The Ultimate Kentucky Villain Will Coach In Rupp Arena

Posted by jstevrtc on October 4th, 2011

Kentucky basketball fans, get ready. He…is…coming.

Just under two weeks ago, several Kentucky outlets reported that another one of these NBA lockout-induced games was in the works, this time one that would pit a squad of former Kentucky players against a team comprised of guys considered “villains” of the UK program. We’re talking about players like Kemba Walker, who, along with the rest of Connecticut mates, bumped Kentucky from the Final Four last season. Tyler Hansbrough would certainly be a candidate for such a team; UK thought they had Hansbrough wrapped up during his recruitment in 2005, and his eventual signing with North Carolina seriously irked Kentucky fans. Then he came into Rupp Arena for an ESPN GameDay game in 2007 and put 14/11 on the Wildcats en route to an 86-77 win.

If It Happens, Surely It Was Predicted in the Book of Revelations.

So, as far as the Team of Villains, you get the idea. We have to admit — it’s a darn good one. We were even inspired (cue shameless self-promotion) to have some fun and come up with other villain teams for other schools. But to actually stage a game like this in Kentucky, where passion for college hoops — and the ability to hold a basketball grudge — resides in the very bone marrow of its citizens, is a strong play.

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RTC Conference Primers: # 31 – MEAC

Posted by jstevrtc on October 3rd, 2011

For our complete list of 2011-12 conference primers working backward from #31 to #1, click here.   

Readers’ Take I

Top Storylines

  • Turmoil at Bethune-Cookman.  Bethune-Cookman is the defending regular season champion, but can they concentrate on basketball? Since least season, the school has fired Clifford Reed, its head coach for the previous nine years, because of “insubordination and failure to cooperate” during an investigation of the basketball program. His son, C. J., was last year’s conference Player of the Year and the league’s top scorer, but was named (not charged) in a now-closed sexual assault case and has left the college. The elder Reed is suing the school for wrongful termination. Forget that the Wildcats will be under new leadership and have to place replace C.J.’s scoring; will they be able to concentrate on hoops with this stuff hanging over the program all year?
  • NCCU Wild Card.  We ask the above poll question about North Carolina Central because even though they’ve been readmitted to the MEAC, the Eagles welcome three transfers from Power Six conferences (on whom more in a bit). In the few pre-season writeups we’ve seen so far, NCCU has been predicted anywhere from first to 12th. They’re by far the biggest wild card in this conference this season.
  • MEAC Parity.  From 2000 to 2009, the MEAC post-season tournament saw only two schools claim more than one title (Hampton and South Carolina State). Hampton took the conference tournament crown last year and won the honor of a 16-seed in the NCAA Tournament. Morgan State took the two before that, and Coppin State won in 2008. Those three schools have separated themselves in recent years as the top programs in this league. Which one will rise up this year, or can another squad challenge that trio?

Predicted Order of Finish

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Morning Five: 09.23.11 Edition

Posted by jstevrtc on September 23rd, 2011

  1. As we’ve said before, one of the few positives that’s come out of the conference congealment/realignment mess is that some writers have simply had enough and are pulling out all the stops in their critiques, and the readers are benefitting from it. The latest example of this came yesterday from Yahoo!’s Dan Wetzel, who explains why the current system blows, the new superconference system will be even worse, and that it’s not too late to save these conference and school administrators from themselves and try to save college athletics, certainly (our favorite section coming here), “…for the average fan, who just appreciated things like the Big East basketball tournament or Backyard Brawl or the myriad other traditions that seem a lot cooler than protecting the salary of the guy who runs the Great Idaho Potato Bowl.” Enjoy.
  2. So, in that vein…Dan Beebe is out as commissioner of the Big 12, and it looks like this conference — which looked extremely wobbly at best just a week ago — will now survive. You probably remember that it was Oklahoma that said it would only stay on board if Beebe was removed AND if Texas‘ brand new Longhorn Network would be restricted in what it could show, especially regarding high school games/athletes. As for the “victory” yesterday and the discussion among the member schools that lasted for just over an hour, OU president David Boren said, “We achieved substantial reforms. We feel extremely good.” We assume now that it’s only a matter of time until the remaining schools gang up on Texas and that TV network to try and hammer out a few more substantial reforms.
  3. It’s been just over 18 months since March 3, 2010, a night on which Maryland defeated Duke in a basketball game. It’s also the night that Maryland student John McKenna was beaten with riot batons by a couple of police officers during the celebratory mayhem that followed the game. McKenna and his family hired a private investigator who found a tape of the incident, showing that McKenna was not provoking the officers and was unarmed. The tape didn’t support the officers’ story that McKenna was belligerent to the policemen’s horses and it was the horses that caused McKenna’s injuries. A Prince George’s County, MD grand jury saw that tape recently. The officers are still innocent until proven guilty, but the grand jury indicted them earlier this week, charging them with first- and second-degree assault.
  4. On May 13, UNLV senior Chace Stanback was pulled over for suspicion of DUI and ended up testing positive for marijuana. The summary of his punishment is as follows: $585 in fines, 40 hours of community service, attendance at DUI school, and participation in a victim impact panel. Yesterday, the school also suspended Stanback for the Rebels’ season opener on November 11 against Grand Canyon as well as an exhibition ten days earlier. The 6’8” swingman will be UNLV’s leading returning scorer, averaging 13.0 PPG last season (2nd on team), and led the Rebs last year in rebounding (5.9 RPG) as well as efficiency rating (13.5).
  5. Speaking of November 11, that’s Veterans’ Day, and the night that Michigan State and North Carolina will face off in the first-ever NCAA game on an aircraft carrier, lovingly called the “Carrier Classic,” specifically aboard the USS Carl Vinson docked in San Diego. The combatants for the 2012 edition now look to be Arizona from the Pac-12 and Connecticut from the Big East ACC…well, whatever. We understand the reasons they’re doing this on the Vinson and why the ship has to be docked, but as we wrote in our original article on the carrier game, at some point in the future this has to be played on an active ship in the middle of missile drills. Talk about preparing a team to play on the road, man. The sight of a bird being launched in the middle of an 18-year old’s one-and-bonus will make a couple of snarky signs or synchronized cheers from some day-drinking poli-sci majors look pretty tame.
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Morning Five: 09.22.11 Edition

Posted by jstevrtc on September 22nd, 2011

  1. A couple of top prospects made their college choices within the last couple of days and the rich keep getting richer. On Tuesday night, Kentucky opened its account within the 2012 class when 6’4”, 180-pound shooting guard Archie Goodwin tweeted his intent to be a Wildcat. It was Perry Ellis‘ turn on Wednesday, and the 6’8”, 220-pound forward chose Kansas, citing Bill Self’s knack for getting the most out of his Jayhawk bigs as motivation for heading to Lawrence. Goodwin is ranked 13th overall and Ellis is 37th in the ESNPU 100 class of 2012 rankings. Ellis was also the first ranked recruit to commit to Kansas from that class, but it goes without saying that neither program is finished mining its talent.
  2. Oklahoma took some heat for the ultimatum it gave to the Big 12 on Tuesday, claiming that it would stay in the conference if, among other demands, some restrictions were placed on exactly what Texas’ Longhorn Network could show, and if current Big 12 commish Dan Beebe was removed. Nobody (including us) bought it as a good-faith negotiating tactic, but it turns out that OU might be getting at least part of what it wants. Evidently Oklahoma isn’t the only school that would welcome Beebe’s ouster, and the most recent word is that the presidents of the conference’s member institutions are having a conference call (no pun intended) tomorrow that will determine the future of the Big 12, beginning with the removal of Beebe and the installment of former Big 8 commissioner Chuck Neinas as the new boss.
  3. Last week, when people who follow college sports weren’t talking about conference realignment, they were talking about the piece that appeared in The Atlantic by essayist and historian Taylor Branch entitled “The Shame Of College Sports.” The 14,573-word diatribe against the NCAA was lauded by almost everyone as a stinging polemic, to say the least, and an utter rout for Branch. CBS’ Seth Davis, however, took Branch and his essay to task yesterday, charging Branch with basing his whole article on a faulty premise and conveniently leaving out obvious counterpoints. We provided a CliffsNotes version of the Branch essay, and we highly recommend you check out Davis’ response, too, linked above.
  4. Rick Pitino had a chat with ESPN’s Andy Katz yesterday in which the Louisville coach predicted that the Big East would survive Realignment ’11, that the conference would add two service acadamies (football only) by the end of the week, it would still remain one of the strongest basketball conferences in the land, and that he is “happy with Big East basketball.” Pitino has a gift for spin that makes even the most skilled of lobbyists envious, but he’s probably right about the Big East staying strong. Obviously it won’t be what it once was if Syracuse and Pittsburgh follow through with their departures, but as far as basketball power, assuming Rutgers and Connecticut leave and Notre Dame and West Virginia stay, you’d have those two programs plus Louisville, Marquette, Georgetown, Cincinnati, Villanova, and St. John’s, all NCAA Tournament teams last year.
  5. We bet you can win a few bar bets — though your chances of success increase dramatically if you’re outside the state of Michigan — on one of the great riddles in college basketball: who was Michigan State’s only three-time basketball all-American? Hint: he was a point guard. Your sucker will probably pounce at the chance to answer “Magic Johnson!” and expect to relieve you of your cash, but he’d be wrong. Magic was a two-time AA as a Spartan (because he only played two years). It’s a Flintstone named Mateen Cleaves who holds that honor, and today he will be inducted into Michigan State University’s Athletics Hall of Fame. Despite feeling as humbled and honored as you’d expect, the 34-year old Cleaves told Eric Woodyard of the Flint Journal and MLive.com, “It does make me feel old that I’m entering the hall of fame.” No comment.
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Taylor Brown Cleared, Will Be Back For Bradley

Posted by jstevrtc on September 21st, 2011

Bradley forward Taylor Brown is back playing basketball. After sitting out all of last season while doctors investigated an issue with his heart, Brown has been cleared to play his senior season.

Brown Had To Willingly Decondition His Body and Heart For His Cardiac Workup

Here’s what’s particularly compelling about Brown’s case: as part of his doctors’ investigation over the last year or so, Brown was told to actually de-condition his heart. Obviously, that doesn’t mean he was told by his docs to start smoking and to commence with an all-lard diet, but it does mean that he was told not only to refrain from playing basketball, but also not to do anything active. In short, he was told by his doctors, quite frankly, to do nothing, to allow himself to get into worse shape, because it would help his physicians reach a diagnosis. That might be fantastic medical advice for certain basketball blog writers — such a directive from one of our doctors would be met with a hearty “Can do!” and an immediate trip to the store for more Doritos – but it’s not the easiest thing for someone in their early 20s to hear, and certainly not for an athlete with a future that was getting brighter with every game he played.

After transferring from junior college in 2008, Brown averaged 3.4 PPG and 3.0 RPG in an average 11.5 MPG for Bradley in 2008-09. That ballooned to 13.5 PPG and 6.8 RPG during his sophomore year, and his 12.9 efficiency rating was the best on his team for 2009-10. After sitting out his junior year for the cardiac workup, he’s had to work hard to re-condition himself after the long period of prescribed de-conditioning, and he’ll be back to help the Braves rebound from a 12-20 (4-14 MVC) mark last year.

Patients are told by their doctors to rest or restrict themselves from certain activities, depending on the malady from which they’re suffering, or because it will aid in the workup of a suspected disorder. But there are incredibly few conditions that would require your physician to say, “We actually need your heart to be in a little worse shape than it is now so we can check into this. That’d help us out a lot. Then we’re going to put you through a bunch of heart tests.” Because the working and final diagnoses of Brown’s case have never been released during this process, we won’t disrespect him here by saying what we think it is, but the fact that he’s been cleared to play is even better news than it seems on the surface. We’re just glad he’s OK and we’re looking forward to him playing hoops this season — but probably not nearly as much as he is.

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Morning Five: 09.21.11 Edition

Posted by jstevrtc on September 21st, 2011

  1. With all the hints and allegations flying across the country via texts, Twitter, and television reports (mostly Twitter, though), at some point beyond the decisions made by Texas A&M, Syracuse, and Pittsburgh, somebody is going to have to pull the trigger and commit somewhere, even if the Pac-12 is now closed for realignment business. Attempting to grease the rails a little, the SEC did Missouri a solid as of yesterday afternoon, offering the Tigers a spot in that conference but still allowing them to see what happens to the Big 12. Missouri chancellor Brady Deaton, though, has spoken out frequently about how he’d prefer to keep the Big 12 together and stay put, but we don’t know if his statements could be fairly applied to a revamped Big 12, or the now oft-speculated Big 12/Big East hybrid. Still, what a nice turn of events for Mizzou. Some schools don’t have anyone that wants them and are getting nervous. Missouri has the SEC as its fail-safe, and that’s not a bad spot to be in right now. The scuttlebutt is that this won’t happen, now, but the SEC needs a 14th school for (gag reflex initiated) football reasons, and it has to come from somewhere.
  2. Jim Boeheim’s rant yesterday (see yesterday’s M5 or our Tumblr feed at right) provided a refreshing dose of logic on Realignment-ageddon and is so far the best discourse on what will probably happen as a result. As far as why this is happening, look no farther than yesterday’s piece by Sporting News’ Mike DeCourcy in which he explains why this nonsense began, what’s perpetuated it, and how astonishing it is that some pretty smart folks are making such colossal blunders, here. A description of the actions of college presidents over the last six weeks as “an unprecedented bacchanal of jealousy, mistrust, fear and conceit?” Oh, yes. Get yourself more of that.
  3. A couple of days ago, DeCourcy penned an article making the claim that Pittsburgh’s defection to the ACC would all but ruin the Panther basketball program. On Tuesday, Mike Miller of NBCSports.com’s Beyond the Arc published his counterpoint, asserting that things won’t change that much, and he has a snippet from a recent interview of Jamie Dixon as part of his evidence in which the head Panther says these conference switches “won’t be quite as much change as it may seem initially.” What’s Dixon supposed to say, though? He’s not going to show up for an interview and say, “Man, we are totally screwed. And I’m so outta here.” We enjoy the opposing takes from two experts in the field of college basketball, and that’s at least one good thing about all the realignment talk — the people who do care about basketball have a few new points for gentlemanly debate.
  4. In any conflict, resolution is most effectively and quickly achieved when the belligerents and all immediately affected parties put themselves in a room, come together face to face, and have it out. The Big East had its “come-to-Jesus” meeting last night, according to the great Dick Weiss of the New York Daily News. According to Weiss, this get-together of bigwigs resulted in every remaining school — yes, both the football and non-football schools – pledging to stay put as the conference now puts the full-court press on a couple of candidates to take the places of Syracuse and Pitt. Among the candidates mentioned: Army, Navy, and Air Force. That is not a typo.
  5. Before the Pac-12 slammed its doors shut last night, Oklahoma had been rumored to be headed everywhere from the Pac-12 to the Big Ten to the SEC or a sewn-together, refurbished Big 12. That last option, according to Barry Tramel of The Oklahoman, is only possible if current Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe is removed and Texas’ new Longhorn Network is restricted in exactly what it can show, among other demands. If this was leaked intentionally by OU brass, we don’t exactly know why, since it doesn’t look like a final good-faith attempt to keep the conference together as much as it does extortion or an example of Oklahoma holding the conference hostage. What we found especially funny is this photo that made it to us (and countless others) through the Twitter grapevine of SI.com’s Andy Staples and Leila Rahimi, a reporter for KXAN in Austin (Hi, Leila!) who took the pic. Nice ad placement in a story referencing Oklahoma’s unhappiness at how the Big 12 has become a bunch of satellites revolving around the Jupiter that is Texas, don’t you think?

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Reports Say Pac-12 Will Not Expand

Posted by jstevrtc on September 20th, 2011

Moments ago, ESPN’s Andy Katz and The New York Times’ Pete Thamel tweeted that the Pac-12 will not expand beyond 12 teams. This news follows a conference call of the presidents of the conference’s member schools that took place earlier tonight.

So, now where are we? If the Pac-12 stays put, does that open things up for the Big 12 and Big East to expand and attempt to push the Pac-12 into a position of lesser relevance? Are Oklahoma and Texas now blowing up the phones at the SEC offices, pleading for one of what appears to be two remaining spots, or will Oklahoma now have to reconsider sticking with the Big 12 after issuing the conference its bizarre ultimatum on Tuesday? Will Missouri tell the SEC thanks-but-no-thanks? More on this as things develop. What a soap opera this has been, and continues to be.

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Morning Five: 09.20.11 Edition

Posted by jstevrtc on September 20th, 2011

  1. We absolutely love the rant that Jim Boeheim went on yesterday as he spoke to the Monday Morning Quarterback Club in Birmingham. We linked the article by Jon Solomon of The Birmingham News in our Tumblr feed yesterday (see right), but the thing is just so full of great quotes — and what sounds like frank disgust — regarding conference realignment and specifically his school moving to the ACC. Another morsel: “Where would you want to go to to a tournament for five days? Let’s see: Greensboro, North Carolina or New York City? Jeez, let me think about that one and get back to you.”
  2. Love among the Big East and Big 12 ruins? More like survival. The honchos from each of those jilted conferences are now engaged in talks to evaluate the possibility that they could combine what’s left of their leagues into a new one and still exist as after the conference shuffling is all through. Anyone ready for a little Seton Hall-Baylor? Maybe some Cincinnati-Kansas State? Actually, the matchups aren’t that bad, but we’re again reminded of how people putting these conferences together don’t want to face geographic reality. Football teams will be unaffected, playing their one game a week, but what are basketball teams going to do? Go on MLB-type road trips where they knock off a few games in a row against their most distant conference-mates? See, there’s this thing called going to class…
  3. San Diego State sophomore guard Jamaal Franklin had generated some positive chatter over the summer, with his teammates anointing him the most improved Aztec on the squad. He only averaged 7.4 MPG last year, contributing 2.6 PPG and 1.7 RPG, but Steve Fisher seemed to trust him more and more as the season progressed. Franklin might still have that breakout soph season, but he may have created a bit of a hurdle for himself over the weekend. Early Sunday morning, Franklin was pulled over and arrested on suspicion of DUI. As if that weren’t enough, he only turned 20 a couple of months ago. No comment from Fisher as of yet.
  4. OK, back to conference realignment, because we know you can’t get enough. West Virginia is one of the schools that seems to be caught both geographically and athletically in the middle of all this, with prognosticators seemingly placing them in a different conference every week. Frank Giardina of West Virginia Metro News has a few opinions on the matter, including 1) the WVU-Pittsburgh football rivalry is dead and Pitt would love to extract themselves from it, 2) WVU will move to the SEC, 3) TCU will never play a single second in the Big East, and 4) the late great hall of fame coach and Big East founder Dave Gavitt was no friend to basketball programs at WVU, Rutgers, and Penn State, and Gavitt’s emphasis on making the Big East a basketball-centered conference is exactly what’s killing it now. Thoughts?
  5. Meanwhile, while everyone in the Northeast (and the Midwest, and a good deal of the South) wonders what conference they’ll belong to in a year or two, Ben Howland out at UCLA just goes about his business in putting together one heck of a recruiting class from the class of 2012. He had already signed (rankings via the ESPNU 100) #50 Jordan Adams, a 6’5”, 210-pound small forward from Georgia, and #72 Dominic Artis, a 5’11” PG from California. Then, last night, #5 Kyle Anderson tweet-committed to the Bruins, and it’s worth noting that Anderson, another SF at 6’7” and 210-pounds, is from New Jersey. Did all this conference instability have anything to do with his decision? Probably not, since UCLA is an impressive draw all by itself, but hey…it probably didn’t help matters. Something to keep in mind: the #1 player in the nation, 6’6”, 215-pound SF Shabazz Muhammad, apparently has the Bruins in his final five.
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Morning Five: 09.19.11 Edition

Posted by jstevrtc on September 19th, 2011

It’s a new week, and a new college basketball landscape. As last week closed, our game continued to be slowly and forcibly moved toward the feared four-headed superconference era, with the Pac-12, SEC, Big Ten, and…wait, who was the fourth supposed to be? The Big East? The ACC? It was likely that those two would have had to fight it out (or combine) for survival, but the first blow struck in that conflict may turn out to be the killing shot. Over the weekend and seemingly from nowhere, the ACC made a pre-emptive strike on (sucker-punched?) the Big East, absorbing Syracuse and Pittsburgh like the Germans taking Danzig. The Big East — at least the glorious version of it we’ve enjoyed all our lives — is in serious trouble, with the code called and the crash cart on the way. On Friday, we were all talking about how those ineligible St. John’s recruits would affect their Big East campaign for 2011-12. We never thought we’d wake up today doubting there would even BE a Big East in three years. Is the Big East now the Big Deceased? Or, as Dan Wetzel tweeted, will it survive but simply be “less big and less east?” All that in mind, you can guess what dominates the M5 this morning:

  1. We first heard news of the defections of Syracuse and Pittsburgh via CBSSports.com’s Brett McMurphy. On Saturday he also speculated on how he thinks the rest of the conferences will respond, as well as how those football-independent (but Big East basketball) Irish of Notre Dame might have their hands forced into choosing a new home. By the way, Coach K is totally on board with this whole expansion thing, is proud of the ACC leadership on the matter, and wants two more (Hi, Connecticut and Rutgers!). Not so keen on the idea are ESPN’s Dana O’Neil and evidently some guy named Jim freakin’ Boeheim.
  2. It’s tough not to be a little disillusioned after reading Sunday’s article by Dennis Dodd, another CBSSports.com college football scribe, but that doesn’t mean his assertion is wrong regarding how difficult it is to find an honest man among those who run college sports. Some interesting takes therein, from Louisville AD Tom Jurich and an unnamed Big East source, especially. If you doubt that the conference realignment mess is about pride, power, and money, click the link above and get back to us when you’re done.
  3. The case of Pittsburgh is an interesting one, because the Panthers happen to be led by one Jamie Dixon. An RTC favorite, the man unquestionably has one of the more clever minds in the basketball coaching biz, and he’s a young coach who — sorry, Pitt supporters — won’t be a Panther forever. Could the move to the ACC also be the thing that soon prompts Dixon to accept an offer from one of his many suitors? Sporting News’ Mike DeCourcy spells out how the defection from the Big East might sound the death knell for Pittsburgh basketball.
  4. Since we referenced them earlier, what do you do if you’re Louisville? The ACC has its own agenda and would probably prefer to add UConn and Rutgers. Would the Big Ten or SEC welcome U of L? How proactive can the Cardinals actually be? Can they afford to wait until the Big East disintegrates, or see if it survives by adding schools that could actually turn a profit? And if the conference survives, who does it go after? TCU is on the way (*forehead slap*). But on who else should the Big East set its sights? East Carolina? Xavier?!? BUTLER??? [Ed. Note: Butler. In the Big East. Whoa, time out on the floor. Getting...dizzy...may pass out...]
  5. The final item here far supersedes in importance anything mentioned above, though the irony cannot be ignored. The moves out of the Big East by Syracuse and Pittsburgh first came to light on Friday, and people quickly began speculating as to whether it signalled the end of the conference. On Friday, Dave Gavitt, the man considered to be the founder of the Big East Conference, died at his home in Rhode Island of congestive heart failure, aged 73. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family today. Requiescat in pace, sir.
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Morning Five: 09.15.11 Edition

Posted by jstevrtc on September 15th, 2011

  1. SI.com’s Andy Glockner (one of RTC’s favorites) has summarized the prospects of no less than 46 teams for the upcoming season…Twitter-style. Or, as he says in his intro, heh heh, “We’re going to do it quickly, @AndyGlockner-style.” A fun read, this, and a darn good follow if you’re not already among his legion of almost 6,000. This kind of thing isn’t easy, since the 140-character limit forces you to take what you’re trying to say and distill it down to the smallest thimbleful of demi-glace of your original point, and so many teams (Georgetown, this means you) have had extremely interesting summers. Shameless self-promotion: for the past couple of seasons we’ve tweeted a preview (a series we cleverly call “Tweeting the Preview”) every hour on the hour for every Division I team in the 344 hours leading up to the tipoff of the season’s first game, and we’ll be doing it again this October.
  2. Florida State AD Randy Spetman remarked yesterday that while his school was keeping a sharp eye on all the conference realignment happenings and an ear tuned into the latest gossip, FSU is “comfortable in the ACC.” There’s certainly no reason to doubt that, but…it’s that word. “Comfortable.” We’ve known a lot of relationships in our day in which each partner felt comfortable but one of them bolted as quickly as they could when a more exciting option came along. And in the conference realignment game, excitement comes in the form of TV network dollars. With the kind of cash that’s being thrown around these days in the SEC (and Pac-12), which now needs a 14th member, we wouldn’t be surprised if FSU’s seat at the ACC table started to feel a little less comfortable and more on the lumpy side in the near future.
  3. Dan Wiederer has covered the ACC for the past seven seasons for the Fayetteville Observer and, because of both his insight and his humor, has been a required read for any college basketball lover — especially those territorial Tobacco Road types — over that time span. He’s soon leaving his post there to cover something called the Minnesota Vikings (anyone?) for the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, and he hasn’t much time left. In one of his last articles for the FO, he recalls his five greatest moments during his seven-year run of chronicling ACC basketball. RTC is sorry to see this defection, another example of college basketball suffering at the hands of a football-related decision. Good luck at the new gig, Mr. W, and tell Tubby we said “‘Sup.” He’ll probably play that game, you know, where he acts like he doesn’t know us…
  4. Right now we’re in one of those stretches on the calendar in which one usually sees an increase in the rate of stories about ballers getting into some mischief and ending up suspended for, say, an exhibition game and the season opener. Hey, it happens — these guys are back at school, they’re going to parties, the season is still weeks away, coaches are off recruiting, and all that. Hope we’re not jinxing it, but there hasn’t been much of that so far this year. Not that they’re particularly trouble-prone, but Lorenzo Romar has his charges at Washington occupying their time by helping out at various charities in the community. That alone would merit a link here, but the article also has a small photo of Desmond Simmons, Scott Suggs, and Darnell Gant wearing high heels. It was for a good cause, but we’re sorry, fellas. We couldn’t resist. You can probably expect to see enlarged versions of it at some road games this year, but because it was part of a charity appearance, you gents should be proud.
  5. Even though the NCAA has asked him not to discuss the matter, Missouri head coach Frank Haith told StLToday.com that he “did nothing wrong at the University of Miami.” This is noteworthy because it’s the first public denial that we’ve heard from Haith regarding the allegation that he helped grease the rails for a $10,000 payment from the infamous Nevin Shapiro to then-recruit DeQuan Jones (now a senior) to secure the latter’s commitment to the basketball team. That is, it’s the first public direct denial; his few previous denials have been of the “non-denying” type. In the short linked article, Haith also mentions the effect it’s having on his recruiting efforts. Even though it’s not hard to predict what he said, there’s a pretty somber tone to his comments, as they’re written. If you’re a Mizzou fan, you should probably just skip this one.
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Erik Murphy Reinstated At Florida

Posted by jstevrtc on September 8th, 2011

According to the Gainesville Sun, earlier today Florida head coach Billy Donovan announced that junior forward Erik Murphy had been reinstated to the basketball team. Along with teammate Cody Larson and a team manager, Murphy was arrested back on April 12 because the young men felt the need to try and break into a car in St. Augustine. After pleading the charges down, Murphy paid some cash, did his community service, and completed a substance abuse evaluation program, according the the linked article. Murphy is also not allowed to partake of alcohol or any other controlled substance for the next ten months. The completion of the assigned legal punishments facilitated Murphy’s reinstatement to the team, according to Donovan.

Murphy Is Back, Having Fulfilled All His Legal Obligations

Because this is indeed the off-season and we’re several weeks away from the official start of team practices, one wonders how much team activity Murphy actually missed in serving the suspension from his squad. Nevertheless, if you’re a head coach, you have to do that sort of thing no matter the time of year. We’ll give credit to Murphy for completing his obligations without pushing the envelope on the beginning of practices in October and before individual workouts really heat up. Even considering the team’s Elite Eight showing last year, Gator fans expect nothing less in the upcoming, so we’re sure Murphy (4.3 PPG, 2.3 RPG in an average 10.7 MPG last season) is glad to have this behind him so he can concentrate on the obligations that come with being the only returning UF player taller than 6’9”. And yes, because his name is Erik Murphy, you’d probably expect an update on Vince, Drama, Ari and Turtle, as well, but because Entourage has been floundering for some time, we’ll let this opportunity for a joke pass without further comment.

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Morning Five: 09.02.11 Edition

Posted by jstevrtc on September 2nd, 2011

  1. Yesterday we mentioned the piece by SI.com’s Andy Glockner listing five teams that finished near the bottom of Ken Pomeroy’s luck statistic and why they should be in for some better fortune in the upcoming. Who, you may ask, finished dead last in that stat? Who was the unluckiest team in college hoops in 2010-11? The answer: the same team that finished last in luck in 2009-10! In fact, they did it under two different coaches. On Tuesday (not sure how it got by us), Mr. Glockner examined what exactly the luck statistic is and how this squad can avoid a three-peat of ill fate.
  2. Whatever happens, DeQuan Jones at least knows that his family and friends have his back. The mother, high school coach and AAU coach of the Miami (FL) senior swingman released an understandably spiky response to “friend of the program” Nevin Shapiro’s allegation that a family member of Jones’ asked for $10,000 to insure Jones’ commital to the Hurricanes from high school. The most compelling part of their story is the timeline; Jones had already verballed and signed his letter of intent to attend Miami a full seven months prior to the time Shapiro says the payola request was made. Certainly not the end of the matter, but the linked article by the Miami Herald‘s Michelle Kaufman will bring you up to speed.
  3. If you’re reading a college basketball blog, you’re likely aware that there are many players who are not just student-athletes but also innocents abroad from their foreign homes. There’s a pretty big international competition called the Summer Olympics in about a year, and a couple of fellows recently learned that they may find themselves in London playing for their respective national teams. Saint Louis’ Rob Loe was called up to New Zealand’s national side for a best-of-three series against Australia next week for the right to go to the Olympics, and College of Charleston’s Andrew Lawrence — a native Londoner – made the final cut for the national team from Great Britain, meaning he’ll get to play in the Olympics in his hometown. This seems like as good a time as any to remind you that, because of their uniforms, the formidable NZ national rugby team is called the All Blacks. Playing off that, New Zealanders call their basketball team…the Tall Blacks.
  4. College basketball fans have seen the occasional boon resulting from this whole NBA lockout nonsense, and another one just came to fruition. We didn’t get to see a Jimmer Fredette vs. Kemba Walker matchup last season, but the two have agreed to participate in a pair of games in Utah featuring two teams comprised of NBA rookies, presumably a bunch of guys trying to understandably stay in playing shape. BYU head coach Dave Rose will lead Fredette’s team, while San Diego State boss Steve Fisher will coach the Walker side. We don’t know who else will be involved, but we wouldn’t mind if Kemba and The Jimmer just ended up playing what would amount to a full-court 1-on-1 game while the others rebounded for them.
  5. The people who run Kelley Farms in Lexington, Kentucky undoubtedly love two things: John Calipari, and — evidently less so — corn. As basketball fans, it would be difficult for them to go all Ray Kinsella and clear out crop space for a court, since that wouldn’t make quite the economic impact as Kevin Costner’s character’s baseball field, and basketballs don’t bounce well on uneven dirt. Instead, they decided on a John Calipari corn maze, open for the public to get lost in on September 23. We’ll be waiting to hear if any ghosts from Kentucky’s glorious past emerge from the stalks. Perhaps farm owner John Kelley heard a voice telling him, “If he comes, you will build it.” Yeah, we know — enough with the Field Of Dreams references.
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