Morning Five: 07.23.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on July 23rd, 2013

morning5

  1. We are not quite sure what to make of the Division 4 idea that Dennis Dodd discussed in his column yesterday or how it would affect college basketball, but we are sure that it will be a significant one if it goes through. As much as we love college basketball, we know that college football (or more specifically the money from it) drives college athletics. As Dodd notes college athletics has become segregated into the haves and have-nots. If the haves are able to officially separate themselves they can function in their own sphere and make decisions as a group that they could not make under the NCAA (like paying athletes). We are not sure when this day is coming, but it is probably coming sooner than many people expect.
  2. Yesterday the legal system let P.J. Hairston off the hook for his June arrest, but he may have a much harsher judge waiting at North Carolina and the NCAA (seriously, try to read that with a straight face). After what has been an interesting month to put it mildly Hairston had the misdemeanor marijuana charges against him dropped. The real issue for Hairston becomes how Roy Williams and eventually the NCAA deal with his apparent interaction with Haydn “Fats” Thomas in. Hairston might be able to get by the NCAA given the glacial pace they move, but we have to imagine that Williams would not risk UNC’s season and also 20+ wins on his resume given the chance that Hairston could be declared ineligible at some point.
  3. Over the past few years we have had several coaches become the subject of national ridicule for their decision not to allow a player to transfer to certain schools. It appears that Tim Floyd is about to be the next such coach. Floyd, who developed a reputation for signing players early and managing to get out of the scholarship offers, is denying Isaac Hamilton a release from his National Letter of Intent. Hamilton, a 6’5″ shooting guard from Los Angeles, originally committed to UTEP, but now is looking for a release to play at either USC or UCLA and is reportedly basing his decision on his desire to be closer to his ailing grandmother. Floyd and UTEP are claiming that their reason for denying Hamilton’s release is that one or both of the schools tampered with him and convinced him to back out of his commitment to UTEP. We know all of you are thinking that a few of the details may have changed, but this sounds like a familiar story. At this point the NCAA needs to do something to prevent situations like this from happening. On one hand you have people who have not graduated from high school signing National Letters of Intent without any guidance under the coercion of big universities without fully understanding what they are getting into. On the other side you have coaches and universities who have plenty of tricks (and lawyers) available to get out of any contract they want without much difficulty. The situation is not fair to these teenagers and only serves to punish them for coming from a position of inferior bargaining power.
  4. Big Blue Nation has been accused of being many of things, but never of being disloyal. That could be put to the test with former Wildcat Jeff Sheppard speaking out against Kentucky’s current emperor John Calipari. Sheppard, who won two NCAA titles as a player at Kentucky (1996 and 1998), was speaking the annual UK convention in Franklin, Ohio and spoke out against the one-and-done culture at Kentucky and spoke more fondly of Rick Pitino (his former coach) than Calipari (gasp). Sheppard latter clarified his comments (see the linked article for details) where he clarified his stance. The entire thing is probably overblown, but if there is one thing we can confidently accuse Big Blue Nation of, it is of overreacting.
  5. We always felt that ESPN underutilized Fran Fraschilla in its telecasts, but there are few individuals as informed about the international basketball scene as he is and nobody who is as well-equipped to translate what it means to college basketball. With two major junior international competitions complete, Andy Glockner spoke with Fraschilla about the performance of the US National Teams at these events and how the international pipeline could transform college basketball. It seems clear that the NCAA needs to figure out how to handle these international players coming over here because they are going to be a bigger and bigger influence over time. With the semi-professional status of many of these players who compete on club teams there will inevitably be issues with eligibility. The NCAA will need to address this issue before it becomes too late and it misses out on a generation of players due to something that could have easily been foreseen.
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College Basketball Players’ Non-participation in the O’Bannon Case Makes Sense

Posted by Chris Johnson on July 22nd, 2013

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

At a June class action hearing, federal judge Claudia Wilken instructed plaintiffs in the Ed O’Bannon lawsuit against the NCAA to amend their complaint to include one or multiple current student-athletes. The thinking was that by adding a current student-athlete, Wilken would be more inclined to grant class certification to include both former and current players. This is a crucial distinction. If Wilken certifies the class to include only former athletes, the prosecution’s case turns into a smaller and less-damaging suit about the uncompensated use of likenesses in video games. Including current-athletes would broaden the issue to an argument of whether student-athletes are entitled to a cut of the massive broadcast rights revenues generated by athletic conferences and their constituent member institutions. Last week, six current athletes added their names to the 16 former athletes arguing O’Bannon’s case, and all of them, curiously enough, were college football players. College basketball players were mysteriously absent.

The absence of college basketball players could hurt the plaintiffs' cause.

The absence of college basketball players could hurt the plaintiffs’ cause.

That was the first impression after hearing the names of the six student-athletes who, in standing up to the organization that governs (and disputably so) their athletic performance, volunteered to publicly voice their discontent with college sports’ status quo. If football players were willing to challenge the NCAA, why weren’t basketball players eager to make the same stand? Were there not enough players willing to risk denigration and public ridicule for the sake of fair compensation in collegiate athletics? Was the realization of near-term legal responsibility and distant financial reward too weak an incentive to incite participation? Was the fear – even after the NCAA’s written promise against it– of retribution so unnerving? According to Sports Illustrated legal analyst Michael McCann, all of the above is probably the best explanation.

According to a source close to O’Bannon’s legal team, several college basketball players communicated interest in joining the suit. After some consideration, however, the players thought otherwise. Parents of those players, in particular, expressed concerns about the potential for retribution by the NCAA, specifically that negative information might surface that might impact the player’s draft status and corresponding rookie NBA contract.

[…]

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Morning Five: 07.22.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on July 22nd, 2013

morning5

  1. After initially reconsidering Kyle Wiltjer has decided to leave Kentucky and will transfer to Gonzaga. The rising junior came to Lexington as a top-25 recruit and played well at times, but was largely overshadowed by his teammates and was relegated to a role coming off the bench. Despite his limited playing time Wiltjer has shown flashes of brilliance and with his 6’10” frame and ability to shoot from the outside (36.7% from 3-point last season) he should become a featured part of the Gonzaga offense during his two remaining years of eligibility. Although we are sure that many in Big Blue Nation (like any fan base) will be quick to criticize Wiltjer for leaving it is probably the right decision for him as it will allow him to showcase his ability instead of being stuck behind a revolving lineup of lottery picks.
  2. We have seen a lot of awkward transfers over the years, but the way Trae Golden left Tennessee is one of the more unique ones (check Google if you want the background). The two-year starter, who averaged 12.1 points and 3.9 assists per game last season, is headed to Georgia Tech where he could make the Yellow Jackets a potential NCAA Tournament team if he is granted a family hardship waiver to play next season. The basis of Golden’s waiver is that his father, who is in Georgia, is “severely ill”. Although the Yellow Jackets finished 16-15 last season they return their top two players and if Golden is eligible to play this season the addition of Golden should do a lot to stabilize their backcourt, which was their biggest weakness headed into this season.
  3. They often say that the cover-up is worse than the crime and if that’s the case North Carolina should be very concerned with the latest need to come out over the weekend. Dan Kane of The News & Observer has continued his pursuit of the truth in this case even if neither UNC nor the NCAA seem particularly interested. The latest bombshell to come out is that Faculty Council Chairman Jan Boxil sent a series of emails advising the authors of the investigation to rewrite their findings to try to prevent the NCAA from investing further. We are not sure what they were told to rewrite, but the optics of this look horrible for the school. Perhaps the only amusing aspect of this case is that Boxill actually wrote a book on sports ethics. At this point if the NCAA does not step in to punish UNC for its actions we will assume it never will because you won’t find many more clear smoking guns than this.
  4. The battle between the NCAA and athletes of various generations has been stealing most of the headlines, but apparently there are also smaller battles being waged. One of those battles involves Leslie McDonald (actually North Carolina) and Iceberg Guards, which had been using McDonald’s image on its website to promote its designer mouth guards. In response the school has sent a cease-and-desist letter to the company asking it to take McDonald’s image off its website. The company appears to have taken McDonald’s image off its website so we would assume that the matter is settled for now and although we are sure that some people will use this as another knock against a Tar Heel program that has much bigger issues this appears to be a simply a company acting on its own to utilize someone’s image that they had no right to.
  5. Starting your career at a new school being suspended is never a good thing, but that is the situation Nebraska guard Deverell Biggs finds himself in after he was suspended for three games to start next season as the result of his arrest for driving under the influence last December. Biggs, who redshirted last season pleaded no contest to the DUI charge, will miss the team’s two exhibition games and the season opener against Florida Gulf Coast. For his part, Biggs has apologized for his actions, which may not mean much because almost everybody does, but we are guessing that Biggs will be watched very closely by the Nebraska staff with his career starting this way.
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The EA-NCAA Split is Small But Telling News

Posted by Chris Johnson on July 19th, 2013

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

The NCAA is scared. No really, it is. Wouldn’t you feel the same way if, say, a massive class-action lawsuit with the potential to utterly shatter the fundamental method by which you govern and profit off college sports was knocking at the door? There’d be some fear in there, I’m fairly certain. That doomsday scenario is exactly the situation the NCAA could face as soon as this summer, when U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken is expected to grant class certification to a group of plaintiffs accusing the NCAA of not only price-fixing amateur athletes’ free-market oriented, competitive economic entitlements, but withholding the millions of dollars in TV and video game revenue schools, conferences and the organization itself reaps in each and every year. A storm is coming, and the NCAA is beginning to feel the heat. That’s probably an understatement. “Preparing for life without amateurism,” the utter silliness and dubious origin and antiquated nature of which is a different column for a different day, is probably closer to what the NCAA is thinking right now.

The end of EA and the NCAA's lucrative video game partnership is only half of the story.

The end of a lucrative video game partnership is only half of the story.

How do I know the NCAA is scared? Because when it does things like disassociate itself from one of the stickiest points of the massive lawsuit holding its head in the proverbial guillotine, you just know. That is, in essence, is what the NCAA did Wednesday night, when it announced it would no longer sponsor EA Sports’ famous NCAA Football video games. The move makes intuitive sense. Ed O’Bannon’s eponymous legal atom bomb began as a suit against the NCAA and EA Sports challenging the uncompensated use of student-athletes’ likenesses in video games. The case has since evolved to include current and former athletes who want a share of not only the revenue generated by video games, but also – as mentioned above – the conference realignment-driving, bank account-defying, laughably-defended TV contracts negotiated with member schools and conferences. The NCAA can’t afford to cut loose with the meatier part of the suit – the massive media rights revenues to be seized and, depending on your idea of what a new college sports world order could look like, distributed (at least in part) to the student-athletes who make those revenues possible in the first place. That part of the suit is in Wilken’s hands. The dispute over the properly compensated use of likenesses is baked in there, too, but the NCAA – up until Wednesday night – could (and did) at least make the prudent move to divorce itself from its longtime video game partner, lose a few dollars in the exchange and emerge fiscally solvent on the back end provided the other finer points of the lawsuit – namely, the class action dagger threatening to puncture amateurism’s aortic valve – fall short of unraveling the organization’s overarching economic model.

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In The Spirit Of The Season, Holiday Tournaments Offer Opportunities For Future Bubble Teams

Posted by BHayes on July 19th, 2013

Bennet Hayes is an RTC columnist. He can be reached @HoopsTraveler.

It may have been slightly less dramatic than Selection Sunday (okay, maybe a lot less), but yesterday’s unveiling of college basketball’s holiday tournament brackets still provided a bit of fun during these dry days of summer. Fans across the country were offered the opportunity to lick their lips at the thought of some tantalizing November and December possibilities, with matchups like VCU-Michigan, Baylor-Gonzaga, and Duke-Arizona all not so far-fetched. But if we look beyond those potentially epic matchups, there’s still a lot of substance to be found. Preseason tournaments are an opportunity to build momentum for the season ahead, and for many teams, a rare shot for resume-boosting wins that can mean the difference between NCAA Tournament and NIT come March. A good showing in the holiday tournament season goes a long way for any team, but the five teams listed below need it more than most.

Can Chaz Williams and UMass parlay a strong showing in Charleston into a Tournament bid for their long suffering fans?

Can Chaz Williams and UMass parlay a strong showing in Charleston into a Tournament bid for their long suffering fans?

UMass (Charleston Classic)

First Round Opponent: Nebraska, Possible Marquee Opponent: New Mexico (semifinal)

Before Derek Kellogg and UMass flirted with the NCAA Tournament in each of the past two seasons, it had been awhile since Minuteman fans had even received a March sweat. Whiffs in all three big non-conference games a season ago (NC State, Miami and Tennessee) created too much work in the A-10 season for the Minutemen to make up. Getting past Nebraska would be nice, but a semifinal win over New Mexico would give Chaz Williams and co. not just a sweet November scalp, but a real sense that this is the year they finally get over the hump.

Texas (CBE Hall Of Fame Classic)

First Round Opponent: BYU, Possible Marquee Opponent: Wichita State (final)

Well, I guess this tournament can’t possibly go as poorly as Maui did last year for Texas (thank you Chaminade!), but nevertheless this is a massive spot for Rick Barnes’ club.  And Rick Barnes. The seat is pretty toasty down in Austin, and the best way to avoid suffering through a year like the last one might be to leave Kansas City as champions. Provided Wichita State skirts by Depaul, a CBE HOF Classic title for the Horns would mean beating two solid teams (BYU in the opener), and would offer an important reminder that this roster still has enough talent to make some noise in the Big 12 – and keep Barnes employed.

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Morning Five: 07.19.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on July 19th, 2013

morning5

  1. There were a couple of significant moves in the Ed O’Bannon case over the past two days. The bigger move was the announcement of the six players (all football) who were added as plaintiffs in the case. We obviously do not follow football as closely as we follow basketball, but none of the names jump out at us so we are not sure how much traction this will get with the general public. Still it is a significant move and we hope that the NCAA will treat the players fairly and not target them for investigations into their eligibility. The other move in the case was the NCAA’s decision to cut ties with EA Sports has sparked a lot of debate about how the NCAA is using this to position itself against additional lawsuits if it should lose the Ed O’Bannon case. The decision means that NCAA Football 2014 will be the last game for the time being that will feature the NCAA’s logo and name. It does not mean that EA Sports games will not feature select schools as many schools work with Collegiate Licensing Company, a separate entity that manages the trademarks of the schools. What that means is that you may not notice a significant difference in the game aside from the name and the absence of the NCAA’s logo as Collegiate Licensing Company still can license out the names/logos of schools as well as the likenesses of the various players for those schools.
  2. If Auburn fans expected their program to start to turn around with the improved recruiting they have experienced under Tony Barbee they may have to wait as one of the keys in utilizing those recruits is keeping them around. Yesterday, the school announced that it had kicked Shaq Johnson off the team after he was arrested for marijuana possession. Johnson’s departure means that the school has lost both of its top incoming freshman from last season as Jordan Price announced his decision to transfer back in April. While Johnson’s production last season (5.3 points and 3 rebounds in 18.6 minutes per game) might not seem like much, but Auburn fans could have expected those numbers to continue to climb over the next three seasons and for a team that has been stuck at the bottom of the SEC recently the loss is certainly not insignificant. We know that basketball is a distant second (or third depending on whether you count spring football as a separate sport), but we wonder how long Tony Barbee can endure more losing seasons at the school and keep his job.
  3. The World University Games may have ended with a disappointment for Doug McDermott as the team finished ninth, but that will not be his last national team experience for the summer as McDermott was invited to the US National Team Mini-Camp. McDermott joins Marcus Smart as the only college player at the mini-camp and will be part of a group of 30 players, who might not be our “A” team (no LeBron, Wade, etc), but does feature several prominent players including Kyrie Irving. McDermott will also get a chance to show his skills against several solid NBA players. The mini-camp will be closed to the general public, but we will be interested to hear about how McDermott and Smart perform and how it translates into their performance next season.
  4. It must be nice living in a world where you can get a $50,000 raise, but is just a few percentage point increase in your salary. Such is the case of Cuonzo Martin, who received a $50,000 raise bringing his annual compensation to $1.35 million (a little over a 3.8% raise). Martin took over the Tennessee program in the wake of Bruce Pearl’s firing amid NCAA violations so his two trips to the NIT in two years should not be seen as a total disaster, but we still have a hard time trying to figure out why he needed a pay raise based on his performance so far. The Volunteers are expected to be near the top of the SEC so perhaps Martin can prove that he is worth the extra money this season.
  5. A little over two years ago we discussed a medical study analyzing sudden cardiac death in Division I athletes. The vast majority of sports fans are only aware of a few very public cases like that of Hank Gathers, but we are sure many of you can remember other cases of players of varying ability dying suddenly during practices or games. That is part of what makes the story of Silas Green so remarkable. Green was at an AAU tournament when he collapsed necessitating the staff there to use a defibrillator to return Green’s heart to a normal rhythm. We do not have many details outside of what Green’s father has released–cardiac tests were negative and that it was believed to be due to hypokalemia–but the take home point (outside of Green’s life being saved) is the advances in preparation by the staff given the surprisingly high rate of sudden cardiac death in basketball players.
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John Beilein’s Contract Extension Is No Mystery

Posted by Chris Johnson on July 18th, 2013

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

Anytime a coach signs on the dotted line for a substantial raise, the occasion for historical praise and legacy analysis and career achievement evaluations is ripe. Michigan coach John Beilein gets the treatment following Wednesday’s official announcement of a three-year contract extension guaranteeing a $2.45 million salary over the next six seasons. Beilein’s rise was explored in depth during Michigan’s recent national championship run, but with a few months distance from the accomplishment, and a fat raise show for it, Beilein and his long career warrants further review. The statistic you always hear about Michigan’s well-compensated coach is that he’s the only coach ever to win 20 games at the NAIA, Junior college, Division III and Division I levels. The other popular distinction on Beilein’s resume – and this one somehow feels even more unique, even if it’s not – is the fact that he has never once been an assistant coach. Through the meandering path that saw Beilein rise from Newfane High School to the brink of a national championship, Beilein has enjoyed master control the entire way.

Last season's roster forced Beilein to change his traditional style (Getty).

Last season’s roster forced Beilein to change his traditional style (Getty).

Those are interesting points, and there are plenty of other notable bullets on Beilein’s CV, but arguably the most interesting (and the most timely) comes from this past season, where Beilein pushed Michigan to a place few believed the Wolverines could ever reach just two decades following the crippling Ed Martin scandal. For the first time in his long and storied career, Beilein had a roster full of real, athletically gifted, elite high-level athletes. They were good basketball players, too, all of them: from Trey Burke to Mitch McGary to Glenn Robinson III and on down the line. In his previous coaching stops, including much of his recent tenure at Michigan (even as recently as 2011-12, when relatively unathletic players like Evan Smotrycz, Stu Douglass and Zack Novak were key contributors), Beilein resigned himself to the humbling fact that – without elite athletes to play hard man defense, and run traditional ball screen and pick and roll offenses – he needed schematic quirks, eccentric offensive sets, and untraditional defensive strategies to beat opponents not with superior basketball talent, but with sideline acumen and tactical wit. They were smart concessions: the 1-3-1 defense, the two-guard front offense, and whatever other means Beilein used to veil his teams’ typical lack of athleticism. Beilein needed a way to level the playing field against bigger, tougher teams, so he adjusted to survive. And with sporadic evidence to the contrary, Beilein’s tactics worked. His teams got by. Kevin Pittsnoggle did this. Things clicked.

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Morning Five: 07.18.13 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on July 18th, 2013

morning5

  1. On Wednesday ESPN finished its two-day unveiling of brackets for the 11 holiday season events that it more or less controls through its television rights, and the possibilities, as usual, are endless. For a comprehensive listing of those events along with the top storylines as they stand right now in the middle of July, here’s the thread. Be sure to remember that Jeff Goodman picked Boise State over Oregon State in the Diamond Head Classic so that you can mock him on Twitter in late December… but seriously, does anyone else find it more than a little odd that these brackets are released during the time of year when you couldn’t find more people who care less? Why not make this a part of the Midnight Madness/ESPN festivities in October — you know, when fans are actually paying attention to college basketball again. For what it’s worth, Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger and Andy Glockner at SI.com have pretty good rundowns of the events if ESPN.com’s marketing campaign isn’t to your liking. From our perspective, here’s what you need to know: North Carolina vs. Louisville (Hall of Fame Tip-off) and Arizona vs. Duke (Preseason NIT). Done.
  2. While we’re on the subject of ESPN, the post-MLB All-Star Game hole in the calendar provides us with our annual opportunity to over-dramatize the strange mixture of sports and celebrity at the ESPYs. College basketball was once again well-represented, with two major awards among the few nominees. Louisville’s Rick Pitino received the ESPY for top coach/manager of the year, while everybody’s favorite underdog, Florida Gulf Coast, won the ESPY for the best upset of the year (over Georgetown). The full list is here, but the only other college basketball nominee was Trey Burke for best male college athlete (won by Johnny Manziel). Still, we’re more than willing to take a smidgen of credit for the Arthur Ashe Courage Award, given this year to former Sportscenter anchor and Dickie V/Midnight Madness sidekick, Robin Roberts.
  3. We mentioned Seth Davis’ piece on Michigan’s Mitch McGary in yesterday’s M5, and clearly university brass must have also read about his head coach John Beilein‘s prescience in keeping the burly freshman on the bench as a secret postseason weapon last year. Why do we say this? Because on Wednesday Michigan rewarded the 60-year old coach with a three-year extension that will bump his salary up to $2.45 million per year, ninth-highest in the nation. The sometimes-irascible but always competent Beilein has come a long way in his itinerant career, but with another top 10 squad pending in Ann Arbor and a growing NBA pipeline to entice recruits, we’re thinking that he not only deserves the raise, but is well worth it.
  4. The Pac-12 under Larry Scott’s leadership in the last few seasons has certainly been innovative in its approach to its branding and reach, and yesterday’s CBSSports.com report that the league recently sent a letter to the NCAA challenging the admission of Division II Grand Valley (AZ) State to play D-I basketball is certainly interesting. On one hand, why does the Pac-12 care about a low-budget for-profit school with some 40,000 to 45,000 online students? On the other, the business model and corresponding accountability for a school answering to public shareholders on financial matters is in fact a much different situation than that posed by a typical college or university (which are all non-profit entities in Division I). It’ll be interesting to see how the NCAA responds to this, and whether other leagues and/or universities get involved. Grand Valley has already begun transition to Division I, entering the WAC as a basketball school and becoming eligible for the NCAA Tournament in 2017-18.
  5. Some transfer/eligibility news from yesterday to finish off today’s M5. Former Kentucky problem child Ryan Harrow has received a transfer waiver from the NCAA to play at Georgia State next season. This move will allow him to remain near his ailing father, who suffered a stroke last year while Harrow was at Kentucky, averaging 10 PPG and shooting 29.6 percent from beyond the arc. By the same token, Minnesota’s Malik Smith, a senior guard who averaged 14/3 APG last season at FIU under Richard Pitino, also received a waiver to play immediately at his new school. The NCAA approved his waiver to follow his coach in part because FIU is not eligible for the 2014 NCAA Tournament (APR violations). This will be Smith’s fourth school in four seasons.
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Morning Five: 07.17.13 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on July 17th, 2013

morning5

  1. We’re more than officially in the dog days of summer but only the truly committed scribes work all summer covering the sport we love. Seth Davis is one national commentator who came out of his slumber this week to report from Las Vegas with a Hoops Thoughts column on Michigan’s Mitch McGary. The rising sophomore took the college basketball world by storm last March, going from a role player to a key cog for John Beilein’s national runners-up, but as McGary explained to Davis: “So far I’ve only cracked the glass. Next year I’m trying to break through it.” The piece delves into some of McGary’s lesser-known history, specifically his struggles with academics as a result of ADHD, his workout and diet regimen that he enabled midway through last season to give himself a shot at more mobility (and playing time), and his non-decision to enter his name into the NBA Draft because he simply enjoys college life. Great read, especially in mid-July.
  2. Another likely star returning to school for 2013-14 is Oklahoma State’s Marcus Smart, fresh off a FIBA world championship in the U-19 division. USA Basketball announced its National Team Mini-Roster on Tuesday, and the rising sophomore Cowboy was the only collegian of 29 players selected. The group of mostly young, rising NBA stars will meet in Las Vegas to compete next week, although no roster spots on Team USA are officially up for grabs. This is simply an opportunity for the players to prove themselves against their peers for future international events. Smart of course is unlikely to make the men’s national team roster for the Worlds in 2014 or the Olympics in 2016, but playing against the likes of Ty Lawson, Mike Conley, George Hill, Kyrie Irving, Kemba Walker and John Wall at his point guard position cannot hurt his overall development. Watch out, Big 12.
  3. Louisville‘s visit to meet President Barack Obama will occur next week, on July 23 at the White House. The school waited a bit longer than normal to schedule the event, so that players Montrezl Harrell and Luke Hancock could attend the event after stints in summer international tournaments. While in The District, the team will also make time to tour the Capitol Building with senator and minority leader, Mitch McConnell (R-KY). When McConnell isn’t busy tormenting his Democratic opposition in the back rooms of DC, he spends quite a bit of time in Louisville taking in the Cardinals’ biggest games. Although as far as celebrity fans go, we’ll stick with Ashley Judd 70 miles down the road. Sorry, Mitch.
  4. Tuesday was the start of SEC Football Media Days, and why do we care? Well, in large part because South Carolina head coach and immodest rabble-rouser Steve Spurrier again went on record stating that the entire SEC — according to him, all 28 football and basketball coaches — is in favor of payments to their revenue-producing players. The stipend he mentioned yesterday amounts to approximately $3,600 per player per year and a little over a quarter-million dollars in annual costs — a relative pittance in a business that regularly deals with annual budgets in the eight- and nine-figure range. And why wouldn’t they want to pay players? It would give them yet another carrot in the recruiting wars against some of the smaller schools and conferences, while correspondingly eliminating much of the regulatory nonsense with monitoring and enforcing illegal benefits that amount to a night out for dinner and a movie.
  5. While on the subject of football crossing over with basketball, Colorado quarterback Shane Dillon announced on Tuesday that he is giving up the gridiron effective immediately so that he can pursue his passion on the hardwood at another school. A 6’5″ wing in high school where he averaged a robust 25/12 for Christian High School in southern California, Dillon suffered a shoulder injury and was looking at starting next season third on the depth chart for the Buffaloes. He asked Tad Boyle if he had room for him on his team, but all the scholarships were filled and Dillon isn’t willing to walk on. He’ll look to make his transfer decision in the next few weeks, with a school in the WCC and Big West perhaps his most likely destination.
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Marshall Basketball? Henderson, Much Like Manziel, Continues To Find Trouble

Posted by BHayes on July 16th, 2013

Bennet Hayes is an RTC columnist. He can be reached @HoopsTraveler.

Whether you are a member of the media and present by necessity, or if you are simply a fan sitting on your couch after midnight (that witching hour when ESPNews suddenly equates to programming gold), you have all been dragged through that same presser. The one where the coach tells you about how happy he is despite the loss, “because his guys competed for 40 minutes.” The one where the winning coach still isn’t that happy, because “this game was just another one on the schedule.” And yes, here comes the moment when both coaches admit to knowing they “can’t get too up or down about tonight” because the college basketball season is most surely a marathon, not a sprint. Coachspeak is everywhere these days, and with the mounting media attention on even the smallest of college programs, it’s difficult to blame coaches and players for sticking to this unoriginal script. They may be boring us as fans and media, but they become sure to avoid the negative PR that can accompany even the smallest of verbal missteps. So what happens when we find a coach or player who doesn’t seem to have received this most banal of memos? We pay attention. And right now, there are no two college athletes (in their respective sports) that we pay attention to more than Johnny “Football” Manziel and Marshall Henderson.

Henderson's on-court antics, by and large, captivated college basketball fans last season. His recent issues off the court have proven equally attention-grabbing, for all the wrong reasons.

Henderson’s on-court antics, by and large, captivated college basketball fans last season. His recent issues off the court have proven equally attention-grabbing, for all the wrong reasons.

The tales of Manziel and Henderson are far from identical, but both are prominent college athletes who have drizzled a little extra flavor on their public personas (both on and off the field/court). Each has experienced the boon in media attention, fans, and Twitter followers that comes with not only being a standout on the court, but a colorful personality off it. However, armed with the nation’s collective eye, both have also felt the flip side of the fame – the inevitable backlash that comes when you take that reckless behavior a step too far. Manziel’s discretions have been less serious than those of Henderson, particularly in the eyes of the law, but his most recent blunder— leaving the Manning passing camp early due to alleged misbehavior — has had no problems finding every major news outlet. Henderson’s trouble-making at Ole Miss had largely been limited to brash behavior on the court and some equally unfiltered commentary off of it (#whitegirlwednesday) — that is, until he was indefinitely suspended last week after being arrested for cocaine and marijuana possession.

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Aaric Murray is Slippery Ground For Interested Coaches

Posted by Chris Johnson on July 16th, 2013

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

The details surrounding the departure of former West Virginia forward Aaric Murray were encapsulated in two words by Mountaineers coach Bob Huggins: “mutual agreement.” Seems simple enough, only it’s really not – not when you look back at the marijuana charge Murray was assessed with while sitting out the 2011-12 season following his transfer from La Salle, or the disciplinary issues Murray ran into that forced him to miss a game in December 2012. There is a clear history of crossing the line with college hoops’ now-most high profile free agent forward, and while the offenses themselves don’t condemn Murray’s future in college (or even professional) basketball, the more important question is, will any team be willing to take a chance on him?

Coaches must proceed cautiously before bringing Hairston in (AP).

Coaches must proceed cautiously before bringing Hairston in (AP).

This question wouldn’t be as pressing as it is, were Murray not already graduated from and finished with his coursework at WVU, checkpoints that will allow Murray to play for another school this fall per the NCAA’s graduate transfer exemption (provided Murray enrolls in a graduate program not offered at WVU). West Virginia was brutal to watch last season. This was surprising for a couple of reasons: 1) Bob Huggins almost never coaches bad teams; 2012-13 was a glaring exception. 2) And this is more comedic than surprising, but as the Mountaineers toiled away in the lower half of the Big 12 last season, I kept coming back to the comments Huggins made after learning his team had been picked to finish sixth in the Big 12’s preseason coaches poll. “If we’re the sixth-best team in that league then it’s a hell of a league,” the head coach said in October. Part of the reason that placement baffled Huggins, and came off as a slightly pessimistic evaluation for most other observers, was because Murray promised to give WVU some of the hard-nosed Hugginsian grit his teams so routinely infuse into their collective DNA – the stuff that typically makes his teams so physically demanding and brutal to match up with. At La Salle, Murray was a force on both ends: His 106.1 offensive rating on 26.2 percent usage, 11.0 offensive rebounding percentage, 19.0 defensive rebounding percentage and 7.6 block rate in 2011 underscore that basic description.

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Morning Five: 07.16.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on July 16th, 2013

morning5

  1. We do not need to tell you that Butler is one of the premier programs in college basketball, but we have to admit we were pretty surprised to hear that Chris Holtmann was leaving his position as head coach at Gardner-Webb to become an assistant coach at Butler. Holtmann, who was named Southern Conference Coach of the Year as he led Gardner-Webb to 21 wins last season and signed an extension through 2018 in April, is just 41 so we are assuming this is a move that will eventually get him a higher level mid-major job. We do not have the contract information for Holtmann at either location, but it also would not be unreasonable to assume that his salary as an assistant at Butler might equal or even exceed his salary as a head coach at Gardner-Webb.
  2. With his dismissal from West Virginia yesterday Aaric Murray has now been kicked two teams in his college career. Murray, who averaged 15.2 points and 7.7 rebounds per game at La Salle in 2011, averaged 8.8 points per game at West Virginia last season. Despite his fall off in production last season and his arrest for marijuana possession during the year he sat out, Murray should find a home soon as he graduated this spring and will be eligible to play this coming season. While Murray’s production (particularly at La Salle) will draw interest from many teams they should be weary of whatever issues have led him to be dismissed from two teams despite his considerable skill.
  3. It took over a month, but Roy Williams finally issued a statement about P.J. Hairston saying that Hairston “has made serious mistakes and there will be serious consequences as a result”. That statement may seem pretty strong, but Williams did not go so far as to say that Hairston would even be suspended instead pointing out that Hairston is only loosely affiliated with the school (not taking classes) or team (not practicing with the team) right now and is instead giving the legal system time to work itself out. This seems like a perfectly reasonable thing to do and realistically Roy has until November before he has to make a decision. Given Roy’s statements and Hairston’s actions we have a tough time envisioning Hairston in the Tar Heel lineup to start the season.
  4. With the summer here some college basketball sites are taking some time off and others are focusing in on recruiting, but no site is doing what Big Apple Buckets did analyzing 32 of Jon Rothstein’s predictions from last season. The analysis is not particularly rigid in that it does not necessarily call Rothstein’s predictions right or wrong as there can be some grey area in interpretation, which you can see in the comments section where the author and reader debate Rothstein’s record. Personally we think making bold random predictions are essentially worthless, but it is nice to see someone called out for those predictions even if the outcome is not as bad as one might expect.
  5. Finally, we bring you this amazing video courtesy of the Wilt Chamberlain Archive featuring Wilt Chamberlain playing in the 1957 NCAA Tournament. We will let the video speak for itself, but should point out how amazingly athletic Chamberlain looks against opposition that he physically dominates. Looking at this footage should give you an idea of why Chamberlain was so dominant and put up such huge individual numbers.

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