Morning Five: 02.08.12 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on February 8th, 2012

  1. The biggest news Tuesday was that Memphis, one of the best non-power conference basketball programs in America both now and historically, will join the Big East for the 2013-14 season. Whether the Big East that it joins a little over a year from now will resemble itself now is anybody’s guess, but at least this move goes toward shoring up the basketball value of the league that was threatened by prospectively losing Pittsburgh, Syracuse and West Virginia. Central Florida, Houston and SMU are fine, but none of them exactly inspire much confidence when it comes to replacing those annual NCAA Tournament contenders. This is a good move for both Memphis and the Big East in reopening some old Metro/Great Midwest rivalries between Louisville, Cincinnati and the Tigers, but in the shifting sands of conference realignment theater, it’s difficult to know just how long such an arrangement might last.
  2. While on the subject of change begetting more change, the North Dakota Fighting Sioux nickname is back in the national spotlight after supporters of the moniker turned in a petition comprised of over 17,000 signatures to force a June referendum on the subject matter. What this means is that once the Secretary of State approves the signatures, a state law that was repealed last November requiring all school teams to be known as the Fighting Sioux would once again be promulgated into law. If the referendum in June then was passed by the voters, the school would have no choice but to re-institute the nickname. The problem with all of this, of course, is that the NCAA has made its position known — North Dakota will not be allowed to host NCAA-sponsored events, and its teams could be banned from wearing uniforms with the nickname or logo in postseason competition. This could make for a very odd legal situation if the schools is required by law to wear the Sioux uniforms but cannot compete in NCAA-sponsored events.
  3. Kentucky‘s 78-58 domination of Florida last night dominated the Twitter-verse last night with discussion ranging from the Wildcats’ spectacular defense (Jimmy Dykes) to its season-best offense (Ken Pomeroy) to whether Anthony Davis is the front-runner for National Player of the Year. In the absence of a dominant juggernaut this season, everyone seems ready to anoint John Calipari’s squad as that team. If only we crowned national champions before Valentine’s Day… Luke Winn, Mike DeCourcy, and Gary Parrish all checked in with columns about the excellent play of the Cats, but we as the media should be careful to not overrate a blowout win in Rupp against a Florida team that plays awful defense and has a marginal interior game. We’ll honestly be more impressed if the Cats go into Memorial Gymnasium at Vanderbilt on Saturday and punishes the Commodores in much the same way.
  4. Jim Calhoun is no quitter and nobody will ever accused the three-time national champion of being one. Yet how could anyone blame him if he decided to retire from coaching basketball after his diagnosis with spinal stenosis, his latest in a series of ailments and one that kept him bedridden for several days last week? In an interview with Andy Katz on Tuesday, Calhoun said that this is just another “obstacle” that he plans on getting through and that “there’s no question” he will be back on the Connecticut sideline coaching his team soon. Coming off a destructive loss at Louisville on Monday that had at least one UConn beat writer accusing the players of quitting, Calhoun needs to get back to his spot on the bench as soon as possible. He’s not expected to be back for Saturday’s game at Syracuse, but if he doesn’t return soon, his team may be beyond repair.
  5. Tonight might be the best evening of college basketball on paper that you’ll see all year, with Georgetown visiting Syracuse, Duke visiting North Carolina, and Kansas visiting Baylor. There are so many great storylines heading into these games, but one of the few that really caught our eye was this piece on Duke’s Austin Rivers. Whether you love him or hate him (and few people around the country fall in the middle on Rivers), at least he’s honest. He says that one of the reasons he recoils from criticism, whether on or off the court, is because like his hero Kobe Bryant he lives his life and plays basketball with a significant chip on his shoulder. It began with the seemingly constant references to him as “Doc’s kid” as he was growing up, and it has only continued as he moved into the white-hot cross-hairs of becoming a star at Duke.
rtmsf (3970 Posts)

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