Big East Morning Five: 02.13.12 Edition

Posted by Patrick Prendergast on February 13th, 2012

  1. Connecticut is one step closer to a 2013 NCAA tournament ban for not meeting Academic Performance Rating (APR) standards. The NCAA denied the school’s appeal of the regulatory body’s previous ruling that Connecticut did not achieve the minimum score needed to participate. As part of its appeal Connecticut, who has already lost two scholarships due to APR issues, proposed self-correction by offering to give up regular season non-conference games, post-season revenue, and limiting contact with recruits. Tournament bans are part of more stringent APR rules and penalties as a result of changes made last year. Most notably the overall minimum APR required to avoid consequences was raised from 900 to 930. Scores are compiled over a two-year period. As a point of reference, Connecticut’s score last year that cost them the two scholarships was 826. So now Connecticut has two, albeit fleeting, glimmers of hope. First, they will file an appeal of the appeal with the NCAA Division I Committee on Academic Performance Subcommittee on Appeals and await another ruling. Second, it is possible the NCAA will alter the start of period used to determine omissions from next year’s tournament. Currently the 2009-10 year marks the starting point which means Connecticut would still be hurt by the year that factored into their previous score of 826. Should the current rules and ruling stand pat, it could have serious long term implications for the Huskies. With no chance at NCAA tournament play, the current roster could find itself in flux as NBA draft entry decisions of certain first-rounders Andre Drummond and Jeremy Lamb may opt to leave and recruiting will suffer. Not to mention potential impact on the future of head coach Jim Calhoun, who has missed games this season due to suspension and is currently out indefinitely for health reasons.
  2. Many of the 33,430 in attendance at the Carrier Dome on Saturday for #2 Syracuse’s win over Connecticut had to divide their attention between the action on the floor and one very high profile (and topped) spectator in Nerlens Noel.  Noel, as has been widely publicized, recently reclassified to the class of 2012, released a list of seven finalists and Syracuse is believed to be one of the leading contenders for his services. Noel attended the game along with his Tilton School teammate, and highly regarded class of 2013 recruit in his own right, Goodluck Okonoboh. Okonoboh also holds a scholarship offer from Syracuse. This was not Noel’s first trip to Syracuse. He attended the Orange’s Midnight Madness event in October, but Saturday likely served as the more impressive visit given the reception he received from the fourth largest crowd in Carrier Dome history. In addition to chants and signs dedicated to Noel, several students paid homage to the 6’10” star’s hairstyle by donning paper flat-top hats. After the game Noel and Okonoboh were welcomed into the Syracuse locker room and spent time with Orange assistant coach Mike Hopkins.
  3. It appears the legal wrangling between West Virginia University and the Big East will be coming to an end as reports indicate a settlement has been reached that will allow West Virginia to depart for the Big 12 in July, which will allow them to play Big 12 football next season. According to the reports, a total of $20 million will be paid to the Big East with $11 million coming from the university and the remainder from the Big 12. West Virginia has already paid $2.5 million to the Big East of what was originally a $5 million exit fee. The conference has since agreed to increase its exit fee to $10 million. The settlement came after a Rhode Island court ordered mediation on the heels of lawsuits filed by West Virginia and the Big East against one another over timing requirements for the move. Big East bylaws call for a 27-month notice period, but West Virginia thought it should be able to leave right away despite being part of the process that resulted in the clause. It is presumed that Pittsburgh and Syracuse, who are headed to the ACC and have yet to officially challenge the current notice period, will now want similar treatment to that of West Virginia. If that happens, the Big East will be left with five football playing schools for the 2012-13 season while they await the arrival of Boise State, Central Florida, Houston, Memphis, Navy, and Southern Methodist at different periods over the next few years.
  4. Georgetown’s Otto Porter may not yet resonate in the consciousness of the casual college basketball fan but the versatile 6’8”, 205 pound freshman forward has been far from unnoticeable, especially among opposing players and coaches. In fact, as this interesting Southeast Missourian piece by Kevin Winters Morriss points out, Porter has enjoyed the overall transition to college ball and college life alike. While somewhat under the radar, Porter has put together a standout inaugural campaign for the twelfth-ranked Hoyas (19-5, 9-4). The lack of attention is perhaps due to the fact that Porter has done most of his damage in a reserve role, and that suits him just fine. He is still third on the team in minutes at 28.7 per game, fourth in scoring at 8.8 points per game and first in rebounding at 7.0 per game.  The Missouri native underwent a similarly lowish-profile recruitment despite absolutely dominating his high school competition. This was in large part because he elected not to play on the image is everything AAU circuit. In fact, Porter’s first trip in an airplane came when he visited Georgetown as a high school senior. A few short months later he was on his way to China with his new Hoya teammates. Despite the apparent degree of his adjustment, Porter appears to be mature beyond his years as evidenced by the praise of his coach, John Thompson III, “He came in and he understands how to compete at this level and understands that every part of the game matters. A lot of kids these days, they come in [and] all they think about is shots and scoring. Otto is someone that takes pride in rebounding, in defense and tips and deflections and talking on defense. I would love to sit here and say I was a part of that, but he walked in the door understanding just how to compete at this level.”
  5. Can we be the first to say that Louisville’s Wayne Blackshear is ready to shoulder the load?  It has been a long and winding road for the highly touted freshman guard, but he finally made his Cardinals debut on Saturday and may find himself a key cog down the stretch as Louisville positions itself for post-season play. Blackshear has been out all year after suffering a torn labrum in his right shoulder during practice last October in what was feared at the time to be a season ending injury. The newcomer faced a couple of additional obstacles in his quest to wear Cardinals’ red as the torn labrum came only shortly after Blackshear was cleared to play by the NCAA Clearinghouse, which was just after he was able to resume basketball activity upon recovering from surgery on his other shoulder. Blackshear, who did not know he would play on Saturday until head coach Rick Pitino told him so in pre-game warm ups, provided a solid contribution in the Cardinals 77-74 comeback win over West Virginia, logging 13 points and four rebounds in 20 minutes of action. He hit the first shot he took, a three-pointer, en route to three treys in the game. In a post-game interview Blackshear predicted it would take another couple of weeks before he gets back to 100 percent, citing continued strength work on his shoulder as well as simply needing time to round into overall basketball shape.
Patrick Prendergast (74 Posts)

Twitter: @FriarFrenzy


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