Morning Five: 08.28.12 Edition
Posted by nvr1983 on August 28th, 2012
- Long before Coach K, JJ Redick, Christian Laettner, or Johnny Dawkins, Duke basketball was defined by one name only: Art Heyman. One of only 13 Blue Devils to have his number retired and perhaps more influential in creating Duke basketball than any other single player in its illustrious history, the three-time All-American and 1963 NPOY died yesterday at his home in Florida at the age of 71 years old. Prior to Heyman’s arrival on the Durham campus, Duke had been a plucky third fiddle in the Triangle region to the much more powerful programs down the road in Chapel Hill and Raleigh. Consider this fact: When Heyman arrived at Duke (after the New Yorker reneged on a commitment to UNC, incidentally), the Blue Devils had only been a grand total of two NCAA Tournaments in its history with one Elite Eight appearance to show for it in 1960. Heyman took Vic Bubas’ Blue Devils to its first-ever Final Four during his senior season, setting in motion the blossoming of a legitimate Tobacco Road basketball program over the next half-century that would go on to 32 more NCAA Tournament appearances, 16 more Elite Eights, and 14 more Final Fours (not to mention Coach K’s four national titles). Heyman is one of the all-time ACC greats, bearing the shared distinction of one of only three players in conference history to receive first team all-ACC accolades three years in a row (NC State’s David Thompson and UNC’s Tyler Hansbrough were the others). Anybody who traded punches with Larry Brown is OK in our book, and hopefully Heyman is resting in peace secure in the knowledge of his eternal influence at Duke and in the ACC.
- Coming into the season Indiana will be at or near the top of every preseason poll you will see, but one Hoosier who will not be along for the ride is Matt Roth. Who is Matt Roth? That’s a good question, but you will probably hear more about him over the next few days than you did in his previous four years in Bloomington. Roth has been a Hoosier since the 2008-09 season but only completed three seasons of his eligibility after redshirting his sophomore year with a foot injury early that year. Roth was hoping to be a member of a Hoosier team that appears to be a legitimate national title contender next season, but he appears to have been caught in a numbers game as the odd man out with too many players on scholarship. While some may view this as a harsh outcome for a loyal Hoosier, it is worth noting that Roth received a four-year scholarship to Indiana, where picked up both a bachelor’s and master’s degree during his time on campus. Still, the entire situation and the way it went down (Tom Crean basically told him that he could use him as a job reference) might rub some people the wrong way.
- While most writers are focused on the hotbeds of the AAU circuit, Jeff Eisenberg has decided to take a look at the other end of the spectrum — Wyoming, the only state in the Lower 48 that does not have an AAU program and all the hardships that players and their families endure trying to earn a Division I scholarship. With no in-state AAU program available, players are forced to travel enormous distances on a regular basis over the summer to try to catch the wandering eyes of recruiters. As Eisenberg notes, all this effort very rarely results in Wyoming players achieving the desired result — a Division I scholarship. With all the money that these families have to spend, you have to wonder if these players might be better off staying at home working on their games and then using that extra money to pay for college if they don’t land that elusive scholarship.
- The concept of painting thematic murals onto a school’s basketball court appears to be continuing in earnest, as Long Beach State is the latest school to get in on the act by renovating its home court to look like just another afternoon on the courts down at Venice Beach. Unlike the Oregon tall firs floor — which we still think looks like a toddler upchucked all over the joint — the look at the Walter Pyramid Arena is considerably more subtle, with a couple of iconic palm trees painted on each side of the court. Truthfully, reaction to this new look has been mixed, but we don’t mind it — the colors and images seem to fit the floor without dominating it, and The Beach is the sort of irreverent place where an alternative-look like this works well.
- As most high school seniors around the country have already returned to school or are about to do so, the top recruits in the Class of 2013 are starting to narrow down their options. One of the top five players in the class, Julius Randle, announced his list of final 10 schools on Twitter yesterday: Texas, Kansas, Baylor, North Carolina, Duke, Kentucky, NC State, Florida, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. The heavy Big 12 influence is no doubt a product of his location in the Dallas area, as five of those schools along with the usual national recruiting suspects show up on his list. With Jabari Parker also having narrowed his list to 10 schools and the Harrison twins setting a date for their announcement in late October, Jeff Borzello says that this year’s group is only now starting to come into focus.