Morning Five: 10.04.12 EditionPosted by rtmsf on October 4th, 2012
- As everyone knows by now, the ACC is expanding from a 12-team basketball league to a 15-team behemoth. This move means that a semi-logical scheduling approach that included 18 conference games necessitates a substantial reconsideration. After toying with the idea of a nine-game football conference season and an even bigger basketball conference season, the league has settled on eight games in football and 18 games in basketball — so in an aggregate sense, no change. The key hoops difference is that each school will have two permanent partners that it plays home-and-home games with every season. The remaining 14 games will consist of two other rotating home-and-homes and single games against 10 other schools (five home and five away). This system ensures some degree of competitive balance in that every school will see every other league school at least once per season. New members Syracuse and Pittsburgh will play each other annually (SU will play former Big East mate Boston College every year too), while Notre Dame will be paired with its natural rival BC along with Georgia Tech (an odd duo).
- Sticking with the ACC, the good news is that Roy Williams is recovering nicely from a surgical procedure on his right kidney a couple of weeks ago — good enough to have flown to Chicago on Tuesday to visit the home of Class of 2013 stud, Jabari Parker. The not-as-good news is that Williams on Wednesday underwent a second procedure — this time on his left kidney — to determine whether a second tumor is also a non-cancerous mass like the first. If Williams receives more good news shortly, he’ll be more than ready to begin his tenth season at the helm of his alma mater a little over a week from now. If he’s not as lucky this time around, he’ll likely need another procedure to remove the affected tissue which could produce a minor setback for the gung-ho coach as he enters the official start of practice. When he’ll be back at 100% is still in question, but whether the 62-year old coach is walking into a frustrating season filled with pointed questions about his team’s academic prowess over the last decade is something that seems to be lurking on the horizon.
- One now-retired coach who knows a little something about receiving pointed questions and dealing with health scares is former Connecticut head man, Jim Calhoun. This news felt a lot like “no, but thanks for asking…”, but Connecticut says it has no plans to name its planned basketball training center after Calhoun, even though the program was essentially as relevant as Fairfield College before he arrived there nearly three decades ago. Athletic Director Ward Manuel put a punctuated end to some rumors that had spread this week, stating that the naming of the building had consistently been contemplated as a money-raising opportunity. One of Calhoun’s emeritus roles for the upcoming year will be to shore up additional funding for the facility, which is about $10 million short of where it needs to be to break ground on the project. Frankly, even though such a gesture would cause Geno Auriemma to lose his farkin’ mind (no, seriously, he would), Gampel Pavilion should probably eventually be re-named for the man who legitimized UConn basketball. Maybe they can compromise and call it Geno-Calhoun Pavilion.
- The Billy Gillispie era has come and gone at Texas Tech, yet with only days left before official practice begins, the school has yet to decide on a full-time interim head coach (Chris Walker has been the daily operations interim head coach since Gillispie resigned). According to Andy Katz, the school is expected to make a decision in a matter of days, but if athletic director Kirby Hocutt knows what he’s planning to do, he’s keeping it close to the vest. Katz says that the only reasonable choice for a program that has gone through so much turmoil is to promote Walker and spend the year evaluating him on stabilizing the program and fielding a team that competes hard every night. If his performance is based on what is likely to become a scarcity of wins, well, he’s a dead man walking after this season. Is Bob Knight still taking calls?
- Commitment days are fun no matter the players announcing, but this evening’s ESPNU special focusing on the Harrison twins (Aaron and Andrew) is filled with all kinds of drama. First, we’ve got the fact that the brothers are of course twins — a package deal of top five players the likes of which we may have never seen before (CollegeHoopedia has a comprehensive list of NCAA twins here). Next, we have a pairing of one school’s shoe company power and influence (Under Armour) versus, um, another school’s shoe company power and influence (Nike). Gary Parrish breaks down that particular dichotomy here. Then we have the issue of the Calipari effect — which, depending on the side of the fence you’re on — represents either shady backdoor dealings, or unbelievable marketing and player development. The national championship coach just doesn’t lose out on many recruits he targets anymore. Finally, we have a report of an 11th-hour lunch meeting between Mark Turgeon and the twins’ father, which could suggest that the deal was closed or that Maryland was making a last-ditch effort. The one thing we can be sure of at this writing is this — if Kentucky wins, Maryland fans will accuse Calipari of cheating to get their services (see: Davis, Anthony); if Maryland wins, Kentucky fans will cite the shady Under Armour influence to get their services (see: Muhammad, Shabazz). It’s going to be an interesting evening.