Morning Five: 08.29.12 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on August 29th, 2012

  1. North Carolina’s title hopes were quite clearly derailed last season when point guard Kendall Marshall broke his wrist on a drive during the Heels’ Round of 32 game against Creighton. Not many people remember, though, that Marshall’s injury was actually the second devastating injury among UNC guards last year. Shooting guard (and, most importantly, the backup point to Marshall) Dexter Strickland went down with an ACL injury in a mid-January game against Virginia Tech, leaving Roy Williams’ team particularly vulnerable when its All-American lead guard suffered another season-ending injury two months later. Enough about the bad memories for Tar Heel fans, though — the good news is that the rising senior Strickland announced on Twitter Monday that he has been physically cleared to play basketball again. It will certainly take the talented and experienced shooter some time to get his game legs and on-court confidence back, but with six weeks left until Midnight Madness, he’ll have sufficient time to do so.
  2. Last week we mentioned that Xavier’s Dez Wells was expelled from school for some unnamed violation of university rules. Speculation was rampant as to Wells’ alleged transgression at the time, but news released on Tuesday cleared up that matter while also offering an astonishing contrast in information. Local prosecutors in Cincinnati presented information to a grand jury involving allegations of sexual assault against Wells, but — keeping in mind the old adage that a grand jury will indict a ham sandwich — the group of citizens hearing the evidence refused to charge the former Xavier star with any criminal offense. The burden of proof on a grand jury to bring an indictment is much, much lower than on a criminal jury to convict someone, so the fact that XU was so quick and final in its decision to expel Wells is somewhat surprising. So surprising, in fact, that the Hamilton County (OH) prosecutor Joe Deters suggested that the university would do well for itself to “revisit the situation.” A Xavier spokesperson reiterated that the school’s decision is final, but as we alluded to last week, short of a criminal charge, much less a conviction, there will be a number of high-major schools lining up for a shot to woo the all-A-10 rookie — it appears that Louisville, Texas, and Memphis currently top his list.
  3. For some reason or another, a debate about the 35-second college shot clock was ignited on Tuesday because of ESPN.com’s back-and-forth post between writers Eamonn Brennan and Myron Medcalf. While we’re not going to lose any sleep over this particular issue, we see the merits on both sides of the debate (proponents of the change want a quicker paced game, while supporters of the current clock enjoy the diversity of styles that it engenders). From our point of view, the 24-second clock at the professional level has always seemed a bit too fast — if a team’s initial offensive set doesn’t work, then there’s barely enough time for a simple reset to find another good shot. All too often in the pro game, the 24-second shot clock conspires to eliminate good ball movement in favor of just getting something up on the rim. That additional 11 seconds afforded teams in the college game — largely filled with less talented and less athletic players than in the NBA, mind you — grants players a better chance to work the ball into a good situation that can result in a score. Our biggest fear of a 24-second clock in college is that the game would become incredibly sloppy as teams regularly scramble to find a single halfway-reasonable shot before time expires. Our take is that if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it — let’s keep the 35-second clock and work on some of the more pressing problems facing the game today.
  4. We don’t officially allow ourselves to get excited about the coming season until after Labor Day, but one of the fundamental truths about this dry period bridging the start of school and the beginning of practice is the annual release of a number of team profile pieces. They’re somewhat formulaic in content, but they’re always informative and worth your time if you’re starving like we are for meaningful basketball. SI.com‘s Dan Greene took a recent look at the much-maligned Connecticut program, concluding that the remaining talent in Storrs is not likely to stand by and watch the program go down the tubes without a fight. Meanwhile, over at CBSSports.com, Matt Norlander writes that Arkansas’ Mike Anderson is busily putting his own stamp on the Program That Nolan Built. Anderson clearly believes that his Hawgs should be considerably better than last year’s 18-14 squad that crumbled to a 2-9 finish down the stretch.
  5. Finally, we mentioned in yesterday’s M5 that former Duke NPOY Art Heyman passed away. Our description of his contributions to Duke basketball couldn’t do the man justice, so we thought it would be worthwhile to link to a couple of the best obituaries about the man. The Charlotte Observer dug deeper into the notorious fight in which Heyman and Larry Brown engaged during a 1961 ACC game between Duke and North Carolina that, as Andrew Carter argues, “ignited what became college basketball’s greatest rivalry.” The story also delves into a period in the 90s when Heyman claimed to have cut all ties from his alma mater, but that feud appears to have cooled in recent years. Meanwhile, the Fayetteville Observer took the time to patch together a number of good quotes and memories about one of the greatest collegians that the ACC has ever seen.
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