Morning Five: 10.17.11 EditionPosted by rtmsf on October 17th, 2011
- And so begins the shortest ‘preseason’ in all of sports, the 24 days between the start of official practice — as celebrated by Midnight Madness all across the country on Friday night — and the opening games of the 2kSports Coaches vs. Cancer Classic, on November 7. It’s an astonishingly short window, but all that means is that we’re that much closer to seeing bona fide college basketball on our televisions and in our local arenas very soon. Let’s get you caught up. On Friday night we put together a Storytelling piece capturing some of the excitement around the land as MM tipped off everywhere. Yesterday we put together a list of the 13 best dunks from this year’s proceedings, several of which will have you drooling in anticipation for more. Immediately following this post, we’ll publish the most interesting Friday night clips from several of the blue-blooded programs like Duke, Kentucky, Connecticut, Kansas, North Carolina and several others. Midnight Madness weekend is great because it represents a new beginning — every team is still unblemished and ostensibly has an equal shot at doing something special. Welcome to next year.
- During ESPNU’s Midnight Madness coverage Friday night, Andy Katz spent as much time talking football through the lens of conference realignment scenarios as he did discussing his favored sport. Word leaked during the broadcast that the Big East had reportedly offered five schools membership to the conference — Houston, SMU and Central Florida in all sports, and Boise State and Air Force in football only. The goal, of course, is to keep the conference’s automatic BCS bid, but each step ‘forward’ appears increasingly desperate for a league that built its reputation on basketball three decades ago and has never really been that significant on the gridiron. As Lenn Robbins writes in the NY Post, the conference doesn’t expect to announce any movement until after the Big East’s basketball media day this week, but we truly feel that grabbing schools without regard for regional ties and rivalries is a shortsighted strategy doomed to ultimately fail. The non-BCS Big East schools very seriously considered walking away from the rest of this madness, and who would blame them at this point?
- Aaron Torres writes that this will be a “golden season” in college basketball, and he makes a compelling case for his argument. As everyone here already knows, the number of elite players who returned to college rather than face an NBA lockout, when combined with an exceptional class of incoming freshmen, could produce a quality of depth in the sport that we haven’t seen in a number of years. Torres contends that the last time college basketball was this talented was in 1995-96, at the cusp of the preps-to-pros trend (Kevin Garnett skipped college that year) and featuring upperclassman stars such as Allen Iverson, Marcus Camby, Tim Duncan, Steve Nash, Ray Allen, among others. Let’s hope that the NBA’s eventual collective bargaining agreement makes seasons like this the future norm with a two-and-done rule allowing us to enjoy players for a couple of years prior to moving on to the professional ranks.
- Seth Davis gives us answers to his ten burning questions as we head into the 2011-12 season. Starting today, we plan on rolling out our own list of 20 questions over the next several weeks, but we can guarantee you that none of ours will involve Utah State senior superfan, Bill Sproat. We’re honestly not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing, but the one answer he gives that we can completely get on board with is #7 — which underachieving big man will make a giant leap? The answer to that question is legitimately the difference between his team being a borderline Top 10 to 15 squad and the overall best team in America. Tell us what you think.
- Kansas released some disappointing news on Friday afternoon just before its Late Night in the Phog celebration. Two more members of its freshman class, Ben McLemore and Jamari Traylor, will join Braeden Anderson as ineligible to play this season because of high school transcript issues (all three attended three different high schools). For a team suffering considerable losses of key personnel from last season’s Elite Eight squad, this is another blow to Bill Self’s aspiration to win an eighth straight Big 12 regular season title in 2011-12. He worked to temper expectations on Friday, especially now that his Jayhawks are down to eight legitimate players and in need of significant improvements from returnees such as Tyshawn Taylor and Thomas Robinson. If Self can outlast Baylor, Missouri and Texas A&M again this year in the Big 12 race, he’ll certainly deserve any postseason COY accolades he gets.