of meetings that threatened the continued existence of the Big East, the presidents of the remaining Big East schools will reportedly meet to “talk about the future and how to go forward as a strong Big East” according to Connecticut president Susan Herbst. This meeting comes a week after the presidents and athletic directors in the Big East met to try to figure out which schools to poach from other conferences to replace Syracuse and Pittsburgh. We find it amusing that Herbst sent the e-mail informing the Associated Press of the meeting, which makes her the public representative of the meeting, since the previous person who the public viewed as the face of the Big East was Mark Nordenberg, the chancellor at Pittsburgh and one-time chair of the conference, because Herbst is widely thought to merely be a puppet acting on the wishes of Jim Calhoun and has already stated that the school is essentially looking out for its own good.
  3. You can expect to see a very different Old Dominion team when the season starts as they will start the season without any of their five starters from last season as Kent Bazemore will be out for the first month of the season while he recovers from fractured left footy. So don’t be surprised if you see Old Dominion struggling early in the season especially when they could potentially play Kentucky on November 20 in a game that would normally pique our interest. You also shouldn’t be surprised if Old Dominion is in the thick of the CAA race in late February with a full strength Bazemore playing alongside two additional players–Richard Ross and Donte Hill–who may become eligible for the spring semester.
  4. The recruitment of Rodney Purvis has been nothing if not interesting. The 6’4″ guard out of Raleigh, North Carolina is widely considered one of the top 20 players in the nation had previously committed to play atLouisville before backing out of that commitment and taking the Cardinals off his list completely. Purvis is set to make another commitment later today and is reportedly deciding between North Carolina StateMemphis,Connecticut, and Virginia Commonwealth. Most people are expecting Purvis to end up at UConn, but if he decides to go to NC State expect to see headlines similar to what you saw when Cody Zeller decided to go toIndiana a year ago.
  5. If you want to know why we don’t get too worked up over all these verbal commitments we would like to point you in the direction of Kendrick Nunn, a shooting guard in the class of 2013, decommited from Texas A&M late on Wednesday. Nunn announced his change of heart on Twitter and stated that it was not a reflection on his relationship with the Aggie coaching staff. As we have stated numerous times, it is ridiculous to expect that teenagers won’t have a change of heart when they make a decision so early. We understand why fans get excited with verbal commitments, but they shouldn’t be shocked when that same player decommits.
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The RTC Interview Series: One On One With Taylor Branch

Posted by nvr1983 on September 29th, 2011

Rush The Court is back with another edition of One on One: An Interview Series, which we will bring you periodically throughout the year. If you have any specific interview requests or want us to interview you, shoot us an email at rushthecourt@yahoo.com.

This time our interview subject is Taylor Branch, who is best known for his Pulitzer Prize-winning Parting the Waters: America in the King Years, 1954-63 and receiving a MacArthur Foundation genius grant. However, Branch took something of a sabbatical from his usual works on history to study the NCAA in “The Shame of College Sports” that was published in this month’s edition of The Atlantic and a recently released Byliner.com e-publication, “The Cartel: Inside the Rise and Imminent Fall of the NCAA”. Branch’s recent work has generated a lot of discussion and has led Frank Deford to write that it “may well be the most important article ever written about college sports.” When we were extended the opportunity to speak with him on the subject, we jumped at it and what follows is our discussion with him.

Branch Has An E-Book That Supplements His Article

Rush the Court: When we found out that we were going to speak with you we asked some of the other sportswriters that we knew what their thoughts were about your article, and we were surprised to hear that almost all of them had heard about it but very few of them had read the 14,573 words. For those people, could you summarize what the major thesis of your piece is about, because I feel like many people have read the critiques of your essay, but have not read the original article and miss some of the meat of it, which is where I think a lot of the substance is?

Taylor Branch: Right. It has kind of gone at warp speed right past me because there is already an e-book just days after the article came out. An original e-book company asked me if I had any more material and I had another 10,000 words so this is an extended version that includes more basketball. That is already an original e-book. That is what I was doing a Twitter chat about today. My kids are laughing at me because I have been print author for 40 years and now in just a week or 10 days since this thing went on a newsstand I already have an original e-book expansion called “The Cartel,” which is 25,000 words, and I had a Twitter chat just over an hour ago, which I didn’t even know how to do. [laughs] Obviously, I have stumbled into something. I just did this as a temporary magazine assignment between books and didn’t really realize that it was going to get this much attention. It began and is a survey of college sports including its history. I am a historian. I write about history for a living. I have been writing history books for 40 years. They asked me to write about it because I don’t write about sports so I could come at it fresh. My basic question was why is the United States the only country in the world that plays big-money sports at institutions of higher learning and where does that come from in our history. A lot of the book is that. Where did the NCAA come from? Where does it derive its powers and where it came from? I went to North Carolina and everybody in North Carolina cares about basketball. Where does the money from March Madness go? Inevitably, the focus became more and more on money because money is the driving force of college sports. And more and more for me the focus became how do we justify the amateurism rules that the NCAA applies to the players in college sports, but not to the coaches and the schools themselves, who have been making more and more money and marketing themselves more aggressively. Ultimately, I came to the conclusion that you cannot justify these rules. The sum total of what holds them up is like The Wizard of Oz because we put up with it. We don’t put up with it for the adults or coaches, but we do impose it on the kids. I think those rules cannot be justified.  That really touched a nerve because people are saying that I am demanding to pay college athletes. That’s not quite right. I am not demanding that any college pay an athlete. What I think you cannot justify is the college banding together and saying that we refuse and will conspire not to pay the athletes anything more than the value of your scholarship. I don’t think that can be justified. I think it is doomed. I think it is already falling apart. That is the basic thrust of my article.

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Morning Five: 09.29.11 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on September 29th, 2011

  1. Southern Mississippi head coach Larry Eustachy received a three-year extension on his contract.  You might recall that Eustachy gained some notoriety in 2009 for giving back a $25,000 bonus to his employer because he didn’t feel as if he had earned it.  In the two seasons hence, his Golden Eagles have gone 42-24 and were invited to the CIT postseason tournament in 2009-10.  Southern Miss was in the conversation for an at-large bid in last year’s NCAA Tournament prior to hitting a tough stretch during the last two weeks of the season.  His extension does not include a salary boost, but it will keep him employed at the school through the 2013-14 season.
  2. Rick Pitino really must not want to end up in the ‘fertile’ recruiting grounds of the Big 12, searching for talent in a place like Manhattan, Kansas, rather than Manhattan island.  In an interview with Adam Zagoria on Tuesday night, he went on a somewhat incomprehensible tirade about why Connecticut would be “dumb” to leave the Big East for the ACC if there was another spot available for the Huskies.  He invokes none other than the legendary John Wooden to explain why UConn should not consider such a move: “Do you ever think [leaving the Pac-10] crossed his mind? No, when you’re great winner, those things don’t cross your mind. The only thing that crosses your mind is the ability to win a championship and carry on the great tradition you’ve built.”  He even goes so far as to suggest that the Huskies might be less successful in a conference like the ACC, citing Boston College’s one soccer title as a relevant example.  But… didn’t Pitino tell us a hundred times in March that the Big East was by far the best basketball conference?  Why would leaving the best basketball conference for a weaker one hurt them, Rick?  We haven’t seen video of this interview, but it reads like the rantings and ramblings of a man desperate to avoid irrelevance.
  3. We’re all aware that Syracuse is headed to the ACC, although the when behind that move is still up in the air.  What might also be up in the air is the idea Syracuse chancellor Nancy Cantor floated on Tuesday — Syracuse possibly playing some home ACC games in New York City.  Calling the Orange “New York’s college team,” Cantor strongly stated that one of the must-haves for her school was to play some home ACC games in the Big Apple.  Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim fired back with unequivocal statements to the contrary on Wednesday.  Suggesting that Cantor was mistaken about which games might be played in NYC, Boeheim said, “we absolutely would not take conference games to New York City. It was never the intent… She meant games in New York. Yes. And bringing the ACC Tournament to New York.”  From an economic standpoint to the school, it makes a lot more sense to bring elite ACC teams to upstate New York and the enormous Carrier Dome than to try to play the likes of Duke, UNC, Maryland and others in the much smaller venues of Madison Square Garden or the new Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
  4. Speaking of the new NYC arena, we’re already loving this place.  New York always felt like it should be a two-arena kind of town, and the Barclays will now allow some interesting simultaneous events for people in the city to enjoy.  The first example of this will now occur in 2013, as the Atlantic 10 has signed a five-year deal to bring its conference tournament to Brooklyn.  If the league keeps with the format it has now so that the quarters, semis and finals occur on Selection Sunday weekend, savvy hoops fans might be able to commute between the Big East extravaganza at MSG and the best A-10 games over in Brooklyn.  With a mere half-hour trip by subway line between the two arenas, hoops junkies like ourselves could find themselves in a heavenly situation.
  5. Let’s finish with some really good news.  Arizona’s Kevin Parrom is back on campus in Tucson and is set to resume classes and begin rehabilitation from the shooting injury he suffered last weekend in his hometown of New York.  The bullet entered his leg in the back of his right knee but head coach Sean Miller said on Tuesday that it’s unclear how the injury will impact his basketball activities this season, suggesting that it will be at least a month before a true assessment can be made.  Parrom, a junior who averaged 8/3 last season while knocking down 41.8% of his threes, is a key contributor for Miller, but at this point everyone is just happy that he’s alive and not critically injured.  Even in what has to be trying times for a young athlete, he still has his humor intact, tweeting at former conference rival Isaiah Thomas, “Idk what hurts more your shot that went in at the end of the game or the 1 i got this weekend smh lol.”  Well played, sir.
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Who’s Got Next? Elite Talents Commit, Top Classes Crumble and Prospects Discuss Realignment

Posted by Josh Paunil on September 28th, 2011

Who’s Got Next? is a weekly column by Josh Paunil, the RTC recruiting guru. We encourage you to check out his website dedicated solely to college basketball recruiting, National Recruiting Spotlight, for more detailed recruiting information. Once a week he will bring you an overview of what’s going on in the complex world of recruiting, from who is signing where among the seniors to who the hot prospects are at the lower levels of the sport. If you have any suggestions as to areas we’re missing or different things you’d like to see, please let us know at rushthecourt@yahoo.com.

Introduction

Head coaches around the country are watching their top recruiting classes crumble before their eyes. Elite prospects are beginning to commit to big-name schools, initiating the domino affect across the college basketball recruiting world. Recruits are also speaking out on conference realignment and how it will affect their college decision. The first fall edition of Who’s Got Next? brings you this and more as we draw closer and closer to the fall signing period in November.

What They’re Saying

  • Wichita Heights head coach Joe Auer on senior Perry Ellis committing to Kansas: “He (Ellis) adores [Kansas assistant] coach [Danny] Manning, he watched how he handled the Morris twins. He was studious in watching how they developed.”
  • Senior shooting guard Archie Goodwin on committing to Kentucky: “He (head coach John Calipari) told me he wants me bad and I’m a top recruit for him. No matter what, he wants the ball in my hands and he feels like me committing will probably get the ball rolling for the rest of the class. It’s got to start somewhere.”
  • Junior shooting guard Brannen Greene on conference realignment: “I don’t care what conference I play in, I’m more so looking at the program. I think it’s great for the ACC [though] and it’s a shocker. If UConn and Louisville were to join, it would be an amazingly competitive conference!”
  • Junior point guard Isaiah Lewis on conference realignment: “It matters in my recruitment a lot. Certain schools that are recruiting me may go to a conference that I don’t think fits my game. I’ve been hearing a lot, I’m hearing Kansas may go Big East, West Virginia is going to the SEC and UConn is going to the ACC.”
  • Junior small forward Troy Williams on conference realignment: “It doesn’t affect my recruitment, they’re all moving to better conferences to get players and play better teams.”
  • Junior power forward Chris Walker on setting his decision date: “After I commit, I’m hoping to get someone like [Class of 2013 guys]  [center] Nerlens Noel, [shooting guard] Brannen Greene, [guards] Andrew and Aaron Harrison, [power forward] Julius Randle, [point guard] Kasey Hill or [small forward] Jabari Parker to come with me.”
  • Sophomore stud Jahlil Okafor on his recruitment: “I’m a big fan of Kentucky, but I haven’t heard from them. I really like what Kentucky has to offer. They have a lot of history, and they have a track-record for getting players to the NBA, and that is my ultimate goal. They also have a great fan base and the entire state is high on basketball. Ohio State has been recruiting me pretty hard, but Arizona, Georgetown and Illinois are right in there too.”

What Alex Poythress Is Saying

  • On Kentucky: “Kentucky is a good school, I like their offense. Coach [John] Calipari is a good coach. He’s a pretty good guy. He knows what he’s talking about. He’s been around basketball a long time.”
  • On Vanderbilt: “Vandy has been recruiting me for a long time. I’m close with the coaching staff.”
  • On Memphis: “Memphis is a basketball city. I like how it’s a basketball city and they play up-tempo ball.”
  • On Florida: “Florida is a good school. Coach [Billy] Donovan is a good coach. I like how they use their wings.”
  • On Duke being dropped from his list: “Actually, they said they weren’t recruiting me anymore. They sent me an email saying they were going to back out of recruiting me so I said, ‘OK.’”

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Morning Five: 09.28.11 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on September 28th, 2011

  1. On Monday we mentioned that the SEC would be looking for a 14th member to round out its new conference in the very near future. Yesterday, SEC commissioner Mike Silve came out and said they did not have any current plans to add a 14th team and did not have any other institutions currently under consideration to be the 14th team in the conference. We aren’t sure what to say about this other than to say we don’t believe it for a second unless Silve is trying to argue semantics. We can’t imagine that anybody actually believes that the SEC plans on having one of its football team playing a non-conference game each Saturday because they cannot find another SEC team play.
  2. One of the more interesting aspects of the NBA work stoppage in our opinion  has been the presence of NBA players around college campuses to continue working on their games. One of those players is former North Carolina star Tyler Hansbrough, who has spent much of his summer in Chapel Hill living with Bobby Frasor (hopefully not jumping off roofs again). Jeff Goodman caught up with Hansbrough and got his thoughts on some of the current Tar Heels. Normally we just ignore commentary from former players talking about players from their school, but in this case Hansbrough actually critiques the players and points out some of their weakness. We already knew about many of these weaknesses, but it is interesting to see someone with a connection to the program call the players out on those weaknesses publicly.
  3. Detroit may have been dealt a major blow with the announcement that Eli Holman would be taking an indefinite leave of absence while he deals with “personal matters”. Obviously, the impact this has on the Titans will depend a great deal on how long “indefinite” ends up being. They start off the season with a fairly difficult schedule so missing Holman during that period would probably cost them any shot at an at-large bid, which is pretty slim to begin with. Still, if he returns and can continue to add a solid post presence to go along with the potentially spectacular backcourt of Ray McCallum Jr. and Chase Simon the Titans still could pick up the Horizon League’s automatic bid.
  4. Harvard has had a very solid stretch the past few days and we aren’t talking about their growing endowment. In addition to a previous commitment from Evan Cummins, Tommy Amaker picked up commitments from Mike Hall and Siyani Chambers, two highly-touted recruits who many say are the type of players that the Crimson has been unable to land in the past. Like many other members of the media, we are impressed by Amaker’s work in getting highly coveted recruits to come to a program without much basketball tradition even though the promise of an essentially free Harvard education does not sound like a bad deal for players who probably will never be NBA material [Ed. Note: Please don't start with the NCPA arguments.]. That said we aren’t drinking the Crimson Kool-Aid yet like some individuals who are already talking about an Elite 8 run as we are still waiting for Harvard to make the NCAA Tournament at some point after 1946.
  5. We are a little over two weeks away from Midnight Madness and it appears that some schools may have a significant dilemma on their hands. With this year’s Midnight Madness occurring on a Friday night several major recruits are facing a difficult choice–not play in their school’s Friday night football game or miss an event that has become a ritual in the recruiting process. At least one school, Indiana, has already changed its event from midnight on a Friday to 7:30 PM on Saturday to “meet families who come to a game or this event with their children and expose them to IU basketball for the first time”. However, as Terry Hutchens points out, “Only a cynic would suggest the change would allow top recruit Gary Harris of Hamilton Southeastern to attend the event. Harris, who also plays football at HSE, is busy on Friday nights.” We guess that makes us a bunch of cynics.
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Detroit Center Eli Holman Out On Indefinite Leave Of Absence

Posted by nvr1983 on September 27th, 2011

Coming into this season Detroit was thought by many to be a potential mid-major sleeper. After a 17-16 record last season, the Titans were expected to be one of the top teams in the Horizon League. Led by Ray McCallum Jr., who averaged 13.5 PPG, 4.7 RPG, and 4.9 APG in a spectacular freshman campaign playing for his father Ray Sr., and Chase Simon, who also averaged 13.5 PPG last season, the Titans had one of the top backcourts in the country and they had an established inside presence in Eli Holman, who averaged 11.8 PPG (on 61% FG shooting) and 9.6 RPG in his first season after transferring from Indiana. Now, it looks like those aspirations at a conference championship may have to be put on hold as Detroit has announced that Holman will be out on an indefinite leave of absence while he tends to personal matters.

Holman's Absence Leaves A Big Hole In The Middle For The Titans (Credit: HorizonLeague.org)

In a statement, athletic director Keri Gaither said, “We have been working with Eli Holman for some time to assist him in addressing his personal matters. At this time, we feel it is in Eli’s best interest to step away from basketball to allow him to concentrate on these matters.  He has been excused from all team-related activity for an indefinite period while actively addressing these issues. We continue to support Eli during this time and we are asking everyone’s cooperation in respecting his privacy.” Like the school, we won’t speculate on the subject as nearly anything (family, health, academic, legal, etc.) could be classified as “personal matters” and we will respect Holman’s privacy. As for the Titans, this is a major blow unless Holman comes back relatively quickly because they have very little depth inside and Holman gives them a dimension–a major inside presence–that few teams in the Horizon League have.

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2011-12 RTC Class Schedule: Missouri Tigers

Posted by zhayes9 on September 27th, 2011

Zach Hayes is an editor, contributor and bracketologist for Rush the Court.

Is it possible for a head coach to be on the hot seat the day of his hiring?

Hook Frank Haith up to a lie detector and the answer would surely be in the affirmative.

Unless there were dozens of prospective candidates that privately turned down Missouri after Matt Painter abstained, Haith was certainly a curious second choice. While Miami doesn’t provide nearly the facilities or unending fan devotion as their ACC counterparts, a 43-69 career conference mark normally doesn’t result in a job upgrade. There’s no captivating NCAA Tournament run to highlight, either; Haith reached one NCAA Tournament in seven seasons at the helm and fell in the second round. In the eyes of Missouri AD Mike Alden, Haith’s wealth of experience as an assistant in the Big 12 at Texas A&M and Texas supersede the aforementioned red flags.

To make matters even more tenuous for the new Missouri coach, Haith’s name was mentioned in Nevin Shapiro’s bombshell allegations regarding the Miami football and basketball programs. Shapiro alleges that Haith had full knowledge of a $10,000 payment from Shapiro to secure the services of heralded recruit DeQuan Jones. Haith claims the allegations are “not an accurate portrayal of my character.” If the accusation did occur, Haith could be terminated for reasons that have nothing to do with conference record or on-court performance.

Despite this doom-and-gloom picture I just painted, there are actually plenty of reasons to be eager for the season to begin in Columbia. This team clearly has the ammunition to win a Big 12 that lacks a clear frontrunner with Baylor’s point guard issues, Kansas more vulnerable than at any time in the last decade and Texas A&M going through a coaching transition. In fact, with eight of their nine main contributors returning, Haith is walking into the best situation of any new head coach.

Haith needs to win at Missouri sooner than later

Team Outlook: There are tantalizing players lining the Missouri roster, but the only way the Tigers can truly make the next step into elite status is by improving their lackluster defense and winning more than one conference road game. A top-15 defensive team in 2010-11, Missouri fell to #65 last season and won just two road contests at Oregon and Iowa State. Hiring a coach whose Miami team placed ninth in the ACC in defensive efficiency is a head-scratcher. Marcus Denmon had a fantastic junior campaign, scoring nearly 17 PPG, shooting 50% from the field, making 45% of his threes and turning the ball over on a meager 8.2% of his possessions. Despite being undersized, Missouri is most effective when Denmon is teamed with Mike Dixon, a plucky 6’1 guard who posted elite assist and steal rates as a sophomore. Kim English has never been a model of efficiency, but he really scuffled shooting the rock in 2011-12 and needs to improve significantly. The frontcourt is bolstered by double-double threat Ricardo Ratliffe and the reliable Laurence Bowers, while Phil Pressey is a sparkplug off the pine. There’s depth, talent and plenty of promise on this roster. Whether they can adjust to a new system and toughen up on the road are lingering questions.

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Morning Five: 09.27.11 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on September 27th, 2011

  1. We aren’t sure if the NCAA is taking a tougher look at academic transcripts, but it seems like there have been more major recruits ruled academically ineligible in the past few weeks than we are used to (more likely that is is just the recency effect). The latest incoming freshman to fall under the watchful eye of the NCAA is Ohio State recruit LaQuinton Ross who was ruled academically ineligible by the NCAA. NCAA rules state that non-qualifiers cannot receive a scholarship or play for the year and lose a year of eligibility if they remain at the school. Ross is reportedly trying to circumvent that rule by attending another school and retaking the necessary classes and tests to qualify academically then enroll at Ohio State in January. It is a risky strategy, but Ohio State’s season could depend on whether Ross is able to qualify as the Buckeyes lack depth and experience on the perimeter and Ross could bring an interesting blend that might be enough to propel the Buckeyes into the Final Four given all the other pieces they already have in place.
  2. In a story that may only interest fans that hate Duke (wait, that includes fans of every other college basketball team?) recruit Alex Poythress has reportedly cut his list to four schools and the Blue Devils are not among that group after telling Poythress they are no longer interested in recruiting him. Given the media storm surrounding Mike Krzyzewski‘s potentially rule-breaking recruitment of Poythress during the July recruiting period we have to say this is sort of humorous. We doubt that Duke will ever discuss why they were no longer interested in Poythress so the entire incident will probably just end up being something relegated to Internet message boards like the Myron Piggie saga.
  3. We normally stick to college basketball, but we found Malcolm Gladwell’s article on the financial incentives of some professional franchises (in this case the New Jersey Brooklyn Nets) particularly insightful in light of the current NBA work stoppage and all the debates about NCAA finances. While we have had our qualms with Gladwell’s analysis in the past (see here) he does an excellent job of distilling a rather complex issue into a simple one. Just remember this article and the example of Bruce Ratner when you hear a team or school talking about taking a significant loss on a sport. We aren’t saying that some schools/teams don’t lose money as we firmly believe that many programs are in the red, but it is something you should look at with a grain of salt.
  4. Speaking of the new Barclay Arena, the Atlantic 10 has decided to move its conference tournament there starting in 2013. While we wouldn’t consider this a major coup, it is a nice addition and will help build up the marketability of Barclay’s for more sporting events in the future. As for the Atlantic 10, this will the fifth venue for the post-season tournament since 2000, but does stay close to their major geographic region, which has traditionally been Philadelphia. We are guessing that both Barclay’s and the conference hope that this location can be a little bit longer-lasting than some of the recent previous sites even if the stability of many conference is questionable at best.
  5. When Memphis added Luke Walton to its staff we thought it was little more than a cute marketing gimmick, but it appears that Josh Pastner is serious about utilizing Walton as he has been taking him on recruiting visits including one to visit Alex Poythress who has kept Memphis on his list (unlike Duke). While we do find this entire experiment interesting we do question the impact that Walton’s presence has on the recruits since (1) Walton didn’t play at Memphis, (2) he has no tie to the school other than knowing the coaching staff, and (3) he is gone as soon as the NBA ends its work stoppage. If we were a top high school recruit, Walton coming into our house would mean a lot less than someone like John Calipari or Mike Krzyzewski coming as Walton is nothing more than a celebrity fan kind of like Justin Timberlake except that our sister wouldn’t be going crazy when Walton walks in the house.
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Legion of Doom: Figuring the All-Villain Teams For Selected Schools

Posted by rtmsf on September 26th, 2011

The ongoing NBA lockout is resulting in some unintended but interesting effects related to college basketball.  This offseason has already produced a handful of ‘alumni games,’ featuring former players of recent vintage, including some at two of the most storied programs in the sport, Kansas and Kentucky, in addition to last week’s Jimmer All-Stars at BYUSaturday night’s Legends of the Phog in Lawrence was a jam-packed extravaganza of KU hoops that ended in a 111-111 tie as Mario Chalmers nailed a trey at the buzzer (who else?).

You’ll recall that a team called the Kentucky Pros scrimmaged John Calipari‘s Dominican Republic team twice back in mid-August, losing twice in games at Rupp Arena and Yum! Center in exhibitions that sometimes resembled pick-up than organized basketball.  Still, both games were well attended (23k at Rupp, 15k at Yum) and with current professionals like Rajon Rondo, Jodie Meeks, Patrick Patterson and others sitting around these days rather than preparing for NBA training camps, WKYT-TV has reported that there are plans to send these and other former UK players on a barnstorming tour around the state against various “villains” from their collegiate days.

Who Represents the Legion of Doom For Your School?

We actually love this idea, if for no other reason than the potential crowd reactions to some of the villains, reported as “Kemba Walker, Rudy Gay, Tyler Hansbrough, Nolan Smith, Eric Gordon, Terrence Williams, Joakim Noah, Kenneth Faried and Shelvin Mack.”  For Kentucky fans from Pikeville to Murray, there’s some serious villain juice here.  Hansbrough was a Tubby Smith recruiting flash point; Gordon and Williams played for hated Indiana and Louisville teams; Noah was the most despised SEC player of the last decade.

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Morning Five: 09.26.11 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on September 26th, 2011

  1. We guess this technically is still news even though we don’t buy the whole “BREAKING” aspect that the mainstream media has tried to make it out to be, but we guess we have to mention that the SEC has formally accepted Texas A&M into the conference with its first games starting next season. If there is anything noteworthy with this announcement it is that the SEC has basically called out the Big 12 schools that threatened legal action and told them to go ahead and file their ridiculous lawsuit because no reasonable court would accept it. Of course, our next reaction was that now that the SEC has 13 teams in the conference for next season they will need to get a 14th team pretty soon. Of course, we all know what that means. More conference expansion rumors. . .
  2. Former Connecticut star Tate George was arrested late last week on accusations that he defrauded investors of nearly $2 million in a Ponzi scheme based on the premise that he was operating a $500 million real estate portfolio. The details of the reported scheme are kind of complex and are detailed in great length in the well-investigated piece that we linked, but things do not look good for the former UConn legend who hit what would have been “The Shot of the 1990 NCAA Tournament” before Christian Laettner hit the first of his two “The Shot”s. Given the involvement of former Stanford point guard Brevin Knight we wonder if there will be more names of prominent college basketball coaches and players coming out in the near future.
  3. Taylor Branch made waves recently with his prodigious article in The Atlantic (discussed here) that generated quite a bit of discussion online, but was met with little public resistance until Seth Davis decided to chime in with a dissection of Branch’s column. For his part, Branch has responded to Davis (sort of) where he concedes several of the points that Davis makes, but points out several other major issues in his article that Davis did not address. However, the most interesting thing to us is that Branch essentially uses his literary glove to challenge Davis to a podcast duel. As much as we are looking forward to this confrontation (Seth, stick to sports and avoid civil rights) we are also looking forward to speaking with Mr. Branch later this week about the issue, which we will update you on when we have more details.
  4. We have started our series highlighting the schedules of some of the top teams in the country. Andy Glockner at SI.com has taken a slightly different approach as he has chosen to highlight/call out the teams that play some highly suspect schedules. The list runs the gamut from 3 of the top 5 teams in the country (not counting some middling program called Duke) to a team that has never made the NCAA Tournament. We have not had a chance to go through every single team’s schedule yet (don’t worry, it is coming), but we think there are probably a few other BCS conference teams that are not featured that have pretty embarrassing non-conference schedules. However, based on the schools that Glockner selected we are guessing that he had some pretty interesting e-mails this week.
  5. After deciding to go public with his diagnosis of prostate cancer in April Steve Lavin has decided to undergo treatment. At the current time Lavin is deciding between surgery and/or radiation therapy and will make the decision within the next two weeks to treat what the team’s physician described as a “relatively low-grade cancer”. According to St. John’s, Lavin is not expected to miss any time and should be able to rejoin the team for their first practice in mid-October. We wish Lavin the best of luck with whichever treatment option he pursues.
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Kevin Parrom In Stable Condition After Being Shot On Saturday Morning

Posted by nvr1983 on September 25th, 2011

According to various reports, Arizona junior Kevin Parrom was shot in the right leg early on Saturday morning during a trip home to New York City. Parrom was reportedly going home to spend time with his mother to support her for an undisclosed medical condition. While Parrom has not issued a statement yet, sources are reporting that the shooting was related to an argument over a woman who was visiting Parrom. In addition, Parrom’s AAU coach has reported that Parrom is doing well and is already walking. Arizona coach Sean Miller issued the following statement: “I have been in contact with Kevin and his family throughout the weekend and look forward to his return to Tucson and being back in class this week. Our focus is on Kevin’s health right now. Once we have more information, we’ll be able to address his potential return to team activities.”

Parrom Appears To Be Doing Well After The Shooting (Credit: Pat Shannahan/The Arizona Republic)

Even with a loaded incoming freshman class Parrom should have an opportunity to build on a solid sophomore season where he averaged 7.6 PPG and 3.4 RPG as he will get more time with the ball in his hands with the departure of Derrick Williams to the NBA basketball limbo. Like Miller, we wish Parrom the best of luck in his recovery and hope to see big things from him once he recovers.

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Did the Big 12 Save Itself Thursday? Depends on Whom You Ask…

Posted by rtmsf on September 23rd, 2011

There’s reason to believe that the Big 12 will survive for at least another year with the news Thursday that two of the conditions most desired by several of its remaining member institutions will come to fruition.  Well, they hope, at least.  The first condition, reportedly required by Oklahoma (but presumably other schools as well), was that Commissioner Dan Beebe be ousted from his position as a result of what is widely viewed as executive incompetence in the face of serious and repeated threats to the existence of the league.  His mutually agreed-upon ‘resignation’ was accepted by the remaining schools Thursday night.

The conference’s board of directors conducted a wide-ranging teleconference Thursday on the future of the league as Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe negotiated a “mutual agreement” with the league to leave his job immediately. Beebe will be replaced on an interim basis by former Big Eight commissioner Chuck Neinas, 79, one of the most widely respected insiders in college football.

Facing the destruction of his conference for the second time in 16 months, Beebe was the easy scapegoat here, but the bitter irony he must taste in retirement is that some of the very measures he attempted to institute — namely, better revenue sharing and stronger disincentives to leave — are now getting pushed by several remaining schools as absolute necessities to safeguard the future of the league.  One of those remedial measures (and the second condition) involves locking schools into a long-term commitment to the conference by collectively agreeing to give up their ‘first-tier’ and ‘second-tier’ rights to televised broadcasts of their games for the next six years, otherwise known as a “grant of rights.”  From the NYT:

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