Morning Five: 01.05.11 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on January 5th, 2012

  1. Legendary coach Gene Bartow died on Tuesday after a two-year battle with stomach cancer. Bartow, who may not be well-known to younger or more casual basketball fans, was an iconic figure in college basketball compiling a 647-353 record while making it to a national championship game at Memphis State (now Memphis) and another Final Four appearance at UCLA. In addition to those accomplishments, Bartow was also known as “The Father of UAB Athletics” and for being the man who had the unenviable job of following John Wooden at UCLA. While we tend to get a flood of media members and coaches complimenting the recently departed, the outpouring this time seemed unusually large and came from all over including people such as John Calipari who made a post about Bartow’s impact on his life.
  2. With the start of their ACC schedule right around the corner, North Carolina got a little boost as junior guard Leslie McDonald returned to practice for the first time since he tore his ACL this summer. While there is no timetable for McDonald’s return as he is practicing for short periods and essentially getting worked back into shape, his return could be a key piece for the Tar Heels in March as he would give them another outside shooter that they desperately need. Despite a relatively high three-point percentage at 38.8%, which is #34 nationally, the Tar Heels only take 21.5% of their shots from beyond the arc, which ranks #343 out of 345 teams nationally. With all the attention that UNC’s interior players get McDonald would have plenty of open looks and with his shooting ability he might be make the difference between a team that makes a deep run in March and one that cuts down the nets in New Orleans in April.
  3. We are sure that many Oklahoma State fans are aware of this, but we imagine that most of the rest of you were not aware that Travis Ford has lost his entire recruiting class from 2009. As Jeff Goodman notes this isn’t the first time that Ford has basically lost an entire recruiting class as this also happened when Ford was at Massachusetts and he had nine commitments in 2007 that he got almost nothing out of them. We are not sure what it is about Ford that has led to this happening twice in a relatively short period, but we suspect that it is something that his Big 12 recruiting rivals will be sure to point out to their common targets.
  4. Yesterday, The Naismith Hall of Fame announced its list of the 20 finalists for the Cousy Award that is given to the nation’s top point guard. We discussed the list in detail yesterday, but it is worth reviewing a couple key points regarding the list. The biggest one is that there was not a horrendous omission like there was last year when Jordan Taylor was initially left off the list of finalists. We imagine that the inclusion and exclusions of certain names will rile up some fan bases, but nothing close to the level of Taylor last year. The other that this appears to be a three-horse race although Scott Machado is a very intriguing mid-major darkhorse.
  5. Saint Joseph’s has been taking a beating in the court of public opinion, but even they have a fell-good story as Dana O’Neil showed us with her story on C.J. Aiken. Aiken who is probably known to most of the nation as a premier shot-blocker and one of the players who ended up taking minutes away from Todd O’Brien before his well-documented transfer attempt, but the reality is that there is a lot more to Aiken’s story. After enduring surgery and chemoradiotherapy for Burkitt’s lymphoma before he entered second grade, Aiken became more introverted and had to be coaxed into playing basketball by his mother. Now he is thriving as a sophomore at Saint Joseph’s and is one of the most electrifying and efficient players in the country.
nvr1983 (1397 Posts)

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