Texas Not Fooling Anyone With Its Platitudes

Posted by rtmsf on July 21st, 2011

Imagine if high school basketball games involving elite hoops recruits around the country were put on the Duke Basketball Network, coming to you nightly from December to March on your local cable package (and no, this post isn’t a not-so-subtle shot at ESPN).  After the initial uproars from Lexington, Chapel Hill, Lawrence and other basketball hotbeds subsided, imagine then that Mike Krzyzewski, as spokesperson and progenitor of the DBN, gave an interview where he said:

We do not want to use it as a recruiting advantage. We don’t want it tied to [Duke.  The DBN carrier] knows we don’t want to violate any NCAA rules and they don’t want to. […] We want to play by the rules.  We want everything to be in the open with integrity.

To back up his claims, imaginary Coach K added that the DBN would not be involved in selecting the games and that the word “Duke” would not be attached to the broadcast in any way (you know, except for the fact that you have to tune into the Duke Basketball Network to see the game in the first place).  Would you believe it?   Isn’t he asking you to undergo a considerable afternoon of mental calisthenics in order to believe there’s absolutely no association between those two things — the players shown and the school’s network?

It’s patently absurd.  People make such associations without even thinking, and a removal of some of the associated branding does next to nothing to remove that perception.  Will a kid playing on the DBN tomorrow night tell all his friends that he’s playing on Dish Network channel 146 instead?  Will fans around the country not automatically assume that a player on their screen has already committed to play for Duke (after all, why would the DBN be showing it?).  Of course not.  It’s a huge marketing (and, by proxy, recruiting) advantage.

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NCAA Gets Change Out Of Kentucky, But Will It Go After The Rest?

Posted by jstevrtc on June 17th, 2011

On Thursday, the University of Kentucky issued a statement claiming that it was in error in celebrating John Calipari’s 500th win on February 26 after beating Florida, and that in future media guides and any published material it would depict Calipari’s career win total with the vacated wins from his time at Memphis and Massachusetts subtracted.

Behold, the Statistic In Dispute, From Kentucky's 2010-11 Factbook

Here’s what happened. At the beginning of the 2010-11 season, Kentucky considered Calipari to have logged 480 wins (vacated wins not removed), while the NCAA officially listed him with 438 (42 wins removed). The NCAA evidently considered it to be a slap in the face when Kentucky had its small post-game display to mark what UK considered Cal’s 500th win on February 26, as well as the fact that its media guides and website ignored the NCAA’s removal of the wins from Calipari’s record. It asked UK to change it and alert the media that the celebration of Calipari’s 500th was erroneous. Kentucky’s compliance office responded to the NCAA, but they were unmoved and sent another missive, again  pressing for the change. And the reason the NCAA knew about this and went down this road was…a tip from a fan of a rival program.

[Ed. Note: You can read the correspondence between the NCAA and Kentucky here. It’s pretty interesting. And we’re not sure how Lexington Herald-Leader sportswriter Jerry Tipton could ever comfortably show his face in Lexington again.]

This was the right move by Kentucky. It wouldn’t make any sense for the program to go out of its way to position itself on the NCAA’s bad side, and 42 wins is simply too small a prize to justify the continued poking of that bear. At some point John Calipari will move on and either coach somewhere else or retire. Kentucky won’t care how many wins John Calipari has then, but we guarantee the NCAA would remember it if Kentucky decided to openly defy them. As we all know, the NCAA is still judge, jury and executioner in this biz, and if anything should come up in the future, you’d rather they have a more favorable opinion of you. Kentucky noted the error, didn’t apologize — one really wasn’t warranted, though it sounds like that’s what the NCAA wanted — but promised to make the adjustment the NCAA asked for. And let’s be honest — if those are the rules everyone has to play by, then justice really was done here.

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Detroit Mercy Names Court In Honor Of Vitale

Posted by jstevrtc on June 15th, 2011

As of early December, the basketball court in Calihan Hall at Detroit Mercy will henceforth bear the name of Dick Vitale, it was announced today.

Vitale coached at the school from 1973-77 and amassed an unquestionably respectable 78-30 (.722) record before becoming athletic director for a year. After coaching the Pistons to a 30-52 mark in the 1978-79 season and leading them to a 4-8 start in 1979-80, he was let go as their coach and made his debut just a few months later as a college basketball announcer for a little startup called ESPN.

 

Coach Vitale Shows How He Can Go Left, And Now He Can Do It Whenever He Wants On a Court That Bears His Name

The official honor will take place on December 5 when UDM hosts St. John’s. That will be 32 years to the day that Vitale called his first college hoops game (DePaul 90, Wisconsin 77).

Normally, a 78-30 record over four years for a college coach gets you a tasty contract extension and means that you’ll be mentioned for every bigger coaching job that comes open until you take one of them. But a court named after you? Not exactly. Obviously, this tribute to Vitale is a response to the distinction he’s achieved as a broadcaster and his service to the game, and we fail to see how anyone could have a problem with that. You might tire of his catch-phrases and you may (as we have on occasion) call him out on his lack of objectivity as it pertains to certain ACC schools, but you’ll have to search pretty hard to find anyone who cares more about college basketball than Dick Vitale. In addition to the 30-40 games he calls during a season, there are the countless other media appearances, the fundraisers, the philanthropy, the lectures he gives to players, and so much more that we don’t see, things he does when there aren’t any cameras around. So once again, we say Bravo, Coach. We can’t wait until the unveiling of Dick Vitale Court, an honor richly deserved.

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Gus And “Dynamite” Guy’s Tosh.0 Appearance

Posted by jstevrtc on June 3rd, 2011

In case you missed it last week, the great Gus Johnson made an appearance with the original “Boom Goes the Dynamite” guy — his real name is Brian Collins, by the way — on that Comedy Central show Tosh.0 that a lot of people seem to love:

Hmm. Those scrolling table adverts were overkill, and we’re not sure what’s funny about suicide bombing (we get it, it’s dynamite), but it was good of Gus to show up and play along. And full credit to Collins for not throwing the telemprompter operator from his infamous video under the bus, for being a good sport, and for gettin’ back up on the horse. Sort of.

One last thing: Daniel. Dude. When you’re standing there doing your studio bits, move your arms more. It’s weird.

 

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UNC vs UK Media Credentials Gone, Seven Months In Advance

Posted by jstevrtc on May 23rd, 2011

If you’re a member of the sporting media, and you planned on waiting until next season drew a little closer before ringing up Kentucky to ask if they could set you up with a media credential for that little North Carolina vs Kentucky affair in Rupp Arena next year, well…you’re screwed.

Both of These Gents Will Be In Rupp Arena This December, But If You Haven't Applied For Your Media Credential, You Won't Be

Kentucky Sports Radio reported yesterday that the folks from UK Media Relations are already out of media credentials for UK vs UNC. This is a matchup that has traditionally happened in December. It’s May. That’s seven months. The game doesn’t even have an official date set for it. The build-up of this thing is already like that which used to come with big-time prize fights in the 70s and 80s. Heck, we’re wondering if formal attire should possibly be required for fans in attendance. You may recall, Verne Lundquist and Bill Raftery showed up in tuxedos for their call of the UNC vs UK Elite Eight game in 1995 (UNC won, 74-61). Considering the momentum of anticipation this game is already gathering, maybe the fans should follow suit come December.

Having covered that, let’s see…Kentucky vs North Carolina “sold out” of media credentials seven months early. There’s an aircraft carrier game between UNC and Michigan State. Jared Sullinger, Harrison Barnes, and Terrence Jones all came back to college. The Final Four is in New Orelans, for cryin’ out loud. And we bet that right now, unconcerned with big-program issues like seven-month game hype and aircraft carriers, somewhere Brad Stevens is quietly watching game film or at least scanning his roster, possibly enjoying a drop of port as he figures out what elegant miracles he can conjure next year.

We like summer as much as anyone, but next season’s going to be a blast.

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NYT Dig At Calipari/Kentucky Just More Of The Same

Posted by jstevrtc on May 20th, 2011

Have you heard this one before? New York Times. John Calipari.

Shots fired.

[That’s a favorite of the Twitterati.]

In Wednesday’s online edition of the New York Times there appeared an article written by Harvey Araton about Kyrie Irving attending the live NBA Draft Lottery rank-order show and about how Irving could go as the first overall pick to Cleveland. In the piece, Araton makes a point to mention that, according to Kyrie’s father, Drederick, Kyrie’s decision to leave school after a single college season (one in which he played in a mere 11 games due to injury) did not represent a “long-planned escape from the often unholy alliance of Division I sports and academia.” In other words, the father is asserting that Kyrie isn’t just leaving school early to avoid college nor is Kyrie abandoning his plans for obtaining a degree. The elder Irving is a financial broker on Wall Street, and Araton quotes him as saying, “Everybody in my family has gotten their degrees, their master’s. We value the education aspect of it with Kyrie.”

Calipari Is Characterized As Someone Who Devalues Education Because He Embraces One-and-Done Players, a Logical Fallacy Not Many Critics Will Own Up To

Here is Araton’s next sentence in the article:

“Had they not, Kyrie would have been with John Calipari at Kentucky last season, where [Kyrie’s] godfather, [Rod] Strickland, works as an assistant coach.”

Uh…beg pardon? Let’s make sure we got that straight. Using Araton’s own words, what he said there was, “Had they not cared about the education aspect of it with Kyrie, Kyrie would have been with John Calipari at Kentucky last season, where the godfather, [Rod] Strickland, works as an assistant coach.”

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Truly “Heartbreak City!!” Gus Officially Leaves CBS…

Posted by rtmsf on May 10th, 2011

Ok, maybe we’re being a little melodramatic, but with the news that Gus Johnson is officially moving on to Fox Sports and the knowledge that CBS/Turner has the broadcast rights to the NCAA Tournament through 2024 (a/k/a eternity), we’re feeling like some sinister executive grinch has canceled Christmas next year.   And the year after.  And the next one.  And the one after that… well, you get the point.

So long, Gus.  For the generation that was raised on March Madness as a national treasure, you will always be the voice of college basketball — far more than that green-jacket-slurping bore Jim Nantz could ever be.  We hope that you are given just as much freedom to bring  your purity of excitement and unadulterated joy to college sports over at your new gig, and you can count on us checking out some Big Ten (on BTN) and Pac-12 (on FSN) hoops next season just to hear you work your magic again.

In the meantime, here are a couple of compilations we found of Gus’ best work.  Enjoy it — it pains us to type this, but there’s no guarantee we’ll ever hear it during March Madness again.

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Gus Johnson and CBS, Together No More

Posted by jstevrtc on May 5th, 2011

Richard Deitsch of SI.com has reported that play-by-play icon Gus Johnson and CBS could not come to terms on a new contract and have thus parted ways. No more Gus Johnson buzzer-beaters at NCAA Tournament time, folks.

Yeah, This Makes Total Sense.

According to Mr. Deitsch, Johnson has been in talks with Fox Sports to work college football games, given the network’s move to increase their profile in that sport. There is no mention as to whether Gus’ position calling college basketball for the Big Ten Network is affected by this. As Deitsch points out, Fox owns a nice big chunk of the BTN, and they’re also (obviously) a player in the recent deal between themselves, ESPN, and the Pac-10, a package that includes 68 college basketball games.

Johnson is by far CBS’ most popular announcer. Again…it is not close. The convnetional wisdom among college basketball fans was that the network would and should only work to increase Johnson’s presence wherever they could, especially when it comes to college basketball, and it would do anything possible to keep him. His departure has hoopheads everywhere wondering what on earth CBS could be thinking, though admittedly we haven’t heard either side of the story, and no details of the failed negotiations are mentioned in Mr. Deitsch’s article.

Nevertheless, college hoopheads are left with no Gus Johnson for March Madness. We’re certain he’ll be around, and we’re praying someone at Turner will scoop him up and find a way to get him back where he belongs by Tournament time, because March won’t be the same until he’s calling Tournament games again. If you’ll excuse us, we’re going to go transfer our old The Cure CDs to MP3 and listen to them until we’re dehydrated. Life is unfair.

 

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While A Nation Celebrates Jacob Pullen Sulks

Posted by nvr1983 on May 1st, 2011

Like all of you we spent most of Sunday night and Monday morning celebrating the announcement by President Obama that US troops had killed Osama bin Laden. We spent the night transfixed by our television, the scenes across the nation, and the celebrations on Twitter. It turns out that not everyone was in a celebratory mood. Case in point former Kansas State guard Jacob Pullen:

Pullen’s Twitter account was bombarded by comments from others (like us) who were critical of his comments, but it was pretty clear that Pullen did not mind as the following series of Tweets clearly demonstrates.

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FOXSports.com Alleges Impermissible Calls From Former Calipari Aide

Posted by jstevrtc on April 2nd, 2011

On Friday evening, FOXSports.com writers Jeff Goodman and Thayer Evans released a story alleging that Bilal Batley, a former staff member at both Memphis and Kentucky, made what the NCAA would consider impermissible contact in the form of cell phone calls to recruits while employed by John Calipari at both programs. The FOX story specifically names former Kentucky star DeMarcus Cousins and class of 2012 recruit L. J. Rose, as well as numerous current and former  players who ended up attending various schools, as  having been contacted by Batley, going back as far as Batley’s time as a graduate manager under Kelvin Sampson at Indiana. As the story explains, only a program’s head coach or three “countable” coaches are allowed to make phone calls to recruits. Batley was not so designated at Indiana, Memphis, or during his six months at Kentucky.

Batley Was Calipari's Director of Basketball Ops/Manager At Memphis and Kentucky

Before last season began, we posted a story about how Batley left his position of Director of Basketball Operations/Manager at Kentucky (the same position he held at Memphis) when it was revealed that he had been involved in a minor rules violation a few months into his job. Batley shagged some rebounds for a player during a brief stop in the practice gym, and his job description did not permit such an interaction. Kentucky self-reported the violation. Nothing came of it, and nothing should have. What we considered odd, though, was that Batley soon afterward announced he was leaving his job in Lexington. He cited an ill family member back in Houston as the reason for his departure, even though his post at Kentucky — a rather plum gig, to be sure — would have been protected by law in the event that it was a first-degree relative who was ill, meaning Batley could have come back to that job if he chose to do so after the family member’s illness had resolved. We assumed that Batley’s reasons were his own and that his hand was not forced, because no link was ever found between Batley’s leaving and the incredibly minor violation. Like the rest of the world, we let the matter rest, and simply hoped everything worked out for the best regarding the illness in Batley’s family.

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CBS Dumps Jennifer Hudson for Luther Vandross

Posted by nvr1983 on March 31st, 2011

Our long national nightmare is over. Ok, maybe it was only one year, but CBS has announced that it had decided to go back to the more “traditional” Luther Vandross version of “One Shining Moment” after using Jennifer Hudson’s version last year. While fans and critics widely panned Hudson’s version for the artistic liberties she took with the song and the fact that the video featured several clips of her instead of basketball footage CBS was more kind in their assessment of her version. Harold Bryant, the vice president of production for CBS Sports, stated “Both versions are great. She [Hudson] did a great job. We just felt like we wanted to go back to Luther.”

The Vandross version is one of four (including Hudson’s) that have been used since the song was used at the end of the NCAA Tournament in 1987. The two other renditions are from its songwriter David Barrett (1987-1993) and Teddy Pendergrass (1994-1999). With this year being the 25th anniversary of the song’s introduction it appears to be an especially appropriate time to bring back the Vandross version of the song.

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SNL’s March Madness Spoof

Posted by rtmsf on March 14th, 2011

In case you missed it over the weekend, Saturday Night Live spoofed CBS’s NCAA Tournament Selection Show with a five-minute skit where they broke down brackets for the Actual Madness (as opposed to the March kind), “the tournament to determine who is the craziest person in the world.”  It’s not the funniest thing we’ve ever watched on that show, nor is it the worst, but the Jim Nantz “golf whisper” quip and the Charlie Sheen bit are respectably funny.  We won’t be offended if you only watch the first twenty seconds of it before turning to something else, but we felt obligated to make sure those of us who were completely inundated by hoops over the weekend have the option.  Here it is:

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