Morning Five: 07.09.12 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on July 9th, 2012

  1. Kentucky head coach John Calipari will not be adding an Olympic medal to his trophy case in London this year after his Dominican Republic team lost to Nigeria at the Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Caracas, Venezuela, over the weekend. Interestingly enough, it was former Arizona State All-American Ike Diogu who pushed the Nigerians past the Dominicans, scoring 25 points including some key threes to earn the most valuable player award in the tournament. Although we can’t envision a scenario where Calipari could actually improve his recruiting pitch, UK fans are no doubt privately happy that Coach Cal will now have the next month available to get out on the road and evaluate future prospects. Louisville an former Puerto Rico head coach Rick Pitino, on the other hand, is quite clearly enjoying his summer vacation.
  2. While on the subject of the Louisville coach, WDRB’s Eric Crawford and Rick Bozich recently published a March interview transcript with the Cardinals’ talented-and-getting-better center Gorgui Dieng. The article — a notebook style commentary on area schools — also revealed that Indiana NPOY candidate Cody Zeller doesn’t think it’s a “big deal” that the UK-IU series has ended, and some discussion about the most indispensable players in college basketball next season. Worth a read if you have a few minutes.
  3. Missouri is a team that seemingly lost several indispensables in the forms of Marcus Denmon, Kim English and Ricardo Ratliffe. But with a number of key contributors returning, several elite transfers, and the return of Laurence Bowers from injury, Missouri insiders think that next year’s squad might be in even better position to make a run at the Final Four. Prior to last October’s injury, Bowers was widely considered the Tigers’ best returning player — if he returns his confidence and game from the latter part of 2010-11 and all the newcomers mesh with waterbug Phil Pressey and Michael Dixon, the SEC might get taken by storm in much the same way Arkansas entered the league some 20 years ago.
  4. It didn’t take long for South Florida head coach Stan Heath to cash in on his program’s success last season, where the Bulls won 22 games including the school’s first-ever NCAA Tournament wins (over California and Temple). Heath’s contract was extended by the school for three more years to 2017-18, and he now takes home a crisp $1.19 million annually (representing a 32% raise). Without question, Heath entered last season at USF on the hot seat, but with a number of returnees expected from one of the most efficient lockdown defensive teams in America, the Bulls could be on the verge of a sustained multi-year run of success. This is especially true with the overall downgrade in basketball talent that the Big East losses of West Virginia, Syracuse and Pittsburgh will enable — some program will happily fill that void.
  5. Old Dominion received some good news late last week when NC State transfer DeShawn Painter was ruled eligible by the NCAA to compete for the Monarchs next season. The rising senior moved back to the Hampton Roads area to be closer to his family and ailing great-grandmother, the woman who essentially raised him. ODU is in a tough spot next year as it has been banned from competing in the CAA Tournament, meaning that it will have to perform exceptionally well throughout the regular season to ensure a spot in the NCAA Tournament. The Monarchs have been involved in the NCAAs in four of the last seven seasons, and the addition of Painter as a beast on the low blocks will help toward that end. Last season on NC State’s Sweet Sixteen team, he averaged 6/4 in about 20 minutes per game, and his size and maturity will be a tremendous boon for Blaine Taylor’s team on the inside next year.
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