Morning Five: 11.15.11 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on November 15th, 2011

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  1. Maybe you’ve forgotten or maybe you’re just dropping by, but today is pretty much a national holiday around these parts. One of ESPN’s better ideas, the 24-Hour Tip-Off Marathon, tipped off at Midnight ET last night in Spokane and is currently plowing its way through sunrise in the eastern time zone after stopovers in California and Hawaii overnight. Of course, the late night and morning games are mere appetizers to a $50 steak dinner coming up this evening when we’ll be rewarded with two games from the Champions Classic (Duke vs. Michigan State and Kentucky vs. Kansas) and a Top Ten matchup between Florida and Ohio State in Columbus. From Coach K’s pursuit of win #903 to the fascinating development of Cal’s young Cats to the return of OSU’s Jared Sullinger for a second season, storylines abound on this day. If you’re lucky enough to not have to work on a random Tuesday in November (hint, hint), strap yourselves in for a smorgasbord of college basketball a full week before you’re legally allowed to stuff your face.
  2. Of course, the top storyline of the day remains Mike Krzyzewski‘s chance tonight to become the sport’s all-time wins leader in Division I men’s basketball. Coming into the Champions Classic game against Michigan State this evening, Coach K sits tied with his former coach and mentor, Bob Knight, at 902 total wins, and if you believe in Vegas odds, he has a 72% chance of doing the trick tonight in Madison Square Garden. We’re sure that the testimonials for K’s greatness will come fast and furious all day long, but here’s two good interviews to get you started.  Former Duke superstar and all-around good guy Grant Hill spoke with TSN’s Ryan Fagan recently about K’s far-reaching positive influence on him, and recent graduate Nolan Smith spoke with TSN’s Mike DeCourcy about some of the life lessons K imparted to him as a father figure. Expect to see many more of these in the next 24-48 hours.
  3. What UCLA head coach Ben Howland needs is more attitude problems on his team. Let’s recap recent events, shall we? After the vaunted Class of 2008 recruiting class nearly brought his program to its knees through various busts, poor attitudes and problem children, it appeared that the Bruins may have been turning the corner by shedding itself of most of those players (Jerime Anderson, currently on suspension, remains). Then, over the weekend, sophomore center Joshua Smith tweeted that his team had lost to a bunch of “bums” after an opening night loss to Loyola Marymount — but perhaps worse than that, he ‘lol’-ed about it, suggesting an alarming irreverence from a player whom Howland needs to stay on the floor (he contributed a paltry 5/4 in only 16 minutes of action). The latest kerfuffle involves UCLA’s leading returning scorer and rebounder, Reeves Nelson, a player whom an ESPN report alleges is causing problems within the UCLA team as a result of his attitude. After skipping practice Monday, he has been suspended for tonight’s game versus Middle Tennessee State and his long-term future with the team appears in doubt. What in the name of the Wizard is going on in Westwood?
  4. Seth Davis gives us his Hoops Thoughts for the opening weekend of college basketball and his first point about the ridiculous (and slippery) decals stuck to the floors of the various pre-conference events around the country is a salient one.  As he points out, Michigan State’s Branden Dawson is only the latest of disasters averted, as his right knee buckled on a Quicken Loans decal for the Carrier Classic, and for a few minutes it appeared as if the injury may have been much worse than it was. What’s amazing about this phenomenon is that college athletics has all kinds of rules meant to protect players in its various sports from injury, and yet even after years of complaining from coaches and media alike, the decals stay. Here’s an idea that seems a reasonable compromise — use the yellow-line first down technology in football to digitally layer the advertising images onto the floor. That way, the dollars that support these events remain secured, but not at the expense of potentially losing a player to severe injury. What are we missing here?
  5. Perhaps not since Damon Bailey was recruited to Indiana in the late 1980s has a single player held so much hope and promise for the Crimson and Cream denizens of the Hoosier State.  But freshman Cody Zeller represents a new beginning to many IU fans wishing for a return to the glory days of Indiana basketball under the General and even before him, Branch McCracken. Basketball Prospectus takes a closer look at the enormous expectations that are being placed on the young player, effectively (and graphically) showing that he faces perhaps more homegrown pressure than any other major recruit in the last four years. Can’t say we disagree with the premise, but it’s a little unfair that so much is riding on a young man who may need some time to develop into an effective player at the Big Ten level.
rtmsf (3738 Posts)


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