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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NCAA Legislation Proposing New Recruiting Freedoms Will Create More Inequality

Posted by Chris Johnson on August 28th, 2012

Chris Johnson is an RTC columnist. He can be reached @ChrisDJohnsonn

Every year the NCAA spends copious amounts of time monitoring secondary recruiting violations and doling out corresponding punishments to guilty programs. There are so many menial rule specifications within the organization’s 400-page rulebook and so many different ways to violate those specifications that recruiting has become a walking-on-eggshells process for most programs, with the fear of breaching protocol clouding every conversation, letter and official visit. This is a huge burden for coaches who, more than anything else, are just trying to run their teams in the most successful way possible without getting hung up in minor NCAA rule violations. When basic conversation between coach and prospect carries punitive repercussions, the formula needs wholesale upgrading. The angst and dismay over minor violations isn’t just a coach-player phenomenon. It affects the NCAA and the considerable investigatory work it must do to ensure its legislative scruples are enforced properly. There is a constant game played between coaches unwittingly violating protocol and the NCAA staff policing and dispensing punishment for those violations. Neither side is happy with their current state and yet the cumbersome violation-punishment cycle continues undeterred.

The proposed rule could radically alter the way major programs recruit players, particularly in football and men’s basketball (Photo credit: Darron Cummings/AP Photo).

The violations come in different forms, from impermissible contact with prospects to an overflow of text messages to providing bagels with cream cheese. Chief among NCAA recruiting no-no’s is the illegal use of program personnel outside of the designated coaching circle to contact prospective recruits. Only head coaches and assistant coaches can seek out, evaluate, and contact prospects. It’s a hard-line rule with severe implications: Very few members of each team’s staff are legally permitted to participate in the year-round recruiting process. As the distinction between coach and staff blurs with growing program personnel groups and the recruiting process demands a larger base of scouting resources, monitoring these sorts of violations has become an extremely frustrating process. The NCAA is downright exhausted, and it’s not hard to see why. A rule change is in the works to relieve the violation police work, according to Steve Yanda of the Washington Post, who on Saturday reported that the NCAA Rules Working Group has endorsed legislation that would eliminate the rule limiting recruiting matters to head and assistant coaches. The rule – which, if voted into approval, could go into effect as early as August 2013 – would allow “staff members now known as directors of operations or directors of player personnel to watch film of a prospect or to contact a prospect’s coach or guardian.” The man-to-man aspect of recruiting – official and unofficial campus visits, attending tournaments and events, and so on – would still be off-limits to anyone not considered by job title a head or assistant coach.

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Utah Week: Evaluating The Recent Past

Posted by AMurawa on August 28th, 2012

The Utah basketball program is at an all-time low. Last year’s 6-25 record was the worst single season in the history of the program, with a winning percentage below .200. The 1972-73 Ute team that won just eight games was the most recent team in school history to fail to garner at least double-digit wins. You have to go all the way back to 1928-29 to find a Utah team with fewer wins than last year’s squad, and that came in a season with a 17-game schedule. Coupled with the previous two seasons, the Utes now have gone three consecutive years without a winning record for the first time since that same 1928-29 team. All of which combines to make that opening statement — that the Utes are at a program low — fact, not merely opinion.

Rick Majerus, Utah

In The Eight Seasons Since Rick Majerus Left, Utah Has Reached Lows Unprecedented In Program History

The good news is, however, when you reach bottom, you’re usually able to push off and begin a new ascent. Trouble is, for a program with four Final Four appearances including one national title, this team is in previously un-swum waters. After years in the Mountain West or the WAC or the Skyline or Rocky Mountain conferences before those, the Utes are now in the Pac-12, playing against a level of competition higher than they’ve ever seen before. So, in the middle of a time of celebration around the athletic department over the money and exposure that comes as a part of their new conference affiliation, the Utes find themselves having to prove that they are capable of fielding a basketball program that can compete year in and year out with the major program with whom they are now affiliated.

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Big Ten Weekly Five: 08.28.12 Edition

Posted by Deepak Jayanti on August 28th, 2012


  1. ESPN has released a list of the 50 best college hoops programs over the past 50 years. The order is based on a scoring system that awards points for national titles, Final Four appearances and conference titles, but also penalizes the program for any NCAA violations or sanctions. The details of their exhaustive scoring system can be found on the ESPN blog. How did the Big Ten fare in this system? Indiana is the only top 10 team on this list, coming in at #7. Michigan State is ranked #11, with Michigan at #13 and Ohio State at #15, which adds up to four B1G teams in the top 15 of this list. College hoops fans love these types of lists and this leads to hours and sometimes days of debates about the efficiency of the scoring system or the historical significance of these programs. 
  2. Speaking of questions that could spark a debate, how about this one: “If you pick any active coach to lead your program, who would it be?” CBSSports.com conducted an anonymous poll among coaches and this was one of the questions posed. Michigan State’s Tom Izzo placed first with 27% of the vote followed by Kansas’ Bill Self at 23%. Now, the criteria on which the coaches voted is tough to decipher but Izzo’s rank should not come as a total surprise for a guy who has been so clutch in March and demands the respect of his players and rest of the coaches around the country. Izzo has won over 70% of his games at Michigan State and has created a culture of tough-nosed Spartan basketball since the mid-90s. 
  3. Matt Painter and the Purdue Boilermakers have released their non-conference schedule for the 2012-13 season. They will participate in the 2K Sports Classic  at Madison Square Garden after playing a couple of home games against opponents that have yet to be determined. The Boilers will play 10 games at home during the non-conference schedule and some of the key match-ups include contests against Xavier and West Virginia. The overall schedule is challenging yet does not seem to overbearing which is helpful for a team that has lost at least three starters from last season. They will field a young squad that needs some time to gel together before conference play begins and playing several tough but winnable games at home will be a huge confidence boost to youngsters such as Anthony Johnson and Terone Johnson. 
  4. Former Iowa Star Matt Gatens is heading overseas to play for a Spanish team, UCAM-Murcia. The team is located in Murcia, Spain, and Gatens has signed a one-year contract with the club after playing for the Phoenix Suns summer league team in July. Gatens hit for 41% shooting from beyond the arc and his long-range abilities make him a good fit for the European style of play. In recent years, some other former Iowa alumni such as Luke Recker and Jared Reiner have played in Spain as well. Gatens gives a lot of credit to Fran McCaffery for his improvement during his senior season as his scoring average increased from 12.6 PPG to 15.2 PPG. Many players take another shot at the NBA after a few seasons in Europe and Gatens has already indicated that he won’t give up his dream of playing in the US again after his time in Spain.
  5. Big Ten fans are aware of the new additions to the Michigan rotation in the 2012-13 season, specifically incoming freshmen Mitch McGary and Glenn Robinson, III. Both of these freshmen will be part of a great starting five as they will collaborate with returning players such as Jordan Morgan, Tim Hardaway, Jr., and Trey Burke. But John Beilein needs production from his bench in order to make a serious run at the Final Four and redshirt freshman Max Beilfeldt might be able to contribute after sitting out last season. The 6’7″ forward enoyed a successful high school career, averaging 20 PPG and 11.2 RPG during his senior season. The departure of Evan Smotrycz leaves some playing time for others and Beilfeldt might be one of those new faces in the rotation. MGoBlue‘s Morgan Bailey caught up with the redshirt freshman wing this offseason as he is eager to contribute to a potential national championship contender.
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Morning Five: 08.28.12 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on August 28th, 2012

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
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ACC Weekly Five: 08.27.12 Edition

Posted by mpatton on August 27th, 2012

  1. ESPN: Michael Snaer has major swagger. He’s coming off his best year yet and spent the summer dominating Lebron James’ and Kevin Durant’s respective camps. Here is a sampling of quotes that should make you not count Florida State out when predicting the ACC standings this year:
    • “If I’m not the best, I’m one of the best. I can’t be guarded.”
    • “I just straight destroyed people.”
    • “Anybody wants to prove me otherwise, come get it. […] That’s how I feel.”

    Those quotes may show something negative, but they sound a lot like a promise that another ultra-competitive combo-guard brought to fruition a few years ago.

  2. Raleigh News & Observer: Rodney Purvis still isn’t cleared to play, despite the NCAA last week approving him to take classes. Because of one of the NCAA’s many odd rules, Purvis wasn’t eligible to start classes at NC State the week prior because of an unrelated eligibility question. Purvis’ high school, the Upper Room Christian Academy, is being checked out. Purvis was part of the school’s first graduating class, which prompted the NCAA to vet his academics a little more closely. Purvis didn’t travel with the Wolfpack to Spain earlier this summer, though his eligibility should be decided in time for the regular season.
  3. Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Great news out of Atlanta, as Bobby Cremins is back at Georgia Tech after retiring from College of Charleston for health reasons at the end of last season. The longtime Yellow Jackets’ coach (and floor namesake) will be working with Brian Gregory and the athletic department to bring back as many of his former players as he can find for the season opener on November 9. So far the committee has contacted over 200 players and hopes to get in touch with nearly 500. It’s good to see Cremins back in the fold at Georgia Tech with his jokes and contagious grin.
  4. USA Today: Mark Turgeon is hoping to replace Terrell Stoglin “by committee” this year, and he’ll have to. The mercurial Maryland guard made up almost all of the Terrapins’ offense last season, and there’s no one on this year’s team with that sort of playmaking ability. Turgeon pointed out last year injuries made it where Stoglin had to do everything.
  5. Keeping It Heel: Reggie Bullock has been putting in work this summer and brought home the North Carolina ProAm MVP and Championship for his effort. Bullock’s summer play concluded with a 31-point game in the finals to seal his accolades. Bullock’s performance makes it seem like he’ll be relied on a lot by Roy Williams to replace much of the offense that left Chapel Hill for the NBA.
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Taking Stock of UConn’s Transfers: Who Ended Up Where?

Posted by Chris Johnson on August 27th, 2012

Christopher Johnson is an RTC columnist. He can be reached @ChrisDJohnsonn.

Between its poor chemistry, inconsistent performance in conference play and seemingly complacent disposition on the court, the 2011-12 UConn Huskies could never regain the competitive drive that propelled its National Championship effort one year earlier. Despite a wealth of returning talent – including small forward Jeremy Lamb, shooting guard Shabazz Napier and big men Alex Oriakhi and Roscoe Smith, not to mention a highly-touted freshmen class featuring center Andre Drummond and point guard Ryan Boatwright – Jim Calhoun’s squad never developed the leadership dynamic it needed and failed to discover an effective way to mesh together the holdovers from the previous season’s title-winning team. The powerhouse program experienced an unexpected down season, but that was the least of its concerns. As penalty for failing to meet the NCAA’s minimum four-year and two-year Academic Progress Rate (APR) standards, UConn was ruled ineligible for the 2013 postseason. Despite an appeal for alternate penalties and a waiver request – filed under the claim that recently instituted reforms had led to improved academic performance over the past two years – the NCAA held firm on its verdict. The program that just one year earlier was riding an all-time high after winning its third national championship had bottomed out, but the lost hope of a 2013 postseason appearance wasn’t nearly as concerning as the resulting personnel departures it prompted.

NCAA rules prevent Smith from playing this season, but he should join a talented UNLV frontcourt in 2013-14 (Photo credit: Julio Cortez/AP Photo).

Following UConn’s first-round NCAA Tournament loss to eight-seed Iowa State, the quasi-exodus began in earnest. First Oriakhi announced his intention to transfer, a move that – according to an NCAA rule enabling Oriakhi to bypass the customary one-year wait period because of UConn’s ineligibility for postseason play – enabled him to find a school with a legitimate chance of participating in the 2013 postseason. Big man Michael Bradley followed suit soon thereafter. Smith was the third to leave the program, marking a severe depletion of frontcourt talent and depth. And that’s without mentioning Lamb and Drummond, who – whether motivated by the postseason ban or otherwise – declared for the NBA Draft. The NCAA on Friday issued a ruling on Smith’s eligibility for the upcoming season. The result was hardly surprising, but it nonetheless compelled me to delve into the whereabouts of the three UConn transfers and investigate their prospects for the upcoming season. Below you’ll find a brief summary of each player’s state of affairs as they prepare for life at their respective new programs.

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Oregon State Week: Q&A With Building The Dam

Posted by Connor Pelton on August 27th, 2012

As part of our Oregon State week, we wanted to reach out to the guys at Building The Dam for their takes on the upcoming Beaver basketball season. Andy Wooldridge was kind enough to spend some time with us and give us his thoughts.

Rush The Court: Let’s get the most important topic out-of-the-way first. Jared Cunningham was the team’s top defender and threat on offense. How do you replace him, and is there any chance at improvement with him gone?

Building The Dam: There’s no one player who can replace Cunningham on this team. He was a rare player, the type who only comes along once every decade or so at programs like Oregon State. That doesn’t mean that the Beavers can’t collectively step up to the challenge, though. Ahmad Starks and Roberto Nelson must both find better consistency, and more consistent offense from the frontcourt wouldn’t hurt either. Defensively, Cunningham wasn’t a lockdown defender, and it wasn’t that unusual for some of the better guards in the conference to break him down with the dribble. Cunningham wasn’t that great at denying the perimeter shot either. These are two things Oregon State needs to improve on this season as a team, and that would have been the case even if Jared had returned for his senior season. But what he did have was both the anticipation and the acceleration to make opponents pay for a mistake, often explosively. It wouldn’t just be a four- to five-point swing, it would be a momentum changer. That’s going to be the toughest thing to replace. Challe Barton has a huge opportunity to step up and fill the void Cunningham left; we should know by Christmas whether he’s up to it.

Barton Will Have A Huge Opportunity To Step Up in 2012-13 (credit: Amanda Cowan)

RTC: Considering he’s churned out good recruiting class after good recruiting class and is already four years into his tenure, is there any pressure on Craig Robinson to make at least an NIT appearance in 2012-13?

BTD: Pressure? No. Expectations, yes. By that I mean there isn’t immediate pressure from the Athletic Director or the University President, who are the ones who matter. Remember, Robinson just delivered the best season in 22 years, and only the second winning record in that time frame. And they played an entertaining, high scoring style of ball in doing so. Both Bob De Carolis and President Ray remember the Jay John days very clearly. But fans are having expectations of even better things to come, at least the newer generation of them. Continued growth in attendance, which translates to continued growth of income, will only come with wins, and actual quality non-conference opponents, which only wins and fuller houses can deliver. If Robinson suffers another fallback as happened in the 2010-11 season, then the pressure will start to mount in the 2013-14 campaign in direct inverse to ticket sales and donations. Oregon State does not have a “quick hook” management style, so Robinson, like most coaches on campus, has more time to work with than would be the case at several other schools in the conference in any number of sports.

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Morning Five: 08.27.12 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on August 27th, 2012

  1. Worrisome news was released on Friday from Saint Louis University when the school announced that its head coach, Rick Majerus, will be taking a medically-related leave of absence next season, leaving top assistant coach Jim Crews in charge. According to SLU, Majerus is currently hospitalized in California “undergoing evaluation and treatment for an ongoing heart condition.” As we wrote after the news was released, this is the sort of thing that could mark  a turning point in the longtime head coach’s professional career. Majerus is well-known as a guy whom you can only keep out of the gym by padlocking its doors, so it’s no joke that he’s choosing to give up the thing he loves most in order to take care of his health. We wish him nothing but the best on this latest twist in his journey, and certainly hope that even if he never coaches another minute of college basketball, he has a number of productive and fulfilling years still ahead of him. As for his Billiken program, with the core of a Round of 32 team returning to St. Louis, Andy Glockner writes that Crews will inherit a squad with both significant expectations and the added specter of Majerus’ health hanging over the team. Crews had some success at Evansville a decade or more ago, but there is reason to question whether he’s up to the task of running what is undoubtedly a team with Top 25 talent.
  2. The other big news on Friday was the announcement from Marquette that assistant coach Scott Monarch had been dismissed and that head coach Buzz Williams will suffer a self-imposed one-game suspension for what are admittedly rather mild recruiting transgressions — Monarch gave team gear and transportation to an unnamed recruit. To be clear, there is no evidence that Williams himself knew about the illegal recruiting benefits — his suspension derives from the coach’s duty to monitor staff compliance. According to the Marquette athletic director, Larry Williams, Monarch’s mistakes became compounded when he allegedly lied about them during the school’s internal investigation — had he been truthful from the beginning, he’d probably still be employed at MU today. This shows once again that the old adage is almost always true — the cover-up is more damaging than the underlying crime. Maybe someday someone will actually find themselves in such a situation and take this sage advice — it might end up saving his job.
  3. In recent days, the conviction of Oklahoma State forward Darrell Williams for allegedly sexually assaulting two female students at a party in December two years ago has come under fire by some in the non-sports national media. In the especially tense arena of national racial politics, a case like Williams’ where a black man was accused of heinous felonies by two white women and convicted by a nearly all-white jury is bound to raise some eyebrows. On Friday, an Oklahoma judge delayed Williams’ sentencing hearing on those convictions, citing a defense motion that new and possibly exculpatory evidence has been found that could force the judge to throw out the convictions and order a new trial. There’s no way of knowing whether the claim of new evidence has any merit, but with Jesse Jackson, Jr., in town and many commentators outside the sporting realm taking a curious interest in this case, it will be very interesting to watch how this unfolds.
  4. The NCAA made its ruling on former Connecticut and current UNLV forward Roscoe Smith‘s transfer waiver request on Friday, and the decision to deny the waiver — meaning Smith will become eligible in 2013-14 — could be a blessing in disguise for both the Runnin’ Rebels and Smith himself. UNLV already boasts a loaded lineup next season and the 6’8″ big man, who has two years of eligibility remaining, would be well  situated to slide into a starting spot in the frontcourt most likely vacated after Mike Moser’s presumptive last season as a collegian. Smith, as you recall, was a frequent starter on the 2011 UConn championship team (averaging 6/5 in 25 MPG), but like many of his Husky teammates, backslid a bit in his sophomore season (5/3 in 18 MPG). Still, there’s no questioning his talent when bought in and completely focused, so Dave Rice’s team will look forward to Smith’s leadership and skill in what they hope are the immediate years following UNLV’s first Final Four run in two decades.
  5. UNLV’s Smith may not see the court for another year, but another offseason transfer, Memphis’ Charles Carmouche, has enrolled at LSU and will join the Tigers for his senior year next season. This is actually Carmouche’s third transfer — the wiry guard from New Orleans began his career at hometown University of New Orleans, but decided to transfer upriver to Memphis when it appeared that UNO would downgrade from Division I athletics. After a solid junior season at UM in 2010-11, though, Carmouche’s senior season was derailed because of problems with his knees. Still, despite receiving medical clearance in January, he chose to not suit up again, and after graduating he was then free to use the grad-transfer loophole to go anywhere who would take him. Enter LSU, where new head coach Johnny Jones will welcome the scoring punch that Carmouche brings to Baton Rouge. It’s been a wild and woolly ride for Carmouche over the past four years, but we’re guessing that he’ll need to make the most of this final season, as his eligibility is unlikely to extend to yet another transfer destination.
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Oregon State Week’s Burning Question: What Expectations Must Craig Robinson Live Up To?

Posted by Connor Pelton on August 26th, 2012

Each week this summer, we’re trying to ask the single biggest question about the program we’re profiling. And, as has become routine, we’ve got Adam Butler of Pachoops.com along to help us answer those questions. Without further ado, here’s the burning question facing the Oregon State program this summer.

Oregon State head coach Craig Robinson appears to be one of those coaches that brings in a highly touted recruit every once in a while, pulls a few big upsets every year, has an up-tempo offense, and will take his team to the NCAA Tournament once every six seasons or so. The question is, should this be good enough for Oregon State? Once a program that went dancing eight times from 1980 to 1990, the Beavers haven’t made it back to the NCAA Tournament since that 1989-90 campaign. What are reasonable expectations throughout this decade for Robinson, the man charged with bringing the program as close as possible to the heights reached during the 80s?

It’s Time To Reevaluate Expectations For Craig Robinson, The Head Man In Corvallis For the Last Four Seasons. Robinson Has Led His Team No Higher Than The CBI In His Tenure. (credit: Don Ryan)

Adam Butler: Sounds about like you’re describing a mid-major and that’s about the peak of expectations in Corvallis. The problem is: They don’t play other mids night-in and night-out. They play Washington and UCLA and Arizona and while that hasn’t been the most frightening lineup (along with anyone else in the conference) for the past few years, it sure isn’t Pepperdine and San Diego. This is ultimately a blessing in disguise. Robinson doesn’t need to set lofty expectations. The general resume for a major conference team to make the Tournament is pretty straight forward: 18-23 wins, RPI in the 50s or better, a couple of quality Ws, and no glaringly awful losses. That’s realistic every few seasons. But one hurdle of late has been this down conference in which there are no save-all resume games, that immediate RPI booster that drops you onto the committee’s radar. A nothing to lose victory over a Top 10 squad can go a long way in helping a team and a program, and helps to set the barometer for the conference’s lesser teams like OSU. But when there are no Top 10, let alone Top 25, programs going, it’s tough to make the Dance when the cards are already stacked against you. Ultimately, I think the overall conference up-tick will help Robinson build what can be a solid, something-to-be-proud-of program.

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Oregon State Week: Breaking Down An Unreleased Schedule

Posted by Connor Pelton on August 26th, 2012

Oregon State’s schedule for next season has yet to be released, but through past contracts and other team’s schedule releases, we’ve been able to piece together most of it. There are still times and television schedules that need to get cleared up, but for the most part we now know its opponents. Below, we’ll highlight a handful of games and stretches of the season that could determine the eventual fate of the 2012-13 Beavers. For the purpose of this exercise, we won’t speculate and include games that haven’t been given a date yet.

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Early-Season Tournament: While we don’t know Oregon State’s exact opponents for the 2K Sports Classic Regional Round, they will face two of the following – Niagara, Bucknell, South Dakota State, and Hofstra. The Beavers should win both games no matter who they face, but all four opponents won’t be pushovers. Once they make the trek across the country to New York City, things become much more interesting. They’ll open the elimination portion of the tournament with a Alabama team that loses its top two scorers from a year ago before facing either Villanova or Purdue in the next game.

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