Big East Morning Five: 03.30.12 Edition
Posted by Patrick Prendergast on March 30th, 2012
- When it rains it pours for a Connecticut program that remains in flux, primarily due to the impending NCAA tournament ban faced by the Huskies next year due to a sub-standard Academic Progress Rate (APR) score. Well, Jim Calhoun and company may be facing the death nail now that the Big East has ruled it will follow suit and keep Connecticut out of next year’s Big East Tournament should the NCAA ban hold up under appeal. Big East spokesman John Paquette, while in New Orleans for the Final Four, said that Big East Presidents met on March 7 to discuss the matter and came to a “conceptual agreement”. Prior that declaration the Big East had no official position on a team’s conference tournament status should it be banned from NCAA tournament play. In fact, the new rule goes against past precedent as Syracuse was allowed to play in the 1993 Big East tournament despite not being allowed to plan in the NCAA Tournament. There is no official time table with regard to a ruling on Connecticut’s APR ban appeal, but it could come as late as July because of the NCAA Committee on Academic Performance’s (CAP) meeting schedule.
- We noted here yesterday that CBS Sports’ Jeff Goodman tweeted that three Providence players: sophomores Gerard Coleman and Ron Giplaye along with red shirt junior Bilal Dixon were looking to transfer, noting that Giplaye and Dixon were “definitely” gone, while Coleman “could” be. In response to Goodman’s claim, a post out of Providence quoted head coach Ed Cooley as saying, “the report out there is not true as far as I’m concerned.” Cooley did confirm that Dixon, who is in his fourth year and graduating, will not be with the Friars next year. As for Coleman and Giplaye, Cooley said he met with each of his players on Tuesday and there was no mention from Coleman, Giplaye or anyone else about transferring. Despite Cooley’s comments, rumors remain strong that both players will, in fact, be leaving. Not all of this is new information. Dixon’s status was leaked about midway through the season and it was sealed when Providence conducted senior night festivities in his honor at their last home game. After the game Dixon addressed the crowd, saying that he will miss Providence. As part of that mid-season buzz, both Dixon and Giplaye were said to be transferring to Towson where former Providence assistant, Pat Skerry, is the head coach. Wagner has also been mentioned as a destination for Dixon, who is a New Jersey native.
- There were no reported fights between Louisville and Kentucky fans yesterday in dialysis centers, beauty parlors, hardware stores or any of the usual venues of conflict so we are going to stretch this Providence transfer story into a buy none, get two free special this morning. As noted in the GoLocalProv.com report referenced and linked above, Gerard Coleman and Ron Giplaye were teammates with AAU powerhouse BABC. BABC, of course was also the home of some guy named Nerlens Noel who you may have heard of. Noel was recently the subject of a controversial New York Times piece that, in part, focused on his relationship with Chris Driscoll. Driscoll was a Providence assistant under former head coach Keno Davis who rose to that level more than in part due to his involvement and connections with BABC. Driscoll, who is believed to still have an advisory relationship with Noel, was depicted in the article as using less than honorable tactics to secure players and climb the ladder. It is not known if Driscoll continues to have a relationship with Giplaye or Coleman but the GoLocalProv.com piece speculated that he could be the source. Interestingly, should Giplaye and Coleman transfer that would run the total to three BABC alums looking to leave Big East schools, as they would join former Connecticut big man Alex Oriakhi in looking for new homes.
- It appears Louisville head coach Rick Pitino will have to put his Hall of Fame dream on hold for at least another year. Pitino was a finalist for induction into the Naismith Hall of Fame but, according to an ESPN.com report, was informed yesterday that he was not selected. Pitino, who was reportedly and understandably disappointed about the news, is preparing for his sixth Final Four with a record three different schools (Providence and Kentucky were the others). While we are sure Pitino would have loved to get the nod this year, it is just a matter of time before he gains induction.
- We have kept you posted on the recruitment of Chris Obekpa, a 6’9” center in the class of 2012 that is highly coveted among Big East schools. Oregon has emerged as a late contender in the sweepstakes and Obekpa will take an official visit to Eugene before making his decision. Cincinnati, Connecticut, DePaul, Providence, and St. John’s appear to be the finalists along with Oregon, but other schools remain in the mix. Obekpa has officially visited Cincinnati, DePaul and St. John’s, while paying unofficials to Connecticut and Providence on the same day. His teammate at New York’s Our Savior New American (OSNA), Felix Balamou, recently gave a verbal commitment to Steve Lavin and St. John’s which prompted talk of a package deal but OSNA assistant coach Eric Jaklitsch remains steadfast that Obekpa and Balamou’s decisions are mutually exclusive of one another. Obekpa will be playing in the All-American Championship, an all-star showcase event, on Sunday in New Orleans.